The Last Luminii: Prologue – Foundations 1

The Last Luminii: Lines of Dey’ta

“Magic, if it ever truly existed, faded into myth long ago. The old gods have been silent for millennia. But in the midst of a political coup by the Oculum, ancient forces once again begin to stir.”

It has been four thousand years since the betrayal. So long, in fact, that the forces of magic have long since bled out of those amongst the four races that survived the cataclysm and the myths have faded into legend.

But legend has no place in a land rife with political turmoil. In a rare time of peace, tensions are again starting to build. In the west, the Oculus church has a stranglehold over the Human Empire of Tannis Nor. In the north, the isolationist Lupar Dominion begins to send scouts across the Tangled Sea. To the east, the warring tribes of the Hundred Nations in the Great Span break a centuries-old pact, and set their sights of the City-State of Panacea. And to the south, the relatively Leonai Confederacy is threatening civil war.

Amidst this, The Last Luminii follows the paths of four people with no connections.

Ren, a young Leonai trained and educated by an old Human hermit, once a member of a powerful Order, must escape the village he grew up in after it is beset upon by the Aeturnis Vigil, the elite forces of the Oculus, the church of Legion and travel far to the northeast, across the Great Span desert to the great City-State of Panacea to find help.

Windy, a popular ‘Glamor Girl’ with one of the largest Sprees of the Great Span. She and her guardian, a Lupar Mutt named Grawe, decide to try their hand at thievery to find their way to a more comfortable life. But when they’re discovered by the warchief they stole from, they inadvertantly cause the breaking of a four-hundred-year pact between the warring tribes of the Hundred Nation.

Logan, A young noble from the Empire of Tannis Nor who is sent off with his Uncle on one of his ‘expeditions’ to the Strange Coast, a place rich with jungle ruins, wild and dangerous animals, and the Dai’ani. A strange, secluded race known for their brutality. But when his Uncle is the victim of an assassination, Logan is left to fend for himself, marooned with no way to return home. But when he begins to befriend some of the Dai’ani, he becomes the bearer of an ancient secret.

Miriam, a Sister of the White Wave. A nun of the Oculus, trained in medicine and treatment of disease, as well as stealth, espionage and assassinations who is assigned to a company of the Aeternus Vigil tasked to travel into the Leonai Confederacy to recover a wanted criminal, the very man who murdered her father. But when she finds him, he is nothing like what she expected.

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Prologue: Foundations 1

The Legionis Codex is the Word and Law of Legion upon Averis. It is within its pages that the Foundations of the Oculum Legionis discovers its creation of the five races of man.

Legion’s Word is Hope.
Legion’s Word is Law.
Legion’s Word is Forever.

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Music: The Poisoned Princess by Media Right Productions, available in the YouTube Audio Library.

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Children of the Halo Information & Purchase Links:

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6119967-children-of-the-halo

Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/Children-Halo-Engines-Creation-Book-ebook/dp/B00AHDETR0

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/261515

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Social Justice… Plus?

In 2012, blogger Jen McCreight came up with the concept of Atheism+, a self-described New Wave of Atheism that takes issues of social justice and pushes them to the forefront of the atheism conversation. Now, in my own experience of being an agnostic-atheist that was raised in an Evangelical Church environment, the conversation of separation of science, society and religion had always been important in my adult life. Also, I’d always made a point to stand against issues of racism and sexism, as can be inferred in many of my Trigger Warning videos.

At first glance, I wasn’t put off by the concept. But as I started to find myself exploring the concept, I noticed something very peculiar and off-putting about the community that had risen in its place. What I’d noticed is that it was filled with self-professed atheists who would go so far as to deny science because it didn’t fit into their worldview. I decided to let them be, and it was another year before I found myself butting heads with them.

I then discovered the Men’s Rights Movement. Now, I understand that many out there have their complaints about the MRM. And some of them, I will admit, are entirely valid. But that didn’t change the fact that the MRM had been the first group to publicly address issues I’d been dealing with my entire life, and some extreme issues I’d been dealing with for the past twelve years in particular.

That was when feminism found me to be an enemy. One that should be shouted down, my experiences mocked, and targeted at every opportunity. The issues I’d faced my entire life were nowhere near as important at the claim that women earned seventy-seven cents on the dollar. Nor were they as important as the claim that 1 in 4 women were raped in college. And even pointing out that both of these claims were not factual and inviting them to dig a little deeper and discover how, exactly, these claims came to be earned me a spot on feminism’s ‘Public Enemies’ list.

