Sunday, November 30, 2014

Sunday Subtext

To think, a story with no hidden meaning. No god-awful subtext lying beneath the surface. How would a writer, a man skilled with the use of words and flow and pacing, keep the story subtext free? Easily, my dear Watson, but the fun doesn't lay in the idea that a writer can write without subtext, the fun lies with the idea that the reader cannot avoid looking for subtext.

A man went out, got laid, and afterwards got beers with male friends. In fact, it could be said that he was a real ladies man, he went out every night and got a different woman, then went out for beers later with guy friends.

A story with no subtext. Or maybe you're not looking hard enough.

Friday, November 21, 2014

How do people write?

How do you pick the right voice for writing? Is finding the right voice over rated? How the hell do you figure out who you are writing for? Once I figure out who I want to write for, writing becomes easier, but until then I'm not entirely sure what to say or how to say it. Just stuff I'm thinking about tonight. Enjoy your weekend.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The final puzzle solution

My plan for this puzzle is to put the last of my findings about the treasure riddle here, then make a plug for this month's math chat.

If the trees are plotted on a Cartesian plan, the following rules are true:
  1. When tree A > B, then the treasure is at a point (x, y)
  2. When tree A < B, then the treasure is at a point (x, -y)
For experimental purposes, the 2 points on a Cartesian plane will be (0,0) and (6,0). According to the riddle, the gallows can be at any point on the plane. In effect, this makes it any random point on our Cartesian plane.

Start with the gallows at point (3, -4) and call it G1. The resulting vector G1B can be demonstrated with δy/δx, which translates to {(4 - 0)/(3 - 6)} = -4/3, which would give it a positive slope of 4/3. The directions state that a 90o turn to the right must be made, resulting in a vector equal in length to the original, but with a negative slope of 3/4, which would make the stake (S1) at point (10, -3).  The placement of the gallows was chosen for being halfway between the distance of the trees, so following the directions gives the solution mirror symmetry, placing the S2 at the inverse of S1 along the x-axis, (-10, -3). Following the directions one step further puts the point "treasure" at (3, -3) just one unit ahead of the gallows on the y-axis.

Simple ways to check to see if the answer is true is to:
  1. Pick more random points and follow the directions
  2. Put the gallows on the opposite side of the y-axis (3, 4) and follow the directions

By choosing the 2nd option, the first vector, GB, would be an extension of the second vector in the first step thereby having the same negative slope of 3/4, and a 90o turn to the right would place it at (2, -3). Again, the left turn directions for point A gives the destination of the resulting stake at a mirror point (4, -3), leaving the treasure at the point (3, -3).

What's fascinating about the solution to the problem is not that the treasure always falls at the same point no matter where the gallows are, it that the treasure ALWAYS falls along a point that is (x = (0.5 * the distance to B), y = negative (0.5 * the distance to B)) when B > A no matter what the distance between the two. I will leave this to the reader to experiment with.

When the points are reversed, that is B = (0, 0) and A = (6, 0), the location of treasure is also reversed or (x = (0.5 * the distance to B),  y = (0.5 * the distance to B)) when B < A. This is not that spectacular in itself, but visualize the problem. If one were to show up on an island with only the clues "One tree is A, and the other is B", how would one decide which tree was which when they got there? Whose to say my tree A is the same as your tree A? This gives the original puzzle two possible solutions, which means if you find a parchment with this riddle on it, it's best to bring an extra friend with their own shovel.

I'm going to take a moment to plug this months Philadelphia Math Counts Meetup. This month we have been watching Michael Starbird's videos on "How to model the Continuum." Starbird uses fairly simple math as a way a to demonstrate how build good problem solving skills, which in turn helps lead to better reasoning skills and better proof building skills. Even if you don't live in Philadelphia, I suggest you go to the link and watch the videos in the description. They are well done and are aimed for people who aren't good at math.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The answer to a riddle (is not what you would expect)

