Grey Matter


My magical armour is on the way. The Povray Elves put on an extra shift to handle this commission. Here is a brief glimpse:

Magic Armour for Granthug the Solid


Read about the latest biotech breakthrough - the Christian gene.

"People are more violently opposed to fur than leather because it's safer to harass rich women than motorcycle gangs."

For the office: "Chaos, panic and disorder . . . my work here is done."

Virge's Law

It was perfectly logical but nobody expected it.
The output was wrong. It disagreed with the taxation department's assessment. She ran the accountancy software again. It was right now. It agreed with the assessment, but she had changed nothing. There was no reason for the output to be any different. Memory may be deceptive at times, but the data submitted to the tax department was a permanent record of the error.

Does this scene sound familiar - software producing different results at different times when it is supposed to reliably calculate the same results? Many artificial intelligence researchers have toyed with the idea that self-awareness and the illusion of free will are generated purely through extreme complexity. The increments of complexity from simple logic to logic with memory, rules, pattern matching, learning algorithms and predictive capabilities can each be understood by themselves, but there comes point where a total system becomes too complex to have its macroscopic behaviour understood in terms of its component algorithms.
An accountancy program should just add up the numbers and spit out an answer. It should be simple, but its creators had to evolve its design and capabilities to keep up with one of the fastest growing bodies of chaotic complexity in the known universe - Australian tax law. This is a system of laws embracing the arc of history, the whole gamut of modern human life and a fair smattering of wild abstract fantasy. The program creators thought that they were dealing with something the IT industry describes as "a bugger of a thing to debug", but they had inadvertently come up against a fundamental barrier. They had met Virge's Law:
Any program of sufficient complexity to cope with Australian tax law is also sufficiently complex to exhibit emergent self-determination.

My new t-shirt

Virge's new t-shirt


A quote from my esteemed fanatic-fearing colleague (spoken in jest): "So many Christians, so few lions."

For the office: "Stress is when you wake up screaming and you realize you haven't gone to sleep yet"


Who is the fairytale me? There is a new thread in the photography section of EK for people to post "The fairytale you". So far it has some wonderful photomanipulations of EK members dressed up and distorted to be witches, elves, vampires etc. Who should I be when my fantasy imagination runs loose?
I thought of just posting the Virge=Lucifer picture, but most people on EK have seen that one. I want to do something different. Virge as a wizard could be good, but with a bald head I think I could do a warrior more convincingly. I shall be Granthug the Solid.
I'll take a head and shoulders shot of Granthug looking mean. He shall wear magical spiky armour manufactured by the Povray elves. Behind him, in the flickering gloom of candle light, the rack of swords will glint.


A work colleague of mine went to a non-denominational church meeting held in a suburban warehouse. He went to hear Ken Ham speak on dinosaurs. He came away frightened.
What is so scary about 400 people held spellbound and muttering "hallelujah" as an eloquent speaker explains the intricacies of creation-science? What is so frightening about a man telling others about his personal viewpoint? The audience won't just mindlessly accept lies or erroneous logic, will they?
It is quite self evident that dinosaurs didn't live millions of years ago, but cohabited earth with humans in the last 6-7 thousand years. Secular scientists' own findings provide proof of this conclusion:
1. Paleontologists have discovered evidence of dinosaur diseases in the fossil record.
2. There were no diseases before the "fall of man" in the Garden of Eden, about 6-7 thousand years ago. (If you deny this point, you deny the bible and call God a liar.)
3. Therefore, dinosaurs must have lived on earth after the "fall".
As proofs go, this is absolutely indisputable. Any talk you hear about evolution is just brainwashing by a secular education system.

English is a funny language. It has a lot of irregular verbs. Here are some conjugations to show correct usage.

I have opinions.
You have biases.
He/she has prejudices.

I educate.
You influence.
He/she brainwashes.

I am a free-thinker.
You are eccentric.
He/she is deluded.

One more new word for the change-one-letter dictionary:
realigion: a set of strongly-held beliefs based on observable phenomena.

