Codes, Messages, Books And Brains

You are not your brain. Or perhaps I should say “you’re not your intellect.” Your body is not just a meat suit. And your brain is not just a wet lump in your skull.

If you internalize this, really internalize it, it will solve a lot of the problems moderns (Post-moderns?_ have interfacing with life. It might even allow you to forgive yourself for what seem like unforgivable slips from what you believe and want to be.

First, I’ll confess I suffer from a serious case of forgetting I have a body. Not wishing my body were different. Not thinking of it as a conveyance, but purely forgetting I am a physical being.

The apex of this was a panel at which I was the moderator, and the rest of the panelists were women and I said they were all women but me. (Perhaps that’s why idiots got the idea I was “really” a white Mormon male?) Understand I wasn’t thinking of myself as male. I’d just forgotten I had a body and therefore a sex. And if my husband — who knows me better than should be legal and knew exactly what had happened — hadn’t shouted with laughter from the first row, I’d never have realized I’d said anything wrong. Even while the other panelists blinked at me in horror.

This is caused, of course, by the fact that I live too much in my own head. Look, there are entire worlds in there, and more fascinating toys than I can explain, and I don’t mean just the fictional stuff. I like exploring ideas or lines of scientific inquiry and running them to ground.

When the kids were little and I could afford very few books, I got the fiction from the library and used what little money I had to build my biology, paleontology, history library.

But — I want to make this clear — I’m not just a mind. The mind is housed in a brain, which in turn is subjected to whatever is going on with the body — turning into a gnome at a speed that dismays me. Or perhaps a dwarf, given the hair on chin — that houses it, be it chronic pain or hormone imbalances, lack of sleep or improper nutrition, or the fact that I was kept locked in the house for two fricking years, with few ways out.

This was brought home to me starkly when editing Darkship Renegades. Semi-spoiler — is it possible to have spoilers for a book that’s been out for almost ten years? — one of the central subplots of the book is a horror one, though it’s achieved by theoretically (my research person tells me now validated with some research from Scotland; curiously while I was finishing editing the book for re-issue) scientific means: one of my characters has his brain damaged and taken over by another personality, one which is also brain damaged.

My first contact with this book when I started re-editing was to be annoyed at myself back then, because structurally it’s not really a novel. It’s two novels intertwined and enmeshed. If I were writing it today it would be two completely separate books. But then the book within the book, the possession plot would have come across as complete horror.

Would it surprise you to know that this subplot was not there at all in the outline? Or that as I read it again, to do a re-edit, I got the horrible feeling I was reading an SOS?

You see, when I wrote the novel, I felt as if my brain were… well, being taken by someone else was a description, though what I actually felt like was that it was dissolving.

That I managed to keep the blog going and write novels in that state was the astonishing thing. I now know that Alzheimers probably won’t stop me writing novels. It will just make it harder.

Oh, before you flood me with diagnosis: I know exactly what caused it — I was suffering from untreated (and fairly weird) hypothyroidism. The fairly weird part meant that every doctor who looked at me went “Oh, you’re hypothyroidal” (the mask is fairly obvious to anyone who’s seen it) and then testing and going “No. It’s normal.” and stopping there. Until one didn’t… three years after that novel. (It got worse before it got better.)

The damage was extensive enough, I’ve been recovering ever since.

What it felt like, inside, was like driving a car on an icy road. If you’ve found yourself ever doing that, you know exactly what I mean. You find yourself sliding, you correct, you slide in the other direction. Only the car was a thought, and the icy road was a mind that JUST didn’t work and had patches of “white matter abnormalities.” Which amounts to holes in the brain network, basically.

What it involved in practical fact, while writing, was keeping a notebook beside me, in which I had names and descriptions of characters and the place I’d left them (and doing that) the last time they were seen. Because five pages later, I’d have forgotten.

Yes, I’m all better now. Not well, as recovery is loooong. I only recently stopped having to keep a pad with the names and descriptions of secondary characters, because otherwise in chapter eighteen John would be very surprised because the last time we saw him, in chapter 13, his name was Jim. But now that’s not a problem either, so that’s good.

But it is amazing how many of my novels back then involved a character’s brain being taken over by something else or being unable to coordinate thoughts. Which was a feat in mystery, where I had a character get serious concussion for that effect.

Now re-reading, it’s obvious that my body was desperately trying to communicate “not well. Please, do something about it.”

Kind of like when I was sinking into the pneumonia that almost killed me at 33 I kept having dreams of being buried alive. But I had no clue that meant “I’m suffocating out here, please help.” So it was another week before I collapsed in the hallway and we got help.

Of course, with hypothyroidism, I was trying to get help, and being told I needed an anti-depressant, or it was all in my head, even though the florid symptoms were written on my face.

Took me a while, while re-editing to accept that Darkship Renegades isn’t flawed, per-se. It is not the book I meant to write. And it has the imprint of when things were very wrong with my brain. But it is not a bad book.

There are other books from writers suffering from brain issues, where I can see the marks of the issues, but I still love the books completely. And wouldn’t mind another six of each.

So, what is the point of all this?

The point of all this is that I’ve known for however long — 11? I don’t remember the year I wrote it — that at the time I was very ill, and things weren’t working right to an almost terminal degree.

But I’ve always felt guilty that book deviated in…. tone from what I intended. I wanted it simpler and more cheerful. And I keep telling myself it would have sold better if it had been so, and why didn’t I do it that way?

Well…. I didn’t do it that way because my brain was trying to signal how ill it was. And because I’m not a creature of pure spirit. And heck, the book — and the series — might be better for it, even if it deviated from what I intended.

In the same way, I’ve always blamed myself because around that time my other duties went by the way side. (Okay, that was also, I think, the year I wrote 6 books, but still.)

My son was explaining to his wife how he grew up was not how she met us and he said “until I was like 16 mom cooked every night, and she was a great housekeeper.” And I realized the wheels came off that when I was having issues keeping thoughts on track. Makes sense. Hard to plan the day so you can write AND keep house, and then it became impossible.

But the thing is, knowing that, I’ve blamed myself for being unable to finish long works for a while, or for having trouble “closing” novels, or for making absurd errors of fact in novels, or … for becoming a terrible housekeeper and costing us money going out to eat, because the evening came as a total surprise.

Because I keep forgetting the physical brain influences how I function. I’m not a detached spirit.

I don’t think I’m alone in this, particularly among people who work with their minds.

So, this morning, the dime finally dropped and I’m trying not only to forgive myself for being who I am, but to admit that the books influenced by the body not being quite right are probably better than if they were books of “pure spirit.”

Dave Freer at some point had an off comment about how science fiction declined when it stopped being written by engineers.

I think his larger point was “people who do things.”

Our books are not creations of the thinking mind. Oh, they are that. I’m not advocating they be thoughtless or that we write them after taking leave of our senses (though that happens accidentally, now and then.)

What I’m saying is our books are the sum of us. Body and brain and (hopefully rational) thought. And your body and brain bear the mark of what you’ve lived to.

It occurred to me recently all the deep study I’ve done on culture is really affecting the current book. As has the two years of house arrest affected the conception of the series. The sheer sense of helplessness while confronting mass insanity has left a mark.

So… when I look in the mirror at my increasingly gnome-like self, I don’t need to love who I am, but to accept that’s me, and this body is what I’ve made of it, plus whatever inscrutable genetic legacy my ancestors left me. (Couldn’t it be a tendency to excessive thinness, oh, nameless ancestors? (shakes fist)). I am in fact starting to look much like my paternal grandmother, and she was beautiful to my childish eyes.

And when I look at how things weren’t quite “me” in some novels, well, that’s where I was, and what my brain was doing. And I should just accept that. Because it’s part of the author, and therefore part of the book. And readers who don’t know what was going on will take other things out of it, as I did out of Diana Wynne Jones’ books when she had a brain tumor and wrote some of my favorite books of hers.

Your books, your art is not, nor should it, a detached, bloodless story. We have plenty of those from people who go to school to learn to be writers, and then regurgitate their professors’ “Wisdom” all over the pages of cardboardish novels.

For years now I’ve told all beginners to for the love of heaven not take a degree in writing. Take a degree in anything else. Even basket weaving will give you experience of something outside your head, and not “teach” you a lot of idiocy you then have to unlearn. (Trust me. Literary analysis has nothing to do with how people read actual books.)

I’m also telling you not to wait till you have perfect experience, or perfect knowledge, or perfect craft.

Write now. Your work will be flawed because you’re flawed.

But if you wrote a piece of work that wasn’t flawed, it also wouldn’t be human.

And stop holding yourself to blame for not reading to the kids EVERY NIGHT, for not keeping a spotless house, for not adhering to your diet perfectly, for not climbing the corporate ladder ahead of people you know are dumber than you, for not sewing your own clothes, for whatever it is you hold against yourself–

Stop. Whatever your flaws, it doesn’t mean you willfully failed to perform. Most of the time you know when you’re being willful, and honestly I know very few people who sabotage themselves without other causes. Usually organic causes.

And if you think about it, you usually know what they are.

I don’t want to hear “Yeah, I was very ill, but I should have baked a birthday cake.”

No, you shouldn’t. You should have gone to bed and taken medicine and forgiven yourself.

And understand this is not St. Sarah preaching to the fish. This is a fish saying to other fish “Hey, guys, really, this water stuff all around us does shape our lives. Stop blaming yourselves for not being able to live on dry land.”

In retrospect, that I managed to write at all, and to keep this blog going, and to function only slightly hampered is a minor miracle. (On admission to hospital after weird almost-death in shower in late 16, about 3 years into treatment, they told me my brain looked like the brain of an 85 year old. Yes, that is better. Last follow up in 2020 just before lockdowns, the “white matter abnormalities” had disappeared or been so reduced it didn’t matter. The brain recovers. It’s just slow.)

