34 amazing first lines of famous books.

Read more: http://imgur.com/gallery/VNrye More »

ever wonder how to get your book reviewed?

Ever wonder “How to get my book reviewed”?

So you’ve published your book. Its been edited and published, and now you’re trying to figure out how to get to your potential readers. While starting your marketing campaign usually happens well More »

‘People are hungry for real bookstores’: Judy Blume on why US indie booksellers are growing

At 78, the multimillion-selling author has begun a new career, opening her own bookshop and joining a business sector thats flourishing again in the US   She might be a beloved and More »

People called Emma Watson a ‘white feminist.’ Now, she admits, they weren’t wrong.

Emma Watson has long prided herself on being a feminist.

And it’s not just lip service. The 27-year-old actress served as a United Nations Women Goodwill Ambassador and spoke to the assembly in 2014 about the importance of gender equality. She continues to speak out about women’s rights at almost every opportunity, even while promoting her films or walking the red carpet.

Watson is all-in, right?

Watson speaks during International Women’s Day at The Empire State Building. Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images.

But there’s one big problem: Watson’s brand of feminism has been really, really white.

White womanhood come with certain privileges and often positive assumptions. Since whiteness is often the default and traditionally ignored when it comes to race and ethnicity, white women are often turned off by the idea of being called ‘white feminists.’

In an open letter to her feminist book club, Our Shared Self, Watson admits this was her first reaction:

When I heard myself being called a “white feminist” I didn’t understand (I suppose I proved their case in point). What was the need to define me — or anyone else for that matter — as a feminist by race? What did this mean? Was I being called racist? Was the feminist movement more fractured than I had understood? I began … panicking.

Emma Watson speaks during a press conference to launch of the campaign ‘HeForShe’ at the United Nations Headquarters. Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images.

Why is Watson referred to as a white feminist?

Because like so many others, whenever she’d publicly advocated for women, Watson had largely ignored the unique challenges of women of color, who must navigate the twin burdens of racism and sexism. She’d also failed to recognize and acknowledge her own privilege and the role it played not only in her personal success, but in the upholding of white supremacist and patriarchal institutions the United Kingdom and the United States are based on.

It would have been more useful to spend the time asking myself questions like: What are the ways I have benefited from being white? In what ways do I support and uphold a system that is structurally racist? How do my race, class and gender affect my perspective?

Because if feminism doesn’t take racism, ableism, anti-LGBTQ aggression, poverty, and body negativity into account, then who exactly will it help? Who will get a seat at the table?

Demonstrators take part in ‘A Day Without a Woman’ rally. Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

But this year, after fully acknowledging her own shortcomings and missteps, Watson made a point to do better — and she’s inviting all of us to join her.

Emma Watson is not the only person, celebrity or otherwise, largely ignoring the unique needs of women of color, poor women, queer and trans women, working women, and disabled women. Calling herself out as part of the problem is significant. Making a point to improve and bringing others along is vital.

That’s why the next book in Watson’s book club is “Why I’m No Longer Talking to White People About Race” by Reni Eddo-Lodge. The books discusses the role of racism in historic and contemporary Britain and offers ways everyone can confront and challenge it.

I have since learned that being a feminist is more than a single choice or decision. It’s an interrogation of self. Every time I think I’ve peeled all the layers, there’s another layer to peel. But, I also understand that the most difficult journeys are often the most worthwhile. And that this process cannot be done at anyone else’s pace or speed.

Watson is encouraging fellow feminists to start listening to other voices in the movement, particularly those who are marginalized. This is a big step in the right direction.  

A women chants as people march in south London to protest against police brutality in the U.S.. Photo by Daniel Leal-Olivas/AFP/Getty Images.

Watson also thanked other women working in the movement for calling her out on her initially narrow view of feminism and allowing her to put in the effort to make it right. She’s already started connecting with other women of color to better understand their challenges and how she can use her privilege and status to signal-boost their work.

As human beings, as friends, as family members, as partners, we all have blind spots; we need people that love us to call us out and then walk with us while we do the work.

Activist Marai Larasi was Emma Watson’s guest at the 2018 Golden Globe Awards. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

Because there’s more to being a feminist than carrying a witty sign or wearing a pin on your jacket.

It’s doing the challenging ambitious work in your community and within yourself. It’s recognizing your own privileges and using them to uplift and support women who don’t get a fair shake.

It’s knowing that all of us have work to do when it comes to creating the world we deserve — but always believing it’s possible.

Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/people-called-emma-watson-a-white-feminist-now-she-admits-they-weren-t-wrong

Last Song and Dance by Christopher Woods

Story Summary

LAST SONG AND DANCE is an illustrated novel which tells the grim story of Cy Sullivan, failed alcoholic author who has returned to his hometown after years of scandal and disgrace, not in triumph but simply to die. He has but a week to compose his great American novella, Curse of the Blue Nun which he structures in relation to the seven days of creation in the Book of Genesis. A surrealist bible of sorts–but unlike the original, this one does not purport to be true.

