Thursday, January 21, 2016

Review: Isaac Asimov Presents the Great Science Fiction 2

Isaac Asimov Presents the Great Science Fiction 2 by Isaac Asimov My rating: 3 of 5 stars I didn’t actually read this book; I read it as part of a combined volume: Isaac Asimov Presents the Golden Years of Science Fiction: 36 Stories and Novellas. But there wasn’t enough space in my review there for all my comments on the individual stories, so I’m posting them

Posted by Calion to Current Thoughts at January 21, 2016 at 04:32PM

Review: Isaac Asimov Presents the Great Science Fiction 2

Isaac Asimov Presents the Great Science Fiction 2 by Isaac Asimov My rating: 3 of 5 stars View all my reviews

Posted by Calion to Current Thoughts at January 21, 2016 at 04:28PM

Review: Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 1: 1939

Isaac Asimov Presents The Great SF Stories 1: 1939 by Isaac Asimov My rating: 3 of 5 stars I didn’t actually read this book; I read it as part of a combined volume:Isaac Asimov Presents the Golden Years of Science Fiction: 36 Stories and Novellas. But there wasn’t enough space in my review there for all my comments on the individual stories, so I’m posting them

Posted by Calion to Current Thoughts at January 21, 2016 at 04:05PM

Review: Isaac Asimov Presents the Golden Years of Science Fiction: 36 Stories and Novellas

Isaac Asimov Presents the Golden Years of Science Fiction: 36 Stories and Novellas by Isaac Asimov My rating: 3 of 5 stars This book is just what it says: an anthology of the outstanding science fiction short stories from 1939 and 1940, chosen by Martin Greenberg and Isaac Asimov. Actually that’s not quite right; it includes some fantasy stories as well, which I

Posted by Calion to Current Thoughts at January 21, 2016 at 03:50PM

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Blog Reboot

I am, at long last, going through the process to get this blog up and running again (thanks in large part to IFTTT). The details of the new process will be explained in an upcoming post, but this is to notify any followers of this blog (particularly those with email subscriptions) that every single entry on this blog is going to be deleted and recreated in the upcoming weeks, so any subscribers will receive notification of dozens of posts within a short time period. You've been warned. (Followers of the compended blogs—Current Thoughts and Journal Entries—will receive no such barrage).


Thursday, April 29, 2010

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Thursday, July 24, 2008


And people wonder why I won't fly anymore. --
Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Current Thoughts at 7/24/2008 12:17:00 PM

Thursday, July 03, 2008

The End of the Dream (Part 2)

        The crucial question here is why? Why are my feelings self-defeating? That makes no sense. Now that I realize that my emotions aren't the enemy, how can I believe that they're simply bad? I can't. I know that they're working for me. Time to apply my method.
        Your emotions are trying to protect you from the unknown. That's the first part. I just now called in from work sick, and I feel guilty & scared. I'm not sick; I just feel I have to have this day to myself to hold onto (and possibly advance) whatever gains I've made.

        Here's my essential problem: the more I look, the more I learn, the more I understand, the harder it is to convince myself that the systems of morals we are handed are wrong, stupid, pointless and a waste of my life. I see the reasons behind them and realize that there were indeed good reasons for these rules and modes of behavior, and although I still hate them, it becomes harder and harder to convince myself that my way is the "right" way. I must need a new viewpoint.
        This all from Phillip Wylie's The End of the Dream, p. 157: "Too many discoveries had been of sorts that showed the clerical dogmas were unsound, untenable, nothing for sensible people to fool with."
        —Just because it's wrong doesn't mean it's useless, or even bad! Do we have an alternative? A truly better way? How do we know?

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 10/29/1998 12:00:00 PM

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The End of the Dream

From the Preface by John Brunner:
"Perhaps, one of these days, archaeologists will come to Earth from another planet and think of erecting a monument to mark our passing. If so, they could choose no better inscription for it than this: 'Here lies a species capable of thinking, but too lazy to think anything right through.'"

        Not lazy. Not lazy. The exact opposite, in fact. Too busy. Frightened, even. Impatient, certainly. But not lazy.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 10/25/1998 12:00:00 PM

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Roads Must Roll

I like Heinlein's "The Roads Must Roll"—How about a tale of a real functionalist revolution? A successful one, I mean? Or an alternative sequel to his story, where Van Kleek wins, not being the simpering weakling Heinlein presumes everyone who disagrees with him to be? Who would be next to revolt? What would the ultimate consequences be?

