Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Tribute to Molly Gustin Ph.D

Writing a book is one thing. When people write books about your books, thats when you know you've got something.

*EDIT* Added two quotes to bottom of post.

I ate lunch today with Mrs. Gustin. She sat down at the table I was at saying "I've been working ever since I was fourteen and tomorrow I'm retired" she is currently eighty five. A career that started filing papers in the main office of UCLA (which I imagine was rather small in the year 1937) has dabbled in Top secret classification work on rockets for the US army, and taken a tour writing field changing books on music theory (see the links concerning her book "tonality" below) but always returned to teaching, either math or music, at many colleges across the country.We ask her what she will do in her retirement and she responds "it took me twenty years to get back to California and I intend to enjoy it." apparently the rest of this week is reserved for the beach.

Today isn't the first time I've met Mrs. Gustin. Last year I would sit on a bench in front of my lab building and talk with her every Friday before class. Her memory is fading, so I was not surprised that almost every conversation would start with a discussion of my last name, "where do you get a last name like Shechet from?" She would ask before immediately launching into a theoretical answer to the question. I realized after a while that she did remember me, at least on some level, because she never gave me the same reason for where my name came from twice. This is part of whats so special about Mrs. Gustin. One of her students from years past, on her blog "Burn Cells Brained out" Puts it this way: "She is an amazing and brilliant woman (and has perfected intellectual eccentricity as an art form."(punkrockphilosopher) When I caught onto this game of hers I started playing it back, I discovered from her one week that she often uses her role book for scratch paper in math class, so every Friday I would ask "marked down any new equations as present in class today?" then we would discuss her math class (which was senior math, and almost completely beyond my understanding, but fascinating nonetheless.)

Today while I was sitting with her I realized her memory really is going. It's to be expected. I saw something else though. This woman compensates for her failing memory by tapping the absolutely amazing math mind she possesses. The process is something like the error checking used on todays computer memory. She would start a story, but realize that one of the pieces didn't work (e.i. she was telling us she broker her leg, but which part she kept getting confused on) so she brings in another memory and does a "sum" on them. She stopped her story in general and focused on her broken leg, bringing in the fact that it was strait out in front of her and always used to get in the way. So she put the two together and concluded her kneecap had been broken. This is a simple example, everybody does this on some level, but I saw it happening over and over again, lightning fast, in a brain full up with almost a hundred years worth of memories. Bring up two memories, cross reference them, move on. Telling about it doesn't really do it justice, you have to see the eccentricity, and see a mind at work that you can really believe would do that on purpose (or if not, had adapted itself so well to dealing), to realize how amazing it is.

We hear stories about Mrs. Gustin. sometimes from her. For starters I'm told that she met Einstein. Not just met, but told him "I think your a liar and a cheat". I would love to find out why but this is one story that when you ask her she just smiles and talks about something else. On the other hand, we have strait from her own mouth a tale of subterfuge and spy like action, in James Bond tradition involving underwear (ok, maybe its not just like in James Bond, read on). After four years intensive work designing an aircraft in a closed facility she snuck copies of the plans out of the building in her undergarments. The way she tells the story you would think she was working under cover as a spy but if you ask her why she just shrugs and says "I spent four years on them, I wasn't about to leave without some proof. I've still got them, they're fifty feet long unrolled." no wonder it took four years.

I really do feel bad that I will never have her for a teacher. I doubt I will meet many people in my life more amazing. My hats off to you Mrs. Gustin.

Oh, and some random links: a book which focuses on the review of two books, one of which is "tonality" by Mrs. Gustin. Mr. Tom Susanka's entire life was changed by Mrs. Gustin's class. A "rising star" composer (and alumnus) who tributes his knowledge of music strongly to Mrs. Gustin. an interesting article on music in the church. her book.

