Wednesday, June 29, 2016


In the world of quackery - I so love this article. On the mathy of homeopathy: “If a single molecule … were to survive the dilution, its concentration would be 1 in 100200. This huge number, which has 400 zeroes, is vastly greater than the estimated number of molecules in the universe (about one googol, which is a 1 followed by 100 zeroes).”

Without comment on what quantifies “best” in the quote here, the piece I’m linking to it is worth a look. “The best newspaper in the world should not run articles that might as well be headlined “Ladies, You Might Think You Look OK, But You Don’t.”

Damn, this is good writing. Funny, insightful, beautifully expressed. I hope it will be heard. “Empowerment” wasn’t always so trivialized, or so corporate, or even so clamorously attached to women.” “Today 'empowerment' invokes power while signifying the lack of it.”

Brexit. Hmm. “My admittedly primitive understanding of democracy is that we're supposed to move toward it, not away from it, in a moment of crisis.” … an interesting essay, presented without opinions from yours truly. On the concept of “Too much democracy” …

... and here we have a civilized discussion (including actual British people!) at Colin Smith's blog ...

The bandit hero -- the underdog rebel -- so frequently becomes the political tyrant; and we are perpetually astonished! Such figures appeal to our infantile selves -- what is harmful about them in real life is that they are usually immature, without self-discipline, frequently surviving on their 'charm'. Fiction lets them stay, like Zorro or Robin Hood, perpetually charming. In reality they become petulant, childish, relying on a mixture of threats and self-pitying pleading, like any baby. These are too often the revolutionary figures on whom we pin our hopes, to whom we sometimes commit our lives and whom we sometimes try to be...
--Michael Moorcock

Not the NRA ... on the history of Sig Sauer.

On the question at this column, “Joke or Threat” – a joke isn't, if the audience is actually threatened. “If he’s been asked repeatedly to stop making sexual jokes and comments about Sophie, and continues to make them, he is actively and intentionally causing her harm.” It is dispiriting that this needs to be explained, even to people who think they are friends.

“For older folks, automobiles were, and are, the technology of freedom; you’ll get them into autonomous vehicles when you can peel the stick shift out of their cold, dead fingers. For younger people, automobiles, especially in cities, are becoming an unnecessary complication to their busy lives—a car detracts, rather than augments, their freedom and mobility. Rather, it is their smartphone that gives them access to the world and that they perceive gives them freedom.” (Bonus content – the usual dismissal of anyone between the so-called Boomer and Millennial generations: “The shift to on-demand, autonomous personal transportation as a service, rather than vehicles as owned artifacts, that generational change will enable, could happen relatively quickly—perhaps in less than a decade as purchasing power shifts from the boomer to the millennial generation.” Man. It’s a shame, sometimes, that my generation never existed.)

A lifetime of leers. Not an edgy short story, I'm afraid.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Pet Moments

We love our pets - whether they are dogs, cats, fish, birds, iguana, or imaginary friends, we can be affectionate with the nonhuman in unique and gratifying ways. I've been blessed to live with dogs and cats most of my life; those few years without an animal of my own were not my favorite of times.

The Reiders at Janet Reid's community know the current feline resident of my home well. He is Gossamer the Editor Cat, Keeper of the Bucket of Chum, lover of the lady herself, cruel taskmaster of my work in progress, sometime nestler, eternal funnyboy and cutie-pie-face extraordinaire.


Penelope the Publishing Pup has made it to Janet's pages as well, but she stays home with me more than not. She guards our windows, and that one spot in the front dormer in the master, makes sure the floor lies still for all of us by napping on it strategically, and revels in her yard, keeping our estate free of squirrels, bunnies, and That One Cat we call Sylvester.

Four years old now, their baby days are over, for all they get babied even so. So it was a surprise when I came home yesterday, and found myself assailed by the old, familiar stench we shall say was connected with her house training.

Oh my poor girl. I won't go into full forensic analysis, but it appears within an hour (probably less) before I came home, her stomach attacked. In five spots throughout the area of the home she has access to when I am at work, she had erupted unhappily.

She is not in the presence of plants, and there were no unexpected open cabinets, giving her access to cleaning products or the like. The "evidence" included no particular clue to what had gotten to her, but twice before I took her outside, she threw up again, poor kiddo.

I expect she thought she was in trouble, but I kept her close and asked her how she was feeling and reassured her. Her eyes were clear, her tongue normal, her teeth fine, and there was no foam or sputum around her mouth. She showed no sensitivity to my touch, and no heat or swelling. Her limbs were perfectly normal, so no injury. Last night, she was normal in her behavior, and ate kibble with no ill effects.

