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Monday, February 28, 2011

Half-Life: Greatest Video Game

There are many great games and for many people it is hard to choose which game deserves the very first spot. But for me it is no difficult choice at all, Half-Life (1998) easily gets the first place spot with no close competitor.

Anyone who does not recognize Half-Life as the top game, or at least as one of the top games ever made I consider such a person to be a video game fool who has no understanding of gaming history and the influence of which games brought.

What makes Half-Life so special is how it revolutionized the first-person genre completely. FPS games fall into pre-Half Life and post-Half Life era. Consider FPS classic games like Wolfenstein, DooM, Quake and Duke Nukem. All of these games are classics and a game like DooM or Quake would probably even make the top 10 list. But all of these classic shooters lacked something.

All these shooters were pure action games. There was hardly any story. Sure the game had a story. In Wolfenstein you were escaping from a Nazi castle. In DooM you were fighting an invasion from Hell. But that was it. None of the story developed. Each level was the same. It was just more intense. You collect keys, or cards, to open doors and move on. That is not really a modern FPS game, that is an old fashioned FPS game that is purely action/arcade based.

It took one game to change them all, and that game was Half-Life. Half-Life had a revolutionary different way in which FPS games were presented. For one thing in Half-Life the game started before the story. You began playing as if nothing happened. All other games put you into the middle of the action. Half-Life allowed you to see how the entire story develops from even before the beginning.

There were no levels there were no cutscenes there were no messages boxes to tell you a story. You get to see the story. You get to experience it. You develop the story with your actions rather than the story being handed over to you.

The story itself was superb. The ending was special, in that you choose your own ending. The gameplay was fantastic. The artificial intelligence was amazing. The graphics were decent(for its time, though this was the weakest part of Half-Life, however, lucky for me, I always say that graphics do not define a good game). All of these elements together created the finest game that were made.

Just consider the following fact. When Half-Life came out it got over 50 "game of the year awards". PCGamer called it to be the greatest game of all time in its 2000 and 2004 edition (not sure about other editions, if they ever even had those). GameSpy had a 64 playoff battle between all great games which were decided by voting members. Without a surprise Half-Life won the first place followed by Super Mario Bros. Recently GameSpot (not 8 years ago, recent, 2010) had a playoff between the best video game heroes, Gordon Freeman (the charachter from Half-Life) got the first place. Consistently Half-Life dominated these sorts of contests.

There is a reason why this is the most decorated game in history, because it is the best. The problem is that games are not like books. A game which is three years old is already considered to be "old". Half-Life is 13 years old, I remember playing it as a little boy. So it is largely forgotten by a lot of people. It has become forgotten how revolutionary this game really was and how much it influenced all following first-person shooters. Whenever you play any modern first-person shooter there is a remnant of Half-Life in all of them.

Of course, it is possible to make a modern game today with a 10 gigabyte memory, powerful graphics, and a stronger AI that is better than Half-Life. That is not amazing. What is amazing is making a game like Half-Life back when computers were not so powerful. And it is not so amazing because it will be influenced by the structure of Half-Life itself.

Atlas Shrugged: The Movie

It came to my attention that there is going to be an Atlas Shrugged movie that is going to be released. Upon hearing this I said to myself that the world needs an Atlas Shrugged movie just as much as it needs another Duane Reade.

I seen the trailer for the movie. It looks terrible. And I would be surprised if the movie even turns out being average. But I am excited about seeing it. Not sure why. I even found someone to drag along with me to the movies. I never go to movies. Last time I was at a movie was about two years ago. So I guess I am excited not so much about that I get to watch such a movie but rather that I have an excuse to go and watch a movie with someone. Most movies have no appeal to me at all. But this has a small appeal to me. Not because I like Ayn Rand but rather because I never read her book. I am not a fan of fiction and I am not interested in reading a 2000 page book when I can instead spend that time reading something else instead. However, Rand's ideas do preach liberty, though from a very different approach that I take, and for that reason alone I am interested in seeing what the theme of the movie is about.

I am skeptical to how much of the themes will be in the movie that are related to the original Atlas Shrugged. My "movie date" told me that because it is made in Hollywood they are not so interested in staying close to the themes but instead to make it more action based. She is probably right, though I would still like to see the message of the movie.

The movie will be appropriately released on April 15th.

Gay Rights

There is something that I noticed is not really discussed about gay rights. It is something that I am sure everybody realizes but hardly every brought up. Gay activists (or whatever they are called) sometimes compare the movement to treat gays equally with the black movements of the 1960's. This is not fair at all.

The big huge distinction between how gay people are treated and how black people were treated is that gay people have not been really oppressed in the US. I did hear of anti-sodomy laws but those were very local. I never heard of a federal or even state law that targeted gay people. Maybe I am ignorant of such laws, but I think I am correct, if those such laws did exist we would expect the gay activists to quote them from past history as proof of gay oppression. The hatred, evil, and oppression that was done to gay people was very decentralized. It was nowhere as terrible as what black people had to go through.

Black people were slaves for much of US history, after the end of slavery they were treated as sub-humans compared to the whites, and in some states they were oppressed for simply being black.

Where has this kind of oppression ever happened to gay people? Sure, it happened in other countries. Gay people are one of many people to have been brutally oppressed for being different. You can still see the tyrannical oppression against them in the Middle-East. But we are talking about the US here. Where in US history have gays been treated as if they are beneath human?

Gays were not made to walk on different sidewalks. They were not told they cannot use a public bathroom. They were not enslaved to others and made to do work. That never happened.

I live in New York City, you can find a lot of gay people here. Sometimes when I walk down the streets I see a gay couple holding hands. Nothing happens. No people in the street get angry and complain. No police officer arrests them. And if this couple goes to their apartment to have buttsex nothing will happen to them.

There are no laws anything (that I know of) that prohibit gay people from living with one another. Or kissing one another, or even having sex with one another. Sure in Texas a lot of people would probably get really offended and scream at a gay couple, but I doubt there will be any kind of law brought against them for being gay and having sex.

The problem with gay rights has never been the oppression, as there never was any oppression to gay people in the US. The problem is different. The problem is that they were (and still are) denied benefits that other citizens have.

