Saturday, September 23, 2006

Music and Calculus

What really makes a tune is the various notes, the difference between those notes, and the change in the difference between them. This is similar to Calculus, which is the study of change in numbers.

Friday, September 22, 2006

I HATE The Internet

I want to play Half-Life 2.

The college internet restricts Steam. Therefore, Half-Life 2 downloads in spurts of 1 kb/s. From this, I am pissed off because I cannot get I want, and I really want to shoot some Combine Soldiers and zombies.

This is the epitome of bitterness.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Units are Logical

Many young science students don't care about units. They feel them to be un-necessary. This is, however, a crucial mistake. The absence of units, and massive apathy towards their lack of existence, is a huge logical fallacy that people readily ignore when recognizing the authority of something.

That was a crappy and long-winded path to my point. Essentially, a lot of websites and organizations claim that they are #1. However, they ignore the units of this #1 position. For example, Joe's Lyrics Page says it's #1 on the Internet. What are they #1 at? Hits? Number of song lyrics? Number of pop-ups? This is never specified, so the #1 is meaningless.

Because most people ignore the lack of units, they see the #1 and think, "oh! Authority! This page is the best!" Nevertheless, there really is no reason to think Joe's Lyrics page is better than Bob's, who could also just as easily be #1 and have no reason to dispute with Joe's.

This is what makes units so crucially important. Numbers alone are meaningless; numbers with units serve a purpose. Unless you're a mathematician, units are your friend.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Go Retire, Boomers, You've Already Exploded

My mom and I have a sharp discontinuity of opinion.

My mom, around 60, thinks the world needs to be peaceful, everyone should talk and get along. I think that's the worst idea ever. Nobody who has ever tried to utopianistically glue the world together into a montage of numbness has succeeded.

The world is built on people fighting. When people fight and someone wins, we have progress. If there's no fighting, there's no progress. This is any kind of fighting: me fighting with someone about place in queue, politicians fighting on policy, children fighting over toys.

Please, hippies, smoke some more pot, keel over, and rot. You've screwed up the world with happy-go-lucky bullshit, and nobody wants to hear it anymore except you. This is a world founded on the blood of labor and people. When we're reduced to shooting each other, we are our finest; when we have become completely exhausted, we are our greatest.

To pacify is to kill. To war is to live. Only when we are alive do we connect to our spirts--the dead have evicted their souls.

Go smoke your pot and wear hemp. I'm taking a shower.

I HATE ChemSkillBuilder

ChemSkillBuilder is a website the James Madison University deparment of Chemistry enlists as a teaching tool. It "algorithmically" (an exceptionally fancy word for "automatic") generates problems for students to solve and learn from. I am merely frustrated.

The concept makes sense--have a computer generate conversion problems automatically and simply. However, it is riddled bugs and technical errors; things that hurt my grade without true cause or even honest grading.

Take, for example, this problem (paraphrased):
Convert 20 mL of to grams using 6.6g/mL as a conversion factor.

Simple conversion. Note that the 20 has no decimal on the end, lending it one significant figure. Multiply the two numbers together, producing a result of 132g. Round this for the single "sig fig," and 100 is left.

WRONG

So, I figure they may have not wanted me to round for sig figs. After all, 20mL only has one sig fig, 20. mL has two. I input 132... and it turns out the proper number of sig figs is 2.

What?! From the 20? It was not a "20.," it was a "20". I was just cheated points for trying to solve the problem correctly.

Another problem, paraphrased, but including the original error:
Convert 114 l into gallons.

114 "l?" What is an "l?" I learned that "L" was the correct symbol for liters, but I've never seen "l" used for some unit. Perhaps that's an uppercase "i..." a disjointed "1?" Maybe it's my doom!

I did guess correctly, they meant "L," but the contradiction between using "l" and "L" has infurated me.

A semester of this?
Ugh.

What Math Lacks

Educators fail to lack that math classes lack physical representation. For example, with integration, the "area under the curve" problem would be far more interesting if the teacher poured water into a curve shaped container and said "figure out how much water I poured in."
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