Things I’ve Learned About Recovery

Indulge me.  Some of these are actually funny.  And if I’m whining too much, just tell me so.  The Ambulatory Mollusc will have book plugs later.  For now, here are some surprising things I’ve learned about recovery.  ((Mind you, I’ve had major surgery — Caesarean — once before, but then there was a new born and also I was recovering from Pre-eclampsia, so the entire time is foggy.  I have a vague memory it was a year before I could get up before noon, which clearly isn’t the case now.)

1- Even while not on Opiates, my brain is dropping and/or forgetting things.  It’s like a preview of dementia.  Mind you I’m normally scatterbrained while writing, so the family might not see any difference, but it bugs me.

2- Having a sixteen pound cat jump on you might cause major damage.

3- My men have really weird ideas of where things go in the kitchen.

4- When Disney comics become too intricate to follow, it’s time for a nap.

5- my natural writing-burst length has become a 100 words.  Don’t like.  Contains live bobcat.  Would not order again.

6- Cabin fever strikes even while I’m sick.

7 – I need a minder.

7a- I need a minder because I can never remember when I last took the meds I’m supposed to be on.  That one of these falls in the night is a problem, as I often dream I took it.  I’m counting pills a lot.

7b- I need a minder because if I get even slightly tired, I’m exactly like other people when drunk.  (Explanation — when drunk, unless there’s complications, like pills I forgot I’d taken — I just become relentlessly dry and logical)  I.e. last night the “Hillary wiped her server” set me off and I spent the rest of the evening manufacturing increasingly goofy memes with bad Hillary pictures until I couldn’t see.  Could have been worse.  I could have put on a snazzy hat and gone directing traffic at a nearby intersection.  This seems to be what drunk people do in Portugal.

7c – I need a minder because logic isn’t working right, so I make the weirdest leaps in thought, and then can’t retrace them.  This led to the famous “where’s your antibiotic, Sarah?”  “Don’t know.  Might have given it to a passing stranger.”

8 – It seemed perfectly logical for me to assume that my doctor was delusional when she said it turned into abdominal (non laparoscopic) surgery.  I couldn’t find the scar, so I thought she’d dreamed it (hey, seemed reasonable.  Remember I was high as a kite.)  Well, lost some weight, found the incision, which is bigger than my Caeserean one.  Of course now it hurts.  I hate my mind so much.

9- I have less will power.
This is a problem whether the thing I need will power for is not eating the wrong stuff or not snapping some idiot’s head off on facebook.  Yeah, I probably should stay off facebook, or at least off arguments.

10 – I am a freak of nature.  My dad, with whom I get very well along otherwise, used to introduce me to people with “This is my daughter, she doesn’t like TV”  I think he evolved it as a way of warning people that small talk about soap operas or detective serials wouldn’t work.  However the effect was more “See the two headed freak.”  Normally this doesn’t bother anyone, except sometimes Dan has to point out I wouldn’t know actors if they bit me in the *ss.  Because asking me “You KNOW, John Von Blob, wasn’t he in Three Sheets To The Wind?” Just gets you a blank look.  So, how does this tie in to the situation?
Apparently the way most Americans recover from surgery is a movie-coma.  Everyone and their brothers is recommending series/other stuff.

a) I’m not visual. This means it takes me more effort to CARE about the story on the screen.  Most of the stuff I’ve “watched” (Buffy was the last one to catch me, I think) I actually “listen” to, because I’m doing something else, with occasional glances at the screen.

b) Most tv has embedded Marxist messages which most of you might not get.  But I was bitten by Marxist dialectic early in life.  So I see them.  And then I want to throw stuff through the TV.  Besides the fact this would make Dan sad, think what it would do to my incisions.

c) TRUST me when I say if you know how to plot a book most tv plots are so predictable it makes your eyes glaze.  Now, if this is something like “love affair predictable” that’s fine.  But most of those have those pesky messages.  See b.

d) Most of what I enjoy watching are mystery series/movies, and I’ve watched all of those I can tolerate.

11 – I can write, I just need to watch it because of those weird leaps of logic, so I can’t write anything I care about just now.  This has led to some experimental stuff.  (No, I’m not sharing.  Well, maybe if you’re very good.)

12- This too shall pass.  Eventually I’ll get the other house done, with directing the guys or not, and it will be for sale.  Eventually novels will be finished (well maybe not Through Fire.  Might be cursed.

In the mean time, I’ll wend my loopy, ill-controlled way to recovery.  There’s going to be a lot of documentaries, Disney comics, stupid memes (some even non-political) and cat pictures, though.

Bear with me.bear it



A Genre by any other name By Tom Knighton

*Apologies to Tom for putting this up so late.  I can’t even say I wasn’t awake, but for medication reasons I still haven’t had coffee, and I’m prone to just sit and derp without it.*

A Genre by any other name

By Tom Knighton


Tell someone that you’re writing or have written a novel, they’re likely to ask “What genre?” Well, unless you’re dealing with someone like the Books-A-Million employee who responded to a question about novels with, “What? You mean, like, fiction?” They don’t count. Most people know novel equals fiction, and fiction is cut up into genres.

The idea of grouping books into genres is a marketing tool. People who like books about going into space and battling aliens may not be the same people who are interested in a sweet love story about a woman and her probation officer, so they group books together to make it easier for readers to find the kinds of books they want.

However, even this doesn’t always work.

Recently, I got a review on one of my post-apocalyptic stories claiming that I was trying to cash in on the prepper subculture with my story. He made a claim about something in the book being implausible that, well, I’ve done a few times so I know it’s plausible.

So what happened?

Genres are, for good reason, pretty broad. There’s a reason that Alas, Babylon and The Earth Abides are in the same genre with Starship Troopers and 2001: A Space Odyssey. They all deal with fiction where scientific things play a key role.

However, things get dicey when readers get their own opinions of what a genre, or a subgenre, actually should entail. In my own example, I apparently had a reader who figures indie published “post-apocalyptic” to mean “prepper” fiction. As such, he read the story through that lens, and was disappointed. Rather than read about the character throwing the canned goods in the average American household in the pack (which isn’t that much food, really), he may have figured his own well stocked pantry, hence his assumption that walking afterwards was implausible.

Now, before anyone assumes I’m bellyaching about this review, I’m not. It pointed out my own failings in writing the story, namely that I wasn’t more specific as to the quantities involved here. I’ll take that hit and learn from it.

What I’m doing, however, is pointing out how a reader’s assumptions must also factor into how an indie writer markets their work.

If your readers believe that thrillers always have what one author refers to as “manly men doing manly things in manly ways” and you introduce a female protagonist, you’re going to have some difficulties with these readers. That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it. In fact, I have a cousin with a book in the works right now that does just that…and it sounds AWESOME! She’s like the anti-James Bond, but in meaningful ways. Not a whiff of SJW-dom in it when he and I chatted about it.

