Henry Highland Garnet: An Address to the Slaves of the United States of America

Photo: Henry Highland Garnet, circa 1881.
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Henry Highland Garnet (b. December 23, 1815 – d. February 13, 1882) was often categorized as a radical abolitionist minister because he discussed civil disobedience, including armed resistance. Born into the United States’ slavery system in 1815 Maryland, at the estate of Colonel William Spencer, by age 9, Garnet would escape with his father, a captured Mandingo chief. His father led the family through the Underground Railroad system from Maryland to Delaware, Pennsylvania and, finally, New York. This would mark just the beginning of Garnet’s many challenges to live free among the racially volatile Europeans of the Americas who were bent on maintaining Africans as a slave class.


This Address, by Henry Highland Garnet, was made before the National Convention of Colored Citizens on August 16, 1843 in Buffalo, New York

Brethren and Fellow-Citizens: Your brethren of the North, East, and West have been accustomed to meet together in National Conventions, to sympathize with each other, and to weep over your unhappy condition. In these meetings we have addressed all classes of the free, but we have never, until this time, sent a word of consolation and advice to you. We have been contented in sitting still and mourning over your sorrows, earnestly hoping that before this day your sacred liberties would have been restored. But, we have hoped in vain. Years have rolled on, and tens of thousands have been borne on streams of blood and tears, to the shores of eternity. While you have been oppressed, we have also been partakers with you; nor can we be free while you are enslaved. We, therefore, write to you as being bound with you.

Many of you are bound to us, not only by the ties of a common humanity, but we are connected by the more tender relations of parents, wives, husbands, children, brothers, and sisters, and friends. As such we most affectionately address you.

Slavery has fixed a deep gulf between you and us, and while it shuts out from you the relief and consolation which your friends would willingly render, it afflicts and persecutes you with a fierce- ness which we might not expect to see in the fiends of hell. But still the Almighty Father of mercies has left to us a glimmering ray of hope, which shines out like a lone star in a cloudy sky. Mankind are becoming wiser, and better—the oppressor’s power is fading, and you, every day, are becoming better informed, and more numerous. Your grievances, brethren, are many. We shall not attempt, in this short address, to present to the world all the dark catalogue of this nation’s sins, which have been committed upon an innocent people. Nor is it indeed necessary, for you feel them from day to day, and all the civilized world look upon them with amazement.

Two hundred and twenty-seven years ago, the first of our injured race were brought to the shores of America. They came not with glad spirits to select their homes in the New World. They came not with their own consent, to find an unmolested enjoyment of the blessings of this fruitful soil. The first dealings they had with men calling themselves Christians, exhibited to them the worst features of corrupt, and sordid hearts: and convinced them that no cruelty is too great, no villainy and no robbery too abhorrent for even enlightened men to perform, when influenced by avarice and lust. Neither did they come flying upon the wings of Liberty, to a land of freedom. But they came with broken hearts, from their beloved native land, and were doomed to unrequited toil and deep degradation. Nor did the evil of their bondage end at their emancipation by death. Succeeding generations inherited their chains, and millions have come from eternity into time, and have returned again to the world of spirits, cursed and ruined by American slavery.

The propagators of the system, or their immediate ancestors, very soon discovered its growing evil, and its tremendous wickedness, and secret promises were made to destroy it. The gross inconsistency of a people holding slaves, who had themselves “ferried o’er the wave” for freedom’s sake, was too apparent to be entirely over-looked. The voice of Freedom cried, “Emancipate your slaves.” Humanity supplicated with tears for the deliverance of the children of Africa. Wisdom urged her solemn plea. The bleeding captive pleaded his innocence, and pointed to Christianity who stood weeping at the cross. Jehovah frowned upon the nefarious institution, and thunderbolts, red with vengeance, struggled to leap forth to blast the guilty wretches who maintained it. But all was vain. Slavery had stretched its dark wings of death over the land, the Church stood silently by—the priests prophesied falsely, and the people loved to have it so. Its throne is established, and now it reigns triumphant.

Nearly three millions of your fellow-citizens are prohibited by law and public opinion (which in this country is stronger than law) from reading the Book of Life. Your intellect has been destroyed as much as possible, and every ray of light they have attempted to shut out from your minds. The oppressors themselves have become involved in the ruin. They have become weak, sensual, and rapacious—they have cursed you—they have cursed themselves—they have cursed the earth which they have trod.

The colonies threw the blame upon England. They said that the mother country entailed the evil upon them, and that they would rid themselves of it if they could. The world thought they were sincere, and the philanthropic pitied them. But time soon tested their sincerity. In a few years the colonists grew strong, and severed themselves from the British Government. Their independence was declared, and they took their station among the sovereign powers of the earth. The declaration was a glorious document. Sages admired it, and the patriotic of every nation reverenced the God-like sentiments which it contained. When the power of Government returned to their hands, did they emancipate the slaves? No; they rather added new links to our chains. Were they ignorant of the principles of Liberty? Certainly they were not. The sentiments of their revolutionary orators fell in burning eloquence upon their hearts, and with one voice they cried, Liberty or death. Oh what a sentence was that! It ran from soul to soul like electric fire, and nerved the arm of thousands to fight in the holy cause of Freedom. Among the diversity of opinions that are entertained in regard to physical resistance, there are but a few found to gainsay that stern declaration. We are among those who do not.

Slavery! How much misery is comprehended in that single word. What mind is there that does not shrink from its direful effects? Unless the image of God be obliterated from the soul, all men cherish the love of Liberty. The nice discerning political economist does not regard the sacred right more than the untutored African who roams in the wilds of Congo. Nor has the one more right to the full enjoyment of his freedom than the other. In every man’s mind the good seeds of liberty are planted, and he who brings his fellow down so low, as to make him contented with a condition of slavery, commits the highest crime against God and man. Brethren, your oppressors aim to do this. They endeavor to make you as much like brutes as possible. When they have blinded the eyes of your mind when they have embittered the sweet waters of life—when they have shut out the light which shines from the word of God—then, and not till then, has American slavery done its perfect work.

To such degradation it is sinful in the Extreme for you to make voluntary submission. The divine commandments you are in duty bound to reverence and obey. If you do not obey them, you will surely meet with the displeasure of the Almighty. He requires you to love him supremely, and your neighbor as yourself—to keep the Sabbath day holy—to search the Scriptures—and bring up your children with respect for his laws, and to worship no other God but him. But slavery sets all these at nought, and hurls defiance in the face of Jehovah. The forlorn condition in which you are placed, does not destroy your moral obligation to God. You are not certain of heaven, because you suffer yourselves to remain in a state of slavery, where you cannot obey the commandments of the Sovereign of the universe. If the ignorance of slavery is a passport to heaven, then it is a blessing, and no curse, and you should rather desire its perpetuity than its abolition. God will not receive slavery, nor ignorance, nor any other state of mind, for love and obedience to him. Your condition does not absolve you from your moral obligation. The diabolical injustice by which your liberties are cloven down,neither God; nor angels, or just men, command you to suffer for a single moment. Therefore it is your solemn and imperative duty to use every means, both moral; intellectual and physical that promises success. If a band of heathen men should attempt to enslave a race of Christians, and to place their children under the influence of some false religion, surely, Heaven would frown upon the men who would not resist such aggression, even to death. If, on the other hand, a band of Christians should attempt to enslave a race of heathen men, and to entail slavery upon them, and to keep them in heathenism in the midst of Christianity, the God of heaven would smile upon every effort which the injured might make to dis-enthrall themselves.

Brethren, it is as wrong for your lordly oppressors to keep you in slavery, as it was for the man thief to steal our ancestors from the coast of Africa. You should therefore now use the same manner of resistance, as would have been just in our ancestors, when the bloody footprints of the first remorseless soul-thief was placed upon the shores of our fatherland. The humblest peasant is as free in the sight of God as the proudest monarch that ever swayed a sceptre. Liberty is a spirit sent out from God, and like its great Author, is no respecter of persons.

Brethren, the time has come when you must act for yourselves. It is an old and true saying that, “if hereditary bondmen would be free, they must themselves strike the blow.” You can plead your own cause, and do the work of emancipation better than any others. The nations of the old world are moving in the great cause of universal freedom, and some of them at least will, ere long, do you justice. The combined powers of Europe have placed their broad seal of disapprobation upon the African slave-trade. But in the slave-holding parts of the United States, the trade is as brisk as ever. They buy and sell you as though you were brute beasts. The North has done much—her opinion of slavery in the abstract is known. But in regard to the South, we adopt the opinion of the New York Evangelist —“We have advanced so far, that the cause apparently waits for a more effectual door to be thrown open than has been yet.” We are about to point you to that more effectual door. Look around you, and behold the bosoms of your loving wives heaving with untold agonies! Hear the cries of your poor children! Remember the stripes your fathers bore. Think of the torture and disgrace of your noble mothers. Think of your wretched sisters, loving virtue and purity, as they are driven into concubinage and are exposed to the unbridled lusts of incarnate devils. Think of the undying glory that hangs around the ancient name of Africa—and forget not that you are native-born American citizens, and as such, you are justly entitled to all the rights that are granted to the freest. Think how many tears you have poured out. upon the soil which you have cultivated with unrequited toil and enriched with your blood; and then go to your lordly enslavers and tell them plainly, that you are determined to be free. Appeal to their sense of justice, and tell them that they have no more right to oppress you, than you have to enslave them. Entreat them to remove the grievous burdens which they have imposed upon you, and to remunerate you for your labor. Promise them renewed diligence in the cultivation of the soil, if they will render to you an equivalent for your services. Point them to the increase of happiness and prosperity in the British West Indies since the Act of Emancipation.

Tell them in language which they cannot misunderstand, of the exceeding sinfulness of slavery, and of a future judgment, and of the righteous retributions of an indignant God. Inform them that all you desire is freedom, and that nothing else will suffice. Do this, and for ever after cease to toil for the heartless tyrants, who give you no other reward but stripes and abuse. If they then commence the work of death, they, and not you, will be responsible for the consequences. You had far better all die—die immediately, than live slaves, and entail your wretchedness upon your posterity. If you would be free in this generation, here is your only hope. However much you and all of us may desire it, there is not much hope of redemption without the shedding of blood. If you must bleed, let it all come at once—ratherdie freemen, than live to be the slaves. It is impossible, like the children of Israel, to make a grand exodus from the land of bondage. The Pharaohs are on both sides of the blood-red waters! You cannot move en masse, to the dominions of the British Queen—nor can you pass through Florida and overrun Texas, and at last find peace in Mexico. The propagators of American slavery are spending their blood and treasure, that they may plant the black flag in the heart of Mexico and riot in the halls of the Montezumas. In the language of the Rev. Robert Hall, when addressing the volunteers of Bristol, who were rushing forth to repel the invasion of Napoleon, who threatened to lay waste the fair homes of England, “Religion is too much interested in your behalf, not to shed over you her most gracious influences.”

You will not be compelled to spend much time in order to become inured to hardships. From the first moment that you breathed the air of heaven, you have been accustomed to nothing else but hardships. The heroes of the American Revolution were never put upon harder fare than a peck of corn and a few herrings per week. You have not become enervated by the luxuries of life. Your sternest energies have been beaten out upon. the anvil of severe trial, Slavery has done this, to make you subservient to its own purposes; but it has done more than this, it has prepared you for any emergency. If you receive good treatment, it is what you could hardly expect; if you meet with pain, sorrow, and even death, these are the common lot of the slaves. Fellow-men! patient sufferers! behold your dearest rights crushed to the earth! See your sons murdered, and your wives, mothers and sisters doomed to prostitution. In the name of the merciful God, and by all that life is worth, let it no longer be a debatable question, whether it is better to choose Liberty or death. In 1822, Denmark Vesey, of South Carolina, formed a plan for the liberation of his fellow-men. In the whole history of human efforts to overthrow slavery, a more complicated and tremendous plan was never formed. He was betrayed by the treachery of his own people, and died a martyr to freedom. Many a brave hero fell, but history, faithful to her high trust, will transcribe his name on the same monument with Moses, Hampden, Tell, Bruce and Wallace, Toussaint L’Ouverture, Lafayette and Washington. That tremendous movement shook the whole empire of slavery. The guilty soul-thieves were overwhelmed with fear. It is a matter of fact, that at that time, and in consequence of the threatened revolution, the slave States talked strongly of emancipation. But they blew but one blast of the trumpet of freedom, and then laid it aside. As these men became quiet, the slaveholders ceased to talk about emancipation: and now behold your condition today! Angels sigh over it, and humanity has long since exhausted her tears in weeping on your account! The patriotic Nathaniel Turner followed Denmark Vesey. He was goaded to desperation by wrong and injustice. By despotism, his name has been recorded on the list of infamy; and future generations will remember him among the noble and brave. Next arose the immortal Joseph Cinque, the hero of the Amistad. He was a native African, and by the help of God he emancipated a whole ship-load of his fellow-men on the high seas. And he now sings of liberty on the sunny hills of Africa and beneath his native palm-trees, where he hears the lion roar and feels himself as free as that king of the forest.

