Monthly Archives: July 2016

Yes, Virginia, This Is a Conspiracy Theory

Trump has an all-Northerner ticket, an unusual selection. The need to balance the ticket (Chris Christie should have known better than to hope for a NY-NJ run) is a political truism, and most specifically this means the need to include one Northerner and one Southerner.  (Did Biden count as balance? Delaware is south of the […]

Dark and Stormy Nights

People talk about bad opening lines, but as far as I’m concerned there’s always been only one “worst” way to open a story or especially a novel, and that is with lines of unattributed dialogue. The text on the left, from Mysterious Island by Jules Verne (some hapless translator may be to blame) exemplifies the […]

Science Fiction Senses

When I was younger, a lot of my science fiction dreams were about alien species,  and I was obsessed with the idea of aliens having different senses than ours. The problem is that making up a new sense (“We perceive things through fleen”) is not very interesting. What does it mean to have a sense […]

Narrative and Shame

Every once in a while the internet presents, on a silver platter, a new sacrificial victim for us to hate, and we tend to oblige. Sometimes, of course, the victim is offending* our demographic and it’s important to circle the wagons, but sometimes the victim is just behaving badly, and everyone can agree that this […]

All Lives Addendum

Continued from here, obviously. This one I just started seeing getting shared around today, but it is an example of how incoherent these arguments have become. The biblical statement “blessed are the poor” is pretty clearly an attack on the rich. If “black lives matter” was intended to imply that it is easier for a […]

Facts about Animals

From Claudius Aelianus’ On the Characteristics of Animals (second century): I. On molluscs The thieving Tree Octopus If a field, of if trees with fruit upon them are close by the sea, farmers often find that in summer Octopuses…have emerged from the waves, have crept up the trunks, have enveloped the branches, and are plucking […]

Lives Matter?

It’s astonishing how much vitriol that two groups can summon up concerning two statements that ostensibly they both agree with. Pretty much everyone involved in the current debate believes that black lives and all lives matter, and yet stating what is after all a truism is taboo, depending on your demographic. Both sides are convinced that the […]

All Actions Are Propaganda

All actions are propaganda. All of them. For example, by writing these words in English, I am asserting, intentionally or not, that English is a medium in which to share thoughts with others. This is such an uncontroversial statement about English that it hardly seems worth making, but if I’d written the first sentence in Esperanto it […]

Are We Getting More Child Molesters?

I. I was talking to a friend about Stand by Me the other day, and she happened to mention (it made sense in context) that we don’t have more child molesters than we did in the past, we just catch them more often now and don’t cover it up as much any more. This statement […]

Text of My Speech from the ILA Conference

I spoke this weekend, along with some other authors, at the International Literacy Association conference in Boston, on the topic of “Fantasy Creatures, Heroes, and Feats That Engage Readers” (followed by a signing, depicted). This is the text of my speech, below. It’s not in full sentences all the time, because I was trying to memorize […]