knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
The more I code my programs for comp sci, the more I am reminded how easy it is to pull things apart. We've been working with the bubble sort algorithm and variations on it. The latest program involved dynamic memory and (in my case) a potentially big ass vector. The kicker was that after I'd sorted the vector, which contained strings of characters input by the user, I had to do a binary search to see if a new string input by the user was in the vector. And


I could make the binary search screw up. I know the program's close because it works under what you'd consider "normal" circumstances. But throw enough variations on a, aa, and aaa at it combined with variations in case and eventually it's like, "ap is missing from the list".

No it's NOT. It's at index six you stupid ...


SO much easier to find bugs than fix them. SO much easier to destroy than to create. SO totally not news to anybody who's worth a damn.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Throughout my long history with DART, I have, of course, always hated how slow traveling across the system is. But BUT it is ALMOST as annoying that their motherfucking phone system DEFAULTS to using voice recognition. Like ninety-percent* of your freaking customers are standing about five feet from fucking TRAFFIC. I like having the option. I CAN ALMOST NEVER USE IT WITHOUT IT FRAKKING THINGS UP BECAUSE IT THINKS THE CARS ARE TALKING TO IT.

huff huff

I spent most of today coding a program for my computer science class. The assignment was to implement a program that plays Conway's Game of Life. Took all day because I apparently don't understand if statements yet. Got it working though. Then after I'd emailed it to my professor, I tinkered with it some more.

See, at first I had several versions of the code that sort of looked like they were working except that they were actually killing living cells that had two living neighbors. I finally ended up with a program that had all sorts of nested if else statements. Ugly as hell. Went back in and paired it down and FINALLY figured out a way to get it to work with code resembling my original "vision". Is vision the right word? Whatever.

Works baby. And no if elses. Take THAT.

Quote of the Day:
"i'm sorry
i could not understand you"
-The DART phone system

*all statistics based exclusively on fury and are not meant to represent real world numbers
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
The School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences requires its students to earn what it calls "Research Exposure Credits" when said students are taking certain courses.

Yesterday I participated in the first half of a study that, as far as I can tell, is measuring compliance to neurolinguistic programming (or something). The test came in three parts. First, I had to read sentences that appeared on a computer screen and determine whether the sentences made sense. Second, I was given three short narrative pieces (about a page each) in turn and asked to read them and then answer questions on the back without looking back at the text. After that was done, they gave me a list of words (actually two lists, one after the other) and instructed to do word association for them.

So the word association part was basically to see whether the first two parts of the test had succeeded in programming me to associate certain words with certain other words or ideas. Cardinal with priest or sin or whatever. Nun with habit. Nag with horse. Bark with tree. Port with wine. Those are the ones I remember. For the most part, it worked, and I made a point of being honest about it (even while some part of me was thinking, "You're so pliable, moron"). The funny part though was some of the associations I made to the junk words or whatever that were just in there to fill out the list. Favorites include: beam -> splitter (on both lists, same answer. no clue, no clue) lace -> bra (horny, horny, horny) lot -> sixty-one (Sports Night reference) iron -> curtain ("iron" showed up on the second list too and I got "wall" that time) and (my personal favorite ) free -> association.

knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Things are proceeding apace, or so it seems. Well, "I will become a non-smoker" isn't, but the meme is a burnin' in mah brain. I finished Reamde and Coincidences, Chaos, and all that Math Jazz, so "I will become a serious reader again" is well underway. As for Reamde, I had blog paragraph after blog paragraph rambling around in my head while I was slogging through it, but I'll content myself with a, "Meh, don't bother." for any Stephenson fans out there. C,C,aatMJ has stoked the brain fire that's been raging in me for a year or two now. It's becoming clear to me that my hatred of Math doesn't really extend to mathematics. Actually, I find I'm steadily more in love with mathematics. It's the tool with which we seek to kill the Beast. So now, thanks to this latest book, I've bought myself a graphing paper notebook and started learning how to draw the Heighway Dragon by hand. I've also decided not to actually look at any relevant info on it (including that found behind the link) so that I can, in my spare time, take a crack at deriving some amalgam of the mathematical proceedure (algorithim? prolly not, I dunno) that produces that spiral.

<.YouKnowWhoYouAre.> First baseball, and now fractals??? I thought you were my FRIEND! Though, to be fair, I asked for this one, so it's pretty much my fault. <./YouKnowWhoYouAre.>

Also, the book's chapter on infinity was hella interesting, and I feel like the "Infinite Hotel" parable should be a young adult sci-fi novel. In fact, why isn't it a young adult sci-fi novel? Harry Potter and the Inifite Hotel. Seriously. Just rewatched some of the later H.P. movies last weekend, so the infuriated love pangs are still fresh.

