Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Story Idea

I just had an idea which would make an excellent—nay, superb—story. I was thinking about the effectiveness of capital punishment (while reading Brian Aldiss' "Danger: Religion!") and considering the fact that liberals (not to be denigrating; I was a liberal for many years) claim that statistics show that capital punishment does not deter capital crime. But they never explain why this should be so. I don't think they know. In fact, I don't think anyone knows what would be a successful deterrent. The problem is that those who make laws for criminals are not criminals themselves and don't know what motivates or deters them. I don't think anyone knows. I mean, you could ask the criminals what would work, but although this may provide some insight into the criminal mind, the vast majority of criminals are not very smart, and those that are would probably lie to you. So the only real way to find out would be to become a criminal yourself. I imagined myself going out, committing crimes—robberies and such—possibly with a gang of some sort, and coming "home" at night and writing down my feelings and thoughts. I imagined killing a policeman, and writing down my feelings of regret. This, along with notes from speaking to other criminals, would be compiled into a scholarly work of sorts. Of course, a collaboration of some kind would probably have to be established with a mainstream sociologist, who would present the work as his own, compiled from interviews with me and others. Otherwise, it would never be taken seriously. After all, who listens to criminals?

Just remember, make this a work of imagination, not of fiction. Imagine what you would do and write it down.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 7/02/1998 11:10:00 AM

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


        Histories should be divided into two parts (not necessarily in the same work): narrative history and factual (factal?) or evidential history. The former is normal history: telling a tale, piecing together of facts within a framework of tapestry to weave a coherent and interesting story.
        The second or evidential history is a far more rigorous, scientific document. It delineates the facts gathered, the conclusions reached, the connections between, and—most importantly—the entire evidential chain back to its original sources, so that no conclusions are based on others' data or conclusions without an understanding of how they reached their answers, so as to point up where errors may gave occurred, and to be able to understand not only the lineage and origins of the data (in order that the reader might draw her own conclusions) but also its degree of sureness and veracity at every point, thus giving first an indication of the likely accuracy of the current conclusions, and second a way of making apparent what of the conclusions must be called into question if any of the sources are proven wrong, without invalidating the entire work.

I also believe that history writers, after completing their research, should read a book of their favorite fiction, or perhaps Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance—which does an excellent job of expository philosophy while reading like a good novel—before writing their narrative history, so that they won't wrote sentences like the above.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 7/02/1998 11:00:00 AM

Cracking the Bible Code

[This Book Note refers to Cracking the Bible Code, by Jeffrey Satinover.]

         P. 83: This accuracy/inaccuracy in the Jewish Lunar Month is, although this will surely be ignored by everyone, the greatest confirmation—yea, proof—of my theory that the Torah is the product not of myth and mysticism, nor of God, but of an incredibly advanced human culture (the same logic also rules out aliens). The proof is simply this: The Jewish calculation was more accurate than anyone else's—in fact as accurate as theoretically possible without going into space—but it was inaccurate. God—or aliens—would have known the correct value. Unless the decoding was wrong, or the Moon has slowed since then, or the value somehow got changed by this insignificant amount (in God's name, how?), or the satellite data is somehow wrong, this is conclusive unless you are willing to accept God the liar or God the fool. I would very much like to know what the Egyptian values for this are.
        Indeed, the very fact that only the first five books of the Bible are encoded in this fashion is strong evidence to support my thesis. Of all the Bible—even of all known religious works—the books written by Moses are the only ones with this sort of coding. Why? Why would God never do this again? I say it is because it was Moses himself, not God, who composed the pentateuch and the code within, based on his great arcane knowledge he learned from the Egyptians (Much thanks to Graham Hancock and his The Sign and the Seal, particularly chapters 12 and 13, for the inspiration for all of this).

Update: Monday, July 25, 2005
        I have come to the conclusion that the entire Bible Code is fraudulent. Though I haven't made an extremely extensive study of the matter, the very method that is used to find coded material (deciding what you want to find and then looking for it) pretty much shows the entire Code to be spurious. You can (and people have) find any number of things in a complex work like the Bible, but that doesn't mean that they're authentic or prophetic. The Code only tells us what we want to hear. What finally convinced me was a History Channel special that, while it doesn't set out to debunk the Code, lays out far more clearly than the book mentioned above does the incredibly subjective and non-scientific way the Code's messages are "discovered." Too bad. And it fit in so nicely with Hancock too. has some more information on the subject.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 6/23/1998 11:00:00 AM


Here is the test of slavery—is your work something you do of your own choice, or do you work for fear of punishment from other people? By this definition, nearly all children are slaves. It is also possible to be in a slavery situation of your own devising, where a simple choice will release you. No, members of the military are not slaves; they are indentured servants. They knew what they were doing when they signed up. Draftees, on the other hand, are slave warriors, unless they were given the choice to renounce their citizenship to avoid being drafted.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 5/24/1998 11:40:00 AM

More Work

So—time to write about what I originally meant to write. Work. What is work? Work is the effort we put out in order to achieve our goals and dreams. How perverse then, that we (or just I? ? ?) are taught as children, by school, by parents, that work is the unpleasant thing you must do or else get in trouble which keeps you from doing the things you want! Perverse. Insane. How—why—do we do this?

