Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Ideas into Objects

The real world always causes such problems.  I regularly come up with crazy ideas for FMB and then am forced to chop them because they don't work well with the physical limitations of the implementation I have chosen.  I have scrapped more than one great artifact idea simply because the text required to explain the way that it works was so large that it would not fit reasonably onto a single card.  You might suggest that the idea was too complicated to be good anyway, which is fair, but in most cases the mass of text was simply because I needed to cover edge cases and make sure that foolish people could not badly misinterpret how things were supposed to work.

I am often pinned by ideas that work well in abstraction or in a computer game but do not function well in a board game or ideas that I could easily work into a final version but don't mesh well with my current implementation.  For example, I have gone through several different kinds of tokens to represent units in the game.  I know how I want them to look at publishing time (if that time ever arrives!) but in the meantime I have to deal with making sure that my hacked together pieces adequately reflect the units properties so I can test the game.  Having ideas that are good when I have a factory cranking out bits isn't much good if I can't convince people to play the test version because it is too complicated or ugly or the learning curve too steep.  It is a very tricky tightrope to walk to make sure that at every stage the game is fun, understandable and as pretty I can make it and yet not lose anything that I want to include in the final version.

I think this whole process has really made it clear how being an iNtuitive (Myers-Briggs personality type) can be challenging.  I find it so hard to give up on my ideas and my grand scheme and get down to the nitty gritty details.  It takes me forever to get to actually building something physical whereas becoming completely absorbed in the ideas and theories behind the game is so easy.  I want to just sit back and discuss the best ways to build things and the optimal modelling of complicated abilities and not so much to actually hold something complete in my hands.  A ditchdigger I am not.

The pictures to the side here are of the new game board after I got my stuff printed out today.  I have a big chunk of foam board that I am going to stick all the paper cutouts on to give them some thickness and stiffness and then commence to mad testing.  I also went back and updated the rules so they would be a lot clearer and added rules for 3 and 4 player versions.  The pictures, rules and information are all posted ->Here<- if you want to take a look.  Obviously feel free to read, play and print out, but no publishing without paying me!  (I am involved in some kind of delusion that people would actually pay me for what I have done so far... I might need professional help.)

Monday, June 28, 2010

What to think about flying

Today I had a friend from my university come by for a visit.  I dub him The Researcher.  The Researcher had a good talk with me about all kinds of subjects from taxation theory to climate change to good coding practice and one thing that came up was his regret that his lifestyle was so terrible in terms of CO2 output.  I did a quick bit of math with some online calculators and concluded that his flight from his home to Toronto and back output as much carbon as my entire lifestyle for a year including a flight home for Christmas.

I wonder what to think about this.  Certainly there is plenty of vitriol directed at people who drive huge gas guzzling SUVs around the streets of Toronto but it seems to me that those thoughts are directed at the wrong targets.  The CO2 cost of flying is absolutely immense so if we are really concerned about reducing climate change rather than just bitter at people who buy expensive things we can't afford then our ire should be directed at the airlines and those that use them.  I certainly advocate moving to efficient vehicles but I see far more complaint against vehicles than planes than the relative emissions would justify.

It makes me wonder what the most moral standpoint to take is.  Should I simply ignore what everyone else does and concentrate on only my own lifestyle or should I spend time and effort trying to push others to change how they live?  Unfortunately I think we as a society spend a lot more time taking potshots at safe targets than we do actually looking at the numbers involved.  It is safe from a social standpoint to complain about big companies and governments since they aren't going to meet you at a party and be bitter about your views but complaining about things that most of the people you know do on a regular basis may well land you in some very uncomfortable social situations.

Saying "Why doesn't the government do more about climate change?" is simple and risk free.  I haven't advocated increasing my tax load to accomplish these changes or suggested which programs should be cut to pay for the difference.  It is similarly true that you don't see "Big Oil companies should take more safety precautions" regularly combined with "and I am in favour of price increases at my local gas station to pay for it."  Saying "Anyone who flies instead of taking the train, boat, or bus is a climate criminal." is significantly more likely to cause problems, not the least of which is that so few of us never fly anywhere.

I don't begrudge The Researcher his lifestyle.  I am certainly in no position to moralize, both because I do fly and because I don't feel like this is a moral issue as opposed to a practical one.  The government fixing the negative externalities of flights with additional taxation is a move I would support and I am confident The Researcher would too.  I do wonder though at how effective our complaints are when we focus them on those who will not inconvenience us personally when they hear of them.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Inspiration strikes

I have been working frantically on FMB to get it to a portable, presentable state.  I find that sometimes several days will go by where I think nothing about the game at all and then I will suddenly be seized by the desperate need to create and go on a spree.  I think my life would be drastically different if I didn't have a child (and hence responsibilities) to regulate my time.  I am sure I would end up working halfway through the night when inspiration grabbed me and only putting down my tools when dawn began to light to sky.  As it is I need to get up and get breakfast for my family, take Elli to school and do the various chores that are part of my day so I need to get to sleep at a normal hour.  Doing this breaks up my spurts of insight and activity and ensures that everything takes drastically longer because that intensity simply does not come back as soon as my chores are complete.

My latest innovation is building a game board.  I am using a hex grid in the shape of a hexagon with each side having 10 hexes along it.  I wanted the board to be randomizable, somewhat like a Settlers board is, but I certainly wasn't going to make each hex separately.  I ended up going with a smaller hexagon in the middle with sides 4 hexes long and 6 trapezoidal shapes for the sides, just like you can see in the images on the side.

The colours on the squares represent rivers(blue), hills(green) and mountains(orange) and the letters are for Fortresses and Mines.  I have 8 different side pieces built so the total number of different gameboards is 8 choose 6 * (6*5*4*3*2) = 20160.  While many of the gameboards that would be generated are fairly similar to one another each game should be slightly different, even if the cards and artifacts that are drawn weren't a factor, and they are.

My next step is to get all of these pictures printed out and made into usable game pieces somehow.  Perhaps I will laminate them, perhaps I will glue them to bristol board to give them some stiffness, it isn't entirely clear.  Eventually they will be made of the same sort of cardstock that is used in other board game boards, even if I have to buy cheap board games and chop them up to generate the materials.

