Author Archives: Emily Wittkowske

Computer Science Taboo

Within computer science there are a few phrases that are considered taboo. For example, “this class is easy”, “how bad can the midterm really be”, “Oh my god it works, it really works”, or “it’s all downhill from here”. These taboo phrases probably extend to most majors and life in general. I collected these phrases from a computer science major so the motivation behind the phrases is specific to this major. My friend from whom I collected the phrases informed me that when these phrases are spoken they cast some sort of spell that makes the worst possible thing happen. She told me a story about the time she questioned the difficulty of a midterm. She said, “So I had to take this midterm the next day. I had been studying for a while and felt pretty confident with the material. I was talking to a friend in the class and we were discussing how to study for the midterm and what we needed to study. We both felt rather confident about the material. My friend then uttered the unspeakable phrase, ‘I mean how bad could the midterm really be since we have studied for it.” I immediately responded with ‘Dear god don’t say that. You will make the midterm worse.’ While I know that saying this phrase doesn’t actually change how the professor creates the midterm. But it always seems to make the midterm feel worse when the phrase is uttered just beforehand. My friend did end up doing worse on the midterm than I did. Which just adds credibility to the superstition.” I know that I have often misjudged the difficulty of a midterm. I think that the “truth” behind this taboo phrase is that once uttered the motivation and quality of studying goes down. Once I feel confident about a test I don’t study as hard for it. Over studying is always better than not studying enough. In order to keep the motivation to study for a tough exam one should not utter this phrase or gain too much confidence before the exam.

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.

Coding Joke

“How do you comfort a JavaScript bug?………..You console it.”

 

My friend learned this piece from another computer science class. 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.

He told the joke to me while we were working on an assignment together. We were writing JavaScript for our website project for a class that we are in together. We were trying to debug our JavaScript code. The bug was being particularly tricky to find and fix. Therefore, he remembered the joke. He then turned to me and told me the joke.

The humor of the joke comes from the wordplay on the words “bug” and “console”.  The normal use of the word bug refers to a small creature, usually an insect. However, in the computer science world it refers to a problem in the code that is often hard to find and sometimes hard to fix. In order to “comfort” or fix the bug, one must find it. Generally, in order to find the “bug” the programmer prints out statements to the console. This allows the programmer to find where the program is doing something incorrectly.

I found this joke particularly amusing because debugging programs is one of the main problems programmers face. The joke implies that it is easy to find the bug if you simply print it to the console. However, a majority of the time bugs are not that easy to find and fix. The irony as well as the word play make the joke.

 

Computer Science Joke

My sister was watching one of her favorite television shows, Naval Criminal Investigative Service or NCIS for short. During one of the episodes a camera panned to a poster on a back wall that contained this quote. She thought of me, paused the episode, and called me into the room. She then rewound the episode and told me to watch.  Right before the sign was about to appear she yelled “watch, watch, watch!” Then the quote appeared on the screen. “There are 10 types of people in this world. Those who understand binary and those who don’t.”  As soon as I saw the quote I started laughing. She then asked me to explain what it meant because she didn’t understand the joke. I then explained that 10 in binary means two. Thus the quote reads, “There are two types of people in this world. Those who understand binary and those who don’t.”  This translation makes sense everyone. The humor of the joke comes from the fact that people who don’t understand binary won’t be able to understand the joke.

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.

I thought it was thoughtful of her to pass on this saying to me even though she didn’t fully understand it.

Math Proverb

A while ago I was trying to learn the quadratic formula for my algebra class. It was particularly hard for me to memorize the entire formula. There are a lot of variables and signs that are in the formula. I asked my mom for help remembering the formula. She then told me a pneumonic device that she used to learn the formula herself. She learned it from one of her math teachers. I have also heard this phrase from a number of different math teachers. There are slightly different versions of the phrase. “The negative boy couldn’t decide whether or not to go to the square party, but the square boy didn’t want to miss out on four awesome chicks and the party was all over at two am.” 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 this phrase very helpful for remembering all of the parts to the quadratic formula. It is much easier to remember this phrase than just the actual formula which is why is has been passed down from math teachers to students. For this piece of folklore, the math teachers are often the active bearers. The students who learn the phrase and master the formula often become active bearers when a teacher is not present. Students who do not know the phrase are the passive bearers.

