Thursday, June 9, 2016

Summer Math in Philly

I've been working as a scientest and working on this math phase I've been in, but I figured this would be the first place to show off what's going on in the summer in the Philly  Math Counts Meetup. I made a poster, and I'll post what CJ Fernley, organizer of Philly Math Counts, wrote:

"We are excited about our next several meetups. One will explore the culture of mathematics, one will explore the history of statistics, and several will get into the nitty gritty practice of doing real mathematics (number theory to be specific). All should be fun! But each will require some preparation on your part. So we wanted to let you know what's involved early so you can schedule time to read a paper and a book and work on some challenging problems.
Note we open RSVPs for our events three weeks ahead. So you cannot yet RSVP for most of these events. We prepare the event descriptions early so you can plan your time to prepare for the topics you are interested in.
I wanted to highlight three events in order of more to less preparatory work needed. Check our web page for a chronological listing of forthcoming topics.
First, we have a book topic for Saturday July 9th. The book is The Lady Tasting Tea: How Statistics Revolutionized Science in the Twentieth Century by David Salsburg. Is it a well written account of the history of modern statistics. But at 352 pages, it will take some time to get through. The book has no formulas, so it will be easy reading compared with most math books. Look for it at a library or bookstore now so you have time to finish reading it by July 9th. There is a lot of good mathematics in the book but it is told from a high-level point of view. Sam is planning to supplement it by exploring a few formulas and techniques in more depth to help satisfy our itch for mathematical details. The main thrust of the event will be a discussion of the history of modern statistics.
For the full event description on Statistics and The Lady Tasting Tea, please visit
Second, there will be a three part series on Chapter 4 "Induction in the Theory of Numbers" in George Pólya's 1954 book "Mathematics and Plausible Reasoning: Induction and Analogy in Mathematics". That book is free to read on-line. This short chapter (only 15 pages) is filled with formulas and variables and tables to explore its example problems. We have split the text and the 26 example problems into three events so that you will have some time to invest in really delving into each problem. The brilliance of this book is how Pólya helps us practice the doing of mathematics with challenging problems that though elementary (nothing more difficult than raising an integer to a power of two) are by no means easy. It is expected that even the sharpest participants will need to work for several hours on the problems over several days of concerted effort to fully solve all of them.
But you don't need to solve any of them to participate! All we ask is that you spend an hour or two on each. Then come join us and we'll crowdsource filling in the gaps and helping to make sure everyone understands the material. Collaborative mathematics: it's a great way to practice, learn, and discuss mathematics. It's what we do!
Here are the three event descriptions on Pólya & Number Theory:
Finally, our next event will discuss an exquisite and very readable 17 page paper by William P. Thurston: "On Proof and Progress in Mathematics". Thurston's famous "geometrization conjecture" (no, I don't know what that means either) led to the solving of the Poincaré conjecture, one of the $1,000,000 math problems. His paper provides a high class response to criticism of his geometrization conjecture wherein he examines the nature of the mathematical enterprise, explores the nature of mathematics itself, outlines some of the key tools and skills of mathematical thinking, looks at the motivation to do mathematics, and critiques the nature of proof and mathematical communication. The paper is extraordinary and I look forward to discussing it with you on June 25th.
See the full event description on Thurston's paper:"

Friday, February 12, 2016

Organization and thoughts on ADHD

I have some thoughts on how to organize life. I need something light hearted and friendly because recently it seems the only thing that motivates me to punch out a post is when I'm feeling politically motivated, and honestly that's how I feel now. This should keep my mind occupied and maybe give me some time to prep a well thought out post about radical education.

Organization. ADHD and organization is a constant struggle for me. First, organization was never a concept that came naturally to me and at 28 I'm still learning basic skills others learned during adolescence. Second, the existence of ADHD is still debated by non-physicians, so I've spent my life dealing with people who think I'm rude, lack discipline, and just never learned how to organize myself. Because in 28 years of life, they are first people to ever come to that conclusion about me. Oh, the memories.

