Friday, March 31, 2006

Something about The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion

Don't know who out there has played Oblivion, but it's a great (although violent) game.

Some culture RE: Oblivion... (warning; contains explicit language.)




Naturally I've already found out a way to play dirty. Not that I didn't start the game knowing that. Nonetheless, I have determined a method by which one can get around the increasing strength of enemies.

Typically, when you level up your enemies get stronger. This was the case in the first Elder Scrolls game (that I played...), Daggerfall, but was not in Morrowind. (the third game.) -- gamer's note: the second game I played was BattleSpire... and there was also another game -- not an RPG -- Red Guard.

So here's the skinny; in Oblivion you no longer need to rest for your skills to increase. Your magicka and endurance regenerate on their own at an astounding rate, and you do not 'fatigue'. So provided that you have a healing spell you should be fine without rest. Use 'T' to wait, if you need to wait for stuff. I don't think loitering is a crime the way it was in Daggerfall.

Why rest? Because it levels you up. When the little meter indicates that you have raised 10 skill points in your Major skills, you will become eligible for a level, which raises your stats, health, etc.

When you level up, the meter is not 'reset'-- it simply is reduced by 10. So if you've gained 14 skills before your last chance to rest, when you level it will become 4, not 0. So you never lose your work on your Major skills towards levels.

So my strategy is this- once you have enough HP/Magicka/etc, stop resting.

Then, only rest when enemies become too easy or you want more stats/health.

Feel free to raise your major skills as high as you'd like.

The only downside is it is hard to control your stat gain (which is influenced by what skills you used getting that level.)

Ok, that's all...

Jonah Goldberg on the Congressional Black Caucus

from National Review Online.

commentary follows.

I case you haven't read about it yet; the Congressional Black Caucus doesn't really represent Black people in the US. In the world of 'diversity' where people need to be proportionally represented in regards to color and ethnicity, people's viewpoints and opinions are nearly always left misrepresented. And in politics, that is what really matters; who cares if you have a perfect representation visually of the minorities of the US in congress if they all think alike? Don't think it could happen? Just let them be in Washington for awhile.

end commentary.

I jumped on Protein Wisdom (Jeff Goldstein's blog) and grabbed a few links:

How foreign policy strategists have fallen into D.C. Groupthink here...

How our education system is failing (particulary terribly in the inner cities.)

Coming from Nat'l Review:

Deroy Murdock is optimistic about the future of Black Americans...

Earlier, Deroy was less optimistic; in particular about Black politicians...

Last year, Jay Nordlinger had some ill words for diversity-think:

More on the above story, Micheal Steele and J.C. Watts demanded an apology...

Rich Lowry on Katrina and the racial politics involved, among other things...

From the 'net: reports on some congress foibles & name calling. on CBC's opposition to Alito... Black Activists Criticise CBC's opposition to Alito...

Recalling 2004, the CBC reprimanded Harry Reid for comments about Clarence Thomas... (newsmax) views that 7 CBC (as of last sept.) are 'derelict' -- that is -- they are too conservative.

commentary follows.

The last link was very telling to me; makes a bold assumption that 100% of Black Americans are represented by particular issues; they do a good job of spouting a lot of bills but do not explain why any of them are helpful to Blacks. Also, what good is the CBC if it is helping Blacks at the expense of everyone else? We aren't given any facts as to why each individual bill is good or bad. To me, it looks like the Monitor is simply a litmus test for Black politicians very similar to the Roe-v-Wade litmus test that Democrats place on judicial nominees.

Perhaps things such as the CBC Monitor which claim to have Black Americans' best interests at heart but are using it as a cover for a liberal agenda are the reason that the CBC is having so many problems properly representing the views of their constituents. After all, are ALL of Barack Obama's constituents black?

It must be hard to tell what Black Americans want when you have two sides shouting the exact opposite things.


Thursday, March 30, 2006

Imprisoned Journalist Released in Iraq

via ABC News.

It notes that she is an editor for the Christian Science Monitor.

commentary follows.

My experience with these kind of stories is usually the sympathiser (to the cause of the terrorists) is treated very well. Journalists now seem to be treated very well; (Even if they are not sympathetic.) After all, it is a war of information.

They remind me of the Count in Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (the movie.)

When he has finally gotten custody of the children (and plans to kill them) they are talking as the Count drives them down a country road. The orphans detest the fact that he treated them like slaves. His response is:

"I've been tough, but fair."

Naturally he is just making sure the orphans don't jump out of the car before he can lock it and have a train run them over.

I wonder what train the Islamists have planned for us?

8:30 AM Haiku

I found the last egg
Where is the frying pan now
I'm not Rocky, dude

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

You Know You are a Word Geek When (#245)

You inadvertently refer to someone as an Autodidact.

(you then precipitously apologize for your inadvertant utilization of an obsure and erudite lexicon ;)

The Word is...

Ruby on Rails has become a big deal.

Check it out for yourself, even if you are not a programmer.

