#VerityLTstheBible: Judges and Ruth

Parts 7 and 8 of 66 of a project I started in the summer of 2019: To reread the Bible publicly, evaluating the oft-repeated notion that the text is inerrant, self-contained, and a bearer of clear, self-evident truths.

(Looking for another book of the Bible? Click this link for a master list of threads, sorted by book.)

Judges 1-7: 10 Israel does evil in the eyes of the Lord 20 GOTO 10

Judges 8-12: Gideon does some murder, but it’s the righteous kind. Various other leaders judge Israel, do some murder, and then die (of old age, not smiting).

Judges 13-21: Samson is born, in a story that sounds suspiciously familiar. He does a lot of killing, most of it while dying. The tribes of Israel turn on Benjamin for having botched a reenactment of Genesis 19.

Ruth: Get you a husband who knows his barley harvest.


#VerityLTstheBible is a labor of love, but it’s also a lot of work. Show your support by buying me a coffee or checking out one or more of my books.

Christmas Carols Nobody Asked For, Vol. 5: By Candlelight Swans Three

(For an explanation – of sorts – see Vol. 1. For more nonsense, see Vol. 2, Vol. 3 and Vol. 4.)

Many of our most well-known Christmas carols today originated in the Victorian era. It was an era of soaring vocals, vivid natural imagery, and swooning over “medieval” music, art and stories without actually understanding a single thing about the medieval era.

Anyway, I thought it was time to create a faux-Victorian predictive-text carol.

Lyrics, as always, are by Botnik. I composed the score in Noteflight.

By Candlelight Swans Three

Joy and cheer, that’s a pear
For you I’ll be happy
Memories watching me
By candlelight swans three
Oh, behold their swimming flight!
Hardly down around this night!
Sky shout birds, blazing see!
By candlelight swans three

Here’s the score [pdf].

Here’s the audio file [mp3].


Musicians are overworked and underpaid, especially during the holidays. Help by sharing this post or leaving a tip.

Culture Test: Nirala

In The Planet Construction Kit, Mark Rosenfelder recommends creating a “culture test” for concultures, in order to get a clearer view of what it’s like to be an average member of one’s invented society.

Rosenfelder’s version for the average American was sufficiently instructive (as in “dude, just @ me next time”) to encourage me to create one for the average Niralan.

Per culture test rules, the following describes 90 percent of the species – it’s an overview of what it’s like being Niralan on Nirala. The La’Isshai, who may or may not actually exist, live a dramatically different version of Niralan life; I’ll give them their own culture test in coming months.

In honor of yet another round of edits on the Nahara manuscript, here’s life as an average Niralan.

If You’re Niralan….

  • You’re convinced of the rightness of rule by your elders. They have the experience, after all; not only from their own lives, but from your collective ancestors as well.
  • You value cooperation above all else. You see the role of your elders as maintaining cooperation, by any means necessary.
  • Age is less important than your status among the various major life stages: birth, puberty (amaron), motherhood, eldership, and death. That said, you’d find it odd to meet anyone under the age of 3 (about 12 in Earth years) who could talk or anyone under the age of 26 (about 100 in Earth years) who had a child.
  • Children are seen and not heard, by definition: a “child” cannot talk.
  • Everything is something you can communicate emotions with by touching it (inaya) or that you can’t (ilikpa). The former are “people,” the latter are “things.” (Think of the difference in your approach to “my sister” versus “my hat.”)
  • You speak at least two languages: Niralanes, and the chord-based song-language of the hamaya. Depending on where you live, you may speak up to six Niralan languages; depending on your job, you may speak several offworld languages as well.
  • You think of yourself as your kiiste (family), not as an individual member or part of your kiiste.
  • You think of the kiiste as individual members or parts of Nirala.

In Your Household…

  • You live with your oldest living ancestor and every one of her direct descendants. If her line was a small one, you might live with every one of the direct descendants of a deceased great-grandmother or great-great-grandmother. Households are typically three to twelve people; larger households are preferred.
  • Your house is partly or entirely underground. It has a large central room, probably circular, which is where you spend most of your time and also where you sleep (along with everyone else).
  • You don’t have your own room, but you do have your own cupboard or trunk in which to keep personal items like clothing, books and grooming tools. You don’t collect sentimental objects.
  • You eat at a low table, sitting on a cushion or low stool. Most of your food can be eaten by hand, although it’s typical to use utensils when people who aren’t members of your kiiste are present, so that you avoid touching one another’s food by accident.
  • Your diet is primarily meat-based, though you don’t typically kill your own food. Food comes from protein resequencers or is shipped in from planets with larger animal populations.
  • The toilet is separate from the rest of the house, in its own heated building. Washing is typically done in the main house; many houses have added a separate room to contain the water. Privacy is not a concern, since nudity doesn’t phase you.
  • Relationships across kiiste lines are primarily made on the basis of usefulness, and even the longest-lasting of these doesn’t come before your obligations to your own family.