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 5/24/1998 11:30:00 AM


I think it would greatly behoove me to study occult magic. I started on a book about it last night, and it seemed to me nothing more than sophisticated Zen-like mind control—or mind access. I think it would work—as far as possible, anyway. And if magical powers were stored inside the mind, that would be how to get at them.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 5/24/1998 11:20:00 AM

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Humanitarian Intervention

A Libertarian friend of mine has on more than one occasion defended to me the belief that there is nothing wrong, and indeed something very right, about the United States using force in a foreign land to liberate oppressed peoples. For this reason he defended the Iraq war, regardless of the reasons it was actually fought, because it had the consequence of liberating the people of Iraq. I vehemently disagreed with him, yet somehow was unable to come up with convincing arguments why.

Tonight I watched parts 1 and 2 of the West Wing episode "Inauguration," in which the President is faced with just such a choice: to send troops into an African nation (I don't remember the name, but it was meant to be Rwanda) to stop the genocide of one group of people against another. And I believe I have my answer.

Nevermind that we almost never have a real grasp of the nuances of the particular situation, and therefore have every likelihood of making things worse in the region rather than better. Nevermind that no one ever thanks us for helping; that we make no friends by intervening in other people's business. No, the real reasons to keep our dick in our pants are twofold. First, not only do we not make friends through foreign intervention, we are almost certain to make enemies. For when we intervene for one group of people, we are intervening against another. If we don't mind having a National Security State; if we don't mind living in constant fear of attacks from random people who hate us with blinding passion, then this is not a problem. But the larger reason is simply that "liberty," "tyranny," "oppression," and "liberation" can be rather slippery words, especially when other people, with their own agendas, are using them about you. What I mean is that "liberating the oppressed" and "helping the helpless" really have no limit. How "oppressed" do you have to be to rate military intervention by the U.S.? It seems an easy call when there are millions dying, but what about when there are only thousands? Hundreds? Perhaps there is no mass murder, but people are being pulled out of their homes and tortured. What then? What if a people simply lack the right to protest government policy? Is that a legitimate criterion for invasion? The point is that this path can easily lead to world hegemony, with the U.S. (or the U.N.) dictating to all nations exactly how they will treat their citizens. Is this the world we want to live in? If we think people hate us now, wait until we have intervened in half of the regions on Earth.

No, the answer is not intervention. It's liberty. One of the stories told in the West Wing episode I mentioned was that mothers were stationing themselves in front of attacking tanks in an effort to preserve their people. What if those mothers had tanks themselves? The answer to oppression and genocide is not invasion; it is not intervention. It is simply allowing people to defend themselves, and any individuals who wish (as happened in the Spanish Civil War) to assist in that defense. It is impossible to commit genocide against a well-armed people. Instead of sending them troops, sell them guns! If a people is so oppressed that even this is impossible, then allow American citizens to arm themselves and help out on their own. But the notion of selling oppressed peoples weapons goes against our grain. Why? Is it because we don't like guns? No, we don't mind at all if we have them. No, this bothers us for a darker reason: We prefer to do the job for them instead of selling them weapons to do it for themselves because we want to retain control. We want to be in charge. Providing weapons to a people gives them power, and we don't want that. In fact, we in America would be quite happy if we were the only nation on Earth to possess weapons of any kind. That's why we prefer intervention to assistance.

No, the only sensible answer is the same most sensible answer to almost any political problem: More freedom. Not enforced freedom, not freedom at the point of a gun, but the freedom for people, individually, to do as they think right.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Current Thoughts at 6/21/2005 04:23:00 PM

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


So Apple has decided to ditch IBM and ally with Intel. What's the world coming to? Has Hell frozen over? It's going to be a tough transition, regardless.

I'm not sure I have any new wisdom to add to what is said at the pages linked above, except to make a couple of minor points. (A lot of this is laid out very nicely in an (as usual) excellent Ars Technica article and accompanying discussion forum.)

• Forget running OS X on Non-Apple PCs. It's just not going to happen, folks. At least not in a sanctioned way. Despite what some people have said in the past, Apple is not an OS developer that happens to sell computers. Apple's bottom line is and always has been mostly CPU sales.

• The idea of being able to run Windows natively on a Mac is a neat idea, but ultimately mostly useless. Presuming the technical difficulties (motherboard differences, hard drive format, etc.) are overcome, all you've gained is a little cash and a little desk space (and, admittedly, a prettier office) over just buying a PC. And you lose the advantage of being able to use both at once.

• What excites me more is the prospect of a really good Windows emulator on my Mac. Since no processor emulation is necessary, Windows apps should positively hum, making buying a separate PC pretty much unnecessary, even, hopefully, for games. And if you just have to have the latest and greatest game and it won't run fast enough under emulation, well, that's when you fall back on the dual boot model mentioned above. This might just work out really nicely. Especially for PowerBooks. Imagine being able to haul around one machine and run any program, play any game...this might be fun.

• Neat as all this is, this is still not the CHRP platform we were promised 'lo these many years ago. As I recall, CHRP was supposed to allow the running of multiple OS's simultaneously. But perhaps I'm misremembering. I do recall having great hopes for the CHRP platform, and am still sorry it died. Consistency has not exactly been Apple's strong suit. I could probably write a whole website devoted to promising technologies Apple has abandoned (oh, OpenDoc, I miss you so!).

