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Oops! And Read Harder Book 1: Something Someone Recommended

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Way back on December 31st, I mentioned my new project for 2015, which is Book Riot’s Read Harder challenge. And I’m doing it, and it’s going very well, but I may or may not have also said something about how two blog posts per month seemed totally reasonable. Well. That was probably true, for most people, you know, just not when you’re me and you’re planning a wedding and also just not really spending a lot of time on the computer. So now it’s March 1st and I haven’t written a single update on my project. And I really do spend a whole lot of time on this blog apologizing for failing to update it more frequently, which would be a little more appropriate if I believed that many people read it, so I think I’m really apologizing to myself. Sorry, self, that you are so bad at maintaining any sort of update schedule here; you really need to get your priorities straightened out. Especially since these will most likely not be ridiculously long posts.

The first book I selected to fulfill a requirement on the Read Harder Challenge list was a book someone recommended to me. Finding a book to fulfill this requirement really wasn’t difficult, because, well, most of the time when I pick up a book, it’s because someone said it was good. Frequently, it’s because another author (cough*Neil Gaiman*cough) that I like said it was good and it’s right there on the cover for everyone to see. However, in this instance, I figured I’d go with something that an actual person whom I actually know recommended, and, to make the challenge more interesting, something that wouldn’t normally find its way onto my reading list. Fortunately for me, Christmas had just happened, and for Christmas I got just such a book: eaarth by Bill McKibben.

I read fiction almost exclusively, so to pick up a book about science—as much as I love science—was a little intimidating. The last science class that I took was a Genetics and Ethics class when I was in college, which was the first semester Mike and I were dating—five and a half years ago—and, well, it didn’t go well. Mostly because there was no prerequisite listed, so about half the class took it as a “gotta fulfill my science requirement, this seems like it’ll be liberal arts-y enough to not be boring,” and I was one of that half. It was not liberal arts-y. It was a 200-level genetics class half full of people who hadn’t taken biology since freshman year of high school. Mostly, it didn’t go well, and that was with a med student boyfriend to help me out. I imagine lots of people didn’t pass.

Eaarth, however, was surprisingly accessible. Bill McKibben has a message for the world about climate change—mostly, “It’s here, god dammit, now will you morons do something?”—and he wants it understood by the masses. I was surprised at how the book pulled me in right from the beginning, and even more at how much I didn’t know about this crazy important issue, like how we’re already above the threshold of carbon in the atmosphere to sustain life as we know it, and at the rate we’re going, we’ll be completely screwed by 2050. Everyone talks about this issue like the real problem is still far away, but this isn’t an issue for our great-grandchildren. That’s 35 years. The plankton is already dying out. Climate-related disasters are happening all over the world, the effects of which we in the US have a hard time seeing if we’re not looking for them. We need to make some changes.

Part one of eaarth was scary, but part two was hopeful. We’re on our way to completely screwing ourselves, but McKibben makes some suggestions as to how to slow this process down, and they’re mostly suggestions that I liked. It mostly has to do with hunkering down in our communities and taking what might seem like a few steps backwards. More local farms and backyard gardens—even if you don’t have a whole lot of space, companion planting can help your garden produce a whole lot more food than you’d imagine. (Of course, I live in a place with almost no soil, so that’s fun and exciting.) Shop locally as much as possible. I mean, fewer UPS trucks driving around with half the world’s Amazon orders piled up in the back can’t possibly be a bad thing, right? And we’re at a point where we can put down roots locally and still be in touch with the rest of the world. I was thrilled to find that McKibben is a huge fan of the internet because, well, so am I.

Did I like the book? It’s hard to say. It was interesting. In a way, it was very easy to read—it didn’t take me any longer than most novels I pick up, and I understood what he was talking about. However, it was also very hard to read in the sense that it was terrifying. It pissed me off. And I’m bad at being pissed off at one thing, so, like, I’m pissed off because of this book, which leads me to being generally pissed off about almost everything, which, despite my being from Massachusetts, is not my default state. I didn’t love that, but I think I needed that, because I immediately turned the (oil) heat in my house down from 70 to 64. I mean, I can put on a sweater. I’ve made some changes. And this summer, if the ground ever thaws, maybe I’ll plant some tomatoes and see what happens from there.