As you probably know I do not agree in gay marriage as I do not agree with any kind of a marriage. Marriage needs to be an agreement between the couple (or more people) to live together, and that is it. Though what I think is irrelevant because currently marriage does bring benefits for the couple. Gay people were denied this benefit that other citizens have. And so there was inequality before the law.

However, today they have civil unions which I believe have the same benefits as marriage. From what I heard civil unions grant them the benefits as if they were married. But there is still a problem. The law does not recognize them as married, just in a "union". So there is still inequality before the law between how it treats normal citizens and gay citizens.

But we must be honest. We must admit that there is no oppression towards gay people. Gay people can have their pride parades without being silent. They can live the life that they want without being stopped. They can dress as girly as they wish without breaking any kind of law. Essentially anything they want to do they can do just as a straight person.

And this is a good thing. It only shows how much progress has been done towards gay rights. We just need to stop comparing gay activism to black activism, and stop blowing the problems gay face out of proportion as if it is some sort of an oppression against them. Injustice, yes; oppression, no.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ignored in High School

I went to an Orthodox all boys school (obviously). I got my high school diploma from there. Despite how much I have changed over a short period of time since graduation I still am very happy to have went there. The people were nice and there are Rabbis that I like. Of course, my respect for all these Rabbis have diminished as I now realize they live in a lie that they indoctrinate to children and who they themselves were victims of indoctrination. But they can be respected in other aspects. I also love my class. Most of them are nice people.

But what I always hated was that the main principal Rabbi of the whole school always ignored me. From day one till I graduated. I have been in high school from 13 to 18, and all those years he kept on ignoring me.

And I know that he ignored me because the way he treated other people was very different from how he treated me. Other students he was very strict with. He told them what they needed to do. But never, not even one time, did he ever dictate to me what I had to do. I never got in trouble by him all my years being in high school. If I did not come and daven he did not say anything. If I did not study for his Chumash test he did not say anything. If I entirely ignored all my Jewish work in high school he did not say anything.

You might imagine that my situation was a student's dream - to never be bothered about what they do. Students wish for this gift. But it is was really a curse. Because even though he never did anything to do, or got me into trouble, or tried to control me, he at the same time avoided me. If I had a question to ask him he did not want to respond to it. He would tell me "no time for questions" and move on to what he was doing, or something like that. He would speak with other people in high school.

He was (is) a very nice person, just very strict at the same time. A very funny guy and smart too. Makes good jokes and puns. He has a very likable personality. He would joke and talk with my fellow classmates but never talk in such a manner to me. But at the same time he would discipline them and be strict with them.

But I never got that kind of attention. He did invite me for Shabbos and for Yom Tovim. Quite often. And I would happily come because I get to see his likable personality. But it was never really about me. He just invited me because I would need a place to eat for Shabbos. He did not converse with me much at Shabbos. I really spoke with his sons at the Shabbos table, not him.

I should say that he was very nice to me all the years I have known him. But he just avoided me. Near the end of high school he got on everyone's case about what they are planning to do after yeshiva. He repeatedly had talks with all my classmates in high school to figure out what they are doing. If they were not sure he would pressure them to find out. If they still did not find out he would recommend for them a yeshiva to go to after high-school.

Here is the really strange part. For that entire senior year of high school he never asked me once what I am planning to do. Not once. Not even a suggestion. Not even a yes or no answer. All my classmates had this talk with him plentiful of time but not me. I even remember that I decided to walk over to him and tell him myself what I plan to do after high school.

I was different though. All my classmates went to a yeshiva upon finishing high school but not me. I was the only one in my whole class who went to college immediately. Looking back I am happy that I never went to yeshiva, happy to know I did not have to go through another year or two of indoctrination. In fact, it is possible that if I went to yeshiva I would have never broke free from this indoctrination. So looking back I am definitely happy to not have went to yeshiva.

He probably knew I was different. He probably knew that I am not planning to go to yeshiva. But he never made a word about it. That day I walk over to him and tell him that I plan to immediately go to college upon graduation. He responded to me by basically saying "okay". That was it. He had nothing to say, he had no question to ask. I just told him a piece of information and he accepted.

I always wondered, and still wonder, why he ignored me. I cannot figure it out. When I told my classmates my situation in high school they joke and tell me that "he was afraid of you". Some are more serious and just tell me "he knew you would not listen anyway to what he would say, you will just do your own way". But none of those answers make any sense. Is it not the role of a principal to suggest to students ideas, not necessarily to push them to do them?

He never gave me any suggestions. And so I felt ignored by him. I guess I should ask him one day. Maybe with these years that passed he would not ignore me. If I ask him why he ignored me perhaps he will tell me. This riddle does haunt me constantly. I need to know his reason. I must ask him one day before he dies, for lest I will never know.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gay Pride Parades

Gay pride never made any sense to me. It is like straight pride. Or bi pride. Or white people pride. Or black people pride. How can you be proud of something which you had no control over. You are gay precisely because you were born that way. Then how can you take pride in something you had no control over? It makes no sense. Are you also proud of the fact that you have two eyes?

This is my problem with gay pride parades. I got no problem with gay parades. I love that. That is awesome. It makes me happy to see morals being turned over. It amuses me to see the religious people go angry over this and how these gay people are going to destroy the world. I completely support having gay men kissing in parades in public places, and I would also support gay men having buttsex in public places. That be really awesome.

Often even gay people themselves have issues with pride parades because they are directly in your face. They say the gay people should not be so excited and all flashy about it in the streets. I do not share in this problem, in fact, the part of parades being in the face of everybody in the street is what I love about them. I have a different problem with them. The pride part is what I got a problem with. If gay pride parades dropped the pride and simply became gay parades then I would stand in complete support of them.

Some people question the necessity of pride parades. Are they really necessary to get your message out? Well, I ask, what message? There is not really much of a message to pride parades. It is more of an excuse for overly sexual gay men to be intimate with one another. It is really more of a celebration of the fun of being gay than really any kind of message. And there is nothing wrong with doing this. There is no message in pride parades that I can see, but there is a purpose to them. They are an ultimate big giant middle finger staring in the face of all the people who dislike gay people. It is a way of saying, "we are gay and we are not ashamed of it, so now we will go and make out to prove our point".

