Vlorbik's Diner

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Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

do not ask me again

Posted by vlorbik on January 4, 2013

click here.

you drooling moron.

you victim you.

get on board or sign on
for punishment drill.

thanks a whole lot… or, rather,
exactly as much as you deserve…
not at all… for your “help”.

you migt’z well’ve been my
fuckin *enemy* but… no!… then
youl’d’ve taken a *side*. so *fuck* you
fuck you fuck *you* and, ugh, *thank* you
since that means so much to you and your
ghastly unthinkable overlords.

beaten and bowed.

again and again and again.

still i rise.

so fuck you and your whole
belching-and-farting retard belief system.
and yes, i probably do mean *you*.

who do i fuck to get *out* of this chicken outfit.

Posted in Incoherent, Rants | 6 Comments »

quarterly report

Posted by vlorbik on January 6, 2012

i’ve posted nothing here for several months.
i don’t exactly *plan* to return to regular posting;
we’ll see what happens.

fall quarter was much the busiest i’ve been
with actual *paying work* in several years…
so there’s my excuse if any were needed.
i started the quarter with a 2-section
Teaching Assistant post (Calc 4; 3D stuff
and whatnot). then 2 grading positions
came along (Abstract Algebra & Intro Analysis)
and i snapped ’em up. finally, several weeks
into the quarter, the instructor for a
Linear Algebra class took a rest-of-quarter
medical leave and i stepped in and took over.

i also posted *almost* nothing in
MathEdZineBlog. again, i make
no claims about my future behavior.

my “home” connection, never reliable, appears
to be getting worse. meanwhile, my mac is
almost three years old and more and more
online software refuses to deal with it
until i download this-or-that; it’s worked
these three years *without* taking such risks
and’ll probably go right *on* working
for three more if i keep refusing;
meanwhile the net will become useless
to me on that particular box. i’ll still
have *TeX* and “garage band” if i can just
learn to move the files around. you’d think
i was joking but i sadly assure you i mean this.

very likely i’ll get a new, internet-capable, phone.
it’s making me sick to my stomach just thinking it,
but there it is. university people just assume
you’re well-connected and will cheerfully refuse
to deal with you if you can’t keep up. businesses,

i’ll have told the story before somewhere but
here it comes again: i was, for once, an early
adopter when i got a t-mobile “sidekick” in early
2003 and they fucked me but good. there was a
yearlong contract and it quit working in june.
when i tried to get it fixed i was three-quarters
of an hour on the phone before anybody even
*claimed* to be able to help me. and maybe
they could’ve… but they didn’t (i was supposed
to be sent a new username-password combo
but never got it). so i decided to hell with it.

naturally, when i got online (on somebody else’s
connection) to report the bug and explain why
they weren’t gonna get any more monthly checks
i was confronted with a robot rat-maze designed
to gather information about me without helping
me in any way and i soon quit. so the bills
kept coming in and i kept throwing them away.

which would be the end of the story if the
account hadn’t originally been set up on
my then-wife’s credit card. they kept dunning
*her* and she kept wanting *me* to do something
about it. it got pretty fucking emotional.

well, now she’s gone and of course the
whole “mobile phone” racket has undergone
umpty-blue-million updates. meanwhile,
literally millions of people have signed on
and now use the god-damn things routinely.
so how hard can it be? even without
mountains of money or endless patience?

on the other hand, “go with your gut”;
i’m not kidding about this making me
want to throw up.

Posted in Me Me Me, Rants, Warez | 6 Comments »

go tell it on the internet

Posted by vlorbik on August 15, 2011

computer security at xkcd. if we could just get rid of these pesky “humans”…

same thing when i try to wear
my backpack into the drugstore.
“leave it up here where anybody
can easily take it, please… it makes
our robot overlords feel more
secure. women with purses are
okay [so what if they could easily
slip something into ’em out of
sight of our three-gazillion
hidden cameras whereas you’d have to
be some contortionist and master
thief to get anything into your
backpack while it’s on your frigging
back without being noticed].
we just feel more *secure*
when *you* take a risk. this
is a *business*, buddy.” good news
for both of us then: i’m outta here.
and anyhow won’t now be harassed
for my stockholm-syndrome “loyalty card”.
hell. i can get better drugs on the damn
street if i’m gonna have to *gamble*.

but just try living without a phone
or a bank account for a while if you
think you can escape this “password” snafu.
and xkcd doesn’t even *mention*
that “impossible to remember” *also*
implies “much easier to crack
even *without* a computer” since
the victim will of course want
to write the damn thing down
and make it easy to find.

also this: the “defense” department
is actually the *war* department and
changing its name didn’t change its
nature in the least. now this:
the emperor has no clothes. and:
if they call it “security”, somebody’s
rights are being trampled (and you’re next).
more wars! more prisons! more TV!

