vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
2017-07-27 12:25 pm

Linkdump: a genealogy of the sons of Belial

Been a long time since I've linkdumped here. But the series of links from Wednesday followed such a clear thematic pattern I have to save this.

Post-Christian America: Gullible, Intolerant, and Superstitious

One may rightly object to that last comment as a general thing, but given the links that I will link to below, it turned out to be prophetic.
Ross Douthat has written powerfully about the political consequences of post-Christian conservatism. It turns out that when men and women shed their faith, they don’t necessarily get more liberal, but they do get more tribal and vicious. Many members of the alt-right, for example, famously shun Evangelical Christianity (calling its adherents “cuckstians”). Indeed, as we learn from the battle between social-justice warriors and their right-wing counterparts — the emerging class of godless, angry populists — when you remove from your moral code any obligation to love your enemies, politics hardly improves.

The damage extends far beyond politics, of course. If there’s one abiding consequence of the shallow theologies and simple superstitions of our time, it’s the inability to endure or make sense of adversity. It’s a phenomenon that fractures families, fosters a sense of rage and injustice, and ultimately results in millions of Americans treating problems of the soul with mountains of pharmaceuticals. ...

South Park raised a generation of trolls
Is it just me or has South Park gone full cuck?” wondered fans on Reddit’s The_Donald immediately after that episode aired, and probably not for the first (or last) time. But in the aftermath of Trump/Garrison’s election, those same, vigilant cuck-watchers were back to crowing over how South Park had really stuck it to politically correct types in a scene where Trump/Garrison tells PC Principal, “You helped create me.” That South Park positioned this as less of a triumphant comeuppance than a suicidal backfire didn’t seem to matter. And the show more or less left it there—portraying Trump/Garrison as a dangerously incompetent buffoon, but also as the ultimate “u mad?” to all those liberals they fucking hate.

All of which makes Parker and Stone’s recent declaration to lay off Trump in the coming 21st season a real disappointment at best, cowardice at worst. The duo is, of course, under no obligation to tackle politics—or anything else they don’t want to, for that matter. They’re also right that mocking Trump is both redundant and “boring,” and also that everyone does it. For two dyed-in-the-wool contrarians, Trump comedy feels every bit as bland, lifeless, and sitcom-safe as an episode of, say, Veronica’s Closet. Furthermore, Parker’s complaints of the show just “becoming CNN now” and not wanting to spend every week endlessly restacking the sloppy Jenga pile of Trump-related outrage is completely understandable. Believe me, I get it.

That said: Man, what a cop out. South Park has already spent the past 20 years being CNN for its CNN-hating audience. Meanwhile, Parker and Stone have proudly, loudly thumped for a “fearless” brand of satire that’s willing to mock everyone from George W. Bush to Scientology to Mormonism to Muhammad, even under death threats. To shrug now and say, as Parker did, “I don’t give a shit anymore”—right when, by their own admission, the influence of the show’s worldview has reached all the way to the White House—feels especially disingenuous, and suspiciously like caving to the young, Trump-loving fans with whom they have forged such an uneasy relationship. (“South Park bends the knee on their fake-news-fueled portrayal of President Trump,” one The_Donald post gloated, followed by many, many more.) If they truly believe that those trolls in the mirror are “horrible people” who are helping to “fuck the country up beyond repair,” it would be truly fearless to tell them why, with no hint of ambiguous, everything-sucks irony that can be willfully misinterpreted.

Porn is Destroying Dicks, and My Job
I should probably explain that I am Tantric healer, which means that I touch penises for a living. It's certainly not all I do, as an ordained priestess who supports men in cultivating sacred, conscious relationship with their authentic sexual expression, and the Divine Feminine herself. But, for our intents and purposes, all you really need to know is that I touch a lot of penises.
What's wrong with bucking and clenching and grinding? they ask. Well, these are the actions that speak to Voon's findings, which state that the porn addicted subjects "had greater impairments of sexual arousal and erectile difficulties" than those "healthy volunteers" we referenced earlier. The bucking and the clenching and the grinding are all indicative of desensitization, and of my clients' desperate attempts to generate some real-life arousal, because—as we've already determined—they have become tolerant to subtle sensations, and now require gross and exaggerated stimulation to feel themselves at all, let alone to achieve orgasm. [Graphic description follows of what to expect of a healthy male and a broken one.]
It's one thing to be numb and unreachable on your Tantrika's massage table. It's quite another when you are entwined in your lover's arms, and she wants to share a connected, mutually-satisfying, erotic experience, but all you can do is pummel and pound while clenching your eyes and your nether regions, calling up any number of online scenarios in your imagination to trick yourself into a semblance of turn-on. Because this is yet another downside of porn addiction: It makes your partner's needs and wants and humanity kind of irrelevant, if not downright annoying, because the porn addict is used to pixelated, 2D "women," who are so much easier to (not have to) deal with than the real life-version, what with their emotions, and their periods, and their clits.

