Category Archives: textbook

Stop That Artist!


Another Trolling book about a rabbit. Note that I don’t have the actual book, so I’ve got to do with this cover and the WorldCat summary:”Mrs. Baker and Jane realize they will have to feed a hungry rabbit so he will stop destroying the roses in the garden.”

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A bus from “shicagoe”

My grand mother’s house is full of discarded teaching and educational methods and trends from her decades of working in a public school. One of them is a stack of little books written in the “Initial Teaching Alphabet“, which was sortof a quasi-reformed spelling and writing style to help children learn English without reference to the obnoxious spelling of English. It has evidently faded out of any practical use.

Here is the book cover in question:


If anyone is interested, I will scan the rest of it (it’s a small, short book) and provide comments on it.

Time marches on

In the continuing series of odd textbook and other educational matter, Time and Beyond:


Other than being published by Allyn and Bacon with a copyright of 1978, I cannot find anything on this online. Was it about learning to tell time? Time management? Time itself? New Math? Time may tell, if anyone has the time to find out and put it online, or takes the time to comment.

I will not make any more “time” jokes, since the indisputed king of them is Cliff Johnson of “3 in Three” fame. I will ask: Why is there a hole in the center of the clock face, where the stems of the hands would go? Why is the stem of the pocketwatch off centered? Shouldn’t it be divided in half? For that matter, shouldn’t the number 12 at the top?

I would like to know – seriously – what the “beyond” referenced by the title is.

And, as the Days go By…

…ephemera evaporates.

As a student I never particularly thought of schoolbooks as ephemera (not that I knew that word untill I ran across Prelinger and his Archive). They were part of the school and the school had been for decades, and seemed like it would never go anywhere. I do not remember my school books very well, even my college ones from the early days when I was looking around at different majors and taking gen. ed. courses. Some stick out as being particularly noteworthy, such as the edition of Patterns for a Purpose that was published right after 9/11. That one I no longer have, unfortunately. I fantasize about buying a used copy of it and rereading it.

Anyway, as I riffle through old matter from my grand mother who, I have mentioned in previous posts, worked at a public school for an even 20 years, I find these old educational materials she saved for one reason or another. Her tenure there was from the mid sixties to the mid eighties (before I was born) and so the tenor and style of the materials is of those decades. The matter she brought home were those type of things that school students now I suppose still regard as permanent parts of the background, like I did.

Previously I have featured a metric conversion notification card from the 1970s and wished for the past I was not a part of. Of course, I am more than happy to be living in the present when (to name one thing) AIDS is far better understood and treated than “back then”. Only I wish I could take a day trip back to the school when these books were in use and see the full panoply in use: teacher’s editions, student copies, workbooks, handouts, module tests, answer keys, everything. These alone would be amazing to see, along with the probably disturbing lack of employee screening for sex offenders.

Click any image for a full size view.

textbook1The philosophy of education of the times (which I only can guess at) seems embodied in these names. “Timetouchers”? “Dreamstalkers”? Were these learning styles? Characters in stories? Normally the names would be so outlandish I would have a field day satyrizing them, but I’m just too nostalgical for a time I probably shouldn’t be for. The cover looks like one of those notorious “1960s” jukeboxes. You know the ones that have neon and actual black records in them.

textbook2Linescapes admirably describes the cover art. The next image is from the back of this book and you will notice that, when put together, they have a feeling of movement from left to right. Almost a “whoosh!”. Spindrift is an actual word, describing the seawater blown off the tops of waves by the wind. Trajectories are of course the angle and direction of projectiles fired. I do not know what the number seven is. Book seven? Desk seven? The answer was ephemeral and is almost certainly beyond recovery. Question: Why is this resource book title set in italic instead of roman?

textbook3On account of the firm that published these, “The Economy Company” of Oklahoma City, dissolving or being bought out before the advent of digitization and especially the Internet, there is nothing on the books or publisher easily found. Only empty WorldCat files for them with no information. Do any readers of this blog post remember using these textbooks? Does anyone have an intact one somewhere? What happened to the company archives of this firm? Dumpstered?

textbook4This is the cover for Dreamstalkers. The size of the image is different because it was printed on smaller dimensioned paper. How I wish it was the actual book and not just the stripped cover! I have to admit the cover looks reminiscent of the logo of WikipediA’s Wikimedia Foundation. It also makes me think of scifi films and shows where the people’s jobs or positions in future society would be indicated by geometric patterns on their clothes. Maybe it’s a thistle head? Or… an opium poppy.

