So I’m a Goodreads author now

Nova 2015 antologiaI’ve been an aspiring writer since forever. I’d like to write both fiction and nonfiction – and also, you know, be read and published too. I’ve been taking slow steps in that direction, and just now, the first book containing a short story of mine was published. It’s the anthology for the Nova 2015 nationwide Finnish speculative fiction short story contest, in which I came fourth with a horror story whose title translates as “The Devil’s Cellar”. Nova 2015 -antologia

That was really nice, first winning and then being published. What I hadn’t realised was that this would also get me listed as an author on Goodreads. I’m certainly going to take that opportunity. And so I have an author’s blog there now: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17105199.Ville_V_Kokko/blog

My main interests as a fiction writer are in speculative fiction. The next thing coming out from me should be a fantasy short story in another, English-language anthology, although the schedule is unclear at the moment.

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Miggä ihmme Turru mure?

Turrun mureTurun ylioppilaslehden numerossa 5/2107 haastatellun Turun murteen asiantuntijan Tommi Kurjen mukaan “Turkulaiset nuoret eivät koe puhuvansa Turun murretta, koska he eivät käytä vanhempien tai isovanhempien käyttämiä murresanoja.”

No eivät varmaan. Turun murre on ainoa murre, jota kukaan ei koskaan puhu missään. Yksi tyyppi puhui ennen radiossa, mutta nyt se “Uutissi Turust” -ohjelma on kuulemma lopetettu.

Varmasti turkulaisilla on oma tunnistettava puhetapansa, mutta sitä ei missään tapauksessa pidä sekoittaa Turun murteeseen. Turun murre on jotakin, jota esiintyy “Uutissi Turust” -ohjelman lisäksi esimerkiksi Aku Ankan murteella kirjoitetuissa erikoisnumeroissa ja ylipäätään joka paikassa, missä on kirjoitettua murretta. Meille kerrotaan aina, että tämä on Turun murretta. Joten, okei. Se on sitten Turun murretta. Ja Turun murretta ei sitten puhu kukaan, koska turkulaiset eivät ainakaan puhu sillä tavoin. Olen kerran kuullut jonkun sanovan tunteneensa yhden ihmisen, joka puhui siten, mutta luonnossa en ole sitä kuullut. Continue reading

All in the mind? The argument for idealism in Biocentrism

I reviewed the book Biocentrism: How Life and Consciousness Are the Keys to Understanding theBiocentrism Idealism True Nature of the Universe By Robert Lanza and Bob Berman earlier, and I was rather critical about it. I also promised to look more closely at the argument of the book that “external” reality depends on the mind to exist. Here I will do that, focusing mainly the “philosophical” beginning of the argument and much less on the quantum mechanical part.

The argument is began in chapter 3, “The Sound of a Falling Tree”. Readers familiar with such things may already see where this is going.

“If a tree falls in the forest, and there’s no-one there to hear it, does it make a sound?”

Lanza (he’s the main author and I take the voice of the book to be his) comments that most people will automatically think that of course it does make a sound, but he contends that this is not what science says about the matter. He goes through what he thinks science does say. There’s nothing particularly new here, at least to me. When the tree falls down, it creates disturbances in the air, and these cause our experience of sound if we’re around to hear it. If we’re not, there’s just the disturbances in the air. Continue reading

Wealthy Affiliate – A thinking person’s scam?

wealthy-affiliateI’ve been planning to start a more popular blog and see if I could get more readership — maybe even revenue from advertising. (I don’t like that it’s advertisements, but that seems to be the way to get money from views, and earning money from writing would be a dream come true.) Recently, I came across a website called Wealthy Affiliate that’s supposed to help with that kind of thing. There’s a free membership, but I was never so naïve as to think you’re not supposed to upgrade to the paid version. Still, you can at least try it for free.

At first, it seemed that reviews of the website were all positive — and credible. But now I’ve looked into it more and don’t think I will want to try it. So I can’t do a proper review as someone who’s tried out the site. You’ll find a million reviews like that online if you look, like I did. I also don’t have a definite opinion as to whether it’s a “scam” or legit or something in between. What I want to tell you is to point out some… rather interesting things I noticed about those reviews.

After all, if it’s a website about marketing your website, it ought to be pretty good at marketing itself, right? So how much can you trust what you read about it?

If you’re here to read the kind of stuff I usually write, you can read this as an exercise in critical thinking.

Continue reading

Best past posts

WordPress informed me that my last post was the 200th post on this blog. With that and the new year, it’s a good time for my idea of a post that collects some of the best posts from before, many of which have fallen way below the top of the list here but which I’d recommend people to read.

This is quite a lot of posts, but I have been posting here for years, so these really are just some of the best ones. I hope that you’ll click on something that you’ll find interesting. You can scroll down to see different “categories”, written in bold.

In particular, I think I’ve got some good old ones about critical thinking:

In addition to critical thinking, many of my articles overlap into what might called “scientific thinking” — how science works in general.

While I’m not a scientist, I also cover a few topics that could be said to be about science, be it evolution or psychology or something else:

Philosophy is the field I’m supposed to be studying, so the next ones will be miscellaneous philosophy.

