Friday, December 31, 2004

(Potentially relevant link)

Due to the lack of one-to-one correspondence of words in natural language, translating a word such as 'hot' (spicy? high temperature? sexy?) into German (which has a word that covers high temperature and sexy, but uses a different word to mean spicy), one must consider the context of the word. In doing so, one must consider the context of the surrounding words.
It sounds analogous Google's PageRank, and seems like what you need is a recursive analysis that slowly approaches a correct translation. But there's a difference: PageRank gives you numbers for each item, but words aren't numbers. You can't really say the German word 'scharf' (sharp/spicy/sexy) is somehow closer to the meaning of 'hot' (when used to mean high temperature) than the word 'Gürteltiere' (armadillo). They're just both 100% wrong.
Now, perhaps you can say 'ganz gut' (literally 'entirely good', actually just 'alright') is closer to 'fabulous' than 'Gürteltiere' (armadillo), but further than 'sehr gut' (very good, and quite high praise indeed). But if we could get it to the point where we were only worrying about such minor things such as that, we'd be mostly done. The tough part is taking 'hot' and knowing whether it's 'scharf' (sharp/spicy/sexy) or 'heiß' (high temperature/sexy). Recursion only helps if you get closer to the correct answer as the number of iterations increases. This problem, is perhaps more attuned to a backtracking solution as you might use in Chess: if one branch doesn't make sense, go up your line of reasoning a level and try the next option. (Prolog may be the language of the future. :-)
But then you have the difficulty of determining whether a particular branch 'makes sense'. How is the software to know when to give up on that line of substitution and backtrack?

Friday, December 24, 2004

A kid asked me what mass was. Just out of the blue.
I tried to explain. It's just the measure of matter, as height and weight are measures. But how is it different from weight, they want to know.
At this point, it gets strange. Insofar as weight!=mass, the distinction is that mass is how we think of weight and weight is something much more complicated. We're all backwards. It's silly that a six-year-old knows what weight is--in a rough intuitive sense--but not what mass is. We should stop talking in terms of weight. I don't care that I weigh 63KG at the Earth's surface, or that the bag of salt I'm buying weighs 80LB at sea level. What's actually relevant is how much of me or of salt there is. The mass. (Actually, according to Wikipedia, in commerce, 'weight' means mass. So use the term 'mass', darn it!)
Instead of having kids grow up possessing (or thinking they posess) an intuitive sense of what weight is and only teaching mass in science class, they should grow up with an intuitive idea of what mass is, and weight should be a weird scientific concept discussing relations of gravitational fields, which are caused by mass.

Maybe once we colonise other planets we'll switch. But I doubt it. Few would hesitate to say the Sun rose this morning, after all.

I've been browsing some blogs today. Some interesting. Most not. But that's not my point.

I like to comment. I don't care what you have to say about your life. That's not what your blog is for. Your blog is so /I/ can comment on your life. But you have comments turned off. Where am I to leave my brilliant commentary and polite chit-chat?

It's my own fault, of course. I tried getting Annozilla working before, but couldn't get it to connect to any servers. I should try again. But I'm using Elinks now. Oh well.

Sidenote: silly people I know think nothing's wrong with posting personal attacks on public blogs. They have absurd arguments for it having to do with stores in malls not being permitted to kick out disruptive patrons and such. Well, they're wrong, mostly. You're welcome to post comments here, and you're welcome to tell me that I'm wrong and that I'm a grotesquely ugly freak, but do not troll and do not spam. I get to make these rules; the mall does not disallow my making such rules. Optimally, act like this is the Internet pre-September 1993. Minimally, don't troll and don't spam. Really, you shouldn't need to be told that acting badly is bad.

(I've been thinking about renaming my blog to something descriptive, but given this sort of post, I don't think there is a more accurate name.)

Thursday, December 23, 2004

It's raining pretty dark here, and it's all dark (which is intriguing because the sky--while not particularly blue--is far from dark; not grey, but more a grey-blue white, really). I don't have to go outside (but I can if I get the urge), I don't have to drive, and I didn't have a picnic planned this afternoon. (Do people really go on picnics?)
It's just dark and busy outside, making it dark and reclusive in here. Who needs the open and welcoming sunshine of Spring? /This/ is the world the way it was meant to be.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

In German, words like 'my' aren't the genetive pronouns, but merely adjectives. I don't know if Anglo-Saxon is the same or not. My textbook isn't extremely helpful.

