Lies, Damn Lies
Wednesday, November 29, 2006
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
Raising childrenIt is probably inevitable that we shall have to have some sort of population control. I don't see a particular alternative, other than one artificially imposed by nature, which would be far more unpleasent. After all, the earth can barely sustain the consumption it endures at the moment, so it is unlikely it will last that much longer if we keep going at our present rate. I don't think human beings have a particular right to reproduce, as harsh as that might sound, just as I'm not entirely sure all people necessarily should have children.
I mean... come on. We've all met people, or at least encountered people so utterly despicable that really they shouldn't have children. I'm not necessarily saying parenting licences are necessary, but I certainly can't spell them.
It's a pity we're not a totalitarian government, or couldn't be one for about 5 years. Then we could gather a whole bunch of children and raise them in various different ways, to find which one proved the most effective. Sadly there are apparently some ethical issues with child abduction, although I imagine that shouldn't be too much of an issue if we send the parents to labour- I mean party camps.
I'm a tiny bit tired, so that might explain the reason for the disjointed exposition occuring here, or it might not. You decide!
Monday, November 20, 2006
Pedantic?I suspect all mathematicians are incredibly pedantic. Alice once asked me whether I had to be incredibly picky on details that really don't matter. My answer? Well yes, yes I do. It's probably a habit picked up from attempting to be rigorous in our solutions to the questions, where one has to be very accurate in what one says. Admittedly this admirable goal is rarely acheived, but we usually KNOW when we are doing it, and are fudging it because we are unable to give a better solution.
As a habit I imagine it is an annoying one, as my family will attest to. I would say my friends would attest to it too, and they probably would, but at university at least, most of my friends ARE mathematicians, and will quite happily jump on the inaccuracies in my statements as I will pick on the innacuracies in theirs. I dunno, it's NICE to be correct.... but it can earn you some rather unfortunate looks.
Two quick jokes-
A fire starts in a hotel, where an engineer, a physicist and a mathematician are staying. The engineer, smelling smoke, dashes out, fills a bucket to the brim, losing time as he does so, but manages to put the fire out.
Unfortunately the fire starts again, and this time the physicist comes out. He glances at the fire, sees a glass nearby, does some quick calculations, fills the glass full of water and puts out the fire.
Yet again the fire starts, and this time the mathematician comes out. He sees the fire, and sees a thimble. Quick as a flash, he begins writing complicated equations on a blackboard, filling it up and erasing it several times. Smiling, he says "Yes, I CLOULD put out the fire with that" and goes back to bed.
A fire starts in a room where an engineer, a physicist and a statistician are saying.
"Quick, pour water on it!" Cries the engineer
"No deprive it of oxygen!" Says the physicist.
In response the statistician starts feverishly running around the room and creating more fires
"What the hell are you doing?" The other two ask
"Creating a decent sample size!"
Sunday, November 19, 2006
90 daysI know I've posted about this before, and it kind of gets me down to post about it again. Once again the government wants to give our polie the power to detain people for 90 days without charge. They claim any move for this will be supported by evidence, but apparently the police chief wanting it is evidence enough.
But thats silly. You can't give the police more powers if they want them, because they never want less. I highly doubt there will be a point in the future where the police will say "well, terrorism is pretty much dealt with, we will no longer need to detain people fr 90 days!" So working by this logic, the only way detention can go is up. As far as I know, it is actually very rare indeed that the police get to the ludicrously long 28 day limit currently submitted.
The thing is, many people defend this, saying that the police need this time to get evidence for these people. Huh? The police is arresting people without enough evidence to charge them? Isn't there something a little wrong there? How on earth did we ever catch criminals if that is the case? It's a wonder criminals are ever caught if the police are incapable of gaining evidence... before making an arrest.
I would, for once, like people to say that some principles are worth dying for. Damnit.
Thursday, November 16, 2006
Every room should haveA set up like this
Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Climate ChangeAfter this article, there is a great poem about climate change, which rather reflects how most of us- and this very much includes me- live.
I evade my personal responsibility for the things I choose to do. I blame the government, the oil companies, George Bush, the economy, the wealthy and anybody else I can think of for the destruction that my lifestyle causes.
I put my comfort, my convienence and my conformity ahead of the lives and livlihoods of thousands of future generations, and I try not to think too much about my daily contribution to the destruction of the world that was left to me by thousands of past generations. I put myself far, far ahead of my ancestors and decendents and take from them for the most trivial of reasons.
I ignore the real human pain, suffering and death that my behaviour causes. I turn the page, switch the channel, and change the topic of conversation. I pretend that the science isn't definitive yet, or that there's no point in changing before others do, and I convince myself that 'scientists' will come up with a technological solution that will make my lifestyle and me OK.
