Last exam

Yesterday I had my last exam in this term, in a course called “Natural Language Interfaces”, which is just computational linguistics in disguise. Truth to be told, the course was not that hard and the hardest part in the exam was to keep writing despite the pain in my right hand and muscle fever in my arms. I would prefer to take this kind of exam orally, anyway, since the questions offered a lot of room to talk about. For example, one task asked me to describe a language that is convenient from a computational linguists’ perspective. I got creative and wrote that it would be nice if a language would have

  • an LR(k) grammar, or at least a context free one
  • no pronouns, but explicit variable assignment

which is very unlikely for a human language, but still, a nice feature 🙂

Bonus photo: A swan figure in a totally unexpected place

And afterwards I made a mistake and went again to a club where the student association was inviting to. Going to (mainstream) clubs here means

  • getting hit in the liver by some over-the-top partying people
  • walking on shattered glass
  • watching improbably drunk people trying to keep their balance
  • being always there where everyone tries to get through
  • dancing to music that is only okay after two beers which you cannot afford to drink

So yeah, great fun. But I still managed to extract some profit out of the whole thing and made a picture:

Sunrise, 2:40 in the morning

 (Sorry for the probably lousy quality, this was just my phone’s camera. I am not carrying my real camera everywhere with me)

Philosophy ahead, brace yourself!

At some point in the past, I have discovered a wonderful, fully general argument against (some kinds of) biological research. The argument goes like this: “People should not be allowed to play God”. This sounds great, looks great and gives you an awesome +10 bonus to wisdom. But what does that mean?

This sentence implies that there are matters puny humans are not allowed to investigate, because meddling with them means a lot of responsibility nobody can be trusted with and is beyond the boundary of the socially acceptable. But that sounds patronizing and cold, right? And it opens the road to uneasy questions like “Where is the line?” that disrupt the generality of your shiny argument; note that in the “playing God” wording the decision is (implied to be) deferred to God. This sentence carries all the premises from Christianity: that the world has been purposefully created by a deity, that humans are no deities, and that humans are (unlike deities) not responsible.

I shall not discuss whether deities exist; in this context, this is mostly moot. The real problem here is that constructive arguments (like the lack of responsibility/control and what one can do about it) are replaced by irrational, faith-like constructs. Which is not okay since the discussion is about mundane, scientific things and has to be conducted via rational arguments and not via media campaigning and fast-food philosophy.

The subtle difference…

…between superiority and arrogance can be seen in the following sentences appearing as author notes of an otherwise well-written piece of fiction:

Before anyone asks, yes, we’re polyamorous – I am in long-term relationships with three women, all of whom are involved with more than one guy.  Apologies in advance to any 19th-century old fogies who are offended by our more advanced culture.

Either my version of the social protocol is too much continental or it is really not okay to establish yourself at the cost of those fellas that are wired otherwise. I fully understand that there are no rational reasons to force yourself to have exactly one partner, but in my life, there is no place for a whole social network raising my children. Before anyone asks, yes, I have the wish to reproduce somewhere in the future. Apologies in advance to any hipsters who are offended by my speciecism.