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Check out this short film a reader made out of one of my stories

/u/chewyguru did a great job bringing my pie story to life. Be sure to check it out!

Here’s a link to the original story.

Harper Lee’s Latest Bombshell: Atticus Finch is a Robot

Why is nobody talking about this second, shocking revelation?

Contemporary American literature enthusiasts are nearing the peak of their months long wait, to a climax that’s been steadily building since a new Harper Lee manuscript was discovered to exist back in February. But in anticipation of Go Set a Watchman’s looming publication, advance reviews and an early sample chapter have cast a new light on once-beloved characters.

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The shocker generating the most controversy has to do with the fact that Atticus Finch is now an old, cranky, run-of-the-mill racist. He brags about having attended KKK meetings, and admits that he’s not too keen on racial integration. Once the living embodiment of social justice and moral fortitude, legions of die-hard Mockingbird devotees have expressed grave dissatisfaction with their hero’s demotion in character.

But while Watchman has caused much sensation regarding this unfortunate change in attitude, readers and critics have been all but silent about the book’s most shocking revelation: that Atticus Finch is actually a robot.

“But Atticus’s speech and behavior becomes increasingly deranged, and by the end of the novel, it’s clear that Finch isn’t a human being at all. He’s a robot, and he’s malfunctioning.”

Early in the novel, readers are given hints that something doesn’t quite connect. Atticus complains, “My gears are all rusted,” and at first we’re led to believe he’s alluding to the difficulties of old age. But as the story progresses, his speech takes on a style uncharacteristic of the character we’ve been taught to know and love.

“My positronic core is havin’ trouble quantifyin’ my sensory input,” he tells his daughter Jean Louise late in Chapter Seven. A perplexed Scout asks her father, “Dad, what are you talking about?” but Atticus quickly changes the subject, going off on a nonsensical rant about the perils of integrated busing, leaving readers to scratch their heads in confusion.

But Atticus’s speech and behavior become increasingly deranged, and by the end of the novel, it’s clear that Finch isn’t a human being at all. He’s a robot, and he’s malfunctioning. The Finchs spend the rest of the novel in a race against time, searching hopelessly for Atticus’s enigmatic creator, an unnamed scientist known only through whispered rumors as Dr. Mekanix.

Atticus is ultimately unable to find a cure to the techno-virus ravaging his neural net, and the book closes as the robot collapses in a heap of bolts and sparks, all while a dazed Scout looks on in apparent calm, wondering if her lack of appropriate emotion at her father’s demise might not be a sign that she, too, is a robot.

And yet despite Ms. Lee’s abrupt departure into a realm of artificial intelligence and science fiction, much of the reaction to Go Set a Watchman remains fixed on the controversies of race, of Atticus Finch’s blatant distaste of civil rights issues prominently at the forefront of both novels. Yes, it’s disturbing, certainly unlike the Atticus Finch who championed Tom Robinson’s innocence in Mockingbird. But why aren’t audiences reacting as strongly to the even more surprising news that Atticus is a robot?

Maybe it’s because at some level it makes sense. Maybe it’s easier to accept that the Atticus we knew and loved from Mockingbird was the same moral champion that he’s always been, that his new bigoted disposition is nothing more than a sentient machine’s infection with a mysterious computer virus.

Because what’s the alternative? Are we as readers really supposed to assume that even our greatest white fictionalized heroes are complicit in the biases and privileges of institutionalized racism? Are we supposed to reevaluate the longstanding legacy of white goodness and racial progress?

No, it’s clear that Atticus Finch was a robot, and he was sick. His primary programming had been compromised. That’s why he was talking and acting like that. And while it’s hard to get past the mental image of Atticus Finch berating an entire people, just remember: you can’t judge an entire literary history based off of the unfortunate new revelations of one robot’s descent into madness.

Get excited about Free Slurpee Day

I always forget about Free Slurpee Day. Every year, July 11th rolls around, 7/11, and by the time I realize that everyone’s drinking a free Slurpee, by the time I actually make the conscious connection between the proliferation of small Slurpee cups and the calendar date, it’s usually too late.

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Flickr – Paul Thompson

 

“No!” I raise my fists and cry out to the sky. People ask me, “Rob, what’s wrong? Did you drink your free Slurpee too fast? Do you have a Slurpee headache?” And I’m forced to admit that, no, I didn’t drink my free Slurpee too fast, because I never got my free Slurpee, because I always forget about Free Slurpee Day.