I don't hate it, I just think of it as more of a misunderstood super power. Have a wide arrange of interests is one of my symptoms, I just lacked the control and organization to use this to my advantage. In the four years since my diagnosis, I've picked up tricks to handle it. The most basic of these is feeding your self and keeping yourself hydrated, problems that cause a lack of focus in people without ADHD. Meditation and the ability to turn the eye inward to solve problems is beautiful. I'm still bad at telling people what I'm thinking, but that's because I can't write to everyone. Writing is a wonderful medium because it forces me to stop and think about what I want to say. Even one of my poorly written texts or posts take some sort of thought and organization. At the end of a post, I can read and edit points that are unclear, something I can't do when verbally communicating with people. It's not my fault people choose inefficient means of communication.

What I want to talk about today is something that I feel most people struggle with. Lists and organization. Since becoming a researcher that also helps with a math group, I have found the beauty of keeping records. It's better than sex, really, because why else would mathematicians choose numbers over sex? Filling excel sheets with data is a daily task at work. When I first started, it wasn't my favorite job. My favorite job was analyzing the data. I discovered the connections between the two tasks pretty quickly.

To all the writers out there who spend their time reading regular books and not every book about statistics they can get their hands on, I'm going to let you in on a secret. Data tells stories. Let's take something simple, like a ledger for budget. That little book of numbers contains a journal written in a foreign language. Maybe it says "For 6 months I saved for the Bahamas. It must have been something, looking at all the purchases I made when I got there." There could be a story in their about a loved one's sickness. Or maybe it's just a reflection on the monotonous routine of everyday life.

It turns out storing data in other ways tells stories. I keep a calorie chart, but not as often as I should. Looking back on it however, I can tell time of depression or when I was low on funds because I stop eating good food from the grocery store and spend more money on take out and pizza. Today I went back through my journal to discover that last year around this time, everyone in my life was on edge due to cabin fever. Just like this year. It has confirmed my thoughts that February is in fact the worst month, and valentines day started as a reminder to not kill each other.

Which brings me to my point. I cannot tell you how many times I have started to-do lists over the years. I tried it in school, but it never caught on. I try it every three months or so at this job. It usually falls through. I've finally decided to stop using to-do lists and start using a time card setup instead.

As I mentioned earlier, I have a thousand interests, and I'm probably working on at least two of them at any given point in time (one in the real world and a second in my head.) Picking one task to do in a day is impossible, but keeping track of all my tasks is hard as hell and I usually end up feeling depressed because I'm not working on everything I could. The time Card set up just requires I write down what task I did, when I started and when I finished. At the end of the week I move all the info to a handy color coded table, then I can look at everything I accomplished and decide what and how to change over the next week. The beauty is I stop thinking about what I could be doing, and I focus on what I doing and what I have accomplished.

The system is large at this point, but I'm interested in hearing how others might organize their time.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

NSFW: A guide to social and political discorse

We live in a new era of great political and social unrest. The political discussion of today takes place with new technology and new techniques, ideas can be spread quickly through the use of memes and by passing articles around on social media that explain in simple, condescending terms how we as a society should think and act. The issue is, this environment may seem hostile to anyone just entering the world. What I'm offering is a simple guide to political and social discourse to help ease entry. Now to any of those thinking I lack qualifications due to me being a white male, let me assure you that I have attended many sociology classes, read many blogs, seen many memes and meditated quite hard on the lessons taught to me. Also please understand that I have no real dog in this fight, and that I would never result to controversial, simplified political matter in order to drive up views to my blog. I have always felt that knowledge is a tool and a powerful one that should be shared. So let me impart the wisdom of my meditation onto you.

It's unenlightened, dark age thinking to say "Those dumb rednecks don't understand that niggers, spics, and savages are less than us, and it is manifest density to pull them out of the squalor of their existence." "Some stupid republicans don't realize that African Americans and other minorities live an impoverished lifestyle because they lack white privilege" is how the new age modern man thinks and speaks.