Stylistic influences/parodies run the gamut from biblical parables, Shakespeare to various 20th century modernists—Joyce, Faulkner, Samuel Beckett, William Burroughs etc as well as film noir, supernatural horror and even Fellini. I employed a number of voices ranging from erudite to jail house slang to hillbilly (my Kentucky voice) so it’s a veritable literary collage. The artist at Bookfuel did a great job with my visual designs which were primarily inspired from Gustave Dore although it concludes with a pastiche of Grant Wood’s American Gothic which is quite nice. While this all sounds rather heavy and artistically over the top, Last Song and Dance is very much a black comedy which takes nothing seriously including itself or its failed author. The LSD initials of the title are appropriate given the hallucinatory quality of much of the writing. I believe there is a potential cult audience but as of today, it’s only sold three copies and there is no browsing on these sales sites nor is it visually displayed on Bookfuel’s site which is primarily genre or non fiction/ self help that sort of thing so it’s a bit of an orphan as such…

Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2BBqONP

San Francisco Book Review – 5 Stars

Christopher Woods has penned a curious yarn in the Last Song and Dance. The book is written in a unique style unlike any other. It addresses a chaotic set of contentious characters who dare to be noticed, each with an eagerness for confrontation. With wonderful black ink drawings that capture the mood of the characters of the story, the author paints an ominous narrative. Last Song can be compared to Sanctuary by Paul Monette for its imagery and imaginative style. Many of the illustrations feature symbolic references to the plot that add intrigue to the story, forcing you to reflect on the meaning of certain passages. Much of the narrative reads like dialogue, but conveys a meaning of reaching into the mind of the character. The storyline is complex, with a variety of characters who seem to share certain traits.

The storyline focuses on tested confrontations. Although these keep the reader busy, they add depth to the plot. It’s a little misdirected in places, giving the reader a chance to compare that part with other parts. This tends to function like a red herring in a mystery. You cannot tell if it’s a blooper or a ploy until you finish it. Sorry—no spoilers!

Christopher Woods does a fine job at depicting the characters with verbiage, the illustrations bringing them to life. The intricacy with which the characters are woven into the plot shows us only glimpses of what’s to come, kind of like a foreshadowing of events. The reader must do a lot of work to put the story together in his or her mind as he or she reads. This provides an overall aura of mystery, motivating the reader to keep turning the pages. And the text flows along fast, making it easy reading.

If you want to sit down and read something to contemplate and capture your attention, then you’ve come to the right work. Last Song kind of reads like a fairy tale or fable, yet some of the characters are using profanity that would not be appropriate for children under 18, and the characters appear to engage in behavior that would also not suit young readers.

Reviewed By: D. Wayne Dworsky

Last Song and Dance

Author Bio:

Christopher Woods is aging gracelessly in Louisville, KY, USA. He lives in a box with his failing typewriter, Clarabelle and albino blind/deaf creature, Spot who is over fifty years old and rumored to be the world’s oldest living dog, if that is indeed its species. This is the first novel by Mr. Woods and assistants Clarabelle and Spot but, in all likelihood, is their last song and dance

Heres What Happens If Magnificent Bastard Mueller Gets Fired

Bob Mueller is famously nonchalant amid life’s toughest moments. Much of that public calm stems from the fact that he’s a Magnificent Bastard and, specifically, the lessons of December 11, 1968. That day, then Second Lieutenant Mueller’s squad—part of the Second Platoon, Hotel Company, Second Battalion, Fourth Marine Regiment, the so-called “Magnificent Bastards”—was on patrol in Quang Tri Province when they came under heavy fire from as many as 200 North Vietnamese troops. They almost immediately began to take casualties.

Mueller organized a defensive perimeter and moved among his Marines, encouraging them to return fire; they fought for hours. At one point, Mueller led a fire team into enemy territory to retrieve a mortally wounded comrade. The rest of his unit survived, and he received a Bronze Star, with Valor, for his actions and leadership that day.

That day wasn’t Bob Mueller’s first time in combat, and it wouldn’t be his last. It wouldn’t even necessarily be his most consequential: Four months later, he was shot through the leg by an AK-47.

The time in Vietnam, though, gave him a hard-won perspective on the bureaucratic fights where he’d spend most of the rest of his career. He considers himself lucky to have survived Vietnam—and his life of public service ever since stems, in part, from that gratitude. His college classmate David Hackett never got the chance to come home, and he speaks regularly of Hackett’s sacrifice.

Even in Mueller’s toughest moments stateside—the months after 9/11, when he was FBI director, and the 2004 hospital showdown that brought him and Jim Comey eyeball to eyeball with the Bush administration—he’s evinced a certain calm amid Washington’s slings and arrows. As FBI director, even facing the daily fears of terrorism, spy plots, and cyberattacks, he used to joke, “I’m getting a lot more sleep now than I ever did in Vietnam.”

Still, you have to wonder how well Mueller is sleeping these days. It’s hard to imagine that he has faced a more challenging—or more potentially consequential—week than this past one, which has seen a steady series of attacks from the Trump administration and congressional Republicans on both his own investigation and the two institutions that he devoted almost his entire life to serving, the FBI and the Justice Department.

So let’s do a quick review of recent developments in Washington and then consider a question that has yet to get a thorough airing in the coverage of the Russia investigation and its attendant sideshows: What would happen to the investigation if Mueller were to be fired?

First, the recent barrage of developments. It’s hard to keep the hits straight; they’ve come so quickly and we’ve grown so desensitized to major, Earth-moving news stories coming and going ephemerally in the Trump Age. Just in the past 10 days, we’ve seen news that Mueller’s team has interviewed the sitting attorney general, Jeff Sessions, as well as the former FBI director Jim Comey, and begun to talk to the White House about interviewing the president himself—all signs that Mueller’s efforts are reaching a critical moment.

Then there was the news that last summer, in June, President Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to fire Mueller as special counsel—a power that doesn’t technically belong to McGahn—and that McGahn resisted, saying that he’d resign rather than begin to implement the order, a powerful sign that the president’s own lawyer saw a corrupt intent behind the president’s direction.

On Capitol Hill, we’ve borne witness to a fantastical pas de deux between congressmembers Devin Nunes and Adam Schiff, the top Republican and top Democrat respectively on the House Intelligence Committee, as Nunes—who last year breathlessly reported that he uncovered evidence of “deep state” malfeasance against President Trump and rushed to the White House to brief the president, only to later admit that his evidence itself came from the White House, an incident that so compromised his own integrity that he was forced to the sidelines of the Russia investigation—now claims to have singlehandedly uncovered a vast government conspiracy underway at the FBI and the Justice Department.

