Picture Challenge and Sunday Book Promo

So today the internet hamsters ate the word-prompt for the Sunday Challenge.  I am therefore giving you a picture, this time not mine.

It is copyright thanh262k @ pixabay.com and it’s released under creative commons license.


Have at it!

Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com.  One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

FROM ALMA T. C. BOYKIN: Vaguely Familiar (Familiar Tales Book 3).


When stone calls to stone, Familiars and mages must answer.

Lelia Chan’s and Tay’s chance discovery of a fragment of a blood-soaked knife leads them deeper into what it means to be a shadow mage and her Familiar. Meanwhile, Morgana Lorraine heads west, looking for answers (and really good bacon), leaving Officer Jamie Macbeth to deal with the Off Ramp of Doom and his mother-in-law’s ongoing displeasure. But the stone won’t stay quiet.

Could the Off Ramp and the stone be connected? As the stone’s call grows stronger, Lelia and friends race to find an answer to an evil that won’t go quietly.

A short novel. 56,000 words.

FROM MARGARET BALL:  A Tapestry of Fire (Applied Topology Book 4).


Thalia Kostis is a budding magician (depending on how you define it), but she has a theoretical mathematician’s grasp on socialization and people skills. When pressed into spying on a rival magician’s company retreat to find out where kidnapped coders are being held, she expected things to go completely sideways.

She didn’t expect to end up mistaken for her rival’s fiancee…

Now she has to juggle her own impending wedding, her cover, her magic, and company politics that might turn out deadlier than anyone expected!



Why did Bernie Run? – By Amanda S. Green

Why did Bernie Run? – By Amanda S. Green

Or, why didn’t he run further, faster and straight to the nearest Socialist country where he’d feel right at home?

In my last post, I started covering the “why did Bernie run?” question. He didn’t want a political dynasty taking control of our nation. He oh-so-conveniently forgot about the Kennedys or the Roosevelts. Instead, he focused on making sure another Bush or Clinton didn’t find their way to the Oval Office. While I appreciate not wanting Hillary as President, Bernie left us with Trump, who has done better than I ever expected.

But the potential of a dynasty wasn’t the only reason he ran.

Another reason he decided to throw his hat into the ring were the difference in their basic political positions between himself and Hillary.

Hillary Clinton was a key player in the centrist Democratic establishment, which had, over the years, been forged by her husband, Bill Clinton. In fact, Bill Clinton had been the head of the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), a conservative Democratic organization funded by big-money interests, which was described by Jesse Jackson as “Democrats for the Leisure Class.” The Clinton approach was to try to merge the interests of Wall Street and corporate America with the needs of the American middle class—an impossible task. (OR, p. 50)

Here’s a little hint. He spends the next few pages attacking not really Hillary but Bill. You know, the same Bill Clinton who often had Sanders’ support while Slick Willy held the Oval Office. He picks an issue, notes how Mr. “I didn’t have sexual relations with that woman” was responsible for it and then how Hillary supported it. Where he might have a point with regard to the Clinton’s failed health care reform initiative during Bill’s tenure – after all, Hillary was a driving force behind it – you can’t lay the credit or the blame for the lifting of certain regulations at her feet. Or are we going to start blaming every First Lady for the actions of her (or his) spouse?

Oh, wait, the media is already doing that, at least where certain First Ladies are concerned. But we aren’t the media and we should be able to figure out that they don’t hold all the power in the nation, no matter what we might want to believe. Yes, some have more influence over their spouses than others, but they still don’t wield the presidential pen and they sure don’t control Congress. But I get where Bernie’s coming from. Hillary didn’t have a long legislative history – like he did – to attack. All he could do was attack what happened during her husband’s political career, show how she supported his stances and only later changed her mind on certain issues and then focus on the few years she had been a senator and the Secretary of State.

My disagreements with the Clintons’ centrist approach were based not only on policy, as important as that was, but on politics—how you bring about real change in the country. What kind of party should the Democratic Party be? (OR, p. 51)

This is where I laugh hysterically. He refuses to run as a Democrat when given the Democratic nomination for Senator and has for some several terms now. He calls himself and Independent and not a Democrat. So why is he worried about the Democratic Party?

I know, I know, foolish question. He’s worried about it for political and not policy reasons. He wants to shape the party into his own version of socialism. He can’t do that if it is a centrist party, which it isn’t. So for him to piss and moan about the Clintons’ policies being based on politics and not policy is very much a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Not that Bernie will ever admit it. He does the same thing. If it is politically expedient for him to call himself a Democrat or to run on their ticket he will. Then he will turn around and spit in their faces – as he has already shown.

He goes on, and I’ll paraphrase here, to condemn the Clintons for receiving a great deal of money in contributions and speaking fees from “powerful financial interests and corporate America.” (OR, p 51) He points out how, whether in their political or personal lives, they seem to spend a great deal of time raising money. They’ve done it for so long and have done it so well there are now some who refer to them as “Clinton, Inc”

Well, that’s true. Between the Clinton Foundation and the enormous fees Hillary received for her private talks to various Wall Street firms, a butt-ton of money has been raised by the Clintons. If you remember, Hillary took issue with folks looking at her askance for those speaking fees. In What Happened, saying that if she had been male, no one would have questioned the fees.

Hmm, maybe we should ask Bernie about all his speaking fees? What do you think?

To me, a very basic political principle is that you cannot take on the establishment when you take their money. It is simply not credible to believe that candidates who receive significant amounts of financial support from some of the most powerful special interests in the world would make decisions that would negatively impact the bottom lines of these donors. The only way to bring about real change is to mobilize millions of people at the grassroots level against the establishment, against the big-money interests. (OR, pp 51-52)

Okay, I’ll admit that, on certain levels, I agree with him. However, there have been any number of politicians who have strayed from the interests of their donors. More than that, you can turn his own argument around on him. If it is impossible for a politician to vote against those who gave them significant financial support – and he doesn’t give any support other than philosophical for this – then it would also be impossible for that politician to vote against who give fewer dollars under reformed contribution rules. I guess we just have to do away with all campaign contributions.

I’m kidding.

