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Systems and scope   
01:14am 13/06/2010
  I was reading a blog entry about narrowness, which waxed rather poetic about the similarity of poetry and science in that the most meaningful study is of minutiae. Though not in so many words, it argued that depth can be more important than scope. Saying that everything is connected is less meaningful than how some specific things are connected, and how they are different from another group of things. One of the commenters said that there was something to the "everything is connected" idea because all the statistical problems he works on are connected. This is evidence of quite the opposite. "Everything is connected" tells him nothing meaningful about his problems. His individual problems, however, after in depth study, can be pieced together as part of a larger system. Thus, meaning is derived from the narrow and the small.

A perfect example of this is the Linnaean classification system. One could fairly easily talk about the large things. We start with living things, and then we have differentiations between animals, plants, fungi, etc. However, the system was built from the bottom up. It didn't start by someone starting with the whole picture and cutting it up into smaller and smaller bits, it started with random puzzle pieces and slowly got fitted together into a coherent whole. The Linnaean system would never have come about without detailed study about vast numbers of living things. First you discover that a squirrel has lungs and a spine and fur and warm blood, then you find that a dog does too. Then you find that a lizard has lungs and a spine, but cold blood and scales, and then you find that a fish has cold blood and scales and a spine but no lungs, and an ant has none of these.

To say that everything is connected is to draw a big rectangle. It may be the general shape, but it's not much to look at until you put together some puzzle pieces.
06:42pm 03/10/2006
  I am bored. Really, really bored. I need to learn how to amuse myself (in the best of all worlds, my work would amuse me) but all my amusements are at Rachael's (Rachael in particular) and she needs to study. So do I, for that matter, but actually doing work is a wee bit beyond me at the moment. I think I'm going to go raid my roommate's monty python stash. That would amuse me. I just wish the cast would trot over from England with their coconuts and do my work for me.  
04:59pm 03/10/2006
  I hate work. It marches over and bangs on my head and makes me not want to do it.  
The Great Food War   
12:33pm 11/07/2006
mood: hungry
Welcome to the battle of the croissant. The cheese-filled croissant, the yummy kind. My mother buys five for the four of us, the four of us including my sixteen-year-old bottomless-pit brother. I had been desperately hoping she'd forget them so that after they went out of town this afternoon I could split them evenly with my brother, but no. It never works that way. Luckily my father only wants one, but of course he has to have the only one of my favorite flavor (If I'd said something, he would certainly have given it to me, wouldn't have even complained about it, but I would never have heard the end from my mother). She actually let me have one and a half (though the half was an experimental flavor) but, as though making up for being generous in the serving, she proceeded to criticise my eating. I'm sorry, filled croissants just taste better if you eat some of the delicious croissant part first and then the rest with the filling. Does anyone have a person-sized bubble made of funhouse glass that I can live in and look skinny for the rest of my life?
09:12pm 08/07/2006
  Well, I guess I didn't get obsessed as I haven't posted since I created this thing. I'm all sad because Rachael's gone home after having her here for a week and I miss her rediculously even though she's only been gone two hours and I need to talk but there's no one to talk to and I'm babbling again. Fighting destructive impulses and wishing she'd get on the next plane back. I'm worried I won't see her the rest of the summer.  
02:45pm 30/04/2006
  I can feel this becoming yet another obsession. It's all my roommate's fault for telling me about the anonymous thread. At least it's a more productive obsession than some. I wish my girlfriend would come give me a hug right now but I told her I had work to do, which was the absolute truth because I do, so why am I posting to LJ instead of doing it? I wonder if anyone will actually find me on here if I don't tell them. I almost hope not. Maybe then I can write honestly.