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The Weekly Gnuz & Lynx Roundup: 2014/03/02


Radial Waves 1

Radial Waves 1

G’day, and it’s a new month. This last week was good, if a bit chilly here in the Northern Hemisphere, but wherever on the planet you live, I hope things went well for you. I’ve been fooling about on Twitter, a bit more active on there than I’ve been recently, and I’ll be doing #FFing throughout the week regardless of day.

I may be blogging for Monday and Tuesday this week, but that depends on workload and study time. Things are a bit iffy for posting during the week, but we’ll see.

I’d like to start new blog drafts while adding to those I have already saved on file, and I’ll be working on new large print-quality fractal about 3×3 ft to 5×5 ft, while doing research for a friend of mine — the process of finding the material is complete, until newer and better data comes along, of course. Only the scouring of details, followed by the organization and presentation of data remains to be done.

The cats are being their usual ebil selves, with Mister Eccles taking up most of my desk chair as I type this. As for the ‘Iko Iko’ parody posted this last Wednesday, the Dixie Cups et.al. have my apologies for mangling a perfectly good song with hideously unspeakable Lovecraftian madness.

Talotaa frang!

My Weekly Blogs Roundup

Roundup of The Other Blogs

The Odd, the Strange & the Sciencey

Weekly Blog Stats

  • 140,882 pageviews total,
  • 2,079 comments posted,
  • 2,298 entries posted, including this one,
  • 230 WordPress and email subscribers,
  • 2,125 Twitter fellows,
  • …and 533 Tumblr fellows

Last Week’s “I F***ing Love Science”

 

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The Past, the Present, and Future: Toward a sustainably active blog


Arachnofest

Arachnofest

Good morning. I hope that the current run of fiction pieces over the last week or so has proven interesting for you, and if not, that’s okay too — as with the fractal image posts for many of you, not everyone enjoys that sort of thing.

An active blog is an acceptable one, and this site has been active since starting day 1 of December 28 of 2008.

The site has had its ups and downs, and it was most active in 2010, getting some 40,000 pageviews and at least a comment each day that year. My active time spent online and very frequent posting schedule was largely responsible for that, but reality intruded, and I soon discovered that I could not do other things and still keep up that pace.

That was also the year I began building a wider online social network presence, through such sites as Twitter, Facebook, and the paid service blog aggregator BlogSurfer. Then reality intruded, and I discovered the interest to ‘complete’ my education, or at least to come as close as can be done given the years I have left…

…no, I’m not dying any more quickly than most, mind you, but even a long life is brief and precious. I’ve been through 49 complete trips on spacecraft Earth around our stellar primary, and counting.

I discovered the value of lifelong learning, first through introductory college-level courses published by the Teaching Company, and then from other online sources. There was also the use here and elsewhere for the first time of personally-generated fractal art, originally intended only to spice up the other entries on the site but quickly becoming something more.

During the site’s first two years, I’ve posted things that showed poor netizenship on my part, and which today make me cringe a bit upon seeing them clicked on at the stats page when they surface during web searches leading to this site.

But I will keep all of those on the site, as deleting posts doesn’t feel right to me — it seems a not-so-wee bit shady going into this blog’s 5th year and quickly approaching its 2000th comment.

Things got complicated. The bloggosphere got less interesting when my favorite sites disappeared from the web forever, and fellow bloggers burned out and quit blogging. In my own life, educational commitments and new people came into online interactions. My blogging changed, with the decline, some of it recently, of regularly scheduled entries on this site. Many of the regular tools and features now on the site’s admin pages weren’t yet standard WordPress features, and others used then fell by the wayside on constant system upgrades of the servers hosting this blog.

I don’t make a pence from the pageviews this site gets, and I will not if I can help it. Thus, I’ve bought off ads being shown on the site and don’t care nearly as much about pageviews as I once did. I’ve learned that pageviews are less important given my needs, and overconcern for them is irrational and unskeptical.

Sure. Traffic is good to a degree, but online discussion is much more so.

While working on the fiction pieces, a few ideas have presented themselves for this blog’s continued activity, until I migrate over to a different platform for continued posting sometime next year. In the interests of positivity, I’ll tell you what I’m going to do, and only afterward, what won’t be done even if and when it has been:

First, I’d like to put out a call for contributing writers for the site, any who might be interested in offering their time for regular or occassional posting on this blog at their option, who will be given full access to this blog’s admin page.

I’m also putting out a call for any parties interested in contributing guest-posts on the site, which I’d definitely like to see more of.

I’m going to reblog posts more often, with permission when required from the original author, of course, as I’ve slacked off on that in the past year or so.

For those on my personal mailing list, by the time this post comes online, I’ll be back to posting links to the week’s entries on a regular weekly schedule, starting now and continuing from then on each Sunday to the hour noted on my ‘to do’ list.

I’m cutting down on reposting onsite items except where necessary, or unless the item has been properly and accurately updated and expanded with newer and better information.

