Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Catholic Geek: Hugo Award Nominee, Brian Neimeier 07/24

Hugo Award Nominee (John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer), Brian Neimeier, joins us to discuss his books, and perhaps discussing his experience with the Hugo Awards. We'll also get to talk about his radio program, Geek Gab, with the great and powerful Daddy Warpig.

Brian Niemeier is a nominee for the 2016 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer for Nethereal. He chose to pursue a writing career despite formal training in history and theology. His journey toward publication began at the behest of his long-suffering gaming group, who tactfully pointed out that he seemed to enjoy telling stories more than planning and adjudicating games. He has also published the sequel to Nethereal, Souldancer.

Friday, July 22, 2016

#SDCC Update on Marvel's Defenders, and Movie night: Pursuit to Algiers

Sand Diego Comic Con is up, and Marvel is showing off all of their new shows as they build up to The Defenders. I have the full article here, at the Catholic Geeks, along with my analysis of where they could be going.

But, for today's viewing pleasure, I give you Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in Pursuit to Algiers (1945)

Yes, I know I'm using these a lot, but I'm told people enjoy them, and it's hard finding whole films on YouTube.

By the way, please remember that MONDAY IS THE LAST DAY TO VOTE FOR THE DRAGON AWARDS.  Thank you. And, honestly, if you haven't voted for the Dragon Award nominees yet, why not? Clear here to nominate, or click here for my suggested nominees.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Music Blog: What Lies Below

How's this for whiplash? :)

By the way, please remember that MONDAY IS THE LAST DAY TO VOTE FOR THE DRAGON AWARDS.  Thank you.

And, honestly, if you haven't voted for the Dragon Award nominees yet, why not? Clear here to nominate, or click here for my suggested nominees.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Top Ten Radio Shows of The Catholic Geek

My metrics are back on Blog Talk Radio. I can finally say what was the most listened to podcasts of all time! Yay!

Since the #900 blog just came up, I figure it's time to look back over my 47 episodes (yes, I've taken one vacation too many) and find out what the top episodes are.

My highest rated show is .... John C. Wright on Somewhither. Are we at all remotely surprised?

Second highest? Tom Knighton on SP4.

Third? Synods and Starships with Matthew Bowman doing the show.

Fourth -- shocker -- the first appearance of Mr. and Mrs Wright.

Followed shortly thereafter by .... John C. Wright on Iron Chamber of Memory

Maybe I should just give them the radio show. Hmm....

Next up is Marina Fontaine's appearance, talking about her book Chasing Freedom.  Followed by Kia Heavey's Animal Farm with Cats.

Number eight is ... a show that never was. My guest didn't come on, and I flew solo the whole way. 206 listeners.

Number 9 is ... my Superbowl edition, where I also monologued. Huh. Maybe I should do that more often.  186 hits.

Number 10? Honor at Stake and Sad Puppies Bite Back.  Yeah. I don't get it. My bottom three from the top ten list is just me showing up to the show and talking. Hell, this one was all about reading from my work. I think I prerecorded this one. This is the lowest listener count at 182 listeners.

Not bad for someone who's only been on a whole year, huh?

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

900 Posts later

Yup, it's blog number 900. Who knew I would last this long?

One of the things I do at this point is to note all of the top ten blogs of all time.

Though of course, first, I'm going to remind everyone that the Dragon Awards are still out there, and they're they still need voting on. So, get to it. Click here, and have fun.  If you need some suggestions, I have some for you right here.

Now, as far as the top ten biggest blogs of all time are concerned....

1. Who would Captain America vote for? An election special.

From the 2012 election, I think this one was carried more by Alex Ross art than anything else. But it's still going strong as the #1 blog of all time.

This was fun. I was just going over the top and insane.

But here, Captain America punching Hitler in the face.

Can we have one of Captain America punching Osama in the face?

From April of last year. Leaped to the #2 spot immediately.

If you have no idea what SPBB is ... click the Sad Puppy Tab above. It is a really, really, really long flipping story. It was a one-shot that spiraled so far out of control, I really don't see the end of it. But people are still coming to the blog just to read them.  I may be doing a little more with this along the way.

How?  Heh heh heh.

Yup, it's still in the #3 spot. Right after the dawn of DC's New 52 Universes in 2011, the comics had gone into a sideways spiral of strange. 

Catwoman screwing Batman on a roof? Check. 

Starfire becoming an amnesiac slut? Check .... except that they're not even that clear, and backtracked, rewrote, and I'm not even sure that DC Comics know what the hell they were doing then. 

I think this the popularity of this had something to do with sex being in the title. You don't even want to see what the search terms look like.

From 2010, I ripped apart with every stupid decision that Marvel comics had made for the previous 5 years.  Sadly, some of those decisions are still going strong. But it's hard to figure out which ones. 

