There is a famous theological argument known as Pascal’s Wager which, rather than making the usual appeals to morality and intuition, instead tries to show that believing in God and the afterlife is the logical, rational thing to do. While Pascal admitted that it is not always possible to “make yourself” believe in God (the Christian God, that is–what, you thought we were talking about some other God?), you should at least act as though you do until you are convinced. The core argument frames the question of whether one should be religious as a “wager” that you can’t opt out of. Even if the bet is a losing one, the argument goes, you’re better off betting on God because the potential for reward is so much greater if you win. Sounds pretty impressive, huh? Let’s look at the argument in a bit more detail. I’ve paraphrased one common form of it below–with a few superficial modifications.
What do you want? It seems like a simple question, but it can be deceptively difficult to answer. Even when you do have an answer, “wanting” something doesn’t seem to be any guarantee that it’s possible, or if it is, that you’ll actually do it. How can you reconcile the things you want to do, and the things you are capable of doing, with the things that actually get done? There is no easy answer, but it can help to think of your wants as distinct from your wishes–and to realize that you can wish for making better choices, not just for having better choices available. Continue reading
The other day I saw the following quote on a bumper sticker:
“A government big enough to give you everything you want, is strong enough to take everything you have.”
–Gerald R. Ford
It got me thinking about the relationship between power and freedom, and how that relationship applies not only to governments but also to businesses, authority figures, laws, programming languages, and even games. Continue reading
Like many hackers, my first real programming language love was Lisp. Paul Graham, who inspired my own explorations of the language, is a particular advocate and has written quite a bit about Lisp and what makes it different from other programming languages. So what does make Lisp different? Why does Lisp continue to be one of the most powerful, flexible, and concise programming languages in existence, despite the fact that it was invented in 1958–making it the second-oldest high-level programming language in the world? Continue reading
As our transition from agriculture to manufacturing shifted the focus from food to material wealth (commodities), we are undergoing a similar shift now where material wealth is becoming as cheap as food became during the industrial revolution (introducing similar problems of overabundance). As material goods were the most valuable things before the industrial revolution, ideas and information are what’s most valuable now–in other words, service industries. This has implications across the economy not just concerning which businesses will make the most money, but how most of that money will be made. Continue reading
This Monday, July 7th, my fiance and I went to the airport and picked up this little guy:
His name is Beetle and he is adorable. Normally I think pugs are hideous (it was her idea), but Beetle is the sole exception. Obviously. Continue reading
How come nobody told me about this before? Amber Smalltalk is a dialect of the Smalltalk programming language, which is what caught my attention. I have been a fan of Smalltalk for years, but the image-based development environment proved a little too cumbersome and monolithic for my tastes. Amber to the rescue!
After my initial “project” (modifying the “counter” example to count only by primes), I’ve started working on a web-based game. It won’t be the much-anticipated port of my game “Press A to Win” (my apologies to both of you who were hoping it would be), instead it will be a game about numbers! A game about finding numbers’ unique prime factorizations, specifically. What? Why are you looking at me like that? Of course it’ll be fun!
Anyway, you should go check Amber out. It’s great. I’ll have something more for you to look at next week. Until then, stay curious!