Poking Catholic Doctrine Again

In the comment thread to a Vox Day post entitled Sabatoging Marriage, a Catholic husband came to the Dread Ilk requesting advice for handling a sex drought excused by his wife’s fear of becoming pregnant again – having gone through three C-sections, the sympathy of the female Ilk is with her, although her fear interfering with her love life with her husband is, shall we say, An Issue.

I was going to refrain from commenting at first, because as a Protestant I don’t agree with the Catholic teaching that contraception is illicit. This may well be self-serving rationalization on my part, but lacking a straightforward “Thou shalt have as many children with thy spouse as thou possibly canst” anywhere in the Bible, I’m still waiting to be convinced by a shiny argument that the Catholic position is the right one.

Like many issues on which I admire Catholic thought – author John C. Wright’s reasoning for why he joined the RCC is quite moving – I find a serious problem with both the axiom and the practice.

For instance, commenter cailcorishev was gracious enough to sum up his understanding of the Catholic allowance of NFP as a contraceptive method. The practical reasoning – that Natural Family Planning is a real sacrifice and therefore people will be less likely to abuse it than the far more convenient artificial means of contraception – is one that I will easily grant. However, I don’t consider a utilitarian argument such as this one to be authoritative – shall we ban guns, ICBMs, and tanks because it is easier to murder people with modern weapons than with knives, swords, and chariots? Obviously not. A technological advance which makes sin easier and more tempting does not automatically make that advance illicit; otherwise the Vatican would be condemning high-fructose corn syrup and instituting kosher-like laws against processed food, and following Bloomburg down the path of banning Big Gulps on the grounds that all sugary sodas constitute gluttony, since they have no nutritional value whatsoever and exist solely to serve immoderate indulgence in the pleasures of taste.

(Dang, I may well have just convinced myself that sodas are sinful. And I really like soda. Shoot. The point against junk food in general still stands though, since other forms of processed food do possess small smidges of actual nutritive value.)

The trouble I’m having is with what I perceive as the Catholic’s insistence on eating the cake and having it, too. If limiting one’s fertility is sinful, then Natural Family Planning is sinful as well. If limiting one’s fertility while still deliberately engaging in non-fertile sexual acts is not sinful – even if that non-sinful area is dramatically limited to situations like “If your wife gets pregnant again, she will die, and the baby too” – then one must make a special argument that deliberately abstaining from fertile sex and engaging as much as one sees fit in infertile sex is different than merely ensuring that all one’s sexual intercourse is infertile.

This is what Catholics try to do – and the piece that commenter Al linked is one such example. Now, I do see the difference, logically, between the PIV one has when one just so happens to be infertile, and the PIV one has when one is using artificial means to ensure that one is infertile. There is absolutely a logical difference there. The problem is, I don’t see that using artificial means, such as hormonal contraceptives, to ensure that one’s sex is infertile is morally any different than using deliberately heightened sensitivity to your own cycle in order to ensure that all the sex that you have is infertile. Ha ha ha, but no, you do not get to classify NFP “properly implemented” as “not really contraception.” Unless you’re defining “proper implementation” as “only used when a couple is trying really hard to get pregnant,” in which case the comment was totally beside the point, since the point was about using NFP as a form of contraception!

The argument appears to boil down to a desperate search for ex-post-facto reasoning why NFP is morally licit and the more reliable, non-abortifacient artificial contraceptive methods aren’t, so that Catholics have an “out” to offer to people who really do need to limit their fertility while still condemning the technological advance that’s wreaked such havoc on humanity.

Given the existence of the “out” as licit, then – which is the situation we are dealing with – what forms of contraception best meet the Biblical purposes of marriage? Well, procreation is automatically out, so our reasoning cannot be based on that, since we’re now in the realm of the morality of sex that is deliberately chosen to be non-procreative. The Catholics have already granted that it is licit for a married couple to have sexual relations when they know that no offspring will result; in fact, the piece Al linked me to, also linked above, says that it is the duty of married spouses to have sexual intercourse when one or the other lusts for it, irrespective of the fertility of the act.

