Fear, focus, and the future. Here, C.M. Humphries writes about whatever.
Maybe you've never considered "learning" as a possible addiction, but here I am to suggest the contrary. "Addiction is a brain disease," Alan I. Leshner, PhD. said back in 1997. He was considering the chemistry of the brain as it related to addiction, but I believe there are many more ways to look at such a statement, one of them being the way you process information. For example, there are some of us who coast in life, just bouncing off the ropes a bit, because there's an inherent sense of knowledge.
Some people like to refer to such individuals as "old spirits" because they either know everything, literally, or because they have a basic understanding of what to do in life. "New spirits" are often seen as inferior or somewhat ignorant individuals. These people tend to question everything and always flash a curious eye. In my opinion, the stigma around new spirits (and/or "souls" as I think of it now) is completely erroneous and arbitrary at best. People who want to know more, might have a real advantage in life, but on the other hand, they might have a limiting addiction.
I recently stumbled across an article about a bestselling writer who wants to either stop libraries from lending out books or force them to pay a substantially larger royalty.
Terry Deary, author of the children's series Horrible Histories, lashed out in The Guardian about the irrelevancy of libraries & the harm they cause writers, editors, and publishers.
Here's what he had to say:
Kelsey Timmerman, author of Where Am I Wearing?, Where Am I Eating?, former mentor, and the only writer I know who can catch a glimpse of someone's undies and recognize their origins, tagged me in The Next Big Thing Blog Hop.
Check out Kelsey's answers on his work in progress.
Now take a breath and prepare yourself for my journey.
While I would assume you're perfect in every way and everybody loves you, you might've come across an insult some point in your life. In fact, if you have a social profile, I bet you've seen a little slip come through. That is, although you'd striven for a clean profile page, someone either insulted you publicly dismissed your thoughts, or simply made a comment you didn't want the bulk of your friends to see.
In most scenarios, people either report, delete, or challenge the comment. However, when your business is writing (which emphasizes the idea of Free Speech), your choices are really ignore or conquer. Today, though, I came across an author who started to receive nasty remarks and decided to run with them.
Are you guys ready for another edition of what's in Chris' old files? Of course you are. Today is a story about a man and a ghost problem. This isn't your linear sort of tale. It's more of a bizarre twist of events. A cocktail of some fancy adjectives. Enjoy!
A sensation of sandpaper grinding my neck overwhelms me. I wish I could burn this shirt, or rip off the collar and use it as the fuse of a Molotov cocktail.
Around this time last year, I started up a small list of some of the worst holiday promotions and things I stumbled across. This year is no different, and you probably will cringe at some of the things I've found. By the way, there's a bit of adult content below, so you probably shouldn't click "Read More" if you're under 18. Now that I'm in the legal clearing, let's talk about some of the worst holiday promotions.
Transgressive fiction is nothing new. In fact, although I coin myself a transgressive writer, it's kinda like saying punk rock after the 1980s. To be a true trangressive writer, many would argue you must've been a published pen between the late 1800s and early 1900s. However, many writers of the new and sorta new can be found quite easily today, such as Amy Hempel and Chuck Palahniuk. Oh yeah, James Joyce - you know Ulysses - is a pretty common gem. While we're name dropping: Bret Easton Ellis, Anthony Burgess, Elizabeth Young.
Trangressive fiction started with prose that was often banned or chastised for being too obscene, too vulgar, or just too close to home. These stories brought the social struggles of their times into an honest - admittedly sometimes dark - portrayal. Some people go to the extreme, while others might just rip on consumerism.
The thing about transgressive fiction is that's it's about what's right. Here are 3 points to consider if you ever find yourself bored in a Barnes & Noble and want to count the trangressive writers throughout the entire store.
"And the Zombies Starved"
Zombies were all the rage back then.
It started off with movies like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, all the comedic romance stories disguised by those flesh-eating beasts. Cara and I’d watched them all during their midnight releases. When it first began, I was just as much a fool as anyone else. That was true until I remembered my distaste for the film Pearl Harbor. Some said Pearl Harbor was a masterpiece in the way it isolated a personal story from something much larger. Critics said it humanized the United States involvement in WWII. I said it was populist bullshit designed to sell the same old Hollywood love-story. It was a multi-million-dollar rerun masked by something that looked like war in the background—a love triangle and explosions in the distance.
