Tuesday, November 17, 2015

How We Beat ISIS

As well-intentioned as we may be, it's not our place as non-Muslims to declare what is Islamic or un-Islamic. If you aren't a practicing or devout Muslim, or at least well-versed and well-studied on the Koran and associated written works, you cannot condemn Daesh or any militant jihadists as un-Islamic. In the same way that we couldn't take the doctrinal critique of Pope Francis's Encylical from someone who was not raised or educated in the Catholic faith. Now, we can present our viewpoints as outsiders and form opinions of our own, but critiquing finer points of the nature of Daesh's Islamic doctrine is not our place.

I think as members of the Western world, our place is to demonstrate and live up to the ideals we espouse: that secular democracy is a system that works, that cooperation across race, religion, social and economic status is the better alternative to radical violence and militancy. Unlike France, Germany, or other countries within the Western sphere, we lack the centuries-long history and common culture as a foundation for our country's identity. What we have instead is a set of ideals, established by folks who believed we could build something great here. Those ideals have proved their resilience, they have stood the test of time, and I firmly believe that if we continue to strive to live up and prove that, yes, THIS democratic, pluralistic, secular, cooperative culture exists, it will continue to exist.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Importance of Handwriting Your Stories

I still write by hand. 

Granted, I also type an awful lot -- last I checked, I clock about 75 WPM, and that's with my unorthodox typing style that primarily utilizes my pointer fingers, thumbs, and pinkies -- but when it comes to sitting down and writing creatively, I still, always have, and will continue to write by hand. I've often been asked by friends, family, concerned onlookers, etc. why I prefer this archaic method of putting pencil to paper and scribbling along. I've wondered myself.

Am I subconsciously working to fit this image in my head of a writer, bent over a desk in a dim room half-lit by an oil lamp, my fingers black with ink as I work to create a story? 

Do I like the scritch-scratch sound of ruffling sheets of paper, the tears of the frills as I shuffle through stacks of notebook paper ripped from spiral bindings? 

Maybe I just like the cramps and early warning signs of carpal tunnel that ache my hands and wrists?

Perhaps it's all of these things listed above and more. There's just something about writing by hand that's difficult to describe through these clunky keys as I write this blog post, but I will endeavor to do so. 

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Notebook: Last Vigil, Part Four

Last Vigil
By Blake Tan

Continued from part three:

She woke before the sun as she often did, the lamp at her desk dimmed, her back sore from the chair and her bed covers untouched. Jehanni had not slept lying down for what felt like an age. When she stood, she stretched to crack her back, her knees, and her shoulders. Age was catching up to her, but Jehanni would race ahead for as long as she could. Kormir was much older when she’d led the Sunspears against Varesh Ossa.

After slipping into her Vigil armor and buckling on her sword, Jehanni dragged a wet cloth across her face over the washbowl, enjoying the moment’s serenity and realizing that it might be her last. The Sound would be constant battle, sleep caught rarely and without pattern. Geirmund would not believe his warmaster would miss this peace but she would and not just the quiet, but the friends among the asura krewe she had made while posted here.

Nixx would be fine, she promised herself. The little genius could crack heads with the best of them, and he still had his friends in the Peacemakers, who were never far off in the Brisban Wildlands. But if the Peacemakers got themselves tied up with Inquest or the Nightmare Court, what then? Could the asura defend themselves without her?


Monday, February 10, 2014

Notebook: Last Vigil, Part Three

Last Vigil
By Blake Tan

Continued from part two:

Battle filled her dreams. Centaurs swarmed over the hills, their hooves kicking dust so thick she could only see their vague outlines as they closed the gap on the caravan.

“Seraph! Form line,” her throat dry and scratchy with dirt, bellowing over the din as her squad formed up around her. Two ranks, the front rank kneeling, their rifles leveled. Behind them, the merchants struggled to keep their pack bulls from panicking. “Fire!”

The shots rang in her ears. Bullets cut through the clouds of dust, finding their marks and the centaurs in the front of the charge buckling, their fellows leaping over their blasted corpses, whooping their battle-cries. “Load!”

Through her helmet she saw the centaurs wheel, rallying to their shaman. Splinters of earth leapt from the ground, knife-like shards of rock raining down on their positions. Jehanni lifted her shield, calling forth her protection magic, sheathing her soldiers in blue light.

“Fire!” More centaurs fell, their cries like the howling of wounded animals. Beside Jehanni, Corporal Taggart took an arrow in the neck, gasping, his hands trying to stop the bleeding. “Load!”

“Lieutenant! More centaurs on the ridge!” a faceless figure beside her, pointing, before another arrow pierced her warding aura, plunging into his chest.

Notebook: Last Vigil, Part Two

Last Vigil
By Blake Tan

Continued from part one:

Geirmund Gavelfist shook with disbelief, the laughter erupting from him like a geyser, globs of spittle and ale spraying down his chin. Beside the norn, Tactician Eris was more reserved, her lips silently forming words, as if in deep conversation. When Jehanni had asked her about it, Eris claimed she was communing with the Pale Tree, but the other sylvari in Jehanni’s unit claimed Eris was either faking it or just plain crazy.

“Are you done?” Jehanni asked when Geirmund stopped to breathe, snorting and chuckling, wiping snot from his beard. “Well, what do you think?”

“By the Spirits, warmaster, you’ve been dreaming of an assignment like this for as long as I’ve known you!” Geirmund roared, pounding his chest. “Let’s take the fight to Jormag! It’s time to crack the Fang of the Serpent, and Geirmund Gavelfist’s the norn to do it!”

Notebook: Last Vigil, Part One

Last Vigil
By Blake Tan

“Compliments from the marshal, warmaster.”

Jehanni looked up from the reports scattered across her desk, the magitech lamps flickering in the dim gloom of her makeshift office. Backlit by the moonlight outside, the messenger stood with an easy, unassuming posture, half slouching, his hands in the pockets of his overcoat and his mask pulled down around his neck to reveal a cocksure grin only an agent of the Order of Whispers would dare to wear in her presence.

“Nolan,” she said through gritted teeth, folding the corner of the page from Tactician Eris’s latest report. General Soulkeeper might be fool enough to trust the spies of the Order, but Jehanni knew to trust only in her own sword and shield. “Out with it and quickly. Unlike others in the Pact, I do not have time for foolishness.”

The agent tugged at his coat sleeves, pulling loose a folded letter from a hidden pocket. Still with that idiot grin on his face, Nolan handed the letter to her. “New orders from the marshal in Orr: The commander is leading the majority of Pact forces north. The norn in Hoelbrak have been pushing the Pact to engage Jormag in the northern Shiverpeaks, and Captain Magnus in Lion’s Arch is likely to join them in clamoring for another victory over the Elder Dragons.”

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

NaNoWriMo '13 Journal: Day 1 (err.. Day 5)

Let this month of madness begin! If you don't already know, November is National Novel Writing Month. During this time, authorial hopefuls such as I embark on a grand adventure with the the ups and downs of a drug-induced manic episode. There will be tears. There will be hardship. And hopefully, there will be pants-wetting, joyous celebration when December 1 rolls around and we hold up our finished novels in our ink-stained fingers.