I haven’t been posting here for a bit. This is because I have been making a lot of Youtube videos. Here is some of what I’ve been up to.
My Original Works
How Rational Are You?
I have started a series of Youtube videos about rationality based on Steven Pinker’s book Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters (see my review of the book here). The videos explain what rationality is, how to use it correctly, and how it goes wrong.
The Illiberal Woke Left vs The Illiberal Integralist Right
I have spoken on this blog numerous times about both the illiberal woke left and the illiberal integralist right. Both sides critique liberalism (used in the classical sense, not in the sense of the U.S. left). Some of these critiques are valid. Indeed, I am not above critiquing liberalism. My position, however, is that although liberalism is not good, it is the least bad of the available options. Now, though, the illiberal right is becoming the friend of the center left in the enemy of my enemy sort of way.
Schizoid Personality Disorder
Schizoid Personality Disorder isn’t a well-known personality disorder. This is likely because most people who have it, true to the nature of the personality disorder, are not ones to be very public about it, and often don’t even really view it as negatively impacting their lives (so long as people just leave them alone). I’ve been diagnosed with Schizoid Personality Disorder. It negatively impacts me insofar as, in (attempting to) be an author, I’m extremely bad at marketing myself. Here I’m going to just sort of stream-of-consciousness write about Schizoid Personality Disorder – or, at least, my experience with it.
Nutrition and Metabolism Videos on Youtube
I’ve recorded and uploaded some videos covering the biochemistry of nutrition and metabolism. I will be continuing to add more videos on the subject, covering many areas related to nutrition and metabolism.
My pedagogical strategy is to start with a quick overview of general chemistry concepts that will be helpful for the biochemistry to come. I then introduce the various nutrients of interest – carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids and proteins, vitamins, and minerals – before then following these molecules through digestion, absorption, and metabolism.
You can find the playlist here:
My Youtube channel is here:
Music, Video Games, and Murder
Any U.S. readers will be aware of this, but for those outside the U.S. who aren’t, there were two independent mass shooting incidents in El Paso, Texas and Dayton, Ohio over the weekend. As per usual, both immediately became political. Soon after political blame games, the other usual suspects are trotted out – music and video games.
Depression and Lethargy
I suffer from a menagerie of psychological issues. Depression tends to be the principle culprit, but as I’ve mentioned before, I am a recovering alcoholic and I also have Schizoid Personality Disorder.
Mesh Networks: Alternatives to the Internet?
Mesh networks figure extensively in my Incarnate series. They’re used by the forty-eights – and others – as a way to run parallel ‘internets’ so as not to be tracked on the original internet. But mesh networks are not all science fiction – they’re actually being used in the real world.
Augmented Reality: Not Science Fiction
Augmented Reality (AR) is a technology that features heavily in my Incarnate novel series. This technology isn’t just a science fiction creation, though. Just like in my story, it’s becoming more and more a part of our lives and only promises to become a bigger part in the near future.
Character Concept Art from Incarnate: Essence
Four main characters from Incarnate: Essence, my new book coming out on April 18 (Kindle pre-orders available now). See the whole article for enlarged images plus character bios for all four characters. Spoiler alerts for anyone who hasn’t read Incarnate: Existence – the first book in the series – yet.
Alcoholic Depressed Schizoid
I haven’t often talked about myself on this blog. That is, when I bother to post anything at all. Maybe this is strange, since that is what personal blogs are meant for, aren’t they? I’m just not one to talk about myself. That’s probably why I don’t post often and why I have an even harder time “marketing” myself – my blog, my novel, etc. I just never found myself to be all that interesting of a topic, unless I could talk about myself in some conceptual or theoretical sense – like when I got really into personality theory a little over a decade ago (I’m an INTP by the way, for people who care about such things.
Well, perhaps because I’m in a strange mood, having had my city completely shutdown due to this polar vortex bringing subzero temperatures and epic piles of snow, I thought I would maybe talk (confess?) about myself a little.
What drives people to do the things they do? I often wonder about this, because I have issues with motivation. I have a difficult time getting motivated to do things, even things I know I will enjoy one I begin them. Other people seem to have a much easier time getting motivated to do things. Some people are even so motivated that they can’t not be doing something. For me, I can waste days, even weeks, of time without ever feeling any strong impetus to be productive. Sure, I’ll internally chastise myself for having not done anything, but this rarely translates into future action. Thus, a spiral of depression begins, where I do nothing, feel bad about doing nothing, and that just makes me feel even less motivated. This is why my posts in this blog are so sporadic.
For the past few months, I have been in one of these spirals. I wasted a lot of time playing Diablo 3, attempting not to think about anything. It’s only been in the last week or so that I have begun peeking my head out of this mental-emotional trough, attempting to pump some motivation and inspiration back into myself. It has been difficult to do. I have the competing voices of depression and inspiration debating in my mind, the former telling me that it will be easier to continue doing nothing and that none of it matters anyway, the latter telling me that I will be happier in the long run if do those things that challenge me intellectually and creatively.
