Category: books


do the work behind the work

June 14th, 2012 — 8:27pm

“Every book, every volume you see, has a soul. The soul of the person who wrote it and the soul of those who read it and lived and dreamed with it. Every time a book changes hands, every time someone runs his eyes down its pages, its spirit grows and strengthens…” 

-Carlos Ruiz Zafon

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

Hopefully before too long Steven Pressfield’s newest creative manifesto, Turning Pro, will be bound together and sold part and parcel with The War of Art, his original attempt to bind and deliver exactly what it takes to launch a creative endeavor.  In these two works, Pressfield encourages the prospective artist to push through the roadblocks, both real and perceived, that are keeping him from actually producing the Work that he was put here to create.  The most common form these roadblocks take is Resistance, an umbrella term for everything from classic procrastination to the self-doubt that might prevent someone from tacking their artistic calling:

Resistance is the most toxic force on the planet. It is the root of more unhappiness than poverty, disease and erectile dysfunction. To yield to Resistance deforms our spirit. It stunts us and makes us less than we are and were born to be. 

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1 comment » | books, do the work, e-books, muse, Steven Pressfield, The War of Art, turning pro

because we destroyed ourselves

May 25th, 2012 — 11:52am

(read the book free onlineread the Reddit AMA)

As our financial crisis deepens and the schisms between the haves and the have-nots continue to open, American drug laws and the prison system they’ve perpetuated are beginning to gather an increasingly harsh spotlight. But so what. It’s not like the War on Drugs, which started over forty-years ago in 1973, has done anything to increase the growing level of economic disparity in America… right?

A lot happened in 1973.

It was a few years after Nixon slammed the gold window shut, the waning hours of a decapitated Civil Rights movement, and the year we began to disentangle ourselves from Vietnam. But it also marks the genesis of the War on Drugs: the year the Rockefeller Drug Laws were passed. And that same year something funny happened: the income gap between black and white began to widen back out, instead of closing – as it had been up until 1973.

Did the start of the War on Drugs play a significant role in creating our present economic and social realities – where the average black family has eight-cents of wealth for every dollar owned by whites, and a black child is nine-times more likely than a white child to have a parent in prison?

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14 comments » | books, current affairs, domestic terror, news, politics, publishing, racial inequality, terrorism, war on drugs

click click, bang bang

September 15th, 2011 — 3:35pm


(learn more about the book at the “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit)

UPDATE: Another shooting occurred outside Phoenix, AZ at about 10:30pm Friday night, this time the victim died either of his wounds or after the gunshot caused him to crash into the highway median.   It seems notable that this attack also occurred along I-10, the same highway as the earlier incident outside LA.

Last night on the George Washington Parkway, a bullet shattered the back window of an SUV just after midnight.  All the way over on the Left Coast on Interstate 10, at approximately 3am, an unidentified victim was shot through the door of their vehicle and rushed into surgery.

Two isolated incidents on opposite ends of the country does not a big deal make, but given what al-Qaida’s top American spokesman urged prospective terrorists in the U.S. to do back at the start of the summer, they’re still worth noting.

Large, symbolic attacks are no longer necessary – al-Qaida’s mission statement has long-since congealed in the blood of its victims.  There’s little to no reason to carry to carry out large-scale attacks that require time, planning, and risk – especially when the DC Sniper already sketched out such an effective blueprint in the DC metro area almost a decade ago for small-scale attacks then in a way are even more effective than massive one-shot attacks.

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that in early June, al-Qaeda’s American-born spokesman “Adam the American” released a video in fluent English imploring Muslims living in the United States to “buy guns and start shooting people.”  He explains his reasoning further in the video:

Muslims in the West have to remember that they are perfectly placed to play an important and decisive part in the jihad against the Zionists and Crusaders, and to do major damage to the enemies of Islam waging war on their religion, sacred places, and brethren.  This is a golden opportunity…

“The way to show one’s appreciation and thanks for this blessing, is to rush to discharge one’s duty to his [community] and fight on its behalf with everything at his disposal.  And in the West you’ve got a lot at your disposal. Let’s take America as an example, America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms…

So what are you waiting for?

Comment » | books, current affairs, domestic terror, terrorism

it’s hard out here

August 25th, 2011 — 1:33pm

(read the book free online - read the Reddit AMA)

Imagine you live in a small apartment above a bookstore.

Like most bookstores, it has an area set aside for perusing novels and consuming refreshments where you can relax with a alluring and fragrant pile of books stacked in front of you.  The only sounds come from the soft mood music the establishment is piping in and the contented signs of other customers.  You’re free to evaluate each prospective purchase at your own leisure, languidly stroking their pages one-by-one, seeing if this one or that one’s spine has what you’re looking for attached to it.

No one who works there ever comes up and hassles you about hurrying up and buying something already, there’s an implicit pact between client and business – you’re free to lounge for as long as you’d like, but if you want the convenience of taking the book with you, a fee is required.

That’s really all you’re paying, a convenience fee.  Each book sits on the shelf open and waiting, shyly beckoning you with coyly designed covers and promising words – tempting you to pick them up, sit them in your lap, fall in love with them, and pay to take them home. But whether or not payment is rendered, you can still have your way with as many books as you want, regardless of whether or not you pay a single cent.

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8 comments » | books, current affairs, e-books, news, publishing, terrorism, war on drugs

the importance of being anonymous

August 17th, 2011 — 5:25pm


(read the book free online - read the Reddit AMA)

British Prime Minister David Cameron is looking to make like an autocratic Arab dictator, and use the aftermath of the anarchistic violence that just swept across England’s streets as a reason to push through reforms curtailing internet speech and increasing online surveillance.  This follows closely on the heels of the United States passing it’s own bill drastically curtailing internet anonymity, as it forces ISPs to log massive amounts of user data.

The history of the Isles cracking down on the dissemination of dissent goes back at least to 1644, when the English Parliament re-introduced government control of printing and publishers in response to John Milton’s essay arguing  against the Catholic Church’s strictures against divorce.  Milton’s response championed free-speech above all other liberal rights:  “Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely according to conscience, above all liberties.”

But governments across Europe had been actively trying to prevent that for centuries, as at one time or another the roster of banned books included those written by Descartes, Galileo, Hume, Locke, Defoe, Rousseau, and Voltaire.  Limiting and controlling thought is nothing new to governments, and so it was this history of official censorship and censure that in 1776 led Thomas Paine to take an important precaution when he published the argument that caused the call for American independence to fully coalesce.

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6 comments » | books, current affairs, memes, terrorism

innocents and innocence alike

August 13th, 2011 — 12:52pm

(read the book free online - get a copy for your Kindle - read the Reddit AMA)

In one of The Dark Knight‘s pivotal scenes, Alfred descends into a strictly ordered and starkly lit Batcave as Bruce Wayne is doggedly patching himself up. After helping his employer with some stitching, Alfred realizes that Master Bruce doesn’t fully comprehend the dystopian miasma of violence that the Joker has brought upon Gotham City:

Alfred: A long time ago, I was in Burma, my friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never found anyone who traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away.

Bruce Wayne: Then why steal them?

Alfred: Because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren’t looking for anything logical, like money. They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

It’s a fantastic scene from a cinematic standpoint, but a problem occurs when you pull the Joker out of the movie as one crazy-ass allegory for chaos and death. And especially when you make the leap of trying to fit terrorism into the framework provided by the Joker, to use the the Joker as a rubric for terrorism.

No one better proves this than the Ft. Hood shooter, Nidal Malik Hasan.

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Comment » | books, counterinsurgency, Current Events, domestic terror, islam, news, politics, terrorism

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