Monday, December 31, 2012

Happy 2013

Happy 2013 everyone.

2012 was not a great year for me. I got my hours cut near the end of the year and I've been trying to deal with that, and then all of the health stuff that's been going on - I'm just glad I made it to the end of this year. I don't really think it was a great year for anyone. And while once again I'm spending New Years at home, by myself, I have hope that this year is going to be a little better than last year. See, this year, I have a legitimate resolution. I have several actually:

1. To begin work on my post-Baccalaureate in Chemistry. I see new teaching jobs daily, but they're all math and science. So I'm approaching a post-Bacc in either chemistry or biology; chemistry because that looks like it'll take the least amount of time.

2. To become more motivated. One of my archilles heel is that I just am not motivated. I make plans, but I never follow through with them. I have these high and lofty ideas but I never chase after them. This year it's going to stop, because this year, I want to start setting realistic goals and pursue them.

So there's my two resolutions - to start setting realistic goals so I can motivate myself to get them better and to begin work on a Post-Bacc in Chemistry. We'll see how well I follow through with them, but writing them down tends to make things a little more permanent.

So, anyway, Happy 2013 everyone.

And good riddance to 2012. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Thoughts on Spree Shootings

A while ago, I wrote an essay about the age of the post-hero. This ties closely in with what I plan to ramble about today.

There's been a lot of finger pointing about the nature of the shooting in Newtown. And just like always, there's a rush to blame everything but the actual sources of the problem themselves: Easy access to guns and the culture that we have.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Kwanzamas

We made it (was there ever any doubt?) Surprisingly enough, the world didn't end on 21 December, just like it never ended on all the days before it. So here we are, on the Christmas Evening, looking out over the last week before we hit New Years and 2013. A lot happened that could make you think that it did, though: Newtown, the recent even with the firefighters getting shot, the fact that trying to carry on a debate with gun owners is like trying to reason with creationists, this BS about the fiscal cliff, and other things that make me wonder if we'd all just been better off if the world just ended right there on the spot. But it didn't. You can't run like that.

You can't run at all from your problems. The only way to deal with them is to own up to the and fix them. Unfortunately, Americans seem less and less inclined to do just that. So let's blame everything but the problem itself, and come up with every excuse that we can to dodge the actual question, since that might force us to actual think of solutions that we may not personally like. Let's blame video games, despite there not being a shred of evidence that it causes violent behavior. Let's blame movies, let's blame TV, but God forbid we blame easy access to firearms. Banning automatic weapons and passing regulations to limit the number of guns and the amount of ammo manufactured each year might lead to American Christians being herded into concentration camps by FEMA or something. Government, after all, is EBBBBILLL. Overlooking the fact that if you're an American and you're reading this you are the government, it doesn't change the fact that most gun owners do not make me confident in them owning weapons. Especially with their childish, black-and-white view of society where force is always the answer. "If you're being held at gunpoint, do you want to have a fire arm so you can shoot the guy or do you want to wait an hour for the police?" No, I don't want a firearm. I'll get my ass shot, and so will you, before you can even draw it. Did you read your own question? You're at gunpoint. What are, you John Wesley Hardin, fastest gun in the west? I doubt it, but hey, never let Dunning-Kruger stop you from thinking you're the best at your imaginary wild west scenarios. And why is that the only two choices - isn't that a false dichotomy? Why can't I try to talk to the person and talk them out of it? If I'm understanding and empathetic, I'll have a better chance of getting through than if I try to cap their ass when they clearly have the advantage. I addressed something similar to this in a post way back when I talked about whether or not we even need heroes anymore in society - I came to the conclusion we do not. Newtown and it's aftermath are what belief in heroes get us. What a belief in "black hatted bad guys" who can only be stopped by sheer luck and chance, since "white hatted good guys" usually get shot (see: the armed security guard at Columbine).

(And I wonder how many gun owners were gung-ho for voter disenfranchisement registration, "to prevent voter fraud" and all that BS, and don't see the irony now that they're whining about registration of their own hobby - and before you say that it could easily be flipped the other way, go look up the number of voter fraud cases. Now look up the number of people killed by guns each year. I'm sure that they're running neck and neck in numbers).

Anyway, on a totally separate and unrelated note, I've got a list of things that I want to accomplish in 2013; I figure if I write them here, maybe it'll make them more permanent. One of the things I want to become more motivated and procrastinate less, but I'll wait to put the whole list (yes, the irony burns - but that's in 2013).

Anyway, I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas if you celebrated it. Otherwise, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season. After New Years, winter sort of takes up space and the year kicks into high swing.

Here's to my 27th Christmas. May I live to see another 27, and beyond. And here's to your Xth Christmas, dear reader, and may you live long enough to see another X number of Christmases - or whatever holiday you celebrate.

Monday, December 3, 2012

I'll See You In 2013

634 BCE: The Romans feared that Rome would be destroyed 120 years after the city had been founded. It was founded on the myth that twelve eagles had shown Romulus a mythical number, that was supposedly the lifetime of Rome. Each eagle was believed to represent 10 years. Rome was sacked once in 394 BCE, and it wasn't sacked again until 410 CE, when the Visigoths hit the city. Depending upon how you want to define the Roman Empire, the empire either didn't fall until Constantinople (1463), when the Holy Roman Empire collapsed and become Modern Germany (1806), when the Ottomans fell (1911) or when the Bolsheviks overthrew the Russian Empire and the Tsars (1917). Even going with the sacking of Roman, each of those eagles could not have been 10 years - that'd put them better than 600 years off. And with the other dates, they don't even remotely come close.

389 BCE: Rome again, for the same reasons above. Again, wrong for the same exact reasons.

66: the world ended sometime between 66 to 70 CE, according to The Essenes, a sect of Jewish Aesthetics. Sadly, their world met a very literal end when they went to war against the Romans.

365: The world ended this year, according to Hilliary of Poitiers.

375-400: The Antichrist has already been born and the world would end before 400 CE, according to Martin of Tours.

500: Jesus returned, according to Hippolytus of Rome, Sextus Julius Africanus, and Ireneus.

796, Apr 3: Jesus came back and crowned a crowd of people, according to Spanish monk Beatus of Liebana.

799 - 806: The world ended sometime in during this period, according to Gregory of Tours.

800: In what might be the first recorded instance of a Harold Camping in action, the world ended this year, according to the revised predictions of Sextus Julius Africanus (oops. Forgot to carry that zero, huh?)

848: The world ended this year, according to Thiota.

992 - 995: The Antichrist came back, and end times, within three years of 992, when Good Friday coincided with the Annunciation, according to various Christian Groups.

1000, Jan 1: The world ended on this day, as predicted by Pope Sylvester II, and various Christian groups. Sylvester is reported as being unaware of all the previous instances that the world ended, and feigned ignorance at being told that the world had ended at least six times before he was proven correct.

1033: The world ended on the 1,000th anniversary of the First Coming of Jesus, according to various Christian groups, ending with his Third Coming since 500.

1184: The Antichrist arose to take over the world, according to various Christians.

1186: The world ended during a planetary alignment, as predicted by John of Toledo. Word has it that he read it in an Ancient Mayan Codex.

1260: The Millennium began, sometime between 1200 and this date, according to Italian mystic, Joachim of Fiore.

1284: 666 years after the Rise of Islam, the world came to an end, according to Pope Innocent III. When accused of Islamophobia, Pope Innocent III proclaimed himself to be innocent of any charges.

1290: The world ended in 1290, after the followers of Joachim of Fiore rescheduled the ending. Reports at the time indicate that the stadium was booked and they had to find another venue for a cheaper price.

1335: The world ended in 1335, after the followers of Joachim of Fiore again rescheduled the ending following the last time the world ended, in 1290.

1346-51: The world legitimately came to an end for a great many people as the Black Death swept through Europe, leaving nothing but death in its wake in one of the worst pandemics in human history. A pandemic which had not been predicted at all up to that point.

1370: The Antichrist arose in 1366 and the Millennium began in 1370, according to Jean de Roquetaillade. Those attending the show were disappointed to find that 186 years of age had not at all been kind to the Antichrist's mind, and fans commented that his 1184 performance was a great deal better.

1378: The Antichrist appeared in this year, according to Joachite Arnaldus de Villa Nova. The Antichrist returned with much complaining, since he was told by his divine agent that the 1370 performance would be his last one before retirement.

1504: The Tribulation was well under way before this, but this was the Millennium, according to Sandro Botticelli.

1524, Feb 1: The world ended with a great flood that started in London, according to numerous Astrologers.

1524, Feb 20: Just 19 days after a great flood starting in London ended the world, a planetary alignment marked the end of the world and ushered in the Millennium according to Johannes Stöffler.

1525: The Millennium began, according to Anabaptist tradition.

1528: The world ended this year, based on predictions of Johannes Stöffler, who was still following up on his success from the previous prediction.

1528, May 27: The world ended, according to Hans Hut.

1533: Christ appeared before a crowd in Strausbourg, and 144,000 people were saved while fire consumed the rest of the world, bringing it to an end as predicted by Melichor Hoffman.

1533, Oct 19: Meanwhile, Judgement Day began at 8:00am on this day, as calculated by mathematician Michael Stifel.