Next arose Madison Washington, that bright star of freedom, and took his station in the constellation of true heroism. He was a slave on board the brig Creole, of Richmond, bound to New Orleans, that great slave mart, with a hundred and four others. Nineteen struck for liberty or death. But one life was taken, and the whole were emancipated, and the vessel was carried into Nassau, New Providence. Noble men! Those who have fallen in freedom’s conflict, their memories will be cherished by the true-hearted and the God-fearing in all future generations; those who are living, their names are surrounded by a halo of glory. Brethren, arise, arise! Strike for your lives and liberties. Now is the day and the hour. Let every slave throughout the land do this, and the days of slavery are numbered. You cannot be more oppressed than you have been—you cannot suffer greater cruelties than you have already. Rather die freemen than live to be slaves. Remember that you are four millions! It is in your power so to torment the God-cursed slaveholders, that they will be glad to let you go free. If the scale was turned, and black men were the masters and white men the slaves, every destructive agent and element would be employed to lay the oppressor low. Danger and death would hang over their heads day and night. Yes, the tyrants would meet with plagues more terrible than those of Pharaoh. But you are a patient people. You act as though you were made for the special use of these devils. You act as though your daughters were born to pamper the lusts of your masters and overseers. And worse than all, you tamely submit while your lords tear your wives from your embraces and defile them before your eyes. In the name of God, we ask, are you men? Where is the blood of your fathers? Has it all run out of your veins? Awake, awake, millions of voices are calling you! Your dead fathers speak to you from their graves. Heaven, as with a voice of thunder, calls on you to arise from the dust. Let your motto be resistance! resistance! resistance! No oppressed people have ever secured their liberty without resistance. What kind of resistance you had better make, you must decide by the circumstances that surround you, and according to the suggestion of expediency. Brethren, adieu! Trust in the living God. Labor for the peace of the human race, and remember that you are four millions.
Published in Henry Highland Garnet, Walker’s Appeal, with a Brief Sketch of His Life. See also Garnet’s Address to the Slaves of the United States of America. New-York, Printed by J. H. Tobitt, 1848, pages 89–97.

Do we underestimate the role of luck in our lives?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

No, I think we overestimate its value.

We attribute to luck, things for which luck has little or nothing to do with and ignore the things for which only luck can account. There are two things you have to consider:

One: You owe your existence to luck, to the randomness of the Universe. All that you are, hidden in your DNA is the random happenstance associated with luck.

  • You are the product of millions of years of evolution, the decisions of thousands of your ancestors have lead to you being where you are today.
  • Your very existence depended on one egg and one sperm out of millions coming together to create YOU.
  • Your existence is nothing more than random happenstance in a universe of randomness. This is the true nature of your existence.
  • The fact that you exist at all is just LUCK.

Two: Luck is poorly defined and we will get into that in a minute but suffice it to say, luck is exactly what we say it is, something that is outside of your ability to control.

  • Despite witticisms that say otherwise, you have no control of what random events take place in your life. They are random.
  • They are part of the natural entropy (and perhaps occasional smattering of randomly-occurring order) which takes place all around you.
  • You have no control over this. You only have control over how you deal with it and how you choose to respond to what has happened to you randomly.
  • The opportunities you have in life have far less to do with luck and far more to do with systemic and systematic processes and protocols which govern who is wealthy, educated, employed, given new opportunities and ultimately benefits from centuries of managed privilege.

So what does this mean?

  • Too many people want to attribute their success to their skill, their brainpower, their network of friends and teachers.
  • Yes, all of these things can contribute to opportunity but the numbers bear this out: Where you start in your life directly affects where you end up.
  • Statistically, most people do not experience much upward mobility in their lives. This is more true today than it has ever been in most of history.

According to Chetty, “Social mobility is low and has been for at least thirty or forty years.” This is most obvious when you look at the prospects of the poor. Seventy per cent of people born into the bottom quintile of income distribution never make it into the middle class, and fewer than ten per cent get into the top quintile. Forty per cent are still poor as adults. What the political scientist Michael Harrington wrote back in 1962 is still true: most people who are poor are poor because “they made the mistake of being born to the wrong parents.” The middle class isn’t all that mobile, either: only twenty per cent of people born into the middle quintile ever make it into the top one. And although we think of U.S. society as archetypally open, mobility here is lower than in most European countries. “The Mobility Myth.” The New Yorker. N.p. Web. 3 Aug. 2015. <http://www.newyorker.com/magazin…>

The part which confuses people is the constant harping on the idea of merit, the illusion of being self-made, the reinforced concept of defying the odds and somehow making a win out of poor circumstances.

  • These things can happen. But if we are willing to be honest, there are forces which aid or hinder the development of every human being who is hoping for a better life.
  • Such systemic and systematic forces can play havoc with opportunity even if a person is fit, capable, trained, educated, motivated, driven and in the right place at the right time.
  • We don’t talk about those forces because we prefer the illusion of merit. We prefer the illusion of privilege and boot-strap uplifting tales of conquest. The truth is a little more disturbing.

Our societies are most often built upon the bones of those we push down to rise up. We stand upon the dead and cry victory.

  • And the richest and most well to do among us are often the most ruthless and monstrous of us all. Does this mean only the ruthless become fantastically wealthy?
  • No. But their merit is often built around using the most people, paying them the least, exploiting those who are least capable of defending themselves and calling it their natural right to wealth through effective application of social forces (e.g. capitalism). And luck (they tell you).

The problem here is simple. We are calling it luck when things work out in our favor. Luck has nothing to do with it.

Just what IS luck?

Let’s talk a bit about how we use luck in our language:

  • With (any) luck, we’ll be home before dark. (British English)
  • With a bit of luck, we’ll finish on time.So far I have had no luck with finding a job.
  • I could hardly believe my luck when he said yes.
  • It was a stroke of luck that we found you.
  • By sheer luck nobody was hurt in the explosion.

Oxford’s English dictionary defines luck:

  1. good things that happen to you by chance, not because of your own efforts or abilities chance;
  2. the force that causes good or bad things to happen to people
  3. synonym: fortuneto have good/bad luck – I put the loss of the money down to pure bad luck.
  4. see also:beginner’s luck

This means luck is something that happens to us (good or bad) and it is out of our personal control or ability to affect the outcome.

Here is the disconnect for me: I read most of the answers hear and I find them filled with the standard viewpoints of luck and opportunity being made from a combination of hard work and preparation.

With no disrespect to Seneca, I am going to call a humbug on this statement at the fundamental level, because while this makes for good sound bites and fortune cookies, it fails to address just how random the universe is and how much of our luck comes from who we are, where we’re born and whom we are born from.

The journalist, Thom Hartmann calls it: The Lucky Sperm Club – those individuals who are born to wealth, affluence, influence and opportunity by virtue of being born to the right family at the right time. See: Paris Hilton

Before you get to talk about how much work you’ve done to get “lucky” you have to acknowledge your first break. Who your parents were…

  • Were you born White?
  • Were you born a male or a female?
  • Were you born to a family who wanted you?
  • Were you born to a family who could take care of you economically?
  • Are you heterosexual?
  • Were you born in a modern country with at least an industrial age economy?
  • Were you born in the United States or Europe?

If you can answer four out of six of these in the affirmative, then you were born fabulously lucky in our modern age, particularly in the United States.

Being a White, cisgendered male means you have, statistically speaking:

  • the best education money can buy, more often than not. And if you don’t, there are few systemic, systematic social forces keeping you from achieving your educational goals.
  • the lowest unemployment rate, and the highest standard of living. Most Americans don’t come close to your median standard of living.
  • You are the most economically advantaged member of most modern societies where being White and having access to (whether you use it or not, recognize it or not, accept it or not) White privilege gives you an advantage over anyone who is not.
  • The advantage of being born in the United States is not to be underestimated. Despite its recent governmental policy issues and failure to plan for the future, it is still better than being born in a repressive government like North Korea, any government in turmoil such as the Middle East, economically depressed nations such as Russia or some parts of Europe, nations struggling to pull their act together such as parts of continental Africa and South America.

Let’s break this out a little further. You will find you are not just lucky but fabulously lucky.

  • Did you wake up to a house?
  • Did you wake up to electricity?
  • Did you wake up to running water?
  • Did you wake up with a refrigerator stocked with food?
  • Does your house have food stored within, so you might not have to go to the store for a week?

Then you were fabulously lucky.

  • Half a million people in the United States alone are homeless or nearly so. This means they have no access to food except through limited charitable donations.

On a single night in January 2014, 578,424 people were experiencing homelessness—meaning they were sleeping outside or in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program.

  • From 2013 to 2014, a period of ongoing recovery from the Great Recession, overall homelessness decreased by 2.3 percent and homelessness decreased among every major subpopulation: unsheltered persons (10 percent), families (2.7 percent), chronically homeless individuals (2.5 percent), and veterans (10.5 percent).
  • Despite improvements in employment, the number of people in poverty (4.8 million) and the poverty rate (15.8 percent) remained relatively steady. 26 states saw an increase in the number of people in poverty; 25 saw a decrease. The State of Homelessness in America 2015
  • Electricity in the First World is almost a given, except for those places which have poor infrastructure development.
  • Electricity adds light to your day giving you better options for use of your time, better options for education, better options for entertainment, and opportunities for a richer family life.
  • Food insecurity is a major issue all around the world: The latest FAO estimates indicate that global hunger reduction continues: about 795 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished in 2012–14, down more than 100 million over the last decade, and 209 million lower than in 1990–92. While it is getting better slowly, there are still far too many people going without food for days at a time.
  • A billion people on Earth suffer from water insecurity: meaning they must travel 2 to 10 miles to get water each day, and/or their water is unsafe to drink, causing or spreading disease, or simply unavailable at all due to recent variations in climate.

10 Ways Clean Water can Change the World

Employment, educational access, and the technological sophistication of your nation may also play a great deal into the opportunities a person may have in their future. Work, the ability to get work, be educated for work, and having the opportunity to work and earn money for yourself is also another event which despite your efforts, you may have no control over how or if you can work.

  1. Nearly half the world’s population, 2.8 billion people, survive on less than $2 a day.
  2. About 20 percent of the world’s population, 1.2 billion people, live on less than $1 a day.
  • Since you asked this question you had access to a computer. Was it your own?
  • Do you own a car?
  • Do you have a job?
  • Do you, in this current work climate in the United States, have a job which affords you the capacity to live without a second job?
  • Having access to viable working technology is by no means a guarantee. Depending on where you live on Earth, you could have a powerful computer but no network to plug it into, the United States in the Mid-West is a perfect example.
  • Local governments are being forced to establish their own internet connections because large corporations can’t be bothered to wire towns or small cities there.

A Map of Who’s Got the Best (And Worst) Internet Connections in America

If you are located in Asia, you would be glad to know that’s where the fastest Internet speeds are. Based on Web services provider Akamai Technologies’ latest report, Hong Kong comes in first at an average peak Internet speed of 65.4Mbps, followed closely by South Korea at 63.6Mbps, Japan at 52Mbps, and Singapore at 50.1Mbps.

The top four countries have average peak speeds of at least three times the global average of 17.0Mbps. Other countries that made the top 10 list include Israel, Taiwan, and Belgium. The U.S. and Britain ranked 13th and 16th place, respectively, with average peak speeds at almost half that of Hong Kong. –Reference: xcluesiv.com

  • Other nations don’t have the infrastructure to establish useful internet connections at all, barely have modern computerize technology and depend entirely upon the mobile telephone network and infrastructure.
  • Many of the nations of Africa, as well as parts of India and China are still developing their localized technological infrastructure but they are still years behind more sophisticated nations such as Singapore or Japan.

No matter what your humble beginnings, you can depend on:

  • Persistence – nothing beats sheer determination for a driver of success. You don’t quit. You never quit. You get up earlier, you stay up later. Persistence is the engine of success. Without it, your first defeat is your last. Fall down, get up. Repeat as needed until successful.
  • Focus – The ability to concentrate. Our society’s recent infatuation with social media has had a major affect on our ability to focus, but you can train your ability to concentrate on a single task by working with a clock/timer and reducing distractions while you work. Refuse to multitask, it has been refuted as a means of improving focus. Getting done is the most effective focus booster of all.
  • Attention to Detail – Look around the room you’re in. Absorb as many details as you can. Without looking up again, write them down on a piece of paper as best you can remember. Include time on clocks, clothes of the people around you, eye color of the person you’re sitting with, absorb everything you can. Practice this ability until you can see and understand everything around you. This is a difficult ability to learn, but over time, it will stand you in good stead, as you become used to tracking information you’ll discover your mind’s ability to bring this attention to whatever you’re working on as well.
  • Plan and Measure – That which is measured, gets done. Track your work, track your successes and your failure. Keep a log of who you interact with, what your experimentations results were, how long you have been engaged in a project. Measurement of your results, good or bad, will help you understand what possible steps could be used to reach your goal. Planning is nothing without measurement of the results. Make a plan, measure what it took to be successful.
  • Mobility – If you live in a part of the country or the world that will not allow you to aspire to your dreams, MOVE; you are not a tree. If you want to be a great public speaker but your country does not allow women to engage in public speech, do what it takes to move somewhere you CAN. Life is too short to allow outdated norms to keep you from pursuing those things that mean something to you.
  • Critical Analysis – One of the hardest things you will ever do. Learning to critically think and address a subject, a concept, a discussion, is rarely taught in school these days. If you find someplace offering Critical Thinking or Rhetoric or even Debate, take it. This skill has no equal in cutting through a world filled with lies, deceits, misconceptions and fallacies. If you cannot learn to see past these obfuscations, nothing you do will amount to much. You’ll spend the bulk of your energies empowering someone else’s dreams.

