Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Youtube arguments.

This is liable to be my most boring post in a long time, as it revolves around a personal and petty squabble on youtube. It's not (really) philosophical, it's not about DnD, it's not all that clever, and there is generally speaking, nothing you can learn from either of us. this is why I usually don't take part in Youtube arguments.... ok, that's just a lie. I do and I actually get a kick out of them, but I'm aware that they devolve quite quickly. 

Usually they're fairly limited, Youtube only gives you a set amount of space in which to operate, and quite frankly I find it too restricting. I usually don't take debates further than a couple of posts, however I (mistakenly) made an exception in this particular case. 

This all started when a poster called Monibuhai made a comment on this video, and the author of the video responded with what I felt was a mistaken opinion of the original poster. I responded (my first mistake), and he asked questions I viewed as genuine so I took the time to answer them, even if it took multiple posts. 

That was my second mistake. He then responded to all of them.... which is fine. Except he did so also separately branching them off into different directions. I responded to all of them, and later to another response of his to someone trying to make the same point as me (albeit with far more patience and eloquence after my 10th attempt at explaining my position).

It has now turned into such a tangled web of posts that it's nigh impossible for the readers to discern where any of it is going or what the responses relate to.

I am sure Proudfootz's version of events will be different to mine, and I will invite him to comment once I am done writing this. I will also be inviting the two other posters involved. 

I will also include in the comments section a complete, ordered, transcript of what is on the youtube forums. I have not changed any words, though I have moved posts around, and removed headers. This is likely to be what you should read first before hearing either side to this story. 

So what happened?

He ended his video with "If you're not familiar with the Quran, I think this (Ibn Warraq's book) is a very good place to start". Me and many other people, felt that surely, if you're unfamiliar with the Quran, maybe a good place to start would be reading it. I felt that your opinion on the Quran would be least biased if you had read nothing about it beforehand.

That is all. I felt first that proudfoot merely misspoke, but later I felt he genuinely does not want you to read it without first being primed by his (and Warraq's) opinion. I find that exceedingly intellectually dishonest. I find it to effectively be "Please don't read this with an open mind, please read it only after a 200 page criticism of it".

When I tried to point this, and only this, out. Well.... that's where the fun began. 

The original poster mentions: 
Warraq's position. 
Warraq's background. 
Warraq's education. 
Warraq's personal history. 

First: Does that sound like someone who has not considered Warraq's position? I would suggest not. I may be mistaken.

"Why not consider [his] opinion?"
"I don't think it's fair you're accusing him of not considering his opinion"
"Why is it 'not fair' that I point out that a different point of view is worth consideration"

Interesting... seems Proud misunderstood my comment. Notice my bold is something unfair, whereas his bold is not. Surely an honest mistake. 

Lets carry on:

I say pretty much what I say above: 
"If you're unfamiliar with the Quran, maybe a good place to start would be reading it"
"I never suggested that anyone NOT read the koran"

Did I say he did? I merely suggested the order should be Quran-> Warraq, rather than his suggestion of Warraq -> Quran. Nevermind, another honest mistake... I'm sure we can sort this out. 

I repeat:
"You are accusing him of not considering Warraq's opinion, when he may have. That is unfair. You are therefore, at best, angry at him for disagreeing. That is also unfair."

Now maybe I shouldn't have described him as angry. However...

"Why do you think it is 'angry' to have a different POV? Why is it 'unfair' of me to point out the obvious implications of the original post?"

While I suggested he seemed angry at Mo for disagreeing with him, he seems to have taken it as me thinking all disagreements are angry. Well, I guess another honest mistake... hmm...that's 3 by now. Also, notice his bold has yet to match mine. Well I guess..wait 4? Well... I guess online people can easily misinterpret stuff. 

Well, I'm sure we can sort this out... maybe...

As I said above the "obvious" implication to me was that he had considered Warraq's work. I've considered it, and I'm perfectly capable of writing a post identical to his. 

"I don't think they're obvious implications. 

I expect people to read the source, make up their own minds. Not have their opinion coloured on the matter prior."

"You are mistaken if you think I have recommended (as the original post did about Warraq) that anything *not* be consulted."

