"You have a point. An idiotic one, but a point." (from "All About Eve," 20th Century Fox, 1950)

Let’s Talk About Nothing

By Cyberquill 11/20/20149 Comments

Test card

In the beginning there was nothing, which exploded—a storied event a.k.a. the Big Bang.

But how do you define “nothing”?

In the olden days, before it became de rigueur for television networks to air programming 24/7, flipping on the tube in the dead of night you might have seen a … Read More →

Between You and I: It’s Me!

By Cyberquill 11/11/20144 Comments

Grapo

The other day, CNN’s early morning weatherman explained that a particular meteorological metric (some wind speed or precipitation amount or whatever, I forget the context) “may not seem that much to you or I, but …”

I submit that he never would have said “may not seem that much to I or you,” not only to avoid coming across as an ill-mannered born-in-a-barn churl that likes to put himself first, but primarily because his linguistic sensibilities would … Read More →

Tire Tracks in the Sand

By Cyberquill 11/07/20149 Comments

Tire Tracks

Where there is life, there is death.

Not a day goes by that we aren’t flooded with tidings of lives having ended for one reason or another, many untimely. Scores killed in a suicide blast over here, a jetliner blown out of the sky over there, a bus full of children that plowed through a guardrail somewhere, school shootings, famines, Ebola, celebrity deaths, and on and on.

Too many to contemplate each one individually.

Add to the list the Grim Reaper’s ever-growing toll from within our own circle of relatives, friends, and … Read More →

Who “Wants” to Die?

By Cyberquill 11/05/2014Leave a Comment

Brittany Maynard

Some years ago, a distant in-law relative of mine, having just been informed by his physician that his cancer had recurred and briefed on the various treatment modalities available at this stage, declared that he didn’t wish to go on living “under these circumstances,” drew one final breath, and … Read More →

We the People’s Taxes

By Cyberquill 11/04/20142 Comments

A very good measure of how democratic a society is is to ask about the attitude towards taxes. I mean, if you had a free functioning democratic society, April 15th, when you pay your taxes, that would be a day of celebration: Here we are, getting together, to fund the policies that we decided on. That’s great. That’s what we wanna do. [But h]ere it’s a day of mourning. It’s not a government of, by, and for the people. You know, that itself is a sign of the serious decline of the functioning of the democratic system.”

Compelling and attractive as the above argument may sound at first blush, it appears to rest on a fanciful notion of “we” and “the people” as a monolithic entity, whose … Read More →

Catcalls, Evolution, and Online Anonymity

By Cyberquill 10/30/20144 Comments

Pounding the New York City pavement while tailing her undercover DP for ten hours, a callipygian young lady named Shoshana, garbed in formfitting black T&Jeans, reportedly scored a total of 108 catcalls (“This doesn’t include the countless winks, whistles, etc.”) from male strangers she encountered during her marathon stroll.

In general, catcalls are perceived as an unwelcome annoyance, but in this particular case they obviously were desired, the more the merrier, for the purpose of producing … Read More →

Why Forewords Belong in the Back

By Cyberquill 10/28/20142 Comments

Call me Ishmael.

American literature connoisseurs, whale aficionados, and those unable to disremember random factoids they picked up in high school or on Jeopardy!, will recognize the above request to be addressed in a certain manner as the opening line of a famous work of fiction.

That’s how the novel begins, and that’s how any book that says “Moby Dick” and “Herman Melville” on its front cover ought to begin.

Immediately following the obligatory front matter (publisher’s name and logo, copyright notice, if-you-purchased-this-book-without-a-cover disclaimer, etc.) the reader should encounter, without further ado, the first line of the material advertised on the cover, be it of the first chapter, or of some preface or … Read More →

The Fearsome Amphibrach

By Cyberquill 10/20/20142 Comments

Ebola

Describing the inadvertent albeit colonialization-facilitating import of infectious diseases to the Americas by the European invaders in the wake of the New World’s official discovery by Christopher Columbus, a 2002 article in The Atlantic, titled 1491, provides this somewhat disquieting observation in light of the current Ebola situation:

Brought to Mexico apparently by a single sick Spaniard, [smallpox] swept south and eliminated more than half the population of the Incan empire.”

