Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Philosophical Cannibal Hoedown

(Continued from a couple posts ago.)

An older man in a very professorial-looking tweed jacket hesitatingly stepped up to the podium, while Adelaid and I started on the roast beef.  He didn't look like he gave many public speeches.

He took a deep breath.  "Hello, everyone!  I..."  Here he trailed off, looking a bit nervous, and then started again.

"For... for all you who don't know me, I'm Pr-Professor Polycarp, and I know you all should know the purpose of my Society, but for those of you who don't, I... uh, decided to prepare a little song.  To make it a bit... uh, more exciting?  Also, heh, a bit of autobiography.  I hope you all don't mind.  Um.  So as you all know, I started out in the Literary Theory department.  And things... took a turn.  Take it away, Johann."

Johann (who had just finished showing in some new guests) took a seat at the grand piano just to the left of the podium.  After cracking his knuckles, he rested his fingers on the keys and started an upbeat polka tune.  The professor (looking much more animated than before) took another deep breath and burst into song.

"Oh, aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye!
Oh, aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye!

I did some Deconstruction (and God, it was such a bore,)
And to read ol' Derrida's books was the mother of all chores;
And even Mister Foucalt (though most promising of all)
required me at every chance to murder the fourth wall!

Lit-Crit seemed in shambles--it seemed aimless, sad and tired--
and I thought the field would always be completely uninspired,
but then like a bolt from heaven, I realized my goal--
that every bad philosopher should just be swallowed whole!

I started on my old professor, Pridius L. Slant,
and next went to the head of our great English Department!
(And then I learned on eating two psychologists, alas,
that for whatever reason, social science gives me gas.)

I had to leave my old job (ate the payroll clerk, you see),
and had to look for new work-- but I soon found out with glee,
that if you restrict yourself to teachers all the freshmen hate,
you can get a good supply of meat without too much debate!"

(and here Johann joined in)

Without too much deee-baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate!"

The room filled with applause, and I gagged a little on some of the possibly-roast-beef substance I was currently eating, spitting what was left covertly into a napkin.  This operation complete (and the guilty napkin hidden in my pocket, where I resolved to throw it out at first opportunity), I turned to Adelaid.  She giggled.
"Hee!  Isn't Polycarp great?"
"Yeah, sure.  Uh.  Adelaid?"
"Yes, Paul?"
"What exactly am I eating?"
"Professor Delwar Prescott Flask."
"Wait, the Delwar Flask?  My old ID prof?  The one who wrote that unreadable book on copyright?"
"The very same. Is..." she had the look of a puppy about to be kicked.  "Is that a problem for you?"
I reflected a moment.  "Yes, it is."
"Oh."
"Specifically, he needs more salt."
"Hee!"

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Heretek Hoedown

Oh, aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye!
Oh, aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye-di-aye!

So I was just a techpriest, a man who builds machines,
A servant whose sole duty was to fix, repair and clean!
But the day before I took the Vow of Nurgle 'pon the lou,
I realized those poor viruses all need some lovin' too!

(do dee do dee do dee do, do dee do dee do)

So my first day upon the job of undermining Man,
I got inside a factory and thus my work began!
I jacked myself into a port, and 'ere the day was out,
The cogitators inside thought that they were speckled trout!

(do dee do dee do dee do, do dee do dee do)

I used to go to Schola, a place of quiet grace,
where they calculate trajectories of things hurling through space!
But soon, instead of finding their attractive fields of force,
the only thing that Schola got was twenty Trojan horse!

(do dee do dee do dee do, do dee do dee do)

The propagandist's office is like the Emperor's right hand,
spreading deceit, lies and heresy throughout my lovely land!
So I let my children into their pristine-ish neural net,
And then suddenly-- the Yellow Sign, in every news gazette!
(In every news ga-zeeeeeeeeeeeeette!)

---

Doctor Rhemus Polycarp: That's right, it's "Who's Heresy is it Anyway", where everything's made up and the points don't matter!  That's right, the points in this game are like psychic powers on a Khornate Bloodthirster.
Khorne, the Blood God:  I FIND YOUR 'HUMOR' DISTASTEFUL AND OFFENSIVE, HUMAN.
DRP:  (flees)

Sunday, December 25, 2011

In Which I Attempt To Turn My Bizarre Dream Into The Plot Of A Bizarre Story

"Well, I'm afraid that only members of the Philosophical Society are allowed in."  The doorman smiled at me apologetically, and lowered his voice.  "Honestly, Paul, I don't think you'd really want in, anyway, unless you were already a member of their fruity club.  The stuff they talk about is pretty... uh, strange."