The units are going to be wooden bricks with stickers on them in the end, but for now they will also be printed out bits of paper finished in the same way as the board itself is.  Hopefully I can even replace "Wizard" with an actual picture of a wizard, but my limited artistic skills prevent that being an option for now.  The numbers represent Power/Speed and the black triangles in the corner designate a ranged unit.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The problem with morality

As I mentioned in my last post, I have been reading  The Deniers:  The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud*      *and those who were too afraid to do so.  Reading this book has managed to make me feel really down on the whole climate change debate in general, and on important science in particular.  The issue is that finding truth is so damn difficult; every time I think an idea looks conclusive either way I find a new exception or new expert that has some very good reasons why it isn't.  It seems less like a problem with climate science and more like a problem with morality being involved in scientific debate.

The issue is this:  If you are utterly convinced that a particular scientific result is extremely important it is reasonable to think that it is more important to promote that result than promote the truth.  Should someone who firmly believes that human civilization is headed for catastrophe spend as much time explaining the weaknesses of climate change models as they do the disastrous consequences if they are right?  Surely the answer is that correct action can be more important than impartiality or truth so people can be justified in all kinds of deceptive or biased behaviour when action is necessary.  The problem of course is that when many people feel this way about a topic on both sides a neutral bystander who simply wants unbiased information will find it nearly impossible to find.

A good example of this is statements issued by the IPCC in their various reports on climate change.  There are many scientists who absolutely agree with the general consensus that AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming) is real and a valid concern, and yet find that the reports issued by the IPCC contain information that is not scientifically valid.  It does not invalidate all the science that has been done or change the fact of AGW, but it does mean that misinformation is being published under an extremely powerful, prestigious flag and people will end up badly misinformed.  Note that I am not at all ignorant of the shenanigans on the other side of the fence - industry supported science (perhaps 'science'?) isn't better, and is probably much worse.

Of course the IPCCs bending of the facts is modest compared to real pundits like Al Gore or Martin Durkin.  It is clear that people decided that climate change was a serious problem and decided to make the film An Inconvenient Truth that used junk science, ridiculous fearmongering and real distortions of the actual dangers from climate change to get press.  Those people almost certainly felt like they were doing the right thing because they were educating the public about a real threat even though they obviously weren't trying to give anything resembling a reasonable picture to the audience since the real picture isn't actually that scary.  Right on its heels followed The Great Global Warming Swindle which employed junk science, even greater distortions of the truth and intriguing political stories to discredit the climate change theory.

People on both sides of the debate feel like the issue is so important that it is morally justified to use nearly any tactic to get people on board with their interpretation of the facts.  *Both* sides purport to be saving future generations, one from a climate holocaust, the other from poverty.  There are people who really do simply want to get the truth out but the lines of communication are clogged with information from people who honestly believe that the debate is settled and the only thing left is winning the public relations war.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The Earth Shook

Today at 1:41 EST there was an earthquake in Toronto of magnitude 5.5.  This is a more contentious statement than you might think because apparently news sources are by and large reporting it as a Toronto earthquake instead of an Ottawa earthquake despite the fact that Ottawa is drastically closer to the centre of the quake.  This happens of course because Torontonians consider themselves the centre of the world and much of the rest of Canada finds this intensely aggravating.  Ottawa citizens are upset that the quake is being attributed to Toronto and Toronto citizens are busy making Tshirts that say "I survived the Toronto Earthquake".  Oh, the humanity.

I was sitting in my living room reading a book called The Deniers:  The world-renowned scientists who stood up against global warming hysteria, political persecution, and fraud*      *and those who were too afraid to do so.
With a title like that you can rest assured you are getting a fair and balanced look at the issues and science surrounding global warming.  While reading said book suddenly the couch began to shake and I wondered what could be going on.

For a moment the answer was clear - the subway was going by underneath me.  I have plenty of experience standing in businesses near my place and feeling the world rumble and shake so clearly this must be the same... except I am 12 floors up and not particularly near the subway.  Quickly I decided that I was experiencing an earthquake, but how bad will it get and how much danger am I in?  I think it is telling about how people make decisions in times of crisis that the first thing I did was look out the window.  I had some kind of idea that if I could see glass falling from buildings or people running in mad panic that I certainly would need to take action, but instead I saw people on the street acting completely normally while the world shook under my feet.

I decided that since people on the street weren't even feeling a quake and other buildings looked just fine I should go to my computer and start messaging people.  I am not claiming that 'hop online and chat!' is the best general strategy to deal with natural disasters, but it is what I did.  After a couple minutes the shaking subsided and things went back to normal.  It felt so surreal that I was part of a natural disaster a moment ago, calculating the risks of being in a collapsing building vs. being on the street next to a collapsing building and now I am back to business as usual.

So to summarize my responses to natural disaster:

- See what other people are doing
- Chat about it online
- Go back to goofing off

I think I need a better plan.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A story

This is purely an anecdotal story of stuff that happened to me.  You may or may not find that interesting.

For quite some time my microphone for my computer has been an issue.  There was always a background of static and interference so when I was raiding and using ventrilo (voice software) people found it somewhat difficult to hear me.  A few weeks ago this suddenly became drastically worse for no particular reason, so much so that Gnome was complaining that when I talked he got a headache.  The static background noise from my mic was really loud and annoying and I could not fathom why this would be.

We tried setting up my mic on Wendy's computer and it worked perfectly there, so clearly the mic was not at fault.  I tried using both of our mics and trying them sitting on the table or with the headphones on and always the problem was the same.  People told me is must be my sound card, which sounded a bit implausible to me but I certainly had no other explanation.  Corporate Plunderer aka Snidely had a solution for me however; he had a spare mic that he was happy to ship to me to try to solve the problem.  This mic connected through a USB too so it should avoid any possible issues with the regular audio in jack.  I got the new mic, set it up and got people to hop onto ventrilo to test it... and still the exact same static issue.

What the *hell* is going on?  New mic, new port, what could possibly explain this?

I decided that I should test my ventrilo settings to figure out if that could possibly be the issue.  It seemed like a longshot since I sure didn't change my ventrilo settings a few weeks ago when the problem became dramatic, but I was running out of options.  I checked every setting and nothing was wrong... and then I noticed that I had an option to change 'default sound input' to 'microsoft life cam'.  Microsoft life cam is my webcam.  This sits on top of my monitor directly beside my computer.  It also happens to have (unknown to me) an audio input which is a tiny hole in the back of the camera - located almost directly beside my computer fan.

