Friday, February 29, 2008

Wow! What a sad, sloggy week. I haven't been able to drag my fat ass out of bed on time all week, so all of my writing has gotten done at work on my lunch hour. Oddly enough, the writing I've been doing at work feels firmer than the writing I do at home. I think that might be because I am CLOSE TO THE END. My writing might feel surer because I need to think more carefully about the ending. Or it seems like I should.

There is also the immense distraction factor of the Dungeons and Dragons Experience going on this week. There's tons of new info coming out about the version of everyone's favorite RPG.

Thinking so hard to do.

I have just started reading the Omnivore's Dilema. I will be leading a discussion about this book at the library, in April, so I have to get on the stick now. I read the introduction and part of chapter one this week. My initial reactions was: "I hate those foodie bastards."

The introduction was... mildly preachy. Once upon a time, when I was working at the New York Public Library, I used to attend professional development seminars. Quarterly or so. Every year, one would be about poetry.

Every year one of the presenters would get up and talk about how endangered poetry is, and how endangered the world is as a result. How civilization would not continue if poetry did not continue.

Now, I'm about poetry as much as the next guy. Probably a little more. I like Stephen Dobyns, and Thomas Lynch, and Blue Oyster Cult.

But civilization will continue without poetry, dudes. Maybe not without BOC, but yes, without poetry.

In the introduction to Omnivore's Dilema, the author states that if we knew better, we would eat differently.

"But forgetting, or not knowing in the first place, is what the industrial food
chain is all about, the principal reason it is so opaque, for if we could see what lies on the far side of the increasingly high walls of our industrial agriculture, we would surely change the way we eat."

Personally, I think this is crap.

I'm assuming he means more sustainably, though I'm not sure. I haven't gotten very far into the title. He has yet to define his terms, although one of his data points is a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. I'm pretty sure that even if hunting and gathering is ecologically sustainable, it is no longer economically sustainable with a population of 6 billion and growing.

I think people eat economically. No matter what. Even if they know better. I know better. I know what people do to chickens in order to get them into a package for eating, and I eat store bought, non-organic chicken anyway.

I do make choices like mostly removing high fructose corn syrup from my diet because that choice makes economic sense to me: I don't want to end up with diabetes, like other people in my family. Preserving my health is an economic goal. But I'm not replacing Coke with any widgety foodist beverage. I'm just drinking more water and coffee.

What's more annoying than his assumption that people eat the way we do because we are ignorant, and not economical, is that the author's language about the issue becomes mystical.

"To eat with a fuller consciousness of all that is at stake might sound like a burden, but in practice few things in life afford quite as much satisfaction. By comparison, the pleasures of eating industrially, which is to say eating in ignorance, are fleeting."

Right. Eating is a godamn mystery: a secret you can't understand unless you give your self over fully to the mystery. Like God.

This is a great attitude, if you're a foodie, and spend substantial amounts of your life reading about food, cooking, choosing groceries.

Many of us do not. We have careers non-foodie hobbies and play video games and read books that don't snark at us about our eating habits. We raise kids and spend time with our spouses.

Furthermore, nobody's ignorant of the properties of our diet. Or nobody should be. We all did nutrition modules in school. We all had annoying vegitarian friends in college. Everybody knows what the pitfalls of the modern diet are..

Nobody cares. We buy what we have a hankering for. If we're trying to loose weight, we try to eat less of it. If you're a foodie, good for you. It sounds like a great hobby. It doesn't make you magic. Like Jesus.

So, Pollan is an irritating transcendental foodie bastard. He's a good writer. He has a nice smooth narrative voice. I can only hope that the book, in addition to being fussy, is informative, so as to not be a total time waster. The first few pages of chapter 1 indicate it might be. Wish me luck.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Interesting things

This week has been a cavalcade of time consuming near disasters, that ended with a poorly edited post being locked for editing by the Amazon link I included with it. I should be grateful that all the misses were near, I guess. Typically, I am not. It was exhausting, and in the inky depths of winter I don't really have the energy to be graceful.

