Words And Meanings

When I was young, like most people here, I was completely confused by certain words, which I’d only encountered in reading and didn’t quite know how to pronounce.  I understand my pronunciation of Whale in Portuguese kept the family in stitches for years, and the funny thing is I no longer remember which pronunciation is the funny one and which the correct one.

More importantly, sometimes I assigned COMPLETELY wrong meanings to words.  I sometimes find that I’ve done that in English too, but more rarely.

You see, sure we owned a dictionary, but when I was eight and devouring all the books I or my friends could get our hands on, stopping to look in the dictionary was a waste of time. (I once had an entire “boyfriend/girlfriend” relationship for a whole two years because his parents were well to do and bought him whatever books he asked for.  As opposed to my family, where I could read whatever I could dig up (why the potato cellar, mom?  Weird place to hide dad’s old books.  I don’t care if you thought they weren’t aesthetically pleasing)  and got new books (often wildly inappropriate ones, and really, people, there is other science fiction than Verne, okay?) from relatives for my birthday (but not Christmas.  That was clothing and money.) Yep, I know what that makes me.  Don’t judge me, we were in fourth grade and the most onerous thing required of me as a girlfriend was to hold hands.)

So I inferred words from surrounding words, tone, story, whatever.

Which is why I came to think that “native” and “aboriginal” were words for “Savage”  and “barbaric”. This probably came from the fact that at the time I was going through a Tarzan and other books of similar vintage phase.  It wasn’t until I was reading an anthropological book and found aboriginal used in a context that couldn’t mean “savage” or barbaric that I realized I must have got hold of the wrong end of the stick and went to the dictionary, where I found that aboriginal meant originating in that place, and not “savage” or “barbaric.”  Native had the same meaning.

So, what is this all about?  Well, recently I went through great anguish of mind while writing a book set in the 19th century and involving Amerindians.  Should I use Indians? Or Natives?  Both were accurate usage for the time, but surely, periodically, they’d default to “Indian” since that was the common usage.

Of course these days “Indian” is considered pejorative because it’s the name given by Europeans who mistook the inhabitants of the Americas for inhabitants of quite another region of the world.

I get that.  I don’t get replacing it with “Native Americans.”  Yes, I know that the legends of a lot of tribes say that they were created here, but holy heck, are we going to go on that testimony now?  Then we should refer to Christians as Edenintes, because that’s where they believe they were created, right?  No?  Then what makes a religion true and the other false, from the outside?  Oh, yeah, because one is exotic and stuff.

In fact, from a scientific point of view we have more than enough proof that the people’s Europeans found in the Americas didn’t evolve there, weren’t created there, and weren’t the first ones there.  I.e. they displaced other people.

So, does that make them “Indians?”  Well, no.  That is an obvious misnomer.  That said, it was still the word used through most of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.  It is also still the word used in Portugal.  (My nickname from dad was “Indian” meaning an Amerindian (I think that is still the anthropological word.)   Other fathers called their daughters “princess”, my dad called me “Indian.”  Is it any wonder I love the man?)

So “native American” is a misnomer too.  BUT the more important thing is lots of peoples are misnamed in a lot of languages. Alemao is the Portuguese word for German.  As I understand it, the Alemani were only one of the German tribes.  And then there’s Pennsylvania Dutch.  They aren’t Dutch, of course.  It’s a mispronunciation of Deutsch and not understanding they meant “German.”

Of course Amerindian is wrong too, just an attempt to make it more specific than “Indian.”

And then of course there is the insanity of naming a tribal people spread over a continent the same things.  People are Cheyenne or Cherokee, Dakota or Aztec and they’re as different among them as Portuguese, German or French.

So, yeah, the name is wrong.  And “native American” is wrong, and IMNSHO we should just call people by their tribes or “people” name.  That’s me, though.  And in an historical context, I still chose to use “Indian” because it’s what the characters would use.

However, in a more sane perspective, why replace Indian with the politically correct “Native American” which is not only still as inaccurate, but also insulting in that it forces several tribes that have nothing to do with each other under the same umbrella.

