Bang Bang Bang

This is interesting: A judicial ruling that actually interprets the second amendment! That almost never happens. What’s more, it’s entirely conceivable that it might be appealed all the way to the Supreme Court, which would be a big ol’ ball of fun, judicially speaking. I think the last major Supreme Court ruling on the second amendment was in the early 20th century, although I could be wrong on that. It’s been a while, in any event.

From what I read of the ruling, incidentally, I’m in agreement with the majority. I’m not a huge fun of people running around with guns, but philosophically speaking I’m even less of a fan of people not running around with guns, and I do suspect the Founding Fathers wanted people to have their rifles and pokey weapons on the argument that only having soldiers and government types being armed was not part of their thinking. The drawback to this is you have kids accidentally shooting their friends when they play with daddy’s gun, people blowing their faces off when they’re cleaning a loaded rifle, and Wayne LaPierre being treated seriously instead of sucking quarters out of public phones, which by all rights should be how he makes his living. But these are these costs we must bear.

Incidentally, this is one of those places where my thinking has changed over the years. Back in my college years and early 20s I was pretty anti-gun and wouldn’t have minded a Constitutional Amendment to outlaw them. In time I realized I didn’t trust the government all that much, and certainly the last six years have solidified that idea pretty damn well. I still don’t like guns, and I still don’t buy into the various shibboleths like “an armed society is a polite society.” I don’t think an armed society is a polite society; I think an armed society is just as rude and obnoxious as any other, and the only difference is that your more crazed members of it will shoot at you rather than, say, beat you to death with a lead pipe or kick you in the kidneys until you’re pissing blood. But I recognize now that my personal dislike of firearms does not rise to the level of Constitutional revision.

(In case any of you are wondering, this realization predates my move to Ohio; hangin’ with the local rednecks was not a motivating factor.)

Going back to the ruling, I do find especially interesting the legal argument for the dissent, which suggests that as Washington DC is not a state, the Second Amendment doesn’t apply to it. This would by necessity mean that none of the amendments apply, which also seems to suggest that the Constitution is null and void in the District of Columbia. I’m not entirely sure I like that line of argument; on the other hand if the citizens of DC ever wanted to convince conservatives of the need for the District to have statehood, this would probably be the way. But maybe I’m missing something here. One of you lawyer types will have to tell me if I am.


I Can’t Believe It. Just. Cannot. Believe it.

What? The FBI using the Patriot Act as cover to illegally obtain personal information on Americans? How could that possibly be?

What? Newt Gingrich was having an extramarital affair while he was up in arms about Monica Lewinsky? I’m shocked!

What? My fluffy adorable cat a vicious carnivore who disemboweled a rodent and left its bloody remains in my garage? The horror!

Clearly, a day of disillusionment all the way around. I may never trust my government, or my cat, again.

I think I need to lie down.


The Scathing Review Winner, or, This May Be the Best Whatever Entry Ever

Oh, God. I think the Write a Scathing Review contest is my favorite contest ever. I laughed so hard at some of these I damn near barfed myself. It also made me glad that the books these comments are putatively reviewing don’t actually exist. Although one or two of them seem like interesting ideas… Hmmmm. Probably better not.

Suffice to say that I had an extremely difficult time choosing one as the best; in the end I went with the one I thought had the best overall balance of humor, disgust, plausible explanation for my craptacularity, and of course regretful pity at how much I suck. This is the one, contributed by Tim. Tim, send me your address so I can send along your book.

Although Tim won the contest, there were so many Coke-through-the-nose bits from the contest entries that I can’t let them go unremarked. So below you’ll find some of my favorite quotes from the entries.

You all are beautiful, creative, evil people. I love that about you. Thanks for having fun with this.


“Right now I feel like scooping my eyeballs out with a spoon and cleansing the sockets with bleach.”

“Choose Your Own Adventure is dead. Someone forgot to tell John Scalzi.”

“Mr. Scalzi, ballooning sales numbers to the contrary, beginning each of your books with a chapter-long fart joke is not the way to win fans.”

“The [book] collects the poorly edited ravings of a necrotic brain.”

“This reviewer would go one step further and recommend that all works by John Scalzi be burned, that no one, even in criminology, should teach using the works of John Scalzi, and that the name John Scalzi be forgotten entirely and that his ashes, when he is caught and brought to justice, be strewn upon a public urinal.”

“Though I applaud experimentation with forms of structure and presentation, what possible justification can he offer for subjecting us to a work that contains four chapters consisting solely of haiku in transliterated Sumerian?”

“The fact that this book actually managed to make it to market without imploding from its own foul weight is compelling proof that there is no God.”

“To call his new work ‘tripe’ would be an insult to the first, second, and third stomachs of ruminants worldwide. [This] is best described as sub-tripe; perhaps originating from the abomasum or duodenum regions.”

