I have an idea for another book

You know that thing where you never really finish one project before you’re on to the next? I have an idea for another book.

So I’m more than a little fascinated with the history and historicity of religious movements. Not the religions themselves, but the context of the faiths through their history.

Like this: the creation myth in the Abrahamic religions shouldn’t be taken literally. But rather, the original version codified in the Tanakh is an obvious allegory for a people who had (probably at the time of writing it down) recently lost a major center of faith and society (the first or second temple, I can’t quite recall at this moment). It’s a story about how to deal with being forced out of your home. No fantastical elements required. It’s very human: grief and dealing with it.

That’s what I want to write. I want to take all the Torah stories, and the Bible and Quran too, and pick them apart for what they actually mean in a the context of when they were written. I mean, if Genesis is basically an allegory for losing a home, then what was the story in Esther supposed to mean (given that it’s not historically accurate at all)? Or that one depressing Bible book (started with an E…)? And I’ll be honest, I don’t know much about Islam, but I bet it follows the same pattern of codifying myths with the intent of helping people.

Now, you might be wondering what my reasoning is. “Michael, you’re just a curmudgeon and an atheist, what could you possibly get from studying the bible?” The Abrahamic religions were and are the most prolific faiths in human history, two offshoots of the first boasting about two billion (BILLION~!) followers each (and that’s not getting into other world religions) Why wouldn’t I be interested in the reason why?

This is why I prefer to get in bed exhausted…

Do you know what’s worse than the existential dread of having to get up in the morning and go to work? Knowing that you don’t really have anything to complain about in the grand scheme of the pageant of humanity.

I have a job I actually like and that I’m actually pretty good at performing. I have a good balance between that and a range of friends that I actually get to see or interact with fairly often. I’m enjoying the endless rewrites of my book. I might be in my dad’s living room, but money is almost right to change that.

Life is fair. Not always evenhanded, but fair. And I’m sitting around doggy paddling in an ocean of dread and thoughts ranging from being sour about the fall of Constantinople to wondering who I’m going to room with so I can trust my shit won’t vanish in the middle of the night.

Ever have those nights, where everything is pretty much OK but where you think the world is on fire?

1 February 2001, 0836

In the early days of the twenty-first century, a self-proclaimed time traveler from the year 2036 arrived online. As the title of this essay suggests, what I’ve chosen to discuss today pertains to John Titor’s post for 1 February 2001, 0836 in the morning.

On responding to earlier posts by other people, Titor says that his casual reference to the year 2008 “was a general date by which time everyone will realize the world they thought they were living in was over.”

He goes on to describe events as he learned or experienced them on his worldline (his term for the timeline he experienced as the natural timeline).

“The civil war in the United States will start in 2004. I would describe it as having a Waco type event every month that steadily gets worse. The conflict will consume everyone in the US by 2012 and end in 2015 with a very short WWIII.”

As should be clear to anyone who experienced this worldline, there was no civil war in America in 2004, and no global conflict that resulted in a short-lived world war.

However, one could argue that America has been experiencing “Waco type event[s]” with frighteningly increasing frequency over the past decade or so.

For the sake of argument, I’ll point out events in broad categories. America has faced domestic terrorist acts such as bombings like that carried out in Boston in 2013 and an unforgiving and brutal wave of school shootings over the past several years; acts of slaughter such as those in Aurora, Colorado and Orlando, Florida taken against innocent people, a systemic institutional racism shown in the police-related shooting deaths of numerous young black people in this country, and a decline in wealth equality resulting in mounting discontent by many in the population complete with another push for polarization of political philosophy.

I need to take a breath after that. We’ve had a busy couple of decades since the century turned over.

This series of events could be the “Waco type” events Titor described, but that have not yet resulted in a formal civil war. Perhaps we’re already seeing some of what such a war would be in this nation. Some parts are fought by protestors in the streets; some by young people looking for work in Washington; some by desk mice at their keyboards. But I do hope that the time traveler’s future never comes to pass.

The last thing we need is to give the current administration a real reason to suppress people further.

-M

Musings on the 21st Century

“Basic message repeats: V.G. Smith reports. Currently stranded in 21st century. Taking long way around. If possible, establish currency drawing accounts at pre-established banking institutions for living purposes; otherwise, return is set for 6 July 2129. Have Gardiston and crew ready at that date. Best wishes, James.”

Musings on the early 21st century:

Having been born into a particular era, I know a fair bit about the people and society therein. That’s not to say I’m an expert in psychology or sociology or anything; but I know people. Well, at least my own era’s people. People aren’t hard to follow. OK, think of it this way: what separates a man born in 2000 from a man born in 2100?

The man born in 2000 is mired in the muck that is economics and religion; he is trapped in a society that has its morals and priorities all mixed up. How, in all the world, did the human race not realize that you can’t practice religions with rules like, “Love thy neighbor,” while living in an economic system where one has to work for a third or more of a life just to survive?

