MetaCognitions | Language Hangups


Last evening’s Tamil language podcast listening was productive, and vastly more satisfying progress-wise once I got myself into the right headspace to immerse myself and process the dialogue and interviews.

Setup for that takes me about 15-20 minutes of quiet thought, and at the very least a full hour of immersion, whether to speak, read, write, or listen in any language I’m studying. I should work up to an entire day of immersion when family is away for extended periods.

There’s a bit of performance anxiety in that, stemming from previous study of both Japanese and Pilipino, the former in the early 90s and the latter just before the early 2000s.

Both taught me a lot, but in both cases I was not…well…at either time, and was to my eternal regret a bit of an idiot as a student even in my late 20s.

Without getting into personal details or drama, my experiences of both left me with a difficulty in switching between English and other languages quickly or in a public context, especially for interviews or social media posting, and dreading again making an idiot of myself as a learner, this time on the Internet for all to see.

There’s also a lack of patience on my part, as I must remind myself that even in formal study it takes several whole semesters for anybody to make progress at my age in any non-native language, even with an instructor and fellow students to interact with for feedback.

Hindi, Tamil, and Bangla are not easy languages to begin with, especially for non-native speakers like me!

All of my study to-date on the current languages, ALL of it, has been informal, but still marked by progress over time, even with my biases and impatience getting in the way of seeing that.

It helps to take, even in a passing moment of introspection, and actually immersing myself in the damn languages instead of whining, a long view, to see the forests of India’s Big Three languages over time for the trees of any given study period.

Maybe I’ll always be somewhat anxious about being the village idiot of students, but maybe too I can avoid that outcome, to keep up the long game toward what level of mastery I can achieve.

At my age, I’ll probably never reach native fluency in any of them, but that’s cool. I’m not trying to pass as a native speaker anyway, not perfect fluency, only to broaden my horizons and reduce my ignorance of the rest of humanity elsewhere in some small way, however imperfectly.

And d’you know what? I think that’s good enough.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

Quid Novi? | Goodbye, Stan Lee (1922-2018)


Earlier this week, Marvel Comics’ icon and movie cameo star Stan Lee passed away at the venerable age of 95. As a boy, I grew up on the publications that he and others at the Marvel bullpen had created. Yes, he wrote about superheroes, with or without powers, but deeply human, flawed, and believable ones, and he created universes one could discover in the magic of ink on paper. I would eagerly catch these worlds, ripe for discovery each month from the magazine racks of the local convenience store.

That was a time when comics books were “still only 45¢!” and filled with enough stories to tide me over till next month, stories of wonder, no, stories of marvel, pun intended because I own my puns, stories that showed what it’s like to be human in a vast universe of the strange and superhuman. Stories that taught us things about ourselves, stories with real lessons. Through it all, Marvel has always had a humanistic bent, that humans, ordinary humans, were somehow special, unique, a force for both good and evil that could shake the cosmos even without super powers or fancy hardware. Even when rubbing shoulders with aliens, mutants, cyborgs, and among many others, even the gods themselves.

So it’s here I’d like to posthumously thank Stan for inspiring us with heroes we could relate to, heroes we could for the space of a few pages of text and image, believe and delight in, share their adventures in their delightfully flawed, limited, sometimes broken but deeply entertaining humanity, even in those with sometimes mutated DNA, extra-dimensional origin, or advanced technology.

Stan, your work has inspired, and I think will continue to inspire, those of us who carry on.

Peace out.

I’ll close this post with a tweet I found:

Mr. Eccles Presents | Blasphemy Laws as Tools of Oppression


From the YouTube page:

Robyn Blumner, President and CEO of the Center for Inquiry, warns that blasphemy laws are being used as tools of oppression against atheists. “Any law that criminalizes apostasy or the defamation of religion is an unjust law.”

Delivered September 18, 2018 at the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Help CFI fight for freedom of expression and belief around the world! Donate today: https://centerforinquiry.org/support – – – –

Thank you, Mr. President, The Center for Inquiry stands for the rights of atheists and nonbelievers around the world. Today, we are urging the Council to remember that those of us who reject religion have a right to live and speak freely. According to media reports, there is an effort being promoted by Pakistan for the adoption of new international strictures on blasphemy. Any move in that direction would be devastating to freedom of conscience, and would directly conflict with the Rabat Plan of Action that urged the repeal of blasphemy laws where they exist.

Any law that criminalizes apostasy or the defamation of religion is an unjust law.

Blasphemy laws are used as tools of repression against nonbelievers. They give vigilantes an excuse to commit violent acts, and governments a justification to shutdown valid debate and religious criticism.

