Tuesday, August 17, 2010

AlDraw, Version 2.0

AlDraw is the program I use to make things like this:
(By the way, I just uploaded a bunch onto my picasa album)

I've been working on improving it. I've decided I want to do a major overhaul, and make it version 2.0.

There are three big things I want to focus on:

  • Improving code design. -- When I first wrote it, I didn't really give any thought or attention to making it good code and easily maintainable and extensible. As I gradually expanded it, I rewrote the worst parts to make it more flexible. But for the scale of changes I want, I don't think that's going to be enough. Also, I want to be able to show the code to another programmer and not have them think "What the hell were you doing?"
  • Improving usability. -- This is probably the worst thing about the program right now, because I'm the only one who uses it. There are a lot of things about the program that make perfect sense to me, but wouldn't to anyone who just started using it, because they didn't write it, or get used to its shortcomings as they worked to fix them. If anyone is willing to help test it, let me know.
  • Add features. -- Copy and paste to make repeated designs like tiling easier. Make zooming and panning more fluid. Add colors. Pretty straightforward.
Also, as I want this to be a big step forward, now would be a good time to rename it. I would welcome any suggestions. Possible ideas: keep AlDraw, GeomeDraw, Constructomatic, Euclidomizer...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

The Problem of Evil

A lot of Christians claim that God is all-powerful, all-knowing and perfectly good. And yet, earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, tornadoes, floods, fires and all sorts of other natural disasters happen everyday which destroy infrastructure and kill people.

I'll let a Greek philosopher (probably not actually Epicurus, though usually attributed to him) make the connection.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God?
One of the most common solutions to the problem of evil is to say God has "mysterious ways" and these acts serve some greater purpose. But God is supposed to be omnipotent. Not just really, really powerful - all-powerful. If he were all-powerful, he could achieve the same purposes without the killing and destruction.

Some people say that God can't be morally judged the same as humans, but I don't see why not. Whether something is moral or not isn't determined by the actor's power or knowledge. (Note to self: write a post going into more detail about this.)

One of the most... interesting... solutions to this problem that I've seen is that natural disasters are caused by human evil and sinfulness and for God to prevent them would interfere with our freewill. Of course, there was no explanation of how humans cause natural disasters, or how God would be interfering with freewill by eliminating them.

And then of course, there is the solution that there is no such entity that is omnipotent, omniscient and omnibenevolent. Personally, I find that to be the most parsimonious solution.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I know you won't believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others.

In my previous post I talked about why truth is a good thing. Continuing that, questioning is also good. Because questioning is one of, and perhaps the single most important tool in finding the truth.

Not everything you believe is true. Not everything I believe is true. In order to discard our false beliefs, we must first find them. And the only way to do that is to question our beliefs.

Consider the modern fable of the five monkeys. The monkeys continued believing that it was a bad thing to try to get the bananas, even though conditions had changed. Just because something was true doesn't mean it still is.

This is why I so strongly support the freedom of speech and more generally the freedom of belief. The only way for the truth to prevail is for it to be critically examined.