And he’s managed to explain the entire plot in a four-page memo that the House is moving, in perhaps a literally never-before-used protocol, to force to be declassified. The Trump appointees inside the Justice Department say doing so would compromise critical classified information and would be “extraordinarily reckless,” but the White House, which is currently reviewing the memo, doesn’t appear to agree. (As he was leaving the House chamber after his State of the Union speech Tuesday night, Trump was overheard saying that he believed the memo should be released “100 percent.”)

Schiff, meanwhile, has a competing memo that purportedly disputes almost all aspects of Nunes’ memo, but for equally complicated reasons his won’t be released, meaning that Nunes’ claims will, when they’re made public, be all but undisputed publicly. All of the controversy appears to have something to do with the FBI and the Justice Department’s investigation into the Trump campaign—and perhaps the presidency—and, in response, Nunes’s committee majority has informed the minority Democrats that it has now launched an amorphous and ill-defined investigation into both the department and the bureau.

Then there was the last-minute announcement from the White House, on Monday night, that they would not enforce a new round of sanctions against Russia—sanctions required by Congress, which overwhelmingly passed the legislation—and also whiffed on creating a list of targeted Russia business leaders, cribbing a list of the country’s richest from Forbes magazine instead.

Andrew McCabe, the FBI’s deputy director, abruptly announced his departure from the bureau on Monday.

Pete Marovich/Getty Images

And don’t forget the week in the life of Andy McCabe.

First came news that FBI director Chris Wray threatened to resign if pressured to fire deputy director McCabe, a longtime Twitter target of Trump, and then the bombshell that McCabe—a longtime veteran of the FBI and a career nonpartisan law-enforcement agent—was asked directly by President Trump who he voted for (McCabe’s answer: He didn’t vote), and that Trump, separately, also berated McCabe in a telephone call and gratuitously insulted his wife. (McCabe’s answer: “OK, sir.”)

McCabe announced his retirement early Monday, perhaps because the Justice Department inspector general is questioning whether he tried to abide by the Justice Department’s own guidelines on investigating politically sensitive matters close to an election by slowing the examination of Anthony Weiner’s laptop in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

If you’re confused about how the GOP could be criticizing McCabe for appearing to aid Hillary Clinton’s campaign when deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein’s memo accusing Jim Comey and the FBI of treating her unfairly was the purported basis for his firing by Trump last May, well, you’re not alone—this investigation increasingly appears to be taking America through the looking glass.

The Nunes memo is particularly significant because it appears to target Rosenstein, a Trump appointee who now controls the strings of Mueller’s investigation at the Justice Department.

Following Jeff Sessions’ recusal from Russia-related matters, Rosenstein—a career prosecutor who was originally appointed as a US Attorney by George W. Bush—appointed Mueller as a “special counsel” using special Justice Department regulations, known as 28 C.F.R. § 600.4-600.10, that were implemented after the Independent Counsel Act expired following Bill Clinton’s presidency. The Independent Counsel Act, the law that spawned Ken Starr, was seen as too independent and unaccountable.

The special counsel rules bring the investigators under closer supervision by the Justice Department—but still narrowly limit the ways and criteria by which a special counsel can be removed. Rosenstein could only remove Mueller for “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest,” or “other good cause,” and there’s no sign that Rosenstein believes any of that is likely; last month he specifically defended Mueller’s investigation thus far and said he believes Mueller “is running his office appropriately.”

Rosenstein—who signed the increasingly infamous memo last spring arguing that Comey had compromised the FBI’s reputation with the Clinton email investigation and had to be fired so that the bureau could be rebuilt—understands that this document appeared to undermine his own integrity, and that his reputation is now inexorably linked with defending Mueller’s probe and independence.

Given the Republican, Trump-appointed Rosenstein’s reluctance to act to remove Mueller—himself a registered Republican who served all three of the most recent GOP presidents for almost every day of the 20 years of their administrations—there are increasing signs that the Trump administration might be moving toward smearing Rosenstein’s reputation or ousting him directly.

How exactly they can accomplish that—and just which Justice Department official is willing to add his or her name to the history books to stand alongside Robert Bork, the executioner in Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre”—is unclear.

Likewise, it’s not entirely clear how much firing Mueller would affect the probe, which has been underway for more than a year now—it was launched in the midst of the 2016 presidential campaign—and has already resulted in guilty pleas or charges against the president’s former campaign chairman, the White House national security adviser, and two other aides.

But given the turmoil and tumult in Washington, it doesn’t mean that Trump won’t try.

So what would firing Mueller look like?

By all accounts, Donald Trump is within his presidential prerogatives to order the firing of Mueller—but it wouldn’t necessarily be easy. If Rosenstein refuses a direct order from Trump to fire Mueller and is fired or resigns instead, the task would fall to Rachel Brand, the No. 3 official at Justice, who would face the same dilemma—fire Mueller or leave office. And on down the line until Trump finds someone willing to do his bidding.

Certainly every person in that Justice Department hierarchy has already spent time thinking through what would happen if he or she got the phone call ordering a firing. They have all certainly played out various scenarios, and perhaps even discussed with staffs about where their red lines would be and what action they would take in such a historic moment.

