I always stumble across these reading challenges online – where the participants pretend to read a book every week for a year, or sometimes they go even further and count each unruffled page – and it always makes me wonder how much an honest reader actually reads. Because no morally decent person counts the words as he reads them, nor does he boast about the number of pages greased up by his fingers, nor does he remember reading half of the books that he’s read. That leaves us in a bit of a conundrum if we want to know how much a real person reads: the counters are depraved liars and the readers can’t be bothered to count.
That’s why, in 2019, I decided to write down the name of each book as I finished it. I had no special ambition, no one to impress, no reason to do it beyond mild curiosity. And this is the unassuming pile of books I ended up with:
The answer to the riddle? 23 books. That’s one book short of two books per month. A respectably boring answer. But since I’ve come this far I might as well go just a bit farther. Let’s see how many pages have my finger grease on them:
- Something Wicked This Way Comes (Bradbury) – 293
- Infidel (Ali) – 350
- 2001: A Space Odyssey (Clarke) – 297
- The Rationalists (Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz) – 471
- Mythology (Hamilton) – 336
- Neuromancer (Gibson) – 271
- Candide (Voltaire) – 146
- In Our Time (Hemingway) – 156
- Le Morte d’Arthur (Malory) – 512
- Guns, Germs, and Steel (Diamond) – 490
- The Oresteia (Aeschylus) – 330
- We Have Always Lived in the Castle (Jackson) – 146
- The Histories (Herodotus) – 584
- The Iliad (Homer) – 683
- Foundation (Asimov) – 296
- Gulag Archipelago Parts 1 and 2 (Solzhenitsyn) – 660
- Stalingrad (Beevor) – 493
- Robot Visions (Asimov) – 482
- Foundation and Empire (Asimov) – 282
- Fear and Trembling (Kierkegaard) – 165
- The Time Machine (Wells) – 118
- Childhood’s End (Clarke) – 212
- The Empiricists (Locke, Berkeley, Hume) – 517
- = 8,290 pages
As a real person I read 8,290 pages in 2019, which comes out to 22 pages per day. That sounds about right. If you figure an average of 400 words per page and an average reading speed of 200 words per minute (both numbers grabbed from a quick google search) you end up reading about a ½ page per minute. So in 2019 I spent 16,580 minutes, or 276 hours, with my nose in a book. That’s 11 full days, or about 34 8-hour shifts. It sounds like a lot, but spread out over the whole year it only amounts to 44 minutes per day – a relatively sane number.
As for the contents of those pages, that involves a more advanced calculus and I don’t really feel like going into it. Infidel was pretty good, though.
“Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil” – that’s my favorite thing in the Bible. The verse is Exodus 23:2 if you want to look it up. I always thought the Commandments would have been better if they included that one, instead of railing on about god and Saturday. But what I really want to talk about is my least favorite thing in the Bible. All the way in the back of the book Mathew says – “Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents. For unto everyone that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.” That’s a mouthful for us in the new century but the meaning is easy: Poor people have holes in their pockets and rich people have funnels in their gullets. Continue reading “People Should Have More Than Zero Talents”
Intro to Part 2
Link to Part 1
On the formatting: I hope the screenplay sections are readable. I realize that they’re formatted a little strangely – I did what I could with the limited tools available. I still can’t figure out how to indent the first line of a paragraph, so it’s a bit miraculous if I managed to cobble together some legible script writing.
On the epithets: There are some racial slurs in the text. I don’t use them flippantly or gratuitously. I’m confident that the character who makes use of them is absolved in the end.
On the story itself: This is either the dumbest or the smartest story I ever wrote. Part of me wants to write twenty more Xenomatra stories, follow her into adolescence as she grapples with her identity, into adulthood as she thrashes in the moral quicksand of social justice. The other part of me wants to burn the little bit that I’ve already written. What I know for sure is that nobody will publish any of it.