textbook5Here are some more. Earthrise is the name of a famous photograph taken from the Moon by an Apollo team and returned to Earth for development. I don’t know if that it what they are talking about here, but I wish it was. Sunspinners would be a good description of the cover, and spacestone I have a strong suspicion is about the Earth itself. Was the subject of these ecology? The cover art is wildly tortuous and seems to express tension. What does it say to you?

textbook6Here is an Annotated Teacher’s Edition… because a Teacher’s Edition wasn’t good enough? I don’t get the significance of both qualifiers. The cover and the name of the book, “Datalog”, conjure up the futuristic learning predicted in the 1950-1970s of computers providing individualized instruction to all in a Star Trek like utopia or semiutopia. Did this come with exercises on 5ΒΌ” floppy disks for the Apple II? I knew a textbook like that once, and had some fun with it. It was the only thing that I ever got running on that found Apple IIe found.

textbook7Sadly, the inside is a reminder of the then present day. This universal block that is probably still around and hasn’t changed in decades, if ever. When I was in school textbooks had this identical inside front cover. Of course, being the first thing seen, by a student when opening the book, they regularly got doodled on. A few things occur to me about this that I will save for another post. One question: Why are they telling “PUPILS to whom this book is issued” that they can’t mark in it? This is an (Annotated) Teacher’s Edition!

For my own mind, these torn up and shredded exercise books are visceral evidence that those times and philosophies, so caricatured and parodied when recalled and recounted, did exist.

I wish this was a real unit of measure

I had to take two semesters of thermodynamics to get my undergraduate degree. The textbook we used in that class was not very good. Even the professor of one of the sections admitted that. Besides the “you have to know it to learn it” problem, there were a few more entertaining errors, as the following picture shows:

(Click to see it full size)

You probably immediately noticed them because they were circled in pencil. First off, the line describing density is completely scrambled. I suspect something got pasted into the wrong column during the editing process. How this lead to units of kg/m instead of kg/m3 I don’t have an idea of.

Secondly, a unit of pressure called the “millimeter of energy” is defined below. Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was such a thing, and that you could measure the energy of a substance with a ruler, the way we can measure pressure? No more steam tables or relative reference states! Everything could be absolutely quantified with a ruler! I may have to turn this into a story somehow, I just need a plot.

Two last things: the correct unit is “millimeter of mercury” (760 mm Hg is equal to a standard atmosphere of pressure) and this textbook partially inspired the authoring of another thermo textbook with the goal of being better than this one.

You can be part of the problem by being part of the Solutions

Being a former college student with an advanced degree in a “hard” science, I have a whole countertop of textbooks. I have also collected some that belong to related major and subjects through various agencies. In one particular textbook I found so many defective “solutions” I had to share them, for our mutual amuzement.

Before I start, I want to be clear: I know writing anything longer than a page is asking for errors and mistakes to slip in. To publish an entire book without mistakes is almost, if not completely, impossible. I am “featuring” this particular one because the problems are so severe that they should have been caught immediately by a competent reviewer or proofreader. They are mistakes that would be embarrassing to a student on a far lower level of knowledge, and in one case, are just weird.

Finally, I know the contents of the book are copyrighted by the publisher. I claim that my excerptions are “fair use” in the United States because I’m using them for critical commentary, in both senses of the word “critical”.

I found these in a solutions manual (teacher’s edition for college professors) for textbook intended to be used in a last-semester-last-year design course:


Wait, what? You can’t set a unit of mass equal to a unit of volume! That’s like saying “15 minutes = 4 watts”: it makes no sense!

What you CAN do is say “16 oz/16 floz = 1 pound/pint”. This is a statement of density, or how much mass a certain volume of a substance will have and is valid.

This is a particularly bad mistake since it, if used by a student, would cause a massive confusion about proper dimension/unit technique. Fortunately (?) it’s in a senior level textbook, so the students (and professor!) should know better by now.

This does bring up another question, this one for the author: Do senior level mechanical engineers really need a chapter to review unit conversions? (Personal opinion: if they do they were seriously mis-served by their previous professors)


Read this one a couple of times; I had to to figure out what on Earth was going on here. 1 furlong = 220 years?! The second sentence is a very valid question, the answer to which is, “they have nothing to do with each other”. I wonder if it was actually a proofreader’s query that got accidentally incorporated into the text, sortof like some very old Bibles. This needs to be thrown out or completely rewritten to not be an embarrassment to the publisher.


This is a legitimate question that deals with industry-specific nomenclature and units. That last sentence though… hardly a scholarly reference! And I note that they never did tell us what the metric system uses for can naming.


Yes, that is the ENTIRE answer.

Fortunately the book picks up after this bad chapter (which also includes other, less entertaining mistakes) and goes on to be at least usable for its purpose of providing senior level design problems and scenarios. Still, professor beware.