Archive for January, 2023

Answering Ultima IV’s Virtue Questions

January 31, 2023

Let’s mix some philosophy and some video gaming in this post.  I’ve mentioned a few times before that I sometimes read the old posts on The CRPG Addict while compiling or installing (or in a boring meeting), mostly because he maintains a big list of all the games he’s played so that I can simply open the next entry in a new tab and follow along with that playthrough instead of having to scroll through all the pages like with the other blogs he recommends.  So I had read before and have just read again his entries on the Ultima series, which leads to reading about Ultima IV and its character creation system.  That game associated each class with one of the eight Virtues in the game and then ran you through a list of questions that pitted the Virtues against each other in an elimination sort of deal until there was only one left.  As these questions were based on balancing Virtues against each other, they have ethical implications, and I know that I had always wanted to go through them and answer them all as per my own philosophical views and worldview.

Now the time has come.  I was re-reading his Ultima posts and decided that I really, really wanted to do this.  I’m going to keep track of which answers map to which Virtue and see which Virtue I select the most.  I haven’t read most of the questions before starting — obviously, I read the ones he answered to get his character — and so will be going in blind, but I will give my reasoning for each answer.  And I really, really hope that I didn’t actually do this once and forgot about it …

Entrusted to deliver an uncounted purse of gold, thou dost meet a poor beggar. Dost thou A) deliver the gold knowing the Trust in thee was well-placed; or B) show Compassion, giving the Beggar a coin, knowing it won’t be missed?

I think A).  If I wanted to give something to the Beggar here, it should be my own money, not someone else’s.  It just seems wrong to rely on “They’ll never miss it” to get them to effectively give to the Beggar out of what is stated to be my own Compassion.  (Honesty).

Thou has been prohibited by thy absent Lord from joining thy friends in a close pitched battle. Dost thou A) refrain, so thou may Honestly claim  obedience; or B) show Valor, and aid thy comrades, knowing thou may deny it later?

This is a difficult one for me, who likes to claim that my real-life alignment is Lawful, but that that means that I follow the spirit and not the letter of the law.  I wouldn’t do it to be able to claim honestly that I obeyed, but more that there is probably a reason for it — and I might even know what that reason is — and so I’d only join in if I didn’t think that reason held given the new circumstances.  So with only the information presented here, I think I will say that I wouldn’t join in the battle since the reason probably still holds.  (Honesty).

A merchant owes thy friend money, now long past due. Thou dost see the same merchant drop a purse of gold. Dost thou A) Honestly return the purse intact; or B) Justly give thy friend a portion of the gold first?

This one is clearly A).  That’s a debt between the two of them and it’s not my place to settle it for them.  I might hint to them that paying some of that gold to the friend would be a good way to pay me back for returning it.  (Honesty).

Thee and thy friend are valiant but penniless warriors. Thou both go out to slay a mighty dragon. Thy friend thinks he slew it, thee did. When asked, dost thou A) Truthfully claim the gold; or B) Allow thy friend  the large reward?

As stated, I’d choose A), as I need it as much as he does and assuming that I’m right about who killed it I should claim the gold.  If he needed the gold more than I did I might be tempted to lie there, but I could easily split the gold with him anyway if it’s just about money.  (Honesty).

Thou art sworn to protect thy Lord at any cost, yet thou knowest he hath  committed a crime. Authorities ask thee of the affair, dost thou A) break thine oath by Honestly speaking; or B) uphold Honor by silently keeping thine oath?

As stated, I’d tell the truth.  An oath that makes me lie just because I swore an oath isn’t any kind of oath at all, and this fits into my “spirit of the law” mentality.  If there were terrible consequences for talking about it — for example, revealing Lancelot’s affair with Guinevere — then I would indeed be tempted to lie.  I would lie to protect my Lord from unjust harm, but not the reasonable consequences of his own actions.  (Honesty).

Thy friend seeks admittance to thy Spiritual order. Thou art asked to vouch for his purity of Spirit, of which thou art unsure. Dost thou A) Honestly express thy doubt; or B) Vouch for him, hoping for his Spiritual improvement?

I’ve been in situations like this with work recommendations, and I tend to be relatively honest, but also somewhat vague as I try to be diplomatic.  If I care at all about the person asking me or about the position, then I certainly couldn’t vouch for someone that I wasn’t sure about.  (Honesty).

Thy Lord mistakenly believes he slew a dragon. Thou hast proof that thy lance felled the beast. When asked, dost thou A) Honestly claim the kill and the prize; or B) Humbly permit thy Lord his belief?

This is quite similar to the case above, although here I don’t lose anything.  In an ideal circumstance I’d like to shrug and let it go, and on considering it what I’d like to do here is do the same thing:  shrug and say that it doesn’t matter how really felled it, and let it go at that.  So that’s actually closer to B), so I’ll go with that one.  (Humility).

Thou dost manage to disarm thy mortal enemy in a duel. He is at thy mercy. Dost thou A) show Compassion by permitting him to yield; or B) slay him as expected of a Valiant duelist?

A).  That he’s my mortal enemy doesn’t matter, and the rules of such duels would suggest permitting him to yield, and I don’t see any real reason to just kill a helpless opponent regardless.  (Compassion).

After 20 years thou hast found the slayer of thy best friends. The villain proves to be a man who provides the sole support for a young girl. Dost thou A) spare him in Compassion for the girl; or B) slay him in the name of Justice?

If slaying him is at all just, that he is supporting a young girl wouldn’t change that.  Nothing says that I can’t arrange for the girl to be supported regardless in some way, and sparing that sort of villain — who, if a real villain, is a murderer — is only likely to lead to more of that sort of villainy.  (Justice).

Thee and thy friends have been routed and ordered to retreat. In defiance of thy orders, dost thou A) stop in Compassion to aid a wounded companion; or B) Sacrifice thyself to slow the pursuing enemy, so others can escape?

B) is basically what Corran Horn’s grandfather did in “I, Jedi”, although he didn’t have the A) choice.  If I fight to slow the enemy, I am likely to save that companion and others besides, so I choose that one, assuming that my sacrifice won’t be in vain.  (Sacrifice).

Thou art sworn to uphold a Lord who participates in the forbidden torture of prisoners. Each night their cries of pain reach thee. Dost thou A) Show Compassion by reporting the deeds; or B) Honor thy oath and ignore the deeds?

A).  Again, an oath that would make me ignore and hide such things isn’t an oath worth keeping.  (Compassion).

Thou hast been taught to preserve all life as sacred. A man lies fatally stung by a venomous serpent. He pleads for a merciful death. Dost thou A) show Compassion and end his pain; or B) heed thy Spiritual beliefs and refuse?

