Amar RPG: New tools

The Amar Role-Playing Game has got two new tools lately.

To understand what Amar RPG is, check out its extensive wiki.

The new tools are a random names generator and an “Open ended dice roller“. The random names generator will give you ten names of the race you pick (from human male and female names to dwarves, elves, trolls and more).

If you are a Game Master for an Amar RPG campaign, you now have a better swiss army knife at your disposal.

Coming up is something even more time-saving. I won’t reveal just yet what it is, but I can tell you that it will save hours upon hours of preparations – even if you are playing other Role-Playing Game systems.

OnePageBook #11: Recruitment – Effective tips to hire the right person

After 8 years of heading a recruitment company I wrote the Interview Handbook. After another two years of daily interviews, I quit the company in order to cater for my inner nerd.

I then did 12 years in the IT business before Brendan and I started the comapny “Å” (A-Circle.no) in 2012.

Everything got simpler. And simpler. And simpler. To the point where I can now revisit my 10 years in the recruitment business and boil everything down to one page. So here it is, The OnePageBook, Recruitment:

“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for the love of it.” (Henry David Thoreau)

Cleaning your room, processes and ITIL

  • ITIL: A formalized way of delivering IT services
  • Processes: The structured actions taken between an input and an output
  • Cleaning your room: Tidying and removing dirt from your room before the guests arrive

If you never ever clean your room, wash the dishes or your clothes, water the plants or make dinner, the gap between your skills and your mother’s skills in these areas will keep widening. Your skills will be handicapped by your mother’s empathy and care.

If you establish processes in an organization that is supposed to take care of issues and problems for the employees, it wil handicap their abilities to handle this themselves.

In the ITIL framework, you are supposed to establish some 27 processes to cater for every part of IT service delivery in an organization. One such process is Problem Management. The purpose of this process is to handle the underlying cause of one or more issues so that it doesn’t happen again. When this is turned into a process where a subset of employees gets to be experts at detecting problems, conduct root causes analysis and solve the problems, the gap between the skills of these guys and the rest keeps widening. The process will handicap the employees problem solving skills.

Problem solving should be a skill exercized by every employee. It should be part of the company’s culture, their DNA. Everyone should jump at the opportunity to solve problems they encounter. It will hone their skills and keep them valuable as efficient problem solvers. Those who encounter a specific problem has more initial data about it and can usually solve it quicker… if they have excellent problem solving skills.

Don’t relegate important skills sets to only certain processes. Help everyone exercize and fine-tune their skills in fire-fighting, problem solving, change management, customer handling, documentation and strategic thinking.

Free – why science hasn’t disproved free will

It’s a short book by Alfred Mele, a Professor of Philosophy at Florida State University. Mele was the director of the Big Questions in Free Will Project (2010-2013) and has authored several books and a large amount of articles on the subject.

Mele tackles the main scientific studies proclaiming that free will is an illusion. He takes them down, one by one, showing that they all suffer from several logical fallacies. But they have one fallacy in common, the Black Swan fallacy. That you have only seen white swans does not rule out the existence of black swans. That scientific experiments have not proven the existence of an agent of free will does not preclude the existence of free will. Some experiments doesn’t even look in the right places.

It’s an important book on the subject.

I take another route in my exploration of free will – a more principled approach if you will. And lately, I have revisited my “proof against determinism” and focused more on Alan Turing’s work. Looking at the Universe itself as one great computational device, Turing’s proof of the “halting problem” shows that there cannot be a Theory of Everything – there cannot be any all encompassing theory that will show everything as true or false. This is of course in line with Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorems, but it seems to be a more direct route in proving that the universe cannot be deterministic. Which in turn leaves existence open for free will.

The AMAR app for Android

It was time for me to create an app. With an autobiography published in 2013, a bunch of OnePageBooks on Amazon, artwork on 500px, music on Spotify, just short of 50 projects on GitHub – the next natural check-off on my bucket list was an app. OK, a simple Android app viewing the AMAR NPCg site as a tool for Game Masters of the AMAR Role-Playing Game. But an app nontheless. As usual with stuff I create, it’s free. Get it on Google Play:

http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.isene.amarnpcg

Feel free to test it and give it 5 stars 🙂

The rational skeptic world view

Humans have always tried to make sense of the world we live in. We have always tried to come up with simple explanations that covers what we see. From the four elements and a flat earth inside a dome to a spherical earth and a heliocentric world view, our view of the world has evolved. But the quest has always been to come up with a complete and consistent model that will explain all of existence. Just like Newton’s classical physics. He viewed the world as clockwork obeying a complete and consistent set of physical laws. And when those laws didn’t quite fit the bill, Einstein extended this quest with his theories of relativity. His goal was to come up with a grand unifying theory that could be encompassed in an equation no longer than two inches.

