Thursday, December 16, 2010

I'm Growing Up?!

It recently occurred to me that I am halfway done with my junior year of college, and will, within a very short time, be going to graduate school and then real life. It also occurred to me that people from high school  are now thinking of engagement, engaged, or married (some with children). When I reflect on this, it brings me back to childhood and that amazingly accurate saying we heard when we were children: “Enjoy your childhood; it will be gone before you know it.”

Holy shit was that right on. School is actually challenging now, becoming a cog in the American workforce is looming in the near future, and within a decade or fifteen years, I’ll probably have a house payment, insurance, and a family to support. This wasn’t the romanticized adult life I envisioned when I was a kid. Responsibilities become more numerous as I get older, and let’s be honest, that sucks.

That being said, I know I am still relatively young, but the fact remains that real life is starting whether I like it or not. While I was at work today, I went to the break room to get my lunch, and all of my coworkers were talking about their kids. This was another nail in the carefree adolescent life coffin. I am officially experiencing break room (water-cooler if I were in an office) type conversations. Office Space here I come. Next thing I know, I’ll be required to put cover sheets on the TPS reports.

To be honest though, I’m excited for the future.

Sunday, December 5, 2010


I'll admit it. When my roommate, Brent, got a Snuggie freshman year I thought he was crazy. I stand corrected. Whoever first thought, "The problem is that I am cold, but I can't do anything with my arms with a blanket on," and designed the Snuggie deserves a damn prize for all that I'm concerned. As I write this, avoiding studying for all of my exams, I am Snuggie-clad in my brown microplush blanket-with-sleeves. All problems in my life have dissolved since donning this incredible creation. Can I type, eat, text, or speak like an Italian with my hands in a blanket? The answer is clearly no. When combined with fleece pants and a pair of slippers, it's amazing I ever leave the chair or couch I am sitting in. I feel like this post is long overdue, but since I was in a blogging mood today I figured that I'd post on this blog as well. When thinking of a topic, my mind wandered to my Snuggie. Again, problem solved. I went to the library today, and I was very close to bringing my Snuggie. Unfortunately, because I was also wearing on of my ridiculous Christmas sweaters, I felt that it would be a little too much, so I left it at home. Now that I am back however, it's (the Snuggie and the understood "it") on. I really don't have much else to say, and I should probably get back to my Snuggie studying (another plus of the Snuggie), but I will probably post more later this week. Good luck to all on your exams, and bye for now.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

What do you do when you can't sleep?

For the second night in a row, sleep has eluded me. The funny this is, I don't physically feel tired, so that's good I guess. I figured I'd take this time to write a short post, because it's been a while since I've updated this. Honestly, it is because I have been so busy with school. Now that the semester is coming to a close, many of my teachers feel it necessary to assign boatloads of work (homework, projects, and/or tests), and it is definitely starting to catch up to me.

All of that aside, I was thinking today about how, now that this semester is ending, everything seems to be going just right. This week in particular is the beginning of a great couple of weeks. To begin, this week is a three day week containing my second favorite holiday, Thanksgiving. I'm super excited to finally get to spend some time with my family because I haven't been able to much this semester. Friday marks the official beginning of the Christmas season (for those people not festive enough to start celebrating the forty days of Christmas in mid-November, but I digress). It's gun season now for much of the of remainder of the deer season, and that's reason to celebrate and hit the woods. Friday night, as of now, I plan on going to see the Knoxville West High School Rebels (the school that I coach wrestling at) try to reach the state championship in football. I'll be honest, part of me (the coach part) wants them to lose so I can have the rest of my team back, but the other part wants them to go all the way since they've made it this far. Saturday is also going to be a great day. I am going to see Ben Folds play with the Nashville Symphony at TPAC in Nashville with Ashley. I saw him play an excellent show two years ago with the Louisville Symphony, and I have a feeling this year is going to be even better being at the TPAC. After this week, we have two days of class and then finals.

