Saturday, May 28th, 2011
"How The Mind Works"
Tonight I finished How The Mind Works, by Steven Pinker. Wow, what an intense book. Itís a hard read because the author presents a lot of theoryís, and not being familiar with the field Iím not sure which one to buy into. The author guides you a bit here, but I found myself getting into one idea only to be told thatís not the way things work, itís really more like this theory.
The amount of information thatís in this book is just amazing, but I did feel like I had to read over 200 pages to get into it. Reading about the computational theory of the mind, and everybodyís idea of how it works was hard to get through, but by the fourth chapter he started to explain the eye, and stereo-vision, and the book started to get really interesting.
The author picks apart the brain and shows how most of it arose out of adaptation over tens of thousands of years of evolution. Explaining that most of the time that our species has been alive, weíve lived as nomads on the open plain, and have adapted to that way of living. As the book progresses he barrels down into ideas like how the brain process objects differently, showing how human faces are handled differently and how an adaptation like that could have arose. Further into the book he starts to look into emotions, touching on ideas like disgust, fear, and love and what they are for.
By the end he starts to talk about relationships, everything from parents and children to husband and wives. Showing how they built up out of small foraging bands. He also talked about some of the dynamics within the groups, like how when one group would get too big part of it would break off, forming another tribe.
In the last chapter he finishes with the idea of art and where it comes from. Why would we pursue such noble ideas when if has nothing to do with feeding, or protecting, or propagating our genes. He also looks at music showing it isnít an adaptation, but a technology that weíve embraced. Before closing the chapter he touches on humor and why we would need it. He explains that itís a great way for the common man to poke fun at the monarchy, and when people make fun of one others there can be a lot of jabs focused on people outside the group.
The book covers some interesting territory, explaining the everything from the eye to art. Itís written from a perspective that if you were an alien looking at our species, how could you understand us. How could you understand our mind. Steven Pinker does an amazing job trying to explain it, and all the paradoxical ideas we cherish.
Currently Playing: The Witcher 2
Monday, May 23th, 2011
"Champions of Krynn"
Champions of Krynn is a game that's now over 20 years old. It came out during the first wave of AD&D computer games, released in 1990. It was the first game set in the Dragonlance universe, an I.P. that had already defined itself by then with two trilogies, The Chronicles Trilogy and Dragonlance Legends, and a number of anthologies.
Iíve been playing Champions of Krynn for a few years now, taking on one dungeon at a time, letting a few months go by and then picking it up again. Well the last time I played it, it was during a power outage, and I got close to the end. But got stuck at a hard point, and after losing power for a few days I put the game down when it came back on. But I went back to it a few days later and got the party in a safe place, so that the next time the power went out I could go back and finish it up. Well, the powerís not going out. Iím not complaining, but the games not getting played.
So when a new battery came in for my laptop I decided to try it out with Champions of Krynn, seeing how long it would go while running the game. Well I got almost three hours out of the battery, and I ended up finishing the game. It was great to be able to see the end of it all, coming together the way it does at the end. Itís a great game, and it was pretty cool seeing the few cameos from characters like Tanis and Caramon.
Iíve read this was a great game, and they werenít lying. The whole thing is true to the Gold Box style, and the story has a few twists that carry over into the next game. Yep, they released a sequel called Death Knights of Krynn, and you can import characters from the first game into the second. Iíve already set all of this up under my Amiga Emulator on my laptop. The Amiga versions of the games are the best. The Amiga always ruled.
Currently Playing: The Witcher