Ninety-nine percent of everything that goes on in most Christian churches has nothing whatsoever to do with the actual religion. Intelligent people all notice this sooner or later, and they conclude that the entire one hundred percent is bullshit, which is why atheism is connected with being intelligent in people's minds.
Nell did not imagine that Constable Moore wanted to get into a detailed discussion of recent events, so she changed the subject. "I think I have finally worked out what you were trying to tell me, years ago, about being intelligent, " she said. The Constable brightened all at once. "Pleased to hear it." The Vickys have an elaborate code of morals and conduct. It grew out of the moral squalor of an earlier generation, just as the original Victorians were preceded by the Georgians and the Regency. The old guard believe in that code because they came to it the hard way. They raise their children to believe in that code- but their children believe it for entirely different reasons." They believe it, " the Constable said, "because they have been indoctrinated to believe it." Yes. Some of them never challenge it- they grow up to be smallminded people, who can tell you what they believe but not why they believe it. Others become disillusioned by the hypocrisy of the society and rebel- as did Elizabeth Finkle-McGraw." Which path do you intend to take, Nell?" said the Constable, sounding very interested. "Conformity or rebellion?" Neither one. Both ways are simple-minded- they are only for people who cannot cope with contradiction and ambiguity.
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Men wanted to be strong. One way to be strong was to be knowledgeable. In so many areas, it was not possible to be knowledgeable without getting a Ph.D. and doing a postdoc. Guns and hunting provided an out for men who wanted to be know-it-alls but who couldn't afford to spend the first three decades of their lives getting up to speed on quantum mechanics or oncology.
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We're not hunter-gatherers anymore. We're all living like patients in the intensive care unit of a hospital. What keeps us alive isn't bravery, or athleticism, or any of those other skills that were valuable in a caveman society. It's our ability to master complex technological skills. It is our ability to be nerds. We need to breed nerds.
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[The thief-taker] was conspicuous by his age, I should estimate he is in his middle fifties, and by a bearing, I am tempted to call it dignity, wanting in the others. He has a good head of hair, only a bit thin on top, blond going grey, and sea green eyes. He has an excellently carved set of teeth, but displays them rarely. He has a trim figure, unusual in a profession that consists largely of loitering around taverns, but any illusion that he is especially fit is dispelled when he begins to move, for he is a little bit halt, and a little bit lame, stiff in the joints and given to frequent sighs and grimaces that hint at pains internal.
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World-class cereal-eating is a dance of fine compromises. The giant heaping bowl of sodden cereal, awash in milk, is the mark of the novice. Ideally one wants the bone-dry cereal nuggets and the cryogenic milk to enter the mouth with minimal contact and for the entire reaction between them to take place in the mouth. Randy has worked out a set of mental blueprints for a special cereal-eating spoon that will have a tube running down the handle and a little pump for the milk, so that you can spoon dry cereal up out of a bowl, hit a button with your thumb, and squirt milk into the bowl of the spoon even as you are introducing it into your mouth. The next best thing is to work in small increments, putting only a small amount of Cap'n Crunch in your bowl at a time and eating it all up before it becomes a pit of loathsome slime, which, in the case of Cap'n Crunch, takes about thirty seconds.
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he was fascinated by the mid-western/middle American phenomenon of recombinant cuisine. Rice Krispie Treats being a prototypical example in that they were made by repurposing other foods that had already been prepared (to wit, breakfast cereal and marshmallows). And of course, any recipe that called for a can of cream of mushroom soup fell into the same category. The unifying principle behind all recombinant cuisine seemed to be indifference, if not outright hostility, to the use of anything that a coastal foodie would define as an ingredient.
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Ares always reemerges from the chaos. It will never go away. Athenian civilization defends itself from the forces of Ares with metis, or technology. Technology is built on science. Science is like the alchemists' uroburos, continually eating its own tail. The process of science doesn't work unless young scientists have the freedom to attack and tear down old dogmas, to engage in an ongoing Titanomachia. Science flourishes where art and free speech flourish.
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The biggest machines, in those days, were already pushing the limits of what could be constructed on Arbre with reasonable amounts of money." "I hadn't known that," I said. "I always tend to assume there's an infinite amount of money out there." "There might as well be," Arsibalt said, "but most of it gets spent on pornography, sugar water, and bombs. There is only so much that can be scraped together for particle accelerators.
