Posted on September 5, 2012 at 6:14 pm in

For a long time now I’ve been developing a fictional setting in my head. The earlier permutations were posted as webcomics, and I’ve since gone back on those plot ideas. The basics of this setting are that the Fair Folk are real, and they have developed FTL travel. The Sol system where we live was previously the territory of the Summer Empire. Due to mysterious political shenanigans, Earth was largely abandoned by them for the past few centuries. The Winter Empire gains the system by military force, and discover that we (humans) are messing the place up. They put an end to it.

The topic at hand right now is whether the Fair Folk can communicate telepathically. This isn’t part of folklore, but I want to consider it and the consequences it would have.

First, the limitations of speech, for comparison:

  1. Physical barriers inhibit communication
  2. The data rate is slow
  3. The bandwidth is one channel (interestingly, this channel is also occupied by written language)
  4. Attempting to use more than one channel can prevent using any one of them
  5. Small range
  6. The transmission of ideas is lossy
  7. Transmission is not selective

One possibility is that telepathy is like speaking to a radio built into your head. In this case, limitations 1 and 5 are eliminated. A spoken language is still necessary. It could possibly improve on limitation 2 as well, if encoding to speech can be done faster than actual speech.

But telepathy isn’t made of sound waves. A more auspicious, and perhaps likely, message format of telepathic messages is not speech but something that better approximates a thought. A species with this ability would have little need for a spoken language, but given the restrictions below they might need it anyway. A written language would still be useful, and developing its nature would be interesting. This could solve most of the above limitations, even increasing bandwidth. So, suppose that I do give the faeries this power. The transmissions are not like radio waves, and are not directional, that is they cannot find the source unless it provides its location in a message. They can identify “voices” and determine the identity of the sender though. The loss of transmission power is not dependent on distance or any function of ordinary spacetime, and random blackouts are possible. However, in order to send a signal, a faerie has to detect the recipient with other senses, which have limited range. External equipment is able to enhance and intercept signals, and aid detection, these are not innate abilities. Faeries traditionally wear jewelry which is enchanted to allow them to “sense” their comrades at any distance. They have control over who receives their messages, although anything more specific than one individual requires multiple transmissions without equipment. Faeries cannot fabricate thoughts, they have to actually think them and decide to send them. This makes telling lies telepathically difficult.

However, if the Fair Folk have no spoken language, then there would be a serious communication problem with us mortals. So I must consider how compatible this telepathy is with mortal creatures. One possibility is that it is not at all compatible, because we have no receiver. That’s not much fun though. Since humans and faeries both have brains with somewhat similar features, it may be possible for things to get across. Depends on the mechanism. But humans aren’t known for telepathic powers. I’m thinking that Faeries would need cranial infrastructure to decode proto-thoughts and determine the sender, and humans don’t have this. So when a faerie tries to talk to a human, a proto-thought simply pops into their head. At best, it is indistinguishable from their own thoughts, which has disturbing implications. Most likely, the slight incompatibilities lose some of the information. People with more logical minds tend to be able to detect the intrusive thoughts better. Powerful transmissions may cause epileptic seizures, nausea, and hemorraging. For communication in the other direction, obviously faeries would not have the faculties to process speech, but perhaps they have some limited mind-reading which lets them understand the intent of your speech. These communication methods are not limited to humans, which would in a sense give faeries the ability to “talk to animals” although this ability is heavily dependent on the similarity of their brains to a faeries. Large mammals, especially humans, are most compatible.

Another thing to consider is when a faerie is flooded with transmissions, it is annoying? And if they can shut off communications consciously, do they do it during sleep as well? Would they be able to tell that the recipient is blocking them, as opposed to quiet? How would faeries wake others from sleep in an emergency, besides shaking them? I guess they could consciously control a variable-strength barrier which is maintained at a constant value during sleep. If faeries sleep at all, which they probably do. Unless I find some ingenious explanation for the anomaly that is sleep.

Of course there are problems with the consequences of the above method. Being able to mind-rape lesser creatures on a whim is over-powered, so there is a low limit on transmission power, and only powerful mages able able to do it without melting their brain. Powerful mages’ bodies are in general capable of greater magic throughput than other faeries. There are storytelling issues too, I may have to approximate telepathic messages as speech. In a graphic novel format they could instead have speech bubbles with pictograms. However I’ll probably give them a version that is limited enough to justify the development of spoken language.