Except for One More Day. F**k that, and them, and Joe Quesada.

I think I have to do this again. Because, well, Captain America as Hydra. Gah.

Seriously, Marvel, stop it.

5. Sad Puppies Bite Back (Part 2)

This is where things started going really odd. And I probably should have seen it coming that things were going to really go sideways ... "sideways" as in "The Puppies have taken over my blog."  I think part one got suggestions of nominating this for a "Best related" award from the Hugos. 

I would have enjoyed watching the Puppy Kickers go insane. But we can't have everything. 

Oh well. Heh. 

From Apr of 2015, this was after Entertainment Weekly's libelous article about Sad Puppies, written and published without talking to anyone within Sad Puppies. At all. Yes, really.

Believe it or not, in retrospect, this was not what got me really into the Sad Puppies bandwagon. That was when someone decided to go after Brad Torgersen's wife. Then, then I had a meltdown, and decided someone needed a stern talking to.

From this June, 2016. This is a month old. Heck, in the course of a week, this shot up. This is what happens with the use of hashtags.

I'm still blown away that, well, this was a political post. I don't do politics here. I tend to avoid them. I'm surprised anyone bothered.

And all I did was round up arguments I've seen others make online. 

Funny thing? The douchebags whining in the comments are pretty much invalidated by the existence of the truck attack last week in Nice, France.

Shocking, huh?

This one hit the top ten most popular posts on the blog within 24 hours of being posted.

This is what happens when authors like your reviews.

Who knew?

9. Puppies Come to WorldCon (SPBB III)

Still here from last year. This was going to be The End. Period. Dot. Final. The last straw. The Puppies were going to come to the Hugos, and it would have to end there. Why? Because there would be nothing left for me to write until the Hugos came out. It was a perfect out, right? Right?

Yes. And that worked well.

This is from April. The entire problem of waif-fu: where tiny little girls beat up 6'5" men. No. That doesn't work. Period.

How did this make it to the top ten? Was it that good? Maybe.

It made it to Castalia House's "radar sweep" -- they liked it enough to put it up on a roundup.

Next time, let's not have tiny little girls beating up on guys about the size of Larry Correia, huh?

Looking over this list, I've come to the conclusion ... that I should probably make this blog all about sex, Sad Puppies, politics, book reviews, and comic books.  But then, I reach that conclusion every few hundred posts or so.  We'll see about doing that sometime next time around.

Sadly, I'm all out of Puppy material. Oh well. Maybe something will blow up next week.

Dragon Award Countdown -- One Week

Yes, there's only a week left to vote in the Dragon Awards. Yes, I know this is a Tuesday blog, and the voting needs to be in on Monday. But you can vote Monday, too, honest.

Vote here to nominate.

And if you don't believe me, the voting has to be in by 11:59 PM EST, Monday, July 25.

And yet ... I have no idea what else there is left to say.

I've made suggestions of what to vote for.

I've made suggestions on how to vote for Honor at Stake after Larry Correia suggested to his fans that they vote.

There is also the CLFA book bomb still kicking around there -- and yes, it's a two day event.

I'm not going to belabor the point. If you haven't voted for the Dragons, good luck, have fun, enjoy the voting.

And, you might want to check out the CLFA book bomb. They've got a few good books here.

If you haven't figured it out, I'm really tired, and still sick.

Here, have a photo of Batwoman by Alex Ross. Because it looks shiny.

Monday, July 18, 2016

CLFA Book Bomb

"The Conservative Libertarian Fiction Alliance is happy to announce that we will now be featuring book bombs, where we focus attention on lesser-known fiction authors who deserve to be better known. For the next two days (Monday, July 18 and Tuesday, July 19), please consider purchasing one or more of the books on this list. (Come on … You know you need a couple good reads for your vacation!) If your friend asks for a good book recommendation, send them a link to this page. If you think pop culture should better represent the voices of conservatives and libertarians, please help spread the word."

Yes, I'm on the list.

Yes, so are authors that I've reviewed before.

So are one or two books I've reviewed before.

Take a look, I think you'll enjoy some of these. Especially the first few. Enjoy.

1. The Notice by Daniella Bova

2. Honor at Stake by Declan Finn
"One's a bloodthirsty monster, the other is a vampire. Welcome to New York City, where Vampires Burn."

3. Chasing Freedom, by Marina Fontaine
"Geeks and outcasts fight an oppressive regime in near-future America."

4. Iron Chamber of Memory, by John C. Wright
"On an island time has forgotten, a man remembers a lost love, a lost soul, and an eternal evil."

5.The Unexpected Enlightenment of Rachel Griffin, by L. Jagi Lamplighter Wright
"Fringe meets Narnia at Hogwarts"

6. Her Brother's Keeper by Michael Kupari

7. By the Hands of Men, Book One: The Old World by Roy Madison Griffis

8. The Gods Defense (Laws of Magic Book 1) by Amie Gibbons
"In a world where the gods and magic have returned, enforcing justice just got a lot more hazardous!"