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And so from then onwards, Daniel understood that the point of this grueling sundial project was not merely to plot the curve but to understand why each curve was shaped as it was. To put it another way, Isaac wanted to be able to walk up to a blank wall on a cloudy day, stab a gnomom into it, and draw all of the curves simply by knowing where shadow would pass. This was the same thing as knowing where the sun would be in the sky and that was the same as knowing where the Earth was in its circuit around the sun, and in its daily rotation. Though as months went on, Daniel understood that Isaac wanted to be able to do the same thing even if the blank wall happened to be situated on, say, the moon that Christiaan Huygens had lately discovered revolving around Saturn. Exactly how this might be accomplished was a question with ramifications that extended into such fields as would Isaac, and Daniel for that matter, be thrown out of Trinity College? Were the Earth and all the works of man nearing the end of a long, relentless decay that had begun with the expulsion from Eden, and that would very soon culminate in the apocalypse? Or might things actually be getting better, with the promise of continuing to do so? Did people have souls? Did they have free will?
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Now walking out onto the upper deck to find Minerva sailing steadily eastward on calm seas, Daniel is appalled that anyone ever doubted these matters. The horizon is a perfect line. The sun a red circle tracing a neat path through the sky and proceeding through an orderly series of color changes: red, yellow, white. Thus nature. Minerva, the human world, is a family of curves. There are no straight lines here. The decks are slightly arched, to shed water and supply greater strength. The masts flexed, impelled by the thrust of the sails, but restrained by webs of rigging, curved grids like Isaac's sundial lines. Of course, wherever wind collects in a sail or water skims around the hull, it follows rules that Bernoulli has set down using the calculus, Leibniz's version. Minerva is a congregation of Leibniz curves, navigating according to Bernoulli rules, across a vast mostly water-covered sphere whose size, precise shape, trajectory through the heavens and destiny were all laid down by Newton.
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Like every other creature on the face of the earth, Godfrey was, by birthright, a stupendous badass, albeit in the somewhat narrow technical sense that he could trace his ancestry back up a long line of slightly less highly evolved stupendous badasses to that first self-replicating gizmo-which, given the number and variety of its descendants, might justifiably be described as the most stupendous badass of all time. Everyone and everything that wasn't a stupendous badass was dead.
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And yet all the gold is in England, it is dug up from Portuguese and Spanish mines, but it flows by some occult power of attraction to the Tower of London.' 'Flows, ' Caroline repeated. 'Flows, like a current.' Sophie nodded. 'And the English have grown so used to this that they use 'currency' as a synonym for money, as if no distinction need be observed between them.
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Yong is the outer manifestation of something. Ti is the underlying essence. Technology is a yong associated with a particular ti that is... Western, and completely alien to us [the Chinese]. For centuries, since the time of the Opium Wars, we have struggled to absorb the yong of technology without importing the Western ti. But it has been impossible. Just as our ancestors could not open our ports to the West without accepting the poison of opium, we could not open our lives to Western technology without taking in the Western ideas, which have been as a plague on our society. The result has been centuries of chaos.
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Nell, " the Constable continued, indicating through his tone of voice that the lesson was concluding, "the difference between ignorant and educated people is that the latter know more facts. But that has nothing to do with whether they are stupid or intelligent. The difference between stupid and intelligent people-and this is true whether or not they are well-educated-is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambiguous or even contradictory situations-in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward.
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He walked straight out of college into the waiting arms of the Navy. They gave him an intelligence test. The first question on the math part had to do with boats on a river: Port Smith is 100 miles upstream of Port Jones. The river flows at 5 miles per hour. The boat goes through water at 10 miles per hour. How long does it take to go from Port Smith to Port Jones? How long to come back? Lawrence immediately saw that it was a trick question. You would have to be some kind of idiot to make the facile assumption that the current would add or subtract 5 miles per hour to or from the speed of the boat. Clearly, 5 miles per hour was nothing more than the average speed. The current would be faster in the middle of the river and slower at the banks. More complicated variations could be expected at bends in the river. Basically it was a question of hydrodynamics, which could be tackled using certain well-known systems of differential equations. Lawrence dove into the problem, rapidly (or so he thought) covering both sides of ten sheets of paper with calculations. Along the way, he realized that one of his assumptions, in combination with the simplified Navier Stokes equations, had led him into an exploration of a particularly interesting family of partial differential equations. Before he knew it, he had proved a new theorem. If that didn't prove his intelligence, what would? Then the time bell rang and the papers were collected. Lawrence managed to hang onto his scratch paper. He took it back to his dorm, typed it up, and mailed it to one of the more approachable math professors at Princeton, who promptly arranged for it to be published in a Parisian mathematics journal. Lawrence received two free, freshly printed copies of the journal a few months later, in San Diego, California, during mail call on board a large ship called the U.S.S. Nevada. The ship had a band, and the Navy had given Lawrence the job of playing the glockenspiel in it, because their testing procedures had proven that he was not intelligent enough to do anything else.
