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Library of Alexandria

June 18, 2013

Programming, Artificial Intelligence, and Minecraft: Post 1 - The Dirt/Grass Cycle



I have always had a strong interest in artificial intelligence, simulated life, simulated worlds, and video games. Unfortunately, I have never really had the patience to sit down and learn to program beyond the classic "Hello World" program in C++.

My plan is to outline my ideas regarding AI and simulated environments in as much detail as I can in hopes that it will inspire and encourage me to actually take the steps needed to begin making it a reality.  If nothing else then maybe someone with more skills than I have will read my ideas and reach out to me about working together to make it happen.

I have decided to start this whole thing within the game world of minecraft.  I think that this provides an existing framework that is simple enough to be able to start a project like this really small and yet is complex enough to allow for me to slowly build some really complex interactions if I can actually begin figuring this all out and get things going. Also, it is a platform that has a huge modding community and plenty of resources for me to examine and learn from as I figure this all out.
Click here to read more!! »

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June 12, 2013

Effects Of Chewing On Alertness, Attention, and Cognitive Processing Speed



I saw these two articles about an interesting effect I was completely unaware of. I figured some people might find it worthwhile to try out.

These findings appear to indicate that the simple act of chewing has a positive effect on alertness and attention as well as an effect on motor control. As a result these effects could lead to improvements in cognitive performance, particularly measures of cognitive processing speed. 

Click here to read more!! »

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Monster Warlord: Dungeon Information


Level 166 as of 6/18/2013 add me @ 509 842 0904
Post your codes in the comments! 

I am sure that many of you, like myself, are waiting in eager anticipation for the Dungeon based update to Monster Warlord.  Earlier this week GAMEVIL finally released some concrete information about what this update will entail and it looks like it is going to be interesting. The following is taken right from the Monster Warlord Facebook account.

Click here to read more!! »

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June 2, 2013

You are not being effectively represented in Congress by your elected official - We need to increase our representatives to historically proportionate levels



You are not being effectively represented in Congress by your elected official. Even assuming a best case scenario in terms of integrity and effectiveness, no matter how hard your congressional representative there is simply no way. If we break down the numbers, this is not at all surprising.

1790 was the first congressional appointment based on a census.  There were 105 representatives for the estimated 3,579,638 people in the united states. Even if we are super generous and ignore the fact that this number includes women, children, and slaves, this has each congressman representing approximately 34,000 people.

How do things stand today?  The population clock produced by the U.S. Census Bureau has us at just under 316,000,000 people. Just a tiny bit more than in 1790. We have, fortunately, updated our congressional appointment numbers over the years. Currently there are 435 voting members in the House of Representatives. This gives us a grand total of, on average, over 725,000 people for each congressman to represent.  This is over 20x as many people as the representatives in 1790 were representing. Also, do not forget that those original numbers from 1790 included women, minorities, and slaves who most certainly were not actually being effectively represented in government. Today representatives are expected to go to bat for an immensely more diverse constituency that is 20x as large as originally designed.  No wonder things are going so poorly for just about everyone.

What can we do?  We can increase the number of representatives in the house for starters. We did so a number of times over the years as we grew increasing from 105 to 435 over many small increases. There is no reason we can not do this again.

Lets run the numbers and see how many representatives would be needed to bring things up to historically proportional levels. According to the United States Election Project out of George Mason University there were 221,925,820 individuals eligible to vote in 2012.  For these individuals to be proportionately represented at the same level as individuals were in 1790 we would need over 6200 representatives (221,925,820 / 3,4000 = 6,233.11).

6,233 is quite a bit bigger than our current 435. I freely admit that having over 6,000 representatives might be a little much and there likely is not really a need to bring things up exactly to historically proportionate levels. But what this does do is give us a lot of wiggle room.

