Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category

Crackergate

I know the laws of the Blogoverse dictate that I’m supposed to feign unwillingness before kowtowing unabashedly to a popular controversy–citing, I dunno, journalistic integrity and civic duty? Sadly, I am no such hero. Because I just found this whole episode freakin’ funny. It provided many lulz, many in disbelief, most in hilarity.

Obligatory summary: Scienceblogger P.Z. Myers threatens a cracker. Turmoil ensues. Cracker gets poked with a nail. Epic anti-climax.

Survivors of the massacre

But this thing isn’t just crackers and circuses (see what I did there?). Yes, here’s where I pretentiously tell detractors of the kerfuffle that they don’t understand its subtleties. No, not really. But know that I’m thinking it. And feel scorned, won’t you please, in the process.

Seriously, though, (no not really) the only blameless people in this whole situation are those teasing P.Z. for claiming not to care about the cracker while devoting multiple posts to it. They haven’t yet figured out, poor souls, that web pages can be generated seamlessly via online user interfaces in mere minutes, and need not be coded painstakingly by hand in HTML anymore. And for that they deserve our collective pity. And a free Geocities account.

On a more important note, I get to leave work twenty minutes early today. Who’s jealous?

My Absence

Sorry about not making any posts in awhile. I found a place that gives me that green papery stuff in exchange for my participation in a chair-sitting competition. It goes like this. If I can sit in a chair for eight hours, tapping my fingers against lightly-springed buttons according to certain specified rules, I get to take home some of that green papery stuff. And then I get to trade it for foodstuffs, propellant for my vehicle, and many other luxuries.

OOH OOH OOH! And I have a whiteboard. A really big whiteboard. I puts maf on it. Hehehe…

Anyways, I’ve had to adjust my sleep schedule a bit, which is why the posts are lacking. I’ll get right back on that.

Keeping the Bucket Full

Y’know, after an academic year, one feels, well… less than academic.

A housemate of mine in College Park has what might medically be termed ‘leaky bucket syndrome’. After even a full week’s absence from ‘Teh Learnin’, knowing full well that a whole summer’s worth of procrastination awaits him, everything just starts leaking out. He literally does not recognize the content of a topic he studied a mere week or two earlier. And he is, or aspires to be at least, an engineer of some sort (cringe). I’m sure I’m exaggerating a tad here, but still.

Aside from descrying the wellspring of my life’s sustenance (also known widely as a very emo way of describing the process of finding a job. And yes, I realize that emo jokes are no longer in style. And I’m sure you realize that I realize. How meta do you want to go here, huh?), I think that leaky bucket syndrome is my topmost worry.

I know, mid-swing into the semester, especially what might be my last semester of higher education ever, I don’t feel like picking up the dense manual of obscure cuneiform fuck-all that is a mathematics textbook ever again. But right now, at the end of the gauntlet, with no foreseeable intellectual challenges ahead, I can feel ‘teh smart’ draining out of me. I mean, just today it took me a whole fifteen minutes to solve a simple freaking 3 by 3 eigenvalue problem. Worrisome, innit? How the hell was I supposed to remember that symmetric matrices have orthogonal eigenvectors? (All you non-math people are probably saying to yourselves right now: “Yeah.. uh huh.. yeah I always forget that.. Yep.. *cough*”. Well think how I feel, bitches!)

So I have two general strategies going forward. One is to read lots of science and math blogs. But that’s too easy. I already do that. So, checkity-check. My other strategy, then, is to work my way through five or more pages of a math textbook every single day, preferably on a topic I’ve not explicitly encountered before. That oughta show ’em! Or something.

So yeah. Anybody have any other suggestions? How do I keep my math skills fresh? Or am I doomed, unless I teach or work in academia, to mathematical-Alzheimer’s-land?

Graduautomaton

Yesterday, the University of Maryland College Park officially churned out about fifty or so mathematics undergraduates, one of them being me.

The ungrateful bastard in me couldn’t help snicker at the priestly robes and gewgaw I had to wear (and could not, by university decree, rent or otherwise obtain without buying), sigh repressively at the cramped folding chair lattice I had to sit in for two hours, and squint in disbelief as a Catholic priest uttered the word “God” and the word “grateful” in my presence together within a seven second interval. But okay, yeah, it was pretty exciting.