9. Portals of Infinity: Kaiju by John Van Stry

10. Beyond the Mist (The Chara Series Book 1) by Ben Zwycky

11. Echo of the High Kings by Jacob Spriggs
"In a world of vengeful spirits and dark gods, a handful stand against the darkness."

12. On Different Strings: A Musical Romance, by Nitay Arbel
"Penniless Texan guitar goddess teaches British engineering professor. Hearts start beating in harmony. The world has other ideas."

13. Fight for Liberty, by Theresa Linden

14. Van Ripplewink: You Can't Go Home Again, by Paul Clayton

15. Amy Lynn: Lady of Castle Dunn, by Jack July

16. The Worst President in History: The Legacy of Barack Obama, Matt Margolis

17. The Devil's Dictum by Frederick Heimbach

18. The Good Fight, by Justin Justin T Robinson

19. The Violet Crow by Michael Sheldon

How to Write People of Faith when you're an Atheist

The Injustice Gamer saw a tweet of my post "Fisking "How to Write Protagonists of Colour When You're White," and suggested, well, this topic.  At first I thought of how to reduce my brain to that of a "standard" atheist -- well, the public face of one, like an insult-spewing twat like Dawkins, or a snide, sneering Brit like Hitchens. And I figured it wasn't worth it. One of the reasons I am religious is that it's quite obvious to me that there must be a Deity out there (it's called the law of Causality, people, come now), and anything short of the Judeo-Christian God is just too damn small. Any argument I've seen by Hawkins et al to circumvent the existence of God to create the universe just sounds like bat Star Trek fan fiction (Temporal loops? Multiverses? Really, Steve? Really?). To pretend to be so closed minded so as to completely exclude the possibility is beyond my ability.

And, no, for the record, I have never completely excluded the possibility that there isn't a God. It's just that every time I've chewed over that concept, it really turns out to be inedible.

Now, obviously, the presentation of atheists as seen above is unfair. What is above is truly more representative of a species known as the "anti-theist." Not only do they not believe in God, they believe that those who do believe are dangerous. The Oslo bomber who used "Christianity" to mean "Western Culture," and thought that religion was for the weak? Yeah, one of them. I expected him to cry out "Dawkins-hu akbar."

I have found reasonable, truly libertarian atheists to be closer to agnostics -- "I don't care what you believe, can we go on?" I count some of those folks as friends.

But anyway, for those of the anti-theist persuasion who have no idea what a religious person believes, or how they think, let me enlighten you.

Step 1: Unlearn What You Have Learned

Remember the film Inherit the Wind? That was a fictionalized version of the Scopes Monkey Trial? It's usually what anti-theists like to hold up when they like to say that Religious folk are anti-evolution. After all, they put someone on trial for evolution!

Total bullcrap. Any connection between that and reality is purely miraculous. Besides, the textbooks Scopes was using in real life also had some wonderful thoughts on eugenics. I wouldn't try defending those, were I you.

In the long run, take all those generalizations and just forget them. You might want to brace yourself.

This includes obligatory Psycho Preacher #55, Deranged Pederast #09, and of course, foaming at the mouth nut job #69.

Other cliche?

  • Don't make them see miracles everywhere. Read Chesterton's Father Brown mysteries for a model of the theistic skeptic. Or, read The Exorcist and how many tests are required for an exorcism to happen.
  • Don't make them see symbols in everything. Sometimes toast is just toast. 
  • The religious person isn't constantly talking about JESUS!!! or IT'S THE DEVIL!!! 
  • Know the precepts of the denomination or religion you're writing about. A Catholic thinks he's eating Christ; a Baptist thinks he's eating bread.
Step 2: Not Everything Is About Evolution

I don't know what the anti-theist obsession is with evolution. Last time I checked, it was still called "the theory of," not the "certifiable fact of" evolution. Doesn't matter. I'm relatively certain it's right, or near right enough, for the purposes of general scientific inquiry.

But by God, the few anti-theists I've interacted with have a hard on for Darwin, and Lord knows why. One friend of mine insisted that he had hope for me because I believed in evolution, and it was a short trip from there to being a good atheist.

Except here's the thing: The Catholic Church has declared that evolution is not antithetical to Church teaching since the 1920s. Even Pope Pius XII said nice things about it. So did Pope Francis most recently. So, using that same criteria, the Popes of the last 100 years have been close to embracing atheism, because they, too, either believed in evolution, or saw nothing threatening in it.

Here's the thing, atheists, for Christians who believe in evolution, it is merely the mechanics by which God has created the Earth. That's it. Pretty much the same for the big bang. For an eternal being (ie: one that is outside of time) "a day" can be a really, really long time. Which leads into...