Molly M. Gustin

B.M., Indiana University, 1957; M.M., Indiana University, 1958; Ph.D., Indiana University, 1961; Tutor, St. John’s College (Annapolis, Santa Fe), 1962–67; Associate Professor of Music and Humanities, Park College, 1967–68; Associate Professor of Music, Portland State University, 1968–72; Tutor, Thomas Aquinas College, 1972–74; Associate Professor of Music, Portland State University, 1974–76; Tutor, Thomas Aquinas College, 1976–79; Associate Professor of Music, Portland State University, 1979–81; Tutor, Thomas Aquinas College, 1981–.

*EDIT* Forgot about these, people on campus reminded me.
"repeat after me all together now 'Damn, Damn, Damn, Damn, Damn." (Unknown class, Mrs. Gustin)
"I waited most my life to get old and its even better than I thought" (Mrs. Gustin to student at lunch table.)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

the plan

I have two years left at TAC, but I spent some time looking into grad programs. I'm really interested in UCLA's joint MBA/JD program. Both the Anderson school of business and the law school are high rated (which is going to make it hard to get in) some rankings i ran across:

  • "Amongst national law school rankings UCLA Law School is ranked 13th by the Gourman Report, 14th by the Insider’s Guide and Educational Quality Rankings and 16th by U.S. News law school rankings."
  • "In BusinessWeek’s recently released 2004 biennial rankings of MBA programs, UCLA Anderson’s professors were rated number one."
  • "UCLA Anderson School of Management was among five U.S. universities whose faculties ranked among the top 30 in all eight academic disciplines. These schools were, in alphabetical order, Chicago, Harvard, MIT, Stanford and UCLA.
The things I have to look into now are admissions (I will have met all of the prerequisites for both schools upon completion of the TAC program) especially the fact that I need to do very well on the GMAT and LSAT just to have a chance of getting in (I would have to be independently accepted at both schools to qualify for the joint degree). And tuition. I'm not sure but I ran across indications that i would not pay the full tuition at both schools all four years (which is good because it would come out to $216,000.00) " As a public institution, UCLA charges fees and non-resident tuition that are relatively low. The Law School does charge a professional school fee, however; and it will apply to three of the four years of the joint degree program." ($27,000*3yrs=$81,000 yikes!)
The lowest it would seem to be would be $108,000 which is a sizable sum. Ill start buying lottery tickets.
On the upside, the course work (which as a joint degree would normally be considered pretty heavy, only represents a total of 120 classroom hours, the TAC program is 146, so I imagine i would not be overloaded with the work load.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Everybody is leaving :(

I just realized that of my friends:
Nick is graduating.
Paul is moving to a different dorm.
David is gone.
Sarah is going to London for pre-med.
Fiona is working full time with disabled people.
Katie is leaving with Sarah.
Jimmy is transferring to University of Dallas.
Cacho is taking a year off.
And jack and Steven sims and John hall and brain Hong all have girlfriends on campus so i can barely hang out with them.
Larson and David Curtian are both cool but Larson plays too many video games and david plays none.
Lucas is spending the summer up in irvine and carina has talked to me like 3 times since she got married.

So basically, everybody i know is leaving at the end of this year.

Man, i hope next year is not as grim as it looks.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

language paper

here it is, undiluted:

As a Cause

An argument by analogy in answer to the question:

Is Martin of Denmark right in saying that the modes of signifying are the principles of the art of grammar?

By Patrick Shechet


In his work Tractatus de Modis Significandi, Martin of Denmark asserts that the “Modi significandi”, or Modes of signifying are the principles of the art of grammar. These modes of signifying are seen to be a valid basis for an examination of grammar in the work. Further, the relationship of the modes of signifying to the primary parts of speech – analogous to the way the modes of being are to the categories of thought, and mirroring the way in which the actuality of things is to their existence -- shows these modes of being to be valid principles of the art of grammar.

