Monday, December 15, 2014

Conservatism vs. Liberalism

Thinking through what Conservatism is, has brought me to the following:

(NOTE: These are American Conservatism and American Liberalism. For, it turns out that American Conservatism has much in common with Classical Liberalism.)

  • Individuality vs. Tribalism
    • Liberalism espouses the view that It Takes a Village. While it is true that community is important, it never should become more important than the individual responsibilities and freedoms. Of course, there are limits. One cannot be free to injure the community to satisfy one's desires. But, barring injury to the community as a whole or to individuals, an individual's desires should trump one's community.
  • Self-Defense vs. Accommodation
    • The end result of Liberalism's horrific reaction to individual self-defense is the view that one should not aggressively defend against the primary aggressor. This started out as telling folk to just give in to robbery. It has progressed to the point that in a home invasion, even when life and limb are in jeopardy, one should always retreat. The true sickness of this world-view is that it treats the criminal as the victim -- as if they are righting some wrong. While vigilantism is generally considered wrong (although a delicious wrong -- just watch the Death Wish series), individuals should be allowed to defend themselves. And, not just their life and their bodies, but their property as well. The accumulation of property is through the work of the individual. That individual has traded parts of their life to accumulate the property. Defense of property is defense of life.
  • Equality of opportunity vs Equality of results
    • Liberalism sees disparate outcomes as the result of something evil. Yet each individual has different innate and natural advantages. Someone who has advantages should not be penalized because they used their advantages. We can, of course, argue whether certain advantages should be more evenly distributed, but, once distributed and used, the users should not be penalized.
  • No Freedom without Responsibilities
    • Liberalism sees the state as the final arbiter of what people should have. This mistake leads to the point where wealth redistribution from the haves to the have-nots becomes disease-like. If someone is given something for which one has no responsibility then what was given has no value. It will be treated shabbily (see any housing project), and will not sate the owners desire to acquire things for themselves. 

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Thursday, October 24, 2013

A comparison of rolling attributes

In many role playing games (RPGs), attributes such as strength or wisdom are established at the time of character creation. In particular, Dungeons & Dragons, currently owned by Hasbro, and its offshoots (commonly referred to as Old School Games (OSG), and the Pathfinder RPG (PFRPG), currently owned by Paizo, use various systems for attribute generation.

In these systems, there are six attributes. The three physical attributes are strength (STR), dexterity (DEX), and constitution (CON). The three non-physical attributes are intelligence (INT), wisdom (WIS), and charisma (CHA). Each of the names are a generalization necessary for game play mechanics. For example, charisma is an approximation of the amount of power or influence one character will have over another.

In general, there are two types of attribute establishment. One is spending a certain amount of building points to determine in a non-random fashion what the attribute values will be. This is commonly know as a point-buy system. The other is rolling dice to randomly determine what the attribute values will be.

Point-buy systems commonly take the form of a pool of points which can add to a minimum level in each attribute. For example, if the minimum dexterity is 7, it may cost one point to bring it to eight. More points can be spent to bring the attribute number to where the player, creating the character, wants the value to be.

The point pool often determines the overall power of the individual character, and the companion characters. For example, in the PFRPG, a 15 point pool is often considered to be standard, while a 20 point pool is often considered to be high fantasy.

There are various dice rolling systems in these games. The most restrictive is commonly known as 3d6. In 3d6, the player rolls three six-sided dice. This will determine an attribute's value. Some versions make this even more restrictive by having each player roll all six attributes in order, not allowing changing one dice roll for another. Most versions of this, however, allow the player to assign each dice roll value to a particular attribute. Some versions allow players to roll more than six times, and eliminate the lowest values rolled.

Another common system is the 4d6 less one. In this system, the player rolls four six-sided dice, determines which die is the lowest, removes that die leaving three, whose summed values become the attribute.

