Work related posts have been moved.

9 November, 2010

My work and computing related posts are now at

If you have come here from a work-related perspective (computing, semweb, bioinformatics, math). Perhaps you could go there right now and not read the gory personal stuff here.

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Ahhh, Christians!

14 December, 2014

Christians! God love em! I used to be one, you know.

It’s adorable the way they like to think they believe the bible. They don’t, they believe in the bible. The bible as a thing, as a cultural prop, as a sure foundation on which their lives rest.

But the stuff written in it? Not so much. Oh – they like to think they believe it. But they don’t actually. You can tell this by the things that they do.

Here’s some bible verses for you.

John 14:15“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. … 21Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”

1 John 5:1Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father loves whoever has been born of him. 2By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. 3For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. 4For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.

2 John 1:5And now I ask you, dear lady—not as though I were writing you a new commandment, but the one we have had from the beginning—that we love one another. 6And this is love, that we walk according to his commandments; this is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, so that you should walk in it.

Seems John sure loved hisself some holiness. Yeah, sure – I know perfectly well that there’s no way that “John” wrote the books attributed to him. But that’s not the point. It’s The Bible, right? Christians belive [in] The Bible. But sometimes they seem to forget that Jesus is not just supposed to be your saviour, he is supposed to be your lord. Salvation is not free – it comes with a price tag. (Although actually it doesn’t, because we owe God our fealty anyway – a fine point of contract law).

Now, if you want to say at this point that not everything that the bible plainly, in black and white tells christians to do counts as a “commandment”, then by all means stop reading.

If you actually belive the bible, then let us continue.

Here’s Jesus talking:

Matt 5:31“It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

THAT’S OUT OF CONTEXT!!!!11!!eleven!!!11!

Oh really? Well, lets have a bit of context, then:

Matt 5:27“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Oww. The context of that verse is Jesus – Jesus mind you – saying “Unrepentant adulterers go to hell. Oh and BTW, that includes divorcees who remarry”.

You know that nice, lovely christian lady who divorced her horrible loser of a husband and remarried a nice christian man and they are very happy and raising their kids well?

Well, they are going to burn in the lake of fire forever and ever. They do not love god, they only think they do. We know this because they do not obey his commandments.

The Catholics are right. The bible clearly states as simply as can be that divorced people are not to remarry. Of course, they have this absurd business of granting “annulments”, but don’t think or a second that God won’t see through such a cheap trick (Monty Python reference, there). “Ok,” says God, “you can divorce. Once. But then it’s over – none of this serial polygamy bullshit.”

Finally: let’s send a shout-out to any Pastor, anywhere, ever, that has knowingly performed a marriage for a divorced person. They will spend a lost eternity in hell, and if God is just so will you.

⁂ ⁂ ⁂

By what criterion did Jesus separate the sheep and the goats? Not by what they believed, not by what they said, not by whether their Sunday clothes were nice. He separated them on the basis of what they did and did not do.

I know that you don’t really believe this stuff. Not really. I mean: come on! Let’s get serious. The bible also says to sell your home and spend every last cent trying to reach the lost for Jesus before his imminent return. Who’s going to do that? Nobody, and idiots, that’s who.

So how about you stop coming to my door all smiley and inviting me to your christmas sermon. It’s bullshit, and you know it is.


Now I can hear; now I can see.

13 December, 2014

I am not mad.

It is the others that are mad. A strange, every-day madness – scurrying around, building homes of mud and stone and wood. Buying, selling, having families. Somehow, they make themselves blind and deaf.

We fought our way through the observatory. Creatures – demons – assailed us. We slew one, our bard charmed the other, suggesting it surrender. (Surrender? Madness!) Their language was … oddly familiar. The language of the whispers in my mind. The language of my prayers.

Behind them, a spell caster. A man? Perhaps. Hooks and piercings in his flesh. Faugh grappled him, pinned him, kept him from casting. We ignored the demons, focussing our efforts on him. He rose into the air, but Faugh did not relent. Something summoned fog onto the battlefield. I did not see who took the final blow.

And then the woman, the leader of the snow-men (odd hairy creatures) arrived on the field, swept away the fog with her magicks. “Is it done?”, she asked, “have you slain him?”. We played for time – we had come to claim an astrolabe, an armillary sphere, and an orrey, and we mean to do so. My companions moved inside the observatory, I guarded the door. “Stay back!”, I warned her, “It may be unsafe in here.”