And I'm still wondering about their helpful 'how to pronounce this stuff' section. I can distinguish the A's in 'has' and 'sat', but the two A's in 'aha'? Maybe the second syllable is chopped short, similar to an apostrophe in Klingon. The first between 'has' and 'cought'?

then there's the y and y|. They're described as being like the 'i' in 'tin', but with lips in whistling position (French 'tu') and as the 'ee' in 'seen', but with lips again in whistling position (French 'ruse'). I don't know French.
And I can't whistle.

I'm a bit of an audial learner. I want to be able to mentally hear the words when first learning them. I guess I'll try to did up a good phonology site later. I'm stymied without.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

In Anglo-Saxon (Old English), the 'f' and 'v' were the same character. It was typically voiced ('v') in the middle of words and unvoiced ('f') at the beginning and end. Hence, the voicedness of the plural.

This, of course, explains quite a few English words.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

This girl--a senior in CS--just came over to ask one of the professors how to compile C++ on Solaris. 'It's something like g++ -o and then something' (She says 'minus oh').
The professor, I kid you not, didn't remember but tried searching online.

I tell her 'g++ -o output_file source_file' and she's like, 'but I only have one input file'.
Dr. Collins then found the command on another professor's website. And, oh look!, I was right!

I told Dr. Collins, 'If I was the professor, I'd fail you both', but I don't think she heard me. (I suppose the professor can be forgiven; at least she was able to look it up. But the student must die.)

I got to do the student evaluation of Dr. Wirth this morning. Wrote a short lecture on letting incompetents learn stuff on their own time.

This is a Java course. Dr. Wirth constantly tries to say, 'you know how it is in C++, well here's how it is in Java...what? You don't know how it is in C++? God! You people really need to learn this stuff. *endless lecture on C++*'
All The Time. Intro C++ and Data Structures (which also uses C++) are both prerequisites for the Java course. These students have taken the those courses. They just Don't Know Anything. For the first month or two, we wrote more C++ code in this course than we wrote Java, because he'd have us write a bubble sort in C++, or a simple command line interpreter in C++, because these fools would be clueless. He sees major holes in our education and takes it upon himself to try to fill them in. He's explained the basics of DOS commands and environmental variables in several of my courses, when what he really should have said was, 'In order to program a computer, you need to know how to use one. Go learn that on your own time'.

He's an interesting professor. Entertaining. Teaches interesting stuff that's very useful and not taught anywhere else. But that leaves very little time for the actual material. Several of us would like to see 'Computer Science 0001: Dr. Wirth's Rantings'. I'd actually like to see two of them, an intro level and a senior level. (Basic DOS commands are intro level [or below], whereas details of C++'s switch implementation should come after intro C++.)

Thursday, November 25, 2004

I finished my paper this afternoon. It's not great, but it'll do. I also finally figured out a title better than 'Title': 'One Hasn't Really Lived Until One's Been Painted'. Stems from this just-before-the-end paragraph:

However, let us consider again just what is now being claimed. This experiment originally intended to show that we cannot conceive of an unperceived island, and then take the principle that what cannot be conceived most likely cannot exist to reject unperceived objects. But does that principle make sense under the wider meaning of perceive? It seems as if we have expanded the meaning of 'perceive' to essentially mean 'perceive or imagine', which seems in a sense synonymous with 'conceive'. So what we're claiming is that we cannot conceive of an island that is not being conceived. This seems an odd argument. One could just as easily argue that one cannot paint something without it being painted. Surely one cannot then conclude that nothing exists but things that are painted.
Yeah. The whole paper is kind of lame. There are a couple nice(?) spots. Here one from the opening paragraph:
Let us begin by considering one of Barkley's objections to one of Locke's claims, and if the required five pages has not been reached*, we shall go on to consider a pro-Barkley argument and see how it fairs1.
And here's a fun excerp from later on:
...Consider the numeral '4'. Aside from having four points in some fonts2, it has no resemblance whatsoever to the number four.