Such storylines could’ve been juxtaposed with any other set of circumstances: an interstellar dilemma, an ominous dreamscape on Elm Street, inside of a failing 50s diner. Back then, it was tongues in throats and, oh yeah, zombies eating brains. But it was all the rage and it had everyone hooked.
One night after work, Cara came home with an atrocious set of heels painted black and green with something I assumed to be a face of a brain-munching undead. “You like them?” she asked. “I don’t think they make too many of them. They’re Zombie Heels.”
I nodded and kissed her before we went to bed.
The next morning, on my way to work, I saw dozens of women pass by wearing green, red, and purple variations of the same goddamn Zombie Heels. When did the undead become so colorful? Even at work, women wobbled in and out of the sandwich shop with the click and clack of cliché until I had my first apocalyptic impulse. That was, I wanted to shoot every last zombie-sporting sucker right through the skull. Zombies were never meant to be cute, colorful, or cuddly. They were—and always would be—a mixture of medical and social experiment gone awry. If Hollywood turned the stories of Jack the Ripper or Jack Kevorkian into whimsical love stories, would women start dropping their day jobs for the glorious life of prostitution or start carrying around their own IV tubes?
My only sense of relief derived from the fact, when the customers ordered their sandwiches, they asked for BLTs instead of brains. And I only discovered sleep when I realized that one day the fad would pass. Be it the end of my beloved creatures as they were in their raw, gruesome forms, but the end of mainstream madness nonetheless.
But it only metastasized. The following morning, I awoke to a thump on the nightstand next to our bed. My eyes peeled open like fresh blood oranges to see Cara hovering over me with a grin that slit her face in half. “Look,” she shouted as she pointed at a book next the alarm clock.
I glanced over and saw a book with zombies on the cover. “Jesus, no,” I muttered. I read the back cover:
Roman and Julia are forced apart by their wealthy parents, never to express their love for each other again . . . That is until a scientific experiment to turn their parents into super humans turns them into flesh-eating monsters.
“Doesn’t it sound great?” Cara asked, truly impressed with her find.
“Do you realize what this is?” I asked her.
“Yeah, it’s a gory zombie book.”
“Gory—No, this is nothing more than Romeo and Juliet . . .”
Something boiled under my skin. Whatever it was, it hid under the façade of anger and consumed me in a matter of mere seconds. I snatched the book and showed Cara exactly what I thought of it by hurling all three hundred pages at her chest. The problem was, I aimed too high. The book smacked against her temple, and Cara dropped limp to the floor.
“Shit,” I yelled.
Back then, the police were overzealous and overabundant, and they didn’t care how or why your wife was unconscious in your bedroom. If you’d hurt her, the police would hurt you. So I ran.
Past all the houses on our street, down through the shopping centers and glass testaments to mankind, I sprinted for nowhere. It didn’t matter where I ended up so long as I was away. On my journey, though, something came over me.
Everywhere I turned there were watered-down zombies. Passersby wore tattered t-shirts with cartoon zombie prints. Chuck Taylors and high heels alike boasted some demented aspect of beauty coinciding with the zombie. Was I alone in the world? Maybe all these people were zombies in the Haiti sense; carrying on the last thing they were told or shown. On every corner, marquees contained zombie puns within the movie titles. There were zombies everywhere.
Enraged by the zombie rage, I hurried along my path of uncertainty, brushing by zombies on every crosswalk. I knocked down a woman in her forties when I saw her zombie earrings. I took out some punk on a zombie-themed skateboard and almost cried when I saw blood rushing onto the sidewalk from underneath his head. Right before I took a bus headed out of town, I knocked out all five members of a street band called The Lost Sombi.
Wiping off the sweat from my brow, I found a seat on the bus and tried to regulate my breaths. The bus reeked of cat-piss, cheap cologne, and mothballs. Together it stirred into a brew I’d associated with decay. Although my senses peaked and the bus ride was slow, I kept to myself. During the trip, however, I couldn’t stop thinking about Cara. Did I knock her out, or did I actually kill her? How many zombies did I take out during my escape from town? It wasn’t my fault—It was those stupid movies trying to cover-up tasteless and unmemorable plots with the walking dead. It was the devolution of mainstream society from Barbie to Zombie High.
