Monday, August 31, 2015

Monday Links 08/30/15: Adultery By Any Other Name, Less-Than-Stellar Star Wars, and Steamfunk's Sibling

It’s been a long hiatus, and woefully unplanned, but at last Runicfire returns with a new edition of Monday Links!

The notion that humans are obsessed with sex is all but an axiom. Every society on earth possesses its own sets of customs and taboos regarding sexuality, with some cultivating its expression and others suppressing or controlling the prurient instinct as much as possible. Our society frowns on adultery, considering the practice an insult to the sanctity of marriage, but Sarah Laskow at Atlas Obscura contends that American lawsagainst adultery were employed largely to enforce an altogether different setof taboos (NSFW). Rather than to avenge breaches of fidelity, adultery laws—which have been on the books and enforced as recently as the 1980s in some of the United States—served to punish female sexual expression as well as affections between people of different races.

On an entirely different but no less tawdry subject, Scott Mendleson at Forbes writes about why speculators on the upcoming Star Warsfilm’s profits are setting themselves (and us) up for disappointment.

Lastly, I came across a fascinating article while trying to determine if anyone else had written a novel that could be described as Renpunk. This blog post, by author Balogun O. Abeegunde, posits a name for a hypothetical genre of heroic fantasy set around the time of the Haitian Revolution. Mr. Abeegunde himself is, according to his bio, “one of the leading authorities on Steamfunk—a philosophy of or style of writing that combines the African and/or African American culture and approach to life with that of the steampunk philosophy[.]” I had not heard of Steamfunk before, but I guarantee you I will be looking into the genre more intently, as well as Mr. Abeegunde’s blog, in the future.

That is all for today’s edition of Monday Links. Until next time, stay tuned! 

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!