fucking biased media


it's a news article by Reuters. the headline is "Hamas Sets Truce Terms, Israel Demands Crackdown"

but what does that mean?

well by truce they mean, "The Islamic group Hamas ruled out on Monday halting militancy in a three-year-old Palestinian revolt but said it could limit attacks to Israeli soldiers and settlers if the Jewish state stopped harming Palestinian civilians."

in plain English, Hamas offers to only attack soldiers and certain civilians especially the more vulnerable ones who live on settlements, but not all civilians. and this is only if Israel agrees not to shoot at terrorists who use human shields (among other things). that's a "truce" offer.

and by crackdown they mean, "Israel insists on an anti-militant crackdown by the Palestinian Authority as required by the road map, a move rejected by Palestinian officials as a recipe for civil war."

in plain English, Israel insists that the PA keep its word. that's a "crackdown".

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

What's a WMD?

a friend went to a college halloween party, with a costume that was a shirt that said "WMD" on it. was he mobbed by the foaming-at-the-mouth liberals which inhabit all college campuses? was he studiously ignored because the liberals were in the habit of turning a blind eye to WMD?

nope! rather, he was asked what WMD are. people didn't know. and I thought *I* didn't read much news. ah, the warped perspective of a blogger...

this is especially notable after reading this piece on The World. the piece suggests one of the evils that the Nazis did was force many people to learn about war and death and killing, when they would rather have just lived their lives. and so too is it wrong of the terrorists to make us learn about the morality of terrorism. who the hell wants to take a stance on whether we should bomb a terrorist who's in the same building as a baby?

well, apparently plenty of people still haven't taken such stances. I admit probably some of them ought to learn about this stuff, because these issues really are important today, no matter how much we'd like them not to be. but on the other hand, it's nice to hear that not everyone worries about this stuff; some people still get to go on with their lives as usual.

oh, and speaking of learning about these issues. i'd like to express my appreciation of all the US soldiers in Iraq, who deal with them so not all of us have to (or have to much less).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Battle Cry

A Little Boy Lost
by William Blake

'Nought loves another as itself,
   Nor venerates another so,
Nor is it possible to thought
   A greater than itself to know.

'And, father, how can I love you
   Or any of my brothers more?
I love you like the little bird
   That picks up crumbs around the door.'

The Priest sat by and heard the child;
   In trembling zeal he seized his hair,
He led him by his little coat,
   And all admired his priestly care.

And standing on the altar high,
   'Lo, what a fiend is here!' said he:
'One who sets reason up for judge
   Of our most holy mystery.'

The weeping child could not be heard,
   The weeping parents wept in vain:
They stripped him to his little shirt,
   And bound him in an iron chain,

And burned him in a holy place
   Where many had been burned before;
The weeping parents wept in vain.
   Are such things done on Albion's shore?

This is my favorite poem, and I've added it to my sidebar. But what do you think of it? What does the poem mean? Is it right? Why is it important? Is it important? Please discuss.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Government Is Good (Despite What Some Libertarians Say)

One Perspective On Government

Some libertarians oppose governments on the principle that they are organised gangs of thugs. They consider the defining characteristic of governments to be that governments claim the right to initiate force ... and people listen (whereas most thieves don't pretend to be legitimate and aren't considered as such). They point out that they never agreed to pay taxes, and don't want to, and don't like most of the stuff that taxes pay for, and consider that conclusive.

Some of these libertarians support the war on terrorism. They realise that terrorism is a great threat, and to wish see it fought against. Terrorism is so bad that anyone at all fighting it is good. I suppose they must see the matter as a powerful pickpocket guild beating up a renegade gang of murderers. A "lesser of two evils" situation.

(Some libertarians would oppose the war on terror, either because they figure "If we leave them alone, they'll leave us alone, and nevermind Israel," or "No collateral damage is ever acceptable, under any circumstances, for any purpose, even if it is only caused because the enemy is using human shields." But I won't go into how silly I think those approaches are right now.)

Some of these libertarians, if given the option, would be happy to see the US government disappear tomorrow. The institution, the knowledge of how to run it, the taxes, the laws, etc... This is absurd, notably, even within the pickpocket metaphor, as it means foregoing protection.

But there's more than that; there are good reasons to like our government and support it besides self-defense. Our government does various things, some important. Now, the libertarians will insist that all these functions could, in theory, be done by private companies. Well, yes, I agree. But so what? I don't see these companies. They don't exist (yet).

It's not as if an anarcho-capitalist society (in short: free market capitalism with all government functions replaced by private companies and taxes replaced by user fees for people who want the services) would simply come into being without our government. Anarcho-capitalism is not the natural state of affairs that once existed until it was destroyed when a group of evil thugs invented government and took over. It is, rather, a very advanced notion that requires lots of knowledge to implement. This knowledge must be created gradually, through the improvement of existing institutions. Government functions must not disappear overnight, but instead slowly be replaced by private institutions that function better. We need good traditions, not a revolution.

Why Government Is Good

Governments create consent. That's the reason in a nutshell, but of course it needs an explanation.

Let's imagine a group of people living somewhere with no government, and little knowledge. Some will be bad, and will want to dominate over the others. So most people will form mutual defense pacts. And somewhere not too far off, some bad person will have conquered an empire, and formed an army, and thus our people will want to form one big defensive pact, instead of lots of scattered ones, so that they can fend off the entire army if need be. So they will form institutions to cooperate in regional defense. When an invasion looms, there may be disagreements about how many soldiers are needed to fight it off, and who must become a soldier, and where their equipment will come from. Thus, a system to resolve these issues is needed.

And these people will also set up institutions for small-scale defense against criminals. And they will need some system of deciding who is and is not a criminal. The answer to this is not self-evident despite what some libertarians seem to think. There will be disagreements, and thus some way to resolve them will be needed.

One day, Joe's crop goes bad. He asks others for help. They form some food-sharing institutions. They create rules to govern these. The people all value security, and thus put in provisions to help anyone who does not have enough.

One day they invent medicine. They realise that if they only pay the doctor when they are sick, he will starve in the mean time. And also that he will have no motivation to help prevent people from becoming sick. So everyone pays a low price all the time, and the doctor helps whoever needs help at recovery and prevention both. Some people disagree about who the doctor should be helping, saying he favours his friends, and they create institutions to resolve disputes of that nature.

What will all these institutions look like? Well, at first they will be very crude. The defensive agreement might simply state that all able-bodied men must fight when there is a war, or be put to death. The food agreement might allow anyone who is starving to take food from his neighbor, "as long as he made a genuine effort to create his own food." And the system of resolving disputes might be to ask the town elder.

And, over time, people will come up with better ideas. And after a while, and a lot of progress, something like our current government and courts might form.

If this society (that we've imagined) progresses to use a completely voluntary army, that will be an amazing advance. And if it has elected leaders who consent to voluntarily step down when their term ends, that will be an amazing advance. And if criminals are presumed innocent until evidence is presented against them, that will be an amazing advance. And if there are property rights defended by law, and a system of consensual trade, that will be an amazing advance.

When we know how to do better than using government for these things, we will. But we do not. The path to a better society is not to rail against our government, but rather to acknowledge it for what it is: an imperfect, evolving tradition and a great force for good.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (31)

split post

curi looks about 15, skinny, goes barefoot with shorts and a t-shirt in any weather, and moves unnaturally fast. He's standing in front of a bridge over a small, calm river. A long line of people are crossing in silence.

curi: "Salutations! Welcome to my domain!"
Elliot (no description ;p): hmpf
curi: *Waves at people* "What?"
Elliot: They're so quiet.
curi: Hah! Watch this.
curi: *Jumps up and down shouting* Hey everyone! Speak or I'll fire this machine gun *holds up machinegun* into the crowd!
crowd: *stops walking, cowers and cringes*
two bold souls: *shouting* Please don't shoot.
Elliot: ...
curi: see, they talked
Elliot: ...
curi: I'll give you sushi to cheer up.
Elliot: ...
crowd: *trudges on again*
curi: *rolls eyes* Fine, fuck you.
Elliot: no
curi: Now introducing...
curi: *pauses*
curi: Virtue Pure!
Virtue Pure (an adult, dressed classy, and always illuminated by a personal beam of light from the heavens that follows him): Hi everyone. I'm so happy to be here.
Elliot: Why?
Virtue Pure: It's really an honor to be invited. I'm ecstatic just to be in your presence, Elliot. You're brilliant, ya know?
Elliot: You mean bored.
Virtue Pure: No I don't.
Elliot: Are you contradicting me? I thought I was the brilliant one. ;p
Virtue Pure: I meant no offense. I'll try to help you with your boredom.
Elliot: ...
Virtue Pure: Well, give me a moment to think.
curi: you people suck. well at least if I add more it'll make a good orgy...
Elliot: Worst. Pun. Ever.
curi: whatever. now introducing: Isyn Kaitsol.

Isyn Kaitsol is 18, tall, and fairly strong. He wears chainmail under a black robe, and a longsword on his belt. He is a priest of Amilise Siliv, and hopes to one day master arcane magiks as well. He has a bit of an evil problem.

Isyn: Hi! Hi! Glad to be here. Now, you may be thinking, "I know him. He worships an evil Goddess, and would ritually sacrifice children to gain ancient magiks." But I wanted to assure you that Amilise is very beautiful.
Elliot: Oh. Great. I'll sleep easy then.
curi: Hey, stop using sarcasm, that's part of my domain.
Elliot: yeah, sure...
Isyn: Hey, I resent this suspicion. I wasn't even the one who killed Myrdin.
curi: Speaking of killing Myrdin, here's Caeli (also known as Lia)!

Caeli approaches in a polished, steel breastplate with gold inlays, with a longsword on her belt. She stands up straight and seems tall despite being 5'7". Confidence and determination show in her blue eyes. She seems to radiate light, and her pale gold hair flies freely behind her in the light wind. But as she approaches Isyn, the light around her dims and her hair darkens and becomes mixed with brown.

Caeli: *strides up to stand beside Isyn* Myrdin was a traitor that deserved to die. He would have killed us in our sleep if I had not stopped him.
Isyn: *intones* Death comes for us all.
curi: riiiiiiight, *ahem*, so, let's not bring *that* incident up. who wants icecream?
Elliot: not me
Virtue Pure: icecream sounds nice

Tirin Veil, 14, small, quick, and wearing leather armor and a white cape comes running up carrying staff with a sword on his belt. He is an air mage, but unskilled in that art. However, he is skilled with sword and staff.

Tirin: Hi, I thought there just wasn't enough of a crowd, so I'd join in. But fear not, I'm sure I won't get in the way or be a nuisance. In fact, I'll even sing for you. *starts singing Lucky by Britney Spears* "Early morning, she wakes up..."
curi: ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, turn him off, turn him off! i thought i didn't invite him!
Elliot: who made you boss?
curi: i did.
Elliot: oh....
Isyn: *slips up next to curi and nudges him* "So tell me about this becoming boss thing. what's the trick to it?"
Tirin: *singing* She's so lucky, she's a star. But she cry, cry, cries in her lonely heart...
curi: well, first you have to not suck. then not be evil. then be as cool as me. and *then*, maybe learn how to alter reality at will.
Isyn: You can alter reality at will?
curi: *snaps fingers*

A hail of peeled bananas rains down on Virtue Pure.

Isyn: *drools*
curi: You like bananas that much? I'll make you some.
Isyn: Fool.
Tirin: *sings* "Lost in an image, in a dream. But there's no one there to wake her up..."
Elliot: ya know, so many people is really a mess. what were you thinking? you should introduce new characters more slowly. and only when you have some idea for what they might do that'll be entertaining or interesting.
curi: whatever.
Virtue Pure: This is important. What about the poor readers who have to endure this mess? Don't you care about them? Wouldn't the moral thing to do be to try and make a good skit, with some content or at least jokes?
curi: this is easier
Virtue Pure: The path of ease and the path of virtue sometimes go in different directions.
curi: yeah, that's why i picked one....
Caeli: You departed from the path of virtue intentionally? What kind of foul demon are you? *draws sword, which has a slight blue-white radiance* Draw your sword and meet your maker!
curi: you're on, bitch. *draws sword out of nowhere* (curi didn't have a sword until just now)
Isyn: Save his heart, I think I could use it in a ritual.
Tirin: *sings* "Best actress, and the winner is…Lucky!" "I'm Roger Johnson for Pop News standing...
Elliot: argh! stop fighting! can we please have a serious discussion?
curi: hey, no sweat, I can multi-task. *lunges at Caeli*
Caeli: *deflects curi's blow easily and tries to counter*
curi: *blinks out before Caeli's blow cuts him, and appears behind her*
Isyn: What dark sorcery is this? *draws sword and mumbles a prayer*

The sky turns dark, and rain begins to fall. Thunder booms and lightning strikes. Strong winds blow away everyone in the crowd except the main characters (did you even remember the crowd? heh), and the river turns into turbulent rapids. The beam of light from the heavens on Virtue Pure goes out, and Caeli's aura of light flickers with black. Isyn's muscles bulge, and his sword burns with a red-black fire.

curi: hah! I'll take you both on, bitches. Even with your curses.
Isyn: That was a blessing! I'm blessed now!
curi: uh huh
Tirin: *sings* If there's nothing missing in her life, Why do tears come at night?
Virtue Pure: I'm not sure this violence is conducive to flourishing. Maybe we should talk things out.
Elliot: Fuck you all. I'm leaving.

Elliot beings to walk off. Rain pelts his face. He trudges along slowly, looking down but not seeing and thus stumbling on every rock and rut. Virtue Pure chases after him.

Elliot: Leave me alone.
Virtue Pure: But I want to help.
Elliot: I'm not the one who needs help, baka. They're the ones who can't talk about anything and just get in sword fights or invoke dark powers.
Virtue Pure: Erm, but.....
Elliot: Go bug them, goodie goodie.
Virtue Pure: *hesitates*
Elliot: *runs off*

Meanwhile, Tirin finishes singing Lucky, as curi melees with Caeli and Isyn.

To Be Continued...

Translation Note: Baka means idiot in Japanese.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Ageism Watch


"I've learned that 99% of the time when something isn't working in your house, one of your kids did it."

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

i wonder if anyone is listening

Dan is a bit confused about democracy

if you had an "ideal" democracy in the really absurd and stupid sense that everyone votes on every issue, and everyone's vote counts (and yes, if you're thinking that isn't coherent, you're right), well what would happen is, most things that got voted on....well you'd have 7% for one policy, 4% for another, 3% for another, etc...

So then what? We could just have the highest thing win. Then 93% of the people get screwed I suppose (though they'll form parties, coalitions, and voting blocks so that won't happen as much in the future).

Or you could do run-offs. This slowly forces minority opinions to pick a more popular opinion to support, too. similar effect to parties/coalitions/voting-blocks

What we couldn't have is a mixed law that incorporates the ideas of every single voter. it wouldn't come out to have a coherent meaning. cause different people will support contradictory ideas.

so we discover the reality of our system is very similar to the real effects of a so-called "ideal" democracy (and also that you have to make some tough choices to have a workable democracy, and can't just rely on the "ideal" notion that everyone has a voice). and truth is there are very good reasons for a two party system. ok, i admit that point is debatable, but saying the US isn't a democracy is absurd (BTW I'm aware that there are technically other parties, but stuff *is* setup for only two parties to be powerful at a time).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (10)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

gogo morality

some people wonder something like, "How can anarcho-capitalism work? What if the people running the police/army kinda companies decided to stop playing nice, and take over?"

well, it seems to me this question is absurd. what if President Bush decided to stop playing nice and take over? there aren't even competing armies in the US! what would stop him?

well our society! he would be disobeyed at every level of the chain of command. his generals wouldn't do it. and no common soldiers would either. no one would.

if we evolved to an anarcho-capitalist society, we'd still have a country of good people who wouldn't obey orders to become conquerers.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

gogo thinking

I got positive feedback on this email to the Philosophy Now yahoogroup, so I thought I'd share it more widely:

On Saturday, November 8, 2003, at 01:27 AM, nowhere man wrote:

Can someone please explain to me why these type of discusion groups inevitably end up with people being rude and insulting? I was unaware that in order to make a comment about a subject one had to be pompous and demonstrate the very worse in psuedo-intellectual skills. Hell, I thought these discussions were simply meant to be a bit of fun.
It's not so much inevitable as common.  There are some generally accepted ideas in our society that say things like, "For certain subjects, if you aren't well-read, you can't say anything intelligent, or at least can't come up with any good ideas, or any new ideas."  And for other subjects, you're supposed to need a PhD.  Philosophy is one of the worst in this respect.  Most academic philosophers spend their time worrying about dead people, and seems under the impression that even if you study the dead people extensively, it's still very difficult to come up with an actual new idea.  They're also very good at sounding pompous and being hard to read, and most people seem to have accepted that's what philosophy is *supposed to be like*.  So, then, untrained philosophers tend not to sound like that, and thus get dismissed.  (That style is, in actuality, bad.  And a few notable philosophers did rebel against it.  Like Karl Popper, who was very concerned with writing clearly and understandably, and good at it too.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

roleplaying is surprisingly fundamental

page 342 of Fabric says Thomas Kuhn thinks we can't comprehend two paradigms (ways of looking at the world) at once (and thus having one blinds us). i wonder what he thinks roleplayers do. ho hum.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

pasting from aim is easy :-)

curi42 (9:25:42 AM): there's 2 main approaches (plus a mixture is possible too): 1) absolutely ignore everything false or stupid the person says, and just write about better ideas and better ways to think and live. hopefully he'll see the good in them, like them, adopt some, and eventually he'll realise he doesn't act on his old, crap theories any longer (or maybe he *won't* ever notice the change, but will act good)
curi42 (9:27:01 AM): 2) criticism! i'm sure we could make a nice list of 50 reasons his ideas don't work. the premises are flawed in lots of ways. even if the premises were true, his conclusions still wouldn't follow. he contradicts hismelf repeatedly. etc etc etc
curi42 (9:27:40 AM): style 2 seems to have bad results with most people (though perhaps something similar to style 2, that somehow takes into account detailed knowledge of the person, would work very well)
curi42 (9:27:59 AM): but style 1 is easy to ignore.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)


on a more interesting note, here's an email i just wrote:

I'm going to layout what I think bad is. I'm aware my answer doesn't tell us everything we'd like to know.

To start, we need to examine what a stable worldview is. A worldview can be said to be stable if new conjectures, new observations, new criticisms and arguments, won't send it off in new directions or otherwise cause it to change. A perfectly stable worldview would have to be entirely consistent, and entirely complete, otherwise it could be changed by new ideas.

Next, we ask what sort of stable worldviews can exist. I propose that there are three. The true, inverse, and null ones (alternatively: good, bad, and empty). The true one is stable because it's right about everything, and understands everything. The inverse one is stable because it's exactly the opposite of the true one, and persistently misinterprets all new ideas in the opposite of the true way, so that they are consistent with the inverse of the truth. The null worldview is stable because not only does it not say anything, but it can't learn anything either. It never hears of a new idea.

None of these perfectly stable worldviews exist (unless you feel like saying rocks qualify for the null view). They aren't real. But they can be approached. In practice, good ideas approach the true view, evil approaches the inverse view, and nihilism and relativism approach the null view.

Anyway, what is bad? Well, the ultimate in bad is the complete inverse worldview. And also, there can be lesser versions (ones with inconsistencies, and ones that don't yet deal with all subjects).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Battle Cry Explained

As no one answered my post about the poem A Little Boy Lost (featured on my sidebar), I've decided to explain my take on it.

In the first two stanzas, the boy questions God and Christianity. In the first, he doesn't see how he could know about or understand God, when all he has to work with are his lesser (compared to God) thoughts. In the second, the boy proposes that he should love all of God's creations equally, which all share the Earth with him. Thus, he cannot love the Priest more than a bird.

In the third stanza, the Priest grabs the boy, angry at his blasphemy. Questioning the faith is not looked upon favorably. But there's something else here too: the observers, the other members of the church, do not see the Priest as attacking the boy, but only as helping him. Even when the Priest uses physical force, nothing seems amiss to the faithful.

The fourth stanza is the money stanza. Here, the Priest declares the boy a fiend, and spells out his offense. His offense was using reason to examine and judge church doctrine. The Priest considers his doctrine a "holy mystery" which is not supposed to be explained or thought about rationally.

The final two stanzas describe the brutal punishment of the boy. It's not clear if he's literally burned to death, or only metaphorically. But it is clear that he is badly hurt, and that the church turns a blind eye to the boy's parents' tears. Also note that Albion is England.

The final line is a very powerful one. Everything up to this point tells a tragic story where the Priest is clearly wrong (I suppose this may not be so clear to everyone; feel free to discuss that in the comments). Phrasing the line as a question is very important. There are no accusations to deny. There are no claims to refute. There's nothing to argue with. There's just a question to ponder. Are such horrid things done in England? Certainly they have been. And certainly some people still trumpet faith over reason. Maybe they don't burn blasphemers any longer, but how different are the suppressions of reason in favour of faith that do take place?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Structural Epistemology Introduction Part 1

Imagine you are handed a black box. You can't open it, but on one side is an input mechanism, and on the other side is an output mechanism. For example, the input mechanism might be a keyboard, and the output a display screen. The box, somehow (you don't know the inner workings) maps inputs to outputs. That means if you give it an input, it figures out what output to give back, according to its inner workings. And for simplicity, assume the box is in no way random. For a given input, it always gives the same output.

Now, imagine someone gives you a second black box. And you test both out, and discover that for any input, both boxes give the same output. You test every single allowed input, and they always give the same answer. (The word I will use for this is: the two boxes have the same denotation). Now, the question is: do the boxes do the same thing? Do they contain the same knowledge?

Well, of course it's possible that they do. They might be the same inside. But can we be sure? Just because they always answer the same way, can we tell they definitely do the same thing? And either way, can we say they definitely have the same knowledge?

I'd like to apologise to non-programmers now. The following examples will probably look like gibberish to you. But read the English around them, and I think my point should still make sense.

Here are three different ways to do a multiply function. They all accurately multiply any integers. They have the exact same domain (allowed input), the same range (possible outputs), and they map (relate) the same elements of the domain (inputs) to the same elements of the range (outputs).

// iterative multiplication
int multiply(int a, int b)
    int total = 0;
    if (b > 0)
        for(int j=0; j<b; j++)
            total += a;
    if (b < 0)
        for(int j=0; j>b; j--)
            total -= a;
    return total;

// recursive multiplication
int multiply(int a, int b)
    if(b == 0)
        return 0;
    if(b > 0)
        return (a + multiply(a, b-1));
    if(b < 0)
        return ( (0 - a) + multiply(a, b+1));

// multiplication using a built-in function
int multiply(int a, int b)
    return a*b;

As you can see, even if you don't understand the code, all three are written differently. I assure you, however, they do give the same answers. Now, remember the black box I talked about? Well, lets say you have three that all do integer multiplication. The inner workings could be the three functions I just showed.

Do each of the black boxes do the same thing? No. Each uses a different procedure to find its answer. Like if you wanted to get from California to New York, you might go through Canada, through Mexico, or stay in the US the whole way. Each trip would start and end in the same place, but they'd certainly be different trips.

But the key question is whether each black box, or each multiply function, which has the exact same denotation, has the same knowledge.

I propose they do not. While they have the same denotation, I would say they have different knowledge structure. And to see why this matters, and makes a great difference: Alright, the boxes have the same functionality (namely multiplication) now, but what if we want to alter them? If we want to change their denotation, even just a little bit, then knowledge structure makes all the difference.

To be continued...

PS: I'm aware that I'm not using 'denotation' in the standard, dictionary way.

Note: David Deutsch explained much of what I know about structural epistemology to me. Kolya Wolf explained some too, and also Kolya originally thought of the idea.

Part 2

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (7)

On Charity

A common point of disagreement in political discussions is about human nature. Some people say that men should make their own choices, and control their own money. And believe that only good will come of freedom. Others would retort that the rich will have more choices, and abuse them to gain more power. Or at least assert that some people will be left behind without help through sheer bad luck (or not having a level playing field). And that generosity is not natural, so the government must step in to help.

Roughly, right wing people take the first view, and favour free markets, small government, and people deciding for themselves how charitable to be. And, roughly, left wing people don't trust humans to be charitable or fair without being controlled by government.

So when a right winger says he isn't against helping people, he just wants to decide how best to do it, and make sure his charity is effective (the government, he will say, is wasteful and spends charity money badly), a left winger will likely scoff. The left winger will think this is just a trick to get out of giving any charity at all. Because the left winger trusts his government to do everything right, he will see any attempt to pay less taxes or avoid forced charity as, clearly, a selfish attempt to get out of paying one's fair share or to get out of helping other people.

So, who's right?

Well, I've got a way to find out. Despite high tax levels (paid by both left and right wing), it is commonplace to give additional money, by choice, to charities. Now, if the left is correct, we should observe that the greedy right wingers donate very little to charity. But if the right is telling the truth that they are happy to give money to charity, as long as they pick which charity, and give money in ways they feel are effective, then we will observe, despite taxes, that right wingers do choose to donate significant amounts of money to charity.

The following table ranks each state by how generous it is. This was determined by taking into account the amount of money donated to charitable organisations, and also how rich the people in that state are. In other words, one gets a high ranking by giving a large portion of what he has. The states are color-coded. Red states voted for Bush in the 2000 election (they're, to decent precision, right wing). Blue states voted for Gore. I believe the table speaks for itself. (Thanks to The Rantblogger for the table.)

  1. Mississippi
  2. Arkansas
  3. South Dakota
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Alabama
  6. Tennessee
  7. Louisiana
  8. Utah
  9. South Carolina
  10. Idaho
  11. North Dakota
  12. Wyoming
  13. Texas
  14. West Virginia
  15. Nebraska
  16. North Carolina
  17. Florida
  18. Kansas
  19. Missouri
  20. Georgia
  21. New Mexico
  22. Montana
  23. Kentucky
  24. Alaska
  25. New York
  1. Indiana
  2. Iowa
  3. Ohio
  4. California
  5. Washington
  6. Maine
  7. Maryland
  8. Hawaii
  9. Delaware
  10. Illinois
  11. Pennsylvania
  12. Connecticut
  13. Vermont
  14. Virginia
  15. Oregon
  16. Colorado
  17. Arizona
  18. Michigan
  19. Nevada
  20. Wisconsin
  21. Minnesota
  22. Massachusetts
  23. New Jersey
  24. Rhode Island
  25. New Hampshire

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (17)

I wonder if the category should be epistemology or morality

Tom Robinson is now officialy my coolest reader. He commented as follows WRT inverse theory:

I'm slightly fuzzy about this inverse world view. Is it wrong about everything, or just some things, or just incoming morally-weighted facts? I mean, The Emperor knows that 0+1=1, so if he starts with no Death Star and then builds one new Death Star, then he'll end up with ... a Death Star. He knows this to be true despite being the epitome of evil.
To start, I deny The Emperor actually is the epitome of evil, or even all that close. But anyway, I would say if we have propositions A, B, and C, and A and B are consistent with each other. And C contradicts A. This implies that C and B somehow contradict. There aren't multiple ways to hold B and be consistent, so if A really is consistent with B and inconsistent with C, then B must be inconsistent with C. This follows directly from the idea that there is one truth.

To put in real propositions, B states 0+1=1. A states that we shouldn't murder Jews. I propose A and B are consistent. C states that we should murder Jews. I propose A and C are inconsistent. I conclude that B and C are inconsistent -- that wanting to murder Jews and doing math right contradict. This works with any form of being evil and math.

It is hard to see what the inverse worldview looks like. It is foreign to us, and most of its twisted logic beyond our worst nightmares. We get glimpses in the bad people of our world, but they are nowhere near the limits of evil.

Good people are succesful and flourish. Bad people, therefore, are unsucessful and do not flourish objectively, even if they think they do (or perhaps they think flourishing is bad, and think they do not flourish). I believe, in the limit, evil people would be unable to eat meals, or otherwise manage to even stay alive.

My explanation of why the bad people of our world manage to eat, and even manage to use creativity to plan nasty attacks, is that they are inconsistent. Much of their worldviews are true. They use the true bits to function. But they also have a significant, inverse portion, from which they take many of their goals and motives.

Notably, it is this inconsistent combination that allows them to be truly dangerious. An evil person who uses some true ideas to get what he wants is more threatening than an evil person who's own evil has rendered him impotent.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

example for previous entry

just read this about Soros, a billionaire who's giving away money trying make Bush lose the 2004 election.

if a democrat was consistent with his ideals, he'd be poor-ish. cause his ideals include misunderstanding economics, opposing business, and wasting money. but Soros is rich. how'd that happen? well, he's inconsistent.

if all democrats were consistent they'd be a crappy political force. but they manage to find people who somehow, inconsistently, are democrats who are good at this or that thing that the rest of the democrats can't manage. and this way they can end up with some rich supporters despite their ideology, and thus be more dangerous.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

on skool

Teacher: A person who talks in other people's sleep.

What's long and hard and fucks little girls? Elementary school.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)

Popper Is Fallible

(If the quotes don't have a blue background, hit refresh. If they still don't, go here, refresh that, and then come back and try again.)

I just read a little of The Myth of the Framework by Karl Popper. I noticed two oversights I thought were worth pointing out. Both quotes are from page 175, and the first immediately precedes the second.

If we eliminate from language ambiguous terms like 'yesterday', a term which today means something different from what it will mean tomorrow, and if we take some further similar precautions, then it follows from Tarski's theory that every statement in this purified language will be either true or false, with no third possibility.

The issue Popper is worried about is evaluating whether the statement "Yesterday was Sunday." is true. He thinks this will be ambiguous, because it depends on what day we evaluate it. And his solution is to purify our language by removing all terms with variable meaning (presumably all pronouns too).

But this is very silly. All we have to do to decide if "Yesterday was Sunday." is true is to substitute in referenced concepts before saving the sentence for later evaluation when the references might not work any longer. What I mean is here 'yesterday' means 'the day before November 17, 2003'. The day before November 17, 2003 will always be Sunday whenever we evaluate the sentence. (And even if our calendar system should change, the meaning and truth of the sentence will not.) So, no purified language is necessary, if we will only bother to pay attention to the actual content of the sentence (alternatively, we could keep the form of the sentence exactly the same, but save with it all relevant data, such as in this case the date it was written).

Moreover, we can have an operation of negation in our language such that if a proposition is not true, then its negation is true.
This shows that of all propositions one half will be true and the other half false. So we can be sure that there will be lots of true propositions, even though we may have great trouble in finding out which they are.

I think this is actually quite funny. Yeah, there are lots of true propositions when you include the negation of false propositions... But most of them are things like, "I did not go to England yesterday," and "My house is not painted red," and "My name is not Fred." In reality, it makes sense to say there are a lot more ways to be wrong than to be right.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Structural Epistemology Introduction Part 2

Part 1

Last time I alluded to the most important aspect of knowledge structure: some structures are more or less resistant to being changed to have some other function (denotation). Additionally, whether a structure is easy to change to some new problem is not simply a matter of luck. Rather, some structures are better than others, because they contain more knowledge. Now I will give some illustrations.

First, let's reexamine the multiply function. What if the situation changed and we suddenly had to rewrite our multiply function with a special constraint? Such as, what if the built-in multiplication function in our programming language was no longer available? Or what if user-defined function calls suddenly became very slow and expensive? Or what if there was a problem with assignment, and we couldn't use that (basically, no equal sign allowed).

It turns out each of these problems would break one of the multiply functions so badly we would be better off starting over from scratch than trying to salvage it, and the other two wouldn't need even a single change. (If you're wondering, no built-in multiplication ruins the third multiply; no assignment ruins the iterative version; and user-defined function calls being expensive ruins the recursive version.) This demonstrates that structure makes a difference. But so far none are obviously better than others.

Next, lets imagine we were writing a program that played some game, and a few dozen times in the program we needed to refer to the number of actions each player gets per turn. And lets suppose it's 8 now, but possible this may change in future versions of the game. One thing we could do is everywhere we need to refer to the number of actions per turn, put an 8. The program will run just fine. But if we have to change the number of actions per turn later (or perhaps we'd just like to try out a different number to see how it works, to see if changing it might be a good idea at all), then we will have to go through our whole program and alter a few dozen lines of code! That's a pain, and there's a better way.

What we should do is define a constant variable, int ACTIONS_PER_TURN = 8, and then write ACTIONS_PER_TURN instead of 8 throughout our program. Then, we could very easily change the number of actions per turn by altering a single line of code. This new program using a constant variable has exactly the same denotation as the original one with 8 everywhere -- someone playing the game will never know the difference. But not only is the structure different using a constant variable, it's better because it allows significant advantages in ways it can be changed, with no disadvantage at all(1). One way to put the difference is it contains the knowledge that each of the dozens of 8's in the program is really the same thing, thus allowing them to be changed as a group.

Another example of trying to change a program, is if we had our multiply programs and wanted to do exponentiation (assume there is no built-in function for that). In that case, the program that relied on built-in multiplication is absolutely useless. Just as it would be useless to change to anything at all that wasn't built in. This reveals its structure has very little knowledge in it. On the other hand, the recursive and iterative multiply programs could both be changed to do exponentiation fairly easily. They could also be altered to do a host of other things, because each has a knowledge-laden structure. In effect, they are both set up to do work (in a certain way), and only need to be told what type. (It's not clear which one has more structural knowledge. I believe the recursive one does, but they are useful in different ways.)

So, to sum up, if we wish to change a program to do something else, depending on its structure, we may have an easy time of it, or may be totally out of luck. And furthermore, some structures are better than others, because they contain more knowledge.

(1) It will run negligibly slower, or compile negligibly slower in a compiled language. And I mean negligibly.

PS I understand that if you knew that, for what you were doing, certain structural knowledge was entirely unnecessary, and never would be useful, you might intentionally leave it out, and say this was a better design. However this is very rare on anything but the most trivial project, and does not ruin the idea of better structures. It's just like, if I was trying to learn physics, I might not need an economics lecture. But we can still say economics has useful, true knowledge, and that there is better and worse economic knowledge.

To be clearer, the objection I fear goes, "Constants are nice, if you're going to change them, but if you aren't, using them is a waste of time, therefore which structure is better depends entirely on the problem at hand, and thus better is only a relative term for knowledge structures." This is wrong. It is equivalent to saying, "The laws of supply and demand are nice, if you're learning about economics, but if you aren't, learning them is a waste of time, therefore whether hearing the laws of supply and demand or nothing is better depends entirely on the problem at hand, and thus better is only a relative term for economic theories." In both cases the 'and thus' clause simply does not follow. Just because we might not want a bit of knowledge this instant does not make it equivalent to no knowledge, or make its value relative.

PPS Mad props to David Deutsch, 'cause he's cool.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

I Hate Jew Hatred

Frank J (a Catholic) got anti-semitic hatemail. Emperor Misha commented:

We're ALL Jews now.

I agree. (Misha also says more here.)

I very much like the sentiments that if people are going to target Jews, we should stand up with the Jews. Neutrality is useful if you see two gangs of barbarians fighting; there is no point in getting yourself killed over that. Who cares who wins? But when two groups clash, and one is good, and one is bad, neutrality just won't cut it. What truly good person could abandon the side of good?

But there's more to it than just that we should stand with the Jews. Why do they confuse us with Jews? Well, we agree with Jews a lot. We think Israel should exist (more than that: that it is one of the most moral countries on the planet). We oppose Arab terrorism. No excuses. It's wrong, horrid, and evil. And we use Jew logic. Which says things like you don't win discussions by authority; rather we should look for good arguments. And that we should hold our ideas true and mutable (tentatively true, if you prefer). And, heh, that 2+2 is 4. The Jews in America are not outsiders. Or more like, it's easy to confuse Americans with Jews. It's not just that we stand with Jews (far less than we should), it's that through the eyes of The Enemy, we look and act as if we are Jews.

And if you think talking about good and evil is too simplistic and therefore false, I pray you spend a lot of time around fire and brimstone. And, yes, I am an avowed atheist. But that won't save you from hell >:-D

PS In general when I write 'we' I am including Jews, but not in this piece.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (10)

i've got issues

Scrappleface thinks that birth control is evil. his reasoning is that it lets young girls have sex without horrid consequences. and we can't have that!

I replied: cause actually sex is evil, unless you get a wizard to perform a "marriage ritual" spell, which makes it ok.

thus far all I got back was someone replying that I have issues. good argument! ho hum.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

email is fun

On Sunday, November 23, 2003, at 08:37 AM, A Poster wrote:

Subject Line: shouldn't TCS be questioned?

Yes, of course. It even says so, does it not? Now, some people seem to have the idea that TCS holds itself up infallible, but reality seems to be against them. For example, I no longer use the "official" TCS definition of coercion.

(Of course, one should not make such a change haphazardly, or on a whim, but rather after deep understanding of the official definition, and its strengths. And one should be careful the new version really is an improvement. etc)

What happens to all those families out there who find that, according to their own lights, TCS seems like a really bad, dangerous idea?

Well, until they give some good reason (an argument), I will consider their lights wrong. But I won't hunt them down; all that *happens* (in my view) is they have worse lives than they might.

Even if some of it has changed their lives for the better? But that certain aspects of - say - hardcore rationalism, dogged belief in the TCS 'way', an abiding faith in the TV as a *good thing*, ditto eating what you feel like....all have and continue to.... feel a bit unnatural?

well i think you've misunderstood TCS here. while i will insist that TV shows are, in principle, great things, just like books, I will also concede that there are both many bad books and many bad TV shows. Personally I don't watch tons of TV. mostly japanese anime and movies and southpark oh and The OC. lots of other stuff is great if you have the right problem situation for it, and many people are too negative about TV, but for some problem situations not watching a whole lot of TV would make sense.

as to eating, well we should eat what we want, and we should want to eat the right things to eat. true and changeable. favorite and changeable. you need *both* sides of that coin. the solution to bad eating habits is not to eat what you don't want to. that's just hurting yourself. the solution is to find some good arguments about what is right to eat, and then want to eat that way because you really do believe it's right.

personally, i eat almost no candy and desert fairly rarely, and have a general distaste for too much sugar. i think i'm weird about that, but *shrug*. i *also* don't like salad much.

What if believing in these things starts to make parent feel totally duped and like he doesn't have enough faith in his own good ideas?

You should not hold ideas true because someone said so, not even Elliot Temple nor David Deutsch. You've got to act on your best theories, which means only arguments that you find make sense. Even if some theory is true, if you don't understand it, it's no good to you (though maybe it will be later). And if you do this, faith in your own ideas should not be an issue, because you would know of none you consider better.

Isn't this TCS working against itself? That would be a good thing, right? But then if the TCS parent turns off the TV because he wants to, and does the things he wants to do, because he strongly believes those things to be better for his children - and,yeah, he 'could be wrong, but so what? - he would be said to be reacting to his coerced and unhappy former way of life (and was possibly evil according to some of the TCS inner circle)?

Well, as to making choices for your children, it's not just that you could be wrong, but also that it isn't your choice to make. Children are people with their own lives. You should decide if you want to watch TV, and if someone says you should, you can decline their advice and not watch. And if your children want to watch, and you advise against it, it's still their call.

Just as TCSers will not rule any parent's life by force, parents should not rule their children's lives by force.

Isn't all this a bit fucked up? Maybe the parent should just go and get a life, take his children seriously the way it makes sense to him, be willing to question himself constantly, be aware of his fallibility, but forget all about the harm done to his home by the less desirable aspects of TCS

I want to point out that your understanding of TCS is fallible, so even if hypothetically TCS was perfect, sometimes your understanding of TCS would be wrong, and you would be right to act contrary to it when you thought you knew better. This is manifest in the way most of what you think TCS is wrong about, I think you've simply misunderstood.

Don't let "I think TCS says X" pressure you into doing X. Maybe it doesn't even.

Sometimes he can't work out which is worse, but maybe it doesn't matter,

Well, I can tell you that how you parent *does* matter to your children. So this stuff is important.

-- Elliot Temple

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

In-The-Limit Worldview Theory

If we start with some worldview, it will have inconsistencies (internal contradictions) and it will not be aware of all facts and won't have stances on everything. However, over time, we can make it more consistent, and take stances on more issues (make it more complete), then in the limit, it would be perfectly consistent and have stances on all possible issues. Such that no matter what someone told you, you'd never need to change your worldview anymore.

In the limit means in the extreme case. Like if you kept making your worldview more complete and more consistent until you couldn't anymore that'd be the limit

I posit there are three different perfectly consistent complete worldviews that you could have reached. One is commonly called true. But there's actually 2 others that are consistent and complete.

One is empty or null. When asked questions it .... doesn't answer. On the way there I suppose adherents would deny stuff matters. But in the limit, I don't think they could speak or move. They'd be dead. They would have no theories and not be able to learn or get new ones.

And the last is the inverse/false/evil/opposite/bad whatever view. None of the three worldviews share any common points of agreement. But unlike the null view, this one does say stuff about the world ... but none of it true. It has some sort of twisted logic whereby false statements are made to all come out consistent. I don't know the details of it. But I think it is possible to be consistent about opposing truth/goodness.

One consequence of this is: people complain that logic alone can't tell us about morality. It can tell us what contradicts what, but how's it to say what is good? Well, if we accept these three in-the-limit views, we can speak about statements approaching one of them, or being a member of one of them. Now logic can do everything but one single value judgment of comparing the three WVs. And I believe the value judgment is pretty easy. One view says life doesn't matter. One says life is bad. One says life is good...

You may object that logic alone can't tell us everything, because, for example, physics isn't determined by logic. Nor is which house my friend lives in. Well, of course contingent questions depend on contingent details (contingent means not necessary means not implied by logic). But that's not the point. I'm not saying we should figure everything out by pure logic. As stated, first we would need to know everything (have all three views laid out) and then we could answer all moral questions with logic (well actually we could say which of the three worldviews various ideas were part of). (Actually some statements aren't part of any. We'd identify those separately as simply inconsistent ideas.)

The point was simply that this is theoretically possible (well not with perfection, but with arbitrarily high accuracy). Which means if someone says "morality is a matter of taste" ... Well, logically, the matter of taste is between three choices, one of which says life is bad and one says life doesn't matter.... This retort is useful and important.

The three worldviews share no common points of agreement. So if we determine a proposition is in one (say: Jews shouldn't die is in the good one), then contradictory theories (Jews should die) are not in the good one.

We do need independent (from what I've said here) arguments about which propositions go in which worldview. But if you can argue that a proposition is in one of the worldviews, then you can refer to the in the limit consequences it, and of its rivals, which is powerful.

PS This is my entirely original theory. Just saying. :-)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (12)

repost from tcsblog 1

Alice comments:

For some sensible discussion of the issues, rather than just Dan and Elliot fighting with each other, see the TCS list

Excuse me, but that's extremely insulting. If you disagree with me, argue it. If you agree, then acknowledge I'm making important points relevant to growing TCS (if I'm right, then what I'm saying is important), rather than belittling my ideas.

The tendency to see a disagreement and then declare that both sides are wrong because they are fighting, is perverse. The most well known example is WRT Israel and terrorists. People decide both sides *must* have done lots wrong, and must both be guilty, simply because there is a large-scale disagreement and there are arguments put forward on either side of the issue (not necessarily true, but just attempts). Nevermind that one side could be right, and the arguments against it wrong. Nevermind that condemning the right side would be a great moral failure.

Here, too, Alice sees a disagreement, labels it a "fight", then refuses to pay attention to who's right, and just takes the stance, in effect, that all fighting is bad therefore we're both wrong. Hello? That's moral relativism. (Incidentally, moral relativism is one of Dan's qualities that I don't hold with.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

Repost from tcsblog 2

What Alice should have written, if she valued moral clarity more, was something like, "I object to the title "Fuck Dan in the ass" written by Elliot, because it's a personal attack. I consider that immoral.

