Jul 14 2014

Chapter 6 of ‘Closing the Circuit’

Chapter 6, Meditation: Beauty.

If you aren’t already reading CtC, start with Chapter 1, First steps are the hardest.

And that makes another 1300 words of my Clarion West Write-a-thon project! Please sponsor me!

Jul 07 2014

Chapter 5 of ‘Closing the Circuit’

Chapter 5, To walk among the fallen.

If you aren’t already reading CtC, start with Chapter 1, First steps are the hardest.

And that makes another 1700 words of my Clarion West Write-a-thon project! Please sponsor me!

Jul 01 2014

Chapter 4 of ‘Closing the Circuit’

Chapter 4, Remembrance: Battle.

If you aren’t already reading CtC, start with Chapter 1, First steps are the hardest.

And that makes another 1500 words of my Clarion West Write-a-thon project! Please sponsor me!

Jun 29 2014

It’s Clarion West Write-a-thon time again

Hey all.

Yeah, I know. I haven’t been posting much lately. In fact it’s been more than six months since I last cluttered up your RSS feed. (For those of you still following me, that is.)

What can I say? I’ve been busy. Work and family stuff mostly, but I’ve also started renovating my old house in the mountains. (Something that is going to eat up a lot of my time for a long while, I think.)

So, yeah. I need to get get caught up here. I have a few new essays I want to clean up and post. And then there is the ‘Simulation Hypothesis and Religion’ series to finish. (Almost done there.) But first I need to call your attention to something else. And, in related news, to a new creative project of my own.

I’m talking about the Clarion West Write-a-thon. This is a major fund raiser for Clarion West every year; where writers set goals and you help to support Clarion West by sponsoring those writers. The list of participating writers is long, but in it you will find some famous names and more than a few not so famous.

Clarion West has an important mission: helping to train the next generation of Science Fiction writers by putting them through an intensive six week ‘boot camp’, designed to give them the tools they need to blow us all away with their creativity and passion. These are writers who are already good, the goal is to make them great. And it is a process that works, just take a look at some of the things Clarion West alumni are up to!

So, if you like to read Science Fiction, support Clarion West by sponsoring a writer or three. I will be.

This leads me to my related news: Among the lesser known in the list of participating writers you will find my own moniker. Yes, once again I am participating as a writer to help raise money. Only I feel like last year was a personal failure in this regard. I didn’t finish the story I started during the Write-a-thon and I failed to market it after I did. In other words, I didn’t raise much money and I basically wrote into a vacuum, never to be read by human eyes.

This year I am doing something different. Instead I am posting my writing as a serial novel to this website as I go under a Creative Commons license. I will continue working on the novel after the Write-a-thon and commit to eventually finishing it, free for everyone to read.

If you choose to support me, I would like you to pledge on a per-episode basis. You are also free to make a single one-time pledge, but to really motivate me you should pledge some significant amount based on how many episodes are posted during the Write-a-thon. (Including those already posted.)

I will endeavor to post at least one chapter a week during the Write-a-thon. You can read along as I go and even act as my copyeditor! (Yeah, how exciting.) This means you will get immediate feedback for your pledge and the more people who pledge the more motivated I will be to maintain steady posting.

So what is it I am writing? I call it ‘Closing the Circuit‘ and it is a rather quirky Science Fiction novel. Here are the first three chapters, to get you started:

So, please sponsor me in the Clarion West Write-a-thon. Let’s make this the best fund raiser for Clarion West ever!

Nov 30 2013

The Simulation Hypothesis and Religion: Part 4 – The Nature of God

In Part 1 (Animism) of my series on the Simulation Hypotheses and Religion I explored some means by which a simulated world, containing Artificial Intelligences called ‘humans’, might exhibit the characteristics of Animist belief; including ‘spirits’ and ‘supernatural connections’ between things. In Part 2 (The God Module) I looked at the role of and enabling factors for faith, especially faith when reality provides no explicit reinforcing factors for the underlying belief. In Part 3 (The Spirit and the Soul) I explored how the dual concepts of ‘spirit’ and ‘soul’ might be enabled by the same simulation mechanisms underlying animism.

(If you haven’t read part 1, part 2, or part 3 yet, go and read them now. If you haven’t also read my essay ‘The Consequences of The Simulation Hypothesis‘ you might want to start there.)

Here in part 4 I am going into deeper and more dangerous waters; I am going to examine the very nature of god (or god(s) or God, if you prefer) in the context of a computer simulation. The thing is, there are a lot of ways you can look at godhood and the divine in that context and some, none, or all of them could be valid. Not to mention the fact many people of strong religious belief might find this discussion a bit dodgy (at best), so I must tread lightly. (Out of politeness if nothing else.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 24 2013

The Simulation Hypothesis and Religion: Part 3 – The Spirit and the Soul

In Part 1 (Animism) of my series on the Simulation Hypotheses and Religion I explored some means by which a simulated world, containing Artificial Intelligences called ‘humans’, might exhibit the characteristics of Animist belief; including ‘spirits’ and ‘supernatural connections’ between things. In Part 2 (The God Module) I looked at the role of and enabling factors for faith, especially faith when reality provides no explicit reinforcing factors for the underlying belief.

(If you haven’t read part 1 or part 2 yet, go and read them now. If you haven’t also read my essay ‘The Consequences of The Simulation Hypothesis‘ you might want to start there.)

