Author Archive

“…space was taken…”

“In regards to the present narration, I feel compelled to defend myself against a certain sort of prejudice endemic to our times. ‘You,’ my gentle detractors will say, ‘who purport to tell the stories of these real men, are but a work of fiction.’ This I do not deny: I stand before you every bit as fictional as longitude and latitude, as the Roman calendar, as the sixty-second minute, and I encourage you to dispose with all of these to the extent that they offend you. The Prime Meridian, an act of imagination, runs over Arctic sea ice, Mediterranean waters, the sands of the Sahara. Do you doubt the sand because you doubt the line? For be assured, in the world I describe, space was taken. The fighters were heard by human ears, each word faithfully recorded. Real fingers ran over the stitches in Sean’s brow. Real tears fell down the face that watched him fall.

Now those who ask that I be as real as Sean have a curious faith in the ability of people with birth certificates and tax IDs to free themselves from the fetters of deception. My (admittedly neurotic) progenitor, on the other hand is so conscious of her own tendency toward self-confabulation that she hesitates to all anything she says of herself a fact. She has never known a real person who saw herself with even passable clarity; never known a storyteller who could tell of a trip to the supermarket without self-gratifying sins of omission. All narrators, I say, are fiction. All. The reliable ones have the decency to admit it.” – Kerry Howley, Thrown

1Q84: A Technically Accurate Synopsis

Three people are transported to an alternate reality. One of them kills a priest. The second has sex with a minor. The third desperately tries to bring the first two to justice.

Of course the reality is far weirder and more complex than that synopsis implies. A weird, wonderful, and highly recommended book.

Living in the Future: Smarter Cars Edition

Just in case you were wondering how far along our species is with the whole “autonomous automobile” project, check out this demo of the latest Tesla S, including the slick new autopilot.

Pretty wicked stuff.

“…you are looking at the ancient earth.”

“The canine breed we call the Afghan hound is doggish enough in its appearance and mannerisms that a parent would not correct a toddler who sees, points, and says “Dog”. When adults begin a philosophical conversation, the issue is not as certain. An Afghan hound is less an item of science and more a thought experiment: to see an Afghan hound is, if its particular haircut invites, to experience with immediacy an imagination of what terrible larger animal’s ghost it is.

If you search for “Afghan hound” on the internet, you will find many pictures. Humans who see fit to purchase possession of such an animal wield their freedom of life-ownership with creative expression. They cut and style the animal’s hair, or pay someone else to. You might see an Afghan hound with its fine soft hair in perfect straight shiny curtains which curl at the floor. You might see a poky twig of hair atop its head, with a pink ribbon bow endowing the animal with a gender identity. You might see the animal with short summer hair. This is where you know that the animal’s hair is not a single horse-mane which runs along its spine, waterfalling over either side: if you look at the animal’s legs, you will see its hairs poking out, dense like a raccoon’s tail fur. The animal’s hair is tight to its skin. The hair is tenacious. The hair appears as the animal’s clothes.

Dog connoisseurs will call pit bulls “pits”. They call dachshunds “wiener dogs”. In conversations about Afghan hounds, we often call them “creatures”. Mention an Afghan hound to, for example, an owner of a purebred Pembroke Welsh Corgi, and this person will maybe say, “Oh yes: those are wonderful creatures.” The Afghan hound transcends its form.

If you look at a live and breathing Afghan hound’s face, you are looking at the ancient earth. You are looking at evolution. This animal has as much in common with a pug or an English bulldog as it does with a sloth, a ferret, a zebra, and an elk. An Afghan hound has as much in common with a chihuahua as it does with a unicorn.

Witness a summer-clothes Afghan hound galloping across a field: here is the history of horses and humans. Witness a shiny formal-dress Afghan hound trotting at a dog show: here is an animal alone in an ocean of itself.” – Tim Rogers, “…A Personal History of the Afghan Hound Canine Breed”

As is often the case with Tim Rogers’ essays, the one quoted and linked above is only minimally about its supposed topic. I should mention that, depending on how prudish your workplace is, it might be consider NSFW. It is definitely, however, a compelling study of love, hope, fear, and (tangentially) Afghan Hounds.

Your Brain is Lying to You, Part 6: Pareidolia Edition

Your Brain is Lying to You, Part 5

“…like bees make honey, spiders make webs, and war makes widows.”

“The wind rushed between the branches of the zelkova tree, making a piercing howl, like the coldhearted breath leaking out between the teeth of a person who has lost all hope. Tengo gazed at the moons, not paying much attention to the sound of the wind, sitting there until his whole body was chilled to the bone. It must have been around fifteen minutes. No, maybe more. His sense of time had left him. His body, initially warmed by the whiskey, now felt hard and cold, like a lonely boulder at the bottom of the sea.

The clouds continued to scud off toward the south. No matter how many were blown away, others appeared to take their place. There was an inexhaustible source of clouds in some land far to the north. Decisive people, minds fixed on the task, clothed in thick, gray uniforms, working silently from morning to night to make clouds, like bees make honey, spiders make webs, and war makes widows.” – Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

Minerva Blesses the Gadflies

Whatever your politics, that is some top notch artistic affliction.

Your Brain is Lying to You, Part 4

Word of the Week

Sousveillance: The practice of democratized observation and recording of those in power. Antonym of surveillance.

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Magic Blue Smoke

House Rules:

1.) Carry out your own dead.
2.) No opium smoking in the elevators.
3.) In Competitions, during gunfire or while bombs are falling, players may take cover without penalty for ceasing play.
4.) A player whose stroke is affected by the simultaneous explosion of a bomb may play another ball from the same place.
4a.) Penalty one stroke.
5.) Pilsner should be in Roman type, and begin with a capital.
6.) Keep Calm and Kill It with Fire.
7.) Spammers will be fed to the Crabipede.