December 31, 2011

No problem here; move along.

Chief Justice John Roberts said Saturday that he has "complete confidence" in his colleagues' ability to step away from cases where their personal interests are at stake, and noted that judges should not be swayed by "partisan demands."
Phew! Now I can rest easy. 

Bon Iver's lyrics: bent and beautiful

Who else can pack so much into two virtually senseless stanzas? Bon Iver, that's who. Here's the video, lyrics below.

Beach Baby

When you're out,
Tell your lucky one to know that you'll leave.
Don't you lock when you're fleeing
I'd like not to hear keys.

Only hold till your coffee warms,
But don't hurry, speed.

Once a time put a tongue
In your ear on the beach.
And you clutched
Clinging heels.

On this brain-dead holiday . . .

Admirable folks at OWS.
New Year's Day is one of my top-two brain-dead holidays. The other is July 4th. Neither of these holidays means a thing. They're just opportunities to pig out and drink. Since I've already destroyed Xmas with the book Xmas Carol, I'll probably move on to either New Year's Day or July 4th with my next holiday-destroying book. They both heartily deserve all the negative attention I can send their way.

December 29, 2011

Bishops' Orwell-speak

George Orwell, a fun feller.
You've got to hand it to the Catholic bishops. They've got this Orwell-speak thing down pat.

The headline over at the NYT is "Bishops say rules on gay parents limit freedom of religion". I burst out laughing every time I see this Orwellian statement. Allow me to translate for you.

Here's the expanded version of that angry statement by the bishops:
Bishops say rules that limit their ability to discriminate against gay parents and deny them services available to everyone else infringe on their god-given right to act viciously and hatefully to one segment of society.

December 28, 2011

Meanwhile, back at the salt mines

Turda salt mine, Romania.
In the earliest days of this blog, I wrote a few posts that outlined my approach to novel-writing. I'm not the sort to heed other people's advice so I invented the process from whole cloth.

I had questions and I questioned everything. First person or third person? Must I include an antagonist? How would I avoid the boring pitfalls most novels fall into (like sci-fi novels including evil government agents in every single story)? How should I write dialogue? And how the heck do you structure a scene? It was all new to me. When I started writing, I didn't know a thing.

December 27, 2011

You know who makes me mad?

The Extinctionator
Ron Fouchier, that's who. That's him on the left. Each time I bump into a story about what he's done, I'm newly furious. If you read between the lines in the linked article, it tells us that there's a decent chance that over 50% of the world's population will be dead in ten years -- directly because of this guy's work.

In case you're not aware the story, Fouchier took bird flu (H5N1), one of the most dangerous flu viruses ever known -- but one that doesn't spread readily -- and made it airborne, thus creating the greatest viral danger humans have ever faced. H5N1 is nasty but it rarely spreads beyond the infected individual. However, now that Fouchier has given the virus wings, it can travel around the world with ease and infect virtually everyone it comes in contact with. We have absolutely no immunity to this thing.

December 26, 2011

A world lit by science

HD 278942: The "Wreath" nebula.
In Ross Douthat's idiotic op-ed on Hitchens' death, duly eviscerated by many bloggers, he used a phrase I've heard before. It's wingnut phrasing, meant to disparage atheists:
". . . the bloodless prophets of a world lit only by Science."
I love how they call reliance on science "bloodless" or "hollow". These people are so totally confused that they think scientists miss out on the awe factor, something they say their religion provides in spades. Indeed. How strange are these people?

December 25, 2011

Foolishness seen in HuffPo

The popey guy.
Once in a while I read HuffPo's religion page, just for laughs. So what did I find there today? This gem:

VATICAN CITY (RNS) Europe's economic and financial crisis is the consequence of an "ethical crisis" and a "crisis of faith," Pope Benedict XVI said Thursday (Dec. 22), resulting in the triumph of selfishness over social responsibility.

Can you believe this popey guy? He literally engineers the massive cover-up of the priest-rape scandal for the selfish reason of wanting to protect his church -- and then has the nerve to talk about "the triumph of selfishness over social responsibility." It's mind-boggling. And these people will tell you that they own morality.

And what is the cure he suggests for this selfishness? Why, faith of course. Faith in what? The child-raping priests! These people have no irony filters. None.

December 24, 2011

Jets/Giants today

Eli and Mark.
Ah, I finished my traditional Xmas Eve pizza breakfast and now it's time to move on to the big game. NY's two football teams are going to grapple with one another today and it's a major event for local fans.

I started watching football this year because I really missed baseball. It's a game, you know? So I figured I'd give it a shot. At first I was put off by the testosterone-infused nature of the sport. It's such a win-or-die thing. In baseball, you can watch a game that your team loses, and walk away saying "what a great game!" That doesn't happen in football. If your team loses by a point, you're so depressed you can hardly think.

But then I heard one of the football announcers say, "I've never seen a play like that in my life, too often," and I thought: Hey, it's just like baseball! So I'm going to watch today -- and the Jets better win if they know what's good for them. In NY, you're either a Mets-Jets guy or a Giants-Yankees guy. Color me green.

Oh yeah. Happy Xmas, folks. Merry, merry -- or whatever.

Photo credit: ganggreennation

Happy Xmas (War is Over)

Seems just as perfect in today's world. Good old John.

December 23, 2011

Out, damned blurb!

I finished Xmas Carol. I know you never expected to hear those words, but it's true. The book is done. Now all I have to do is assemble Kindle and ePub versions . . . and write the damn blurb. Dang, but that's unappealing. In case you're not familiar with the term, blurbs are those short paragraphs on the back of a book that try to lure the reader in.

Pigeons are smart, too

There's a story today in the NYT about pigeons' ability to count. It turns out they can do this as well as monkeys.

The line between humans and animals becomes less distinct with every passing year. We're all the same, kids. The differences are merely a matter of degree.

December 22, 2011

Have you been watching Cenk?

Mayor Rocky Anderson
As I said the other day, I'm nuts about The Young Turks on Current TV. Cenk Uygur is just what America needs. If you haven't tuned in, you're missing phenomenal TV. Cenk knocks it out of the park night after night. I can't get over it: he actually tells the truth about what's going on in this country. You don't get that anywhere else on TV. That's for sure.

December 21, 2011

Submitted for your approval

HONOLULU (AP) — The second miracle in allowing a nun to soon become St. Marianne Cope involves the healing of a New York woman who had an infection that was destroying her organs.
Details on the miracle were revealed for the first time Tuesday by the Sisters of St. Francis of the Neumann Communities in Syracuse, N.Y. They say a bag of soil containing Marianne's bone fragments from the Hawaii peninsula where leprosy patients were exiled was pinned to Sharon Smith's hospital gown. She was cured after months of prayer to Marianne.
Sure sounds miraculous to me! Sign me up! That popey guy really sets the bar high, huh? With standards like these, it's a wonder they don't make 50 new saints a day.

Excuse me while I go pin a baggie filled with dead people to my pajamas. Yuck.

PS: Is that first sentence in the AP article awful, or what? Yeesh.

December 20, 2011

The cover for Xmas Carol

Click for bigger version.
Here it is! Is that a great cover or what? And in a few days, the book will be available for sale. (Ebook only; no print version.)

Casey of casey/artandcolour did the cover and I think it's faaaabulous. I didn't dictate the image in any way. It's Casey's creation entirely.

Full disclosure -- I'd love to take credit for the subhead: "An artificially intelligent horror story" but I'm afraid I didn't come up with it. Casey did that too! He went way beyond what you'd expect from a book-cover designer.

Casey, I've thanked you already and I thank you again. It's been such a help to me, knowing that there's a great cover, ready and waiting for my book.

In publishing, they say the book itself -- the writing -- is only 1/3 of a book's attraction for customers. The other 2/3 goes like this: 1/3 for the cover and 1/3 for the blurb (what appears on the back of a print book, and in online stores for ebooks). But Casey went beyond 1/3 by coming up with that catchy sub-head. It makes you want to read the book, no?

Soon, my little pretties, soon. Xmas Carol is only days from publication.

December 19, 2011

It's not OCD, after all. Woot!

With all the editing I've done on my horror novel, Xmas Carol, I confess I was beginning to wonder if I was nuts. Would I ever finish the editing process? Or would I do it for the rest of my life, always finding myself changing the wording each time I read it?

Well, it turns out I'm not crazy! There is actually an end in sight. In fact, the chapters I'm leaving behind me as I work my way through the book this time -- are perfect. I heartily approve of every word.

Seriously, I was beginning to wonder (and you were too, I know). I think I'm somewhere in chapter 8, and there are only 12 chapters. So two more days and I should be done. Then I'll just have to assemble the book and sprinkle it on all the stores.

Snap! I'm not crazy! Hooray!

Here's some news: I'll post the cover tomorrow. So get back here then if you know what's good for you. Wait'll you see the cover Casey came up with. It's insanely wonderful.

December 16, 2011

I'm closing in

Sorry I haven't blogged much lately. I know a bunch of people have taken to visiting this blog, and I appreciate it. It's just that I'm really busy finishing up my horror novel, Xmas Carol. It's almost there. I think I could be done within the next few days.

So please bear with me. Once the book is released, I'll have oodles of time to write new posts. That popey guy better watch out!

Do click by occasionally, though. As I said, I'll post the cover on the blog before the book is published. You know you're excited about seeing what Casey came up with--and you won't be disappointed. So check in regularly and I'll be back soon.

December 15, 2011

Great TV: The Young Turks

Cenk and friends.
If you're not watching Cenk Uygur's show, The Young Turks on Current TV, weeknights at 7, you're missing out.

Finally, Cenk can say what he wants to say. It's a smart show and Uygur is a savvy progressive. He doesn't just go with the dems and lash out at the GOP. Instead, he's a rational observer who tells you the truth.

I've been waiting forever for a show like this. Olbermann fell off the cliff years ago and Rachel's nice but I just can't watch her show. It's too showy, or something. The Young Turks is just right. Give it a shot. You'll be glad you did.

December 14, 2011

The march of the moral twits

I keep seeing these appalling stories written by Christianists. They seem to have two themes:

1. America is 90% Christian (their figure) and therefore the country should be governed by Christian morals and rules; and

2. Only Christians understand morality because the only morals humans can know are the rules set down by god on stone tablets and burnt toast and whatnot. No one else knows a thing about morality. In fact, it is literally impossible for a non-Christian to be moral. Without god's Special Rules and Decoder Ring, we would be killing, raping and stealing 24/7.

December 13, 2011

Nobody likes the popey guy

It's true. No one in the whole world likes this popey guy. He is a bad popey guy.

Hoping that the Mexican faithful will make action figures of him after he's gone, the popey guy will soon visit Mexico. Now, if only the Mexican people cared.

I liked this bit in the linked story. First they say that Mexican religious shops sell a ton of statues and photos and whatnot depicting the popey guy's predecessor, John Paul popey guy. But, they say:
There are no Benedict-related items for sale here. 

"That Holiness is not very commercial," explained Jorge Sanchez, a 30-year-old vendor.
Indeed. The popey guy doesn't have a warm and fuzzy exterior and it's doubtful that he has any interior at all. When people look at the current popey guy, they see a shady Nazi character from some old movie. He is the Pedophile-in-Chief of the Roman Catholic church -- the man who, above all others, hid the child rapes while protecting the pedophile priests. The popey guy's fingerprints are all over the church's pedophilia scandal.

Cuddly indeed. This is one creepy popey guy. Even Mexicans think so and their country is 90% Catholic. Go, popey guy. Dzzzzt.

December 12, 2011

I've seen the cover for Xmas Carol!

(Republished to fix tags. Oops.)

Wow! Casey did a bang-up job on the cover for Xmas Carol. Wait'll you guys see it. It's amazing. And yes, I'm afraid you'll have to wait until the book is released. But tell you what . . . I'll post the cover here a few days before I click the "Publish" button at Amazon. So you will see a preview. (This means you're very important; never forget this.)

I can't get over it. The cover is so cool. Artichoke Annie and cousin Carmine -- both readers of draft versions of the book -- were given a special preview and both seemed to love it. Their opinions count because they're artists.

As I told Casey, I'll go to bed a happy man tonight. My book has a cover. Woot!  So hang on, guys. The book is truly, really, actually on the way. I'm not sure if I can meet the Xmas deadline but I'm going to try. It's going to be very close.

December 11, 2011

Digby on conservatives and satire

An echo from digby this morning about the topic I raised a few posts down, i.e., conservatives don't get satire:
This "study" is called "The Irony of Satire: Political Ideology and the Motivation to See What You Want to See in The Colbert Report."

Except, you know, the liberals are not "seeing what they want to see." It is satire! That is not an opinion. The liberals are factually correct and the conservatives are blithering idiots.

December 10, 2011

A sweet trip to the supermarket

Kettle of the evil ones.
I went to the A&P supermarket with my sister yesterday. We used separate carts and when I finished first, I went outside to wait for her. Lo and behold, what did I see in front of the market but a person jingling a bell over a Salvation Army kettle. Dang!

I'm not quiet. I said to the woman, "Do you know that the Salvation Army discriminates against gay people? A portion of every dollar people throw in this kettle will go toward oppressing gay men, lesbians and transgender people. No one should give money to the Salvation Army."

December 9, 2011

Mental mushiness is the problem

Pudding or brains? (image: Wikipedia)
At Why Evolution is True, I found a quote that is dear to my heart:
I suggest that the willingness to believe in fables and superstition makes one more resistant to believing things that are true, especially when those things fall into a category, “science,” that can be perceived as a threat to belief systems based on superstition. [My emphasis.]

I take this a step further (okay, a few steps). I think the reason Americans can't think anymore is because they believe in god. That's it, short and sweet.

If you think fairy tales are real, you can no longer judge anything soberly or clearly. Belief in gods throws a blurry shroud over reality. That is the idea: to separate believers from reality and ensure they show proper fealty to their overlords, the priests and imams and popey guys. It's a racket.

This is why there is such a stunning lack of judgment in America: everyone believes in gods and angels. Jeebus can't turn wine into blood but religion can turn brains into chocolate pudding.

Pudding image: Wikipedia.

Rats show empathy

We're even less special today than we were yesterday. It seems rats not only feel empathy but try to help rats that are in distress. Sound familiar? Yup, it's just like you and me (but not like wingnuts; funny, that). You'll find the story on physorg today.

I've said it before and I'll say it countless times: the difference between humans and other Earth creatures is merely a matter of degree.

December 8, 2011

Wingnuts don't get satire

The perfect Republican.
I suspect my readers already know that wingnuts don't get satire. They don't know what it is or what it's for. GOP types, Christianists, theists, fundies and sundry other wingnuts think The Colbert Report is a right-leaning show. I'll say it again: wingnuts don't get satire.

Of course, we progressives do get satire. It's not uncommon to see entirely satirical posts on many lefty blogs -- because we know our readers will get it. That's because the folks on our team have brains that work. But irony and satire have no meaning to rightwingers. They're just words, or more accurately, sounds.

This makes me wonder what goes through their minds when they read posts by, for instance, Digby. She never explains that she's kidding -- and they'd never know that she was. The words must clang inside their skulls.
"Why are these commies saying stuff I believe in?! Danger, Will Robinson! Danger!"
So here's what I'm thinking. Maybe we should only write satire, you know, to drive them mad(der).

December 7, 2011

Higgs mania

I'm excited by rumors of the possible discovery of the Higgs boson at CERN. You have to be a physics freak to get into this stuff, I guess. But luckily, that's what I am. If you're a physics fan, read on. The rest of you, carry on as before.