1534, Apr 5: The apocalypse took place on this day, and only the city of Munster was spared from the disaster, according to Jan Matthys.

1555: The world came to an end after 7,000 years of human history had passed, as was recorded by Pierre d'Ally, a French Theologian. He wrote this down in 1400, and said that 6,845 years of human history had passed, but apparently did not consult with Ken Ham first, since that would make humanity not quite 7,456 years old, but not the 10,000 that AGI insists it is (Of course, because they believe in exact science, they'll tell you it's 6,000 - 10,000 years old and hope you don't notice the 4,000 year gap. And if you round that number to the nearest thousandths, you get 6,000 years, so they're right on the money).

1586: the Reign of the Devil, which began in 325 at the Council of Nicea, finally came to an end this year after 1260 years, marking the end of the world. This was as recorded by Spanish Christian reformer Michael Servetus.

1588: The world ended this year, vindicating the prediction of Regiomontanus.

1600: The world ended before this date, which was the upper date set by Reform Theologian Martian Luther. He would later go on to create the religious movement that would give the world Fred Phelps, Jerry Falwell, Pat Robertson, and American Christianity, making the world wish he was right.

1624, Feb 1: A great deluge hit the Earth during this time, ending the world, as predicted by Astrologers. Reports indicate that the astrologers were feeling a little left out, especially since people seemed to forget about how they had successfully predicted the end of the world in 1524 and they felt the Theologians were being glory hogs.

1648: The Jewish Messiah, concerned with how many times the world had ended, arrived in this year as predicted by Sabbatai Zevi, of Smyrna. He accurately predicted the date of the arrival and was there to meet the Jewish Messiah using the kabbalah.

1654: A nova that occurred in 1597 was used by physician Helisaeus Roselin to predict the world during this year.

1656: The world ended this year, as predicted by various Christians, who used Bible math to figure out that it had been 1656 years between Creation and the Flood.

1657: The final battle of Armageddon occurred during this year, leading to massive causalities. This was predicted ahead of time by the Fifth Monarchists. The Antichrist, who hadn't seen a performance since his 1378 appearance, was dusted off and propped on a dead horse and flogged to death by members of the oppositional forces for his poor 1370 and 78 performances, which were so bad audiences still hadn't forgotten them.

1658: After 7,000 years (the world was created in 5,343 BCE, without a 0 date), the world came to an end as predicted by the renowned captain and Native American Right's activist, Christopher Columbus.

1660: The Antichrist, who had first appeared in 456, and brought about the end of the world in 1660. Martin of Tours, despite setting the date at 400 and off by 56 years, was reported as feeling "vindicated" and saying "this is a hard business. It's difficult to get these numbers right, so you have to have a little give and take, y'know?"

1666: The world ended twice this year: once with the Jewish Messiah made a second appearance, as predicted by Sabbatai Zevi, and once when numerous Christians feared that the number 1666 would mark the appearance of the Antichrist, despite being 1,000 more. Interestingly, here in the real world, London burned to the ground in the Great Fire of 1666.

1673: The Millennium began this year, as predicted by William Aspenwall, a Fifth Monarchist.

1688: The end of the world came in this year, as predicted by mathematician John Napier, who used the Book of Revelations to back up his Bible Math.

1689: The world ended this year, according to Pierre Jureiu.

1694: In an unprecedented event, the world ended came to an end three times this year: The Millennium began twice this year, according to John Mason and Johann Heinrich Alsted, and Jesus also made a surprise reappearance, unforeseen by all except for Johann Jacob Zimmerman.

1697: The world ended this year, according to noted New World Puritan Minister, Cotton Mather. It would also end two more times after this, also according Reverend Mather, since the end of the world supposedly tastes like Lay's brand chips: you can't have just one.

1700: The world ended twice this year: It ended once more, according to John Napier, who due to finances was forced to reschedule his last ending of the world. It also ended according to Henry Archer, a Fifth Monarchist, with what was likely the Tenth Coming of Jesus since 1600.

1700-1734: At some point during this window, the world ended again according to Cardinal Nicolaus of Cusa. He supposed made the claim that he was unaware of all the other predictions, but was happy to be vindicated. He is also said to have made the claim that "Napier and Archer are hucksters; I predicted it first in 1700, those bastards just got lucky. Me? I needed a large enough window. You never know in this business; the more room you give yourself, the better off you are."

1705-1708: The end of the world occurred in either 1705, 1706, or 1708, as accurately predicted by the Camisard prophets.

1716: The second end of the world, as recorded by Cotton Mather.

1719, Apr. 5: A comet reportedly slammed into the earth, destroying it, according to Jacob Bernoulli. Due to being within several meters of the impact zone, of an end of the world even that took place 293 years ago, Bernoulli could be reached for comment.

1736: The third and final end of the world, marking an end to Cotton Mather's epic End of the World Trilogy, which he started in 1697. Mather was supposedly weeping tears of joy to have finally finished his life's work.

1736, Oct. 16: Amateur astronomy William Whiston accurately predicts another comet collision, ending the world not even 20 years after the first comet impact ended the world, as reported by Bernoulli.

1757: The last judgment occurred in the "spirit world" this year, according to Emanuel Swedenbourg. When asked for their thoughts on this last judgment on the spirit world, numerous native and animist leaders reported they "had no idea what the hell [Swedenbourg] was talking about".

1776: The world ends when Antichrist arises in the new world and overthrows English rule, forcing England to lose her colonies in the ... wait. Oops. 

1789: The Antichrist appeared, according to 14th century Cardinal Pierre d'Ally, who is on record as having successfully predicted the end of the world 200 years previous.

1792-1794: An accurate prediction of the end of the world placed it between these two years, as predicted by the Shakers cult.

1793 - 1795: Richard Brothers accurately predicts the end of the world and the Millennium during this time. Back in the real world, Brothers was eventually committed to an asylum.

1795, Nov. 19: The world ended on this date, as predicted by Nathanial Hallhed, who was campaigning for the release of prophet Richard Brothers.

1805: Christopher Love accurately predicted the end of the world, in a massive Earthquake, followed by the everlasting rule of God. When contacted for comment, God confirmed the date, with the addendum: "I know this is getting old, but it'd just be mean to leave My followers hanging without proving their predictions right."

1806: A Hen laid an egg in Leeds in which the phrase "Christ is Coming" was written. When asked for confirmation, Jesus confirmed the messages were indeed real, and result of a heavenly campaign manager who had misallocated campaign funds, forcing them to resort to cheaper campaigning methods to announce Jesus' Second Coming than had been used previously.

1814, Dec. 25: Pregnant with the Christ-child, 64-year-old self-described prophet Joanna Southcott, predicted that her child would be born in Christmas. In the real world, Southcott died on the day of her prediction, but an autopsy revealed that she (surprisingly) was not pregnant.

1836: John Wesley accurately foresaw the founding of the Millennium during this time.

1843: Harriette Livermore announced the end of the world this year, accurately predicting it both this time and the second time she made the announcement.

1843: The world ended twice this year. Once on April 28, and the other on December 31. Jesus returned both times, but due to internet lag and appalling processing power on their computers, the Millerites who predicted the Second Coming would miss it because they d/c'd. They would, however, be there for the Third Coming.

1844: The world ended twice this year. Acting as inspiration for an aspiring young Harold Camping, William Miller predicted the world would end on March 21 and then, after being vindicated, went on to spite the world by summoning Jesus again on October 22.

1874: Harriette Livermore's second accurate prediction. Jesus is reported as having been very tired and very worn out, having made so many sudden and successive appearances without a break. The Heavenly Union said they would enter talks with the prophets, warning them attempting to Summon Jesus too many times for fear of violating contractual terms.

1853 - 1856: The Crimean War suddenly boils over into the rest of the world, becoming the battle of Armageddon as believed by many Christians at the time.

1862: The world ended 6,000 years after Creation, in 1862, as accurately predicted by Scottish Clergyman John Cumming.

1863: The Millennium began on this date, as predicted by the Christian Israeli Church. When contacted for questioning, John Wroe was said to be "elated" and "happy that God followed through with his promise yet again".

1873: The second advent occurred, and the world ended yet again, as according to the author of The Present Truth, or Meat in Due Season, Jonas Windell.

1874: Both the Bible Studies Movement and the Seventh Day Adventists accurately predicted the end of the world during this time, shortly on the heels of Jonas Windell's accurate prediction.

1878: Apparently not content to be correct once, the Bible Studies Movement issued yet another correct prediction in 1878.

1881: Both Mother Shipton and the Bible Studies Movement scored an accurate prediction for the end of the world in this year, although because Mother Shipton had been alive in the 1400s, it was difficult to reach her for comment. Her agent did not return our phone calls.

1890: The Ghost Dance lead to the beginning of the Millennium in 1890, as predicted by Wovoka. Exactly why a dance would lead to the second coming of Jesus has since puzzled a great many baptists, who believe dancing sinful.

1892-1911: By reading the careful alignments of the great Pyramids of Giza, the pyramidologist Charles Smyth accurately predicted the end of the world during this window.

1901: The Catholic Apostolic Church proclaimed that Jesus would return following the death of their last member, who died in 1901. Jesus was spotted in the streets of New York, and when questioned, claimed that he was there "just to pick up some Yiddish food."