I’ll be back…well, you know, eventually to tell you all about my second selection in the Read Harder challenge. I’m not telling what I picked yet because I want to keep you on your toes, but it’ll be a retelling of a classic tale.


New Year’s Eve and the Last Twelve Books

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Well, it’s New Year’s Eve again. One year ago tonight (not to the minute or anything–I think it was later in the evening), I was sitting in my kitchen in Concord, NH writing a blog post about the five best books I’d read in 2013 when I decided I should read 50 books in 2014 and blog about them all.

Guys. I really sucked at the blogging part of that.

It’s the first time I’ve ever really made a resolution. I mean, maybe when I was little, but never before had I made a serious this is something I’m going to do next year commitment on New Year’s Eve. And I put absolutely zero thought into whether it was a reasonable thing for me to do–I figured I probably read at least a book a week. Actually, it was probably more. I think I spent a lot of the past few years taking a weekend and binging on a YA trilogy and rereading series that I’ve read a few times already and just fly through. I wasn’t figuring that a book a week was accurate to what I was doing at the moment. I was figuring that a book a week would be a good goal. Because if I’m reading too much more than that, then I’m clearly not challenging myself at all. And honestly, the books that took me a whole lot longer than a week were the ones I got the most out of.

I keep writing more, but I really wasn’t intending for this to be a reflecting-on-the-project type of post. I’ll do one of those soon when I discuss my 2015 project.

So this year, I’m having my favorite kind of New Year’s Eve. Reading and writing and maybe a little Mario Kart and some Chinese food. And the first thing I’m going to do is finish up last year’s resolution and blog about the final twelve books.

I didn’t read 50 books this year. Officially, by my notebook, I read 52 books this year. You could be really picky and say that since 1Q84 was three volumes in the edition I had but more commonly only one it should only count as one, but then I would point out the number books that I did not record. I read most of What If by Randall Munroe, Weird Things Customers Say in Bookstores, and about 500 billion picture books but it seemed ridiculous to count every single Elephant and Piggie in my end-of-the-year tally. Anyway, even if you’re being picky and refusing to count 1Q84 as more than one book, I still read 50 books this year. (And my boss, aka the owner of a bookshop, says it totally counts as three books since they’re individually bound, so nyah.)

Anyway! Here are the final twelve.

Book 39: A Wild Sheep Chase by Haruki Murakami

Here’s the thing about reading Murakami. When you finish, it’s so easy to put the book down and get lost in questions about specifics, such as: What the fuck just happened? But if you do that, you’ll miss the point of his books. The story—the plot, the actual things that happen in the book—those things aren’t the point when you read Murakami, I don’t think. Those things make the point. And there will be some point in your future, whether it be five minutes later or eight months later, that you suddenly completely forget whatever you’re doing at the moment and say: OH! Because you figured it out. You realized what the point was. And not only did you realize what the point was, but you realize that it’s so applicable to your life at this very moment, because his books don’t make stupid small points. (In fact, he doesn’t try to make points at all, which is probably why whatever I figure out in terms of the points always seems super relevant.) If you’ve read this book, or if you’ve read 1Q84, let me know because I would love to hear what you got out of them.

Book 40: A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias

If you’re a science fiction fan, you’ve got to read this book. It’s about a group of scientists, human scientists, living in a research lab base on a planet that’s entirely under water (or some other sort of liquid, not sure if it was actual water), studying on of the native species there. But there’s another alien species out there that makes laws about this sort of thing, and the rule is that they can’t interfere, they can’t even let the species they’re studying know that they’re there. And the species they’re studying, it turns out they’re sentient, they’re intelligent, they’re scientific. And the thing that is so cool about this book, that brought it from being a pretty good science fiction story to something amazing, was that you get to hear each point of view. Each species has one representative with POV chapters. So instead of the whole book being about humans looking at the other, we get to think about ourselves as the other and realize that our point of view isn’t the only one that matters. And it was just so cool. I’ve been recommending it to everyone.

