Things I don’t much care for

Things I don’t much care for February 25, 2010

* Traffic lights that have the same timing patterns at 3 a.m. as they have at 5 p.m.

* Lamar Alexander's decision that it was more politically beneficial to lie about the effects of health care reform on skyrocketing insurance premiums than it would be to, you know, actually try to do something about skyrocketing insurance premiums.

* The use of e-mail sig. files as confrontational tribal war dances.

* Mars Inc.'s decision to rebrand the Twix candy bar as the confection of choice for douchebags. I'm a big fan of the combination of chocolate, caramel and a cookie crunch. I am not a fan of chocolate, caramel, a cookie crunch and the vile aftertaste of feeling like I'm complicit in an ad campaign that regards women as objects of conquest and/or resentment, and nothing more.

* Sallie Mae.

* Attempts to reconcile Lamar Alexander's decision to lie about the effects of health care reform on insurance premiums with the claim that Lamar Alexander might still be a "good person" or that he should be treated as someone arguing "in good faith."

* Snow.

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  • lonespark

    I wasn’t objecting to describing some gods in fantasy writing as “humans with more power.” Obviously there’s all flavors. The headdesking was regarding this:
    any god-like beings that made an appearance were typically humans with more power, a la the Greek/Roman/Teutonic gods
    which was comparing gods in fiction to gods worshipped by actual live humans then and now, and stating that gods of those traditions were nothing more than humans + power.

  • lonespark

    The posts disappeared, for me. I could read them, then if I surfed to another page and surfed back, like half a page of posts would be missing, but they would eventually return.

  • lonespark

    That’s funny about amber. Possibly more funny to me, since amber is v. big with the Heathens, and oftentimes associated with Freya. (Of course there’s plenty of regular dust in amber, so it’s not a bad way to go.)

  • hapax

    I write books that get classified as fantasy, and I don’t think I have to come to terms with Tolkien at all
    Sorry, this is a while back (I was out shopping for floors) but you are absolutely correct, and I owe you an apology. I was falling into exactly the trap that I was castigating the author of the article with, of circumscribing “fantasy” to “epic quest ‘high’ fantasy”, which is inevitably compared (by publishers, reviewers, marketers and readers, if not the authors themselves) to the Tolkien and works influenced by him — which is pretty tautological, when you think of it.
    When I said “the author has to confront X”, then, I wasn’t thinking about the author-in-the-process-of-writing (who, dear God, I hope is more concerned with the story that wants to be told than some sort of grand Theory of Genre), and more about the whole messy author-as-a-small-part-of-the-whole-marketing-Borg, which is in many ways about shaping reader expectations.
    It’s frustrating to me, because I keep getting sent books to review which are slapped with either the tagline “In the tradition of THE LORD OF THE RINGS!” or “In the tradition of HARRY POTTER!” (or, I’m sad to say, if BAREBACK had been written for teens, very likely “In the tradition of TWILIGHT!”) which is insulting to those works, to the new works, the authors, and the readers.

  • hapax

    Oh, and there is still plenty of explicit Christian allegorical fantasy (“In the tradition of NARNIA!”) being written, don’t kid yourself. Most of it is put out through the evangelical publishing market (like Tyndale and Zondervan), but I’m on some of their mailing lists for ARCs, so I see it.
    Like any other genre, Sturgeon’s Law applies, but some is quite readable — Wangerin comes to mind, and Lawhead.

  • lonespark: Well, microbrews also advertise by bragging on the awards they’ve won. And how they’re all organic and whatever.
    This is true. “Try our product! It’s made of good ingredients, and people who give awards thought it was tasty!” And, occasionally, “There will be free music and a $2 pint special on Thursday.”
    Lori: If this is the standard then I think Twix is pretty far down the list of problem products.
    O crap! There I went and used up all my boycott juju on Mars Candy and now I’ll be unable to keep from buying those razors that keep my legs from causing bus accidents when a man gropes me as is his right at all times.
    [/sarcasm]
    Another Chris’s objectionable suggestion had nothing to do with the relative badness of different misogynistic marketing campaigns. It was instead that we shouldn’t take a misogynistic marketing campaign so seriously as to give up that tasty, tasty candy. I think my reply wasn’t inappropriate.