Everyone knows that the 4d6 less one method produces higher attributes than the 3d6 method. Here is a simple analysis of the difference between the 3d6 and the 4d6 less one methods.

First, the average of the 3d6 method is 10.5. In game terms, this is only slightly better than the average person, whose attributes would be 10. The average of the 4d6 less one method is 12.2446. But, that only tells part of the tale. If we look at the distribution of both systems

 we see that the whole curve seems to be shifted to the right. But, since we are dealing with such varied numbers (the 3d6 method has at most 27 instances, while the 4d6 less one method has at most 172), we can normalize the chart by looking at the percentage of instances at each value.
Here, we see that although the upper range appears to be merely shifted to the right, the 4d6 less one method has additional advantages.
  • While the average is only 1.75 points higher, the mode (that is the most common value) is two points higher. The mode for 3d6 is 27, which occurs at values 10 and 11. The mode for 4d6 less one is 172, which occurs at value 13, two higher than the value 11 from 3d6.
  • We can see from the chart the likelihood of being average or below (that is a value of 10 or less) is 50% in the 3d6 method. If we look at a table of cumulative averages from the 4d6 less one method:

3 0.08
4 0.39
5 1.16
6 2.78
7 5.71
8 10.49
9 17.52
10 26.93
11 38.35
12 51.23
13 64.51
14 76.85
15 86.96
16 94.21
17 98.38
18 100.00
    • We can thus determine that the chance of being average or below is less than 27%

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A beginning of a conservative philosophy.

Conservatives must be more attentive to how Judaism and Christianity—or at least their orthodox versions—helped foster key ideas that underlie the distinctiveness of Western culture. These include:
  • The liberation of man from the sense that the world was ultimately meaningless;
  • The underscoring of human fallibility and consequent anti-utopianism;
  • The affirmation that man is made to be creative rather than passive;
  • The insistence that there are moral absolutes that may never be violated,
  • The tremendous respect for human reason in all its fullness;
  • The crucial distinction between religious and civil authority; and
  • The conviction that human beings can make free choices.

(This bit above has been lifted from The Acton Institute)

Those who deride Western culture are, ultimately, deriding these ideas. For them: 
  • The world is ultimately meaningless
    • Commonly expressed as a derogation of humanity's role in the universe
  • Utopia can be achieved here and now
    • Socialism, Marxism, and Communism strongly depend upon this idea. If only the "smart" people were put in charge, everything would be better. Ultimately, the Elite must oppress the common folk -- but, for their own good.
  • Humanity is passive
    • The problems will always be with us, but the deriders claim that people can't figure out a way of fixing the problems without control over the people.
  • There are no moral absolutes
    • This is particularly loathsome. We can see from any number of sources that once there are no moral absolutes, eventually, every reprehensible action becomes a necessary activity. In the 30's, premarital sex and pregnancy was considered bad. In the 60's, single motherhood *by choice* was considered bad. In the 70's, multiple partners was considered bad. In the 90's, homosexuality was considered bad. In the 2000's, casual promiscuity with multiple partners, male and female, was still considered bad. Now, there is an ongoing effort to de-stigmatize bestiality and pedophilia, one that finds university professors signing onto.
  • Lack of respect for human reason
    • We are constantly barraged with appeals to emotion, rather than reason. Reasoning is derided as lacking warmth and compassion. Or, being stigmatized with being racially based. 
  • Civil authority has become the new religious authority
    • How else to explain the cult-like following of liberal ideas.
  • Human beings are forced to do whatever it is they do.
    • Thus, he isn't a cad, but sex-addicted. The child is not unruly, but has ADHD. 

