Monthly Archives: April 2006

Does “evil” really exist

As I posted recently, bradhicks has some wonderful, thought-provoking material that makes us think about why we have political disagreements, and why reasonable people can sincerely come to wildly different conclusions and beliefs.

I have a fundamental belief that people are basically good and that people don’t do harm to others on purpose. I’m often proved wrong, but not often enough to make me distrust random strangers that come into my life.

There definitely *are* people out there who intentionally harm others. My mind rationalizes this by labelling those people “non-humans”. I still believe that most of my “opponents” are reasonable people, who have come to different conclusions and different beliefs due to exposure to different subsets of facts and different experiences. But, not all of my opponents can be explained this way.

On and after 9/11/2001, as my mind tried to deal with the scope of the terrorist attacks, a notion crept into my mind. I found myself thinking, what if the attacks of 9/11 were conceived and executed by someone inside our own government, and not Islamic terrorists? Of course, the rational part of my mind immediately dismissed this as too heinous to consider. I could believe that people could be driven by hatred or fear to attack others, but I could not yet believe that anyone could plan to kill neighbors, or anyone that they had so much in common with. I thought about it briefly then dismissed it.

Interestingly, someone else on my friends list posted a link to this video: Loose Change 2nd Edition which makes a pretty good case for the 9/11 attacks being engineered by a select few Americans in government, military, and big business. It is an hour and 20 minutes long, but it’s very very interesting and provocative. I’m not sure I believe the conclusions, but I now have to strongly reconsider who in the US stands to benefit from the attacks of 9/11.

Why do “reasonable” people disagree

I responded to a question posed by bradhicks in this post: What Do You Think of Your Opponents. I wanted to also record my thoughts here. Some of my friends might be interested in this discussion also…

Question (paraphrased)
On the issue you feel most strongly about, think about those who actively/strongly disagree with your stance. Why do they disagree? Is it a matter of philosophy? Stupidity or non-logical thinking? Ignorance of some facts? Or selfishness/malevolence?

My answer:
I have thought about this before, actually, and I have come to the conclusion that people don’t usually disagree about matters of fact, or logic. Sometimes they disagree about matters of belief that are pretty black-and-white, but this is not often.

I believe that most people disagree on matters of *degree* or *emphasis*. And, most of these are because of scarce resources that can be allocated to one need, or another, but not both.

For example, you’ll find general agreement about statements like “Hard-working poor people who can’t afford health insurance should get assistance for their health care and that of their children,” as well as “Building good schools and hiring good teachers is important.” But you will get deep disagreements when the needs come into conflict and only one can be served. I call that a disagreement over scarce resources, which is sort of a subset of disagreeing over degree or emphasis.

Thoughts? (If you’re interested in this topic, you probably would be interested in bradhicks’ journal too :)

For anyone on my f-list familiar with Boston: I need a description of walking down a cobblestone street of olde Boston at 3 am. What does it look like, what does it smell like, what is open, what is closed, and what shops are closed but obviously have activity inside?

Think you can help? My deadline is Friday :)

Linked In

I have been adding people to my network using Linked In (http// But, because of my personal views on privacy, I’m a bit hesitant to give them the email addresses for all of my friends.

If you already use LinkedIn, and you would like to connect with me directly, view my profile and send me an invitation: – if you’re prompted for my email, enter gconnor at (they already have my email so it’s OK to give it to them again)

If you’re interested in it, go to the above link to check it out :)


So it turns out that my boss is leaving the company to go to Google. He will be managing a team of 8 or 10 sysadmins (that sounds familiar… hmmm). I am not sure if this is on the IT side or the production side…

I really envy the guy and I’m happy for him, but I can’t help but think that working here is going to start to suck. Maybe this is a signal that it’s time to start looking elsewhere. I haven’t decided to leave, actually, but I know that it’s a lot nicer to look for a job when the pressure to survive is not immediate. Better bargaining position too.

I have heard good things about Google but I’m skeptical.. they are growing really really fast and it’s hard to believe that they can keep that up. I have also heard that Google treats their employees well, but their I.T. employees not-so-well. I don’t know how I would deal with the implicit expectation of 10-hour days.

Maybe this would be a good time to think about moving. M and I have toyed with the idea of going to New Hampshire. Might be a good idea to check out Boston’s job market.

What do I want to do? Something that is a combination of unix sysadmin, managing others, and killing spammers.

Now would be a great time to connect with me on Linked In if you use the service. Any and all networking is appreciated.

Gaming session pt. 2

I added the rest of the gaming session to the end of the previous entry. “continued” link below jumps to the new text.

Serene is the first one out the door. Holfast can be seen following three people from a distance: the two soldiers (Bombin and Roscoe) and a woman in priestess robes, probably a follower of Tyr. The three of them are also running toward something… some sounds of a commotion.

Her first impulse is to follow Holfast, but just as she is turning right, she becomes aware of sounds behind her. Voices from the White Hart. A breeze rustling its way through the grasses. Water from the Ashaba gurgling its way around the ford. A spooked horse from the stables across the river. And off a bit beyond that, the voice of someone screaming “Help!” Someone over there is in trouble, even though the cry was almost drowned out by the voices by the tavern patrons, it was unmistakable. Someone in fear of his life, or that of a loved one.continued…

Gaming session

Finally (!!) I got around to hosting the first session of my D&D 3e Forgotten Realms campaign.

Session notes posted to …

As our scene opens, four adventurers have come from the Shieldmeet festival in Battledale and have ridden pretty hard to get through the forest before nightfall. They manage to emerge from the forest proper just as the sun is setting (easier to do in the peak of summer) and they reach the town of Ashabenford just as it’s starting to get dark. more…