Friday, August 03, 2007


Nothing much to say. I think this blog has run its course, my life has taken so many turns and twists I'm not sure this style of a blog is even appropriate for me. Perhaps I will take up blogging some day in the future but probably not in this same rambling unguided format.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Metaphysics in blogs

So apparently to be a good blogger one needs to read other blogs. Alas I have been so busy that I haven't been able to read hardly anything for fun (except for my daily comics). But today I ventured over to two of my favorite blogs and found religious discussions that I found quite interesting.

The first is Scott Aaronson's blog about a conversation with a fundamentalist Christian and deducing the rules of religious inference. The topic is quite hot for I see regularly scientists and secularists being more on the offensive about the flaws of religion in books, blogs, magazines, and almost every form of print. In addition to these publications we also see that Scott recieved almost 200 comments on the post, which just goes to show how hot a topic it is.

The next blog is a friend over at Orthonormal Basis blogging about questioning acts of faith. While I realize that some may see such a questioning as an unforgivable offense to the Almighty, in my Socratic sytle I would say question on for better to be a reasoned man. Perhaps most of all these two posts have woken me up a bit to things I use to think about quite a bit before I came to this cold dead campus of eternal work. (Not cold and dead because it is secular but rather because I work too much.)

As one of Aaronson's commenter's points out, a part of the missing analysis among these blogs is Wittgenstein's idea of "aspect blindness". In my humble view, it seems that both the fundamentalist and the over-analyzed scientist are both hiding important aspects of their beliefs. Aaronson's post demonstrates how often religious people will hold contradictions solely because they are religious beliefs, this sort of analysis presumes that scientific beliefs which are held solely because they are scientific are more worthy. This shoots to the more important religion/science debate rather than merely attacking the ability of some individuals modus ponens abilities.

Let me expound a bit more on a simple example. Which is a "higher" belief, the belief that without God we would not exist or the belief that without oxygen we would die.

Of course, the second one is verifiable and the first not. Perhaps its easy to stop and say that since this is so and it appears to be true (modulo any science fiction fantasies) that is a "higher" belief. But this in itself seems to be a matter of faith, that true justified beliefs are "higher" and even qualify as "knowledge" (once again modulo the Gettier problem).

But the first belief, or some equivalent religious belief, still might strike one as a "higher" belief simple because of its subject. Such a belief will not pass for any test of "knowledge" and thus also becomes a matter of faith to hold that it is a higher belief. To some this belief does not make a difference in the grand scheme of things, it appears that very little in one's life depends on beliefs of this type. Once again a matter of faith.

Before one starts to even evaluate these beliefs an act of faith must be made. Unfortunately much of the debate about religion and science are riddled with ad hominem and other fallacies, but this essential question of how such an act of faith begins so much of our world views that it will start wars and indecencies among the most rational people.

Of course this path of logic tends to take me into much longer philosophical diatribes, but I guess I should just end my post with a question. How can we evaluate religious beliefs with such scientific reasoning that requires we take an opposite stand of faith?

Friday, April 27, 2007

DNA of Religious Faith

DNA of Religious Faith

This article has me laughing out loud. I suppose it is about like an artist reading a criticizing piece by a philosopher about her art. The philosopher might have some interesting philosophy but at the end of the day had no idea why the artist created.

The idea that there is no benefit to religion because "water hasn't been turned into wine in the last 2000 years" seems to completely miss the point. While this scientist is focusing on what religion can do for the individual, he completely overlooked the society he lives in.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Call me Master Andy

of course with a title like that it makes me wonder if I want the PhD

March unto Death

Never fear, our hero is off.
To defend today the masterpiece of his work.
A riveting essay that will surely put the most tentative audience to sleep;
nonetheless, this rite of passage must be achieved
Or else the hero fades in the dark

Sunday, December 31, 2006

Gaa It's been a whole month

Wow December has flown by. One would think that the follow up to a post apologizing for my absence from my blog would come before a whole month has expired, but alas I'm trying to get all my experiments to work correctly and what not for my master's defense.

Being the last day of the year, it is an excellent time to evaluate whether I should continue posting or become one of the two hundred million people who "thinks they have something to say, until they're put on stage and asked to say it." Although to be a good blogger one not only needs to write on his blog but also read other peoples blogs and comment about them. Otherwise how do we make sure that we pat someone on the back and in turn they pat us on the back for for a well written post.