• I do have a couple of fears, however. As well as the Mac has been doing lately, I worry that Apple has been slowly watering down the distinctiveness of the Mac platform. For years now, Apple has been doing little things here and there to make the Mac more PC-like. You can trace it as far back as Apple changing floppy drive vendors so that the drive no longer sucked your disk out of your hand when you inserted it. OS X has several PC-like features in the interface, not least the requirement that all filenames have a damned TLE on the end. And now Macs will actually have Intel Inside. At what point will consumers decide that it's not worth paying a couple of hundred extra for a PC with a prettier case? It's been really nice (especially since the G5 was released) gloating to all my PC friends about how much faster, particularly megahertz for megahertz, Macs are than PCs. I don't like having my gloating turned back on me. Could this trend lead to the homogenization—nay, the commoditization—of the PC industry? The prospect doesn't frighten me as much as it once did. Admittedly almost entirely thanks to Apple, Microsoft seems to have released its first decent GUI OS ever—Windows XP Pro. I've used it (though not extensively), and it's not half bad. Not good enough, no, but it seems consumers are finally starting to demand something resembling elegance in their mainstream OS's. Add that to the downright cool-looking boxes companies like Alienware are putting out, and though I would still be crushed if Apple vanished or sold out, I would no longer see it as the end of the (computing) world.

• My biggest fear, though, was summed up by phjones on MacFixIt:

"Whilst I think Steve Jobs and the Apple crew would only act in the best
interests of Mac users, I still have a knot in the pit of my stomach. From my
point of view, the big question is whether Macintel machines will be able to
run Windows at full speed. If they do, it's the beginning of the end for MacOS.
At the moment, software producers have an incentive to produce MacOS-
compatible software because it gives them access to a market that would be
otherwise unavailable - admittedly some companies feel the market is too
small but that's their decision. If Macintel machines are capable of running
Windows, there will be absolutely no incentive for new companies to produce
MacOS versions of their software: "Those Macies can just fire up Windows if
they need to use our software. Ha ha ha (evil laugh)." Inevitably, less new
software will be written for MacOS and existing software will slowly drift

I hope this doesn't happen."

So do I.

• Lastly—there's something that has been bugging me for years. When the PowerPC processor first came out, basically the entire computer industry was saying that CISC technology was dead. Intel was going to be able to crank out maybe a generation or two more by cramming circuits a little tighter and running a little hotter, but eventually was going to be forced to switch to RISC like the PowerPC or die. This apparently didn't happen. Does anyone know what actually did happen? Let us know.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Current Thoughts at 6/08/2005 04:09:00 AM

Tuesday, May 10, 2005


Genius: the ability to come up with new ideas.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 5/24/1998 11:10:00 AM

Thursday, May 05, 2005


        Last night was a good night. I have finally made a positive difference with my new ideas. Admittedly, this seems like one of the most obvious of my ideas, but, as I know all too well, just because something seems obvious, that doesn't mean that anyone actually knows it! Myself included. So—Elizabeth was wanting to know what happened after death. She said it had gone past grieving or fearful wishes into clinical curiosity [2007: Someone close to her had died recently; I don't recall who]. So I told her. And it worked. She found (as I have) that the logic was irrefutable, given our current knowledge of physiology and chemistry. Which only reaffirms my conclusion that it is only quite recently, in our modern scientific age, that it has truly been possible to supplant religion with personal, logical, scientific knowledge, at least as far as the answers about the Universe go. Not to say that there haven't been people before now who have believed in a real, physical, non-supernatural universe—they've existed at least since the Renaissance. But their belief was also based on faith—not as much blind faith as the religionists, perhaps, but faith nonetheless. They didn't—couldn't—really know the answers to questions like How did the Universe come to be? What happens when we die? What is life? Why are we here? They could only have faith that logic and science and the human mind would one day find answers to the questions. And their faith has been justified. But it is only in the last 50 years that we have evolved modern genetic theory, the only thing which can allow relative surety in the large human answers. Everything before was merely shrewd guesses and extrapolation. The people I have been looking to for answers—Rand, Pirsig, Asimov, Heinlein—are my grandparents' age. Even people of my parents' generation—Card, for example—grew up in an age which believed in the power of hard science to solve any problem on one hand, while on the other, was very suspicious of this powerful, distant Science thing and was not, generally, personally aware of the personal philosophical ramifications of science. Besides which they were—as a generation—raised by staunch religionists. That's very difficult to get past. It has long been my belief that it takes two full generations for a social change to completely take effect. So what I'm saying is that it's possible that the reason I feel like the only one with the answers, and get so frustrated with all of the above-named genius authors for knowing only parts of the truth and not seeing the whole, is that my generation is the first with the tools to put all these pieces together, living in an environment where people who think as differently as I do do not have to carefully hide their views to be able to live and interact with society (a result of my intellectual forebears' efforts? If so, thank you), and I am not alone, but instead in the vanguard of a new way of thinking.
        And these people who went before me are not deluded geniuses possessed of almost-truths, but pioneers laying the groundwork, clearing a path for me—us—to build on and lay a foundation for the future, making the best conclusions they could form from the knowledge they had—just as I do. For I fear it will be for the generation that comes after me—my intellectual descendants—to actually do the work I envision. That's OK. It's enough for me to make the vision possible.

        How I want to be different from them is by writing down my misgivings. They were all so sure—and so wrong in many particulars, however true their overall vision was. I'm sure the same is and will be true of me. But what I have always—always—wanted to do is separate those things I am certain of from my speculations, no matter how sure of them I feel.