I do not think she believed my pretence. She tried with magic to influence my mind. And a second time. “Madam,” I said, “the outer dark wards my mind against such magics”. She attacked me with a blast of snow and ice – I shrugged off the damage, Coin’s potion of Yeti-fur protecting me. But she had just revealed herself a witch, and hostile.

You know, normally when you tell a spellcaster “You can’t charm me, I have Yog-Sototh guarding my mind”, they go, “Hmm.” But this chick didn’t even flinch. Maybe she failed her K(the planes) check.

But the DM played the witch well. Brus looks like a big, dumb, half-orc fighter. So what do you do? Go the mind-affecting attacks. Oops – he’s actually a cleric: no wonder this shit ain’t working.

As to Brus’ odd behaviour, well, he’s chaotic, she was originally an ally we were kinda working for, and she was pretty hot. We’ve already established that he’s not a beserker. Inquisitors are driven by purpose – we had come to get particular loot, and by Yog-Sototh we were going to get them.

Then all at once, our hobgoblin companion (Morgan’s rogue) flung a strange weapon at them, setting her snow-men ablaze, and the witch ordered “kill them!”. In truth, it was always going to end thus.

Yeah, we had this weird thingy: a goblin in a bottle, with a wick coming out of his head. Light it and throw.

Her snow-men attempted to enter the observatory. I fought and was joined. Somehow, the man with the hooks in his face reappeared! I forget the blow-by-blow of the fight: both he and the witch disappeared, became invisible. But one of the snow-men struck a mighty blow on me, his axe placed perfectly. In one blow, I was nearly done, and bleeding.

We play with the Paizo critical hit and fumble decks. This yeti dude managed to draw “Double damage and one point of Con bleed”. Ow! But, my inqusitor has a trick.

A focused my intent, my purpose, and by the power of the outer dark my wounds began to close. I called upon the dread name of Yog-Sototh (cast Divine Favour), and struck one more blow – the barbarian man was done. The field fell quiet. Both spellcasters had fled. We searched for what we came to find.

Judgment ‘o healing! Stops Con bleed dead in its tracks! I also am packing Judgment Surge feat. This is the first game night for weeks now that Brus hasn’t been reduced to unconsciousness. Yay! I finally used a judgment, and it worked. Having two per day instead on one per day is an enormous difference – less need to hoard them up. The bonuses aren’t all that great, but Dave pointed out that what they do is they keep an inquisitor on-par with a fighter, inquisitor being a ¾ BAB class.

⁂ ⁂ ⁂

We found the items, which we put in Coin’s Bag of Holding, and a great telescope. Our bard William; John, the cleric of Azathoth; and I were keen to look through it. I do not know what the others saw. I looked not at the stars but at the spaces between them, and caught a glimpse. No more.

The words, the whispers – I begin to understand them. The language of the demons, of the outer truth. I prayed for the favour of The Lurker at The Threshold, The Eater of Souls, to grant me to see the unseen, to peer beneath the veil. And so it was. And is.

We will return to Coin. We will bring down the House of Limen. Our lives a brief spark of light, before each our star is consumed.

One skill point into linguistics – Abyssal. And new spell See Invisibility. Sweet!

Also, a second point into linguistics to get undercommon, which Brus has been picking up from Faugh the deep gnome. Pathfinder is build so that every even level you get a feat, and every odd level a class ability, but because I took one level of fighter I will get inquisitor class abilities and feats at the same time. Still – a very handy utility spell and some extra spells per day. Not to be sneezed at.


Math is hard

7 December, 2014


So I posted this on facebook:

This is a serious problem all over wikipedia. The math-heads strip out any sort of tutorial or explanitory information, and leave only formal definitions. A fine example is the “sheaf” article. There’s no mention that the word comes from a sheaf of wheat, which would kinda help people get over that initial WTF.

I had a chat to Brett, and the upshot was that I was about to post this to facebook:

So anyway. I just had a bit of a chat to a D&D buddy who occasionally does a little mathematics that is maybe a shade further along than what I am used to dealing with.

Reflecting on his replies and my internal reactions to them, you want to know what I think? Well, I’ll tell you. I think that the core of my complaint is that the mathematics pages on wikipedia don’t have enough pictures, and that’s really all I’m bitching about.