The future of work is evolving with technology slowly displacing a greater number of people from the workforce every year. Between ever-increasing automation and the development of intelligent algorithms, being employed and having opportunities will continue to be a race to make the right choices based on the information you have at hand.

While we are quick to tell people: “You make your own luck” or “you need to pull yourself up by your bootstraps” it is easy to forget with the sense of entitlement so common to people born in nations whose foresight afford their citizens greater opportunities just by the merit of being born there, and the capability of seeing what the future might look like.

Where we were born, who we were born to, what opportunities they may have had will directly affect the quality of our choices. Do we underestimate the role of luck in our lives? No. It is likely to be the number one determinate of just how far we can go and it is completely out of our control.

However, having a clear vision of where your opportunities can lie, understanding the landscape of your choices, however limited they may be, not accepting conditions within your control or being willing to make the change means you can utilize what you have to get what you need.

Depending on luck will not get you where you need to go. It is by definition, not dependable or reliable. You are better served by recognizing what my military experience dubbed: The Five P’s – Prior Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance. The goal of the Five P’s is to enhance your ability to succeed by removing a reliance on luck in any way.

Luck should be a seasoning, not the meal.

Do we underestimate the role of luck in our lives?

Marcus’s Rules Of Order For Himself (Which He Invites You To Follow)

Post by Marcus Geduld:

I, Marcus Geduld, swear to abide by the following rules to the best of my ability, because I believe they lead to civil, intelligent discussion in which the goal is to seek truth rather than to win points, mock, humiliate, or dominate—all of which I consider to be ignoble wastes of time. Please watch me for hypocrisy. If you catch me violating a rule, tell me. E.g. “You just violated rule number three!”

I will violate these rules at times—maybe often, maybe every day. They are ideals. I must read through them at least once a month, to make sure I keep them in mind.

1. I must never engage in ad hominem attacks.

Ad hominems attacks attack a person instead of his claims.

It’s pretty easy to understand that “You’re an asshole!” doesn’t add anything to an argument except bile, but most ad hominem attacks are subtler than that. They piggyback on legitimate points.


“Don’t be an idiot! In a democracy, everyone gets the right to vote!”

“What you obviously don’t understand is that History is not a science!”

“For the fifteenth time, not all forms of punishment are equally bad!” (It’s a little hard to spot the personal attack in this example. “For the fifteenth time” implies “You are too stupid to understand me, even though I’ve made my point repeatedly!”)

These combo statements are bad because they send a mixed message. By refuting logic alone, you are saying, “I want to have a rational discussion with you.” When you add some form of “You idiot” you’re saying, “I want to humiliate you.” Stealth (slipping the insult in with the valid point) strengthens your play for dominance. If your target only responds to the logic, he’s allowing you to insult him; if he only responds to the insult, he’s derailed from a rational discussion. If he responds to both at once, he muddies his reply.

Note that insulting someone’s content generally has the same effect as insulting him. “That’s a really stupid remark” may not literally mean “a remark made by a stupid person,” since smart people can say stupid things, but it’s generally received that way, so it risks drowning a serious conversation in a sea of defensiveness. The key to success (if your goals is to to rigorously critique ideas without making personal remarks) is to only point out flaw in logic, facts, and argumentation. “That’s stupid” isn’t a flaw; it’s a value judgement. It adds nothing except tone.

When I’ve discussed this topic with friends, they’ve often rejected my idea that “That’s a stupid idea” is an insult, but if I allow myself to make such remarks, I give myself an insult loophole. I can imply that anyone is any insulting thing by simply dissing his output rather than his person:

“You’re a racist.” –> “You just made a racist remark.” “You’re a dimwit.” –> “That was a dimwitted thing to day.” “You’re obviously a troll.” –> “You’re behaving like a troll.”

If, for instance, someone claims that black people are less intelligent than white people, I must respond by disagreeing with his claim and explaining why I disagree. I can cite evidence to the contrary, demand he prove his claim, and zero in on flaws in his argument. I can do all of that as rigorously as I want, without holding back. What I can’t do is say, “You’re a racist,” “That’s racist,” or “You’re behaving like a racist right now.”

2. I must never give as good as I get.

This is the hardest rule for most people to follow, and many disagree that it even should be a rule. But if I care about promoting real discussion and ridding the world (as much as possible) of chest-beating shouting matches, I’ll swallow my pride and take the high road. If someone calls me an asshole, he is violating rule 1. And if I call him an asshole back, I am violating it, too. As Mom said, “Two wrongs don’t make a right.”

When insulted, I have two honorable options: (1) ignore the insult and just respond to the debate points—if there are any. Or (2) opt to leave the debate. When choosing the latter option, I’m allowed explain why without insulting the insulter. I can say, “I’m sorry, but I don’t participate in debates that include personal attacks.”

After I leave, the insulter will almost always claim victory. I need to live with that. To him, the whole point of debate is for one person to win and the other to lose. I must remember that my goals are to seek truth, to explain my position, and to learn. We’re not playing the same game. It’s okay for him win his game; it’s not my game.

Optional: I can issue a warning without leaving. It’s fine to leave after the first insult, but sometimes I find it worth haning in there a little longer, making it clear that I’ll leave if the insults continue. People are imperfect; they get defensive despite their best intentions to keep calm. (It happens to me!) Sometimes an insult will slip out. If I feel I am up to it, I can give the insulter a chance to apologize, and I can accept his apologies with grace. If, after that, he insult me a second time, I should opt out.

I’ve found that some people simply lock into a framework in which their default is to insult, especially on the web, where they’ve so often been insulted. Sometimes a gentle reminder shifts them out of that mode.

3. I must never dismiss a claim with “You can take anything to extremes…” and I must never refused to discuss hypothetical situations.

When someone says, “If we take your logic to extremes, we wind up with Nazi Germany,” there are three meaningful responses:

i. “You’re wrong. If you take my logic to extremes, you actually wind up with X,” X being something other than Nazi Germany. If I respond this way, I should follow up by explaining why we’d wind up with X instead of Nazi Germany.

ii. “You’re right. You’ve made me realize that I need to qualify my argument. I don’t dismiss it. It’s still a valid claim undermany circumstances, but I can see now that it’s problematic when…”

iii. “You’re right. I didn’t fully considered the ramifications of my argument.”

I will try my hardest to play along with proposed hypotheticals, rathern than simply dismissing them because they’re not real. If they seem flawed, I will try to help correct them.

Example of what not to do:

SOMEONE: What if you had to sacrifice one of your children? What then? ME: I don’t have any children, so it doesn’t apply.

Example of what to do:

SOMEONE: What if you had to sacrifice one of your children? What then?

ME: I don’t have any children, but if I did …

Another example of what to do:

SOMEONE: What if you had to sacrifice one of your children? What then.

ME: I don’t have any children, and I can’t imagine having them. But I have two dogs that I dearly love. I think we can explore your point by imagining I had to sacrifice one of them…

4. When conceding a point, I must always do so fully and openly.

I am forbidden from mixing concessions with changing the subject.

Example of the wrong way to do it:

ME: The problem with our educational system, is that it forces kids to do things they hate, and forcing people is wrong.

SOMEONE: So you think it’s wrong to stop kids from playing in traffic?

ME: Okay, not that, but my point is…

Whoa! “But the point is” is changing the subject. What I should have said is…

ME: You know, you’re right. I said you should never force kids to do anything, but now that you bring up the dangers of playing in traffic, I realize that I didn’t really think things through. You’re right about that. (Pause.) Okay, let me try to rephrase what I believe. You have a point, but I don’t think my argument is completely wrong. I just need to refine it. You see…

I am also forbidden to simply switch, without comment, to a second argumnet when my opponent has toppled the first.

What I can’t do:

ME (arguing that kids shouldn’t be given homework): No one ever learned anything from homework.

SOMEONE: That’s not true. I learned Algebra almost entirely from homework. I never paid attention in class, and no one helped me. But I worked through every assignment, and was able to pass the test.

ME: The thing is, schools hold kids captive all day. It’s unfair for them to also make demands on the nighttime.

Instead of just plowing on, I should have responded to SOMEONE’s objection. Before continuing, I should have either conceided his point or explained why it was wrong.

This boils done to not entering a discussion with the goal of winning no matter what. I must, at all times, be open to being wrong in part or whole. I should not simply keep vollying with arguments until one of them hits the target, ignoring all that fail.

5. I must either stay in a discussion or bow out gracefully.

It’s never someone else’s fault that I’m leaving. I will never leave by saying something like, “Since you can’t discuss this rationally, I’m done!” No parting digs.

It’s okay to say, “I have a policy against taking part in flame wars, but it’s also hard for me to resist insulting you the way you’re insulting me. So rather than violating my principles, I’m going to leave.” It’s also perfectly fine to say, “You know. I’m tired, and I just don’t feel like discussing this any more.”

I must separate my leave-taking remark from my argumentation. It’s never okay to use a good-bye to get in one last dig, e.g. “I don’t have all day to hang out here and argue with you.” (Which implies that you are petty, while I am a busy, important person with real responsibilities. It’s an underhanded way of saying, “Get a life!”)

6. I must never assume intent or mindset.

I may not say say, “You clearly think you’re always right” unless the person I’m talking to has said, “I am always right.”

I will never begins a sentence with “People like you always say…” It’s fine, acceptable, and good to ask questions about mindset. “You say you’re a Republican? The republicans I know want lower taxes. Do you want lower taxes?”

I will never use an indvidual person as a proxy for some group. I may not assume a self-proclaimed republican is anti gay marriage unless he has said he’s anti gay marraige. (Of course, I can ask him if he is!) There’s no such thing for me as “You people” or “people like you.”

Each time I’m tempted to say, “You think…,” “You’ve claimed…,” or “You clearly believe…,” I will pause, take a deep breath, and ask myself, “Did he actually make that claim or implication? When?” When in doubt, I’m best of asking a question: “Do you believe…?”

7. I must never use sarcasm as a weapon.

“You’re quite right. No one should ever have to go to school! If no one went to school, we’d be living in a paradise!”

If my (passive-aggressive) point is “you’re really stupid,” then I’m engaging in an ad hominem attack. (See Rule 1.) If my point is “School is a good thing,” then I need to make that claim and support it.

8. I must never resort to bad behavior when all else has failed.

“You know what? I tried reasoning with you. I explained myself to you really clearly. In fact, I explain myself four TIMES. You refuse to listen. You know what? At this point … fuck you!”

I must either stay in the discussion and keep explaining myself clearly or opt out gracefully. (See Rule 5.)

9. I must never say, “You’re missing my point…”

Or “You misunderstood me,” “You’re still not hearing me,” “You don’t get it,” or any variation of those phrases.

No matter how clear I think I’m being, if the other person isn’t responding as if he understands, there are two possibilities: either he’s not thinking clearly or I’m not speaking clearly. (It could also be a combination of the two.)

I am never the best judge of whether or not I’m speaking clearly. No one is objective enough to judge his own speech that way, which is why writers need editors.

“You’re missing the point” is gratuitous information. If I’m debating Creationism, I should debate that. I shouldn’t waste time discussing whether or not someone is missing my point. That’s off-topic from my subject.

If it seems as if the person I’m talking to is missing my point, I should explain it again, switch to a different point, ask questions to see if I can figure out the cause of the confusion, or opt out. (See Rule 5.)

I get bonus points if instead of saying “You’re missing my point,” I say, “Sorry. I was unclear. How about we look at it this way…?” A little humility goes a long way. And even if I’m wrong, and it’s the other guy’s “fault,” I stand to learn more by taking responsibility than by fobbing it off on him.

10. If I’m frustrated and need to vent, I must do so without accusations.

I can vent elsewhere, or I can stay and discuss my feelings without blaming anyone for them (even if it’s “his fault”). When I start placing blame, my goal has changed from truth-seeking to something else—maybe to “righting a wrong” or criticizing. Sometimes that’s inevitable. But then I should be fair and make my game-change clear: “You know, I need to stop for a minute. I can’t go on discussing the Middle East crisis right now, because I’m hurt by what you said…”

I’m allowed to say, “I’m really frustrated right now.” I’m not allowed to engage in any of the bad behavior (ad hominem attacks, sarcasm…) outlined in these rules.

11. I will never nitpick at someone’s minor points.

If someone says, “You think the Internet is perfect? That’s what people said in the 1920s about the Titanic,” it derails the discussion for me to respond, “The Titanic sank in 1912!” His point was about hubris, and the minor didn’t affect his argument. My goal is to understand his key claims—and maybe to agree or disagree with them—not to win gotcha points.