However, Bernie once again over-simplifies the problem of campaign finance. Not that it surprises me. He knows how to find the argument that best supports his position, no matter how tenuous its roots in reality might be.

His next reason for running was that Hillary too hawkish as a senator and as Secretary of State. She made the mistake, in his mind, of support President Bus in his war on terror. But the more telling about exactly where Bernie stands is this quote, “While very few debate the right of Israel to exist in peace and security, I thought she did not pay enough attention to the suffering of the Palestinian people.” (OR, p. 52)

I’m sorry, but how can you say that with a straight face? To begin with, he says nothing about how the Palestinians were bombing Israel. How they were doing everything they could – and pretty much still are – to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth. Instead, he worries about how the Palestinian people suffered. What about how the Israelis suffered? And what were we, as a nation, supposed to do about the Palestinian issue? Again, he makes a condemnation but doesn’t give us what his stance would be or how we would pay for it.

For me, the bottom line was that this country was facing enormous crises: the continued decline of the middle class, a grotesque level of income and wealth inequality, high rates of real unemployment, a disastrous trade policy, an inadequate educational system, and a collapsing infrastructure. On top of all that, we needed bold action to combat climate change and make certain that this planet was healthy and habitable for our children and grandchildren. (OR, pg. 52)

Well, we know what he was worried about. But we don’t know what he was going to do about it or how he was going to pay for it. I guess he was going to plant that magical, mystical socialist money tree. Nah, he was going to do what every good socialist does, reach into your pocket and mine until nothing was left. Then he’d find someone else’s pocket to pilfer.

So why did Bernie run?

For all of the above reasons and more.

It seems he’d heard talk that folks wanted Elizabeth Warren to run. But she hadn’t said she would. So what was this good little socialist from Vermont to do? He couldn’t let Hillary run and win. No way did he want a Bush in the White House. So he had to bite the proverbial bullet and step forward.

What he doesn’t see, or at least admit, is he was playing the same game Warren was. He’d been asked if he was going to run. He hadn’t said he was considering it. In fact, in an interview I believe I referenced in my previous post (if not, it is at the beginning of the chapter we’ve been discussing), he said he was 99% sure he wouldn’t run. That was after a flat denial that he’d run.

But, you see, in the end, he realized he needed to do something. He needed to take his politics outside of Vermont and Capitol Hill.

Does that make sense? If he has his politics on Capitol Hill, isn’t he already influencing our national political bent? How much of Bernie’s run for President really a desire to spread his ideas as much as ego? Oh, I’m sure that like any good little Socialist, he wanted to spread the word of Marx as far as he could. But what did he accomplish?

We can thank him for that paragon of foot-in-mouth disease Ocasio-Cortez. We can also, in a way, thank him for Hillary’s defeat. Not only was she a horrible candidate who didn’t connect with much of the electorate, but she did not find a way to entice his followers back into the fold. Conservatives and libertarians should thank him for that. Not necessarily because Trump now sits in the Oval Office but because Hillary doesn’t. The problem comes in that his success – and we have to call it that, like it or not – has given socialism (or Democratic-Socialism) a legitimacy it hasn’t had.

The real question is how the Democratic National Committee is going to respond. Are they going to be so frantic to regain the White House and a congressional majority that they throw out the last of their scruples and fully embrace socialism or will they take a giant step back? I know where my money is, and it isn’t on a giant step back.

Next week, I’m going to finish my commentary on the book. There’s a great deal left but much of it is the same ole, same ole. My brain and my liver can only take so much. I’ve got a question for you. What would you like to see me tackle next? It can be more snarking material or something that will let my liver heal. The choice is yours.

Until later!


(Help Amanda drink enough to keep snarking.  We’ll collect for her liver transplant later.
Hit her Pourboir jar now! – SAH)

The State of the Human Wave – Fiction Version by Alma Boykin


The State of the Human Wave – Fiction Version

by Alma Boykin

Short version – a lot better than when the idea was, ahem, floated, in 2012. [2012? That’s… a while ago. A geologic epoch in Internet years. Anyway.]

The original post: https://accordingtohoyt.com/2012/03/21/what-is-human-wave-science-fiction-3/

Sarah followed it up a little later: Human Wave Dreaming in August of that year.

Since then, indie sci-fi and fantasy have blossomed as the walls of publishing crumbled. First, Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and the lending system of Kindle Unlimited (KU) opened doors to anyone with a story to tell. Barnes and Noble offered similar for their Nook, and then Rakutan made Kobo available for a global market reach. For print, Smashwords arrived, followed by CreateSpace, then a host of other options. New word processing software like Scrivener appeared, and then inexpensive or free formatting programs such as Caliber and Vellum brought even that task well within the reach of anyone who wanted to learn the program. At the same time, Kobo and Amazon refined their systems to make them easier to use, no longer requiring conversion from .doc before uploading, among other things.

At the same time, more and more readers began buying human-positive books that put story ahead of message. That encouraged the early Human Wave writers to write more, and we/they in turn inspired others to try their hands. Fun fiction became easier to find, better written, and better packaged. Sub-genres declared dead by TradPub reemerged as fans found more and more new books, and older works re-appeared after long periods of neglect. Sci-fi, fantasy, mystery, westerns, they started becoming fun again.

So what is Human Wave? Stories that entertain, make the reader feel better, give the reader hope, let the reader escape to a place where good triumphs over evil, be that evil a demonic manticore or a petty bureaucracy. Human wave stories are not message free. But the message is positive, and comes second to the story. Gee, readers like that! Readers want the hero to win, and get the girl or guy or whatever, after soundly thrashing the bad guy. Good wins, evil loses, and everyone gets a happily-for-the-moment ending (unless you are the bad-guy). There can be dark moments, grim moments, Valleys of Shadow and a Slough of Despond, but the story ends on an upward note. Yes, the mother dies, but her sacrifice ensures that her children survive and bring justice to the Forces of Evil. The hero ends the story with scars and some doubts, but everyone knows he did the right thing and his lovely, faithful lady is there at his side. Think of the end of Brandon Sanderson’s original Mistborn Trilogy.

