January 16, 2014essayintrospection

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"On Valencia Street, I look out the window at the hipsters on their fixed-speed bikes. The tight clothes, the tiny hats -- their major struggle as a generation seems to be reducing drag. As if success in life requires being ever ready to slip through a narrow opening."
--Scott Hutchins, "A Working Theory of Love". Cool quote, though I'm a little mixed on hipsters as a term these days.
http://kottke.org/14/01/the-sum-of-all-positive-integers Good lord. 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + .... ends up equalling -(1/12). If you ever wanted to make a philosophical argument that math doesn't describe our world, start here.
Thoughts I've been having lately:

My mom and I were corresponding about an old vacation video I had recently unearthed, and when I talked about my discomfort at being such a graceless, attention-seeking adolescent, my mom wrote:
I so wish you could be more understanding of your adolescent self. That's the real key....you were an adolescent and your actions then belong to that stage of development. You've grown into maturity with so so many positive attributes that were somehow cooked together from those years. Plus, you've carried into adulthood a lot of the creativity and risk taking that many adults leave behind.

I've been thinking a lot about my "creativity and risk taking". In most ways, I'm not much of a risk taker, because I live in this weird fear of being held account to some authority, sometime, somewhere, some voice that will point out "YOU CHOSE POORLY AND NOW THINGS ARE BAD AND YOU SHOULD FEEL BAD". So, I don't proactively choose much. And I don't judge much, or at least not casually, because then I'd be responsible for an opinion that could turn out to be wrong. I guess to the extent I seem like a risk taker, it's in not really caring if I got put into certain categories by other people... I've always had more interesting things to worry about than if I was a dork, that battle was probably already fought and lost. (Or won.)

There's that (often misattributed) quote by Marianne Williamson "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." that I've been mulling around. The thing is, on an abstract, intellectual level, I know some things are impossible. You can take the series 1 + 1/2 + 1/4 + 1/8 +.... for as long as you want, even forever, and you will never ever get to 3. The AI research Marvin Minsky mathematically proved (citation needed, couldn't find a good reference) that a type of neural network some other folks were working on would never, ever be able to differentiate certain types of visual patterns.

So how important is the impossibility of things to real life? Should I try to just label it a meaningless, abstract theoretical? Do I use the concept as too much of an excuse to continue my life's pattern of being a local optimizer, preferring to build in small steps rather than make grand sweeping changes?
relevant cartoon from http://tumblr.tastefullyoffensive.com/post/73422091488