Surely 18 year old individuals have significantly different interests than 85 year old individuals. For starters, someone who is 18 years old can expect to be personally impacted by long term planning and policies 10, 15, 20, 50, maybe even 80 years down the line.  For someone who is 85 years old this is not as much of an issue. While it is nice to think that the older portion of the population would be taking into consideration the impact various decisions and policies might have on their children and grandchildren down the line the evidence seems to indicate otherwise. To me, it makes absolutely no sense to have someone who is in their 20s represented by the same person who represents their grandparents.  Fortunately we have lots of room for more representatives and breaking things up by age seems like a great place to start taking advantage of these extra seats. Further, men and women have significantly different interests as well. Why not have men and women elect their own representatives?

Lets run some numbers and see how many representatives we might need for different age groups and sexes to have their own congressional representatives.

If we break the voting population up into 4 year age blocs this this gives us 20 blocs from age 18 through age 96 with one more for everyone over 97.  For each of these blocs to have their own representative in every state we would need 1050 representatives. Yes, this is more than double what we have now but it is still a far cry from historically proportionate levels. This still gives us a lot of wiggle room.  What if, as mentioned above, men and women each had their own representatives.  Well, we simply have to multiply our last number by 2 and we still only have 2100 representatives.

One of the amazing things about this strategy is that I believe it would help encourage younger members of the population to participate in elections and their government and that it would help being balance in terms of women in elected positions as well as age of politician.

What do you think? Should we increase the number of representatives in the House? If so by how many and in what way? Let us know in the comments!




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April 30, 2013

Biology Based Diagnosis of Mental Illness - "Brain Disorders"


A few months ago I published a paper I had written back in graduate school about The Transition Toward More Biology Based Methodology of Diagnosis in Mental Health.  The gist of this paper was essentially that while we are not quite there yet we are certainly headed towards biology and physiology playing a much larger role in psychological diagnosis.

Dr. Thomas Insel, the current director of the National Institute of Mental Health, has made his thoughts on the subject fairly clear in recent years (I actually even cite an essay of his in my last article on this topic) However, he recently published an article to his NIMH Directors blog cementing the position of the institution on this coming transition.

Here are some key excerpts:

Click here to read more!! »

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April 25, 2013

The Death Penalty - There Is Nothing Even Remotely Close To A Reasonable Argument In Favor Of The Death Penalty



People are scary as hell. No, I am not talking about death row inmates. I am talking about you, the average everyday human.  Seriously, many of you people you people are mind-bogglingly scary. Today a discussion broke on on Reddit after someone shared a horrible image of a man sucker punching a much older man in the side of the head. 

Eventually the discussion lead to the perpetrators ID and the fact that he is a repeat violent criminal who "wears his history of violence, assault and prison sentences like a badge of honor". When one individual suggests that the death penalty might be warranted, another exclaims "Exactly. It sickens me how we waste money imprisoning people like this who thrive on the lifestyle". This is where things take a terrifying turn.  Here are some select responses to someone pointing out that, due to the high cost of the appeals process, it actually costs more to execute someone than it does to imprison them for the remainder of their life:
Click here to read more!! »

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April 21, 2013

Google Glass and Attraction: How psychological science and new technology will transform the dating world



More and more news has been coming out about Google Glass over the past few weeks and it really looks like an impressive product.  I am sure there are a million different things that people are going to think of applying this technology towards but the prospect that intrigues me the most is one of pairing this new technology with different aspects of psychological research. For example, let us consider attraction. 

Click here to read more!! »

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April 17, 2013

Combining Technologies: Neuroscience - Real Time Single Cell Resolution Activity Mapping Of The Brain + Transparent Brains


Recently I came across an amazing article about new technology allowing for real time single cell resolution activity mapping of the brain: Whole-brain functional imaging at cellular resolution using light-sheet microscopy by Misha B Ahrens,Michael B Orger,Drew N Robson, Jennifer M Li & Philipp J Keller.  The above image is from their work and I find it to be astonishingly beautiful. Every little point of light is a neuron firing.  The detail is absolutely mind blowing. We are nothing but our brains, a topic I explored in a previous article When do You stop being You?, so as far as I am concerned that image is one of the best representations of life I have ever seen.

Click here to read more!! »

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March 30, 2013

Monster Warlord - Fresh Spring Update - Patch Notes!


Level 164 as of 6/12/2013 add me @ 509 842 0904
Post your codes in the comments! 

