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Leah (who is an excellent blogger who came up with the Ideological Turing Test), has a whole mini-sequence of posts about the nature and importance of friendships. As someone whose fantasy future involves living in the same house or just next door to my best friend(s), I am highly in favor of encouraging good strong friendships.

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aka, a distinction that people don't make nearly often enough or in the right ways

A couple of relevant excerpts:

"an awful lot of people get themselves hung up on the idea that the party who is at fault Should be the party to be responsible. "I'm not the one who broke it, I shouldn't have to clean it up!"

It's a nice prescriptive principle for organizing morality, ethics, and law: where it can be implemented it makes the world more fair."

"But we don't live in a world like that. One of the fundamental facts of human existence is that you're going to take responsibility for a lot of things that aren't your fault. In fact, the vast majority of things you are responsible for in your life are not going to be your fault, but, nevertheless, you will be responsible for them."

"Taking responsibility feels good because it's empowering. Because it makes you feel less impotent against the vagaries of life. In fact, it feels so good, some people wind up taking too much responsibility, such as codependents on a loved one's addiction, taking responsibility for preserving the addict's lifestyle, or over-protective parents trying to sheild their kids from every averse experience in life, or the battery victim who takes on responsibility for molifying their abuser. It's important not to take too much -- or the wrong -- responsibility, either.

It can be hard to figure out how much responsibility to take, and which responsibility to take, especially if one grew up with people who were bad at it, or deliberately obfuscated issues of fault and responsibility to get away with things (and there is a whole post worth on the topic of what we in the pshrink biz call "parentification" of children and its relationship to assuming inappropriate responsibility.)"

Anyway, go forth and read the whole thing. It's very well-written and lays it all out in a way that an over-responsible person like me can't easily ignore.

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gifs of various chemical reactions. I wish a lot of them were animated with more frames to go slower, but that's really a minor quibble
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The fridge delivery

So there we were on Friday afternoon at Oporto getting lunch when we got the call from the secondhand furniture shop that they wanted to deliver our fridge to the flat. Twenty minutes later and we arrive at the flat clutching our take-away bags to find the dude waiting outside for us. Then we get upstairs with the fridge and he decides to provide an inspection of the flat for us for free. So he wanders around looking in all the rooms and offering unsolicited advice while we stand around in the kitchen area wondering when he's going to leave so that we can eat our damn lunch already. "How much are you paying for it?" He asks. "Hey look, you have an ocean view" (referring to the inch or so of sea visible from the window). "It's pretty good for the price" (Thanks dude..)
Anyway, he did eventually leave us to baptise our new flat with the aromas of cheap Portugese chicken and chips.

The work stupidity goes on

One of my coworkers told me in all seriousness that although he hadn't seen the first three movies, he still enjoyed Fantastic Four.


Caring for your Introvert: The tone is a bit snarky but the main message of the article is a good one imnsho

The self-referential test: One of these days when I have an hour or two spare I plan to sit down and complete it. Basically it's a fiendishly difficult logic puzzle, making Sudoku look like a game of Tic Tac Toe by comaprison.

The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas: A short short story by Ursula Le Guin, it's an interesting look at the philosophical utilitarianism arguments. Is it ok to torture one person if it means one hundred people can prosper?

Boomshine: It's one of those addictive Flash games. The gameplay is very simple and I love the music.

Langmaker: I haven't had a chance to really explore this site yet but the conlangs look fascinating
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For the lazy, Orwell is arguing that English has become degraded by practices such as stale and/or misused metaphors and using long complicated words to try to make yourself sound more profound. And of course since this is Orwell he then links it to politics. But the political aspects aren't quite so interesting to me.
At the end he posts this short guide to expressing yourself:

1. Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Let's see; I'm guilty of (1) sometimes (the other day I said "she's an oasis of logic in a sea of Arts." And then I wanted to smack myself for talking about an oasis in a sea).
I'm good for (2) and (3), since both my writing and speaking style have always been as succint as possible (which does kinda make it hard when I'm trying to make wordcounts for essays. I suspect that for my last Linguistics essay I broke a lot of the above rules, not surprising since I was running on a tight schedule and making up my argument as I went while at the same time heading for that wordcount target).
(4) is harder. I don't think I do it much but it's much harder to be aware of.
(5) same as for (2) and (3), I've always gone for the 'less is more' approach.

