Tag Archives: logic

The Feeling and Illusion of Progress

Progress is a great and terrible thing. Great, because it always feels good to get better at something. You put in time and effort and start getting results. Maybe you’re learning a new skill or making gains at the gym, whatever, progress is amazing. It’s unfortunate, then, that it happens in such a haphazard way.

You see, we naturally think of progress as a slope, a straight line travelling ever up and anon. That makes sense, right? You put in X number of hours, you should get X amount of benefit. It’s simple math, and math is never wrong, right?

How we think about progress.

Unfortunately, progress isn’t a straight line. Sometimes you put almost no time in at all and make huge improvements, but then things slow down and no matter how many hours you put in you don’t get anymore. Worse, sometimes it feels like you’re trending backwards, that things are getting worse.

How progress really works… more or less.

This is why progress is both great and terrible. When you are trending up, nothing feels better … and when you are not, nothing feels worse. Continue reading

The Appeal of Chess

If you are a non-chess player, you may wonder what all the fuss is about. People spend hours staring at a board, intermittently moving around small wooden pieces. There’s little talking, little movement, just a lot of staring and thinking … and smoking. For some reason, a lot of chess players smoke their brains out. My grandfather, the man who taught me chess, seemingly could not play without a cigarette between his fingers. It also made him look rather formidable, what with the constant stream of smoke blowing from his nose.

The legendary Mikhail Tal also smoked non-stop.

If you’ve never played chess, everything I’m about to say will seem strange. Nonetheless, I will try to illustrate the magic of chess, of how it ensnares an unfortunately few and refuses to let them go. Many people play chess, often just as a fun pasttime, but a select few become well and truly obsessed. Continue reading

The Trials of Having a Shower

I had a shower today, as I do most days. Not every day, no. Not every day requires a shower. I know some people bristle at this. These people are generally germophobes. The difference between being 97% clean and 100% clean is virtually zero. Okay, technically it is 3%, but most people don’t go crazy over 3% of anything. If you saw Black Friday sale with 3% off, you wouldn’t even notice, except perhaps how terrible it is.

Doesn’t have the same ring as the 1%.

Did you know if you touch a pile of bacteria, wash your hand and then touch that same pile again, you will have more bacteria on your hand the second time? That’s right. When you wash your hands, your move all the bacteria, good and bad, from your hand, so when you touch the original pile of bacteria again, you have more room for the bacteria to cling to. Continue reading

Thinking About Videogames

I mentioned in a previous post how I like to play video games. This is both true and not true. Give me a choice between any two random activities, if one of those activities were video games I’d probably pick that. At the same time, I play far fewer games than I used to. I remember one weekend when I was about eight. I rented perhaps my favourite game, the NES classic Blades of Steel. I think I played it every waking moment of my Saturday and most of my Sunday. I played it so much my thumbs started hurting from the terrible ergonomics of the NES controller.

Can you design something more uncomfortable? It’s a rectangle.

The situation was a tad extreme but not out of the ordinary. Video games were my go-to activity if I had nothing else to do. When I came home from school, I completed my homework and then played video games. Well, that’s a lie. I never did homework. I did the important assignments and projects, but I never did the day-to-day homework. Didn’t think I needed to. My report cards often mentioned this, how my homework completion could be better, but they didn’t complain too much because I always aced the tests. Continue reading

The Ideal Person: The Mental Side

The other day I made a post discussing a hypothetical ideal person. When discussing what an ideal person could be physically, it was easy. They should be strong, fast, mobile and healthy. There isn’t much else we can say about that topic. When it comes to our mental side, our intelligence, things become a bit harder.

Obviously an ideal person should be smart, but that’s a pretty vague word. Think of a doctor, a lawyer, a scientist, a CEO of a company. All four of these people are smart, but they are smart in very different ways. I don’t just mean the content of their knowledge. Obviously each has a different professional skillset, but they all actually think differently. Think of the difference between being book-smart and street-smart. If you imagine that difference as a continuum, each profession, indeed likely every person, would fall somewhere inbetween the two extremes.

Cats can be smart, too. Image taken from chickensmoothie.com

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Chess Bio VIII: Returning to Chess, Thanks to Modal Logic

From September 2006 to June 2011, I studied Philosophy at York university.  Though I specialized in ancient philosophy, I took every philosophy course I could, from epistemology to rationalism to Hegel to Wittgenstein, everything.  My best and worst choice was picking up logic.  For those who don’t know, studying logic is very similar to math but without numbers.  In mathematics you can play with equations, rearrange them, try to isolate variables, collect like terms and so on.  Logic, at least in feel, is very similar.  I quickly got good at solving proofs, and I used logic classes to boost my GPA in a very easy way.

Honestly, I found this really easy.

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