He is Risen

Ah, Lent has come to an end once again, with the happy season of Easter: the celebration of Jesus coming back from the dead – the transformation, as Father Ken, the priest at Saint Stephens in-the-Field said in his sermon today, of the cross as a political symbol of Roman terror to a religious symbol of Christian hope.

You don’t have to be religious to appreciate the need for symbols of hope to lift us up in the darkest times, but if you are religious, you can see how that symbol could have special power – and if you are Christian, you can feel how that person’s special power makes him worthy of being a symbol of the life we want to live

This is the reason that Episcopal crosses tend to be empty – they’re not symbols of Jesus’ crucifixion and death, they’re symbols of his overcoming death, returning to life, and remaining with us in Spirit – as Father Ken said, Holy Spirit, with a capital S.

Happy Easter, everyone.

-the Centaur

Pictured: the children of St. Stephens in-the-Field, running towards the St. Stephens TARDIS before it departs for the annual field trip back to the first Easter day. (Axually, it’s an Easter egg hunt).

Merry Christmas

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Merry Christmas! Isn’t it great that we made it to another one with the Earth still circling the Sun? After all the stresses and strains of the past year, it’s really good to get together with friends and family to celebrate this holiday. But what’s the reason for the season? Why are we doing this? As a Christian, I didn’t just get exposed to Santa and Christmas trees, but also to a lot of irate people convinced that we were missing the point – that the reason for the season was to celebrate the birthday of Jesus?

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But why did he come to the Earth? To bring hope! Easter is when we celebrate Jesus’s death, sacrifice, and role in our salvation, but Christmas is when we celebrate our hope, his arrival, and the beginning of his message of hope and forgiveness on Earth. Whether you’re a Christian or not, Jesus’s message that we should forgive each other, forgive ourselves and start life fresh is perennial – it’s worthy of celebrating again and again – which liturgical churches do every Advent.

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But church rituals often seem disconnected from everyday lives because they’re held in special, sacred places. Christians aren’t just followers of Christ; we’re also ritual people, people who perform traditions again and again – each day, each week, each season, each year – to help remind us what’s important in our lives. So it isn’t surprising that we’ve found ways of bringing those rituals out of the sanctuaries and into our homes.

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The exchange of gifts can seem to be crass commercialism … but it’s also a reminder to each other that we care, a chance to do something nice for our friends and family, and if we really think about a gift, an opportunity to learn about each other and discover what really matters to our loved ones. Shared meals give us not just a chance to celebrate our success, but to get together with loved ones and share our stories, our companionship, and a few hours of our lives.

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Not everyone is fortunate over Christmas, and not everyone enjoys the season. So take a moment to do something for someone who needs a little lift, respect people who need a little distance, but above all, take a moment out to remember why we’re celebrating the season: to commemorate Jesus’s message of hope and forgiveness, and to share moments with the friends and family that we love.

-the Centaur

Beirut and Paris

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My heart, prayers and condolences go out to all those who lost their lives in the deadly attacks in Beirut and Paris yesterday, and to the families, friends and loved ones who are suffering in the aftermath of this outrage, which over the past few days killed almost 200 people in France and Lebanon. This has got to stop … but for now, you are all in my prayers.

Meanwhile, at the Hall of Justice

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There’s a current brouhaha in science fiction circles in which one group of (largely conservative) authors and bloggers (whom I read) got upset about how they were being treated by another group of (largely liberal) authors and bloggers (whom I also read) – and decided to stuff the nomination ballots for the Hugos to show how irritated they were.

The situation isn’t black and white – there are legitimate complaints on both sides – but it isn’t symmetric either: regardless of any legitimate differences, the side of the ballot-stuffers has engaged in some truly egregious behavior towards their fellow writers, towards the integrity of the awards process – and towards their fellow human beings.

Their complaint is that science fiction is being invaded by “social justice warriors” who put message over story, but, as one of my friends put it, you know you’re in trouble when your name for your enemies includes the word “justice”.

I am a social justice warrior.

I may have been raised in a conservative environment, I may have been a College Republican, I may be a devotee of Ayn Rand and my philosophy may be steeped in libertarian ideas … but I know what social justice is, I know why we need it, and I am proud to be one of the ones fighting for it.

Social justice is the simple concept that our society is structured in a way that systematically disadvantages certain groups, and that it is our moral responsibility to take positive action to make sure that our society does not continue to abuse them. That’s it, and both the factual premise and the moral conclusion drawn from it are simply true.