Now, you may have seen the riddle I posted yesterday, the one that I've been claiming to everyone that I had worked on all day yesterday. I just posted a link, but here is the riddle:
An old parchment describes the location of buried treasure: "On the island there are only two trees, A and B, and the remains of a gallows. Start at the gallows and count the steps required to walk in a straight line to tree A. At the tree turn 90 degrees to the left and then walk forward the same number of steps. At the point where you top drive a spike into the ground. Now return to the gallows and walk in a straight line, counting your steps, to tree B. When you reach the tree, turn 90 degrees to the right and take the same number of steps forward, placing another spike at the point where you stop. Dig at the point exactly halfway between the spikes and you will find the treasure." However, our hero when he gets to the island finds the gallows missing. Is there any way he can still get to the treasure?
I'm going to give you the website's answer in the next paragraph, so fair warning if you're coming here today and you're interested in solving this yourself. But first, a "funny" story: The reason I became so obsessed with this is because I was convinced that the traditional answer to this puzzle is bullshit. And it was the first thing I sort of proved yesterday. Then I realized I did something wrong, the answer was right, and spent an entire day working on trying to get a rule set up. The last thing I did yesterday before giving up on the post and posting what I did instead was realize that my initial hypothesis was true. Yup, it took me nine hours to go in a full circle. This is type of stuff that needs to be taught to aspiring scientists and mathematicians.

Now that I've made some space and allowed some of you to work on the puzzle, I'll give you both answers to the puzzles. Everyone's answer to this is: Don't think too hard on this. A simple experiment with paper, pencil and a ruler will show that the treasure is always in the same spot no matter where the gallows is. Which is true, sort of.

You are about to witness the reason why I did so poorly in high school math. On a piece of paper, label two points, A and B.  They can be at any distance, they can be at an angle, whatever floats your boat. With any random third point, following the rules (or algorithm if you prefer) will bring you to the exact same point. That is correct.

Try to actually visualize this in the real world though. Imagine yourself on an island, with only two trees. Which tree is A, and which tree is B? The riddle doesn't describe a map, it just says it "describes the location of the treasure." After working with the real answer all day, I discovered a fairly simple rule that bypasses all the crap of the directions.

Stand in a straight line with the trees, in such a way the tree in front overlaps the tree in back. With this setup in mind, the tree in front will be tree A. The treasure will always be to the right of tree A. More specifically, find the distance halfway between the trees, turn to the right of tree A, and walk that distance again. No matter what the distance is, as long as you follow the rules in the parchment, the treasure will always be here. But do you see the practical problem here?

How do you tell which is tree A, and which is tree B? A simple experiment with pencil and paper will demonstrate what I am talking about. 2 points on a graph, approximately 5 units apart. The one on the right is A, and the one on the left is B. According to the rules set out by the parchment, the treasure will be above the trees. But take the same dots, and change the names, so lefty is A and righty is B. Now the treasure is south of the dots. Same distance, same rules. 2 different answers.

The reason why I did poorly in math class was because I was the smartass who asked "How am I going to us this in the real world?" and because I thought the real world examples they used were poorly designed. I have a story about triangles and men who put up circus tents that I like to tell. Anyways, there is their answer, and there is my answer. I have a ton of math to explain why that I'm working on at the moment, but there is still a lot of unknowns in it that I'm trying to explore. For example, squares, right triangles and the fact the quadratic formula is the only formula I can think of with a positive and negative answer keeps popping up in this work time and time again. Until then, polka!

Monday, November 17, 2014

A link to a riddle for you.

I've been watching videos on how to understand problems more deeply, and it's been pointed out to me that the method described in the videos is the first steps on building proofs. I've also been reading The Book of Proof and decided to try my hand at working on some proofs for this. It, like all good problems, has a bunch of weird crap popping up in it that keeps dragging it on. Do you like riddles? Check this one out. I need to work on the wording of the post in question for the proof.

Friday, November 14, 2014


So I'm officially taking the write non-fiction challenge this month. Don't know how this will end up, since I started writing yesterday on a whim because I had a little extra time to start. It's good to announce this though, since maybe I'll get some more tips and helps from all the writers out there.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

More for myself, I'm afarid

So I've set a goal for myself. After one of my "fun" periods of lying in bed before I sleep and wondering if I'll ever accomplish any more of the goals in my life (Right, my worry isn't "will I accomplish anything", it's "will I accomplish more." There is something wrong with my brain) I've decided to sit down and work on my goal for next year: finally write this god-damn paper/book thing that has been in my head for two years. I'm here today to loosen my brain up so I can start thinking of something and make this flow.