So is karma being a bitch by having brought … Read More →

Blaming the Victim (Pt. 2)

By Cyberquill 10/18/2014Leave a Comment

Blaming the Victim

Suppose a woman asked you whether there was anything she can do to lower her chances of experiencing sexual assault—what would you say?

Would you tell her that the odds of her falling prey to some creep with impulse control issues are always 100% the same, regardless of her surroundings, behavior, physical appearance, or intoxication levels?

Or would you list one or the other factor within her control that might indeed skew the risk matrix toward … Read More →

The Modern Enemy

By Cyberquill 09/29/20142 Comments

Terrorists

Had the word been en vogue back in the 18th century, what would the British government have labeled the rebels in the American colonies?

Terrorists, of course.

Had George III ever delivered a televised BBC address on the American insurgency following the adoption of the Declaration of Independence by the Continental Congress, he would have explained that he had given orders to crack down on terrorists in the New World, using … Read More →

Condemn or Look Like a Loady

By Cyberquill 09/23/20142 Comments

Marijuana

Nearly a century of marijuana prohibition and stigma have stained America, the land of the free and home of the brave.”

This according to Ms Charlo Greene, the former KTVA reporter who, upon outing herself as the moonlighting owner of the Alaska Cannabis Club her station had just broadcast a segment on, has risen to national notoriety by having tendered her on-air resignation using “Fuck it, I quit” as her parting words to the audience before traipsing off the set, determined henceforth to devote her energies full-time to the cause of … Read More →

Who Cares What George Clooney Says?

By Cyberquill 09/17/20147 Comments

George Clooney

Well, it depends on what he says. Or she. This has nothing to do with George Clooney per se. I just pulled his name out of a stovepipe. Feel free to substitute any celebrity, male or female or other, from A-list to F-list.

The question is this:

Should celebrities speak out on political and social issues, i.e., on matters that, technically, do not reside within the ambit of their professional expertise? And if they do, does … Read More →

WARNING: This Post Contains Language

By Cyberquill 09/15/201410 Comments

Literally doesn’t literally mean literally anymore.

Having had its literal meaning habitually perverted by children and illiterates (i.e., the same segments of society that, as per Prof. William Strunk of The Elements of Style-fame, are apt to think inflammable means not combustible) over so many years, dictionaries, always struggling to strike a balance between their prescriptivist vs. descriptivist inclinations, have begun to cave to popular usage and list “figuratively,” “virtually,” and “in effect” among the definitions of literally. Not merely introducing a heretofore unrelated line of meanings, these novel definitions represent the very concept the term literally was intended to contrast with, thus turning literally into a contranym, a word with at least two meanings that contradict one another.

Words often change meaning over time, a process known as semantic drift. Sometimes, a word loses its original meaning in favor of a new one, as was the case with … Read More →

The Belief-Conduct Dichotomy

By Cyberquill 09/04/20142 Comments

Your beliefs don't make you a better person. Your behavior does.

According to the blackboard, your behavior is king. Sounds reasonable—for what good are your most laudable beliefs and attitudes if they’re never put into practice?

What does it matter what you say if you then turn around and do the opposite?

No matter how sincerely you may believe in generosity, if you never give or share, how generous are you?

No matter how ardently you may advocate courage, if, at the first inkling of danger, you’re invariably the first one to seek shelter under the nearest sofa, how courageous are you?

You may say you love dogs, but the sight of your beaten and half-starved pet spaniel tells … Read More →

What’s in YOUR smartphone?

By Cyberquill 09/01/20142 Comments

Jennifer Lawrence

It has been more than four hours since Jennifer Lawrence’s nude pictures were leaked, and millions of of panicked men have started calling their doctors.

If I were an agent or publicist in the entertainment field, I’d be advising my clients (at least the physically attractive ones among them) to always keep a suite of alluring nude selfies stored in their phones in hopes that a savvy and ruthless hacker with zero regard for other people’s privacy will find them and … Read More →

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