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

Annoying Code

This is ugly code:

if (cond)
else if (othercond)

This is pretty code:

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Views On Sex

Everyone has their own views on sex, so I'm going to throw mine in the pot as well. I believe it to be quite simple, so this will be a short post.

As one might guess, I consider the matter from practical terms. Sex serves two purposes: breeding and pleasure. To me, outside of marriage, breeding is the only useful purpose and the only reason one should have sex. Thus if a woman came up to me and asked to have sex, and it was demonstrated that she was drug and disease free and no contraceptives would be used, I'd be forced by logic to oblige. If she becomes pregnant, my genes score, and without having to have any paternal investment in the matter.

This is not often the case, though. People have sex now just for pleasure alone, with breeding coming as a secondary thought, and I don't believe in that. If I want pleasure, I can do drugs, or I can work on something fun, or...I can do a lot of things, and orgasmic feelings are surely not the highest pleasures.

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Why I think English is Easy

Yes, English is my first language, but I'm reasonably competent in French and can parse Latin decently--I'm planning on learning Arabic within the next several months--so I don't think I'm completely out of the pond here when I think English is easy. At the very least, I think most people would agree it is easier than Mandarin. So, here are my thoughts:
  1. When choosing a second language, non-English speakers will most typically learn English.
  2. English has a vast vocabulary shared with many other languages. This helps newcomers relate words to their own language.
  3. Many native-speakers are horrible at English, but it's still fairly easy to read and understand. Eevn wtirnig wtih eorrrs can be pserad. In short, you can get your point across even if you suck at the language.
  4. English has no standard on pronunciation, either.
  5. Even with its many exceptions, there are often patterns so you can guess when the norm will be broken.
  6. It's everywhere. Immersion is easy, as are (good) free books at a library or online.

What makes a language difficult, anyway? I suspect it's the character set, grammar complexity, and vocabulary memorization. English has only 26 letters and no accents, so it's fairly simple in that respect. It's grammar is also straightforward, especially being Latin-based. (It is often said English is a Germanic language with Latin rules.) Every verb tense in French (I remember 14 but I'm too lazy to count them right now) exists in English, even though many English speakers don't realize it, which is the key to note it's not complicated. (In French, a slightly different conjugation table exists for each tense, so you have to know about them. In English it's often just a single word plus a form of the verb consistent for all subjects.)

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Philosophy is a step above religion

And not a large step either. But the more I think about it, and the more I observe various cults springing up around philosophical ideas, the title's statement just seems true to me.

Does this pit philosophy against science? Yes, I believe it does. That also means philosophies, like religions, fall under the same rules as science. In fact, perhaps the earliest known scientific experiment is ironically in the bible. See the story of Elijah and the priests of Baal. Since I can't sum up nearly as well as the summation from where I first came across this several months ago, I'll quote directly:

The people of Israel are wavering between Jehovah and Baal, so Elijah announces that he will conduct an experiment to settle it - quite a novel concept in those days! The priests of Baal will place their bull on an altar, and Elijah will place Jehovah's bull on an altar, but neither will be allowed to start the fire; whichever God is real will call down fire on His sacrifice. The priests of Baal serve as control group for Elijah - the same wooden fuel, the same bull, and the same priests making invocations, but to a false god. Then Elijah pours water on his altar - ruining the experimental symmetry, but this was back in the early days - to signify deliberate acceptance of the burden of proof, like needing a 0.05 significance level. The fire comes down on Elijah's altar, which is the experimental observation. The watching people of Israel shout "The Lord is God!" - peer review.
--Eliezer Yudkowsky

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Lazy and Stupid

(2023 commentary, because I noticed this page getting a lot of hits for some reason.. present me and me of the last several years disavows this whole rant. Just on negativity alone, but it's also just wrong. There's some recoverable nuance but it'd have to be done in a fresh post. What's interesting is I remember I wrote this after talking to a friend at the time and being frustrated with him, but I also remember being frustrated at my past-past self from like 2006/2007.)

"I don't read long things; I'm too lazy."

No, you're not too lazy. You're just stupid.

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To the veterans and all military

(Edit: A short update to my views as of 2013 is at the bottom of this page.) Disclaimer: most people will probably feel offended after reading this and want to insult me. If you choose to, try to do so with civility. (Edit: this isn't my best post but it is my most popular. Fancy that. :)

I really only have one thing to thank you for today: thanks for giving me the day off from school.

I want to quote a famous physicist here, now, as he happened to share my views on this matter:

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I love regular expressions


Regular expressions are seriously awesome. Perl (< 6) compatible ones, too. While I think what Perl 6 has done with changing them is for the better (|| becoming or, instead of |), I'm sticking with what I know for now.

Nevertheless, regexes can be annoying to work with. Especially when you start trying to replace patterns with your own text. And yes, I do have an example!

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