March 8th, 2003


(no subject)

It's always fantastic when I bump into someone who can actually write. So, when I bumped into this I was overjoyed.

I admit that the view expressed here of the software industry, and the game biz in particular, is not at all a reflection of Reality. It is however The Truth. Reality and Truth have nothing to do with each other. So far this is the only evidence I've ever seen for the validity of religion. At a certain point in life you just get clued that there's a dollop of faith involved with any endeavor, and Life Itself is no exception. This explains why people get married, and why they buy French automobiles. That's the reality. But Truth obviously reveals that both these activities are generally losing propositions. You can trust everything I'm about to say, because by special arrangement I have complete access to The Truth at all times. But this is a one-time engagement that only runs to the end of the article.

There are all kinds of everyday examples in this category of "Things That Exist In Reality Because Faith Balances Truth". For one, William Shatner seems to truly believe we don't know it's a wig. There's less space between the guy's eyebrows and hairline now than there was in 1968, and any one of us can get the film to prove it. Yet he is famous for denying it. For him, Faith is far over-balancing Truth. In the Shatner Reality, he actually has hair. He knows he doesn't. I know he doesn't. You know it. There are pets that know.

Prove it.

Go on - prove that Shatner is bald. Try to find one picture, one film or video clip where he doesn't have any hair. You can't. Long after you and I and Bill are forgotten dust-of-dust, Star Trek, like the Catholic Church, will still exist. And the only representations of William Shatner will be with hair - it's like his own personal stigmata. Thus Truth will pass, Faith will carry on, and the Shatner Reality will actually become reality! In the future, William Shatner will have hair.

It then carries on into an article about computer games, the bleeding edge and being ripped off. Sigh. I think I'm in love.

Ooh, here's a bit from a different article:
I recently tossed-off an email to Levelord, in which I compared games to movies. My point was that a film like "Gladiator" would be unwatchable if Maximus died sixty or eighty times and the movie had to start over from the beginning. It just wouldn’t be immersive in any way. The same thing applies to games.

I have personally had a number of near-death experiences. From childhood diseases to childhood accidents to adult stupidity, I almost die, on average, once every five years. I have been in oxygen tents. I have been stabbed. I have escaped from a car submerged forty feet at the bottom of a river. I have had last minute, emergency surgery. I have been in love with an Italian woman. Death and I are old acquaintances. I know the bastard’s shoe size. Yet still I live. I have never died only to start my life over again. Just doesn’t work that way – more’s the pity.

The Holy Grail, the Big Kahuna in game development these days is realism. Yet action games still revolve around the old survival motive. Yet they aren’t about survival at all. They are about reincarnation. This is a very Hindu attitude, and while I respect the Hindu religion above all others (it just makes the most sense, if you look into it), I don’t actually believe in it. And so to the game development community I say shoot me up, cut me up, beat me up, reduce my physical abilities to almost zero, but for Christ and Vishnu’s sake, stop killing me!

War! What is it good for? Well, some things, when you get right down to it. I mean, take WW2 ....

You know what I'd like to see?

I'd like to see a set of criteria for deciding whether a country is considered a problem. Whether it's a set of human rights abuses they commit, ownership of certain proscribed devices, acts of war, being ruled by someone with a dodgy moustache. Whatever. I want to see a statement of intent consisting of "We hereby declare that we consider countries that fulfil the following to be dangerous and will do whatever it takes to neutralise that threat."

I then want to see a list of all countries in the world that fulfil those criteria, complete with breakdowns of why and how.

And I'd like to see some dedicated research into what makes a country change from being 'antisocial' to being 'a happy friendly country full of smiling people that we like'. Some actual social science looking at how we changed. Because goddamimit, 100 years ago we were all just as bad as they are now.

And then I'll be happy to start sorting things out, however the study shows is the best way (or multitude of ways).

Of course, should someone be gassing their population before then, by all means perform a quick humanitarian excercise to prevent it. Rwanda, the Balkans, the Kurds, etc. all needed fairly instant help. Sometimes they got it, sometimes they didn't.

But for the long term, I'd like to see some nice ground rules laid down.

(no subject)

Stolen entirely from Heron:

The United Nations divides the world into two groups, less developed countries and more developed countries. The most surprising news comes from the poorer countries. In the late 1960's, these countries had an average fertility rate of 6.0 children per woman. Today it is 2.9 — and still falling. Huge and continuing declines have been seen in countries like Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Turkey and (of great importance to the United States) Mexico.

The more developed countries, in contrast, have seen their fertility rates fall from low to unsustainable. Every developed nation is now below replacement level. In the early 1960's, Europe's fertility rate was 2.6. Today the rate is 1.4, and has been sinking for half a century. In Japan the rate is 1.3.


The environmental future, however, looks better. Past research on global warming was based on a long-term United Nations projection, issued in the early 1990's, of 11.6 billion people in 2200, far more people than we're ever likely to see. The new projections show the global population rising from just over six billion now to just under nine billion in 2050, followed by a decline, moving downward in a geometric progression.

More here

(no subject)

I have never, ever understood the aversion to mobile phones. Time and time again I hear people say "I don't want to be contactable."

So turn it off! Or turn it to silent! Or to redirect!

I can't think of any situation in which it would be useful to me to not be able to make phone calls. I can certainly think of situations when I don't want to be phoned (such as during gaming) which is why I tend to set my phone to redirect then,m so that calls go straight to the answerphone. If it's urgent people can leave a message and I'll call them back.

Complaining that the technology isn't used properly isn't a complaint about the technology, it's a complaint about stupid people or impolite people.

Human universals

I've been involved in discussion with a few people about how much of human behaviour is genetic and how much is cultural. I tend to go for a 70-30 split in favour of genetics, with culture defining how we express the intrinsic nature (or fail to express it, depending).

If you're of the cultural persuasion, you'll find both this and this interesting.