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Don't Tread on Us

84 Things a SysAdmin should never say...

1.    Uh-oh...
2.    Oh S***!
3.    What the heck?!?
4.    Go get your backup tape.  (You DO have a backup tape?)
5.    That's SOOOOO bizarre.
6.    Wow!!  Look at this...
7.    Hey!!  The Suns don't do this.
8.    Terminated?!?
9.    What software license?
10.  Well, it's doing SOMETHING...
11.  Wow...that seemed fast...
12.  I got a better job at Lockheed...
13.  Management says...
14.  Sorry, the new equipment didn't get budgeted.
15.  What do you mean that wasn't a copy?
16.  It didn't do that a minute ago...
17.  Where's the GUI on this thing?
18.  Damn, and I just bought that Coke...
19.  Where's the DIR command?
20.  The drive ate the tape but that's OK, I brought my screwdriver.
21.  I cleaned up the root partition and now there's LOTS of free space.
22.  What's this "any" key I'm supposed to press?
23.  Do you smell something?
24.  What's that grinding sound?
25.  I have never seen it do THAT before...
26.  I don't think it should be doing that...
27.  I remember the last time I saw it do that...
28.  You might as well all go home early today...
29.  My leave starts tomorrow.
30.  Oops! (said in a quiet, almost surprised voice)
31.  Hmm, maybe if I do this...
32.  Why is my "rm -r *" taking so long?"
33.  Hmmm, curious...
34.  Well, MY files were backed up.
35.  What do you mean you needed that directory?
36.  What do you mean /home was on that disk?  I unmounted it!
37.  Do you really need your home directory to do any work?
38.  I didn't think anybody would be doing any work at 2am, so I killed your job.
39.  Yes, I chowned all the files to belong to pvcs.  Is that a problem to you?
40.  We're standardizing on AIX.
41.  Wonder what THIS command does?
42.  What did you say your (1)user name was...? ;-)
43.  You did WHAT to the floppy???
44.  Sorry, we deleted that package last week.
45.  NO!!!  Not THAT button!!!
46.  [looks at workstation] "Say, what version of DOS is this thing running?"
47.  YEEEHAA!!!  
48.  What a CRASH!!!
49.  What do you mean that could take down the whole network?
50.  What's this switch for anyway?
51.  Tell me again what that '-r' option to rm does...
52.  Say, what does "Superblock Error" mean, anyhow?
53.  If I’d known it wasn't going to work, I would have tested it sooner.
54.  Was that YOUR directory?
55.  System coming down in 0 minutes...
56.  The backup procedure works fine, but the restore is tricky!
57.  Hey Fred, did you save that posting about restoring filesystems with vi and a toothpick?  More importantly, did you print it out?
58.  The sprinkler system isn't supposed to leak is it?
59.  It is only a minor upgrade, the system should be back up in a few hours.  (This said on a Monday afternoon.)
60.  I think we can plug just one more thing in to this outlet strip without tripping the breaker.
61.  What is all this I hear about static charges destroying computers?
62.  I found this rabbit program that is supposed to test system performance and I have it running now.
63.  Ummm....Didn't you say you turned it off?
64.  The network's down, but we're working on it.  Come back after dinner. (Usually said at 2200 the night before thesis deadline.)
65.  Oops!  Save your work, everyone!  FAST!!!
66.  Boy, it's a lot easier when you know what you're doing.
67.  I hate it when that happens.
68.  Why did it say '/bin/rm: not found'?
69.  You can do this patch with the system up...
70.  What happens to a hard disk when you drop it?
71.  Well, I've got a backup, but the only copy of the restore program was on THAT disk...
72.  Hey, what does mkfs do?
73.  Where did you say those backup tapes were kept?
74.  ...and if we just swap these two disk controllers like this...
75.  Don't do that, it'll crash the sys...DAMN!
76.  What's this hash prompt on my terminal mean?
77.  Now it's funny you should ask that, because I don't know either...
78.  Can you get VMS for this Sparc thingy?
79.  I don't care what he says, I'm NOT having it on MY network.
80.  We don't support that.  We WON'T support that.
81.  ...and after I patched the microcode...
82.  You've got TECO.  What more do you want?
83.  We prefer not to change the root password, it's a nice easy one...
84.  Just add yourself to the password file and make a directory...