This is a difficult question to answer unless you actually have such strong Spiritual beliefs, and my own beliefs are not that strong on these sorts of matters.  Turning to the general issues of religion that I’ve talked about before, this can be seen as a choice between imposing my beliefs on others by not granting him a merciful death that he thinks is acceptable and him trying to impose his beliefs on me by asking me to violate my beliefs when I think that murder.  Still, if I’m the only one who can do it I’d probably lean towards granting him his wish and spiritually atoning for it later, especially given that as an intentionalist I’d say that intention matters here and the intention is good.  (Compassion).

As one of the King’s Guard, thy Captain has asked that one amongst you visit a hospital to cheer the children with tales of thy valiant deeds. Dost thou A) Show thy Compassion and play the braggart; or B) Humbly let another go?

I have no desire for the glory or attention and in this case am no better suited for the task than anyone else.  So let someone who wants to go do it do it.  (Humility).

Thou hast been sent to secure a needed treaty with a distant Lord. Thy host is agreeable to the proposal but insults thy country at dinner. Dost thou A) Valiantly bear the slurs; or B) Justly rise and demand an apology?

A).  The treaty is needed and I can put up with someone being a jerk if needed.  If I let the insult get to me then I’d be failing in my duty and then the problem would be with me, not them.  (Valor).

A mighty knight accosts thee and demands thy food. Dost thou A) Valiantly refuse and engage the knight; or B) Sacrifice thy food unto the hungry knight?

If I felt that I could beat the knight, then I’d fight, unless he definitely needed it more, at which point I’d offer it to him and point out that he really should have just asked for it,  If I thought I’d lose, I’d give it to him.  Let’s call it B), then, as that would be the choice in most cases … including the one that best fits the virtue of Sacrifice.  (Sacrifice).

During battle thou art ordered to guard thy commander’s empty tent. The battle goes poorly and thou dost yearn to aid thy fellows. Dost thou A) Valiantly enter the battle to aid thy companions; or B) Honor thy post as guard?

B).  I was posted here for a reason and history is replete with examples of how doing things like that can lead to unexpected disasters as the battle changes.  (Honor).

A local bully pushes for a fight. Dost thou A) Valiantly trounce the rogue; or B) Decline, knowing in thy Spirit that no lasting good will come of it?

B).  Even if trouncing him might teach him a lesson — The CRPG Addict answered this question that way, but in my experience it doesn’t work that way anyway — I don’t like to fight at the best of times, so if I can avoid it I will.  (Spirituality).

Although a teacher of music, thou art a skillful wrestler. Thou hast been asked to fight in a local championship. Dost thou A) accept the invitation and Valiantly fight to win; or B) Humbly decline knowing thou art sure to win?

The CRPG Addict answered this one as well, and it’s a tricky question.  After all, what’s the harm in entering, even if you are sure to win against those locals that are competing?  But on considering it here, as a teacher of music I have no reason to win such a tournament, and if the prize is significant then it would be better to go to someone who wants to be a wrestler.  If we then consider the virtues themselves, to violate Humility I’d have to be doing it to win, and so Valor would be saying that I should take the opportunity to demonstrate my ability and Humility would be saying that it isn’t important to do that.  It wouldn’t be important to me to do that (even thought I do like to win games).  So I would never enter just to win and if that’s the only reason I had I wouldn’t do it.  So B).  (Humility).

During a pitched battle, thou dost see a fellow desert his post, endangering many. As he flees, he is set upon by several enemies. Dost thou A) Justly let him fight alone; or B) Risk Sacrificing thine own life to aid him?

Assuming that I can help him without causing issues for others who are standing and fighting, that someone flees in battle doesn’t mean that he deserves to die that way, since battle is frightening and he likely isn’t doing it do endanger people.  It seems to me that the better soldier there would help him anyway.  (Sacrifice).

Thou hast sworn to do thy Lord’s bidding in all. He covets a piece of land and orders the owner removed. Dost thou A) serve Justice, refusing to act, thus being disgraced; or B) Honor thine oath and unfairly evict the landowner?

A).  Again, such oaths aren’t worth keeping, and I don’t care all that much about what other people think of me and so don’t care about being disgraced for doing the right thing.  (Justice).

Thou dost believe that virtue resides in all people. Thou dost see a rogue steal from thy Lord. Dost thou A) call him to Justice; or B) personally try to sway him back to the Spiritual path of good?

A).  Nothing says that I can’t try to sway him back to good anyway, and if someone breaks the law letting him go because I want to try to convert him doesn’t seem right (and, interesting, the reason for that is that it seems to lack humility, as I think that I can do such things better than anyone else).  (Justice).

Unwitnessed, thou hast slain a great dragon in self defense. A poor warrior claims the offered reward. Dost thou A) Justly step forward to claim the reward; or B) Humbly go about life, secure in thy self-esteem?

Assuming that he isn’t just trying to scam them, I already noted that I would humbly go about life in a similar situation, so I’ll stick with B) here.  (Humility).

Thou art a bounty hunter sworn to return an alleged murderer. After his capture, thou believest him to be innocent. Dost thou A) Sacrifice thy sizeable bounty for thy belief; or B) Honor thy oath to return him as thou hast promised?

B).  I can stand up for him in court, but I need to have him get a trial anyway, which is also better for him than him remaining on the run because while I let him go, others won’t.  (Honor).

Thou hast spent thy life in charitable and righteous work. Thine uncle the innkeeper lies ill and asks you to take over his tavern. Dost thou A) Sacrifice thy life of purity to aid thy kin; or B) decline & follow thy Spirit’s call?

A).  Helping my kin when they need it and presumably I’m the only one who can is far more righteous than anything else I might do.  And this also ties into the idea of my helping my kin being something that I have a specific moral duty to do whereas charitable work and righteous work is one that I have no specific moral obligation to do.  (Sacrifice).

Thou art an elderly, wealthy eccentric. Thy end is near. Dost thou A) donate all thy wealth to feed hundreds of starving children, and receive public adulation; or B) Humbly live out thy life, willing thy fortune to thy heirs?

Well, I have the eccentric part down, but I’d have no interest in the adulation — one of the reasons I’m an eccentric is a growing disinterest in what people think of me — and I have specific duties to my heirs that I don’t have to those children, so this one is B).  (Humility).

In thy youth thou pledged to marry thy sweetheart. Now thou art on a sacred quest in distant lands. Thy sweetheart asks thee to keep thy vow. Dost thou A) Honor thy pledge to wed; or B) follow thy Spiritual crusade?

For this one I think it’s B), but only because I could marry her when the crusade is completed and unless she has a really strong reason to demand it now she’d be being a bit selfish to call that out.  This, of course, presumes that I can’t do both — marry her and then continue the crusade — and have to abandon the quest.  (Spirituality).

