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Sinistredestre.wordpress.com is now following Ralph Wedgwood
May 13, 2014
Congratulations on a variety of fronts! Good luck with managing with 2 kids!
Toggle Commented May 13, 2014 on Talk to Me? at Only a Game
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I love this idea of the nationless nation. A republic of conscience and expression. It's certainly true that blogging has changed over the past few years and it is natural that it would do so being such a relatively new medium. Blogging can come to mean different things and I think that being open to that explores the different potentialities of the blog as a literary genre. In recent months and the past couple of years, my blog has become the 'long form' of stuff that I mention and don't like talking about in public. It has become of interest to people I personally know, because many of the raconteur type diatribes or monologues I might have in actual conversation I replace with silence because I know I've takled about it on my blog and don't need to repeat unnecessary conversations. I've also found blogging as a way of enforcing (similar to the water cooler of twitter) face-to-face relationships and contacts. Many of the people I know I don't actually see for an extended period of time so we don't get the conversations or exchanges that we could. But having the blog there means I don't need to. I love the idea of the blog as being some kind of continuation of the 18th century letter exchange. Except this way it is more public and we don't need to rely on having a lucky find of papers to study exchanges between people! All the best Michael
Toggle Commented May 13, 2014 on A Republic of Bloggers at Only a Game
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Gonna give this a look...thanks for referral link! P.s. the irony is not lost on me that i signed in to g+ to post this....im on my tablet in bed catching up on a month of blogs!
Toggle Commented Apr 4, 2014 on Defecting from Google Drive at Only a Game
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The word I like for this is Neurotrash. Scientists are a large pool of people granted, but people like this do no favours for the dissemination of their research, when they hardly understand the operational concepts of their research terms. How indeed did this pass peer review? I think nepotism might come into play. Some areas of research are so small, or some topics of research papers are so ideosyncratic that even double blind papers are easy to work out who the author is. Especially if s/he references a single author all the time! Always a pleasure to read your work Destre
Toggle Commented Feb 4, 2013 on Scientists Distorting Science? at Only a Game
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This sounds like a wet dream to me! I remember at university I would dream about (and have my dreams realised) the trolley or table in the middle of the Philosophy department that said 'free books' or something like 'I'm moving office/retiring and here are some books you can take'. I am of two worlds about the materialism of books. I think that its important to have books (or learning materials of any non-physical form) out there for the public, whether that involves a university population, independent researchers or the general public. Public libraries are a very important part of many communities. On the other hand, a personal book collection is nice to show off (similar to say, my friend's BB rifle collection or Destre's vintage Star Wars action figure haul). But there is also a vice to self indulgence. I am also of the view that some old books are being liberated when you find them. Part of the reason why I love charity shops. I think there is a sadness about old books. I used to live in a flat share with a bunch of PhD students and there was a beat up piano in the living room, that was used as a prop for the TV. Being an amateur pianist I enjoyed giving that beat up piano some life by playing it once in a while. I also found a book of Chopin Nocturnes. I love finding antiquarian music in an age where many people don't learn to read music. There are lives behind those books in the people who read it, we all die sometime but if we happen to be as fortunate as yourself, having published ideas and thoughts and feelings, maybe that's a longer form of endurance! Failing that, antiquarian books can sell for a mint if you find good sellers and an obsessive buyer. Michael
Toggle Commented Aug 24, 2012 on Picking the Bones of a Library at Only a Game
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When I saw this post I thought to myself: are we still taking this issue seriously? In the wider political and media climate, faith takes part in what they call in the US the Culture Wars. The standpoint of religious creeds and the tribalism of being a religious believer (particularly Christian) seems to give people a weighted position about social, moral and legal issues that they are not really priviledged to (compared to say, anyone else in the discourse). I could say that thinking about non-religious cases of faith would be worthwhile. In a legal case we have faith in the Judge's verdict and their interpretation of the law, and the institution of senior judges. I think faith in life is a really interesting case because it really pulls at what is at stake when we think about faith. To talk about 'faith' (religious and non religious