2 Twos, threes and sometimes fours are easy to add because you can count the points. I think I did this with fives too, but that was pushing it.
And around the same spot:
So what is it that allows these things to represent? In the case of the numeral '4', I honestly have no idea*, but I believe Dr. Georgalis once said that numerals are proper names for numbers, so let us consider the case of the name 'Luca' and assume the issue of numerals is essentially identical to it.
(Interesting, that one instance is the only place the name 'Luca' is mentioned in the entire paper. Oh well.)

Oh...I just realised the title of this post isn't quite accurate. I have one deadline appraiching. NaNoWriMo ends in a couple weeks. I think I'm close to 2 000 words done. Only 48 000 to go! (I'll bet I could get it done too. Yes I could.)

* Honesty is the best policy, right?

Monday, November 22, 2004

Over the past few weeks (or however long it's been since my last update), I've thought of things to write about here and not done it. So here's a collection of ramblings. I'm probably forgetting the most interesting ones.

* The CSCI club watched Wargames last Thursday. We spent ages trying to get the sound to work. I suggested just printing out copies of the script and assigning each person a character or set of characters. We ended up just moving to another room where the sound actually worked, but it was a good idea. Maybe better for shorter shows, as it may get boring after a while, but that'd be a fun game. Like Rocky Horror, only . . .different.

* I have a five-page Barkley paper due Wednesday. I started this morning thinking it was due tomorrow, but I asked the professor and he's cool with it being Wednesday. The assignment sheet said 'Tuesday...before you leave for Thanksgiving...before Thanksgiving even if you don't leave for Thanksgiving'. Not a very clear deadline. Anyway, I have two or three pages done (I rejected Locke's Resemblance Thesis, argued that resemblance is unnecessary, argued that Locke's theory still doesn't work, and then concluded that God solves the problem. It took three pages only because I'm trying to stretch it as much as possible. Lots of useless examples which are then dismissed as unhelpful. Anyhoo...I have a Stats test tomorrow, and I want to study for that briefly at one point. Prepare a crib sheet so I don't have to remember how to do everything. Sidenote: My TI-83--normally willing to do everything for me--will only do the Chi^2 tests when given the observed and expected values. There seems to be nothing on there to compute the expected values. I could probably program it (the professor doesn't mind if we program our calculators), but that's too much work.

* I was thinking about parsers last night. How a parser could be made so that it can handle things like doifXwhileY...just running everything together with no delimiters. Doable, but if you had commands 'whi', 'while', 'let', and 'tell' (for example), it could avoid using the greedy algorithm by regressing in an almost-bubble sort-like procedure. It'd be cool. I did a quick writeup on it and ended up deciding what I was doing was solving the partitioning problem.
Anyway, it could be trouble, as such a grammar could easily become non-deterministic with the proper commands (or variable names, if they weren't clearly distinct, as with different case or something).

* Christmas decorations popped up in Grimesland a few days ago. And of course Christmas commercials have begun. And one local furniture store is doing an end-of-the-year clearance to make room for next year's models. (Furniture comes in yearly models?)
you don't need to start on my girt just yet though. My list contains items such as 'become a vegetarian', which you needn't start on until Christmas morning (or 20050101, or sometime soonish). Or donate to the EFF or the ACLU. They'll probably send me email and it will arrive within a few minutes. (I know the EFF sends email usually, but they didn't last time.)

* Or buy me some new hardware. If it arrives late, I'll forgive you, since it's not like anybody else is buying me that. They're getting me random junk I didn't ask for.

* Remember: Friday is Buy Nothing Day! _Don't_ _buy_ _anything_. (Charitable donations aren't consider purchases in my book. Keep sending money to the EFF!

Monday, November 08, 2004

A couple days ago, my brother was playing around with one of the other students' phone, trying to guess the phone's password for fun. He didn't get it, but he got close, apparently.
Today, when the guy entered his password a few seats away from my brother, my brother asked to try guessing again.
A moment later, the phone was unlocked.
So the guy changed his password. My brother got that one on the first try.

Here's a hint for you: if your telephone beeps in a different tone for each number, your password is not secure. People who know music can get it just by listening to you type it in.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

The Blogspot article Blog The Vote has links to search Google for "I voted for Kerry" and "I voted for Bush" restricted to the Blogspot domain. Currently, Bush (131) is far ahead of Kerry (47) (especially if you add in 'George W. Bush'), and in second place is my guy: "I voted for Nader" (101).
Somehow I don't think it's a very representative sample.