The man born in 2100 has similar problems, but economics isn’t one of them. People are still, in a general sort of way, fools, ignorant and downright stupid. But at least the majority of them are decently educated, fed and are accepting of decent customs like privacy and an actual application of the Golden Rule.

Having to live through the 21st century for a second time has taught me something interesting about the time that whelped me: people believe only what they want to. Case in point, a man I work with (I picked up a part-time job to observe these people a little.) thinks research into Dark Matter and Kerr black holes will revolutionize science and energy production. Likewise, another man I work with thinks the election of a wealthy fascist into political office will revitalize the waning economy. Is either right? Not at all. But it’s OK to dream of a better tomorrow even if a dream is only a dream if it never comes to fruition.

Just the other day, I had stimulated a conversation with one of the scientists from the labrotory on the other end of town about the future of human exploration. I wanted to see where my coworkers would take the subject she and I spoke so heatedly about, so I kept prodding and playing advocate to the Devil in every point. It amused me, if only because I carry such foreknowledge to this century, that they couldn’t see past the accomplishments of the automobile and the mobile music player. These people seem to worship such small things.

Offhandedly, I gave an exact year to the first Solarian interstellar flight as being 61 years from the present date. Nothing but blank stares and a questioning throat sound; so I explained, “The first time we saw Alpha Centauri up close was in 2077, right at the end of the year. Nothing there, obviously, but the stars were neat to watch circle one another from only a few AU away. Been there myself, once, when I was a kid. It’s a tourist trap now. Come see the Earth-men dance around in zero-gravity. Marstarians and Ellegrans come and fuel the Solarian tourist market by taking in shows and enjoying delicacies of Earth and Mars. Ellegrans especially have a taste for North American grass served with a light soy sauce drizzle or a vinaigrette. Oddly, they don’t like lettuce or other human veggies served the same way. To each their own, I guess.”

More blank stares. To each their own, indeed.

The people of this time period are odd in other ways. They care about skin color and place of birth. If I told someone I have an Britannian/European best friend and his wife is French/Welsh nobility, they’d probably laugh at me. (On which part, I wonder: Britannia or foreign nobility?) If I expanded and made even the slight mention that the Martian Augustian Marquis or the Margrave la Albion had skin darker than a boring, sunless pink, they might even take violent offence. I don’t understand these people that were once my colleagues and peers. But at least I’ve grown away from that way of thinking, though I admit to once being such a close minded fool as well.

It should only be another few years before I can set up delay mail to myself – can’t set up too quickly, should Past Me take notice and start asking questions. 2037 should give me a nice margin for error and it’ll get me free of fallout from the last major war this century. Worst case: the letters don’t make it due to human error or data failure. Doesn’t matter really – I’m taking the long way home regardless of the assistance I get from the Method.

Kara Thrace and Her Special Destiny (Battlestar Spoilers)

Sounds like a bad cover band, right? Well they exist apparently. But that’s not the point of my post. 

You know what bothered me about BSG? For all the talk Leoban (Leobin?) did about Kara and her destiny, he sure did run away fast when it turned out she actually died in that viper crash before they found the original Earth. 

Why did he do that? He just vanished from the show at that point. No closure or further exploration into Kara or the Cylon God; just gone. 

At least investigate; rather than letting your apparent life’s work die with Kara. 

Fracking Toasters, not finishing their business. 

Rant over. 

The Real Meaning of Noblesse Oblige

There is a certain amount of truth here in these words.

Mary Achor's Weblog

My favorite English teacher, a tough, old-fashioned broad named Miss Edna Stewart, spent an entire high school class period discussing the meaning and obligation of noblesse oblige. It was the motto of the National Honor Society, so she was trying to get the ethics of it through our thick skulls. It is the class period I have never forgotten.

Noblesse oblige literally translates to “nobility obligates.” It implies that with wealth, power and prestige come social responsibilities; it is a moral obligation to act with honor, kindliness and generosity.

The term is often used sarcastically, implying that one is a hypocrite by doing a service because one has to, or by being condescending while doing it. My mother used to refer to that kind of attitude as being a “Lady Bountiful,” doing good deeds because you’re special, to make yourself feel better and make others feel bad at…

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3×5 Challenge! Day Three!

Today’s 3×5 Challenge consists of some of my static typography. With no exception, I like to put real time into working out exactly where the parts of my letters end up. Sometimes, a single pixel of space looks better than two pixels. Who knew that such a tiny different could change a piece so much? Enjoy~

3×5 Challenge! Day Two!

Day two here we come! Here are three more works I’ve made. Today I’m showing off some derivative pieces based on the Japanese animated franchise Neon Genesis Evangelion. Each is the combination of acquired art and my own typography or backing layers (with the exception of “At The Very Beginning,” for which I sourced an image of Sabrina’s for the backing layer). Enjoy!