Another thing I’ve always been passionate about is gaming. And so, when I discovered that Kotaku Journalist Nathan Grayson had been sleeping with a game developer he had provided positive coverage to without disclosing, I was one of the voices who criticized the behavior. At first, it was something I wanted to throw my voice behind, and maybe offer up a comment or two. But when, in the genesis of the GamerGate controversy, I was called a misogynist, racist, sexist bigot for simply talking about ethics and disclosure in a context that had nothing to do with issues of gender or race, I butted heads. I fought back. GamerGate went from having my passive support to me throwing my full weight behind it.

Soon thereafter, the opponents of GamerGate came up with the concept of a Player. A Player enjoys video games, but holds issues of Social Justice and Feminism of vastly greater importance. Again, to the point of ignoring and avoiding any ideas or facts that do not conform to their particular paradigm.

I’ve long since believed that if you’re willing to ignore or deny facts without even looking into them, all because your ideology demands it, then you might just have thrown your weight behind the wrong ideology.

Everywhere I go, I’m now seeing self-professed “Social Justice Warriors” asserting their dominance. You like this thing? Well, if you like this thing, and the creator this thing has ever even been *accused* of saying or doing something that could be perceived as racist or sexist, then you’re the same as that person, even if you know nothing about it.

‘Social Justice Warrior’ was originally conceived as a derogatory term for the type of person who latches on to social justice theory and defends it aggressively in a shallow or not well-thought-out way. It has since involved into a personality cult of sorts, with certain ‘leaders’ chosen through social media popularity. I feel bad for these leaders. Because while they may receive much in the way of adulation from their followers, all it takes is one action that another so-called ‘leader’ takes issue with to create a rift, and unless that person apologizes and denounces their own actions or words, they tend to become pariahs. Their main tactics are to lambast and attempt to shame their targets. And in some cases even go so far as to dox them, or even make attempts to contact their employers or families. In many cases, simply for challenging assertions presented either without evidence or with flawed or incorrect information. To them, the worst crime a person can commit is to simply disagree.

Don’t believe me? Ask any former Social Justice Warrior, and judge for yourself.

But here’s the thing. I don’t honestly believe that Social Justice Warriors are explicitly bad people. I think that many of them merely got caught up in the mob mentality of radical social justice. Many leave the community. Many others get sucked in. And many more fervently believe that the ends justify the means. (Or, to quote a particular SJW, “There are no such things as bad tactics. Only bad targets.”)

Well, I don’t agree with them on that regard. There are bad tactics. If you wouldn’t do such a thing to your friend, then don’t do it to your enemy. Just because you disagree with them does not make them bad people deserving of whatever evils you can put upon them. Because even if that person is bad, attacking them tends to involve whatever innocents that are in their lives. It drags unassociated people into the line of fire. It’s like dumping napalm on a village just to eliminate one terrorist. If the government did such a thing, you’d be aghast. But if you do something similar, what makes it okay? Because ‘Social Justice’?

Do you think Adria Richards spared a thought for the children of the man she had fired because he told a puerile joke under his breath to a colleague that she happened to overhear, which didn’t involve her in the least?

It’s unlikely. And as I understand things, she still hasn’t spared a thought.

And so if you’re anything like me, you view such things as abhorrent and intensely problematic. But you also believe that issues of racism, sexism, and discrimination against people for accidents of birth should be addressed and dealt with, no matter who it is.

In modern Social Justice spheres, there are a number of theories floating around that present the definitions of both racism and sexism in different ways than it’s currently understood. More importantly, it’s presented in such a way that it’s become defined as a ‘one way experience.’ Basically a top-down experience that can only exist in certain contexts. Examples of this mentality include that racism against white people cannot exist, and that sexism against men cannot exist.

As a white male who has experienced both racism and sexism, I reject such notions.

And that brings me to Social Justice Plus. I, and others wholeheartedly believe the image of social justice we’re being subjected to is not only backwards, but self-defeating. It’s my belief that one cannot claim to stand for social justice, only to look the other way when others are in need of it. And so I’m interesting in gauging interest in an initiative to shake up the world of social justice. To introduce a form which takes racism against white people as seriously as it does racism against minorities. A form which explores issues of sexism against men with the same level of seriousness as sexism against women. One where misogyny and misandry are viewed in the same light.

I’m looking to join some others together to take another stab at Social Justice. To do it the right way, and to lead by example by holding the virtues of responsibility, nuance, fairness, self-discovery, empirical evidence, understanding and integrity with the same reverence as standing against racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination.

A group that understands the difference between equality of opportunity and equality of outcome. Who recognizes the inherent biological and psychological differences between the sexes.

One that does not see either ‘feminist’ or ‘MRA’ as labels worthy of scorn.

