Quid Novi? | Commentators’ Guidelines Addendum


I’ve posted this elsewhere on the site just yesterday, though I’ve been using the policy unwritten but de facto for several years now. I’ve officially updated my Commentators’ Guidelines page with the following addendum. ~Troythulu

I believe firmly in free speech up to a point, and it has come to my attention that at least one reader has attempted to comment on posts only to have their comments wind up in this blog’s spam folder for meeting Akismet’s criteria for spam.

I’ve used for the last several years a strict policy of deleting such comments as brevity in this blog’s comment threads is a virtue and a Good Thing™ for the aging eyes and limited time of other commenters and myself. It also saves me time otherwise spent offline in posting any needed responses in a thread.

Please keep any comments, even if a previously approved commenter, concise, succinct, and with as few links as possible. If you need to post anything over 75 words, please post it in full on your own site and post a brief comment with a link to the appropriate comment thread here.

I, my cats, and the other readers thank you for your consideration.

For example: https://troythulu.net/2017/06/10/ubi-dubium-the-three-faces-of-skepticism/ Skepticism is both a set of intellectual and ethical values as well as a process, a set of methods, not merely an identity or a label. Any yahoo can call themselves a skeptic. If you ignore skeptical values or methods in what you do, then you aren’t being skeptical.

Tf. Tk. Tts.

I’m Baaack.


It’s time to end the most recent blogcation and resume regular posting. This piece originally dates from 2010.11.21 after my first blogcation had ended. My anger has largely abated, except when vulnerable people get hurt or defrauded, and my disillusionment regarding the failures of skeptical thought leaders in their endorsement of the infamous Conceptual Penis Hoax of Lindsay and Boghossian. Hopefully, I’ve migrated to a skepticism more robust and better informed than before. But I do think less of these individuals as serious skeptics than I once did. Things change, and so too my views. This post has been updated where needed.

We live in an angry society which in some quarters values blind faith over thinking, with political and ideological polarization between right and left, religious fundamentalists and everyone else, and a notable rise in public rejection of science and credulity toward pseudoscientific claims.

In times of uncertainty, especially with the current status of the economy, people tend to more easily entertain irrational ideas, and worse, accept them as fact. It’s become common for many to behave as though irrationalism is the new reason.

Skeptics are motivated by a number of reasons for their being what they are, whether a passion for science, the value of truth and reason, simple doubt, the need for the promotion of better education, and any number of other reasons. But skeptics can also be motivated by anger, and a few wear this openly while others are no less honest but more discrete in expressing it.

Even the late Carl Sagan, in his masterpiece The Demon Haunted World, at times showed a subtle frustration at the proliferation of nonsense in the last decade of the 20th century, which has only been aggravated in the past 19 years and shows no sign of abating any time soon. He wasn’t abrasive about it, but he expressed a frustration that I suspect all of us feel.

The causes of this anger come easily to mind; loved ones lost through the denial of adequate medical care caused by the pursuit of quack remedies, and the crushing despair that follows false hope; children or adults hacked to pieces or burned alive in the name of superstitious beliefs in witchcraft and magic; botched exorcisms that kill far more people than any imaginary demon ever could; intelligent but vulnerable people who lose thousands in return for the worthless services of psychics; political obstructionism in dealing with major environmental problems based on anti-scientific denialism; the short-term educational and long-term economic consequences of the encroachment of sectarian religious ideologies in public schools and science classes.

These things alone are enough to make anyone angry, and yes, especially me. The people who promote the claims we skeptics oppose sometimes get angry as well, but with much less real moral justification – they are angry because skeptics are costing them customers, cutting down on their book royalties, keeping more people than they’d like away from their seminars, retreats, and churches, and reducing their clientele for whatever untested or failed “alternative” medical modalities they promote – skeptics have bit by bit eroded their celebrity, their influence, and worst of all, their bottom-line, by showing people how to how not to be taken in by the nonsense.

The propagandists of unreason often have the upper hand, since they aren’t in any way constrained by the limits of intellectual honesty, logic, facts, evidence, or even reality. They have the liberty and the incentive to make sh*t up as they please, and they are very effective at persuading people to believe them, considering that their claims, often not even arguments, only assertions, make headlines and grab ratings for the credulous and journalistically sloppy media outlets that promote them.

But sometimes skeptics win, like with Kitzmiller vs Dover in 2005, or the successful deconstruction of the 9/11 conspiracy film, Loose Change, in an issue of Popular Mechanics.

But it’s far from over. In truth, it will never be over. Ever.

It sickens me to the core of my being to see people cynically lied to, used, robbed, defrauded, hurt, even killed, all for somebody’s stupid, blind, dogmatic sectarian doctrine or reactionary ideology. Nothing that we think, believe or do is without real consequences.

There’s work to be done.

Ts. Tk. Tts.

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.

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.

Quid Novi? | 2018: Year in Review


Vanakkam. 

Namaste. 

Namaskar. 

And in Soruggon, 

Ikhtighar Furiit. 