The reports last week that White House counsel Donald McGahn threatened to resign rather than implement Trump’s order to fire Mueller make it inexorably more difficult for anyone to give the order now. The news that McGahn told the President that he’d resign gives any Justice Department official ordered to fire Mueller by the White House the knowledge that none other than the White House’s top lawyer suspects there might be corrupt intent behind such a directive—meaning that it is tantamount to obstruction of justice and, by definition, unlawful. Such knowledge makes it much harder to be willing to be the one who signs the letter firing the special counsel, who despite all the partisan political muddying of the waters is a legend inside “Main Justice” and seen by effectively everyone outside of the GOP fever swamp as an apolitical straight arrow.

And the Justice Department has a much deeper bench now than it did in the Nixon days.

Most people don’t realize that during Watergate, in the midst of the Saturday Night Massacre, Robert Bork—as solicitor general, the No. 3 official, who became acting attorney general after the resignation of attorney general Elliot Richardson and deputy attorney general William Ruckelshaus—was actually pressured by Richardson and Ruckelshaus to do Nixon’s bidding and fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. At the time, the Justice Department’s line of succession was only three deep: If Bork resigned too, it wasn’t clear who would lead the department, and Richardson feared outright chaos.

Today, though, there are no such concerns. The line of succession is effectively infinite—though it’s complicated by how few Senate-confirmed officials are in place at the department right now. Thus each official, in turn, could decide solely based on his or her conscience and how he or she wants to be viewed by history.

Weighing on whomever was forced to make the decision to fire Mueller is a pile of evidence that didn’t exist last summer when McGahn’s dramatic showdown played out without the public’s knowledge: Mueller’s investigation, through the guilty pleas of George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn, has established clear evidence of contacts between Russian officials and Trump campaign aides—thereby establishing that his case is not, as the president has labeled it, a capitalized “Witch Hunt.”

President Trump may have a difficult time finding a Justice Department official willing to fire Mueller.

Cheriss May/NurPhoto/Getty Images

Trump could also try two other, more direct paths to forestall the investigation, each of which would be tremendously controversial in its own way: He could invoke his own Article II powers as president to attempt to fire Mueller directly—which would almost certainly get disputed in court, since the special counsel regulations grant the firing power exclusively to the attorney general or acting attorney general. He could also attempt to pardon all the targets of Mueller’s investigation. Such pardons, though, wouldn’t stop state or local prosecutors from pursuing their own charges—and, indeed, Mueller’s team appears to be leaving bread crumbs in their case work for just such investigations—and it wouldn’t stop Mueller from writing a report that could be handed over to the Justice Department to be turned over to Congress for public debate and possible impeachment proceedings.

Either move—a direct firing or public pardons—would likely also ignite a political firestorm in Washington, though there’s little evidence that a red line exists among Republicans on Capitol Hill that they won’t let Trump barge right past. However, with a narrow one-vote majority in the Senate and midterm elections approaching quickly, Republicans can’t afford to lose much ground without paralyzing their Capitol Hill agenda for this year and risking their congressional majorities in November.

Trump’s best path to ridding himself of the meddlesome FBI director and slowly reining in the investigation might come instead from removing Rosenstein or Sessions and appointing a new deputy attorney general or attorney general.

Rosenstein is overseeing the case—serving as the acting attorney general in the Russia matter—because Jeff Sessions himself is a a potential target of the investigation, having met secretly with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the campaign and then conveniently forgetting about those encounters during his confirmation process. If Sessions resigns, the next attorney general—presuming he or she is also not compromised by the Russia investigation—would be able to take control of the investigation back from Rosenstein and either fire Mueller or box in his investigation. Similarly, a replacement for Rosenstein might be more compliant to Trump’s wishes too. It is not widely understood that Mueller’s team has to keep Rosenstein, as acting attorney general, in the loop and ask permission for each additional investigative avenue it wants to pursue.

Regardless, though, the removal of Mueller wouldn’t necessarily stop the case in its tracks. Whoever was responsible for that firing could appoint another special counsel, for one thing; it was, in fact, the work of Archibald Cox’s successor, Leon Jaworski, that led to some of the most significant court findings in the Watergate scandal.

Even if there was no successor forthcoming, the case and investigation could and probably would continue on its own as a regular FBI inquiry.

Starting an investigation at the FBI is a formal process, requiring agents to demonstrate evidence of a criminal predicate to move to what’s known as a “full field” investigation, and, similarly, closing an investigation requires a formal decision to “decline” charges. The “Mueller probe” isn’t actually a single case; at this point there are multiple independent investigations underway, including into Paul Manafort and Rick Gates’ former business dealings, into the campaign’s separate dealings with Russian officials, and into possible obstruction of justice around Jim Comey’s firing.

Some of those cases were well underway before Mueller took over—it was, in fact, the early work of investigators that led to the guilty pleas last fall of George Papadopoulos and Michael Flynn—and others have been launched since. All would and could continue without him. Without Mueller, the assigned FBI agents would return to the Washington Field Office and the prosecution would be placed, most likely, under the supervision of either the US attorney in DC or the Eastern District of Virginia, where the court cases are already playing out.

Perhaps the key lesson of Mueller’s investigation thus far has been that at every step, Mueller and his investigative dream team have known more and been further ahead in their process than the public anticipated or realized. At every stage, Mueller has surprised the public and witnesses before him with his depth of knowledge and detail—and he shocked the public with news last fall that Papadopoulos had been arrested, been cooperating, and pleaded guilty, all without a single hint of a leak. The news last week that Comey himself had testified before Mueller’s team weeks earlier continues the pattern that even amid the most scrutinized investigation in history, Mueller is moving methodically forward, with cards up his sleeve to play.

There’s no reason to believe, in fact, that Mueller—who has surrounded himself with some of the most thoughtful minds of the Justice Department, including Michael Dreeban, arguably the country’s top appellate lawyer, whose career has focused on looking down the road at how cases might play out months or even years later—hasn’t been organizing his investigation since day one with the expectation that he’d someday be fired and worked to ensure that this, his final chapter in a lifetime of public service at the Justice Department, won’t be curtailed before it has gotten to what Mueller calls “ground truth.”

