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!

Fractals of the Week: Rather Odd-Looking Uploads of Dire Strangeness

G’day. I’ve been posting a bit to deviantART this week, so here are a few pieces I’ve uploaded. Right now, I’m generating the digital canvas I’ll use for this month’s mosaic project, so that will be posted when it’s complete at only 64 tiles, not 240 as with the now-cancelled project for last month (the tiles were ruined by poor rendering settings, and would take too long to redo completely). So here are a few really strange ones for your scoping. Enjoy.

Talotaa frang.

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.

MetaCognitions 2015.05.05

I love the paranormal in fiction and in games, and in a rich fantasy life of occasional mind-wandering, but I’m not a believer in it.

I think that whatever things we find in the world, and beyond our own if we discover other universes, consist of the natural, the normal, and those many, many things we’ve yet to figure out if and when we ever do. Might there be unexplainable things? I don’t know. We’ll have to look first.

Mind you, I’ve experienced some weird things — just nothing that passes muster as being genuinely paranormal, now that I know what to look out for in my mistakes of thinking and perceptions. I’m less inclined to see ghosts when it’s really just my cats in the dark of my bedroom closet.

Does the paranormal evaporate in a puff of smoke when looked at too closely? Is it shy, or shatter to pieces in the mere presence of doubt?

If skepticism has that kind of power over the forces and entities of the paranormal, then it seems to me that their usefulness is limited indeed.

Bending keys with mind power? Talking to dead people? Reading minds using techniques any decent stage magician can perform? Aliens that travel billions of light years to Earth, expending enormous amounts of energy to do so, only to infuriate farmers by vandalizing their wheat fields and dissecting their cows?

How ordinary!

I’ve looked at discussions of the best evidence for psi, from psychologists Ray Hyman, Susan Blackmore, and Richard Wiseman, to name only a few.

From these analyses, and reading the arguments of proponents as well as critics of psi, I’ve come to think that psi-research has failed to convincingly make its case. But let it keep trying. We still might learn something anyway.

Might there be psi? If there is, then it would become known as part of the natural, as part of the normal — either it can be examined by science or it can’t. If it can’t, then paranormal research so far appears fruitless.

You cannot have it both ways. You don’t get to have the confection-frosted pastry and eat it too. You don’t get to claim the credentials of science while rejecting it in principle and value as well.

Science has limits. This much is obvious. But that does not validate credulity in mysterious forces and beings believed outside its reach.

Science is not just empirical; it is rationally empirical, reason and experience working as a whole. This is needed, for data without reason is nonsensical, and reason without data is empty.

Science is a set of methods, methods needed to sidestep our inherent flaws and biases to get a little bit closer to the truth than before. It’s far from perfect, but nothing we have works any better or even quite as well. Or global civilization depends on it to sustain itself, to feed and support the teeming billions it does.

When convincing evidence of something makes itself known — and it doesn’t have to be concrete, absolute, or necessarily physical in the ordinary sense — then I’ll be convinced.

As someone who was once a creationist, a paranormal believer, and even in doubt about climate change for a time, I can tell you now it’s happened before. It’ll with little doubt happen again.

Flash Fiction: Time to Die

I’m dying, or at least it feels like I am. I’m an old soldier, surrounded by the screams and shouts of battle, the chatter of weaponry spitting death, the thuds of bodies to the muddy soils of this forsaken planet. I feel my life ebbing, and what I can see is at the end of a long tunnel, the light clearing my vision as I reach it. There’s an oddly melodic hum in my ears.

I see a child, a mere hatchling, I recognize myself at the age of five cycles. I’m playing by myself in the communal nursery, away from my littermates, alone in the world, just after finding out about the death of my father. I see myself resolving to follow in his footsteps to be a soldier as he was. There’s a look of determination in my young eyes, then the moment passes. I spy a human girl out of the corner of my eye, putting a finger to her lip to shush me. She vanishes when I turn to look at her.

Time goes on.

I now see an adolescent, myself nearing adulthood. I’ve just gotten a military scholarship at the academy when I receive news of my nest-mother’s death. I resolve yet again, this time to go on ahead on my own. I’m finally released from duty to my parents. My mother has passed into the realm of the dead, ending one era and beginning another. I mean to honor my parents in death as well as life. I earn my commission, and fight as sub-captain against the humans in a major border dispute. I earn glory in battle, gaining the captainship. Just outside my field of vision, there is that girl again. I vaguely remember her from long ago, but dismiss the vision as the result of sleepless nights studying and training.

Time goes on.

I see myself in my later years, a couple of decades prior to now, Gaining an outpost assignment as a brigadier on a far world of the galactic fringe. I fight the mighty Broogh, only with great loss stemming the Flow across the rim of the galaxy from this access point, and saving my civilization’s people in the process. Another moment of joy complete as I survey the survivors of the battle and order the treatment of the wounded. There’s that girl again, just like before. I begin to think I’m going mad, but again dismiss the idea.

Time goes on.

I’m back, still lying in sticky, blue-tinged mud, bleeding to death, now a field marshal, and finally, fatally wounded. My hearing fills with the sounds of the dying and I try to speak, but feel a finger to my lips, seeing the face of that same young human girl, her arms cradling my head as I die, her voice, that hum again, comforting me as the light dims.

My last thoughts:

I know of her.

I know this girl.

The Tempest.

The Herald of Sarusammog.

Time’s up.

Fractal of the Week: Kirbyesque (on deviantART)

I made this image recently, as a tribute to the late comic book artist, Jack Kirby. It is available on my deviantART page, linked to the image here, as a free download — though I must warn you, at 9000 x 5400 pixels in size!

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.