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My Yellow Bus

Poetic Error Messages

Sony has announced its own computer operating system now available on its hot new portable PC called the Vaio.  Instead of producing the cryptic error messages characteristic of Microsoft's Windows and DOS operating systems, Sony's chairman Asa Tawara said, "We intend to capture the high ground by putting a human, Japanese face on what has been until now an operating system that reflects Western cultural hegemony.  For example, we have replaced the impersonal and unhelpful Microsoft error messages with our own Japanese haiku poetry."  The chairman went on to give examples of Sony's new error messages:

A file that big?
It might be very useful.
But now it is gone.


The Web site you seek
cannot be located but
countless more exist


Chaos reigns within.
Reflect, repent, and reboot.
Order shall return.


ABORTED effort:
Close all that you have worked on.
You ask way too much.


Yesterday it worked
Today it is not working
Windows is like that.


First snow, then silence.
This thousand dollar screen dies
so beautifully.


With searching comes loss
and the presence of absence:
"My Novel" not found.


The Tao that is seen
Is not the true Tao, until
You bring fresh toner.


Windows NT crashed.
I am the Blue Screen of Death.
No one hears your screams.


Stay the patient course
Of little worth is your ire
The network is down

A crash reduces
your expensive computer
to a simple stone.


Three things are certain:
Death, taxes, and lost data.
Guess which has occurred.


You step in the stream,
but the water has moved on.
This page is not here.


Out of memory.
We wish to hold the whole sky,
But we never will.


Having been erased,
The document you're seeking
Must now be retyped.


Serious error.
All shortcuts have disappeared.
Screen. Mind. Both are blank.

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A man is stumbling through the woods totally drunk when he comes upon a preacher baptizing people in the river.  He proceeds to walk into the water and subsequently bumps into the preacher.  The preacher turns around and is almost overcome by the smell of alcohol, whereupon he asks the drunk, "Are you ready to find Jesus?"

The drunk answers, "Yes, I am."

So the preacher grabs him and dunks him in the water.  He pulls him up and asks the drunk, "Brother have you found Jesus?"

The drunk replies, "No, I haven't found Jesus."

The preacher shocked at the answer, dunks him into the water again for a little longer this time.  He again pulls him out of the water and asks again, "Have you found Jesus my brother?"

The drunk again answers, "No, I haven't found Jesus."

By this time the preacher is at his wits end and dunks the drunk in the water again--but this time holds him down for about 30 seconds and when he begins kicking his arms and legs he, pulls him up.  The preacher again asks the drunk, "For the love of God have you found Jesus?"

The drunk wipes his eyes and catches his breath and says to the preacher, "Are you sure this is where he fell in?

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Bats in the Belfry

Three Pastors in the south were having lunch in a diner.

One said "You know, since summer started I've been having trouble with bats in my loft and attic at church.  I've tried everything--noise, spray, cats--nothing seems to scare them away."

Another said, "Yeah, me too.  I've got hundreds living in my belfry.  I've even had the place fumigated, and they won't go away."

The third said, "I baptized all mine, and made them members of the church.  I haven't seen one back since!!!"

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A new monk arrives at the monastery.  He is assigned to help the other monks in copying the old texts by hand.  He notices, however, that they are copying from copies, not the original manuscripts.  So, the new monk goes to the head monk to ask him about this, pointing out that if there were an error in the first copy, that error would be continued in all of the subsequent copies.

The head monk says, "We have been copying from the copies for centuries, but you make a good point, my son."  So, he goes down into the cellar with one of the copies to check it against the original.  Hours go by and nobody sees him.  So, one of the monks goes downstairs to look for him.  Hearing sobbing coming from the back of the cellar, he finds the old monk leaning over one of the original books crying.  He asks the old monk what's wrong, and in a choked voice came the reply, "The word is 'celebrate'".

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