All week long, my kid does neat things, or I think of something that would make a blog post. Then I promptly forget them, and my blog sits here, pining for my attention. Sitting around my folks' place last weekend, I had some time to think, and I remembered some of the really interesting things that have been happening lately. But not getting posted.

Poppy, of course, does most of the interesting stuff in my life. We have gone sledding twice this winter. There is a bitty sledding hill pretty near my house. We go down on a foam and latex sled that lace holders on my boots slashes up. We aim for the bumps. It's lot's of fun. I banged my head good on that last bump, though. Nothing beats the sheer joy in a kid's voice when they do something like careening down an icy hill on a frictionless matte for the first time. Poppy shrieked like a gleeful banshee.

Also, Poppy is drawing again. I posted one of her early drawings, but she's branched out. She is drawing dinosaurs from the Land Before Time movies, one of her current favorite franchises. Then she cuts them out and glues them together in these flat, side-scroll style dioramas that are just awe inspiring.

They remind me of the sheer bliss out joy I used to get drawing fortresses or space wars. I would start by drawing a scene: gun embankments on either side of a canyon, or a sky full of space ships. Then I would draw the arcs of laser shots or bombs from one embankment or ship to the other, destroying my picture with the scribbled explosions that resulted. Ia, Kaos! Ia, the bringer of destruction! That was interactive, before interactive was interactive. I love that she is doing cool things with her brain.

Also, Poppy is becoming political. Poppy likes to join whatever we are doing. Now that we are having heated discussions surrounding the election, she wants to be a part of them. She will announce to the table: "I know who Mitt Romney is!" or "I know who Barak Obama is!"

I will always take the time to ask, "Oh, yes? Who is so and so?"

"Somebody who wants to become president of the United States!"

So much poise. She could be a junior Senator.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


I'm tinkering with the web page.

I added a list of comics I am reading. This is because, between last week and the fact that I will be reading a manuscript of a novel that Ruby and I have been working on together off and on for years, I will not be reading books. I will be reading graphic novel collections, because they're easy to squeeze in, but I didn't want them to swamp my book reading list.

I am adding links to my various websites that sell Amazon books. This is largely because I like tinkering with wizzywig web widgets. BUT. If you want to buy a book from Amazon, and don't mind if I get a dime for the transaction, you can click on the pics of books on these pages, or on the link titled: Kapture's Li'l Big Magic Amazon Store.

Seriously, though, if you're one of the few buds who reads my site, or even some mook who wandered across my site, do not feel pressured by my feeble attempts to monetize my site. They are more tinkering than intention.

In addition, you will see new widgets come and go on the sidebar, because I like adding funky looking stuff to my page and blogger lets me do cool stuff like that now. Hopefully, it will not become overwhelming.

I will also be adding some of the reviews from my old website, because I don't think I'll be putting my old web page back up anytime soon. I like blogs better. Hopefully, they will be better edited. But probably not.

Lastly, I had linked to a site called Till There Was Rock. It was one of my other blogs. I have torn down those posts and have transfered them to this blog. Till There Was Rock was meant to be a theme blog, combining articles on oddball science with stuff about "New Weird" style fantasy fiction and fantasy art. However, between running a game at home, working on a novel and, periodically, short stories, trying to sell all that crap, writing this blog, and living a life, I think it was too much to ask of msyelf. I'm just going to do the "Till There Was Rock" stuff here from now on.

Till There Was Rock, by the by, is a reference to a line in the Bowie song Sweet Head: "Till there was rock - you only had God" which to me expresses the awe inherent in the universe.

What I may do is start a blog talking about 4.0 and the digital initiative, because I would like to be involved with both, at first. It might start out as a campaign blog for my next game, a homebrew that pulls a lot of stuff from Unearthed Arcana and the psionics ruleset to create a sort of stripped down Gonzo d20.