It’s your responsibility to understand the kind of society in which you live, to recognize how it is stacked against some groups of people within it, and to try to level the deck, and, because this advocates change, it often gets associated more with liberals trying to improve our world rather than conservatives trying to preserve what’s already good about it.

But your responsibility to work towards social justice does not mean that it’s your obligation to support the policies of some particular liberal who happens to think that he or she owns social justice. Ronald Reagan had a point when he said “Yet any time you and I question the schemes of the do-gooders, we’re denounced as being opposed to their humanitarian goals.”

Our society stacks the deck against all kinds of people: all races, creeds and colors; liberals and conservatives, the marginalized and the rich, laborers and businessmen, criminals and the honest. There’s almost no place in our society where some collection of wealth or poverty, some amassed prejudice or complacency, or some unjust law or lawlessness doesn’t trap someone in a place where they get the short end of the stick – and the policies that cause this are both liberal and conservative.

But one of the biggest traps we’ve had is sexual prejudice: the discrimination against and marginalization of people based on their sexual orientation, identity, or preferences. When I was growing up, being “gay” was an insult; when I was a teenager, it was OK to marginalize and mock gay people; when I was in college, memorably, a young gay man was beaten, tied to a fence, and left to die. We’ve come a long, long way since Stonewall … but we still have a lot farther to go.

That’s why I’m so proud to see LIQUID FIRE appear high on the list of Lesbian, Gay, Transgender and Bisexual eBooks on Amazon. Dakota Frost, the protagonist of my series, is bisexual (and so am I) and my series is filled with as many races, genders and politics as I can fit: white and black, gay and bisexual and straight, liberal and conservative and noncommittal.

But my first goal is always to tell a good story.

When I start writing a Dakota Frost book, I have a little formula: I pick an alternative culture practice and make it magical, I pick a monster and a guest monster, and I pick a disability. For FROST MOON, that was magical tattooing, werewolves and vampires, and blindness; in BLOOD ROCK that was magical graffiti, vampires and werewolves (just switching the prominence), and Tourette’s Syndrome; in LIQUID FIRE, that was magical firespinning, dragons and vampires, and deafness.

But those are only seeds: I let each of those things give me ideas … then I give them the prominence that they deserve as I tell the story. For example, in FROST MOON and BLOOD ROCK, the disability was an important plot hinge, making things happen; in LIQUID FIRE, the disability was a feature in the background – still important to the plot, but not center stage.

The same is true of race, or politics, or sexual identity. I include them in my stories because they exist. Showing people both black and white in Atlanta represents the real racial makeup of Atlanta. Making my protagonist date first a conservative agent and then a liberal activist represents the real political makeup of America. And having my bisexual protagonist date a man in one book and a woman in one book represents the real nature of sexual relations in our world. But it always serves the story.

My books depict magic because it’s fun and entertaining, but deep down, they represent a reality: they use that reality to ground the tales of the fantastic so that you can stay engaged and interested. But even reality must serve the story: good books employ not realism, but verisimilitude: the carefully crafted appearance of reality which orchestrates a reader’s perceptions to compensate for the fact that they’re reading the “reality” depicted in the book, not actually living it. Authors are always slicing and dicing reality to make sure that their readers are captivated by their tales, and I’m no different.

My goal is for everyone to be captivated by my books. But by showing that last slice of reality, the one often sliced out – the slice that shows the full spectrum of sexual expression in our world – I hope my books do more than captivate everyone; I hope they provide a small ray of hope for anyone different who wonders whether there’s anyone like them – and gives them a hero they can relate to.

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Her name’s Dakota Frost. I think she’s pretty cool. Go check her out.

-the Centaur

P.S. David Colby was the friend who came up with the phrases “you’re in trouble when your name for your enemies includes the word justice” and “because they exist,” and while I already had similar ideas, I have shamelessly stolen his wording. 🙂

Happy Easter

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He is risen. Let us rejoice and be glad in this. Take this time to find your families and renew your bonds of love.

-the Centaur

Pictured: me, Dad, and blurry at the edge of the picture, Mom … all a long time ago.

So you’re going to be a stem cell donor …

anthony at mervyn's after receiving unrelated good news

… or, actually, I’m going to be a stem cell donor.

Only 1 in 20,000 actually match, so this is pretty lucky. If all goes well with the physical and blood tests, I’ll be helping out someone who’s got few remaining options.

Good things do happen.