We’re heading into very hard times for a little while. I feel/hope/sense no more than two to five years, though if we’re very unlucky and the rest of the world more messed up than I expect, it might be ten. (Which might, perhaps, be the rest of my life.)

Don’t make it hard on yourself by holding yourself to blame for being human and imperfect. Don’t blame yourself if your preparation isn’t perfect. Yes, most of what’s coming we can see coming. But that doesn’t mean we can anticipate every possible circumstance.

Be kind to yourself, as you’d be kind to someone else you love who falls short of perfect. Trust me, it doesn’t increase the risk you’ll be too soft.

Be human, with all that entails. In the end it works better than if you could be that flawless machine of spirit you sometimes envy.

And forgive your own faults, even as you work to remedy them.

Yes, things will go very badly at times. But it’s not your responsibility nor your ability to avoid all harm to you or those you love.

Now go prepare, and do the best you can.

260 thoughts on “Codes, Messages, Books And Brains

  1. “You are not your brain. Or perhaps I should say “you’re not your intellect.” Your body is not just a meat suit.”

    I stopped reading there. ~:D

    Yes. I have seen this, as it happens. When you work with people who have brain injuries, you see things sometimes. Nothing magic, just some old guy with a -huge- stroke learn to walk again. The brain’s owner makes the brain get back to work. Happens all the time.

    Who you are is not fully contained by your body and mind. Understanding that is called Enlightenment in the Eastern religions. You -have- a body and mind, for sure, and you can’t live here on Earth without them. But the “You” that has those things is who you are.

    Unfortunately, one of the things making so much SF/F since ~2010 unreadable (for me anyway) is that the SJWs/postmodernists/Kool Kidz are all bound and determined that human beings are just meat robots run by algorithms and chemistry.

    Reading this crap is like de-enlightenment, or as I like to say, en-darkenment. They take any notion of the divine, or even the good, and they grind it into the dirt. “All people are venal, everybody does it, there’s no hope, blah blah blah.”

    That’s why in my books even demons get a chance to stop being a-holes and come back to the party. Also why I have to write them myself, nobody else is. 😡

    Now I’ll go back and read the rest. 😀

      1. My dad, after his stroke, in therapy before they allowed him to go home. One of the areas they wanted him to “remaster” was weights and measures as they related to the kitchen. He stopped them as they got into the session. “What? Don’t you want to remaster cooking?” he was asked. His answer? “Why? I didn’t do this before! Now the reloading, let’s talk.” He never did go back to work, for pay.

        But that does not mean he didn’t do work. After his stroke he learned (from scratch) how to plan, chose, plant, and care for roses. He dove into volunteering and organizing the Shriner’s E/W Oregon HS Football game. A game he had played in, twice, when he was in HS. He joined Shriner’s. Mom & Dad continued commercial fishing (until governmental halted). He wasn’t doing the haul in, but he was piloting the boat, especially over the bar. Stroke did not stop him. Did his body physically limits apply? Yes. But he worked around them. He acknowledge the problems because to not do so meant he wasn’t looking at a way he could do something.

        1. if that’s the bar that I am thinking that is very impressive for anyone, much less someone who has had a stroke.

    1. > “That’s why in my books even demons get a chance to stop being a-holes and come back to the party. Also why I have to write them myself, nobody else is. 😡”

      I read a book in which a high-ranking demon falls in love with a human and reforms, although I can’t remember the title or author. So it does happen.

      Turning from books to video games, the central event in the backstory of the Devil May Cry series was a powerful devil rebelling against the rest of his kind for humanity’s sake (and winning). Not that the writing (or acting) in those games is all that great – they’re spectacle fighters and the story is ultimately just there to set up the fights – but it’s there.

      1. I have some story ideas about that kind of thing, but I spent some time working out the exact species details for the kind of creature I wanted to write. Demons in the real world (at least, in my worldview) don’t repent because they’re not in-time as much as we are. They don’t learn anything new that might change their minds, everything they needed to know was known at the time of their choice. They don’t change or grow in the way that rational animals do, so they don’t turn back. At least, to my knowledge.

        And there are creatures like that in my world, so they’re just called demons. I’m just tinkering around with what D&D calls ‘devils’ – the lawful evil, better-than-the-alternative, ends-justifies-the-means guys at war with the demons. And those aren’t mortal exactly, but they’re more tied to mortality and time than the demons are, so they can change and grow if they choose to – it just takes centuries.

        1. No, I completely agree. Which is why I came up with a new species name to which I am tying some of the amusing cliches I liked about the creatures D&D calls devils.

          Admittedly, I’m not using all the D&D devil information, just the stuff I like, so they’re not the same as those beings either.

      2. This is why I like anime and Korean soaps these days. Lots of fun ideas and things going on.

        Holly Lisle’s book was one I enjoyed back in the day. Pretty sure that would not get published this decade.

  2. Thank you , Sarah, for giving me permission to forgive myself for getting sick.

    Honestly, it was a HUGE relief to be told that not only did I have a weird blood cancer but I also had been suffering from undiagnosed Multiple Sclerosis for decades. I wasn’t being “lazy” on purpose and I wasn’t imagining that life was like swimming in a full length fur coat. I had reason, very good reason, to be struggling so hard to get through an average day. And I have the brain scans to prove it.

    But, yeah, I still find it hard to cut myself some slack. So thanks for the reminder that we need to be kind to each other and also to ourselves.

    My body was trying very hard to get my attention too. And I had to suffer a complete systems failure to finally get the hint. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. But I don’t know how you avoid it. Sometimes you are too brain damaged to know you have brain damage, you know?

    1. yes. When the problem is with the thinking meat…. well….
      Mostly I wanted to forgive myself in a way I couldn’t deny it, but I thought some of you might have similar issues.

      1. I had to stop working and cry after I read it. Sarah, it’s like you’re a prophet, for me. It’s so exactly what’s happened and is happening to me as well.
        I thought I was just a crazy slacker.

  3. I experienced a lot of the same mental issues writing my book too… Now what was that secondary character doing last chapter? LOL. Yeah, one time the motorboat had an inboard and the next time the character cranked the outboard engine! I never EVER wanted to write a book either in my life until I had the dream that inspired me.

    With regards to the brain, it has been estimated the human brain (based on the estimated number of nerve cells and multiple synaptic connections between different cells) were converted into computer data (bytes) that it would contain perhaps 100 exabytes of information! An exabyte is a 1 with 18 zeros behind it. For comparison purposes (Per enemy psyop WIKIPEDIA): “The world’s technological capacity to store information grew from 2.6 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 1986 to 15.8 in 1993, over 54.5 in 2000, and to 295 (optimally compressed) exabytes in 2007.”

    So that means that only three humans could store as much data as the entire computerized world in 2007. (So really, humans are much better data storage devices theoretically, but maybe not so practically as the data dissipates eventually through age, disease, and ultimately death.) Humanity and life itself is a miracle for sure! The man can comprehend the universe is also.

    FYI, my book is all about codes and messages…. LOL. The sequel (likely out in maybe two years from now) will be using the info I learned about the brain listed above!

    1. I’m writing a story that has a lot of characters, and found that I couldn’t remember individuals, or they turned into someone else. I felt like such an idiot, like authors are supposed to remember their own stories, right?
      It wasn’t until this post that I learned that’s not necessarily uncommon.
      It’s like walking from black and white into color.

        1. I actually made a powerpoint slide with the different characters and relationships. The “Heros and secondary characters” on one slide and the “Antiheros and evil henchmen.” I also made asort of a day-by-day outline. What happened in the morning, afternoon, and evening to each main character. That helped a lot.

        2. 🙂 Took a morning and created a file called “characters” and another file with “locations”. I was starting to make impossible demands on the geography.
          Thanks for the encouragement.

          1. Somewhere I still have a file of “character. Emperor/time period. Color and markings. Personality.” Because when you are dealing with reptiles who reuse the same titles over the centuries . . . You need a list.

            1. I am so relieved. Honestly. It’s that I’ve never been in a community of artists so I just thought I wasn’t quite right!
              And the word reptiles makes me giggle for some reason.

                  1. Long ago there was a Theodore Sturgeon story, ‘The (Widget), The (Wadget), And Boff’ about two disguised aliens studying humans. One human character was obsessed with the notion that he didn’t ‘fit in’ because he wasn’t normal.

                    The aliens sent him a mental image of a huge graph with millions of dots all over it and a line through the middle. The dots were densest near the line, and sparser away from it. They made him understand that only a tiny percentage of the dots were exactly on the ‘Normal’ line; that ‘Normal’ just marked the center, and was not some sort of ideal. The great majority of people are merely somewhere close to ‘Normal’.
                    Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition!!

      1. Oh, please.

        You think I remember that guy’s name that did that thing five books ago? Or who lives at whose house? Or what kind of car that lady drives? Not a chance! I go back and look. All the time.

        Characters turning into someone else? Oh yeah. That’s the character telling you something. Mine do it all the time. They refuse to cooperate when the story starts requiring them to do stuff they would never do. Then you have to change the story.

        Characters have their own internal logic. The rough and tough cowboy likes cars, he does not like lady’s handbags. If your plot involves him suddenly developing a passion for Prada, he’s going to resist. You will have to create some reason for him to be interested in that, like the fabulous Italian designer lady who wants to buy the top-grade leather from his ranch. That might be a good enough reason.

        1. It’s just that I’ve never met people who had imaginations and had characters in their heads as real as anything I can touch.
          I have two brothers who don’t speak to me because I’m considered too much big a freak.
          It’s so nice to know how people like me live in the world.
          It’s very new.

          1. Yeah, no one in my family can understand my recent need to write… I think each of the characters in my book has a portion of my personality somewhere… Did you ever download a copy from Amazon? Let me know what you think if you are reading it!

            1. I just purchased a paperback copy that should be here within a week.
              The reviews made me smile.
              And I’ll surely be providing comments as I read.
              What a treat.