Just when I thought I’d regained my composure, a little boy turned around and stared at me, before he shoved his Game Boy in my face. He said, “I just got this.” While his mother tried to stop him from talking to a stranger, the boy kept yapping as a remake of Zombies Ate My Neighbors flashed on the screen. “See, you go around and shoot zombies with Super Soakers and kill them, and you can throw soda cans and twin-pops at them, and you . . .”
I punched the kid square in the face.
The mother screamed and swatted at me with a zombie purse, as I stood up and smashed her son’s Game Boy on the grated floor. At once, the bus halted, and one-by-one, the travelers came at me.
Swiping the purse, I wacked and pushed everyone in sight until I reached the front of the bus.
Tossing the purse to the ground, I ran as fast as I could to an old hotel at the end of the next block. Inside, I pulled out all of my cash from my wallet and told the woman at the desk, “I need a room as high up as you’ve got.”
She threw me a curious look and remained still for a moment. A phone resided next to her, a few inches from her anxious fingertips. She tapped along the countertop, her slight movements drawing more erratic by the second. The woman peered up at me, and I stared right back at her. As she started to reach for the phone, she pivoted around and grabbed the top left key from a pegboard behind her. “You’ll need to write yourself in,” she said before she slid a clipboard of forms in front of me.
Back then, time eluded me. I might’ve stayed in the room for a few days, although it felt like months. From time to time, I clicked on the television to see if I needed to find a new hideout, but there was one time when the evening news surprised me with a different sort of newscast. On the screen, a woman so starved she might as well been a zombie reported the tale of a new cult hero. A video package displayed dozens of people boasting hats, shirts, and lunchboxes with my face. Not only did the merchandise depict an unauthorized interpretation of me, but in my hand was a shotgun pointed at a mob of poorly sketched zombies. The videos of my fans cut short when the reporter pressed on her earpiece and said, “We’re now going live to the hotel, where our ‘cult hero’ was last seen checking in. Breaking news, folks: I’ve just received word that police are now in search—”
I slammed my thumb on the power button of the TV remote controller and bolted for the window. The window wouldn’t give as I tried to lift it open, so I grabbed the nearby end table and shattered through the glass no sooner than the police plowed through the door of my room.
Down below, reporters and a swarm of fans with my t-shirts all screamed up at me. There was a way out, for sure. I could’ve escaped through a set of emergency ladders around the hotel, but I hesitated at the sight of at least 300 people cheering me on. Didn’t they get it? I guessed there were a lot of people who didn’t get it back then. Now I had to choose between escape and perpetuating the very thing I detested. It was either that or I’d have to succumb to the officers’ efforts to arrest me and go to jail as a wife-beater. One more glance at all the zombies below on the streets and I decided to do what was right. The right thing was not the rage back then. Arms straight out in front of me, I dropped to my knees and said to the police officers, “Please."
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At some point in our lives, most of us have spent time with another human being, who at first seemed quite lovely and breath-taking, but later wanted to take our breaths away literally. While there might be some sort of attraction to said person or a deep case of sympathy, someone who is genuinely frightened or concerned by their significant other would make the hard choice of walking away. However, for those of us who were not the "psychopaths", we might've made the worst decision ever. Why? Well, you'll have to continue reading. You might just be surprised by what follows.
The story "Sleep" from the short story collection No-Injury Policy was deeply influenced by college debt. Although the story is meant to be a bit absurd and make as much logically sense as a nightmare, "Sleep" aims to reveal what happens to a world that is burdened by social pressures, one of which being the expectancy to excel after college.
The thing with college is, most people further their education for a better tomorrow. However, once you've finished bettering yourself, you step back into a world that might have forgotten about you until you've made a huge leap in your life, such as procuring a prestigious career. But how do you keep improving your life when all of your decisions are based on money - that average student debt of $23,000? WOULD YOUR LIFE BE BETTER WITHOUT THE SHACKLE OF STUDENT LOANS?
By nature, literature has always remained somewhat conservative. I don't mean this in any political way, and I don't mean the content is too PG (I think that wave is almost over). When I say literature is a bit too conservative, I mean the concept of a book or publication. Literature has always been slow to react, as we saw with the Big 6's hesitance towards eBooks. And even though we're somewhere in the transition from print to digital, I don't think the eBook will ever save literature, so to speak. I've come up with 3 ideas for literature to save itself, or otherwise it might contribute to it's own death.