The key to this is not a focus on calculation math. My favorite books and papers by the mathematicians I admired had surprisingly little calculations in them. Newton is credited with inventing calculus, and the parts of his books that aren't logic are just geometry, really. Some of the best philosophers had a mathematicans style and outlook on the world when writing. The best being Bertrand Russel, Pascal, and Chomsky, of course. The style I know, the tone to pick is key, but more importantly, what is a topic I can write 50,000 words about?

Mushrooms and math. Mushrooms, math, and chemistry. Mushrooms, math, chemistry, and philosophy. God, I may fail sometimes, but it's not because I don't dream big. I tried being a burnout that did drugs and ate chips while watching the telly, but it just didn't stick, I'm afraid.

As I think about this more and more, I can piece it together in my mind. First, maybe an outline? Ok, I think I got this. Anybody who comes across this today, have fun. I'm writing because I have the time to write and no one is bothering me at all. Next few days will be that type of attitude, since the last 2 months I wanted to write, but had a tough time sitting down to do it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

5 things you would never belive help stimulate creativy in the work place!

There are many things we all do at work which some might consider "counterproductive", "wrong", "borderline illegal", or "just plain illegal and immoral". In reality though, all things bad for you are good for you, while the inverse is also true. So here are 5 things you can do at a job which are actually good for you, and sometimes your creativity.

  1. Stretching!

    • Stretching can be good for all sorts of aliments. Done correctly, it can be a good cardiovascular workout, it can clear the mind of any stress and helps center the mind. With better focus and blood flow, the mind can flourish in a creative way. You know what else is good cardio and helps center the mind?

  2. Masturbation!

    • That's right, a date with Pamela Handerson and her five friends. I personally can't focus on work with sex on the mind, so why fight the feelings and feel embarrassed about something that is natural and we all do? Some of us may be shy about doing this deed at work, but there is a lesson that can be taken from our former presidents: if you are feeling coy about this, get an intern to help out.

  3. Stealing Office Supplies!

    • Again, why feel ashamed? It's a well know fact that if your company DOESN'T want you take things, then they should be paying you a better fee for your time. This is also a great activity for creativity. When sneaking to the closet, try imagining you're James Bond, Solid Snake, or any spy of your choosing. Practice you're speaking and manipulation skills when you are caught. It's good practice if your ever promoted and get caught in a scandal. And when you finally do get your hands on those items, are you aware of all the things you can create? Why, the Anarchist Cookbook alone has a hundred rainy day actives that can be made with items found in the office.

  4. Napping!

    • It's a tough job being a creative idea man (or idea person, whatever floats your boat). How can a person recharge their mind, without some sort of mental vacation? Dreams allow the mind to wander, it allows the mind to stretch and journey into realms unknown. It's an exploration of new, undiscovered countries, and many great men like Albert Einstein or Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz found inspiration in their dreams. You know who reportedly never had a dream, ever? Hitler. So put your feet back, relax, and put yourself down for a 2 hour nap.

  5. Hallucinogenic Drugs!

    • Not everyone works at a place that allows them time to sleep. We here at Aristotle's Mistake understand this, and we understand that maybe instead of a 2 hour nap, you simply consume an ounce of shrooms before work. This perfectly acceptable behavior, since psychotropic substances are simply the minds way of dreaming while awake. See the above entry for why dreaming, ergo tripping, is good for a creative mind. Maybe mandatory LSD breaks would help with moral and productivity? Maybe someone should try it.

Next time someone catches you on the job doing any of these things, simply explain to them how things like ethics or morals are simply a construct of a constrictive hierarchy designed to quash creativity and free spirit, and by freeing yourself from these imaginary bonds you reaching for a new plane of understanding. These are also great tips for anyone working from home, too, since you might find as a temporary freelancer after trying some of the things on this list.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tuesday morning yoga

Somewhere, out there now, is a security video of me doing yoga in a holding cell.

