Reading “No Normal (3 of 5)”

The big development of issue three of Ms. Marvel is that Kamala, after having now done the superhero thing on impulse, reaches the point in her growth into Ms. Marvel where she deliberates and chooses to be a superhero.  We get to see more of her exploring how her powers work (this time through internet research!) and, always delightful, some details about her normal life.

This cover’s the first good look at Kamala’s finished costume; we’ll be getting its origin story in the next issue. (Image credit: Comic Vine; cover by Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson)

We begin the issue the morning after Kamala’s adventures at the party.  Zoe has taken her rescue as an opportunity to become a local celebrity, giving an interview to the news about how she’s learned “so much from [Ms. Marvel] about being responsible and helping people and stuff.”  Apparently Kamala was teaching by example, since she panicked and bolted from the scene once a crowd showed up to question her.  Zoe pops up again later in the issue when Kamala is at school where it becomes clear that she’s been gradually embellishing her account of her rescue all weekend (she’s added a conversation that Kamala definitely didn’t have with Zoe about her potential to do better than getting drunk and falling off a pier).  The key thing to note about Zoe here is that she demonstrates a pattern of centering herself in the narrative.  The difference in demeanor between the television interview, where Zoe appears to be at least mildly aware of her own good fortune, and her telling the story to her high school hangers-on is pretty marked; Zoe would rather elevate her own part in the incident rather than admit that it was all just a bunch of awkward bad luck on the part of pretty much everyone.  I know that Zoe’s arc goes in a generally positive direction, so it’s interesting to track in the early issues how she makes tiny bits of progress before falling backwards into her established patterns.

Kamala reacts to the news that she’s on the news (though no one knows that it’s her) with some understandable trepidation.  She did just do the superheroing, and in the harsh light of the day after that probably seems like a relatively rash decision.

I know that Kamala’s distressed about the news, but that’s not nearly as important as taking a moment to appreciate that Adrian Alphona totally nails bed hair. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

Fortunately for us, instead of dwelling on her dismay that her alias is now the talk of Jersey, Kamala bounces back and gets ready to go to mosque (“Yes!  Ready!  Ready for life!“).  This is a really charming section because we get to see more of Kamala and Nakia’s relationship in action, particularly in a setting that’s really only available to them.  The argument that Kamala has with Sheikh Abdullah (and Nakia’s observation that she shouldn’t bother) is especially interesting because it highlights how Muslim religious communities can have the same sorts of disagreements and debates that are common in any other faith (the fact that Abdullah entertains Kamala’s arguments even though he clearly disagrees and finds them a little annoying speaks really well to the atmosphere of the mosque; even though it’s a relatively conservative community, they’re still willing to allow members to question and explore their faith).  With every passing issue it becomes clearer and clearer that Wilson did a lot of work to incorporate elements of everyday life for the Muslim community that Kamala belongs to.

The bulk of the issue follows Kamala muddling through the Monday after the party.  She fastidiously avoids Bruno during her free period (she’s still angry with him for snitching on her about the party, and she’s also too busy doing internet research to see if anyone else has ever had sudden shape shifting powers and the wherewithal to document such strangeness; they apparently haven’t, which is a little weird given it’s the Marvel Universe).  She also has a sudden power spasm that leaves her hand giant sized, forcing her to seek out a hiding place while she tries to get it under control.  Desperation not to be caught turns into elation at the realization that she can apply her understanding of Newtonian physics to her powers and simulate super strength by increasing her size.  The fact that she learns all this while trashing a gym locker room is alternately hilarious and dismaying, but totally believable (teenagers make bad choices, y’all).  When she gets caught (the coach is suitably incurious as to how Kamala could have destroyed a locker room), Kamala gets assigned afternoon detention, which of course compounds her travails with her parents, who are expecting her to come home immediately after school.