        So the likelihood—the great likelihood—is that there are several others out there who have found much the same answers I have. Are they just like me? Do they have my goals and dreams, my strengths, my exact beliefs (or better)? Probably not. How many Heinleins were there? How many Rands? One of each, who did what they did. But these people—these brothers and sisters in mind—are out there. I just have to find them. I think I have already found one—Nooreen. She just hasn't had time to develop the ideas yet.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 5/24/1998 11:00:00 AM

Sunday, May 01, 2005


A reaction can be defined as the act of energy changing form.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/30/1997 12:21:00 PM

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Obstacles to capitalism

There are, as I see it, two obstacles to the perfect capitalism—that is, where quality wins. First is lack of access and open information. This creates situations where low quality wins, merely because people don't know about, or can't get access to (often because the low-quality businesses have tried to block that access & information, or override it with noise) higher quality products.
Second is the shortsightedness of man. This is why Standard Oil did so well; even though people must have known what could happen, they didn't believe it would, or didn't think they could make a difference, and went to the cheaper place and let the older places go out of business. There are other effects, as well, but mostly along these lines. This is primarily a cultural thing.

7/9/2007: I'm not really going through my journal entries to comment on them at the moment; I'm republishing them on my blog at the moment. But I can't let this one sit. I wrote this long before I had an Economics education, and it's not bad. The first part I definitely still agree with; information access is a major economic problem creating many disequilibria. But I'm not so sure about the second. The problem that was obviously foremost in my thoughts when I wrote this was the Apple/Microsoft problem. But first, that may not be as big an economic problem as I had thought, however I may dislike the outcome. Peter Klein has some interesting insights on this subject. Second, the Standard Oil case I refer to—where Standard would come into a small town across from a local gas station, drop their prices, drive the local station out of business, and then hike up their prices higher than the local station's ever were—is apparently apocryphal. So much for high school History class. Third, I now think that the other major obstacle to a properly working capitalism (besides artificial constraints imposed by government) is externality problems (a topic that deserves its own long post, so I won't elaborate here).

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:20:00 PM

Monday, April 25, 2005

Automatic hyperlinks

Automatic Hyperlinks! here's what the Web should be like; it's the next step toward Originist. Write a browser where you can select any block of text (even links, although they still also behave normally too) and turn it into a hyperlink. You would have three default options (possibly in a pop-up menu): One would give you definitions of the words and/or phrase you selected; another would (try to) take you to the most definitive link on the subject—say, for instance, you select "Apple Computer." This option would take you to Apple's homepage. If there were not clear definitive link for the subject, it would take you to: Option three, the list of links. This would require a much-better-than-current search engine, which would list links by relevance, with definitive links on top, then indices on the subject, or perhaps before those, dictionary entries, encyclopedia entries, and history of… links, both for the words and the concept, then lists of books, articles, etc.; then, maybe, a list of actual pages by appropriateness, only one page per site, and not based on how many times those words appear on a page, but whether they appear in the title or any descriptions of the page, etc. This part will be lots of work. But what about pictures, or just things people think of & want to know while browsing? There must be a way to type things in. All of this is presumably working toward the Originist. Money? Plug-ins?

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:17:00 PM

Friday, April 22, 2005


• Intellect is an emotion. You know what is right because it feels right, because it makes sense, because all of the pieces of that particular puzzle in your head fit in places that feel appropriate, that feel right. People consider intellect as part of the consciousness, the ego. It is not. Only the choosing mechanism itself, that calls on and decides to use the intellect, is that.
• Your mind will come up with answers—or at least with questions—on its own, if you encourage and let it. Lots of them. Don't worry about why—it just does! You are not your intellect. You are only your memories and thoughts. All the ideas and emotions come from somewhere deeper. You don't need to know how it works to use it, and in fact if you insist on knowing how it works before you use it, you'll never find out, because you'll have no means to find the answer! Exactly why this should be true I am still unsure of as yet, but I am sure it's true.

—Make sense of everything. This does not necessarily contradict the above. Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it doesn't make intuitive, gut sense to you.
• Every piece of knowledge that you encounter, either take in and understand, or admit you don't understand it and put it aside. never allow yourself to partially understand something, taking it in and making it your own without comprehending it fully. Understanding your own emotions is the first, most important key to this.
This is what I did with Ayn Rand. I allowed her to convince me that what she said was right, to believe it was right, without fully understanding why each thing she said was right.
        You will never succeed until you understand what you know, and as you get new data, understand that, and integrate it into who you are. This is the key.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:16:00 PM


If you have nothing worth dying for, you have nothing worth living for.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:15:00 PM

Monday, April 18, 2005

Virtual Mode


• "I am capable of interpreting your commands and questions and verifying your actual intent when you misspeak yourself or are vague."
        -p. 231, Virtual Mode, Piers Anthony.
Cat is incredible. Every great leader needs an intellectual manservant of this nature. The three are ultimately perfect companions for any man with great things to accomplish. These are three roles which would be highly difficult to integrate into less than three individuals.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:13:00 PM

Blogging again!

Woo hoo! I'm posting again!

It's been quite a while since I've put anything up on this blog, and now three in one night! I'm not sure I can contain myself. First my PowerBook died :( then I was swamped with other things, and then minor technical issues (combined with more lack of time) conspired to ensure that Genius/Idiot was dormant. I know there are at least a few people eager to read the bits of wisdom I have collected, so I will try harder in the future to keep to something resembling my once-a-night schedule. Hm. I wonder if I can somehow set up a delayed-posting system to post while I'm away at summer camp, etc. Has anyone heard of such a thing?