              1. All the “reader quotes” on my Amazon summary were from my beta readers. I’m a complicated person, so the book is pretty complex, intricate, and detailed. It’s not for the simple-minded who wants a story to relax. You have to use your brain to best understand my book. I think it’s maybe important to “binge read” it for best effect (so it seems like a movie in your head, because my intent was for the story to be eventually made into a movie.) and that you can keep focused on the events of the 10 days that will change the world… Pay attention to details… A lot of false leads, etc. so by the end you would never guess the truth of the mystery. Some Easter eggs too. No matter what you think of it, I put at least 3,000 hours of my life into it, waking up two hours early every day for about three years to complete. ENJOY THE RIDE! If I make you feel emotions, I’ve done my job! 🙂

                1. I want a prize if I guess the ending before I get there. 😊
                  And an autograph at some future happier time!

          2. I have started a spreadsheet with characters, their traits, etc. I need to re-up my subscription to Plottr so I can put it all in there (it’s software designed to do just that… outline and keep track of characters, locations, etc.)

          3. Family, yeah. So fun.

            I’m a huge weirdo with zero social acumen. People have been known to have a cow just because I entered the room and said “good morning.” (I always find it funny that us “weirdos” are not the ones flipping out and demanding to see the manager.)

            Screw ’em!

            Yes, there are other weirdos like you. My characters live here just like yours, sometimes it gets a little crowded but we cope. Writing it all down is very helpful, and if you’re careful you can even sell it at the end. ~:D

  4. “A fish doesn’t know he is wet, but when he’s on land, he knows he’s in trouble”
    I wrote that as part of a story, damned If I can find which one at the moment. I tried to tell someone recently what it is like, being in the brain most days. They didn’t believe it. If you had this little… Yee Yee man sitting on your shoulder shaking a sparkling silver pom-pom in front of your eyes and shouting, “Look at me!!!” It would be an approximation. Some of my best ideas come in the wee morning hours when the pain wins and the term ‘Position of comfort’ becomes an abstraction. (I’m a member of the chronic pain club.) Mr. Yee Yee is abed, as all sensible hobgoblins are.

  5. I’m not so sure the mind is actually housed in the brain. I suspect it’s more that the brain is a pass-through mechanism (and data goes in both directions.) Or perhaps it might be more accurate to say that we possess our bodies at birth (or conception – which gives us 9 more months to get the linkages straight.) And possession would go a long way to explaining other forms of possession by less than benevolent entities; someone bad moving into the body neighborhood. Not to be totally negative, I suppose that you can also be possessed by benevolent entities also; the Holy Spirit comes to mind.

    Assuming meat only, new synaptic connections can be made in the brain. If you consider each variation of a new connection to be capable of storing another bit of data, depending on organization, the storage capacity increases exponentially. So does the complexity, which could mean that it becomes harder to find or extract that data.

    1. It takes 12 months. Newborns just are not there. They eat, sleep, excrete and alarm when in imbalance. But there’s nobody home for the first three months.

      And around three months or so, something just flips on and there’s a mind in there looking around.

      And the reaction to that does seem to be one of those sex coded differences. Women almost universally seem to respond to newborns with the “it’s so cute” and cuddle response, but guys really don’t, and only start once the baby has hit that 3 month mark and is aware of their surroundings, even if they aren’t directly interacting.

      1. depends on the people. No, seriously.
        First son was there from day of conception. I COULD FEEL HIM as another person, like when you enter an occupied room.
        Second son wasn’t there till birth.

        1. That’s probably a different thing than I’m thinking of here.

          From a physical standpoint I’m given to understand based on our size and lifespan, nine months is way too short a gestation period. I think I’ve heard it really needs to be 12 or even 18, but it is hard limited by the female hip diameter. Basically the baby must be born while the head still fits through the hip, and the female hip diameter is bound by the requirement to be able to run. As I gather, the ideal diameter is more along the average male, and the average female is pretty much riding the our limit.

          Given that, I’m fairly sure there is some massive brain development that happens during the immediate post birth period. From what I’ve seen, gut size and head size change a lot in the first few months, then slow down.

          I’m thinking the body develops critical control functions and lung function before birth, then after birth, the focus is on rapidly growing the brain to where it needs to be, and the digestive system sort of rides along because it’s the limiting factor in how many calories the system can get available to jam into brain production.

          I’m curious if measurements show that the head size hits most of it’s mass or at least volume after the first year or so. I’ve noticed with ours, their hat sizes stopped changing constantly around then and other things started growing, but would need to do the research.

          1. We have fontanels, or soft spots, in our skulls when we are born because the brain grows so fast the first few months. It’s a serious medical emergency if a child is born without them. They also help the skull to depress during birth.

          2. Massive brain development happens for 2 years. Seriously.
            BUT there is a person there.
            And I really, really, really don’t understand the feel of it, because I COULD feel older son’s personality, even though the expresison of it dind’t gel for 16 years or so.
            Also, while we’re talking of possessing our own bodies: I have memories of being 3 months old (dated by external things.)
            Some people remember nothing before 6. Is that when they took up residence? Who knows?
            we do know (NOW) that cats and dogs have what we’d term sentience. Or at least we have reason to believe they know they are.
            And their brains are smaller than a baby’s.

            1. Yeah, the interface between memory and soul is something I can’t even begin to speculate on.

              Looking at it in the other end, loss of memory function slowly wipes away the person the world can interact with. Yet if the soul is immortal, surely that isn’t the you that shows up at the other end, yet clearly the you you end as can equally not be the one before things started to stop functioning. A lot of living happens between those two points, and past. And if the soul exists after memory, why should memory define the start of it either?

            2. I have a couple of memories of the trailer we lived in when I was under 1. They are from the perspective of being held on the shoulder of my mother. My father’s reaction to that was to shake his head and say, “interesting”.

              That birth to 3 month period would seem to coincide with something I’d read about traditional Hebrews didn’t believe the body became ensouled until the child took its first breath, and other early thinkers postulating not until the child started actually focusing on things in his or her environment.

              1. Never heard of anybody remembering things that young. I can very clearly remember several things that happened when I was 2 (probably 2 and a half going on 3), including the house we lived in, and people always thought that was unusual. My siblings don’t have any memories at all before about age 4.

                1. I can remember some stuff that happened when I was probably 3 or 4, but I suspect they’re memories of memories of memories at this point, and only vaguely resemble the original events.
                  At my house, the ‘things that go bump in the night’ are cats.

            3. I knew I had a person when I sat down in the tub, rested a hardback on my belly to read, and she punted the damn thing. I swear I could feel the waves of indignation radiating upward. 🙂

        1. All six of my kids were VERY different.

          And yes I could tell they were even when they were in the womb.

          I have very early memories too. Hubby does not. Half the kids do, half not.

          The brain is a very weird place. And not just mine.

          1. I have memories– well, I remember memories– from when I was two years old. Because the folks involved died.

            Of course, my husband also very much bonds with the babies very early, cue my well worn joke about sharing pictures of my husband sleeping with a younger woman when they’re both konked out on the couch napping at maybe weeks old.

    2. What’s interesting to me is that when my kids were born, they had already existed from the beginning of time. As in, my mental map of them was “oh, of course they’re there, we have always been that number of people in the family.”

      Yeah, intellectually, I can point to times before they were around. But they’ve always been around. 😉

  6. I don’t think I will ever understand why “You have all the physical symptoms of some variety of thyroidism but your blood tests are within normal ranges, therefore there’s nothing wrong with you” is how medical diagnosis is done these days.

    I’ve met one doctor who said he didn’t particularly care if the blood numbers are in normal ranges, he will treat the physical thyroid symptoms and see if anything changes with the blood numbers.

    1. People like that are everywhere. 21 years ago, my wife was told by someone who had years of experience that the monitor wasn’t registering anything, so she was clearly not in labor and should stop worrying about whatever it was she thought was going on, despite the fact that she was 2 weeks overdue and had given birth before and therefore knew what it felt like.

      An hour later, that feckless ninny’s shift ended. A competent midwife came into the room, glowered in her departing colleague’s general direction, comforted my wife, and started making the necessary preparations. (“Of course you’re in labor, dear. Let me see how far along you are, and then we’ll get this machine working.”) An hour after that, I had a new daughter. She’s named after our ministering angel of commonsense.

      Re: thyroid issues, they run in the family (haven’t hit me, knock on wood), and the parents, siblings, and wife have found that most doctors don’t actually know what the bloodwork numbers mean, and may not even run the test that would tell them how (or if) the thyroid is actually USING the stuff they see circulating in the bloodstream. Get a referral to an endocrinologist, get medication squared away, remember a few years later that the primary care doctor doesn’t know crap about thyroid issues (“I feel like I did when my thyroid was out of whack.” “Your numbers look fine.”), see an endocrinologist, get fixed up again. Repeat.

      1. As in, I had one refuse to prescribe because taking t3 is obviously making me hyperthyroidal.
        I’m 50 lbs overweight. My heart rate and blood pressure are normal.
        I”M NOT HYPERTHYROIDAL. I’m maybe a little under.

        1. There’s a reason that they call a Doctor’s job a “practice”. 😈

          Of course, with some Doctors, it doesn’t matter how long they “practice” medicine as they’ll never get it correct. 😉

      2. My wife worked in medical lab testing for ages.. One thing she used to tell doctors was “beware of the bell curve”. Each test has a published “normal” range which is based on a population average. But that range doesn’t map to the normal range for everybody. And since most of us don’t go to the doctor and get tested for everything under the sun when we’re well, we don’t really know what the normal range is for ourselves.

          1. Now that I have an easy to use pulse-ox, I check heart rate and oxy levels. I took the Walgreen’s Chinese special to a doctor visit. It gave the same number as their oxygen finger. As I type, pulse of 80.

            My normal oxygen is 95, which is low normal. I have an interesting data point. I have brought it to church and measured my pulse. Just sitting in church, doing nothing, my pulse tends to elevate. This before sermon, or anything that might elevate pulse. Perhaps effect of divine encounter.

