H.I. No. 7: Sorry, Language Teachers
|"Sorry, Language Teachers"|
|Hello Internet episode|
Episode 7 on the podcast YouTube channel
|Original release date||March 17, 2014|
Official Description[edit | edit source]
Grey and Brady discuss Pi Day, death by airplane and should foreign languages be required in school.
Show Notes[edit | edit source]
- CGP Grey in Brady's house
- Average Is Over
- Reddit change my view
- Anti-Pi Rant, 3/14/14
- Professor Phil Moriarty talks about Tau on Numberphile
- The Wire
- How to make the US into two time zones
- Pragmatic: Cause and Effect
- Q&A with Grey video
- Is Learning a Foreign Language Really Worth It?
Other[edit | edit source]
|Brady and Grey talk about Pi Day and Vi Hart's "Anti-Pi Rant" video, comparing Pi and Tau and their feelings towards "celebrity numbers"|
Grey 0:00 We'll edit this out. This is editing out song. We have five new countries that have left reviews for us in iTunes. And this week it is Belarus, China, Malta, Slovenia and Uruguay. So again, it's awesome to collect more countries. We really have quite a full roster now of places that have left iTunes reviews. I just want to say thanks to everyone. And thanks to everyone from those countries who left a review.
Brady 0:32 We only just got China?
Grey 0:33 I was surprised that we only just got China and I was almost wondering if the iTunes store was even available in China. I wasn't sure if it was like YouTube, which I don't know if the internet is aware or not, but YouTube is not available in China. So I was wondering if maybe the iTunes Store wasn't available in China. But so we now do have the most populous nation on Earth added to our collection of countries
Brady 0:58 We're breaking into big markets now mate.
Unknown Speaker 1:00 Yes, yes, we're gonna take off, it's gonna take off.
Grey 1:03 We're going to capture all of that China market very shortly.
Brady 1:06 We might have to start doing a china version of the podcast where we do the whole thing again speaking in in Mandarin or something.
Grey 1:12 Yes, yes, that will... never happen.
Brady 1:17 So, the last podcast was about emailing. Yes. And you gave some advice about emailing that I personally found really useful. And I know some of the viewers did. And I sort of, you went up in my estimations as an emailer. Oh, thank you. And then last night. You sent me, like, I guess maybe for a normal person, it would be an OK email, but some crazy email, like, very long for you a bit rambling, you haven't apologized for it in the email. Had you been drinking or something?
Grey 1:50 No, I was just tired. Very tired. And you were last on my email queue and I thought I was being much more rational than I was. But yes, I did. I did since you rather rambley email that did not make a whole lot of sense when I saw it in the morning and I was slightly embarrassed. And yes, that was that was perfectly timed to come after the show about sending efficient emails. So I apologise for that.
Brady 2:17 So maybe I should start like some some sort of Kickstarter or crowd campaign and if people give enough money I'll like, share that email with the world.
Grey 2:25 Now I don't think that's necessary. I don't I don't think we need to do that. We can we can skip. We can skip that one.
Brady 2:31 What else is going on then? Have you been much else? much else in the feedback? I've been following the Reddit it's been it's been good fun.
Grey 2:37 Yes, Yes, I have. I've been following the Reddit as well. And I think we both commented, I'll put it in the show notes. Someone left an absolutely hilarious image that I want to find out whoever left this image I need to know where this is from. But this image under just the link said CGP Grey visits Brady and his house. When you click the link, it goes to this this comical picture of this robot standing in a caveman's dwelling.
Brady 3:09 I'm looking at it now. It's perfect.
Grey 3:13 It is absolutely perfect.
Brady 3:15 I know talking about a photo is not excellent podcast fodder, but I do recommend people go and have a look. People always say "Oh what does CGP Grey look like?" funnily enough for some strange reason. This does look like you like that robot somehow captures you. I don't know how so if people wanna know, go and have a look.
Grey 3:33 I think that's why that's why it's funny is I can look at that robot too and feel like I am kin to this creature. Yeah, we're on. We're on the same level there. So whoever-
Brady 3:46 And it does help, it does help that the caveman as well has kind of long matted ginger hair. So that sort of adds to the Brady-ness of him as well. So yes, yes, I don't have quite such impressive biceps unfortunately.
Grey 3:58 But yeah, so well, I'll put a link in the show notes people can check that out. And if someone can tell us where the original poster can tell us where that's from, I'm really curious. It looks like it's from some TV show in the 60s maybe? I don't know exactly. But I'd be really curious to know the origins of that image.
Brady 4:14 under ine I think? underine? is the person who posted it. So hopefully they're listening.
Grey 4:19 Yes, thanks to him, or her. That was hilarious. And really made me laugh.
Brady 4:25 Yeah. I've got it on my screen today, so I'm looking at it throughout the podcast. Good looking into those Grey like eyes.
Grey 4:34 What else? What else from follow up? I don't know if I should mention this now. But you did ask a question, which I never really got around to answering in the previous one. But you asked me some examples of terrible emails that I get. Worst practice Yeah, worst practices. And I just when I was going through my email the other day, I just made a note of some of the emails that I do get. So just very quickly, some of my least favorite things to get are the sort of emails that people write where apparently random words in the sentence are caps locked. They're written in all caps. And it's like these people want to use italics. But instead, they just use all caps. And so you read it as though they're sort of shouting every fifth or sixth word. I get enough of those, usually from people who are very angry about something that I've mentioned in a video that they think is right or wrong. So that that's, that's an example of crazy. An example of a professional one that irritates the heck out of me, is sending emails to schedule, phone calls or meetings without actually telling me anything at all about what we were going to have a phone call or a meeting about. That's a very bad practice. Just say, the ones that I get the most often, which I do delete them just straight away, but I almost feel like it was good try Good try kid, is kids in school basically asking me to write essays for them on a particular topic, which happens often enough, some, some kid will literally send me like a scanned image of his homework assignment and say, you know, oh, I need to write a 300 word essay on this particular topic. Would you mind? You know, doing that for me? It's like, obviously, I'm not gonna do that. But you know what? Almost like props to you for asking, but delete immediately.
Brady 6:32 It takes you six weeks to write a YouTube script. How long is it going to take you to write a school essay?
Grey 6:36 So yeah, but see, the thing is with the school essay, if I did write it, I would have no incentive to do it well at all enough so that's the No, no, I'm not the one who's going to get the D wouldn't be my fault.
Brady 6:46 A whole category of emails that I get, because of making mathematics videos or people or science videos in general, really, people who have theories, people who think they've done perpetual motion or, you know, a new form of nuclear energy. And it's sort of like, yeah, that's a I get a lot of them that has spiked this week that I made a video about the Riemann hypothesis, which is the sort of the greatest unsolved puzzle now in mathematics. And inevitably, I've started getting emails now from people who think they've possibly cracked it. And of course, I'm in no position to know if they've cracked it or not. It puts me in a difficult position do I? Do I delete that forward to a mathematician and therefore become become the crazy person myself now who's forwarding on theories.
Grey 7:37 No this is not a difficult position at all. Delete is the correct answer. This is not this is not something to ponder or feel anxiety over.
Brady 7:44 But imagine if G. H. Hardy had got his letter from Ramanujan and just said, delete. You know, sometimes you got to have a look and see if there's any gold in there.
Grey 7:52 No, no, you do not when people are sending you math proofs, through email to you who they should know is not actually, you know, the professor who can necessarily verify this thing. Yeah, I've actually, I don't know if you've, you've come across this I was just reading. I was reading an interesting book called Average Is Over by Tyler Cowen, I think is the author's name. But in it he mentions this thing about how with a lot of modern math proofs for something like the the Riemann conjecture that there basically isn't even any individual human who can know if this is true or not anymore. That, for that for these big math proofs, what the math community does is that they, they break it down into the smallest pieces they can and farm that off to a whole bunch of experts in those individual areas who then have everyone has to come back with a consensus about whether or not their part is correct and kind of come to a community decision about whether all these pieces fit together to prove the thing as a whole, I don't know if you come across that, but I found that interesting just to think about like, boy, you know, it's not like you, you can even just send in a proof and one person can necessarily really work it out on their own.
Brady 9:15 I mean, even something like that Poincare can never say it correctly Poincare conjecture, you know, the one. Yeah, it was one of the it's the only one of the seven Millennium problems that has been solved. And even that was sort of just, it was solved by attrition in many ways. I mean, they solved it for all the different dimensions, and then eventually, the only dimension they couldn't solve it for was the third dimension. So that became the, the Holy Grail and this guy called Taylor was it? No, Hamilton came up with, you know, a way to do it using Ricci flow, but then finally Perelman who ended up you know, getting all the glory came up with this, this surgery technique that he applied to the Ricci flow that made a solvable So, you know, even even when it's Not a big team doing it. It's usually one person building on all these other, all these other things. And one of the reasons Perelman gave for rejecting the Millennium prize was he felt like, you shouldn't be giving this prize to one person, you know, I couldn't have done it without Hamilton's work. And I'm not totally convinced. And some of the mathematicians I speak to aren't totally convinced that's the only reason he rejected the million dollars, but it's certainly reason he gave.
Grey 10:28 Yeah, I think that that that one was actually mentioned in the, in the book that I was just reading, as an example of a proof that had to be farmed out to a whole bunch of people to try to figure out, you know, is this even correct? Let's, the only thing I might just mention here is that a lot of people commented on how serious I got at the end of the last podcast.
