Saturday, July 21, 2007

July 15, 2007 - [chat]

you know the deal. Chat away. some guster talk would be keen. rides, meeting time, meeting place, etc

Also, if you want to just link a news story you can toss it in here, unless you have something really funny to say about it.

7/21/07 Guster Concert

Guster was awesome

here are some pictures Julie took of the concert.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Iran Under Attack by Squirrels.

14 squirrels arrested on charges of espionage in Iran.


"President Bush to have colonoscopy; Cheney to take temporary control"

It's true.

Jov Lovitz is My Personal Hero

Yet, another reason to worship the man.

Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno is silly.

In a Senate hearing on July 19, 2007 Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, a deputy to Gen. David Petraeus said, "In order to do a good assessment I need at least until November." Then, on July 20, 2007 Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno issued a statement saying, "There is no intention to push our reporting requirement beyond September. Nothing I said yesterday should be interpreted to suggest otherwise. My reference to November was simply suggesting that as we go forward beyond September, we will gain more understanding of trends."

Let's compare these two quotes, sentence by sentence, shall we?

07/19/07: "In order to do a good assessment I need at least until November"

This means that "in order to do a good assessment" he needs "at least until November."

07/20/07: "There is no intention to push our reporting requirement beyond September"

This means, then, that there is no intention of giving a good assessment, as to give a good assessment one would need to wait until November.

07/20/07: "Nothing I said yesterday should be interpreted to suggest otherwise."

Ok...but in what understanding of reasoning would the statement, "In order to do a good assessment I need at least until November" not suggest that reporting would not occur until November?

07/20/07: "My reference to November was simply suggesting that as we go forward beyond September, we will gain more understanding of trends."

This is a factual statement about the nature of reality which operates within the confines of linear time. As the amount of time of observation increases the data the observer has increases. I don't know why Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno felt that he needed to "suggest" this, though.

So, these are the words of Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, one of our boys on the ground in Iraq. With leadership like this I feel confident in our success.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Dear Faculty and Staff:

As many of you may know, since July 2006 the College has been engaged in a collaborative process with the Beta Theta Pi chapter, their alumni advisory board, and their General Fraternity in an effort to better the chapter’s standing with all constituents. A meeting in July 2006 resulted in the development of sixteen short term benchmarks covering all major areas of chapter operations, as well as the understanding that all benchmarks would need to be reached by the end of Fall 2006 term. If all benchmarks were not met, all parties agreed that the chapter would be closed. In January, a similar set of benchmarks and stipulations were developed for the Winter/Spring terms to further encourage improvement.

Upon review of the Winter/Spring benchmarks and other information at hand, it became apparent to all parties that the necessary cultural change intended by the benchmarking process was not taking place as desired. Therefore, it is with a note of sadness and under these terms that I notify you that the operations and recognition of the Iota Chapter of Beta Theta Pi at Hanover College has been suspended by both the College and General Fraternity. The disbandment of the chapter has been done with the full knowledge and support of the Iota House Corporation and Advisory Board. In detail the chapter suspension means:

o All currently enrolled members of the chapter have been moved to alumni status by the General Fraternity.

o The chapter facility has been closed and members have been reassigned to non-Greek housing facilities.

o Members are no longer permitted to:

o Hold meetings in the name of Beta Theta Pi

o Organize or sponsor functions in the name of Beta Theta Pi

o Participate in IFC or Greek community activities

o Pledge or initiate members

o In general, members are ineligible to join any other fraternity on this or any other campus.

o The Iota Chapter of Beta Theta Pi is no longer protected or recognized by the College or General Fraternity. Therefore, the chapter is no longer entitled to the rights and responsibilities associated with a student organization or Greek chapter at Hanover College.

o All alumni activities scheduled on campus for graduates of Beta Theta Pi would be approved and organized in conjunction with the Office of Alumni and Parent Relations.

If you become aware of activity that is at variance with any information outlined in this communication, please notify Ms. Deanne Walters at or x. 7081.

