The Value of a Human

When I was very little I loved reading and re-reading The Prince and the Pauper. It pains me that I now don’t remember the name of the companion with the prince, but it’s been a good … 25 years since I last read it. At least, might be more.

The story is one of a genre. Even as a child, I identified it as part of a tradition like the one where the princess or prince gets taken from the castle and made to perform menial labor. Because it shows the pauper doing better with the duties of a prince than the prince with the pauper’s life, it is — of its kind — a bit of a fantasy. Very American, of course, and hurray for Mark Twain (I was so young when I first read him I pronounced it Mark Tvain, being wholly innocent of English, but having seen German brands where the w was pronounced as v.) for pointing out a pauper can make as good a prince as anyone, thereby pointing out the inherent hollowness of titles and honors, and inherited wealth…. but perhaps not quite realistic. Look, I’ve read enough about the life of a prince at around that time to know how difficult it would be just to keep up with everything you should do, if you hadn’t been trained to it.

And in this case, trained to it is rather the point.

Humans are amazing creatures. If we weren’t we wouldn’t be in every corner of the world, including highly inhospitable regions. And we wouldn’t be able to survive things that logically should kill us. Humans have lived for years in situations that should have killed them or at least made them irrevocably insane and emerged…. well, alive if not well.

The various wolf-children might or might not be an example of this, since I have read recently most of them are not exactly abandoned as infants, but rather deficient or sickly and abandoned by their parents weeks or days before they are found “living with” a wolf pack or whatever. And maybe that’s true. I haven’t done a deep dive, so I can’t tell you — and it’s an area filled with legend, insanity and ideology, so any truth there has been very thoroughly obscured. But let’s presume a deficient child, abandoned, is discovered living with animals: the child still survived. And yes, it might be one in a hundred that survives, but the fact that any do shows how resourceful and …. invincible humans are when it comes to survive.

What most fish out of water stories emphasize is how hard it is to adapt/learn to live in conditions utterly different from your own. In these stories usually the person survives and thrives, but I suspect in reality, though it’s a mark of our species resilience that we survive at all, there are very few people who would survive. And look you, I am talking as someone who did this. Though I could be more akin to the pauper who finds himself a prince, it still wasn’t an easy adjustment to change countries and cultures. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, willingly and forcibly acculturating was much like going insane. You have to let go of parts of you, of parts of what you know is reality. Every single day brings shocks to the system and new things where you realize you were completely and absolutely wrong the day before. And I swear to you it was a good five years before I realized I was treating people all wrong and giving off all the wrong signals. And a good ten before I more or less could pass and behave like a normal American. Honestly, I think most of the reason I avoided giving horrible offense and/or getting in real trouble was that the accent gave warning I was not quite “from around these parts.”

Yeah, okay, so this might or might not have been complicated by the fact that I’m one of those people that have little or no ability to read others. On the spectrum? Um…. I don’t think so. I’m actually fairly empathetic and for an introvert, I like people, though I don’t like them with me ALL THE TIME. I think it’s more that you tend to assume other people are just like you — it’s the default assumption — right? And it took me a while to figure out I was wrong. I mean, I never fit in with Portuguese culture but by 23 I could pass. And then dropped into another one, where I couldn’t pass at all and had to learn all signals anew. I’m not even sure if there is any native impairment or just very weird life circumstances. (I’ll point out my family were all Odds, though I think mom is convinced she passes, which meant that our family culture also didn’t prepare me for the cultural baggage of Portugal. I don’t know if I mentioned before, but going to friends’ houses as a little, I found myself very much a stranger in a strange land. My parents had raised us with a weird mix of freedom and informality and demands and almost ritualistic behavior that had nothing to do with formal manners or the way people expected you to behave. I think I mentioned the family acquaintance (she was a close friend of a close family friend) who used to chase me around and say the most horrible things about me, and how I didn’t care for the feelings of others, and generally try to set me straight, including the infamous “If you were mine.” While her intentions might have been good (I’ve apologized to her memory, because I think they were) she went about it backwards, sideways and with quite a bit of malice born of the fact that she ASSUMED I’d been taught “proper manners” for the culture. I had not. In fact, other than the fact that one used inferior-to-superior language to older people, I hadn’t been taught any manners, starting with table manners and ending with never having been taught the formalities such as “no, thank you” instead of a bald-faced “no.” Since Portugal is almost as formal as Japan and definitely as ritualized, and since — for instance — some bits like not letting the door swing behind you, and hit the next person when walking out of a room, were only taught to me by my host family at 18, I imagine I spent the first 18 years of my life giving offense to everyone I came in contact with. Combined with living too much in my own head and reading way too many strange stories, I suspect I presented at best as “impaired.” Now, why didn’t my parents teach me manners? I don’t know. I suspect partly because they expected me to pick them up out of the air, as they expected everything else, from proper diction, to reading to the ability to do various things. (They must be way more “gifted” than I am, as I am not very good at learning complex skills out of the air, without instruction.) And partly probably because from the peculiar circumstances of my birth, they expected me to — and the doctor had assured them I would — be mentally retarded. And I was very sickly until I was about 12. So I think there was a layer of “let’s enjoy her while we have her” combined with “she might not be able to learn.”

I tended to follow my grandmother around and pay attention to her, but I paid attention to her when she was doing interesting things, like looking after the animals or planting stuff. I don’t know if she ever realized I didn’t have any manners, or even if she tried to teach me some. I could be remarkably oblivious. (Still can thank you ADD.)

By the time I was ten they’d started grousing that I wasn’t very well mannered, but you know… They still never provided instruction. I learned table manners by observation. Other things like the “no, thank you” thing it took a friend’s parent correcting me. I did learn. I did adapt. I still have a tendency to go somewhere inside my head and completely forget there are people even around me, let alone that they’re talking to me, or whatever. And I can’t even tell you that it’s because I’m thinking of something important or riveting. Very often it’s because something visual has caught my eyes and I’m staring and not thinking at all. (Oh, squirrel.)

Anyway, other than the fact that one way or another I — and I suspect a lot of the people here — are in various ways fish out of water, I am tending to considering something important: What is the value of a human. What is an Homo-sapiens (with admixture, natch) individual worth?

This is important. It is at the root of all the important debates in the world right now, and probably throughout the entire history of humanity.

For most of history the answer has been “not much” save for a few, rare individuals who, through birth or through learning or through other characteristics made themselves valuable. (Though note that other than birth, and that only birth as a monarch or nobleman of some sort that value might not even have been perceived by the humans of their time.)

And right now for a faction — possibly a growing faction of mal-informed, mal-educated humanity — of the world population your value depends on how deeply you tan, and the color of your eyes, and maybe — maybe, but not really — where you were born.

That is, we are back to the oldest valuation of all: “those of my tribe are worth much, the others aren’t even human.” This is rooted of course in the fact that tribes — and before them hominid bands — were kinship groups. There is value in promoting your kin. Evolutionary value, since they carry some of the same genes you have.

Now of course, tribe can be something utterly stupid like “we are attracted to the same sort of people” or even “we studied in the same institution.” But ultimately, through it all, it’s still the same instinct.

This is, needless to say, a problem. And if you don’t see where it’s a problem, you’re going to cause me to roll my eyes so hard they’ll go under the sofa.

You see, it’s a problem because most of the shitholes of humanity, the places still mired in Neo-paleolithic or close to poverty and misery are that way because of tribalism. You don’t pick the best person, you pick the one of your tribe. You don’t do the job out of loyalty to those who pay you, you try to do the job so it benefits your family and kin. You don’t invent, innovate and strike out in new directions, because that’s not what your kin would do/has done from time immemorial.

