Saturday, November 20, 2010

Hello World

[Note: "Hello World" is the name of first program that new computer programmers usually learn to write when starting to learn to program.  It simply prints "Hello World" to the screen.  (I have a slightly longer introduction.)]

Many years ago when I was going into college my mother, a devout Christian, gave me a bookmark she made that said:

"Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman than needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15"


Not long after that while tutoring in the University Math Lab, someone ridiculed the idea that one could be 'educated' if one was an expert in just one thing, even if it was a scholastically regarded subject such as Math.


A while later a fellow tutor in the Math Lab said one of the most important things I have ever heard in my life!

I don't remember what we were talking about, but I replied to something he said with: "I may not be the biggest genius in the world, but I do know that..."

To which he replied: "How do you know?"

I immediately launched into an explanation of how I knew the thing I claimed to know on whatever we were discussing.

He interrupted with: "No, I mean: How do you know you are not the biggest genius in the world? You *could* be!"

He said: "When I was in High School there where people who could tell you the make, model, year and owner of every car in the High School parking lot."

He said: "I couldn't do that. But I was really good at math. Maybe it just depends what you spend it on."


There were other factors involved in the following decision, but the above were the most memorably influential.

So I decided: I would read the most important works that mankind has created, in as many fields as I could. I would only have time for the highlights, so I did need to be picky. But I didn't want to be like most people who make up their minds on something without having thought about it from as many angles as possible.

So I set out to read (not a comprehensive list):

1) The primary texts of all the major world religions: The Bible (already had been required reading growing up), the Koran, The Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, Confucius, (and later the Hagakure).

2) Major figures in the modern Sciences such as: Darwin, Dawkins, Hawking, Einstein... and atheist philosophers such as Bertrand Russell.

3) Major philosophers in modern political and economic thinking such as: Plato, John Locke, Karl Marx, and Adam Smith. (I also later discovered Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and David Korten all of whom I think are quite relevant in current times and going forward.)

4) Classics in literature, from Homer and Dante and Chaucer to Jane Austin, Charles Dickens and Tolstoy and more...

5) The Hugo Award Winners for Science Fiction (which overlaps with classics, such as Huxley and Orwell) (I got that idea from the behind the scenes of Babylon5. And there are some great visionaries in this field!)

6) Military and Political Strategy such as Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, and Von Clausewitz

7) Whatever else seemed really important or a legitimate controversy.


I have not finished the list above, and there are other things I have finished that are not on it. However, constantly cramming as much of this material into my brain as I can means I have a considerable number of thoughts on a variety of topics, and I am at least passingly familiar with major and diverse views on it. Sometimes the 'extremists' are more right than they are given credit for, but usually not exactly in the ways they themselves think.

I have reached a point where there seems almost no division between subjects. I see something more like an evolving continuum of knowledge that forms a single non conflicting narrative about humanity and even to a small degree, the universe. Everything is connected, and making new connections between topics takes up much of my thought process.

With so much going on in my head, I often find myself writing for hours. I wrote over 100 pages of a book over the summer, titled: "How to Save the World." I am currently stalled on that project over some thoughts about restructuring education; video games could be a key here. ;-D (I DO intend to finish it.) But also too many hours of thought and writing go into emails to whoever happened to email me, or replies on FaceBook comments that stimulated my thinking or agitation.

So today I finally started a blog so that my thoughts can be accessed by whomever is interested, and so I don't spam unsuspecting victims with huge amounts of unsolicited thoughts on whatever topic they casually mentioned in their FB posts. (Actually, I still plan to do that, but at least it will be in the form of a link to my blog posting so they can more easily follow, or ignore it.)

While this blog is currently aimed to be mostly about my philosophical and political views, I am also a professional video game developer. I expect some percentage of postings will also be about topics related to the industry, programming, and my planned independent projects, business ventures, foundations, etc as I take them on going forward. I plan to sort various posts into topics to maximize usefulness, allowing people can look at only things they find personally relevant to them.