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Posted on April 19, 2011 at 5:01 am in

So, the college I’m at had the Pro-life people pay a visit, and that apparently started a protest. So this made me think about the issue. Now, since I am neither female nor pregnant, I would like to make it clear that I am not telling anyone who is whether or not to have an abortion.

However, how is abortion not murder? This seems to be an unavoidable issue. More specifically, when does the fetus become “human” rather than a lump of flesh? Arguably, it had human DNA since the chromosomes combined in conception, and this DNA is what separates a human lump of flesh from other lumps of flesh. But that would mean a skin tissue culture is a human, which is weird, IMO.

No, it seems we must pick a point from conception to birth where the fetus becomes a human. But fetus development is pretty much continuous, except conception and birth. This relates to the “heap paradox.” If the baby is human at birth, was human just before? There isnt much difference, so yes. How about 5 seconds before that? Same story. If you continue this logic, it was human before the zygotes met. So when you kill someone, do you also kill the hundreds of potential people that they could have made? That seems weird.

There is something in the interval which can be discreetly identified, since a baby is not a uniform heap, we can look at the development of certain organs. I think the one to look at is the brain, the center of conscious. My opinion is that the fetus is human when the brain is Turing-complete, and therefore capable of the computations required by conscious thought. While difficult, this could be pinpointed to within a much smaller time frame.

But I am pro-choice. A few reasons. First, some women have some pretty good reasons to want an abortion. Second, the world is overpopulated, and we should stop reproducing. Because of this, I would actually encourage, but not mandate, that everyone not have kids, or cancel their kid-producing process. Excluding these, killing a fetus because it is “inconvenient” seems rather callous.

Disclaimer: This article is a matter of opinion. I realize that you could agree with the statements I rejected as “weird.”

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2011 Robotics season

Posted on March 30, 2011 at 10:55 pm in

In posts for previous years, I have done a bunch of complaining. But I’d like to emphasize the good. Frankly, I’m amazed the team still exists. We managed to get sponsorship somehow, that was good. I have learned a lot about engineering, and it’s been fun despite being frequently harrowing during build season.

To be mature, the problems at foot are my fault. The team members needed more training in order to provide assistance, and I realized that I hadn’t prioritized teaching, only to learn and build. And so I ended up doing a lot of it, and most team members little. I was afraid, I think, that they would ignore me. I have given small lessons in the past, and the students were inattentive. Also, it’s hard to give lessons and pep talks when only half the members are present at any time. I was too lazy to repeat myself. I hoped there would be more students with internal motiviation who would, like me, figure things out autonomously. This seems to be the case on other teams, so our team needs to work on attracting those kinds of people.

Actually, my dad ended up doing a lot of building and me the designing. You see, I figured out how to use Autodesk Inventor this time. It really is an amazing piece of software, albeit cranky with some of my constraints.

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Posted on November 4, 2010 at 11:47 pm in

I’m making this program. And it will do cool stuff. With math.

I’ve actully restarted this. The original used Qt 4.6 and MAPM, this one uses Qt 4.7 and CLN. Likely to include SymbolicC++.

Planned features, in rough order of precedence:

  • Elementary functions on integer, rational, floats, complex numbers, and real numbers with uncertainty.
  • Vectors, polar & rectangular
  • Symbolic operations
  • A plotting tool I plan to create myself.
  • If possible, an invisible link to Maxima through a CLISP process for advanced symbolic operations.
  • 3D plotting
  • Possible use of CGAL to solve complex geometry problems.
  • CAD.

The picture shows off Rational nums and Integers. I’ve currently got the arithmetic operators and base-changes down. The stack uses RPN. The hard part was the framework; it uses a runtime list of operation objects with a list of names and a functor. There is also a document object so it will save your tabs and library items. The program prefences and help will be tabs. Preferences will be saved with the program-wide document, in the manner of Blender.

If you do not know how -1/F is a number value this program is not for you.

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New Commerce

Posted on August 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm in

Sorry for the long wait… I just <inserts usual excuses>. Actually I happen to be on vacation in Portland. I have been spending quite a bit of time recently trying to “learn CS5″ with limited success… I dislike e-books. I learned about flex because it came with CS5 (ouch). I have tried the learn flex in a week tutorial and the flex 4 bible and I’ve learned the most doing what I am now… winging it trying to made a random word generator for conlangs. Should have just gone back to my roots, i.e. poke around until it does what you want.

