Monthly Archives: August, 2012

Strange Military Law

Major Nidal Hasan, the accused 2009 Fort Hood shooter, attempted to plead guilty to the shootings, but was denied this plea by the judge.  The government is seeking the death penalty in this case.  As [1] states, “under military law, Hasan is not allowed to plead guilty because the premeditated murder charges carry death as the maximum sentence and the government is pursuing the death penalty in Hasan’s case”.  [1] states that under military law, he could plead guilty to lesser charges that do not carry the death penalty (which presumably would concurrently prevent him from being charged with the more serious crimes).  The telegram reporter is quoted as saying “‘Judge Gross said he would enter not guilty pleas in behalf of Hasan, if necessary'”.

[2] clarified some of my confusion.  It simply said “military law does not allow for guilty pleas in death penalty trials”.  It’s fine that the prosecution seeks the death penalty, but it’s absurd that the defendant doesn’t have a guilty plea option under military law, or that a judge could enter a “not guilty” plea against the defendant’s will.  It’s a technicality that really needs to be fixed.

Also, “On Wednesday, for the fifth time, the judge started the hearing with a contempt charge against Hasan and fined him $1,000, for showing up unshaven”.  This seems pretty ridiculous too, although [2] says the beard is “in violation of Army regulations”.




What Math Really Is

There is an almost ubiquitous misconception about what mathematics really is, and it’s a misconception that genuinely beckons a correction.  I would take a guess that if the average person was asked “What is mathematics?”, they would respond with something along the lines of “well, it’s a bunch of rules that help you find certain numbers”.  While this may have been a correct answer long ago, it is far from correct today.

Fortunately, what it actually is can be summarized very succinctly.  Mathematics is simply the process of making assumptions and proving what follows.  Hence, we all do math on a daily basis—either when talking to one another, or when thinking to oneself:  “given what I know, I think that…”.  This is math.

This is also why math courses through calculus are terrible—as they are absurdly misleading.  Current curriculum is libelous to the discipline of mathematics and its participants, and action needs to be taken to address this.

At this point, high school language arts and composition courses may teach more math than actual math courses.  Fundamental to mathematics is logic and its application in the context of sets.  Logic was essentially nonexistent when I was in high school.  Yet math and language arts classes implicitly assume that students have a solid understanding of it when they are asked to make arguments.  Granted, as we are logical entities cognitively, we are trivially masters of logic.  But in terms of conveying it communicably, improved training is necessary.  I feel the overlooking of this necessity is a grave miscalculation that has hindered scientific thinking (an ability from which every citizen of the world can drastically benefit) for far longer than it should have.  This needs to change.