I unplugged the webcam and reconnected my new mic and lo and behold everything is perfect, crystal clear.  Apparently I have been using my webcam for ventrilo input ever since I bought my new computer and I must have shifted my monitor slightly closer to my computer a few weeks ago which caused all the noise and stress.  ARGH.

I could have noticed this forever ago if I had just unplugged my microphone and then tried to talk on ventrilo and it would have worked.  Is it so terrible of me to not have tried talking on voice software with no mic active to see what would happen?  It is a good thing for my computer that it is one of my truly beloved possessions or I might have to crack out the

Monday, June 21, 2010

Barefoot Problems

I have been continuing barefooting over the past week and am still enjoying it.  There have been some very hot days but I have not yet been forced to concede and put on some shoes.  I have decided though that walking any real distance on gravel is really unpleasant - I took a shortcut through a park last week and walked a couple hundred meters on loose gravel and my feet were distinctly unhappy about it.  I had my first negative encounter regarding barefooting with an official person today at Elli's school.  I was expecting to have issues with stores or malls and such and was quite prepared to have a fight with them but I was not especially prepared for people at the school to inform me that bare feet are not allowed.

The tricky thing here is consequences.  If I get in a fight with a merchant the worst that can happen is I don't go to that store again, and even that much is exceedingly unlikely; the negative consequences are just miniscule.  However, if I get in a big fight at Elli's school it could make things more difficult for Wendy and Elli and I simply have to deal with the school for another 10 years or so - I can't just go to another vendor!  I have no trouble with causing myself some inconvenience in the name of forwarding a project but I don't much like making other people's lives rough, particularly since the people at Elli's school have been fantastic throughout her time there.

I guess this leaves me wondering what exactly I hope to accomplish by refusing to wear shoes.  Part of it is simply to understand the physical experience, part of it is to test the reactions of others and see how people perceive actions that are outside the norm and part of it is to see how others react to logic showing that their heuristics are off.  I think I understand the physical experience and I have seen a good set of reactions and had some great conversations provoked by my actions, so how long should the experiment continue?  I don't have good answers to these questions at the moment.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Religion and Global Warming - Seriously

I decided after making my climate change posts to go and read a bunch of what various authors have to say about climate change.  I read a ton on the internet and ordered a bunch of books from the library and in most cases I found what I expected to find.  There was one very dramatic exception though, and it is in the book titled Why We Disagree About Climate Change.  I fully expected this book to be a bunch of skeptics arguments about why climate change is not happening or even some kind of middle ground talking about the many suggested responses.  What I did not expect was someone trying to talk about climate change in the context of religion.  What that sort of thing seems tailor made for me to read and talk about it certainly surprised me to see it.

The author talks a lot about how religions view climate change and what sort of action they advocate in response to it.  He obviously knows a lot about climate but he seems to be seriously lacking in knowledge about religion.  For example:

There is a reverence for life - a sacredness - that is central to nearly all religious writings, even if expressed in different ways. There is also a belief in the innate value of the entire created order, the material universe brought into being as an expression of the creative will of God, or the gods.

I don't know what religious writing Mike Hulme has been reading that suggest these things but it sure isn't the Bible.  This is strange since Mike claims to be a Christian, so one would think that if his holy book (and one that is a basis for several of the largest religions in the world) held exactly the opposite views that he does he would know.  Unfortunately for anyone hoping for objective reporting this book espouses the view that religions all agree that climate change is real and that we have a duty to stop it and to put the welfare of future generations first in our thoughts and considerations.  The Bible does *not* have sacredness of life or value of all creation as a central theme.  Sacrifice, burning, wanton destruction, murder and war are enshrined as central to God's desires and hopes.  Though God does advocate helping widows and orphans he also advocates heinous crimes against anyone violating any of his laws (or anyone not born a Jew) and displays virtually no respect or reverence for anything that isn't human.

This sort of view isn't surprising.  People don't read the Bible, nor do they actually concern themselves with what it says, which is good and bad.  It is good in that there is practically no value in knowing what the Bible says when it comes to making decisions, but it is bad in that they can continue to do whatever they want content that the Bible has something in it that justifies their actions.  It is all well and good for a few religious people to say that their religion has various 'pro-earth' concepts buried in it, but by and large they are simply assuming that their religion epitomizes their own values when in fact there simply is not consensus among those that follow the religion nor agreement from official religious sources.

Like in many other situations it is well and good to say you feel one way, but simply assuming that any group you belong to must agree with you and that your group must have been founded on those principles is simply hubris.  This is all entirely aside from the matter that it is quite trivial to be against bad things and quite difficult to come up with good solutions.  The author does at least acknowledge that religions have not been any more successful than the rest of us in coming up with solutions that actually work.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

On being wrong

I was levelling up a new character today in WOW, a feral druid.  As I levelled up I have been exploring the new Looking For Group tool that lets people queue up for a random dungeon and assembles groups from many different servers together to do dungeons.  This has been massively successful and mostly I really enjoy myself even though I rarely end up having anything more to say to my groupmates than "Hi" and "Good run, thanks".  One particular run today was quite strange though because I ended up grouped with 3 people who seemed competent and 1 who did practically nothing.  I was tanking the run and after a dozen pulls or so one of the group members named Graypoupon had done less than 10% of the damage I had, which is wretchedly embarassing.  I said

Graypoupon, you have done less than 10% of my damage so far.  Either get your ass in gear or get ready to get booted.

Some people don't mind others in the group who absolutely suck and others are driven crazy by it.  I am in a small minority I think in that I have very specific pet peeves about underperformers in my groups; if someone is new or has bad equipment or simply isn't optimally set up I really don't mind it.  In fact I regularly whisper them to offer assistance and usually people are really happy to get suggestions when phrased nicely.  One thing that drives me nuts though is people who simply don't try.  I don't mind if you are unable to contribute for whatever reason but unwilling I just can't stand.

Graypoupon then tells the group that she has not trained her weapon skills at all and thus can't hit anything.  While this is an excuse in that there is no way for her to do better given her circumstance it is still terrible because she could have easily gone out and trained up herself instead of expecting all of us to kill everything for her while she trained.  That expectation of being carried along by others really irked me and I ended up in arguing with the other group members about my original statement as they felt I was being too hard on a newbie - they refused to understand that being new is ok, being a freeloader is not.