1908: The Bible Studies Movement issued yet another accurate prediction this year.

1914: Another accurate Bible Studies Movement prediction, which, surprisingly enough, lead to the end of the world sometime between the First Battle of the Marne and the First Battle of Ypres. Soldiers fighting on the Front of World War I were said to be surprised and thought it was Jesus, but it as hard to tell him indiscriminately killing the unsaved from the shells and mustard gas indiscriminately killing everyone.

1915: The Millennium began again for what is likely the 1000th time since 0 CE, making this a recursive, post-modern moment in modern history.

1916: According to a successful prediction by the Bible Studies Movement, World War I did not end with the Treaty of Versillies. Rather, it ended with the Rapture of the Saints, but since so many people had died from the war, it was hard to tell the Raptured from those who had merely been killed.

1918: Another successful ending prediction brought to the world by the Bible Studies Movement.

1920: In 1920, all Earthly governments perished by the sword and anarchy, while God came back down and destroyed entire Churches wholesale. When asked why, God mentioned that he was tired of all the successful predictions of the Bible Studies Movement and was working to destroy the churches so Jesus could get some time off, following the falling through of the Union/Church negotiations.

1925: Joseph F. Rutherford, a Bible Studies Student, predicted the end of the world with the return of people to Israel, who had achieved perfect health through all of their years wandering the world, using Alternative Medicine from the Mystical Far East that would later find its way to the United States, once the world had stopped ending. On September 13 of the same year, Margarette Rowen said that the Angel Gabriel had accurately predicted, and gave to her, that the world would end on Midnight.

1935: Wilbur Voliva, an Evangelist, said the world would go "puff" in September of the year. He accurately predicted the Second Coming of Puff the Magic Dragon, resulting in great confusion.

1936: The Rapture happened and the world ended, according to Herbert Armstrong.

1941: The Jehovah's Witnesses accurately predicted the end times on this date.

1943: Showing off, the Herbert Armstrong predicted the end of the world again, for a second successful time.

1947: Beginning in this year, the world collapsed into post-apocalyptic anarchy, resulting in Lord Humongous taking over the wandering desert tribes and their vehicles, ruling a distant place known only as "the Thunderdome", in accordance with the writings of John Newbrough.

1954, Dec. 21: The planets align precisely with one another and a great rift in the center of the galaxy, producing a cataclysmic effect predicted by the end of the Ancient Mayan Cale... wait. Wrong year. Dorthy Martin accurately predicted the death of the world in a giant flood.

1959, Apr. 22: Florence Houteff began her campaign to warn people of the Rod, which would cause the end of the world... that's not right. She began her campaign to worn people of the end of the world, which was imminent and occurred later that year, and the campaign was world wide and made references to a Biblical rod.

1962, Feb 4. Jeanne Dixon, a renowned psychic and well established prophetess, predicted a planetary alignment that brought about the end of the world, making it around the 5th or 6th planetary alignment to successful eradicate the world.

1967: Humor is set aside for a minute. 1967 was the year that Jim Jones convinced a large number of people that a nuclear apocalypse was imminent. They joined his cult, and he moved them into South America, at Jonestown. The result of this was 909 temple members who died in 1978, including 200 children, killed by cyanide poisoning. Darkly enough, the particular song that started playing at this entry is this one, which wasn't intended but certainly fits.

1967, Aug 20: George van Tassel received an accurate message from the alien Ashtar, who predicts the "third woe of the Apocalypse", which would resulted in the Southern United States being destroyed in a nuclear assault by the Soviets.

1969: Again, humor is set aside. Charles Manson predicted a race war in 1969, and ordered the Tate-LeBlanc Murders in an attempt to bring it about.

1969, Aug. 9: George William accurately predicts the end of the world on the verge of the 1970s, thus saving the world from the horrors of disco and bell-bottoms.

1970: Hal Lindsy publishes the text The Late, Great Planet Earth, which successfully predicts the end of the world. As of this writing, this otherwise successful document is 42-years-old.

1972: Herbert W Armstrong, displaying that age hasn't taken him down at all and he's still pretty spry for an old guy, once again accurately predicts the end of the world, adding to his already extensive collection of accurate predictions.

1972, Jan 11-12: The Comet Kohoutek heralds a great apocalypse, as predicted by David Berg.

1975: The Jehovah's Witnesses successful predict the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus during this time.. Not to be outdone, Herbert W. Armstrong rises to the occasion one more and final time, predicting the end of the world to spite the Jehovah's Witnesses.

1977: John Wroe successfully predicts the end of the world, while William Branham accurately predicts the end of the world as occurring no later than the end of the year.

1980: Leland Johnson, having come off a successful prediction of a nuclear Armageddon in early that year, predicted that God's Kingdom would be established again before the year was over with, shortly after heaven's engineers had dismantled it from the previous Millennial predictions.

1980s: Hal Lindsey, a prophet renowned for the accuracy of his predictions, publishes 1980: Countdown to Nuclear Armageddon, which successful predicts the coming nuclear apocalypse and the reestablishment of the Millennial.

1981: Chuck Smith predicted that the generation of 1948 would be the last generation. He was correct; the world ended and there were no further generations following the prediction.

1982 Mar 10: John Gribbin and Stephan Plagemann successfully predicted the planetary alignment that would destroy the world that year, undermining all of God's previous attempts to establish a Millennial kingdom as predicted in 1980 and frustrating the saved, who didn't expect such a sudden end to their paradise.

1982, Oct/Nov. Pat Robertson makes his first, of many, correct predictions regarding the end of the world and the second coming of Jesus.

1984, Oct 2: Jehovah's Witnesses yet again successfully predicted the end of the world. Pat Robertson is on record as having accused them of aping off of his already pin-point accurate prediction.

1985: Lester Samerall joins the rank of successful prophets to predict the end of the world. This is also the year that I was born.

1987-88: An accurate prediction on the end of the world issued by Noah Hutchings, president of the Southwest Radio Church. He, with pinpoint accuracy, predicted the world as ending "sometime in 1987 or 1988."

1987, Apr 29: Leland Johnson is successful in yet another prediction on the end of the world.

1988: Hal Lindsey successfully predicted the Rapture yet again, this time in the year of 1988. He then went on to sell millions more copies of his book, The Late, Great, Planet Earth.

1988 Sept/Oct: Edgar Whisenant successfully predicted the date of the apocalypse, with laser-like accuracy, as occurring sometime between the months of September and October.

1989, Sept. 30: On a roll from his last prediction, Whisenant once again called the end of the world on this date in 1989.

1991: Esteemed Louis Farrakhan, leader of the tolerant and open Nation of Islam, accurately called the Iraq War the "War of Armageddon."

1992, Sept 28: A successful attempt to predict the apocalypse occurred on this day, in 1992, as predicted by Born-Again Christian Rollen Stewart.

1993: David Berg's prediction of the Tribulation, which began in 1988, successfully reached completion by 1993, marking the return of the Millennium.

1994, May 2: Neal Chase called the end of the world 40 days after a nuclear attack on New York, resulting in a bombing that leveled the city and won him drinks on the house at the local bar for the remainder of the tribulation.

1994, Sept/Oct: Legendary Prophet Harold Camping, learning from the previous predictions of those before successfully predicted the end of the world exactly during this time, as "sometime between September and October", validating that God hates the months of April, September, and October.

1995, Mar 15: Prophet Harold Camping scores yet another successful prediction of the Rapture.

1996, Dec 17: Sheldon Nidle, a Californian psychic, successfully predicted the end of the world when 16 million people were hoisted up into a space ship populated with angels.

1997, Mar 26: Marshall Applewhite, leader of the Heaven's Gate cult, lead his cult out during the appearance of the Comet Hale-Bop.

1997, Oct. 23: James Ussher, a 17th century Irish Bishop best known for his accurate measure of the Earth's age (at ~6,000 years old), accurate predicted the end of the world on this date, exactly 6,000 years since Creation.

1999: The Seventh Day Adventists once again accurately predict the end of the world, while Charles Berlitz, a linguist best known for his guide books on specific languages, accurately predicted the end of the world, but was a little hazy on how it would be ending.

1999, Jul: Bucking the trend, as daring young prophets are known to do, Nostradamus predicted a "terror king" who came from the sky, leading to the end of the world that many feared that it would.

'Before' 2000: Hal Lindsy once again managed to successfully predict the end of the world following his 1980s predictions, as did Gordon Lindsy, Timothy Dwight IV, the Jehovah's Witnesses, and conspiracy nut, Texe Marrs.

2000: Peter Olivi, a 13th century Theology wishing to give himself a lot of wiggle room, predicted the rise of the Antichrist in 1300 or 1340, and the end of the Antichrist's reign in 2000. Helena Blatvasky also correctly foresaw the world ending in 2000, although Theosophy was an entirely different set of reasons than the Antichrist, who apparently had stepped down following his tragic 1300s performance. Isaac Newton also accurately predicted the arrival Jesus and the Millennial in 2002, while self-proclaimed Christian Psychic Ruth Montegomery successfully predicted the change in the Earth's axial tilt that lead to the appearance of the Antichrist. Ed Dobson, Reverend Moon, and Lester Sumerall also accurately predicted the end at this time, while Edgar Cayce, a renowned prophet, predicted the second coming, along with 18th century Johnathan Edwards, who predicted Jesus' Millennial beginning this year. Jerry Jenkins and Tim LeHaye predicted a Y2K bug causing an economic collapse that would lead to the end of the world, while Jerry Falwell said that God would pour his judgment on the Earth. Not all of these predictions came true; understandably, the Hosts of Heaven didn't have enough manpower to make them all occur, but like Santa, according to the Archangel Michael, "We couldn't do it all, but we gave it that old college try anyway."

