Monday, October 25, 2010

Regarding Christine O'Donnell's Comments Regarding Masturbation

So, one Christine O'Donnell, a young Tea Party senate candidate from Delaware, has achieved a lot of notoriety for stupid-sounding comments from her past, as well as her Palin-like incompetence in politics. The one that seems to have gotten the most attention is the one where she says that, per Christianity, masturbation is a form of adultery.
The weird thing is that, at least within Christianity, she isn't actually wrong. It's based on something that the character of Jesus said, that one who feels lust has committed adultery within his heart. In fact, this line has been touted for years by one Ray Comfort, during his man-on-the-street interviews, to recruit people to his rather profitable cult. He uses two fallacious attacks to convince the victim that he is a murderer and an adulterer, both based on what Jesus said (the murder bit is based on feeling anger, and works the same way). The fallacy lies in the fact that it is being presupposed that what Jesus said was true. But, within Christianity, which already supposes the truth of the statements made by the character of Jesus in its sacred text, it is true.
So, when Christine O'Donnell believes that lust is adultery, people are all over her for her believing what all Christians believe anyway. I'm just wondering: Why hasn't it been a big deal until now?

Sunday, October 10, 2010

So There's a Vampire MMO in the Works...

So, apparently, CCP, the company that makes the video game EVE Online, is working on a Vampire MMORPG. It should be noted that it's using the old Vampire: the Masquerade intellectual property. You know, the one where the end of the world is coming and the various lines don't use quite the same mechanics and all that.
I'm not sure exactly what to make of it. The fact that they're developing a World of Darkness MMO, and that it's focused on the Vampire line, just makes business sense. However, it seems that Vampire fans really like the intrigue involved, whereas an MMORPG is usually a collection of quests/missions. (Making MMOs out of missions makes sense: It's easy to add/remove missions modularly, and it's also fairly straightforward to come up with new ones.) Now, sure, quests could have story elements such that they seem like PCs are backstabbing NPCs or something like that, but that wouldn't be all that genuine.
CCP has said that it's going to be focused on politics/intrigue/player interaction (, which makes it sound kind of PvP, which isn't really my style (not that I was going to play a Vampire MMO anyway), so there's that. I hope that they come up with an interesting way to do it, though. The industry could stand some innovation, something outside of the MMORPG trinity of quest, dungeon, and achievement unlocked.
If I had to take a guess, I'd say that the Vampire MMO will probably end up a lot like DDO: Players will prefer the tabletop RPG, but will play the MMO if they can't regularly play the preferred game, to get their fix. (FYI: This is what got me into DDO, though an important part was that DDO is F2P (free to play).)

There's a Crack in my Beast Below

Right, I meant to blog about this quite a long time ago, but I forgot.
There's sort of a bit of an enormous plot hole in the Doctor Who episode "The Beast Below". Fair warning: There are spoilers regarding this episode of Doctor Who. Also, I'll probably talk as though you've already seen the episode, so it would be good for you to watch "The Beast Below" before reading this, if you haven't already.
So, at the end of "The Beast Below", it is discovered that the titular character (the beast below, not The Doctor), who has been propelling the giant city-ship up until this point, goes faster when it's not being shocked in the brain every few seconds. Specifically, the creature came to Earth in order to help the humans, though it couldn't communicate with them, which is supposed to have allowed this whole scenario to emerge.
To make sure that we're on the same page here: for literally the entire journey of the vessel (a few centuries in length), the beast below the city has been being shocked, in the brain, at very regular intervals. This is where I see an enormous plot hole. It means the following:
-Whoever was in charge of this project had to, somehow, decide to start shocking the alien in the brain once every few seconds before they left Earth orbit.
-Whoever was in charge of this project had to then implement this shocking plan, including making the brain-hole and constructing and activating the probe, again before leaving Earth orbit.
-The probe had to go the entire trip without breaking, needing replaced, or needing to be turned off to be cleaned, repaired, or updated.
-For the entire trip, the probe's power supply had to be uninterrupted.
-They had to never want to stop or slow down. Since they thought that the frequent shocks were keeping the beast moving, they would have reduced or stopped them to slow down or stop.
-Nobody ever said "Hey, what do you suppose would happen if we stopped shocking the creature for a few minutes?" - at least not in a convincing way.
-Nobody ever accidentally turned the device off.
-No scientist in the control room ever went rogue enough to sabotage the shock system. Also, nobody ever successfully broke into the control room or hacked into the controls to do the same.

Basically, the decision to set up this shock system was extremely unscientific - grounded only in ... well, absolutely nothing - and keeping it in perpetual operation would be a logistical nightmare - as anyone who has to maintain any system can tell you.

P.S.: I'd have given more/better details, but I'm going on memory, and the episode was quite a while ago. Like I said, I meant to blog about this and forgot.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Was He Dead?

I've noticed a peculiar trend regarding the English language. Specifically, this has to do with tense and dead people. In English, when referring to someone who's dead, and describing that person with "to be" or "to have" or similar, one uses the past tense (except, of course, when using the word "dead"). So, for example, "he was tall" or "she had blue eyes" would be used, rather than "he is tall" or "she has blue eyes".
So, if someone's dead, then use the past tense, and, by the contrapositive, if the speaker is using the present tense, then the subject is not dead.
The problem is that a lot of people seem to assume that the converse and inverse are also true. That is, they assume that, if the speaker is using the past tense, then the subject is dead, and if the subject is alive, then the tense will always be present.
I happen to find it a bit annoying when this happens. I use the past tense when I'm referring to something in the past, but sometimes I'll be talking about something in the past and it happens to involve a human and a listener will assume that I'm talking about someone who's dead. Why? I don't know.
Does this ever happen to you?