-the Centaur

P.S. No grief, only 1 in 20,000 match. So check out Be The Match dot org and consider getting your cheek swabbed. Somewhere out there someone may be depending on you – so no pressure.

Taking a Sabbath from Microsoft Word

The Notes on Blood Rock

I’m not a very literal Christian, but I do believe that a lot of Christianity is good. But I don’t think it’s good because God says so – I think it’s God said so because it’s good for you. One example is the Sabbath.

But what is a Sabbath? Going to church on Sunday, then sitting around reading psalms? No, a Sabbath is first and foremost a day of rest, and second a day of worship. And God doesn’t ask us to observe it because he’s needy for worship: he asks us to do it because we need time off. I’m not going to go into the Episcopal theology which suggests that Jesus doesn’t care what day you take your Sabbath as long as you do take one – I’ll let my fundamentalist and atheist friends thumbwrestle over that one. I’m just going to take it as a given that we need a day off.

So … what does the Sabbath have to do with Microsoft Word?

In my personal life, I’m like a submarine: I disappear into whatever project I’m working on (see the bursty timing of my blogposts as evidence for this). And even though I usually have something on the order of four to six major projects going at once, I’m really only good at focusing on one of them at a time. My current project: revising my second novel BLOOD ROCK, which I’ve been doing since something like September, responding to hundreds of comments from my editor.

I’m down to the wire now. The book is over 100 pages shorter and tighter after months of edits. I’ve gone from a HUGE list of TODO items that sprawled over two pages down to a short list of items I’d written on the back of a receipt. One of my last items is re-reviewing all the remaining Microsoft Word comments, which I’ve been doing over the last several days.

But as I did so, I found that somehow I’d either lost my memory or Word had neglected to show a whole bunch of comments to me. Months ago, I went through the entire document in detail resolving differences and addressing comments before starting my big tightening edit, and yet there are real, material important comments I would remember if I’d seen them that only showed up in the last few days.

Having observed Word’s behavior looking for possible bugs, I’m guessing either it was collapsing comments when there were lots of edits on a page, or, more likely, this is a scrolling bug that caused some comments to appear “over the top of the page” and thus effectively become invisible. Another alternative is that it might have to do with the “ribbon” … I recently switched from Word 2004 for Mac to Word 2011 and the interface for comments seems to have changed. A simple interface change; they happen. But that’s not the point.

My frustration is that even minor offhand comments from the editor can lead to big changes. If she asks me to delete something on page 204, I might just do it — but if I don’t agree, I generally think hard about whether I need it, whether it’s important to me, and if so how to integrate it so deeply into the novel that it’s inevitable — ideally to the point where she’d tell me to put it back in if I took it out, though I don’t know if I ever achieve that. 🙂

So now I have a whole load of comments that I’m essentially getting fresh. Worse, they’re commenting on things in sections that I had previously reworked in response to the editor’s written comments, sections where I didn’t think there were major in-line comments. So I’ve spent a great deal of effort fixing things in response to the revision email, the suggested changes, and a long hallway conversation with the editor at Dragon*Con, but I’m now finding dozens of things, both little and great, that would have potentially changed what I would have done.

So … what does Microsoft Word have to do with the Sabbath? Well … I am taking today off. 🙂

I have a great job at the Search Engine That Starts With a G, but it takes a lot of time – partly work, partly travel time, partly mental recuperation time. And I have a wife, and friends, and cats. By lugging my laptop to breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee, I can eke out 3-4 hours a night 3-4 days a week, but that’s not enough, and generally need to work on my writings on the weekends. This gets especially intense when editing, because I can’t futz around doing research reading or shift gears to another story if I’m stumped; I’ve got to keep my brain focused on the EDITING process.

But my frustration reached its limit last night. I blew my stack and fired off a few frustrated emails to the editor, and decided to take today off. To use the Sabbath that God gave us. I don’t have a link to the great sermon that Father Ken of Saint Stephens in the Field gave on the topic, but I do have a link to my atheist friend Jim Davies, who takes Saturdays completely off so he is free the rest of the week to pursue the top priority items on his nobility list. The theology is different – but the idea is the same.

The point? The moment I decided to take the day off, I felt completely liberated. I’m going to do something fun like ride a bike or design a robot brain – or maybe visit a bookstore for something other than their wifi or coffee. Before writing this blog post, I spent the previous hour implementing “Hello World” in every language installed on my new Macbook Air as part of a project to crack my programming knuckles again (and oddly, the hardest language was Awk, which I actually use so much at the command line it’s like a reflex. Weird). I’ve been wanting to do this for weeks, but I’ve spent it revising. Now instead, I’ve had a little fun. My batteries are already recharged.

