Challenge Accepted, BareBandSubscriptions

Sorry about the long pause, but I’ve been rethinking the direction of this blog. I decided to do some cross-pollination: now I have a YouTube vlog under the monicker CounterfeitFrenchman. This blog will mostly be used to promote my videos, but occasionally I’ll post exclusive content here. Check my channel out down below!


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Some Kind of Pun-derful

Pun time? I think so!

Let’s start off with something classical…

Orestes Pursued by the Furries

Orestes Pursued by the Furries




For the more scientifically-inclined…


And a little something for the foodies, too…


 And finally…


Jeez, is it considered classy to end a blog post with a dig at both ebonics and impoverished inner-city sex workers? I can’t even tell anymore. The Internet has burned away my soul. If you hate humanity and just want to watch the world burn, and you’re a dead-souled bastard like me who wants to come up with even worse puns, leave them down below in the comments. Welp, see you all tomorrow.

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September 12, 2014 · 12:10 am

You’ll Get Upset When You Read What This No-Name Blogger Has To Say About Upworthy. Then You’ll Be Blown Away.

See how annoying the Upworthy click-baiting title structure can be? But we’ll get to that in a moment. First, a tangent:

The vast, volcanic ash-plains of the Internet are a lot like the Galapagos Islands. Freed of all our petty mainland notions of quality control, strange and terrible mutants are free to evolve, seemingly in defiance of all natural laws. Sometimes, you’ll come across something and just have no idea what you’re looking at, and have absolutely idea why any caring god would allow such a travesty to evolve in the first place. Media on the Internet evolves the same way, a fact which is best demonstrated by a look at the “news” website and viral content distributor Upworthy.

Since its launch in March 2012 with the mission of spreading progressively-themed content across social networks, Upworthy has become a huge success, with millions of hits a day and more capital funding per year than most of us will see in our lives. And that terrifies me. The trends we see developing in sites like Upworthy and to a lesser extent Buzzfeed will cripple the foundation of journalism if left unchecked.

A lot of the problems in Upworthy are also present to a lesser extent in the venerable Buzzfeed. Now, Buzzfeed is one of my favorite sites to visit. But I don’t go there for serious news, I go there to waste time looking at pictures of cats. Buzzfeed, like Upworthy, is meant to spread memes. That’s why it uses a gratingly informal headline convention that seems more at home on a chain e-mail than a news article. It’s designed to be click-bait, something that pulls your attention in and gets you lost in peeping at more and more articles. Upworthy does the same thing, only it’s even more annoying because unlike the simple, ADHD-like quality of Buzzfeed, Upworthy’s not just pushing cat pictures, but a worldview.

My biggest problem with Upworthy isn’t the way its headlines blatantly and cynically play to your emotions. That certainly doesn’t help, but it goes beyond that. The biggest problem I have with Upworthy is its dishonesty: it claims to be hard-hitting, truth-to-power viral journalism when it…just isn’t. The foundation of any good journalism is objectivity. The purpose of a news reporter is to report facts and let the readers draw their own conclusions. Opinions are for the editorials. Upworthy throws all that out the window for the sake of preaching to the choir, who in this case are the absolute lowest of the low-information voter demographic. It’s like Christian Rock for people who still watch The Newsroom: people will flock to anything that tells them what they already want to hear if they package it in an entertaining way. And I find that both personally annoying, but deeply offensive to real journalists. If Upworthy openly admitted that they were spreading a bunch of “info-tainment” targeted to a specific demographic, I’d have far less of a problem with them, and really all I’d point out is that their titling conventions are annoying. But that might leave some of their audience with some cognitive dissonance, and that could lead to THINKING! Can’t have that!

Upworthy is not interested in deep thinking. It’s interested in mobilizing lazy and shallow people with vaguely progressive heart-tingles into spreading viral memes.

That’s not to say that Upworthy doesn’t have its uses, of course. If you’re on Upworthy to look for a nice progressive news story to make you feel good about how “sensitive” and “socially aware” you are, then you’ll get what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for an accurate picture of the world around you, then you should probably go somewhere else. Upworthy’s just not in that line of work.


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Filed under Advice, Blowing off Steam, Reviews, Verbal Pantsing

Your Patriotic Duty (To Satan)


satan wants you to vote

I know, and right after a post supporting the flying of the flag, right? What kind of a patriot are you, T.J.? Well, being a nationalist doesn’t always mean supporting the government. The “nation” is the gestalt construction of a political group’s history, culture, customs, traditions, language, and genetic heritage. It can include government, but it encompasses much more than that. It goes deeper. 