This is the same insanity of most “political correct” naming.  It is still incorrect, and over time it acquires the same meaning as the word it replaces.  There’s no point at all replacing a negative word with a positive word because over time it acquires the same meaning.  We clever monkeys are really good at inferring meaning from use and ignoring the actual meaning of the words, just as I inferred “savage” and “barbaric” from aboriginal and native, because I was reading books of people who believed the two were equivalent.

How long did it take for “Special” to mean “short bus special” (and let me tell you aggregating “gifted” into “special” doesn’t help, nor does substituting “Special” with “exceptional.”  I’m theoretically the mother of a “twice exceptional” child, though I suspect he’s only “once exceptional” now, as he outgrew most of the sensory issues, while retaining the intelligence.  Calling him that back in middle school didn’t prevent the school from fearing him, distrusting him, and attributing to stubbornness issues that came from the sensory problems.)

Of course, it is easier to change “Indian” into “Native American” and congratulate yourself on your own tolerance and open mindedness than to ascertain what tribe you’re speaking about and use that name.  It is easier to designate people “special” or “exceptional” than to account for their abilities or disabilities and accommodating those, while treating them as people.

It is easier to submerge the individual in a group and then pretend everyone in that group are widgets, no matter how wrong this is.

And it is wrong.  And what was a bad, pejorative meaning will attach to the new word.  And nothing will be solved.

But hey, those who think they are superior and more understanding than the rest of us and who believe changing the word changes the thing can declare victory and move on.

Even if nothing changed.

Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli & A Very Short Promo by Free Range Oyster

  Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it!  For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is:

A Very Short Promo by Free Range Oyster

Marina Fontaine

The Product

The Product will change your life. It will give you joy and confidence, make you more aware of the world around you. You will find new friends. You might even fall in love.

Few people know its name. Fewer still dare say it. It is, after all, illegal. Users are jailed. Dealers meet an ugly death. Yet the temptation is irresistible.

Kevin is a dealer. And he is about to get caught.

On sale this weekend

So, the Economy

Is anyone else starting to get the unwelcome feeling we’re headed for “summer of recovery” 9?

Maybe it’s just my sample — and that would be worrisome, because my sample consists mostly of not only highly educated but highly capable people — but it seems like every other week a friend is being laid off, or friends who haven’t had a raised in 10 years, still aren’t getting a raise, or–

Yet the press, whom I thought would turn on a dime once Obama was out of office, is still saying that the economy is better than ever.

Who am I to believe?  Them? Or my lying eyes?

I grant you that it’s almost impossible for the economy to right itself while hampered by the load of cement, called Obama Care, that FINALLY managed to stop the great American engine.

We’d absorbed a lot of other Leftist hits, but a program that vacuums money from both public and private pockets at ever increasing rate is too big a hit to just shrug off.

And I grant you, given the hits we’ve absorbed, there is still an amazing amount of life and productivity in America.

And please, please, understand what I’m talking about is NOT a sudden crash.  If sudden crashes, running around the hills with an AK or eating the neighbors were the likely thing, it would already have happened, in Europe.  What I fear is more the fate of Europe, the slow descent into senescence and dependency, without ever identifying the cause of the ill.

You see, our government has become like a tick.  It puts out just enough anesthetic, that people don’t realize it’s attached and sucking the life blood out of civilization.

And yeah, I’d feel much better at the thought that once they beat us into the ground, the leeches with bureaucratic, do-nothing jobs will suffer the most.  But when you all go down together, there is no consolation.

Right now, my only hope is that we do to them what we did when they thought they’d successfully taken over journalism and we ambushed them with blogs.

I don’t know how you do that to an entire economy, except I know the capable, the smart, the flexible thinkers need to hit the ground running, and keep running.

Think of something you can start and run that they’ll never see coming; something that does whatever job it is faster and better.

Go out and create and build and work.  You’re our only hope.



Weird Day

UPDATE: turns out I was wrong and double vision is side to side not up down (it just made me notice the up down again.)  It’s probably the result of severe inner ear infection still being treated.  Will do follow up in a week.)  I TOLD you not to worry.