And we see the same corruption starting to hit all our institutions, where people will forswear their soul for the sake of those they view as kin, be they racial kin or sexual kin, or any other grouping they’ve been convinced exists.

Part of this, of course, is that it is apparently forbidden to study humans. Human intelligence, human resourcefulness, any other qualities we consider inestimable, are forbidden from being studied by all civilized countries.

This is, of course, the legacy of WWII and the eugenics movement that, before it, pervaded all of the west.

It’s also fairly mentally impaired, and shows the problem with never taking second order effects into account; the government sticking its nose where it never belonged; and in general our species behaving as it has since the early twentieth century: like utter morons in the grip of a stupid idea.

Yes, eugenics was a bizarrely stupid idea, built on mythology and legend, and pervaded with assumptions of what made the worth of human important. The rot is deeper than that, but abide a while. Let it stand it was a stupid and murderous idea. It came mostly from man-the-animal-breeder, applied to humans. Except humans as animals are a very curious animal, and nothing like what the other humans are, since we run on thought more than instinct, and therefore are more adaptable/curious and, well….. annoying than other animals. (Though nothing is more annoying than cats. And I’m not convinced they run mostly on instinct either.

But the idea that because humans were stupid enough to treat humans as cows was wrong, then not studying what makes humans smart, or adaptable or resourceful is the thing to do, is bizarrely stupid, and is causing a lot of the distortions in the world, and turmoil and irrationality in society.

For one, more knowledge is always better than less knowledge. For another, sure, if it were proven that one race is consistently “smarter” than the other or that one type of human is more obedient or more adaptable, there might be a tendency to discriminate on race. Because you know, the stupid theories — and some of them are very stupid indeed, like the idea that the ability to tan makes you empathetic, or that the fact that sub-Saharan tribal populations score worse on IQ tests means they’re dumber, or…. — that humans come up with to explain success or failure at various things are much, much better. Or requiring people to have largely valueless (and increasingly more so) college degrees is better than administering a test to know if they can perform, because if those were different for different races, then the test would be racist.

Humans are going to discriminate and be stupid — is it not written “the dumb shall always be with you?” — but to screw up massively and by the numbers it takes a human government, I guess.

Playing keep away with the knowledge of what humans inherent capacity is doesn’t make us better, or less prejudiced. It just means we tend to confuse culture with genetics to the point that idiots think that having to learn the dominant language of the country is “racist.” As though language were genetic.

It also builds an entire system of philosophy based on “systemic” and largely invisible racism. (Or sexism.) Because the reasoning goes something like this: back when there was real racial discrimination, there were a very few, incredibly successful racial minorities (or women.) Therefore, unaware of survivor bias, people concocted this theory that if everyone were given the ability to succeed then every tanned person/woman/whatever would be a genius, with great success.

Of course, that’s not how any of that works. Humans of any race and sex are mostly…. average. Which means if you remove the barriers most of them are going to perform in an average manner. Combine this with the fact that mostly urban intellectuals tend to think minorities (say black people) are like 40% of the population, and you can see how they would be sure there’s “systemic racism” because 40% of people in positions of power aren’t black. (And btw, if black people in the US perform below the 14% or so of the population they are, the fault CANNOT be of race. Because the technical name for most American “black” people is “Caucasian” as most of them have found out through genetic analysis. So if they underperform the problem is culture, particular the culture foisted on them by the intellectuals and the government, including fatherlessness, a persistent culture of victimhood, and being convinced that “systemic racism” makes it impossible for them to achieve. Any racial or for that matter other group of people treated this way by people in power would underperform and have chips on their shoulder the size of elephants. If we started treating redheads like this country has treated black people since the progressive era dawned, in a hundred years they’d also be underperforming.)

And this in the end is because we don’t know what a human is worth.

If we go by the theory of a human being worth what he/she can do (which we don’t, or we wouldn’t have crazy things like affirmative action, or hiring someone to make sure we have “representation” for some crazy thing or other, including sexual inclination) I’d be damned if I’m worth much.

Since this crisis began, I have told people the problem is that I’m not good for much, which usually makes them indignant. But hell, it’s true. I tested high IQ when young, but I’m still not convinced that IQ tests much but the ability to succeed in Academia, and that spottily. Because of ADD I never had flawless grades. Also I had a tendency to complicate simple tests/questions. Other than that? Well, I can rebuild houses, refinish furniture, I’m not a bad cook, I hate driving, and I can tell stories. That’s about it. And all but cooking (and sometimes even that) and story telling are impaired by the fact I run out of energy far more quickly in my late fifties.

Oh, yeah, and I no longer can get pregnant or have babies, which arguably I was never very good at, and which is a definite value to species survival.

So, as far as survival of the species, and probably my own survival, I’m more of a drag than a help.

If that’s how we measure humans — and it’s how statists tend to measure them, since they view humans as debits against the collective, rather than credits that might achieve something for the collective — I am absolutely no good.

Of course, we can’t measure humans that way, if judged against the history of mankind. Some of the most brilliant humans, who helped propel humanity forward, are not….. well…. I read that Archimedes was so absorbed in solving a mathematical equation that he got killed by a Roman soldier. There’s more to that, but you know, personal survival didn’t seem to be one of Archie’s skills, and all of the Greek Philosophers, at least by repute, were less than useless at passing on their genes.

Or take Leonardo DaVinci, who dreamed the dreams of future mankind…. and who was an erratic genius, who never finished anything. Oh, yeah, and an illegitimate child who at least in theory had dramatically curtailed prospects because of that until he overcame them. And who, in many societies would simply have been killed, and certainly not have been taught anything.

The history of mankind is littered with magnificent bastards, cripples, people who in primitive/tribal societies would never have survived, but who pushed humanity forward, nontheless.

And sure, there is a difference between ethnic groups (this is not even at the race level, btw, but at least in countries not America, where traveling was difficult/onerous until the late twentieth century, by the village/city, etc. Sure strangers came in, or we’d all have eighteen toes and be good at playing banjo, but seriously. Where I came from there was “the village of the crazy people” (more than usual number of mental illnesses) and the “village of cunning builders who are good with math” and yeah, I suspect my village was referred to as “Those very strange people” or at least we sent a lot of people to college at a time when it was very difficult to get in, and was considered a privilege of the rich who could hire tutors (which we certainly couldn’t.)) But do we know what the differences mean?

For instance, leaving race aside, there are a lot of female and male geniuses. There are a lot of male and female morons, too. But the distribution is not equal. There are, relatively speaking more male geniuses — and morons — than female ones. Women’s IQ – whatever the hell that means, because we don’t know — clusters in the middle. Relatively speaking. When meeting a new person, male or female, you should mostly assume they’re average. That’s why we call it average. That’s what “normal” people are. I’m sure it’s not very different for races.

There are weird, hereditary characteristics, but we don’t know what’s hereditary or learned, because we don’t allow ourselves to study that.

For instance, my husband is fond of calling me his “excitable Latina” usually under the heading of “Now look what you’ve done. You’re wound up the excitable Latina.” And my sons are…. louder than normal for their culture and age group. Though I’m not sure that’s true when they’re not with family. With family, though, when we lived in downtown situations I was sometimes sure the neighbors would call the police thinking a crime was being committed,w hen the boys were arguing over superhero origin stories.