Did I say that somewhere? At this point I reread my entire list of posts. I certainly didn't intend to. All I want is the order changed. Read it with an open mind then consult whatever additional material you want. Turns out I didn't. Well...I guess another hone... ok, you know what, at this point I doubt his sincerity. Is he doing this on purpose to make a point? I specifically said "Not have their opinion coloured on the matter prior". In other words an order of events is suggested. 

What follows is a series of verbal barbs and repetition, followed by:
"So you do believe in consulting the source before consulting material about a source"
"You continue to make the false claim that I have told anyone to not read the koran."

What the hell? Is someone writing things on my account waiting for him to reply then deleting them? Obviously he is honestly mistak... oh for f*** sake, he's lying. This is some cheap debate tactic he's employing... no.. no.. stay calm, maybe he has some condition. Natural human psychology. Confirmation bias. I dunno something that makes this guy not reprehensible. 

Ok, how about this, lets see if he answers any of my questions. 

"The original poster claimed the only 'proper way' to understand islam is to accept it"
"Please, once, demonstrate where the poster makes that claim."

No response... maybe he missed it... could be an honest mistake. (Anyone keeping track at home?)


You know what... maybe it's me. Maybe I was too rude initially that he just wanted to get back at me for that and therefore didn't see the points I was making. Well, I suppose that's... wait what is he saying over here...

"Many people seem to be offended by the suggestion that mental growth is possible".

I proceed to read the entire 2 years of posts to try to find one person who has made such a claim. It seems he thinks anyone who disagrees with him is now disagreeing with "mental growth". 

I offer this:
"I will take back every word I have written to you on the topic if you can find someone who you claim is "offended by the suggestion that mental growth is possible" who will say so themselves, without you inserting words in their mouth."

Isn't that fair?

Hey, a new player:

"If you subtract Ibn Warrik's book it would not effet Islam at all but if you subtract the Quran there is no Islam as we know it. Explain to me why we should read his book before we read the book that launched the faith?"

Hey look, it seems he agrees with me on the topic. That was pretty straightforward. 

"I am not trying to 'subtract' the koran - never said such a thing! So long as folks like you float such false accusations it is hard to take you seriously at all."

What a surprise. Another honest mistake from proud.

So! In the interest of fair play, I'm fascinated by what Proud's take on the series of events was and have invited him to comment. It could very well be that over the course of 3 days and with... 42 posts, he has yet to address my initial concern at all. (Nor incidentally, any other concern). 

I have questioned the other two posters regarding his assumptions about them, and if they respond I will post them. 

If you've read this far I applaud you!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Iraq War

Someone recently told me that the Iraq war was "easy to criticize in hindsight". 

Here is what I thought of the Iraq War on April 19 2003, when the war was just beginning. 

You need to register for the link to work, but I'll recreate the essay here:
Don't we all just love a pantomime?

I particularly love all the booing and hissing we've all gotten to lately. Oh and not to mention the:

Saddam is evil and will kill us all!
Oh no he isn't!
Oh yes he is!
Oh no he isn't!

Well allow me to throw a little wrench into the works by going: Maybe it's not all clap clap... boo hisss..... maybe.... just maybe.... now I'm going out on a limb here....

Neither side is completely right and moral and good, and omni-benevolent.

The News is just starting to bug me now. I mean you'd expect it to be at least a little trustworthy. Either side.

American Representative on Generic News Channel: 
Yes all our aircraft are accounted for.
******Fzzzt****** [Channel changed]
Iraqi Farmer standing next to downed apache: 
I shot it! I got a helicopter!
Ummmm....... Except that one....... it malfunctioned......
Farmer: Oh no it didn't!
A.R.G.N.C: Oh yes it did!
Farmer: Oh no it didn't!
******Click******* [TV turns off]

You may have gathered I'm not too fond of many 'News' channels these days either. 

Now before I start this, I should make it clear, that I personally am, in summary:

An anti-war Muslim (Liberal Sunni) Arab/English/Italian/Iranian quarterbreed university student who has lived in England and the United Arab Emirates at (very roughly) almost 10 years each. I am also strongly opposed to Saddam. 

Draw whatever conclusions from that you wish although I reserve the right to ignore some of those conclusions. .


The reasons I was/am anti-war are the following.