But more importantly, one that can work toward manageable goals, debate in good faith, and not have to constantly go on the offensive to make our points known.

And so, I invite anyone interested in such an initiative to contact me on Twitter, leave a comment on this blog, or suggest a private forum in which we can discuss this idea in-depth and figure out exactly what such an initiative should stand for in order to stay true to responsibility, fairness.

Contact me, and let’s make a difference together.

EJ Spurrell is Writing a New Novel

In 2008, I started work on the first draft of my first fantasy novel, Children of the Halo. Between January and March of that year, I had written nearly three hundred thousand words. After an additional six months of revisions, I had polished up the manuscript, whittled it down to just under two hundred and sixty thousand words (or roughly a thousand paperback-sized pages) and set myself to the task of self-publishing.

Self-publishing, of course, isn’t the best way to publish a novel. But the stark reality of the over-saturated traditional publishing market had turned me right off of pursuing the traditional channels to get my book published. It might have been years before I received a favorable response, and the reality was that I wasn’t willing to wait years. At the time, vanity publishing seemed to be the best option.

And so, in late 2008 I self-published my novel, and promptly forgot about it for another four years.

In 2012, my interest in writing was renewed, and I felt a need to re-publish the book with a new cover, an even more polished manuscript, and thus ended up with the Special Edition publication, which included a variety of extra short stories based in the same universe.

Overall, I put a lot of hard work into it, and earned some extremely favorable reviews. As of this writing, I have solid five-star reviews on Amazon and Smashwords, and a 4.6 star review on Goodreads. Although I have received few reviews for the work, the response was exceedingly favorable among those who took the time to review.

It’s been three years since I’ve put pen to paper in any serious effort, but I now find myself itching to once again wear the mantle of a writer. For the past year, I’ve thrown myself whole-heartedly into producing content for Black Trident TV on YouTube. A brainchild of my own, that seeks to provide entertainment and deconstruction of social issues and movements, but one that involves several awesome people as well.

But now I’ve been bitten. A story I’ve been working on for nearly twenty years that I can pinpoint the exact moment it was inspired has been forming word-by-word over the past month. I am now nearly thirty-thousand words into the new novel, and I plan to see it through to completion once again.

Tentatively titled The Last Luminii, the novel introduces a world in which magic has faded away into myth and legend, and follows five characters as they are pitted against totalitarian religious orders, violent war clans, political turmoil, and ancient secrets come to light. It deals with themes of racism, political control, and theocratic ideologies.

The summary, for those who are interested:

Magic, if it ever truly existed on the world of Averis, faded away into myth long ago. The gods and goddesses of old have remained silent for millennia. But in the midst of a political coup by the Oculum, a fanatical religious order in the Human Empire of Tannis Nor, ancient forces once again begin to stir.

I want to be clear that this story has been twenty years in the making. The world of Averis is rich and detailed, with a deep history, and even deeper secrets.

Also, I’d like to invite you to check out the first chapter over at Writer’s Café.

The Vita Effect: The Beginning

And here it is. We’ve worked very hard on the first episode of The Vita Effect, a project intended not only to chronicle host EJ Spurrell’s journey to better health, but to help others achieve their goals as well, whether it be to lose weight, gain muscle, promote a generally healthy lifestyle or even reach goals unrelated to health & well-being.

Over the coming months and years, we hope to lift The Vita Effect up to help inspire a generation of people to realize that despite how they perceive the odds to be stacked against them, their goals are in fact within their reach. So join EJ & The Vita Effect team on their journey, and if you’re interested in helping support what The Vita Effect aims to accomplish, please consider supporting our Patreon page.

Intel’s Diversity Initiative has Two Big Problems

Yesterday, Intel announced a new initiative designed to accelerate diversity in the field of technology. CEO Brian Krzanich announced during a press release that it was spearheading a $300 million dollar campaign to “help build a pipeline of female and under-represented engineers and computer scientists; to actively support hiring and retaining more women and under-represented minorities; and to fund programs to support more positive representation within the technology and gaming industries.”

An arguably laudable goal, and an uncomplicated premise. The idea is to open the doors for more female and ethnic minorities to be represented fairly in the tech industry. What they mean by fair representation remains to be seen, but taken at face value, I agree with such an initiative.

With that said, however, there were a few things with the presentation that caused more than a few eyebrows to be raised. Most notably, the fact that the International Game Developers Association and Feminist Frequency were partners in the initiative, among other, far less controversial groups.

As many are aware, the IGDA and Feminist Frequency have been actively involved in the GamerGate debacle almost since its inception and have come under heavy criticism from gamers, IGDA members and feminists alike for injecting themselves into the conversation that initially they had little, if anything, to do with.

