Should we dispose of “he” and “she” and call everything “it”?

Certainly, you have by now realized how annoying it is to be gender-wise considerate and write “he or she” each time. It certainly is agitating to me, and I find that it cuts from the flow of words. I really feel that it makes much more sense to just remove those words from language altogether and call everything “it.”

(It’s not like this has not been done before; there was a time when English had “thou” as well as “you,” but at least they were sensible enough to consolidate that; why didn’t they fix this third-person pronoun debacle? Speaking of which, this is one of the few times in which English actually is more reasonable than some other languages in the world (Chinese has a “he,” a “she,” a living “it,” and a non-living “it,” and some languages become even worse (different pronouns for levels of respect are outright outrageous (oh hey, parenthetical comment stack))). Of course, that is still no excuse to not fix this problem.)

I can imagine that someone out there is already complaining that I’m dehumanizing people by proposing to call them “it”s. One should realize that incredibly this is really only the undoing of the ridiculous human proposition to consider their species outlandishly and indubitably superior to other species, when the only thing that’s better about the human is the mind and somehow this carried the human far. (It’s still fairly confusing that humans somehow have came to the decision to highly value human traits other than thought, sometimes (I mean frequently (oh hey, parenthetical comment stack again)) to greater degrees than the value of thought, trying to run uphill against a quality clearly taken by another animal already.) I contend that the he/she/it system is degrading to other forms of life. Somehow, millions of species are indiscriminately labeled in the category of the smallest of the three pronouns and humans get the luxury of sex identification. Personally, I feel that it is much more expedient, more logical, and slightly conserving of printer ink to adopt an everything-“it” system.

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What, exactly, designates city largeness?

When one talks about the largest cities, one is usually seeking cities with the largest population (and occasionally, some actually are referencing area). As with everything in statistics, though, the picture isn’t that simple. In looking at the largest cities by population, one is usually attempting to find the largest pools of people, but sometimes parts of cities break away and become independent, and sometimes small adjacent incorporated areas are assimilated. Perhaps one is looking for the size (by population) of the metropolitan area. What, exactly, designates a metropolitan area, though? Where, for example, do you draw the line between New York and Philadelphia (with possibly even cities in between, like Trenton)?

Let’s start simply by listing the twelve largest cities in the United States. They are New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Diego, Dallas, San Jose, Jacksonville, and Indianapolis, in descending order of population according to the 2010 census. This hardly tells the entire story, as some of these cities are large truly because of their concentration of population and some are large for other reasons. Take a look at the following chart (charts made using Microsoft Excel and Microsoft Paint), consisting of the plotting of the area and population of 137 selected cities in the United States (area is measured in square miles):

From this, one could see that using linear scales is not a good idea, as is usually the case with measuring direct quantities of size; hence, the following:

From this, we can conclude that New York is quite indubitably the largest city, largest by both population and population density (unless you’re one of those that measure city largeness by area). One can argue though, for example, that had Chicago had a comparable size to Los Angeles, the former would have had more population than the latter, which like Houston, San Antonio, and Jacksonville, owe a significant amount of the cause of their population size to the fact that in history they annexed many communities around them. The cities on the upper left of the mass of points are the crowded cities, those that have large amounts of people for the area they cover. San Francisco, for example, has a five-digit people/square mile population density. Some of you may know that many cities surround San Francisco (in fact, one directly to the south, Daly City, is labeled on the chart, also a city of high population density). The reason San Francisco is only 13th in the United States by population is really because the city proper encompasses a very small amount of land at the tip of a peninsula. Miami, Santa Ana, Jersey City, Paterson, and Cambridge also are highly populated cities that are small in land area covered. Oklahoma City, Huntsville, Norman, and Suffolk (VA), on the other hand, cover a large amount of area (in fact, two of them cover more area than New York) but have comparatively low populations (drawing a horizontal line, one can see that Oklahoma city has about the same population as Washington, DC, but it has more than two powers of e times greater area). And if you really want land, land, everywhere, move to Juneau (or more practically, move to an unincorporated area, even though in the outer parts of Juneau one might not be able to tell a difference). Or if you don’t want either extreme, move someone in the middle, like Worcester, Tampa, Syracuse (NY), or the Californian cities of Irvine, Riverside, and Fremont. Keep in mind, though, that even this shouldn’t be taken for face value, as clearly within city boundaries the concentration of people is not homogenous, and downtowns will still have greater concentrations of populations than border areas.

