Author Archive
Humor

Algorithms Meme

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My friend and I were in class and we were bored by the professor and she found this meme. We almost got in trouble for laughing during class. When she showed me the meme she said, “I bet this is way better than our current lecture.” It is common knowledge that MIT is an incredible school for many majors, especially engineering majors. This meme is popular with current music. This version pretends that the algorithms lecture is the “hottest” track out there. My friend found this meme on the internet and it has many forms. Its origin is unknown. This version was most likely developed by someone in the computer science or engineering field. Not many people outside the field would understand it or find it funny.

My friend is a computer science major with a game development emphasis. As part of the computer science community she collects and forwards a myriad of folklore specific to this unique group. Computer science folklore is unique and reflects the beliefs and the culture of the group. Per my informant, as well as personal experience, computer science majors have a unique sense of humor that develops from the difficult coursework, the long hours spent on the computer coding, and the group dynamic required to get through the major. This humor is often expressed through memes and jokes only members of this group can understand and appreciate.

I find this meme and ones like it funny because they are incredibly relatable. Memes are able to adapt to different groups. I find that really interesting. I believe that is the main reason that memes are so popular. Every group can find or create memes specific to their folklore (i.e. jokes, tales, inside knowledge). As a result memes can seem personal and specific to the group.

 

 

Folk Beliefs

Sneeze belief

While hanging out with a few of my friends, procrastinating on homework, one of my friends, Sara, needed to sneeze. She had one of those sneezes that don’t happen right away. My other friend Henry told her, “Look into the sun, well not directly ya know like look into the light it will help you sneeze. Yupp yeah like that.” Then Sara was able to sneeze. Both Sara and I thought the trick was really weird. I have heard that you are supposed to say “watermelon”, wave your hand in front of your face, or jump up and down in order to avoid sneezing. According to Henry, the “looking into the sun” trick is of Irish decent. He learned it from various family members over the years. After Sara sneezed we said “bless you” as everyone usually does. Sara added, “do you guys know why we say ‘bless you’ when people sneeze? It’s like a Christian thing that when you sneeze it’s like the devil is leaving your body and at this point your soul is vulnerable, so people say ‘bless you’ to protect your soul during this time.” My friend, Sara, is a computer science major with a game development emphasis. As part of the computer science community she collects and forwards a myriad of folklore specific to this unique group. Computer science folklore is unique and reflects the beliefs and the culture of the group. Per my informant, as well as personal experience, computer science majors have a unique sense of humor that develops from the difficult coursework, the long hours spent on the computer coding, and the group dynamic required to get through the major. This humor is often expressed through memes and jokes only members of this group can understand and appreciate. My friend, Henry, is also a computer science major. As part of the computer science community he collects and forwards a myriad of folklore specific to this unique group. Computer science folklore is unique and reflects the beliefs and the culture of the group. Per my informant, as well as personal experience, computer science majors have a unique sense of humor that develops from the difficult coursework, the long hours spent on the computer coding, and the group dynamic required to get through the major. This humor is often expressed through memes and jokes only members of this group can understand and appreciate. I found both of these interpretations on sneezing to be interesting. The first one helps you sneeze since the period of time right before a sneeze is rather uncomfortable. I was curious to see how well Henry’s trick of looking into light worked. I took it upon myself to experiment. I noticed that Henry’s trick doesn’t work all of the time. Nor do the other trick mentioned. However, I did notice that all of the tricks succeed in distracting you from the uncomfortable feeling right before sneezing. That might just be the real secret behind this folklore. Maybe the point is not to bring about or avoid a sneeze but rather to distract from the uncomfortable feeling right beforehand. While Sara’s piece of folklore attempts to explain why you sneeze. Here you can clearly see the difference between how people view this biological reaction.