What’s the opposite of Human Wave? Grey goo. Message fiction. Stories that beat the reader over the head with her unworthiness, the horrible state of the planet, the doomed future of humanity, the evils of free-market economies, the ills of the patriarchy, and that preach first, entertain a distant fourth. Message fiction focuses on message over story. If you can go through the first chapter and find Plucky Heroine, Oppressed Minority, Genius Gay Guy/Gal (or now Brilliant Transperson), Evil Capitalist/Evil Religious Leader with the “good” folks all standing up to the Oppressive Patriarchy or Corrupt Corporation (or Devious Government Agency), then you probably have message fiction. Particularly if a character is there just so the author can check off a box on the list. If you dearly want the Sweet Meteor of Doom to take out everyone in the book, and you have yet to reach the middle of the book, you have grey goo. Laughing in all the wrong places is another sign.

Some writers felt that Human Wave, and people positive stories, needed something more. From that impulse came Superversive science-fiction, John C. Wright’s term for a movement toward specifically noble, Christian, Western-Civ-positive stories with a message. Soon other writers picked up the banner, and some truly fascinating and engaging, as well as thoughtful and thought-provoking, work emerged. Readers loved it. Note that here too, the story always, always comes before the message. Superversive Sci-Fi became a movement all its own, very much Human Wave but different. Is it a bigger tent or smaller? Is Human Wave part of Superversive or vice versa? Does it really matter? Probably not.

So, in 2018, what is the state of the Human Wave? Still growing, still developing, still healthy as best I can tell. Readers have more authors to choose from, and the Dragon Awards show that. A fan-choice award, nominated by people who love a book, podcast, game, or movie, selected by people who love books, games, movies, and so on, the Dragon is managed by DragonCon but not determined by DragonCon. More importantly for some of us, readers vote with dollars, and those dollars seem to be moving more and more away from the TradPub fiction and toward indie, especially Human Wave indie. Readers also love Human Wave TradPub, don’t get me wrong, but TradPub doesn’t always love Human Wave stories. Some imprints have become very well known for focusing on the author’s minority status and the “edginess” of their work, to the point of almost shoving story out the window. The goal for them is not to entertain, but to preach and to use story as a tool for “raising awareness of [insert woe here]” or “eradicating [insert woe here] and saving the world.” Grey goo has not disappeared, which may explain why so many Traditional Publishers find their readership and profits shrinking. Raising e-book prices so high that hardbacks look reasonable in comparison also has a great deal to do with it, but that’s a tale for a different blog.

Do we still need Human Wave books, movies, and the like? Heck yeah! The more the merrier, so long as the story comes first and entertains the reader. As Sarah says, “Build under, build around.” Given the vehement efforts of the grey goo politicians and their supporters to gain political power and ruin everyone’s days, we need people-positive tales more than ever. The collectivists, anti-humans, and others got a fifty-year jump on us. What if Amazon goes the way of Twitter and Facebook? What if Microsoft manages to strangle Gab, if [OK, when] B&N’s Nook ceases to be a financially viable platform for writers? The answer is write more, write better. Remind readers that there’s more to the book world than grey goo. Selling your own books independently is hard, but not impossible the way it once was. Diane Duane and her husband do it and seem to do well. There are others.

Here’s to the past six years’ successes, and here’s to at least a dozen more!



From Were You Dream


Stand back.  I’m going to disagree with Jordan Peterson.

Yes, I know, even great men are allowed to have a blind spot, but his is a doozy and three miles wide: even through everything he’s gone through, he still believes that the preponderance of liberals in the arts and creative professions is because “liberals are creative personalities, willing to take risks.”

Dear Lord.  What is wrong with that wouldn’t fit in a library filled with books the size of the Oxford dictionary, in tiny print, the kind you need the magnifying glass to read (yes, I always wanted one of those.  Nope, don’t have one.)

It starts with the fact that most “liberals” aren’t even capable of taking risks in thought.  They want everything regimented, and directions from above about what to think about every minute subject or portion of a subject.  And if you question any of their shibboleths, they call you racisss sexissss homophobic, even if what you’re discussing is taxes, or the price of books.  These words are the equivalent of their putting fingers in ears and going lalalalala, then running away screaming for mommy/government/twitter mob.

It continues with the fact that the arts are dominated by liberals because they’re dominated by liberals. Of course liberals only hire/promote/give legitimacy to other liberals.  Look, if you believed your opponents were evil incarnate, what would you think? That you could allow them into your field?  Of course not.  If the parameters for good art were “speeds the arrival of the revolution” you’d see as bad art everything that denies it.  And why would you want bad art or bad artists?  This is why the people on the left in my field think with all honesty the unreadable and preachy tomes they promote are “good”.  And ours are bad, perhaps not just despite being fun, but because they’re fun. Because they’ve learned to associate good with “non-challenging.”

Also, because of this our arts have become … stultified.  Not just in writing, but in painting and in everything.  The skewed idea of what art is for; the stuffing of the field with conformists unable to step or even think outside the narrow confines of their indoctrination has created quite possibly the most shallow, uniform and uncreative artistic and entertainment expression ever.  And it promotes some truly bizarrely bad artists who nonetheless get ALL the approval of the elites.

The funny thing is that Peterson describes the artistic personality very well.  If you’re even minimally organized and able to create, you will go very far indeed.  Two of my friends and colleagues are like that.  I fit the more neurotic mold, though how much of that is overwork, I don’t know nor can think about for another year at least.

Still, I wonder what the castrating of our — as a society — imagination does.  Sure, okay, yeah, normal human society doesn’t have a lot of room for imagination.  The good artist is the one just slightly weirder than the average person (yes, I’m a big fail, deal.)  But it needs imagination.

Now that we’re past tribe and the shaman who told us there would be good hunting over the hill, we still need people to tell us as a society who we are.  And we need someone to dream a future for us.  I don’t think the voyage to the moon would have happened without the imagination of the pulp writers (and Heinlein, always Heinlein.)

I think our stagnation on space travel is part of that loss of imagination.  I think how unprepared we are for the actual massive technological change that’s ripping society apart is part of that.