Computer Science Joke

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My friend Adam found this while he was taking a break from working on an assignment. He began hysterically laughing at his computer and I looked at him mystified. It took a few moments for him to control his laughter. Then he showed me his computer screen with this picture on it. I too found this image incredibly funny. After I finished laughing I was curious to see why he thought the image was funny. He told me that he thought the image reflected the irony found in the computer science major lifestyle. Often, when working on assignments programmers find something that seems like it will be a blessing. For example, solving an error or finding a helpful example or explanation of a concept online. While this helps for a little while another problem often arises very closely after this first problem is solved. I thought this image was funny for another reason. As a computer science major, we often don’t talk about much else than computer science. When we try to talk about other things we often digress back to talking about some sort of computer science topic. In the image the little girl experiences a similar situation with the pony.  Her reaction in the last frame is very similar to my reaction when I realize that we have digressed back to a computer science topic.

Adam 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.

Computer Science Joke

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My friend and I were working on creating algorithms for our homework. We got stuck and decided to look at the lecture notes for help. The notes went over how to improve the runtime on some basic sorting algorithms. I was having trouble understanding the quicksort algorithm, so my friend googled it to see if she could find an article, video, or picture to help me understand the concept. After sifting through the search results for a while she found a helpful article. I was still having trouble visualizing the concept so my friend switched to the images tab on google. We found a few helpful images and then this one catch her eye. She clicked on the image and began laughing. As soon as I processed what was happening I began laughing too.

One of the main problems that computer scientists face is improving the runtime of algorithms. Sorting algorithms take a particular precedence since they are used to improve the runtime of other more advanced algorithms. The meme plays on the fact that if you run a different sorting algorithm you can’t get the horrible runtime it receives. It doesn’t fix the problem but it makes life easier for a little while. 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.

College Finals Myth

Common myths that become quite popular around midterms and finals are ones about how to get an easy A in a class or just passing the final. The one that I come across the most is how to get an A in the class without taking the final. The way to achieve this is to experience a great personal loss about a week before finals. The exact details vary from active bearer to active bearer. My friend Adam told me that if someone in the class dies during the final that the whole class is rumored to receive A’s. My friend Sara told me that as long as a close family member, a brother, sister, or parent, dies within a week or two of the final that the student doesn’t have to take the final and receives an A all of their classes. My sister informed me that if the student has a personal trauma such as a horrible car accident or medical emergency usually within a few days of the final that the student can then become exempt from the final exam and receive an A in the class. 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, Adam, 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. 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.

Whether or not this actually happens depends on a myriad of factors such as the student’s grade in the class before the misfortune or the student’s relationship with the professor. One of my professors told our class that he had a student miss the final exam due to a medical emergency. The student made proper arrangements to make up the exam. However, the professor looked at the student’s grades and calculated what the student needed on the final to receive an A in the class. As it turned out the student needed to fail the final in order to not receive an A in the class. Since the professor deemed this highly unlikely he allowed the student to skip the final and gave the student an A.

My friends and I often joke about this myth right around finals time. Usually as we get ready to take the final one person in the group will ask “So who is gonna take one for the team and die during the final so that the rest of us can get an A?” Last finals season I became the “chosen one”. I volunteered since I was already really sick throughout finals. We have yet to actually test the myth to find out whether or not it is actually true.

Driving Superstition

I was driving with my friend and we safely went through a yellow light. She kissed her hand and touched the roof of the car. I thought she was just being strange so I ignored it. Then she did it a few more times later during the trip. I was worried and annoyed that she thought I was a bad driver. So, I asked her what she was doing. She replied, “Oh sorry it’s just a habit. My mom taught me to do it so now I just do it all the time. It’s just something that makes sure we stay safe in the car. It doesn’t really mean anything haha I just do it.” I was relieved that she didn’t actually think that I was a bad driver. It was just a superstition that she believed in.

