Thursday, September 30, 2010

Understanding does not mean what John Reynolds thinks it means

john_mark_reynolds So I just stumbled across this piece by John Mark Reynolds in a recent column in The Washington Post entitled, “Trivia kings, but bad thinkers: understanding over facts.” In which he writes his opinion on the newest of a series of religiously weighted surveys, this one done by the Pew Forum. This recent survey shows that atheists (along with Jews and Mormons) are dramatically more likely to know facts about the religious doctrines of other cultures whereas the religious grade much more poorly. His assertion is that atheists, bolstered by the Internet and books, happen to be good at learning facts but do so without understanding what they’re reading. Thus the title of his piece which boils down of the survey’s results to “atheists are good at trivia.”

He blames the entire society of the United States for having become an entertainment culture where people don’t actually read, spend time ruminating, or actually examine their opinions. As he comments on entertainment culture, he points out that Christians make up a majority of the population yet,

Weirdly, Christians must clean up the mess of broader culture, but we have had little power to create pop culture in the last fifty years. The poor and the disadvantaged are always the first to bear the brunt of bad cultural ideas and only the religious remain on the ground to try to help.

Also weirdly, the poor and the disadvantaged are more likely to be religious, and since “three-quarters or more of the American general population” happen to be Christian... They're more likely to be mostly Christians. So, according to him these bad cultural ideas are coming from a strange minority but being absorbed gluttonously by the Christian majority the very same majority who must “clean up the mess of broader culture.” Something tells me that Reynolds doesn’t seem to get precisely what the word “broader” means.

In this sense it is easier to be an agnostic or atheist. You have rejected the mainstream of American history, which means you don't have to take responsibility for its failures, though you can appropriate its successes.

What the hell is he talking about here? Atheists (and agnostics of both stripe: theist and atheist) don't reject American history as a matter of their atheism or agnosticism in relation to the existence of a god or gods. This sentence sits here all by its lonesome. He cites absolutely no evidence for his assertion and fails to support it with even a single scintilla of rationale. American citizens both suffer the failures of our history and appropriate the successes of it. Perhaps this is a veiled attempt for him to prop up the false notion that the United States is somehow a Christian nation when the Constitution and its supporting documents go out of their way to cultivate a secular government.[1]

Third, we must demand that our government schools teach religion, not just the "facts" but with understanding. Wisdom will only come when we recognize why billions of the world's people believe what they do. This means that majority Christians must also accept charitable expositions of other faiths. When the state of Texas demands less coverage of Islam this is a bad step.

This “understanding” that he’s been crowing through most of this strangely sanctimonious article is actually what the rest of the world would refer to as indoctrination. What’s really odd about this is that he refers to the Pew research and notes how theists fail awfully at knowing even their own doctrine, but claims that they understand their doctrine. He then went winging around about how a person can know a bunch of trivial facts but not understand them; but he really didn’t get around to how precisely a person can have no grasp of any of the facts yet maintain an understanding of a subject nonetheless. After all, that’s exactly how he describes the theists who took the test.

Sure. Teach religion in government schools, but he’s going to be in for a nasty surprise when people realize he’s just basically stated that he wants government schools to teach children to be religious not just about religions.

He will really have to clarify that position before it’s even readable. Certainly he could explain exactly what the difference between knowing that Catholics believe that the communion becomes the actual blood and flesh of their god and understanding that bread and wine turn into bodily fluids and tissue. (This is one of the questions in the survey.)

We must do unto others as we would have them do to us. We must allow students to read books that come from different traditions, from atheism to paganism. The intellectual growth that will result will not be the sort that can be captured in a fill-in-the-blanks or multiple choice exam. Instead, we are going to have to support government school budgets that to allow for small discussion classes that can produce a deeper understanding of important ideas.

We already do this. No special, soppy religious understanding is needed in social studies. Answers are already available with an anthropological context as to why Catholic doctrine includes transubstantiation and the Ancient Greeks believed that their gods rested on Mt. Olympus and sometimes turned people into spiders and skunks. These aren’t even important ideas on the grand scale of living our lives among one another.

For example, one of the most influential books first published by an American is the Book of Mormon. It appears in almost no American government school curriculum, though it exercises a global influence and impacts the lives of millions of Americans. This is foolish. I am, to say the least, no Mormon partisan, but there are entire states in our nation that cannot be understood without some grounding in Mormon thought.