Do not fall into the whole "tolerance" trap. Do not ask for your haters to tolerate you. Instead do not tolerate them. They hate you, so love each other in front of their faces, as a message of insult to them. It is a way of saying that you are not going to conform to what they want you to conform to.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Geometry Problem of Regular Polygons

There is a little well-known problem in geometry about equilateral triangles. Prove that it is impossible to have an equilateral triangle in the plane whose vertices are rational coordinates (a rational coordinate is a point (x,y) where x and y are rational numbers).

I found a one line proof of this problem that in fact generalizes this classic problem.

The problem is to find what kind of polygons are able to appear in the plane with vertices as rational coordinates. If you play with this a little bit you should realize that squares easily appear with rational coordinates. It turns out that only squares are the only such polygons that have this property.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Where are all the Jews at?

I have noticed that a lot of Jew bloggers are now missing. Either they shut down their accounts or basically stopped posting. I am not saying there is anything wrong with taking such a decision but it confuses me. I seen a lot of Jew blogs out there that were often updated. So I figured that I can get to say what I want to say since there is already an existing Jewish (and ex-Jewish) community on Blogger.

I do realize that I often post non-Jew related stuff. But that is because I have a lot of different interests and I do not want to keep this blog only focused on Judaism. How much is there to even say on Judaism? How many different ways are there to explain why Judaism is a stupid and evil religion (not the people though, the people are fine, the ideas are evil however)?

Somehow after I spend many months on Blogger it seems that these Juden are disappearing. Maybe they are really busy now. I do not know. Whatever it is there seems to be a Holocaust of Jew blogs.

Let me guess, Google stopped paying them for AdSense. It is about the money. It is always about the money with these Jews. Typical Juden-schwein.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Worst Math Books Ever

I know it is very common for math people to discuss among themselves their favorite math books, just like normal people discuss their favorite novels. And I can name my favorite math books, but I wanted to do something less discussed, the worst math books you ever read.

I am sure there a lot of terrible math books out there. And what I write will only represent the horrors I have experienced. Perhaps you have some more terrible ones.

Elementary Differential Equations by Boyce and DiPrima: Stay away from this book if you want to learn anything about differential equations. It is a piece of garbage. As the title suggests this is an elementary course in differential equations. It does stay honest to its name. This is an elementary book. You just really only need to know calculus to be able to study this textbook. This book has no rigor at all, just a discussion of different differential equations. And I am not complaining about that. It is okay for a book to have a lack of rigor if it actually manages to teach. The theory of ordinary differential equations will use analysis that most undergraduates will not know. So it is perfectly acceptable and understandable to write an elementary textbook that teaches some ideas and methods without much theory. However, this book fails at teaching. I remember I once wanted to learn about stability and non-linear equations. It was terrible, I did not learn anything. I also remember that I wanted to read the extra chapter in the book on Sturm-Liouville theory, and again, I was really unhappy, it was hard to learn anything. The authors do a terrible job at explaining. This book belongs in the trash or at a book burning festival, not in colleges.

Partial Differential Equations by Walter Strauss: I never actually studied out of this book but I did take it out of a library because I was interested in learning some of the material in it. I was really unhappy with it. No matter what chapter you turn to the author has no ability to explain himself. Even the very introduction to the book he cannot explain himself at all. But what is worst of all is the ridiculous price on this book. Books that are this bad do not deserve any kind of price to them. Strauss should be paying me for reading out of this monstrosity. If you want a great introductory book on PDE's that is like 1/3 the price get yourself "Basic Partial Differential Equations" by Bleeker and Csordas. It is an intro book on PDE but it does develop basic theory also. I was happy with it.

Advanced Calculus by Gerald Folland: Basically this is an advanced calculus book in general Euclidean spaces (multivariable). The book starts off well. Folland's first chapter on basic topology in n-space is well written. His second chapter on differentiation starts of alright but it progressively gets worse until the very end. By the time you reach the implicit function theorem of chapter three you ask yourself why you are reading this book. That chapter is a disaster. His fourth chapter on multivariable integration is lousy. And the fifth chapter on vector analysis is terrible, it gets progressively worse as one reads through the chapter. You get the impression that Folland does not want to be writing this book. The sad thing is that Folland is generally a good author. I have briefly looked over his Fourier Analysis book, though it was not appealing to me (a matter of personal preference) it did look well written. I also had an occasion to study a little bit out of Folland's real analysis book in one of my courses. I thought it was written in a reasonable manner, not perfect, but good enough. If you want to learn advanced calculus in several variables avoid this book entirely. There are better books. Any of Apostol's books would dominate Folland, so avoid it.

A First Course in Probability Theory by Sheldon Ross: The title is honest. This is a first course in probability. But the book sucks more dick than a gay porno (which I happen to watch, by the way, sometimes, to get a break from straight porn). The thing about this book is that it never explains its concepts. Its first chapter on combinatorics is reasonable. But after that the book falls apart. Math is a completely precise language. In math books concepts should be defined clearly. Nowhere in the book does he talk about what a random variable is. He mentions it a bit, but never really defines it. It is hard to follow him in the later sections of the book. This book also has non-ending examples. I know students often complain about books and say they do not have enough examples of exercises, well this book is filled with them. It does not stop. A single chapter will have a little to mention and then be bombarded with examples. The exercises at the end of the chapter also never seem to end. Too few examples is terrible, but an uncountable many, is not good either.

Discrete Mathematics by Goodaire and Parmenter: This is without any exaggeration the worst math book I have ever read. I am not even sure what makes it so bad. It is just bad. Worst of all it is boring. It cannot explain the material in any kind of exciting way. I brought this book upon first entering colleges because I was hoping to learn some basics of graph theory. I hate it.

