News of the Week*

1. People on social media are frothing at the mouth** to murder a man and his followers because he is pro-rape, according to Fox 5 news. Naturally, I’m a bit appalled and conduct further research. This research then leads me to confusion because it becomes quite clear that this man has been labelled “pro-rape” because he wrote an anti-rape article.*** Why, I ask myself, do people want to violently murder a man and his followers because the man is anti-rape? I am often confused by the world, however, so this is nothing new. My guess is that people fear this man because he’s an MRA, and not really very nice. That brings me to my next bit of news.

2. This is commentary I’m going to rip (with minor editing) from Facebook. My commentary was in response to this woman’s When you ask me to vote For Hillary…. I’m glad nobody’s asking me to vote for Hillary. They probably know I’d give them my patented death glare. That said, I’ve come to realize over the years that I don’t suffer from the same kind of fear others have, and I honestly feel sorry for people who are as fearful as the young lady who wrote this article. Understanding that I lack the kind of fear that motivates many people makes me more sympathetic toward those who value security measures such as the TSA (yet, still not toward the turncoats who work for DHS or TSA). Their fear is devouring them; they need safety nets just to do ordinary activities like open mail. This is not confined to progressives. I spent a ridiculous amount of time arguing with a conservative who fears socialism so much that he’s willing to vote against his conscience to ensure that it never happens. The ironic part is that we’ve been living with a variant of socialism, social liberalism, for well over a hundred years, which is just another sign that humans fear reality and want safety nets to protect them from it. Fear is a very powerful force. But, alas, so is evil and the power that goes along with it.

Does this mean I’m pro-socialism, because humans need it? Not exactly. Most of these same people haven’t counted the costs of what it takes to maintain the kind of social democracy Sanders advocates. That is the unfortunate side effect of acting out of fear — not thinking deeply about what those “safety nets” are going to cost them. Utopias are extraordinarily costly. Lois Lowry couldn’t have depicted the costs of utopia better when she wrote The Giver. Not that Europe’s social democracies are at that point — no, they’re rather at the point of violence due to rampant immigration of people who intensely dislike them and demographic problems caused by refusing to produce offspring. Remember, in The Giver’s utopia, emotions are suppressed in order to prevent violence (also, they are “color blind”) and women who are chosen to breed are forced to do so in order to continue their utopia. Children who aren’t exactly right for the utopia are murdered, as are the elders when it’s retirement time. Going back to socialism, it’s really difficult to maintain an aging class of people with a limited pool of workers, as is caused by very restrictive breeding practices. And that brings me to my last news story.

3. If there’s better evidence that people fear reality than the indictment of the reporters who exposed Planned Parenthood, then I don’t know what it is. And I can’t be satirical about that, in the same way I can’t be satirical about eugenics jokes. As most people know by now, the indictment was just another bit of news, soon passed over for more important considerations, such as Trump’s hair. We are living in a science fiction reality, in which we harvest our own species for science, and we’re not allowed to talk about it. At least not in those terms.

Every News of the Week post I’ve written in the past has been satirical. This one has gotten a little too…real. And I’m done. I may not be as fearful as others, but I’m perfectly capable of sadness.

*Yeah, my week IS a little different, as I don’t have weekends off. Or any days off. But that’s not the point, so stop criticizing me.

**No surprise there; social media practically wet itself with glee when cops shot and killed the Oregon protester.

***I’ve seen more of Roosh in my social media feeds the past few than I ever have. The article I linked to is anti-rape in the way that it’s written. However, if the man’s own words from his books and other blog posts are being reported accurately, then he is a complete scumbag who has practiced rape in his pick-up artistry. I hate the way social justice warriors behave, but if you are a scumbag, sometimes divine karma is simply a bitch that bites back. And that’s all I have to say about that.


Are Humans Vegetarians?