After a massive and damaging storm last night, the kids' vet is closed, but Pen bounced back with alacrity, and we are relaxing this evening. G-TEC appears unfazed and fine, though he always seems too skinny to me in summer, when his coat thins and you see his real shape and size. They are both eating normally, and another inspection revealed no untoward variables around the house.

We'll keep a sharp eye on both of them. If I can, I'll get them in Monday or Tuesday, when I am taking off and working from home, respectively. They are both probably overdue, so a 200,000-mile checkup is in order.

In the meantime: let there be scritches.

Dubious-faced Pum.
"Scritches? I'll have three."

Tuesday, June 14, 2016


In need of a good short story? Do I have one for you. Well, Paul Lamb has a good one for you; but I will point the way. Travel Light.

... and, on the Hilarious Email Cockup front, we have this ...

Two more quotes from Ursula K. LeGuin, because City of Illusions is full of good ones ...
Without trust, a man lives, but not a human life; without hope, he dies.
Laws are made against the impulse a people most fears in itself.

I do not understand. How does this help? How is it okay to say this? I haven't seen a whisper of comment on this judgment.
Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Florida, whose district includes the area of the massacre, suggested to reporters that "more likely than not" the shooting spree at the nightclub was ideologically motivated. "Let me put it this way," he said, "the nationality of family members is indicative."
Image: Wikipedia

Y'all know how I feel about adverbs. I am not alone! “There is nothing whatsoever intrinsically wrong with adverbs. In fact, avoiding them leads to bland, forgettable writing. You can and should use adverbs.”

Butter for the gods. I know this story is ubiquitous, but this link goes to the article I thought was the best.

So, Father's Day is coming, and you are fortunate enough to have a dad? Here are some books he might very much enjoy, courtesy of Tom Williams. My dad would I think have liked any one of them.

And finally, once again we learn that supposedly-new ideas aren't so new. Why would we think people wanted their foods to stick to pans in the ancient world? Because some chemical company wants us to think Teflon is cooler than it really is. Anyway - ancient Roman nonstick pans.

Monday, June 13, 2016


Today's search strings: Diane Major death and Diane Major obituary.

Sorry: still breathing. I don't do it especially well, but I haven't quit yet.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Hope Quote

Hope is a slighter, tougher thing even than trust.
--Ursula K. LeGuin

Monday, June 6, 2016


It's not always a good thing for your writing to be seen. Janet Reid's post today somewhat touches on this theme - in a classic example of the old "How can you know my writing isn't good enough!?" rant which exemplifies where the writing is weak.

My own example today was at work. In an interoffice envelope from some other quarter of the company, I received a letter forwarded along to my boss, but actually addressed to "Mr. Contact Unknown, Owner" (incorrect company name).

Rest assured that my boss will see this letter, and its envelope - both identically incorrect - but not for the reasons hoped-for. I shared the thing all over my corner of the world, because everybody needs a laugh. The consensus was twofold: one, that we NEED TO DO BUSINESS with these folks as quickly as possible. And two, that my planned response of "Actually, it's Ms. Contact Unknown" is the best possible one.

Best. Mail merge. Ever.

Also, nice putting your best foot forward, company.

Image: Wikimedia

All this has only the most cursory relation to writing, or even to Janet's post, linked above. Mostly, I'm sharing it because it's funny, and I hear humor is a good way to prevent blog readers' boredom. And I care about y'all. I really do. I don't want you coming here getting bored.

So you're welcome. Mr. and Ms. Anonymous Reader. Happy Monday.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Questions. I have Questions ...

Re-watching Battlestar Galactica (the reboot) recently, I have questions, profound questions. They start out merely as practical issues ... but they grow, into an exploration (and note that word choice as I get comparative) ...

How is it, a world bombed about five minutes ago, with nuclear explosions we SEE engulfing most of the surface of the planet is (a) habitable by humans (yes, even with radiation meds - what are they EATING? and, in that one episode, how are they conceivably imagined to be fertile?) and (b) filled with *still-standing cities* ... when a planet bombed-out TWO THOUSAND YEARS AGO is unsuitable for settlement?

In a fleet where networked computers are verboten: how do they communicate with one another by phone? Across vast distances? I know we see much made of staticky radio, but their feats of electronics and communications without wireless networking of any kind do begin to stagger the imagination - most especially with the extraordinary precision of their faster-than-light jumps through space.

There are those who think BSG made huge leaps forward in every way from all the Trek series. I'll grant, the writing is taut. But BSG depends, with a frequency none of the ST series ever quite matches, on The False Deadline. "If this person isn't recovered by X moment, we all die, or they die, or whatever - and DISASTER ENSUES" ... but recovery is made just in time - or just after time, but because we fudged the deadline. This creates tension, maybe, but the tension is false.