Well anywho, I have decided to switch over to the new blogger format and as a result I have also changed the template. I was a bit tired of the balloon looking boxes on the pitch black abyss. I am thinking of actually designing something that looks cool for it but as usual I make no promises.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Why I haven't blogged

hmmm I guess this is the nearest confession you get that I am a nerd. But after spending all my free time (and some time I should probably have been working) I almost beat Nethack for the first time. Alas for those who know what I am talking about, here is my dump. And yes that is me only 10 squares away from being able to finish the game.

Eowyn, lawful female human Valkyrie

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---------..-- ----%---- --.---- -
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| / |

Eowyn the Heroine St:25 Dx:18 Co:18 In:14 Wi:15 Ch:10 Lawful
Astral Plane $:0 HP:0(208) Pw:73(73) AC:-16 Xp:23/30043063 T:63123

Your inventory
Z - the Amulet of Yendor named the real deal (alternate weapon; not wielded)
a - the rustproof +1 Excalibur
b - the blessed rustproof +0 Mjollnir (weapon in hand)
r - an uncursed fireproof +2 pair of speed boots (being worn)
y - a blessed fireproof +2 T-shirt (being worn)
C - an uncursed +0 pair of levitation boots
F - an uncursed thoroughly burnt rotted +1 elven leather helm (being worn)
H - an uncursed +0 silver dragon scale mail (being worn)
N - a blessed rustproof +2 pair of gauntlets of power (being worn)
j - an uncursed giant beetle corpse
E - an uncursed lizard corpse
w - 8 uncursed scrolls of blank paper
e - an uncursed ring of teleport control
f - an uncursed ring of free action (on left hand)
q - an uncursed ring of slow digestion
M - an uncursed ring of regeneration (on right hand)
h - a wand of nothing (0:3)
k - a wand of create monster (0:15)
m - a wand of teleportation (0:0)
n - a wand of speed monster (0:5)
p - a wand of fire (0:6)
u - a wand of speed monster (0:6)
x - a wand of slow monster (0:7)
z - a wand of striking (0:5)
A - a wand of digging (0:5)
B - a wand of cancellation (0:5)
D - a wand of digging (0:0)
G - a wand of striking (0:5)
J - a wand of magic missile (0:4)
K - a wand of wishing named already charged once (1:0)
R - a wand of magic missile (0:4)
U - a wand of wishing named charged once (1:0)
V - a blessed wand of death (0:0)
X - a wand of cold (0:2)
d - an uncursed magic lamp (lit)
g - an uncursed magic whistle
i - an uncursed rusty stethoscope
o - a blessed +0 unicorn horn
t - an uncursed skeleton key
I - an uncursed towel
L - the Bell of Opening (0:2)
P - the blessed Orb of Fate (1:0)
Q - a magic marker (0:65)
S - a blessed bag of holding
T - 2 uncursed tallow candles
s - 2 uncursed luckstones
v - 2 uncursed diamonds

Contents of the bag of holding:
16879 gold pieces
an uncursed amulet of reflection
a cursed amulet of unchanging
an uncursed amulet versus poison
4 uncursed food rations
2 uncursed lizard corpses
3 uncursed lembas wafers
2 blessed scrolls of remove curse
an uncursed scroll of teleportation
2 uncursed potions of speed
3 potions of holy water
a blessed potion of object detection
an uncursed potion of object detection
2 uncursed potions of restore ability
an uncursed ring of fire resistance
an uncursed ring of cold resistance
a blessed +1 ring of increase accuracy
an uncursed ring of protection from shape changers
an uncursed ring of sustain ability
an uncursed rusty +1 ring of protection
an uncursed +1 ring of gain constitution
an uncursed ring of polymorph control
an uncursed ring of stealth
an uncursed ring of see invisible
an uncursed ring of invisibility
a wand of digging (0:7)
a wand of digging (0:6)
a cursed wand of cold (0:2)
a wand of striking (0:4)
a wand of magic missile (0:0)
a wand of striking (0:0)
a wand of probing (0:3)
a rusty wand of lightning (0:8)
a wand of striking (0:4)
a wand of striking (0:5)
a +0 pick-axe
an uncursed lock pick
a magic marker (1:33)
an uncursed oil lamp
a can of grease (0:6)
an uncursed blindfold
a can of grease (0:7)

Final attributes
You were the Hand of Elbereth
You were piously aligned
You were fire resistant
You were cold resistant
You were sleep resistant
You were shock resistant
You were poison resistant
You saw invisible
You were telepathic
You were warned
You were invisible to others
You were stealthy
You could teleport
You regenerated
You were protected
You were very fast
You had reflection
You had free action
You were extremely lucky (13)
You had extra luck
Good luck did not time out for you
You are dead (4th time!)