St Augustine indeed didn’t write explicitly of any other motive than mere sensuality in seeking intercourse where procreation isn’t aimed at. What he says doesn’t exclude the possibility of a different motive. There’s the germ of an account of the motive called by theologians “rendering the marriage debt” in his observation that married people owe to one another a kind of mutual service. Aquinas made two contributions, the first of which concerns this point: he makes the remark that a man ought to pay the marriage debt if he can see his wife wants it without her having to ask him. And he ought to notice if she does want it. This is an apt gloss on Augustine’s “mutual service”, and it destroys the basis for the picture which some have had of intercourse not for the sake of children as necessarily a little bit sinful on one side, since one must be “demanding”, and not for any worthy motive but purely “out of desire for pleasure”. One could hardly say that being diagnosable as wanting intercourse was a sin!

This passage absolutely agrees with my own understanding of the issue: just like taking pleasure from eating is not a sin, but gluttony is a sin, the pleasures of the body are naturally good but can be elevated to an unhealthy, sinful obsession. As John C. Wright has written, even pagan stoics recognize that pleasures that slake desire are licit, but pleasures that do not satisfy and lead to ever more appetite (as in addictions) are not licit. (I await the news that the Vatican has banned Pringles.)

Now, in historical times when “contraception” amounted to either abstinence or abortion, Natural Family Planning is absolutely the only moral choice for the couple who must not become pregnant because of a grave situation. It’s not ideal, because “ideal” would be the husband and wife screwing like rabbits during the woman’s most fertile times, when she naturally feels the burn of lust most keenly. But abstaining from sex at the price of denying the wife her marital right is far better than killing one’s children. Now, however, modern technology has offered us reliable, non-abortifacient means of upholding the marriage duty for the husband, even in their grave necessity to avoid pregnancy! No longer must the wife endure a twice-damaged marriage, in which she must uphold her end of the bargain to slake her husband’s lust, while becoming celibate as a nun when her lust burns hottest in order to remain barren. The marriage contract, which was previously un-ideal on two counts (barrenness by necessity, and failure of the husband to provide his marital duties to his wife during her most desperate time of need, also, remember in this instance, by necessity) can now be partially repaired by rendering their sexual intercourse infertile at need.

And then the Catholic church comes along and points out that this causes some serious social problems and vastly increased temptation to sin – which it absolutely does! – and comes up with some contorted reasoning about how deliberately engaging in only infertile intercourse and deliberately not engaging in intercourse when it’s the woman’s turn to benefit from her husband’s marital duties is totally A-OK whereas using those yucky artificial contraceptives makes having sex when you otherwise would have been fertile totally a sin.

Yeah, I’m not buying that. Once, it was a necessity to endure the deaths of many children, but then antibiotics were invented, and many children lived who otherwise wouldn’t have! This also caused social upheaval, but nobody except for extreme cultists labels antibiotics as immoral because of contorted reasoning about God being in command of life and death. We buckle our seatbelts, too, and I dunno about you, but I regularly wear a helmet when I’m biking, and nobody argues that this constitutes a different kind of transportation act, even though they could. Similarly, once it was necessary for a woman to sacrifice one of the key pillars of marriage – having sex when she burns for it! – if she were in a grave situation that made pregnancy something to be avoided at all costs. That might have meant years of intermittent celibacy, not for the proper Biblical purpose of devoting that time to prayer as a form of fasting, but for the preservation of her own life due to the flaws of the cursed creation.

If a prudential means of allowing the couple to engage in sexual intercourse when they burn for it – which is explicitly stated in the Bible as the reason to get married at all! - is invented that allows couples who would have otherwise been forced to mutilate their marriage by abstaining during the woman’s ovulation, then this means should be welcomed as a way of strengthening marriages already negatively affected by the need to avoid pregnancy. The fact that these convenient means make fornication and adultery more attractive (by lessening their risks) no more justifies the invention of reasons to ban them than declaring food processing inherently immoral is justified because processed food makes gluttony easier and more tempting. It means that those technological advances are dangerous, just like the inventions of the modern world made murder on a mass scale in Communist countries possible. Guns are not immoral because murderers use them, and banning them just means that criminals will use other means at their disposal to commit murder. So it is with contraceptive methods – they indeed ought to be far more tightly regulated, as guns are, because they have proven themselves immensely dangerous. That doesn’t mean that they don’t have their moral uses, or that their existence somehow endangers the moral strength of the Biblical command to eschew extra-marital sex.

If you want to be consistent about it, you have to be consistent, not come up with a “logical reason” why it’s okay to gut the entire reason for a woman to marry as soon as there are more options than “abortion” or “celibacy”. Oh, yes, the whole raising-kids thing is important, but the sex comes first. Obviously.