After the run Graypoupon made a character on my realm, logged on and said:

I hope you aren't such a @$#% to your guild as you were to me.  No surprise coming from an uptight, over-geared, fine young man as yourself.  (She didn't actually say '@$#%' though)

Then she logged off before I could reply.

Rage, anger, VENGEANCE.

I made a new character on her realm and sent her a series of messages outlining my thoughts on the matter in rather terse yet professional language.  I made much of the fact that I spend so much of my time assisting others in playing and how showing up to a group event totally unable to help was exceedingly poor form.  She was AFK at the time though, and didn't respond.  I hopped back to my realm and continued going about my business.  5 minutes later I see a message pop up from her on my screen and I mentally prepare for an outpouring of venom but instead:

Well I can't say anything to combat that, sorry for what I said.


A person, on the internet.  Getting mad at something, and then apologizing for overreacting when they were shown to be in the wrong?  Unbelievable.  Showing up to a dungeon run unable to fight is poor, and calling me out when I protest isn't great.  However, the ability to admit being wrong to a random person on the internet who has seriously insulted you is a rare thing.  It makes me feel really good about the whole situation, which is I suppose a good argument for saying "I am wrong" now and then - maybe I should look into doing that sometime.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What makes a Green?

In my recent reading on environmental issues I have encountered an awful lot of crazy rhetoric.  One very large component of the rhetoric consists of categorizing one's opponents into specific groups with the obvious intention of making their views seem less legitimate.  One of the groups with the most confusing and variable definition sets is Greens.  What exactly makes someone part of the Green group and what characteristics does that group have?

I thought about this and considered for myself what a person would have to do for me to lump them into the Green group so I could get some sort of sense of it.  I came up with an idea to differentiate a Green - a priority on environmental issues above that which an economist would strictly measure.  For example, if an economist told us that the total economic costs of an environmental mess would be 100 M dollars and we could prevent it for 110 M dollars there is an argument to be made that we have made a bad bargain.  I don't personally buy that argument because I feel that there is value in leaving our environment as it is above and beyond the costs so I would count myself a Green.  I should note that the cost above *must* reflect the total cost of human suffering for the comparison to have any meaning, and yes, we can and do put a cost on human suffering.  If we actually thought it was priceless we would spend a lot more money as a society on safer roadways and a lot less on things like gigantic TV sets.

A good further question is do I count someone in the Green category if they claim to have the viewpoint outlined above but consistently act in a way that does not support it?  If someone says they care about the environment but owns several non hybrid vehicles and regularly takes long haul flights (one of which can be the pollution equivalent to a year of normal driving!) can they realistically be counted?  I think the most difficult part here is the problem of knowledge - if a person who thinks they are Green flies a lot but has no idea that this is such an incredibly environmentally unfriendly act do we excuse the behaviour?  It is easy for anyone who is in the position to take such flights to find out what exactly the best ways to reduce their personal contribution to emissions is and so clearly they have either not bothered (hardly an excuse) or they simply decide to go ahead anyhow.

Of course the boundaries of the Green moniker on internet forums are not remotely so clear.  Greens are evil since they hate business, Greens are the people actually working to save the planet against the evil megacorporations, Greens are against anyone who questions their dogma of environmental collapse, Greens are open to the scientific data that suggests a problem before business is willing to admit that they *must* change.  None of these ideas is particularly correct, and yet there are surely people who count themselves as Greens who fill each of these molds.

Slinging labels around is not a new thing.  It has always been effective practice to label your opponents as being part of a group that is known or suspected to be doing terrible things even if the label is inaccurate.  Enabling listeners to quickly put a person or idea in an unattractive box is a good first step to getting them to dismiss that person or idea out of hand.  Whether your label is conservative, liberal, Green, denier, skeptic or sell-out a preconceived set of characteristics is lumped in and the exchange and debate of ideas is weakened.  A terrible state of affairs, but nothing new, and not likely to end.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A firehose to heaven

This is another installment in my Climate Change bit, but it is on an entirely different topic.  Specifically I want to talk about some of the things I have seen suggested as ways to cope with global warming rather than ways to prevent it or arguments about its existence.  I wandered into HMV yesterday and saw SuperFreakonomics on the shelf and decided to check the table of contents.  Lo and behold they had a section on climate change which obviously I decided to read.  Their coverage of a bunch of points in the debate was reasonable if slanted to the skeptical side but the really interesting part was the ideas that were talked about to cool the Earth back down.

1.  Firehose to Heaven.

The idea here is to use lessons from the Mount Pinatubo explosion to cool the Earth.  Most volcanoes have a minimal impact on cooling because the sulphur dioxide they spew out does not go very high in the atmosphere and falls back to the ground fairly quickly.  Mount Pinatubo and other massive volcanic events blast the sulphur dioxide much much higher where it is caught by high altitude winds and spread around the globe, lowering temperature.  This effect substantially lowered world temperature by 1C or so for the year after Pinatubo blew up.  The idea behind the firehose is to have a hose supported by balloons that pumps sulphur dioxide 18 kilometers up into the air and releases it there.  The plan they outlined suggested that 2-5 stations could be set up at an estimated cost of $150 million upfront and $100 million yearly that would be able to lower world temperature by several degrees, enough to offset all of the expected warming in the next 100 years.

2.  A good use for pollution.

This proposal was basically the same idea as the first but was done to placate people who don't like the idea of pouring things into the atmosphere.  It is simply setting up a similar skyhose on the outputs of factories and industries that already produce pollution and release it in the stratosphere instead of normal smokestack height.  The cost was at least an order of magnitude larger but avoided putting any extra pollution into the air.

3.  Boats!

Lastly they talked about setting up a fleet of boats to zoom around the oceans deliberately kicking up spray high into the air.  The idea here is that the oceans have much less cloud than the land but that we could drastically increase cloud cover over the oceans with this technique which would cut out sunlight received by the ground and water and lower world temperature.  I also saw this technique online when it was talked about by Bjorn Lomborg.  This technique was expected to be drastically more expensive than the first one but to be a lot more palatable to the public since kicking up ocean spray is less likely to be seen as negative than pumping sulphur dioxide into the high atmosphere.