The difference is, my assumptions for the genre are very different than those belonging to some other people. Theoretically. (No, I don’t know anyone who classifies any genre in such a way.)

As indies, there will be some assumptions to be made regardless of genre. Some readers will seek out typos as proof we didn’t get editors, for one. Those are going to be there for a while, despite the fact that even the Big Five are letting through a lot of typos as well. We just have to deal with it and move on.

But we can be cognizant of their expectations. This is also why it’s important to read within your genre. How else are you going to know that genre’s conventions and clichés if you don’t actually read them?

It would be nice if there were a pile more choices available for subgenres. I’d love it if prepper fiction and post-apocalyptic were separated. We would all appreciate it if “socially conscious” science fiction wasn’t lumped in with the awesome stuff most of us grew up loving.

As a reader, I would really love this, though it wouldn’t do much for the willfully clueless.

There is one writer of certain infamy that some of you may be familiar with. He’s notorious for lashing out at his critics. I won’t mention his name, because it’s believed that uttering his name will summon him from the nine pits of hell. Or Maine. Either/or, really.

Regardless, he wrote a book about his “good girl” protagonist that sort of absorbs an entity she calls HAL. She uses the power she gains from this, which is supposedly limitless, to solve problems all over the world and stuff.

Most here see this description and see it as science fiction. I know I do. A number of other people as well. A few others have argued it could qualify as young adult due to the protagonist being an 18 year old female. A case could be made for it being a kid’s book due to the writing style.

Nope. This author slapped his book down as women’s lit.

Yeah…let that sink in for a bit.

His argument is that because she’s a woman, it’s women’s lit. Of course, he also argues that his book is sooooooo much more different than anything that’s ever been published before that it defies genre or something, but anyways. He’s ignored any advice to the contrary.

What we have is a book that meets the conventions from one genre slapped down into a completely unrelated genre. Even if he’d written one of the greatest books in history (and trust me, he didn’t. Not even close), no one would bother. Would you read a book plopped down in a genre it didn’t belong in if you weren’t into that kind of book?

For the willfully clueless, there’s no amount of expansion that will do any good. This author would have still plopped his science fiction kids’ book in women’s lit no matter what. As a reader, the willfully clueless will always be a problem. They drop whatever they want, wherever they want, and we’re expected to like it.

Luckily, they’re the minority. Most of the time, it’s just a misunderstanding between what two people think a genre entails. If I weren’t such a libertarian, I’d say that there ought to be a law. Of course, then we know things would get screwed up. Nothing gets so messed up as when the government gets involved.

Bright Lines

First an apology for being so late.  Tom Knighton sent me a guest post, and Bob sent me one a while back, and I have one from Chris Nuttall, but as I’ve said before, I don’t like giving my guests short shrift by putting them up late.  And I was all set to put up Tom’s post last night, when I suddenly found myself in bed.  I guess it’s like that.

I should explain this was actual abdominal surgery and not entirely laparoscopic.  Which explains the slower recovery.

Also, while I’m now at a point I can survive without percocet  which is good because it makes me feel like I just downed three whiskeys on an empty stomach, I came to the conclusion last night — exhausted and unable to sleep — that I still needed Super Motrim (I always imagine the bottle wearing a little cape!) Mind you, if past experience is a guide, percocet will take a week to work itself out of my system, so until then I’m getting a mini-preview of extreme old age or at least dementia.  The whole “I can put my keys down in an empty room and ten minutes later I can’t find them” thing that the late (great) Terry Pratchett talked about.  This is okay, as it provides amusement for the whole family.  For instance when the bottle of antibiotic went missing last night, I had to confess not only didn’t I know what I’d done with it, but it was equally plausible I’d a) put it somewhere in the house, b) given it to a passing stranger  c) thrown it in the trash d) pitched it from an upstairs window.

Turned out btw that that one wasn’t my fault.  The guys have been pictching in to keep the house running while I’m down, and Older Son is… thorough.  So in cleaning the kitchen, he’d put it with the other medicine bottles.

Anyway, all that behind us, taking the pain killer meant I slept very deeply and very long (since I only took it at midnight) which means I’m late with this.  I’m sorry.

However the digression brings us to today’s post.  You see, percocet (really any opiates for me) does something to my mind that means I do stuff on automatic, stuff I wouldn’t normally consider doing.  On a normal day, no matter how hassled, I wouldn’t have considered whether I might have run out of the front door and given the bottle to a passing stranger.  On percocet?  Totally possible.

It reminds me of the recovery from concussion, a time at which to judge from the record, I not only half finished three novels of which I have no memory (one isn’t half bad, but I had to check that it wasn’t Amanda Green’s.  Our style is similar enough and I didn’t remember writing this at all), no, I also wrote a full medieval romance.  (Yes, yes, I know, but I have to read it to edit, and the whole thought of medieval romance makes my skin itch.  To make things worse it seems to be B & D in the middle ages.  Apparently my suppressed subconscious is kinky as all get out.  Who knew?)

It is a trope in books to say that you won’t do anything in an altered state you wouldn’t do in your normal state.  I have absolutely no clue if that’s true, and I sorta kinda doubt it.


Because while that might be true for normal (what I’d call non-induced) hypnotic states, I do know that these drugs (percocet possibly included) can scramble your brain and put it together again.  And I have a vague memory of Heinlein in more than one book talking about how some drugs could break you and then put you together the way they want you to be together.  Now he was extrapolating to the future, but we are in his future, and … call it a sneaky suspicion.

Older Son has been reading medical journals since he was 10, and he might be able to tell me whether this is true or not, but he was working till the wee hours and I don’t want to wake him.

However, I can tell you, as a writer, there are bright lines you can’t have a character cross.  In other words, while it might be possible to make your character do whatever in an altered state, you can’t do it and keep your readership.  (Though Good Lord, can I imagine a descent to hell story in which I write a character and force him to do what would break him in a situation where he can’t stop himself.  To an extent that’s what Vampire musketeers was supposed to be with the third book the rise to redemption.  Should I ever get my rights to it back, I’ll finish it.  Because descent to hell without redemption is not how I write.  Period.  It’s not what I believe in.)

So?  What does this have to do with the real world?

Oh, a lot of things, as we discuss the “genius” exchange of high ranking enemy for one of our deserters and people say but poor thing, he had PTSD.

First of all, he couldn’t have PTSD unless he came pre-PTSDed or was a bubble boy unable to face reality in any way.  Or to put it another way, hundreds of thousands endured worse and served with honor; if he couldn’t the defect was with him, not his stars.

That said, I know what it’s like to be in life or death situations.  I know what it’s like to be shot at.  You do things you wouldn’t normally do, in ways you wouldn’t even consider normally.  And that’s fine.  It’s not, as all the movies are so fond of portraying a form of madness, and at least for me, in those situations, the “there are lines you can’t cross without breaking” applies.