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 10/11/1998 11:02:00 AM

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Aggravated Vehicular Genocide

The following inspired by "Aggravated Vehicular Genocide," Christopher L. Bennett, 11/98 Analog.

"What is the purpose of Justice? Is it to punish the guilty? To wreak vengeance upon the perpetrators of unsavory deeds? To somehow rectify and right wrongs, when often the wrong cannot be undone, no matter what anyone desires or what punishment is meted out? No, I say! The purpose of Justice is not to right wrongs or satisfy rage, but to help ensure that the wrong does not reoccur. When a crime is committed unknowingly, when moreover none connected with the perpetrators will ever be aware of the verdict or the consequences, and especially when it is in the interest of all to prevent this sort of incident from ever occurring again, what purpose does it serve to put the perpetrators to death? Do you intend to solve the problem by evolutionary attrition, allowing only those to live that have not committed crimes, in hopes that the genetic capability of performing the forbidden act will be eventually eliminated? Surely this will be as costly to both sides as it is unlikely to succeed. Far better to forgo the illusion of legalities and simply go to war. The purpose of the Court is to serve the people, not to punish the guilty in order to satisfy some feeling of vengeance, fairness, or justice."

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 10/11/1998 11:01:00 AM

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Feeling Good (Part 2)

• p. 62: "Suppose, for example, you suddenly realize you're late for a…meeting. Your heart sinks and you're gripped with panic. Now ask yourself, 'What thoughts are going through my mind right now? What am I saying to myself? Why is this upsetting me?'"
        These are valid questions. I'm not arguing with him anymore. But I do think this is a good time to clarify what I think actually goes on in our minds.
        There aren't necessarily any thoughts going through your mind at that moment. There might be, but there don't have to be for you to be feeling bad. As I've said, feelings don't come directly from thoughts, and emotions can react directly to stimuli, without any intervening cognitive action. (can≠always do)
        Darn. I let the Muse slip. Maybe later.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 10/11/1998 11:00:00 AM

Friday, May 02, 2008

Syler Method of Investigation

We (I) can find answers to problems by analyzing the problem; more specifically, by analyzing the question. Because there has to be a question. And it has to be in words, as does the answer. If you can't explain it in words, you don't understand it. So it's like I've said: Asking Questions and Getting Answers. Asking the question–in words—then making sure you understand the question and every word in it. If you don't, analyze. Be specific and concrete.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 9/30/1998 11:00:00 AM

Thursday, May 01, 2008


You say it because you feel it, and you
        know it in your gut
But if you can't explain it, then you don't
        understand it
And all you know
is how you feel.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 9/26/1998 11:05:00 AM

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Intelligence and Survival

        I don't know how much sense this makes, but I just thought something that I thought worthy of recording: "It's no wonder that intelligence doesn't pass in direct lines; if it did, we'd just band together and kill the others"—or outperform them, or what not.
        Could this be true? I mean, you can't do away with the intelligent ones—you need them. But too many together, especially related, is a danger to everyone else. But why didn't it happen, then? We are all somewhat intelligent; obviously it's a survival trait for us. But only a few are very intelligent; this has always been true, and is still true in apes. Why didn't the smart ones beget more smart ones and become dominant? Are lots of smart people self-destructive? This is very important.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 9/26/1998 11:04:00 AM

Monday, April 07, 2008

The Great Ages of Western Philosophy

Volume I, The Age of Belief

• Introduction, first page, first sentence, p. ix: '"We are like dwarfs seated on the shoulders of giants…"'
        Dwarfs? Why dwarfs? The fact that we can do so much and see so far largely because of the proceeding efforts of our forebears [does not imply that we are somehow doomed to be lesser men than they. Certainly the great philosophers of the past did much, and covered much ground, and we are greatly indebted to them in many ways. But philosophy is unlike science in this way: Progress is not guaranteed. It is not necessarily the case that philosophy tends to get less wrong as time goes on. It can, and we certainly hope it does, but there is less guarantee of that than with science (not that it is absolutely guaranteed there either). What I mean is that it is very possible that the great philosophers of the past can hold us back sometimes, and cause us to look for answers in the wrong directions, and so, giants though they may have been, they are occasionally giants who are actually standing on us, pushing us down.
        My point is that to believe that the great philosophers are somehow better or did more than we are or do, is not only a fallacy, it is a dangerous fallacy, because it causes us to look on our own work with trepidation, and causes us to be timid, believing that we could never be as great as our predecessors, so great, bold, new, paradigm-breaking ideas are less likely to come forth, or if they are advanced, to be taken seriously, because it is hubris to presume that your work could be as important as that as that of the great philosophers of history.–4/2/08 10:32 PM]