"I prefer seeing you, because honestly, I feel sort of resentful when I have to give my partner foreplay," admitted a twenty-seven year-old client.

I spent 23 years as an elite fighter pilot, and it taught me that motivation is meaningless
A cure? A diagnosis? Pride and lust are wonderful motivators.
In real life, when fear, fatigue, and doubt set in, no speech can provide the motivation you need to keep going. The only thing you and your team can rely on is discipline.

"Discipline Equals Freedom" is Jocko Willink's formula for achieving success. ...

Literally overnight, my motivation evaporated – as did most of my interest in spending a career flying from a carrier. For the first time in my life, flying wasn't fun. I realized that the dream job was just that: a job. And it was a job that was going to require me to do things I didn't enjoy or find easy.

Fear can debilitate a carrier aviator, especially in combat. To succeed, I had to get past it. My self-discipline was all that I could rely on, and I needed every ounce that I had. ...

Most of my time was spent with men like Chris Kyle, who would sit next to me on rooftops, motionless for hours, observing the city through the scope of his rifle. Day in and day out, I watched him do the tedious, thankless, and unrewarding work they don't show you in recruitment videos or movies. Few things can sap your motivation and focus like Ramadi's suffocating dust and 115 degree heat. The only thing that gets you through an environment like that is discipline. And although that discipline often goes unrecognized, it doesn't go unrewarded: It allowed Chris to save countless lives and made him the most successful sniper in SEAL history.

DoD spends $84M a year on Viagra, similar meds
Not to suggest at all that the porn caused this too. But they are both repeated exposure to destructive, dehumanizing evils with significant neurological consequences.
A report published in September found that the incidence rate of ED among active-duty personnel more than doubled from 2004 to 2014.

Researchers at the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Center found that the overall incidence rate of ED climbed from 5.8 cases per 1,000 person-years in 2004 to 12.6 cases in 2013, or more than 1 percent of the total population.

According to the report, 100,248 cases of ED were diagnosed among active-duty members from 2004 to 2013.

More than half of those were classified as "psychogenic," meaning the dysfunction was related to psychiatric rather than physical causes.

A number of factors can contribute to ED, from mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety, to medications for treating physical and mental conditions as well as injuries, illness and aging.

"Everything Except Country and Rap": What You Really Mean
Relevant for this one line at the end:
Do you really like everything, or do you just like everything you’re told to?
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2017-04-21 06:18 pm

Unrelated: Buchfechten, or the defence against the dark Bible-thumping arts.

What with all that silliness with hankies and peepee sites and whatnot I figured I might as well weigh in.

Comparing my experience of the Bible in Orthodoxy to the Bible in Evangelicalism is sort of like this:

Read more... )
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
2016-03-21 04:01 pm

Byzantine perspective and practical considerations

This started off as a comment to the discussion here, but it both grew and degenerated into its own thing. Hopefully a bit more coherent than my last meditation on this.

With respect to the contrast between the perspective in Byzantine icons (and even most medieval art) versus the "realistic" style of post-Renaissance work, one thing that always strikes me is how much the former resembles the perspective in video games before 3D "photo"-realism became the norm.

For a particularly striking example: doorways in tile-based or isometric CRPGs (scroll down to "Chestyrre approaches a house to the south" and the second screenshot after that) and the door leading out to the world at the bottom of the Pentecost icon. The fact that even current games show a need to go "back" to this portrayal underscores the point about different needs.

(Also this icon of the Fall reminds me of the style of the Golden Axe games, but the latter is more of a technical limitation than a design decision, so not quite as good an example even if in my view more visually striking.)

This excellent discussion shows how much even "photo"-realistic depictions, literally mathematically perfect by Renaissance perspective rules (an unaided computer cannot do otherwise), need to be tweaked and adjusted to begin to function in a way that allows the most basic interactions one might expect in real life. Of note: a personal face-to-face interaction is the most difficult; violent games routinely render the player's own weapon (i.e., the player's primary means of participation) with a different perspective. And, of course, the first comment about monitor size and distance - which is entirely applicable to icons. And, of course, the way the person's face changes with the different FOV.

And, of course, actual photography requires a great deal of preparation and overhead before the machine you're using can reasonably approximate what you see.

