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Randal Auditor | joined 30 March 2005 | 140 posts


What happens when your soul leaves your body? posted 10 October 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionWhat happens when your soul leaves your body? by Randal, Auditor

What happens when your soul leaves your body?

It gets eaten by a Grue.

...

...

Sorry. I don't rightly know why I posted that. view post


New wotmania Interview with Scott, Part I posted 09 November 2005 in Interviews and ReviewsNew wotmania Interview with Scott, Part I by Randal, Auditor

You know, I usually enjoy reading interviews for the insights they provide in the author and his works.

With Bakker, though, they make me question the basic assumptions of my life.

And pets are little people. Really! I'm convinced of it! <!-- s:? --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_confused.gif" alt=":?" title="Confused" /><!-- s:? --> view post


Reveiw of The Last Kingdom - Bernard Cornwell posted 25 January 2006 in ReviewsReveiw of The Last Kingdom - Bernard Cornwell by Randal, Auditor

Whilst I loved Bernard Cornwell's Arthurian series, I don't think this one was quite up to par. Not necessarily written worse, mind. But it felt way too similar to the Arthur series. The main character in particular resembled Derfel a lot.

I find this to be something of a problem with much of Cornwell's work. It gets derivative of itself. Only the Warlord Chronicles transcended this and became truly good in it's own right.

Oh, and can a moderator please delete the preceding spam post? view post


His Dark Materials series posted 25 January 2006 in Literature DiscussionHis Dark Materials series by Randal, Auditor

I did, some years ago. Even though it's supposed to be a children's book, it's one of the better written and more thoughtful works of fantasy literature out there and I liked it a lot.

The first book especially was a marvel of atmosphere and characterisation. In the later two though, Pullman's agenda started to dominate, and this in my mind detracted from the series as a whole. Even though I liked the theme, a more subtle approach would have been better, I think. Still, a very good series. The ending to the final book was very sad and moving. view post


What book or book series reminds you most of PON posted 08 February 2006 in Off-Topic DiscussionWhat book or book series reminds you most of PON by Randal, Auditor

No, the main difference between these two characters would be their character.

Whilst some of their circumstances may be vaguely similar, there couldn't be two more different people in the world. Aragorn is dutiful, honourable, proud, noble, goody-goody. He seems to have little motivation or character in the book, mostly because he's meant to be an archetype and is only seen from the outside. (The whole Arwen story only features in the appendix)

Kellhus is... rational, a genius, callous, cold, ruthless. He doesn't have a kind bone in his body, or an honourable one. He will do anything, anything at all to achieve his goal. Had Kellhus found the ring... do you honestly think he wouldn't have used it? He'd have trusted to his Dunyain conditioning to resist the mindcontrol, and who knows, he might have succeeded.

(Note: this assessment of Kellhus is pre-TTT, as I haven't read that yet. Maybe he changes. I doubt it, though.) view post


Drugs posted 13 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionDrugs by Randal, Auditor

I've solved many problems in dreams. If I dream, everything becomes clear. I can be the cleverest man in the world. The solutions jump from my fingertips without the slightest effort.

And then I wake up, and I discover all those marvellous solutions I thought up make about as much sense as tax law.

Although I've never used drugs, I suspect your solutions were of the same ephemeral quality, even if you had been able to remember them. I suppose an artist could create something whilst stoned. Apparently, Coleridge wrote his Kublai Khan whilst under the influence of opium, and never finished it when the buzz wore off. But I doubt more... practical issues can be solved by using such &quot;geestverruimende middelen&quot;. (litterally, mind-enlarging substances. Though mind-blowing might also be appropriate) view post


ignorance or enlightenment ? posted 17 March 2006 in Philosophy Discussionignorance or enlightenment ? by Randal, Auditor

I'd rather have the knowledge than the ignorance. But conversely, I'd rather not be depressed either.

Hmm... If I was certain the knowledge would make me depressed forever and it wouldn't help me do anything about the problems, I think I'd opt for ignorance.