Despite the closing of the chapter, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the dedication and tireless work of the former chapter officers. They diligently worked with the College, General Fraternity, and alumni to improve their chapter’s standing. Additionally, the College is and will continue to be supportive of the future colonization of the Hanover College Iota Chapter of Beta Theta Pi Fraternity, and we look forward to a time when Beta Theta Pi is once again a thriving and productive member of our Greek community. If you have questions regarding the status of Beta Theta Pi or any Greek Life matter, please feel free to contact Deanne at the email/extension listed above.


G. David Yeager
Vice President/Dean of Student Life
Hanover College

Paying for Nothing: WoW vs MTGO

In both World of Warcraft and Magic the Gathering: Online the user exchanges real world money for some internet based, "virtual" service. Each of these games, WoW and MTGO seem different in their exchange of money for some virtual service. But I think it is important to get past the psychological and semantic differences of these pay models and look at the actual differences, if there are any, in terms of money, time, and content. So, what are the differences? Are they significant?

With World of Warcraft a user pays a monthly subscription fee to play. For the sake of simplicity we will say that this fee is $15 per month. A user pays this fee and then has access to the game for that amount of time. Characters are stored indefinitely (a user's information is not deleted after a period of time).

With Magic the Gathering: Online a user pays not for "play time", but rather purchases packs of cards or individual cards via the Marketplace. There is no monthly fee to play; rather there is the fee of buying the cards with which one plays. Cards are stored indefinitely (a user's information is not deleted after a period of time)

That is how World of Warcraft and Magic the Gathering: Online function, basically, with regard to the exchange of money for some virtual service. Now, the question is, are these different with regard to money, time, and content? (For the purpose of this discussion we will ignore illegal activity.)

WoW players pay a monthly fee to play. MTGO users buy cards. But this may be only a semantic difference. For example, if we have a MTGO user and a WoW user who each only ever play for 30 months paying $15 per month we have two users doing the same thing with regard to money, time, and content. Each user has spent $450 over the course of 30 months and obtained the content this allowed them to obtain.

There are, however, differences in the thing for which each user pays. WoW users pay for chunks of time. MTGO users pay for content. So, a MTGO user could pay $30 for cards (content) and play for 30 months, whereas a WoW user, paying $30, could only ever play for two months. Also, a WoW user is limited in the amount they can pay per month. A WoW user can only ever pay $15 per month for playtime, whereas a MTGO user could dump as much money as they desired into the game per month.

It is important to note that neither user has anything. The WoW user no more has her Savory Deviate Delight than the MTGO user has her Wrath of God. Any and all ownership in these games occurs at a level of abstraction within a virtual community, and as such ought not to be included in this discussion. But what we can talk about is the utility of the things for which one pays in each game. For WoW, a user pays for time during which they can play and access as much content as they desire. For MTGO, a user pays for the content (cards) to which they have access and they have an indefinite period of time in which to access this content.

These, I think, are the fundamental differences in these two styles of gamepay. In WoW, a user is paying for time in which they can play the game. In MTGO, a user is paying for content within a game to which they have unlimited access. In terms of money, time, and content I think these game differ only insofar as an individual chooses to use them. It is not the case that there is some fundamental difference between paying for content and paying for time, but rather the difference is only found in the utility each of these things have with regard to the game being played.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harry Potter and the Early Ship Dates. apparently mailed some copies of the final Harry Potter book early and then realized their mistake. Once they realized that they can't read a calendar they released an appeal to their customers,

We are also making a direct appeal to the Harry Potter fans who bought their books from and may receive copies early requesting that they keep the packages hidden until midnight on July 21

Yes. Certainly that will happen.

Rant: "Enough Faith"

Since attending an Easter Sunday service at WCC I've had this quote stuck in my head, "I don't have enough faith to say that it all just happened...that we're just here." This isn't the exact quote but this is the sentiment of what Denny Wilson said during that Easter Service; that he doesn't have enough faith to say that we are just here. That, in effect, it takes less faith to make the claim "there is a God" than it takes to not make that claim. There exists a book cleverly titled, I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist written by Norman L. Geisler and Frank Turek which, presumably, devotes many pages to supporting the title of the book.