The disregard for the UN.
The instability it would cause in the region. 
The unneccessary loss of human life. 
The improvement made to the lives of those living in Iraq is disputable. 
The motivations behind the Iraq invasion are unclear. 

The disregard for the UN.
For a war which is supposed to empower the UN, it does not have much support from the United Nations. 

The Bush/Blair coalition tried their utmost to get UN backing. This I applauded. I however did not applaud that what they seemed to be doing is just giving the UN more and more chances to change their minds, before Bush/Blair decided to do whatever they wanted anyway with utter disregard for the UN. 

They ignored any and all of Iraq's attempts at appeasing the UN. First it was about inspectors, so Saddam let them back in. Then all of a sudden it wasn't about inspectors anymore... it was about general disarmament.... what did that mean..... well nobody knows, we were just told that Saddam didn't meet this requirement... whatever that requirement might be. We weren't priviledged enough to know... infact neither was most of Blairs cabinet apparently, which accounts for the walkouts, and resignations. 

This was has been met with alot of contempt by the Arab world. For a man who has decided that he wants a war on terror, Mr. Bush seems to be the one person causing the greatest amount of Anti-Americanism, which believe it or not... I know I might be bringing in a few wild theories here... may be a cause of terrorism. 

The longer the west tries to run Iraq, the greater will be the resentment. Washington shows no grasp that its determined efforts to keep the UN on the margins are against its own best interests. Bush needs to hand over the running of Iraq to a more legitimate international authority before his army of liberation morphs into an army of occupation. He should heed the advice of Iraq's senior cleric: "You toppled Saddam, now leave."
--Robin Cook. Former Foreign Secretary and leader of the House of Commons until he resigned from the government last month.

The instability it would cause in the region.
So far the damage has been less than I had expected admittedly.

The economy of the UAE which is heavily dependant on tourism is bound to have suffered somewhat although, the disruption there didn't seem to last more than a month, similarly with Turkey, which is, IIRC dependant somewhat on tourism. 

Unfortunately for the Middle East in general, it is very much an oil economy... although most of the countries are trying to diversify. Dubai here actually being IIRC the best example with only 10% of the economy dependant on oil. (With large oil reserves in Abu Dhabi however, this may be a much different case throughout the UAE). 

Apologies for being isolationist. Luckily for the Middle East, Saudi Arabia makes up over 40% of the total GDP of all the Middle East combined, Kuwait is in Second place with roughly 20% and the UAE 3rd with roughly 15%. These three are also the three countries (In reverse order), who are trying the strongest to diversify. 

However, this means that they need the money they currently make off oil is vital to funding projects (again sorry to keep using the UAE as an example but I know it the best), such as DIC, and DMC,(their venture into E-Business, IT and Media), and the Palm Islands Projects (their venture into real-estate). 

With America invading Iraq, and potentially eroding oil prices, along with foreign investment etc, the Middle Eastern countries will have a much harder time getting the funds they need, and therefore completing the projects they need to complete, by the set deadlines, (Dubai had hoped to be as near enough to independant of oil prices by 2011-2015). 

To be slighltly more isolationist, Iraq itself is not going to be stable for a long while to come. 

I am aware of the video of Saddam's Statue being torn down, and the cheering crowds. I am also aware of the jeering crowds of protesters against the US invasion in Iraq. 

Saddam's statue was brought down when American and British troops claimed they had 40% control of Baghdad, and 80% control of Basra [Where the invasion began]. 

The statue of Saddam which so many people claimed marked the end of Saddam's regime, was met with same day reports of 120'000 of Saddam's troops still at large and hiding in the north. (Many admittedly running to the north, and posing little threat). 

This further being followed by reports of Saddam's main stronghold not being Baghdad (which most people IMHO should have assumed), but Takrit, where he was born, and where his strongest supporters are. 

This isn't a game of risk. We're not playing capture the opponents capital. The remaining loyal troops (Note: This will not be anywhere near the 120'000 reported hiding in the north after Baghdad.), will become terrorists, hindering all efforts to rebuild the country, making life more difficult for both the Americans and the Iraqis. 

Furthermore still, the situation of the world at the moment. 