I love Kamala’s smile here; Alphona nails the look of “I know there’s no way I’m going to get away with this, but that isn’t going to stop me from trying.” (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

Well, technically you’re a first responder, but we get what you’re saying. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

Before rushing home though, Kamala decides that she needs to try to hash things out with Bruno.  This is the big turn of the issue, because when Kamala sees that Bruno is apparently being held up at gunpoint by a masked robber, she decides that she’s going to jump into the fray and be the hero she’s been pretending to be all weekend.  This moment is different from the one that Kamala had in the last issue because this is less of a spur of the moment decision.  Where she reacted to the emergency with Zoe because she felt like there was no one else around who was in a position to help, here we see her try to call in the authorities first.  Of course, her phone is dead, so that cuts off 911 as an option, but we’re still seeing a progression in Kamala’s decision-making about when to take these sorts of risks (it’s important to note that this is the first time she deliberately puts herself in danger; with Zoe there wasn’t really any risk to Kamala).

The attempt to stop the robbery goes well enough, though Kamala still breaks a bunch of stuff in the store as she’s pummeling the robber (she’s not yet thinking too much about how to employ her powers in ways that aren’t excessively destructive).  More importantly, the robber, in a panic from being attacked by a giant-fisted Captain Marvel, fires the gun that he thought he didn’t have loaded, shooting Kamala in the stomach.

Alphona Background Coolness (ABC’s)

  • Ye Olde Local News Station
  • “GM-O’s Tasty Cereal: Listen to your gut, not the lawsuits”
  • J.C. Electronics
  • Somewhere on West Side Ave.
  • “Fear the mist”
  • Fluffington Post
  • “Dr. Shnoz: Manhattan Mist Poses Medical Risk”
  • “Manhattan Mist 2014: Public Seeks Answers”
  • “Mist Takes Manhattan”
  • “High School Cannibalism Experiment Proves Disasterous [sic]”
  • Islamic Masjid of Jersey City
  • “Welcome Sisters”
  • Radoslav’s Vietnamese Grocery
  • “Homemade meat”
  • “New! Hot Pepper Bubble Tea”
  • A meat cleaver stuck in a parking meter
  • “Rado’s Glorious Banh Mi”
  • “Roundhouse Cola! Beat down your thirst”
  • Asian River Water Classic
  • “Aunties and Androids”
  • “1001 Weddings”
  • “Fair & Pastey”
  • Smushee
  • “Start a fight! Save our prisons”
  • Coles Acedemic [sic] High School
  • “1. Get the stuff 2. mix the stuff”
  • Bloogle!
  • “So you’ve searched for POLYMORPH”
  • “Did you mean… pocket mouth?”
  • “MOCK ME I cheated on Mr. De Luca’s math exam”
  • Books an’ Ting Ting an’ Books
  • Coconut Drops
  • “The Ur-Do’s and Ur-Don’ts of Chillin in Pakistan”
  • Jersey Toads

“Alexander Hamilton” Literary Devices

For whatever reason, the internet gods have decided to bless me with a bunch of traffic for my post from last August, Hamilton and Literary Terms.  I’m kind of dumbfounded over this sudden uptick in interest for a post that was kind of a throwaway exercise that I did because I was having fun with something I was really into at the time and what I was working on for my classes.  When I reflected on the post, I figured it was rather incomplete, since it only offered a few examples of a handful of literary devices in the musical Hamilton.  I knew there were more devices that could have been addressed, but I limited myself just to the ones that the curriculum at my school focused on for tenth grade.

Anyway, I’ve been playing around with that idea and am thinking it might be possible to catalog the literary devices used in various songs in Hamilton.  I’m assuming that most of the traffic I’m seeing is from people looking for examples of literary devices in Hamilton lyrics for their lesson plans, so why not offer up some more resources.  I can’t make any guarantee of quality beyond the fact that I am an English teacher and I have more than passing familiarity with the Hamilton soundtrack.  Still, I’m not paid to do any of this stuff, so remember it’s a labor of love.

The major challenge I’m considering with this project is how to annotate the lyrics themselves.  I think that because the text’s primary format is as a stage musical and a soundtrack, reprinting the lyrics in full shouldn’t be a significant problem, but figuring out a readable system for noting different examples of literary devices will be… a challenge.

Still, we’ll see how it goes.

“Alexander Hamilton”

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten
spot in the Caribbean by Providence impoverished,
In squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

5 The ten-dollar Founding Father without a father
Got a lot farther by working a lot harder
By being a lot smarter, by being a self-starter
By fourteen, they placed him in charge of a trading charter.