This unsourced claim isn’t for a moment backed up with anything more than mentions of Salt Lake City and Utah. The state is a secular entity due to the force of the Constitution of the United States and while Utah may contain a large number of Mormons, it doesn’t mean the state government gets to run off with their religious convictions in their throats. Utah isn’t some island nation separate and untouched by the rest of the United States. Want to read something extremely influential first published by an American try The Federalist Papers.

Places where he does hit the nail on the head, however, seem to be when he’s talking about trends of anti-intellectualism that seem to be rooted sternly in the austere grasp of American Christian thought. He mentions that Christians “should demand that their churches do more intellectual work.” If only it didn’t seem compelling that this is actually the source of the problem. The Pew Forum survey shows not only that Christians are the worst at knowing basic facts about other religions but they largely know neither their own doctrine’s facts nor could they understand them either (in Reynold’s logic).

He seems to make the weird argument that atheists and non-Christians, according to recent surveys, show better in IQ surveys, general knowledge of culture, and reading level & comprehension because atheists are simply good at absorbing facts. He argues that the intellectual elite reject the religious from their ivy-covered towers, and so forth. When he himself must rail against the brick wall of anti-intellectualism rooted deeply within organized Christianity.

I am not convinced the problem lies where Reynold claims it does.

[1] America is not a Christian Nation

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

TV Review: Chase

chase_nbc_tv_show_logo Here come the blonde warrior women of NBC! The next in my series of television premier series reviews comes Chase. This show reminds me briefly of every law enforcement TV show that has ever existed—but mostly it made me think of In Plain Sight (which I happen to love to death.) Sadly, it doesn’t work quite as well as In Plain Sight does with Mary Shannon as our blonde, quirky protagonist—instead Chase gives us a strong, brass-balled warrior girl in the form of Annie Frost.

And she’s one cool customer.

(What can I say? I’m partial to brass balls archetypical warriors like Vex Harrow.)

I have to admit, I subscribed to this one just because I can feel potential cracking beneath the surface—but it still didn’t manage to keep my attention very well. I found myself drifting out to read stuff on the Internet and edit my articles as I watched. The character drama is lacking and the action scenes are a little lax. However, I must say, they’re humorous enough to make me smile. During one apprehension scene (a chase scene no less) they actually ran through a herd of driven bulls and then crashed through a rodeo in progress. Let me just say, I’d never want to run through a rodeo even if it was just a calf wrangle. I’ve been to the rodeo plenty of times (I’m from rural Minnesota and we had a rodeo every Saturday and Sunday) and with horses and cowboys tearing up the dirt in the arena it was never a safe place to be standing.

Annie doesn’t really have much of an inner life yet. I haven’t been able to get a sense of her or any other character. This is where I think my particular tilt is going to show—I really like portrayals that give me personal access to characters, giving them life and energy outside of the usual on-screen presence. Right now: Annie lacks this. I’d really love to have a half-a-philosopher like Mary Shannon, or the brimming romantic cop, but instead I have a generic law-enforcement type going about her job. Perhaps she’ll grow out of it. I expect her to.

Maybe the show just needs a curious or strange fugitive to take down. Someone that can show me why I should care that our warrior lady Annie Frost has a heart or a grim sense of duty.

And, as a side note, can someone tell me why everyone keeps telling the rookie to hide his gun under his shirt?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Taking a Segway off a cliff: What a way to die

amd_segway_x2 In the news of the dire and strangely sarcastic, the universe attempts its hand at poetic irony. Segway’s owner has died. According to the NY Daily News,

The British businessman who owns the Segway company plunged to his death after driving one of his famous two-wheeled scooters off a cliff, police said Monday.

James (Jimi) Heselden dead at 62—by Segway, precipice, and river, possibly not in that order.

As @AvatarNelson of Twitter fame said, “The owner of the Segway company died driving his Segway off a cliff. This is going to be a PR nightmare for cliffs.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

TV Review: The Event

the-event We’ve seen a bit of an explosion in strange transposition storytelling techniques since Lost became so immensely popular. However, this sort of storytelling always leaves me in a lurch unless there’s a very good reason for it—and Lost really was not. We’ve seen it in stories like Day Break and Flash Forward to better effect. Now there’s a new NBC sci-fi television series to add to the list: The Event.

The pilot introduces us to two separate story arcs that still appear to be disconnected. In one of them a character named Shawn Walker who happens to lose track of his girlfriend (she mysteriously disappears.) While there’s the “leader” of some unknown and vague sect of people visiting with the President of the United States—the sect also seems to be currently detained in a Guantánamo-style facility in the blinding white north of artic Alaska. Who they are or what they’re about is left totally undisclosed.

