Monthly Archives: September 2016

Links of Possible Relevance, Part 17

Mind-Altering Quantum Experiment Shows Time Has Never Existed As We Think It Does – “You totally can’t trust anything about the universe, except the results of my experiment. Trust me! Science.”

Study warns that science as we know it is evolving into something shoddy and unreliable – Bring back natural philosophy and engineering-as-research!

How to talk to aliens.

Queryfeed – For us non-Twitter users who want to follow an account on there but deal with all the hashtags and shortened URLs sell your soul don’t want to actually sign up.

Youtube Heroes – Crass video, but enlightening. I can’t think of a worse idea than YouTube giving normal users the power to mommy everyone when they see something they don’t like.

Listen to the Surprisingly Goofy Voice of a Neanderthal

Darwin Unhinged: The Bugs in Evolution – “In sum: If we don’t know what conditions existed, or what conditions would be necessary, and can’t reproduce the event in the laboratory, and can’t show it to be statistically probable, and can’t construct something that might have evolved—why are we so very sure that it happened? Would you hang a man on such evidence?”

Read a sample résumé for Marissa Mayer – “please no one do this” – a friend’s comment on LinkedIn. Please note he’s a graphic designer.

The App Store Renders Government Irrelevant – As if more rendering were needed.

The Student-Loan Scam Killed ITT Tech – “Neither students nor their parents could possibly pay out-of-pocket for college at these prices, nor would private lenders see these loans, which have no collateral, as feasible. In the absence of government created credit, colleges would be forced to charge prices that are in line with reality.”

Bike Night Cycling Heart Shaped Tail Light – Uh…

Pittsburgh Renaissance Festival program – Warning! This is a pdf. Another warning! This references the Medieval Period as the “Dark Ages.” Final warning! It’s not really a Renaissance festival.

Is this the most convincing video of the loch ness Monster ever – No. It’s not.

How Long to Write Famous Books – Geez, take your time, Salinger.

Majority of Americans Are Still Reading Print Books – Time to finally get that “Print 4 Lyfe” tattoo.

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The Marty Stu Chronicles: Shulk

"Behold the power of the Monado (and my spotless ethical behavior)!"

“Behold the power of the Monado (and my spotless ethical behavior)!”

Despite the high quality of Xenoblade Chronicles, there’s no denying that Shulk, the main protagonist, is the biggest Marty Stu (of the Purity Stu variety) in recent memory. Aside from his barely-perceptible romance with Fiora, there’s no reason for him to pursue the hero’s quest other than pure altruism, and altruism is a lousy motivator for anything because no one is motivated by altruism alone. Altruism has to be contextual—it has to manifest in some way. Aside from Fiona getting (ostensibly) killed, there’s little else but good-guy revenge on the mechon, the Nazis of the game’s universe. It doesn’t take much effort to hate on those types.

Shulk is led by the nose through the plot by his flimsy altruism and the fact that his body is inhabited by one of the two gods of the universe—a god that is basically using him to continue his existence. Shulk is semi-literally not his own person but a puppet of two forces, an ethical idea and a god. Deus ex primas.

Compare this situation to Sharla, one of my favorite characters in the game. Her fiance, hometown, and commanding officer and mentor were killed by the mechon. She has plenty of direct, contextual motivation, even without her mild PTSD. Every other character has this kind of motivation: Dunban (maintain his reputation and to smack sense into Shulk), Reyn (Shulk’s bodyguard, basically), and Melia (royal/genetic duty). Even Riki, the comic relief of the game, has a better motivation than Shulk: to pay off debts initially, then to obey his chieftain’s orders. Shulk just wants his good-guy revenge on the mechon that killed the other half of his friendzoned relationship. That doesn’t seem enough to me.

The crowning (damning?) moment comes at the end, where Shulk is offered the power of a god, i.e., Zanza, the one that had possessed him and the one Shulk eventually eliminates. Shulk refuses the offer out of his desire to let people make their own choices. There was no self-doubt or struggle with competing ideas, while an offer of that sort isn’t given to a human, anywhere, without some consideration. He rejects the power and things are restored to better state before the game began. The whole ending has a bit of gnostic nonsense sprinkled into it, but someone Shulk-perfect somehow made it work.

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Salt the Living

“I think that when in doubt about the truth of an issue, it’s safer and in better taste to select the least numerous of the adversaries…May I have the salt, please?”
– Kira Alexandrovna Argounova, We the Living (Ayn Rand)

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Pale Blue Scratch Now Available in Oakmont, PA

If you’re ever in the Pittsburgh area, you can now buy a real, genuine, dead tree version of Pale Blue Scratch at the Mystery Lovers Bookshop in scenic, famous golf-coursey, Oakmont, PA.

* Unnecessary side bar: is there a name for this linguistic phenomenon, where two causally unrelated things are grammatically linked together? The fact that a book is available in a bookstore isn’t ontologically dependent on the royal “you” being present in the area. It’s implied that “hey, this information may be relevant to you,” but a non-native English speaker might receive the thrust of the sentence too literally.