And every day while slaves were being slaughtered and carted away
10 Across the waves, he struggled and kept his guard up.
Inside, he was longing for something to be a part of.
The brother was ready to beg, steal, borrow, or barter.

Then a hurricane came, and devastation reigned.
Our man saw his future drip, dripping down the drain.
15 Put a pencil to his temple, connected it to his brain,
And he wrote his first refrain, a testament to his pain.

Well, the word got around, they said, “This kid is insane, man!”
Took up a collection just to send him to the mainland.
Get your education, don’t forget from whence you came,
20 And the world is gonna know your name.
What’s your name, man?

Alexander Hamilton,
My name is Alexander Hamilton,
And there’s a million things I haven’t done,
25 But just you wait, just you wait.

When he was ten his father split, full of it, debt-ridden
Two years later, see Alex and his mother bed-ridden
Half-dead sittin’ in their own sick, the scent thick.

And Alex got better, but his mother went quick.

30 Moved in with a cousin, the cousin committed suicide,
Left him with nothin’ but ruined pride, something new inside,
A voice saying, “Alex, you gotta fend for yourself.”

He started retreatin’ and readin’ every treatise on the shelf.

There would have been nothin’ left to do for someone less astute.
35 He woulda been dead or destitute without a cent of restitution.
Started workin’, clerkin’ for his late mother’s landlord,
Tradin’ sugar cane and rum and all the things he can’t afford.
Scammin’ for every book he can get his hands on,
Plannin’ for the future see him now as he stands on
40 The bow of a ship headed for a new land.
In New York you can be a new man!

In New York you can be a new man. (Just you wait)
In New York you can be a new man. (Just you wait)
In New York you can be a new man.
45 In New York (New York)
Just you wait!

Alexander Hamilton,

We are waiting in the wings for you.

You could never back down.
50 You never learned to take your time.

Oh, Alexander Hamilton,

When America sings for you,
Will they know what you overcame?
Will they know you rewrote your game?
55 The world will never be the same. Oh,

The ship is in the harbor now!
See if you can spot him.

Another immigrant comin’ up from the bottom.

His enemies destroyed his rep; America forgot him.

60 We fought with him.

Me, I died for him.

Me, I trusted him.

Me, I loved him.

And me, I’m the damn fool that shot him.

65 There’s a million things I haven’t done,
But just you wait.

What’s your name, man?

Alexander Hamilton!

Literary Devices

The format for this section will begin with a line reference followed by a listing of examples from the line with any potentially necessary explanation of the devices themselves.

5. allusion – “ten dollar,” reference to Hamilton’s place on contemporary American currency
13. personification – “devastation reigned”
14. metaphor – “future drip, dripping down the drain”
15. metaphor – “connected it to his brain”
19. apostrophe? – Burr switches the subject of his address from the audience to Hamilton himself
20. synecdoche – “the world is gonna know your name,” world representing its human inhabitants
24-5. hyperbole – “there’s a million things I haven’t done / But just you wait, just you wait,” Hamilton does a lot, but he won’t do “a million things”
26. epithet – “debt-ridden” the construction of this line feels similar to epithets found in Anglo-Saxon poems like “Beowulf” (cf. 15, “the Lord, in requital, / Wielder of Glory”)
28. metonymy – “sittin’ in their own sick,” Sick stands in for filth associated with illness like vomit
52. personification – “America sings”
59. personification – “America forgot”

Sound Devices

The tightness of the internal rhymes and other sound devices present a unique challenge in annotation.  What I’ve done here is color coded examples of rhyme, assonance, and consonance to give a visual representation of how the sounds interlock in the lyrics in the first verse of the song.  You can see that assonance is the most common element here, since so much of the straight and slant rhymes of the lyrics depend on coupling similar syllable sounds in much longer words.


How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten
spot in the Caribbean by Providence impoverished,
In squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?


How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten
spot in the Caribbean by Providence impoverished,
In squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?


How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore
And a Scotsman, dropped in the middle of a forgotten
spot in the Caribbean by Providence impoverished,
In squalor, grow up to be a hero and a scholar?