(Later, when it won’t derail the conversation, it’s okay for me to say, “Oh. Just a note. The Titanic sank in 1912.” Conversational ninjas can even say this immediately, as long as they phrase it like similarly to this, “Well, the Titanic sank in 1912, but I take your point that…” I’m just a mortal, so I should probably stick to “later.”)

12. When (not if) I violate any of these rules, I must apologize.

It’s hard to argue fairly. Even if I start with the honest goal of seeking truth, someone will inevitably push my buttons (or I’ll push my own buttons), and I’ll explode. Unwittingly, my goal will switch from truth-seeking to winning. This is natural. It happens to everyone. I must have the humility to accept the fact that it will happen to me. When it happens, I must apologize.

If apologizing is deeply painful or irritating—so much so that I can’t bring myself to do it—then I must at least admit that I’ve quit seeking the truth: that I’ve changed the game and am now playing by new rules. My points are now about my ego. That’s not a horrible sin. It means I’m human.

Sometimes humans have to withdraw and lick their wounds. It’s honorable to take a break—even a permanent one—if I must.

If I choose to continue, I must say “You know, I just realized I insulted you …” (or whatever I did.) ” … I’m sorry. That was wrong of me.” I must pause after doing that, making sure to never combine an apology with a change of subject, or it will sound like I’m fleeing from the apology. I should never say, “I’m sorry I attacked you, but my point is…” Instead, I should take a deep breath, find some humility, look the other person in the eye, and say, “I was wrong.” Full Stop. Then let him speak. After he’s had a turn to respond, I am free to continue making my argument.

13. When asked a question, I must respond in one of three ways.

i. If I don’t know the answer, I must say, “I don’t know.”

ii. If I know the answer, I must give it.

iii. Unless answering makes me uncomfortable or puts me in peril (e.g. I’d lose my job if I answered), in which case I may politely opt out by saying, “Sorry, but I’d prefer not to answer.”

Asking questions (seeking knowledge) and providing answers (teaching) are two of the noblest and most important human activities. Though there are cases where I can opt out of answering, in general I should respond to questions with the best answers I can give.

By choosing to participate in a conversation, I signal my willingness to answer. If I’m not willing to answer questions any more, I need to leave. Staying but refusing to answer is never an option.

14. I must never hedge my bets, predicting the listener won’t agree or pay attention to me.

“There’s probably no point in me saying this, but…”

If I know in advance that he’ll refuse to agree or listen, there’s no point in me joining the discussion, so I should simply refuse to participate. If I do so anyway, even though I’m sure he won’t take me seriously, my motives are suspect. Maybe I’m trying to humiliate him by showing bystanders that he’s stubborn. (And by stacking the deck with “I know you’re not going to agree with this, but…”) If my aim is to prove he’s is foolish, then I must make that goal clear.

An example of what I mustn’t do: “Here’s a link to a scientific paper about the subject, which I’m sure you won’t bother to read.”

That may be a passive-aggressive attempt to shame my target into reading the article. It is, at heart, an ad hominem remark. “You won’t read it” is about the person, not the subject we’re discussing. I’m not allowed to be passive-aggressive.

In the end, all I can honorably do is present evidence. Others have the right to ignore it, whether I like that or not. I can always leave the discussion.

15. If it’s the case, I must admit that my “evidence” is “just a hunch.”

If it’s “an educated guess,” “just the way it is,” or “come on! Everyone knows it’s true,” I will not pretend it’s an objective, provable fact.

I don’t have to prefix all my opinions with “This is just my opinion,” especially if that’s clear from context, but I should be overt about it when there’s a risk of confusion, and, if questioned, I should certainly admit that I have no evidence aside from “being sure.”

Everyone has values or axioms, and I am allowed to have mine. I just need to make them explicit and never pretend they are supported by facts.

I am never allowed to masquerade my values with phrases like, “Surely, all people are good,” or “As we all know, education is important.”

16. I must not annotate.

I must avoid replying to (generally) written arguments (e.g. web-forum posts) that are riddled with errors by creating an annotated response, in which I quote from the text, explain an error, quote some more, explain an error in that bit, quote some more, explain another error, and so on.

Here’s an example of what I shouldn’t do:

“Blah blah blah blah blah.”

— The problem with blah is that blah and blah, and so blah blah, and blah. And you’re also wrong when you say blah, because blah, blah and blah.

“Foo foo foo foo foo foo.”

— Here, I don’t know what you mean by foo, because you haven’t defined foo-foo, and so foo can’t mean what you think it means.

“Fah fah fah fah fah.”

— I can’t believe you’re even bringing up fah, especially since, above, you said, “blah blah blah blah blah…”

The problem with annotated responses is that they almost never work (to promote truth-seeking discussions). They contain too much information and probably come across as an avalanche of nit-picking. Their narrow focus tends to draw attention away from the target’s main points. Annotated Responses are usually a way of proving to onlookers that the target is stupid. “Look how many mistakes he’s made!” Even if that’s not the intent, the target will probably assume it is.

He may respond by annotating my annotations, and before long our exchange will become a tangled, threaded nightmare. Inevitably, this conversational structure gets too heavy and topples over, ending with someone saying, “I don’t have all day to argue with you.” Neither party is any wiser, and both are exhausted.

The trick is to stop trying to fight all battles at once. If the target has made 30 errors, I should either focus on one or two that interest me or try to uncover some common theme—some lower-level foundation or higher-level abstraction—that allows me to respond in a gestalt-ish way, rather than in a point-by-point exegesis.

17. I must never employ left-handed or manipulative compliments.

“Surely someone as smart as you…”

Here are some more versions of it:

“You are obviously very smart, so I’m sure you’ll agree that …” (The implication is that if you don’t agree, then you must not be so smart, after all.)

“Since you’re such a perceptive guy, I’m sure you already know that…”

“I’m positive you’re joking, because someone as clever as you couldn’t possibly believe…”

“With all your experience, I’m know you’ll agree with me that…”

18. I must never be a Sneaky Politician.

When discussing a topic, I must either feel secure that I have no agenda—that I am genuinely ready to be swayed by the other person’s logic—or, if I have a bias, I must admit that upfront (or as soon as I become aware of it). I must not hide my bias.

The Sneaky Politician (or evangelist) wants to promote some point of view. Which would be fine if he disclosed it. The truth is, there are a various levels of bias. Fred might be unsure about his feelings towards “Star Trek”; Mary might have a distaste for it, but feel open to being convinced it’s actually a good show; Bill might hate it and want to prove to everyone that it’s terrible. Those are all acceptable stances, as long as they’re made clear.

Conversational problems arise when Bill pretends to be open minded but isn’t: when he hides his politicking. Thankfully, there’s almost always a giveaway.

Bill: “Star Trek” had the most absurd plots of any show in the history of television!

Kelly: Really, you think it had sillier plots than “Lost in Space”?

Bill: They are both silly shows. Anyway, the acting on “Star Trek” was terrible!

When Kelly objects in a way that thwarts Bill, he doesn’t say, “That’s a good point. I’ll have to think about it.” Instead, he just pushes her point aside and gives another reason why “Star Trek” sucks.

This is a sign that he’s not interested in an exchange of ideas. He’s only interested in promoting his view. Which, again, is okay, as long as he’s upfront about it. Unfortunately, Bill is unwilling to say, “I have come here to convince people ‘Star Trek’ is a bad show. I have a bunch of evidence, and my goal here is to present it. I am not really interested in counter arguments, though I’ll be happy to topple any that I can. If I can’t topple one, I’ll ignore it.”

I must never act like Bill.

See Rule 4. If I concede a point, I must always fully and openly concede it. I am never allowed to mix conceding a point with changing the subject.

Miscellanious Notes and Tips

Sarcastic and Biting Phrases I’m Forbidden from Using:

“Ever wonder why …?” (As in “Ever wonder why every one of your posts ends in an argument?”)

“Hate to break it to you, but…”

“Had you given two seconds of thought to what you just wrote, you’d have realized…”

I wasn’t the one who brought up…”

“Sorry, guys, but I’m done with this one.”

“Oh, come on!”

“Um ….” (When used to imply that the target has just said something stupid or weird, as in “Um … cats are felines, not canines.”)

Unless the discussion is about definitions (and everyone agrees that’s what it’s about), it’s underhanded (or, at best, confused) to dwell on them.

Bill: I’m a Catholic, but I don’t accept the Pope’s as my spiritual leader.

Mike: Then you’re not Catholic.

Bill: I’m not a traditional Catholic, but I take most of Catholic doctrine seriously, and …

Mike: No, you’re not a Catholic.

Bill: Okay. You can call me whatever you want. My point is that I’m a person who goes to mass, confession, and …

Mike: That’s not enough. You’re not a Catholic unless …

See Disputing Definitions.

How could DC/Marvel fans keep up with nearly 80 years of their comic history?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Only the dedicated (and wealthy) superfans try.

Stately Wayne manor which has an extensive Marvel Comics wing…

Unless you are sitting on top of a very large trust fund, are the CEO of a megacorporation and have enough money to simply burn it as kindling, and have nothing else to do with your time for the next 45 years or so, you will likely never have the time, money or capacity to sit and absorb everything Marvel has had to offer since it first started making comics. Everyone else picks up what they can, when they can, following the stories that interest them most.

Timely's first publication, Marvel Comics #1 (cover dated Oct. 1939), included the first appearance of Carl Burgos' android superhero the Human Torch, and the first appearances of Bill Everett's anti-hero Namor the Sub-Mariner, among other features.

Marvel started in 1939 as Timely Publications, and by the early 1950s had generally become known as Atlas Comics. Marvel's modern incarnation dates from 1961, the year that the company launched The Fantastic Four and other superhero titles created by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko and many others.

As I wrote in a previous Quora piece: How can I know everything about DC Comics? I point out the near impossibility of any individual keeping up with every single story, every single character, ever supporting character, event, catastrophe, supervillain that took place across the seventy or so years of the existence of Marvel comics and its associated publications.

In recent years (let's say since the original Secret Wars and DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths circa 1986) Marvel has made money by cross-pollinating books with multiple heroes, divergent stories, parallel universes, multiversal collapses and any number of ways to bring heroes who may have never shared pages, to suddenly have connections they didn't before.

Even if you read a single hero with zeal and gusto, if you wanted every appearance of that hero, you would sooner or later need to purchase books outside of your preference.

I am a huge comic fan, been following them hard for thirty five years, had the blessed opportunity to read Golden Age comics because my neighbor was a collector. Having read tens of thousands of comics and being fortunate enough to have a huge mental comic hard drive, am able to track a variety of the most significant stories in the DC and Marvel archives.

And even with all of that working in my favor, I can safely say, I have forgotten more about comics than I currently know. It's simply impossible to keep up with every aspect, every nuance of each complexly written character over thousands of issues. One of my favorite heroes, whom I have watched pretty much from his beginning has a history that would make the average soap opera blanch from jealousy…

Spider-Man has been:

  • a wrestler, a photographer, a home-schooled super-scientist,
  • in love, out of love, watched his love interest die at the hands of his enemy,
  • discovered his best friend's father has tried to kill him.
  • cloned, mutated to have eight limbs
  • then discovered his best friend has now become his worst enemy,
  • found a symbiotic costume that he loved and it loved him, until he discovered it was trying to BE him and then they broke up violently,
  • which then took over his friend and made him an enemy,
  • He hung out with his previously made clones and makes friends with most of them.
  • meanwhile he discovers his radioactive powers may have been a blessing of a previously unknown spider deity and he was being hunted by a creature named Morlun who was immune to his spider-sense and had the power to kill him,
  • but he escapes and married his true love only to have his marriage undone by a magical demon,
  • where he is believed to have been psychically killed and replaced by his arch-enemy Otto Octavius who pretends to be him for a number of years, screwing up his life
  • to ultimately having, traveled to parallel worlds finding out he's died in more than one of them, finding his long lost girlfriend had gained spiderpowers and is now more interesting than he is,
  • and then we as readers discover, Peter Parker may be replaced by a Spider-Man from the Ultimates Universe, named Miles Morales. Geez, see what I mean about soap operas?

And these are only some of the highlights in Spider-Man's very long career spanning at least half a dozen different comic series he appeared in: The Amazing Spider-Man, Peter Parker, The Spectacular Spider-Man, The Amazing Spider-Man, and The Sensational Spider-Man, just to name a few.

Now multiply this by the 5000+ heroes, villains and supporting casts of the Marvel Universe and you can see why no one could seriously entertain a complete knowledge of every character who has ever appeared in a Marvel comic.

If you don't know who Miles Morales is, you better get caught up because he is going to be a part of the new Marvel Universe and a member of the newest team of Avengers. Here's an absolutely wonderfully written primer on the newest Spiderman:


How could DC/Marvel fans keep up with nearly 80 years of their comic history?

Is it hypothetically possible to make a sun go nova or supernova?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Yes. Throw another star at it.

Eta Carinae Supernova

No, I was not being facetious. The scale we are talking about when you are dealing with stars is huge. Almost too large to wrap one's mind around unless you are an astronomer or some other form of science/cosmology type. Watch this video on stars and their sizes first, just so you can get some idea, however limited, of just how large stars can be.