Once break starts, I'll be working at my internship at Lasko again. My boss is trying to get my co-intern and myself permission to work on Saturdays. If he does, I'll be working six days a week pretty much all of break, and that is absolutely awesome. Next semester, I start my Math minor with Math 300 - Intro to Abstract Algebra. I'm actually really excited about this class -  it's a pure mathematics course (as opposed to applied mathematics) and deals with proofs and symbolic logic, something I've been wanting to deepen my understanding in for a while. Beginning in January, I will also be a contributor to a blog based at UT (website:, so you can follow there as well. Other random events in the beginning of next semester include Girl Talk at the Valarium, (hopefully) coaching in another couple Region and State tournaments, and my 21st birthday.

Anyway, I've successfully gotten closer to morning by about 20 minutes, and with that I am going to try and pass out. Until next time, goodnight, and thanks for reading!

Friday, November 5, 2010

Wrestling Season Is Finally Here

For those of you who don't know, I coach wrestling at a local high school in Knoxville, TN. This is my second year with the program as an assistant coach, but I do as much as I can with and for the team. Today, our first full week of practice came to a close. While there were a few moments that aggravated me, this week was overwhelmingly productive. Today, however, something was different, in a good way. Many of you have never been in a position like I am in: having to contain, teach, discipline, and also bond with a large group of high school students. Believe me, there are trying times when I get pushed to the end of my rope. Right now, while the school's football team is still in the playoffs, I am left with a very diminished team, consisting only of about twelve wrestlers, but in those that are there now (and have been there during preseason practices) I have seen a change already. I wrestle around with almost all of my wrestlers on a regular basis save for the heaviest of heavyweights, and today while I was going with them, everyone of them improved over the course of this week. From our most advanced guys to the newest wrestlers, every one of my wrestlers I went with had improved in some way. Even over the course of this week, I can tell I am connecting with the newer wrestlers, and strengthening the bond between myself and my experienced wrestlers from last year.

Near the end of practice, before one of the other assistant coaches took them out to sprint in the hallways, I told them all to take a seat (a big deal in our room because I do not allow the kids to sit on their butts, backs, or bellies - something my first coach, my dad, drilled in my head ten years ago) and I told them all straight up how proud I was of them for this past week, and how I've noticed that they have all improved, pointing out specific examples in almost every wrestler. After their run, we closed practice by saying our last remarks for the week - reminding them of dues and other things to do. While we were there, they were all for the most part very attentive (this is also a big deal when dealing with high school males), and allowed each other to speak. I can see that we are starting to become not only a team, but a family, and I am absolutely ecstatic. They even threw around the idea to go run as a team in a Breast Cancer run next week to continue losing weight. When the rest of our wrestlers make their way back to the mat from the football field, I know the bonding is only going to strengthen, and I really do feel that we can, and will, be better than our team last year. Their attitudes, for the most part, have changed over one week of actual practice, and they all are becoming more serious about the sport. Again, I can't explain how excited I am for this season and happy to be a part of this team. I really do feel like I am making a difference in the lives of these young men, if it is something as simple as them being able to relate to me for being around their age.  Yes, it does keep me busy, but the feeling I got after practice today from this past week makes up for that.

Thursday, October 28, 2010


There are quite a few things that I feel I excel at more-so than many people, but one area that I have never been great with is people and relationships with people. Relationships, be they with acquaintances, friends, or significant others, have always posed a problem to me. I'm not sure why, though I suspect that it has something to do with, as my dad says, "how black and white [I am]." I really struggle to comprehend people, and I do my best to constantly learn about habits of people and typical protocols within relationships, but I just never seem to grasp it the way I do something math based. The complexity of the human mind and the emotional spectrum allow for such a large number of action-reaction type scenarios that I would almost claim that the possibilities can go to infinity (in fact, I could make a strong argument for this because these types of interactions are based on a spectrum or gradient-like type of inputs, in particular emotions, which are continuous and by definition infinite). Because I cannot, to my knowledge, model these inactions as a simple, elegant, and beautiful mathematical formula, it is hard for me to know with as high of a degree of certainty that I'd like what will happen. My only option is to continue to learn about these types of things by immersing myself in them, making my own mistakes and successes. I'll leave you with a comic from one of my favorite websites, xkcd, that (while for this particular comic is about love) model how I feel. It really makes me wonder how many others there are out there like me though (I suppose quite a few).

