The outbreak started in San Diego’s homeless population. A population that has no real access to sanitary facilities. I don’t know how many have gotten hepatitis A, and the last fatality count I know of is 16. Could be up to 18 or more by now.
Keep in mind that people travel to and from San Diego. That means you could be getting people infected with virus and ready to inadvertently spread it around.
Hepatitis is nasty. Last I heard hepatitis A is really nasty. Treatment can be expensive and lengthy, and it’s real easy to become a carrier. The homeless are especially prone to it, thanks in large part because of their poor health. Also thanks to malnutrition, and when you combine the two together you’ve got a bad situation.
We don’t have adequate lavatory facilities, and as long as the city remains hostile to the poor and destitute it’s rather likely the situation is not going to improve. For the moment the outbreak really isn’t all that much, but it has the potential to get a lot worse. Don’t know about you, but I can see Sacramento and Washington DC putting a guarantine on this place; and won’t that cause a tizzy? Might even lead to our first National Disaster thanks to a virus.
And here’s the really bad news, even before the outbreak medicine in San Diego was being overwhelmed. I mean, how do you rely on emergency medicine when it really isn’t there to be relied on.
It’s coming, so be prepared. It may start among the poorest of the poor, but even gadzillionaires can get it.
I’ve been thinking about this for awhile and I’ve decided to present this idea. That math we keep using, I don’t think it means what we think it means.
We make assumptions about our world. One of them is that the assumptions we make about our world are right. I don’t think so.
It comes back to this, we can’t know everything, we’re not that smart. Mentally we’re limited, and it looks like we’re going to be limited for a rather long time. We don’t know everything, and we can’t know everything. About the only thing we can know for certainty is that we can’t know for certainty. And another thing we can do is to test our assumptions using the tools we have available, keeping in mind that we are most likely wrong. Hell, you get right down to it, we’re wrong anyway.
As an Example
Isaac Newton first came up with his thinking about gravity sometime before 1685. As part of his thinking he concluded that gravity is a universal force, thinking his contemporaries and successors basically adopted. Now the force is pretty much universal, as far as I can see, but that doesn’t mean it’s universal in the way we’ve come to think it is.
Yes, gravity is pretty much a universal force, but does that mean that all gravity fields extend indefinitely? Is the gravity of a single mass infinite? What if it’s not?
Keep in mind that in Newton’s day the known universe wasn’t really all that big. It essentially amounted to our galaxy and that was about it. All the stuff outside our galaxy we learned about later. When Isaac said that gravity was universal, he was talking about our Milky Way.
Add to this the idea that things can be infinite in our reality. Can they? What if things are finite, that they come to an end? That they can end? I submit good people that our math is not a good description for our existence when we take it too far. That in our reality infinity is a good theory, but stinks as reality.
The Problem With Spacetime
You get right down to it, it takes work—effort that is—to bend spacetime. The more you need to bend spacetime the more work you need. The mechanism behind gravity can only provide enough force to bend ST slightly, the other three more so. In addition, it takes a certain minimum amount of effort to cause spacetime to curve. Less than that and it won’t. And it may just be that the energy needed to curve spacetime is in discrete steps. So that the curvature is not a smooth curve, but more a series of steps at such a small scale that it appears to be a smooth cursve as far as we can tell. So you could say that spacetime doesn’t so much curve as it kinks.
What I’m proposing is, all four forces have a maximum range of effect. This includes gravity. It may be that Earth’s gravity doesn’t even make it as far out as Pluto, and Pluto’s gravity may not even reach Jupiter. We only think that everything in our Solar System is tied together by gravity, but in reality it may not. We just assume that it does because we’ve gotten this idea in our head that infinity can exist in reality and not just in theory.
Which leads me to more thinking, but I first need to do some thinking on that. I’ll write more on this topic in another post.
Our reality is one thing, matters don’t have to be the same in a different existence.
The deal is there can be other realities besides our own. At least in our imaginations. In addition, they can be as real as ours, in our imaginations — my emphasis. This means that whatever we imagine can be as real as we need it to be in our imaginations. Which means things can work as you need them to in your imaginary world.