Why can’t I remember? Most of the blame lies with Seven-Eleven. It’s great that you want to use July 11th as a date to drum up some publicity, but you should advertise the fact that you’re going to be giving away free Slurpees. Why keep it a secret? What’s the point of giving away free Slurpees only to customers who frequent Seven-Eleven often enough to know about Free Slurpee Day?

And that’s not even a totally valid point, because I go to Seven-Eleven all the time, and I still manage to forget about Free Slurpee Day. Which leads me to believe that Seven-Eleven is being disingenuous in its attempts to reward the public with free Slurpees. It’s like you want to get all the PR benefits of having given out free Slurpees, all while keeping it this semi-secret occasion.

Because why not advertise? How about hyping up a little of the excitement on social media? I know that if I were in charge of creating my own Slurpee-themed holiday, I’d make sure that everyone knew about it, and I’d try to make it a really big deal. Why am I getting the sense that Seven-Eleven is only begrudgingly embracing the 7/11 date?

Look, I’m not one to complain about getting a free Slurpee. But if I were, I’d point a finger at Seven-Eleven and say, small? That’s it? Just one free small Slurpee? Why can’t you give out free large Slurpees? Are those extra free ounces of Slurpee breaking the bank? What’s the mark up on Slurpee, really? How expensive can it be to mix sugar and ice?

It’s one day a year, which can’t really make that much of a dent in profits. Go a little crazy. I’m just saying, if you want to get people excited about Slurpees, excited about Seven-Eleven, I’m not getting that sense of excitement out of a measly small cup of Slurpee. Just give out large Slurpees. Make me feel like I’m actually getting treated to something. And tell your employees to stop giving me that, “Really? You came all the way to Seven-Eleven for a free small Slurpee?” look when I come in for my free Slurpee. Make it like you’re happy to give out as much free Slurpee as we want.

Knowing that Seven-Eleven isn’t super enthusiastic about parting with its precious Slurpee for free, I think it’s up to us, the public, to educate our fellow consumers about the joy of Free Slurpee Day. It’s this Saturday, July 11th. Get there early. I know I will. You don’t want to risk arriving late, all of the popular Slurpee flavors might get sold out, and you’ll have to settle for one of those gross sugar-free Crystal Lite Slurpees. Ugh, no thanks.

Make a day out of it. I usually try to see how many free Slurpees I can get away with before the clerks start recognizing me as a repeat offender. After that, I simply drive to the next Seven-Eleven and start over again, which is great, because there are Seven-Elevens on every block where I live, so I can feasibly go an entire day without consuming anything else besides Slurpee.

Like I said, I’m really excited about this year, because in years past, life’s been in the way, and I’ve let the day go by without taking advantage of my free Slurpee. But not this year. This year I’m committed to Free Slurpee Day. Last January I made a New Year’s resolution to make it a point not to forget about it this time around. And so far, I’m well on my way to staying true to my word. Let’s do this everybody, let’s get up early on Saturday and have some free Slurpees. Happy Free Slurpee Day everybody.

Originally published at Thought Catalog.

10 Really Minor Life Pro Tips You Won’t Read About Anywhere Else

1. Use fresh milk for your second bowl of cereal

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Flickr / Melissa Wiese

 

When I eat cereal for breakfast, after I’m done eating, I invariably wind up with almost half a bowl of leftover milk. The obvious solution is to pour in some more cereal, which always worked for me, seeing as how one bowl never really satisfies my morning hunger. But why is that second bowl never as good as the first?

It’s because that leftover milk has already been used. It’s not cold out of the fridge anymore. And if you’re eating a sugary cereal like Cap’n Crunch or Waffle Crisp, that first serving of milk is going to be overly sweetened. The result will be a second bowl that leaves you questioning why you chose cereal in the first place. Just add a little bit more cold milk to your second bowl, just enough to cut through the warm, overly-sweetened older milk.

2. Start paying your bills

I kept getting all of these collection notices and harassing phone calls. The envelopes always said “Past Due!” and the messages on my voicemail warned me about destroying my credit score. And it was all true, the bills just kept piling up, my credit score kept sinking.

