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