What we don’t know and can’t know is “Temperament or upbringing?” I can tell you I’m withdrawn, unusually quiet, and definitely not “interesting” for a female in the area I came from. My kids didn’t believe this, until I was with them at the foot of a monument’s stairs waiting for my husband to do something (I don’t remember. It was 15 years ago, okay? He might have been going to the bathroom. Or perhaps buying tickets) and several family groups and groups of women went by us. At which point my sons said “You are quiet, polite and timid for the region.”

But again, temperament or upbringing? Who knows?

And this is problem because if it’s not temperament, they people could be raised in a way that minimizes issues, right? If there are issues?

Sure in rats excitability can be innate. But it is never a good idea to assume mechanisms are the same between different species, and humans are infinitely adaptable. (Contrary to “ethicists'” beliefs a rat isn’t a human.)

So what is all this about: What is a human worth?

If we studied — say — the genetics of various people, wouldn’t we be tempted to discriminate against those whose genetics show them not to be brilliant. I don’t know. We don’t even really know what our genetics do. For instance, my genetics say I wake up naturally at 7:15 am. BROTHER. They also say some truly strange things, like that I have celliac disease (I don’t.) Or a bunch of other nonsense.

BUT Sarah, suppose we study more and find that say people from a certain city/place are not very smart. Wouldn’t we discriminate against them?

Depends on what “Smart” is. And I suspect we’re going to find real performance is a mix of genetic inheritance, predisposition, upbringing and accident.

Intellectually smart is not the same as smart, and certainly not the same as people smart or cunning. (Witness me and the mathematician trying to sell something, and you’ll think we’re morons. We do sell houses okay, but only because I treat it like telling a story, and because we’re not present when the buyers come through (there’s a reason we always move first) otherwise we’d give the house away and apologize.)

When I was a young, ill-mannered child, one of the things I did was follow — mostly old and crusty — handymen around, looking at what they did.

Most of them weren’t going to pass any IQ test. Hell, most of them barely could read. But they could do things I couldn’t do involving calculations of tensile strength and design. Even if they didn’t know the words for that.

Their “IQ” might be low, but they absolutely were needed to keep the village in roof and walls through the winter.

As for breeding humans as animals, that was always rather stupid. One of the things we don’t know for sure is how “Smarts” are impaired. Or passed on.

One of the “miracles” of the village — a brilliant young man — was the son of the mentally-impaired farmer’s daughter, and (like in the joke) the traveling salesman. Her entire family were tenant farmers and none too bright. Those who interacted with the traveling salesman described him as cunning and unscrupulous but not particularly brilliant (As proven by the fact he barely made it out of the village ahead of the pitchforks.) And yet, the result of this union taught himself to read, outstripped everyone in the village school and went on to outperform practically everyone in a stem degree (I no longer remember which) in college.

Is intelligence hereditary? Well, almost surely some components are.

What does that mean? I don’t know and neither do you. Both of Leonardo Da Vinci’s parents had several other kids with other people. None of them were remotely remarkable. Chances are that Italy is littered with their descendants. Most of whom will be perfectly average.

Oh, yeah, the “mentally retarded” girl in my class, whom I’d estimate at a mental age of six but who learned to read, write and count money, after a fashion, was, in the way such things were managed in the village, married to a boy with similar impairments (which would keep her from being taken advantage of and give her two sets of family to watch over her) and they were given an old house to live in. He did odd manual/requiring strength jobs, and she cleaned houses. They had seven kids before (literally. This is not a joke) someone thought to tell them what caused it. And two more after that but more spaced.

I went to school with this girl. She was very sweet but seriously, I can’t even imagine her keeping house or raising kids, though I’ve been assured she did/does both very well, if at a very basic level.

Most of her kids went to college. With no money for tutoring. With no help passing exams. And certainly with no money for private colleges.

Were both of them impaired for reasons having nothing to do with genetics? Maybe. Or maybe it was the combination that made their kids suddenly above average.

I don’t know, and neither does anyone else.

And this is why both refusing to study humans and the idea of breeding humans like cows are industrial grade stupid.

Humans, as the fish out of water stories prove, are not necessarily “Smart” or “good” or “useful” except sometimes, if we’re very lucky, in a particular niche, where we can excel.

If society values individuals and allows us to be good in our niche (Or as Pratchett put it “find out what you’re really good at”) the result is advancement/better life for everyone. If however we treat humans like widgets with certain genetic characteristics, everyone fares poorly and the world sinks into barbarism.

“But Sarah, that means we shouldn’t study people!”

No, that means I should study how to to swear when I get that kind of stupid response. Because humans are tribal, if you don’t study what makes humans “good at x” they’re going to assume. And they’re going to paint with the broadest and stupidest brush imaginable. So we get “Black people are more empathetic” or “Punctuality is white” or other poisonous, pernicious nonsense that’s actively destroying lives.

Used to be we overcame tribalism and didn’t have to worry about crazy eugenicists because the default mode was Judeo-Christian. I.e. the person next to you might be a moron, but his soul was of as much worth as yours, he was made in the image of G-d same as you, and so you had to respect him/her.

When that broke…. we got eugenics, and attempts to “improve” the human breed by killing job lots in the service of the theories of a lunatic who had seized control of a mega state.

Perhaps I might propose that we need to respect other humans because we are human. Perhaps teach kids that no, they’re not perfect either, and that if they try to eliminate the “dumbasses” they’ll end up eliminated. Teach kids to recognize the impulse to tribalism and the darkness in every human soul.

Other than that? Tread carefully. Every human whose right to exist you diminish diminishes your own right to exist. And yes, that extends to the womb — unique DNA — and to convicted criminals, and to the very very old.

If humans aren’t valued only by what they can do, then all of those are human and you must respect them to respect yourself.

It doesn’t mean it’s never right to kill people. For many humans who are murderers or dangerous, it’s the only way to keep other humans safe from clear and present danger. Arguably more human than life-long incarceration. And yeah, sometimes it is the mother or the child. And yes, not killing, but definitely not engaging in heroic measures to save Grandma for another three days (Much less locking down all of society to save grandma for another six months, endangering children and destroying livelihoods int he process.)

But it means it’s never okay to do it cavalierly, because others are inconvenient; because others are in your way; and because you think you’re somehow superior or have that right. Because every time you do that, you destroy a bit of what it is to be human. In others, and in yourself as well, and in society in general. And at the end of that road lie mass graves.

We must restore the idea humans are worth it because they’re human, as we are human. Each of us is a vessel of unending potential. All of us have the possibility of doing something important. Now, it might be a STUPID important thing, like the ability to chop wood when there’s no other way to get warm, or perhaps just knowing that a certain plant is poisonous because someone told you, once.

But it’s on all these small, stupid things that humanity advances. It is this that makes the future better than the past.

A single human is worth the future. Because there’s nothing else that will build that future.

Find out what you’re really good at, then do it as hard as you can.

Be not afraid.

Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

Behold, the rare and Elusive Monday book Promo post!