The plot is revealed almost entirely in unfettered flashbacks. “8 hours ago,” “23 days ago,” so on and so forth. It does form a cohesive narrative, but it’s headache inducing in that it’s spends all of its time in flashbacks and none of it forming the current narrative. Although the first thirty seconds and the last thirty seconds are the current time.

The story begins with a news broadcaster screaming that the ground is shaking and then we see an aircraft flying very slow—presumably about to crash into the Presidential manor where he’s meeting with the leader of the mysterious detainees.

I subscribed to this one merely because it contains an extremely powerful sci-fi element that’s rather inescapable from the end of the first episode. To reveal that, however, would be a massive spoiler. Although, it was extremely tedious to watch the show up to that point.

Can this show probably save itself from becoming another punctuated dramatization soap opera like Lost?

It’s very likely.

However, it seems to me that it really just wants to hook the viewers with these manufactured mysteries that are developed now out of natural investigation but flashback storytelling—always keeping the viewer out of the loop so that they can’t grasp the moment. It’s a little bit insulting to me as a viewer. This is not Memento.

The show’s producer has promised that future episodes will use flashbacks more for character development than plot development but I’m almost too far gone to care at this point. As long as it doesn’t fall down the ever deepening rabbit hole that Lost found itself creeping through (but never reaching Wonderland) we might have a good deal in this show.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Recently published in the Premier Issue of PANÂCHE Autumn 2010

panache My short story “Meet the Pricers” has been published in the premier issue of PANÂCHE Journal of Poetry & Fiction: Volume 1 Issue 1 Autumn 2010.

“Meet the Pricers” is a short story set at a Goodwill store in Phoenix, Arizona—which just happens to also be the center of all Goodwill stores in the universe. Cammy, who happens to work a register, finds herself in an unexpected adventure when a customer brings a pair of socks to the front that lack a price tag.

An electronic subscription to the journal only costs $35.00 USD ($55 for print). People who buy a subscription now will receive the current issue (and presumably future issues, but it doesn’t say for how long). Although, there is no news yet if individual issues can be purchased.

Curious enough, the publisher of this journal is also in Michigan (where I am staying right now.)

Find PANÂCHE on Twitter and at Facebook.

Friday, September 24, 2010

TV Review: Lone Star

lonestar So we’ve got a new crop of television shows clangoring for my attention on Hulu and, just to be polite, I’ve started watching them. As a result, I’m going to review them to see what I thought of each one, and how I felt about them. Lone Star, a drama created by Kyle Killen, portrays the strange life of a con man and his father. Although the premise really strikes me as interesting—I certainly love con man shows and movies like Matchstick Men and White Collar—the pilot failed to hold my interest for very long.

The story sets itself up as the child of possibly the biggest con man in the industry, Robert Allen, works his way through the blue collar and white collar elite alike by bilking them of their hard earned money through selling them snake oil prospects (literally nonexistent energy prospects in oil rigging.) To produce additional drama, he’s running a split con that requires him to keep two separate lives—demonstrated by carrying two separate phones and address books with him. In one life he’s married to a billionaire energy tycoon’s daughter, and the other he has a lovely girlfriend. Both of them don’t know about the other.

Slowly but surely his oil-rig con begins to bleed out as he goes state-to-state seeking would-be investors into the project. Except that there’s no actual holding for them to invest in, so he’s going to have to vanish eventually. Of course, the ties that bind come into play pretty quickly as he happens to like his girlfriend from the oil-rig con and he will one day have to leave her in the dust when he had to quit his hunting grounds if he gets found out.

On the other angle, he seems to be attempting to get into his wife’s family business through her father by getting a job there and then swindling the company out of its vast finances—presumably through some sort of embezzlement. Except this is where things go sideways for his own family business (which happens to be the con) a he decides that he’d rather take this new 7-figure job instead of bleeding the company dry. A fact that his father doesn’t take too well as he’d rather not have his son quit the family con business to take up the mantle of a real energy financier and investment broker. A job that Robert is surprisingly talented at due to his many years tricking people into thinking that he owns a stake in oil and gas drilling.

The real heart cinch of the story that got me happened to be some of the characterization of his father and his own love life—especially how he juggles a girlfriend and a wife.