connotations) and science, or religion are all about an epistemic (or doxastic) appeal, that is, an appeal to what we know, or what we believe. To pose these terms in such a way basically says to me: here is one person with a conviction, and here's someone else with a conviction, both people may believe in different things, both people may have different reasons (faith, evidence etc). It begins to sound woolly to me. JoaquinAgreda in his earlier comment makes a very good point that 'faith' is essentially a layperson's term of understanding things. IN lay speak, it is reasonable to speak about having faith in a scientific theory. There is also a sense of presumption about our good theories as well. When I turn my computer on, I really don't think about how the electricity going through the transistors are made possible by the innovation of Maxwell equations, or when I log on to foursquare I don't think about how GPS requires satellites that are held by Lagrange points. Why isn't scepticism placed in such a valued place as faith? A lay person may understand science through the everyday term of faith, but it has its limitations. Doubt is much more useful. Thinking as a moralist, I also suspect there is a merit to looking at life through doubt rather than faith. This is where I find your metaphor about faith in life interesting. I'll grant that its less obvious how doubt can be useful to one's outlook in life than it would for having a sense of faith. Michael
Toggle Commented Aug 3, 2012 on Faith in Science? at Only a Game
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appendum: my post said that discussion of tribalism is a roadblock to progress. That's not what i meant! I mean to say, tribalism and the adherence to identities associated with moral perspectives (what is essentially being partisan) gets in the way. Not discussion of it, which is what you are doing and is a very worthwhile thing! Michael
Toggle Commented Jul 23, 2012 on The Righteous Mind at Only a Game
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I see a connection in your perspective in this review and your point about Liberals being intolerant of Conservatives in your other recent post. I'll pass over discussion about the more scientifically sided aspects of moral behaviour but I do think there is a lot to be noted in the importance of the tribalism of moral sentiments, or having a certain conviction. Convictions have such big importance these days, and it has little to do with debate. The social acceptability of homosexuals and things like gay marriage, adoption, or women's reproductive rights pretend to come from a sympathetic reasoned point of view but seem to me to be a battle of identities rather than of discussion. Being taught by the Jesuits helped me to see things in a multitude of perspectives, and the luxury of witholding judgment or not coming down on an issue is an intellectual delight, even if its a frustration for anyone asking 'what's your opinion on...' As a metaphorically card carrying liberal and a former card carrying atheist (I literally had a card for the latter). I'm often interested in 'the other side'. Lately for instance I have been reading a book called 'The Road to Serfdom' by Friedrich Hayek, who I did not until later realise is considered an influential conservative figure. If I found out about this before I read the book, I possibly would have been more disagreeable to the text, but having few prejudices (except for the positive prejudice knowing that he was a contemporary of Popper, a man I favour) I engaged with his ideas rather than identified with the politics. This kind of discussion about tribalism is a roadblock to progress, politically and socially. When we are facing issues that are really large, we really should leave our egos at the door. Partisan identities make things difficult. Michael
Toggle Commented Jul 21, 2012 on The Righteous Mind at Only a Game
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wow that's quite a journey, from a game designer walking around in philosophy to where you are now! I recommended your blog to a teacher this week who had a student who wanted to do an 'A' level extended project coursework assignment on the question 'Are video games art?'. I think when your name appears on an 'A' level coursework it means you've made it. When you've had high praise from people like Kendall Walton or Noel Carroll (sic) I think its a good sign that your good work has been recognised. I hope for another 7 years with your blogging. Happy birthday from us at Noumenalrealm (and Michael)
Toggle Commented Jul 21, 2012 on Seven Years Today! at Only a Game
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Interesting post. Not least for a topic that both Kant and Russell have provided provoking views, naturally Russell's view differs from Kant, as it does in many things. When I think of issues where your future mindset is affected, this for me goes into meta-ethical territory, or at least into the realm of moral psychology. This is a territory where my life experience comes in more than my reading. 