Saturday, April 30, 2016

We get a choice? Whoa. Really?

The world exists.  We have no choices beyond those within our reach, and those that mortals are allowed.  But in the past people were assumed to have a faith in a deity, and generally speaking, in western culture, the deity was the Judeo/Christian God Jehovah.  So the western world had expectations in the era prior to modernity that were religious, but also, assumed the truth of God.  As such, questions arose, of how would we act if offered Godly power, or some Godly privilege? 

Or, somewhat differently, what would happen should the Devil offer you extended life, or some great power?  If your name was Faust and the devil's name Mephisto, you'd be in a special position.  Faust was a scholar who despite his successful his life wanted more.  This desire led him to make a pact with the Devil, exchanging his soul for absolute and unlimited knowledge along with similarly unlimited worldly pleasures.  How might we behave in similar situation?  And in the end, have you not asked yourself for more than your current share?

A Faustian bargain? Sell your soul to the devil?  "I'd give my life for a chance with..."

Ever think about selling your soul for a donut?

So then watch, as the world makes its own Faustian bargains.  In Japan, who experienced Nuclear weapon devastation, now depends in part upon Nuclear power.  It has made a Faustian bargain.

So is life worth the pursuit of the flesh?  As Faust learned, the devil remembers every bargain, never forgives a debt, and any moment gained, will be paid for later.

Very deep are the arguments and thoughts regarding the choices made, and the consequences that would follow.  But try to never assume anyone deserves their place in hell, unless of course, it is you, unless of course it is Hitler or the sort.

Along with Faust's bargain, the story has been told from other perspectives.  One brilliant work is found in Mephisto, a 1981 movie, about the rise of a modestly talented actor who rises high, in the era of the Nazi world.

In the comic book world Spawn by Todd McFarlane of Image Comics has made a choice to offer his services as a demonspawn so that he can spend time upon the earth to watch over his former wife in the flesh life.  Sadly, his Faustian bargain cost him more than his afterlife condemning him to hell and the politics of the realm.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

I am just Famished (Famine)

Famine has been a part of human fear and sorrow as long as humans have existed.  And while it isn't comforting to know that, there are reasons that famine has remained with humanity despite the fact that humans can and do produce more food per acre.  Militaries use food safety as a weapon in war, and governments allow people who are less important than some, suffer the consequences of their lack of importance.  The modern world faces soil degradation, bee hive collapse, and other new challenges.  The future can be seen as dangerously close to apocalyptic. 

There are not many fictional books about famine as a central theme, but as part of a world dying of hunger, there are some.  And it isn't that the subject is too dark for consideration.  Mostly the subject is just hard to make seem immediate.  Consider the difference between a war film and a film with people dying of hunger.  One has a theme of action, emotions of fear, sorrow, worry, whereas the other has hunger, grieving, and death.

In the United States during the Dust Bowl and Depression, many Americans were hungry.  They experienced weather that turned dry, and soil that couldn't produce like it had.  Kings in Disguise is a graphic novel telling a story about life in that era.

"A famine is a widespread scarcity of food, caused by several factors including crop failure, population imbalance, or government policies. This phenomenon is usually accompanied or followed by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality."  Source Wikipedia



Friday, April 22, 2016

Is there a Plague Doctor in the house?

Over time humans have achieved enormous victories over disease, in the form of vaccines and forming resistance via antibodies.  We've used our mental capacities and our evolutionary selection as ways to overcome the cold, dark, evil hand of death, brought by plague.

And that is good.  Over human memory we find cases where the truth was, people believed that the Biblical End Times were believed to be happening.  Hunger, Plague, Wars, Cruelty, and horrible unrivaled and unrecorded forms of torture happened over and again.  The trumpets of the heavens could be heard in the wailing of the infants, who were going without food, as their parents had just died from plague...

I am not trying to bring anyone down, but to remind you that we have overcome a great deal to be where we are.  But to also warn the readers, plague in its many forms still exists.  Ebola is horrible but it has been said that it is one of many, and by no means is the worst.  It is just one of the worst that we have seen in action.  Some scientists have pointed out that humanity is presently part of another great extinction event, both as one who has caused extinction, and perhaps one who will become extinct.  If this is the case, and I have no expertise in the matter to say, then it could be suggested that plague will be one of the means to achieve that extinction.

Poplitiko has always tried to look at the ways popular media looks at the subject at hand.  Below are some images found in art of plague, the result of plague, and again, death.  Enjoy, and always remember, be kind to one another, we might be gone tomorrow.

All sources public domain.

First and last images are by Arnold Bocklin.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Musical Genius Prince dead at 57

Prince was a musical genius, from Minnesota, full of ideas, beliefs about life and his work.  He was hard to understand for people who wanted pop music, but a glorious revelation for others who wanted to hear an immense talent unleashed.  At various stages he was interested in religious expression, but it is difficult to know what he believed other than by what he said.  