The other day Gamevil put out a spring update.  Here is everything I have compiled so far about the update. As always, let me know any information I am missing or have gotten wrong in the comments and be sure to leave your alliance code. I will update the post thanking you and include your code!

Max Level Increase

The maximum level in Monster Warlord is now level 320. 

New Quests - New Area and 8 Brand New Quests
Click here to read more!! »

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March 29, 2013

Minimum Wage Workers vs. Low Income Earners - Approximately 25% of US Workers Make Less Than $10.50/Hour



Any discussion about the minimum wage is surely going to include speculation about the impact increasing minimum wage would have on the economy. It is likely that at least one person is going to point out that only 1.7 million individuals, or approximately 2% of the work force, earn minimum wage in an attempt to minimize the suggested impact raising the minimum wage might have. What those attempting to make this argument fail to take into account is that there is another 2.2 million individuals that, as of 2011, had wages below federal minimum wage. This brings the number of US workers at or below current federal minimum wage up to approximately 3.8 million workers, or 5.3% (source).

Further, this line of reasoning fails to take into account those between current minimum wage and whatever we wish to propose as a new minimum wage. So, if we are going to talk about changing the minimum wage, what should we choose as our proposed new minimum?  There is a great article over at Dissent Magazine that crunches some numbers in response to Obama's State of the Union call to raise the minimum wage to $9.00/hour.  I am going to choose to use what in this article is described as "a commonly cited bench mark" that adjusts "for inflation using the basic consumer price index", $10.50. So, lets take a look at some numbers and see if we can figure out how many workers would have their earnings directly increased by increasing the minimum wage to $10.50.
Click here to read more!! »

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March 9, 2013

Monster Warlord - Monster Farming Guide


Level 166 as of 6/18/2013 add me @ 509 842 0904
Post your codes in the comments! 

Some more information compiled into one post for everyone. This time I focused on monster farming and the locations/monster rewards for all of the monster capture quests I had information for. As always, things are a work in progress so if you have information I am missing or notice an error please let me know in the comments and I will update/correct asap. 

Grasslands
Monster Hunting
Energy/Exp: 5
Monster: Red Eye (Uncommon) (Fire)
AT: 16
DF: 12

Scout Scum Pond
Energy/Exp: 5
Monster: Tutla (Uncommon) (Water)
AT: 11
DF: 18

Pass Final Test
Energy/Exp: 5
Monster: Battle Bee (Uncommon) (Air)
AT: 19
DF: 10

Click here to read more!! »

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March 7, 2013

Monster Warlord: Magic Items Guide



Level 166 as of 6/18/2013 add me @ 509 842 0904
Post your codes in the comments! 

When you complete a quest you gain a certain % mastery of that quest, when you master a quest 100% you get a nice little bonus exp/gold reward.  When you master all of the quests in an area the area will "level up" and your mastery for each quest will reset to 0 for the next level quest.   When you master all of the level 3 quests in an area you will receive a magic item for your efforts.

Click here to read more!! »

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March 6, 2013

Android Game: Monster Warlord


Level 166 as of 6/18/2013 add me @ 509 842 0904
Post your codes in the comments! 

Monster Warlord is an up and coming game published by GAMEVIL, grab it here: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.gamevil.monster.global

Once you get set up come join us on Reddit at http://www.reddit.com/r/MonsterWarlord/

This is essentially a monster collection and combat game.  The premise is pretty simple. You are navigating a strange new world guided by an NPC named Mika.  There is a long quest line (quest being a fairly generous word here) with new quests and areas opening up as you level. Some quests give high money rewards while others provide an opportunity to capture a monster.  Both types of quest give experience points equal to the energy necessary to complete the quest.

Click here to read more!! »

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February 27, 2013

Deep Burner - WRITER ERROR (ILLEGAL REQUEST (MEDIUM NOT FORMATTED))



So I just ran into a little bit of a problem when trying to burn an ISO file to a Memorex DVD+RW disk.

I have been using DeepBurner for years and have never had any trouble. I checked my DVD burner to make sure that it was compatible with +RW disks before trying to burn my file. Unfortunately once I put the disk in, selected my file, and clicked the Burn ISO button I received the following error message.

