Archive for April, 2006


The Endless Forest is a strange piece of software (that can be a screensaver), where you control a deer in a, well, endless forest. And so do a bunch of other online players. And you can interact all you like with them – with the minor caveat that deer can’t talk.


Subject: Re: Graves’ “Greek Myths”
From: (Daniel Boese)
Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2006 11:27:28 +0000 (UTC)
Message-Id: <e2afj0$da0$>
Newsgroups: sjgames.chatter

On Fri, 21 Apr 2006 03:25:31 -0700, wren ng thornton
<> wrote:
> Daniel Boese wrote:

> > Should I simply go back to reading my copies of Robert Graves’
> > “The Greek Myths” and imagining a world where the island of
> > Sicily used to be a giant?
> Depends, what do you think of “The Greek Myths”? I haven’t read my
> copy in years.

Well, let’s see…

* A surprising amount of the first book seems to be taken up with
relatively dull “So-and-so ravished such-and-such, murdered her
father, and died in this-and-that a fashion”, in what seems to be a
parallel to the Old Testament’s “A begat B, who begat C”. (On the
other hand, it makes me want to put the whole thing into a digital
family-tree format – or possibly a Greek-Myth-Only Wikipedia. I’d also
like to see a globe-display program like GoogleEarth or NASA’s World
Wind annotated with all the place-names mentioned.) Now that I think
about it, though, many of the more memorable Greek myths are also of
this sort, only with the gods themselves instead of mortals (ie,
Zeus’s various amorous adventures).

* I like his bibliographic references; I’ve already skimmed some of
Ovid’s Metamorphoses, but now I have a whole library of texts to look
for and enjoy if I can find decent translations – and given that
they’re all well into the public domain đŸ™‚ , most of them should be

* As far as I can tell, Graves makes a better poet than a historian. I
appreciate his efforts in collating and translating all the myths in
their various versions… but I’m extremely hesitant to accept any of
what he says about myths as poeticized history without some other

Thank you for your time,

Daniel Boese, aka DataPacRat
“Why should I believe that?”


[ Current Mood | contemplativecontemplative ]

Subject: A random spectator’s theology
From: (Daniel Boese)
Date: Thu, 20 Apr 2006 17:30:57 +0000 (UTC)
Message-Id: <e28ggh$a71$>
Newsgroups: sjgames.chatter

The current thread(s) on Gibson’s “The Passion” has given me reason to
re-examine my own religious beliefs, and whether they need any updating.

Depending on which definitions are being used, I’m either an agnostic
or an atheist. I do not believe there is any supernatural power
outside of the laws of physics, or in a theological afterlife. (I’m
still hoping for a technological one, though; time travel seems to be
mostly ruled out, so my current hope is for a computer-simulated
re-creation of my mind.)

I use a very simple sentence to explain that [lack of] belief:
Whenever somebody presents me with some idea, whether it being aliens
crashing at Roswell, illuminated conspiracies, whether to buy Coke or
white-cranberry/strawberry juice (I rather like the latter), I ask myself:

“Why should I believe that?”

What reasons exist for me to believe the presented idea, rather than
to disbelieve it, or ignore it?

I’ve looked at cells through a microscope, and at stars through a
telescope. The periodic table and its chemistry work well enough to
make materials and pharmaceutical companies rich; quantum physics (of
some flavour or other) seem to do a good job explaining why that is.
I’ve used a GPS receiver, which uses the math of general relativity,
and they seem to work. In other words, the general process called
Science seems to work – which is a good enough answer to the above
“Why?”. (I’m not insisting that current theories are the be-all and
end-all, either; for example, the Heim-Droescher theory, though not
generally accepted, seems to do a better job of explaining the
universe as a cellular-automata-machine than string theory’s hazy branes.)

And then, we move to religion. The various faiths each make certain
claims, often contradictory – and whenever I ask “Why should I believe
/that/ claim?”, I have yet to find an answer that doesn’t suit some
other faith’s contradictory claim at least as well; in other words, I
reject the reasoning “because the Bible says so” unless I can also
accept the contradictory “because the Qur’an says so”, “because the
Torah says so”, “because the Vedas say so”, and “because the Iliad and
Odyssey say so”.