Work goals. Check. Exercise. Check. Oh, wait, I haven’t yet posted a New Year’s diet article. Well, I’d better rectify that, then. Have you ever noticed how comment threads discussing the scientific way humans are supposed to eat quickly devolve…into science? Also, ad hominem attacks about how stupid and murderous non vegans are. And how stupid vegans are for being little idealistic snits.

Let’s put this into perspective, shall we? One person cites the scientific reasons for humans being omnivores by comparing us to animals; another — carnivores by comparing us to animals; another still — herbivores by comparing us to animals. And they simply don’t seem to get the irony inherent in all of the smug claims. Have you ever stopped to consider that you can’t really compare humans to animals because animals aren’t sitting at their stupid computers arguing over what is healthiest for them to eat? Instead, they are either pets of humans and eating whatever humans feed them, or they are animals in the wild eating whatever they are wired to eat on the base level of instinct. They certainly aren’t humans writing books about animals revolting from human oppression. Although they probably should. But they won’t because they’re animals and not humans. See the difference yet?

Now, if you were to pretend for a moment that humans bore any resemblance to the animal kingdom, and went with instinct as an indicator, I think you’d have to say that humans are omnivorous animals, as humans throughout history have eaten a wide variety from the animal and vegetable kingdom. In fact, good luck on finding a pure vegetarian society; you will only find those in small (usually religious) pockets. As those pockets aren’t offering up crispy bacon and beef ribs torn heartily from bones, they tend to remain very small pockets, indeed (oh, wow, I could go for a plate of tasty ribs right now! I’m feeling so….carniverous).

But I don’t prefer to call humans omnivorously instinctual animals. After all, we are entirely dissimilar to every animal on the planet. Have you ever heard of an animal preserving his food through smoking, salt, sugar, canning, and pickling? No? Neither have I. Have you ever heard of an animal inventing refrigerator units and Tupperware to keep food fresh longer? No? Neither have I. Nor have I heard of animals cooking their food with fire, brick ovens, propane burners, and electric ranges.

So why does anyone think I should care that humans bear some similarities with herbivores or carnivores? I’ve never, for the life of me, seen an herbivorous deer cooking its leaves to break up the cellulose in order that the plant’s minerals become more accessible. But we do that. We cook and we pickle and we dress our foods with vinegar, oil, and spices. We do this so that it tastes good and becomes more digestible to us.

Because of our non-animalistic ways, we’ve also somehow managed to invent computers, where we look up recipes and argue about the healthiest ways to eat/diet/prevent cancer. Some of us even use our invented internet for spouting our religiously dogmatic postures, such as, Humans are vegetarians just like all the other herbivores out there!! No, we are not, or we would be vegetarians. We would graze the fields and not suffer extreme digestive disorders from doing so. And we would, thank God, shut the hell up about it. Instead, we skip the grass, boil our peas, and grill our fish until the flesh falls tastily off the bones. At some point, we even figured out how to bread our food and deep-fry it, which didn’t help us digest it at all. It just happened to be wickedly tasty. What animal has ever done that?! How can you argue with observable reality? Well, okay, you can, but that’s only because you’re a human…and not a cow.

So bon apetit! Have fun with your New Year’s resolutions. I hope you find a delectable diet that gives you great health and even more enjoyment.


Book Writing and Formatting Programs: the Love-Hate

Since I self-published my own book, to the present day in which I format books professionally, I have used a number of programs, including these:

  1. MS Word
  2. Libreoffice
  3. Scrivener
  4. Scribus
  5. InDesign
  6. Sigil
  7. Calibre.

I began formatting with MS Word because most of the instruction guides were for that program rather than for Libreoffice, which is what I’ve used to write my books. I had to use our family computer for MS Word, which had an older copy. I despise MS Word. That said, with the instruction manuals and the help of a liquid diet, I figured it out (by liquid diet, I mean raw milk and coffee, as I couldn’t tear myself away from my project long enough to eat real food). From there, I proceeded to convert to pdf for print and an HTML file for ebook; I knew of no other way.