Long story, but I woke up with double vision up and down.  Okay, I have that normally, part of the thingy in the brainy, but this was way worse than “normal” and my prescription feels “off.”

This means reading or writing is a problem unless I close an eye.  It might have something to do with the sinus/ear thing still going on, who knows?  I have an appointment in a couple of hours, so this is just the post to tell you not to worry.

I’m planning to bring out A Fatal Stain, the third Dyce Dare Mystery on Thursday, unless act of Amazon delays it.  I have a great cover by Jack Wylder:


Also, support wrong-think authors, get free books.

ALSO, my friend Kevin J. Anderson is trying something new and different. Go give his page a look.

I promise a real post tomorrow, when hopefully this double vision thing will have resolved.  And I’m sure it’s just the sinus infection, or the antibiotic or something, honestly.

Such The Womb

In societies with slaves, at least since Rome, at some point there evolved a rule that said something like “Such the womb, such the child’s condition” meaning that — because humans are promiscuous apes, and the legal “condition” of the father (or his identity) was often hard to ascertain — if you were born to a free mother you were free.  If you were born to a slave mother, you were a slave.  This applied regardless of color of skin and any qualities of the child.  You were born to a slave mother, you were a slave.  In fact much the same applied to all “classes” that were inherent at birth, in European systems that required nobility (or serfdom) at birth.

It was the inherent injustice of this system, to a great extent, that propelled the enlightenment and more just laws of the “condition” of humans.

It is actually fascinating to read Dumas, and catch the idea of inherent nobility (of character) or baseness (of same character) depending on your station at birth.  You also catch that if you read any historically accurate books, particularly those set before the 18th century.

Part of this of course was the “technology change” changing people’s perceptions.  You see, while it is obvious how the class structure of Europe evolved, (insecure times, Lords being those who fought, etc.  Yeah, I know it wasn’t universally applicable.  No, I don’t want Suburbanshee to hit me over the head with an history book) but it’s not obvious how it evolved into the idea that everyone should be born with equal rights.

There are theories, of course.  Those who believe that all of humanity is shaped by words and ideas, think it was because literacy and books, both, were widespread, and so–  And those who think it’s all economics think it was the industrial revolution.

It is both, of course.  the industrial revolution, and before it, the start of the bureaucratic state (which was better than the whimsical “word of the local lord” state, trust me, needed people of ability to make it work.  People of ability, human genetics being the crazy thing they are (I NEED to get older son to write a post), capable, intelligent people could be born to any class.  And the injustice of geniuses being considered menials while morons were Lords became a turning point for systems of thought, which in turn — informed by a lot of things, mostly Christianity — largely ended the class system and definitely slavery.

Mostly because Europe still largely thinks in “Classes” — I know, I was born and raised there — and those of us in whose mind it doesn’t fit easily always felt weird about it.

Guys, we’re starting to feel weird about what the US is doing too.

Because this whole “social justice” thing and various set asides sound EXACTLY like “such the womb such the condition”.

Yeah, I know it’s all dressed up, all purty-like in “addressing historical injustices” and “making people more equal.”  With due respect (which is known) that is the greatest load of twaddle I’ve ever heard.

Yes, sure, you want to make sure people get a fair start in life so they can all have a chance.  Again, with due respect “Who are you to judge who has a fair start and who doesn’t?”

Of course there is no way to look at a person and figure out what history they have; whether they came from a home that prepared them for life, or one that handicapped them.  There is no way to tell, either, whether their ancestors were discriminated against or not (nor should it matter.  More on that later.)  I mean, people of dusky skin who immigrated to this country only one generation ago get the same “set asides” as descendants of slaves, even though in the places they come from they might never have met any real discrimination, since everyone was about that color.

So in actuality, what the preferences and punishments of society are about are superficial characteristics like skin and look.

The problem with this is that it hooks in with a very ancient and dysfunctional part of the human brain, to evaluate things on “such the womb, such the child.”  We start assuming that, because some people get more benes and more fawning upon, they MUST be better.  The corollary to this is that some people are worse.  This is all back of the brain stuff, and why we see otherwise decent or at least not overtly criminal people call for the death or detention of all white males, without even stopping to think that some of those white males had considerably harder beginnings in life than the “women and minorities” whose “victimhood” is getting redressed.