There is one claim that I don’t refute: “because of a personal
experience of God”. However, I’ve never had such an experience, so I
have to leave any debate over such experience to those who’ve had one,
and with neuroscientists who artificially induce such experiences.

Thus, I find much discussion on the details of religion – eg, whether
a certain semi-historical figure (possibly historical, possibly
mythical) had one thing happen to him or another, or had one attribute
or another – mainly of abstract interest, mostly sociological. (The
interest becomes somewhat sharper when such discussions are used to
justify a religion’s interference in my own life, or the lives of
other people; for example, a particular religion’s definition of what
is and isn’t a “person”.)

Relatedly, simply because I lack faith, doesn’t mean I lack an ethical
system. It just doesn’t necessarily share the same axioms as those of
a religious person. And, oddly, even based on a purely rational
selfishness, what I consider ethical behaviour often closely matches
up with what many religious people consider good. (“If #DEITY says
something is wrong, is it wrong because #DEITY said so, or because
it’s wrong in and of itself? If it’s because #DEITY said so, would it
then be right if #DEITY were to say it was? If it’s wrong in and of
itself, then why do we need #DEITY to tell us it’s wrong?”)

(For an example of a non-religious ethical system, feel free to browse
the one described at .)

So… have I written any of the above poorly enough to be unclear? Is
anybody actually still reading this message, or have I put you all to
sleep? Have I missed any reasons to believe in one religion that don’t
apply to contradictory religions? Should I simply go back to reading
my copies of Robert Graves’ “The Greek Myths” and imagining a world
where the island of Sicily used to be a giant?

Thank you for your time,

Daniel Boese, aka DataPacRat
“Why should I believe that?”


[ Current Mood | nerdynerdy ]

A friend of mine expressed an interest in my daily browsing, and it took me a little while to note down all the details of my daily newsfeed. It was something I should have done anyway, though, in case this machine crashes.

Anyway – here’s everything I’d need to re-create my daily newsfeed on another computer, only slightly edited to remove a couple of personal details. Note that the ‘**’ entries can be considered a ‘Worst of the Web’ – is only the beginning, and I have something of a horrified fascination with the topic that you probably don’t share.


Software Installed:
Extensions installed ( ):
BugMeNot – Generates login/passwords for online newspapers that require them

Adblock – keeps most ads invisible
Adblock Filterset.G Updater – auto-downloads a set of filters for adblock
NoScript – Keeps javascript from running, unless specifically whitelisted
Image Zoom
Colorful Tabs
Additional filters installed into Filterset.G Updater: (copy following text block into a text file, then ‘import’ it. Or just enter each one manually.)

Other software:
FeedReader 2.9 (3.0 seems buggy), see below
AVG Free, virus scanner


DataPacRat’s Daily Newsfeed:
**: Adult content

Email (via a Gmail account):
Google News Alerts: News, Once per Day:
“amateur radio” OR “ham radio”
“ancient egypt”
“canadian space agency”
“hudson bay company”
“james randi”
“lawrence seaway”
“oak island” AND (scotia OR ns)
“st. catharines” -lacrosse -hockey -basketball -baseball -football -soccer -sports -tennis -softball
** bestiality
boese -basketball
** brothel OR brothels OR bordello OR bordellos
burkhard heim
Dröscher gravity
gravitophoton OR gravito-photon OR gravitophotons
niagara -basketball -baseball -football -soccer -hockey -sports -tennis -lacrosse -softball
possum OR possums OR opossum OR opossums
** prostitution
welland -peterborough
Other mailing lists:

Web (using Firefox):
Daily Part 1: Comics (placed in a Bookmark folder, and opened all at once by selecting ‘open in tabs’):
Daily Part 2: WebComics:
Daily Part 3: Other:
Daily: Gaming
Other links (not necessarily Daily)

RSS (using FeedReader, ):
Top News:
Big Sci:
Big Tech:
Misc (not in folders):

Google Calendar Subscribed Calendars:
UN Holidays:
Canadian Holidays
Christian Holidays:
Jewish Calendar
Nasa History:
Pagan Days:
Space Calendar (JPL):
Wiccan Calendar:
World Holidays