Showing posts from April, 2019

Creating a Comic Book - Dungeon Buddies - Part 3 of ?

We have a solid idea for page 1. We also have pieces and parts about the whole plot. Today I want to work on fleshing out the whole plot, which I'm thinking about as 10 issues of about 20 pages. The immediate scenes after our opening page are pretty obvious, but the overall story is still a little blurry in areas and I want to iron that out so that my first time through is decently smooth with, foreshadowing and such.

Here's page 1. Then I'll start working through trying to piece this whole epic story together.

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Page 1

Panel 1: Top third of page. A mountain ridge with two shadows walking along it, a soldier and a witch. Kind of dark and mysterious, ominous.

1. Narration: After the alliance won the war, the grand council sent a soldier and a witch to hide the Gauntlet of Kings in the X Mountains. Many had gone looking for it, none had returned.

Panel 2: Bottom two-thirds of page. Gauntlet floating above display mantel in the middle of the cave. Lut and Gaza on …

Making Speeches for the Harry Potter Festival - Part 2 of ?

You know when you start a project that's somewhat similar to one you've done before, and then it ends up being a bit more complex than you first imagined? That's what we're into here.

I've given hundreds of speeches on many different subjects. In the last month or so I've given speeches on resentment as the most destructive emotion, analyzing the philosophical roots of rock lyrics, how my family originated as Leprechauns, how I raised a dragon egg when I was a kid, the importance of comic books as an art form, and what a virtuous human being is. I've had people come up to me after every one of those speeches and tell me how much they liked it and how much it made them think, because I seem to have a unique view on most things. Next week I'm giving a speech titled "Alligator Wrestling and the Meaning of Life". But these Harry Potter speeches are a... challenge.

I have 2 things that are solid. I have 3, or 4, or 5 things that still have to be wo…

Flavor and Value

Do you like mint chocolate chip ice cream? Why? In this lies both the problem and the solution to many of life's concerns.

How do we know what is real? Reality is a perception. I know this computer is real because I'm touching it. If this computer were to suddenly disappear, then reappear, I might question if it's really real, or just an illusion.

This consistency in my subjectivity is one important piece. The other piece is the subjectivity of others. The fusion of our perspectives, this intersubjectivity, this shared reality. Sometimes even an imaginary perspective is used, a third person perspective, an omniscient perspective. These two things form our objective reality.

How do we know what's true? Truth can be a perception. Is the computer truly there? This is the type of truth that science studies. If perception is consistent across time and perspective we call it truth.

Truth also exists in valuation. Does Jeff truly like mint chocolate chip ice cream? Science tr…

Living in Reverse

There is one philosophy of life that says you should do things in a certain order. Here's how the plan goes: go to school, go to more school, work, do more work, and more work, retire, have fun and adventures.

How many people do you meet in life? I started working at a young age and talked with a lot of people about their careers and jobs before I was in my teens. I realized then that "the plan" had a high failure rate.

Before you ever get to do what you want to do you have to run a gauntlet. The odds are that you'll either die on your way to that fun and adventure, or soon after. Even if you make it you won't have the money needed for the road trip that you always wanted to do. Even if you have the money your health probably won't be good enough to hike to the top of that mountain you always wanted to.

Even if you live until retirement, and you have enough money, and you have some health left over, you've been putting off doing what you wanted to do for …

Aphorisms on Grief, Suicide, and Meaning in Life

For years I have contemplated these mysteries. While watching Hamlet, starring Mel Gibson, divine inspiration struck and thus was born in a sudden frenzy these concise insights of wisdom.


When we have a feeling of loss, what have we lost? But a false future that never was, and never will be.

The loss of a false expectation does not negate the past, for the past is immortal.

If false positive expectation of the future has been lost, then surely real negative expectation has been prevented.


To live is to suffer, and to choose life is to choose suffering. To make such a choice we must have reasons to live that outweigh the suffering. Else, it is not a justifiable choice. The brave confront their mortality, they confront their existential choice, and they choose to take hold of the responsibility for value.

Meaning in Life

To know what meaning in life means, we must first know the meaning of meaning.

There is dual meaning in meaning. One, to signify. Two, significance.


The Charismatic Elizabeth Holmes

Elizabeth Holmes built a 9 billion dollar company on her personality, and her personality alone. That's charisma. (Theranos is now worth zero dollars, but that's another story about corruption, fraud, deceit, empty dreams and promises, and her future prison sentence.)

My three favorite books on charisma are "Prophetic Charisma" by Len Oakes, "The Spellbinders" by Ann Ruth Willner, and "Charisma" by Charles Lindholm. There are tons of insights in each of them.

Without reading about charisma at all you would probably notice a few things about Elizabeth Holmes. She is a solid public speaker and tells a great story about her uncle getting sick. It's a great story to build a medical testing company on, which is what she did. She has a really deep voice and an icy stare. And she's extremely confident.

(None of this is bad. What's bad is that she used her skills to defraud a bunch of people by telling them that her and her company had invente…

The Two Things Necessary for a Better Political System

As long as there are humans there will be debates about politics. In the end there are just two key pieces.

These are both huge things, so I can't say one is more important than the other: better principles and better people.

