Pivotal / influential books

These books were all important in my life.
  • Have Spacesuit, Will Travel
  • Illusions
  • Finite and Infinite Games
  • Valentina
  • Godel, Escher, Bach
  • Why Marriages Succeed or Fail
  • Metamagical Themas
  • The Screwtape Letters
  • To Be Or Not: An E-Prime Anthology
More recently:
  • Good Calories, Bad Calories
  • Body By Science
  • The God Delusion
I should probably write a little about why, but time prohibits, alas.

Staying up late

Yesterday I wrote some more about my personal axioms, and mentioned a scene in the book Starship Troopers.  I couldn’t find the text online, so I ponied up my $10 and bought the Kindle version, and ended up staying up well past midnight, reading more than half the novel

It’s good sometimes to return to the classics.  I should probably reread Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, too.  (Yeah, you might not consider it a classic, but it was pivotal to my youth.)

What do I believe?

A while ago I wrote about my personal axioms.  Since then I’ve added a few more.
  1. The universe exists.
  2. I exist.
  3. I can derive accurate information about the universe from my senses.
  4. Other things being equal, living is better than dying, and being happy is better than being miserable.
Note that (3) says “I can“, not “I do“.  There’s a wealth of evidence that one’s senses don’t begin to tell the whole truth about reality, not even the part of it that’s in their range.  But I believe that in general, what I see/hear/feel/etc bears some consistent relationship to some external world that is not in any reasonable sense a part of me.
Some corollaries:
  1. Other people exist, and I haven’t just imagined them.
  2. I accept the validity of deduction and induction until proven otherwise.
And some other observations:
  1. The map is not the territory.  Words and symbols that we use to describe reality of necessity ignore some things, abstract others, and generally don’t ever tell the whole story.
  2. The map can tell a story consistent with the territory.
  3. When your map diverges from the territory, Bad Things Happen.
Why does any of this matter (even to me)?  Several reasons.
I read a lot of atheist blogs.  The question of “proof” comes up a lot in such places, or the related question of “why do you think that?” or “why do you believe that?”  A common question to atheists is “where do you get your morals from, if not from God?”
I had a discussion online with a guy by the name of “Rhology”, and it left me wondering about the basis of morality.
Sam Harris wrote a book about morality that discusses similar stuff (… and eventually I’ll read it :).
I had a conversation with my friend Tom long ago, wherein I said “we are all free to do whatever we want to do, and this is demonstrably true”.  And he said “ah, but what should we do?”  And we agreed that that was a very important question.
I have this poorly defined metaphor in my head comparing morals to gravity, and I wanted to lay some groundwork.
I enjoyed the speech (rant?) in Starship Troopers (the book), which discussed a moral system based on unchanging fundamentals of human thought and behavior.  I’ve always thought that was a cool idea.
So we’ll see how this turns out.

Weight / fitness status, 6/25/12

End of week 13 on LoseIt.  Down 1 lb since last entry (two weeks ago, 6/11); net loss so far, 9.2 lbs.
My starting weight 3/26 was 189.6
My current weight is 180.4
My goal weight is 175
My plan is to lose 1 lb per week
My calorie budget is 1,693
My goal date is August 3, 2012
My original date was July 8, 2012
I was in MD last week.  I ate fairly well, and even IF’d twice (Monday & Thursday).  I managed to not repeat last trip’s travesty of consuming an entire medium pizza Sunday night!  🙂
Worked out a bit two Sundays ago (6/17), not so much yesterday.  Had all day, too.  Maybe tonight, since my usual Monday night gig has been canceled.

If elected I will …

From The Internet Oracle, 1500-02:

Selected-By: Christophe <xof@chanticleer.com>

The Internet Oracle has pondered your question deeply. Your question was:

> Pardon the repeat, but I think you're pulling my leg.

And in response, thus spake the Oracle:

} Not at all.  If elected, I will:
} - bring the budget into balance while cutting taxes and
}    investing in job-creating infrastructure;
} - increase retirement and health benefits while adding
}    oversight over unneeded expenditures and reducing
}    payroll deductions;
} - trim military spending while taking an exceptionalist
}    stance versus our enemies and restoring our standing
}    with allies;
} - reduce spiraling prison costs while getting tough on
}    violent crime and increasing the penalties for drug use;
} - cut illegitimate births while eliminating subsidies for
}    abortion and for contraception;
} - increase personal freedom while supporting faith-based
}    initiatives and de-funding our failing public schools;
} - support the little guy at last while deregulating big
}    business and eliminating limits on campaign donations.
} In January, of course, I reserve the right to re-evaluate
} each of these policies based upon changing conditions.
} You owe the Oracle your vote.

Weight / fitness status, 6/11/12

End of week 11 on LoseIt.  (And hey, look, today’s the 11th.  Meaningless coincidence in action! 🙂  Down 1.7 lbs since last entry (two weeks ago, 5/29); net loss so far, 8.2 lbs.

My starting weight 3/26 was 189.6
My current weight is 181.4
My goal weight is 175
My plan is to lose 1 lb per week
My calorie budget is 1,700
My goal date is July 27, 2012
My original date was July 8, 2012
Haven’t logged in LoseIt in over a week.  Was in TN most of last week.
I’m 6.4 lbs from my goal, and 3-ish weeks [edit: 4-ish weeks, oops] from my original target date (according to LoseIt) of 7/8, had I lost a pound a week steadily since 3/26.  The primary hurdles in my way of losing 6.4 pounds in the next three weeks are upcoming travel.  It’s hard to eat well when you’re traveling.  (Well, anyway, it can be hard for me to eat well when I’m traveling.  🙂