Org2blog. Back to wordpress.

For past few months this website was running on drupal. And it was good. Drupal is an awesome system that can do anything. I love it. However when I switched from wordpress to drupal, I wasn’t sure what I was going to create of this website. However, now, I am sure. What I need is a blog. Noting less, nothing more. So, I have decided to move back to wordpress.

There are few reasons for this. First, drupal is very versatile. It can do anything. However, for my simple blogging needs, I don’t want a website that can do a thousand things and more. I want a blog that is easy to maintain and does it’s job well. Because of drupal’s versatility, it takes a lot of time to customize it the way I want to.

Another reason is the updates. In drupal, currently there isn’t any system that updates core automatically. You have to do it manually. On the other hand, in wordpress, updates are a click away. Even the major ones!

I could have lived with that too. I could have run the old drupal without core updates. As bad as it sounds. However, the real reason for the switch is, in the title. For past few months I’ve been writing more and more blogs. However, what I used to write the blogs was this: Org-mode.

I would write them in Org-mode and then export them as html. Then, I’d copy that html in drupal’s editor and post the blog. It’s not as bad as writing all the html by hand, however I needed something better. I wanted to post my blogs directly from emacs. So I went to the great googles fro help.

The great googles showed me a path. A path to enlightenment. They showed me weblogger.el. Which could help me post my blogs directly to drupal without leaving emacs. However, it needed blog API module. As of this writing, the state of the module is, “The module is in development and does not currently work”. So, I took all than, and threw it out of the window.

I was back again to the great googles for help. This time, I came across, org2blog. And I thought sounds delicious. Let me have a look into what it can do. And Voila! It does what I want. It can also handle categories and tags. Wow!

So, I decided to switch back to wordpress. Last night, I was up until 4:30 in the morning to do the switch. I did it without major headaches. Let me give you a little summary of how I did it.

  1. Export all the posts from drupal as an rss feed. (there weren’t may. A total of 26 to be exact. So, they all came in one single regular rss. I exported it)
  2. Sort out the rss. Remove the tags and categories from rss.
  3. Import the rss posts into wordpress. (Go to tools->import->rss in the admin)
  4. Install redirection in wordpress and redirect the old urls to new one. This way, you won’t loose the search engine rankings and inbound traffic from urls posted in external sources.
  5. Set up the categories and tags.

That’s what I did. Much of it I could have done via database migration, however, I did’t have much data to migrate. So, rather than spending few days to migrate all those categories and tags via database queries, I did it by hand in matter of a couple of hours.

One thing I lost was comments. However, there weren’t many. So, I see no big loss there and I’m pretty much content with what I have right now.

Also, wordpress 3 is awesome! And so is org2blog. This post is the test how this setup works. I have already logged into wordpress via emacs. Now, let’s try publishing…

Characteristics and Need of Reason in Today’s Generation

Start with a cage containing five monkeys. In the cage, hang a banana on a string and put stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the monkeys with cold water. After a while, another monkey will make an attempt with the same response – all of the monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Keep this up for several days. Turn off the cold water. If, later, another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it even though no water sprays them. Now, remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted. Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm. Replace the third original monkey with a new one. The new one makes it to the stairs and is attacked as well. Two of the four monkeys that beat him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs, or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey. After replacing the fourth and fifth original monkeys, all the monkeys which have been sprayed with cold water have been replaced. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs.

Why not?

“Because that's the way it's always been done around here.”

Continue reading “Characteristics and Need of Reason in Today’s Generation”

Basics of Warfare

If you know the enemy and know yourself you need not fear the results of a hundred battles. -Sun Tzu, ancient chinese strategist and philosopher

That is one of my favorite quotes. It is in my opinion, one of the basic principle of warfare.

Now let me tell you, the art of war, I know well.
I have led many a battalions on the red battlefield.
I have fought on land and I have fought in water.
I have fought in air and I have fought in space.
I have led armies equipped with swords and spears.
Led them to charge the enemy castle on horseback.
I have led armies of tanks and fighter jets.
And also armies equipped with the technology that is to be invented yet.
I have led armies that use dark magic to raise the dead.
And make them fight against their former comrades.
What I have led, I have also fought against.
But through all of it, one principal remains the same.
Know thyself and thy adversary…

Hmm… now that I have put my feelings aside in form of a not so well formed poetry, I can move on to the real content. Strategy games have a special place in my heart. Because in those games you have to use your mind to win. Of course, you can just build a gigantic army and massacre the enemy forces but what's the fun in that? The way I like to play is to have a smaller specialized army with a plan!