"Well, maybe," I replied.  "But I was actually invited as an interdepartmental guest from the Chemistry department.  See, my work is on the relationship between retro Diels-Alder reactions and Foucalt's literary theories.  It's interesting, because..."  Seeing the doorman start to get that stoned-monkey look I too-often found on my own students, I cut off my impromptu soon-to-be lecture and gestured toward the door.  "Can I go in now?  I don't want to miss the opening speaker-- I heard Doctor Vincent Polycarp is giving a talk in ten minutes."

The doorman frowned.  "That's as may be.  But I don't--"

A cheerful-looking man waved from inside the lobby.  "Don't worry about it, Bob!  I know him.  You're that Diels-Alder guy, right?"

I grinned.  "Yep, that'd be me."

"Great, great!  We're having a quick dinner before Polycarp's lecture, and you're just in time to catch the appetizers. I'm Johann, by the way."

He ushered me in, and after about two minutes of walking through the corridors of the Philosophy Department, we arrived at the dining room, filled with tables with about five or six people each.  "You know," Johann told me confidentially as we walked, "the normal setup for this room used to be with long, square tables, but one of the professors proved that conversation is 40% less efficient with that setup than with a large number of round tables.  And rationality has always been our watchword!"  Johann showed me to a seat, and gestured to a mid-20's girl who occupied the table with a pair of older, sour-looking gentlemen.  "This is Adelaid.  She's a new assistant professor in our department.  Adelaid, tell him about your work!  I've got to greet some more guests, I'll be talking to you both later."

The girl seated to the right of me smiled.  "Hey, new guy!  Have you ever been to our Society before?"  She laughed.  "Wait, no, stupid question.  Obviously you haven't.  Because you're not in the department!  Anyway, we're all Poststructural Neo-hedonists here.  Are you familiar with that philosophy?"

I shook my head.

"Well, basically, the deal is that we're launching off the works of Eco, which is based on a theme of the common ground between class and culture. See, Lyotard (you know him from his Discourses, right?) suggests the use of textual neodialectic theory to attack capitalism. However, the premise of textual discourse holds that narrativity is capable of truth, but only if Derrida’s essay on conceptualist subpatriarchial theory is invalid; otherwise, art is used to reinforce sexist perceptions of class.  Therefore, to eat man is to become man, and--"  I held up my hand.

"Wait, I'm sorry, what was that last bit? I think I didn't hear you right."

Adelaid waved the question aside.  "That's not important now.  The important thing is, you'll get to hear what we're all about in like five minutes!  Doctor Polycarp is speaking, and he's a really great lecturer; I think you'll really like him."  Her face brightened as a waiter arrived, with several well-garnished plates of what looked like roast beef.  "Oh!  The food's arrived!  Paul, you really must have some."  She giggled, as though at some private joke.  "It's like nothing you've eaten before, trust me."

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Apropos of nothing: DREAM JOURNAL TIME!

In rapid succession last night, I had 1) a nightmare about failing all my Computer Science classes, and 2) a nightmare wherein a cannibal, having unsuccessfully attempted to get me and a number of tuxedo-clad party guests to eat a cat, gave us a long-winded Hannibal Lecture about people too weak to follow their desires (which, by necessity, should involve eating cat.  I mean, obviously.)  To which I could only respond


to which he could only respond by having his cultist minions jam a pencil in my ear, successfully killing me and ending the dream.  (Hurt like the dickens, too.)

---
(Yeah, I dunno.  I have like a million of these macros.  What am I supposed to do-- not use them every chance I get?)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's pretty self-explanatory.


And, for no reason, a bonus MLP image macro.  Don't judge me.




It's like the Christmas gift you never asked for, or wanted!  But perhaps it's what you deserved.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Why, computer?! WHYYYYY?