Let’s break it down a little bit here.

IGDA had, at one point, wholeheartedly endorsed the infamous GamerGate Blocklist, a Twitter mass-blocking tool maintained by pseudo-feminist Randi Harper to protect innocent Twitter users from being harassed by individuals that were attempting to hold a bevy of games journalists found to be involved in nepotistic and incestuous relationships with their subjects. Initially, women and feminism was never a part of the equation. Regardless of how many people think it started, what it boils down to is that one woman in particular, an interactive fiction developer, was found to have been involved in a close personal relationship with a journalist who wrote favorable coverage of her project. Identity politics being what they are, it didn’t take long for third-wave modern feminists to equate the criticism received by both the developer and journalist to harassment of women in the video game industry. The journalists implicated in much of this mess then took it upon themselves to roll with that narrative. And thus, GamerGate was born.

Due to that, it didn’t take long for Feminist Frequency’s Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathon McIntosh to weigh in. Naturally, they believed the narrative. Gamers supporting increased accountability and ethics in games journalism were at a loss. What should have been a clear-cut acknowledge and apologise action by the games sites in question was blown entirely out of proportion. And the rhetoric, it seemed, was much more publicly acknowledged than the truth.

The gamers were quickly labelled misogynist, and less than two weeks later, no less than eleven articles were written proclaiming the identity of gamer to be obsolete due to the inherent misogyny and racism of video game culture.

When women and ethnic minorities spoke up to say they’d not experienced any such thing, the journalists were also quick to label them as sock puppets.

But I’m not here to talk about GamerGate. I’m here to talk about Intel’s initiative. I’m sorry, Intel. I cannot bring myself to support this initiative if IGDA and Feminist Frequency are in any way involved. And here’s why:

The Twitter blocklist endorsed by IGDA has been described by developers as poorly constructed and artbitrary. To the point where if you were following any of the so-called ringleaders of GamerGate (which include actor Adam Baldwin of Firefly fame and Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers, feminist, New York Times bestselling author and philosophy professor) on Twitter, you were immediately blocked. It’s not uncommon for them to share followers for reasons completely unrelated to GamerGate. And yet, the blocklist was indiscriminate against them. Robert Rosario, president of the IGDA Puerto Rico chapter was one of them. Why? Simply because he believed the argument against collusion and corruption in games journalism had merit. This was not, in any way, a concern of IGDA. Rosario protested his addition to the blocklist and requested to be removed. His request was refused. IGDA received his resignation soon after.

Rosario had done nothing wrong. He had done nothing to prevent women from joining the industry. In fact, he’d done exactly the opposite.

But did it matter? Unfortunately, not. Why? Who can say. If I were to guess, it’s because his involvement didn’t fit the narrative. Mr. Rosario is no longer involved with IGDA. They were all too happy to throw him under the bus. A shining example of the diversity IGDA stands for.

And now we come on to Feminist Frequency.

There are a great many things to be said about Anita Sarkeesian and Jonathon McIntosh. But I feel it’s better to let them speak for themselves. Here’s just a small selection of tweets from the dastardly duo and how they truly feel about diversity.

Here’s Anita weighing in on what the real cause of mass shootings is. (Hint: It isn’t mental illness.)

And what about sexism? Surely someone interested in equality and diversity would have a balanced look at sexism, right?

… or not. I might remind you, Intel, that what she’s saying there has literally ZERO scientific backing. The Power + prejudice argument might sound nice to her, but it’s no more than opinion. Ill-formed, shallow opinion at that.

But enough about Anita. I don’t want to seem like I’m singling her out. Let’s talk about her partner-in-crime, Jonathon McIntosh. Surely he can’t be blindly sexist, right? Oh… wait.

Oh, but he can’t be all bad, right? Surely he’s not racist or anything. Especially against those in the tech industry.

Umm… Well… It’s not like he disputes studies or science or anything just because he has a pre-existing bias, right?

Right. So I leave the question to you, Intel. Are these clearly divisive people who are not only shouting down white males but women and minorities not because these gamers are bigoted misogynists, but because they value evidence over emotions, really someone you want in your corner?

To be clear, I’m all for the Intel initiative. Except for the involvement of IGDA and Feminist Frequency. I simply don’t trust anything that has their names attached to it. Because if this is their idea of diversity, shouting down men and white people and silencing their voices instead of including everyone, then I want nothing to do with it. I’d much rather surround myself with the logically-coherent and diverse voices of GamerGate than the incoherent, senseless ramblings of Jonathon McIntosh.