By the way, thanks for reading.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Chaotic Events

Today, my roommate, Andrew, and I were talking about something his dad had told him about his college years. The reader's digest version is that his dad dated a girl who, after completing certification for her pilot's license, flew him and her to a restaurant for her first unmonitored flight, and how terrified he was. I then posited the consequences of them crashing, just as a thought experiment. It was a ridiculous outcome. It was odd thinking about how something as simple and relatively common as an accident could alter the world so much. It got me thinking about how each, seemingly mundane, event can have a dramatic effect on the future. This chaotic system is all around us, constantly engulfing us in certain cause-effect scenarios that often do not take place for many years to come. It was amazing to me, and these kind of thoughts always get me thinking deep. I hope the same can be said for you all.


It occurred to me a couple of days ago when I was doing some Numerical Analysis homework how such a large part of mathematics, calculus in particular, depends on the assumption that a function is a smooth, continuous, differentiable function, and how a great deal of math breaks down at a cusp. A cusp, a theoretical point where a function makes a "sharp" turn, to my knowledge, only exists in pure mathematics. Nowhere in real life does a point (in the classical, pure mathematical definition) exist to our knowledge (i.e. we have not observed a point of zero area). Exceptions, such as the center of a black hole, break down known laws about the universe much in the same way that cusps break down many laws of mathematics. This thought came about when I was trying to fit polynomials of various degrees to a piecewise function that contained within the domain an absolute value term. I know it may not seem that incredible to many of you, but to me this is profound. Something as simple as a slight deviation from a smooth curve is impossible to differentiate. I don't have much to say about the subject, but this post was simply to give the reader something to think about.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

We're All Connected

There is a Youtube clip online of one of my favorite astrophysicists, Neil Degrasse Tyson, giving a interview about how the act of viewing space makes him feel. His statements are best summed up in this way: When I look at the universe, I feel gigantic because I know that the atoms that make up my body were created in the destruction of super massive stars.  While Ian and I were studying last night for a test, one of the tangents we went off on was about this very topic.

A quick aside for those of you who don’t know, when a star much larger than our own dies, it becomes a super nova. After a great deal of time and some interesting physical processes, new elements are formed. Once the star collapses, the elemental atoms are dispersed across space, and from these many simple molecules are formed. This is the basis for Tyson’s statements.

While we were discussing that, I had an enormous emotional upsurge. I can understand why Tyson feels the way he does, and after thinking about it more, I got the usual feelings that I get of wonderment and awe about the universe. With regards to the natural processes of the it, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed by the complexity and usefulness of the “laws” of nature there are, and how humans have come to understand them, especially if one takes into account how little humans fully grasp despite our gigantic leaps and bounds since the beginning of rational thought so long ago. Every century science closes old doors on unsolved mysteries only to open up even more, ushering in the new era of scientists and deep thinkers.  

Ian brought up a good point about how amazing it is to think that the atoms in galaxies far away are the same exact elements as those on Earth. I agree with this wholeheartedly. To think that in some way, shape, or form, we are connected with the entire universe amazes me. Below, I posted two videos. The first of the two is the Neil Degrasse Tyson interview. It is very interesting, and I highly recommend it. The latter of the two is a mix-up of lectures and miniseries episodes of some very highly regarded scientists (oh, and Bill Nye the science guy). Again, this is a well done video and, while being less popular than their video, “A Glorious Dawn,” it is still great.


Monday, October 4, 2010

Semantics, Shmamantics

This will be a quick post, because there isn't much to say, but more to get you to think. It occurred to me recently how important the meanings of words and the exactness which one uses said meanings are. I was in philosophy last week when, after I was giving my explanation for a certain topic, my professor stopped and said, "That was great up until you said, 'with all intents and purposes,' because after that.." and went on to explain how by uttering those five words my explanation became much weaker. It made me think of how precise and explicit my word choice needs to be as I get older. Yesterday, for that same class, while revising an essay, I found myself changing words that in vernacular speak sufficed, in essay form did nothing but to weaken my statement. I feel like I could continue and expand on how limited language really is (for example, words whose meaning is completely destroyed upon translation into other languages) in explaining concepts, but as I stated before, this post was more about a mental game for the reader.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tupac and Biggie

With the onslaught of homework this semester is beginning to bring me, I have slipped back into my routine of packing a delicious bowl of shisha in my hookah, opening my books, and bumping to old school rappers Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. This often prompts me to think, while avoiding a difficult problem, of what the world would be like had Biggie and Pac not been killed in the prime of their careers. What would rap music, and music in general, look like with these two hard hitters? Listening to some of their greatest hits, a longing to know regularly drives me to contemplate this.