I started thinking about inventing a new “economic system.” Considering how complex existing economics seem to be, this is a monumental task. I have a copy of “naked economics” from Powell’s books which I have not yet read, hopefully this will provide insight. To invent said system I would first have to define the specifications and constraints.

One of them is “incorporating environmental value” into economics. I learned about this idea in environmental studies, and it sounds nice but what does it mean? In the past money was backed by gold, modern community scrip is sometimes backed by an hour of labor, the fiat system is backed by moonbeams and wishes. So does this mean money is backed by square feet of nature? There’s a lot of gray area in “environmental value,” too. Prices are based on a slue of different factors, and not necessarily their actual value to us.

I have to say that I’m not sure if I’ve got the definition right, but here’s the solution from communism: micromanage everything. In other words, mutually assured services on a large scale. MAS is a term I use for a tiny-community system where everyone has an agreement to provide one another with their services if the other provides theirs. A supply of goods, like food, is a service. But according to Charles Wheelan, the soviet union failed because micromanaging was too difficult on a large scale, and there was also corruption.

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Learning CS5

Posted on July 25, 2010 at 11:54 pm in

Sorry for the long wait… I just <inserts usual excuses>. Actually I happen to be on vacation in Portland. I have been spending quite a bit of time recently trying to “learn CS5″ with limited success… I do dislike reading long e-books. I learned about flex because it came with CS5 (ouch). I have tried the learn flex in a week tutorial and the flex 4 bible and I’ve learned the most doing what I am now… winging it trying to made a random word generator for conlangs. Should have just gone back to my roots, i.e. poke around until it does what you want.

There are three major things that have pissed me off thus far in my adventure to find instructional materials. First, a lot of online “tutorials” and “instructional videos” are actually just more advertising of the new features. Specifically, only those in CS5. These are not helpful at all. I don’t care about the complicated shiny new features as much the basic ones. I suppose it figures, since it is advertising after all. The other is quick-reference type books. They are like costly, full-color help files. Not very useful. And the next, the cost of computer books. I visited Powell’s technical books and found exactly what I expected: The books for the new version are too expensive, the older versions are a bit less expensive, and the books a few years old are dirt cheap. And it’s hard to know when a book is worth theĀ  money. I already know how to use some of the software a little bit, so any book written for peabrains is not going to cut it.

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Got CS5

Posted on June 7, 2010 at 9:13 am in

Hi folks, got my copy of CS5. We’ll see how useful it is in the end. Right now, I’m using Contribute to add this entry. It is very, very, strange to me. I had no idea what Contribute was for.

I’ve got some ideas, in particular for the video editing software. They made Flash all complicated since my last version! There’s like three different softwares to use. I learned about them, though, and it seems that Flash Builder might actually be the software of choice for game development, since it’s code oriented instead of animation. But then how do I import vector artwork… hm…

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Sustainable Economics

Posted on May 31, 2010 at 10:34 pm in

Ha, how can can I talk about sustainability when I don’t have sustainable blogging practices. Sorry, I’ve been rather tied up with school recently. What ends up happening is I totally slack off on the weekends to balance all the work it seems I’ve done.

I am concerned that I might well be repeating myself sometimes in these entries. It would be interesting for me to look back and see which if any ideas recur the most.


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Posted on May 12, 2010 at 5:50 pm in

Voluntary Human Extinction Movement – right on.

I’ve been browsing this website, and I watched the long, thought-provoking video at the bottom. One thing that caught my attention is when they say you’d have to be naive in order to take it seriously. I went, wait what? World’s problems are serious. The church of Euthanasia was in the video, and they were the ones saying this. It was clear as mud, but I came to realize that they probably meant the the movement is too extreme to be practical at actually achieving its goals, but is meant to provoke people into thought. Which makes me wonder if it wouldn’t drive people in the opposite direction?


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CS2 to CS5 trial

Posted on May 5, 2010 at 11:11 pm in

A long time ago before I used blogging tools I posted that I’d gotten a copy of Creative Suite 2. This software has served me well, but seeing as CS5 is out now it’s time to upgrade. Now, I haven’t actually bought it yet, but intend to. I have the trial.

So far, so good. No beta-ish bugs encountered yet. My only complaint with the software so far is aesthetic-all of the programs are quite indistinguishable since they use the same gray interface. Consistency is nice, but I wish they’d color the the window header or something. More…

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