The following descriptions are good approximations of my character, but always with caveats and made as grandiose as possible.

Site Title

Newton’s flaming laser sword is a term coined in 2004 by Mike Alder. In an article in Philosophy Now, Alder draws a parallel between the well known Occam’s Razor and this new cleaving tool. With Occam’s razor, the search space of possible solutions to a problem or question only the most parsimonious survives. While this is extremely helpful, Newton’s flaming laser sword is “much sharper and more dangerous”. Put simply, it says that only propositions that can be tested with science should be considered or even discussed. (Alder 2004)

Thus the scope of this site is defined: Anything that can be tested with science. More narrowly I tend to stick to the fields of chemistry, physics, philosophy, electronics, and computer science.

Descriptive Titles

In no particular order:

  • Pragmatist
  • Secular Humanist
  • Atheist
  • Existentialist
  • Egotistical Altruist
  • Skeptic
  • Hopeful Marxist
  • Human
  • Animal
  • Resident of Earth

Philosophical Inspiration

  • Seneca
  • Sagan
  • Marx
  • Freud
  • Feynman
  • Hobbes
  • Nietzsche

Other Influences

  • Too much science fiction
  • Heinlein
  • Dick
  • Bradbury
  • Asimov

Current Life Goal

To maximize my contribution to the human race.

  • maximize the total AUC of contribution vs time
  • contribution: open to subjective interpretation; anything from reproduction to global welfare; Eudaimonia

Research Process

My current research process proceeds through several utility programs:

Building This Website

This site is first written in pandoc markdown format using Atom. The markdown-writer plugin (and personalized config file) is particularly useful.

Then a series of hacks and poorly coded tags are fed into Jekyll. The ruby gem jekyll-pandoc uses a bibliography exported by Better-Bibtex from Zotero to generate the appropriate citations using a custom .csl style I made for markdown. The complete set of html and associated files are backed up to github and transferred via a rsync script to my web host NearlyFreeSpeech.net.

Progress Phase Tags

Each project page will have a progress liquid tag that describes how far along each project is.


The first phase. This is the initial research phase where the project general parameters are expanded or narrowed. Prior art is located and skimmed.

It is at this phase that a project is determined to be feasible. Primary reasons for project abandon are: expense, lack of tooling, or sufficient documentation elsewhere.

A project in the exploratory phase may or may not have a dedicated project page. They usually start as an aside on the Work Log page.


Primary research is more of an extension of the exploratory phase than a distinct phase. The major difference is more thorough documentation of prior art and research. This is where Zotero comes into play.

Projects in the research phase are given posts.


Some projects require intermediate experimentation to determine direction and/or gain experience. These experiments will probably not be documented extensively except to point out failures and ultimate success.


Once experimentation and/or research has revealed a path forward, the design phase begins. Small details are worked out.


Primary results are reported. This may or may not come before the design phase.


The final and ideal end-point of a project is a write-up. Of course there will be notes along the way, but a complete how-to or more formal Methods description is easier to repeat.

Priority Tags

Sometimes projects have fallen out of interest. low - high priority tags reflect that.


  • ENTP1
  • Typicall score high on Need for Cognition, Openness to Experience, and Epistemic Curiosity

Big Five personality results.2


Email me: flaminglasrswrd at protonmail dot com


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Alder, Mike. 2004. “Newton’s Flaming Laser Sword.” Philosophy Now, no. 46. https://philosophynow.org/issues/46/Newtons_Flaming_Laser_Sword.

  1. This used to be INTP, but I’ve come out of my shell a bit. Also, Myers-Briggs isn’t a very good test anyway.

  2. I disagree with the results on agreeableness. I am usually quite trustful, straightforward, altruistic, and modest. I would not consider myself tender-minded. This particular test from OpenPsychometrics had some unusual questions.