Book 41: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

I really, really like Saladin Ahmed. I follow the guy on Twitter, and his tweets either crack me up or make me think hard about something or, on a not-irregular basis, both. His book, The Throne of the Crescent Moon, was really good. I enjoyed it. It’s a fantasy detective sort of novel—well, he’s really a ghul hunter and not a detective, but it follows the same general idea—set in a medieval made-up Middle Eastern city. I loved the idea from the first time I heard about it, because, well, does anyone else get a little sick of everything in science fiction and fantasy being so…western? So that was this book. It was kind of like if you took the Dresden Files, except instead of making it about a wizard detective in modern-day Chicago, you made it about a ghul hunter in medieval Dhamsawaat. The characters are complex and multi-dimensional, with detailed lives and thoughts going on behind their ghul hunting ways. The world is built well around the characters, too—I really liked that, while magic was a fact of this world, it wasn’t there only for the convenience of our main characters or villains. It was built into life in the city. Now, you might be reading this thinking, Rachael, this sounds like the sort of thing you’d love but up there you wrote that you “really enjoyed it,” which, I mean, I read your blog and you love saying you love books! And you’re right. I do love saying I love books, and I would be lying if I said I loved this book. I really liked it, and I wanted to love it, but characters had a touch more religious fervor than I generally like in my fantasy. So, since I was comparing to The Dresden Files already, if you’re a fan, imagine: Michael is Dresden’s constant companion through the entire series, but rather than responding the way he does to Michael’s religious comments, Dresden also talks about God a whole lot, just in a slightly different way. Now, I get that it’s completely reasonable within the context of the story for the characters to be highly religious. I didn’t think it didn’t make sense. It’s just not really my thing. On that note, however, I am very much looking forward to the next in the series.

Book 43: Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett

Before I start talking specifically about Raising Steam, I want to talk a little about Sir Terry Pratchett. He’s hard to talk about right now because talking about him makes me sad and angry. For those of you who don’t know, Pratchett has early onset Alzheimer’s. I’m not sad and angry because I want more Discworld books than he will be able to write. I mean, I do want more, I want them to keep going forever, but that’s not why I’m sad and angry. I’m sad and angry because, over the years, I’ve read so many of his books and they have given me so much that I absolutely hate knowing what he’s going through. It’s awful. Of course, he writes about it better than I ever will, and I urge you to read some of what he’s written—both about living with Alzheimer’s and choosing to die.

Anyway. Raising Steam. Guys, this book was amazing. My two favorite Pratchett characters are Sam Vimes and Moist von Lipwig. I bought this book knowing it was part of the Lipwig series, but having no idea that Vimes would play such a major role! (Uh, I mean. Spoilers. Not big spoilers, though. Shh.) This is the third Moist book. The first, Going Postal, was about con man Moist von Lipwig after he’s saved from his execution only to be sentenced to a career as Postmaster General in a city where the postal system is a complete joke. Not surprisingly, a former con man is perfectly suited to government work. In Raising Steam, Moist has been a pillar of the community for a number of years when someone invents a steam engine. Like everyone else, Moist is drawn to the shiny new technology, but Lord Vetinari gives him a task that seems impossible…but is it?!! When I read these, I feel just like someone in the book: An outsider, looking in, completely enthralled, wondering how Moist is going to pull this off, completely convinced that he’ll fail, because how could he succeed? And it’s wonderful. If you want to read this book, though, I highly recommend starting with Guards! Guards! and reading all the Vimes and Moist books (at least) before starting on this one; you really need the context of both stories.

Book 44: Bathing the Lion by Jonathan Carroll

This book was so good I added a sixth star to my rating system. It was like Neil Gaiman, Philip K. Dick, Haruki Murakami, Roger Zelazny, and China Mieville all had a brain baby and this was it. I read it while on a family vacation to visit my grandfather in Florida and at some point my brother asked what it was about, and I was about two thirds of the way through at that point, and I just—well that’s a really good question, I have no idea yet. If you don’t like being slightly unsure of what’s going on when you’re reading, or if you don’t like subtlety in your endings, this book won’t be for you. For everyone else, I still can’t tell you what this is about because there is literally no way to do that without spoiling the ending, so let’s just say it’s about humanity. It’s about the absolute necessity of human passion and curiosity and creativity. The one downside is that it’s only 280 pages. Over way too fast. (Also, has anyone ever taken a book on an airplane and had it grow? Like, even the guy sitting next to me commented on it. It tried to expand. Sadly, it didn’t grow more pages.)