Fortunately, for me having knowledge of how the world sucks doesn't lead to depression. (I just don't care enough, I guess. Too distant a pain.) The person who gets depressed forever when he knows how bad things are isn't me. So, in real life I'd chose knowledge, and deal with the consequences. view post


Do you believe a God exists? posted 17 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionDo you believe a God exists? by Randal, Auditor

because, his existance, and the status of Jesus as his son, simply makes sense(ask me why, I dare you)


Why? <!-- s:twisted: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_twisted.gif" alt=":twisted:" title="Twisted Evil" /><!-- s:twisted: -->


As for the division between believers/nonbelievers rather than between good people and bad people deciding one's fate after death... that's one interpretation of Christianity I could never subscribe to even if I did believe in the truth of their teachings. It just strikes me as an unjust us-against-them mentality... it doesn't really bother me, as to me it's just a tale, but I don't really like the people who tend to subscribe to ideas like this either. view post


Nuclear Power posted 17 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionNuclear Power by Randal, Auditor

Windmills are butt-ugly, they really ruin the landscape. They're not a very reliable source of power either, you'll still need a backup powerplant for when there isn't any wind. You also need tons of them for our modern power needs.

Solar energy seems like a better bet to me... they're already making cells that during daylight hours even if it's clouded or rainy. Not economically viable yet, but we're getting there. Less ugly, too.

Nuclear energy seems like the best bet for the moment, but I just read about a M.I.T. report that concluded nuclear power shouldn't be used at the moment, or only used in the least efficient way possible with un-enriched unranium, because they fear terrorists getting their hands on plutionium otherwise...

That makes no sense whatsoever to me. Surely we can't let our economy be crippled by the sheer potential of a terrorist attack? And surely even if we don't build uranium enriching plants, people could get plutionium from Russia or somewhere? view post


Do you believe a God exists? posted 17 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionDo you believe a God exists? by Randal, Auditor

EoC: I suppose that answers my question... sort of.

I'll agree that having faith in something won't hurt. (unless it's used to justify crimes/hate/discrimination/whatever) Not sure it's a positive trait either, though that's neither here nor there.

But I couldn't for the life of me understand it. Sure, have faith in something. But how the hell would one do that? If you offered me a billion euros if I'd just believe in god, or Zeus, or psychic powers, or anything... I couldn't. I wouldn't even know where to begin. It boggles my mind, really, this concept of faith. Intellectually accepting the possibility of some &quot;prime mover&quot; godlike being is one thing, but I can't actually believe anything supernatural exists unless someone shows me at least some half-decent evidence.

I seem to recall some research that indicated that religiosity is (at least in part) a hereditary trait. If that's so, I ended up without any of it. Can't say that I mind, though the concept of religion does intrigue me to no end just because it's so unfathomable to me. view post


Nuclear Power posted 17 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionNuclear Power by Randal, Auditor

I'd argue oil actually is one of the greatest energy sources out there... you can simply pump it up from the ground and burn it! Cheap, reliable, effective, versatile, used in thousands of chemicals and synthethic materials... oil's the greatest thing since the invention of alcohol! If anything gave us the world we have now... it's oil.

Our civilisation is distinguished from previous ones by one thing only: we no longer rely for our power needs on the muscle of man and beast. All else is contingent. And oil is what made it happen.

Problem is, we're running out. If not for that one, our economy would continue to be oil-based for centuries. Unless they finally get the fushion thang working. view post


How did you get your username? posted 17 March 2006 in Off-Topic DiscussionHow did you get your username? by Randal, Auditor

Perhaps because &quot;enforcer&quot; doesn't sound like a traditional femine profession? Gramatically speaking it may be gender-neutral, but I do not think the connotations are. (yet?) It's like &quot;cop.&quot; One sees plenty of female police officers on the streets nowadays, but if someone says &quot;cop&quot; most people will still think of a man.

The same goes for Xray. X-ray = science = male. It may not be pretty, but such still is the popular perception.

