Oct 142016

“The moment I have dreaded for nearly six years has finally arrived.” – Jean-Luc Picard

He was talking about a Borg invasion of the Federation. It resonates for me for something far graver.

kosmosiI am now in imminent danger of not being able to help my children with their math homework.

I had an up-and-down relationship with mathematics once I got to high school, and thereafter. It started ignominiously when I chose my Algebra I classroom for a foolish homework showdown with my teacher.

But then the next year, I really dug geometry. I had a teacher I enjoyed, but I also loved the subject matter. Geometry was much more philosophy than mathematics to me. The definitions of truth and reality always rumbled right beneath the surface, and I liked that.

Algebra II was mostly fine, but then…trigonometry.

I had a good teacher for trigonometry too, but trig was the beginning of higher math not ever really “clicking over” for me. It just never turned me on. I had to work. It wasn’t intuitive. I didn’t get much satisfaction out of finishing. It was a slog. It was when I started thinking maybe I didn’t need to pursue an engineering career.

I got a liberal arts degree, managed to make a reasonable living with it, and mostly lived happily ever after, except that one critical academic planning error I made was kicking my only required college math class down the calendar until it was in the next-to-last quarter of my college attendance. (Should have been early, Bo. You know, more chronologically adjacent to the rest of your math education?)

The class was called Business Calculus, and it’s what you took if you weren’t going to enter the Calculus I-IV sequence. A kindly high school teacher a handful of years from retirement taught it, and I was the only upperclassman in it. I sweated and bled for the B I got in that class—one of the hardest-earned grades I ever received—as the kids around me sighed, propped their heads on their elbows, and effortlessly filled in the blanks on exams.

Grrr. Let’s write essays next, you little snot-nose.

I am prouder of that B than I am many of my As.

Now my younger son is well into algebra, and my older son is knocking on trig. Thankfully, they’re mostly proceeding apace. But we’re already down to about 50% whether I’ll be able to answer a math homework question (or point in the right direction) without further research, and Nate’s only in ninth grade.

May be time for Dad to find a book or two of his own.

 Posted by at 10:31 am
Sep 212016

“What we should be doing is much simpler: Chilling the hell out before this gets even more insane than it has already.” – Katherine Timpf


Dear readers, we’re not, you and I, now or anytime soon, going to have an “honest conversation” about or “real look” at or talk about “social justice” for my alleged “microaggressions,” “white privilege,” “mansplaining,” “cultural insensitivity,” or anything else in this vein. (You may have rattled off two or three more that I’m forgetting.)

I don’t have any patience left for this sort of self-styled sociocultural warrior nag who eagerly and repeatedly invites me to consider what prejudices and other shortcomings may lurk in my foul soul, even without me knowing they’re there, because I’m a white male. (Throw Protestant and straight in there too, if you like.)

Mind, it’s not that I couldn’t possibly care about, to some degree, some of the ideas these people raise. It’s that my disgust for their glee in inviting me to consider these alleged character defects now quickly overwhelms any desire I have to carefully examine what they’re saying.

After all, I know that the conscious, overt way I treat people—professionally, personally, however—constitutes (at least) a very large majority of my total behavior toward them, and I further know that it is fine. My enthusiasm for punctilious scolds supposedly zinging me with just how horribly wrong I am, in agonizing, peer-reviewed, hand-wringing detail, is limited.

Perhaps the finger-wagging is so prominent because the story is thin? Didn’t Shakespeare have something to say about that?

To anyone spun up about this kind of thing: I invite you to consider whether you may be minimizing the genuine struggles of rights and privileges people have overcome, particularly in recent history, and to what degree. I further invite you to consider whether there are any other problems—perhaps bigger problems that don’t take so long to explain, and that may have principals besides white men?—that may be worthy of your attention.

And that’s just what I’m going to do here at BoWilliams.com. The overzealous PC hysteria was funny for a while, but there’s really only one joke, and it’s not funny anymore.

 Posted by at 4:17 pm
Jul 062016

This is one of my favorite photographs. It’s a self-portrait of Tracy Caldwell Dyson aboard the International Space Station in 2010, two weeks before she came home. Tracy Caldwell Dyson, who would have so totally been my girlfriend except that we grew up on opposite sides of the country and did completely different things, has […]

 Posted by at 11:08 am
May 312016

Oh, I loved you so, Windows Phone. I was certain we’d be happy together forever. To be fair, there were minor issues from the start, but we either minimized or worked through them together, as young couples should. However, when we began to have serious problems, I consistently felt more committed to the relationship than […]

 Posted by at 12:07 pm

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