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 9/26/1998 11:03:00 AM

Friday, March 21, 2008

Feeling Good

•p. 28: "…most schools of thought place a strong emphasis on 'getting in touch' with your feelings… Depression is not an emotional disorder at all!… Every bad feeling you have is a result of your distorted negative thinking."
        He's wrong, of course. This is the central problem I have with Cognitive Therapy, both Burns' and Dyer's versions. Feelings do not come from thoughts. Feelings and thoughts are two discrete things. Closely interrelated but separate. One does not 'cause' the other. Feelings can come from thoughts, surely, but so can thoughts come from feelings—more easily, I believe. They can influence each other strongly, however. Your thoughts can indeed change your feelings—if you believe them. Emotions don't come from thought, they come from belief, and that belief can change from moment to moment. It is what you believe about the world that colors your emotion, and shapes the way you look at the world you perceive. Those beliefs can be strongly influenced—instantaneously—by your thoughts, which are largely under conscious control. The best way I can describe it now is that feeling and thought react simultaneously to your perception, feeding off of and being modified by each other. But the cardinal fact remains that your emotions are shaped almost solely by your beliefs, and these beliefs are largely shaped by your cognitions. These beliefs aren't all deep-seated, permanent things, either. Many of them can change from moment to moment, in just the fashion indicated by Feeling Good. So: Let's try this as a preliminary model:

        So let me state my specific objection to a particular passage, and let that objection carry for all the other similar passages:
•p. 29: "You will learn, as she did, that the negative thoughts that flood your mind are the actual cause of your self-defeating emotions."
        No. They are a strong contributing factor, but they are not the cause. But the practical upshot of his statement is true: you can change your emotions with your thoughts. It's merely that these thoughts are acting on the beliefs that your emotions immediately stem from, rather than on the emotions themselves. After all, if you really could change your emotions so arbitrarily, who would you be? You'd only have to think happy thoughts and you'd be happy! No. It doesn't work that way. You must believe it for it to work. Belief is the key here. Your emotions supply a large part of your identity, and all your motivation. (Without emotions, you have no identity!) You can't control your emotions; not really. You can stop yourself from feeling many of them—almost all—but you can't control them, because the only real "you" that exists is centered on your emotions!
        Besides, where do you think these negative thoughts come from? They originate with your emotions, always, based on your beliefs. Your cognitive center has no will. It merely calculates. You can merely choose, with your mind, based on your deepest emotions, which other emotions are important to you, and which you will not feel, and to what degree.
        But people who depend on their minds do not have no will; in fact, it seems that they often have the strongest will of all. How do I explain this? Because the person who relies on their cognitions to tell them what's right and wrong are acting only on their deepest emotions, not allowing the rest to enter the equation. Or at least not to alter it.

        It is true that if you alter your misconceptions, your mood will improve.

•p. 32–45: I think I've said this elsewhere, but I'm really not sure about his 10-point list. It has some validity, but I'm not sure that the list is either totally necessary or sufficient. Mental filter, for example. Why is it called that, anyway?

3/21/08 10:17 PM I believe I've got further notes on this book later in this journal, but I wanted to insert some current comments here, since I coincidentally find myself rereading this book just at the time that I am typing in my 10-year old journal entry on it.
        I can't comment on cognitive therapy in general, or on Beck's methodology or ideology. All I've got to go on is Burns' book. But it is an excellent example, in small, of a problem I have with the psychological establishment in general: An appalling lack of philosophy. Oh, he'll throw the word around occasionally, but heaven forbid he should ever actually study the stuff. If he had, he would have discovered that there are volumes upon volumes of rather sophisticated thought on the difference between, and the relationship among, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs. Perhaps he would disagree with it all. But the ridiculously naïve and unsophisticated (not to mention inconsistent; after all his talk about thoughts being the important thing, he'll throw in an offhand comment about belief once in a while) model he proposes is rather an insult to the philosophers who have spent so much work on precisely these questions, as well as foolish, when all this work has been done that he could have access to to improve his vision. But that's psychology for you; they're actually doing jackleg philosophy, but they have to pretend it's "science," so they don't need all those ivory tower "ideas."