As for my name... take a wild guess. view post


Do you believe a God exists? posted 18 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionDo you believe a God exists? by Randal, Auditor

I didn't know that was such a rare word... sounded right. (then again, English isn't my native language)

As for faith... there are a few things I believe that have no real rational basis. (okay, probably more than a few if I take a real close look.) But I don't think stuff like putting money on the bank is &quot;having faith.&quot; Yes, the bank can fold, but that happens very, very rarely. Banks like these have existed for a century or more without problems, and if they were threatening to collapse there would be warnings. It's possible something unexpected will happen and all the money will dissappear. But it's not very likely, so it's more sensible to put the money on the bank for the sake of convenience and interest than it is to keep it in an old sock under your pillow. After all, there are risks no matter what you do, the house might burn down or get burgled. The bank poses the safest option.

But for other things, yes, there is stuff I take on faith. I believe people are to be trusted, untill they prove otherwise. I believe in progress. I believe our current world is better than the one of a hundred years ago, and that the one in a hundred years will be better still. I believe altruism is worthwile in and of itself, without any external incentive. I believe these things and more, not because of any real evidence that shows them to be so, but because I think the world is a better place to live in if people believe things like these, and because the alternatives are either a scepticism so extreme it's crippling, or another set of equally unwarranted assumptions. I'll chose the optimistic ones, in such a case.

Still, none of that enables me to suspend disbelief far enough to accept the existence of God, or Zeus, or psychics, or government conspiracies. view post


Nuclear Power posted 18 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionNuclear Power by Randal, Auditor

What the hell is saint Patrick's day anyway? Even google went all green and fuzzy...

Anyway, anti-matter is a nice dream, but for the moment no more than that, I think. From what I recall, laboratories can produce one or two atoms and hold them stable in extremely strong electromagnetic fields only. There's no way to generate the stuff that doesn't take more energy than it would produce, and no way to store it in a usable form, as far as I'm aware. (of course, this is from the top of my head and may be completely wrong)

Fusion is a better bet, I think. It may not have a 100% conversion rate, but it's plenty good regardless. Deuterium isn't a rare resource, fusion power would keep the light bulbs lit well past the next millennium.

As for oil causing pollution... well, not as much as coal. And we're making far less polluting engines nowadays than we did three decades ago. (except in America, where everyone still drives gas-guzzling tanks for no good reason I can discern...) view post


Do you believe a God exists? posted 18 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionDo you believe a God exists? by Randal, Auditor

Shh, not so loud. The evil black helicopters are listening.

Anyway, on the big bang I think you're missing the point, slightly. Nobody ever said it's the &quot;author of life&quot; or something. It did not &quot;create life&quot; either. Rather, a better way to state things would be:

The evidence we currently have seems to indicate that the universe, as we know it, began with what is commonly called the &quot;big bang.&quot;

The big bang is the beginning of the universe, it didn't create anything, it doesn't explain where we come from or where we're going. It's simply something important that happened a long time ago. (quite literally, at the beginning of time.) It's the &quot;how&quot; rather than the &quot;why.&quot; Science doesn't answer &quot;why&quot;.

As for the the odds of creating life being astronomical... well, how do you know that? It seems quite likely to me that given the size of the universe and the time it has existed, the odds of creating life are pretty good. We haven't quite recreated life yet in our laboratories, but we're getting there. I would be very much surprised if there were no alien life forms in different part of the universe.

And anyway, even if the odds were small, that doesn't prove there's a guiding principle behind it. Sometimes things happen against the odds. Or perhaps there were a couple billion universes before this one with no life in them, only we don't know that because there was nothing to observe them.

What came before the big bang? Now, that's where science calls it a day, shrugs, and admits total ignorance. There are a couple of hypotheses out there, I believe. Superstring theory posits something existing prior to the big bang, iirc. But I'm very hazy on this, and anyway that superstring stuff is about as esotheric as science gets.

At this point in the discussion, I say we don't know, and possibly cannot know. Maybe in a few centuries someone will come up with a good explanation... maybe.

Thing is, adding &quot;god&quot; or a &quot;prime mover&quot; to the equation doesn't help answer this question. It merely replaces the difficult question &quot;what came before the big bang&quot; with the equally impossible &quot;where does god come from&quot;.