Now, I don't know what is wrong with these people. And it could be the case that a sensible explanation of what is wrong with them will fail to fully explain their bizarre claims. But I would like to know what they think they are saying. So, let us attempt to puzzle our way through it.

First, empirically verifiable claims do not require faith. To see a cat on a mat and state, "The cat is on the mat." in no way involves faith. Now, if one reads Descartes' Meditations incorrectly one could arrive at the conclusion that all claims are faith claims, that one can know only cogito. But even if one has incorrectly read the Meditations and acts on the assumption that all claims are faith claims this still does not explain the situation, as all claims would be faith claims and, surely, all faith claims would require equal faith under the world view of the misread Descartes. If everything is in doubt, surely no thing is in more doubt than any other. So this does not explain the absurd notion.

What of this idea of "enough"? This seems to suggest that belief in God requires X faith and not having belief requires some quantity of faith > X

Let me make an aside at this point. It is impossible to prove a universal negative. So, it cannot be the case that their argument is that a universal negative claim requires more faith than their particular positive claim, as no one in their right mind would make a universal negative claim and suppose it to be true.

What we seem to have, at this point, is the following set of thoughts:

X faith is required to make the claim, “There exists a God.”
Y faith is required to make the claim, “You have supplied insufficient proof in your attempt to support your claim.”

And Y > X.

Now, as was already said, empirical observations do not require faith. So it cannot be the case that any faith is required to make the Y faith claim. So, somehow, these people seem to maintain the world view that 0 is greater than a positive number.

But perhaps we have misunderstood their argument. What if they have not misread Descartes but do maintain that the claim of a non-believer requires faith. But then, faith in what? Faith is maintained for something, for some end or some belief. So, would it be faith in a non-claim? This cannot be the case if the non-claim is supported by empirical observation, as empirical observation requires no faith. So, then, in what does the non-believer have faith?

Why, in their non-belief, of course. While empirical observations in and of themselves require no faith, one must have faith when basing one’s judgment on empirical observations. Except, again, that is the misread Descartes’ argument, the notion that faith is required to get to any sort of concept or idea.

I think, probably, that their argument is the misunderstood Descartes’ argument in miniature, that in saying, “There is no proof for this, therefore it is either not true or cannot be known to be true” one somehow invokes faith and utilizes faith.

Which, again, doesn’t make any sense.

New Underlings for House named

Olivia Wilde, Kal Penn, Peter Jacobson and Anne Dudek are the new victims.

Olivia Wilde is a hottie, with very little acting ability thus far, so that worries me.

Kal Penn, better known as Kumar, worries me also. Probably picked up for comedic value, I can only hope otherwise

Peter Jacobson, fresh off some role in Transformers that I don't remember, IMDB is no help on this one

and lastly

Anne Dudek, a perennial bit character now in some form of recurring role.

I can only hope this doesn't pan out how I expect.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rant: Pretty Substandard Platform

Sony is releasing a new, slimmer version of the PSP so that it can "compete with Nintendo's DS". The features of this new model?

- Slimmer design due to a new LCD screen
- Increased battery life due to the new LCD screen
- "faster load times"
- 8GB of Internal Flash Memory
- New Buttons

So, when presented with the opportunity to revamp the PSP and fix the problems the guys at Sony decided that the biggest problem was the size and screen, probably because those were the things fixed by Nintendo in the DS Lite. Unfortunately for Sony the PSP and DS do not have the same problems.

The PSP's main problem is that it exemplifies John Stewart's critique of camera phones, "You just get a crappy camera and a crappy phone." Sure, the PSP can play games, play mp3s, play video, and allow the user to browse the internet. The problem is that it doesn't do any of these things WELL. It can't replace your DS for gameplay, it can't replace your iPod for mp3s or movies, and it can't replace your handheld for web browsing purposes. It's a hodgepodge of half-assed technology encased in a super-smudgeable shell.