Of course, following this post I should show up on all three lists, but I'm only three votes, so it doesn't make a difference.

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Browsing through one of my old websites, I came across the dumb little section discussing some mathness. It also includes this gem:

Why I like math:
* It's logical, unlike most Humans I've met.
* It's useful, unlike most Humans I've met.
* It's efficient, unlike most Humans I've met.
* You don't need to learn to spell, unlike most Humans I've met.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I'm trying to find a class or two to fill my schedule next semester. I only need one three-credit-hour-course to graduate, but I can take eleven credit hours for the same price.
I'm planning on taking German I (3ch), and at least one other course, but nearly all courses are three credit hours, so I may end up with just nine hours.
There are a couple courses I'd be somewhat interested in taking, and a bunch I just find interesting:

ENGL 3470 - Modern Fantasy (3ch) (writing intensive)

Course description: History, development, types, and nature of fantasy during past century.
Not at a bad time for me (1100h MWF), and I meet the requirements. Sounds like a nice idea, but looks overly focused on the history of modern fantasy (which if probably fascinating, but I don't care that much).

ENGL 3480 - Science Fiction (3ch) (writing intensive)

Course description: Development of genre from turn of century.
My brother once took this, and it didn't sound extremely interesting, but could be good. Sadly, however, it's early on Tuesday and Thursday. My other two courses are MW and MWF.

CSCI 6905 - Topics in Computer Science (3ch)

This is taught by a professor I like (he's tough, but in a good way). I'm not sure what course it is, as the topic varies, but he once taught it as a cryptography course, and I suspect this is the same. It's also Tuesday and Thursday, but later in the afternoon. The main problem, however, is that it's a graduate course. I'm not a great programmer or mathematician, so I'm not sure how well I could do, even if I manage to get permission to take it.

ECON 2133 - Principles of Macroeconomics (3ch)

I really liked microeconomics, so maybe macro would be groovy too. But it probably depends largely on the professor, and I don't know any of these guys.

FREN 1001 - French Level I (3ch)

Why not take /two/ languages, right? Two problems: I have no idea how hard language courses are, and this one would be at 0900h MWF. My brother wouldn't appreciate being forced to leave at 0815h three days a week.

MLSC 1004 - Basic Soldier Skills (2ch)

Course description: Emphasis on early development of leadership and soldier skills. Training is introductory in scope and includes leadership, written communications, first aid, and general military subjects. Leadership labs include drills,physical conditioning, and specialized topics that cannot be adequately covered in classrooms.
Clearly, I'm getting desperate, but it is a two-hour course, which is just what I need.
Luckily, it requires a lab (0ch) that overlaps with my one required course. So I can't take this.

THEA 1000 - Intro to Theatre (3ch)

Course description: Audience's appreciation of art of playwright, actor, director, and designer. Emphasis on development of western drama and theatrical arts in general.
For non-theatre arts majors.
A theatre course could be nice, but this is the only one a non-major has any hope of getting into from what I've heard. Really, this looks like a lame course. Forget I even brought it up.

Four credit-hour courses are more common than one- and two-credit-hour courses, so it may be best to do something like that, but all I can think of is physics, either general or possibly physics of sound.

DRED 2000 - Introduction to Driver and Traffic Safety Education

Course description: Current concepts in driver and traffic safety education.
Course prerequisites: Valid driver's license.
So you aren't allowed to take it until after you have a licence? I now understand why nobody in the area drives well.

MATH 1050 - Explorations in Mathematics (3ch)

Course description: Broad overview of mathematics and its relevance to life. Selected topics include at least four of the following: algebraic concepts, geometry, set theory and logic, number theory, discrete mathematics, statistics, consumer mathematics/finance, and historyof mathematics.
Sounds like fluffymath. Could be nice to do more math without having to work hard, but what's the point?

PHIL 3580 - Intermediate Logic (3ch)

Another Tuesday-Thursday. *shrug* Also, I'm already two classes past what I need for a philosophy double-major. I'm sick of it. Do I need more? (Though symbolic logic is quite distinct from normal philosophy.)