A quarter century ago, when Mueller first ended up in Washington as the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s criminal division during the George H.W. Bush administration, his aide David Margolis—a lifelong Justice Department official who came to be seen as Main Justice’s conscience until his death in 2016 after more than 50 years of service—cautioned Mueller to pick and choose his battles. If he didn’t, Margolis warned, Mueller would get chewed up by the partisan and bureaucratic bickering of the capitol. Mueller, thinking back to those days in the jungles of Vietnam, fixed Margolis with an icy stare that would become all too familiar to a generation of prosecutors and FBI agents. He replied, “I don’t bruise easily.”

In the 25 years since, including 12 years atop the FBI, Mueller has given no indication that he’s changed. And even today as special counsel, he’s still likely getting more sleep than he did in Vietnam.

Garrett M. Graff (@vermontgmg) is a contributing editor for WIRED and the author of The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller’s FBI. He can be reached at garrett.graff@gmail.com.

Read more: https://www.wired.com/story/heres-what-happens-if-magnificent-bastard-mueller-gets-fired/

If You Cant Say No, Youre A Slave

Ryan Holiday’s Instagram

Dov Charney once tried to buy me a car.

I don’t remember what kind of car it was exactly, but I don’t think it was a particularly fancy one—a Hyundai or something like that. And there were some strings, he would buy it, and at some indefinite point in the future I’d have to take over the payments.

Like I said, I don’t remember the exact specifics, but I remember my response: “That’s very generous of you. I appreciate it, but no, thank you. I’m OK.”

It wasn’t just that I was perfectly happy driving a 1997 Volvo with 160,000 miles on it. It was that I have an aversion to debts and entanglements, and however well-meaning the offer was, an entanglement was certainly part of the intention.

In his biography of Lyndon Johnson, Robert Caro tells the story of Johnson attempting to recruit a man named John Hicks to work for him. At a meeting at a diner in Austin, Johnson made his pitch: “I’m going to lend you ten thousand dollars,” he said, “And I want you to take it and buy yourself a Cadillac car. And I want you to move to a better apartment. I want you to be somebody. Furnish the apartment. Get [your wife] a fur coat. I want you to [join some local clubs] and be somebody here in Austin.”

Hicks was surprised. How would I ever pay you back, he asked Johnson. Johnson simply smiled and said, “Johnny, don’t worry about that. You let me worry about that.”

Certainly offers like this are champagne problems. Most people are struggling to get noticed, to get an opportunity at all. To be able to turn down a gift or a job offer is a privilege. Most of us would kill to have a future president offer us a car, and many people need a car, period. Still, this privileged position is not without its perils.

It’s a dangerous game that goes back further than Lyndon Johnson offering a guy a Cadillac. Seneca, the Roman statesman and writer, spoke often about wealthy Romans who have spent themselves into debt and the misery and dependence this created for them. Slavery, he said, often lurks beneath marble and gold. Yet, his own life was defined by these exact debts. With his own fortune, he made large loans to a colony of Britain at rates so high it eventually destroyed their economy. And what was the source of this fortune? The Emperor Nero was manipulatively generous with Seneca, bestowing upon him numerous estates and monetary awards in exchange for his advice and service. Seneca probably could have said no, but after he accepted the first one, the hooks were in. As Nero grew increasingly unstable and deranged, Seneca tried to escape into retirement but he couldn’t. He pushed all the wealth into a pile and offered to give it back with no luck.

Eventually, death—a forced suicide—was the only option. Money in, blood out.

This is only a slightly more dramatic illustration of the trap we find ourselves in. We take out student loans to pay for an education that will get us a job we hope will make those crushing payments worth it. We go to the bank and ask them how much house they’ll let us buy and then we hope two people working every day for the next forty years will prove them right.

All of us regularly say yes unthinkingly, or out of vague attraction, or out of greed or vanity. Because we can’t say no—because we might miss out on something if we did. We think “yes” will let us accomplish more, will give us more of what we want, when in reality it prevents exactly what we seek. All of us waste precious life doing things we don’t like, to prove ourselves to people we don’t respect, and to get things we don’t want.

I read an article a few weeks ago about a law firm in Houston that pays for a private jet for its associates to fly back and forth to California. It was presented as a perk of the job: Housing prices in San Francisco are steep, so this way the employees can enjoy living in Texas while still benefiting from the brisk technology market in California. This isn’t a perk. It’s a bribe, as Upton Sinclair put it. It’s the normalization of an utterly abnormal status quo—one that to sustain, the associates have to work incredibly long hours in an incredibly unpleasant job. But once the hooks are in? It’s hard to get them out.

The reason we work so hard is for “financial freedom.” Somehow we always seem to end up awfully unfree, don’t we? David “DHH” Heinemeier Hansson has talked about the delusion of “Fuck You Money” (having so much you can say, “Fuck you” to people asking you to do stuff you don’t want to do). How many fuck yous are we hearing from these people, he asks. The truth is: Not many. That’s the trap.

The irony of that offer from Dov, I knew, was that he might be giving me a car but part of the reason was to make sure I wouldn’t go anywhere. Stuck with the payments, grateful for the gift, how could I question things? How could I pursue the life I wanted? The answer was that I wouldn’t be able to. And I saw that happen. Other people who hadn’t been able to say no—for personal reasons, for financial reasons, because they didn’t see the strings—to cars or green cards or apartments or positions of power were stuck when the company began to fall apart. As things spun out of control, and lines—ethical and otherwise—were crossed, they were complicit. They were blinded, too, to what they were doing.