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E.M. Forster’s Humor

This stuff can be hard to write this kind of subtlety. There’s few who can pull it off well. Bradbury was one of them, as is Jill Domschot. Scott Adams went overboard in a fine way, in this regard; you could tell he was trying to drive the jokes home with an elephant gun. Forster has a pea shooter and the peas have troll faces on them.

From Room with a View:

Miss Bartlett looked in her purse. Only sovereigns and pennies. Could any one give her change? Freddy had half a quid and his friend had four half-crowns. Miss Bartlett accepted their moneys and then said: “But who am I to give the sovereign to?”

“Let’s leave it all till mother comes back,” suggested Lucy.

“No, dear; your mother may take quite a long drive now that she is not hampered with me. We all have our little foibles, and mine is the prompt settling of accounts.”

Here Freddy’s friend, Mr. Floyd, made the one remark of his that need be quoted: he offered to toss Freddy for Miss Bartlett’s quid. A solution seemed in sight, and even Cecil, who had been ostentatiously drinking his tea at the view, felt the eternal attraction of Chance, and turned round.

But this did not do, either.

“Please–please–I know I am a sad spoil-sport, but it would make me wretched. I should practically be robbing the one who lost.”

“Freddy owes me fifteen shillings,” interposed Cecil. “So it will work out right if you give the pound to me.”

“Fifteen shillings,” said Miss Bartlett dubiously. “How is that, Mr. Vyse?”

“Because, don’t you see, Freddy paid your cab. Give me the pound, and we shall avoid this deplorable gambling.”

Miss Bartlett, who was poor at figures, became bewildered and rendered up the sovereign, amidst the suppressed gurgles of the other youths. For a moment Cecil was happy. He was playing at nonsense among his peers. Then he glanced at Lucy, in whose face petty anxieties had marred the smiles. In January he would rescue his Leonardo from this stupefying twaddle.

“But I don’t see that!” exclaimed Minnie Beebe who had narrowly watched the iniquitous transaction. “I don’t see why Mr. Vyse is to have the quid.”

“Because of the fifteen shillings and the five,” they said solemnly. “Fifteen shillings and five shillings make one pound, you see.”

“But I don’t see–”

They tried to stifle her with cake.

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Pale Blue Scratch Now on Smashwords

Buy here.

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Alan Moore Bails Out of Comics

Moore, especially from his insider’s view, sees the writing on the wall. And the writing is getting bigger:

“I think I have done enough for comics. I’ve done all that I can. I think if I were to continue to work in comics, inevitably the ideas would suffer, inevitably you’d start to see me retread old ground and I think both you and I probably deserve something better than that,” he said.

The part I bolded there is his diplomatic way of saying comics are becoming a boring thought-police-fest, which they really are becoming, and he needs to jump ship—fast;—preemptively before he gets hounded out or, worse, get any future stories rewritten sanitized for safe space purposes. An odd twist to be sure, since Moore is no conservative himself.

The signal fires have been lit for quite some time. Moore is a scary-looking industry outsider who wrote characters with vaguely not-liberal views—characters that sometimes didn’t get their social justice comeuppance in the plot (though his feud with Frank Miller had Moore actually accusing him of not being enough a liberal). Never mind that he is nearly peerless in the genre. Actual quality of writing doesn’t matter with some people, as long as the right message remains intact.

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Cthulhu in Real Life

Saw this on Reddit and found it too good not to post it in its entirety, because I can. Enjoy responsibly.

Second-to-minutes: major insanity within minutes at the emergence of Great Cthulhu all along the pacific region. Massive earth quakes in some regions. Madpeople world wide scream, some die, others attack their staff muttering strange languages. A region in the pacific starts boiling without heat. Planes drop from the sky, the crews mad and delerious. A politician in Tokyo speaking on TV recites an ancient series of syllables and starts using a plastic object to skin the flesh of his face, but stays alive as he dismantles the bone from his head with his bare hands. Some of the people watching this unfold do the same, all across Asia. In North Korea a small village erupts in to blue green flame.

Less than 15 minutes A anxious and panicked crowd in San Francisco park comes to a halt as a.. tentacled mass.. erupts from the soil and begins convulsive transformations in all fleshy organisms it touches – a wave of transformations of things proceeds from golden gate park at an exponential rate. In Africa bull elephants all swell and bloat in to red blistered flesh and die, producing voracious green insects that insect humans. In the Pacific a massive blue black cloud is forming like an oceanic nimbus. All who see this cloud develop acute symptoms of stage seven psychotic schizophrenia, massive hallucinations with utterly deranged caleidoscopic images. All across the pacific rim people commit suicide, kill other people. In Indonesia massive crowds living along the eastern coasts turn in to ravenous cannibal hordes that appear to be infectious, and within minutes their bodies seem to be … twisted caricatures of the human shape… Death toll after fifteen minutes is about ten million human beings world wide.

