Introduction to The Passionate Skeptic
The Passionate Skeptic website is hosted by Thor May. The site contains many sections and hundreds of entries. The sections reflect Thor's wide interests in how the world works, as well as his professional training in teaching and linguistics. A few of the sections are active while some others date back to the 1990s. Thor hopes to gradually update the pages to be smart phone friendly, but many of the sections for a long while will be hard to read on small screens. Features on this home page will usually reflect a changing selection of Thor's current activities.
Welcome to the home of an Australian lost in cyberspace. If you are looking at this, the odds are you want to find some information, some stimulation, or in the very least, an agreeable character who thinks just like you. Good luck. Any of that will be accidental.
Make use of whatever you can find. There are numerous sections. Some of it is quite practical, like the material for learning English as a foreign language. A resume and list of publications is also here. Quite a bit of the writing is a tinted window on China and South Korea (as seen by a foreigner). You will find articles on language and linguistics, if that is your thing. There is some poetry and photography. Many articles are highly opinionated commentary which you are welcome to disagree with as furiously as you like.
Dear reader, you are unlikely give a damn about Thor May. That's cool. Why should you? So why is this billboard stuck up in the sky? The original idea was to get some kind of argument going. It almost worked for a while in the 1990s when internet surfers were scratching for something to read electronically, but now with x-million blogs out there all saying 'look at me' that seems like a lost cause.
About 143 million books (as of 2021) seem to have been published since the invention of the (Western) printing press in the 15th Century, a good slice of them still available and most of them better than the blogs. Thus being a "writer" maybe doesn't have quite the same cachet that, say, Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales excited when the hand-written manuscript became available in 1400 for the 2.5 million English speakers on the planet, most of them illiterate.
If the imagined public profile of much 21st Century writing is an illusion then, what drives a writer? Eventually Thor realized what authors (and painters and musicians and engineers...) have always realized - that expressing yourself in some form that endures for a while expands and even begins to define who you are, at least to yourself. Once he falls off the perch, dies, passes on, Thor's thoughts will float around as space junk for a while until the ISP subscription runs out, and then it won't matter any more.
The Passionate Skeptic website itself is long overdue for a revamp. In some form it has been around since the mid-1990s, but it has been a while since I added articles at a rate of one or two a month - in fact, since I felt defined enough by the writing (and probably profiled out of most job offers!), as well as realizing that nobody except a Google search bot was reading the bulk of it... Yeah, that's not a great excuse. I cross my heart (2021) and promise to feed the bots more often.
Of half a million visitors to the site since 2001, not a single one has commented on the character of the author. That's not surprising. By any normal measure of getting rich and famous, or having a respectable career and a house in the suburbs, Thor is an abject failure. Pretty well everyone he knows agrees about this. They will generally concede that he is a good teacher, but that doesn't count for much. His PhD, awarded in 2010 (after walking away from two others in the 1980s and 1990s) came at the ridiculous age of 64. Therefore it was about 30 years too late to be useful for anything personal, certainly not money, and in Australia's famously anti-intellectual culture is more or less an object of derision. It is a shame to be stuck with such handicaps of attitude and achievement, but after a certain age you stop apologizing for being whoever you happen to be. Thor is not a simple man, has never dreamed of walks on the beach with a simple girl, and does not think the world is a simple place. That's life. The single most important thing, by Thor's own figuring, is to have an interesting life, and in those terms things haven't worked out so badly.
(Why the heck would you do that ^_^ ? )
© Thor May 1995-2021