Supporting the nation is more important than supporting the government, because it implies a deeper level of one-ness, a feeling of “this is my home; this is where I belong” than simply supporting the government. People can support a government for any number of reasons. Maybe they want the esteem of others. Maybe they just want free stuff. Maybe they actually do support the nation, but have fallen prey to our pernicious modern conflating of the two. The point is, while you can support the government for any number of reasons, noble or ignoble, supporting the nation generally means that you hold a deep and genuine level of affection for that patch of sod you live on.

And why not? After all, it’s home.

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Marin County Veteran Flies Flag, Trolled by Anonymous Leftoid

Somewhere, a leftist saw this picture and was triggered to the sodding moon.

A San Francisco leftist saw this picture and was just triggered to the sodding moon.


You really can’t make this stuff up, folks.

So there’s this guy in San Raphael, Marin County, California. A Vietnam vet by the name of Dean Morris. He’s a perfectly ordinary guy  who, like many other perfectly ordinary Americans, flies his nation’s flag in front of his house every day. Pretty boring stuff, right?

Well, you’re right. There’s nothing interesting about Mr. Morris in any way. Sorry to disappoint, I guess that just about wraps it up for toda–hey, wait a minute…


Earlier this week, Morris and a few of his neighbors who also flew flags every day received a poorly-written anonymous message berating them for their feeling of pride for their nation:

After checking with his neighbors, Morris learned his Riviera Drive friends who also fly American flags received the same note. It included profanity, and assumed its receivers were Republicans who did not agree with the politics of what the writer described as the nation’s “black president.”

This deserves a deeper analysis. Okay I guess it really doesn’t, but picking apart and verbally pantsing nameless and faceless IRL trolls is a great distraction from re-writing the opening of a hard-fantasy detective story, so I’m doing it anyway. Now where did I put my scalpels?…

1) Of course this sort of thing would happen in San Francisco. I’d expect Bostonians to try something similar, but the American Revolution actually happened there, so we tend to have a bit more respect for our history. 

2) What kind of a person sees someone with a flag outside some random guy’s house and just assumes they’re a conservative? A spoiled SWPL college student who’s never left the suburbs in his life, that’s who. In case you haven’t noticed, Americans in general love the flag, regardless of who they vote for. It’s literally one of the most uncontroversial things in the country right now. Hell, even among the New England libprog yuppies I grew up with, there was a seriously abiding, powerful respect for the flag as a symbol of America. I’m not even sure if this is a cultural thing in CA, or if this was just a complete Weather Underground-tier whackaloon. My point is that there are only 2 ways I know of for someone to be this sheltered from the realities of American political culture–not being familiar with American culture (foreigner, etc.), or prolonged exposure to radical politics. I’m guessing the latter, simply because most foreign visitors I’ve met have tried their best not to insult random people for no reason.

3) I found it very telling that our trollish friend here felt the need to specifically mention Barry O. as “the black president,” instead of mentioning him by name. Obviously this was intended as a triggering tactic, with the troll’s alleged “thought process” being something like “that guy down the street keeps his American flag out all the time and therefore must be a conservative, and therefore a racist! I’ll piss him off by reminding him that he’s being ruled by a black guy, that’ll show him!” Let’s put the whole “conservatives are racist” trope aside for now.  Instead, let’s look at how this statement betrays the troll’s own racial biases. It pulls back the curtain for a moment and gives us a peek at what lurks behind his façade. He doesn’t really think of Barack Obama as a person like you or me–his only value  lies in his blackness, since it makes him just a stick to hit conservatives with and make them cry. It’s a really weird feeling when you realize that the “racists” who treat the sitting president with scorn and hold him to certain standards are less bigoted than the “anti-racists” who only value him inasmuch as they can use him as a rhetorical weapon against other white people. Which group do you think is treating other races with more respect?

“Show some respect and fly your flag on important holidays instead of trying to make a moronic statement. It is not cute!”

Oh, I see. So now showing a patriotic symbol less makes you more patriotic? Kind of like how the sort of person who goes to church on Christmas and Easter takes his religion more seriously than someone who goes to church every week. I didn’t realize patriotism was such a scarce resource that we were rationing it now. Are you actually one of the secret field operatives for the Ministry of Patriotism, some sort of meter-reader for your neighborhood’s national pride?


Might wanna slow down a bit there, comrade.