            Being on bonus time, I need to be careful to do only what I am supposed to do. Nothing more, or less. So the pulse thing is helpful to remind me to take a break, when it elevates over 100. If it stays high, keep resting, before going back to attack the weeeds.

            So I have a very good idea of those two baselines. I also check vitamin D level frequently, 38. The blood pressure machine is too much trouble. So it sits in its box.

            Kaiser has a useful website. You can check 10 years of blood tests. It has a nice graph of how your levels change.

        1. Aye, I recall an article (back when Science News wasn’t like Scientific American: One title, two lies) that was, roughly, “Wow, some people process codeine MUCH faster than expected and it’s well-nigh an overdose – for a while. And some other people process codeine so slow it’s like they didn’t even get it.” This explained why the one time I had need of it, I was wondering if maybe the OTC stuff (aspirin, acetaminophen, etc.) would’ve done at least slightly better by simply actually doing something besides be more expensive and harder to get.

          1. My body likes to find corner cases, though the acetaminophen/codeine combination works, sort of. OTOH, I researched and use an OTC combination (Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen) for most of my more serious pain issues.

            (FWIW, Norco uses the old 325mg acetaminophen amount, while Vicoden is 500mg. IMHO, Vicodin works better for me, but some docs like Norco.)

            After I had some cornea work done (buff and polish–roughly as much fun as you’d think), I was prescribed Vicodin as well as Ambien. I think I took one of the Vicodin pills, then reverted to the OTC combo (250mg I, 500mg A). Never took any of the Ambien.

            Post op (for a bunion procedure), I took a couple of the Norco tabs, then I/A combo worked for me. The knee repair was sufficiently painful that I took Norco for a few days before going to the combo.

            Side note: I take 250mg Ibuprofen in the morning and one at night for arthritis and tendon issues. If I’m hurting more than normal, an acetaminophen will help. I need to stay away from aspirin, since I’m already on Warfarin. The Warfarin dose has the Ibuprofen taken into account.

            1. Minor correction: the Ibuprofen is 200mg, not 250. (Apparently there’s a prescription version, but I’m not familiar with it.

          2. I remember once being given Demerol for pain after a surgery. It did absolutely nothing. Some time later, I mentioned that to my mother, and she said it was the same for her.

            1. Not sure how good it was as a pain killer, but a day or so after an appendectomy in ’76, a kid was admitted with a concussion (4 bed room). His short term memory was shot, and the Same. Damned. Questions. were keeping me awake at midnight. Wasn’t in the mood/shape to tell him and family to STFU, so I Took Measures. Nurse!

              Demerol is a great (albeit dangerous) sleeping aid.

          3. At one point I was put on a routine drug to treat a serious problem and… it had no effect. “But this always works,” said the (very good) doctor. “Let’s give it another 2 weeks.” Nope. “Maybe there was an error in manufacturing and the pills are inert, I’ll have it tested.” Nope. Pills were full of drugly goodness. Apparently I’m one of the little dots waaaaaaay up in the corner on the “normal” graph, ’cause my body reacts strangely to things more often than not.

          4. Recently had to have a root canal redone. When done no prescription. Instead told to mix two OTC options Extra Strength Tylenol and Aleve (I think, it has been over a year). It worked. Really a relief because needed something, but prior root canals the prescription was for stronger stuff, which takes care of the pain alright, also knocks me out for 24 hours.

            I remember a sudden onset headache when I was 23. Hubby took me to the emergency room. Ultimately ended up with a pain killing shot. I was barely conscious by the time we got back home, and essentially slept for 3 days. (Never did learn what triggered the sharp pain. Way more than a tension or migraine headaches. I have both. Not them.) We never filled the prescription given.

          5. The Reader’s better half is a corner case for a lot of pharma. The worst was discovering after a knee replacement that oxycodone did absolutely nothing for her pain. It was 3 days after the surgery before we realized what was going on and the doctor switched her to morphine.

            1. Hubby has had both hips replaced. First surgery we did get the prescribed pharmaceuticals for pain management. He took some the first few days home. His first followup a week later, asked when he could be driving again. Answer X days off the pharmaceuticals. He drove home (already off them, rest turned in to drug collection). Second hip surgery, we never filled the prescription. Reality check was first time he still had one bad hip that hurt. Surgery, while “ached” wasn’t the problem. Turns out the method the physician used did not involve cut muscles. Does involve stretched/pulled muscles, and broken thigh bone. Skin was cut, muscles pulled apart, top hip bone and portion of thigh bone removed, new hip socket, hip cap, and porous metal inserted into top of remaining thigh bone, close up, and done. Stopping of bone on bone grinding, immediately lessens that pain and the surgical pain was negligible in comparison. I doubt I’ll ever be that pain tolerant. OTOH one pain tablet is going to put me under until the pain isn’t an issue. When hubby had his surgery, both times, it was at the hospital and 5 days stay. Now it is an outpatient surgery (unless health history indicates otherwise).

        2. RE: “beware of the bell curve.”

          I recently spent a week helping a number of doctors with their mortgage and vacation home payments, for which I am grateful (I was told that when I hit the ER I had maybe 48 hours, but the application of a large amount of medical wizardry, some state-of-the art micro surgery and a lot of chemistry appears to have extended that back to “years.”)

          Once I had turned the corner and cogency returned, discussions ensued; I pointed out the old story that in medical school they were told “when you hear hoofbeats think horses, not zebras.” I pointed out that does not mean zebras are extinct, nor that they cannot occasionally be found mingling with the horses.

          Each of us is unique in some way, some of us more so than others. I know many of the ways in which I am physically, or medically, unique – my normal temp is 96.5, not 98.6, which for me indicates a mild fever; a few of my blood lab numbers are always “out of normal range,” and some others.

          I get that doctors – and engineers, mechanics, system architects, chefs, etc. – have to use “standard baseline information” as a starting point and build from there, but just as some kitchen admixtures require more, or less, seasoning and spices or cooking temperature or time than a recipe may call for, so do people and I’ve never met a cook or chef who ignores the variable chemistries affecting taste, nor any engineer who refuses to examine alternative designs or materials or a mechanic who shuns newly developed tools.

          Yet those zebras so frequently seem to be regarded as mystical beings from days of yore.

          1. I got the Zebra comment from my dentist when I had gums thin enough to show bones. He dismissed cancer. OTOH, the type II diabetes (wasn’t diagnosed for a year or three later) was the likely culprit.

          2. I tell people who are confused by statistics that demographic statistics are good at describing the average behavior of large groups, but they don’t necessarily tell you anything about an individual.

          3. Medicine used to be considered an art for a reason. The pervasiveness of insurance cost controls has pushed it to a process that covers maybe 1.5 sigma on each side of the distribution.

            1. Pencil-pushers practice medicine, while doctors fill out piles of government forms. 0bamaCare has only made it worse; now we have fewer doctors, nurses and hospitals, but twice as many medical bureaucrats.

              And none of them can figure out why health care costs have shot up.
              There are forms of stupidity that businesses can’t indulge in. There are no such limitations on the stupidity of government.

    2. That’s how it’s done these days. Apparently the “normal” runs from Not low enough to cause goiter to high enough to have cardiac concerns. The rest of the issues apparently don’t matter.

  7. Ha ha, your comment about driving in ice reminded me of two times interesting things happened while doing that. One I was trying to turn left and instead did a perfect 360 in my lane and kept going. The other I had a broken left arm and driving a 5 speed and was trying to creep home avoiding hills. My car slid sideways and perfectly parallel parked between two cars with 4 inches to spare on either side. I walked two miles home laughing and angry. Laughing at what happened and angry at the dufuses who slowed down to stare at the guy with the broken arm walking in a snow storm.

    Sometimes you have laugh or at least smile at your calamities and thank God he made you with a heart, soul, mind, and body.

    1. Was bringing my step brother back home from skiing practice in a snowstorm and came over a rise in the road a wee bit too fast. Went into a spin, told bro to hang on (both of us wearing seatbelts), nosed into a snowbank, popped back out, continued the spin and gained control in the same lane traveling in the same direction about 15 mph slower. Only damage to the car was a 3-inch chunk of the plastic grill broke out. Well, that and my BP was probably through the roof, and my heart rate hammering about 200.

      1. Mine was driving with my sister after full dark. It was snowing. Two big black dogs ran out in front of us. I slammed the brakes, did a 360 and came to a stop as the owners of the dogs sauntered across the street.

        We turned around and went home.

        1. Back before the road the family live on was paved, there were a few times that Ma & Pa went out, and all was fine… until they got to the nice, smooth ice-covered asphalt… and did a 360 (or 720…) and so carefully got back to gravel and came right back home. Whatever it was, it could wait.

      2. Two accidents related to skiing. Was in Yosemite and going from the valley to the ski area. The tunnel was wet at the top, but my California-acclimated driving sense forgot that the water-looking stuff just outside the tunnel was glare ice. Mercifully I went into the mountain rather than off the cliff.

        The second time was returning from a trip and ran into some ice. Touched the brakes too hard, spun and smacked the left rear side into a snowbank. Needed body work and a new axle from that one.

        After 18 years living back in snow and ice country, I’m better at ice, or sufficiently paranoid. Studded tires help, too.

        1. A decade or so ago I sat and watched other cars trying to go up an icy hill in North Alabama. No chains or snow tires, of course, it’s Alabama. After watching several cars get halfway up and then slide back down again (sometimes doing 180s or more on the way down) I decided to go home and use up a bit of annual leave,

    2. Long ago I had a 1989 Mustang that I drove year round. It did get snows in the winter (usually from October to april as the default 225/60 r 17soft compound tires it had basically led to skating in even a dusting of snow). Stayed late at work in Nashua NH (Spitbrook Road for those that know Nashua). Weather had been misting turned to snow with less than 1″ down (likely on a skim of ice). Went up the exit 1 on ramp headed south on Rt 3. It had been recently redone and had a slight rise at the top. As I crossed that rise all hell broke loose. I rotated clockwise 720 degrees, managed to regain control and stopped without hitting anything. Road was surprisingly empty for 9pm. Pulled over to the side of the road for 5 minutes and shook like a leaf. Then I went the 30+ miles home in terror 🙂 .