We’ve lost the crazy people who go ahead with the lantern, illuminating paths we never thought of.  Even if we reject those paths, we should see them, so we can choose advisedly.

All we have now are a gaggle of medieval priests, turned back towards us, and blocking the view of other paths and ideas, lest they endanger our soul and the earthly paradise they’re sure is just around the corner if only they can make us CONFORM enough.

This is the way a society dies.

Fortunately the true artists and crazy people haven’t gone anywhere.  They’re just not getting recognition which means a lot of them will die young and in despair, because yes, creative people are neurotic.  But some won’t.  And with the new tech some will find a way to reach the public.  Their public.

For us writers it’s …. ah…. easy… for a definition of easy.

At the risk of all of you thinking I own a copy of Napoleon’s Book of Dreams — I don’t though I briefly considered buying one, because stories — I had two dreams, these last two nights, that I think are apropos….

Two nights ago I dreamed I was in what looked like a Colorado Springs of the future.  (I recognized some buildings on the west side.)

Cities in my dreams are bizarrely dense.  Like, if the thing about bringing the entire population of the world to the US worked, that’s what it would look like.  This one had very fast roadways and these arched pedestrian buildings between massive towers where you could/would fit an entire city’s worth of people.  A few million.  Only all of it was late Victorian architecture, which I think is just me.

Anyway, Dan had gone ahead home, because something needed to be done, and I was following.  And to get home — to the place I needed to be — I had to cross this impossibly high, arching pedestrian bridge.

Imagine a mono-rail width bridge, without safety rails, and made of slats through which you could see the rushing traffic beneath.

I had to cross this, and I thought, way to play with both my fear of heights and my agoraphobia, and then I thought but that’s what I was supposed to do.  The bridge was narrow and dangerous because I was supposed to “defeat” it.

And then ahead of me, I saw a little pigtailed girl, doing back flips as she crossed the bridge, and I realized she was my younger self.

Then this past night, I dreamed something had happened to the roof of our house and we hadn’t noticed, and there were patches of mold creeping down every wall, and we hadn’t noticed.

Suddenly there was a rainstorm and every room was pouring with water, as though we were outside.  Particularly in the ballroom. (We have no ball room, mind you.  DUH.)

But I think, now that I think about that both of those dreams are real and urgent and sounding an alarm.

Both for myself and our culture.

And I think it’s time to wake up.



Kiss Your Ash Goodbye: The Yellowstone Supervolcano, Part II, A Vulcanology Primer – By Stephanie Osborn

Kiss Your Ash Goodbye: The Yellowstone Supervolcano, Part II, A Vulcanology Primer – By Stephanie Osborn

Excerpted from Kiss Your Ash Goodbye: The Yellowstone Supervolcano, © 2018
Images in this article are public domain unless otherwise noted.

How many supervolcanoes are there in North America?

There are ~170 active volcanos in the United States of America, most in Alaska and Hawaii, though there are quite a few along the West Coast states.

There are only an estimated 4-5 supervolcanoes in the USA. These include the Yellowstone Caldera (VEI:7-8), Mt. Mazama/Crater Lake (considered dormant) (VEI:7), Valles Caldera (VEI:7), Long Valley Caldera (VEI:7), La Garita Caldera (likely extinct) (VEI:8), with all except the last potentially capable of erupting. There were more, but they appear to be extinct. Extinct is relative, however; most show some degree of geothermal activity in the area.

Mt. Mazama/Crater Lake (VEI:7)

The central feature of Crater Lake National Park is Mount Mazama in southern Oregon. It is a composite volcano (a composite of alternating layers of ash/cinder and lava) in the Cascade Volcanic Range of the Pacific Northwest, which are fed by the subduction and subsequent melting of the Pacific Ocean floor tectonic plates.

Prior to the caldera-forming eruption, Mazama stood at least ~12,000ft (3,700m) in altitude. Post-eruption, it now has a maximum height of 8,934ft (2,723m) at Mount Scott (2mi/3km east of the caldera rim), which is a parasitic cone on the flank of the volcano. [Yes, that’s right, the caldera rim is some 800ft+ (240m+) lower.]

The caldera rim proper ranges from 7,000-8,000ft (2,100-2,400m) altitude, and is 5x6mi (8.0×9.7km) across. The bottom of Crater Lake goes 2,148ft (655m) down; it is the deepest lake in the U.S. The lake IS the caldera, so that’s at least how far it collapsed. Some say that the bottom is near the base of the mountain, others that it goes even deeper.


Crater Lake, the water-filled caldera of Mt. Mazama.


In relatively continuous eruption since 420,000 years ago, things changed around 30,000 years ago, when the chemistry of the melt feeding the magma chamber apparently began to change from a relatively basaltic, runny magma to a much more viscous, silica-rich melt. As this melt grew thicker, the eruptions became more violent.

The catastrophic eruption occurred 7,700 years ago, and was observed by the local Klamath indigenous people, who “recorded” it in myth. It “…started from a single vent on the northeast side of the volcano as a towering column of pumice and ash that reached some 30mi (50km) high. Winds carried the ash across much of the Pacific Northwest and parts of southern Canada…As the summit collapsed, circular cracks opened up around the peak. More magma erupted through these cracks to race down the slopes as pyroclastic flows. Deposits from these flows partially filled the valleys around Mount Mazama with up to 300ft (100m) of pumice and ash. As more magma erupted, the collapse progressed until the dust settled to reveal a caldera, 5mi (8km) in diameter and 1mi (1.6km) deep.” ~USGS website

Subsequent eruptions from vents inside the caldera created what became Wizard Island, as snow- and glacier-melt slowly filled the depression. Eventually eruption ceased, and the ruins of Mt. Mazama began to resemble the beautiful Crater Lake we know today.

Mt. Mazama is officially considered dormant by the U.S. Geological Society.


The Valles Caldera (VEI:7)

Sometimes called the Jimez Caldera, this supervolcano is located in northern New Mexico, 55mi (90km) north of Albuquerque. It is named for the numerous grassland valleys (Spanish: valles) contained within the circular caldera, which is about 13.7mi (22km) in diameter. It is similar to Yellowstone in that the caldera also contains hot springs, fumaroles (steam vents), gas vents, and volcanic domes, in addition to meadows and streams.


