Math Problems Online

Much has been said about how people don’t read any more and I submit that it’s only partly true. Sure, people don’t read books as much as they used to, even I don’t, and that is a terrible, horrible, bad thing, because books are great, but I see it as a sign of a changing civilization, rather than the collapse of civilization, because the advent of social media means we are reading more and more. Some people spend many hours a day online, merrily typing away and misspelling half the words, but they get corrected by pedantic assholes like myself, and maybe some of them are actually improving their literacy skills by this exercise. Also, it means that a lot of people who don’t get out of the house much now have more of a social life than they ever would have, and that’s a good thing.
It’s only for the last 4 or 5 centuries that we’ve even had standardized spelling, and you go back a couple millenia and there was a point where people hadn’t even figured out that it was a good idea to put spaces between the words, I guess when you’re carving into a stone tablet you want to cram as many letters as possible in there. Which brings me to my next topic.
Math. Never liked it much in school. I’m much more of a humanities person so I kind of feel like a discipline where there is only one right answer limits my freedom of thought, but I do respect math people and understand that our civilization would not be able to function without them. Despite my failings, I always take a stab at these funny math problems that get posted online, and it’s always some damn trick about the order of operations. Which should be a really easy thing to learn and remember, because there are only four of them. But, I never have.
It seems to me that if math is a language (and math people often say it is), then they could communicate a lot better by making the order of operations clearer. Either lay out the equation so that the operations are left to right, as all western languages, at least, do, or leave spaces between those operations which are supposed to be separate, as language language learned to do a few thousand years ago.
Or not, I guess. The math people have got this figured out, and they don’t really need to communicate with the rest of us.

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