Within the hour there are visible changes to all natural laws occuring. Machines fail to operate. World wide things crawl from graves that were never human, and who chant in alien languages. Half a million people n Siberia see a new primary color between yellow and red. In many places along the pacific rim, half the people – well over a billion have gone insane. Everyone on Earth at the very least feels a mixture of paranoia, acute pains, nausea, has subtle dreamlike hallucinations, sees things move in the corner of their eyes, smells unnatural smells or is otherwise impaired. In some places massive stones float up from the soil in grotesque swirling patterns. The nimbus of clouds in the Pacific roils out an an exponential rate. In space the international space station is slowly filled with a protoplasmic froth of tentacles. A US commander who tries to launch nuclear missiles finds all containment for fossionable materials slowly melting from the insides (as much happens in nuclear power stations or storage spaces for radioactive waste) and turning in to a brightly bluegreen slime that bubbles and spreads. Millions of humans suddenly develop, for a brief time, telepathic and other supernatural abilities, often with extreme pain, emotions, psychotic episodes. Beasts transform world wide in to blasphemies beyond words. CERN, and several other particle physics laboratories, were just conducting experiments and perceive a radical change in how subatomic particles operate. In one instance a small accelerator in upstate New York produces a elongated area stretching out a mile from the particle emission lab where natural laws and matter and human bodies – even light – seem to be completely of a different nature. None who walks in that region comes out recognizable. Death toll about 150 million humans world wide.

In several hours In many places along the pacific things unhallowed emerge from the ocean in a nightmare landscape, amid absurd and completely bewildering weather phenomenon. Our sun experiences a most peculiar active phase, with geometric patterns appearing on its surface. On Jupiter’s moon io, half the crust cracks and massive volcanoes emerge in a twisted pentacle configuration. On Mars mons Olympus erupts black ooze. In the Himalaya’s a mountainous region slowly collapses upwards in to majestic floating mountains amid an unbroken rythmic trembling series of earthquakes that seem more like chants. 95% of all humans are infected, sick, deranged, in a severely confused state. 25% of all humans world wide have sudden physical abnormalities. About half a billion humans are now effectively deceased, most of them by suicide, although in many cases these suicides don’t appear to be fully effective an they keep trying over and over and over.

One Day – the world is half covered in a dark storm interspersed with lightning. In many places slime and twisted shapes rain from the sky. Existing buildings have deformed, many landscapes have become completely unnatural. Woods mutate, change shape. In some places dimensions are distorted, villages and landscape elements changing shape. Worldwide people are transported between places, or rifts to other realities open up. Most humans have been affected physically, mentally. About half of humans have turned in to something else, mostly dangerous, especially along coastal regions. Everyone is pretty much clinically insane. Strange disease spread and it is hard to say where one disease, mutation, hallucination or contamination begins and the other ends. The moon changes color to deep red, star patterns in the sky change in to new shapes. Several billion humans are now effectively lost, although in many places the dead are coming back to life, even dead gibbering things centuries dead – some of these form bloated monstrosities that shamble across the landscape…

One week The entire planet is a blighted sickness of roiling clouds streaked with primal and unnatural colors, all life is twisted, most minds have melted in to a roiling blasphemy incanting His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name, His name ….

366 hours after emergence the last human in northern Europe, while hiding in a mine, succumbs, twists in to insanity, stalks grow from his eyes and he starts devouring his six family members in the next underground chamber, who have already died a day earlier – and where fornicating in to an assembled tentacled mass of putrid black ooze.

In the pacific a monolithic black …”structure” miles high spreads like a cancer on the planet, well visible from space. Peaks jut from a boiling ocean strewn with tentacles and filth, and in the middle.. ahh.. nnn .. no. I.. can n.. not ahh.. HTY%$#(KJHH

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Links of Possible Relevance, Part 16

Feminism As Mental Illness – Jill throws down a gauntlet. And another one

Reviewing Darkness 03 – Ed throws down a gauntlet, too: “So no one should be surprised if we suggest that the major flaw with Western Christian religion in all its forms is the insistence on subjecting faith to human reason.”

The Christian Philosophy Cafetorium – Friend Azure Ides-Grey starts a new blog.

Mark Garza of Embodyment / The Famine (Part Two) – Great interview with perspectives inside the music industry (part one is here).

I Don’t Want Your Fucking App – I don’t. Also, what is up with your mobile site?

Oh You’ll Get Used to Robo-Cars—Uber Will Make Sure of It – Mostly because it hits close to home. I want to see one but staring at the driver’s seat of every car that passes near me isn’t as fun as it sounds.

The Italian government is giving teens €500 on their 18th birthday to spend on books – They will trade the vouchers for weed and Doritos.

Villagers fear occult after schoolgirl found with Satanic symbols carved into her body – A bunch of 80’s horror movies just called me and they wanted their premise back.

Star Wars Ring Theory: The Hidden Artistry of the Prequels – Very long but fascinating read.

They Gotta Regulate People Helping People – Is something working reasonably well? Just add a bureaucracy and we’ll fix that problem.

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More Ways to Buy Pale Blue Scratch

I’ve added a few more online outlets where you can buy Pale Blue Scratch. I’m working on getting it on Smashwords now, too.

Please enjoy responsibly.

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