Dragonland’s Dragondawn: Piano Transcription

Some of you may know that one of my favorite works of music is Dragonland’s “Dragondawn” (from their first album The Battle of the Ivory Plains). If you haven’t heard it before, I recommend that you close your eyes while you play the Youtube video, as I personally feel it is shockingly amazing (of course, I make no guarantees on subjective matters) and is remarkable to cosmic degrees, and closing your eyes really intensifies the richness of slow, grand music. In any case, when I first heard it about a year ago, I was very surprised that nobody had arranged a piano version of such a wonderful masterpiece (or at least, my Google search brought no relevant results), so I decided to start arranging one myself. Of course, halfway through, massive procrastination struck, and I’m only finished now. But I finished. So here’s my piano transcription of Dragonland’s “Dragondawn.” There’s some pretty tricky leaps, but it shouldn’t be that bad, although on the piano it only sounds half as awesome as in the original version.

The song “Dragondawn” belongs to Dragonland.

Why 11:11:11 11/11/11 isn’t all that Meaningful

There is much hype about the occurrence of 11:11:11 11/11/11 all around the world today. Of course, I believe people are always allowed to celebrate at any random-from-the-outside-perspective times when they feel like it, but it unfortunately appears that they seem to find the time special for the same reason. Evidently, it’s the patterns of 1’s that make the time so outstanding. But what’s behind these numbers? The inevitable conclusion among reason is that all of the “specialness” the time is arrived at from arbitrary decisions of humans, thus making it of no natural uniqueness.

1) The least important point is the fact that 11:11:11 11/11/11 is based on very arbitrary choices of number system and calendar, but it should be mentioned anyway. There is no evidence other than the number of fingers on the human hand that decimal base, clearly the base used, is the best base for representing numbers. It took me a while to even find a reason convincing to myself (the golden ratio reason, which brings about interesting observations). The Gregorian Calendar, definitely at least inferior to the Lunar Calendar, is a treasure trove of arbitrary partition and assignment of numerical representations.

2) Even if the decimal base and the Gregorian Calendar are legitimate (the former is fairly feasible, at least), the system is inconsistent within itself. There are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hours, 24 hours in a day, a freaking changing number of days in a month, 12 months in a year, and…yeah, you get the picture. There isn’t even a stable base system being used, further adding to the arbitrary quality of the time.

3) In fact, the assignment of 11:11:11 11/11/11 today is inconsistent with the Gregorian calendar. On that calendar, today is in fact 11/11/2011, not 11/11/11.

4) The problem with Harold Camping’s time assignment of the end of the world also applies here. This is more of something that unearths the arbitrary nature of the “special” time than a measure of such a nature itself. What time zone does the special time occur in? There’s forty time zones in the world. If there’s that many occurrences, it’s not all that special is it? If you celebrate at Greenwich mean time, you should realize that that’s also selected by the British so that they are the center of the world (although egocentric is definitely better than arbitrary), and unless you believe in a special quality of the British, there’s an ultimate time-zone quandary that this 11:11:11 business falls into (I encourage you to solve this problem using egocentrism as well, stating that your time zone is the right one, but that doesn’t solve any of the other problems here).

The main point I wish to demonstrate here is the stunning degree by which people blindly follow the footpaths of others. Each person by himself or herself would have more reason to celebrate 11:11:11 11/11/11 after their birth (or perhaps their conception, or as I would suggest, the first day of their life they remember—what makes you so sure that your parents told you your birthday truthfully?), sacrificing only the excitement of a huge crowd for a sharp increase in logical legitimacy.