2001: Tynetta Muhammad accurately predicted the end of the world. She is a columnist for the Nation of Islam.

2003, May: Earth collides with Nibiru, according to the prophetess Nancy Lieder, who was receiving messages from the aliens at Zeti Reticuli warning her of the event.

2006, Sept 21: The House of Yahweh, related to IHOP But without the pancakes, released a newsletter that predicted the end of the world in nuclear Armageddon.

2007, Apr 29: Legendary Prophet Pat Robertson once again predicts the end of the world, with such success that it's unnerving.

2008: The world ends with the LHC goes online, producing strangelets that turn the planet Earth into a mass of strange matter.

2010: The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn successfully predicted the end of the world during this year, using their magic to likely foresee the imminent doom.

2011, May 21: Legendary Prophet Harold Camping makes another successful prediction on the end of the world. However, God called in sick that day, telling Harold Camping that, while successful, he would need to reschedule the apocalypse. However, God did carry out a "Spiritual Judgment," according to Camping. When asked for their thoughts on this last judgment on the spirit world, numerous native and animist leaders reported they "had no idea what the hell [Swedenbourg] [Camping] was talking about".

2011, Aug-Oct: Despite the best efforts of scientists to lie to the people about their intentions, the Comet Elenin both collided with and passed close enough by the Earth to disturb the crust, resulting in a new apocalypse.

2011, Sept 29: Roland Weinland predicted, in 2008, what would eventually come to pass: the second coming of Jesus, and the explosions that blew up American port cities, resulting in the blowing of the second horn of Revelations. This was his first successful prediction; he would later schedule the same prediction again in May of 2012, just to show off.

2011, Oct 21: Harold Camping's original 2011 prediction completed with the second coming, proving Camping right, as he had been ever since 1994, when he started.

2012, May 27: Weinland's second replay of his 2011 prediction comes to pass, and once again, the port cities are annihilated in a burst of nuclear flames.

2012, Dec. 21: The Mayan long count calender, which is shaped like a circle, rolls over to its new era. Meanwhile, Earth will be destroyed in a supernova, by a collision with Nibiru, an alien invasion, geomagnetic reversal, and finally, the sheer pain of being overwhelmed with bad television predicting events that will never happen, and never have happened.

So stop worrying about the end of the world. It hasn't happened yet, and if it does happen on December 21, it wont be because it was predicted ahead of time: it'll be because of some fluke coincidence that likely couldn't be predicted anyway. I'll probably be around (I have the month of December off) but I'm announcing now that I will be here to see you folks in 2013. I hope you'll still be here, too.

- source

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Personality Types

The temperament philosophy is an old, outdated pseudoscience. It's not a very effective method to gauge people's personalities, since individual people are too diverse to be narrowed down into one or two categories. Like the Enneagram, or the Myers-Briggs Test, it tries to take something as complicated as a human personality and narrow it down, or pigeon hole it, into a single category or, at most, one category with few supporting points.

Despite being pseudoscientific and specious at best, they're still fun to work with, because they can sometimes give you a handle on what type of individual you are. You might find that you fit more into one category than the others, or you might find that you fit more into a handful of categories than others. It can give you a label to help define yourself - both a blessing and a curse, because that label you use to help others identify some part of you can become the only thing that defines you, and when that happens, something went wrong. For instance, I'm a very strong Type 3 on the Enneagram, and my MBTI is INFJ (which is a bit of a contradiction, but I score high on Type 1, Type 4, and Type 7, the usual matches for my MBTI).

As an author, however, these can be good starting places when designing characters (I'll admit that I didn't start here. I take parts of my own personality and I break it up and let it grow from there, but that's beside the point; this is clearly intended to be a "do as I say, not as I do" post). I do sometimes take personality tests from the perspective of my characters, just so I can know ahead of time, or help get a better view of who they are as people. It can help you flesh out and define the little people populating your book: it can also help you spot potential conflicts a mile away - and explore it in your book.

This method is how I've been able to flesh out the cast of the Blue Pimpernel in my head, at least, as well as I have. Each girl has a very distinctive personality, with similarities and differences that make them stand out but make it so that it makes sense when they work together, and make even more sense when they rub one another the wrong way and it leads to conflict.

I was glancing through this post on the four temperament philosophy, and it hit me just how easily I can break the cast (or, rather, the main four characters, anyway) into the categories. It helps a lot that, as the author says, "everyone has a little bit from all of them (aka, the P.T. Barnum effect)", but that everyone has one major, defining trait and a minor one. While that may be true for some people, and not for others (it isn't for me), it helps me get a better grip on the characters and come at their personalities from a different perspective.

All samples are from the The Blue Pimpernel: Liquidity. I vouch not for quality, since I haven't even finished the final draft yet, let alone proof read. However, consider this to be a sneak peak of sorts:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Skin Tone Markers

I'm a white guy. I've expressed that before (for a certain value of guy). And while I come from an area that's poorer than shit, and I myself am poorer than shit, that doesn't mitigate the privilege society awards to me for being the color that I am.

I've come along way in acknowledging that privilege, but I probably still have miles to go before I sleep. Today, I was reminded of just how far I've come, and just how blind some people are to the concept of privilege (and how insidious racism actually is capable of being). I was reading this narrative, and there was a little part of it that struck me:
Decades ago, in graduate school, a professor and I chatted as we prepared for a holiday party in the English department. I made decorations, digging around in a box that was loaded with miscellaneous art supplies – colored pencils, dried out markers, and broken old crayons 
“Nice crayon,” my professor said as I colored a poster.
“What color is it?”
I turned the crayon around in my hand and read: “Flesh.”
“Got a problem with that?”
I was stumped. “With what?”
“Miss Grant, I think you’ve had just about enough gender studies courses,” he said. “How about giving a little more thought to race?”
I am an amateur artist. I used to have a lot more artistic talent than I do today; I've squandered it, but drawing is still something that I occasionally do for fun. I was drawing before I was writing; I stopped drawing sometime in early college, which was about the time that I started to pick up in my writing. I traded one talent for another, you might say. Today, a lot of my art is done in Daz Studio, and with 3d rendering. 3d rendering, with some help from photoshop, has its advantages. At the same time, though, I'm restricted in what I can and can't do (because I can't design my own models, and the selection of primitives, or basic shapes, isn't very broad) in a way that I'm not when I draw.

I still have a pile of primsacolor markers. I actually have several boxes of them; I still use them. I love primsacolor; they're my favorite type of marker, because they make smooth strokes and I can "layer" progressively darker colors, to create the illusion of shadow and depth in a picture. If you've followed that link, you probably see the prismacolor markers are expensive; one marker sells for 3 dollars. I probably have over 200 dollars worth of markers that I've collected over 5 or 6 yeas of art work, including Christmas gifts. Eventually, it just got too expensive. That's another reason I don't have many hobbies other than writing anymore: writing is free. Everything else costs money I don't have, and time I can't waste.

Reading the narrative above reminded me of a time when I was relatively young - I want to say this happened about 6 or 7 years ago, maybe even 8. I was sitting in my mom's room, and I was organizing the markers according to color type (so, these were greens, these were oranges, these were reds, etc). I had them all nicely organized, and I was going through the various color groups with my mom. I even had a group I called "skin tones." Unfortunately, that "skin tones" group was a rather restricted group - just like the "flesh" crayon in the narrative above, my "skin tones" were all various shades of pale. Blondwood (not peach; prismacolor peach is a lighter shade of this very vivid pink and only works if you're coloring the skin on a pig), Tan, Creme, Brick Beige; the one thing they all had in common is that they were all pale (with, as the case with some, yellow underscoring them). Browns had their own category, which I called "earth tones". 

I did not even register that. I just didn't. I erased an entire group of people and replaced them with dirt.

I recognize it today. I no longer separate my markers like that. I don't have a "skin tone" category, since I can use just about any marker ranging from creme to my dark browns* to represent skin tones (if I did break it up properly, that category would be about 75% of my maker total). I don't even break them up; they're all lumped in two boxes sitting in the corner of my room, but when I did after that, they were done strictly by color: blues, oranges, yellows (which included blondwood, creme, and brick beige), browns, blacks, whites, grays, reds (which included the umbers) and so on and so forth.

It took my mom pointing it out to me that how I was dividing the markers back then was racist. And the irony of that is my mom is not an egalitarian; she will admit she is a racist individual who does not like Black people**. It's never been very prominent, and I've only seen it on display once or twice. So I'm still not entirely sure, reflecting back on that story, how it turned out the way it did, and why, of all people, she was the one to point that out.