And even if that question somehow doesn't bother you, this is the god of the gaps. The big bang may be the biggest gap we have, but saying Goddidit just because we can't find another explanation isn't very sensible, in my opinion. It didn't work for explaining thunderstorms or earthquakes, and it probably won't work here either. view post


Readers Choice Awards posted 18 March 2006 in Author Q &amp; AReaders Choice Awards by Randal, Auditor

Huzzah!

I'll quote Stegoking from over on the Westeros forum:

&quot;Scott Bakker is the best kept secret in speculative fiction.&quot;

Hopefully, this means the tide is changing. view post


Eddings posted 19 March 2006 in Literature DiscussionEddings by Randal, Auditor

Sophie on the Westeros forum:

I read an Eddings book once. From what I recall, the book can be summed up thus: &quot;Reformed thief achieves nirvana after having sex with his cat&quot;.
It was called 'The Redemption of Althalus&quot;. I don't think 'Althalus' was the cat.


I've read a few of Eddings books a long time ago (okay, not that long a time ago really) and they were quite funny and entertaining. But the writing itself isn't that good, nor is the characterisation and the plots repeat themselves. Nowadays I would never spend time on an Eddings book, nor will I ever re-read one.

As for worldbuilding... well, let's just say that Eddings' non-fiction book on this subject was rates amongst the most hiliarious things I've ever read... unintentionally. It's so contrived it becomes silly.

Edited to fix tags and spelling. view post


Needing some good suggestions. posted 20 March 2006 in Literature DiscussionNeeding some good suggestions. by Randal, Auditor

Most of the truly good fantasy series have been mentioned, besides Robin Hobb. Her Farseer trilogy is truly one of the greats. It shines the most in the characterisation department, and doesn't have as much action or pyrotechnics as Bakker (and not nearly as much as Erikson, thank god.)

As for Erikson... I like the books well enough, but I understand the mixed reviews. He's big on the very powerful characters and super-powered battles with gods and all, and armies being killed by individuals. This turns some people off. Besides that, his characterisation is fairly weak and his plotting is sometimes confusing, though both of those are getting better in later books. view post


Eddings posted 20 March 2006 in Literature DiscussionEddings by Randal, Auditor

The worldbuilding... decent?

All the nations are based on one &quot;trademark&quot;. One is a copy of the Roman empire and has sneaky politics. One is all merchants. One is all noble knights and opressed serfs. And characters from those nations are simply examples of the stereotypes used to establish the nation's character.

Sorry, I call the worldbuilding bad. The books have their positive traits, but worldbuilding is not it. view post


Do you believe a God exists? posted 20 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionDo you believe a God exists? by Randal, Auditor

Made sense to me, and I agree with what you said.

Though some of the more far-out hypothesises actually do say something about existence prior to the Big Bang. Superstring theory, I believe. (But I don't know jack about that.) It's not much more than speculation, though. view post


Poll: What would you be in prince of nothing? posted 21 March 2006 in Off-Topic DiscussionPoll: What would you be in prince of nothing? by Randal, Auditor

In all likelyhood, I'd be a penniless peasant toiling my life away in some three-hovel village in the middle of nowhere. Even more likely, I'd have died at birth.

But if I can choose, things get more interesting. Hmm... schoolmen have all this power, tempting. The more intellectual pursuits would also be more suitable for schoolmen. But the part where you are tainted and branded a sinner doesn't really suit me. Nor do the power struggles and the inter-faction wars.

I'd probably choose to be a relatively minor noble somewhere. Rich enough to live comfortably and do as I please, insignificant enough not to get pulled under in some political game.

Edit: I voted royalty as that's closest, but I wouldn't actually want to be royalty. Too many threats, and I don't care for having that much responsibility either. view post


Do you believe a God exists? posted 21 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionDo you believe a God exists? by Randal, Auditor

Pfff. That won't offend anyone. There are plenty of people in this thread who have stated something to similar effect. At worst, you'll get people who disagree with you.

I don't, except perhaps possibly about the metaphysics part. &quot;Truths that can be realised by thinking about them&quot; sounds a bit vague to me to warrant the label &quot;truths.&quot; Me, I'd define it as &quot;stuff we can only speculate about&quot; view post


Transhumanism and Genetic Engineering posted 21 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionTranshumanism and Genetic Engineering by Randal, Auditor

Why on earth shouldn't it be right? I mean, it will help people, it will hurt no people, (barring the inevitable mishaps and screwups, but those also happen with regular medicine and when you cross the road in rush hour.) so what can one possibly say against it? (apart from religious arguments.)