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Jack had wondered how geometers could be so inventive as to produce so many types and families of curves. Later he had come to perceive that of curves there was no end, and the true miracle was that poets, or writers, or whoever it was that was in charge of devising new words, could keep pace with those hectic geometers, and slap names on all the whorls and snarls in the pages of the Doctor's geometry-books.
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What people do isn't determined by where they live. It happens to be their damned fault. They decided to watch TV instead of thinking when they were in high school. They decided to blow-off courses and drink beer instead of reading and trying to learn something. They decided to chicken out and be intolerant bastards instead of being openminded, and finally they decided to go along with their buddies and do things that were terribly wrong when there was no reason they had to. Anyone who hurts someone else decides to hurt them, goes out of their way to do it... The fact that it's hard to be a good person doesn't excuse going along and being an asshole. If they can't overcome their own fear of being unusual, it's not my fault, because any idiot ought to be able to see that if he just acts reasonably and makes a point of not hurting others, he'll be happier.
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This "sir, yes sir" business, which would probably sound like horseshit to any civilian in his right mind, makes sense to Shaftoe and to the officers in a deep and important way. Like a lot of others, Shaftoe had trouble with military etiquette at first. He soaked up quite a bit of it growing up in a military family, but living the life was a different matter. Having now experienced all the phases of military existence except for the terminal ones (violent death, court-martial, retirement), he has come to understand the culture for what it is: a system of etiquette within which it becomes possible for groups of men to live together for years, travel to the ends of the earth, and do all kinds of incredibly weird shit without killing each other or completely losing their minds in the process. The extreme formality with which he addresses these officers carries an important subtext: your problem, sir, is deciding what you want me to do, and my problem, sir, is doing it. My gung-ho posture says that once you give the order I'm not going to bother you with any of the details-and your half of the bargain is you had better stay on your side of the line, sir, and not bother me with any of the chickenshit politics that you have to deal with for a living. The implied responsibility placed upon the officer's shoulders by the subordinate's unhesitating willingness to follow orders is a withering burden to any officer with half a brain, and Shaftoe has more than once seen seasoned noncoms reduce green lieutenants to quivering blobs simply by standing before them and agreeing, cheerfully, to carry out their orders.
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A red dragonfly hovers above a backwater of the stream, its wings moving so fast that the eye sees not wings in movement but a probability distribution of where the wings might be, like electron orbitals: a quantum-mechanical effect that maybe explains why the insect can apparently teleport from one place to another, disappearing from one point and reappearing a couple of meters away, without seeming to pass through the space in between. There sure is a lot of bright stuff in the jungle. Randy figures that, in the natural world, anything that is colored so brightly must be some kind of serious evolutionary badass.
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Chester nods all the way through this, but does not rudely interrupt Randy as a younger nerd would. Your younger nerd takes offense quickly when someone near him begins to utter declarative sentences, because he reads into it an ssertion that he, the nerd, does not already know the information being imparted. But your older nerd has more self-confidence, and besides, understands that frequently people need to think out loud. And highly advanced nerds will furthermore understand that uttering declarative sentences whose contents are already known to all present is part of the social process of making conversation and therefore should not be construed as aggression under any circumstances.
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Men believe that they are accomplishing something by speaking speak in a different way from men who believe that speaking is a waste of time. Bobby Shaftoe learned most of his practical knowledge - how to fix a car, butcher a deer, throw a spiral, talk to a lady, kill a Nip - from the latter type of man. For them, trying to do anything by talking is like trying to pound in a nail with a screwdriver. Sometimes you can see the desperation spread over such a man's face as he listens to himself speak.