The Physics of Stars

Now that you have seen how large stars can be, understand that making one go supernova is very challenging because it isn't just size you have to contend with, its mass. This is a very simplified explanation of how stars function, so we can get on with trying to blow them up.

A Hertzsprung-Russell diagram showing the types of stars, their sizes, their relative distribution in the universe, their type and designation and their temperature, from lowest in the right corner to highest in the upper left. Blue and blue white stars are the hottest and red stars are the coolest.

The stars which appear above the middle band are stars with greater sizes, and are called giants or super-giants. They usually have greater masses than stars in or below the central band. Stars below it are usually classified as dwarf stars.

It is the high mass stars above the central band we are interested in looking at because they're the most likely candidates for becoming supernovas.

A supernova is a stellar explosion that briefly outshines an entire galaxy, radiating as much energy as the Sun or any ordinary star is expected to emit over its entire life span, before fading from view over several weeks or months. The extremely luminous burst of radiation expels much or all of a star's material at a velocity of up to 30,000 km/s (10% of the speed of light), driving a shock wave into the surrounding interstellar medium. This shock wave sweeps up an expanding shell of gas and dust called a supernova remnant. Supernovae are potentially strong galactic sources of gravitational waves. A great proportion of primary cosmic rays comes from supernovae.

Not every star will go supernova. Only a certain type of star, one whose mass is equal to four or more of our relatively puny and stable star.

When you have a star with the right mass and it is at the right age, you can sit back and watch the show as the stars nuclear engine sputters and dies explosively.

To keep this simple, a star is a giant fusion reactor. Matter is being compressed in the center turning it from hydrogen to helium, with the byproduct of said fusion becoming an explosion of radioactive energy.

Think of a star as a never-ending party of nuclear explosions.

But a star is also a collection of matter. The more matter you pack into a place, the denser it becomes. Hydrogen is a gas, the lightest in the universe, but if pack enough of it in one place, it will begin to have a gravitational effect, and it is the pressure of said gravity pressing all of those hydrogen atoms down which causes the fusion eruption of energy.

Stars are a like a passengers on a Japanese supertrain. Squeezing as many atoms as they can into a very finite space.

It is the interaction of these two forces, the squeezing of atoms and the explosion of fusion which makes the beautiful round shapes of stars. When these forces are in equilibrium, a star is born and will burn as long as there is fuel to convert into energy.

This is a very simplified explanation. I am certain some cosmologist or physicist is having a seizure right now. Please don't flame me…

The problem comes when stars are super-massive. The more massive a star, the faster it converts its fuel. Stars which are super-large and super-massive often glow incredibly brightly and like a V-8 engine use up fuel like its free.

Red stars are slow burners, living for billions of years because they use of their fuel so slowly. Blue-White supergiant stars due to their immense mass may live brief lives as short as 500 million years (for a star, this is the equivalent of living fast, dying young and leaving a messy corpse).

A large blue-giant is likely a candidate for supernova martyrdom. It is from first generation stars like these that second generation stars like our sun are formed. We exist because of first generation stars that go out like this.

Now remember when I said a star exists because of two forces, the explosion which keeps the star glowing and the compression of gravity which keeps the star's gases in one place.

A supernova occurs when a star starts running out of fuel to convert into the next element on the periodic table. Hydrogen becomes Helium, Helium becomes Lithium, and each conversion of elements costs more energy and is less effective. This means the stars output begins to diminish and the crushing forces of gravity become more crushing. Which then causes the star to work harder to convert fuels, which makes the star run out of fuel faster.

A negative feedback loop is now in progress.

When the star can no longer easily convert its remaining fuels and produce energy, the end is near. The crushing gravity is slowly overwhelming the energy output.

Supernovae can be triggered in one of two ways: by the sudden re-ignition of nuclear fusion in a degenerate star; or by the gravitational collapse of the core of a massive star. In the first case, a degenerate white dwarf may accumulate sufficient material from a companion, either through accretion or via a merger, to raise its core temperature, ignite carbon fusion, and trigger runaway nuclear fusion, completely disrupting the star. In the second case, the core of a massive star may undergo sudden gravitational collapse, releasing gravitational potential energy that can create a supernova explosion.

There comes the day when the star is no longer able to convert energy and it collapses, all of its mass into a single space. However this compression of matter restarts the fusion process one more time in an event called runaway nuclear fusion.

This time sudden gravitational collapse can release this potential in a cataclysm of energy, thousands of times as great as anything the star may have done in its entire existence. Converting matter across the periodic table, indeed it is this explosion of energy, which is responsible for the heavier elements on the periodic table which make up life as we know it.

What we are as living beings, our chemical makeup, is the result of the violent supernova death of stars. Every element heavier than iron which is inside of us came from a star which died in an explosion whose energies are nearly immeasurable and able to be seen across vast distances.

A few were so bright they could be seen during the day!

The magnificent Crab Nebula, seen in 1054 on Earth and recorded by Chinese astronomers.

In 1913, when Vesto Slipher registered his spectroscopy study of the sky, the Crab nebula was again one of the first objects to be studied. In the early twentieth century, the analysis of early photographs of the nebula taken several years apart revealed that it was expanding. Tracing the expansion back revealed that the nebula must have become visible on Earth about 900 years ago. Historical records revealed that a new star bright enough to be seen in the daytime had been recorded in the same part of the sky by Chinese astronomers in 1054.

Supernova generate a variety of energies in different wavelengths, each giving information about the former star and its makeup.

Could you make a star explode artificially?

Having explained the physics of supernovas we can address the question. Would it be possible to artificially induce a star to supernova?

Here are my possible scenarios:

  1. Stars with masses greater than four or more solar masses have any shot at becoming a supernova. If I was able to move a smaller star and have it directed toward a star with the right mass, I could force the larger star into supernova by making its mass exceed its ability to fuse properly. This would probably only work on stars which were already nearing a point in their lifespan where they were already unstable anyway.
  2. Someone suggested a dumping a massive planetary gas giant into a star, but most gas giants, even the ones whose mass makes them almost able to become stars themselves are generally still not massive enough to make a difference in tipping a nearly nova-ready star into overdrive. You would need hundreds of said gas giants to do the deed.
  3. Or I could take a small star whose mass is right but for some reason has not quite made the leap to supernova and introduce it to another star whose mass is less and draw mass from the larger star to the smaller degenerate white dwarf and may accumulate sufficient material from a companion, either through accretion or via a merger, to raise its core temperature, ignite carbon fusion, and trigger runaway nuclear fusion, completely disrupting the star.

How about artificial supergravity?

  • If someone were able to increase the gravitation constant of the star, it might cause the star to burn its fuel faster and thus expediting the collapse of a suitably massive star.
  • This might be a viable alternative but the gravity required and the technology necessary to do this would be better served by pointing it at an enemy planet or approaching fleet and making them crash into each other or collapsing the tectonic plates of a geologically-active planet causing earthquakes, tidal waves and other forms of crust-related destruction.
  • If you could move stars or create significant artificial gravity enough to weaponize it, then you are probably capable of creating black holes in which case, people should have the good sense enough to stay on your species good side, assuming you have one.

As for Andromeda's Nova bomb or other forms of matter (or gravity manipulation) causing a star to go nova, we would have to be talking about really exotic forms of matter or energy, so different from anything we know today, they would fall into the realm of science fiction. Stargate's Zero-point energy as well as their interplanetary wormhole gate network certainly qualify.

https://youtu.be/wkifUbcD98ESupernova: Stellar Explosion – Science Documentary 2015 HD

Interactive: Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram Explorer – Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram – NAAP

Is it hypothetically possible to make a sun go nova or supernova?

Is Marvel’s Antman ripped off from DC’s Atom?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

There's more to it than just the publication date…

It would be so easy to just say, look at their publication dates and say Ant-Man is a ripoff of The Atom and be done with it. Rather we should look at the characters and see how each evolved considering how they began.

Both characters are born of the Silver Age, when the comic industry was struggling to reinvent itself. DC and Marvel were experiencing an explosion of new ideas and were trying to capitalize on what was becoming a renewed interest in superhero-related comics.

Both heroes were "science heroes." A class of heroes of that era, replacing the grim and gritty Westerns which saved the comic industry during their doldrums but now needed to fall by the wayside, allowing heroes who used science and technology to usher in a new age.

With the World's Fair coming to New York in 1964, these canny businessmen wanted to be take advantage of everyone's renewed interest in science. Note the number of scientifically based famous heroes from that same era.

Marvel Science Heroes and Villains

  • Fantastic Four, Reed Richards
  • Iron Man, Tony Stark,
  • Black Panther, Prince Tchalla,
  • The Hulk, Bruce Banner,
  • Spider-Man,  Peter Parker
  • Doctor Octopus, Otto Octavius
  • The Eternals – an entire race of scientific supermen

DC Science Heroes and Villains

  • Atom as Ray Palmer,
  • the Flash's police forensic scientist, Barry Allen,
  • Bruce Wayne's everyman's scientist Batman,
  • The Chief from the Doom Patrol,
  • Dr. Magnus from the Metal Men,
  • Lex Luthor, supergenius, businessman, criminal
  • Metron and the New Gods – another entire race of scientific supermen

There was an explosion of science, technology and ideas revolving around how science could change the world. Unfortunately, most of the writers of Marvel and DC were NOT scientists, so their science left much to be desired.

Of all the "science heroes" both Henry Pym (Ant-Man) and Ray Palmer (Atom) have had some of the longest running and most challenging careers of the science hero in their respective universes, partially because they were both brilliant and troubled individuals.

The Atom: Legacy hero of the Golden Age

A character called the Atom began his career in comics in the 1940s as a member of the Justice Society. This Atom, Al Pratt, had no powers other than his fighting prowess and take no prisoner's attitude in a fight. A "tough guy" he was a self-made man, trained to pugilistic excellence by retired boxer, Joe Morgan, the same man who would train another fighting "tough guy"known as Wildcat.  Pratt would at the end of his career briefly gain superhuman powers through a "radiation accident" fighting a villain named Cyclotron.

When the Golden Age ended, DC Comics decided they wanted a new Atom but not based on the ideas of the old one. They decided to try creating a superpower rarely seen in comics; shrinking.

The Silver Age Atom is a fictional superhero appearing in comic books published by DC Comics. Atom was created by editor and co-plotter Julius Schwartz, writer Gardner Fox and penciler Gil Kane. He was one of the first superheroes of the Silver Age of comic books and debuted in Showcase # 34 (Oct. 1961).

Enter Ray Palmer, physicist; he would explore the nature of a white dwarf star and its intense molecular density. He would create a technology that would let him reduce his molecular density while controlling his weight. He would have the ability to deliver a full strength, full mass punch while being at what would be his nominal size of about six inches tall. Against normal humans, this would have the force of a bullet.

The fun started when the writers decided there could be adventures to be had if the Atom could shrink even further. What if he could shrink to the size of a insect, a dust particle, a cell, or dare we say it — an atom. He would do all of these things and more.

His signature means of getting around was making a prosaic phone call but then shrinking to an atomic size and riding the electron connection to the receiving end!

Here was a hero whose like had never been seen before! The Atom would go on to become a member of the Justice League though most of the time he was content to provide scientific support rather than go on field missions. He felt his power had a limited use and only participated in certain kinds of missions.

To be fair to the character, the Atom's molecular control made it possible for him to be the most dangerous member of the Justice League if you didn't mind the Atom manipulating atoms, molecules, cells, organs or simply expanding to his full size inside your body…as his enemy, Dwarfstar does with similar size control powers. Ugh.

Despite his minuscule size the Atom has enjoyed a long career since his debut, granted with doldrums where the character languished in limbo or in strange stories which are sometimes best forgotten. His adventures in Brazil for instance (from the Sword of the Atom series):

From Sword of the Atom Special #2 (1985)

And that’s how Ray Palmer became a jungle barbarian, a counter-espionage agent, a teenager, a concerned ex-husband, and a border guard of the multiverse (don't ask, retconned away…)

Even a hero as tiny as the Atom gets a crowning moment of awesome.

  • In the alternate future story, "Rock of Ages", Darkseid has found the Anti-Life Equation and rules Earth, although he is killed when Connor Hawke and the Atom manage to bypass his protective force-field when Atom shrinks down to the size of a speck of light (reasoning that light must penetrate the force-field, otherwise Darkseid could not see) and detonates a bomb inside Darkseid's head.

Dr. Henry Pym: Scientist Supreme

Ant-Man is the name of several fictional characters appearing in books published byMarvel Comics. Ant-Man was originally the superhero persona of Hank Pym, a brilliant scientist who invented a substance that allowed him to change his size. Hank Pym was created by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, and Jack Kirby and first appeared in Tales to Astonish#27 (Jan. 1962); his first appearance as Ant-Man was in Tales to Astonish #35 (Sept. 1962).
After Pym retired his Ant-Man identity, successors Scott Lang and Eric O'Grady have used Pym's technology to take on the role of Ant-Man.

Ant-Man may have made his first appearance in Tales to Astonish but he really didn't hit the big time until he became a charter member of the World's Mightiest Heroes, The Avengers. Yes, that's right, for all of you Marvel Cinematic Universe types, Ant-Man and his wife-to-be Janet Van Dyne (the Wasp) were founding members of the Avengers.