It's getting closer to bedtime and you're looking at your loved one, thinking about the ways you would love to express your love. The day was a long one, and now you want to share the excitement of a relationship and reduce stress in one fell swoop. You start with the sweet nothings and pillow talk shortly before your loved one turns to you and says they're too tired, too stressed, or they have a headache. Now, making love would be the cure-all in this instance, but it takes two to tango. Getting two people to agree about anything is difficult. So there you are, wanting to embrace your lover and wishing the stressors keeping you awake at night would go away. What do you do?
From day one, we learn plagiarism is a big no-no. Likewise, we tend to dislike anyone who "borrows" our hard work, whether in the case of a story or a witticism.
But can someone borrow just a little and get away with it?
For instance, music producers tend to pay an "homage" to other artists by sampling their tracks. We've seen in the past how record labels can sue each other for sharing too much of the same work. Does the same rule apply to literature?
Halloween is already in the past, but for me the scares have only begun. Most people will read eerie stories or watch one of the thousand Stephen King adaptations they play on every channel before and after FX - just for one night! To me, this is the time of year during which I wolf down numerous eerie tales. However, as of late, I'm having a hard time finding some good, scary tales. It seems the villains have been watered down. You can save that stuff for the kiddies. If you want a better villain, consider what's next in this entry.
When expectations are high, money is tight, love is tainted and stress is ubiquitous, the citizens of Chase County will do anything to make sure they survive. From the deconstruction of a town to frivolous intercourse with strangers, No-Injury Policy explores the dark depths of human nature when social pressures peak.
No sooner than the meek taste retribution, however, they encounter the demons that have aided authority figures to the top - demons that refuse to lose control no matter what it takes.
No-Injury Policy is the 1st short story collection by C.M. Humphries, showcasing seven of the eeriest tales from every town in Chase County: Raven's Crook, Lovington, Lakeside, and Long Brooke.
Following along as I provide a snippet of each story in the collection. If there's a picture to the left of the premise, that means I blogged on a topic from the story. Be sure to check them all out.
Let's face it, we're part of an interesting historical period. Or several. There almost seems to be an ideological Civil War taking place within the United States, one that might determine what is right, what is acceptable, and what is illegal. No matter what your stance is on an issue, you probably realize it's important to stand up for what you believe. However, let me suggest that you spend a little more thinking than acting.
(BLOG ETHIC NOTE: You might notice I use "they" instead of "he" or "she" in many of my posts. This is an effort to remain gender-neutral and a choice of craft I implemented during linguistics courses at Ball State University,)
The reason show is more of focus than tell in a story is all due to the way we perceive information as human beings. Interestingly enough, Amanda Davis, a Byrn Mwar student, wrote, "It's become clear to me that humans' primary sight organ is our brain."
Even the recent democratic speech made by Bill Clinton tried to apply this notion. Rather than making promises to change America, he spent time getting the audience to visualize the democratic plan step-by-step with actual facts and practical explanation. Whether you side with democrats isn't relevant in order to see the way Clinton came off more emphatic and believable than any of the other speakers for any side of the presidential race.
If you apply this theory to the page, you'll quickly realize why certain books entertain and inform better than others. Sure words can be written on the page that tell the story. With a little more craft, a great description can provide an excellent visualization of geography and set the tone. But what's more effective, is constructing a story in a such a way that the reader can relate to multiple layers of the story, especially a character's actions - what a character does without much explanation.
In No-Injury Policy, I strive to showcase stories that rely more on character interaction than anything else. I haven't neglected eloquent description, and sometimes a little tell sets the scene like the beginning to a theater production. But if a character does something, then it's important that they don't need to say why. It should be obvious. And as for the things said character does, readers should be able to think, "Yeah, I thought about doing something like that before."
The general concept is to set characters in pressing social constructs (that nature of trangressive fiction) and have them live out the reactions we all wished we could live out. One example is the story "Sleep" from No-Injury Policy. In this story, a character named Adam Hope is a recent graduate/writer (how creative of me, right?) who is pressed by the norm of finding a "real" job. In short, he loses a lot of sleep while trying. We've all been in situations during which stress kept us wide awake through the night.
However, Hope is sickened by the expectation of having a great career right off the bat. The thing is, he's not alone. The rest of Long Brooke can't sleep, and soon they'll all going to show society just what they think. The idea of demonstrating our angers and frustrations to someone or something pressing is a dream for many of us; therefore I hope many of you will enjoy the tale. Admittedly, the story's a little off-the-wall.