I mean, I could construct an equally logical argument about how killing someone by hiring someone else to off the victim from afar with a sniper rifle is a different kind of murder than bludgeoning my victim to death personally with a big stick, but it would be totally beside the point! The question here is this: is having a sex life with your spouse when you are deliberately trying to not have children sinful, or not? If there are any circumstances in which it is licit for a husband and wife to engage in sexual relations with each other, while simultaneously having the express purpose of ensuring, either through the rhythm method or “artificial” means, that the intercourse is infertile, then I really don’t think that God Himself cares which means you are using. And if the artificial means gives you the option of upholding the purpose of marriage itself, while NFP essentially spits in the face of marriage and God’s design of women’s sexuality.

Lawyerly weaseling around the “kind” of sexual intercourse never addresses this key point: marriage exists so that you can have licit sex when you burn. This is true even if you (or your spouse) are barren. NFP refuses the wife licit sex when she burns. Therefore unless the situation is very grave indeed, all other options should be explored before a husband and wife agree that periodic celibacy is the method they will use to avoid pregnancy. If it is illicit to use contraceptives because contraception as a motive is sinful, then deliberately avoiding having sex when the wife experiences high libido due to ovulation is absolutely as sinful as the frigid wife who refuses to fulfill her marital obligation to her husband when he burns.

Artificial contraceptives’ existence just makes the sins of fornication and adultery easier. Less costly in the short-term. We’re finding out, nowadays, that women are really not all that happy about what happened in the long term, now aren’t we? And it’s not the contraceptives that women are discovering made them unhappy – it’s the way they spent their youth in actual sin, running after the idols of parties and fun, serial live-in boyfriends and independent careers. Suddenly a lot of women’s sinful hearts were unconstrained by exterior circumstances, and they reaped bitter fruit although they thought they were getting off scot free. Tool of the Devil? In a lot of circumstances, yes. But then, he’s a tricky bastard and can use just about anything to trick people into rebellion and sin – even the outward forms of morality! Blaming contraceptives as being uniquely evil certainly appears to be the classic female avoidance of responsibility, dressed up in lawyerly semantic quibbling: the serpent tempted me, and I ate, so it’s really all that darned snake’s fault!

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Failure to understand SS

I was reading the comments to this Insty link – the Paul Ryan article is yet another politician showing off how much he doesn’t understand poverty and how The Government! can “help” – and I ran across this gem in the comments:

Kurtis, the amount I’ve paid into Social Security over a working career, with an assumed 5% rate of return as it has been paid in, is $660,000. Calling it a “subsidy” is mistaken. Yes, I know that the government has spent it all out of its “lock box”, but the fact remains that, for those of us who’ve paid in over 40 years, the monthly payback is not a “gift” from Uncle Sam.

No, of course it’s not a “gift” from Uncle Sam. It’s a “gift” extracted from your children and grandchildren’s paychecks, just as that $660,000* you paid went to your parents and grandparents. It’s not a “payback” because Social Security is a Ponzi scheme. The very first recipients got their SS money for free, and now everyone receiving SS has just got to pray that their political clout, as the (rolling) wealthiest generational class in America, does not become eclipsed by angry younguns who don’t imagine that they’re ever going to see a penny of the SS taxes they’ve paid “come back” to them. Ever.

And of course, we have a bit of a different situation now, than the Americans who instituted Social Security were facing. Of course the Boomers are going to fight fiercely to protect their bennies – but they didn’t have enough children to support the Ponzi scheme in the same ratios of worker/beneficiary as they enjoyed. When they were being taxed for their own predecessors, there were far more workers to each SS recipient. Now? The ratio of worker to recipient is much lower. Meaning the money to support all those recipients is going to be a much larger bite out of the workers’ paychecks – or the benefits will have to be reduced.

Now honestly, if Americans as a society want to engage in a generational Ponzi scheme like this, and want to actually engage in it honestly, by moving the age of eligibility upwards as life expectancy increases (which has not been done!) instead of having politicians use it as a carrot to entice voters’ compliance with their scheming, that’d be okay, in theory. Except for the fact that the government has become an ungodly hydra of similar programs, all of which are vampirically sucking on working taxpayers like a swarm of lamprey, every sucking head of which has its own little interest groups fiercely defending the trickle of “government largesse” that manages to bypass the  swamps of bureaucrats’ paychecks skimming off the top and actually get through to do whatever it is that was originally planned for. Social Security… well, as a result of being a very large interest group, SS beneficiaries are the lucky bastards who are most visible as sucking lampreys. That’s not a good position to be in when the swimmer gets tired of hauling around a lot of writhing, bloodsucking dead weight.

