So last night I had a dream about C++. Our professor had changed our final exam to a final essay/report. I got the brilliant idea to create a program to write my paper for me. So that’s what I did, and I turned the paper in with total confidence that I’d get an A. Then I got it back and got like a 20% because I forgot to write my program to print the citations for all the sources I used in the paper. Cue total panic mode.
Hooray dream-induced panic attacks!
Haha, the Harlem Shake is actually kind of hilarious.
Here’s Western Ontario with their classy rockin’ (I’ve been in that hallway!)
That guy in the bottom left corner with the big finger, hahaha.
And then there’s UI.
As I said on Facebook, random large sums of money appearing in one’s checking account are awesome, except when one does not know the origin of said random large sums.
Yeah, I decided to randomly check my RBC account up in Canada (I’d left exactly $2.90 in there just to keep the account open until tax time) and discovered that that amount had been supplemented an additional $1,900 or so. The record says the money came from UWO, but that’s all the more info I can get.
It was deposited at the end of November; I think I’ll wait until the first of the year to see if another deposit is made at the end of this month and if so, I guess I’ll email somebody there and ask what’s going on. It might all be an error, who knows.
But that would be pretty freaking sweet if it weren’t.
There are some good paying jobs down here that I qualify for, but until I’m hired somewhere, money = nonexistent.
And I want that DNA test thingy; it was supposed to be my present to myself for finishing my Master’s but I never ordered it ‘cause shipping to Canada was like $50 extra.
So we’ll see!
So my first week of Grad School: Take II has passed. I’m taking three classes and TA-ing an undergrad course. REVIEWS!
PHIL 9276: Philosophical Foundations of Modern Physics
Word for word on the syllabus: “Week 2: Newton vs. Leibniz.”
PHIL 9606: Hume and Reid on Mental Representation
Next to the veritable demigod that is Leibniz, Hume is my favorite philosopher. I really like the way he tackled he idea of causality and how simply observing a “cause” action and then an “effect” action doesn’t necessarily guarantee that the cause actually CAUSED the effect.
Anyway, this class will involve reading a metric crap ton of Hume plus many of his critics, including Reid.
PHIL 9889: Environmental Philosophy
This is going to be a near exact repeat of my philosophy senior seminar at UI. Which I’m okay with, ’cause it was interesting stuff.
PHIL 2020: Basic Logic (TA)
Yay, logic! This is an undergrad class full of non-philosophy majors and is taught by a PhD student. Once we get to PhD level we’re allowed to actually teach classes; at the MA level we’re just graders/office-hour-holders. I’m hoping that since I’m TA-ing logic for both semesters now that I’ll be able to ask them to actually let me teach it next year, ‘cause I think it would probably be one of the better classes for me to teach given my background.
CRAP I hate applying for funding. For the Ontario Graduate Scholarship, we basically have to write a proposal detailing our research focus for the next four years (PhD). The problem is, we’re not even supposed to pick an area of emphasis until this coming April. But it’s a good thing, I think. It’s forcing me to actually think about exactly what I want to do with my philosophy degree.
What I’m really interested in, thanks to my thesis work, are the philosophical ramifications of assessing model fit, particularly in structural equation modeling (‘cause it’s what I’m most familiar with now), but also in things like factor analysis and regression. What are the best methods to determine appropriate model fit? Should a fit index show better fit for a model with two factors when the factors are nearly orthogonal but the observable variables are all somewhat equally correlated, or should a fit index show better fit for a model with two factors that are more closely correlated but whose observable variables are more correlationally (is that a word?) separated between the two factors? What components of a model should weigh most heavily when determining model fit? Is there an “ideal” index in that sense?
It might sound weird or obscure or pedantic or whatever, but it’s interesting to me. And I think it’s very important that we start looking at the philosophical side of statistics now that we’ve got the software to run mega simulations and Monte Carlos and number orgies and sexy graphs and…
I don’t know how many of you guys follow Piled Higher and Deeper, a comic by Jorge Cham that is the most accurate portrayal of graduate life I’ve ever seen*, but they’re making a live-action movie of it and it’s screening here at UWO on the 23rd.
How freaking cool is that?!
Also, I’m TA-ing PHIL 2020, Basic Logic, class this semester, which is pretty snazzy considering we have to pass a logic competencey exam in our first year of PhD and this will do for a good refresher. Shout-out to Dr. O’Rourke for being an amazing teacher and making logic accessible to me, someone who had no intuitive grasp of proofs prior to the course.
I walked around campus a bit more this afternoon and got some pics. Then I walked south, though not far enough to get to downtown, and captured a few more pics. Observe London and UWO! Clicky for large size.
Here are the classes I’m probably going to take at Western this semester and next. The MA is only a year-long thing there, so at the end of next summer I’ll be done with that and going onto the PhD, assuming everything goes well. For the MA, we need to take six half-courses in total.
Here are the ones I’m wanting:
Philosophy 9276A: Philosophical Foundations of Modern Physics
“This seminar will examine the background to contemporary physics, particularly emphasizing two aspects: the philosophical views of space, time, and matter that were part of classical physics, and the views of the nature of scientific theory in general– in particular, of the roles of theory and experience, and the relations between mathematical structure and physical reality– that informed, and were informed by, developments in physics. Authors to be discussed include Newton, Leibniz, Euler, Kant, Helmholtz, Maxwell, Duhem, Mach, Poincaré, Einstein, Heisenberg, Schlick, Carnap, and others.”