I have great sympathy for things do in extreme stress, the point at which the animal takes over and you act out of sheer raw need for survival, which sometimes makes you do things you would disapprove of sternly in “real life.”  There is an unending room for dealing with that in fiction.  And if you know any vets, particularly WWII vets, because a lot went on in that war that was never mentioned, and you know the point at which they go very quiet when telling a story, you know they hit one of those places, and the memory is a hard thing to integrate.

In the same way I have great sympathy for Stockholm Syndrome.  It is the reason I forgive a lot of my colleagues when they go on crazy anti-Amazon and “why only traditional publishers are teh awesome” rants.  I spent enough time there that I understand that entire identifying yourself with your tormentors really.  (And yep, always excepting Baen, geesh.)

But there are still bright lines.  There are things that you look at and say “OMG, no.”

Off the top of my head, child murder is one of those.  I don’t really care how crazy you are.  You don’t kill children, period.  And if you do it, you need to either be put away for life or be put down.  (And I must be a curious kind of person, because in my case, I’d prefer to be put down.  I mean, imagine they cured you.  Would you want to live knowing what you’ve done?)

Child rape is another.  People can talk themselves into all sorts of crazy things, but look, I read an article saying pedophilia is not a crime, it’s a condition.  Oh, granted, and of course.  It’s one of the reasons I approve of allowing them to have CGI porn in which no children are harmed.  But the minute they act on it outside their own head, they’ve become a danger to society; they’ve become a predator amid the flock.  So while I think the various sex offender registries are insane (guys can be put on it, by taking a wizz in public and someone seeing them) and while I in general disapprove of government solutions and of “lock them and throw away the key” and while I realize that it’s not a fault of their own, I think anyone with the condition and unable to control him/herself (we’re finding there’s a lot of herselfs, now that the schools are dominated by female teachers.  Who knew?) should be locked up for the good of the society AND THEMSELVES.

Another unforgivable crime, another bright line that can’t be crossed, in my mind, is ingratitude and betrayal.  I can completely understand killing someone in a fight, or someone you’ve had a long dispute with.  I can’t forgive or understand deceiving someone and killing/harming him/her.  Yeah, even animals.  If I lured a tame animal somewhere to kill, I’d never live with myself.  In fact, all forms of child abuse are a form of betrayal, because they don’t expect harm.  And a lot of forms of adult-abuse.  It’s what makes elder-abuse and family crime so horrific.

The thing is, the people who think everything is a condition and we’re all tainted, and no one can ever refrain from doing the most horrific things are partly right.

They’re right to the extent that given enough incentive/stimulus which might include powerful drugs, most of us can do things that cross those bright lines in our mind: things that break us; things we disapprove of.

They’re wrong where they think that everyone will do these at the slightest provocation; that humans are just savages waiting for an opportunity.  Some humans, maybe.  But humans vary and for some of us those lines are so bright we’ll never even experience the temptation unless we’re fundamentally broken already.  And some of us experience temptations but can hold back (one of us, here, behind the eyes at one time thought she’d never reach thirty without killing someone) and do, even when the temptation is overwhelming.

This is called being civilized.  It’s called having bright lines in your head that it takes breaking you to making you cross.

I don’t understand people who don’t know that state exists.  In my mind, they’re jellyfish, formless and spineless, floating on a current of desires and stimulus.  And I don’t even know if it’s true that they can’t control themselves, or if they have become convinced that controlling yourself is undesirable, somehow.

I do know, in either case that such a state of non-control, of free floating impulse and action, is inimical to the state in which humans can live together peaceably.  And since I think that for 99% of the people (i.e. those of normal brain structure) control is possible, I think we have to stop whining about excuses: about triggers and ptsd, about conditions and helplessness.

I don’t mean all of this should be from the realm of law enforcement.  I think society needs to get a grip and stop looking for fuzzy cozy excuses for those who cross the bright lines.  It should also start emphasizing good behaviors.

If you grew up dirt poor, but your parents emphasized books and education you shouldn’t be told you have “white privilege” (particularly if you’re latino or black.)  You should instead be told how lucky you were to have the parents you did, and how much you should carry that on to your kids, as should everyone.  Because learning and education are habits that help keep the inner impulses of the untamed human at bay.

The same with thrift, deferred gratification, and refraining from violence.  They’re all habits and most humans can learn them.

And as for deserting, most military people even those raised by hippies, manage to refrain from it too.

PTSD might be an explanation, but it’s still not an excuse.

For that particular critter, for us, or for our civilization or what’s left of it.

The fuzzy people (well, it works.  Their hygiene is often spotty enough) accuse us of seeing the world in black and white.  This is not true.  I see infinite shades and colors and a lot of things I disapprove of but can forgive and empathize with.  But I also see the bright lines that cannot be crossed without destroying the individual and society itself.

It takes a special kind of blindness to turn all that into a vague fog of shades of grey. And it’s a blindness that kills civilization.

The Freedom to Dream

So the endless recovery – tm — comes with a load of depression. I’ve been assured this is normal (oh, no. Tell me it’s abnormal. At least I’ll feel like I’m unique.)

Part of the way depression manifests in me as thinking everything I do is bad, and everything and everyone around me is tarnished by my incompetence, and…

Yes, I do know what part is real and what part is Memorex, because being me requires me to spend an enormous amount of time watching myself and making sure I’m not telling myself stories. Because it’s so easy to do.

I have been thinking of that – for obvious reasons – because of the whole “drinking your own ink” effect of our elites, and also because I’m thinking of stories in relation to culture and how to change culture with stories, and how that is in fact the only way to change it in the long run.

Not that the culture is ever exactly like the stories. I mean, look, if you don’t believe me go read a bio of Leonardo Da Vinci from the Renaissance, one from the Victorian age and one from our own time. You’ll see the gloss that was “approved” at the time. (It is common to blame Victorians for doing this, but every culture does it. Ours delights in picking on scabs and trying to bring geniuses down to our pedestrian level.)

Part of what’s fueling the depression is that I really want to write, but even doing these posts makes me nauseated. I think that is partly the effort of thinking through painkillers and partly the fact that I bet my astigmatism has changed completely yet again (the sort of seasick nausea is typical of when my astigmatism is out of whack.) This is to be expected since it changes with every hormonal shift and has been in continuous change the last two years – so bad I can only drive for a month or two after new glasses – and there’s nothing to be done there, because I am not going to get new glasses until April 30th to make sure I’m past all of it, because I can’t afford to. So. So I’ll have to bite the bullet.

Anyway, so instead of writing, because I can’t force myself to sleep all the time, I’m watching a lot of documentaries while sitting on a recliner. If you want the full horror of this you should shashay over to mad genius club, where I describe some of the gems.

