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Michael Shannon

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    Reading, RPGs, movies, restaurants, music (blues, classical, swing-era jazz, folk, and the poetry of lyrics in any musical genre), the ever-unfolding discoveries in the sciences, breathing. Oh, I suppose I'll include family and friends; they make all the prior things better.
  1. Grimm, just a thought: How many of the customers you don't like are thinking of you exactly the way you think about them? Kate's reply, in one way or another, pretty much holds true for all of us. Her two-cents are worth more than the sum of their coinage.
  2. Grazie, Sleeper! But I'd better warn you: I'm from the state crazy enough to elect Jesse Ventura to the governer's office.
  3. "For such is the nature of men that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent or more learned, yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves ..." (from Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan). One of the (wincing) joys of reading the WoT for me is the many instances of characters, whether central, middling, or incidental, displaying this very human trait. Nynaeve, perhaps, moreso than others; her almost constant frustration with everyone that she cannot bully into doing things her way, leading to her yanking on her braid: it's a bit surprising that she doesn't have a bald spot at the braid's roots. The hard-liners in the Ajahs, the Game players, men and women in regard to each other, all can see it in others yet miss it in themselves (along with the poor, this, too, shall always be with us): it appears to be the default PoV for our confirmation biases. Sadly, politics lately seem to be a magnet for it. Doubly so, since at the base of our values, be they ethical/moral/political/religious, is our reaction/response to our perception of injustice. Whether one trends to the left or the right, what gets our dander up the quickest is the recognition of a situation or circumstance that appears to be very unfair. In puzzling out what exactly are the core nuggets for political extremes, I have drawn the following conclusions, using my dim recollections of the New Testament of the Bible as corollaries. (Caveat: there is a lot more to both conservatives and liberals than can be found in this blog.) On the left is a deeply felt conviction that everyone deserves at least the minimum level of necessities in line with the World Health Organization's standards for food, clothing, shelter and health care, corresponding to Jesus' admonition that however we treat the down and out is the same as if we were doing it to him. The vast disparities in wealth and resources are to many (not just liberals), in the face of the overwhelming suffering of so many, a moral abomination. After all, Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temple, and told the rich man that he must give all of his riches away in order to deserve salvation. (I would like to believe that "all of his riches" simply means everything above a livable wage.) Just as strongly felt, on the conservative side, is a belief in personal responsibility. Albeit that the American legacy of values and laws posit that we are all created equal, the practical reality is that we all differ in our physical and mental capacities. In the Biblical parable of the servants left with different amounts of talents, the choices of individuals mattered: life offers no guarantees (this is the closest thing I can recall in the Bible that applies, although I'm no expert). Most conservatives are not rich. Being taxed when insufficient controls exist to prevent corruption or incompetence from leeching funds away from their intended good is just as unjust to people who scrabble for every small success they've achieved as to the destitute. Cheats and slackers are abominable to hard-working people (not just conservatives). Now, although there may be exceptions on the extremes, compassion is not limited to the left, nor is pragmatic understanding about financial limitations the sole province of the right. Where we draw the lines must be a result of compromise, not fiat. If we were all of one heart and one mind, it might make sense to carve those lines in stone. As we are, however, it's better to draw them in more mutable sand. I'll get off my soap box now.
  4. A lot of fans complain about the seeming slow pace of some of the mid-tier books, but let me offer this PoV: compare the WoT to the years leading up to and including WW2. A lot happened between the burning of the Reichstag in 1933 (comparable in a pivotal sense to Dumai's Wells) and the invasion of Poland several years later; events in the WoT are actually going a whole lot faster than that. Real people lived, struggled, dreamed and despaired in those years. The large cast of characters, the mix and clashing of cultures, the epic scale of this tale beggar my capacity for wonder. For all that an author delivers in a story, there was even more that was considered and had to be discarded along the way. RJ's efforts in this regard go beyond heroic. Like earthquakes, history grinds its way to the thresholds that abruptly change everything. Years ago, a wall poster caught my attention. It said, "If your dream can be achieved in a lifetime, you're not thinking big enough." In very bittersweet ways, Robert Jordan and the Wheel of Time are that poster's child. P.S. Harriet's choice of Brandon Sanderson to take up the banner in the Battle for the Light was spot on.
  5. Al'Jav Avdragoras. Aahh, withdrawal. :( As much as I await volume 14 and the culmination of the Grand Tale, I also dread it, knowing there will be no more to come. Of course, that's where re-reading the series comes in, with all the insight of previous readings informing the reader and enriching the experience. Find a shady spot on the slopes of the Dragonmount, a tumbler of sweet tea, and visit your old friends again. -Komomachi.
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