An Uncommon Cold

Out of the Cave

Returning from my caving trip in the Brecon Beacons, I was struck down with one of the worst colds of my recent years. (Incidentally, I finally found Porth yr Ogof, the cave my father took me into as a child, and possibly the most hidden spelunking site in Wales). I am at the moment recovering from the latter stages of the virus; the worst of the symptoms have passed.

I do not begrudge colds, however. It seems to me ever more likely that viruses have been one of the chief sources of genetic novelty for all life - I wrote about this before, some older hands might remember. It's actually an interesting hypothesis worthy of investigation, but it was dismissed out of hand because I was mistaken for a Creationist. Hands up if you've ever heard a Creationist propose a mechanism for genetic novelty... Anyone? I defend Creationists from time to time because they appear to need support from someone, and I stand by my assertion that salient criticisms of evolution (vital to improvement of any scientific endeavour) more commonly originate from Creationists than from elsewhere. Perhaps Creationists are just more motivated to look. For the record, I feel Creationists have tragically misunderstood the Bible, but I fully support their freedom to do so.

Skeksis All this leads to my next post, which is the piece on Skeptics I've been meaning to compose for a while. Note, in the UK we usually write 'sceptic', but I accept the US spelling as a usefully distinct proper noun. I find it aethetically pleasing that it looks a bit like 'Skeksis'. I have struggled to approach anything close to neutrality in this post. I probably failed. Still, it's a big step for me, trying to write about Skeptics as a valuable part of culture.

Those of you here for posts about games have probably not read this far, but I suspect next week will see more ramblings in this area.

Oh, and I understand that when I go back to work today the Beta build of Play with Fire will be waiting for me... I'm greatly looking forward to seeing it!

Have fun!


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I don't know what role viral information had in genetic novelty, I suspect a faintly traceable but integral one. I do believe, however, that viral information can do a great deal for gameplay novelty, as you well know.

The english pronunciation of "sceptic" reminds me of the term for a tank that holds feces and sewage.

(Raises hand)

I've heard several distinct mechanisms for genetic novelty proposed by my wife, a literalist Christian and hence devout creationist. She's perfectly happy with mutation via environmental factors such as radiation; she's fine with evolutionary mechanisms that lead to survival of the fittest creatures for their environment, and with co-evolution; she doesn't believe in speciation, because we've never observed such an event.

Patrick: 'sceptic' and 'skeptic' are pronounced the same, but I take your point. :) I think the skeksis are cute, anyway. :D

Peter: Fascinating! What an awesomely varied relationship you must have between your belief system and your wife's! What a wonderfully adaptable species we are.

"What an awesomely varied relationship you must have between your belief system and your wife's!"

Um. That's one way of describing it.

It's interesting, as we respect each other's right to our beliefs (but not necessarily to actions based on our *expression* of those beliefs, in areas such as tithing from household income rather than individual income). The line between acceptable and unacceptable behaviour can be hard to find, and necessarily fluid - a microcosm of belief systems in the large butting up against each other, I suspect.

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