And it’s especially not a good position to be in if you spent your years as the parent of one or two Special Snowflake children teaching those adorable brats that they’re the center of the universe and that they are Independent and nobody can tell them they owe a duty to anyone! Do whatever you want! No one can tell you what to do!

I don’t think that mindset’s going to work out so well, when those kids who’ve struggled in a recession to find any work at all and can’t afford to buy their own houses and thus still live with their parents are told, “Oh yeah, you have to pay a good chunk of your every paycheck to these old folks who are living in houses you can’t afford and won’t ever be able to, who drive fancy cars when you can barely afford gas for your used car, who enjoyed higher incomes at their similar stages of life than you ever will. A good number of them are also getting retirement packages that you’re never gonna see, sucker!”

The generation currently collecting Social Security had the goose that laid the golden eggs – and they took those eggs for themselves, and then proceeded to start strangling the goose. I really don’t have any sympathy for them, especially not when they start whining about how they’re owed all the money the government took from them to give to their grandparents – and give plenty of government bureaucrat leeches comfy jobs with great benefits and retirement packages along the way!

*And a 5% rate of return?! ROFLMAO, who the hell thinks that the government would give interest like some kind of stock investment? No, no, no, you silly idiot, when the government takes more of your tax money than even they admit that you owe, they most definitely don’t give it back with interest! But if it’s the other way, and they decide you owe back taxes, I’m pretty sure they charge you, oh citizen, interest on that money. As if any of it was going to be invested instead of spent immediately. Hah!

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I’m glad I’m not her

The Worstest Person in the World, Vox Day, has got a post up on Alpha Game about that chick who posted a spreadsheet her husband sent her of all the really lame excuses she used to get out of having to have sex with him.

If he’s not Christian, that guy should probably find a good divorce lawyer. He needs to get rid of that ice princess and find a proper wife. If he is, sucks to be him. My sympathies.

I’m also very glad that I am resolved to be a Marriage 1.0 wife, and I’ve told my husband that he has my eternal and standing permission to, ahem, convince me that having sex Right Now is a good idea if I don’t pounce him immediately when he offers. We’ve had some communication issues in our years of marriage – which, if Ice Princess hadn’t obviously had a pattern of willful rejection, could have given her some cover. Sometimes he thought he was puttin’ the moves on me, and I was all clueless like “wha? I’m typing on the internet/reading a book/obsessing over something else and thus oblivious” and he got all disappointed. I felt bad when I found about it later but was seriously oblivious at the time – not deliberately rejecting him! So I make sure to mention to him every now and then that if he wants my undivided attention without having to literally sweep me off my feet and cuff me to the bed (which is allowed too, rowr), he should take all his clothes off and repeat the invitation naked, because sometimes that’s what it takes for ME to catch HIS attention when he’s concentrating! (We’re both nerds, what can I say. One-track minds are not always set to “sex!” at our age, either.)

Of course, this works with us, because I can’t resist my husband’s body and I’ve been known to jump him past bedtime and lights-out if I can’t sleep and he’s just lying there being all sexy and naked, provoking me, you know. Pretty sure feminists think that’s rape or something. Ice Princess probably isn’t even sexually attracted to this poor guy or otherwise with the properly telegraphed invitation, “I’m tired” or “I don’t feel 100%” promptly take a hike in favor of other moods, shall we say. Well, in most cases. One can legitimately be too tired for a good romp, but not with a previous pattern like that one. As a wife it’s my responsibility to not let myself get “too tired” if I can possibly avoid it, anyway!

And, I mean, “I feel too gross”?!?! OMGWTFBBQ, what else is sex with your husband FOR if it’s not to make you feel sexy and gorgeous and desirable when your inner critic starts telling you you’re an undesirable fat cow and you eat too much? That is EXACTLY the time to say “yes” if there ever was one! “Too drunk”?? Women have been known to deliberately get drunk in order to have sex, you can’t use that as an excuse to turn down your husband.

Besides, if you read Insty every now and then, you learn about all kinds of good stuff that sex does for you. It’s science! Don’t be a denier!

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Guess What? War is Dangerous!

News that a commercial airliner had been shot down in Ukraine did not really surprise me. I was mildly surprised that any commercial airliner would willingly fly over a war zone, actually: don’t these people realize that traveling through war zones is dangerous? Why were the pilots flying through that area anyway? What, you think that because you’re in a civilian aircraft thousands of feet in the air, that you’re safe?