There are many tactics to be used in warfare. However, they all can be categorized in 3 main activities. They are as following.

  1. Reconnaissance(Gathering intelligence):
    • Exploration: One of the basic activity of any strategy game is, exploration. It is also the most important one. The information gathered doing exploration is used in every other activity in the game. It is also important for staying updated on the advances of your enemy. But let me point out some very important things.
      • Locate and capture the resources: It goes without saying that if you want to train a capable army, you need a lot of resources. Exploration helps you to find those resources.
      • Locate your enemy: Another very important point is the location of your enemy. If you know where your enemy's stronghold is, you can, to some extent, predict the direction of attack.
    • Gather info about your enemy: Information about you enemy is also very important. What kind of weapons do they use? What are the numbers of enemy forces. How many foot soldiers/mounted units(mounted on horses or camels)/ranged units/siege units(the ones that can do some mass destruction) are there.
    • Map of enemy stronghold: How is the enemy base is structured. Which place should you avoid and which place if struck effectively, will be most deadly to the enemy.
  2. Applying the information: Now that you have gathered information, it's time to apply that information to formulate an effective strategy to win the game! Let's look at some important points.
    • Shortest and safest routes to important places: Sometimes the enemy may be between you and some important resources. In that case, you may need to find a safe route. If that's not the case, go for the shortest route.
    • Know your enemy's strength: From the information you gathered about the numbers of enemy forces you can understand the attack tactics of the enemy. You will be able to decide if the enemy likes melee combat or ranged. Or, if they like tanks or jets.
    • Plan your defenses: According to the type of tactics the enemy uses, you can set up your defenses to counter their most powerful weapons.
    • Know your enemy's weaknesses: Now that you know the strengths of the enemy, think about at which places the enemy's forces are lacking. Find out their weak points.
    • Know your strengths: Understand your military forces and what the strengths are. You might have very advanced melee units but maybe your ranged units are lacking or vice versa.
    • Know your allies: It is very important to understand your allies. If you cooperate with your allies well, you may become unstoppable. Because, your allies may be able to supplement for your weaknesses and you for theirs.
    • Find the ideal battleground: At which place you will fight when you attack? The place must favor your forces/tactics and make it difficult to fight for the enemy.
    • Form a strategy: Now that you have done all that analyzing, it's time to formulate a strategy. A strategy that exploits your enemy's weaknesses and uses your strength to do so. If your enemy relies on a lot of melee units, create a few strong and powerful melee units to hold them back. While, a large number of archers rain death upon enemy's melee forces! If he relies on archers, then you need very mobile and powerful units to counter the archers. A knight, melee warriour mounted on a horse or a camel will be very good. But if you can not find out that the enemy uses a lot of melee units but you do not have powerful ranged units, then go for your strength. Whatever it may be. The last thing you should do is to go in one on one battle. That way anyone can win.
      • Hit and run: While you are doing all these planning and exploration, one of the very important strategy to use is hit and run. Annoy your enemy! Distract him from his own planning. Especially, hinder the enemy in resource collection. If he does not have enough resources, he will not be able to train a very good army.
    • Support is very important: When your army goes into war, take a few healers/medic/monks with you to heal your units. Also, if your army is mostly melee, take some heavy hitting ranged units with you so that while your melee forces deal with most of the enemies, 1 or 2 enemies per 10 are killed using ranged weapons.
  3. Execution:
    • Hit and run: Execute hit and run as planned. You should use very mobile units for this. Preferably, mounted archers. If you do not have any such unit then use something that moves very fast so that they can run away alive when the enemies come!
    • Full attack: As planned, lure the enemy in your ideal battleground and then finish them off!
    • Be ruthless: Once you have formulated a plan, execute it ruthlessly! Do not stop, or give the enemy a second chance to make the fight more interesting… I have done it and lost many battles!

