Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hardline Atheists Condemn Sleep and Sex as Irrational

Dateline: SPRINGFIELD, MI—Speaking jointly at a press conference after coming to a unanimous decision at this year’s Skepticon, held at Missouri State University, representatives of the New Atheist movement condemned sleep and sex for being irrational.

“Religious faith is clearly unreasonable,” said author Sam Harris, “but so are your unconscious dreams and so is your sex life. If we’re going to survive the coming technological advances, we’ve got to smarten up and cut all ties to our primitive ancestry. We’ve got to become posthuman.” Asked how Harris handles his biological needs for sleep and sex, he told reporters that he expects we’ll soon develop the technology to allow the brain to cope without the input of the irrational subconscious and with a permanent state of insomnia. Until then, he said rationalists should keep a journal of their dreams and “berate and flagellate” themselves each morning if the dreams they recall having had “descend into the fantastic.”

“As for sex,” biologist Richard Dawkins cut in, “it helps to be British. Puritanical prudishness and the effeteness following the decline of your country’s empire go a long way to making you sufficiently embarrassed about sex’s animalistic aspects to learn how to repress your wayward lusts.” Reminded that Dawkins has written about the need to appreciate nature’s beauty, he said that poetry and a sense of wonder are alright “as long as one employs the deflationary technique of understatement and keeps a stiff upper lip.”

The biologist PZ Myers pointed out that the problem isn’t just irrationality; it’s when irrationality becomes dangerous. “People kill for God, but they also kill for sex,” he said. “Families break apart due to affairs. When we’re overcome by sex hormones we may not wear protection and so we transmit diseases. Moreover, we set a terrible example, hiding our degrading sex life, keeping that skeleton in the closet even as we rightly ridicule religious folks for their lunacy.” Our unconscious biases, too, he said, “drive us to all manner of counterproductive prejudices. We mustn’t allow our unconscious to rear its ugly head, not even in our dreams.”

Biologist Jerry Coyne added that we can maintain the human population using artificial insemination, “to avoid the follies of romance and sexual play.” He said that as a child he loved to dream he was Superman and he could fly just by holding out his arms. But when he learned we can fly only with airplanes or the like, he “condemned that dream as a piece of foolishness.” Dawkins went further, saying we should punish our kids when they “indulge in games of pretense. Faith-heads abuse their children by teaching them nonsense,” he said, “and we rationalists must do the opposite, teaching them reason and science; else there shan’t be a counterweight to religious superstition and we’ll be on the brink of extinction.”

Historian Richard Carrier told a story of how a little girl approached him at Skepticon, holding a ball of aluminum foil and calling it the moon. “I told her it’s not the moon and that if she tried to hold up the moon it would crush her flatter than a pancake. The girl ran off crying and I relished each and every one of those tears, because they signaled her growing disenchantment with the world. We can’t afford to be irrational anymore; technological advances have raised the stakes too high.”

Philosopher Daniel Dennett reported that he’s working on a device to alert him when someone nearby is entering REM sleep, during which time the person “would be expected to have begun spoiling her rational mindset with a foolish dream.” He warned that he intends to drive around at night, to locate “the offenders against Reason,” and to blast his car horn “to set things right.” Dennett then proudly showcased the new logo for New Atheism. It features a stylized drawing of a man, holding a hammer in each hand and smashing his heart with one hand and his genitals with the other.

Friday, October 25, 2013

God Decays has arrived!

My first novel, God Decays, is now available as a paperback from CreateSpace, which is Amazon’s self-publishing company. The book is also available from Amazon and from Amazon Europe (search for "God Decays" in the European site of your choice).

For some reason, I get higher royalties if the book is purchased from the CreateSpace page as opposed to Amazon itself. So if you’re interested in buying the book and you’d like more of the money to go to me, you’d want to buy it from CreateSpace.

I’m very proud of this novel. I wrote the first draft in 4 or 5 months and it was so much fun. But this novel is only the beginning of at least a 4-volume series I have planned. The scope is going to be epic.

The image at the left, of that zombie standing in front of a galaxy/halo was meant to be included in the book. Unfortunately, I couldn't get the resolution to work. (Microsoft Word or some other program kept lowering the resolution, so the printed copy looked fuzzy.) So there's the picture. I'll have to figure out the resolution issues for the next book so I can include more art in it.

