The Carcer Principle

Let me tell you one of the most important lessons my favorite author ever taught me. In Terry Pratchett’s Night Watch, the main villain is a thief, murderer, and all-around bastard named Carcer. He’s the very picture of a psychopath—he has no conscious, feels no guilt, and doesn’t even understand the idea of right or wrong. He’s egotistical, volatile, constantly smiling, and he always has an extra knife. In a basically well-run city where the rule of law is kept, he...

Fire, further

It’s not just capitalism that’s like fire. It’s the internet, it’s advertising, it’s lawyers, it’s video games, it’s beer. Where there’s power, there’s almost always danger. That the world’s filled with fire shouldn’t be cause for despair. It is a good cause for vigilance, though. “We didn’t start the fire It was always burning Since the world’s been turning” -Billy Joel Feel free to use the fire, in all of its forms. Just don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s your friend....

Fire

Two things are undeniable about fire: it’s useful, and it’s dangerous. Anyone who’s been burned by a match or gotten too close to a campfire knows the latter for a fact. Yet it’s true that fire is useful as well. From cooking our food to warming our homes to powering the entire industrial revolution (and many of our cities today), fire has been at the center of much of human progress. Fire is powerful. Yet it’s still dangerous, as even children know. So we pin...

Starting a story with a bang—and when not to

The conventional wisdom is that fictional stories need to appeal to their audience right after they begin, lest the audience get bored and wander off. That’s why so many action stories start off with an action scene, romance stories with a lovey-dovey scene, mysteries with something that hints toward the mystery. Grab ’em quick before they lose interest, that’s the ticket! Youjo Senki started with an episode of action, and it sucked. The second episode, which had less action, would have been a...

If my mother was a politician

My mom is a fighter. She might not think of herself as such, but that’s how I think of her. She’s not the kind who dodges the blows, or backs away from the fight. Oh no. She wades through the punches, accepting the slings and arrows of everyone who gives her shit, and she does not give a fuck. I got that trait from my father as well, who is small-s stoic (think John Wayne crossed with Harrison Ford), but it’s...

Why I never give characters temporary names

If I give a character any kind of temporary name, it might stick. That’s why I never do it. I give them the name they will keep, or I identify them in strictly descriptive terms—the Prince, the Enemy Leader, the Chief. The less descriptive, the better. (Though sometimes, even those stick. I’m looking at you, True Head Cultist.) It’s a lot easier to give a name to the Swordsman than it is to rename a character with an ill-considered temporary name. Temporary...

Conflicted feelings on the Electoral College

I don’t think the Electoral College is a good way to select a leader. It magnifies the power of white voters, disenfranchises voters in non-swing states, and leaves open the possibility that a legitimate winner can be denied victory by a small group of unelected, unknown citizens—and before you give me the argument that the Electoral College ensures that the president has to win a variety of states, it really doesn’t. Just the eleven most populous states—California, Texas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, and...

Voting Reform: Single Transferable Vote

I’m going to cheat with this post. Rather than follow up my voting reform post with another big bunch of words, I’m going to let the guy who introduced me to this solution do the talking. His nom de guerre is CGP Grey, and the following videos, in order, are mandatory viewing. They will show you why our current voting system is broken, and how we can fix it. (Seriously. If you do one thing today, watch these. Stop reading my books if that’s what...

They didn’t feel heard. I don’t feel heard. This is a problem

One of the biggest conundrums I’ve been wrestling with from the 2016 election is what lesson to draw from the Democrat’s defeat, especially when it was fueled by bigotry. That’s not all it was fueled by, but it was a definite, even critical, component. Many of Trump’s voters didn’t feel like they were being heard by the “elites” in Washington, and that may very well be true—but how do you respect that feeling when it was so tightly intertwined with bigotry? Moreover, how do you appeal to...

What the hell do we do now?

Quick update, for those who haven’t been following the news. The CIA has reportedly concluded that, not only did Russia interfere with the US election, it did it not to increase distrust in our system in general, but specifically to elect Donald Trump. This is based on the conclusion that not only was the Democratic National Committee hacked, but the Republican National Committee was hacked as well—and that information was not released. This is among other preexisting evidence that it was Russian agents...