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Nov 03, 2007

And the Spartans Spartan it up.

They appear to be asymptotically approaching the ability to reliably lose every game by a single score in overtime, after holding a significant lead for maximum pathos. Still working out some of the kinks, no overtime today, for instance, but I'm sure they'll get better.


Emotional Value
Permalink
Oct 17, 2007
Programming

When I was a child, I wanted to be like Spock. For those few who do not know whom I mean, Spock was the science officer on the star ship Enterprise in the famous 1960's sci-fi television show Star Trek. His claim to fame was being half-human and half-Vulcan. Vulcans were an alien race who are so naturally violent that they felt themselves forced to renounce their emotions and turn to a life of pure logic, lest they extinguish themselves in endless war. A common misconception is that Vulcans have no emotions; they do, but they rigidly suppress them.

Spock's major character arc involved a conflict between his "human side" and his "Vulcan side", between "emotions" and "logic". During the television series, he had chosen to attempt being pure Vulcan/logical, but he met with less success than he would have liked. Something never made clear was whether this was purely a personal issue or if perhaps being only half-Vulcan made it somehow biologically more difficult to live with the Vulcan philosophies and disciplines. (Most likely even the writers themselves were conflicted over their interpretation of this.)

Spock's initial choice reflects a common view of emotions, that they are intrinsically opposed to logic, unpredictable and uncontrollable, that you are forced to choose either the cold, cruel world of logic, or the squishy, utterly irrational world of emotion and feeling, but that ne'er the twain shall meet. This is view can be seen in our most ancient literature, where the fiery passions of somebody's loins are routinely contrasted with their cold, austere logical mind.

What absolute garbage!

Read the rest...


This entry is part of the BlogBook called "Programming Wisdom".


Your Inner High School
Permalink
Oct 15, 2007

Perhaps I need new friends, or must ignore their judgments, either way, as we age there’s the assumption we should know better than to do things we’re bad at. If you’re 15 and dance like a hapless idiot, that’s one thing, but when you’re 35, it’s a different story. In my thirties now I find people my age take life so much more seriously than a decade ago and I don’t fit in so well. I’m still crazy. And struggle as I might, my peers have more influence on me that I care to admit. - Why You Should Be Bad At Something

I largely agree with this article, excepting step three of his final heuristic, which I consider optional.

I've noticed a lot of people carrying around what I call their "inner high school" with them, long after they've graduated. Everything they do, everything they say, in the worst cases everything they think, is first run past their inner high school for peer approval.

Humans are inherently social, and active and passive peer pressure is utterly inevitable. But in the real world, you get to pretty freely pick your "peers". In high school, you're stuck with them. Too few people seem to notice this critical difference.

Perhaps the worst aspect of the inner high school is how ignorant of the world it is. There are so many new things coming out all of the time, so many new cultures that are now readily available, so many new ideas and hobbies and skills, that constraining yourself to what your inner high school approves us is a serious limitation indeed. Heck, I can hardly think of a hobby or interest I currently have that my would-be inner high school would even be aware of, let alone approve of. In a world where times change so fast, and so often in the direction of increasing richness being readily available, it's needlessly-limiting to predicate your interests, actions, or even thoughts on the opinions of teenagers from decades past.


Permalink
Oct 15, 2007

Perhaps my Mozilla suggestions are not as unlikely as I feared. No causal relationship, of course.

The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. Good luck to the Mozilla project.


Permalink
Oct 12, 2007

And with this, the Nobel Peace Prize completes its transition. Not into irrelevancy, like you might expect me to say, but into fully-blown misnomer.

Since Yassar Arafat at least won the prize, it's been a joke, but now it has clearly completed the transition to the Nobel Darling-Of-The-Left Prize. Preventing Global Warming could be the most important thing ever, but it's not about Peace. There's an obvious argument that global warming changes might encourage peace, but the same argument trivially converts to an argument it will cause more war. (Sustainability as painted by Gore involves using fewer resources, which can lead to a fight over the reduced resources. I disagree that's the solution, but nobody gives prizes for principled centrist positions.) "I can make an argument that it involves Peace" is a weak standard, opening the field to anybody, anywhere. If that's the desired nature of the Prize, there's nothing wrong with that, but calling it a Peace Prize is then a misnomer.

As I like to say explicitly, I'm speaking broadly of "the left" on purpose. Note I'm not actually criticizing the diffuse "left" here, only the Nobel Prize committee, so it shouldn't ruffle any feathers anyhow.


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