Thou art at a crossroads in thy life. Dost thou A) Choose the Honorable life of a Paladin, striving for Truth and Courage; or B) Choose the Humble life of a Shepherd, and a world of simplicity and peace?

The interesting thing here is that this question basically asks “What class do you want to be?”, as the class that aligns with Honor is the Paladin and the class that aligns with Humility is the Shepherd.  And despite the fact that I tend to play as Paladins in RPGs, I think that my past history and present tendencies say that I’d rather life as a Shepherd than as a Paladin.  I tend to have simple tastes and like a peaceful life.  (Humility).

Thy parents wish thee to become an apprentice. Two positions are available. Dost thou A) Become an acolyte in the Spiritual order; or B) Become an assistant to a humble village cobbler?

If I can choose, I’ll take the acolyte, as that fits my personality and interests better, which won’t surprise too many people here.  (Spirtuality).

So, let’s total it up (in order of which one I choose first in the list above).  There are 28 total questions:

Honesty:  6
Humility: 6
Compassion: 3
Justice: 3
Sacrifice: 4
Valor: 1
Honor: 2
Spirituality: 3

Honesty and Humility being high aren’t really a surprise, given that I don’t really care for attention and hold honesty in high regard (even if I, like everyone, am not perfect at being honest).  Valor being low isn’t a surprise either since I don’t care for confrontation (in fact, my biggest moments of weakness wrt Honesty are cases where it avoids confrontation).  Honor being low is a bit more of a surprise due to my Lawful nature, but again I hold to the spirit of the law and so that’s where it lost points.  Sacrifice holds because I’m non-materialistic and so will give up things without too much regret if it makes sense.  Compassion, Justice and Spirituality are right in the middle, which also applies.  I have at least one in every Virtue and Valor and Honor are relatively low but I have reasonable respect for everything else.  So it’s interesting.

And in game, my choice of class would have been between Mage and Shepherd.  I would have preferred Mage, but when the choice came down to those two I would have chosen Humility over Honesty and been a Shepherd.  The question where I chose against Humility was against Spirituality, so if the brackets worked out for me to choose anything else I would have ended up as a Ranger.  Neither of which are classes that I normally choose in RPGs, so I can’t decide if the questions would work out better or worse for me if I end up playing that game (it is, I think, on my list of games to play).

Halcyon Diary: Luxury Cruise

January 30, 2023

After being made a Jedi Knight,  I was told to head to Coruscant to root out the new darkness that the Council sensed.  I was routed to the Republic Fleet, and when I started to take the normal shuttle, I was told that the Council had arranged for a seat on a more luxury transport instead if I wanted to take that.  Well, that got both my Force and CorSec senses tingling.  Obviously, my Force senses just gave me a vague feeling that something important was going to happen.  But my CorSec senses were telling me that the Jedi Council weren’t in the business of giving new Jedi Knights a luxurious trip to Coruscant, no matter how impressive that Jedi Knight is.  So for them to do something like this, they themselves had to be feeling something in the Force, whether conscious or unconscious.  Either that, or they had some intelligence that something was going to happen and as usual weren’t inclined to share it, especially with a new recruit to the Order.  Knowing them, probably both, actually.  At any rate, all of that put together suggested that this wasn’t going to be a simple, pleasant trip to the Republic capital.

It didn’t take long for the catch to appear, as an Imperial Dreadnought attacked, demanding a Republic diplomat who was traveling on board and landing troops to try to capture her.  Fortunately, she’d made contact with me earlier and so we were able to put together a plan to retake the bridge and kick the Imps out.  Once we got to Engineering, however, she came up with a plan to unlock the controls we needed that would vent that section and kill everyone there.  I, of course, didn’t want to do that and so took the slightly longer option of running around and turning off various generators manually.  It might have taken slightly longer and might have been a bit more risky, but it’s never a good idea to kill off … well, to ever kill off your own guys, but especially not the ones who were giving you the ideas that you were using to retake the ship in the first place.  Even pragmatics dictates that you keep them alive in case you need their knowledge again.  So our diplomat seemed to be pretty short-sighted.

Of course, she wasn’t the only short-sighted one.  After getting to the bridge, we heard the formal demands and weren’t about to hand her over to the Imperials, so I decided that I was going to get on-board the Imperial ship and disable the tractor beam that was holding us in place.  That seems like something a Jedi should do.  The diplomat pushed her way into coming along with me based on some theoretical knowledge she had about the ships, which didn’t make up for the fact that we were taking the very person the Imps wanted to get on their ship, well, onto their ship.  But it suited the Republic officer in charge fine, because he suggested that I just leave her there and get back so that the Imps wouldn’t bother chasing us.

Again, short-sighted.  After we went through all that trouble to not give her up, just giving her up didn’t make sense, and the Imps would be more likely to just blow us out of space — and would have nothing better to do since they’d have her in custody than chase us to blow us out of space.  If I could find a way to stop them from chasing us, we wouldn’t need to hand her over, and if I couldn’t, handing her over wouldn’t help us anyway.  Of course, simply handing her over to the Empire wasn’t the right thing to do, especially if I was going to have to betray her to do it.  As we went along, I told her what he had planned but forestalled a lot of her indignation by pointing out that she was going to sacrifice a bunch of people for herself, too.  That’s what fear can do to people.

Anyway, I managed to disable the tractor beam and get everyone back to the ship, and we jumped away.  The ship didn’t follow, so we got away pretty much clean, and the confrontation between the diplomat and the Republic officer was resolved without blaster shots or even bruises, so I have to consider the whole thing a success.  I only hope that what the diplomat does was worth the trouble.

If a short trip to Coruscant had that much drama, what was I going to face where the Jedi Council had explicitly sensed darkness?

Shadow of Death 2

January 28, 2023

Late at night, a young woman was having a nightmare.

Normally, while that would be unpleasant, it wouldn’t be all that much of an issue.  She’d go through whatever tremors the night had in store for her, and wake up afraid, heart pounding, pulse racing and disturbed … but then the light of the sun streaming in behind the curtains would reassure her that that world was nothing but a dream and she was indeed safe.  However, this dream wasn’t that sort of dream.  This was a dream where you both desperately wanted to wake up but lived in fear of it ending, because one way of ending the dream was for the supernaturally imbued creature chasing you to kill you … and if that happened, you didn’t wake up ever again.

So she was running through the pipes and steam of some strange kind of basement, trying desperately to avoid the horribly scarred man in the terrible sweater and hoping that something or someone in the real world would cause her to wake up before he managed to kill her.  Because as far as she could tell there was no way that she could survive otherwise, and she had the sense that he was just toying with her and that when he either got too bored or his bloodlust grew too high he’d simply kill her.