Here are the first several chapters of the book, minus the snazzy formatting and fonts. Warning: God Decays falls within the horror genre, so there’s some gore in it as well as coarse language.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Update Schedule

Regular readers of RWUG might want to know how I plan to keep updating this blog. I’m aiming to post an article every Monday or perhaps Tuesday and a satirical report, such as the new one below on Pope Francis, every Thursday. That’s the new schedule. And the purpose of the Onion-style, satirical news reports is to add some comedy to these philosophical rants. I've got some other plans as well...

Oh, and my novel God Decays should be out in just a day or two.


Pope Francis's Superficial Christlikeness is Miraculous, Observers Say

Dateline: VATICAN—Experts agree that Pope Francis has made a concerted effort to change people’s impression of the Catholic Church, by adopting a less ostentatious style of public relations, leading non-Christians and Christians alike to be astonished that a Christian in the modern age would dare to be even superficially Christlike.

Instead of staying in the papal apartments in the Apostolic Palace, the pope lives in a guesthouse, he wears simpler vestments than his predecessors, he drives in a 30-year old, nonfortified, used Renault instead of the traditional Popemobile, he carries his own luggage, he meets people from his front door rather than from a balcony, he washed the feet of criminal offenders, and he took the name Francis in honour of the saint who devoted himself to humility and the poor.

All of which has perplexed observers of the Church. “Granted, these are only symbolic gestures,” said Spanish Catholic Carlos Fandangle, “and no one in their right mind expects this or any other pope to push for big changes in Church doctrine. But who could dream that a Christian nowadays would take even a single baby step towards acting like Jesus! It’s just baffling.”

According to a Church historian, Joey Frogbottom, “Pope Francis’s superficial acts of humility are mystifying to millions of people who are used to seeing Christians utterly betray the obvious spirit of Jesus’s message as it’s presented in the Gospels. After two thousand years of the churches’ betrayals and compromises with secular empires, seeing a Christian today act even a little like Jesus is akin to witnessing an alien from another galaxy landing on Earth and going about its bizarre activities. It’s hard to process what we’re seeing with Pope Francis’s signs of humility, because those signs of Christian life are so rare among Christians.”

Hubert Hornswaggler, an American who identifies as an atheist, admits that Pope Francis’s behaviour has forced him to take a second look at the Church. “Living in the US,” he said, “I’m used to seeing Christians trample Jesus’s teachings like they were written on toilet paper. I mean, it’s like Christians hear what Jesus said people should do—give up riches and thoughts of vengeance, sex, and family, and dedicate yourself entirely to God as if, you know, you actually believed that this God exists—but they just decide to do the opposite and still call themselves Christian. But now here comes Pope Francis and he makes me think it’s possible for a Christian not to be so thoroughly anti-Christian. It’s almost a miracle.”

However, Ralph Reed, the eternally-young American Christian activist, criticizes the pope for his effrontery. “Only Jesus can be Jesus,” he said. “We’re afflicted with original sin and we shouldn’t pretend we can do any good. When we appear to do good, that’s only God acting through us. God deserves all the credit. That’s why we should give in to sin and embrace the savage policies of the Republican Party, so that we can finally ruin our world and force God to show Himself and fix everything. Pope Francis is giving us false hope and that’s an outrage. The last thing a Christian should do is try to emulate Jesus.”

American preacher and reputed prosperity theologian, Joel Osteen, agrees with that criticism. “God wants us to be happy on Earth, not just in Heaven,” he said, “but God knows we’re imperfect creatures. Happiness now requires that we submit to our flaws rather than pretend to be perfect like Jesus. Real Christians appreciate that the New Testament is irrelevant and that the teachings we should be following look a lot like some of the libertarian ones in the Satanic Bible. Christians should try to be as selfish and deceitful as possible, because that’s how flawed creatures like us can best be happy here and now.”

