Monthly Archives: June 2009

Contrary actions to the Twelve Virtues – Curiosity

Yudkowsky writes of the first virtue:

The first virtue is curiosity. A burning itch to know is higher than a solemn vow to pursue truth. To feel the burning itch of curiosity requires both that you be ignorant, and that you desire to relinquish your ignorance. If in your heart you believe you already know, or if in your heart you do not wish to know, then your questioning will be purposeless and your skills without direction. Curiosity seeks to annihilate itself; there is no curiosity that does not want an answer. The glory of glorious mystery is to be solved, after which it ceases to be mystery. Be wary of those who speak of being open-minded and modestly confess their ignorance. There is a time to confess your ignorance and a time to relinquish your ignorance.

It’s easy to pay homage to the virtue of the curious, without actually being curious yourself.  What don’t you know that you want to know?  Or…more importantly…what don’t you know that you should want to know?

Do you dump your retirement savings into instruments you don’t understand?  Do you accept at face value what the salesman tells you about the TV you’re looking at?  Do you seek The Answer, and then stop at the first reasonable explanation you come upon?

Not nature vs nurture, but nurture vs nurture

If you haven’t heard of the nature vs nurture debate, what rock have you been living under?  David Friedman points to a book that sounds very interesting and…from the various reviews I’ve read…it seems like it may present a very valid argument that nature vs nurture is the wrong argument to have.

Apparently, Harris presents much evidence to support her idea that peer groups have a much greater role on how children develop than do parents.  I will be buying this book, ASAP.

Reasonable is not the same as Right

I came across a forum post sharing this interesting story:

How Mil Specs Live Forever

The US Standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. Why was that gauge used? Because that’s the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates.

Why did the English people build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used.

Why did “they” use that gauge then? Because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing.

Okay! Why did the wagons use that odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing the wagons would break on some of the old, long distance roads, because that’s the spacing of the old wheel ruts.

So who built these old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe were built by Imperial Rome for the benefit of their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts? The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagons, were first made by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made for or by Imperial Rome they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing.

Thus, we have the answer to the original questions. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification (Military Spec) for an Imperial Roman army war chariot.

MilSpecs and Bureaucracies live forever.

So, the next time you are handed a specification and wonder what horse’s ass came up with it, you may be exactly right. Because the Imperial Roman chariots were made to be just wide enough to accommodate the back-ends of two war horses.

Wild, yet reasonable!  More after the fold…

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Upgrading your AT&T Tilt to Windows Mobile 6.5 (tutorial)

I’ve been meaning to look in to how to do this for awhile, and finally worked up the willpower to do it…

Here’s how you can upgrade your AT&T Tilt to Windows Mobile 6.5.  Why would you want to do this?  Well…it’s new!  6.5 brings some nice feature upgrades, as well as generally making the whole operating system more finger-friendly.  Here’s a couple screenshots of my phone now:

WM 6.5 Today Screen from the TPC Elite Series ROM

WM 6.5 Today Screen from the TPC Elite Series ROM

WM 6.5 Start Menu

WM 6.5 Start Menu

One last thing before we get into it.  It seems like there’s a lot of stuff to do to make this work.  Keep in mind that most of this stuff is only done once.  Every other time you want to change your ROM it will be much easier.

Ok, on to the tutorial.

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My program for hotkey switching between speakers and headphones…

…has been updated.