A Nice Summary Of The KJV

•June 18, 2012 • Leave a Comment


Friday Fiblet: Bones

•April 6, 2012 • Leave a Comment

”Don’t cut that up. I want it whole.” He eyed the light cloak with greed. All his clothes were made for cold, not heat. ”Roll you for it.”

Some odd quirk of mind made him use his fair dice. He lost.

He lost the next round too, and had to do bones.

He craned his neck up at the man. All those hours nailed up in the sun. It was so hot… too hot to break bones.

Nuts to that. He turned his spear and poked a hole in the Jew’s side. Blood and water.

He was dead all right.

-BT Murtagh

(I’m thinking of making a short-short fiction like this a regular thing. What do you think?)

Look at that!!!

•March 31, 2012 • Leave a Comment


Ever found that the task you’ve set yourself is just slightly moot!

Reason Rally

•March 24, 2012 • Leave a Comment

It rained, but there were still ten thousand people there, most of us staying right to the end despite the soggy conditions. The speakers and entertainers kept us interested and amused, and there was a real sense of community. I think this was an important event which will have a reverberating effect. I’ll upload some photos and additional comments later.

The Move is Complete, No More Updates Here

•November 29, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I decided I would leave this blog up in case anyone follows an outdated link, but the action is now all at quarkscrew.com ( aka theodd1btm.com/quarkscrew).

Admin: Relocating!

•November 24, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Hello, loyal fans and surfing strangers!

I have decided to leave WordPress.com and self-host quarkscrew instead. This will allow me a little more flexibility in terms of customizing the site, being able to post by email, etc. You know, once I figure out what I’m doing!

To begin with I’m just cloning the site over to its new address as best I can – there are a few differences between the control panels, so it won’t be *exactly* the same, but pretty close. Later I hope to experiment a bit with the CSS layout, maybe add some new functionality.

So what does this mean to you? Hopefully not much, but it’s new territory for me and I’m not really sure. The biggest thing I can think of is that I know some people follow the site via RSS feeds, and I suspect that those very well might have to be redone, especially if the feed pattern has “quarkscrew.wordpress.com” rather than just “quarkscrew.com” in it.

The address “quarkscrew.com” will now redirect to the new domain at “theodd1btm.com/quarkscrew” instead of the old site “quarkscrew.wordpress.com”. This notice will be posted in both locations, but will likely be the last entry at the old site (which I think I will probably take down soon, to avoid confusion).

I’m quite excited about this change. If you have any problems or advice, please drop a comment!

The Anatomy Of Miracles

•November 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Someone recently told me in an online forum that they had evidence of some kind of consciousness surviving after death. He wouldn’t go into detail, but emphasized that while there was no physical evidence extant, there were multiple eyewitnesses.

The Eye, from Nicu's Photo Blog (CC:by-sa-n)

Admittedly several eyewitnesses is better than only one, but it really doesn’t raise a perceived event above the level of enecdote into that of hard data (unless, of course, you restrict the definition of your data to “what people *reportedly* saw” – which is legitimate, but it is dificult to see how it could be considered supernatural). Two or more people reporting a ghost (or alien, or Virgin Mary) sighting is no less anecdotal than one person’s report.

I know this first hand, because I once created such a miracle out of thin air.

I once had some roommates who had convinced themselves that their minds could access other realms in their dreams. I’m not proud of it now but I screwed with their heads something awful by pretending to participate in those dream travels. (My personal ethics have evolved since then.) I picked up on some of the dream events they discussed, “let slip” that I’d had similar dreams, expanded on the themes and added to them. Before long they were having dreams that followed on from mine, or possibly imagining they had after the fact, or possibly pretending the same way.

The effect was the same. We all described having shared dreams, wherein we traveled to strange realms and met unearthly personages who dispensed wise advice and warnings, usually rather vague and unintelligible except in hindsight, occasionally more pointed. At least one of us was faking it, though. I was just seeing how far I could skew the plotlines and tenor of the shared dreamworld to my liking. Rather far, it turned out.

Patterns for the Marionette Body - Bennington College CC: BY-SA-N

It was rather intoxicating, that manipulative process. It’s entirely possible that every one of us four was playing the same game I was, but I doubt it. The dreamworld events didn’t move in any particular direction unless I nudged them, and as far as I could tell my roomies were quite sincere in their belief in the reality of the other realms. One would remember something from the previous night’s dream, and another would suddenly remember something similar, or connected. They convinced each other, and I (to my present shame) helped them along with it. Every once in a while I would even slip in a specific piece of information that would tie into the real world; I mentioned being puzzled by a spirit’s reference to “a false fire” for example, just before a surprise fire drill I happened to know was coming.

I moved it out of the dream world; I got them genuinely believing to all appearances that they were slipping into other universes almost all the time. Eerie events would occur; a glassy-eyed jogger passing became translucent, his feet hadn’t touched the ground! At one point I the entire decor of a restaurant we were in had changed in the blink of an eye; suddenly it was pastel shades and painted walls instead of wood paneling. Totally inexplicable! I overheard one of them describing the incredible “event” to another party, who was naturally somewhat skeptical – and remained so, to his credit, but seemed rather shaken when the story was backed up by my other two roomies (there were four of us in toto).

Recipe and Key - Patrick Q, CC: BY-NC

The key to effective acting is to be able to temporarily convince yourself, and I still have a clear “memory” of what it looked like when the decor changed; it would not have taken much effort to have convinced myself it was a real event. In fact it might have been easier, as it would have let me relax about keeping it all straight, or mostly so. A contradiction here and there didn’t matter much, I found.

After a few months it began to get a bit out of hand. We were all fairly insular nerdy people, and living in the Bible Belt, and getting sucked into a crystallizing proto-cult wasn’t doing any of our stunted social lives any good; the Southern evangelical churches have the lock on weird cultiish beliefs in that neck of the woods and don’t take kindly to competition. I decided I’d had enough of it and ‘fessed up my fakery; I was ready to move on, literally and figuratively. I explained that I’d just been playing along, that it hadn’t been serious to me but just a game. I tried to put a nice spin on it by saying it was, to me, just a game we’d all been playing together, which was something I’d kind of told myself at the beginning, but I was no longer able to convince myself, and so I couldn’t convince them; it might have started that way but it had devolved into deliberate manipulation on my part, and we all knew it, and our friendship was in no way strong enough to survive that kind of betrayal.

I’ve often wondered what would have happened to those miracles in our memories, if I’d just moved on without confessing. Would those shared dreams have faded into “some crazy shit we thought up as kids” or would they have reinforced themselves into indisputable facts? Would my former roommates have stuck together and continued feeding each other’s credulous subconscousnesses?

Heaven's Gate - Darth Downey, CC: by-nc

When tragedies like the Heaven’s Gate suicides, there is always a chorus of people asking how could it happen? How could a group of highly intelligent people, skilled and educated professionals, possibly have convinced themselves of such bizarre things, to fatal result?

I don’t ask that. I know.

A Stupid Waste of Potential Joy

•November 18, 2011 • 2 Comments

I spent the other day helping my son celebrate his fourteenth birthday, along with the rest of his family. We gave him presents, we sang to him, we made a fuss over him. Those who couldn’t be there sent him wishes by telephone and mail and Facebook. He went to bed happy knowing he was deeply loved. He knows this every day, of course, but was there any harm in making one day a special all-about-him day?

Well, apparently there would be, were we Jehovah’s Witnesses. I did not know this, but apparently birthdays are verboten to the Witnesses. I discovered this when my friend, a good and friendly guy who happens to be JW, explained that he would not be attending our work department’s Thanksgiving dinner because, and I quote, “It’s wrong to set aside a day of Thanksgiving, because we should thank God every day.” From there the theological thread spilled out, and I learned that it’s wrong to set aside a day to celebrate a life, because you need to celebrate the gift of life every day… and, surprisingly to me, this is the only reason he doesn’t celebrate Christmas, because it’s just a birthday.

Perhaps I’m a bad person for judging his culture by my own standards, but so be it. He wanted to be at the dinner, and he was palpably jealous of the special fun day I had with my boy. There was nothing in the way of him celebrating the same way, except adherence to a silly ideology that insists on no day being special unless they are all equally special.
Yes, I call it silly, I call it stupid, and to the extent it imposes deliberate joylessness on others, especially children, I call it cruel, because human nature doesn’t work that way. You can love someone every day, but you can’t celebrate every day, and celebration is a very human and precious thing.

It doesn’t matter much what the proximate cause is, God or Marx or simple social conformity; when your point of view precludes parties, I don’t want any part of it; by definition, everyday isn’t a special day, and denying someone a special day because it can’t be every day is a stupid waste of potential joy.

11/11/11 11:11:11 – and so what?

•November 11, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I honestly don’t get what all the fuss is about. Yes, people, it won’t happen again in this century… just like next year’s 12/12/12 12:12:12 and last year’s 10/10/10 10:10:10 and the prior year’s 9/9/9 9:9:9 and so on back to 1/1/1 1:1:1.

At least there are no days or months numbered zero, and we aren’t on decimal time.

Okay, it is kind of neat to watch the moment pass (though not as cool as when epoch time hit 1234567890) but I’m bewildered by all the people who seem astonished by it,  like it was some unexpected coincidence. We’re counting up FFSMS!!

So Over BofA

•November 5, 2011 • Leave a Comment
Burning BofA

I am no longer a client of Bank Of America

I don’t live near an Occupy Whatever protest, and likely wouldn’t be able to find the time if I did, but I too have been growing increasingly irked with the arrogance and entitlement of big corporations.

Bank Of America is one such corporation in desperate need of humbling, and today I was happy to take part in a nationwide protest of a very traditional format here in America. That format is known as “taking my business elsewhere” and that’s what I and some tens of thousands of others did today.

It felt good to do something concrete. My money will now be served by my local credit union. It doesn’t hurt that this move saves me about $12 a month in fees.