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RedShift Candidate | joined 31 August 2005 | 23 posts


More about Erikson books... posted 31 August 2005 in Off-Topic DiscussionMore about Erikson books... by RedShift, Candidate

I'm fairly sure there were some printing errors in there somewhere, and Erikson did actually comment on it. Unfortunately, I'm not sure where, or even if it was the same issue, but if someone wants to have a look through his forums... view post


Do you believe a God exists? posted 31 August 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionDo you believe a God exists? by RedShift, Candidate

Personally, I view myself as either agnostic or Christian-in-waiting. That is to say, I don't get faith.
Having been raised a Christian, I'm pretty familiar with the Bible, and I like Chrisitianity. I just don't happen to believe it. I don't understand how people can truly believe in something that have no real proof of, nothing at all, and can still tell you that they know that Christ died for them. If God is up there (and for some reason I have an irrational belief that there is some form of deity around somewhere, possibly due to my upbringing) then He knows exactly what will inspire that strange thing called faith in me, and I'm happy to wait for it. Sooner would be nice, but until then I can get along trying to be a good person, and if the occasional prayer helps me feel a bit stronger in the face of temptation, so much the better.

As for Christianity in general, I don't trust the Bible that much, or, for that matter, anyone who does. I believe Genesis is metaphorical. The scientific view of the world makes to much sense not to be true, and Genesis works just as well as a metaphor. Besides, I very much doubt that Moses could have comprehended the theory of evolution, had God tried to convey it to him. The Bible (assuming it is what it says it is) is the Word of God passed on through man, and is thus fallible. Often prejudiced men. I refuse to believe that God will damn everyone who led a fundamentally good life but just ticked the wrong box on the form, as it were. And the constant promises of reward in heaven smack more of man than of the divine. Is the desire for a reward in heaven a good reason to follow a religion? Enlightened acceptance of its moral precepts or a mystical experience and love of its God, yes. Greed (which is effectively what it is), no. Back to the metaphorical nature of much of the Bible, of course people can complain, "If you say that Genesis is metaphorical, then surely you can start saying that about the rest!" Hell yeah. Take most of the time periods, for example. Forty days is taken, even by the most serious Bible scholars, to just be a stand-in for a long time, and three days pops up too much to be literal. The problem I have is with people who feel unable to think that the Bible could be wrong even in the tiniest sense, and that science must always give way to religion. People like that who are unable to take a logical look at their religious beliefs (and perhaps *gasp* even doubt a little) are moral invertebrates and shouldn't be allowed out without adult supervision <!-- s:evil: --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_evil.gif" alt=":evil:" title="Evil or Very Mad" /><!-- s:evil: -->

Doubt, I feel, is a keystone in this matter. The ability to doubt says that you are a reasoning human being, no matter how strong your mystical (and I don't mean that word in a degoratory way, I have great respect for reasonable mysticism) side is. Someone earlier asked why God would create humans if he knew we would betray him. To be quite frank, would you want to be worshipped and be loved by a bunch of people who were completely innocent? Had no knowledge? Trusted you almost blindly? I (taking the great presumption of imagining I was God) would far prefer the love of a people who had seen all the temptations of the world and still turned to God. So perhaps suffering is necessary for our own spiritual growth.

Throughout all this, I am always reassured by the fact (or belief) that if there is a God, he will understand what we go through, whether because he became human in Christ, or because he encompasses the universe. If there is no God, then I will still die content in the belief that I have lived a life that has contributed to the world and that if there is ever a reckoning, I will be able to stand up and say, "I tried, and I am merely human."

That turned into more of a ramble than I expected...

EDIT: Just wanted to note that I don't really want to comment that much on spirituality and mysticism because, frankly, I can't experience it myself, so I'm not really qualified. view post


The problem of evil posted 31 August 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionThe problem of evil by RedShift, Candidate

Time to join Regulus on the post-reviving bandwagon. This forum just has too many interesting topics lying around!

