Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category


graphic by J.R. Swanson

FREE ENTERPRISE, n. A system in which a few are born owning billions, most are born owning nothing, and all compete to accumulate wealth and power. If those born with billions succeed, it is due to their personal merits. If those born owning nothing fail, it is due to their personal defects.

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— from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded), the 21st-century successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. (The link goes to 50 sample definitions and illustrations.)

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


Ambrose Bierce

LABOR, n. One of the processes by which A acquires property for B.

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–from The Devil’s Dictionary, by Ambrose Bierce


There’s currently a post on Boing Boing, by Jason Weinberger, whose headline begins, “Baseball is boring.” This epitomizes hipster condescension toward baseball, condescension based on hipsters having a shorter attention span than that of the average flea and as much understanding of baseball as a dog does of algebra.

They look at the field slack jawed, in incomprehension, and they’re “bored.”

If they had even the slightest understanding of the game, they wouldn’t be.

Here are just a few of the interesting things they could be looking at with no one on base. (These will vary from batter to batter and sometimes from pitch to pitch):

  • The position of the infield (depth and relation to the bases)
  • The position of the outfield
  • The pitch sequence (type of pitch, attempted location)
  • Actual pitch location
  • The pitcher’s pitch count
  • The pitcher’s velocity
  • The pitcher’s mechanics
  • The batter’s batting stance
  • The batter’s position in the box
  • The batter’s plate discipline
  • The batter’s ability to foul off bad pitches — one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen was Brandon Belt’s epic 21-pitch at bat, fouling off pitch after pitch, earlier this year

With a runner on first base, things get even more interesting. You still have all of the above, but you have more:

  • How big is the runner’s lead?
  • How fast is he?
  • Does it even make sense for the runner to try to steal?
  • How good is the pitcher’s move to first?
  • How fast is the pitcher to the plate?
  • How good is the catcher’s arm and how fast is his release?

With a runner on second or third, or with multiple base runners, it often gets even more complicated.

Then if you’re watching real baseball (National League baseball — without the dumbed-down abomination known as the designated hitter) — you have the fun of trying to outguess the managers:

  • When and if the manager should pinch hit for the pitcher
  • Which pinch hitter should the manager use?
  • Or should the manager have the pitcher bunt, take, or fake a bunt and try to hit a butcher boy?
  • When exactly should a manager bring in a relief pitcher? And which one?
  • Should the manager make a double switch if he calls in a reliever?

Again, this only scratches the surface.

Yes, baseball can be boring — in blowout games. But so can football, hockey, basketball and socker — and please don’t call that unAmerican foreign sport “football”: that term applies only to a popular American religious ceremony involving human sacrifice.

Hipsters generally prefer football (a ritualized form of mayhem conducted for your and my — go ‘9ers! — entertainment) and basketball (the perfect game for those with nonexistent attention spans, and proof that childhood glandular disorders need not impair adult earnings potential).

Me? I’ll take baseball.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Corrupted Science front cover

We’ve been running a NetGalley promo, and will be changing the available titles shortly. Corrupted Science will be archived this coming Sunday night, August 26, and replaced by another title, so if you review books and are interested in Corrupted Science, it’d be a good idea to sign on with NetGalley now.

We’ll be archiving most of the other currently available e-books a week after that, so again it’d be a good idea to sign up with NetGalley now if any of the following are of interest.

Here’s a brief description of NetGalley followed by a list of currently available titles.

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If you read e-books and even occasionally review them on Amazon, Goodreads, B&N, etc., or your blog (if you have one), you might want to check out NetGalley. Ditto if you work for a library or a bookstore.

NetGalley a service that provides free e-books to those who review at least some of the free books they download, or who work for institutions (bookstores, libraries) that order books. This differs from the unrestricted book-giveaway sites in that while anyone can create a NetGalley reader account, prior to okaying a book download publishers can check to see how many of the books a particular reviewer downloaded he or she reviewed. So, publishers are free to turn down “reviewers” who have downloaded say 20 or 30 books and haven’t reviewed any of them.

But if you like to read e-books and at least occasionally review some of them, or work for a library or a bookstore, it’s great. It couldn’t be easier to sign up for this free service at NetGalley’s web site, and even very short, one- or two-sentence reviews count.