Algebraic Topology by Allen Hatcher: What would you say that somebody writes a book on mathematics without having any definitions? You would certainly think that such a person destroyed the subject he wanted to write. Well, that is exactly what Hatcher did. I do not really have a problem that he wrote such a book. I have a problem that the book is presented as if it is some formal treatment of algebraic topology while it is largely handwaving. There are no definitions. He sets up intuition, which I have no problem with, but never really defines his terms. Then his proofs are hard to follow. First, he cannot explain himself well. Second, you have no idea what the definitions he is using since he never defined them rigorously. Third, he skips over a lot of steps. This book is homotopy equivalent to a trash can. And it shocks me that so many professors use this book as an introduction to algebraic topology. There are books on algebraic topology that are good (Massey), Hatcher's book serves no purpose. The only good thing about the book is that it has a lot of exercises and it is available for free online. Other than that, it sucks. It is disgrace to mathematics. And again, do not misunderstand me. I got no problem with informal treatments of mathematics, as long as they make it clear. I did enjoy Needham's book "Visual Complex Analysis" even though it was a non-formal geometric treatment of complex variables, but he never claimed the book to be a substitute for rigorous treatments of complex variables. This book mascarades as if it is some formal text on topology, and it is just not.

Mathematical Methods for Physicists by Arfken and Weber: Here is a general good rule about math books. Math books should be written by mathematicians, not by physicists. Physicists do not know math. They know how to use it in solving problems but they do not actually know the mathematics. And it really shows when a physicist is trying to explain mathematics, especially more advanced mathematics. When I read through Afrken and Weber (by the way, if you are wondering, no I did not read every page! the thing is like 1500 pages long) the impression I got was that the authors actually do not really know what they are talking about. If you had a professor who was confused and did not really explain a subject then you would get the impression that he does not know the subject. That is exactly how I felt reading this book. This book does not explain. It tries to but it ends up not explaining anything. There is not a single chapter that is well written. Even as a reference book I would not recommend it. The only good thing about the book are the exercises. It has enough exerices. But you are not really going to solve the exercises as the book fails at explaining the material. If you are wondering if there are any good books on mathematical physics, the answer is: yes! You can read, "Mathematics of Classical and Quantum Physics" by Byron and Fuller. This book is only like 15 dollars and of excellent quantity. I have read through some of their sections (the one on Green's functions is really good). Compare that to the trash by Arfken and Weber which is like 10 times more expensive.

Luckily, I do not have much experience with bad math books. I usually read reviews about them to know if they are good or bad. But a few of those books did come up, usually in courses I took, and so I had this unpleasant experience with them.

Why Pedophiles Like Children

I was a few days ago thinking about what exactly is so sexually appealing about children. They do not appeal to me because their bodies are so under developed, they are like old people, not appealing at all. Except Sarah Palin, who by the way, is a grandmother. I heard of a MILF but never of a GILF, I think Sarah Palin makes it possible.

But then I realized a reason why pedophiles do like children. It is not their under developed body that they like so much, but a much simpler reason. Children lack hair. A (straight) pedophile does have a similar sexual attraction to women like a normal person does. When he sees a little girl (say ten years) he does after all see a minature woman. She looks like a woman. Okay she is a little under developed but she has similar proportions to a woman.

But for a pedophile there is a big difference between this girl and an adult woman. The girl has no hair (except for her head). Women do. Most women shave off their hair, but some traces of it can still be visible. Especially near the vagina area. Some women have some hair there, while others shave it off. But even the ones who do shave it off still have some remanants of hair.

A pedophile does not like hair. I should said hair different from head hair. Head hair is fine, it even looks pretty. A person with no head hair is less attractive in general than one who does have hair. But for the rest of the hair on the human body it is not appealing any more. Children are precisely the age group that have head hair and lack of body hair. Their bodies are perfectly smooth and clean, free from all hair. Especially their genitals, they are perfectly clean.

This is what attracts the pedophile. He sees a humanoid body which is perfectly smooth, and that is what attracts him to the children. In fact, what I just describe is often the reason why a lot of pedophiles are interested in anime'. In anime' the girls are shown to be hairless. It is a cartoon after all, so the artists can draw human bodies, often resembling little girls, that are perfectly free from any hair.

Maybe I am entirely wrong here as I do not know how the mind of a pedophile works. But this is my best guess that I have to what I think is causing the pedophile to be attracted to little children.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Sales and Designer Clothing

There are two things that seem so easy as everyone else understands them but I just cannot make sense of them. What is up with sales? I hear some people tell me they are going to go and shop in a store because of a new sale?

I have a question. Is it not true that everyday is a sale day? It seems that anytime somebody mentions a clothing store there is always some sort of sale. I am assured that if I got up right now and walked into a random clothing store there would be a sale going on.

Or consider stores that has a "going out of business sale". How many "going out of business sales" can a store have already? If your store is open for seven years it is not exactly going out of business if you have such a sale.

When I pass through the streets of New York City I constantly see sales all around me. Clothing store after clothing store filled with some new sale.

So if it is true that sales happen everyday with every store then what makes them so special? It rather seems that the true intent of sales is to trick the people into thinking that they are saving money, while in all actuality the clothing stores you shop at just screw you over to make more money for themselves by attracting as many people as possible.

How many people live the rest of their lives seeing "SALE" every time they shop and not realize that if they see sales everytime then perhaps they are not as special as people think they are? Am I wrong here? I have no idea. I do not really shop for clothing so I have no idea. What am I missing? You would imagine that eventually people will realize that sales mean nothing anymore if they take place everyday.

The other thing that makes no sense to me is designer clothing. I never cared for designer clothing. All clothes that I have are way cheaper than the same exact clothing one would buy with a magical brand name. I can be wearing a suit, tie, jacket, everything, and the total amount of clothing on me would be over twice as less as someone who buys himself brand designer jeans. What is the point? Does it really matter? They look exactly the same. I would be interested to try an experiment. Buy some Walmart jeans, buy some designer jeans, rip off the labels, and ask someone to identify which one is which. I am sure they will be correct, about 1/2 of the time.