This idea alone is enough to take mind wrapped up in fear and doubt, and for just a moment realize that ridiculous sight is stuck in the information of the universe. There is one thing and one thing only that could make that video even more perfect: a video of me in a chicken suit doing yoga.

I want people out there who might might be reading this to picture this for a moment. Some guy, with bright red longer hair and a beard to match, doing yoga in a small cell in a chicken outfit. And when I say yoga, I don't mean "doing some stretching" I mean back bends, handstands, down ward dog, dolphin pose, all of it.

In fact, this is an opportunity for a writing exercise. Just sit down with a pencil and paper, then think about what events would lead to a man in chicken suit doing yoga in a jail cell. I know the events that lead me to having a security video of doing yoga in a holding cell, and it's god awful boring and ridiculous. Just pay your parking tickets people. And if you decide to jog at 2:30 in the morning, don't jog through closed parks in bad neighborhoods and choose your jogging clothes appropriately.

Here's my problem with that statement. When I say "choose jogging clothes appropriately" my mind automatically takes an all or nothing approach. The nothing approach is simple: t-shirt, shorts, maybe sweats. The type of boring ass stuff you think of when you think of jogger. The type of people me and George Carlin want to hit with our cars. I tend to jog, do yoga, and bike in jeans, and a flannel. It's all I own, really, and I'm not going to go out and spend a ton of money on exercise equipment to look like a fucking jogger. I won't be a part of you're system, and I refuse to give my hard earned money to Big Jogging. But this is where I'm wrong. If you're going to look different, then you really can't half ass it with jeans and a flannel. That's why I need a chicken suit.

That scene of confronting 3 cops at 2:30 would have been made better with a chicken suit. Explaining that I'm not on drugs would be priceless. Seeing a judge for a year old traffic violation dressed as clucky would be an exercise in trying to keep a straight face. In fact, when I become George Lucas rich and powerful, and am given the power to make a special edition of my life, that entire scene will be digitally enhanced with a chicken suit. This is America, after all, and if I don't have the freedom to run in what I want, well then we are no better than those commies terrorist bastards that hate us so.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Don't read to deep into this

I'm hopping mad. I'm fuming. I need a place to vent, a hole to shout into while I stamp my feet and pound my fist. I need a void to talk into.

You know why we have a bully problem? Because our children look up to us and see the bullies we have to deal with day in and day out and see us put our heads down in shame and we mumble "Yes sir, no sir, would you like some fries too, sir?" And we feel better in when we are watching the news, and we see the bullies get their comeuppance. The corrupt CEO goes to jail. The priest who touches children, well, the system catches up to him. The politicians who we say are bad, the police who are taking money from drug dealers. "They'll get what they deserve." we say as we keep our eyes on the grindstone.

Why? Why are we taught that this is a system that works? Why do we except that schools are a better path to a better life? Why do we chant the mantra, "If I work hard, then then life will be better?" Why do we see criminals and lowlifes and think of them as "the left behinds"? We tuck ourselves behind the security of our setup, and there seems to be this idea that it will reward us. We don't have to be lucky, we just have to find the opportunities in life, we have to take them, and in time we will have our dreams.

Stop for a moment, though. What does luck have to do with this? What about the people who were labeled the poor, the stupid, and the trouble makers early on in life? Not everyone is told that they can make it. Bill Gates was smart, and smart people get ahead. So was Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerburg. Ignore the fact that they had an opportunity that even smart people aren't given: the chance to drop out out of Harvard. The chance to brush shoulders with the elite. The rest of us will just smile and we work harder to have a bit more than our parents and give a better life to our kids. Some of us are looked at and told "You come from the poor side of X-town. You may get to a state school, if you're not like your trouble making drunk of a father."

I'm mad because sometimes I feel like people see young male, long hair, long beard, tie die and a drug rug and they think "well, he's up to no good", or sometimes they try to buy drugs from me or sell drugs to me. And sometimes I think about the fact that well, I could get a haircut, wear fine clothes, shave. But then, what about the people who can't? How about a Mexican guy who has a good job and is well know in his community, but is still searched by the police for drugs? The black lawyer who get hassled? Ivy League women who still have to deal with bullshit?

