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Character Bios

Elliot: Me but virtually always serious.
curi: Me but less restrained.
Isyn: Dungeons and Dragons character. Grew up poor on farm; wanted power; joined cult and became priest of Amilise Siliv. Wants to learn arcane magic. Some semi-evil tendencies.
Lia: D&D character too. Real name is Caeli Melarn. Think of a paladin, but more holy and more rare. She's also a princess.
Amilise Siliv: A Goddess.
Other People: They don't matter much. *g*

UPDATE: Silly me, I totally forgot to explain that Lia and Isyn are romantically involved, which is why Isyn got mad when curi said Lia had a crush on curi.

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curi: Go to sleep.
Elliot: not tired
curi: write a blog then
Elliot: about..?
curi: i dunno
Elliot: brilliant
curi: hmpf, it's not my fault you're boring
Elliot: What, bitch?
curi: I called you boring.
Elliot: ...
curi: Go outside.
Elliot: It's cold outside.
curi: so wear some clothes
Elliot: gah, I hate you
curi: wow, i got skillz
Elliot: you're proud of this?
curi: can you do it?
Elliot: umm -_-o
curi: thought so
Isyn: I can
curi: no, when you say mean things you *mean it*
Isyn: your point being?
curi: that's no fun
Isyn: fuck you
curi: QED
Isyn: fuck you
Lia: umm, guys, you know you're on air?
Isyn: whatever
curi: what!?
Elliot: *^_^* yeah, I kinda thought I'd get a free blog off you people embarrassing yourselves
curi: *outraged, strides towards Elliot*
curi: embarrassing myself!?
curi: *trips on rug and falls on face*
Elliot: teehee
Isyn: you suck, curi
curi: sheesh, Isyn, can't you tell the difference?
Isyn: What are you talking about?
curi: *exaggerated sigh*
Lia: Isyn, he means that, while everyone knows he's a sweetie, and nothing he says is serious, you seem to be mean
curi: Me a sweetie? I think someone has a crush.
Isyn: (sounding all formal) For this grievous offense against my honour, I challenge you to mortal combat. Choose your weapon.
others: -_-o
Elliot: I wonder if my blog should be blood-free
curi: that'd be boring
curi: I mean moreso
Lia: Your blog is wonderful, Elliot
Elliot: *beams*
Isyn: Hello!?
curi: ok, ok. I pick, ummm, a spork.
Isyn: You're going to dual me with a spork?
curi: I will pwn you with my spork, bitch.
Elliot: (to camera) pwn is a stronger version of own. You weren't worth owning, so I pawned you... :-D
Isyn: Well, I choose a longsword.
curi: Hey, if I find a dragon named 'spork', could he fight for me?
others: -_-o
Isyn: Scared, are we?
curi: yeah, that's it...
curi: Hey, Elliot, I got an idea. you should make this a teaser, and then write the fight later.
Elliot: why?
curi: cause you don't have a clue what to write, and I was making an excuse for you. sheesh, dumbass.
Elliot: hmmm
Isyn: *prays*
Elliot's Living room: *fades out*
Grassy Field: *fades in*
Audience: holy shit, a prayer just worked?
Elliot: hmmm, maybe i should write char bios
Audience: ya think!?
Isyn: *draws longsword*
curi: *draws plastic spork*
Narrator: The noon sun beat down on the two combatants, shining off Isyn's chainmail, sword, and shield. curi was notably lacking in metal attire, but at least his spork was clean. Isyn had a murderous glint in his eye. curi looked amused. Elliot was busy hastily writing char bios. Lia appeared worried, but chose not to interfere.
curi: blah blah blah. what a terrible narration.
Narrator: Excuse me?
curi: *stabs the narrator in the neck with his spork*
Narrator: *dies messily*
curi: Alright, so, picture some dumbass decked out in heavy stuff, with a sword and a shield, but no helmet. Picture some grass, and some trees in the background, and a river off to the side that I intend to dump Isyn in (I hear it's fun to swim in armor, and I do want him to have a nice time). And picture me, handsome as can be, decked out with a bloody spork--
Isyn: (shouting) For Amilise! For Lia!
Isyn: *charges*
curi: How rude!
Elliot: *pauses time*
Elliot: More later. *waves*

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Morality

Imagine you traveled back in time and met Bob the Caveman. And imagine you tried to tell him about cars. "They're made out of metal...umm, it's like rock but harder, and they are empty inside, and they have wheels...these are like feet, and they go really fast and they are powered by fire. They can cover a day's walk in the time it takes to eat a meal." Bob might find this a bit far out, but it's within the realm of possibility.