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Is power like the vis viva and the quantite d'avancement? That is, is it conserved by the universe, or is it like shares of a stock, which may have great value one day, and be worthless the next? If power is like stock shares, then it follows that the immense sum thereof lately lost by B[olingbroke] has vanished like shadows in sunlight. For no matter how much wealth is lost in stock crashes, it never seems to turn up, but if power is conserved, then B's must have gone somewhere. Where is it? Some say 'twas scooped up by my Lord R, who hid it under a rock, lest my Lord M come from across the sea and snatch it away. My friends among the Whigs say that any power lost by a Tory is infallibly and insensibly distributed among all the people, but no matter how assiduously I search the lower rooms of the clink for B's lost power, I cannot seem to find any there, which explodes that argument, for there are assuredly very many people in those dark salons. I propose a novel theory of power, which is inspired by... the engine for raising water by fire. As a mill makes flour, a loom makes cloth and a forge makes steel, so we are assured this engine shall make power. If the backers of this device speak truly, and I have no reason to deprecate their honesty, it proves that power is not a conserved quantity, for of such quantities, it is never possible to make more. The amount of power in the world, it follows, is ever increasing, and the rate of increase grows ever faster as more of these engines are built. A man who hordes power is therefore like a miser who sits on a heap of coins in a realm where the currency is being continually debased by the production of more coins than the market can bear. So that what was a great fortune, when first he raked it together, insensibly becomes a slag heap, and is found to be devoid of value. When at last he takes it to the marketplace to be spent. Thus my Lord B and his vaunted power hoard what is true of him is likely to be true of his lackeys, particularly his most base and slavish followers such as Mr. Charles White. This varmint has asserted that he owns me. He fancies that to own a man is to have power, yet he has got nothing by claiming to own me, while I who was supposed to be rendered powerless, am now writing for a Grub Street newspaper that is being perused by you, esteemed reader.
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The people who'd made the system thus were jealous, not of money and not of power but of story. If their employees came home at day's end with interesting stories to tell, it meant that something had gone wrong: a blackout, a strike, a spree killing. The Powers That Be would not suffer others to be in stories of their own unless they were fake stories that had been made up to motivate them.
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The Deliverator's car has enough potential energy packed into its batteries to fire a pound of bacon into the Asteroid Belt. Unlike a bimbo box or a Burb beater, the Deliverator's car unloads that power through gaping, gleaming, polished, sphincters. When the Deliverator puts the hammer down, shit happens.
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So in order to accommodate the Pioneers who would begin arriving in a few weeks, the Arkitects sent up Scouts. The qualifications for being a Scout seemed to be a shocking level of physical endurance, a complete disregard for mortal danger, and some knowledge of how to exist in a space suit. All of them were Russians.
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He has reverted, in other words, back into a pure balls-to-the-wall nerdism rivaled only by his early game-coding days back in Seattle. The sheer depth and involution of the current nerdism binge would be hard to convey to anyone. Intellectually, he is juggling half a dozen lit torches, Ming vases, live puppies, and running chainsaws. In this frame of mind he cannot bring himself to give a shit about the fact that this incredibly powerful billionaire has gone to a lot of trouble to come and F2F with him.
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crossed the room to where a selection of implements was arranged on a table top. These could have been mistaken for the trade tools of a cook, physician, or torturer, save for the fact that the surface on which they rested was a slab of polished pink marble, topping a white and gilt dressing table-cum-sculpture, done up in the new, hyper-Baroque style named Rococo. It was adorned, for example, with several cherubs, bows drawn, eyes asquint, as they drew beads on unseen targets, butt cheeks polished to a luster with jeweler's rouge. It had, in other words, all the earmarks of a gift that had been sent to the princess by someone with a lot of money who did not know her very well.
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Most of the people on the Cloud Ark were going to have to be women. There were other reasons for it besides just making more babies. Research on the long-term effects of spaceflight suggested that women were less susceptible to radiation damage than men. They were smaller on average, requiring less space, less food, less air. And sociological studies pointed to the idea that they did better when crammed together in tight spaces for long periods of time. This was controversial, as it got into fraught topics of nature vs. nurture and whether gender identity was a social construct or a genetic program.
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An old market had stood there until I'd been about six years old, when the authorities had renamed it the Olde Market, destroyed it, and built a new market devoted to selling T-shirts and other objects with pictures of the old market. Meanwhile, the people who had operated the little stalls in the old market had gone elsewhere and set up a thing on the edge of town that was now called the New Market even though it was actually the old market.
