I direct my initial comments to Sheila King: Thank you so very much for your comments. I am one of those lurkers you spoke about. I don't feel quite as intimidated as I did, now that I know you are reading this message. I think we all become sensitive to criticism at times. Even you, Sheila. But as Lou Talman now states, perhaps we have become too thin skinned. It is obvious from reading some of Lou's later comments that he is really ok, but just got a little carried away by his passion for topics that are very important in his life.
To anyone: Although Sheila's comments were addressed to a specific correspondence, I will say that my general impression as a newcomer to the list (even before Sheila spoke her piece) was as follows: I love this list for the information I am gathering as a new teacher of AP Calculus! I am concerned that we (math people) are projecting this negative image of....., how can I describe it? How about this piece from "A Tour of the Calculus" by David Berlinski. Berlinski is talking about Rolle, the man who is known for Rolle's Theorm:
"He (Rolle) published in the learned journals and entered the Academy in 1685; but what lends retrospectively to Rolle his perverse charm is the fact that in the last years of the seventeenth century, he participated in a public debate over the merits of the calculus, one of those boisterous affairs in which the members allied with various factions at the Academy puff themselves up and heap abuse on one another..."
Although there will always be those of us who puff ourselves up so that the others might be suitably impressed by our math knowledge, we should all make the extra effort not to heap abuse upon one another. It just makes us look bad and we're not.
I was especially pleased to see that David Bock is a member of this list. I had the pleasure of sitting in on one of David's AP Calculus classes. His class and his teaching of the class inspired me to try this assignment.
If you want to find out about me, type http://www.servtech.com/public/jfahs/ There you'll see a picture of a class. Next to the picture you'll see the item Thematic Unit. Click on that item and you'll see a table of names and units. Scroll down a few lines and you'll see Fred Morris - Conic Sections. Select that and near the bottom of my first page is a short bio.