Socially Speaking….

  • You’ve never been off Nirala.
  • Political and social decisions are made by a council of six Niralan elders, called the senarie. You find this natural and sensible.
  • The senarie also serves as the court system, but hearing any case is a once-in-a-decade event. Most disputes are settled by seniority: the elder disputant wins.
  • Your mother and grandmother took care of your education. They may have worked to acquire advanced materials for your study once you reached the age of amaron.
  • You probably haven’t been sent off-world to university, but you have heard about Niralans who were. These are generally cautionary tales.
  • You work at least one-third of each year in direct public service, without pay, during which your family supports your food and medical needs. The rest of the time may be devoted to activities that support your family, help others or make money, though the latter is looked at somewhat askance.
  • Utilities, transportation, healthcare are all public goods, administered by the senarie. Arrangements may be made for offworlders to provide these, but without offworlders coming into direct contact with Niralans.
  • Nirala has exactly one ambassador. You’ve never met her, nor do you know anyone who has ever met any Niralan ambassador, ever.
  • It has never occurred to you to do any job other than the one your mother and/or grandmother chose for you.

You Spend Your Time….

  • You know Lili Amarones backwards and forwards, even if you otherwise hate reading.
  • You mastered ice skating, sledding and building things out of snow before you could talk.
  • “Games” are cooperative, not competitive. They’re typically based on one or more songs, which you would have learned as a young child. The song might be accompanied by a dance or other form of ritual movement, or it might be a more sedate activity involving strategic manipulation of complex geometric shapes.
  • You don’t remember at what age you began playing games, and there’s no age at which it’s considered unseemly to keep playing, although elders tend to prefer games that allow them to sit.
  • You’re always studying something. Games and relaxation are fun and all, but life is tedious unless you’re learning something new.

Everyone Knows That….

  • Days are 102 hours long (in base-6).
  • Numbers are counted in base-6: 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 20, 21….
  • There’s no reason to know or care on what day you were born.
  • Texts are written top to bottom and right to left.
  • Niralanes is written and read with reference to a central vertical axis, but only children actually draw this axis to “center” their writing. Adults can write in a straight line without a guide.
  • You can get most things you need to live without money. If you need money, you probably don’t need the thing you’re exchanging it for in order to live.
  • Showing up more than five minutes late to an appointment is not only inexcusable, but a symptom of a serious illness.
  • The length of meetings, appointments, etc. is dictated by the whims of the eldest participant. If participants are closely matched in age and the topic requires significant discussion in order to reach consensus, meetings may last for days or even weeks.
  • Barring mishap, you can reasonably expect to live to about 48 years old (or about 180 in Earth years). 53 years old (about 200 in Earth years) is unusual but not impossible.
  • Viidans can’t be trusted. The Second Empire in particular was unusually cruel, nearly eradicating Niralans entirely.
  • Devori are the least untrustworthy offworlders, even though they aren’t people.
  • Every kiiste has its own quirks. Nahara can’t be trusted, but is great for finding out the answers to questions you can’t ask directly for whatever reason. Nantais can be relied on to take the lead on projects no one else wants to do. Nesenda won’t ever say no to a request, and is in fact a bit of a doormat. And so on.

My first novel, Nantais, introduced Nirala to the world; its upcoming sequel, Nahara, expands on the language and culture. Check them out, or support this and future writing efforts by buying me a coffee.

#VerityLTstheBible: Links to Joshua

Part 6 of 66 of a project I started in the summer of 2019: To reread the Bible publicly, evaluating the oft-repeated notion that the text is inerrant, self-contained, and a bearer of clear, self-evident truths.

(Looking for another book of the Bible? Click this link for a master list of threads, sorted by book.)

Interlude: In which the reader notes that gender reveal parties aren’t Biblical.

