Nice morning here. There's a herd of scraggly wild horses runs around the mesas around here. This morning they're near enough, and on mornings when all the animicules go into harmony they join the roosters, the coyotes, the llamas and the rovers for a concert of whinneying. This is one of those mornings.
In a sense it's a lot like most of the really popular threads on LP.
Got me thinking about one of the fault line issues that frequently gets the opinions flowing on the threads. LP users are divided into a couple of extremes, with a scattering of fence walkers and a few off in a pasture somewhere entirely else (Mystical Forum mostly), with the denominator being the issue of whether those balls behave randomly, and if so, whether there's any factor other than luck to improve the odds.
My sense is that newcomers usually arrive at the site predisposed to one view or another. They read the threads and discover somebody's been there before them, and gravitate toward others who hold that view. A few will start a few threads with a flat-out statement trying to get a discussion going about some idea they have, which is usually met with a shrug by the older members who've been there before. Others will merely add to a thread here and there with the statement, "It's all luck anyway," or some such explosion of originality.
But some of the more interesting discussions involve people who've been at this a long time, who have taken a run at whipping the system and didn't make it, or are in the business of trying to develop software with enough of an edge to win occasionally, but who actually hold the self-contradictory viewpoint that the system can't be beaten. That it's all a statistical exercise.
The old-timers who began believing they could beat it and stayed long enough to convince themselves otherwise take it as a personal mission to persuade anyone who will listen that the system can't be beaten for this reason, or that. For them, I suspect, there's a submerged anchor in the sand holding them where they are. If someone came along and succeeded, it would be a negative affirmation... a statement that someone did something they tried to do and gave up too soon.
Over the months at LP I've often wondered why the group on the opinion extreme holding the belief the system can't be beaten continue to hang around. That actually includes the beentheredonethat group carrying their personal mission to evangelical attempts to dash the aspirations of those who continue to believe it can be beaten.
Maybe the system can't be beaten. That's one of the possibilities. But there's a certainty in the equation. If the system can be beaten, it will be beaten by someone who believes such things are possible.
We live in a world surrounded by the impossible. 1950s vintage science fiction is filled with entire planets converted to computers with capabilities roughly equal to a laptop of 1999. Somewhere they're cloning sheep. Trinidad, CO, is a town filled with people in line to have themselves converted to a sex they weren't born into. In 1905 physicists were still more-or-less certain the atom couldn't be split. They'd have laughed at the idea of artificial moons, the internet. The best minds of the time knew too much to believe such things could happen.
The fact is, science fiction of the early 19th Century doesn't include computers, television, sex changes, cloning. 3/4 century ago nobody'd even thought of the possibility of such things.
Even as computer technology was aborning men with imagination, determination, and belief in believing were working in their garages and workshops to turn the information age upside down while IBM and other giants who hired men who knew best scoffed.
Those garage and workshop believers are names everyone knows today, though they didn't teach us the fundamental fact about reality they, themselves once knew: That you can't stop a man who knows he's right and keeps coming. That the only way to discover the boundaries of human potential for discovery is to explore the boundaries personally, without regard for conventional wisdom and bland statements of what 'can't' be done by the people who 'know'....
Maybe those guys understood that the people who know came to their knowing by having been told by someone else who 'knew', and them believing it. But the people who 'knew', somehow, weren't the one's who made the discoveries. They were just the ones who sat on the sidelines and said it couldn't be done.
Strange life, unusual reality we've chosen for ourselves.