I can think of numerous rappers who would not be nearly as popular, T-Pain and Soulja Boy to name two. The beats in the late rappers' songs are usually fairly simple, with few electronic distortions so common in modern rap. The case can be made that Biggie and Pac would join the trend, but I argue that they would not. Their raps told stories, something most rappers today, with notable exceptions such as Eminem, find unusual. Turn on the radio currently, and you would be hard-pressed to find songs that exhibit such raconteuring, if that is even a word. For example, Soulja Boy, an artist who for the life of me I cannot figure out how he remains popular, raps about his "pretty boy swag" in a methodical, slow, one-word-per-beat fashion that even the most unskilled could follow. Again, there are notable exceptions: much of Eminem's rapping comes from personal experiences of his from his life in the slums of Detroit, Immortal Technique's song "Dance With The Devil" tells of an initiation into a gang and the combination rape-murder of his mother, etc. These songs exemplify the fashion that Biggie and Tupac were so famous for.

How many Notorious and Tupac songs have a repetitive autotuned voice over similar to that of T-Pain? I personally cannot think of any, though, to be fair my music knowledge is lacking. To be fair, the technology was not as readily available during the mid to late 90's. That being said, the fashion does not seem to match up to how the two conducted their music. As stated above, relatively simple, hard hitting beats with meaningful lyrics were the norm for these two. Yes, they both used repetitive chorus verses in their raps, but most artists do. However, they entirety of their songs were not simply a four to eight line verse with a minute long chorus; they seem to be the inverse of that. One song in particular that demonstrates this is "Want That Old Thing Back" by Biggie. There is indeed a chorus, "Oh, Biggie, give me one more chance" with proceeding lines, but the majority of the song is pure rap.

While the two rappers do have different styles, Biggie's being much more methodical and in rhythm to the beat while Tupac sang much more from the depths of his stomach, they both rapped about subjects that they knew. Much of Notorious' work dealt with selling drugs, carrying firearms, and his sexcapades. Tupac, similarly, sang about his "homies", drug usage, his location at the time, etc. These are not unheard of subjects to write about as many of today's songs also exhibit similar properties. I feel as though they were forerunners in this regard, ushering in a new era of rap music.

I have to end early because of class, but I'll leave on this note: I feel that if Biggie Smalls and Tupac were still alive today, rap music would be almost unrecognizable from its current position. Rappers would be much more real than they are now, and these two heavyweights, one literally a heavyweight, would still be reigning kings of rap.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


With the copious amounts of rest we humans need, it is a wonder to me (and many others) why a way of overcoming this has not been created yet. It is close to 2 a.m., and I just finished my reading for the night. I have class in little over seven hours, but I felt obligated to write this blog post.

I hate our dependence on sleep, so very much, and I hope that by the end of this blog you understand what I mean. I love the feeling of waking up uninhibited, without interruption via alarm clock, phone call, or text message, but I cannot stand the fact that I am physically unable to go without sleep (or food for that matter, but that is another post). I often talk to Ian about it, and he agrees with me on the, albeit currently hypothetical, scenario where sleep is not required anymore. Think of it this way: humans spend, on average, approximately one third of our lives sleeping. With the exponential increase of technology through the ages, imagine the rate at which we would become more technologically advanced if at the end of each day, we retired not to the bedroom to rest our weary eyes but to the library,office, work desk, or anywhere productive for that matter. I often resent being unable to stay awake to get more of my studies done. With eight extra hours each day, I would have every book I own read within a matter of weeks; my engineering skills would rival that of postdoctoral students, and my grocery bill would be a little higher. Ian and I agree that when this burden of anatomical necessity is finally dissolved, innovation and technology will advance at an alarming rate. You neuroscience majors out there: make it happen (sooner, rather than later if possible).