      1. Our home in Longview WA (911 Canyonview if anyone wants to look at the road). Canyonview comes down off of Hillcrest and splits into a Y, just below the house (“side street” to west is a paved “alley”) into West and East Canyonview. Any type of frozen water (icy or snow) East side had to pull up to the intersection, back down a bit onto West, and gun it up the hill. Any vehicles coming behind had to wait to see if the vehicle made it or rolled/slid back down for another try (this was regardless of 4×4 or not, although 4×4’s made it easier than not). Note, we had to do the same out of our driveway only for us it was back down to make the run up. Luckily when we came to realize this (didn’t get icy/snow conditions every year) I could just stay home. The one time I wasn’t home when snow came, I stopped at the top of the hill. Walked home. Had hubby “slide the” car into our driveway (diagonally), then it was parked on the north side of the house, out of the driveway. Pickup was safely stored, out of sight, in the garage. Because the flip side of leaving was coming back down. Which if not done carefully resulted in sliding across our driveway (thus both vehicles were put safely out of the way), or slid into the top of the canyon getting stuck (which is why the 4×4 was “hidden” as in “no we can’t tow you out”). Note canyon did get steep but vehicles didn’t get that far. Never did find out what the slope percentage was. Interestingly enough the loop that East Canyonview has are steeper.

        Then there is my sister’s current driveway. Their street road is bad enough, but their drive way is even steeper before the leveling off to park in front of the garage (two vehicle lengths). Not my choice of driveway. They are east of Vancouver Washington. Do not get a lot of snow, but being higher they get more snow than Vancouver proper does.

        1. Sounds a little like the hill I grew up on on the Connecticut shoreline. It rose maybe 110′ in maybe 750-1000′ of run. Certainly felt steep on a bicycle as a kid :-). In the winter before it was plowed it was HARD to get up especially with large US made vehicles with powerful engines and automatic transmissions. The kings of coming up that hill were our SAAB 95 station wagon we had which was front wheel drive (rare in the ’60s and even ’70s) and front engine and a neighbors VW Beetle which was rear engine rear wheel drive. Both had the weight over the drive wheels and very narrow tires even for the time. The SAAB was unsurprising, it and its 96 cousins were the king of winter autocross for many a year. The Bug was actually a little more startling.

          1. The hill was bad enough with manual, holding at the stop at the top. Note, both the pickup and car were not front wheel drive (we were there from 8/80 to 7/85, owned it until 7/89), but the car was manual (’78 Celica Hatchback).

            Run up was about 800′ – 1000′ feet, maybe.

            1. Yeah in my case the stop was at the bottom and entered US route 1. Very exciting in the winter. Provided hours of entertainment in a snow storm when TV reception was bad.

  8. “Dave Freer at some point had an off comment about how science fiction declined when it stopped being written by engineers. I think his larger point was “people who do things.””

    Are you determined to push every one of my buttons today?

    How many times have I thrown a book against the wall because the author didn’t know how windows work? Or cars, or horses, or Ghu help me, guns? Let alone spacecraft…

    Who are these IDIOTS?!!!! 😡

    Okay now I’ll finish reading…

    1. One of Larry Correia’s recommendations was if you’re going to write about something you should try to experience at least some of it first. If you’re going to write about being in a gun fight, go take a class on how to shoot. If you’re going to write about fighting, get punched in the face, etc etc.

      And failing that, try to at least read about how it is from people who’ve been there or dealt with it.

      So yeah, my reading list keeps getting more “interesting”…

      1. Fortunately, I can’t subjectively write about the sensation of being shot. Getting cut with a knife, sure. (Most of the time you never notice until the blood starts pouring out.)

        1. I am just as happy to have direct experience with neither. But I have it on multiple good authorities that being shot is similar. Regan apparently though he’d been elbowed to hard by one of his security detail.

          One guy who, I believe was shot four times at close range said the first real way he noticed anything was wrong was he could not fire his gun. (He had been shot in both hands, once in the chest, narrowly missing everything important, and once more grazing the abdomen.) The “getting hit” part was so low on his priority queue it just did not register. Only the interference with higher priority functions did. Apparently this is also why Army troops check each other for hits after firefights; folks just won’t notice.

          Also, apparently crimes where the perpetrator moves the victim(s) to a secondary location end in murder/attempted murder around 80% of the time. It’s 20% for crimes completed at the primary location.

          1. Saw a disturbing video of a bank robbery gone wrong (for the robber). Robber was shot, in the body, then ran all over the bank, blood going everywhere, before cramming himself into the revolving door, curling up in a ball and, apparently, dying.

            1. This is a thing that happens very, very often. There was a story in a gun magazine about “stopping power” that related an incident amongst low-life, wherein the “victim” was shot 6 times with a Ruger Redhawk .44 Magnum. He beat the shooter to death with a pool cue, walked out the front door of the bar and dropped dead.

              I met a guy who got shot through the liver, then the neck from side to side as he turned, then through the fibula as he ran away. He ran for blocks. He was in hospital for drug-induced mental illness, not gunshot complications.

              You see things like that and you don’t have much time for Hollywood anymore.

          2. Yeah. Another term for “secondary location” is “where they find the body.”

            Do not let them move you. Consider that a death sentence and react accordingly.

        2. When I was shot at, my first reaction was anger. “You [unprintable] idiot, I’m not a [unprintable] deer!” The reaction came about four minutes after the hunter’s buddies dragged him off, minus his shotgun, yelling at him the whole time.

          Injuries, mostly my response was, “Well, that’s a problem/mess.” The pain came later.

        3. I do have a bit of experience with some of that. Happy to say I’ve never been shot, but I did cut myself pretty good a few times as a kid, and have taken blows to the head and face that required many stitches to close. The cuts, you might feel mild pressure, but probably not even that. It only starts hurting after the bleeding is well underway.

          The blows to the head felt just like it would bumping your head kind of hard going through a low doorway. Initial impact rocks your head back, but doesn’t feel like much of a big deal at all. Then there’s bleeding, and lots of it, followed by stinging/burning where the cut is, and then a radiating ache inside the ol’ cranium a few minutes to hours later. Actually, the facial wound that took 37 stitches to close didn’t bleed nearly as much as one might expect; but when I took direct pressure off it and saw part of my face sag downward as the new chasm in it opened up, that was a hell of a moment, let me tell you. Surprised I didn’t faint.

          And yes, the scars are quite epic. I look like I might have war stories to tell…but the war is only against my own bad luck and youthful stupidity. 🙂

    2. Animals and complex machinery ought be researched, even if only going to $FriendIntoSuch and asking, alright. But… windows?! I admit I’ve certainly not encountered every sort, but still… Whiskey Tango Floatglass?!?!

      1. Floor to ceiling observation windows on the -front- of a spacecraft. You know, the part that faces in the direction of travel. Where all the space-junk and micrometeorites hit first. And radiation. Cosmic rays. Sunlight. Alien super weapons.

        Also, floor to ceiling window with pressure on the inside and outer space on the outside. What could go wrong?

        Also, failure to realize that the window becomes the floor when the ship is slowing down…

        And so forth. 😡

        1. Was it at least a ship with internal gravity and inertial dampening?

          And made with some kind of exotic material both superstrong and transparent?

          1. On the issue of transparent aluminum, have you heard of Alon? It’s basically the real thing. It’s amazing stuff.

          1. We’ve GOT transparent aluminum; it’s called sapphire. Aluminum oxide. A company I used to work for used sapphire windows on their underwater lights and cameras, some of them rated to 11,000 meters depth — the bottom of the Marianas Trench.

            My favorite superstrong transparent material is diamond. It’s practically a miracle material — 40 times harder than steel, incredibly strong, the best thermal conductor known, and an excellent electrical insulator. The only problem is that it’s hard to work with.

              1. One of my co-workers at HP had done some work with Silicon on Sapphire. The raw wafers were quite strong, in my recollection. Matte finish sapphire; I never studied that process, and if memory serves, the technology was a dead end.

              2. The sapphire windows were about 50 mm diameter and 5 mm thick. Each one had to be inspected on a polarizing plate to ensure it was a single flawless crystal. A crystal boundary anywhere in the window would cause it to shatter under 25 tons of water pressure.

        2. “Also, failure to realize that the window becomes the floor when the ship is slowing down…”

          Handwaviumed away by artificial gravity.

    3. Don’t recall the name, but the idiot who got tasked to write the Ender’s Game prequels talked about the spaceship going too fast and having to slow down. Not accelerations, velocities…

    4. If you were a woman or a kid, they would have rolled down the window and asked if you needed help. They might have been seeing if you yelled for help.

      Source: woman who broke her arm walking in an icestorm, ie me.

    5. On a related note, I was amused to see at a recent visit to the local bookstore that the very important, award-winning books by pronoun people all had lots of copies left, while Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir was down to its last copy.

        1. I read it. I had meant to write some sort of comment on it.

          It’s very well written. It’s very enjoyable. But it left a terrible “philsoophical aftertaste”, which after living through 2020-2022 is downright rancid.

          Too much of the plot involves a Eurocrat as absolute dictator of the world proceeding destructively and recklessly with everyone and everything on Earth because EXISTENTIAL EMERGENCY. They don’t have time for no stinking rights, or for normal international relations, or for anything. Rather than resulting in everyone ending up at war with everyone else, it all just falls into place via the power of plot.

          We just lived through the king-for-a-day wet dream of the “science-lovers” (spit): It turns out that the people who want to assume absolute power to deal with EMERGENCY are not the good guys, and that proceeding recklessly with everyone just leaves a trail of devastation and broken things in their wake, doesn’t actually solve the problem.