Posted in Links, Rants | 4 Comments »

2 Henry VI, IV.vii

Posted by vlorbik on November 24, 2009

everybody always cites, the first thing
we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.
but the scariest thing in cade’s rebellion
as presented in shakespeare for me is
“burn all the records of the realm.
my mouth shall be the parliament
of england.”.

because, like i keep tellin ya.
it’s a hardcopy holocaust out there
what with everything being turned into
bits and pulp and landfill.
libraries closing or turning into
data processing stations.
entire university departments…
life support systems for libraries…
being sent to retraining by
human resources zombies with
really good benefits packages.
shred your records at the earliest
opportunity was the law of the land
where *i* was last employed
and i don’t think it’s unusual.
cf whatever rant i posted a while
back about paper bank checks disappearing.

this is how “populist” dictators win.
democratic kampuchea probably the
textbook case of “purge the intellectuals”
but they all do it. it’s farenheit 451
all around us every day so dig it please
and hoard whatever books you think
anybody might want to get a look at later.

Posted in 70s, Books, Despair, Rants, Shakespearefest | 5 Comments »

never get outta the boat

Posted by vlorbik on November 16, 2009

i first encountered the factorial function
at about age ten. in fact, i recently
acquired a copy of the very book i
leaned about factorials from.
i blogged about it here,
mentioning the (classic!) problem—”four fours”—
i learned about ’em from.
the game is, using only “standard” operations
like powering and rooting and multiplying
and subtracting and whatnot…
and *exactly* four 4’s…
and no other numerals..
to write representations of
small natural numbers.

1 = 44/44
2 = 4*4/(4+4)
3 = (4+4+4)/4
4 = 4*4^(4-4)
and so on. a great game for kids.
(you can see it had something of
an influence on *me*…)

kids of all ages lest that go without saying.

anyhow, sooner or later you’ll get stuck.
two things happen. you give up or you
get mad and start looking more carefully.
okay, three. you can *cheat* and allow
“new” symbols… like factorial (!).

the factorial function “counts permutations”.
in the example that should be given
every time the subject come up
until the student indicates that
they’re already doing it “in their
head” every time it come up already
and you can stop again (already):
the permutations of the elements
of {A, L, T} are

*any* three letters can be used of course;
the permutations of {X, Y, Z}
(i’m being sloppy) are

the point… *a* point anyway…
is that a set of *three* letters
will always have *six* permutations.

one easily sees that this is “because”
6 = 3*2*1. likewise for {A,B,C,D}
one has 4*3*2*1 permutations.

4! = 4*3*2*1 = 24
3! = 3*2*1 = 6
2! = 2*1 = 2
1! = 1 = 1

the “factorial of” a (natural) number…
n, say…
is denoted by “postfixing”
(like some… trouble aplenty…
the symbol “!”
(i pronounce this “bang”
usually in class…
“exclamation point”
has five times the
necessary number
of syllables…).

we now introduce the weird-looking
but not-so-weird-if-you-just-look-closer
convention that
0! = 1
(there’s one way, from anyway
one point of view to “list”
the “elements of” the empty set
[i.e., the set of *no* elements…
the “zero” case of “how many elements?”]:
namely the empty *list*).

we can now (though i consider it highly
optional) define the factorial function

!(0) = 1
!(n) = n*!(n-1) [ n\=0],

a “recursive” definition.
these amuse prepared minds
and horrify the rest.
best not try it on the class as a whole
unless they’ve got some “math maturity”.

really n-factorial is spelled “n!”.
i used !(n)
to be perfectly explicit
about the fact that we
*are* considering a
function on N
(the set of natural numbers
[including zero; rant still
to come unless it’s around
here somewhere.

the point is to know like your own middle name
that when you need to count orderings you’ll
*use* this thing (and to know when you *see* it
what the heck it is).

students that can’t write out all 120
permutations of {E,G,B,D,F} at this point,
and go on to the rest of the course anyway,
are *damaged* thereby
and indeed constitute damage to
their whole class and to society at large.