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 have heard of a few driving superstitions but I don’t actively take part in any myself. I drive 15 hours a week for work since I work for a driving service. It might be that I drive so much in Los Angeles that I just expect other drivers to cut me off or stop randomly. I have never felt a need to take part in a superstition that should protect me. There have definitely been a few close calls which is just a part of driving in Los Angeles. The roads are super narrow, there is always construction, and there are always too many people. I have never attributed my ability to drive safely to any sort of superstition or outside force. My friend’s superstition made her feel comfortable and safe when she performed it. It didn’t bother me that she needed to perform this superstition. I just found it interesting especially since she drives a lot less than I do. It would seem more plausible that I should have more driving superstitions since I am always in the car.

Water Polo/Sports Superstition

My sister plays water polo. For every game each player has a cap that has a specific number on it. My sister always has to have her “lucky number 12” cap. She feels that it gives her the most luck for the game. She says that when she doesn’t have this cap she plays worse. One time she finished a game. I was cheering for her the whole time. When she was done I told her “great game!” She replied, “it should have been better but I didn’t have my cap. I got stuck with this lame cap. At least it wasn’t an odd number though. That would really bug me.” She doesn’t have any logical reason for disliking odd numbers other than the fact that “they are just odd, yes the pun was intended”.  Her “lucky number 12” cap is just a superstition that she has. If she thinks she plays better with the cap then that’s all that really matters. I think she is a great player either way. Maybe the cap helps calm her nerves and helps her focus through the game.

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.

 

Many people have superstitions that they swear by. I don’t have many superstitions personally. I did have one when I ran track. On meet days, my friend would always have un-matching socks while I always had to have matching socks. It started unconsciously as something we just sort of did. Then one time we had a bad meet where neither of us did well. We noticed that I had the un-matching socks while she had the matching socks and we attributed the bad meet to the socks. After that we always followed this superstition. Then when something bad happened we attributed it to our performance instead since we had followed our sock rule. This superstition is fairly similar to my sister’s “lucky number 12.” Superstitions about sports are often very specific to the athlete. It can often be a lucky number, article of clothing, or pre-game ritual.

Lochness Monster Legend

My friend Henry who is of predominantly Irish decent told me a story about the Lochness monster. He heard this story from his cousin who is half Scottish. He said, “So my cousin saw the monster. He went looking for it. He was just walking around the lake trying to be casual and calm. He would stop at different points around the loche and just sit and watch the water for the monster. The first few times he went to the loche he didn’t see anything. But he had full faith that the monster is real. So he kept going back ya know. Then on a cloudy day in March he saw it. He was sitting in one of his usual viewing spots and he saw something stir the calm water. He pulled out his binoculars and looked that the disrupted spot. He watched for what he said was hours but really he has a short attention span so it was probably like ten minutes. He said that he saw a dark figure emerge from the water. He said he saw flippers but then a boat horn went off and the monster disappeared. This was not enough to convince me that the monster actually exists. I still think it is just a legend. My cousin couldn’t give me any proof of the monster. People have been creating hoaxes for years. I won’t believe it until I see it with my own eyes.” This is not an uncommon story. People have been ‘spotting’ the monster for years. Many research articles about the monster reference these sightings. One article that I have read believes that everyone can be split into believers and nonbelievers. Believers believe that the creature exists even if they haven’t seen it themselves. The nonbelievers need to see the creature with their own eyes before they will believe it. I would be classified as a nonbeliever. I would have to see the creature myself in order to fully believe in its existence.

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.

For more information about the legend check out this article:

Lyons, Stephen . “The Legend of Loch Ness.” PBS SoCal. Nova, 12 Jan. 1999. Web. 27 Mar. 2017. <http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/ancient/legend-loch-ness.html>.