Monday, February 11, 2008

From a customer review of a book titled Liberal Facism on

"In some ways it is a book-length extension of the question conservatives sometimes pose to liberals: "If you leave out the parts about killing all the Jews and invading Poland, what specifically about the Nazi political platform do you disagree with?" (That platform is handily provided in the appendix.) After Goldberg's book, this question is much harder to simply shrug off."

The killing and torture of the Jews and sundry other populations is generally why the Nazi's are considered repugnant. I don't think that's why the US got into World War 2. Probably the bit about the Nazi's making war on countries we considered ourselves allied with? I am something of a history philistine, so I will accept corrections gracefully.

I don't think people react viscerally to the word fascist because Hitler was a fascist and a socialist. I think it has more to do with the fact that Hitler was a fascist and a violent sociopath. I can't believe that fussing about a modern liberal's quasi socialist tendencies does anything to clarify the divisive nature of left vs. right politics. Rather, it seems like a deliberate attempt to smear liberals by associating the gentler aspects of their platform with a regime of mass murderers.

"For example, when Mussolini said "All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state", that sounded quite a bit like a hard-edged version of "It takes a village to raise a child." Both philosophies pose challenges to the classical liberal idea of the worth of an individual"

Maybe I am obtuse, but these statements don't sound anything alike to me. In fact, I suspect what Hillary was really saying was that "where the welfare of a child is concerned, everybody should pitch in." Maybe that's reading too much into it.

Now... what's the point? The guy posting this seemed relatively polite and well meaning. But underneath his mild demeanor, he was "explaining," with broad generalizations that widely miss the point, why a out and out smear was, in his own humble opinion, civilized.

That's really the technical definition of Bullshit: speaking for the effect you wish to convey rather than the information. What amazes me, I guess, is that bullshit is everywhere. In casual conversation, people tend to make like only media personages and pundits and politicians engage in bullshittery. But, no, every mook on Amazon, Comic Book Resources, and at the barbershop, is fluffing his oratory plumage for all the world to see.

Bullshit, bullshit everywhere. This guy does a good job of drawing out the Bullshit at the roots of Liberal Fascism.

Friday, February 08, 2008

Buying for your kid

My kid is the chiefest joy in my life. She is witty and energetic and lovely. She is like getting a bouquet of flowers every day.

When I was a kid, I loved action figures and role playing games. I have resisted forcing my own geek tendencies upon my daughter, so I have held off buying her the things that I loved until she shows interest. It warms my heart that she likes dinosaurs and Pokemon.

I am also an inveterate collector, from way back. I had many, many Star Wars toys, comic books, and game books as a kid and a young man. I still have some of them, though I've cut way back on collecting.

With all of this, when I go toy shopping for my kid, there is a definite temptation to over spend. Even though I'm closing in on forty, I love the Playschool animal toys. And when I see Pokemon toys, even though I'm not nearly as big a fan as Poppy, there's still a seductive call to catch 'em all.

Walking in the toy isle at Meijer's Thrifty Acres before Christmas, I formulated some thoughts about how to buy toys for your kid, and why:

1) Set a budget: It could probably be lower than you think it should be. See below.

2) They won't play with them all: Although it is true that Poppy has grown into some toys, there are some I might as well have not taken out of the box. Many of the big ticket toys that Poppy wants stay unplayed with in her room most of the year, while she takes the same inexpensive toys out over and over.

3) They'll ask for what they want: You shouldn't guess too much. Whatever they ask to watch on TV, whatever books or movies or shows they like, buy along with. Dinosaurs never fail to please Poppy. Same with Pokemon.

4) Some of the things they ask for, they don't want: Complex toys, the expensive ones, often don't get played with as much. Often, toys that do complex tricks are one trick ponies, and wear out their welcome after several repetitions. And if they need adult supervision to do their trick, it's probably not worth the price tag.

4) You don't have to catch them all: What are you going to buy for the next holiday, anyway? Let the collection grow slowly. They may lose interest in a year, and if they don't, then you still have stuff to give them the second year into their infatuation. Win-win.