I know this was a short post, but alas, I have to retire for the night. My body and mind are craving rest.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Of Nerds and Nymphos

What prompted my writing of this post was the themed party that I half-assedly dressed up for last night at the architecture house with the theme of Nerds and Nymphos. I am not quite sure if it was the people I was around last night or the theme of the party, but we had a couple very nerdy, yet very fun, talks last night after people came back over to our condo. It was as I laying in bed, reflecting on the day, that the often-occurring thought came to me: I am such a freaking nerd. Seriously, I brought out my whiteboard last night and started writing physics equations on it.

There are times when I look at myself and daydream what it would be like to be someone other than myself, and to live as a different person. Sometimes, the thought brings me down, but more often than not, I get a surge of elation about who I am. Yes, there are times when it would be nice to be a little different, a little taller, a little bit more outgoing, more knowledgeable about random facts, etc., but then I realize how much I like being myself. It doesn't bother me that I can't name every band ever, or that I can't quote Shakespeare. I hope everyone feels this way about themselves, but I know realistically that is not possible.

I really don't know why I decided to write this blog post. I was just taking a break from my reading, and I was thinking about it. It still feels unfinished, but honestly, that's okay.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Just saying... and Other Pet Peeves, Part 1

I was going to write a blog about work being that my last day is tomorrow; then, I saw someone post something on Facebook with the plrase "just saying..." at the end as is common for her to do. I decided to start the multipart post about things that just irritate the shit out of me (aka, this entire blog).

Just saying... - Whever you type this, I think you are stupid, just saying (see what I did there?). This is almost as bad as simple grammatical errors (see below). I don't know why this is so irritating to me; I really don't. It may just be that this certain someone types this a lot at the end of her all-too-common status posts about nothing pertinent.

Your an idiot if you use "you're" incorrectly - First off, I made the typo on purpose. Secondly, I really don't understand this trend. You're is a contraction; it is combining two words, you and are. Ask any middle school student, and I would be most know what this is. Your, on the other hand, is a possessive; it speaks of owning or having things. The fact that a large number of people use this combination of words incorrectly baffles me. They made it through elementary school! The same goes for numerous other homophones (I looked this up on Wikipedia, so you can too!) such as too, to, and two or they're, their, and there.

I'm praying for you; Pray for me!; So-and-so really needs your prayers for... - I see this often. I won't comment on religion (yet), but what gets me about this is the overwhelmingly idiotic excuses for prayer requests. I kid you not, I saw one on Fbook asking for prayers for something car related. Seriously. If I remember correctly, it was about an air conditioning unit. Religious grievances aside, here is my only suggestion: if you believe in the power of prayer, please for the love of whatever it is you call holy, use it sparingly.

That is all for now. I have to go pack my bags to go to Knoxville tomorrow to move it.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Babies: Mini People On The Outside, Demon Beings Within

I am sitting outside, smoking a bowl of shisha from my new hookah. I just finished my post about math, and I figure I will post one on what actually prompted me to come out here in the first place: a baby crying inside the house.

My older sister, Jenny, just had a baby a couple of months ago, and now that she is back at work, my mom watches the baby during the day and my niece and nephew when they get home from school until Jenny gets off work. I usually get home from work about 4 o'clock, and sit down to relax for a little bit. About the time I am getting settled, Skylar the baby loves to start crying. Don't get me wrong, there is nothing better than hearing a shrill cry from a baby piercing through your ears after being in a factory all day. I hope you picked up on the internet sarcasm there, because the truth is that almost everything is better than that.