At that time, on my own little netbook I took everywhere, I had a Linux base and Libreoffice. Libreoffice is one of the best (IMO) word processors available. I still use it as my primary writing program. These days, it has some fancy elements such as word-tracking and dropcaps, but its best feature for formatting is the system of styles, whereby you can create your front matter, first-chapter pages for left vs right, and back matter. Documents export to pdf looking very professional. Of course, you can get a reasonably professional looking document with MS Word as well. I prefer Libreoffice because it’s logical in the way it’s set up.

Scrivener is a program mainly used for organizing and writing a first draft of a novel. It has some good features, such as “sticky notes”. Some writers love it, some hate it — I’m in between. It’s not a great program for formatting, at least not the version I have (I haven’t recently updated).

However, I would no longer recommend using any word processor for either ebook or print book development. Desktop publishers are much better to work with for print because word-tracking, glyph size, etc. are manually controlled. It’s much easier to eradicate gaps in the text, short end-of-chapter pages, and orphans. Orphans are the lonely lines or stray words at the end of a paragraph that have been pushed to the top of a new page. Additionally, you can use entire font families in desktop publishers (e.g. italics, bold, smallcaps) instead of forcing these styles onto the regular font.

After learning Scribus, the opensource desktop publisher, I decided to go on the Cloud and rent InDesign for a year. InDesign is what professionals use, and it has a handful of sexy fonts. Okay, I’m just going to be honest. I hate InDesign. It was as if it was created for the creative mind rather than the orderly one — a right brain vs a left brain problem? I don’t know. Perhaps opensource programs, not being for the general market, are just a little more plain and orderly. Scribus makes sense to me, so after a number of months of automatic payments to the Adobe beast, I still prefer Scribus.

For ebooks, there is really nothing to compare Sigil to. You can create a decent ebook with Calibre, but why, when there is Sigil? I am, in fact, a little in love with Sigil. Desktop publishers are fairly tedious no matter what program you use. This is because typography is tedious. Building ebooks is fun. It’s relaxing. I love to make stylesheets and build chapters from the ground-up with no dirty background formatting. I would build ebooks for a fun hobby, except that I prefer to be paid.

You didn’t ask for it, and yet I gave it to you anyway! My (now, as of about a year ago!) professional opinion on formatting. To reiterate, the programs I love after all this time are these:

  1. Sigil
  2. Libreoffice (mainly for writing)
  3. Scribus.

If you would like any more unsolicited opinions, let me know. Er, except then they’d be solicited.


January Brings…

…a lot of work. I’m busy. Really busy. My crazy blogging frenzy of a week past is now over. Despite it all, I hope to have the book I wrote almost two years ago compiled and edited by the end of January, at which point I will have a willing editor and cover artist awaiting my book (the cover artist says he reads books before he designs their covers, which is amazing dedication if you ask me).

Meanwhile, to prop me up, I exercise. I always exercise. I love exercise. I collect videos. I like them because the fitness instructors are a strange group of humans that say really, really weird things. Some of it’s meant to be inspirational, no doubt, and some meant as mental foci (no doubt!).

Take, for example, this one: “Keep your head on your spine!” Ah, do I have to? I really like terrifying the small children in my neighborhood.

Or this: “Make sure your spine remains unbroken!” Well, I would, if the small children in the neighborhood would stop stepping on cracks. Or lines. Or however it goes. They deserve to be terrified, see. Little beasts.

Or: “You’re wearing a corset. Naturally!” I am? Oh, is that why I suddenly can’t breathe?

Or: “Watch out, J Lo, we’re comin’ up!” Huh. I suppose J Lo was big on doing exercise induced hip gyrations somewhere at some time. I only remember her from the Selena movie, where she grew a large derriere over the course of the film. It was a butt pad, had to be — nobody’s butt could increase that much over the length of a shoot, unless she wasn’t doing those hip gyrations properly.

Or: “You’re lookin’ good!” I’m not sure if that one is inspirational, or just creepy. Why are they watching me? Am I being watched all the time? How about right now? Do They Live?!

