Thursday, March 28, 2013


This post is not humorous in any way, but feel free to find it humorous if you like.
My cousin asked me why the universe is here if I didn't believe in the "Big-Bang Big-Crunch" theory of cosmology, so I wrote the following back to him:

I've only been working on my cosmology for a year or so, so bear with me.  It takes a little bit to get going.

I'm partial to a self-invented version of the Chaotic Inflationary hypothesis.  It allows for (or perhaps requires) a multiverse, and works like this:  The universe as we know it consists essentially of information, or, if you prefer, a series of "x is the case" or "x is not the case" bits of information.  Basically binary, relying on what may simply be a brute fact "There is something."  There seems to be no purpose to the universe, and I don't think we have any evidence to assert that there must be a reason for its existence, so we'll have to settle for "It is the case that the universe exists." for now.

In order to have causality, happenings, and time, we need "if-then" states of affairs.  From a relatively homogenous chaos of nonsensical pieces of information, which generate spontaneously (and on this point I may simply need to bite the bullet and say it is a brute fact that nowhere is there true nothingness, but because it is the case that something exists, wherever there might be true nothingness, there is instead some bit of information, which may or may not relate to anything else.)  At some point a piece of information generated which would have contained the statement "if x is the case, then y is the case".  There happened to be at that time a piece of information "if there would otherwise be nothing here, there is x."

Since the state of affairs known as "the universe", which is essentially the set of all states of affairs (think Wittgenstein's "The world is all that is the case."), contained both the information "x is the case" and the information "if x is the case then y is also the case", the universe then also included the information "y".  There could be many bits of information also that said "if x is the case, and y is not the case, then z is the case." In that case, z would never exist in the universe, because x would never occur without y also occurring. To get away from the letters, there may be a piece of information saying "If it is true that there are triangular things, and it is not true that triangular things can only have angles which add up to 180 degrees, then there can be square triangles."  However, we do have a state of affairs in which triangles can only have angles which add up to 180 degrees, so we never have square triangles.

From this generated a set of comprehensive and co-dependent logical laws, though this does not mean that they are the only possible logical laws, and I grant that some other 'verse which has arisen from the chaos may rely on completely different laws.

Those bits of information which best copy themselves, or are frequent byproducts of commonly occurring "if-then" interactions are the bits of information there are the most of.  The Big Bang may be the result of a state of affairs in which the right bit of information was generated (and it may be a very complicated bit..."if a state of affairs in which a, b, c, and d are the case exists, then it will be the case that bits of information with properties p, q, and s will exist." and if a bit existed that said "If there is any bit of information with properties p,q, and s, then for every bit of information with properties p, q, and s, there will be 100 bits of information with property r").  Or, on a different note, "if the universe is such that a bit with property t generated in place x, and property t made that bit change its location properties in order to be nearer or farther from another bit of information with property t, then that bit also acquires the property of "moving at speed m" "moving in direction h" and "being in spatial location___(wherever it is as it moves)".  And hence, Physics!

A quark is one of the smallest, most basic subatomic particles we know of, and it comes in at least 6 "flavors".  Up quarks and down quarks are all that make up protons and neutrons, with 2 up and a down making protons, and 1 up quark and 2 down quarks making neutrons.  Though it may be an oversimplification, let's say that an up quark is a bit of information with the properties "If this bit is within .0002 picometers of a bit of information with properties [whatever makes a down quark a down quark] and another bit with the same properties as itself, that set of properties creates a state of affairs with the properties [whatever makes a proton a proton]. There is fact about the universe, which we call the "strong nuclear force" that says that when objects (I'm going to call the information bits "objects" now because it's more intuitive, but they are still, essentially, collections of properties, or "if-then" information bits) with the properties [protons] and the properties [neutrons] are within a certain distance from each other, they gain a new property, which is "only able to be separated by x amount of energy".  So they stick together and, because one of the properties of protons is having an electrical charge of +1 (or, "if object p has the properties [proton], it will attract all objects with property [attracted by {proton}] and repel all objects with property [repelled by {proton}]") the object created by the sticking together of the protons and neutron will have a positive electrical charge equal to the number of protons the object contains.

This is the root of chemistry. Chemistry is the root of biology. Biology is the root of Neurology. Neurology is the root of Psychology. Psychology allows for Philosophy, and here I am today trying to bore you to death with my Cosmology.

Based on what I've read, the properties of the universe are such that eventually they will either become inert, that is, run out of objects with properties that allow for "work" to be done (energy) as they continue to drift away from each other, or there is some as-yet-unknown property of the universe which, when some state of affairs is reached, will cause something else entirely to happen.  Since we have, and can have, no evidence of this extra property, Occam's Razor tells us to not complicate our theories with extraneous hypotheses which are not required to explain what we observe.
Um. Ta-da?

Thursday, March 14, 2013


We have a monthly "All Hands" meeting where I work. They usually open with a fun question, like, "what is your favorite wintertime activity?" This month's All Hands was extra special. Employees could pick between either answering "What is one thing on your bucket list?" or "What is the best pickup line you've ever used." Being the overachiever that I am, I decided to answer both. I answered the latter former and actually referenced my bestie's "Are you stalking me?" line. Apparently it works. It got laughs.

Then I answered the bucket list question with, "I want to crash a really expensive car."

Dead. Fucking. Silence.

Mind you this is a company that deals with the field of safety for one of the country's leading put-things-into-space-agency. 