Lets concentrate for a second on the remaining members of the Axis of Evil. We have Iran. Iran has a much greater support than Iraq does, whilst the Arab world probably has greater resentment for America than Saddam, there are few actual Saddam supporters. (Similar to the situation in Iraq itself, although there the concept of American support is not quite as negligible.)

Iran on the other hand has a very large Shi'ite support base. (15% of Muslims are Shi'ite, there are an estimated 1.2 Billion Muslims. Making 180 million who come under the command of the Ayatollahs. We then of course have to drop this figure to account for people just registered as Shi'ites who have no religious leanings, people who just don't support the Ayatollah in general.)

Still however, with a starting figure of 180 million, this is not a small number. Furthermore, Muslim support is more strongly behind Iran than Iraq.

Now this is not relevant until you consider what people will be thinking in Iran. Iran has not been as restricted by Sanctions, it trades weapons with Russia, and right now, like N.Korea and Syria, will be worried for it's safety, and will begin to amass weapons. (Not neccessarily of mass destruction, but it has now seen that the USA, who named it alongside Iraq, is quite serious about going to war, with again, almost total disregard for the UN/ World opinion.).

Syria too was told it is viewed as commiting hostile acts by supplying night vision equipment to Iraq. (Syria has denied this however). Again Syria, is a much bigger threat than Iraq is. 

Finally we have North Korea, which has now decided, on cue from America and Britain, that the UN doesn't matter, and has no faith in the UN's war preventing abilities, and has gone double speed with it's accumilation of (apparently what Bush was so scared of with Iraq), WMD's. Citing the war in Iraq for proof that it needs them. 

None of the options now available to the Americans/Coalition are viable ones. 

1) The Coalition can stay there to police the place: Bad idea, the Iraqi's whilst happy to get rid of Saddam, are not going to be as happy with being oppressed by another group of people, and that IS going to be how a semi-permanent American force is going to be seen. As oppressors, rather than liberators. 

Note: I think it should be made clear here that I do not think all Iraqis will see it that way, only a large number. (A very large number. I personally would say the majority, but I'll not commit to that just yet.).

2) The Coalition can leave: And everyone will accuse them of blowing the place up, reducing alot of it to rubble, leaving it in chaos, and then expecting the rest of the world to pick up the pieces after it. (The world does not like running around with a pooperscooper chasing the superpower who likes to play.)

3) The Coalition can give in to the UN and let IT handle things: And everyone will accuse them of blowing the place up, reducing alot of it to rubble, leaving it in chaos, and then expecting the UN to pick up the pieces after it. (The UN also does not like running around with a pooperscooper chasing the superpower who likes to play.)

4) The coalition can set up an interim government until Iraq can be democratic: The interim government will be seen by many as the US staying, and when they leave they'll be told they're running out, leaving the country in shambles, unless they can perform near miracles while they're there.

The unnecessary loss of human life.
We have all heard how this is the most accurate war in history or some such thing, however, there is also an abundance of friendly fire, but we shall come to that later. 

For now, lets think about one thing: This is the most accurate war in history. As opposed to folk dance. Were this the most accurate mathematical representation of the mating habits of bees, we would expect very little loss of life indeed. 

However this is not the case, there is a war on, and following from this, there were 250 civilian casualties (Dead), by the time the Iraqi troop casualties hit 70. 

Last count I checked near the end of week 2, had the civilian casualties at 2700 injured. 

The UN inspectors being able to police the region for WMD's would have resulted in 0 injured and 0 dead in the best case scenario. As this is a world record for accuracy, we shall take these figures as a best case scenario. 

We have however the deaths caused by the sanctions, and Saddam's response to the sanctions. Which combined account for the loss of far more than the numbers of people dead as a result of actual bombs/bullets from this little war. 

I see alot of the people here on infidels seem particularly concerned about American soldiers. Not so much British, probably a little more for Iraqi civilians than US troops, but lets add one more group into the mix. 

Iraqi soldiers. For the most part, the Iraqi soldiers are not, were not, are unlikely to ever be, die hard Saddam supporters. They are mostly conscripts. They didn't want to be there, and are scared to go back, or run away. Many people are doing it for money for their families. Saddam offered if I'm not mistaken the equivilent of $2000 to the families of many soldiers if they'd fight for him, or in some cases join the martyr brigade. In a country where many are starving, that is alot of money. Especially to someone whose family is, as just said, starving. 