Book 46: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan

I kept having to turn back to the front of this book where the author’s picture is located because, every few pages, I’d become absolutely convinced that “Robin Sloan” is a pen name that John Green used to write an adult book. I absolutely loved it. (I’m still wondering if authors who use pen names sometimes use a fake picture to really pretend it’s not them.) You’ve got a narrator who’s kind of in a weird point in his life, and he’s got this weird crazy group of friends who all have one completely random and very specific thing, and he meets this crazy weird fun quirky brilliant woman, and then weird stuff happens and there’s a crazy adventure and you learn something important about life when you’re done reading it. It’s so much fun, and you won’t be able to put it down, and then when you finish it you won’t be able to shut up about it for a while. Oh, and this is important: There’s nothing in this book that would make it inappropriate for anyone for whom John Green’s books are appropriate.

Book 47: Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross

There’s a science fiction book club in my town, and this book was the first book I read for it that I was actually able to make it to the meeting for. (The first meeting after I joined was about Neuromancer, which I read recently enough, but since the meeting was at a member’s house and he was cooking, I wasn’t about to show up and say, hi, you’ve never met me before, give me your food, I hated this book that you love. The second was for A Darkling Sea, and it broke my heart to be stuck on an airplane on the way back from Florida when they had that meeting because I loved it.) Everyone in the club who finished the book liked it, but no one seemed to have loved it. However, it did have a fascinating idea behind it that a lot of space opera fails to consider or creates an explanation around. Traveling faster than light seems like it’d be completely impossible. So let’s say, in a few thousand years, we’re at a point where people are scattered all over the universe. Traveling from one planet to another could take hundreds or thousands of years. So, in the book, they’re not human, they’re kind of post-human androids that can basically go into sleep mode for most of that time. Anyway, that’s not the point. The point is, what does that mean economically? Like, let’s say I hire someone. I pay them a certain amount to come do a job for me, and it takes them 400 years to get here. I’m still here and they’re still there because we’re kind of robots with uploadable consciousness, but what about the money? Economic systems and values change quickly enough that by the time they can use the money, it’s worthless. So in Neptune’s Brood, Stross writes about that. What does that mean? What systems might be put in place to avoid that? How could those systems fail? So if you’re into science fiction and economics, this is the book for you. If you’re not so much into economics, you might struggle through it at points, but it’s still a good story and fascinating to think about.

Book 48: The Valley of Amazement by Amy Tan

I very nearly read this entire book in a weekend, but I didn’t quite finish it, and then the week started, and the week was crazy and weird and I barely had any spare time so it took me a while to finish after an initial whirlwind of addiction (and a whole lot of exasperation when I really just wanted to sit down and read but had too much other stuff to do). It takes place in the early 1900’s in China, beginning in a first class courtesan house owned by an American woman named Lulu Minturn. The story centers around her daughter, Violet, as she grows up an outsider and is forced to face circumstances beyond her (or her mother’s) control. Over time, she begins to understand some of the decisions her mother had needed to make. In classic Tan style, it’s a beautiful story of the love that families have for each other, and it manages to be that without being even remotely boring. I absolutely loved it and I’m already looking forward to Tan’s next book. (I’m pretty sure I’ve read everything Amy Tan has ever written. I don’t think that’s true for very many authors who have written more than a book or two. Amy Tan and good ol’ JK are the only ones I can think of at the moment.)

Book 49: Alif the Unseen by G. Willow Wilson

SO GOOD. (I’m becoming incoherent, huh? I can’t wait to go to bed!) I’ve decided that I’m going to continue buying any book that looks remotely interesting and has a quote from a review by Neil Gaiman on the cover, because seriously, I am never disappointed. This book is about a young hacker in yet another made up Middle Eastern city. He writes a code that shouldn’t be possible, then comes into possession of a book that shouldn’t exist, and finds himself on the run in the company of his next door neighbor, an American student, and a possibly evil djinn. This book has something for everyone—some politics, some love, some magic, some technology, all with well-rounded, interesting character and some beautiful writing. I absolutely loved every second of this book. It was about the importance of ordinary people doing things to try to change the world, even if they don’t think what they’re doing will matter, because everything matters. Or, you never know what will matter. It was wonderful.