One thing I will say about my burgeoning crush on mathematics is that it tends to get bruised by the way mathematics is actually taught in my latest experiences. The way math gets taught is pretty much shit from the ground up, and I feel like the powers that be either don't realize it or they don't care. Remember the quadratic formula? When I first learned that thing, it was like the teacher was presenting me with a magic wand: "Here, when an equation looks like that, wave this at it and PRESTO!" Then a few years later in a slightly more advanced class, the teacher actually derived it, and I was like, "Oh THAT's where it comes from. No magic here, folks!"

Not that it's important to be able to derive the quadratic formula (not for most practical concerns), but a significant amount of math is taught this way. "Memorize this" takes precedence over "Think creatively about this". Also? Sine's reciprocal function being cosecant and cosine's being secant is ass fucking backwards and the people who came up with that belong in word jail.

Mostly, the math thing is just a bunch of nonsensical crap bouncing around in my skull refusing to get itself resolved because my powers are insufficient as yet. Some of the highlights include:
1. The prohibition against dividing by zero is logically consistent with everything I'm being taught, yet still hasn't been explained to any reasonable person's satisfaction. I can multiply by zero can't I?

2. If I can't divide by zero, then division isn't the opposite of multiplication, which in turn starts to cast subtraction in a weird light.

3. The entire concept of integers/whole numbers or whatever being fundamentally different from non-whole rational numbers like 4/3 is stupid and holding us back.

3a. Though if we let rational numbers that aren't integers get themselves into the mix, then what happens to primes? Nononononono.

4. SERIOUSLY. sine -> secant; cosine -> cosecant. How hard is that? It's so fucking easy that I still remember it that way first and half to slow myself down every time I'm thinking about this so that I'm sure I get it "right".
The other day, my cellular neuroscience professor was lecturing on the ways that sodium, potassium, and chlorine ions interact with the membranes of neurons and getting some class participation with questions when he used the phrase "all things being equal". I immediately burst out with, "But their atomic structures are different!" Because of course they are. Sodium, potassium, and chlorine have different atomic structures. That's why they have those names. I was really trying to point out that all things weren't equal, but the professor thought I was trying to answer his question on why ... I think it was about why potassium gets through the membrane more than sodium or something (has to do with number of channels/permeability). He cut me off and said something along the lines of the atomic structure thing being way too complicated and later said that it had nothing to do with the problem.

First of all, I know this guy's a PhD in this stuff and I don't belong on the mat with him when it comes to discussing ideas about neuroscience. It's the reason I just shut up about it. No sense taking a stance you're too ignorant to defend, especially when winning even the barest point of the argument would avail you nothing, but "Of COURSE the atomic structure of potassium v. sodium v. chlorine has something to do with this. OF COURSE IT DOES. It has something to do with EVERYTHING even when we're NOT talking about IONS, which are atoms missing or possessing extra ELECTRONS! What you mean is, "You're trying to find the answer on a smaller scale than you need to for most practical purposes". Make your point CORRECTLY and I won't have to RANT ABOUT YOU IN MY BLOG, YOU STUPID ACADEMIC."

pant pant pant.

What else? Don't much like my rhetoric professor. Guy teaches like a fanboy of the guy who wrote the textbook (because he knows - and from what I can tell, may have been a grad student of - the guy who wrote the textbook). Also the textbook was printed on patronizing stock or something. Sheesh. Put the thing in a big vice and clamp down, and you could collect jars full of contempt. Jars.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
Things are ... ... well, yeah, that about sums it up. This past semester wasn't good to me, due in large part to me not being good to me. I flunked cognitive science and had to withdraw from mandarin, in both cases due to systemic truancy. I managed to salvage passing grades in trig and behavioral neuroscience, so nothing's wrecked for now. I'm not going to be able to get into an introductory language course until next fall (thinking about Japanese because anime and manga, and my degree may shunt me into the videogame industry). Also won't be able to retake cog sci until then because that's when they offer it.

I've been getting steadily more twitchy about writing and reading though I haven't actively been doing either, begging the question, "How many ways will I find to hide from myself?" I did free associate the beginning of a sort of weird fantasy short story ... thing the other day. The imagery is pretty raw (think what you get after you pick a scab sort of "raw"), which means it probably doesn't have the sort of legs I want to see walking, but it felt good to get something down.