Maybe you’re one of those people who find it easy to take time off. Good for you. If you’re not, especially if you live in the Bay Area … take a break. Maybe not even take a break from work; take a break from whatever you won’t let yourself take a break from.

Good morning, pilgrims…

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… this is still not warrenellis.com. If it was, we wouldn’t be leading off from the Episcopal Lectionary for the Second Sunday After Christmas:

Now after the wise men had left, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Then Joseph got up, took the child and his mother by night, and went to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod.

There are lots of ways to interpret this passage, but I’m most interested in the one by Reverend Ken Wratten of Saint Stephens in-the-Field church. Joseph is performing an action in faith – he’s moving to a different country based on a voice he heard in a dream – but based on a realistic response to circumstances.

Historians dispute whether the massacre of the innocents really happened, but not that Herod was a tyrant and madman who murdered his own family. So even though we don’t normally follow the advice we get in our dreams – and, for the literalists among us, note that in some circumstances the Bible specifically warns us not to – it was nonetheless a reasonable response to the circumstance for Joseph to heed that voice and get the heck out of Dodge.

Father Ken’s interpretation of this is that we should respond to the circumstances of our life in faith. Not assume that faith will magically shield us from all woes, but realistically look at the circumstances we have and, based on faith, take the response available to us that best fits God’s will. If you are not a Christian or other believer, substitute the idea that you should not rely on your ideology to save you, but you should nonetheless take the best action available to you consistent with your values AND the circumstances. (There’s more to Christianity than just Always Do The Right Thing, but I digress.)

So what does this have to do with cat spray?

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One element of responding in faith is that God can use changes in our circumstances to prod us to action – if we are willing to look at our circumstances in faith and try to see how we could, indeed should turn it to our advantage. No matter how trying the circumstances…

Recently, we noticed a whiff of an odd smell and realized the cats had been spraying under a desk in our library, which I’ve been reorganizing. I wiped up the spray, picked up the stack of three plastic tubs of computer parts, and turned to take them into the kitchen – and a stream of cat urine slid out from between the boxes and dripped all over a pile of papers I’d set out to file. For those not familiar with cat urine, it’s the substance they used to “eat through the floor” in the movie Alien. (No it isn’t; that’s a joke. See the link below).

The cats had sprayed most of the under-desk shelf but the ridges of atop the plastic tubs had sealed it in and trapped the smell – until I moved it, when the funky urine landed on my pile of junk. Everything was trashed: the box for my MacBook Air, an old drawing book, some papers, a record … but, miraculously, not my comic book artwork, which, in one of those circumstances which gives succor to those of faith and drives our skeptical friends nuts, was completely spared.

God uses circumstances to prod us to make changes we wouldn’t do on our own. I had already decided, in a sort of general way, that I needed to purge my library: this brought the point home, and even helped me decide what to purge. My wife and I already knew we needed to get all three of the cats integrated or get rid of one or more of them: this brought that point home, and led immediately to a new plan of action. And we already knew we were a team, but had yet to really accept that we had complementary work habits, but when she cheerfully worked to 5am cleaning while I slept, and then I cheerfully took over while she slept, that brought that point home.

Religious believers, Christians, look on this as a reminder to look at the circumstances that befall you in faith, and try to find the action God has given you that doesn’t just cope with the situation, it actually improves it and brings you closer to him. And for skeptics, remember: fundamentally, we live in a spot of this universe where it is possible for life to thrive for billions of years. It may sound cheesy, but life will find a way: and no matter what the circumstances, you can too. Like pilgrims, you may find it takes a long journey, but at least it’s possible to reach the promised land.

-the Centaur

Pictured: Lenora irritated by a cat toy, our warring tomcats Caesar and Gabby, and a Youtube experiment attempting to replicate the “acid burning through the floor effect” from Alien.

Station Ident … NOT

This is not warrenellis.com. If it was, I would be more irritated, irritable … and interesting.

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(Also, Warren Ellis doesn’t post me-too station idents because he’s overslept for church after a long night writing. I don’t think he does go to church, but if he did miss church because he’d spent a hard night writing, the minister would come to him, at the pub, when Warren Ellis was damn well ready – God being everywhere, of course, and it’s the minister that would need him some Ellis. Me, I need me some God.

Stupid earlybirds. Why doesn’t anybody have proper Evensong anymore?)