Brady 10:50 Yes. I noticed that I was when I was talking. This was when I was talking about my addiction to checking my email.
Grey 10:59 Yes, yeah. That's what you were talking about. And I guess I can't hear it in my own voice but enough people commented on on Reddit that they that they noticed the swing in my tone to suddenly very serious tone. And yes, it is true. I just want to make a little a little comment about that about why, why I'm serious about this. Why I'm so serious. But Internet addiction, email addiction, Twitter addiction,
Brady 11:23 Even now You sound a little bit more serious
Grey 11:25 As I'm trying not to be. I don't want this to be an after school special. You know, listen, we all had fun today. But email is serious.
Brady 11:34 Yeah. Brady, I've brought for a few of your friends along here to talk on the podcast as well. We all want to speak to you about this problem.
Grey 11:40 Yeah, I guess Okay. Gonna try say this without sounding really serious. But, but the reason that I do, like I do take that stuff very seriously. And I and I notice it, just like what the nature of addiction is like, these kind of sort of psychological addictions that you have to things like email, and I'm not talking like a physical addiction like, like a drug. That the if you are doing an experiment on a human and you want to to encourage them to continue in a behavior, the best and most effective way to do that is with something called random reinforcement. You know, so if you want some someone or some lab animal, you know, to press a button, the best way to make sure they press that button as often as possible, is to not give them a consistent reward. You know, don't give them a food pellet each time, but give them a random reward. Sometimes they get nothing. Sometimes they get a whole bunch of food pellets. You know, sometimes they get very few food pellets, but there's a random distribution in the reward. And basically for all mammals that is maximally addictive. And this is why things like slot machines can be very addictive for people, right because they're random reinforcement. You know, if you put if you put like a quarter in a slot machine, and every time you got back 20 cents, nobody would play them. Right because it'd be like it'd be very obvious what's what's happening, but if you if you vary the the reward that like mammalian brains are just designed to really hook into that kind of behavior. And so that's why that's basically what like Twitter and even, you know, Reddit and email can be really addictive in that way, because they're this random reinforcement, right? Sometimes you go to your email, and it's something really important that you need to know or something really interesting on Reddit. And lots of times, it's just kind of nothing, but your brain is always like hoping for a big payoff. And that's why like we mentioned last time, if someone's like, "Oh, I don't remember opening Twitter but Twitter's open like clearly I did it." Right That's exactly what that is like that's that is a sign that your your brain is engaged in this this random reward response and is really looking for that so that's why I got super serious and I will leave it now I will try not to talk about that anymore.
Brady 13:54 You making me feel really good here with all this talk about like, you know, mammalian brains and behaviors and addictions and like, yeah, you realize I'm kind of part of this conversation don't you?
Grey 14:05 But I am part of this conversation too right. I this is why I'm always sad that I'm not a robot, I'm not that robot in that image before, because I'm keenly aware of like the sad, sad limitations of my own mammal monkey brain. I, like you know, I think I'm this this clever, rational person, right, but I have a monkey brain in my skull, just like every other human does. And that monkey brain is easily distracted, and it doesn't want to pay attention or like it engages in all this horrible self destructive behavior. So that's, this is like, like, being productive is learning to deal with the monkey in your head, who just wants to sit in the sunshine and eat bananas, you know, or go run around and do other kinds of stuff. So that's that Enough, enough with the seriousness. just mentioned a quick link. This is going back a couple shows ago, but on one of my favorite sections of Reddit is a section called Change My View, which is, not exactly a formal debate, but they have more rules than most sections on Reddit do. And people put forward an argument and then people try to change their view on whatever this topic is. And there was an interesting discussion a little while ago that related to our episode about advertising and ad blocking I'll put it in the show notes but the the change my view the the debate topic was you know, if using an ad block is stealing content, stealing, you know, you like that, then so he's going to the bathroom during a commercial break, change my view, so that the person is arguing that that ad blocking on the internet is the equivalent of simply not watching ads on TV. And it's, as with many of the discussions on that subreddit, It's a very interesting discussion back and forth between a whole bunch of people so I found it interesting to read through and I will put that in the show notes as something related to our episode. I don't even know episode four or five? I can't keep track of the now. This is seven, right? I think we're on seven.
Brady 16:07 Oh yeah, this is our last prime number of the experiment then.
Grey 16:12 It is our last prime number of the experiment. Good on you for thinking that.
Brady 16:15 Thank you. Was this debate cross posted to the newly created freebooting subreddit which I noted the other day.
Grey 16:23 Yes, I saw someone I saw someone made that I took a little screenshot because I thought now you are the one who's pushing this freebooting word. Again, again, internet. I'm totally fine with copyright infringement, though. I will I will admit-
Brady 16:37 You're fine with copyright infringement? The term I hope not the practice?
Grey 16:40 Yes, the term the term although I will acknowledge that it is very awkward in certain circumstances. But I noticed, I noticed on the description of the freebooting subreddit. It's this the description is that this is a subreddit that is about those who don't want to pay or sorry about those who don't pay for content, and I think if I'm understanding your use of the term freebooting, that this is not to be confused with piracy. That freebooting is is to be applied to the people who are making money off of content creators' materials. It's not talking about the people who may be viewing that content elsewhere or just torrenting it or or something else. Is that, is that correct?
Brady 17:32 I think you, I think you grossly overestimate the amount of thought I've put into the term freebooting you disappoint me. But I'll go with whatever you said. I just think it's a cool word. And I think infringement is like, My position is clear on this as is yours.
Grey 17:49 Okay. All right. Yeah. But yeah, someone, someone made the freebooting subreddit. I think I haven't, I haven't gone over to look to see how much discussion is over there. But I'll put it in the show notes.
Brady 18:02 Man, If this word catches on in any way. Like, I'll be so proud that that original podcast were brought up that will become like a historic document.
Grey 18:12 It will. They will, that will that will be in the Oxford English Dictionary. When they when they talk about first usage of a term it'll Yeah, right because that's what they need to have like earliest known use of this word. It'll be Brady, in a podcast.
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Brady 20:24 Pi Day,
Grey 20:25 It is Pi Day today, the day we are recording,
Brady 20:27 It is the 14th of March or March 14. So we get this 314 for Pi. So we are using the American month there but because there is no sort of third of the 14th month I think even Brits and Europeans are quite happy to, to go with this one.
Grey 20:41 Yeah, yeah. It seems like it's become one of these internet holidays. I've been seeing everybody on the Twitter talking about it today.
Brady 20:49 Yeah. So obviously making having a YouTube channel all about numbers. I have a tremendous interest in Pi. I think I've made about 15 videos about Pi. Really? Yeah. whole playlist of them.
Grey 21:01 Like, it sounds like you need a channel dedicated to Pi at this point, if you've got 15 videos.
Brady 21:07 Maybe, maybe. We'll stick with stick with the one for now. But so I put a couple of videos up today for this year's Pi Day, but I don't want to talk about them. I want to talk about Vi Hart's video for Pi Day. For those who don't know Vi Hart, you should. Yes, she's a she's certainly a favorite of both both of us. Yes. And and a good friend.
Brady 21:28 And her video for Pi Day today. Like, like all her videos was excellent. I mean, essentially, in a nutshell. I mean, I hope people will watch it if they haven't already seen it. And I'm sure Grey'll pop it in the show notes. Yeah, of course. But in a nutshell, she was saying that Pi is no big deal. It's a very it's a very ordinary. It's an ordinary number like every single other number on the number line. And I guess some of the points she made were really good and educational about you know, there are an infinite number of numbers with repeating digits and things like that. But the tone of the video was Pi's no big deal. What's the big deal with Pi Day, Pi's a nothing number. And she sort of, you know, was attacking or chipping away at a lot of the things people love about Pi. And fair enough and I and like I said I enjoyed it very much. But I do think that Pi is allowed to be special and exceptional. And whether or not we celebrate Pi day, you know, that's just a silly thing, isn't it? But I think it is okay to celebrate Pi and to love Pi. And I love Pi. Now, I want to I've been thinking about why that is. And some of this may be comes back to what you were talking about with kind of this random reinforcement. But I think maybe the, the ordinariness and the complete and utter arbitrariness of Pi is why we love it. That, that a number that seems so just weirdly out of nowhere, just like a strange number that has nothing special about it to look at it could become such a celebrity and it could become so imbued with meaning to us as humans, is what we like about it, like almost, it's almost like a product of its own sort of celebrity. It's a bit like, it's like the number that won the lottery, it won the lottery, like, because of because we chose to put some significance into the ratio of circles diameter to circumference, because I can and I can see why we did that because the circle is a it is a pretty special shape, but it is just another shape. But because that particular ratio we decided to celebrate. So then we had to go and find the poor old number on the number line that happened to represent that ratio. And this one number was just plucked from obscurity and we put on a pedestal and said, Good on you, number you, you know, you have some significance to us because you somehow relate to the wheel. I think that is like I think that appeals to us as humans like the way we are appeal to the lucky person who lands the half court shot at the basketball game or the person who has the hundred million dollar winning lottery ticket. I mean, there's nothing special about that person. They just were in the right place at the right time. They were plucked from obscurity amongst all the other humans. And I think that like gives us like some kind of I think it appeals to us. I know I know robot like you not going to understand that.