December 6, 2011

Christmas v. holiday tree

I can't believe people have strong opinions about whether the vegetation they put lights on is called a Christmas tree or a holiday tree. I won't delve into this vacuous topic. It merits only a shake of the head.

But if these people think there's a war against Christmas now, wait'll they get a load of Xmas Carol.

Speaking of which, I'm doing my last, careful edit/proofread of the manuscript. It will be done by the weekend. And this time when I say "done" I mean final, all-time done.

Best of all, Casey is working on the cover as we speak. Xmas Carol will soon have a face to show the world.

December 5, 2011

Weird experience

The master.
A segment on the news tonight featured an invention I made up for Xmas Carol. There it was, up on the screen -- no longer my secret idea. How dare they invent something I made up? It's downright rude! 

Anyway, horrors. Now it'll look like I lifted the idea. Ah, but my pre-publication readers can attest to my coming up with it first! I'm saved. Then again, I may just come up a new invention and stick it in. Take that, inventors!

This was a seriously strange experience. Again, how dare they?

December 4, 2011

I hate to agree with religious folks, but . . .

This story in today's NY Times is about whether a church in the Bronx should be allowed to hold services in a public school. The issue will soon be decided by NY's supreme court.

The church began in a halfway house. When it outgrew the facility, it applied to hold meetings and services at a nearby public school. There are 48 members in this church.

The idiot, Santorum

Hunter at KOS has been on a roll lately. I love this description:
It's difficult to take Rick Santorum seriously. It always has been, and adding "campaigning for president" to his resume did nothing to help. The man has no gravitas and even less charisma, but comports himself as if he did. The effect is of a whiny adolescent know-it-all who is eternally peeved that society isn't recognizing his obvious superiority. Add to this a devout narrow-mindedness, a stubborn refusal to even acknowledge others might have opinions or experiences different from his own, and you get the perfect Conservative Religious Whiny Emo Teenage Mutant Candidate. 

Hunter, you da man.

December 3, 2011

Good music

Why are religious people so mean?

It's the question no one ever asks -- why do religious people enjoy seing others suffer?

It's not a secret. We can see the relish in their eyes as they tell people they'll be damned to hell for eternity. Judging by their facial expressions, the idea nearly gives them an orgasm. They like the idea that everyone but them will suffer eternal torment. In fact, they love it. Why is that? Why are these people so mean?

Why is it so damn easy for priests to rape kids? And why is it equally easy for their fellow priests to ignore their deeds and even protect them? Why don't these people grasp the suffering of the children and the wrongness of the deed? Is it because they're mean? It must be, right? What else can you say about this sort of behavior? The people that indulge in it are mean and immoral.

Why do these people lack a moral center? Oh, that's right. Because they think their religion provides them with a sense of morality when it does nothing of the sort. Rules are not morals. But let's leave that point for another post.

Today, what I want to know is why these people enjoy hurting others. Why are religious people so mean?

December 2, 2011

Heaven is a place where you can read all the time

NYC Public Library/Wikipedia image
When I was in my 20s, I lived in a huge apartment building in Manhattan. One of my memories from that time is walking up the block in the early morning, heading for the subway and work.

Along the way, there was something wonderful to see. In a ground-floor studio there lived an old couple, a man and woman, who enjoyed reading. No, I mean they really enjoyed reading. Every single time I passed their window, they were reading.

A sci-fi question

What if you were duplicated right this instant? Suppose another you appeared at your side. The duplicate is a perfect copy of you -- so perfect that each of you believes he or she is the original.

Here's the question:

If your duplicate moved in with you, would you get along?

December 1, 2011

Uppercase crazies

We've all encountered those crazy screeds on the internet that are written ALL IN CAPS and feature lots of exclamation marks (!!!) and usually some talk of Jesus and divine retribution. Who are these people and why do they write that way?

What's with the uppercase thing? Is it that they want to shout every word? I wonder if they scream all the time in their lives, at everyone and everything. Do they go to churches where their pastors scream at them, or come from screaming families? Were they drill sergeants? Did they recently stop taking their medication?