That is not all that I know but I think it covers most of the very important points. Why did I write this? Well, I find a lot of similarities in strategy games and my christian life. Pretty much every one of these points can also be made about christian life. So, I am going to make those points. Here I go…

  1. Reconnaissance(Gathering intelligence):
    • Exploration: In real life, the activity of exploration consists of exploring your environment. Places and people around you. You will also need to explore yourself, as some of the offense comes from our own self. The information gathered through exploration will be used in every aspect of your christian life.
      • Locate and capture the resources: What are the resources in christian life? Bible. Good books. A good church. Good mentors. Locate and capture them!(Also, once you are through with the books, pass them around)
      • Locate your enemy: In christian life, the enemy doesn't have a specific place. So how do you locate him? Well, for that you have to explore yourself. What is your sin? What temptation lures you in doing sin most of the time? That is the enemy's stronghold on you. Locate it.
    • Gather info about your enemy: Now that you have located your enemy, gather info about him. How? Read books about the particular sin/temptation you are facing. How does the attack of temptation start. Is it in a particular place/situation? Or in a presence of your friends? Gather information about it.
    • Map of the enemy stronghold: What are the sins/temptations that are there in your life other than the one that we talked about. Other than the stronghold, what wrongs are you doing in your daily life that you know you shouldn't do.
  2. Applying the information:
    • Shortest and safest routes to important places: Well, what are the important places in christian life? The church I think is very important one. Then there is library. There might be more that I might have missed. But, there isn't much difference in this aspect of christian life from the game. Find out the shortest and safest routes to those important places!
    • Know your enemy's strength: From the information you have gathered, see if there are any patterns. There might be a certain place or situation. Maybe it is because of the company of your friends.
    • Plan your defenses: Once you have identified the patterns avoid being in those places/situations at all cost.
    • Know your enemy's weaknesses: For this, you don't have to go anywhere looking for answers. I'll tell you what the enemy's weakness is. If you are a christian, the enemy doesn't have any authority over you. You have authority over him. The authority to you is given in the name of Jesus Christ. Call on that name and see the enemy flee!
    • Know your strengths: What are the things that you are good at? Focus on those things. Make your skills more sharper. Use them to attack the enemy. You can take pretty much any skill and turn it in a weapon against the enemy! If you are confused or don't know, ask me in the comments. I'll be happy to help you. Also, help others who don't have the talents that you have.
    • Know your allies: In games you won't find may allies. However in a christian walk you will find many. Help them and they will help you. One of the ways to cooperate or keep in touch with your allies is to go to the weekly fellowships or cell groups. Don't miss it. You and your allies will grow together. Don't let the enemy isolate you.
    • Find the ideal battleground: In a christian life where are the battle fought? If you don't know, let me tell you. They are fought on your knees. In a prayer. Only there you can fight and win. Only in the presence of God, you have assurance of victory. So, you need to have a place where you can go and pray. A place without distractions. A quiet place. You should also have a specific time for prayer. Early in the morning or late in the night works good.
    • Form a strategy: A war is a short term thing(especially in a game). However, christianity is lifelong. So we need to have a mission statement for our life. For this, I would suggest you go and read Rick Warren's Purpose driven Life(download ebook).
      • Hit and run: How can one do hit and run in a christian life? Well, by saying “No”. When your peers ask you to do something that you know is wrong, say “No”. They might or might not ask why. If they do, you got your chance to do some damage to the enemy!
    • Support is very important: Yes support is very important. However, how can you support your christian life? No, it's not the people that will support your christian life. It's your habits that will support you. So, form good habits for basic things as reading bible and praying. Also, form habits for things that you have included in your mission statement.
  3. Execution:
    • Hit and run: I have told you how to do hit and run. The only thing I can say here is do it as frequently as you can.
    • Full attack: Full attack comes in the form of execution of your mission statement. It will take a long time, so you need to be persistent, consistent and strong. Take on the full armor of God.
    • Be ruthless: Yes, be ruthless. Once you have decided to do it, do it. It doesn't matter if you are tired or not. Being tired is not a reason to break your habit. It's just an excuse.