Me:  Hey guys, hey guys!  I found this really interesting new mod for Civ 4, Master of Mana!
Branden:  Does it work in multiplayer?
Me:  YES.
Branden:  And it works on your computer?
Me:  Well, single player games work like a charm!
Josh:  Sweet!  I'll throw it on my machine!
Branden:  Mine too!
....
Okay, it's installed.  Now let's start a multiplayer game!
Me:  Huzzah!
My computer: LOADING...
...
YOUR PROGRAM HAS ENCOUNTERED AN ERROR.  WINDOWS IS CHECKING FOR A SOLUTION TO YOUR PROBLEM.
Me:  Are you actually going to find a solution, or are you just saying that?
My computer:  Just saying that.  It's expected of me!
Me:  Well that's weird.  You've never crashed on me before.  Probably wouldn't happen twice in a row, though, right?
My computer:  lolololololCRASH, NO MULTIPLAYER FOR YOU
Me:  Damn.  Okay, what if I tried reinstalling it?  Would that work?
My computer:  Only one way to find out!
(one hour later)
My computer:  LOLNO, TRY SOMETHING ELSE BRAH
Me:  Screw it, let's play League.
Branden & Josh:  Yaaaaay!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

The Worst Book Ever


I was reminded of this book whilst browsing on Amazon and it suggested I buy something else by the same author. I then asked myself, "where would I have heard of this Paul Saint-Amour?" And Amazon gave me the horrible, horrible answer:
Not shown: Amazon giving good advice.


I had to read this-- all 300-someodd pages-- for my first-year ID class.  In this blogopost, I will endeavor to make you share my pain.  For I dare you-- I double-dare you!-- to read more than two pages of this monster without wanting to bust out a fountain pen and make impromptu edits. It reads like a parody of how professors write. But it's not a parody, friends. It's serious. Dead serious.

Anyway, you needn't take my word for it; here's a screenshot of the book's introduction. I recommend you have a phone on hand, so as to call 911 in case of bleeding eyes.


This is the first page of the introduction, ladies and gentlemen. This monstrosity (if you didn't feel like unpacking it) basically boils down to five main points:

1) The title is a pun. Copywrights = makers of copyright (like a shipwright). Get it?
2) Copyright means different things to different people.
3) The meaning of "copyright" has been different at different times.
4) "Copyright" is tricky to define because of this.
5) The title is a pun. Do you see?

Here are my suggested edits, combining simplified language with axing portions of pointless wordy fluff:



In conclusion, this book gets my highest rating for professorial trollery: Five abominations.

News front/Lolhammercrafting!

1) I have bought tickets to Claremont! Huzzah!

2) In LoL, I have developed a liking for everyone's favorite unicorn-drow, Soraka!


Look, I don't like it anymore than you do.

This is in large part because she's got kinda a weird power curve for LoL. But before I go into that, I should explain what the deal is with power curves in LoL! The relevant numbers are Teamfight Influence-- that is, how much you can wreck up the business of your opponents--and Gold Earned-- how much you were able to farm up minions and enemy heroes throughout the game.

The reason the graph looks like this is because support characters tend not to have abilities that scale well-- however, these abilities also have effects like stuns, debuffs or knockups that don't increase in power as you acquire better stats. AD and AP carries, however, have abilities that-- implicitly or explicitly-- act as multipliers for their base statistics, which is to say, multipliers for the gold they earn. Tanky DPS is typically somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.

Check it out. The reason Soraka's graph looks so different from the other supports is that her own primary teamfight-support ability (Starcall) shreds the enemy team's magic resistance for a flat amount. The thing is, unlike for the other characters in the "support" category, the power's short range requires Soraka getting all up in the enemy team's fries, as per Utahraptor in this Dinosaur Comic. Thus, in order to do anything in teamfights without getting immediately ripped apart, she needs lots of HP and armor. However, there is very much diminishing returns to this tankiness, because when she stops getting focused she stops having a really good place to put all that gold-- that's why her power curve falls off later on, to the point where her dInfluence/dGold becomes more-or-less even with the other supports.

(Note that without this added health she really is pretty impotent. So it goes.)

Friday, December 16, 2011

I love Reaction McGonagall.

So yeah, I spent this week (in chronological order):
  • Proctoring the Genchem final exam, which involved wandering up and down isles being as generally unhelpful as possible to panicky students.

Student:
"Can I use this equation here?"
Me:
  • There was also a bit where I had to proctor the time-and-a-half special needs students, most of whom have some form of horrific test anxiety. The last girl to leave made me feel like a monster by tearing up while repeatedly asking questions to which I could only respond "Uh. Can't really answer that. Exam, you know." And she'd be all "BUT I NEEEED TO KNOW!" Grim times.
  • Exam-grading! Most of the time which I spent trying to figure out puzzling issues of student knowledge and psychology, such as

  • Getting told that the final needed to be graded by noon Wednesday. The combination of studying for my own finals and having to visit the UW Tacoma campus to register for COMPSCI CLASSES WOOOO meant this was impossible.
  • Get scolded in like three emails within twenty-four hours of the deadline pseudo-politely asking me to turn in the finals as quickly as possible, please. To which I could only respond with a slightly dressed up version of "working on it",while thinking all the while
But now, it's all finished! Never again to be of any account. In fact, as we speak I am discharging my final duty as a TA, which is to sit in a cafe waiting for hypothetical students to get their last two graded labs. Yeah, nobody's coming. Whatever!