And then one day I went online and paid some of my bills. I kept paying them and eventually they turned my cell phone back on. Now that I have service, the threatening phone calls are getting fewer and farther in between. So just pay your bills, and keep paying them.

3. Unroll your socks before you put them in the washing machine

For years I would scratch my head in confusion, wondering why my socks always came out of the washer and dryer still wet. Worse, by the time I got around to folding my laundry, the wet socks would have been sitting there sometimes for days, totally defeating the purpose of washing them in the first place. None of my other clothing seemed to suffer from this dampening. It was just the socks.

And then one day I made the connection: when I take my socks off at the end of the day, they always wound up rolled into a ball. Maybe it’s the elastic in the socks, or perhaps it’s the way in which I scrunch them up and throw them into my laundry hamper. I don’t understand the specifics. But what I do know is, if I can take the time to unroll my socks before I run them through my machines, they’ll come out nice and dry.

4. Brush your teeth

I used to think that people who spent money on toothbrushes and toothpaste were the dumbest of the dumb. Come on, those fossilized Neanderthal skeletons always have teeth, and they probably didn’t have toothbrushes and toothpaste. But everyone kept complaining about my bad breath and lack or oral hygiene.

Finally one day I went to the dentist because of a toothache. He told me, “Rob, you really need to start brushing your teeth.” He even gave me a free toothbrush. I thought, OK, I’ll give it a shot. And you know what? It worked. My teeth actually feel pretty great now.

Read the rest at Thought Catalog.

Online Hate, Misogyny, and Racism: A Defense of Reddit’s Effort to Clean Up the Internet

I’m usually the first person to mount some sort of a defense on reddit’s behalf. When people mention the misogyny, the racism, the various strains on online hate and digital bullying, I’m quick to point out that the large majority of redditors are fairly decent people, that on a site with something like nine million daily users, it’s unfortunate that a vocal minority of losers are granted a megaphone with which it can spew a steady stream of garbage, tarnishing reddit’s reputation as a whole.

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Yesterday the reddit admins made the long-overdue decision to ban several of its more toxic subreddits, most prominently, a group called /r/fatpeoplehate. As its title suggests, /r/fatpeoplehate served as nothing more than a petri dish of body-shaming and name-calling. And much like reddit’s infamous cardboard-boxed collection of various bodily fluids, /r/fatpeoplehate thrived in the darkness, amassing an army of followers who relished in the opportunity to share embarrassing photos and regurgitated hate-speech, all from the cowardly confines of their homes.

I spend a lot of time on reddit, but recent events have made it harder to say anything positive. If you were online yesterday, you know what I’m talking about. Instead of its usual stream of mildly interesting gifs and dank memes, reddit’s front page was filled with outrage, directed at the admins and especially at reddit CEO Ellen Pao. As we speak, some of the site’s most upvoted content is nothing more than insults to Pao, calling her a Nazi, the c-word, you name it.

What went down yesterday requires a little bit of backstory, which, even if you’re familiar with the front page of the Internet, it might not make too much sense. Like I said, I’m on reddit all the time, and I’m still trying to figure out where all of these lunatics came from.

I guess it’s important to state that the hate was always there. Maybe you won’t see its more overt face on mainstream web sites, but try typing even the most depraved fringe ideas into Google and you’re guaranteed to find a shadow Internet of likeminded bloggers and trolls. It’s there because it exists in the real world, it’s amplified by the anonymous nature of the Internet, and when you throw in a massive content aggregator like reddit, founded on the tenets of free speech, it’s natural that those venomous ideas will unfortunately find a place to multiply and be heard.

The hate exists on reddit. It’s not just /r/fatpeoplehate. There are the blatantly racist subreddits. There are dumb movements like The Red Pill or Men’s Rights which serve as a violent backlash against feminism. And then there are the more insidious hate groups, subs like /r/cringe or /r/punchablefaces, community boards that offer nothing more than a place to post a picture of a person thought to be ugly or different, all while the rest of the group spews out its vomit, unfortunately elevating its most upvoted content to reddit’s front page.

That’s how these groups get attention. Every once in a while the hate will whip itself into an especially frothy frenzy, and due to the nature of reddit’s system of upvoting and downvoting content, it’s possible for massively popular posts to break out of their respective subs and onto the front page.