Anyways, I just fucking had a liberated as hell day. And I want to tell you it felt fucking great. I advise you let your inner Animal out of the cage this week... one day... at least one day. Today rocked. It was a shitty day, don't get me wrong, but man, cutting loose... does. fucking. wonders. 

Doesn't give a fuck about fuck-all.

Grab a scothc. And spell scothc fucking wrong for once.


Sunday, March 10, 2013

The 4 Types of Students Every Professor Hates (my attempt at a list-style humor article)

The Four Types of Students Every Professor Hates

                I have a confession to make right off the bat: I’m not a professor.  However, before you jump to the conclusion that my writing of this article is as logical as a priest giving marriage counseling or Aunt Jemima recommending lubricants, I’ll have you know that I spent two years as a Teaching Assistant while in grad school. Why am I not a professor now? These students.

1.       The Sage- We all know this asshole.  The kid who can’t seem to put their hand down like they shot their arm full of Viagra and your class material is the most arousing thing they’ve seen since they walked in on their cousin showering.  The only way to get rid of their throbbing arm-rection is to call on them, and that’s when the trouble really starts.  The Sage doesn’t just give answers and make comments, the Sage dispenses wisdom and makes pronouncements.  From their Tower of Truth, the Sage looks down upon us mere mortals and, taking pity on us, tells us how it really is.  Meanwhile, the sheer volume of bullshit spewing out of their locked-open maw could choke a sarlaac.  Don’t get me wrong though, the Sage can be a very useful individual.  I helped teach philosophy classes, so on those less-than-rare occasions that I walked into the classroom without having recently read the material I was about to cover, I could let this perpetual-speaking machine carry the entire 50 minute period.  Plus, no professor wants to face a hostile class, and nothing draws the sullen masses’ ire away from you like the kid who won’t just shut the fuck up.
4 out of 5 students in this class recommend shutting up before your lips are stapled together.

2.       The Exasperator- Much like a freshly neutered dog chasing a rocket-powered nut-sack, this poor bastard knows he or she  is missing something vital and desperately but futilely pursues it.  I don’t want to say this person is dumb, because not every Exasperator I’ve taught was dumb.  They just give off the subtle impression that one day you might find them crying outside the classroom because they forgot how to open the door.  Every new concept is pure torture for this student, and that means torture for the professor.  Painstakingly dissecting minor points in front of the class with this person is bad enough, but that party is only 50 minutes long.  The real fun happens during that long, dark waterboarding of the soul known as office hours.  I’ve often found that Exasperators are those kids who are really good at memorizing facts, but really bad at connecting those facts to other facts or understanding them as part of larger concepts.  The only thing to do with them is treat them like the glorified zip drive that they are.  Make sure they know exactly what to say, and they’ll spit it back out on the tests. They'll always get points off for not developing their own opinion on it, but this is the real world damnit, even if they had their own opinion no one would care.
"Excuse me sir, I think this is job is impeding my natural right to self-determination...Yessir, I'll get back to work."

3.       The Crusader- This student is basically The Sage, but angrier and more specific.  If I were to compare them to a dog who kicks his leg when you scratch that one spot on his belly, this person’s belly is their brain, the scratching is the mere mentioning of a certain topic, and the leg kicking is them hulking out in rage.  So…not really much like a dog at all.  More like a person with a steam burn stepping into hot shower, and then trying to argue the shower into submission because the shower got water on their burn.  Analogies are hard.  Harder than a priest at a playground…nailed it.  Anyway, The Crusader may sit silently in class for the whole semester, and then on the last day, when you walk in and say “’Sup, cats and kittens?  Who’s ready for Winter Break?” they suddenly have a mass grave’s worth of bones to pick with you about why winter break is counter-productive, the various civilizations destroyed by winter break, and the way in which you, as a professor, are a terrible person for mentioning it.  

Winter Break at Bergen-Belsen, 1942

      I once had a student who almost never came to class, but one day he showed up and argued furiously for the whole class period because he thought that Existentialism didn’t have a satisfactory method of establishing moral limits.  This despite the fact that he clearly didn’t quite know what he was talking about.  Finally, as I imagined round-house kicking his face in slow motion, I explained that he didn’t have to like it, but it would be on the exam so he should probably try to understand it.  He didn’t.

4.       The Lost Puppy/Best Friend- I am a magnet for these poor souls.  I know that most of you picture me as an enormously-muscled, tiger-wrestling, hyphen-abusing man-mountain with features so rugged you could use them as a blueprint for the most effective snow tires ever, but as it turns out I’m rather non-threatening and approachable, with features so rugged I am routinely out-intimidated by kittens.  In a University environment in which the students are new (this was especially true of my intro classes), and in a subject like philosophy, which can be intimidating and difficult, some students try to attach themselves to anyone who seems both knowing and nice.  Being as intimidating as legless baby rabbit, I collected my fair share of hangers-on, some of whom weren’t even my students!  One girl actually told me that she came to my office hours instead of her assigned TA because I was less intimidating.  My inner bad-ass wept, which doesn’t say much for my inner bad-ass, and kind of proves her point.  That was a mild case, however.  The troubling students were those who tried to develop and maintain a relationship with you outside of class.  I was invited fishing, invited out to lunch, and invited to meet with students to discuss other classes they were in.  Some of those things sounded nice, but I could also get my small, non-threatening ass sued for doing that shit, so they were turned down.  On the other hand, if I ever go back to teaching in a university I’m going to use those powers for good and get all the free shit and hook-ups I can.  I meant good for me…
"As it so happens, I also need tutoring in anatomy..."