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Posts Tagged ‘imaginative fiction’

Once in a while I write something while under the influence that reveals some murky river flowing through caverns measureless to Man, down to the sunless sea deep in my brain.  A couple of weeks ago I replied (while sober) to some moralistic prattle about how the “sin” of homosexuality is still a choice even if it’s an innate predilection, with the following:  “Most humans are born with the inclination toward mindless submission to authority; they not only let it rule them and ruin their lives, but also foist that violent authority upon the virtuous others who are not inclined to that sin, ruining their lives as well.”  But then later in the evening, when I was already well on my way to my secret Garden of The Unknown, one of my regular readers replied with a comment on the concept of sin, and my inebriated brain responded with the following, which you may find interesting (or not):

That depends entirely on how one defines “sin”; it’s not as cut-and-dried as most people think.  Did you ever read this?  It’s one the 10 scariest short stories I’ve ever read.  Now, a lot of people don’t think it’s frightening at all, and maybe even boring; this is because it’s all suggestion and nuance and shadows and no “the house is haunted because slave children were tortured there” modern pat origin BS.  If you don’t have the kind of dark, shuttered rooms and bottomless abysses in your skull that I do, this tale may not take your imagination to the kind of utterly horrifying place that it takes mine.  But if you’re a fan of Poe, Lovecraft, Benson, Blackwood, et al, you might find it at least creepy and worth your time, if not in your personal top ten.  And if you do like it, here are my other nine; PDFs of 13 more tales are included.

No, we aren’t to Halloween season yet, but IMHO it’s never a bad time for tales of the macabre.

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Time to die.  –  Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer)

Rutger Hauer died last week, and while I’m not really a fan of Blade Runner I couldn’t resist sharing this video as a memorial.  The links above it were provided by Billy Binion (“faking”), David Ley (“protecting”), Tim Cushing (“showing”), Emma Evans (“sitting”), and Rick Horowitz (“looking”).

From the Archives

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Any week which includes a Who night with Lorelei is a good week, but last week was good in other ways as well.  It started early Monday morning with a lecture (via video link) to an anthropology class at the University of Michigan, then continued Tuesday with one of my regular beauty treatments and a lovely evening with Lorelei (which beside Doctor Who also included the last two episodes of Good Omens).  I had a productive week of both remunerative work and writing (after editing my video lecture for Renegade University last week), and I even got two lovely presents:  the seventh season of Bewitched from Chekhov, and a Stornoway black pudding all the way from Scotland via Brooke Magnanti!  I like regular black pudding, but the Stornoway variety is without peer and at the time of this writing I’m still savoring the memory of the flavor from dinner a few hours ago; I’m going to take what’s left of this one out to Sunset on Thursday to share with Grace for Lammas.  Anyhow, that’s all I have to say for now; the selfie is simply one I took last Thursday and thought my hair looked extra-nice.

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The single biggest fallacy in Randianism is the notion that the great industrialists of the past succeeded by their own genius.  They didn’t; every single one got wealthy due to crony deals with politicians, “officially”-granted monopolies, protectionist laws, subsidies, etc; in other words fascism, not the free market.  I’m an agorist; I believe all human interactions should be voluntary exchanges, and that nobody has a right to insert themselves into others’ voluntary arrangements.  But crony capitalism warps markets with collectivist violence, making them evil.  Let’s take one modern example, far more subtle than bailouts, subsidies or “regulations” so complex it takes a full-time legal department (such as big companies have and small ones don’t):  the copyright scam.  Basic copyright is a good concept; it allows creative people to make a living from their creations.  Without it, nobody could afford to be a full-time creator because the unscrupulous would constantly be stealing their work.  But look at how collusion between government and giant media corporations (especially Disney) have warped this good concept into a sick means of fascist corporations making billions from the intellectual creations of people who have been dead for decades.  Mickey Mouse and many other characters should have entered the public domain years ago, but the collectives which “own” them paid off enough Congresscritters to ensure that won’t happen, and the process will continue indefinitely until something is done about it.  But what could be done?  Well, If I were dictatrix, I’d set copyright at life plus 21 years, so any minor children of a creator who died young could enjoy those rights until majority.  But anything longer stifles future generations from doing new things with those creations (as Disney himself did with public-domain characters created by others).  I’d also bar corporations from owning copyright; only human creators (including teams of specifically-named individuals) could have that.  Of course, the creator could license his creation to a company, as Charles Moulton licensed Wonder Woman to DC.  But 21 years after the creator croaks?  It’s all over, including the licenses.  Under my system, everything John Lennon did solo (post-Beatles) would’ve come out of copyright a couple of weeks after George Harrison died in ’01, and Harrison’s work would now have only three years left.  But the collective Beatles creations would still be protected until 21 years after the last Beatle shuffles off this mortal coil.  Superman would’ve entered the public domain two and a half years ago, 21 years after Jerry Siegel’s death (his co-creator, Joe Shuster, died in 1992); imagine what stories new creators could soon write about him or about Batman (out of copyright this coming November in my system).