/r/fatpeoplehate had been garnering more and more attention recently. The only reason that I became aware of its existence was because I’d increasingly see the wreckage of its diarrhea-like content spilling over into the more general, default subs. The mods of some of the larger defaults did a pretty good job of banning and deleting offensive users, but eventually the problem became so pronounced, the reddit admins took the unusual step of banning the entire sub.

The reaction was swift. Almost immediately after /r/fatpeoplehate was deleted, /r/fatpeoplehate2 sprung into existence, the same 150,000 users picking up exactly where they had left off. Only now they felt provoked, justified in their own nonsensical belief that they were the victims of censorship. “Free speech!” became the self-righteous rallying cry under which the scummiest of reddit’s slime lashed out against the admins, and against Ellen Pao in particular.

People might see the resulting hate and its prominence on reddit’s front page as proof that reddit was never anything better than a sugarcoated version of its bad reputation. And when you click onto the front page and see nothing but top post after top post celebrating the violent denigration of its woman CEO, it’s hard to make an argument otherwise.

I’m seeing arguments online like, “This is what you get when you poke the bear!” I guess the logic here is that it’s better to have the racism, misogyny, and hate all cordoned off in its own field. But all I can say is, I don’t think the hate on reddit is a bear as much as it is an infestation of cockroaches. Just like when you have a house overrun with insects, as soon as you try to confront the problem, as soon as you drop a bomb right in the heart of its nest, you’re going to see the bugs scatter everywhere. Sure, they’re going to crawl out of the woodwork and everything is going to look gross, and no, you’re not going to be able to kill every last bug. In fact, it’s only a matter of time before they crawl into some other dark hole and start the repopulation process once again. But just because the hate will always be here doesn’t mean that we have to stand idly by and honor its desire to exist. Reddit made exactly the right move in trying to clean up a long overgrown mess.

5 Signs You’re Currently Running For The Republican Nomination For President

People tell me all the time, “Rob, I’m definitely not running for the Republican nomination. No way.” But are you sure? More and more Republicans are throwing their hats in the ring, and as the race fills up with 2016 hopefuls, the statistical likelihood that you’re one of them shoots up accordingly. “But Rob,” you’ll say, “there’s no way. I’m not even a Republican.”

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Again, are you positive? I’ve heard rumors that former New York Governor George Pataki only yesterday found out that he was officially a Republican presidential candidate. “Really? Well that’s certainly news to me,” Gov. Pataki was heard to have said upon seeing his name in the papers for the first time in years. 2016 is reportedly still wide open for the GOP. Here’s how to find out if you’re in the running for the Republican bid.

1. Are you from Texas?

I only ask because, aside from insisting that Dr. Pepper is the best soda on the market, or spreading lies on the Internet that “real chili doesn’t have any beans,” there’s nothing Texans love to do more than run for President. George W. Bush was President, and that guy habitually screamed “Texas!” a minimum of 10 times at random points throughout the day. Yee-haw!

This year isn’t any different. So far we’ve got Texas Senator Ted Cruz, Texas Governor Rick Perry, Texas born businesswoman Carly Fiorina, and Texas former Governor of Florida Jeb Bush all officially in the race. And this is still early. There are dozens of Republicans expected to join in before the week is over. How many more will be Texans? Enough is enough. We get it Texas, you’re big, you were once your own country, Austin’s weird, and you don’t like to be messed with. Can we please give some other states a shot? It’s like America is trying to watch a movie, and Texas is always swaggering in, sitting right up front in the very first row, and refusing to take off its giant cowboy hat. We can’t see back here!

2. Do you think you’re tougher than Hillary Clinton?

Have you ever tried to convince someone else, or yourself, that you’d be tougher on national defense than Hillary Clinton? That’s a red flag. Do you feel in your heart of hearts that the Hillary Clinton Secretary of State email scandal made America less strong at home and abroad? That’s another red flag. And although you’d never admit it, do you look at Hillary and think to yourself, I could totally rock that pantsuit better than her? That’s three red flags.

If there’s one defining characteristic uniting the entire Republican field, it’s that Hillary Clinton is not so tough, and that you’d be a lot tougher. So while your insisting that you’d be tougher than Hillary Clinton doesn’t necessarily mean you’re running for President, there’s got to be some reason that you won’t stop talking about her toughness, and if you’re going to keep saying “Hillary” and “tough” over and over again, it’s a little less weird for everyone if you just admit that you’re running for President.

Read the rest at Thought Catalog