Thursday, September 28, 2017


Marine biology geekness: Oct Tale of Two Cities ... Octlantis and Octopolis. I am not making this up. Even Sponge Bob isn't making everything up. Huh! (Plural-wise, though, they missed opportunities to use the super-fun word, "octopodes" ... oh well.) The click beyond - biomimetic architecture. SO COOL, and finally that word escapes Star Trek babble. Yay!

You can get the dirt off Donnie, but you can't get Donnie off the Dirt.
--RIP, Dirt Woman

And next, a tale of two dirties. It was a big deal around here - front page news - when Dirt Woman died. And there was a sort of bookend appropriateness to Hef, that dirty old man, dying right after. I won't link HH's obits; if you cared, you've read them - and I, frankly, do not. But Donnie? Yeah. RIP, with Dave Brockie, Donnie.

The Americans of, say, 1970 genuinely had more in common with each other than will the Americans of 2020. Their incomes banded more closely together, and so did their health outcomes. Almost all adults lived in married households; almost everyone watched one of three television evening news programs. These commonalities can be overstated, but they can also be overlooked. ... One more thing they had in common: a conviction that the future would be better than the past.

Sentence #2 above ... nobody has lost sight of the ravaging effects of wealth disparity, not only in the United States, but worldwide. As our lifestyles have diverged, the working class and poor have been left so far behind the famed one-percent, and the effect has been devastating. A worthwhile read (and possible TBR pile toppler) from The Atlantic - Politics must be affirmative. Opposition is a mood, not a program. (Personally, I'd put "obstructionism" in where opposition stands, but the point is well taken.) Two clicks beyond, for those really interested in layered views.

Pointing to the economic costs of bullying—in tandem with highlighting the psychological, physiological and academic ramifications—can be an effective way to garner high-level attention and spur positive change.

So what *does* bullying cost? Well, $276M in one single state alone - and that's just the K-12 educational budget. Add bullying in the work place, and the price of bullying becomes, at least for my wee and paltry brain, inconceivable. The cost in lives, of the contributions of those who are silenced, to the wellbeing of our community and culture ...

Monday, September 18, 2017


Great Zot in drag Heaven. Katya is Annie Lennox.

(Go to 1:00 below for the Lady Herself)

And now, if you'll excuse me, I really, REALLY need some purple eyeshadow and matching lipstick.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

More Space Nerding

Played this for my mom yesterday, we had a little fun. I am grateful, fortunate, and so glad my parents raised me with constant interest in nature and science, as well as art and people.

And here we have almost all of that, wrapped up in one clip.

Also: any questions why I love Star Trek?

Thursday, September 14, 2017


Look. I don't do the online crush thing, I really don't. But scrap the romance attached to "crush" and give me some leeway to crush away, because John Davis Frain just came up with the BEST TITLE EVER for a flash fiction piece, AND it all hinges on an Oxford comma. Glorious - go and enjoy this spiffy, quick read. And the click beyond? Special bonds with Mr. Schroedinger. Dead or alive. So. Many. Science jokes. Loving it!

(And, John? I swear I started this Collection post days before you stopped by and commented!)

We do not want to make public health recommendations based on five sponges from Germany

Who else loves to read the latest science or health/medicine headlines while indulging in many grains of salt? Have you ever joked about how eggs are healthy now, but used to be vicious little cholesterol time bombs? Or fat is good, but bad, but what'll it be next week? Welp, here's the latest - on "regularly cleaning" your kitchen sponge ... or not. Thanks go to NPR for actually looking at the science without taking too long a trip into the deep weeds.

Prayer where the gods moved the Earth. In another blow to the myth of The Dirty, Stupid Past, we find that ancient Greeks not only could identify tectonic zones, but may actually have sought this real estate as a sort of direct conduit to the worship. To caveat the point: this is another one of those may have done theories. I encourage anyone reading the link to do so critically (and not just because it's Newsweek), because correlation is not causality.

... and just a little more of the not-so-dirty, not-so-stupid past - a map drawn in the 1500s, which turns out to be accurate to modern satellite mapping. So, nearly half a millennium ago, we were not utter morons. Only our tools have changed. GO SCIENCE!