Spells known in the end
Name Level Category Fail
a - magic missile 2* attack 89%
b - create familiar 6* clerical 100%
c - knock 1* matter 89%
d - clairvoyance 3* divination 95%
e - sleep 1 enchantment 89%
f - extra healing 3* healing 82%
g - force bolt 1* attack 89%
h - healing 1* healing 74%
i - wizard lock 2* matter 89%
j - cure blindness 2* healing 74%
k - slow monster 2* enchantment 89%
l - charm monster 3* enchantment 95%
m - detect food 2* divination 89%
n - create monster 2* clerical 89%
o - light 1 divination 89%
p - confuse monster 2 enchantment 89%
q - dig 5 matter 100%
r - remove curse 3 clerical 82%
s - detect treasure 4 divination 100%
t - restore ability 4 healing 100%
u - jumping 1 escape 89%

Vanquished creatures
The Wizard of Yendor (14 times)
Famine (twice)
a high priest
2 mastodons
13 krakens
4 iron golems
3 storm giants
2 glass golems
5 balrogs
11 purple worms
2 gray dragons
7 silver dragons
6 red dragons
6 white dragons
an orange dragon
9 black dragons
7 blue dragons
a green dragon
5 yellow dragons
17 minotaurs
4 jabberwocks
Lord Surtur
10 baluchitheria
2 Angels
2 demiliches
Vlad the Impaler
6 stone golems
a master mind flayer
10 Olog-hai
6 Nazguls
6 pit fiends
4 sandestins
4 hell hounds
10 titanotheres
7 trappers
2 baby blue dragons
a baby green dragon
8 disenchanters
40 vampire lords
5 skeletons
12 aligned priests
5 captains
6 shades
3 liches
6 clay golems
11 nurses
10 ice devils
17 nalfeshnees
7 lurkers above
an Aleax
7 frost giants
an ettin
6 black puddings
25 vampires
7 lieutenants
39 ghosts
a valkyrie
3 queen bees
4 winged gargoyles
3 mind flayers
14 giant mimics
5 zruties
25 fire giants
9 ogre kings
6 ice trolls
11 rock trolls
14 umber hulks
6 flesh golems
13 Elvenkings
7 doppelgangers
15 hezrous
14 bone devils
11 large mimics
4 wumpuses
4 fire vortices
2 baby long worms
7 long worms
3 couatls
18 stalkers
9 air elementals
8 fire elementals
6 earth elementals
45 water elementals
6 hill giants
5 giant mummies
11 xorns
24 giant zombies
17 elf-lords
13 sergeants
7 barbed devils
9 vrocks
3 salamanders
16 wargs
2 winter wolves
12 hell hound pups
17 small mimics
3 glass piercers
9 warhorses
6 steam vortices
7 xans
6 ettin mummies
12 ogre lords
18 quantum mechanics
22 trolls
a sasquatch
6 wood golems
3 erinyes
9 mariliths
a djinni
8 sharks
14 electric eels
4 gelatinous cubes
4 pyrolisks
4 large dogs
3 freezing spheres
17 flaming spheres
18 shocking spheres
2 large cats
11 tigers
8 gargoyles
8 ochre jellies
7 leocrottas
12 energy vortices
4 mountain centaurs
5 stone giants
2 elf mummies
4 human mummies
4 red nagas
2 green slimes
5 pit vipers
3 pythons
38 cobras
59 wraiths
6 carnivorous apes
17 ettin zombies
5 leather golems
23 Grey-elves
63 soldiers
3 watchmen
10 horned devils
5 succubi
12 incubi
4 chameleons
a crocodile
68 giant beetles
5 quivering blobs
23 cockatrices
27 wolves
7 winter wolf cubs
4 lynxes
2 panthers
23 gremlins
4 spotted jellies
13 leprechauns
11 iron piercers
3 mumakil
7 giant spiders
3 scorpions
9 horses
3 ice vortices
10 black lights
12 vampire bats
2 forest centaurs
7 gnome kings
4 orc mummies
8 dwarf mummies
9 ogres
13 brown puddings
12 rust monsters
18 owlbears
4 yetis
5 gold golems
2 werewolves
14 Green-elves
9 piranhas
24 giant eels
9 lizards
8 chickatrices
2 dogs
3 dingos
3 housecats
7 jaguars
3 dwarf lords
4 blue jellies
3 gray unicorns
6 black unicorns
10 dust vortices
7 ravens
5 plains centaurs
6 gnome mummies
6 snakes
12 apes
16 human zombies
2 rope golems
20 Woodland-elves
106 soldier ants
78 fire ants
5 bugbears
2 imps
7 lemures
13 quasits
9 wood nymphs
3 water nymphs
8 mountain nymphs
2 Mordor orcs
12 Uruk-hai
an orc shaman
11 rock piercers
5 rock moles
5 ponies
7 fog clouds
14 yellow lights
a shrieker
11 violet fungi
18 gnome lords
4 gnomish wizards
4 kobold mummies
a black naga hatchling
3 gray oozes
2 barrow wights
16 elf zombies
12 ghouls
5 straw golems
3 paper golems
5 jellyfish
2 baby crocodiles
90 giant ants
3 little dogs
15 floating eyes
2 kittens
17 dwarves
8 homunculi
5 kobold lords
4 kobold shamans
11 hill orcs
22 rothes
3 rabid rats
7 centipedes
a giant bat
3 monkeys
8 orc zombies
14 dwarf zombies
3 wererats
4 werejackals
4 iguanas
138 killer bees
6 acid blobs
7 coyotes
3 gas spores
5 hobbits
8 manes
4 large kobolds
7 hobgoblins
19 giant rats
14 cave spiders
3 brown molds
4 yellow molds
2 green molds
4 red molds
72 gnomes
6 garter snakes
18 gnome zombies
9 geckos
15 jackals
6 foxes
7 kobolds
6 goblins
5 sewer rats
16 grid bugs
2 bats
10 lichens
9 kobold zombies
16 newts
2841 creatures vanquished.