I'll be looking into it as well.

(via Dion Hinchcliffe)

Fanny Pack Shocker

via CNN.

Scary. I went through a problem-children rehabilitation program when I was young. I'm glad they didn't do that to me... the whole thing is scary; its like a freaky 1984/Brave New World-esque situation. I for one am outraged; I would rather they make problem kids do things that help the public good. Back in the day, convicts were forced to be teachers (among other punishments.) (Apologies to any teachers who love their jobs ;)

Afghan Christian granted Asylum

Via Fox News.

A great move for Afghanistan politcally and spiritually.

And God bless and protect that Christian solider, Abdul Rahman.

Commentary Follows.

Persecution makes the spirit stronger, and think that this is an advantage to us in the War. They play a Mosque bombing and blame it on the Jews; but we can still turn the persecution of Christians and other non-Muslims against them. They don't just have to win Arab and Muslim minds; they have to win Western minds of all kinds. And I'll bet many non-Christians would not appreciate a Christian being executed just because of his religion.

The Contract of Anonymity, Part 1 of a Series

I'll post them as they come to me. My first rule for the anonymous:

I. An anonymous person is disallowed from making physical threats, whether they be on a person or a person's posessions.

Explanation: When a physical threat is made, it implies more than is obvious; the party making the threat is creating impact by taking on the risks associated with issuing the threat. In other words, you're saying, "I feel so strongly that I am willing to risk physical confrontation to make my point." (Think about that next time someone says, "I'll f****** kill you!" -- hopefully people don't say that to you much, but you wouldn't say that unless you really meant it)

An anonymous person takes on no risk for making a physical threat; while the party threatened still does. The threat is thus both rude, inacceptable, unjust and unethical.

The solution is to not trust any anonymous party that uses their anonymity as an advantage in making physical threats. Whomever does so is abusing their rights and ignoring their responsibilities. Most uncivil!

Ciao for now.

Send me some of these, Please!

Really, I mean it. Lemons that big are mind-boggling; hopefully they do not suffer from the problem of oversize zucchini; that is, losing flavor quality when they become huge.

If not; please... send me some! I'm already getting the juicer ready...


We're going to need a bigger juicer.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

The School of Modern Propaganda

Astonishing! Private, independant publishing at its finest. He outlines various (it is a good list) subtle and not so subtle propaganda techniques that are common nowadays. Stay armed against the enemy in the War of Information!

The Most Downloaded Music Video on the Internet. Ever.

See it for yourself. The story is; they made it and released it without permission of their record company (the guys dancing are the band members) and it was done for $10. Excellent!

AI: The Lowdown

Via Futurismic:
...The development of game-playing programs reached a high point in 1997 with the defeat by a computer system from IBM called Deep Blue of chess grand master Gary Kasparov. Eliza was developed and refined, and in 1995 Richard Wallace developed Alice, a program that is now the world's most successful chatbot. Indeed such AI programs have reached a level of sophistication that allows them to be routinely used in interactive Web sites and automated telephone services by many companies, including Coca Cola and Burger King. Meanwhile mobile robots directly descended from Shakey have successfully explored the surface of Mars.
Read the first part here, at ZDNET UK.

While this isn't news per se, it is a very good rundown and summary of the history of A.I. One thing that is left unmentioned is what some of the algorithms developed:

...This was of course the long-standing idea amongst AI researchers that there is a fundamental set of algorithms that if supplied with enough information will eventually produce an intelligent system.
In particular, Neural Networks were thought to hold the keys to the kingdom, or so to speak; they conceptually mimicked human intelligence the best being artificial 'neurons' (called perceptrons). The issue was, of course, that any number of them were still only able to solve linear problems only. Nowadays they are using multi-tiered neural nets. The link above shows an algorithm involving a hidden layer, which is capable of some non-linear computation.

The simplest example of the inability of a basic perceptron is XOR. with inputs 1, 1 you get 0; 0, 0 you get 0; but for 1,0 or 0,1 you get 1. If you see the basic learning algorithm produces a line; no line can be derived from these inputs. (Work it out if you wish.)

Another algorithm is the Genetic Algorithm -- (it is a type of evolutionary algorithm) basically, think of the way DNA works with natural selection. Basically it is more of a population of candidate solutions; the most fit (the best solution) is more likely to be spliced into the others; as an example. The requirement is that they be abstracted to a point in which this is possible. So the 'chromosome' could be a sequence of moves; etc. Mutation, crossing-over, and so forth may be activated to stochastically create new candidate solutions. A genetic algorithm is a very advanced greedy algorithm; one that due to its random nature is able to often escape local maxima (solutions that look the best compared to all others, but are not the best; better solutions are located somewhere else in the searchable area of solutions.) Genetic Algorithms are great if you want to search a gigantic area of possible solutions and don't know where to start.

