Since I’ve been gone

I’ve been fairly absent for like a week, so now you get treated to the quick update post.

Thanksgiving break happened. Yusuke came home with me and the dinner was just the parents and us. I think Yusuke fed himself better this year. The dinner was good. I like turkey.

Other than eating I hung out with Kim and Aaron a bit and watched a bunch of podcasts and TV shows. I watched all of Undergrads under recommendation from fairly trusted sources but didn’t like it. I don’t think I really loled once except on the episode I watched with Kim and Aaron, and that was mostly because of our jokes, not the show’s. /shrug

Since I’ve been back at school I’ve been working long hours on a Software Engineering presentation I gave today. We were the first group. I think our group did the best, and I did as well as can be expected for my part. Now we have this ridiculous design document due Friday we’ve got to work on. Once that’s done, and I finish up some crappy mundane assignments for Algorithms, all I have left is finals. Can go home on Thursday.

The other big news is photographed below. Merry Christmas to those who celebrate, and to those who don’t, please enjoy this arbitrary gift I give you.

this is what I looked like for a day
up to the minute facial hair status
proof of pants

All pictures taken by Aki. Miho would have gotten some up here, but she deleted hers. tsk tsk.

Running of the numbers

Jack in the Box has a handy nutrition facts calculator thing on their site so I have some figures to report. My meal last night, the one that nearly ended me, totaled 3197.6 calories, 174.2 grams of fat, 375.7 mg of cholesterol, and 4314.8 mg of sodium.

When I went to sleep I was in physical pain from that meal.  I was fine for hours afterwards, but it hit me at about midnight.  I couldn’t lay on my stomach.  I think all these years of moderation and sensibility have doomed me to a life without ridiculous excess.  I don’t know how people that do stupid things all the time keep it up.  Never again.  Although, the burger itself is undeniably delicious.

I may never eat again… *groan*

11/14/2008 8:00:00 PM Bacon Ultimate Cheseburger 1
11/14/2008 8:00:00 PM french fries, w/ ketchup, serving 1
11/14/2008 8:00:00 PM milkshake, egg nog 1

I got Dan, Yusuke, and Hiro to go to Jack in the Box and eat BUC’s with me. They all finished, they were good. I regret nothing! Someone please help me.

The ethics of killing babies

The value of life is, like most things, a continuum.  Coincidentally, the ethical ramifications of taking life is a continuum.  In this post I’m going to try to explain my ideas for how the ethical calculation should be made.  I think I’ve reached the conclusions I have through rational thought.

1. Life is good
I’m taking this to be an axiom.  If you disagree, uh… well, comment.
2. All life is not equal
This is obvious when comparing a bacterium to a human, but it raises the question of how life is valued.  There are three main factors in this calculation.

1. Quantity of life
This is fairly straight forward. The longer the organism lives, the more value on that life. So, all other things being equal, killing a young person is worse than killing an old person.
2. Type of life
This category is trickier. I argue that a bacterium is not less valuable than a man because a man is human, or because god says so, but because a bacterium lacks certain abilities. For example, a bacterium cannot feel pain, so killing a bacterium is not as bad as killing something than can feel pain, say, a human newborn, or a puppy. An organism that is not self aware would be less valuable than one that is. An organism that can have hopes and ambitions for itself is more valuable than one that cannot. These are just signposts on the continuum, and others could be added.  This category is the most important.
3. Relationship to others
A life is more valuable if it is valued by other life.  Murdering a pet dog is worse than murdering a stray, or a dangerous animal.  This means that those close to a person must be considered when deciding whether it’s ok to kill someone.  If the individual is of sound mind, they have the final say, but if they aren’t, then those close to the individual can make the decision.  If nobody is close to the individual, it falls to whatever organization society puts in charge… likely the government.
3. Quality of life can be measured
In order for these ethics to be applied, it has to be accepted that some measure of the quality of life can be taken, and standards can be set.

So why do I bring this up? First, I just like thinking about things, but mostly, it solves a lot of issues many people wrestle with. It also has some interesting implications.

Under this system, abortion is certainly legal. A fetus can’t feel pain for a few months, making it about equivalent to a bacterium, or a jellyfish, and there are no laws protecting them. Even after birth a baby is about the same a dog, so as long as it is killed humanely, it should be legal. Once a baby is self aware, it qualifies as a human with all the rights afforded, and cannot be killed ethically, barring special circumstances. This, of course, applies to anything alive, monkey’s, dolphins, aliens, not just human babies.

This frame of thought means assisted suicide, for any aged individual, is completely ok. If that individual judges its life not worth living, it is theirs to end. Obviously, one still needs to make sure the individual is not under any duress in making the decision.

It also provides guidelines for how to treat animals humanely.  Of course, it doesn’t solve all the problems.  There’s all kinds of ways we can disagree about what qualities of life matter more and how to measure the quality of life, but I think thinking about the subject with this mindset is better than what people currently do.  *shrug* Makes sense to me, anyway.

Blood

I donated blood today.  I just walked in between classes and was done in 40 minutes.  Fastest donation ever.  I took about 6 minutes with the needle in my arm, but the thing was pretty smooth.  I think it was about all I can expect from such a bureaucracy.  My blood pressure is just teetering above hypo-tension, in case you were curious.

I signed up for the marrow registry, as well.  I was the first one of the day, and apparently that’s the hard one cause after I was doing it basically everyone who saw me was doing it.

You all should donate blood and sign up for the marrow thing, like me.  I think if you think you have a belief, but won’t act on that belief, even when presented with an opportunity, you don’t really have that belief.  The belief in this case is that saving life is a good thing.  Are you a horrible person?

VLC and me

I just took a shower so... focus on the beard ladies.

The new version of VLC, the media player I use, has a new feature that allows audible play at increased and decreaseed speeds.  I’ve discovered I can listen to podcasts at 1.5x, and sometimes 2x, and still understand everything.  This is going to be such a time saver.