  • lonespark

    It’s frustrating to me, because I keep getting sent books to review which are slapped with either the tagline “In the tradition of THE LORD OF THE RINGS!” or “In the tradition of HARRY POTTER!”
    That is bad and stupid and awful. If they are going to do that it should at least be like “In the tradition of The Iliad” or something. But no, how about just in the tradition of interesting characters and awesomeness, and the tradition of telling good stories in unique ways.

  • lonespark

    Ah, yeah, Lawhead. I always get him confused with Donaldson, and they are so not the same.

  • Will Wildman

    I’ll be happy to see books that are ‘in the tradition of Harry Potter’, by which I mean intelligent and morally complicated children’s novels that adore language even more than wonderment, but… the series started less than twenty years ago. It only ended a couple of years ago. It really cannot have a tradition yet. The tradition can be built, but that’d be like if someone started constructing a house, and made the roof, and then declared “In the tradition of the roof, I give you: the east wall!”
    The phrase ‘instant classic’ also seems oxymoronic to me. You can guess whether something will become a classic, but surely there’s a need for age first. It’d be like declaring the juice from a really promising vineyard to be ‘instant wine’.
    I appear to be heavy on the similes tonight.

  • truth is life

    which was comparing gods in fiction to gods worshipped by actual live humans then and now, and stating that gods of those traditions were nothing more than humans + power.

    Well, to Christian (and probably Islamic, possibly Judaic) eyes, the old gods seem very, very human compared to God. I mean, they throw hissy fits, scheme against each other, have limited power (though lots of it, of course, compared to any mortal), and so on. Quite the contrast with the much more abstract (but powerful) God seen in Christianity, and it might look like they’re essentially very powerful immortal* humans.
    * For some values of immortality. After all, some divine figures are killed, from what I recall, though a lot of the time they still tick in some way even so…
    Pandora is rather frustrating for me. See, I don’t know what music I like–I haven’t listened to much over the years except video game music and whatever my dad decides to blast through the stereo or my parents decide to play in the car. Happily, they have reasonably good taste, but I haven’t really formed any own preferences, particularly in regards to artists (who I invaraibly can’t identify–in fact, I may not even be able to say what the title of some bit of music I like is!). So Pandora is too low-level for me, since it assumes that I already have some likes and dislikes, or at least enough to have any framework to build a station on. Instead, I want a random feature–just throw a random song or bit of music at me, and let me rate it. If I don’t like it, send me fewer similar bits of music. If I do, send me more. Seems like this would be an eminently practical way to allow someone to expand their horizons a bit.

  • Brandi

    I’m far more bothered by the misogyny in ads for products aimed specially at women that make women look stupid or mercenary.
    Jewelers’ ads come to mind.

  • Mike Timonin

    Lee, have you seen this?
    http://www.hereville.com/category/comics/how-mirka-got-her-sword/
    Fantasy comic, uniquely Jewish (orthodox Jewish!) in it’s characters, and uses Jewish folklore as the center of its fantasy. Plus, it’s pretty damn good.

  • Mike Timonin

    This is a better link – this goes to the first page.
    http://www.hereville.com/2007/12/31/how-mirka-got-her-sword-page-1/
    I read a fascinating essay after reading Lev Grossman’s The Magicians, arguing that Harry Potter is implicitly building on a Judeo-Christian concept of the universe, and that Grossman responded to that worldview in a post-modernist sort of way – this was the essay: http://www.hogwartsprofessor.com/lev-grossmans-the-magicians/
    I’m not sure that I saw Grossman’s work as particularly Jewish, though.

  • Tonio

    Jewelers’ ads come to mind.

    Yes. They imply that the products are carnal bribes without saying it directly. One ad had the husband hiding the ring in the microwave as a surprise, and the wife screaming when she discovered it. Not only does this degrade women, it also suggests a view of gender relations as simply buying sex.