Here in part 3 I am going to explore the concepts of ‘Spirit’ and ‘Soul’, specifically those concepts as applied to human beings and other living things. In part 1 of this series I went into detail about how the concept of a spirit could be enabled by an implementation of ‘reality as a simulation’. I won’t expand on that much here, except to the extent to which people have spirits and the ways those spirits could outlast the human ‘physical’ body in a simulation. Exploring the concept of souls, however, takes us in a different direction.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 27 2013

Gallery: Stop Watching Us Rally

I have a new image gallery up of pictures I took at the Stop Watching Us rally yesterday.

 

 

DSCF4093

Oct 24 2013

My (infamous) Chili Recipe

Tonight is my mother’s birthday. When I called her on the phone to wish her a happy birthday tonight the only thing she wanted for a birthday present was my chili recipe. The one everyone raves about.

There are some small problems with that. First off, as I told her, it isn’t so much a recipe as a way of life. Secondly, It really isn’t a recipe anyway. I’ve tried to write it up before and on paper it looks nothing like the dance of meat, beans, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and spices that are my chili.

But my mother asked. I need to do my best. So I’ll try again.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 20 2013

Review: Spider Woman’s Daughter, by Anne Hillerman

If, like me, you enjoy off-beat mysteries with unusual settings the name ‘Hillerman’ is probably a familiar one. As in Tony Hillerman, the author of the Leaphorn and Chee novels set on the Navaho Nation in the American Southwest.

The Leaphorn and Chee stories are some of my favorites; with strong characters, good solid mysteries, and tough resolutions requiring everything the protagonists have to make through it to the end. And the setting! The Southwest itself is one of the characters I mentioned; for Hillerman invested the locations with personality and linked his human characters strongly to them. A couple of years ago, driving up what used to be HWY 666 (now 491), I got a personal look at the beautiful Navaho land and it felt as if the rock formations and mountains were old friends.

Yeah, I really enjoyed those books. But Tony Hillerman passed away some time ago and it seemed unlikely there would be any more. What I didn’t know was Hillerman had a daughter; Anne Hillerman. A writer herself, if not of fiction, Anne apparently decided she was good enough to take up her father’s mantle and continue the storyline of Leaphorn and Chee. But is she?

Her first novel “Spider Woman’s Daughter” provides an interesting answer. Yes, it is a first novel with some first novel problems, but it is clear she got some very good editing. It is also clear she made some good choices.

The first good choice is using ‘Bernie’ Manuelito as the major viewpoint character. All of Tony Hillerman’s Leaphorn and Chee novels were first person (except for some third-person scene setting) and he would jump the POV around between his protagonists as he told the story in bits and chunks, often giving the reader a better idea of the big picture than his characters. Anne Hillerman used a similar strategy, but focused on Bernie with some use of Bernie’s husband Jim Chee’s POV. Although her father had used Bernie for a POV before, it was rare and short.

This means Anne was starting a new chapter in the storytelling, where the story teller is a woman, by focusing on the one woman detective character in the stories; and one her father had given short-shrift. It was a gutsy move and an effective one.

The second good choice was shooting Joe Leaphorn in the first few pages of the story, putting him in the hospital where his condition deteriorates. This meant not only was Leaphorn himself a part of the central mystery, but also meant Leaphorn–the great detective of Tony Hillerman’s stories who always figures it out–was in no condition to do the figuring.

Once again, both gutsy and effective. Forcing Bernie and Chee to man up (or woman up) and solve the mystery on their lonesome. (Well, aside from the usual FBI interferences, police procedures, and family issues.)

Another good choice is imbued in the mystery itself. I’m not going to give you any spoilers, but the mystery is built on one of her father’s earlier novels; continuing a story once thought over and done.

Perhaps not such a gutsy choice, but still an effective one; tying her Leaphorn and Chee story into her father’s oeuvre and establishing its place in the meta-story and character arcs of the Leaphorn and Chee series.

I could nitpick a little about cardboard antagonists and some red herrings that were a little too red. But I won’t. I could claim she pulled off the tough ending well enough for a good mention, but you need to decide that for yourself. Let me instead simply say: if you like Tony Hillerman’s work there is a good chance you will enjoy Anne Hillerman’s “Spider Woman’s Daughter”.

I did.

Oct 20 2013

Rally in Dee Cee for Pri-va-cy

Next Saturday, Oct 26 2013, there is going to be a rally in Washington D.C. against Domestic Spying and the NSA. I don’t know how many people are going to be there, but one of them will be me.

stopwatching.us

stopwatching.us

Yes, rather apolitical me. Never before have I been confronted with something I feel strongly enough about to do something like this. I mean, I often agreed with protestors and those gathering together million-man-marches (no matter if they actually got a million people or not). I just didn’t feel strongly enough about it to give up a weekend and spend some dollars to agree in person.

But this is different. Those other causes were important! I’m glad people stood up for them. But here we are dealing with a cancer in our body politic that, if metastasizes, might mean the end of democracy in the U.S.A.

I’m not exaggerating. Think about the kind of power the NSA’s database would put into the hands of someone entirely without scruples. Think about carefully applied blackmail and what it could do to the politics of our country.

Some people think we are already on that road. Whether or not this is the case, the tools have been built; only the hand to wield them is required before we could never trust our (already tottering) democratic institutions again. I love this country too much to stand by and watch that happen.

How about you? Want to do what you can while you still can? Join us! Or, if you can’t, at least join a half million others and sign the StopWatching.us petition.

Older posts «