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Unix is not so much a product as it is a painstakingly compiled oral history of the hacker subculture. It is our Gilgamesh epic: a living body of narrative that many people know by heart, and tell over and over again-making their own personal embellishments whenever it strikes their fancy. The bad embellishments are shouted down, the good ones picked up by others, polished, improved, and, over time, incorporated into the story. [... ] Thus Unix has slowly accreted around a simple kernel and acquired a kind of complexity and asymmetry about it that is organic, like the roots of a tree, or the branchings of a coronary artery. Understanding it is more like anatomy than physics.
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Like any place in Reality, the Street is subject to development. Developers can build their own small streets feeding off of the main one. They can build buildings, parks, signs, as well as things that do not exist in Reality, such as vast hovering overhead light shows and special neighborhoods where the rules of three-dimensional spacetime are ignored.
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Virtually all political discourse in the days of my youth was devoted to the ferreting out of hypocrisy... Because they were hypocrites, the Victorians were despised in the late twentieth century. Many of the persons who held such opinions were, of course, guilty of the most nefarious conduct themselves, and yet saw no paradox in holding such views because they were not hypocrites themselves-they took no moral stances and lived by none.
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I try to find a style that matches the book. In the Baroque Cycle, I got infected with the prose style of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, which is my favorite era. It's recent enough that it is easy to read - easier than Elizabethan English - but it's pre-Victorian and so doesn't have the pomposity that is often a problem with 19th-century English prose. It is earthy and direct and frequently hilarious.
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Most of my colleagues go on backpacking trips when they have to do some thinking. I go to a good hardware store and head for the oiliest, dustiest corners. ... If they're really good, they don't hassle me. They let me wander around and think. Young hardware clerks have a lot of hubris. They think they can help you find anything.... Old hardware clerks have learned the hard way that nothing in a hardware store ever gets bought for its nominal purpose. You buy something that was designed to do one thing, and you use it for another.
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Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.
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Am I a technocrat? Im just a guy who went down to the bookstore and bought a couple of textbooks on TCP/IP, which is the underlying protocol of the Internet, and read them. And then I signed on to a computer, which anyone can do nowadays, and I messed around with it for a few years, and now I know all about it. Does that make me a technocrat?
Hiro is a talented drifter. This is the kind of lifestyle that sounded romantic to him as recently as five years ago. But in the bleak light of full adulthood, which is to one's early twenties as Sunday morning is to Saturday night, he can clearly see what it really amounts to: He's broke and unemployed.
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At the beginning of the project, I wasn't certain that I could come up with an engaging storyline and cast of characters in this world, so I had a strong bias toward actually writing, and worrying about research later. In other words, I was afraid that I'd devote a year or two of my life to grinding through Kant and Husserl, then discover that there simply was no novel to be written here.
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Coming up with lectures is a huge amount of work. I was willing to do one lecture for Gresham because I was honored to have been invited, but to create lectures for a class would probably require that I shut down everything else and concentrate on lectures for a couple of years. Then there would be many, many other skills that I'd have to learn, such as how to sit through a faculty meeting, how to deal with students, etc. It is really not in the cards for me. It's not who I am or what I do. I'm a novelist.
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When I read a novel that I really like, I feel as if I am in direct, personal communication with the author. I feel as if the author and I are on the same wavelength mentally, that we have a lot in common with each other, and that we could have an interesting conversation, or even a friendship, if the circumstances permitted it. When the novel comes to an end, I feel a certain letdown, a loss of contact. It is natural to want to recapture that feeling by reading other works by the same author, or by corresponding with him/her directly.
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It would be quite unusual for me to get deep into a project and then shitcan it. One of the advantages of having done this for a while is that I have a better sense than I used to of when something is or isn't working. Until I developed that sense, this was a pretty dicey career for me, both in terms of paying the rent, and emotional wear and tear.
Any strategy that involves crossing a valley accepting short-term losses to reach a higher hill in the distance will soon be brought to a halt by the demands of a system that celebrates short-term gains and tolerates stagnation, but condemns anything else as failure. In short, a world where big stuff can never get done.
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I really am just trying to tell stories. But stories are often grounded in larger events and themes. They don't have to be - there's a big literature of trailer-park, kitchen-table fiction that's just about goings-on in the lives of ordinary people - but my own tastes run toward stories that in addition to being good stories are set against a backdrop that is interesting to read and learn about.
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