I’ll be bringing back posts once used as regular features, keeping those elements that work and adding new features not found in earlier installments. Some of those will be posted on specific days of the week, like the upcoming return of the series ‘Caturday’s Astronomy Pix,’ and others, though posted semi-regularly.

I’ll be posting material with appropriate commentary when needed on skeptical, artistic, science, and mental illness topics. I’m interested in all to a degree, and have a personal interest in the latter.

There shall be more book reviews and reviews of online and digital media courses I take, more so than has been done.

I’ll also post more on skeptical activist topics, critical thinking, logic, and on skeptical software tools I come across, but not on Atheism+ or the hubbub going on about it, as I don’t think myself knowledgeable enough to comment on it, nor do I care to get involved. That’s not my kerfuffle.

Since I’ve already done so in earlier posts, and have nothing new to add, I’ll no longer post on anti-theistic topics, including activist atheism, or critiques of religious apologists and their arguments.

I’ll no longer post direct attacks on religions, religious belief, politics, or religious faith, as I’ve been there and done that, thank you. Existing posts will be retained. ‘Nothing here to see, citizen…Move along.’

Only when specific empirically testable religious, political, or other ideological claims intersect or interfere with science will I post on them.

Finally, I’d like to thank all of you absolutely fantastic people who over the years have commented on, critiqued, ‘liked,’ shared, retweeted, and otherwise interacted, both on this blog and across many other social media…

…because you all have made this experience what it was, is, and will be. YOU make it worth keeping at.

Thank you, and Talotaa frang*

Troythulu

*”Stay strong, stay well, and be brilliant as the stars” translated from Old High Kai’Siri

We are verbs.


I’ve decided to update my bios on various venues on the web at some point, since most of them are simplistic.

Too simplistic. Convenient, but still too simplistic.

Why?

Because people are not nouns. We are not collections of simple one-or-two syllable terms. Human beings can never be adequately defined and described by simple static descriptors.

We are what we are, but nothing about us can be fully captured in the space of a few brief words. We do things, we perform actions.

We are verbs, not nouns.

We are not just artists, nor writers, nor believers, nor nonbelievers, nor followers, nor leaders, nor students, nor teachers, nor are we just collections of the countless other descriptive labels, though these are a useful shorthand when we are in a hurry, or constrained by space limitations on a blogpost or a brief biographical description on a personal website.

The problem is that over-reliance on these leads to stereotyping, because language is not neutral, and the meaning that the writer of the blogpost or bio-page puts into them very often isn’t the same as the meaning that the reader supplies to them.

Ask a religious nonbeliever what ‘atheist’ or ‘agnostic’ or ‘humanist’ or ‘secularist’ or ‘rationalist’ or ‘freethinker’ or ‘antitheist’ means and ask the same of any randomly selected self-described religious or spiritual practitioner, and very, very often you will get two very different answers.

The content and meaning of these answers will diverge greatly, depending on the differences in culture, worldview, education, and personal background.

Ask someone who practices analytical thinking skills, has a fair level of scientific literacy, a healthy level of suspicion for questionable claims, and who values the use of reason in argument what a ‘skeptic’ is, and you will very likely get a completely different answer from that of, say, a New Age practitioner of crystal healing and Reiki.

The point is, again, that few people, save those with compatible perspectives, are likely to attribute the same meaning to the same nouns, so labels can cause difficulties.

They lead, for one thing, to stereotyping, though as long as one keeps in mind that the stereotype is just a schematic and not a literal representation of reality, all is well.

The problems result from the fact that few of us do this. We tend to be lazy thinkers, even the smartest of us, using cognitive shortcuts to reach closure on a matter quickly, and while this is efficient and usually works in ordinary usage, it is hardly adequate for scenarios we are not prepared for, that may require deeper levels of problem solving skills.

When we see a stereotype and confuse it for the literal reality of what or who it seems to apply to, not just a schematic or an abstraction, we commit a hasty generalization — reaching closure on something from an insufficient number of instances (or too low a sample size in statistical lingo) — and this can lead to bigoted thinking.

I am not a skeptic, nor a fractal artist, nor a blogger, nor a cat person, nor any other collection of nouns, though I’ve used these as a convenient shorthand, not that it hasn’t caused confusion in a number of instances…

Better still, from a verbal perspective…

I practice and seek to develop clearer thinking skills, to hone the edges of my reasoning and argumentation ability, improve my level of education and science savviness, to protect myself and others from scammery and flim-flam artists, to look into the claims of cranks and quacks, and generally help support good science education.

I make fractal artwork as a pastime with the intent to develop it to professional levels. I think that cats are some of the most awesome animals on the planet, and not just in internet memes (though I confess some bias there).

I post on a number of blogs and internet social media like Facebook and Twitter, and through these I’ve come in contact with and interact with some of the coolest people my species has ever produced.

Like anyone else, there are countless things I do daily, weekly, monthly and over spans of years, even the most ordinary tasks, that cannot possibly be adequately captured in just a few words on a Twitter bio or Facebook page.

