Letters Column for February 2006: Sleepingness

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I am really sleepy.

If I get your letters wrong I apologize. It’s just the sleepingness. That’s the word I made up for it.

Donations for this month require many many clickies to find. Um. $170! Thank you. I don’t know if I mentioned but I figured out a few months ago how to actually read the things you say when you donate stuff and went back and read the donation messages from everybody. ^_^

So now I know!


Hah, Sweden is the land of consensus reality and consensus ethics, they wouldn’t even have the balls to start a war without holding a participatory meeting over it first.
— gumi

Orienteering is very important. If you orienteer you can get anywhere in Sweden, even to a war. Up the mountains, down the mountains, in the chocolate or the Ikea, even into deep caves full of toothy stalactites and hibernating beasts. Eventually you find the desired war or contest regardless of others’ participation. This is known as “ball bearings” because it allows a compass to supercede testoserone. That was a long way to travel for a short pun but orienteering allows you to do things like that.


I must find a way to work the phrase “corrugated Swedish ethics” into my conversation.
— Eric

I use “Hello! Observe! These are my fine corrugated Swedish ethics.”

However it is also possible to adopt a grim demeanor and deny responsibilty for crimes using this phrase. One would say,

“You might find this action despicable. You might hate me for it. But you must understand that I am not driven by the same motivations as ordinary people. There is a cause that serves as my beacon, a dark cardboard light of purpose that steers my course. You do not understand or accept what I must do because you do not share my corrugated Swedish ethics. I have no choice in what I must do, and that is why I am (sacrificing these people to the beast | eating my salad with the dinner fork | burping in public.)”

This gothic determination will win you no friends but nevertheless you will earn a certain respect and be a better dramatic character.


Two Thousand Six
Society of Flowers

— Penultimate Minion

I expect to go ahead and finish the writing this year. What happens then I cannot predict. Perhaps there will be a Singularity of some sort and jaguars will fall.

Many will die at the claws of the falling jaguars but this is a price that my corrugated Swedish ethics can accept.


Writing philosophical problems in Prolog generally doesn’t make them any easier to solve, alas.
— Metal Fatigue

Ah, you’re a LISP man!


Spare, perthaps, a thought for the poor host city to this weekend’s festivities, a dwindling community that was naive enough to expect the Superbowl to serve as a vehicle for their civic renewal.
— ADamiani

You can’t use the Superbowl as a vehicle! It doesn’t even have reins!

Seriously, I looked into this when I was selling my car and looking into possible cheaper vehicles. I said, “Well, the Superbowl is cheap!”

It turns out it just sucks as a vehicle and the referees are always backseat driving and then as a topper it costs more than my old car did.

Their CR of 4, in combination with their number (3) makes a covey of sea hags an encounter with an adjusted CR of 7. (DMG 3.0 p. 101)
— ADamiani

By this logic, they get animate dead a lot faster than a cleric, if that cleric is standing next to the tarrasque. ^_^

Does “kappa-radiation” cause you to develop a pool of water on top of your head?
— cariset

That’s why Three Mile’s an Island!


Your search – “constitutional primevalism” – did not match any documents.
— Metal Fatigue

I’ll have to write it up sometime. ^_^


Also, what is singularity, people keep mentioning it.
— mhoram100

The Singularity is an idea that, I think, Vernor Vinge first proposed.

The idea is this—and this is my formulation, not his, so it may not be mainstream.

Technology is mostly about making people’s lives easier. This includes the lives of the technologists.

So as time goes by, technology becomes easier to advance.

People don’t just make computers for business and regular users. They make computers for computer designers.

People don’t just make software for business and regular users. They make software for software designers.

And also all the cross-compatibility stuff where software helps computer manufacturers, medical advances keep programmers alive, computers help with medicine, and that stuff with physics and chemistry and (insert reader’s field here) that I meanly and viciously left out of this example.

So if you imagine that technological advance is always possible—that there’s always something you can do to make any field of endeavor a little faster and a little easier—then you come inevitably to the conclusion that technological advance isn’t constant. It’s actually accelerating. One person-hour of work does more to advance technology in 2006 than in 2005.

And it’s more than that, even. It’s not just accelerating. The acceleration accelerates. The stuff that people do in 2006 to make technology advance faster—why, we get more of **that **for each person-hour.

If you chart this forward you eventually reach a point where the world can change in an instant. That’s one formulation of the singularity—the point where everything becomes infinitely fast and infinitely easy. The more definitive formulation, however, is this: it’s that point in the future beyond which we cannot predict what life is like. We cannot understand what’s on the other side. Things changed too much.

People in Babylon could have understood our modern life but they could never have predicted it, no matter how cunning their prognostications. We’re one or two Singularities past them. So on the one hand when I talk about a Singularity I might be talking about that kind of thing—the next truly unpredictable era. Or I might be talking about the point of infinite technological advance.

The term can also refer to black holes. ^_^

Ack! Out of time! It’s noon! Posting!

Thanks everyone for your comments, continuing tomorrow—

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