  • Some difficulties in thinking about time looks at how assumptions about time pervade our thinking so much that they make thinking about the nature of time difficult.
  • The Decision Machine presents a thought experiment showing why it might be that we think that we are (or have to be) able to choose between different options when making a free choice — even if determinism is true. It’s just one of the many posts I have about free will.
  • The Ultimate Sceptical Argument (Leads Nowhere) — What things can we doubt? What can we know? Can we really refute all scepticism?
  • How Does Meaning and Purpose Emerge in a Mechanistic Universe? tackles the big question of how a mechanistic universe can become a humanly meaningful one.
  • In Two Kinds of Morality… Actually, Just One, I point out how there can be completely different bases for what people think of as “moral” — and how, once they are stripped of deceptive words, some ideas about morality turn out to be anything but moral.
  • In Possibility Is Just Lack of Contradiction, I analyse the notion of possibility and of possible worlds and give them a simple reductive explanation that accounts for all the facts and is justified by them.
  • The philosophical gap looks at a common phenomenon where really thinking about things makes it seem like what you knew was totally wrong — when really it only seems like that because you’re still stuck in the old view of how things “should” be.

Some of my posts combine popular fiction with philosophy:

I have also written about religion and spirituality from various angles, as a very well-informed outsider to organised religion.

I also have a number of posts that could be described as “answers to stuff I hear people say a lot.” Sometimes, there are things you keep hearing people say, but when you really think about it, they don’t really make sense.

  • In A Note on Things That We Cannot Understand, I talk about how people appeal to the idea that we have to accept that there are some things that we cannot understand… and why, while true enough, this doesn’t do what they want it to do.
  • In Fundamentalist on Others’ Behalf, I note how people rather absurdly complain when their ideological opponents are being too reasonable.
  • The Mythical Animal notes that people often have an automatic way of talking about what non-human animals are like… when they really mean to say something about humans and have little real knowledge to justify what they’re saying about all the other species in a huge blanket statement.
  • In Then why is it called “feminism”? (Like you don’t know.), I show that, quite aside from the fact that there’s nothing wrong with the name “feminism” in the final analysis, those asking why it refers to women if it’s about equality do already know why it’s thought appropriate — if only they thought straight instead of looking for ways to attack.
  • Finally, in These days, I talk about the minor but weird and ubiquitous phenomenon where people seem to automatically assume that anything that they observe now must be a new thing, even though they have absolutely no evidence about the past and the past may not even be at issue.

I haven’t written so many reviews, but here are a few I could highlight:

Some interesting stuff falls outside these rough categories, but that’s enough of a sample for now. I hope you’ll find some of these interesting.

Review: Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)

christmas-carol-2009

Wild and wacky action starring Ebenezer Scrooge. Because that makes sense.

I happened to watch the 3D animated adaptation of Dickens’s A Christmas Carol by Disney, so here are a few observations about that.

This story is so well known it’s been adapted even by Disney multiple times. But if someone doesn’t know: it’s about the miserly and misanthropic old man Ebenezer Scrooge and how he’s transformed after being visited by four ghosts on the night before Christmas. In this case, Scrooge among others is played by Jim Carrey. It sounds like an odd choice, but whatever works is all right, and it does work. The voice acting is good. The animation is, too. The film was nice to look at, although I wasn’t wowed enough to buy all the showy antics.

The story and scenes follow the original very closely — and the dialogue even more so, almost word for word much of the time. It’s an interesting choice, and it’s fun to hear good actors make that kind of dialogue with the long sentences sound almost natural. There are some subtle changes to the dialogue to make it more understandable, but even after that, some of it can sound a little cryptic, as in the case of the Ghost of Christmas Present. In any case, a lot of the small adjustments to the original dialogue and scenes are actually an improvement over the Dickens story, condensing it and making it run more smoothly. But then there are the other kind of adjustments…

The biggest problem with the movie is that it tries to be funny. This starts right off with the “Marley’s ghost” scene, which I found to be awkward and unenjoyable — too oppressive to be funny but with too much fooling around to be anything else, either. Looking back, this was probably the worst scene, so it does get better. The rest of the time, it just feels like there are pointless little additions. Goofing around in a modern manner doesn’t seem to fit the story, perhaps because the rest of it is so close to the original. (It’s not like Mickey’s Christmas Carol where the ghost of Marley was funny — because he was Goofy.) Overlapping the attempted humour, there’s gratuitous “action” that seems inappropriate or pointless, like mostly realistic looking people suddenly making unrealistic acrobatic moves, and Scrooge’s visions having added high-speed flying or chases. The latter aren’t entirely out of place because the visions are supposed to be harrowing, but they don’t add anything either and aren’t particularly funny. In fact, I suspect they’re in no small part filler to stretch the story to movie length. About the only really funny part was in the end when Scrooge was high on Christmas, and one can see why — that part was supposed to go like that.

In the end, I did enjoy the movie, but not as a comedy. I watched it as a close, well animated, well acted adaptation of the original with some pointless and mildly irritating additions. I have to give it a low score for being an unfunny comedy, but I wouldn’t recommend against watching it if you’re interested. Everything else besides the few glaring bad things is good.

Rating: 2.5/5

Review: What Does a Martian Look Like? by Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart

what-does-a-martian-look-likeCreatures… that are born pregnant; with twenty different sexes; that eat their own children; that can survive without water for a quarter of a billion years. Absurd? Not at all.

These are creatures alive on planet Earth. And they show us just how different alien life could be from anything we know.

What does a Martian Look Like? The Science of Extraterrestrial Life (also known in other editions as Evolving the Alien) sets out to do something seemingly impossible: to scientifically describe something we have never seen. The question it asks is what we can know about extraterrestrial life. Of course, we have never found any of that. And yet, Jack Cohen and Ian Stewart also argue against imagining it will be just like life on Earth. Continue reading