Uncategorized

Back in action!

I’m back in action after taking the CFA Level II Exam this past weekend. Basically preparing for the exam completely took over my life from early April through the first week of June (on top of that I am taking a class so I can take the CFP Exam in March 2016). This is all great stuff for my professional life — not so much for my writing.

The good news is that I will have several months before CFP prep kicks into high gear, which means I can get my writing back on track. First thing I have to decide is what to do with a couple works in progress: whether to go the indie route or try to get some exposure in a more traditional market.

Advertisements

Just an update

Just as an update, posts will probably be sparse for the next two months. I take the CFA Level II exam in early June and have CFP education classes every other weekend till December. As such my writing time will be mainly dedicated to producing new work. I look forward to picking the blogging back up with more vigor when my schedule calms down.

Excuses excuses

Just a brief update: I started a new job about two weeks ago and the new commute has been a real shock to my previous writing/workout/study routine. As such, I’ve been quite lax in updating this blog as of late — particularly in regards to my serial fiction project. Rest assured, I remain committed to my writing (and this project in particular). Things should slowly get back to normal over the next couple weeks. In the meantime please bear with me.

2 + 2 = 5

Yes, we shall set them to work, but in their leisure hours we shall make their life like a child’s game, with children’s songs and innocent dance. Oh, we shall allow them even sin, they are weak and helpless, and they will love us like children because we allow them to sin. We shall tell them that every sin will be expiated, if it is done with our permission, that we allow them to sin because we love them, and the punishment for these sins we take upon ourselves. And we shall take it upon ourselves, and they will adore us as their saviours who have taken on themselves their sins before God. And they will have no secrets from us. We shall allow or forbid them to live with their wives and mistresses, to have or not to have children according to whether they have been obedient or disobedient – and they will submit to us gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of their conscience, all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an answer for all. And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in making a free decision for themselves. And all will be happy, all the millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There will be thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand sufferers who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of good and evil. Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in Thy name, and beyond the grave they will find nothing but death. But we shall keep the secret, and for their happiness we shall allure them with the reward of heaven and eternity. Though if there were anything in the other world, it certainly would not be for such as they. It is prophesied that Thou wilt come again in victory, Thou wilt come with Thy chosen, the proud and strong, but we will say that they have only saved themselves, but we have saved all. We are told that the harlot who sits upon the beast, and holds in her hands the mystery, shall be put to shame, that the weak will rise up again, and will rend her royal purple and will strip naked her loathsome body. But then I will stand up and point out to Thee the thousand millions of happy children who have known no sin. And we who have taken their sins upon us for their happiness will stand up before Thee and say: “Judge us if Thou canst and darest.” — Dostoevsky, The Grand Inquisitor

Suppose we could destroy an idea.

Should we?

Take sexism for example. Or homophobia. Or fascism. I think most of us can probably agree that these are Bad Ideas, and that the world would be better off without them. Suppose we could line the isms of our choice up and have them shot — erase them from human consciousness, never to return. Who gets to decide what stays and what goes? How would we justify the legitimacy of their decision? Is it desirable, or even possible, for human society to continue to evolve without Bad Ideas?

I am sure you can guess what the Grand Inquisitor would have to say on the subject.

Modern technology is often seen as a democratizing force. However, I would argue that the same technological infrastructure makes it possible to brainwash people on a scale never before imagined. It is tempting to believe the internet offers pure, unfettered access to information. In reality what most of us call “the internet” is a whole bunch of pages indexed by a search engine. The search engine mediates access to information. The search engine quite literally shapes our perception of reality.

Take a look at Hidden From Google. There is a fine line between the Right to Be Forgotten and the Power to Alter Reality. In a sense they are one and the same.

Again, the Grand Inquisitor:

We shall allow or forbid them to live with their wives and mistresses, to have or not to have children according to whether they have been obedient or disobedient – and they will submit to us gladly and cheerfully. The most painful secrets of their conscience, all, all they will bring to us, and we shall have an answer for all. And they will be glad to believe our answer, for it will save them from the great anxiety and terrible agony they endure at present in making a free decision for themselves. And all will be happy, all the millions of creatures except the hundred thousand who rule over them. For only we, we who guard the mystery, shall be unhappy. There will be thousands of millions of happy babes, and a hundred thousand sufferers who have taken upon themselves the curse of the knowledge of good and evil. Peacefully they will die, peacefully they will expire in Thy name, and beyond the grave they will find nothing but death.

Site changes

I am making some organizational changes to the blog. From now on this blog will focus solely on creative pursuits (writing and my amateur attempts to learn to code). All the finance and personal improvement stuff that’s been posted on here will remain, but future posts will appear on two separate blogs.

So for the record:

Writing & Programming: Sex & Violence

Finance & Economics: The Naked Short

Personal Improvement/Motivation: We Are Not Special

I wrote my first computer game

battleshipsIn a long ago post I wrote about learning computer programming, and how I think it’s a good thing for everyone to explore at least a little. I finished my first real program the other day. It’s a very simple game. I call it Battleship (no relation to the board game).

Here’s how it works:

  • You select a famous battleship from a list (stats are different for each ship)
  • The program randomly selects an opponent
  • Your ship “fights” the opponent in a series of text-based combat rounds (I haven’t learned anything to do with graphics yet)
  • The combat module uses a random number generator to determine the probability of a “hit” during each combat round.
  • If the random number generator registers a “hit,” the code divides the “attack” rating of the shooter by the “defense” rating of the defender to determine the amount of damage.
  • Once a ship reaches 100% damage the event triggers a change in a Boolean value, which in turn triggers the end of the battle and announcement of the winner.
  • Finally, just before exit a pithy bit of text appears describing the outcome

Clearly this isn’t exactly going to set the world on fire. Still, it was a valuable learning experience. I really enjoyed coming up with creative solutions for the problems that cropped up along the way. More importantly, as I worked on Battleship I began to see some of the same principles at work in (much) more complex mainstream games. When you strip away all the fanciest features every videogame in existence boils down to a bit of code running on a loop.

I don’t have nearly as much time or energy right now as I’d like to code. I’ve started sketching out a plan for a new text-based game – one that people might actually enjoy playing. I will work on it as time permits. When I finish this next game I hope to put it online for all to enjoy.