And after this? It'll all be clear sailing for Computer Science. Awww yeah.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Knight Templar Chemist



So, I've got this one guy in one of my sections who's really, really prone to arguing over tiny amounts of points for not-super-great reasons.

This does not make him unique, however.

What does make him unique is that he's got this penchant for typing out long, drawn-out emails wherein he argues that to not give him these tiny amounts of points would be an injustice of the highest order, and that he argues not for himself-- perish the thought!-- but for each and every student quailing under the yolk of tyranny that is the point-scoring system itself, and that, furthermore, the grossly unjust way in which grading is carried out will (if not rectified today!) forever poison the hapless students in our department against the very field of chemistry itself, an outcome which could be averted by granting him his eminently reasonable request of five points for some friggin' reason.

Lolz.

Anyway, he did this to me once, and I was all like "By Jove! Am I truly poisoning the minds of students? I certainly hope not!" And thus I fervently searched for my apparent error, though in the end I was forced to deny his complaint for no more reason than it appeared totally without merit. Well, that was that, I figured.

Turns out he writes these long-winded emails to everyone, though. I actually just recently recieved a forwarded email from the stockroom supervisor wherein this guy (who will remain nameless, let's call him Joe) wrote five separate paragraphs decrying the injustice of a soulless, computerized system of prelab deductions, which the syllabus was altogether too ambiguous about, and which, if not fixed, would effectively blah blah blah. Which concluded with a threat to go to Tracy Harvey (the higher power in the department, whose job is basically to tank student aggro) if we decided to reveal ourselves as the unscrupulous and villainous characters he hoped we weren't.

This displeases me. Thus, I-- with great reluctance-- am forced to bust out the Stamp of Authority.



Saturday, December 10, 2011

I'm putting that stamp as a business expense.

AKA what I've been doing the past three hours:

Assignment Question: Based on your data, what is your measured n(f) value for your most intense peak near 650 nm?
Hapless Student: HERPA DERP MY DATA OBVIOUSLY SAYS 5, BUT LITERATURE SAYS VALUE IS 2, SO I'LL JUST WRITE THAT
My response:

It's especially hilarious when they write the literature value, and then go on to talk about how they had obtained it from experimental data when it's entirely obvious that the procedure they describe would lead them to the EXACT OPPOSITE conclusion. Lololololol

Friday, December 9, 2011

Working on new post

┌─┐
┴─┴
ಠ_ರೃ

In the meantime, here's a picture of a classy fellow in a monocle and top hat.

I confess, I just wanted to post that.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

I'm looking at *you*, Shattered Mirror trilogy

So, I'm not going to name any names (although if I was, I'd totally include Alan Dean Foster), but I've noticed that for whatever reason, when a setting includes space aliens as sympathetic or even point of view characters, certain authors seem worried that us readers'll forget they're, like, aliens. You know, from space. Therefore they feel compelled to, whenever an alien feels hungry, have that alien say something like

"By jove! My food-desiring organs are secreting immense amounts of hunger-milk currently! I had better ingest some krill before they undergo spontaneous shutdown, which you earthlings would probably refer to as "starving to death!" Ho-ho!"

Or alternatively,

"Ahh, human, you will never understand the sensation I feel accompanying this particular attractive member of my species' third opposite sex. It is as though my love-glands are filled to exploding!"

It's like the author's super-self-conscious about having the aliens be different, but without actually giving them an alien perspective. Bah, I say! Give me well-characterized rubber forehead aliens any day.

To see an author who averts this quite well, I'll refer you to Eliezer Yudowsky of The Babyeating Aliens. Look, just read the damn thing, it'll take you maybe an hour. I also enjoyed the Animorph's gentle mockery of this trope, where you had a lot of exchanges like

Aximili: "Quickly, move! The alarm is going to sound in just six of your human minutes!"
Anybody Else: "You know, Ax, you've been on earth for like a year now. They're your minutes too."