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

The Problem of Evil and the Role of Omega Spirituality

The theological problem of evil or of unnecessary suffering in the world is one of the oldest problems with theistic belief, finding its first logical expression in the West over two thousand years ago, in the Epicurean Paradox. That theological problem is also clearly insoluble, because it’s rooted in the nature of ideals. An ideal is counterfactual, since the point of having an ideal is to improve some actual situation by changing it to more closely resemble the ideal. The monotheistic God is thought of as the highest ideal, as both the ideal subject and object. Whatever we think of as most perfect (if anything), that becomes our divinity. In polytheistic systems, gods represent perfection in their spheres of operation, so that the god of wind is considered to be the primary source of that phenomenon and to have absolute control over it. All such natural powers, together with supernatural ones we can barely imagine such as the power to create the whole universe are combined in the idea of the monotheistic God. But by merely having such an ideal in mind, we condemn our religion to being badly flawed as long as we distinguish that ideal from the present natural reality, since nature must then necessarily be a letdown in comparison. The problem of evil isn’t just about the Nazis or baby animals being eaten in the wild. These are just some obvious examples of the more universal conflict between ideality and reality. We form ideals because we’re unsatisfied with something and we’d like it to better reflect the imagined possibility. But as soon as this conflict arises, so too does the question of why the world isn’t already more ideal. Why does that conflict exist? Why isn’t the world already perfect to obviate the need to imagine God? Why isn’t God all that there is? Why, instead, would God have created an imperfect world? Ideals versus reality: that’s the basis of the problem of evil.

Here’s a particularly chilling example of this problem. A month or so ago in a zoo in eastern China, a mother elephant stepped on her baby. Zookeepers treated the calf’s injuries and returned him to his mother, whereupon she again stomped on him. The zookeepers then permanently separated the two, realizing that the mother was rejecting her baby and indeed trying to kill him. The calf then reportedly cried inconsolably for five hours straight, because he couldn’t bear to be apart from his mother, not understanding that his mother wanted him dead. The story ends happily enough, with the zookeepers adopting the baby elephant, but the facts of the case are still horrifying. Infanticide among animals happens when the parents are held captive in zoos or in sanctuaries, because they lack role models and don’t know how to raise their babies, but baby-killing also happens in the wild. The evolutionary reason is that because the environment in which many animals live is harsh rather than idyllic, a parent faces something like Sophie’s choice: she has more than one baby, using one or more as backups, and as soon as circumstances reveal one to be the strongest, she focuses on raising that one and abandons or kills the others. She kills them either to end their doomed life quickly and mercifully or to make life easier for her favourite offspring, eliminating some competition for the limited resources.

So that’s why this sort of thing happens. But just consider the horror for a moment. After all, the baby elephant is unaware of any of those reasons. He instinctively loves his mother and wouldn’t have time to blame her for stomping him to death, because before he could realize that something is amiss, he’d be dead. In many species, the evolutionary reason for the baby’s unconditional love of its mother is also clear: if the baby can’t care for itself, the baby depends on the mother and the love bond ensures that the baby will stay near its protector and will do as it’s told. What’s so heartbreaking about this incident in the zoo is that something as innocent and pitiful as a baby’s love for its mother should be so inconsequential in light of certain natural necessities. We have a na├»ve ideal of how family life should be and then we learn that nature includes this sort of twisted family dynamic. Instead of caring for her helpless baby, the mother makes a cold calculation, born out of the sort of pragmatism you seem to need to survive for long in the wild. The environment’s inhospitality grinds down parents that aren’t born with evil intentions; presumably, this mother elephant would prefer not to kill her young, but she knows no other way to fulfill her survival instincts. And all the while, the precious baby elephant is kept in the dark. How many baby elephants, monkeys, pandas, and young members of many other mammalian species have expected their mother to care for them only to be taught a shocking evolutionary lesson, to be beaten to death by the one they most trusted! How many such deaths have gone unrecorded?

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Man with Tourette Syndrome Makes Fools of us all

Dateline: CLEVELAND—Horace Tabernacle is a 43-year old man with Tourette Syndrome, who displays a variety of vocal and motor tics, including the most infamous tic: for no apparent reason, he frequently shouts profanity in public, like the N-word or the C-word, horrifying bystanders and sometimes causing riots that have to be quelled by police. In fact, chaos seems to swirl around Horace like tornado winds around the eye of the storm.

For example, this RWUG reporter accompanied Horace as he visited the supermarket to shop for vegetables. Stopping at the avocados, Horace pointed at the dark-hued vegetables and shouted, “Those are the niggers. See? Right there, niggers! Niggers!” Some of the patrons within earshot appeared deeply offended. They scowled or shook their head. Parents covered their children’s ears and steered them away from Horace, realizing instantly that he was mentally unstable. Other shoppers were enraged rather than just embarrassed that the decorum set by Muzak had been upset by Horace’s outburst. An African-American woman picked up an avocado and launched it at Horace’s head, shouting “Who are you calling a nigger, you cracker!” Rubbing his head with one hand, he waived the woman off with the other, saying “Not you, not you, you’re a cunt.” A scuffle ensued which had to be broken up by security guards, who threw Horace out of the supermarket.