Speaking of clothing I have another thing I just cannot understand. What is up with all the excessive clothing shopping? This seems to be a problem to a lot of girls. I once was hanging out with a girl and before we departed she told me that she is going to go and buy herself something. I asked her how much clothing she owns. She said something to the effect of: 10 shoes, 15 pants, 20 shirts, 5 jackets. I was really surprised with that number. If you multiply all of those numbers together you get 15,000. This is the number of permutations of all articles of clothing she can wear. This means if she was to wear a different permutation of clothing every day it will take her 41 years to go through all of them! She can go through half a life with the clothing supplies that she already had. But somehow that is not enough. She needs more.

I do not understand. What is up with all of this excessive clothing shopping? My mom is like that. She buys herself lots of clothes and perfumes and never really has much of an occasion to use it. I am not saying there is anything wrong with that. If it makes girls happen then so be it. But it makes no sense. Well, I guess it is not supposed to make sense, they are girls after all, they are not supposed to make sense, as they have no idea what they even want. As Freud said the one question he was never been able to resolve is what a girl wants.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Killing Spree

A few days ago, in New York City, there was a killing spree. Some guy killed four people (with some wounded too, if I remember correctly). Not with a gun, but with a knife. Then several days later another stabbing took place, I think it was two people, or three, again in New York City.

When I heard these stories I was surprised to know that none of them generated the same attention as the recent shooting. Why is that that when there was a killing spree with a knife that killed close to the same number of people as the recent shooting that it does not get as much attention?

It does not make sense to me. Also, where are the knife control advocates? I never heard of them. Knives need to be abolished because they are so dangerous, and what about the children, the children can be hurt! How many stabbing happen every year as a result of knives? How many children accidently hurt or kill themselves with knives every year? Where are these knife control advocates who want to ban all knives.

Nowhere. Well maybe a few exist. If scientology has a place in this world then I am sure knife control advocates have a place in this world too. But I never heard of such a group.

Somehow people understand that if knives are avaliable everywhere, and anyone can carry one at anytime with them with no license whatsoever, then a few stabbings will take place. Maybe even a few killing sprees once in a while. Any reasonable person is capable of understanding that. And most of us understand that if knives are everywhere avaliable then we can expect some murders happening.

But here is the interesting thing. We learn to live with it. We are fine with this idea. It does not bother us really, it does not scare us much. This is the world we are used to. We are used to living in a world with knives. So we are comfortable with such a world.

But guns for some reason just scare the very same people who are perfectly comfortable around knives. Why is that? People often tell me, "if there are gun then you got to admit some shooting will take place". Sure, but what about knives? If there are knives then you got to admit some stabbings will take place also. Is that an argument to attempt to get rid of knives. (I do not believe for a moment that knives or guns can be get rid of by just passing a magical law, just like drugs, but that is a different discussion).

So the next time you hear about a shooting that took place. Just keep in mind that a lot of people die from knives also. But we are just so comfortable living in a world with knives.

Monday, February 14, 2011

I Hate Valentine's

I hate Valentine's day because it is a reminder of that I am alone. This day is not special to me, never has been. My day today went like all other days. I am not bothered that there are other people who are happy on that day. That does not concern me, they certainly can be happy and I have nothing against that. It is just that whenever Valentine's day passes it is a continual reminder of what a social loser and loner I am. I get reminded of this message almost everyday. But on Valentine's it gets magnified by a lot.

There is also a lot of uncertainty on this day. I always wonder and ask myself, will I ever like Valentine's day? That is, will I ever have someone to share it with? Or shall I forever despise it as a dreadful day of the abyss? Do I want to be with someone? From a purely philosophical point-of-view I find all relationships to be irrational, but it still is appealing.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Statistics is not Math

I am proud to say that I never taken a statistics course in my entire life, and I have never intentionally studied it. Why? Because I hate how statistics tries to mascarade as if it is a real math subject while it is not.

Does statistics use math? Of course. But so does string physics and quantum field theory. And so does electrical engineering. But we all understand that modern physics uses mathematical concepts, very often quite advanced mathematical concepts, to solve problems related to physics, and we understand string physics to be physics, and not math just because it heavily uses math. (By the way, the math used in modern physics is actually interesting unlike the math used in boring statistics).

Statistics is a science for collecting and interpreting numerical information. Just because it uses calculus and probability theory does not suddenly transform it into a math discipline.

Many statisticians like to identify statistics with probability theory as if they are one and the same. No, this is false. Probability theory is a real branch of mathematics. In fact, till the 1920's most mathematicians did not even acknowledge probability theory as a legitimate branch of mathematics. It was the work of Soviet mathematicians, mostly that of Kolomogrov, who were able to built probability theory on a solid mathematical foundation. And since that time probability theory has been accepted as a legitimate branch of mathematics.

But this legitimacy problem has never been addressed in statistics. All what statisticians do is collect numbers, draw them on various charts and graphs, and then attempt to make predictions about them. Which is why doing this is a science.

The sad thing is that the course I am teaching this semester has a little bit of statistics in it, near the end of the semester. But I hope to skip over that if I could. I really do not want to go through the pain of teaching how to draw a histogram or a pie chart. I rather have more fun time working on probability problems.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Nullhomotopy on Spheres

Quotient spaces are important concepts in (algebraic) topology. But they are also difficult to deal with. The best way to deal with them is to develop an intuition about quotient spaces. I came up with an exercise (inspired a little by Munkres) that I think illustrates the idea of quotient spaces well. It is both intuitive and formal. I hope any mathematics student who wants to become more comfortable with quotient spaces will find this helpful.

Let $n\geq 1$ be a positive integer. Suppose that $f:S^n\to Y$ is a continous function from the $n$-dimensional sphere to some arbitrary topological space $Y$ that can be extended (continously of course) to the $n+1$ dimensional (closed) disk $D^{n+1}$, that is, we can extend the domain of $f$ so that we have $f:D^{n+1}\to Y$ and $f$ restricted to the boundary of $D^{n+1}$ (which is $S^n$) is the original $f$ we started with. Then $f$ is nullhomotopic. The reason for this is very simple. The space $D^{n+1}$ is contractible to a point.

The converse statement is harder to prove, but not too hard, and we will illustrate how to use quotient spaces in proving that $f$ can be extended to a continous function on the whole $n+1$-dimensional disk if it is nullhomotopic.