So with all that in mind I can think of two main ways in which this manner of perspective works:

First, by drawing emphasis on what actually is necessary to depict, without cutting them off unrecognizably, obscuring other elements or requiring a great deal of irrelevant white space. (Consider, for instance, how tiny Jesus would be on your typical Transfiguration or Anastasis icon if rendered with modern perspective rules!)

Second, of which the first may be a subset, is the proper positioning of each element so that the player viewer might interact comfortably with it.

I write this with one specific example in mind: the Theotokos icon on the iconostasis in our church, which is based on this one (top row, second from the right). The ordinary manner of venerating this icon is to bow before it and kiss the Mother of God's right hand, as one might a priest in receiving a blessing. (Christ's feet are also kissed but that is another matter.) Her hand, however, is ostensibly also supporting Christ's weight; she'd have to move it and adjust Him for this purpose. The priest can simply swap hands; the icon cannot be animated to show the Theotokos doing this. (We might be able to do it now but the result would start dipping into the uncanny valley.)

This leaves us 3 options:
  1. Theotokos holding Christ in her left hand, stuck in a "kiss the ring" pose. Very effective for this 5-second exchange and nothing else (i.e., the rest of the 0.5-2+ hours that you're in there facing the icon).

  2. Theotokos holding Christ in her right hand, Renaissance perspective. You venerate Mary, bend awkwardly and kiss Christ's arse. Humbling, maybe, but inappropriate (and not in a good way).

  3. The in-between perspective we actually see on the icon so venerated.
This may be related to the (relative!) lack of statuary: this sort of trick simply does not work with a 3D model. Another trick: a picture of someone looking at you always looks like it's looking at you except at the most oblique angles, but a lone statue looking at what is in front of it is more often than not staring into nothing in particular (which at best makes the depicted seem remote and distant, at worst evokes Psalm 135:16).

Unrelated to perspective but related to design, one thing that always strikes me about the labels on icons is how difficult they are to read - even the ones in English are heavily stylized, longer words broken up and longer phrases mashed together in very reader-unfriendly ways, to the point of not being immediately recognizable as text, or at least text in one's own vernacular. This, I have come to believe, if it weren't deliberate before, is a bug-become-feature: we don't want to be reading any text without conscious effort - the immediately obvious focus should be the image of the person represented.

I'm sure there are other more concrete examples, but nothing in particular springs to mind now.

(And I don't think I'll really "get" anytime soon those icons that (trigger warning: literal graven image) are embossed shiny metal everywhere except a little window through which is a painting of the person's face.)
vaecrius: The blocky spiral motif based on the golden ratio that I use for various ID icons, ending with a red centre. (Default)
2016-01-10 07:21 pm

Knee-Deep In Death: Weapons

About time I started jotting down some of these thoughts that have been in my head about this.

Basic premise: The original Doom games (Doom 1 and 2) are a divinely inspired allegory of a man's repentance from sin.

As all pale shadows of the Truth, this is not a perfect analogy: in particular for this first post, no weapon in Doom is strictly necessary (except rocket against Icon of Sin).

(I should note that this does not work with the lore in Hideous Destructor at all, unless one were to assume an extremely unreliable narrator in the setting fluff I've written for it (which granted isn't too off base).)


There is much to be said for this - the basic plot, the aesthetic, the progression and changing appearance of the levels (especially in the first game, (as far as I can tell at the moment) getting weaker with each new official IWAD), even the monster designs (I am assuming that things represented as demonic influences in the game are exactly that, or at worst they are temptations in this world and our own brokenness) - but it's an unchewably big enough bite that this first post will only be one tiny nibble: a brief summmary of the role of each weapon.

Read more... )
vaecrius: The infamous cartoon of Darwin's head on a chimp's body, superimposed with a MSPainted Nazi armband. (are you a monkey)
2015-08-28 01:33 pm

Hump-and-dump Humpty-Dumpty. In hell.

And so we trudged along the frozen waste.
We found a wall of stone, ten feet in height,
Rough from wear and carelessness, easily clomb.
Stains, and a great stench, covered it--
Rotting, sulfrous protein, slime and shell.
Bubbling I heard: not below, but unseen.

Read more... )
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2015-07-07 04:33 pm

Re: Production

First, a passing thought:
A good design is seamless, unified, harmonious, whole. A bad design is fragmented and arbitrary, its elements stuck together ad-hoc with no consideration as to how one flows into the other. When the intelligent design researchers (and what they do is genuinely, legitimately research - I say this as a barrister and solicitor) look for signs of design, the usual formula is to isolate a harmonious design, deny the existence of its effective cause within creation, and conclude therefore that God must have done it. This is to deny that the effective cause is part of the harmonious whole, and to claim that there has been some kind of unnatural severance within creation. In other words, the signs of flaws and corruptions of the unified design of the original. If these are the signs of the Designer we seek, then that designer is not the One who designed causation for our use, Who is everywhere present and filling all things, Whose designs are at all friendly to us.