1. The mentality of drinking for me involves the responsible assumption that you know the consequences of what you will be like when inebriated (except perhaps if you are unwittingly intoxicated or its your first time drinking or imbibing your specific drug). In other words, when you do get wasted, your sober self should know what s/he's getting into. Frame it into the terminology of Harry Frankfurt's second-order desire. To want to drink is to want to feel elated or whatever buzz you get from your specific drug. Even the aspect of sponteneity can be desired from one's drug. 2. Not all drugs are the same. I think there are medically speaking, all kinds of drugs. If we are talking about inebriants/intoxicants/things that release happy brain hormones, we can widen our conception of drugs to include something that gives a similar feeling to that high. I think it's dire to know that cigarettes are legal for example, they contain things like cadmium (which are components of batteries) or tar (which are components of most roads). Some drugs have their own cultural issues associated with it, but also use 'culture' as a defense of its masqueraded legal status. There is an extent to which being evidenced based should inform our views. For example, following the research David Nutt: how many recorded deaths are there due to alcohol compared to marijuana? I grew up in an environment where there was a lot of drinking but very little alcohol appreciation. I hardly drink much alcohol these days myself and the times that I choose to get drunk are few. I choose not to drink too much these days, part of this is willpower, another part is health related (trying to work on looking like a 1980s action figure). I also feel that sobriety is very important. Sobriety is not just the absence of being drunk as many people seem to use the term, but facing clearly all the things in your life without overblowing how good it is, or underplaying how bad it is. Sobriety is hard and even if there is a chance to let go of it for a little while from time to time, I quite enjoy carrying my burdens and troubles even in good sociable times so that I take them seriously. I am trying hard to purposely be boring :) Always a pleasure to read something topical. With Regards Michael
Toggle Commented May 30, 2012 on Getting Wasted (A Moral Question) at Only a Game
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This is a most erudite precis, although I can't really follow what you mean relating to potheads (but that's really cutting the same cake at a different place between us as disagreement), it's fascinating how 'alternative' has become a unity of differing views. As a new 'other' is introduced, we create new labels in identification against it: there are not Gentiles without Jews; Kafir without Muslims. I have no constructive comment to add, but I think a great example of the 'pure' homosexual couple is in the film American Beauty, where Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Enterprise actor Scott Bakula plays a gay neighbour, who seems homely, conservative and almost like a Ned-Flanders type (as straightlaced as can be), embracing the American norms of acceptability, except his partner isn't his business colleague. As a tangential point, I recall the philosopher (and homosexual) Mark Vernon noting his opposition to the equivocation to civil partnerships with marriage. Vernon, as a former CoE priest, appreciates the historical roots of the institution of marriage. Vernon also makes the point that homosexual partnerships, being so historically 'new' in acceptance and part of the social fabric, shouldn't just jump on the bandwagon of the historical institution of marriage, but create its own and new set of rituals, values and norms about what a homosexual partnership should be. With Kind Regards, Michael
Toggle Commented Sep 8, 2011 on Impure: Sex, Drugs and Gay Marriage at Only a Game
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I almost have a Plato style thought but I cannot quite articulate it. This is probably something for your next post as you insinuate, but I have the following considerations. 1. An obvious point to make to a game designer as yourself: not all games involve competition, or 'winning'. Likewise, not all games are necessarily on the continuum of co-operation or competition. The great thing about gaming as a medium is that you can create really unique works which bend our expectations about what a game is, should be, and what our 'way to play a game is'. You sort of accept this point when you say that the different aspects in the 'toy chest' ontology vary. 2. What aspects are in the 'toy chest' (such as whether the player takes an externalised third person doll, first person, or the role of God) defines the nature of perception in the game. This is much analogous to how priming may prompt us to think in certain categories, or how the political discourse of the media limits us to a small range of 'official' options. 3. You've mentioned this in a previous post so I thought I'd tie it up here: the props have a certain sense of canonicity to them. Like moral rules, they can be bent or manipulated. Consider the case of Halo (I'm sorry I can't think of any other games being a Halo addict). Within the confines of the game are the structures such as the game engine and models and AI etc, as well as the props and parameters that construe what makes it a specifically combat, competitive/co-operative oriented game. But then the engine can be used in a non canon way such as machinima. Considering the analogy between aesthetics and gaming, or between aesthetical thinking and moral thinking, I find this kind of thought fruitful. Subversion, like making a toilet, art. I totally went off topic, but I think this terminology has much currency for explaining that kind of subversion. Regards, Michael