The intuition here is that the sphere $S^n$ is hollow inside. It has no hole, but it is empty, and somehow if a map is homotopic to a constant map then such a map can be extended to all of region within the sphere. (The $n$-sphere is not contractible to a point, it is intuitively obvious, but just in case you do not trust your intution in higher dimensional spaces, notice that the homology groups of the sphere and a point are not the same, so clearly a sphere cannot be contracted to a point).

By assumption $f:S^n\to Y$ is nullhomotopic so there is a homotopy $F:S^n\times I\to Y$ such that $F_0(s)=f(s)$ for all $s\in S^n$ and $F_1(s)=y$ for some $y\in Y$, we will denote this homotopy as $F_t(s)$. Consider the space $S^n\times I$. You should think of this as a cylinder. To visualize this consider $S^1$ then $S^1\times I$ is really a cyclinder. But in general $S^n\times I$ should be thought as some sort of high dimensional cyclinder. The homotopy $F$ maps the upper face of the cylinder all to the same point $y$ i.e. $F(S\times 1)=y$.

The intuition now is that if we collapse (identify) the top face of the cylinder to one point then we will have defined a continous function on a cone. Formally, we construct the set $X=S^n\times I/S^n\times 1$. Let $\pi: S^n\times I\to X$ be the quotient map, we topologize $X$ by saying $U\subseteq X$ is open if and only if $\pi^{-1}(U)$ is open. Hence, we have constructed a topological space (intutively thought as a cone) $X$.

Let us get a sense of what $X$ is, just as a set. It will consist of points $\{(s,t)\}$ for all $0\leq t<1$ (we are slighly abusing notation here, $(s,t)$ is not really a pair, but an $n+2$ coordinate in $\mathbb{R}^{n+2}$ because $s$ is itself an $n+1$ coordinate) and it will consist of the point $\{S^n\times 1\}$. A cone is homeomorphic to a disk, by a simple projection operator. That is, define $p:X\to D^{n+1}$ by $p(\{(s,t)\}) = (1-t)s$ (remember $s$ is an $n+1$ coordinate so $(1-t)s$ is just a scalar product) for $0\leq t <1$. And set $p( \{ S^n\times 1\} ) = 0$. Check that $p$ is well-defined and then check that $p$ is also continous. Proving that $p$ is continous is easy but tedious so I will not do it. For example, if $U$ is open in $D^{n+1}$ and it does not contain $0$ (as an $n+1$ coordinate in $D^{n+1}$) then $p^{-1}(U)$ will be set of points $\{(s,t)\}$ in $X$ which have the condition that $s(1-t)\in U$. To show that such set of points is open in $X$ pull them back under $\pi$ (the quotient map) and check they are open in $S^n\times I$. Then consider the case when $0\in U$ and $U$ is open in $D^{n+1}$. It is straightforward but tedious so I will not do it. I think it is more important to have intutition that will convince you that $p$ must be continous. Cleary, $p$ is also a bijection. To prove that $p$ is a homeomorphism we will need to show $p^{-1}:D^{n+1}\to X$ is continous also. But we will use the following useful trick. Since $p:X\to D^{n+1}$ is a bijective continous function from a compact space to a Hausdorff space it forces $p$ to be continous (this is true for general topological spaces).

Now we will use the "univeral property" of a quotient map. So far we know that $F:S^n\times I \to Y$ is a homotopy. We also know that $\pi:S^n\times I\to X$ is a quotient map. So we can "factor" $\pi$ through a continous function $g:X\to Y$ such that $F=g\pi$. Remember that $F(s,0)=f(s)$, so it follows that $g(\pi(s,0))=f(s)$ that is $g(\{(s,0)\})=f(s)$. Finally consider the composition $gp^{-1}:D^{n+1}\to Y$. This is continous. We claim it has the desired property that $gp^{-1}$ on the boundary is the original $f$. To see this write a point in $D^{n+1}$ as $s(1-t)$. On the boundary of $D^{n+1}$ we have $t=0$, so under $p^{-1}$ the image is $\{(s,0)\}$. But by what just said $g(\{(s,0)\})=f(s)$. Therefore, we proved that if we set $h=gp^{-1}$ then $h:D^{n+1}\to Y$ is a continous function with the property that $h|_{\partial D^{n+1}} = f$. And with that we proved the theorem.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Suicide is not the Answer?

There are a lot of things that people repeat over and over until it gets accepted as some universal truth. The police are on your side, the soldier is fighting for your freedom, US is the land of the free, respect your elders, family are more important than anyone else, and so forth. One of these thing that I keep on hearing people say is that "suicide is not the answer".

Why not? See the interesting thing about indoctrinated lies that people learn from constant exposure to these ideas since they are children is that these concepts never have much of an argument to them. They are never really justified, just repeated to the point that people repeat it themselves. I heard many times that suicide is not the answer in my life. But no one ever said why it is not.

Suicide can be a means to deal with a problem. Suppose that a person is in a lot of pain. He has no more reason to keep on living. Why should he continue to suffer if he can die peacefully? I would argue that it makes more sense for him to kill himself (or delegate that right to someone else so that his friend can kill him) in such a condition.

A lot of friends think it is noble to say "I will never assist you in suicide", but why is that a noble statement? You are a friend, you are supposed to be there for him in his darkest hour. And your friend has thought through his position and came to the sad conclusion that his life needs to end. If you do not help him then you are a bad friend. I am not talking about whether you can make yourself to help him or not. That is a different issue. You might want to help him but be too weak to assist his death. I am talking about a friend who refuses to help him and think he is doing the right thing. Why not assist?

Or perhaps a dreadfully lonely person who has lived half his life, all alone, and cold. He has no goals, he has nothing to aspire to. He just works everyday. And been doing that for most of his life. Does such a person really have a life? Not really. He is really a drone, in a way, for his employer, a personal machine for his boss. Say this person wants to end his life. Is it really so bad? How is suicide not the answer? Why should he continue to live through his terrible life until he dies?

Suicide is sometimes the answer.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Illegal to Help People

I just heard on the news that a dentist was arrested for being a dentist without a license. So let me get this straight. A guy, who was helping out people with their problems, was arrested because he did not have a magical piece of paper that gave him permission to help other people?