As far as good and evil go, everyone seems to agree that it's very hard to define them. But there rarely (not never, but rarely) seems to be a dispute over whether something is good or evil. Now, I don't know enough about whatever studies have been conducted on this to know whether this is the case, but I do wonder... has anyone ever raised a human being who has no sense of good or evil, and who isn't brain damaged or otherwise handicapped. A person who would appear normal in every sense except for a lack of morality? I wouldn't be surprised if they had, but if not, that implies that a knowledge of good and evil is intrinsic to humanity. If that is the case (and I'm out on a big limb of ifs here), then I think the most interesting experiment I can possibly think of would be the simple act of asking another intelligent species (created by us or naturally occurring) whether they had a sense of good and evil.

Basically, is some sense of good and evil intrinsic to consciousness, or just humanity, or just an effect of culture and upbringing?

On the subject of philosophy, I agree that it is a very subjective subject, but we are very subjective people, so I would think that our subjective answers hold some truth for our subjective selves. Perhaps there is an underlying truth beneath the subjectivity, I don't know. view post


Favorite books/series posted 31 August 2005 in Literature DiscussionFavorite books/series by RedShift, Candidate

Erikson. Just read it. He gives me the shivery feeling I get when reading some of the Bakker/White Lord dialogue in the Q&amp;A forum... that guy has plans. view post


Best Kick-in-the-Nuts' EVER!!! posted 31 August 2005 in Literature DiscussionBest Kick-in-the-Nuts' EVER!!! by RedShift, Candidate

I just want to agree totally with Aesmael in that the sad thing about the Dark Tower was that I really wanted to read the follow up series... Of course, this way, it gets left to your imagination.

I think I should look into Tigana... view post


Do you believe a God exists? posted 01 September 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionDo you believe a God exists? by RedShift, Candidate

I suppose you could class science and religion as "two sides of the same coin", in that they both really rely on faith. For all our experimentation, we still can't state things as facts, truly. All we can say is that until this moment, everything has always obeyed the law of gravity. That dosen't mean it exists. It could just be an immense coincidence. It could be God playing a massive practical joke on us.
That's how I view that, but I thin you were trying to say something different, and I just want to question whether, as you said, we cannot hope to understand the universe (by understand I do not mean be able to comprehend its entire state at any one time). Vast amounts of complexity can result from very simple rules, like in the game Go, for example. Lots of complexity and strategy, but you can "understand" the basis of it very easily. view post


Other authors you enjoy posted 04 September 2005 in Author Q &amp; AOther authors you enjoy by RedShift, Candidate

As far as Neal Stephenson goes, I thought Snow Crash and the Diamond Age were excellent, the Cryptonomicon was alright, although I didn't really engage with it properly, probably for the same reason that I didn't really like Quicksilver: there dosen't seem to be much direction to the book. The Cryptonomicon did have that, it just wasn't as obvious as it often is, and I didn't really pick it up for too long, just getting lost in Stephenson's wonderful description and discursive diatrabes. Quicksilver, however, has no direction at all that I can see, it's just lots of description and what seems to be an attempt to get his characters involved in every important historical event of the time. I finished the book (barely) and just wondered what the point was...

I don't mind Brooks and Jordan, really. There are some characters and they go on an adventure and there's some cool magic every so often. Viscerally enjoyable. I don't find that I read a book and think "That was awful", but instead I identify that sort of book because I don't think "That was great" (or for that matter, had any remarkable features). That is probably why I haven't read anything recently by any of those authors, as opposed to, for example, Bujold, who performs the same function of "lite" scifi and fantasy, but I think most of her books are really excellent.

Anyway, there's my slightly oversized 0.02$. view post


Things I will not accept in an argument posted 06 September 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionThings I will not accept in an argument by RedShift, Candidate

What really irks me is people who aren't in a discussion to learn other people's views and possibly amend their own, but only to air their beliefs in which they have complete certainty. What's the point of arguing with someone who already "knows" the answer?

The other thing that annoys me is the English language (well, not specifically English). I just find it hard to communicate ideas properly, especially obscure ones, and especially philosophy. I want telepathy, dammit. view post


Things I will not accept in an argument posted 07 September 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionThings I will not accept in an argument by RedShift, Candidate

Do you think in words?