The “creative team” structure leaves a loophole, but I think it’s a sensible one that could allow a creator to care for loved ones after his death.  All a creator would need to do is give equal creative credit (at the time of publication; retroactive attribution would not be allowed) to the person he wanted to protect.  So if Lennon had given Yoko Ono official equal credit on all or some of his post-Beatles work, the music so credited would still be under copyright until 21 years after she croaks.  A clever creator could even give equal credit to their kids on individual works (one book or album per kid, that sort of thing).  And it would last until 21 years after that “co-creator” died, but there would be no such thing as collectives of investors who never even met Walt Disney profiting from his genius 52 years after his death.  This wouldn’t kill companies; for example, Disney would still hold rights to all from their ’90s revival, probably for decades to come, and they’ve got plenty of money to keep licensing new characters ad infinitum.  But no more resting on laurels, and no more using the power of government to stop other people from doing exactly what 19th and 20th-century creators did.

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It’s a good day for a chokehold.  –  “Officer” Reuben Carver

Dr. John, the legendary New Orleans musician, died this week.  Actually, “institution” would be a more apt term; in many Crescent City circles, saying you didn’t like his music would be fighting words.  Those of you who never lived there will probably recognize this song (suggested by Jesse Walker), which was his biggest hit.  The links above it were provided by Kevin Wilson, Furrygirl, Christian Britschgi, Mirriam Seddiq, Cathy Reisenwitz, and Amy Alkon, in that order.

From the Archives

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In the Gilligan’s Island TV show, Dr. Roy Hinkley was originally stated to be a high-school science teacher with a degree in botany.  But like all TV “scientists” his store of knowledge and his technical abilities grew as required by lazy writers; he soon became a university professor rather than a high-school teacher and his expertise grew to include chemistry, entomology, psychology, engineering and several obscure Polynesian languages (and that’s just what I recall from childhood).  Whatever intellectual ability or STEM-type skill was required by the plot, the Professor was sure to have already or be able to rapidly acquire by consulting one of the many books he inexplicably brought along on a “three-hour tour”; that he not be skilled in boat repair was also required by the plot, so we’ll just leave that one alone for now.  The important thing is that in episodic fiction (whether that be television, comic books, pulp novels or whatever) “scientist” or “sage” type characters are generally assumed to have vast and encyclopedic knowledge and to be nigh-omnicompetent (Spock in Star Trek wasn’t quite as bad until the third season, when he suddenly acquired previously-unmentioned competencies such as comparative linguistics and art history, again as required by lazy writers).  Such formidable intellectual prowess rarely exists outside of fantasy, and yet you’d be amazed how often people in real life seem to expect unusually intelligent and erudite people to display similarly-superhuman intellectual abilities.  It happens to me on a regular basis; people seem to expect me to know basically everything, and while I certainly do have an exceptional memory, an excellent education, an uncannily-large store of mostly-useless trivia and an above-average learning rate, there are still vast gaps in my abilities and whole intellectual realms I know no more about than the average person (or even less than average if it has anything to do with popular culture from about 1995 to the present).  One of those gaps is computer stuff; in 1989 I actually had above-average practical computer skills (though I had flunked programming half a decade before), but I never really kept up and I’m still not entirely sure how a microprocessor actually works (THIS IS NOT AN INVITATION TO ATTEMPT AN EXPLANATION IN THE COMMENTS).  Add to that a general aversion to change, a neurological & emotional inability to deal with formal systems, and the fact that my brain was already fully canalized several years before I had home access to the internet, and I think you’ll be able to understand why I’m really not good with computer and internet stuff.  And because I am good at so many things, I tend to be very uncomfortable with and anxious about the things I’m not good at.  I tend to deal with obstacles in my path by figuring them out, charming them, intimidating them, or crying, and none of those work on a computer which is doing something I neither desire nor comprehend.  So if you want to interview me or have me on your podcast or whatever, you are really really really going to have to take care of “the technical details of anything more complicated than ‘click here’, ‘please look into the camera’ or ‘answer the phone’.”  I’m sorry if that reduces me in your estimation; perhaps it would restore your faith if you think of computer stuff being for me as boatbuilding must have been for The Professor.

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The war on guns, like the war on drugs, is primarily waged on poor people.  –  Baynard Woods and Brandon Soderberg

Doris Day, who passed away this week at the ripe old age of 97, was probably my mother’s favorite singer; I remember her singing “Que Sera, Sera” so often when I was a child that I knew the lyrics by heart before I started school (and it’s one of the few popular songs entirely within my rather-limited vocal range).  So it only seems appropriate to feature a recording of that song as this week’s video; the link above it were provided by SWOP Behind Bars, Tim Cushing, C.J. Ciaramella, Elizabeth N. Brown, Radley Balko, and Tim Cushing again (in that order).

From the Archives

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