Looney Labs Icehouse Mailing list Archive

Re: [Icehouse] [Zendo] Another Spock Rule question

  • FromShadowfirebird <shadowfirebird@xxxxxxxxx>
  • DateWed, 3 Aug 2011 18:42:18 +0100
Jake, I'd refer you to Doug's second point, which I totally endorse.   The rule may be spoken in English, but (so long as it can be expressed in another language) that does not mean that the rule is dependent on English.   

If the rule relies on a list of English words, though, then clearly it *is* dependent on English.  The only real argument is whether English is external to the game, and I agree that that is debatable.

Agreed, if the rule was: "a koan is valid if it spells (using the system outlined in appendix A) one of the words in appendix B."  then -- supposing that English is not external to Zendo -- that would be a valid rule.  But a really, really silly one.

Doug, is light a "physical thing"?  It's certainly true that a rule can't depend on a pattern of shadows.   How about a computer program?  That's not physical, can a rule depend on that?  Or the date - is the date a "physical thing"?

In any case, a book of scrabble words is a physical thing.

These are just my opinions.  I'm not saying that anyone is wrong to have differing ones.

On Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 6:30 PM, Jake Eakle <jseakle@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Under your interpretation, every rule is illegal, because it is formulated in English words, which are _unambiguously_ external to Zendo.

As has been repeated numerous times, using external references to define internally consistent (and in this case even enumerable) sets is completely fine, if often a bad idea.

On Wed, Aug 3, 2011 at 1:03 PM, Shadowfirebird <shadowfirebird@xxxxxxxxx> wrote:
While this probably doesn't violate the Spock rule, it IS clearly not a valid rule, at least as stated.

Rules are not allowed to reference anything external to the game.  The list of valid scrabble words is clearly external to the game.   So, I don't think that there can be any doubt that this is not a valid rule.

You might equally -- although, more ambiguously -- claim that the English language is external to the game. 

OTOH, if you assigned a number to each colour and had a rule that a koan was good if it added up to a certain total (for instance) then that would seem to be okay.

On Mon, Aug 1, 2011 at 11:21 PM, Marc Hartstein <marc.hartstein@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Excerpts from Jeff Zeitlin's message of Mon Aug 01 17:26:42 -0400 2011:
> On Mon, 01 Aug 2011 08:53:46 -0400, "Ryan Hackel" <deeplogic@xxxxxxxxxx>
> wrote:
> >Since we're on the subject of the Spock Rule, I have a question from a
> >recent session that I've been meaning to bring up.
> >The rule was "A koan has the Buddha Nature if the first letter of each
> >color in a stack of pyramids, read from top to bottom, spells out a
> >legit Scrabble-acceptable word."  For example, a stack of pyramids with
> >a "B"lue on top of an "O"range on top of a "G"reen spells "BOG" and thus
> >has the Buddha Nature, while a stack of Red-Purple-Yellow spells 'RPY"
> >and lacks the Buddha Nature.
> >Our cunning master argued that the BH was a function of the pyramids
> >alone, independent of other things, and met the Spock Rule.  I
> >countered, saying that it falsely assumed that Spock can spell in the
> >English language. (We also argued about whether purple also counted as
> >violet.)
> >Bottom Line: Does a rule that involves spelling or language violate the
> >Spock Rule?
> I hold that it does, because the language that the colors of the
> pyramids are named in is not inherent to the pyramids, their
> relationship to each other, or to the surface.  You and I speak English,
> but what if Spock were to transport that koan to a table in (say)
> Helsinki, where the colors are named in Finnish?  Given that Finns play
> Scrabble in their own language, does the koan still have the
> Buddha-nature?

"A koan has the Buddha nature if and only if it consists of a single
stack of one or more pyramids, ordered such that if each color has a
mapping onto a letter in the Roman alphabet {blue -> "B", red -> "R",
green -> "G", yellow -> "Y", cyan -> "C", magenta -> "M", orange -> "O",
purple -> "P"}, if you concatenate the letters represented by the pieces
in order from top to bottom those letters form a single word which can
be found in the '[Scrabble] Official Tournament and Club Word List
Second Edition'"

If the koan were transported to Helsinki, the non-English-speaking Finns
could still map colors onto letters and check the letter clusters
against the word list. It would be tedious, and they'd be highly
unlikely to come up with the rule as the intuitive understanding of what
constitutes the set of Buddha-nature-having koans is outside of their
experience. This makes it a *bad* rule, not an invalid one.

The word list is not an "external reference". It's a fixed, well-defined
set. We can prove this because instead of including the word list by
reference, you could replace that section of the rule I give above by
"....can be found in the following list: {ab, ad, ah, ..." It would just
be an even more unnecessarily cumbersome phrasing.

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A warb degombs the brangy. Your gitch zanks and leils the warb.

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