Then I imagine a conversation something like this:

Elliot: Would you consider "fuck Michael Moore in the ass" a personal attack?
Alice: huh?
Elliot: well it's nothing personal, i just think his worldview is evil, right?
Alice: ok, not a personal attack
Elliot: so the title about Dan wasn't a "personal attack" either
Alice: huh?
Elliot: cause i just think Dan's worldview, like Michael Moore's, is immoral. i'm condemning a worldview. that's a perfectly legitimate thing to do.
Alice: ok, it's not a "personal" attack but it's still wrong?
Elliot: Why?

Alice would then give ad hoc (made up on the spot) reasons to object. No one would be surprised when they were bad and easily refuted. Alice would then not acknowledge this, and insist the title was immoral, because her feelings tell her so. When accused of not acting rationally she would deny it.

Notably I am aware of other reasons to object to the title. It's even fairly likely Alice would try some of those too before resorting to ad hoc arguments. But besides knowing them, I've worked out answers to them (in advance, mind you).

I'll go through one example. Some might say the title will offend readers and thus reduce readership (some will leave angrily) and thus inhibit the spread of TCS and thus make the world worse. They might suggest the solution is to refrain from writing stuff that might offend people (perhaps, "unless it was really important, but that title wasn't important"). The problem here though, is that we should stand up for our values, which allow for profanity and condemnation of bad people (at least I hope those are our values). Compromising our values to get more readers compromises our message. I mean, if we really wanted more readers, and to avoid offending people, we should probably be recommending "friendly punishments" of children or something. Of course that is a bad road to go down. We must stand firm in our beliefs, and if people don't like them, that doesn't mean we should back down or compromise in search of friends.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (13)

Alice the censorship queen

Alice deleted 2 posts (reposted right below this entry here) of mine from TCS blog because she was offended. she says she isn't a libertarian on that issue. *ahem*

notably, my convo was wrong. what really happened is she told me it was a personal attack, i asked hadn't i refuted that, and then gave a more complete version of the argument, and she said that probably it was a personal attack but i just didn't know, and wouldn't argue the subject. lovely.

also note she didn't save copies when deleting them, despite the fact I would have had no reason to have saved a copy. (fortunately i left a browser window open, and checked AIM before i hit refresh, which would have lost them, but that's only blind luck)

more later, leaving though

update: more here

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

jew praise

there's a lot of incoherent hatred of jews out there. i decided to conjecture that maybe they know something i don't -- maybe somehow being kinda incoherent gets followers.

so i wanted to give map props to all the jews out there for making the world a better place. i especially appreciate how they want to live in peace with non-jews. i don't go to sleep at night wondering if a jew will kill me before i wake up. and not being terrorists, man that's really good of you. and killing terrorists for me, that's cool too. i'm just no soldier. man, if it weren't for the jews, there would be lots more evil for'ners still alive who wanted to kill me. and i don't even own a big gun. so all the jews shooting guns for me, thanks a lot.

also, i wish i was a jew. then i'd be rich, i think. jews are so good at making the economy better. well, at least i'm richer thanks to them, even if i'm not jewish enough to be rich. one day if i'm really lucky maybe there will be so many jews that even I can be super rich. i'd like to be rich. and it'd all be thanks to the jews, who work so hard to make our economy so strong.

the jews have contributed so much to science it really blows the mind. do you know how many great scientists were jews? lots of them! man, even David Deutsch is a jew. what if some stupid terrorist had killed him? man, my life would be so much worse. it's a good thing the jews killed so many terrorists that that didn't happen.

you know who i really hate? the nazis. know why? they killed jews. man, if they hadn't done that, maybe europe wouldn't suck ass. i mean, if you kill everyone cool, you end up with a bunch of dorks. it's just logic. i wish the jews had killed all the nazis. that would have been super sweet. i can just imagine a big jew with a pair of axes going around hacking nazis down left and right. and then when he was done he'd probably sell the axes like a good capitalist. i bet he would. then someone else could use them, and we'd all be richer.

so, yeah, mad props to the jews. thanks for keeping it real and stuff. ^_^

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Praising Jews

I wanted to ask all my readers who have blogs to write an entry praising Jews. The goal here is not to put forward arguments againt anti-semitism, nor to denying hating Jews. It is simply to show moral clarity on the issue of praising Jews.

It is commonplace to say things like, "That movie rocked." But most people will refuse to say "Jews rock." I think this is perverse, and we should stand up for our values.

Leave a comment or email me if you do it, and I'll keep a list.

PS Jews rock.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (24)


" I don't know how Socrates did it. Having these discussions day in, day out." (link)

this after like 5 posts by him.

me: 11 emails/day average for over a year, plus forum posts and blog commenting, plus realtime chat (irc, aim). lots of realtime. more time on that than email including reading email (read maybe 5-10 emails for every post, hard to say exactly, and i would read pretty much everything very thoroughly at the time, too). this was b4 my blog. it only stopped cause i couldn't find enough new people worth talking to, and got bored of most of the old ones.

i changed my views too often to count. i don't anymore. because new arguments i haven't heard a dozen times are harder and harder to come by.

it used to be people complained that one day we'd argue, then by the next time we ran into each other to speak again, they would have come up with a new reason my view was wrong ... but i would have already changed it before they could use their argument. some people thought i didn't take my current views seriously enough, and were annoyed they couldn't seem to prove me wrong because i'd always switch views first.

now the consensus (same people, mostly, mind you) is that i'm arrogant and never consider that i could be wrong. "when was the last time you backed down in an argument?" they say. "when was the last time i heard a new one in public?" i retort. but they shrug and hate me. and if i mention that when talking to cool people (in private nearly always) i do change my views reasonably often, even today, they just take me for delusional if not a liar.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (7)

A Conversation On Israel

I wrote this conversation to show what it's like talking to a certain type of person. I won't label that type of person, but I hope this piece should make it clear.

(One thing I changed is: I made Isyn speak very clearly. Do not expect this in real life. Rather, expect to decode cryptic, confusing, contradictory claims heavy on noise.)

Isyn: Down with Israel! Oppression is wrong!
curi: erm
Isyn: Bush lied, people died!
curi: What's wrong with Israel again?
Isyn: Just because the Palestinians are defenseless doesn't make it alright to kill them.
curi: You'd kill me if I dropped my guard.
Isyn: That's different. You were, ummm, eyeing my woman.
curi: Well, Israel doesn't murder Palestinians.
Isyn: Look here, at this news article. Israeli Defense Forces troops fired guns and Palestinians died. QED.
curi: Those were terrorists.
Isyn: Not all. Some were just standing near the terrorists throwing rocks. Is throwing rocks a crime? Maybe. But what kind of evil country punishes it by death? And even the terrorists should have been arrested not murdered. Sure terrorism is wrong, but that doesn't justify murder.
curi: Israel is a democracy and the Arab states around it are tyrannies that want to destroy Israel. Israel has repeatedly offered peace to the nations around it and to the Palestinian terrorists (who have deliberately broken the peace agreements every single time). Israel wants a Palestinian state, and the Palestinian terrorists want the Israelis dead.
Isyn: How is that supposed to justify murder? And besides that's only what neo-con historians write. If you read more accurate sources, you'll see that's not the whole story.
curi: Are you aware of even one of the wars in which the Arab nations around Israel tried to destroy Israel?
Isyn: It wasn't quite like that. You can't prove that happened.
curi: So whatever I say about the facts of the matter, you will dismiss, even if I cite a half dozen sources for each claim? On the basis that my sources are all biased or imperfect.
Isyn: Right.
curi: Argh! Fine then, new approach. Do you agree with self-defense?
Isyn: How is murdering people self-defense?
curi: Well, if someone tries to kill you, and you kill him first to save your own life, that's self-defense. This is right, whereas the alternative of dying would just plain suck.
Isyn: He started it, she started it. It's easy to point fingers. But we won't make any progress until both sides admit what they did wrong. Sometimes the Palestinians start it; sometimes the IDF does. And sometimes some innocents Palestinians die in the crossfire to IDF bullets.
curi: What if, hypothetically, we imagined a conflict where one side was wrong and one side was right. Can you imagine that?
Isyn: I guess, in the abstract, I could imagine a black and white picture, but the world is full not only of shades of grey, but of colours too. So it's more complicated than that.
curi: In this hypothetical black and white picture, lets say the whites were good and the blacks were evil, and in every fight the blacks were at fault. With me so far?
Isyn: So far I can see that you're a racist. Blacks are full people.
curi: Argh! Okay, lets rename them. We'll have the elves are good and the orcs are bad. And every conflict the orcs are at fault. With me so far?
Isyn: I don't think the Lord of the Rings was such a simple matter of good versus evil. The elves had faults, and the orcs had bad situations to cope with.
curi: Yeah, but, I'm not talking about the Lord of the Rings. This is a hypothetical about two abstract groups of people, only named elves and orcs. So, can you imagine them with me, please?
Isyn: Okay, what's next?
curi: Great. So, the orcs start a lot of fights with the elves, trying to steal their stuff, and kill them. The elves are good with bows, but not perfect. So when orc raiders come a bunch of elves will go up on the roofs and shoot at orcs. Some of the elves stay on the ground and have the dangerous job of facing the orcs directly. Sometimes, by accident, a stray arrow that was aimed at an orc, misses and hits an elven defender. Also, sometimes some orcs will chase some elven civilians, and the archers shooting at them might miss and accidentally hit a civilian. With me?
Isyn: I see a great battle.
curi: And the orcs are trying to rape and pillage and murder the elves.
Isyn: Right. And the elves are trying to kill the orcs too.
curi: Because the orcs attacked them. It's in self-defense.
Isyn: If the elves aren't bloodthirsty, why do they shoot their own?
curi: They are shooting at orcs but don't have perfect aim.
Isyn: Well if they can't hit what they aim at, maybe they should stop firing. They're just killing indiscriminately.
curi: No, they have really good aim, and almost always hit their mark, and if they stopped firing they would all be massacred, but sometimes, now and then, they do miss.
Isyn: Well they should practice more.
curi: They already practice as much as they possibly can.
Isyn: Do they ever read books?
curi: Yes.
Isyn: Well they could stop reading books to practice more to save lives. Reading books, in this case, proves the elves' murderous intentions. They don't mind causing collateral damage.
curi: Yes they do mind. But you can't ask them to spend their entire lives practicing with bow. They have other important things to do. They must balance their time reasonably.
Isyn: How is not killing their own unworthy of more time?
curi: Well they need to grow food. And build houses. And raise their children. And spend time thinking to make sure they fight for truly good causes. That's all necessary.
Isyn: Maybe they could save time by not having children.
curi: You want to see the elves die out?
Isyn: I don't like to see elves murder elves and anyway if there were no elves there would be no war either. Don't you care about World Peace?
curi: Argh! You hate the elves more than the orcs.
Isyn: I just think you should stop pretending the elves are flawless.
curi: They are very good by definition. That was a premise.
Isyn: Then why do they murder each other?
curi: I heard in World War II 10% of casualties were friendly fire.
Isyn: What an indiscriminate blood bath!
curi: Argh! You twist everything. You'll probably deny my door exists next.
Isyn: How do you know you have a door?
curi: It's that thing I open to get into my room.
Isyn: Your senses, like the elves' bows, aren't perfect. Maybe you're wrong. Aren't you a fallibilist?
curi: Fallibility does not preclude tentatively holding theories to be objectively true.
Isyn: Prove it.
curi: Of course I can't. No certain proofs exist. Aren't you a fallibilist?
Isyn: You can't prove I'm not. And about the door, you might be lying or trying to trick me. I haven't even seen your supposed door myself.
curi: Your life sounds lonely.
Isyn: What?
curi: Well, you spend all your time making up criticism of good ideas (there are an infinity of false criticisms for every truth). But do you ever take a chance and conjecture that something might be true or good? Do you ever have trust in anyone or anything? Do you value anything?
Isyn: Stop changing the subject. That's an ad hominem argument.
curi: I'm not arguing anymore. I tired of it. I concede that you really can avoid listening as long as you want (though that does not make you right).
Isyn: If you're not arguing, what are you doing?
curi: Trying to help you?
Isyn: I'm not interested in help from someone who condones murder. I think you need help.
curi: Do you recall the first thing you said today?
Isyn: Remind me.
curi: "Down with Israel!" If Israel fell, what do you think would happen? Didn't you condone murder?
Isyn: Death, but only of murderers. Don't you agree that killing murderers isn't murder?
curi: So, to be clear, in your view: if Israelis kill Palestinians, that's murder, because the Israelis are in the wrong. But if Palestinians kill Israelis, that's not murder, because the Palestinians are in the right.

----- Ending One: Sad But True -----
Isyn: No, that's not what I said. Stop accusing me of taking sides. I'm not like you.
curi: Ummm, yeah, whatever, bye. *wanders off*
----- Ending Two: Wishful Thinking -----
Isyn: Yeah, I guess you got it. You cornered me. That's my view. I wasn't so sure at first, but this discussion helped me see it more clearly.
curi: And, the arguments you use -- the style and content both -- the whole approach to the issue really: would you say other people using them have the same view as you?
Isyn: They better. The arguments prove my view. Anyone using them who didn't take my view would be inconsistent. And probably a liar. Anyone who understood the arguments would take my view. But lying would be understandable, because people who speak the truth as I do are persecuted by the neo-cons like you.
curi: And your view, again, is that the Israelis are murderers, correct?
Isyn: Yeah. Well, it's the Jews really. There are some Arab Israelis who are innocent.
curi: Point noted.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

political cartoon

French guy says to US: what do you mean you can't hand over power in iraq within 30 days? we handed power over to the nazis faster than that.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

must write posts

my hit counter went up. i do want hits. know what that means? pressure! ahhhhhhhh *runs around screaming* or at least it means i'd rather not post nothing much for like a week or however long it's been. here's 2 sayings by *me*:

Humans live by their creativity, not by devouring limited resources.

People twist their factual views to fit their moral views, not vice versa.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


I know! Since I have hits I should post about parenting. For the good of The Children.

TCS (Taking Children Seriously) is the true parenting theory. Its primary ideas are:

- Fallibility (certain knowledge is impossible; people can be wrong)

- No Authorities (ideas must be judged on their merit, not their source; therefore, children can be right and can't be automatically dismissed)

- Coercion is the state of two or more personality strands being expressed in different options of a single choice so that one cannot see a way to choose without forsaking some part of his personality.

- Coercion is bad for knowledge growth, and quite simply hurts people, including children

- Common Preferences, coercion-free solutions to problems, are always possible

- This means, quite literally, that there is a possible way of parenting in which children do not do anything against their own will

- An important part of getting what one wants is changing what one wants to better desires, including more relisable ones

- Once we realise changing what we want to better wants is good, we no longer need fear always getting what we want as being spoiled or immoral -- as long as we improve our desires sufficiently it would only be good

- What people want is subject to morality, and thus children won't want horrible things, as long as parents offer sufficiently good moral theories

- Good ideas beat out bad ones in argument (and thus if parent's moral theories really are better than their rivals, parent won't lose argument)

- If your ideas are so great, have some faith in them to stand up to criticism!

- Criticism is good. Criticism is a gift. Cherish criticism

- Abandonment Parenting is morally wrong (parents have an obligation to help their children)

- Advice Advice Advice (parents should give children lots of advice, but children should be free to disagree)

- Don't Hurt Children (I can't say this enough)

- And most importantly: send all children to Hebrew School (joking)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Jew Praise Followup

I recently asked bloggers to post praise of Jews. There are three takers:

Evangelical Outpost (well close enough)

Elegance Against Ignorance (who also write this)

fr0ggE (who updates like never)

The general response, as seen in comments, and here were far more negative. In short, people were outraged.

This is exactly what I expected. I made the request after being shocked by the inability of a few people to praise Jews. And true to conjecture, the scary trend continued.

People make all sorts of excuses. Commonly they try to draw a distinction between individuals and groups. But sheesh, we say people rock when we know perfectly well those people consist of a group of theories, some good, and some bad. But it's not symmetric. Just because someone is part good, part bad, does not make him morally neutral. He could be predominantly good, and then it would make perfect sense to say he rocked. So too with Jews.

Another trend was an appeal to moral relativism. Yeah, Jews rock, and so do Palestinians, and so do North Koreans. And sure Jews die, but people in Africa starve to death too. Hello? Since when is being murdered morally equivalent to starving? If I walk down the street and see someone hungry, I need not give him my money. (If you think I should feed him, and his children, let me ask: The more children he chooses to have, the more food I owe him? Or what?) But if I walk down the street and murder someone, this is an outrage, and there should be a public outcry, leading to the use of force against me. Murderers should be stopped. Anyone resistant to this is wicked.

Anyhow, anti-semitism really disgusts me. But I think you've caught that already, so I've give it a rest for the moment.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (15)

The Hedge Knight

The Hedge Knight is a short story by George RR Martin. It's set in his A Song of Ice and Fire world, which is simply the best fantasy I know of. Anyway, this entry is about morality, but I do need to summarise the plot first (spoiler warning, if you care).

Dunk is a poorly trained knight, but a good person. A wicked prince attacks a commoner girl because she did a puppet show that involved a dragon being slain, and the royal family's sigil is a dragon. Dunk (who is large) kicked the prince to the dirt to rescue the girl. But attacking a prince is illegal. The punishment is to lose his hand and a foot.

However, Dunk has a second option: trial by combat, in which it is supposed that the Gods will favour the righteous. Dunk goes for combat, but the prince insists on a Trial of Seven (there are seven Gods). This means a seven versus seven battle, until all the accusers or all the accused are vanquished. If either side can't get a full seven men behind their cause, they are considered wrong. (If the cause is just, why will no one fight for it?)

Minutes before the combat, Dunk is one man short. But then another prince, a good one, joins his side (against three of the royal family, and three of the royal guard, on the other side!). In the combat, two of Dunk's companions plus the kind prince are slain before Dunk forces the wicked prince to yield (Dunk does not kill him).

The kind prince was young, first in line for the throne, a good man, and would have been a good king. Dunk, to all appearances, was a nobody. What are Dunk's hand and foot worth against the life of such a great man, and two other fine knights beside? Wouldn't it have been better if Dunk had refused the Trial of Seven? And wasn't it foolish for six good men to risk their lives for Dunk's sake?

Dunk suggests that perhaps the Gods will twist fate such that in the future he will turn out more important than the prince who died for him. But I think this is unlikely and insufficient. What's important here is the moral issue: Dunk's companions weren't fighting for Dunk personally. Doing so really would have been foolish. Rather, they were fighting for the cause of justice. They were fighting for right.

What sort of world would it be where bad men hurt whoever they feel like, and maim any who would stand up to them? And how much worse if those who saw the injustice for what it was stood by and watched? The principle of the matter really is worth fighting, and dying, for.

To a good person, it should be a simple matter. No great intellectual arguments are needed. Dunk was defending the weak against the cruel. Of course his is the side of right. Of course we should throw our lot in with Dunk, take his side, and mean it. It's not a question of expedience or short-term gain. There are rival values being enacted in the world, and failing to take seriously the ones we care about is simply damning.

Besides, what good will come of standing by? What about the next time? Stand by again? And again? There's no point in delaying standing up for right. Either we should or we shouldn't. We should. (Yes, picking battles can be important, but that's just nuances.)

One major side-note is that a utilitarian would be totally blind to this analysis. He would see a prince who would have ruled justly and made the world better for many dying to help one. He would see six good men risking their lives for one. That utilitarianism cannot explain this matter (or perhaps: this issue is far less simple to a utilitarian), is a crushing criticism.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

marxists writing clearly

i'm not joking. (link) i read like half of it so far, and they say what they mean, and are being fairly intellectually honest so far. they supported Operation Iraqi Freedom. here's a quote:

But how is it possible for us to call ourselves Marxists and support a war waged by a coalition of rich western liberal democracies against the government of a poor “Third World” country? We would turn the question round: how it is possible that Marxism has been so corrupted and distorted that “Marxists” prefer to see thousands more Iraqis die in the torture chambers of the Ba’ath, and millions more suffer under the iniquities excused (not caused) by the UN sanctions, rather than admit that socialists not only can but must support even the worst bourgeois democracy against even the least bad tyranny?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

mmmm good comment

Tom comments:

sufficiently good values will make one an outcast. (unless he also knows how to fake worse values, and enjoy doing so, which is I consider kinda perverse). being an outcast *isn't* all that fun

Howcome they are good values then? Surely faking worse values isn't the only way to win respect. The majority of people admire courage, for example. Upholding good values takes courage, among other qualities. Why be a hermit, a Ben Kenobi? All hermits go a little bit crazy in the end, even those with lightsabers and/or broadband.

So it's hard to be good and popular. But whoever said that virtue doesn't require cunning? (And good PR)

PR helps of course, but I posit it can only take you so far. there are limits to how much of a worldview gap PR alone can bridge. after that you need to either act on different values or change society.

a simple example is people who find it natural that criticism is a gift to be cherished, may find it hard to get along with those who find it scary. yes, this particular issue isn't that hard to fake -- just don't criticise people who won't like it. but it's not very easy to enjoy faking it.

update: also, ppl who think criticism is scary, probably won't give you any useful criticism. lovely.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)


Frank J writes:

Al Gore decided to support Howard Dean when he found out that Liberman is a Joooo!

Read the whole post here.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

i'm not being sarcastic. really.

so i hear sum ppl think The Americans murder Innocent Iraqis.

damn. they caught us. out of saddam's torture chambers into our death camps. we invaded cause saddam was too much of a pussy to do it right.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

my fucking god

Andrew Sullivan found this

At a debate, the Hamas candidate asked the Fatah candidate: "Hamas activists in this university killed 135 Zionists. How many did Fatah activists from Bir Zeit kill?"

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

It's Tough Being Good

Suppose you are a bad person. You get angry a lot, have trouble valuing much, aren’t very successful, blame others for your troubles, and hurt your children often. But, whatever, you’re life isn’t so bad. You get through it, enjoy a fair amount of it.

Now, suppose someone claims to be moral, and you notice the implication that you are not. And suppose this person lacks all your bad traits. This might well make you feel bad.

And then you might write a letter to the so-called moral person, attacking him. The content might be along the lines of (if you were exceptionally intelligent and clear, for a bad person): You bastard, fuck you. You’re totally wrong. Oh, and if you reply in kind you’re just like me, except also a liar. Nope, just sit there and take it, Mr. High and Mighty. Oh, and you can’t get resentful because that would violate your moral code, huh? But you are mad at me, aren’t you? Yep, you’re a hypocrite. Now stop implying I’m bad, and get back to your stupid, lucky life.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)

Jews Done Right

If you want to see some heartfelt praise of Jews, and some moral clarity, look at this Little Green Footballs thread. It made me smile.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Reply To Alice

Alice Bachini commented below:

What is your definition of "good"?

Notice how it all starts with an epistemic error. I guess I need to go over this subject even more often. Suffice it for now that arguing semantics misses the point in a discussion.

100% morally perfect/ mostly morally correct/ has the best available world-view available at the current time in history?

We both know perfectly well that no one is 100% morally perfect, and that that criterion is absurd. So is having the best "available" worldview. And 'mostly right' just won't cut it either, because it's not a numbers game.

Rather, good is an explanation, and we must actually think to use the word, not just apply mechanical criteria.

Does your definition of "good" take into account people's inexplicit moral theories, as well as their explicit ones?

[sarcasm]No. Of course not. Why would I do that?[/sarcasm]

[different sarcasm]What, did you think I'm stupid?[/sarcasm]

Seriously if you want to talk to me, think about who you are talking to as you write. Feels like next you'll be asking, "Do you think maybe, just possibly, Popper might have gotten something right?" or "Do you think maybe, just possibly, Popper might have gotten something wrong?" Yes, of course, duh.

Does it take into account the degree of *activeness* with which the person exercises their goodness?

If such a thing exists, I take it into account imperfectly and inexplicitly. But I don't think it does. Is 'inactive good' the Nazi guard who has some reservations floating around in his head while he stops a jailbreak?

I expect to be told something like 'active good means actually doing good things'. But seems to me that just means living in a good way. But if active good is living well, then I don't see how inactive good could exist, as it would imply living wrongly, and thus not be good. If inactive good doesn't exist, then taking into account 'the degree of *activeness*' of someone's good is incoherent.

I'm not convinced that how tough your life is is principally characterised by how good you are (if that is what you are implying).

I didn't say that at all here. I gave ways being more good can make your life harder elsewhere, but of course I did not claim that's the only or main factor.

Here, I simply gave ways a bad person could fuck with a good person.

It seems to me that the toughness of one's life depends on factors such as being skilled at dealing with the problems one chooses for oneself, being flexible and good at acquiring new knowledge when needed, and so on.

Superficially that seems plausible. But we don't choose what problems to have directly. Mostly, they just happen to us. The car breaks down. Or we don't understand something. Or the son wants something. Or the boss wants something. Even choosing a hobby, say, means picking which problem to work on, not what problems exist. (It is possible to create interesting problems by designing games or puzzles, and other ways. But that's not important to this.)

Before I continue I want to clarify what the statement really says, behind the pretty words. It simply means that the way to get through life best is to A) choose the right problems to have in your life B) Deal with problems rightly (And a few aspects of how to do this are listed)

Well, A) is wrong, and B) is kinda obvious (It's just a form of "we should act rightly"). Anyhow, if we can't control the problems we face directly, and we are doing our best to solve them, is that all we can do?

No! A focus on dealing only with current and foreseeable problems is damning. We must add into this an analysis of morality, and act rightly even if we cannot see the benefit. This means putting aside any petty notions about aiming for an easy life, or putting happiness above all, and accepting any (moral, but otherwise too) argument that seems true, like it or not.

Good knowledge of the practical details required to live by one's theories, perhaps.

No, knowledge of one's theories is required to live by one's theories. That simple. Well, that and theories you can do. Theories that ask you to do things you don't know how to are just idiotic (as opposed to ones that tell you to learn, then do it).

Plus a good deal of luck, like being in the right place at the right time.

[sarcasm]Yeah, let's blame our problems on luck, chance, and maybe the heavens.[/sarcasm]

Sometimes people get picked on for being good. Sometimes they get picked on for being fat or wearing glasses or being a child.

Dear god, is this really an equivocation between being good and wearing glasses? Does it really imply that attacking goodness and attacking fatness are equally bad?

Adults getting picked on for being good can develop a wide range of strategies for dealing with it, so they don't experience it as coercive, and don't mind it at all, even find it amusing, in most cases, except where they're being arrested and tortured in unfree countries, maybe.

They can develop a wide range of strategies for dealing with it, but "so they don't experience it as coercive" is not the point of all of them. It's only the point of the ones favoured by the commenter.

The sentiments seem to be that if we can find a way not to mind badness, then the problem is solved. Of course, if held consistently, this view should apply to being arrested and tortured too.

The right view is more like: badness is not bad "because it might coerce good people" and the solution is not "to find states of mind more defended against coercion." Rather, we must not let bad people try to hurt us in the first place. A successful defense requires using offense -- we must fight evil, not just try to cope with it.

Some good adults find those skills harder to develop than others: I think it depends on their entrenchments, their meta-knowledge, luck, and other variables.

Or in plain and more accurate English: it depends on their worldview and their situation (and luck, or so it's claimed).

[sarcasm]Really? Wow! I never would have thought of that! I'm glad you told me.[/sarcasm]

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


abandoners tend to have trouble seeing the difference between help and authoritative control. (what is advice if not just a form of getting people to do what you say?)

authorities tend to have trouble seeing the difference between freedom and abandonment. (what is freedom if not leaving the authority's jurisdiction?)

but we can have freedom and help both, without the bad stuff.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

when in doubt about what to post

just google news for: israel palestine

and soon you will read stuff like

"Fact is, Israel is a damn near theocracy, for goodness sake." and be inspired to post. sheesh. post coming soon, and adding LGF to perm links, cause i ought to read it more, and it totally rocks.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

new category :-)

The Wall: Sharon's Long-planned Land Grab


By Christopher Bollyn
American Free Press

Methinks it's a good thing for him he's right about that 'free press' comment....

Here's the source. Linking sources is something Chris (the author) doesn't bother with, but I still think is important.

The Israeli "separation barrier" is the realization of Ariel Sharon-s long-planned settlement scheme to appropriate vast amounts of Palestinian land and water resources by isolating and impoverishing the Holy Land's Christian and Moslem population. It is a racist wall, according to its critics, designed to cause the expulsion of the native population by denying Palestinians access to their land and water.

It's amusing how Chris disavows some of his claims by blaming them on other people. For example, "It is a racist wall, according to its critics". If you're willing to just repeat what some Hamas spokesman dreamed last night, you can write an article saying virtually anything against Israel, without having to make a claim yourself. This way if anyone disagrees, you can refer them to Hamas to argue with :-)

Also of note is how the j000s aren't just racist against Palestinians. Oh no, now they're stealing land from Christians too. I guess this is because the US has a lot of Christians that Chris would like to convert to his cause.

And if you're thinking, "sheesh, Elliot, you didn't even refute his claims, this is just ad hominem BS." I'd just like to point out Chris didn't bother source any of them. They really are just made up, far as I can tell.

I'd also like to refer you to Honest Reporting's take on the fence.

Bethlehem and its Christian holy site has become an open-air prison, like the Gaza Strip, surrounded by an Israeli-built electrified wall v an "atrocity" paid for and supported by the U.S. government.

Does Chris really think he can turn US Christians against Israel this easily? Even in the midst of his own rhetoric he shies away from saying strong words like 'atrocity' himself and has to quote them. What a whiny bitch.

Depicted by the pro-Zionist mass media as a "self-defense" measure required to foil Palestinian terror attacks, the wall is actually the beginning of the final phase of the long-planned appropriation of Palestinian land and water resources begun decades ago by the current Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon.

Riiiiight. The mass media is full of Jews, except lonely Chris fighting the good fight. He might even have had a point...if it wasn't for the fact that every other media outlet says the same damn thing. That's right, media outlets are all lone beacons of sanity surrounded by j0000s. You'd think we didn't even have the telegraph yet or something, the way they communicate.

The real objective of the wall is the de facto annexation of Palestinian land to Israel and the forced expulsion of the native population from their homes and land

You'll never guess how Chris found that out.

according to Stop the Wall, a Palestinian "anti-apartheid" organization.

Yup, that's right, a Hamas spokesman told him.

Nearly all of the illegal Israeli settlements built in the occupied territory will be included in the annexed areas of the West Bank. 98 percent of the settler population will be on the Israeli side of the wall, according to Stop the Wall. Actions, such as Jewish settlements, which affect the demography of an occupied territory are clear violations of international law.

I had to scroll a long ways to find this. Chris spent many paragraphs going on about unsourced "facts" that he says the Palestinian something-or-other organisation told him.

Anyway, I'll answer with a Bush quote (which I will actually source, too!):

Mr Schroeder says international law must apply to the awarding of the lucrative contracts.

"This is the task for all people, for all of us, and because it is for everyone we don't need to discuss exactly who individually is participating in the economical side of reconstruction here, international law must apply and must help the cause," he said.

But President Bush has brushed that aside.

"International law? I better call my lawyer. He didn't bring that up to me," he said.

(emphasis mine)

Anyway, that's enough of Chris. I'm gonna do something else now.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)

CNN belives in ghosts

and so does half its readers.

link and check out the quick poll results. currently 18k ppl say hoax, 15k say ghost.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (7)

Entry #100

ok so i google newsed for israel palestine again, and found this at the top. it's some chinese diplomat saying the way to create peace in the middle east is international support for peace. ho hum.

but it gets worse. the entire thing has zero moral judgments.

but it gets even worse. it does have this:

He called on the United Nations to continue its efforts to resolve the dispute, and urged the international community to giveassistance to programs benefiting Palestinians.

There was no equivalent statement urging anyone to help Israelis. Also, if you stop and think about what many Palestinian organisations actually do with money (kill Jews) ... *cough*

To try and appear fair and balanced, the article does bother to quote an Israeli once. However, they managed to find one who opposes Sharon. *sweatdrop*

Zehava Galon, a member of Israel's Knesset, said the Geneva Initiative, launched on Dec. 1 by groups in Palestine and Israel, had the best chance of success, and the international community should make joint efforts to promote it.

Here's what Sharon says, which makes rather a lot of sense:

"Geneva is an attempt to do something only a government can do. Only a government can conduct political negotiations and sign an agreement," he said.

"It is damaging and embarrassing for Israel, it's a mistake to put on such a show and at the same time jeopardize a program which is the only one that can bring a solution," Sharon argued, in reference to the roadmap.

BTW the article i got that quote from is HEAVILY biased, but I noticed the islam-online URL so I won't bother criticising it bit by bit.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

lying bastards

Just read this.

U.S. Leaders Support New Israel-Palestine Peace Initiatives, Geneva Initiative

The thing is, if you read the article, it's *former* US officials. sheesh.

And this article, like all the others I've seen so far, tries to portray the Geneva Initiative as a joint Palestinian-Israeli venture, and a big step towards cooperation and peace, even though it's opposed by the Israeli government, and only left-wing loonies are cooperating on it.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

not just a new category, but my new favorite ^^

back to google news. found this. safe-looking URL and says it's an associated press story, so off we go:

Sharon said Thursday that if the Palestinians did not make serious peace moves in the next few months, Israel would impose its own boundary on them. Palestinians say only a negotiated agreement can bring peace.

Doesn't this mean that if Israel simply tries to defend itself and doesn't make enough concessions at the bargaining table, Palestinians will continue trying to exterminate Israel (ie not have peace).

Peace doesn't come from words, it comes from refraining from murder and attempted murder.

They are worried that unilateral Israeli action would leave them with far less land than they want for a future state.

Oh how horrid. They're clearly oppressed -- they won't get as much land as they'd like unless they stop trying to murder jews.

Qureia has said he would agree to the meeting only if Sharon showed a willingness to compromise on a series of contentious issues, including the construction of a security barrier that dips deep into the West Bank.

Deep, eh? Ever look at a map? Dipshit.

And the Qureia guy will only consider fighting terrorism if Sharon gives him stuff? My God, Sharon ought to give him a beating.

Sharon has refused to stop building the barrier, but has said Israel planned to ease closings, curfews and other restrictions on Palestinians.

Know why? Because the fence makes them unnecssary. Credit should go where it's due; this is a pretty serious distortion.

Soldiers shot tear gas into a girls school in the camp, just outside the West Bank town of Nablus, witnesses said. The military denied firing tear gas and said the incursion was routine in search of militants and weapons.

Do you know why the IDF searches girls' schools for terrorists and weapons? Because they hide them there! Scum.

Did you notice how the reporter didn't bother to find out what happened, and just repeated some made-up lies about the IDF? Then tries to paint it like a coverup when he cites the IDF.

anyway, it's sunday, so i better write some frontpage stuff, so probably no more posts here today. cya

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

just had to quote this

Saddam watches a lot of videos. He reads a lot of thrillers. And he watches a lot of TV: not only Iraqi but especially CNN, BBC and al-Jazeera.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Sadly the USA isn't Perfect

(If you don't see quotes in both blue and red backgrounds, hit refresh.)

Four days ago Sharon gave a speech that Woty and I thought was good. But what did the US government think?

I've found two articles to analyse with very different takes. Quotes from this one by the BBC will appear with a light red background. Quotes from this one by the JPost will appear with a light blue background. (Note: Both articles came out the same day.)

US warns Israel over 'separation'

The United States has warned Israel against taking any unilateral measures to separate itself from Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza.

White House 'very pleased' with PM's speech

Oh dear, that's quite a difference. Either someone is pretty damn biased, or the US is sending mixed messages (which would be bad).

I'm going to go through the JPost article first.

"We were very pleased with the overall speech," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said regarding Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's remarks at the Herzliya Conference.

The White House on Friday modified its appraisal of the speech, offsetting published accounts that focused on McClellan's admonition Thursday that Sharon should not try to impose a settlement on the Palestinians without negotiations.

The State Department echoed the White House praise, although deputy spokesman Adam Ereli also cautioned Israel against acting without consulting the Palestinians on issues that ought to be resolved through negotiations.

So far it sounds like the White House is sending mixed messages. Dammit.

Sharon said that while Israel is interested in conducting direct negotiations, it will not be held hostage by the Palestinians. "I have already said we will not wait for them indefinitely," he said.

The JPost article quotes Sharon's speech heavily. Skimming to find more about the US reaction now.

Sharon defined the goals of disengagement as reducing terrorism as much as possible and granting Israelis maximum security to improve the quality of life and strengthen the economy. He stressed that the unilateral steps will be fully coordinated with the US.

"We must not harm our strategic coordination with the US," he said.

Sounds good, but is it true?

Also, 'unilateral steps ... coordinated with the US'. Heh.

Sharon began his speech, which was shown to the US administration before delivery, by pledging his allegiance to the road map and President George W. Bush's vision of a two-state solution.

Wait a second. We saw the speech first! Does anyone really think they showed us the speech, we said we hated it, then they read it including claims about cooperation with the US? If we'd found the speech unacceptable, at the least it would have dropped claims of US support and coordination, if not changed more drastically.

What, then, is the BBC talking about? Well, let's see:

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had outlined a "disengagement plan" in case the roadmap peace plan failed.

But the White House said the US was committed to a negotiated settlement between the two sides under the American-backed roadmap.

I loath the BBC. They twist everything. First, the "disengagement plan" does not signify the roadmap has failed; it is a temporary, reversible measure to improve security until Palestinians do their part of the roadmap. It protects Israelis from Palestinian foot-dragging.

Next, the BBC tries to play this as if Sharon was contradicting the White House ('but'), and even against a negotiated settlement. But if you read Sharon's speech this is clearly false.

This doesn't yet reveal anything about the US reaction to the speech, but it does reveal BBC bias.

Palestinians and Jewish settlers have denounced Mr Sharon's proposed steps.

Fuckers! There's really nothing else to say. They try to paint Sharon as a lone figure denounced by Palestinians and Israelis alike. But this is just Jewish settlers who are mad that Sharon is willing to dismantle any settlements at all. In other words, the Jewish settlers' opposition to Sharon (which is of the disapprove of one policy sort not the the man is thoroughly evil sort) is because he is too moderate and too willing to make concessions for peace .... which is the exact thing the BBC complains Sharon isn't.

The United States "would oppose any unilateral steps that block the road towards negotiations under the roadmap that leads to the two-state vision," said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.

"A settlement must be negotiated and we would oppose any Israeli effort to impose a settlement," he said.

Notably these statements don't actually contradict anything Sharon said in his speech. (Unilateral withdrawal is entirely different from imposing a settlement on the Palestinians.) But then why is the US saying them?

In a long-awaited speech on Thursday evening, Mr Sharon said Israel would take the initiative if the Palestinians did not begin disbanding militant groups as required by the roadmap plan.

(Emphasis mine)

Is that really what the Sharon said? To get rid of militants?

Well, telling Safari to find the words 'militant' or 'militants' in Sharon's speech comes up with nothing. Damn liars.

Mr Sharon said Israel "will greatly accelerate" building a controversial barrier in the West Bank, which Israel says is vital to stop Palestinian militants crossing into Israel to carry out attacks.

But in the speech it actually says, "Israel will greatly accelerate the construction of the security fence." Notice how the BBC closed their quote after three words and filled in the rest with their own words that were not a fair paraphrase of what Sharon said. Damn liars.

Palestinians condemned Mr Sharon's speech as unacceptable.

"I am disappointed that he is threatening the Palestinians," said Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei.

"We are committed to the roadmap," he added.

LOL. Sure. And why does the BBC repeat such lies, when it doesn't even like to quote Sharon for more than three words?

Nabil Abu Rudeina, an advisor to Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, said Mr Sharon was trying to tear up the roadmap.

"These declarations represent nothing new and amount to a rejection of the roadmap.

This is worse than the previous one, but don't think it's over yet. Next the BBC asked what Hamas thought. Literally.

Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the spiritual leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas, called Mr Sharon's plan "a delusion to fool the world".

I can't help but wonder every time a Hamas spiritual leader is quoted: if they were close enough to ask him questions, couldn't they have shot him?

"Sharon is asking Palestinians to raise white flags, to surrender. This is totally rejected by our people. We will not surrender and our people will defend themselves," he said.

And Yassin says Sharon is delusional...

Anyway, despite the titles, neither article focussed on the US reaction all that much. From what I can tell, the US did send some mixed messages, as agreed in both articles. This is bad. The US ought to be supporting Israel unequivocally.

The JPost acknowledged the US ambiguity and pointed out the positive bits of the US reaction too, and pointed out that the US saw the speech before it was given. Mostly it just quoted Sharon, who actually gave the speech. So I'd say the JPost article was pretty fair.

On the other hand, the BBC article was biased through and through. It had nothing positive to say, mostly quoted anyone willing to say something bad about Sharon, and lied. Which isn't the biggest surprise in the world, but still... sheesh

If you liked this piece, go here for more of my thoughts about Israel (it's a category archive).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

UNobserver.com about as principled as UN

Another day, another google news search. Top one was this.

According to a new report released today by B'Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights, the IDF violates the right of residents of the Occupied Territories to obtain medical treatment. The security claims cited to justify this violation are dubious.

Well that sounds pretty bad. Let's see if it's true.

Dozens of staffed checkpoints and some 600 physical roadblocks have been set up within the West Bank in the framework of Israel's siege policy.

"siege policy" -- LOL. so biased.

These obstacles to movement restricts the access of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to medical treatment.

ok if that's their case, they are official dipshits.

International law is unequivocal on matters relating to the protection of medical teams. Medical personnel are not to be unnecessarily delayed or harmed, unless they participate in military activity. In effect, the IDF is collectively punishing hundreds of thousands of civilians by preventing access to basic medical treatment.

Wait just a second. I seem to recall that Palestinian terrorists use ambulances to transport weapons and personel. They would also pretend to be sick if that'd get them past security. So being careful with ambulances and people who claim to be sick isn't unnecessary.

Any use of ambulances for non-medical purposes is a grave violation of international law.

While the IDF justifies routine delays of ambulances based on the claim that Palestinians use them for military purposes, they have only presented one such incident. Regardless, individual cases of misuse of ambulances does not justify the sweeping policy described in this report.

It doesn't? What are they supposed to do? Only screen some ambulances?

And only one incident? Let's check that out. Google for: palestinian ambulance terrorism

The top hit is Explosives Found in Palestinian Ambulance (Note: incident was March 27, 2002)

One down, one to go.

How about this from June 11, 2002:

Yesterday afternoon security forces stopped a Palestinian ambulance traveling on the main road between Gaza and Khan Yunis for a routine check and arrested a Palestinian fugitive inside pretending to be a patient.

OK, they're already filthy liars, but of course there is plenty more. Like this from April 21, 2002:

"There was no situation where we did not allow people to get into the hospital. Every ambulance that wanted to get into the hospital could go every time. We did check the ambulances. The reason was that the hospital was used to hide highly wanted terrorists. On one occasion one of our doctors checked one of the ambulances. According to what the Palestinian doctor said, there was one severely sick person lying inside. And then we looked at him -- there wasn't a scratch on him, he just had an intravenous, just taped to his shirt, not even inserted in his veins. And this was one of the highly wanted terrorists...

back to the article:

B'Tselem and Physicians for Human Rights call on the security forces to:

· Remove all the siege checkpoints;

· Allow Palestinians to receive medical treatment quickly and without delay;

· Refrain from humiliating or abusing medical personnel.

Translated, they are asking the IDF to let terrorists murder Jews more often.

Oh dear, after that they link to Al Jazeera complaining about Jenin.

Here's info on Jenin.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

Why I Oppose Porn

I saw some interesting arguments in favour of porn, but what are the arguments against porn?

- Of course, as we all know, pornographers killed Jesus.

- Porn is inappropriate for adults who already know how to have sex.

- Porn is inappropriate for children who don't need to know how to have sex yet.

- Porn encourages masturbating, and there's the classic discovery that masturbating makes your palms hairy. We should cut that problem off at the source and ban porn before anyone gets aroused alone.

- Speaking of cutting things off, porn makes it four times more likely that you accidentally cut off your penis.

- Banning porn gives the government something to do. You wouldn't want bored cops without a stash of confiscated porn wandering around the streets, would you?