Whilst many of them surrendered, there were many who didn't, not because they're just the stereotypical, sword waving lunatic in Saddam's favour, but because they were scared, in all likelyhood of both sides. 

Let us continue with the accurracy issue. For a war supposedly so accurate, one of the weapons deployed, (if not used, I have yet to recieve information as to it's use.), is the MoaB [Mother of all Bombs]. The largest conventional bomb in the world. 

Lets however ignore this. The Coalition has managed to hit a Russian convoy, a marketplace, and still found time to shoot a british plane out of the sky, in some of the more publicized reports of friendly fire. 

I fail to understand how you can do that and claim you're being accurate. These are just times things have gone wrong and something like a British plane has fallen out of the sky, or they've dropped an anti aircraft missle in a marketplace, let alone little one offs here and there. 

The improvement made to the lives of those living in Iraq is disputable. 
A main point of this campaign I thought was to liberate the Iraqi people from the current regime. Furthermore, this I assume would include lifting sanctions and so on, and perhaps losing the oil for food program, and allowing the Iraqis to rebuild their country properly. 

One of the first things Mr. Rumsfield wants to do is re-introduce the oil for food program, and I can only hope this is temporary. 

What we most certainly don't want is for Iraq to go back to being exactly the same way it was, only with a brand new regime. Only now with people loving what the States have done to their country instead of Saddam. 

Furthermore, let us assume for one second that the US has it's own interests in Iraq, and is not doing this just to liberate the Iraqi people, and not looking for WMD's. Let us get to the big issue of oil. 

I'm not neccessarily saying that the US is after the oil. However, it would be useful for the US to control oil prices via Iraq. (It should be noted however, the States only gets something along the lines of 20% of it's oil from the Middle East). 

However, we are all aware that:
A) That's not a bad %. 
B) Oil prices in the Middle East effect oil prices worldwide in order to compete. 
C) Bush has friends in the oil industry who would benefit from having a foot in the door in Iraq. 

None of this however should have too much of a negative effect on the Iraqis though, because I doubt that the US would actually take the money the Iraqis make from the oil directly. 

Instead however, they could do things like take the Aussie's wheat deal. America will have that $800'000'000 per annum deal thank you very much.

On top of this they might do alot of similar things. (For example: An American bulldozer is very expensive, and very hard to maintain in arid conditions, and very expensive to buy replacement parts for etc. In a country like Iraq, lower tech, easier to maintain, and replace parts might work better.)

I use this example, because the British did a similar thing to the Indians, giving them loans, which HAD to be spent on British equipment, despite them being able to spend the money 10 times more effectively on lower tech equipment. When the bulldozers the British sold tghem broke down they couldn't afford to fix them. Britian made lots of money, India got scrap metal, and still had to pay back the loan. 

Now a similar scheme introduced into Iraq would give the US(and UK, and the rest of the bandwagon) lots of Iraq's money. 

Similarly again, America has insisted alot of the Iraqi regime's money be frozen. Switzerland has already complied by freezing 'alot of money' whatever that means, and it's 'rightful owners' shall be decided soon. Does the US have any intention of taking any of that for itself? After all, it went to all the trouble of liberating the Iraqi people.... and it was expensive too.

Furthermore, I'm becoming extremely curious as to who the money will filter through to make sure it gets to the Iraqi people in general.

The motivations behind the Iraq invasion are unclear. 
WMDs. There seems to be no sign of them so far. The US inspectors have all but replaced the UN inspectors, destroying now all credibility of any finds not found entirely independantly of the US inspectors. 

After all the US at this point would have huge vested interest in planting the materials if it is to ever win world opinion over. 

Such fears have been privately voiced by U.N. Security Council members such as Russia and France, which remain unconvinced that deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction.

Both countries want inspectors back in the field as soon as possible as does Secretary-General Kofi Annan who has said only U.N. inspectors -- and not the Americans -- have the legal authority to oversee Iraqi disarmament.

With U.S. troops controlling most of Iraq, Washington's own search for banned weapons has all but replaced the U.N. inspections.
Furthermore, I have a deep distrust for people who do not wish to be watched, especially with a bench including Ashcroft, you would expect them to be saying: We have nothing to hide, so we don't mind. 