Where was I? Oh yeah, that's right. I was poking at Ken Ham and his fresh, new, young and invigorating earth. My response to my colleague was simple. Don't be scared. Fanaticism and fundamentalism have been around for a long time. On a historic time scale fundamentalists are not growing in power and numbers. They are gradually dying out.
Don't think of creation-science as a threat to human advancement; think of it as an urban fantasy story being played out in a live theatre for your benefit. See how the hero, Ken, is just one frail human who pits his whole life against the forces of darkness controlling the world. See how he struggles to encourage the few remaining faithful troops to stay true and strong in the face of insurmountable odds. This is an epic fantasy of Tolkien proportions all played out for you, complete with audience involvement. We should positively encourage fanaticism because of the rich tapestry of story it adds to our mundane lives.
My advice sounded reasonable until he said "Remember Wako".


"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity." - Martin Luther King Jr.

For the office: "Errors have been made. Others will be blamed."


A few months back I took an on-line ink blot test (at Why? Because I was curious. I read the results of psychological tests with a fair degree of skepticism. A lot of them seem to be of the form:

Which do you prefer, outdoor or indoor activities?
x Indoor
_ Outdoor

Calculating Results...

Test results for Virgil
This incredibly perceptive test has discovered that you are an indoor person. You are in good company here. Albert Einstein was a very famous indoor person.
i.e. a lot of these tests just repackage the answers you have given, without really telling you anything new.
Some will try to slot you into one of a number of character types based on your answers. These provide some chance of telling you something you didn't already know, but only to the extent that you match one of the types. If you happen to fall into the in-between spectrum, you get force fitted into the nearest available stereotype.
Of course, any one of these psychological tests is better than the horoscope or name-analysis tests. I have to admire the output of these tests for the way they tune into the self-vs-not-self nature of the way people think. They play on the things that we like to think are our own, but actually are true of most people. e.g. everyone likes to think they have an ability to appreciate beauty in ways that others don't; everyone has some deep, small insecurities that they don't let show. By listing a number of these identity-affirming generalities, along with a mixture of non-committal statements about possibilities, a horoscope can seem to be 90% correct.
Anyway, back to the ink blot. I'd always wondered about whether this type of test could really tell me anything. It beats the "how would you react in this scenario" tests, because it can't just regurgitate your input or simply classify you based on how you say you would react. It has to base its classification system on what I perceive as meaning in a random symmetrical picture. Here are the results:

Virgil, your unconscious mind is driven most by Curiosity.
This means you are full of questions about life, people, and the potential of your future. You spend more time than others envisioning the possibilities of your life things that others are too afraid to consider.
Your curiosity burns with an almost physical need to know and do more. It's only through new experiences that you feel a greater understanding of yourself or the world which ultimately is the greatest way for you to feel satisfied.
It is possible that the underlying reason for your drive towards curiosity is a deeply rooted fear of boredom. That means that you are probably more susceptible than others to feel like you're falling into a rut when life slows down into a comfortable routine.
You need to make sure you have stimulation in your life that makes you feel like you're innovating or being exposed to the ideas and experiences that truly inspire you.
With such a strong orientation towards curiosity, you're also prone to a rebellious quality that shows up when you feel you are just going through the motions, and are unable to really influence the world around you. But interestingly enough, your drive towards novel experiences also indicates an openness others don't have, but wish they did.
Unconsciously, your curiosity presses you to learn more, experience more, and get the most out of life.

The results seemed to hit pretty close to the mark - or did they? How much of the output was true enough about anybody? Would I have felt the same about any of the canned reports that could have been produced? I could go back to the test multiple times and try to answer it in a different way each time to get all the different output types. Then I could compare all of them and decide which seemed to fit me best. There are only two problems with that:
1. My self assessment would be biased by my own self-image - not objective like the test.
2. Considering the time it would take, I'm not quite that curious.


"But you read a lot of books, I'm thinking. Hard to have faith, ain't it, when you've read too many books?" - Terry Pratchett, Carpe Jugulum

For the office: "I started out with nothing and still have most of it left"

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