The reply to this comment on the Sheaf talk page kinda covers it:

“Hi; I’m trying desperately to understand many of these advanced principals of mathematics, such as sheaves, but no matter how many times I review the material, it doesn’t sink in.”

(reply:) “… if you are new to math, it’s not enough to review the material; you should also do problems. If you want to learn math, you can’t do it with a summary like Wikipedia.”

If you want to understand mathematics, you have to put the work in. There is no other way. Euclid’s rebuke to King Ptolemy comes to mind.

But you know – looking back at that original SMBC comic I can’t help feeling that the plaintive cry for a pretty picture or two isn’t entirely uncalled for, and that maybe other people feel the same way.

Look – it doesn’t matter, ok? At the moment all I’m after, really, is a pretty picture of the hyperbolic plane tessellated with octagons projected onto a flat plane in a certain specific way that I have in mind (the hyperbolic analogue of the equirectangular projection, if you must know). I’ll settle for a grid of lines all at 45 degrees.

I suspect that the Beltrami-Klein model might be the best starting point. Isometries on it are just matrixes IIRC. I just need to work out how one family of parallel lines needs to be spaced out, and getting from there to the equirectangluar plane should be straightforward – just read off the distance from each point to the two axes.


Forbidden Sky

6 December, 2014

A little more plot this week. We are working for Coin, now, and attempting to deconstruct Limen’s House. Coin also serves as Ye Olde Magick Shoppe and source of plot exposition.

Brett has picked up the Cthulhu theme and is running with it. We have been sent to an old observatory with instructions to pick up some stuff. Bomb components. While there, we uncovered some notes – it appears that there are certain sectors of the heavens that astronomers do not point their telescopes at. Our suspicion being that if you look at the dark spot 5 degrees southwest of Perseus, something looks back.

There was also a reference to somethng looking like a collection of many glowing spheres. This is one of the aspects of Yog Sothoth, who Brus works for.

The observatory is on some sort of ice world, or maybe just the polar bit of an otherwise nice planet. We are kitted out. A bit of an environmental challenge, getting across 5ft of arctic water. Brus’ travel domain ability came in handy again.

Fought some sort of snow elemental snake thing – rogue was so dissapoint! No sneak attack. Our brawler grappled it, which makes no sense whatever. None. He’s a gnome. It was a large sized snake made of snow and ice. But that’s kind of why Andrew built a deep gnome brawler in the first place. For comedy reasons.

Then a bit of diplomacy with a tribe of natives – work for the bard. Finally the observatory itself. Apparently, some archaeologist is in there and is looting the place. Naturally, we all immediately suspected Zack Jackson – who was with the group that destroyed the fabled and long-lost crystal bridge of Cloudarc Temple.

On arrival at the observatory, we fought a demon. The silver shortsword and planar lucern hammer that the DM had handed us began to make more sense. It was damn tough, which was a bit of a worry. Only one of ‘em, took us a while to deal with it.

Oh, and I scored a confirmed triple crit. 20, 20, 20, 14, charging a demon with a planar lucerne hammer. It was getting late, so we ruled that the thing just got exploded. This same die, btw, could barely roll more than four last fortnight. Perhaps I need to start paying attention to the phases of the moon.

Fun times. Christmas is always a bit chaotic re schedule – we will miss a few weeks. But our dwarven forge cavern pieces should be arriving soon. Four boxes of the stuff – apparently they weigh a ton. Any day now, Ho Ho Ho!


Candy!

22 November, 2014

We finished off the halloween episode last night. Cool game. I understand that Brett is publishing this on Reddit, it’s kind of an experiment for him at authoring D&D modules.

Last week, we chose not to finish because we were one player down, and it seemed a bit of a shame. So last night the DM padded out the game with an extra encounter. The goal for the scenario was “find X pieces of candy”. We had already found X pieces, so this week the DM said “you win 6 pieces of candy at apple bobbing. You put the candy in your candybag and Oh Noes! All your candy has been stolen!”

Now, there are two ways for players to handle this. One is to go “Nuh Uh! I have a perception of a gazillion and my character would totally have noticed!”, to bitch and moan and object.

The other is to go “Cool. Plot hook. Let’s play some D&D.”