I’m a little rusty on the more advanced literary devices, so I’m reiterating that this may be an imperfect analysis.  If you see anything that you think I missed, feel free to let me know and I’ll see about getting this updated.  Depending on the response, I may continue this project to look at more of the songs from Hamilton, especially since there are a lot of interesting bits strewn about that don’t appear in the introduction.

By Week

I was ill with a cold and had a family gathering to go to this weekend (happy birthday, Dad!), so I am out of time and energy for writing up anything worth reading this week.

On the bright side, I have accrued over seven hundred thirty unique posts on this blog now, which means that if you wanted to, you could read something different that I’ve written every day for two years before you would need to repeat.  I think this is a more interesting milestone than anniversaries (though my fourth one of blog writing is coming up in June) because time passes regardless of investment; it took work for me to put that volume of stuff out on the internet.

So anyway, I’m declaring my prerogative to break when I want to.  Work is in the stressful season with high stakes testing beginning (today, actually), and there are other things in my personal life that I’m trying to navigate which I’m not quite ready to discuss on the blog (in case anyone’s wondering, it’s all good stuff, so please don’t worry about my well being or anything like that).  Here’s hoping that will change once summer gets under way.

I’m Enjoying Crypt of the NecroDancer

I have recently realized that I may actually have a weakness for roguelike games.  After I played Rogue Legacy pretty regularly a few years ago (and then went back and replayed it some more after I got my PS4), I determined that I really like smaller indie games over big AAA titles.  I figured the appeal of Rogue Legacy had more to do with it being a side scrolling mini-metroidvania than the roguelike elements.  Of course, I love any game that has built in upgrade trees (it’s the most entertaining way to trick a player into gradually turning the difficulty down on a game), and Rogue Legacy has that in spades.  In contrast, I don’t get the urge to go back to Don’t Starve very often (alas, my Survivor’s Log series!), largely because the upgrade systems don’t carry over from one game to the next.

Crypt of the NecroDancer logo.png

Game’s title card. (Image credit: Wikipedia)

Enter Crypt of the NecroDancer.  This game is unapologetically a roguelike: randomly generated dungeons, total loss of progress when you die, and upgrades that you don’t get to take with you on subsequent playthroughs.  It should not be a game that so grabs my interest, but it has this catchy dance soundtrack, and the core of the gameplay is something akin to speed chess (I don’t know how accurate this comparison is, because after a while you get used to the tempo of gameplay and it doesn’t feel like you have too little time to think out moves most of the time), and the main character is an awesome lady-type person who is apparently dead but doesn’t realize it.  It’s a patently ridiculous premise, but the execution works really well for me (maybe I just really like rhythm game elements).

I bring all this up because I have wasted so much time in the last two weeks playing this game when I could have been doing one of many other much more productive things.  It’s been such a long time since I had the inclination to play a game as regularly as this one.  I don’t know how long the impulse is going to last; I’m inching my way towards completing the main story, and once I do that I don’t know how much longer I’ll stick around.  The abilities of some of the other unlockable characters are really interesting and give different twists on the main mechanic (the monk is especially infuriating because the first thing you have to do when playing as him is remember that gold will instantly kill you; after so many sessions where it becomes second nature to just move into enemies’ squares to get the loot after you vanquish them, there are a lot of false starts and sudden deaths just before reaching the end of a zone), but they don’t have storylines of their own, which is understandable, if disappointing.  Still, the character mechanics are varied enough that they might be fun for a while longer.

Besides the mechanics, which I think are generally aces all around, the game also has a wonderful aesthetic style.  It’s slightly retro with pixelated graphics and cut scenes that feature low resolution still images of the characters with slightly hammy voice acting.  It’s a blast.

Though I’m not yet done with the story (there’s more after you beat the game with Cadence), I’m getting a huge kick out of the decision to center it around three generations of female adventurers.  Cadence’s father, Dorian, is the catalyst for the story, setting off to find a magical golden lute that can resurrect the dead after his wife Melody dies, but he disappears before the main action of the story and plays a relatively minor role when you reach the point where you learn about his fate.  I also like that the designers built in the option to palette swap Cadence so that she can be either Black or white (though I am disappointed that they didn’t include modified artwork for the cut scenes that reflect when she’s reskinned as Black; it’d also be nice if they had included palette swaps for all the characters).

