Time Lapse Photography

•September 20, 2012 • Leave a Comment


Here is the fruit of some experimenting with my D200 intervalometer.  Hardly up to my usual level of quality, but consider me a kid with a new toy.


The eastern sky around midnight, with Venus dominating the scene.


You know what those are.


Video Game to Real Life – Rakghoul Plague compared to Real Life Outbreaks

•April 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

In addition to real-time strategy games, I also enjoy MMOs from time to time.  Currently this means the semi-new release – Star Wars: The Old Republic.  Today an in-game event started that could have real-world implications for studying diseases and their transmission.

By traveling across the galaxy and encountering Rakghouls, you become infected.  First there is an incubation stage debuff “Lightheaded” which has symptoms of “Dizzyness and nausea”.  After 10 minutes it changes to “Feverish” – “Medical attention might be required”.  In addition to showing visible symptoms(noxious green clouds and evil glowy eyes) you can gain “Sickness” which causes you to turn green and double over in pain –  “That can’t be good”.  In another 10 minutes the infected player reaches the end-stage and explodes in a burst of green goo, “dying” and infecting anyone without a vaccine or active infection in range.

This event is not isolated in the MMO gaming world, as World of Warcraft had a Corrupted Blood outbreak (unintentional) as well as the Zombie Scourge event (intentional).

The reason this can be compared to the real world is that it has a set behavior that in some ways mimics actual infections.

1. It can be avoided through immunization.  In-game Medical droids sell a 6 hour vaccine that is instantly and 100% effective.  Vaccines can be a hotly debated issue but they are at least effective at doing what they claim to do.  Unlike the real world, it also prevents one from carrying the virus to infect others.

2. In order to cause a mass outbreak, it is necessary to travel to high populated zones.  Because infecting one or two suckers in some backwater cantina isn’t as satisfying as exploding on the Fleet and watching them all turn green.

3. New strains and new victims must be found, or the virus will reach critical mass and die out.

Unlike real-life, the virus is transmitted only by exploding at the end of the course of illness and not in the initial phases when most real-world diseases are most communicable.

For the purposes of this piece, each time a player gets infected it is an original strain.  However, the virus has certain properties that limit its behavior.  For instance, if a player is already infected, they are immune to further infection and will not be affected by any new strains that are introduced during that period.  This is why new victims must constantly be found.  Furthermore, the more people that become infected with a strain, the more quickly it will reach critical mass where all players are immune from vaccination or previous infection – and so the strain dies out.  A staggered timeline with multiple strain introduction is necessary to maintain a high level of population infection.

Pragmatically, this manifests itself in the multiple simultaneous explosions (on Jung Ma, near the PVP vendors on Republic Fleet).  Unless a player feels like waiting 20 minutes to be reinfected by the same strain they just passed on, they rely on other strains incubating in other hosts to speed up the process.  Though this event is very new, I can imagine the plague dying out during low-population hours and needing new strains to reignite the outbreak.

Clearly this is not a direct corollary between game and life, (especially considering the in-game incentives to infect others) but I think it can (and probably will) be used to test the behavior of outbreaks and perhaps offer insight into real life phenomena.  Perhaps this is only the first stage and this in-game virus will change its behavior through mutation, becoming more communicable with more deadly symptoms.  I eagerly await the results.

Edit: It seems that the Changing Phase bug or dying prematurely (such as infecting others in a Warzone) – really anything that changes the timing of the explosion, by my definition, causes a new strain to “mutate”.  There is more variety to the virus strains than I had originally thought.

Playing Starcraft 1 in Starcraft 2

•March 15, 2012 • Leave a Comment

Starcraft 1 was a great game.  For it’s time.  Starcraft 2 has the same soul, but so much more eye candy – and more importantly, it smoothly fixes every glaring flaw of the original.  The links below help you relive a bit of the story with SC2’s 3d models while sparing you the interface problems of the predecessor.

Disclaimer – I do not take any credit for creating this, only a quick guide to download and use.  Some details vary from the original and some custom models might not work perfectly yet. 

Extract these Maps to the folder Program Files/Starcraft II/Maps

Rebel Yell – Terran Campaign

The Overmind – Zerg Campaign

The Fall – Protoss Campaign

Extract this Mod to the folder Program Files/Starcraft II/Mods


TO PLAY – DRAG A *.SC2MAP FILE ON TO YOUR SC2 ICON OR SHORTCUT.  It should then run automatically.  (This also works for just about any custom map.)


Impressionist Photography

•November 8, 2011 • 1 Comment

One of the marks of the Impressionist style of art is an incredible attention to details of color, overshadowing more immediate details such as shape and form.  The intent is to capture the more elusive impression (syn. ambience, mood, tone) of a scene while omitting the completely obvious.  As a result Impressionism interacts well with an audience.  It invites you to look closer, first at the work of art and then at everything else, with the whole world as the “canvas”.

I think that it is possible to have an Impressionist style of Philosophy too.  It could be quite useful for anyone that desires a deep and nuanced understanding of Being and existence – to look like an artist, to step back in order to look closer.

This post contains some of my Impressionist photography.  This style of photography generally departs from typical photography by involving softer focus, filters that diffuse light, or other techniques that blur the lines of precision in order to capture what is underneath, much like the 19th century painters did.

These particular pictures of mine simply use focus to simultaneously distort and highlight each spark.  Enjoy.

