"[R]eligions are like glow worms; they shine only when it's dark. A certain amount of ignornce is the condition of all religions, the element in which alone they can exist."
—Arthur Schopenhauer, Religion, A Dialogue
(Our Quote of the Week is taken from The Heretic's Handbook of Quotations, Charles Bufe, ed. When we're in the mood, we change our Quotation of the Week between 15:00 and 18:00 GMT on Monday mornings; ditto for our Definition of the Week.)
Definition of the Week
LANDLORD, n. A pillar of society, as necessary to its existence as a tick is to a hound.
Our Definition of the Week is taken from
The Devil's Dictionaries (Second Edition, revised & expanded): The Best of The Devil's Dictionary, by Ambrose Biercee, and
The American Heretic's Dictionary, by Chaz Bufe. This week's definition is by Bufe.
Publishers Weekly reviewed our new science fiction novel, The Watcher, by Nicholas P. Oakley, in their November 15, 2013 issue. Here's the complete review:
Nicholas P. Oakley. See Sharp (IPG, dist.), $12.95 trade paper
(230p) ISBN 978-1-937276-45-4
"Tian's people are hunter-gatherer nomads determined to preserve their consensus-driven, nonhierarchical society at all costs; by their lights, they are a free people. They are also abjectly poor, brutally conformist, willfully ignorant, and incapable of mustering a useful response to the predatory Qah raiders. Exiled because of her nonconformity, Tian encounters 578-MORI-AO142, one of the enigmatic Watchers; from "Mori," Tian learns much about the greater universe that her people have rejected, a universe whose brutal conflicts are about to transform her world and Tian herself. Oakley's ambitions are greater than his current skill-the frequent flashbacks are particularly obtrusive-but he provides a degree of complexity in what could very easily have been a one-sided didactic novel. This ambivalent examination of an idealist society and its less than ideal behavior offers the hope that Oakley will grow into a significant SF novelist."
Science Fiction Sale
Searching for a perfect gift for the science fiction fan in your life? From now through Christmas we're offering a bundle of all six of our science fiction novels for $35 ppd., a 55% discount from list price of $77.70:
- The Watcher, by Nicholas P. Oakley
- Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia, by Zeke Teflon
- The Hour of Lead, by Kathleen De Grave
- The Messiah Game, Part I: A Comedy of Terrors, by Tom Flynn
- The Messiah Game, Part II: The Messiah Emerges, by Tom Flynn
- The Messiah Game, Part III: The Destroyer's Creed, by Tom Flynn
(This offer good only for domestic [USA] orders.)
Here are brief descriptions and excerpts from the reviews of the other novels in the sci-fi bundle:
- Free Radicals: A Novel of Utopia and Dystopia, by Zeke Teflon, takes a sharp, darkly humorous look at political repression, interstellar colonization, political and religious cults, and playing the blues in dive bars in the late 22nd century.
"Solidly entertaining . . . reminiscent of early Mick Farren" —Publishers Weekly (online)
"[T]he plot holds the reader's interest and should appeal to a fairly broad audience." —Booklist Online
"[Free Radicals] is among the best future-shock reads in years. . . . If we lived in the '60s and '70s—when audience-rattling paperbacks like Naked Lunch were cheap, plentiful and available on pharmacy-spinner racks— critics would hail Free Radicals as a masterpiece." —Tucson Weekly
"Absolutely funny. . . . A very enjoyable read: . . . humorously offensive entertainment with a big dose of reality that made me laugh out loud." —westernsfa.org
- The Hour of Lead, by Kathleen De Grave, is set in a near-future Kansas beset by catastrophic climate change. This novel of ever-shifting realities explores how individual choices affect society, how careerism and academic ambition affect medical experiments, and how local solutions affect global problems.
"As a dystopic look down the road we're on, The Hour of Lead has less politics than Orwell's 1984, more climate change, more technology, and more lateral thinking. As a result, Weyland [the protagonist] manages to be a bit more heroic than Winston Smith." —westernsfa.org
- The Messiah Game (trilogy), by Tom Flynn. Tom's far-future tale of Arn Parek, a conniving messiah figure on a ravaged, post-apocalyptic world, trace's Arn's rise from simple con man to cult figurehead of a marauding army, and concludes with a vivid description of Arn's descent into madness and the apocalyptic ending of his military adventures.
"The twining yarns of the multiple plots weave seductively and the reader cares about the characters and their conditions." —San Diego Union Tribune
"Endlessly thought-provoking. Tremendous fun." —Infinity Plus
- Culture Wars: The Threat to Your Family and Your Freedom, by Marie Alena Castle. Boldly stated and passionately argued, this wide-ranging book analyzes the impact religion has on culture and daily life in the United States. Culture Wars delves into the theology of intrusive religions, and goes on to shows that many of our laws are based in religious belief and have harmful effects on individuals and society.
"In this hard-hitting book, longtime Minnesota activist Castle exhaustively catalogues the myriad threats to religious freedom and church-state separation posed by clericalists, fundamentalists, and their political allies and enablers." —Free Inquiry
- The Best of Social Anarchism, Howard Ehrlich and a.h.s. boy editors. Social Anarchism is one of the longest-running and most respected anarchist journals in the United States. Since its appearance in 1980, the journal has published hundreds upon hundreds of articles by writers such as Janet Biehl, Brian Martin, Brian Morris, and Colin Ward.
