Monday, April 28, 2014

Learning 3 languages in a Month: Day 2 Japanese

My original plan to use articles from the BBC has actually failed in a way. This is because, despite how many languages the BBC website has, it does not have Japanese nor Italian. As a result, I'm having to look for articles from other sources.

Japanese will be a great deal more difficult for me than Spanish given my lack of exposure to it. I can understand a few phrases here and there thanks to watching several Studio Ghibli films with the subtitles on. However, reading it is an entirely different story, and I imagine learning the language (I'm going to be focusing on the phonetic portion of the language) will be VERY challenging. Unlike the languages with a latin root, I won't be able to rely on my knowledge of the roman alphabet.

So in order to be able to read it, I would also have to learn a whole new alphabet.

Following the advice of a native speaker, I began by learning Hiragana, part of the phonetic alphabet of Japanese. t is a sister form to Katakana.

 How Hiragana works

Having the "Hiragana base characters" helped me understand how it was structured.
  • The column determines the first syllable- with the phi-symbol denoting a lack of first syllable
  • The row determines the second syllable. They are basically vowels.
  • Example:  The sound of "Na" would be な. While the sound of "Ni" would be に. Together the sound "Nani" is written as
    なに (which means "what" in Japanese).

I have a bit of a monumental task, as in order to read Japanese, i'll have to not only be able to recognize a whole new alphabet, but also have to learn how it is spoken.

In order to memorize the alphabet, My plan is to begin by recognizing the available sounds: a, i, e, u, o. And the modifiers, k, s, t, n, h, m, y, r, w, and the rest. From there, i'll have to simply grind it out.

I'll probably try to utilize a sort of mnemonic visualization technique to better retain the symbol's appearance. But i'm still uncertain of which one at this point; I'll experiment.


I've fully memorized the 46 Hiragana characters, though I can't really recommend my method, as it did take about 5 hours to perform.

Essentially I tackled the Hiragana 5 one row at a time. I had a few steps I considered with every set though
  1. I always began by writing out each 5 characters
  2. I looked at each character and tried to associate the sound it made with something. For instance the symbol for the sound "a" reminded me a bit of an @ symbol. As such, in my mind I would associate the two ideas, which would help me recall it later on.
  3. I tried to take note of general patterns that occurred. For example, how "Ru" and "Ro" look very similar, and how "ki", "sa", and "chi" were similar. As well as "ke", "ha" and "ho". 
  4. After finishing a new group of five, I would review the past sets that I already learned in order to practice and cement it in my head.
  5. I also tried to make words and phrases when I could, writing out "Mu Sa Shi", or "Wa Ta Shi", "Su Ki Ya Ki" and "Ko Ni Chi Wa". The use of these helped me recall how the hiragana were written more than I expected the to.
  6. I reviewed using flash cards- I would display the sounds and then write out the character, essentially training myself to be able to write on command.

Next Step: Grammar

I plan to use a similar method that I am employing for Spanish.
    Read more →

    Friday, April 25, 2014

    League Comprehensive History: How good is CJ Frost right now?


    If you've followed League of Legends and its professional scene, its hard not be aware of CJ Frost. The team, along with its sister team CJ Blaze, has a history of being one of the oldest and most prestigious League of Legends teams in the Korean scene of OGN. For those in the west, you probably remember them for taking 2nd in the second World Championships after losing to TPA.

    The Old Kings

    In Korea, CJ Frost are essentially one of the most popular teams in Korea along with SKT T1 K. They are essentially perceived as the "Old Kings", a team who has performed consistently well in the competitive scene since its creation. They won the first OGN (back when they were known as MiG Frost), and have historically placed highly in the brackets (only since OGN Winter 2013 have they fallen below 4th place); Up until a few seasons ago, there was not a single final without a CJ team-Blaze or Frost were always in the finals.

    Left to Right: Shy, Rapidstar, Madlife, Woong, Cloudtemplar

    The most popular line up of Frost consisted of:
    • Top-Shy
    • Jungle-Cloudtemplar
    • Mid-Rapidstar
    • ADC-Woong
    • Support-Madlife 
    (This was the team who recently played in the "All-Stars" match against EDG a month ago.)

    The Fall of Frost

    Frost has been traditionally a "Season 2 team", which means it was a team who excelled at teamfighting, and preferred champions who farmed heavily, and tried to draw the game out to late, and win through superior teamfighting. The style was similar to that of then

    Unfortunately the meta-shifts have not boded well for the members of the team, and they have not adapted especially well. After the Season 2 world championships, their roster began to fall apart. It began with the departure of the "Tank ADC" Woong. Woong was not tauted to be a great mechanical ADC, and many perceived his replacement by Hermes to be something that would make Frost stronger.

