Archive for November, 2006

Describing thought?

Sunday, November 26th, 2006

How do children learn to understand what thinking is, what the word “mind” means? Because I was just thinking about it, and I realized I could not adequately explain either. I know what they are for myself (in that I know when I am thinking, not that I actually know how thinking works), but I’d have no way of explaining what they are nor anything to point to, like I could describe a chair or point to the color blue.

So how do we learn what thoughts are?

Math and Haiku

Monday, November 20th, 2006

A book about haiku I’m reading for school says that haiku is different from other forms of written art because while other forms have to be read through, and the experience is gradually built up, haiku is short enough that it can be experienced instantaneously. It does take a few moments to read it, but where with an eight or even four line poem you get one half and then the next, with a haiku you read the entire thing, then the seeing it comes all at once.

I realized today that math gives you both the gradual, drawn out experience of a longer poem or novel and the instant experience of a haiku at once. A proof may take a while to go through, building up step by step, but when you’re left with, say, aⁿ + bⁿ ≠ cⁿ, you have that same instantaneous understanding as with a haiku.

Math is so beautiful.

Ogg Flac

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

Whee! Both mplayer and gstreamer (which rhythmbox uses) both had their ogg flac decoding bugs fixed recently, and it should be fixed in the next release of both. I can finally stop decoding my music to wav before playing it!

Thank you, OED

Monday, November 13th, 2006

So today I was looking through my firefox search bar’s history, and along with things like “how to raise your iq by eating gifted children” (it’s a book apparently) and “fraught with all manner of spiky-haired cute things” (no results, this page will be the first), I found ‘quercivorous nepheliad’.

And of course, I immediately recognized what I was doing when I searched for that: “Hey, it’s a googlewhack! I wonder if it still works.”

So I tried it, and it almost worked, except the passage it was written in had been quoted a bunch of times. But I also noticed that google suggested “quercivorus” instead of “quercivorous”.

Obvious choice of action, test it out and see which one gets more search results. Which I do, and see quercivorus gets 500 results, and quercivorous gets 15300. And wow! My blog is at the top of the results for quercivorous! That’s awesome! But wait… these look like mostly just word lists… the results for quercivorus looked a lot more scholarly… yeah, they do. And oh… 15100ish of the 15300 are all one site.

GAAH. I misspelled my own favorite word, and it’s at the top of google’s results for it to boot.

So I went and edited my post. Made a note about my misspelling it, and corrected the spelling for the future, in hopes of google putting me back high in the rankings for the right spelling.

But just before submitting, I thought to myself “I wish I had my OED, so I could check what it says.” Of course, I don’t, because no one brings their OED to college with them, at least, not anyone studying computer science.

But maybe the library has one. So I walk over there, and yes, it does! And then I look it up… And it says I was right all along! It really is spelled quercivorous! Yes!

A bit more research shows that there are 4 species (probably of insect) named Something quercivorus. Removing those, there are practically no results. I cancel the edit to my old post and write this one.

The moral of the story: The OED may not know everything. But in its niche, it’s smarter than even google.

Random thought

Sunday, November 12th, 2006

How would the stock market react to us suddenly finding martians?

Thursday, November 2nd, 2006

The soda machine here lights up and makes noise when you walk by it.

I don’t like being marketed to.