“That happens to me all the time,” he said later in an interview about his experience with the disorder. “I try to control the tics, but normal people don’t understand that it’s impossible. They go crazy when I’m around; I think they get crazier even than me. People should know I never use the power words as insults. Why would I? The insults wouldn’t even make sense half of the time. No, I shout them for the joy of it. Some words or phrases I love because they sound funny, like ‘bouillabaisse,’ ‘Come off it, soffit!’ or ‘tackleberry richenbacker.’ When I’m showering or waiting in line somewhere, I might say one or more of those silly phrases over and over, like a mantra. I know they sound strange, but chanting them comforts me. They’re tics, like itches that feel good when they’re scratched.”

Other words, however, Horace likes to shout because of their raw and somewhat mystifying power. “The N-word and the C-word aren’t fun to say just because of how they sound when their letters are pronounced. But I know the impact their meanings have on ordinary folks who are just trying to go about their business. It’s like those words are volcanoes and I delight in watching the explosions; people’s reaction to them is sublime. It’s like my irrationality is contagious, like everyone still believes in the magic power of words even though we’re all supposed to be modern.”

Psychiatrist Alfred Shiksamonger theorizes that the conventions of political correctness help civilize average citizens of technologically advanced societies, by forcing us to repress our “mythopoeic instincts.” We have the same faith in magic and spirits as our ancient ancestors did, he said, but the “hyperrationality of modern machines” drives us to compete on their level. “We civilized adults sacrifice the animal within to beat machines at their game; we adapt to the new niche, repressing ourselves to fit in and not stand out. Our personas are programmed.”

Monday, October 14, 2013

Naturalizing Normativity: A Reply to Scott Bakker

In Leaving it Implicit, Scott Bakker throws down the gauntlet: normativity, our idealistic judgments about good and bad aren’t what we assume they are in our everyday social dealings, because those judgments could apply only to mechanisms, there being no such things as goodness or badness in the natural world. If you think otherwise, Scott says, you’ve got a lot of explaining to do, given science-centered ontology. Moreover, naturalism doesn’t imply normativity just because naturalists use terms that can be interpreted normatively, because those terms can also be interpreted in mechanistic ways. Thus, the time of reckoning is nigh and the apocalypse will come not at the hands of some angry parent in the sky but through our advances in objectively understanding the world.

Framing the Issue

I’m going to try to break down Scott’s argument and my response to it with a minimum of jargon and I aim to chart new territory instead of rehashing our previous discussion. So what I noticed when I read “Leaving it Implicit” is that Scott’s conclusions follow in part from his way of framing the issue. He makes certain background assumptions and if you accept them, you’ll be more favourably inclined to heeding his prediction that all folk psychological categories will be eliminated as premodern bits of magical thinking. Three of these assumptions are as follows. 

First, he assumes that Western philosophy is a protoscience, that philosophers are after theories that explain the facts, that they employ a second-order, meta-language which is meant to support our first-order, natural one. For example, Scott says, “From the mechanical perspective, in other words, the normative philosopher has only the murkiest idea of what’s going on. They theorize ‘takings as’ and ‘rules’ and ‘commitments’ and ‘entitlements’ and ‘uses’—they develop their theoretical vocabulary—absent any mechanical information…” (my emphases). Notice how normative philosophy is here assumed to be in the business of providing theories, but because philosophical theories are worse than scientific ones, the former are at best murky ideas. Scientists use their methods to test their theories of the external world, whereas normative philosophers rely on intuition, which makes for less reliable theories. Likewise, Scott speaks of philosophies of meaning and normativity as “controversial sketches,” compared to what we know of the brain, the latter being the “most complicated mechanism known.” Finally, Scott says, “My first order use of ‘use’ no more commits me to any second-order interpretation of the ‘meaning of use’ as something essentially normative than uttering the Lord’s name in vain commits me to Christianity.” This distinction between first- and second-order interpretations, which Scott makes in a number of writings, is consistent with the science-centered construal of philosophy as a protoscience. The assumption is that philosophers are trying to reductively explain the phenomena that reveal themselves in ordinary language, such as our talk of what symbols mean or of which actions are morally better than others.

Second, he thinks of mental processes as heuristics and he interprets heuristics not just as naturally selected procedures, but as solutions to what he calls “narrow problem ecologies” (my emphasis). This means that a mental process is a naturally selected and thus flawed shortcut to aid us in our endeavour to survive, because Mother Nature is a blind designer and she had limited resources at her disposal. One flaw of our thought processes is that they’re blind to their mechanical nature: we evolved to be preoccupied with external threats, not with internal truths, which is why our main senses point outward, leaving us with little information indicating the mind’s nature. Scott further assumes that because heuristics are made more efficient in so far as they leave out information, that deficiency limits their optimal areas of application. Scott says, for example, that “They [normative philosophers] have no inkling that they’re relying on any heuristics at all, let alone a variety of them, let alone any clear sense of the narrow problem-ecologies they are adapted to solve…We know that heuristics possess problem ecologies, that they are only effective in parochial contexts” (my emphases). By “parochial,” Scott means that those heuristics have a very narrow scope of effectiveness. Again, he says, “On the mechanical perspective, normative cognition involves the application of specialized heuristics in specialized problem-ecologies—ways we’ve evolved (and learned) to muddle through our own mad complexities” (my emphasis). Notice the connection here between the fact that nature equips us only with ways of muddling through the problem of figuring out our inner nature, and the specialized or narrow range of problems our heuristics are adapted to solve.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Talking Points should be delivered to Empty Rooms, Politicians and Journalists Agree

Dateline: WASHINGTON—At an unprecedented conference yesterday on relations between journalism and democratic government, Washington correspondents together with congressional leaders and the President reached an understanding about their public communications: from now on, the politician will deliver his or her talking points to an empty room.

At a subsequent press conference, House Speaker Boehner said that although talking points are useless if no one hears them, “no one takes talking points seriously anymore.” Politicians are “professionally and psychologically incapable of being candid in public,” he said, or of “listening carefully to a journalist’s questions and answering them to fulfill their side of the bargain in a genuine conversation.” But since “spinning issues in a stony-faced evasion of whatever the listener is saying” is part of a politician’s job description, the politician might as well deliver the spin without the intended listeners being in any way present.

The reader should be aware that because that press conference was the first of its kind and the House Speaker was therefore speaking to two hundred empty seats, the present RWUG reporter can only imagine that that was his rationale for agreeing to the conclusions reached at the conference. Political analyst Peter Beinart explains that not even robot-operated cameras will be allowed to record the events. That way, correspondents will be prevented from even indirectly paying any attention to the talking points. “The trick is to ignore them completely,” he said, “to retaliate against the politician’s ignoring of whatever the journalist is saying.”

According to this RWUG reporter’s imagining of what President Obama said in his later press conference to motivate this new era of American government-media relations, he said, “If you look carefully at how I handle questions at a press conference, you’ll see quite clearly that I just couldn’t care less about the actual content of those questions. Either way, I’m going to ram through my talking points. You could ask me about what’s happening in Timbuktu and I’d pivot to giving my multi-paragraph history lesson on how we reached the current American budget crisis, to frame that issue and make my policy seem the only responsible option. The same goes for every modern president before me.”

Questioned by a Washington correspondent—whom this RWUG reporter imagines might have spoken at Speaker Boehner’s press conference, had there been a single journalist in attendance—as to what political journalists should write about if they’re no longer transmitting the talking points, Speaker Boehner might have said, “They’ll just have to make stuff up. As it is, no one trusts the media either anymore.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tea Party Advocates Destruction of All of America (Except its Golf Courses)

Dateline: WASHINGTON—Senator and reputed Tea Party leader Ted Cruz introduced a resolution to the Senate yesterday, calling for the immolation of all of the United States apart from its golf courses. Speaking in favour of the motion on the congressional floor, he said he “wished to clarify the Tea Party message in response to misconceptions of Republican anarchism.”

He opposes what he called “the Democrats' slander of patriotic Americans,” according to which Tea Partiers are “bomb-throwing, black-mask wearing nihilists and anarchists.” Rank-and-file members of the populist movement mustn’t be mistaken for "rabble-rousers of that degenerate variety," he said, because Tea Partiers have learned from "the failures of their ideological cousins." “If you want to break a window,” said Sen. Cruz, “you throw a rock. If you want to blow up a small business, you toss a Molotov cocktail. But if you want to destroy almost all of a country, you take control of its political process so you can hit the self-destruct button.”