We currently have the following e-books available for download by reviewers:

  • Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology, and Politics in Science (revised & expanded), by two-time Hugo Award winner John Grant. This brand new book (pub date June 15) covers the historical period from the days of Galileo to the present, and covers a very wide range of topics including fraud by scientists themselves, the vast array of corporate misuse and misrepresentation of science, and the misuse and misrepresentation of science by authoritarian regimes, notably Nazi Germany under Hitler, the Soviet Union under Stalin, and the USA under Trump, with a special focus on climate change denial under Trump.
  • Sleep State Interrupt, by T.C. Weber. This cyberpunk thriller deals with an even more overtly repressive near-future America and the struggle against that repression by a multicultural crew of hackers and political activists attempting to wake the USA from its “sleep state.” Sleep State Interrupt received a Compton Crook Award nomination in 2017 for Best First Science Fiction Novel and has received dozens of favorable reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Anarchist Cookbook front coverThe Anarchist Cookbook, by Keith McHenry with Chaz Bufe, introduction by Chris Hedges. Anarchists have talked for decades about producing an anarchist cookbook, a book whose contents accurately reflect its title. A book written by anarchists that delivers recipes for social change, recipes for tasty food, and accurate information about anarchism. There have been several false starts on such a book, but no one has ever published one. Until now.Topics covered include the nature of anarchism, approaches to social and political change—what works and what doesn’t, avoiding entrapment by the FBI, food politics, and vegan recipes and cooking for both large and small groups. Popmatters says that this book “features a lively tone and inspiring argument. . . . [It’s an] affordable and handsomely produced compendium.”
  • Cover for Stage Fright:40 Stars Tell You How You Can Beat America's #1 FearStage Fright: 40 Stars Tell You How They Beat America’s #1 Fear, by Mick Berry and Michael Edelstein, PhD. This groundbreaking book contains 40 interviews with highly accomplished public figures on dealing with stage fright, offering tips from their own experiences in overcoming it. Jason Alexander, Mose Allison, Maya Angelou, David Brenner, Peter Coyote, Olympia Dukakis, Melissa Etheridge, Richard Lewis, Ron Paul, Robin Williams, and 30 others sound off about their trials with stage fright, candidly discussing their fears and insecurities with life in the public eye and ultimately revealing the various paths they followed to overcoming them.
    Stage fright sufferers from all walks of life—whether a high school freshman nervous about an oral presentation or a professional baseball player with the eyes of the world on him—will find consolation by understanding the commonality of their problem, as well as helpful information to finally shed their inhibitions.
  • Free Radicals, by Zeke Teflon front coverFree Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia, by Zeke Teflon. The reviews tell you all you need to know regarding this sci-fi novel about a hard-bitten bar musician exiled to a prison planet filled with religious and political cults:

“Solidly entertaining . . . reminiscent of early Mick Farren.” –Publishers Weekly

“The plot holds the reader’s interest and should appeal to a fairly wide audience.” —Booklist

“[Free Radicals] is among the best future-shock reads in years. . . . Teflon wields a dark sense of humor . . . and is a terrific depicter of violence. . . . [Free Radicals] is the only sci-fi novel I’ve read that captures the gritty existence of a futuristic bar musician . . . [It also] makes great use of border Spanish; . . . If we lived in the ’60s and ’70s when audience-rattling paperbacks like Naked Lunch were cheap, plentiful and available on pharmacy spinner-racks, critics would hail Free Radicals as a masterpiece.” —Tucson Weekly

So, if you review books and any of these titles appeal to you, we’d suggest signing up with NetGalley now, as we’ll be taking down these titles from NetGalley shortly and replacing them with others.

Finally, just a reminder that book reviews are fun to write and that your reviews do matter and can be a tremendous help to both small publishers and to other readers.


Ambrose Bierce

DISOBEDIENCE, n. The silver lining to the cloud of servitude.

–Ambrose Bierce, The Devil’s Dictionary


BIRTHDAY. n. A milepost on the march to death.

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— This one is not from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded), the 21st-century successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary, but it will be if we ever get around to publishing a further expanded edition. (The link goes to 50 sample definitions and illustrations.)

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover


PRIEST, n. A holy individual who follows — often to excess — the divine injunction to “love the little children.”

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— from The American Heretic’s Dictionary (revised & expanded), the 21st-century successor to Ambrose Bierce’s Devil’s Dictionary. (The link goes to 50 sample definitions and illustrations.)

American Heretic's Dictionary revised and expanded by Chaz Bufe, front cover