- Porn is demeaning to men, because most of it is made for men as if to say, "we know it's only men who have trouble getting laid".

- Gay porn is a minority, which makes gays feel like a minority, which is hurtful.

- Porn encourages people to wear out their dicks at an early age with excessive masturbation.

- Porn provides loud orgasms which keep the neighbors up.

- Porn disrupts the process of sexual fantasising by replacing individual, creative, personal fantasies with store-bought, mass-produced, stereotyped ones.

- Most people are stupid. Most people like porn. Therefore porn is obviously stupid.

- Porn can be shocking, which increases the risk of heart attack.

- It's a fact that 93.2% of porn stars are 87.4% more likely to use illegal drugs.

- It's a fact that if 98.1% of them weren't porn stars, they'd be too poor to buy drugs.

- And lastly: Porn depicts sex, which is gross.

So get out there and join an activist group to stop porn before it's too late!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (8)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

title here

Read this:

Another element that I must tell you about how the terrorists used people, used children. A few days after the battle ended, we saw a 6-year-old child with a little bag going in the camp. One of the soldiers asked him, "Listen, what do you have there in the bag?" and so he dropped it and ran away. The bag included three booby-traps. Six years old. Now obviously this child went back to his family or wherever. A six year old cannot understand a lot, but obviously he understood it was not a good thing to do, but it is unbelievable the use of children.

The other experience that we had was with two old women and one man. At every house that was in the end destroyed, we called upon the people, once and twice and three times, to come out - the ones who do not want to fight. We said, "Please come out". Obviously in some cases some people came out, and in one case two old women and one man came out of a house, with their hands up. Just behind them there was a terrorist who shot at the soldiers and afterwards detonated explosions. So you know, people talk here about all kinds of moral elements, accusing the Israeli army. I am very proud of the moral values of every specific soldier, the most simple soldier in our army.

and this (same source):

I will tell you about one case. There was one house in this very area, in this area from which about ten terrorists were shooting at us. This whole house was basically booby-trapped - it was like a minefield. We sent two of our very special units to explode the booby-trapped front of this house, because it was impossible in any other way from a military point of view, to overcome these terrorists. When our two soldiers from the very special unit came close to the house, they saw that there were one woman and two children, and they did not put the explosives under the house, and did not blow up the house. While they were withdrawing back to their forces, one of them was seriously wounded, the other not very seriously.

The IDF is not just humane. It's too humane. They should have killed them, not aborted the mission. Or better yet just bombed the house in the first place without going too near. It had ten terrorists shooting from it for crying outloud.

PS sheesh

An IDF video disproves incriminating media claims from the day before, yet many outlets ignore or bury the new information

Read the source, which is itself sourced, if you don't believe it.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

it may be xmas eve, but the jews are still controlling the content of my blog

ok found another israel/palestine article (man I'm good). link

Uganda still supports Palestine despite opposing two UN resolutions condemning Israel, Minister of State for International Affairs Tom Butime clarified yesterday.

The world is strange.

On December 4 the United Nations took its annual vote on seven resolutions concerning Israel. Eight countries voted against and 155 voted for a resolution on Jerusalem, declaring that Israeli actions to impose laws, jurisdiction and administration on the Holy City are "illegal and therefore null and void and have no validity whatsoever."

I suppose this means it's not illegal to assault visiting Egyptians.

The resolution criticised governments that have set up diplomatic missions in Jerusalem and called for international actions to guarantee freedom of religion and access by all people and nationalities to the holy city.

Sound strange? I thought so too. But then I set my crack team of researchers on the matter. (Didn't you know all right-wing blogs are supplied with crack teams of researchers by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy?)

They discovered that a 1947 UN resolution internationalised Jerusalem. So Jews have no right to be there -- even in the Western half. Hence, no one puts their embassies in Jerusalem. (Except a couple rogue countries.)

They further found out the US doesn't have an embassy in Jerusalem even though Congress mandated one and Bush promised one in his election campaign.

The eight countries that voted against were the United States, Israel, Palau, Nauru, Costa Rica, Micronesia, the Marshall Islands and Uganda.

I notice the list doesn't include: Britain, Australia, New Zealand.

Uganda also abstained on another resolution to refer Israel's construction of a security wall in the West Bank to the International Court in The Hague. Eight countries voted against the proposal while 74 abstained and 90 voted in favour.

Send the security fence [I can change words too, not just the BBC :-)] issue to the International Court in The Hague? LOL. Good luck with that.

"On some resolutions that are straightforward, we voted for them, like the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people," said Butime.

Such as the rights to own and use machine guns, to move around at night with no questions asked, to incite violence freely, and to transport terrorists in ambulances.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Merry Christmas

So what am I gonna do on Christmas? That's easy! I'm going to link to Setting The World To Rights.

Why, you ask? Well, to anyone who doesn't already read it, you can take this as a great gift. (A Christmas gift, even.) The site is simply fantastic, and now you shall enjoy it too.

What, you ask, is so special about The World? Well unlike most blogs, there are not glaring gaps in The World's understanding of the world. Obviously all left-wing blogs don't get something or other, but the right-wing ones mess up too. They commonly oppose contraception or abortion, endorse ageism, endorse anthropomorphism, take an anti-rational approach to the question of religion, appeal to authority, or commit various other errors on issues that are understood by many people today. The World doesn't do any of this. It gets all these issues right, and many more.

Here are a few recent posts:

- The World invents amusing conspiracy theories -- why should the loonies have all the fun?

- The World understands environmentalism.

- The World understands the difference between animals and humans.

- The World understands political correctness.

- The World understands the history of Israel. (And also supports Israel, but not in the history, which is written without moral judgment.)

Oh yeah, one more thing. I comment at The World, and you wouldn't want to miss out on that ;-)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

In My World (Not IMAO's world, dammit, *mine*)

UN condemns Jews

The UN condemned the Jews today for putting a strain on the Palestinian economy. "Bombs and bullets are expensive, and martyrs never work again," said a UN official. "If only the Jews didn't have to be blown up, or if they were less resistant (making the process cheaper), then the Palestinians could be truly prosperous."

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

asshat alert

ok found an article.

Our taxes fund injustice and apartheid

by Mazin Qumsiyeh

Sounds just lovely.

I was a bit disturbed that few Hispanic or African Americans attended my son's school in an economically "upper-class" part of Connecticut. We clearly have work to do to protect civil rights and challenge socioeconomic apartheid.

The fact that some group tends to be poorer does not prove they are oppressed, that civil rights protection is lacking, or that there is any socioeconomic apartheid. It could simply be that group tends to be less moral.

The left always tries to say bad people have no choice, and blame their circumstances. It's not their fault they taught their children to fail; they didn't know any better! But this abdication from responsibility is exactly what we don't need -- if people took more personal responsibility they could solve these problems and it wouldn't be "the unavoidable consequence of X environment" anymore. The victimhood mentality can create problems just as easily as actually being a victim.

There are schools for Palestinians and schools for Israeli Jews.

I wonder why. Maybe cause it's not safe to let Palestinians into Jewish schools. Now I'm not saying every Palestinian schoolkid is a murderer, but enough are, and many of the rest are terrorist sympathisers. When their culture comprehensively and unequivocally rejects terrorism and murder, the school setup will change.

Israelis get 6 times more water per person than Palestinians.

Well that's ok, because my anonymous source says that Palestinians produce four times the air pollution, and seven times the water pollution, but only pay one tenth the cleanup costs! And not only that, they use ninty percent of the soap and eighty percent of the carrots. Greedy bastards!

9 million Palestinians in the world, over 5 million are refugees or "displaced persons."

Yeah, that's what happens when you refuse your own state (in 1948, and many times since), and instead declare war, and lose.

Under the road map, Palestinians would remain dispersed and those remaining are left with no control of their natural resources or even their lives.

See what I mean about how the left thinks people in bad situations aren't responsible for what they do?

You'll also commonly hear leftists say "If I were in that situation, I'd become a terrorist too." They are trying to say anyone would do it. The truth is anyone wicked would do it. If you ask a right-wing person what they'd do if they were poor and lived in crappy circumstances, they'd probably just answer "I'd get a job," and possibly add, "and pray for the best." Spot the difference.

They would remain surrounded by Israeli army and colonies and now with huge walls being built around their towns.

Huge walls, eh? Actually most of the security fence will be chain link fence. 3% will be stone.

Israel's share of our foreign aid budget is 30% while its population is about 0.1% of world population.

Wow, great! I would have guessed we wasted a lot more money on other countries than that.

Except for persistent attempts by some in the US media to shield Americans from facts, the whole world opposes the Israel-inspired and Bush-led attack on human rights and international law.

Well if enough people say something, they must be right. It's just logic.

And I thought I remembered US media mostly opposing the War on Terror. Hum, I must be getting old or something.

The violence of resistance is dwarfed by the violence of the occupation and colonization.

Let me translate:

Killing Jews is ok because the Jews rule the world, and are thus to blame for all suffereing anywhere.
Four times more Palestinian civilians were killed than Israeli civilians.

The solution, of course, is for Israel to stop fighting back.

Rachel Corrie, a 23 year old American member of the International Solidarity movement, was killed by an Israeli soldier driving an American made Caterpillar. As I reflect on my son's graduation, I weep with the family of this student and the families of over 800 Palestinian students killed by Israeli forces. I also reflect on and I am saddened by the continuing injustices supported by our taxes. But then I think of the idealism and wonderful words of Rachel and all the conscientious students she left behind. They will lead us to a world with no walls and a world of justice and equality.

A world of no walls, eh? Sounds like he's advocating that Israel stop defending itself. Just pointing it out again in case you'd missed the theme.

Notice how he fails to mention anything about the circumstances of Rachel Corrie's death. He just sort of implies she was murdered, but won't say it directly cause he's too much of a pussy. Here's a nice thread about her. If you want more details, go here.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

ai yori aoshi rocks

So I was just watching Ai Yori Aoshi, which btw rocks, and anywayz, there's the main char Kaoru and then a bunch of girls who fight over him but are generally too embarassed to do anything about liking him (shut up, it's better than it sounds). anyway, so they go to a beach and meet a new char (chika) who also likes kaoru (surprise, surprise). anyhow, the girls fight over kaoru but get nowhere with him for 2 eps at the beach, and then when they're leaving (without chika), chika runs up and kisses kaoru on the cheek. the other girls get mad, of course, but IMO basically chika owned them.

anyhow, the point is the observation that this was a socially acceptable thing to do. but if it was a bunch of guys after one girl (already sounds potentially kinda bad), and one *ran up and kissed her* on his own initiative without obvious consent, that is very much *not* socially acceptable.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

The Dangers Of Curiosity

I knew it was wax. It looked like wax. It felt like wax. I said, "It's wax." I tasted it anyway. It was wax.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

The Cycle of Violence

hum was running out of new articles so have changed google news search to just 'Israel'. found this.

Palestinians assassinated in Gaza by Israel; Palestinian groups vow that Israeli civilians are targets

It's nice how they call the IDF 'assassins' and paint the Palestinian terrorists as just out for justice.

The military wing for both the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas, and the Islamic Jihad, and the Democratic Front For Liberation of Palestine, vowed to retaliate operations conducted by the occupation forces against the Palestinians, stressing that these crimes will not go unpunished, and that escalating resistance will be the only answer for the occupation practices.

See, Hamas isn't evil, they're just part of Allah's Divine Retribution department, an honoured post. And besides, it's the Jews' fault that Hamas tries to kill Jews; they bring it on themselves. They should stop resisting and accept Allah's will. They're just making this process more painful than it has to be.

The leading figure in the Islamic Jihad Movement, Khaled al-Batish, said that his movement will not be ready to avoid what is known "Israeli civilians" as long as Israel does not do the same under commitments and guarantees.

One wonders, if he thinks the Jews are so despicable, why he would want to copy what he says their behavior is. If he's so righteous, why doesn't he take the high road?

Meantime, more than 20,000 Palestinians took part in the funeral of the five Palestinians who were killed in the Israeli raid in Gaza

20,000, eh? Good thing you counted, I would have never known it was so many. *ahem*

Anyway, what he's trying to say is that many, many or most Palestinians are aligned with the five who died, and aligned against Israel. The thing is, I believe him on that point...

Oh, and BTW who were these victims of Israeli aggression?

and that resulted in killing five Palestinians, including three members of Saraya al-Quds ( al-Quds group), the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, one of them being Muqallid Hameed, the commander of the group in the north of Gaza, amid slogans vowing revenge.

Members of the "militant" wing of Islamic Jihad? *sweatdrop*

On the other hand, Palestinian medical sources said that one Palestinian died yesterday because of his wounds he had on Thursday by the bullets of the occupation forces, in Khan Younis camp for the Palestinian refugees, to the south of Gaza.

Hmm, so the only information is the IDF felt this guy was worthy of shooting at. We're supposed to assume they were wrong, just because they're the IDF. My approach is more the opposite: I figure if the IDF thinks someone is worth shooting at, I probably ought to want to see him dead. So all I've got to say is:


Meantime, an Israeli military source said that one Qassam missile was fired from Gaza and exploded in fields of the Israeli settlements, to the south of Israel yesterday. No casualties were reported.

It's a very good thing indeed that terrorists can't aim worth shit.

It's a scary thing that the ones who don't die are bound to get better at it.

In the West Bank, the occupation forces yesterday invaded Balatah Camp to the East of Nablus. News repots said that hundreds of Israeli soldiers broke into the camp and several houses in it, after they had imposed curfew on the area.

The occupation forces got out men and young men and gathered them in the public squares, and machine-gun fire was heard from the place.

Notice how they try to make it sound like there was a massacre. More likely the machine-gun fire (if there was any) was some friendly "militants" greeting the "occupation forces".

The German foreign minister Yushka Fischer yesterday called on the Israelis and the Palestinians to spare no efforts so as not to return back away from the cycle of violence.

The Cycle of Violence is one of Hamas's most treasured artifacts. Sources say it was first ridden by Muhammed (who says they didn't know how to make bicycles back then? The Jews and Christians didn't know how, but Muhammed did.) In recent years, it has been used in at least forty Jihad missions. Astoundingly, it has passed through these ordeals unscathed. Even more astoundingly, it boasts a stellar 10% success rate on missions it's a part of. For there to be peace in the Middle East, we must capture and destroy Hamas' Cycle of Violence.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


I'm a San Jose Sharks (ice hockey) fan. The team is very much lite on stars, but they do well anyway.

One thing you may have noticed about ice hockey (and this has been becoming more true in other sports too) is that on a good day, any team can beat any other team. This is because the minimum skill level -- the ability of the worst players in the league -- is very high (much higher than it used to be). Everyone is good. Everyone can shoot. Almost everyone can shoot well in ways their position doesn't usually require (defense doing up-close shots; forwards doing slapshots from far away).

It's a rarity for the best forward to get past anyone at all. Even a forward stuck playing defense alone. Completely tricking a defender pretty much doesn't happen. At best a forward can hope to get a few feet or a half second to shoot with, or get a passing lane.

The defense is more organised and more disciplined than ever. The players understand their job (in most situations) is to worry about the man they're guarding and not the puck (which is why it's so hard to get past a defender). They know in 2-on-1 rushes, they should guard the pass and let the goalie deal with the shot. But that rarely comes up -- there are only a handful of odd-man rushes per game now.

The offense knows it has to pass a lot to score. The star scorers -- the ones with a killer shot, great hands, maybe great speed, and the best chance to beat a defender -- are all star passers. Just as they can shoot at a tiny opening in the net, they've learned to pass through a tiny lane to give someone else a shot.

So, suppose you want a winning hockey team. The old approach was approximately to get some star players and watch them carry you. But this is less and less effective. Fewer goals are scored, and fewer of them from individual effort.

The best way to win now, is to be the most organised and disciplined team. To play as a team, and always make the smart play, and avoid breakdowns. You don't have to have a brilliant offense anymore. If your defense is solid enough, just a couple goals will win the game.

This doesn't mean a slow, boring style of play. Being cautious and solid is entirely different from slow. For example, the way to be cautious when you're the last guy back and you're taking a shot, is to shoot HARD. So even if the shot is blocked, the other team will have a hard time controlling it.

Lingering with the puck in your own end is dangerous, and shouldn't be overdone, and no one can keep the puck safely anywhere for too long without passing. But once you're at midice, low-percentage plays are perfectly acceptable as long as they're safe (don't do something risky if you're the last man back, or something that risks an odd-man rush). It is hard to score, so slim chances are worthwhile. Basically, get it out of your own end, then you can try whatever you want. So the game can and should still be fast-paced and aggressive; the defense just needs to be organised very quickly. In fact, in a fast game, which team really is better organised tends to show up more, because errors are more common.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Anti-semitism In Israel

I read a scary JPost article (do sign up, it's worthwhile).

Column one: Of intellectual bondage By CAROLINE GLICK

"How could you report the war in Iraq if you sided with the Americans?"

"How can you say that George Bush is better than Saddam Hussein?"

These are some of the milder questions I received from an audience of some 150 undergraduate students from Tel Aviv University's Political Science Department. The occasion was a guest lecture I gave last month on my experiences as an embedded reporter with the US Army's 3rd Infantry Division during the Iraq war.

Tel Aviv, if you didn't know, is one of Israel's major cities. Yes, that's right, these questions are coming out of Israel.

Many of the students were visibly jolted by my assertion that the patriotism of American soldiers was inspirational. The vocal ones among them were appalled when I argued that journalists must be able to make moral distinctions between good and evil, when such distinctions exist, if they wish to provide their readership with an accurate picture of the events they describe in their reports.

"Who are you to make moral judgments? What you say is good may well be bad for someone else."

"I am a sane human being capable of distinguishing good from evil, just like every other sane human being," I answered. "As criminal law states, you are criminally insane if you can't distinguish between good and evil. Unless you are crazy, you should be able to tell the difference."

I quoted that in full because Caroline is saying something important very eloquently here, using an argument I hadn't heard before.

"How can you support America when the US is a totalitarian state?" [asked a college girl with a heavy Russian accent]

"Did you learn that in Russia?" I asked.

"No, here," she said.

"Here at Tel Aviv University?"

"Yes, that is what my professors say," she said.

I don't know what to add yet. It speaks for itself, and I'm pretty speechless both.

The article goes on to mention that Western Universities are known for radical leftism, but she thought in Israel of all places it would be better, as all the students had served in the IDF (it's required by law -- apparently for girls too, though I hadn't known that).

It then complains about the influence of the radical left in the ranks of Professors.

It is an open secret that many of the most prominent Israeli academics and professors are also identified with the radical leftist fringes of the Israeli political spectrum.

And points out some Israeli Professors have signed petitions to boycott Israel (sheesh!). One Professor wrote a refusal to serve letter for some military people.

A year ago, I discussed the issue, as well as the rampant anti-Semitism on European campuses ,with the president of the University of Paris. He told me, 'What do you want from us? All we are doing is repeating what we hear from Israeli professors.'"

*gasp* *gulp*

[A survey] discovered that not only were the professors overwhelmingly self-identified with far left and Arab political parties, most also expressed absolute intolerance for the notion that professors with right-wing or even centrist views should be allowed to teach in their departments. "Over my dead body," said one.


A survey carried out by the left-wing Israel Democracy Institute on Israeli attitudes toward the state was published on Thursday in Haaretz. According to the findings, a mere 58% of Israelis are proud of being Israeli, while 97% of Americans and Poles are proud of their national identity.

Do go read the rest of the article; the whole thing is good.

OK one flaw in the analysis is that it overestimates the ability of teacher's to teach students. Few enough ever learn math, and most of those more in spite of their teachers than because. Why should it be different with politics?

I'm reminded of a southpark episode, where Kyle goes to Jewbilee, a camp for Jews. Rabbis from all the various sects of Judaism are present ... including one from the anti-semitic sect. He proceeds to try to summon a demon or something like that.

Oh well, I suppose all I have to say is that identifying problems is an important step towards solving them, and that I posted this because I want everyone to know about this problem.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

Human Nature

When people say "X is human nature" or "human nature makes people do X" they mean exactly the same thing as people who say "X is the way God made us."

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

The Concepts of Good and Evil are Comprehensible

I don't believe in Good and Evil, so unless you're willing to get real and talk about things that mean something to me, or at least define your terms in a way that makes sense to me, I won't know what on earth you think you're talking about.

Sound like a reasonable objection? At first glance it might. It seems to be asking me to speak more understandably using just words we both understand.

But hold up a moment. How does this similar objection sound?

I don't believe in God, so unless you're willing to get real and talk about things that mean something to me, or at least define your terms in a way that makes sense to me, I won't know what on earth you think you're talking about.

It's absurd, isn't it? I may be an atheist, but of course I can talk to theists, and understand much of what they say about God. I can even talk about God myself, and sometimes do. (I dare you to say, "Oh my God! You're such a hypocrite.)

And furthermore, suppose I had no notion what God meant, and couldn't understand anything to do with him. On what basis, then, could I assert that God did not exist? Don't I need to understand what God is to be sure he's not real?

Well, everything I've just said about God makes a perfect parallel for the Good and Evil case.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

heh heh

Israel's first Arab Cabinet minister convicted of corruption

A court on Monday convicted the first Arab to serve as an Israeli Cabinet minister on charges of trying to bribe an official to grant Israeli citizenship to a Palestinian businessman, a court official said.


[The businessman] had previously been refused citizenship because of a criminal record, the report said.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

*grinds teeth*

ok found an NY Times article. (i want to do more from major US media sources. and less with obviously biased URLs)

Israel Orders the Evacuation of Four Unauthorized Outposts

hum, they try to make the outposts sound bad, but umm since when is buying land and living there a crime? sigh

The Israeli government ordered the evacuation of four unauthorized Israeli outposts in the West Bank on Sunday, circumventing for the first time lengthy legal procedures that in the past have complicated government efforts to reverse the incremental spread of Jewish settlements.

I can't say I'm in love with the idea of tearing Israelis from their homes, but I know Israel does not take this step lightly, and cares more for peace and security than preventing a few injustices today.

But judging from the size of one of the outposts, on a hilltop near here, the move is mostly symbolic: the West Bat Ayin Maarav outpost consists of two steel shipping containers that local residents say have sat empty for years.

But of course no concessions are enough for the NY Times, which I believe insists on nothing less than a full evacuation of Israel.

Though Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's aides called the order signed on Sunday a historic move, there is little evidence yet that the government is committed to more than gradual steps in clearing the West Bank of the dozens of larger outposts that have sprung up on the sun-baked hilltops since Mr. Sharon came to power.

Amazing! Here Israel is kicking citizens out of their homes, and the NY Times takes this opportunity to blame settlements on Sharon and say he's not doing enough.

And should the government of Israel be "committed to more than gradual steps in clearing the West Back of [settlements]"? No! Phase one of the roadmap requires the Palestinians to oppose terrorism. When they won't do that, Israel shouldn't be committed to doing it's reciprocal bits. Rather, Israel should be willing if the roadmap can progress, but otherwise shouldn't make concessions.

Many people in Israel took the latest order as evidence that the government had decided for now not to touch larger, more heavily populated outposts like Bat Ayin Maarav or the even larger Migron, home to 150-odd settlers north of Jerusalem.

Any attempt to raze such established communities would trigger a coordinated, possibly violent response from the highly politicized, well-organized settlers and further polarize Israel's already faction-ridden society.

My fucking God. Yeah, taking small steps proves they aren't willing to take big ones. *cough* And remember they have no reason to take big steps along these lines until the Palestinians oppose terrorism.

Then they have the nerve to allege the Israeli settlers are a murderous bunch.

The article then goes on for three more paragraphs to say Israelis actions were insignificant, and generally poo poo them.

But Mr. Sharon's office defended the move as a step toward fulfilling the government's commitment under the American-supported peace plan known as the road map, which has been stalled since earlier this year. Washington has pressed Mr. Sharon to follow through on its commitments under the plan, which includes removing dozens of unauthorized outposts.

Erm, not quite. Phase one requires the Palestinians to oppose terrorism. Get it? It's not that compliated. PHASE ONE SAYS STOP TRYING TO KILL JEWS. if they won't do that, they shouldn't get a bloody thing, and aren't entitled to anything from the roadmap.

and notice how the articles goes:

1) israel did something to help the roadmap along, but not enough
2) israel is obligated to do stuff for the roadmap, and this little step is along those lines, but definitely not enough
3) the roadmap has been stalled for a while.


Since agreeing to the peace plan in June, Mr. Sharon has dismantled more than 20 outposts, according to Peace Now, an anti-settlement organization that monitors developments in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. But almost all of those outposts were uninhabited, and only a few were of significant size. Peace Now says there are still at more than 50 inhabited outposts slated for immediate removal under the peace plan. The government says there are 40.

They always do this. they find some organisation saying something, say it, then cite the Israeli Government contradicting it, and don't support the Israeli government's contradiction in any way. why? to make the Government of Israel look like a bunch of habitual liars.

and, btw, 20 outposts dismantled? sounds to me like israel is taking concrete steps, even though the palestinians haven't done their part. sheesh.

Still, critics say the government could have picked more significant outposts if it was serious about rolling back the settlements to their pre-Sharon configuration as demanded by the peace plan.

sigh. on and on the whining goes. you almost get the impression the NY Times thinks Israel is the bad guy here.

the article goes on for 5 more paragraphs, and it's just more of the same. weeeeeeee

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

i don't like to eat when i'm full

who came up with the idea that we need to force young children to eat more? how can something so idiotic be the cause of constant struggles and strife in families? sheesh

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (8)

Please Read This

This is from MEMRI, an organisation that translates Arabic news and sermons into English. It really helps illuminate who we are fighting and why. If you read it, you'll hear Palestinian Khatibs (preachers) who are paid by the Palestinian Authority (PA) give sermons on PA TV, from PA controlled mosques, looking for the destruction of the USA, and Israel, and Britain.

They call us crusaders and want us dead. Get it?

update: link moved here.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

title...title...title...dunno... Yet Another Israel Entry

Found an article. from Christian Science Monitor.

Amid new peace bids, Israel stays tough

Well, the title is clearly intended to make Israel sound bad. Forgive me if I'm skeptical.

Israel has announced a new $56-million program to double the number of settlers in the Golan Heights.

Later it says Israel annexed the Goaln Heights in 1981. That means the Golan Heights is part of Israel. And it's not West Bank or Gaza, so has nothing to do with roadmap agreement against settlements. Hell, even calling these "settlements" seems a bit biased. Why not call new houses in Tel Aviv settlements?

Whether it was a message to Syria alone, or to the Arab world as a whole, it was not intended to be subtle.

They're implying that Israel is giving the finger to the Arab world. By ... building some houses and living in them. I mean, I guess I understand many Arabs are opposed to live Jews, but is the Christian Science Monitor? sheesh

Just weeks after Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad called for an unconditional resumption of peace talks with Israel, Israel has responded with plans for its biggest settlement drive ever in the occupied Golan Heights.

Yeah, that's it, the Syrians are peace-loving but the damn Jews just insist on conflict. Their way of insisting on conflict is to respond to peace negotations by building houses. I suppose if Israel were truly commited to peace, that money would have been redirected away from houses and into birth control. *cough*

"The idea is that Assad will see from his own window the Israeli Golan Heights thriving and flowering," said Yisrael Katz,

Right. Jews thriving and flowering IS OFFENSIVE TO SYRIA.

The rebuff to Syria, the ruling out of new negotiating concessions in the West Bank, and official statements point up that despite Israel's strategic bonanza from the United States occupation of Iraq, and resulting winds of change in the region, Israel is adhering to a view of itself as surrounded by a threatening environment. And it remains averse to ceding land.

Israel should make or considering making concessions to Syria about the West Bank why?

Israel isn't threatened by people who find new Jesish houses offensive?

And Israel remains averse to ceding land? Since when? Ever heard of Oslo? Israel has offered up land over and over. And if Israel was averse to ceding land, where would the borders be? Instead of little buffer zones, Israel would have kept all land it captured anywhere ever.

Critics say the posture is misguided, and potentially perilous.

And Hamas says the Jews should all die. But news agencies shouldn't just be proxy Hamas spokesmen. Nor should they repeat lame criticism from anonymous sources that they're too craven to say themselves.

How come articles never read, "Anonymous Sharon supporters say the posture is well thought out and moral."?

"There is no real enemy anymore, but unfortunately the strategic thinking has not changed," says Tel Aviv University political scientist Reuven Pedhazur.

Notice how a Professor from Tel Aviv is anti-Israel.

If anything, Israel today faces a greater "existential threat" than ever before, according to Mossad chief Meir Dagan, because Iran, he said recently, is close to "the point of no return" in developing nuclear arms.

Dore Gold, an adviser to Sharon, says Israel is not interested in Assad's statements but rather in Syria acting against the Lebanese Hizbullah organization and shut down radical Palestinian groups in its territory.

Damn straight.

Anyhow, before I close I just want to point out: Why would Israel want to keep the Golan Heights away from Syria? Maybe cause they are a high place perfect for shelling part of Israel from. Combine that with the fact that Syria sponsers terrorism...

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

NY Times Worse Than I Thought

Maybe I'm naive, but I really wasn't expecting the NY Times to be this bad.

I'm going to try out a new approach. I will just give quotes, and bold key bits, and let them tell the story. Try reading through only the bold bits. I'm going to keep more than the key bits for context though. I also use italics once to point out a lie (yes, to point out the lie, all I have to do is highlight part of their own article). UPDATE: sigh, not a lie. just enough of a trick to fool me. I thought they'd said Israel used live ammo in that specific incident, but they hadn't. they just slyly insinuated it. damn them.

oh btw, amusingly, i spell-checked and the only error was in one of the NY Times quotes (they spelled occurence wrong).

Israel plans a major expansion of Jewish settlements in the Golan Heights, the government confirmed Wednesday. The announcement angered Syria, from which Israel seized the territory in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.
The plan, approved two weeks ago, comes just two months after the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, called for renewed peace talks between his country and Israel.
[Israeli] Government officials said the expansion plan had been in the works for months and denied that its approval was intended as a response to Mr. Assad's vague proposal
But the Israeli agriculture minister, Yisrael Katz, who heads the government's settlement committee, told Israeli radio and television on Wednesday that the plan was meant to send Mr. Assad the message that "the Golan is an inseparable part of the State of Israel, and we have no intention to give up our hold."
In October Israel attacked what it described as a terrorist training camp in Syria.
The new settlers would increase the number of Israelis in the thinly populated highland by about a quarter.
The plan drew a quick and angry response from Damascus, where the official Syrian Arab News Agency quoted a government spokesman as saying the [Israeli] move would "block the way to any inclination or initiative to push matters in the direction of achieving a just and comprehensive peace in the region."
In France, a Foreign Ministry spokesman urged Israel not to implement [Israel's] plan, saying it could compromise the search for peace.
Revelation of the plan comes when Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's government is already under pressure to curb Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, two other territories occupied by Israel in 1967. Government figures show that the number of settlers in those regions has continued to grow during the nearly three years that Mr. Sharon has been prime minister.
Mr. Sharon, a longtime advocate of the settlements, has accepted an American-backed peace plan that calls for the removal of unauthorized Jewish outposts in Palestinian territory, but [Sharon] has been slow to act on that commitment.
Most recently, he has suggested that Israel may seal itself off from the Palestinian territories with a barrier it is building and [Israel may] disengage from the peace process until the Palestinian authorities can exert better control over their people.
Mr. Sharon has responded coolly to Mr. Assad's suggestions about talks, saying only that they would have to begin from scratch rather than picking up where negotiations left off three years ago, as Mr. Assad said he would like.
The issue of the barrier arose again in Israel on Wednesday, when [Israeli] troops shot and wounded 10 Palestinians and an Israeli who were demonstrating against the concrete and chain-link fence. Last week troops wounded an Israeli protester in an incident that roused a national debate about the [Israeli] military's use of live ammunition against unarmed civilians, an almost daily occurrance against Palestinians.
The army used tear gas and rubber bullets in Wednesday's action.
Israeli military officials have said the [Israeli] army is considering changing its rules of engagement as a result of last week's incident.
Also on Wednesday, the army said it had arrested an Israeli soldier in the shooting of an unarmed British peace activist on April 11 in the Gaza Strip. The Briton, Tom Hurndall, was shot in the head [by Israel] when he went to the aid of some Palestinian children. He was pronounced brain dead and is now in a London hospital.
Mr. Hurndall is one of several members of the International Solidarity Movement who have been killed or wounded while trying to protect Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. In March, an army bulldozer crushed to death a 23-year-old American member of the group, Rachel Corrie.
The army took no disciplinary action in that case, though, like Mr. Hurndall, Ms. Corrie wore a fluorescent orange vest to identify herself as a member of the group.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

The Whole World Is Insane (ok minus four-ish countries)

this is entirely unremarkable. it's easy to find dozens like it. meanwhile there's kind of a lack of non-insane articles. weeeeeee.

Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat lights a makeshift torch to mark the 39th anniversary of the Fatah movement at his compound in the West Bank city of Ramallah, December 31, 2003. Arafat charged in a speech on the occasion that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did not want to achieve peace. AFP

yeah, the anniversary of the Fatah movement is a good time to say *other people* are opposed to peace. *cough*

if you know nothing about Fatah, the short summary is: they are terrorists.

the other summary is: google will easily find you plenty about them, like this about them trying to blow up a Jewish holy site, and bitching (the article, not Fatah) about how The World (not Setting The World To Rights, but rather the set of all countries) doesn't care.

here's more info. it seems to think that since Yasser Arafat renounced terrorism *cough* Fatah's been clean, at least "officially" whatever that means. weird.

The Palestinians and Syria on Wednesday accused Israel of turning its back on peace after it tried to assassinate a top Hamas militant in Gaza and moved ahead with plans to build hundreds of new homes in the occupied Golan Heights.

killing terrorists = turning back on peace. therefore peace = terrorists operating in peace, i guess. *cough*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


ever hear Israelis use 6 times as much water per person as Palestinians?

ever hear Israel is stealing Palestinian water?

ever hear Israel is wasteful of water and greedy?

ever hear Israel violates international law with its water policies?

ever just wonder about Israel and water?

if so, this'll set you straight

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

i wrote a story; be impressed

once upon a time there was a physicist and a lion.

the lion said to the physicist: I'm going to eat you.
the physicist said: Have you ever heard a fable about fishing?
the lion said no.
the physicist said: i wish i hadn't been so focussed on physics. i don't know it either.

then the lion ate the physicist.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

amusing is one of my favorite words

off west wing (which is good).

so this guy lives by the river. and he's highly religious. anyway, he here's a radio report that the river is gonna flood, so he should leave. but he says he's a religious man, who loves God, and prays, and stuffz, so God will save him, and he stays.

so the river starts flooding. the town is being filled with water. and this boat comes by, and they guys yell at him to get in the boat, and they will rescue him from the flood. but he says no, he has faith in God, so he doesn't need their help. and he stays.

later he's on the roof of his house, cause the water is that high, and a helicopter comes, and throws him a rope ladder, and yell at him to climb it. but he says no he is a religious man, who does as God asks him, loves God, and prays, so God will save him, and he stays.

so then he drowns and goes to heaven. and at the gates, he demands an audience with God. and he asks God, "I'm a good man, I did all the things you asked of men, I loved you and prayed to you, why didn't you save me?"

God says, "I sent you a radio report, a boat, and a helicopter. What the fuck are you doing here?"

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

man i'm glad i voted for the BBC

just read this article. sheesh.

ok the message, near as i can tell is:

some palestinians were shot. israel says its soldiers were defending themselves. the palestinians say it was murder.

the BBC has no evidence except the word of some palestinians, but it's convinced israel is lying.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

guess what this post is about


The New Year, and the good resolutions that go with it, make most people's thoughts turn to peace and friendship. But not in the case of Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon.

heh. not bad on the rhetoric scale.

His latest policy speech shows that he has every intention of continuing with his hardline approach towards the Palestinians despite advice to the contrary from key ally, America .

heh. invoking the US against Israel. yeah, we really hate Israel. you can tell b/c pro-palestinian ppl like to complain: A) 87.4335% of the US foreign aid budget goes to israel. B) the US is controlled by j00000s C) the US only likes Israel because Sharon and Bush are lovers. notice how (C) admits the US likes Israel.

Many in Israel now realise that Mr Sharon's harsh policies have only made Israel more vulnerable to suicide bombings and other terrorist acts. The situation in Iraq too will have a bearing on Israel-Palestine relations.

no bias here. move along. he's not saying the jews bring their deaths upon themselves. nothing of the sort.

The inglorious capture of Saddam Hussein, who has been a strong advocate of the Palestinian cause, has generated yet more anger and resentment in the West Bank and Gaza .

with friends like that...

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)


so watcha up2 elliot?

well, i'm glad you asked! you see, mostly i'm working on a Warcraft 3: The Frozen Throne map. and i needed an excuse to plug THE BEST GAME EVER.

what's a map?

anything with "USA" in large letters in the middle.

oh, wait, that was terrible. anyhow, to play warcraft you need the game and also a map. it loads the map, and then what happens depends what the map says. of course the game comes with a bunch of maps. but you can make or download more too.

the main elements of a map are: terrain (like basic landforms). doodads (like decorations). units. a map script (think programming telling it what to do).

also war3 is fully 3D and you can put cameras anywhere, and play pretty movies. and you can put sounds in a map.

ok but you still don't really know what a game is like. cause my description of a map is too general. but, that's part of the magic. maps are such a general construct that you can make drastically different types! some of the main types of maps are:

Standard maps -- these maps have no special programming and let you play the game the official way. you start with a town hall and 5 workers, and harvest gold and wood and use it to build more buildings and purchase units (from your buildings) and fight your opponent. this is similar to warcraft 2, starcraft, command and conquer, age of empires, etc (war2 and starcraft actually had custom map editors too. no idea if CandC or AoE did)

gonna take timeout to mention one cool war3 feature: hero units. they get xp, can carry 6 items, and get 4 spells which they level up as they gain levels. they have 3 ability stats.

RPG maps -- the basic idea is you get to control a custom-modified hero, and so do a few or your friends, and you go around killing pre-placed monsters. possible there is a plot with cut-scenes. there's probably a town (or a few) where you can get supplies and heal.

Open RPGs -- either some game masters use special commands to drop monsters then other ppl fight them, or everyone can use special commands and you're supposed to set stuff up then make your own heroes to fight it. i think they're kinda a bad idea, and it'd be better to just make a map with stuff on it. b/c to get a good map you need to balance test, not fight what took you 10 minutes to place.

cinema maps -- just sit back and watch a movie. :-)

tower defenses -- waves of monsters try to get past you. build towers (which can attack but not move) to stop them. sounds simple but can be quite complex.

aos maps -- the name is just the abbreviation of the name of the poster map of this type (Aeon of Strife). anyway, there are 2 computer-controlled towns that constant spawn waves of monsters and send them against each other. both sides are equally powerful and cancel out. players each get a hero and try to turn the tide of battle. there are also 3-way versions.

vampire hunters -- really there's only one map of this type, but it's awesome. the vampire team wins be destroying the main human city in the middle of the map within 7 days. the human team (hunters) wins by defending that long or by killing the vampires often enough. every player has a hero. to aid them, vampires can collect souls from villagers around the map. hunters try to chase them off and save the villages. vampires have a free teleporter system to get to any corner of the map from any other corner. hunters can only teleport from anywhere to the middle, and that costs them money.

single player campaign -- the game comes with some single player maps that are kinda a mix btwn standard and rpg elements. they're well done.

hero arenas -- fight it out! i think they're dumb.

micro wars -- do you have the skill to beat someone fighting a small num of units vs a small num of units? even if they're the exact same units? it's amazing to see even with the exact same units, the guy with better strategy can win often with half his guys alive.

anyway, my map is an RPG, with custom scripted spells (when certain spells are cast, i programmed it to add certain extra effects), and cinemas, and pretty terrain, and a kinda lame plot, but lots of subquests anyway.

oh and i forgot the best part! battle.net! blizzard's *free* online game servers. all you need is an internet connection and you have access to many thousands of war3 players to play with. if you make a crappy map and host a game, you'll probably get joiners immediately. i certain have no trouble finding ppl to beta test my map. the wait time for ladder (standard games for a ranking system based on how much you win/lose) is like 30 seconds.

also good about battle.net is you could play with *me*! think about it :-)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Conscription And Indoctrination Are Both Bad, But Not Equally

Apparently Palestinians are good at something ... brainwashing their children.

Israel is good at something too. It managed not to jail any concientous objectors since 1980 until yesterday despite the fact the law requires everyone to serve. Of course the media seems more interested in calling Israel fascist. Ho hum.

I do, by the way, oppose conscription. It should be phased out. If that left the IDF understaffed, then the IDF should be paid more in terms of money, honour, working conditions, etc. If that's hard to pay for, then they have too many social programs :-)

Having anti-Israel cranks in the IDF doesn't help anyone.

Loads more about Israel here

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Relationships Alone Do Not Create Obligations

Premise: Jack and Jill have a relationship.

Challenge: Name one obligation Jack has to Jill.

The point is that I have thus proven relationships, in and of themselves, do not create or entail obligations.

Note: "to act rightly towards Jill" does not count, because all people should act rightly towards all people already.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (14)

not posting much cause obsessed with my buggy warcraft map

Not Real Life: Israelis have dismissed Palestine's latest list of zero terrorist groups to be dismantled under the roadmap as inadequate and deceptive.

Real life: Palestinians have dismissed Israel’s latest list of 28 settlement outposts to be dismantled under a peace plan as inadequate and deceptive.

The world is strange.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

i'm amused

For myself, calling someone irrational is irrational.

If i call you irrational, would you say we're both irrational, or just me?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

i took the time to post; you should be thanking me


Two leading Israeli cabinet ministers have said Israel should resume peace negotiations with Syria.

Really? Do they? I thought Sharon was opposed to the thing, so that's a bit odd.

Former Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Oh. The BBC is lying again. "leading cabinet minsters"!? yeah, and Jimmy Carter is a leading US President.

update: fuck. apparently he's a former something *and* a current something. but still, he's not a leading part of sharon's government. israel has a proportional representation system. so sharon is in charge, but there are ppl in government from the other parties too. this is like finding a democrat who'll say bush sucks, and calling that news. and then saying the democrat was a leading part of bush's government b/c he was in congress or something. ok actually i'm told guy is from same party as sharon, but opposite faction. so it's like finding Tracy (a libertarian i know) and getting him to criticise me. (sorry, that's only amusing if u know tracy)

oh, and before i go on, there's a nice picture of a BULLDOZER with a caption saying Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in 1967. From the picture, you'd think Israel just built stuff there and took it, and maybe knocked down the homes of the peace-loving Syrians who lived there. did the BBC forget about the six days WAR? fought not with bulldozers, but with bullets. i know they both start with 'bull', but they really are different things.

[Successful peace talks with Syria] would mean Israel withdrawing from nearly all of the Golan Heights, which were captured from Syria in 1967.


fuck you BBC

The Defence Minister Shaul Mofaz, for example, has said publicly that he does not think Syria is serious, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has shown little interest in the proposal so far.

Mr Mofaz wants the Syrians to end support for radical Palestinians and for the militant group Hezbollah, before Israel thinks about resuming negotiations.

Amazing how all the people "totally serious about peace with Israel" want concessions before they give even their word to fight anti-Jew terrorism.