Or: “Do it for your beautiful bottom!” Okay, that’s as good a reason as any. Do it, lest your bottom tries to get revenge on you. I’ve heard beautiful bottoms can be narcissistic psychopaths.

Along those lines, the most inspirational speech I’ve ever run across so far is this one: “If you don’t squeeze your butt right now, nobody else is going to!” That’s probably true — all this writing, you know, and a standing desk I refuse to use when there’s a comfy couch just sitting there looking so forlorn and empty.

I should do some squats right now. That’ll teach it. Most likely, it’ll teach me, starting tomorrow when I have to be on my feet at work, and my coworkers will not very politely inform me that they don’t want to hear me whine about how many squats I did the day before.

Happy days!



Keats’s Ode Confirmed (and the Chain of Events that Led Me to that Conclusion)

I say off the cuff things all the time. Ninety-nine point nine percent of the time, I’m being goofy. That’s because I have an invisible friend inside my brain who is a comedian. He romps around and quietly or not so quietly laughs at everything except that which cannot be laughed at. So when I quipped quite lightly on social media that it would suck for astronomers if we were actually trapped inside a black hole that would distort our perspective of what is outside the black hole, I got a number of responses from different people.

  1. There was the person who got the joke. (my husband)
  2. There was the person who didn’t know how it could be possible because we’d all be dead. (a new Facebook friend)
  3. There was the person who took the nihilistic, philosophical way. (my cousin, who’s wired like I am — seriously, we’re like twins but not twins)
  4. There was the person who knows a lot about science and is always up for a conversation, but will set me straight on my definitions. (a longtime Facebook friend who likes to discuss ideas)
  5. There was the person who gave another example of how our perspectives could be skewed. (another longtime Facebook friend who plays with ideas)

Naturally, the only person I wanted to argue with was the one who wanted to set me straight on my definitions. Now, don’t take me wrong. I argue with him because he’s a good friend I enjoy arguing with. He also knows a lot, so it’s worth my time. Even if it was a joke. A stupid joke. The kind that falls out of my mouth every few minutes all day long and sometimes ends up on Facebook.

And here’s where I depart from the words above. I don’t know what that was about, except an analysis of social reaction and interaction to one’s jokes. I’m currently writing a novel length comedy. I’ve been writing short comedies since I was in junior high and never have (until now) attempted full-length. For the record, it’s draining. In an interview I watched a long time ago, Rowan Atkinson said it was exhausting being Mr. Bean for a full-length film. This is probably why Mr. Bean in the early days was composed of short sketches. I think I may understand what he’s talking about. It’s difficult to maintain at that level for an extended period. That is not to mention that after all the hard work, many people just don’t find the jokes funny.

To move on, I was pretty sure that the theory of our being in a black hole didn’t originate from me. So I looked it up on Google. Sure enough. There is a theory as proposed by astrophysicist Niayesh Afshordi and his team that we are a 3D membrane inside a 4D black hole. Let’s be honest; I can visualize this concept — kind of — but I don’t fully understand the science. So I’ll just leave it at that.

Scientists have critics, as well. Their hard-earned theories fall flat for the wrong audience. But there will always, and I mean always, be the scientists who disregard theories because they aren’t elegant enough. I meet them at parties all the time. Lo and behold, there was one such commentary on the article I read, in which the sciencey person claimed the theory was unnecessary because there were much more elegant theories out there. Unnecessary. Yes, you read that right. When grappling with the nature of truth, the only answers deemed “necessary” are the beautiful ones.

As Keats wrote: ‘“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all / Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.’ For humans, there is a lot of truth to that, even though the commentary itself is harsh and not altogether beautiful. We are attracted and distracted by beauty. Beauty resonates with our very souls. For the more sophisticated among us, beauty must be elegant, as well.

It is too bad, that. I’m sure there is something beautiful hiding inside my comedy, but if so, it’s hidden fairly deep.