Friday, November 7, 2014

One more ADHD, for the road.

The guy who has undiagnosed ADHD and takes a lot of drugs is similar to the dog that eats grass: in their mind they can feel that something is wrong and for some reason doing this activity makes them feel better, even if it makes them throw up on the carpet later.

I know people that take smoke pot or drink a beer to take the edge off. For the most part, these activities do not affect their personal relationships or their jobs, it's a way to relax at the end of the day that's not TV, or reading, or cooking. I know people who do or have done hallucinogenics as a way to connect with a higher power or unlock new parts of the mind. That wasn't me.

I smoked pot because I had a tendency to focus too much on a thought, and this caused me problems. I drank because it was a legal alternative. Sometimes when I mixed these drugs together with exercise, I could unlock amazing powers of focus that allowed me to do fun creative things. Most of the time though, I had a bit going through my system and couldn't decide if I was drunk, high or tripping. A problem with ADHD can be an inability to misread people, this problem is not helped by mixing of xanax and alcohol.

To quote this article:
Adults living with undiagnosed ADHD may engage in addictive behavior simply because they are medicating the primary diagnosis, which may be inaccurate. If they receive a proper diagnosis and proper treatment, they will be less likely to turn to drugs or alcohol and less likely to succumb to addiction.
Many articles I read that are not in medical journals have their hearts in the right place, meaning that it worrisome that so many people are diagnosed with ADHD, and it's treated with medication, and their are people who are smart enough to scam doctors for meds. These articles set me off when they either misunderstand the problem, or they have agenda in mind and misquote people. Symptoms of ADHD don't go away when adults quite their jobs and become entrepreneurs, in fact entrepreneurs tend to have ADHD because hyperactivity or hyper-focus is a huge asset.

Some people tend to work at night. Night work is awesome, actually, because the people in charge don't want to be up at night and therefore you are allowed to be wild, crazy, creative, and work at your own pace. ADHD, like any skill set really, thrives in an enviroment when it can use it like a tool and are allowed to work at their own pace and speed. This is frustrating to everyone else in the world, though.

My natural state is to keep as many projects going as I can, and adopt an organization system called "piles of stuff." To the outside observer, this looks like what is known as "being unorganized" or "being unfocused". I get to say something here that I wanted to say for a long time: "I'm sorry your pedestrian brain cannot see the link between all the stuff I am doing." I have a tendency to get bored very easily, and boredom doesn't lead to laying on the couch saying "I'm SO bored!" it leads to stuff like learning how to build a bomb. Or teaching my friends how to build a mortar. Or stealing my roommates clothes as ammunition for said mortar. All in all, unchecked boredom leads to problems for society. Using that tendency to keep a hundred projects open at once is awesome, though: I can learn about biology, math, computers, and Russian then come up with ways to connect them to make my life easier.

This is horribly frustrating at times. When I was in high school, I took AP classes because regular classes felt easy, but I also worked my ass off to be a starter in football, I needed a job for money, and girls existed, too. Most of my friends just choose 1 or 2 things, I tried to all of them. I got depressed when I couldn't be the super star and wondered what was wrong with me. Recently, this has become trying to hold a job, write this blog, involve myself in the science stuff in Philadelphia, and try and run a math group thing. It sucks that one or more things require my brain power and energy and I feel like I can't focus on the things I want to focus on. Traditionally, frustration also leads me to do stuff like punch bosses. Ah, the wonderful world of energy and impulsive behavior.

Recently, I get my projects under control. Usually it happens when I get rid of the project or person who drains my time, energy, and motivation and offers nothing in return. I know the worst offender, I just haven't figured out what to do about it yet.

Monday, November 3, 2014

ADHD is not just boredom

Hi, my name is Sam Bledsoe, and approximately 3 years and 2 months ago I was diagnosed with adult ADHD.

There has been many things that have happened to me in my 26 years. I've packed them full of life. But, without a doubt, being diagnosed with ADHD was one of the greatest things to happen to me.