The ancient philosophers understood and warned against this. As Epicurus put it, “Self-sufficiency is the greatest of all wealth.” The Stoic philosopher Epictetus has said that “wealth consists not in having great possessions, but in having few wants.” There is also a story about Socrates. He turned down an invitation from Archelaus, the king of Macedon, because he wanted to “avoid dying a thousand deaths.” Because to him accepting a favor he couldn’t pay back, that created dependency, was worse than death. It was compromising his freedom. It was slavery.

We instinctively grasp the difficulty of Socrates’ position because one of the hardest things to do in life is to say “No.” To invitations, to requests, to obligations, to gifts, and to the stuff that everyone else is doing. Saying yes is so easy…and it feels so good.

Even harder is saying no to less obvious impositions: getting caught up in the status of the job, normalizing yourself at a certain level, the drama, the rush. Why are so many bands from the 70s and 80s still on the road? It’s not only the money, it’s that they need the adulation of the crowd. They can’t go back to regular life. Neither can most of us once we have tasted the forbidden fruits of power or fame or being needed.

Freedom is the most important thing. We’re born with it, and yet many of us wake up one day surprised at the chains we wear. The reason? Because we said yes too many times and never learned how to say no.

Only a free person can decline. Preserving this power is essential.

It’s the difference between a life of subservience and a life of your own, as Lady Bird Johnson, LBJ’s wife knew and often struggled with herself. As Robert Caro wrote, she came to visit John Hicks after he had politely refused her husband’s offer, to let him know she respected, even admired his decision. Because she “had seen other people take their ten thousand dollars and had seen what happened to them.” But Hicks had escaped, as Socrates had escaped, as the brilliant photographer Bill Cunningham escaped and basically all the people who have done truly great work have escaped.

Because if you can’t say no, you’re not powerful or free. You’re a slave.

Like to Read? I’ve created a list of 15 books you’ve never heard of that will alter your worldview and help you excel at your career. Get the secret book list here!

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/ryan-holiday/2018/01/if-you-cant-say-no-youre-a-slave/

34 amazing first lines of famous books.

Read more: http://imgur.com/gallery/VNrye

The Shirk Report Volume 453

Welcome to the Shirk Report where you will find 20 funny images, 10 interesting articles and 5 entertaining videos from the last 7 days of sifting. Most images found on Reddit; articles from Facebook, Twitter, and email; videos come from everywhere. Any suggestions? Send a note to submit@twistedsifter.com

20 IMAGES

Friday!
He fell back asleep!
10 years later… | and 10 years after that
A holiday classic
Day 10, family still hasn’t noticed
SpaceX – 2002 vs 2017
Hey Mister can you get the ball for us?
Now who’s blown away
Jim was never good at estimating crowd sizes
Reminder
Kind regards
My work here is done
Swirls glass
Video games are getting so realistic these days
Fetch
Hard to watch
The power of art
This hit me hard
Wait for the drool
Until next week

10 ARTICLES

Apple admits slowing older iPhones, says it’s to prevent battery issues
Silicon Valley Techies Still Think They’re the Good Guys. They’re Not.
Inside the Home of Instant Pot, the Kitchen Gadget That Spawned a Religion
The Fascinating History Behind Why Jewish Families Eat Chinese Food on Christmas
The Top 10 Books Of 2017, According To Everyone
Meet the Man Who Has Lived Alone on This Island for 28 Years
Using Airbnb isn’t fun anymore
The Insane True Story Of How “Titanic” Got Made
The Greatest Leap, Part 1: How the Apollo fire propelled NASA to the Moon
Deliverance From 27,000 Feet (thanks for sharing Mr. Huble)

5 VIDEOS + AC/DC

MERRY MERRY Y’ALL!

Read more: http://twistedsifter.com/2017/12/the-shirk-report-volume-453/

Game Of Thrones’ Final Season Won’t Air Until 2019!

You thought the dry spell between seasons six and seven was rough, Game of Thrones fans? Prepare for the longest drought yet!

On Thursday, HBO revealed the eighth and final season won’t be airing until 2019, confirming it would be moving at a glacial, George R.R. Martin pace for the remainder of production.

This news shouldn’t come as a huge shock, however, as the final season is expected to take place over eight months.

Production on the final six (likely Mountain-sized) episodes began in October and will reportedly run through August 2018 — a full YEAR after the season seven finale. Sounds like it will be well worth the wait!

Related: Game Of Thrones Season 8 Script Leaks Tease A MAJOR Death!

No specific premiere date was revealed in the premium network’s short release, which listed the writers, producers, and directors involved with the remaining episodes.

Showrunners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss will write and direct the episodes. Other writers include Dave Hill and Bryan Cogman, who is also a creator one of the Thrones prequel series currently being developed at HBO.

So, what are fans of the show to do in the meantime? For starters, you now have time to read the books…

[Image via HBO.]

Read more: http://perezhilton.com/2018-01-04-game-thrones-season-8-hbo-2019-release-date

Could ‘Wolverine: The Long Night’ be the start of the ‘Marvel Podcast Universe’?

Image: marvel

Wolverine has explored plenty of territory in his 43-year history at Marvel — from comics to computer games, big screen to small — but come 2018, he’ll venture into a whole new frontier: his own podcast.

Mashable can exclusively reveal that the beloved X-Men character will headline Marvel’s first-ever scripted podcast, Wolverine: The Long Night, a 10-episode serialized story that will debut exclusively on podcast network Stitcher Premium in Spring 2018 as part of a partnership between Marvel and Stitcher, before rolling out across all other podcast platforms in the fall.