There are risks involved, certainly. Careful testing and being pretty damn sure just what the gene therapy is going to do before applying are mandatory. But again, this goes for anything in the medical sciences.

Frankly, I don't see the problem with making superhumans either, if that is at all possible. Using genetic manipulation to make everybody smarter? Stronger? Healthier? Sounds great to me. What's the downside? Humans aren't the be-all end-all of life on earth. We're just one stop along the road of evolution, and there are quite a few flaws with the product so far. Some &quot;intelligent design&quot; would go a long way towards rectifying that. (if you pardon the very lame pun.)

Genetics is the next big frontier. In the nineteenth century, it was chemistry and mechanics. In the twentieth, the massive step was electronics and computers. In the twentyfirst, we'll master the art of genetic manipulation, and gain control over life like we never had before. view post


Transhumanism and Genetic Engineering posted 22 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionTranshumanism and Genetic Engineering by Randal, Auditor

Whilst that is true, it also applies to almost any other innovation. How many medicines turned out to have additional side effects years after their introduction? How many years did scientists work with radium before they discovered the dangers of radioactivity? How many decades did we burn coal and oil before the ecological effects became apparent?

The bottom line is that there are definitely risks involved in genetic engineering, as there is in any other new technology. We should certainly do our utmost to test these things and make them safe. But we cannot let the fear of possible future dangers cripple us into inaction. If something does come up in the future, surely people will then be able to discover a solution. view post


Transhumanism and Genetic Engineering posted 23 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionTranshumanism and Genetic Engineering by Randal, Auditor

I hadn't though of that, interesting. It's certainly possible that genetic engineering will further increase the differences between the rich and the poor if the rich are actually genetically enchanced by their parents.

But I think this will not be a radical departure from the status quo. Right now, the upper class already has the advantage because their children receive better education, better nourishment. They already have a higher average intelligence than the lower classes, I suspect.

In our current society, we try to combat this through systems like public schooling and scholarship grants. There's also the principle of equality before law, flawed though it may be in practice.

Similar devices would have to be employed for the protection of the non-genetically enhanced in the future. Even so, it is possible this would cause far more bitter class struggles than we currently have. There's also the possibility of a religious backlash. All in all, increased inequality is a downside to genetical engineering, yes.

Still, I don't think such troubles would last more than a couple of generations, nor do I think our current equal law system would collapse into a genetic caste society. view post


The problem of evil posted 26 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Randal, Auditor

The second one doesn't cut it, because it has &quot;omnibenevolent&quot; in the description. This makes for circular reasoning.

Why is it good? Because god wants it, and god is good. Why is god good? Because he does good things.

So, if one can't use this argument to determine that god is &quot;good&quot;, it again becomes a matter of complete arbitrariness. Why is god good? Because.

I also disagree slightly with your first statement. In a deterministic/materialistic/naturalistic/whatever universe with no ruling god, there isn't &quot;no meaningful answer to the problem of evil.&quot; Rather, the &quot;problem of evil&quot; simply doesn't excist because it's perfectly logical that &quot;good&quot; things happen to &quot;bad&quot; people and vice versa if there's nothing in the universe that cares and the concepts themselves are made up by man. view post


Transhumanism and Genetic Engineering posted 26 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionTranshumanism and Genetic Engineering by Randal, Auditor

Yes, it does tend to keep the gap intact. But I doubt anything will ever break that down completely. Even when the communists in russia tried they ended up with stalinism instead.

Then again, the division between the rich and the poor is much bigger in some places than in others. Here in Europe, things aren't so bad. Are you from the states? If so, that would go some way towards explaining our different outlooks as regarding this subject, I suspect. view post


The problem of evil posted 27 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Randal, Auditor

Re: Peter

I disagree even more strongly with your idea that Good is arbitrary without god to define it.