Women are not "the lesser, fairer sex overcome by emotion, unable to think for themselves and unable to protect themselves." Society does however have to "pass laws to protect them from men who will harm them, as well as to protect themselves from the consequences of their actions they make in an altered state of mind." Confidence and assertiveness comes from body positivity and acceptance of self, not from knowing martial arts and how to defend oneself mentally and physically if ever confronted with physical violence. Society is as fault, not the individual. Except when the individual is at fault, but that's up to you to decide, or when I write an article attacking an individual. Whichever.

The right to higher schooling for everyone is more important than the right to good, available schooling. And it is more important than the right for good jobs to people with good skills.

Good schooling is needed for good jobs for good wages, while the affordable transportation for people to get to entry level jobs to learn skills needed for better jobs can wait. Good schooling is also needed for minorities, because better jobs and good opportunities come from college. College, by the way, is a place where anyone should be allowed to go to. This is because there are jobs that are hidden in every small town across America and on the back of every college diploma is map to show people where they are as well as a password to get in. Also, every college grad gets a car to drive themselves there.

Immigrants are not all criminals coming to steal work from hard working Americans. They are people coming from crime ridden, poor countries that don't have the same opportunities as the US, and are doing the work that lazy Americans won't do. They should be grateful that we are letting them come to the US and clean our houses for less than minimum wage. Lazy Americans don't understand that living in a house under the poverty line full of other family and people is a privilege that makes us greater than other nations. Sorry, not all Americans are lazy. Impoverished minorities without access to good jobs shouldn't do the work that immigrants do like house cleaning and farm work. They're not lazy like the white guys who won't do it, they dealt with years of slavery which exempts them from that work.

I'm sorry, I'm not being fair at all. Business owners are forced to hire people for less than minimum wage because unions are corrupt and have driven up production costs. Unions need to be a thing of the past because business owners that exploit workers are a relic of the Industrial revolution. Corruption in local and state governments is also a relic of hat bygone era, and money for failing schools and crumbling infrastructure need to come from higher taxes. How would you even begin to audit the state and local government?

There, a primer for anyone wishing to enter the political discussion of today. For anyone wishing to enter activism, please realize that voting is important, and more young people should be involved. Democracy is and always has been about voting. The big changes of the world came from large groups of people voting, not from large groups of people gathering to voice discontent with a system that may or may not marginalize or change their votes.  Any organizing group of people are violent, stupid, scared, and have yet to realize that the current system is perfect for showing discontent. You may organize, just remember that your group is either old fat white men, young entitled people who don't understand the world, thugs, or uneducated rednecks. Any organized group of today doesn't understand the struggles of the past or understand their privileges of today.

Frank Zappa, play me out.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A small post to loosen my brain and strengthen the nerves

In December, Puzzle and Game night will deal with the idea of facing anxiety. The motivation for the event will be the concept of an entirety spent alone and never trying to attempt to reach dreams. Is this world real or just illusion perpetrated by others? One will never know until they leave the walls that confine them and venture outside of their comfort zone.

I like to say we make our own success. What I need to say is that the only failure is being too scared to try. This job is taking my spirit. The people around me convince me that the only life worth living is a life of money and security because being poor sucks. I guess it is, but the fear of staying still and never trying is worse.

Have you ever had to write something, but your brain is clogged with other thoughts? I mean, god damn, this isn't even writer's block, this is staring at a piece of paper and wanting to write something different than what I'm supposed to. Best way I found to deal with the situation is to write the annoying thoughts, get them out of the way, then focus on the real work. This helps lube the brain and gets the fingers lose.

God, this works every time. Who needs alcohol when this boosts the confidence just as well?

Thursday, November 5, 2015

9 Books that every dumb person who wishes to be smart should read

I really like reading, but I hate book lists. There is a good audience for this, I think. Do you all ever read these damn things and get the feeling the author stopped reading after high school? Like, they got a reading list with Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse 5, and the Grapes of Wrath then decided that literature both begins and ends with those books.