    The original Frost roster is begins to fall off

    It was then that Rapidstar, the midlaner began to fall off. Rapidstar's champion pool consisted of heavy farm and slow moving mages such as Karthus, Anivia, and the occasional Diana. With the shift of the meta towards emphasizing early and mid game, Rapidstar had trouble adapting to the new champions. After a few subpar performances, Rapidstar was replaced by GankedbyMom, known as the world's greatest Orianna.

    Then,  in the middle of Season 3, Cloudtemplar, the world's greatest "Herbivore jungler" left the team to pursue a career in casting. Cloudtemplar is perceived as one of the Korean scene's most articulate and intelligent players (hence his easy transition into casting). In fact, you can make the argument that his preferred champion pool helped define Frost's gameplay. Cloudtemplar was well known for playing junglers who had great teamfight potential and tanky stats: such as Amumu, Rammus, Skarner, and is known for his jungle Shen. Essentially, having a jungler who offered low pressure prior to 6 but strong pressure post-6 defined how the Frost lanes would play- they would try to play safe until Cloudtemplar hit 6, and then try to force teamfights after that. Cloudtemplar's playstyle and role on the team was unique, and when he left, Frost could not find an adequate replacement.

    The Rebuilding

    Late Season 3 and Early Season 4, Frost was not performing very well. Their original strengths were made obsolete and unattainable due to meta-shifts and roster changes. Frost was looking for a new identity.

    There were three roles that were constantly changing: Mid, Jungle, and ADC.

    In the Mid lane, Rapidstar's replacement Ganked by Mom wasn't performing up to par. In addition, his lack of a champion pool was problematic, as the enemy could easily force him into certain champions. He could essentially play Orianna, and Zed, and the rest of his champion pool was not as impressive. Frost picked up veteran player Maknoon, but unfortunately he wasn't able to perform adequately either.

    In the Jungle, CJ Blaze's jungler Helios moved over to Frost to replace Cloudtemplar. Unfortunately, he wasn't able to be the playmaker that Frost needed to be successful, often being unable to make plays and forced to gank or cover lanes. He was later replaced by Lira, who had similar problems.

    In bot lane, Woong had been replaced by Hermes, but was quickly replaced by Space after a few poor performances. Space began as a very aggressive player, but later began to play in a style similar to Najin Sword's Pray- who focused on synchronized play with the rest of the team.

    This was Frost's roster for a bit. (Left to right): Shy, Rapidstar, Madlife, Ganked by Mom, Helios, Maknoon, Space

    Frost had an issue of weak mid laners and junglers, which allowed for enemies to take huge advantages over them in early and mid game. While Frost was still able to make it out of groups occasionally through a lucky match up against weaker groups, they were unable to reach their former glory.

    At the start of Spring 2014, Frost dropped its midlaners and junglers in favor of new players newly released from Korean team Xenic's Storm: Coco and Swift. The pair had strong synergy (important for Mid and Jungle) and were able to carry Xenics Storm through several games.

    The new roster consisted of:
    • Top-Shy
    • Jungle-Swift
    • Mid- Coco
    • ADC- Space
    • Support- Madlife
    This new roster has changed Frost's identity greatly.

    A New Identity

    The addition of Coco and Swift changed CJ Frost's identity greatly. Given the aggression of Coco and Swift, the whole field of play changed.

    Coco, the mage carry.

    Coco is a very aggressive and mechanically skilled player. His Kassadin (named Cocodin) was reputed for good reason, and he holds one of the highest KDA's in the game because of it. His repitoire seems to consist of Kassadin (pre-rework), Nidalee, Ziggs, and Leblanc. His play has been on point, and he often makes plays with the support of the jungler swift. So far, he is probably one of the best players on Frost's roster.

    Swift, the playmaker
    Similarly, Swift is also a very aggressive player. Unlike the other junglers of Frost, he prefers to play aggressive junglers who invade and kill the enemy jungler: such as Lee Sin and Kha'ziks. His Lee Sin play is to be feared, as he has the Insec kick down to a tee, and his picks have won them games. He and his partner Coco have essentially carried games for Frost by applying enormous pressure. He often aids top lane and gets Shy rolling, and has made Mundo a terrible pick against Frost due to their skill in diving Mundo early game.

    Perhaps due to the amount of pressure being placed by the Jungler and Mid lane, Shy has begun to awaken in top lane. Shy has been considered one of Korea's greatest top laners along with his equivalent on Blaze, Flame. During the early season, he struggled to carry on Mundo and the other tanky top laners, but as of late he has found his place on Shyvana, and the revitalized Jax. In essence, he has hit "Flame-status", by getting several kills on the enemy team early, and then reaching a massive CS lead, while also pushing down all the top towers and solo-killing the enemy top laner or jungler.