Book 50: Dawn by Octavia Butler

How have I never read Octavia Butler before? I’m so disappointed in myself. This book was absolutely wonderful. I felt like I was reading a perfect episode of Doctor Who (except, you know, without most of what makes it Doctor Who). It’s science fiction, but the science is alien and so far beyond any understanding that we have of science right now that it seems almost like magic as you’re reading. And it’s about humanity, again, and I really think that all the best science fiction and fantasy is at its core about being human. Lilith has somehow managed to survive a world-destroying war, along with a small number of other humans, all of whom have been taken by an alien race onto their ship. But the aliens are going to use the humans to change themselves, and in doing so, change the humans and the future of humankind. As soon as I finished this I went and got the rest of the series and I’m looking forward to reading a whole lot more Octavia Butler in the future.

Book 51: The Strange Library by Haruki Murakami

You know what I said earlier, about eventually saying OH! and understanding what Murakami’s book was about? I finished this two days ago. That hasn’t happened yet. I’m still in the “…what?” phase of having finished a Murakami book. This one in particular is strange. It’s got a jacket that goes the wrong way around it. The font is huge and it’s got pictures taking up about half the pages, and the whole thing reads a bit more like a piece of art than anything else. It’s appropriate for younger audiences, but I’m not sure I’d agree that it’s a kids book like at least one review I’ve read. It’s definitely not a full-length novel—I think it’s a novella, or possibly a novelette, though I’m not sure what the difference is. Anyway, I’m looking forward to having my moment of epiphany and reading it again when I do.

Book 52: The Last Policeman by Ben H. Winters

Have you ever read a book that took place in a town where you lived? This book was extremely weird, because it took place in Concord, NH, where I lived for three years until this July. And damn does this author get Concord. It was so much fun to read it and say, yes, I know that place, I’ve been there, oh that restaurant where the people were having lunch makes the best burgers ever, and if you said the streetlight at Warren Street works I know exactly which intersection you’re sitting at, and that weird science fiction movie series is exactly the sort of thing that movie theater would do. It’s a pre-apocalyptic detective story. A giant comet has been discovered heading directly to Earth, and impact will occur in about six months. People all over the place are committing suicide, but when Detective Palace comes across what looks like another hanger, sometimes seems off. Most people think he’s crazy for pursuing it as a case, given the end of the world, but he’s got sort of a Batman complex and is determined to do his job. It had just enough science fiction in it to intrigue me, but I’m really not sure which shelf this belongs on. I read it in approximately two days and can’t wait to start book two.


Okay, readers, that’s all for 2014! I’ll be back soon for some big reflections on this year’s reading and details about what I’m doing next year, but for now, it’s almost midnight and I have plans tomorrow, so I’ll be watching the clock (well, no, okay, I’ll be reading) for a little longer and then going to bed. (Sorry about the lack of pictures and links here. I might come back and edit them in later, but I’m really not committed to it. I’m tired and I might actually have the flu and it just doesn’t sound like that much fun.)

Does anyone have any book-related resolutions?

Free tickets? You sick fuck.

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If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen this tweet yesterday:

A reasonable initial reaction.

Mike sent me a text and then, knowing that I tend to forget my phone exists, came on Google Talk via his phone to be like “Hey! Check your phone!” And what you see above is true. He was given free tickets to the Red Sox game. I was excited. I’d been to two games before, and they’d won both (in fact, I don’t think I’ve yet seen the bottom of the 9th happen), and both had been super fun. I dance like an idiot when the music comes on.

Clearly, the prospect of going to another one had me excited. I’m not generally a huge Sox fan (or sports fan at all, for that matter). I like to see my home state’s team win, but I don’t have much invested in it and I’m not bothered by Yankees fans, so don’t worry. This isn’t a “woo yeah Sox!” post.

I immediately started thinking up what I should wear.  Obviously, I should wear my Sox hat (which I only own because Mike gets the fitted ones but when he ordered tickets last year they sent him a free hat so he gave it to me). Jeans, probably, because it was going to get late and might cool down quite a bit as Boston nights tend to do. A little bit of makeup. I mean, one of Mike’s coworkers also got tickets and was bringing his fiancee, so it’d be sort of like a double date. Fun! Before actually deciding on an outfit, I looked at the fucking weather. The fucking weather proclaimed that: “100°?! ITS FUCKING HOT”. I was startled. I checked Boston and found the exact same thing.

At this point, I ventured outside of our air-conditioned bedroom for the first time. I struggled to breathe. Gasping for air, I dragged myself to the shower and put it on cold. Mike can attest to the fact that this is a BIG DEAL–I love me some hot showers. When I was done, I tore through my dresser trying to find something appropriate to wear. I eventually settled on my comfy “It’s hot out and I don’t care” dress. It’s made out of material similar to those sweatshirts that people wear in early fall, those ones that don’t keep you very warm. I threw out the idea of makeup, because that shit would run down my face after five minutes of being outside.

I covered myself in spray-on “cooling mist” sunscreen, figuring that we’d be in the sun for at least a while once the game started, not realizing that our awesome seats were under another set of seats and we’d be shaded. The sunscreen turned out to be a HUGE fucking mistake. Walking from our apartment to the car caused me to sweat enough that it was dripping into my eyes, and when I looked in a mirror my face looked like I’d been sobbing, so much did that sunscreen hurt.

We were a little late to the game, showing up as Jacoby Ellsbury hit a home run in the 3rd inning. By the time we went to find food, my entire dress was damp and sticking to me. The sunscreen hadn’t stopped dripping into my eyes, which were not adjusting to the giant lights that illuminate the stadium being just in my peripheral vision. And when it’s 100°, the last place you want to be is in a huge fucking crowd of people. The picture that some lady took that I can now buy for $19.99 makes me look like I applied lipstick as blush and bathed in shimmer powder. I’m not a Twilight fan, so this is a bad thing.

There were a few high points of the night. The girl behind me had one of those spray-bottle-fan-things that would occasionally send brief gusts of cool air my way, or even better, a spritz of water. I seriously considered stealing from a child a couple times. Instead, I folded up my program and used it to fan myself. When the muscles that required me to fan myself got tired, I got to play “good girlfriend” for a little while and fan Mike, because it used completely different muscles. It was an exciting game.

But still. Who the hell says “Oh shit, I have these tickets to this game that I don’t want to go to because it’s so hot I will die. What should I do?” and gives them to unsuspecting fans with no warning? I mean. Who does that? Probably a nice, generous person who knew we’d have a good time anyway, but come on. I maintain that it takes a sick mind to do something like that to someone.

And Mike had to go to work really early, so I couldn’t even make us all mojitos when we got back.

Things That Are Not Rape

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Dear Douchebags of the World,

I understand that you’re upset about the Netflix price increase. I don’t really understand why, because I’m pretty sure you can still order and stream unlimited shows and DVDs for the pretty damn small amount of money you pay if you take into consideration how much it would cost for you to buy all those things or rent them from Blockbuster, but I get that you are upset.

See, Buzzfeed was kind enough to show me just how upset you are. Don’t you love how being an asshole on Twitter once makes you an asshole everywhere forever?

I feel the need to point out a few specific tweets from Buzzfeed’s list, just so anyone reading this can get an idea of how people are reacting:

@TravisTeachMe: Dear Netflix, I got your email. We trusted you and now you are trying to rape us.

@ctjay14: Dear Netflix, the next time you decide to rape your customers could you at least use KY first?

@Ugo_Lord: Dear Netflix, I get raped when I pay for gas, raped when I buy a plane ticket, & now you want to rape me too. Enough already. #Netflix

Because of both these responses and other things I have heard people say, I feel it has become necessary to point a few things out.


  • A small price increase in a service that hasn’t had a price increase since it started operating in 1997 but has drastically expanded the scope of what they do
  • Gas prices
  • Textbook prices
  • That test you didn’t study for and failed
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Rebecca Black’s “Friday”
  • Heavy courseloads in college
  • Your Thesis committee
  • New Google features that you don’t know how to use
  • Spam in your inbox
  • Your alarm clock
  • Traffic
  • Your mother-in-law’s cooking
  • The distance you have to travel to get to the nearest Starbucks
  • The lack of express check-outs at your local Target
  • Ads on your favorite website
  • A webcomic creator changing their update schedule/going on hiatus/having a guest week
  • A broken air conditioner


  • Another person or group of people engaging you in sexual activity despite your lack of consent

Yeah. That’s it.

So, Douchebags of the World, next time you find something frustrating, upsetting, or mildly inconvenient, remember this list before you open your fucking mouth.


P.S. Thankfully, some people have managed to retain a bit of common sense through this debacle:

@halfdaytoday: When I read about Netflix’s $5 price increase, I was so shocked I spit my $6 latte out over the $400 iPhone I pay $90 a month for.

What do you think, guys? Did I miss anything important?

Why Wil Wheaton Totally Could (But Shouldn’t) Start a Religion

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I try to stay away from politics and religion as much as possible, but recent events have made me consider both of them more than I generally like to. Mostly, I’ve been getting angry about people who are complete assholes and use their religion as an excuse for their behavior. It doesn’t matter what religion you subscribe to: none of them have “act like a total douche” in their codes of behavior. Mike and I were discussing this last night when I began to reiterate a believe I’ve held for quite some time: most religions have pretty much the exact same message if you take out the stuff specific to their God or Goddess or whatever. And I came to an Awesome Realization.

(A Few Isolated Examples Of The) Ten Commandments (Christianity and Judaism)
Thou shalt not murder: murdering people is kind of a dick move.
Thou shalt not steal: stealing things is something only a dick would do.
Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s wife: you’d have to be a complete dick to covet your neighbor’s wife!

A few Islam Rules
Do not confound truth with falsehood: because if you lie, you’re probably a dick.
If you do not have complete knowledge about anything, better keep your mouth shut. You might think that speaking about something without full knowledge is a trivial matter. But it might have grave consequences: if you spread rumors based on hearsay, you’re a dick. (There are actually quite a few rules along these lines according to my research.)
Spy not upon one another: because if you do, you’re a dick!
Treat kindly your parents, relatives, orphans and those who have been left alone in society: being mean to these people just makes you more of a dick.
Do not expect a return for your good behavior, not even thanks: mostly because if you do things expecting to have people treat you well in return, you’ll end up feeling entitled to everything just because you drive a hybrid and then you’ll be a total dick.

Some Hindu Rules
Ahimsa: non-violence: because violent people are dicks.
Satya: to live in the truth: like the lying thing up there–dicks.
Daya: compassion: if you are not compassionate, chances are you’re a dick.

The Witches’ Rede
Eight words the witches’ rede fulfill: an it harm none, do what ye will: do whatever you want as long as it doesn’t harm anyone because harming people is totally a dick move.

Okay, so I think I’ve covered a few of the major religions up there. From everything I’ve read, the rules in all of them boil down to three things: (1) worship God(s/dess/whatever), (2) public health measures from millennia ago, and, most importantly, (3): DON’T BE A DICK.

Where have we heard that before? If you’re any sort of geek, probably from Wil Wheaton. That’s right–some celebrity dude’s personal motto and code of conduct has perfectly summed up that of ever major religion and probably most minor ones. (Also, I didn’t include all of what Jesus is said to have said, but it all boils down to “don’t be a dick.” I mean, come on: “Let he among us without sin be the first to condemn” [note: I’m not sure if that’s one of the translations of the Bible or Rent’s summary], “Love thy neighbor as thyself,” etc.)

Your New Leader

So basically, Wil Wheaton is telling us the exact same thing as all the religions AND he’s already got a huge following. If he wanted to, he would have no problem starting up his own new religion. I mean, come on. You’d be Wheatonist, right? He is a nice person (I know because I follow him on Twitter) and he wants you to be a nice person, and that’s the point of the religion. Sounds pretty solid to me.

Why he shouldn’t: Here is the problem. You see the caption for that image up there? Did anything in your brain rebel against that? Even if yours did, I bet a lot of people’s wouldn’t. Even though I totally can’t imagine Wil Wheaton purposefully starting a cult, any religion he started would turn into one just because people love him that goddamn much.

Things I Overheard Wil Wheaton Saying in a Hypothetical World Where He’d Started a Religion:
-“Hey, what’s with the robes? D&D? Huh. Okay. Whatever.” (A few minutes later, different group) “Hey, what’s with the robes? Need a DM? Dammit, why are you bowing to me?”
-“Is that a 50-foot statue of me? Why are you building a 50-foot statue of me? Fuck, NO do NOT hang the non-believers from the statue! Take that down right now!”
-“Why are you repeating everything I say? And what’s with the monotone? Stop calling me Master!”
-“Guys seriously I did not call for a mass suicide on this day what are you doing STOP IT–” (Moments later, every single one of Wil Wheaton’s followers killed themselves. Aside from Wil himself, everyone left on Earth was a dick.)