I have been told some people do, but personally I don't, except when I want to clarify and pin down something in my mind. Then I tend to think it out in words, but most of the time I, and I think most people, think in concepts and ideas.

Really, if you thought in words, then you would be unable to think something you didn't have a word for (and you wouldn't have thought at all until you learned to speak, and how could you do that without thinking?), and I think we can dismiss that possibility.

I think my problem with the English language is more of a personal one. Still, have you never felt difficulty conveying an idea to someone? A feeling that your words aren't reallly saying what you want to say? And I'm sure we've all been in arguments where people (especially teachers) just don't quite understand your point, and end up trying to answer a different one, or just getting confused. Discussion would be a lot easier if you could just communicate the concept itself.

Of course most of this is just IMHO.

EDIT: With the whole telepathy thing, you might then be able to communicate your entire understanding of something. Especially in maths, I find that trying to explain something complicated is exceptionally hard without drawings, and even then can be difficult, even though it can seem very simple once you understand it. view post


Things I will not accept in an argument posted 08 September 2005 in Philosophy DiscussionThings I will not accept in an argument by RedShift, Candidate

I agree when you say that you often express thoughts to yourself in English, but I question the assumption that you do it all the time. I find that I do that if I want to hammer something out in my mind, get it truly pinned down, but most of the time, you don't need to do that. For example, imagine you're sitting down, reading, but you're slightly uncomfortable. Do you think to yourself (in words), "I'm slightly uncomfortable, let's try shifting in this way to see if it's better"? Or perhaps, "I'm going to turn the page now". At the very basic level of body control, there is no way you can be thinking it all out in words, and I think that applies to higher functions too. I usually notice when I'm thinking in words because it's almost laborious, as I'm trying to fix down exactly what I mean in words. That suggests to me that all the quick thoughts cannot really be conveyed in words. In fact, going back to the point of how difficult it can be to express exactly what you mean with language: how then can you have the thought with any ease in the first place. If I think in words, then I will never have any difficulty expressing myself to others, because all I have to do is vocalise my thoughts. I don't think anyone has it that easy.

As for not being able to comprehend something you can't describe in words, I'm going to withold judgement on that, but I think the more pertinent point is whether or not you can comprehend something before you have put it in words. I believe you can.

Look at language. If you see a flower, then you know (assuming you can speak) that that is a "flower". The word "flower" is not inherently linked to that object, it is merely a label. Most of language (i.e. not really grammar) is like this: applying labels to what we already know so we can convey them to others. This in itself implies that there must be a thought that is independant of the label, that exists to be labeled, that exists without language. The problem with communication occurs because the labels are not specific enough. "Flower" (leaving aside the fact that it can include all types of flowers) does not contain all the information you get from the thought "flower", information about its colour, texture etc. Thus it can have a slightly different meaning to someone else than to you, and misunderstandings can arise. Thought cannot be (or at least, has not yet been) broken down into its components, from which it can be reconstructed by another person exactly as you thought it. Besides, such transfer would be impractical without some form of telepathy, like trying to tell a high-resolution image to someone in binary. Until that happens, we're going to be stuck with the inadequate labels of language and true communication will be difficult. Nonetheless, its a hell of a lot better than nothing.

I think I've made all the points I wanted to, but I got a bit carried away there, so I might have forgotten something. view post


Favorite books/series posted 25 September 2005 in Literature DiscussionFavorite books/series by RedShift, Candidate

I second the Dark Tower books, but be warned, it's going to hurt. Personally, most of my impression of the Dark Tower is in my head... the way it should have (perhaps could have) been. Poor old King. I think his problem is that he's so good at building up suspense and anticipation that there was nothing he could have done to end it properly. Of course, even then, the last two books could have been a bit better...