Greetings, humans! It’s been long, long while since I’ve done a decent end-of-year piece on this site, so now that this blog has been around for some 10 years and two days, here it is. It’s been a busy year, with a lot going on. It’s the start in many ways of a new era. I’ve had to let go of things, and embraced both new insights and learned some amazing things along the way. I’ve met new people and parted ways with others. Best of all, my mental health over the past year has vastly improved as I’ve freed myself of what doesn’t work and kept at what does. This is the last post on this blog for 2018. I wish a happy and prosperous New Year for you and yours!

Blogs and Other Social Media: 

I’ve left Twitter, with both of the @Troythulu and @Mister_Eccles accounts deleted. I’ll not be returning in the foreseeable future.

I’ve deleted all but four of my blogs, leaving only two WordPress sites, my Blogger site, and my Tumblr site remaining. 

I’ve deleted two old and moribund FB pages: Mr Riccles and The Collect Call of Troythulu, the former for my cats, the latter for my blogs. 

Later in the year, I restored older blog pages on this site.  

Earlier in April, I began the first major cleanup of posts on my blogs in nine years, deleting low-impact posts and unused tags, setting up others as drafts for rewriting, updating, and reposting for better traction. 

Lifelong learning and Study: 

I’ve finished and reviewed remedial lessons in both of Algebras I & II 

I’ve completed part 1, Units 1-13 of Complete Bengali, began intermediate – level study in Part 2, units 14-26 with some interruptions. Not as much progress as I’d have liked, but no biggie. 

After a hiatus and reorganizing of my study schedule, I’ve resumed learning of Tamil and Hindi, and vastly expanded my subscription to podcasts in both of those languages and in Bengali.  

I began course in graphic design fundamentals. This will prove most useful. 

Home Affairs: 

Got a standing desk attachment for my workspace. 

Assisted with home renovations at my family’s place in the 2nd half of 2018,  

Writing and Publishing Goals Met: 

Self-published my fourth book, The Giant who Fell from the Dark beyond the Sky: And Other Collected Works.  

Throughout the year, made regular contributions to Miss Sharmishtha Basu’s PDF eZine, Agnishatdal (the lotus of fire). 

Started my own email PDF newsletter, The Pikatron Monthly, in June. If you’re interested in subscribing, email me at troythulu@gmail.com and I’ll add you to the list.

Began research on Tamil slang, history, and culture for an upcoming book to be self-published sometime in late 2019, early 2020. 

Mr. Eccles Presents | Mindscape: David Chalmers on Consciousness, Etc.


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

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

The “Easy Problems” of consciousness have to do with how the brain takes in information, thinks about it, and turns it into action. The “Hard Problem,” on the other hand, is the task of explaining our individual, subjective, first-person experiences of the world. What is it like to be me, rather than someone else? Everyone agrees that the Easy Problems are hard; some people think the Hard Problem is almost impossible, while others think it’s pretty easy.

Today’s guest, David Chalmers, is arguably the leading philosopher of consciousness working today, and the one who coined the phrase “the Hard Problem,” as well as proposing the philosophical zombie thought experiment. Recently he has been taking seriously the notion of panpsychism.

We talk about these knotty issues (about which we deeply disagree), but also spend some time on the possibility that we live in a computer simulation. Would simulated lives be “real”? (There we agree — yes they would.)

David Chalmers got his Ph.D. from Indiana University working under Douglas Hoftstadter.

He is currently University Professor of Philosophy and Neural Science at New York University and co-director of the Center for Mind, Brain, and Consciousness.

He is a fellow of the Australian Academy of Humanities, the Academy of Social Sciences in Australia, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Among his books are The Conscious Mind: In Search of a Fundamental Theory, The Character of Consciousness, and Constructing the World.

He and David Bourget founded the PhilPapers project.

Quid Novi? | Year’s End Quasi-Blogcation


It’s that time, time for a hiatus on scheduling posts until I’m back online on the 28th of this December, which would mark the tenth anniversary of this blog. So, posts going live from here until then will all be pre-scheduled. 

I’ll continue to be active on blog maintenance and in responding to activity here from visitors to the site in the meantime.  

I’ve lately seen a need to address my use of social media, including this blog, how I go about doing that. It would be nice to get more traffic on the site, but that’s a poor motivator, as I’ve health, physical as well as mental, to consider. Self-care takes precedence over page views.

The next few weeks and months will be busy as my family and our cats prepare to move out of the house in at least another year’s time. No details just yet until renovations are done and we get ready to sell the condo to move to a temporary place before our final residence out of state. 

I’ll miss Virginia, where I’ve lived since 1974 at the age of ten, in short, most of my life. And I’ll miss the physical company of the IRL friends I leave behind, but I’ll continue to stay in online contact with all of you. 

So, December 28 will see renewed post scheduling for the end of 2018, and for early 2019. I’ll be back, and I hope year’s end and the New Year see all of you in good health and high spirits, or at least better and higher ones given the terrifying shit-show of world news during the last three years. 

Here’s to better times. 

I’ll see you then! 

Tf. Tk. Tts.