Grey 24:40 Find your anthropomorphisation of Pi, just ludicrous.
Brady 24:44 Really, I think. I think it's a very human thing to do. Like, you know, like, like, like, like, like how some people have a soft spot for Saturn because it's got rings or, you know, we we look for little-
Grey 25:00 That is different I just think you description of, of I Oh, there's others there's all these poor numbers milling around and like we as a society have taken this one number and and raised him up to celebrity status and he was the he was the lucky guy in the right place at the right time. I don't know I find that that whole description very hard to relate to and very funny to-
Brady 25:24 I want to know what do you think do you think, do you subscribe to you know, what's the big deal with Pi it's it's you know it's a number of you know,
Grey 25:33 you well okay you... Well first of all I just to mention about Vi's video. If you haven't watched it go watch it now and then come back. The link is in the show notes because there will be mild spoilers for the video. Okay. But the thing that thing that I liked about the video was basically Vi was going through all of the things that are normally said about the uniqueness of Pi and pointing out how they are not unique and she was doing it with very typical Vi humor. Like I, she really got me to laugh out loud a couple times in the video. Yeah. You know when she was really good. Yeah, like when she when she pointed out that you know people talk about how it has an infinite number of digits in it. Well five has an infinite number of digits, it just so happens to be that all those digits are zero, right? But so the infiniteness of these numbers is not special. And something that I hadn't ever really thought about. But talking about irrational numbers that there's an infinite number of irrational numbers. It's not like there's just a couple of special ones and Pi and e happened to be those special numbers, which is something I never really thought about in that exact way, which is why I like Vi's videos. She's always pointing out these things. So she was just taking apart all of the the unique elements of Pi and I think doing it, doing it in a very good way. I really, I really liked it.
Brady 26:50 And I had a lot of I had a lot. It was thought provoking for that reason.
Grey 26:52 Yeah, it was good.
Brady 26:55 But I still think it's okay to to love Pi and think it's special.
Grey 26:59 Okay, so now before, before I tell you my opinions on this, I will first say that back in high school when I was doing Driver's Ed, and I was very, very bored. I actually spent a bunch of time memorizing the digits of Pi know because I was a nerdy person. Now I'm not I'm not like one of these, these Olympiads who memorizes 10s of thousands of digits, but I had somewhere around the first 200 digits memorised like that.
Brady 27:23 Wow. That is impressive. That is impressive.
Grey 27:25 It sounds impressive, it is not as impressive as actually sounds, because I was using, you know, there's memory techniques for this kinds of things where you can transform digits into words and then the words into sentences. And so it's not as hard as it as it actually sounds to memorize an arbitrary sequence of digits. You know, this is this is basically a technique that I learned for school and to memorize stuff. And so then I was just, you know, just doing this as as a as a boredom kind of thing, and I thought Pi was was cool, right? Because I'm, I was a nerdy High School guy. And I never came across Tau until some point when I was in college. I don't remember exactly when. But some math professor brought it up.
Brady 28:16 This is two Pi. This is twice Pi.
Grey: 28:17 Yeah. Yeah.
Brady 28:19 Which some people argue is a more obvious constant to use.
Grey 28:22 Yeah. So basically, I think the, to sum it up, Pi is based on the diameter of the circle. And Tau is based on the radius of the circle. And the argument is usually that in when we're talking about most shapes, you talk about their most fundamental part, and for a circle is most fundamental part of the radius, not the diameter. And so Pi is a little weird that it's using this non-fundamental part of the shape to to define it. So my opinion on the whole Pi versus Tau debate is one of utility. When I heard about Tau honest to God, so much of trigonometry really clicked in my mind, and I thought, uggh, I know this is just a conversion of a factor of two. But boy did it, suddenly, trigonometry made a whole lot more sense in my mind with the Pi..sorry, switching from Pi to Tau. And so that's why I have I have read things from other mathematicians saying that this is...way out of my league. But that Tau is only really useful in this kind of high school college level math and that when you get beyond this level, you know, maybe there are there are arguments in favor of Pi. I don't really know those arguments. But I would just say for the level of math that I was doing, Tau made things just instantly, so much simpler. And, you know, being able to understand like the sine function, you know, talking about every every kid who's High School is listening to me now, right? You have to do I know you have to memorize these things, you know, what is the sine of Pi over two? What is the sine of Pi over four and you need to have these things off the top of your head. And it just, I know, it seems like it's completely arbitrary. But if you if you use Tau instead, it's always just a fraction of the the direction around a circle. So if someone asks you, you know, what's the sine of tau over four, you just have to think okay, well, I go a fourth of the way around the circle. And if you imagine that on a number line, it's very obviously one I hope I'm doing this right in my head. And and so, you know, or a Tau over two, you go halfway around the circle, you know, what's the height at zero. So I am in favor of Tau because it just to me made so much or trigonometry make immediate sense. Where the Pi stuff I had always had a hard time with Pi and radians and never quite gotten it, so.
Brady 30:53 Well, there was some good there are some good videos on there are some good numberphile videos on it. You'd probably enjoy the Phil Moriarty one about Tau, because he, he's pro Tau and talks about some of those things you were just talking about. But even if you use Tau, it's still just, you know, it's still an arbitrary constant. Where do you stand on this idea of us...celebrating an arbitrary number and, you know, having these celebrity numbers?
Grey 31:16 Well, I think celebrity numbers, I know what you mean. So think it's a funny term. I mean, I would say I am, I am for it. You know, for example, I love the fact that there is a Pi say, I'm not going to get all grumpy because I think Tau is a better number, and then we're having a Pi day because there's like, this whole day allows this discussion to happen and you can talk about math and it brings math up as a topic so I'm very much in favor of that.
Brady 31:43 And it's Einstein's birthday of course.
Grey 31:44 Oh is it? I did not know that.
Brady 31:45 Mhmm, I believe so
Grey 31:46 So yeah, I'm in favor of celebrity numbers. I know I can't conceive of of a reason not to be and if you know if people really like Pi, I think I think I think maybe part of the celebrity of Pi is that it is an interesting looking number, right? Whereas Tau looks too much like a T and the imaginary number is an i.
Brady 31:58 It's a cool symbol, its a cool symbol yeah.
Grey 32:00 It's a very cool symbol. Or if people who've been following me on Twitter know that I have been re working my way through The Wire, the TV series series for probably the fourth or fifth time now.
Brady 32:11 man, that's a good show.
Grey 32:12 Yeah, man, I could talk about that forever. And there is a character in the second season who has a Pi tattoo on the back of his neck. And I was wondering if this is I assume that maybe it's the actors tattoo. I was I was always kind of curious about that. Cuz it's a detail that is the striking in the second season, and seems a little bit out of place. But yeah, the Pi symbol is just cool. So I can see why it is it is more prominent as a feature or it looks cool on movie posters. You know, if you want to have something mathy you put a pie up there, it's immediately recognizable. Whereas lots of other maths symbols. They're just using boring old regular letters, you know, and it's that's that's not as interesting. But yeah, so I guess I'm in favor of "celebrity numbers".
Brady 33:01 Well, I'm sorry for humanizing numbers like that. I mean, I am I am rather sleep deprived, and maybe maybe my brain is addled. But I think I am a bit more like that I quite like idea.
Grey 33:16 No, I'm in favor of these celebrity numbers. I just I think the the level of your description just just struck me as very funny.
Brady 33:21 I mean, it's an analogy isn't that you get that of course? I don't actually think they're humans, but I think we can. I think we like I think people like, you know, just appeals to our love of-
Grey 33:31 People like the underdog is that what you're saying?
Brady 33:34 That's exactly what I was about to say! It's an underdog. Who would have thought that some little obscure irrational number just sitting a little way after three could have become the hero of numbers. And yet he did. He did. He said he sat there. He sat there thinking I'm never going to amount to anything. And then one day, he became the symbol that even CGP Grey talks about on his podcast.
Grey 33:56 You should read write a book.
Brady 33:58 Haha, I think I've been beaten to it.
Grey 34:00 Write a children's book about the heroic Pi
Brady 34:02 Maybe I should make fifteen videos about it instead
Brady 34:04 Yeah, right. What's going on with you? I think I think we have even for a celebrity number we have given Pi. It's dues today.
Grey 34:10 Yeah, I think so. Right. So I just want to I want to complain about something for a minute here. I want to complain about is the West Coast time zone. I know last last week, I said, East Coast is the best coast which again, a lot of feedback on that one. But you are in the West Coast. I am and I am in I am in London right now. And I have got to say that the West Coast has the world's most inconvenient time zone ever. I cannot stand the West Coast time zone with you. I'm with you. There. I am. So I'm so glad about this. I remember at the last YouTube Edu conference, I was getting into arguments with people over this right we just thought it was some kind of lunatic and of course, it doesn't help you to argue with the locals about the craziness of their own timezone. But it just, it drives me nuts. And as you can see for the last couple days and even as just trying to schedule this thing, the California late waking up, it just it just kills scheduling meetings. So inconvenient.
Brady 35:18 So many like, I mean, half the reason I'm delirious and making stupid arguments about pie is because I had to stay up all night because I wanted to put my videos up and respond to them at a time that was good for people in Europe and and on the east coast. And also the number of time I hear. I often hear people having phone calls and they're saying, Okay, well, so everyone's finished work now, so maybe we'll put some calls into them tomorrow. And this is like, you know, the middle of the day for people here.
