Monday, April 30, 2012

Taking Bumpersticker Logic to New Lows

What... what the Jesus fuck is this? (Warning! WND Link)

I mean, sure, the language is English. The syntax, grammar, and semantics are generally correct. But boy howdy, whatever the hell is going on inside of this author's mind needs to be shoved away in the dark corner of a box, where nobody can see it.

I'm not even sure where to start here. I mean, I thought I knew all of the right-wing conspiracy theories. All of the stuff about the tin foil hats and the United Nations black helicopters, that Bircher-Communist crap, Birferism, FOX news being an actual news station - you know, the standard conspiracy hamster wheel that the right gets themselves mentally trapped in. I was wrong. I was oh so wrong...

Strong Characters

Having started writing The Blue Pimpernel 6 years ago, it's hard for me to remember exactly what my intention was going into the story. I remember a few parts of it; the largest part of which was so I could try to remember what it was like being a teenager, to keep that fresh in my mind so I would have something to work with as a teacher (I started my teacher prep program right around the same time I started writing the novel; I was 20/21 when I started working on it, so I was coming right off of my teen years). I also remember starting to write it because I was tried of certain stereotypes and I wanted to undermine them - some of which is still visible even in the final copy, six years later: for instance, Renee's parents are the typical white/Asian paring... except it's her mom who's white, and her dad who's Korean.

One thing I didn't think about then was the idea of creating "a strong female character." I spend a lot of time as a lurker around the feminist blogosphere and I read a lot of feminist critiques of media; whether it's comics, literature, movies, TV or vidya games. When I first started reading it, I found it interesting that there was nothing so more reviled than "the strong female character." At first, I couldn't help but wonder why that was. Weren't strong female characters good? Well, as it turns out, no, they're not. In fact, they're bad for not only women, but they're bad for men, too. (Warning: comic below the fold may be NSFW, but it's a funny comic nevertheless):

Monday, April 23, 2012

Update on the Blue Pimpernel

Update: the Blue Pimpernel is now available through the iBookstore. So if you have an iPad, iPod, or iPhone, you don't have to go to Lulu to buy the book - you can just search for it using your iBooks app.

The next step is for the Barnes & Noble Nook. Keep your eyes peeled on this space for further updates!

A Rant On Literature

There's been a few things the last few days that have pushed this to the forefront of my mind, but the final straw was today when I received a package in the mail. At first, I had no idea what it was. Then I opened up and saw the "Alligator Juniper" label on the front cover and I remembered.

A while back (last October) I entered a short story contest. I got the notification in February that the story hadn't been selected for publication. Following a brief firestorm I ignited due to my ... hostile relationship with what gets called "literary fiction," this was basically a slap in the face.

I'm a person of many dislikes. I make them all known. Chief among them is stupid people. A few rungs below that, is what gets considered "literary fiction." Now, this is not some kind of artificial distinction that I myself make. Over the course of my education, this is something that was beat into my skull; there is literature with a "Capital L", which is special. Lit fic, it gets called. Then there's lower case literature, which is another way to say "genre fiction." I'm a genre fiction writer. I enjoy writing genre fiction, but it hasn't always been that way.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Oh Goodie! A Dialogue!

h/t Dispatches

Why the hell don't I get these emails? Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the "Meet hot girls now" and "date hot Asian ladies" spam in my mailbox (not really; spamfilters GO!), but why can't once in a while get something like this? Maybe I don't know enough creationists, or I'm not on enough mailing lists. Whatever the case, while browsing Dispatched from the Culture Wars today, I came across this excellent little dialogue that Ed had posted.

As my readers know, I love a good chance to snark at something. So there's no way I'm going to pass up this opportunity. Picture the scene: The back drop is set. The lecture hall is full, and the professor is getting ready to give a lecture. It could be a professor of anything; cosmology to astrophysics to nanochemistry to unicorn biology - Fundies who write and enjoy this stuff can't tell the difference. The point is, he's getting ready to give his lecture. In steps the brave and noble (always White, always Male) student. He clears his throat and interjects, interrupting the classroom. The mandatory black guy in the corner is going "Aaawww hell naw" and the room is a deep hush. The stage is set for an intellectual Battle of the Titans - but because that would outstrip our budget constraints, we give you these two strawmen, instead:

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Ridiculousness of Superheroine Costumes

As I wrote my novel, The Blue Pimpernel, I was well aware of how ridiculous superhero costumes often are. The spandex tends to be very unflattering, and capes are a stupid idea. So as I was writing the novel, I made a conscious effort to stay away from unflattering costumes. The girls are, as one of the villains in the second novel describes them, "Goodwill cases"; a description that sums up their costumes quite well. Renee sums it up even better when she refers to them as "rejects from the 1970s".

I was even more aware of it because I'm dealing with female superheroes. And there seems to be a rule of thumb anymore - female costumes are supposed to reveal as much as possible just shy of being outright pornographic, while male costumes on the other hand...

So yeah, this is another look at sexism in comics. It's me taking a look, in particular, at the nature of costumes.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Blue Pimpernel is Avaliable as an eBook!

A new announcement - my novel, The Blue Pimpernel, is finally available in eBook format. You can find the link for that here: The Blue Pimpernel. It should, in theory, become available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, too. I'll let you know when that happens.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

A Grammar Question

So this came up at work today, and I figured I'd ask around.

The subject we were discussing was turning nouns to verbs. We talked about how many nouns were also verbs, and how fluid English was in this regard. Well, on noun inevitably came up: Google. Google as a noun is a proper noun, because it refers to a noun representing a unique entity (in this case, the company Google). Like any noun, Google is has also become a verb. So the question raised was this: does one capitalize Google when using it as a verb? That is, "I had G/googled the answer?" It's a transitive verb, which means it's passing the action of the object onto the subject of the sentence: "I [sub.] had G/googled [verb. trans.] the answer [dir. obj.]." So it's regarded as a normal class of verb, serving a functional part of the sentence.

Normally, we wouldn't capitalize a verb. However, this verb is derived from a proper noun. In capitalizing it, we would turn it into one of English's handful of "proper verbs" - verbs that must always be capitalized. The further confuse matters, we capitalize adjectives derived from proper nouns; cf. Japanese, Australian, French, Korean, American, and we also capitalize adverbs derived from proper nouns, however rare they are; cf "We have regularly received enquiries regarding the availability of Islamic finance products, in particular Islamically compatible finance to purchase both residential and commercial properties".

Why wouldn't you capitalize a verb derived from an proper noun? Further more, wouldn't that make it a "proper verb", seeing as how the above are called "proper adjectives/adverbs/nouns"?

There's a few cases against it: boycott is derived from a proper noun. So is xerox. Neither of them are capitalized when used as a verb. However, "Canadianize", or "Americanize", are verbs that are capitalized. So would you extend the capitalization then to "Photoshop", "YouTube", and "Google" as well?

I'm of the belief that you should. And I think an entirely new class of verb needs to be created and called "proper verb" to reflect the changing and evolving nature of the language. Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts. I'm curious.

I Hate Illinois Nazis. Everyone Hates Illinois Nazis

Or, in this case, Floridian Nazis.

This is actually really scary. This is actually what happens when you let individual like this run amok. By their own admission, they're down there to "prevent race riots," which I translate as "shoot Black people and race traitors". They're doing the Police's job; the same police department that so horribly botched the murder investigation of Trayvon Martin. A murder that lead to this whole situation, that would likely have never reached this point - where animalistic conservatives are frothing at the mouth at the thought of demonizing a young Black teenage male while accusing liberals of race bating and projecting their own racism - had Trayvon been White. One that most certainly wouldn't have happened had Zimmerman been Black and Trayvon been White.

This is really going to make the situation better. Hell, I can see all sorts of lollypops and rainbow-shitting unicorns out of this deal. I know that it says the police haven't received any reports, but hey, they didn't arrest anyone for what was obviously a murder, so why the fuck should I believe what they say?

What's more, these particular Nazis call themselves the "White's Civil Right movement."

Nazis. The White's Civil Rights movement. This isn't appropriation of the term "Civil Rights". See, appropriation is highly offensive. This is well beyond merely "highly offensive."

There's so much wrong there I can barely begin to fathom it. That's a Calabi-Yau Manifold of  Absolute Wrong. Just when you think you've unwrapped that singular point in space time, you realize there are about six or seven other dimensions of wrongness that you totally overlooked. Reality parsed at the quantum level makes more sense than that statement does. It's like a singularity of malevolent stupid. What reality looks like on the other side of that singularity I can't contemplate, but I can guarantee that natural laws do not apply as we know them.

The murder of Trayvon Martin is one of the most racially charged crimes to happen in years. And what it's dredging up is the ugly history of American racism, and the ugly present of American racism. And as always, instead of having a conversation, and listening to the other side, the Conservatives are screaming like they're getting their teeth pulled without anesthetic. They just do not want to listen. They refuse. But then, this is nothing new. And with them, the vast majority of White men and White people, including non-Conservatives, in the United States.

New rule: if you deny racism exists, you cannot call yourself a Liberal. If you deny the existence of racism, you cannot call yourself a rationalist, either.

Nazis are now the White's Civil Rights movement. Someone please stop this ride, I want off.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Feathered Dinosaur Fossil = Boneheaded Creationists

First, some exciting dinosaur news.

Growing up, I was infatuated with dinosaurs. What kid wasn't? They were big, giant reptiles that walked the Earth millions of years ago. Some of them flew, some of them swam, most of them were larger than Teapublicans but without the diapers or the Medicare-paid electric scooters, and arguably a hell of a lot smarter.

So out of China, we get an exciting new discovery: A feathered dinosaur called Yutyrannus hali; which is the largest feathered dinosaur discovered to date. Y. hali is a tyrannosauroid, or a member of the Tyrannosauroidea superfamily/clade. As you can probably tell by the name, this includes one of the most famous dinosaurs of all time, Tyrannosaurus rex, but the family also included a number of other coelurosaurian theropods. The name means "hollow tailed lizards", and while not an official designation anymore, it's still used to encompass species like the compsognathids, tyrannosaurs, ornithomimosaurs, and maniraptorans, the last category of which includes another very famous dinosaur - Velociraptor (mongoliensis and osmolskae, the creatures in Jurassic Park were actually an amalgam of several different dinosaurs, and would more accurately be called Deinonychus antirrhopus, but Velociraptor sounds cooler). It also includes the smartest dinosaur to ever walk the face of the planet, Troodon formosus, a dinosaur with  EQ six times that of your other dinosaur species (which isn't saying much, considering that puts it roughly on the same tier as ducks).

The feathers on Y. hali are more like down than they are any rigid feather, so they resemble the fluff that baby chicks are born with. Because we have a rough idea that T. rex (more accurately, the family) evolved into birds, we can look at this fossil and we can compare it to new born birds and it just further backs up my notion that the development of an embryo from a single-celled organism up through to a complete organism is a replay of evolution. Every time you watch a child conceive, develop, and eventually arrive on the scene, it's reliving some stage of evolution - the entire process of conception to birth is about 6 billion years of evolution condensed into 9 months. It maybe inexact, but it's pretty damn close. After all, chicks are born with down that develop as they age into feathers, while many millions of years ago, dinosaur chicks might not have been born with the down at all, and developed it as they aged. Evolution is building blocks stacked on other building blocks. Somewhere inside of your chicken or turkey is the DNA to resurrect Velociraptor (in fact, if I were going to resurrect it, I wouldn't use frog DNA like they did in the movie. That's just stupid. You'd pick a species closer to the dinosaurs, like turkeys. Because God knows picking eagles or falcons is just asking for it).

Which brings me to my next issue:

Yahoo! comments are not a place one goes looking when they want intelligent commentary on an issue. That's like expecting a civil, intelligent YouTube conversation. So half the the time, I suspect that 90% of the comments are determined trolls trying to piss everyone off and the other 10% are idiots who actually believe the stuff the trolls are spewing. Anytime someone brings a science issue, you can break them down into predictable comments:

The "Yeah, this is cool" guy who adds nothing to the conversation but seeks to make it known that his opinion is most certainly, "this is cool." Capitalization is optional. May over lap with the same guy who says "this is boring, why don't you talk about REAL news" or "what happened to real news anymore" guy.