As if on cue, he popped up in front of her when she glanced behind her to see if he was following, despite not being anywhere in sight before that.  “Boo!” he exclaimed, laughing manically at his own bad joke.

She screamed and stopped suddenly, and then backpedaled to try to avoid him, but the sudden stop caused her to trip over something on the floor and come crashing down hard on it.  Momentarily winded, she looked up at him as he stood over her.  He produced a bladed glove-like weapon from somewhere and looked down at her.  “No glove … ” he started, and then took a dramatic pause to place it over his hand.

Finished, he then decided to finish his line.  “… No love, ” he said with a look of amused satisfaction and glee on his face.  And then his tongue slithered out of his mouth and extended the several feet needed to lick her on her face.

He raised his hand to strike at her, and she was certain that this was the end but  as it descended a hand caught it from the side, levering it up and eventually pushing her attacker back.  “What the f …?” her attacker began, but the dark figure in the gloom raised a finger towards him.

“Language, ” he said, in a voice that was emotionless and yet somewhat ominous just the same.

“Just who do you think you are to tell me what the f …” her attacker began, but at that point he noticed that her saviour had somehow produced a long staff like weapon and was holding it so that he wasn’t threatening her attacker with it but that it could be used against him at a moment’s notice, and was starting her attacker right in the eyes,

And then she noted that her attacker’s eyes widened in something she hadn’t seen from him this entire time:  fear.  “No, not that!  Anything but that!  You know what I’m facing there.  You can’t …”

Her savior interrupted him again.  “Begone, ” he said.  And her attacker ran away.

Her saviour then turned to her, and she didn’t see what it was about his eyes that made her attacker run off, because they seemed to be fairly normal, although they were an unsettling ice blue. He was, well, pretty much average: average height, average weight, average looks. Pretty nondescript, really. He was dressed all in basic black, and his face was a bit pale, but otherwise you wouldn’t even notice him if you walked past him on the street. Nothing to suggest that he’d be able or willing to stand down a monstrous killing machine without batting an eye.

“He won’t be bothering you again, ” her saviour commented.

She started to thank him profusely with the standard lines about how he’d saved her and if she could do anything to repay him, which is the point where he stopped her.  “In fact, there is something you can do for me.  In the future, I will come to you and ask you for a favour.  It will take no more than a few hours of your time.  Before we leave here, I merely ask that you agree to do this favour for me.”

If she hadn’t been just coming off of a situation where she was sure she was going to die, she might have found the fact that he didn’t tell her what the favour was ominous and might have thought twice.  But she was alive and was going to wake up again, and so she simply agreed to it.  She thought she saw a slight hint of a smile cross his otherwise emotionless face and then some kind of cloak billowed out from behind him and enveloped her, and when the darkness faded she was awake in her room, with the sunlight streaming into her room from behind her curtains.

Her first thought was that the whole thing was just a dream.  But then she noticed that the scratches that her attacker had made while chasing her were still fresh on her skin.  What was more disturbing, though, was the note left on her bedside table, that read merely “Watch for my coming.  D.”

Bayesian Analysis a la Carrier: Carrier on Loveman

January 27, 2023

The big issue for Carrier’s analysis on Loveman is that he seems to jump to a number of conclusions that aren’t entirely supported by the paper itself.  For example, he says this:

So she focuses on that failing to pick up what is not being often-enough noticed or admitted: that much of this content does not support the conclusion that his liaisons were always or even typically consensual. He was essentially raping under-age servant girls and even family friends and the wives of clients, and on a more regular basis than his Diary records (as Loveman confirms by quoting Pepys’s own references to doing so).

But the paper itself only gives a couple of examples, which aren’t enough to suggest that his typical liaisons weren’t consensual.  I was willing to go along with the argument that he would commit rape, but the paper does not provide enough evidence to say cause us to doubt that the majority of his relations were indeed consensual, and the only references Loveman has, as far as I can tell, for any rapes is the diary itself (or similar works), and so are also things that his diary records.  So this seems unsupported and contrasts with how Loveman herself is far more careful in her comments than Carrier is (she, for example, doesn’t say that most of his conquests were non-consensual, but finds a couple of examples that were ignored and adds in more cases that today would certainly be problematic but weren’t then, like seducing servants).

And there’s also this:

Notably, it can be expected that Pepys never imagined any woman would read his Diary, given all the barriers he set (verbally, institutionally); he could not have expected its eventual publication, much less an actual woman being an actual historian actually getting into the archive at Magdalene College and actually reading it. It seems to me that Pepys expected “boys club” protection, whereby a select few men could secretly admire his “conquests,” while simultaneously never letting anyone know about them who might take less kindly to the information. Which entails he knew the men of his time quite well, as history proves out. The secret was well kept for centuries. What he could not anticipate was a rising equality, affecting both the prevalence of women at that level of study and the prevalence of men not admiring his treatment of women once learning of it.

Given what is said about Papys in the rest of the paper, this seems highly unlikely.  It’s certainly the case that he didn’t expect too many women — if any — to get access to the diary, if he was overly concerned about the impact it would have on his reputation he simply wouldn’t have included it.  Thus, it seems far more likely that he didn’t consider these things to be something embarrassing, which also then explains why people kept this “secret”.  After all, even in Loveman’s paper she notes that many historians not unreasonably see his use of polyglot — multiple languages — is less an attempt at secrecy and more an attempt at playfulness or adding sophistication, and so is more of a stylistic point to get greater interest and engagement with the diary rather than as an attempt to hide anything, even by making the events difficult to decipher.

And this ultimately undercuts Loveman’s thesis.  Carrier quotes Wikipedia saying this about the diary:

He recorded his daily life for almost ten years. This record of a decade of Pepys’s life is more than a million words long and is often regarded as Britain’s most celebrated diary. Pepys has been called the greatest diarist of all time due to his frankness in writing concerning his own weaknesses and the accuracy with which he records events of daily British life and major events in the 17th century.

Loveman’s thesis would call this into question, but given the use of polyglot as a playful technique and noting that other works at the time tended to treat sexual matters that way we have good reason to think that his doing that was more for propriety or style than secrecy, and these parts of the diary in and of themselves wouldn’t overcome any other parts where he was clearly being completely frank, or at least frank to a degree that we wouldn’t have expected.  Since Loveman doesn’t address any other examples, it may well be the case that when we take the entire diary into account we would see that if he had actually raped a woman or seduced an underage girl he would have simply said that, which would raise a serious challenge to Loveman’s thesis that he wasn’t being forthright about his sexual conquests.  And surely this is something that would have to be taken into account in a Bayesian analysis … but Carrier doesn’t consider it at all.

Another flaw here is that Carrier spends a lot of his post linking her paper to the discussions of mythicism versus historicism about Jesus, saying that her paper is an example of how to do it right and constantly linking what she says to what his opponents on those matters say and their motivations.  This is, of course, utterly irrelevant to both her paper and a Bayesian analysis of her paper, and so takes up a lot of space without saying anything.

