Jewish inferiority complex in brief, unfamiliar remission


Five days after the Washington Post’s Richard Cohen shared his doofus insights about algebra, experts debate whether the Cohen balance of the universe has been restored

26 Responses to “Jewish inferiority complex in brief, unfamiliar remission”

  1. Greg Kuperberg Says:

    Do you think that she would date a complexity theorist? :-)

  2. Scott Says:

    Not unless he did something like derandomize polynomial identity testing.

  3. Greg Kuperberg Says:

    Hmmm…I suppose that she isn’t your type after all. Except for her looks, which ought to be anyone’s type.

  4. Scott Says:

    I have a girlfriend now anyway. Come to think of it, we were going to go ice skating at some point…

  5. Anonymous Says:

    I thought Lance’s blog was the dorky one…

  6. Scott Says:

    I was thinking: it must warm feminists’ hearts to see these spunky young women breaking into the male-dominated world of sports. First football and boxing, now figure skating in skintight dresses … what’s next?

  7. Eldar Says:

    And what role does Cohen the set theorist play in the grand Cohen balancing scheme of things?

    More to the point, usually the errors in math teaching are already done in early youth – it is very hard to rehabilitate a victim of a foolish teaching system. Make sure not to allow math haters anywhere near the curriculum for early elementary school (this has happened in Israel once).

    As for the “do not need to use algebra” argument, I’ve already seen a room full of intelligent humanities students fail to grasp a point due to lack of mathematical intuition. On the other hand, you can also live a long healthy life without any use for history, literature, and I guess anything else apart from a basic 1000-word vocabulary. People have been doing it for tens of thousands of years before all this pesky civilization came along.

  8. Nagesh Adluru Says:

    Cool Scott, you have a girlfriend now! Can you suggest any tips on how to get one?

  9. Scott Says:

    Maybe that’ll be a topic for a future post: Dating Secrets of the Quantum Complexity Theorists.

  10. Anonymous Says:

    One “schoene maidel,” that Sasha.

    I’m surprised that no one is discussing the more serious side of Richard Cohen’s column. How can we best aid those who aren’t doing well in math, but certainly don’t deserve for that sole reason never to have a chance at a decent job? Can we start discussions that will lead to outside tutorial programs or remedial programs within the school system utilizing outstanding teachers for such students? Should algebra be a required subject on these tests? If not, what is the political process for changing the requirement?

  11. Nagesh Adluru Says:

    That’s great! Thank you. Though I am not a Quantum Complexity Theorist, your views should be helpful:)

  12. Anonymous Says:

    From Cohen’s article:

    “You will never need to know algebra. I have never once used it and never once even rued that I could not use it”

    “…who aced algebra but when called to the board in geography class, located the Sahara Desert right where the Gobi usually is. She was off by a whole continent”

    Wow. Despite the fact that one could argue few people use algebra in their day to day lives, I don’t know too many people who, when push came to shove, were saved by their knowledge of the location of the Sahara…
    Gi.

  13. Anonymous Says:

    ” I don’t know too many people who, when push came to shove, were saved by their knowledge of the location of the Sahara…
    Gi. ”

    Fair enough, though I wonder if they refuse to let people graduate high school in Los Angeles unless they know where the Sahara is.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    “Fair enough, though I wonder if they refuse to let people graduate high school in Los Angeles unless they know where the Sahara is.”

    Well they probably require a geography class (possibly in the history curriculum) and nobody complains about that.

  15. Scott Says:

    Well, she cracked under the pressure, and will only get silver. I hope she’ll still be able to find a boyfriend.

    (Now that I think about it, this is probably the first time I’ve ever had an emotional stake in a sporting event. I now understand slightly better what the appeal is. :) )

  16. Anonymous Says:

    scott, how do you pronounce “Cohen” in hebrew (if you know)? Is it something like KOO-HEEN?

  17. Anonymous Says:

    don’t worry. we’ll always have natalie portman.

  18. Scott Says:

    Uhh, I think it’s the same as the English (“oh” and “eh” are both Hebrew vowels), but there are certainly readers who’d know better than me. Why?

  19. Scott Says:

    don’t worry. we’ll always have natalie portman.

    In Episode I, R2D2 was far more expressive than she was.

  20. Anonymous Says:

    but have you seen her in “closer”? if you still prefer R2D2, perhaps I should have a talk with your girlfriend.

  21. Anonymous Says:

    Cohen is pronounced in Hebrew basically the same as in English, though the accent is on the second syllable in Hebrew.

  22. Greg Kuperberg Says:

    I saw part of Star Wars III, which is supposed to be the best of the new crop. The acting was awful. Part of it was the dialogue; undoubtedly Lucas was also to blame. Anakin and Obi-Wan both came across as annoying teenagers. Natalie Portman was better than those two, but not good enough to rescue a stupid movie.

    Carrie Fisher is also half Jewish. She was a better actress in the original Star Wars, and also prettier in my view. We do not have a time machine to go back and date her at age 21, but maybe the rest of the discussion is not completely realistic either.

    There is also Bebe Neuwirth. I haven’t actually seen her on TV, but I happen to know her dad, who is a mathematician, a little bit. I’m going to conjecture that she can act better than either Carrie Fisher or Natalie Portman, and that she also doesn’t do drugs.

  23. D Says:

    My officemate pointed me to some relevant comics: 1, 2

  24. Anonymous Says:

    In Hebrew, the accent is on the second syllable in Cohen when you mean the general noun, as in “Temple priest”. The accent is on the first syllable when you mean the name. (This is a fairly common practice in Hebrew names that are the same as nouns – i.e. yonA (dove) and yOna (Jonah)).
    As for pronouncing Cohen as the name, is it largely the same as in English, except that in English the ‘h’ tends to disappear and become a sort of ‘w’, whereas in Hebrew, there is a distinct soft ‘h’ sound, similar to the sound in ‘hen’, but softer.

  25. Bram Cohen Says:

    There are too many Cohens

  26. Shtetl-Optimized » Blog Archive » Called in for another cohenoscopy Says:

    […] Ronald de Wolf asks: how does Leonard Cohen (the Montreal-born singer-songwriter, a.k.a. my latest hero) fit in “the Cohen balance of the universe”? […]