    Despite what you might expect, Bot-lane is probably Frost's least exciting lane. They are not necessarily bad, but they aren't necessarily strong either. Part of the reason is Frost often neglects its bot lane, preferring to use the jungler to snowball top and mid lane early on. This means that Space and Madlife will often choose to farm safely in fear of being ganked. Madlife, though known for hi clutch plays, is not especially active in the early game. The ADC, Space has recently discovered talent in playing Jinx as well as Twitch, but often falls behind in farm from being zoned out. Frost's botlane isn't often seen dominating the lane with aggression, and will usually not make plays unless they have support nearby.

    These new changes have shifted Frost's focus and gameplay from a late-game and teamfight focused team to an early/mid-game focused team who focuses on ganks and picks.

    Recent Performance

    Frost has had one season with this roster, both in Champions and in Masters. In Masters Frost has not lost a game since Week 3, when they lost against SKT TI K. They have an upcoming series against Samsung, who they have a losing record against. However, winning in masters isn't considered very telling, as it doesn't give circuit points; as a result, teams often don't take it as seriously.

    In OGN Spring 2014, they were placed in Group B, made up of generally weak teams, and placed second in the group, only dropping two games to Samsung Ozone. They made it out of groups in second place. Subsequently, they were placed against Samsung Blue and lost in a 3-1 loss. They have recently dropped down to NLB, and managed to defeat SKT TI S in a 2-0. Later this week, they will play SKT TI K in a bout to determine who proceeds to the finals for NLB.

    Its uncertain how strong CJ Frost is at the moment. For certain, no one believes that Frost in its current form is a dominating team. While they have had fantastic games against strong teams such as Ozone, Shield, and even beaten teams like SKT S, its apparent that they aren't fully cohesive yet.
    Frost sometimes gets over eager.

    Frost's Playstyle

    Frost's playstyle is different from the teams of last season, in that they don't "control" games in the way that KTB or SKT does. Instead, their style relies on constant skirmishes and picks. Its a style that depends heavily on mechanical skill, and is actually quite risky- since a lost teamfight gives up a great deal of momentum.

    Their team's success currently depends heavily on their midlaner and jungler providing a great deal of pressure early on- forcing the enemy jungler and midlaner to respond. This allows Shy to fight in a 1v1, and crush the enemy top laner in traditional CJ fashion- occasionally Swift will babysit the top lane to get Shy rolling.  When it comes to midgame, Frost depends heavily on small skirmishes to force picks and fights in their favor.

    The name of the game is Picks. Take down a single champion then proceed to roll over objectives

    Its an interesting style, but it relies heavily on their mechanics rather than decision making, and often relies on somewhat risky warding for map control (Madlife has been caught out several times due to this). Additionally, this is a style that is weak against teams who have very good map awareness and warding (a la Ozone and Blue).

    Significance of Farming

    I believe that Frost still depends on that winning teamfight, and still goes out of its way to prepare for it.

    The interesting thing about Frost is that it will often isolate its carries, and send them to farm. This is quite often Shy in top lane, where he power shoves the lane and tries to outplay the enemy laner, but sometimes Space is left alone in botlane to farm, while the rest of the team does something else. Even when the lane is pushed in, Shy will still stay top lane, and similarly, Space will stay bottom to get the farm.

    This is significant, because it means that Frost isn't aiming to merely take objectives through besieging the turrets. They want to take objectives through kills and skirmishes. In this sense, Frost is not an objective based team-they are still a teamfight oriented team.

    Frost aims to win the game by having more gold, better teamfighting, and stronger champions. This is opposed to KTB last season, who would do their fast-push  strategy, focusing on taking objectives over kills.