Well, it's my bedtime now. Later.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Current Thoughts at 4/18/2005 08:57:00 PM


I find it interesting that no one has commented on the title of this blog. I haven't quite figured out what it means myself; it just feels right.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Current Thoughts at 4/18/2005 08:51:00 PM

Thursday, March 03, 2005


The opposite of wrong is not right; it is another wrong. Right lies between extremes of wrong.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:12:00 PM

Wednesday, March 02, 2005


A law must be obeyable, enforceable, and should never remove the right to strive for life, liberty or property. You can take away these things, but not the right to fight for them. Penalties for noncompliance must be real and limited, so that if a person is willing to pay the consequences, he is welcome to break the law. The purpose of law is to ensure the maximum personal freedom of all subject to that law. Morality is not set by law.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:11:00 PM

Monday, February 28, 2005


Most people only want to worry about whether they're doing their job well, not how much money they're going to make. To put it another way: People want to focus on providing or creating value, not what reward they will get for it. Let them. Institute systems which reward hard work, dedication and value, not grubbing for money or jockeying for position. The greatest reward should go to those who provide the greatest value. Although it is every person's job to look out for themselves, and no papa-knows-best system should presume to usurp that duty, nevertheless a person should not have to think much about it; they should just receive what they've earned. In other words, the honest man should not have to worry about unjust treatment. He should be on his guard and be able to protect himself, of course, since no system with any freedom in it can be perfect in that way, but when the upstanding members of a society (without whom there would be no society) band together to create the rules which govern them, they should be intelligent enough to achieve their goals, while being flexible enough to change them if they are incomplete or wrong, but only then. Our present systems fall somewhat short of this mark.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:10:00 PM

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Four Factors II

• To continue on the Four Factors: Moreover, in the context of a single battle, the Four main Factors can overcome any subfactors.
• I'm considering adding a fifth: Mobility. For if your enemy can move and you cannot, you are dead and none of the other Four Factors can help you. I'm considering a separate category because mobility is not solely dependent on equipment.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:09:00 PM

Wednesday, February 23, 2005


With history, it is not always so important to ascertain what did happen so much as what could have happened; what fits in with all the evidence and makes sense. After all, that is the prime purpose of history: to learn from the achievements and mistakes of the past and to see how we got to where we are.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:08:00 PM

Sunday, February 20, 2005

Four Factors

Sun-tzu has five factors; I have four. (In no particular order…yet): Training (including motivation & discipline), Equipment (including mobility & supply), Tactics (including intelligence & communications), and men (sheer combat power: numbers, strength & readiness; i.e. condition).
        These are the four factors a leader must concern himself with; ignoring any one of these can cost him the battle. No three of these factors can completely make up for a lack in the fourth.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:07:00 PM

Friday, February 11, 2005

Five Pillars

These are the five pillars: Deep thinking, slow living, exposure to new things and experiences, understanding your emotions, and keeping your surroundings understandable (i.e. calm) and stimulating (i.e. interesting and beautiful).

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:06:00 PM

Atheism: The Case Against God II

• P. 29: "What is the theist attempting to establish the existence of?" He isn't. He's not. He won't. It is not the conclusion of the theist that God exists, it is his premise. It's a given. It's the basis of all he believes, put there by non-rational means. He is not searching for truth, he is not willing to accept any contradictions to his beliefs, unless the emotional contradictions become to overwhelming to ignore.
• P. 30: "Even if it is demanded that the existence of god be accepted on faith, we must still know what it is that we are required to have faith in." Not true. You must have faith now, in whatever I tell you, now or later.
• P. 31: "…to state that 'god exists' is to communicate nothing at all; it is as if nothing has been said." Dammit, stop talking as if the religionists were rational. They're not, almost by definition. You will understand nothing about religion until you accept this. You believe what you're told to believe, because you have been told to believe it, because you're evil if you don't. This works because man, while capable of rationality, is not inherently rational. Pure rationality is often not as good a survival tactic as doing what you're told. Religion is there to ensure that a person's rational, selfish tendencies are quashed in favor of behavior that benefits the community as a whole.
• P. 32: Have there been any wars between theists and non-theists before the communists? More to the point, did there exist a group of atheists large enough to wage war? Until the advent of science, atheism, in my view, was not a tenable stance.
• I'm beginning to regard this guy as either an idiot or as blindly attached to his beliefs as the religionists are to theirs. Obviously, someone who believes in the deity of Earth or Nature believes these things to be living, intelligent entities capable of deliberately affecting the world we live in and the lives of believers and/or nonbelievers. I'm sorry, but that qualifies as a god for me.
• P. 36-7: Look: Probably the best overall definition of a god is a being of such transcendent power that we as humans cannot touch that power, and they can dispose of us as they will, with only the interference of other gods to stop them. The ancients, when they created these gods, had no inkling that they were violating physical laws—would probably not have created gods that could do the impossible. Godhood is about power levels and creation—that's all.
        And at that I stop reading, at least for now. For if he doesn't realize the truth of what I've said above, I don't see what value the rest of his work can have.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:05:00 PM

Thursday, February 10, 2005


Desire comes from inside. The specific manifestation of these desires is molded by experience, but the basic desires themselves are inborn. This is the starting point of all human activity.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:04:00 PM

Tuesday, February 08, 2005


–Accuracy, always accuracy; what else is important?