What it comes down to is, in a fantasy world as in Ars Magica and Mythus something like magick can and does work. In either case we’re not talking about our existence, but rather about worlds which work differently to some degrees than ours’ does. In either case something we could call magick works. Something that produces actually results and not just something we need to lie about in a vain attempt to fool ourselves.
The Thing Is
While both have magick they don’t both handle it the same way. In part this is due to their respective mechanics, but it is also due to just how developed the science has become in their respective worlds.
That’s right, I said science. Science is about understanding, in any world where a thing can work it can be understood. At least we can pretend that we understand it, and when you get right down to it we don’t really understand what’s going on in our reality, we just like to think we do. So on Ærth and Mythic Earth magick works, so we can invent reasons as to why it does. Do they work? Well enough for academic purposes.
The difference between the two lies in how old the science is in the respective settings. In Mythic Earth it got its start sometime in the 8th century AD. It’s really only been a science for about 4 centuries, so it really hasn’t had much to be developed as a science.
On Ærth magick has been a science — at least treated as a science — for a few thousand years. That means they’ve gotten more work done.
One of the biggest differences lies in their respective cosmologies. On Ærth it’s much busier; you have the mundane, the supernatural, and the entital. Each of these is further subdivided. On Mythic Earth is not so well developed.
Where magick itself is concerned on Ærth a caster can call upon other planes. On Mythic Earth the only plane available to a caster is the mundane. Only those with a connection with the Divine can access any of the outer planes, and that gives them a substantial advantage. You get right down to it, as powerful as a Mythic Europe Magus can be, he’s still very much a babe just starting to toddle about on wobbly pins.
It all comes down to just what each party has learned about their respective existences. In ArM they really haven’t learned all that much. Their model of reality is still undeveloped. In Mythus it’s quite a bit better developed, largely because they’ve had the time. Or, it could be that the model in Ars Magica is more limited because it is, and their understanding is actually more accurate than that of the mages in Mythus.
Though if the scientists—which is what they are—of either world follow the pattern of progress our scientists follow, those of Mythic Earth will find ways to complicate their understanding of things, while those of Ærth will find reasons to simplify since their understanding has gotten just a tad too complex as far as I’m concerned.
When you get right down to it, how the respective guides handle magick depends a lot on how we handle such things in our reality. We like to undertand. Or at least to think we understand. And we insist on claiming we understand when we really don’t. Not to anything like we think we do. And since ArM and Mythus are really dealing with different worlds, how reality actually works in the two need not be exactly the same.
In the Future
That depends. The magick of Mythic Earth may become more like that of Ærth, or it may become something quite different. That depends on how the people behind Ars Magica decide to take it, and that is entirely their choice. Though it would be interesting to see the magick in the one RPG take a sort of convergent development with the magik in the other.
Though I do have to ask a question: How do you see your favorite fantasy RPG handling magick?
It comes down to this,when we know we’re safer. At least we feel safer. We’re more confident in what we do, more capable. When we know we’re more able to handle things, to know what to do and how to adjust to anything unexpected.
Knowing and the confidence it brings makes us safer. Or at least to feel safer.
You get right down to it science is a way to learn. It is a technique for learning. There are sciences, but they are not science.
Science is not a matter of what is, it is a matter of how you learn what is. It is very much a matter of how you learn and how you approach what you learn. And the first thing you need to learn is that you are wrong.
In a word we are imperfect. Even worse, we can’t ever be perfect. Our world is imperfect, the books we have to use is imperfect. For one thing, we just don’t have the capacity to know and understand everything. For this reason we can never know everything.
Once thing we can do is to correct out mistakes when we become aware of them, and the first step in that is to accept that we have erred. An ECG taken at 8:45 am a week ago is not an accurate picture of the heart’s condition at the present time. At best it could be an indication of the current condition. At worst it could be a damn lie. Sometimes you need to drive the car for about 15 minutes before the engine conks out.
Science is a way to learn. Science first of all involves being able to accept that you are wrong, and that what you do know is based on assumptions. Assumptions on how things work and on why they’re supposed to work.
Science is about alternative explanations. Explanations that could be right. Explanations that could be wrong. Explanations that could be wrong and still be a lead to what is right.
In the time of Aristotle gravity was understood to be a matter of an object’s nature. That being to fall to the ground when things were right.
