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12 April 2002 @ 09:47 pm
"Number Three"  

A long day when you write three things down in your journal, and you don't remember most of them by 9 at night. I know I said several important things, but I can't remember what they are in exact detail. (But the nice thing is I get to read them again and remember)

Today in combinatorics we had a beauty contest - for proofs of Turon's theorem. That is to say, which proof was most elegant and aesthetically pleasing. It's one of the weirdest arguments you'll ever get into with somebody else saying things like "well, I like the way Peter's proof wore the inductive hypothesis, but it was just clunky on Gitch's proof." Like an inductive hypothesis is a mink, or something. Yeah, I'm already tired - if you couldn't tell already.

I don't think I have the ability to be mad at somebody for something right away. Hell, I didn't stop talking to Kale (who is, for the record, the only person I've ever told I would never speak to again until they cleaned up their act) for more than three years. Lately, well, I don't know. I do what I do - and some people handle that, and others don't.

There are few people who will seek me out if they haven't seen me lately. I'm here - that's where I'll be, if you ever decide that you miss me. The workload right now, whether or not I'm doing it at any given moment, feels like a giant load of something heavy above my head - so I'm afraid to move too much, or say too much, no matter how badly I want to talk to somebody, or how much I wish they missed me.

Sometimes, I get really annoyed when people start griping about logic. Logic is fallible, and can be misapplied in dozens of ways. It's a stupid way to live your life- that's why we're human. If we were only logic, we'd be machines, but we have emotions, and reasoning that extends beyond the bounds of logic. Hint: What does the set of all x such that x is not in S look like? Some people blow this off as a bullshit paradox, but it has serious problems. Is the opposite of falsehood always true? Is the negation of a truthful statement always false? As a hacker, you learn to think in shades of grey, not black and white. It's the system's job to behave in black and white, and the hacker's to see the world as shades of grey. It doesn't matter if you're hacking Wittgenstein or a Linux box - it's the same principle.

Language sucks for communication - but we still want to do it anyway - why is this a problem? When you pour a cup of milk in a bowl, did you pour exactly a cup of milk? No? Does it matter? NO? Well, there you go.

I'm just tired and grumpy, and sick of hearing people blather about logic and language and the failings of human reasoning, and wanting everything to be perfect. The world is not perfect, nor does it have that potential - it can be better than bad, and most of the time it downright sucks for everybody involved - and trying to make it perfect doesn't do anybody any good, because it's too much to chew on at once. Logic is a tool - if you live by logic, logic lives by you, and it leaves room for precious little else. Think of memes - think of Zen. But most importantly, think outside the binary operations. That's what consciousness is - that's why Gödel's Incompleteness Theorem only applies to machines, and not to humans. Free. Your. Mind.


If you want to bring a centipede to a crashing halt, ask it in which order it moves its legs.

You don't need a lid on a basket of crabs. If one tries to climb out the others will pull it back down.

Don't be so proud. You are not an intelligence until you pass the Turing test.

The great mass of men lead lives of quiet domestication.

The blind man looking in the mirror cannot see he has no eyes. So what?

--- Selected Sayings of Solomon Short (aka Robert Heinlein)