May 10th, 2004

Tom Baker


Look! The Erisian Kabbalistic Tree. This lines up really well with my own kabbalistic heresy- that the tree is actually a sphere, and nodes on opposing sides are really just the same thing, so in this Reality/Fantasy, Skepticism/Doubt, Inquity/Curiosity, etc. are exactly the same thing. And the astrological correspondances are bang-on I think.

Wait... I'm a Taurus. Shit, I'm going to break down, leak oil, and be a mediocre midsize sedan for the rest of eternity!

Meanwhile, this is terribly creepy, yet terribly cool. Totally worth the watching. Enjoy and be disturbed. Probably not the best thing before bed.
run the fuck away

Morning Linkagesesesesesssss

First off, something terribly cute and geeky- My Little Ponies redone as the Justice League. I really like the Batman one.

Speaking of justice and leagues (okay, leagues have nothing to do with anything), Australia's aboriginies have started their own political party.

Lawrence Lessig offers a great idea, why not offer bounties on spammers. Dude, I'd so be a spam bounty hunter (do I smell a story in the offing?).

Last but not least, Japan has arrested an academic for writing a P2P sharing app. He was "abetting infrigenment". *sigh* They might have something on the charges of him helping people distribute infringing materials. However, the P2P app... I see no criminal act there- though it is Japan, and they have different laws. It _shouldn't_ be illegal though. Like anything else, it's a tool- how people use it should not detract from any legitimate value it may have.

I cite as an example Bittorrent. Here's a file sharing luxury. You download a small .torrent file from the Web, IRC, or wherever. Put it into your bittorrent client, and your client joins a P2P network specifically centered around that file you're downloading. Now, this is great for illicit stuff (I mostly use it for TV shows, and while that's infringement, if the companies were smart, they'd put their own, commercial included versions online, and I'd more than happily download those- but I won't pay for cable). However, bittorrent has a very strong legitimate use. I downloaded Mandrake 10 through bittorrent. "Red vs. Blue" puts all of their episodes up on bittorrent. Why? Because they don't have to pay for the bandwith when that happens. Sure, they have to maintain a seed, but most of the load is picked up by other clients- other computers like yours or mine that happen to be downloading the file.

It's created a "bittorrent ettiquite"- you should always upload more than you download. After your download completes, if you don't sit in the torrent for awhile, you're considered a leecher. Mind you, no one can really _know_ that you were a dick. But there's a Kantian Categorical Maxim involved- if everyone leeched, the BT network wouldn't work. People have to be willing to sit in the torrents and let other people download, or it doesn't work for anyone.

Correction: apples491 points out in a comment that the tracker (the server responsible for making sure all the chunks of the shared file get directed to the right places) can track the up/down ratio of the clients, and that some trackers, specifically that unnamable shadow society, do ban leechers.
johnny cash


So, in sos_usa someone claimed that Nancy Regan coming out in favor of stem-cell research was hypocrisy. Now, I've never seen little Nancy coming out squarely against stem-cell research. In fact, in my memory, she's been closemouthed about it- probably because she favored it, but was toeing the party line.

And it's not like it's a sudden reversal based on her husband's condition. He's had this condition since he was president- so she's obviously had some time to work this one out.

Edit: tyrsalvia pointed out in comments Nancy Reagan has come out in favor of stem-cell research before. So she wasn't closemouthed like I assumed. Moreover, this further kicks someone that claims hypocrisy.

The real kicker though, was that she compared this hypocrisy to "homosexual christians". *facepalm* Okay people, let's do this again, because _some_ of you obviously aren't getting it.

The basis for condemning homosexuality is from the same book that condemns shellfish, consorting with a woman during her period, and various other laws that everyone ignores. By now you all should have seen God Hates Shrimp and the like. The only shock to me is that anyone cares. You want hypocrisy, try throwing out all the laws that you don't like, but holding on to a precious few that make you feel erect and manly.

Furthermore, the old J-man himself said that the law was death without righteousness. I love how people miss _that_ one. Hey-zeus came to _free us from the law_. Imagine Christ as a hippie-anarchist, and you're on the right track. The whole point was that _anyone_ can follow a bunch of rules if you beat them with it hard enough. You're not a _good_ person because you follow the rules slavishly. You're a _good_ person because you think, and choose to do the right thing- and the world is a complex place, and in the end, you're the only one that can choose. You just have to be ready to defend your choices.


Sometimes, I decide to be a Christian just so I can try and get people to understand Christianity, because so few Christians do.
Tom Baker


I have to admit, living in this house the past year has had an unexpected side effect. It's turned me into a console gamer. Not a hardcore one, but I'm feeling the yearning for my own XBox when I leave here- though with the debt I've racked up, I'd better just look forward to the XBox2 and maybe a GBA if I can make friends with an upstate EB employee or Tim to pick up a trade-in for me on the cheap.

At any rate, there have been several games that have captured my interest and imagination. Knights of the Old Republic was the first. (Sorry guys, Halo is fun for multiplayer, and maybe to waste some time on the single player, but the single player is of very limited interest.) Good story, solid gameplay, and a good difficulty curve.

The next game to get me was XIII. Again, very compelling story, and a good first person action gameplay with some thoughtful tweaks (like picking up objects to use as improvised weapons). I'm also fond of cell-shaded graphics (which seems to make me unique in the gamer market). It's a great conspiracy game, retelling the Kennedy assasination in a modern context.

My newest enjoyment is Red Dead Revolver, a western game. This one is just plain fun. Whether it's picking off midget clowns, or riding a bull while taking out attackers with a rifle, it's a cheesy spaghetti western and just plain charming. Sure, reality takes a backseat, but that's more than okay. The really interesting part is that you take on the role of minor characters for one-shot missions, including a flash-back sequence. Fun, fun, fun.

I want to see a game review site for casual gamers. People like me, that tend to lose interest in games very easily, for various reasons, usually because they get too hard. I don't play video games to work. I have no interest in honing my skills. I simply want to be entertained.
Tom Baker


"If something seems inconceivable, you haven't been conceiving hard enough."

A spill from this proposed lab is "virtually inconceivable." That doesn't mean it won't happen. And something about doing research with dangerous bioagents in a major metropolitan center just seems like a bad idea.

Look at it this way. It might triple the cost to move it a few miles away from Boston, into one of the sparser areas. Compare that to the cost if an outbreak occurs where 16G people are crammed into a square mile. Tight quarters make such things spread more quickly. It seems to me, that planning for the worst case scenario, you'd want to avoid such a crowded area.

They want to draw people who work in Boston- but most professionals working in Boston don't live there. They live in the suburbs. So they'd have to commute anyway; most urbanites don't think a 45 minute commute is anything. Put it in a less crowded suburb. At least that way, there's a chance of containing the outbreak, should it occur.