    CJ Frost vs. SKT TI K

    If this was last season, I would say SKT 100%. But this season, CJ Frost has improved greatly, while SKT TI K is on tilt with Bengi, Impact, and Poohmandu performing much weaker than they did the season before.
    The Fallen Kings(left to right) Piglet, Bengi, Poohmandu, Impact, Faker
    As far as match-ups go. I believe it currently looks like this:
    • Top Lane: Shy=Impact
      • While Shy might get his beloved Jax, Impact has been playing well with Renekton (often perceived as the counter to Jax). I basically expect the lanes to be Shyvanna and Renekton so long as neither is banned out.
    • Jungle: Swift > Bengi
      • Its hard to argue with this one. Swift's performance and mechanics have been on point this season, while Bengi seems to be struggling. The Lee Sin will be the real contested pick here, Swift is very dangerous on it. Another pick that we might see is Kha'ziks.
    • Midlane: Coco<Faker
      • Coco has been performing very well, but Faker has been performing well despite how K has been doing. Coco wasn't able to stop Dade, and I believe it might be similar with Faker. However, if Faker does not rotate (unlikely) the lane may go even. I expect Coco to fall back on either Ziggs or Leblanc. Faker's champion pool is too large to be able to fully predict what he'll bring out.
    • ADC: Space< Piglet 
      •  As of late, Space has been preferring to use Jinx, a champion that Piglet doesn't really play, and while Jinx is very strong late game, she is not the greatest duelist champion. So if Piglet goes for Vayne and isn't punished for it, Piglet might win this match up. I also expect Twitch to be a contested pick out of both ADCs.
    • Support: Madlife=Poohmandu
      • The two supports have similar champion pools at this point, both preferring playmaking champions: Leona, Thresh, Zyra, Alistar. Currently, I don't believe there to be a large difference in skill level between these two.
    Overall, in a best of 3, I believe it will end up a 2:1 in the favor of SKT K. Despite how far Frost has come, I believe that SKT K has a better sense of map control and team unity. With that said, if Frost is allowed their way, it could easily fall in Frost's favor.
    Read more →

    Thursday, April 24, 2014

    Learning 3 Languages in a Month- Day 1 Spanish

    For the first day of the project, I've decided to start with the language I'm most familiar with: Spanish.

    To start, I picked up an article from the spanish BBC website, and planned my steps:

    The article in question
    To begin, I wanted to have this project be steeped in practicality, so I would judge my success by whether or not I could comprehend what was being said in the article. Additionally, I intended to focus more on the "structure of the words" first, rather than worrying about vocabulary with the verbs and nouns.

    So my first step was to eliminate the words in the article that looked like nouns and verbs. This is something I probably wouldn't be able to do if I didn't have SOME understanding of Spanish. I'll probably have to develop a new method when approaching Italian and Japanese.  I went though and crossed out the words that I recognized as nouns and verbs (some were easy with "el presidente", and others were a bit more questionable).

    I made a lot of mistakes (obvious ones) but its meant to be rough anyways
    From there, I began to look up the meaning of each of the conjunctions. My hope was that I would get a very rough structure of the sentences. I was hoping there wasn't too many strange grammatical changes.

    I compiled a list of grammar just from the first paragraph

    "Y": and
    que: that, than
    que (accent): what
    desde: from
    desde que: Since
    en: in
    de: of
    han: have
    sido: was
    han sido: have been
    del: of
    pais: parents
    del pais: the country
    mas (accent): more
    durante: during
    cualquier: any
    otra: other

    Roughly the first paragraph would say:

    "and its since obama.....en...of.. of two...have been...the country,  more than during any other"

    Not especially helpful. At this point, I'm considering doing a translation of the English grammatical terms, just so I can recognize them when they come up. But first, I decide to take the first paragraph without the crossed out words and see if I could make sense of them:

    "And its since obama illego a la white house in enero of 2009, alrededor of two million of indocumentados  have been expulsados the country, more than during any other presidency in the history of the north american nacion."
    After putting in the verbs and nouns in, the grammar started to help make more sense. I could even begin to guess what what going on:

    Since obama "illego" (probably entered) the white house in "enero" (probably a month, most likely january) of 2009. Alredador (this term denotes an amount, like "many" or "all") of two million indocumentados (likely immigrants without papers/documents) have been expulsados (looks like the word "expelled") from the country. More than any other presidency in the history of the north american nation. 
    I looked up the terms:

    illego: came
    enero: january
    Alredador: around
    indocumentados: undocumented (duh)
    expulsados: expelled

    Not too bad, if I say so myself


    After the little attempt of today, I've decided to compile a list of "grammar" terms that denoted things like the relation of nouns to one another, and the placement of things. Its going to be split into two sections:

    1. The first section is purely meant to be a list of terms that help string words together- showing their relation to one another. These include things like articles "a, the", conjunctions such as "and, but, because, however", as well as others.
    2. The second section of the list will be terms that help determine things like "time" and "place" in terms of relation. So for instance "before, since, after" are words that determine "WHEN" things happened in respect to another event. Complimentary, terms like "underneath, inside, above, around, and between" determine the position of things in respect to another.
    The reason is because I feel that these are central and core to a language, and really help determine the way in which we communicate. There was a famous philosopher (probably Kant, its always Kant) who noted that we must put things in terms of a "space" and a "time" in order to fully comprehend it. If this is true, then all languages must be able to communicate space and time. Thus, why not pick up on the ways it conveys it now?