There have also been contacts between Israeli and Libyan officials in recent weeks, but both sides have been alarmed that news of the meetings leaked out.

heh heh. well thanks for telling me. *sweatdrop*

PS West Wing rocks

PPS go read IMAO

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

programmers only

Here's an example of terrible structure, but fine denotation:

global int i, j;
for(j=0; j < 10; j++)
    i = j;
    for(j=0; < 10; j++)
        print( my_array[i][j] )
    j = i;

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

hex editors

So i needed a hex editor. (for war3 modding stuffz) (modding is modifying). but i didn't know that. see, someone had the bright idea of naming it a hex editor. hex means six. hex editors, i knew, had something to do with hexidecimal (base 16). i wanted to edit raw data. ya know, 1s and 0s. aka binary, not hex.

once you use one, the name does make sense. 1s and 0s are generally arranged into blocks of 8 with 256 possible values. you can write 256 possible values in 2 digits of hexidecimal. so displaying binary files in hex makes sense (they show the binary versions too) (and the ASCII aka text version too) (and various other versions like what integer the selected bit would be, if it was representing an integer).

anyway, hex editors are cool. cause now i can, for example, open a war3map.w3e file and find the integer near the start saying how many tiles the map has (which is written as a string of 32 1s and 0s), and change it to 16 (well, the 1s and 0s that mean 16). this could not be done with a text editor. this means i can do something really important to my map without using someone else's buggy program that i'm very afraid might break other stuff.

oh hey, wanna see specs on war3 files? no? well, here they are.

PS there's quite a lack of ez to find hex tutorials on google. feh

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

good info (amateur level)


have i ever mentioned my knowledge of programming has random gaps that are sometimes a bitch to fill in? most of the day stuff that looked like 0x0400 or 0xA447F was being really confusing. wtf is that!? yes i can see the second half looks like hex, but it still appears kinda random. well turns out 0x is a special code in C that means the numbers after it are in hexidecimal. that's it. so those are really saying HEX0040 and HEXA447F. oh. and now it makes perfect sense.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Israel Is Interesting

The BBC writes

[Sharon] said he believed Syria was still helping agents of the Lebanese group, Hezbollah, which is accused of involvement in attacks on Israel.

Just accused? Not blatantly guilty? Of "attacks on Israel"? Are you sure Sharon didn't accuse them of being filthy, murdering terrorist scum?

"Israel is ready and willing to negotiate once Syria stops its help to terror," [Sharon] said.

I'm sure Sharon said 'attack on Israel' the first time and changed his language later, though. The BBC wouldn't tamper with something as important as that, because doing so would be wrong.

Anyway, moving on: Qassam rocket lands in Israel, close to border with Gaza

A Qassam rocket fired from the Gaza Strip landed inside Israel on Monday, in a community close to the Israel-Gaza border.

Of course, if they had their own state, unpoliced by the IDF, they'd never shoot rockets, and Israel would be safe. But Sharon doesn't want that; he needs rockets to be fired at Israel so he can have a good career, since he's a military kinda guy, and they do well during war time. *sweatdrop*

Earlier Monday, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on an Israel Defense Forces outpost, close to the Israel-Egypt border, Israel Radio reported. The were no injuries in the incident.

On the upside their aim is as bad as ever. On the downside they're still alive.

On Sunday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in the northern West Bank, causing no other injuries. In a separate incident, an 18-year-old Palestinian was killed Sunday by Israel Defense Forces soldiers.

The bomber blew himself up because he was caught well before getting there. The other one was shot because he was gonna throw a Molotov cocktail at IDF soldiers while he was part of a clash with the IDF by Palestinian villagers (wtf? They can screw with the IDF and not be massacred? That's not what the BBC would have me think.)

Moving on. The Biased Media would have me think Israel is divided on the issue of peace talks with Syria between those who want peace, and a few nuts in charge who like blood. But listen to one of the actual arguments against Sharon's stance:

Justice Minister Yosef Lapid said that Israel is creating for itself the image of a nation that refuses to make peace.

"Once again we are in danger of losing the battle for world public opinion, because the impression is created that we are trying to avoid negotiating with the Syrians," he said. "The government should announce unequivocally that it is in favor of peace negotiations, and afterward say it is conditional on Syria ending its support for terrorism."

So apparently there is reasoned debate going on. Surprise, surprise. I guess the media and self-proclaimed leftie intellectuals don't have a monopoly on thinking after all.

Notice also how the disagreement here isn't all that devisive, and is not over what the BBC says it's over. The BBC keeps trying to play it as a conflict between Sharon's crazy view and people who say "no no, peace instead". But, duh, Sharon wants peace. He just doesn't want to be played for a fool while Syria uses the talks as diplomatic cover for terrorist activities. (e.g. "Syria's not evil, or illegitimate, it's talking with Israel even as we speak.")

And the opposition (by reasonable people; of course there is some nuts opposition too) isn't that Sharon is wrong per se, but merely that his approach isn't ideal for PR, and he should change his emphasis slightly while keeping the same basic stance.

I still agree with Sharon.

"Just as we demand that the Palestinians dismantle terrorism before beginning diplomatic negotiations, that is also the situation with Syria," [Sharon] said. "Notwithstanding our strong desire for peace, this is an interest we will defend."

Sharon said that while it is clear that Israel is interested in peace with Syria, "as the head of military intelligence answered me last week, we need to remember that Syria still supports terrorism against Israel."

I bet the BBC has better sources on the Syrian terrorism issue than Israeli military intelligence though. LOL

PS this is interesting: Will Israel Become an Arab State?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

format shmormat

curi42 (2:42:51 PM): this senator wants ammendment to give $47mil to fight autism. he starts giving reasons fighting autism is important. ur josh listening. imagine agreeing was politically ok (happens to not be ok to have more ammendments on bill, but forget taht)
curi42 (2:43:22 PM): ok fighting autism is good. but should the money go to that, or to something else that's also good? how could josh tell? HE COULDN"T!
curi42 (2:44:03 PM): this is why government taking everyone's money into a big pool then trying to divy it up for everything is a bad idea. he doesn't have the information for where it should go, and there's no easy or good way to get it in that system.
curi42 (2:45:16 PM): whereas if the ppl kept their money this problem wouldn't exist. they'd do stuff they knew about, comparing only the things they know about. and overall it'd avg out just fine. (or sometimes there'd be common misconceptions and it wouldn't; but messing up common misconceptions beats messing up all of josh's)

curi42 (2:48:46 PM): it just struck me when the guy was trying to sell josh on the idea that ppl argue "u should spend money on my cause b/c my cause is good" whihc *completely misses the point*
curi42 (2:48:53 PM): there are lots of good things.
AnonymousPerson (2:51:23 PM): Like with the risk thingy, before i let Josh decide a thing like how much money autism research should get, I want him to tell me, within two orders of magnitude, how many ball bearings are needed this year.

curi42 (2:57:21 PM): turns out he was asking b/c he had an autistic grandson
curi42 (2:57:31 PM): now *that's* a good way to decide where to spend money
curi42 (2:58:29 PM): there are things where you want a unified policy. but choosing btwn autism research and cancer research isn't one. everyone should go their own way on those, so we'll get some of each.
curi42 (3:02:39 PM): nooooooooooooooooooooooooo wtf
curi42 (3:03:24 PM): ok the guy is doing fillibuster and gonna drop soon but screwing them up. but they realise he can safely yield floor for a question and still get it back.
curi42 (3:03:45 PM): so i figure they will ask "is it true you're only doing this b/c u have a grandson with autism?" or something to embarass him to shut him up
curi42 (3:04:27 PM): instead the question is 22 parts (and from a grandfather) so he can rest, then other ppl ask questions. they decided b/c he was doing it for grandson that they should help him.
curi42 (3:04:37 PM): do leftists really think that's being humane, and i'm an evil bastard?
curi42 (3:04:43 PM): cause if so, they should be shot :)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

my logical conclusions

IMAO who is usually right and often very funny, writes:

As Opinion Journal pointed out, this poll shows that the average Republican knows more about the Democrat presidential nominees than the average Democrat, even though there ain't a way in God's name we'd ever vote for them. And I remember seeing some article arguing that we're the party of the dumb. It's a fact that, if someone closely follows politics, odds are he or she is a Republican. Draw your own logical conclusion from that.

well, sorry, but the implied argument is not valid.

the implied argument is that paying attention to politics causes people to be Republican, and that we know this because the poll correlated paying attention to politics with being a Republican (and i expect other polls have too).

BTW I happen to think the conclusion is true: I do think paying attention causes people to become Republican. I just don't think we can say this is true *because* of the poll.

the problem is CORRELATION DOES NOT IMPLY CAUSATION (which i've never ever once had someone even try to disagree with). see, from the poll all we get is correlation. the causation could be something else entirely besides the one IMAO picked. like maybe something about being a Republican in the first place makes you more inclined to watch the news. or maybe Republicans tend to go to Church more, and Churches tend to promote political thinking (erm, maybe not that one). or maybe religious people care more. or it could be any cause, for all the poll tells us.


A) Frank J visited *my blog* (see comments). i belive that makes my blog famous by association, so you should visit more often now, and make your friends visit, and stuff.

B) Frank did not intend the argument I said he implied. My apologies for the error. I think he could have been clearer, but he's right that he didn't actually say anything wrong, I just falsely assumed he meant something bad.

C) I'll leave this up because other, lesser people than Frank J might argue that way on purpose (maybe a liberal) so the correction would be important then.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)

aim rocks

Camille (1:54:54 PM): I happen to enjoy physical comedy
curi42 (1:55:49 PM): so if i kick you, you'll laugh?
Camille (1:56:07 PM): only after I kick you back
curi42 (1:56:14 PM): LOL

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

damn title field

curi42 (2:24:59 PM): boredom is when a cow eats your keyboard
Anonymous (2:27:17 PM): Then don't have a cow, man.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (10)

neat cs trick

found here

u might not follow that explanation though, so i'll write it simpler:

computer data is often stored in arrays (basically a bunch of stuff in a row). arrays have a fixed size in memory. sometimes they get full. the basic solution is you make a new, larger array, and copy all the old data into it.

in comp sci classes they generally teach (or maybe only used to, dunno) that you should make the new array double the size of the old. you want to try not to waste too much memory by making it bigger than needed, but also increase the size enough not to have to do this very often, because copying over all the data is expensive.

anyhow, if your array takes up 1 unit of memory, and you double, the new one takes 2 units of memory, with a gap of 1 empty unit behind you. next doubling, your array takes 4 with a gap of 3. then takes 8 with a gap of 7.

see the problem? the array never fits into the gap.

if you increase the array by a factor of 1.5 instead, it will fit into the gap.

actually works pretty fast. 1.5 with 1 gap. then 2.5 gap and array is 1.5*1.5=2.25 ... already fits.

anyway, it's a neat improvement.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)

BBC Nonsense

they'll just randomly report that the 2nd law of thermodynamics is wrong with no apparent case.

FYI microscopic laws being 'time reversible' means that a movie of the events played backwards does not violate the microscopic laws. (the article uses the term but doesn't say what it means)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

The Jacksonian Tradition is Largely Good

This is a very good essay about the Jacksonian tradition in the USA.

Although on the whole it's good, it does have an error I'd like to complain about. Basically the author doesn't understand libertarianism. So he writes:

Jacksonians are civil libertarians

But Jacksonians are not civil libertarians, unless libertarians suddenly took a liking to MEDICARE and no one told me...

Suspicious of untrammeled federal power (Waco), skeptical about the prospects for domestic and foreign do-gooding (welfare at home, foreign aid abroad), opposed to federal taxes but obstinately fond of federal programs seen as primarily helping the middle class (Social Security and Medicare, mortgage interest subsidies), Jacksonians constitute a large political interest.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (7)

Hockey Is Great

so guess what i did on saturday? that's right! i watched ice hockey on tivo (TV with fastforwarded commercials). san jose sharks vs colorado avalanche (i live near san jose, FYI).

anyway, to understand the avalanche, try this statement, "their whole entire team is made up of stars." it sounds odd at first. but they have far more stars than any other team. maybe not actually 4 offensive lines full, but more than 2 (you get 20 players per game, usually 4 groups of 3 forwards, 3 groups of 2 defenders, and 2 goalies. the groups are called lines.) (and if your coach likes, you can keep the 4th line almost entirely off the ice)

colorado simply has significantly more individual skill than any other team out there. btw for this game colorado was missing it's best player, but the sharks were missing three(!). (top scorer, a second center forward, and a defender)

when you watch the game, you can see the insane skill by colorado players. they get the advantage in most 1 on 1 skirmishes. they make space for themselves in the offensive zone sooooo well. they all shoot like gods. they're fast and deadly on a breakaway. etc etc

the sharks are fast too, but honestly most of their team does not have a brilliant shot. sure they can shoot it hard at the net, and pretty much anyone in the NHL can hit the corners if there's no one in the way, but they aren't nearly as dangerous as the colorado players. if a colorado guy gets a few moments alone with the puck in the offensive zone, you're in big trouble. if it's near the net, expect a goal. most shark players will do something useful, but...

most of the shark offensive players won't even try to screw around by themselves. they usually don't make space, they just pass it off to someone else.

hum, digression. if you skate fast, the defender will back up quickly (hockey players skate backwards almost as fast as they skate forwards). if you try to go past him, he will get in front of you but to the center of the ice, and push you to the outside away from the goal. if you stop, he'll stop, and then he'll come forward into you. but you have a few moments after you stop before he can get to you, which is space. the other main way to get space is to pass it, move away from your defender, then get it passed back to you. but there's another way, and it's called insane individual skill. if you can threaten to skate somewhere important enough, the defender will have to worry about that, and you can get some space elsewhere. if you're good enough with the puck, and fast enough, you can try to avoid the defender when he comes for you, and get away (it's generally hard to skate near someone and keep the puck on your stick, cause they just hit your stick with theirs, and off it goes. you have to dodge their stick with not just the puck, but also your stick. this usually requires letting the puck off your stick a while, but then you have to worry about it hitting a skate, getting away from you, or you not being able to chase after it b/c the defender runs into you)

so what advantages did the sharks have? well, their goalie was totally Player of the Game (the backup goalie played, too! sharks have the best goalie coach around, and ended up with lots of top quality goalies (they traded some off too)) and the sharks were a bit more unified as a team, especially on defense. ok sure the avalanche could make space, pass all around the shark's zone, and score if they got a moment alone in front of the net. but they never got a moment alone anywhere. ever. there was no missed coverage (there were, *ahem*, a pair of 2-on-1 breaks though).

in a 2-on-1 the defender guards the pass, and the goalie deals with the shot. so our goalie rocked them, and that was that :-)

so anyhow, it's great fun to watch all these super skilled players going around, with the amazing ability to keep the puck for long periods of time even in the offensive zone, but everywhere they go, a shark follows, maybe not quick enough to steal the puck or even check the guy (run into him and knock him away from puck, or at least stop him from skating around by pinning him to the boards (edge of rink)). and eventually our teamwork would keep them from getting anything too dangerous, and we'd get the puck.

the avalanche scored once. a defender shot it from far away, and there were a bunch of guys in front of our goalie, so he never saw the shot coming. the sharks scored twice, both times off turnovers by the avalanche in their defensive zone (the sharks didn't do that). and that was that.

update: here is a game summary

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


Stereotypes never fit anyone perfectly. So using them for interactions will cause subtle errors. But in close relationships ... the closer a relationship is, the smaller the errors that are tolerated. So in a sufficiently close relationship, those 'subtle errors' will seem large and intolerable (and 'subtle' will take on a new meaning, which we might have called 'minute' before). Therefore we should avoid stereotypes in close relationships.

By the way, not using stereotypes, when you don't know someone well, is bound to create errors too, because you don't know the person well enough to act error-freely towards him. In this sort of situation, stereotyping can be considered an error reduction strategy! (Of course the stereotypes must always be held tentatively.)

This logic works in close relationships too. We don't know people perfectly, so there will be error. Why, then, are stereotypes bad in close relationships? Well if there were literally 2 billion of them, with slightly different shades of meaning, and we used those, it might be ok even in very close relationships (but there would be a point at which 2 billion was too few). But as it is, we only have fairly general stereotypes, which will cause a high error rate in close relationships where people ought to know more detail than that.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

The Washington Post Sucks

The Washington Post thinks that:

And that brings him back to Wolfowitz and his neoconservative allies as the root of the problem. "I don't know where the neocons came from -- that wasn't the platform they ran on," he says. "Somehow, the neocons captured the president. They captured the vice president."

The j0000000s jumped out of the shadows and planted a mindcontrol device on Bush. And Cheney too. ho hum

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

mmmm movies

curi42 (5:02:35 PM): we put mail outside, and leave it there for hours. and no one steals it. not even if it's bright red and says NETFLIX on it.
WotyFree (5:02:52 PM): that's cool
curi42 (5:02:56 PM): yeah

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)


I just beat Exile: Escape From The Pit (Mac Version | PC Version)

There are three ways to win, actually. I finished all of them today. I'm proud. :-)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

*bites tongue*

Israel, (a theocracy), in a confusing move, has dismantled a synagogue. Military analysts are theorising that Sharon was drunk and hit the wrong button when inputting what he wanted destroyed. Probably Tapuah West synagogue was right next to The West Bank.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


The Daily Star claims to be the largest circulation newspaper in Bangladesh (they didn't bother to tell me where Bangladesh is, though). They go on about how they are not biased and how their broad appeal gets them lots of readership, blah blah blah.

Here is one of their articles:

'Greater Israel' through expulsion of Palestinians?


The so-called targeted assassinations of Palestinian militants and leaders and the daily repression that has claimed some 3,000 Palestinian lives in three years, are not blueprint primarily for security, but are rather aimed at the systematic expropriation of the Palestinian people. Sharon and his right-wing Zionist allies are determined to sabotage any possibility of creating an independent Palestinian state and remain committed to achieving a "greater Israel" through the expulsion of Palestinians from their land.


Hanadi Jaradat, was identified as the Haifa suicide bomber. A 29-year-old woman from the West Bank town of Jenin who was studying to be a lawyer saw her own brother and cousin killed by Israeli troops outside their home in June last year, the Israeli military occupied the town, subjecting civilian homes to tank fire and killing or wounding civilians. In the backwash of the Haifa bombing, Israeli tanks moved back into Jenin, imposing a curfew on the population and razing the home of Jaradat's family.

and that's enough of that.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

I could tell antiwar.com would rock cause of the URL

ho hum

Israel Versus Free Speech

In vandalizing a Stockholm art exhibit, Israel's ambassador to Sweden showed the true face of his government

and it gets worse, not better...

When Israel's ambassador to Sweden vandalized a work of art that he found offensive on exhibition at Sweden's Museum of National Antiquities, Zvi Mazel did the world a service: he opened our eyes to Israel's descent into barbarism. Just as Israeli tanks bulldoze entire blocks of Palestinian homes , so her ambassador seeks to bulldoze the rising tide of protest against Israeli government policies in the West.

well i'm sure if we go to somewhere else, it'll get better.

how about The Boston Globe

Prime Minister Sharon gave a tired knee-jerk reaction, supporting Mazel's act as a response to "mounting anti-Semitism."

As usual, the ideologues are using this undiplomatic diplomatic gaffe and the brutal "Snow White" as grist for their respective mills.

lovely equivocation there. preceded by anti-Sharon sentiment...

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

spidweb software has r0xx0r customer service

spiderweb software makes the exile games. i originally registered exile 2 and 3 for windows. i wrote them 2day asking for mac registration codes. 71 minutes later they sent them, no questions asked, no hassle. and this is for a very old game (if it was a big company, they'd probably have discontinued everything to do with it by now). so i wanted to share how cool they are and encourage you to buy their games (well at least the exile ones -- i don't like the others so much)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Bush Will Be President Again

I've never worried about Bush being reelected. I think he will. I thought he would before I knew all the Democratic candidates sucked (apart from being Democrats in the first place). It's not a complex thing. He's a good person, and he's doing good, and I can tell. And I have faith that enough of my country can tell, too. So they will elect him again.

A new poll says that Kerry would beat Bush if the election was held today.

I just wanted to say two things:

When (if) Bush does win, like I say, will the people who deny morality is an issue here rethink their position? If not, am I a prophet? How else would I know what's going to happen if my methods of prediction don't exist?

Second, polls have a high non-response rate. This means the people answering the questions are fairly self-selected. Do the type of people who like to answer polls have certain political leanings? Undoubtedly. Now, if you have experience doing polls, you can see how far off you were last time and adjust, to try and overcome the self-selection issue. You can make models for what non-respondants are like, and what respondants are like, and blah blah blah. But the point is polls only work well when the pollsters understand what they're doing, and only work when their models of what voters are like actually have something to do with voters.

But on 9/11 the electorate changed. We don't vote the way we used to. So, I suggest not putting too much faith in the polls.

edit 26.01.2004 3pm: removed a bad joke

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (26)


(Picture by Dakan. A member of Crimson Creations.)

This picture is particularly impressive. But not for its appearance in absolute terms. There are prettier paintings and photographs out there.

But this wasn't made with a graphics program, or with paint. Rather, it was done with the Warcraft 3 level editor.

The way the editor works is you can assign various tiles (terrain types like grass, ice, snow, dirt) to vertices on the map (which is a square grid). You can place units (monsters, heroes, items, buildings), and doodads (scenary, gates, bridges). And you can do programming stuff.

There's also cliffs (including adding water) and raise/lower. Raise/lower changes the height of vertices on the map. Cliffs are generally kinda ugly and you can't have a sheer face more than 2 cliff levels high. If you try for more you'll get a pyramid (you can have cliffs on cliffs, just not more than 2 levels right on the edge). Pyramids don't make impressive mountains.

So the point is the warcraft editor is very limited in what it can do. To make something pretty you can basically put down a landscape, change the height of the vertices (which, btw, you have to hack if you want slopes over 50 degrees), and place some doodads from the maybe 700 or so premade models. That's it.

(Keep in mind those models include the ones for snowy areas, for grassy areas, for tropical areas, for castles, for cities, for dungeons, for caverns, and for deserts ... so for any given type of location only a small fraction are appropriate.)

The result is that most maps are kinda ugly. No offense to the creators, but they look like large patches of dirt with a few rocks placed on them, then a patch of grass with some trees on it, etc... Which is just what you'd expect given the way map creation works.

However, there are a few maps that don't look that way. So that's the first reason the picture is impressive: it makes superb use of a highly limited set of tools.

Changing focus, imagine playing a computer game that looked as pretty as the picture everywhere you went. And imagine it wasn't just like that with one pre-made story. But rather, anyone could create more scenes with different art of equal quality, without having to be any good at art.

It's (relatively) easy to draw one pretty picture. And it's (relatively) easy to draw some simple, reusable pictures. But pretty pictures tend not to be very reusable. Like this picture for example. It could be the background artwork in one scene in a game, but if you just had the image, there'd be no way to reuse it well. Its beauty is it's entirely made up of reusable pieces.

It's not just a picture. As a picture it's OK. It's a warcraft map with specifications for where different warcraft components should go, and from the specifications emerges a picture.

And the last impressive part is that the picture represents a playable area of a map. Warcraft heroes could walk around in it as is.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (48)

children don't want to be fat

it's true!

most parents in the US seem to think if they simply allow children to have nice foods (including buying the foods child asks for), child will become fat.

but it actually takes a huge effort including beating children and making them cry to make them fat. ... well that or appropriate mind-fucking.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Title Here

curi42 (7:14:17 PM): well i think pet projects shouldn't be allowed if author doesn't know how many ball bearings we used last year.

curi42 (7:14:47 PM): how does he know we need his pet project more than extra ball bearing production?

curi42 (7:15:04 PM): his project being *good* isn't enough. it needs to be better than alternate uses of the funding.

this is a major reason taxes suck. if they just left us our money, we'd get the stuff we thought was important. and all our combined knowledge about what was important would go into money distribution. but instead a few people who've only even heard of a few ways to spend money get to spend giant sums on their pet projects.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


i think people get persuaded of stuff all the time, but generally not by design. also they tend to hide it. also people tend to discuss certain major key issues, which they are inconsistent and irrational and entrenched about. they then don't persuade each other on those issues, and fail to notice all the progress on varied other stuff.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

ap and unschooling

lets start with unschooling. is it any good? will it fail to be negligent? front and center on unschooling.com we find:

"I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experience." -- Anne Sullivan

leave child to self. add water. mix. instant better child.

but that's not all. being outside causes people to be smarter. so does handcrafts instead of technology. we must oppose anything artificial!

ok next is AP. front and center we find:

“If we are to reach real peace in this world and if we are to carry on a real war against war, we shall have to begin with children; and if they will grow up in their natural innocence, we won’t have to struggle; we won’t have to pass fruitless idle resolutions, but we shall go from love to love and peace to peace, until at last all the corners of the world are covered with that peace and love for which consciously or unconsciously the whole world is hungering. -Mahatma Gandhi

So first off children are tools for a political end. Next they are supposed to grow up ignorant -- this must be preserved at all costs. If they grow up ignorant, we won't have to struggle with them, they won't know anything but what we told them, so they'll act just like we always wanted. PS it's all about peace and love! (PPS if you've ever seen Trigun... lol)

But ok that's not quite as damning as the other one. Let's find another. Off to the What is AP? page written by the founders.

Whether you're new to Attachment Parenting (AP) philosophy or not, you've probably experienced that living in our culture can be confusing at best and very difficult at worst. All the popular childrearing books on the market today seem to negate each other--"Don't pick up your baby every time she cries, you'll spoil her"... "Babies can never be spoiled by picking them up" ... or "Babies need to learn to comfort themselves or they'll never learn!" New parents are quickly overwhelmed. The beauty of Attachment Parenting is that it is so simple! AP teaches parents that it's ok to listen to their baby and listen to their own hearts. It's a way of parenting that helps parents see the world through their child's eyes, a world of innocence, a world of unknowns, a world with so much to learn and a world that requires love in order to live. Even when parents feel confident in practicing AP they often have to weather criticism from well-meaning family and friends. Ours is a non-nurturing, no-touch culture against which AP runs counter. The pressure can place a lot of strain on parents. API was born out of these concerns and a desire to support all parents.

so let's see. they hate our culture. they think if we just "listen to our hearts" everything will be ok. now, you're supposed to listen to child too. ... unless you're heart overrides him. hell, even the most abusive parent will listen to child unless he doesn't feel like it. also the main problem with parenting today is failing to hug, "nurture", and love children enough. so do that. also don't stress out. if you're too stressed we have forums where people will say you're doing a good job and mean people are banned. and if you're really stressed, we recommend you just take a break for a while, to nurture yourself. as long as your heart says it's ok.

in conclusion i maintain left-wing parenting sucks. and although right-wing parenting also sucks, i think it's slightly better. mainly because i hate negligence so much.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (10)

BBC can't count

Greg Dyke today admitted he didn't want to leave the BBC asmore than 1,000 staff walked out to stage protests outside BBC buildings in London and elsewhere in the country including Swindon, Cardiff and Belfast.

Between 700 and 900 walked out of BBC TV Centre in White City.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

and it gets worse

same source as last entry.

curi42 (1:23:54 PM): "We got very badly criticised by the Hutton report. Whether that's fair or not is for another time. But if you are that badly criticised it is right for the director general to go."
curi42 (1:24:15 PM): oh dear. no wonder they think bush should go. he's been criticised. whether the criticism is true can wait until after he resigns.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

saudia arabia is worse than you understood

read this

a few things to note:

casual mention that in Egypt nearly everyone knows someone who was illegally arrested. arrested means they disappear, get tortured, threatened, killed, whatever

fire at a girl's school. girls try to escape. religious police get in the way. send some back into burning building to get their fucking abaya's (black dress/robe kinda thing that covers their body completely). girls sent back in mostly burned to death.

this one city needed a sewage system. so the govt gives this guy a bunch of money to do it. he keeps it and builds himself a palace instead. gets away with it. so then this city has no sewage system. then to make matters worse some prince wants to tax sewage trucks that collect sewage. and the companies try to force their drivers to pay the tax, but many drivers can't or don't. so no sewage gets collected for a while! people's houses get flooded. disease, mosquitos, etc the beaches aren't safe. fish dying. and there is this lake full of sewage above the city on a fault line. one earthquake of magnitude like 5 on richter scale and city will be 1.5 feet deep in sewage.

free press? haha. NO

westerners get assassinated.

religious police go around terrorising people. and get paid for each arrest!

omg the segregation of the sexes!

so there's a hajj festival thing and 400 people die. some of natural causes, some (30 or 50 or something) get trampled to death, one swallowed by sand while sleeping, etc etc and this is *no big deal*. so routine not to be noticed.

and it goes on and on and on

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)

i hate commies

green leftist commie types are inclined to "knit their own pasta" ROFL

courtesy of emma in comments

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

curi's blocks

UPDATE: this entry is old. go here if you want my tetris.

i wrote a tetris clone is python using pygame. started 24hours 20min ago

the source code comes in 2 files:


you wanna run tetris with blocks in the same folder. but first you need to have python and pygame installed.

NOTE: you have to right-click save-target-as to get the files, then name them correctly (tetris.py and blocks.py) because if you just click you'll open them in your browser. this will remain until someone explains to me how to put them up right.

get python here

get pygame here

the game isn't documented yet, but:


B = redraw the screen. a debugging function. should never do anything. if it does there was a bug. tell me.

also there are some constants at the top of the blocks file you can change with a text editor. you can change the size of the blocks in pixels, the number of rows and columns the game uses, and the minimum brightness of blocks (they get a random color). changing anything but those 4 is highly NOT recommended unless you're a programmer.

if you find a bug please tell me. hopefully stupid, large bugs, if any, will be found before monday.


version 1.1 now. a redraw bug fixed. rotation keys swapped. arrow keys added. b key added. game a little faster now. your score displays while you play. keypad 0 drops


pausing (p key). game will get faster relative to your score up to a max speed. controls to send piece all the way left or right with one keypress (7,9,c,v keys). you currently can't slide a piece after hitting drop. i might change that. no guarantees (you can if you wait for it to fall)

NOT intended features: seeing next piece and a key to make piece drop faster but not instantly while held down, custom keybindings in-game. music. just play your own.

suggestions welcome, including extra keybindings

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Alias is r0xx0r despite my complaints



ok so anyway, my thesis is: Sydney isn't hardcore enough!

For one thing, have you ever seen 24? Did you notice Jack? Jack is hardcore! Sydney's just not. One of Jack's best qualities is the way he shoots people. Sydney almost never shoots people. So that's my first two points: Sydney should be more like Jack, and should shoot people more often. Also, when she shoots people, she should use bullets, and shoot to kill, instead of using tranquiliser darts.

Oh, my other thesis is the show has kinda bad morality. Far worse than say 24 or West Wing or Buffy or even worse than most anime (anime is from *Japan* so the morality is a bit lacking and addressed at a different problem situation. Like they worry about pacifism and have trouble justifying using force ever. The majority of Americans don't have that issue. Though apparently the media does. *ahem* anyway)

so like when Vaughn wanted to report Sydney's dad for being a KGB agent (before they knew about her mother) ... to get him punished. wtf. regardless of his past he (Jack Bristow) is now a double agent working for the US government and a really valuable asset towards like saving the world. and Vaughn would give that up because long ago in the past Jack did bad things? b/c he should be punished? what for? how does punishing him help anything? it doesn't!

so then sydney said no b/c ... he's her dad. her argument was like he shouldn't be punished b/c A) she cares about him and B) she shares genes with him. it's such a bad defense you almost want to see him punished. except nah, cause he's far more hardcore than Sydney, almost like a mini Jack Bauer. ok rather different, but he's still cool.


and they were pissy about sacrificing (via framing) that SD6 agent to save sydney. but sheesh. jack saved an important double agent who routinely makes the world a better place. at the "cost" of getting a bad guy killed. one who'd done some pretty horrible stuff. and sydney gets pissy b/c somone died. oh how sad. *cough*

and then later she decided "i would have done the same thing, to save someone i cared about" which was supposed to mean it was acceptable to her. nevermind that right isn't in terms of what I (or whoever is wondering) would have done. and nevermind the issue shouldn't be decided by who we care about more -- this was an issue of national security and life and death. it needed an objective answer about the real and major effects each option would have on the world.

and sydney handcuffed anna esperanza (sp) instead of killing her one time. and shot her handbag instead of her one time. etc keeps running away while beingt shot at rather than fighting effectively. (in season 2 sydney fires a machine gun a few times which is cool)

like there was the scene where they (sydney and anna) are trying to climb up a rope ladder at same time, and fighting. everytime one gets advantage they try to climb more, and get grabbed from behind. when obvious thing to do is first throw other person off then climb peacefully.

and Alias uses some unrealistic crap to avoid some hard but right decisions. like when sydney and her father are both captured in cuba (sydney went there to help father, who was supposed to assassinate anini hasan (sp) the weapons dealer), and Hasan wants Jack to shoot Sydney. then he shoots the guards and they win the fight unharmed. what weak sauce guards!!!

He should have shot her irl, i think. assuming guards weren't that lame. cause alternative was them both dying.

update: just saw an ep where sydney knocks this badguy out instead of killing him, then a few minutes later he wakes up, gets a gun, and comes after her. easy victory turned into barely getting through alive.

this is a fairly common theme. sydney always leaves a trail of live enemies behind her. she shouldn't.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


I wrote a tetris clone named curi's blocks in python! It took a little over 2 days. It's free unless you really like it. If you really like it you're absolutely required to give me lots of money. My paypal email addy is curi[at]curi[dot]us.

Download it in a here: curi's blocks.zip

It comes with a readme with instructions to run it and key controls and such. But I'll repeat one thing here: you need python and pygame installed to play. Get them here:



I tried to make a standalone windows executable version using py2exe and it actually ran but pausing or losing would crash it. So sorry, source code only. If anyone clueful wants to make an exe or app that'd be cool (hint hint).

Oh also, post your highscores in comments!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (7)


how is it that TV and movie writers, who i believe are not generally particularly above average people (certainly some are, and some suck too, but on the whole i figure the group is fairly normal morally), anyway, how is it they consistently create characters that are far more likable and more moral than most people, including themselves?

i don't really know if this happens with written stories, cause i rarely read present day stories, and it's pretty hard to judge characters from different eras WRT the morality of ppl in the US today.

i'm not giving examples cause it would be futile. if i gave a dozen examples to try and "prove my point" or something, someone would just give a dozen examples of bad ppl in movies. there are so many movies and tv shows that it'd be pretty trivial to come up with thousands of examples for both sides, so counting examples simply can't be the way to judge the proportion.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Wild Things

just watched Wild Things. quite good. nice plot twists.

now you may be thinking "isn't that the movie with the kinda infamous sex scene?" yup. but it was good apart from that too. as i said plot twists. also v nice atmosphere.

you might also be thinking "what's so great about a sex scene in a movie when porn is easy to come by?" (ok you probably weren't thinking that)

i suppose the answer parallels the difference between one night stands and sex as part of an intimate, longterm relationship.

sex completely out of context seems boring. motion and nerve impulses. much like walking, swimming, or typing.

or compare these:

- touching molecules
- touching flesh
- touching a girl
- touching the girl you care about

( If you're a female reader and feeling alienated, you're too sensitive ;p )

( If you're a gay guy and feeling especially alienated now, good. I hate you. )

all of them could have been the exact same event! but each has a different meaning.

porn is notorious for its bad plots and lack of character development (when there is any token effort made at all). but this doesn't just make the porn worse by some snobby, artistic standards. it makes the sex scenes worse!

if we identify with, care about, or feel attracted to the characters it makes all the difference. hollywood movies often achieve this. porn doesn't.

also putting sex into everyday life makes the fantasy more accessible (ok not quite everyday life, but closer than cheesy porn flicks)

i'd also like to point out that i explained this *without mysticism*. many people would say one night stands and porn is "soulless sex" or lacking in "spiritual energy" or that somehow the marriage ritual makes all the difference. but when there is an explanation that makes sense and uses meaningful terms instead of fuzzy, mystic ones, we ought to prefer it.


on the sex scene being infamous. it overshadowed the plot in a lot of ppl's minds. here's a comment:

Ask yourself at the start of the movie what you want to get out of it. Are you looking for a smart thriller that will leave you breathless or are you looking for a couple of sexy moments where gorgeous girls get naked and kiss each other? If you want the former then `The Usual Suspects' is probably still available at your local video store. If you want the latter then this will suit you down to the ground.

now i agree The Usual Suspects was great, and had a strong plot, and was more of a thriller/drama. but Wild Things had a good plot too, dammit.

and down a bit more the commenter asks my question! (but comes up with a different answer)

The sexy stuff is good however but if you want that then why not just rent a soft porn title instead?

also got asked to clarify what attracted to, care about, and identify with mean, nonmystically.

identify with = shared values

care about = care about ...? like it matters to you what happens to the person, even though s/he isn't you.

attracted to = person satisfies your criteria for attraction. these are sometimes (always?) kinda irrational and/or arbitrary. and probably very strongly entrenched and not worth fighting with or worrying about either. *shrug*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)

more alias (no spoilers)

good guys point guns at bad guys. bad guys point guns back and explain "we have a team watching us. if anything goes wrong they will detonate the bombs we placed here which will destroy a whole city block."

ok so the good guys have 2 choices. defiance or appeasement. now i don't want to take anything away from the defiance option, but in the specific case i believe it was credible that if they let bad guys leave, they would not detonate bomb anyway. also it was pretty credible that defiance meant boom.

and of course since Alias is kinda wussy, appeasement it is. so you expect bad guys to back out while still being aimed at. but instead bad guys demand good guys drop guns or boom.

ok now again defiance or appeasement. but now if you say no, bad guys have nothing to gain from boom. they aren't facing death or death. they have the choice between killing themselves or leaving. and all they have to do is endure having guns pointed at them a little longer. so defiance looks like the good bet.

but of course since Alias is a kinda wussy show, they went with appeasement. good guys dropped their guns. this is idiocy. now bad guys can shoot whoever they like before leaving. and in fact in the show after good guys dropped guns, bad guys decided to take one hostage and bring her with them. that wouldn't have happened if good guys kept their guns.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

MPAA silly

rated PG for "mild thematic elements" and brief language. *wonders what themes are objectionable and why they don't say which one(s) it is* as it is, it kinda sounds like they object to movies with themes. heh.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


the lucky stars bit at the end of this scrappleface post is brilliant. fucking atheists will rot in hell :-)

the rest of the post is pretty funny too, though opposed to gay marriage.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

rofl @ scott ort

"Accountability is everything in a democratic republic," said an unnamed senior White House official.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

rt insight

say your fairly new to sexual relationships and not too sure how to act. what should you do? well one technique is to copy behavior you've seen elsewhere -- movies, tv, books, friends, strangers in public, even parents, whatever. ok at first that sounds like a bad idea. and of course you don't want to act exactly like James Bond or any other fictional character. you don't even want to act exactly like a real person, not even a cool one. everyone is different! but that doesn't mean you can't model specific behaviors after the stuff you've seen, at least as a temporary measure to do *something* since otherwise you wouldn't know what to do.

now, obviously this is error prone. but that's ok. how we get our first generation of theories on a subject, and how good they are, *isn't very important*. what's gonna matter is how good and how fast our error correction is. ok sure we start with some highly stereotyped actions, and it's ok at first, but we should probably develop our own more personal behaviors soon, and try to fix as many problems as we can with the archetypes.

anyway, in that context, here's my observation:

in any except the very closest and most open relationships, it's very difficult to move away from stereotyped behaviors once they are started. why? well, are you suddenly going to act differently sexually towards your new girlfriend because you decided your old theories weren't the best? without telling her? just out of the blue? maybe very gradually, but i rather doubt it.

ok can you talk about it, then change your behavior? well in theory you could. of course it's possible. but how many people are that close to their girlfriend? a few. what about that close to a girlfriend they haven't known for years? pretty much no one.

why is talking about such a change so hard?

well, explicitly talking about sex is fairly taboo.

explicitly talking about *philosophy* is often even worse. most people are instantly turned off. or will go into mumbo jumbo mode because they think that's what philosophy is supposed to be like since historically most philosophers really were incoherent.

and what about explicitly talking about *relationship theory*? hah! it's generally not acknowledged that such a thing even exists...

and of course there is the obvious embarrassment. for you *or* your partner, or probably both. not just for the previous reasons, but more so because:

it's generally accepted that sex requires justification. this is why, for example, people can find kissing someone for the first time really scary. yeah there's the fear of rejection or doing it wrong, but it's more than that. touching lips physically isn't a big deal. it's just that kissing is sexual. strangers aren't supposed to kiss. it's supposed to be intimate. and justified by an appropriate relationship. it's often the case that people want to kiss each other, they *both* do, but they wonder if it's appropriate (ie justified). this happens all the time. ok our society is pretty liberal so this is less a big deal with kissing, but sex is the same just way more so.

so in that context, why might discussing such behavioral changes as i was talking about be embarrassing? well, how many people feel confident about how much sexual activity their relationship justifies? how many people feel confident they are on the same page about that as their partner? not many.

what if someone worried that suggesting a certain behavioral change might be interpreted as asking for more sexual activity? wouldn't such worries mess up about half of any potential behavior changes? people have a hard enough time asking for that nonverbally.

and what about the other half of behavioral changes, that mean less sexual activity? well those don't work either! how many people are good at saying no to *new* sexual activities? what about retroactively deciding no to old ones? without making your partner feel rejected or hurt?

so to sum up: people new to sexual relationships will begin with some probably-stereotyped and regardless highly error prone behaviors. it will then be difficult to change the behavior even when they come up with improvements.

unless they dump their partner and get a new one. then they can make all the changes they want by starting out the new way.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)

Words of Wisdom

Words of Wisdom:

Social people interact breadth first. Anti-social people interact depth first.

Every choice you make excludes choosing otherwise.

Humans live by their creativity, not by devouring limited resources.

People twist their factual views to fit their moral views, not vice versa.

Children are people.

Young people are people.

A Few Consequences:

Anti-social people waste less time.

Trying not to exclude any options is absurd. Trying not to exclude some specific options isn't. "Trying to keep your options open," without the context of refering to some specific options, means keeping the ones that society cares about open. For example "You should go to highschool to keep your options open" means that highschool is helpful on the standard paths through life (it helps get into college and helps you get hired with or without college). Keeping options open in that sense, as a goal, is not a good way to live, because we should seek our own path, not choose between stereotypes ones.

We shouldn't ration our raw materials to last for 50,000 years. Not even for 1,000 years. How long exactly, then? Well, hard to say, but the market knows. The market knows because prices reflect supply.

It's not all that surprising that presenting, say, an anti-semite with a factual history of Israel, is ineffective.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

a frustrating trend

"24 is sometimes bad but never boring" (i forget the source on that observation).

and what's even stranger than this apparently nonsensical comment, is that it only looks nonsensical if you think about it. the truth is, we understand exactly what it means. somehow, in our culture, the criteria for a good TV show is not whether it is entertaining, exciting, and generally something we would want to watch. instead, there is a special criteria for what TV shows are called good or bad that is different from the criteria we use to decide which to watch. (more commonly instead of calling shows bad we call them trashy or junk TV or a B movie something like that).

the criteria for "quality" movies, which we are all familiar with, is approximately whether it is something elitist leftist intellectuals (think of a PhD Professor of Woman's Studies) would like. it's not generally explained this clearly, but there it is.

what's notable is that *we* often use the criteria too. our society speaks in their terms, but then decides what to watch on its own terms. isn't that hypocrisy?

i think it's more like: no one wants to argue with elitist intellectuals. so they don't. they just say "fine, you're right, whatever" and then continue on as they were.

so i don't think this is hypocritical. but i *do* think it's bad. we ought to stand up to these people and say "no, i don't agree with you, and you're a jerk so i won't argue with you either, and i won't use your terminology as if you were right" or equivalent.

and also there is a distaste not just for arguing with leftist intellectuals in our society, but for any arguing. also for philosophy and being an intellectual. just because a few idiots associated themselves with those things and thus tainted them. too many people believe that's really what arguments and philosophy and being an intellectual really are, and thus think they are actually bad things. *sigh*

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

Christian and proud of it

if the US isn't a unified, *Christian* country, why haven't the multi-cultis shut up yet?


in other words:

That the multi-cultis have something to whine about proves the US is a unified, *Christian* country. If it was more diverse in that regard they'd shut up (because they'd have won).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (8)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

so very not PC

synagogues burn in the Europe but not in the US. both places have plenty of "tolerance". so that can't be the difference. what could the difference be then? dare I suggest Christianity?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


if you want to start from self-interest based morality and fix/understand/expand it, ask: should i care if other people die (not by my hand, and not everyone, but a bunch)? if the answer is no, i think you have larger problems than worrying about whether you should hurt people for your gain (which you might have been sidetracked on, as in the link). because your morality is anti-human.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Apparently Attacking TCS Is Fun

foo commented on this post:

[Elliot] said:

An important part of getting what one wants is changing what one wants to better desires, including more relisable (sic) ones

How could you knowingly tell the difference between changing what you want to better desires, and coercing yourself toward them?

