Sunday, March 22, 2015

PEMDAS


I just saw one of those posts asking people to solve a relatively simple math problem. I’ve seen these on the facebook from time to time. 

In this case, the problem was this: 6-1x0+2÷2 = 
There are some correct answers (7), and some incorrect (mostly 1 or 3.5, some 5). 

Ironically, some of the people who have the wrong answer are calling other people stupid. The answer is 7 because of a thing called “order of operations”. Order of operations means that you solve certain parts of the problem before solving other parts. It’s also called “PEMDAS”, which is an acronym for the order. 


In this case, there are no parentheses, nor any exponents (like x2). So the next thing is to do the multiplying and dividing from left to right, then the adding and subtracting from left to right. 

This is basic grade school math. You’re supposed to learn it in fourth grade, or somewhere around there. But a lot of people have simply forgotten it. It’s not something that we use in our daily lives, so we forget most of it, just like a lot of stuff we learned in school. (Well, some people forget it. Some of YOU people.) 

Anyway... 
The really weird thing about these kind of math posts is that some people recognize what the correct answer actually is and why, but then they say it ought to be something else because that’s what makes more sense to them. Well, those people really need to stop that, because it’s math, and their opinion and what subjectively seems right inside their head doesn’t matter. Math has rules. Maybe it would “make more sense” to just solve the problem left to right, with no regard for the order of operation, but that’s not the rule. I didn’t make that rule. That’s just how it is. Probably the order of operations is useful when you get into more complex equations, but it also applies to simpler equations, so people who do use math won’t have to learn a different way to deal with more complex equations. 

We seem to live in a time (and culture) where people think their opinion about something like this is just as valid as anyone else’s. It’s not. Your opinion about the answer is irrelevant. It’s like saying “I think it makes more sense that our sky is yellow instead of blue, because the sun is yellow. That’s what makes sense to me.” Well, it doesn’t matter, because the sky is blue. There are complicated science-y reasons for it. 

It’s okay to not know something about math. But being ignorant doesn’t give you the right to have your own opinion that’s “just as valid” as the actual way to solve this math problem. The same is true about science and tons of other areas of study and expertise. Yes, sometimes things are up for interpretation, but a lot of it isn’t. This particular math problem isn’t. 

You can also apply this complaint of mine – that many people are adamantly certain they know what’s right because it “makes sense” to them – to our cultural attitudes about most social/political issues. In fact, I feel justified in saying this little math problem is what’s wrong with our country today.





Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Pulling Strings – my review


Last night I watched Pulling Strings.

The movie is roughly half in English and half in Spanish. I watched it on netflix. There was issue with the subtitles. (I don’t know if that would be true if you rented a DVD or watched it somewhere else online.) When you turn on the English subtitles, it only shows translated subtitles for the Spanish dialogue. Y los subtitulos españoles aparecen sólo para el diálogo Inglés.

But that wasn’t a big deal. Here’s what was a big deal: the ending.

As I watched the movie, I thought it was a nice little romantic comedy – sweet, cute, fun. I liked it. And then the ending happened. Literally, the last couple of minutes of the movie ruined it for me. What would’ve been maybe a 4 out of 5 star rating from me is now 2 stars, because of that ending.

SPOILER ALERT.

Here’s what happens:

The man hurts the woman; the man asks for forgiveness; the woman refuses and leaves the country; the man is devastated. Now if that’s the end of your movie, fine, so be it. I’m okay with that. BUT NOOO! That wasn’t the end.

Cut to "one month later" and the woman just shows up out of nowhere, and suddenly everything's okay – no questions, no explanations, no apologies, no nothing?!?! Just, happily ever after/the end?

I’m sorry, but that is not acceptable. I say no to that ending. I reject that overly simplistic, happy ending. Fuck you, movie.

While this isn’t the best movie ever made, it deserves a little more than that, more than just the woman shows up and everything is fine – no hurt feelings, no recriminations.

¡No mames, pinche película! 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

giant, side-of-the-road crosses


You know what I’m talking about, right? Giant, side-of-the-road crosses. They look like this:


They’re huge eyesores that you’ll see driving along the interstate, or highway, or maybe even local city roads. Well, there are two things I think about whenever I see these monstrosities.

First, and more important: 
If someone went around this country (The United States of America) putting up giant symbols of ANY other religion in the world, there’s a sizable chunk of the population – i.e., those extreme conservative, christian, Fox News-watching types – who would lose their fucking minds. They would, strangely, consider it an attack on their religious beliefs, to have such a thing forced upon their eyeballs. Yet, if someone suggests they take down these disturbing, giant crossbar-ed phalluses, for religious reasons or any other reason, really, those same folks would call out their right to free speech. 

And second: 
If this were just some guy putting up something this shape and size, everyone would think (though they might not say it) that the guy just has a small penis. I will let you all draw your own conclusions about the size of God’s penis.