I’m hoping to make more blog posts – as well do the other things I enjoy – from now on. I hope that voice of depression doesn’t keep winning the debate.
100 Years of War
I recently finished listening to Dan Carlin’s sixth and final episode of his amazing Hardcore History series “Blueprint for Armageddon” about World War I. It’s not hyperbolic to say that this six part series, totaling almost 24 hours worth of listening at almost two years in the making, is a masterpiece, and I can’t recommend it enough – and right now it’s still available to listen to for free. Not only is it a masterpiece because it was so well done, but also because World War I is still affecting our lives today more than most people realize.
Update and Snippet
To anyone who reads this, I’ll have more time to write various blog entries in a few days. It’s finals week, so I’m a little preoccupied. In the meantime, enjoy this snippet from the prologue of my novel “Incarnate: Existence” available on Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/kydxven
Warning: graphic content.
“You must stay under the covers,” my father said. “They mustn’t find you.”
The fear in his usually stern voice caused my mother to break into tears as she hugged me close, the grip of her arms almost painful. I didn’t know if what was happening was another one of my panic attacks bringing out old memories or if it was actually happening. It had been just two lifetimes ago that the same Mongol horde had sacked Zhongdu. The memory of the carnage they rained down on us was still fresh. The wailing. The panic. A horror that would snuff out the sanity of any mortal being. I can vividly remember the blade of their axe cutting through my neck. Those last horrifying seconds of consciousness after my head is decapitated, unable to breathe or speak or move.
Now they had found me again in Baghdad.
It felt like déjà vu. Usually bustling streets stood silent, the entire city holding its breath, awaiting its fate. My father and two brothers paced about the house holding daggers. The command had come three days prior not to fight back against them if we hoped to keep our lives, but word of what the horde had done to previous cities made it difficult to believe.
“Father,” I said over my mother’s crying.
“Quiet Taibah,” he said.
“If you love us, you will kill us quickly now,” I said,
My mother moaned with despair. My brothers exchanged nervous glances.
“Don’t say that,” my father said. “Allah will watch over us.”
“I was there,” I said, “when they slaughtered the Jin dynasty,” the last words coming out sounding funny in our language.
“Don’t speak of such things,” my father said. “You should pray for our lives.”
“They will not allow us to live,” I said. “This city will be painted with our blood soon. They will take more than your lives. They will cut down everything you hold dear.”
My father stood looking at me, trying to remain abstinent at my words, but he knew what I was saying was true. We sat in silence for a moment, a barely audible din in the distance. My mother’s crying became weak sobs as we waited, the sun lowering in the sky. A quiet before a storm.
“Why do they wait?” one of my brothers asked.
“It’s useless to question the ways of the hordes of hell,” my father said, putting his back against the wall and sliding down to the floor, burying his face in his hands.
“The massacre of an entire population is a difficult feat,” I said. “They confer with the Caliph about the population so they can decide how many of us each rider must execute.”
This made my mother begin crying loudly again. My father glowered angrily at me. I had no need to keep the pretense of being his daughter anymore. I pushed my mother away, leaving her to cry into her own hands, and stood up from the bed.
“If you don’t have the courage to do it,” I said, holding my hand out, “then let me end our suffering quickly.”
He looked at the dagger in his hand then back to me, furrowing his brows in anger.
“The presence of those demons has affected you,” he said, gripping the dagger tight.
“Then end my suffering and remove my demonic presence for your house,” I said as I held up my head and pointed at my throat.
“You don’t talk to me that way!” he said, climbing back to his feet.
I stepped toward him, still holding my head up to reveal my neck. My father raised his free hand, ready to strike me when the noise outside grew quickly. My mother moaned in despair, my brothers looked to my father with panic. The shouts grew near, sending a chill down my spine. The ground shook. People took to the streets, not having anywhere to run but being too scared to stay still. The first riders sped past our house, howling cries of gleeful fury.
The streets became engulfed with riders. The constant roaring tone of tens of thousands of warriors erupted from every direction. The earth trembled as their horses crashed through the city. Suffocating fear ripped through the atmosphere.
“It’s too late,” I said, slowly backing away.
My father grabbed me, carrying me back to the bed in a vain attempt to hide me again. The door flung open, a foreign warrior standing with his bow already drawn, letting loose an arrow at one of my brothers with such force it pinned him to the wall. My brother tried in vain to pull the arrow out as blood trickled down his torso. My other brother lunged for the filthy Mongol warrior with his dagger, but the Mongol dodged him, grabbing his arm and snapping it backwards. My brother let out a scream, dropping the dagger, his arm hanging limply at his side.
