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.