Grey 35:49 Yes, yes. I have to say that the the time that this really killed me the most. And again, I will have to be a bit vague here but when I was having those problems with the Subbable Lunch during the summer, I would say some reasonable portion of the amount of time that it took to get those problems sorted was due to the time difference between the East Coast and the West Coast of the United States. And I was on the East Coast at that time I happen to be in America. And of course, because I'm on the East Coast, since I'm the one who wakes up first. It feels like okay, you're looking at your clock and just waiting for California to wake up, you know, so they can get the 10 voicemails or emails that you've sent. And then you know, you it's like you only have this narrow window of time when when even the East Coast and the West Coast are kind of aligned for business deals in or business dealings. And then you know, God help you if you're in London trying to schedule something with someone on the on the west coast and so, West Coast time zone, I do not approve. I think it's convenient. I always feel like this weird out of time this went on there. You know On the west coast of even just things like Twitter, you know, if I, you know, it's evening time, and that's my more likely to be on Twitter messing around, and I realized, Oh, I'm not getting any replies because the rest of the world is asleep. Yeah, I've noticed that. You know, it's it's just it's absolutely bizarre. So I think West Coast, you need to do something about that.
Brady 37:17 Of course, this is unsolvable you, you realize it's because of the position on the Earth and the Sun, of course,
Grey 37:23 well, actually, I'll see if I can find it for the show notes. But I read, I read a really good article where someone had a proposal that was not too crazy for how to at least change the us into two time zones. So that you basically would have a timezone running down the middle of the United States. And, and so that they would only they would only be off by an hour. And this was also combined with one of my favorite things, which is getting rid of daylight savings time. And so you could do a switch during one of the daylight savings times and just hold everything steady. With Giant time zones in the United States at least only be one hour off. And I was like, Oh, I really like this plan. What can we do to get this to get this sorted? I approve of this,
Brady 38:12 but then a whole bunch of people, but then everyone's going to compromise. I don't know, some people are gonna have to work in the dark or, you know, like, like, that's not going to change where the sun is no.
Grey 38:22 country. So I understand it's not going to change where the sun is. So, but but as I read through it, it was it was reasonable with sun sunrise and sunset times. And then I think on top of that, if you just stop with the daylight savings, nonsense of moving around the hours all the time, people will just adjust, right people will get used to it, right? It's like, it's like I moved here to London. And I remember the first winter I was here. I literally just freaked out the first time the sun set all of a sudden at four o'clock after the daylight savings, time change. I remember sitting in a classroom and looking outside and it was pitch black. For 30
Unknown Speaker 39:02 photos, an eclipse or something,
Grey 39:03 I honestly just did not know what was going on because I have not lived this far north. And now I will say it has taken me a good eight years to get used to the winters in London and how early the sunsets, but you get used to it eventually. And so I think if in America, if they adapted to two time zones, people will get used to it, and then everyone would be happier. And by everyone, I mean, mainly me. And that is what I'm looking for there.
Brady 39:27 So I don't know if you're going to we'll have to do daylight savings and other day because, I mean, I can understand the arguments that you will make, but I have such a nostalgic attachment to daylight savings like because it just reminds me of the excitement of getting to stay up later and play cricket with my mates and things like that. I did have a funny experience the other night though. I was because it just changed here in the on the west coast and I didn't know what was happening.
Grey 39:51 Oh, yeah, that's right. Wasn't Yeah, it was just daylight savings time in America. It's going to be they're going to do the changeover at the end of the month here in London.
Brady 39:59 Yeah. was up in and I'm capable of wasting vast amounts of time on Reddit and Wikipedia and I was up in the middle of the night, reading Wikipedia articles. And I didn't know the change was happening, or it happened, but my computer did. Yeah. And I didn't notice the change. And I sort of looked at the time and then I read another Wikipedia article in there, I looked up at the Oh my god, where's the time gone? You know, I'm capable of wasting time to spend an hour reading about that one
Grey 40:28 incident, right? Because this is this is forward, right.
Brady 40:31 And it was like two days later that I found out it happened and I was kind of relieved that, you know, I hadn't made some.
Grey 40:38 Yeah, I will put, I'm gonna make a note on our little notes file here where I'm always terrified of running out of things to talk about, but we get let's talk about daylight savings time, at some point in the future.
Brady 40:50 But I will tell you that I'll get to other things you can add to that list in Yeah, Fahrenheit and Celsius. And, and maybe just metric, you know, I know we've discussed this before, amongst amongst us YouTubers, but you know that's got to be done some
Grey 41:03 Yeah, yeah, we can talk about that at some time. Yeah. Yeah, I would just as a as a final little timezone thing I will just I will just put in that while I do think you know east coast is the best coast I love the East Coast United States. London clearly has the best time zone in the whole world. I love London's time zone is good. It is the most convenient time zone
Brady 41:24 ever. Not that you're London centric or anything calling it the London time zone. Yeah, no, that's
Grey 41:29 that's all I care about. It's the London Times I Greenwich's here. I don't know what else anyone needs to know. But yeah, I love it. You know? Yeah, sort of the whole morning to get stuff done. And then you can shoot stuff off to you know, shoot emails and phone calls off to people in America. And then they have the whole working day you know, to deal with whatever have you sent them. And I just love the London Times and it's just the best it is the absolute best.
Brady 41:56 Okay, sorry. With no psycho. I enjoy the same time. aren't even though I don't live in London and I enjoy it also sorry for borrowing your timezone. So, one other thing I was going to bring up yeah was the Malaysia Airlines plane crash which has been in the news is this something you follow?
Grey 42:21 Yeah so this is this is something that again talking we can talk about in a future topic. I I make a very conscious effort to not follow the news and so I know kind of literally nothing about this except that there was last time I even saw some headline it was a it was a last plane so
Brady 42:43 I actually as we speak now it still is the last plane they haven't got a plane crash but they haven't found the plane so it is a presumed presenting Greg.
Grey 42:52 Yeah. So you're gonna have to tell me about this then?
Brady 42:54 Well, I mean, for the for that very reason that it hasn't been found and No one still knows what happened. Certainly while we record this, I wasn't going to talk about that specifically. But But I thought I would talk about plane crashes in general, just because you know, this podcast is about talking about our interests. And plane crashes actually are an interest of mine. And I guess we've done six podcasts that people think seem to make you look crazy from time to time and now we're going down. This time it's my turn having having done pie and now talk about my interest in plane crashes. I'd love to start by saying very quickly how serious I think plane crashes are and this Malaysia Airlines missing plane is like, a serious issue. And they're, you know, 200 odd people on that plane with families and friends and and I would never will not sort of the little or diminish what they're going through. And I hope, I hope, you know, I never have to go through something as catastrophic as that. But I do have a very great interest in plane crashes, and I always have It's kind of, you know, we all have these sort of topics that we read voraciously on. And for me, plane crashes is certainly certainly one of them. I sort of I read NTSB plane crash reports
Grey 44:12 is this is this is this out of a morbid fear that you read? I don't
Brady 44:16 think it's a fear. I fly a lot. And, you know, I guess I think about my plane crashing as much as the next person, but it's not like a fear that cripples me or makes me reluctant to fly. It really is just an interest like a and if it's a hobby, I would want to call it a hobby, a hobby, but it is just as it is, it is a topic of great interest to me. And I've been trying to figure out why I would find plane crashes, an interesting topic. I've kind of been doing a bit of soul searching as I spend hours upon hours reading and reading about it.
Grey 44:51 Yeah, as one might if you're reading all this material. Yeah. So
Unknown Speaker 44:58 I think what is your conclusion I
Brady 45:00 think for me, plane crashes are sort of a confluence or a perfect storm of topics and issues that really appeal to my brain. Some of those are technology. Because there's always a great deal of technology involved in a plane crash, but whether it's for better or worse, human drama. So because Because obviously, the incident itself is dramatic, and there are a number of humans trying to deal with it usually. But also, there's, unfortunately, a great number of people are usually affected, just sitting in the back, and they all in turn have their own stories and human dramas. And while it's really terrible, I think, you know, as a human, I take a great interest in the stories of other humans and what happens to them for better or worse. There's real extremes like we have, you know, extremes of speed and altitude, and Power and forces involved which sort of appeal to my engineering, mechanical brain. That's great. Sometimes there's great folly and I think that's something that always appeals to me, you know, great, you know, mishaps or, you know, hubris gone wrong sometimes. I think I think flight is still something that fascinates fascinates us, you know, humans still will look up at a plane going overhead, although we've had them for many years, they still amaze us. And that that can go wrong in such a spectacular way is hard. It's hard to ignore what's hard to ignore for me. I think there's lots of things about plane crashes that really appealed to my to my brain and I wish they wish they wouldn't happen. And I I think they're terrible, but they do interest me a lot and it just remind, you know, with what's happened just recently with this missing airliner, it's it's reminded me again, that interest man, I just thought it was I just thought it was something I'd put out there. Because, you know, you've put a bit of yourself out there from time to time. So I'm happy to let people know this is a strange, strange interest of mine. I mean, I don't I'm not the Lone Ranger. Obviously, there's a great there's a whole industry and playing crash TV shows, you know, on National Geographic Channel So, genre. Oh, yeah, air crash investigation as it's cold in the UK is actually one of my favorite programs. I've sort of seen I've seen them all.