Still. It's an intriguing theory, and I am sometimes more interested in intriguing ideas than empirical proof, when it comes to history. Even those ideas I tend to dismiss, I can still enjoy thinking about. Even writing about. I mean: how irresistible, for a writer? To contemplate the characters, the place, the time - where earthquakes and the fear they engendered were manifestations of the divine? And this, fella babies, is why I say I am not an historian. It gives me the out to indulge creativity ...

Friday, September 8, 2017


(W)ealthy people manage their discomfort with inequality, which in turn makes that inequality impossible to talk honestly about — or to change.

Ooohh, this is interesting. When wealth is treated like dirty laundry - the elite distancing themselves from being elite. I am reminded of the little old lady guest star on Taxi, who expressed that she was "filthy comfortable." A well-written and considered piece on making class divides invisible. (Interesting too is the point that the women interviewed for this piece appear almost afraid of husbands finding out what they disclosed, even anonymously. "He would kill me.")

(T)he wholesale adoption of garbage disposers in all five boroughs could, in theory, significantly reduce waste, cut costs, and offer the city a highly efficient, alternative renewable energy source.
... and they weren't even LEGAL there until the nineties!

Am I the only dork who finds the environmental science of garbage disposals genuinely interesting? Probably not, as this is an article about it. The sheer volume of waste we produce - NYC's stats are startling indeed, not least in the financials - is stunning, and yet we really do not think about it much. Even as a single-person household, I feel like my volume of refuse is small, even in the recycling bin - but the proportion of it that is food IS terribly high. This owes to the fact that when I need to stop eating something, I do better to dispose of it than to save it for later, because later is all too often sooner than it should be. Oh the twisted psychology of American weight and trash ...

Speaking of weight, how about this piece of science? "A gallon of water weighs about 8.34 pounds. And by one estimate, Harvey dropped 33 trillion gallons of water--" ... and it turns out that upwards of three hundred trillion pounds of sudden weight gain can deform the crust of the Earth itself.

Let's not even ask where the bubble in the wallpaper might be. (Not in China, though the water-weight research there might be instructive for us, even though the context was the filling of a dam and not a massive storm.)

What can we learn from a refrigerator light bulb thirteen billion miles from Earth? Find out now, Voyager.

Women clad mostly in soft towels, softly filtered. Women smiling at salads. Stock photography: you've come a long way, baby. NYT has an interesting, inspiringly hopeful, look at this year's trend. The bits about babies and how images are used/by whom are not exactly progressive, but at least it's not all pearly-lighted, calm, blank naked shots anymore.


It's dangerous ground.

Writers sometimes find ourselves in territory that is upsetting, criminal, perverse, perilous. We address not merely human behavior, but the least-traveled corners of our minds, many of them deep in shadow. Sometimes, the shadow is time itself: an historical author, writing about a period with scant or no primary resources to research. Sometimes, the shadow is more elusive, and all the darker: those places we don't want to look.

Sometimes, the shadows are simply what we cannot bring ourselves to understand, because what lies outside the light we have is too disturbing.

You can't get to civilization except through human sacrifice.

I come from a family of teachers - scientists and historians, both vocational and avocational. My brother is an anthropologist and archaeologist. I obviously have a strong affinity for the study of history, even as I avow strenuously that this makes me no expert. With me, it's the difference between learning and interpreting.

With me, it's the realm of feeling.

Writing is a striving to understand.

And so (and yes, being dried up and childless undoubtedly affects this), having recently had a conversation in which the quote above played a thematic part, I have of late been trying to understand human sacrifice. Child sacrifice.

That I have a character from (post-sacrificial era) Carthage plays in, but the immediate dynamics of her life are unrelated to this practice.

That no reading on the subject you can find with ease seems able to address it without the use of the word "bloodthirsty" - and why that frustrates me - is much more the crux.

We've lost much of the concept of "SACRIFICE", in modern America. The word is bandied about, and people even give of themselves; I don't mean to say the practice, the impulse, is dead.

