About William

Bio

My background is in computer science, and I'm currently exploring the relationship between computer science and philosophy. I run the Living Planar campaign, a worldwide living D&D campaign. I also wrote CustomTF, which has been the largest mod for Quake 1 since 1999 or so. I've written various other things as well, like one of the first neural net statistical spam filters (well before Bayesian filtering caught on, which works in a similar fashion), a code folding improvement for VIM, and some other fun stuff.

I work in a family-run corporation that works to bring about change through transforming education by making kids into critical thinkers and independent learners.

Languages

Chinese, English

I'm passionate about

Turning kids around the world into critically thinking individuals who can discriminate between truth and lies, and can work to solve problems for themselves and their community.

Universities

UC San Diego

Comments & conversations

Noface
William Kerney
Posted over 3 years ago
Danielle de Niese: A flirtatious aria
"it was sung in a language which is notoriously difficult to make sound beautiful to English speakers." Oddly enough, when I made the same comment, they deleted my comment for being racist. I'm half-German myself, and embrace my heritage, so it's hardly racist to point out that the German language is more gutteral and less "flirty" than, say, French. (And, what? Below we have a Nazi joke. I didn't even make a Nazy joke, sheesh, it's too easy.) TED moderators, go study comparative linguistics before you start deleting comments. "Listen to this with your eyes shut and see if you find it sexy. I definitely did not." Definitely. There wasn't anything particularly sexy about her performance.
Noface
William Kerney
Posted almost 4 years ago
Steven Pinker: The surprising decline in violence
To put it in Pinker's terms (well, he didn't invent the notion of ever-expanding circles in modern society - I studied that in philosophy class back in college) the great villains of the 20th Century all massacred millions of their own people. Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, and Mao all destroyed millions of people within their own circle of trust. Stalin was especially egregious about this, calling back secret agents from overseas just so he could arrest them, torture them, get a confession at the show trial, and then execute them. He was known to order fake letters to be sent to his people overseas to lull them into a false sense of trust. So that he could murder them. This gross violation of trust is the reason that I consider Stalin the most vile and evil man of the 20th Century.
Noface
William Kerney
Posted almost 4 years ago
Steven Pinker: The surprising decline in violence
Ryan and Jetha quote a study that says only a very small percentage, less than a percent, of hunter-gatherer skeletons shows signs of violence. I haven't gone through their footnotes thoroughly, though. They basically destroy this talk in their book.
Noface
William Kerney
Posted over 4 years ago
Bill Gates: How state budgets are breaking US schools
The reason I just did a quick calculation was because her numbers were so wrong, they weren't even in the ballpark. The total assets of Americans is $54 trillion, nowhere even close to her imaginary numbers. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wealth_in_the_United_States
Noface
William Kerney
Posted over 4 years ago
Bill Gates: How state budgets are breaking US schools
It's always good to look at the actual numbers any time you make claims like this. Doubtful. A quick search says that "the net assets of the 400 richest Americans is $300 Billion", whereas the assets of all Americans is around $28 trillion or so. EDIT: call it about $1T for the richest 400, and about $54T for all Americans. It doesn't matter - her claim isn't anywhere near reality, that back of the envelope calculations are sufficient. Bill Gates could dump all of his assets and still couldn't pay the entire state budget shortfall for more than one year.
Noface
William Kerney
Posted over 4 years ago
Bill Gates: How state budgets are breaking US schools
Marilee, it's actually not that bad. Take a look at http://www.ebudget.ca.gov/BudgetSummary/BSS/BSS.html - this will show you how much money is allocated into each category, and you can click on each category to see line item allocations in detail. If you, say, click on "Transportation", it takes you to a PDF that has a very easy to understand summary of each of the major line items, and what they are for. For example, if you are curious about where funding for the high-speed rail network is coming from, you can read about it there. If you look at the high-level tables, you can very clearly see what is allocated to each category, and what the overrun will be.
Noface
William Kerney
Posted over 4 years ago
Bill Gates: How state budgets are breaking US schools
Well, as a California resident, and someone who has studied the state budget in detail, it was awfully relevant to me. =) But the point is, states all over the country are in crisis, and until they fix health care, they will never be able to balance their budgets.
Noface
William Kerney
Posted over 4 years ago
Martin Jacques: Understanding the rise of China
If you want to say China, say China. If you want to say Zhongguo (China in Mandarin), then pronounce it right. I'll even cut you some slack if you don't get the tones right. It's the difference between using the word Paris or even Notre Dame (which are common words in America) and butchering the pronunciation of je ne sais quoi. If you're going to use foreign words, and are pretending to be an expert on the subject, you just look ignorant if you can't pronounce them correctly.
Noface
William Kerney
Posted over 4 years ago
Martin Jacques: Understanding the rise of China
Kurgan, I have to admit I don't have any experience with the Uyghurs, but I have talked with and befriended a number of Mongolians, and never saw any discrimination when we went out to eat in Beijing or anything like that. The closest thing I saw was when I had a taxi driver that I absolutely couldn't understand, and needed my hotel's doorman to translate for me. The doorman later dismissively said he was a Mongolian that never learned Mandarin properly. So I guess you could make some statements about cultural imperialism and all that, but perhaps the takeaway lesson is that as long as you can speak fluent Mandarin, you're accepted? I haven't met enough minority groups to make a general claim like that, but it seems reasonable.