One more thing I'd like to mention is this:

James 1:13-14 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. (ESV)

In a christian walk, the attack does not come from only outside. It also comes from within. If you apply the quote that I started with in a christian life, to some extent, your self and the enemy are one and the same. So, knowing yourself, your weaknesses and strengths are very important. However, If you are to dish out any offensive, you can not do it by yourself. You must rely on God.

Miracles asking for miracles!

There are some people who say, God doesn't exist. I do not know on what basis can they make such claims, however, the main thing that they ask for is evidence of God's existence. Now they won't accept anything that can be explained by science. They want something that can not be explained. In fact, they are asking of a miracle. They say if you show us a miracle, we will believe that there is a God. So, today, I'd like to show them a miracle. But before that, I'd like to ask them two questions.

  1. Who they are?
  2. How they came to be?

I think that they will answer the questions in the following manner(or something similar).

  1. Human or man/woman or homo sapien (or their name! If they do so, they are disqualified from the game!)
  2. The process of evolution

Those answers are very concise. So let me go a little bit deeper in the answers. What does “being human” mean? I have written about in the past, but the topic of the discussion was not description of humans rather, the message of a certain t-shirt. Right now, I want to be descriptive. As far as I can understand it, there are 4 parts to any human being.

  1. Intelligence
  2. Emotions
  3. Morals
  4. Body(of course!)

I think that is the a good description of a human being. At least good enough for the purposes I am going to use it. The purpose is this: I want to conclude that, human beings are very complex! Agreed?

Now let us move on to the next answer. Evolution. What do they mean by evolution? Evolution explains how life evolved on the earth. But before evolution of life, there must me some life. They say, it was created by a sequence of random chemical reactions.

Let us assume that the very first living organism was created in such a manner. Then the evolution process began. Then after millions of years of evolution, very complex organisms as humans evolved from that very simple living organism. Evolutionists have different explanations and mechanisms of how this process happened. However, if we were to summarize the whole process in one simple sentence, it would be like this: Very complex life forms have evolved from simple ones.

Let us again assume that this happened. But, I think that statement is very similar to the following statement. Very complex systems can be developed from smaller, simpler systems(given enough time). In fact, programmers deal with evolution every day! If millions of years ago, Darwin's monkey faced ancestor had asked a programmer if such a thing as evolution was possible, the ancient and wise programmer had told him, “It is”.

Where does programming fit into all this? Well, you'll see. But for now, we will just understand what evolution says with the help of a simple program. I'll use a simple program with the purpose to do exponentiation. Let me describe very shortly, how such a program can “evolve”. I will describe the process in 3 steps. The steps are as following:

  1. Addition : Takes 2 arguments. A and B. Does A + B. Returns the answer.
  2. Multiplication : Takes 2 arguments. A and B. Then it adds A to itself, B times. Using the addition process.
  3. Exponentiation : Takes 2 arguments. A and B. Then it multiplies A to itself, B times. (Using the multiplication process which in turn uses addition)

It begins with humble addition, then the program mutates to do multiplication(if the program does not mutate, it will be selected out! In fact, the program's life depends on it's ability to adept to the requirements!) and then finally, it does exponentiation. That's more or less, what Darwinian evolution is. I agree that the evolution of exponentiation program is not comparable to the process of biological evolution, but I think it is pretty much the same thing on a much smaller scale.

As the program has requirements to adept to, biological organisms have the environment to adept to. That is called natural selection. The organisms that don't adept to the environment are selected out. Those who do, can continue to live. If natural selection is true, all it does is to subtract from the total number of species. It doesn't add anything new. But, wait a minute! If the process of natural selection is subtracting from the total number of species, then there would be a lot more species in the beginning! So, evolution starts from a single biological organism and then natural selection comes along and tries to subtract it from itself! What the heck? Those two things are contradictory!

So the evolutionists says, there are some times when the natural selection process is “weak” or “absent”. When the selection is “weak” or “absent”, random mutations happen and produce more new species. But, natural selection depend on only one thing. Environment. Is the theory saying that sometimes the environment is “weak” or “absent”? Well, I can go on and on but I'd rather not go into it. You probably are waiting for your miracle to be delivered. So let me move to the next point.