That just about wraps thing up for today, so I just want to close with a brief observation:

Mr. Troll (should you come across this blog one day)–you know that “black president” you love to wield like a cudgel against your enemies and gloat over, but couldn’t care less about as a human being? Check out his house:


He never takes HIS flag down. How disrespectful, right?

Bonne nuit, mon ami!

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Filed under Blowing off Steam, Politics, Satire and Trolling, Verbal Pantsing

Literary Fiction vs. Genre Fiction

Let’s talk about books, and how we divide them.

The world of literature divides the books we read into two main types: “literary” and “genre”. But what do these terms mean to the average reader?

Not much. Simple reader enthusiasts have no time for fancy labels—they like the books they like, with categorization as an afterthought. Put the people who live in the world of literature (often the sort who obsessively analyze and suck the enjoyment out of any activity) swear up and down that category is all that matters. Literary fiction, or “lit fic” as the kids these days call it, is more than simple entertainment. It’s Literature, Art with a capital A, to be treated with the utmost dignity and respect. It’s the center from which everything else radiates. Everything else, from mysteries to science fiction, falls into the lower house of mere “genre fiction”. These sad little souls are imprisoned in a flat, grey world constrained by rules, where plots have to lead somewhere, endings have to provide resolution, and horrific leaps of illogic that those enlightened literati praise “intellectually challenging” are given the axe by philistinic editors. What silly peasants. Why can’t they just be more sophisticated, like their older brothers in lit fic? Lit fic, being Art, doesn’t have to be understandable to us lesser beings. How else would we know it was Art?


Exhibit A: the Literary Snob (Literaria superior)

Exhibit A: the Common Literary Snob (Sophosimulatus arrogans) 


Simply put, lit fic is full of it. It doesn’t exist it the present; only in the future by critics looking back and picking favorites through hindsight. To do this, the critic goes back and reads extra meaning into their favorite books to make them seem deeper and more profound. There’s really nothing too wrong with that. We all like to think of our tastes as more highbrow than they are, and as long as it’s not taken too far it’s all in good fun. The problem comes in when a work’s status as “literature” is used to compensate for incomprehensibility. Critics can say that profound thoughts can come across as gibberish to the simple-minded, and to an extent that is true. If you doubt it, try explaining evolution to a seven-year-old. But that excuse only goes so far. If a writer’s profundity can’t be fit into the confines of an actual story, it should be considered a very long poem and judged by those standards. It shouldn’t have excuses made for it and elevated above criticism in a category it doesn’t fit into, a category with no boundaries, seemingly, beyond “a favorite of over-educated hipsters”.


All books can be thrust into a genre, but people insist upon separating out the deepest as their own group, lorded above the others. It ignores what makes fiction good in the first place—the author lets you into their imagination and world, with a good story attached. “Literary fiction” has no restrictions, not even the restriction of having to make sense. 


Perhaps the genre of literary fiction should be recognized as a non-existent grouping, and divide up lit fic among the rest of writing. They could be put in whichever genre they shared the most elements with. But that leaves the other works of Literature—the ones which defy all the rules, which are so “deep” as to be meaningless. They can go hang out with the free-verse poetry, where they always belonged.

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Filed under Philosophy, Writing

Fisking NPR about Latinos in the movies

In which Larry Correia, International Lord of Hate, exposes the racism of a particularly tone-deaf “anti-racist” in spectacular fashion.

Monster Hunter Nation

Damn it, people. I post that I’m trying to finish a novel by the end of the month, and what do you go and do? You post Fisk Bait articles like this on my Facebook page.

As a D List novelist, I should be cranking out more cismale gendernormative fiction, but oh no, you guys had to go and tag me with an article about how all of our entertainment needs to be filtered through the lens of righteous Social Justice, and if you don’t find racism in absolutely everything, then racist. Obviously.

This is so dumb, how can I not take the time to make fun of it?

As usual, the original will be in italics and my comments will be in bold.

Here is a link to the original article on NPR. Since this is NPR you need to imagine the article being quietly narrated in the…

View original post 2,825 more words

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Filed under Politics, Re-blogged, Verbal Pantsing

POETRY CORNER: Aftermath in Vermont

Back in 2012, I vacationed in Vermont. This was in the summer, when they were still clearing the flood damage left by Hurricane Irene. We saw just devastated stretches of road wherever we went. After one particular outing, I decided to put my thoughts down on paper, and it came out as a poem. I don’t normally write poetry, but here it is:


Air like a pane of glass I could walk through, cool and moist and brittle,

Shiny grey and bright, a hint of rain with a promise of more to come.