In all honesty, I love all of my nieces and nephews. I just very much hate babies. I think on a list of things I don't like, babies fall somewhere between the Bubonic Plague and the smell of a dead animal in 100+ degree Tennessee heat, neither of which are good. The idea of a baby is great: Oh look, my very own Mini-Me! Except instead of he/she being awesome and being able to hang out and have sweet conversations with him/her, the baby just sits there, screams until his or her eyes fall out, and shits himself or herself. Oh, and pukes everywhere. Don't forget having to burb the thing, put Baby to sleep, wake up to Baby's crying at 4 a.m., and a host of other assorted grievances associated with their kind. Babies are in a perpetual state of their own filth, starting from shooting out the Eject hatch into the doctor's awaiting arms (to those less up to date on anatomical analogies, I believer the "birth canal" is this ejection hatch in Layman's terms) until they grasp the concept on potty training. They are just like old people, minus all of the cool stories, interesting outlooks on life, and ability to hold the least bit of a conversation.

Babies are all "me, me, me." Can we blame them, though? Evolutionarily speaking, we humans have somehow come a place where are young are even less defenseless than say, a baby deer (at least it has camouflage). Our young are completely dependent on our mother's and/or fathers for a great deal of time. They are so fragile! This is yet another reason that I dislike them. I feel like if I am in the same room as a baby, I pose a danger to it. What if i slip, fall, and crush the kid? I turn on the tv, and it falls on the baby? Woops, didn't see ya there, hoss; sorry for stepping on you. Damn, I let your neck loose for a second while holding you, and now you are dead because your bulbous head snapped your neck. See what I mean? I am literally terrified of holding children until their bones are more fully developed. This is probably the reason I am so leery to jump at the opportunity to hold babies!

Don't get me wrong, when babies are cool, I freaking love them! The fact that they can go from so incredibly happy to screaming little shitbags in a matter of picoseconds is what I don't like. This can come from anywhere, too: a door-slam, a loud voice, waking from a nap, a dirty diaper, being held by the wrong person, a dog's nose, a sock falling on them, a TV announcer, bugs, sunlight, heat, cold, a blanket or lack thereof, a book page turning, a firework off in the distance... You get the picture.

I think that is my biggest dislike about babies. They are so high maintenance. I am not one for high maintenance things. High school drama was never for me; potty training dogs is one of the only bad things about having a dog; petty fights I see my sisters have with their friends are all but nonexistent with mine.

It really amazes me how much patience some people have. I am usually a very patient person, but when it comes to babies, I give up almost immediately after they start crying and hand off the screaming tyke over to one of the womenfolk around. They are much better with that stuff that I am. I've been told once you have a kid, it is all different, but I have to believe that there will still be a point in time when my hypothetical future children are growing and drive me mad (crazy, not angry). I guess that time will come eventually, but for now I am happy to have a relatively baby-less life. Honestly, I don't really hate babies, I just strongly dislike them the majority of the time that I spend around them.

Math: The Language of Nature

I figured while I still had people who actually read this, Dave Petersen specifically, that I would write the blog that would interest him. This post is about math, and how absolutely beautiful it is.

I started to like math when I was a kid. I remember being the first in my third grade class being able to do the hard long division class my terrifying teacher, Mrs. Jackson, would give me. How little I actually knew back then about the language of math that most people find disturbing, disgusting, and devilish. Even now, I am often in awe of how little I actually know about the subject. I have touched on basic calculus and differential equations, and yet I am still just at the tip of the iceberg. Set theory, linear algebra (without the dumbed down examples of Dr. Dydak's class), PDE's, statistics, topology and non-Euclidean geometry, the vast array of fractals, and higher dimensional maths leave me dumbfounded.

I have come so far from basic algebra. When a first grade teacher asks her students what 10 + 1 is, my younger self would have innocently said "Eleven, duh!" Now I find myself jokingly asking, "In what base system?" I guess it's just the nerd in me, but honestly, I love it. I often daydream about sitting with my future children around age 7 (not babies, as you will read later) around the kitchen table helping them with their math and science homework and teaching them some side lessons that I hope they will eventually thank me for. I personally take offense when I hear some lost person utter, "I hate math!" I think, oh how you are missing out on some of the most amazing ideas humans have ever come across!

I hate how school children are being taught math nowadays. I guess I am one of the lucky ones who felt it necessary to ask deeper questions other than whether or not an answer or right. Why is the most amazing question you can ask, and I may actually write a post about this.