Joshua 1-12: ALL I DO IS SACK CANAAN

Interlude: In which the reader introspects on the premise under which she is rereading the Bible in the first place.

Joshua 13-24: TELL OUR INVADING ARMY WHAT THEY’VE WON, JOSH. Spoiler alert: Joshua dies.


#VerityLTstheBible is a labor of love, but it’s also a lot of work. Show your support by buying me a coffee or checking out one or more of my books.

#VerityLTstheBible: Links to Deuteronomy

Part 5 of 66 of a project I started in the summer of 2019: To reread the Bible publicly, evaluating the oft-repeated notion that the text is inerrant, self-contained, and a bearer of clear, self-evident truths.

(Looking for another book of the Bible? Click this link for a master list of threads, sorted by book.)

Deuteronomy 1-19: RULES. The occasional smiting. And so on.

Deuteronomy 20-34: Moses dies and no one can remember where they put his body.


#VerityLTstheBible is a labor of love, but it’s also a lot of work. Show your support by buying me a coffee or checking out one or more of my books.

Christmas Carols Nobody Asked for, Vol. 4: Skin Carol

(For an explanation of this project and links to other volumes, see the master list.)

“Skin Carol” was not Botnik’s idea. Rather, it came from a friend’s Facebook post, musing how any noun sounded suddenly eerie when modified by the adjective “skin.”

While I immediately saw the potential of this idea, I was also concerned. Did the word “skin” actually appear anywhere in all the Christmas carols I had fed to Botnik? In other words, would Botnik know how to talk about Skin Christmas?

Botnik did.

Vol. 4 is in the tradition of the sing-along type carol: Simple tune, consistent refrain, and so on. Think “Deck the Halls.” The audio file and score contain only the verse and chorus, but you can easily repeat as long as you desire, or until you run out of skin.

Skin Carol

VERSE 1

The skin candy, the Christmas tree, O sing a skin carol!
The skin birds sing and skin bells ring, O sing a skin carol!
Such joy your soft skin brings us all,
In bright skin folds your skin does fall,
For skin is here for all to cheer, O sing a skin carol!

CHORUS
Skin carol, skin carol, sing a skin carol!
Skin carol, skin carol, sing a skin carol!

ADDITIONAL VERSES
When everyone receives a skin, O sing a skin carol!
The night sky shouts skin songs again, O sing a skin carol!
Kiss baby skin and let it snow,
This happy day we trim skin now,
Good tidings cheer, skin the New Year, O sing a skin carol!

Ol’ reindeer games are full of skin, O sing a skin carol!
Let needy laughter climb your skin, O sing a skin carol!
Partridge destiny is here,
Your merry shoppers hug with care,
As skin choirs sound the skin year round, O sing a skin carol!

In Bethlehem they found some skin, O sing a skin carol!
The ass and cow let skin elves in, O sing a skin carol!
No more skin through all the snow,
Let lovely Christmas gifts pass through
Your skin lists full of skin bows now, O sing a skin carol!

The score is here [pdf].

The audio file is here [mp3].

Christmas Carols Nobody Asked For, Vol. 3: Sweet Silent Tree

(For an explanation – of sorts – see Vol. 1. For more nonsense, see Vol. 2.)

Volume 1 was an attempt at a standard major-key pop-ish Christmas tune. Volume 2 was an attempt at a Christmas carol in the English folk style.

Volume 2 taught me a lot about lyrics. Like how if you’re going to have one syllable per note, maybe don’t have 24,601 eighth notes in your 28 measures of 6/8.

So in Volume 3, I took my inspiration from two sources:

  1. Canons and rounds. I hate That One Pachelbel Canon with a passion, even with the Christmas lyrics shoehorned in. But that doesn’t mean I can’t attempt to make something similar.
  2. Descants. How many notes can you sing in one breath? LET’S FIND OUT.

This is the result.

Sweet Silent Tree

Sweet silent tree
such joy and glee
o whoa
christmas bells rings
why do you
bring us pudding
bring lots of pudding
girl stay close

Here’s the sheet music (pdf)

Here’s the audio file (mp3)

After I wrote the melody line to go with the words, I decided to see if it actually worked as a round. The result is…eerily beautiful.

Here’s the sheet music for the round (pdf)

Here’s the audio file of the round (mp3)

Musicians are overworked and underpaid. Help keep me going: Share this post and/or drop me a tip.