This thinking came in large part from Ancient Greek animism, the belief that everything has a spirit. Spirits have a nature, and apparently part of that nature is to fall down when given the opportunity.
With Newton out understanding had improved to some extent. Newton for example did not accept the idea that things had a spirit that had a nature. To his way of thinking there had to be a force that made things fall to the ground when nothing stopped them from doing so.
A force with a mechanism all it’s own, and as our knowledge of our world grew we came to see how we thought the mechanism worked.
We discovered atoms, then later sub-atomic particles. Some of these particles we came to see as the medium that carried the force in question. With gravity we call that particle the graviton.
To Albert Einstein’s thinking gravity was not so much a matter of force, much less nature, but more a matter of topography. Of how space is shaped.
One attribute of mass we now understand matters is that it bends space, as space is bent so is the path of any object traveling through that space the mass bends. And this alteration in course is, as far as we know, in the direction of the mass causing the detour.
Now you would think that Einstein’s view of gravity would replace Newton’s, but we for the most part prefer to keep what we like of Newtonian gravity and combine it with Einstein’s version. As far as I can see the two contradict each other, Either Newton was right, or Einstein is right, and from what I see Einstein is right.
At this point I’m taking a break so I can work on the next post in the series. I can give you a look at the starting assumption, at that is that the magick of fantasy worlds can be a science, because science can be applied to it. How? That I will explain later.
Now this is a sort of follow up to this blog carnival over in Kobold Press. Thing is, I didn’t think of this post until last Friday when I had a look at ArM5th and compared how that RPG handled magick as compared to how Mythus handles it.
Now the first post in this series deals with how I’ve decided to handle the subject of metaphysics. In short, the physics of physics, being a look at why reality works the way it does. In our reality a thing such as magick can’t exist because the starting conditions don’t exist. It’s just not how it’s set up here. But in realities as laid at in Mythus and ArM things are different. In addition how matters are handled, explained if you wish, depends in large part on the world in question and their respective experiences with magick. And that depends in large part on their respective experiences with magick.
In Ars Magica their understanding of magick is young, and depends to a good extent on how they understand their world. It relies in good part on their metaphysics. In Mythus the understanding of magick is much older by thousands of years, and so is more greatly developed. To put it another way, there the metaphysics are more developed then they are in Ars Magica.
Another factor to consider is that in ArM how people understand things is drawn in large part from previous experience and how that was interpreted. As far as the magi of Mythic Europe are concerned magick works the way it does because that this how they see it working, how they understand it working.
On Ærth the Mages have had a longer time to make observations, and so more time to prove and disprove their ideas. You could say that on the Mythic Earth they really haven’t had the time to do a good study of magick, much less make a meta-analysis of the subject. For that’s the thing about studies, in the first you learn a fact, in the second you learn the fact was wrong, and in the meta-analysis you learn that the fact was right, but not for the reason you thought it was.
Now as I understand the system in ArM you have a subject and you apply an action to it. What we call a noun and verb system. And it’s a simple system, with just 10 subjects and 5 actions. In Mythus its more like a thousand subjects, and I don’t know how many actions—though I suspect it’s more than ten. For that’s the thing about fields of study, the older they get the more gunk they accumulate. Take a look at the science of physics in our world for an example of this.
What it comes down to is this, in Ars Magica magick is a young science, in Mythus it is much older—on Ærth they’ve had a lot longer to pile up stuff in the attic.Give the Magi of Mythic Europe a thousand years or so and their attics are going to get cluttered.
But did I just call magick a science?
That I did, because since it can be understood and explained in either guide as far as I can see it qualifies as a science. For a science is a rational field of study, and so long as magick is understood and explained rationally as far as I can see it is a science.
With one other necessary qualification, it has to produce results that can’t be attributed to any other mechanism.
Which makes it necessary to describe what magick is. For me it comes down to this, magick is the ability to shape reality using a tool not available through any other means. In other words, nothing physical as we understand physical. And that leads us to the next post in this series.
(It does take time and thought to come up with this stuff, so I think it’s worth a sawbuck or two. You agree you can send a donation or contribution my way.