In my opinion there is contradiction between that and this:
But U.S. officials, deeply skeptical of the U.N. teams, have said privately that they wouldn't be welcome to return right now.

While Blix seems eager to take his staff back to Baghdad, he said he would wait for a nod from the Security Council.
I personally would feel much more confident if the UN teams were there to go in where the US says they should go, after all they claimed to have evidence of WMDs all over the place.... secret evidence, which no-one could see. 

Even turning down a televised debate with Mr. Hussein and Mr. Bush. Which annoys me because if I was Hussein, and had no WMD's I'd do all the things he did, bar firing the remaining 28 missles I owned at Kuwait. (Although killing none).

I also wouldn't destroy ALL my weapons for fear of an impending US led attack. Which would account for the Al-Samouds they found. I don't however think this is a big deal. Saddam said he was destroying them, and he might have been. He had expected another 2.5 months to do it in, and he never said they were all gone. 


As a backup plan they seem to have adopted the whole: We're liberating Iraq. 

Iraq for the Iraqis. 

I think personally, now I will admit this is perhaps unfair of me, to say:
Alot of the Bush administration have the perception that a multicultural city would be a mix of: An African-American, A European-American, an Arab-American, a native-American, and so on, as opposed to an Arab, African, Englishman, Chinaman, etc. 

They don't seem to realise that an Arab-American being sent over to the Middle East to rule over them will not be seen as an ARAB as much as an AMERICAN. Iraq for the Iraqis to the Iraqis will mean Iraqis. Not an Iraqi-American, or Iraqi-Englishman. 

Iraqi opposition leaders fear the United States is trying to force Ahmed Chalabi, head of the London-based umbrella Iraqi National Congress, on them as leader of a new Iraqi administration.
The reason the Bush/Blair Administration like Chalabi so much is because he's been in England and America for so long. These are the same reasons the Iraqi's don't want him in. They don't see how he can know what they need when he's been away for so long. 

I heard alot of the pro-war politicians talk about how the exiles and so on who oppose the war are merely detached from their people, well how about now? Or doesn't this count for the guy who is going to make all the important decisions affecting the country. 

In defence of the war.

1) It got rid of Saddam's rule.

Saddam's rule was a bad one. I don't think that is contested by many except those who get carried away with their anti-war arguments. (I know I get carried away too, but I don't just go out and try and defend Saddam). 

He used the sanctions as a way of blaming the US for all that went wrong in his country when he could have helped it. 

It is true that the US did contribute, and it is true that they pretty much supported everything he ever did until it threatened their personal interests, however this is not relevant. He should not be in power, and if now, he is replaced by a lesser evil, then good. Even if it is a side-effect of Bush wanting ratings next elections, getting oil for his oil buddies, or whatever. Hopefully this will be a win win situation. 

2) There is little chance of him now attaining WMDs. 
In my opinion this could have been done in better ways. The UN for example, with (quite frankly what started out as), appropriate muscling from the US. Putting pressure on Saddam to let inspectors back in. Furthermore, I don't know of any evidence, (and nor does Hans Blix, or any of the other weapons inspectors), that Saddam had been making any. 

If the war has resulted in the same end, if somewhat sloppier, then fair enough. It is worth keeping WMDs out of the hands of Saddam, if it can be shown there was ever that threat to begin with.

3) If the US basically gives massive funding to a totally independantly led Iraq, the anti-American sentiment felt by many of the countries would dissipate, on the condition that Israel also begin to back down, which thankfully they are already doing by the looks of things. 

The US could also start putting pressure on Israel, to make up for all the anti-American sentiment generated by the war. Creating IMHO a more even handed approach in Palestine/Israel. 

(This is not the debate, it is a minor point in the rest of the post, you can debate it if you want but I don't want to detract from the rest so forgive me if I don't put too much backbone into this specific portion.)

4) Finally, it may get the sanctions lifted off of Iraq, so they can start doing something with the country. They have massive oil supplies, which aren't being utilized to their full extent because they haven't been allowed to develop.

And finally 5) We can close this bloody temporary Iraq forum.


