Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Yay Mathematics

The astute of you who read this blog will notice that there's a distinct lack of algebraic equations and statistical permutations posted. Those of you that are HIGHLY astute will then use that knowledge to come to the logical conclusion that I hate math.

Well, you'd only be kinda right. It isn't that I hate math. It's just that it hasn't ever come easy for me - not like English, and currekt spelling,, and GraMar and punkt-ooo-A-shun. I'm a wiz at those, clearly. But math & sciences? No way. In high school, I used to skip entire days and write fake notes simply so I wouldn't have to take the math, chemistry or physics tests I was certain I'd fail (and often did when I had to take the makeup.) I got caught, and my daddy gave my hide a whoopin'. I also came very close to getting suspended but the house master was lenient seeing as it was final exam time. He was later arrested on (completely unrelated) charges of being a peeping tom and subsequently fired, which made me feel a little better about my own wrongdoings.

Anyway, I mention all this because I'm currently on break in my SQL Server Database Management Class (yes, CLASS. Whoulda thunk?) and I am once again reflecting on how ironic it is that I shunned math and sciences in school, yet ended up working in technology as a career. One thing I want to get straight right now. Remember in school when the one whiner in class would throw down his/her pencil and exclaim, "Why do I have to learn this stuff? I'm never going to use it anyway!" Well, I was occasionally that whiner and despite my teachers best attempts at refuting that statement, I would like to take this moment to gloat and say that I was right. I rarely use math anymore, other than to perform simple arithmetic. If things get a little too heavy a calculator (or Microsoft Excel) usually does the trick.

Yet this class I'm taking is causing me to rethink that argument just a little. My powers of logic, never very strong, now fully appear to suck. Many of the problems I've had to solve thus far have involved really simple logic and I've gotten through them with about a mug full of brow sweat and some new teeth marks on the #2's. It shouldn't be THIS difficult.

To add a little insult to injury, just now while on break, I was surfing through (what else?) Boing Boing and came across a link to this article from some important mathematical professor dude in Norway who tries to convince high schoolers, and those about to enter, to study more math. He makes a fairly convincing argument, although some of his logic is flawed. Although should I, as someone who just admitted that his logic skills suck, be criticizing people for flawed logic? I don't know. Maybe if had studied more. Anyway... look at some of the following statements.

'Choose math because you will live in a world of constant change. New technology and new ways of doing things change daily life and work more and more. If you have learned math, you can learn how and why things work, and avoid scraping by through your career, supported by Post-It Notes and Help files -- scared to death of accidentally pressing the wrong key and running into something unfamiliar.'

As I just mentioned, I hardly ever use more than simple arithmetic in my everyday job which has everything to do with technology. Knowing math isn't going to help you learn the newest version of Windows or UNIX - exposure and experience will. Plus, if his math helped his technological skills so much, why does his website look like it was created with the 1992 version of Microsoft Front Page?

'Choose math because it doesn't close any doors. If you don't choose math in high school, you close the door to interesting studies and careers. You might not think those options interesting now, but what if you change your mind?'

The hell it won't. By deciding to concentrate on math, you're essentially making a decision not to concentrate on something else. How is a student with a gift for writing and linguistics better off if he/she decides to drop those subjects and study math? You may be stifling the next Shakespeare there, jerk. Thanks a lot.

Still, those are just a few small pieces of the article. Much of what else he has to say appears sound enough. I particularly love the way he ended:

' Math is a sharp knife for cutting through thorny problems. If you want a sharp knife in your mental tool chest - choose math!'

Funny. I find that a sharp tongue and a well chosen insult work well too.

Bah! I guess I'm just irritated that I actually have to think to figure out this SQL code when my brain is already mush. Important Norwegian Professor Dude is right. Math is important. I'm just being hostile towards what I don't understand. Maybe if I study more math, I'll be able to get a better handle on my emotions. For now though, I'm stuck with a=b and b=c. Just got to figure out what 'a' stands for again.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Choose Math. Choose a job. Choose a career. Choose a family. Choose a fucking big television, choose washing machines, cars, compact disc players and electrical tin openers. Choose good health, low cholesterol, and dental insurance. Choose fixed interest mortgage repayments. Choose a starter home. Choose your friends. Choose leisurewear and matching luggage. Choose a three-piece suite on hire purchase in a range of fucking fabrics. Choose DIY and wondering who the fuck you are on a Sunday morning. Choose sitting on that couch watching mind-numbing, spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fucking junk food into your mouth. Choose rotting away at the end of it all, pishing your last in a miserable home, nothing more than an embarrassment to the selfish, fucked up brats you spawned to replace yourself. Choose your future. Choose Math... But why would I want to do a thing like that? I chose not to choose Math. I chose somethin' else. And the reasons? There are no reasons. Who needs reasons when you've got Microsoft Excel?

9:36 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Despite the fact that it's blasphemous (you're messing with my favorite movie of all time right there), THAT was simply one of the best comments I have read on this or any other blog.

Well done, my anonymous friend!

9:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Comments like that are the reason I choose not to comment very often. I concur....excellent rant, though the movie escapes me.

Greetings from Nihon Eric.

9:51 AM  
Blogger Eric said...

Thank you B. I had to look up Nihon on Google to figure out that you were in Japan at the moment. Hope you're enjoying your trip.

Oh, and that rant is the opening monologue from Trainspotting, although my friend replaced the words "life" with "math", and "heroin" with "Microsoft Excel"

4:03 PM  

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