A lone software developers fight against inefficiency, insanity, and bad coffee.
Friday, December 22, 2006
Well, my experiences here have proven something I already knew to be true. Nobody cares about epistemology. OK, so nobody is overstating it a bit, but very few people do anyway. So I will turn my attention from all things epistemological, to a more general mélange of stuff about programming, politics, Christianity and epistemology. Hope you and yours are having a Joyous Christmas and hope to see you in the new year.
Is faith the same as Ignorance? On a TV show that I like to watch, the main character made the comment “Faith, isn’t that the same as ignorance?”. That line has stuck with me. Obviously, I am interested in knowledge and to an extent against ignorance. So this idea that faith and ignorance are the same has really caused me to think. Is faith the same as ignorance? Surely not, but it is not enough for me to say that, I must be able to support that idea. So let us look at what ignorance and faith are, and how they relate. Let’s start with ignorance. I suspect that you know, or think you know, what ignorance is. The simplest definition of ignorance is a lack of knowledge. Given that definition all of us are ignorant. I know nothing about nuclear medicine, or asian music, or any number of other subjects. There is a broader definition of ignorance, which is choosing not to know. This is the derogatory use of the word. Obviously, people who choose not too learn are making a mistake. Still, not learning about things outside of our profession and interest is perfectly reasonable, and inevitable. There is a good side to ignorance. Ignorance is where all new scientific and philosophic though comes from. Ignorance keeps us humble. The double doctorate professor who has too take his car to a mechanic without a high school diploma, is reminded that despite his knowledge there is still much he does not know. So like all things there is a good and bad to ignorance. What then can we say about faith? What is faith? Faith is confidence or trust in a person or thing. Again given that definition we all have faith. When you stand up you have faith that the floor will hold you. You have faith that the Sun will continue to warm the Earth. You have faith that time will continue to run, etc. So faith, like ignorance is a matter of fact. Not something one can avoid. So how do we come by faith? We trust the floor because the floor has always held us up. We trust time because we have never experienced it to vary. Faith typically come from experience. Faith does not typically exist without support, just not with empirical support. Faith is confidence that is not supported by logic or reason. This does not mean that faith is not logical or reasonable, it means that faith is the set of beliefs that are not supported by logic or reason. Faith is all the things you believe without proving them. Do scientists have faith? Yes, there are many things that scientists have faith in. The most obvious is the scientific method. Why is science done the way it is done? Because we believe it to be the most successful process for achieving knowledge and understanding. Scientists have faith that the universe is a very consistent place. That is they believe that the same rules of physics work here and in other galaxies. We have only limited evidence that this is true. We have never been to other galaxies after all. Scientists trust their observations. Observations are notoriously unreliable and scientists have come up with ways to help mitigate the errors, still what we see is often not what really happens. So we see that science relies a great deal on faith. Still there is faith and there is Faith. What is Christian Faith? Let's start with the Bible definition of Faith. Hebrews 11:1 say "Now faith is assurance of things hoped for, a conviction of things not seen." I think this is the same thing as faith in the floor. I am confident that God has a plan and that it will be for my benefit. I am convicted by the power of God. Even when things do not appear to be going my way. Is it foolish, or ignorant of my to have faith in God? Let's assume for the moment that there is a God and that he is omnipotent (all powerful), omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent (everywhere at once), what else would there be to have faith in? Given an all knowing, all powerful, God present everywhere at once, there is no other logical place to put ones faith. So it all comes down to the question is there such a God. I believe there is, but that is based on my experiences.
I have been reading Brian Glass' Blog about the descent of man and how that should effect your choices in the election tomorrow. In general I agree with his points (If you want to read them you should start at the beginning here). Man is very gifted at making a mess. I blame this on our sinful nature. It is not a question of knowing what is right. It is a question of doing what is right. How often have we hear, or even said ourselves, I knew it was wrong/bad idea/etc, but I just couldn't help myself? Still, it helps to be informed, if one can be. I believe that I have the power to choose the right through the Holy Spirit. Perhaps you choose the right through self discipline, or maybe thought a Ouija board. Still most people base their decisions. on some type of information. So where do you get the information that you make election decisions with? From the candidates? Isn't that a little like having the fox guard the hen house? So from Political Action Groups that buy time on the television? This is not much of a step up. The local newspaper? Again not typically the bastion of rational fact that one might hope for. So if anyone is reading this I am interested. As you return from your civic duty of voting, please share with us how you go about deciding who to vote for? I am not asking who you voted for, but how you gather information to decide. What information sources do you trust?