Toggle Commented Apr 13, 2011 on A Toy Chest for Game Design at ihobo
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(this post applies Kripke's notion of reference and necessity) This is a fascinating post. Piracy is an issue that Michael and Antisophie and I often discuss. You've coined a term so brilliantly, the 'Black Library', and I think your formulations of the ethical situations are interesting. I'm not going to comment on the wrongness or rightness of the issues here, but I'll say that it is interesting with the case of the case of 'Tape and Upgrade'. The film 'Star Wars: Episode IV: A New Hope' is different to 'Star Wars' (1977), the 'Star Wars: Episode IV [...] (1997) is different to 'Star Wars [...] IV [...] (2004), and I've learned that there are even variations in the editorial cuttings and dialogue mixing even in the versions that came out in 1977, or the releases from 1977 - 1981 of what is basically the same film. I think something here to do with canon and megatexts would interpretatively see the film as basically the same work, but in the terms of exactness, they are not the same film or the same product commercially. If we are to conceive these editions of the same George Lucas film as different, then it is also conceivable that a film, or episode or product in one format may be de re (using metaphysical parlance) a different thing. If you had old style episodes of Doctor Who from 1980s VHS recordings from (say) the Sylvester McCoy Era, and somehow you came across a DVD version of the same episodes, irrespective of any editorial differences they are, I would see the product as different, by virtue of the medium, the encoding medium and the data. Likewise it is the same case to say that a re-made game (not an emulation) on a new format console or programming scheme is a different game de re. I would deem this a difference that is significant to our moral calculation of the situation. Regards, Sinistre
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I'm not sure how to respond to this. Many game reviews legitimately appeal to the repetitiveness of a game as a flaw. However taking a more charitable approach I can see what you are trying to get at. The notion of 'achievements' in things from XBox Live to foursquare show that gamers/real people are quite keen on repetition and some perseverance for a greater sense of achievement or establish a kind of completeness, consider also for instance the collective person who might want to finish a sticker album, have the whole collection in a toy range or a stamp collector, there is seemingly something intrinsic to the activity that is rewarding. I also think having a voluntary sense of completion in a game makes a gamer more eager and enjoying of said repetition. I have one game in mind: JET FORCE GEMINI, this would have been the best game in the N64 product line if it werent' for the mandatory completion of the collection of the little teddy bears in order to complete the game. I absolutely positively hate that game for that one reason. You should not force gamers to aim for completeness, but give them a choice to aim for it if they want. Getting all the armours in Halo: Reach, finishing all the sidequests in a given Final Fantasy (including defeating the optional Ultima boss), gives challenge and satisfaction by choice. But forcing repetitive dungeon maps or mandatory tedious side quests is a game design flaw in my view. In summary: forced completion = gaming flaw, optional completion = gaming virtue. Gamers have vastly different goals and psychologies, normally the commercially successful kinds of games are those which accomodate as wide an audience as possible. That said, does that make them good? (That's a whole other can of worms) I think what you are meaning to say is more nuanced than what how you described, but I do sympathise with that view, as a gamer (I still dislike Jet Force Gemini) Fond regards, Michael
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Congratulations on your leveling up. 1337G goes to you, and 9000+ internets to you!!!!!1 Seriously, I'm fascinated by the notion not only of a philosopher who is taken gaming seriously, but has also taken systematic issues in philosophical aesthetics in application to gaming. Also, since you work in the industry you have an inside perspective pertinent to philosophising on the issue, like Einstein philosophising over physics. With Kind Regards from all the (non-imaginary) people from the Noumenal Realm, and the flattered Michael Pereira
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This notion of the megatext is interesting. I understand the important distinction between a 'science fiction [generic] megatext' and using 'science' as a megatext as a basis for hard sci fi. Where is the imagination? I ask myself. So many science fiction things I read in modern times are immersed in one megatext or another. Here's a list of cliches which are so common that the world of the story does not even bother to explain them but just presume the reader's familiarity: 1. Cryonics (which has its 40th anniversary this year) 2. Faster-than-light travel 3. Hearing sound in space (I think its a worthy mention that Halo: Reach has a mission which is partly in space where the first person shooting element has no sound but air vibrations from within the helmet- shame that the space fighter had sound though) 4. Artificial Gravity 5. Terraforming 6. Star trek style transporters 7. Extra-Earth