It is reasonable to start an exploration of this validity by defining what is meant by the words grammar and principles in general. After this it is necessary to see what Martin of Denmark means by Modis Significandi. From this understanding it will be possible to see a relationship of these modes to the art of grammar which mirrors the modes of being’s relationship to the ten categories. Thus, upholding them as principles.

Grammar is said to be the art of signifying through words. According to Aquinas “an art seems to be nothing other than a fixed disposition of reason concerning the manner in which human acts arrive at a due end through determinate means.” (Expositio libri posteriorum, translated by Matthew Walz, line 10) Grammar then, is the disposition of the mind towards the act of expression through words.

The word principle is from the Latin principium, meaning: beginning or foundation. In Mathematics we refer to as principles the smallest pieces of geometry from which other shapes are built. Thus, principles are those first pieces from which the rest of an art or science is developed. These must not be confused with the pieces which are best known. For Aristotle says, “what is to us plain and obvious at first is rather confused masses, the elements and principles of which become known to us later by analysis.” Just as when one looks at a house, one sees first the whole house and only upon closer examination are the building materials clear.

Martin of Denmark approaches the Modes of Signifying through examination of the process of verbalizing thought. He says that when the intellect, “wishes to signify its concept to another,” it does so through the voice, “in order that its concept, namely, the understood thing, be expressed through the voice as through a sign.[6]” To show this he uses the example of a store sign, which pictures wine by showing a piece of a barrel. In this we are meant to see that in the same way we think of a wine barrel by looking at the sign, we also think of a wine barrel when we hear the words “wine barrel”. The voice uses a word which is seen as a part of the idea in order to show thoughts. He makes it clear that this is what is signified saying, “after the joining of the voice, the thing itself is called a signified thing.” He proceeds by using an analogy to the modes of being to show the relationship of the modes of signification, saying “all the properties of thing which formerly were called the modes of being of thing beyond the intellect and the modes of understanding of the thing understood, now are called the modes of signifying.” Thus the modes of signifying are the properties of words, which reflect the properties of the things signified.

This is a cursory analogy. To fully understand the modes of being as principles it is necessary to see in more detail how they are the properties of things in the same way the modes of being are. Particularly the statement “the modes of signifying are taken from the properties of things which are the modes of being.” (6) Must be explained and upheld. The analogy to Aristotle is particularly reasonable because when Martin of Denmark proposes that it is “fitting that when we direct ourselves to grammar, we know it’s essential principles which are the modes of signifying.” He mirrors Aristotle’s words, who begins his Physics: “When the objects of an inquiry, in any department, have principles, conditions or elements, it is through acquaintance with these that knowledge, that is to say scientific knowledge, is attained.” (Aristotle physics book 1 chapter 1.) Therefore, it is fitting to show that the modes of signifying are the principles of grammar by showing a relationship to grammar similar to that which Aristotle showed of the modes of being to the categories; “For we do not think that we know a thing until we are acquainted with its primary conditions or first principles, and have carried our analysis as far as its simplest elements.” (Aristotle physics book 1 chapter 1)

The relationship begins with the premise: “the mode of signifying is the form of the part of speech.” (12) This is because it is through these modes, as properties, that each part of speech is distinguished from every other. Martin claims this saying: “every part of speech is a part through its own general essential mode of signifying.”(14) He continues, “further, the modes of signifying are in the thing signified as in a subject.”(9) Just as the properties of things are in their substance, as color is in wood, so are the modes of signifying in their parts of speech. In this way, the modes of signifying are to the parts of speech as cause of knowing, “just as a thing is distinguished through its properties, so are the parts of speech through their modes of signifying.”(12)