Let’s speak with no obfuscation: Mala Obama or a young boy growing up with a drug-addicted mother in the Appalachians?  Which needs more help and bringing up to speed to make something of her/himself in life?  And yet, by our laws, right now, she’s assumed to need more than him.

Things have gotten so crazy that people talk of the “privilege” of concentration camp survivors.

On the same path, but a different league, middle-class parents are entreated not to read to their kids, lest they give them privilege (cooties) i.e. a head start on other kids.  As though this were bad; as though it meant they’re holding someone down by encouraging their KIDS to make the best they can of their circumstances.

Then there is the fact that any minority who actually either makes it on their own or denies the received (Marxist) wisdom of those who set and enforce preference rules is immediately declared a class/gender/race traitor and lectured on “privilege.”

Let’s not forget that hilarious time when an upper middle class, white American woman who’s never done a days hard work in her life came over to lecture me — a first generation immigrant who started from nothing and is writing professionally in her third language about “sensitivity to the downtrodden and racism.”  Yeah, that was a bucket of fun.

All of this insanity descends directly from the idea that people are BORN with privilege or victimhood, and that they should either be mollycoddled or shunned according to their PHYSICAL characteristics at birth, and the race of their ancestors.

Let’s be real, okay?  The only real slavery subsisting is in Arab countries and they take slaves of every race, including their own.  The only real sexism is also in Arab countries.  At this point, people are being compensated for things that they’ve never endured, and don’t even have a very clear idea of.  (Most American people think white people INVENTED slavery to enslave black people, and not that it’s an old and persistent sin of mankind, affecting every race and every culture until the industrial revolution.  This backfires and is actually very bad for black people in America because it gives them the sense they’re uniquely weak, for this to have happened to them.)  As for the so called oppression of women in America, most American women could benefit a great deal from living six months in working class anywhere in the world.  Maybe that would stop them going to war with philology and would get them to give thanks fasting for living in what is ultimately genuinely a matriarchy.

People are supposedly being compensated for things that happened to their great grandparents.

Now, yes, inequalities subsist, but at this point they subsist BECAUSE of the set asides, encouragement and molly coddling and also, because, frankly anything Government and/or progressives do tends to come out bass awkwards.

So, you know, their war to end all wars GUARANTEED world war II and, by extension, the cold war.  And their programs to end poverty have institutionalized it.

In the same way programs to push women into STEM and not to discourage girls (And WHY STEM?  I have the greatest respect for the sciences, but society is not a vast laboratory.  If you wanted to be wealthy, I’d recommend financial planning/stock trading, which end up having a lot more power than lab monkeys.) mean that every teacher is terrified of telling a girl/woman she needs to work harder, or she’s just no good at whatever.  And so these women get to college having done NO work, and usually drop out of STEM degrees within the first year, for something easier like business.

And programs to hire or promote minorities means that those genuinely capable minorities who make it up the ladder on their own have to face scoffing and remarks about their ability because people assume they’re “affirmative action successes.”  This in turn leads to real discrimination because they’re not treated seriously.  And that in turn leads to resentment and more calls for government intervention.

If you’re saying a vicious cycle of crazy, you’re right.

It’s sort of like re-creating aristocracy.  Oh, and you know how the absolute kings got aristocracy to obey them?  They fomented wars and discontent between noblemen, so that the king was the only arbiter of right and wrong in the country.

Remove “king” and put in “Centralized Government” and the picture will become clear.

This is why the end result of any “progressive” (communist) society is hereditary monarchy and feudalism beneath.  It is in fact an eschewing of the gifts of prosperity and equality of the enlightenment.

And now you know why all the representatives of the old “good” families in Europe are communists or at least ardent Marxists.

Social justice is feudalism dressed in pretty clothes.  It is slavery and I say to hell with it.

Each human should be born equal before the laws.  Any tampering with that legal equality is the establishment of nobility and slavery and classes neverending.  Sure, not all start in the actual same place, so not all end up doing as well.  Equality of results is unenforceable because not all humans WANT the same things.  Give them equality before the law.  Individually help those who need it and want it.  Over time this will result in the most equitable society.