  • hapax

    Like any good story, you can find in Harry Potter pretty much anything you want. I’m sure that we’ve all seen the fundamentalists arguing that the books teach Satanism. In one of the blogs I follow, someone had linked to an article in which a rabbi insists that Rowling blatantly ripped off midrashim about Samuel…

  • Amaryllis

    Michael Cule I’m trying to think of a way in which the HARRY POTTER books could be considered Christian.
    Didn’t J.K. Rowling herself go on record that she’d had Christian themes in mind while she was writing? Obviously, Christianity isn’t the only faith to consider questions of “morality and mortality,” as the saying goes, or to tell stories of sacrifice, redemption and resurrection. Nor, as we keep saying around here, do you need religion to develop a moral standard at all.
    But Rowling is a self-proclaimed member of the Church of Scotland, one who is admittedly struggling with her faith (like many of us), but who is far from having “got over” religion.
    The HP books aren’t Christian allegory– although there are those who think the end of Chamber of Secrets comes close: Dumbledore/Harry/Fawkes as an echo of the Trinity, a descent into a a subterranean “hell,” a battle with evil in the form of a serpent, a “death” in defense of others, a resurrection through the power of a healing, burden-bearing birdlike being, an ascension where Harry bears his rescued companions back to his “father”– and so on.
    I don’t insist on it myself as the only way to interpret that scene, but I think that some of those themes will “resonate” as Christian to people of a Christian cast of mind. As will other images scattered through the books; it’s not necessary to interpret a stag Patronus as a Christ symbol, for instance, to enjoy the story, but a Christian might find an extra layer of meaning there.
    Again, HP isn’t Narnia or Pilgrim’s Progress. But the echoes of the Christian story, the outlook of the Christian worldview (if I may use that word!), the symbols historically used in Christian art and storytelling, keep turning up throughout. Rowling wasn’t writing in a vacuum here; she was, very consciously according to her own statements, writing firmly within her religious and cultural tradition.

  • Amaryllis

    Or, what hapax said.
    Has anybody read The Magicians? The reviews I’ve seen have been kind of mixed.

  • hapax

    Thanks for the link, Mike Timonin. I agree that this was a fascinating essay. However, it made me even less inclined to read THE MAGICIANS than I was previously.
    This, especially:
    He has written a novel that… explores the experience of reading fantasy literature and the right and wrong responses to this engagement as a thinking person.
    pretty much sums up why I have no interest in what the reviewer calls “the modern novel.” I cannot imagine anything more tedious and arrogant than an author wasting several hundred pages “exploring … the right and wrong way” I should engage with his book, rather than just going ahead and telling the freaking story, already.

  • lonespark

    Dammit, Mike Timonin, beat me to it. I shoulda linked that when I first started mentioning peeps. Ah well, at least it’s out there now.

  • lonespark

    Well, to Christian (and probably Islamic, possibly Judaic) eyes, the old gods seem very, very human compared to God. I mean, they throw hissy fits, scheme against each other, have limited power (though lots of it, of course, compared to any mortal), and so on. Quite the contrast with the much more abstract (but powerful) God seen in Christianity, and it might look like they’re essentially very powerful immortal* humans.
    I get that, but really…
    The Christian God never threw hissy fits? Plus aren’t y’all supposed to believe Jesus is divine? How much more human does it get? And when your God is described in human terms those are metaphors, but other folks gods couldn’t possibly be like that? And it’s not like the Bible or Christian liturgy through the ages provides a single view of God…and what do you know, that’s true for other gods, too!
    Ok…
    breathe…
    “Much more human-like” isn’t the same as “just humans with more power.” That’s my main point. Just because one type of being shares/is described as sharing characteristics with another type of being doesn’t mean it’s just that first kind with a slight upgrade.

  • lonespark

    I cannot imagine anything more tedious and arrogant than an author wasting several hundred pages “exploring … the right and wrong way” I should engage with his book, rather than just going ahead and telling the freaking story, already.
    Word.

  • Tricksterson Keeper of the Death Sheep Among Other Meaningless Titles

    I think HP is pretty secular with magic being just an alternate technology and Christmas and Easter being celebrated in a general, not especially religious way…until Book 7 when Harry clearly becomes a Jesus allegory.

  • Will Wildman

    Tricksterson: …until Book 7 when Harry clearly becomes a Jesus allegory.

