Monthly Archives: June 2013

We Are All Something Agreeable Now

Probably not a Nazi.

Probably not a Nazi.

After raiding the newfound Language Log’s archive for a few minutes, I found this post, on the increasing usage of the “We are all x now” snowclone.

Quoting from a Jeffrey Kluger article in Time:

“This increasingly common trope has an easy, fill-in-the-blank quality to it that allows us to affect a bit of purloined heroism, put it on the credit card of someone else, and feel pretty darned good about ourselves in the bargain,” he writes.

A disturbing variant of this is the “I am x,” or “I am x’s y.” It’s a way of attaching oneself to a tragic event by way of casual tautology:

“I am Syria.”
“I am Boston.”
“I am Adam Lanza’s mother.”
“I am Adam Lanza’s therapist.”
“I am Hitler’s taxidermist.”

But it’s not always employed with lethal, negative events. The LL post links to a post by David Simon, written after Obama’s re-election*. The acrobatic bootlicking he does in the name of collectivism is astounding and confusing:

Regardless of what happens with his second term, Barack Obama’s great victory has already been won: We are all the other now, in some sense. Special interests? That term has no more meaning in the New America. We are all — all of us, every last American, even the whitest of white guys — special interests.

Couldn’t he at least ask my permission before including me?

At what threshold does this random self-identification with people you’ve never met or with inanimate objects become absurd to most people? Because it’s already past that point for me.

* Obama’s re-election (or any Head Bureaucrat’s election/re-election) is lethal (for foreign brown children in the path of drone missiles) and tragic, but I didn’t want to split hairs.

Share this post:

Read These 50 Books Before You Write Your First Fiction Novel



Most of these recommendations come with the territory of “living in a society flush with books.” They are a given, yet I want to assume that, if you want to write a fiction novel, you are out-of-this-world stupid and in need of guidance.

The links are to free copies online where available, otherwise it’s an Amazon link. E-books in reality are inferior to print because, as I’ve said before, they will disappear after the dolphin apocalypse. But for now they are fine.

Your favorite novel isn’t on here because it sucks, but make sure you scroll down to the end of the list before airing a complaint.

The Complete Works of William Shakespeare
The Grapes of Wrath
My Antonia
Winesburg, Ohio
Les Misérables
The House of the Seven Gables
American Gods
The Iliad
The Red Badge of Courage
The Pilgrim’s Progress
The Moviegoer
Lord of the Flies
The Sound and the Fury
Love in the Time of Cholera
The Secret Garden
The Prose Edda
Great Expectations
Crash: A Novel
The Velveteen Rabbit
The Divine Comedy
Pride and Prejudice
Pale Fire
The Satanic Verses
The Canterbury Tales
The Heart of Darkness
Moby Dick
On the Road
The Scarlet Letter
A Tale of Two Cities
Fahrenheit 451
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
The Time Machine
Don Quixote
Crime and Punishment
Paradise Lost
Anna Karenina
The Hobbit
The Great Divorce
A Christmas Carol
The Bhagavad-Gita
To Kill A Mockingbird
Far From the Madding Crowd
Jude the Obscure

As a mandatory bonus, read these non-fiction books. They will give you a sliver-sized sampling of what and how people throughout history have thought, and knowing how people think is a good idea if you’re going to write about them.
The Bible
The Summa Theologica
Why I Am Not a Christian and Other Essays on Religion and Related Subjects
The Complete Works of Ralph Waldo Emerson & Henry David Thoreau
Apology, Crito, and Phaedo of Socrates
The Qu’ran

You’ve all of read those like I told you, and you’ve written your first novel. The bad news is that you’ll have to throw that first manuscript away because it will be nigh unreadable. The good news is that you’ll never write something so horrible again.

This is the best way to get all the kinks out. Now read these 50 books, then go write your real first novel.

The Poetic Edda
The Chronicles of Narnia
Thus Spake Zarathustra
Howards End
Naked Lunch
All Quiet on the Western Front
Absalom, Absalom!
A Prayer for Owen Meany
The Great Gatsby
The Pickwick Papers
Rabbit, Run
Doctor Zhivago
The Stranger
The Invisible Man
Flowers for Algernon
The Dark Knight Returns
H.P. Lovecraft The Complete Collection
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
The Count of Monte Cristo
Tess of the d’Urbervilles
Foucault’s Pendulum
The Hunchback of Notre Dame
The Idiot
A Confederacy of Dunces
The Metamorphosis
Native Son
The Stand
Catcher in the Rye
Animal Farm
The Old Man and the Sea
Gulliver’s Travels
Robinson Crusoe
Stranger in a Strange Land
Bradbury Stories: 100 of His Most Celebrated Tales
Wuthering Heights
Little Women
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Brave New World
The Republic
The Odyssey
War of the Worlds
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
The Trial
The Lord of the Rings
The Man Who Was Thursday

Photo by Bravo_Zulu_.

Share this post:

An Unanswerable Question Rebuffed

Place libertarianism here.

Place libertarianism here.

A bit late in mentioning this, but Tom Woods addressed Slate’s “unanswerable” question to libertarians nicely here (with some follow up here and here). An introductory quote is below. The scattery Stefan Molyneux also provided a decent video answer here.

If I can offer an uneducated answer: the reason nations don’t “do” libertarianism is because politicians are dis-incentivized from doing so, as it puts their wealth/power/status in jeopardy. Small/no government means less/no livelihood for those in positions of power; their whole socio-economic circle disappears, and it’s rather unreasonable to expect ethical behavior from a politician.