Yes, over there in the corner on the left surfing two ants is Ant-Man. And here-in would become the dilemma of the character over his long career.

You see, Ant-Man's powers were the ability to reduce himself in size using a molecular material he dubbed Pym Particles (no scientific ego problems, right?) These particles would let him change his size from a normal human to the size of a large ant. He did maintain his normal size strength and this could make him able to pack quite a punch.

Using a cybernetic helmet of his own design, he could also summon and control ants and they would follow his commands. He could use them as spies or as attackers. Most often he used them as flying transport.

However, in a group boasting its own superhumanly strong monster, a man in a suit of powered armor and a self-declared god, being able to shrink to the size of an ant had limited applications. This inferiority complex along with a growing psychosis due to his changing his size would eventually lead to him taking on a new identity: Giant Man. The Avengers roster would grow and Pym wanted to be considered a heavy hitter.

Pym would be the Avenger's go to scientist for his entire time in their roster, constantly fighting feelings of inferiority as the Avengers lineup grew more diverse and more powerful. While he loved his wife, it seemed their relationship grew more strained as his issues with being a heavy hitter became more problematic.

Hank would go on to create Ultron, the Avenger's greatest, nigh indestructible menace whose threat would resurface again and again over the decades.

Ultron never stopped improving himself though his greatest threat to the Avengers may have been when he was Ultron-5 and brought the Avengers to the brink. Pym was never able to forgive himself for creating Ultron. He would also change his name and costume to Goliath during this period. It didn't help his issues. If anything he became more violent and dangerous during battles.

Pym's instability would continue as he used his size-changing powers and would eventually be unable to change size. This would force him to take on a new identity: Yellowjacket. For Pym, this identity would herald a number of life-altering changes.

Determined to try to show the team he was worthy of being an Avenger, Hank was actually on trial and about to get kicked out for excessive force during a battle. The team was fighting a mysterious woman and Cap had convinced her to stop fighting. Hank came along and zapped her in the back. This could have caused her to re-ignite the fight and defeat the team. In an effort to prove to the team he was still worthy of being an Avenger, Pym concocted a plan to create a robot only he could stop (ala Syndrome from the Incredibles).

Hank sneaks off to his lab to create his super-robot and is discovered by Jan. What follows is the character's ultimate defining moment. He never recovers from this event socially, as an Avenger or as a character in the Marvel Universe.

One of the smartest men in the Marvel Universe with the social acumen of a angry child.  In a rage, Hank strikes her, gaining an undeserved reputation as a wife-beater. They divorce soon after.

Hank's decent into madness continues until he realizes he isn't cut out to be a superhero and returns to his lab.

He takes on the identity of Dr. Pym, a science hero/adventurer who uses science to make the world a better place. Since he can no longer use his size changing powers on himself, he instead shrinks objects and tools and resizes them as he needs to.

His relationship with Jan improves during this time because he has for the first time accepted he is not defined by his superpowers. Pym develops as a character in a far different way than the Atom does. There is a whole lot of history we can't even cover.

Janet dies, Hank takes on a new identity in tribute to her, becoming the Wasp. Hank trains new Avengers, he creates a new mansion in a pocket dimension. You have years to catch up on what may be one of the most interesting and human characters in the Avenger's lineup.

Eventually, Pym too will have a moment of awesome as he discovers he is the Scientist Supreme.

The Pym Particles are a fundamental sub-atomic particle that allows Hank Pym to shrink down and pass into a sub-atomic realm called Underspace, and to grow to an abstract level called the Overspace.

Abstract entities like Eternity reside on other planes of existence such as Overspace. The exact polar opposite of that would be Underspace – a plane of reality that lies below the dimension called the Microverse. Underspace is the realm Henry Pym placed his headquarters, the Infinite Avengers Mansion, for his team of Avengers because he discovered his former teammate Thor sent Janet Van Dyne, the original Wasp, there. Underspace entry on the Marvel Wikia

Pym has visited the abstract realm and met Eternity when he went into Overspace.

Never forget this, Hank Pym. You are my champion. You are my avenger! More than a founding Avenger of old, you are the founder of Avengers yet to come. A new Age of Heroes is upon us…more than any being, I put my trust in you. To you I entrust more than myself. To you I entrust the future. But for now, here is what you must do… — Eternity

When Henry Pym grew beyond the macroverse into Overspace, he met Eternity, who thanked him for saving reality from Chthon. He gave the title "Scientist Supreme" to Pym because of his desire to take science to the point of studying magic. He sent Pym back to Earth, telling him that he was the founder of the Avengers to come and promised a new age of Heroes was coming. Eternity entry on the Marvel Wikia

Hank Pym is a genius, one of the founding members of the Avengers, the creator of Pym Particles and Ultron, a sufferer of Bipolar disorder and a modern-day superhero. He has acted under many memorable identities such as Ant-Man, Giant Man, Goliath, Yellowjacket, and the Wasp. He is also the Earth's Scientist Supreme, as decreed by Eternity.

Two shrinking heroes separated by a year and 50 years of creativity have ended up in very different places. One may have been a copy of the other but by no means were these two scientists merely standing in the shadows of giants or gods. They were both expressions of the human desire to expand their knowledge to the limits of their respective universes. Not bad for two guys whose power was just shrinking…

See Also: How does Ant-Man stack up against other Marvel heroes?

Is Marvel's Antman ripped off from DC's Atom?

Is Bruce Banner a mutant?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Officially, No. But it's more complicated than that.

the Celestials by ZurdoM

I already know what you're thinking. Your first question is: What do the Celestials have to do with the Bruce Banner/Hulk? Patience, young grasshopper, you need a primer on the untold history of the Marvel Universe.

Who you calling 'mutate'?

Back in a more innocent time, Marvel Comics early creators were fond of what has been dubbed in comic literature as 'the radiation accident'.

  • Many early superheroes were created or transformed when they were exposed to radioactivity in one form or another.
  • Since science literacy was at a low during that period and most people had no real idea of what radiation was beyond what they saw in 1950 era science fiction films such as 'Attack of the Crab Monsters' or 'Them' where exposure to radiation made fantastic mutations impossible to be found in nature.
  • Since comics were trying to reinvent themselves, they decided to create superheroes with the same basic formula. Insert ordinary man (a common Marvel theme) + mysterious and unknown radiation and poof, a new and fantastic hero would be created.

Some of Marvel's greatest creations utilize this origin including:

The Fantastic Four: Exposed to cosmic rays on an early spaceflight in a poorly shielded ship, the four explorers develop superhuman abilities due to the interaction with said radiation. The radiation mysteriously transforms each one of them into a different elemental expression of nature and makes three of them really hot and sexy and one of them appealing only to stonemasons and sculptors. First Appearance: The Fantastic Four #1 (cover dated Nov. 1961)

The Amazing Spider-Man: On a science excursion to a poorly-run and scientifically inept laboratory, hapless Peter Parker, chew toy and science geek is bitten by a spider which had been exposed to radiation (without immediately dying) and bites Parker, transferring its 'spidery essence' and powers requiring great responsibility to utilize (as we are reminded in every film). First Appearance: Amazing Fantasy #15 (Aug. 1962)

Daredevil: Young Matt Murdock was unfortunate enough to be on a street corner when a truck bearing, unshielded, improperly stored, unmarked radioactive waste. In an effort to save a man about to be killed Matt somehow avoids being run over and instead is splashed in the face with said toxic waste. Instead of dying a slow cancer-riddled death, he is blinded and then gifted by having his other senses become superhuman compared to a normal man's. He also gains a 360 degree awareness he calls his radar sense. Instead of retiring to the life of a gentle scholar, he emuates his failed father's boxing career and heads out to the gym, bulks up and becomes the Devil of Hell's Kitchen fighting criminals by night and helping people 'lawyer up' during the day in his secret identity as Matt Murdock, attorney at law. First Appearance: Daredevil #1 (April 1964)

The Incredible Hulk: The most powerful human/menace/hero in the Marvel Universe, the Hulk gained his powers by being at ground zero of the text of an experimental nuclear device called the 'gamma bomb'. Supposedly the next evolution in nuclear warfare, the test center was poorly policed and a young protester, Rick Jones found himself at ground zero. Intrepid Bruce Banner rushes to save Jones and instead is exposed to the terrible radiation of the bomb. (Jones is pushed into some kind of ditch by Banner which protects him from the blast.) First appearance, The Incredible Hulk #1 (May 1962)

In those early days, such superheroes were dubbed 'mutates' meaning they were altered in some way by an outside influence, whether it be radiation (see above), mutagen (Captain America), or alien super-science (Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers).

Radiation, the stuff heroes are made of…or not.

On our Earth, if you are exposed to radiation in any of its primary forms, alpha particles, beta particles or more energetic radiations such as X-rays or gamma rays, if your exposure is significant, you will DIE from radiation poisoning or acute radiation syndrome.

The radiation one typically encounters is one of four types: alpha radiation, beta radiation, gamma radiation, and x radiation. Neutron radiation is also encountered in nuclear power plants and high-altitude flight and emitted from some industrial radioactive sources.

  1. Alpha Radiation: Alpha radiation is a heavy, very short-range particle and is actually an ejected helium nucleus. Some characteristics of alpha radiation are:
    • Most alpha radiation is not able to penetrate human skin.
    • Alpha-emitting materials can be harmful to humans if the materials are inhaled, swallowed, or absorbed through open wounds.
    • Alpha radiation is not able to penetrate clothing.

    Examples of some alpha emitters: radium, radon, uranium, thorium.

  2. Beta Radiation: Beta radiation is a light, short-range particle and is actually an ejected electron. Some characteristics of beta radiation are:
    • Beta radiation may travel several feet in air and is moderately penetrating.
    • Beta radiation can penetrate human skin to the "germinal layer," where new skin cells are produced. If high levels of beta-emitting contaminants are allowed to remain on the skin for a prolonged period of time, they may cause skin injury.
    • Beta-emitting contaminants may be harmful if deposited internally.
    • Clothing provides some protection against beta radiation.

    Examples of some pure beta emitters: strontium-90, carbon-14, tritium, and sulfur-35.

  3. Gamma and X Radiation: Gamma radiation and x rays are highly penetrating electromagnetic radiation. Some characteristics of these radiations are:
    • Gamma radiation or x rays are able to travel many feet in air and many inches in human tissue. They readily penetrate most materials and are sometimes called "penetrating" radiation.
    • X rays are like gamma rays. X rays, too, are penetrating radiation. Sealed radioactive sources and machines that emit gamma radiation and x rays respectively constitute mainly an external hazard to humans.
    • Gamma radiation and x rays are electromagnetic radiation like visible light, radiowaves, and ultraviolet light. These electromagnetic radiations differ only in the amount of energy they have. Gamma rays and x rays are the most energetic of these.
    • Dense materials are needed for shielding from gamma radiation. Clothing provides little shielding from penetrating radiation, but will prevent contamination of the skin by gamma-emitting radioactive materials.

    Examples of some gamma emitters: iodine-131, cesium-137, cobalt-60, radium-226, and technetium-99m.

Baes, Fred. "What Types of Radiation Are There?." hps.org. N.p. Web. 22 Jul. 2015. <hps.org>

In the Marvel Universe, if you are exposed to radiation (or other mutagens) there is the spontaneous possibility you will gain superpowers! How is that possible? The staggering revelation is this:

  • The power to have metahuman capacity is not innately human. It does not exist normally in the Human genome. This capacity is due to the genetic manipulation and alterations made by the Celestials.
  • Humans without the genetic tampering would die when exposed to radiation in all its many forms, simple as that.

The Eternals (homo immortalis): a subgroup of Humanity with distinctive, consistently inherited, genetically-derived superhuman capabilities. Despite their vast power and superhuman capability, they are considered a failure by the Celestials.

In the Marvel Universe, all metahuman potential is the result of scientific manipulations of the Celestials upon the Human genome. Experiments which have led to the development of a variety of superhuman groups on the Marvel Earth including:

  • The Deviants and the Eternals: The first such "successful" genetic experiments upon Humanity and its subspecies. Each group developed a variety of capacities seen in subsequent metahumans on Marvel Earth today. Deemed a failure by the Celestials due to the consistency of their metahuman abilities (Eternals) or the staggering variability and power levels (Deviants).
  • The Inhumans: The second major genetic experiment on Humans carried out by the alien militarists, the Kree, in order to extract said metahuman potential and weaponize it for their miltary uses against their shape-shifting enemies, the Skrulls. Their experiments required the use of the mutagen called the Terrigen Mists.
  • Mutants (homo superior): A randomly occurring genetic event where when genetic markers dubbed the X-gene come together in an as-yet-undefined manner, metahuman potential is released, usually in puberty. The underlying nature of most mutant powers is psionic, giving them the ability to manipulate environmental conditions or change some aspect of their physical body. In the rare case, both. See: Proteus: Kevin MacTaggert (Earth-616).
  • Mutates: Beings whose genetic capacity would not have lent itself to the formation of the X-gene but somehow has sufficient metahuman potential that with an external mutagen e.g. radiation, a human being will spontaneously develop superhuman potential. Mutates can (and often do) give birth to mutants.