The number of atheists around the world is growing, which in our view is a positive outcome. But whatever one thinks of atheists, the international human rights community has an obligation to protect our rights alongside that of any other religious minority.

Mr. Eccles Presents | Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and the Future of the Internet


Blog post with show notes:

https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/…

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

For something of such obvious importance, money is kind of mysterious. It can, as Homer Simpson once memorably noted, be exchanged for goods and services. But who decides exactly how many goods/services a given unit of money can buy? And what maintains the social contract that we all agree to go along with it?

Technology is changing what money is and how we use it, and Neha Narula is a leader in thinking about where money is going. One much-hyped aspect is the advent of blockchain technology, which has led to cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin. We talk about what the blockchain really is, how it enables new kinds of currency, and from a wider perspective whether it can help restore a more individualistic, decentralized Web.

NehaNarula is the Director of the Digital Currency Initiative at MIT. She obtained her Ph.D. in computer science from MIT, and worked at Google and Digg before joining the faculty there. She is an expert on scalable databases, secure software, cryptocurrencies, and online privacy.

Mr. Eccles Presents | “Do They Really Believe That?”


“Matt Dillahunty has been hosting The Atheist Experience, a live call-in show for more than 11 years.”

“Matt has challenged assumptions and opened minds and engaged in thousands of conversations over the years. Matt looks back and reflects on some of the difficulties he’s encountered and the lessons he’s learned.”

“Before discovering skepticism and humanism, Dillahunty spent 25 years as a Southern Baptist with ambitions of becoming a minister.”

“In this talk at CFI headquarters in Amherst, New York, on May 13th 2016, he discusses how we all have firmly held beliefs that we will discover to be false at some point in our lives, and how we can have meaningful conversations with people who hold beliefs different than our own.”

“Check out more of our roundtable reasonable talks: https://reasonabletalk.tv”

“Learn more about CFI: http://www.centerforinquiry.net”

Mr. Eccles Presents | Mindscape: Threats to Liberal Democracy


Published on Jul 30, 2018

Blog post (w/ audio player): https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/…

“Both words in the phrase “liberal democracy” carry meaning, and both concepts are under attack around the world. “Democracy” means that the people rule, while “liberal” (in this sense) means that the rights of individuals are protected, even if they’re not part of the majority. Recent years have seen the rise of an authoritarian/populist political movement in many Western democracies, one that scapegoats minorities in the name of the true “will of the people.” Yascha Mounk is someone who has been outspoken from the start about the dangers posed by this movement, and what those of us who support the ideals of liberal democracy can do about it. Among other things, we discuss how likely it is that liberal democracy could ultimately fail even in as stable a country as the United States.”

“Yascha Mounk received his Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University. He is a Lecturer on Government at Harvard, a Senior Fellow in the Political Reform Program at New America, and Executive Director at the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change. His most recent book is The People vs. Democracy: Why Our Freedom Is in Danger and How to Save It.”

Mr. Eccles Presents | Alpha quadrant 6 – Best Sci-Fi Spaceships


Tonight, I’m sharing something from the crew of the Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe podcast, an episode of their science fiction review series, Alpha Quadrant 6. Here, Bob, Steve, and Jay Novella talk about their all-time favorite, iconic spaceships in well-known franchises like Star Wars, Star Trek’s various incarnations, Babylon 5, and others like 2001: A Space Odyssey.

What ships would I add to this?

For my own part, I’d also add the Zentradi starships of Macross, with their alien, ancient, vaguely dilapidated and menacing look and size. The pluses I would suggest are their powerful drives, the vast crew and troop carrying capacity, with the ability in many of them to deploy thousands of heavily armed and armored combat craft. Other pluses include the real-time hyperspace communication systems, and the built-in weaponry, not just the enormous number of beam cannons and missile launchers, but for many, the powerful particle cannon taking up much of the vessel’s long axis.

In many of these ships, the command centers are protected within the vessel’s core, not exposed to attack like in some franchises.

The downsides?

Oh, there are a few!

The first is the disrepair most of these ships are in, with whole sections abandoned and walled off from access. The vessels are fitted for ten-meter tall crew members, not human-sized personnel, which is inconvenient, and the worst is the fact that these ships use ancient tech, about half a million years old, with a crew that lacks the technical skills, and the factory facilities, to fix their stuff and keep it in good condition. Make Britai Krydanik’s command ship with adequate repair crew and facilities, and size the accomodations for humans, it’d be an amazing ship to go to war in or just explore the galaxy. Or the ship commanded by Quamzin Kravshera, with its ability to separate itself into two vessels! Just a thought there.

Anyway, watch this one to the end, as there are others the Novella brothers discuss as well!

Tf. Tk. Tts.