Genocided species:
master mind flayers
master liches
5 species genocided.
Voluntary challenges
You genocided 5 types of monsters
You never polymorphed an object
You changed form 4 times
You used 9 wishes
You did not wish for any artifacts

Your skills at the end
Fighting Skills
Weapon Skills
dagger [Skilled]
long sword [Expert]
hammer [Expert]
Spellcasting Skills
attack spells [Basic]

Farvel Eowyn the Valkyrie...
You died in The Astral Plane with 2413317 points,
and 16879 pieces of gold, after 63123 moves.
Killer: Angel of Loki (with the Amulet)
You were level 23 with a maximum of 208 hit points when you died.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Turning 25

Oh goodness! Who thought it would be this quick. One day things are creeping along and then BAM! I'm now past the age of blaming irresponsibility and lack of major career accomplishments on the fact that I am so young. Okay so in perspective I am still pretty young, but I suddenly feel this weight on my shoulders that if I want to change the world I have to get on it.

Okay enough of that self pity nonsense. I finally got back from The Netherlands, where I was attending a conference on the FEniCS project (an automated mathematical modeling effort). The core members of the FEniCS project consists of Scandinavians and Texans with an Australian and Ohioan thrown in, but hey Australia is supposedly a lot like Texas and Matt is well ... Matt. The dynamic of these two groups are quite interesting, but needless to say the nights after the talks included lots of beer.

Spending three days with these guys was not only a lot of fun but really interesting. We shared our work they shared theirs both eagerly wanting the other to look at it and use it, or at least help out in another problem. But hanging out with this crowd really confirms how much I prefer the science world to the business world. We can talk about the concepts of global effects in physics is really a "Big Brother" approach to science, buying houses in Norway, and then solve all the problems in Africa (yeah something like that) without ever trying to look better than one another or unfair.

Alas I think I am in a good spot for the typical 25 year old, but the next 25 years are going to have to produce some more interesting results.