I don't claim to have any idea as to how feasible these methods really are but it is encouraging to see that people are coming up with lots of interesting ways that we could reduce the temperature of the Earth if we really needed to.  I do find it very interesting that increasing the CO2 in our atmosphere seems like it could be a very good thing if it didn't happen to heat the place up.  The estimations I have seen suggest that a doubling of the CO2 concentration in the atmosphere would increase plant growth by 70%, which would certainly be a way to help feed our ever expanding population and shows that fossil fuel consumption does at least have some side benefits for our ecosystem.  It isn't by any means a good enough reason to starting burning more but it may end up being a consolation prize if we simply aren't able/willing to get emissions down and CO2 continues to accumulate at ever increasing rates.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Placing Bets

I made a post last Wednesday about climate change and got an incredible responses.  My post can be quickly summarized by "I am skeptical about CO2 forced global warming, but I still support dramatic action to cut emissions."  There is a lot of information in the comments and of course the internet is completely chock full of debate, so much so that I don't know that I can even reasonably read a single site dedicated to it.  I did spend a bunch of time since then perusing the internet to try to sift out the information there and the combination of what I read and the comments that were posted did change my mind.  I think I was wrong about the scientific understanding of CO2 effects and was under some false impressions about some of the arguments against AGW (Anthropogenic Global Warming).

I had a conversation with The Philosopher about the subject and he proposed a very good way for me to talk about the subject more clarity.  Specifically, he wanted to know how I would bet on the subject of AGW.  This is a tricky issue because there are many different facts to bet on but I decided to try to break it down a bit to express what I think at the moment.  Firstly I decided to limit my bets to giving a percentage from the list of 0, 10, 30, 50, 70, 90, 100.  Assigning precise percentages to beliefs seems like a stretch so I will just use these ones, and keep in mind that 100 means I would bet all of my possessions against a single shiny penny on the certainty of truth - that isn't something I do lightly.

So, here is a list of things and my current bets on them being True:

CO2 in sufficient quantities increases world temperature:  90
CO2 produced by people significantly increases world CO2 levels:  90
CO2 is responsible for a some of the temp increases over the last 100 years:  90
Human produced CO2 is the *primary* factor behind the temp increases over the last 100 years:  70
Current scientific models of climate can give us reasonable predictions of future temp trends:  50
Scientific models of climate have been reliable and robust through the 20th century:  10
The confidence and robustness of scientific climate models are often overstated or misrepresented:  70
It is warranted and important that we cut back on fossil fuel use and emissions:  90

The Pigeonhole Principle is true:  100
I am better at Barbu than Randrew:  100
The Sun will rise tomorrow:  100
I am invincible:  0
The internet is a convenient place to find the simple truth on complex topics:  0
People are all excellent, especially those that post in forums on the internet:  0

I ordered a bunch of books from the library to try to learn more.  Specifically I wanted to read a book saying AGW is bunk, one saying it is true, and one that talks about the topic but isn't clearly for or against.  I also thought that I should reread The Skeptical Environmentalist.  I read this book a few years ago and fell in love with it because it so much matched my views that things simply aren't as bad as they are often made out to be and that there are better solutions that the ones we often pursue.  I want to find out if I reread it with a more critical eye if I will find that I still agree with what it says - I have poked around online and found points for and against it.

I did find something very interesting by the author of The Skeptical Environmentalist and Cool It - Bjorn Lomborg.  It is an interview with .... Fox.  Basically Bjorn presents the idea that AGW is flat out happening but that we have much better places to spend our dollars to help others than changing our carbon habits.  I am not going to claim that what he says is true, but I am going to say that I absolutely love the position of openly agreeing that AGW is a problem and then asking how best to spend our collective money to improve the happiness and health of all of humanity.  It is worth a view, even though the glee with which the interviewer puts down Al Gore and the whole AGW lobby injects a really sour note.  If you were unimpressed with Fox News before, Fox Business isn't going to change your mind.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Sore Toe

The first casualty of barefooting occurred last night.  I was crossing a street, caught my toe on the corner of a slightly raised chunk of asphalt and ripped it open pretty seriously.  Unfortunately I was getting off the bus at the location of a picnic I was going to and was planning to meet someone there so I wasn't able to just zip home quickly and deal with the problem.

Elli was busy telling me that I needed to get a bandaid... which I sure did as it was quite a bloody mess.  I ended up going to emergency (hooray for Canada!) to make sure I didn't need stitches or anything else more serious but the doctor informed me that I just need to keep it clean and dry.  Surprisingly given the nasty appearance it isn't especially painful.

There are many people who would decide that this event was a sufficient reason to stop going barefoot and start wearing shoes like a normal person.  I am not those people.  There is a little bit of "Bah, I am tough, this is barely a scratch!" going on, but mostly it is me deciding that I rolled an unlucky number in the lottery of barefooting and that I should not allow anecdotal experience to dictate my choices.

I am just a little bit amused by this timing.  For the past few days I had been thinking that my barefooting project was going to be a bit of a failure blog-wise since nothing was happening.  No one bothered me about it, it got a few quizzical looks and my feet and the rest of me felt good for doing it.  Hardly newsworthy.  Then I go and smash myself up and suddenly I have something to say again.  Perhaps my feet were just itching for some more time in the limelight and getting beat up was the only way to do it.  Anyone else out there have limbs that are just desperate to be the centre of attention?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Pundits on both sides

I often end up playing devil's advocate when talk turns to politics.  The usual reason is that the people I hang out with tend to be relatively left leaning politically but they sometimes end up supporting people and ideas that conform to their ideology without being critical of the specifics.  I lean pretty strongly to the left myself on most political topics but I end up being frustrated by people's unwillingness to seek truth over success and I end up arguing against people who in theory are on my side.

I think the most obvious example is Fox News vs. Michael Moore.  Fox presents an outrageously warped view of the news slanted to the right.  It supports strong military, 'family values', punishment based criminal strategies and unrestricted free market capitalism among other right wing values.  I don't like the values Fox News tries to support by and large, which isn't surprising since I find the right in the US to be not at all consistent with my views.  Sometimes people end up being really angry at the things that right wing pundits like Fox News or Anne Coulter say and go on rants about how bad the right is and how they wreck everything.  This is often accompanied by the assertion that on the left people don't do this sort of thing and bemoaning the lack of morals of those on the right.


While I don't agree with Fox News' interpretation of events I don't agree with Michael Moore's either, and I think that he presents just as ridiculous and warped a viewpoint.  The big difference is that Michael Moore holds many viewpoints in common with me as we are 'on the same team'.  That doesn't change the fact that his tactics are no less outrageous and his arguments no less reasoned that pundits on the other side of the fence - watch his videos carefully looking for emotional exhortation in lieu of fact reporting and you will see what I mean.