Needless to say, we are all grown men, so naturally we chose option 2. Kids – don’t be a dick to your DM just for the sake of being a dick. Unless it’s one of those sandbox games: “hey players, you write the game as you go”, the DM has something prepared.

So. We pursued the candy thieves, fighting them in an alleyway. The thief holding the bag escaped into the spooky woods surrounding the town. Brus Reckoner, inquisitor of the church of Yog-Sothoth, using his magically enhanced voice from the previous episode, stood at the edge of the woods and called:

‟I don’t know who you are. I don’t know why you have taken our candy. But I do know that I have a very specific set of skills. Skills that make me a nightmare for people such as you.

If you return our candy: there will be no vengeance, no recriminations. But if you do not: I will track you. I will find you. And I will enact judgement!”

It was a moment.

We tracked the final candy thief to a cave. There was blood and fresh fragments of candy thief all over the walls, and some candy scattered about – although not all. There was a big bear trap in the room. About 8 foot across. It activated, and conjured – a bear! (Get it? The bear trap was a bear. I didn’t get it until Brett pointed it out after the game, which is why I am explaining to this to you now. Sometimes I’m a little slow.)

Fight fight. A couple of Yeti came out of a deeper cave – a parent and child. Brus approached them with a lucern hammer and a fist full of candy wrappers and menacingly explained to them: “Candy! (grrr)”. Meanwhile everyone else finished off the bear. We went into the cave, recovered our candybag, and gave the Yetis a few handfuls as we had well over the 240 that we needed.

I kinda like where Brus is going, character-wise. Definitely a split personality: the mopey, somewhat goth/emo Yog-Sothoth side and the “Rarrrgh!” fighty orcish side. But he’s not a beserker, and not a bad guy.

Anyway. Before that candy thief episode, the guys went trick-or-treating. Brus sat out, because trick-or-treating is far too jolly. In the unmarked house was a dude, who – it transpired – has a tatoo on his belly with arrows pointing in and the word “Candy!”. The dude also was somewhat more indefinably real than the rest of the contents of the plane. The party elected not to open him up for candy, and promised that we would take him with us when we got out of the plane.

Chaotic, but not evil. And – again – we recognise a probable plot hook when we see one.

Oh, and we saw the graveyard. The graveyard was a logic puzzle (with zombies interfering with you while you solve it – nothing is ever easy). But we have two players with advanced math degrees (I think – haven’t actually asked) and a lowly computer programmer, so that side of the task was straightforward. The zombies were a fun game of whack-a-mole.

So. Having enough candy, we went to the castle. We put the candy in the barrels. The mad wizard appeared. “Congratulatons”, he said, “you have gotten enough candy! Well done!”. “Cool, so we can leave?”. “Ha ha ha! Leave? Leave? Why – no! No-one leaves!”

Roll for initiative.

There was a bonfire/firepit thing between the wizard and us. But Brus is an inquisitor with travel domain.

Agile Feet (Su): As a free action, you can gain increased mobility for 1 round. For the next round, you ignore all difficult terrain and do not take any penalties for moving through it. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Wisdom modifier.

Brus activated his Judgement of Profane Resistance, his happy feet, and charged straight through the fire at the wizard.

Fight fight. Minions, who had a touch attack that didn’t do much. Backstabbing, bardic song. Dust of Twilight did nothing, because most of us have darkvision. Deeper Darkness was dispelled by our cleric’s racial Daylight. But then the barrels of candy vomited forth sticky sweetness which assembled itself into a golem.

The Candyman.

Now our bard, William, has an ass whose name is “Bottom”. Mostly he carries the party’s gear. There were various crude innuendoes about protecting William’s bottom from the candyman, but it was never really in any danger. The mad wizard – his main plan having failed – was in serious trouble. The golem went down to a massive double critical by the brawler (Andrew found a very fine feat: if you crit while flurrying, you get another crit. We will all be looking for an amulet of mighty fists: improved crit.) I think the rogue kill-stole the wizard.

And the whole halloween plane faded into featurelessness. We recovered a key. I forget what happened to belly-man (it was late, I was packing up. A little rude of me). We went though a door, found a magic painting and spoke to, well, apparently Coin.

Perhaps he will exposit somewhat, next time.

We have a bye, and we also have our Dwarven Forge kickstarter caverns being shipped. If they arrive this week, a little painting might be in order.