    In the meantime, I will look for a potentially exhaustive list of the spanish articles, conjunctions, and pronouns, as well as descriptors of time and place. If I can't find it, i'll make one myself.

    Edit: found a nice site for grammar here
    Read more →

    Learning 3 Languages in a Month

    For a long time now, I've wanted to expand my language base and become truly "Multi-lingual", while at the same time experimenting with my mnemonic technique skillset. Essentially, I intend to discover the best way for me to reach a certain degree of language proficiency in a short amount of time.

    The Goal

    An example of an article in Spanish off the BBC
    For this initial experiment, the goal is:

    "To be able to read an article written in the language". 

    For this experiment, I'll be using articles posted on the BBC, which is supposedly meant to be internationally accessible.

    The Languages

    The three languages I will initially be dealing with are:
    • Spanish (Mexican varient)
    • Japanese
    • Italian
    At the moment, I have some proficiency in Spanish, and some understanding of Japanese. However, I have very little exposure to Italian.

    How to will I go about this?

    This really is the question, and I am actually not certain of the best approach. But I have a few things in mind while going into this:
    1. Don't focus on memorizing vocabulary: While vocabulary shows proficiency in a language, it isn't necessarily the most important thing to know when trying to understand what is being said. Heck, I still run into words in english that I don't recognize all the time, but am often able to intuit what it means.
    2. Start with the grammar: I'm referring to the conjunctions like "and, but, because", as well as other grammatical terms. We use these to construct ALL our sentences, so getting a good grasp of it early is important.
    3. Don't anchor the new language to one you already know: Has anyone ever asked you "do you think in English?" It alludes to the idea that your understanding of other languages is rooted in your mother language. As a result, you'll often find that you'll have to formulate your thoughts in english first, before translating them into the native language. Its necessary at times, but not ideal. For vocabulary, you might be better off rooting them in images.
    4. Immerse yourself in it: The quickest way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it- whether by being forced to use it, or by constantly using it.
    5. Learn the melodic way of speaking- The way people speak in other languages is quite melodic. You can improve your accent by essentially singing the lines.
    Let's get to it.
    Read more →

    Monday, April 21, 2014

    The Fundamental Strategy taught by the game of Nim: The Victory Node


    Matches are commonly used to play Nim.
    Nim is an old strategy game popularized in 16th century Europe, and purportedly played in China. The game is simple, and can be played with simple objects, often using stones or matches. The game is played by laying out lines of objects and taking turns taking objects away. You take objects away by choosing a line, and then taking as many objects from that line as you want. The goal is to force the opponent to take the last object. Its best explained through an example:

    For example.

    The game begins by laying out stones in two lines:

    1. The first player chooses one of the lines (top or bottom), and can take AS MANY stones as he wants from it. (in this case, he can take anywhere from 1-4 stones). Let's say he takes 2 stones.

      Here's how the board looks like this:
    2. Next, the second player does the same. He selects a line, and takes as many stones as he wants. Let's say he chooses line 2, and takes 1 stone.

      The board now looks like this:
    3.  It returns to the first player, who takes 1 stone

    4. The second player takes BOTH stones from the bottom

    5. The first player is forced to take the last stone, and loses.

    The Fundamental Strategy

    At its core, the game of Nim is a mathematical one, and guarantees victory if you don't make mistakes and have the right board positioning.

    It is not a competitive back-and-forth game at all. Allow me to demonstrate:
    Say we have a board position like this:
    We might recognize this as the scenario in our example earlier. The ratio of beads is 1:2. And this board position basically guarantees victory for the person whose turn it is. Supposing that the person plays it our right.

    By taking both stones on the bottom line, it forces the opponent to take the final bead. Of course, you can still lose if you take only 1 stone, or the top line stone, but that would be a mistake.

    Let's expand this, and look at a "losing situation"
    Lets call this the 2:2 board position. If you have this scenario, it is near impossible to win if your opponent knows what he is doing. Lets look at your options (note that both lines are the same, so it doesn't really matter which line you choose)
    1. Taking 1 bead makes it so that you give the opponent the 1:2 ratio board position discussed above. 
    2. Taking 2 beads allows your opponent to take 1 bead, and forces you to lose.
    Let's go one more step forward and see if we recognize a pattern:
    Lets call this the 3:2 board position. This is also a board position where you are guranteed to win if you play it out right. Why? Because it builds off what have established with the 2:2, and 1:2 board set up. 

    By taking away 1 stone, you force your opponent into a 2:2 board position, which is a guaranteed lose if you play it right.