Charcoal smudges drift above, charred cobwebs from some leviathan attic,

Broken loose from the grey slab grumbling up from the Cape

Drifting to herald the coming rain.

I look up: Oh hell, Irene was just last year!

But the new storm growls closer, callously ignoring our timetable.


Dead trees still standing puncture the green,

Towering needles the color of dried bone.

Humid gusts race through

Tree corpses rubbing and creaking in the gusts.

The forest ignores it all, regenerating all around

Sprouting around the standing dead as the rustling reaches a crescendo.

The green clings to everything, garden moss for giants.

Nature crowds in here,

Tucked between these green, winding ridges.


Twisting and ropy, all bends and sweeping curves,

The road cuts between the hills like a scar

Rough and pockmarked, swept out by a torrent, Irene’s latest punching bag;

Steel railing warped and gnarled, gravel strewn about like cat litter

An old grey house rests nearby, slumped sideways like a neglected tombstone

Water-pummeled, bottom floor a swept-out skeleton of load-bearing beams,

The rest shut up, boarded over, left to tilt and crumble

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Filed under Poetry Corner, Writing


Yeah…still working on that part. In the meantime, please enjoy this YouTube video of some Allosaurus.

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August 4, 2014 · 6:21 pm

Postatheism and How I Got There

Back when I used to blog under the pseudonym “The Voluntarydactyl”, this post was the most highly-regarded of the ones I’d put out. So what better way to kick off a new blog? This should give you a taste of the sort of narrative we push here, in the Purlieu. Are you prepared?



“I AM INEVITABLE,” sayeth the Lord.


“Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” — Edward Gibbon

So, religion or atheism?–strewth, that is the question! But what does that question even mean? After all, we can take that question more than one way. Are we asking whether or not religion is true? Or are we asking whether or not belief in the supernatural is good for society as a whole?

I’ll tell you right now that the first question is way, way beyond my pay grade to answer. I doubt it’ll ever be answered in any sort of comprehensive way either “yes” or “no”. What I can say, however, is that as of right now I do not believe in any sort of supernatural being or deity (or any form of supernaturalism at all), nor have I for quite some time. In fact, it’s been so long that I don’t think I can even put myself back into the mindset I used to have back when I was a Catholic. I also seriously doubt that I could–through sheer willpower–make myself believe in any type of supernatural god. This is for fairly uninteresting reasons, which have all been described in exhaustive detail on blogs that specialize in atheism: I simply have no compelling reason to believe that any religions have met their burden of proof. Furthermore, some of them (*cough* the Abrahamic faiths *cough*) are so transparently made-up that they continually baffle me. I happen to believe that I should have a rational justification for any beliefs that I might hold, whether through logical proof or physical evidence. And no, I do not “have faith in the rules of Logic”, ha ha. I simply see no possible way in which the fundamental rules of logic could possibly be false.

So, I suppose in that sense, I am an atheist. I don’t believe in any gods or religions at all. But in some ways that label doesn’t quite jive well with me. It used to, but after some deeper reflection I find myself finding a new label for myself. I’m leaning towards “postatheist”.

Why? Well, hopefully I can explain below.

You see, despite my skeptical, rationalistic mindset, I would be lying if I said that I didn’t have certain ultimately irrational and inexplicable desires down in some deep abyss in my brain, some bottom layer of instinctual yearnings for which the easiest shorthand term would have to be “soul”. I also cannot claim that I don’t sense, on that same instinctive level, a sense of crucial truth within certain meta-narratives (reciprocity, redemption, humankind’s imperfection). These are ideas that I try and hold onto in my day-to-day life because I feel that they are important.

Now, does this mean that I believe these instincts came from a god of some kind? No. That certainly might be true, but based on the evidence that I have seen, that answer is so hilariously unlikely that I don’t really even bother to think about it. I think it’s more likely that these instincts are simply cognitive leftovers from our primate ancestors, buried so deep that we barely even notice them, but that still pilot most of our thought processes. Biases, paranoias, and other snares that mislead our higher logical functions and ensure that Homo sapiens sapiens is not a fully logical creature.

Atheism may be the most logical (and pretty definitively correct) conclusion, but humans are not fully logical beings to start with. The old instinctive biases and sacred modes of thinking are humanity’s default position, not logical inquiry. That doesn’t mean that atheism is false, just that getting there means you’re swimming against the current in your own head, as it were.

Let’s face it, becoming an atheist is hard work. Is that a reasonable expectation to have for everyone in society? Is it even possible?