Now according to Wikipedia physics comes from the classical Greek and refers to the knowledge of nature. In modern times it is understood to deal with the matter of matter and motion. Or the matter and energy. It could be said to be the science of what is and how it works.
Now meta has a number of meanings, all of which are valid in their specific circumstances, though I think that for us the word as used in meta-analysis, which is a study of studies. In the case of metaphysics—meta-physics if you prefer—you could think of it as the physics of physics.
Or, an understanding not of how reality is as it is, but an understanding for why reality is as it is.
With that in mind we can go on to the next post in this series.
We tend to interpret things as we insist they have to be interpreted. In Ars Magica the original authors, Mark Rhein*Hagen and Jonathan Tweet, interpreted the world of Mythic Europe as presented by what they read on the subject. Which means they followed the interpretations of those who insisted that what people in Renaissance days said was going on
In science we get interpretations based in large part on what the interpreter prefers to be right, whether it is or not. As an example we have people insisting that since Gravity as to be a force, it means that gravitons must exist. Which means that any results we get from experimentation has to point to gravitons.
Or, cats have to rub against people and things in order to leave their scent. That cats do this is because it feels good is anathema to these people, for only Humans can have such feelings. Hate to tell you this bub, but Darwin told us we aint so different from other animals as you insist.
What does such misinterpretation get us?
Road blocks. Road blocks and red tape. What we get are delays in how our knowledge progresses. All too often we get occasions when we have to go back and correct our mistakes, for more often then you’d like what we think we know has to be corrected.
There are people who insist that domesticating an animal is a matter of training, when it is far more a matter of breeding. The California Grey Fox was domesticated back before the white man came. The North American Bob Cat and the Raccoon are in the process of being domesticated, for there are individuals in both populations who can and do tolerate associating with Humans, and even go so far as living with them. Zoological Puritans aside, any animal comfortable living with us will live with us and your laws aint worth rotting meat.
Then you have the Tasmanian Devil, who insist on treating us as though we are replacement mothers. Same as with dogs, cats, and even horses. But we keep insisting they have to be wild animals because that’s how we insisting on interpreting them.
We see things because that’s how we want to see them. Seeing them another way scares us because we hate being insecure. So you get people who insist that the Sasquatch can’t exist because the very idea of the animal’s existence scares them. Got news for you, but existence don’t give a rats ass what scares you. Existence just is and you can just get used to it.
By and large I agree with Hendriksen, Gutenberg will change what WordPress is and what WordPress is for. Thing is, there will come a response.
Some will be what he expects, a turning to other platforms. In other cases expect efforts to return WP to its old purpose, that of a blogging engine. I expect that a party will appear to fork WordPress, may be call their effort something like “BlogPress”. The purpose of BlogPress being to make blogging easier.
Already there is a plugin to take the place of Gutenberg, giving the user the old editor back. Unfortunately I’m blanking on the name – you can credit that to age, autism, and a low grade infection.
I’ve also noted that Gutenberg – as presently configured – doesn’t entirely offer what you’d think it would. Most specifically in the matter of text columns. As that module is currently set up, what you get are not text columns, but a table. Thing is, CSS columns can be done, and they predate CSS Grids and Flexbox, so if the Gutenberg people want to implement text columns in Gutenberg they have corrections to make.
And speaking of text columns, in talking with a couple of people on their respective plugins it has occurred to me that they hesitate at incorporating CSS columns in their products because all too many people keep on using old browser technology, for when it comes to the unknown we can be rather conservative.
But still peope – and apparently not just me – keep insisting on text columns, and I expect that we’ll get them. Either the Gutenberg people will make it part of the core, or people will write a plugin or two that adds that feature.
So changes are coming, and those changes will see changes. For my part I’m going to keep on using WordPress, for the most part because I am not competent at stuff like migrating sites and I don’t want to lose what audience I’ve built up again. So for the old-fashioned posting I may just turn to Pressit in WordPress, or one of the independent apps available out there.
It has occured to me that the African Pygmy is a distinct species of Human, and I’m thinkng of making the Pygmy of Ærth such. I expect a lot of you will complain, saying that I’m saying that the Pygmy is sub-human.
On the contrary, given that the Pygmy is descended from Humans, that makes them the superior beings and us sub-pygmy