More Mongols piled into the room, one ramming a dagger up through my brother’s chin and into his skull. The roaring outside hurt my ears. My father dropped me as the Mongols threw him to the floor. One of them crouched down, grabbing my father’s ear and slicing a knife through it, pulling it off his head and tossing it into a sack. My father screamed as they dragged him outside. I scrambled to my feet, my mother grabbing for me. The floor shuddered. The Mongols tied a rope around my father’s neck and attached it to a rider. He took off, dragging my father kicking down the road as they howled in delight.
Blood smeared the roads. Four doors down a group of Mongols lined my neighbors up, men women and children. I watched as one buried his axe blade in my neighbor Khana’s neck. He wrenched it out and swung again, this time sending her head sailing to the ground. Another group of Mongols rode by, dragging children behind their powerful horses, the ragged bodies naked and bloody beyond recognition.
Nausea gripped me as I fell to my knees, vomiting. The thundering war cries and hammering hooves were disorienting. My mother was grabbing at my clothes, trying to pull me back to some semblance of safety. My vision narrowed, ears ringing, mouth dry, almost losing consciousness.
More hands grabbed me. My mother screamed. The strong Mongol hands won over, lifting me up onto his shoulder. My mother chased out after him. Another warrior grabbed her by the hair and yanked, sending her to the ground as he dragged her toward an execution line.
“Kill me now!” I yelled to my captor in his own tongue. “Please, kill me now!”
This gave him a moment’s pause, but he continued, put me up on his horse and jumped gracefully up. I could smell the grit and feces clinging to his silk clothes. The horse took off down the road, chaos playing out like a festival in hell all around me.
Mounds of books and wagons burned. Piles of heads with ears removed accumulated near execution lines. Rivers of blood flowed down the streets into the canals, pooling in potholes, spraying over the walls. My captor’s horse slipped on some entrails and almost fell over. The pained cries of women and children played like a fugue to the brutal calls of the invaders.
“Where are you taking me?” I yelled in a dreamy voice.
“Curious girl,” he sneered. “You shall be taken as a wife.”
I struggled to throw myself off the horse, but the warrior held me fast. Tears streamed down my cheeks, knowing the fate that awaited me. We rounded a corner and came upon the market place where a group of young women were already tied up and stripped naked, Mongol warriors eating the fruit, joking with one another and violently raping the women.
“Please don’t,” I moaned. “Please, just kill me.”
“The men would not like that,” he laughed, jumping easily from the horse and grabbing me off.
The women screamed as the Mongol warriors crushed them beneath their foul torsos, thrusting savagely into them. I pounded on my captor in vain with tiny fists, but he barely noticed.
“It’ll cost you five ears for this one!” my captor yelled.
The others roared with demonic glee, some holding up the bloody sacks containing the ears of their victims. I was thrown to the ground, my captor grinning down at me. I struggled to catch my breath. His silk clothes were riddled with holes and smudged with dirt. He tore down his pants. I scrambled to my feet and ran past him. He was unable to catch up to me with his pants down. The other Mongols laughed uproariously.
“You won’t have me!” I yelled, jumping on his back and pulling an arrow from the quiver.
He reached back, trying to grab me. I dropped down to my feet, looking at the sharp iron tip of the arrow. He jumped away from me, expecting me to stick the arrow head into his back. Instead, I reeled my hands in front of me, the arrow pointing back, and plunged it with every ounce of strength I could muster into my own throat, feeling the cold iron slice like fire into my flesh.
My eyes widened, the breath stolen from me. I tore the arrow back out, plunging it into my throat again. The roar of the city quieted as I fell the ground, already greasy with fat and blood, my throat letting a geyser of my own add to it.
I wished for all the pain and suffering to end, but my many thousands of lifetimes told me that this would not be possible. I waited for the darkness to take me and my next life to begin.
“Science major gives life to sci-fi novel.”
I was recently featured in my school’s paper The Lanthorn for having my book “Incarnate: Existence” published. You can read the whole thing here: http://www.lanthorn.com/article/2014/12/gv-student-author-publishes-first-novel
“The 600-page text focuses on Marcy Riviera, who is thought to be the world’s only immortal being. The story follows the main character through her attempts at leading a normal life whilst carrying the psychological baggage of her endless instances of reincarnation. Not surprisingly, Harper claims his interest in philosophy played just as big of a role in the creation of the novel as his biochemistry background did.
“While there is science involved in my work, it’s more of a philosophical exploration,” Harper said. “I hope to get people to think on some difficult questions, even if the answers can’t be found. But I also hope that people can find enjoyment in the story.””
Enter the Cynical Philosopher
Who am I and why should you bother reading this?
I am Thomas Harper, burgeoning scientist and independent author. This blog will serve as my echo chamber and as a way to promote my books, as well as books by other authors when, in my infinite wisdom, I deem them acceptable. I tend to wax philosophical quite often as well. Feel free to disagree with me, but try to keep it civil.
Other places you can find me, since by now I’m sure you are just ravenous for the thoughts of such a brilliant and dashing celebrity like myself, are: