I Read, Therefore I Judge

I’ve been reading the comments sections of posts. Perhaps a bit too much:

trollThe black cloud of negativity, who says things like:

“George R.R. Martin is the most overrated writer in the history of fantasy/sci-fi. His books read like a contract and substitute shock value for originality and talented story telling.”

“You want fluff, read a Dragonlance novel or that shite Gabaldon series.”

And I won’t even go into the comments on the #AskELJames fiasco on Twitter.

For the most part, those in many professions don’t get critiqued by total strangers online. Artists have become, for some unfathomable reason, the target for a kind of criticism that goes beyond taste. It isn’t enough these days to say a particular work isn’t the type you enjoy. It must be slammed into the ground, the artist portrayed as stupid, untalented, etc.

“I don’t like it” isn’t acceptable anymore. The very fact of dislike now impugns not only that work but everything an artist does and even who they are.

I wonder if those who do this have ever considered that wiping out the confidence and the desire of those who make art may leave them without anyone to criticize at all. How many artists give up under the weight of uninformed and untrue insults their work receives? And how many careers are damaged by the platforms so easily available to those whose only talent is to criticize?

I am reminded of an old adage: those who can, do. The twist these days comes in the second part of the saying: those who can’t, criticize.

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Why I Have A History Degree

I get a lot of polite smiles when I tell people I have a BA in History. Even my dad shook his head and told me how much he hated history classes, how boring they were. I get it, I really do. The feeling isn’t the same for me, but I understand why people’s eyes glaze over sometimes when they read history books. Too many of them are written by people who act as if they’re still doing it for a grade.

My story is pretty simple. I have a degree in History because of Math. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a passion for history. What I have is much less passion for Math. In fact, I don’t have any passion for Math. Nor any real aptitude for it. It’s a truly loveless relationship.

It isn’t that I didn’t try. I made it a week and a half in the math class I took at the local community college (the remedial one that failing the automated test puts you into so you can learn enough to take the lowest level of real math). I understood more of what was going on in the French class I took.

When I left to complete my BA at a university, I worried about the obstacle of another math class. Then I perused the requirements of the History department. The classes sounded great and there wasn’t a single math class listed. It was made for me.

I studied medieval and reformation Europe, the history of Africa and Germany along with a class on the fall of the Soviet Union. It was awesome. Don’t ever let anyone tell you college doesn’t have a place for everyone. Even History geeks can survive.