-the Centaur

Before the dawn of the dawn of time…

Continuing my attempts at computational archaeology: before the dawn of the dawn of time … or at least the dawn of the Internet … computer people had .plan (“dot plan”) files, chunks of text you could read from the command line using the finger protocol.

This protocol is often deactivated nowadays, but it was Facebook at graduate school at Georgia Tech in the early nineties. The following was mine, from apparently late 1995. Like my attempt to find my first web page, this obviously isn’t the earliest version of my .plan file, but at ~15 years it’s the oldest bit of online presence I’ve found about myself yet.

Obviously, some things have changed … the “love of my life” died (the love itself part, not the person) shortly after writing this, as evident from the editor’s note. I then went on to marry the lovely Sandi Billingsley, the real love of my life. Some of the other friends listed are no longer with us, or no longer with me and my friends. For the rest, well, read on – this is a completely unfiltered snapshot of me fifteen years ago:

The Centaur’s Bio (his Old .plan File)

Hi. This is the personal page of the Centaur, otherwise known as Anthony Francis. I’m ostensibly a graduate student in Artificial Intelligence at the College of Computing, but that’s just a hobby. For the past eight years, I’ve been a science fiction writer, a vocation that became professional when I published my first short story, “Sibling Rivalry,” in the February 1995 issue of _The Leading Edge_ magazine.

The love of my life is a redheaded historian, Shannon Duffy. When I’m not with her I spend time with my best friends in the Edge Group, which consists of Michael Boyd, David Cater, Anthony Francis, Derek Reubish, David Stephens, and Fred Zust in the core Edge franchise as well as William Morse, and Stuart Myerburg in our recently opened Atlanta branch.

[Editor’s note: Sad to say, Shannon and I are no longer together; we simply had different ideas about where we wanted to take our lives. We’re still friends, though, and hope to keep it that way.]

I’m sorry, I can’t tell you what we at the Edge Group do; we’d have to kill you (we do bad movies, good software, and great times, in no particular order). When I’m not hanging with the Edge Group I’m jamming with my other best friends Steve Arnold, Eric Christian and his fiancee Chalie, Joe Goldenburg, Kenny Moorman and his wife Carla, Ruth Oldaker, Mark Pharo and his wife Yvette, Patsy Voigt, and Fred’s girlfriend Marina.

The weekend tradition is to jam with William, Stuart, Mallory and sometimes Joe at Anis, Huey’s, Oxford at Pharr, Phipps and wherever else we can get into trouble. (Occasionally, you can find me at the Cedar Tree or Yakitori Den-Chan with Mark & Yvette). If not, I’m either hanging with Fred & Marina, Eric & Chalie and Dave & Ruth up in ole Greenvile, South Carolina, watching (or filming) movies at my house, eating dinner with my loving parents Tony and Susan Francis, perforating the odd target with musket fire at Eric’s or just noshing on late-night food at Stax’ Omega or IHOP. If I’m not doing any of the above, I’m liable to be curled up with Shanny in O’Flaherty’s Irish Channel Pub in the French Quarter in New Orleans, listening to Irish ballads and soaking up each other’s company over an Irish Coffee (her) and a diet Coke (me).

Since people have asked, my favorite authors are H.P. Lovecraft, Larry Niven, C.J. Cherryh and Douglas Hofstadter, in that order. My favorite TV show is Dr.Who, followed neck-and-neck by Babylon 5 and Star Trek (TOS TNG TMS DS9 VOY ANI, in that order) and nipped at the heels by the Tripods and the Six Million Dollar Man. My favorite comic book is Elfquest, followed closely by Albedo Anthropomorphics, Superman, Cerebus, and Usagi Yojimbo. My favorite band is Tangerine Dream, although I do listen to Rush, Yes, Vangelis, and Genesis. My favorite style of music is now called “New Age” (uuugh) but used to be called electronic music, minimalist, or just electronic rock. My second favorite style of music is soundtrack music (music for the visual image). I can stand rock. I hate disco. Rap held my interest for a while, but it officially lost me with “Whoomp(t) there it is.”

My favorite cuisine is Lebanese, a gift from my parents and my family, the best damn extended family in the whole wide world. I shock my parents and family by also appreciating Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Cajun, Mexican, Italian, Korean, Vietnamese, Spanish and Indian cuisine; I also have a great appreciation for the foods of the South, a culture which I find to be both vastly underrated and overdiscussed abroad. When I’m not dining out or curled up with a good book or laptop computer at Captain D’s at Corporate Square in Atlanta drinking inordinate amounts of iced tea, I’m at home honing my patented personal tabbouleh (Lebanese salad) recipe, slowly learning to cook Chinese, and honing the art of grilling steaks and microwaving potatoes so that they both finish at the same time.

