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. . .