Call Bulletins 2015.05.21


I’ve updated the themes for my WordPress blogs the previous morning. I needed a theme that allows the best range of header and background flexibility, and the utility of a sidebar for mounting widgets. The widget space for the most recent theme, “Chaos Theory” was located at the base of the page, and scrolling all the way down to see it had proven very un-ergonomic to some readers.

Also, I’ve created a new blog for my very personal entries, which are all slowly but surely migrating from this blog and others to here: The Prank Call of Troythulu.

The each post will stay on its original blog for five calendar days before being deleted there once moved to the Prank Call. Henceforth, all new personal posts will be published there.

For older posts, I’m moving the original comments with each entry as well, and all posts with their attached comments will be accurately retro-posted to their original time and date of publishing to preserve context.

Who is a Good Independent Thinker?


Someone I know once cornered me in the aisle of the local game and comic shop, and told me at great length what a wonderful independent thinker she was and how she became one, only minutes before wandering off and telling some random customer at the shop that they ought to watch Fox News and listen to Conservative talk radio for the honest coverage and engaging and insightful commentary. It’s odd, because from my understanding of independent thinking, that’s unethical. Independent thinking is about how to think for yourself, not what to think as you’re told. If you vigorously claim free thought for yourself, you should allow that same right to others, otherwise, you’re doing it wrong. So, I thought I’d put together a collection of the more notable characteristics of an effective and ethically competent independent thinker from my own limited understanding…
So, an effective, ethical independent thinker…
  • …is humble in what they don’t know, in what they do know, and can usually explain how they know it.
  • …knows the real difference between bickering and quarreling, and rational if spirited argument used to reach a provisional conclusion.
  • …is able to locate reliable sources for their claims, and is willing to cite these whenever possible without balking.
  • …does not automatically accept or reject claims on the basis of partisan identity politics or tribalistic in-group/out-group affiliation.
  • …knows that truth can spring from almost any source, even one they normally disagree with. Almost any source. Some few are beyond the pale of the credible.
  • …ought to be intellectually charitable, to both the one they argue with and to themselves in an argument. When two disagree, at least one, maybe both, could be wrong.
  • …does not accept implausible or controversial claims without sufficient evidence, or without the citing of reliable sources.
  • …seeks to understand, not to perpetuate misunderstanding nor to fuel needless animosity based on it.
  • …has a good understanding of their own thoughts, feelings, motives, and biases, and how these might mislead them.
  • …looks for logical fallacies and bad rhetoric in their own arguments, as well as those in others’.
  • …knows when to argue and when to concede on a point, when either is to be preferred, according to the stakes involved.
  • …is either comfortable with doubt and/or ambiguity, or has a fair if uneasy tolerance for either or both if not outright dislike. Not all doubters like to doubt.
  • …does not accept any claim or doctrine absolutely or dogmatically, and is willing to reconsider their position with sufficient evidence.
  • …knows the difference between necessary evidence and sufficient evidence.
  • …avoids misrepresenting the relevance of their own sources and misrepresenting the arguments of their opponents.
  • …knows that fairness in a discussion is symmetrical and works both ways, demanding it of themselves as well as others.
  • …avoids demonizing or dehumanizing those one disagrees with, and is skeptical of stereotypes and labels.
  • …avoids making unwarranted presumptions or casting unsupported aspersions of motive on those one disagrees with.
  • …knows the difference between one’s identity and the claims one accepts as true, on all sides of a discussion.
  • …understands that complete consistency in these principles is humanly impossible, but strives for the humanly perfectible, not inhuman perfection.
Finally, an effective independent thinker…
  • …avoids over-claiming or protesting overmuch of one’s own status as an effective independent thinker or how “fair and balanced” one’s preferred media outlet is.
…for if you have to state it outright, all the time, it’s probably horsefeathers and you’ve got something to hide.