It's this kind of retaliation that I think makes a good story. A character is in an extreme version of everyday life, faced with crushing social constructs, they want to break free, show people what they think of their norms, and pursue a vocation they truly enjoy. In most cases, a character who acts out the way we all think about doing is always the protagonist in our eyes.
Occasionally the bad buy will make us cheer on the inside, but that doesn't mean the character is the antagonist. He could simply be the anti-hero, or he could be the antagonist in the literal sense: The opposing force in front of a hero's goals. Then again, every protagonist is someone else's antagonist.
The same argument could be made for recent college graduates. You spend four years deep in ideology and practice, but once there's a taste of the real world, things change. Some of us live out our dreams. Some of us keep trying. And the weaker of us simply gives in. As the butler from "No-Injury Policy" says, "You're too young to understand now. You might say you would't do things just for money, but when you're an adult you'll be surprised at what you won't do for money."
Of course, the longer you live, the more you'll become for which you'll become responsible. In this sense, priorities need to be made in order to fulfill those responsibilities, but the dream still lives on somewhere. And this is where a good story comes in: It can at least allow us to imagine the things we always wanted to do. It only makes sense a good story can relate to us in such a manner.
While I aim to have my characters live out our best and worst ideas, it's important to note they are all "manning up." This is the difference between a great speaker and mumbler. It's the difference between a good character and a flat one. And it's crucial to real-life. In college, you learn all the things that are important to you. In some cases, you might even have a strong sense ethics. Unless you act out what you know, the information can dry out and render itself useless.
If you wish the world would operate a different way - a better way - practice that method in front of it in a manner is relatable to many, one which they can support. You might just be the catalyst for revolution.
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Earlier last week I was terrified to hear the iPhone 5 announcement. While Apple mentioned the retina display, the longer screen, Siri, it's light weight, and better resolution, no one really cared. People were all in line waiting for the release date to be announced. (By the way if you pre-order, the ship date has been pushed back.) Did you know Apple doesn't like to use the correct smart phone jargon? Their LTE software is being called "Ultrafast Wireless". Wow.
Now, it's not the fact that the iPhone isn't a huge improvement that bugs me. Personally, if you're excited about the new phone, be excited. It's hard to be excited these days, right? But the thing is, why the hell is anyone excited about the release date of a $300 phone? What other product doesn't need to introduce itself or convince consumers that it's worth buying?
Apple reps could have taken the stage and said, "We went back to our roots by making the iPhone the same size and weight as the original iPod, only it has the screen of the second gen. Oh, and the plastic mixed with the glass case smells like shit," and people still would throw their hard-earned money at Apple.
It beats the pinwheel.
To be clear, this isn't Apple-bashing (or is it mashing?). This is just a guy seeing such a wicked end to consumerism. Look, money exists. Even as an idealist, I get it. Money buys things. People with money can buy very nice things. I get it.
But should we beg a company to announce its next "slight" upgrade? Also, are we trusting smart phones too much?
To show you where I stand, I still have an old 3GS because it was $50 around the time my last phone broke. Admittedly, the iPhone is pretty cool, and I use it All.The.Time. For my next phone, I've been thinking of an Android, but the one fear settling at the back of my mind is how many viruses could infiltrate one of those phones. Then again, I don't look at porn on my smart phone, so I should be safe.
And there's my trust as a consumer. As long as I don't do anything wrong, I should be safe with a freakishly expensive phone. As for Apple users, most people will agree they like Apple products for all kinds of bullshitty reasons, especially the fact that Apple cannot be brought down by a virus.
Well, that's actually wrong. According to this Telegraph article, Apple dropped their "virus immunity" claims back in June of 2012. While I attended Ball State University there was a major OS virus break out. Just last April, I major Trojan invasion occurred under the guise of an Adobe Flash Update.
Computer viruses aren't the fear for me here. Apple isn't the only phone I'm talking about; it's the easiest example. When personal computers started to end up in nearly every home in America, there were major hacks. There still are major hacks. Apple or PC, every so often, there's a major cyber attack. My fear is that smart phones are at their peak, and soon they will all be hacked too.
"Here are the scary numbers: Cyberattacks on mobile phones rose by a factor of six this year, according to Intel (INTC, Fortune 500) subsidiary McAfee. Four in 10 mobile users will click an unsafe link on a smartphone this year, according to Lookout Security." - CNN.
