Wednesday, June 25, 2008

An Intro to Python

I guess some of you (although I'm not entirely sure who "you" are/is..." were wondering: "This blog's called Forensic Python, and we've seen a little about forensics (I graduated, so there will be a bit of a delay on that) and a lot about poems; but where's the Pythonic goodness?"

I promise, there will be more pythonic charm, starting now.

Here's a brief intro/manual for what Python is, and where to get started.

Python is a programming language. This means a formal language which you can learn and can use to translate what you want your computer to do into phrases that the computer can understand. Now that that's out of the way, on to something less patronizing.

Some advantages of Python include its high level of readability, the complete portability of its interpreter, the combination of power and simplicity it provides, and the ease of learning it. Some disadvantages include the fact that it is an interpreted language, which results in slower runtimes compared to most compiled languages.

Probably the first two places to start for anybody interested in learning Python are here:
Official Python Site
Thinking like a Computer Scientist: Python Edition
Dive into Python
The first link is to where to get Python and where the documentation is.
The second is probably the best guidebook I've seen for someone who is looking at Python as their first language. It teaches good coding habits as well as useful concepts.
If you know a language or two, the third link will probably be better for you.

A great thing about Python is that there are many great resources available for free online. I suggest finding a forum or a chatroom in case you have questions.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Back from Nationals

Well, I'm back from Nationals. I spent 1 week in Las Vegas with Da Goose, King Combover, and Madmouth. We visited Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon, and partook of the strip all week. The competition was fierce (as one could expect from Nationals Senate), and nobody ended up breaking. The disappointment of failure was greatly offset by the fact that A: We were in Las Vegas, and B: We got to see the Grand Canyon.

I felt that we all got much closer over the course of the trip, and that it was a fitting 'last hurrah' for us graduating seniors. It was all former seniors, and there was an air of frivolity and trust that was great.

Aah. I'll post with exactly how I did, as soon as I find out myself. (accursed slow NFL people)

Friday, June 13, 2008

Eve of Nationals

Wow. It's the night before King Combover, Da Goose, and I fly to Vegas for the National Forensic League 2008 National Competition. (Amazing how imposing that sounds) It's been a busy day of preparation and packing. Even with assistance, the costs of this are becoming very real, and very staggering. I've discovered a nifty invention: Visa Cash cards. They work like a Visa card, but are effectively gift cards. They are replaceable if stolen or lost, so they provide much more peace of mind than cash. (No pickpockets this time...) We're going to be staying at the Sunset Station casino.

One thing I can't seem to get over so far is the scale of everything. The casino is huge, the prices are huge, the everything is huge. I'll post more when I get back as it's rather hard to post about something which has not happened yet.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Pompous Circumstance

Yeah, I've joined the ranks of society. I've graduated high school, run through the ceremony and posturing, and exited as a high-school graduate. Mrh. Now its off to LCC for (at least for now) the first 2 years of a Comp. Sci degree. I'm probably going to finish it off at the U of O, but I'll finish it somewhere.
Oddly enough, this didn't strike me with the magnitude that I expected. Everyone regards this as some giant event, and it just... happened.

I know the significance of the ceremony, and the party, and everything. I know that I won't see most of my classmates and friends for years, decades, or ever again. I know that all that's left is the last hurrah of the wisemen at Vegas for Nationals. I just haven't had that obligatory "WTF! I'm a graduate!" moment.

Oh well. I guess that knowing about it is enough for now.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008


Yeah, it's finally time to do some real posts. Thanks to everyone who tolerated those early poems.

Everything seems to be coming up right now. Graduation, college, the diaspora of friends, jobs, moving out, Nationals, and many other things. Some who know me know my tendency for recursive thinking. I've complained many a time about how if I get left alone for too long that my thought patterns detach. I've been too busy for that, but all of these life events seem to be forcing this same sort of thinking.
I guess I should probably go item by item just to keep some semblance of structure. No sense blog-spewing.

Graduation: One of the "greatest moments" in a person's life. Bleh. I'm not really sure about this one. On the one hand, it is a big deal. Many of my friends are dispersing out into the world, while it feels like I'm just staying here. (More on that later.) Its a symbol of achievement and maturity. On the other hand, it doesn't feel like that much of an achievement. I feel like when it comes to requirements, I could have floated through high school half awake. In some bits, I did.

