Sunday, May 26, 2013



  I was watching a little mathematics demonstration on YouTube from "Minute Physics" (yeah, I'm that nerdy) which was arguing the proper order of operations in a formula of instructions: ie. 8 - 2 + 1 = ?  The argument was do you subtract or add first?  For example:

8 - 2 + 1 = ?
8 - 3 = 5   or  6 + 1 = 7

 Well, in school we know that (-2) is a negative two and you add that, so it comes out as such:

8 + (-2) + 1 = ?
6 + 1 = 7

It went on for more complicated possibilities, such as 6 / 3 / 3 (which do you divide first, and does it matter?)  Well, it argues in school we're taught left-to right firstly, and multiplication and division before addition and subtraction unless we use parenthesis.  It was a boring argument but it was talking about the morality of mathematics and "mathematical freedom".  It went on for a while if you want to watch it.  Normally I subscribe to "Minute Physics" as often it's interesting, as well as "VSauce" which bring up some interesting concepts.  This one, not so much, however, arguing mathematics with PEMDAS is too robotic.

  Someone was pointing out that Google was giving a different mathematical result as if the search-engine "Google" was all-knowing and a be-all end-all solution for things as an actual mathematical "proof".  This, I found, was troubling on a societal scale.

  Google as a solution to all their problems.  Indeed, the company has become a household word in America by now, and even evolved to become an inverse-gerund (a noun used as a verb, ie. let's Google the answer.)  All really is is a search engine for other generally editorial websites and doesn't really prove anything, though one could argue, "What's the standard then?"  Well, we could Google a result from only Encyclopedia Britannica (or Galactica) and the answer would likely be correct, but Google itself is merely a blind card-catalog in a massive library of periodicals (magazines) and a few books, all written by people.  One cannot find the truth by Googling a website, reading a human-created article, and call it a "proof".  Still, such things will get you on your way, and ultimately, truth is just a collection of opinions and/or scientific proofs, some of which are written (either correctly or incorrectly) on web pages, books, and other articles.  Typos do indeed exist in these transcriptions to websites and, dare I say, text books as well.  I've seen it.  It seems a lot of folks idolize these website as they take them for fact, because it's easier.

  Still, my concern is that America has put a lot of faith and trust into websites such as Google, Wikipedia, and other semi-fact-editorial sites.  Some websites actually mimic their bigger brothers, like WikiFacts, using a similar layout as Wikipedia but having some dubious entries not as policed by editorial societal members.  I find Wikipedia is aggressively maintained for most entries, some more than others.  I've made a few adjustments based on first-hand knowledge on a few things and I do indeed have an account to do so and some credibility to have it accepted and kept.  Say, for instance, you went to Wikipedia and you changed the entry for Jesus Christ to be Jesus Christ on a Popsicle stick (which Jesus may or may not find amusing, though I'm apt to think if the entry was kindly translated for Him, He'd have a chuckle) the entry would be adjusted within a minute or two by any number of religious organizations.  I'm sure there's a division in the Vatican that polices just that on Wikipedia, and, thanks to FaceBook selling anyone who pays, would find your personal information and all about you and keep an eye on you for a few days.  Oh, and by the way, FaceBook will sell all personal information (IP address, physical location, browsing history, your entire hard-drive contents, etc.) on one individual for $0.38.  Yep, 38 cents.  That's how much you're worth, and yes, FB has the right in the user-agreement to do so, and scan your hard-drive, and copy anything they want from it.  Nice.

  So Americans have a bit of an idol-worship on Google.  People accept its results unquestioningly.  Some will take a few samplings from Google, such as take 10 website articles and filter them, but this is how the "Global Warming has nothing to do with Solar Cycle" scam happened, and folks still think tropospheric perturbations affect global climate (it's stratospheric, kids, like volcanoes, nukes, solar flares, and rocket launches with yummy metric-tons of propellant, cars only create smog in valleys temporarily and do not affect global-climate, only immediately local climate).  People also accept Wikipedia more-so than not now-a-days, and the argument, "Oh, if it's on the Internet, it's gotta be true." joke is starting to wane.  Indeed, we've idolized certain websites as Truth, and I say, "Nay nay!"

  It's not a healthy choice, but it's good to get a smattering of various opinions to form your own personal truth, sure.  Scientifically, you can get truths a lot easier by manuals and such, though it's hard to get a Truth that's 100% accurate.  In school we listened to praises of Columbus the Explorer and how he discovered America who was actually an Italian opportunist pirate who discovered Cuba, never got near the landmass of the United States, and apparently ate and raped children.  Some hero.  Columbus, it seemed, was a real jerk.  So because of this, Truth itself is almost always evolving, coming more into focus.

