With quite a fashionable dispassion for the dispossessed under-stressed gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme.

That nonsensical title is from an awesome Clap Your Hands and Say Yeah song. I chose it because it makes as much sense as this post is going to make. These are the unrelated thoughts which occupy my Monday mind.

  • After three years of an “full time” programming in Matlab, I have finally embraced what computer science majors have known since the advent of objects. Budding engineers and non-compsci scientists, heed my warning: always write your code as specific functions which perform highly general tasks. I waste a lot of time by writing scripts to do a specific job, then finding out later I want to accomplish the same task in a different context. My old script is now a jumble of code which wont work in the new setting. Furthermore, it’s worse to try to understand the old code than it is to just rewrite it. Writing general code (with error catching, transposition invariance, “soft-coded” variables, etc…) is more work on the first pass, but saves time in the future.
  • Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring is, in this author’s opinion, one of our species’ greatest achievements. Spend a half hour to listen some time. I promise it is not stuffy or intellectually hyped in the way of a Wagner opera or Shakespeare monologue. NPR did a “Milestone of the Millennium” about it. Someday I will write a blog post extolling the many reasons this 25 minutes of music is a greater contribution to the world than every piece of art in MoMa combined.
  • I hate that I have to conform to WordPress.com’s CSS styles. For example, I think this bullet list is too tight and needs more space after a <li>. WordPress strips out the <br>s from code, so I can’t manually space it. On my own site this would be a cinch to fix. Should I move the blog to my own domain? Do you forgive me for my cookie cutter wordpress theme?
  • Why do so few people in science realize the human cost of operating systems/algorithms/programming languages often means more than the technical aspects? I don’t care if my code runs 13% faster under some language that will take me two years to learn and will be obsolete in another two. I don’t want to use some 2-color command line to run some black box of a computer. Give me Windows and GUIs and I’ll wait patiently for my code to finish.
  • If you haven’t seen the movie Once, you should strongly consider seeing the movie Once. It is so well done that watched it twice yesterday. It does not escape my attention that I watched Once twice.
  • Do you ever wish song lyrics had more emotional content when written as text? I do. Reading lyrics is just awkward, unless you know the song and can read the words with mental meter. Consider the closing lyrics of Matt Pond PA’s amazing song New Hampshire,

and I know that it’s brief
there’s not nearly enough in one night to have seen,
what you had in your hand,
was much more than the gold that I let go to grab
so much more than the gold that I let go to grab

If you now listen to the song (especially if you are a lover of all things New Hampshire) you will see it does not, in fact, come across as teenage poetry.

~ by wcuk on March 10, 2008.

2 Responses to “With quite a fashionable dispassion for the dispossessed under-stressed gimme gimme gimme gimme gimme.”

  1. OK….. you really shouldn’t sweat the little things in life; get over it and move on.

  2. Now I love Appalachian Springs (you should hear the original version written for just a 13-piece chamber orchestra), but worth more than everything in MoMA? I don’t think so.

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