And now, have some cave worms (note: taxonomically not worms) to cleanse the palate.

According to this study, if you're white, male, well-educated or in the scientific "in", you are more likely to believe GMOs are safe. Or, rather, distrust increases the further you move out of this inner elite circle. There appear to be no controls for socioeconomic class. Am immediately reminded of Lewis' critique of Man's power over Nature being ultimately the mere power of some men over others.

Relatedly, I'm not the first to compare our economic system to a Paperclip Maximizer. The only real debate is just what is analogous to paperclips - mammon itself, or consumer products.

And now for some less short-form reblogging...

Fr. Stephen Freeman posts a trilogy of posts about sex and gender.

In case the blog is ever moved and the pictures are lost again, here are the pictures the accompany each:cut for spoiler - their best impact is when you read each article itself )

All three are well worth reading. That said, one quote struck me in particular:
In all discussions of our gendered existence, Christians must remember that male and female are eschatological images – they are images towards which we are moving, not givens according to which automatically live. The male who is not self-emptyingly male, is not yet what he shall be nor what he should be. The female who is not self-emptyingly female, is not yet what she shall be nor what she should be. And, of course, our situation is still more tragic and broken. For some, the experience of the energies of our nature is changed – whether through the brokenness of genetics or nurture. They are not yet what they shall be nor what they should be. We share a tragedy that is common to all humanity.
This is incomprehensible without an understanding of what Blessed Mother Maria Skobtsova was getting at in her reflection concerning the emulation of the Mother of God. It also provides, in my experience possibly for the first time, a framework for how we should approach masculine and feminine identity and prescription, in a way that finally relates to the theology of kenosis and the Cross (beyond the way in which all suffering so relates).

This leaves, of course, the content open: just what is male and what is female kenosis? Mother Maria's analysis is tantalizing, providing enough to offer a start to the dialogue but leaving nothing close to a clear, yes-no-depends method of recognizing either or both in another.

I'm starting to understand how Thomas Aquinas felt.

One possible answer: the distinction, outside of biological functions, is more descriptive than prescriptive in that if we simply follow the Way the means of that expression will make themselves known. But why then are there any commandments aimed at consciously maintaining the distinction?

Then Dana comments on Part 3 referencing a book called "Flight From Woman", and another hint suggests itself: every known effort to create a genderless society has only succeeded in creating a misogynistic society. Whatever the reason for it, it just happens that in our civilization the male is unmarked and the female marked, and to try to reform society such that everyone conforms to neutral the obvious thing to do (given the mindset of the revolutionary who is typically also an iconoclast) is to purge that which is marked. The requirement to maintain the distinction - especially in the New Testament where the early Church was going up against the gnostic heretics - may be (inter alia) a safeguard against that evil, which would be toxic to (again, inter alia) anyone who would otherwise have sought salvation through the feminine route.

I say "anyone" at the end of that paragraph. I do not believe in a strict individual (lit. individuus) binary where being on one side on one thing necessitates being on that side on everything else to the exclusion of the other. To believe in such exclusion would be to deny that any woman can carry her Cross, or that any man can be pierced to the heart by the sorrows of another - a denial both theologically monstrous and obviously untrue in experience. One of the most liberating and beautiful things I've found about Orthodoxy compared to Western theology is that to say X is Y is not to imply, in the absence of a genuine contradiction, that X is not Z.

But then how are we by (prescriptive, theological) nature male and female, but not all androgynous (~male and female created He every one of them~)?

Perhaps to all these statements should be added "without limitation", as the lawyers do. Are we each created, then, to find only the highest fulfillment in only one of the paths, however great our works may be down the other? We might, instead, speak not of paths but aspects, or abilities and potentials, or differing gifts of grace, or even statistics in an RPG (tempered, of course, by the constant remembrance that without God our works are nothing).

Or perhaps another test question is: which is worse off: a woman devoid of the feminine and a man of the masculine, or a woman devoid of the masculine and a man of the feminine?

I offer a very crude example.

The former (failure of own gender's virtue):
  • a group of men. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others lash out angrily and bitterly, say all manner of evil against whoever they feel may be responsible, fail utterly to bring consolation or solve the problem.
  • a group of women. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others do not know how to handle it and leave in shame.

The latter (failure of other gender's virtue):
  • a group of men. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others do not know how to handle it and leave in shame.
  • a group of women. One suffers emotional turmoil. The others lash out angrily and bitterly, say all manner of evil against whoever they feel may be responsible, fail utterly to bring consolation or solve the problem.

