Gods of Terra Primer | The Wavetouched: Children of Terra


Gods of Terra actually has little to do with any sort of truely supernatural forces or supreme beings, beyond the fact that religions that promote belief in them exist. So though there are beings in the setting with tremendous power, ultimately, even they have limits, and even they can die. 

So, Gods of Terra is really about false gods, and the evolution of humanity, of  beings with sometimes remarkable powers and abilities whether aliens, new emerging hominin species, or technologically weaponised humans. 

One such hominin species, a new side-branch of Homo sapiens, is the wavetouched, H. mirus, and its three stages, each its own subspecies, and each progressively further isolated reproductively from H. sapiens. I’ll hereafter refer to Homo sapiens as baseline humans as they are the standards against which all other species in  the setting are compared for admittedly humanocentric reasons as well as game-balance in an RPG setting.

Each stage is as follows, with each having its own taxonomic name, with in fact a rather tangled web of descent from baselines, and in fact much intermixing going on between these to the chagrin of so-called “race realists:” 

Stage I: (H. mirus mutans

Called mirants, these are not strictly mutants despite the nomenclature, but the offspring of mutants, and are the first stage to breed true with itself or with baseline humans to produce hybrid offspring sharing the robustness of both parents. Mirant genes tend to be dominant, though in no way necessarily “superior” to baseline genes, but seldom bearing recessive traits. Offspring are fully fertile with baselines. 

About 50% of the subspecies have some potential for psi-abilities, but without a hyperseed, a submicroscopic quantum hypershard that grows and unfolds  to coexist with the developing brains of such talented individuals, there is no energy source available to fuel this potential and put it to use beyond the latent stage. The law of conservation of energy applies here, and only a fully developed, unfolded, and active hypershard can tap into an external energy source for the psionic latent to achieve a fully active stage. 

Mirants have less of the usual baseline human psychological weaknesses, and more of the strengths. Mirants find it easier to pick up effective reasoning skills on average than baselines, and though possessing many of the same psychological biases and heuristics, tend towards better insight and more efficient ways of countering them. Abstract reasoning and critical thinking come to them more readily, more naturally, though they must still be trained in these to do them with skill. 

As well as that, mirants have the full range of human emotions and expressiveness, but are less prone to fuzzing the clarity of their thinking under stress and strong emotion. The first four Gods of Terra were all Stage I’s weaponized with Prime hypershards, without significant innate psi-ability of their own. They were beings of tremendous power even then. 

Stage II: (H. mirus miradi) 

With higher on average psi-q scores than even mirants, and known as miradi, this stage is reproductively less compatible with baselines, and only about 60% of the time will such mixes produce fertile offspring. All wavetouched are fully fertile with each other across subspecies. 

Wavetouched are across all subspecies about 99.9% genetically similar to baselines, with most of the difference going to their cognitive strengths and psionic potential. Stage II’s still require an active hypershard in their brains to power their psionics, having only baseline metabolisms though with more robust physiques and fewer of the hereditary disorders common to baselines on average, while they sometimes have others of their own that can cause problems.  

Stage III: (H. mirus hyperiadi

This subspecies, called hyperiads in common parlance, are almost fully reproductively isolated from baselines, and have the highest degree of neurobiological distinction. They cannot serve as hosts to a hypershard implant, either imposed from without or inherited by hyperseed. They also have the highest average psi-q’s of all wavetouched, and one other important feature that allows them to use it: a brain structure similar to a third prefrontal lobe, situated between the left and right prefrontal lobes, with specialized neural and glial tissues permitting the transduction of energy from an external source to a psionically useful form. 

They can draw power to fuel their abilities merely by being physically near, or better, touching an external source and willing the transduction process. Geothermal taps, high-intensity flood lights, and high-voltage electrical sources are good for this. 

So long as transduction occurs, no injury or harm from the source will result to the user, though the energy source must continually generate output, for while a Stage III’s remarkable brain structure can transduce energy, it cannot store it like a capacitor. 

Stage III wavetouched are estimated at one out of a billion humans, though none have yet been unambiguously identified in observations of any known world’s population.