That is the PSP’s problem; the problem they did not fix. It’s not the size or the screen or the buttons. The problem is that it’s trying to do too many contradictory things. One can make a portable MP3 player, a portable movie player, a portable gaming platform, and a portable web browser. But the requirements for all of these things are not harmonious. A portable web browser requires a keyboard. Let’s just dismiss any notion to the contrary right now. One cannot enjoyably browse the internet with an analog stick and an X button. A portable mp3 player requires storage and some means by which it can play continually with minimal user input. A portable movie player requires good speakers, a good screen, and some form of media which can hold the movies. And a portable gaming platform needs to do what the DS does. What the PSP attempts to do is balance out the needs of each individual system and it fails. An iPod is a better MP3 player and video player. A smart phone is a better web browser. A DS is a better portable gaming platform.

All of these problems are compounded, I think, by the numerous products that do what they promise. Blackberries function. iPhones and iPods function. The DS does what it says it will do. So when there exist products like iPhones within the same realm in which Sony says, “We’ll make the PSP slimmer!” this, I think, is an admission of defeat and incompetence by Sony.

They obviously do not know what they are doing and it would be best if they just stopped.

Stephen Colbert's Difference Maker: Johnna Mink

Please Enjoy This inspirational Woman

Monday, July 16, 2007

Rant: Ceiling cat is watching you meme.

Since I first became aware of his existence I was certain that Richard Dawkins was an idiot, or at least a very irate and confused person. Initially I thought this because his idea of "conversing" with religous people involved him yelling at them and telling them they were stupid. Then after watching interviews with him and seeing his written works about religion I began to understand that he fundamentally misunderstood religion, shown through his trite and sophmoric arguments which were below even the standards of a basic Intro to Theology class. I thought, however, that maybe his work in other fields would be impressive and that his performance in the religious sphere resulted from his misunderstanding of religion, and not some flaw on his own part.

Then I read about memes.

A meme is "a unit of cultural transmission, or a unit of imitation". Dawkins argued that a meme "propagates from one mind to another analogously to the way in which a gene propagates from one organism to another as a unit of genetic information and of biological evolution." So, when I post, "ceiling cat is watching you masturbate" the "ceiling cat" meme replicates itself into your consciousness from my own (by way of the tubal interwebs) and then from your mind the celing cat meme can replicated again into the mind of another and this way the ceiling cat meme can "survive".

Forgetting for a moment that this is an entirely idiotic and flawed way of talking about ceiling cat jokes, what interests me is how this relates to the idea of God.

The notion of God exists as a means of explaining some of the things which we observe in the world. If a person is sick and they get better in a manner which cannot be explained we say, "God did it." because it serves as an explanation which fits with our chosen world view. Or, if there are other means by which something can be explained one may still choose to say, "God did it" if that fits better with their own world view. The idea of God gives an origin and explanation for a thing which happens in the world.

Now, how is the idea of memes not this exact same situation? We have a situation in which one person says, "ceiling cat is watching you masturbate" and then someone else who hears that says, "ceiling cat is watching you masturbate" to another person. And then Dawkins jumps from this thing that happens to the idea of some thingness, "meme", which explains the thing happening.

Now, arguably, any explanation or name or word will fit that same pattern. But if there is some flaw in utilizing a means of explanation which cannot be supported empirically (god) how is there not some flaw in utilizing a means of explanation which cannot be supported empirically (meme)? If it is problematic for an individual to go beyond empirical evidence in their positing that "god exists" is it not equally problematic to go beyond empirical evidence and posit that there exists this thing, "meme" that exists beyond yet also as part of the phrase, "Ceiling cat is watching you masturbate"? Do not both of these actions (claiming "God" and claiming "meme") attach onto empirical reality some other layer, some depth, some greater degree of explanation which only exists in-so-far as we say it does?

I think they do.

So, remember, Richard,

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Tissue boxed daughter lovely kitten