But yes, this is what people mean when they say you have privilege. It was nothing malicious on my part. It was not me intending to erase an entire population, completely and utterly, and prioritize "Earth colors" over them (which is stupid in retrospect; "earth colors" are everything from brown to blue, with green, orange, yellow, and everything else thrown in the mix). It wasn't me intentionally expressing some unconscious dislike for individuals with dark skin (which include more than just Africans; this includes Dravidians, some Pacific Islanders, Australian Natives, and some Southeast Asian populations, among others).

It was ignorance. That's all it was. And it doesn't excuse it at all; but it's like any mistake. You pick up and you learn from it. And that's what I did, and that's what I'm still doing.

* Dark brown is as dark as I can get when I'm using markers. If I wanted to create a darker skin tone (I know they exist) then I would do something like "Dark brown, dark umber, black", but I'd never use black as a solid, base color for a picture (because I rely on going from "light to dark" to create the illusion of depth, and there's not many colors darker than black. Also because I ink my pictures using black ink, which complicates it just a touch).

** My mom, and a few people that I know, makes a distinction between "good" black people and "bad" black people. It's a distinction that, growing up, I never understood. I point it out every time it gets brought up: If they're lazy good for nothings, why not just call them lazy good for nothings, since that's what we call whites who are like that (and don't get me started on passing judgement on people like that; until you understand their circumstances, you cannot morally make these judgement calls about people), instead of calling them niggers? And guess what? They don't have an answer, and it's because they don't know why, other than it being blind habit.

Maybe I'm the reverse. Rather than blaming the poor black people for the collapse of my neighborhood, and the collapse of my city, I'm more apt to blame the rich white people, since they're the ones with the money, the power, and the capability to come in and help us fix it - but they actively chose not to, and instead, continue to exploit poor people, black, white, Asian, Native, and any other group. Somehow, I feel the reverse is less acceptable socially, even though it's definitely the more moral of the two. And it's definitely not, like I heard some brain-dead libertarian tell me, "economic discrimination" because they have more money. Nobody chose to be black. You chose to be rich. You have all of the responsibility that comes along with it; the first thing Spiderman teaches is us that with great power comes great responsibility; money is power in this society. You don't want that responsibility? Give up the power, and the money with it. Stop being rich. It's a lot easier to stop being rich than it is to stop being black.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

The Age of the Post Hero

Before I go anywhere here, let me explain where I've been.

Near the end of last month, we had a scare with my dad. He hurt himself pretty badly (a TBI, or traumatic brain injury for those who don't speak medicine), and had to be rushed off to the hospital. He spent the rest of the month there, and after a few scares, made a recovery and now he's home. So there's that to be thankful for.

That said, I do plan to start blogging more - I've sort of let this place hang, and haven't been doing anything with it even before the injury. Part of this is because I'm working on not one but three separate novels right now.

- The Blue Pimpernel: Liquidity, the second Blue Pimpernel book. I've still got the release date set for sometime early next year, but I'm not going to release it before it's ready. I'm making pretty good progress, though; one of the hardest parts of writing a sequel is trying to keep with the feel of the original novel. The Blue Pimpernel had a very distinctive feel to it; the first part of the book was laced with a pervading sense helplessness and despair; the second half of the book was underscored by a very strong sense of hope. I'm trying to balance those two feelings, and it can be rather difficult at times and requires fine tuning. The third book, Entropy, has been outlined already and is just waiting for me to finish Liquidity. ~14,000 words in the most recent draft (the finished book is over 90,000 words). This novel calved off of Entropy; Entropy actually has a finished draft, but that draft was over 300,000 words, which was twice what the first novel was and unacceptably long. So I split the beginning off and Liquidity developed from that. The benefit of this is that Liquidity ... ahem... flows well into Entropy.

- Terra Firma, my first and thus far my only long going transhuman novel. And by transhuman, I mean "utterly and uncompromisingly embraces the future." I've taught myself French for this novel (granted, I taught myself French so Aya could speak it too. In fact, French appears a lot in most of my works: I grew up watching Sesame Street broadcasts in Quebecois, and I could speak conversational French Quebecois by the time I was entering Elementary School. American schools being what they are, I never spoke another foreign language again until High School, and by that time, my command of French had atrophied. Not helping was that the language I chose was German, a language unlike French in a lot of ways, so I didn't really come back to French with intention of using it until.. less than 4 years ago.)   Terra Firma is set on Voyageur, an aerostat in the Venusian atmosphere. Voyageur is a cross-section of the Francophone world, featuring a relatively large cast of Indians (the main character is a Tamil woman), Africans (one of the secondary characters is an Somali pseudo-male), Southeast Asians and some Polynesians, influenced strongly by French culture. I'll have more on Terra Firma as the novel progresses from its early stages, but I'll say this: the novel embodies every single philosophic point I count as a virtue - it's uncompromisingly pro-democracy, pro-post-scarcity, pro-transhumanism and technoprogressive, and the driving conflict of the story is whether or not to terraform Venus and make it into a new Earth, and the conflict it generates between the different factions, along with the underhanded political dealings. This novel was as heavily influenced by Orion's Arm and GURPS Transhuman Space as it was by Eclipse Phase (perhaps it was influenced more by the previous two than by the latter, since Eclipse Phase is very dark, and this novel can only be described as much preppy post-cyberpunk as it is preppy post-human). ~47,000 words as of the first pre-draft. Outlander eventually evolved into this book.

- White Rabbit, Black Swan, the bastard child of Enlightened satire and popular culture, this particular novel is where I go when I get really mad at something. It's plot is relatively simple and straight froward; this simple and strong plot allows be built a lot of satire around it, and cram it full of references to everything from Alice in Wonderland and Gulliver's Travels (to major influences) to Cosmos and even The Flintstones. Some topics that I satirize/mercilessly make fun of include the prosperity gospel, Rapture theology, Randian theology, the current "politics of popularity", and anti-vaccination and other air-head leftist anti-science ideologies. Think Alice in Wonderland + Gulliver's Travels + Rifts + political pop culture and you're getting close. ~29,000 words as of the rough draft. I don't have a clear source for where this book came from, but it's been relatively consistent in every draft since I first started it some 4 years ago.

So, now you know where I am and what I've been up too, what I've been up too, and what works I'm involved in at the moment. I plan to do more blogging in the future, though, so don't fear!

Now, onto my observations for the day.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

More Christian Evil; Why Religion is Child Abuse Reason #1,340,230,000

  • State authorities have responded to at least 165 allegations of abuse and neglect in the past decade, but homes have remained open even after the state found evidence of sex abuse and physical injury.
  • The religious exemption has for decades allowed homes to avoid state restrictions on corporal punishment. Homes have pinned children to the ground for hours, confined them in seclusion for days, made them stand until they wet themselves and exercised them until they vomited.
  • Children have been bruised, bloodied and choked to unconsciousness in the name of Christian discipline. A few barely escaped with their lives. In addition, in two settled lawsuits, a mother said her son was forced to hike on broken feet; a father said his son was handcuffed, bound at the feet, locked away for three days and struck by other boys at the instruction of the home.
  • Adults have ordered children to participate in the punishment, requiring them to act as jailers, to bully troublemakers or to chase, tackle and sit on their peers.
  • Teens have been denounced as sinners, called "faggots" and "whores," and humiliated in front of their peers for menstrual stains and suspicions of masturbation.
  • Parents share the blame. Some sign away their children for a year or more without first visiting a home or checking credentials. But state officials bear some responsibility because they have not warned the public about programs they believe are abusive.
  • Florida taxpayers have supported some unlicensed homes with hundreds of thousands of dollars in McKay scholarships — a government program to help special needs students pay tuition at private schools.
Smaller government; YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK! Christan Love! Can you feel it, or do we have to HIT YOU HARDER? Fucking monsters, every last one.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Things That Piss Me Off About Fiction

This is just a quick list of the things that get under my skin about fiction these days. For those wondering where I've been, I'm up to my eyeballs in work (they cut back my hours, but holy fuck if I couldn't tell given they've got me pulling several 9 hour days a week now), and I'm working on three separate project: The Second Blue Pimpernel novel; a transhuman novel called Terra Firma, which concerns itself with politics, journalism, and the ethics of terraforming Venus; and a perennial favorite of mine, White Rabbit, Black Swan, I book I can't describe without you thinking I'm on some kind of narcotic.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

And... To Restore It

Here - 21 pictures that will restore your faith in humanity.

I almost cried at 18 and 19.

Just Incase You Felt Faith In Humanity This Week...

I actually don't like that statement, because it reeks too much of the whole "people totally depraved" that Calvinism and other extreme branches of Christian philosophy teach. But there are days when I'm shocked by the wanton cruelty, and I can't help but reach for the phrase because of how callous people are capable of being.

Anyway, If you haven't heard about the story of Amanda Todd, this will be a little out of the blue. I haven't read the entire story yet - to be honest, I'm not sure that I could - but I know the general gist of it. It's a horrifying example of the downside of social networking and the internet, and it's enough to turn anyone into a neo-luddite until you remember that shit like this has been with us from the days of lynching post-cards in the Great American Halcyon Age (Circa Nineteen-Fifty-Didnotexist to Ninteen-Fifty-Neverwill) that Right wing hucksters and self-aggregating fraudsters are working so hard to take us back to.