So, finally, onto the analysis itself — other than comments about how great the paper is — which as usual is the shortest part of his posts:

I’d set posterior odds on it at thousands to one, at the lowest. Because even if the prior were even-steven (it’s not), and even if Loveman had only five examples as evidence (she has more), and even if each were 20% likely to exist on some other cause than she hypothesizes (it’s nowhere near), then if no common cause explains them all (and given their diversity and independence as events, it couldn’t), that’s 1/1 x 5/1 x 5/1 x 5/1 x 5/1 x 5/1 = 3125/1, over three thousand to one odds on her being right. The actual odds therefore must be even better. These are rough estimates to be sure, but they measure the unmistakable.

For someone who is doing this to show the proper use of Bayesian analysis to evaluate such papers, Carrier’s writing here is surprisingly unclear.  I originally thought that he meant that if each of her pieces of evidence only had a 20% chance of being correct, it’d still be extremely unlikely that she’d be wrong, and was going to reply that this only works if each piece of evidence was independent — so it couldn’t be the case that if one was refuted others would be refuted as well — and if it couldn’t be the case that refuting one of them would refute her entire thesis, which is probably not the case here.  However, on re-examination, it’s entirely possible that what he means is that the evidence is 20% likely on another theory (and thus 80% likely on hers), but all he’d be saying there is that since her theory is more likely on the evidence then we should consider it to be more likely on the evidence, which means that there is no reason to bother with doing the math at all.  If her theory is more likely on all the available evidence and so is the better explanation for all the evidence then we don’t need to invent a 20% versus 80% to calculate odds to determine that her theory is the better one.  Alternatively, he’s saying that even if another theory was 20% more likely on each piece of evidence we can do this math to still conclude that she’s almost certainly correct about this, but that doesn’t seem to make sense.  So for someone trying to advocate for Bayesian analysis, he’s not being at all clear in showing — and taking surprisingly little time to show — how it works out properly here.

But this also strikes at my biggest objection to at least Carrier’s approach to it, because his analysis ends up being strangely disconnected from the actual content.  Just look at what he does there.  He pulls that 20% number completely out of the air, calling it a “rough” estimate but he doesn’t list the evidence here individually and show step by step how it all works, but instead even notes that he’s supposedly downplaying how good her evidence was by using a smaller number of examples than he says she has and lower probabilities than he says she really has here.  The first complaint is the one I made about the last one:  if you are going to advocate for a system that relies on doing some more than basic mathematics on it you really need to do the math on it fully every single time, or else we have to wonder if doing the math is worth it.  The second complaint is that you can play all the mathematical games you want, but if that’s disconnected from the actual logical content of the argument it’s useless.  If someone could refute her claim logically — whether using her evidence or other evidence — all of his mathematical games would not avail him one bit.  So it looks like the biggest advantage of his method is to allow him to ignore what was actually said and instead abstract it all away to mathematical operations so no one will think too much about the actual content of the arguments.  And that’s not what an epistemology should really be doing.

Thoughts on “Night Howl”

January 26, 2023

This is a movie that is part of a 4-pack of movies that I picked up cheap.  This one is noted as being the more recent one, with the other three being advertised as “classic” monster films.  The four movies cover off the four classic monsters:  this one covers werewolves, the next one covers vampires, the next one covers mummies, and the last one covers Frankenstein.

The plot of this movie is that a man who works as a photographer is having dreams about his mother’s death and potentially of being a werewolf, and we learn that his mother was seemingly killed by a wolf when he was a child.  There also are some strange animalistic killings in the area.  He then takes some pictures of his model who is attracted to him, and he has a friend who pops by every now and then.  Eventually, they all hang out together when the model picks the lock on his apartment to let them in.  While the friend and the model somewhat bond, it’s clear that the model is interested in the photographer, but then the friend is killed by some kind of beast, and we see images of a werewolf-like creature.  The model and the photographer sleep together, and while hunting for the beast they enter a dark building and it is revealed that the werewolf is really the photographer dressed up in a cheap costume, having developed a split personality due to the trauma of losing his mother.  We see him in the hospital and then it cuts to the model having become pregnant with his child and then deciding to raise it on her own, and at the end the photographer appears to apologize for not being able to be there for the child (implying that he died) but then the werewolf creature appears above the child’s cradle, and the movie ends.

This is a movie that has really, really terrible production values.  Everything seems so very, very amateur, from the cinematography to the acting to the cheesy werewolf costume.  I give them some credit for using it being cheap and cheesy in the plot itself as it turns out to be him in a cheap and cheesy costume, but for the entire movie that amateur image made it really, really difficult to get immersed in the work, and horror movies really need immersion to make them work.  Some more amateur movies — like “The Blair Witch Project” — can make that work, but to make it work you need to have a premise and plot that can make us overlook the amateur presentation or, in the case of “The Blair Witch Project”, actually make that presentation the point of the movie, but this isn’t that sort of movie, so it really dragged me out of the movie.

I’m also not fond of the characters.  The friend’s role is one that works pretty well for this sort of movie, but he’s an aside, not a main character.  The photographer is played by the writer and director of the movie and despite being not a particularly attractive man gets to have the attractive model in love with him and the landlady or whatever explicitly state that he’s a very attractive man, but his looks and mannerisms don’t work for those sorts of superlatives.  Beyond that, he’s not a very interesting or sympathetic character.  The model is supposed to be more interesting, but she’s placed firmly in the “strong, aggressive woman” role which makes her grating, an impression that only softens when she gets pregnant and has to deal with the baby.  So for most of the movie I didn’t like most of the characters, although I will admit that some of the interactions between the two are interesting, especially when they go to explore the dark house and she chides him for being afraid of the dark.

The ending also doesn’t work, mostly because it’s so ambiguous.  Did he die in the hospital?  Then is what we’re seeing his ghost or something?  But if he didn’t, why was she and he both talking like he was never going to be able to interact with his child?  And what was the point of having the threat of the werewolf there?  It almost looks like a setup for a sequel that no one would want and wouldn’t follow from this ending anyway.  Ending it with her decision to raise the child alone or even with his visitation as if he was a ghost would have worked so much better.

I can’t really get past the cheap production values and the uninteresting characters, even if there are decent moments in it.  This is a movie that I won’t be watching again.