“Podcasting is an incredible, intimate medium that’s perfect for telling stories, and I can’t think of a better partner with whom to push the boundaries of scripted podcasts than Marvel,” says Erik Diehn, CEO of Midroll Media, Stitcher’s parent company, in a statement. “They make every translation of their rich universe of characters into new media fresh and interesting while still retaining the feel and spirit of the original comics, and, as a Marvel fan, I’m proud that we’ve helped them do it again in podcasting. The arrival of Wolverine and his many fans to podcasts and Stitcher is truly a signal that this medium is a major part of the American media landscape.”

The Hobbit and Hannibal star Richard Armitage will lend his voice to Logan for the podcast, which writer Ben Percy says will blend the mystery aspects of true crime podcasts like Serial and S-Town with the narrative tricks of True Detective — plus a dash of Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven.

Richard Armitage at the premiere of  “The Hobbit: The Battle Of The Five Armies”

Image: Getty Images

“If you look at the success of Serial and S-Town, it has everything to do I think with their investigative formats, the way the listeners become complicit in the narrative,” Percy tells Mashable. “They’re co-authors, they’re literary detectives, because they’re piecing together the clues alongside the reporters, and I wanted to take a similar approach to that.”

The story begins with two agents, Sally Pierce (Celia Keenan-Bolger) and Tad Marshall (Ato Essandoh), who arrive in the fictional town of Burns, Alaska, to investigate a series of murders. The duo team up with deputy Bobby Reid (Andrew Keenan-Bolger) to investigate their main suspect, Logan (Armitage), but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. 

“There are all these broken pieces that are being fitted together, and a shifting set of suspects, and every episode, you learn more and at the same time, recognize that you’ve been mistaken all along. It functions like a turnstile of mysteries,” Percy hints. 

The cast also includes Scott Adsit (30 Rock), Bob Balaban (Moonrise Kingdom), Brian Stokes Mitchell and a cameo from Chris Gethard, host of the popular Beautiful Stories from Anonymous People podcast.

This iteration of Logan is purposefully seeking the isolation that Alaska provides, according to Percy: “Because he’s been mind-wiped again and again, he doesn’t know the whole terrible truth about his life. Part of the series is him recovering those memories and despite his attempts to separate himself from society, getting drawn into a situation where frontier justice is called for.”

The Long Night will also weave in heightened elements that comic book fans would expect from Marvel, in part because Alaska is such an extreme environment. 

“It’s very easy to turn up the volume on reality there. In addition to the crime investigation into the serial killer on the loose, there are also elements of the fantastic. And some of them have to do with Wolverine as his legend grows in this area, as people observe him bounding through the mists with packs of wolves; as they witness him save and end lives,” Percy previews. “I’m also drawing from the Native legends in the area and from cultish mythology. There is a compound set up outside of the town of Burns, Alaska, where the Aurora cult is located. And it’s unclear at first whether they are implicated in the murders that are occurring here and whether they might have powers, as they purport to — a connection to and a control over the fabric of light that plays over the winter skies.” 

The specific appeal of a podcast versus more visual platforms is its intimacy, notes Dan Silver, vice president, head of platforms & content for Marvel New Media: “Being in this space where we can really touch and interact with our fans in a more 24/7 basis is one of our priorities. The beauty of this medium is you can listen to it as a show when it’s first released and voraciously consume it from a habitual standpoint, or, like I do and many people do with podcasts, you can listen to it very leisurely.” 

That sense of intimacy will also give fans a new understanding of Wolverine as a character, Silver says. “What I love about him for this specific space is he’s one of our most complex characters, just in the way that he’s been depicted and evolved in many different iterations in the books. But this space allows us to explore him as a person. When you strip away the visuals of the claws and the chops and the hair and all of that stuff and you really get a chance to explore the mind and the actions through words, he’s a really interesting type of character. And I think this is a Wolverine that our fans haven’t necessarily ‘seen.’ And it’s very exciting for us to explore all the different nuances of him.”

Silver also praises the “naturalism” of the production process — which will record outdoor scenes in real locations like forests, while the cast will perform together in an “ambisonic” studio that enables them to interact and move around the space, which Silver likens to watching a play. 

“We’re attempting to provide an audio experience that feels very much like if you just turned off your television screen, but left the sound on,” he says. “It’s very dynamic, it’s very real, it’s very raw, and it’s made for what people would expect from Marvel.”

Image: marvel.com

In addition to its comics, Marvel has already achieved film and TV dominance with its sprawling Cinematic Universe, but Percy hints that Wolverine: The Long Night could be the first step towards a similarly interconnected world in this new medium.

“We have a fun opportunity here, and that’s to create our own continuity. A continuity that will grow more and more expansive as the Marvel Podcast Universe expands,” Percy teases. “There are glimmers that people will recognize, references to Weapon X and wartime Logan, Japan and past relationships that he’s had. But he himself is not able to really work through his moth-eaten memory until the conclusion of this first season.”

Not wanting to put the cart before the horse, Silver is a little more circumspect about predicting a “Marvel Podcast Universe” just yet, but admits that if The Long Night proves successful, “that would be incredibly exciting … Marvel is known as world-builders and universe-builders; that is what we do across all of our mediums. It’s hard to say, but it would be super cool.” 

The same is true of a potential second season for The Long Night or other serialized Marvel podcasts, Silver says. “Being able to reach the hardcore Marvel fan and maybe extend it into the casual fans and pull them in is exactly what we want to do… So yeah, if the audience is there and the demand is there and we feel like we can tell compelling, rich stories in this space, it would be fantastic.”

While the creative team behind Wolverine: The Long Night — director Brendan Baker, sound designer Chloe Prasinos and producers Daniel Fink of Marvel and Jenny Radelet of Stitcher — is currently working on perfecting the iconic snikt of Wolverine’s claws in podcast form, the most vital piece of the puzzle is already in place: Armitage as Logan. 