As to the rest, the acting is not entirely superior; only different. The major nit people pick relates to production design, and I'll grant that BSG looks "lived-in" and bears internal logic most of the time in the way things work, but there are weird set choices and usage of space, and Trek's relative slick sheen was of course intentional - the idealized look of a world originally conceived to BE ideal, pretty, perfect. But put Grace Park next to any ST castmember in any series you like, including TOS, and I'm going to call BS if you claim the acting is better. Honestly, for all he's been sainted time and again, I found Olmos pretty one-note (gravelly) and ponderous at times. Not unbelievable, but not exactly a deeply layered character - stamping "complex" on his name on a script doesn't convince me. And I have every bit as much trouble watching Kara Thrace's overly poochy pout as I do with Jolene Blalock's overly poochy pout in Enterprise.

Image: Wikipedia

Adama and Athena. He is profoundly betrayed by her - "throw that thing in the brig" - heals offscreen - she's his loyal, trusted sidearm - he is profoundly betrayed by her - and then he gives her her kid and lets her out, again. The reversals, I can't accept them. Not ALL of them. It's too regular. And it too-well suits the needs of one episode's plot and/or heartstring-tugging to be believed.

BSG has often been touted for its focus on humanity - no silly rubber masks and so on. But BSG's idea of "humanity" is extremely limited. Only the Greco-Roman heritage exists. There are a few faces of color, but zero culture exists but - essentially - white Western history. Anyone looking more diverse is merely assimilated, not actually representative of anything but the Greek (and LDS) traditions on display. Even the Cylons are strictly and entirely part of this tradition.

So ... in the entire universe, wherein they meet no form of life other than humans and Cylons (and what's the difference there being the final point of the whole series' arc, we really meet nothing but humans and watch them squabble) ... no form of culture exists, AT ALL, but this?

At least ST *tries* to represent diversity. Even when it fails (see also: kind of a lot of TNG), it attempts. (Though let it be said, I have diversity issues with ST; not least, the overwhelming tendency of black actors being put under layers of makeup to hide their faces altogether - ask me YET AGAIN why DS9 is my favorite series: see Benjamin Sisko and his son, and "Far Beyond the Stars", as well as *many* other episodes directly dealing with prejudice and bigotry, Earthly and otherwise. DS9 is notable for its redemptive treatment of the Ferengi, who were written as shameful stereotypes in other series.)

BSG's fleet is really just a construct. Apart from central cast and recurring characters, the forty-seven thousand (and less ... and less) survivors of humanities might as well be a pack of redshirts. Even with their avatar, "the press", they have almost no presence in the breathlessly emotional stories of Kara Thrace, Laura Roslin, the Adamas, the arbitrarily-assigned Final Five, and so on. It's a decent sized ensemble, but as a representation of all of humanity, the all of humanity part is pretty elusive. We *hear* about unrest and upheavals, but surprisingly often, we're told, not shown.

On one occasion we're shown - a young student assigned to a job he does not want because of his background, and his disgustingly contrived death because of that job - we might just as well be told, because it's insultingly badly done.

But the real question I have is ... why there must be a rivalry between BSG and Trek at all. Why people hold them up as opposites.

Ronald D. Moore alone is a major part of the DNA of all three ST series of the 1980s and 1990s, TNG, DS9, and Voyager. He's so much involved in BSG his image appears in the ending production titles on every dang episode.

The real wonder is how different they appear - or, at least , how differently they are received and perceived - given the commonalities.


Le Cinema Dreams has a guest contributor with a look at, of all things, Rocky. I understand the need for intimacy she describes.

Gawker has a hilariously straight-faced in depth report on the provenance of Donald Trump's ... let us call it "hair" ... I'm especially taken with the conspiracy-theory tinged feel of the investigation into the possible Man Behind the "Hair", right down to the detail about his name being Anglicized from Mohammed, which adds a particular whispered-schadenfreude fun to proceedings relating to the short-fingered vulgarian's racist spewings.

Who needs a little more history nerding for their TBR pile? Well, here you go - Paris, 1200. Do I need this? Why yes. Yes, I do. Worth another click: the link to a bit more about Ingeborg of Denmark. Ohhh, pre-modern European kings. When will you ever learn about this whole repudiating your wife thing?

And in local news? Redneck shit-hats take a page out of ISIS's book and loot the crap out of a national battlefield park just in time for Memorial Day. Because what could be klASSier than that?