I'm also continually struggling with a sort of morass of ideas and images associated with my personal obsession with math's nefarious agenda and a character concept that's been stuck in my craw for like three or four years. Early tonight I free associated some rants by the character who is basically a fly-by-night philosopher obsessed with the notion that the human condition is essentially an unsolvable problem about which it is both impossible and mandatory to draw conclusions. What isn't helping is that the words don't ever stick, or - more accurately - they always feel more fluent before I put them down. Observe:

If entropy is the adversary, then senescence is one of its lieutenants. It is irrational to expect the individual to give itself over, without exception, to the good of the group. It is also irrational to believe that if such was the case, it would not come at a price. As long as we remain the fleeting sparks that we are, we will amount to the barest cosmological hiccup. We cannot plan for a future from which we are excluded. We shall continue to lack the axiomatic virtues both of foresight and patience. Lacking these, we shall never be at peace. It isn't a total loss. Conflict can be constructive on a small scale, and ours is only a civilization of billions.

It's a manifold problem. Can I use "manifold" that way? Rarr. Mostly, I don't actually have him nailed yet. Also I think he may actually be some sort of neo-nihilist right now, which is contrary to the original concept. Also also, he sticks to the roof of my brain because he's a spokesman character who disagrees with me, and that's challenging to write. Also also also, I'm fairly certain he's a self-acknowledged and devout hypocrite in there somewhere.

I've been pretty obsessed for the last few years with the phrase "the primacy of large numbers".
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
I met with my academic advisor (two of them actually because the first one let me know I had to go and get a hold removed) yesterday about registration. I actually didn't get fully registered because it quickly became apparent that I'd be better off registering online, but the big thing that came to light is that the degree I'm shooting for is going to require a good deal more math than I thought because of prerequisites.

Now, that's not all that horrible when you consider that a more comprehensive knowledge of the Enemy is part of my self-improvement agenda for school. Actually, my algebra class this summer semester has been teaching me that I don't actually hate math quite the way I thought I did. Hate it, yes, but it's really more about hating two things specifically:

1) That it doesn't come as easily for me as other things do, which is a lame thing to hate, but when I'm doing matrices and I get impatient and try to do three steps at once to save time and screw up the entire matrix with one tiny mistake (it's a missing/mistakenly present negative sign a lot of the time), it makes me want to tear out my hair and the hair of the nearest fifty people or so.

2) I'm getting the impression that a big part of what I despise is actually mathematics as a discipline because I disagree with a lot of the ways it's taught. I don't know if that's actually accurate, but it feels to me a lot of the time like someone's trying to teach me a foreign language by giving me endless vocabulary tests without teaching me the grammar or somesuch. Or maybe it's more like teachers are trying to get me to a conversational level in the tongue, but are all like, "Idioms shmidioms. Poetry's for pansies." Or something. The metaphor eludes me. Math is kind of like a language, and sometimes I feel like it would be better if teaching it took that into account. I was talking to my brother about something that was eluding me a couple weeks ago and I mentioned that it's like when they teach you the quadratic formula. Teachers are like, "Here is a magic wand. If you wave it at numbers that fall under its mystical jurisdiction, the numbers will do what you want them to." Then, like four semesters later, another teacher in a more advanced class is like, "Okay, let's disassemble your magic wands and see what they're made of." When someone derives the quadratic formula for you, it's suddenly like, "Oh that came from a real place, the way math is supposed to, rather than being born from the misty reaches of the magical kingdom of Avalon or whatever".

I've had some good moments in the algebra class though. At one point I sort of unintentionally stumbled over an easy method for finding the common difference in an arithmetic sequence while the teacher was trying to show it done a different way (anybody familiar with the formula an = a1 + (n-1)d could have done it), but it's pretty cool for me when the teacher says, "Yep that'd work too". Essentially I rearranged the formula to show that you can get d by subtracting any term in the sequence from any proceeding term and dividing the result by the difference between the two terms' subscripts. There was also a nice moment when he'd put an example up on the board and asked us what the first step was:

Me: "Just plug the numbers into the sum formula and solve the equation."
Him: [trying to make sure I knew what I was talking about] "But we don't know an."
Me: "It doesn't matter, we know a1, d, and n, so we just use the formula that gives Sn from those values."
Him: That's right.
Me: xD

As far as future school goes, it also turns out that I have to pay to take a placement test to get into Beginner's Spanish. It's how the school weeds out people trying to take something they already know for easy credit, though I don't know why people trying that would answer questions on the test accurately. Anyway, I can't really afford the placement test so I'm thinking about taking Mandarin or Japanese. Mandarin's the more employable language I suppose, though Japanese has more applications for me personally (re: anime). Also, some part of me wonders if I'd have trouble with a tonal language because of my relative tone deafedness. Though that may be me pysching myself out over nothing because I play inflection games all the time.

