Tuesday, June 25, 2013

LIFE is Good 2013 memories

Last night I was sailing my yare dream-boat, riding the quantum foam on the Dirac Sea, flying along briskly, propelled by the interstellar wind. Kinda like Winken, Blinken, and Nod, but more, like, ya know, scientific-ish and shit. As you well know, spacetime is not as simple and linear as we perceive it here in our limited human existence on the good Earth; my beautiful dream-boat carried me to a lovely Hilbert space which contained the 2013 LIFE is Good Unschooling Conference. I dropped my sails and my anchor and stopped for a while, breathing in the sweet aroma of this locus.

Spacetime, like my memory palace (aka method of loci), is not a neat, organized place. It flows and swirls in a jumble, nonlinear, nonEuclidian, sometimes nonsensical. Images, vignettes, events, all swirled below me in the crystal clear pseudowater of the 2013LiG Cove. I kicked off my quantum sailing boots, hung them on a bra-ket and dove in, embracing liberating randomness and lovely chaos.

I surfaced and blew a spray of foam (Perhaps creating entire universes as I did so!), cocooned in the warmth of living memories. Inches from my face swam a Purple Vignette – a number of unschooling parents sitting in the hotel bar, playing dress-up and enjoying adult beverages. Oh, that’s an elegant one. Off to my left was a school of Fond Remembrances – laughing children, laughing adults, laughter so omnipresent that the walls themselves seemed to be laughing. I kicked closer to the Schrodinger reef to see what was there or if, indeed, the reef itself was present in this eigenstate.

Yes! Hugging the flowing density matrices growing from the reef, I spied a solitary Splendid Gamer. I looked deeper into the matrix because where there’s one gamer, there are always more. There they are. Intense little devils. Beautiful in their focus. I moved along, unwilling to disturb them further. What’s that sticking up above the rainbow fans? Ah, it’s Stilted Walkers. Several of them. What elegant locomotion. What complex equations of movement they express with their every step. Brilliant, intuitive mathematicians. Hmm, what’s that I hear?

If you’re a diver or snorkeler, you know that the underwater world is far from silent. Even on your sailboat, floating on the quantum foam of the pseudowater of the Dirac Sea, you can hear the creatures of the universe calling from beneath your keel. What I heard in that moment as I floated above the Schrodinger reef, was music, in great variety and projected with great energy. Lovely music. The sound of life and joy, filling the locus and, indeed, the entire Dirac Sea with happiness and love and promise. I heard the wanton warbling of a Wahoo Winkler, the separate singing of a Singular Stochastic Steinberg, a chorus of various small denizens from the vicinity of the Talent Show coral head, and experienced an increase in pseudowater temperature as I was (sur)passed by some Hot Backup Chicks in their radiant glory. Colorful creatures they.

Well, isn’t that lovely? The music of the spheres updated to the quantum reality.

And look, there’s a rare and delightful Dinner With the Coburns squid, jetting across my vision like a shooting star. What a treat! That’s not something you get to experience every day, no matter your eigenstate. And in the near, middle, and far distance, there were more and more and more brilliant and fabulous and delightful memory creatures, filling the LiG2013 cove with their life and their inexhaustible energy. Too numerous to count. Too wonderful to reduce to a mere number by virtue of trying to count them. Just let them be. Let them be and enjoy them for what they are.

Giving myself good advice is a rare thing, so I should heed it. I swam back to my boat and climbed aboard. I did not dry off, seeking instead to bask in the comfort of the exquisite pseudowater on my parched flesh. Luxuriating in the embrace of the memory-pseudowater cheering my wetted self, I hauled anchor, raised sail, and, somewhat reluctantly, departed the LiG2013 Cove. Choosing a heading out onto the Dirac Sea I had every expectation that the interstellar wind and the quantum foam would take me to similarly wonderful places in an appropriate spacetime. Maybe the next galactic island conceals an unimaginably beautiful LiG2014 Cove. Who knows?


Friday, June 21, 2013

Real-world math, real-world thinking


Why I hate riddles, crossword puzzles, brain teasers, et alii


Y’all know this one.

As I was going to St. Ives, I met a man with seven wives. Every wife had seven sacks. Every sack had seven cats. Every cat had seven kits. Kits, cats, sacks, wives, how many were going to St. Ives?

The creator of the riddle is doing a first-level misdirection to tease the audience into “incorrectly” answering by multiplying all those sevens. (And the “smartest” of them will remember to add in the husband. Can’t distract me with those sevens. Ha!) The answer he wants from you is One. Only *I* was going to St. Ives. And here, in a nutshell, is the seed of my discontent with the things I listed in my title.

Narrow thinking. The creator of the riddle is thinking only of how wonderfully tricky and brilliant he is. Nothing else matters. The purpose of the thing is to fool the reader. As the reader, I am offended by that. Ask me an honest question. Even a difficult and/or complex one. I’ll work on it. I’ll work hard and get back to you with my very best response. But if your purpose is simply to belittle me and dazzle me with your wit by fooling me, then fuck you.

Suppose this riddle were on a grade-school math quiz at the end of a session about multiplying by seven(s). I guarantee most of the students in the class would understand that the teacher expected them to do the 7X7Xetc. And they would ignore the “logic puzzle” aspect of just who might be going to St. Ives. In that case, the “correct” answer would be…

Well, waitaminit. How many whats were going to St. Ives. People? That’d produce one answer. All mature living things? That’s a different answer. All living things? Yet another (different!) answer. All the things? So, we definitely need to include the sacks. But how about the peoples’ clothes? We are not given any information about their apparel. Therefore, in that case, the problem is impossible to answer.

Let’s forget math class for a minute and go to logic class. While it’s true that the problem states directly that *I* was going to St. Ives, it does not say that the polyamorous feline transporters weren’t. I can easily imagine that *I*, travelling alone, would be more efficient (faster) than such an encumbered group and would, in the course of his journey, overtake that group as they, too, were heading to St. Ives.

But wait!

We are offered no (ZERO!) information about the rest of the St. Ives road. Are there other travelers ten yards from our scenario whom the author fails to mention? Travellers ten miles away? Travellers a hundred miles away? In either direction? What kind of road is it? Hiking trail? Secondary highway? West Texas Interstate with a speed limit of 85MPH? (Yes!) Were they all at a rest stop? At an off-ramp McDonalds? We need more data!

We are not given enough information to give a definitive answer to this “question” because it is so poorly constructed! Just like most school math tests. And it is purposefully designed to hoodwink the reader, just like all riddles, crossword clues, etc.

None of that for me, thanks.