I don't expect everyone to agree with me, and my opinions are not set in stone. So challenge me on something if you think I am wrong. (But be prepared for a debate if you do. *Most of what I think is based on lots of thought and research.) But in the end, regardless, lets look for/at the commonalities more than the differences.

That is my intro in a nutshell.

So regardless if you are starting here at the beginning with me, or backtracking through it later, welcome to my blog.


  1. I have similar quests that I've failed to leave the front door for. ;-)

    On the topic of education though, I believe what is most lacking is a sense of creative freedom. I think the closest we get in school to this is the arts, which are often cut first when budget crises arise. School today is all about mechanics (how do we make a useful working cog in the system, and even on that level it is failing), and not usually in what is important in maintaining our culture.

    I had actually developed my own curriculum. :P Don't know where I put it, but it included ethics and understanding information (what is information, how do we know it is accurate, etc)...

    Anyhow, looks like an intense list for reading. You're delving primarily in the philosophical and religous realms, which both try to answer the big questions - why are we here, what is the purpose of everything - so that's a good start. ;-) You might consider the history of ideas and the perception of knowledge... something about the future of information. It's fascinating to learn that about one hundred years ago people thought fossils were in fact replicas of creatures God left on the ground to remind us of His power, not that they were preserved remains of those creatures. Perception is so present; we tend to forget that the perception is organic (even if it feels like tradition). That's when you get the old folks saying "when I was young..." :P It changes so fast these days.

    Well, that's enough chatter. I'll let you know specific authors if I think of any.

  2. I might also add that I feel there are still a lot of ideas that need to be discovered. Just imagine 50 years ago they said the same thing, and then came the Internet.

    In my opinion, this version of the Internet is just the messy beginning. It will evolve (hopefully intelligently making us better, unlike the portrayal of the future in Idiocracy *shivers*) into something more. It may become something like in Avatar... :P Social networking is in its infancy too; is it just a fad, or is it the beginning of something bigger?

    String theory and quantum physics is all relatively new as well.

    So much still exists to be thought. :-) And shared.

  3. Good comment.

    I intend to do a longer post specifically about education in the near future, your ideas about curriculum are most welcome, especially on that post once I write it. In general I agree with your assessment of the school system.

    On 'History of ideas and perception of knowledge': any recommendations are welcome, so please!


    However as mentioned this is not a comprehensive list. Recently I have been reading about NLP which is a useful view of psychology, from a computer programmers standpoint anyway. Even in the original book they talk about how language itself filters perception. Effectively each person has a reality simulating computer on their shoulders. That reality is shared, or networked if you will, very inefficiently through human communication. Our reality is not the 'real' reality either in perception of the world, or of communication.

    Also I consider study of the regions to be very revealing for large parts of the history of the evolution of society, and human thought. This is one of its key benefits from a scientific viewpoint.

    Do you see these responses as relevant to what you mean? If not, or in general, please enlighten me. Learning is my primary hobby.


  4. I agree again.

    Implications about the internet, computer and neural science, and its connectedness to social evolution (of which religion is a big part) are a big part of my book, and likely this blog.

  5. I would just like to add that no matter how much we think we know, it doesn't really matter. We are just transforming one form of energy into another. It's like building an ice castle and thinking we are very smart whenever we build a more complex ice castle. In the end, it's just water. I am not saying that we shouldn't express ourselves by building ice castles (they are really nice works of art and I am using it as a metaphor because I am playing with snow for the first time *LOL*). However, there are just some crazy extremist who get so worked up over their ice castles. And for what? They all melt in the end anyway. The process of building and melting (living and dying) is what matters though. It's a great system of experience. ^_^

  6. Thanks Sherman.

    Such perspective and insight is why I am glad to have you in on discussions. I have learned a lot from you in the past, and hope to continue to benefit from your wisdom in the future.

    I would add that sometimes getting worked up over a castle is part of ones purpose, and part of what needs to be experienced.