I do not understand people who support this license law (which is like 98% of all the population). Conservatives, well, those people are one big confusion and self-contradictory all over the place, so they can excused. Liberals, the very same people, who make the argument in favor of gay marriage by saying "we have no business what two consenting adults do in the privacy of their homes", these very same people, who make this argument, turn out to be against two consenting adults to agree to: one to fix teeth and other to pay. The inconsistency is astounding to me, what an extreme case of cognitive dissonance.

On top of that this law is beyond stupid. It is not against the law to help your friend and fix his teeth, right? I do not think so. You can use dentist supplies on your friends to help them with their teeth without having any kind of license. That is okay. So what is it not okay to sell this service? It makes no sense. It is considered legal, probably but almost all people, to help another person as a act of kindness, but not okay to help those people for a price? I do not understand. This makes no sense at all. I cannot imagine how this makes sense to people, who are these people who see the world this way?

This law is almost as stupid as the law against prostitution. It is okay for a girl just to have sex with any guy, at any time. But not okay if she sells that service. How? Why is it illegal to do something which is perfectly fine to give? Same with non-licensed dentists. These dentists can give their services without any problem for free, but they cannot charge for that. Did I say that this makes no sense at all?

But I want you to keep this in mind. This accused dentist was not caught for being a bad dentist. But simply because one of his patients tried to find him online and could not. He got concerned and then told the cops.

Why is it illegal to help people? This guy was helping people with his services. He was making their lives better at a cheaper price. Why is that illegal? Why should that be so wrong? How does this not violate the "consenting adult" argument that liberals are so happy to make with regard to gay marriage but foolishly ignore when it comes to a problem like this?

I have been to several illegal dentists in my life. And I have been to legal dentists. Do you know what the big difference is? About 200 dollars. That is all. The service is exactly the same. Feels no different. Just that the illegal ones are cheaper. Since when is bringing something to market at a cheaper price illegal?

Can someone explain this to me because I just cannot make any sense of this.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Is Goy Derogatory?

As you know I do not care about derogatory terms. I could not care less what words other people use. Words themselves are meaningless, it is the context in which they are used that makes them good or bad. What is derogatory is simply a social consensus. Fag can be derogatory today but not derogatory a few hundred years ago. But the idea of "homosexuals are sub-human and need to be killed" has always been universally a bad thing to say, despite that in the past others did not acknowledge it. So the only thing that I care about are the ideas and the context in which words are used. Focusing on words themselves is the wrong way to go, since it ultimately comes down to social consensus to what is okay to say and what not. For these reasons I could not care less for derogatory words.

However, for the people who for foolish reasons care about such words a common question to ask is whether the Jewish word "goy" is a derogatory term to refer to non-Jews. A lot of gentiles think that when a Jewish person says "goy" he is referring to non-Jews in an offensive manner.

Why do they think that? Perhaps because most derogatory words are short words. It just sounds like a derogatory term. But there is nothing within this word that is derogatory. All what "goy" means "nation". Not the Jewish nation, but the rest of the nations of the world.

Consider for example Pslam 126. It is sung on Shabbos and is generally simply referred to as Shir HaMalos. One of the words is "goyim", that is just a plural of "goy". In verse all what the word means is simply "nation". There is nothing derogatory about that.

Even though the word "goy" is not derogatory many Juden have a superiority feeling. They are the great ones of the world and the rest of the non-Jews are inferior to them. When they say "goy" they do mean it in a negative way. For them a non-Jew is a sub-human. Their lives are below the lives of a Jew. So when these kind of Juden say "goy" they do mean it in a negative way, since for them non-Jew is a negative thing. But the word itself has had nothing derogatory about it at all.

If you happen to be non-Jewish and are once called a "goy" do not be offended. Because he is calling to the fact that you are non-Jewish. Which is in fact a good thing, since you are not brainwashed into their religion.

Friday, February 4, 2011

End the Tenure

The argument in favor of "academic freedom" (which is just a euphemism, it is not freedom if it infringes upon the right of the university to fire their professors) is that professors and intellectuals should be able to publish their ideas, no matter how controversial, without the fear of being fired. If professors and intellectuals knew that their job is threatened by what they say then they might suppress their controversial ideas because of this fear. Hence, the argument goes, that these ideas need to be protected. So that professors and intellectuals would be able to express their true intentions.

This is something that concerns me. I got no tenure, I am just a professor who lectures classes. But I do see a future in where I hold a regular position with tenure. In a way I am speaking of my own future. I do not agree with a tenure. I should not, nor should any other professor, be given this privilege. If universities are happy to give such positions to their professors then that is okay, but there should be absolutely no mandate requiring universities to always keep their professors.

Not just tenure but everything else about being a professor is wrong too. Take for example the Sabbatical. Every number of years a professor takes a year (or half-a-year) off and gets paid in the meantime. Why? What did a professor accomplish exactly that makes him deserve such a privilege? Being a professor is by far, without any exception, the laziest job in the whole world. You work like 10 or 12 hours a week, sometimes even less. You have off during the winter time, off during the summer time. There is no any physical hard work in being a professor. But somehow they get off for a half-a-year to a year because it is such a hard job. Miners who dig for 12 hours a day with an extremely dangerous job and very physical work get no such privilege. Nor does any other kind of profession that I know of. But somehow professors, the laziest of all the lazy people, get so much time off. Why?

If professors want to make themselves some extra money they should go and work (or start a business, which in a way, is work also). With all the free time that they have I am sure they can hold a temporary job, with a good pay since of their high level of education. They should work instead of having all of these bonuses given out for them for free.

I do not believe in any kind of protected species of people. Because this is contrary to equality before the law. If professors are given all of these benefits by law that other people do not get that is not exactly legal equality.

I remember I once heard an argument in a forgein country that reporters should be protected from certain speech put against them because that would enhance their reporting abilities. How is this argument really so different from academic "freedom"? Why should reporters be given this special protection status above other people? That is inequality before the law.