All the rest is just the old beast wearing a prettier costume.

We won’t get fooled again.



The Pleasures of Idleness

I understand there is pleasure in idleness.  I understand because OTHER PEOPLE tell me so.

Maybe it is something like sleeping.  I used to hear there was pleasure in sleeping, but I never fully believed it.  Sleeping is what happened when I ran out of energy, and it was done reluctantly.  Ever since I was a little kid, I felt when I slept, a portion of my life was stolen.  So I hated it.

Then I had kids.  The times I could lie down and JUST sleep were like gifts from the gods, and the greatest pleasure known to men.  Forget chocolate, all I needed was a bed.

Maybe idleness is that way too.  Maybe at some point I will enjoy it, cherish it, realize why other people love it.

Today is not that day.

I’ve been convinced — okay, Amanda Green yelled at me — that I need to take one and maybe two weeks between books.  I’m not fully convinced that this is why I got ill, but I sort of understand it.  Creating things is HARD and if you just go go go you hit a flat spot, and things that should be easy take twice as long.

So, having finished the second book of the year two months late (mostly because of the flat spot/autoimmune/massive ear infection) I am TRYING to take a week off.  The problem is that my brain doesn’t BEND that way.  I can wake up, think I am too tired and roll over, but the guilt of it won’t let me sleep.

I’m trying to keep the guilt quiet by doing Spring cleaning.  Where I came from, we did a huge cleaning Fall and Spring, the equivalent of turning the house upside down and giving it a good shake.  This meant if you slipped one or two weeks and didn’t clean, it wasn’t the end of the world, and the house was still effectively pretty clean.  It’s still hard.  I had to stomp pretty hard on the idea that keeps recurring that “short stories aren’t REALLY writing.”

I really seem to having nothing between stopped and going full force.  It’s a skill I’m trying to acquire.

Anyway, having decided to take a week off, I’m trying not to brain too hard on these posts too.  I hope you guys are okay with that.

There will still be posts.  Some of them might be odder than usual though.

And meanwhile, reward wrong thinkers, get free books!

Io9 gets it wrong again. – William Lehman

Io9 gets it wrong again. – William Lehman

In this ever-changing world in which we live, it’s nice that there are a few absolutes.  Like Walmart is always vilified, Starbucks coffee is always over roasted, and io9 can’t get it right to save their ass.  In the Navy, we had a scale for questions and answers. From 4.0 knows and explains answer when asked, on down…2.5 if I remember right, was recognizes right answer when prompted.

Poor little io9 can’t even score that.  In an article based on an interview of David Gabriel (Marvel’s VP of sales) http://io9.gizmodo.com/marvel-vp-blames-women-and-diversity-for-sales-slump-1793921500, David explained that one of the primary reasons Marvel is in a sales slump, according to their customers is that people are tired of all the diversity BS.  Well, these clowns (I’m sorry Pennywise, I realize that’s an insult to clowns everywhere.) demand to argue with David, and insist that it’s not that, it’s the abundance of crossovers, and events, and … then they throw in the screwing over of beloved characters, as if that isn’t part of the very “diversity” bullshit people are tired of.  Making Thor a woman? Oh no, that’s not about diversity, and that’s not what people are bitching about, David, you’re lying to us!

These guys are the gang that couldn’t shoot straight…No, that’s not fair, they’re more like a gang made up completely of Cuntsman clones, that can’t shoot at all for fear of developing PTSD.  They throw out the red herring of “it costs more”, (Yeah it costs more, everything costs more.  The only place that hasn’t seen inflation, is the federal economic index) they throw out the loss of talent, well, it could just be, that the artists are tired of the diversity train too!

Then, just to put the cherry on top of the sundae of silliness, they claim that “Shelving the blame onto diversity ignores all the aforementioned internal problems in favor of one they have no control over.” As if the owners of the comic book empire can’t control whether they try to push diversity at the cost of story or not.