Philosophy 9606A: Hume and Reid on Mental Representation
“This course will focus on Hume’s and Reid’s contrasting accounts of the foundations of knowledge and the workings of the mind.”
Philosophy 4993F/9889A: Environmental Philosophy
“This course in environmental philosophy explores some ethical and epistemological issues that arise in the contexts of conservation and restoration ecology. We commonly ear that we ought to preserve biodiversity. What are the moral justifications for such a widely accepted normative claim? Finally, this course will also look into the issue of unpredictability. Scientific and applied ecology were for a long time deeply influenced by an equilibrium paradigm in which nature was conceived of as balanced and predictable. But in the 1970s, ecologists started challenged this view and now endorse what some call a “non-equilibrium” view of nature. We will reflect on this new ecology and how it can affect the way in which policy makers and ecologists approach ecological management.”
Philosophy 9277B: Philosophy of Probability
“This course is an introduction to philosophical issues connected with probability. Emphasis will be on the strengths and limitations of a probabilistic approach to confirmation in science. Topics will include interpretations of probability, Bayesian reasoning and its relation to classical statistical inference, how to understand conditional probability, and application of probabilistic reasoning to case studies in science.”
Philosophy 9279B: Science and Values
“This seminar considers the roles of values in science from four angles: (1) Values in scientific epistemology: heuristics and pragmatics; (2) Whose science is it?: authority, governance and ownership in science; (3) Scientific communication and moral life: trust, testimony, and obligation; (4) Choices: goals, risks, and the aims of science.”
Philosophy 9608B: Consciousness
“We will consider several philosophical theories of consciousness, including the HOT theory, AIR theory, multiple drafts, and dual aspect theory. We will also consider the role of science in explaining consciousness.”
I can’t freaking wait for Western Ontario, dudes. The fact that there’s a whole class on the philosophy of probability is amaaaaaaazing.
Other things I’m excited about:
– getting back into a music class/program/band/something.
– moving back into a dorm. I know that sounds dorky, but I’ll have wireless back and not have an hour-long commute to campus.
– not being in Vancouver.
– not having a soul-crushing depression hanging over every second of my existence. Hopefully.
– getting away from the West Coast.
– cheaper EVERYTHING.
– getting paid to talk about/think about/write about/dink around with the philosophy of science.
– reading through the Philosophy of Science Comprehensive Exam study guide, which includes Kuhn, Popper, Curd & Cover’s anthology, and like 50 other sexy texts.
– possibly owning a car.
So I’ve made my decisions.
Thesis defense will, if everything works out, occur sometime in May (the earlier in the month, the better).
I will then be done with my program here and have decided to move east to London, Ontario to pursue a PhD in philosophy (particularly the philosophy of science, more particularly the philosophy of statistics) at the University of Western Ontario.
Yup. Finally getting off the west coast.
The fantastic road trip across the continental US will occur sometime in August, for which my mom and I shall rent a van and drive the suggested Google Earth route, which involves passing through as many states as possible:
It will be wicked.
Here are some fun facts about London, Ontario:
– It sits on the Thames River. Not kidding.
– Population of approximately 350,000 people.
– Halfway between Toronto and Detroit.
– More southern than Boise.
– Affected by thunderstorms more than any other city in Canada (AWESOME).
– Home to the most technologically advanced Kellogg’s plant in Canada.
– Not Vancouver, and therefore not a rainy hellhole.
And a few fun facts about the University of Western Ontario:
– 20,500 undergrads, 4,500 grads.
– Ranked 164th university in the world (UBC is 44th).
– The philosophy of science program is ranked as a second tier program according to Philosophical Gourmet.
– Second largest philosophy department in Canada (largest is University of Toronto).
Dear University of Western Ontario,
You are a creepy hybrid and I think I’m in love with you.
Seriously, both the campus and town are some sort of freakish, almost impossible combination of Moscow/UI and Vancouver/UBC.
I like it here. The bus system seems reasonable, it’s not raining, people actually have their own senses of style instead of all wearing the same coat, the same boots, and the same scarves, and…oh yeah: THE PHILOSOPHY DEPARTMENT FREAKING RULES.
It’s the second largest in Canada and has a tier 2 ranking for philosophy of science (which is pretty awesome, considering there is only one school in tier 1). There’s also a special institute called the Rotman Institute of Philosophy to which you can apply and get a special office in a separate part of the building with a bunch of other phil of sci dorks. How awesome is that?!
- It’s not raining.
- The rec center. Holy crap, it’s amazing.
- You can RENT AN OFFICE IN THE LIBRARY. Your own library home. Holy Jesus crackers.
- Prices! They’re reasonable!
- There’s a Pita Pit here. There’s one in Vancouver, too, but it’s downtown and too far to go for sexy pitas.
- It’s not raining.
- The local stations seem to really like Futurama.
- You’re encouraged to take classes outside of the phil department if they apply to you.
- They have a marching band!
- The layout of the grad student housing rooms is almost identical to the layout of my apartment here.
- Did I mention it’s not raining?
It was a good day.
It looks like it can be a good future.