Monday, January 31, 2011

War Is Hell

Ant Wars!

Immoral Universes

There has been a recent mini-boom in books about multiple universes, including but not limited to Parallel Worlds, The Cosmic Landscape, Many Worlds in One, In Search of the Multiverse, The Hidden Reality, and the forthcoming Visions of the Multiverse, all of which I own (or in the latter case will own when it comes out). But are these books and the ideas they represent immoral?

As someone who grew up on Star Trek and other sci-fi where parallel universes are a time-honored trope, I must say I love a good multiverse. Heck, I'm in the acknowledgments of Many Worlds in One! Thus, I don't find this whole phenomenon in the least disconcerting. There's nothing wrong with unbridled speculation; it's how more science than you'd think gets started, despite the stereotypes of science being sterile and uncreative. But at some point speculation has to be bridled and evidence must be procured, and the fact there is no evidence for a multiverse, and may in fact never be any even in principle, is definitely problematic. Thus, I can understand the consternation.

I also definitely have my likes and dislikes among the various proposals, and frankly think some of them are stupid, but immoral? I think not. No one will ever say, "Sure, I'll murder that guy for his watch and go to prison; in another universe I won't have killed him, or in another I will but won't get caught!" And there should be no limitation on what anyone, especially scientists, can speculate on and study, because you never know.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

They Didn't Show This On Oz

The latest scourge of our prisons that must be stamped out is the dangerous and growing gang of... gamers? I mean, they're called Dungeon Masters, and what is a prison if not a dungeon? By definition, then, they'd run the prisons if they were allowed to flourish! Our prison guards would find themselves turned into goblins and the cafeterias would become beholder lairs before we knew it! Thank goodness we caught this in time before the exercise yards were overrun with half-orc barbarians.

One wonders, BTW, if RPGs that use the "Storyteller" system are considered safer. White Wolf, this is your chance to corner the market!

(Via Pharyngula)

Skimpy Sunday

(Via Vince Lambert [NSFW]; Fuck him so hard [NSFW]; Mimziz [NSFW]; Overnight to London [NSFW])

Friday, January 28, 2011

Nerding Out Again

See, folks, it's not just me who is interested in the fine distinctions and semantics of what it means to be a "nerd" and/or "geek"!

I've gone into
lots and lots and lots of detail about this subject before, so all I'll say now is that I don't think it's enthusiasm that defines geekiness, but the level of social approbation given to that enthusiasm, which is something that can and does change over time. For example, video games have lost most of the stench of geek, because everyone these days has an Xbox and grew up playing Mario; World of Warcraft, though, is drenched in the cheap cologne of geekiness.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

I Admit, Though, That The "Yellow Wallpaper" Joke Made Me Laugh and Laugh

Sometimes it takes a Canadian to remind us Americans all that we owe to hunks.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bourgeois Nerd Sports Segment

The starting line-up for the biggest sporting event of the year has been announced. I'm rooting for Big Red; he "loves the Golden Girls," and we all know what that means. Plus, I love a cute ginger.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Thursday, January 20, 2011


This is the 3000th post on Bourgeois Nerd! Hooray! Who knew I had so much to say about nothing in particular? Thank you to all my readers, old and new.

Winter Gardening

I've taken a little time to prune and rake and replant in the sidebar links. It was all terribly overdue. And even greater changes are in store for BN in February! We're in the very beginning stages of what looks to be a major redesign. More details as they become available, but in the meantime, feel free to tell me what you would want to see in a redesign.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Bourgeois Book Club

The Habitation of the Blessed by Catherynne M. Valente

What better setting for a fantasy (
or, as the author insists, science fiction about first contact with an alien world working on different laws of physics) than the fabulous Kingdom of Prester John, full of strange, immortal beasts, a dream for Europe all through the Middle Ages? And as brought to life by Valente, it is a dream-like place, where buried beds bloom into bed-trees, animals talk, and everyone lives forever from drinking mountain-juice. The entities that inhabit this fabulous land are innocent, the endless years governed only by the Lottery that assigns new lives every so often to keep away the ennui and entropic decay of eternity with the power of chance, until John comes and things are forever changed.

Five narrators tell the tale of John and his land: John himself; his headless wife, the scribe Hagia; the large-eared storyteller Imtithal; Hoib von Luzern, the monk who plucks the latter three's stories from a tree, driven mad by his desperation to record their stories even as they crumble before him; and Alaric of Rouen, Hoib's protege who must continue the recording in Hoib's place. The language is beautiful. Almost too beautiful, in a way; everyone is a poet, apparently. Yet, why not? It is a dream-land, after all. It's really hard to complain about a book with beautiful language after all.