Would you drive a car through a war zone? Of course not!

Look, for hundreds of years, people have known that traveling across terrain currently hosting armed conflict is inherently dangerous, and to do so without taking proper precautions (like arming yourself to the teeth and preferably packing your army, or at least a battalion or two) is essentially signing yourself up for a shot at the Darwin Awards.

Like the women “journalists” who ended up victims of violence during the Arab Spring, I want to ask these morons, “Just what makes you think that people who are engaging in lethal violence aren’t going to kill you? You might think you’re different and special from their other victims, but do you really think they see you as anything more than a bit of fun to be had?”

Not all cultures recognize civilian as a noncombatant status, idiots. And flying in a defenseless sardine tin over a place where a major power and who knows what kind of nasty rebel terrorist groups and/or competing domestic factions are having a “little spat” strikes me as a spectacularly bad plan. War is not civilized and armed conflict involves this thing called collateral damage. 

Of course, humanity is rather good at soaking up collateral damage as necessary for efficient travel – otherwise, cars would be illegal and we’d all be riding horses again. Now that it’s been conclusively proven that Ukrainian airspace is actually dangerous outside of just the Crimea region, I expect very few airlines will be cutting time and costs by flying through that particular country’s airspace.

I am mildly surprised that this was news and caused such a fuss, though. Slow news day, I guess. “War kills people” could fill an entire newspaper with stories from around the world every day, after all. Or maybe somebody in the mainstream media will make a lot of money if the Malaysian airlines stock crashes… hmmm.

 

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No One is Obliged to Validate You

There is a certain class of narcissistic person who will insist upon disclosing their personal information to the general public, but then become extremely upset if any part of the general public fails to validate them by (a) showering praise upon them, or (b) shutting up.

For example, a woman who blogs at The Frisky decided to write about her love life while she was divorcing her husband and sleeping around, and Dalrock, a blogger who examines the cultural mores surrounding sex and marriage, used her public story as an example of the current cultural mores surrounding sex. If you read the above link, you’ll see that the point of the post is not about Rebecca personally: she’s just a particular example of a larger behavior pattern.

Of course, if you post on the internet about how you feel bad because a couple of guys refused to date you before your divorce paperwork is finalized, it’s a good bet that somebody, somewhere, is going to call you a slut. That would be because their definition of “slut” includes women who sleep around on their husbands before they finalize their divorces. And if you post pictures of yourself online, it’s also a good bet that somebody might come around and call you ugly, especially if you make yourself into a public figure by, say, posting blogs on a website that’s about sex. Of course, if you’re an adult, you don’t care if people with the emotional maturity of seventh graders call you an ugly slut, because you don’t really care what people who engage in playground insults think of you.

But if you’re Rebecca, you apparently think that playground insults constitute “toxic” commentary (baby, have you ever seen the 4chan boards?) and you desperately attempt to stir up a mob to get another blogger silenced for… sending you more clickbait? Isn’t whoring for clickbait the definition of a Frisky blogger’s job?… because some emotionally immature people made negative comments and even hurled playground insults at you.

News flash, children: not everyone in the world is obliged to validate your life choices. In fact, no matter what life choices you make, someone is going to think you made the wrong decision! An adult would carefully consider whether or not the people criticizing you have a point, and whether or not you care. If you put yourself “out there” and insist upon talking about “hot topics” like, say, sex, religion, or politics, you’re going to catch some flak. Rude people exist. It is not anyone else’s job to prevent rude people from calling you names on the internet. If rude people calling you names on the internet causes you mental anguish, don’t read the comments sections! Seriously. Real life is not your personal playpen and the universe does not revolve around you. 

Because the truth is that if immature boors are throwing insults at you, that makes them look bad to the audience, not you. But of course, if you’re ashamed of your behavior and the insult fits… well then, I guess your only option is to run to somebody else and cry so those meaniefaces will be silenced by somebody else and you won’t have to defend your choices, isn’t it?

“Mooooooooooooooooooooooommmyyyyy! Those nasty boys said mean things about me! Make them stop!”

 

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Reflections on Tarzan

Last year, I downloaded and read several of the original Edgar Rice Burroughs Tarzan novels – I think I petered out around the third one and didn’t read past that. Wikipedia tells me that there are twenty-five novels(!) in the series, so if anyone has read further and can recommend any standouts (as opposed to “hey, this is making me money, lemme milk this franchise to death”) I would appreciate it!