“Scalzi’s raw loathing for his readers leaps out like one Central Park flasher after another.”

“There comes a time when necrophilia begins to look not just bad but tacky, and John Scalzi’s annual humping-Heinlein exercise in techno-fetishism and military hagiography has reached it.”

“Scalzi’s new romance novel answers with a resounding ‘no’ the question can a writer can creatively bounce back from a year of heroin and horse tranquilizer abuse.”

“There is nothing redeemable about this novel, except for the price you’d get per pound of paper from a recycler.”

“In one of John Scalzi’s earlier works, a character is farted to death. After reading Scalzi’s latest, I know how the poor bastard feels.”

“If you want a thrilling plot full of interplanetary intrigue, or likable, well-drawn characters, look elsewhere; if you ever wanted an excruciatingly detailed description of how to have intercourse with a barnyard animal in zero gravity, well, then you’re covered.”

“Like being seduced or tickled by an incompetent lover, Scalzi’s newest effort leaves one with the manhandled sensation of one who overcompensates with lack of finesse by lustily barking enthusiasm.”

“This book covers about every way a person could misuse human excrement.”

“As far as the writing itself, someone must have mixed a cephalotropic drug in with Scalzi’s Viagra.”

“Reads as so much Vogon poetry.”

“Mr Peebles, the office gerbil, has given a far more honest and copious critique of Mr Scalzi’s work than is possible here.”

“Had this reviewer actually paid for this book, rather than receiving an ARC, it might have been found burning merrily in the grate. It certainly would have provided more entertainment there.”

“For 35, count ’em, 35 pages, John describes the things to which he’s taped bacon.”

“Scalzi is the only author I know of whose fellows rigged an awards ceremony just so they could hand him a trophy with the words ‘Philip K.’ rubbed out.”

“Introducing an innocent and unsuspecting reader to Scalzi’s writing with [this book] would be like introducing young boys to John Wayne Gacy.”

“If you are considering buying this book, let me suggest an alternative course of action. Take twenty dollars out of your wallet, burn it, then slam your genitalia in a car door several times. This will re-create the same general experience while saving you a lengthy trip to the store.”

“I can only suggest that Scalzi snake out his occluded neural pathways and start over.”

“This books sucks so much it might well be the end of the universe as we know it.”

“If the rumours as to his eventual destination are true, then we can only hope that the ashrams of northern India can help him to a better perspective than he displays in the pitiable final effort of his writing career.”

“I keep watching CNN to see if there’s a late breaking news story informing us that aliens have abducted Scalzi, leaving a drooling, slack jawed creature in his place.”

“Don’t buy it. If you must buy it, for the love of all that is good, don’t read it.”

“Mr. Scalzi: If hope is the thing with feathers, sir, then you are the thing there is no hope for. Unless you’re hiding your feathers somewhere. Which I doubt.”

Did I mention I love you all? Well, I do. And I take comfort in knowing that no review of an actual book I have written will be as cleverly vicious as these.


Those Industrious Australian Scalzis

It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Australian arm of the Scalzi clan is the one that has all the ambitious folks in it; in addition to the previously mentioned Scalzi Produce agricultural empire run by Pat Scalzi, there’s also God’s Hill Winery, run by a fellow named Charlie Scalzi. God’s Hill is a boutique winery producing Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz and Merlot, and apparently word on these wines gets around. Note this review of the 2002 vintage of the cabernet I found in the Sunday Business Post in Ireland, which gave the wine a 94 rating:

Tiny parcels of the best cabernet sauvignon from an already small 30-acre vineyard go into making God’s Hill wines. This cabernet cuvée is a simply epic creation. Opaque black in the glass, the wash is a wall of concentrated fruit alive with a riot of delicious dark chocolate, crushed blackberry, prune, caramel and even eucalyptus touches. A very fine wine.

See, now. That’s a review worth having. It makes me wish I actually drank alcohol. Well, Krissy does; indeed, she was enjoying an Australian wine just the other evening. Maybe I’ll get some from her. My understanding is that God’s Hill Wines are now beginning to be available in the US, so I’ll have to track down the distributor here in country (it’s in Texas somewhere).

Learning about God’s Hill naturally led me to learn more about Australian wine-making, because I’m like that, and it turns out that where God’s Hill’s winery is (a little town called Lyndoch — see it here on Google Maps), is smack dab in the Barossa region of South Australia, which I am led to understand is very much the analogue of the Napa Valley in California, i.e., positively riddled with wineries and places where Down Under oenophiles can go and get their Sideways groove on, although hopefully without the rants about merlot and the whole “getting one’s nose broken by an outraged lover” thing.

Indeed the Barossa Vintage Festival is just a month away now — there’s still time to book! I shall not be able to go myself — I have other commitments, alas, and it does take place on the entire other side of the planet, which makes nipping out and back problematic. But you should go. And have some God’s Hill wine while you’re there.

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