These I think are the ones I quoted from. 
I have not included ones I've just read from as I didn't save them to credit them. 
Stats are almost entirely BBC, as they seem to me to be the most even handed. 
I took nothing from Abu Dhabi TV with regard stats, but if there is any information in there which was not on the BBC that'll be where it's from as it is the only other NEWS channel after BBC I watched for information. 

Hope you like, would prefer it if you didn't, it'll give me something to talk about. Sorry if it's a little long.

P & B

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Americans are Plumbers

Well they are.

Americans have to make up their mind. I mean on the one hand they're plumbers, and on the other they have a lot of plumbing companies, what a conflicted confused people they must be.

What am I talking about? My favourite topic of all. Problems of Scale.
The above is a ridiculous comment. Obviously "Americans are Plumbers" can't mean all Americans.
~0.2% of them are. About 1 in 700 to be more exact. So saying "Americans are plumbers" is silly, saying "They are Plumbers" is silly. I don't just think it's silly, I think it's fundamentally wrong.

Lets take an example that illustrates my point more so. "Americans support Pedophilia" "Americans are Bastards".
In the first case, some are. I didn't [b]say[/b] all Americans.
In the second case, some are. I didn't [b]say[/b] all Americans.

Here are the qualms:
1) They give no information. To say that in any population there is a pedophile, or a plumber, or a bastard is virtually a given. I am not adding anything.
2) They give misleading information. Even if they're not deliberately vague, I could use one to try to force change in age of consent against the vast majority of what Americans want.
3) They're insulting. I know calling people bastards is derogatory and insulting. That's not the whole issue though, and this is where I'm in contention with a lot of freedom of speech advocates. The issue is that it's all I'm doing. I'm not providing information. I'm not making a statement.
It serves no possible purpose other than to be derogatory. [b]Society loses nothing[/b] by banning the statement entirely when not in context

In other words, if you make an accusation of someone, you should have to defend what you say, and there should be some form of recourse on behalf of the accused.

I might for example say my mother in law is a controlling, manipulative, self centered, whore. I think she should be able to take me to court for that, and deserve some compensation. I however in turn should be given the chance to prove she is a controlling, manipulative, self centered, whore.

Therein you have an excellent system where not only do you have freedom of speech (you can always say it), but you also get the opportunity to prove it!

Moving quickly on from that though. The main point of this article. Is a little something from I-A-B's forums.

"Muslims are Terrorists", "Muslims are all...", "Muslims can't...." "Muslims don't know...".

0.01% of Muslims are Terrorists. "Americans are Plumbers" is 20 times more accurate. Percentage wise, it should be equivalent to about how many Americans are African Americans with Down Syndrome. Yes they exist, but no they are not an accurate picture of the country.

More importantly "Muslims believe". Muslims apparently marry 4 women a piece, a statistical impossibility for more than about 25% of them to. Muslims Want. Muslims.... etc. Muslims think.

It's simply untrue in case after case after case. It could *always* be replaced with any other demographic and be equally valid.

There are at this point in time, in my opinion, something on the order of 200 million Muslims who are assholes. The regular kind you see day to day. There are at absolute most 20 million violent stereotypes, and absolute worst case scenario 2 million terrorists (Figure ranges from 120k to 1.2 mil really).

That's 18% asshole.
That's 1.8% violent.
That's 0.18% terrorist.
19.98% total.

Why not: Muslims are not the stereotypes that are portrayed to be.
That's ~8000 times more accurate than the than "Muslims are terrorists". You don't hear it 8000 times more often.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008


Well I have more to talk about, but I thought this post should be about "Rigour".

I want people to criticize me here to some degree. I'm not interested in correcting spelling mistakes and whatnot, but I do want some level of review to go on here when it comes to any of the serious topics.

For example... I am now aware that a Colossal snake is impossible to achieve with the Beastmaster combination I wanted. I had assumed the HD increase also increased the size of the snake as per it's definition.

I therefore know I was wrong when I put up that character. I also don't care. What I do care about however is where I make an error in one of the more serious posts. For example are my numbers wrong for the 2 person earth, that would be important.