Fractals of the Week: What Odd Dreams May Come…


G’day. I’ve got some strange ones this week, these from two new presets for MB3D, which would make good backgrounds for a desktop or other device. I’ve been experimenting with new parameter files for newer and different images, and there are many false starts and dead ends. There’s been much fun and frustration involved with a good helping of hair-pulling and punctuated by copious expletives in arriving at the finished results.

These two files are available as free PNG downloads at 1920 x 1440 pixels, the first uploaded to the deviantART page for the image, and the second directly to WordPress as a media file, so for that one, double-click to macro-enlargify to full size. They’re hefty in file size, but neither of them exceeding single digits in megabytes.

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All JPEG, PNG & GIF images in this post are original works by the author, created via Mandelbulber, Fractal Domains, Ultra Fractal , Frax, and Mandelbulb 3D and unless otherwise stated are copyright 2015 by Troy Loy.

It’s done! Dirge: a short SF story – now for Kindle on Amazon


“I’m a walking mass-extinction event. I’m a weapon of mass-destruction and weapon of absolute terror in one. I’m a million thermonuclear warheads rolled into a single sleek bipedal package. I’m a cosmic hit-man with a target roster of species and civilizations stretching back decades, all dead; all gone; defunct; nada. And I hate it. I hate all of it.”

So says the Mirus, demigod of destruction and and escaped ex-slave-warrior of the alien Kai’Siri. In Dirge, the first of his published adventures, he must avert the death of his ancestral homeworld of Terra by an alien species offering salvation by the extinction of all life. Can he stop an enemy more powerful and determined than he is?

This is my first published work, now in Kindle, and a wee bit over 7200 words at only 99¢. If you like it, let me know. If you don’t, let me know as well. But in any case, I’d appreciate anyone posting a review on Amazon.

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http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00XMS1ZJ2

I’m not sure about making this a series of books, but I’m working on further stories — out of chronological order set in the same universe. We’ll see.

I must thank those of you who’ve inspired me to keep at this, and who’ve contributed ideas for the story. Among you are Christopher Rice of the Ravens ’N Pennies blog, Ani Salyers, Stu Barton of the Seriously Eclectic blog, his wife, Tanya Reed Barton, Jack Matirko of ZHX Creative and its associated cool podcasts and blog, Ms. Sharmishtha Basu and her many blogs, for helping immeasurably in my motivation, Kate Campbell of the blog Books, Crafts & Pretty Things, Asami Fuji on Twitter @Lillyteardrop, Anneliese Bowman, Zor’ra Farland-StHael, Andrew Scott Hall of Laughing in Purgatory, and lastly, the immense support of my family.

Thanks, all.

Welp, it’s done, so let’s see what comes next!

The prisoner of Sand Castle (Kindle edition) [by Sharmishtha Basu]


snap26-11-14This is an excellent collection of short fiction with cool Indian themes. I’ve always enjoyed Ms. Basu’s paranormal fiction, and this is no exception! My favorites from this are the collection’s titular story, a chilling piece titled Scarecrow, and The Woman in White, of strange goings on in a nightspot.

Three thumbs up!

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For Tagore – rabikare agnishatdal (Kindle Edition) [by Sharmishtha Basu]


snap26-11-14I’ve just completed this, a well-done book dedicated to writer, poet, philosopher, and artist Rabindranath Tagore, in celebration of his birth anniversary by Sharmishtha Basu (at left), who is a much better writer than I.

I love that not only is this a book of poetry and evocative imagery, but also that it’s written in two languages, including one I’m learning while still quite a novice.

I must thank the authoress for this wonderful learning opportunity, and a fitting tribute to the great Bengali polymath himself!

A bouquet of wild flowers (Kindle edition) [by Sharmishtha Basu]


snap26-11-14G’day. I’ve recently finished a reread of of this anthology by talented writer and fellow blogger Sharmishtha Basu, and find it delightful to revisit.

A collection of 70 poems, this is an insightful work by Ms. Basu. If I must choose favorites among these, they would be her verses ‘Heaven or Hell’ and ‘Change your ways India.’ Good stuff to warm a Winter’s (or a cool Spring’s) night!