Now, imagine you tried to tell him that people drive them around according to very strict rules, and though there are millions, going very fast, they rarely hit each other. Everyone follows little bits of paint on the ground -- that you have to look for to notice -- and obeys colored lights. Now Bob would laugh. How could so many people be so organised, with very little enforcement, just some signs, lights, and paint!? How can they, when two lanes merge, weave cars together one by one -- acting in unison with total strangers? How can they take turns at a stop sign, and let pedestrians walk in front of them? How does anyone ever manage to change lanes in heavy traffic? The amount of consent created over driving, is far more amazing than the cars themselves.

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Relationship Theory

Premise: Jack and Jill have a relationship.

Challenge: Name one obligation Jack has to Jill. "To act rightly," does not count, as all people should do that all the time anyway.

My Solution: Can't be done. Details of some physical events needed. (Comment if you have another...)

Conclusion: Relationships, in and of themselves, do not create obligations.

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Numbers exist. My computer exists. I can touch my computer, but not a number. Prima facie, their must be at least two kinds of existence. I go with physical and explanatory.

A cave exists in both ways. There is the physical existence of various elementary particles at various points in space at a given time. And there is the explanation that it is a cave.

If Jack and Jill go to the park, there is the physical movement of their atoms to the park, and the explanation that friends are having a picnic. The physical description doesn't even know the location titled "park" is a public place with grass and trees. It just has coordinates in space.

Anyway, what this entry is really about is Relationship Theory:

Premise: "Relationship" is an explanatory term. It does not describe a physical event.

Obligations are explanatory. They also cannot be deduced from pure logic (because they depend on things in the real world). What they are, is when certain events happen, what is right to do changes; obligations are alternations in the moral landscape. For example, agreeing to meet David at the park, changes the moral landscape by making showing up at the park the right thing to do in scenarios where it otherwise would not have been.

Premise 2: To be true, explanations of why an obligation exists must, at least indirectly, refer to something physical.

Conclusion: Relationships, in and of themselves, do not create obligations.

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Morality

Here is one of the best general theories about morality:

If a moral theory fails by its own standards, it is wrong.

Combined with some epistemology like "If two moral principles contradict, they can't both be right," we can reject many, many bad moral theories.

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It was suggested that the US flag shouldn't be used as a pro-war symbol. The person who suggested this is explicitly pro-American and anti-war. So, if they don't have to go together, how can it be right to use the first to support the other?

The problem with this objection, thus far, is that it has no content!! For any two propositions A and B, using A to show support for B, could be objected to on the basis that someone could support A and not B. But we know that's not right because propositions can (via some explanation) support other ones.

So, to make the "don't use the flag to support the war case," what's needed is to demonstrate that the explanation connecting the two is wrong (not simply to have someone support the flag and not the war, because that person may be wrong/inconsistent).

Anyway, a simple reason that supporting America implies supporting the war, is that the war will make America safer (Iraq funds and supports terrorism). Or in reverse, the anti-war position of wanting Americans to die is not consistent with being pro-America.

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Have faith in your values. Don't expect people to disagree. True ideas win arguments. True ideas win converts. True ideas get popular. Good values reward you. Bad values "reward" their holders (no need to do anything to them).

And as to "rewarding" holders of bad values -- it's a form of imposing one's values, and thus needs a non-arbitrary, non-reversible justification.

To explain "Don't expect people to disagree" this comes up a lot with parenting. Like people will ask "What if my child wants to commit murder?" Well, why the fuck would he want to do that? You're right that murder is wrong, aren't you? Yes, you are, so why expect child to disagree..? Comes up with the pro-death people too, who think it'd be wrong to waste extra life watching TV, but expect people to do it...

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premise: good values make their holder's life better
premise: people want nice lives
conclusion: people hold values they think are good

scenario: X thinks Y has bad values (X and Y are people)

Applying the conclusion to the scenario, we discover that: Y considers his values to be good

premise: X and Y have different values
premise: different values can't both be right
conclusion: X or Y (or both) are wrong

So, if Y knows at least one of them is wrong, and considers himself right, he must consider X's values to be wrong.

So we discover that when X declares that Y's values are wrong, what we are really looking at is a two-way dispute. X and Y are fallible. X does not have authority. So, to impose his values on Y, X needs more than to feel really sure. He needs some non-arbitrary explanation of why it's right for him to impose his values. And it must pass a simple test: it can't work in reverse. As X can claim authority, so can Y. As X can claim feeling sure, so can Y. As X can claim divine inspiration, so can Y. etc

(A non-reversible justification for value imposing is "he's attacking me" which gets us self-defense)

What does this have to do with the pro-death people objecting to TV reruns? Well, before they try to impose their anti-rerun values on others, they need a non-arbitrary, non-reversible justification. They don't have one.

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Here we find a perfectly decent article on why anti-aging research and medicine are good. However, one bit stuck out at me. The author writes:

I seriously doubt that people granted longer lives will fritter away their extra time watching reruns of Gilligan's Island (though some might, and it would be their business). Instead, they may well engage in longer-run projects such as ecological restoration or space exploration.