Obviously there are going to be times when there is going to be a borderline issue. Where I've tried to be funny in a serious post and applied some sarcasm. For example, when I mentioned Shroedinger's cat. I know the cat isn't *really* both alive and dead. I know that the Big Bang revolves around a singularity, not "nothing".

However, A) I wasn't being entirely serious. B) A lot of people do believe in the concepts as I presented them, not as they "really are". I feel this analogy holds with religion where many people hold beliefs as per Disney rather than the actual teachings of the Church. C) The more complex/complete versions hold other unintuitive answers synonymous with answers to the existence of God. "There's no such thing as an unmoved mover". D) Similarly the answers are similar to those given by Theists. "You don't need an uncaused cause with the absence of time".

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Small World

There is an interesting thing I've seen a few times now on the internet, where the world is shrunk down to 100 people. It then goes on to say how "only one person would own a toilet" or whatever. Now even though it's usually wrong (Snopes Says So Here), it does make an interesting read, and eliminates the "problem of scale" I keep talking about in this blog.

Now I want to use it to do something else. I want to use it to demonstrate disparity.
If the world was shrunk to two people. What would it look like? I would argue that the more distant these two people are, the less our world can claim to uphold "equality".

For example, if our world was divided into just two people.
One would expect to live till 60. One would expect to live till 77.
(This is a very rough estimate on my part, but you get the idea).

I would like to see income for one.
In 2000 according to this article it would be the following:
1 would own a total of $403.
1 would own a total of $39'919.

Another idea could be to divide it into 3. That way we get rich man, middle man, poor man.

Another good thing that we could use it for is demonstrating the scales of problems.
If we reduced the Muslim world to 1000 people, only 1 would be a terrorist.
Yet 6 would have been killed in Iraq. 11 seriously injured.
~70 women would be wearing a Burqa. The other 430 women wouldn't.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Trial Run DMing

Well I did a trial run of a dungeon today that I think went really well.

I put together a "maze" for a hack and slash dungeon crawl. Minimal storytelling. Just to see if I could get the numbers to work, and how easy it would be to guide the party around.

I managed to fit in 10 of the encounters I planned (out of 15), and definitely got all the interesting ones in.
Favourite encounter of mine was the hydra. I think we'll be seeing another one of those in the campaign. :)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

New DnD characters!

Well well well. I've been busy making characters for different campaign one offs we've decided to have until I host in January.

Here's a rundown of the campaigns we're doing, plus the character's I've made for each.
1) Colossal Red Dragon!
My character: A Level 20 Cold/Water Cleric. (Although possibility of adding in anything which keeps or adds to my caster level).
Tower Shield: +5 with 40 Fire Resist, possibly Mithral.
Weapon (Type undecided): Dragonbane, Icy Blast, Corrosive Burst, Keen, Holy, Wounding, +1.
Mainly he'll be a caster, with plenty of spell penetration to get through that nasty spell resistance, not that he'll be awful in melee.

2) Gargantuan Black Dragon!
My Character: Ranger 12, Beastmaster 1, Animal Lord (Serpents) 7.
Pet: Mountable Level 20 Colossal Constrictor in "Chain Shirt" with Holy, Wounding, Dragonbane, +? Armour Spikes. Some Acid resist would be nice.
I'm in a Mithral Chain Shirt, Plenty of Acid resistance.
I have 2 Scimitars. Keen, Wounding, Holy, Dragonbane, +?

The wounding weapons here are what I'm going for. Plummet his fortitude saves and hitpoints, then really lay into him with poisons to finish him off.

3) High level campaign (3 sessions).
I'm not sure what character I'll use here. I have 2 very interesting options.
Option 1: Karma Kender. I'm thinking Fortunes Friend(5) + Cleric of Destiny and Luck(15). Then all the luck feats I can muster. Ending on something silly like 15 rerolls per day, and some interesting spells.
Option 2: Octopus Prime! Warforge, 5 Levels Druid, 5 Levels Warshaper, 10 Levels Blighter.
With some choice feats, I can polymorph into a huge, Adamantine, undead, flying, Squid, still capable of casting blighter spells.

4) Babylon 5:
I'm playing a level 1 scientist. Computer whizz, technology whizz, and general repairman. More skillpoints than I could actually spend.

5) My own campaign... I'm not even gonna begin to give you my character list for that. :)