Here's an interview quiz I wrote for all of you - my LJ friends and other readers of this blog.
It's the first one I have written of this type. I'd appreciate any comments, critiques, or suggestions on how to improve these.
Please take the questions and post your answers here or in your own LJ.
1. Name a book, other than a sacred text, that you believe every scientist should read.
Not having read Russell and Whitehead's Principia Mathematica nor Polya's landmark How To Solve It (it's on my list, honest!), I would have to name Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs by Abelson, Sussman, and Sussman as my recommendation. Trust me, it isn't just for computer scientists, nor only for engineers.
2. Relate a poignant event from any dream you have had.
I once (1998 or so) dreamed that my father was a Starfleet general and that I (a Starfleet officer) was assigned to guard him from Maquis. They almost succeeded in kidnapping him several times, whereupon I realized that his security detail was insufficient, so on the next attack I threw myself into the path of a disruptor shot aimed at him. I learned that one almost never feels it when one is shot in dreams.
3. Tell me something about your life history you haven't written about in your journal before.
I skipped the last two years of high school (11th-12th grade) and the first year of university.
4. Tell me something that anyone who has met you in person knows, but few people who know you online are aware of.
I am of average height for an American, but above average height for an East Asian (5'10+" or 178cm).
5. Without describing your appearance, tell me something that anyone who has seen your photograph probably realizes.
I am quite nearsighted.
6. If you could have 1-365 days off to write your ultimate short story, what would it be about? (Alternatively, tell me about the best book you have read in one sitting.)
(I will answer both, because I wrote the question.)
My ultimate short story, to date, would be about a mysteriously abandoned empire of moderately high technology, absent of almost its entire populace, save for some outlying colonies. Only a few young children remain. The story evokes some others such as King's "Children of The Corn" (a short story from Night Shift, the original Doom plot, and the old Apple ][gs game Alien Mind, but that's as far as the similarities go. Scientists of the abandoned empire had recently stumbled upon an artifact of a technologically-advanced precursor race, but there is no evidence of a mass exodus. To learn more, you'll have to read the story when I finish it. :-)
The only book I have ever read in one sitting, save possibly a book or two of The Belgariad by David Eddings, is the novelization of Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace by Terry Brooks. I came close to finishing Interview With The Vampire by Anne Rice in one sitting, and that was better than either, IMO.
7. If you are still in secondary school, what is your favorite subject? If you are attending college or university, or have graduated, what is your current (or past) major?
At Hopkins, I was a double major in Computer Science and Mathematical Sciences (formerly Industrial Engineering and Operations Research). At Illinois, I majored in Computer Science.
Here are three more optional questions for TEUNCs:
8. If TEUNC had unlimited resources, and you could choose to moot with any TEUNCs you pleased, where would you like the moot to be?
I'd still like it to be in a place where as many TEUNCs as possible would feel comfortable attending - probably in Western Europe or Southern California - but where none of us actually live (so it would not be boring for anyone and no one would feel especially obligated to play host or tour guide).
9. Name 3 features that tend to distinguish TEUNC men from other men. Please explain your answer.
First, to get the bovious one out of the way: zaniness; 'nuff said. Second, I think many TEUNC men are considerably more sensitive than most, for better or for worse. By this, I don't mean "thin-skinned", as not all of us are, nor "vulnerable" - at least, enough of us are well-adjusted enough to put the kibosh on any such broad sweeping generalization. I just think the appreciation of Tolkien and TEUNC's special flavor of oddball humor makes us somewhat more empathic. Third, I think we tend to pick up on subtlety more than other guys. This is partly from years of reading each others' posts and chatting for hours upon a Saturday afternoon, so that we practically finish each others' sentences; it is also from gradual ratcheting up of the crypticness/subtlety of even our public messages. How does the old Eagles song "The Sad Café" put it?
And we would sing right out loud
The things we dared not say...
10. Name 3 features that tend to distinguish TEUNC women from other women. Please explain your answer.
The first would have to be their candor and unsqueamishness. Get to know a TEUNCette - they are the greatest friends - and you may be so fortunate (or sometimes unfortunate ;-)) as to experience this. Second is their intelligence. A cynic would aver that it isn't TEUNC women who are getting smart, it's TEUNC men who are getting dumber, but not I (though I suppose that is also plausible if you think about it). Third, IMHO, is their warmth. Some TEUNC women are especially sweet, and some are kind - if you know me, you know I don't make this attribution lightly. I suppose I cheated a bit in doubling up on adjectives, but hey, it's my quiz. :-)
Oh, and thanks to whomever put Bob Marley's "Man Smart, Woman Smarter" on my TEUNC CD. ^_~
Edit, 23:45 CST - Answers from istari_ala, gondhir, and Haxie have made me realize what is wrong with the phrasing of questions #9 and #10 above. Being a probabilist, I mean "distinguish" in a statistical data clustering sense rather than a categorical sense. i.e., I mean "name three characteristics that tend to be more strongly expressed in TEUNC men (or women) you know than on average among men (or women) of your acquaintance", not "name three properties that are universally true of all TEUNC men (or women) and universally false of all non-TEUNC men (or women)". I'm just getting nitpixed on that word "distinguish", is my guess. You're all just symbolic logicians in hmunsa form, sent to plague a poor, honest, God-fearing Bayesian! ;-)
Actually, I'd written a reply to one of Ala's posts that clarified the above p6int, but wouldn't you know it, dinner got in the way. :-P
And just to clarify: I'm not out to promulgate any stereotypes. I personally think it's valid to talk about general trends in a small group or subdemographic (TEUNC) versus society as a whole. Of course there are exceptions; single individuals are unpredictable. Conslut yer Asimov!
One of me! Quadrillions of them!
- The Mule
Edit, 23:50 CST: Anyone filling out the TEUNC questions - please see my clarifying remark.