life forms that have near humanoid physiologies and near social customs I have a recent penchant for 'early science fiction', the likes of Harry Harrison for instance, where there is not much emphasis on the 'futurism' as such of the science fiction but more a speculation of the human condition and how humans may adapt in alien and extreme situations. Deathworld is my iconic example of a good sci-fi story. The technological futurism is but a premise, a background for which any other similar story could be told. A good science fiction doesn't overdo the science as grounded in today; but engages in speculation; explores the (post/trans) human condition and goes somewhere original. Despite this, I do have a niche for megatexts. I am a self-confessed Star Wars fan and that is more for comfort and its familiarity than for its innovation in terms of say, the expanded universe. Something should be said, comparable to religious texts, of how megatexts often have 'Canon'-icity. What counts as the official story, for instance, whether Shatner's Star Trek books are part of the real star trek narrative, or an awkward period of Star Wars literature between about 1994 (when the novels started coming out) and just around 2005 when Revenge of the Sith came out. A lot of the 'canon' information had to be redefined, contradicted or outright written out to fit in with how George Lucas made the story. I'm reminded of a Hume quote: "Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those in philosophy only ridiculous." I think one should widen the refering term of religion to lore. As always, this is an insightful and provoking post. Michael
Toggle Commented Jan 19, 2011 on Orthodox Science Fiction at Only a Game
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I love Hawking's work. The physical worldview he gives is deeply atheistic and has interesting things to say about the status of mathematics, levels of theory and his talk of a 'final theory' panders to the 'unity of science' proponents out there. Mlodinow is also known as an expert consultant in the past the the most philosophical TV show out there, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Saying philosophy is dead in the light of their views is calling a rose by any other name. Rhetoric is a good way to describe this move. Philistinism? Perhaps that's strong for a pair of eminent physicists.
I know this predicament quite well. I keep a wide collection of books and audiobooks (check out librivox.org if you don't know it) and I have enough reading material to occupy me for at least a lifetime. That's considering that I won't re-read my favourite books (the notion of 'favourite books' is slightly suspect anyway) and the new books that come out. I say, think of this like a good computer, how do you rank your preferences? Does the compleat works of Terry Pratchett come as a priority, or Plato? Does chicklit come into the list, or cookery? It's important to have wide interests. I like humour, sometimes I even like lowbrow works of fantasy, or old 20thC science fiction. Choosing your list of books is choosing your individuality. It is also a matter of showing your collective affiliation. I've also lately gotten into comics. Although that isn't terribly a secret that I've liked comic book characters for a while. I also recommend goodreads.com to keep a track on your readings. Regards Michael
Toggle Commented Dec 16, 2010 on Crisis in the Infinite Library at Only a Game
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Hello Chris, I like the discussion about multiple identities, and it's quite telling of you to claim so many (I wonder if you are a console gamer or a computer gamer? - surely those are traditionally exclusive boundaries - I say in jest!). The notion of pick and mixing your beliefs is telling, it's a very modern thing to do, and in the post modern terminology one might call such a combination a bricolage. The 'P' word is very complicated to understand. Who are the postmodernists of consideration? Baudrillard? Jameson? Lyotard? I have a feeling that a postmodern person does not exist. It's almost the straw man that everyone wants to set alight. Another thing to say is that postmodernism can be understood not as a metaphysical notion (this is in itself wrong), but more as a cultural approach. look how much of the media is 24-hour, and how this emphasises the notion of the hyper-real. Look at how jobs in much of the western world (and even the likes of India with their call centres) are predominantly service based industries and in such a drastic move away from industrial production. This latterly notion relates to the 'post-industrial' (which is sometimes, but not necessarily associated with postmodernism). Postmodernism as cultural approach has a lot of ammunition and utility in social and media studies. Consider in video games how an air of the past and nostalgia is often evoked, even to the end of being potentially anachronistic (such as Metal Gear: Snake Eater - [i think that's the right title] or Red Dead Redemption). The metanarrative point is all well and good, but that's like saying AJ Ayer's verificationism characterised the whole Vienna movement of logical empiricist philosophy. Postmodernity is a can of worms, much like the society its tryingto understand. With Kind winter Regards Sinistre
Toggle Commented Dec 16, 2010 on Why I Am Not a Postmodernist at Only a Game
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Apr 23, 2010