    And so on....4:4 is a loss, 5:4 is a win, 5:5 is a loss, etc.

    There are also games of Nim with multiple lines, but I don't want to get too far into those ideas as of yet.

    What does this Mean?

    I didn't write this article to talk about the method of winning Nim, there are mathematical equations and methods which better describe that. I wrote it out to highlight a fundamental goal behind strategy and strategic interaction: The point where all that matters is your own execution of the strategy.

    I call these points "Victory Nodes". As once you are in that position, the only thing that matters is not making mistakes- your opponents actions don't matter so long as you respond appropriately. The victory nodes are different from straight out winning because you can still make a mistake, but are important to note because they are often able to forecast victory long before it actually occurs.

    A good strategist makes note of these potential Victory Nodes and tries to drive the position of the game towards it, and then sweeps up victory in one fell swoop.

    In essence, a victory node is a point in which your success depends solely on yourself, and is not dependent on your opponent making a non-optimal move or a mistake.

    In other words, to use a victory node:

    You win by putting yourself in a position where your opponent's actions won't produce victory if you respond correctly. All that matters is your own execution of the strategy.

    Of course, with everything, it is often easier said than done.
    Read more →

    Sunday, April 13, 2014

    Debunking Sherlock Holmes Myths: "Deductive Reasoning"

    "How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

         Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of the Four, ch. 6 (1890)
    As with many Holmesian fanatics, the first time we heard the term "deduce" was while reading a Sherlock Holmes story. Prior to that, I had never heard the word before; so I quickly learned to associate the term "deduce" with Sherlock Holmes, as if it was something unique and central to him and his method.

    It was many years later that I discovered that in fact there was an entire segment of Formal Logic devoted to studying "Deductive Reasoning". Being the Holmesian fanatic I was, (and being lured in by the image of a Holmes silhouette in the description) I embarked on a quest to master the skills of Deduction.

    This image was placed in the description of "Deductive Reasoning".

    However, to my dismay I realized something that shattered my reality; The "deduction" that I had always associated with Holmes wasn't utilized by the consulting detective at all!

    Allow me to demonstrate what I mean.

    Logic and Deductive Reasoning

    Lets start by giving you a basic rundown of formal logic.

    In logic, Deductive Reasoning is known as the "top-down" approach (as opposed to Inductive, which is a bottom- up approach). You basically start from general premises or categories, and you work your way down to a specific conclusion.

    For instance, the most famous example is the "Socrates is a man" syllogism. It goes like this:

    (P)All men are mortal
    (P)Socrates is a man
    (C)Socrates is mortal
    You can think of it like this.We have a group of people called "men" and we know a variety of qualities that all people within that group share: they are mortal, they have a Y chromosome, etc. If we are told that Socrates is a person within that group, then we know that he shares the traits of the group- i.e. that he's mortal and has a Y chromosome.

    (This method is different from Inductive Reasoning)

    This method reasoning to a conclusion is actually very different from Holmesian Deduction

    Holmesian Deduction

    Holmesian Deduction is a bit different, and really draws from the word "deduce", which implies to subtract. In a way, Holmesian Deduction is all about shaving off the excess until you're left with the essential pieces.

    The way that Holmes utilizes his deduction is quite simple: He prepares a number of possibilities in his head, and then tests them. The possibilities which are impossible or don't fit, are eliminated. The process continues until he is left with a single possibility that, no matter how improbable, must be the case.

    Essentially, this is how Holmes solves his cases: He collects the facts from various sources, such as visiting the scene or talking to witnesses, and creates a list of possible solutions- and then he tests them one at a time using logic, visual simulation, or experiments. It is in fact, the scientific method as applied to crime solving.

    Holmes' True Method

    So what method does Holmes ACTUALLY use? Is there are formal logic version of his method. Well, essentially there are two major forms of formal reasoning in "Induction" and "Deduction". But there are somewhat less well known forms of logic as well. Such as Abduction.

    Abductive Reasoning is a form of reasoning that goes from Observation to Hypothesis. It observes a situation, say a crime scene, and brings up several hypothesis that are sufficient for causing the crime. For instance, lets say we have this scenario:

    • There was a cookie place on the table in front of three sugar-loving children. Red, Blue, and Green. The cookie must be eaten if touched. 
    • The cookie is now gone.
    • You can abduce (create hypothesis) that:
      • "Red may have eaten the cookie"
      • "Blue may have eaten the cookie"
      • "Green may have eaten the cookie"
    To the many Holmesians out there, this might not look like the method of "deduction" that you have come to be aware of; It doesn't seem to have the "subtracting" of possibilities that I put down as core to Holmesian deduction. However, lets revisit it upon discovering some new information.