Rational thought? You may think that's a non-answer, but what would you say if I asked you, "How can you knowingly tell the difference between disagreeing with me because you hate me and disagreeing with me because I'm wrong?"

How could you tell the difference between changing what you want to better desires and having been coerced?

Well a good start is checking whether you feel distressed. Or if you feel conflicted. And consider why you changed your view. Again, it's just a matter of rational thought.

You say give advice. Advice is good. Then you say "children SHOULD BE free to disagree."

Does this "should" mean what it normally means? "Should" is coercive, in normal English language.

It means that's the way the world should be. You could swap in "ought to" if you like. It's just a statement about morality -- if children are free to disagree this is a morally good state, and if children are not that is a morally bad state.

1 archaic a : will have to : MUST b : will be able to : CAN 2 a -- used to express a command or exhortation b -- used in laws, regulations, or directives to express what is mandatory

That's coercive? Next you'll be telling me my inability to walk through doors is coercive. And gravity too. And all competitive sports. Just because you can't do anything at all doesn't mean you ought to be coerced; it's irrational to want impossible desires. And it's immoral to desire to do things you should not do. If you want it anyway and end up coerced that was your own wrongdoing at fault, not shoulds in general.

So, you intend to force children to follow their own advice?

No, I was just not going to discourage or punish disagreement.

Or merely have them consider that your advice isn't good? How can they tell the difference, as children, between following your advice to make you happy and following your advice because they want to?

I dunno; how can you tell? (the difference between following my advice to make me happy, or because you want to)

How can they tell the difference between following your advice because it makes them feel safer and doing so because they want to?

How do those even contradict? Someone might want to feel safe.

How can they tell the difference between not following your advice because they should be able not to and being free to not accept your advice?

You're worried people will go against my advice for the sole purpose of exercising their freedom? Why would anyone do that if he was never under my thumb in the first place?

How come coercion is bad for knowledge growth, as a statement, but parents are obligated! to not abandon/help their children?

Erm, the existence of obligations is not coercive. Next you'll be telling me not to make plans to meet someone somewhere. That's an obligation after all.

Aren't you coercing them help/not to abandon their children?

I'm pointing out they should want that, and if they don't they are immoral.

Why is this okay for adults, but not for kids? Is coercion only painful to children?

No, for all people.

Or is it simply that children didn't have a choice about being brought into the world, so it's unfair to force them to do things, but the adult DID have a choice, and in doing so, put themselves into indentured servitude to the child?

Well, yes, bringing a child into this world does give a parent some responsibility. If a potential parent will not want to help his child, he should not have a child.

Common preferences are not always possible. If you are in love with me, so much so that you want to marry me, and I cannot stand you, and never want to see you again, then there is no common preference here for future action.

If I love you so much why don't I want to be accommodating to you?

You can say "but someone will change their mind because they will want to have a "better" desire" but when people are in love, many times they cannot imagine that falling out of love is a better desire. there is no solution to this. No consensus can be reached. Recognizing that sometimes, no consensus can be reached is necessary. Obviously in extreme cases like rape there is no consensus that will be reached, either. Some situations have no solution. To think otherwise is to be utopian.

Common preferences are not possible when I insist on making unreasonable demands of others. As long as I do that, I won't find any. But what if I stopped?

No common preference is reached in a rape because one of the parties is intentionally malicious. That is not the situation when parenting.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (16)

This Isn't Directed At foo In Particular

In the preface of The Fabric of Reality, David Deutsch writes,

For this book is not primarily a defense of these theories: it is an investigation of what the fabric of reality would be like if they were true.

This seems to me to be a very good approach. If we spent all our time defending the theories we have, we wouldn't have time to come up with even better ones.

But look at my previous post. It's devoted to defending TCS! What gives?

Well of course defending theories sometimes is fine, and I could try to write it off as just a coincidence. But it's not; virtually all my interaction with readers comes in the form of attacks on my ideas and my defense of them.

Now, I could ignore these attacks, and sometimes I do, perhaps I should more often, but I think this line of thought misses a more important issue:

Aren't my readers doing something wrong?

Why not, instead of attack, try to understand? Asking questions is a good way to learn about something. So where are the non-hostile questions? Shouldn't they far outnumber attacks? I think there's a moral failing here.

To be very clear, the point is not "don't criticise" but rather "don't focus on criticising something you don't understand". How can you tell it's bad if you don't understand it?

And what's especially frustrating is this flaw is exactly one I find myself often accused of. Even by the very people who commit it here. This is frustrating because anyone who understands the flaw enough to accuse me of it, ought to consider it a flaw and not do it.

As to the accusations, dare I defend myself? Hum. I don't do it. Stop underestimating how much I know and how fast I learn. That is all.


At the risk of offending Dan, here's an example:

When the quality of objections deteriorates to the level of stuff like:

- demeaning the importance of winning WWI or the Cold War
- saying the Soviets weren't much of a threat
- attacking the importance of Israel not being destroyed as just making one little part of the world a bit better

then maybe it's time to tentatively accept some new ideas to try out.

And notice that even if I slightly overestimated the importance of those things ... so what? That wouldn't ruin the logic of any of my arguments. So attacking that point is kinda an irrelevant distraction that doesn't further understanding the issues.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (22)

For Reference

Coercion is the state of two or more personality strands being expressed in different options of a single choice such that one cannot see a way to choose without forsaking some part of his personality.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Christians Freed The Slaves

Dan thinks we should mostly credit atheists not Christians with liberalisation in the US. let's see about that. lets start with the biggest, greatest, most important bit of liberalisation: freeing the slaves.

a quick google search and here's some info

The word "slave" was never used to describe a legitimate condition in the Hebrew Bible. Instead, to describe the immoral thing it is, terms such as "made . . . to serve with rigor" and "hard bondage" (Exodus 1:13-14) were used to describe the concept

Hmm, apparently there were religious arguments against slavery. I wonder who made them...

Pursuant to English and U.S. constitutional and criminal law, slavery was illegal and unconstitutional. Kidnaping, murder, robbery, and rape (the basic features of slavery as it existed) were illegal. Some religious Northerners said that slavery was therefore a sin. A number of men had written books, articles, and even set up newspapers to oppose it, and get it abolished. But they were not having success, as most Northerners felt unaffected by slavery. Any sin, it wasn't them doing it.

So sounds like most Northerns thought it was a sin. Anyone who thinks it's a sin is A) religious B) pro-liberalisation on this issue

in 1850, slave holders had Congress pass a law (the Fugitive Slave Act) making following those biblical principles a crime, "aiding and abetting" escapes. This law made Northerners such as Mrs. Stowe feel that they were now being forced to participate in the sin. So the law was widely defied as unbiblical and unchristian.

pro-slavery laws were opposed because they were unbiblical and unchristian. QED?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (12)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Making Use Of Flawed Ideas

General rules, even ones that are flawed, facilitate behaving rightly, because they allow a low-resolution look at morality with very minimal effort.

Let's pretend moral propositions are dots on a 2-D graph, and rules are lines (infinitely long). To keep it simple, rules only run horizontally or vertically. And the way to analyse the morality of a proposition (a point) is to figure out the closest rules in each direction (above, below, left, right) and which side of each of the rules the point falls on.

So if we wanted to analyse the moral proposition (3,6) we'd just go in each of the four cardinal directions from (3,6) and figure out which 4 moral rules we ran into, and which side of them we're on.

But moral rules aren't perfect! Some are even highly inaccurate. So how can these rules be a good idea? Well the point is if we're analysing (3,6) and we're checking for vertical lines and find them at X=1 and X=66, we know even if the X=66 line was so flawed as to be accurate within plus or minus 40, we'd still be left of it. On the other hand, we can see we're very close to the X=1 line, so even if it's highly accurate, we still need to use a more accurate technique to check the morality of that issue.

Many propositions fall significantly distant from all lines (moral rules), and thus can be analysed purely from a quick, low-resolution look that's quite accurate even with faulty rules.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


What's an obligation? Well, it's something you have to do. So is not killing George Bush an obligation of mine? No, that's just morality. Why isn't it an obligation? Nothing you did makes it wrong to kill Bush; it always is. But that's not true! We can imagine some life I could have led where it would be right for me to kill Bush. (Am taking the liberty of having Bush have done some things differently in the counter-factual, but that's necessary regardless because what if the new life for me involved talking to him.)

Alright, let's try again. What's an obligation? Obligations are changes or differences in the moral landscape. The idea here is no one alive is justified to kill Bush, so my not being justified in killing him is not a change or difference. But if I agree to meet someone at the park Sunday, that is an obligation because the requirement to show up is different from what other people have to do Sunday. Sound good?

Sorry, nope, that one is incoherent too. Additionally, it's ambiguous, so I'll go over both possibilites.

One possibility is obligations are changes in the moral landscape compared to the average person in our society (can't be compared to everyone, because on any issue where there isn't total agreement of every last person (that isn't us), we couldn't compare). But what's an average person? Mean, median, or mode? Well mean (add all values, divide by total number of values added) is right out. You can't just mix views and expect a coherent result. The mode (whatever value comes up the most) won't work either, because all worldviews are unique. And the median (arrange data on a number-line, count in from both sides at equal speed, and thus find the middle one) won't work either because we can't just line theories on a number-line -- they don't compare that way.

Alright, so we're not comparing obligations to some sort of average in our society. The other possibility is we are comparing to the default. By default, it's wrong to kill George Bush; this is always true unless something happens to change it. Sound good?

Sorry, no. Here we are picking one moral landscape (named "default") to compare everyone to. Any differences are obligations. But society has changed drastically in the last 2,000 years. Could we really have used the same default then as now? How could the 2,000 year old one have mentioned not to kill Bush?

Well, it can't. It would have to say something more like "By default, don't kill innocents." But then to determine obligations, we can't just compare with the default moral landscape, because it doesn't have answers to all propositions. It doesn't have {Kill-Bush=No, Kill-Nader=No, Kill-IMAO=No, etc}

But it's worse than that. Is the default moral landscape supposed to correspond to a default life? If not, How would we decide what goes in it? But if so, what's a default life? The truth is there's no such thing. There are as many ways to approach life as there are people.

Anyway, the point is obligations are incoherent. Not just a little fuzzy and misunderstood, but incoherent beyond rescue. They make no bloody sense. They don't exist.

This doesn't mean you can now cheat on your girlfriend. It just means technically what's stopping you is contained in morality and your choices, not in an "obligation".

But wait, Elliot. What if you agree to meet a friend at the park Sunday, then another calls and wants to do something else Sunday? What do you tell him? Wouldn't you say you had to do something else. (Yes.) And isn't "I have to do something else" equivalent to "I'm obligated to do something else." (Yes, again.) So what are you doing talking in incoherent terms like obligations?

Well I figured out what they're good for! They can be used to express (emphasise if you like) a difference between your view of a moral landscape and that of the person you're talking to. In my view, it's right for me to go meet the first friend at the park. But the second friend doesn't. Thus I say there is an obligation to express the difference in our views.

A close variant is that obligations can actually be used to express the difference between your view any other you choose. For example you might acknowledge an obligation not to cheat on your girlfriend. This is expressing a difference between your view and any view from the class that does allow for cheating.

So to sum up, speaking of obligations is useful to express or emphasise the difference between two moral landscapes (or worldviews, or problem situations, same difference). But obligations don't exist anymore than "bigger" exists.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (8)

i'll kill you good

Frank (IMAO) joked that Rachel Lucas was dead. He then asked if he'd gone over the line. In comments, Emperor Misha I said in effect: Frank should not have made the joke because it distressed me. Even though I knew it wasn't true, I care about Rachel, so it was distressing to imagine her hurt.

The problem with this analysis is that it just assumes Misha's distress was right. But was it? He shouldn't find it distressing when he knows it's not true. That's irrational!

And if the distress was irrational, then we can't blame Frank. And if Frank's not at fault, then the whole basis for objecting falls away.

PS Note that Frank's joke was a *cause* of the distress, but was not responsible for it.

PPS Note that the word "responsible" refers to morality.

update: I misinterpreted Misha. See comments.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

this is important

joe: [civil comment]
bob: [uncivil response]
joe: [uncivil response]

symmetry or no? they both said something uncivil to each other.

answer is no. none at all. bob responded to something civil with something uncivil. joe just responded in kind.

example dialog:

joe: nice weather, isn't it?
bob: what would a fucking jew know about weather?
joe: fuck you

see? joe's uncivil comment is totally justified by bob's which isn't justified. "who started it" makes all the difference (no matter what some leftists and teachers would have us think) (not to imply that more than 1% of teachers aren't leftists)

note also that joe doesn't "lose the moral highground" or "lower himself to bob's level" when he says something uncivil. doesn't lose highground b/c he's acting just fine and bob is acting badly. not lowering himself b/c what he did is diff than what bob did. the misconception there is the bad thing is uncivil comments. it's not. it's using them at inappropriate times, for example in response to a perfectly civil comment. shouldn't be an ass to someone who's being friendly. being an ass is fine other times.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

amusing even if false

A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)


If you hate someone, try walking a mile in his shoes. That way you will be a mile away from him and have his shoes.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

I don't want to choose a title because this post is about multiple things.

Calculating your ability to understand writing is not a matter of comparing how smart you are with how confusing the writing is. Rather, it's mainly an issue of comparing what sort of writing it is with your skill at reading that particular type of writing. Anyone can read and understand any sort of writing if he knows how. And if he doesn't he can learn.

The sorts of writing commonly thought to be confusing and arcane by our society are mostly the unpopular ones that few people are skilled with. Notice that all new and valuable forms of writing will, at first, seem confusing and arcane to most people because no one is used to them.

(Actually this isn't the whole story. Some writing is more complicated because it says more. And there are various other factors too.)

Anyhow, long ago Kolya began posting to the ARR list. At first I found his writing very difficult to read. It now feels perfectly natural. Here I'm going to go through one of his emails (his first) and explain it.

But first, to make my point about the difficulty, here is the entire email without any explanation. If you get frustrated or bored with it feel free to scroll to the bottom as my point will be made. (Scroll to the first non-quoted text or search for the word "Alright".)

From: "Kolya" To: Sent: Thursday, April 25, 2002 3:57 PM Subject: The role of pluralism in personal relationships

One of the most fundamental issues in all of philosophy (especially epistemology and moral philosophy) is the question of monism versus pluralism: Is a given domain in principle unitary or irreducibly multifaceted.

Which way you jump on this issue, essentially determines whether you are a realist/objectivist (nothing to do with Ayn Rand), or a relativist/subjectivist, with respect to the given domain. If some aspect of the world is fundamentally incapable of being described by a single consistent theory, there can be no *right answers*, no *objective truth* of the matter.

I, for one, assume that ontologically speaking the world is unitary. But, as Popper has taught us, methodologically speaking we must all be pluralists. There is only one truth, but no royal road to finding it.

Getting the relationship right between these seemingly paradoxical features of the world is of paramount importance. Almost everybody gets it wrong. Creationists and moral dogmatists let their ontological monism spill over into their methodology, leading them to believe not only in objective truth but also in the existence of authoritative sources of truth. Structuralists, post-modernists, and relativists of every ilk let their methodological pluralism spill over into their ontology, leading them to repudiate not only authoritative sources of truth, but also the very existence of objective truth.

Classical liberals, libertarians, and ARR-advocates fall into a category of their own. They rightly recognise that we need both monism and pluralism, but they get the relationship between the two wrong, in a very interesting and fruitful way. Instead of seeing the crucial divide as being between ontology and methodology, they draw it between the collective domain and the individual domain.

The "collective" they treat as *both* ontologically and methodologically unitary e.g., Nozick: "Individuals have rights, and there are things that no person or group may do to them (without violating their rights)". This is methodological (as well as ontological) monism because Nozick and company regard the rights in question as authoritatively given (presumably by reason).

The "individual" they treat as *both* ontologically and methodologically plural. This is inherent in the widespread libertarian belief that rights are philosophically prior to morality. In other words, whereas rights are universal, morality is a matter of individual choice. This was also inherent in Locke (who started this ball rolling with his separation of state and religion): "It is plain, in fact, that human reason unassisted failed men in its great and proper business of morality." In other words, whereas reason tells us that the state has no business dictating morality (collective ontological and methodological monism), reason cannot tell us what is morally right (individual ontological and methodological pluralism).

Now this Lockean way of slicing life into an objective/monistic public domain and a subjective/pluralist private domain is one of the most brilliant and worthwhile fudges in the history of philosophy. In fact, I would rank it second only to the the invention of monotheism which has almost single-handedly transmitted moral and physical realism (albeit in a dogmatic wrapper) through 3000 years of human history.

But a fudge it remains. Because morality (both collective and individual) is ontologically monistic, and our search for it (both collective and individual) must be pluralistic.

What has all this to do with relationships?

Well, the ARR conception of relationships is fundamentally Lockean. The relational cake is sliced into a public tier, which has jurisdiction over individual rights within the relationship (such as the right to do what one likes in other relationships, so long as it does not harm the first relationship); and a private tier, which is nobody else's business.

As with the political version of the Lockean fudge, this is an immensely wise and valuable rule of thumb. But, philosophically speaking, a fudge it remains; for the reasons given above.

Both in politics and in personal relationships there can be no *fundamental* division between the public/collective sphere and the private/individual sphere. The status of this division is purely that of a pragmatic device -- an approximation to the truth -- which simplifies decision making by obviating the need to go back to first principles for every decision.

However, and this is the crux of the issue, the division is not some moral absolute from which we can deduce what is right and wrong. It is a handy line of demarcation which we shift hither and thither as our understanding or morality improves. Put more directly:

Rights (such as those defining the separation of the collective and individual spheres) are not fundamental moral concepts. They are pragmatic guidelines derived in the course of our search for moral understanding.

Therefore the fact that a person questions a particular version of the Lockean fudge does not necessarily make them irrational or coercive. It may just mean that they have found a problem whose solution is being impeded by the prevailing Lockean heuristic.

Of course, many relationships are founded on a shared understanding of a given set of rights. Most friendships are of this kind. Friends don't normally think they have to consult each other about where they live or what they spend their money on.

But states and families ought not be limited by any immutable definition of their members' rights. They ought to be free to alter their rules as their problem set evolves and their knowledge improves. Methodologically speaking, nothing ought be sacrosanct.

I think a good way to crystallise this idea is to bring together the concepts of autonomy and sovereignty. We often speak of autonomy as if it were a self-evident good whose meaning is manifest. But by itself that is not a coherent idea. Properly understood, autonomy must be seen as the maximal devolution of decision-making freedom that is compatible with the sovereignty of the collective entity of which the autonomous entity is part. Because fractured sovereignty, necessarily results in insoluble problems.

In this sense, the ARR paradigm views the family as a federation of sovereign entities. That is a legitimate arrangement. But, I suggest, that epistemology tells us that the higher up you can push the nexus of sovereignty (while of course always striving to push down the loci of autonomy) the more problems you can solve, and the more common preferences you can discover.

So, I say, to maximise human creativity, sovereignty must lie with the family (or state), not with its individual members. This in no way precludes ARR-style "open" relationships. But it changes the default assumptions about the rules that should regulate the "opening up" of a family relationship.

In the ARR paradigm starting a new relationship is like admitting a new member to a federation. In the "sovereign family" paradigm starting a new relationship is like two sovereign entities embarking upon a union into a single sovereign entity. The latter is not impossible, but only rarely is it actually a good idea -- i.e. conducive to increasing human creativity -- even in principle; and hardly ever is it feasible in practice.

- Kolya

Alright, welcome back. Now to go through piece by piece.

One of the most fundamental issues in all of philosophy (especially epistemology and moral philosophy) is the question of monism versus pluralism: Is a given domain in principle unitary or irreducibly multifaceted.

Monism and unitary both mean one. Pluralism and multifaceted both mean more than one. Epistemology is about the nature of knowledge. These aren't the most common words, but they are actually quite important to the subject material.

All Kolya has said so far is that whether stuff is one or many is an important question. He hasn't even explained what that means yet.

Which way you jump on this issue, essentially determines whether you are a realist/objectivist (nothing to do with Ayn Rand), or a relativist/subjectivist, with respect to the given domain. If some aspect of the world is fundamentally incapable of being described by a single consistent theory, there can be no *right answers*, no *objective truth* of the matter.

Here Kolya is telling us that if something is exactly one way, then realism/objectivism is true about that something. On the other hand, if it cannot by fully described by just one theory, and rather multiple theories are needed, that's relativism/subjctivism.

For example if the world was whatever way we thought it was, and this applied to all people at once, then we'd need a theory about how the world is for each person in order to capture all the details. They couldn't be combined into one grand theory because they are not consistent with each other (maybe Bob's world is all blue and Jill's is all red).

I, for one, assume that ontologically speaking the world is unitary. But, as Popper has taught us, methodologically speaking we must all be pluralists. There is only one truth, but no royal road to finding it.

If you thought the many-theory conception of the world made no sense, you're absolutely right! Ontology has to do with what exists. Kolya is saying the world only exists one way. However, our method for figuring out what exists must involve many different conflicting theories or guesses about what exists.

Getting the relationship right between these seemingly paradoxical features of the world is of paramount importance. Almost everybody gets it wrong. Creationists and moral dogmatists let their ontological monism spill over into their methodology, leading them to believe not only in objective truth but also in the existence of authoritative sources of truth. Structuralists, post-modernists, and relativists of every ilk let their methodological pluralism spill over into their ontology, leading them to repudiate not only authoritative sources of truth, but also the very existence of objective truth.

The seeming paradox is that the world is only one way, but rather than just say what way it is, we must tentatively try out many different guesses, even though we know that all the guesses but one must be wrong (and they could also all be wrong).

Applying monism (one) to one's method of exploring the world means only looking for the truth one way and assuming that way is right (for example deciding the Bible is literal truth). This is a mistake.

Seeing that a pluralist (many) approach to finding theories works well, some might think in effect that all these theories must have something to them (that is, some truth). This is also a mistake.

Classical liberals, libertarians, and ARR-advocates fall into a category of their own. They rightly recognise that we need both monism and pluralism, but they get the relationship between the two wrong, in a very interesting and fruitful way. Instead of seeing the crucial divide as being between ontology and methodology, they draw it between the collective domain and the individual domain.

He's saying classical liberals, libertarians, and ARR-advocates make a different mistake than the errors he just went over.

The previous mistakes involved people who were mono WRT (with regard to) existence and method, or plural WRT existence and method (whereas the correct approach is mono WRT existence and plural WRT method). This mistake involves making up a new distinction (between collective and individual) and ... well he hasn't told us the error yet.

The "collective" they treat as *both* ontologically and methodologically unitary e.g., Nozick: "Individuals have rights, and there are things that no person or group may do to them (without violating their rights)". This is methodological (as well as ontological) monism because Nozick and company regard the rights in question as authoritatively given (presumably by reason).

They make the double-monism (for existence and method) mistake to collective stuff.

The "individual" they treat as *both* ontologically and methodologically plural. This is inherent in the widespread libertarian belief that rights are philosophically prior to morality. In other words, whereas rights are universal, morality is a matter of individual choice. This was also inherent in Locke (who started this ball rolling with his separation of state and religion): "It is plain, in fact, that human reason unassisted failed men in its great and proper business of morality." In other words, whereas reason tells us that the state has no business dictating morality (collective ontological and methodological monism), reason cannot tell us what is morally right (individual ontological and methodological pluralism).

They make the double-pluralism (for existence and method) mistake to individual stuff.

Now this Lockean way of slicing life into an objective/monistic public domain and a subjective/pluralist private domain is one of the most brilliant and worthwhile fudges in the history of philosophy. In fact, I would rank it second only to the the invention of monotheism which has almost single-handedly transmitted moral and physical realism (albeit in a dogmatic wrapper) through 3000 years of human history.

Kolya appreciates the value in this approach even if it's an error.

But a fudge it remains. Because morality (both collective and individual) is ontologically monistic, and our search for it (both collective and individual) must be pluralistic.

However, he insists that it really is an error.

What has all this to do with relationships?

Well, the ARR conception of relationships is fundamentally Lockean. The relational cake is sliced into a public tier, which has jurisdiction over individual rights within the relationship (such as the right to do what one likes in other relationships, so long as it does not harm the first relationship); and a private tier, which is nobody else's business.

What Kolya means about private tier is that an ARR person with relationships with Jack and Jill would see no problem keeping the details of his relationship with Jack private from Jill, and vice versa.

However, declaring something "nobody else's business" is a veiled reference to pluralist (many) truth. Because through this approach we could all deal with our private sphere's differently, and consider everyone in our society to be doing it right.

As with the political version of the Lockean fudge, this is an immensely wise and valuable rule of thumb. But, philosophically speaking, a fudge it remains; for the reasons given above.

Kolya sees the value in this approach, but insists it is mistaken.

Both in politics and in personal relationships there can be no *fundamental* division between the public/collective sphere and the private/individual sphere. The status of this division is purely that of a pragmatic device -- an approximation to the truth -- which simplifies decision making by obviating the need to go back to first principles for every decision.

Kolya repeats that the real division is between matters of existence (one) and method (many) not between matters of collective and individual.

He says the division makes life easier because it allows us to argue by referring to the division instead of arguing from scratch. There is a mistake here. Kolya gives the alternative to this fudge as having to go back to first principles in all arguments. But it's perfectly possible to refer to higher level concepts that aren't errors or fudges. It's also perfectly possible to argue by referring to emergent properties (in fact we always do), which again makes Kolya's alternative-case (having to argue from first principles) incorrect.

However, and this is the crux of the issue, the division is not some moral absolute from which we can deduce what is right and wrong. It is a handy line of demarcation which we shift hither and thither as our understanding or morality improves. Put more directly:

Rights (such as those defining the separation of the collective and individual spheres) are not fundamental moral concepts. They are pragmatic guidelines derived in the course of our search for moral understanding.

Rights are low-precision guidelines that help us get imperfect answers easily.

Therefore the fact that a person questions a particular version of the Lockean fudge does not necessarily make them irrational or coercive. It may just mean that they have found a problem whose solution is being impeded by the prevailing Lockean heuristic.

Since rights are not perfect, it's only natural that sometimes someone will have a situation where rights give the wrong answer. In such a case, the rational thing to do would be to question the right. Some people who question our rights are wicked. But some people who do are perfectly reasonable.

Of course, many relationships are founded on a shared understanding of a given set of rights. Most friendships are of this kind. Friends don't normally think they have to consult each other about where they live or what they spend their money on.

Basically, friends tend to consider each other free to live their own lives when apart without (much) regard for the friendship. For example I might sign up for an art class without worrying about whether my friend would want to hang out during that time. I would likely only worry about losing time to hangout if I myself wanted to hang out more. Saying "Sorry, I'm busy," to a friend is generally considered legitimate regardless of why one is busy (with some rare exceptions). This is a fudge for the same reasons having a private life is. We take this conception of friendship for granted, but Kolya is saying it outloud.

But states and families ought not be limited by any immutable definition of their members' rights. They ought to be free to alter their rules as their problem set evolves and their knowledge improves. Methodologically speaking, nothing ought be sacrosanct.

Sacrosanct is yet another way of saying one. Kolya is saying that our conception of rights should be mutable (changeable), not sacrosanct. This is because we should seek the truth with a plural not monistic method.

I think a good way to crystallise this idea is to bring together the concepts of autonomy and sovereignty. We often speak of autonomy as if it were a self-evident good whose meaning is manifest. But by itself that is not a coherent idea. Properly understood, autonomy must be seen as the maximal devolution of decision-making freedom that is compatible with the sovereignty of the collective entity of which the autonomous entity is part. Because fractured sovereignty, necessarily results in insoluble problems.

Kolya fails to explain what he means by sovereignty. This makes the rest of his piece extra hard to follow. A sovereign is a ruler.

He says autonomy is not a coherent idea. His reasons for this aren't clear here, and I'd rather skip them as they aren't all that important to this piece.

Fractured sovereignty necessarily results in insoluble problems is also unexplained. The reason for this is because separate entities (think people) are different. So of course they will disagree. The only ways they could get along are if they both decide to submit to one single something or other (like a code of rules) or if they agree about something. But we can't agree about everything (if we did we'd be the same person). And submitting to something is another way of saying that something is sovereign. Fractured sovereignty would mean not going that route. And the other route can't solve all problems. So it follows that fractured sovereignty will result in some problems.

Backing up a sentence (Kolya put a conclusion before the reason for it, so I skipped ahead), Kolya says that individual freedom (he writes 'autonomy', but means individual freedom or self-directedness) must be limited to be compatible with sovereignty, because without sovereignty we would get insoluble problems.

To see how sovereignty works, look at the US. The government is sovereign (it rules over us) but we still have a lot of individual freedom, especially in day-to-day life. Without one government ruling over us, we would have insoluble disputes (for example if there were a number of conflicting legal codes, people following different codes would not be able to resolve their problems).

Kolya thinks our personal lives should be like this too, and that they should be organised with families analogous to states.

In this sense, the ARR paradigm views the family as a federation of sovereign entities. That is a legitimate arrangement. But, I suggest, that epistemology tells us that the higher up you can push the nexus of sovereignty (while of course always striving to push down the loci of autonomy) the more problems you can solve, and the more common preferences you can discover.

ARR views families like alliances of people who rule themselves. Just like the US and England were allies in the Iraq conflict, but are still individual states with separate governments.

This is not a wicked arrangement. But Kolya suggests it is not the best one.

In the army there is a command structure with some guys on top, then some lower officers, then slightly lower, and so and and so forth down to people who lead groups in the field, and actual basic soldiers who don't lead anyone. The more freedom lower officers have, the more powerful the army is, because they can make local adjustments to the overall orders to fit their exact situation. But also, if every sergeant had his own battle plan the army would not function (that would be an exampled of fractured sovereignty).

Another example is pathing in computer games. A common strategy is divide the world into a large grid and keep track of connections between each section. Then if a character needs to walk a long distance, the computer only needs to calculate which sections of the large grid the character should walk through to reach the correct section. Small obstacles within each large grid area can be navigated around separately when the character is in that area. In this example there is one overall path, but for each section of the path, the character is free to find the best way to walk through that section. Thus the pathing algorithm distributes some autonomy to the character to make it work better (trying to figure out the exact path over very long distances is really expensive to calculate).

So Kolya is trying to say that what my examples illustrate is a generally principle: lower-level individual freedom and higher-level unified sovereignty both increase problem-solving capabilities.

So, I say, to maximise human creativity, sovereignty must lie with the family (or state), not with its individual members. This in no way precludes ARR-style "open" relationships. But it changes the default assumptions about the rules that should regulate the "opening up" of a family relationship.

Families (or states) are higher level things than individual people (they consist of many people). So if they could be sovereign, there would be less fractured sovereignty issues.

By open Kolya means open to admitting new members.

In the ARR paradigm starting a new relationship is like admitting a new member to a federation. In the "sovereign family" paradigm starting a new relationship is like two sovereign entities embarking upon a union into a single sovereign entity. The latter is not impossible, but only rarely is it actually a good idea -- i.e. conducive to increasing human creativity -- even in principle; and hardly ever is it feasible in practice.

Federation means alliance. Paradigm means point of view. So in the alliance approach, a new relationship is like Poland joining the coalition to free Iraq. In the "sovereign family" approach a new relationship is like the US and England trying to unite under one government.

However, Kolya has made an error here. He seems to assume that relationships come into being fully formed. Rather, they begin small and tentative and slowly grow/evolve into greater things. But if they have a chance to evolve, then it is feasible for them to evolve to satisfy some very difficult niches (problem sets, or a simpler word would be situations).

Anyway, I hope Kolya's view makes sense now, and that you'll have an easier time reading similarly confusing philosophy in the future.

For the curious, I do agree with almost all of what Kolya says, but not everything, especially not the two places I said he was mistaken.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

if u haven't been reading IMAO u suck

the anti-american bloody nut who hatemails frank J hates Christianity and says religion = mad. he likes harvard which he recognises as a bastion of leftism. see! he knows his enemies and his friends. and thus reveals them to any of his enemies who care to listen. Christianity makes people better.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

stupid liberals

What is the meanest most low-down thing a person can do during a kid's soccer game?

conservative: cheat
liberal: keep score


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (7)


dependency means if the person died 2moro you'd be screwed and your life would fall apart b/c you wouldn't be able to solve various problems alone that you'd now have to.

this is a very bad idea even if you don't have children, and unacceptable if you do.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (10)

More Kolya ARR

From: "Kolya"
Sent: Monday, May 27, 2002 4:21 PM Subject: A brief word on "Morality"

I think I have just understood something important about the critics of commitment:


It took me a while to find another post to go over. Many of Kolya's posts, especially earlier ones, were replies to Alice. Sadly, her contributions demonstrate she didn't know what Kolya was talking about; in other words he was talking over her head (or past her, if you prefer). I mean no offense to Alice in particular; I don't think anyone understood Kolya's posts at the time (his on-list supporters most definitely included.) Anyhow, none of those posts seemed appropriate. Then I got distracted reading David Deutsch posts. They all have the enjoyable quality of being true (though, yes, they don't always try to say as much as possible; they are conservative).

BTW the way his posts are conservative but still not listened to and even written off as wild new crazy-talk is a bit crazy-making (same thing happens with many of my posts, though I vary my style more.)

But anyway, this post is both amusing and confusing. It's packed full of references meant to belittle none other than me, Alice, and a few others. So let's get clear on just what it actually says.

Oh, and before I forget, what Kolya means here is that we believe the purpose of morality is that people found immoral can be justifiably coerced. That's sorta what law is for, though. Kolya knows this. So if we go a bit further, he's saying we believe morality doesn't exist, and people talking about it are really just trying to make laws about our personal lives.

Only now can I understand why I was being routinely accused of advocating coercion, when, actually, I have not done so.

I can field that one. Kolya was accused of advocating coercion because he declared various things immoral and failed to say what should be done about it. People filled in the gaps with whatever seemed obvious. For some people that wasn't "nothing" or "we're not talking about that right now, we'll deal with it later". Does their choice of coercion denote a character flaw? Kolya thinks so. Ho hum.

All my morally-laden arguments have come across to the commit-nots as a thinly camouflaged bear trap for catching unwary autonomy-respecting individuals who make the unfortunate mistake of agreeing to enter into a committed relationship. If ever these put-upon individuals loose interest in the relationship -- and lets face it, what rational person would not? -- the trap is sprung. If they decide to stay in, they must self-sacrifice; if they decide to come out, they are liable to being stoned to death for their immoral conduct.

The question about what rational person wouldn't lose interest is sarcasm, which is notable because it's rare coming from Kolya.

Kolya is describing morality as being, in the perspective of ARRers, a trap to force people to self-sacrifice to stay in relationships or immorally leave.

Thanks to everybody whose criticism helped me reach this insight. The world makes sense again. To show my appreciation, I would very much like to return the favour in some way. Perhaps the best I can do is to offer you this vignette from my travels in far away lands, in the hope that it may amuse you.

By appreciation he means disdain. By return the favour he means he's resentful that we didn't understand him and agree with him. However, the bit about his world making sense again seems to be a bit of truth thrown in with the sarcasm. While there's an argument with an uncertain outcome going on, or at least one where he can't figure out why his opponent's say what they do, there's a bit of a hole in Kolya's worldview. But now by classifying our mental illness, Kolya can be at ease again, happily ignoring the ARRers who don't matter or count because of their mental illness.

When Push Comes to Shove ------------------------ In the remote uplands of the Autonomous Republic of Relatestan, there live two neighbouring tribes known respectively as the "Moral Positivists" and the "Moral Realists". Both tribes are very hot on being moral. However they differ radically in what this means to them.

Positivists thought that all statements not describing or predicting observations were meaningless. In simpler but less accurate terms, it's only real if you can touch (measure) it. Quite the insult, especially in context of a bunch of TCSers talking, since TCS is supposed to be from Popperian epistemology, and thus everyone present ought to know better.

The Positivists are a very hard-headed, rational people, whose founding credo is: "If you can't touch it, it ain't real". Another of their mottos is: "Spare me an inner conflict, or give me death". (Note to cultural anthropologists: A regional variant of the above, is: "Spare me moral criticism, or give me death".)

The first credo just reinforces the positivism, which was previously just a label. The other makes them highly immoral. Kolya is thinking of libertarians as much as ARRers here (though I suppose all ARRers are libertarians, but not vice versa).

Now, as behoves a hard-headed, rational people, the Positivist live by an admirably consistent moral code: "Do what you like, but don't push me". By the use of this one rule, they have succeeded in eliminating all inner conflict, all self-doubt, all feelings of guilt and shame, all human trust and commitment, and last but not least, all of moral philosophy. Quite an achievement for eight little words!

Don't push me is just a new version of the libertarian non-aggression principle which reads "Thou shalt not initiate force or threat of force." Kolya left out the bit about not threatening to push people, but it's not hard to argue that's implied. As you can see, Kolya is rather not a fan of libertarianism. Here he seems to say the point of libertarianism is to do away with morality and replace it with a mechanical rule.

In the very rare event of a dispute arising among them, they need only call to session their Positive Court of Inquiry, to rapidly ascertain who pushed whom first. The ethos of these proceedings is elegantly captured by the legend inscribed above the main entrance to the court. It reads: "Judge Not, Lest Ye Be Judged".

I guess "judge" means morally, like judging someone's character or whether what they did was good or bad. It does not mean deciding whether someone pushed or not, which obviously has to be an acceptable thing for the court to do.

It is difficult to convey the culture shock that awaits the unaware traveller, who ventures across the rarely trodden Autonomous Republic of Relatestan Listing bridge -- the origins of whose name seem lost in antiquity -- to the land of the Moral Realists.

The origins of the name Listing aren't so lost. ARR is an email list. The culture shock thing is Kolya's way of saying our differences are large, possibly incommensurable. (I'm pretty sure I've only heard Kolya use that word, and people replying to Kolya). Commensurable means having something in common. Incommensurable means not having anything in common. But the point of the word is actually to say we'll never come to agree (which actually is an implied if we truly have precisely *nothing* in common). (I don't believe this; I'm implying Kolya might.) My guess Kolya might is emphasised by the way he imagined a bridge. These are different lands with a whole uncrossable river between them. The only possible way to cross in on the rarely-used bridge.

Of course we do have things in common, like being on Earth, and living in the same reality.

For the Realists rate wisdom above logic, merging above separating, trusting above maintaining one's guard, goodness of character above a value-free character, and wadding knee-deep through personal commitments above gingerly avoiding one's nearest and dearest for fear of being bumped into.

Kolya doesn't bother to argue that merging is better than separating (there's no obvious reason either should be generally better). He just throws it into good company (good character is better than valueless character? well duh!). It's hard to explain what Kolya means by wisdom, but just assume it's clearly a better thing than logic (though it's also a different kind of thing, and there is no tradeoff between having one or the other). Trust vs. maintaining one's guard is a bit of a cheap shot like merging vs. separating. We shouldn't trust blindly; we must have a careful balance.

But the most striking difference is that, quite unlike the Positivists, the Realists live with one foot in the physical world and one in the -- no less real or complex -- world of moral concerns. Where the Positivists' idea of heaven is to spend hours debating whether a nudge constitutes a push; the Realists are never happier than when brushing against the meaning of life, in the act of pulling themselves up by their bootstraps to become morally better people.

- Kolya

I wonder what Kolya thinks I do all day. *sigh*

This isn't to say he isn't mostly right (though exaggerated) in his judgment of many libertarians. Even if he is, though, that wouldn't mean libertarian theory is bad or useless. It'd just mean it's a bad idea to try to base your life around it with nothing else. Bits, like what it has to say about economics, are very useful.

PS Kolya, if you read this, I feel no malice towards you, I simply tried to write what I thought this stuff meant. Even if I think you're flawed in 500 ways, that doesn't imply I will dismiss your other ideas.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

not exactly fp material

"Once a philosopher, twice a pervert."

So I ran into that saying, and tried to figure out how that works. I think it goes something like this:

day 1:
curi: so, d00d, what do you think about incest?
Bob: I think it's kinda gross, don't you?
curi: oh, yeah, yeah, totally gross, ewww
Bob: it's especially gross cause like my sister is ugly
curi: oh, yeah yeah, and also there's something about lethal recessive genes, too.
Bob: yeah, incest makes you dumb or something
curi: yeah
Bob: wow that was a pretty philosophical discussion
curi: yeah totally, good thing we analysed that and really learned about abstract ideas

day 2:
curi: so, i was thinking about incest some more
Bob: you pervert!

anyway, cool saying, nice gem of truth in it

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Damn Press

Israel steps up targeted killings

Lovely title, eh? The main theme in this part of current events is that Israel is killing more people now. *cough*

Israeli helicopters attacked two suspected Hamas weapons workshops in Gaza City

Suspected? Huh? Are these weapons workshops suspected of being owned and used by Hamas? If so, then should the suspicion be wrong, it doesn't matter, Israel was still blowing up weapons workshops. Or, were the buildings blown up only suspected of being weapons workshops? The author seems to be trying to cast doubt. But if it turned out to be a dorito factory this would have been noticed after the bombing, right? And then there is no chance at all they would have failed to state very clearly that Israel blew up the wrong thing. So I have to conclude it *was* a weapons workshop, possibly run by Hamas, and that the author sucks.

early Monday and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon called off a summit with his Palestinian counterpart — a first response to a double suicide bombing that killed 10 Israelis in a heavily guarded Israeli seaport.

So why wasn't the headline: Suicide Murderers Stall Peace Process ?

Oh, I know why: because the Associated Press (this is an AP article) hates Israel, and wants to blame everything on Israel.

Israel will also intensify targeted killings of Palestinian militants in retaliation for Sunday’s bombing in Ashdod port, the first deadly attack on a strategic target in Israel in more than three years of fighting, a senior official said. He suggested that leaders of militant groups, occasionally targeted in the past, will not be immune.

So what happened here? Bad terrorist people killed Jews, and Israel is going to kill the bad people in self-defense. Huzzah!

But what's AP say happened? AP says Israel is going to kill *militants*. Israel is killing them *in retaliation*. Israel is out for revenge not self-defense. Israel hasn't been attacked in an important way for 3 years. Israel has nothing to bitch about. Attacks on Palestinian soil by the IDF happen all the time (Palestinians have soil now? heh). Both sides have been trying to kill each other for over three years, proving they are both war-like or someone would have stopped by now. The Palestinians, being poor, have an excuse for being war-like. Also Israel is now planning to assissinate Palestinians leaders.

The bombers, 17-year-old high school students from a Gaza refugee camp, managed to slip into Israel despite a heavily patrolled fence ringing the strip; one of their handlers said he believed they crawled through a tunnel. The assailants also evaded tight security at the port and used high- grade plastic explosives.

What does this prove? It proves that more security just won't work alone, and the only possible way to be safe is to kill terrorists.

What does AP think this proves? That security fences don't work, so any fence Israel builds is really to steal land.