I won't repeat the story here, simply because that'd be rehashing the wheel and right now I'm not entirely sure I'd be capable of doing it anyway: Jason Thibeault has an excellent summation of it here, and really, the whole thing is so upsetting that it makes you question why you bothered getting out of bed.

So naturally, the positive, upbeat, and upstanding corners of the Atheist community, who certainly are not jackasses in the slightest and are pinnacle of upright citizens, are out and about and gleefully sharing their pitiful little opinions about this. This was a young girl who committed suicide; who cried for help, and gets all the wonderful wisdom of Youtube heaped on her in return.

And to make matters worse, the Amazing Atheist (seriously, there's nothing at all amazing about this fucker unless you take into consideration his ego, the self-entitlement issues, or any other negative traits, in which case the moniker is very deserved) Asshole TJ Kincade of Louisana just had to give his opinion, because anymore, it means so much to the Internet, you know. According to one of the commentators on this thread, it's " “I am the other hundreds of thousands of people who died today OTHER than Amanda Fucking Todd.” I've not seen the video. I have no intention of seeing the video. I have, however, seen the picture over at Manboobz.

Right there: that's proof religion is not the cause of all the evil in the world. That's proof any moral argument his type of atheist had made against religion is little more than thin veneer; an excuse to try and feel "superior" to believers, because they haz Teh Lahjickz!

One of the major reasons I don't mock all people with religion is because it's not polite, and at any given time, 90% of my friends on FB are Christian (I have, at most, 4 or 5 atheist friends. Of over 280 friends; I knew fewer Jewish people, but I know 1 or 2), and I respect them. Another reason is that, as TJ up there proves, it doesn't matter whether you have religion or not: assholes are gonna be assholes, regardless what they do or don't believe in.

My guess is that this is his attempt a "moral argument." And while there's a whole hell of a lot wrong with that - just because someone else has a broken arm doesn't mean your sprained wrist stops hurting, to use an analogy, or to be more apt, just because someone is suffering doesn't take away from the fact that you're still hurting, too - one of the bigger, unseen issues here is this: It's hard to make a moral argument when you don't have any morals yourself.

Her loss is a horrifying and sad reminder of just how broken we are as a society and as a species. His reaction is proof we have a very hard fight if we're going to give the appearance of improving.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Want An Idea of Why Our Science Scores Are Crap?

Paul Broun is a Representative from Georgia. Now, it goes without saying that he's got an R in front of his name; this is Georgia we're talking about here. If I saw traces of the 20th century from that State I'd be shocked. He's a Congresscritter, so my expectations of his knowledge weren't very high, and being a republican, I'm pretty sure someone stole that low bar and buried it somewhere in the Dead Sea.

But here's something else interesting about Paul Broun.

You see, this man was appointed on congress to set on the House Science Committee. So really, I'd sort of expect something better than this:
"God's word is true. I've come to understand that. All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the big bang theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell," said Broun, who is an MD. "It's lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior."
"You see, there are a lot of scientific data that I've found out as a scientist that actually show that this is really a young Earth. I don't believe that the earth's but about 9,000 years old. I believe it was created in six days as we know them. That's what the Bible says."
You've seen a lot of scientific data. Show it to me, you fucking lair.

Don't ask me why I'd expect something better than that from a Republican elected official from Georgia, but being on the House Science Committee... I dunno. No, really, I don't know why he's even there. Him sitting on that committee is fucking stupid even by congressional standards.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Indentured Labor

Welcome, citizen. 

To ensure the safety of our democracy from outside tampering, please make submit your identification card, and present your eye for a retinal scan. Please do not forget to pay the mandatory 25 cents. Thank you for your cooperation. 

Our databanks have identified you as an individual currently receiving government finances. Please submit your identification card again, as well as the last check stub that you received. Thank you. While we scan your identification card, we would like you take this time to answer to answer the following questions. When you are done, click submit and your name with the answers will be attached to the back of the voter form to ensure voter accuracy in the event that there should be fraud. Please not that you must answer all of the questions correctly to vote today. Please note that all answers will be made public:

Question 1. 

Answer with a simple Y/N: Have you not started looking for a job yet? ____

Question 2. 
In order to vote, you must first have a job. This is to confirm your status as an American Citizen. Please identify the last position that you are still working at. ______________________________

Question 3. 
Our records indicate that you have 3 children at home under your care, and are African-American and a single woman. Do you make use of our public school system?  Y/N _____ Have you stopped buying your children expensive shoes? Y/N ____ Have you stopped purchasing expensive cars? Y/N____

Question 4.
Read the following passage and state exactly what it means below:
Extended revolutionary methodologies must be applied in order to ensure the growth of our current mission-based relationships, thereby ensuring innovative, out-of-the-box, paradigm-rearranging systems that help the survival of our democracy. Empowering bleeding-edge logistical facilities means granting that certain freedoms must be integrated into point-and-click mortar initiatives.
Please provide what the phrase means exactly here: ______________________________________

Question 5. 
Answer with a simple Y/N: In the event that your identification is no longer valid, you will be notified that you are required to renew your identification. Renewing identification requires a valid identification card, so in the event that this happens, do you have a valid identification card? ______

Question 6.
You submit that your name will be attached to the vote, so in the event that the vote returns as a fraudulent vote, the law will be notified of you and your current whereabouts. You must agree to this in order to participate in the American Electoral System. I Agree ____
Thank you for your time, citizen. We have determined that your card is no longer valid, as you are currently receiving government aid in the form of EBT, and your last purchase indicates that you bought $23.30 in cigarettes and alcohol using non-EBT money, invalidating your current identification due to abuse of government funds. Your status has been changed on the government network, and your identification has been tagged with this abuse for all to see. Would you like to present a valid identification card? 

There are countless alternative questions for number 3. Because I live in a city that's majority African-American (one of the few places in the country like that), I'm very familiar with all of the stereotypes, because I hear them all the time from the white people who live here. Any stereotype here will do, but because we all know that Poor = Black, stereotypes about African Americans work best for this circular question.

Speaking of poor = black, you'd think that Mitt Romney would have gotten the hang of knowing when to keep his mouth shut. That doesn't seem to be the case, though: apparently 47% of America supports Obama, and that 47% has no initiative, are leeches on society, and are just in general fucking lazy.

Thing is, that's almost half. That's 47% of people who he will never have on his side.

In a better world, in a better country, that would've torpedoed his chance. As it is, there are people in this nation who will read my little introduction up there and say "That's cool! We need to do something like that to keep them lazy [insert pejorative here] from voting!"

And yes. This is what it feels like trying to vote in the United States sometimes. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Once Again, It's This Stuff Again

So, the clowns in Georgia (yep. To quote Adam Savage: There's your problem) are setting up for a fight with the ACLU and the rest of the civilized world. They've set up the Ten Commandments inside of a court house (Why do they do that? Why; of all the places to put them, why blaspheme them by sticking them up in front of one of the most dysfunctional justice systems on the planet?), and to my knowledge, even passed a bill making it "perfectly legal" to do so.

The common argument I routinely here is that they're the foundation for American Law and the foundation for Western Law. Western Law I can't speak too, but I know they sure as hell are not the foundation for American Law; explicitly, the Constitution.

How so? A lot of atheists say that, but very few of them actually stop to explain the number of ways that the Ten Commandments violate the Constitution, expecting people to either know or go and look it up themselves. Well, I have some free time tonight (and an earache; the sinus infection wasn't bad enough, you know. I really hate living in this state, with it's unpredictable weather), so I'm going to lay out exactly how and why the Constitution, if it was inspired by the Bible and the Ten Commandments, as is so commonly claimed, it was as an example of what not to do in a system of law.

The very first thing you have to do when talking about this is decide which of the various versions you want to use. Exodus and Deuteronomy both give two versions with their major and minor differences, and each Christian sect has their own variation on the theme. There are some things that run in common, however, but they're not as many as you would think. When you think about it, the very concept of a "generic" list of 10 Commandments is offensive to at least some Christian sect somewhere, because "generic" usually means "dominate group", which in this case would be some form of Baptist. Because it becomes a theological clusterfuck trying to determine which set to use, however, I'm going to just role with whatever set is easiest for me to find - and because Wikipedia is there for me, and Exodus comes before Deuteronomy, that's the version I'm going to be using. I have no fetish for "original commandments" because, if you recall, Moses supposedly broke the original ones on the ground when he saw that the Americans were worshiping Adam Smith, money, and the golden idol of Capitalism Hebrews worshiping the golden calf, so I personally couldn't care less. I just need an example list to show you how wrong this is, so Exodus will do.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

No Ann, You Still Don't Get it

Ann Romney suffered from MS.

I didn't know that. I feel sorry for her for having to go through that; it's something nobody should have to go through.

It's not going to make me like her or her husband anymore, because I feel both of them are aristocratic assholes who think they're better than everyone else because they've got money, but I am sorry that she had to go through that.

However, this is a message to Mrs. Romney:

Yes, you battled MS. No, that does not make you like us at all.
Ann Romney fired back Wednesday at critics who have accused husband Mitt Romney of being out of touch with average Americans, saying her own bout with multiple sclerosis taught the family what it means to suffer and lose hope.