*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. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. I ALSO WISH TO REMIND OUR READERS THAT IF THEY WANT TO TIP THE BLOGGER WITHOUT SPENDING EXTRA MONEY, CLICKING TO AMAZON THROUGH ONE OF THE BOOK LINKS ON THE RIGHT, WILL GIVE US SOME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR PURCHASES MADE IN THE NEXT 24HOURS, OR UNTIL YOU CLICK ANOTHER ASSOCIATE’S LINK. PLEASE CONSIDER CLICKING THROUGH ONE OF THOSE LINKS BEFORE SEARCHING FOR THAT SHED, BIG SCREEN TV, GAMING COMPUTER OR CONSERVATORY YOU WISH TO BUY. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

FROM LIANE ZANE: The Harlequin & The Drangùe: Book One in the Elioud Legacy Series

Olivia Markham lives a complicated life. By day, she is a star CIA officer working a cover as a graduate student in Vienna. By night, she is a self-appointed, kick-ass superhero wearing a harlequin’s hood and wielding a wicked bō.

Life is about to get more complicated.

The sexual predator that Olivia tracks one July evening to Vienna’s Stadtpark calls himself Asmodeus, a demon’s name. Olivia doesn’t care what he calls himself. She’s just there to save an innocent young woman. What Olivia doesn’t know is that Asmodeus has followers he calls bogomili after an ancient sect of believers. She suddenly finds herself fighting to save her own life against these vicious, soulless creatures whose mission is to release souls from the bonds of a corrupt world.

Across the Stadtpark another hears Olivia’s battle with the bogomili. He is a drangùe, a powerful warrior with supernatural abilities who is duty bound to save innocents from Asmodeus. This drangùe will stop at nothing to defeat his age-old enemy—even if it means risking everything to bring Olivia into his world. A world in which the drangùe has his own cover identity. He has good reason to distrust this beautiful young woman who hides secrets that could get him killed or worse…. But the drangùe must keep Olivia close in order to stay one step ahead of Asmodeus. The only problem is that the closer he keeps her, the more the drangùe wants to keep Olivia in his life. And that is not part of his long-term battle plans.

FROM DAVID L. BURKHEAD: The Ships of Elemak (Knights of Aerioch Book 2)

The kingdom of Aerioch has fallen. Only Kreg and his newfound friends remain. And while the fearsome changeling armies are no more, the task of rebuilding Aerioch remains daunting. They must first escape the land of Chanakra and somehow cross the sea of Elemak.It is then, when their troubles will really begin.

FROM CEDAR SANDERSON: The Case of the Perambulating Hatrack.

She was trouble, and from the moment she sailed into his office in search of a PI, Soldagh Dennessey was caught in her wake.

In a city where the streets started mean and went worse, Soldagh had carved a relatively solitary existence out between the goblins in their dens of minty iniquity, and the gnomes who’d snitch on their own mothers for rent money. Rough as it was, he’d come from worse family, and had no intention of going back.

As the case grows tangled and terrifying, Soldagh is starting to suspect the past he’s been avoiding lies at the bleeding heart of the matter. And only the few friendships he’s made and an unexpected ally might be enough to save them now…

WITH STORIES BY SARAH A. HOYT AND CEDAR SANDERSON (AND BIGGER PEOPLE.): When Valor Must Hold.

Fifteen tremendous authors. Fourteen extraordinary stories. One outstanding anthology.

It is a time of high adventure! A time for noble men and women to say “No!” to the evils that will befall their families and friends if they don’t rise to the task at hand. If their valor doesn’t hold, civilization will fall.

Fifteen authors have spun fourteen tales of hateful wizards, treacherous seas, and scheming foes. Of times when ancient evils roamed the Earth, looking for souls to claim, and dark prophecies foretold what would happen if the Evil Ones were allowed to succeed. This anthology has all of this and more.

When Valor Must Hold focuses on heroes worthy of facing such enemies. A tiny brownie stands up to a massive ogre. A mother races to protect her children. A hunter chases raiders. A guardian serves his king. Heroes lead forces into battle against overwhelming odds. There’s even a goblin trying to save his people by stealing dwarven rum.

Inside are fourteen fantastic stories of enemies testing the valor of heroes great and small. If their valor should fail, they will lose far more than their lives.

Will their swords shatter shields? Will their magic shine forth? Or will they see their homes and families perish when they fail? Step inside and find out!

FROM SCOTT SLACK: By Three Moons’ Light.

Lieutenant Brown has a simple set of orders: Destroy a buried Karstian anti-orbital laser. If he does, the Strathar fleet he’s vanguard for can take the fight to the Karstian invaders who seized the planet from Strath.

Unfortunately, simple’s not the same as easy on the planet Jotunheim. First, his platoon has to make a long march undetected through the deep wilderness. If they survive, there’s still the hard fight against the military installation ahead. If he fails, the fleet and the invasion are at risk.

A story of The Ares March.

FROM SAM SCHALL: Risen from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3)

As a Marine, Ashlyn Shaw knows the day might come when she would not return from a mission. As an officer in the Fuerconese Marine Corps, she’s faced the difficult duty of sending the men and women under her command to their deaths. Both are nightmares she, and so many like her, live with. War is a cruel and costly endeavor, but one well worth the cost if it means keeping their homeworld free.

What Ash wasn’t prepared for was betrayal. Betrayal by members of her own government. Betrayal by certain members of the military. Betrayal by supposed allies. Betrayals that cost the lives of too many she cared for.

Unluckily for her enemies, that betrayal has cut too deeply to be allowed to go unpunished. Her enemies will soon learn how foolish they were to push her too far.

FROM T. L. KNIGHTON: With Triumph And Disaster

Alien life is theoretically possible, but what few signs of life are scattered through the universe are of primitive cultures that barely made it out of their own stone age, if that.

So when a big discovery threatens to shake the very foundations of xenoarcheology, it’s big news. The problem? Someone doesn’t want it discovered and they’re willing to kill to keep that from happening.

When an old friend asks Tommy Reilly and the crew of Sabercat to give them a hand, he can’t say no.

That’s when things get interesting.

FROM ALMA BOYKIN: Oddly Familiar.

Ah, October, when the ghosts, and spirits walk, and the Off Ramp of Doom falls quiet. Too quiet…

Lelia Chan and her Familiar, Tay, continue learning about magic and what mages do. When a customer drops a strange silver disk in Belle, Book, and Blacklight, it starts a chain of events that pull Lelia deeper into shadow magic. André Lestrange and Rodney return to help sort out the off-ramp. Someone else returns, someone who wants to open doors best left closed. Lelia and Company have their hands and paws full dealing with the forces of darkness and bad jokes.

Evil walks on All Hallows Eve. It’s up to Lelia and Tay to send it back where it belongs. Or else.

FROM BLAKE SMITH: The Hartington Inheritance.

Almira Hartington was heir to the largest fortune in the galaxy, amassed by her father during his time as a director of the Andromeda Company. But when Sir Josiah commits suicide, Almira discovers that she and her siblings are penniless. All three of them must learn to work if they wish to eat, and are quickly scattered to the far reaches of the universe. Almira stubbornly remains on-planet, determined to remain respectable despite the sneers of her former friends.

Sir Percy Wallingham pities the new Lady Hartington. But the lady’s family will take care of her, surely? It’s only after he encounters Almira in her new circumstances that he realizes the extent of her troubles and is determined to help her if he can. He doesn’t know that a scandal is brewing around Sir Josiah’s death and Almira’s exile from society. But it could cost him his life, and the lady he has come to love.

FROM SARAH A. HOYT: Deep Pink.