PHIL 1180 - Intro to Critical Reasoning (3ch)

So long as I'm looking into philosophy, why not this? It's at a good time, and covers informal fallacies and such. Still, the best philosophy courses are the tough ones, and this is stuff I've known since middle school. I know it will be at a really simple level, because the majors at the philosophy club recently (the current president and vice president, in fact) can't formulate a simple argument without involving one or two basic fallacies .It's scary. I'd like to learn something for a change, rather than sit around silently bemoaning the idiocy of my peers.

Maybe I could finally get a co-op job (as I've been meaning to do for a year or two) and get course credit (and money) for that. But that would require figuring out how to write a decent resume that says 'no work experience'. Botheration.

(I did a quick spelling-check on this. I had misspelt one word, but even worse, there were (and still are) several missing spaces in the course descriptions. Oi!)

Yesterday, several students at ECU stood around holding up signs saying 'Defeat Bush! Defeat fascism!' In the footer text, one finds, 'A student eyewitness said while he thought their actions were unethical, he supported the fact that they were excercising freedom of speech'. No mention of what moral rule they were violating. Maybe there's another formulation of the categorical imperative of which I'm unaware.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

I don't do dialog. I learned to write on E1 and E2, and later writing lots and lots of philosophy papers. I write in a very philosophical (read: pretentious/dispassionate) tone by default. I've also written thousands of posts on various web forums and newsgroups, which are also dialog-free.

I wrote (started) some Really Lame Stories when I was young (8-12yrs), but have done very little dialog since. Even when I wrote papers for English class (two fictional stories in all, I believe), I kept dialog down to a couple lines. I have no need for characters to talk. I always focus on describing or explaining things--not because I'm good at it, but because I prefer it to dialog. Dialog always sounds silly. I don't drive the conversation in real life; I let other people say stuff and I'll answers their questions. Sure, I'll synthesise stuff, but delivery is usually in the form of a short quip no one will get. How can I write a dialog if I can only manage the response-half in real life?

I may end up writing a rather unusual novella next month. Maybe I could make all the characters mute. Maybe I could have just one character so he doesn't have anyone to talk to in the first place.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

(Potentially relevant link)

I'm thinking I'll probably try writing a novella this November. I'm not sure if I'll make it, but if I do, it will be the most awful thing I've ever written. I'll likely try for a fantasy novel, but I won't have a detailed world worked out, and I'll probably have to write all sorts of weird stuff in order to produce five pages each day. There will probably be weird bits where I go off into sci-fi subplots on other planets (desperate attempts to finish my daily dose), completely irrelevant and ignored in later parts. ('Meanwhile, out hero was still on his home planet and was entirely unaware and unaffected by this chain of events'.) There will be rambling, semi-coherent discussions of natural kinds and rigid designators. Characters will discuss Descartes, mathematical dorkage, and metaphoric comparisons of Java to C++. The hero will draw circuit diagrams in the dirt between battles.

Basically, what I'd post here if I were required to record my daily thoughts, rather than simply writing a post when the IC went down. Bloody thing.

I do encourage you to write a novella too. It will be terrible, but who cares? You'll probably learn a thing or two. Maybe you'll get better at dialog, at maintaining a linear path in your writing, or spelling sesquipedalians. Who knows? If nothing else, when your (future or present) children (or students) complain about the terribly long ten-page term papers they have write, you can regale them with a tale of the time you wrote a 50 000-word novella in a single month. After all, spoilt brats like us aren't going to be able to brag that we walked through twenty kilometres of snow to school each day. We need some way to shame our future lazy brats.

(Props to Graham for putting me on to this. My new favourite blog, his is.)

Friday, October 08, 2004

Thursday morning I went to the Adult and Commuter Students free breakfast. They had orange juice, coffee, cinnamon rolls, cake-like stuff, and more. Only one thing I eat/drink though: orange juice. Oh well. She was asking people what sort of things we eat, and I told her my brother and I are vegetarians who don't eat sugar and drink coffee, so maybe the next one will be better. She mentioned eggs and bacon as a possibility. They're doing this once a month. Fun!

Later, I got free pizza from the TECS departments. They had pepperoni and plain cheese. And it wasn't one tiny piece per person. I got four pieces. So yayness. They only had bottled water, Pepsi, and Mountain Dew to drink, so I went without. But that's okay.