Unknown Speaker 47:24 And now that I know that this is a this is an interest of yours. I'm not surprised that a show called plane crash investigator is your favorite show and you've seen them all and you probably have them all recorded. there's a there's a guy there's a guy who narrates it and like when I've watched it so many times I don't watch it much anymore because I think I've seen them all. But I used to watch them all the time. And my
Brady 47:46 missus used to get sick of me watching all the time. But she said that sometimes when we get on a plane together, she feels like she could hear that narrator's voice like in her head going, you know, they got on the flight on that night in the morning on I see Seemingly come day and night.
Grey 48:01 But little did they say. So anyway, let's help that's helpful for your plane travel up and up that anxiety on a day is that as we mentioned before, when a plane travel is terrible enough, as is always good to throw that in, and a narrator of doom in the back of your mind. It's not
Brady 48:19 It's not an anxiety for me, but okay, but maybe I've created an anxiety for her unfortunately. So yeah, good job. Yeah, sorry about that. Anyway, so yeah, anyway, you have no interest in playing crushes.
Grey 48:37 I mean, I guess I'm interested in avoiding them be my primary interest in plane crashes. I can't say that I have ever read anything about them in particular. I mean, I think maybe like many other people, when the plane for a brief moment drops and altitude and you get that feeling in your stomach. I definitely think well, I guess I'm going to Die now right for a split second. But that might be the the beginning and the end of my interest in plane crashes is just hoping that they don't happen to me and also do your internet before you write in about this. I'm fully aware that plane travel is incredibly safe. My mom is a flight attendant. I have flown lots in my life. So I'm the logical part of my brain is not afraid of flying. But if if you lose altitude in a plane for a split second, I do think, well, I guess that's the end of my existence.
Brady 49:32 I'll give you two I'll give you two Nuggets to two nuggets from from things. One thing that I just learned recently and one that's an old one, but the two of my favorite stories about plane crashes and it may give you some insight into the kind of trivia that makes an appeal to me. One was quite a famous incident was a Swiss Air Flight. And the plane caught fire above the cockpit while they were in the air. There's nothing worse than a fire on a plane and unfortunately, it resulted in the plane crashing into the See off Nova Scotia. I think everyone died. It was, you know, terrible, terrible thing. Terrible. But one thing I just found out recently it was very interesting
Unknown Speaker 50:09 is that on the plane
Brady 50:10 was a very famous Picasso painting. And they only they only recovered a tiny, tiny shred shred of it afterwards, but I forget, but you never think about the cargo on a plane. And another thing that was on that plane, they recovered a lot of the wreckage from the bottom of the sea. One of the things they didn't recover was a whole bunch of diamonds and gems. There was like an unusually large stash of diamonds on the plane and went down with it as well. And they didn't find it. And you talk about those little, you know, there's a million stories and I love stories I guess, you know, that's that's my nature. And Brian crush has a million stories. Yeah, and one event
Grey 50:46 that appeals to me all ending in do
Brady 50:49 well, not always. And here's my second story. There was another plane crash I can't remember the data is unfortunately I used to not quite well, but it crashed. People did die but know everyone died. And one of the people who didn't die was the copilot. And just as the plane was about to crash and it looked like he was going to die, the last thing he did knowing that his voice was being recorded on The Voice Recorder was tell his wife that he loved her. He said Laura camera by name it might be Laura. Laura I love you. You said it to the voice recorder. Last thing that was said and then bang, the plane hit the ground. He ended up surviving how many brownie points do you think he got?
Grey 51:31 I imagine quite a lot yeah,
Brady 51:33 that's pretty good. Like my you don't you don't have to just say you know my last thoughts review. Yes, like
Grey 51:38 pre as the as the proof that is this a good story for the person who survived? No, I don't know I just thinking as you're telling me about about your interest in plane crashes. So at this point we have had I don't know the exact staff, but we have had several hundred thousand downloads of these podcast episodes, which is which is quite a lot. And I was thinking there is that given the numbers of people who are listening right now, people on the internet who hear my voice at this very moment, there is a nonzero chance that there is someone who is listening to this in the waiting area have an airplane in the waiting area of an airport. Yeah, or they're on an airplane. That's true, or they're about to get on an airplane. So you've given them a little gift of extra anxiety that Brady, that's from you to the listeners in airports right now. I hope I'm not freaking you out if you're hearing me and you actually are the listener in an airport. Tim.
Brady 52:45 Can I also just add that there's also a nonzero chance that people listening to this have lost loved ones to a plane crash and in fact, I have I know someone who had died in an aviation accident and I just want to say one final time that while I have an interest in the topic, but like I guess I like people, you know, I guess there are people who take an interest in wars and the military. I also think tank pressures are very serious. And, you know, I don't I don't want people to think I'm taking some some gleeful interest in the misfortunate. I think it is just a technical and human interest thing for me. And if anyone has had that happen to them, please know that I can relate to it. Because I've, I've had a similar thing happen. So
Grey 53:29 yeah, I think I think I think people understand that and that and that goes for whenever we talk about any any topic that actually touches on on the unfortunately, near infinite realm of potential human misery, you know, it's like, there's always gallows humor, and that is a way that humans sometimes deal with this kind of thing. in day to day, I will just have a final note for you. And for the listeners, if there are people who share Brady's obsession with airplane crashes. I have been listening. There's a new podcast that's on my Rota, and I'm just going to recommend it now. It's a podcast called pragmatic. It's run by two guys called john and Ben. And one of them is, he's an engineer of some sort in Australia. And they do episodes where they talk about various engineering related things for the most part, but they recently did an episode that I listened to, I'll link it in the show notes called cause and effect where they were talking about analysis of failure. And so what like what do engineers and safety experts actually do? After failure events in any kind of thing, right industrial power plants, they mentioned airplanes, in particular for a reasonable section of the show. And I have I have found the show interesting to see here, what you know, what the, the insights from a real professional in the field talking about engineering topics, and so this one about failure analysis was very interesting. And they have a big section about airlines. So I will put that in the show notes for listeners to potentially go check out and for you ready to go potentially check your site. you've sold me on it. Definitely. All right, I'll be I'll put it in. I'll put it in the notes there. We've been going an hour, maybe we should have a topic that I don't know. sooner, sooner or later, it's going to be nothing but feedback right as, as as a assuming that this goes on for a while as a function of time, the percent of feedback grows right, because eventually everything trends towards feedback, but not today yet, but we're getting close there I guess.
Brady 55:36 languages? Yes. Let me let me tell you a story. Yes. I changed schools partway through high school. And I moved to a new school where French was taught as as the language that everyone had to do. And all my fellow students had been doing it for about two years, and I had never, ever encountered a single word of French I knew nothing. And I my first day in class I was called upon to read from the book first, you know, to sort of gauge what I knew. And I think the first thing I had to say I had to read was I can't remember if it was germer pill, I think I might have, I think it might have been just sweet and I think I said, Gee Seuss or something like that. And I was laughed at terribly by all the other students and I was told you know, that that's how far behind I was. That's how little I knew. I'm sorry. So I saw my and I was behind and I never caught up and I was I was quite a good student, I got quite you know, I got quite decent marks and I found school quite easy. But languages in particular French, I never, I never got there. It was it was a real Achilles heel, and it remains so to this day. I am very bad at picking up any aspects of a foreign language when I need to lose I'll be very interested to hear your thoughts on language.
Grey 56:58 The reason that this is is A topic that I thought is worth talking about is in one of my videos, and I'm not actually even sure which one it was, I think it was one of the q&a ones. I made an offhanded reference to getting rid of foreign language classes in schools. It wasn't it wasn't the the focus of the video, it was just something that happened to be mentioned in the video. And I think there is there is nothing that I have ever said. In like, if you take the ratio of feedback divided by the amount of time I spent talking about something, nothing beats this comment about ditching the foreign language requirements in schools. I still get emails and angry tweets about this all the time from people who are coming across. As I said, I think it's the q&a video. They come across that thing and just bam, right? out goes an angry email with random caps in some of the sentences perhaps Telling me just everything about how, how wrong I possibly am and how terrible of a person I am and how much of a just a culture crushing Anglo file I am. And so I thought, I've always been meaning to do a video about this, but I know this is this is one of those topics. I'll never I'll never make this into a proper reply video like I always want to. So maybe this is just the time to talk about a little bit so that that is the background. Well, I'm not surprised.
Brady 58:31 Tell me. Tell me your position.
Grey 58:33 Yeah. So the way it came up is is Yeah, I definitely now know it was one of the question answer videos because the way it came up, is someone was asking, since I was a teacher, what would I want to add to the school curriculum that wasn't already there? Yeah, and my answer for a lot of reasons I'm people have seen me talk about this a lot is computer programming, that if I have to pick something To me, this is just the no brainer, right? that there should be much, much more computer programming in high schools than there currently is. which is, which is basically none. You know, for all intents and purposes, especially here in the UK, I know they've added a tiny bit, but it's still so little really. But now as having been a teacher, I've been on the other side of this where there's always a lot of pressures on schools to include more things. You know, there's always initiatives, you know, or government changes, right, or things that want to be added to the school schedule. But as a teacher, you know, something has to be taken out. And so that's why I thought the interesting question is, okay, it's, it's too easy for me to just say, well, kids should teach more computer programming languages. Yeah. The tricky thing is, well, what would you take out? And for me that the answer is, I look across the school curriculum. foreign languages are just this big, juicy, slow moving target. Just such like like a criminal waste of students time as required classes that I would I would just ditch it without without any hesitation.