“You think about when you read the comics as a kid: what was the voice that you heard in your head? And it was a lot of fun to sit in a room and have those conversations about, ‘Is it gruff enough? Is it playful enough? Does it just sound like Hugh Jackman?'” Silver says of the casting process. “And then, all of a sudden Richard’s name came up and everybody closed their eyes and it was like that moment when you all picture everybody hearing it in their head, and you went, ‘Oh, yeah, of course. That would be amazing.’ And yeah, he is — he’s perfect.”

Percy agrees, “When I heard that Richard was a possibility for the role, I knew he was the one. He’s a perfect match for Logan and brings so much soul and savagery to the project.”

Wolverine: The Long Night will debut on Stitcher Premium in Spring 2018. 

Read more: http://mashable.com/2017/12/05/wolverine-podcast-the-long-night-marvel-richard-armitage-ben-percy/

The Prize by Geoffrey M. Cooper

the prize cover

Book Summary

What does it take to win a Nobel Prize? Deceit, fraud, even murder? Set in the competitive world of cutting-edge medical research, The Prize is a science thriller in which jealousy over the discovery of a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease leads to fraud, betrayal and violence.

Pam Weller makes the discovery of a lifetime when she finds a drug with the potential for treating Alzheimer’s. But her success threatens the supremacy of Eric Prescott, a leading figure in Alzheimer’s research. Lusting relentlessly for the Nobel Prize, Prescott fears that Pam’s work will derail his ambitions. He seduces one of Pam’s research fellows and enlists her in a plot to brand Pam a fraud and steal her discovery. But when an investigation threatens to uncover their plot, Prescott kills his co-conspirator and fakes a suicide that places the blame squarely on Pam. Leading Pam into a world where nothing is real, except threats to her career, her freedom and even her life.

In a novel of intrigue and suspense, The Prize explores the human side of science and drug discovery, exposing the pressures and ambitions that can drive the betrayal of scientific ethics and lead to fraud in medical research.

Amazon Link – http://amzn.to/2DJmePo

Kirkus Reviews

Three scientists strive to find the cure for Alzheimer’s in Cooper’s (The Cell: A Molecular Approach, 2015, etc.) scientific thriller.

Forty-seven-year-old Eric Prescott is an accomplished scientist specializing in Alzheimer’s disease research at the Institute for Advanced Neuroscience in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The novel opens with a conversation between Eric and some scientists after he accepts the Lasker Award for “seminal research in elucidating the basis of Alzheimer’s disease.” Eric’s arrogance is apparent when one of the Karolinska Institute professors on the Nobel Committee, Alfred Bergner, recommends that Prescott speak to another scientist, Pamela Weller: “Prescott was steaming. Did Bergner seriously think this woman was some kind of competition?” Pam is a faculty member in the Langmere Institute for Neurological Disease at Harvard University. When her research results in what may be the key to the cure, Holly Singer, one of her postdocs, teams up with Eric to claim the breakthrough as their own, and they take extreme measures to ensure their place in history and receive the Nobel Prize. The omniscient narration makes each major character’s intentions clear: Pam wants to make a difference, Eric wants fame, and Holly wants to establish herself as a respected voice in the scientific community. One of the highlights of this book is how comfortably Cooper manages to find a balance in presenting difficult scientific topics in an easy-to-follow narrative, as when Holly explains a cell culture: “They’re cells that were triggered to start producing Alzheimer’s plaque. You can see the plaques have formed and the cells are beginning to die.” The characters do come off as a little one-dimensional, however, and the book might have benefited from additional back story, such as how Pam became so interested in Alzheimer’s research. Nonetheless, this is an engrossing read; in one particularly suspenseful moment, a character awaits the results of putting Nembutal in another’s wine.

An intense story about ruthlessness in the scientific community.

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/geoffrey-m-cooper/prize/

Author Bio

Geoffrey M. Cooper is an experienced cancer researcher and scientific administrator, having held positions at Harvard Medical School and Boston University. He is the author of the cell biology text, The Cell, as well as several books on cancer. The Prize is his first novel. He lives in Brookline, Massachusetts.

Loki is pansexual and genderfluid in Marvel’s new YA novel

Marvel is launching a series of young adult novels about popular villains, beginning with Loki.

This already sounds like a smart idea because, despite their popularity, villains like Loki are rarely the protagonist of their own story. There’s also a growing audience for superhero prose fiction, as proven by the massive volume of Marvel movie fanfic (which frequently attracts more readers than the comics themselves), and the release of novels like Black Widow: Forever Red and Miles Morales: Spider-Man.

Three villain-centric books will be written by Mackenzi Lee, author of The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue, a historical novel about a rebellious bisexual English rogue. In other words, kind of an ideal choice for Loki. Still, fans had some questions—namely, will Marvel and Disney allow Lee to write Loki as canonically queer?

Loki is often depicted as pansexual and genderfluid in the comics, but it’s a similar situation to Deadpool‘s sexuality. Many readers find the references subtle enough to ignore, and the movies avoid the topic entirely. So, how will the novel handle Loki’s sexuality and gender identity?

While it’s far too early to discuss spoilers for the actual book, that’s a pretty clear statement from the author. Loki will be pansexual and genderfluid in the novel, following the canon of Marvel Comics and the Norse myth.

The bad news is, the book isn’t out until 2019. In the meantime, you’ll have to reread Loki’s volume of Journey into Mystery and the recent Loki: Agent of Asgard series.

Read more: https://www.dailydot.com/parsec/loki-novel-pansexual-genderqueer-marvel/

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: photography charlottesville va | Thanks to ppc software, penny auction and larry goins