Like all Private Detectives, Seamus Lebanon [Leb] Magis has often been told to go to Hell. He just never thought he’d actually have to go.
But when an old client asks him to investigate why Death Metal bands are dressing in pink – with butterfly mustache clips – and singing about puppies and kittens in a bad imitation of K-pop bands, Leb knows there’s something foul in the realm of music.
When the something grows to include the woman he fell in love with in kindergarten and a missing six-year-old girl, Leb climbs into his battered Suburban and like a knight of old goes forth to do battles with the legions of Hell.
This is when things become insane…. Or perhaps in the interest of truth we should say more insane.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

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: WALK

Post Pep talk reaction

So, I gave him a pep talk, and he took it further.
And he’s right.
I’m not even sure war will break out. To an extent that’s the hope talking. It might be complete civil disobedience and then they run away — the ones with power — and EVERYTHING comes out.
I do have a good feeling for “everyhting comes out and they lose all power and credibility.”
BUT it might happen the way he says. There’s a great anger already stalking the land. And it ain’t getting better.
This is not end game. This is not the end of the beginning, even.
Be not afraid.
Push on.

Dio's Workshop

Went over several of my regular reads after reading tha ATH post yesterday

Most of my readers should be familiar with Malthusian thinking, Malthus in particular, and that nut from the 70s that keeps making starvation predictions and walking the goal line forward even though its obvious the theory is skewed.

I am seeing a lot of that Malthusian chicken little shitte again. The pep talk helped me clear some of the fuzz from my eyeballs. First off, the FedGov has isolated itself behind steel barricade topped with razor wire and 20k+ troops of questionable loyalty. (And the PTwB know it hence the attempts to purge all non diverse types from all the branches and why that weasel lipped quisling was assigned to SOF as its key diversity officer. )

Think about that. They barricaded themselves in, an incredibly small territory with the illusion of massive power. Yes, Illusion. Its…

View original post 642 more words

But The Lizard Will Surely Die

Yeah, okay, so we’re back to Rango.

You see, when I was sitting here (minding my own (or at least my characters’) business), what caught my attention FIRST was the owls saying “But the lizard will certainly die” as the poor domesticated chameleon is running through the desert facing a million perils.

There is something…. awfully familiar about those owls.

Oh, yeah, okay, Greek Chorus — though I’ll note those didn’t always predict misfortune, sometimes they predicted great honor, which is I guess next door to it, as far as ancient Greeks were concerned — look, I grew up with the classical forms, to the point that when I first wrote a novel I couldn’t remember any of the novels I’d read, not structure wise, but I remembered the tri-part structure, how scenes were defined, how acts were defined. Oh, and that I needed catharsis. To be fair, I still think you should have catharsis in a book. I’m forever amused by people who tell me their books shouldn’t have feelings. Or the ones who complain of “internal monologue” in first person. Yeah? You think you don’t have internal monologue going on 24/7? What do you think that voice behind the eyes is. Being ADD (AF) all I try to do is prevent my characters thought stream from interrupting itself. Sometimes not particularly successfully. (True story: Copy editor: you can’t end a thought with a dash. The character wasn’t interrupted. There’s no one else there. Me: The heck. You’ve never interrupted yourself?… I guess it should have been an indication I wasn’t QUITE normal.)

Anyway, beyond the Greek choir, it was familiar because — honestly — I’m getting sick and tired of the “Abandon all hope” stream. No, seriously. If I wanted that, I’d be hanging out at Zero Hedge or other sites known to be Russian dizinformazia.

(Gee, I wonder why Russia — or China — would want us to give up, buckle under and just give in to the current invaders’ demands and/or kill ourselves in despair. Either or– I mean the insanity of the left was being capable of believing that Russia would back someone who wanted to “Make America Great Again.” HOW fricking stupid do you have to be about how nations work, and history to believe that shit?)

Even people who know better write long articles about how China is going to win and be the big hegemon forever, world without end. And now that the left stole — remember, they HAD to cheat — their way into power, we’re going to turn into China, and woe, woe, woe.

No matter how often I tell them — and I’m not alone, and frankly like looking at the Diamond Princess numbers when the “pandemic” started, this is only sense — that yes, that’s what China thinks. It might be what the left thinks too (the dumber ones, at least. The smarter/not crazy/not stoned our of their minds ones are just trying to get rich and run out the clock and not get a la lanterned). But their thinking it doesn’t MAKE it so. Yes, that’s what their moves trend to. BUT have you seen their idea of reality and how far it is from, you know, real reality? What makes you think that what they think is the perfect move is in fact a perfect move? They’re not playing 3 dimmensional chess. They’re playing 3 dimmentsional tiddly winks on an invisible chess board that exists only in their minds, while using live frogs as tiddly wink pieces.

Sure, China is going to be the world hegemon forever…. In defiance of their very long history of in point of fact not having a clue other cultures EXIST or that other people are different from them. An history that, back when they were the most advanced people in the world meant they often turned tail and isolated themselves, rather than deal with those icky, icky foreign devils who were so utterly irrational.

But let’s go with that. Tell me, oh, wise ones, how does China feed her people, once they take down the US? Because without us buying their (mostly crap, TBH) products, out of our abundance of wealth, and feeding them with our cheap agricultural produce out of our abundance of production, China can’t in point of fact support itself. It collapses very fast and goes into of their warring states periods.

Can that happen? Yeah, sure it can because Chinese blind spots mean they don’t understand they can’t stop the wheel of the world’s production and innovation and go on their merry way. They’re the Middle Kingdom. They need no barbarian power, and life would be much better without the barbarian power.

So yes, China will try to grind our bones to make their bread.

But my guess is LONG before they get to the point we’re there, they collapse. However, that’s neither here nor there. The truth is if they try to do that, they collapse.

And what are we doing then, under their heel? Sitting with our thumbs up our butts? Because why? We suffered a paralytic stroke? For one, once the left stops getting loads of Chinese monopoly money, THEY collapse. And probably run away, though you know what, I wouldn’t put it past them trying to rule from a bunker. They almost are right now.

This is the same with “It’s 1984, and the left will rule us forever.” What? Like all the other great totalitarian regimes in history, which within years couldn’t feed themselves? Sure, they’ll rule us forever, because we’re going to live on air and unicorn farts.

Also I’ll remind you that we’re bigger in landmass than Germany, bigger in population than Russia, and that even there the resistance in the form of a black market and various f*ck-f*ck games not only existed but arguably were the only thing that functions.

I mentioned that I’d watched Le Roi Danse, in French for the love of heaven — though not precisely true. I watched various parts of it — and part of what struck me was that the insane man — he invented bureaucracy, you know? — was trying to build the model of the industrial totalitarian state. Except things weren’t to where he could yet. And now they’re well past it.

The 1930s were the ideal world for 1984. Since then? Not so much.

Yes, sure, But spying devices, they know everything about us, and reeeeeeee.

I know, I know, running around with your head on fire is great fun isn’t it? And believing things are hopeless absolves you from trying to do anything.

But if those spying devices/ubiquitous data gathering were so d*mn effective, they wouldn’t have NEEDED to fraud at the last minute, in plain view.

One thing the left can never process is that other people lie to them. It’s part of their conceit of themselves that they are the smartest people in any room, so they know they can lie to us, but us? Effectively lie to them? That’s not possible.

The other thing that none of the people running around with their heads on fire get is that no tech, none can process the masses of information these ass clowns are gathering.

Information gathering ALWAYS exceeds the ability to process it. Sure, they can process more now, but they can gather exponentially more. I recommend you watch The Lives of Others to understand this discrepancy.

This is why, ultimately, totalitarian states are ineffective and starve. Because their terror is ultimately always arbitrary which personally scares the crap out of me, but it doesn’t mean it scares the crap out of me HISTORICALLY. Sure, their random bullshit could kill me and mine. Meh. We all die sometime. But America will come back and go on. ALMOST for sure.