Overall, I have to say that Crypt of the NecroDancer is a solid game to pass the time with.  If you like rhythm games and dungeon crawling, it would make a good investment.

Reading “No Normal (2 of 5)”

I didn’t comment on it last week, but the first issue ends with Kamala emerging from a cocoon as the original Ms. Marvel in her iconic black swimsuit costume.  The reason I didn’t get into it then is because it was an ending splash page, and very typically, that final page in an issue serves as a sort of preview of what to look forward to in the next one by leaving things off on some kind of cliffhanger.  We get to see Kamala explore this turn of events more fully in the second issue.

Cover to Ms. Marvel #2. (Cover by Jamie McKelvie & Matthew Wilson)

Since this is the first full issue where Kamala has her powers, a lot of time is spent exploring how they work, what Kamala’s limitations are, and considering how she accesses them.  Essentially, Kamala is a polymorph; she can change her shape at will.  In this issue we see her making heavy use of her ability to change her appearance (she hasn’t developed her own costume yet, so she needs some way to hide her identity) and what will become her more signature ability of fluctuating the shape and mass of her limbs to accomplish various feats.  In time we’ll see Kamala disguise herself less and less, but it’s a great use of her powers in this first outing.  The core of Kamala’s character that was established in the previous issue was the tension between her heritage and her desire to fit in with other American kids.  Literally turning into her idealized version of her personal hero, a blonde white woman who saves the day in a swimsuit, is an excellent device for depicting that internal struggle on the page.  Throughout this issue Kamala switches between her normal appearance and Ms. Marvel classic a couple times when she is worried about being seen by other people.  The public situations are clearly tense for her (she specifically notes that when she sees Zoe she reflexively changes shape, like she’s throwing up a “fake smile”), and the default to her hero self-image is a way of coping (it’s telling that Kamala’s only able to resume her regular form when she’s alone and able to relax).  A detail about her Ms. Marvel disguise that I find especially charming is in the way Alphona draws her with the sash wrapped around her waist to cover her butt.  Even if Kamala’s shape-shifted to look like an adult woman, she lacks the confidence of Carol Danvers (and you just don’t sexualize teenage girls, jeez).  It’s a nice visual nod to the fact that Kamala’s still just playing a part here, and it’s one that she’s not really comfortable with.

This really is the best battle cry. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

Mixed in with the uncertainty are moments of clarity for Kamala where she visibly groks the potential of her powers to help people.  The central bit of action for the issue is Kamala’s rescuing Zoe Zimmer from drowning after her drunk boyfriend Josh accidentally drops her into the river.  This sequence is Kamala’s first Big Damn Hero moment and also develops characters who could have remained flat mundane antagonists.  Josh is a doofus, but he genuinely cares about Zoe and doesn’t flee when she falls off the dock (he’s actually preparing to jump in to save her when Kamala shows up to intervene), and Zoe, while still obnoxious, is genuinely grateful to her savior and promises not to drink anymore (she’s a teenager, so we’ll see how long that promise lasts, but at least the sentiment is nice).  This scene also gives us the first taste of how Kamala connects her drive to be a superhero with her faith (and her battle cry, which is objectively the best battle cry).

Imagine this panel being set to Ludacris circa 2004. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

The second half of the issue moves away from Kamala’s burgeoning superhero life to give us a bit more of her family life.  She’s in big trouble since she sneaked out to go to the party.  Aamir offers to avenge her when he initially thinks that her squirreliness about her night is because she was hurt somehow (he plays the overprotective big brother beautifully), but once he learns that she’s unharmed he changes gears quickly to let her know that their parents know what she did, and they are not pleased.  Kamala’s mother is especially irate, and in her scolding of Kamala she brings up some other old family tensions, like the fact that Aamir is practicing his religious devotion to the exclusion of actually getting a job and that the children are disobedient because Kamala’s father moved the family to America for his job in the first place.  Kamala’s father is much less incensed in this particular moment, expressing disappointment that Kamala is keeping secrets from him, but respecting her right to privacy.  He only tells her that she’s grounded until she proves to them that she’s trustworthy (a reasonable punishment for sneaking out of the house at night) and suggests that everyone get some sleep rather than having a big family argument in the middle of the night.