I regularly end up defending Fox News not on the basis that they are right, but rather on the basis that they aren't actually any worse morally than pundits on the other side.  It is all too easy to ascribe people disagreeing with you to a lack of morals instead of admitting that the issues are complicated and people genuinely do have different goals and beliefs.  When summarizing a vast landscape of organizations, people and ideas it is very common to use broad moral statements to describe them but this is one of the surest signs of falsehood.  Summaries of political ideologies that include "is extremely complicated and intricate" and "it is difficult to be certain that" tend to win my support while "everyone who believes X does Y" statements can pretty much invalidate an idea on their own.

It is important to discuss issues and to expose agitators and charlatans with political agendas for what they are.  Noticing that a particular source of information is incredibly biased to the point of being useless is good but we must be careful not to paint everyone on a side with the same brush.  Just because someone agrees with many of your political views does not mean they are somehow more moral, nor does disagreeing with you imply immorality.  While it does require more effort it is critical to the establishment and maintenance of dialogue and compromise that we consider those who disagree with us mistaken rather than evil - until they have earned that moniker with individual actions, of course.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Is it getting hot in here?

A few years ago I was pretty convinced that the basic line on global warming was absolutely true.  I really saw no reason to doubt that CO2 emissions were heating up the Earth and that failure to prevent this disaster might doom us all.  I no longer believe that.  There are a number of reasons for my change of mind, but let me lay out a few things first.

-The temperature records of the Earth over the last century show a substantial increase in average temperature.  No one of any credibility denies this.
-The Earth has been drastically hotter and colder than it is now many times over its history.
-There is a substantial correlation between CO2 levels and average world temperature over a huge timeframe in the past that is well supported by scientific evidence.
-The vast majority of the models used by scientists to model Earth weather patterns assume that increases in atmospheric CO2 will increase the temperature of the Earth.

None of this proves that CO2 is actually increasing the Earth's temperature.  The ice core evidence showing correlation *does not* imply causation, and in fact it may well show causality the other way.  This is supported by the accepted fact that an increase in temperature will cause an increase in CO2 levels due to CO2 coming out of the oceans.

Another intriguing fact is that there are many times that temperature spikes up or down with no relationship to CO2.  As an example, during the period from WW2 to the 1970s the temperature of the Earth dropped despite this period being one where CO2 levels rose drastically.  This is only one of many similar issues, as most climate models also have absolutely no explanation for why if CO2 causes high temperatures and high temperatures cause CO2 why the Earth has had such a fluctuating temperature instead of a steady, inexorable increase due to a the feedback loop described above.

I started doing a little looking into this after seeing a video on the internet called The Great Global Warming Swindle a few years back.  This video was really interesting because it combined a lot of political mumbo jumbo and somewhat sketchy science with some really hard questions that I was unable to find good answers to.  I spent some time looking at the firestorm of debate that followed the video and came to the conclusions that the video itself should not be taken at all as an example of good science and that many people on both sides of the debate are pundits with no credibility.  However, it did seem to me that CO2 deniers often made points that simply could not be addressed by their opposition.

People that claim that the Earth is not going through a noticeable warming period are either delusional, badly misinformed or straight up lying.  However, from all the data I could locate the evidence that CO2 actually does what most models say it does seems sketchy at best.  Our models cannot explain most of the Earth's climactic history so the idea that we are able to make accurate predictions about the future is pretty laughable - in science it is well known that it is usually easy to make a model that fits known facts but the real test is making a model that makes accurate future predictions.  If your model can't even manage the practice round how can you rely on it for the real test?

None of this changes my stance on emissions though.  I am very much for reduced emissions whether that be by carbon trading, tightened standards for vehicles, changes to renewable resources or other options to reduce our use of fossil fuels.  However, I heartily dislike scientific models that simply aren't nearly as good as they are proclaimed to be being used as a giant stick to enforce political change.  Using sketchy science and scare tactics to get changes you want may work once but it undermines the faith people have in scientists and the scientific method.  Losing that credibility means that next time you need to convince people to change you will have a much harder time doing so.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Lowered expectations

It looks like I will need to lower my expectations for my board game FMB.  The current setup I am using at home for my copy looks like the picture here:

The pieces that currently are matchsticks, beads and plasticine were intended to be replaced with models of fantasy monsters and people.  I wanted mounted horsemen, wizards, swordsmen and ogres.  Unfortunately it seems that this is simply out of reach for production and isn't even especially reasonable for my personal copy.  The cheapest figurines I have been able to locate that are simply plastic and paint go for $1.50 - $10.00 each so unless I am willing to shell out quite a lot of cash for a full collection I would be stuck buying whichever pieces happened to be cheap even if they don't work well as game pieces.

I had this wonderful plan of a battleground with all the fantasy archetypes represented but the dream has been dashed on the rocks of reality.  It is something I expect nearly everyone has to deal with when they try to create something with a lot of flexibility in scope - you have to know when to pare back your expectations due to cost. Certainly many an entrepreneur has been sunk by the refusal to compromise and I hope to not be that individual. I absolutely demand that a game I make be as perfect in mechanics as is possible but the appearance is something I can be flexible on.  I know that I have spent many enjoyable hours playing minesweeper, freecell, bridge, poker and old computer games so it is clear that games don't require that sort of beauty to be successful though I am sure it doesn't hurt.

My current updated plan is to use flat pieces of cardboard to represent units.  The idea is to have a picture of the creature in question and 2 numbers in the corners to show its statistics and place the cardboard unit in a frame of sorts to show which team it is on and hold it upright.  I made two little prototypes but you need to imagine that the plasticine is a hard plastic frame and that the cow and bread pictures are an ogre and a wizard.

This setup should have the nice combination of fairly cheap to produce and still allows me to use 'tap' mechanics for the units as well as easily display their stats.  It is a bit sad that my original idea needs to go by the wayside but I must content myself with the beauty of mathematics and not the beauty of artwork.