Look, we’re in a pickle and no mistake, and the bullshit we’re letting these idiots get away with is going to make my great grandkids (if I ever have any eh) work ten times as hard to have a decent life, and innovate.

But you know what? We don’t have an America to bail us out and enable us in our stupidity. By our sheer size, and the fact we’ve been the engine of the world for so long, if we fall nothing replaces us. Which is good, because it means we can’t go on playing at socialism while someone else grows the wheat and sends it over to feed us.

In the end, America will have to unf*ck itself, because there’s no America to come bail us out.

Or, you know, we go down into the stonnnnnnne ageeeeee forever. REEEEEE.

Except that’s never happened. Ever. Correction: It’s absolutely possible, if you’re a small tribe, and your place gets covered with a volcano. But with a world-wide civilization?

Bah.

The Lizard will surely die, yeah.

Just like it was surely going to die when the “hammer” of the Soviet Union fell. Except because the Soviet Union was a totalitarian state, its might was mostly smoke and mirrors, and could only persist so long as people like Jimmah carter enabled them because they were so scared of this “vaunted might.” And the fact the Soviet Union would “inevitably” eventually win.

I grew up with this shit. No one who lived through it can imagine how all the serious people stroked their chins and told us about the great efficiency of the soviet union, and how they were going to win the cold war, or send the whole world into the stone age.

And then Reagan stood up to it. And told them “We win, you lose” and the whole thing crumbled, like the rotten illusion it was.

So, having been there? This whole “China will ruuuuuuuule us foreeeeeever” is awfully familiar.

Look, the lizard in the Diamond Princess is sunning itself on deck and laughing, while you run around screaming of doom. Just as they were back a year ago. AND YEAH I TOLD YOU SO.

But yeah, we’re in trouble and no mistake, with a Junta having taken over and hating us with a burning passion.

And? It’s not even the stupidest thing we’ve ever done. Tell me another country who ever banned alcohol ALCOHOL for the love of Bob. And another government who went around poisoning alcohol.

FDR was a greater menace than these assholes. His every instinct was totalitarian and thanks to mass media, he was not even suspected of the shit he puled and thanks to the perilous knowledge/control of history he fooled a good 85% of the people. And those he didn’t fool thought they were alone.

Yes, yes, yes, I know. The Lizard will SURELY die. But not today. Probably tomorrow, by slipping in the shower. Maybe.
But you know what? Yeah, every human civilization is mortal.

But we’re not ready to be eaten by a hawk, or even a blinkered dragon yet. And we won’t be.

Unless, of course, the lizard convinces itself to lie down and die.

In which case, China still won’t win and certainly not forever. The left won’t win and certainly not forever.

But we can CHOOSE to lose.

The question is: WHY WOULD YOU?

F*ck that noise.

To quote President Reagan: In the end we win, they lose.

Be not afraid.

The Portugal Hoax

Completely made up

I feel today is a good day to at long last come clean.

I know I’ve told you guys — told everyone, really — that I was born and raised in Portugal. It’s time to reveal that this is in fact impossible because there is no such country.

If you think about it for maybe ten seconds it should be obvious, of course. Look, the country is supposed to be an afterthought on the edge of Spain and — to tip you the wink — the profile where it’s supposed to meet the sea looks exactly like the face of a grumpy old man. In fact, precisely the kind of grumpy old man who would make up the existence of a whole country and keep it going to pull your leg and make you believe that it really exists.

We all met men like this. Unfortunately in my case, it’s my dad, who has the world’s worst sense of humor, and who, of course, wasn’t even an old man — or grumpy — when he pulled the strangest pranks on me, such as the time he convinced me that all the extra snot you get when you are sick was because snot is brain lubrication (I swear I’m not making this up. He did) and when you’re sick you make extra lubricant to cool the brain. I was thirty when I casually mentioned this to my husband, and he cracked up. Later, I asked dad how he could have told me that ridiculous story and he looked puzzled and said “I never thought you’d believe it.”

Ladies and gentlemen: I was six. Of course I believed it.

Well, I suspect Portugal started like that. Probably the kings of Spain, France and England were having a rousing argument or something, and getting drunk, and suddenly one of them started chuckling and said, “Hey, Felipe!” (All kings of Spain are named Felipe, by law. No one knows whose law, but there it is) “What if we made people believe there was an extra country at the edge of your country, between you and the sea. Not the whole length, you know, just at the bottom?”

“Are you nuts Henry?” (Almost all kings of England are named Henry, of course. Or were till one of them decided to make a sport of chopping off his wives heads.) “Hey, Henri,” (A lot of the kings of France were named Henri. when they got tired of people confusing them with Henry, because people could never remember to pronounce it “Han-ree” (Like Han Solo, but they never host first) the switched it over to Louis, which they pronounced Loo-eee (Look, the French are very weird people, and I say this as someone who has at least some French ancestry) and ran up quite a number before they chopped the last one’s head. Monarchies and chopping people’s heads go together like…. like axes and a lot of screaming.) “Get that wine away from Henry. He obviously has had enough.”

“No, no, guys, listen,” Henry said. “We can pretend that all the discoveries were done by this tiny little country, who then does nothing of import ever again. And we can have fake wars and stuff, you know? ‘Oh, we’d totally do that, but Portugal won’t let us. And you know, Portugal has a fearsome navy!'”

Henri and Felipeb– who often confused themselves for the other, because they forgot the pronunciation raised the usual objections — “But won’t people notice there’s nothing there?”

“Of course not, Felipe. You just hire some actors and have them talk Spanish with a funny accent, like Russian or something, and tell people they’re Portuguese. No one will never know. Think about it. We can all get together and laugh at them.”

As we know they decided to go ahead with it. And people bought it, improbable history and all. I mean what are the chances that a country the size of your bathmat would discover most of the now known world? And if they had that kind of genius, what are the chances they would never invent anything else ever ever again, and their primary exports would be wine and cork?

Though of course, in later years, the governments that replace the monarchies, made a good thing of it. Portugal became sort of an attraction, an amusement park of a country, displaying whatever ideas were fashionable at the time, from national socialism to international socialism, and being, you know, very colorful and obvious, and theatrical.

It is only now, that Covid-19 has closed tourism, that Spain has realized this was a losing enterprise and it is time to come clean before the world.

Their prime minister wired the French Premier (or the other way around. Their republics have confusing position names) who wired the prime minister of England who said in a grumpy ton, “I guess. Do whatever.”

And so today the world’s newspaper are filled with the exploding of the Portugal hoax.

As one of the actors, raised from birth to play my part, as we said “Para Ingles ver” (For the Englishman to see) I want to apologize to the world for my fractional part in the deceit.

There is no Portugal. Portugal is and was an improbable hoax, piled with an even more improbable history and with a ridiculous explanation for that history and for why they never did anything else worthwhile on the world stage.

Now you know.

Me? I’m just waiting till they come clean about the EU.

Keep Your Feet

I doubt it will surprise any of my readers that I was a fairly…. unusual — let’s go with unusual — child. Not only was one of my favorite pastimes during recess from middle-school on balancing on the edge of a flower bed, but when I started going to middle school, which was out of the village, I had to take a combination of buses that looked like the one above and legacy “trolley cars” that looked like this (without the advertisement. They were a chaste yellow):

Now often both of them were filled to the gills (usually if it was raining) and it will tell you something that mom saw it fit to tell me that I should not under any circumstances grab on and hold to the back, like the street boys did, because it was dangerous.