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Polite Fiction

You know what bugs me? Those times when you go into a McDonald's or other fast food place, and the server asks how you're doing today. I mean, don't get me wrong-- I'll do the "politely making conversation" thing, and I don't mind it so much for itself. Mostly it's just the fact that, at some point, I've got to be the one to break the polite fiction that we are merely two gentlemen discussing the merits of mercantilism and the trade deficit, exposing the crassly commercial element of the whole exchange by asking for a drink and an oatmeal with no brown sugar.

It just feels callous-- like this guy or girl behind the counter simply wants to connect with another human being, and I, being the selfish sumbitch I am, deny them even this in favor of getting my drink just a bit sooner. The thing is, I also dig that (despite appearances!) this actually isn't the case, and my staying to chat with the server about Germany's up-and-coming Alchemical College will only result in my getting bludgeoned "accidentally" by the guy behind me that just wants to move it along, please.

The free refills totally make it worth it, though.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Emotional Manipulation for Fun and Profit

So, in playing League of Legends, it has come to my attention that there is a disconcerting number of people who don't know something that should be fairly basic to any team game: how to give advice so that it is taken.


It's harder than it sounds!

So, you're in a game. Bottom lane is losing to Blitzcrank, and horribly. Like, they've got three deaths at the 7:00 mark. Bad times, and this is typically when otherwise reasonable players want to start scolding their fellows. Resist this temptation.

Basically all the advice I'll be giving here, you see, is based off of one simple and obvious principle: Pride is one of the most powerful emotions humans possess. Psychologists have like a million terms for all the millions of ways pride-- the desire to think of yourself as awesome-- influences us to act in ways otherwise contrary to reason. This is encapsulated in some term I cannot recall-- if we're faced with a choice between thinking of ourselves as not-awesome, and literally any other option, we'll pretty much always choose the other thing, with the rest of our beliefs correcting themselves to fit. Let us take a concrete example.



Suppose you told the player in bottom lane "wtf noob, don't u know to hide behind your minions, uninstall ur game and go play tetris. Also noob jungler underleveld lol." This is somewhat more helpful than the option of simply telling him to uninstall and leaving it at that, but even so, by the simple act of insulting him you've made it crazy-unlikely he'll take your (actually quite good) advice to hide behind his minions to avoid getting grabbed. The unconcious calculation is basically as follows:

"Either this guy knows what he's talking about or not. If he knows what he's talking about, I'm a feeding noob who should go play Tetris, and also I should shield myself using my minions. Will crediting this guy imply I'm more or less awesome?"

The rest of the calculation is pretty trivial. Thus, the thing you'll most likely hear in response is

"STFU noob i no wut im doin, also wtf jungler no gank?!?!?!?!??!?!??! noob jungler"

But this is all obvious. What many folks seem not to realize is that even the most politely-worded bits of plain advice send the subtle, but very real, message of "you don't know what you're doing." Thus even if the hypothetical gentleman above spoke thusly:

"My dear fellow, I would kindly recommend you utilize your minions so as to avoid Blitzcrank's rocket grab, which quite assures him of a kill when landed"

The most likely response would be "STFU noob", followed by repeated harassment of the team's jungler as above.

This makes the best advice, I think, take the form of roundabout comments regarding what you've done or regretted not doing in similar situations, preferably in a self-deprecating form so that the other fellow doesn't think you're lording it over him. Thus:

"Blitzcrank's rocket grab is pretty tricky to deal with. Last time I faced him I always got murdered when I didn't keep minions between me and him. Also, wtf jungler nooooooooooooob."

To which bot lane can only respond "ya jungler sucks, gg". But the important thing is, this way he might actually take your advice. And thereby stop feeding Blitzcrank. And really, isn't that the important thing?

This is actually much easier if the behavior you want the other person to perform is something that you, yourself, should reasonably be doing, because then it can take the form of

"Sorry, I keep forgetting to keep minions between myself and Blitz"

which gets across exactly the same information as above, but without any assault-- implied or otherwise-- on the pride of your teammate. (Note that you can totes do this even if you hadn't actually made the error in question. I have never once been called out on this.)

Happy hunting!

*edited for psychological accuracy, courtesy of Blake

Humility is so practical a virtue that men think it must be a vice.
--G.K. Chesterton

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Hawkward.

So I confess to you, though I greatly enjoy the game of League of Legends (or, as we've taken to calling it, Lolitics), the player base... well, I wouldn't say they're all assholes.  Some of them would be more accurately described as jackasses, with perhaps a few shitweasels thrown in for good measure.   Don't get me wrong, it's easy enough to find someone reasonably polite when the team's winning, but when the team loses... well, it's kind of like a game of Hot Potato.  Except instead of a potato being tossed, it's furious insults, typed out by middle-schoolers using every key on their keyboard except for the ones with letters.