Franklin Richards is the mutant son of Reed Richards and Susan Richards. His mutant ability has been deemed the greatest expression of such abilities to have ever existed on Marvel Earth. His powers of energy manipulation and reality alteration have no equals. His powers make him a contemporary to the mighty Galactus and may be the desired result of the Celestial experiments millions of years ago.

VERDICT: The Hulk is NOT a mutant.

He would be considered a mutate. His powers, or to be specific, his ability to have metahuman capacity, released by exposure to radiation, is inherent in all Human DNA in the Marvel Universe. He is an unhappy accident at best.

See Also:

Outside the Marvel Universe:

The word 'mutant' is a loaded term in the comic universe, but not just for the reasons you might think. The Hulk would never be classified a mutant for various reasons, the most important being financial ones:

  • Marvel has trademarked the word 'mutant'. This word has such a distinction, it is the primary reason you don't see any 'mutants' in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Understand, when you say the word 'mutant' it stands for money in the comic industry.
  • This was such an issue that when Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were slated to be in the Avengers: Age of Ultron, their origins were changed both in the comics and in the movies removing them from their previous mutant origins.
  • Mutants are part of the film contract for the 20th Century Fox which produces the never-ending line of questionable quality X-men movies.  That last statement is only my opinion, not necessarily a fact. The X-Men film series is the 13th highest grossing movie franchise in history.

With seven films released, the X-Men film series is the 13th highest-grossing film franchise of all-time, having grossed over US$3 billion worldwide. It is set to continue in 2016 with two spin-off films, Deadpool and Gambit, and a sequel to X-Men: Days of Future Past entitled X-Men: Apocalypse, with a third Wolverine film following in 2017.

Is Bruce Banner a mutant?

Who would win in a fight between Superman and the Flash?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

It'd be over in a blur of motion.

Disclaimer: Superhero battles within the same universes between different characters is generally a waste of time because the winner of said battle depends entirely on the plot. If one hero is needed to defeat the other, the writer will see a way to win and the hero who should win, won't. It's that simple.

The Tale of the Tape
With that said: We will take the current versions of the Sultan of Speed, the Master of Motion, without a doubt the Fastest Man Alive and pit him in a titanic struggle against, Earth's most powerful hero, dubbed the Man of Tomorrow, the Man of Steel or by his most distinctive sobriquet, Superman!

Introducing the Fastest Man Alive — The Flash

The Flash's powers, since the reboot of the new DC Universe, revolve around Barry Allen's return and his perfect connection to the Speed Force. It has been implied Barry is the Speed Force, personified making him the most powerful speedster on DC's Earth.

  • The Speed Force is a energy field which permeates all of space-time in the DC Universe and allows many of DCs most well known speedsters to defy the laws of physics.
  • Depending on the quality of a speedster's connection, each will be able to manifest a variety of superhuman abilities related to hyper-accelerated activity.
  • Almost all speedsters who can connect to the Speed Force can move at what is commonly called super-speed which includes, faster ground movement, heightened reflexes, heightened temporal perception and increased reaction time.
  • They also have increased prioperception – an awareness of their body's physical position, movement and a perfect awareness of what is around them. This is necessary for speedsters to prevent accidents and bumping into things at high speeds.
  • Barry's return from the Speed Force has altered his perception of his powers and his view of the real world. He can, focus on a series of events and determine the least amount of effort required to make those events happen.
  • It's a new and different way of depicting how the Flash controls his perception of time, space and his relationship to the world at large. Being as fast as he is, he appears to violate causality appearing to be everywhere at once. He isn't, but his speed can give him the illusion of simultaneity.
  • Depending on the writer, how the Flash handles relative simultaneity (how things appear to happen simultaneously in relationship to the viewer) varies widely.
  • In The Flash #2, the Flash (as Barry Allen) is standing outside of a storefront where a robbery is about to/has/will happen. He is shown experiencing a moment where he is able to perceive a series of events that will/has happened and then decides to make minor changes to the series of events so different results ensue.

  • Does the Flash predict the future? No, the Flash lives at the edge of relative time, so he can tell the most liable future from a series of events based on his position in the decisions being made.
  • He is able to parse this information to make the right decision at the right time and from the perspective of someone on the outside of the event, he has dealt with every event apparently at the same time.

  • Looking at the final image, it does not resemble every permutation he conceived of, just the ones he decided would be the most effective at solving the problem without appearing to be doing anything untoward.

  • This extension of his temporal sense is not a new power, but a different way of showing how he controls his view of time in relationship to himself. Judging from his surprise, he may have never looked at his powers this way before and is experiencing his speed powers differently since his rebirth.

Manipulating the Speed Force for a variety of effects allows the Flash to:

  • Alter his molecular integrity and vibrate through normal matter. It has not been revealed if Barry can cause objects to explode by transferring some aspect of his speed energy, after passing through them in a fashion similar to Wally West. Wally couldn't control this power and thus refrained from phasing through matter if he could help it.
  • Violate the laws of conservation of motion and inertia. He can add or subtract energy, inertial or momentum to an object, removing it from its framework. He once used this power to effective remove a target from the Earth's natural rotation for ten seconds causing them to reappear over a hundred miles away.
  • Easily move faster than the speed of sound and with effort reach the speed of light in atmosphere without causing environmental catastrophe on a planet. Under controlled circumstances, he can move at multiples of the speed of light for brief periods.
  • Control his personal mass and energy relationship increasing his resistance to injury and ability to deliver damage to a target. The faster he moves, the more damage he is able to deliver.
  • Deliver his most powerful attack, dubbed the "Infinite Mass Punch" he is capable of dealing blows capable of damaging beings whose superhuman resistance would normally be beyond his ability to affect. The first use of the Infinite Mass Punch was by Wally West against the White Martian, Zum. Barry has shown he can also use this power.

  • Wally West was the most powerful version of the Flash to ever exist, until Barry Allen returned from the Speed Force.
  • West's feats of speed have rarely been equaled and this first use of the Infinite Mass Punch was simply inspired. Note both of these combatants creative use of superspeed.

Weaknesses: Despite his amazing abilities due to his connection to the Speed Force, Barry Allen is still, in many ways, very human. It is only when he is in motion does his defensive abilities come into play. If caught off guard or by surprise, he can be harmed though his powers will mitigate some degree of the damage.

Since Barry's return from the Speed Force, his powers and abilities have equaled or eclipsed most of the feats performed by Wally West. He is once again, the Fastest Man Alive. While he and Superman have tangled once with Barry getting the short end of it, he won't be as cocky again. Superman is fast, but no one is as fast as the Flash!

Introducing the Earth's Greatest Hero — Superman

Arguably, Superman is one of the most powerful metahumans in the recently rewritten DC Universe. There are some rumblings among the fanboys the Martian Manhunter is more powerful, but I think this is about the Manhunter having a more diverse power set including mental powers, phasing and mass-alteration abilities.

Superman is the flagship hero of DC and most of the DC staff have repeatedly indicated Superman has no equals. It is only his unconscious restraint which makes it look like he does. The latest version of Superman in the New 52 has shown all of the powers of his previous versions but not approaching his Silver Age level of superhuman ability.

He appears stronger than his previous Post-Crisis iteration, however. His abilities depicted thus far include:

  • Superhuman strength, sufficient to lift a weight equal to that of the entire planet. However, he must ramp up his strength to such prodigious levels because of the fragility of human environments.
  • Normally, his strength is sufficient to easily lift a 747. With a few seconds of concentration, he can move an aircraft carrier. With a few minutes, he can move the an object as massive and physically complex as a pyramid. When sufficiently motivated, he has moved entire worlds.
  • Superhuman stamina, capable of holding up the weight of the Earth for five days without rest. He has proven to be able to utilize superhuman strength, invulnerability and traveling at faster than light for sixty days without any additional solar energy.

  • He can resist the force of gravity and generate directional flight at speeds up to ten times the speed of sound with limited adverse effect on the environment. He can move even faster in atmosphere but only with a correspondingly increasing circle of destruction of which he is reluctant to do.
  • Outside of a planetary atmosphere he has proven to be able to achieve speeds faster than light, traveling from Pluto to Earth in a matter of minutes. Whether this is due to him achieving superluminal speeds or by warping space around him has not been discerned or disclosed. His current top speed is estimated by this travel time at 16 to 20 times the speed of light!
  • He has increased cognitive abilities, the ability to increase his reflexes and reaction time, comparable to his ability to move at light speeds. His training allows him to scan, analyse and deduce his opponent's operational capacity in seconds and devise an effective plan for neutralizing them.
  • Superman is highly aware that most of his opponents are often far less durable and usually less physically powerful than he is. When in doubt he uses the least amount of force required to handle his opponents. To understand his actions, they have to be seen in context.

  • In a confrontation with Batman, Superman uses his super-senses to detect that Batman's utility belt is empty. This means he is always scanning his opponents. Something prudent when you aren't sure of the capabilities of your opponents. He does this to everyone he fights.
  • He uses a bevy of super-senses whose mechanics are not fully understood. He can study objects as if he were using a powerful microscope or enhance his visual acuity greater than that of the most powerful telescope. At the same time, he can exist in environments millions of times brighter than any light on Earth (like the surface of the sun) without harm. He appears to be able to look through most earthly substances with the curious exception of lead.
  • His hearing is acute enough to hear and distinguish a single voice in an entire city. He can hear both in the infrasonic and ultrasonic ranges. He can isolate and intercept radio and other low frequency electromagnetic signals, giving him the ability to track radio triggered bombs and the like.
  • The addition of a new destructive power called the super-flare, is an explosion of all of the Man of Steel's stored solar energy in one cataclysmic burst. The output appears similar to a nuclear explosion without the consequence of fallout.

  • Recent data in the DCnU/New 52 indicates his new superpower – "Solar Flare" uses all of his power in a catastrophic explosion of energy, leaving him temporarily without use of his solar-derived Kryptonian abilities. Some degree of superhuman strength has returned first and as his energy stores return, his more energy-intensive powers will as well.
  • A high degree of damage resistance and nigh-invulnerability. High energy attacks, strong electrical attacks or powerful brute force blows can temporarily stun him but do little long-term damage. He has withstood the force of a nuclear explosion with no long-term damage. (Yes, Wonder Woman's sword CAN split an atom…)


  • Superman has only a few weaknesses, including leeching or reducing his powers by exposing him to red sun radiation. Under red sun radiation, his stores of yellow sun radiation are temporarily depleted and replaced. His powers can be drained in this fashion making him appear as an ordinary human. Normally such an event would take days.
  • Technology which utilizes red sun radiation attempts to cause damage at the point of impact where his defensive powers are reduced, he is more vulnerable in those spots.
  • Green Kryptonite (which is in short supply) can destroy his capacity to process yellow sun radiation for any feats of superhuman ability. He is immediately weakened, barely able to uses his powers and is in excruciating pain. Exposure over an hour to a pure source of Kryptonite can kill him.
  • He can be affected more easily by truly magical phenomena and is far less invulnerable to psychic attack.
  • However, his highly ordered mind is rarely held in thrall for long and he has some degree of training in resisting mind control and other forms of psychic compulsion.

Superman in the DC Universe is considered nearly power incarnate. What makes him extraordinary is his compassion and concern for the Humans of his adopted world. As such, despite his incredible capacity for destruction, he does everything in his power to mitigate such damage whenever possible, even if it means he has to get hurt to protect innocents.

The Battle:

The first time these two mixed it up, the Flash assumed his superspeed would be enough to keep Superman from even laying a hand on him.

  • While the Flash's initial interactions befuddle Superman (he likely has fought few opponents as fast as he is) once the Man of Steel realizes he can match his opponent's speed, he restrains himself.

  • Superman always engages in restraint during combat. Always. With strength as great as his, it is important for him to exercise control because he is morally opposed to killing his opponents. Despite the Flash's speed, Superman's mind has already shifted into high gear, predicting the path of the Flash.

  • In this fight he applies the force necessary to damage his opponent, nothing more. Check out his eyes, he is predicting where the Flash will be and times his blow to make sure he is where he needed to be. Once he was sure he could hit him, he just flicks him. That tiny blow knocks the Flash back down the street. Only his Speed Force aura and Superman's restraint protected him from serious injury.


In a rematch, these two would need a place where they could cut loose and fight on equal terms. Let's say someplace deserted, like the surface of Planet X. Why do they need a deserted environment to fight in?

Because for the Flash to hit Superman hard enough for him to notice, he needs space to wind up. He will have to reach light speed and set up a point in the battle for him to alter his mass for an Infinite Mass Punch. Otherwise, Superman barely notices his efforts. Having fought enemies as strong as himself, Barry Allen can't do enough damage to truly harm Superman in any meaningful way.

Without a Speed Force aura, Superman will never be able to move fast enough, except in close quarters to ever hit the Flash without causing devastating environmental effects from using his powers full out on a planetary surface.

Hence, Planet X.

The two arrive on the surface of Planet X in a borrowed spaceship. Traveling to another continent to protect the ship, the two are separated by five miles. Planet X resembles Earth in all other ways except for the lack of cities, people and significant life; same gravity, air density and water distribution.