But the sacred tenet of SACRIFICE - the actual blood, and giving-up and giving-over - this is something we all but revile.

Americans today, meat-eating or not, consider the idea of killing an animal and offering it to G-d antiquated beyond all propriety. It is offensive to such a degree we unthinkingly find it actually immoral - pagan - barbaric - every word of which I choose carefully, and y'all can see with an easy click what I think of "barbaric" in particular, and any cursory reader must be able to guess what I think of "pagan". The judgment is so deep even the words we've loaded up with pejorative meaning are only tools to load the concepts we apply them to.

It's all denial. The need to distance and to Other a thing, so that we may prove our credentials in fitting the current definition of morality, or rectitude, or just fitting in.

The very idea of understanding taboos has become outre' - to understand barbarity is to know it, and to know it is to be guilty of it. And we don't like to claim, to admit, culpability.

There's a screed in there on contemporary politics, but that is not today's text.

And so, we have avidly removed ourselves from the deeply human impulse to (blood) sacrifice.

It's cruel.

It's ignorant.

It's extraneous (and not merely in secularists' minds).


But the real study of human sacrifice - of child sacrifice - is not one of BLOODTHIRST: it is the revelation of what a society, what an individual, values most highly.

One of my recent readings of Carthaginian child sacrifice stated that parents gave up their children as lightly as if it were nothing. Even provided the queasy observation that child sacrifice worked for the city as population control, and actually conferred benefits on the society there over time.

The fact is, population control may have been some sort of benefit of child sacrifice.

But no society kills off its young without any greater justification than that ... even if it does factor into wider dynamics, to kill our fellow citizens, to kill our offspring is no light matter - no matter of logistics, especially in a city known for centuries for its wealth and culture. A parent might expose a child for many reasons, or sell into bondage, or abort, or kill with their own hands, in desperation and penury. But the development of ritual and sacrifice are not matters of immediate need, and centuries of religious practice are not explained by civic planning, nor by bloodthirst.

Religion is developed in OFFERING, not murder. Sacrifice is transactional, but with the Divine, not with mankind, not with our neighbors. We develop faith and religion along *with* our neighbors, but its practice is actually pointed elsewhere.

The simple idea of giving up what means the most to us is washed out at the time we live in now. And not the objects we think we love, and imbue with emotion, but things more ineffable, more genuinely powerful.

Things with life. Things with souls.

Sacrifice is the commitment to our god(s) to give up a part of our hearts, perhaps something that grew from the deepest loves we have known. In the case of a child, the very living fruit of consummation, which itself means so much to us, in all its good and ill and hardship.

The sacrifice is TREASURE.

The seed germinating in a shadow, in this writer, in the dark loam of my mind and my own heart - is a story of sacrifice.

Of what it means to consign love itself, and life itself, in worship.

Of - not the thirst for, but the *price*, the bone-deep value, the cost we set on giving to that we adore. Of the dust on the fingers, the stones on the ground, the orange, windy sky, and the young eyes ... of giving.

And how that is forgotten. And those fingers will be remembered only for barbarity. Bloodthirst.

Monday, September 4, 2017


Well, crap on a damn cracker, it's 1982 all over again. Ya know, even I thought this was a bit old fashioned. Shame to be wrong. But apparently, women still have to invent men to stand behind while they actually get things done.

I seriously CAN NOT.

Oh, but wait, there's more.

The majority of women came from outside the area, probably from Bohemia or Central Germany, while men usually remained in the region of their birth. This so-called patrilocal pattern combined with individual female mobility was not a temporary phenomenon, but persisted over a period of 800 years during the transition from the Neolithic to the Early Bronze Age.

So, women on the move formed a major part of the fundamentals of European culture and history. Literally "go" women!

... and more ...

GEE. I wonder why sexual harassment is so common in SFF events. Any questions about it?

Okay. How about another look at gender stuff, but a much more interesting, curious, and historical one? On the gender crime of witchcraft - a good, not-too-long, and wittily written piece about the evolution of its association with women.