With computers, people feel a lot safer knowing they can control the performance of their machine. For instance, to avoid viruses, check out the details of every site, link, or email before you click, download, or open. For me, even if a site is said to be legitimate, I won't click on anything if it looks like a 5th grader made the site with Paint.
However, on mobile sites, what looks legitimate? Every site with a mobile option is usually plain and clean. This makes it easy to click the wrong link. Soon enough, you're phone could be invaded. And let me ask you, how do you update your anti -virus, -spyware, and -malware software manually on your phone?
Perhaps all of this is a little Y2K in nature, but I'd be curious to see if anyone else agrees. I don't suspect people will like this article if they just forked over some big bucks for the 5.
Do You Think We Trust Smart Phones Too Much?
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Admit it. At least once or twice in your life, you've probably put down a book before you finished it. Now I'm not psychic by any means, but my guess is it was a book for school. For a vast majority of you - well, myself included - it was during high school. Don't we all love 19th Century Literature? Of course we do. Do we like a ton of it thrown at us at once with strict completion and examination deadlines? We probably like it a lot less then. So what do you do when you're on a time crunch with a literature assignment? You look online for summaries. What's there to fear? Here's what:
Literary Giants Can Be Trolls Too
At the risk of sounding old, let me say that when I was a kid, we weren't reading contemporary literature in high school. As a matter of fact you born-after-1994 kids, you should thank your previous generations for forcing high schools to offer up a reading list with a modern feel. Or post-modern, if you wanna be a dick about it.
Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Twilight, Crank - These would've never been read in high school during my time. (All right, I'll stop being condescending now.) When I was in high school, we were ravenous for a book printed during the 1990s or 2000s. With that said, sometimes Hemmingway, Hawthorn, Shelley, and the whole gang were a bit tedious to read and test over and over on. Mark Twain wasn't as funny the third time around, and he actually seemed more racist than anything. Sure there were Spark Notes and the like to help students ace through their studies.
Now, of course, we've got Google, Yahoo!, and Bing. You can just search the forums or search your question directly. In most cases, a forum will have the summary of a book and less than intelligent analyses. What you might never expect is a pissed-off writer insulted by a students quest not to read his book.
Although the post has since been deleted, the student originally asked Yahoo! Answers,
"I haven't been able to finish this book. Can someone give me a complete review, including everything important? I REALLY need this! AND it's not because I'm slacking."
The book is The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep and Never Had To. And the author is DC Pierson (who honestly looks fresh out of graduate school), who replied,
Hi! My name's DC Pierson, I wrote the book "The Boy Who Couldn't Sleep And Never Had To." First off, I'm really excited that my book is being suggested for summer reading. On the other hand, I'm bummed out that you don't want to try and finish it, and not even because you think it's bad, but just because it seems like work instead of like fun.
I'm not going to sit here and act like I didn't sometimes not read assigned books for class in high school. Even though it's referenced once in my book, the book you're avoiding reading, I've never actually read "The Scarlet Letter." So I'm sympathetic to your plight. But I think you'll find there's a ton more sex, swearing, and drugs in my book than anything else you have been or will be assigned in high school, and I don't mean in the way your teacher will tell you "You know, Shakespeare has more sex and violence than an R-rated movie!" I mean it's all there, in terms you will readily understand without having to Google them. Plus not once to I refer to anything as a "bare bodkin" or anything like that.
I guess all I'm saying is, of all the books not to read, to beg the Internet to read for you because your library is being remodeled, mine seems like an odd choice. (I recently had to read it aloud for an audiobook edition, and we recorded it in about 10 hours, and I was not reading fast at all. Maybe read it aloud to yourself an hour a night between now and when class starts? Or get together with other kids who have to read it for school and read it to each other? Maybe one of these other kids will be so impressed with your oratory skills you guys will end up making out. That would be pretty cool, right?)
Here, I'll give you an extra hint you'll get to put in your paper if you end up writing it: It was all real. A lot of people have asked me if it was supposed to be real or not, and my feeling is, it was. You won't know what I'm talking about unless you read 'til the end, though. And you might disagree with me on this "it was all real" thing once you get there. Just because I wrote it doesn't make my opinion more valid than yours. Wouldn't it be cool to tell your teacher, "The author says he thinks (it) was real but he's an idiot and I disagree with him and here's why!"