"When people say that we've led a charmed life and we don't relate to people that are having trouble, I want to remind you that I've been in a very dark place, and I know what it is like to have no hope," Mrs. Romney said at a rally for women supporting her husband, the Republican presidential candidate, at the University of Findlay in Ohio. "So believe me when I tell you these words: We are there for you because we know what it feels like.



This does not you know what it's like to be hopeless or suffer. Yes, the disease is painful (not that I'd know) but you know what? You had the money go and get it treated. You had an insurance company that would cover it. You had insurance, period.
This does nothing to me, other than convince me that you do live a charmed life. Yes, it's a shame you had to go through that; nobody should. But you had the money to get it treated. You had the money to get it fixed, and you had the insurance to help you. Furthermore, you could do it without losing time from work. If I ever got hit with something like that lady, I'd be fucked. There would be no way out for me. My life would be totaled for the next decade while I tired to cover the cost for the medication. I thankfully do not have MS. I hope never to get MS, and nobody should have to suffer through it. But suffering through it, Ann Romney, does not make you special. It does not automatically make you "one of us" because suddenly you know what it's like to "lose hope and suffer".

You have no idea what that's really like.

Take your silver spoon and go enjoy your cake, Ann. Stop trying to pretend that just because you had a terrible disease you suddenly understand what it's like to be poor and get the same disease, not be able to work, have several children at home, and be working temporary (or worse, have been working at a company that your husband ran... into the dirt). A nasty sinus infection cost me $31.00 in lost money at work. It cost me $100.00 in medication. I live on less than $15,000 a year. The only reason I can afford that is because I'm still stuck at home.


You do not know what it's like. You have lived a charmed life, and you are a very self-centered woman to think that having a disease, when you have the money and the wealthy to treat it, is enough to make you "just like" the poor person who can't even scrap together enough money to pay for OTC cold medication when what they've really got is walking pneumonia. You have a lot of chutzpah to sit there an say that you know what it's like to lose hope, when you've never felt your heart sink in the doctor's office because someone told you that you need to see a specialist, and there's no way you can afford it. When you need to be back at work the very next day, because you don't get paid leave, even if you are a walking bacteria and virus colony. Money is more important than health to us, Ann, because you and your kind made it that way. You slowly strip us of our dignity, remove the healthcare and the safety nets there to help keep us safe, and then have the gall to say you know what it's like to "suffer" and "lose hope."

No lady, you don't. So stop pretending you do.

Politicized Facts, Politicized Language

I've got another rambling post today; somewhere in here is an idea, I'm almost sure of it. Maybe a couple ideas that might be related tangentially, if I'm lucky. I'm out of it today, for some reason, but I figure it better I post it here and drop it  all on my FB wall. More people can see my rambling here.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Not My Time Machine

There's an excellent essay documenting the nature of white privilege up over on Lean Left. It's a good read; it highlights the nature of white privilege, and lays bare some important points about it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ethical Atheism; A+

There's been some discussion over on FTB about trying to spin a new atheist movement off of the current one; drawing parallels with feminism, it's been likened to "Third Wave". The first two waves were about staking the claim; this one is going to be about cleaning out or own closets. After a discussion (I'll admit, I was not part of), the name Atheism+ was determined, with A+ as the shorthand, for the movement.

For what little it's worth, I like it.

Not only do I get an H+ now, I get an A+, too.

Or maybe I'm an AH+, or a HA+, since my transhumanism is more important to me than atheism - after all, it's hard to build your person and schema around something that doesn't exist. So instead, I'm putting my faith and my belief in the future, and in the advancement and progression of the human species. I don't think we'll have AI Gods anytime soon - although if we do, that might be nice, for a certain value of "nice" - but as a species our best hope for the future is technology and progression. Therefore, I'm Ha+ (there was a chemical joke in here about being a positive ion of Hahnium, but apparently, the IUPAC decided that Dubnium is a better name. Java rejects this, because Dubnium is underlined in red. Of course, so is IUPAC.)

One of the geneses of this movement was the collective of misogynistic assholes that gathered around the atheist movement; snide, dickish, and moronic, these are the guys on Reddit and other internet cesspools. These are also the guys on Dawkin's forum, who deny the existence of racism and misogyny and, if you pull out all of the references to God and the attacks on evolution, don't sound any different than say, the Free Republic.

Well, any new movement has it's own manifesto. This is the first time that I've seen the manifesto for the A+ movement; creating a document that all members of the movement will abide by.

So here it is, in all it's glory.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Being Poor, Part 2

Being poor is being afraid to actually get a medical issue checked out, because you know that your insurance either won't cover all of the medication or even with insurance covering it, it's going to put you behind several weeks on your finding.

Being poor is hearing the word "surgery" and "surgeon" and feeling your heart sink because you know you're never going to have the money to take care of it.

Being poor is looking at your bank account and really wishing you could get that check ahead of time, because goddamn you need the money.

Being poor is posting any kind of trip that you would use to recover yourself or renew yourself after a long and hard quarter indefinitely when you find out that you're ill, and knowing there's not a thing you can do about it.

I'm still suffering from that sinus infection, but I went to the doctor today and learned something else, too: there's a problem with my ear. Thankfully, it's merely impacted earwax, something that can pretty well and truly be dealt with cheaply, but the resident that was working with me scared me when he said "referral to a ENT surgeon" (ENT means Eyes, Nose, and Throat, for those who don't know). I managed to get away with just 60 dollars in medication, and I haven't seen a pay check in better than three weeks and still need to get my oil changed on my car. And I got off lucky.

No, wait. I didn't. By the standards in the United States I got off lucky. But the United States doesn't set these standards anymore.

I'm tried of being thankful for what I have. I'm tried of hearing "You're lucky because..." No. If I were lucky, I'd be living somewhere that wasn't the United States. I'd be living somewhere that wouldn't heft all this shit on me, when I don't even have enough money to get out out of the fucking house on my own.

People say civilization is going to fall; our economy, or society, is built on a pyramid scheme. The pyramid scheme that capitalism built.

Well, hurry the fuck up. Someone put this miserable beast out of its misery, already.

Shut The Fuck Up, Fascist Dog

Joel McDurmon would like you to know that it has an opinion on the whole situation surrounding Todd Akin's ignorant and hateful admission of just how utterly stupid and psychopathic the Republican Party has become lately. When Todd Akin put on display how knowledgeable he was of 14th century medicine, everyone rightly criticized him. He put on display a core belief in the Republican Party today, once again showing how the Republicans do nothing but show contempt towards women.

To Mr. McDurmon: Shut the fuck up, you fascist pigheaded motherfucker self-righteous unholy coprophilic. You caitiff. You backbiting, contemptible, unscrupulous, reprobate misbegotten shit-eating abomination. You're a Backpfeifengesicht. I'm not going to engage you in a debate. I'm not going to be nice. I'm not going to play with the kid gloves because you know what? A debate is carried out when you think you can change someone's mind, or get them to see your side of the equation. Motherfucker, you won't see any side other than your own. You're not going open your eyes. You cannot reason a person out of a position they weren't reasoned into, and you know what? Fucker, you're not even in the same goddamn hemisphere as reason. So I have one thing to say to you, you self-grandiose piece of human detritus: Shut the fuck up.

No, seriously.

Shut. The. Fuck. Up.

I'm not a mean liberal. Hell, I'm just warming up, you arrogant douche. To even suggest that what Todd Akin has received (rightfully) received for his obscene and horrifyingly sociopathic comments is like to [WARNING! This link leads to the full article] gang rape - motherfucker, you need to shut the fuck up like right the fuck now. You needed to shut the fuck up yesterday.


This is not persecution. This is me treating you like the contemptible piece of shit you are. Fuck you, fuck your God, fuck your religion, and fuck everything you stand for you degenerate. You abnormal, vile, pusillanimous, beyond contempt wretched Hell-spawn. 

I'll say it one more time: Shut the fuck up, fascist dog*. Don't justify what you said. Don't try to explain it to me because all I hear is "I think rape is only real rape if the victim is [x]" - you don't have the first fucking clue, you rape apologist. And if you think your God believes that, your stupid fucking God can go fist himself. And there's not a fucking thing your pathetic little God will ever do to me, motherfucker. That's got to chaff your ass, knowing that your God won't do a damn thing to me even though I'm standing up and shouting him down. Because he doesn't even exist. Because the demon you worship is not the God that the majority of right-hearted and caring individuals worship. Your Old Testament Monster Under the Bed can go kiss the fuck off. Just like you, you pig-fucking fascist asshole.

*This comment is not intended to offend dogs. Dogs are intelligent, caring, social creatures. They are friendly, family oriented, and don't care what their masters are so long as their masters feed them, love them, and play with them. DeMar is none of that. He is not intelligent. He is not caring. He might be a social creature, but the social circles he travels through are likely the First or Second layer of Hell. He is not friendly. And he revels in all of the above, believing them to be positive traits. 

Saturday, August 18, 2012

When It Comes To America...