If both are equally bad, then this gives us no reason to believe that humanity is not fulfilled by total positive androgynity; if the former is worse, then that supports what we are taught.

This is increasingly becoming a matter of "I'll know it when I see it", without any ability to formalize what is going on. The Thomist understanding frustratingly remains.

Will hit Post for want of a logical conclusion.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
2015-01-28 05:54 pm

Gemini: Garden of earthly delights

describe 2 people marooned together and their relationship after 5 days, 5 months and 5 years, in 300 words.

Read more... )

(originally posted on tumblr; posting here for archival reasons. another take by [personal profile] vorzac, sans 300-word limit, here; [personal profile] helarxe's fulfilment of both of these here)
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
2014-12-21 09:58 pm

Possibly an unfair caricature, but I was amused and that's what matters.

There are two shooting clubs, Club O and Club C. Each has their own shooting range.

C boasts some of the most advanced techniques and is welcoming of everyone, and all of their members are capable of hitting their man-height target 100% at maximum range on most days.

O openly admits that the vast majority of its members can't even reliably hit the target, which is about 20 feet wide.

C's range is a state-of-the-art climate-controlled sound-dampened indoor range of exactly 10 metres. Everything is built to very exacting measurements. The bullseye on each target is exactly 0.61803 metres in radius. Members are fitted with custom-made ergonomic pistols with optic sights accurate to 1/60 of a minute of angle. Failure to hit the bullseye is treated as a scandal resulting in much hand-wringing for your teacher and the club board, and failure to hit the target can get you permanently banned from the club. (This is not always enforced.)

O's range is on the side of a mountain - the rainy side. It is in the burned-out clearing in a wooded area that suffers many brush fires and the area often gets hit with snowstorms. The clubhouse has been destroyed several times in the past fifty years due to landslides. The target is about 20 feet wide and its circumference is painted with a very bold, thick red line so you know exactly where it is - which is important because it is about 300-500 yards away (depending on more factors than we can get into right now, none of them seeming to involve what anyone actually wants) and the bullseye is about an inch wide, with a literal bull's eye painted into the middle. You are expected to aim for the optic nerve in the back of that eye (not depicted). Scopes are forbidden but full-auto weapons are encouraged. It is strictly forbidden to denigrate anyone for their inaccuracy, provided they were actually aiming for the bullseye and the bullet did not hurt anyone. (Temporary bans are frequent and there is no standard for their length.)

O and C used to be the same club. Both of them have plaques in their clubhouses dedicated to their early legends who were able to shoot tiny, barely visible targets at over 300 yards in the middle of a storm in a burning forest - no scope, of course.
vaecrius: Duke2 Rigelatin overlord: "We'd kill you, you see, but our religion prevents the interruption of suffering." (rigelatin)
2014-12-03 12:24 pm

Passing thought

Progress is, in many ways, a modern myth and a rhetorical device by which Modernity doesn’t have to give a reasonable account for its failures. Everything’s in progress so no matter how bad we’re doing, “we’re improving.” And, as we’ll see in an article I’m working on now, everything that doesn’t agree with this is simple “like something out of the Middle Ages…” That is, able to be dismissed as not even belonging to our own time period.

This technique was used repeatedly by the colonial powers in order to justify their wholesale rape of other cultures – and continues to justify the wholesale rape of many traditional cultural values in our own land. It should rightly (and accurately) be compared to the repeated 5-year Plan justifications of the Soviets, for whom wholesale slaughter and genocide could be justified by Marxist progress. The Brave New World has almost destroyed the inhabited earth several times within the last century.

We had plagues and infections. Now we have obesity, diabetes and cancer.

We had cripples and the lame. Now we have crippling debt and the overqualified unemployable.

We had slaves that we owned and had to feed and care for. Now we have indentured workers who have no ability to exercise their theoretical choice to stop working, that we have no responsibility for and can throw away at any time - rented from no lessor.

We had soldiers who would burn down and depopulate inconvenient villages for us and send the survivors into slavery. Now we have corporations and gentrifiers who enslave first, and backhoes and law enforcement to do the rest. (Admittedly, the killing is now kept to a minimum, or at least a reasonably slow trickle.)

We used to live at the mercy of the weather and the elements, which at any time may destroy all that we hold dear. Now we live at the mercy of stock prices, market forces and the politics of government regulation.

We used to live in regular dread of famine. Now we are in danger of the entire world becoming unable to produce food and we don't feel a thing.