    See, this is a claim that I just don’t believe, any more than the War of the Ring is an allegory for the Second World War. Tolkien was quite explicit that it was about all war, because war is essentially the same in every bizarre shape it takes. The One Ring is not the atomic bomb, et cetera.
    Similarly, saying that having your hero make a heroic sacrifice and then come back and protect people makes him a Jesus allegory is stretching things a long way. Harry wasn’t preaching anything except ‘don’t murder Muggles and Muggle-blooded mages’, he didn’t absolve anyone of their sins, and didn’t form any kind of spiritual movement post-‘death’. A lot of characters make heroic sacrifices in stories without being Crystal Dragon Jesus (tvtropes, search at your own risk, but I’m sure you get my meaning from the context).
    In Mistborn, which I really can’t recommend enough, a major character stands up to fascist authority, gets publicly executed, appears to rise from the dead to promise salvation for the common people, and an actual church forms around their exploits. That’s a Jesus allegory.
    Harry Potter thinks he has to die to make his enemy mortal, and then finds out that the prophecy was a hint to a loophole that would actually save him by surrendering, because the first one of them to kill the other was always guaranteed to fail and lose their own protection in the process. And he gains empowered magic shields afterwards, because – as in reality – if you’re willing to face any consequence to protect a person, you can actually make it very hard for anyone to hurt them. Love and things shaped like it are enormously powerful. There’s a reason we don’t stand between badgers and their, uh, badgerlings.
    There are parallels between Harry and Jesus, sure, but there are parallels between Jesus and Optimus Prime. Jesus is just a really prominent figure in our culture who made a Heroic Sacrifice and uncovered superpowers in doing so. ‘Allegory’ pretty specifically means ‘this story/concept is a retelling of that other story/concept, with names and settings rearranged to give a fresh look’.

  • truth is life

    The Christian God never threw hissy fits? Plus aren’t y’all supposed to believe Jesus is divine? How much more human does it get? And when your God is described in human terms those are metaphors, but other folks gods couldn’t possibly be like that? And it’s not like the Bible or Christian liturgy through the ages provides a single view of God…and what do you know, that’s true for other gods, too!

    But that’s the common conception of God (it’s what I would think of if you said “God” at any rate). All-powerful all-powefullness and all that (eh…so to speak). And I would guess that most people’s ideas of what the gods are like come from more-or-less standardized mythology books, so they get a picture of them that:
    a. Does not terribly differ from a standard novel or story except for usually being read under some degree of duress
    and b. Does not show the change with respect to time of that culture’s interpretations of their stories (and what the stories were)
    This, I would suppose, naturally leads to your metaphor/single view points. So, a combination of a view of God probably little-connected to the actual Gospels and a view of the gods little connected to actual faith leads to these sorts of errors.
    … However, I am not Christian, but atheist, so I am probably not the best source. I probably should have told you that earlier. Eh, this seems to be my week for convincing people while holding a conversation that I am insulting them when I am trying to interpret other people’s behavior.

    “Much more human-like” isn’t the same as “just humans with more power.” That’s my main point. Just because one type of being shares/is described as sharing characteristics with another type of being doesn’t mean it’s just that first kind with a slight upgrade.

    And it’s kind of a question of what the difference is, isn’t it? A human with more (a lot more) power might behave sometimes very humanly, sometimes very not. They might not even be recognizably human, in appearance or behavior. OTOH, a very powerful non-human (and throughly so) being might behave very much like a human, appear as if human, never actually use their powers and so on, yet still be non-human. I prefer to just think of beings with sapience and work from there.
    And when you say “your”, that brings up a question–I had (unconsciously, and rather unthinkingly) assumed you were born and raised in a relatively “normal” family (ie., Christian of some sort). This was of course quite presumptuous on my part, but it does lead me to asking: What (if any) religious education/absorption did you have growing up? I totally understand if you don’t want to answer.