Holidays
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Sister Day Tradition

Sister day is a holiday passed down in my family. It is a day that celebrates having sisters. Today my sisters and I and my mom and her sisters participate in the event. The day consists of the sisters spending the entire day together and exchanging small gifts. This day celebrates the special bond that sisters have. My mom and her sisters used to go on a hike or camping trip for sister day. My sister and I used to go to amusement parks. Then we got our puppy, Bliss. Now she joins in the event since she is a sister. So now we go to parks or lakes so that Bliss can really enjoy the day with us. My mom thinks this tradition came from a mixture of Irish traditions, but other than that she is not sure of the origin of this tradition. I asked my mom what she thought of the tradition. She said, “I think that this really brought my sisters and I together. It really made us value each other. Having support from your sisters is invaluable. I love having their support when things don’t go as planned. They really help you out with things that parents can’t.” When I asked my sister the same question she said, “I love hanging out with you. We don’t always get along but I still love you. This tradition lets us put our differences aside and remember that we love each other above all else.” My sister is a political science and economics major. She plays water polo and is a member of many “fandoms”. A “fandom” is a group of people who follow, generally, a television show or a novel. Some of the fandoms that she belongs to follow shows such as Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service(NCIS). The group develops terminology that is only understood by other members of the group. For example, many fandoms “ship” certain characters. This means that the members of the fandom or just fans of the show want two characters to become a couple. My mom has a degree in biochemistry and a Master’s degree in education. She teaches math to high schoolers. She enjoys doing math puzzles and learning to code. As a result, she has collected an enormous amount of folklore. Predominantly from her students. Some of this folklore is unique to each niche while other pieces span multiple groups. This provides a unique perspective on folklore from these rather similar groups.

I love this tradition. It’s always fun and I love spending time with my sister. It is especially important to me now that I am away at college and I don’t get to see her as often as I want to. Many families today do not get along. We see it in television and music very often. Divorce rates are higher today than they have been in the past. Thus, I believe that having a day to celebrate with part of your family is really important.

Folk Beliefs

Unassigned but assigned Spot belief

While home for spring break, my sister took the test to obtain her driver’s license. My mom reminded her to pick up her parking pass when she goes back to school. I asked her if she knew where she was going to park. She told me “well I have to find a spot that isn’t already taken. Ya know because everyone who already has a parking pass has claimed their spot. I hope I can find one close to the front so that I don’t have to walk super far every day.” I found this to be an interesting conundrum. While the parking spaces aren’t officially assigned people usually park in the same one every day. That happened at my high school. A similar phenomenon occurs with seats in college lecture halls. Most of my friends including myself often get to class early the first few weeks to stake out our seats. Then we continue to sit in the same seats all semester. It’s really annoying when someone takes your unofficially assigned seat. My sister had this problem with the parking spot. I find it interesting that we as humans have a hard time functioning when we lose our favorite seat or parking spot. My sister says she would hate it if someone took her spot and tries not to take someone else’s spot. I have the same problem. It really ruins my day when someone takes my usual seat in class. I believe that many people like consistency. So when something interferes with our consistent behavior it makes us uncomfortable. I believe that doing something in a particular or familiar spot evokes a sense of familiarity, even if you aren’t where you normally are like if you are on vacation. When my family goes on vacation the bathroom always gets ‘set-up’ the same way. My parents take the left side of the sink for their personal items while my sister and I take the right side of the sink. These actions seek to bring back that sense of familiarity when we are in a new place or situation.

My sister is a political science and economics major. She plays water polo and is a member of many “fandoms”. A “fandom” is a group of people who follow, generally, a television show or a novel. Some of the fandoms that she belongs to follow shows such as Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service(NCIS). The group develops terminology that is only understood by other members of the group. For example, many fandoms “ship” certain characters. This means that the members of the fandom or just fans of the show want two characters to become a couple.

Folk Beliefs

Driving Superstition

My sister always lifts her feet up in the car when we drive over a bridge and when we go through a tunnel she holds her breath. When I asked her why she did this she responded “so that we make it through safely. If I don’t then the bridge could break and we would fall in the water or the tunnel will collapse on top of us.” Her reasons are fairly common. Many natural disasters are reported on television and many action movies show bridges being destroyed and tunnels being crushed. Many people have a fear of driving over bridges or through tunnels.  I asked her where she learned this superstition from and she responded with “I think I just picked it up. Some of my friends do it when I ride with them. I think mom or grandma may have told me to do it at one point.” As soon as she said this I remembered my mom joking one time about holding my breath while going through a tunnel. My sister is a political science and economics major. She plays water polo and is a member of many “fandoms”. A “fandom” is a group of people who follow, generally, a television show or a novel. Some of the fandoms that she belongs to follow shows such as Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Naval Criminal Investigative Service(NCIS). The group develops terminology that is only understood by other members of the group. For example, many fandoms “ship” certain characters. This means that the members of the fandom or just fans of the show want two characters to become a couple.