I have been having a tremendous time inventing new concepts for Artifacts within the game.  I end up approaching new creations in one of two ways:  Either I create a name and then try to figure out what sort of effect could work with that name or I do the reverse and come up with the effect first.  For example, I thought of an Artifact that would just kill a unit as soon as it is hit and decided that it should be associated with a traditional symbol of death - and Scythe of Doom was born.  The other way around occurred with Sack of Wonders - it seems like an amusing idea for a magic item; you reach into the sack and see what you get!  So now the Sack of Wonders makes you generate a random number and awards you things based on which number you got.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Half a year

Brightcape is 6 months old.  Actually, it was 6 months old on June 1st but I missed the date.  This is par for the course for me since managing to remember special days of the year is something I am wretched at; largely because I really don't care about them.  You can all feel free to imagine a graphic of a birthday cake with a half candle on it, even to the point that the flame is cut neatly in half.  I am also starting up a new post type:  Economics.  I intend to make this more of a focus of the blog over the next while.

Wendy got a new book for me from the library recently:  Priceless:  The Myth of Fair Value (and How to Take Advantage of It)

The idea behind the book is that people really have no idea what prices should be for most things and the ways that we make decisions regarding price and money are really not good for maximizing our return.  If you have interest in the topic of how people make decisions and how they view value and cost this is a great book to read.

The author gives many great examples of people making really terrible decisions regarding prices and shows how easy it is to manipulate people into making bad economic choices.  One of the biggest issues he talks about is anchors.  For example, if you ask people how many doctors are listed in the phone book they will give a variety of answers but the average and median of those answers will be quite predictable.  However, if you ask them to think of a completely arbitrary number prior to giving their answer that number (the anchor) will have a drastic effect on their replies.  Even asking "Is the number of Doctors in the phone book greater than 1 million?" prior to asking "What is the number of Doctors listed in the phone book?" raises the guesses about the number of doctors by massive percentages, 50% to 100% is normal.  The number 1 million being in people's minds (despite the fact that *no one* thinks there are 1 million Doctors listed) completely changes their answers to an entirely different question.

I find the ideas presented here extremely intriguing particularly in light of my past jobs in sales.  People who walk in the door of a store usually want the prices to be fixed and have the idea that objects are worth certain amounts of money.  The salespeople who regularly sell an item for $500 and then 20 minutes later for $1100 have a very different viewpoint - items have a base material cost you cannot go below, but 'fair market value' is an utterly ridiculous idea.

I am often a little puzzled about how I should feel about my time in sales ethically.  I was very proud to not be a sleazy salesman but nearly every salesperson says and thinks the same.  My distinction was that I was willing to be very flexible on truth regarding price but I would be honest about product and service.  I am sure that many of the things I did would horrify people who don't really grasp the idea that prices are a collective hallucination of ours and fair value isn't real but I do think that once those ideas are fully grasped my sales antics would be considered fairly ethical.  My mindset was elitist, but accurate:  I know better than the customers how this industry works.  Even if they got exactly what they think they want (which they can't) it wouldn't be what is best for them.  What is best for them is something I can deliver but only if I am dishonest about price.  Therefore I must be dishonest about price to achieve the greatest good for the customer, not to mention for myself.

Murky waters indeed.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Random bosses

I have seen a number of people in the MMO blogosphere posting lately about random bosses.  The general gist of the posts is that the current model of boss fights is poor and that a new model incorporating random abilities instead of static abilities would be better.  The basic premise is that a boss that has the same abilities each time you fight requires a very specific set of moves to defeat and once you master those moves the fight becomes dull and uninteresting.  The players advocating this position usually think that once you know the 'dance steps' to a particular fight there is no more fun in doing it.

The model they often suggest is one where you zone into a dungeon and meet a totally random boss.  This boss would have a number of abilities chosen from a large possible list - 5 abilities from a list of 50 or so.  The idea here is that you fight this boss, get some loot and then go on to the next boss who also has 5 completely random abilities.  The theory goes that this would continue to be fresh since each fight is different and you can never feel like you have all the moves down.  Week after week you would see new things and new combinations of powers from the random bosses that populate the dungeon.

I think this theory is dead wrong.  There are a number of reasons for it but one of the big ones is the unnecessary demonization of practice.  Doing something over and over again until you become good at it is the core of learning.  It is how we learn to read, how doctors learn to heal people, how plumbers learn to fix drains and how video game players learn to beat dragons.  One of the great joys of life is to do something challenging that you are extremely good at - the feeling you get from doing so is called flow.  Practice to become excellent at something is not 'brute force' nor is it timewasting, it is simply the way in which we learn and seeing the results of those exertions is enjoyable.

Another big issue with random abilities is tuning.  With random abilities sometimes particular combinations are going to be dead easy to deal with or completely impossible.  Because it is often difficult to tell right off the bat if an ability set is impossible or merely really rough people would be extremely discouraged at the prospect of wiping - there is no reason to think the fight is beatable at all!  Of course the extremely easy combinations would simply lead to people getting loot easily, and those two things together would mean that everyone would be best off refusing to fight any tricky combo and just spawning bosses as often as possible to try to get one that is trivial.

The last major issue I have with this theory is the fun of the fight.  You cannot have an awful lot of really interesting mechanics in a random list.  Bosses have to do extremely simple things that are totally unlinked from other abilities so players must react in very obvious ways.  Every add must be tanked and killed, every splat on the ground must be moved out of and every debuff must be promptly removed.  You cannot have abilities that don't work that way because it would take forever for people to figure out what things actually do which means every boss has a very limited number of things that can be done and some incredible boss mechanics simply could not exist.  Another fun consideration is lore.  These random bosses are not referred to by NPCs or talked about in quests, they are just 'HUGE POWERFUL DUDE WITH GOOD STUFF' that is there for no reason.  Lore is a minor part of WOW for me but completely ditching it would be a real detriment to the fun for many people.

I do think there are some ways Blizzard could introduce random abilities.  Some bosses could have several abilities to choose from (think Chromaggus) but make them all thematically similar and have all of them work well in the context of the fight.  Even an Arena type setting where you have one random monster to fight each week and he does random stuff would be all right as long as it is a sideshow to the real zones.  Changing the base model of fights to include random bosses/abilities is a giant mess, but sneaking a little of it into the game here and there could be a nice change of pace.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Bible wrapup

I finished my Bible project but never really gave a overall impression of it since all my posts were broken up and specific to little sections.  I am going to remedy that today and give you 'The Bible in brief'.  This will presumably be the last post about my Bible reading directly, though of course my interest in religion in general remains unabated.