I haven't read much Fitzgerald, but I used to love Vonnegut. That never would have happened if I just read Slaughterhouse 5. Vonnegut was what was right with Sci-Fi from the 50's and 60's in that he used sci-fi concepts to explore human nature. Sure, Slaughterhouse 5 sticks with it and has aliens and time travel while dealing with the horrors and futility of war, but every time I see that book on a list instead of something like God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater or Sirens of Titan, my soul cries a little. What makes some of his earlier work so memorable in my mind is his wit. His way with words made for some funny scenes while picking apart the world around him. That just doesn't come to my mind when I think Slaughterhouse 5. Slaughterhouse brings out my pretentious side at parties, the hipster part of me that talks about the fire bombing of Dresden and how important that book was in exposing the hypocrisy of people who think that there is just war. You know what though? Rosewater mentions Dresden. Cat's Cradle is a great allegory about the Bomb. To this day though, I think the best introduction to Vonnegut is Welcome to the Monkey house. I may not suggest it to people as much because it's a collection of short stories, but it covers a wide array of his work, so you get exposed to his early style as well as some of his post Slaughterhouse style. You should read Vonnegut, stop suggesting Slaughterhouse 5 because your high school English teacher liked it so much.

John Steinbeck is the same message, just a little harder because every English teacher loves him and all of his work is on every reading list. It's just between Grapes of Wrath and Slaughterhouse 5, it seems these people making lists not only want me to think that they are well read, but they TOTALLY know about history and junk too. God, people who write on the Internet are just so deep and mysterious and I bet they're just like a calm, dark river with a strong undertow.

I was going to write about Steinbeck, but it would just sound like Vonnegut above. You should read Tortilla Flats though. It would describe the Millennials if you replace 'wine' with 'marijuana'. Or read The Pearl because Steinbeck's best trick is writing an ending that makes you question your life and want to hide in a dark corner and hug your dog. No, instead let us talk books that are fun stories and also about history. Let's talk about All Creatures Great and Small. What a good mix of stories. Funny, heartwarming, depressing, and the whole time talks about life as a veterinarian in a small village in England in the 30's. Usually when I talk books with my dad, Harry Potter and this series comes up. We both have different tastes, I like deep heavy works where you have stop every 5 pages to think, or works of fiction with a deeper meaning behind them. He likes historical books about World War 2 and young adult fantasy and Sci-Fi. All Creatures and the other books in this series has something for everyone and does it well. Seriously, it doesn't challenge the ideas of how a story should be told like Joyce or Grapes of Wrath, but at least one or two of these stories will stick with you years later. Like James Herriot, the author, delivering a foal whilst intoxicated. Or him rescuing a dog that had been abandoned and had gang green along it's hind legs. Maybe try showing your sensitive side off when you talk books.

You know, the more I work on this list, and the more I think about other lists, the more I just don't like some other lists. So reading isn't something you should do to unwind after a hard day at work, no that's the job of TV. There is only one reason to read and make lists of books that others should read and that is to prove that you are just a much better person. I need books on here that show that I understand what the world is going through right now. Books that show an un-American perspective on current events. Especially in the middle East, because Americans are so stupid they can't even find the middle East on a globe. Something that shows the proud culture of these misunderstood people. Well, I don't have anything like that. But have you read The Koran, The Bible, or The Epic of Gilgamesh? Those books really mesh, and they give the illusion that you once took a class in theology.

No, I want to talk about Ayn Rand. Her ideas found a resurgence in pop culture a few year back, and I have to wonder if many of you out there read any of her books. Not all of her work, mind you, it's just I have met plenty of people who have opinions on Ayn Rand but not as many who have read her work. Personally, I think you should read The Fountainhead because it's not as long as Atlas Shrugged and it's also the only book I've read by her. The reason why is that I've read plenty of things about Objectivism, so I'm frightened that her other books will destroy my thoughts on Fountainhead.

