Mark of the Raven

What if you could enter someone’s dreams? Inside their dreamworld you would discover their greatest fears. You could use their darkest secrets against them.

This darkness you found now wielded as a weapon to kill.

In Morgan L. Busse‘s Mark of the Raven, Lady Selene has been gifted as a dreamwalker. The eldest daughter in the House of Ravenwood, she has inherited what generations of women in her family before her have also known. All seven Great Houses of the realms have differing giftings, but her mother teaches Selene the purpose of hers.

She is to become an assassin for hire and serve the dark schemes of her mother.

I have read many books where the Light and Darkness face off. Usually the characters are either-or: Either bad, or good. In Raven, we see Lady Selene struggle with what is apparently her fate. She believes she has no choice. It’s not clear, even when faced with the Light, if she will, or can, veer off the path she was born into. Morgan Busse tells Selene’s story of struggle with the depth that will resonate with people in the real world. And that’s what makes fiction like this a powerful force:

Among the fantastic, truth is revealed. Reality in the midst of fantasy.

Not coincidentally, I’m sure, I had just finished Lacey Sturm’s telling of her real-life story in The Reason. Surrounded by the Darkness she nearly gave in, but she to encountered the Light and had to make a choice. Lady Selene’s world may be fiction, but it is a story many find themselves in.

In Mark of the Raven, Morgan L. Busse has crafted an absorbing tale, where the reader will viscerally experience the struggle of Lady Selene, and be propelled to a breathless ending.

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The Reason

Darkness can feel honest, and honesty can be beautiful and feel so inspiring. But darkness stops short of resolution. It’s deceptive. You can’t see all that lurks within darkness. The things that inhabit darkness live there because you can’t see them; that way they can deceive you, pervert you, and ultimately destroy you from the inside out…The deception is evil in the sense that if we don’t stop it, it will kill us. – Lacey Sturm

Before Lacey Sturm became a platinum-selling musician (the former lead singer and cofounder of Flyleaf), she nearly ended her life. In a time where so many people seem to be adrift, and think they have no way out, here is one woman’s amazing story on finding purpose, on defeating the Darkness. The Reason is a book you’ll finish without putting it down.

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Who is Responsible for Education?

This podcast, Your Son Isn’t Lazy — How to Empower Boys to Succeed, has some great insights into boys and learning. If you listen closely, you may also notice some unspoken implications concerning our [the government’s] enlightened ways in educating children, which are causing the very problems that seem to increase with each generation.

My three maxims for education are these:

1. The person most responsible for your education is you.

2. The people most responsible for a child’s education is his or her parents.

3. Learning never ends.

If we adhered to these, would we constantly be trying to reinvent education, only to see it spiral further out of control?

P.S. Also check out Why Arizona’s Plan To Teach Kids Cursive Is Great For Kids where we learn, among other things, handwriting “engages the brain more deeply in creative thinking” and “strengthens students’ memories.”

Categories: Critical Thinking, education | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Among the Darkness

In the midst of all these shades of Sun, darkness, existence, and time are those shadows created by radiant light. Here is where the Light will dawn in the face of gathering darkness. As some men love the darkness, others search out the lights shining in the night. There, in the borderlands of existence as most people remain unaware, is where the conflict will play out. – Grayson Kirby, the Tower Keeper, Among the Shadows.

The conflict between Darkness and Light is a central theme in Among the Shadows, and throughout much of fiction. This face-off also exists in the physical world.

Paradoxically, Earth sits in one of the darkest corners of the Milky Way Galaxy, in a universe consisting of 99.73% darkness (dark matter and dark energy). A rare, bright blue orb floating in darkness — not the pale blue dot that the great evangelist of materialistic philosophy Carl Sagan often glumly intoned about.

Interestingly, if the properties of dark energy varied as little as one part in 10 to the 120th power, we would not exist. According to math and logic, chance cannot create such precision no matter how old the universe, nor how many fanciful multiverses one conjures.

Even the vast darkness of the universe is ultimately beholden to a bright blue light. As Darkness and Light battle it out on our world, the universe it sits in shows the war can be won.

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On Reading, and Not Reading

If you follow my Facebook page, you know I post links to some interesting articles around the web. Here’s a round-up of some recent favorites:

Have trouble finding time to read? Are you optimizing your reading time? What are you reading goals? Why You Need a Reading Plan will answer those questions and set you on a life-long adventure of reading.