The problem, is the parenthetical. The author considers it none of his business what people do in their private lives, to the point that he doesn't consider any options wrong.

There is a common idea, which asserts that the public domain is objective, but the private domain is subjective. It's wrong to rape people, to give speeches inciting murder, and to run a red light. But in your private life, anything goes. Watch whatever TV you want, in whatever amounts. Be productive, or not. It's a matter of taste.

Now, this idea has been fruitful. It allowed us to have law and order, without curse-word-police and productivity-police stationed within our homes, telling us to expand our vocabulary and sleep less, or perhaps to stop drinking beers, or whatever.

However, from a philosophical point of view, the idea is simply not true. Choices can be wrong. Whether they are in the public or private domain doesn't matter.

Returning to the article, the author was arguing against people who feared immoral behavior. And he told them that, in the private sphere, he endorses immoral behavior as everyone's right. And his best defense against the possibility of immorality is that he doubts anyone will do it. What he should have said is something like, "If watching Gilligan's Island is the wrong thing to do, why will people want to spend their time on it?"

More on this last bit in next entry.

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Replying to a comment by Sharon Ferguson from the thread about gender stereotypes:

I can tell none of you have children.

Just because some people choose to keep their personal lives, and especially their children's personal lives, private, does not mean they do not have children.

As to Authority of Experience, it's not valid. The truth of a statement, depends only on it's content. If an idiot says something true, it's still true. If an "authority" says something false, it's still false. How do we tell which is which? Argument about the subject matter, not about the speakers.

I knew I was having a girl. I painted her room BLUE.

Sounds perfectly reasonable. I like off-white myself.

One of her many gifts was a Tonka truck. For five years, it was kicked around her room, ignored. Finally was given to her baby boy cousin, who knew exactly what to do with it. My daughter always sneered at it.

The whole point of being a subtle, powerful, devious, gender stereo-type meme, is that you can overcome blue paint, and a few trucks. In fact, many gender stereo-type memes are so highly evolved, that they still win out vs. parents who intentionally try to go against the stereotypes.

My daughter loves to laugh and jump and play and climb. But she is particularly concerned when someone gets hurt or knocked down or when someone tries to bully her. Call it personality.

I will, thank you.

Call it genes.

Genes code for various things, including perhaps the structure of one's brain. However, just like many computers made of different parts, behave the same way, so too do human brains despite structural differences.

But babies in general know from the start what they like. And girls tend to like dolls. And boys tend to like trucks.

This is an assertion that I'm wrong, but not an argument.

I was what you consider a tomboy. I was thoroughly disinterested in barbie dolls. When I got older though I did want to collect porcelain dolls...look but dont play with them. I always felt silly trying to feed milk to an inanimate object. But I have never considered myself anything less than feminine.

The gender stereotyping thesis does not say that every last person will act according to the stereotypes. It says they are subtly and not-so-subtly encouraged (and sometimes forced, coerced, ordered) to do it, by parents and others.

I should say what needs to be looked for is MERIT. there are some things women CANT do...and some things men cant do.

There are differences in physical body makeup, but needn't be any in personality. I agree employers and bosses should look for merit.

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About stains: if it won't come out, it won't come out *on you* and is thus nothing much to worry about. (Unless you go somewhere fancy.)

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Inspired by a comment on the last Relationship Theory thread:

Most of the time, I focus much much more on saying true things than saying a lot. There are notable exceptions, and it's important to try and say a lot when one wants to create new knowledge. But when explaining things I already know, or just talking randomly, my strong tendency is to be sure to get things right. One result is that, sometimes I say very little, or say things that seem trivial. "Horribly bad thing X, is awful, don't do it," or the like.

Anyway, the thing is, I think people often try to read a bit too much meaning into some of my writing. Really, most is not intended to be controversial. If you read my views on most issues, and go "duh" and agree, I'll be very happy, and you probably did not miss the point.

Also, sometimes I say things that are true, but often misused and abused in arguments for bad stuff. I know quite well that just because some people misuse a truth, doesn't make it any less true, and rely on this. Sadly, I'm often frustrated by people conflating the truth with the common assumptions about what it means. So, umm, don't do that (lol).

You may wonder about the use of a bunch of uncontroversial truths. One point is simply that although they really ought to be uncontroversial, and are among reasonable people, many aren't actually very popular :-/

The other is really a general approach to explaining things: start with simple, true statements to sketch out what the answer to some problem has to look like. Rule out the absurd and inconsistent, and maybe figure out on what continuum(s) and controversial "fact"(s) we must make a judgment on. So, basically, start with what we know. Then, look for a powerful explanation that fits with what we know (that will be controversial, and is what opponents ought to be arguing with).

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