One wonders where the poor Palestinians get high-grade plastic explosives. Ho hum.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

how to cook like a god

step 1: get a blender, some bananas (fresh), some orange juice (not from concentrate recommended), some frozen raspberries, and some frozen blueberries. optionally some frozen strawberries. also optionally you can add sugar. try making it with no sugar but then putting some in a small cup and mixing in sugar to see the difference.

step 2: put everything that isn't the blender inside the blender. turn blender on. (about 1.25 cups OJ, 4 medium sizeds bananas, 1/2 bag raspberies, 1/4 bag blueberries (the blueberry bags seem to be much more stuffed. but also u want less blueberry than raspberry) seems to work for me. if u have stawberries u can use less raspberries)

step 3: find cups and serve (if u do it right you'll need at least 2 big cups to fit all of it)

PS some ppl add yogurt but they're weird. don't mess your smoothie up.

recipe 2:

put some refried beans in a small bowl and microwave. then add a bunch of hot sauce and stir. (extra hot recommended so u don't use a whole bottle in 3 gos)

get some tortillas and put some cheese on them. i prefer white cheese for this.

cook it. if u use a microwave, then small tortillas are recommended cause the center will heat unevenly. put the thinner pieces of cheese there. cooking on the stove is harder but u might like it better.

fold tortilla in half and squish cheese from middle outward so it's more even. tear tortilla into pieces. dip in the beans.

optionally, put chicken or steak on the tortilla with the cheese. yum

note: make sure to heat beans first then quesadilla. they stay hot a lot longer.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Israel Is Too Kind To Bad People

Haaretz Article

"[Someone] asked him to carry through a bag...and left," the officer said. "[The boy] just wanted to make money. We will release him. He's just a poor kid." The boy said he was offered a large sum of money to transfer the bags, and he was released after it became clear that he was not aware that the bags he was carrying contained explosives.

Skim the rest of the article too. Anyway, boy carries bag of explosives through checkpoint. It has wires sticking out of it. He's caught and stopped. Then he's set free!

Why was he set free? Because Israel treats bad people (and especially children) too well. Rather than being the oppressive conquerors the media claims, Israel is too friendly for its own good.

The boy was criminally negligent thrice over. First, he carried a bag through a checkpoint for a stranger without checking what was in it or telling anyone. Second, it had wires sticking out. Sheesh! And third, he got paid lots of money to do it. Why would he get paid all that money? He should have been suspicious about it. (If he took the money then told authorities I'm sure he would have gotten to keep it.)

The boy is a bad person who nearly got some perfectly good people murdered. But what does Israel see? A poor, uneducated boy to pity and not blame for his criminal negligence.

Not only would the world almost definitely be better off without that boy (he is morally bad enough to be dangerous), but some of his friends might be scared out of doing the same thing if Israel punished him (or encouraged if there is no punishment. same idea) (public execution sounds nice to me, but I suppose it'd be a short jail sentence, because Israel is such a cruel country). *sigh*

Oh, and to people who think Israel intentionally targets children. (Jews hate children or something? Makes no sense in the first place.) Fuck you!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

the twisted mentality of (some) authorities

"if u break a rule openly, this does not prove you have nothing to hide and weren't trying to sneak one past us. rather, it proves that A) you broke a rule and must be punished and B) to break a rule openly proves you do not have the proper respect for authority, and thus must be punished extra"

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

leave the lights on

lets say u wanna turn lights off to save power. is it worth the bother?

let's estimate it takes 15 seconds, and you save the light being on for 1 hour on average

100 watt bulb, 10 cents per kilowatt hour. that means 15 seconds is worth 1 cent.

multiply a bit. a min is 4 cents. an hour is 240 cents.

so, who wants $2.40, and who wants an extra hour of sleep?

or an extra hour of work, which will generate more than $2.40

and this neglects the human costs of people having to devote thought to remembering to turn the lights off, and such. which actually dwarf both the time and money amounts in question.

i suppose i should concede that for someone who obsessively turns lights off, trying not to will probably be costly. however, getting into such a state is bad.

oh here's a source on prices. looks like it's less than 10 cents.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (8)

A Political Platform

Announcer: Hello, and welcome to the Presidential Debates. There's been a slight change this year. Elliot is going to speak because he's so cool. Bush and maybe Kerry can speak if there is extra time.


Before I begin with my positions, I want to address two issues. The first is Statism. The other candidates here are Statists, and that's something you have to watch out for. What that means is they attribute mystical, magical powers to States. For example they think States can solve problems that ordinary people can't. But this doesn't make much sense, because who makes up a government? Just people like you and me.

The second is some people might say my ideas are too simplistic to work. But that's a misunderstanding. They only seem simple because our whole society is smart! We understand a lot of things. When candidates want to avoid ideas that seem simple and true in favour of complex ones, that just means they want to use their own pet theory that, when explained, is confusing not persuasive. But good ideas are something everyone can understand!

Now, I've been asked to go over a number of key issues: taxes, schools, welfare and social programs, the military, immigration, gun control, and abortion, so that's what I'll do.

Now, I'm just going to go over the general ideas for each one. We don't need to talk about the exact numbers involved. We have experts to figure those out. What's important in a leader is having a good plan, not figuring out every detail, which should be a team effort.

As for taxes, I'm going to lower them. Why? Because I think you are competent to spend your own money well. I don't want to redistribute it with central planning because I'm not a Statist -- I don't think that the State is better at planning than ordinary people. And not only that, each of you only has a little money (compared to the wealth of the whole country), and will pay a lot of attention to your own money. But if the government tries to distribute wealth, it will have a small number of employees trying to deal with the money from many, many people. So, we would have more bureaucrats (with salaries) doing a worse job than you would do. We don't need that.

As for schools, I support vouchers, and I will cut funding to public schools to pay for it. Why? Because the public school system doesn't work! They keep telling us if we just give them more money, then it will work. But we've tried that. And it failed. So I say, let the market take care of it. If parents have money to spend on a good school, then capitalists will create those good schools. Teaching the next generation is not the place of government.

As for welfare and social programs, I'm against those. I know charity is important, but I just don't think central planning is the way to do it. I know you are all good people, and you'll give any extra money you can to people who need it. I trust you to decide how much money you can spare, not the tax collector.

As for the military, I'm going to increase funding. Why? Because I want to be safe. There is evil in the world. There are bad people who want to kill us. And I won't hide my head in the sand and pretend they aren't out there. Rather, I'm going to face facts, stand tall, and fight them off. And I'm not scared of them either; we can beat them. We just have to put some effort into it.

As for immigration, I say if someone wants to live here, great! People are not locusts. They won't ravage our country and destroy our resources. Most immigrants will just get jobs and help create more wealth for everyone. Now, I understand that if there were a lot of welfare programs, then immigrants would be expensive. But under my leadership, those will be replaced with personal charity. So you don't have to worry about your tax dollars going to immigrants; they will earn their keep.

As for gun control, I like guns. They are a great tool. It used to be a strong man could intimidate a small man. But guns are the great equaliser. When everyone is armed, no one wants to start a fight. I want everyone to be able to defend themselves, so that's why I'm against gun control.

Abortion is a contentious issue. A lot of well-meaning people disagree. On the one hand, some of you think it's murder. On the other hand, some people say it's free choice. Now, I don't see how freedom could excuse murder. So I think the left is wrong about this. But what about an abortion before the fetus has a working brain? How could that be murder? I respect everyone's right to believe in souls, but I don't want to make laws about them.

So in conclusion, if you like personal freedom and a responsible government, not central planning or a nanny state, then vote for me. If you like ideas too confusing for a politician to explain to you, vote for a socialist.

Thank you, God bless you, and good night.


Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (23)

a large part of what's wrong with libertarians


it's a samizdata piece by Perry. genital piercings got banned in Georgia.

now, if i heard that, i'd think it was an annoying hangup as there's nothing morally wrong with genital piercings.

but that's not how Perry reacts. he is mad that something he sees as a freedom *can* be banned. he thinks that you own your genetalia, therefore all laws about them are invalid. this view is significantly *worse* than the original mistake. the original mistake of thinking genital piercings are bad is just one mistaken judgment. Perry's view is a recipie to get an unlimited number of issues wrong.

in comments, someone whines that the authors of the law consider themselves fiscal conservatives. either he thinks fiscal conservatives must oppose all new laws that would cost money (absurd), or he thinks they must oppose all frivilous laws. but the authors of the law don't consider it frivilous (duh). they probably *are* fiscal conservatives.

also in comments apparently the law was aimed at genital mutilation and nailed piercing too b/c the authors didn't know consentual piercing even existed. so this is even less bad than it originally seemed.

but how does Perry take the news?

The fact a bunch of ignorant jackasses can make something consensual illegal just like that is the problem.

so Perry thinks everything consentual should be legal. period. wife burning? spanking? ok in a perfect society (with better notions of what consent is and better mechanisms to prevent systematic coercion) they should be legal. in a bad enough society you couldn't set up institutions that care about consent anyways. but they should not be legal, unconditionally, in all imaginable societies. and more to the point, in the real world, there are lots of examples of illegal consentual things that should be illegal.

for example the story of british ppl going to india and banning wife burning. the natives say "but it's our custom" and the brits say "we have a custom too. when someone burns his wife we hang him". (this story could be a myth, dunno, but it doesn't matter). banning wife burning was important and good in that situation.

banning spanking in the US is arguably a good idea. even if it's not, it probably will be in the nearish future. (doing it would change the situation for many abused children in positive ways) saying there can be no debate b/c of Libertarian Principles would be rather lame. pretending the laws against assault and battery can protect children today would umm ... well it doesn't.


besides this, what is and isn't consent is non-obvious. can i download music? well in one analysis, this is consentual b/c the only ppl in the equation are me and the person i'm getting it from, and we both consent. in another, the creator of the music has to consent too, and doesn't, so it's not. (who has to consent must always be decided b/c it can't be the whole universe, it has to be the *relevant* people. who's relevant?). thus Perry's analysis (consentual stuff should always be legal) wouldn't even tell us what should be legal. pretending his statement supports one meaning of consent over another (his in particular) would be invalid.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)


oh also perry's title was "you do not own your own genetalia". of course you do. it's that property rights are not absolute (if they were, for example, there couldn't even be a discussion about downloading music, the case would be closed already. "you can put music you own up for download because you own it" would be the end. it's absurd to try to solve complex moral issues this way.). but Perry apparently can't even imagine the idea of non-absolute property rights, so concludes an absurdity instead.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Being High Rated Is Fun

How To Manipulate Internet Chess Ratings (works for lots of kinds of ratings where you can choose who to play):

When you're having a bad day, play your friend. Lose a ton of rating points. Now your friend is overrated. Have him refuse to play anyone. Next, play normally until you have some good days and your rating gets back to normal. Your friend is still overrated though. Play him and split up the extra points.

BTW if you want to play chess online for free, go to FICS. I mostly play on USCL.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Rope, Tree, Criminal Immigrant (Some Assembly Required)

curi: I *told* you that you have to spend more than 20 minutes making a political platform!
Elliot: oh shut up
curi: You completely messed up immigration.
Elliot: Not because of the time spent though.
curi: oops *hides in corner*
Elliot: besides i can fix it now:

An anarchist approach to immigration has the following problems besides welfare issues:

- Enemy soldiers can claim to be immigrants.
- Some immigrant populations might aid invading enemy soldiers, by giving them shelter or food or whatever.
- Some immigrant populations would distort political debate in the country be giving a voice to bad ideas. For example, do we want to waste time debating what Allah says about invading Iraq?
- If immigrants can vote, unassimilated ones may mechanically vote for whatever candidate offers them more stuff.
- There are a lot of public government services besides welfare. Like roads and parks.
- Our prisons are a better place to live than many countries.

What's the answer? Unlimited immigration for rich white people :-) Immigration for more problematic groups can be increased slowly and carefully.

Also a solution to the prison problem is the death penalty. And don't tell me the death penalty is expensive. It's not if you use a rope (or gun). Also, eventually for-profit prisons could accommodate many people.

PS The title is stolen from inspired by Misha

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (9)

Why People Don't Believe In Evolution

Well, why should you believe in evolution? Because it helps explain reality better.

But what if you didn't understand evolution at all? Then it wouldn't help you explain reality better. This is how most Christians avoid believing in it (of the ones who don't). Their understanding is so poor that it does not seem any better an explanation than God.

They reveal this when they say things that equate evolution with man being created by chance, or when they say atheists think time, in large enough quantities, can do anything. Or when they say that lions and tigers can't make fertile offspring (ie that species exist) and think that proves their point. Or when you point out that two *slightly different* lions can have fertile offspring, and they think that has nothing to do with evolution.

Notice how under this explanation, creationists are not wicked or even horribly flawed, just a bit ignorant. And ignorant of something that won't really help them much in their lives anyway.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)


What does 'good' mean? I do know, (and so does the questioner!), but I won't try to answer. One person suggested it means beneficial. Even if this is accurate, it's rather useless. Because what does beneficial mean?

Have you ever noticed that a dictionary defines each word in terms of other words? There are not foundational words with God-given meanings that all new words are defined in terms of (at least indirectly). Rather, if you tried to find out what a word meant by looking up each word in it's definition, and looked up each word in each of those definitions, you would only have a longer and longer list of words to look up, and never finish. And not only that, you'd find yourself looking up the same words over and over. You'd have an impossible task involving looking up an infinite number of words.

So three points. Trying to say "good" or any other idea is meaningless or less meaningful because it can't be defined (without an infinite regress) is specious because this applies to all words equally. And even the approach of focusing on definitions of words is simply a bad idea, because you won't get anywhere. But knowledge *is* possible, so an approach that doesn't get anywhere can't be right. And also, no sorts of foundations are needed to have perfectly valid, useful, true, non-arbitrary knowledge.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Living Forever

Someone once suggested (not sure if s/he wants credit for the idea; will change this if s/he does) that an infinite life-span would not be very useful. Why? Because the way our knowledge is structured would become so out-dated that it would both be much easier to start over (teach a blank mind from scratch) and also too difficult to be worthwhile to fix current, old people. Now, in the future there will be all sorts of great technologies to help fix people with bad ideas, and a whole profession of people very good at helping with this sort of thing, so what was meant was not that it'd just be a bit too expensive, but rather that it would be a virtually impossible or actually impossible task. So difficult that in millions of years of progress it would still seem impossible.

How could this be? Sure, I may have some hangups (I hate eggs and math textbooks, for example), but I'm sure a hundred years with no pressures, lots of friends, and various nice futurey things could cure me. And if it couldn't, the next thousand years might. As it is, I already like math in certain forms, and have come to like some foods I used to hate. So there's nothing remotely impossible here.

OK let's try something else. What if I grew up thinking the world was flat? Would that be a problem? Well, certainly for many people this was a misconception they never really dealt with during their natural life-spans. But some people did solve it. And I don't see why the rest couldn't get over it eventually. They could circle around the world, then go into space and look at it, so they could see for themselves that "scientists" weren't just playing a prank. And they could learn more physics than we know today, and see how well it works.

Now some people might be tempted to, by now, say the idea of infinite life-spans being useless is nuts (if they didn't decide that much earlier). But this would be immoral. For we've still shown absolutely no understanding of what was meant! Now, we could assume nothing remotely sensible was meant. But that's just no way to discuss philosophy. We should either say we don't know and aren't interested, or look to understand the subject.

Thus far we've looked at hangups and misconceptions that can be expressed in English. But only the simplest hangups and misconceptions can be. Anything that we can put into English, our entire society already has some understanding of.

But try to imagine. We are very young, and we begin to encounter various problems. We try to conjecture the answers. But randomly conjecturing answers with no constraints on what we think of is unlikely to solve many problems. It'd be like if the answer was 8 and we rolled a die with an infinite number of sides, trying to find that answer. So what we do is make conjectures about what sort of answers we are looking for. For example in the dice analogy we might conjecture that useful answers are mostly under 1,000,000,000. And now for many sorts of problems (the ones where our conjecture is about right) we will find the answers much more easily.

Next up, we might notice that for certain classes of problems, more specific constraints are useful. Problems about wood are mostly between 1-3 million. Problems about sand 7-10 million. Now we might solve most problems more accurately and faster (as long as our constraints are good). Of course some constraints will turn out wrong, but we can change them. At least at first. But what if we have a system 200 layers deep. Is it about earth? ok < 1,000,000,000,000 Is it about sand? no, ok not btwn 7-10 mil. Is it about water? yes, ok look between 44-999 mil. is the water cold? yes, ok, look at odd numbers only. etc etc

Of course real constraints are much more complex, because answers do not lie on a number-line. Anyhow, imagine our first 10 layers have not changed since we were 5. The next 80 have not changed since we were 20. Now go forward in time thousands of years. Our problem situation is very, very different than it was when we were growing up. And instead of 200 layers, we have 2 million. But, our situation is very, very different now than it was as we grew up. And half our layers are dead wrong, including the 3rd and 9th ones. Is it really feasible to fix this? Without becoming a new person?

And it gets worse. At the thousand year mark, when we moved to a new planet, our system of constraints started to fail a bit. So we added some new modifications to fix things on top of the whole system. These increased our problem solving abilities and kept us functional. And going through just a couple more layers was so negligibly inefficient as not to be a problem. But they were only ad hoc modifications, so after some time started to function poorly. So we added more. And more. And after living a million years, it's quite possible we've been making things progressively worse for most of that time. Sure we've been learning new things the whole time, but to fix the actual heart of our problems, we would have to change some of our most basic ideas that have become more and more distant from our latest modifications.

Now, I'm currently unconvinced this analysis actually implies the conclusions we were looking for (that an infinite life-span would not be valuable). But it's not an unreasonable conjecture either, and certainly not nuts, even though prima facie it does sound a bit nuts. And extensive further argument would be required to reject it.

Oh, just for fun, count how many life extentionists have ever gone through this analysis. I don't think you'll need your toes.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

bush rocks

read bush's speech from yesterday. if you haven't read one for a while, and doubt was creeping into your mind ... well basically everything he says is exactly right.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


To be very clear, when I say "atheist" I mean US atheist, and when I say "Christianity" I mean the American version. There are a number of significantly different versions of Christianity and atheism in the world, and sometimes they need to be discussed separately. I'll come back to this at the end.

I'll start with a quick outline of my argument, to make it easier to follow:

- Christianity is somewhat mystical.
- Atheists are mystical too. It's an aspect of our society.
- People say that atheists are atheists because God is a mystical idea, but this is rarely the real reason (as most atheists still are mystics anyway).
- Christian values are largely good.
- Atheists are not simply non-religious, they oppose religion. In the US, this mostly means opposing Christianity.
- So (most) atheists are opposing something largely good for little reason.
- Doing so is wrong. We should praise good things, and certainly never oppose them.

Christianity is somewhat mystical

Err, well, they believe in God, some believe in creationism, and there's heaven too. Given my audience, I don't think I need to go into any detail here. So moving on...

Atheists are mystical too. It's an aspect of our society.

So we were driving along in New Mexico, and [an atheist] turns to me and comments, about the landscape, that Mother Nature used a big scalpel. And then goes on to describe various details of the terrain. And I sit quietly and imagine driving with a Christian, who says God used a big scalpel, and I really don't see the difference. They seem equally mystical to me.

You may say talking about mother nature is just an expression. But often so is using God! Often these people probably aren't thinking too much about what they are saying, and don't really mean it literally. This is a good defense, but it applies to atheists and Christians equally.

If you watch much modern-genre anime, you may observe the characters being highly superstitious (by US standards). It's portrayed as generally accepted (often brought up; never really questioned). Fortune tellers are also quite common and are taken seriously. I take from this that US culture is actually not that bad on mysticism. I don't believe I know anyone very superstitious.

The US has some silly things like psychic hotlines (which apparently make money). I don't know any reason to think Christians are more likely to believe in psychics, though. The Bible doesn't say to believe in them, and actually the fairly common excuse that they are communing with spirits is distinctly non-Christian (one God, says Christianity).

People say that atheists are atheists because God is a mystical idea, but this is rarely the real reason (as most atheists still are mystics anyway).

The common claim is that people usually reject Christianity because they reject mysticism. This is not borne out by the many spiritual atheists, agnostics, various oddball religions like Wicca, Satanism, Paganism, eastern religions with reincarnation, karma, or whatever, etc etc etc And especially not borne out by my point above about atheists mostly being just as mystical.

And also, there are plenty of Christians who dislike mysticism, but somehow don't see their religion that way. In other words, most people who reject mysticism manage to reconcile this rejection with their religion.

So, in the vast majority of cases, I believe we must look for some other reasons for the rejection of Christianity.

Christian values are largely good.

Certain Christian hangups get a lot of attention. Such as opposing abortion or homophobia. Some people then conclude that Christianity is a silly, out-dated idea that has begun to cause more harm than good (if they think it was ever good -- some think people just didn't know better before, and ought to now).

But, well, here's a simple argument:

- The USA is very good. It fights for freedom, solves problems well (as evidenced by its great successes at science, at producing stuff to make life better, at living peacefully), and doesn't listen to the specious authority of the majority of countries of the world (you know, the ones always passing UN resolutions about how evil the Jews are Israel is).
- The USA also doesn't go in for appeasement (something most of Europe apparently didn't figure out with Hitler), or pacifism. Self-defense is important.
- So, how do we explain the US being good? Well, it has to be made up of good people. Which means people with highly moral values.
- Atheism is more popular in Europe, thus demonstrating we do not get our good values from atheism. (Not to mention that not believing in God isn't a value system).
- On the other hand, the US is full of, surprise surprise, Christians. The US represents Christian values. Our current President is even open and explicit about this, and willing to mention God in his speeches.
- Therefore, as the US is very good, and as its policies are mostly based on Christian values, we must conclude there is something very good in Christianity.

To try to see the difference, imagine saying each of the following things to a crowd of atheists or a crowd of Christians, and imagine the reactions you would get.

"There is Evil in the world, and we must fight it, not pretend it's only a difference of culture. Some things are always and everywhere Evil, such as to oppress women or murder innocents."

"Certain things, like freedom and democracy, are Good. They are not for some people. They are not a matter of taste. Some people believe that Arabs or Muslims can't handle democracy. I say God made all people, not just white people, to want freedom, and to flourish with it."

"The Jews in Israel are on the side of Right, and we will stand with them, whatever Evil may come. Their enemies, who preach death every Friday, and dance in the street with joy at each terrorist atrocity, are our enemies too."

Atheists are not simply non-religious, they oppose religion. In the US, this mostly means opposing Christianity.

More (proportionally) atheists than Christians becomes environmentalists. More become socialists. More feel solidarity with Palestinian suicide murderers. More are willing to overlook the suffering caused by tyrants in the Islamic world. More are so committed to causes like getting rid of DDT that they will overlook the millions of people their policy kills.

This is not a matter of being factually confused. There is nothing in atheism that causes people to read less, or choose worse sources to read. Rather, this is a moral issue. And specifically, it shows moral inferiority by atheists. They read more (on average, I expect) but still tend to come out with worse views. This means they twist and distort facts to conform to a bad view of the world.


Christianity is not really about there being one God, but rather about there being one morality. Most atheists throw this out, and become, at least explicitly, amoral or a moral relativist. They can no longer speak in the "simplistic" language of Good and Evil, Right and Wrong, because they see those as religious concepts (and mystical, usually). And so they flounder around with very silly psuedo-values like "hurting nature is wrong" (Why? Unknown. And you thought religions were lite on justifications.) Or mechanical values like to reduce the amount of suffering in the world, with suffering defined as hunger, disease, injuries, and length of work day. But such an analysis will always be blind to, for example, who is right in a conflict. It will just side with whichever side got hurt more (i.e., was less successful). Which is usually the side in the wrong (bad people tend to be less successful).


In the distant future, the superstitions of today will be gone. There will be no psychic hotlines. A TV show about speaking to the dead would flop, unless shown on the history channel. There will be no religions. No one will believe in God. But so too will there be no atheists. Because once there are no religions to oppose, it will be a meaningless thing to be. Just like today being an a-leprechaunist (someone who believes there are no leprechauns) is absurd.

And furthermore, why be an atheist even today? Why care? Why not just live your life without believing in God? Why does it matter to you if other people are theists? Well, there are lots of reasons, but they all involve things like theism hurting you, not getting along well with Christians, rebelling against Christianity, or a strong desire to convert people to your worldview. (The last is bad because, while it's great to take your own ideas seriously, and wish to help people, we must keep in mind that we may be wrong, and thus not force our ideas on others. Though it's not very bad. At least it indicates a belief in one objective morality.)

So to sum up, people mostly become atheists because they oppose Christianity, mostly identify themselves as atheists because they oppose Christianity, and would identify themselves as non-religious and shrug and not care if this wasn't true.

So (most) atheists are opposing something largely good for little reason.

Not much to say here, expect that opposing good things is terrible, and even if something good has flaws, it still shouldn't be opposed, only criticised in hopes of improving it. And it can still be identified with, for the great good it has.

Doing so is wrong. We should praise good things, and certainly never oppose them.

To conclude, I want to give a short, different version of my argument, that acknowledges Christianity is different in other places.

- The US is good
- Atheists tend to oppose whatever religion they are around, or were former members of.
- So atheists in Pakistan would mostly be pro-American, because their atheism is to oppose the religion there, not here.
- Atheists in the US tend to be less patriotic and, well, less American.
- So opposing American Christianity tends to make people here worse.
- Now, can we conclude that because opposing something makes people worse, the thing is good? Well, logically, we cannot deduce it. There could be some other factor we don't know about. However, American Christianity being good would explain why people opposing it become worse. So, unless someone can think of a persuasive rival explanation, we have a very strong argument.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

palestinian living conditions better than lots of places

i did some research on life expectancy and infant mortality for palestine and uganda and somalia. if you think those are unfair indicators, feel free to suggest some other ones.

from the CIA world factbook for Uganda http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/ug.html

Infant mortality rate:
total: 87.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 80.17 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 95.41 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 44.88 years
male: 43.42 years
female: 46.38 years (2003 est.)

for somalia http://www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/print/so.html

Infant mortality rate:
total: 120.34 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 110.56 deaths/1,000 live births (2003 est.)
male: 129.84 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 47.34 years
male: 45.67 years
female: 49.05 years (2003 est.)

now for palestinians, i'll get 3 sources.


infant mortality 32 in 1990 and 22 in 2000.
life expectancy 72.1 in 2000

infant mortality 20 for west bank and gaza. 37 for middle east and north africa.
life expectancy 73 for west bank and gaza. 69 for middle east and north africa

and a 3rd source just to make sure: http://www.undp.org/hdr2003/indicator/cty_f_PSE.html

infant mortality in 1992 says 42, but in 2001 down to 21
life expectancy for 2001 = 72.1

oh also here's some nice comparison charts with loads of countries:

infant mortality: http://www.undp.org/hdr2003/indicator/indic_289.html

life expectancy: http://www.undp.org/hdr2003/indicator/indic_1_1_1.html

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

weapons caches in iraq

i was told i was silly for believing in a 50 mile long weapons cache in iraq. let's see about that:

120 x 360 = 36000 + 7200 = 43,200 (sq feet of football field)

if iraq has 1mil man army, and 10,000 sq feet of supplies per guy, that's 10,bil sq feet or about 10bil/25mil = in sq miles = 400 sq miles = 20 miles by 20 miles, or 400 miles by 1 mile

10,000 sq feet per person means about 4 ppl to a football field (a fraction of a person more would fit).

ok that sounds like a lot of space per person at first. but it's not. first u have to take into account roads, buildings, and large gaps so if something is blown up u don't lose everything. so the actual amount of space used to store stuff, in weapons caches, is more like 1/2 or 1/3 of the total space. i'll just estimate 40%. 10bil * 40% makes 4bil sq feet of stuff.

so 1/10 of a football field of actual stuff packed reasonably tightly per person. sound too small? maybe it is, but anyway i'll just try to support that much.


Over the last three years, we have tripled the output of small caliber ammunition. We boosted production from 350,000 rounds per year to 1.2 billion rounds, almost all of it coming from the government-owned, contractor-operated plant in Missouri, the Lake City Army Ammunition Plant. We recently awarded contracts to Olin Corporation and to Israeli Military Industries, and we plan to expand the production capacity at Lake City. The increased consumption of ammunition, is a result of the Army's decision to better train all Soldiers in marksmanship. Industry's response has once again been exceptional

notice that one factory can handle most of that increase. ie make nearly 1bil rounds/year.

this is the US, and the US army is not all that reliant on small arms. only a very small proportion of our soldiers are in many small arms fights. also notice that it sounds like most of that increase is just from *training*. imagine how much more a huge army in constant small arms fights must use (that also must be trained). now keep in mind iraq needed stockpiles that could last them through many years of sanctions with no resupply. lets say they aimed at a lowly 10 years. so for the US that'd be 12bil rounds. but for iraq multiply by 5 and guess 60bil, which seems way too low to me.

ok so these can be stored in boxes, which can be stacked. lets say boxes hold 1k rounds, are stacked 3 deep, and are 3ft by 2ft = 6sq feet. 3k rnds in 6sq feet or 1k rnds in 2 sq feet. we need 60bil rounds so that's 2sq feet * 60mil = 120mil sq feet. we're trying to fill 4bil sq feet. so that's 30mil out of a bil, or 3%. just for the ammo for small guns. while, i think, intentionally underestimating.

they also need a vehicle for every few ppl, machine guns, mortars, artillery, tanks, planes, helicopters, SPARE PARTS, FUEL, food, tents, landmines, RPGs, TNT (they use TNT), knives, wire, missiles, spare guns, missile shooting systems (these are big), ammo for all these things, and a zillion other things. all in tremendous quantities.



Anarchy that engulfed Albania in 1997, as a result of the collapse of political system, led to looting of about 650,000 pieces of small arms and light weapons and over 1,5 billion rounds of ammunition from military warehouses.

1.5 bil rounds looted. in Albania. albania is puny. iraq is large. and iraq wanted enough supplies to last a long time without getting more. so, i have to think my estimates b4 were low.



Between 1980 and the summer of 1990 Saddam boosted the number of troops in the Iraqi military from 180,000 to 900,000, creating the fourth-largest army in the world. With mobilization, Iraq could raise this to 2 million men under arms--fully 75% of all Iraqi men between ages 18 and 34.

so they needed supplies for 2mil man army, not 1mil. so if there's only 400 sq miles of weapons caches as i was trying to support, about 6% not 3% has to be just ammo for small guns. which sounds far too high to me, meaning there's are prolly more than 400 sq miles of weapons caches.



In strategic sections of Iraq, just about every school, hospital or Baath Party building that U.S. forces come across is stacked high with ammunition, according to Gen. John Abizaid, overall commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. The number of sites is a logistical nightmare for the coalition, which can't remove the arms fast enough and lacks manpower to guard all the caches.

Abizaid's military command estimates it will take five years to destroy all the explosives already confiscated.

5 years to blow up just the stuff we already *confiscated*.

"There is more ammunition in Iraq than any place I've ever been in my life, and it is all not securable," Abizaid told senators

and it just goes on and on

In just the sector of central Iraq patrolled by the Army's 4th Infantry Division, more than 3,000 arms caches that must be destroyed, moved or guarded have been found, Abizaid said. And there is much more yet to be found, he said.


Arms experts estimate there are enough guns to arm each of Iraq's 25 million people.

so 60bil rounds would only be a bit over 2,000 per gun. including training, that's no where near enough ammo per gun. but apparently there's no shortage:

Despite crackdowns, confiscations and raids, the black-market trade in small arms is flourishing: Iraqis can buy an AK-47 for as little as $10, along with all the ammunition they can carry.


The coalition estimates Saddam Hussein amassed 600,000 tons of ammunition,

ok more math. if a ton of stuff takes 500 sq feet (50 feet by 10 feet, not that big)), we have 300mil sq feet of ammo. compared with teh 4bil sq feet target, that's 7.5%, or significantly more than my earlier estimate


ok going to the CIA World Factbook

albania is 27,748 km sq
iraq is 437,072 km sq

just to help you compare WRT the looted ammo thing

new source

In the past inspectors have had to make three or four visits to a single location before weapons were found. One weapons site was described as a "military compound the size of Paris".

ok, and just in case you thought i was wasting my time ........ yup (nah joking, this was interesting)


Hussein left behind 130 known ammunition dumps measuring 50 square miles and containing 600,000 tons of artillery shells, rockets, aviation bombs and other ordnance. Kay and his team believe unmarked chemical weapons may be hidden in these dumps. So far, they have only inspected 10 of the 130.

ok so 50 sq miles, not 50 miles long. oh well, close enough. and my estimates were off by a factor of 8ish i guess. which is small. and this is *known* weapons dumps, so could be less than factor of 8 off.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

iraq weapons supply planning

ok suppose ur one of the guys in charge of buying guns and stuff to supply saddam's army. and lets imagine you don't buy enough guns and after 20 years of wars and sanctions, they run out. then he kills you and your family painfully for failing him.

but suppose you buy 5 times as many guns as needed. then he has plenty of guns, and can boast about how many guns he has, and such. the only risk is your budget (if you use too much money you get to die again). but saddam wouldn't be paying attention to details of costs for everything, so you could probably get a decent budget. so you would end up buying much more stuff than needed, just cause it's safer.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

oil 4 food

WRT the oil for food program by UN 4 iraq

doesn't anyone have a clue what 'money is fungible' means?


(even if it was for food, ok so now with their other money, they need to buy less food, and can use it for evil)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


What is coercion?

The original: The psychological state of enacting one idea or impulse while a conflicting impulse is still active in one's mind.

An improvement: Coercion is the state of two or more personality strands being expressed in different options of a single choice such that one cannot see a way to choose without forsaking some part of his personality.

If you're wondering what the use of all this is, coercion captures ideas like mental pain and distress precisely. It explains just what they really are.

And now, a whole new way to look at it:

First off, we need to think of a worldview (personality) as having various parts (strands, groups of theories) that are approximately autonomous. The argument that they are goes as follows:

Is Buffy the series or Buffy the movie better? Most Buffy fans would say the series. In this way they are alike. There are various other questions about Buffy we could ask to also get the same answers.

Now, each Buffy fan has a different worldview, and some different ideas. But when asked about Buffy they can generally give the same answer. This shows that the alike, Buffy part of their personalities does not consult with the rest of their personality. If it did, they would answer differently.

Of course this isn't a perfection distinction. If you ask complex enough questions the answers Buffy fans give will vary more. And part of someone's personality can't be entirely autonomous. But it acts approximately autonomous.

Alright, so the point is we have various different separate parts of our personality. Now, suppose we have to make a choice. Most of our personality won't have anything to say about the choice. Say it's what to eat for dinner. The Buffy part will have no view. Nor the math part. Nor the hockey part. Only a few parts of our personality will be relevant for any given choice.

Alright, so there is some choice to be made, and some parts of our personality give input on what we choose. For each relevant part of our personality, there is a set of options for how to choose that are consistent with it (this set exists abstractly -- I'm not saying all these options are in our mind). When asked if Buffy is cool, we could choose to say "yeah", or "yes", or "yup", or "totally", or many other things, without contradicting our views on Buffy. On the other hand, there are some ways to respond that would not work, such as to say "no" when we actually do think Buffy is cool. So, the point is, there's a set of options (ways to choose) that work with any given personality strand, and all options not in that set would constitute acting contrary to our own personality.

Alright, so now we get to the key new idea: the set of non-coercive options is the intersection of the sets of choices for each part of our personality.

(Intersection of sets means only the things in all of them.)

And, also, the only possible way to change the set of possible non-coercive options (for example to make it bigger) is to change our personality. By altering a part so that it is consistent with a different set of options. (Or by removing a part, like a bad hangup.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (9)

In Favour Of Theism

At least as far as morality goes, the US (I think the entire world) is full of foundationalists. People want to know what the basis of morality is. (This is a philosophical mistake.) And worse still, people who cannot find a basis are liable to think morality does not exist at all.

Religious people say the basis of morality is God. Now, this is kind of meaningless. It doesn't tell us anything about morality, except so far as we have ideas about the nature of God. But those tend to be pretty vague. God is all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing or whatever. Alright, so b/c of this foundation religious people will probably make the horrible mistake of concluding morality is good and true. Oh wait, it is...

Or another way, morality "based on God" can be any morality at all. Thus, belief in some meaningless God could totally nullify the ill effects of moral foundationalism. (In fact, for this purpose, the more meaningless the God the better.)

Anyway, now lets contrast with atheists. Of the ones who manage to believe in morality, there are two main supposed foundations for morality. There is "self-interest", and there is the libertarian non-aggression principle (thou shalt not initiate force or threat of force). Both of these, if taken seriously as the foundation for morality, unlike some vague God, do tend to lead people to some conclusions about what morality says. They are not consistent with just any morality, but only a few. And these few are wrong.

Thus it is that for a foundationalist, failure to believe in God, so that God can *meaninglessly* (not entirely, but the closer the better) get lip-service as the foundation of morality, directly leads to significant moral errors.

This can also be flipped around. Suppose you're a foundationalist who first and foremost believes in morality, and doesn't want to fuck it up by accepting some crap like that the basis of morality is self-interest. Then you would refuse to stop believing in God. Mysticism be damned. Morality is more important.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

they cheer for this crap!

the below is a log from a chess server where some liberals could not give reasons for the Iraq war that would be endorsed by conservatives, but I gave reasons against the war that they cheered for. thus demonstrating i understand their position, and have an informed view, while they don't have a clue what my position is, and thus can't compare it with their own position to see which is better. also, i was called a liar, which is amusing as it's a stereotyped liberal way to "argue" and he did it... (he thought i got my speech from an email, but I made it up on the spot)

here is my anti-war speech in italics first, then the full log. so u can skip the log if you want. (keep in mind this took like 5-10min, and of course i could make it nicer if i edited it now)

The problems with a war in Iraq are many-fold. First and foremost, the war is not justified. It will take the lives of many innocent Iraqis, most of whom do not want the US there. They know the US invasion won't help them but only make their lives worse. But aside from this clear moral problem, it gets worse. Bush has not only lied about the reasons for war, but given unacceptable ones.

He says the war is over weapons of mass destruction, except Saddam problably doesn't even have any, and both the US and Israel do. He says Saddam supports terrorism, but the link with Al Queada has never materialised. He says Saddam violated UN resolutions, but he doesn't even have the UN on his side.

And his real reasons for war are much worse. He seeks revenge for his father, but that's simply no reason to start a war and kill innocents. He wants oil, and to secure contracts for his friends, but again that's a horrible reason for a war. And he wants to exercise military power in the name of Christian values, but we shouldn't be ruled by magalomaniac religious delusions.

And then there's the political ramifications of war. Very few other countries support the war, except mostly the ones the has leverage over. Why does Bush suddenly think Europe doesn't matter? He shouldn't try to oppose the whole world.

i suppose i forgot to mention faulty intelligence. that should be in there too.

curi42: Artificer(4): lol curiosity has been gone for a while. probably on google
\ searching for reasons
t 4 am not. i'm looking for an old email ;p
Curiosity(4): am not. i'm looking for an old email ;p
(told 122 players in channel 4 "Chat")
Artificer(4): ...so you're not doing it from memory like me then
curi42: Artificer(4): if your original point curiosity was to prove that i know
\ nothing of your arguments from memory (without consulting a source), then
\ you just failed miserably.
curi42: Curiosity(4): fine you want me to do it from memory?
(told 124 players in channel 4 "Chat")
Artificer(4): i bet curiosity just finished reading the e-mail
t 4 i didn't find it
Curiosity(4): i didn't find it
(told 124 players in channel 4 "Chat")
Artificer(4): what a joke.
Artificer(4): sure i believe you. hahahaha
t 4 if you think i'm lying i can stop talking to you
Curiosity(4): if you think i'm lying i can stop talking to you
curi42: Artificer(4): ignore me if you want curiosity. you've been doing so for the
\ last few sentences anyway.
, huh?
Curiosity(4): huh?
(told 125 players in channel 4 "Chat")
ZZSpence(4): I agree with Rumsfeld, why resign because a few politically
\ motivated fruitcakes want him to resign....perhaps they should start at
\ the UN where billiuons has been pocketed by those who opposed forcing
\ Saddam to cooperate with the UN.....
, i did not find the email. i didn't google anything. if you think i'm lying about this, we probably shouldn't talk about this. otherwise, i'll be happy to continue, from memory.
Curiosity(4): i did not find the email. i didn't google anything. if you
\ think i'm lying about this, we probably shouldn't talk about this.
\ otherwise, i'll be happy to continue, from memory.
(told 127 players in channel 4 "Chat")
ZZSpence(4): When Kofian rersigns and goes to Washington to kiss Bush's
\ behind....then I'll consider Rumsfeld resigning.
apestyles(4): shake it shake it shake sha shake it shake it like a polaroid
\ picture...
Artificer(4): curiosity: think about it if you were in the reverse position.
\ naturally you would not trust me either.
papovik(CA)(4): curio, you deny that what we say is what you think, yet you
\ have to go and read what you think because you can't remember it
t 4 you've had just as much time to google something if you wanted to
Curiosity(4): you've had just as much time to google something if you wanted
\ to
(told 127 players in channel 4 "Chat")
Artificer(4): i responded within seconds.
t 4 and got it wrong :-)
Curiosity(4): and got it wrong :-)

curi42: landocorn(4): why is it difficult for some on the right to call to scumbags
\ who tortured those poor prisoners what they are!
Artificer(4): lol pminear
apestyles(4): viva revolucion
Artificer(4): not really curiosity
pminear(4): wait I'm not sure if I got that entirely correct
pminear(4): but whatever
Game notification: acdc (2123) vs. pminear (2183) rated wild/8 3 0: Game 48
ZZSpence(4): I love it when you can't find a liberal who can support the
\ hypocracy of their beliefs.
Artificer(4): you guys act as if "liberals" are one whole group.
Artificer(4): political ignorance.
ZZSpence(4): game....set ...match
Notification: JATorres has departed.
Artificer(4): exactly
Notification: JATorres has arrived.
apestyles(4): i love it, i cant find a conservative who can argue his point
\ without being obnxiously arrogant about it
tsgarp(*)(4): lol
landocorn(4): that is their substitue for reason
ZZSpence(4): When Kofian resigns we can move to whether or not we hold Donald
\ Rumsfeld responsible for what some dumb soldiers did in an Iraqi prison.
Artificer(4): i know plenty of liberals who don't support abortion; i know
\ plenty of conservatives who refuse to vote bush. why treat it as if there
\ are clear lines?
apestyles(4): but really, im no better when i get into personal attacks either

curi42: Curiosity(4): The problems with a war in Iraq are many-fold. First and
\ foremost, the war is not justified. It will take the lives of many
\ innocent Iraqis, most of whom do not want the US there. They know the US
\ invasion won't help them but only make their lives worse. But aside from
\ this clear moral problem, it gets worse. Bush has not only lied about the
\ reasons for war, but given unacceptable ones.
(told 126 players in channel 4 "Chat")
MprJohn(*)(TM)(4): you cant find a `anybody passionate about politics` who can
\ argue his point without being obnxiously arrogant about it
ZZSpence(4): It is justified
apestyles(4): true enough
Artificer(4): true curiosity, but as i said, it took a bit too long.
landocorn(4): hear, hear, old chap
Artificer(4): he's not supporting us landocorn
ZZSpence(4): Bush didn't lie...the U.N. lied and stole billions
papovik(CA)(4): why don't you explain why you espouse the war curio instead of
\ reasons why you wouldn't
ZZSpence(4): We're suppose to listen to those crooks?

curi42: Curiosity(4): He says the war is over weapons of mass destruction, except
\ Saddam problably doesn't even have any, and both the US and Israel do. He
\ says Saddam supports terrorism, but the link with Al Queada has never
\ materialised. He says Saddam violated UN resolutions, but he doesn't even
\ have the UN on his side.
(told 126 players in channel 4 "Chat")
Artificer(4): interesting... i told you guys taht there are no clear lines.
\ curiosity and ZZspence are btoh conservative, and even they disagree with
\ one another.
ZZSpence(4): Naahhhhhhh
MprJohn(*)(TM)(58): 2-0 pistons :-)
Notification: JATorres has departed.
Notification: JATorres has arrived.
Artificer(4): in fact, i don't know why people came up with the terms
\ "liberal" and "conservative" anyway. it's like as if you believe there is
\ a clear "endgame" or "middlegame" in chess.
Artificer(4): wow, managed to relate politics to chess, i rule. :-I
:Notification: alrightnow(*)(TM), the COO, has arrived.
apestyles(4): well, why dont we just do away with categories in general and
\ live in state of absolute confusion

curi42: Curiosity(4): And his real reasons for war are much worse. He seeks revenge
\ for his father, but that's simply no reason to start a war and kill
\ innocents. He wants oil, and to secure contracts for his friends, but
\ again that's a horrible reason for a war. And he wants to exercise
\ military power in the name of Christian values, but we shouldn't be ruled
\ by magalomaniac religious delusions.
(told 126 players in channel 4 "Chat")
ChugiakCharlie(4): anarchy rules
Artificer(4): that's an interesting irony
ZZSpence(4): Call for Kofian to resign....call for Bush to resign because a
\ White House guard urinated on the White House lawn during Bush's
\ watch....you should listen to the hypocracy of the left wing
\ fruitcakes....they are hypocrites that wouldn't admit the sky was blue if
\ it meant no power.
apestyles(4): i can dig it curisoity
apestyles(4): *curiosity
MprJohn(*)(TM)(4): have the oil in my driveway.. plenty there :-D
landocorn(4): i recently met a couple who ardently believe that some of our
\ senators wish to abolish our constitution so the UN can rule us.
Artificer(4): Curiosity: thanks for demonstrating you can read e-mails. :-)
ZZSpence(4): Rubbish....Curiosity

curi42: apestyles(4): zzspence, please provide a reasonable argument with a point
\ rather than a personal attack with no real point
Curiosity(4): And then there's the political ramifications of war. Very few
\ other countries support the war, except mostly the ones the has leverage
\ over. Why does Bush suddenly think Europe doesn't matter? He shouldn't
\ try to oppose the whole world.
(told 128 players in channel 4 "Chat")
ZZSpence(4): total...drivel
t 4 how's that artificer?
Curiosity(4): how's that artificer?
(told 128 players in channel 4 "Chat")
ZZSpence(4): whin ing
t 4 i suppose i forgot to mention faulty intelligence. that should be in there too.
Curiosity(4): i suppose i forgot to mention faulty intelligence. that should
\ be in there too.

curi42: some junk. then:
curi42: apestyles(4): no, i didnt really agree w/ your argument... thought it was a
\ bit on the hysterical side
curi42: i spent a while trying to explain to zzspence that i didn't believe the argument i'd given. heh
curi42: now artificer is trying to get out of giving pro-war reasons by saying that pro-war people are different.
curi42: Curiosity(4): can any of you liberals give pro-war reasons that an average
\ Christian conservative would endorse?
(told 125 players in channel 4 "Chat")
Artificer(4): curiosity your question is as invalid as asking "why is the sky
\ green?"