So given this, it's entirely understandable that I've really only met one person on there who I've felt like playing with again after the game.  Totally a classy fellow, sportsmanlike, willing to admit fault.

"By Jove!"  I thought.  "What if I introduce this fellow to the rest of my playing group, so that we can all play a game together as a team?  It's bound to have only good results!  Right?  Right."

So then I do, and shortly thereafter, I come to the realization:  this guy seems to be somewhat worse than the rest of my team at the actual game.  

Hawkward.




Although in his defense, that game was after recent patch changes had forced him out of the jungle (which is where he's best), and into the solo top role (which I am given to understand he's really only sorta-decent at.)

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What I listen to while grading exams




There's the guy who always mixes up his "joules" and "kilojoules";
and the guy who cannot seem to use his calculating tools;
the one who takes three-fourths the page to get an answer wrong,
And the one who very plainly nowhere near a lab belongs;
and the student who to get one point will for six weeks persist,
I've got them on the list-- they never would be missed!

Friday, December 2, 2011

A Dark Confessional


In relating the circumstances which have led to my confinement within this refuge for the demented, I am aware that my present position will create a natural doubt of the authenticity of my narrative. It is an unfortunate fact that the bulk of humanity is too limited in its mental vision to weigh with patience and intelligence those isolated phenomena, seen and felt only by a psychologically sensitive few, which lie outside its common experience.  Men of broader intellect know that there is no sharp distinction betwixt the real and the unreal; that all things appear as they do only by virtue of the delicate individual physical and mental media through which we are made conscious of them; but the prosaic materialism of the majority condemns as madness the flashes of super-sight which penetrate the common veil of obvious empiricism.

For this reason, I do not expect many of you to understand why I undertake such actions as I currently perform; I suspect those who do will be only those who have (for reasons of their own) already have succumbed to the temptations I myself have discovered.  Nevertheless, some accounting of my actions is called for, and I will not evade responsibility.

My investigations began my senior year of college, when, on a hunch, I took a computer science course over at Claremont McKenna-- fool that I was to plunge with such unsanctioned frenzy into mysteries no man was meant to penetrate!  My professor was an Asian man of fiery eyes and indeterminate accent, one who knew so much of the mechanical gods that he could tell of their comings and goings-- so much so that many of us deemed him half a god himself.  It was he, I believe, who first implanted the mad desire in me, to sacrifice the righteous teachings of the Lexicanum Alchemical I had studied for so long, in favor of the lunatic ramblings of the computer scientists.

I resisted, friends!  I graduated with my chemistry degree, steeped in the eldritch knowledge known only by the highest priests of my discipline.  But this resistance--conceive you-- it came at a price!  I arrived three months later at my graduate program, with a determination to see my chemical education through, but I suspected then (even as I know now!) that there would come a time when my willpower would fail me, and as the dog returns to his vomit--as the sow returns to her mire-- I would one day find myself casting off the teachings of the Holy and Righteous, abandoning my self, my honor, my very soul to the dark gods I discovered that fateful year.

Therefore, I relate to you: I have been accepted to the Computer Science program at the University of Washington.  For mine is not to become a chemist-- it never was, though in the haze of my delusions I had convinced myself otherwise. No, my destiny is far darker, a horror beyond mortal ken.  Yes, friends-- my fate, I believe, is to become a programmer.  Your attempts to convince me otherwise (well-intentioned though such efforts are!) will fall on deaf ears.  Or not deaf ears, but rather, ears which have opened to the terrible singing of the cosmos-- the Choir of Carcosa-- the opera, if I may so express it, that will end the world.

May God help me.  May God help us all.

"Sometimes I believe that this less material life is our truer life, and that our vain presence on the terraqueous globe is itself the secondary or merely virtual phenomenon."
H.P. Lovecraft, "Beyond the Wall of Sleep"

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Sometimes, when grading, I get stuff like:

"Using a 15 percent difference as acceptable, the room temperature Ksp values with and without KCl are the same as the difference between the two values is 10.5 percent which is less than the acceptable 15 percent and therefore 10.5 percent is acceptable and again the Ksp values with and without KCl are the same."

Lest you think this is an isolated occurrence:  on a different paper, which I do not have in front of me but which I have, unfortunately, committed to memory, I found this sentence as a description of the procedure of the lab:

"We used the measurements to find the calculations."

Kill me now.