But the documentary I watched tonight is about the terracotta army, which was apparently built by the first emperor, a tyrannical warlord that conquered China by the force of arms.

Note that one of the things he did first (and a lot of his successors did) was burn books and forbid grannies to tell stories. This means he knew the importance of stories, and when he was making a country out of many warrying states, he wanted to make sure the only tales were the ones he allowed.

The other thing was the terracotta army. I don’t know how widespread belief in an after life was in China at that time, but it clearly existed, and he believed in it enough to conscript hundreds of thousands to build him an army to protect him after death.

None of us has been there. We might have experienced supernatural (I have) but these things are possible of other explanations. So what he believed in, heart and soul (and fortune) was a story. A story that (probably) turned out to be wrong (unless there are realms where those terracotta warriors mean something.)

The Egyptian elite did something similar.

I don’t want you to consider it (just) from the point of view of drinking your own ink, though both of these were insular cultures that considered themselves superior to every other. But I don’t want to mock even their religious beliefs, simply because that is a realm where none of us can say we know how others are dealt with or in what way things are arranged. Yes, I know what I believe, but I have friends who believe vastly differently, and Himself up there, if He’s there, is a multidimensional time-ignoring creature and who wants to second guess Him? Or who can even approximate His thoughts?

No. What I want you to think about are these powerful rulers, facing the ultimate oblivion. And all that stands between them and the eternal is ultimately a thin veneer of story.

Enough story to conscript massive resources he could have better employed.

Faith? I wouldn’t call it that.

He didn’t go willingly, precisely. He wanted to live forever, which seems to be a peculiar Chinese madness.

But he needed that story to take him into the darkness.

And he knew the power of stories because he burned the stories that opposed them.

For decades now, our gatekeepers have been involved in an attempt to forge a people without past (or future) by metaphorically destroying or making inaccessible all the stories that don’t support the narrative they want us to believe. News, History, Stories, even religion, they’ve tried to deprive us of all of them (one of these is the however many ways to die in the west, which is trying to destroy our idea of the old west as a land of heroes.)

And now we have the internet.

I don’t know how long the freedom will last (I would bet it will be restored, if it fails) but I know they’re trying to clamp down on it already.

I also know the more widespread the use of these free means of communication, in story and news, in history and eventually perhaps in movie, too, the harder for them to snuff it out fully.

So run like the wind my friends, and sow story to the winds in all your voices.

To change a culture in a short time (and they’re betting on a short time) they need that single focus. They need to “burn” everything they disagree with, by either making inaccessible or discrediting it.

Read the forbidden. It puts hair on your chest and gives the SJWs the vapors (not that this is difficult.)

Stay free.


Becoming America

I am one of those people who doesn’t get along with her body. Or, as my son calls it “inadvertent suicides” by which he means in his work at the emergency room he sees many people come in who are at or almost near the point of death but who put off coming in because they were convinced that their symptoms were “nothing.”

I add another layer to that in that I don’t trust my body further than I can throw it, and at the current avoir du pois I can’t jump that far. I.e. I expect my body to be influenced by my mind and my mind is full of iniquity. It wouldn’t be the first time I tried to write something that I darn well DIDN’T WANT to write, and my body did the good ol’ shut down and “we’re going to turn off in five minutes.”

Well, maybe that wasn’t true. Because you see, there’s always another way to look at it. That’s what I assumed the problem was at the time, but it now seems fairly sure I was actually in horrible shape, and could sort of force myself to write books I really wanted to write, but the others just let the body win, because the body was all screwed up.

In fact, in view of recent discoveries, it’s a miracle I’ve functioned as well as I have for the last 15 years or so, and not a surprise at all it came to near total shutdown these last two years.

That’s not the subject, here, but it is important to know that every time we find out there was a reason behind behavior I had trouble combating, I am relieved: it wasn’t my fault after all. I’m not trying to avoid work, and I’m not very lazy. There is a physical root to all these troubles, and the route can be taken care of.

Even if the route couldn’t be taken care of, it would be a relief to know it wasn’t my fault. And I probably could fight it better knowing it was “real.”

Maybe I’m peculiarly put together (No duh, Sarah?), maybe not. Even if I am peculiarly put together, we all know our country is peculiarly put together too.

(Yeah, I heard that “What?” Bear with me. I haven’t had Percocet since last night having reached the point the pain is preferable to the nausea, but it takes a while to clear from the system.)

Part of the problem with self government is that we each of us blame ourselves for the mess we’re in. Actually what is really funny for people my generation is that we tend to blame ourselves for pretty much everything.

The problem with taking a snapshot of the country as it is in this position in time and seeing all the problems is that we tend to despair. You hear all the variants “Oh, look, the thing is, the country isn’t the same it wasn’t at the founding, and so…”

No, and that’s a given. Fortunately humanity, technology and the world aren’t what they were at the founding, either. (Trust me, you wouldn’t like it.)

And the US IS change. We’re an engine of change in the world, which is why someone either Bill Whittle or Ed Driscol, (can’t remember. Percocet) coined the phrase that “the future comes from America.”

We are the scary-serious kid who not only comes in and takes the lead in the class, but who is always inventing new things no one would have thought of without him.

The problem is this: the ideas of our founding, that grand resounding poetry of the declaration of independence are so new, so strange, so revolutionary that it couldn’t come to fruition in the world as it was now.

I’ll let CACS talk about it some time, but the more I study, the more I see those grand ideas honored more in the breach.

Becoming America is a job of retreat and stumble, of standing up and of crawling, of moving by inches towards being what we said we were, and of being buffeted almost all the way back.

You can read the history, it’s there. From the Alien and Sedition act, to situations as dire as the Woodrow Wilson Admnistration. And then the interesting vortex of soviet propaganda and population glut of the sixties which seems to be destroying our culture from within.

But it isn’t. Or not really. It’s just another step on the road to becoming America. Okay, maybe it’s the baseball bat to the face and set back six feet. But the game started LONG before anyone now alive was born. And it will go on long after we’re dead.

Think of it as sort of my relationship with my body. By all that’s right and holy, born at home, in the middle of winter, extremely premature, I shouldn’t have survived the night. I certainly shouldn’t have functioned enough to finish elementary school, much less advanced studies. I spent the greatest part of my childhood on bed rest, though that’s not the part I remember (Though it’s why I’m bookish, I think. Otherwise I’d never have stopped long enough to learn to read.) And most of my life has been negotiated against the perpetually breaking down body.

But if you don’t know that, if you don’t see, as I do (and despair of) the long periods of silence and illness, it seems like I’m always on the go.

Because there’s things I must do to be me. So I do them. When I can. The hardest thing being to have patience and to take it slow with the down periods.

America is like that too, because it’s such a huge idea it has trouble fitting in with the human condition.