The third algorithm I found compelling in A.I is the A* Search Algorithm

A* Search is basically another advanced greedy algorithm; but uses estimates and heuristics to insure that is does not finish with a locally optimal but not generally optimal path. In other words, when it finds a path that appears optimal, because it optimistically guesses, it will not assume that there is not a more optimal path. So given that its search area is closed, it will always find the most optimal solution.

A lot of its effectiveness depends on its heuristic h(x) which guesses the optimal path length. You also must be able to accurately assign weights to nodes/paths.

A.I. can be summed up like this: Define a search area. Search the area for the optimal solution. Repeat. So, when a robot 'perceives' it must abstract what it sees so that it can apply a search algorithm. Neural nets 'search' in a different way; they search for a set of weights that approximate the optimal solution closest (A la Newton's Method.) so it is actually, during training phase, doing a search.

How this applies to a real robot is simple; the robot must pre-decide what it is going to do based on current and prior perceptions; before each decision the robot runs searches on each decision or set of decisions to decide how well it meets the current and or long term goals. For this purpose any of the three algorithms above could be applied.

But note-- as good as these algorithms are, they are still artificial; nothing about them inherently mimicks human intelligence.

More recently, the goal of AI has been to make 'reasonable decisions'. What this means mainly is that we have decided that human intellegence whether possible or not, is not close at hand; and the most funding does not come from pie-in-the-sky theories. A good balance of theoretical development (abstract algorithms) and practical development (concrete, applications of algorithms) feeding each other will no doubt be the path to wherever Artificial Intelligence is headed.

What we may end up with in the end will be a different type of intellegence than our own. I have few doubts that it will complement our own. Just as we are a creation of God; machines are a creation of man (and thus also a creation of God in effect.)

Ok, back to work, folks.

Yale's New Major


NELC major Tammer Qaddumi '06 said he thinks the current NELC program is "totally outdated" due to its emphasis on ancient and classical studies. But he described the classes on the Middle East in other departments as "trigger-word" classes along the lines of "Terrorism 101" that study Middle East issues from a U.S. perspective.

"What you want is classes that deal with contemporary political issues in the Middle East but that do it from an organically Middle East perspective," Qaddumi said.
Don't base everything on just one NELC major's comments. But if they are at all symptomatic it means even worse things for the academic standards in Yale. Honestly, what has in the past caused collegiate education to be effective in promoting free thinking and advancement in society and civilization is its emphasis on "Ancient" and "Classical" studies. Without them it is basically a trade school. What he is suggesting, more or less, is to make the NELC program a program designed to indoctrinate people into Islamist philosophy. Keep up the good work, Yale.

Without the perspective created by ancient and classical studies, NELC will just become an advanced madrassa for the wealthy.

(via lgf.)

Monday, March 27, 2006

Welcome All.


Oh. I'm the only one here right now.

Anyway, this is just to establish that I'm making a blog here; The title 'Information War' refers to the fact that we are now engaged in an information war. To quote the Hugh Hewitt show:

GR: It's an information war. Terrorism is an information war disguised as a military conflict.

Read the whole thing here.
(via Instapundit.)

My opinion is that there is always an information war going on; at least, usually. Pacifists abhor physical violence but gladly engage in information war. They really aren't pacifists. All media is involved in the information war. The printing press and the English Bible were weapons in ongoing information wars. In a sense, the printing press was the early beginning of the information age. An information war cannot be specificly won or lost through military conflict or violence. Instead they become subservient to the goals of the information war.

Totalitarian countries have mostly lost the information war; but their physical armies and police keep the people (whom they lost to) from overthrowing them. The outcome is not always good. Compare the French Revolution and the American Revolution. In both cases, an information war proceeded a physical, military conflict. The result of the American was good, the French certainly for ill.

To qualify my statement above about winning or losing via military of physical violence; such things become subservient to the information war, and the goal of the information war is to win minds, words, ideas, and the public mainstream dialogue. In this sense, violence and military conflict can be used by both sides as weapons.

An example. Osama bin Laden. -- Liberals assume that catching him is the goal of the War on Terror (well, perhaps they USED to.) many people did! But it is not. That would suggest that the war we are fighting is a physical conflict; and we are working to catch the enemy leader. Instead, it is an information war. The Terrorists are simply trying to win more Arab and other minds to their cause. Were we to find or fail to find Osama is meaningless; but outcomes would be victories for the terrorists; were he to die he would be a Martyr, were he to miraculously escape it would make us seem weak, and it would also invigorate the Islamists. So, now realising that this is an information war, we seek to ignore Osama. He is a paper tiger set up by our enemy to try to trip us up; hoping that we have not realised that since they could not win any kind of military conflict, they have moved information war into its place, but made it look like it has not.

So blogs are a weapon in the information war! Consider blogs the Hoplite troops of the Athenian military, and the big media and Arabic government outlets the Persian Mercenaries. We win every time, provided that we stand up, and fight. This is even easier for us; we have an advantage in this war and we need to play it fast & tight.

Salutations & Good Morning!