  Most people aren't that clever I've noticed.  Most people stop learning around age 16 or so and become brain-dead and have no sense of wonder, happy to bury and waste their lives on palm-sized "phones" smashing birds at pig architecture or smearing their muddy paws over the screen cutting-up virtual fruit while Life ticks away behind them until they wondered where 10 years went.  Hint: it's rude and pathetic.  I've owned them, and I understand the lure, but Life is happening around you, why bury yourself in digital oblivion?  You're not eight years old.

 Most people idolize certain websites as Truth and accept it as such in the same way the Israelites started to worship false gods after Moses led them from Egypt.  We Americans had AltaVista, Yahoo, RocketMail, and the like at first, and before that, BBSs and Forums (which are still useful and quite editorial) but I'm worried the dumb America (the 90% of us who can't find, say, Egypt on a map or solve a differential equation or understand why Michael Bay movies suck because of silly-physics he wants you to belive in) will just accept these false gods as Truth without questioning, without doubting.  It's turning out like the epic album The Warning by Queensryche where computers pose as gods and the People accept it as such (until the computer deems humans as a virus and must eliminate the problem).

  I really want people to think and consider and not accept things as Truth until they analyze it themselves, but it might be too late.  People go to sleep with no sense of wonder these days, they browse the solution to a question and go to sleep satisfied.  Back in the '70s if you wanted to know where Tom Petty was born, you wouldn't know.  You'd buy a few rock-oriented magazines, ask a few friends at work, but no one would know, and you'd wonder for weeks, and you'd go to sleep not knowing.  You'd go to the library but it might omit his birth place and you wouldn't know for years.  One day, you'd meet a girl on the street who's a super Tom Petty fan, and she'd know, "Yeah, he's from Florida!" and you'd marry that girl.  Today, people are numb cows who click it, look it up on Wikipedia and go to sleep without a care in the world.  Not good.  People are numb cows now, and I'm not impressed.  I wish I could smash Google and Wikipedia and destroy iTunes so that you'd have to actually buy a vinyl album and revel in it's album-art and sit and listen to the whole gosh darn album (no fast-forwarding on vinyl lest you scratch it up, hopping the needle) and you appreciate every track and you read the liner-notes and you sit and listen for an hour or so to the album and cars don't have radios and you need a dime to make a phonecall at a phonebooth as there'll be no cell-phones and you actually have to drive your car with a sense of danger and you buy maps at a triple-A store or get a Rand McNally and plot your way across country. 

  I want you to try that.  Leave your cellphone at home and turn off your OnStar and shut your radio off, then go for a 1 hour drive.  Don't worry, you won't die.

  We were self-reliant then, now, too much trust is put in websites.  I say we smash them all and start over, and take ourselves back to 1975 and start again, this time with more caution on inventing the Internet.  It's too easy, and people are too soft.  I wish I could smash them all like a modern-day super-iconoclast!

I'm out.


  1. Hi, nice to meet you. Thanks for the follow. New follower here.

    1. Welcome aboard, Rachna Chhabria. Please browse the previous 401 posts at your leisure. Consider the "Best Movies" of each decade list from last year (rather popular) or the famous "Chainsaw" post. Glad to have you aboard!

  2. Oh, the Internet. It's made it so easy to find answers with the click of a button, but then you have to ask yourself... is it the RIGHT answer? Hold on, let me ask Wikipedia...

    Also, I only buy digital albums, but I buy exactly that - albums. If I only like 1 song I won't add it to my library. I want to hear a whole album, cover to cover (including the album art), not just 1 song that's being played to death on the radio.

    1. I will concede that there are digital albums that though lack warmth of analog make up for in high resolution, such as HD Audio albums in DVD-Audio or Bluray-Audio quality. Quite impressive and I'd say Bluray-Audio discs (and the uncompressed digital downloadable equivalent) are on-par with vinyl at this point. Some people think 320kbps MP3 audio is "pretty okay" though, but I find those people tone-deaf, and usually think current pop music is "really good" and haven't listened to side 1 of the 1978 album, Hemispheres which is the only song, "Cygnus X-1: Book II" by Rush. Luckily, XM Radio is brave enough to play something like that. You don't hear FM's demiser "Clear Channel Radio" attempting anything so impressive, instead playing Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" or Pandora's weak offering of "Communication Breakdown" as an edgy, prog-rock suggestion. If Pandora played all of "Tarkus", then we'll talk, Pandora, until then..