Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Yes, No, NULL

There's a concept in computer programing that, despite people's claims to the contrary, actually does translate to human interaction. Booleans.

A boolean is a type of variable. A variable is something that can have a value or no value. It's basically a label for something else. For instance. I see something that no-one has ever seen before. It exists by all means of physical measurement (sight, sound, touch, etc) but it has yet to be categorized. It requires a label... something that describes it. We use labels ALL the time. Human, Dog, Wheelbarrow, Tissue, Cassette, Bumblebee, etc. NOUNS!

Regardless, it's just a label used to describe something. That is a variable. It's a label that's used to describe SOMETHING.

Now, variables come in all types. Types are yet ANOTHER label. It's something to further describe that thing we're trying to desribe. There are String Variables which means that whatever the variable is pointing at is made up of characters like letters, numbers, punctuation marks, etc. There are Integer Variables which means that what the variable is pointing at is a whole number within a certain range.

Then there are Boolean Variables. Boolean Variables mean that what the variable is pointing at is either a Yes or a No, a True or a False, a 1 or a 0.

Now... I want to get back to something that I said at the beginning of the second paragraph. A variable is something that can have a value ... or no value.

Yup, EVERYTHING can have NO VALUE. If you think of a variable like a box, the box may be specifically designed to hold something. But it could be holding NOTHING. This means that the contents of that box haven't been filled yet.

Now... boolean variables are like yes/no questions.

"Do you love me?"
"Are you going to come back?"
"Are we going to keep acting like this?"

These are yes/no questions at their root... the answer is whatever the variable (or question) is pointing to. The problem is that even though it can only be Yes or No... it can also be NULL. Meaning, there is no answer yet.

Assumption #1: NULL means YES. This is obviously not the case even though it's been burned into our brains for so long. Consider the following latin phrase often used in law: Qui tacet consentire videtur which translates to "He who is silent is understood to consent" or "You're not defending yourself or disagreeing or providing any proof to the contrary so you must be agreeing with what I said."

This is crap.

Assumption #2: NULL means NO. This is obviously just as fallacious as the first. However, this the next step in human reasoning. It goes like this: If NULL doesn't mean yes... and Booleans can only have a value of Yes or No, NULL must mean No.

This, too, is crap.

NULL simply means, I don't know yet. I know what TYPE of answer belongs here, but I don't know WHICH answer belongs here yet.

These questions are ALSO based on states. And those states are always in flux.

"Is there someone named 'Fancy Mr. Stinkyteets' on this planet?"

Can you really answer that question with a Yes or No answer? Probably not without researching it, verifying it and proving it. Even then, considering the nature of change on this planet, can you ever come up with a 100% verifiable answer of "No?" "Well, there WAS... but he died yesterday... but there might be another somewhere, or someone I asked before might have changed their name by now."

"Is there a dinosaur in my back yard?"

When asked during the Jurassic period, the answer to that could be Yes. Today, more than likely that would be No.

"So what's all the hubbub about anyway? Why go through all this? You're boring me already!" ... Right?

If someone says, "I don't know" don't make the mistakes I did by assuming this answer to be synonymous with True or False. Accept that True and False are simply concepts that help us determine actions. Accept that "I don't know" (or NULL) is simply something to indicate that action is required before an answer can be given.

Also, don't be afraid of True, False or NULL. They've existed since time immortal and will continue to exist even after we are dead and buried. Understand how these concepts play out in our lives to adjust our emotions, actions and motivations.

So... if you're struggling today... trying to figure out the answer to a question whose answer you KNOW is NULL at the moment, don't fret and don't worry about it. It may be YOUR question... but it's not YOUR answer. The answer will be there eventually.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Interesting Idea... Still Full of Crap

My mother is one of my readers here. I'm not sure how many others are reading (I know there's a couple of you out there though) but this is an interesting letter she forwarded to me. It's a story that claims to prove the existence of God even with so much pain and suffering in the world. It goes like this:

A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation. They talked about so many things and various subjects.
When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: 'I don't believe that God exists..'

'Why do you say that?' asked the customer.

'Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain! I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things.'

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop.

Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber 'You know what? Barbers do not exist.'

'How can you say that?' asked the surprised barber. 'I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!'

'No!' the customer exclaimed. 'Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside!'

'Ah, but barbers DO exist! That's what happens when people do not come to me.'

'Exactly!' affirmed the customer. 'That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! That's what happens when people do not go to Him and don't look to Him for help. That's why there's so much pain and suffering in the world.'

Here's what I wrote back:

Cute, mom. Although the logic suffers. It's similar to what's called casual correlation. In Latin the phrase is "Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc" which translates as "after this, therefore because of this."

It's the belief that since Event B occurred after Event A occurred, Event B must have happened BECAUSE of Event A. The man's long hair and beard doesn't mean he didn't go to a barber. It means his hair grew naturally without interference from outside influences. It is conceivable that he went to a barber and was refused treatment. Perhaps he didn't smell right, look right, didn't have enough money, whatever. There are plenty of possibilities.

This is where words and logic fail to describe concepts like God and Love.

It's a beautiful notion that all one has to do is go to a Barber and ask for a haircut... and that just by asking they will receive one. But realistically, that doesn't work. Of course, the barber's original statement about God not existing was fallacious too. His concept of God did not fit into the reality he lives in and therefore "disproved" the existence of God. The only thing he disproved, however, was his idea of God. Proving or disproving a metaphysical concept based on physical results is something only we humans do. But it helps us sleep at night. :)

Regardless... *I* Love you and always will. :)

And I do love you, Mom. Proud to say it to the world, too. :)

Monday, October 12, 2009

Reason, Season, Lifetime, Bullshit

People come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. When you figure out which it is, you know exactly what to do.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a need you have expressed outwardly or inwardly. They have come to assist you through a difficulty, to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend, and they are. They are there for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrong doing on your part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk away. Sometimes they act up or out and force you to take a stand. What we must realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled; their work is done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and it is now time to move on.

When people come into your life for a SEASON, it is because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn. They may bring you an experience of peace or make you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons; those things you must build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person/people (anyway); and put what you have learned to use in all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

That is ALL CRAP by the way. Complete and utter bullshit. It's poetry. It was someone's way of categorizing people and putting them in little boxes. It's VERY VERY self-centered. And it cuts like a knife when someone uses it against you in a "positive life-affirming way.

This isn't the first time I've been given this lecture either. I'm getting kinda tired of this easy-out shit, personally. Especially from people who promise to be there with me for the long haul. It's no wonder I've never taken vows. I've yet to find anyone who can seriously agree to stick with me through good times and bad, through rich or poor, in sickness and health, til death do we part. Mind you, this is just as much crap as the other. More words used to define shit and make up something to believe in. It's not real, at least not for me. It's not happened yet and it's pissing me off. Can you tell?

Again, it seems that once we identify something, it stops being what we identified it to be and chooses to be something else. Why can't I find someone where it's just natural. Where there's no need to define it, describe it, identify it, label it, record it, pigeon-hole it, whatever to it? I'm over it! If you're trying to figure out life, you're working too hard and wasting precious time!

With that said, I'm going to get some work done.