Step 3: Not Everyone is a Literalist

Chesterton once noted that there were people out there who spend so much time arguing over the historicity of Adam and Eve that they miss the entire point of the story, which is Original Sin.

My point? It is the same as Cardinal Bellarmine when he said that the Bible tells us how to go to Heaven, not how the Heavens go. Which is a line I think he stole from Augustine a thousand years before him. I could be mistaken.


Thank you.

Come to think of it, the Catholic Church, I believe, has long ago decreed that literalism is a heresy.

What's literalism, you ask? I'll try to explain. A literalist reading of Scripture is one usually found among fundamentalists. EG: the Bible says the world was created in six days, therefore, it was created in 144 hours. Also, eg, if the Bible says  humans were present at the very beginning of Creation, humans coexisted with dinosaurs.

See also Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Fides et Ratio, using the First Vatican Council's Dei Filius:
Even if faith is superior to reason there can never be a true divergence between faith and reason, since the same God who reveals the mysteries and bestows the gift of faith has also placed in the human spirit the light of reason. This God could not deny himself, nor could the truth ever contradict the truth.
Just because we believe something is true and real doesn't necessarily mean that we believe that it's a minute by minute account.

Which leads to...

Step 4: Christians are Not All The Same.

Looking at some anti-theists, you would swear that every Christian worships under a large tent and handles venomous snakes every Sunday. We have no philosophy, philosophers, no body of real thought, nor believe in the mechanics of the general universe.

It sure is confusing when you recall that Gregor Mendel, who discovered heredity, was a Catholic monk who founded modern genetics. Or that half the craters on the moon are named after the Jesuits who founded them. Or all of the Catholic scientist priests, listed in alphabetical order.

So, a word to the wise, if you say that, for example, Catholics don't do science, check the above list, and then remember we have a blessing for a seismograph.

And I know we started with not all Christians are the same, but not even all religious people are the same.

If you want to bitch that all religious people are uneducated, please look at the history of Jewish intellectuals. Then lock yourself in a room with Simon Schama so he can snark you to death.

In fact, every time you even start to think, "Well, all religious people believe...." just stop. Why? Because, unless the thought is "all religious people believe in something more powerful than themselves, and there is a proper way to worship It," then you're probably wrong.

There is a heavy theme of monotheism kicking around -- there were / are some strains of thought among Greek / Indian believers that the pantheon merely represented many faces of one Being. But even that isn't even consistently represented within Greek and Indian theology.

Yes, while we're at it, please recall that Christianity isn't the only game in town. Because, let's face it, by anti-theists having their attitudes against belief, they also include everyone from Jews to Druids, they just seem to like to pretend that everyone is an evangelical Christian and ignore the rest, or assume the rest will follow if that one falls. Sorry, not happening.

Step 5: Belief Isn't Irrational

Seriously, if you're just going to assume that any believer isn't rational, I suggest you look up Maimonides. Or Thomas Aquinas. Or Heisenberg. Or Pasteur. What do all these philosophers and scientists have in common? They all believe.

Heck, remember the Big Bang? Starting point of the universe? I wonder if Stephen Hawking is so against the idea because it suggests a starting point to the universe, and thus a "who started it" question, but it was also proposed by a Catholic priest scientist. Again.

Step 6: Sex. Religious People have it

Fun fact, if you're new here, a lot of religions encourage sex. Catholic marriage is a contract to have sex.

In fact, studies show that not only do religious folk have more sex within marriage than other people, they enjoy it more. Funny that, isn't it?

Let's just expand it to religious people are also human.

Step 7: Do Your Research

So, how do you write a believable believer? Simple, JUST DO YOUR DAMN RESEARCH. Seriously, if you want Catholic theology, read Thomas Aquinas or his imitators, like Chesterton or Peter Kreeft.

Hell, if you want basic Christianity, CS Lewis' Mere Christianity is a good primer before you research a specific subsection of a belief system.

Ditch your preconceived notions, your stereotypes, and pretend for a few minutes that a believer might not be a horrid human being. Thank you.

Suggested Reading.

Michael Z. Williamson's A Long Time Until Now has an atheist writing a believer. Try it. Take notes. Also, Babylon 5, Passing Through Gethsemane. by a former Catholic, now atheist. 

Sunday, July 17, 2016

The Catholic Geek: On Gaming with Daddy Warpig

The Catholic Geek: On Gaming with Daddy Warpig 07/17 by We Built That Network | Video Games Podcasts:

At 7:30 pm, EST, on this Sunday, the 17th,  Jasyn Jones, the great and powerful Daddy Warpig of Geek Gab, will be joining Declan Finn for a rousing conversation on gaming. Along the way, we'll probably have some conversations on GamerGate, the state of gaming in general, possibly movies, and whatever else strikes our fancy. Expect hilarity to ensue.