Slugs in Real Life

When real life starts to resemble the books you write, well…

leopard print slug pale highway nicholas conley

… Pale Highway fans will understand my amusement.

No, this little guy didn’t start talking to me, and definitely didn’t mention anything about a “Sky Amoeba,” but when I happened upon him in the backyard, I couldn’t help but take notice.

Hope you’re all doing well!

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Grunge.com: Fake archaeological finds that nearly changed history

Good morning, folks! Got another piece I wrote for Grunge.com, telling the history of archaeological hoaxes that made the world spin backwards—until they got found out, anyway. From the Cardiff Giant to the Kensington Runestone, here are some of the craziest.

Fake Archaeological Finds That Nearly Changed History

At some point in your childhood, you probably wanted to be an archaeologist. Depending on your age, it probably had a lot to do with either the Indiana Jones movies or Tomb Raider. Either way, nothing seemed cooler than digging out old bones, relics, or religious items, and then forcing those snobby history book editors to make revised editions. Real-life archaeology might not involve magical arks that melt people’s flesh off, but it’s still insanely cool: When archaeologists uncover ancient plumbing, statues, or fossils, they reveal the history of humanity, plug up the holes, and sometimes prove old theories wrong.

Every once in a while, though, a prankster gets in the mix and tries to cash in on some fake discovery. These turkeys always get found out sooner or later, but not without breaking some hearts on the way. Here are some of the biggest archaeological hoaxes that would have changed history.

Read More: https://www.grunge.com/131569/fake-archaeological-finds-that-nearly-changed-history/?utm_campaign=clip

Cluttered Bookcase? The Benefits of Horizontal Stacking

Ah, the conundrum of book storage. While many have jumped onto the “all e-reader, all the time” bandwagon, casting aside the dead tree paperbacks of the past for those newfangled digital tablets, there is still a sizable number of people who prefer the look, feel, and experience of actual books (disclaimer: I’m one of them). If you like reading books, the chances are that you also like displaying those books in a place where, presumably, others can look through and admire your truly exceptional reading taste.

But what if the shelf is too small for the number of books you have on it? Or what if you just keep reading more and more books, resulting in your entire living room turning into the world’s most disorganized library?

Well, here’s my proposed solution: stack your books horizontally, instead of vertically.

bookshelf books horizontal stack organization king gaiman house of leaves johnny gun

Ever since I discovered this crafty little trick a few years ago, it has saved me countless hours of struggling to fit too many books on too few shelves. It sounds simple, but it really works. While the standard vertical stacks of books make a shelf disappear faster than a Star Trek transporter,  horizontal stacking makes it so that no space is wasted. Every inch of shelf space carries multiple books on top of it.

Seriously, it works.

Of course, no system is without flaws, and horizontal stacking has one big downside: if you want to get one of the books from the bottom of the stack out, it can be annoying. Horizontal stacking also makes organization a bit trickier, if you’re going for that whole alphabetical thing. But honestly, these minor irritations are nothing compared to the longterm challenge of having no shelf space, or frustrating every person you live with by taking up all available living space with dozens of books that you’ve already read.

Find out for yourself, fellow book lovers! Maybe we’ll conquer the demon of proper space organization, once and for all! Or maybe not, but hey, it’s worth a try.

Time for a Grunge Roundup

Greetings, everybody! As longtime readers know, one of my regular assignments is writing for Grunge.com, where I explore topics from the sociological to the bizarre and otherworldly, depending on the day.  It’s been a while since I’ve linked you all to some of my more recent pieces, so here are a few favorites:

 

Messed up things about elementary school you only notice as an adult

messed up elementary school kid trauma problems

We all remember our elementary school days, but those memories aren’t always so happy. In this article, I examine some of the most inane and problematic policies guiding elementary schools in the United States, including the emphasis on competition (spoiler alert: competition actually inhibits learning), forcing kids to ask for a bathroom pass (who came up with that nonsense?) and why taking away recess actually makes unruly kids more unruly. Read on!