The Valles Caldera as viewed from the rim. Note the volcanic domes dotting the floor.

Credit: National Parks Service.

Geologically, it is one of the best-studied calderas in the U.S. There are at least two known calderas on this site, the Valles, and the older Toledo Caldera. The nearby and associated Cerros del Rio volcanic field is older still, indicating multiple supereruptions at this site. Overall, these and related nearby volcanic features are included within the Jemez Volcanic Field & Mountain Range, which stretches across three counties in New Mexico.

Several layers of silica-rich lava and tuff (welded ash) in the region are ample proof of the eruptions, the most recent of which was some 50-60 thousand years ago and resulted in the current Valles caldera. Previous eruptions date back at least 14 million years.

The cause of the vulcanism seems to be the intersection of the Rio Grande Rift (a continental rift zone, running N-S from central Colorado state, USA, to Chihuahua state, Mexico) and the Jemez Lineament (a series of faults running E-W 600mi (965km) from Arizona east possibly as far as western Oklahoma). The Valles Caldera does not, therefore, appear to be due to a solitary mantle hotspot as such, but to rifting occurring in the middle of the continental plate, though this rifting may be from convective uplift in the mantle.


The Long Valley Caldera (VEI:7)

The Long Valley Caldera is in central California along and slightly east of the westernmost Sierra Nevada Range. It and the adjacent Mammoth Mountain/Mono-Inyo complex are around 55mi (89km) northeast of Fresno, California.

long valley

Part of the Long Valley Caldera, looking east from the north rim.


The caldera is ~20mi (32km) long, 10mi (16km) wide, and up to 3,000ft (910m) deep. It generated a massive supereruption some 760,000 years ago, producing the Bishop Tuff formation. The grand total of ejecta was some 150cu.mi (625km3), after which the surface sank nearly a mile (1.6km) into what had been the magma chamber.

The cause of the supereruption is unexplained; it is not fueled by a mantle hotspot, nor is it provided melt via subduction.

More, while it is adjacent to still-active Mammoth Mountain and the Mono-Inyo crater chain, and at least appears to be associated with them, the magma chemistries are very different, indicating they do not share a common melt system, and are NOT associated. This is an interesting puzzle.

“The caldera remains thermally active, with many hot springs and fumaroles, and has had significant deformation, seismicity, and other unrest in recent years.” ~USGS website

The activity is sufficient to run a geothermal power plant located there. But how much of this activity is due to the Mono/Mammoth complex and how much to the caldera source is not fully understood. Smaller eruptions have occurred around the caldera on a semi-regular long period, but the lava extruded has apparently been increasingly crystalline in nature, which may indicate that the magma source is cooling significantly.


La Garita/Creede Caldera (VEI:8)

The La Garita caldera-forming eruption is estimated as one of the largest eruptions on Earth. It lies in the midst of a huge region in the Rocky Mountains called the San Juan Volcanic Fields. The town of Creede sits on what would have been the north caldera rim, with Pueblo, Colorado 110-115mi (km) east-northeast; Colorado Springs ~120mi (193km) northeast; Denver ~150mi (240km) north-northeast.

This region became active some 35-40 million years ago, with an exceptional period of activity from 30-35 million years ago. At the tail end of this flurry of vulcanism, the La Garita supereruption took place, roughly 27 million years ago. It ejected some 1,200cu.mi. (5,000km3) of material, which became known as the Fish Canyon Tuff. This ash deposit covered an area of AT LEAST 11,000 sq.mi. (30,000km2) in a layer whose average depth was 328ft (100m). This tuff is surprisingly uniform chemically, indicating it was ejected all in a volume.

The resulting caldera was a monster 22mi (35km) wide, and anywhere from 47-62mi (75-100km) long. It is no longer recognizable as such to the untrained eye, however, as a single resurgent dome (Snowshoe Mountain) has filled it.


La Garita Caldera (red dotted outline), with resurgent dome (Snowshoe Mountain) inside it. Credit: http://elements.geoscienceworld.org/cgi/content-nw/full/4/1/17/FIG4


The energy of the eruption was some 5,000x the largest nuclear device ever detonated on Earth, the Tsar Bomba, a 50MT explosive. This places the La Garita supereruption at 250 GIGATONS of energy. The area devastated would have encompassed a substantial portion of what is modern-day Colorado, not counting ash fall.

Vulcanism in the San Juan Volcanic Field as a whole, including the La Garita supervolcano, apparently ended 2.5 million years ago. It is considered extinct.


What’s the strongest supervolcano ever known?

The biggest known eruption in geologic history IN THE USA — some say in the world — was the Fish Canyon eruption in the La Garita megacaldera.

The biggest known eruption in geologic history in the WORLD was the Guarapuava-Tamarana-Sarusas eruption in South America. The eruption occurred ~132 million years ago, produced an estimated 2,100 cu. mi. (8,600 km3) of ejecta, and was probably at least the equivalent of the La Garita eruption.


To obtain a copy of Kiss Your Ash Goodbye: The Yellowstone Supervolcano by Stephanie Osborn, go to: Kiss Your Ash Goodbye.

The Sons And Daughters Of The Future – A blast from the past from 2/25/14


*Sorry guys. I was going to put up a guest post, but we had to run errands early morning, so it would be late, and I don’t do that to guest posts.  And I’m running a (very mild) fever due to something son brought home from rotations.  (See, we should never have taught him to share.)  So I’m sorry, but it’s a blast from the past. – SAH*

Almost twenty three years ago, right after I’d given birth, I was handed this slim pamphlet that started with how I couldn’t hope to mold my child.  I remember one phrase, which is still stuck in my craw: “Your children aren’t yours.  They’re the sons and daughters of the future.”

At the time I wasn’t sure if the nausea was from that sentence or from the morphine they were pumping into me, (because I had a massive uterine infection, due to three days hard labor.)

Now I’m fairly sure it is that sentence.

There was a comparison to children as arrows, shot from a bow, and you couldn’t control how they flew.

Right now I’m seeing every competition archer among my readers (and my husband used to be one) cringing and going “what do you mean you can’t control it?”