I know that I'm not exactly average. (I usually try to deny it, but false modesty tends to bother people.) I was accelerated a grade, and yet I am still excelling in IB classes and generally working through high school for lack of a better thing to do. Nevertheless, I still feel like the bar is more of a speed bump than a hurdle. I sit in classes teaching myself things that wouldn't be covered in the class proper for 1-2 years. I play mental games to stave off boredom. What great achievement is it in today's society? Graduating from high school seems like more of a stepping stone for college. Even that is seen as more of a requirement nowadays. I made it through a system which is designed to get me through at all costs. Whoop-de-fucking-do.

What did I get out of the classes which were required? Practically nothing. Anything I learned, I got because of my self-motivation. High school was critical for me. It formed me into what I am and forged who I might be. However, what of that was from the requirements? Woo. I spent half a year learning that "You should pick a career which fits you." I spent almost 2 months learning all the major bones in the body so I could forget them 2 weeks after the exam. I got many great things out of some of my classes. Debate was probably the greatest for me. I learned about charisma, talent, failure, success. I made friends, made mistakes, and made a world where I could care about things that mattered.

On the other hand, I can see that graduating from high school can be a big deal. In some of my social circles, almost nobody is graduating. Some out of boredom with the system, some because life's struggles caught up with them early, some because they wanted to spend more time with their favorite games. Some of them plan on moving past that. Some are just looking forward to their next paycheck. I know that that isn't a local thing as well. Nationally, this is the case. Many schools are cases where graduating students are in the minority.

We are a nation which fears schooling and prefers to squander intelligence and wisdom. I can see that for some people, high school is pointless. It almost is for me. But the best things from high school come from the things outside of curriculums and syllabi. They come from the connections you forge with classmates. They are the squabbles and mistakes we make. They are the life experiences, and the understanding of working within bureaucracies and problems.

I see people dropping out to rush into the workforce. Some people do so to survive, but many people see the short-term payoff and forget the long-term rewards. Sure the minimum-wage paycheck may feel great when everything gets paid for, but how about 10 years later where you're stuck at the same job, trying to keep a roof over your head and food on your plate? I'm going to need to pick up a job for over the summer and for during college, and I understand the need. I don't like it, but I understand. Education is one of those things which shouldn't be barred. I want to learn, so help me do so.

Who will I become? I want to be a programmer, but what will I program? Will I write the next great innovation in Computer Science? Will I create the software which brings about the next Holocaust? Will I become the next visionary in gaming; turning video games into a medium respected such as film, music, or painting? Will I be a mediocre code monkey writing mediocre code at some faceless, nameless corporation?

Ever since I was little, everybody was always telling me that I would be the next Hawking, the next Kucinich, or the next Miyamoto. Now I'm becoming my own cognitive being, and I feel like I'm disappointing everyone. I know that that's what people tell kids, but I feel like I took it to heart a little much. Why am I supposedly destined for greatness?

Will I be remembered for what I do? Will my experiences in debate mean anything more than just a way to pass the time? Will I even stay in computer science? Will I be anyone, or just someone?

I can ride my bike with no handlebars,
I can split the atoms of a molecule,
I can lead a nation with a microphone,
I can end the planet in a holocaust.

I can do,
I can be;
The only thing I can't be,
is me.

What will I end up doing?
Who will I end up being?
I guess I'll find out.

Fall of the Houri

This is another recent one. This was a birthday present for Laconia.

Fall of the Houri

A streak of light
fiery and radiant
The Houri falls from grace.
Sailing, shining, crisping, crying
The flesh weeps in disgrace.

Once, she dined
of carnal mind.
She savored man and machine.
Standing tall
until her fall.
One soul,
One mind,
One being.

Silken ivory bodice
aquiline voluptuous goddess.
Sleek strands of onyx
coiffed ebony perfection.
Lapis seas and crimson flames
fire and ice mixed sensually
Tempting mortals to divine grace,
a testament to reality.

Worldly, with
worldly tastes,
worldly needs,
worldly frailties,
temptation leads her astray.
As Houri, she loves deeply.
She loves with more passion
than a thousand mortal men,
however that is not why she has fallen.
Trust is what failed her.
She trusted in mortals, and
as mortals, they corrupted that trust.
They used that link,
abused that link,
defiling all she knew.
When she needed help
They spat in her face.
Now she lies among mortals.

Wings turned to ash,
mortality her constant companion.
In some way,
she almost seems better for it.
She has found new trust
She has found new joys
She knows what it is like to fall
and how never to do so again.
Her fall from grace
was hard and fast,
but maybe someone will catch her
a falling star,
a fallen Houri
an angel, in mortal form.

Musings on a single grain of sand

Here's another one of mine. This one is actually rather recent. It's written to/about Laconia, a close friend of mine who wrote a poem shortly before I wrote this about the loneliness of a grain of sand. I wrote a poem to counter hers, and to cheer her up.