Anyway, here’s the second part of Xenomatra – Social Justice Warrior Continue reading “Xenomatra – Part 2 [short story]”
A Brief Intro:
Here’s another story that will never have a home. This one had its genesis in the very simple, completely juvenile observation that the Greek goddess of ‘social justice’ is a dyke. Never mind that her name is spelled D-I-K-E and is pronounced differently (it rhymes with Nike) – it was close enough to the mark that I had myself a chuckle at the expense of wokeness.
It ought to have ended there, with the ‘heh’ I probably muttered under my breath. But for some reason a mythic origin story for the Social Justice Warrior began to appeal to me. I wondered what would happen if I set aside my antipathies and chased a certain kind of narrative logic to its unbiased conclusion. Xenomatra is the unexpected result. I’m posting it in two parts because a) it’s rather long, and b) formatting this particular story for the blog has been a nightmare. Part 2 is still under the knife.
So here is Part One of Xenomatra — the original SJW. Continue reading “Xenomatra – Part 1 [short story]”
People never ask me about the Bill of Rights. I consider this an unfortunate state of affairs because I have developed several cogent remarks that concern this subject. Lacking a proper audience I pollute the Internet. Continue reading “Bill of Rights Redux”
The gates of Psycho Pasture opened after Jim ate the banana, and the whole host of pedophiles was unleashed upon the grand plane of paradise. There were some like Jim and the King, who had suffered innocently in the unlucky crossfire between the devil’s conceit and humanity’s prejudice – but most were pale and greasy and thoroughly guilty. Tens of thousands of child-raping men and women stepped out into the light and were bewildered by it. Continue reading “Escape from Psycho Pasture – Part 3 [Jim #19, Short Fiction]”
For two years Jim occupied a dungeon cell at Psycho Pasture. His leg was chained to a radiator, he used a stamping machine to make customized license plates for the non-rapist free peoples of paradise, and his cell mate was a pale and greasy man with thin hair and skin disease. Garvey was remorseless about his pedophilia, and Jim often tried to convince Garvey that he ought to feel bad about raping children.
“I mean, at the very least you know that you’re an asshole, right?” Jim said on several occasions. “All other considerations aside, all arguments out the window, in the absence of God and absolute moral authority – you still know in your heart that you’re asshole.” Continue reading “Escape from Psycho Pasture – Part 2 [Jim #18, Short Fiction] #18”
The Psycho Rapist Pasture wasn’t really a pasture. It was more like a circular prison that never came around all the way, and in the middle there was an off-limits garden. Jim figured calling it a pasture was some kind of euphemism.
“And if you’ll look over here,” said the chipper tour guide, “you’ll see the Masochist Chambers, where psychotics can torture, bind, mutilate, and rape a few lucky visitors. The facility is equipped with every known torture machine devised by man, dating all the way back to the bronze age – and a few that the angels cooked up themselves.” Continue reading “Escape from Psycho Pasture – Part 1 [Jim #17, Short Fiction]”
Hey guys, not sure if there’s any of you still out there. Haven’t posted in a while. But that short film based on my Jim stories is finally available online. Here it is in all of it’s irreverent glory: (password is 1truthroad)
Thanks to everyone involved for a wild ride, and especially to you if you’re reading this. If you’re one of the 8 billion people that hasn’t checked out the illustrated novel yet, it’s free for a couple of days:
Keep the indies alive!
Abdulaziz al-Omari stood on the corner of a busy intersection in Downtown Paradise. He rang a bell and wore a cardboard sign that said, 911 was an inside job. He looked weathered.
Jim watched him from the veranda of the ice cream shop, spooning sundae into his mouth. The terrorist didn’t wear much for an expression – maybe it was sober and kind of defeated – and he just rang his bell with long steady swings of his arm. Every now and again a passerby dropped a nickel in his tin can. Continue reading “A Mile High in Paradise [Jim #16, Short Fiction]”