When the bus was full, the biggest danger was pervs performing frottage, which is why grandma gave me the world’s largest hat pin and told me where to stick it if some guy was rubbing against me. It wasn’t an if, but a when and (once I went to high school downtown where the buses, and sometimes the trains were packed at the hours I used them) about once a month I made some perv scream like a little girl. (And in the bus the conductor would stop the bus, come out back and punch him out of the bus. Note far from being traumatized by this, I’m still very cheered at the conductors’ decisive actions.)

But not that particular route and on the morning schedule (Portuguese schools have morning and afternoon schedules, no lunch period and no homeroom/study hall.) Mostly they were completely empty.

And yet, most of the time, instead of sitting, I stood in the isle and balanced. I tried to do it without holding on to the seats on either side. And it was harder than it sounds, since Portuguese traffic is slightly less (yes, I know what I typed!) sane than Italian traffic, so sudden stops and take offs at speed were completely normal.

Why did I pride myself on being able to keep my feet? I don’t know. Maybe because I was just starting to grow out of a prolonged period of clumsiness.

Or maybe because I couldn’t read — or I’d go past my stop. No, trust me on this — and I got very bored.

Anyway, I got pretty good at it. One of the drivers was our neighbor and a family friend, and sometimes I’d catch him looking at me in the rear view mirror and grinning. (Since I babysat/half raised his kid, who was the same type of kid I was (so much so it’s hard to believe he’s not a blood relation) I assume there was a pretty good chance the neighbor had been that kind of kid as well, and knew what I was doing.)

This image came to mind when I was thinking of what to write.

It’s something like this: we were, before this branch covidian nonsense came about already in a period of crazy rate of change. I know that publishing was not only upside down, sideways and tilt-a-whirl, but changed every two or three years, so that some of the things that made you insanely high earning, suddenly, over night became a liability.

I want to write, not to follow statistics and charts, so you know, mostly I try to keep an eye out on what other people say is working, and if my indie income falls through the floor, I go investigate by asking my more connected friends.

BUT the point is that things were already changing at a crazy clip.

The problem with that is that when things change very fast humans get froggy. Don’t believe me? Go look at time lines of technological change actually affecting the daily life of most people and track it with periods of great disruption: wars, revolutions, etc. (The etc normally being “stupid sh*t governments do.”)

Look, I’m a fan of innovation and change. It’s highly doubtful I’d have survived my first year if we were still hunter-gatherers. But our back brain is at odds with our curious-ape ability to transform the environment around us.

Our back brain mostly wants tomorrow to be exactly like today, only slightly better, but not enough better that we can’t keep our footing and don’t know where tomorrow’s meals are going to come from: even if they’re better and delivered right to the door.

Humans, being great apes are incredibly status conscious too. So, you know, we really need to know that this thing we trained really hard for is still going to give us status. We need to know what we learned in our 20 years in x field will have some value.

Unfortunately in the early twenty first century we were already all at risk of the fate of the lamp lighters, the buggy whip makers, etc.

Because, see? when I went through school, learning to touch type was guaranteed money forever. I don’t think this is true any longer.

I know, in the fields I work in or have friends in that things were completely different. And also that people take really long to catch on — hence people still longing for traditional publication. Trust me, not worth it — so that they don’t fully realize what’s going on, certainly not what’s going on in other fields.

I know translation has gone a long way towards being automated. I know that my friend who manages retail says that she expects what she does will go away, anyway, in 10 years.

And I have in the past predicted that …. well, most of the fields taken over by the left were on the way out. This was only partly because of innovation, mind.

I mean, look, humans also resist change, with both feet and possibly by tying themselves to the masts of their ships and stuffing their ears with wax.

So, would books have gone to ebook format if it weren’t for the fact that paper books had fallen victim to a double blow of the publishing houses being taken over by glitterati preaching Marx and bookstores falling victim to “efficiency schemes” (“the computer says we should order to the net”)?

I don’t know.

Sure ebooks are a much more efficient and cost effective way to distribute story. But I expect it would have taken decades to get even halfway accepted, because people are creatures of habit. Only because the offerings were so thoroughly unpalatable in paper, it pushed the move to ebooks.

So, I was predicting a lot of problems with the industries that, like mine, had forgotten they were supposed to cater to their customers.

However, then the covidiocy hit. And it nudged a lot of other changes for which the tech existed, but which, in fact, had still been making their buggy whips and might be making them in perpetuity… if not for the left’s attempt to drag us back to the 1930s.

For instance, the tech has been there for my husband to work from home since the mid 90s. In fact, he’s done so since the mid-nineties on occasion, like when he was sick, or there was too much snow on the ground.

But the expectation, up to last year was that he would still need to go in to the office at least three days a week. And sometimes every day. Because that’s what people did.

Until — they didn’t. Until most people with desk jobs realized they could in fact work from home. Oh, and they could teach their kids at home and do a better job than the schools (which arguably is damning with faint praise.)

As the post from Chef K showed yesterday, this has set a second order wave of disruption.

You see, the left doesn’t get second (or third) order effects at all. They’re playing a game they played at other times, with other measures. The homeless invasion of our great cities, the crazed lockdowns, all of this is to make what they believe is great real-estate available for their buddies.

I shouldn’t laugh. Because in publishing the disruption is well in motion, covidiocy is the coup the grace and yet publishers and distributors are dancing the pavane on the beach as the impending tsunami has drawn the waters way back.

So how could they possibly foresee what they’ve done to the cities by applying the butt-kick of covidiocy to society and causing us to actually use remote-work technology.

The funny thing is some of them must get it. Because I’ve started seeing articles here and there stompy foot stompy foot insisting that by gum the cities are too coming back and that only about 2% of workers can work remotely. If they said 20% it would have a little more credibility, certainly, but it’s the 2% and the hysterical tone of the articles that make me giggle, because they are so much like the stuff I was reading even 10 years ago, the whistling past the graveyard articles of traditional publishing screaming “just wait, they’ll come back crawling.”

As I said, 20% is probably closer to the mark for “can work anywhere” — though it might be higher as I’m hearing of people working remotely in professions I wouldn’t think would be ready for it — but there are the “support professions” that will follow those, all the faster since the left has taken 2020 and 2021 to destroy everything that made it worthwhile to live in a big city.

Sure, okay, retail workers can’t work in small cities the same as in large, but only yesterday I found a new company doing grocery delivery — just delivery — even to very small towns (where the nearest grocery store might be half an hour away.) And I’m sure there are other such things starting up.

Point is, except for manufacturing (and particularly with the crazy stuff this administration is imposing on all employers, from minimum wage to unionization to who knows what? that is increasingly more automated factories with very few workers. And can be located — as we discussed here the other day — anywhere train lines reach…. which is far outside big cities. (Where it’s often impossible to build these days)) the hands on professions were in the cities because that’s where people had to be to do all the jobs.

I think that’s coming to an end. And no, I don’t have any idea what things like restaurants will look like. I’m going to guess if they have to serve five or six small towns, instead of a concentrated population, we’re going to see a lot more of “prepared food delivery” probably refrigerated to re-heat at home. (And yes, I do know that all the chefs just screamed. And yet, these things tend to follow necessity.)

Universities I expect to be distributed, with perhaps concentrated teaching “workshops” for things that must be hands on.