Thoughts on “King Henry the Eighth”

January 25, 2023

So this is the last of the plays in my collection, which means that it’s the last of the official plays and is arguably the last one written.  Of course, it’s a historical, and aside from “Julius Caesar” I haven’t cared that much for the historicals.  At least part of that is because the historicals really are a dramatic rendition of the historical events, and as such there’s not really any kind of direct plot.  The plot is really a bare bones outline of the events, and so these plays move from event to event as we follow through the history, but the plays tend to end hinting at events to come and there’s no real overall theme to these plays.  This means that unless you know and care about the history is can be easy to get lost and even easier to not feel any emotional connection to the events or the characters and so have nothing to grasp onto to make us want to see what happens next (or how those events are portrayed).

The play focuses on Henry the Eighth as he ends up concerned about not having a son as heir and so divorces his first wife Katherine and marries Anne Boleyn.  It also includes a number of machinations from an ambitious bishop and then later a challenge against the new Archbishop of Canterbury at the end that is preempted by the king himself, and it ends with the birth of Elizabeth.  So as you might guess, there isn’t really much of a plot joining these events together, other than history itself.  So I’m not going to be able to use the plot to form a connection to the play.

However, the play works because it does a really good job of connecting use to the characters.  “Julius Caesar” escaped the bubble of being an uninteresting historical because it focused on and developed the character of Brutus, but here the play gives pretty much all the characters the same treatment.  As is par for the course for the historicals, Henry and even Anne get less of this that we see for other characters, but they are prominent enough and we are privy to enough of their internal thoughts that we can understand why they do what they do.  Henry’s first wife gets quite a bit of characterization, enough that we feel sad at her being put aside and sad at her death.  The Archbishop of Canterbury is given enough characterization that we can feel happy at the end when he is exonerated but it is ambiguous enough that we can wonder if he is as ambitious and is playing the games that he’s accused of.  And more importantly, this ambiguity carries over to the main antagonist, which is the bishop.  We can see that he is manipulating things and doing so unfairly, but he protests that it isn’t him doing which, obviously, seems hollow, but when his schemes are foiled and he is sent away from court he claims to have reformed and one of Katherine’s servants comments on his good points so that she — and thus we, since she is sympathetic and was one of his strongest opponents — can see that he is a more ambiguous character than he might have seemed.

With all of this, we have an oddity:  a historical that I actually enjoyed.  It doesn’t rise to the level of the great tragedies or even comedies, and I don’t think it is as good as “Julius Caesar”, but the connection it forms to the characters finally hits what a historical should be focusing on and creates a play that actually can indeed stand the test of time.  You don’t need to know these events in detail or have an emotional connection to them to feel for the characters and so be interested in how it all works out, which is rare for the historicals.  Henry also plays a bigger role in the play that is titled with his name which happened in “Antony and Cleopatra”, but the difference there is that the title characters aren’t sympathetic while Henry is more so and so far less annoying.  So the last play is, for me, a surprisingly interesting and enjoyable play, even more so because it is in a category that I haven’t enjoyed throughout this process.

Which leads into the last set of things to read:  the poetry.  I am not a fan of poetry, but I will read all the poems and talk about what I thought of them next time.

Video Gaming That Isn’t TOR

January 24, 2023

So for the longest time my most consistent video gaming was playing “The Old Republic”, because I could schedule it for Saturday mornings and play it when I didn’t have anything else to do, and since I would start at 6 am or so and play until 10 am it was usually fairly easy for me to have nothing else important, at least, to do at that time.  This bothered me, though, because there were always lots of other games I wanted to play and didn’t have time to play.  So when I redid my personal schedule on New Year’s Day I scheduled some time and decided to take another shot at playing Dragon Age Origins with an ex-pat of Spencer from “Pretty Little Liars” in the Human Noble origin.

So when I started playing it, I ended up somewhat regretting it because it really seemed like the role would have fit Hanna better, mostly because there are a lot of snarky and petulant responses that fit Hanna better and when you talk to the Loremaster or whatever he hints and there are responses to suggest that you weren’t a good student.  This feeling was so strong that I was briefly tempted to restart as Hanna, but I resisted.  It also still works a bit for Spencer because she can be a bit snarky herself.  The one thing that has been annoying me so far about the game is that it breaks the normal “what gender/sex you are doesn’t matter” by having people comment on it.  A lot.  Morrigan appeals to you being a woman as if that might make you more reasonable, and lots of people comment on the idea of a woman being in the Grey Wardens as being odd since it’s rare.  You can also try to shame your companions in the early quests by saying that you’re braver than they are and you’re a woman.  I tend to avoid using those sorts of responses, and it being brought up is annoying me right now.  I think — and hope — that it will get better as the game goes along.

Another thing about the game is that it is taking me a lot longer to get through it than I expected … and I’ve only played two sessions.  The reason is that in my schedule I have about 5 hours booked off once a week to play it, and haven’t managed to play for that long during either session, which means that while I had hoped to be at Lothering after the first session I’m still at Ostagar after two sessions.  Now, when I planned this I figured that I wouldn’t get the five hours in, but thought that 3 – 4 hours would be pretty reasonable, which would mean that I’d finish the entire game which I think is about 40 hours long in about 2 – 3 months.  However, due to my morning things taking longer than I expected and my wanting to stop at a natural stopping point I’ve gotten in about 2 hours per session, and at that pace I’d be finished the game in about five months.  Now, from things like the Shakespeare reading I know that I’ll be able to stick it out for that long — if I don’t get distracted by something else, which is a real threat for me with video games, especially if I read The CRPG Addict while waiting for things to compile or install —  but that is indeed a long time to play a game.

And one more thing about the game for me is that I’m chafing a bit at how in order to get and do everything you need to basically explore everything and everywhere.  Thus, I spend a lot of time making sure that I scour every area to get everything.  And since I didn’t start as a Rogue, I don’t have the ability to open chests and locks, and so some things I have to leave behind, and since I tend to always be cash strapped in games it annoys me to leave that stuff behind.  I first noted this sort of “Need to explore everything” gameplay in JRPGs, and to be honest at the time I think it was one of the things that attracted me to the genre.  Even in previous plays of DAO I was more annoyed by not having the inventory space to store everything than the need to explore everything.  But now with less time to play the urge to explore everything is causing me to take even more time to play the game which makes me feel like I’m taking too much time which makes me more anxious about that and so on and so forth.  It doesn’t help that in TOR I don’t need to do that anymore, even though I can if I want to.

I’m also playing quite a bit of Risk II, one of the three disk-based strategy games that I installed on an old system a while back.  Out of the three, Risk II is the game that usually plays the fastest, and playing with the missions and the Same Time option — all moves are placed and play out at the same time — makes for a very interesting experience, even when I’m playing against myself.  The only issue is that depending on the missions and how things work out the time taken to play the game can vary widely.  If someone gets a “Take out Player X” mission and can do that early, the game can end in about an hour.  If there are a lot of players with “Conquer continent and other areas” mission at the end, then things can take a lot longer.  I had an epic clash of such players going but ran out of time for the night and kicked myself later that I just quit and didn’t save it to play later.  I then played again and hit that sort of situation again and this time did save it and finish it the next day.  Risk II is turning out to be a really good game to play when I have 1 – 2 hours to poke around with something and don’t feel like reading and get a hankering to play a game like that.

