Saturday, October 29, 2011

Probably not what the lecturer intended me to learn from that lesson...

In Linguistics we have been studying how language changes. Something interesting about English, Modern English at least, is the fact that we only have one form of the second person pronoun, the word you. Most other languages have a separate term for plural, and possibly even a different word when showing respect.

English used to have these forms: thee, thou, and thy were singular forms, and ye, you and your were the plural forms. The plural forms were used to show respect. When addressing a superior one would use you and that person would respond using thou. The use of thou also showed familiarity; one would use thou when speaking to family members, but use you when addressing strangers.

Because of major social changes (urbanisation, the rise of the Middle Class) people didn't know who was who anymore. They couldn't tell who to be polite to, so they were just polite to everyone, using the plural form in all contexts. It then became standard to refer to all strangers as you, whatever the hierarchy. Eventually, we lost the familiar thou altogether.

Thou does still exist, in religious contexts. The reason for this is interesting. We think that thee and thou show respect, when in fact they were originally used to show familiarity; these words were used when referring to God because God is our father. Now we hear thou used in some older versions of the Bible and we think it is because when speaking to God we ought to show respect. It just shows how we keeping distancing ourselves from God. It's the same with the word abba. We know that abba means "father", but (I don't know about you) when I say abba I (used to at least) put that same sort of respectful distance into the word. Remember that song that goes: "You are awesome in this place, Mighty God. You are awesome in this place, Abba Father..."? In fact, abba is the Hebrew equivalent of daddy.

We think we ought to be proper and perfect, call him sir and never step a foot out of line, when all God really wants is to be our dad. He wants us to call him daddy, to know him well enough to use thou. To run into his arms full of dirt and grass-stains and tear-filled eyes and tell him we fell down again, even though he has told us a million times not to run so fast. To bring him all our failures and mess-ups and let him kiss them better. To not be afraid to come to him before we are perfect, and trust him to love us completely despite the dirt and the brokenness.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Playing with Putty

Adventure doesn't feel like adventure when you're in it. It's hard, it's tough, you have to make decisions and trudge through drudgery. Adventure involves long journeys to walk and bigger-than-you monsters to fight. I've been too busy slaying dragons to notice any reason to be excited about this whole Life thing.

But it's 4am - there must be something exciting enough to keep my awake at this hour (besides the coffee).

It has been quite a day. I approached this weekend with much trepidation, and in explanation as to why I will list for you some reasons. First of all I have three things due for Monday - one being a big maths project which I couldn't wrap my head around until today, an English research essay due for Wednesday which is my entire English mark for this semester, a maths test on Thursday, and work stuff for Friday. Besides all the usual hand-ins.
I postponed the essay, and the other later stuff is chilled, which leaves the three most stressful things for Monday, and they are:
A Matlab project I thought was an Insurmountable Mountain of Horror, but is actually Not That.
A Matlab tut to hand in.
A pre-interview test for a position I applied for for next year, and the thing I want to talk about now.

I applied for the geekiest job on earth. And possibly the most daunting: System Administrator. Basically, looking after the Rhodes network (all the connections and servers and mail systems and everything). In true geek style, we aren't getting interviewed for this job (well possibly, but that comes later). Instead we've been given A Task. It looks like this:


A nice little system which is running FreeBSD which I've never used in my life, and I now have to install Apache, mailman, Postfix, etc etc before the end of Sunday (meaning midnight). Fun things. What makes life amazing is that Rhodes uses a proxy. That just makes connecting to the internet (and installing things via internet) Pretty Tough.

(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, then you're basically on the same page as me).

So why did I apply for this job again? Not because I know anything. I applied because I really want to learn. I do have some idea of what these things are all about, but I want practical knowledge of it. And I'm gaining that just by doing this task. Google is my friend, yo! Except that nothing seems to work...

Yeah. I should probably get back to it. It's almost 5am now - that means it's already Sunday and I still don't know what I'm doing wrong. I also still have to finish my project, and maths tut, and hopefully sleep at some point too. Or maybe just drink more coffee coffee coffee..

Saturday, October 1, 2011

What I've learned from Numerical Analysis (and other parts of maths):

I want a formula to solve everything. But what I'm supposed to be learning is a process.

At lower levels, memorising formulae is all you need to do. Later on in life, however, things get a bit more complicated. All you are given is a general method, and you have to adapt it for specific situations.

I miss that magical feeling of plugging in a formula someone else discovered and Hey presto! Right answers where you need them.
But magic is hard to find in the real world.

And sometimes you have to be the one to discover the formula.