Ya know, all of this seems REAL familiar… Where have we… Oh, yeah, the Hugos, the wooden assholes and the publishing empires… Which of course io9 is also on the wrong side of, thinking that story needs to be driven by message.  This seems to be a common theme.  Well, if you’re going to be wrong and a fool, I suppose it’s best to be consistently wrong and a fool in the same manor.

People, here’s the thing.  If I want to be educated, I’ll read a news source (I just wish I could find one without bias, instead of having to read 4 and fair the results based on which way the publisher leans) or I would read a nonfiction work.  If I’m reading fiction, or watching fiction, or looking at fiction, I want to be ENTERTAINED.  If you want to educate me too, you better do it in a way that I find entertaining, or you’re not going to get my hard-earned dollars.  It’s that simple.

Give Away the Bigger Portion

I was a greedy child.  No, seriously.  Looking at the pictures of me as a little kid, all legs, teeth and eyes, you wouldn’t know I had to have a lot of lectures on not taking the better portion of (whatever) when we had guests.

Last time I was back in Portugal, I was talking to my dad and he got into his early years of marriage.  Dad is an enlightened male, particularly for his time and Portugal.  (Yes, he still has weird stuff, like it’s not manly to carry plastic bags, but that’s because he’s human.)  He got mom from a far more traditional family, so he told me with some indignation that when he first married her she insisted on giving the bigger portion or the best portion to him, while she and my brother took the rest.  He thought this was upside down, because d*mn it, his wife and kid should have the best.  He cited this as “the bad habits I had to get her over.”

I did not tell him his attempts had failed.  Long before I was marriageable age, mom had instructed me in “let your dad have the biggest or better portion.  Men need this.”

Yes, I hear feminists in the audience pull their hair out, so let me say right now: mom was wrong.  She was also right.

She was wrong in thinking MEN needed this.  There is after all a reason that dad thought women and children should have the best (and it’s a good reason, evolutionarily speaking.)

She was right if you just put it as “let your spouse/friend/relative” have the best part/the decision/the thing he/she really enjoys doing.

Look, I put it up above that I was a greedy child.  I’m also an incredibly self-centered person.  Part of this is being driven.  I have so much to do, I want to have my break the way I want it.  I want to enjoy my meals the way I like them.  I want to–

The problem with that is that if you do that, you’re not only going to end up divorced, you’re going to end up alone.

My first year of marriage, I often felt as though the inner child were throwing a massive tantrum.  “But I wanted that food/amusement/time.”  But I had had early training.  “Give him the best part.”  And the training helped.  I did.

After a while, I found that he did too.  I.e. he was doing things/not doing things because he knew my tastes and was seeking to accommodate them.

I know this sounds horrible.  “But then neither of you were doing what he/she likes.”  Ah.  but it doesn’t work that way.  The way it works is more that you find things you both like to do, or you learn to take pleasure in what the other likes.

I’m fairly sure 90% of our museum thing is me (I think.)  Watching silly movies is Dan (and yea I do it too, when I’m not infernally busy.)  As is finding goofy restaurants and having long talky meals.  Or finding cool new music.  I’d never listen to any music without Dan.

Eventually, by both of us trying to cater to the other, we’ve forged several things we like doing together, as well as giving each other enough time alone to pursue what each needs to pursue.

And we’re still married.

But this is not for spouses only.  Robert, for instance, has this thing with elephants.  When he was really working very hard in undergrad, I started forcing sudden holidays to “go look at elephants” because it always cheered him up.

Would I have preferred the Natural History Museum?  Sure I would.  That’s my thing.  But elephants are HIS thing, and I learned to enjoy it, just because it made him so happy.  And we developed other, joint, favorites.  Secretary birds, for instance.  Or the red pandas.  And just walking in the zoo in the rain.

Then there’s my friends.  Sometimes what they like is goofy, but I’m so cheered by seeing them enjoying themselves that I’m willing to cooperate.

The thing is, if you insist on keeping the better portion/bigger portion/the “right” thing in any relationship, it won’t last long.  You’ll end up in a desert of your own making.

So mom was right.  Give him the best portion.  She was wrong too.  Give her the better portion too.

And you’ll find it comes back to you a hundred fold.