But really now let us just consider whether or not it is true tenure actually helps professors express themselves? Do most tenured professors write deep works of controversy? None at all. There are some professors who do, but that is rare. Most professors are exactly just like most people. Most people repeat the mainstream ideas that are currently held. Why should we expect professors to be any different.

Even if it was true that professors and intellectuals were expressing ideas that are controversial to the public there will still be something holding them back. The outrage of the public. People do not just stop themselves from saying controversial things because they fear they will lose their job, they also fear how other people will think of them. In simpler words, collectivism. Professors, just like most people, are stopped from sometimes saying their true thoughts and ideas because they are afraid of how other people will treat them. Thus, I do not see how academic "freedom" really helps remove this fear that professors supposedly have about saying their true thoughts.

Tenure is not a harmless policy. It disincentives professors from working hard to be professors. Professors with tenure often come late, become irresponsible, and other negative traits they would not have if they had to work for their position. And who suffers? The students. Well not just the students who have to sit in the lectures of these terrible professors. But also the future professors would are excellent and who are able to do a superior job than these lazy irresponsible tenures. This policy is harmful and produces very little that is positive, it should be abolished, entirely.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Johnny Weir Out of the Closet

Johnny Weir, or who I prefer to call Johnny Queer, recently came out of the closet. And the national response was "finally!".

For those of you who do not know Johnny Queer is an Olympic male figure skater. He competed in the 2010 games in Vancouver and the 2006 games in Tourino. Johnny Queer is a very controversial figure skater. A lot of complaint was drawn that Johnny Queer makes the sport "too feminine". If you would like an example of what I am talking about you can watch this.

He was the most controversial athlete by far of the 2010 games. There were people who wanted to bar him from competing in the Olympics because of the "disgrace he brings to the sport".

Now I am not exactly sure what these people are complaining about. This is male figure skating, the gayest of all the sports. How can this sport be made any more feminine? And who cares if he is gay or not? He is not hurting the sport. Do you know how many people, especially girls (because they find him hot), love to watch him skate? There is a reason why he was probably everyone's favorite skater. Even though he did not make it to the medals people really enjoyed him. How can you say he is "harming the sport" if he is making it more modern? How is he hurting this sport if more people watch it? As much as you traditionalists hate to admit this but Johnny Queer drew the most attention than any skater. Not even any skater, but more attention than any Olympic athlete. He was the most heard about Olympian than anyone else, probably the favorite one too if you ran a poll.

He was my favorite athlete also. Because I love individuals who are not afraid to be individuals and make all the traditionalists angry. It was fun watching all the commentators about him get angry about how he makes the sport girly. I enjoy this kind of rebellion. And Johnny Queer did not even make a slight attempt to feminize the sport, he went all the way, he did not let any taboos hold him back. That is why he was my favorite.

But he never said he was gay. Every time reporters questioned his sexuality, and they always did, he avoided the question. A few weeks ago he came out of the closet.

Nobody was surprised. Everyone knew Johnny Queer was gay. Mostly everyone who was curious about his sexuality did not do so in a bad way but because it was obvious that he was gay and everyone was just waiting for him to finally admit it.

How did people know he was gay? Because of stereotypes. Stereotypes often come to be precisely because there is truth to them. A guy, in ultra tight clothing, dancing to girlish music, having a lisp voice, who is into fashion, come on, we all know that such a person is gay. But many of us do not want to admit it. For some reason we decided that stereotypes are evil and should never be used. But deep down inside each one of us who know Johnny Queer knew he was gay.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Using the Dictionary

There are some debating strategies that are a sign that your opponent has nothing of value to add anymore. I discussed one before here where I made the argument that grammar is useless to bring up in a debate. A debate is not an English class, it is a debate, it is supposed to be a battle of ideas. Mentioning to your opponent that he has bad grammar or spelling instead of addressing his ideas is the same as not making any response back to him.

But there is another debating tactic that is just as useless. That is the use of a dictionary. I never do this but I seen other people do this often. Especially on YouTube because I like to watch arguments that people sometimes have over one another on YouTube. It is often that I see one of the people in a video take out a dictionary or link up to a website which has a dictionary and say that his opponent is wrong because he is using the wrong definition.

There is no such thing as a right or wrong definition. The entire point of definitions is to make arguments easier to follow. One can, if one is truly mad, ignore all the definitions, and just have all arguments which use only the premises. But this often gets very difficult in many discussions, especially complex ones. So definitions are used to simplify arguments. Definitions are not really necessary within an argument. They are only used to make ourselves easier to understand. Thus, there is no such thing as a right or wrong definition. Definitions should rather be determined by their usefullness. For example, let us say I define "crocoduck" to be a hybrid between a crodocile and a duck then this definition is utterly useless. It is not wrong, but it is useless because it will never come up in any sound argument since there are no crocoducks.

Definitions should be judged instead by how useful they are to have. One of the things I started noticing is that there are certain words that the masses define in a useless manner or lack to have any good definition for. For example, the word "racism". I have struggled to understand what this word means. Never been able to figure it out. Until one day I realized that the definition people use is useless. So I entirely rejected the mainstream definition of racism and I made my own. (If you are interested you can read this).

There are other words whose my definitions differ from the definitions of the masses. All what I do is simply reject the mainstream definition and use that very same word to define what I want to define. (For instance, I reject God, and make myself one).

Perhaps, my re-defining approach will be more appreciated by those who read math books. If you open up two math books on topology, for example, you are almost certain that a lot of their terminology (and notation) will differ from one another. There can be some definitions in one book which are theorems in another, while these very theorems are the definitions in this other book. Or in other cases the definitions may actually be a little distinct. But in the end both of these books are correct. They just approach the subject a little bit differently. And it is okay to use any approach that you use from the book of your choice. There is no absolute way of writing such a math book.

The same should be among all discussions among people. Whenever people use terms they may have differences with, they would simply define their terms and stick to what they mean. From there they form their arguments. But to use the dictionary as an absolute measure of what a word means feels like there is an absolutely correct definition - which there is not. Thus, I say, those who use dictionaries in debates are nothing but alchemists of argumentation.

You should learn from me. I am a master-debator.