As with any artist of known quality, his legacy is his music, and he will be missed, and the loss of what could have been will be calculated by many.  Poplitiko recognizes his loss and grieves along with everyone else.

He appeared in comics in story form, along with stories about him.  Bluewater productions has generously offered 10 itunes downloads of the Fame: Prince comic.  The first 10 people to write to me at AlexanderNess63 AT will be the lucky recipients of this.

Thank you to Bluewater/Darren Davis for the generous share.

Bluewater Productions

Farewell Prince.
You will be missed.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

When a news story is not.

It is political season, so both politicians and commentators of such are game.  And it should be no surprise to learn that Asshole Bill O'Reilly wants to protect his image.  The story about his efforts and failures are found in this Gawker article.

But read the story.  It is as much a criticism of the church, O'Reilly as a human, his being a cold human being who has connections with the church, as it is a news story.  In fact, I find nothing newsworthy within it.  I am bringing this up as a commentary on the news, and the tabloid news world where the present feeding frenzy and blood bath occurs whenever a person of strong opinion is perceived as being vulnerable. 

Note well, I do not like nor agree with the politics of Bill O'Reilly.  I think he is a moron, I disagree with his ideology.  But, a news article about his divorce is 1) unnecessary, 2) is invasive, and 3) wouldn't happen to any of the reporters on the site Gawker if they were guilty of exactly the same behaviors. 

So, whenever you look at the news page, wherever you get your news, remember, it isn't about the truth, or learning about the facts so that we can grow, or move forward, it is straight pornography.  We read a vast number of articles that are solely about titillation despite how they are wrapped.  And additionally, to the extent that real events are also in the news, imagine this, for a moment, nothing you read comes from an unbiased source.  News articles, entertainment articles, all sorts of articles, are written to gain your eyes, and hits bring money.  It has very little to do with importance, or cultural resonance. 

That Kurt Wilcken and myself, along with a number welcome guests and writers, over the last 8 years have written here without pay, without recognition, and without a desire to pervert your views is rather unique.  We have views of course, but if you could guess my vote I'd kiss your ass.  And about Kurt's vote?  You can ask him if you can kiss his ass, I am not in charge of that.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Plans for your Memorial day Cabin Reading

So you like the genre of Fantasy?  Then you need more than the JRR Tolkien and George RR Martin books that you've read 17 times each.  Sure, they are awesome, but there is more than those, and I am not even going to mention HP Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, or Robert E. Howard.

At the end of the short article you will find a suggestion, it involves my work.  Don't hate me for it.  It doesn't require that you obey.  

Dennis McKiernan's Iron Tower, Silver Call and Dragondoom.  Three books that will fill your weekend with heroics and comfort food adventure.    Fun reading that doesn't hurt the pocket book, and is a fun way to spend a weekend.

Michael Moorcock's Chronicles of the Final Emperor of Melnibone, Elric.  If you crave darker stories, with a flawed lead character, Elric is an elvish leader of an ancient people, who is doomed to fail, and lose his loved ones, whatever he attempts.  The joy of reading is in the magnificent writing, and the depth of the world we read.

Elizabeth Moon's Paksenarrion and Gird belong to a setting that feels real, with behavior, dialogue, and ideas that feel both consequential and worthy of the characters.  Moon has a wonderful command of how people respond to crisis, while she offers glimpses into a world not exactly like our own, but one with more dangerous version, along with surprises.

Fritz Leiber wrote many years ago, so some view his work as poorly aged.  The argument is, particularly, that the women in his work rarely are well developed and usually take secondary or lesser roles.  If this is of importance to you, avoid this recommendation, but, as a 17 year old kid I loved these books.  They read fast, there were humorous situations as well as high adventure, and I never felt cheated for the time I invested in them.

In my work here there is an oft mentioned author, Alan Dean Foster and he is a favorite of mine.  His eight books in the Spellsinger series are filled with action, magic, and humor.  They are worth your time, money, and would be a great week's read.

And now, a suggestion.  I write books and take part in a number of anthologies.  Many are fantasy in genre.  I make very little money, so by buying them you would be supporting me.

Hunt the Winterlands is a work that is about a land that became arctic after a catastrophe.  Most of the residents migrated if they could, some died if they could not, and the survivors who remained took to cannibalism, raiding, and tunneling for survival.

Eye of the Dagger is about the world of assassins, in both historic and fantasy realms.  It was written with Josh Brown who is also my publisher over at UffDa.  We also had work from Marc Kleinhenz who is a former regular contributor here.

Empire of Stone is a work that was laid out with an artist, written for that artist's work, and then that artist went off and was rarely heard from again.  But the work still existed, so I got some friends to join me to finish it.  It is about a last stand of Dwarves against the rest of their shattered world, and they trust no one, after so many betrayals, and so many wars.

You can find them at Amazon

I might have copies too, if you are looking for signed copies.  But I don't have many of Eye of the Dagger.