While I was waiting to meet with the first advisor, I overheard a conversation between a professor and a student in one of the nearby offices. Since I was in the building that my degree's department resided in and they weren't talking about child development or whatever, it seemed that they must be talking about something related to my degree. I thought to myself, "I don't understand a word of what they're saying. This is going to be awesome!"

The thought was the essence of sincerity. This is going to rock.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
I'm struggling at the moment (and by at the moment, I mean literally at this moment, which will pass) with the sneaking suspicion that I can't take a joke. It's been creeping up on me through a conversation with a friend as part of a thought process revolving around my history of being pranked and the reactions I've had to same. In the past, I haven't reacted well to being the butt of jokes, which bothers the crap out of me. I've prided myself for a long time on not taking myself too (emphasis on "too") seriously. I'm uncomfortable with how the possible refutation of that self-image reflects on my character. Dunno if there's much to be done about it. Dunno if it needs to be done about.

I've just started reading "Leisure: The Basis of Culture" as my philosophy class will begin focusing on it tomorrow. It's perturbing because I'm so far despising what I'm reading, and I'm worried that my professor is going to be espousing its virtues. That could very well lead to me getting buzzed out of the conversation again, which is infuriating when I consider that this is supposed to be my fucking self-enrichment course for the summer. I've been uncomfortable for some time with the notion that philosophers are searching for answers because it seems irresponsible, even arrogant, to me to believe that the human experience has yet produced any sort of mental state in any individual that is capable of producing all the freakin' questions. I'm still working that conflict out though. Could go either way. Maybe. That said, it's immediately hard for me to take a guy seriously when he tells me, "I've got a point. I know what I'm talking about. Thomas Aquinas says so."

By way of an offhand comment made by my government professor a few days ago, I have become aware of the Mars One project. So my brain's on fire. It's hitting me with all kinds of introspective crises, though what doesn't these days? Sometimes it's like, "Jesus, man. You get hit by a cool breeze and it makes you question the very core of your being." There's four or five hundred concerns I have about what I'm reading so far, but the thing that really hits me hard is that I don't know if I would really go (assuming all other roadblocks other than my own choice were eliminated). Part of the problem I have there is that it's very unlikely that I'd be allowed to go because all other physical reasons aside, my family has a history of high blood pressure, which would present long term problems not worth risking. Also I'm a fat smoker, though the latter is gone soon enough, and the former, hopefully, soon after. Really, it's just hard to address the core question of my willingness to go when I'd have myriad other, more pertinent, roadblocks to overcome. So that's a problem. Off-earth colonization is a big thing with me, conceptually. So. Brain on fire.
knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)
So today was an interesting day as far as it could be I suppose. My philosophy class isn't quite what I was expecting when I signed up for the course. The professor has sort of structured the class as a guided reading of The Republic. That's alright by me, as such. I've felt for awhile now that I should probably get around to reading Plato. I'm somewhat limited in what I can take from the course right now now now because the campus bookstore is out of the translation that the professor is using, and I'll be damned if I try to get through this course with a different translation (although, it probably wouldn't be as difficult as that implies). So I have to wait until Amazon ships me my book before I can actually do the reading. Supposedly, it arrives tomorrow.

At one point during today's class discussion of the reading, which I jump into as much as I can, the professor wrote up on the board the phrase, "Standard of Human Excellence". I guess the text had reached a point where the characters where on that topic. The professor then asked the class "what that means". I spoke up that it didn't really mean anything. "It's too subjective". In hindsight, that was a fairly guaranteed way of aggroing a philosophy professor's academic sensibilities. It earned me a crossed-forearms-in-the-shape-of-an-ex pose and a loud "ehhhhh", buzzer sound. He went on to prompt the class into supplying him with examples of virtues until we'd arrived at the cardinal virtues. I suppose I'd finally supplied him with an antagonist in the class dialogue because he asked me (by name, which hey, name recognition) if I got what he was saying. Yes of course I did. I made the point that my comment stemmed more from an awareness of dissenting viewpoints than actual disagreement with his definition, to which he responded that he knew who and what I was talking about, dismissed those viewpoints and those who hold them, and the class moved on. The problem I have still is that I can't decided whether I actually accept the notion that there is an objective standard of human excellence, a problem exacerbated by the fact that I agree (well, mostly) with the stated definition.

Also, my government professor identifies himself as a crazy person Libertarian.


knaveofstaves: A picture of an interpretation of the Knight of Wands Tarot card featuring the Egyptian God Thoth (Default)

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