On the subject of science, without math, the modern science would be unrecognizable. Seriously. Qualitative analysis is okay to an extent, but quantitative measurements (made only through mathematics) are what separate a good idea from a verifiable theory. I won't say much on the subject, as I have yet to talk about some of my favorite things in math.
  • Purity of Math - By far the most pure subject of the sciences, math is almost certainly in a class all it's own. As random and chaotic the world can be, the opposite is mostly true with mathematics. By setting a few, short constraints, one can navigate through hundreds of years worth of hard work by very great men. Very little needs to be said about this to understand the concept. It is one thing that math has above all other subjects. Ten plus one in base 10 system is always 11. It is so wonderful that it pains me to see people disregard such a useful subject. 
  • Euler's Formula - One of the most famous formulas in mathematics, and one of my favorites to boot, Euler's formula (shown above) combines many, seemingly random areas of math into one beautiful formula. The formula says that when "e" or Euler's number is raised to the pi times the imaginary number (square root of negative one) and then added to one, the result is zero. How seemingly boring this is to others behooves me. The proof lies in the properties of complex numbers, and is a little tedious (I'll leave this as an exercise to the reader - Bazinga!), but when I first read about this, I was overwhelmed with curiosity!
  • Phi - Starting at zero and one, sum the two previous numbers to get the number. The resulting sequence of numbers is given the name the Fibonacci sequence, and there are many interesting properties associated with it (I read books about the subject to give some size). Ad infinitum, the ratio between the last number and it's predecessor becomes a special ratio, phi. If you graph boxes with sides equal to the Fibonacci numbers, and connect the corners, you get a spiral seen all throughout nature (in sunflowers, shells, etc.) and another ratio gives you phi, and this is called the Golden Spiral. To think, a shape could be considered "golden!" Pentagrams and pentagons have properties associated with phi. Ratios in Golden pentagrams and Golden pentagons (again with golden) will lead to phi. Amazing!
  • Fractals - If you are looking for some of the most aesthetically pleasing math topics, not just theoretical amusements, you'd be hard pressed to find something more beautiful than a fractal. Fractals are shapes that each reduction in size leaves the same shape! They occur somewhat imperfectly in nature (snowflakes), and are absolutely beautiful. Do yourself a favor (if you are still here, that is) and Google image some fractals. You will not be disappointed.
That is all that I can think of for now. I really hope you guys don't get turned off my some of the math-y terms and concepts in here. The next blog will be about babies and my hatred for them, so stay tuned.
Below is the Julia set, a type of fractal:

    Monday, August 2, 2010

    Logical Fallacies Common in Everyday Life

    If you want to make people feel that you know what you are talking about and win many arguments, a good way to do so is to learn about fallacies. I started looking into these after finishing a book called The Logic of Alice: Clear thinking in Wonderland by Bernard M. Patten (will be in the recommended books blog post), a chapter by chapter analysis of Alice's adventures through wonderland through a logician's point of view (which Lewis Carroll was, along with a mathematician). The first chapter was somewhere around seventy pages, and dealt almost exclusively with the simple phrase "down the rabbit hole" and its implications, but I digress. 