My last post might get one to thinking that I am down on Humanity. This was not my intent. It's simply an explaination why so many efforts that start out with the best of intentions go wrong. Human history is full of institutions that are created for good reasons, but still these institutions eventually becaome a problem in their own right. Why? Because they get big. As the size goes up, the effort required to fight the effects predicted by Chaos Theory increase. Eventually there is too much force, or too little resistence and they fall. Many remain fallen, some are reborn by a new vision and a new resistence. So what are we to do? The secret is to keep things small. It is difficult to hide sloth or greed in a group of 5 or 10 people. As I said before these issues are hard to resist in an organization of hundreds or thousands. So we should look to create organizations that have a few members, say less than 100. We should focus on small business, local government, etc. It is in these organizations that innovation often occurs. These organizations are often closer to the problem and therefore can respond in a more surgical way. Understand that this is not the most efficient approach. Small businesses tend not to make as much money. Passing laws at the local level is often just as much work as passing a law at the State level with substantially less pay off. Still, I believe this is where our thgoughts and time should be focused. Of course, to really make this work there needs to be an effort to return control the the local governemnts. More on that another time.
Tanks for your support Pat O _ _ _ /*\== /*\== /*\== <ooo> <ooo> <ooo>
As I call my blog Current Chaos I though it is appropriate to share my ideas about how chaos theaory and human organization come together. I should start by pointing out that I am niether an expert in chaos theory or organizational theory. I am a computer geek. I work in a cube. I prefer the company of my computer to most anyone outside of my immediate family (I love my wife and daughters very much, just in case they decide to read this :-). In my spare time I write software for free, or design, build and program robots. By now you should be getting the picture that I really am a geek full time. Still, I do look up from the monitor every now and again. One thing likely to get my attention is science. In particular any sciencentific news that effect how people look at problems. I see a lot of similarity between the scientific method and developing software. Therefor I am always interested in how scientist think about the world, and how they present the complex systems they are trying to understand. So when I heard about Chaos Theory I figured it was worth a look. One aspect of chaos theory as I understand it is that complex systems are expected to show the traits shared by most of thier parts. That is not to say the average behaviour, but that the most common traits will show through. One way to think about this is to imagine a box full of Mexican Jumping Beans. For those that do not know, Mexican Jumping Beans are beans that spontaneously "jump" about a quarter inch into the air. The direction of the jump is essentially random (it's actually chaotic, but that is a discussion for another article). So you can imagine a box full of beans bouncing up and down in random directions, the result of that movement would be a pretty even spread of the beans throughout the box. Now if we introduce a trait to the jumping, say by lifting one side of the box an inch, obviously we would expect the beans to collect at the low side of the box. This is true even though some of the beans would make pretty good headway toward the highside of the box, eventually most of the beans would be at the low side. Now let's consider something more interesting than a box of Mexican Jumping Beans, (not that I have any issues with Mexican Jumping beans mind you :-) let's consider an organization. The parts of an organization are people. No matter how else you think of an organization being put together, ultimately they are made up of people. So what traits, if any, do people share. This is where my Christian beliefs come into play. As a Christian I believe that all people have a fallen nature, that is that all people are sinful by nature. This is not to indicate that I have lost all faith in my fellow man. I know and work with a number of people that are honest, hardworking folks. Still the traits that are shared by most people are the seven deadly sins. The sin nature of people would naturally be the common trait. What would we expect given this hypothesis? To answer that lets ask a different question. How would you describe most organizations? Large corporations, governments, any other large organizations, are typically described as selfish, greedy, mean and even cruel. This is unfortunately what this hypothesis expects. The sinful nature of human beings comes out as the number of humans involved increases. So small organizations good, big organizations bad.
Well that's sure to be controversial, but then I have never been afraid of controversy.
In honor of talk like a Pirate day earlier this week my daughter suggested I get a Priate name. Here it is:
My pirate name is:
Iron Sam Rackham
A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. You have the good fortune of having a good name, since Rackham (pronounced RACKem, not rack-ham) is one of the coolest sounding surnames for a pirate. Arr!
Here you will find the wondering and chaos that is my current thought process. I also hope to post ideas about a Tactical Turn Based Hex Map war game engine that I will likely call smallwarz. In between look for the occasional diatribe about the insanity that is the software industry. Hopefully it will prove useful, entertaining, or ideally both.
I grew up in Silicon Valley (Santa Clara Valley), in California. I have been working in and around computers my entire life. I mean that part literally. I started out helping others build computers at about 8 or 9 years old. I had a steady hand with a soldering iron. I started programming in 7th grade. I am very interested in information, it's uses and abuses.