Meme: Easy and hard things to learn

This is my first attempt at a blog meme. With any luck my friends will get me off to a good start by helping me catapult the propaganda. Some may object that it’s off topic. Perhaps, although one of my reasons for being an anagorist is the market’s tendency to turn vocation-finding into a trial-and-error exercise. This meme is an exercise in assessing my strong and weak suits and maybe even coming up with an effective (if belated) strategy for dealing with that particular Reality.

The gist of the meme is to list three things in the course of your lifelong learning that came as natural as falling off a log, especially if they strike you as possessing elegance, expository power, arousal of curiosity, or best of all, a lot of formerly disparate concepts somehow “fall into place.” The other list is three things that are utterly opaque to your mind, that you have made repeated attempts to learn, but for some reason or other, you just don’t seem to be meant to learn these things.

Three things that make things make sense to me

  1. Taylor’s theorem
    This is typically part of the second semester Calculus curriculum. This tied a lot of things together for me. Having already learned that polynomials are the easiest functions to differentiate/integrate, it comes as a relief to find out that all analytical functions are polynomials.
  2. SQL
    Stands for “Structured Query Language.” It’s the language at the heart of most relational database software. For me, at least, it has the gentlest learning curve of all the computer languages. Granted, that’s comparing a data definition language to programming language, but from what I’ve seen since then of the former, the designation still stands. The relational model is the way that I (without knowing it) always organized facts inside my skull. Taking a database course and encountering SQL gave me the easy means to communicate a lot of what I had been thinking for a long time.
  3. double entry bookkeeping
    I never took a course in this. I encountered this idea because one day out of boredom I took a peek inside an accounting textbook. I was dumbfounded by the elegance. This is how you implement a relational database when you don’t have computer technology.

Three things that I simply don’t grok

  1. macroeconomics
    The NIPA (national income and product account) of macroeconomics bears superficial resemblance to the balance sheet of accounting. But the appeal in that was the relational integrity; the way all the reports are derived entirely from the information in the journals. Macroeconomics would make sense as reverse engineering, but instead is a compendium of official statistics. Macroeconomics reads like alphabet soup to me. Its definitions of terms are wordy, and 90% disclaimers by weight. Try as I might, I simply can’t wrap my head around macroeconomics.
  2. statistics
    While generally competent at math, this particular branch of math eludes me. Sure, I can do cookbook statistics, but even that I have to look up because I can’t remember the formulas or the procedures. An intuitive understanding of significance tests and the like completely eludes me.
  3. object oriented programming
    While I find it elegant to call methods on predefined objects such as columns or rows or whatever of an Excel worksheet with Visual Basic, the class definitions involved in writing object oriented programs from scratch is something I could never find the patience for. It just seems like you have to write many many lines of code just setting things up before you can write code that does things. I can see the advantages of object oriented programming for group projects, but never having managed to break into the profession, my only opportunities to program are whatever projects I take up for my own amusement, and they seem to be small enough to be less hassle without object oriented rubrics.

About n8chz

पृथ्वी की उच्च किराया जिले में उद्यमिता कौशल अभाव
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9 Responses to Meme: Easy and hard things to learn

  1. marjaerwin says:

    I really can’t think of the easy things right now; I tend to take them for granted.

    Hard things for me:

    1. Formulae. Mathematical reasoning was never especially difficult for me, but mathematical formulae would drive me nuts. I could never memorize the damn things, and could never figure out what I was supposed to use them for.

    2. Languages. I’ve always had trouble, even with my first language, although I’ve practiced with some others. I have just as much trouble with non-verbal cues. I can’t read other people’s expressions and they misread mine.

    3. Authoritarianism. It just doesn’t make sense. I can never understand what on earth those people are thinking, or why, and they only answer with nonsense about ‘loyalty,’ or ‘obedience,’ or ‘family values,’ which seem to mean heteropatriarchal values, or ‘it’s the rules,’ which leaves me wondering why it’s a rule, or ‘if you don’t like capitalism, go to Moscow!’

    • n8chz says:

      I always had strong enough symbol manipulation skills that I generally didn’t have to memorize many formulas, as I could generally derive them on the spot during an exam. I did memorize the more “central” formulas from which the others were derived, such as Coulomb’s Law, etc. No science coursework beyond first year, though.

  2. Pingback: Meme: Easy and Hard Things to Learn « Clarissa's Blog

  3. Z says:


    1. Foreign languages, my native language, math, programming, anything you can look at as a system or acquire as a system.
    2. Travel, integrating into foreign cultures, seeing where other people are coming from.
    3. Archery.


    1. The 12 steps: I was assigned these from Al-Anon and came to the conclusion you’d have to be a really different person than I am, come from a much more psychologically twisted background, for these to be a relief.
    2. Conversations wherein the point is to talk but not to say anything real.
    3. Team sports, esp. basketball and football, the militaristic atmosphere surrounding these.

    • n8chz says:

      I get the impression that the 12 steps paradigm is something designed for a 100% fail rate, being modeled of course after the Doctrine of Original Sin.

  4. Great meme! I borrowed it for my blog.

  5. Pingback: Insert Preconception Here: Meme: Easy and hard things to learn

  6. human mathematics says:

    macro: take a cobb-douglas function, K fixed = short run and variable K = long run. Add IS-LM and one’s favourite politics.

    stats: there is no intuition to the classical tests, they’re just answers to gedankenexperimenten. Check out letter value plots, interquartile range, and the bayesian model Pr(θ | data)

    oop: Instead of saying what to do explicitly, you make up some characters and play God.

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