Conclusion: 

These three subspecies may even diversify further, and are at present already beginning their ascendance in human planetary demographics since H. sapiens began its decline during the Shutter era more than five centuries ago. Baselines are on their way out, and it is projected that they will be supplanted on their own worlds by Stage I wavetouched within the next thousand years or so.

Evolution marches on, and that of humans can be no exception.

Quid Novi? | Gone? No, still here, just crazy busy.


Vanakkam. I’ve mostly been off the blog, with a couple of days re-releasing earlier posts that have been sitting in my drafts admin page since April 2018.

Mostly over the past couple of weeks, I’ve been keeping up and maintaining the house and cats with no assistance from family. Needless to say, it consumed most of my waking time, and even passable time-management skills didn’t help much in my posting new entries on this site.

Otis the Indestructible, one of our old strays, has been getting his regular feedings an average of three times daily, four or more on especially cold days. He doesn’t see or hear very well, but he’s learned to identify me by voice and stride pattern, and comes running when he smells his gushy food. He’s healthy for his age, or would be without his skin condition (we think it’s probably cancerous, and it’s slowly spreading…), and he’s not very social. but I’m glad he took to me so quickly.

I’m back to penning down drafts for new posts here, and will resume operations on the Call by next Tuesday. Family is back in town, and that permits more time for hobbies, like blogging. These last few days since fam returned from their trip, my study time has resumed, but is a bit disorganized, loosely involving Tamil and minor subjects, like mental calculation skills for serious fast number-crunching with precalculus and geometry.

So I’m reopening posting after this unintended pseudo-blogcation.

I’m glad to be back..

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Cat Thursday | Mister Eccles Sez the Four Postulates of Grand Conspiracy Theories


Vanakkam. This entry was inspired by a post by Andy Hall of Laughing in Disbelief on Patheos. I thought it might be fun to update these postulates (because I hesitate to call them laws) and use some of my favorite shots of the diabolical Mister Eccles, tuxedo and all, with a little skeptical content.

Gods of Terra Primer | Setting History Part 1


Vanakkam. I’ve provided the following timeline for Gods of Terra, ending at the onset of the Shutter and the collapse of Local Galaxy civilizations. Part 2 of this history will resume on the resumption of interstellar travel in the setting, post-Shutter. Enjoy.

9 billion BPE (Before Present Era): abiogenesis and evolution of first life in the universe. 

4 billion BPE: earliest known intelligent life. Primitive artifacts date from this period, eventually leading to traces of the first technical civilizations. 

3.5 billion BPE: the King of Shards ascends as a hyperdimensional being. In the next 30 million years BPE, several other alien entities will arise as godlike beings, and join the King of Shards as the Nine Who are One. 

3.47 billion BPE: the Nine Who are One formally join forces, ruling the Grand Civilization of the Local Group until three billion BPE. 

3 billion BPE: fall of the Grand Civilization in a bloody civil war as relations among the Nine break down into chaos. The King of Shards splits into Its avatars across all spacetime to survive, others of the Nine go into hiding or face destruction at the hands of their fellows. 

Creation of the Prime hypershards. 

1 billion BPE: Evolution of early multicellular life on Terra. First known Stranger artifacts date from this period on many worlds, and in increments over time lasting several million years. The longevity, nature, and sophistication of Stranger civilization remains a mystery. 

300000 BPE: earliest anatomically modern humans, visit of Terra by the Strangers. Human samples, not live individual humans, are taken from Terra, genetically altered, gestated, and seeded to hundreds of worlds in and beyond the Local Galaxy. 

30000 BPE: Kai’Siri civilizations begin. Early organized religions, primitive political systems. Science as an institution would rise, fall, and rise again in successive dark ages. 

15000 BPE: Kai’Siri develop early M-drive, and begin settlements across their region of the galaxy. First contact with Mokthraga of Tokmolos, upon which war breaks out. 

6000 BPE: Founding of the First Exarchate of Sirug by the Kai’Siri.  

5260 BPE: Collapse of first Exarchate, Last Great Sirugian Dark Age begins. 

2000 BPE: End of Last Great Sirugian Dark Age. Founding of Second Exarchate. 

900 BPE: First contact with the Tellusine of Terra. First interstellar conflict between the two branches of humanity. Founding of the Tellusine Federated Worlds.  

