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View Diary: Meet the extremist left - a preview and call for volunteers (269 comments)

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  •  Here you go: (25+ / 0-)

    I'm Robyn Elaine Serven and I'm 58 years old.  I was born in Portland, OR, and was raised in a lower middle class (or upper lower class) family in Oregon, child of a B-17 bombadier in WWII and his wife.  Dad was an alcoholic and a bigot.  'Nuff said about that.

    I served two years in the military as a correctional specialist at Ft. Leavenworth and separated as a Spec 5.  I graduated at the top of my class from Portland State University with a BA in Mathematics (in 2.5 years) in 1976.  I earned my MA and PhD from the University of Oregon in 1981.  I'm an abstract algebraist.  Many of the people I have encountered in my life have considered me the smartest person they have ever met.  But I'm also lazy (self-analysis).

    I taught 3 years at UW-Milwaukee, 16 years at the University of Central Arkansas (where I was tenured in math) and moved to Jersey in 2000.  I gained tenure at Bloomfield College in Bloomfield, NJ, as a professor of computer programming this past spring.

    Oh, and beginning in 1992 I transitioned from male to female and have since that time been involved with PFLAG (my daughter is a lesbian), a board member of the Arkansas Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a columnist for Triangle Rising.  I also have written about 150 poems and create digital art.

    Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 12 noon EST

    by rserven on Sat Aug 12, 2006 at 05:34:35 PM PDT

    •  Well damn. (9+ / 0-)

      Now I'm jealous:

      I'm an abstract algebraist.

      You really are abnormal. :)

      All snarking aside, thanks for the bio.  That's a pretty amazing life.

      The media are only as liberal as the conservative businesses that own them.

      by MTgirl on Sat Aug 12, 2006 at 05:51:37 PM PDT

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      •  what the hell is a (0+ / 0-)

        whatever you said... algebrist???  

        abstract algebraist.

        •  You don't want to know ;) (0+ / 0-)

          As a former Math major undergrad, it was taught to me in the most frustrating of manners.  Or, perhaps my own limitations were mostly to blame in identifying positively with this subject area.  Sorry, rserven.

          What we were given - in fragmented form - were brief histories of symbols and formulas upon formulas being used for seemingly pre-ordained purposes in discrete proofs, often with much melodrama.  Yet, most of us didn't follow why these things were being discussed in any given classroom session as they were.  This information collectively led towards something stunningly fundamental to algebra by the end of our course - that was actually neat, and I could see applying the subject and related principles forward in many directions.  

          But, it was presented to us in what I might compare to being taught an entire semester of binary programming for computers, without obvious direction or purpose per class session.  At least, not until finals came around, when we were supposed to have aligned all those oddly discrete lessons into a larger whole for further contemplation of how (and why) a computer fundamentally operates.  But, by then, you'd already become lost in the sea of 1s and 0s without much to grab onto, and hadn't organized those lessons very logically within your cranium.  Applying all those coldly memorized items to new twists presented in the final exam required a built-up context which few of us had gained by that point.

          Oy, the memories . . . thought I had suppressed these . . .

          So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way.

          by wader on Sun Aug 13, 2006 at 01:21:18 AM PDT

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    •  Long live Burris and Sankappanavar! (1+ / 0-)
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      Congrats for being tenured 2x over (and for many other things)!

      A bit OT: have you heard about your Arkansas friend Carolyn since?

      A dog's a dog; a Cat is a Cat. (T.S. Eliot)

      by bfa on Sat Aug 12, 2006 at 07:44:57 PM PDT

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      •  Yes... (0+ / 0-)

        ...I have received contact information and then an email from Carolyn and am trying to get more info now.  I hope to have an update in a few days.

        Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 12 noon EST

        by rserven on Sat Aug 12, 2006 at 07:56:06 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  when it's time please write an update (1+ / 0-)
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          either here or at the pond or at the Left Wing place...

          Btw, I was dead serious in my cheer for Burris et al. Also, I was quite surprised to find a real live algebraist at Kos. I work in natural language semantics, which is really applied a) set theory b) symbolic logic with c) a sprinkling of algebra.  (Not (only) algebraic logic but Boolean Algebras and semilattices and all that stuff.)  

          The founder of our field, Richard Montague, was a student of Tarski. The linguist who almost single-handedly persuaded many linguists to start working in Montague's higher order intensional logic, Barbara (Hall) Partee, is eminently google-able, and recently retired from UMass at Amherst. She was one of the first grad. students of Chomsky at MIT, btw.

          More recently you could add modal/dynamic logic to the list of what we are an applied branch of. We have theories that say that the semantic value of a NL sentence is not a truth-value, nor a function from poss. worlds to truth values but a function from contexts to contexts (or a program that takes you from an input context/state to an output context/state). Sorry for the rant, I'm hopelessly in love with my field as you can see.

          A dog's a dog; a Cat is a Cat. (T.S. Eliot)

          by bfa on Sat Aug 12, 2006 at 08:15:05 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Robyn, wonderful post. (1+ / 0-)
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      I wish that I could be as forth coming as you have been.  Thanks for your candidness.  

      However, I was absolutely frightened by the two words

      abstract algebraist

      as I am admitted math dummy.  I had no idea that such a thing existed. I have flashbacks about taking math tests. :-)

      Anyway, I so admire your accomplishments and your life story.  

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