People are far too nuanced than that, and that includes anyone reading this post.

So consider thinking of people in terms of verbs, not static nouns, as intelligent causal agents who do things, rather than just simple clusters of tags and labels. The world may seem a lot more complex if you do, but it will also be a lot more interesting as well.

Try it.

The Gnuz and Lynx Roundup for Caturday, 2013/03/23


English: Profile Photo of Kylie Sturgess

English: Profile Photo of Kylie Sturgess (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

G’day, peeps! This Caturday marks the first time in a bit that I’m on my own even with my evil feline masters pulling my puppet strings…

There’s a family gathering up north, and I’ve opted to stay home to take care of the plants, my own cats, and to feed the little furry beggars that stop by for kibble and cheeseburger or the equivalent thereof. Study has come along nicely, and I’ve plans to sign up for online courses at a local college during the summer.

I expect that I should do well, though it’ll be a bit before I decide on a major and get into a full-fledged Uni. Blog-hopping has seen a few changes, with my favorite Token Skeptic, Kylie Sturgess relocating to Patheos blogs this week, and I plan on keeping up with her posts on a regular basis. Hmmm, I’ll have to update all bookmarks linked to her old site to the new venue, but that shouldn’t be a worry.

I’ve been getting a bit more personable on Twitter, which is a good sign, as I’m no social beast and don’t chat up easily, but I need to build and maintain regular interaction with other rationalists, my nonbeliever and skeptic friends, book bloggers and writers, and those more prominent members of the online rationalist community I keep up on. Most of my tweeting I now do on Tweet Deck, and I have been making heavy use of Facebook, which somewhat less activity on Pinterest and Tumblr.

———–Bloggy Lynx———–

———Others’ Bloggies———

————-Odd & Doubtful Stuff————-

———-Bloggy Stats———-

  • 125,214 steely gazes cast here since 2008/12/28m
  • 1821 comments approved – Please keep them coming!
  • 2032 posts, including this one,
  • 188 WordPress subscribers – Thank you…You make this blog worth posting on!
  • 1969 Twitter fellows,
  • 19 likes on Facebook… Much appreciated!

———-The Randi Show – Coincidence———-

Monday Morning Post-Game Thoughts: A Bit of Introspection


“I don’t always die, but when I do, it’s at the tentacles of alien demon-squids intent on tasting the edge of my blade.”

~ Sergei Romanova “Kotetsuame”

That, or something vaguely like it was something that just popped into my head earlier last evening during the weekly game-session with my friends, and a number of other things did as well.

Among them, what things in my life would I have done differently if I could have, and how so?

For one thing, I wouldn’t have been so in need of closure in my knowledge as I was as a teenager. About that time, my religious indoctrination was well on its way to weakening, and even then I flirted with atheism despite knowing precious little of it.

There was enough dogmatic thinking left in my skull to keep me dependent on certitude, which despite numerous opportunities for dating in middle school and high school (I was then quite partial to brown ladies, particularly Filipinas, and find many women of a number of Eastern ethnicities rather striking…) left me so uncomfortable with uncertainty that I rarely had the confidence to ask any of them out.

I was always a nerdy type, not a romeo.

Needless to say, I now regard that dependency on closure as rather absurd, and it got me in trouble in a number of other areas too, like arguments with others, and oh, the irritation I felt when my claims were questioned, often by people more knowledgeable than myself in those areas, I was to find out later on my own.

Silly me. Silly, arrogant, foolish me.

What else? Well, I’d have cultivated a healthier attitude toward learning, and better reading and study habits. This would have been invaluable, but given my…condition…I don’t think it was something I really could have dealt with then, but less even knew to be a problem, at the time.

Only later, after effectively dealing with my condition (which reared its ugly head then and took lots of insight and treatment to overcome — and I still need that, as it’s never completely gone away), was I even able to address that. Well, no time like the more recent past and the present.

Next.

I’d also have developed my people skills more, though I’d always been a bit of a loner as a kid — I didn’t like crowds, and people were just irritating. Perhaps I could have curbed my dislike of social situations, but at the time I just didn’t care, and really didn’t then see the benefits of being more sociable.

Well, I manage to ditch the certitude problem, and I’m much more at home with uncertainty now that the religiosity of my youth has gone, I’m currently having a good time with my home study courses, and with my weekend comic-shop, weekday library trips and gaming sessions, I’m doing a much better bit of work on my social skills. Being on hiatus from Twitter for a week was useful, as it gave me a lot of time to think about what I use it for and how to achieve that now that got back on as of later last evening.

I suppose that as long as I’m alive and not totally incapacitated, there’s time to correct, not everything — that would be a tall order indeed — but whatever a bit of effort is realistically capable of fixing. I suppose that’s all I should expect, to work on what I can and try not to get bent out of shape by the rest. I can’t travel back in time to change things, but then maybe I don’t need to.

I don’t have the ability to never die — I don’t think anyone does — but I do have the ability not to care and to focus on what matters.

The rest should fall into place nicely.

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