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

atheists oppose religion

atheists oppose religion

Here it is suggested (last question) that religious people figure stuff out and come to their views using, "fantasy, intuition, and tradition". Obviously using fantasy to inform your worldview would be bad, so this is a huge slander. On the other hand, tradition is very useful and important, and so is intuition, so this is revealing of atheists generally having the wrong approach to thought, and having it because they oppose any methods they associate with religion (yes it could go the other way. first they made a mistake about philosophy, then this caused them to oppose religion. that wouldn't make atheists any better though). (They would not put stuff in an introductory FAQ that was controversial. Especially not an FAQ designed to make atheism very inclusive by welcoming agnostics.)

At American Atheists, the frontpage currently has a news release that's pretty rabid about separation of church and state. basically they don't want Bush to be allowed to pray. He could write a book on why Satanism is great, and that would be free speech (to atheists), but if the president seems to support Christianity in public they get mad. If they were really indifferent to religion, they would care just as much as if the president endorsed hockey.

And here's what the American Atheists think is a good essay on morality without God. To start, it suggests life wasn't worse 2000 years ago. Then it calls Christian morality unsophisticated, which is pretty damn persuasive *cough*. And it continues to go downhill:

The behavior of Atheists is subject to the same rules of sociology, psychology, and neurophysiology that govern the behavior of all members of our species, religionists included. Moreover, despite protestations to the contrary, we may assert as a general rule that when religionists practice ethical behavior, it isn't really due to their fear of hell-fire and damnation, nor is it due to their hopes of heaven. Ethical behavior - regardless of who the practitioner may be - results always from the same causes and is regulated by the same forces, and has nothing to do with the presence or absence of religious belief. The nature of these causes and forces is the subject of this essay.

Hum, my behavior is subject to psychological rules? Sociolological? Well I'll wait until he expands on that to yell and scream, I guess. Saying "religionists" helps expose his anti-religion stance.

And then his argument here, umm, doesn't work. First he calls Christians liars, and then he declares human behavior is *entirely* regulated by certain non-religious things. Which would make religion ENTIRELY IRRELEVANT, which we all agree its not.

As human beings, we are social animals. Our sociality is the result of evolution, not choice. Natural selection has equipped us with nervous systems which are peculiarly sensitive to the emotional status of our fellows. Among our kind, emotions are contagious, and it is only the rare psychopathic mutants among us who can be happy in the midst of a sad society. It is in our nature to be happy in the midst of happiness, sad in the midst of sadness. It is in our nature, fortunately, to seek happiness for our fellows at the same time as we seek it for ourselves. Our happiness is greater when it is shared.

Oh dear God! OK I'm done with this essay. And this website. Except to suggest nature is his God.

this guy freely admits he spends time thinking of arguments against Christianity. also against other religious, but mostly christianity, b/c he knows more about christianity, and was raised catholic.

Look at this

A theist may study the human digestive system and marvel, "Surely something so elegant and complex must have been designed by God!" An atheist, on the other hand, might ask, "Why did God create tapeworms?" To an atheist, this thorny problem of a benevolent creator giving humanity the gift of parasites is evidence (though hardly proof) that he or she is correct in doubting the existence of God.

mmm hmm. and to a keen observer this atheist is spending quite a lot of time thinking about God. would someone who really didn't give a shit about God relate tapeworms to God?

here an atheist site gives the main reasons ppl become atheists:

1) contact with other religions. this doesn't make sense though. if the other one was persuasive, they'd convert not become an atheist.

2) bad experiences with religion

3) b/c of science, no longer need religion -- except religion's are full of *moral* content, so anyone replacing religion with science is totally fucked.

4) idiotic, entirely misconceived philosophical arguments

and 5) atheism, they claim, is the default position b/c ppl aren't born believing in God. this is no good. by that logic not walking is the default. any sense in which not walking is the "default" is a rather pointless sense though, huh? babies have no position on theism b/c they aren't even aware of it yet. better to look at an adult who has chosen theism or atheism. among adults, who have chosen, neither position can be sensibly called the "default" and given automatic priority, nor can the burden of proof be put on the other side b/c of some default status. sorry, no good, it just begs the question.


Why are you an theist?

someone starts to answer: "What caused me to reject not only religion, but also belief in the existence of any gods?"

down a little more they admit many atheists think atheism=rationality and theism=irationality.

and ok i'm bored with this.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (4)

Criticism Scary?

Criticism is scary because:

Even with a very good structure, there are some costs to changing one's theories (effort. but the point is it's not automatic). And with an average structure and a load of hangups, for all sorts of topics, the costs are quite high.

Criticism is scary when you do not have confidence that you will be able to fix your theories (due to being attached to them).

Maybe it's easier to see the other way around: the reason criticism doesn't scare me is if some of my theories are bad, I will simply change them. So the criticism, even if it's true when given, won't be for very long. It's just a tool to become better.

Also, if I don't change my theories because I don't understand the criticism, I won't feel bad. I wouldn't even know if the criticism was true. But people with less confidence, who trust in appeals to authority, might have trouble with that situation.

Also, even if you are told some of your theories are bad, and the criticism makes sense to you, and you find yourself unable to change them (yet -- of course you always might figure it out later). It doesn't rationally follow that you must feel bad about this, or be coerced. But suffice it to say that's quite a common response today.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Cultural Relativism

a friend had a philosophy class 2day (at UC Berkeley). i snuck in out of curiosity. omg!

the teacher talked for like 2 hours about a 10 page section in the book that i skimmed in 20min while listening. and one girl raised her had to ask how you could say that nazi death camps were worse than interning japanese. another guy asked how can their be objective truth if we might all be hallucinating? (ummm, then the objective truth is we are all hallucinating. duh. any question of the form "What's the objective truth of the matter if X?" is easily answered by "X, duh")

and apparently some time after i stopped listening (had manga), the teacher endorsed individual relativism (the topic had been cultural relativism, which she did not endorse. presumably b/c it meant she couldn't criticise israel)

the entire piece on cultural relativism in the book was basically 1) explains what it is 2) explains some reason you might be uncomfortable adopting it. nothing on truth or falsity. also seemed to endorse a quotation saying everyone thinks their own society is the best (which is obviously false. immigrants. and ummm anti-American protestors in america too)

also the teacher said if anything was a moral imperative, it was saving a baby on the street drowning in a puddle. she gave no reason why. just thought it was obvious.

she also asked some questions that revealed her view of taxes was something like: what's the best way to redistribute wealth?

for a decent argument against cultural relativism, try:

People immigrate. And not randomly. There are some countries that many people think are great, and wish to move to. While others have almost no immigrants. How can a cultural relativist explain this? (Answer: His theory can't account for this very well, thus making it a bad explanation of reality.)

A friend suggests cultural relativists might say people go to get jobs.

That one's easy. It implies jobs are better than no jobs. Thus cultures that create enough jobs are better than ones that don't.

My friend says they will say jobs are not better. Umm, yeah. But then why do people want them more than no jobs? I suppose it must be because people like money. But wait, wouldn't that make cultures that create more money better? etc etc cultural relativists are dumb.

anyway, after that i bought a book on munchkin gaming. it's amusing ^^ one good joke is:

player: alright, i wanna cast a fireball on the orcs
DM: you're mixed in with the orcs. it'll hit you too.
player: that's ok, i have an amulet of fire resistance.
DM: it will still kill the other players
player: ohhh ... so do I get experience for them?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

skool is evil

there's something else i forgot to mention. it's so normal it just doesn't stand out in memory very well.

20 minutes into class. the teacher has said about 5 sentences of content. she's written each one on the chalkboard. I look around. Everyone was taking notes. Everyone. (2 ppl or so i couldn't tell. has to be over 9/10 though)

the teacher writes worthless crap on the board. they copy it down. copy. maybe a few weren't copying, but the general note taking strategy is to copy everything. not understand it, and jot down a couple memory-triggers. not put the arguments in ur own words (ie, as u understand them). not figure out which parts are important and just write those. but just plain copy down everything.

it's horrid

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

bush died; i lied

on the one hand, Bush gets accused of doing nothing before 9/11.

on the other, he gets accused of planning from the very beginning to change foreign policy and/or invade iraq and/or support preemption.

ho hum.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

sociobiology is worse than rape -- a proof

Fun With Sophistry

curi: ok you can't rape an animal, right?
curi2: yeah
curi: ok, so if you dehumanise someone enough, in your mind, you can't rape him
curi2: yeah
curi: so, dehumanising people must be worse than rape, because it's as bad as rape *plus* you think of the person as less than human.
curi2: yeah
curi: the theory that people behave like animals, controlled by their genes (sociobiology) is dehumanising
curi2: sure
curi: therefore sociobiology is WORSE THAN RAPE
curi2: brilliant deduction!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

I Don't Feel Like Waiting Until Monday

Jack is very late for first date with Jill. Bob runs into Jill. They chat a little, then Jack shows up. Bob says something nasty to Jack about being late so that Jill will defend Jack. Jill does defend Jack, and they are both mad at Bob, but go on their date and quickly forget about him.

Two points:

1) if Bob did this intentionally to deflect Jill's anger so the date would be more fun, it's entirely different from if Bob is just a jackass who's mean to everyone in sight, even though it's the exact same physical action.

2) Bob does something apparently nasty, and must pretend to mean it for it to work (until the next day, when he could explain if they are still mad at him), but it seems to me a good thing to do.

BTW this situation is from the anime Kare Kano (His and Her Circumstances) which I quite like.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


Isyn: When you said "a friend" in that blog entry, was it Jack?
curi: *flat voice* I don't wanna answer that.
Isyn: So it *was* Jack?
curi: No. Shut up.
Isyn: Aha. So it was Bill then?
curi: *sounding distressed* Stop it. This is private.
Isyn: Private, eh? That means it must have been a girl. Was it Jill?
curi: No. Erm, I mean, that's none of your business.
Isyn: Not Jill. OK, that only leaves Karen.
curi: *blush* No!
Isyn: I see your face. It was totally Karen. You can't hide it.
curi: *sigh* Please don't tell anyone.

I watched a Dawson's Creek episode yesterday (1x06) with a Truth Or Dare game that was much worse. But this doesn't just happen on TV. It's quite common. Perhaps usually more subtle, but sometimes not even.


99/100 rape cases don't involve physical force.

Rape is non-consentual sex where the rapist should reasonably have been aware that there wasn't consent. So if a girl says no weakly a few times ... well there's a fairly common things where girls say no and mean yes. But it's also fairly common to say no and mean no. All the later cases constitute rape (albeit not nearly so bad as the physical force variety).

How do these non-physical-force rapes happen?

Girl says no. guy says yes. girl says no again. guy says yes again. girl says no again. guy says yes again. and someone runs out of arguments, confidence, assertiveness, willpower, or whatever, and can't keep it up. (each "yes" or "no" isn't just literally the word, but rather something that means it, from a 3 paragraph argument to a look).

The form of this interaction is not specific to sex. Another situation it works with is telling a secret. Secret-holder says no. Secret-wanter says yes. etc Then someone gives in.

Forcing a secret out of someone like this is, out of the context of our society, morally equivalent to rape (the non-physical-force variety). (In the context of our society, people are better at coping with their secrets getting out than with sex, so the sex tends to be worse. But we could imagine a society where the are equally bad, or sex is less bad.)


I've observed that something really ingrained in the TCS culture is when people say "nevermind" the subject tends to get dropped. Outside TCS culture, IME (in my experience), it rarely gets dropped at the first nevermind. Saying nevermind often seems to even make people *more* curious and insistent.

Does this nevermind thing matter? What does it mean?

I think we could reasonably say it's the difference between being a rapist or not.


Rape is when you actually get the sex or secret or whatever out of the person. But also: the more times the person says no, and you ask again, the closer you get.

it's often quite subtle. i'm assertive. i could refuse sex easily. but sometimes i don't want to explain something or talk about something and i *don't* say "i don't wanna talk about that". it's not always so easy. usually i will say nevermind, or not answer. sometimes change subject. (saying "i don't wanna talk about that" has a pretty good success rate when you can say it, but isn't at all foolproof. you might just be asked "Why?" among other things.)

these are easy to do the first time. they tend to get a bit harder to do repeatedly though. it's awkward to say "nevermind" three times in a row, when you know perfectly well it's not answering the person's questions (which may keep varying a bit, or ask about meta issues, or all sorts of things).

you may feel unspoken pressure to be friendly or not be rude. or that might even be explicit. you may care about the other person, and want to make friends or be nice. it might be your boss who you can't offend. it might be your friend's friend, who your friend wants you to get along with. there are many sorts of pressures to make this difficult.

Anyway, this is a serious moral issue that our society doesn't really acknowledge even exists.

Oh, and to return to the start, the dialog is, as you've probably figured out, an example meant to be morally equivalent to rape sans context. (less harmful in our society, but still quite a big deal)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


Things you contradict you do not endorse.
Things you endorse you do not contradict.

When people write they mention all sorts of things, but are usually only trying to express a few things. I call these things they mean to communicate the substance or main point(s) or the thrust or gist. So, when I say something is the main point, that does not mean it's objectively more fundamental, it simply means it's what the speaker's main point is.

there are two rivals approaches to human interaction that I want to discuss. to illustrate, I'll use Caeli and Isyn.

First, here's:

Caeli's Description Of Both Styles

Caeli, when presented with some theory, first tries to find truth or value in it. She skims over mistakes to try to get the complete idea. And if the idea seems right to her, she doesn't care how many premises are messed up.

Isyn believes that if a theory is criticised, and the criticism is true, then the theory is refuted. He doesn't want to waste his time on false theories, so he always looks for errors. If he sees any, that's that. The theory is false. If he doesn't find errors on the first pass, then he'll evaluate the merit of the theory.

Caeli believes theories are not simply true or false, but rather they are truer or less true. She knows that all progress in human knowledge can be thought of as going from one misconception to another less misconceived one. And so it doesn't seem important to her if a theory has errors, as long as they don't entirely ruin what's being proposed. One common example is statements of the form, "X because Y" where Y seems to be false. Caeli would ignore Y, and consider whether X had merit. Just because the person presenting the theory explicitly claims X has something to do with Y, doesn't mean they actually need to be considered together.

Isyn doesn't want to endorse errors. So he contradicts them. He certainly doesn't want to add errors to his worldview, so he won't add theories with errors in them. When he argues, you can't persuade him if he can find any errors in your suggestion. Even if you find some flaws in his current view, he will sooner take no stance than adopt your faulty new idea.

When you talk to Caeli about one of your new ideas, you generally find yourself discussing just the ideas you were interested in. On the occassions where Caeli insists on going over some side point, Caeli always does it to explain something you will find interesting and relevant. You can make all the errors you want while expressing yourself. From grammar and clumsy terminology, that she doesn't think is best, to appealing to blatantly false theories because they were the best way you could think of immediately to explain what you wanted to, or even because you don't know they're false. Caeli thinks of "not best" as "less true" and won't contradict unless it seems very urgent.

Isyn believes his worldview has no known flaws. Sure, he's fallible, but he's reconciled his worldview with every criticism he's ever encountered. He considers ideas different from his to be criticism, and so discussions with him always revolve around who should change his view to match the other's.

Caeli only criticses your suggestions when she believes you will enjoy the criticism. Usually this is when she believes the criticism is very important to understanding the issue being discussed better, but if she knows you well, she can judge what side issues you will like to hear about also.

Isyn believes everyone either wants to improve *all* their views, or ought to. He doesn't really care about bad people (those who ought to, but don't, want to improve all their views). And so Isyn believes criticism on any subject where you're wrong will help you, unless you are bad.

Caeli looks for ways to improve the ideas you suggest to her. Isyn doesn't bother if he sees any flaws, unless he happens to be in a mood where doing so seems entertaining.

When you argue with Isyn, you almost never discuss what you wanted to. First you argue over terminology and semantics. If yours are different than his, he will not understand what you're talking about, and will only hear what he sees as your semantic misconceptions. And he won't try your semantics out unless you can win that argument with him.

Caeli you don't even have to ask. If you say something she finds strange, she will just quietly find an interpretation that seems to be what you meant. If she can't understand, then she'll ask you to explain what you mean further.

If Isyn can't understand, he'll tell you you don't make sense, and you're therefore wrong.

Next, to argue with Isyn, you have to go over every last premise you give until he's satisfied with them. You might be tempted to not bother with premises, but then Isyn will ask why he ought to think your idea is true. If you say it is just an attempt to explain some part of reality, and its explanatory power seems to you to speak for itself (but only when used...), Isyn will think you're begging the question (assuming your conclusion is right, an invalid way to argue).

Even if you do get the topic to your main point, you won't stay there. First Isyn will tell you every reason that comes to his mind that you're wrong. Then when you defend each criticism, he will tell you every reason that each one of your defenses is wrong. And when you defend those criticisms, he will criticise your newest set of defenses. And so on. This has quite a possibility of continuing on long past the original topic being forgotten. Only when Isyn runs out of criticism at every level will he finally look at the merits of your suggestion.

Isyn is easily distracted. All topics seem to him about equally interesting. When the subject changes, he hardly notices.

Caeli notices when discussions drift, and often tries to bring them back. She knows that arguments thrice removed don't actually have much bearing on what's at issue. Because their relation is as the foundations, or the premises. Such things don't actually exist though. Caeli follows Popper in thinking we don't need verification of our theories (arguments that they are true). And not only that, but we cannot get verification anyway. So no matter how many reasons X is true are refuted ... well X never needed any in the first place. We only give them because it's a good way to explain what we mean by X better.

Isyn gets bored quickly talking to anyone not like Isyn, because, as he sees it, if they don't have the same interest in true theories, they're kinda useless anyway.

Caeli only gets bored talking to people like Isyn, because he rarely says anything she enjoys, and makes Caeli explain all sorts of things that neither of them cares about much (When Isyn offers fifty criticisms, and you defend 48, he won't care about those defenses (except to find flaws in them), and will instead focus on the two criticisms still standing.)

When someone mentions tons of wrong things, caeli tries to ignore it. when caeli understands the substance, and considers it importantly flawed, she is willing to criticise. and also, if someone mentions all sorts of right things, and generally seems brilliant, but then messes up the substance, caeli will be equally willing to criticise it. if someone like Isyn (but a little less extreme) encountered these two situations, he would find the first person mostly/almost-entirely wrong, and the second mostly right.


Isyn's Rebuttal

Caeli forgot to capitalise her name once, thus her theory is false. QED

That's a joke, but you wouldn't know from the way Caeli describes Isyn.

Anyway, there are lots of idiots in the world. Lots. And bad ideas outnumber idiots a hundred to one (more actually). If Caeli really gives every idiot, complete with his hundred bad ideas, a serious hearing, trying to make sense of his crap instead of point out it sucks and move on, well where did she find time to write anything? Seriously, you *can't* give *everyone* that much opportunity to babble at you, or you'll die of old age before you hear three good ideas.

Isyn's approach is to listen until it's clear the guy is dumb, then give him a few reasons he's dumb. If he has some good responses to them, then he's interesting, so Isyn will chat more. If he has crappy responses to the first wave of criticism, then bye. he's done. not wasting any more time. this very first screening actually gets rid of nine out of ten idiots, thus saving tons of time for the people actually worth talking to.

Caeli thinks Isyn just throws criticisms out there, but learns nothing from the ones that are refuted. This isn't true at all. Just because Isyn is smart enough to think of lots of criticism, and smart enough to come up with new ones when some of his fail, and smart enough to find flaws in defenses of criticisms ... well why on earth should that mean when some of his criticisms do fail, he just erases that from memory? Of course he keeps careful track, and won't use the same failed criticism again unless he comes up with an improvement.

Caeli says Isyn strays off topic down long chains of criticism never to return. That's not true. Isyn keeps careful track of what criticisms are pending with regard to what proposed theories. If the people he's talking to can't remember, and can't be bothered to reread (Isyn generally converses in text...) things they forget, and can't keep track of what they are proposing is true, then fuck them, they aren't taking the conversation seriously enough.

Caeli says Isyn doesn't notice topic changes. Well, it's true he doesn't make a big deal about them, and they don't bother him, but he does notice. It's just that Isyn finds almost everything interesting.

Caeli's approach, on the other hand, is seriously flawed. She isn't careful to avoid adopting false ideas. She isn't very discerning about what she finds persuasive. She doesn't aggressively hunt down even her own flaws to correct them. And she certainly isn't helpful enough to find other people's flaws for them. Who would want to talk with her, if all she ever says is that your ideas are pretty nice, although not the best? That's boring. She should point out the flaws she sees, and if she sees none, then be bold and take a stance that the idea is good.

When people are half wrong, they ought to fix their view. Isyn wants to help them do that, and knows good people will be grateful. Caeli, on the other hand, will focus on the little bit the guy gets right, and praise him, and then he'll never improve.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

physical attraction

when you're born, you aren't physically attracted to anyone.

to be physically attracted to someone, requires some theories about why that person is physically attractive.

we learn these as we grow up. we figure out why certain things are physically attractive.

most guys seem to be physically attracted to woman of all races (at least in movies and in California). even though they look totally different. and also, if they saw a woman of a new race (still human), they would see her as physically attractive right away. (assume she's not fat or ugly)

this means the guys are physically attracted to some qualities common to all women. so, they see these qualities in the new girl, and the racial differences don't change them, so she's hot.

obvious candidate qualities include: breasts, ass, pussy, height, hair style (women of diff races can have same hair style, to a large extent), being skinny, and anyway you get the idea.

what if someone was not quite so indoctrinated as to find anything human shaped with breasts automatically hot?

well, for one thing he would focus on personality more. but lets ignore that. lets say he grows up around only white people. probably, he will find at least some of them hot. but for his own reasons.

now, say he meets some asians. it's totally possible the reasons he found the white people hot will be something asians are physically different about.

for example, if you were making up hotness criteria on your own, you might end up finding certain face types hot. asian faces look a bit different than white ones. it may seem subtle, but it wouldn't if you were really focussed on it.

after some time, our test subject could create some theories about asians being hot too, and become attracted to asians. but these would likely be something exclusive to asians (because if whites had them, he already would have theories about them).

and then if he met some blacks, but they aren't attractive at first. etc

i wonder if this person would be accused of racism. i wonder how many people warp their views on what's physically attractive to avoid being "racist". and i wonder how much sense it makes to find something everyone has very attractive.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (8)


If you're worried that attraction for reasons we create is arbitrary and therefore meaningless:

We created the rules of chess. And of all sports and games. But they are not a waste of time, nor meaningless.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Den Beste Criticism


Please don't waste your time trying to talk me out of my atheism. You won't do it. Believe me, I've heard all the arguments before.

I've always felt that it was rude and presumptuous for someone to try to convert someone else who has strong convictions unless they ask for help and guidance. (And I definitely do not want any.)

ummm, lessee. he says his atheism is immune to criticsm. he claims to know all arguments that exist against atheism.

is it presumptuous to criticise someone with strong convictions? more like the reverse. it's presumptuous to think you're so perfect that no one has any useful criticism of you.

I do understand that he gets lots of mail and it makes sense to try and get less mail on a subject where the mail tends to be really bad. But why doesn't he write, "If I don't know you, please don't send me email about atheism. I won't read it because I'm busy with other stuff."? Instead he goes off saying all sorts of crap and never even mentions this. In fact, this defense of his position may not be true. Maybe he skims all his email and doesn't mind the time -- enjoys doing it. We don't know.

Den Beste asks If I suffer amnesia, did I die?

This is a question of the form: if word 1, then does that mean word 2?

This is semantics.

I can divine what issues he's confused about from this question. But from almost everyone he'd get much better quality responses if he managed not to ask about semantics. Because a respondent needs to be |337 (elite) enough to totally ignore his explicit question (and probably explain why when Den Beste tries to insist on discussing semantics).

The issue he's actually interested in is what is important about a person. The answer is his worldview. Amnesia thus destroys the person if it's permanent. If it's potentially temporary, then the information is still there, and we could say the worldview is in stasis or something like that.

Notice i didn't mention death. Because death is strongly associated with bodies. It'd be standard to say someone who had amnesia did not die. What happened to him? Amnesia, which is equivalent to destruction of what's important about him, but not his body. Notice how this paragraph is really boring and pretty damn useless WRT his question. That's b/c it talks about semantics.

PS I criticise Den Beste in particular not because it's the dumbest thing I ran into lately. Rather, because his blog is one of the best. So the ideas ought to be more interesting to people with |337 worldviews than if I pointed out, again, why headlines like "Israel Puts An Explosive Stop To Peace By Blowing People Up" are wicked. You can always go read LGF anyway.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


this is a draft i wrote a few hours ago. if i were to write it again, i'd change lots of stuff. i consider it flawed. however, i think most of the improvements i'd make wouldn't really make the ideas much more interesting. i'll get more right next time. *shrug*

Christians generally don't argue very well explicitly. From all their "scientific" evidence against evolution, to resorting to defending the existence of God by appeal to faith. From thinking that beatings can teach people, and often thus not being interested in coming up with arguments to use on that set of people who should be beaten, to appealing to the authority of priests, God, or holy books. From "you can't prove God doesn't exist" to "we hold these truths *self-evident*". (If you think any of these are done by, say, less than 20% of US Christians, lemme know.)

However, despite all this, these people have a lot of good, true ideas to offer, especially with regard to morality. The Christian tradition has 2,000 years of monotheism ("One God from Whom comes morality" they might say. But the key is they believe there exists is only one morality for all people.)

Now, combine good, valuable ideas with bad arguing. Who learns these ideas from them? Only people who want to. And it's not a matter of just deciding you'd like to know what they do, and reading a few books. The only known way to reliably learn these things is to identify with the tradition, and to honestly enjoy it. And then, one day, after sufficient interaction, most of their claims that they treat as manifest truth, will *feel* true to you, even though they were never *argued* persuasively to you.

Anyone who did this, who really cared about the Christian tradition, would not want to identify themselves as an atheist. (This is why it's hard to find many people who call themselves atheists in the US.) People who do call themselves atheists either oppose the Christian tradition (learned and then rejected the stuff), or are ignorant of it.

And that's why atheists are frowned on so much. Wicked or ignorant, take your pick.

You can read Samizdata and USS Clueless until your eyes fall out, but the moral content won't be there. Do they *ever* assert that we are the good guys, or that certain people are the bad guys? Nah, that's simplisme. On the other hand, if you read IMAO or Scrappleface or The Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler, you will find moral claims (albeit unargued) all over the place. And for members of the tradition, who understand why these claims are considered true, that the arguments aren't repeated everytime simply doesn't matter.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (7)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Food For Thought

Take two IMAO fans. They are right-wing, hate commies, etc

One is a former socialist, the other was raised right-wing. Who understands socialism better? Probably the former socialist. He's also more likly to have commie sympathies, but that's another issue.

The point is being a former-X generally means having a pretty good understanding of X. Because actually being X usually means understanding it well.

Now, imagine someone who was a former everything. Every important tradition, he's either a former or current member.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (11)

Anger Bad (Cause David Earned Forgiveness Goddammit)

I like composing on AIM.

curi42 (1:40:05 AM): if sum1 gets angry at u (wants to hurt u) then in future interactions u spend creativity trying to avoid this happening again. this creativity doesn't go to progress. and with avg ppl in our society, for just one or two instances of anger, we're talking a large proportion of all the creativity going to the interaction.
curi42 (1:41:52 AM): but that's not the only drain! even if someone has never been mad at you, if you know of any hangups they have (that you don't know how to fix), you get to spend creativity skirting them. any sort of potential meanness or immorality too.
curi42 (1:42:31 AM): this includes things as subtle as if you mention X, person will ask followup questions probably including something about Y, which will be awkward, because either for your own reasons "nevermind" would be hard to say, or b/c person won't stop pushing there.
curi42 (1:43:07 AM): almost all of this work is done inexplicitly. it just comes out as feelings of being uncomfortable with a potential action.
curi42 (1:44:06 AM): in some cases, for example socially akward situations where speaking would be a good idea, this is even known to manifest itself as being at a total loss for words
curi42 (1:45:21 AM): for most of these issues, absolutely the last way to fix it would be to sit in a circle and reveal your most private feelings on the matter. if that was gonna happen, it would only make people far more cautious to avoid issues they aren't comfortable with coming up at all (and thus progress on them happening)
curi42 (1:46:09 AM): but aside from the honesty and caring lefty solution, this problem is barely acknowledged to exist and no solutions are proffered.

to clarify, "absolutely the last way to fix it would be to sit in a circle..." isn't just a huge understatement. doing this would not only not fix it, but would hurt things.

also to clarify, the lefty example is just one example chosen b/c i don't like circle types. the point b4 is general.

PS if the title confuses u, look at the capital letters

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


was just in an argument with people who think the value of money in the hands of hungry people is more than the value of that money in the hands of rich people. and who think foodstamps are better than monetary charity. they seem to imagine all their charity cases as having American values and being fairly moral people. except people like that don't end up starving. the vast vast majority of starving ppl suck and use resources very badly.

Imagine a man who spends his days trying to get a chance to rape his neighbor's wife or steal something. At dinner, he serves himself first, as much as he likes. Sometimes he takes all the food. His family splits the rest. Half the time he doesn't finish what he takes, and then throws it away. If he catches anyone trying to take his food from the trash, he beats them. Even if he doesn't, he beats his family regularly anyway.

The wife is submissive, uncreative, and supports her husband. She thinks he is a great man and doesn't feel mistreated.

The children will grow up to be just like their parents.

Do you want to give this family charity?

And imagine they get some. It goes to the father buying whores and booze and maybe the odd donation to a nice charity like Hamas.

But that's why it's foodstamps not money, you say?

Well, if the foodstamps provide less or equal food to the current budget, then they just buy that much less, and preso chango the foodstamps are just like money.

What if they foodstamps provide more food than they currently buy? Well first off they stop buying their own food and get that money. Then they could sell the extra, or just throw it out if it's not very much. Or maybe, just maybe, the male kids will get to eat it. Even if they do, how did that help anything? They grow up big and strong to better beat their families and sap Western resources.

BTW it's not hard to imagine people much worse than the ones I described.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

IMAO good


No moral compass points exactly perfectly straight. We all have some flaws. And also, we all have somewhat *different* sets of flaws.

So when you write about what you're best at, it will help a lot of your readers to improve, and straighten their moral compasses. This applies even if they don't notice, and even if you don't notice.

So know you have done and are doing good, and feel proud.

Posted on IMAO in this thread

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


this is amusing. It states you must be 18 to use their service, and also states they do not discriminate on the basis of age.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Information, Alcohol, Genes

Alcohol cannot have complex effects on human personalities. Just the same as banging your head. Why? Well, the alcohol we drink is one fairly simple molecule. It doesn't have information about human personalities, and thus couldn't target parts of one. And it's not evolved in that regard (no selection pressure).

But couldn't it just happen to be the right thing to have one specific effect?

Well, first off, now you're explaining things by "maybe the world just happens, by luck, to be just the way I thought it was."

And secondly, if it only takes something as simple as alcohol (the molecule isn't many thousands of atoms, just a few) to make people more liable to cheat on their girlfriends, then why haven't we yet designed a chemical to make people act more chaste?

Thirdly, people are very different, and store information in their brains differently. They vary so much as to confuse scientists, so what are the chances a plant happened to grow in a way to work on everyone (including past people, even).


Genes also lack the information to complexly effect one's personality.

Genes also never got a chance to evolve this ability, because once people had personalities and there were selection pressures on them, memes, which evolve much faster, would always do it first thus removing the selection pressure.

And again, it would be quite a huge feat of luck for some gene to just happen to have the right qualities to effect the personalities of many different people.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (27)

bloody money-obsessed, value-less left

ok so disney wouldn't distribute moore's movie. said it was un-patriotic. didn't want it.

now it makes money. the lefty news seems to think disney is now mad about missing out on the cash. *ahem*

but it gets worse. they allege the movie is being censored (via an R rating) by angry disney stock owners. who, they implied, were mad for financial reasons.

in other words, the LEFT is so hell-bent on looking at things through the lens of money, that when people do something on principle, they can't see it. and say incoherent things (getting the unfair rating would have had to happen b4 the film made any money.... makes much more sense they censored it b/c they don't like it) when they explanation the right did something bad on principle works so much better (still bad, but much better).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


insurance is the exact opposite of gambling, and vice versa

most people think the primary thing about gambling is that overall the casino takes a little of your money. this is true, but not primary.

insurance companies also take a little of your money. but that's ok. insurance is great anyway. most services charge you, so we can't judge gambling that simply.

what insurance does is take a little money from you most of the time (in most universes), but give you a bunch now and then (in a few universes) when (where) you need it most b/c disaster struck. this is great, because it allows you to have a higher minimum quality of life, which is worth the fee, and worth somewhat lowering your max quality of life.

gambling, on the other hand, takes money from you most of the time (in most universes), and gives a large pay out rarely (in a few universes). the basic effect is to make most of your life worse (most universes), but create a few spikes of huge wealth (in a few universes). this is the exact opposite effect that insurance had. this raises the maximum qualify of life you may experience, but at a cost to the minimum.

BTW this mostly applies to gambling that's either high-stakes that you only do a couple times, or to stuff with a very low chance of payout (lottery, maybe slots too, not sure). if you were placing lots of small bets at 49% odds, the effect of gambling would be very minimal, as your luck would almost always average out even within a single gambling session. (so all you'd really be doing is paying the fee to not do much of anything)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (13)


when you buy perishable food, you sometimes won't be in the mood to eat it before it goes bad.

when you serve yourself a plate of food, you will sometimes put too little on the plate and get seconds. so too will you sometimes put on too much and throw the excess out.

when you cook, sometimes you will mess up, and the food will turn out gross.

some food you buy just won't be very good quality (like some fruit that turns out mushy or not sweet)

sometimes you won't read the labels closely enough, and will buy the wrong food by accident

sometimes you will make food for someone else, but because of miscommunication it won't be wanted.

sometimes you will start to cook some food, then change your mind about what you want to eat.

when you buy more than a bite of something new, you may not like it, and would thus throw most of it out.

the error rate on all these things goes down with skill. thus younger people, esp young children, tend to have a higher rate of throwing food out.

this is all to be expected. you shouldn't be upset in the slightest if 10% of the food you buy isn't eaten. more if you are young, or have young children, or have many children.

and none of these things qualify as "wasting" food.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

damn clueless everyone

I previously wrote: lefties think the reason that capitalism creates wealth is that people are inherently greedy (which is why in socialism (aka 100% taxes) people wouldn't all want to do their share). this is how they get the idea that socialism is the right idea, but we need a little bit of capitalism to better make stuff. (ie, to better harness people's greed)

To add to that, it's no wonder many lefties think this when right-wingers still think it too!

A friend told me this realisation, that many pro-capitalism folks concede socialism's moral case, and argue on pragmatic grounds, is why Ayn Rand became a writer (to make said moral case for capitalism). Kinda makes me wanna read her.

Under socialism, aka a Command Economy, people don't control what they make. Rather, it's taken from them, and given to a few leaders for redistribution. Everyone is then given wealth as the leaders deem fit. The moral case against this goes something like: MY FUCKING GOD, WHO WOULD WANT TO GIVE ALL HIS STUFF AWAY AND LET SOMEONE ELSE RULE HIS LIFE?

Under capitalism, aka Let It Be economics, when you make something, you own it, to do with as you see fit. Whatever you create is yours, whatever someone else creates is not yours. Thus everyone is respected as individuals competent to make their own decisions with their stuff. There are no rulers. The moral case for this goes something like: D00D, YOU GET TO BE FREE!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

mmmm steak

When you cook a steak, the blood that drips out is yummy. some people call it juice, but i think it's more enjoyable when you drop the euphemism.

Steak at $2.50 / lb. is a miracle of capitalism.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Disney Rocks

Just watched Stuck In The Suburbs. Typical Disney movie. Simple plot, happy ending. Upbeat themes. Kind to children. Some moral themes that they get about right. Happy people succeeding. Good music.

To describe the same movie from a more typical adult perspective, and also the perspective of younger people who want to be/act grown-up, which is most teens: the movie had an absurd plot where some silly teen girls get a rock star's cellphone, find out his secrets, and become friends with him. The plot was obvious from way out, the villains were retarded and incompetent, and there wasn't really any point to the movie. Yay, they met a rock star, so what? Who cares about that? There was no action.

And so it is that most movies feature conflict, strife, and tension. Unhappy people and serious problems. Without these most people get bored. But they are missing something major: sure, if something bad happens to you, it's important to confront and solve it. But most of life is not like that. You don't have to first become a victim to succeed. A good life mostly consists of just what Disney movies show: people with no particular problems succeeding at something that, though generally not very "important", they enjoy. (Or at least, the problems most people have don't pervade their life, they're just subject-specific.)

What to do when you're *not* a victim is a far more interesting and common problem than how to fight. And it's a lot harder to write about, so few people even try.

Try to think of a movie where some *parents* just have a nice time. It's not so easy. Even something like City Slickers, they all had serious problems. They were basically trying to deal with mid-life crises.

Or think about how many love stories don't make it look like the couple is about to breakup forever a couple times before the end? Or think about why love stories almost always end when the couple gets together.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (8)

more wonders of capitalism

taco bell has a sign on the wall saying if ur unhappy about ur service, or don't love the food, you can have a refund or replacement, your call.

borders let someone return a book with no receipt two years after purchase.

why does this not happen w/ a command economy? under capitalism, making customers happy helps win business from competitors. under a command economy, there are no competitors, so there's no reason to do it. and also, it's wealth redistribution (those who ask for more, get more) by some method other than the commander's Grand Plan, so philosophically an anathema to socialists.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

long log about movies

no editing. that's a feature. really!