And now an idea for that far-future thing:
ancient alien race lives for tens of billions of years fleeing dying star after dying star, with only survival in mind. they attack earth, and capture a saint for interrogation. they torture him to death over the course of a year trying to get "the truth" out of him, about what humanity "really" is, and the result drives the torturers insane in a reverse Lovecraft scenario. someone picks up the transcripts and disseminates them to all public channels, sending ruin among the stars as the ancients destroy themselves in a nihilistic orgy of violence. we take their ships and infrastructure, learn to replicate it and use our newfound habitable planet indices and FTL travel to colonize the galaxy. we never learn how the FTL actually works and after the initial wave there is a gradual deterioration until everyone is isolated again.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
2014-11-10 01:59 pm

Undead minions

Most necromancers can ill afford the luxury of being guarded by an army of stinking, disease-ridden, animal-eaten, rotting ambulatory corpses. Much work goes into cleaning, preserving and repurposing the dead tissue to serve the magic-user's purposes, and only the wealthy have the manpower to maintain more than four or five in constant operation at a time.

Samaelle's permanent undead minions (excluding things that were intended only for a single engagement or which have since been lost or destroyed) are as follows: )
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
2014-10-11 03:23 pm

Quote of the day

When one undertakes to examine Scripture in an idle, intellectual way, he creates hatred and quarrelling. Why? Because the intellectual approach to Scripture does not help us turn and reflect on our sins, but instead makes us focus on problems and concepts related to the study of Scripture – as a result our logical and intellectual faculties are aroused to no real purpose. “Knowledge” by itself adds nothing. On the contrary, it encourages the cultivation of the individual and his private sense of things; it fosters the self-sufficiency of his own personal opinions, which he then seeks to justify and impose on others. This kind of approach to Scripture immediately places you in conflict with others; it opposes your will and opinion to theirs, prompting you to disagree and argue with them, and to make enemies of your brothers. Filled as I am with my own opinions about things, I am not able to receive anything from God.

[…]It’s one thing to read Scripture because you want to collect information, and another thing to read it because you want to acquire its true content, that is, the Holy Spirit. This kind of knowledge is the life of God (cf. Jn 17:3), the entry and extension of God into our life; it is God’s descent and dwelling among us. We can judge whether or not our study of Scripture is authentic based on the number of tears we shed when we study. To be sure, I can also read Scripture without shedding tears, and without a strong sense of my sins, but with the hope that God’s grace, through my reading of Scripture, will break open my hardened heart. Read Scripture, then, but don’t forget about your sins and reduce Scripture to an object of intellectual inquiry, for at that point it ceases being the word of God and you start seeing it as something human. The criterion for your study should be this: the way you read the Bible should bring peace to your heart, communion with God, love of neighbors, and the consciousness of your own sinfulness: the recognition of how unworthy and ill-prepared you are to stand before God.
Elder Aimilianos, On Abba Isaiah

Bonus link: The Star by Arthur C. Clarke.

At first I thought it was a refutation, then a hypothetical refutation, a what-if. Then a story, if the ramifications are read backwards from what is implied (and there is no inherent reason in the facts presented to go in either particular order), of redemption. On further contemplation I feel this to be nothing less than an icon of the Cross.
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
2014-09-30 11:03 pm

Hong Kong Occupy Central linkdump.

Some contextual points on Hong Kong.
  1. Hong Kong was a fishing village on a goddamn rock when it was annexed by the British in 1842. The population grew and exploded during the 20th century as a result of a number of factors, but a huge one is the creation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). During the Chinese civil war and subsequent purging, thousands fled the violence by escaping to Hong Kong — including both sets of grandparents in my family. One was a Western car dealer in Shanghai; the other was from a landowning family. FWIW, I still have some distant relatives from the latter side in China. I have no living relatives in China on my maternal grandparents’ side. Everyone was killed.
  2. Throughout the 20th century, Hong Kong flourished, grew, and developed a distinctive culture and economy. I’m not saying everything was rosy as an English colony. I’m saying the culture and economy are real and independent from China.
  3. The events of Tiananmen may seem like they were a long time ago, and have entered history as the kind of event that’s lost its shock over time. But twenty-five years is a short time for many Hong Kongers, and Tiananmen’s outcome was far from predictable at that time. Remember that Tiananmen was only eight years before the handover. Imagine watching the coverage that summer and knowing that was to be your government soon.
  4. All of this is to give just a bit of history as to why I and many others say: Hong Kong people do not consider themselves to be the same as mainland Chinese. When I say I’m from Hong Kong, I mean that. It is not the same.

A Real Look Into The Hong Kong Umbrella Revolution.
I’ve had so many concerned friends from around the world recently message me, concerned for my safety in Hong Kong. This post is to show my dear friends, and those from around the world what its actually like here in Hong Kong at this moment.

a word from Gary Pollard
Start with this: that the parents or grandparents of almost every Hongkonger came here to escape the politics and chaos and lawlessness of mainland China.