In one scene, he is propositioned for a one-night-stand by a girl in a hotel lobby who fancies him and invites him back to her room. She gives him a long, convincing argument as to why she should be able to take him to bed and his wife shouldn’t have to know about it. This after Robert first subtly hints, then directly promotes the fact that he is in fact married. At the end of the conversation the woman asks him if he could give one good reason why he couldn’t. And he tells her that he could give her two good reasons. The implied undercurrent here happens to be that those reasons happen to be his wife and girlfriend (between whom he’s cheating on each with the other.) An interesting fact for him as he chooses to keep his fidelity to them, even if they don’t know about each other.

The big spoiler for this episode lays here.

At the very end of the pilot, and near the point where I’d already lost interest, he had a final fight with his father. He’s been found out in his oil-rig scam and has to get out—a fact that means he has to leave his girlfriend behind. Something he doesn’t want to do. His father berates him viciously for forgetting to play his part, pretend to be a character, and not get personally involved in his con. As every con must end and there’s no reason for him to break his own heart while breaking the heart of the girl. However, he’s gotten too involved with his girlfriend. Instead, he finds a way that he can maintain his double life even with danger breathing down his neck.

“Because, Dad, I’m in love.”

“With which one, son?” his father asks. “The fake girlfriend or the fake wife.”


It’s cute, but in the end I’m not as interested in the direction that Robert’s life is taking. It’s keen enough that he has this con going on. His wife’s father is extremely scary and menacing but trusts him honestly. He does life this double life that could fall apart at any moment. But, I don’t know that I want to see where it goes.

I didn’t subscribe to it on Hulu, so I won’t likely be watching further episodes unless one catches my eye.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Facebook Denial of Service Attack

Update: Okay, this was a little stupid: the apparent DDoS against Facebook today, the Wired article that I found is from 2009 and I misread the date (thought 09 meant September.) Looks like what happened was an internal database snafu. Here’s a CNET article on the subject.

facebook Looks like Facebook is currently down due to a denial of service attack. While it’s been marked as “they were the victim of an attack [this] Thursday morning,” it’s still ongoing and it’s almost 1pm now.

“Earlier this morning, Facebook encountered network issues related to an apparent distributed denial-of-service attack, that resulted in degraded service for some users,” responded Facebook spokeswoman Kathleen Loughlin via e-mail.

We’ve seen this happen before with Twitter—and if it’s the same people who did that, someone wants Facebook offline today. I don’t know yet if Twitter is getting hit with the same DDOS at the same time or if this is simply targeted at Facebook without mangling Twitter.

If anything, it’s a pretty powerful DDOS to wipe out something like Facebook as they already absorb a lot of traffic; then again, that might make them more vulnerable. In the future of cyberwarfare, taking out distributed media-discussion on the Internet will be a useful component when governments and countries want to do things under cover of darkness. Of course, they’ll have to take out more than just Facebook and Twitter to actually make a dent.

Here’s looking forward to it reappearing later today after they get themselves sorted out. I will link the postmortem.

Link, via Wired.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Elements: Water

I am suddenly reminded of my great love of marine biology—although, the truth of the matter is that I hate fish. When I studied marine biology, I kept most of my adoration for the invertebrates: give me a sea cucumber, a jellyfish, a crinoid, or something similar over a fish. Please. The ocean is teeming with everything imaginable, but for some reason fish never really gave me much pause. The vast variation of other creatures, large and small, provided more than enough amazement for me.

Most of our planet is covered in it.

Its glittering blue provided not because of some refraction of water itself, but in most cases simply the reflection of the sky. At sunset the oceans become painted with a wash of gold and red; and at night, they betray no color, perhaps except the hushed green of bioluminescence tipping the waves as they crash in the surf.

Water will display prominently when I write the stories of the Helljammer series—a story mostly about naval engagements, pirates, zombies… You can’t have good pirate stories without lots of water. Unrelenting waves of blue, cast against open and clear skies, from horizon to horizon, but for the ports we visit to regain supplies.

Without water, we wouldn’t have piracy on the high seas. So I’ll thank it for that.

Water doesn’t show up so much in SciFi, relegated to the terrestrial worlds—or worlds that are entirely water themselves, like Europa, if simply covered in a layer of ice. Alien planets, perhaps, but not the spacers. They do depend on it, to an extent, but given enough power it’s possible to just tell an oxygen and two hydrogen to produce a water molecule, and form there it’s just a matter of doing that a billion times.

Water shapes the world.