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 9/10/1998 11:00:00 AM

Thursday, March 20, 2008


        I have a problem with Gulf. Yes, Man, men, society, culture and language could be improved, but that's no excuse for calling what went before "superstitious and ignorant." We—they—did the best they could with what they had. So what if it wasn't perfect? Newton was wrong; was he superstitious and ignorant? [In particular, was his scientific work superstitious and ignorant?—3/13/08 10:39 PM] Bah. These sorts of delusions of grandeur will just get you into trouble. Remember, always remember, that just because you don't understand why something is, doesn't mean there isn't a reason. Before you go calling the masses of humanity "stupid," stop and ask yourself why, then, did they live so long. Everything has a reason. Stupidity—absolute, not relative–simply does not exist in normal humans. Before you go calling yourself a new race, I suggest you understand the old one.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 9/05/1998 11:00:00 AM

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Seventh Son

by Orson Scott Card

•p. 73:
"…If Mama believes in God and Papa doesn't, how do I know which is right?"
…"How do I know things like that, when Mama says one thing and Papa says another?"
…"Al, I got to tell you, I wisht I knew. Sometimes, I figure ain't nobody knows nothing."

        I can understand a twenty-two-year-old (or anyone) not knowing the answer to this, and I certainly understand a six-year-old not knowing, but I know, and if Card doesn't, this explains just about everything that bothers me about his work.

[Thursday, March 13, 2008 9:38 PM: I don't mean anything esoteric by this, just that if you don't know what the truth is, about religious questions or anything else, you try to figure it out, by gathering evidence, weighing it, and trying to come to a conclusion using your powers of reason. This seems obvious, and it is, but it seems to me that for many people, it simply does not occur to them to use the same method they would use to answer any ordinary question to answer questions of religion or faith.]

•p. 94: "He thought of writing down that thought, but decided against it. It had no traces on it save the prints of his own soul—neither the marks of heaven, nor of hell. By this he knew that it hadn't been given to him. He had forced the thought himself. So it couldn't be prophecy, and couldn't be true."
        Is this what Card believes? Is he truly that simple in matters of faith, probing and prodding, pushing at the boundaries of his belief but never allowing himself to question the center? Or—gasp—does he not believe at all, and set these traps within his works so only the very intelligent will see the flaws in the logic an begin to question their own beliefs, while anyone else simply sees a believing man asking intelligent, hard questions? He did say that he was strongly influenced by Ayn Rand, after all.
        Unfortunately as always, the most likely explanation is also the most mundane: He's an intelligent believer who has many doubts, and these doubts and questions come out in his work. But I can always hope. He seems too intelligent not to see the flaws in his logic.
        Heres a case in point, the best example I've seen of him coming so close, then missing:

        I'll do the Wyrms thing later. That's it, it has to be, the Ayn Rand theory is true. It's a goddamn puzzle, and he's done it again, just like in Wyrms: He'll ask a question, give the wrong answer, and then, several pages later, give the right one! He's smarter than I ever imagined. [I don't think I ever did "the Wyrms thing." I think I know what I was going to do, but I'll have to reread the book to lay it out. Sometime. The below is the aforementioned case in point.]

•p. 132: "Everything possible to be believed is image of truth. If it feels true to me, then there is something true in it, even if it isn't all true. And if I study it out in my mind, then maybe I can find what parts of it are true and what parts are false, and—" [emphasis added]
        Which is the precise answer to the question that started this discussion, umpteen pages back. He goes on:
'…if something just plain didn't make sense to Alvin, he didn't believe it, and no amount of quoting from the Bible would convince him.'

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 9/04/1998 11:00:00 AM

Sunday, February 17, 2008


The first thing a person must do to gain control of his own life is to develop a view of how the world works and of his place in it.

Posted By Calion to Genius/Idiot—Journal Entries at 9/02/1998 11:00:00 AM