But not only are politicians dis-incentivized towards libertarianism, they are also have the means to ignore it*. Since politicians are the ones in control of the sanctioned use of force, they can structure the political environment as they see fit. They can essentially dictate the terms of their employment. This is a semi-fancy rephrasing of “politicians have guns so they can do what they want.”

From Woods:

For some reason, the finger-waggers at Salon think they’ve got us stumped with this one: “If your approach is so great, why hasn’t any country in the world ever tried it?”

So this is the unanswerable question? What’s supposed to be so hard about it? Ninety percent of what libertarians write about answers it at least implicitly.

Let’s reword the question slightly, in order to draw out the answer. You’ll note that when stated correctly, the question contains an implicit non sequitur.

* This point is so important that I bolded, underlined, and italicized it. I can be incentivized to have $1 million in my savings account but it doesn’t mean much if I don’t have the means to fulfill or even reasonably pursue that incentive.

Medieval Iceland image stolen from Wikipedia.

Share this post:

What High Schoolers Read Now

"Which one is the shortest?"

“Which one is the shortest?”

Via Media Bistro, an infographic (.pdf, ugh) on how high school reading lists have changed over time.

The immediate conclusion is that kids aren’t as easily attentive to words on a page as they are to whatever shiny device is eating their free time up like so many Pringles, so they aren’t able to process longer, more complex sentences.

But that only tells part of the story. Older books needed longer, more descriptive sentences because mass-distributed images and video were not around or not as common. So things had to be described in terms most people could process. That would increase sentence size and, consequently, book length.

Another thing to note is that complex sentence structure doesn’t always compel complex thematic or allegorical structures. Newer. smaller books may have the upperhand in that area. The Media Bistro post quotes something (not sure of the source) that implies that.

Image stolen from Scientopa.

Share this post:
Aqua Teen Hunger Force banner ads

A Blog Design Update of Some Interest

It still works kinda like this.

It still works kinda like this.

I got rid of the annoying Google ad in the sidebar, for no other reason that I just didn’t like the aesthetics of it. I was actually starting to make some money off of it but it would be another few decades until I would see some return from it.

In its stead I replaced it with donation links. I know no one will donate but it feels right to have them there because Bitcoin and Gittip are interesting little bits of services.

Aaaand I wanted a good excuse to use jQuery’s Colorbox functionality.

Image stolen from e-strategyblog.com.

Share this post:

Movie: The Place Promised In Our Early Days

I rewatched this movie last night on the Crunchyroll channel, but it’s also on Youtube for free in its entirety (see above), in decent quality.

It’s worth watching, even if anime isn’t your thing, because it has the sense of a semi-sci-fi movie from a Western producer…but animated. It helps to think of it as a Studio Ghibli film but more geared towards adult sensibilities and pacing. Many typical anime plot elements are here: American imperialism, the “large explosion” typology/legend, science-and-mysticism*, and schoolkids doing odd things in their spare time.

And even if that doesn’t appeal to you, there’s some excellent background scene art.

* If you think of the tower much like Clarke’s/Kubrick’s monolith from the 2001 universe, you’ll be on the right track.

Share this post:

Vengeance Rising’s De-Awesomed Artwork

The two Biblical accounts of Ralph exiting the gym art wildly contradictory.

The two Biblical accounts of Ralph exiting the gym are wildly contradictory.

Related to one of my recent posts about art inside the church, I came across this gem posted in a Facebook group. While not really single-church related it bears out the attitude of gatekeeper Christians needing to sanitize expression.

Here we have Vengeance Rising’s Destruction Comes, released in 1991, with the cover as it should be on the left, and the bowdlerized cover (looks like a cassette) on the right. As you can see the art on the left, in the style of thrash bands of the day, has a clear, thematic meaning to it. The art on the right just looks like a children’s book from the bargain bin.

Some backstory from nolifetilmetal.com:

The original CD pressing of “Destruction Comes” featured a cool package with a sticker of a body builder on the jewel case covering a partially disemboweled body builder on the cover. The sticker was obviously intended to hide the “offending” cover art so that conservative stores wouldn’t refuse to carry the CD. In 2011, Intense Millennium Record re-released the album with the original cover art. They included a sticker reproduction of the original sticker from the original pressing.


3. The original cover on “Destruction Comes” was censored so that you could not see the partially decaying body builder. On the outside of the jewel case there was a sticker placed of the same body builder with all his parts in tact. See photo above.

The sticker was on top of the wrapping but not on the actual inserts themselves. So there’s some saving grace.

Fun side fact: vocalist/guitarist Roger Martinez became an atheist/Satanist while some past members formed a band called Die Happy.

Share this post:

A Short Excerpt of the Internal Dialogue of a Young Video Game Hero

It was the day of all days. I planned on finally exerting some of my blossoming masculinity on the two callow lads that were a year my minor. I was picturing how awesome I looked in my “confidence headband” when I slipped on that damned log and fell.

Guess which two little faggots in this picture are going to get what's coming to them?

Guess which two faggots in this picture are going to get what’s coming to them?

They ran away, but I found a sword jabbed into a stone at the bottom of the waterfall—a not-subtle phallic invitation to a rite of passage. I didn’t know it would activate the 16-bit critters that explode or instantly reduce themselves to bones upon death. They barely pose a threat to anyone, really, but John gave me the boot and stood guard at the entrance like he would get laid for it. It’s alright. I hate that guy’s mustache anyways.

His facial hair looks even more retarded high up.

His facial hair looks even more retarded high up.

After I finish my quest in a few days’ worth of hours I’m going to go sword-broadside on those two towheaded bastards.

Banish image graciously stolen from trapword.com.

Share this post: