Category Archives: linkage

A familiar driver

If you spend a lot of time commuting, you have seen something just like this guy.

Maybe you’re trapped behind a semi and he’s the one zooming around you despite your blinker and your patient wait for passing room. Maybe you were already passing, in which case he’s riding your bumper like you hitched him up, eager to dart through a gap approximately six inches larger than his own car. Maybe you’re stopped altogether and he’s rolling the shoulder.

In any scenario the common denominator is that you are In His Way, much like one of these unfathomable stacks of pixel and polygon:

Same concept, really. Jack Baruth quotes the Last Psychiatrist’s definition of narcissism, that the narcissist is the star of his own movie. Even that, I think, might sell it short, unless the movie is an epic in a Cinematic Universe and he’s the only one with standalone films. But watching that fool in the race video slaloming around all the other drivers put me much more in mind of a video game player. After all, in a movie there may be one major star but the other characters are, at least, characters… in a video game a person might be the only actual human player, and everyone else around him is by definition obstacles to surmount: some enemy to dispatch, or someone whose sole purpose to exist is to give him the geegaw that completes a quest or lets him defeat the level boss. Or worst of all, just something that is stupidly, pointlessly blocking his way when he has Important Him Stuff to be done.

Well, eff you for being In His Way.

I will admit that I haven’t read the comments there yet, so I don’t know if one of those folks has made either of these connections. I was away for a week and missed the column at the time. Still worth bringing up here not only for the video game player angle, but also because it was the first thing I noticed when I was watching the embed at Riverside Green… this guy didn’t notice that suddenly he was torching a track full of cars? Even from the camera I could see the flags he tore past, but more to the point, I also saw that very few, if any, of the other drivers were trying to block him or – and this is key – pass each other. Sure, he’s dusting them so in his mind, haha, they can’t catch me… but they would also be trying to move up all around him. Even in a racing game the CPU drivers are jockeying with each other for position.

So in one way, this guy is worse than a video game player because even that detail misses his notice. But beyond this, I brought up commuting because anyone with even passing familiarity with highway driving recognizes the signs of a whole roadway slowing down, even in mid-pass: it means the State Patrol is waiting on the shoulder, harvesting the ignorant. So even if this gentleman was just a dabbler in his very first road race, he should have picked up on this. It takes no skill. All you need to do is not be obsessed with what’s going on in your own imagination.

(As an added wrinkle – I was on an out-of-state trip to visit with family when I missed Jack’s post. It’s a substantial, all-day-in-the-car affair to make the trip, more apt a comparison to an endurance race like the one shown than is a daily commute, even a lengthy one. You have to keep aware at all times. If the trip’s 12 hours, it’s not good enough to be crash-free for 11:58 and then tell everyone “Eh, what can you do, right?” while they airflight out the family in the minivan you crushed. You are the jockey, not the horse, and cannot drive with blinders on.)


This is magic

Come for the Cardinals baseball… stay for the Lord’s Own Hockey.

(language alert!)

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Who gets to choose, anyway?

I play on a hockey team called the Killer Rabbits. No swooning, please – we’re old people so we play on foot with a ball (dek hockey), and we’re not all that great even on this humble level. But we have fun, and that’s why we do it.

As a result, we have certain teams we enjoy playing who are in it for the fun as well. Sure we like to win, but if not, we still shake hands with those guys and part as friends who share a common love. If we’re not playing against each other we’re usually talking shop about the game. But there are others that take it way too seriously. Hockey isn’t the point anymore, it’s winning at something, or (for a few whose games it is my unpleasant duty to referee*) the freedom to clobber people with sticks without legal consequence. And frequently, it’s those who have lost the good who are the most obsessed with the rulebook – not because they want to actually follow anything therein, but merely as a tool to start pointless debates with us referees, trying to justify their mayhem or blame us for errors, real and imagined.

* I ref the games of teams in the other divisions. Again, let me stress that this is a really low-level rec league, and the normal considerations of conflict of interest don’t apply. Someone’s gotta do it or there’s no league, and besides, in 20 years I’ve played on nearly every long-established team at one time or another, even if just filling in as a goalie. (Nobody carries a backup so if your guy’s hurt, it’s quite common to grab someone coming off the rink or waiting to go on.) The bottom line is: if you’re carrying a grudge against a dek hockey team based on your own games, and can’t ref them fairly as a result, then your temperament is not really suited for the job.

Which gets me to the would-be gatekeepers of true sci-fi fandom. I observe that when these stooges say that others aren’t real fans and therefore are disqualified, they’re lying on two levels: first, about the actual facts (who is a fan, what makes a fan); second, about their motives. They don’t care about who’s really a fan because they don’t care about the genre. They care only about being a gatekeeper, about the power to confer some coveted status that they’ve invented for the occasion. Love of the thing has been lost entirely; a true love would rejoice to find more people to truly share it, but they want to restrict and hoard. They can’t possibly compete with a true love, so they disqualify the lovers on some spurious grounds: not socially-conscious, too cis-whateverist, not really a fan.

