erikars: (Default)
Spending money on rent is no more throwing money away and getting nothing for it than buying food.

Rant time!

Aug. 27th, 2006 07:57 am
erikars: (Default)
Yesterday I got a hair cut. I dislike it. It is similar to what I had before, and it is not a terrible cut in and of itself. But it is not what I want.

That brings me to the main topic of my rant: hair stylists. Why is it so hard to find a useful stylist? I do not know exactly what I want. I have not had hair this short in years, and I am not the type who pays terribly much attention to what haircuts look like (especially the details). I am particularly unable to judge what will look good on me.

The hair stylist is suppose to be the professional. The stylist is supposed to be the one who helps me figure out what I like when I say I want my hair shorter, do not want bangs, and, most importantly, want a haicut that looks tidy. I do not want to be told at the end of my haircut that she gave me something that is "fun" in the back. I don't want my hair to be fun, I want it to be dour, dagnabit.

I enjoy short hair, but I am not sure that it is worth it if I am going to have to keep getting cuts I dislike in the quest for a stylist who knows what "tidy" means.
erikars: (Default)
Today I received a CD in the mail. This is a relatively rare event. I would like to take a moment to expound upon why this is so.

When I first received my CD player, I would buy about one CD a month. This rate went down over time and now has dropped to one or two a year. This is not due to the fact that I am using file sharing programs. I will occasionally get music from the internet, but only legally. After some small amount of contemplation, I realized why I do not acquire much music. Each CD I buy has lower value than the CDs which came before. Since my CDs are all on my computer now, I do not have to manually switch between albums. This means that I listen to all artists I own approximately equally. I have enough music that by the time I wrap around, the music does not seem stale.

Compare this to my old situation. When I manually swapped CDs I would tend to listen to some small number of CDs more frequently than others, generally the n newest for some small n. Thus, music would become stale and I would be compelled to buy more. Now that the music I already own does not become stale, I have much higher standards for what I will buy. I will only buy music that I really enjoy. If I just think a song it kind of catchy I will not buy the album.
erikars: (Default)
A grammar plus an example of the common case is much more enlightening than just a grammar. Grammars are difficult to read when you do not know what they are supposed to produce (Hence why a common question in theory classes is "What does this grammar produce?".). An example: I was trying to find the syntax for resends in Diesel. The grammar for resends is
    resend      ::= "resend" [ "(" resend_args ")" ]
    resend_args ::= resend_arg { "," resend_arg }
    resend_arg  ::= expr    // corresponding formal of sender must be unspecialized

                |   name    // undirected resend (name is a specialized formal)
                |   name "@" named_object    // directed resend (name is a specialized formal)

From this I deduced that the syntax I wanted was resend(a@Term, b@Term). While finding the syntax was doable and, in this case, fairly simple, an example would have made it much easier. An example would have shown the common case, and from there I could probably infer the rest of the grammar. A much more efficient process.

Of course, I obviously do not care about efficiency if I am ranting in my LJ about language documentation.
erikars: (Default)
Seeing as how President Bush has recently given his opinion that Intelligent design should be taught alongside evolution in schools, I feel compelled to rant. As far as I can tell, the media and most people we hear about in the evolution/ID debate are very confused over what seems to me to be a very simple issue. ID is not a scientific theory. However, evolution, as the people in this debate seem to see it, is also not a scientific theory. The picture of evolution presented by the media is "evolution is a bunch of scientific mumbo jumbo which claims that everything happened completely randomly".

My understanding of evolution as a scientific theory is that it claims 1) organisms change slowly over time, 2) there exist(ed) organisms from which many current organisms are descended, 3) many anatomical and pysiological properties of organisms can be explained through adaption to environment. Now, there may be other points, but I am not a biologist, so I will leave it at that. The rest, whether all of this happens randomly or is guided or some mixture of the two, is an orthogonal concept which I think of as the philosophy of evolution. Philosophies of evolution are not scientific theories.

If I were choosing how evolution would be taught, I would separate it like this. There would be a section on the science of evolution and another on the philosophy of evolution. I would emphasize that the science is based on our best explanations of observations while the philosophy is based on what people think these explanations mean.

On a much more frivolous note, since the people who are against evolution being taught (or taught exclusively) take as one of their reasons gaps in our understanding of how it works, why do they not protest the teaching of relativity and quantum dynamics?
erikars: (Default)
I wanted something cold and yummy. Given my location, the main option was Starbucks, so I went in and ordered a mint chocolate chip blended creme. Now, the thing to understand about blended cremes is that they are supposed to have no coffee in them. I got mine, and, lo and behold, it had coffee in it. Now, I did not mind so much flavor-wise; the coffee flavor was mostly masked by declicious mint and chocolate. However, I am sensitive to caffeine. It gives me neck aches. So now I have a mild neckache. Grr upon them!

On a different note, I wish I could buy drinks buy the ounce. I do not really need 8oz of Starbucks blended creme just to satisfy my desire for something cold and yummy. Four would have been more than sufficient. Sadly, this is not an option.
erikars: (Default)
As this article mentions, one reason behind the decision to decrease funding for security on buses and trains is that an attack on a plane can kill 3000 people while an attack on a subway would kill 30. This statement reveals an apparent flaw in the reasoning skills of Michael Chertoff, its originator.

A single plane does have the potential to kill more people than a single subway bomb. However, taking the numbers given by Mr. Chertoff, it would only take 100 subway bombs to kill the same number of people. There is much more security for flying than riding a bus or subway; it seems that 100 subway attacks would be more likely to suceed than a single attack on a plane. If this intuition were true. security would be increased more by spending more money on buses and trains than spending that same money on airline security.

Chertoff's reasoning worries me because it seems to overly simplify the decision process. It may be the case that my intuition of what is more probable is completely wrong. However, the process of considering such probabilities is better than saying "an attack in a plane can kill 3000 people and an attack in a subway can kill 30, therefore, planes are more important to protect than subways." I can only hope that such analysis really is happening and the quote was just an attempt to simplify things for the media (that the media needs such simplification is another rant entirely).

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Erika RS

May 2012

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