I'm a social work student who programs computers and does math and theology for fun. I've got a passion for fixing broken systems and finding new ways to make systems that work, whether they're built of people or bits.
The Paleoludic is the age we live in — the Old Age of Games — in which people with power define games for other people to play and other people credulously play them, whether finance, power, or fame.
I often reread my letters, essays, and tweets. I can recommend them as a reader.
Write to me at email@example.com
A Fierce Christianity. This is an ambitious document, but its plan will work if we try it. The goal is to rediscover a Christianity centered on love and the teachings of Jesus, without rejecting any scripture or abandoning the law.
Doing the Sermon on the Mount. This sermon is notorious for being difficult but it is simple, easy to do, and fun. I explore ways to fulfil Jesus' teachings.
On Evil. Evil is a chore, but it is necessary to say something about it. I use a model that considers all things good, but evil in the ways they trample each other, and I explore the conditions that allow evil to spread as a pathogen and how to stop it.
In these essays I try on new ideas and explore their consequences. Your feedback will help me push them even further.
A Glossary of Themes
A statement of a worldview that bridges skepticism and theism.
A Short Theology
An expansion on the most profound claim in the Epistles of John.
On how causal effects can emerge without a rule of causality.
An approach to being, and the question of what it is to be together.
A Theory of Configurations
A way of talking about how entities coexist within a system, and what their coexistence entails.
A discussion of the interpretation of recordings and impressions, with a focus on holy texts by way of example.
Settlement, Spirit, and Attachment
On a simplified conception of mathematics and what it lets us say about dynamic arrangements.
The New Jerusalem
A relatively gnomic account of how realities might merge. Not meant to be confusing, but some people think it is.
On growing to be a comfort to others, and enduring the fear that inheres in being the last bulwark before the void:
To Take God's Hand
On how belief and unbelief alternate, like walking feet, in a healthy relationship with God.
A collection of short, twittery assertions, all in good fun.
I played and made games for countless hours in the solitary comfort of my parents' basement as a child. Through them I taught myself invaluable skills, like patience, endurance, focus, and turtle hopping. A game is an essay in dynamic truths, and a great game is more than a way to while away the hours — it's a way to sharpen yourself. Here are a few great games. The line between playing a game and making a game is thin.
M.U.L.E. An absolute masterpiece from 1983. By Ozark Softscape. Balance cooperation against competition as you strive to keep your colony alive — and yourself on the top. The first game to allow up to four players at once.
Agent USA. Stop the fuzz from spreading across the United States, turning your countrymen into mindless zombies. Face the fuzz with your crystals, but watch out for the greed of ordinary folk.
Games Creator. My disk has degraded with time, and I can't find it anywhere. The process of creating a game is a game in its own right, and game design is an exercise in deep empathy.
Archon. Chess reimagined by perenially brilliant designers Fred Ford and Paul Reiche III, with fantasy creatures and arcade-style combat whenever figures clash. The later Star Control (from Starchon — get it?) ups the ante with Space Wars style starship combat.
Star Control II. A game every schoolkid should play. With just one Precursor Vessel to your disposal, face off against two evil empires of Ur-Quan stuck eternally on the "path of now and forever", doomed to fight each other — and destroy all sentient life in the galaxy — for all time.
X-COM: UFO Defense. The Earth is under attack from the skies, and only you have the international backing to stop them. Will you turn the alien tide? The Gollop brothers adapted the brilliant tactical combat of their Laser Squad game and paired it with fast-paced fighter-to-fighter combat and conspiracy-theory fueled mythology. I got into editing it and wrote a bunch of editors. This game was the absolute sweet spot for editing: everything was accessible, but nothing was so easy as to feel cheap.
Battle Tech: The Crescent Hawks' Inception. My brothers played it on the Commodore, I played it on the PC and edited it mercilessly, sharing editors with friends.
Master of Magic. A game so good even the bugs are fun. Pick a wizard and a fantasy race and take over the worlds. Develop cities, research spells, fight fantasy monsters. Exploit bugs and feel like a God.
Lode Runner and Championship Lode Runner. An elegant puzzle game with tight controls that demands to be remembered. The first game to include a level editor as part of the standard kit. By teaching each other what we discovered, my brothers and I mastered even the hardest levels — and then made our own, for each other to play.
Andromeda. A simple little game for the Commodore 64, but the basics of space strategy are all there. My great childhood aspiration was to make a program as big as Andromeda one day.
Axis and Allies. A beautiful game that humanizes the enemy: play as Japan or Germany against the combined might of Russia, America, and Britain, in the heady days of the Second World War. Not for squabblers.
Clue. A brilliant way to learn logic, and accessible to some of the youngest players. One of my brothers won once in two turns. Competition was stiff.
Mastermind. A deceptively simple game that pits two players against each other, one picking a code and the other breaking it. Like everything we did, we always made the codes as hard to crack as we could.
Purple Turtles. Hop across the backs of four turtles to get to a yummy piece of fruit — but watch out, they like to dive! Way too hard, especially for a little kid, but a great challenge and catchy theme kept me coming back. This game burned away my frustration and taught me how to accept defeats that weren't even my fault.
Fastload and Diskedit. Getting to reach into the guts of things from an early age taught me ways to think about software and a healthy respect for the dangers: I broke Loderunner once, and my dad fixed it; I made a secret "looping" directory on my brother's PC, and defrag nuked it, with all my code. Worth the cost. I also wrote my own hex editors, with support for different bases and different layouts.
Dehacked and WadEd. I didn't play Doom much as a kid (I got around to it finally in college), but I loved editing it.
Cakewalk. I loved composing songs with lots of different instruments, even though my music theory wasn't very sophisticated. (Games Creator had similar functionality, so it was easy to learn.)
Brogue. An unparalleled roguelike by Brian Walker, gentle enough for novices but tough enough to keep seasoned veterans coming back. I contributed pathfinding code and lots of design input. This game will change your life.
Forays into Norrendrin. A stripped down roguelike that captures the essence of play. Easy to learn, with nice tutorial messages, but devious play and really varied enemies.
My wife is a Historian of China, specializing in diplomacy. She teaches at a liberal arts college and conducts research constantly in her free time. She is passionate about her students and never lets her tenure lull her to complacency. I love contributing to her efforts in whatever small ways I can, transcribing and proof-reading and sabre-rattling over theory and evidence (all in good fun). With her around my life will never be dull. She has nothing to do with anything on this site; this is all me.
My son, Arthur, is six years old and named after Arthur Dent. He loves playing games like Labyrinth and Clue and building towers out of Lego blocks. His constructions are often abstract, but he has a real passion for pretending to make movies. His favorite films to watch include Star Wars and Clue (which were my favorites, too). He is passionate about his friends and never forgets a name. He loves freeze pops. He loves talking about the kinds of things I have on this site.
Differ Pendragon is about ten years old and he's something of a father to Arthur — we explicitly adopted the liveliest cat we could to teach our future son to love. His presence is a great comfort, and sometimes I wake up with him gazing deep into my eyes. His consort, Goldberry Bombadil, was an abandoned little kitten who said hello to the right woman at the right time. She's beautiful but she's still a little scared that she might get hurt, but that's ok, we love her.
As a family, we watch Red Dwarf and discuss the issues it raises. It's a really solid vehicle for introducing children to real life social problems without traumatizing them with it. (Well, the Polymorph is scary.) Parental guidance means you've got to guide your kids, folks, not that you've got to filter. We also watched Clue and had a rollicking good time, because that's not real ketchup. Star Wars always gets us feeling patriotic, 'cause dammit, we're the good guys here.
You made a copy when you downloaded this page. You're probably going to die.