The "why the hell are they doing this when they should be curing CANCER" guy, who doesn't seem to understand that paleontology or cosmology doesn't have anything to do with genetics or biomedicine. This, however, will not stop him from accusing the scientists involved of lining their own pockets with the research money and then somehow giving kick backs to the guys in Washington D.C.

Related to the above is the "skeptic", who believes that they're just making this stuff up to get money. Because that's not how they remembered being taught back in High School. No sir.

The Mayan 2012/New Agey guy, who is certain that scientists believe they know everything and that by achieving quantum awareness with Ramthauxuamathamaxqkl, the 35,000 Lemurian Warrior who battled the Atlanteans with incredible magical powers that sound suspiciously like something out of Complete Arcane, Complete Divine, or the 3.5 Psionics Handbook, they can see the truth. Both sides are wrong, and everyone needs to shut up and listen to me and my batshit beliefs. Clearly you can't have evolution when humans came from fuzzy black egg laying hermaphrodites (Theosophy is like Tolkien on crack).

The "President Obama is fake!" guy. Usually overlaps with the "Ron Paul, 20XX" troll, who just randomly spams "Ron Paul iz teh BOMBZ" on all the boards. The topic could be about how cute panda bears in China are flying to the moon, you'll always find "Ron Paul, 20XX". This is amusing when you go back a few years and see "Ron Paul, 2008", proving it worked so well back then.  Sometimes they're also the "Lets see the Birf CertificATE" guy. Again, proper capitalization is option, but these posts usually work better with Random, unpredictable Capitalization of Unnecessary words, no Matter where they Are in The Sentence. 

The guy who takes all the comments literally and wastes his life trying to respond to each one, seriously, thinking it'll make a difference. In the same vein, the guy who takes the comments seriously, and tells everyone that they're getting off topic. A comment section open to anyone in the public is not a forum. Especially when there's no mods who go around and boot out the garbage post kids.

And lastly, the Creationist types, or the Bible thumpers, who think that by posting trite and tired arguments, they can magically "defeat" the theory of evolution, undermine the entire science of biology including all of the related sciences like genetics, microbiology, and biomedicine, and prove that JAYSUS existed 6,000 years ago and the world is only 10,000 years old. Again, it doesn't matter the topic, because you'll find these styles of posts anywhere, although actual reports relevant to paleontology, cosmology, or biology draw these people out in droves.

Creationists aren't a rare breed in the United States, sadly. We have more than enough of them, and the more we yield to the ones that already exist, the more we get. I keep hoping that science teachers will just stop telling the parents when they're going to be teaching evolution, or spend the entire year teaching it in small amounts (evolution is that important to biology. Without evolution, you have no biology), rather than building one unit around it and letting that be that. Thus, you get comments like this, made by boneheaded creationists:

Evolutionists; the most gullible individuals ever to walk the face of the earth.
dont know the difference between evolution (a fact that Christians are not only distinctly aware of, but was a creationist idea prior to darwin) and adaptation.
evolutionists cannot even keep a conversation going due to the fact they cannot define evolution intelligently. they must change its meaning during the conversation.

not one evolutionist will debate Jonathan Sarfati (who destroyed dick dawkins' books and ideas so thoroughly he refuses to debate anyone anymore, because is outclassed and lacks the well-rounded intelligence displayed by a great many other scientists) or any other Creation scientist because their evolutionary theory is so riddled with falsehoods, they cant make any sense of it on an intellectual level.
but, of course, they will claim to be "intellectually fulfilled" athiests. so clueless. ("John")
Sarfati is a New Zealand Christian apologist and a chess master with a PhD in Physical Chemistry. Surely the guy that I would want to get my information about biology from. That's like going to a dentist because you're having foot trouble. Also, the misspelling of "atheist". I would say that's a dead give away of a troll, but the reference to Jonathon Sarfati makes me think twice.