Personally, I find driving superstitions to be rather pointless. I think that “lucky” or “good” driving is a matter of ability and how much one is paying attention. If someone chooses to cut you off or hits your car it happens. I have never personally experience a superstition “working” and as a result I don’t believe that they are particularly helpful. At the same time, I don’t mind if my sister wants to partake in the superstition if it makes her feel better.

Game

Nim

While trying to find interesting ways to get her students interested in math my mom consulted many different resources.  After searching for a while she remembered a game that one of her math professors taught her. The game is called Nim. She taught it to me when we were waiting for our food at a restaurant. I was becoming impatient, as most seven year olds do when waiting a long time for food. She said “okay, okay, okay…. I have something for you to do.” She grabbed her purse, pulled out her wallet, and began pulling out some coins. She began to explain, “I am going to teach you a game. You can play it with just about any small object. Since we have coins we are going to play the game with those.” She began placing the coins on the table into three rows. One row had three coins. The row right below it had four coins. The last row had eleven coins. She proceeded to explain how to play the game. “Each player takes turns removing coins from one row. You can remove as many coins as you want as long as they are all in the same row. For example, on your first turn you can remove all of the coins from the first row. Then I could remove all of the coins from the second row. The goal of the game is to be the person to take the last coin. Some versions of the game say that you don’t want to be the person to take the last coin, but we will play this way.” We then began to play a few games and I lost all of them. It is not enough to just know the rules of the game. You also need a strategy. My mom has played the game many times and has learned from other players. As a result she had developed a decent strategy while I had to develop my own as we played. My mom has a degree in biochemistry and a Master’s degree in educations. She teaches math to high schoolers. She enjoys doing math puzzles and learning to code. As a result, she has collected an enormous amount of folklore. Predominantly from her students. Some of this folklore is unique to each niche while other pieces span multiple groups. This provides a unique perspective on folklore from these rather similar groups. I found the game very interesting and continue to play it today. Similar games are brought up in my classes and we have to develop algorithms to play the game such that you can always win. Both my mom and I enjoy the strategy that goes into this game. Every now and then I challenge her to a match to see if I can beat her yet.

For another version of the game checkout this online edition at http://education.jlab.org/nim/.

Folk Beliefs
Protection
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Fountain Tradition

Almost every University of Southern California student knows that in order for seniors to graduate they must run through every fountain on campus right before they take their spring senior finals. Neither my informant nor I know the origins of how this tradition started. Pretty much every one hears about this tradition when they tour the school or become a student. I have heard the story from multiple different places. My friend told me that recently administration is trying to stop this tradition. She elaborated, “last year they put fences around all of the fountains two weeks before finals. The ‘official’ story was that the fountains were under repair before graduation. The year before that they drained the fountains claiming that they were trying to conserve water during the drought. But I heard that a few students fell during a fountain run one year so the administration wants to stop kids from doing it to avoid a lawsuit. They try to beat around the bush when it comes to addressing the issue. I wish they would stop and just let seniors have this one thing.”

 

My friend is a computer science major. As part of the computer science community she collects and forwards a myriad of folklore specific to this unique group. Computer science folklore is unique and reflects the beliefs and the culture of the group. Per my informant, as well as personal experience, computer science majors have a unique sense of humor that develops from the difficult coursework, the long hours spent on the computer coding, and the group dynamic required to get through the major. This humor is often expressed through memes and jokes only members of this group can understand and appreciate.