The other day, I noticed that Netflix had a bunch of Disney animated films on instant streaming – and aware that such a windfall is likely to vanish into the Vault soon enough, I put a couple of them on as background entertainment while multitasking. Tarzan was one of them.

The differences between the original source material and the Disney version are striking! Now, some of that, I can see as a concession to the target audience: bloody death is not going to get your movie rated G, and there’s a great deal of exposition about Tarzan in the novel that simply wouldn’t translate well to the movie screen, iirc. All those lines extolling Tarzan’s noble English heritage, for example. How exactly do you manage to “show” that and not “tell” it?

I have to admit, I’m relying on the wikipedia entry to refresh my memory of some of the details of the original plot. I thought that “natural causes” had something to do with Tarzan’s parents’ deaths – in the Disney version, they’re killed by a leopard. Tarzan’s dad is apparently seriously incompetent with a gun, since the treehouse is filled with shells and the leopard is unharmed. So is the defenseless baby Tarzan. (Ah, Disney!) In the original, it was the dominant silverback ape, Kerchak, who killed Tarzan’s father, after his mother had already succumbed to the harsh environment.

The plot of the original story is certainly not child-friendly: it involves far too much homicide. What’s kind of annoying about the movie is that the replacement theme is your typical “we can all get along even though we’re different” tripe. Also, the usual “youth takes matters into own hands, disobeys elder, causes chaos, receives reward” trope applies. (There’s a bit of similarity there to The Lion King, as well.) The way Disney makes the ape social structure so humanlike is jarring, too – especially considering the original book had a lot of “advance your social standing by offing your superior” elements as part of the ape social structure.

But honestly, there’s really not much to compare between source and Disney version – the source material is far superior. As it is, the best part of watching Disney’s Tarzan was comparing it to my memory of playing Kingdom Hearts! The Tarzan world was one of my favorites, after all.

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City Beyond Time: Murder in Metachronopolis

The first of the short stories (I refuse to figure out exactly how many words quantifies a short story/novella/novelette/etc [or figure out how to get my Kindle to tell me how many words long a part of a book is] so all stories shorter than “novel” will hereafter be referred to as “short story.” Even if that is technically inaccurate nomenclature. Pthbbt.)* is “Murder in Metachronopolis” – a hardboiled detective-type sci-fi story. And as befits a story about time travel, it’s told out-of order, starting off with part 16 (they are helpfully labeled, although I didn’t actually keep a list to check that all numbers were accounted for, I’ll just assume that they are) but each “plot thread” is woven so expertly that I never felt like I was being jerked around for mere authorial cleverness points. Or the author making up for the fact that the middle of her story is boring and pointless. (Yes, I am still going on about that. The wasted potential makes me sad. I’m sharing!) This one might actually qualify as a novelette, it’s a bit longer than some of the other shorts in the collection; it’s long enough to give the reader a good appreciation for the city and the kind of headaches time-traveling jerks cause in their wake!

Selected quote:

“I don’t take cases from Time Wardens, see? All you guys are the same. The murderer turns out to be yourself, or you when you were younger. Or me. Or an alternate version of me, or you who turns out to be your own father fighting yourself for no reason except that is the way it was when the whole thing started. And there’s no beginning and no reason for any of it. Oh, brother, you Time Wardens make me sick.”

The story definitely rewards a second read after you finish the whole book, too – I believe the case of Helen of Troy is actually the story (novelette?) that ends the collection. I also serendipitously figured out how to navigate from one story to the next in the book via the Kindle arrow buttons after being dismayed at the lack of an active-hyperlink Table of Contents, which is an odd oversight in an ebook.

Now, of course, I want to skip to the end and re-read the last story in City, but that would be cheating. I’ll tackle them in order, but not until tomorrow… it’ll give me a good excuse to relax in front of the fishtanks I just cleaned today!

*Nested parenthetical asides in honor of Charles Stross; if a professional author can use them, then I’m indulging myself with them in my amateur blog post. This is how my first drafts tend to come out, anyway – usually I edit my writing-thoughts to avoid using them, thanks to some writing class lost in the mists (heh heh) of time (SWIDT? XD) that taught me that anything you’d stick in parenthesis in your writing ought to be deleted, or worked in properly. So I tend to overuse commas and long complicated sentence structures and dashes instead. Until now. (LOL) I promise to stop doing this and go back to editing myself properly after this!

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