Actually the arrow thing is a good analogy.  Yes, part is how you shoot it, and part is in the wind, and the way it plays, and…

In the same way, some of your kids’ traits are genetic (a lot of them surprisingly so.  My second child is exactly like my dad, and my older child has a way of reminding me of my paternal grandmother, who died a year after he was born.) and some of them will be upbringing.  And some of them you can’t control.

For instance, in making me who I am, there are genetic traits – I come from a family of singularly stubborn people and terribly stubborn women, and also of people who like telling stories.  On both sides – but also the place and time I grew up in, and incidental things in my upbringing.  Given my temperament, if I hadn’t been sickly at a time when the society hadn’t yet processed the existence of antibiotics, for instance, (and so where quarantine and bed rest were strictly enforced for anything more serious than a sneeze) and therefore spent days upon days alone, in a room that didn’t even have a window (it was a shot gun apartment.  The bedroom was the middle room) I probably wouldn’t have started by telling stories to myself and ended up reading voraciously.  I’d have been out hiking, or climbing walls or something.

And while a lot of what I learned was from my mom and dad, from my grandmother… a lot of it was also incidental.  If my brother hadn’t been ten years older than I (just about) and an engineering student when I was a pre-teen, I’d probably never have discovered science fiction.  And if I hadn’t discovered science fiction at that crucial time, I wouldn’t have ended up being guided in a lot of my thoughts on society and the world by Robert A. Heinlein.  And I wouldn’t be here, now.

Now, none of those influences accounts for me as I’m now.  Not even Heinlein.  After a while, you raise yourself.  And no, my parents could not control how I’d react to the states, or the closed shop market of SF/F ten years ago, or— Any of that.

However, my parents could – and did – give me certain principles.  My dad’s was probably mostly “Never cry.  Legionnaires don’t cry.”  I don’t know how long that saying passed father to son I the family – and dad could see no reason his daughter shouldn’t be equally stoic – but there it is.  There was a warrior ethos there.  Even if you’re bleeding from both knees or if – as I did at eight – you just fell from a cliff (Dad and I used to go cliff climbing) and scraped your back raw; you might be in pain, but if you’re still on your feet, don’t cry and snivel.  It doesn’t make it better and it distresses others.  There was also dad’s strong abhorrence to lying (I get a special dispensation for telling stories.  I hope.) If you did something awful, it was better to fess up.  And you treated your friends and associates fairly.  If someone was your friend, or if someone had done you a kindness once, they’d need to do something fairly horrendous for you to ever turn on them.

Then there was mom who instilled in me the idea that you try your best.  You always try your best even if you work yourself into the ground.  If you can, you do.  If you can’t, you still give it a try — as hard as you can.

And grandma with “to stop is to die.”  You keep trying, no matter how many times you’re defeated.  And if you heart breaks, you continue working from your gut.  And also, you look after the weaker: cats, children, lost animals, strangers.  You look after them, because you’re stronger, and that makes it your obligation.  You don’t pass the buck.  You don’t take the animals to a shelter where they might get killed.  You don’t send the starving stranger to the curate or the civil authorities.  You set the table for the ragged man and treat him as an honored guest.  And you take in the poor dumb brute animals and look after them, and if you can find them a home, you make sure it’s good.  Because you’re strong.  And so it’s your duty.

Those are lessons you don’t lose.  Mostly given by example.  If I’m ever tempted to betray someone, I can see dad’s eyes, and feel him glaring at me across the ocean.  And though grandma is gone, if I fail to help someone – or something – in need when I can, I can hear her clucking her tongue.

What I’m trying to say is that the children might be the sons and daughters of the future.  They will – if everything goes well – see times you don’t know, in ways you don’t know.  But how you fire that arrow is important.  What you can give your children in guidance, and more importantly in example, is as important as your genetics and maybe more important.  Because people aren’t dumb brutes.

I find it particularly interesting that the “let them go, you can’t control them” instruction was being given to beginning parents in the early nineties.  It wasn’t as if we lived in a Victorian society where “honor thy father and thy mother” was graven law, inside every public place.

Was it an attempt at making child rearing a “public” thing?  Certainly we withstood a lot of push for us to put them in daycare starting at three months and give them “quality time” an hour or so a day.

And certainly the dream of public child rearing, collective, has been with us a long time, by people who think society would be better improved by standardizing their principles to everyone.

I even understand – all too well – that if I had been in a traditional job, I’d have had no choice.  Many people have no choice.

But that is the impaired situation, not the one to be elevated to ideal.  Even in that situation, you can usually block a lot of time for your kids.

Maybe it’s me making a virtue of necessity, but we didn’t give our kids much quality time.  What we gave them was quantity time.  I didn’t drop everything to play with Marsh.  Oh, okay, fine… there were rousing games of dinosaurs versus army men, but only when the alien dinosaurs invaded (it was this pack from the natural history museum… never mind.) Sometimes.  But most of the time, he played in the office, at my feet, while I worked.

And Robert would sit at my research desk and do his homework.

I sort of kept an ear out for them.

I continued keeping an ear out for them – and that I could have done even if I’d worked. – it requires finesse and reading between the lines, but you can figure out if one of their friends has a flexible relationship with the truth, and if another is leading them into trouble.  You can guess when the kid has decided not to bother with… oh, math.  And you can redirect.

I remember the thrust of that pamphlet was that you couldn’t.  If your kid decided to join a gang, it wasn’t your fault.  And if your kid didn’t want to finish high school it wasn’t your fault.

Part of it seemed to be to absolve parents from even trying.

I wonder how many people overwhelmed by life (and we’ve been too, a few times) took this as an excuse to just let go.  To let the kids grow up however.  “It’s not my fault.  They’re the sons and daughters of the future.”

Fortunately, I remembered dad and my mom and grandma.  Mom never told me that in so many words, but I knew that if I brought home less than a B I’d have to sleep outside with the cats.  It was sort of understood.  Since I was by nature a slacker, and kept an sf book under my geography textbook, and wrote snarky remarks on the side of my economics test (Well, the teacher WAS a Keynesian) if my mom had decided I was “the daughter of the future” I’d probably have dropped out of school in fifth grade and now be a factory worker in Portugal.

