December 3rd, 2003

determined, chalk, flying

Course Change

I'm going to try to change my course plans for next semester. I'll exchange CS241, Algorithms And Data Structures, for Math 233, Calculus III.

It's a weird change. I'll have finished two years of Computer Science (101-102-201-241) in one year. In exchange, I will not be completing the Calculus II-III path in one year as all engineers are expected to, and will be taking a 14-credit semester.

It's a good trade-off for me, if I'm allowed to do it despite the Calculus expectation. I'm currently doing badly in Calculus, but not from theory error. I understand the Calculus part of Calculus II- but I'm screwing up the algebra. I am unable to do relatively basic math- I'm understanding the Calculus perfectly, I just can't execute it because I'm fucking up completing the square. Or anything involving trigenometry. This is not a situation likely to miraculously correct itself in time for Calc III.

My math professor, Ms. Apfel, already agrees with this assessment; she doesn't think that my exam grade really reflects my level of ability. There's nothing she can do about it, but she agrees that I'm better than I seem to be- from how I frequently demonstrate full comprehension in class by answering more than my fair share of the questions she poses to the students- in full. And I can explain exactly what's going on with the calculus elements of a problem- I just can't do the algebra to come up with an answer. Or, for that matter, the trig. Or the arithmatic.

So I think I'd best delay on Calculus III for a while until I've gotten better at this sort of thing; I'll be actively seeking help. My Calc III grade isn't going to be any better than this C I'm getting in Calculus... and probably worse, without the Calculus lab (yes, there's a Calc II lab) to boost the score.

The Calc III requirement is probably because it's required for many Mechanical Engineering courses. But all the Computer Science courses that I really want don't need it; this isn't a class that I'll need as a prereq until at least my junior year. It would be foolish to destroy my GPA filling an arbitrary request for me to have it done in a year when said request really isn't helpful to me in the slightest.

But will The SystemTM let me not take Calculus III?

I'll register tomorrow without it. Then I'll ask my advisor if it's okay. I'd be able to change it- the 9:00a Calculus section is not inclined to fill up- but I hope I can take it like this. Even if it means an appointment with the Dean, or an assistant of said person, I'll see what I can do to avoid screwing myself over AGAIN, getting myself depressed about inane algebraic mistakes AGAIN, and killing my GPA AGAIN when it's completely unneccesary and pointless.

On the flip side- I did need Calculus II for Physics. And I can apply it fine there, just not in Calculus class. Go figure.
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My bogometer just redlined

Actually, the needle broke against the high-end stop.

Bogometer: n. Notional device to measure bogosity.

Bogosity: n. The degree to which something is bogus.

I am not proud to admit that this bullshit is from a Washington University professor... a tenured Washington University professor. Cut off the extention on the URL, check the site of the prof in question, and draw your own conclusions about his bogosity. Especially with the footnote about blood drives.

Remind me never to take a class under Jon Katz.

This was brought to light in a recent Student Life editorial; J. Katz had ranted (correctly, IMHO) against Stephen Wolfram's lecture (primary objection, and a reasonable one: it was crackpot science), and a recent counter-letter brought this interesting web-site content to light while urging the firing of the profasshole in question. Good quote from the letter:

"He objected to Washington University allowing a crackpot to speak for a day. What about the crackpots who speak daily?"

I doubt that anything can be done about Dr. Katz; I don't think he's done anything actually firable. But that doesn't mean I have to accept him as a professor- I'll delay a course if it means I don't have to have a class under him.
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