Which is why we go through some pretty dark periods.

It might look like the end, but it’s not, because our founding is one of those ideas that once unleashed on the world can’t be put down. We just have to figure out how to bring reality in conformance to it. And a great part of the despair is that we (my generation in particular) feel guilty. We weren’t taught. We didn’t know. We collaborated with the enemy unknowing.

But all that is small, in the spread of time from the founding and the spread of the time to the future. And we were just picking up the standard where it lay, and now we’re carrying it. The game will go on a long time. We shouldn’t try and can’t expect to win it all today.

The patient has been sick a long time. We must be tolerant of relapses and naps.

Teach your children well!

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Don’t despair. You’re not supposed to do all of it today. It doesn’t all rest on your shoulders. Be patient with the foibles of humanity. Be patient with our occasional crawls in the mud. See where the standard bearer last fell. Pick up the flag and run with it.

America comes from the future, and that’s where we’re headed. That future where we’ll finally figure out how to live up to our founding.

Lift that flag. We’re becoming America.

Creative Destruction – Cedar Sanderson

Creative Destruction – Cedar Sanderson


I was introduced to this term this week when I was invited to create a presentation for a panel of this title. I’d never heard it before, and didn’t know precisely what it was all about, but the summary I was given sparked my imagination.

What can destructive forces create? What can they precipitate from the solution, sparking the coalescence of something new, and sometimes unpredictable, from human civilization catalyzed with tragedy?

I began my presentation with the Black Death in Europe. It’s the little things in life; that kill us and change our world. Fleas, in this case, carrying a disease between rats and humans. The numbers are soft, but estimates range around 25 million deaths from that epidemic, during the time it raged hotly over the continent, and many hundreds of thousands more in the centuries after. However, in the wake of all the death and destruction, there was change.

It is arguable that the Black Death led to the fall of serfdom, as labor was no longer readily and cheaply available – there simply weren’t enough bodies left standing. The plague led to the fall of the Roman Catholic Empire as it was, and the rise of Protestantism. And in a burst of pure creativity of the Arts, the Black Death led to the Renaissance, Shakespeare, and the glory that was that movement in art and literature.

But it was not the first time the plague had touched Western Civilization. Around 600 ad, the Justinian plague had struck, felling what was left of the Roman Empire, and establishing the course of the initial burst of European world domination. Both pandemics were much, much later confirmed to have the same originator, Yersinia pestis. It is the microscopic things.

There’s a song, which I can’t remember all the lyrics to (and I don’t know who performs it) but this much I recall: War! What is it good for?

The answer is deeply complex. I will leave the political and social considerations aside to talk about the benefits to medicine. Indeed, most modern medicine has been altered in some way by battlefield hospital needs. But during the Crimean War, death skyrocketed. Not from wounds received in battle, but disease. Florence Nightingale, who most people think of as the Mother of Nursing, was also responsible for mothering another field of medicine as she plotted when and why men were dying, and ferreted out the correlations and causations. It was war that led Florence Nightingale to leave her comfortable home and give birth to Epidemiology.

But a virus can also end a war. World War I, or the Great War, might have dragged on and on into the Eternal War, had not the influenza pandemic of 1918 taken all the wind out of the warring nation’s sails with the deaths of millions of relatively young and healthy people. And in an example of how telling the truth can sometimes get you in trouble: Spain was initially blamed for the pandemic, because they were a neutral nation, and their reporters were allowed to talk about the sickness, unlike those of France, Germany, and the US.

And enduring myth – one that is still taught in schools, is that disease helped conquer the ‘New World’ (in reality, an old one, just like buying a used car, you still call it the New Car) as the European explorers brought previously unknown diseases with them to the shores. The reality is that the Incas fell to a vastly inferior Spanish force because they had been racked with a ten-year drought, and a plague epidemic. Many other diseases were endemic to the region, and famine was Death’s stalking-horse long before Europe got involved.

In return for the new diseases, the trade went both ways. Europeans took home many new and interesting things from the ‘New World’ including foodstuffs. Sometime later, after the aristos with their financial interest in marketing the new foods made potatoes popular (Marie Antoinette, in an effort to popularize the potato, wore potato flowers in her hair), the inevitable happened. Overreliance on one crop, and that crop was struck down with a plant epidemic – the potato blight. Back to the ‘New World’ only now it was starving, desperate men and women, serving terms of indenturement that was virtually slavery, sold into servitude by the failure of a food crop.

We rarely consider what would happen should a viroid (a plant virus) get loose and strike down one of the ‘staff of life’ foodstuffs that virtually the entire world depends on. The Staff of Life was almost kicked out from under us once, when wheat rust threatened to diminish the food produced by the US and shipped globally. Only through the efforts of a small team including Norman Borlaug (the Father of the Green Revolution), a process that took fourteen years, was wheat bred into a more resistant variety and stopped the threat of the rust. Borlaug went on to help countries like Pakistan and India develop their agriculture to the point of self-sufficiency, and that came from the threatened ruin of wheat rust.

I ended by talking about telomeres. The heterochromatic caps that protect the tips of our chromosomes, they do not replicate because they are so compressed, and as they wear away with age, we slowly self-destruct. Yet in that destruction, is there not also creativity? Would we be so driven to write, to create art, to live with passion, if we knew we had more time? In our own destruction, we create new life, and know that life is good, and will endure.

Trips Down Memory Lane

I must admit that though I learned to read sometime between four and six, I learned to read Disney comics.  it was easy, after having the stuff read to me so much to sort of remember the words that went with the actions.

My brother did character voices, which made it easier to remember.  After that I read Disney comics whenever I didn’t have much mental space for anything else.  This is weird since — unlike my kids — I never got into “people” comics, which included mystery comics (really big in Portugal) and romance comics.  As for superhero comics, I liked Superman.  Also, for a brief time there was a comic series that might have been Brazilian or Portuguese (or at least I haven’t been able to trace it in the US) called something like Heroes of Atlantis.  When Atlantis was doomed, a few people managed to save themselves in a secret base under the North Pole, while most of the survivors descended into barbarism.  Over time the ones preserving civilization (and living essentially forever) become “gods” of ancient myth and go around the world, doing good and having adventures.  By the time I read that one I was deep into mythology, and I liked the not-quite resonance, which you often also get in fantasy and science fiction.

But the duck comics remained favorites, because they’re introductions to “geek culture” as well as very easy to digest.  Whenever I was “fried” (and given my school load, I was often fried) I’d read the comics.

Years later, in the US, I found myself with the problem of getting younger son to read.  Because verbal is not his main thing, he managed to get past the complexity of books he could actually read.  What I mean is, he was at a level to read picture books, but they bored him stiff.  His mind was not interested in simplistic plots told in five pages.