I just want you to tell me where I can one of those sweet shirts. (Artwork by Adrian Alphona, colors by Ian Herring, letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna)

I really love this scene with the Khans (I’m probably going to say this a lot; any time Kamala’s family is featured things are delightful).

Some other assorted notes of appreciation include the total awesomeness of the sweatshirt Kamala borrows from the homeless guy, the fact that Bruno was so concerned about Kamala that he called her parents (not snitching has its limits), and Kamala’s realization that the practical side of looking like Carol Danvers is much more aggravating than she anticipated.


  • Sal’s Used Cheese
  • Free Range Maple Syrup
  • Fish that gets caught when Kamala saves Zoe and then wiggles its way back into the water
  • Random owl chillin’ on the pier
  • “HAIRCUTS!!  $5!  turnips -> $1 Keys – SOLD OUT”
  • Portrait of someone posing in front of a wicket with a cricket bat
  • “All Sorts of Math!”
  • “It was a stooone groove”

I Just Went to the March for Science!

On Saturday I went to the local gathering of the March for Science.  It was a very different vibe from the march that I went to the night of the inauguration.

Let me back up.

Since 45’s inauguration I, like many other people who are not happy with his election, wanted to find some way to help contribute to resisting his power grabs and attempts to hurt people that don’t fit into his category of humanity.  In the intervening months I’ve become more sensitive to following what’s going on with my members of Congress (like many Republicans, they tend to avoid actually addressing the concerns of their moderate and liberal constituents) and trying to pressure them on issues that matter to me.  In the realm of scientific research, I’m not a massive advocate, though I recognize its importance to pretty much the whole of modern society.  Rachael and some other friends of ours are big science nerds, and as soon as they heard about the March for Science they made plans to attend the nearest rally.  Originally we were going to go to the march in Atlanta, but the city’s highways are in the middle of an apoplectic fit, so we figured that wouldn’t be such a smart idea just in terms of dealing with the traffic.  Fortunately, there was a satellite march planned for Athens, so we went to that one instead.

There were a few problems.

The size of the rally was perfectly cromulent, but after everyone had gathered the organizers announced that they had not been able to secure a permit to march because their event coincided with G-Day, the annual spring scrimmage of the University of Georgia football team.  Football is more important than Jesus in the South (and game days bring lots of money for Athens businesses), so I’m guessing the city didn’t want a bunch of nerds marching around downtown killing everyone’s buzz or something.  The organizers suggested that even though we couldn’t legally march, there was nothing stopping the assembled crowd from dispersing and just sort of… wandering around with our signs proudly displayed.  They’d even printed up little index cards with helpful talking points for anyone who wanted to engage football fans on why scientific research is important and the current administration is bad for it.

I get that you do what you can when the city denies you a permit to demonstrate, but this alternate tactic did not strike me as the most potent way to transmit a message.

Another problem that the local rally had was with its speaker line up.  This was clearly an event organized by professors from the university, and they weighted the roster towards people that they figured would have prestige among the local science community.  The problem is that the people speaking were overwhelmingly older, white, and male.  Among the crowd, there were a few people of south and east Asian descent, but virtually no Black or Latinx people.  When part of your messaging is supposed to be about the universal importance of science to everyone’s lives, you should probably think more carefully about how you represent that on your stage.  Athens is a college town, but it also has a major Black community, and when most of the speakers come from the university and the crowd is mostly white, you’re unconsciously sending a message that this is an issue only for educated white people.

Also, most of the speakers were just boring.  They spoke like they were giving a lecture rather than working a crowd.  I heard at least one protester near me say that they needed to get a rabble rouser on the stage to get the crowd more engaged.  The last three speakers (all women, coincidentally) were much better, and it was a good move to save them for last; they seemed to understand with their speeches that they needed to deliver a succinct, easily digestible message that the people could hold on to.