Brady 1:00:19 Before I ask you to expand on that. Yeah. It's funny that you say that though. Because, I mean, I spend a lot of time talking with people who are advocates of coding and computer programming. Yeah. And one of the things they pointed out that is quite helpful to develop your skills as a programmer is a good understanding of languages, including foreign languages, okay. Let's just It teaches you about syntax and you know, things like grammar and things like that. And
Grey 1:00:43 yeah, yeah, first of all, first of all, here's here's the position that I'm taking on this right. I, I'm not completely against foreign languages. So in my own schooling, this is back in New York. Back in the day, when I was in Middle School, which I don't know exactly what grades I can never remember what grades that corresponds to here in the UK. But anyway, in middle school, we did what was called a language survey class, where one year we did I think it was five or six different languages. So you each language for a couple of months. And the purpose of that was to introduce you to all the languages and then you get to select which language you're going to be chained to, for the next five years. Right? But like, here, kids, why don't you you know, we'll do this exploration is fun thing. And then, you know, off to the salt mines, you go to learn how to conjugate verbs. And so I remember, I remember that survey class quite well because as a kid, it was definitely like, you know, Mind blown kind of experience, you know, what do you mean? verbs and adjectives don't have to go in this order. I don't even understand And I can honestly say that, you know, I never understood grammar until I was introduced to foreign languages because it was just, you know, it's like the old like the fish in the sea kind of thing, right? The fish can hardly know what the water is because they're just surrounded by it. And I and so I genuinely think a little bit of introduction to foreign languages is hugely helpful to be able to, Oh, I get it. This is what an adverb is, or, you know, this is why infinitives are sort of strange in English, but they make more sense in Spanish. Yeah, like I think that that's really good. But I don't think you need you know, depending on where you are in school, four or five years of a foreign language to get the benefit of that. I honestly think a one year survey course or two year survey course is like way more than adequate to get a lot of the benefits that people are often talking about with, you know, realizing and understanding your own syntax and Possibly for the same kind of thing with computer programming, right? Understanding the notion of how to express thoughts in a way that is not your native way.
Brady 1:03:09 That I mean, you're assuming here that the reason to learn another language is to give you a greater appreciation of your own language or computer programming. But surely the point of be teaching people in other languages so they can learn the other language.
Grey 1:03:22 Yeah, but obviously, obviously, that's just a total failure. Right? Me. I just think I was a teacher. And at one school in particular, off language languages were so much the kids were required required Brady to learn Latin, and two other languages. So they had to do three languages. Yeah. And usually what it ended up happening is almost this was a girls school. Almost all the girls were doing Latin, German, and French. Yeah. Now why don't you ask me how many of those kids could Speak Latin, German or French at any kind of competent level? And the answer was none of them. Right. None of them could do even the most basic kind of conversations even at the end of their of their experience. Right. So,
Brady 1:04:13 yeah, but they had to learn physics from you, too. How many of them do you think still do physics?
Grey 1:04:17 Oh, alright. Well, we'll talk about teaching someday. Right? But But, you know, this is the kids used to ask me that go, you know what, you know, when am I ever going to use physics? And my answer was always never, you're never going to use this. There is a benefit
Brady 1:04:29 to learning it for a long time
Grey 1:04:30 right now. Heat, right. So this is this, we have to prioritize things. And I completely acknowledge that the kids that I spent I guess it depends on on how the curriculum goes by split says put the same amount of time teaching kids physics as they as they spent learning, French or Latin. I completely agree that that the maybe the comprehension at the end of that is comparable, right that you ask any of my students two years later How much physics they remember. And it's going to be, it's going to be pretty dismal. Yeah. So it can't just be an argument about utility. And this gets this gets very quickly into, again, another another topic of conversation. This starts to really mess up my mind. Because when you start thinking about this, the same kind of thing is applicable across all subjects, right? Students learn and retain very little from school. So if you're a teacher, you know, at, you should be, you know, in your dark moments at three in the morning, you know, when it's just you when your thoughts and the bleakness of your existence, right, you start thinking, what is school? Even for what like, what, what is this thing that we're all doing? Why are we all here? They're not can remember anything? You know? So like, you can get into existential questions about what is the purpose of school very, very quickly and I can say There is some value in school, exposing kids to a variety of different things. And some of them will be interested in some things and some of them will be interested in others. Yeah, right. So one of the benefits of of a science class, I will agree with you, I think particularly in the UK, there might be Physics for too long. It's very different.
Brady 1:06:25 But I'm not saying we do physics. There's nothing to agree with here. And I never I'm just putting it out there.
Grey 1:06:30 Yeah, yeah. I guess I'm trying to lay this out. Right. It's like, yeah, like, okay, so there are there. But if you're teaching sciences, or math, or economics in school, or I'm hesitant to include this, but I'll, I'll include like, literature by things a little different. I think that there are lots of benefits that can come out of that, right. You don't necessarily need a lot of people. go on to become scientists because those scientists have a disproportionate impact on society as a whole. So there is benefit to exposing kids to science. Now I look at, I look at the language side of this. And I think what is the potential benefit of forcing basically all of the of the child population of a country to learning a foreign language for years and years. And we think we talked about systems last time I look at that, and I think men your return on investment on this is just terrible. It's a terrible return on investment. Because the kids are not gonna they're not going to learn the language. And for kids who even who liked the language, it's not like getting a mathematician or an engineer, like even like the broad impact of that particular student is not necessarily very high. So For people who like languages, I'm very much in favor of languages existing as as electives if you want to take a language class, I am not here saying no, you can't take that class. I just think it should not be it should not be required in the slightest. And in particular, and I think this is what got some people mad because I mentioned in the video, I honestly think that the teaching languages is going to be very rapidly, just a totally useless skill. Because natural language processing and computer translation of languages is getting very good very fast. And so I'm thinking if I was if I was in charge of a school, and I was trying to pick subjects that would maximize potential future productivity for the students in my school languages would be at the absolute bottom. of the list because I'd be doing the calculation of like, Okay, well, these kids are coming in. It was the British system, you know, they're 11 years old when they start, they're going to leave when they're 16 or 18. In that five or eight year period of time, starting from today, the amount of progress that's made in translation technology is going to be I think, bigger than people estimate.
Brady 1:09:22 Wolfram Alpha now, but we don't stop teaching math.
Grey 1:09:26 Yeah, that's true. But I think this is one of the reasons why I always I actually quite liked teaching, teaching physics because I was always able to just tell the kids like, Look, just use your calculators, you know, I don't want you to do this long division by hand. Right? That's, that's not a good use of your monkey brain, right to be sitting there and writing down 100 numbers and trying to figure out the long division by hand
Brady 1:09:48 they need to know what's happening underneath the calculator. Don't Yeah. And it's not a bit the same with languages. Well, okay. Well, I can sure I can have everything translated, but I'm not really you know, I we started To around a foundation here,
Grey 1:10:01 I don't Well, I don't understand a foundation of what because languages are largely a communications protocol like, like, when two languages come up,
Unknown Speaker 1:10:10 you say, again,
Grey 1:10:13 you're a robot, an average person is going to run into a linguistical problem way more frequently in their life than they're going to run into a physics problem. You know, you don't go on holiday, and someone won't rent you a room at a hotel until you explain the Higgs boson to them, right? Like this is not going to happen. You know, but maybe you're stranded somewhere and you don't speak Portuguese. Right? Yeah. So like, that situation is going to be way more frequent. But, but you can already communicate with that person without speaking their language at all. And I was actually when I moved to London, this is I mean, this is years ago now. I actually shared a flat with a few people. And one of them was this French girl. And she basically spoke no English, but she was renting a room. And you still have to communicate with someone about splitting the rent, or the bills or the chores and all this kind of stuff. And we did it. I mean, this has got to be now eight years ago entirely through Google Translate. Right? You know, she didn't speak a word of English. I didn't speak a word of French. But we were able to get the basics across, you know, enough that you could actually like co exist with this person who doesn't speak the language just sitting at a computer together and writing things into the fields. Yeah, that is exactly what we did. Right? We just took turns, you know, she would type in the French spot, I would type in the English part and Google Translate did it. So did you ever like wonder if you were like saying can you please You know, pay for half electric bill and translate got it wrong. And you just proposition? Well, what? One of the things you did really, or one of the things I realized very quickly, at least with the the technology at the time, and I assume it's similar it was that you learn to make the sentences nice and smooth, right, nice and clear. You know, not a lot of, you know, something something comma tangent, comma, back to the main thing. You know, because then, you know, she would just look, obviously, the translation just went haywire. And she didn't understand at all just trying to say. But so I look at that as well, and sorry, language teachers, but I view that whole field as potentially replaceable by technology in a shorter time period, then people are imagining, and so the very, like, even the idea of like, forcing kids to learn for five years, how to speak another language, I just, I think that's just a huge, it's a huge waste. You know, there's way better things that you could do with student time than that, and I'm not here saying that, oh, you should fill all that time with with physics like I have huge problems with the way science is taught and huge problems with the education system in general. So this is not meant to be a championing for the rest of it. I know. I think it's all pretty terrible. But I think that the Language part of it is just the most few tile that there can possibly be.