Einstein’s famous discussion with Niels Bohr where the former exclaimed “God does not play dice” was his rejection of the spookiness of quantum mechanics. This branch of physics seemed to destroy the quest to unearth a model for an ultimately orderly and rational, complete and consistent world.

And despite the hints like Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle, the Double Slit Experiment and Bell’s theorem, some physicists still believe in a deterministic world where everything is neatly explained and codified.

Graphics by Geir Isene

Had they only looked to mathematical philosophy and seen the same quest fail there. At the start of the 20th century, there was this adventure in mathematics where the major thinkers of that field tried to codify all of mathematics into neat axioms and rules to rule’em all. But alas, Kurt Gödel shot it all down with his Incompleteness Theorems. And decidedly so. There cannot be any complex axiomatic system that is both complete and consistent. And to those who would like to believe that the universe we can observe is all that can be, mathematics is a subset of our universe. And as the universe is then a superset of mathematics, then the universe itself cannot be both consistent and complete. And that has some profound implications that I will cover in a OnePageBook sometime in the future.

Now, what prompted me to again delve into this? I was inteviewed by Aaron Smith-Levin the other day, and one of the comments on the resulting Youtube video read:

“Geir, so much of your world view hinges on the “law” a system cannot be both complete and stable, including the large conclusion that humans are spiritual beings, have you ever questioned the conclusion on systems, and if the conclusion about systems were the opposite, would you conclude you are not a spiritual being? If you were not a spiritual being, would you feel you should adapt the rational skeptic world view?”

To which I answered:

“The proof that complex axiomatic systems cannot be both consistent and complete is among the most solid mathematical achievements in human history. It’s irrefutable. So is the double slit experiment, the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and Bell’s theorem. There is nothing rational about refuting any of these. They all point in the direction of consciousness being non-physical. Read my OnePageBook in free will for details: https://isene.me/2017/07/17/free-will-do-you-really-have-a-choice/”

Just like the old, classical Newtonian world view was naive, I believe the modern “rational skeptic world view” to be equally naive.

As for the rest of the interview, here it is:

Thanks to Scientology

I would like to express my gratitude to Scientology and what I have learned from my 25 years as a Scientologist. Since it is now 9 years since I left the organization and 12 years since I completed the highest Scientology level, OT 8, I can calmly reflect on what gains I got from it. There are many years since I stopped considering myself a Scientologist. I am of no religion, of no particular faith. I am somewhat anarchistic at heart, not believing in any set methods and always trying to look at simpler truths. The scientific method is perhaps the most successful of human methodology, but even that has its limitations.

Lighthouse: Dedicated to my mother, Turid Isene

Some Scientology gains are short, fleeting, impermanent. Some are more lasting, and some have grown stronger over the years. The short-lived gains are uninteresting. The lasting gains have helped me throughout my life.

Perhaps my most fundamental gain from Scientology is leaving Scientology. Graduating with a sense of simplicity and on a quest for ever more simple solutions. It has taught me to trust my own senses, to reflect on my own actions and personality and to self-correct. A self-scepticism based on a healthy doubt and interest in finding out deeper truths. I am calmer from Scientology and much better at not giving a fuck about stuff that really doesn’t matter. Life is less serious.

An interesting tidbit is that I used to have nightmares. Several times per month I would wake up from one sweating. During just a few days, when I did OT 8 back in 2006, they completely disappeared and for 12 years I’ve had none. Given that I would have no nightmares only 1 out of ten months before, the probability that it is pure luck that I didn’t have one since is less than picking out one particular particle of matter in the whole observable universe. So I can with confidence say that this was a gain specifically from OT 8.

I am currently learning how to “Lose without a loss” – to be able to lose in a situation and not carry on a loss afterwards. And I’m getting quite good at it. It’s incidentally an exercise that will ultimately help me when I die, as that is the ultimate loss in life.

Scientology is a polarizing subject. Most people who care to discuss the subject view it as a black-or-white proposition. It quickly degenerates into a good vs bad, either-or, Republicans vs Democrats, Cowboys vs Indians or US/them discussion (pun intended). I view it differently. There are good and bad in everything, and while the Church of Scientology is a fascistic cult, I have gotten invaluable gains from my years studying and applying the subject. Maybe I could have gotten the same or even better elsewhere. I wouldn’t know. I only know what I did get, and I’m grateful for that.