Anyway, those are some comments on the video games that I’m playing that aren’t TOR.

Halcyon Diary: Tython

January 23, 2023

So this is Tython.

I caught a shuttle to Tython to begin my Jedi training.  It’s a nice planet.  Maybe a bit too nice for intense training, but then again meditation is a big part of the training and those natural vistas would certainly promote the feelings of peace and centering needed for good meditation.

Well, it would if it wasn’t for the blaster shots happening in the background.

It turns out that some native creatures called “Flesh Raiders” were attacking the compound, and I was asked to help out.  I took the time to change into my Jedi uniform and equip the two lightsabers that were part of my heritage, one with a silver colour crystal and one with a magenta one.  This, of course, made me stand out from the other padawans who had training weapons and more simple robes, but I wanted to reflect the tradition of my family.  Some might criticize me for showing off or having too much pride, but I was willing to take that chance.

Because at least I wasn’t an idiot about things like revenge.

I went out to deal with the Flesh Raider attack and rescue some other students, and found some of them there but one was injured … and one wanted to head out and kill Flesh Raiders.  All by herself.  When her first encounter with them was a disaster.  I had combat training from CorSec and Jedi training from what had been left for me, so I was able to handle them, and I’d proven that I could handle them in getting to the students in the first place.  They didn’t have that training and had proven that they weren’t capable of handling the Flesh Raiders, but wanted to do it anyway.  Maybe vengeance really does make Jedi stupid.

It turns out that a Force sensitive named Caleff was helping them, on the orders of someone else.  I stopped him but then had to seek out my new Master Orgus Dinn and the head of the order Satele Shan to address this.  While much of the Jedi Council relocated to Tython after the attack on Coruscant, it certainly seemed like a big deal if the head of the Order was involved.

Of course, the next step was pretty prosaic:  help out a local Twi’lek village that the Jedi had been happily ignoring, even against Flesh Raiders, until it seemed related to this issue.  So then they sent me to investigate the attacks and try to patch up relations with the village.  Yeah, you know things are bad when I get sent to do diplomacy.  Anyway, I met their ailing Matriarch and dealt with some of their issues, and then when I returned the Matriarch was dead and her daughter was in charge.  They seemed to be happier with my approach to them, because I didn’t lecture them on the ways of peace and was more concerned with just doing things.  Yeah, that’s the standard complaint against the Jedi:  all talk, no action.  But some of the stories I’d heard from CorSec hinted that when the Jedi acted that often was worse.  Maybe they needed someone like me who was biased towards action but as a duty and part of the job rather than as a reaction to something bad happening or to a judgement that their enemies were immoral.

Speaking of which, the Flesh Raiders had been protecting their camp with an energy field, which was beyond their technical knowledge.  Turns out that a Dark Jedi who was a former Padawan of Orgus was behind it as part of a plan to destroy the Jedi Order.  After finding some more Flesh Rider bases and after I took one of them out, I returned to the village only to get drugged and captured by them.  It turns out that that Dark Jedi had threatened them and made a deal that they’d be safe from him if they turned Orgus over to him.  The daughter wanted to make sure I was left alive but some of the others didn’t want that, so I ended up killing them but leaving her alive.  I wasn’t happy about it, but I could understand them feeling threatened by a Dark Jedi and feeling that this was the simpler way to deal with it.  Fortunately, I’d found a T7 unit that could find Orgus, and so we set off to find him.  I was happy that the T7 unit wanted to join up with me, as I’d had a partnership with one back in CorSec.  I had to leave him behind when I left CorSec to train as a Jedi, and this one made me miss him a bit less.  Yeah, yeah, I know that some would say that I was getting too attached to a droid, but they have personalities and their own quirks and are often more like people than some people I know.  This one hadn’t had a memory wipe for a while and so definitely had its own personality, which wasn’t like my old partner but was interesting and refreshing nonetheless.

We headed out to the Forge and took on the Dark Jedi, but he wasn’t a match for me and I ended up sparing him in the hopes that he could be returned to the Order.  But, again, it’s clear that there was someone else behind this, and so after being made a full Jedi Knight I took T7 and headed off to Coruscant to pick up the search there.

I in the Sky 1

January 22, 2023

Well, you ain’t never caught a rabbit …

Shannon walked into the kitchen to get another cup of coffee.  She moved with an athletic grace that she was somewhat vainly proud of, since she’d been an athlete in high school and while she didn’t have the time for sports anymore she liked to think that she could still compete pretty well, and even that if she had put more focus on her chosen sports she might have been able to make the national team or even have gone professional.  But she really used sports to pad out her CV and to work out her aggression and competitiveness while she prepared for a more professional life, finally landing on the fringe of politics, not running for office herself but helping to form and influence policy as part of an advocacy group.  It let her exercise her intellectual talents and involved a lot of different things and forced her adjust to a lot of different situations, which kept her on her toes.  Which is what she liked.

She brushed her long dark hair out of her eyes, picked up her cup, and looked from the kitchen island into their family room, where she saw her husband, Alex.  He had the manner and body of an intellectual, not an athlete, although he had a mix of “manual labourer” in the body as well.  He far preferred intellectual pursuits, but as he needled her — and occasionally her parents and sister — he hadn’t come from old money like she did and so he’d had to “work for a living”, and he was as proud of that as she was of her athletics, even if just like her he could spend more time doing the intellectual things that he really loved instead and so didn’t do those things all that much anymore.

Right now, he was doing something that always annoyed her.  He was playing chess.  But what you have to understand is that when he played chess, he didn’t just play chess.  Especially when the two of them were the only ones in the house.  He had had a chess table custom made for him, and so what he was doing was staring at the board, making a move, and then releasing a catch on the table, rotating it around so that he was now playing the other side, and then would stare at the board and make a move from that side, and then repeat until he won the game.

“You know, I hate it when you do that, ” she commented.

“If it bothers you so much, you could always volunteer to play instead, ” he replied, not even looking up from the board.

“I hate playing chess with you, ” she replied.  “You always win.”

He shrugged, still considering his move.  “I play Scrabble with you, and you almost always beat me.”

“Yeah, but it’s easier for you to lose all the time, ” she replied.  “You’re not as competitive as I am.”

He snorted.  “That’s certainly true.”

“Why don’t you just play against a computer or something instead of playing against yourself?” she asked.

“Because either I’ll figure out its pattern and beat it all the time, or else it’ll turn into a Court Martial type of situation, ” he replied.