So my kids got that same kind of floor put under them.  “You’re expected to learn.  You’re expected to work hard.  No, you’re not expected to do the best you think you can.  You’re expected to do the best I KNOW you can.”  Robert still shudders when he talks of me standing behind him while he wrote an essay and saying “You’re not illiterate.  Watch verb concordance.”

And part of it was… that quantity time.  Not just the time while we worked, but we dragged them with us on things that interested us.  It was at a lecture about Mars that number two son fell in love with aerospace, for instance.  And we’d sit around reading together.  And we took them with us to lumberyards and groceries and talked.  And of course, if they were headed down a dangerous path we headed them off.

Are we to credit or blame for everything they are?  Of course not.  And we do know parents that tried their best, and yet … well, particularly when impairment or mental illness intrudes, you really can’t help the result much.

BUT for most parents, you can.  And it’s not a matter of being your kids’ best friend.  That’s silly.  They have best friends.  You’re supposed to be their parent, mentor and example.  You’re supposed to say “here there be dragons” and “here there be meadows of great beauty.”  You share more of the reasons with them as they grow, of course, but they’ll get a lot of it even without your saying why or how – from how you behave.

They’ll surprise you.  You’ll find they develop talents and notions you never saw coming.  That’s part of the fun.

And as they grow as adults, they’ll change and move away from the roots you gave them.

The arrow will fly through the air influenced by a lot of things, and well away from you, till you can’t see where it lands – but you gave it that first impulse.  And you made it.  It’s your arrow.

You’re not supposed to shoot blind and then say “it wasn’t my fault” if it doesn’t fly at all, or if it kills someone.

Just because you don’t have complete control, it doesn’t mean you have no control.

My children aren’t the sons of the future.  They’re my sons.  And I did my best to make sure they had a future.

Because that’s my job.  That’s what parents do.  Grandma told me so.

Doing Evil by Doing “Good”


There is a peculiar strangeness to virtues, to those things we strive to practice and which are good for us and society in general: you have to know when to stop.

An excess of virtue seems to turn to vice and derange the mind just enough that it doesn’t realize what it’s doing.

Perhaps part of it is that we’re a less religious society, so some people have never been warned of the dangers of keeping the form but forgetting the purpose.  Or perhaps because so many people have forgotten the idea of “virtue” as such and just have these left over, ingrained reflexes of a post-Christian society.  These people can usually be recognized by saying quite the most stupid things about who Jesus was or what he believed, while running down those who have any religious belief in the mean time.  You’ve run into these critters, for instance, deploying memes on compassion to claim Jesus was an illegal immigrant (as though the forms and borders of the 21st century applied to the 1st) or deploying memes to say Jesus expelled the “capitalists” from the temple, (ignoring that the sin was doing it under the aegis of the temple, aka, confusing the market place with religion and vice versa which is not, usually, a sin of capitalists, except in those places corrupted by socialism,) or oh, telling us that we should be willing to pay more taxes because we ere enjoined to look after the poor, or perhaps my favorite from the party of abortion-on-demandTM reminding us that Mary was a single mother, (again completely missing that the forms of the society in 21st century America and 1st century Judea couldn’t be more different.  She risked stoning, had someone not stood by her, and yeah, for the record I completely oppose stoning single mothers, even without divine intervention.  OTOH I don’t remember her asking for government benefits for her baby. Must be a different translation of the New Testament I read.)

But this is not a religious blog, and at least one third of my readers aren’t Christians, as far as I can track.  This was just to explain that the society retains the “form” of Christianity and a lot of the impulses, while having lost the why.

Which allows virtues to morph into truly repulsive behavior, which destroys lives while going unchecked, because it’s hiding under cover of something “we all know to be a virtue.”

Take charity, or if you prefer compassion — caritas, by any other name — which in many ways is unraveling society and destroying lives.

Charity, as practiced by all the Abrahamic religions is supposed to be a PERSONAL virtue.  Sure you can band together with people of your faith or others to extend the reach of your charity. BUT you are not supposed to force other people to participate by force.  That might be organized crime, or perhaps just extortion, and like some organized criminals, you might have the best intentions in the world, but it does not sanctify the arm twisting. Because you’re still “causing harm to do good” and that’s always bad.  Because your knowledge of others is limited, you won’t know the unintended consequences of your actions, or even if you’re extorting from the “right” people. (Not that there’s any “right” people to extort from but people delude themselves about the “rich” paying their “fair share.”

Government is particularly bad about this.

Take us, for ex.  I pay an unreasonably high tax rate, because I fall under a category that is meant to catch under-reporting lawyers and doctors, not free-lance writers. For the government, though, we’re exactly the same thing and if some government drone noticed that we fall into it too, he’d probably assume all moderately-successful writers are exactly like the series “Castle.”

And even programs supposed to be more discriminating (in the right sense) do very weird stuff.  Keeping in mind I’m a writer: we learned earlier that when our kids applied for student loans, we had to make sure my money from writing was in another account, neatly labeled business and locked away by being part of a corporation.  Because suppose I go a few advances, and had been doing well indie for six months, and had 40k in the bank the month the kids applied: the program ASSUMES all of it is available to pay for their tuition (we paid half of each) and none of it would go to taxes or other business obligations.  Nor did it seem to understand the money might be there for some other reason: a new computer, or whatever the need for making more money was.  There were a couple of years we had to shoulder the full thing, because my not unusual situation was completely opaque to what is supposed to be a fairly sophisticated ah “ability and needs” judging program, led them to believe we had a year’s income sitting around in the bank, waiting to be spent on tiddly winks and chocolate milk, and that the kids were only applying for loans out of joi de vivre.

In the same way, many a family business goes bankrupt when the main owner dies, because even though the business’s worth is invested (particularly in the case of farms or restaurants) in things that are neither convenient to sell nor can be sold without destroying the ability to make more money, the government expects the heirs to pay full tax on their WORTH.  It’s amazing how many small businesses (not ours, though some of my colleagues got books seized when the copyright passed to heirs, and the assumption of the copyright value was… interesting to say the least) have a worth of a million or so, while barely making enough for a family of four, once you run it and pay employees.