In Reading The Great Books Well Should Transcend Moralism, Ramona Tausz asks, “Can books change you? Can they make you a better person? Most importantly, will you let them try?” Learn from the Great Books.

Find out if you suffer from Tsundoku, the practice of buying more books than you can read. Is this a bad thing?

Read the troubling, A Third Of Teens Haven’t Read A Single Book In Past Year, which writes:

Many [teens] simply don’t have experience delving into long-form texts. Learning to do so is imperative…as it lays the groundwork for developing critical thinking skills and understanding complex issues…

“Think about how difficult it must be to read even five pages of an 800-page college textbook when you’ve been used to spending most of your time switching between one digital activity and another in a matter of seconds.”

Follow on FB for more fascinating books, ideas and the cutting edge. Of course, stay here as well for longer discussions, Finding your Story, and the War Among the Shadows.

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The Ruins of Rome Speak to Us

Recently, I wrote that humanity can overcome the prophets of doom who predict all manner of ends to humanity. Perhaps their lack of hope arises from their belief the world is borne out of randomness. One may ask them, then why worry about our fate? For those who have not given up, who see purpose in the universe, and want to keep civilization from faltering, there are many tools at their disposal.

History is one.

What looks impossible in the present looks inevitable in hindsight.

Those are the words written by Lael Arrington when discussing the fate of ancient Rome. In hindsight, the events of history often evoke a certain question: How could they have not seen that coming? Probably because those people were saying: That could never happen to us.

Continue reading

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What is Tolerance?

“Treat people as equally valuable, but treat ideas as if some are better than others, because they are. Some ideas are true, some are false. Some are brilliant, others are dangerous. And some are just plain silly. Real tolerance is about how we treat people, not ideas. Classic tolerance requires that every person be free to express his ideas without fear of abuse or reprisal, not that all views have equal validity, merit, or truth.” – Greg Koukl

The claim that “all views are equally valid” is a logical contradiction, just as the belief that all ideas must be accepted and unchallenged is intellectually empty. Nor does challenging an idea make you “bigoted, disrespectful, ignorant…[or] intolerant.”

Tolerance is easy, and so is thinking — you just have to do it.

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Start Your Week with Some Brain Food

On learning:

“The worst thing you can ever do is think that you know enough. Never stop learning. Ever.” – Arnold Schwarzenegger

“Investing in yourself is the most important investment you’ll ever make in your life…There’s no financial investment that’ll ever match it.” – Warren Buffett

On thinking for yourself:

“People have to learn that consensus is a huge problem…consensus is how we bully people into pretending that there’s nothing to see.” – Eric Weinstein

“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it’s time to pause and reflect.” – Mark Twain

On testing what you believe:

“We can live in deceit and illusion until one day we hit the wall of reality. When our false beliefs collide with reality, we then have a choice: Will we live according to knowledge — true belief justified by good evidence? Or will we settle for illusion?” – Lael Arrington

On academic freedom:

“The university is not a safe space…it is a place to be confronted by horrible ideas…if you want to be safe, stay home with your mom…don’t come to university if you want to be safe. If the university is going to make you safe, then it ceases to be a university.” – Jordan Peterson

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Is Humanity Doomed?

If you have ever read about our ancestors, you were probably taught that, at the end of the last Ice Age, the citizens of North America hunted the many species of megafauna (giant mammals) to extinction. After all, why not assume terrible humans are responsible for all that death?

As it turns out, evidence has been growing of a planet-altering catastrophe as the cause. Most likely an impact event centered over North America (which endured most of the extinctions), with indications of impact craters littered across the East Coast.

Why is this so fascinating? Because it reminded me of the tendency of some people to immediately blame humans for every terrible event to befall the planet. These are the same people, with their dour and glum outlook, whom have been predicting for decades, that we only have a decade or two before we destroy the planet, run out of energy, and starve to death.

Then the decades pass, and the apocalyptic scenarios do not. Continue reading

Categories: Ancient America, History, Native Americans, Prehistory | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Beneath the Unclouded and Azure Sky

Readers were briefly introduced to Solana in Among the Shadows. In Book 2, Awakening, we will be seeing much more of Solana, the tamer of the tempest. What follows is a Lost Tale that takes place between the prologue and Chapter one of the first book…Anger burned in Solana’s eyes, the green light wild with fury.
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