 

 

The bizarre true story of Bigfoot, America’s missing ape

sasqets bigfoot sasquatch native american

Is there really a hairy, humanoid creature wandering through the woodlands of the United States? Probably not, but you never know, and the world would be a lot more fun if there was. Regardless, the legend of sasquatch goes back surprisingly far: various versions of a bigfoot-like figure played key roles in the spiritual belief systems of multiple North American indigenous peoples. Here’s the story!

 

Secrets of living in Antarctica

antartica john kerry research south pole ice snow

Ever wondered who lives in Antartica, how long they stay there, or what they do? Ever wondered what kind of job applications those Antarctic stations might be taking? Wonder no more, because here are (some) answers. Learn the ropes, seek out the iciest continent, and who knows: maybe one day soon, you’ll join the ranks of the 300 Club, the esteemed group who do naked races from a 200 °F  sauna out into a -100 °F Antarctic night. Yes, really.

REBLOG: Something in the Nothing: A Radio Play

Nicholas Conley

Something in the Nothing Nicholas Conley Alzheimers radio play dementia nursing home new hampshire

From the author of Pale Highway comes a radio play that aired live on WSCA 106.1 FM in New Hampshire, on August 23rd, 2016. Set in a nursing home, Nicholas Conley’s Something in the Nothing tells the simple story of a conversation between an Alzheimer’s patient and his caregiver — a conversation that will have a dramatic impact upon both of their lives, forever.

Something in the Nothing stars the voices of John Pearson, Erika Wilson, Jessica Rainville, Jessie Duthrie, David Phreaner, and Suzy Manzi. The play was directed by John Lovering from an original script by Nicholas Conley.

Listen to Something in the Nothing below:

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The Problem with Paywalls

Over the past few centuries, it’s been said many times, in many ways, how the cornerstone of democracy is a free press. For the sake of having a more free and just society, we also want an informed society. Newspapers, news websites, news stations, and so on must have the freedom to write about anyone, or anything, at any time, in order to hold the world’s most powerful institutions in check. In the same way that news institutions need to sharply critique the policies of other institutions, though, it’s equally important for citizens to be able to carefully scrutinize the news they read: to ensure that all news sources, from the New York Times to JoeBillysNews.com (not a real site!), use proper citations, follow journalistic standards, correctly present information, don’t misrepresent facts, and so on, in order to make sure that the public isn’t just informed, but accurately informed.

So, in that spirit, I have a critique: what’s the deal with paywalls?

For those who might not be familiar with the term, “paywalls” are what we call those screens which flash up when you’ve read a couple articles on a specific news site, displaying a message along the lines of, “You’ve read 2 of 3 free articles this month. Please subscribe.” Once you read all 3 (or however many) articles, the news site will then cease to display “free” articles until the following month. Basically, you get walled out. Kinda like this:

brickwall paywall news paper

Now, I understand the principle behind this. New sources are a business. Understandably, that business needs to support itself, a task which has become more challenging in this era of digital revolution.  The problem? Getting people to actively read the news can already be a challenge, and that number is only going to dwindle further if doing so requires coughing up a weekly or monthly subscription.

The truth is, we live in the age of free information. If a news site puts up a paywall, it doesn’t encourage people to subscribe: it turns them away. This results in lower readership, which in the long run, damages the business. Paywalls are an attempt to impose old standards upon new formats, and they don’t work. The bigger problem, though, is one of ethics. The “must pay if you want to read the news” model isn’t just out of date, it’s dangerous for democracy.

As a writer myself, I strongly believe that clear, informative, well-sourced news should be freely available to every single person, of any class, of any demographic, in order to promote a more educated society. Paywalls are a form of classism: they create a fiscal barrier between lower-income individuals and proper news sources. There are countless individuals and families out there who simply can’t afford a monthly subscription, because if it comes to choosing between food, medication, or a newspaper, basic needs are going to win the wallet battle. As a result, paywalls run the risk of sending potentially informed individuals into badly-sourced, less-refined news sites, thereby resulting in a less educated populace. Kind of goes against the spirit of the free press, doesn’t it?

We should want a strong free press, but we also need a press that provides free information, as well. While news sources need to find new ways to support themselves, the immense disadvantages of paywalls (both for moral and business reasons) prove that they are an ineffective method, as well as being problematic for society at large.

What do you all think?