I think objectivists miss the point. They really seem more like hardcore capitalists who believe that hard work leads to success, and success means having more money than God. Sure, in the end Howard Roark gets the girl, makes the money and gives a speech, but what has stuck with me isn't that he worked hard, he worked hard at something he's passionate about. Characters fail in the novel because they are either sooth sayers or they do what other people think they should do. Honestly, over the next few months I will probably spend a bit of time talking about radical ideas, socialism, and anarchy because that's the type of stuff I've been reading, besides all the books about mathematics. So if you end up getting fed up with all my hippy bullshit, come back to this and realize that I think well read people should read this book, if not something by Ayn Rand.

Speaking of hippy bullshit, I rediscovered Deschooling Society by Ivan Illich. He was not a hippy, but you should read this book because I want to talk about it, but it is so very hard to talk about. Long story short, education is the greatest thing that happens to men, but we are always learning and school is an institution that is what is wrong with society. He argues that we need to not just get rid of school, but change our outlook on education. School is not something that allows the poor to rise out of their existence, because the poor don't have the same resources to get a good education out of school. Education should not be a means to end, which is making money and keeping your self in the right class or moving up to a higher class. An actual education is important, but his argument is that any means of school reform is useless, because school is the problem. We need to spend more time meeting with people with different ideas, we need to learn for fun, and travel for pleasure and knowledge, not to wear as a badge of honer to show off to your friends. It's hard to talk about because it's very radical, so read it so we can talk more about it, m'kay?

The Karma Sutra. I'm worried that this list is looking like the reading list of repressed white nerd, so going with that theme is The Karma Sutra. Famous for naughty pictures, I'm impressed with the way it handles the topic of sex. Forget about the sexual positions, some of those are designed for a culture that includes stretching in their religion. Instead, focus on the fact that the book has tables in it. Tables that show the perfect coupling between the various sizes of vaginas and penises. A religious work on sex that dares to claim that some people aren't as horny as other people. Even in our modern culture where we can talk about sex and use fruit to show that vaginas come in various shapes and sizes, this concept that not every one has the same sexual appetites is still some how lost in that discussion. And The Karma Surtra has tables to help demonstrate these ideas.

This entire post was inspired by a list of books I read this morning called Books Every Well Read Person Has Read. When it comes to reading, I have no tolerance for pretentious people. You can read thick, heavy tomes that examine what human nature is. You can read ancient literature that influenced the modern novel. Reading is so many things, and it's been around for so long that you can still read the words and first hand accounts of people and cultures that have been dead for centuries. That is not a claim that movies can make, and you can listen to modern interpretations of classical composers, but you will never hear an orchestra lead by Bach. Books and reading do not make you an interesting and introspective person. They help expose you to new ideas and thoughts, but that will never happen if you keep suggesting I read On the Origin of Species. Because of the "Well read person" statement, I was going to put C.P. Snow on this list. When I started talking about his books is when others started calling me well read. But you know what every well read person has read? Some guilty pleasure, sort of trashy pulp novel. It wasn't for escapism. It wasn't to gain new insights to an otherwise foreign culture. It was because they just like to read. Here something everyone should read: next time you're on the shitter, read the back of a shampoo bottle. Maybe read the text on a macaroni box when you're in the kitchen. Don't read for any grand reason or you need a way to impress your next date. Just read for the fact that you can read, and try to find some enjoyment in it.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Post Title

I should just write this in seasons. That way. in my mind I could justify taking time off. Man, every job should be like that.

I kind of miss that when I was farm hand. Summer time was the farm, something I loved to do and wanted to be better at, then winter was time  to do something new. A chance to refocus and try something else for a change. Okay, I always like to stop and redefine success for myself, and that is how I know I will have done well for myself in 5 years. If I can take 3 months off and then return to my job to refocus, then I've found my calling in life.