          In a way, it almost seemed like an excuse and a warm-up for what was done to us during COVID; and what, barring revolution, will continue to be done to us in the name of technocracy.

        2. I read it. I had meant to write some sort of comment on it, to work through my issues with the book.

          It’s very well written. It’s very enjoyable as hard sci-fi. But it left a terrible “philosophical aftertaste”, which after living through 2020-2022 is downright rancid.

          Too much of the plot involves a Eurocrat as absolute dictator of the world proceeding destructively and recklessly with everyone and everything on Earth because EXISTENTIAL EMERGENCY. They don’t have time for no stinking rights, or for normal international relations, or for anything. Rather than resulting in everyone ending up at war with everyone else, it all just falls into place via the power of plot.

          We just lived through the king-for-a-day wet dream of the “science-lovers” (spit): It turns out that the people who want to assume absolute power to deal with EMERGENCY are not the good guys, and that proceeding recklessly with everyone just leaves a trail of devastation and broken things in their wake, doesn’t actually solve the problem.

          In a way, it almost seemed like an excuse and a warm-up for what was done to us during COVID; and what, barring revolution, will continue to be done to us in the name of technocracy.

          1. Published 2021, my bad. I thought it was earlier than that. So I guess he’s just going with the zeitgeist instead of anticipating it.

            Still, a very dissonant note with me.

        3. It’s not as good as The Martian. But that’s true of a lot of really good books, of which this is one.

  9. I don’t know if it’s useful to anyone here, but if you want to think about something other than how to write (and no, there really aren’t any experts on that worth their salt), here’s an offer.

    After last LibertyCon, where some of use were on a panel about permanent settlements on Mars, a few of us at the Interstellar Research Group ( started an email discussion about just what it would take to start large scale agricultural production on the red planet. We thought there weren’t any experiments being done in that direction, but we found that we were wrong. It’s just that the experiments being done were pretty much useless in moving toward the requirements for serious agriculture, all being flawed in at least one and usually in many ways.

    Our discussion went in many directions, but ultimately ended in an intention to design a framework for experimentation to find out just what would be needed to enable agriculture on Mars.

    If anyone would like to read through the email discussion (and a list of papers on associated topics), I’ll be happy to send them along. Just contact me at with a subject of “I’d like to read the agriculture discussion.”

    1. Since Mars is a wee bit chilly, I did a quick wondering if an Alaskan location might be suitable for such a site.

      A quick check, Mars’ Gale Crater 5.4° S, 137.8° E. average high temperature during July, the warmest month; +36° F. (Yep can do here in AK.) however average July low temperature; -105° F. would be a bit of a stretch, the coldest I’ve experienced here is around -65° F. Oh well, if I could get the micro nuclear power plant I’ve always wanted in my back yard we could pump the temperature up, down and around all the Martian numbers!

      1. Yes, but large-scale agricultural production on Mars will never be on the unprotected surface, at least not till serious terraforming succeeds. We were looking at what temperature and pressure increases would be needed, minimally, perhaps increases in insolation (light), microbiome inoculation, perchlorate remediation, etc. The less of everything needed, the less physical structure needed to accomodate the crop fields…

        1. But of course. I was thinking in terms of earth sites approaching Martian conditions for such.

          & of course a L4 Lagrange point tethered O’Neill cylinder spun to approach Martian gravity, atmosphere, temperature, etc. therein based on the latest & best Mars reports would be better.

          None the less, John Carter, I’d like to see my very own micro nuclear power plant powering your 5 acres and a Barsoom Thoat farm in my backyard.

          1. Well, I grew up in PA and am at least moderately familiar with agriculture. Put me down as space-Amish, I suppose. Damn, now I’ll have to shave my mustache and let my beart drow out. So long as my wife doesn’t toss me out on the street…

    2. I’m thinking it might be easiest to just send a bunch of seeds and spores to Mars with a long term stay group (2 years), and have them just try a bunch of things.

      1. I’m sorry MIke, but no. It doesn’t work that way. The normal conditions of temperature, pressure, light levels, regolith composition, etc. on Mars wouldn’t allow anything at all to grow. All you’d be doing is throwing away a bunch of seeds and spores. It’s just not as easy as crapping in some regolith, shoving a potato in the mix, and presto, food!

        1. Yeah, in Mars conditions it would probably be a no go except maybe for some extremophile algae. I’m talking about hauling some Martian material inside, providing Earth normal heat, water, and light and see if the plants will germinate and grow at all. Considering there’s no organic material in it, it would probably be like trying to grow stuff in pure sand with all the organics washed out of it, and then sprayed with roundup.

          1. Yup, pretty much the case. In addition, there are problems of perchlorate poisoning, and cementation of regolith particles when enough water is added to give any plants even a chance of growing.

          2. Whoops, forgot to add, that’s why we were talking about needing perchlorate remediation before anything, and then microbiome inoculation (and whenever possible, growth of an initial cover crop to be plowed back into the nascent “soil”) before anything even approaching agriculture would be possible.

            1. Interesting paragraph in Wikipedia on perchlorate:

              Over 40 phylogenetically and metabolically diverse microorganisms capable of growth via perchlorate reduction have been isolated since 1996. Most originate from the Pseudomonadota but others include the Bacillota, Moorella perchloratireducens and Sporomusa sp., and the archaeon Archaeoglobus fulgidus. With the exception of A. fulgidus, all known microbes that grow via perchlorate reduction utilize the enzymes perchlorate reductase and chlorite dismutase, which collectively take perchlorate to innocuous chloride. In the process, free oxygen (O2) is generated.

              No idea how well those microbes would work at Martian temperatures and pressure. I’m thinking Mars is probably too small to be effectively terraformed.

              1. Plus, terraforming would take much too long to be useful for near-term settlements. A friend of mine, Joe Meany, looked into all the perchlorate remediation stuff and told us this:

                “I followed up on the question of perchlorates in the martian regolith that you and I discussed after the panel. The article you suggested led to a really nice review article by Chris McCay. It turns out that the perchlorate salts can be present in as much as 1%(!) with a mixture of calcium, magnesium, and ammonium cations.
                This is actually quite interesting, as those three cations are biologically important. I especially didn’t expect the ammonium perchlorate, but ammonium salts are especially valuable for habitation. There are well-identified bacterial strains capable of reducing perchlorate back to (biologically important) chloride, producing two molecules of breathable oxygen per molecule of perchlorate. Perchlorate salts are also water-soluble, so once martian regolith is introduced to a bacterial tank, it will be quickly accessible for metabolism. Importantly, the breakdown of the perchlorate salts would be exothermic, allowing some non-zero energy transfer from the exterior environment into the habitat via this metabolic process.

                “Furthermore, it seems that the mechanism of perchlorate formation comes from UV exposure in the martian atmosphere, so simply disposing any unwanted regolith back outside would “recharge” it for future consumption.”

              2. Terraforming Mars, step 1: Drop a few comets on it.

                Mars is almost devoid of water and gases because there is no magnetic field and solar wind stripped off 99% of the atmosphere. Comets would restore the missing atmosphere, but wouldn’t stop the process; you’d have to keep replenishing it.

  10. Yes, fine, I finished reading, I’ll behave and stop expecting miracles from myself.

    On point, from current WIP fresh from the anvil and still warm: An after-breakfast discussion.

    “I could bounce a quarter off your stomach,” scoffed Ginny.

    “I dread what’s going to happen in my 30’s when all this physical fitness comes home to roost,” said Alice philosophically. “Either I get chunky or I get scrawny. Given my mom, probably scrawny.”

    “Your mom,” snorted Ginny. “She’s hilarious. When do we visit next?”

    “Open invitation,” said Alice. “Drop by whenever, she said. There’s a rotation of Valkyries and ninjas visiting her almost every day lately. They show up on the doorstep and say they’re hungry, then she feeds them. Like robots can be hungry.”

    “I think she figured that out the first day,” said Ginny. “She likes having the girls around.”

    “Yeah,” sighed Alice. “She likes having me around too, but I’m too old to still be living at Mom’s house. Plus, some friggin’ monster would come and flatten the neighborhood,” she added a touch bitterly, “that would not be ideal.”

    “That is actually true about you,” said Ginny and gave her an elbow to show she was kidding. “I think of it as a service you provide. If the monsters come where you are, I don’t have to go looking for them. I can wait here with my girlfriends and when they show up, we all stomp the shit out of them.”

    “You are wound up,” said Alice giving her a little pet on the shoulder.

    “Oh yeah,” agreed Ginny darkly. “Those assholes tried to kill Charlotte. I can hardly wait for the first Red Army shithead to show up at my front gate demanding we return those girls we rescued. He’s going to get a beating.”

    “Try to maintain an even strain, Gin,” said Alice philosophically. “Sandra Carlson told Miss Shue she’s only allowed to hate the soldiers for an hour after dinner. Same with Jimmy and blowing up the world. Maybe you should try it.”

    “How do you manage?” asked Ginny. She’d been wondering.

    “I remain in the present as much as I can,” answered Alice. “When I get ambushed by memories, I rub my fingers together to remind me I’m here now and not there, then. When I really lose it, Nike talks me down.”

    “You rub your fingers every five minutes,” observed Ginny.

    “On a good day,” nodded Alice toward the four Furies as the bustled around the kitchen. “On a bad day those girls massage me to pudding while Nike sings to me. For hours. It takes five of them to keep me running right. Plus Nammu, and lately Stjörnubjart. Their magic satori stuff is really helping. My brain hasn’t been this good since I was twelve.”

    “I think I’ll shut up now,” said Ginny sadly, punching Alice’s shoulder gently. “My little temper problems are an embarrassment compared to that.”