I avoid, I deny, I justify and rationalise, I pretend, I project, I squirm and sqeeze and do whatever I can to maintain my concept of myself as a good person while still doing what I do. I evade my moral responsibility a day at a time in the hope that reality will somehow be different tomorrow morning.
I steal from those who live far away from me, and who I do not know because I see their pain as cartoon pain, and not fully real. I casally destroy what future generations will depend upon to live because they have yet to be born and it is only me, and my time and my normalcy that is important.
I am like those who, sixty years ago, did their jobs and lived their normal lives and didn't ask questions about where their jewish neighbours had gone. I am like those who participated in slavery and other atrocities, except that the effects of my crimes will outlast all those others.
And it is OK, because today I am normal, and busy, and have other things on my mind and, if what I do is really so bad so many people wouldn't be doing the same, would they?
But when, in the hours before I die, I think back upon my life and what it has meant, I must do one thing. I must hope and hope and pray and pray that there is nothing beyond life and beyong time and beyond myself, that there is no blance, no karma, no morality and no justice.
Because if there is, and I do what I do, knowing what I know....
Well, lets not think about that.
Monday, November 13, 2006
FunnyThis is funny, especially if you know a bit of statistics....
InaneTo get into our library you have to scan your card on turnstiles. This slows people down, obviously, although progress has been increased by brand new ones being installed this year, that work similarly to oyster cards (you can scan your card while it is in in your wallet!). The only problem with this system is that there is no real need for it. The thing is, there are three things you could come to this library to do. To go on the computers- but you need your bath log in and password, so you could not do these without a library card. To use the books- but to take them out you again need your library card. Or to work, which admittedly you do not need your library card for. The thing is, bath campus is away from the main city, the general public, if they wish to come here, would have to make extra special effort, and once obtaining access to the library, all they could do was sit around in an already full library, wishing they'd just stayed at home instead.
Why we have this policy I have really no idea, but this university has never been the height of rationality. They did, after all, decide to replace the bottom floor work area with some comfy bean bags, because obviously what you want to do at a university library is sit around relaxing.
I'm getting a sense of deja vu typing this, and whther thats because I've ranted about this so many times or I've blogged about it before, I do not know. Still, it bears repeating. I could go on and on about our useless university, but I won't too much, as even I might become bored. I am in a particularly irate mood today thanks to a toothache and the dentist on campus not accepting any new patients... damn them indeed.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
Good lordJust when I think the internet cannot disturb me anymore, here come the otherkin....... These people are rather sad really, and very lonely. And also.... quite crazy.....
Monday, November 06, 2006
Job seekingApparently I actually have to choose a future career, which seems somewhat unfair. I always sort of imagined that I'd be able to postpone the decision indefinitely, but sadly my plan seems to have some holes of some sort, something to do with the need to earn money. Even more alarmingly, I actually have to apply for various positions. I have done so, or rather am doing so, filling im marvelous answers to fantastic questions about times when I saw an action that needed actioning, did it, and got results. I am drawing on all my rather limited experience (it's possible that holding more than two jobs in my entire life time would have been useful), including every little extra-curricular activity I ever did (I'm much stronger on this front... or at least on paper anyway). The whole rigerole is huuugely enjoyable, with me strugglinh to remember exactly what marks I got in first year of university, or for that matter in my GCSEs.....
I still have not actually chosen a specific career, but I figure I can apply for things without commiting to them after all....
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
christmasApparently it is officially Christmas in the co-op. November 1st is the time for the marvelous tunes of christmas time!
HaloweenLast year, December time, I opened my door to a young caroler, who appeared to be collecting money for.. himself. His dad was looking threatening from the gate, and he was a tiny litle guy, and I gave him some money. I shouldn't have had to though. It's exactly the same thing with haloween. Even ignoring the use of the day as an excuse by a proportion of the community to vandalise property, I don't see why I should be giving small children sweets.
Call me a scrooge, but surely there are better ways to invest that money. I mean, it's not as if these children are mostly deprived- doubtless their parents could buy them equivalent amounts of sweets, rather than force me to give up them. I know it's not the biggest sacrifice on my part, but I feel offended that I am even being asked to give it, and being guilted into doing it. It's my damn money, and if I am going to spend it on people other than me, I'd prefer it to go to a cause that actually mattered, not making some kid hyper for an evening.
In fact, next haloween, for each doorbell ring I ignore, I shall donate a pound to charitym, I'll even make it a children's charity to make it connect to the season at hand.