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:03:00 PM


–As long as there are people that know things worth knowing that you don't know; as long as there are creations you are not tired of that you could not easily better; as long as there are ideas which have not occurred to you that you can discover; as long as there is beauty in the world that you do not fully comprehend, the person of wonder has fuel to continue, and to remain innocent.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/29/1997 12:02:00 PM

Saturday, February 05, 2005

Atheism: The Case Against God

[This Book Note refers to] Atheism: The Case Against God [by George H. Smith.]
[God, I love Delicious Library!]

(I got sick of Art of War)
• P. 10: I disagree strongly with his presumption that agnosticism necessarily indicates that god or the existence of God is unknowable. I think that many agnostics (myself included, in the past) would disagree with this presumption, and say that it can only mean that it is unknown—by anyone, or merely by them. His definition of atheism as including most agnostics is good, but there is no reason for everyone to accept it. I see no reason why three divisions work any less well than two.
• P. 11: How odd—I understand completely what Huxley is saying. he believes that the truth in this matter is unknown, not unknowable, but that the problem may just be beyond human capacity to solve. But this does not equate to the truth being theoretically unknowable; merely that we may not have the ability, as humans, to find and understand it. The concept focuses on the limitations of humans, not of the Universe.
        In fact, I cannot argue with Huxley's position. Do I, can I, know for sure that there is no god or God? no. Neither can I know with certainty that fairies do not exist, or that alien abductions do not regularly take place, or that white mice don't secretly run the world. I merely know that there is insufficient evidence to indicate that these things are real, and that there is significant evidence against these ideas. In fact, the only real evidence for Christianity is that so many people believe in it. If not for that, it could easily be dismissed as foolishness.
• He is (p. 11, e.g.) being 'way too pedantic and repetitive. I've got it already. This is a trap I could easily fall into in my writing, as I do in my speaking. Be careful! Have others read it to make sure.
• Rule: Don't fuck with other people's definitions unless you have a damned good reason. On page 13, he divides atheism into implicit and explicit. Implicit atheism is identical to traditional agnosticism! He'd better have a damned good reason for changing the splits around like this.
• P. 14: I'm really not sure I agree with all this. These are all definitions, and therefore arbitrary, but 1) it could be equally argued that atheism requires knowledge of theism to have something to not believe in. Lack of knowledge about theism would make you an agnostic, one who "doesn't know." By the same logic, lack of knowledge about gnosis, or lack of knowledge about knowledge, would create a fourth category, "None of the above," which would include rocks, trees, stars and babies, which I would think appropriate, as it seems silly to call a rock an atheist, which you would have to by his definition. And 2) you can't get away with calling all babies atheists—that is entirely the point of baptism right after birth—to bring these unthinking creatures into the arms of God and to make them theists, not atheists, by default.
• P. 21: "From the mere fact that a person is an atheist, one cannot infer that this person subscribes to any particular positive beliefs." This, in my view, is the major inherent flaw of atheism. It takes away beliefs, but offers nothing to fill the void. It is simple negation. This is a horrible thing to do to a person: to remove their beliefs and then to leave them empty, with no purpose or meaning or direction. I've been there; it's not fun. I had to go through it, being the philosopher himself. Most people don't need it, nor would they be likely to find their own way out. Theism, by itself, does imply a set of morals and values and reasons and answers, which vary according to which branch or sect you subscribe to. There is no such thing as simple theism. Atheism isn't even an "-ism"—it's the negation of others' beliefs. Simple negation is not enough. Atheism must be only one facet of a new belief system.
• Can we honestly analyze atheism without a deep analysis of why people believe in God? And yet he seems unwilling to do so, instead focusing on the reasons why they're wrong. P. 24-25: Let us all now cry at the unfairness of the world. Bah. Let's ask why, with an uncritical eye, these people behave this way. We know they're wrong; let's discover why they insist on this wrongness. "…these are the issues to which a theist must address himself if he wishes to confront the challenge of atheism." And yet this is not true! These are the questions that the theist knows must not be raised, or confronted directly, for he fears the answers. This sentence of his presumes that his opponents are rational, and yet "…the average believer…was persuaded to believe for emotional, not intellectual reasons," and "is impervious to arguments against the existence of a supernatural being, regardless of how meticulous and carefully reasoned these arguments may be." Not the picture of a rational person who would respond to a challenge of this nature.
• P. 26: He seems to believe that the simple absence of religion—the absence of any beliefs at all, in fact—would be better than the existence of theistic religion; that theism is inherently almost completely evil. [I say that] it is not enough to merely deny God; one must consider why theism exists, how it is used, how it is useful, and what its good as well as bad points are. To deny that religion has any good points is to call humanity as a whole incredibly stupid. I'm sorry, but we've lasted too long and done too well to be so stupid. There must be reasons.

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/28/1997 12:01:00 PM

Thursday, February 03, 2005


        Quintessential question: How to get the most value out of the information I take in? Certainty: There is too much information, too many books, to ever dream of being able to read it all, or even some significant portion. Therefore, if you wish to take in all it is important for you to know, what you actually read or absorb must be distilled and of high value and quality. How to accomplish this? How even to determine what extant books are of worthy quality, let alone how to compile and condense what exists into more meaningful format?