I write this because of a New York Times article, A Natural Fix for ADHD . While I was looking for that link, I find that they have written many articles in the same vein. The problem is, many people are being misdiagnosed with ADHD. That is a problem, because the treatment for it is legal cocaine. Their conclusion is bunk, however: it is a real disease, and a misdiagnoses isn't "boredom".

I'm gonna get really fucking passionate here, because this is an issue near and dear to me. If you knew me before I was 23, your impression of me may have one of two things: either "Man, your very bright, inquisitive, clever and talented. Why the fuck won't apply yourself, and why are you wasting your time here?" or it may have been "Clean yourself up man. You're destroying yourself with drugs." Highschool was the definition of rough for me. I was bright, I got into classes above my grade, and I new how to work out answers. I also constantly walled myself off from people and had problems with being too focused that eventually got me a call from the police claiming I was a stalker. And that's when the drugs started, mainly because I felt like a freak, and the feeling I got on that shit normalized me. 19 thru 23 was a combination of drugs and depression. I never tried to commit suicide though, no I would just take insane risk in my life. Like climbing 50 ft trees on percocet and beer. I got over that, and then would just put on a good face for people, then when I was at home, I would sit in my barn and drink a six pack as quickly as I could. I drank 4 beers in 10 minutes. You don't feel drunk at first, but 20 minutes later the feeling hits you in the face. Then I was diagnosed with ADHD.

Now I have a job I enjoy that allows me to use my love of agriculture, science and math. Being diagnosed changed my outlook on life. So, ADHD is a real thing.

Is it misdiagnosed? Yes, a lot. There are some doctors who really just overzealous drug dealers with an expensive degree, there are some patients who are addicts looking to score, and there is a metric ton of misinformation and confusion.

The article brought up the environmental issues that could be attributed to a lack of focus. Things like hunger, not staying properly hydrated, lack of simulation in class or work, too much stimulation in the media, among others. I've seen it all before. My background with drugs made me avoid taking drugs to treat this, and I'll come back to this. But yes, before seeing a doctor or diagnosing yourself with ADHD, there are many environmental factors you should seek to change first. If those don't work, and there are still problems GET A REAL DIAGNOSES.

Mental disorders are a such a young science. The problem of a misdiagnoses is more than just "Oh, you don't have ADHD, it's just boredom". I used to have a roommate who was diagnosed ADD as a kid, because kids weren't diagnosed bipolar. It wasn't until he was much older he was found to be bipolar. This guy was definitely bipolar too, excuse me for being blunt but anyone who has dealt with bipolar off their meds or undiagnosed can attest to the fact that they are a bag of fucking crazy. Some of the symptoms of these disorders overlap with each other. Depression is a common symptom for a lot of these. An inability to focus comes into play in a few of these to. So it may not just be "boredom".

Lets talk meds. I wanted to stay away from medication because feeling addicted to drugs usually means at one point you realize that if you don't have your drug of choice, you can't properly function in simple day to day life. And I have since met people who arn't addicted because their doctors tell them so, but still can't properly function without them. That's an unfair assessment of medication though. Meds are a fun thing. That article doesn't talk about the affects of adderol on someone with, say, schizophrenia. Impoper medication can do some really weird things to people with different brain patterns. I know a guy who tried taking adderol but it made him "hear really mean voices". I'm not sure what he's being treated for, never asked. I know a woman with bipolar that took one of the meds and had some crazy side affects that are usually seen in people who have ADHD and take that drug. Oh, actually that's something worth mentioning too. Since be properly treated for bipolar after being diagnosed in her late 40's, she's become fun to be around and has found some very late success. But her bipolar brain might have some similar patterns to ADHD. It's not a hard science, really. Like I said, it's a young science and there is still a lot to be discovered.

The point is, yeah, maybe people aren't focusing because they are under-stimulated or over-stimulated. There is so much more at stake though then to just write it off as "not a real disease." Because it may not be boredom, it may be something else. Honestly, if your diagnosed with it and your not in it for the pills, pay attention to if treatment actually helps. If it doesn't seem to be working pressure your doctor to find out what it might be. Or switch and get a second opinion.