SO recently there’s been this traffic on fics-chat regarding “You know you’re a fuzzy when…” and “You know you’re a techie when…”. Also someone was talking about majors in his thoughts page. At any rate, he made a bold claim that IE is more difficult than CS as a major. This is fallacious. Not to say that the converse is true, but I think you can’t say that either is more difficult than the other. The reason is, the claim that IE is more difficult than CS stems from the fact that IE is more faceted than CS, involving different types of thinking or “talent” and thus is more difficult. This is arguable, I think. Being more multi-faceted in itself doesn’t demonstrate that it’s more difficult. I think the counter claim would be that CS is more difficult because it goes way in depth for a particular type of thinking than IE does. And while I don’t know too much about IE, I think it would be a safe claim to say that CS goes a lot more into depth into an admittedly narrow subject than IE does in its many subjects. And the argument might be made that it is easier to go through many fields in a more relatively superficial level than it is to go into one field, particularly one as technical as CS, in depth. And believe me, when you really get into the details, it’s pretty difficult. Not that I agree, but I think you can at least see the counter claim, that in-depthness, regardless of the acuity (is that the right word) of the field, is more difficult. So in the end, you can’t say conclusively which is harder; it depends on your perspective and what’s easier for you.
That said, Symbolic Systems is easily more difficult than both of these majors. I don’t mean to toot my own horn, but I say this because the way the major works, you have to take a bunch of classes without taking the requirements. I mean, you look at the program, and the core curriculum isn’t that bad, but then you realize there are all these prerequisites for everything that aren’t listed. For example, CS106B is a requirement. So obviously, you have to take 106A, but it’s not listed. Or CS221, for which CS157 is a requirement, and they strongly suggest Stats 116. So it’s a lot bigger than it appears at the surface. Secondly, it is easily one of the most truly interdisciplinary majors at Stanford. There are very few more so. And the crazy thing is, you do go into depth in these fields. Okay, maybe not all of them. I’ll admit my exposure to linguistics and psychology is pretty superficial, but still way more than say an intro to linguistics or psych 1 class. I mean, you go into depth into particular areas of these fields. And Philosophy blows me away because they require you to take an upper division class, and it’s really not easy.
This is a side note. I love the philosophy we do, but it seriously is dense, and the book we use is described as for upper division students. Anyway, I think about it, and when I talk about it, very few people get when I’m trying to say. My point being, few people are capable of really “getting” a class like Theory of Knowledge. Much less succeed in the other fields required in Symbolic Systems. Anyway, almost no girls I talk to about Philosophy get it. In fact, I’ve never had a good philosophical discussion with a girl. Which makes me think they just think differently than guys and this kind of stuff doesn’t cross their mind and doesn’t attract them. Which I’ve accepted. The thing is, there are girls in the class, and that doesn’t make sense to me, totally. So are girls capable of thinking this way? What I’ve noticed is that even in this class, the girls seem to think differently than the guys, even though they are thinking about things I thought girls never think about. It’s not that they don’t understand it, it’s just they think about it differently. Interesting.
Anyway, it just blows me away that my major makes me take this class. I mean, I’m brilliant, so it’s no problem, but I can’t believe they make everyone else take it, and that they succeed at it. It’s almost humbling. Except I am convinced that I think more clearly than all but 2 of the students in our Philosophy class. Actually 3, one of which is a girl. Interestingly, these 3, and myself, we almost never talk, and it’s the idiots that gab all the time.
Do I sound arrogant? The sad truth is I am. But I am also convinced that there is no way I will be successful in this world. Because I do not have any of the skills required for success. I admire people like Henry, Paul Lee, Chi Hua, etc. who are really capable in this worldly sense, because that’s really antithetical to who I am. Henry really is one of the most capable people I know, and I notice this all the more because I am truly one of the least capable people I know. But the stuff I am good at, I stumble with arrogance about. Speaking of which, it’s hilarious that Henry calls his page the humble page. It’s like he called it that so he could go out of his way to show how deeply cocky he is. I should call my page the page of Presbyterian orthodoxy. R.C.Sproul – “Calvinism is just a nickname for Christianity.”