WRITER ERROR (ILLEGAL REQUEST (MEDIUM NOT FORMATTED))
Burn failed
Ejecting

Click here to read more!! »

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February 12, 2013

2013 State of the Union Live Blog



Hello everyone, I am going to attempt live blogging for the first time ever during tonight's state of the union.

I am currently watching the fox coverage because that is what is coming in the best over our antenna at the moment.

I will be updating as I have thoughts about what is being said.

9:02:  There was brief mention of the energy secretary being the person outside of the area in case something were to happen.  Personally, I find it silly that someone so far down the line of succession is the person in place to take over in a worst case scenario.  It should always be the VP.

9:09: A few minutes late the President starts his long walk to the podium. I really really hope that this year they are a bit more disciplined about applause but I highly doubt it.


Click here to read more!! »

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January 30, 2013

Fact vs Theory vs Law vs Hypothesis vs Proof

There is a reasonable amount of jargon across all scientific disciplines and it is absolutely not surprising that the general public does not keep up to date on all of them, nor should they be expected to.  That being said, there are a number of scientific terms that are fairly regularly and consistently misused by the general public and the media that are fundamental to science across all disciplines.

First, lets take a look at what science actually is. According to Wikipedia: "science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe". That is pretty straightforward.  Science is a framework, or a methodology, for looking at the world around us and putting forth our best efforts to understand this crazy universe we find ourselves in. This framework can be laid out in a few simple steps outlined in this nifty little flow chart:

Click here to read more!! »

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January 19, 2013

Neuroscience Sketches

I figured some people might be interested in these drawings I did to study for a behavioral neuroscience exam back in grad school. They came out quite nice so I scanned them and saved them. Maybe they will help someone else prepare for an exam. 

Enjoy!


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January 11, 2013

Nature vs Nurture: The Debate Is Framed Wrong - It's All About Ranges



The great debate between what matters more, nature or nurture is as pervasive as ever.  For such a long time people would argue about which mattered, nature or nurture, with each side yelling at each other that one or the other is what matters for human traits and characteristics. Gradually people in the middle began pointing out that, quite clearly, it is both. That, generally speaking, both nature and nurture are responsible for human traits and characteristics. You would think that this would be the end of it but all this did was shift the goal posts a bit.  Now, rather than argue which is responsible, the argument has become which is more influential or more important. This new framing of the debate is just as silly as before in my opinion and I hope to explain why here.

Click here to read more!! »

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January 9, 2013

Reading Comprehension - The Importance of Prior Knowledge





Daniel Kroner, M.S.
Seton Hall University

The Importance of Reading
Reading with comprehension, as described by Hume and Snowling (2011), is one of the primary goals of early education. Learning, whether in an academic setting or on one’s own tends to be highly dependent on the comprehension of information from text sources (McKeown, 1990). To quote the largest children’s literacy nonprofit organization in the United States, “Reading is Fundamental.”  Reading truly is fundamental in every academic discipline (White, 2004; Lei, Rhinehart, Howard & Cho, 2010) due to the way we share information (Tarchi, 2010). Many of the skills and strategies required for reading comprehension are already present in beginning readers in their ability to comprehend the spoken word. As with the spoken word, meaning is often deeper than a single word, single sentence, or even single paragraph.  Readers must make use of their existing knowledge to make the inferences necessary to uncover these deeper meanings (Hirsch, 2003). However, while a beginning reader might possess a reasonably advanced listening comprehension ability there remains enough difference that reading education continues well beyond their education for listening and speaking. Enough information is removed in the transition from experience and conversation to text that skills and strategies a reader might use when talking with peer or instructor are suddenly unavailable.  Because of this simply being able to decode the individual words, word meanings, and sentences (including syntax) is simply not enough to facilitate reading comprehension (Adams 1977).

Click here to read more!! »

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January 5, 2013

Free 8 gig USB Stick



I just stumbled across this amazing promotional offer of a free 8 gig USB stick.  It takes a few moments to fill out the form and there does not appear to be any catches.  Definitely worth the time to fill it out.

Click here for free 8 gig USB drive


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