So I thought of Disney comics.  I went through the net looking for who was publishing the comics then.  And I found that the company was going out of business and for 2k they’d sent you a copy of every book they’d ever published in like 10 years.

Well, I didn’t have that, but I had $500 which bought something like 1 thousand assorted comics.  I remember the day the box was dropped on the patio.  It was… interesting.  It worked too.  Within a year my boy was reading for fun, and getting upset because the comics didn’t last long enough, which is when I introduced Heinlein juveniles.  In the process I renewed my love for the comics, and his older brother became a fan too.  We still go into old comic stores and look through the used “trash” comics bins for old Disney comics.  It’s a part of our ritual in any new place.

So since my babysitters husband and sons decided I’ve been overexerting (they have some support for this in the fact that today I felt seedy as heck) and because the wild Sarah of the West is hard to restrain, younger son unearthed his carefully boxed collection and is letting me read it.

Yes, there is a point to this post.  Hold on, okay?

I like the really old comics — Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson and also Don Rosa, who is my sons’ idol — not so old as to be the daily strips or to have Mickey run around with only shorts, but old enough to have fun adventures.  Stories where Uncle Scrooge and the boys tumble into Atlantis were my first introduction to the mythical continent.  And Gottfredson wrote good mysteries with an edge of the fantastic for Mickey.

Now, I’m not going to say that all of the modern stuff is dross.  Obviously it’s not, though some of the writers seem to aim more at… well… children.  While the animal comics were always interesting for children, they always had more depth than that.

But a lot of the modern comics are from Europe and… oh, wally wally wally.

I think there is a reason these companies that publish the comics tend to go under when they start de-emphasizing the old stuff and pushing the new translation-from-Europe.

First, let me say that like all the other geek interests, from SF to gaming, Disney comics are our people.  In face when I first bought the old comics, I giggled at finding many familiar (fan and author) names in the letters to the editor.

And I think like the other parts of geekdom they were invaded by SJWs, only earlier, and through a strange route.

You see, in Europe most people read Disney comics.  Omnibuses(eseseses) of various kinds are published all the time, and they’re sold in train stations and airports.  Most of the writers are therefore European.  And Europe, poor sods, swallowed the SJW thing hook line and sinker much earlier and deeper than we did.

(I blame it on the shock from WWI and WWII.  But really, their schools teach stuff like patriotism is bad, making money is bad, etc. etc. etc.)

Anyway, when companies get the Disney license in the US they tend to first publish the classics, then slowly move on to European translations.  Then they go under.

Since mostly when I re-read (and there are hundreds, and I hadn’t touched them in 15 years) I read one or two and then store them again, I hadn’t noticed the pattern.  But I’ve spent days reading them, in order.

The recent ones don’t get thrown across the room only because they’re younger son’s and he’s parsnekity.

But…  I reached the culmination of a story and the hero walks away from a deal that would make a miserable little village rich because “money is bad and would just give them problems like ours.”  Then there are avowals that Scrooge would never deal in guns.  And…

And I realized the problem with the modern stories from Europe is not that I disagree with their “morals” (I mean, Scrooge keeping all his money in a megabin was not exactly a moral I agreed with either) but that they’re no fun at all.  Just when the action gets serious or the dilema important, instead of solving it, one of the author-puppet characters, which are usually the “women” or the “kids” stand up and do a little speech about how righteous they are.  Everyone agrees.  The end.

I sought out younger son to discuss this.  He said “oh, yeah.  The problem is I don’t think they know how to have fun.  The whole concept of “writing something fun which might have a moral in it” evades them.  They think lecturing people and preening on their superiority is fun, so they don’t get why you wouldn’t ENJOY being lectured.”

It was a bit of a shock, because it made sense.  These are people whose idea of “fun” is “being good little girls” (even the boys.  Particularly the boys) and being praised for it.

They honestly have no clue how one would have any enjoyment of life on one’s own. Fun must be had in the fashion currently approved of by the “better people” — this is, I think the reason why their doddering presidential heir presumptive thinks adults in the US need “fun camps” to regiment them into having fun.

We’ve often referred to lefty politics being a sort of religion, but the sad thing is that it’s not even an inner improvement religion, but the sort of religious practice you do in public so others might admire you.

Realizing this brought to mind years back, when for reasons known only to the psychiatrist I’ll eventually have, I found myself as a member of a Romance Writers’ group (honestly, the kids were little, we were (very) broke and I hoped to be able to write the stuff because it made more than SF ever did.)  When talk turned to heroes and characters that are ideal, I mentioned that my favorite type of man is the one who is introverted enough in the beginning of the book he might seem uncaring, until you find out that while he might despise beggars or phony “needy” people, he’s been secretly giving money to help single mothers with small children, volunteering at a school for disadvantaged children and giving poor people business loans to start their own business.

I expected maybe disagreement, but what I got instead was screaming and yelling and telling me my idea of a hero was “plain mean” and so was I.  Apparently these people thought what your left hand did without the right knowing was not only NOT more laudable, but was mean.  To be a good man/good person, you had to do the approved charities and TALK ABOUT DOING THEM AND ABOUT WHY YOU WERE SO GREAT FOR DOING THEM.

I still don’t get it, but I guess in a universe where lecturing people is the only worth in a story, bragging of your charity is the true charity.

None of which is going to convince me to like their “approved” stories; make me believe the color/gender/orientation of the author is more important than the writing; or give a good goddamn about their ideas of good and evil.

I have considered stories outside my opinion/comfort zone, and sometimes changed my mind because of a story (gun control.  Red Planet.)  BUT the story was first of all fun in the sense of being a narrative with beginning middle and end.  And then it had a message woven through, in a way that when I put the book down and thought about it made me consider the author’s point of view.

Now, I don’t require a message to enjoy a story.  My favorite (Don Rosa) Uncle Scrooge story is one in which under attack by Magica DeSpell, Donald and Scrooge forget the funniest things.  (The story is, I think, called Forget It.)  The spell is that if someone says your name, you lose all memory of the thing they mention next.  So when Scrooge says “Donald, open the door” Donald loses all memory of “doors” and can’t figure out how to get out of the room.  And when Donald shouts “Uncle Scrooge, the Stairs!” Scrooge forgets how stairs and falls.

Now, the story does have a message, though never brought home: in the end of the story Donald can’t walk or talk, so Uncle Scrooge, who also can’t walk, uses him as the log for log rolling and to stop Magica stealing the #1 dime.  So there is a “never give up, never surrender” moral to it.

Is that why I like it?  I don’t think so.  As a woman who is both enamored of words and scared of dementia, I found the premise turned something I flinch from as terrifying funny, which is one of the keys to humor, of course.

Now, the moral didn’t hurt.  The same sort of story that ended with “We must destroy all machines and live as primitives” as a background moral would probably spoil my enjoyment of it somewhat, though I might still like it at the “gag” level.