    We return to the scene and find out some new information:
    Red was asleep at the time of the cookie eating. 
    In essence, we have added another point to our observations, and as such, the possible hypotheses have changed as well.

    Here are the new hypothesies:
    Observation: The cookie is missing. It could only have been eaten by one of the three children. Red was asleep at the time the cookie was eaten.

    Hypotheses: "Blue may have eaten the cookie", "Green may have eaten the cookie".
    As you can see, when we reevaluate the abduction with new information, we are essentially eliminating possibilities, just like how Holmes eliminates possibilities upon receiving new information. In essence "eliminating the impossible until only left with only one possibility".


    Holmes' method doesn't resemble deductive reasoning at all. Instead, it's much more similar to a form of reasoning known as "Abductive Reasoning".

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    Wednesday, April 9, 2014

    5 minute Logic Tutorial: Deductive Reasoning and Inductive Reasoning

    Alright, here's a 5 minute Logic tutorial on Deductive Reasoning and Inductive Reasoning. In formal Logic, these are the two main methods of reasoning.

    1. Deduction- Top-down approach
    2. Induction- Bottom-up approach
    The "top" refers to a group or category
    The "bottom" refers to an individual or particular instance

    You should be able to pick it up as you read on.

    Deductive Reasoning

    In logic, Deductive Reasoning is known as the "top-down" approach. You go from general qualities of a group to say things about specific instances of that group.

    For instance, the most famous example is the "Socrates is a man" syllogism. It goes like this:

    (P)All men are mortal
    (P)Socrates is a man
    (C)Socrates is mortal
    You can think of it like this. We have a group of people called "men" and we know a variety of qualities that all people within that group must share: they are mortal, they have a Y chromosome, etc. If we are told that Socrates is a person within that group, then we know that he must share the traits of the group- i.e. that he's mortal and has a Y chromosome.

    This is different from Sherlock Holmes' Deduction (Abduction).

    Inductive Reasoning

    Inductive Reasoning is known as the "bottom-up" approach. It goes from a specific instance (or individual) to reaching grand conclusions about the group they belong to.

    For instance, lets say we have Johan, who is a man from country XYZ. If Johan is a smoker and we say that all people from country XYZ are smokers, then we are using induction. Induction.

    As you can see, very common use of this is in Stereotyping, where we take qualities from specific instances (in this case, Johan's smoking) , and assume that it applies to all the people of the group the person belongs to (assume that everyone from country XYZ are smokers).

    Induction tends to be the riskier and more dangerous form of reasoning.

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    Sunday, April 6, 2014

    18 Cryptograms of Western University (Part 3/Final)

    Recently, it appears that the code has essentially been "cracked". I am essentially just making this post in order to conclude what happened.

    The article can be found here

    According to the article, it wasn't actually a "code" at all, but rather a sort of social art experiment. While 121 letters were hidden a few years ago, it seems they have only had widespread attention at this point.

    The result may not be especially exciting for the code-breaker, or armchair detective, but I suppose it has its own merits. After all, our analysis had suggested that the text wasn't very carefully formatted, suggesting that the attempt wasn't to deliver the entire message. Additionally, there was the oddity of giving several of the same letter (content wise) with nigh negligible differences. Essentially it suggested the idea that there wasn't much to find in the letter content.

    However, I was hoping that they were trying to make a point with the objects and the pictures they chose.

    I hope that I hear from the creator of this at some point. I'm not especially interested in tracking them down, but I would be interested in hearing their reasoning for choosing to do the things they did.

    Until then, Happy Sleuthing.
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    Wednesday, April 2, 2014

    The Interesting Effects of Suey Park and PETA- The Benefits of Appearing Mad

    Craziness works.

    Her twitter feed. 36K in tweets with 21k in followers.
    For those of you who are aware of US pop news, you may have heard about the twitter debacle with #CancelColbert and the twitter sensation Suey Park. Suey Park created a campaign to cancel "The Colbert Show" after a twitter account called "The Colbert Report" posted something she considered to be horribly offensive and racist. Her tweet has exploded, and now the entire internet seems to be aware of her and have come to the consensus that she is crazy.

    And yet, I believe her presence is actually quite positive for supporting the cause of rights for people of color (or I guess Asian Americans, It's hard to pinpoint what she stands for).

    I'm not here to debate whether she is right or not. I'm not even here to analyze her goals and intentions. Instead, i'm here to talk about the effect she has as a highly vocal and highly visible figure. One could actually consider her to be a lot like PETA.