Without solid principles like due process, innocent until proven guilty, property rights, universal individual rights, distribution of power, checks and balances, ability to change people in power, the ability to change laws, stable laws, understandable laws, Jeff's Razor, restorative, restitutive, rehabilitative, and protective justice, illegal bribery and extortion, limiting conflict of interests, etc., you can't have a good political system. This is the part that is talked about and debated all the time.

The second piece is just as important. You need moral individuals. If you have the perfect political system and have a group of corrupted people run it, it won't be good. One of the bad things about politics is that this is hard to mitigate bec…

Why the Fermi Paradox is BS (It's about aliens)

The Fermi Paradox asks why there is a contradiction between the high probability estimates for extraterrestrial life and the lack of evidence for such life.

Some qualifications. One, I like alien stories. I'll probably write an alien story at some point. Two, the physicists that came up with this were in a casual conversation where they were just discussing crazy stuff. We all do it. Then, it became this thing.

It's fun to think about too. There are a bunch of theories to explain this contradiction. Exploring the alien motif is as old as humans. It's the archetypal story of the stranger. It used to be that the stranger could come from across the ocean. We know what's over there now so the stranger has to come from farther away for the archetype to work in the story.

But, outside of this context it's complete BS. Here's one simple answer as to why. The probability equations are BS. Here's another one, we haven't explored very far. Here's another one,…

Global Cooling Deniers

April 15th in West Michigan and I'm shoveling snow because we got seven inches yesterday. Wasn't I promised global warming at some point?

It was after the little global cooling push in the 1970s that there was a long push about global warming. Global warming was going to kill us all by now several times. It will kill us all in the near future, still. But, the smart people don't openly call it global warming anymore, they call it climate change. A genius move. No matter what happens the climate is going to change. You always have something to rail at, something to protest about. And, no one is even debating the other side. I've never heard anyone say that the climate doesn't change. Rounding to the nearest whole number, 100 percent of total humanity agrees that climate changes. It seems silly, but the zealots make it into a dangerous political cry. Let's look at an actually dangerous thing - global cooling.

Here's how the global warming people usually sell t…

Trying to Understand the Romance Genre

I don't really understand the romance genre. It seems too much like it's the same story over and over again. It's less like characters acting in the world than a plot with whoever thrown into it. In the end I think the whole thing centers on value, like the rest of life.

I posted this in a romance reading group a couple of months ago. People seemed to think it was about right.

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Does this ring true for the reasons behind this trope?

A young, attractive woman is pursued by two men. (Because she wants to feel valued.)
After some internal turmoil she chooses the more powerful, wealthier, and more dominant man. (Because she wants to feel valued by a man that she values, which is a man that is effective in the world.)
As the relationship develops he learns to value her so much that he loses much of his dominance and now sees her as an equal. (Because she wants to be as valuable as the man she most values.)

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This can change somewhat, and those are the be…

Story, Drama, Conflict, and Suspense

Let's stress test my unique ideas of story and drama. Then we'll look at coming up with more useful thoughts about suspense and conflict.

In my article "What Is a Story?" I came to new definitions about story and drama that I think get to the very root of the issue.

A story is the representation of a change, or set of changes, resulting in a steady state.

Drama is the potential or actual change to a thing of value, in its value.

My friend Jon liked the article and sent me a message about story. His favorite author George Saunders gave this example of what a story is at a seminar he attended.

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a.  Not a story:  "the cat sat on the mat."
b.  A story:  "the cat sat on the dog's mat."

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This was my off the cuff response.

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That's interesting. See, I would say that's an idea for a story. I've seen several writers do this. They're examples of the difference between a fact and a story, as Aaron Sor…

A Short and Not-Sweet Story

Two days ago I was driving to my writing group. My mind was wandering and I was thinking about different ideas. When I got to the group and the doors were closed I realized that we didn't have the writing group this week because the library is having a book sale. Nevertheless, the idea for a short intense story was already turning over in my mind. I will see what it comes to here.

Let's begin.

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This story has a tragic ending.

May 3rd
He had never seen something so beautiful. The brilliance of her smile was beyond that which could be achieved by any mortal woman. It was not just the smooth lines of her lips. It wasn't just the soft vibrant glow of her cheeks, or the way her eyes lit up. It wasn't even the smell of her hair as the wind played and twirled with it. There was something more. Something beyond words. Her mere presence was a heavenly gift to be cherished above all else.

May 18th, Six Years Later
He stared down into the coffin, unsure how …

Lack of Consistent Goal Pursuit

I'm going to try to understand my own lack of consistent goal pursuit in this article. We must start by realizing that the odds that I will be very insightful or successful in this endeavor are low. I will approach it from two perspectives. I will lay out the ideas first and then see how they apply to my story.

First, a unique view that's no longer in favor from phenomenology and existentialism. The idea is that there is no unconscious. There is no repression. Instead, there are just things that we are not conscious of. There are things that we don't know. Instead of the idea that there are things that we were aware that were too painful, this idea says that we never really examined them in the first place.

Let's use an analogy. Imagine you're standing in the middle of a room looking towards one wall. Let's call that wall your conscious awareness. You can't see the wall behind you. With the more traditional idea of the unconscious and repression you aren…

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