Regardless whether or not he's a troll, he's still talking about of his ass about how evolution hasn't been defined clearly. When you're jamming cotton in your ears so you don't have to hear what others are saying, you would never know.

And then there's this guy, Robby Rush:

The Tyrannosuar & human adult and child footprints in Glen Rose, Texas (USA) are real. I have seen them for myself. In fact, I spoke with Dr. Carl Baugh, the man who discovered them, while I was there in the early 1990's. It was not faked as it was unearthered LIVE! before TV crews and skeptical witnesses. They are human footprints. I have seen them personally and I actually took a photograph of them myself which I have to this day.

And to the guy that made the comment about life history origins of 6,000-years ago, the world we now live on WAS created on the evening of 22 October 4004 B.C. by God.

And as for Evolution, they 'theory' was drafted by a Christian Seminary drop-out by the name of Charles Darwin who made derogatory comments about Black people & Women in general in his book on the subject of his theory of Evolution. He was a racist and Misogynist.

And to the woman who wanted to 'see proof that God exists', all YOU have to do is examine all the lives that HE has touched over time for good. People do bad things because they are people. God does not do bad things. Satan does. Nobody ever had evidence that Jesus of Nazareth hurt anyone, made someone blind, etc... Jesus did exist. Plenty of Jewish and Roman writers who were NOT believers (Josephus, Pliny, etc...) who either saw Jesus or knew of Him during their lifetime wrote about it in their own writings we have to this day. Jesus still exists and he lives in the hearts of my wife, children, and my own heart.

And for those who live in Europe who do not believe in the Bible and what it says, that is one of the reasons why your side of the globe is rotten and falling apart... literally. Take God out of your lives/country, and all you are left with is Communism, Terrorism, sickness & death.
Lessee here:

Misunderstanding how the burden of proof works (hint: If you're making the positive claim, you're responsible for backing it up. If you're going to say "God exists" and expect me to take it a serious, meaningful scientific statement, telling me "Look around" is going to elicit a snarky comment about how God could've done a better job on his worshipers).

Human and T. rex footprints, found together. OMG. Therefor, they existed at the same time.  You know, like they did in the Flintstones.

God does not do bad things. As an omniscient, all-powerful entity he can do no wrong. No, he punts that off on Satan, the divine scapegoat.

Charles Darwin said bad things about blacks and women, and was a seminary drop out. Therefore, he can't be taken seriously. Now if only you bastards held Rush Limbaugh to this same standard...

'Theory' gets single scare quotes. "Theory? Isn't that a wild-ass guess? Like gravity?"

The world was created on October 22, 4004 BCE. That evening, the folks of Predynastic Egypt, and those living in the Ubaid Period watched on in amazement as God created the world. This came as news to them, seeing as how they'd been around since 5000 BCE. This news is also a shocker to John Lightfoot, the guy who, buy using the Bible, calculated the start date of creation at 3929 BCE. I'm sure if you round down you'll get 4004 (remember this is BCE; if you place it on a number line, these numbers would be negative; thus, -3,929 is larger than -4,004. This tripped me up, because prior to this, I was listing events that had taken place in around 3,500 - after the intended date), but I can't think of what system you're using to get there. Base 4, maybe? So it's totally Biblical, guys! It says right there in Genesis uh... Genesis uh... "Six days and nights" there we go. That right there totally says that it took place on October 22, 4004 BCE. Can't you read? Don't you know I take the book literally? ... James Ussher? Who the fuck is that? Some kind of rapper?

Remember kids! Dinosaurs and man walked at the same time together! Up until the 1800s, they dinosaurs were called dragons instead! Because it makes dragons anymore real!

Remember: any information that contradicts any of the above is the work of Satan. Because, while God is all power-full and all-knowing, he still tolerates some arrogant little angel out there mucking around his creation leading people astray so he can throw them in Hell for the rest of eternity where they'll be tortured in such a vicious way. He doesn't want to. He just enjoys it. Because that's totally in the Bible, too. Who the hell is Milton? And I've never heard of this "Dante" guy, either. So there.

Oh, and did I mention the fuzzy dinosaurs and the potential for fuzzy dinochicks? D'awww... so cute.