Neither earth nor fire stand up to water. Water is patient. Mountains rise up, water wears them down. The slow, driving course of rivers carves out great swaths like the Grand Canyon; and perhaps it did the same on Mars—the arid world showing evidence of once perhaps having its fill of liquid water.

Water. It’s what’s in my drinking glass right now.

An excellent suspension for syrup and caffeine.

Monday, September 20, 2010 lives again

That is all.

(The problem occurred due to a dedicated IP address. It is resolved now.)

“The Academy” A. Barnes’s dirty, raw still-growing up ‘X-Men like’ serial

I’d like to introduce everyone to The Academy, which is a brand new serial fiction story written by A. Barnes who is probably looking for a few readers and maybe a proofreader. His first chapter was published none-too-long ago and includes a series of characters designed and offered by his friends on Facebook.

It’s a spit-polished work of love that represents the mainstay of new writers.

My claim to fame in this new story? Jessika, the first character introduced, is the one that I came up with for his story. She, like the other supers on the transport at the beginning, has some issues with her powers that she wants to get control of—namely, she’s capable of controlling her density at a molecular level. The only problem? Her stress levels affect her control. When she stresses, she becomes more dense, often to the point of cracking the floor (or flattening her chair) and when she’s too calm she can become insubstantial and float away.

He’s very rough around the edges, so don’t expect Hemingway; but that’s barely a reason not to engage. Even if you only stay for two chapters (there’s only two right now) you can still leave your mark, some encouragement, and perhaps part of a constructive critique.

All new writers can use a little bit of a heave-to from the rest of us.

Start reading The Academy at Chapter One.

Sunday, September 19, 2010 currently down 

My wonderful hosting company just migrated our IP addresses but unfortunately my sites didn’t migrate with it; I am currently waiting for the website for Mill Avenue Vexations to catch up. (It is currently showing a default page instead of the proper start page.)

In the meantime, you could read the opening letter for Helljammer or catch up on Black Hat Magick (which run on a separate host.)

Interestingly, ProjectWonderful hasn’t noticed that it’s down yet, so it might just be displaying this to me (for some unknown reason) so I am hoping to see if other people are getting the same sort of reaction from their web browsers when they visit. Otherwise, I am letting their technical support troubleshoot the issue.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Elements: Fire

I am reminded of the words of Vex Harrow from The Holocaust Star,

A lot of people say that the world will end in fire; I’m not about to tell you that I know how it all ends—but I can say one thing for sure: it started with fire.

The ancients of every people loved the flame, and they already feared it. Prometheus brought fire as a gift and Coyote got burned trying to steal it. The Hawaiians say Ai-Laau, the forest eater, ruled Kilauea until Pele chased him off. My da says there is fire in whiskey that fuels the soul. As for me, I’ve got just four things to say about fire: it’s pretty when you keep at a distance, it’s a good friend when you’ve got a way to put it out, a terrible master when you screw up, and a savage enemy when it turns on you.

People are so hooked on fire that when we die we expect to find it blazing on the other side. Sometimes people strap themselves to the pyre to get a head start. Other times we burn sacrifices to purify them, which brings me to my own, albeit short, fiery interlude.

Fire has so much mythology behind it that it has a life of its own in every culture. It is nearly the first technology—the ultimate protector and destroyer. It enables us to live in places without light, with little heat of their own, to pass survival through the dead of winter under its blazing fingertips.

In modern day, as well as Scifi, we could see fire as the embodiment of the nuclear fires that give life to our sun. The underlying power that lives within the atom, when unleashed, fans the flames of war and devours entire cities as the case of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But that same fire, like all fires, when held in check can power entire cities, or raise nations out of the dust of mediocrity.

Electricity from fire, it’s the same infrastructure that enables me to tap keys to keyboard and write this trite prose right now.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Elements: Earth

Foundation. Stone. Rock. The unmoving ground. While the element earth contains a great deal of different connotations for many cultures—and some even eschew it from their lists of elements for other compounds—it is still the source of many of our raw materials. Earth: the container of all life.

We build our dwellings from it. We build them upon it. It comes in many forms, from the solidity of rock, to the trembling uncertainty of peat bogs. It gives rise to trees that stretch above it, roots that dig beneath, and provides the matrix for which all things mount themselves against the sky.

In the creation stories of many mythologies the earth is the first place—and from it all life is formed. From the earth all living things rise, and to it they decompose when they are done. The ultimate and final configuration of star-stuff that gives a place to stay, provides food, shelter, and all the comforts of life.