i don’t like this any better than anybody else.
but what i *really* don’t like is being the only
god-damn doctor of philosophy i know of
saying so on the record at this level of detail.

your philosophy is sick and i’m here to fix it.
oh, cursed spite.

you don’t have to be all tough-guy
this-is-college-kid about it… never mind
the if-you-were-serious-you’d-already-*know*
game that wrecks most math classes
before they even get started…
actually, starry-eyed idealist that i am,
i believe that material much easier
than tying your fucking shoes
can probably be taught even
to the dimmest kid admitted
to your college if that’s what
you actually want to fucking do.

i could be wrong of course.

Posted in Exercises, Permutations, Rambles, Rants | 5 Comments »

In Media’s Rays

Posted by vlorbik on November 14, 2009

Finite Sets are most easily displayed
by listing their elements (and, when it’s
convenient so to do, also naming them):

A = {a, b} and T = {a, e, i, o, u}

for example.

We note that A\=a here;
this means that
A \not= a
and that typing math
is here considered as
part of the problem
instead of as part
of the solution.

The point of having so noted
is that we are, as we so often do,
pretending to begin again.
This is in part the effect of
a lifetime’s classroom work
but in this case is also something
of a conscious choice. Anyhow,
I’ve been going on about handwriting
for a while now and intend to
continue. Hypertext is all well
and good and I’ll drop links
as usual according to my whim
(or careful design… you never
can tell… [until you can]… but
there’s nothing like the body
of the post
when you want
to call your reader’s attention
to something).

Make sure that whatever symbols
you use to represent my “A” and my “a”
are easily distinguished. This kind of thing
can sometimes be more trouble than you’d
think. For example,
something of a problem for me,
not in writing down credible versions
but in… but you’ll have guessed…
and suchlike U&lc
(upper-and-lower-case [RIP])
pairs distinguishable,
as i tend to write them
(unless i’m being very careful),
only by their relative sizes.

Gedanken Experiment (I).
Think through which letterpairs
will give you trouble
(when you’re not careful).

in “script” versions of handwritten
letters there are common flourishes
to distinguish, say, script-c
from script-C; “print” letters
aren’t always so easy.

story making very little sense here
(you have to see the letters as i draw them).
my script-y’s and script-z’s
looked too much alike…
and, as you can imagine,
$x$, $y$, and $z$ come up
*a lot* when you stand up
in front of basic-algebra classes…
so i started writing my z’s
differently. had to start
*crossing* ’em to tell ’em
from 2’s.
no wait. actually this story
makes *perfect* sense.
it gives me an opportunity
to report that students
won’t believe that this
is a good idea when told
or shown or even when
they themselves make
a the mistake you’ve
warned ’em about on
work submitted to you
(yourself; that would
be me in this case).
i’m only *vividly* aware
of this having happened
*once* but i can’t swear
it didn’t happen before
or since then. nobody
believes anything you
tell ’em in this sorry
racket and it’s heart-
breaking. heartbreaking
i tell you.

Recall that
A = {a, b} and T = {a, e, i, o, u}

The set product (or cross product)
of a given pair of sets is the set of all possible
ordered pairs consisting
of a first (or left-hand) entry
taken from the first set and
a second (right-hand) entry
from the second set. Thus

A x T=
(a, a), (a, e), (a, i), (a, o), (a, u),
(b, a), (b, e), (b, i), (b,o), (b, u)



The “carriage returns” in our display
of AxT are here as a convenience;
it’s just as correct… and in some circum-
stances correcter… to smash ’em.


i’ve smashed space too.
this can be well worth it.
a *lot* of trouble lies in those
invisible characters.
and if you can learn to read
code that tight–and prove
it by *writing* code that tight–
you’re way beyond this lesson
and it remains only to endure
my plea that you comment on it.

Anyhow. This construction
can be taught to beginners
knowing nothing of set theory
in a single lecture obviously.

And without it, the whole
god-damn “functions as sets
of ordered pairs” thing…
the “let’s cram hundreds of years
of post-scientific-revolution
down their tender little throats
in one big enormous blob
of sticky incomprehension” thing…
is doomed. Because what the
hell is any of this going to have
to do with so-called “graphs”
in the student’s imagination
if the instructors haven’t themselves
ever connected these dots?