1. Exuberant Nationalism
2. Enemies are Identified
3. Rights Disappear
4. Secrecy Demanded
5. Military Glorified
6. Corporations Shielded
7. Corruption Unchecked
8. Media Controlled
9. Rampant Sexism
10. Intellectual Bullying
11. Militarized Police
12. Elections Stolen

“The split in America, rather than simply economic, is between those who embrace reason, who function in the real world of cause and effect, and those who, numbed by isolation and despair, now seek meaning in a mythical world of intuition, a world that is no longer reality-based, a world of magic.”
Chris Hedges

“Still another danger is represented by those who, paying lip service to democracy and the common welfare, in their insatiable greed for money and the power which money gives, do not hesitate surreptitiously to evade the laws designed to safeguard the public from monopolistic extortion.Their final objective toward which all their deceit is directed is to capture political power so that, using the power of the state and the power of the market simultaneously, they may keep the common man in eternal subjection.They claim to be super-patriots, but they would destroy every liberty guaranteed by the Constitution.They are patriotic in time of war because it is to their interest to be so, but in time of peace they follow power and the dollar wherever they may lead.”
Henry A. Wallace 

And, of course, no conversation is complete without this one:

“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.”
Sinclair Lewis

Friday, August 17, 2012

Toxic Memes and Poor People

I'm at home tonight with sinusitis, so I'm writing this while in pain. It doesn't make me a very happy individual at all, but compared to the pain this damn sinus infection has inflicted upon me before, what I'm feeling now is nothing.

It hurt worse earlier. So bad I had to admit myself into an emergency clinic and now I have to wall my wallet away inside of my tin can so it doesn't strangle me for it. There's a reason I've waited to treat it - I just recently paid for breaks, so I'm hurting financially enough as it is. I was just hoping that if I ignored it, it'd go away. It's been chronic for the last month or so, since the end of the last heatwave. Part of the problem, I'm sure, is the fact that my neighbor is an asshole. this guy hasn't mowed his lawn all summer (being in jail hasn't helped, but I have a right to be mad at the general situation because it's an eye sore and the city should, but won't, do anything about it) but the weeds - gawddamn. They're bigger than I am. And they've spent most of the summer flowering; kicking my allergies way into overdrive. Even my cat has been suffering from allergies this summer. So I'm sure that's what causing it; that and the fact that work they have something in the filters that just makes it utterly unbearable. I stayed at work as long as I could today - I had to clock out early so I could carry myself off to an emergency clinic because it hurt so bad I wanted to cry. I have quite sensitive teeth; any kind of pressure on that nerve makes it unbearable for me. My teeth were literally throbbing today. I could feel them; I can still feel them now. It felt like someone was trying pry my face apart. Motrin didn't even take the edge off. I kept my patience until I realized that I just couldn't do this anymore. It hurt to talk; someone drove a nail through my jaw and lit that nerve that runs along the chin on fire. That's when I left work early, losing 2 hours of pay. I'm on antibiotics now, so hopefully I'll see some improvement before I go back on Tuesday. I have a weekend off to get better, at least.

Anyway, this post stems from something I've seen too many times.

America is a culture of soundbites.

It's a culture that compresses complex ideologies and multifaceted problems into a few words that, at most, give only a cursory and biased glace at the problem itself. This is what happens when you have a culture of soundbites. As a result, people begin to think in soundbites and begin to expect immediate solutions to present themselves almost as easily as the soundbites are tossed out by our ignoble leaders.

This isn't the first one of these that I've seen, but it is the most recent. And I've commented on almost every one that I've seen, including several arguments with people who thought they supported this stuff. I can't say how many minds I've changed; I doubt the people who support measures and rhetoric like this want their mind changed (as Fred Clark calls it, the "Good Jackie/Bad Jackie test". To my understanding, it works like this: if you tell someone some wild and fanciful story they're repeating is a lie/wrong, how do they react? If they react with "oh, I didn't know that", then you're looking at Good Jackie. If they get mad because you're telling them the truth and they storm off, then you're looking at a Bad Jackie. Most importantly, I reserve the right to be wrong about this. I hurt, y'all. This is not fun).

So, America is a culture of easy and simple soundbites for complex and complicated problems. Here's a very simple solution approach to a problem so complex it has bedeviled people since society first began.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

David Brin Nails It

I've not really read anything by Brin. The way I view David Brin is a clear depiction how even people with the same overall philosophy can have conflicts (Brin strikes me as being hypercapitalist/libertarian devoted towards a transparent society. I'm a hypersocialist/anarcho-communist devoted towards a transparent society. This is a far bigger gulf than it appears). However, most of the time - especially in the realm of popular culture - I find myself agreeing with him. Especially on matters of Romanticism in popular culture.

I recently discovered his essay on J.R.R. Tolkien and his take on the Lord of the Rings saga. I've read the Lord of the Rings - I think this is mandatory reading for any geek or nerd, so I'm good there - but at the time I read it, I didn't realize what it was preaching. I understood the fundamental anti-industry message that it sent, but being the person I am, I took it in a different way (unregulated, unwatched industry is not productive. Unregulated industry is destructive. Witness: the recent economic boondoggle that everyone keeps saying is getting better when it's really not. This was caused by unregulated banking industries; I view banks as enemies too, for what it's worth). I missed the aristocracy-promotion in the books initially.

Brin nails all that in more in his essay. This is probably my favorite quote from it:
Which brings us to another of the really cool things about fantasy — identifying with a side that’s 100 percent good. You can revel as they utterly annihilate foes who deserve to be exterminated because they are 100 percent distilled evil. This may not be politically correct, but then, political correctness is really a bastard offspring of egalitarian-scientific enlightenment. Witness the sometimes saccharine p.c.-sweetness of “Star Trek.”

Romanticism never made any pretense at equality. It is hyperdiscriminatory, by nature. (Have you ever actually read Byron or Shelley?) Whole classes of people are less worthy, less deserving of life, than other classes. The Nazis were archetypal Romantics.
I dislike the 100% good/evil. I think it's too simplistic. It's why I don't have classic supervillains in The Blue Pimpernel, and it's why I'm trying to make the Parties and the Families more sympathetic at the same time. There are no 100% good people. There are people who have motivations that are productive to society and those who have motivations that are destructive to society.

Take for instance, the Families. The criminal Families - there are more than one of them, but referring to them as one entity works, especially because Ari is there to bridge the gaps and attempt to help them act as one entity. The Families appear like traditional criminal families like the mafia. That's true to a degree, but the Families are also enterprises. They have an investment in the communities that they operate in. The Families support the local political machine because there's next to no tax base to support the Party at the local level. The Families, in turn, make their money by controlling the underground economy. They offered up - safe - medical services that were beyond the price tag of people or that were illegal. For instance, abortion; the Families brought aboard clinics and staffed clinics that would carry out this procedure. Birth control and other illegal materials were all for sale, you just had to know where to look. The Families would come in, kill off or absorb all of the competing gangs, and start to prop the community. They went so far as to help renovate areas and open up "banks" to help people get money they needed to pay off debt. Because the Families were primarily criminal enterprises, these were done with less-than-altruistic intentions. They were establishing a new economy based on the ownership of people who signed up for help. If you went to the Families for help you would get that help. But you would sign your entire life to them. So are the Families 100% evil? Or are they just a business? I personally can't see how the Families are any different from how banks operate today in the United States, aside from the fact that the Families appear to be more useful from a societal stand point. It's morally repugnant, but if you're offended by the Families and you vote Republican, you're a hypocrite.

The Party is not evil. The Party is pretty well and truly useless as a government; it's hopelessly compromised and corrupted at the local level, there's no legal elections anymore so there's no change of authority unless something drastic happens. At the national level, there are still those who believe in Democracy - these people tend to get elected from places like the North East, California, Oregon, and Washington. There are still agencies that work to serve - the FBI, while corrupt in some ways, still works with altruistic intentions, despite being crippled by the state's-rightists. Overall, it's so backwards-looking it's never evolved, and that stagnation has crushed it. They're also hopelessly divided and fractured; the Party is extreme by today's standards, but just remember the fringe expands with each year and what was extreme 10 years ago seems to be the norm today. The Party is actually moderate compared the elements that make it up. The first and most visible split in the Party in the party is between the Religious Extremists - who view the Party as not being extreme enough and not killing enough people in the name of God - and the Corproatists, who couldn't care less what God thinks so long as they continue to turn a profit. It's a collective of white men who couldn't be less unified if they tried; they've hopelessly failed the country, they've hopelessly failed as a government, but they continue because they are 100% certain that they're right and everyone else is wrong - with a certain value for "everyone else", because without their boogiemen, they fell apart. The Party requires the Families to even survive, especially at the local levels.

The 100% evil thing is cheating, in my opinion, and it often has negative implications.

Anyway, the essay is a great essay. You should check it out.

Also, an update: I finished my first rough draft (or came close enough to it for my own tastes) of the novella that bridges The Blue Pimpernel and Entropy. As I was writing Entropy I realized that Entropy was trying to do too much - rather than release Entropy as a crammed book, I went back to the drawing board. I hewed the first part of Entropy off and turned it into a novella bridging the two books; it's called Liquidation.

I finished the first rough draft of Liquidation. Now that I know what I want out of it, I've started work on the second rough draft (my writing style means I create at least two rough drafts of a work before I'm happy with it; I created 15 rough drafts of The Blue Pimpernel before I was satisfied, but I don't intend to do that again). I'll start posting sections from Liquidation in the near future, so watch this space.