Brady 1:13:07 Okay. Let me respond.
Grey 1:13:11 Yes, I'm sorry, go.
Brady 1:13:14 It is hard for me to mount a case against what you're saying for several reasons. One being that, you know, I was hit bad at languages and I came out of my only I haven't done it for a year, but I came out of, you know, learning French not being able to speak French. And the case you make for reducing the time, suddenly it becomes a case of, you know, they may sort of tweaking dials, and I don't know how long is too long, and I haven't experienced five years of one language. You certainly make it sound excessive, and make a strong case. But when I think back to school, you know, I'd never been out of my country before probably like a lot of students in countries like Australia and the United States. There was no There was nothing in my school experience that gave me a better idea and a better feeling for the scale and the differences of the world that I live in. Then those lessons, even when it was just learning to say, Gemma pal Brady, to propel, c'mon, or whatever, like, even even if it was just doing that, it kind of broadened me in a funny way, you know, I'd never been outside of Australia and it made me realize that there were, there was this bigger world I was living in and I know this is a bit wishy washy, and it's it might not appeal to you. But even now, you know, now that I traveled to all these countries, that time learning French somehow still, it still is within me that sticks me and it comes back to me quite a lot. And I think it it instilled in me not like a sense of adventure and I need to travel but a sense that there was a bigger world I was living and then this little city I was living in in Australia and there's very little In school, you know, learning history of World War One, or learning that, you know, Albert Einstein was German. These things don't do that. They don't give you that sense of that you live in something big and mysterious, the way that actually sitting there and having to learn to speak the funny language these people speak does and I think, I think, I don't know, I don't know what you think about that, but you certainly haven't mentioned it.
Grey 1:15:26 Well, okay, there's a few things about that. First of all, you got this appreciation in a much shorter time than Yes, time that most students actually spend learning lessons. Fair enough. And and that's why they take the survey course that I was mentioning before, it seems to me a reasonable amount of time, one year, maybe two. I often see this about this, you know, this appreciation for foreign cultures. And I, you know, having seen a lot of suits, obviously I haven't taught languages but Mei, Mei Mei and put up with this, my estimation of it is that there are certain kids who are going to, to kind of naturally develop an appreciation for the other and for the different. Yeah. And something at their in their life is going to trigger that at some point. And you know, maybe it happens to be the language classes, but if it wasn't the language classes, it would be something else. You know, making them making them realize like, Oh, this is big wide world out there. And lots of students are just totally interested. And this is this is gonna sound just almost unbelievable, but I remember when I was younger doing the first the first couple maybe miserable years of the Spanish language. I remember in my brain feeling like this was some kind of Bizarro arbitrary exercise. of just translating all of these English words into this other language for just no reason that I could I could possibly appreciate.
Brady 1:17:09 But that's how a whole bunch of other people feel about mathematics and science. Like, I think I think that's what you don't realize. I think language languages can trigger your imagination and can trigger your your wonder of the world the same way that physics and maths can trigger your wonder of the universe. And it's not going to trigger it for everyone. Just like I see a whole bunch of people who love science and it makes them love the universe and think language is a waste of time. There's another group who love languages, and
Unknown Speaker 1:17:42 they
Brady 1:17:43 completely feel that cold way about science and mathematics and it's just doing stuff by rote. And I think that's the people that you've upset with your video. You've you've thrown, you've just brushed aside half the people without brushing aside the math and science. is so you've kind of you've, you've taken us aside in a way, and that's who you've upset.
Grey 1:18:05 Yeah, I guess I but I think the part of this is this is quickly rolling into a bigger discussion about education in general. So But no, no, but I feel I feel the same way about the way sciences are taught that it is just a total waste for almost everybody who was there,
Brady 1:18:22 but your video advocating throwing, throwing it away the way you did about languages?
Grey 1:18:27 Yes, but that is because I think that languages are, are if we're, if we're ranking them in, like stuff that just needs to change. From my perspective, the language is just the worst example of what school is, you know, for. For the vast majority of students. It is just endless wrote, that will probably be replaced by machines very shortly, you know, no skill acquisition at the end, and no real chance for huge societal upside, right, like computer programming, even if the vast majority of students don't Don't ever do anything with computer programming. It's almost like from from, from a government's perspective, like, every kid who does computer programming is a little lottery ticket, and you only need a couple of them to pay off, you know, before you get, you know, a Google before you get an apple. But you're never going to get that kind of benefit from language classes. That's just not I
Brady 1:19:20 can't agree. I can't agree that having a generation steeped in a better understanding of other cultures and other languages because sometimes the language of culture has to be integrated. I can't agree that having a generation steeped in that does not have a societal impact, especially in a world that's becoming more and more integrated, and work and people and we're spending more and more time with people who speak other languages and live in other cultures. I think what I just said, Surely a bunch of surely a bunch of people have a great understanding of people from other from other nations. That has a societal impact when you know when occasionally we see ourselves on the brink of wars, or business deals are being done with huge amounts with people from other cultures? I think I think you're dismissing a lot of the stuff that goes hand in hand with learning languages and the benefits of those things. Okay, at least I think that argument could be made.
Grey 1:20:16 Yeah. To the two points here. The first remind me to come back to the business thing in case I forget anything. But the first is, I agree that there was a big benefit from having students have an appreciation of other cultures. Yeah, I'm not I am not against that. Yeah, I again, if I'm in charge of a school, I do not think that language instruction is the best way to have students actually get appreciation of other classes. Right. Like I would, I would start with that as the goal and say, Okay, look, let's, we have four years of extra time. Yeah. What can we do in four years that can genuinely Increase cross cultural appreciation. Instead of just teaching languages,
Brady 1:21:07 that's not what you said. At least that's not what people heard you say they heard you say, let's fill that time with coding.
Grey 1:21:13 Well, yes, yes. Right. That this is this is what our Yeah,
Brady 1:21:18 yeah. Yeah. I'm sort of sympathizing with
Grey 1:21:20 you that no, no, no, you're, you're completely correct. But this is this is the argument that I usually hear is, is cross cross cultural promotion is good. I agree with that. I think there are better ways to do it. And here is my completely unrealistic ideal scenario would be say, Okay, look, we have some amount of, of human effort and money that is spent to educate kids in Latin for four years, right? Instead of instead of doing that for four years, let's concentrate this into six months, right and try to do some kind of student exchange program. very intensely in a six month period of time. Now I understand that on on a nationwide level that is not very practical. I'm kind of imagining for, you know, a solution that an individual school might be able to do. And I think a situation where you could just basically ship some of your students off to an actual foreign country for a limited period of time for six months, and just say, you know, look, here we go, here's a box, it's you know, it's labeled shipped to roven. Yay, me, off you go. And, you know, good luck with that. There's going to be nobody there who is from your culture. That would be a transformative experience, that would be so much more valuable
Unknown Speaker 1:22:40 than not sitting in a chair one, but yeah,
Grey 1:22:43 yeah, that well, this is this is why I don't think it I don't think it is remotely practical on a nationwide level to do that kind of exchange. But I can, honestly, I haven't thought about this too much. But I can imagine a similar scenario where You try to do something more remotely like having students interact, you know, through Skype or something like it with students in other places. I know I can see that as being more beneficial for trying to foster that kind of sense of the world than a language class. I just think if if your goal is cultural appreciation, I think language teaching is is the bad way to go about it. I think this is a defensive language teaching and if cultural appreciation is you what you want, I think there are better ways to do that. And I certainly have a lot of friends that wish they could have had all their maths and physics and chemistry education condensed to a six month taster and then a foreigner illinit oliday. But well, yeah, and again, we can talk about this at some time, but my my my dream, again, another impractical dream. I once tried to write out of course, for this when I was a crazy younger teacher. But But, but my my dream for the sciences would be to actually Like a to stream system in the sciences, and to have a course that's basically science for non scientists, for people who are not intending to do this as a career or related to this as a career, I think if it's the same thing like, like, the argument that is given for teaching science a lot is this got here to so much right? We need citizens who are scientifically engaged, because it's a complicated world and blah, blah, blah. And I felt the same way that look, if that's your goal, teaching straight up physics is a terrible way to do that. Or there's a if your goal is to have scientifically literate students who are not professionals in this area, you could design a much better course to achieve that as the end. You know, but but making kids do F equals MA calculations all day, that's not producing scientifically literate people in the way that you're claiming. That you actually want. So that's, that's part of my frustration. I will just let me just say I will say in defense One thing here, which is that, again, if I was in charge of the school, there is one language that I would require. Can you if you were going to make any guess it's not a computer language. This is not really like a trick question. But I would require maybe, you know, six months or a year of training in a foreign language, would you be able to take a guess what I would, I would pick the language of love.