And later that afternoon, the school ('Campus Living') was breaking the world record for the world's largest gingerbread man (theirs is ~15ft) and they gave out free chips (Frito-Lay cheese chips containing sugar), Pepsi, Mountain Dew, gingerbread cookies, and I believe Orios (they had an Orio-stacking contest; I assume people also ate them.) They also had a nice meal thing with hamburgers and hot dogs, but that required a meal card, I discovered. Still, absolutely nothing I eat. (I was going to just get a hamburger bun with onion, lettus, and mustard, but again, meal card. Bah.)
So I got an immoral bag of chips for my sister. (Minor confession: I ate a bag too. I didn't check ingredients or producer beforehand.)

Philosophy club that evening was about computer ethics. It wasn't terribly in-depth or anything--more of an overview of the topics--but Dr. Hull (the philosophy professor presenting it) knows all about this stuff (MOOs, the EFF, the Sunny Bono Copyright Extension Act, and everything else Open Source culture cares about), and tends to agree with the hackers. I was initially unpleased because he said, for example, 'on Usenet, which was what they had before the Internet', and used the term 'hacker' for 'cracker', but I think that's basically because he didn't want to give us a lecture on proper usage of the terms and just wanted to avoid confusion.
Anyway, he used to teach Computer Ethics where he was before coming to ECU. Currently, ECU has no such course; all CS majors are required to take professional ethics, which doesn't really have any computer-related ethics beyond 'when/how is it okay for employers to monitor Internet usage'. I really think the CS department should talk to Dr. Hull about teaching Computer Ethics. I may mention that to Dr. Wirth at some point, but first should probably discuss it with Dr. Hull.
Oh, one more thing: Dr. Hull says the best (essential) text book for Computer Ethics is Lessig's book. This Guy Is Good.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

Yesterday, someone posted this on one forum I read and participate in regularly:

Miss Bitters: When I was your age I wanted to be an astronaut. Then my ship imploded in the vacuum of space. The lesson here is that dreams inevitably lead to hideous implosions.
I, for one, had never realised the danger the Casimir effect presented was so great. This, I suppose, is why one should be careful that ones dishes never get to close together during flight.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Got a new kids book yesterday. It's about voting. It tells what voting is; it tells why we should vote; it tells about debates, and campaigning, and so on. It does one thing right: it tells us that kids can vote. Kids can vote by helping out in campaigns, says the book. Okay, I'd have said by writing letters to the editors and Reps and Senators, but that's good too.

But it also tells about how originally in the US, blacks, women, &c weren't allowed to vote and it took ages for us to get it together. Now, says the book, everybody citizen over the age of eighteen can vote.

If you had asked people during the 1890s if every citizen could vote, they'd probably have said 'yes', completely forgetting about the women. If you'd asked in the 1830s, they'd have said 'yes', forgetting all about the blacks. Now, we say 'yes', because we forget about convicted felons.

Whether convicted felons should be allowed to vote can be debated, but a convicted felon is legally a US citizen and is not permitted to vote in some stated. The author should have realised this. So should have her editor.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

(Potentially relevant link)

In Brewster, the three-story classroom building (four stories in one wing) at ECU, we have three elevators—one for each wing except D-wing. And for reasons unknown, people actually use the elevators. Just lazy, I guess.
Once, the philosophy club was held in the third-floor classroom in Brewster A-wing. Before the meeting started, Amy was laughing at Adam for having taken the elevator up to the meeting. A moment later, however, in walked Travis. With his bike. Which he had carried up three flights of stairs.

I want Adam back at the club. He was the coolest guy there. Everybody loved that evil little rapscallion.

Monday, October 04, 2004

I've been reading Patricia McKillip's Riddle of Stars recently, because one McKillip site compared her to Wrede, and I like Wrede.

McKillip is not bad. I mean, once I got some way into the book, it was pretty good. But she has the most incredibly pretentious writing style I've ever seen. It's like she read the Christian bible or something and decided to imitate its style. As he drew out the crown, the great center stone, colorless itself, groping wildly at all colors of the room, snared the gold of Rood's robe and blazed like a sun.

That is far from the longest sentence in the book, and actually not a particularly distinguished one. But sometimes she gives nice short ones. Like this: Morgon picked up the crown, turned it in his hands.

Good book, if you can overlook the writing.