I was not, as I imagined should happen in such a circumstance, struck in the eye by the corner of a graduation cap. In fact, no one threw their cap. Which has me questioning every movie with a graduation ceremony in it I’ve ever seen. Now that I think about it, nostalgic, coming-of-age pop music didn’t start playing as I descended the stairs of the ceremony building either. Not even a Pachelbel’s Canon. Such a let down.

It feels good though. What am I going to do with myself now? Hmm..

I need to start finding some of that green papery stuff, don’t I? Hrmph.

Scientifically Proven

In what may be the stupidest attempt at research using the Internet in history, I decided earlier today to google around and try and find the origins of the phrase “scientifically proven”. Yes, I hear you guffawing.

What I found instead were scientifically proven aromatherapy remedies, hangover remedies, fitness remedies, alternative “medicines”, anti-vaccination testimonies, baldness remedies, cosmetics, “junk” (i.e. boob, vag, and schlong) enhancers, and a BBC story on the hue of Jesus’ skin. I can has masochism?

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Blogging Tip #241: Concede, then Harass

Are theists unreasonable and unthinking?

No, theism is unreasonable and unthinking. Most theists have reasons for thinking that a god exists. By my book (that book being the dictionary), that’s the definition of reasonable. Having reasons.

But just having reasons isn’t good enough. That’s the rock in your shoe, theists. You have to have good reasons. And the following aren’t:

You simply feel it’s true.

“Simply” being the operative word.

You were taught that it’s true.

So was I. Your point?

Everyone else believes it’s true.

Well, you’re just a teenybopper for religion, then, aren’t you? You might as well go out and buy an N’Sync album (or whatever the hell kids listen to), put on some Abercrombie & Fitch, and drink Starbucks. It’s all the rage!

Believing it’s true makes you a better person.

Believing I command automobile traffic makes me feel powerful. Those red lights? They stay red at my leisure. Beep beep, bitch.

Believing it’s true gives your life meaning.

You mean the same meaning that 95% of the people on this planet think their lives have? I’m sure it’ll be you God picks to go into heaven, or to reach enlightenment, or to be touched by His Noodly Appendage (ramen). *Cough*

Your society nurtured and rewarded the belief that it’s true.

Your society also used to nurture and reward the belief that women were baby-making maids designed by god to please men.

Disavowing its truth after all this time would make you a hypocrite.

Too late. If you really only profess to believe it, you’re already a hypocrite. You’re also a liar. Which is better? Being a hypocrite and a liar, or being a reformed hypocrite?

If you’re a pastor or minister, and you really don’t believe the stuff, you should feel totally ashamed of yourself. Be a decent human being and tell the truth.

You don’t know what you would do if you didn’t believe it was true.

You’d instantly melt into a mound of gelatinous gunk and slide into the nearest sewer. There, you’d be accosted by horny bacteria waiting and willing to plunder your liquefied form. As they rape your life essence, you’ll slowly descend into the pits of the River Styx, where Britney Spears music is played 24/7. After 4,500 years of “Hit Me Baby One More Time”, Charon, the Styx oarsman, will suck you up out of the river and cook an omelet out of you. He will use sliced ham, chives, and a bit of salt. His cholesterol is high, though, so he might mix in some milk to thin it out. Milk is good. I like milk. Mammals make milk. Not reptiles, though. Are you still reading this?

Keys and Balances

Which of the following two statements is best?

I will contemplate whether (proposition) is true.

I will contemplate (proposition)‘s truth.

The first one is like a locked door, and the evidences for the proposition are the teeth of a key. If the proposition is true, you should be able to unlock the door with ease–the teeth will match up with the lock. If it’s not true, then your key should jam as if one or some of its teeth were the wrong size. The evidence doesn’t match up. Modifying your key by removing the faulty teeth may work, or it may not. It may be that the combination of teeth on your key simply cannot work with this lock. It may be that this lock is artificial, and can’t open no matter which key you use.

The second one, on the other hand, is like a balance scale. One of the scale’s sides represents evidences in favor of the proposition, and the other represents evidences against. If there is evidence for the proposition, you can put a weight on the pro side. If there is evidence against it, you put it on the con side. Finally, if the pros outweigh the cons, then the proposition must be true. If not, then it’s false.

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