Questioned later by reporters about why his motion would explicitly spare the golf courses, Sen. Cruz said “We’re not barbarians,” adding that while most Tea Party voters have likely never played golf, they know enough to use golf-obsessed political representatives to achieve their goal of destroying themselves by laying waste to the American infrastructure and to most of the country’s landscape. “To get the job done right, you need professionals,” said Sen. Cruz. “The new breed of Republican leaders is made up of full-bore, big-picture anarchists. We don’t fool around with rinky-dink mobs. And we’re just absolutely obsessed with golf.”

Political analysts credit that obsession as the reason why the Tea Party doesn’t advocate the wholesale slaughter of the nation by the launching of nuclear missiles against itself. “What would happen to the golf courses, then?” pointed out one such analyst. “That’s the sticking point, you see. If you want to destroy modern civilization, but you also happen to just adore stepping onto the fairway and swinging away at that golf ball, you have to be careful about how you go about your business. You can’t lay about willy-nilly with crude grenades, since you might just hit a golf course.”

Asked why his resolution specifies that American society be “immolated,” or burned as a sacrifice, Sen. Cruz said, “Well, that proves we’re not nihilists, doesn’t it! That’s contrary to the scurrilous rumours you often hear from the other side of the aisle. No, we don’t believe in nothing. We believe in Azathoth, the God of Chaos, and He demands human sacrifice.”

Speaking at a fundraiser, David Koch, the wealthy financier of the Tea Party, which he called the “anarchist heart of the GOP,” welcomed the clarification. “I’m appalled by almost every facet of American society and have spent millions trying to tear it down. But I really love to dress up in gaudy, thousand dollar outfits and drive around highly-exclusive golf courses with my servile caddy and tungsten-weighted Maruman clubs in tow.”

Asked what would become of capitalism and big business if most of the country were burned to the ground “so that Azathoth might inhale the smoke rising from the flames,” as Sen. Cruz put it, Koch said “Business would proceed, of course. In fact, we’d finally have a perfectly free market. It would be every man for himself, free to do whatever he wants as long as he’s a billionaire golfer. Haven’t you people been listening to anything we Republicans have been saying?”

Monday, October 7, 2013

Prisoners of the Power Pyramid

Todd Frogonherben parked his mother’s sedan in the lot of the Convention Centre for the monthly Omega Gathering. He glanced in the rearview mirror at the balding dome of his head, the red blotches around his ears and forehead, and the dandruff that marked the spots where he habitually twirled his remaining greasy locks when nervous, which was often. Sighing, he double-checked his wallet to ensure he’d brought his identification card. There it was: a photo of his miserable face and hunched shoulders besides which the classification “Omega” stood out, typed in bold above his age, date of birth and home address. Strapping on his backpack which he’d had since high school, he left the car, waited in line for half an hour, displayed his ID card to the beta at the door, and took a floor plan from the brochure rack.
Dressed in cheap shirts and jogging pants, and challenging the Centre’s air conditioners with their questionable body odour, thousands of underemployed, undersexed and introverted omega men swarmed the aisles of the convention. They hounded alphas for their autograph, paid for photos with their favourite seduction artist, squealed with glee as they lay on stage while alphas ceremoniously ground their flabby bellies beneath the soles of their thousand dollar Italian shoes, or sat in packed program rooms where panels of Game experts lectured or led workshops.
Those lessons were all fantasies, of course, thought Todd. Not that the rules of the Game didn’t apply; naturally they did, but only alphas could fairly win. The shy, bitter, overweight, ugly, or mentally ill omega men could be coached all they liked, but everyone knew that was just for the vicarious thrill of pretending you were something you’re not. It was like those cooking shows that bored people liked to watch even though they never bothered with any of the recipes in their home cooking.
In years past, Todd had cowered on that stage and sat in those lecture halls too, but this month he was here on business.
After roaming the aisles, he stood for an hour in another line until he earned an audience with Alpha Lord Scott Derringer, Wall Street bank VP at 26 and nationally renowned pickup artist and cocksman. It was like beholding an Olympian god: you dared not raise your eyes for long, but when you did catch a glimpse of his perfectly square jaw, prominent chin, piercing gaze, and muscular physique beneath his tailored suit, you began to share the alpha’s disgust with you—assuming you weren’t an alpha yourself. Todd berated himself like a crazy person on a street corner, bewailing his homeliness, his poverty, his many personal failures and failings.
“That’s enough of that,” Scott said. “I don’t have all day. If you’re into masochism, that underling there will show you to Stage B.”