The layout for this blog currently is somewhat lame. It works really well for the fixed-sized boxes used for summaries on my website, but when some boxes are huge, and others tiny, it looks really lame. I want a new design, but not a standard blog layout. I'm a creative genius, so I'll think of something.

Walking to class today, I heard a couple girls talking:

I had a pretty good weekend. I guess. Except Tennessee lost to Duke.

See, this is ECU. We're not Tennessee fans; we're whoever's playing against Dook fans.

Those stupid Dookers. They think they're so much better than us. Just because their academic standards are so much higher, and they always beat us in sports, and their graduates earn more money, and they have better name recognition, and. . .

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

In modern philosophy (a depressingly low-level course) today, we were discussing Descartes' Meditation IV (having spent the past month+ doing the previous Meditations). Descartes is concerned with the Problem of Evil with regard to false beliefs: how could the JCI God allow us to have false beliefs?
Stop right there!
What's that? You say God allows us to have false beliefs? You mean he allows crazy people to be systematically wrong while believing their selves to be sane and correct?
Okay then. Suppose God does exist. I'll grant you that in the context of your opposition of the universal doubt. But you just admitted that God's existence will not solve the problem of us being stuck with this doubt. You premise that he's a solution on the grounds that if God exists he wouldn't let us be fooled, yet you argue against an objection to his existence by saying that he can allow us to be fooled (limitless will).

(Yes, I'm over-simplifying, but it kept me amused for a portion of the class.)

Friday, July 02, 2004

(Potentially relevant link)

Study of 'sexual misconduct' (everything from inappropriate jokes to rape) in US public schools. One of the sub-headlines on is 'Abusers often males'. They then go on to say, 'Among those offenders, 57 percent are male and 43 percent are female.' That's right, 57% are male. OMG! Shocking! Clearly men must be much more prone to sexual misconduct than women.

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

This semester, Harvard is offering an anthropology course titled 'Humans, Aliens, and Future Home Worlds: An Anthropologist Looks at Science Fiction'. The course description: Science fiction is an entertaining, but also thought provoking, medium that examines attitudes, mores, ideals, and desires concerning culture and society. Through our analysis of largely American sci-fi novels, movies, and television series, we explore these major themes: exploration and contact with 'the alien'; earth invasions, interstellar battles, and other galactic military adventures; the culture and community of space travelers; robots, androids, and other near-humans; and the sci-fi fandom phenomenon.
Around 1988 (and as recently as 1997), Rutgers had a course titled 'the Philosophy of Science Fiction', as did the City College of New York. Course description: An analysis of some of the central questions of philosophy as they are represented in science fiction (and occasionally, science fact). Selections from science fiction works will range over topics such as space and time, infinity and eternity, identity, knowledge of other minds; artificial intelligence; moral dilemmas and technology; the meaning of life. (W) 3 hr./wk.; 3 cr.
Another school (Clemson, and perhaps others) had a 'History of the Future' course.
My anthropology-and-philosophy-doublemajor brother would've loved this. He took a Scifi English course once, but ECU doesn't have these cooler courses.

Monday, January 26, 2004

One person on a site I use has 'assembled physics notes' for all high-school students 'despite being only thirteen'. Here's one nice gem:
What does E=MC^2 mean?

Energy=Matter traveling at the (speed of light Squared)

or even more simply.

if matter was to trasvel at the speed of light squared
which can be calculated like this
186000 Km/h * 186000 Km/h=34596000000 Km/h
it would turn into energy

Sunday, January 25, 2004

On one gaming site I'm on, someone made a small contest. He made a list of over 1,000 primes and offered a prize for the first to find the only non-prime on the list.
The first number on the list was one.

I've been teaching myself php. Simple, though sessions had me stymied for a bit. I think they're probably working fairly well now, but I haven't actually tested the code.
Yes indeedy, I have learnt nothing from ten years of coding. Surely it will work right off the bat?

In the old country, we had a saying: no news is good news. So every day, they would print a newspaper, and it would be completely blank. Except at the top it would say in big black letters, 'NO NEWS'.

Whenever I recall this quote, I think of Danial Pinkwater's Borgel, but it doesn't seem to be from that book. Perhaps the Chicken Man said it at one point? Someone please tell me! UPDATE in 2020: Turns out it's from The Big Kerplop by Bertrand R. Brinley.