 

I understand the university’s need to keep students safe. I feel like they could be more understanding and ingenious about how they solve this problem. Clearly this tradition is very important to students. Instead of just shutting it down the university should find ways to allow the students to participate safely. In addition, the university is full of intelligent students who are more than capable of figuring out ways around these barriers. I have yet to see what they come up with, but I am sure that if the tradition is important enough they will find a way.

general

Computer Science Joke

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In the beginning of the semester my professor reviewed shortest path algorithms. Essentially the algorithm finds the shortest path from point a to point b. These algorithms are incredibly useful in many everyday applications such as google maps. This picture is a larger scale version of the Trolley problem. The Trolley problem is predominantly a philosophical one in which you stand at a lever. You can pull the lever and change the course of the trolley or you can do nothing. The trolley has no brakes and is headed for two paths. Generally, one path has only one person and the other path has multiple people. Some versions just have one path have more people on the tracks than the other. The idea is that you cannot remove the people from the tracks. Your only power is with the lever. You decide who lives and dies. This meme combines the ideas of shortest path algorithms and the Trolley Problem. My friend showed this to me at the end of lecture. She said, “I think this solve our professor’s problem lol.” I found it funny.  The meme provides a possible solution to the Trolley problem. However, people disagree on how this situation should be handled. The main debate is centered around the question, “Does one person get to decide the fate of others? Is that fair?” It is not clear whether or not the shortest path algorithm would be the best solution to the problem. It is a presented as a silly or trivial solution. It opens the door to thinking about this philosophical problem in terms of an algorithm. My friend is a computer science major with a game development emphasis. As part of the computer science community she collects and forwards a myriad of folklore specific to this unique group. Computer science folklore is unique and reflects the beliefs and the culture of the group. Per my informant, as well as personal experience, computer science majors have a unique sense of humor that develops from the difficult coursework, the long hours spent on the computer coding, and the group dynamic required to get through the major. This humor is often expressed through memes and jokes only members of this group can understand and appreciate.

Humor

Computer Science Joke

While working with a few of my friends on a project for our software development class we were trying to figure out why we kept receiving a compilation error. We painstakingly went through every line of code until we finally found that we were just missing a semicolon. My friend turned to me and said “You know the semicolon has been the hide and seek champion since 1958.” The rest of us in the group laughed because this is such a common problem. Some code editors alert users to specific issues while others just give a general compiler error. I asked my friend where she learned the joke. She said that she heard it from one of our TA’s when he was debugging another student’s code. Other than that she is not sure of the origin. I believe that the joke probably developed soon after coding languages since this is a very common problem. My friend is a computer science and business administration major with a cybersecurity minor. As part of the computer science community he collects and forwards a myriad of folklore specific to this unique group. Computer science folklore is unique and reflects the beliefs and the culture of the group. Per my informant, as well as personal experience, computer science majors have a unique sense of humor that develops from the difficult coursework, the long hours spent on the computer coding, and the group dynamic required to get through the major. This humor is often expressed through memes and jokes only members of this group can understand and appreciate.

Folk speech
Humor
Riddle

Math joke/riddle

My mom must find numerous ways to engage her students since most people have a fear and hatred of math. She often attempts to tells jokes that relate to something she is teaching. She learned this joke from a colleague.  “You have a kitchen and there is a pot of water on the floor. How do you boil the pot of water? Simple, you pick up the pot of water, place it on the stove, and turn the stove on. Now, how do you boil a pot of water on the counter?…… You place it on the floor and use part A.” My mom likes this joke because it resembles how one would use an existing proof in another proof. She also likes it because it has a deceptively easy answer that most people don’t think of. My mom has a degree in biochemistry and a Master’s degree in educations. She teaches math to high schoolers. She enjoys doing math puzzles and learning to code. As a result, she has collected an enormous amount of folklore. Predominantly from her students, but also from colleagues and conferences. Some of this folklore is unique to each niche while other pieces span multiple groups. This provides a unique perspective on folklore from these rather similar groups. Since my mom and I are quite similar I think the joke is funny for very similar reasons. Since I do a lot of proofs for my classes I think the answer to this joke is a “oh duh” moment. I usually have one of those when I finally figure out how to solve a problem and prove the answer. There is generally one step that makes the whole answer fit together and most of the time it is something annoyingly obvious. This joke just reminds me of those moments which are funny looking back on them, but while I was working on the problem they weren’t so funny.

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