Saturday, November 03, 2007

Complain with Caution

The other night on the phone with a good friend in Albuquerque, I vented my objections regarding my econometrics course and the requirement to do all of these ridiculous matrix manipulations and abstract calculations by hand. The course is a pain, I asserted. We have computers for this sort of thing.

Sure enough, the next day, the professor walks in smiling, "I imagine some of you are weary of all the calculations, derivations, and proofs we've gone through, but it's important to a genuine understanding the matrices involved."

He then adds, "For next week, we'll let computers do the work. The computers on the fourth floor have SAS installed. For next week, write a SAS program to perform the following analysis."


When I was complaining about having to do all this stuff by hand, writing and running code in the ultra friendly, intuitive, and easy to learn SAS environment was not exactly the solution I had in mind.

The professor has a Web site for homework, an application he wrote himself. I asked him what language he used. He said, "Perl."

Perl?! He chose to write an application in Perl?

Human beings write programs in C, C++, or if they're really lucky, Java. Java rules. Those unfortunate enough (poor Stacy) get sucked into that .NET stuff.

I kid the reader not. This is Perl:

@P=split//,".URRUU\c8R";@d=split//,"\nrekcah xinU / lreP rehtona tsuJ";sub p{
($p{$_})&6];$p{$_}=/ ^$P/ix?$P:close$_}keys%p}p;p;p;p;p;map{$p{$_}=~/^[P.]/&&
close$_}%p;wait until$?;map{/^r/&&<$_>}%p;$_=$d[$q];sleep rand(2)if/\S/;print

The people who write in Perl are not homo sapiens. They are a different species entirely, perlillious maxochistimus excruciatus.

I am taking a course from one of these creatures.


Anonymous the doctor said...

Is there anything you don't know about?

11/03/2007 11:39 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...


You’re kidding, right?

What I don’t know is legion. Where to begin?

There’s cooking, gardening, half the sports people do in the Olympics, tea, pastries, poetry, country music (except that it’s awful), how anyone can watch Price is Right or Family Feud, how anyone could ever imagine Price is Right or Family Feud, how anyone could get a network to air Price is Right or Family Feud, dancing, the ice capades, parades, rodeo, opera, soap opera (except Dark Shadows), anything on television except for news, some sports, the history channel, and movies, hair styles or anything fashion or fashionable, text messaging, anything starting with a little i followed by a capital letter (iPod, iTune, iPhone, iTV, iWhatever), proper Facebook protocol, Britney Spears, wrestling (with another guy?), those wacko fights in cages, those wacko trucks that drive over cars, Nascar (I don’t get it at all), super expensive wine, super expensive clothes, super expensive cars, super expensive furniture, actually,

Anything super expensive. Oh, wait. I do know a fair amount about super expensive universities.

I don’t know a thing about carpentry or how to do anything to a car made after 1980. I don’t get Feng Shui at all nor do I have a clue about interior design or how a person can make a living telling people where to put a couch, nor do I get proper color coordination of clothes. Back in the suit days, I just had the Men’s Wearhouse guy create three categories of color with the guarantee that any group combo, regardless of what I picked, was good. I don’t get a sock color other than black (suit) or white (everything else). I don’t understand tattoes and really, really don’t get the piercing thing (don’t even, Navigator). I have no clue why a certain collection of young guys wear their pants around their knees, and sorry, I don’t get skateboards and all the wacky stuff those guys have figured out how to do with skateboards.

When it is time to go somewhere, I just go. However, most women I know must do something for at least an hour before they go somewhere. I have no clue what takes an hour. When I had the wife and two daughters, it took two hours to leave the house. I don’t get it.

That’s just scratching the surface of the surface of the stuff I know I don’t know. An infinitely larger know-a-verse exists of stuff I don’t know that I don’t know.

11/03/2007 12:32 PM  
Anonymous The Navigator said...

doctor, x4mr is a geek. His knowing about such things is not surprising.

x4mr, it would behoove you to never mention body piercings again at this site. I am still scheming how to exact my revenge.

By the way, your comment here is worthy of being posted as a main entry. Very entertaining.

11/03/2007 5:03 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

I primarily work with Java these days, but ultimately any programming language is simply a tool. A loops is a loop, a conditional statement is a conditional statement, etc. The logic is the same, the syntax changes.

For what it primarily intended for, Perl excels ... and Perl doesn't HAVE to look like the example you give, it's just some Perl developers take great joy in intentionally writing code which is hard for any who didn't write the code to understand.

I hate calculating matrices. About ten years ago I had to write some AI routines which involved Latent Semantic Analysis, and had to calculate a number of examples by hand to verify the logic worked correctly.

That sucked. Glad you are the one having to do such things now, and not I.

11/05/2007 8:11 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...


A very interesting link. I have no idea who invented the matrix, but we should dig up the SOB's body and torture it.

11/05/2007 9:04 AM  

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