  • Bugmaster

    I’m in the middle of reading The Magicians right now (so NO SPOILERS !). So far, I really like it. The author definitely has a chip on his shoulder; I can almost picture him flipping through the pages of Harry Potter and muttering, his eyes narrowed in the near darkness, “So… you like boy wizards, do you ? You think it would be heaps of fun, do you ? Let me show you. Let me show you what it would really be like. Hsssss.” Despite this — or maybe because of it — he does a very good job of presenting his characters as real, thinking, feeling people, and not merely flat archetypes. His notion of magic involves more than just saying a few words or mixing some potions; in The Magicians, magic is hard work; much harder than many other pursuits — the kind of hard work that strips away a person’s illusions with the force of a sand-blaster.
    In addition, the book — again, so far — focuses solely on the main characters, and their personal struggles with the world, as well as their own selves. There’s no Dark Lord who threatens the entire world; no one is a prophesied Chosen One; the teachers aren’t grooming any student to eventually lead the Armies of Light, or anything of the sort. There are just ordinary people, struggling to survive… I can empathize with such characters much more closely than with Harry Potter or with some King or Queen of Narnia.
    But it’s entirely possible that the book starts sucking later on — as I said, I haven’t finished it yet…

  • Bugmaster

    I wasn’t aware of any special way that Lev Grossman wants me to engage with his book, nor do I care. I’m going to read his analysis of his own work after I had actually read the work in question. The same goes for you too, Ursula LeGuin and Margaret Attwood and C.S.Lewis and the rest of you fine authors.

  • Bugmaster

    but there are parallels between Jesus and Optimus Prime

    You fool ! Don’t you know what you’ve done ? Now someone is going to write Jesus/Optimus slashfic, and there’s no way of stopping them ! Noooooooooo….

  • Jeff

    [[Jewelers’ ads come to mind.]]
    The Kay Jewelry ads aren’t too bad. Most of them are commemorative things, like celebrating an anniversary or whatever, and the guy buys the jewels to show his love. The slogan “Every Kiss Begins With Kay” is kind of cute, I think.
    At the far other end are the Jarrad ads. How do you know if a man loves you? If he went to Jarrads. Blech.

  • Boggy Man said:

    I myself love the crisp crunch of snow under my boots in November, the whispery flecks of white contrasting with smoke wafting from warm Christmas hearths, and the pristine blankets of white in January which seem to symbolize the fresh promise of each new year.
    It’s just the gray dirty lumps by the side of the road in February that make people want to kill themselves.

    Very much this.
    Me, I actually appreciate living in a place that gets heavy snowfalls on a regular basis, because we know how to handle it. My co-worker was talking to someone at one of our Stateside book distributors, to find out what was holding up some of the special orders. The lady on the line said, “It should have been shipped this morning, let me look into that…” There was a brief conferral with someone else, and she came back with, “Heads are gonna roll.” They’d finally gotten snowplows to clear the roads… and the plow driver had plunked the resulting pile of snow right in front of the loading bay door.
    Re. Jewish fantasy: both Lisa Goldstein and Jane Yolen have written short stories, and at least one novel in the latter’s case, combining fantasy and Jewish history.
    hapax said:

    It’s frustrating to me, because I keep getting sent books to review which are slapped with either the tagline “In the tradition of THE LORD OF THE RINGS!” or “In the tradition of HARRY POTTER!”

    Augh, that’s annoying. When Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell came out, booksellers were bombarded with, “It’s Harry Potter for adults!” No it’s not. I like both books, but for very different reasons.
    And another “augh” for jewelry ads. Proof that someone loves you is them getting you things that reflect your tastes and interests. Know what Mr. ShifterCat got me for Valentine’s Day some years back? A Chinese brocade dice bag. Because we game together. Not a big splurge, but I was delighted. Mind you, it was a big splurge when he got me Lost Girls.

  • redcrow

    >>>Now someone is going to write Jesus/Optimus slashfic, and there’s no way of stopping them!
    “Going to”? I’m sure that the second after you posted this, someone somewhere read your post, laughed and quoted the famous line from The Graphic Novel I’m Not Terribly Interested In.
    (No, that someone wasn’t me. I ship Optimus/Megatron.)