In the end, I’m not sure how successful the local rally ended up being.  It felt like the people who showed up were already passionate about science, but the messaging didn’t do much to invite passersby to engage with what was going on.  In an action that was meant to let people know that science is not an ivory tower pursuit, it felt remarkably like we were all hanging out in an ivory tower.

The reason I have these criticisms is largely because just before our group went downtown to the rally, I was thinking about the weirdness of the evangelical mindset.  I read this article by Molly Worthen (it’s a New York Times piece, so be aware of your free article count) that discusses how evangelicalism’s formulation and adoption of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy has fostered an epistemology that asserts the existence of objective truth, but places it in a position where it’s only accessible through supernatural means.  This mindset led to a fear of cultural relativism, where non-Christians, not knowing the truth, assume that values are all relative and various actions are permissible in different contexts (in contrast with the set of rules that God has laid down that must be followed at all times in all situations).  The irony of this line of thinking is that white evangelicals have now succumbed to their own relativism in support of 45.  His moral repugnance is something to overlook because he does things that they like, never mind the fact he undermines everything white evangelical Christianity has purported to stand for.

Anyway, that’s all to say that this is a group that has built up an epistemic bubble that allows them to dismiss objective reality.  Science, as the rest of us like to conceptualize it, is a method of thought that is supposed to help us uncover objective reality about the physical world.  If the purpose of the march was to promote the idea that science is helpful to everyone, then there needed to be some more thought placed in how to deliver that message, particularly to people who fundamentally distrust science because of their epistemology.  At the rally that I attended in Athens, I didn’t see evidence of that kind of thoughtfulness.  Of course, this might all be moot; I’m a cynic when it comes to believing that white evangelicals can be brought out of their bubbles, and the current unpleasantness argues strongly to me that it’s not worth trying to compromise anymore.

Some Stuff That’s Nifty (4/21/17)

I bought Crypt of the NecroDancer and Thomas Was Alone last weekend.  I have not been doing much writing this week.  Therefore, have a small link roundup while I try to gather my wits to write about something more interesting.


  • “Georgia’s 6th is a Democratic Win” by Jamelle Bouie.  Bouie is one of my go-to sources for political analysis, and it’s really heartening to see that things are trending in a better direction since the November election.  I would have been happier if John Ossoff had won outright, but if we see this sort of performance in other special elections over the next few months, then I think Bouie’s point about this signalling a sea change in the electorate is a solid one.
  • “Georgia’s Progressive Renaissance” by Michelle Goldberg.  Related to the Bouie piece, a look at the grassroots movement that made Ossoff competitive.  I am rarely proud of my home state these days, but this is one of those times.
  • “Still a Factor” by Isaac Chotiner.  Bill O’Reilly’s ouster should have come years ago, but we take our victories where we can get them these days.  Chotiner discusses how the worst parts of O’Reilly have metastasized in the form of 45, who has pretty much the same schtick, but with slightly less self-awareness.

Current Events


  • “Final Fantasy VII’s Cast, Revised.”  The artist featured here did some pieces where he redesigned the core cast of Final Fantasy VII as Black people (and in Barret’s case, as an Asian dude).  I quite like it.


  • “A Match Made In Heaven” by Molly Worthen.  This is partly a review of Frances Fitzgerald’s new book The Evangelicals, which details the history of the white evangelical movement in America.  It’s mostly an exploration of how the core values of white evangelicalism led to adherents’ overwhelming support of 45 (*cough*besidesracism*cough*).


  • “Kendrick Lamar’s Complicated Political Score-Settling” by Spencer Kornhaber.  I’ve only listened to Damn a couple times since it came out last week; hip-hop still isn’t a musical genre I take to easily, but I liked Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly and Untitled Unmastered enough to want to sink into his new offering.  All the reviews I’ve seen suggest that there’s a lot here to love once you pick it apart.

Mental Health

  • “Semicolons and Blank Spaces” by Ben Sheppard.  I met Ben years ago when I first moved back to Athens.  He was getting ready to go to some far off northern place to study theology.  We hit it off so we did the Facebook friend thing, and ever since I’ve followed what he’s been up to with interest.  Ben’s a smart guy who has always been really honest about his experiences with depression, and in this essay he puts a lot of things in perspective.