Signpost: The Book of Ecclesiastes


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About the “prime directive”

In his parting words Jesus said, “You shall be my witnesses.” He did not say, “Over there are two truckloads of rocks, boys. You know what to do.”

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Three servant-leaders in social media

Item IV.D of the preceding philosophy of education gives the rationale for what, in the American evangelical church, is commonly called “servant leadership.” It’s the idea that true leadership has less to do with someone’s outward signs of rank than with that person’s willingness to serve others. Put more crudely, it’s based not on what the leader can do to people but on what he or she is willing to do for them.

Mark 10:42–45, the concept’s primary text, is typically thought to apply only to life within the church of Jesus Christ. As with so many good ideas, however, this one can be observed in the world around us, where it simply makes good sense. Let me show you three individuals who have demonstrated it to a degree we can only touch upon here.

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Why I teach what I teach

Clerk’s Log, MJDate 54987.52: Applications for faculty positions usually ask you to state your “personal philosophy of teaching.” Here’s mine.
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It’s a Movie Mantra!

Awhile back I was privileged to read Movie Mantra number 64 for the estimable Martyn Darkly, and it’s apparently getting some buzz. Here’s the link.

Martyn takes lines from memorable films (or memorable lines from not-so-memorable films) and presents them for our consideration. Sometimes those screenwriters are pretty sharp.

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Metamor City Sidebar: What IS magic, anyway?

“The whole machine isn’t possible. Personally, I believe color television to be impossible too. But since it does exist, I will act as if I believed in it. We must do the same for the Energy Damper.”
— Illya Kuryakin, in The Man from U.N.C.L.E.: The Dagger Affair, by David McDaniel

In the world of Metamor City, magic and technology evolve side by side. This juxtaposition makes for a delightful variety of stories, and suggests that The Metamor City Podcast will have something for everyone to enjoy. Still, it raises1 a worrisome question. We know what technology is: it’s applying what we know about how the physical universe functions — e.g., physics (and its parent, mathematics), chemistry, biology — to the performance of “work,” i.e., getting physical tasks done.2 But what exactly is magic?

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  1. Not “begs” — people, please please please look up “begging the question” in a book on logic or rhetoric. []
  2. In other words, technology is to the hard sciences as religion is to theology: the second element is what we know about The Way Things Are, while the first is what we do about it. []
Posted in SFF: Writings, Writing: The process | 2 Comments

Abortion — such language!

Thirty-six years after Roe v. Wade we’re still tossing around the same irrelevant labels. Neither the side favoring legalized abortion nor the side opposing it is “anti-life.” Nor is either side “anti-choice.” They do differ on what “life” means, and when legitimate choices can be made. If we’re going to focus on the differences, let’s get to the point.

Anyone have suggestions?

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“Save the Planet”?

We don’t need to worry about “saving the planet.” (Neither the Death Star nor Narada is hovering nearby.) What we want to save is the existing biosphere.

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The Podcast Repertory Theater 2008–9, part 4: METAMOR CITY — MAKING THE CUT

Clerk’s Log, MJD 54961.9: Oops … drat. <sigh> Thus do I break the pattern of posting the TPRT article before the subject production comes to an end. Making the Cut is now complete and available at Check it out — you won’t regret it. And the novel’s parent production, The Metamor City Podcast, is still going strong.

In Murder at Avedon Hill, the gods occasionally come down to earth. In the world of Metamor City, they’ve been forcibly relocated there, and things haven’t been at all the same since.

One of the gods, you see, began the turning of selected humans into vampires, a process that continues to this day. Among the other humans, meanwhile, a new strain emerged with similar mental powers and, despite its different social agenda, a similar determination to survive: the psychics, most of whom have bonded together (on several levels) as the Psi Collective. Each of these subcategories of humanity views the other not only as its mortal enemy but also, in light of their few similarities, its counterfeit.1

Vampires and telepaths. Who would have thought these would be found in the same world, let alone as counterparts? Clearly we’re dealing with something different from traditional science fiction or fantasy here.

Welcome to the world of Metamor City.

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  1. Vampiric feeding, like sex between telepaths — indeed, Fred Saberhagen identified vampiric feeding with lovemaking in The Holmes-Dracula File — forms an unbreakable psychic bond between the two parties, and includes a degree of mixing between their personalities. “Blood is the river in which the spirit flows,” says medical examiner Morgan Drauling, herself a vampire. The Psi Collective might not credit the principle, but they acknowledge the parallel. []
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The Podcast Repertory Theater 2008–9, part 3: MURDER AT AVEDON HILL

  • Philippa Ballantine: Gloria Platt, mother of the deceased
  • P.G. Holyfield: Arames Kragen, detective; Arrin Perti, student; et al.
  • Chris Lester: [Not in this production]
  • Tee Morris: Father Jorrus, undead-hunter
  • Web site:

It’s all in the game

All four of the works discussed in this series are impressive not only because of their imagination but also because of the amount of thought that clearly has gone into each of them. Chasing the Bard and MOREVI, as “hidden chapters” of the history of England, obviously require considerable research into that history to ensure consistency with its events and cultures. What can one say, however, about stories that depart from our world’s history into new territory — into worlds that are more built than borrowed? How does a writer craft his or her world with enough care that we visitors will trust it, and the story that takes place there, not to crumble beneath our feet?

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Posted in General, Podcasting, SFF: Writings | 6 Comments