  • Another Chris

    Optimus Prime died for our sins.
    “The HP books aren’t Christian allegory– although there are those who think the end of Chamber of Secrets comes close: Dumbledore/Harry/Fawkes as an echo of the Trinity, a descent into a a subterranean “hell,” a battle with evil in the form of a serpent, a “death” in defense of others, a resurrection through the power of a healing, burden-bearing birdlike being, an ascension where Harry bears his rescued companions back to his “father”– and so on.”
    That sounds like regular “hero’s journey” stuff to me. It’s part of the Gospels because it’s a huge part of most Western/Near Eastern myth.
    I kind of hesitate to talk much about the Harry Potter books, because a lot of members here seem to like them quite a bit, and it’s not Thursday yet.
    And “The Magicians” sounds very interesting. I haven’t come across a lot of “person from our world end up in a magical fantasy world” fantasy that felt actually adult. If I come across it in the library, I’ll probably take it out.

  • Mike Timonin

    hapax – I’d recommend the first 5/8ths of The Magicians unreservedly. Of the remaining 3/8ths, I found Book II to be tedious, but Book III has a brilliant chase sequence that I hope to incorporate into a gaming session at some point – the sense of impending doom is brilliant. I cannot say what I thought about Book IV without treading dangerously close to spoilers, but I did a short musing/review of the work here: http://little-carrot.livejournal.com/tag/lev%20grossman

  • The Kay Jewelry ads aren’t too bad…At the far other end are the Jarrad ads.

    I agree. The Shaw’s ads are at that far other end as well.

  • lonespark

    I had (unconsciously, and rather unthinkingly) assumed you were born and raised in a relatively “normal” family (ie., Christian of some sort).
    Um.
    I am a bit boggled by your use of normal there. I imagine you didn’t mean it to be insulting, but I think it might be hard not to read it that way. I won’t speak for folks who were raised in minority religious or nonreligious households, though.
    I was raised Christian, but United Church of Christ, so RTCs obviously don’t think that’s normal Christianity. More likely a communist plot! But I am not Christian now. I’m an Asatruar and I also belong to a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

  • Tricksterson Keeper of the Death Sheep Among Other Meaningless Titles

    Jesus/Optimus Prime/Harry Potter slashfic! BEG
    Shifter Cat: Lisa Goldstein’s The Red Magician counts too, it’s set shortly before, during and IIRC just after the Holocaust.

  • Fred Davis

    Now someone is going to write Jesus/Optimus slashfic
    this implies there’s Aslan/Jesus fics, and indeed at the extreme end of things Aslan/Gandalf/Han Solo/Jesus fics.
    (Han Solo was a metaphor for jesus right? He gets frozenin carbonate/dies after being betrayed by Lando/Judas, then is returned and makes out with leia after it’s revealed that she’s Luke’s brother. Seems very straight forward to me)

  • Jeff

    [[I’d recommend the first 5/8ths of The Magicians unreservedly. Of the remaining 3/8ths, I found Book II to be tedious, but Book III has a brilliant chase sequence that I hope to incorporate into a gaming session at some point – the sense of impending doom is brilliant. I cannot say what I thought about Book IV without treading dangerously close to spoilers]]
    If we assume that each 1/2 book compromises 1/8 of the total, then the first 5/8ths would be all of Book 1 and Book 2 and the first half of Book 3. The last 3/8ths would be half of Book 3 and all of Book 4. Or do you have some other division in mind?

  • Amaryllis

    That sounds like regular “hero’s journey” stuff to me. It’s part of the Gospels because it’s a huge part of most Western/Near Eastern myth.
    And Rowling was writing from within the tradition of Western myth, and specifically within the Christian tradition, rather than outside of it, or disregarding it, or after or against it. Is all I’m saying.
    I’m reminded of Seamus Heaney’s “Settle Bed,” which he himself used as a metaphor for poetic translation but I think can also be applied to any legacy of story or symbol:
    And now this is “an inheritance” –
    Upright, rudimentary, unshiftably planked
    In the long ago, yet willable forward
    Again and again and again.

    And:
    whatever is given
    Can always be reimagined, however four-square,
    Plank-thick, hull-stupid and out of its time
    It happens to be.

    The HP books are Rowling’s willing-forward: it will indeed be interesting to see what she writes next.