Anyway, in addition to that pretty tough stuff in each field, you have to go really in depth in one particular field. I admit, this one kind of lets you wuss out. Because you can choose kind of a weak sauce concentration. But some are pretty tough. Especially AI. Artificial intelligence. It is just really a difficult concentration, and it’s all upper division classes! I mean, my classes are with CS grad students, not even undergrads. Anymore, at least. So Symbolic Systems requires both an interdisciplinary thought process, one that extends throughout several really different fields, and also in-depthness. Therefore, it’s the hardest major.
And any major that doesn’t require Phil 160A is a wuss major in any case.
So in the spirit of Hsu I’m gonna toot my own horn again. Actually, I felt bad about it, because I felt so good about myself. But with all the traffic going around on fics-chat, I was all high on myself because I really understood everything people were talking about. I mean all that nerdy CS stuff, I’m down with that. All that techie stuff. But I also understand all that pre-med stuff. The labs, all that stuff. And that fuzzy stuff, with tons of reading, papers, I understand that too. Basically the only thing I don’t really understand is anything regarding money. Like econ, any of that optimization or stuff like that is a complete mysetery. But that almost makes me “prideful” (<– not a real word. Don’t use it in prayers.) So basically, I thought I was really dope. Heck, why am I using past tense? I think I’m dope. I am. But I use past tense because I’ve always without fail been humbled in the past and I have no doubt I will be with this.
Have you noticed how people have to repeat a certain word in their prayers? Everybody has one, they just use different ones. I personally use “Lord God.” But it’s kind of annoying. For example when the prayer sounds like “Father God we just thank you Father God for bringing us Father God to this place Father God where we can pray to you Father God. And Father God, we just Father God want to thank you so much Father God for the blessings Father God you’ve poured out upon us Father God.” It sounds extreme, but people really do pray like this. Not that it’s bad, but when it’s intercessory, it can be distracting. Anyway, I’ve noticed that the eloquent prayers (is eloquency something we should want in prayer? Weird) are the ones that don’t have that crutch word they repeat all the time, and also they don’t use the word “just.” I don’t know if you’ve noticed this also, but I have.
I’ve been reading Kingdom of the Cults recently. I finished Life on the Edge a couple weeks ago. That chapter on Love Must Be Tough was one of the most insightful I’ve read. Anyway, I’m reading Martin’s take on Seventh-Day Adventists. It’s some of the most fascinating reading I’ve ever done. He basically concludes they’re not a cult. But he discusses how they came about and their doctrine and it’s really interesting. Especially their doctrine regarding the existence of hell (it doesn’t) and the observance of the Sabbath and the mark of the Beast. Anyway, I feel a lot better about things after reading it. About SDA, I mean. It’s a great book.
I also talked to two friends from Houston last night. For those of you who care, rejoice, because Mark Hong will in all likelihood go to Stanford Med School. Especially you girls, because he is the ideal Korean Christian man. Even more so than David Park. At any rate, this time of year is always weird for me because it is the time of year that I feel most distant from Houston. As I mentioned before, I’m not really from anywhere anymore, but I feel at home in Houston. But I’m gone so long that I feel really distant from it at times, especially during spring break time. I’m not exactly sure why that happens. Or what it is I’m talking about.
My hero is Rene Descartes. He’s the man. I don’t know if you’ve read his philosophy, but his Meditations are amazing. Especially since they are so brief. They’re really short, and really not that difficult to read, but it’s brought up a ton of issues that people still talk about today. He also invented the notion of the Cartesian plane. At any rate, the great thing about him is the place that God occupies in his worldview. Because it’s not just a coincidental part, but really fundamental in his life and in his thinking. For example, some may be aware that he presents a proof of God. But I don’t think that people remember that he doesn’t do this just for the heck of it, but it is crucial in establishing his philosophy of knowledge. In other words, God occupies a crucial part of his philosophy on life; much of what he believes comes as a necessary consequence of his belief in God. It’s weird how Philosophy CIV glosses over this and discusses before (skepticism) and after (epistemology) without recognizing that link. God. Anyway, I think he’s the man for it. Plus, I still think his proof of God is pretty profound and worthy of thought.
I also discovered that Pittsburgh ’75 is an awesome team. Their nose tackle is incredible. I recorded 10 sacks in a single game; 5 minute quarters.