My favorite form of literary expression is science fiction; my preferred style is flashbacks within a framing story, usually in third-person limited, although I’ve begun to experiment with a more liberal third-person style derived from the narrative structure of contemporary motion pictures. My primary means of plotting and expression are visual images. My favorite fictional creature is, of course, the centaur; however, the genetically engineered spaceborne professionals of *my* fiction bear little resemblance to the bearded primitves that stalk the wooded glades of your average fantasy novel (unfair though that may be to my inspirations, which include the very nice halfhorse folk of the Giesenthal valley dreamed up by Donna Barr, the ambiguous Titanides from _Titan, Wizard, Demon_ by John Varley, and Timoth the warrior sage of the Advanced Dungeons and Dragons comic. Just don’t call my Porsche St.George a halfhorse too; she’ll be liable to pummel a fictionalized version of you in a story sooner or later if you do).

My favorite style of AI is symbolic AI with a situated/behaviorist twist. I play around with memory, agents, case-based reasoning, natural language understanding, and semiotics; I have nothing against genetic algorithms or connectionist systems other than the fact that I don’t have time to pursue them as avidly. I also fiddle around with animal cognition, and can talk your ear off about chimpanzee culture and dolphin language if given the chance.

My favorite style of science is Kuhnian with a cognitive flair. I have no respect for positivism or any of the horrible things it’s done for science. My philosophy is somewhere between Kant, Plato and something no-one has a name for yet. To sum: the universe is real; deal, but don’t assume you have the answers and *don’t* assume that a single level of description can capture all of reality.

My religion is theist; I believe in the tripartite single God at the heart of mainstream Christianity, and accept the messiah aspect as my savior. My theology is liberal Episcopalian with a strong theological background in my Catholic upbringing. My disagreements with the Catholic Church are primarily theological and only partially pragmatic; I gave up on waiting for them to catch up with Jesus, but they’re still mostly good people. The religious right, on the other hand, is a bipartite oxymoron: neither religious nor right, and certainly not in keeping with the anti-Phariseean radical I follow. Genteel religious discussions are welcome; rude evangelizers will be biblically and theologically diced *before* I turn you over to Shannon, Joe, William, and Eric. Bring references to authorities, but don’t expect me to respect them. Arguments against evolution will either be summarily flushed or buried underneath my copies of Eldredge’s _Time Frames_, A.G. Cairns-Smith’s _Genetic Takeover_, Dawkin’s _The Selfish Gene_, _The Saint Paul Family Catechism_ and my copy of the New American Bible, flipped to the part of the preface discussing evolution. Read the gospel of Thomas; it’s an eye opener, and you haven’t even seen the Dead Sea Scrolls yet…

Politically, I am a Goldwater liberal. I believe in war, gays in the military, religious freedom, no state-mandated prayer in schools, free ownership of automatic weapons, licensing of gun owners, aid to the Contras, prosecution of IranContra, investigation of Whitewater, and support and respect for the president regardless of party. I voted for George *and* Bill once each, don’t regret it, and would do the same knowing what I know now. I believe in AIDS spending, military spending, research spending, and the space program; I also believe in welfare reform, cutting waste, a line item veto, and perhaps even some kind of budget amendment if I could be convinced it wouldn’t get us into trouble in wartime. I don’t believe in “school choice”, “political correctness”, “multiculturalism”, “Rush as Equal Time”, “the liberal media”, “the conservative media”, or “anti-special-rights amendments”. I don’t think we should take “In God We Trust” off of our coins and I don’t think we should picket funerals of people who had AIDS. I don’t believe acceptance of homosexuals as equal citizens has anything to do with the disintegration of the American family. I don’t believe in hobbling industry with overregulation nor do I believe in letting them cut down trees holding endangered species just because they planned our logging programs poorly. My political heroes are Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Margaret Thatcher.

Interesting. Well, that is what it was. There are definitely opinions I would tweak, things I now think I got wrong, and snapshots of relationships that no longer hold. But the Edge is still here, I’m still here, I’m still writing, I’m still a Christian, and still a scientist. SO, all things considered, I think I’ll have to stand by my dot plan file after all.

-the Centaur