What You Need To Pass This Class


It’s near the end of the (US) college fall semester. So it’s a good time to point out again that it is possible to work out exactly what you need on the final exam to get whatever grade you want in the course. What it’s not possible to do is study just exactly enough to get that grade, mind you. I suppose it can give you some idea where a good study session can most make a difference, but really, what you need is to study routinely and to get enough sleep.

But if you are just trying to get a rough idea of what you need, here’s a table with common cases, of final exam weight and to-date averages. If that chart misses what your particular case needs (and, remember, there is no point to looking to great precision) here’s the formula to work out specifically your problem.

And, as long as I have this open, let me share an episode of The Vic and SadeCast, about the renowned and strange 15-minute old-time-radio serial comedy Vic and Sade. Most episodes of the serial were two or three people talking past one another. The show may not be to your tastes, but if it is, it’s very much to your taste. This episode of the podcast features an October 1941 show aptly titled It’s Algebra, Uncle Fletcher.

Algebra, Explained


It always feels odd to toss folks from my mathematics to my humor blog. I suppose it only sometimes seems on-point. Last week, though, I ran a series of essays about the old-time radio series Vic and Sade. One of them, happening to star neither Vic nor Sade, was all about Uncle Fletcher trying to explain algebra, or arithmetic, or something or other. The radio program won’t be to everyone’s tastes. It had a very dry style, closer in tone to a modern one-camera sitcom than anything where there’s a studio audience and easy-to-quote patter. And it does start with an interminable advertisement for sponsor Crisco. (It also includes a contest that adds to the announcement’s length. I assume we’ve missed the contest deadline.) But past the first three minutes and twenty seconds you get some fine mathematics exposition. I hope you enjoy.