Jach's personal blog

(Largely containing a mind-dump to myselves: past, present, and future)
Current favorite quote: "Supposedly smart people are weirdly ignorant of Bayes' Rule." William B Vogt, 2010

Small Rant

Just gonna do a small rant about several things. Maybe I'll do a monthly rant...

I really don't like how some sites are organized. For example, having "next" on the left and "previous" on the right of a blog history as you go back in time. They should be the other way around, but even then it's not very clear. I use "Older Posts" and "Newer Posts", which I think everyone should use, as it's quite clear which is which and that's in fact what the reader is thinking. "Hmm, I want to see some older stuff. Ah! Older Posts!"

Apparently lots of business sites don't have their contact information in big font on every page. Bad idea! See for an older design I did, but also note the distinct business name and contact information at the top right. (The site also kind of reads like a business card as well.)

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Free Software is a horrible name!

At least, in English it is. In French, there are two words to distinguish the free meant in "freedom" and the free meant in "free beer": libré, et gratuit. You can see the ties of the first one to "liberty".

This is one of my peeves about people. Hijacking words. Yes, words are just labels and dictionary writers are mere historians of usage, there's no true meaning to a word, but damn it be clear and use the common usage! I'm looking at you, too, Objectivism: hijacked words include selfishness, altruism, objective, and a host of others.

Now people are starting to misidentify Free Software as freeware, which is certainly not always the case. Freeware is any software, be it proprietary or open source, that costs the user nothing. (I suspect the authors hate freedom if they make it proprietary...) I understand Stallman wanted to emphasize the Freedom aspect of Free Software, which is why he doesn't like the term Open Source, but Free Software is hardly better!

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Simple Non-Cooperation

While I don't know enough about Law to confirm this is exactly how the system works, I think it's not unreasonable to believe it works very similar. Imagine a family of four: mother, father, son, and daughter. The breadwinner is the father, and he lost his job a few months ago. Because of the recession, he has yet to find a new job.

He has been lacking in the house rent for the past few months, and now he can't pay it at all. After a few months of patience, the land lord finally kicks him out and files a lawsuit for the money. The court finds in the land lord's favor, but the man obviously cannot pay it. Because of that, the court agrees to garnish his wages. But the man has no job, and isn't looking to get one in the near future. The court then proceeds to report some fancy-named thing or another that will come up on credit reports or background checks for the man, and from now on no one will wish to deal with him because he's been proven untrustworthy. Of course, some people still might deal with him on pity, but if he burns them as well he's just digging himself deeper.

I thought about this because the time for paying taxes is approaching, and as I've worked as an independent contractor my wages weren't taxed for me. So I'll end up paying $400 or so in total. I thought to myself: "What if I refuse to pay my taxes?"

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Good Procrastination

In general, procrastination isn't a desirable thing. But within the sphere of procrastination are two distinct types which we can label good and bad. The bad kind is the kind most often derided by world + dog: the person is typically a student, and always procrastinates assignments, thus they never get done on time (if at all) and the student barely manages to pass (if at all). Also, and this is an important note, the activities the student chooses to do instead of the schoolwork typically fall under something mindless like watch T.V., play endless video games, and in general do things requiring little attention span or intellectual power.

I now introduce the good kind of procrastination. The first half of it can be the same as the first half of bad procrastination--barely making it through school--but the ideal is getting A's, and the way a good procrastinator does this is knowing exactly how long they can procrastinate something and still get it done. Basically, putting it off until precisely the last minute. I'm pretty good at this, though I do slip up every so often, but a simple example from High School was me always doing my French homework during the period right before French. Sometimes I'd have more French to do than usual, in which case I'd usually just start two periods before French, but it was very rare for me to do French homework at a non-procrastinating time (like the night before around 7pm). I nevertheless did well in the class, and my assignments were for the most part correct. In Chemistry, I barely managed to do even some of the assignments, and that ended up hurting my grade (because homework was worth so much) that I didn't pass the class by a huge margin. I'd try doing some of the assignments during lunch before the class, but more often than not the assignments required more time than that, and frankly I didn't see it as worth it.

The other half of good procrastination, more important than the first half, is what you choose to do in place of what you're supposed to be doing. Quoting myself:

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Sort of a use for variable-variables!

Variable-variables, as I call them, are variables whose names are constructed from other variables. In PHP, they look like this:

$var1 = 'newvar';
$$var1 = 'variable-variable';
echo "$newvarn";

Of course, this will echo "variable-variable". When I construct $$var1, it creates a variable called $newvar in the namespace, because it's using the value of $var1 for the name of this new variable.

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Complete Proofs

Well, I just stumbled upon this awesome site here.. They have proofs for essentially all of mathematics that go down to the axioms.

And hey, even a proof that 0.999... = 1. Fancy that. Ah well. Comment system should be up by Sunday morning (Pacific), and if it's not I'll, not eat my breakfast. (Hey, I can't commit myself too much on this can I?)

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Does studying math lead to learning more truth?

I think it does. I offer my friend as a case study. At one point he thought you could divide by 0; he finally gave that up I think. Now he believes 0.999.... does not in fact equal 1.0. Here's a list of proofs for a reader who also doubts the fact that 0.9999... = 1. Yes, my friend has seen these, can't find anything wrong with them, but still holds onto his belief.

He's not a math guy, he's not a science guy, and he's only recently become a philosophy guy. Okay, a single-philosophy guy. He knows some Objectivism, but that's it. He's become a Guardian of the Truth, instead of a truth-seeker.

This is why I think learning math (and science) will lead to more truth. If you accept a philosophy as absolutely true, you're going to be limited in how much you can discover afterward. Godel's Incompleteness Theorem states that not all truths can be derived from any finite set of axioms, and Objectivism has only three axioms (at least one of which isn't an axiom but a tautology). Also, when you don't accept something even after having it proved to you, you are no longer to be trusted as knowing any true statement when you can discard proofs for or against at whim.

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