It's the moeteny that gets to you in life. Waking up every day and rinse, recycle repeat the same pattern. This is not a life I was meant for, a life where I just do the same thing every day. I fought against before, so why accept it now? Why just sit here and let life decide what it wants for me? There is nothing in that except for frustration.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Fuck the shit, and fuck your politics

I started watching the democratic debate, and coincidently I started drinking. Honestly, I've stopped watching because 5 minutes in I relieazed I hate real world politics when I start to follow it. So I'll tell you what, Imma gonna make a pot of tea, spike it with more whiskey, and then I'll rant to the void about the anarchist  and socialist stuff I've been reading lately.

For anyone playing along at home, I'm drinking green tea mixed with coconut milk, sugar, and a big dose of Jack Daniels brand whiskey. Yes, that's right, Jack Daniels brand whiskey is the only whiskey recommended by both doctors and pediatricians. If life has got you down and nothing seems to go your way, then try Jack Daniels brand whiskey for a new, IMPROVED, outlook on life.

What has fueled tonight's concept is drinking, Clinton's comment that capitalism is great because a business person can own there own business, and a small argument with a roommate about what Marx REALLY said. There's a couple thoughts I have right now, first: I've heard that said before, and that's not what make capitalism great. That's not even what makes it unique. Second: If you own your own business, you have pay various taxes and fees to the state and various licensing bodies, as well as trying to make money for your investors, so do you REALLY own your own business in our version or capitalism?

Did you know that Vladimir Lenin believed in private ownership of business? He did not believe in private ownership of property, but business he felt could help the state because of competition and such. Citation needed, but what keeps me from posting regularly is fact checking, so come at me bro. My point is, capitalism vs communism is not who gets to own the business. There was way more government regulation in the USSR, but that didn't stop people. Aside, I would argue that there was more of punk rock attitude in the USSR during the '70's then the rest of the world. Listen to Aquarium.

Wait, back up. So what is the difference? The best argument I found is The Capitalist's Bible, who argued that "Like classic economics, Marxian economics is based on the labor theory of value." To you the reader I ask, who deserves the fruit of labor? The best I can do is this: Socialism v Objectism. The value of an object is based on it's value. It's value is based on how much someone wants it. If I go out, and based on my initiative I decide to start selling widgets, because fuck all, whiskey has decided everyone needs a widget. The thing is, in order to produce one of these damn things I need a company. For ease, it's me, a salesman, a builder, and a janitor. Who should make the most money?

Simple Marxian economics is that the person who produced the most labor makes the most money. Without the builder, then the company is SOL. Objectivism says that since I make the tough decisions, then I should make the most money and fuck the janitor since we can clean our own damn building. Now, I included both the salesman and the janitor since they are both necessary jobs that I avoid like the plague. Sure, good man, good chairs, hard beaten path to his door and all that jazz, but his chairs are useless if no one knows about them. Also, I fucking hate cleaning. The only reason why I want too much money is to pay someone to clean for me. Sure I could sell my own product and clean up after myself, but to me the value of people who can do this better is worth it. This because time saved cleaning and selling is time spent coming up with new and better ideas.

In modern society, it's more complex. Man has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. These are all marketable goods that have been assigned values by economists. Man, who thought that if you have the ability to help others, you should? It wasn't followers of Ayn Rand. It's just those basic human rights have too high of value. Not dieing of dehydration due to my own bad decisions is somewhere around 1500 USD. It's my right to be alive, but that's about as much as I make in a month, before my cost of living. If I can't buy the dollar value of not dieing of dehydration, should I be left to die and keep myself out of the gene pool? That's not even capitalism, that jut a strange concept from the early 20th century.

Should society meet the rights of the individual, or the should the individual meet the needs of of society? Is personal liberty more important than the greater good? The price of material comes from what value people put on it as well as the labor involved. It's a strange delicate system that is better suited for a different time. That's not the important question we need to ask ourselves. The money entitled to me, as a worker, does that go to an awesome mansion, a new car, and a rocking health care plane? Or does it go to "society" which could be me, or a down on his luck worker, or some lazy bastard who works the system? I don't know, because whiskey and green tea. You figure it out, I'm going to pass out. Luis Prat and Utah Phillips, play me out.