Well, quite a bit actually when the student
isn’t already badly damaged when they
encounter the nonetheless-incredibly-mangled
presentations we get in the “standard” treatments…
I was ahead of the instructor sometimes myself
in early days and it did me a world of good.

But the real point.
This should be presented by about 7th grade
and then again and again until everybody can teach it
to a 7th grader easily.
Because it’s the kind of down-to-the-ground
moral fucking certainty
without which math
is just more mental masturbation.

This is sadly lacking in our culture at large;
obviously there’s only so much we can do
in our classrooms about it. And creating
*programs* for the culture at large is a
fool’s errand or showbusiness or politics
not math. But dammit. Give the poor devils
a chance to be right when the teacher’s wrong
and know it in this one arena I beg of you.
It won’t make ’em into little
and even if it did, they’ll
be just as easily marginalized
as I’ve been fear not of that.

The trick has been to get ’em into “statistics”
with no probability. But just to talk about rolling
two dice, any math-head worth their salt
requires a cross-product (DxD
where D= {1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6}).

The display alone
11 12 13 14 15 16
21 22 23 24 25 26
31 32 33 34 35 36
41 42 43 44 45 45
51 52 53 54 55 56
61 62 63 64 65 66
and a few hours with
a competent fellow-student
would be more helpful
to a beginning student
than a wilderness of stix classes
as I see it. So. How to keep
students apart? Online classes baby.

Exercise in case you missed the whole rant.
Let \eta = \{0,1\} and \zeta =\{\pi, \sqrt2, e\}.
Write out
(including every bracket, brace, paren,
and comma [and no extras]…
but with space on the page
left to your taste and discretion)
copies of \eta \times \zeta and \zeta \times \zeta.

Posted in Handwriting, Notations, Rambles, Rants, Sets | 3 Comments »

every dogma has its day

Posted by vlorbik on September 20, 2009

1.0 our purpose is understanding.

2.0 our medium is handwriting.
2.1 certain handwritten documents
will be central to our discussion.
2.1.1 “discussion” itself could be
called our medium… but this is
too broad. we are in the realm
of human interaction already
by saying “doctrines of the day”.
2.1.2 anyhow note that certain
pages of paper with student
handwriting are the “coin of
the realm” — the *exams* for
a course determine most or all
of the mystical “grade”. maybe.
2.1.3 we note here with distaste
that these will typically
include a comprehensive departmental final.
2.1.4 at the same time we revel in it
since it’s like some vestigal
remnant of a bygone era, an era
of, if not greater *honesty*,
anyway one heck of lot more
2.2 mathematical “code” will be
central to these handwritten documents.
2.2.1 words and figures will
of course play their part.
2.2.2 it is noteworthy here that
extramathematical arts like
“penmanship” and drawing–
*graphic* arts–
play a vital role in producing
documents of high value. there is controversy
concerning whether “grade”
value or only esthetic value
should be meant here. this is a damn shame.
2.2.3 perhaps less noteworthy
(but, needless to say, here
noted anyway) is the fact that
*language* arts are also vital. this is the academy,
after all. what are damn well
*not* vital are friggin computers. we’ll return to this.

Posted in Rants, Warez | Leave a Comment »

Lies Of The Program

Posted by vlorbik on August 19, 2009

The techniques in this chapter are most important and should be thoroughly practiced before proceeding to the rest of the book.

now, this is a contemptable lie.
anyhow, that’s my gut reaction;
a moment’s analysis reveals that
since no “ought” has much of anything
to do with an “is”… at least not
until some philosophical framework
can be put into place… what we
have here couldn’t *possibly* be
a “lie” in the sense of
“statement contrary to fact”
(which is pretty close to the surface
in whatever i think i’m talking about
when i use “lie” *without* first
having somehow established
a philosophical framework beyond
the “common sense” i’m more or less
bound in the nature of the case
to assume in my ideal reader.
geez. okay. come on. really.).

it *feels* like a lie though…
so there’s some belief of mine
that this feels like an attack on.
well? aha. my belief that
“prerequisites are tools of the devil”.

you see somebody copping this
how-can-you-have-any-pudding attitude
right there in cold print and if you’ve
got ears to hear you’ll shove the damn thing
into the shredder because they’re telling
you loud and clear you can learn nothing
from them except that “only by actually playing
will you ever learn anything about playing”.

which is itself sort of “true”.

suppose we begin to sketch out
a duality along the lines theory/technique.