  • truth is life

    Um.
    I am a bit boggled by your use of normal there. I imagine you didn’t mean it to be insulting, but I think it might be hard not to read it that way. I won’t speak for folks who were raised in minority religious or nonreligious households, though.
    I was raised Christian, but United Church of Christ, so RTCs obviously don’t think that’s normal Christianity. More likely a communist plot! But I am not Christian now. I’m an Asatruar and I also belong to a Unitarian Universalist congregation.

    I realized it could be seen as insulting, so I put it in scare quotes–I don’t endorse this as actually being normal, just what I had unconsciously assumed. And I was raised Episcopalian (well, when I was raised at all in this regard–it is a long and boring story), so I assure you that I don’t think the UCC is some depraved haven of Satanists or some such. Though living in the South…*shrug*. Like I said, it seems to be Foot-in-Mouth week for me.
    I did know you were an Asatruar from earlier posts of yours, but I had never actually stopped and thought about how you got there. I think what I assumed was something like:
    1. Lonespark is born–presumably to a Christian family.
    2. Magic!!!
    3. Lonespark is an Asatruar.
    which is obviously somewhat incomplete and reliant on assumptions.

  • Mike Timonin

    If we assume that each 1/2 book compromises 1/8 of the total, then the first 5/8ths would be all of Book 1 and Book 2 and the first half of Book 3. The last 3/8ths would be half of Book 3 and all of Book 4. Or do you have some other division in mind?
    Except that your initial assumption is false – Book I entails some 5/8ths of the physical length of the book, while Books II-IV are stuffed in the remaining 3/8ths. The fractions, as I recall, are rough estimations, but Book I takes more than 1/2 the book, but not quite 3/4 of the book.

  • 1. Lonespark is born–presumably to a Christian family.
    2. Magic!!!
    3. Lonespark is an Asatruar.

    It happens more often than you think!

  • lonespark

    Well, my parents read me Tolkien when I was 4. That was their first mistake…

  • Jeff

    Are you a Knucklehead? (I know most of you are!) Are you proud of it? I’ve created a FaceBook Group called the “Knucklehwad Club” (I am THAT MUCH of a Knucklehead!) — if you’re on FaceBook come join us.
    Be sure to tell us why you’re a Knucklehead.

  • Jeff

    [[Except that your initial assumption is false – Book I entails some 5/8ths of the physical length of the book]]
    Ooookay. That’s odd. It sounds like the author kind of rushed through the following books, which may explain why they aren’t as good.

  • I just realized that the Knucklehead Club might be easier to find if I signed in under my FaceBook account. Sorry for the triple post.

  • Re: traffic lights
    Weight sensors are, unfortunately, rather expensive to install, and probably cost a bit to maintain as well, so probably not suitable for towns that allot next to no budget for roads ;)
    The one I’m best acquainted with seems to be set to turn RED whenever it senses cars approaching from a block or so away (in one direction at least). It’s at the edge of town, so cars approaching from out of town are frequently going 20-30 miles per hour faster than the in-town speed limit. Having to stop at a red light with a “speed limit: 30” sign staring them in the face does seem to cause most of them to proceed at a more decorous pace thereafter.

  • Jend

    Er, SallieMae? Are they doing something terrible I should know about? All my student loans are through them… 0.0

  • Lori

    Er, SallieMae? Are they doing something terrible I should know about? All my student loans are through them… 0.0

    I’m not sure specifically what Fred was referring to, but I’m guessing it has something to do with Salllie Mae’s efforts to head off student loan industry reform, not some new evil they’re trying to perpetuate on borrowers.
    The Secretary of Education is trying to enact reforms that would make the loan process much less horrible for students (and save the government several billion dollars in the process). Sallie Mae is trying to guard it’s gravy train by lobbying the usual suspects in Congress to vote against the reforms. Evan Bayh (asshat, Indiana) has stepped up to the plate to campaign for them in the name of (possibly) saving (a few) jobs in Indiana (at the expense of the fair greater number of students in the state).

  • Mac

    @ Michael Cule:
    “I’m trying to think of a way in which the HARRY POTTER books could be considered Christian.”
    Harry Potter and the Doctrine of the Calvinists

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    “The Kay Jewelry ads aren’t too bad…At the far other end are the Jarrad ads.”

    “Diamonds. She’ll pretty much have to.”
    (What’s that line from? I can’t remember.)