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/27/1997 12:03:00 PM

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

1/27/05 Letter to Nightlife

The following letter was published in the January 27, 2005 edition of the Carbondale Nightlife.

Communism has gone—not quite a distant memory, but even now there are high school graduates and college students who have no clear memory of the time when the Earth lived under the constant threat of global thermonuclear war.
Communism is finished—oh, it still lives on in places like China and Korea, but China is opening up to free markets more and more each year, and North Korea is starving.
The Soviet Union is history—and yet we are less free than we were 15 years ago.
The Cold War is over—but Americans are being held in military brig indefinitely without trial.
Twenty years ago a push of a button could have started a nuclear war that would have destroyed our civilization—but today, you cannot check out a library book without fear that the FBI won't secretly demand your library records.
Today our biggest threat is terrorists who might blow up a building or two—whereas twenty years ago we faced a nation with the will and firepower to raze our entire country to the ground. And yet now we have "airport security" and "no-fly" lists; now we have warrantless searches and secret courts; now we have "Total Information Awareness" and mass arrest and deportation of foreigners.

The Cold War was won. Democracy and capitalism were definitively shown to be superior to absolutism and communism. Victory over the Soviets was supposed to bring us a new era of peace, prosperity and freedom. So why do I miss the "good old days" when I could fly in an airplane without being treated like a criminal? Because of a few barbarians with boxcutters?
If, as our President says, the terrorists attacked us because they "hate freedom," then they are winning. Let me say that again: The terrorists are winning. Not through any military superiority, but by our own hands, through the actions we have allowed our government to take to make us more "secure." We are less free today than we were on September 10, 2001. To the extent that that is true, to that exact degree, we are losing this war, and will continue to lose it.

Right now, at this very moment, there is an American citizen sitting in prison who has been there for more than two years. He has not been brought to trial. He has not been given access to counsel. He has not even been formally charged with any crime.
Think about this for a moment. Forget about airport security checks, no-fly lists, TIA, TIPS, PATRIOT Acts and all the rest, and consider the fact that an American citizen is being imprisoned indefinitely without trial on the sole basis of the signature of the President. The right of habeas corpus—to have the charges against you read in open court, in order to protect against false or malicious imprisonment—is one of the oldest and most sacred of our rights. It is the only individual right written into the original, unamended Constitution. And our President has wiped it away with the stroke of a pen.
What does this mean? It means that any President, now or in the future, can declare any American an enemy combatant and have that person locked up indefinitely without any jury having to hear that person's case. Yes, this means you. And you. And you. And me. There is no legal barrier any longer to the President doing this whenever he chooses. Except, of course, that useless, unenforced, old-fashioned document called the Constitution of the United States. But that document doesn't seem to have much effect nowadays.
This sort of power is completely inappropriate to the President of a free, democratic Republic. It is far more appropriate to a dictator.
Does that frighten you? Do you fear the consequences of calling our President a dictator in public? Your very fear is a measure of how far we have fallen in this supposedly free country. This is supposed to be the land of the free and the home of the brave. If we don't become brave—and soon—we will not remain free for much longer.

Jim Syler
Vice President
Students for a Libertarian Society

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Current Thoughts at 2/01/2005 10:06:00 PM

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Art of War II

• P. 32 (I'm skipping back and forth): He [Sawyer] seems a bit disdainful at the ancient Chinese rulers' disdain for warfare. I'm not sure I agree. Wars of defense can be expensive. Wars of conquest can be very lucrative if you win, but what do you get if you win a war of defense? A bunch of dead bodies on your land and your kingdom safe for another year. Their policies seem to have worked; why disparage them?

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/27/1997 12:01:00 PM

Friday, January 28, 2005

Art of War

Notes on Ralph Sawyer's translation of Sun-tsu's Art of War:

[This Book Note refers to Sun-Tzu: The Art of War, translated by Ralph Sawyer.]

• I'm not so sure I want a quite so scholarly translation at this point. I'm only peripherally interested in ancient Chinese history; I'm primarily interested in military and philosophical value. For instance: I don't really care, at this point, who Lord Shang and Han Fei-tzu are. Maybe I should just avoid the notes. Perhaps I should find a contemporary military translation, leaving out nonessential Chinese history and personages, and focusing on how these doctrines apply to modern philosophy and warfare.

—Screw it; I skipped to the actual text—

• I pretty much agree with everything so far (p. 168; p. 2 of the text)—although again, I'd like a more Western viewpoint; I don't really feel like dealing with Yin and Yang and Heaven and Tao. But I do have an issue on p. 168: Sun-tzu says that "If they are rested, force them to exert themselves." I have an alternate viewpoint, that says "If they (the enemy) are weary, force them to exert themselves. But if they are rested, consider letting them rest…and rest…and rest until they become bored and unready and stir-crazy and neglectful of maintenance and generally complacent—and then attack."
Always consider, with every action, what you teach your enemy. Not what the enemy may learn—that's simple counterintelligence. But what you teach him—about how you fight, about your competence, about your methods, and about war.
• Never forget—either when considering your own forces or when doing battle with your enemy—that war always boils down to privates and new sergeants and lieutenants—to those young men on the battlefield who actually operate the equipment and do the actual fighting. It is they who actually fight the war, and they, in the end, who collectively decide the outcome. If their morale is low, if they are complacent, if their fear controls them, if they are incompetent or poorly trained or do not understand the objective or how to accomplish it, you will lose no matter how intelligent, well-trained and motivated your senior leaders are, or how detailed, thought-out or well-made your battle plans are, or how superior your military is in equipment or numbers. (Actually, numbers can save you here, if you are willing to waste your near-useless men. Given working equipment and no way to escape, men will fight, as well as they can.)
        So when considering the previous note, remember that nearly everything your enemy's young fighters know about war they will learn from you. Try and teach them all the wrong lessons, if you can, so that they learn the right ones only disastrously.