Today, they look at a local government made up almost entirely of people chosen for their loyalty to the PRC, irrespective of their ability or their personal ethics. Almost every government minister has profound “communist” sympathies or former DAB or “leftist” connections. Some are not so “hidden” Communists. That is the only reason they are there. It feels to many Hong Kong people that they are trapped, ruled by these people. No one voted for them. When the public DID vote a prominent leftist out of the Legislative Council, the Chief Executive just appointed him to the Executive Council, which has MORE power. Screw your democracy.

That would not seem so bad if the Legislative Council could impose any restraints on the government. But too few observers understand or care that the Legislative Council is half made up of functional constituencies who are either kowtowing to Beijing or to big business. There is a split voting system where legislation must be passed both by geographically elected legislators and these special interest legislators, who are basically lobbyists. The public did not vote for them, but they can veto ANY legislation aimed at controlling the government or supporting grassroot interests.

How do protesters stay in contact with each other when the government has shut down or censored Internet and mobile networks? Simple: You don't use either.
Meet Open Garden's FireChat, the messenger app protesters in Hong Kong have been using to circumvent government attempts to prevent them from organizing by blocking social networks like Instagram. Instead of relying on a single website or government-controlled networks, FireChat uses a technology called mesh networking for its "Nearby" chat mode.

‘Against My Fear, I See That You Hope’: A Professor’s Open Letter to Her Hong Kong Students
I am inspired that you are making the student boycott your own. Earlier I had written that you were inspired by May Fourth and the awakening of social consciousness. But observing you I have come to realize that this interpretation is far too simplistic, that initial reportage did not give you enough credit for both adaptation and innovation. Some have invoked May Fourth, and some—like Longhair when he spoke to you—lectured on Gandhi and Martin Luther King. No doubt their examples have inspired you. But reading the Chinese University boycott magazines and your reportage in Ming Pao, I see that your examples are recent and cosmopolitan. You are looking to 1968 in Paris, the 2011 Chilean student boycott, and 2012 in Quebec. You self-consciously organized the preceding campus meetings to follow Quebec, to be as democratic as possible, to give each of your classmates ownership. What I thought had been naïveté was a careful imitation of a model you had identified to be successful. So, though elements of your protests may have historical roots, I salute you for seeking a new model for Hong Kong, one which—your leadership tells us—will influence student movements to come.

Things that could only happen in a Hong Kong protest
Apologising for the barricade you put up
An entrance to the Causeway Bay MTR station was barricaded and emblazoned with signs shouting out for democracy. In the middle was a small cardboard sign - also written by the protesters: "Sorry for the inconvenience."
and the "violent", "extreme" contrast.
vaecrius: A stylized navy blue anarchy sign juxtaposed with a pixellated chaos symbol made to resemble a snowflake. (anarchy and chaos)
2014-09-28 07:09 pm

Some arbitrary thoughts about FPS design and "realism"

[2016-01-06 Before reading this it might be better to read Jack Monahan's "refrigerator box" essay which is much more informative.]

From the sighting and aiming discussion here a few things occur to me:

Iconic representation

Icons and all the talk about making present, etc. never made any sense to me until I saw some comment about someone watching a "cradle" Orthodox believer pray to one, and the whole exchange(!) looked like they were having a conversation with a person standing before them. At once it all clicked: the skewed perspectives of various objects, far from being a matter of failing at mere "representation", were required for the full presentation to the viewer to address specific requirements for interacting with what was portrayed on the 2-dimensional space. Things are deliberately moved aside or extended or not foreshortened, or viewed from a different angle than something right next to it, to reveal that which if you were physically there you'd be able to see with no more than a very simple, unconscious movement - the top of a book being opened, the objects on the surface of a table, the hand of a person holding a heavy object. The entire image - and each portion thereof - is made not to reproduce the mechanical light-impression of the physical presence, but as an interface.

It also explains why I've always preferred Doom and Quake's centered guns over the angled views of later FPSes: while more "realistic" in the sense that the side of the gun would be a closer approximation to what you'd see from either eye while the weapon was pressed to your shoulder but before you started looking down the sights, it permanently blocks your view of whatever is below you to your right - something you would be able to see in meatspace with minimal effort by as little as a slight turn of the head, an action that probably should not deserve its own keybind.

As applied to my so-called "realism" Doom mod, unlike most shooters with such aspirations I keep the crosshair rather than sights - which crosshairs, as crude approximations of sight pictures, only (but always and automatically) appear wherever looking down the sights would be an option in another game. The weapon sprite itself is kept as out of the way as would remain faithful to the original aesthetic. No more than movement of the eyes, or at most a slight turn of your avatar's direction to move either sprite or crosshair out of the way, is required to look around. The ultimate result is a double view of your weapon with a large gap in between that you would never see in real life, but which allows the viewer to extract information with no more effort or artifice than if the object had been physically present in the viewer's own equivalent space.