In Scifi stories, earth is the element of planetary bodies. The primary difference between spacers and terrestrials. Even alien worlds have all the makeshift necessity of earthiness—in fact, we could argue easily that even Mercury has “earth” although it is an airless, lifeless world it is only earth and nothing else. Spacers find it by taking small chunks of it in the form of asteroids, or necessarily learn to live with much less of it by producing food with hydroponics. The spacer and the terrestrial will, however, possibly argue about the merits of cold steel and artificial gravity, or gravel and the planetary weight of natural gravity.

Earth. It’s even the name of our home world.

It’s the calling card of modern day environmentalists. The body of the Goddess made manifest—the life-giver.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Mill Avenue in political news, recruiting ground in claimed electoral fraud

I am really not sure what to make of this, but it mentions both the Ave and Mill rats! See for yourself over at the The New York Times website,

But Steve May, the Republican operative who signed up some of the candidates along Mill Avenue, a bohemian commercial strip next to Arizona State University, insists that a real political movement has been stirred up that has nothing to do with subterfuge.

“Did I recruit candidates? Yes,” said Mr. May, who is himself a candidate for the State Legislature, on the Republican ticket. “Are they fake candidates? No way.”

To make his point, Mr. May went by Starbucks, the gathering spot of the Mill Rats, as the frequenters of Mill Avenue are known.

I can’t say that most of us on Mill Ave have any political aspirations, but he certainly picked from the new crew. Nobody from the old school would want to fall for this—well, actually, I can pluck up a few. In fact, I can think of some Mill rats, like Josh and Vince, who I wouldn’t mind seeing run for political office.

The only problem that I see here is that they’d end up getting chewed up and spit out. The political vein in Arizona runs deep into a subterranean motherlode of backstabbing, corruption, and dark subterfuge. The actions in and around Mill Ave and Tempe represent only the first few tunnels that wind through that strange, dark recess of the political mindset.

I don’t know that I’d inflict that on my worst enemy.

Not that people in some of those political offices don’t feel like our worst enemy sometimes.

Fortunately, the current mayor of Tempe, Hugh Hallman, is no bad person, nor is he a pushover. But still, I wouldn’t want his job.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Elements: Air

Our invisible friend, life-maintaining, and ultimately also one of the most destructive forces known to humanity. It contains all of my favorite things about the atmosphere. Thunderstorms—for all their connection to water, still remind me of the air that supports them—have always been my refuge. One of my favorite places to sit down and write happens to be amidst a storm.

(And, have I mentioned kissing during a T-storm can be the experience electric?)

Air has a special meaning when writing Scifi. Out there in outer-space, that airless void, it’s like a fish living in an aquarium—forever captured within the confines of a small space, a thin barrier between you and ultimate oblivion. Air is a necessity, and the oxygen in it our reaction fuel to run our muscles and build our bodies. Without it, we die very quickly. Which makes it even more amusing for first year biology students who learn exactly how poisonous oxygen is when presented in excessive quantities.

Want to kill people on a space station with air? First option: remove all of it, they suffocate; second option: pump in excess oxygen until their cells fry, or their very skin ignites and incinerates them like ghastly roman candles.

To the alchemists, the air supported a model for the luminiferous aether, a substance through which all light traveled—that possibly also supported the planets, as if they were suspended in a liquid, as well as the stars.

When the air is thin, we get lightheaded. And with that lightheadedness often comes a breath of euphoria—a twinkling exhalation of endorphins as the brain fights not to shut down. It’s the same reason why huffing works to produce profound pleasure, at the expense of damaging the brain.


If I am lucky today, it will deliver me a thunderstorm, and I’ll have more to write about.

Unexpected outage

So, about 12noon AZT, went offline. I grabbed my cell and called Elaine once I noticed—at about 3pm AZT, when I was finally awake from an unexpected nap.

I had to move the flat screen monitor from Pixie over to Willowisp to get a look at the boot screen. She was up, running, and happy. I ran through a gauntlet of UNIX commands like “ifconfig” and “ip link” and “mii-tool” and discovered that both the ethernet card (eth0) and the cable were fine. In fact, thanks to mii-tool, I was able to determine that the cable itself had an actual link (no physical failure.)

Eventually, I relented and killed the CISCO cable modem. Up, down, and viola, she’s back online.

Now I just have to wait for ProjectWonderful to discover that the site is operating again and unsuspend my advertisements.

Oh, also, I have a nosebleed for no apparent reason.