850 BPE: The Galactic Ripple washes across Terra, empowering a new species of humanity, the wavetouched. Four of these would a century later host the original Prime hypershards and become the four Gods of Terra.

750 BPE: Discovery by the Kai’Siri of three Prime hypershards, first use of hypershard warfare using weaponized humans. Origin of the Fractus, the Mirus, and the Magna. The Tempest receives her hypershard from Sarusammog of the Gates, AKA, It Who Scratches at the Gate. The Broogh Flow enters this region of the galaxy, threatening local civilizations. 

400 BPE: Death of the Mirus by natural causes. His funeral pod is intercepted and his hypershard is stolen. The regenerating hypershard, now without a host, triggers a cosmological accident as it self-repairs, rendering all use of the interstellar M-drive impossible. Collapse of Local Galaxy civilizations as interstellar travel is halted by this event, later to be known as the Shutter.

Quid Novi? | Restructuring – New Years plans


Vanakkam. Now that the year is underway, I’ve got a full weekly study and work schedule set up. This post is the last of those already prescheduled on this blog, so I’m announcing a two-week blogcation and recharging period so that I can keep things updated here and still have room for non-blogging activities while not endangering my health.

One thing I’ve added to my schedule is experimenting with recording podcast audio clips, so giving me even less time to allocate, though still within my limits. Tamil study is coming along well, while I’ve also begun lessons in precalculus, graphic design fundamentals, and in shorthand script for rapid lecture/debate transcription.

But, that being said, what’s in store for the site at blogcation’s end?

I’ll continue the Gods of Terra primer series, the next installments being part I and II of the setting’s history. I’ll also post new installments of the Lost in Translation series, for some cool mnemonics I’ve come up with for Tamil vocabulary, and some of those for Bengali past tense, present tense, and negational verb forms that I’ve found useful.

I’m doing new fiction as well, and that and the Gods of Terra primer installments will also appear on this site’s sister blog, Checkerboards of the Gods.

While I’m not writing and finalizing new drafts, I can spend time updating older posts. I’m nearly finished on a few posts in draft already, including a tutorial on Mandelbulb 3D, now for v.1.9.7.

I’ve see a need for more skeptical content on the blog, so with my tendency to binge on podcasts I’ll use that for topical inspiration. That should be fun, and a great opportunity to support the shows I enjoy.

So,

I’ll see you in two weeks, ready and recharged. May the intervening time be good for you as well!

And with my hideously amateurish grasp of Tamil, I’ll leave you with this:

Naan pooyittu varaenga.

Mr. Eccles Presents | Mindscape Podcast – Roger Penrose


Blog post with show notes and transcript: https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/…

Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/seanmcarroll

Sir Roger Penrose has had a remarkable life. He has contributed an enormous amount to our understanding of general relativity, perhaps more than anyone since Einstein himself — Penrose diagrams, singularity theorems, the Penrose process, cosmic censorship, and the list goes on. He has made important contributions to mathematics, including such fun ideas as the Penrose triangle and aperiodic tilings. He has also made bold conjectures in the notoriously contentious areas of quantum mechanics and the study of consciousness. In his spare time he’s managed to become an extremely successful author, writing such books as The Emperor’s New Mind and The Road to Reality. With far too much that we could have talked about, we decided to concentrate in this discussion on spacetime, black holes, and cosmology, but we made sure to reserve some time to dig into quantum mechanics and the brain by the end.

MetaCognitions | Cynicism: Just Another Bias


There, I said it. Cynics who view their cynicism as an asset, of course, will disagree, self-assured in believing themselves perfectly realistic and objective, completely missing the fact of their own self-deception. I will be accused of crippling naiveté. Of bias.

But that doesn’t even pass a basic prima facie, “On first face,” relevance test.

So I’m biased? So my views are skewed? So what? Who cares?

I’m biased. You’re biased. We’re all biased. Everyone is biased. To be human is to be biased. We just can’t seem to help ourselves. I’ll be up front with my biases: I’m pro-science, pro-rationality, pro-reality, pro-humanity, and anti-anything that dehumanizes or needlessly harms people.

We all view the world through a subjective lens, evaluating and passing judgment to everything and anything we come across without even knowing we’re doing it. Much of it is below the level of our conscious awareness. And there’s no way we know to step outside of our own individual brains save for the methods of science.