    As you'll soon see, both Suey Park and PETA have a sort of "martyr" effect for the causes they support. They take the negative rapport and stir up a great deal of attention for their cause. Since their causes tend to be something that people are either neutral about or agree with, it reaps all the benefits of the attention without also being tied to the negative press.

    Let's talk a little about these two groups.

    PETA and "All publicity is good publicity"

    PETA (standing for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), for those who aren't aware, is an animal rights activist group. They are well known for their extremely controversial rallies and demonstrations. They are almost always found in the news and the public consciousness given how outlandish their actions and demands are. They are also known to be especially confrontational.

    PETA is very single minded in the way
    it tries to advertise its cause
    PETA is known for using shocking imagery, such as violent and bloody images directed toward children. They often utilize images and methods that stir an emotional response rather than arguments.

    When the Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani was diagnosed with prostate cancer, they ran an ad of him in a "got milk?" style advertisement, substituting the catch-phrase with "got prostate cancer?" in order to try and associate prostate cancer with milk.

    They don't really pull their punches, and are very opportunistic. In the case of some fishermen being bitten by sharks, they ran an ad that said "payback is a bitch, go vegan" to the outrage of the victim's families.

    Given all this, its hardly a surprise that PETA has a reputation for being crazy.

    The wiki page has more.

    As far as their cause goes. I believe that the idea of "animal rights" is generally not scoffed at, nor really solely associated with PETA. In fact, I would say that people consider PETA to be the "insane animal rights activists group", with the knowledge that there are several less crazy ones. The fact that their cause and PETA itself can be separated is quite important.

    Suey Park's Craziness

    Again, i'm not here to talk about Suey Park as a person. There have been an absurd number of articles judging her arguments and character already, such as this one. Instead i'll just mention some of the effects of her actions.

    The 23 year-old has over 21,000 twitter followers with her "Ching Chong Ding Dong Foundation for the sensitivity for Orientals". So every one of her tweets has a large audience. When she posted the #cancelcolbert hashtag as a call to arms, the whole phenomena took off; it exploded partly because of her large following, partly because it was related to Colbert(who was well known) , and partly because it seemed like a CRAZY thing to say.

    Extreme views draw attention. If this just said "Everyone can be racist", it wouldn't
    draw nearly as much attention.
    It's pretty important to acknowledge the craziness of what she said, as it really did lead to the post exploding. The internet is a large place with enormous amounts of information floating around. If your comments or opinions are normal or standard, they won't stand out. The opinions that everyone notices are the ones that are different, and often extreme. Suey Park's opinion was very extreme, and that's why it ended up becoming a phenomena.

    Her subsequent comments and rather stormy appearance on a Huffington Post interview has caused the internet to go into a frenzy. The consensus of many bloggers and commenters on Reddit is that she is crazy.

    You'd think this would set back the cause she fights for. On the contrary, it brings attention to the cause, and attention that is often neutral. Being "against racism" is something people in the US are all supportive of, and since Suey Park doesn't solely embody that cause, it will gain a lot of neutral or good attention. I find it doubtful that anyone will say "I'm for the mistreatment of people of color because I hate Suey Park".

    What are the Effects?

    The fact of the matter is that PETA and Suey Park bring a lot of attention to their causes. They are both similar in that they have gained attention by utilizing confrontational and "crazy" means. However, the attention is positive for the causes they stand behind since the causes tend to be things that people are either neutral or supportive of.

    It looks a little like this:

    1. Act Crazy
    2. Craziness gets attention
    3. Attention goes to speaker
    4. Attention drips down into cause (to a lesser degree)
    5. Negative association with speaker develops
    6. No negative association with cause because cause is non-controversial
    • Negative association with speaker
    • Lots of attention for Speaker
    • Lots of attention for Cause
    Cause gains from Crazy speaker


    But there are very specific requirements that must be in place before this can work

    1. It works because Suey Park and PETA are not only only proponents of their cause, they just tend to be the most famous and the most visible due to their outlandish actions and words. So they can be called the crazy ones out of a group.
    2. It works because their causes are not especially controversial. People are not especially against "animal rights" nor really against "anti-racism". There's not really a debate happening about whether or not racism is good, its accepted that it is a negative thing at this point.
    Essentially, people are not saying "I will now support Racism because I think Suey Park is crazy". They are more likely to say something along the lines of "I think Suey Park is crazy, and I feel sorry for the people who are actually trying to fight racism because she makes them look bad".

    It works because the attention the crazy person gets will bleed onto their cause, while the notoriety will really only affect the speaker. Remember that those two requirements must be in play though, being crazy for attention isn't always a good thing- bad reputations can easily destroy businesses and careers.
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