Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Assorted

Is Assorted the opposite of sorted? If so, how does it differ from unsorted? Does unsorted imply that the thing has never been sorted? Or, perhaps, is it a reduction of "A sorted [something]", implying that everything assorted should, in fact, be in some sort of order?

I enjoy pop linguistics, but find etymology to be varyingly maddening or dull.



I was walking home, running my usual internal monologue.

Hey, that patch of grass sure is dead.

There aren't very many squirrels out today.

Why do I have so much trouble with the Gangnam Style dance?

Then a car went by.

Oh, that car has a Baylor sticker. I went to Baylor!

At which point I stopped, standing on someone's lawn by the street, my face falling into an even more stupid looking expression than normal.

Wait.

What?

No I didn't. Why would I think that?

And, indeed, I never went to Baylor. I never even sort of went to Baylor. I never considered it and rarely think of the school in any capacity. I have no ill will towards the institution, but no particularly good will either, just the vague positive impression of "That's a good school" as everyone nods their heads and one person recounts the tale of how "My [relative] went to that school and says it is good." More head nodding.

Two things are possible. Either my brain is noticeably sub-optimal (very possible) or my brain is generally the same as the sort of brains that discover general relativity and performed the tremendous logistics of the holocaust.



I think it was Richard Feinman, though I could well be wrong, that used to go up to other academics and ask them "What is the biggest unsolved problem in your field?" They would give an answer (or three, them being academics) and Feinman would respond "Then why aren't you working on that?"

The answer, of course, is that hard problems are hard, popular problems are crowded, and important is not the same as enjoyable. If you can walk all the way out there, the extensive margin can be a lot of fun. If you profoundly enjoy a very specific thing, the intensive margin can be quite rewarding. Everyone else should blog and play video games.

N.B. I find that the following questions are the right mix of interesting and important:

  • What do we owe the future
  • What do we owe the dead
  • Sperm do not have rights. Jimmy Carter has rights. Why, how, and when did that change occur
  • Is there an instruction set for theoretical AI that ensures that they are safe for humanity and permits singularity levels of intelligence



What was one supposed to do after "Catching them all"?



Re: the Fermi Paradox. Is it more depressing to think that the universe is almost completely devoid of intelligent life, or to think that the universe is full of intelligent life but the costs of interstellar travel are prohibitively expensive under any technological conditions. I would think the latter to be worse.



I could have watched an entire episode of the Vampire Knight anime in the time it took me to write this. How does one weigh a small amount of immediate pleasure against a small amount of the vague sense that I am "improving myself" by continuing to write everyday?



I was considering ending the post with something like this
but in the same Google search I found this

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