Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Criminal Minds at Work: Genetically modified...: According a recent MacLean's article, "Canadians ate 4.5 tonnes of unlabelled GM salmon without knowing it this past year" ... Today on Criminal Minds at Work I look at the law and GMO
Friday, June 1, 2018
I do another reading from my BackTracker series on Pauline Barclay's blog. This time from FATAL ERROR. Listen to it here: Pauline Barclay : We've Decided to do it Again!: I am talking about VLOGs! Author, Eileen Schuh has returned to talk about, Fatal Error, book two in the BackTracker series, in ano...
Friday, May 25, 2018
Suppose I notice that in the morning after a good night’s sleep, I often successfully pass a level in Candy Crush that I had spent hours the day before unsuccessfully trying to complete. Suppose I wonder if sleep somehow has helped me decipher the pattern needed to complete the level. Suppose to test this theory I do an experiment with subjects in a lab where sleep is monitored and with researchers not knowing which test subjects have ‘slept on’ the problem and which one’s haven’t. Suppose that experiment shows that who have slept have a competitive advantage over those who have not—all else being equal.
I therefore decide that sleep does indeed help with learning.
What if I was I was later to find out that those who wrote the Candy Crush game programmed in an algorithm that stipulates if a gamer does not actively play the game for eight or more hours, the game will be made easier once the gamer returns to action and that morning abilities are not dependent on sleep?
What if nothing is as it seems, even when scientifically tested? What if I were to find out the entire cosmos runs on algorithms and that my sense of self-determination is an illusion and that my ability to make choices, plan my life, pursue success rests more on programmed abilities and limitations than on what I perceive as my personal choice and work ethic?
There is a new theory floating around the physics’ world that suggests such might be the case, the Simulation Theory. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/are-we-living-in-a-computer-simulation/
Of course we know that much of our physical identity is programmed by our genes--the colour of our eyes, our gender, our propensity for cancer--but what if our mental and spiritual identities are also programmed in a similar way? In fact, what if the entire cosmos is?
Suppose a bi-racial American woman’s life is programmed so if she does everything correctly, she will marry a British prince?
Or, say a woman’s life is programmed so that if she writes a single book about a Mr. Grey, she will become a popular author, no matter how well or not-so-well that book is written. Whereas another woman is programmed so that no matter how many books she writes, well-written or not, she never will achieve fame or fortune?
The role of chance and choice raises havoc with our understanding of the universe, prompting even Einstein to once declare that certain scientific understandings of the universe could not be true because “God does not play dice with the universe.” (Scientists like to be very rational.)
Take statistics on car accidents, for example. With each accident happening supposedly independently of all others, in an unplanned way, miles apart, how is that the number of accidents forecast to happen over a long weekend, is inevitably close to the number that actually occurs?
Is it because of an algorithm?
Why is it that we can predict that over the long haul, when flipping a coin, 50% of the time it will be heads, and the other 50% it will be tails? Does each flip know what happened before so it can work to even things out? Can each flip see the future and know what it has to be?
Or, is it because some superior being has written an algorithm dictating that with two equally possible outcomes of a repetitive action, half the time the outcome must be one and half the time the other?
Are people who feel content with life, who have found their ‘calling’, simply those who are tuned into the algorithm that is their life?
Are those with difficult lives, who find success hard, who end up homeless, addicted perhaps and on the street, simply those who are programmed to do so? Or are they people who have not yet done what the cosmos has algorithmically determined they must do to attain happiness and/or success?
Do we as people and we as civilizations repeat our past mistakes because that’s what we’re programmed to do? Are those who keep repeating an action hoping for a different result doing so because that’s how they’re designed?
Many physicists, mathematicians and computer programmers think we might be more virtual than we believe.
Exactly how that truth would make a difference in our daily lives or in our understanding of ourselves and our universe, or in our culpability or heroism, is up for discussion.
If we could learn to decipher our personal algorithm as we have deciphered our DNA, could we lead more successful lives? Could we be happier because we’d be doing what we were designed to do, just as we as children may give up efforts and dreams to play in the MBA if we were to discover by DNA analysis that we'll be under 6' tall as adults?
If we knew that according to our programming, we had to first become an actress and move to Toronto, Canada before meeting and marrying our prince, we could do that—or not do it because the alternative is more to our liking. Or, is there an alternative, or are we just destined to be where we are doing what we're doing, moving through what appears to be time toward an inevitable fate?