The Bible is not about the sort of God most Christians (and other religions that take the Bible or part of it as a base for their beliefs) think it is.  The God of the Bible has the following characteristics a lot of people wish to ignore or deny:

-God and the Bible are incredibly racist in favour of Jews.  Other cultures and groups are simply unimportant.
-God is random.  Punishments are meted out with no rhyme or reason and are not remotely proportional to the crimes committed.
-God and the Bible are frankly and unapologetically sexist.  Women are unimportant, owned by men and expected to obey.  They are defined by how many male children they can produce.
-God is concerned first and foremost with loyalty to him personally.  Following other laws is good, but worshiping other deities is by far the most heinous crime.
-God is extremely concerned with and impressed by human authority structures.  Men in positions of power are exempt from the rules and are treated as massively more important than humans without power.
-God and the Bible are supportive of slavery and ownership of people.

There are many, many interesting tales in the Bible, but they aren't the ones being told.  The tale of Noah and the Ark as told by religious figures very often ignores the fact that God decided to kill everything on the Earth.  He didn't save Noah from the big flood, he killed every single person on Earth except Noah and 7 relatives, not to mention virtually all other creatures.  Even the stories that seem all nice like Daniel and the lions turns out to be a hideous perversion of morality when you actually read the original.

The Bible is incredibly contradictory.  God is portrayed many different ways by the different authors and there is no clear vision or agreed upon way in which he acts.  He is the Creator of All, the God of the Jews, The Angry, Powerful man in the sky and the source of all Good and Evil depending on what part of the Bible you are reading.  The laws and ideas contained therein are usually contradicted by something else in the Bible and those that aren't often are unclear or wrong.  There is truth to be found therein but since the only way to figure out what is truth and what is wrong is to know it before you open the book that isn't particularly helpful.

The New Testament is purported to be a nicer, gentler set of guidelines to follow but does not live up to its star billing.  The God of the New Testament is still jealous, random, racist, sexist, violent and amoral.  It is perhaps less of those things than the Old Testament but to hold it up as a shining light for humanity is to ignore the actual contents.

The Bible is undoubtedly interesting.  It contains the tales and legends of a people and the ideas that helped to form their beliefs, culture and laws.  I found it to be sometimes a fascinating read and often to be deadly boring but the ideas contained therein certainly are worth preserving as an insight into the mindset of people who lived long ago.  Having read the entire thing cover to cover though I can say with some authority that the Bible is not the place to turn for anything but historical or cultural curiosity.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Barefoot Prodigy

Tonight Elli and I went for a walk in the rain.  Because it was a nice summer evening I let her go in bare feet and we wandered around the streets of Toronto together, each with an umbrella, playing in the puddles and wandering aimlessly.  We followed rivers of water around and tried to block them off with our feet to make dams.  I wonder if the people watching us had a greater or lesser reaction to the barefoot duo in the rain as opposed to a sunny day.  At least Elli has settled in to the idea that Daddy can walk barefoot when it is sunny out but she cannot.  She insisted on trying it a few times but she can't take the heat of the sidewalk at all and now has decided that only people with huge feet can walk barefoot when the sun is out.

I found it amusing that the only effective way to clean my feet after weeks of barefoot is walking around in the rain barefoot.  Even after throughly scrubbing my feet in the shower I maintain a very brown/grey colour on the surfaces that touch the ground and that vanished when I walked around in the rain.  I don't know if it was the extended timeframe of soaking, abrasion + water or something else entirely but for the first time in weeks my feet are pink again instead of dirty coloured.

I tried going into a variety of different stores this week operating under the assumption that people would accost me and ask me to put on shoes, or leave, or some other such unfortunate reaction.  No such confrontation occurred.  All my consternation, planning and posting was for naught as apparently random passerby care enough about bare feet to stare and random old ladies care enough to hassle me but store owners simply aren't concerned.  It does make sense for them though since hassling a customer who has every intention of buying and isn't causing any trouble is something you want to avoid at all costs but it does make my life less interesting than I had anticipated.  I figured I would have some people to roast here on the blog for their foolishness but no one seems to want to volunteer.

Wendy also pointed out to me a type of shoe I could buy to mimic walking barefoot all the time.  Link Here.  It is good to know, but since this project is at least in part to investigate the reactions of people to barefooting and not just the experience I think I will pass for the moment.  I was considering getting myself some moccasins for the winter though to see what the closest thing to winter barefooting is like.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Old Man Shaking Fist at Teenagers

On Saturday night I decided to go to bed a little bit early since Elli had kept me up a part of the night before.  Before going to bed though I had to run to the grocery store to get ingredients for pancakes for Sunday morning.  At 10:17 Saturday night I wandered out of my house to go to the store and found the streets quite packed with teenagers.  Flashy clubbing shirts, extremely tiny tops and miniskirts were the order of the day and everyone was giddy with excitement.  My first reaction was

Damn teenagers, get out of my way.  I just want peaceful, quiet streets and here you are all up and about at this late hour.  Go to bed!

Then I thought for a moment.  I recalled what 10:17 would have looked like when I was 18-22 and the idea that I would be off to bed at that point is completely outrageous - unless I had neglected to sleep at all on Friday night.  I would be getting ready for a round of Barbu, an invasion of the castle of the frost giants or a Chaos Sanctuary pallyzon farming session.

Certainly the activities that I would have been involved in on Saturday night would not appeal to most of the young people out there that evening.  They (massive overgeneralization incoming) like getting drunk, dressing up fancy/slutty and going out on the town and aren't so much interested in doubling the world, rolling a 1 to attack and benching the green d20 or just one more rare gothic bow to sell for SOJs.  I never have fit in with the clubbing/bar scene and never will, so it isn't like I am made irritable by people I once would have found compelling.

However, it is interesting how much my perception of time has changed.  When you have a mate, child and responsibilities time is a thing you never have enough of while sex and companionship are not hard to come by.  These things are not true for most of the young people hitting the bars and clubs near my home though as they have more time, less responsibility and going out and meeting someone is a thrill instead of a chore.  I feel like I should get a porch and a rocker and shake my fist at young people as they go by.  Perhaps I could thrill them with stories about how hard my commute to school was or how morals in their generation have gone by the wayside.

I tried to get a picture of a young woman in a fancy/slutty outfit to put nearer the top of the post, but it turns out any Google search I tried had plenty of hits but the pictures weren't precisely what I was looking for....