I agree. I didn't state my point very clearly, I'm afraid. I believe good and evil are concepts thought up by man, but they're not arbitrary concepts.

Rather, I meant that if &quot;good&quot; is defined as things god does, good is abitrary with god to define it. See below.

Re: Wil


I think this isn't entirely fair. the idea that what God decides as good is good is not necessarily circular, after all it might simply be a property of God's that what he designates as something is that thing. So, God decides that charity is good, then it is good. God decides that what he does is good, then it is too. The circularity only works if we assume that it is good that God defines what is good before He decides that it is so.


This is more or less what I meant, but I didn't state it very clearly. My first statement is mistaken, it should have been &quot;this makes for either circular reasoning, or makes morality completely arbitrary.&quot;

The reasoning only is circular if one answers the question &quot;why is god good?&quot; with &quot;because he does good things.&quot; In other words, if morality is defined by god, one cannot define god by using that same morality.

To take your example: morality is defined by god. God decides charity is good, so it is good. But what if he had decided that charity is evil? That cruelty is good? By your definition, he can do that. Charity would be evil, cruelty good.

This means morality becomes arbitrary if it is defined merely by God's will.

If god bases his decisions on morality not on his whims but on other arguments, then morality is no longer defined by god. It is based on whatever arguments god used in formulating his decisions.

So, if one defines &quot;good&quot; as &quot;stuff god does&quot; one either has to use a circular argument, or make &quot;good&quot; and &quot;evil&quot; arbitrary concepts based on nothing but god's whim.

Therefore, whether or not God exists I do not believe he defines morality. At the most, he will be comparable to a lawmaker, but laws are based on morality, not the other way around. God would have to obey the principles of good and evil just like the rest of us. (though he'd undoubtedly be much better at it, with the omniscience and all.) view post


The problem of evil posted 27 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by Randal, Auditor

Because for many the definition of good and evil includes god.

Anyway, selfishness-selflessness doesn't encompass the whole of what we see as &quot;good&quot; or &quot;evil.&quot; Many selfish things aren't evil, they're just not nice. In fact, arguments can be made that all human action is inherently selfish, and that supposed &quot;altruistic&quot; acts in fact are done to please oneself at another level. view post


Transhumanism and Genetic Engineering posted 28 March 2006 in Philosophy DiscussionTranshumanism and Genetic Engineering by Randal, Auditor

I strongly doubt that. Different culture, absolutely. Different prejudices. But we have them just the same. Last year, my countrymen were burning down schools and mosques after one filmmaker got murdered by a fanatic... how's that for enlightenment? Our government is mostly ineffective, our healthcare is collapsing under it's own weight. Different problems, but there all the same.

Re: Virus

I believe nature knows best. To circumvent the long process of evolution which cultivates the noble and strong-willed for a prepackaged version is an insult both to nature and mankind.


I disagree with this one. Evolution is very effective at achieving its own goals, which is creating lifeforms that are good at reproducing. Humans take the top spot here, as evidenced by current overpopulation problems.

But, as those same overpopulation problems prove, evolution is flawed too. It doesn't adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. Due to the ways it works it is unable to solve problems in the most efficient way, it can only take small steps. Problems that do not directly influence reproductive capability remain unadressed.

Evolution creates rugged, jury-rigged organisms. But a smart engineer with the proper tools in a controlled environment like the one we live in can do a whole lot better. We're busy developing those tools.

I strongly doubt genetic engineering would make people less responsible. No matter how good your genes, you still need to learn and to work hard to get anywhere. Talent is useless if not applied. Nor would it affect &quot;mate selection&quot;, since people don't chose their &quot;mates&quot; based on their genes anyway. And there's still nurture versus nature.... no matter how good the gene make-up, without a good education and good parenting the child won't get far.

I fail to see the relevance of abortion and crack binge sex to this debate.

Finally, I agree with Dawnstorm that evolution doesn't cultivate the &quot;strong willed and noble&quot;. It cultivates the smart and the rapid-breeding. Are rats strong-willed and noble? Are cockroaches?

Society will always favour the strong-willed. Education and upbringing will always have to instill the ideals of nobility. Evolution has precious little to do with this. view post


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