In the last paragraph, I introduced a new word. Mutation. In evolution, mutation means changes in genomic sequences. I don't know what the heck “genomic” means, but the word sequence is something I can understand. It is the order of something. Maybe some events or some instructions. And for mutations to happen, this sequence must mean something to the organism. If it doesn't mean anything, then species can not be different from one another. If they can not be different from one another, then mutations can not happen. Because, mutation means changes in genomic sequences. Change must be distinguishable. Without meaning you can not distinguish between two. So, for the mutation to happen the sequence must be different from the previous one and it must have a meaning. Very interesting.

Do you know that is? It is information. Information is the sequence of things that carry a certain meaning. In language, the “things” are symbols. The characters that form words and sentences. The sequence of that characters carries certain meaning. That's why you can read this. If it didn't have a certain meaning, you would not be able to make sense of this text. In a genome, it is molecules. In DNA there are four molecules. Adenine(A), Guanine(G), Cytosine(C) and Thymine(T). The sequence of this molecules in the genome carries certain meaning. In humans, that information decides our gender, personality, appearance, hair and eye color and many more things. For life to start and evolve, information is needed.

Evolutionists say that the first life form came just by chance. Because of random events. However, for life to evolve there needs to be information. A sequence that means something. Randomness is a sequence but it doesn't have a meaning other than that it doesn't have a meaning. You can not have meaning from randomness. Only because you have meaning, you have meaning of randomness. So you can not have information from randomness. Because of the lack of information, genomes can not mutate and life can not evolve. The very first organism can not have defined the meaning of the sequence because the organism itself operates on it's own genomic sequence. The information must be there prior to the first living organism and it is not possible for randomness to produce any information.

So for evolution to be possible there needs to be information. But information can not come out of randomness. From where can it come?

Let us go back to the evolution of the exponentiation program. In that program, the relatively complex mathematical operation is based on the simpler mathematical operation of addition. Without addition, exponentiation would not be possible. In the same way according to evolution, without the single cell life forms, humans wouldn't exist. But, the evolution of the program also faces the same question as the evolution of life.

Why does it start with addition? From where does that piece of information come? Of course, from the ancient and wise programmer. The programmer knows what he wants but it is too complex. So he creates something much simpler and then uses the simpler system to create a much complex system. The ancient and wise programmer is the source of information for the evolution of the program.

So from where does the information required for biological evolution come? Evolutionists say, from pure chance(yes, the random sequence suddenly had a meaning just by pure chance! How? I have no idea but they say “pure chance”). Why wasn't the very first living organism selected out? Because it was able to adept to its environment. Why was it able to adept? Because of pure chance. Why did it reproduce? Pure chance. Well, if you believe those things happened by “pure chance”, let me suggest something to you. Take a pencil and a paper then start drawing random lines on the paper. A few years later, you will have copy of Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci. How? By pure chance!

You might be asking right now, where is my miracle? The miracle is this: “Pure chance” that can not ever fill in the role of the “ancient and wise programmer”, does fill it in the mind of the atheist. In their mind, their existence is based on a long chain of events that happened by “pure chance”. So if you are asking for a miracle as a proof of God's existence, go look into a mirror. The miracle is not how you look or how wonderful you are, it is that you believe that the information required for evolution came out of randomness by pure chance all in the name of reason and science! Explain to me how you can believe that! If you can not, you have your miracle. The miracle of ignorance.

I have written about evolution in this post because I came across the following statement in a book few days ago.

Evolution is the greatest engine of atheism ever invented. ~ William Provine

The atheists believe that evolution explains life without the need of God. However, in this post I have pointed out the difficulties I find with that stand. Evolution can not initiate by pure chance. The information required can not come from randomness. But it can come from a creator. Because bible says:

John 1:1: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (KJV)

A word is a sequence of symbols that carry a certain meaning. It is information. It is the definition. From that definition or information, the information required for life can come. So I think it is possible that life on earth evolved by the process of evolution but only if God initiates and guides that process. But then, it won't be Darwinian evolution at all. It will be a creator shaping his creation every step of the way.

By the way, I can put a variable in my program with a value “The software engineer does not exist!”. that doesn't mean I don't exist. It only means that the variable is very ignorant.