Wil Wheaton already has enough of a cult following as it is. A religion would only make things worse, but I do hope that his cult following actually listens to his “don’t be a dick” thing. It’s kind of important.

Collating Papers For Your Sins (via The Bloggess, who also shouldn't start a religion for pretty much the same reasons)

Wil Wheaton, if you’re reading this, please don’t start your own religion.

Apparently the Raptors are Coming Tomorrow

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I’ve heard a lot of talk about how “we’re all going to die” because “The Raptor” is coming. I think someone probably made a mistake somewhere, because I don’t think the raptors would just send one ambassador over. It’s also possible that people just don’t remember how to properly pluralize words anymore and have started speaking solely in the singular. It’s okay, though, because I knew what they meant. And I’m not sure how people managed to not tell me this for so long. I mean, come on! If anyone can negotiate with them, I can. I speak Velociraptor and everything.

The thing is, we don’t have to die. I mean, yeah, if the raptors show up and we are all standing there with rocket launchers or machine guns or whatever they’ll take us out, but like I said–negotiation. The first thing we need to do is make sure they know we don’t want to hurt them. Now, clearly not everyone is on the same page here. I mean, I bet there are plenty of people who will want to take the raptors out immediately, and I look upon them with scorn. However, if you’re with me in welcoming and being friendly with the raptors in order to create a multi-species-friendly environment here on Earth.

I made a welcome banner. Anyone who wants to use it has my permission. Just print it out on a giant piece of paper or fabric or something and hang it on the outside of your house.

We're not going to kill you!

It occurred to me halfway through that they might not read English, so I added some universally recognizable symbols in there so we're clear.

The next step is to accept the possibility that, no matter how peaceful we are toward them, they might not share the same feelings. Whether it’s because our neighbors are throwing grenades at them or because they blame us for the dinopocalypse that killed them all in the first place, it’s possible that they’re just here to eat us. If we notice that this is the case, there are a few important steps that we’ll have to take. (You might have a few days to do this–pay attention to where they first show up. If they’re on the other side of the world, you probably have time.)

FIRST: Check for velociraptor entry points. Bay windows, big sliding glass doors, walls replaced with just a piece of plywood or something–you’ll want to secure these. Iron bars, really thick sheets of plexiglass, whatever. Use something strong and make sure it’s guarding from inside, because their little claws are surprisingly dextrous.

SECOND: Find the safest spot in your house. Try to stay away from doors and windows, or put as many doors between you and the raptors as possible. It’ll slow them down and allow you to mentally prepare yourself for their onslaught. Make sure you bring along plenty of food and guns.

THIRD: Take a look at some practice situations. If you run through enough different situations beforehand, you’ll be better equipped to know the best course of action when they actually show up. XKCD gives three really great situations to start you off. From there, try moving the raptors around, changing the number, switching up the floor plan, etc. Look for safe places to hop into before you’re devoured–if you have a cement capsule handy, that should help.

FOURTH: Be prepared to make some sacrifices. If they’re not willing to be peaceful at first, they might change their minds after you let them eat your dog or cat or entire cattle farm. The less hungry they are, the longer we live.

I drew a dinosaur!

You can run, but he's just gonna catch you.

Now, keep in mind that if the raptors are not willing to negotiate, we’re probably all fucked. All this will do is keep you alive a little bit longer. Your best bet is really to start off friendly with them and feel the situation out from there. With luck, we’ll all be safe.

Well…good luck tomorrow, everyone. I hope you guys make it through.  I really do. Remember, we’re all in this together.

UPDATE: So it turns out that this whole time they’ve all been saying “rapture” and not “raptor“. Enunciate, people. It’s important. If people can’t understand you clearly, they might think they’re being visited by raptors and get all excited and make a banner. But you know what? I’m keeping the banner. I will always be prepared for raptor visits. And even though the raptors didn’t come today, I think the tips in this post could be helpful in the future so I’m leaving it up.

P.S. Sorry you weren’t worthy. It’s okay, though. I wasn’t either.