technique without theory–
what our author is in effect advocating here–
is then the famous “training”
that “reform” education would have us
always to turn away from
(but without actually, you know,
*moving* away… mustn’t make waves…).
“school” as opposed to “learning”.

theory without technique?
well, that’d be what the
*counter-reform* party–
i’d’ve included myself
when i still pretended to convictions–
is always attacking “educationists” for.
“whatsoever king shall reign,
i’ll be vicar of bray, sir!”–
it doesn’t matter *what* the “content”,
a real teacher-not-trainer will
teach “the child not the subject”
and so needn’t be accountable
for *any* certain set of “mere” skills
etcetera et bleeding cetera
god knows we never get enough
venom on either side and can always
use plenty more on both.

and, in further defense of the
damnable lie in question
(which remains a damnable lie…
there are actual *songs* in the
back of the book for the love of god;
of course no living teacher
would tell a living student
*not* to try playing around on ’em
until they’d “thoroughly practiced”
i-m, i-m, i-m; 2-1, 2-1, 2-1
“the descending ligado”.
i mean, come on.)…
probably every teacher feels the duty
to remind the student that
the truly diligent student
seeks to *surpass* the teacher; also
“*whatever* i can teach you
you’ll only really learn it
when you make it your own”
etcetera etcetera.

probably our author will have had to tell
every last living one of his
(“frederick m. noad” has here
been assumed “male” for, hmm,
rhetorical purposes) living students:
“you need to practice more!”. anyhow,
this would appear to be something
most teachers need to tell
most students sooner or later.

so he’s just trying to get the effect
in print. failing badly, of course;
most people don’t seem to care
*what* the heck they commit to print
just so they can get it over with.
mr. noad (peace be on him!)
should write out
“teach the whole student”
fifty times before he’s ever
allowed to learn anything else
from *me*.

Posted in Lies, Music, Rants | 1 Comment »

We Don’t Need No Stinking Badgers

Posted by vlorbik on August 17, 2009

stand up for yourself
or find somebody to stand up for you
or be beaten and raped and left alone
with your pain until the next guy
in line comes to beat you and rape you
again. that kind of thing.
the rules of the tank and not only
of the tank: the rules of the oldest
profession. at least some of the time.
*some* of those “girls” out on the street
every night and day are presumably beaten up
pretty regularly just to keep the money flowing
for some “pimp”—a word so loaded
that, for me, it can *have* no “literal” meaning
(hence the squarequotes; a marginal note
as it were to myself marking a bit that
requires more explication; a kiss and
a promise). anyhow, the pimp considered
as an economic actor would then be, what,
a member of the second-oldest profession?
because this looks like “slaves and bosses
shall be the order of the day” from here
and a good enough model of *all* economic life
to account for the constant currency
of the very *saying* about
“the oldest profession”.

anyhow if you can’t beat him you join him
so you’re reunited with the cosmic principle
whereas acceptance is the answer to all
your problems and you get out there
and turn your tricks like a good girl
or anyhow come back with the money
one way or another because, well,
because you’ve got to *turn it over*.
and so you just accept it and call it
stockholm syndrome or call it the gospel
but it actually works because christ
it’s better than fucking jail.
where there’s even less carrot
and even more stick. the rules.

and how do they frighten the hardened cons?
pascal’s quiet room alone.
which i’m actually pretty good at.
please don’t misunderstand:
solitary *confinement* would
break my spirit down too and
probably faster than most;
i’m not claiming any moral toughness here
(quite the opposite in fact…
more “scarequotes”…).

but, and i think i’m getting pretty close
to an actual *point* here, something
“lee” said recently. reading makes people
less inclined to violence.

so you learn the arts of literacy
because if bygod all you’ve gotta do
to get out of the next assbeating
is, i don’t know, memorize some
_bible_ verses (as an ex of mine
was made to do as a kid for this
very reason; i expect this is
*very* common in at least some
and it works.

and if you get so good at this “reading” thing?
that you can instruct others? oh goody.
you can be a “schoolteacher”. your job?
teach people to do as they’re told
(or negotiate a way to fake it).
for advanced credit, give the appearance
that you’re doing something worthwhile
and loving it; this is called
“making us look good” (or “the bait”).
but don’t forget: advanced credit
can work against you. nobody likes a smartass.

Posted in Rambles, Rants, Religion | 8 Comments »