A Little Bit of Promo in your Life & Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

A Little Bit of Promo in your Life by Free Range Oyster

Pam Uphoff

First Posting

The Directorate Book 4

That difficult first job! Sometimes it’s what you wanted, sometimes it’s not. But with a willing attitude maybe it won’t be disastrous… maybe.

Ra’d, Ebsa, and Paer have graduated, and they are determined to get Across, to explore new parallel worlds, just a step through a transdimensional gate away. Unfortunately they’ve pissed off just about everyone, so they’ll have to take what they are offered.


The Directorate Book 5

Paer is assigned to a secret project as the camp medic. But everyone is healthy so why not help the Helios Surveillance Mission?

David L. Burkhead

Rainy Days and Moon Days

FutureTech Industries

Jeff Bannock, while working his after school job at a construction outpost on the moon, merely wants to graduate and head to college. But a casual find of an obsolete memory chip leads to more danger than he ever bargained for.

Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it!  For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is:

Almost the End of the World

There is a story by Ray Bradbury called “Almost the End of the World” and it’s one of my favorites for two reasons.  The first is that it ends in the line “Chicago, Pearl of the Orient, here I come.”  The second is that the posited reason for the world “ending” was the end of television transmission.  Or, given the mechanism and updating, internet too.

No, neither of those would be a good thing, but it amused me A LOT because of what he implied: that if you removed TV and by extension internet, people would have time for ALL sorts of other things that no one does anymore.

He’s right and wrong, of course.  I grew up in a world without tv or internet, and I don’t remember — as in the story — people taking to cleaning EVERYTHING or painting everything that would stand still long enough.

Oh, sure a lot more things got done.  Did I mention that for Easter women would pick flowers, sort them by color and make elaborate “tapestries” down the main street of the village?

But what Ray Bradbury missed is that in the days before electronic entertainment, there was also a lot more to do.  Because we were missing a lot of other technology that makes our life MUCH easier.  So, you know, my mom and grandmother, when I was little, ironed clothes, including dad’s white work shirts using coal-filled irons, and home mixed startch.  Sure they didn’t spend mindless time in front of the TV, but they also didn’t have much time to spend in front of the TV.

Also, assuming people would do something constructive even with the time they did have is kind of giving humans too much credit.  I think there is something in our brain that needs x time mindless entertainment per such and such time of work.

Now, mindless entertainment varies, of course.  Today you can spend a lazy afternoon reading crazy stuff on the net.  In my childhood people would spend lazy afternoons sitting on the stoop watching neighbors walk by.  And before you say that this was more sociable or whatever, uh…  A lot of the watching was like browsing facebook.  “So and so is wearing a funny hat.  He’s a poopy head.”  “Oh, look, those two changed their relationship status” etc.  It was just slower, more boring, and more personal because your neighbors knew you were watching ALL the time.

My mindless entertainment was often reading my cousins magazines or even my brother’s school books.  Sure, I sometimes — inadvertently — learned something, but so do I on the net, where the type of links I tend to follow is something geeky and often historical stuff.  Look, my mindless entertainment is just crazier than most people’s.

All of which brings us to — in my case, I know when I need brainless entertainment.  It’s usually when I’m too sick/out of it to do something that requires more thought, like reading a book I’ve never read before or even writing.

The cycle goes something like this: Get very ill.  Get bored while ill.  Still be unable to do anything productive.  Spend time reading FB or following crazy cryptozoology links.  Get habituated so that even when I feel better, I’m addicted to mindless.  Fight like crazy to stop the addiction.  Write.  Read.  Get sick.

Yeah, I’m now on the part of the cycle where I’m fighting like crazy, so you might see less of me in comments and on FB.  More importantly, I’m  trying to manage my health to at least extend the “well part” of the cycle.  And there are improvements, but they’re alas gradual.

No part of this involves my washing public structures and/or painting park benches.  That might be a loss for everyone concerned.  But I posit that if all electronic entertainment failed tomorrow, we would just find other, mindless things to do.

Right now, though, I need to leave the mindless behind and go write.  Because if I don’t?  It’s the end of the world.