Weeknote for 8/9/2020



I feel more motivated to study math. Thanks to David Tall and some handily organized course descriptions from California State University, I found out that I won’t get to the interesting, formal mathematics I’ve been waiting for till I’m done with calculus. So that motivates me to keep moving.

Last week I reformatted the math in my notes and found that adding more notes was much more enjoyable now that I know some LaTeX and don’t have the mental friction of making up my own notation.

I spent the week’s last few days pondering how to gain a fuller sense of mastery over the material. OpenStax sometimes leaves me wondering how the procedures work, so I ended up revisiting the EngageNY math curriculum and my math student simulator project. I had dropped both of those in favor of speeding through the OpenStax textbooks, but I might work with them after all to give myself a more solid foundation. I’ll try not to slow to a crawl.

This week starts the Thinkulum project month of August. I want to spend a little time assessing my progress and plans, because now that I’m in the middle of this long-term math learning project that’s only somewhat defined, I’ve become lackadaisical about actually managing the project, which seems like a mistake.



I introduced myself to the new space age. Since I’ve been ignoring spaceflight most of my life, I’m behind in my knowledge; and since I seem determined to talk about this topic, I decided to get organized so I’ll have a clue. The overview articles I found last week led me to a book I’ll be listening to very soon, Space 2.0 by Rod Pyle. Meanwhile, watch Joe Scott talk about why people get excited about watching SpaceX and why that’s a good thing.



I found a history of AI. I picked up some search terms from the Wikipedia article and landed on The Quest for Artificial Intelligence by Nils J. Nilsson. I’ll get to that one after Space 2.0.

My reaction to AI skeptics has clarified the research I care about. At least in the near term, I want to read sources focused on exploring the space of possible minds and on integrating AI paradigms. But I’ll wait till after I’ve taken in the sweep of AI history.



I’m sticking with Remicade for now. We’re going to try a shorter interval between infusions. My symptoms are very good right now, better than other times I’ve been on prednisone, so I think my latest Remicade infusion is working. In a couple of weeks I’ll be done with the prednisone, so we’ll see what happens to my symptoms. Then if the earlier dose of Remicade doesn’t improve them, we’ll switch to something else, most likely Xeljanz.

Prednisone is weirdly boosting my energy. I was expecting this side effect based on previous experience. This time it’s less like hyperactivity and more like doggedness. I still feel pretty slow, but sometimes jittery at the same time, and I have a lot of inertia to continue whatever I’m doing just because I can’t be bothered to change tracks. This all has the benefit of letting me (slowly) push through fatigue so I get more done and the drawback of making me feel spacey when my body is wired but my brain is tired. Apparently, just because you’re able to sleep less doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. Deliberate naps have been helping (as opposed to the spontaneous ones I usually take).



I felt strangely at home in Perdido Street Station. I had very little idea what to expect when I started, but as I see it, it’s a fantasy novel about cognitive science, especially on the topic of possible minds (timely!), and it gave me interesting paths to explore branching off my usual trails of thought. The writing was also very listenable, despite all its weird content. I rarely felt lost and befuddled. If the sound of a grittier, non-satirical Ankh-Morpork appeals to you, I recommend it, and I’ll definitely come back to China Miéville in the future.

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