The Thinker

Backtalk, Part 1

Perhaps one of the reasons I get so few comments is because I rarely reply to them. It’s either that or that most of my topics are not perceived as very interesting by the public. I often get comments on posts I made years earlier. I think I hit some sort of record last week when I received a comment for a post I made in December 2002, when my blog was new. I find it hard to comment on something I wrote many years ago. When I pick a topic, I give it my all, and then generally purge it from my brain.

I need to reply to your comments but given that some of them are for posts made so far in the past and they are so scattered across topics, at least for a while I will take comments sequentially, starting with the most recent comments. To expose my comments, I created a new comment listing tool that allows you to see comments chronologically, either going forward in time or back in time. Periodically I will review comments, in some cases left many years ago.

  • To Kyrsten Bean on my 2002 post, Intimations of Immortality: Kyrsten, I still get déjà vu from time to time, but less frequently than I used to. Every time it happens, it feels less novel. I read recently that we always live in the past because what we perceive never happens instantly but instead has to filter through the brain to give it meaning. The brain is also always multitasking. Some part of your brain lives in the present, some part is always anticipating the future, and some part is remembering the past. The experience of déjà vu might come from the future part of our brain drawing and filing imaginary scenarios. When a future projection just happens to occur in the present, this may trigger the phenomenon. While we like to think we live in reality, when we dream we are wholly absorbed in a complete virtual reality where the laws of time and space are easily transgressed. It may be that it is our ability to create a virtual world through sleep that feeds our feelings of immortality. Or it could be more than that. Dying could simply be the surrender of a physical life for the choice of the soul/spirit to return to a completely virtual life. There we could stay until we find an interesting enough reason to invest our time and energy to experience life inside of a new body. After all, if your soul can slip up and down the time stream, it can anticipate a good match based on whatever experiences your soul needs.
  • To Harry Potter on my recent post, A Primer on Restroom Etiquette: we live in an environment that is constantly swarming with microbial life, so a certain amount of risk is inevitable. Certainly restrooms get more than their share of nasty bacteria and viruses, but many of them are at least cleaned regularly with industrial strength disinfectants. Some caution is in order when using restrooms, but I don’t share your sense of paranoia. Urinals can be flushed using your elbow instead of your hand, or you can grab a paper towel to avoid touching it directly. Unless the plumbing is under repair or a restroom is out of soap or paper towels, other than laziness there is never an excuse for not flushing or washing your hands. Many restrooms now have faucets that detect the presence of a hand and jet water. I prefer these restrooms because touching faucet handles is likely an easy place to pick up and transmit a nasty germ.
  • To Socratus, who used my Boldly exploring the HD Radio Universe post to discuss the mathematical underpinnings of the principle of Occam’s Razor: I excelled in math and even took two calculus courses, but frankly I cannot follow your math or logic. I’m glad it makes sense to you.
  • To suicide blonde on my post Who Wants to be a Millionaire: I learned recently that having a net worth of a million dollars or more is no big deal. One in fifteen Americans fall into this bracket, which explains why I hardly feel rich. If it makes you feel any better, stocks slipped a bit recently so for the moment I am probably not a millionaire. It sure is not as exciting as being on the game show.
  • To George Coventry on my post If Aubrey fought Hornblower, who would win? I read Hornblower as a teen and found it a reasonably challenging read as I had never been on a sailing ship. I strongly suspect if I had started with the Aubrey-Maturin book instead, I would have never finished the first book, as I would not have had patience. About 10% of the book consists of confusing nautical terms that a landlubber needs a specialized nautical dictionary to understand. What I really craved as a teen in a good sea novel was adventure and Hornblower delivered with a character I could easily relate to. However, if I had spent my formative years sailing from time to time and had picked up much of the lingo, I might well share your feelings that O’Brien’s books are the better set.
  • To Norm on my post Requiem for a Feline: The more time I spend with pets the more I feel guilty for being a carnivore. We are surrounded by sentient beings, some more closely aligned with humans than others. Cats and dogs come very close. Cats are every bit as intelligent as humans, but have chosen to optimize their intelligence in different ways. I was blessed to have my cat Sprite for so many years and now, five years later, I am blessed to have my cat Arthur as well. If Arthur did not have the trauma of being a stray as a young cat, he would come close to matching my beloved Sprite. My condolences on your loss. I can absolutely empathize.
  • To left on my post Infoworld peers ten years out into the technology future: The prediction for shock #5 (Smartphones) are about halfway to being fulfilled, not bad a mere year and a half later. So I’ll probably be proven wrong on that prediction. Shock #7 (perfect image recognition) probably won’t quite get there, but this technology is maturing quickly. A 95% confidence level is probably doable now within ten years. For now, I figure I’m batting .800.

I’ll comment on my next 20 comments in future posts. Thanks for the comments and sorry about the belated replies.


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