Somewhat surprisingly, it is an often quite funny book. Watching people of totally different cultures interact often is. Yet it is also sad and wistful and melancholy, a dirge, as the subtitle calls it, for a land that never was. Though it is billed upfront as the first book of a trilogy, somehow I don't want it to be. I usually like my endings conclusive and my loose ends, if not tied off, than at least very net, and hate ambiguity. Yet ambiguity suits this tale well; you can fill in the blanks on the rest of the story without two more book laying it all out. I think it's more powerful knowing what happens, but not quite why or how.

Depending on one's spiritual status, one could either be offended or invigorated by Valente's demolition of Christian thought, how mean and small and petty it is. Even the main Christian in the book, John, is a damnable heretic! And there's sure as hell some other heresy going on, too. This is not for the spiritually faint-of-heart. But for who love tales of far-off lands and stranges creatures told lyrically told, The Habitation of the Blessed is for you.

Jane and the Damned: A Novel
by Janet Mullany

Jane Austen and vampires fight the French in occupied Bath. What more, exactly, need I say?

Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love by Andrew Shaffer

Fun, pithy love (well, "love") stories told with a dry, ironic sense of humor and sprinkled with wry footnotes (my favorite kind!), Great Philosophers Who Failed at Love is a breezy, humorous look at the juicy, tawdry romantic foibles of some of history's greatest thinkers.

As someone who has not so much failed as yet to really get started in love, I'm frankly a bit afraid of relationships, of it all going terribly wrong. But as the Neal Pollack quote that begins
the book says, "It's always nice to know that no matter how badly you've screwed up your love life, someone else has done far, far worse." And, hey, since I don't plan to accidentally (?) strangle my partner or get castrated, I think I'm safely out of contention for Worst Love Life Ever forever.

The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason

Forty variations of the Odyssey, some almost science fictional, some fabulist, some in first person, some in third person, some barely a paragraph, some pages long comprises this collection of postmodern, metafictional sketches. Each story is an exploration of
one particular image, character, or theme of the Homeric epics, challenging us to see the epics in new and unusual ways. An interesting and enjoyable meditation on the foundational texts of Western literature, it's a great thought-provoker for any student or admirer of Greek mythology. (And, guess what? It even has the snarky footnotes I so love!)

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Birthday Bestsellers

Funnily enough, I've read two of the books that were bestsellers the week I was born: Master of the Game by Sidney Sheldon and The Prodigal Daughter by Jeffrey Archer. I was a sucker for the big, sprawling epics about rich families in my adolescence. I was a strange child.

Also strange? The fact that my grandmother was the one who introduced me to Sidney Sheldon. If you've ever read him, you know how awesome/gobsmacking the notion of a grandmother giving her grandson Sidney Sheldon to read at ten or twelve years of age is. I have a cool grandmother.

(Via The Hairpin)

Crushing On Dead Guys

History nerds with a penchant for hot menz rejoice: Bangable Dudes in History is here!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Cold Coquettery

Polar bears get flirty.

Library Porn

I've always considered Karl Lagerfeld to be one of those weird, off-putting, head-stuck-up-his-own-ass fashion-gays that I want nothing to do with, but now that I've seen his library, maybe he's not such a bad guy? It's heavenly! (And if that's where he keeps his books, just think of the room where he stores his fans! Come on, you know he has one.)

Also, see how the books are stacked vertically instead of in a row? There's probably some pretentious/crazy design reason for it in his case, but I totally feel it, because I'm neurotic (?!? Me?!?!) about book condition, and standing them up definitely wears the bottom edges and spine. Alas, unlike Mr. Lagerfeld, I don't have the space to indulge that predilection for the majority of my books; rows are much more space-efficient.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


You've probably already seen it, but if not, take the time to watch the last installment of the dissection of the Star Wars prequels. Hilarious and insightful, even if that voice really gets to me and I find the "character" and "plot" distracting and unnecessary. I also sometimes wonder if any film can really endure quite the same level of scrutiny (though I may be wrong about that). Of course, my own copious Star Wars criticism is much superior, but the critiques of the technical aspects of film making and screenwriting are way beyond the average fan's.

Sunday, January 02, 2011