On the other hand, the Dark Tower is going to haunt me for a long, long time. view post


Was Cnauir gay? posted 13 December 2005 in The Thousandfold ThoughtWas Cnauir gay? by RedShift, Candidate

I didn't think Cnaiur was gay. I thought the whole point of his rage when he gets called "faggot" was because he didn't actually sleep with Moenghus, but I'm not sure about that. view post


What book or book series reminds you most of PON posted 24 January 2006 in Off-Topic DiscussionWhat book or book series reminds you most of PON by RedShift, Candidate

I'm surprised by the comparison to Neverness. While I can see the parallels, personally I think they're quite different books. Neverness has a much more lyrical feel than the PoN.. but to be honest I can't really say more than that. It just feels different to me. view post


Favorite books/series posted 27 January 2006 in Literature DiscussionFavorite books/series by RedShift, Candidate

Ricardo Pinto is one of my favourite authors. I can't wait for the next book to come out... view post


What book or book series reminds you most of PON posted 29 January 2006 in Off-Topic DiscussionWhat book or book series reminds you most of PON by RedShift, Candidate

I can't think of two more opposed concepts than the Dunyain's idea of controlling everything and Mallory's original idea of ahimsa (Sorry if that's the wrong word, I haven't read the book for ages...). view post


What book or book series reminds you most of PON posted 30 January 2006 in Off-Topic DiscussionWhat book or book series reminds you most of PON by RedShift, Candidate

Ah. Fair point. I concede.

<!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> view post


Any Wolfe fans? posted 20 February 2006 in Literature DiscussionAny Wolfe fans? by RedShift, Candidate

I love Wolfe. Wonderful writer, and a refreshing change from much of the genre. I really need to reread the Book of the New Sun one of these days... view post


Worldhorn &amp; Heron Spear posted 21 February 2006 in Author Q &amp; AWorldhorn &amp; Heron Spear by RedShift, Candidate

Does noone else see "weapon of light" and think laser? view post


Worldhorn &amp; Heron Spear posted 05 March 2006 in Author Q &amp; AWorldhorn &amp; Heron Spear by RedShift, Candidate

I just see it as a laser thingamajig with that heron-neck wiggle in it. Fairly unique shape for a "spear". view post


The Bonehunters and Steven Erikson posted 16 April 2006 in Literature DiscussionThe Bonehunters and Steven Erikson by RedShift, Candidate

I enjoyed it; Erikson does not disappoint. I think there's a lot in there that you are pretty much only going to pick up if you've just read the rest of the series; I'd re-read most of it a couple of months ago and I still felt things going over my head. It begins a bit slowly, but it definitely grabs you when you get to Y'Ghatan. I will say no more <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) --> If you're interested in trying to figure out what's going on, I suggest you take a gander at Erikson's forums <!-- m --><a class="postlink" href="http://www.malazanempire.com/forums/index.php">http://www.malazanempire.com/forums/index.php</a><!-- m --> view post


The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (first series) posted 22 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionThe Chronicles of Thomas Covenant (first series) by RedShift, Candidate

I second the recommendation for the Gap. It is truely incredible. My favourite is possibly the first book, which, although short, is just a perfect miniature... view post


Disappointed... posted 29 June 2006 in Literature DiscussionDisappointed... by RedShift, Candidate

The simple fact is that King is a master of creating suspense. I was so worked up for those books that I was dreaming about them for weeks, and they still have a little place in my heart, but honestly, what could he do? I have no idea how he could have finished them in a truly satisfying way. The current ending works, it fits with what's happened, the definite air of imperfection that the series has (despite constantly kicking ass), and is a mature admission by King that he simply isn't the man to write it properly. That's what gives it the hallmark of a truly great series: the story has a life of its own. We know that's not how the story ends, but we don't know how it does. The story we really want to read is the Dark Tower II (or possibly III or IV), and you can get an impression of that from the series. It's not perfect (nor indeed is the rest of King's Dark Tower work: see the part where he has to actually say that Insomnia (or whatever it's called) is not relevant), as Roland is not perfect (and IMHO that's why the ending really does work, because it applies to the series as well as to Roland), but it's close enough that we get an idea of how it should be. It's a little bit sad that we'll never really know how it ends, but the books still rate as one of my favourite series of all time. view post


Favorite books/series posted 09 July 2006 in Literature DiscussionFavorite books/series by RedShift, Candidate

Bujold=yes <!-- s:) --><img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_smile.gif" alt=":)" title="Smile" /><!-- s:) -->

Her science fiction is marvellous. It's possibly the best light read in any genre I've ever come across, and her fantasy is just plain satisfying. view post


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