But the question of belief isn’t the one I’m really interested here. It’s the second question: is religion good for a society? Is a truly irreligious society even possible? Or will any society’s founding principle be treated as a dogmatic, unquestioned narrative–be treated as a religion–unto itself? After all, a simple look around your average Wal-Mart or McDonald’s does not give a very optimistic portrayal of the average person’s logical faculties. Give the average man atheism, and he won’t become a rational skeptic. He’ll just swap out dogmatic belief in Jesus or Vishnu for dogmatic belief in something else, like the mall, or Social Darwinism, or the inherent goodness of voting Democrat.

I think skepticism (which is the real goal here) is too much to ask of most people as a belief system. Skeptics will forever be a minority.

As it should be. Socratic gadflies never do their best work in swarms.

So, I suppose my main misgiving is that in a certain way, religion is cognitively inevitable for most people. If you believe in anything strongly enough, and ask hard questions sparingly enough, it will become a religion in your own mind. A few people higher up on the cognitive bell-curve may be able to become skeptics and break free of dogmatic modes of thought altogether, but most people, even most atheists, have gods. They might just be secular ones.

If you want to know what I’m talking about, go to a nearby political rally, look around, and ask ten random people if they would vote for the opposite party if God himself came down from the heavens and told them to.

Would you not be correct in saying that such people have elevated their political opinions to the level of a religion?

According to a recent meta-analysis of studies on the subject of religion and IQ there is a clear, statistically significant correlation between higher intelligence and lack of religious belief. The psychologists that performed the analysis have defined intelligence in this context as the “ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience.” Considering that this is precisely the kind of intelligence that the builders of society would need to have, it seems we have a clear cut case for the idea that an atheistic society is possible, and even desirable. Right?

Hold on there, buckaroo.

What’s significant about this study isn’t what it says, but what it doesn’t say.

What sort of core beliefs do these smarter people hold that a study wouldn’t necessarily recognize as a religion? Are those beliefs grounded in reason and evidence? We’d like to think so, but wish into one hand and spit into the other, and see which one fills up faster. Do these smarter people not have a fundamental, unquestioned narrative that they cling to because it gives their lives meaning in a chaotic and apathetic world? Could we not call thata religion? It’s easy for a smart person to not believe in a supernatural religion. After all, becoming an atheist is a lot of cognitive hard work (lots of childhood indoctrination to break through), so we would expect atheists to trend smarter than the rest of the population. So the question instead becomes what do these smarter people replace supernatural religion with, and is that good or bad for a society? And what about the stupider people, the people who will never have a firm grasp on complex scientific ideas like evolution or cosmology? What will they make of the new secular catechisms the ruling class sets up in place of the Old Faith ™?

If we look at the narratives we see those in the “commanding heights” of American society promoting, then I have to say that I find the fruits of our 230-year experiment in pseudo-secularism…unimpressive, to say the least. We don’t have a society of many religions equal and respectful of one another. We have a society dominated by a secular religion of envy-driven, egalitarian government worship, with a heaping dollop of culturally sterile offense-mongering to boot. Belief in the moral equality, if not outright moral superiority, of those who hold such ideas is a key article of faith. Wherever you look in the media (outside those networks set up purely to provide conservative “info-tainment”), you see the predictable revenge fantasies against the sinners and heretics: multinational corporations, evil capitalists, the 1% (whatever that means), Republicans, lobbyists, big oil, racists (whatever they are), talk radio hosts, etc. We are told that we must accept this supposedly non-religious narrative on faith simply because it is the consensus of the smarter people. Granted, I have problems with most, if not all, of the above groups too. But at least I can express my dislike for people like Rick Santorum and Alex Jones without raising it to the level of a crusade.

We don’t have separation of church and state. Our church is the State.

L’église, c’est moi“, said the man in the big white house.

So, why am I a postatheist? Because even though I don’t believe in supernatural gods, I recognize that superstitious modes of thinking can never be stamped out in any more than a select minority of truly open-minded and skeptical people. You can’t build a society off of that. Most people will always be religious. You may redirect their focus away from the supernatural, but then they’ll simply go and raise some other element of their lives onto the level of an unthinking dogma. There’s no guarantee that whatever they make into their new religion will be any better. Also, while atheism doesn’t necessarily lead to the mess of uncritical government worship and tepid, sterile egalitarianism we see in our culture today, it does seem to follow in atheism and secularism’s wake.

Most people will never overcome their instinctive search for dogma. Let’s at least do them the courtesy of letting them choose something life-affirming.


Filed under Atheism and Postatheism, Philosophy, Politics