The thing is this is all done in the name of compassion, which has been outsourced to the government and therefore is going after the — on paper — rich to give to the — on paper — poor.  This is a lot like the left’s conception of Robin Hood (they have him as wrong as they have Jesus.  Mostly Robin Hood stole from tax collectors and gave back to the people.) And they think it’s a good thing.

But the repercussions or our… ah, developmentally disabled tax system has destroyed many many lives.  And not those of the plutocrats the left imagines it’s taking undeserved money from (they should know about undeserved money, since those of them who work work entirely on the parasitic mechanism of the state “equalization”machine.)  It has taken the money from family businesses that had sometimes taken generations of patient work to build, it has made it harder to survive as a middle class working person than an indigent lay-about, and it has made it harder for families to climb out of government assistance, because after taxes the proceeds of honest labor are much lower than what you can get milking the system.

To the extent that generations on welfare stunts the ability to be a contributing member of society this false compassion based on extortion has destroyed entire generations of people and might have done irreparable harm by creating a tribe of anti-socials in our midst, who consider themselves entitled to living as they wish while not working. I’m not sure how many of those a functioning society can support.  I suppose at some time we’ll find out.

That’s the macro level.

The local level…. Ah, compassion.

Look, I do realize that some people, at times, are homeless through no fault of their own.  We’ve never quite hit that point but after some exceptionally bad years, I won’t say we weren’t close.  We stayed off soup kitchens by eating a lot of rice and frozen vegetables for years.

But you have to understand just like our “hunger in America” count dieting people (the question is “did you ever go to bed hungry” or “Do you normally eat all you want.”) so does homelessness in America count your kid who is between jobs and staying in your guest room, or your friend who just moved to town and crashed on your sofa for a week.  The most common time someone in America is “homeless” is 1 day.  Second most common is 2 days, etc.

But there is real homelessness.  Of course there is.  When Acacia Park, downtown Colorado Springs was infested with them (is it still?) I used to hear them talking candidly among themselves during their morning walk.

Do you know what I never heard them say “I can’t find a job.”

Do you know what I heard them talk about?  Drugs, mostly.  The young ones would talk about not going home, because their parents (gasp) would require them to stop doing whatever it is they were doing, drug wise.

There were also complaints about cities making it hard to beg, talk of having “dropped out” 30 years ago, and the injustice of even thinking of finding a job.

Were a lot of these people drug addicted or mentally ill.  A-yup.  Were a lot of the mentally ill drug addicts who were trying to self medicate?  A-yup.  Were a lot of them on the run from legally prescribed drugs that would control that mental illness?  A-yup. Do a lot of drugs, when used over time, have the uncomfortable side effect of bringing on mental illness which might have been latent?  Seem to.  The relation hasn’t been very well documented or studied, but anyone who knows people who did a lot of drugs in the sixties has noted a difference before and after.

The one thing that’s certain is that encouraging (with money and freebies and that famous “compassion”) the homeless to continue in their destructive lifestyle has horrendous social consequences.

Those shelters and soup kitchens that cater to all without demanding sobriety will turn teens who left home because parents objected to their pot use into hardened street people who will not have any skills and fall, rung by rung into being utterly useless and unable to integrate in normal society.

But they do worse.  Around these soup kitchens and shelters, if near residential areas, there grows an area of crime and desolation, because you know, these people still have to pay for drugs somehow.  If near commercial areas, they blight the tendency of shoppers to come to that area, because no one wants to be followed/accosted or screamed at by people who are acting crazy (whatever the real reason.)

The do gooders then claim the fault is of “normal society”, of those horrible bourgeois who don’t want to live or shop in an area where they’re likely to be assaulted, insulted or mistreated, not mention robbed from.

But of course, there are very few (some of course) middle class people who are that by virtue of having inherited all their money.  Most of us stay out of homelessness by working daily, sometimes brutal hours, so we can pay our taxes and still live and build a future for our children.

When you make the work and our limited enjoyments more difficult we move on.

Now the “compassion” in the more “progressive” locales has reached the point of if not outright encouraging, not discouraging “homeless” — which really should be “barbarians” because they’re actually not just homeless.  The habitual ones are people who live outside our civilization as effectively as though they were the nearby tribe who lives from raiding us — from defecating on the street.

You know, I come from a society where many many illnesses were endemic that shouldn’t be: from cholera to TB to typhoid.  They were finally controlled not by modern medicine but by a rigorous program of public hygiene; by making people buy shoes and wear them on public streets and spaces (in my mom’s time, though there was still a law forbidding going barefoot, which I fell afoul of when boarding the train to school on a day I had forgotten to put shoes on.  Shut up. It was in finals.)  Other things it discouraged included spitting or on ground.  Or pooping on the ground, where it could contaminate ground water.

In the densities of people in cities, it is very easy for one barbarian to infect the entire tribe and I look forward to seeing what sort of new epidemics develop in one particular city.  Or I would, if our society weren’t so interconnected and people didn’t travel all over taking their germs.

And ultimately that’s it.  Like a gap in our immune system — or an exploit-worthy flaw in a computer system — this “outsourced compassion” and this non-judging charity without paying attention to when it actually becomes harmful, is a gaping and growing wound through which barbarism is invading civilization.

The idea that instead of people being secure in their possessions and in the enjoyment of their space, anyone who has anything is somehow beholden to those who don’t is a Marxist lunacy, (not Christian) and a part of that whole fixed pie economics fallacy.  It’s the idea that whatever you have you stole from someone, and if you wish to enjoy a clean and safe walk through your neighborhood, you’re some sort of despoiling ogre who caused the filth and the aggression of your neighbor, and therefore must have your nose rubbed in his (never learned to restrain it) anger and filth.

It destroys decent life, enjoyment of the fruits of one labor and the safety that civilization is supposed to provide.

It’s not Charity.  It’s the “Marxist virtue” of envy dressed in charity garb and strutting and dancing to fool children and idiots.

And unless we start combating it, it is enough, by itself, to undo civilization.