However, the same story with Magica taking time in the middle to explain that language is patriarchal oppression (in a non-funny way) would get tossed against the wall (and then I’d explain it to younger son.)

Is there anything we can do to redeem these people who think preening and doing the “approved” stuff is the “only” fun?

I don’t know.  I can’t even conceive their state of mind, so it’s hard to think how to reach them.

I guess I’ll keep writing stories that are both fun and non-preachy, even if there tends to be a background moral.

Eventually they’ll get tired of things that fall into their hands tanking and find something more in line with their talents.  Preaching or forming the convent of our lady of perpetual redistribution or something.

And meanwhile the rest of us will ignore their careful gatekeeping and read and write and have fun too.

… or I will once my jailors family lets me up and allows me to work again.

Until then, there’s Disney comics.  I haven’t even broken into the stock of Mickey Mouse from when Mickey ran around chasing ghosts with guns the size of his head.

And Carl Barks and Don Rosa often have more explosions than a Baen book.  Sometimes even rockets.

And hopefully next week I’ll be able to write without passing out for hours at a time.

Tribalism in SF – Sanford Begley

Tribalism in SF – Sanford Begley

Humans are a tribal species. We all have tribes we belong to and resonate with. That doesn’t mean the tribe is monolithic for us, just that those in various tribes have similar views on various subjects. For example I fit into the MilSf tribe rather handily. i like the genre and communicate well with most of the tribe members. While most of us will read some varying amount of social consciousness SF we are not driven by its precepts. If the social consciousness drowns out the story we are unhappy. Similarly if the gun geeking that can be a part of MilSF overpowers the story line it will drive away the social conscious readers.

The problem then becomes how much is too much. It really depends on how powerful the story is. Speaking for myself the social consciousness in Scalzi’s Old Mans War was more than covered by the gripping nature of the MilSF elements. I know others who felt his message got in the way. Joe halderman’s Forever War actually had more message but had fewer people bothered by the messaging.  On the other end of the scale we have If You Were A Dinosaur My love. Which was all message and not even remotely SF by my standards. Those of my tribe use it as an example of what is wrong with the other tribe.

The problem with this is that tribes have traditionally gone to war over differences. We in SF are little different. The ones who favor hardware and story are engaged in a long running battle with those who favor message. The war has had gruesome casualties. Any number of authors have been driven to other genres, even quit writing rather than engage. Neither side seems to be able to read what the other side actually writes. We filter through our own prejudices and don’t necessarily even understand what the other side is saying. This leads to a well known author on the Social side printing what are, in effect, flat out lies about what an editor on the MilSF side wrote in an editorial, The authors fan base rallied behind him. They all claim that the lies he wrote were what the editor said rather than reading what she said and seeing the truth.

Similarly I have seen bloggers on the MilSF side read objections from the social side and go on the attack. not because the person on the social side actually said anything that wasn’t true, simply because the blogger interpreted things in the worst possible light.
The sad thing is that except for the extremists on either side, neither is right or wrong, simply different. This is seriously exacerbated by a small but vicious and vocal minority on one side that attacks everything said by the other and flat out lies constantly. Besmirching the name and reputation of others, even on their own side that will not Kowtow to their radical stance.

What i would like to see on a daily basis is for both sides to reach out and try to find common ground. We will never agree, but we should remember that we have a common enemy. The Mundanes may overrun both tribes some day if we can’t join together. We all mourned the passing of Spock. I wish we could remember our common grounds without the loss of more of our own.

A brush with voter fraud By Tom Knighton

A brush with voter fraud

By Tom Knighton

There’s been a lot of talk about voter fraud through the years. For very good reason, it’s something people take seriously and want to kill with fire. Well, a lot of us at least. However, people often have a misunderstanding about the forms that voter fraud takes. Having looked into events surrounding a local election here in Albany, Georgia, I have a unique perspective on how it actually happens.

My understanding started with a phone call. A woman, who I’ll call “Kelly” since she asked me to remain anonymous, had worked on a local campaign for a mayoral candidate I’d endorsed. That year, we had several new candidates and Kelly worked with one and was friends with another.

“I’ve got to tell you about what happened,” she said. This, however, requires a bit of time travel. (Hey, I’m a science fiction writer. I can do that, right?)

Kelly was in a downtown Albany restaurant when she was approached by a woman who wanted to talk about Kelly’s candidate and the campaign. The woman asked Kelly if they had “done their math” regarding how many votes they needed to win.

Unsure of what she meant, Kelly tried to answer.

This person told Kelly, and the candidate of another race, that for the right price, she could provide however many votes they wanted.

Now, I don’t think Kelly bought this, and neither did the candidate who is named Melissa.

Election night arrived, and I’d put the weekly issue of my newspaper to bed. I just had to get up at ridiculously early in the morning to get the physical papers from the printer, but that was nothing. It was election night!

I hit the first election night party, the one for Kelly’s candidate. It was early, and the mayoral elections would probably go to a run off anyways based on what I was seeing, so I only stayed a few minutes.

I then went around the corner to a watch party being held by a couple of candidates, including Melissa. The returns were coming in, and it looked like one of the candidates was about to lose to a veteran incumbent who not only held the seat, but has served as a mayor in another town several years before and was a well liked college professor.

Melissa’s race looked much different, however. She was winning.

As I left the party for the serenity of my bed, one of the local TV stations arrived to interview Melissa. After all, they were about to call the race of her. I had to agree, it looked like she had it easily.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I got up the next morning and saw that she’d lost.

A few days later came Kelly’s call. The woman Kelly spoke with told her that her method worked beautifully, and no one got caught because they used absentee ballots.

I started looking into the matter. Sure enough, in Melissa’s race, there was a massive number of absentee ballots coming from just one precinct.

Now, Melissa’s district was mostly working class folks, and this was in November. This wasn’t the time when people would go on vacation.

Every set of numbers I looked at failed to pass the sniff test. Melissa decided to hire an attorney and file a lawsuit regarding some irregularities during the election. During that process, she got records from the absentee ballots themselves, and based on what we both saw, we now understood how voter fraud happens and where reform efforts truly need to be directed.

The people selling the votes worked in a nursing home in that precinct. By Georgia law, an individual can have assistance in filling out their absentee ballot. However, the law also dictates that a given person can only help a few folks with their ballot. This, obviously, is done to prevent one person from having too much sway on the electoral process.

What was really happening, however, is that the “crew” involved would fill out the ballots for the residents of the nursing home. A handful would be signed by the individuals directly, but only as many as permitted by law. After that, they used other names.

So, how do I know there was something hinky going on?

Well, one of the first clues I noticed was the incredibly high rate of absentee ballots form that particular precinct. This wasn’t a presidential election year. These were all local elections. To be frank, most residents in nursing homes aren’t that concerned with local elections. For better or worse, they’re insulated from the effects of local government. This was shown with how few absentee ballots were filled out in other precincts with nursing homes.

