Sunday, February 24, 2013

By The Numbers 8/52

Now for week 8

Net cash gain: $171.14
a big asterisk on this week. Issues with my iphone caused me to have to reset it, which caused me to lose the data in the app I use to keep track of my finances. I've put all the data back in, but the bank records date things by when the transaction is processed rather than when the transaction actually occurred, which means the dates before and after the reset won't exactly match, hence the asterisk. From now on making a back up will be a part of process of preparing this weekly write up
Jobs applied for: 0

Net Calories: -2802 Calories
Weight: 99kg
Fitocracy points: 84
Fitocracy level: 6
Yeah, I slacked off this week

Bike Riding: 354km
Books read: 0
I didn't even make any progress on Mr Gatling's Terrible Marvel this week.
Darts: 501 in 40 rounds. I need to work on accuracy, since 21 rounds trying to go out on 7 and then 2 is just plain terrible, especially since it only took 19 rounds to that point.
Board games played: 0
An early start on Saturday meant no Critical Mass on Friday night, and there was no other gaming this week.

Monday, February 18, 2013

By The Numbers 7/52

Still going seven weeks in. At the very least, this is the longest I've stuck with an attempted self improvement process, so that's some progress right there. But now for the bits that really count. I'm late for this entry but I had a really bad headache last night so only did the working things out bit but skipped writing it up until now.

Net Cash gain: $532.30
The greater part of this is because I got a final payout from the NOVA bankruptcy process. Excluding that, a modest surplus for the week.
Jobs applied for: 0

Net Calories: -3288
Weight: 100kg
A change!
Fitocracy points: 336
Fitocracy level: 6

Bike riding: 433km
Books read: 0
Darts: 501 in 25 rounds
I had a hard time going out on 7
Board games played: 4
Glory to Rome, The Pillars of the Earth, Nefarious, and Twilight Imperium

Philosophy 101 With EsonLinji

I'm currently taking a few online courses through Coursera one of which is Introduction to Philosophy. The following are a few of my thoughts on the topics from week two, which focused on epistemology. Since the lecture had two main parts, so to will I split this into two corresponding parts.

A few general statements first. Epistemology is looking at the question of what is knowledge and how do we know what we know (and how do we know how we know what we know (and how do we know how we know how we know what we know (and so on and so on))). My science and analytic background makes me take a very empirical view of such things (which is part of why I've tended to not look so favourably on philosophy and related disciplines. This will become very significant in the second part).

So, what is knowledge? What does it mean to know something? The initial idea that was presented was that knowledge is a belief that is true and for which there is a justifiable reason for being true. Notwithstanding a certain unease at the use of the word believe (while here they are using it to mean "an idea of how the world is" too many discussions with religious types who use it as "an idea of how the world is without explaining why" has led me to try and avoid the word. If more people used it in the first sense and then tried to justify their beliefs, I'd be happier using it), this seems to be a reasonable definition.

Unfortunately, the lecturer then went on to shoot down this definition, by poking what was considered to be a big hole in the justifiable reason part of the definition. This was done by setting up scenarios where what one believes is true, and you think you have a justified reason for believing it, but that justified reason is not true. A few amendments to the definition were considered, but suffer from the same flaw.

Now, in my arrogance, I'm going to try and do what philosophers for the last half century or so haven't been able to do, and see if I can come up with a definition of what is knowledge (or at least one that works for me). Let's consider a few important points

To know something it must be true. I can know 30 Rock is a TV show starring Tina Fey because this is true. I can't know that it is a TV show that went for 10 seasons because this is not true (however much I'd like it to be). I can think it went for 10 seasons, I can believe it, but I can't know it. So truth is essential.

All my next ideas were all just trying to finesse the justification side of things, and since a long checklist of things doesn't seem that satisfying, I'm going to throw out a new idea and see how it goes.

Knowledge is Understanding based on Meaningful Applied Data. Nope, that's Justified True Belief in different words. Dammit. This is trickier than I thought.

Actually, I like the Justified True Belief idea. The tricks they used to poke holes in that idea don't seem big enough to throw the whole thing out, more requiring more care in what can be considered a justification for a belief. So let's go with a Justified True Belief that is subject to revision as more information is learned (You can see the science background there)

The second part was on Radical Skepticism. The position of the Radical Skeptic is that since we can't be sure we're not just brains in a jar being fed sensations, a la The Matrix, we can't really be sure of anything. This I find less than satisfying mainly because it is a theory that makes no testable claims and in science when you put forward a theory that makes no testable claims you get a pat on the head and asked to come back when you do have some testable claims, and if you build your theory to completely avoid testable claims, well don't even bother. So the whole brain in the jar scenario being reason to doubt our ability to know just doesn't fly. If we have two possibilities as to how the world works, we don't just decide we can't know anything. We find out which one it is and build up from there. The Radical Skeptic is a defeatist position.

That's it for now. The next set of lectures is on Minds, so I'll probably have something I disagree with there I'll want to write about.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

By the Numbers 6/52

February continues apace. Let's see how I did.

Net cash gain: $301.33
Yay. I can haz cash. Actually, I can pay off credit cardz. A bit. But a good result. I should buy cheap microwave meals for lunch more often.
Jobs Applied for: 0
Yeah, I need to do more. If I say that enough, I might actually do it.

Net Calories: -3702
A good result after the last two weeks. It seems like the key to not eating is not to buy food to be eaten.
Weight: 103kg
Fitocracy points: 106
Watching Coursera lectures while using the treadmill is a winning combo.
Fitocracy level: 6

Bike Riding: 355km
Books read: 0
Still going on Mr Gatling's Terrible Marvel
Darts: 501 in 21 rounds. Too many shots on the edge of the board.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

By the Numbers 5/52

Another week gone, and now we're into February

Net cash gain: -$8.76
So it turns out the overtime I did last week during the floods neatly covered most of my periodic bills (phone and health insurance) and working late shifts meant I spent more on meals while at work.
Jobs applied for: 0

Net Calories: 23
Too many takeaway for dinners, but finishing work at 9pm makes it too tempting to have something during my half hour break at around 5:30-6ish.
Weight: 103kg
Fitocracy Points: 37
Once again, about half the previous weeks score. I need to fix this.
Fitocracy Level: still 6
Blood Loss: 470ml
I gave blood. You can to.

Bike Riding: 281km
I caught the bus on Friday as I gave blood and I figured a motorbike was probably one of those things they recommend against operating on the same day. That and my bike already being at work on Monday make for less riding during the week.
Books read: 1
Finally finished A Game of Thrones. I've now started a book I got last year on my way to Bordercon, Mr Gatling's Terrible Marvel
Darts: 501 in 19 rounds, including 3 where I went over the remaining score