And for the record, yes I did change my writing in the last paragraph to try to stick to the rules more effectively :p

In other Linguistics-related news, lately I've been considering angles to write a Computing thesis from that could somehow incorporate Linguistics into it. Ideas so far include:
* Sign language to text converter - I don't think it's feasible, from what I remember Anu tried to make some kind of program that allows you to move a mouse pointer by pointing your hand for his thesis, and it wasn't too crash hot. The technology really isn't there for something as complicated as sign language.
* Something to do with natural language parsing - I really don't want to though because the problem with the whole field is very simple to understand and hellishly difficult to fix. Basically the problem is that language is never going to adhere to any kind of fixed patterns that a computer could have hardcoded into it. The reason language works for humans is because our brains are amazing at receiving huge amounts of data from the environment, discarding parts that aren't important and then sifting the rest for meaning. Until a computer can emulate that process natural language parsing is screwed. Quick example: I originally wrote the first line as "something to do with a natural language parsing". I didn't even notice the typo until just now, however that inclusion of an article where there shouldn't have been one would have been enough to break a lot of parsers.
* Something to do with how computing is a field dominated by English and how this has affected programming and design - There's a couple of problems with this idea. The first is that it sounds a bit wanky* to me, which means that I'm probably not going to be able to get really motivated about it. The second is that the faculty member most likely to be interested in a topic like this is John Plaice. For those who don't know John Plaice, he's an angry angry man and the idea of working with/under him does not fill me with joy.
* This isn't even computing related, but interesting nonetheless: Something to do with translating maths notation into English and vice versa. Brought about by Alex's constant maths-ing, where I noted that mathematicians can say a surprisingly large amount using their incomprehensible symbols, and maths notation is supposedly a universal language between mathematicians and so forth.

*Wanky: A term I first heard used by my HSC English teacher. From the context she used it I think it means something you write for the specific purpose of getting the marker to give you more points, but from that I've always mentally expanded it to anything you write that gives off a vibe of "ooh look at me I'm so intelligent because I can use literary techniques and big words and overly complicated ideas". In fact, George Orwell's idea of bad language fits my concept of "wanky" quite nicely.
As for the etymology of "wanky".. think about it :p.
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An update on things is in order. Also I'm trying to write this before the lack-of-sleep-induced energy wears off and I collapse.

First: The hair. Everyone seems to think it looks good. What I didn't expect was the sudden popularity/attention that comes with suddenly looking a lot better overall than I did before said haircut. Which just goes to show what I've been saying all along, that everyone is hopelessly shallow and makes a lot of judgements at the purely superficial level.
Two things follow from this. I will never again forget how much difference appearance makes in how people treat you. Now I just have to overcome my innate resistance to doing things just for the sake of appearances and all will be well :p More likely I'll come to some kind of compromise between being a lazy slob and knowing when being a lazy slob is just not an option.
The second is that I haven't forgotten that these are the same people who happily ignored me before. The distrust that was trained into me by about six years of harassment at school is definitely rearing its head here. And at the same time as I accuse others of being shallow I can't help recognise the same thing in myself. A large part of me wants to pay attention to the way I look so that I can bask in the attention of others, despite this going counter to what I profess to believe in. So as is my habit I'm just telling the vain attention-seeking part of me to shut up so that I can get along with my life.

Last night I was talking with my mum and it turns out I never got around to telling her about my social problems in high school. So she never had any real idea that I'm very introverted and that the word antisocial comes to mind if I'm pressed to describe myself. I think she's a bit sad that pretty much the whole family (except my brother, but we knew he was a changeling anyway :p) turned out so introverted.

I had this all written out in my head during my long and boring work but the trip home seems to have knocked it all out of my head :( oh well. Maybe more and better expressed later.

In other news, as of 9:30am today it has been 30 and a half hours since I last slept. However in the last three days I have gotten sixteen hours sleep so it evens out. Sort of. I think I'm a little obsessed with my sleep behaviours these days.

UPDATE: I have now slept for about 6 hours and am alive again (sort of). First part of entry has been fixed. There's other stuff I also wanted to write but have forgotten.

Behold the link of funny-ness!
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Poor Supes.. no kids for him.

In other news, my glasses unexpectedly came in yesterday! So now I can see again :)


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