Next, there was the fact that a large number these were single race voters, meaning they only voted in Melissa’s race. A single city commission race drew more attention than a mayoral race? If you buy that, you and I need to talk about some bridges I think you should own.

However, the most damning evidence came from Melissa. You see, she and her attorney were the ones with the ballot stubs. While they couldn’t see how anyone voted—nor should they have been—they could see who voted. Two piece emailed to me included the ballot of a woman, probably a resident of the nursing home. This woman, for whatever reason, required assistance filling out her ballot. In and of itself, nothing major.

What was significant, however, was that this woman was apparently able to help someone else fill out their ballot.

OK, let’s let that sink in for a moment.

Yes, she was unable to fill out her ballot without assistance, but was able to help someone else fill out their own.

Here’s where the problems come into play. For all the joking about the dead voting in places like Chicago, and I have little doubt that happens, those kinds of voter fraud are kind of tricky to pull off. They’re difficult and complicated, especially as ID technology becomes more advanced. In Georgia, our state issued ID cards contain codes that are scanned and make it harder to fake for voting purposes.

Absentee ballots, however, are a different matter. They’re designed for people who can’t physically be at the polling place. This is the only means for the vast majority of people serving in the military to vote. Also, there are voters in nursing homes who want to take part of the process, but are bedridden and unable to go themselves.

However, the standards for identification are significantly lower. This makes them an excellent tool for those who wish to influence elections for their own gain.

Further, groups can pull this off in almost any town. You don’t need the large numbers of people like Chicago or New York. No, you only need a few nursing homes or other places where registered voters reside but are unable to go and vote.

Much of the discussion on combating voter fraud focuses on ID requirements. Proponents of tougher ID requirements argue that requiring ID for all voters simply makes sense. Opponents argue that it will disenfranchise voters. Frankly, the opponents are full of it. We’ve been requiring ID in Georgia for years, and it’s worked out fine.

However, the flip side is that proponents are fighting on a front in a battle and have no clue that entire divisions are flanking them. The truth is, using absentee ballots simply makes the ID discussions pointless. Make it tougher to physically vote in a precinct all you want. There’s an easier way for them to do it already, and I suspect they’re already using it quite effectively.

So, that leaves us with how to fix this. After all, pointing out a problem only helps so much. Floating ideas on how to fix the problem is also important. Unfortunately, we find ourselves butting up against two problems. One is making sure that everyone entitled to vote has the opportunity to do so. The other is not preventing people who have difficulties from getting help.

However, I’m biased as hell. You see, I’ve watched my home town mimic Detroit in far too many ways to make me comfortable. My solution is to eliminate the “help” for people with absentee ballots and require an ID on file with a signature that can be compared to the ballot’s signature.

There is an alternative, however. Ballot helpers should be required to be registered (similar to voters), and must provide a state issued ID card to register. This eliminates the ability for the crew to just make up names for people to “help” with ballots.

Also, if you need help with your ballot, you do not get to help someone else. This may hamstring the ability of fraudsters from being able to recycle names such as we found with Melissa’s race.

Our electoral process is one of the greatest things about our nation. If we dislike our leadership, we can overturn it the next time around. It deserves respect, and the people who sell votes and use corrupt methods to get preferred people elected aren’t doing that. They’re playing with a system that made our nation the model for so many others throughout the world.

Like it or not, this is how a lot of fraud is happening, and it’s being ignored by those with the power to do something about it. That needs to change.

An Update

We interrupt the scheduled program for an update on the state of the Sarah.

So, I had surgery Monday, and first I want to say that the anesthesia was a oh, wow. Partly, I was lucky getting an anesthesiologist with a sense of humor. When I told him I started problems with anesthesia by not going under with chloroform (Portugal 65) he solemnly promised me not to use chloroform.

But the fact is he put me under at 2:30 and next I was aware of was at 7, and I was very cold, and they were piling blankets on me. (Took till 9 for my temperature to stabilize.)

I’m sure he talked to me before that, because he said I should be able to partly respond to him as I left the OR. I have no memory of this and am somewhat curious about it. You see, I’ve been known to answer from deep in a story, where someone talks to me while asleep. Like, say, Dan comes in to the bedroom, doesn’t realize I’m asleep, and says “Sarah, did you see my wallet?” He’s likely as not to get “Oh, Dragons. Yeah. You kill them with magnets.” Or something of the sort.

Don’t care. Though there might be an anesthesiologist wandering around town going “But she seemed like SUCH a nice lady.”

Hopefully I didn’t regale him with my political musings, but who knows?  I hope he had his asbestos underpants on.

Anyway – sat up for the first time middle of the night, and was raring to go by morning, so they let me come home. Where I promptly passed out for several hours.

They sent me home with Super Motrin! Or something like that, by prescription only. I’ve been taking it religiously every 8 hours. They also sent me home with one of the many variants of morphine and that I’ve been trying to avoid taking, because as always it makes me woozy and useless. (I say I have a sensitivity to it, but I don’t know if that’s true. It’s entirely possible that’s how it’s supposed to work.)

I’ve been editing, between bouts of sleeping ( a lot of bouts of sleeping.)

Yesterday I had to take the opiates because the alternative was curling up in a ball and crying like a little girl – and that meant I slept a lot, and at night had a very weird dream about a guy named Eno and one named Pepto, in a murder mystery set some hardscrabble farm in rural Colorado.

My first thought on waking up was “Pepto didn’t do it” and the second was “I’m tickled pink” which as you see is a good reason to avoid the strong stuff.

Today I’m feeling better. Not pain free, but bearable with Motrin, and I’ve finished editing, and I’m hoping to get some writing done in the missing Through Fire chapters, so I can finally deliver this thing.

I took a mile walk (could use better weather) and am doing laundry.

Now on what was wrong… More was wrong than we thought. Apparently my first caesarean really was butchery and things weren’t… right. Which makes second son even more of a miracle. (We just wish we knew WHICH side.) The first one too, I suppose, since we probably should both have died.

Over the years there’s been explosive scarring in my abdominal cavity as well as hormone-bearing tissue which probably is responsible for some if not all of my… interesting health issues. (Not the respiratory ones, though there’s something as always being a little under.)

I didn’t realize I’ve been in low level (mostly, sometimes medium level) pain most of these years, until I was given pain killers. Sleeping without pain is… different.

Most of this pain should go away once it’s healed. Right now it feels like someone scoured my body cavity with an exacto knife. Which I gather is not exactly true. They use scalpels.

And that’s about it. If I don’t answer your emails/am late on stuff poke me with sharp sticks, as I still only have at best half a brain.

But… the state of the writer is improving.

And now I work.