Isqua Istari

The Wise Wizards

Liberty and the Constitution of the United States

Posted in Articles by Ziggy Wednesday May 25, 2011 at 17:31

Introduction

I’ve been reading a lot of Frédéric Bastiat recently. He makes a very strong argument for freedom, government focus on criminal justice, and non-involvement in everything else. I want to believe him, and have been doing some thought exercises to test the idea. So far, it’s coming out alright. To see where I’m coming from here, read The Law and (if you’re up to it) Economic Harmonies.

So, I figured I’d read through the US Constitution with this in mind and find out if it matches up with this idea of liberty. As Bastiat says, “The law is the organization of the natural right of lawful defense. It is the substitution of a common force for individual forces. And this common force is to do only what the individual forces have a natural and lawful right to do: to protect persons, liberties, and properties; to maintain the right of each, and to cause justice to reign over us all.” (my emphasis added) Is this the kind of “liberty and justice” the United States is founded on? Let’s find out!

(spoiler: My conclusion is that Article 1 and the 18th amendment are the main offenders. The rest are quite respectful of liberty.)

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Minecraft Tools

Posted in Articles by Ziggy Thursday May 12, 2011 at 15:24

So for a while now I’ve been writing fairly small programs that will add stuff to Minecraft savefiles. I call them scripts, but you could call them programs, tools, software, or mods. The point is, it does something quickly that would take a long time to do in-game. You can see the specifics on my Minecraft Scrpits page if you like.

I’ve been thinking recently though, about how sometimes things are just too easy. If you could push a button and get a stack of whatever you want, it wouldn’t be as fun as hunting for it. There’s a certain satisfaction to overcoming difficulty, arguably the reason we prefer games to lying on our backs in our free time. Of course, if it’s too hard it’s no fun either. The scripts I write are designed to address the latter. You could build a huge tree, block by block, or you could run the Forester script and spend your time building a tree fort instead. It comes down to a question of what you prefer.

I think one of the reasons that Minecraft is so successful is that it mimics real life, but is also much easier. Want to plant a garden in Minecraft? Click the mouse a couple of times and you’re done! Want to plant a garden in real life? Three hours of hoeing, turning soil, planting, getting dirt in your eyes, and (if you live in an arid environment like I do) watering later and you’ve accomplished the same thing! If you’re doing it for the satisfaction of “planting a garden” then it’s much better in Minecraft. Of course, if you like to eat fresh picked carrots real life wins every time.

So the advantage of Minecraft is it allows us to enact some of the creation, construction, and conquering fantasies that I’m sure plague many of our mowed-back-lawn hearts. I want to build a castle on a mountaintop! Minecraft: possible! Real life: millions of dollars worth of permits, materials, and labor. I want to dig a huge hole and make an underground base! Minecraft: Feasible! Real life: Danger of tunnel collapse, OSHA red tape, water tables, and asphyxiation. I want to build a tree fort in a humongous tree! Minecraft: um… no humongous trees.

So that’s why I write scripts. To set up the environment for great fantasies! I think this kind of thing is extremely healthy. Especially where local regulations and finances don’t allow most of us to do these kinds of things in our back yards.

Starship Log: 016

Posted in Starship Log by Ziggy Thursday May 5, 2011 at 11:14

Back to work today. Made the rounds on preventative maintenance that was neglected during the cleanup. A-tor meeting today to go over the initial observations of the system. Soon we’ll know if the mission is going ahead. Very exciting! The data coming back seems promising. Hydrogen atmosphere, standard trace gasses, same as the probes picked up, but everything is check and double-check around here. I’d be surprised if we turned around now, but there’s always that possibility.

I was in a sociable mood today, so I talked to Cathy again during lunch. Somehow I let slip that I had tried to eat in one of the arbors. Now she wants to come too. Couldn’t really get out of it nicely so we set up for delivery in peripheral arbor A tomorrow. I invited Don later as well, maybe he can tell us a bit more about the life support ecosystem.

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