At over 400 pages, this massive collection contains an introduction by Jeff Shantz, Howard Ehrlich's highly amusing history of the journal, and Social Anarchism's 30 best articles divided into five major categories: 1) Theory; 2) Practice; 3) Education; 4) Notable historic figures; 5) Contemporary voices.
- In January, we'll issue The Youngest Bishop in England, Robert Bridgstock's powerful memoir of life in the Mormon Church and a jaw-dropping exposé of that church, which is all the more astonishing because Bridgstock relies primarily upon official Mormon sources for documentation.
Sharp and Pointed features new writing by many of our authors—political and religious opinion pieces, science fiction reviews, true and not-so-true stories, and much more. To give you an idea of the blog contents, here's a recent post.
Economic Red Herrings
by Chaz Bufe
Certain demonstrably false assertions about economic matters pop up year after year, much in the manner of venereal warts. Here are a few of the most common assertions, along with some of the reasons they're bogus:
- Stock ownership is so widespread that we all have a stake in the economy (read corporate capitalism), and that we all benefit from it. This is belied by the facts: the top 1% own 35% of stocks and mutual funds; the next 9% own 45.8%; and the bottom 90% own 19.2%. Other measures of financial wealth are even worse. The top 10% own 91.1% of business equity and 93.9% of financial securities. The top 1% own 42% of financial wealth; the next 9% own 43%; and the bottom 80% own 15% of total financial wealth.
Distribution of wealth is so lopsided in this country that according to Politifact the Walton (Wal-Mart) family owns more wealth than the bottom 41.5% of American families combined.
- It doesn't matter if corporations are taxed, because they pass those taxes on to their customers. If this is true, one wonders why corporations so strenuously attempt to shift taxes to individuals. One might also wonder that if corporations are people, according to a grotesque, still-in-force Supreme Court ruling (Pembina Consolidated Silver Mining Co. v. Pennsylvania - 125 U.S. 181 ), why these "people" should be exempt from paying taxes.
As well, competition still exists in some sectors of the economy, and if corporations are taxed, they can't automatically pass along the taxes to their customers. They can, to preserve or expand market share, shave their profit margins. Beyond that, not all individuals use all products produced by corporations. For instance, a tax on companies that produce corporate jets will affect corporations that buy private jets, not the vast bulk of consumers. Further, consumers can choose to avoid passed-on taxes by buying used goods, reducing consumption, or simply refusing to buy nonessential goods.
- Unemployment is a result of laziness. If this were so, why do unemployment levels vary so drastically over the years, and often change nearly overnight (as in 1929 and 2008)? Is it really the fault of employees' laziness that employers shut down their buinesses and lock their doors? Do employees really prefer losing their health benefits, pensions, and most of their income in favor of limited-time, paltry unemployment insurance checks? As anyone who's ever suffered it knows, unemployment is a miserable, stressful condition, often accompanied by irrational shame. That shame—and endless repetition—is why well-paid corporate lackeys get away with uttering this cruel lie.
- Military spending is good for the economy. The U.S. government's 2013 military budge is $682 billion, by far the largest military budget in the world. It's more than the military expenditures of the next ten countries combined. And that $682 billion doesn't even include veterans' pensions, veterans' healthcare costs, or the cost of the interest on military spending-incurred debt.
Somehow this is supposed to be good for the economy. Why isn't it? Isn't money flowing into communities with "defense" industries and military bases? Yes, it is. But that money produces nothing to meet human needs (food, housing, medical care, utilities, transportation, etc., etc.).To put this another way, this massive expenditure of taxpayer money pays people and companies that contribute nothing useful to the economy.
In fact, the harm extends well beyond this utter waste. Those who perform useful work are not only taxed heavily to fund the waste, their tax dollars that go to the gigantic military make-work project devalue the money that's left in their pockets. Rather than their spending that money on useful goods and services (which would stimulate demand and employment), the government spends their money entirely nonproductively. That spending results in no additional useful goods or services. The amount of money in circulation remains the same, but there are fewer goods and services than there would be if taxpayers kept their money and spent it on their own needs. Military spending devalues the wages of everyone not on the military-industrial dole.
Military spending is not a boon to the economy. One could just as easily spend the $682 billion military budget on the mass production of ping pong balls and produce the same economic "good."
Military spending is as good for the economy as a shot of cocaine is for the body. It produces a temporary feeling of euphoria, but at a high ultimate cost.
- With the appearance of the expanded second edition of The Bassist's Bible, the original edition is no longer available via commercial booksellers. However, we still have a few dozen copies of the original edition and will be selling them at $10 each until they're gone.
- Unfortunately, because of the recent extreme increases in the costs of overseas shipping, we no longer sell books (or anything else) directly to overseas buyers. Our in-print books, however, are distributed in Canada and Europe, so readers in those countries can still obtain See Sharp Press titles via normal commercial channels.
SEE SHARP PRESS
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