Musings on a single grain of sand:

There is little I can envy more
than a single grain of sand.
Minute pebble,
silently traveling the world,
filled with potential.
Unspoiled, pure.
One with the world
shaped by the world
leaving its impression,
forever on the world.

Where will it go?
What will it be?
An ocean of potential awaits.
Infinite experiences
both past and future
lap at human shores.
A pearl, radiating soft and milky love
A spotlight, shining perfection
A rose window, comforting and consoling
A glass toy, more relaxing compliment than lonely replacement
Infinite possibilities,
all existing at once.
All potential existing at once
within this one point of being.

This serene orb
leaves an indelible mark upon
all who harbor it,
changing their lives forever.
I know my life
will forever be better
from the passage
of that single grain of sand.
Some are irritated by it,
building up barriers and roadblocks
trying to stop this radiant grain.
Their futile struggle only makes
this grain stronger, more valuable,
and more beautiful.
(even though I don’t know how that’s possible)

The world would be far better
if there would be more grains of sand in it.
I would be far better
If I had a grain of sand
to accompany me into the world.

On Twin Points

Another post in my "get caught up with prior posts" series, this one is also rather old. I'm not sure who this is about, or when I wrote it, but here it is for completeness.

On Twin Points

Curled in a corner,

Face locked in a contorted ricture.

A visage twisted by the twins.

The angel Lethe, whispering sweet blissful memories.

The demon Belial, spreading dark poisonous glimpses of the yet-to-come.

Pulling in opposite directions,

His thoughts never wavering:

His love, his illuminating light, his being.

With her, he always wants more.

Ecstatic, but never sated.

For he knows how illusory it is.

Afraid to gamble on what he has,

But always lusting for more.

Without her, he is lost.

Every thought is consumed within one:


Every action derived from a single goal:


Every need subsumed before one:


To forget and ignore the spectral tormentors is to lose her.

To give in and explain is to drive her away.

To keep from oblivion, he balances on a knife's edge.

Neither silent nor vocal, for to succumb to either is to banish her.

Emotions bottled and hidden, only to slowly seep out.

Until he can move he will stand,

Perched on twin knife points.

Slowly pierced without motion,

The abyss waits for any wasted motion.

He cannot stay put, but he must.

"Just a bit farther" he says.

Just a bit farther indeed.

Tribute in Verse

Yeah, this was originally for a class in the style of A few lines composed above Tintern Abbey, but I put a little more into it this time.

Tribute to Great Men

Step across the seething marsh,

And peer inside the twisted ruins,

Memories of past life abound

And hang stark against the drained, the dreary,

the here, the now,

The reminder of life forgotten and faded.

To the left, a tangled mass.

Once glorious rows of blesséd fruit.

Ambrosia once flowed from these vines.

Blood and sweat,

Life and love,

Time and tears.

All poured into this hallowed ground,

this sacrament to great men.

The lifeblood of a generation,

shed to sustain this land.

My forefather nurtured this land with his last mortal breath.

Now all that remains of his passion,

His life's work,

His very soul,

is the ruins of a once great farm.

Now all that remains of the once pristine plants are tangled wrecks,

Seething masses,

Wizéned and thorny vines choking apple trees.

What was once the envy of the county,

becomes a tribute to mourn the passing of great men.

What once made the finest cider in the land now only serves for

worms to drink their fill.

Look upon these last vestiges of life:

The few remaining windfalls,

Sweetened by time, age, passion.

Taste the sultry sweetness.

The scarlet red, so vivid,

the color washes away the sorrow,

if just for a moment.

The silky taste, conjuring phantom memories of

passionate love shared under these ancient boughs,

The tears shed for young love, lost in a distant land,

The joy of redemption,

The serenity of knowing that the family is whole once more.

But even as you finish,

Know what has been shed here.

Remember the cries of passion unmeasurable,

of agony unbearable.

Remember the whispers of a legendary deal.

A man for whom the livelihood of his body,

Shall be the lifeblood of his land.

That when he could no longer raise his ancestral land,

Both should wither and perish.

That was the legacy of a great man.

So as you wander through this forlorn tribute to great men,

Raise your applecore up on high.

Remember the sacrifices made these great men,

And cast those seeds you hold to the heavens.

Let new life sprout from the legacy of greate men.

Let memories of new passion sprout.

Let these great men not go forgotten.

But most of all,

Let the heritage of great men flow through you

As you cast the seeds of a new generation to the winds.