What we all want to know, though, is exactly who is it that’s doing the programming? And are/were these algorithmic creator/s, programmed by someone else?
Or is it just that today's computer programmers are super self-centered and egotistical along with the physicists they’ve dragged into their Simulation circle? i.e. “We created the Cosmos!!! It was us!!!”
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"We're someone's computer game" is brought to you by DISPASSIONATE LIES, my scifi novella wherein Ladesque is set to unleash a quantum computer on the world. And she will control the power!
Tuesday, April 17, 2018
I was going to get some seasoned authors and critics to help me blog about the literary genre, but it turns out we all got too busy. So I’ll go it on my own.
Literary novels are the novels taught in schools and universities. They are the classics or are on the path to becoming classics. They may or may not make the New York Times best sellers list, but they generally win all the prominent book awards. They are often selected to be read by book clubs.
They are sometimes not all that entertaining, because entertainment is not their prime purpose.
My novels, so far, have been written to entertain the masses. It is my hope that almost anyone who picks up one of the BackTracker novels, or one of my science fiction novellas will read it and enjoy it. I want the main characters to be likable, the plot to be exciting, the beginning to be compelling and the ending to be satisfying.
I want people to learn a bit about themselves, about their world, about science, drugs, gangs...the police. I want people to ponder the plot, talk about the social issues exposed in the stories. Yes, I want to make a difference in people’s lives, in the world, but I want to do that through appealing to many, keeping my message simple, and gently prodding people to consider new ways of thinking and living.
None of that applies to books in the literary genre.
Literary novels are written to appeal to societal leaders. Characters are multidimensional and are often liked by some readers and not others. As in real life, the plot or action is often not very exciting, the major changes and challenges are often occurring within the characters rather than within the plot.
Over and above all that, a literary novel takes liberty with all rules of writing. The climax might come at the beginning of the literary novel, the ending may be in the middle, the prologue at the end. The setting may become a character in itself, a character may in essence, be the plot. Setting, may upon close examination actually be pure emotion while a description of the insignificant might portray the universe.
A literary novel is not told with action and dialogue but with an unremitting stirring of emotions. To meet that end, it is rife with literary devices, hidden from the conscious view of the reader. Rhythm and rhyme, allusion, anaphora and alliteration. Metaphor.
A literary novel manipulates emotion and thought without the readers’ awareness and often without their consent.
A reader who puts down a literary novel, remains emotionally trapped for hours in the warp where the novel has led them...and doesn’t know why.
Literary novels don’t necessarily instigate social change, they just as often rob readers of their will to make changes, because after all, life inevitably leads to death—a common theme in literary novels. There always is a message, though. Often poignant, sometimes futile.
Readers who live the emotional experience of reading a novel in the literary genre are ultimately responsible for how effective the story will be at making things better.
The importance of the literary novel rests not so much on what’s between its covers, but what’s between the ears of the readers who deign to read it.
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Tuesday, April 10, 2018
My work in progress is not going well. I set out to write a novel and ended up with short story. Everything I wanted to say and all that the characters wanted to do has taken far fewer words than planned.
It’s especially distressing as this was to be my first attempt at writing a literary novel, and literary novels are noted for being wordy and detailed. How my literary attempt came up so short, I’m not sure. I am not a short story writer. In fact, I have so much to say and my characters insist on so many adventures, I write not only novels but entire series.
I’m not giving up on my quest to be literary, though. Short stories can become novels. I was introduced to my first one in high school. Flowers for Algernon is an award-winning science fiction short story and subsequent novel written by Daniel Keyes.
I did not find Keyes short story lacking in any way, yet the author very cleverly and not at all redundantly, wove his initial ideas into a wonderful book-length story.
That said, unlike Keyes who published his short story first, I don’t intend on letting this short story escape my hard drive. I want to take my amazing short-story characters and develop them. I want to detail their stories, deepen their emotions, make their problems more convoluted. I want the settings to become powerfully symbolic and the novel’s social message much more profound.
We’ll keep at it!
Next time, I’ll explore what that this novel-in-progress needs in order to be elevated to the “literary” genre.
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Wednesday, April 4, 2018
Pauline Barclay : My Very First Video Blog Interview and it's with E...: Today, I am excited and nervous in equal measure because my first Video Blog Interview is now live! It has been great fun making, yet ...