She paused for an instant, wondering if she really wanted to follow up on that, but curiosity had always been her weakness.  “I know I’m going to regret asking this, but … Court Martial?

“It’s from an episode of Star Trek …”

She rolled her eyes.  “I should have guessed.”

“… where Captain Kirk is on trial.  Spock is playing chess against the computer, and notes that since he programmed it the computer is as skilled as he is but won’t make mistakes, so assuming that he makes no mistakes either the best he can hope for is a draw.  If I did manage to find a really, really good chess computer that could beat me, then that’s the best I could hope for, and if there’s no chance of winning there’s not much point in playing.”

Shannon thought for a moment, and then said, “Wait, if you don’t want to play an inferior computer program because you’d win all the time, why do you want to play with me when you win all the time?”

He grinned, still not looking up from the board.  “Because at least then there’s something nice to look at across the board.”

She smiled.  “Now there’s an …,” she started to say, but was interrupted by a text on her phone.  Reading it, she let out a small gasp, and then hoped that Alex hadn’t heard it.

But he had.  “What’s wrong?” he asked, finally looking up from the board and turning to face her.

“Nothing … nothing’s wrong, ” she replied.

But she couldn’t keep the concern out of her voice, and he stood up and walked towards her.  “I still remember that tone of voice, a tone of voice that I haven’t heard in years.  You don’t mean …”

Her heart in her throat, she nodded.

He looked concerned.  “What does it say?” he asked with trepidation.

Well, they said you was high-classed …

Well, that was just a lie, ” he finished.

I”, they said together.

Bayesian Analysis a la Carrier: Loveman on Papys

January 20, 2023

Continuing my look at Carrier’s attempts to demonstrate Bayesian analysis, I move on to the second paper that he examined.  This one is by Kate Loveman and is entitled “Women and the History of Samuel Pepys’s Diary”, which means that we are getting into one of the papers where the thesis is not at all apparent.  The main point, even in the abstract, is that Samuel Papys left a diary for history to peruse, and while some historians might be taking it at his word it turns out that Papys went to some extremes to ensure who could get access to it and also seems to have left some things out.  Obviously, none of this would apply to the title, so Loveman gets to the title by focusing on how Papys discusses his sexual history and how he doesn’t really mention his mother’s side of the family, which I think we can all agree makes a pretty tenuous link to the title.  She discusses his maternal relations a bit and also focuses on instances in his diary where his sexual relations were almost certainly close to if not indeed rape, which can make a link to how women were treated in those days.  The descriptions of these events — especially tracing the maternal relations — are too long to be seen as simple asides but there doesn’t seem to be a main thesis here that ties into the title, so her intended thesis is a bit ambiguous.

What makes this even more difficult for me is that I don’t find what I think is the main thesis — which is that Papys carefully curated both what was in his diary and how it could be accessed to favour himself — all that surprising.  It would not at all surprise me that he would do that, nor that he would be at a minimum overly aggressive in his sexual pursuits.  Given what she says about him, I don’t find it at all surprising that he would use extortion and even force at times to get sex.  That being said, claims that he is overly sexist wouldn’t be justified by this.  Even in Loveman’s paper, it is clear that the reason that he focused on the paternal legacy is not because he thought that his maternal side was tainted by being female, but that his paternal side had the more prominent names and focusing on them would benefit his position more.  As Loveman notes, he was more than willing to turn to his maternal side when he felt they could benefit him.  Thus, he comes across as being someone who was ambitious and focused on achieving his ambitions — and desires — and preserving his legacy against potential attacks, especially those that might not be entirely fair.  That a prominent political figure in those — or any — times would act that way is hardly surprising.

Now, you could argue against some of her claims, as one claim she makes is that he was trying to seduce underage servants, but the argument there is a bit weak, as Loveman comments that the girl was denied a promotion and posits that it was because she was too young, but then Loveman notes that the next year the girl was promoted and Papys noted that he wasn’t sure she could handle being in a position if authority over other servants, which thus could be the reason she wasn’t promoted the year before as opposed to it being her age.  The main evidence for acts of forceful rape is one case where he used a word that he used for a forceful attack in another instance and that he was injured in the encounter, which is hardly a smoking gun.  In order for Loveman’s theory that he was being surreptitious about how closely his sexual encounters hewed to the definition of rape, it in fact must be the case that his comments on the matter were ambiguous, which leaves a lot of room to argue that she’s reading her preferred thesis into what was said.  As I said above, though, it wouldn’t surprise me if he did that which is the reason why I won’t even bother.

However, all of this, as noted above, makes the paper seem a bit unfocused.  While tracing his maternal line and talking about them is not uninteresting, she didn’t need to talk as much as she did about how Papys curated both his words in the diary and who could access the diary to demonstrate that, and the discussion of rape doesn’t fit.  The rape does fit in as good evidence for him trying to cast his actions in a flattering light, however, but ties only lightly into the title of the paper.  For me, the big flaw here is that Loveman really doesn’t do anything to show how taking Papys “at his word” has caused errors in history.  As she traces his maternal line, she doesn’t really find anyone who is all that prominent or notable in the line, which obviously was going to be the case because if they were sufficiently prominent we would have known about them from their own achievements.  All she shows is that they didn’t get to bask overmuch in the reflected glory from Papys … but since we do know things about them from when Papys relied on them and since for the most part he was ignoring them himself, they don’t deserve any.

Ultimately, it seems to me that the most consistent purpose of this paper is for Loveman to denigrate a historical personage that she happens to dislike, at least in part because of what she feels are his sexist tendencies.  After all, when she discovers that ultimately his diary only got to the university that he wanted to bequeath it to due to a female relative, in the conclusion she says this:

Fifty-five years later, Anne Jackson proved a different kind of emergency fallback: Pepys had spent years training up male successors in Will Hewer and John Jackson who would protect his reputation and legacy, only to have a female custodian finish what her three male kin had begun – and subsequently be overlooked by posterity.

While it isn’t a smoking gun, here she is using a phrasing that suggests that this was something ironic, and so something that Papys wouldn’t care for if he knew it had happened, when the rest of the paper makes it clear that he had no problem relying on women if he thought it would benefit him, and so if he had known that it would work out this way he likely would have given the diary to her in the first place.  Also, she finalized the process and didn’t do the work to initiate it, and so her being overlooked by posterity is not all that unreasonable.  The focus on rape and the attempts to show that his maternal lineage should not have been overlooked really do suggest that what is driving her is how Papys and the historians that study him are acting in ways opposed to feminism or to what a feminist analysis would focus on rather than on making a truly interesting historical point.  Again, I don’t see any real reason to challenge at least some of her characterizations, but what I’m missing is the historical significance of her interpretations as opposed to the ones that were made and would be made without the understanding that she imparts here.