Unknown Speaker 1:25:32 I am guessing,
Grey 1:25:35 to say, Mandarin, good gas, good gas, but I would actually mandate a six month sign language course. Yeah, that's what I would pick. If I was in charge of school. Again. I'm getting rid of four years of junk and I'm trying to pick more interesting things to do. Yeah, and I mentioned this because I'm not sure if we've ever discussed this, but my wife and I, for a year basically kind of taught ourselves a little bit of American Sign Language. And this was a byproduct of basically I had some terrible schedules as a teacher where I was talking all day and I could not talk in the evening because my throat was just just gone. And I was I was legitimately concerned about losing my voice over the long term. This is a kind of, you know, professional issue for some teachers were I had like a sharp pain in my throat and so I was thinking I shouldn't really be talking if you feel that and so we were just doing it as a kind of couple activity, you know, just something interesting to do and,
Brady 1:26:43 and we wouldn't do it would you come home with a sore throat and speak side though?
Grey 1:26:47 So let's be clear here first. This was years ago, so please do not try to speak sign language to me. If you speak American Sign Language. My level was never above that. of like a very Very poor toddler. But my wife and I did learn the sign language alphabet. And we learned a bunch of basic signs. So you could communicate some some simple stuff. And I have to say, doing that was an was an amazingly interesting experience. And it it, I have never felt like my brain was being more rewired than when we were doing this. And the example that I'll give, which we laughed about sometimes because it was so ridiculous, we both felt the same way was learning the fingerspelling alphabet, that's you there's a hand gesture for each letter of the alphabet doing this one. So my wife also had a sore throat, which is the best situation but so we're trying to practice by spelling words that each other and guessing what the words were. And it was this very clear feeling that the part of your brain that is used to reading is just not connected to the Same part of your brain that is used to looking at humans. And so also just for nerds in the audience, people who watch my videos very closely also know this. I did in high school teach myself a little bit of Esperanto, which was a foreign language that I really did enjoy learning because I hated Spanish. I had no interest in it, but Esperanto was very cool. So I have like, learned how to read stuff in another language, but the sign language stuff was just it was mind blowing. So like my wife would be doing in the Hanson zone. d o. g. And I would be sitting there looking at her going Dow Jones dog Oh, right job, right. And then and then every the same is the same thing. Like, you know, be you ask the bus, right. It was it was amazing. It was just so clear that that some part of my brain was
Brady 1:28:54 that you and your wife have some scintillating conversations. Yeah.
Grey 1:28:59 It was But it was so interesting. And I think one of those experiences people talk about, you know, learning a foreign language is a different kind of learning experience. And in my own personal experience, the sign language thing felt like that just compressed and times 1000. And plus, I kind of want to do a video about this, I'm not sure that I ever will. But sign language, if you just know a couple things, it's so freaking useful. I cannot tell you the number of times I wish that other people knew the sign language gesture for Thank you. Right? Because, again, if I'm sort of, you know, there's a number of situations where your attention is distracted by something, but you just want to like acknowledge another person who's done something nice for you. If you could just do that as a gesture and people could know, I think that would be great. It's,
Brady 1:29:50 this is another step towards your dream of not having to actually talk to other humans.
Grey 1:29:55 No, but it's, it's it's genuinely I think that just a couple of things. If you could know Yes, no, please. Thank you. It's I'm not asking for a lot you know for it. But if every if every person in the world knew the sign language gestures for that, I think that that is genuinely beneficial because it's it's an additional it's an additional way to acknowledge somebody,
Brady 1:30:16 it is an often way it is one of the most often use terms for which there is no nonverbal communication, I guess. Yeah, yeah. It's it's but maybe that's the point of Thank you is that you have to make an effort to give it if you could do an easy Thank you. It wouldn't be much of a thank you with it.
Grey 1:30:31 Yeah, but if someone is across the room, for example, and you notice that they have done something nice, and they're looking at you right, like, yell Thank you across a busy room
Brady 1:30:41 comes up or you can give them just a knowing No, I don't whenever you're charming
Grey 1:30:43 smiles. Yeah, I don't know. I think a good point. It's good. I think I think the sign language thing is, is useful. And that is where if, again, if I'm designing if I'm in charge of school, I'm designing my ideal curriculum from scratch. You know, after shipping kids off to Finland Yeah, six months, bring them back, you know, then I would do a little course in sign language and say, you know, say that whole thing took a year. I think that's a, both of those things combined are way better experience than you're ever going to get, both in terms of cultural understanding, and the benefits of learning about another language than from doing, you know, six years of French. The number keeps going up. As I talk about it more. It's really five years.
Brady 1:31:23 I know, as usual, we won't have done justice to the argument you were trying to make, but that's what follow up for us next week. I'm already feeling terrible about it.
Grey 1:31:32 the only the only final thing I mentioned two things is this argument that I'm making. When I got into some discussions about on the internet in the first place, I was always trying to clarify to people that if I was if I was in charge of a school, in a non English speaking country, I would have English as a foreign language, that I would not be making the same arguments. That if I was in charge of a of a school in Italy, I would want English as a foreign language classes to be a requirement. And this just made people even angrier i can i can imagine that. That was like the word. I thought I was being all recently here like, oh, let me clarify my position. Like you've clarified me into greater anger. Yeah,
Brady 1:32:20 you want everyone in the world to speak your language, you'd be on your time zone.
Grey 1:32:24 Yeah. And, and the thing was, I didn't you know, this is this is of course, the problem of being a native English language speaker and, and I often wish that I had just grown up being able to speak another language. But you know, that that is that is not my lot in life. But if you are an English language speaker, there is very little return on investment in most cases in learning another foreign language. They're just there. It's it's very hard to ever do and I know that in my adult life, I have made a couple of attempts to try to do that, you know, and it's It's been very, it's been very unsuccessful. I actually have a list of things, just I have a to do list, I have a not to do list. And the top of my not to do list is learn another language. Because every once in a while I get this into my brain, like, you know what you should really learn another language. And I'd like look at the piece of paper which says, you know, you should really not do this, you have tried many times and failed, and you've written it on this little piece of paper to remind you, this is on your not to do list. But do you think that that you know, like it or not learning English is beneficial if you don't have English as your native language? And I have to say that the reason why we're thinking this is a topic is another podcast recommendation is the Freakonomics podcast. I know did you listen to that
Brady 1:33:51 as I am subscribed to it, and I'm yet to listen to it. I'm too busy listening to all the other ones you've recommended to me. Okay,
Grey 1:33:56 well, they they just did an episode that was actually about language learning. And of course, some me I just had this feeling that Oh, I'm sure learning English is great in a way that is not necessarily the reverse for native English language speakers to learn another language. And that was basically the conclusion of their show as well. I felt slightly vindicated by that was looking they were doing a very utilitarian measure of it, but they were looking at the the effect of foreign language learning on the individuals income, you know, how does this actually affect it? And the bottom line was that if you are a native English speaker, learning an additional language has a trivial effect on your average salary. When you look across a population. It was some it was something like 200 or $300, on average a year increase in salary it was it was negligible.
Brady 1:34:56 But if money is your only metric for success in life, then I heartily agree.
Grey 1:35:01 Yes. And then of course, the reverse was the case with non English native speakers that it was, it was a substantial number. You know, it was it was you know, I think it was a couple thousand dollars a year was was kind of the the immediate financial benefit from learning English. So yeah, just just from a financial perspective it was it was kind of backing up the, if you do not speak English as a native speaker, you you probably might want to learn this. Although the interesting thing which did not occur to me and sort of Freakonomics is is interestingly counterintuitive sometime. They did mention that if you're going to learn a language, if you are a native English speaker, and you're going to learn a language, and your goal is to maximize income in the future, you want to pick an infrequently spoken language, which would not have occurred to me but kind of makes sense. Makes sense in reverse, or that if if you can learn a language that is spoken much less frequently that is my Much more valuable because again it like thinking about oh yeah, of course businesses. They're probably in America not shorts on English and Spanish speakers, you know, that's probably not hard to find. But if you're if you're going for a rare language, Norwegian and English is probably much harder to find. And then consequently is much more valuable. So I thought that was interesting little comment from their podcast. Indeed. And the there was an economist who has this little quote, which I think I'll just finish off this little section with, cuz I thought it was so great. I had to pause the podcast and write it down. So this was an economist who studies languages as a profession, and his comment was, if people are going to get some basic career benefit out of learning languages, or it enriches their personal life, then foreign language study is great. But if it's a language that doesn't really help their career or they're not going to use It and they're not happy when they're in the classes. I don't really see the point. Teaching languages seems cruel to me. I thought that was I thought that was a good kids little wrapping up there.
Brady 1:37:13 So yeah, I just got an email. Yeah. From fi hot. Oh, did you? Yeah, she's saying do I want to go and hang out with her and a few friends for Pi Day?
Grey 1:37:24 Oh, do you think deeply envious
Brady 1:37:27 but do you think she'll be upset if she finds out that what we've been talking about?
Grey 1:37:31 We said nice things about her video I
Brady 1:37:32 liked if we did, we did send us things about her video.
Grey 1:37:35 I am really sad that I don't get to be there with you as
Brady 1:37:38 well. But we might come to blows you see, because I'm not gonna be able to resist telling her that I think pies still lovely and should be celebrated. But there has been another criticism of our podcast.
Unknown Speaker 1:37:50 Oh, yeah.
Brady 1:37:52 That it ends too abruptly.
Grey 1:37:53 Oh, yeah. I wanted to mention this. I wanted to mention this
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Episode List[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- "H.I. #7: Sorry, Language Teachers". Hello Internet. Hello Internet. Retrieved 11 October 2017.