Review of Walter Mosley’s “Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned”

Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned by Walter Mosley My rating: 4 of 5 stars Fans of Mr. Mosley’s “Easy” Rawlins novels might be disappointed that there’s no mystery to solve, but that doesn’t take away from the true strengths of this book, which is a series of vignettes about life in Watts: about poverty, about race, about violence. They read to me as modern Socratic dialogues, … Continue reading Review of Walter Mosley’s “Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned”

More on the Limitations of Writing Really Good Villainesses

One of the reasons Darth Vader is a timeless villain is because he’s Luke’s father. Luke, as the hero, represents us — either indirectly in that he fights for us, or directly as a stand-in, a power-projection of the self. Vader, then, in perverting his role as father, inverts it and becomes the antithesis of protector, and his betrayal of Luke becomes the betrayal of … Continue reading More on the Limitations of Writing Really Good Villainesses

Setting and Hardboiled Detective Fiction

I was listening to some lectures on the detective novel on the plane, and the dude really had some neat points. (Go figure.) But first, for background, you have to know that American detective fiction, sometimes labelled “hardboiled,” grew out of the English detective novel, which tended to be very genteel. The detective in the English stories, for example, was always protected by law and … Continue reading Setting and Hardboiled Detective Fiction

In the Beginning: a very short history of religious thought

It starts with a crisis, the singular belief that defines the religious history of our species: that this world, full of suffering, where the race does not go to the swift nor food to the hungry, cannot be all there is. That there must be something more. So it is, the divine singularity, the unity of creation, shatters. And mankind is left separated from the … Continue reading In the Beginning: a very short history of religious thought

2016 is not the Year of the Reaper

I know everyone is shaking their fists at 2016. And I know it’s normal colloquial language to anthropomorphize things. Biologists do it with genes all the time, for example, talking about how information coded in molecular chains “wants” things. Only the pedants among us — those who start with the assumption that everyone is less intelligent than them, when in fact the reverse is true … Continue reading 2016 is not the Year of the Reaper

The Case Against Dark Matter

The Case Against Dark Matter: A proposed theory of gravity does away with dark matter, even as new astrophysical findings challenge the need for galaxies full of the invisible mystery particles.| Quanta Magazine Once upon a time, we attributed fire to a mysterious substance called phlogiston — literally, Greek for “that which burns” — because we couldn’t explain how otherwise inert matter, like wood, could … Continue reading The Case Against Dark Matter

Understanding Our Century: How We Got Here (in two short acts)

Originally posted on Serum:
The American Presidency is a fascinating institution and one that has grown and changed over its two-and-a-quarter centuries. Like any complex social phenomenon, it has both manifest and latent functions. We all learn in school, for example, that the president is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, as specified in the Constitution, but did you also know he is the chief… Continue reading Understanding Our Century: How We Got Here (in two short acts)