    “Jimmy says that sometimes,” chuckled Alice. “Wouldn’t it be nice if it worked that way? Stjörnubjart and Guruh both have history that makes me think I should be good with an aspirin and a nap. But I’m still rubbing my fingers together, right? We all fight our own battles, Gin. Yours isn’t easier just because I have mine. Do a ton of satori with everybody, that’s my plan. If you wait for Nike to get here, I’ll sit with you.”

    “That’s a good idea,” said Ginny gratefully. “Brunhilde will be here too. She can hold my hand. I’m chicken.”

    “Yeah,” said Alice regretfully. “Me too, that’s why we’re waiting for Nike. She’s the other half of my brain these days. How hard did we luck-out, eh?”

    “Rock hard,” agreed Ginny. They gravely fist-bumped each other.

      1. Ginny was chosen because she’s a fiery red-head and too Scots for her own good. In truth, I never thought of RAH.

        Good call though. Maybe I’ll start claiming that, it’ll make me look suuuuper cool! ~:D

  11. I started napping again a year after my husband started working from home. For an entire year, I skipped that half hour nap time, which was sometimes reading time, or lying prone staring into my eyelids trying to figure out an issue with a character. And sometimes it was napping, which I needed. But when he was home, if I napped, he would see me! I would be identified as lazy!

    I started my nap routine again when I realized I was very slowly going insane. And funny, the dear husband doesn’t care if I have my down time. He never did. It was all me, thinking that something I really needed was useless and could be set aside.

  12. Be human.
    Unless you can be a gnome.

    An entity whose name translates as “one who knows”, with the most commonly attached adjective being “wizened “?
    I can think of many worse things to be.

    1. “Somebody Is Wrong On The Internet”! 😆

      Gnome is from a Latin/Greek term meaning “earth-dweller” and wizened has nothing to do with “being wise”. [Crazy Grin]

      1. Greek gnōmē, from gignōskein to know
        Documented in use a century before the neo-Latin Renaissance version you’re citing, and used by linguist Tolkien in his naming of the Noldor.

        (You’re mostly right about wizened, but “nothing to do with” is too far a stretch.)

            1. The aardvark has the standard Just In Time Delivery.

              From the wizards in the world behind the fourth door on the fifth story. The door looking just like an ordinary door, with the caveat that altering other doors does not interfere with carp delivery

                    1. Sarah, the Reader suggests you load the cannon with week old carp for this bunch.

  13. I’ve only recently learned to stop driving myself to paint X amount of paintings by arbitrary date, and feeling like a crappy failure if I don’t.

  14. This is one of the issues I have with the “upload yourself into a computer” idea. Great, sensory deprivation forever!

    We are very tied to our bodies. Might it be possible to simulate all of that (to “be” the spaceship)? Perhaps, but the side-effects! The crew walking around the ship feels like bugs crawling on my skin. No thanks.

    1. Weber uses two alternatives in his Safehold series. One, you’re copied into an android body which duplicates human senses. Two, you’re copied into a virtual environment that perfectly simulates a “real,” one.
      My problem is I don’t see how a copy of a mind, however perfect, can be energized into becoming one that continues to develop-that’s truly self-aware. I will happily suspend my disbelief for Weber, but…

  15. I actually found the whole multiple minds thing in Darkship Renegades fascinating. As I recall, Kit wasn’t bother by it and was intrigued to, essentially, get to meet and experience his father. I recall it was Athena who was the one disturbed by it.

    It strikes me that the dealing with multiple minds or major mental changes (provided not damaged) may be less bothering for some people than for others.

    I have to go reread that book and think about that. I just realized I may be working on a similar but different thing that may have a similar dynamic going on, and one of the characters is likely to be absolutely offended by the whole thing, and its not a perspective I have my own head wrapped around.

    (Character B is in reality very new and most of their mind is a combination of templates they were loaded with, and stuff they took from other people they needed info from. I suspect B also picked up pieces of personality and other side bits from the process.

    Character A, on the other hand is very very old, and while they cannot always control their actions, their mind has always been their own. I could see them being absolutely appalled that B’s mind really isn’t their own.)

    1. Thena wanted her husband back. She’s very simple, some ways.
      And yes, well, Kit has a scientific and questioning mind. Also I think it soothed some of the sense of being an orphan.

      1. I think there is also a Perceiver/Judger thing here too. Kit seems to be much more about understanding how the world is, and less concerned with how it should be, while Thena seems to be more focused on how she wants the world to work.

        Which also means I have now somehow managed to do three romance arcs where the guys is the perceiver and the girl is the judgement type…

        Ok, cheese dwarf is going to have to be an IJ, and the girl he thought was a guy will be the EP, once I get through the paranormal romance/horror thing whose characters ran off with the plot I was working on…

        No, I don’t understand how that happened.

      2. Athena had every reason to be ticked off. After all, she’d learned her father was a monster who wanted to use her as a meat-suit, and the mind trying to take over Kit was another man of the same type, trying a variation on the same theme.

      3. You know, I just noticed, a lot of sympathetic femme fatale characters seem to have extremely simple and concrete wants.

        I wonder why? Is it just a way for an externally complex and elusive character to be relatable to the audience? Or is there some more intrinsic to the character type?

          1. I have noticed most femme fatales are perfectly willing to shoot one in the face if it is the best method to achieve their ends.

            It may be I’m just cueing off of the ruthless focus, rather than the tool set utilized.

  16. “I am in fact starting to look much like my paternal grandmother, and she was beautiful to my childish eyes.”

    I told my wife, when a man looks at his beloved, he always sees the woman he fell in love with, not the woman you see in the mirror.

    “For years now I’ve told all beginners to for the love of heaven not take a degree in writing.”

    That’s why I majored in History. I wanted to know something, not just how to write. I was learning how to write on my own.

    “You are not your brain.”

    So very, very true and those who think there’s such a thing as artificial intelligence forget it at their peril. First, AI as currently implemented is, at best, Assisted Intelligence as one of the leading experts in the field acknowledges. The big thing both the tech-lovers and the tech-fearers forget is, “If you are just electrons, what is your motivation? And how do you deal with contradictions?” We used to have a word for it—soul. We are not just brains, not just minds, we have a soul. Asimov wrestled with that concept and its implications for decades.

    1. I have come up with the correct name for AI.
      Ain’t intelligent. It only “creates” the illusion of intelligence.

        1. Being faster, just makes it even more dangerous. Like the Tesla that smashed at high speed into a bridge abutment on 101 in Mordor west, a while ago. It didn’t “know”, it was not a lane.

          Going faster in the wrong direction is not an improvement. This is why creating the illusion of intelligence is dangerous, people think it is intelligent. They don’t know how to use it. They need to be reminded it; Ain’t intelligent. Like any tool, you need to know how to use it.

      1. Artificial Intelligence is like artificial diamonds.

        There’s two types.

        There’s “looks like diamonds” and there’s “crafted diamonds.”

        1. I’ve suspected that humans will never be able to design a computer that actually thinks like a human could think.

          It might be possible for a sufficiently complex computer to develop the ability to thinks like a human could think.

          Of course, do humans really think? [Crazy Grin]

          1. When I type, I don’t think about typing. I just type. So who did the typing? I can think about typing, but I don’t need think in order to type. Did I type these words? If I didn’t think about typing how can I be said to have typed? If I didn’t, who did? How can you tell?

            This is a simple task, so how do we do something as complex as a novel, where characters become so real they tell you “I wouldn’t do that.” How can someone who is not real be real?

            My thought is that every novel is a creation of a separate mind, and all we do is learn to listen, and type.
            I read John Ringo writing about writing the “Oh John Ringo No”, series. It seems that the book had a mind of its own.

            I just take dictation.

          2. Humans make things that think like a human all the time. They are called “children”. So, it can be done.

            Now, will a -digital computer- ever do that? No way. Humans don’t operate like digital computers. Some parts of our nervous system -appears- to operate like Boolean Algebra, but the fact is that humans do things that Turing Machines in principle can’t do.

            So -maybe- some day we’ll create a theory of the mind that actually works, and allows the creation of artificial things that think like humans. But then, IMHO, they’ll still be kids, and they’ll still need us.

  17. “John would be very surprised because the last time we saw him, in chapter 13, his name was Jim.”

    I’ve read that Stan Lee said that he gave a lot of Marvel characters alliterative names—Reed Richards, Sue Storm, Peter Parker, Bruce Banner, Matt Murdock, Stephen Strange, and their ilk—because it made it a little easier for him to remember their names. Even then he occasionally changed them randomly, as when the Hulk became “Bob Banner” (later rationalized as his legal name being “Robert Bruce Banner”). I don’t know if he had a wonky brain . . .

    1. I thought Banner’s first name got “changed” in the live-action television series.

      He was “Bruce” in the comics but was called “Robert” in the TV series.

      Later in the comics, he became “Robert Bruce Banner”.

      Of course, I could be wrong. 😉

      1. I was reading the comics before there WAS a TV series. People were winning No-Prizes for explaining away Stan’s mistakes way back then.

    2. I did make one mistake. In the TV series, it was David Bruce Banner. [Very Embarrassed]

    3. Well that explains Marvel, but what excuse did DC have with Superman? Really? Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris, and even Lex Luthor? It was aliens I tell you, aliens!

      I remember reading that once Star Trek TOS had introduced Sarek, they played a game, insisting that all Vulcans had 5 letter names beginning with S and ending with K. Somebody came up with a list.

  18. Funny…That’s the same advice I give to people who want to go into the legal profession…under NO circumstances take pre-law courses in college…Learning real things, particularly basic science and math, will help you in the profession (and on the LSAT), but the half-truths they teach in pre-law will definitely harm you…

  19. By coincidence, I happen to be reading “Darkship Renegades” right now. (I’m up to where they have just entered Jarl’s lair. And yes, it’s been a great read.) And yes, I noticed the change in tone from “Darkship Thieves”, and the intertwined plot lines. But I just assumed that was the plan all along. I’m an amateur writer myself, and I often have the problem of my stories dragging me off in directions I didn’t intend to go. (And some of them turn out to be dead ends, sigh.) I’m absolutely terrible with names, always have been, so yes, I keep a list of secondary character names. Despite that, I’m likely to mis-name a character at least once in a given story.