He further says that the modes of being, understanding, and signifying are essentially the same; they differ in location however. Martin uses this proof: “just as the thing holds itself beyond [the intellect], understood, and signified, in the same way the modes of being, understanding, and signifying hold themselves.” Further, these are all the same thing. That is, just as the properties of things are distinct and in the thing, separate from our idea in some way. So also are the same principles in the thing separated from our word. So the properties of things are distinct, and the holding of these separate from substance is equal when it is either in the mind, or in words. Thus, “the modes of being, the modes of understanding, and the modes of signifying are the same, albeit differing accidentally, namely pertaining to diversity of place.” And this is important to hold against the objection that the mode of signifying is only in relation to the mode of understanding, as if the words did not relate to the thing itself in the same way an idea did, but rather the idea to the thing and the words to the idea. This Martin refutes saying “As wine signified by the hoop is not the sign of wine in the cellar but the substance of the hoop is, in the same way the mode of signifying is not the sign of the mode of understanding and the mode of being, since nothing is able to be the sign of its very self, wherefore they are essentially the same, and thus one will not be the sign of the other, but their sign is the voice, because the voice signifies the thing and consignifies the properties of a thing. [8]” So the modes of signification relate to things, as the modes of being and the modes of understanding -- not in a remote way, as if through these other modes -- in the same way.

It is right then to say that the modes of signifying are the principles of the art of grammar. As has been said, the modes of signifying are to the parts of speech in the same way as the modes of being are to the categories of thought which mirror the actuality of things to their existence. The truth of this is vital to the validity of Martin of Denmark’s exposition of grammar.

“Thus knowledge is present in the human mind as it is predicable of grammar.”


wind up for the wind down.

So its been ages since i blogged (well, i posted twice today, but before that). The school years almost over and theres a huge gap in what i've done. Latin got a lot easier after first semester when we finished wheelock. It may teach latin but i will forever hate that book. In any case, when we got into translating texts instead of dreary textbook work, it turns out im not really the bottom of the class, actually i can read most the texts we've done this semester in real time. I also had a decent time writing my latin paper, which i might just put up as its own post.

Augustin's "Confessions" is my favorite nonfiction book of all time. its absolutely amazing. I wont even try to explain it. just read it, its well worth while.

My other classes have been pretty much the same. good. as always.

I bolted after seminar last week to go see a yellowcard concert in ventura. They had a cello, voilin, and two classical guitars. Other than that they sound like jimmy eat world. (well, they do live, i have heard them on CD since and they just dont sound as good that way).

The above led to the amusing event of telling my prefect that i broke curfew (which aparently does not happen very often because he almost fell over.) as i knew i would, i got to return to my job in the kitchen for an hour (joy.) it was worth it though, as i knew it would be when i decided to go.

There is a play tonight. Shakespear's as you like it. I plan on going.

I also have a philosophy paper to write. due in 8 days. and after that there are just two short weeks to finals. ill be home sometime around may 10th.

I still stay up at night dreaming of virtual reality displays. the company that i was ranting about (Icuiti) last year has renamed itself "Vuzix". Their displays remain largely unchanged (though they now offer vision enhancement units for the visually impaired) Someday i will have $400 to spend on an absolutely awesome toy like that.

Here is the deal with GPUs

OK, another out of place post, this is for my gaming friends. It's not said very clearly so ill put it here. When it comes down to it a midrange card with 512MB memory will MAX the graphics on everything but crysis. Were talking the sub $200: the 9600, 8800gt, 3870 or OCed 3850s. The only reason for more memory, a faster clock, or SLI/crossfire is to put out huge resolutions (which wont do you a lick of good unless you have a monitor that supports them). So there you have it.

Oh, and AMD's 5000+ black edition is more CPU power than we really need for gaming (over clocked to 3.2gzh of course, which is a piece of cake since it has an unlocked multiplier.) all that at sub 100$ too.

Basically, this is the first time that i can remember when its really not that attractive to dump more than $500 into a computer, you just wouldn't notice.

Thats a bit different

Odd first post in months i know, but I'm just shocked. Some of AMD's top brass said that their company was employing too many unneeded people, he said they were gonna make cut backs, then they fired themselves. That makes their opinion ever so much more believable.