    Logical fallacies are, as Wikipedia puts it, "misconception resulting from incorrect reasoning in argumentation." There are many fallacies, most have their own beautiful Latin name, that are employed often in a variety of arguments, ranging from the simplest dispute to debates amongst the most powerful people on Earth. Listed are some of my favorite ones to call people on:
    • Begging the question - Honestly, one of my favorites simply because I feel smugly superior when people make the grave mistake of saying "This begs the question:" followed by a question. Begging the question is one of my favorite fallacies to rant about, as John Nabn would vouch for this, because so many people do it. It can also be called a circular argument, and it simply means expressing a conclusion in such a way that assumes the conclusion. The conclusion can be true, but often times it is not, and this is where it is erroneous; yet in neither case is this a strong (or even correct) argument.
    • Non Sequitur - Literally translated from Latin, this means "It does not follow." An example from Wikipedia: 1) Men are human. 2) Mary is a human. 3) Therefore Mary is a man. Fallacies of this sort are common, and are oftentimes very easy to call. 
    • Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc - A type of non sequitur, this fallacy relates to temporal relation of two or more events and draws, often incorrect, deductions from them. In very basic form, the argument goes similar to this: A comes after B, therefore B happened because of A. In this generalized form it is easily seen how this is false, and how easily counterexamples can be generated. 
    • Demanding Negative Proof - Another favorite of mine, this will appear in a later blog post regarding religion. For any claim, there needs to be evidence to verify the validity of the claim. Believers in a claim when confronted by opposition will often say, "prove me wrong!" This is easy when clear examples can be used to show the error, but many times this is impossible: "I believe in unicorns. Prove to me that they don't exist." The truth is, in our unicorn-less world, no one is able to show unicorns don't exist. If on the contrary we had a unicorn, we could clearly affirm the statement, and thus the opposition becomes wrong. More on this fallacy later.
    • Domino Thinking - This is common in politics: one person who opposes a measure explains a long chain of assumptions that lead to some unwanted event. Generally speaking, having many assumptions is a terrible idea. Here is an example: If marijuana is legalized people will be more likely to try harder drugs, causing a decline in society's morality, an increase in HIV (through infected needles), and an increase in violence. More on this subject later, but you can see the terrible, uninformed, overgeneralized conclusion that is drawn.
    • Reductio Ad Ridiculum - We all do this. When we are arguing, we use our opponent's argument in a way to make it sound ridiculous. From Wiki: 
      • "If Einstein's theory of relativity is right, that would mean that when I drive my car it gets shorter and more massive the faster I go. That's crazy! (This is, in fact, true, but the effect is so minuscule a human observer will not notice when it's observed on object without near-light speed.)"
    • Argument from Authority - This is an easily understood one. If someone makes a claim with no proof other than it is true because of an authoritative source, their argument is weak. "Doctors say to take asprin!" Why should we listen to the doctors who recommend asprin? Because they observed asprin's effects that are beneficial to humans, not because they are doctors! Make sure you know this one.
    • Ad Hominem - Also common in arguments, this fallacy tries to connect "the validity of a premise to a characteristic or belief of the person advocating the premise." Essentially, this fallacy is when someone attacks his/her opponent personally, and not their argument. This may not be wrong, but oftentimes it is.
    • Either-Or Arguments - For all but a few select cases, there are never just two answers to a problem. This fallacy is common in politics as well, as many politicians will use these to try to show how his/her opponent supports a position that will lead only to failure.


    I have never had a blog before, and I honestly don't know how long this will last, but I really liked the idea of being able to rant and rave about things without having to personally annoy my friends and family with them. I figured, this way I could write, and whomever wanted to read it would do so. I think something I have told numerous people sums up, at least partially, why I started this: "If I posted everything I wanted to on Facebook, I would have absolutely no friends." The reason? So many idiosyncrasies or beliefs that people have on a host of topics very much either a) irritate the hell out of me or b) are so taboo to talk about publicly that I would be isolating not only myself but a certain few people, and no one likes that.  Some of the topics that I would like to blog about, at some point or another, are (in no particular order):
    • How much babies are able to piss me off in such a short amount of time
    • Religion
    • Politics
    • Painful grammar (Oxford commas; using "your" and "you're" correctly, etc.)
    • Ridiculous beliefs people pass as legitimate (Astrology and Horoscopes, Alien abductions (for now), etc.) 
    • Drug legalization
    • "l33t" speak and how it is not English
    • Tupac and Biggie
    • Bees, Bears, and Beards (really, just the latter two, but I love alliterations)
    • Books that I would recommend to the nonfiction reader
    • Logical fallacies common in everyday life
    • Why I love UT Football and hate Lane Kiffin
    • Quotes that I wish I could regularly use (for example: "I only smoke blunts if they rolled proper." - Biggie Smalls)
    • Skinny jeans on males and females: definitely a much needed double-standard
    • People who argue for the sake of arguing who employ terrible arguments
    • Mathematical beauty to the mathematics hater
    These are just a few things that popped into my mind in all of five minutes while I was typing, and I wrote out an excessive amount of them so that I would remember them. I will post a new blog starting this list later, but I figured this is a good start for now.