9 March 2008

Welcome to my first blog

I am opinionated. This means I am alive. Everyone should be so. I've been thinking, for a while, instead of trying to smuggle things into my professional webpage, I should create a blog. I never tried to.

I admit I got inspired by Jeffrey Shallit's `Recursivity' blog.
No he doesn't know it, but that's the beauty of the Internet: finding
one another out and copying from one another. So, I thought, if he
can do it, then why not me? And I did. Here is my first attempt then.

So, please go ahead and leave a comment.

Disturbing realities at the dawn of the 21st century

The middle ages have supposedly gone by. Enlightenment has supposedly showed us that we can use reason to understand ourselves, the world, the nature, the mind; that we could (and should) go back to the origins of the so-called Western Civilization and resurrect what was lost for more than a thousand years.

Yet, a few unexpected things have recently happened and, despite their dissimilarities, they seem to be closely connected, pointing towards a grim future, unless.... unless we act, we remind ourselves of the principles that, only twenty years ago, we would take for granted. I'm referring to Science, to Reason, to Education, to our right to question authority, to Democracy, to Free Thought, Free Speech...

The unexpected things were
  1. Resurgence of religious fundamentalism
  2. Degrading of education at all levels and in many parts of the world
  3. Establishment of new ideals that young people should aspire for, mostly related to business concepts
  4. New types of wars
I think that there are deep relations between them. Religious hysteria drives people back to a dark era. Education is, in many countries and many institutions, a commodity that is being traded at a given monetary price. Business is considered an ideal for many young people who will try to fill their CVs with buzzwords (team player, leadership, etc.), everywhere, from America to China. Wars are glorified invasions, intrusions, violations, murders of innocent civilians. People go around with pre-conceived ideas about what other people are like, and do not see them as human beings. Meanwhile, new pseudo-sciences are being promoted, even at a State level (e.g. Creationism or Intelligent Design, started in the U.S., and, already, in Europe, for the latter merely follows the former with a time lag, thanks to the enlightened politicians who will not (cannot) copy the good things that come out of America but, merely, the idiocies).

Supposedly, technology (e.g. transportation, communication), and especially the Internet, has brought people closer to one another. But has it?

Most people I come across to, could not care less.
They are happy to watch the rugby game, drink beer, do their job while keeping a boss happy, never ask questions, never read history but only have a vague idea of what happened when, never think about anything except, possibly, in a very myopic manner, accept lies if they are convenient for them, be afraid to express their opinion, be very afraid to speak, be very very afraid to speak freely... Fear, that's what I see, a hidden fear being slowly instilled within many individuals. Indeed, things seem, at a surface level, more progressive than in times past, but are they so? Or is it, merely, an institutionalized political correctness that drives us?

What should we do to stop getting back to a Dark Age?


What measure theory is about

It's about counting, but when things get too large.
Put otherwise, it's about addition of positive numbers, but when these numbers are far too many.

The principle of dynamic programming

max_{x,y} [f(x) + g(x,y)] = max_x [f(x) + max_y g(x,y)]

The bottom line

Nuestras horas son minutos cuando esperamos saber y siglos cuando sabemos lo que se puede aprender.
(Our hours are minutes when we wait to learn and centuries when we know what is to be learnt.) --António Machado

Αγεωμέτρητος μηδείς εισίτω.
(Those who do not know geometry may not enter.) --Plato

Sapere Aude! Habe Muth, dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen!
(Dare to know! Have courage to use your own reason!) --Kant