Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Links: Daily Dose of Death, Deleterious Demonizing of Male Sexuality, and Chinese Ice Cream

After a long hiatus, Monday’s links return!

While a daily dose of death is hardly something most of us would consider pleasant, Diana Athill, in her article on the RadioTimes, opens with the thought that thinking about death a little bit each day is a good way to come to terms with its inevitability. Her article as a whole amounts to a thoughtful meditation on death, and overcoming the fear of it. I definitely recommend this take on humanity’s oldest conflict.

On more lively subjects, Alyssa Rose at the Good Men Project discusses how our demonization of male sexuality hurts women and men alike. As a man, this is an article I am very glad to see. I agree with her arguments, and would add that our culture more or less considers all sex to be rape. Sex—especially when men are involved—assumes the function of asserting social dominance over others. We all suffer the psychological ramifications of this dogma, which warps an aspect of ourselves that is instinctively linked to affection. Give this one a read, and mull it over.

Those of you who have seen Iron Man 3 know that fortune cookies look Chinese, and sound Chinese, but are actually an American invention. However, according to Civilization V’s Civlopedia, the world is even stranger than that. Ice cream may look American, sound American, and even taste American, but is, in fact, a Chinese invention, and over 4000 years old. This little bit of trivia is at the bottom of the page, but you’ll probably want to read through the reams of fascinating history before it anyway.

As I mentioned in last week’s post, I will be keeping to one update a week for the time being. Once work on the book, school, and my search for a day job resolve themselves sufficiently, I hope to return to my usual three updates per week.

Stay tuned, and see you next Monday!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Status Update and Announcements

It has been a while since I have posted, and I would like to apologize for my absence. The Kickstarter campaign and its aftermath took a lot out of me; however, I still feel that my hiatus should have had more planning involved. Fortunately, not only was the Kickstarter campaign successful, but I have learned a few things about my operational limits.

As I turn my attention to revising Rosaria of Venice in earnest, I will resume updates on Runicfire. They will, however, be less frequent than before. I will commit to one post a week while I am in the middle of revising, with additional updates if I have time. Some of these will be essays, and others will be the usual Monday link round-ups. I plan to return to my original schedule of three updates per week—however, as I enter my last year before earning my bachelor’s, fulfill the Kickstarter rewards and look for a day job, it may be some time before I can return to that schedule.

I’d like to thank any regular readers for your patronage and your patience, and I’m looking forward to getting the blog rolling again.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Monday Links: Patrick Stewart, How to Use a Semicolon, and Being Wrong in Science

Anyone alive who needs convincing that Patrick Stewart is an amazing man is beyond hope. Anyone who doesn’t understand that men also have an obligation to stand up for the safety of women after watching Patrick Stewart say as much needs to watch more Star Trek: The Next Generation and make it so. It's not the only thing he says in the video, but it's a striking and true statement.

The sentence before last was certainly too long. When caught in a similar situation last week, I sought out a reference on how to use the fabled semicolon. After trudging through a waist-high swamp of pages on the mechanics of removing tumors of the intestinal tract*, I happened upon this lovely visual guide on The Oatmeal. Do not read if bears and dinosaurs co-existing on the same web page by any means offends you, though I cannot imagine how that would be possible.

And since that last paragraph acquired entirely too silly a tone, I shall round off this week’s links with an article by Ethan Siegel on Starts With a Bang about how all scientific theories are (at least partly) wrong, how most new ideas are completely wrong, and why it’s important to come up with them anyway.

What’s that, you say? Come now, you didn’t seriously expect some kind of Spanish Inquisition?

*This is no exaggeration; it is, in fact, entirely false.

Friday, May 31, 2013

The Eastern Roots of Western Democracy

A few weeks ago, I briefly looked into 16th Century Chinese history for a future project. I quickly learned that in order to understand Chinese society of that era, I had to understand the government bureaucracy that appears to have been a mainstay of that civilization since time immemorial.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Abrams' Trek Into Darkness: The End of the Star Trek Philosphy

When I accompanied my friends to see Star Trek Into Darkness last Friday, I knew it was against my better judgment. I grew up watching the 1979 motion picture, The Wrath of Khan, The Voyage Home, and the later films as they reached theatres. Part of my family’s Sunday ritual was to sit down and watch that week’s episode of The Next Generation. When Deep Space Nine aired, we added that series to our retinue as well, and I followed Voyager through the bulk of its seven-season run.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Monday Links: Xbox One, Propaganda at the British Library, and Racism at Harvard

I have found two articles of note from The Economist this week, one of which is sure to be close to gamers’ hearts. Or perhaps not: the article notes that Microsoft’s Xbox One announcement heavily de-emphasizes games, ostensibly due to falling console sales. Time will tell whether the device will garner any appeal for its more conventional multimedia use.

The second article form The Economist addresses the more sobering topic of propaganda. An exhibition at the British Library, called “Propaganda: Power and Persuasion,” aims to expose the subtlety and prevalence of propaganda, as used by governments, businesses and individuals. The subject of propaganda, and the Propaganda Model of mass media, have been the focus of some of my earlier posts on this blog, and the matter remains as relevant as ever. I highly recommend you check out The Economist’s article.

Lastly, for the strong of stomach, ThinkProgress delves into the case of how a Harvard doctoral candidate, Dr. Jason Richwine, earned his degree through a sloppily composed and blatantly racist dissertation, to the shock of many. The article is long, and the sheer illogic it reveals in Dr. Richwine’s dissertation made me throw up my hands in disgust. Nonetheless, the ThinkProgress exposé itself is a worthwhile read, if you have the patience.

With the Rosaria of Venice Kickstarter campaign launch last Friday, we now return to full updates. You can see what’s in store for this week here. So please stay tuned! And also please consider backing Rosaria of Venice, my forthcoming alt-history steampunk novel of the Italian Renaissance, on Thank you!

This Week on Runicfire: May 27th – June 2nd

Monday's links include the announcement of the Xbox One (and Microsoft's de-emphasis on games), an exhibit about propaganda at the British Library in London, and the disturbing case of how a racist paper of poor scholarship earned one man a Harvard doctorate.

Wednesday shall feature a review of Star Trek Into Darkness—as well as the case for why we should care more about the quality of our entertainment.

Friday's post explores the surprising link between Chinese philosophy and the genesis of the European Enlightenment.

Stay tuned!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Monday Links: The Health Industry's Big Lie, Atmospheric CO2 Thickens, and the DSM's Dangers

I recently discovered Patrick Mustain through a guest piece on Scientific American. He’s also written a more in-depth piece on how the consumer fitness industry disguises the actual causes of America’s problems with obesity. I recommend giving it a read.

On Scienceblogs, alarm over our contribution to global warming increases. Earlier this month, the amount of carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere passed 400 parts per million. This is nearly one and a half times the CO2 density of the atmosphere in pre-industrial times, just over 200 years ago. And according to Peter Gleick at Significant Figures, CO2 levels haven’t been this high since three to five million years ago—before humans even evolved. For those of you inspired to political action, Greg Laden has a letter template you can modify and send to your congressman, senator, or other state or federal representative.

Finally, the Economist runs an article with a brief critiqueof the psychiatric profession, arguing that reliance on only one book (the DSM-V) to diagnose mental illness is a dangerous game.