I finished my book. I bet you can, too.
Where They Went Wrong: Student vs. Pierson
Pierson (left) obviously finds time to read between shots.
First off, I think there's a valid shot taken against the student. You should never ask anyone - or the Internet - to do your reading for you. This is a terrible idea, and instead of making your teacher think you didn't read the material, you'll make them think you might need to be held back.
Second, the student does score one on the author. His question was less full of grammatical errors than the author's answer.
Third, the author proposes a strange scenario in which a student might score a little foreplay. The author scores a point for creativity, and the student just scores.
Fourth, the author scores great publicity for answering the question.
Five, both the student and author lose a point for acting on impulse. While going with your gut can often be serendipitous, both participants in this forum lose a point for sounding like high schoolers.
Six, the student scores a point for creative excuses. However, you should never say you're running behind on a book because the school's library is closed when the book is mainstream fiction which can be found ANYWHERE! Let's go with a 1/2 point on this one.
Student - 1 1/2 points
Author - 2
In all seriousness, though, I think an author answering a question like this is beneficial. While at first it seems like trolling or bullying, the author is actual careful with his words and facetious at times. In the long run, however, Pierson provides the student with some comical relief, real-life solutions, a personal challenge, and a slight scolding that might influence him to read books in the future.
If you were in Pierson's shoes, what would you have done?
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The more you learn, the more you obfuscate.
Ever have one of those ha-I-got-you moments with someone of incredible intelligence, only to lose an argument? For instance, someone who is generally right all of the time messes up and you call them out. You point out the flaws in their argument, but then they rationalize their claims to such depths the any other human being would drown in thought. This is just one of the many ways a smart person, who is wrong, can make themselves sound right.
In this recent The New Yorker Post, Daniel Kahneman, a Nobel Laureate and professor of psychology at Princeton, discovered most smart people are actually pretty stupid.
For years, he's been asking very simple questions that require a minute portion of analysis and arithmetic. In the article, they ask:
In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Every day, the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half of the lake?
You're probably tempted to just divide the end of the data in half, which would mean it takes 24 days for the patch to cover the entire lake. However, it's kind of like the doubling-penny scenario they teach you in grade school (if you gave 1 penny on day 1 and 2pennies on day 2, etc). We're talking about doubling each day, which means it would take 47 days for the lily pads to cover half the lake.
In short, the more you know, the more bullshit you can use to take shortcuts. Instead of looking at the facts and doing some basic math, you might try to take a shortcut and then rationalize your answer with everything else you know.
4. In with the new, in with the old.
A study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology concludes that more intelligent people find difficulty in overcoming their biases. It's rather easy for them to point out everyone else's flaws, but mostly because they've made similar mistakes.
If you're the sports-minded type, you've probably had that coach who gave you hell. I know I've had one. It's because they had a shortcoming in their athletic career and it pains them to see the same mistake happening again before their eyes. In essence, they want you to achieve what they couldn't. They feel, if they punish you for mistakes they even made, it will make you the best performer possible.
Unfortunately, with the more intellectually inclined, you're less likely to admit you're correcting someone for their benefit. What happens is smarter people can consume so much information and apply it day after day. If you were to hold a bias while in college, but then you learned how to correct your fallacies, then you're more likely to explore new solutions and drop your bias. In the end, though, you might end up losing your cool with someone making the same mistake. How stupid of them, right?
On the other hand, if there's a certain thought process that's part of your code, it stays there. All the new information you encounter will become ammo for your weapon of justification. In articles related to this study, some suggest this is the very reason people with high IQs favor creationism, but I don't write about religion. You'll have to find these debates and draw conclusions for yourself.
The big idea behind this centers around the idea of biases before your "became smart". If it was at the core of your thinking and personality, you're likely to argue it with far-fetched concepts that you can piece together in a narrative ever so eloquently.
3. The Great Narrator
For this argument, you have to assume someone who is smart is also a great communicator.
The reason an intelligent person can out-argue anyone - even when they're wrong - is because they can take an set of abstract points and string together in such away you'd think they're the best writer, actor, or president ever.
The ability to sound smart, however, does not mean you're always right. You just think you're right.
2. Recognising errors
Fear, focus, and the future. C.M. Humphries talks about writing, horror, and whatever.