Trick or Treat

16 November, 2014

Very fine game this evening. The DM put together this great scenario – a pocket pane where it’s always Halloween. In order to get into the big castle of plot exposition, we must collect candy.

There’s apple-bobbing, jack-o-lantern carving, a gypsy fortune-teller – heaps of harmless and suitable-for-children fun.

Brus nearly got killed twice.

The great thing was the thematic monsters. We wanted to carve jack-o-lanterns. Cool. The dude was out of pumpkins, so he sent us off to the pumpkin patch to get more.

Riiiight.

We buffed before going in. There was a scarecrow. There was a jack-o-lantern. And among the pumpkins were at least 3 assassin vines. Brus got grappled and constricted to -1.

But there was more. A haunted house – “Roll up, roll up! Make it through the house in one minute, win candy!”

Caaaaandy!

The bard got a bit touched up. But most of what was in there was grappling/delaying. It was essentially a skill challenge.

So anyway, we made our jack-o-lanterns and decided we would go to the orphanage for naughty and nice boys and girls. Inside were dolls and rat swarms. And yeah – Brus got knocked out with a magical sleep effect and then chewed on by rats. Oh, and doppelgangers.

There was so much good going on with this game. It was truly spooky. Most of all, Brett managed to create a theme without pages of block text, something that most of the module writers at paizo have yet to work out how to do. He didn’t have to tell us that the orphanage was spooky – what else could it possibly be, on an eternal halloween?

The encounters were downright tough – a combination of disabling/debuffing, and heavies immune to the disabling effects. A scarecrow is bad news. A scarecrow that fascinates your fighters while assassin vines grapple and take apart the casters is a whole different level of bad news.

We could have finished off the game, but we were a man down and it would be a shame for Morgs not to get one week of the fun. The gypsies are handing out a couple of very nice buffs that might be permanent. And I’m sure the rogue wants to kiss the girl at the kissing-booth.

Fun times.


#gamergate

9 November, 2014

You know that reddit is censoring posts, right? That means that this is going to be deleted. So I’ll post it here as well.


[–]PieceOfShoe 1 point 3 days ago

This is not Mozilla. It’s an opinion peace on an open blog that they run. The blog post even got called down by them later https://openstandard.mozilla.org/our-sincerest-apologies/. I’m having the hardest time trying to find out what GamerGate is. So much noise out there on this topic. Anyone explain it to me like i’m 5?

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[–]PaulMurrayCbr 2 points 10 minutes ago*

Like you are 5? Ok.

Some people make computer games. Some people write about whether the new computer games are good or not. People who write about the games need to be fair and treat the games all the same, otherwise there’s no point reading them.

Well it turns out there’s this girl who makes computer games, and she kissed a boy who writes about computer games so he would write nice things about her game. It turns out she kissed a bunch of other boys too, and even some girls, and the boy found out and got mad and told on her.

A lot of people are upset because girls can get whatever they want just by kissing the boys, and that’s not fair. And other people are mad at them because they say that girls should be able to kiss whoever they want and it’s not fair to tell on them.

Then all the people who write all the stories about games got together and said that all the people who like games are bad for being mad at the girl. The people who play the games are mad at them because the people who write about games were rude to them, and they thought that those people liked games and liked the people who play games and it turns out they don’t like them at all.

And they are mad that it turns out that all the stories about the games are not really true about whether the games are good or not – it’s really just about who is kissing who – so people who are boys and make games can’t get good stories no matter how good their games are.

And they are also mad because it turns out that all the people who write about games talk to each other secretly and decide together what games are good and what games are bad, so you can’t really believe any of them.

And it turns out it’s not just the people who write stories about the games – it’s the people who run competitions for the games with big important prizes, and the people who make the big websites for games. It turns out that there aren’t really a whole bunch of different websites by a whole bunch of different people – there’s just one really small group of people, and they are all part of the whole kissing and not telling the truth about the games thing.

You see, it’s not just bad for the boys who play the games and write the games if a girl can get nice stories about her not-very-good game by kissing the right boys (and girls). it’s bad for those girls too, because boys only want to be kissed by girls if they are young and pretty, and not all girls are pretty and no girl stays young for very long.

But all the girls who are saying that it’s unfair to tell on girls who kiss the boys to get stuff from them are mad at all the people who say this, because it reminds them that they are not going to be young and pretty forever either, and they don’t like to be reminded of that.

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