Complete certain knowledge about the world and perfect objectivity are impossible. Our brains and senses just don’t work that way. And to see the world and everyone and everything in it as fundamentally hopeless, ultimately futile, and irredeemably rotten is simply applying another set of value judgments, though destructively negative ones. 

I’m reasonably sure that if I had all of the same genetic contributions to my personality, all of the same upbringing, all of the same environment and life experiences of a staunch cynic, I would very likely be one now.

But I have not. Yet, I myself struggle daily with the temptation to cynicism to which our 24-7 news cycle culture subjects us. Clearly, that struggle is part of being human also. Some lose that struggle, and these deserve empathy and understanding, not the contempt they offer others, and not the loathing they often offer themselves.

If that sounds condescending or offensive, then consider this: Anything ever written or said will offend someone, and I don’t have the right to infringe on anyone’s freedom of thought to even try dictating for them what that might be. It’s out of my hands what any given person finds offensive. My point is, though, that I’m not condescending anyone. 

I’ll make the presumption here that most reading this are adults, or young and almost-adults, and should have thick skins in proportion to their own level of personal maturity. To treat others as functionally children by pandering to their feelings seems to me the epitome of condescension.

So, here’s why I’m throwing shade on cynicism as an alleged asset, virtue, or worldview: 

Cynicism means you’ve given up. Cynicism is surrender to bitterness, to an attitude of feigned superiority, and to contemptuousness. Cynicism is a cheap excuse for inaction, for fatalism, and for moral cowardice. In what universe are those anything but destructive?

All things pass, even the terrible things people sometimes do to each other. I do not have any use for a worldview that tells me that everyone by default is lying to or manipulating me and everyone else. Just because the world seems like an awful place doesn’t mean it ought to be, or that it’s useless to do something, anything, to make it less awful. Trying to make the world a better place is not a mere easily dismissed utopian faerie tale. Human effort applied unwisely causes our woes, human effort applied wisely can fix them.

I do not believe that human beings are fundamentally depraved. I view most of us as a mix of both good and evil, both right and wrong, both moral angels and devils at various times. We are all people, and people are complicated. 

I see people as having some worth, and the ability for some measure of good, skeptical thinking, a healthy blend of scientific literacy and critical thinking, though not as innately talented. It’s more of a capacity, a potentiality, and something we must learn as a skillset to do well in order to come to a more accurate, better, more useful view of the world and of ourselves. 

Good thinking ought in my view to be for everyone. It’s empowering. It’s illuminating. Good thinking is almost a kind of super-power. It’s even better than being able to throw silly comic book energy-bolts at people’s heads. It can be used for nearly everything in life. To me, it opens the gates to reality, the gates to wonder, and it’s also great fun.

Why say this? 

Because I can. Because I believe I should. To do something more useful than to merely shake my fist and simply rail and curse the night. Because I see people, even those I know and care for, fall prey some kind of pseudoscience, specious political claim, or fallacious health scare. And it’s not because they are somehow gullible, or stupid, or weak. 

Oh, no, it’s just not that simple!

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m gullible. There are times when I’m far too trusting, far too easily swayed by spurious argumentation, and I believe many things that I cannot possibly prove objectively. I have to watch myself daily, hourly, and despite this, I sometimes fail.

To blame the deceived for their own deception is to ignore the fact that we can all be fooled at a vulnerable moment by anyone who knows how to push our buttons. We are best of all at pushing our own buttons. To be human is to be vulnerable, no matter how smart we may think we are. To think ourselves immune to that is to ignore our own vulnerability, and we cannot be vigilant against a foe that we ignore. 

To blame the victim is cynical, and with the sense of false superiority that comes with it, that cynicism makes us lower our guard. Ironically, even con artists can be conned, especially by other con artists who know what hooks them. Cynicism easily leads to being used and manipulated, despite its frequently implied justification of defending the cynic from being used and manipulated.

I think that good thinking is a much better defense against the dark arts of scam artists, pandering politicians, and fraudsters than cynical thinking, which only makes you more vulnerable, not less.

And those, I think, are reasons enough.

(This post has been updated on 8/1/2019, 14:50)