And they do it because it so often works. Those who love a real thing dislike having to waste all their time justifying it, or protecting it (and themselves) from such Busybody Bossypants. It’s not worth the trouble to constantly argue about nonsense to get to the fun. The BBs don’t care because the argument is the big thing for them – especially winning it. That’ll show them!

Like the miscreants I send to the box, they lie; like them, they have no point; and like them, the gatekeepers dream that they are in fact referees and not fellow players. They don’t even care enough about the game to learn to play it, much less win, so they try to change the rules – that’s the skillset they’ve mastered and they use it. But soon they inevitably reach the point where nobody will play their game with them any more and they will be alone with the thing they truly love – their superiority – while we are rewarded with what we truly love. For where our treasure lies, there our heart is as well. All get what they desire; not all will enjoy the bargain.

What they never realize until too late is that such groups always tear themselves apart. It’s simple to see why: if all one loves superiority, then one will always wish to be the supreme superior boffin of whatever fiefdom one has invaded: all else are rivals. Excuses will be found to restrict the rewards to an ever-narrower inner circle, and to turn the punishments on an ever-wider general public. The innocent jokes told to friends today will be People’s Glorious Exhibit A in your show trial tomorrow.

The machine must run.

My 15 seconds of fame

So after last night’s Islanders win, I was rattling around on the Twitter, half-noticing the postgame show…

Yup, that was me. Shannon Hogan and Butch Goring briefly poked fun at the idea, and then it was gone.

Over at the Lighthouse Hockey online digs, such japes are par for the course. We kid! We kid, because we love! So I hope that Cal won’t mind it too much. Besides, yours truly wouldn’t rate an emergency call-up with this weak ‘stache game.

Hey guys, good game.  How about a Dr Pepper?

Hey guys, good game. How about a Dr Pepper?

Also, I’m fairly certain the Islanders clubhouse doesn’t have an unmade bed and a reading light.

The unholy censors

Severian links through to an interesting (if brief) review and critique by Michael Brendan Dougherty of a collection of essays by Joseph Bottum.

I have not read Bottum’s work, and am only familiar in passing with Dougherty’s – primarily because he’ll crop up on ESPN from time to time writing about sports topics.  (I may have to remedy that, if for no greater reason than that he rocks a Quebec Nordiques t-shirt in his bio picture.)  In any case, I intend to branch off a bit here, because I’m more interested in something Sev wrote in his link-through:

It’s common knowledge among those who notice things that liberals are, on all matters except sex, censorious, moralizing, pharisaical little prigs.

To begin: I know that a good number of folks I chat with on Twitter and such self-identify as liberals, so I want to note something about the use of the term here.  At blogs where Sev and I interact regularly, there’s a lot of debate about whether the term Liberal or Leftist is the more appropriate when discussing the most radical examples of what is commonly called Liberalism or the Blue State Model.  I far prefer “Leftist” as the proper term for a few reasons I won’t go into here; I don’t want to be derailed on a side-issue.  Just roll with the term for now.  But I want to say this much: I know that a lot of you guys are not, in fact, sanctimonious or pharisaical.  OK – good – we’re gonna move ahead – sorry to slow you down –

I submit that the current licentiousness drowning our society is, in fact, an elaborate censorship.

People of this anti-human bent are censorious about sex, like they are censorious about everything else.  To be more precise, they are censorious about the true nature of sex in humans.  And the first truth about sex is that it unites people.

Physically this is indisputable; as one moves through the physical to the mental and spiritual, it becomes easier to hide and mislead on this basic fact, but couples themselves know better.  In fact, sex is often enough the result of couples who catch each other’s attention for other reasons.  In situations where the physical is the primary motive, these other motives for spending time together frequently arise; those couples without these other bonds nearly always dissolve.  Sex also frequently leads to couples preferring each other to anyone else, and both expecting and promising exclusivity – a thing that could not happen if the physical bond were the only one to consider, since there are always times where one or both partner is unavailable sexually.  Also, sexual attraction naturally leads to people pairing off in as beneficial a match to themselves as they can arrange: not necessarily where the greatest sensual delights lie, either.  Nor is satisfaction in a lover’s relationship exclusively gauged by those couples as the greatest degree of physical sensation.  And it all leads to family units that people are willing to defend to the death against all comers.  A happy home is something worth protecting, and not surprisingly people will speak up about and oppose proposals destructive to that happiness – whether the family or the proposal are liberal or conservative.  People with families to protect unite across political and social strata to do it.

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Linking, blinking, and nod

So I made a few alterations in Ye Olde Blogrolle.

(I also picked up a bunch of E’s on sale at a discount typographer, if you couldn’t tell.)

Two of the newly-linked are sci-fi authors: Sarah Hoyt and John C Wright.  Ms. Hoyt currently has a Heinlein quote in her blog’s banner – part of a quote with which Mr. Wright takes issue in a post.  It’s fun to note that this doesn’t deter Mr. Wright, in his very next post, from then linking and discussing something written by Ms. Hoyt.

The third is, you guessed it, an author as well.  Unlike my other two blogrollees, Robert Godwin has actually made a sale at Chez Nightfly, though I regret that I have yet to finish One Cosmos Under God.  I do hope to correct the gap in my bookshelf as regards the other writers in question, whose blog posts argue well for their abilities.  Also, my apologies to Mr. Godwin, who has written a fine book – the failure to finish lies squarely on my shoulders.  I do note that it took me a few tries to get through GK Chesteron’s Everlasting Man, and that turned out all right in the end, so I’m certain I’ll make it at some point.

I think I may have found the inventor of glurge

The term “glurge” was invented (if memory serves) over at, to describe the treacly and cloying faux-inspirational stories found in chain emails.  If it’s got angels, wild coincidences (OR ARE THEY???), and a plea to forward the story to 15 people or all your geraniums will die in a fire, then it’s glurge.

Ah, but who invented glurge itself?

Well, before email chains, these were the sorts of sentiments you’d find chain-stitched and framed in the parlors of elderly relatives, or clipped from magazines and taped up on refrigerators or in scrapbooks.  Therefore, I reason that the inventor may have been one of these magazine editors or publishers.

Well, while bouncing around the archives of the blog Tenth Letter of the Alphabet, I came across this post, the wonderful lettering of a gentleman by the name of F.J. Trezise. Turns out that Mr. Trezise was closely associated with a trade magazine called The Inland Printer back around the dawn of the 20th century.  (The magazine still publishes today under the title of The American Printer and Lithographer.) And a lot of the work was to letter the epigrams of one A. H. McQuilken, Editor.

You really should visit the above link and read them in their original published form.  It’s incredible stuff. Not exactly glurge, per se, but there’s a closely-related field, greeting card philosophy, that plagues us to this day.

A search for more information reveals that Mr. McQuilken had previously published something called The Journal of Tuberculosis, “A Quarterly Magazine Devoted to the Prevention and Treatment of Tuberculosis,” at the very close of the 19th century, and that this august work is available as a collected reprint from Amazon and Barnes and Noble.  This search also uncovered folks such as Rear Admiral John H McQuilken, who reformed the US Navy in the 50’s; former NFL quarterback Kim McQuilken

…and a certain Dr. Robertson McQuilken, “a man of passion” according to this YouTube video, and the author of several inspirational, Christian-centric books.

One would have to read them to decide if these are glurgy or not.  And of course, there have been plenty of powerful true stories that have been glurged by well-meaning believers, quite without the consent or even knowledge of those involved.  I’m inclined against, based on a bit of reading about the man for the past 45 minutes.  He traveled as a missionary to Japan, for example, and that hasn’t always turned out quite so well.*  And there’s another video that popped up in the sidebar at YouTube that I simply must watch next: “Pat Robertson vs. Robertson McQuilken on Alzheimer’s and Marriage.”  May it fulfill all my fondest hopes and wishes.

* The anime series Samurai Champloo has an entire episode devoted to Japanese Christians, a false priest pretending to be a descendant of St. Francis Xavier, and the practice of “fumie,” where people trampled on Christian icons to prove that they weren’t believers.

So it appears that the title of this post is premature… the search for Patient Zero of Glurge goes on, though Mr. A H McQuilken appears to have a very low degree of separation.  Luckily, it’s a trail that leads through a lot of unexpected and fascinating territory.


§ Insty reports a new wine in town.

On May 24, 1976, the British wine merchant Steven Spurrier organized a blind tasting of French and Californian wines. … The results shocked the wine world. According to the judges, the best Cabernet at the tasting was a 1973 bottle from Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars in Napa Valley. When the tasting was repeated a few years later—some judges insisted that the French wines had been drunk too young—Stag’s Leap was once again declared the winner, followed by three other California Cabernets. These blind tastings (now widely known as the Judgment of Paris) helped to legitimate Napa vineyards.

But now, in an even more surprising turn of events, another American wine region has performed far better than expected in a blind tasting against the finest French châteaus. Ready for the punch line? The wines were from New Jersey.

Bingley has been way ahead of the curve on this, apparently.  Even I, who imbibeth but a little, have enjoyed the occasional winery tour-and-taste.  Cream Ridge Winery is a good spot for that sort of thing if you’re visiting the Garden State.

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