Monday, February 16, 2004

Hermits used to be revered as wise and holy men. Many of them were saints, and many a monastery sprung up around a monk who gained a following. The idea of the "wise man sitting atop a mountain" is a classic meme running through our society. Jesus spent several years in the desert with a hermetic group. Bodhidarma attained enlightenment after sitting in a cave for nine years.

Why then did one of my classes today involve a series of preachings by upperclassmen on how we must all go out and fraternize, gain experience and make friends? Why must we all be leaders and extroverted social fellows? Why is the lifestyle of being an introvert and spending your nights on the computer so frowned upon?

Guh. Makes me mad.

Thursday, February 12, 2004

I officially love my CS 290 class

Or maybe just my CS 290 professor.

We have several programming projects throughout the year--I believe six in all--and we currently are (supposed to be) working on the second one. Someone e-mailed Professor Brylow asking about the possibilities of an organized errata page, in order to list changes to the specs when mistakes are found in the projects. This was very useful last semester in CS 180.

The professor replied, rather arrogantly, "I haven't had any projects that required errata since the mid 90's. I intend to have none this semester." Both statements, he informed us, were true.

On Wednesday he came into the lecture hall, lit up the projector, and wrote "APOLOGY" at the top, and underneath that "4 BUGS". We had found four bugs in the sample executable the TA's had written and given to us to emulate.

The professor had printed out his e-mail and read it aloud to a class of 110 students, then proceeded to tear up the paper and literally eat his words.

Yes. Definitely love Professor Brylow.

Tuesday, February 3, 2004


Updated Signs that You're a Hopeless CS Major:
You refer to dice as random-number generators.
You start coding in your head.
...before you get out of bed.
You watch the Animatrix and cringe at their programming fallacies.
You hear people talking about 'getting head' and 'getting tail' and you think they're talking about linked lists.
...and you jump into the conversation.
...and don't understand why they're giving you such weird looks.
You think the phrase 'getting to third base' means 'converting decimal to trinary'.

A Crowd is Just a Gallery of Pictures

In Spanish, my junior year, SeƱor Smith asked some question and I was the only one to raise my hand. He made some comment along the lines of "Victor's the only one here", leaving out "who knows the answer". So from that we had a nice laugh and some conversations about how I was the only one in Spanish class, and all my classmates were just figments of my imagination.

I realized, at some point, that they were right.

Other people don't exist.

Those who walk around, smile, talk, and clearly exist in a physical sense, what are they? Are they human? No, they're just vague shells. Talking, moving automata and simulacra. They have no depth. What are their families like? What do they think, dream, hope, fear? What do they do in their spare time? As long as I'm just sitting at my desk listening to the teachers' lectures, none of those questions have any answers.

I can't feel terribly sad about tragedies that happen to people I don't know because those people are just names or numbers. When the World Trade Center was destroyed, I was upset in a general sense, but it never really bothered me that thousands of people lost their lives. And yet I can empathize with characters from books, comics, movies, television, roleplaying--characters that do not exist, never have, and never will--because they're more real to me than other people. I know they have feelings to be hurt, dreams to be lost, friends to be protected: I can see them, read about them.

But without a narrative like that explaining to me why I should care about these people, I just don't.