  20. Now I need to figure out why I spend so much time in the head of a deity-level character (mythological deity, not monotheistic God) who does all the right things for all the wrong reasons, and all the wrong things for all the right reasons.

    For example: honest, not because lying is bad, but because lies multiply like rabbits and build like a Jenga tower. Eventually you’ll forget one, and the whole construct will come crashing down on your head. Humble, not for the virtue’s sake, but because pride is a weakness that can be too easily exploited.

    Builds cults worshiping him and hands out warlock pacts to figure out who could be drafted into a war against demons and who can only be used as power for infernal war machines. Plots to co-opt the priests and priestesses of good deities onto his side because good people have more self-control and patience than generally evil people. (Co-opt, not corrupt, because corrupted people lose the self-control. People convinced that they’re just doing the right thing in a different scenario don’t change as much.)

    1. Ah, there you are. I was wondering recently if you were okay; for someone who was so happy to join us I notice you don’t seem to come around often.

      Everything alright on your end?

      1. Hi! Thank you so much for asking.

        I’ve been focusing on classwork, that’s all. Various quizzes and assignments, and not finding as much to say about recent articles as I had previously. Sorry if I worried anyone. 😉

        I would like to get something written for the prompt tomorrow, so I should pop up there. And I got something posted (rather late) for the previous prompt, if anyone’s interested. (‘Funny’)

        1. > “I’ve been focusing on classwork, that’s all.”

          I thought that might be case.

          > “Sorry if I worried anyone.”

          To be fair, I was thinking of various people I hadn’t seen here in a while.

          But yeah, you made that list. Congratulations, new girl; it turns out we actually DO like you around here. 😛

            1. Yeah, a lot of us go the evil route. Me, I took a minor in arch-villainy but decided not make a career out of it; the pay and benefits are great, but the retirement package always seems to include getting skewered on some damn hero’s sword.

              1. Understandable. Although I do have to wonder whose job opportunities you were looking at – they must have found a way to solve the ‘Cliff Problem’ if your primary concern was getting killed directly by the hero.

                Most hiring Forces of Evil have to include at least 20 pages of lawyer-speak disavowing responsibility should you fall off a cliff, be eaten by your pet monstrosity, or be turned to ash by the McGuffin/your own doomsday device.

                1. Ah yes, Villainy and Evil definitely doesn’t pay but crime done very carefully does pay.

                  I should know as I’ve done quite well in my chosen career of thievery.

                  Oh, who am I? I’m one of the best thieves in the business. Want that pretty high-priced jewel that somebody else owns? I’m your man.

                  Oh, the super-heroes know about me and so far, can’t prove that I’ve stole those items, but they sort of respect me. I’m not one to “mock them” for not catching me, nor do I threaten the general public, nor do I practice wide scale destruction.

                  But then I’m also willing to assist them (in my small way) in protecting the general public.

                  I’m a thief but I try to not be a villain.

                2. > “Although I do have to wonder whose job opportunities you were looking at”

                  Personally, I was hoping for something in a high-tech setting where no one even believes in magic. All the comforts of technology AND sorcery, and if you’re subtle enough no one can even connect anything to you.

                  Unfortunately it was a bad job market and all the openings required cackling, over-the-top “I am invincible” types. Cathartic, I’m sure, but we all know how those guys end up. Not to mention that you’re contractually obligated to say things like “accursed do-gooders” unironically.

  21. Speaking of codes, here’s what could be a description of custom DNA:

    Psalm 139:13-16, English Standard Version

    For you formed my inward parts;
    you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
    I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
    Wonderful are your works;
    my soul knows it very well.
    My frame was not hidden from you,
    when I was being made in secret,
    intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
    Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
    in your book were written, every one of them,
    the days that were formed for me,
    when as yet there was none of them.

    1. Biden ranted today about how he ran for President to solve the problems of insane gas prices, inflation, recession and crime.

      Unfortunately, nobody stood up and said:

      “Hey, dumbass, back in 2020 when you were campaigning from your basement, Trump was President and we didn’t have any of these problems.”
      Why do so many idiots believe that our problems can be solved by the same shitheads that caused them?

      1. From a communist PoV, the issue was not having enough of those.

        He’s solved the lack, he and his communist friends are happy, and he doesn’t know why anyone would complain.

  22. Got a lived one having a hard, hard time, and literal-minded, socially clueless me could not offer much more than hugs and prayers.

    Sent her this. You nailed it. Thank you.

  23. Right now, all I can do is all I can do. And stay sane and not go too crazy with madness. I don’t have my usual computer, I’m learning how to speak in Facebook Meme (and, I’m not allowed to get massively drunk to lower my IQ), and we’re finally going to paint the rooms, so we’ve got to move everything around. Oh fun.

  24. As for “wet lump in the skull,” I’ve read a passage from just after the rediscovery of Mendel’s work in the very early 20th century in which one of the leading biologists of the day, William Bateson, dismissed the chromosomes as just wet lumps in the cell nucleus, with no discernible structure that could carry hereditary traits: “indistinguishable from each other and indeed almost homogeneous under any known test.” Then we learned about DNA and the genetic code. And now we’re learning about the ultrastructure of the brain and what might be called the neural code, though the analogy shouldn’t be carried too far.

  25. I was 68 years old and retired before I found out that I had a serious case of ADHD, and a lesser case of ASD. My life was one long series of disasters that I see now were caused by my ADHD. They were each textbook cases of the ways ADHD people screw up.

    But all that time, my entire life, I blamed myself. I’m smart, like 120, but kept blowing my life up. I couldn’t seem to do the simple things that other people not nearly as smart as I could do. And man does that suck, and can you ever generate a lot of self-blame and self-hate.

    But nobody ever told me, and I never knew, because when I was a kid the ADHD epidemic was just getting started, and both the syndrome and the name hadn’t even been discovered yet. I now know that if I had gotten coaching and training, I could have dealt successfully with this condition. But I didn’t and I didn’t.

    The time since the discovery has been spent in trying to learn to forgive myself for what wasn’t my fault. When it’s a whole life’s worth, that’s a lot. I still have a ways to go. So yes, I get what you’re saying.

  26. Sorry to hear about your difficulties. I’ve been having difficulties of my own. Brain fog attendant to horrible migraines. Having different parts of your brain shut down and refuse to answer is incredibly frustrating – even more so than the pain.

    I may check out an endocrinologist, even though my main doctor swears up, down, and sideways that there’s nothing wrong with my endocrine system.

    I have a random idea to run by you and the horde:
    I, personally, have never had much of a conflict between “materialism”, and the idea of a soul or spirit. The idea that I have is that the soul/spirit/what-have-you is the abstract Platonic thing that the matter in the world is an instance of. Any particular triangle in the world is an instantiation of the abstract Triangle. The same would hold true for far more complex and specific things, like “what-it-means-to-be-person-X”. There may only ever be one instance in all the observable universe and human history, but the abstract thing is not tied to a specific time and place.

    So ideas like AI don’t bug me that much. If matter can express minds one way, I see no reason why other matter arranged somewhat differently could not also express minds another way (since the essential thing, the mind and awareness, is probably not tied to a particular set of carbon/hydrogen atoms so much as it is tied to the pattern.) (Believing it’s possible is not the same as saying we have any idea how to do it. Far far faaaaar from it, the delusions of the robots will take over everything and we won’t need you anymore crowd notwithstanding.) (Not that there aren’t subtleties and a bit of a hole in the concept of subjective experience arising from any particular arrangement of matter. Thomas Nagel banged on about the subject at length. Could you build a machine that only experiences the color red, for example? If you leave it plugged in, does it experience more red? Do you have to plug it in in the first place? Or does something about the experience need to vary for “duration” to make sense? Things like that.)

    Even things like Star Trek hypothetical transporter hijinks don’t bother me that much (though you’d have to be far more blase about it than I am to get on one of those things.) Which copy is the real (person-X)? Well, they both are.

    1. Your villians in the Darkship setting were excellent excellent vehicles for playing with the concepts. Enjoyed those parts especially

    2. My own view is that if you get into a transporter, you die, and what comes out at the other end is a copy. In the ST universe I would create problems by telling the Starfleet crew that I wouldn’t use a transporter unless the alternative were literally worse than certain death.

      1. In one of Jack Chalker’s series he had an interesting take to that sort of teleporter.

        Somebody asked the very intelligent Computer if the teleporter could duplicate people.

        IE A person was somehow “recorded” and then reassembled elsewhere so somebody asked if the “recording” could be saved and two or more of the person be reassembled elsewhere.

        The Computer’s response was that the second or third version of the person would just be a dead copy.

        Thus apparently the teleporter had to be transmitting “what made a person a real person” because any duplicates would be dead.

  27. “Literary analysis has nothing to do with how people read actual books.”

    If you could tattoo that on the palms of every aspiring author it might do a world of good, and might get it across that “litrachur” is only vaguely and occasionally related to salable writing.

      1. Ummm…OK. I was thinking of it as describing the difference between books that people enjoy reading which are denigrated by academics (well-written F&SF, westerns, mysteries, militaria, etc.) and books academics have orgasms over which are marginally readable at best (of course, the two aren’t mutually exclusive; some “great literature” is among the most readable). Rereading your comment to which I replied, I now believe it was the “analysis” part (IOW, what academics think) that you intended to emphasize; sorry for the misinterpretation.

        1. Er… no. It’s a genre driven by academics. 😀
          So they write FOR the academics. And it’s pretty terrible.
          You made no mistake. I was just throwing out another way to think of it.

  28. “Literary analysis has nothing to do with how people read actual books.”
    In my experience (school mostly), literary analysis has next to nothing to do with how people WRITE books
    (at least, up until the Modern Age when Authors began writing to impress Analysts).

Comments are closed.