This is the doctrine of my life:
• Above all, especially in warfare, understand why you do what you do. Blindly following any doctrine could lead to disaster.* Only perfect—utterly perfect—doctrine will not lead you astray under any circumstances—and how will you know it is perfect if you do not understand it?

Posted by Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 12/26/1997 03:00:00 PM

Me? Blogging?

Well, damn, I've finally done it. I've entered the blogging world.

I didn't think I would, really. I mean, I had nothing especially against it; I had read several blogs and found them interesting. I just considered it kind of faddish and silly, for the most part; people making a big deal about bringing even more garbage to the 'net.

And then I found MacJournal.

I had been looking for a good journaling program for the Mac for years, and never found one that I felt suited my needs. I'd even tried MacJournal a couple of versions back and, while good, it didn't quite catch my imagination. This time, though, when I looked at it, it seemed to have the features I needed. I think it was the flexibility of nested journals that finally sold me.

What got me excited about this program was the prospect of typing up all my old journal entries. I have plenty of half-full journals laying around, filled with everything from useless whining ('though it's good to look back at how you've felt sometimes) to some quite interesting (to me) philosophical dissertations and thoughts I didn't want to lose. But they weren't doing anybody, including me, any good sitting around gathering dust. Entered into a program, titled, indexed and searchable, I could finally make use of all those old thoughts and ideas. And then I noticed that MacJournal also supported auto-posting of journal entries to a blog.

And that was ruin.

You see, the main reason I had never really been interested in blogging was that I just didn't think I had anything to say. I didn't want the pressure of coming up with something pithy and important every day or so, and I refused to spew unmitigated stupid blather. (Occasional stupid blather, like this post, is okay.) But my journals? Being able to post my journals where the world could see them, possibly learn from them, appreciate them, give interesting, constructive feedback on them, but more likely respond with rousing choruses of "you suck"?

That I couldn't resist.

So I spent damn near all day fidgeting and fooling around with various blogging software and websites, and ended up with a ridiculous combination of programs, sites, hosts and computers to make this thing work. Those that know me will laugh when they hear the concatenation every post goes through.

Here it is:
1. First, I type up the entry in MacJournal on my PowerBook.
2. Next, I click the button that sends the post to one of my subordinate (category) blogs on
3. Then, Blogger logs into the iMac in the other room (yes, back in the same house the post originated from) and posts it to my iDisk (yes, this was the only way to do that).
4. Simultaneously, the post is uploaded to Apple's servers, where it is hosted on the appropriate category page for nice people like you to look at it.
5. At the same time, Blogger emails me a copy of the post I just sent to the category blog.
6. An email client that I have open for this express purpose (my usual client can't handle the task) auto-emails the post back to
7. Blogger repeats the process above, logging into my iMac and posting to my iDisk, except this time to my main blog page, so the post will not only show up in its category, but also on the main page.

So let's be clear here: I send my post across the country so it can be sent back to my house to be sent back out to another part of the country, simultaneously sent back to my house by another route then back out across the country, to get sent back to my house again, and again sent to the other part of the country, to be downloaded and read by people who are probably across town.

Wild, huh? But it works. Oh, I know I could get around all of this, and get more functionality besides, by using a dedicated client like Blogwave Studio, but then I'd have to copy and paste each entry manually. This way, all I do is click a button, and computers do the rest of the work. Just like I like it.

Maybe I'll get fed up with doing it this way sometime; I really am missing out on a lot of cool features...but I'm just getting started. We'll see.

Well, it's 2:00 in the morning; I should probably wrap this up. A few parting notes:

• I've set this blog up in categories. The main page will always show the latest posts, regardless of which category they're from (kind of like memepool, but not remotely as cool).
• The categories are listed in the Links section of each page. Tacky, but it will do for now.
• Because of the rigamarole each post has to go through, some of the text on the main page may not look quite as nice as it does in the same post on the category page. Live with it.
• Also, comments are disabled on the main page. To comment, you have to click on the category link at the bottom of each main-page post. If anyone has ideas on how to make this fact more clear, please let me know.
• This one's important, so listen up: I don't necessarily intend to post every day. If you want to be notified when I do post, click on the nice little Monitor Changes button near the top of the page. Give it a try if you're interested in my (possibly insane) ramblings. Note that for now at least, that little button will only track the main page; there's not much point in tracking the category pages unless that one category's all you're interested in. Every new post will appear on the main page at
• I'll try to restrict my posts to about one a day, but I may get carried away and do several journal entries at once.
• Leave comments! Please! Just so I know somebody's reading this!

For those not so technically inclined (read: non-nerds): What is a blog? Blog is short for Weblog. Web log-->weblog-->'blog-->blog. Check out this Wikipedia article if you want to know (lots and lots) more.

Well, I guess that's all for tonight. Toodles!

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Current Thoughts at 1/28/2005 01:10:00 AM