This is but a tiny sample of this project.  I have been doing creative firework photography of varying styles for about 6 years now, with at least 1000 pictures.  More to come in following posts.

All images under my copyright.

On Truth

•October 9, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Today I was “on the job” doing senior portraits and getting paaaaid.

Since I have quite a library of my unpublished art images I think I will use future posts to that purpose.

However today’s post is again philosophical in nature.  My last post leaned toward the metaphysic and existential branch of PHI, while this one will be more in the vein of analytics and epistemology.

My old college professor and advisor (hereafter known as Advisor Dude unless he consents to me using his real name) made a post on his blog/forum concerning truth.  You know, truth.  One of those big Philosophy things.  Of what is, to say that it is, justified belief and such.

One of the newer members, a “dvsbecks” replied:

Does truth even exist? What theory of truth defines truth? Looking though theories of truth, there seems to be a different problem with all the theories. What subjects does truth apply? Is Math truth or facts? Is Biology truth or facts?Do these subjects have truth in them? I do not know, because I cannot define truth. Where does capital T-Truth fit in all of this?

Now I have no interest in setting up Strawman arguments, and will not pretend that I think this person to be a master debater or logician.  It is just a simple position, a metanarrative of doubt(if you can believe in such things) that seems genuinely stated by someone who does not believe in truth or its truthiness.  Since I am a stalwart defender of said truth I had to craft a response that I, of course, kept incredibly sane and civil.

dvsbecks says…
Does truth even exist? What theory of truth defines truth?

I am fairly certain it does. I am partial to the inter-subjective theory of truth, though I also greatly enjoy [Advisor Dude]’s favorite hypostatic theory.

dvsbecks says…
Looking though theories of truth, there seems to be a different problem with all the theories.

Quite possibly, though that would seem to place the blame squarely on us philosophers rather than with truth itself. Simultaneously it seems to assume at least the possibility of a “true” theory of truth with which to compare existing theories.

dvsbecks says…
What subjects does truth apply?

“Any subject worth doing” was my off the cuff reply. I momentarily thought about the what the opposite would be like, but didn’t get far.

dvsbecks says…
Is Math truth or facts? Is Biology truth or facts?

Not sure what distinction is being made here. Can’t it be both at the same time?

dvsbecks says…
Do these subjects have truth in them? I do not know, because I cannot define truth.

Defining truth is certainly important but perhaps it isn’t the very first step. (Sorry [Advisor Dude] and Peter Kreeft hah!)
From Wittgenstein’s “On Certainty”:

“7. My life shows that I know or am certain that there is a chair over there, or a door, and so on. – I tell a friend e. g. “Take that chair over there”, “Shut the door”, etc. etc.
8. The difference between the concept of ‘knowing’ and the concept of ‘being certain’ isn’t of any great importance at all, except where “I know” is meant to mean: I can’t be wrong. ”

If you disagree, then what sort of world do you live in, and in what way do you live your life? What do these demonstrate?

dvsbecks says…
Where does capital T-Truth fit in all of this?

Instead of immediately subscribing to a hypostatic theory of truth, or Plato’s Forms, or something about justified belief, just consider :
The smaller truths can relate contingently to a necessary Truth. This sort of Truth is the condition that allows the world to be “this” sort of world(that is, allowing for truth and certainty), and lets us demonstrate in our lives that the world is “this” way.

I welcome comments.

First post!

•October 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

To explain a little bit about why I named this journal “The New Sanity”.  It is the name I use for my “band”(defined very loosely).  It sounds interesting and maybe even edgy.  But even more it reflects a theme in my philosophy that has become integral to who I am and what I believe.

Sanity is a wholeness, a person who has possession of their mind, emotionally and rationally intact.  Sanity is important mostly because it is a necessary condition for being truly happy.

My patron philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein said that “Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity.”  Specifically, he meant the activity of finding and clarifying the problems of language.  He also said, “the limits of language mean the limits of my world… The world and life are one.”

Mystic philosopher Will Smith expounds: “Our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, our ideas, are physical in the universe… That is a physical thrust toward realization that we can put into the universe.”  Both feel powerfully the intentionality of language, and by extension, our minds, as a irreducible link between our thoughts and the world.

To say it as clearly as I can: Our words become real.

But what about insanity?  If you can accept these propositions, wouldn’t a lack of clarity have to be physically harmful?  Lies and secrets and half truths infect those that tell and believe them, and if that cultural lack of truth is the underlying disease, then lack of sanity and happiness are the symptoms.  The most extreme symptom has to be suicide.  Whether it is literally because the world(refer to the Witt. definition above) is too insane for them, or if they just feel alone and perplexed in the crowd of humanity, roughly one million people per year find living in this world so miserable as to prefer death.  One is too many.

Since I think it really is a problem of language, I think philosophy can be one of the cures.  Certainly for some the sickness is more cerebral, able to be addressed through philosophy through the search for God, truth, and meaning.  For the more emotional scars it seems that it must be instead the language of grace and compassion.  To that end I simply have to try to be a kinder person.  It isn’t as easy as it sounds.

I don’t plan to make everything on this journal super deep and insightful but this is one of my strong motivations and to understand it is to understand the mind of a sane guy who still has delusions of saving the world, but is reasonable to know it still has to be one person at a time.

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