The "drone effect"

Which takes us to the next great hazard in "realistic" first-person shooting. You have a mouse and keyboard. This gets rambly fast. )
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
2014-08-20 12:37 am

Linkdumping about transcendence.

The best stupid pun ever.

But I don’t want to stop there. There a few deeper and more mysterious applications of this. The Lamb slain at the foundation of the world as a type of evolution.

That said, another, biologically more, philosophically less cf. colonials: more* ambitious take on the Nth Men story.
(Also he has thought out giant spiders :O :O :O||||~)

*2014-08-21 EDIT: The more I think about it, the more I think Bogleech is right. This is better in every way: humane where MAM was profoundly misanthropic, humble where F&LM was arrogant and certain, hopeful even in death where MAM and F&LM are ambivalent. This is what science fiction ought to be.
vaecrius: a crude scrawl of a grinning, blazing yellow sun. (hier kommt die sonne)
2014-04-11 11:07 pm

On speaking truth with love.

Missionary Secrets 5: How to fruitfully insult the Prophet, or: what every proselytizer in a traditionally Christian-privileged country will get wrong if they don't go out of their way to try to get around this problem.
First, you need to earn the right to be heard. Say you're in Cairo, for instance. Demonstrate a knowledge of the history of the place. Show that you know a lot about Egypt and the people there. And this is the hard part: you actually need to really know this stuff. You really need to know about Chalcedon and arrival of Arab Imperialism (ie, Islam) and the Fatimids an Mamlukes an so on. You need to show that you know about the contemporary challenges faced by Cairenes: that Egypt imports more than 50% of its wheat, that the currency has become very weak, and so on. You also need to show that you know more about the Qur'an and Islam than your hearer. Not in a pompous, bossy way of course. Finally, you need to be able to do all of this by mostly asking questions and (really) listening to their answers (and really caring about what they say--there is no substitute for sincerity).

And seeing something like this from a missionary in public is surprisingly inspiring. We are saved in our weakness but too often do everything in our power not to boast of it.
vaecrius: A little yellow ant in the grass on a sunny day. (yellow ant)
2014-04-10 10:12 pm

Hypothetical guaranteed income system on the cheap

[2014-05-16 EDIT]Well that was spectacularly dumb of me. $1k/mo for everyone in Canada is thirty-plus billion a month not year. That said, if we took all our fossil fuel subsidies and gave it all to the poorest 25% of the population, that actually does net roughly $1k for every man, woman and child every month.

As a thought experiment as to what might conceivably work around here.

Every man, woman and child gets $1000/mo, non-taxable.
No questions asked. No rules about how to spend it.
You don't get it if and while you're in jail.
This is on top of our current health care system, but should replace many other tax breaks and support and industry subsidies and whatnot.
It is an opt-in system and you must apply for the payment each calendar month. You may apply on behalf of an incompetent dependant, or some other person who lives with you OR is a family member and has previously signed their consent in person.
Right to each payment expires after the end of the given month.
Must do this personally, with exceptions for armed forces and diplomats and similar.
Everyone must have 1 morning off from work per month to do this. A person who causes a missed payment will be fined triple the amount.
25% non-refundable income tax credit for payments unclaimed, which can be transferred to a family member or a corporation of which one is a shareholder, but you must claim the credit for the year of the missed payment.

This is $30 billion in payments before admin costs (and tax breaks).
Compare for baseline. How much lower can we go?

As a very rough budget:
Rent (or $1000 CAD
Food: assume $30 daily budget for each person. 30x30=$900
(But if you can cook, that's closer to $600.)
Electricity: $100
That's $2000 right there. Add another $100 for telecommunications and "other".
If a typical household has 3 individuals, that's $700.
Total cost is $21 billion.
Allowing cooking, that's $18 billion.
Hopefully any unit so shitty that it doesn't have a stove will go for less than $1000 per month.

Possible horrible exploits:
- keep people locked up and take their money.
(this kind of fraud happens for other things too.)
- pop out lots and lots of kids.
(presumably our laws against parental neglect still apply.)
- impersonate someone.
(admin can keep better records. obviously vouching must be allowed.)
- use the money for...
(this is a feature not a bug.)
- government-side: misuse those records.
(how much worse is this than income tax?)
- force people to stick together.
($1800/mo to every single person is simply not going to happen. Limiting it to per household would create the opposite incentive which is far more perverse.)