Invisceo (6:28:11 PM): totally disagree
curi42 (6:28:34 PM): w/
Invisceo (6:28:42 PM): the reason most disney (live action) movies are uninteresting is cause there's very little content
curi42 (6:29:07 PM): they have about as much content as other movies
Invisceo (6:29:40 PM): take your cell phone rockstar movie: compare that to like the Lion King, where the runaway Lion has to do the morally responsible think and overthrow the hyenas in a violent battle to restore the circle of life
Invisceo (6:29:45 PM): i'll watch the lion king any day
Invisceo (6:30:08 PM): pedestrianism in films is a very bad phenomenon; people like to see big, epic things resolved cuz big, epic things are the most important kind of thing
curi42 (6:30:09 PM): ummm
Invisceo (6:30:30 PM): i might be misremembering lion king its been a while
Invisceo (6:30:44 PM): but i do remember some business about evil hyenas and the lion running away
Invisceo (6:30:50 PM): heh
curi42 (6:30:54 PM): lion king has song and dance, light plot, light combat
Invisceo (6:31:01 PM): sure
Invisceo (6:31:20 PM): but it still has way way more content then your cell phone movie (i'm betting, i haven't seen it but i am going by your description)
curi42 (6:31:33 PM): how are you determining this?
Invisceo (6:32:08 PM): because there's important stuff that actually gets resolved through dramatic action on the part of the protagonists
curi42 (6:32:20 PM): as to big epic things being more interesting -- one of the great things about winnign the war on terrorism, and any subsequent wars, and being done w/ them, is we won't have to think about such things if we don't want to. they only
curi42 (6:32:42 PM): seem interesting b/c today they are a necessary part of our life, and to cope w/ that many of us come to like them
curi42 (6:32:52 PM): but even so, day to day life is still a larger part of our life
curi42 (6:32:59 PM): but, oddly, the part most ppl are worst at
Invisceo (6:33:59 PM): people will still write war novels and play war games and see war movies etc long after the last rifle is put down; the analysis and simulation of conflict is a useful and interesting part of our culture
curi42 (6:34:14 PM): the last rifles hasn't even been put down
curi42 (6:34:18 PM): ever
curi42 (6:34:45 PM): one day it will be a great hobby for some people, and unknown to most
curi42 (6:35:04 PM): (unless b/c of enhanced brains we all have a billion hobbies)
Invisceo (6:35:07 PM): i doubt that
Invisceo (6:35:15 PM): our very history is defined by our wars
curi42 (6:35:23 PM): yeah but our future won't be
Invisceo (6:36:06 PM): any student of our history will have to have lots of war knowledge to be insightful though
Invisceo (6:36:26 PM): the causes of and occurences during and aftereffects following wars are just too important a part of history to be ignored
curi42 (6:36:41 PM): they won't be forever
curi42 (6:37:00 PM): and regardless, how to live day to day is a bigger part of our lives even now
Invisceo (6:38:00 PM): the fact that most people suck at day to day stuff has nothing to do with our culture's fascinating with struggle though
curi42 (6:38:13 PM): it's fine to be interested in struggle (today)
curi42 (6:38:30 PM): but it shouldn't be totally dominant
Invisceo (6:39:24 PM): well its not
curi42 (6:39:48 PM): name 3 movies targetted at adults not full of strife
Invisceo (6:39:56 PM): there's plenty of comedies and light hearted romances etc etc in our cinema culture
Invisceo (6:40:06 PM): any comedy or romantic comedy
Invisceo (6:40:22 PM): unless you're using a ridiculously overbroad definition of strife
curi42 (6:40:28 PM): ok fine. 3 *serious* movies not.
curi42 (6:40:29 PM): ..
Invisceo (6:40:32 PM): heh
Invisceo (6:40:42 PM): well erm
Invisceo (6:41:06 PM): dude
Invisceo (6:41:19 PM): if a movie is serious its dealing with some serious issue or topic, right?
Invisceo (6:41:34 PM): almost certainly involving a clash of moral theories
curi42 (6:41:36 PM): *shrug* just not a humour or unrealistic plot
Invisceo (6:41:56 PM): it sounds like you want me to name a serious movie without moral content
Invisceo (6:42:03 PM): i dunno of any
Invisceo (6:42:27 PM): strife and conflict can be wonderfully uplifting and inspiring dude
curi42 (6:42:34 PM): you can have moral theories clash w/out any violence or any sadness
Invisceo (6:42:50 PM): like there's this moment in Schindler's List where Ben Kingsley holds the list and goes "The List is Life!"
Invisceo (6:42:55 PM): that just about made me cry
Invisceo (6:43:58 PM): well i mean you can have them clash without any violence or any sadness
curi42 (6:44:00 PM): schindler's list is about what to do when you're a victim, right?
Invisceo (6:44:07 PM): but who wants to like watch you and me argue? nazis getting fried is way cooler ^_^
Invisceo (6:44:43 PM): its about a man who did just about the most moral possible thing under the most difficult circumstances that have ever existed on earth
curi42 (6:44:47 PM): almost all movies about what to do, meant for adults, are when you're a victim. most of the rest are what to do when you want to marry someone.
curi42 (6:45:06 PM): difficult circumstances make what to do clearer!
curi42 (6:45:16 PM): it's harder to figure out what to do when there is no pressing problem!
Invisceo (6:45:52 PM): the point of the movie was that a man who wasn't really what you'd call a morally pious man winds up doing this awesome and wonderful thing
Invisceo (6:46:11 PM): how you can not see the value in that is...confusing
curi42 (6:46:31 PM): i'm not saying ur kinda movie is value-less
Invisceo (6:46:37 PM): mmm
curi42 (6:46:45 PM): i'm saying it's not super godly
Invisceo (6:47:04 PM): lol
curi42 (6:47:08 PM): my type should exist, and be at least somewhat popular, if not the most popular kinda movie
Invisceo (6:47:26 PM): well i mean
curi42 (6:47:39 PM): if you think the disney cellphone movie is boring, b/c the stuff they do is not interesting enough... well can you tell me what they were supposed to do instead? i think that disney's answers to waht they should do are some of the
curi42 (6:47:59 PM): best that exist. and that there should be effort put into finding better ones
Invisceo (6:48:02 PM): i'm not saying they did the wrong thing curi
Invisceo (6:48:11 PM): i'm saying i'm not interested in the movie's *premise*, its *problem*
curi42 (6:48:12 PM): and that seeing the best we have should interest everyone interested in progress
Invisceo (6:48:17 PM): i don't give a damn what girls meet what rock stars
Invisceo (6:49:23 PM): show me George C Scott chomping on a cigar and turning the nazi divisions around, or Jim Carrey shaking his fist at a god like paternal oligarch on his flimsy sailboat though, and you've grabbed me
curi42 (6:49:33 PM): watch it as one of the rare examples of a movie that gives an open-ended situation, not defined by some pressing problem, then shows people acting well to succeed
Invisceo (6:49:44 PM): mmm
Invisceo (6:49:54 PM): well
Invisceo (6:49:56 PM): i'm thinking
Invisceo (6:50:29 PM): what's primary in my kinda movie isn't always so much the moral action but the cleverness and dedication with which the action is pursued
Invisceo (6:50:43 PM): like "man that was a brilliant strategy" or "jeez this dude really stuck it out against all odds" etc
Invisceo (6:50:56 PM): admiring competence is important too
curi42 (6:51:20 PM): how to fight better is fine, but there ought to be a growing desire here to move past that and start living well in freedom too
Invisceo (6:52:29 PM): i liked lost in translation
curi42 (6:52:41 PM): me2
curi42 (6:53:07 PM): i mentioned it in comments as one of the best movies of my type, but it's still hugely lacking
Invisceo (6:53:13 PM): heh
Invisceo (6:53:14 PM): yeah i saw
curi42 (6:53:27 PM): and is also romance themed
Invisceo (6:53:27 PM): bill murray is hysterical in it too
Invisceo (6:53:40 PM): the romance was fairly underplayed though
Invisceo (6:53:47 PM): by Hollywood standards
Invisceo (6:54:11 PM): hey if you ever want to post us discussing movies to your website feel free
Invisceo (6:54:16 PM): ;)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (13)


the "trust" destroyed by lying is expectation of *loyalty*. see The World's posts on that subject...

(alternatively, if the lying was immoral, it can also just be the person noticing you're acting badly, as with anything else immoral you might do)

thus "don't lie, it destroys trust" is lame

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (13)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

capitalism rocks

curi42 (5:49:08 PM): this scooter (4 old ppl) store was offering to help u w/ medicare claim and give it 2u free if medicare claim denied
curi42 (5:49:13 PM): v cool
curi42 (5:50:25 PM): good example of humanity of capitalism b/c medicare claim denied is like the central planners saying u don't need that.
curi42 (5:51:18 PM): these ppl who here get free scooters would b screwed under socialism
curi42 (5:58:32 PM): Actually, that's an underestimate of whose who would be screwed.
curi42 (5:59:02 PM): b/c store files claims better than individuals.
curi42 (6:02:03 PM): A critic might say that medicare is itself a socialist institution so it's only socialism that makes this good thing happen in the first place.
curi42 (6:03:36 PM): but the store policy of free scooters would work equally well w/ free market "medicare". some kinda comprensive health/aging insurance plan or whatever

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

why TCS is needed

curi42 (7:55:19 PM): Mom and Dad were a unit, and if we tried to manipulate either of them, we got punished. The punishments were always just—I reluctantly had to admit that they were fair—but they were always severe enough to be a deterrent. Pavlov would be very, very proud, I thought with a laugh.
curi42 (7:55:29 PM): sigh
curi42 (7:57:33 PM): and we know its mainstream b/c the story is about sex not parenting and popular authors avoid putting in weird controversial stuff for little reason. this is supposed to, and does, make the family more realistic and detailed
curi42 (7:57:55 PM): in a way most ppl can relate to

link to story (Warning: May not be appropriate for illiterate adults and penguins.)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Whoever You Wanna Be

Online, you are what you type. This gives you *explicit* control over every nuance of how you come across. This doesn't mean you'll know what to do with this control and how to come across anyway you like, but you can learn.

IRL, if you focus on what to say, and talk, you will be giving off all sorts of body language and not even know what you've communicated! (And even if you were very still, that would communicate something itself.)

This matters because WRT this issue, you're freer online. There are much lower costs to making choices about how you'd like to come off and changing to do it.

Some may say this allows thieves to be dishonest easier. Yup. Same people like gun control, because thieves can use guns, and crowbar control too. But the truth is tools and freedom help people, and yes helped people, who are better able to live their lives, are better able to do bad, but they are also better able to do good, and in all free societies today, far more people do good than evil.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

MEMRI is great

curi42 (3:05:19 PM): "Why do they absolve the enemies from being responsible for the backwardness of the Arab world?"
curi42 (3:05:33 PM): izzit just me, or did he concede being backward?
curi42 (3:10:16 PM): http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD75904
curi42 (3:10:39 PM): it's interesting how the bad guys seem to have more moral clarity and know who's who better tahn the idiotarians
curi42 (3:11:57 PM): if US democrats saw the conflict the way this guy does, they'd flock to our side!
curi42 (3:14:43 PM): he says that neo-liberal Arabs don't know the word "principles". he thinks the world as they want it is drab and grey. :-/
curi42 (3:15:25 PM): "As a matter of fact, some of the neo-lib Arab writers may be found to the right of Sharon, Mofaz, and Netanyahu in their hatred and disdain to Islam and Arabism."
curi42 (3:15:35 PM): thus proving we are too nice

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


In World War II, an average of 25,000 bullets were fired for each soldier killed. By Vietnam, that number had climbed to 200,000. Yet, on average, trained snipers expend only 1.3 bullets per kill. It's no wonder they are called the "most hated men on the battlefield.


25,000 made me go wow. but 200k!!

no wonder Iraq had such huge weapon's dumps.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (8)

The Crush

I just watched The Crush with Alicia Silverstone (from Clueless) and Cary Elwes (Westley from Princess Bride). Was quite good. Wasn't supposed to be (same way zombie movies aren't).

She's 14, he's 28. He rents a place in back of her parents' house. She gets a crush on him. He waffles a while, then refuses her advances because she is young. She gets upset, goes a bit crazy, ends up assaulting people, accusing him of rape, and finally is put in a mental institute (where she gets a crush on her doctor to end the movie...)

She was nuts; he was normal. He didn't do anything wrong, and once the truth came out, he was vindicated, and she was condemned. And that's that. Right?

Except, if you watch closely, it's not like that. When the girl fails, it's not graceful, and she hasn't got mechanisms to cut her losses. She should have given up on her relationship with the guy, instead of taking more extreme measures. She should have been more reluctant to involve and hurt other people (collateral damage). Those are certainly very major flaws. But they are not nearly the whole story.

The guy starts the badness and cruelness, and is very very ageist. Other people treat the girl badly, too.

Very early, she asks him what he's doing. He indicates she wouldn't understand. She insists he try, and she understands fine. He is a journalist, who's very good at researching cases, and less good at doing writeups. She edits one of his pieces, and significantly improves it. At this point he should recognise she's intelligent and stop treating her with kid gloves (he never should have made that assumption, but now it ought to be dispelled for sure). But instead he's angry! And indicates he doesn't like being shown up by a 14 year old.

It goes on. He's clearly attracted to her, but he tries to deny it. How this must frustrate her! Eventually, he tries to explain himself. He says that she is 14 and he is 28. That is his entire argument. He doesn't even know how to elaborate on why that should matter. He is nothing less than horrid.

Reasonably, he had legal fears, but never once did he mention this (even should they get along for say a year or two, breakups are kinda normal, and if she was upset then, it could be quite bad for him legally).

Reasonably, he could be worried she did not fully understand what she was getting into. But if that was his objection, he shouldn't just mention their age difference and insist they could not have a relationship. Rather, he should simply insist on a gradual progression. There are all sorts of perfectly benign, safe things they could have done together until they worked out some convergence on this issue. Examples include talking about his work, discussing writing technique, playing frisbee, researching wasps, and watching Dawson's Creek.

Reasonably, he could be worried that the relationship would be unbalanced, and that he would not like that. Because he's too busy, too scared of commitments, or just didn't like her enough. But as far as I can tell, this wasn't at all the case, and he did want her, and he did have time for her, etc

So why was he saying no? Because he was ageist. That's it. In this light, it's fairly understandable that she did not accept this answer and drop the issue. She knew she was being jerked around for no good reason, so she insisted more strongly.

Imagine you were white and asked out a black girl, and she said she didn't date white people. Alright, the best thing to do is drop it, but being a bit upset would be understandable. And if you really thought you were Meant To Be with her, you might think the only problem here is racism, and that is not your fault, so you shouldn't be rejected over it. Rather, perhaps you should get to help her fix it.

Once he decides he does not want the relationship, and puts his foot down, he is not kind to her again, all movie. Not even when being kind to her would have obviously, directly, made his own life better (he should be kind much more often than that, basically whenever they do interact and he doesn't have a compelling reason not to be, but the way he hurts himself to be cruel is very revealing). Instead he scorns her, and treats her as if she is not rational. Yes, she goes beyond the bounds of civility, but he'd already gone beyond the bounds of morality. (This isn't meant to defend some of her later, more extreme actions, but rather smaller things like stealing his photo.)

Also of note is that she is extremely competent. She steals a used condom to make her rape accusation more compelling, and puts on a good act. She escapes her parents to return to her house when they try to hide her away at a summer home. At one point she has a horse competition, and he doesn't come, which upsets her. She doesn't mope around. Rather, after it's over, she immediately finds out where he is (a business event thing) and takes a taxi to it. Walking in, she finds him and sweetly says "Hi honey" and kisses him on the cheek! Angry yelling would have gone very badly for her, but this was perfect. He was terribly embarrassed by her age, and the scene, and came off very badly to the audience (he tried to get rid of her, she tried to kiss him, he got physically forceful, she screamed a lot. He should not do that). When he tries to move, she tells his potential landlord he deals drugs. Quite effective.

In summary, she was messed up, but he was too, and I think our society is blind to his errors. Our society doesn't understand age gap relationships (or romantic ones).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

Some Stuff About Parenting

Parenting as we know it is a horrid thing.

Children are dehumanised - parent knows best. You may say the parent usually does, and that's true, but usually the child doesn't disagree with his parent. In cases of a conflict, when a child is sufficiently confident to contradict his parent, his view must be taken seriously, just like one would listen if a friend thought you were in error.

Many parents consider children like clay to be sculpted into a good adult (read: valid person). This also dehumanises children who are people now. A child has preferences of his own, and these must be taken seriously, not the preferences of some imagined future person.

Parents believe that people can't always have what they want. In practice this is a transparent excuse to deny things to one's child. In principle, it says people are doomed to unhappiness. This is not true. Through a combination of creatively solving problems so people are better able realise their intentions and wants, and creatively analysing and changing their intentions and wants to better, more realisable ones, people can be very successful. There is nothing stopping them; the limiting factor is just their skill (morality).

Parents so often treat their own desires as unquestionable, unalterable truth, and from this point of view declare their children's desires impossible. Examples include the mundane (but still important) like a parent who insists he can't stand even the sound of violence and bans many movies from his home, or a parent who hates messes and insists child meticulously clean his room (why the child should clean the mess the parent hates is unclear). Another example would be a parent who says "I will feel like a failure if you do not graduate college, so you must go." Isn't it obvious this is the parent's problem and the solution is almost certainly for the parent to get over it? (unless child doesn't mind college, in which case parent is lucky and need not address his flaw) Sadly it is not.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Some Stuff About School

Skools are a horrid place. It starts with legitimised grade falsification over discipline issues like attendance and participation, and often over being sufficiently deferential to the teacher. It continues with the implicit assumption that children must be forced to learn that comes out in the constant forced feedback to make sure students are paying attention. This takes forms like graded assignments, quizzes, and participation grades. Worse still is that teachers design tests based on what they consider important, and so one must listen to teacher to pass tests. Tests should be designed by third party certification agencies, and classes should be optional things designed to help people learn the material (only the parts they want to learn, which may or may not be what's on the test - student's decision). Much like SAT prep classes (I imagine - never been to one). Of course, there would be other classes not designed for any sort of certification, with no need for grades. By separating the issues of certification and education, schools would be able to focus on one and thus do it better. And when it became popular opinion that current certification methods hurt people (we all know no one likes tests, but few people seem to care), then new certification companies sporting new methods would spring up to compete with the testing-based ones. And people would flock to them.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

unfair medals

so in some events, like soccer, when its down to four teams or ppl, say a b c and d, it can to like this:

a beats b
c beats d
then in finals a beats c
and in bronze match, b beats d
c gets silver, b gets bronze

but look, c and b did not play each other, and had identical records, beating d and losing to a. so why should c get a higher medal? hasn't anyone noticed this?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

Game Design

I like game design quite a lot. I'm going to present one of the major problems in the field. Perhaps one of you will have a suggestion. Even if not it's still interesting.

The best computer game is Warcraft 3, so this will be my example game. It comes with a World Editor program so anyone can create their own maps.

To create a warcraft map of the RPG variety, you using the following main elements: place heroes, monsters, terrain, treasure. Create spells, quests, traps, and possibly a little AI to help the monsters use spells or fight smarter. You can also put in a city with shops and people to talk to.

Most warcraft RPGs I play are way too easy if I play with friends (multiplayer, cooperative). But, surprisingly, playing with random people we usually lose badly. The skill gap between random people and experts is huge, and directly effects survival rate.

So if I make a map of fun difficulty for me, most people will never get anywhere in it. But if it's going to be too easy for me, that's no fun and I won't make it at all.

One solution is difficulty levels. However, those involve either creating separate versions of each fight for each difficulty, or using some general function. The first plan is tons of work. The second has limited use. The simplest way, in warcraft, to set the difficulty at a stroke is to alter the amount of life the badguys have by some factor. However, this has unintended consequences, such as making spells that deal damage very good on low difficulties and bad on high ones.

My current map is too hard for unorganised (bad) players even on easy difficulty, but I can't lower life more because the badguys already die en masse to spells as they have so little life. The issue is that the monsters are threatening, and if they die fast, even really fast, idiots or novices can still die first. The fix would be making the monsters unthreatening...

It just occurred to me to try giving the heroes more life on easy mode. This may help.

BTW the reason I call these people idiots is if they just did the following they'd survive way way more:

- heal between fights
- buy replacement healing potions
- start fights together with everyone ready
- cast some spells like Ice Armor before combat
- run away if losing
- back up if all the monsters are targeting you

Designing difficulties for people who don't get any of those is really tricky...

Anyhow the real balance issue is to make maps interesting they should require some strategy to win. But then people bad at strategy lose. Most players have terrible strategy. And in a four player map, just one bad player can ruin it. So, what do ya do?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (5)

People Suck

A Conversation

curi: I think the notion that taking away freedom from people helps them by making it harder for them to make mistakes is absurd. Even if it did prevent mistakes, it wouldn't be help.

crowd: hmmm

curi: Imagine not being allowed to use computers to help you avoid breaking a computer!

crowd: Yeah!

Lone Voice from crowd: Hey, don't we help children like that?

curi: No!

crowd: Hey, he's right. Yes we do.

curi: I mean we shouldn't do that.

crowd: What!?

Lone Voice: You don't think children should have any rules or boundaries? You're nuts!

curi: I don't think we should make our children unfree.

crowd (not listening to fine points): Lynch him!!!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

stupid parents

was swimming. this kid cut swam in front of me ... so i swam around him. his father then punished him despite me insisting i was fine.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


Cartels (right word?) are illegal. They are when all the companies in an industry band together and stop competing, thus acting like a monopoly. The problem is they could raise prices and there would be no competition.

Compare this to unions, where all the workers in an industry band together to threaten companies. Why do unions work? Because they have a monopoly on the workforce -- if companies don't like the demands, too bad, there is no competition.

But unions aren't illegal like cartels. In fact, the left even worships them. I guess because the left hates business so much.

On a somewhat unrelated note, I saw a TV program crediting improved working conditions since the industrial revolution to advocates. sheesh! if the change was just advocates being listened to, then what would happen is a higher percent of budget would go to safety, and less wealth would be created. but we're hella rich today! why? because the overwhelming change was not from advocates, it was from everyone being richer and from better technology. working conditions were poor because we were poor, and there was a high demand for jobs, even bad ones. these people chose to work, and chose to send their kids to work for an extra dime. all the companies did was offer jobs people wanted.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

a similarity btwn Bush and Hitler

over the course of history, a number of ppl have stood out, and most haven't. most of these key figures helped shape the world as we know it, or at least one country. some were good people; some were mass murderers.

one thing we can say about almost all of them is that their place in history was no accident and was not random. it came from their values, and some sort of skill at something. some skill or set of values shared w/ very few ppl.

even a thug like saddam was *skilled*. and not just at beating and intimidating people. i was reading an interview of him by dan rather in Misunderestimated, and he's actually good at twisting questions too.

anyhow i conjecture that almost all major historical figures were, at least in a few ways, significantly better than avg person of the times. or another way: commoners, by and large, were common.

PS secret police based governments by a minority over a majority only last w/ the consent of the "victims"

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

pop cult

Q) give two problems with the global spread of popular culture

A) one problem is how to spread it faster, and another is how to spread it to resistant populations like Muslims.

academic A) one is it destroys the environment, and another is it forcibly suppresses local snail cooking traditions.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)


I just want to point out schools should use median grades, not mean grades. For example the grades A A A- B C have a median of A-, but a mean of B+. A B+ for getting mostly As is stupid. Or A A A A- A- C C F F can average to a C!! Fs count too much with mean grading.

On the other hand, mean grading is good at forcing children to learn what they hate most.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (8)


Propaganda is everywhere.


Mostly, we talked about school. Kendall enjoyed her classes, and for the first time, she was being challenged by her professors. Gina and I talked about our classes as well, but the difference between college and high school made our courses seem tame.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Liberals Bad!

Here's my entry in Frank's contest:

Ever try to live a good, American life and find things getting in your way? Those things are called "liberals", and they are the enemy! With this shirt you can educate people on the liberal menace: how they try to ruin our lives, recycle our trash, and stop us from killing terrorists. The shirt comes with the following defenses against liberals, which will send them running to the nearest herbal remedy shop: deodorant, reasoned arguments, and a baseball bat. (Note: deodorant and bat not included). Now buy the shirt like a good capitalist!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

liberal icons

so i was reading about MLK and ghandi today. i have the following questions:

can anyone find something persuasive that MLK would have had the same views if he was white? in other words, that he wasn't just yet another guy who wants stuff for his own group.

can anyone find a decent reason for Indian independence from Britain? i've found various damning reasons, but I'm open to there being one with merit.

can you find an argument that any of the following are false?

-MLK wanted money for poor people, and blamed black poverty on whites

- MLK advocated the ideology of victimhood

- ghandi didn't like new technology

- black people are no longer "oppressed" but are still poor. thus proving it's their own damn culture that makes them fail to create wealth that makes them poor.

- Britain's interactions with India were overwhelmingly good for India.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (24)

screw titles

At a glance, evolution and creationism are at drastic odds. One says that humans are descended from single-celled ocean creatures. The other that God created humans in approximately their current form.

Today, some argue that evolution and creationism are compatible. How can this be?

The way to argue for compatabilism is to assert that a definition of creationism, different from the common sense one, is in fact the correct one. So how are we to judge which definition is right? Let us examine the two candidate meanings of creationism.

The incompatabilist definition of creationism is that God created the world in 6 days less than 10,000 years ago, and created the animals approximately as they are today.

The compatabilist definition of creationism states: God created the world.

It may seem strange to choose between definitions when they mean different things, instead of simply assigning them different words. But ponder this question: which version of creationism should the proponents be defending, if they believe their theory is true and want to understand something through it?

There are two main things to be understood through creationism: Christianity, and physics. Thus, I propose that a bolder and scientific definition with more explanatory power would be better, and also one that matches the Bible.

Lots of explanatory power is preferable because explanations help us to understand. The incompatabilist definition says a number of things about reality, such as the age of the earth. In contrast, the compatabilist definition of creationism tells us very little; it doesn't give any details about God creating the world.

A more scientific definition is better for learning about physics because physics is concerned with scientific questions. To be scientific, a statement must be able to be criticised by observations or measurements.

Boldness is how much a statement exposes itself to criticism. Boldness is good because less bold statements are less conducive to making progress. This is because if one holds a bold theory, but is wrong, one stands the best chance of finding out his mistake and correcting it. By being exposed to criticism, bold, false ideas are best able to be replaced by better ideas.

The incompatabilist definition of creationism is partially scientific and very bold -- it would be proven false if we could show any of the following: the world is older than 10,000 years, the world was created in more or less than 6 days, or animals have changed significantly over the years. In contrast, the compatabilist definition of creationism is unscientific because no measurement or observation could possibly prove God didn't create the world. It is also less bold, because it uses vagueness to avoid being contradicted or criticised.

For creationism to help us understand Christianity, creationism must match what the Bible says about creation.

The incompatabilist definition of creationism matches the Bible very well. Someone unaware of the debate who was asked to write a book report summarising what the Bible says about creation would almost certainly say something similar. By contrast, the compatabilist definition was intentionally designed with concerns other than the scripture in mind, namely how to say something similar to the Bible without contradicting evolution. Thus it matches the Bible less well.

The incompatabilist definition has come out better on every count, and thus we shall use it.


On the incompatabilist side are arguments such as:
1) Without God, why would people act morally?
2) God created the world in 6 days, not billions of years.
3) Evolution says I came from a monkey; I didn't.

On the compatabilist side are arguments like:
4) Why can't I believe in evolution and creation?
5) Maybe God created the Big Bang then let evolution be his method of creating the world.
6) How do you know how long a day is before the sun is created? Maybe the six days God created the world in were billions of years long.

The first incompatabilist argument is a version of this argument: "If I am wrong, the world is grey and gloomy, therefore I am right." This is a fallacy because something depressing could be true.

The second argument is a claim about what creationism says. It matches our preferred definition, so it is strong for the same reasons we chose that definition.

The third argument contains a fallacy and a valid point. The valid point is that creationism says people did not come from lesser creatures, but evolution does, therefore they are in conflict. The fallacy is the implication that you should believe you didn't come from a monkey because this guy says you didn't, which is an argument from authority.

Moving on the the incompatabilist arguments, the fourth argument is ambiguous. It may mean that the arguer sees no contradiction between evolution and creation, thus they do not contradict (a fallacy -- argument from ignorance). Or it may mean that the arguer is not yet persuaded, which is no argument that he is right.

Argument five may seem reasonable, but it conflicts with our definition of creationism. It is poor for the same reasons the compatabilist definition of creationism is poor.

Argument six attacks the meaning of a day. This is very silly, because everyone, compatabilists included, live their lives as if a day is 24 hours long. For example, compatabilists show up for work on time, and do not say on Monday morning, "It's still sunday, I don't work today."

I conclude the incompatabilist position is better. Its definition of creationism is preferable, it has a strong argument behind it (that 6 days and billions of years are, in fact, different lengths of times), and no reasonable arguments for the opposing view exist.


Incompatabilist: A person who believes creationism and evolution contradict each other.

Compatabilist: A person who believes creationism and evolution do not contradict each other.

Physics: The science devoted to learning about physical reality. It contains biology, chemistry and biological evolution.

Boldness is how much a statement exposes itself to criticism.

Scientific Proposition: A proposition that can be criticised by observations or measurements.

Explanatory Power is how much something tells us (about anything).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

tetris and morality

The moral question, How To Live, is hard to answer. But it's especially hard to answer in spoken language. Many of the concepts involved are difficult to put into words. It's hard to find examples that aren't highly personal, and hard to understand for strangers. But I was just playing Tetris, and I think it will do nicely to illustrate a part of the answer.

For those who don't know, Tetris is a game of falling blocks of varied shapes, and you must choose where they fall to make them fit together into solid lines. You have to be quick to decide where to put a block because you only have a limited time before it falls.

Some people might be tempted to pause their Tetris game for every new block and calculate exactly where the best spot is. I'm sure this is possible. However, to get a good score in real time, you can't just calculate exactly what to do.

Similarly, in real life, we never have unlimited time to make a decision.

How, then, do Tetris players play, if not by calculating what choice is best? They use their intuitions. They create various patterns they are familiar with and consider good. And they set specific goals within the game and play moves designed to achieve those.

Example patterns to aim for are: higher on the edges, lower in the middle, or bumpy shapes, or flat lines. Or everything solid except one thin line to be filled in later with a single line piece for bonus points (if you clear many lines at once you get more points).

Example goals to aim for are to uncover a buried hole so it can be filled in, or to not stack more pieces over a certain feature.

So suppose we find ten people with different intuitions and have them all play 10,000 games of Tetris. We ignore the first 2,000 as just practice. During those practice games, players will learn how best to achieve their personal goals. They'll learn all the little tricks that help them get where they're trying to go. They'll learn pattern recognition and come to intuitively respond to all the common patterns.

Coming back to morality, they are learning how to get what they want.

In the later games, we will see some players are better, and some are worse. And we will see they all consistently play in certain ways which they feel are best (they were asked to try their best every game, and perhaps paid depending how well they score).

Each player represents a set of intuitions that together those intuitions are a Tetris playing strategy, and the best strategy will on average score highest. The others are doomed to mediocrity.

However, there's one more thing! I used to create holes to fill in for bonus points a lot, and if the line to fill them in didn't come for long enough, I'd lose (lines have a 1/7 chance to come, but if you play enough, sometimes you won't get one for thirty pieces). I don't do this nearly as much anymore. When I see holes like that I worry.

I used to create flat areas. They seemed less messed up. But it turns out a lot of pieces don't fit nicely onto flat, and work better on bumpy shapes.

I used to put a lot of pieces in the middle if that seemed convenient, or a bunch on the edge if that was. Didn't care which. Now I've changed this, and I go to significant lengths to stack the edges and keep the middle low.

I used to hate to bury any holes intentionally, and would put it off as long as possible, letting the holes get deeper, and sometimes getting out of it, and sometimes getting screwed. Now I do damage control early. I can recover from lots of small problems, but I can't risk any big ones if I want to score well.

So the point is, to be truly good at Tetris, one must change his intuitions, to feel that certain patterns are better, and others worse, than one originally felt. With enough changes, I've found I die much less.

And back to morality, to be truly moral, besides figuring out how to achieve what you want, like, and intend, you must also find ways to change what you want to better things. No matter how good you are at creating holes in your Tetris position in search of bonus points, or how good you are at making flat structures, you'll never be very good.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (6)

stupid biased media


Much of what Sen. John Kerry says about Iraq is consistent and reasonable. He voted for the war because, like just about everybody else, he believed that Saddam Hussein was dangerous. He criticizes it now because Hussein turns out not to have had weapons of mass destruction after all,


and because the Bush administration's handling of reconstruction has been incompetent.

Has been just fine. Attack the president on strategy, fine, but not tactics. He is privy to info you're not and advisors you're not to decide which road which supply truck should use. You *do not* know better how to plan those details. The people planning the details are not incompetent.

Had everybody known two years ago that Hussein's weapons program had fallen apart, there would have been no convincing argument for war.

Because sponsoring terrorism and killing people doesn't justify force against him...

By insisting in Friday's debate that Hussein presented a "unique threat," President Bush made himself appear blind to reality.

what, there are other identical threats? which other threat is the same? idiot.

But the question that matters in this election is: What next? Should we fight on in Iraq? Or should we leave as soon as possible -- on the theory that all this nation-building stuff is bound to fail

It's working. If you disagree, argue it.

and that winning hearts and minds among allies will boost our security more than battling Iraq's insurgents? And beyond Iraq, what is the role for preemptive war and nation-building in the next phase of the war on terrorism?

On this crucial issue, neither candidate's position is completely clear.

Of course Bush's view is clear. His strategy is to fight offense, kill the badguys wherever they may be found, and help people be free whenever we have the opportunity. He's only said this 47 times, though...

My colleague Robert D. Novak insists that a second Bush administration would cut its losses in Iraq, despite everything the president says to the contrary.

Why quote an idiot? Why propose lunatic theories w/ no argument? Bush said he will stand firm and win, remember? He said Iraq is a key battleground that we must be victorious on, remember?

The worry with Bush is that he underestimates how hard the "hard work" is:

No, the media does that. Over and over and over. The administration never has, never will. Remember this press briefing?

media: Did you overestimate how ez it would be?

ari: no

media: didn't you say it'd be a cakewalk?

ari: no, you guys said that.

media: didn't you fail to warn us it'd be hard?

ari: we warned you on 321 occassions. *lists them all*

media: shouldn't you have warned us more clearly?

ari: we feel the 321 warnings were very clear.

media: isn't it going badly because you overestimated how ez it would be?

ari: you already asked that.

media: are you sure you sent enough body armor for our troops?

ari: Bush asked all his generals if they had everything they needed and felt comfortable with the war plan and felt it would work and we would win. They all said yes. Of course we will continue to send additional supplies, but quit arguing tactics, you don't know what you're talking about.

media: isn't it a quagmire like vietnam because they are fighting back so intensely?

ari: ask me that again in 3 days after we take the capital. this is going even faster than the last gulf war. idiots.

and that's enough of that. off to take a shower. ugh.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

back, mebbe

And since he had listened to me prattle on about something I was interested in, I listened and tried to nod at the right times. -- stupid normal people, chronically self-sacrificing :-/

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Gina did some things that frustrated me beyond words -- true love

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

I want a relationship without “buts,” I thought with a sigh. Do those really exist? -- what, a slave?

btw currently reading http://www.nickscipio.com/summercamp/book3/chapter08.html (it's the source of these quotes)

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

“Might I recommend Crouch Florist?” he suggested.

“That would be fine,” I said. Crouch was the same florist where I’d bought flowers before, and I mentally chided myself for not remembering it.


umm, why should Paul remember?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

“Paul,” Kendall protested as soon as the clerk headed to the back, “I don’t need flowers.”

“But I want to get them for you.”

“Can you afford it?” she asked.

“Sure,” I said confidently.

With that, her face softened and she smiled at me. Blinking back tears, she kissed me. “You’re so wonderful,” she whispered.

“Thank you,” I said, my chest swelling with pride.

When the clerk returned with the two bouquets and told me the price, however, I almost choked. They were beautiful flowers, but Kendall had been right, they were expensive.

Kendall and Susan are worth it, I silently convinced myself.


she thinks he's wonderful for ignoring her and doing something she thinks is wrong? how are the girls "worth it" when he doesn't have to buy the flowers to continue his relationships?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

I didn’t like that about myself, and resolved to change it. -- why I like Paul. to him, morality isn't some weird, scary, philosophical notion.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

“Okay,” Susan conceded, “I’m a wealthy middle-aged woman.”

“How about, ‘you’re a wealthy beautiful woman’?” I suggested without the slightest grin.

“Doesn’t he say the nicest things?” Susan asked Kendall.

Kendall hugged my arm and nodded.


beauty beauty beauty. ppl say "it's what's on the inside that counts" but most of them don't seem to believe it.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


"First of all, let me make one thing perfectly clear: I never explain anything."


worst motto ever. it's like the opposite of mine ("Explanations for the curious"). explanations are the bestest thing ever. everything else is boring.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

“It’s double-breasted,” she explained. “Your mom said you like that style. She told me your measurements, and one of the salesmen helped me pick it out. I hope it fits.”

-- about a gift for paul, a suit. the whole idea of non-money gifts seems silly 2me tho; i can pick something out for me better than sum1 else can. here it's obvious: the suit was bought w/out even being tried on. it could have fit poorly. such behavior is inefficient.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

“Mmm hmm. We have plans for you. Nefarious plans.”

“Nefarious, huh?”

Kendall nodded.

“See?” Susan asked, indicating Kendall. “My partner in crime agrees.”


plans = sex. so my question: isn't it fucked up that they call sex a crime? yeah they aren't serious, but how is that amusing? seems perverse.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

“You need to eat something,” Kendall whispered, leaning close. “You look fine, so quit starving yourself.”

“Yes, mother,” I said sarcastically.

-- mother = nasty insult. why? b/c ppl hate parents. b/c parents r mean.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

“You are too,” I said. “I can’t imagine two more beautiful women.”

“Maybe he will get lucky after all,” Susan said quietly.

--- formula: say she's pretty, get sex. who's to blame for this stupid way to live? both men and women. which reminds me: most things feminists complain about, are caused by women as much as men.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

At that point, I had a mischievous idea.

“What’re you doing?” Kendall asked with a giggle.

“I’m taking off your dress,” I said as I lowered the zipper.

“Not here, Paul,” she said.

“Yes here.” In the mirror, Susan and I exchanged glances.

She raised her eyebrows but then smiled in agreement.

“Take off your dress,” I urged Kendall. “C’mon, I wanna see your body.”

“You will,” she said, holding up the bodice of her dress. “Soon.”

“I want to see you now.”

“But we’re in the hallway,” she said, tipsy, but not drunk enough that she automatically followed my lead.

“I want to walk to Susan’s room with you naked,” I said.

“But her room’s at the end of the hall,” Kendall protested. “What if someone comes out of their room?”

“It’s almost midnight,” I said. “No one’s gonna be in the hall.”

With a little more convincing, Kendall finally let me take off her dress.


HOW MANY TIMES DOES SHE HAVE TO SAY NO? do you know what other interaction follows this pattern? rape!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

“I’m going to make you go down on Susan, while I fuck you from behind. You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” -- make!? wtf. dom/sub is screwed up.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

“I know,” she breathed. Then she started nibbling my earlobe.

I gasped in ecstasy, assaulted from two directions at once.

--- is it just me, or do earlobes have very few nerve endings? making this kinda odd.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)


thesis of piece: israel must befriend EU or become pariah, as US power dwindles

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

curi42 (11:30:36 AM): christian: world w/out God is grey, bleak
curi42 (11:30:54 AM): european: hah! the world *is* grey, bleak. so no God.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

It’s pressure from Gina and Kendall, to spend more time with them, to give a part of yourself and to share a part of them in return. -- ur supposed to give up part of urself to have a gf? ugh. relationships and getting what you want for yourself without giving stuff up are compatible!

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

“She’s more… mature,” Susan said quietly. “She thinks about things instead of simply reacting. Gina’s impulsive. And with the pressure she’s under—the same pressure you’re all under—she might not make the best decisions.”

--- uhhh. everyone thinks. it's physically impossible to "simply react". ur brain processes inputs, figures out answer. sometimes it's fast, but you always think, and part of that thought process is: you decide how long to take for a given choice. so not only does gina think about what to do, she chooses to choose quickly. this is not being "immature" it's being immoral (she does it recklessly, making many mistakes). and she doesn't do this b/c she's under pressure. sure, that doesn't help, but she is responsible.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

“Do Gina and Kendall have that same kind of relationship?” Susan asked.

“I guess.”

“Do they really?”

“Maybe not,” I reluctantly admitted.


wtf is with ppl who just answer wrong when you ask, and you have to be like "d00d, take this seriously" or they won't. don't they care what their life is like? why don't they take it seriously all the time?

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

“It’s difficult to have a committed relationship with two people. At some point, only one of them can be the most important person in your life. ‘Most important’ is one of those dreaded superlatives—two people can’t both be ‘most.’

-- this argument is idiotic. caring about two different people (yourself, someone else) doesn't imply people not getting what they want, doom, conflict, etc. nor does it with caring about two other ppl, three others, etc it's harder with more, but not impossible. the arg about who is most presupposes there must be a conflict where whoever is "most" wins. that's not true.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

“How were your classes this morning?” I asked, hoping to steer the conversation to a more comfortable—and innocuous—subject.

ahhhhh. that subject sucks. i remember ppl would ask about it so much. gah, classes suck, teachers are evil, LETS TALK ABOUT SOMETHING ELSE. something not so parochial.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

“The grading for this project will be different,” Joska continued. “The technical quality of your drawings themselves will be fifty percent of your grade. Your peer critiques will be an additional ten percent. The remaining forty percent of your grade will consist entirely of bonus points, based on your artistic execution and attention to detail.”

---- on turn the project in day, he announces 40% of the grade is gonna be pulled out of his ass. this is not exactly rare though. bleh


“You are in competition with each of your teammates for bonus points: first place, second place, and so on,” Joska said. “First place will receive the full forty points. Second place will receive twenty points. Third place will receive ten points, and fourth place will receive no bonus points. Hopefully, most of you can do simple math, and you’ve realized that if your drawing comes in fourth, your chance for a passing grade rests entirely on the quality of your drawings and critiques.”


and then it gets much, much worse. 2nd place in the class could be getting a 2 letter grade drop now, and 3rd in the class 3, and 4th in the class 4 letter grades. that's NUTS.


“For those of you lucky enough to be on a team with only three members,” Joska continued, “you already know who came in last: they’re no longer with us.


for randomly selected people, you automatically get a higher grade. some may call this "grade falsification", but if any of you do, I'll murder you.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Where Gina made an effort to dress up, use makeup, and look nice, Faith didn’t wear makeup at all, and her clothes were usually prudish (she dressed like an eighteen-year-old Nancy Reagan). She was pretty, and she had a nice body, but she didn’t do anything to make herself look more attractive.

---- lovely, Paul thinks ill of girls who don't put on makeup to better be stared at for his pleasure.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

I didn’t like how Kendall was treating Gina—they were supposed to be friends. And I knew I’d have to confront Kendall about it, but I really didn’t want to. What had Susan said? Maintaining a relationship is work.

---- supposed to be friends? no, paul wants them to be, cause convenient for him. if kendall doesn't like gina, that's her buisness.

relationship should not be work. argh. should be u do stuff u want to, u both gain, yayness, etc instead ppl try to live out these romantic stereotypes, and the stereotypes include all sorts of crap no1 wants to do or likes, so relationships include all that crap, and become work.


I had two relationships, so I had twice the work. Sometimes, the thought of letting it all slip away was blissfully appealing.


noooooooo. don't do it paul. u gotta be VERY careful throwing things out. baby and bathwater understates it. a couple specs of golddust (with value of gold bricks) in the muddy bathwater is more like it.

also no revolutionary changes. gradual. tho i suppose romantic relationships not really compatible w/ the gradual approach (the memes disallow it).

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)

I feel like getting drunk. It’s not gonna solve our problems, but at least we don’t have to deal with them for a night. Are you up for it?”

“Abso-fucking-lutely,” I said.

--- lovely, abso-fucking-lutely lovely. this is an annoying flaw in our culture.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

We were both so drunk that our conversation had devolved into bad jokes and worse observations about life in general. I suppose we both thought we were being witty and profound, but we were probably just being idiots.

--- calling that "being idiots" shows now-paul (the storyteller) does not identify with his former, drunk self. at the time he liked the convo. it was a perfectly good convo. he's just forgotten he liked it, or doesn't care that *former* he liked it, b/c now-he doesn't like it.

this concept is important b/c most adults don't identify with their former child selves anylonger. most also think they do.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

well, lame. no more summer camp to read. now i gotta wait for next chapter, bleh

so anyhow, if there's so much (*points at posts*) to see in a couple chapters of a porn story, imagine how much is in something better, if you just know how to look.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

School Is Like Broccoli

Parents have this broccoli stuff they've decided is Good For You, and make you eat it. They don't listen when you say you prefer steak.

Schools have this Educational Method (including homework, tests, textbooks, lectures, etc) they've decided is Good For You, and they have the Right Answers (which are sometimes wrong), which are also Good For You. They make you eat it. And they sure don't offer steak.

PS you can tell textbooks are worse than real books, because when real people (not students) go to a bookstore to buy something, they don't choose a textbook.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)

Language Preferences

Google results for:

"I like girls" - 26,500
"I like men"   - 21,200
"I like women" - 13,500
"I like boys"  -  6,900

I believe this is revealing.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)

98 words

Talk about a sentence! source

The influence of example is itself prevalent; but you will probably meet with those who will particularly endeavor to corrupt and incite you to vice; because, as you may yourself perceive, your early attainment to so great a dignity is not observed without envy, and those who could not prevent your receiving that honor will secretly endeavor to diminish it, by inducing you to forfeit the good estimation of the public; thereby precipitating you into that gulf into which they had themselves fallen; in which attempt, the consideration of your youth will give them a confidence of success.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

curi42 (4:07:46 PM):
Tell me you love me
Tell me that you're mine again
Tell me you won't turn away
curi42 (4:07:53 PM): it's scary these are approximately synonymous

also scary how common such *possessive* sentiments are

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

interesting parallel

"I am wrong" is no better a contribution to an argument/discussion than "I am right" is. "I concede" is no better than "I win".

if the arguments are on the table, either everyone already knows you won/lost/whatever, or they disagree about the result, in which case telling them what it is would be dumb.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)


theory: the way normal conversations *don't* die abruptly, reveals something bad about them. it proves they include mechanisms to continue talking even when no one has anything to say! this can go on so much people have to make excuses/leave to end them.


conversation similar to relationship. once ppl decide there is one, they all of a sudden start acting differently. and there are special rules to end one.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (2)



In July, the U.N. General Assembly declared Israel's defensive fence illegal by a vote of 150 to 6. In defending Israel, America stood almost alone.

there are more than 6 countries in the West. by a bunch. therefore the West is anti-semitic.

and the rest of the world is much worse.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Message (1)

Romance Meme

i think the worst thing about the romance meme is the criteria for how ppl become romantically attracted to each other. sensible criteria on the matter seem to me things like: current closeness, impressiveness (to you, not in general), interest in person's worldview, shared interests.

one implication of my criteria is that as people became better friends, they would be more attracted to each other. another is not being attracted to someone who's worldview you know nothing about.

the actual criteria are something of a mystery to me. i know appearance is one. i know of the badboy/girl meme. i know people say they want someone "smart, funny, beautiful/hot". i know most people have different taste in friends and lovers (my criteria approximately are what people use for friendship). if anyone understands the romantic criteria better, do comment.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (3)


this post first got me interested in ARR.

Elliot Temple | Permalink | Messages (0)