Both are aware of each other but neither appears to move for ten, maybe fifteen minutes. Barry checks his calculations for the speeds he will need to affect Superman at all.

He sees the possible permutations required to get Superman into the right position to execute his attacks and sees Superman already countering more than half of them in less than a nanosecond. Thousands of choices, all failures.

How fast is Superman truly capable of being? One thousandth of a second, one ten thousandth? One millionth? Then he sees a possibility. Something Superman can't possibly know yet. The Speed Force crackles and the Flash disappears.

Superman's keen intellect has already spun up his mental capacity to sense the Flash. He knows the Flash will need to move so fast, even his superior senses will never detect him in time. He closes his eyes and waits. His every nerve tingling in anticipation. He feels the electromagnetic field of the planet flickering all around him. He won't look for him, he will feel his disturbance in the planet's magnetic and gravimetric field.

The Flash vanishes. The electromagnetic aura of the planet reverberates with his powers. The Flash believes himself to be invisible, but he affects the world the same way Superman does. At the fundamental level.

Feeling no immediate impact, Superman realizes the Flash needs running room, time to build up speed.

Superman can feel the buildup of energy approaching his position just ahead of the Flash. It took him three seconds to circle the planet. He's still way under lightspeed. He has to keep this battle just under the speed of light to take advantage of his IMP.

The first pass doesn't even draw near Superman. The Man of Steel marks the mental path and waits. Three seconds again. Why so slow? The Flash whizzes by again.

Why won't he attack, Barry wonders. This plan only works if he engages first. Maybe if I increase the threat level. Barry disappears in the distance and takes ten seconds to return.

Superman surprised at the length opens his eyes to a barrage of boulders crashing into him at near relativistic speeds. The shockwaves caused by their sonic booms split the sky, creating plumes of blinding dust. Swinging into action, the Man of Tomorrow deflects the smaller and faster particles of debris and dodges the slower, larger ones.

His motions have to be fast. Faster than he normally move on Earth, because if he misses, each hunk of granite explodes with the force of a small bomb. Turning the ground into near light-speed projectiles is clever. But Superman's reactions are equal to the task and each snap of his fist creates ground-splitting explosions of force. Each deflected hunk of granite becomes a fine cloud filling the air around him. His fists are a blur as the cloud of missiles continue unabated.

There's a pattern here. This isn't random. I can't figure it out. The cloud of debris soon envelops Superman.

The hail of missiles stops and the Flash appears, for just a second, striking Superman on the chest. Before Superman can react, the Flash is gone. I can't move, he thinks. What did he do to me? Where did he go? With the cloud of dust all around him, Superman tries his X-ray vision only to realize what has happened.

The dust is filled with lead. He never sees the Flash as he circles the world five times in the next second. Realizing the danger, Superman vibrates his own molecular structure trying to overload whatever effect was holding him in place. He's all around me, setting up for his attack.

Superman stops struggling and braces himself. The Flash takes his one shot, igniting the atmosphere around his fist as he reaches ninety nine percent the speed of light. He can see the cloud, he has already mapped the position and knows exactly where Superman is. To the inch.

The world vanishes from sight only his mental map of everything remains. The ground beneath his feet explodes as he passes over it once, twice, three times, four, five, crossing the oceans, he vaporizes tons of water behind him, creating clouds of steam that span the world.

His mass is increasing, he weighs as much as a truck on his first pass, an aircraft carrier on his next, a pyramid on his third, a moon on his fourth and a planet on his fifth. Earthquakes with every step.

Superman knows he's coming. It has only been a few seconds since he was immobilized. While he can't move, he can see. He has five nanoseconds before the Flash makes his final approach. More than enough time. His eyes glow a fiery red. He waits until the Flash has passed for the last time. He breathes in deeply, sucking in as much of the dust and debris in the air as possible.

Three nanoseconds. Even this tiny movement is taking all of his strength. He can feel the paralyzing effect faltering. Straining against it, he holds his breath as the granite dust sears even his invulnerable lungs.

One nanosecond. The Flash is faster than my heat vision. When he's running away from it. Superman expels the granite dust into a cloud directly in front of him.

The Flash arrived right on time, his Infinite Mass Punch delivered with perfection. The blow drove Superman into orbit. In that same moment, an explosion erupted at point blank range right as Superman achieved escape velocity. The Speed Force transferred the accumulated energy directly to the Man of Steel, shockwave and all. For the Flash, his blow, despite it's incredible payload is silent as the grave.

Superman's heat vision, ignites the rapidly expanding dust cloud with a temperature equal to the surface of the sun. An explosion fills the air around the Flash.

The Flash never saw it coming.

A dust explosion coupled with his tangible state meant he caught the full brunt of the blast and landed several hundred feet away unconscious and battered. The Speed Force absorbed a great deal of the explosion but the Flash would not regain consciousness for hours.

Superman had been struck with the force of a million megaton bomb.

Barry had pushed his powers to the limit. 99.8% the speed of light gave him an incredible punch, a degree of superhuman durability and no chance to dodge the dust explosion. Any other normal man would have been torn to shreds.

The Man of Steel woke up, battered and in orbit, impressed by the ingenuity of the Fastest Man Alive.

An hour later, Barry Allen wakes with a splint on his arm and Superman watching him with a smile.

Barry scratches his head before remarking, "Dust explosion, huh? How'd you come up with that? I didn't think you knew much exotic science."

"You're right, I was inspired by my experiences as a farmer. Grain silos and dust explosions go together. I have to hand it to you. You are more powerful than I ever imagined. How did you do the trick with the rocks?"

"The same way I made you stand still, I imparted momentum onto them the same way I stole your speed, until you couldn't move at all."

"And the lead hidden in the dust cloud?"

"I stopped to mine. You didn't notice the five second gap in there?"

"I did. I thought you changed your mind about the fight. How did you know it would vaporize?"

"At those speeds it wouldn't be able to do anything but. I needed a cover you couldn't penetrate. Change my mind? Not a chance. Batman would never let me hear the end of it. I have to tell him his idea worked."

"I knew he had to be involved."

"No, the plan was mine. He just helped with the calculations. I needed to know how much force to use so I didn't accidentally kill you."

"And he knows how much force that is?"

"Never doubt it for a second. The man sometimes gives me the creeps."

"Me too. Race you back to the ship."

"You're on. You know you can't win, right?"

"Even Superman's gotta have a dream."

Knockout goes to the Flash.

  • Even though he's taken down by Superman's improvised dust explosion, the Flash's tactical use of his diverse speed powers distracted, blinded and immobilized the Man of Tomorrow long enough for his Infinite Mass Punch to get put into play. Granted, Superman isn't down for long, but in this case, it is long enough.
  • Superman woke up in orbit and the Flash gets one for the scoreboard. This battle could have gone either way but Superman knew he was at a distinct advantage in a running game. The Flash's superior speed and lack of environmental disturbance gave him far greater mobility.
  • He could have tried for a scorched-earth victory by trying to deny the Flash mobility, but with the Flash's ability to phase through matter, any trap made by Superman would have to take the Flash's phasing into account.
  • He could have also tried to think like the Flash's Rogues Gallery and used trickery and deception to distract the Flash, and then catch him in a mistake but utilizing distraction techniques isn't in Superman's wheelhouse normally, so he would be forced to use himself as bait and hope the Flash could get close enough for him to put the squeeze on him.

Maybe next time, Big Blue.

Who would win in a fight between Superman and the Flash?

How can an aspiring young writer make a name for himself?

Answer by Thaddeus Howze:

Stop aspiring. Write.

You want to make a name for yourself? Write something worth reading.
It's really that simple. The challenges of being a new writer are many and the rewards are few.

No one can walk this road for you. The greatest challenge of writing is you will be self-made. No one can choose your words, no one can harness your craft, no one can define what writing means to you.

Writing is like any other artistic endeavor. Others may watch you, cheer your efforts, laud your determination, but no one can pick up those words but you. No one will string together those sentences, create such pithy prose, designed to weaken the knees, boil the blood, or inspire the heart.

No one will sit with you in the wee hours of the morning as you communicate with the Akashic records, divine the murmuring of your drunken muse, or strip mine the realm of Logos for the stories being retold for the hundredth time, yet there you are trying to create something new, a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and maybe just maybe just the tiniest bit of talent, a minutia of personal wisdom, a seed of something only you could draw down from the Universe's bounty.

Writing is like working in a coal mine. You descend into the darkness of your personal soul, prepared to open a vein upon the page, to mine the darkness of your greatest fears, your unrealized ambitions, your most utter failings. For this, this expression of your innermost thoughts is what people seek. This revelation their experiences are not unique, their failures and tribulations are not singular, they are the stuff of humanity.

In this coal mine of the soul, blind but for a tiny light, you seek to find the combustible fuel capable of igniting the mind of your reader, convincing them your efforts, your coal, your fervently dug bitumen is the real thing, something to ignite their passions, to remind them to feel again, to strive for something beyond their world, hoping for dreams they forgot they had.

This is the real goal of a writer. To connect people with the person they were, the person they abandoned when they took on their life as they knew it. The writer's true art is to find a place where all men and women hope to recall their dreams, their ambitions and for a moment engage in the life they have never known, for good or ill, for you have no idea what people seek, is it the darkness you create for them, or the light they seek?

It doesn't matter. Done well, they will embrace either, consuming the flesh of men, or battling the forces of evil at the doors of Heaven.

To reach your readers, you must know your craft. You must feel the language, you must love it. You must be willing to shape it, create it, make new words if that's what it takes to tell the story that reaches the souls of the brave who believe you are their storyteller.

To be someone's storyteller is a great power; and an even greater responsibility. For you shall absorb from them, the one thing they can never get again. They can search the world for it. Beg for it, and in the last moments of their life they will ask for more of it, knowing full well they have used all they have been allotted as best they were able: their time.

It's like will never come this way again. So if you would be a writer, if you would wear the title of storyteller, then I say to you, study your craft like you would any other, for you will be stealing the lives of men, beguiling them as the Fae of old, trading time for your illusions.

Slave in the word mines, gather vocabulary, each new word should be pressed within the pages of your personal library like flowers stolen from a field.

Read the masters, expend your precious time understanding how great writers worked their magic. Emulate their alchemy for a time, because such is the making of our enchantment, it is best done by watching a master. Understand one day, you will create you own Arts, weave your own spells, and they will be built upon the scaffolds of your teachers.

But you must still write. Write daily. Set the page ablaze with the zeal of your efforts.

Never stop writing. Find a reason to write about everything. Journal your life, imagine yourself the wind moving through a valley, shatter time and space, seek out madness and make it your own. Every day your efforts must eclipse the day before. Write until no experience is too mundane, no revelation too ethereal to escape your locution.

There will come a day when you are ready. You have plumbed the wells of the master craftsmen before you. You have discovered your personal muse and understand the nature of the outline, the planned structure, the inspired rant filled with zeal and enthusiasm and madness.

Your work is not done.

You will have to submit your work to review; to editors for the refinement of  your craft, to sharpen your focus, their guidance shall help you stir the souls of men (and women). There is no work without the edit, no success can be measured without the editor.

Skip not this particular step for anything you wish others to buy. They must find your work, crisp, clean without significant challenge in the understanding, clarity in the illusion you are presenting.

The final step in your climb must be the submission. And its accompanying rejection.

Rejection IS the stuff of submission. You will absorb more rejection than acceptance so this must be the greatest effort you will make as a writer. To not stop. To persevere, to turn the stuff of rejection into rejectomancy, the magic of acceptance.

Know your markets, speak to your readers, divine as best you can, those who will crave your work and submit to them until they know you as they know their own kin. In this familiarity, in your diligence, they will take comfort and eventually seek you out.

Once you have refined your jewel, consorted with your editor and his or her dark sorcery of refinement, submit your work until it finds a home. If you have followed this oracle, you will find a place for your work because you are not depending on random fate.

You are not depending on the vagaries of those three witches, you have studied your craft, you have sat at the feet of the masters, you have filled your share of pages, thousands of words, nay millions of words have passed between your mind and your keyboard or page.

Only this way can you understand the efforts required. You are every improving your abilities, never resting on your laurels, maintaining fitness in your body and mind, for only in health can wisdom bloom. You have built the mental acumen, the acuity, the sagacity needed to be a writer and there is no room for chance.

Now go, young writer. Aspire no longer. Your path to mastery and lo mastery is required, no amateurish rambling, hoping to strike a chord in the reader, you must treat this endeavor as any worthwhile craft such as the hardworking smith, the diligent mechanic, the powerful gymnast, you must dedicate that same industry to your new creations.

Writing, good writing is no accident. It is willful. It is done with purpose. Yet it defies definition. It challenges the status quo. It breaks with convention while redefining such for itself.

Write, dammit, as if your very soul was at risk, in a bargain with a devil sharpening a dagger eager for his pound of flesh. Strike the page with the enthusiasm of a person for whom no future is assured, no greatness awaits, strike as if every blow will be your very last, every word, a tantamount creation.

Write like this and you will not have to worry for your name. Your efforts will draw them to you like the moth to the flame and they shall burn screaming your name in ecstasy.

Aspire no more, now Write.

How can an aspiring young writer make a name for himself?