Hey, I’ve learned Math since the last time. not quickmaffs, not Mos Def’s diatribal invective, but honest-to-god-numbers-on-a-page Maths.
Mathematics is such a massive and fundamentally relevant concept that any amount of distillation or dilution will miss the point Heinlein was making about the importance of being a competent mathmagician: you should be capable of understanding and solving the problem given enough time. Indeed, some mathmagicians solve things that weren’t even problems to begin with; Shizuo Kakutani wrote:
A drunk man will find his way home, but a drunk bird may get lost forever
As pretty as the sentiment is, Math has proven its beauty untrue:
Comprehension is the natural progenitor to the solving of mathematical problems, so a broad understanding of mathematics is your best place to start before going out into the world and starting a fight with the first big number you see. It’s also the first sticking point for yours truly, since I stopped taking maths seriously around the same time we were allowed to stop studying maths at school, which was around a decade ago at the time of writing. That’s left a solid layer of dust settled on the ol’ grey matter.
Luckily for us both, other people like maths a LOT and have provided the resources for us to join them in enthusing about obtuse angles, integral exponents and the time it takes for a bath of a given volume to fill with water flowing at a given rate while the unplugged drain lets water out at another given rate (knowing stuff like that would’ve helped that time I was home alone, angling for decadence but unwilling to watch a bath fill. 35 minutes into Smash Bros the decadence started spilling down the stairs.)
But before we Fosbury flop over the mental barrier that is number processing and land on the airy mat that is calculatory comprehension, here is the work of an excellent artist and an even better teacher, Hardy Fowler:
I found Hardy on this Udemy course that teaches art fundamentals on Photoshop, and his method and process clearly produce stunning works.
He also happens to be an awesome teacher, in case you also want to learn a thing or several about art, be that digital or theoretical. Highly recommend. He’s worked on dozens of 40K artworks, with a style reminiscent of Dishonored‘s concept artist Cedric Peyravernay (though less wrinkled in places).
- Solve Equations
Here’s a list of topics, with links to resources I found helpful in scrubbing up on them. The four bricks that make the fundament of mathematics help segregate the topics, but it should be clear that it’s all interconnected, man. This is obviously not comprehensive, nor is it very complex, but I found it to be a useful jumping off point for more complex searches.
If this list sounds about as fun and engaging as a gritty reboot of The Matrix directed by Michael Bay, starring Charlie Sheen somehow and a new actor playing Morpheus because Laurence Fishburne knew better, then worry not; those resources are tested and verified as worth your time.
If you struggle dealing with the struggle, this video by excellent youtuber Thomas Frank may get you through:
- Balance accounts
Remember that crucial skill we were taught at school, involving budgeting, understanding compound interest, factoring in risk and keeping a record of spending in a clear way? Yeah, me neither, and while I skived most of Psychology to play guitar at school I feel like I would’ve had the sense to learn this crucial skill had it ever been taught. Sad to say, it never was.
The ability to keep track of both assets and liabilities (assets being things that put money in your pocket, liabilities being things that take money out) as well as being comfortable looking at investment opportunities and interest rates are traits associated with financiers and treasurers, but we all interact with the same instruments whether we realise it or not. Your bank tracks how much you spend and when you spend it, and that same bank is more than comfortable looking at interest rates to squeeze the most out of your current account, through fees, upgraded accounts and overdraft usage charges. So if mo’ money is mo’ problems, maybe smarter money can be #GoodProblems.
C.R.E.A.M, after all.¹
Apps like Yolt and Plum can help analyse the money you’re already spending. Yolt especially helped me realise my liabilities (Netflix, NOWTV and Amazon Prime in particular) were putting too much pressure on my finances, leaving me with very little walking-around money at the end of the month. Plum seems different in that it focuses on painless saving rather than thoughtful spending.
Alternatively, you might want to make your savings go to work for you instead of sitting still. After all, fiat money is a liability. (it can only leave your pocket); Consider using services like Moneybox which round up your card purchases and invest your change in various funds at varying risk levels. Moneybox explains portfolio investing quite well, discussing how diverse investing can mitigate against losses across the board (a dip in property prices is unlikely to affect your income from oil investment, as an example)
But what about a more hands-on method? for my money (hehehe) nothing beats manual input spreadsheets, with nested-IF functions that conditionally format cells to put my remaining funds in the red or black based on milestones set at various points in the week or month. MakeUseOf’s example spreadsheet may give you some good ideas, but be flexible enough to modify it to your needs (and feel free to add macros that tally your ‘problematic spends’, which is what I did. Whenever I bought monster energy drinks I’d have to press a button that gently reminded me such beverages are likely curdling me from the inside out. Whatever you need to do to get your house in order.
- Set A Bone
I’m gonna be real on this one, watching bones being set is a trauma in and of itself. Having never broken a bone before I’ve never had to face the white hot, desperate pain of a snapped tib or fib, but to paraphrase Max Weber (or Georg Simmel) one need not break a bone in order to understand broken bones.
The reason for setting a bone after a break are obvious, but important: since the body’s inflammation response to trauma kicks in quickly and repairs follow soon after, a misplaced section of bone can fuse back together awkwardly and impair muscular function and/or restrict mobility in the affected muscle group. The process of bones healing is a pretty nifty system in itself, requiring cells that clean the area of germs and debris, then other, specialized cells that create new bone material, then other specialized cells that eat away the excess bone material so the finished product resembles the pre-break bone.
But how do we get the bone fragments to line up in the first place? Well, essentially, it involves a lot of training and/or an iron will, since most of the times a non-professional will need to do this will be without anesthetic. Having a pal with a broken arm screaming at you to stop fiddling with the distal (furthest part from the heart) bit of his appendage will not be fun. But if needs must, here’s how to go about it.
For a more… visual demonstration, the video below is as rough and ready as you might expect.
- Act alone
At the risk of repeating myself, Satre said:
if you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company
which nicely frames the problem of loneliness as self-inflicted. Whether or not you think that’s a true or valuable stance to take, it does foreground the solution to it; Change your behaviour, or change your outlook. Either one changes your perception of your situation, hopefully for the better.
To achieve this, I recommend Headspace. It’s a mindfulness app, which essentially means it reminds you to meditate daily, and provides audio clips to help you do so. It’s good, I swear. focusing on your feelings towards your thoughts does wonders for nixxing the thoughts you wish you didn’t have.
MOVING ON, AGAIN
- The Music of Janelle Monáe
This is how I imagine Prince sounded to people that liked his work. No offence, I’m bad at liking musical leviathans.
But yeah, this is such a Princely song, it shouldn’t surprise you to know the man formerly known as himself was involved in its production. reminiscent of the last song heard before The Fox kicks you out, it lives for the ever so slightly manic swagger that Janelle lays down heavier and heavier as the song builds. Big fan, big track.
Until next time.