The museums, the symphonies, all of those might very well remain in cities, or at least in cities that successfully transition to “touristic destinations” which won’t be all of them. The mayors killing their cities and betting they will return are engaged in a fool’s game.

When they say “normal” isn’t coming back, they are right. But the future that’s taking shape is not what they think it is. They think the future will be with them in control of our every breath, of everyone’s movements and what everyone is allowed to do.

The state they aspire to is that of Louis XIV, standing for his portrait and declaring “L’etat c’est moi.”

But that was the nascent state of the industrial age (not yet in full bloom, and its full hit would consume Louis’ descendant.) the machine, and the gear, and everything in its place.

This is not where we live now. We are entering a distributed age, where civilization is where we are and where you can work in a city thousands of miles away from your home.

Oh, and those who think that will be a global state are ignorant innocents who don’t understand the importance of culture and shared law. If the covidiocy didn’t teach them these lessons, nothing will.

But even in China, the clockwork state is in trouble. In fact, their latest exploits are a sign that they are in trouble and fighting to keep the mandate of heaven.

As for our own idiots… I’m interested in how their every spasm, their every attempt to stay mounted makes is more and more certain they will fall. And the longer they hold on, the harder the fall will be.

They don’t even understand the forces they’ve unleashed.

To be fair, I’m pretty good at divining the near future, and even I don’t see clearly what this future will look like, except for distributed, more individual, and in some ways smaller (but probably not poorer, once we’re past the socialist death spasms.)

But ah, the socialist death spasms lie ahead. We didn’t pay for the socialist folly in the nineties, and we should have. There should have been trials and executions, and there weren’t. And now–

I’m still praying the butcher’s bill passes us by. But I’m not expecting it.

Mind you, like everything else, the unrest and the violence will be localized, both in time and space, while around it life will go on.

But even past that turbulence, things will change very fast. Once that little trolley car is careening down a street with a 45 degree incline, it just gathers speed.

So, what can you do? How can you ensure you continue to survive, maybe even thrive in this insanity?

Ah, well, I can give you some lessons from my riding the buses, standing and without holding on to anything:

Stay alert. Look ahead. You don’t have to look very far ahead, just enough to see if the car ahead is braking. Or in this case, take a deep breath, and look month by month, sometimes week by week, to see what’s changing, and what might cause a drastic change in your life, your profession, your family. Month by month, week by week, even day by day.

Stay flexible: keep your knees loose, and be ready to keep your knees flexible for that sudden stop or start. Or, in this case: stay flexible in skills and how you use those skills. Think of other ways you could do your job, other ways you could sell your products, other things you can do to get by. Day by day.

And, because the government is a great big perv, in this case one that got onboard without paying his ticket, and at any minute is going to come up behind you and take liberties, keep that big hat pin handy. And make sure you know where to stick it. Hopefully you won’t need it, but better be prepared.

And just in case, make sure you have a few friendly drivers handy to remove the nuisance from your immediate vicinity, or at least stop it pleasuring itself at your expense. That is, make sure you have networks, and people who will come to your aid in a sticky situation. Or before the situation becomes sticky.

It’s only going to get crazier. But you can stand.

Be not afraid.

Keep your balance.


State of the Restaurant industry 2021 – by Chef K.

State of the Restaurant industry 2021 – by Chef K.

The world is undergoing a systematic restructuring. Not a Great Reset, or a Leap Forward. A re-prioritizing of life, all politics aside.

If we had started the glide into work from home 20 years ago when it really became possible to do so, people wouldn’t be going through this awkward phase where they find themselves crash landed into it. Everyone’s schedules are thrown off and they are trying to figure out how to run things outside the generally accepted principals of the past 100 years.

For a year, most of them have only known home/shopping/outside. They have cycled out of the normal patterns associated with commuting. With heavy schedule keeping. No after school activities, no faith-based activities, very few extracurricular activities. And it’s a real quandary for what to do when we filled our schedules to the max before the pandemic.

Now, Fridays and Saturdays, they are flooding downtown here. Monday mornings can be perky too. But T-Th, it’s the cold death of space out our door. Nothing and nobody.

Traditionally,  office workers would hit us on the way into the office and at lunch. Well, no one’s coming in to work, and they aren’t traveling downtown to get lunch. We run 2 people, myself included T-Th, and 4 people F-S. 3 on Mondays unless it’s raining, as there are still plenty of people traveling over the weekends.

 However, if you aren’t located next to or in a shopping center, you’re not seeing daily traffic. Which means your employees (current and prospective) aren’t traveling that way either.

It’s a very odd, unique time right now as people figure out priorities and standards. And also remember, retail & fast food(kroger/walmart/mcdonald’s/etc…) were able to pay bonuses during the pandemic due to increased sales. Restaurants were laying people off left and right. That left a mark on the industry. Suddenly the normally easy cash they relied on for a boost to the bottom line (holidays, birthdays, bills to pay off) was no longer reliable. Servers especially. With the move to take out only, they – even the most dynamic and requested – became expendable. And if they do come back, it’s a totally different feel during a shift. The 2 hour lunch rush now comes in a half hour, and the rest of the time is taken up by one or two tables. At best. Take out orders at worst.

The reliability of picking up extra shifts to pay for that vacation is gone. The kids that were in school while you picked up lunch shifts, that’s gone too. Now there is a 50/50 chance your kids – and everyone else’s – are actually in school. So call it childcare insecurities. Lots of insecurities extend from this situation, and the restaurant industry was in no position to acclimate to them. And is struggling to find its own feet in all this.

And if you consider how much of our lives are touched by people who work in and around the industry, you get the feeling that this situation is only the visible part of the iceberg. There are people who are having the same restructuring in all fields and professions. The local federal courts are going to continue Zoom trials after the pandemic is declared over. They are finding it to be an easier managed situation for both parties, as well as reducing court costs. Telemedicine is certainly going nowhere, so how much office staff does a doctor need?

Even teachers aren’t assured anything at this point, as public schools are seeing record enrollment drops and saving a ton on building costs and maintenance.

Leases, contracts, corporate fleet buying, school nutrition contracts…

We really haven’t begun to deal with all aspects of this restructuring.

In all things, do what good you can where you can and when you can, but shore up your own base first so you’re in a position to help.

Insanity

Insanity is a dramatic deviation from reality. Whether it’s a relatively minor one like believing your cat is trying to say human words (guilty) or an elaborate and more difficult one, like the proverbial belief that you are Corsica’s gift to the martial arts (is that ever a thing, or was it just something comic artists seized on?); whether it’s relatively harmless (no one cares if I scream at the cat “Speak clearly.” At least if I’m not in public) or very dangerous, like believing your at is whispering that you should kill the neighbors and put their pieces in a garbage bag (oh, please, Havey is too stupid to have a concept of neighbors.) insanity is a deviation from reality. (I almost typed consensus reality, and that way lies one of the dangers, which I’ll mention later.)

I don’t think there breathes a single human who is not at least a tiny bit insane by the strictest definition. As Heinlein pointed out, some illusions are even functional and parents’ belief that their kids are the most beautiful and smartest human beings on the planet keeps the kids alive to adulthood. Because sometimes the temptation to strangle the living daylights out of them will be almost unbearable, say when the four year old blows a crater in the backyard. (Actually it’s worse than that, because you don’t know whether to giggle or scream, so you can die of an apoplexy before you even think of yelling at the kid.)

I suppose my own, personal bit of undeniable insanity is that I believe stories show up fully formed in my head, as though I were a receiver for some master story teller elsewhere. And I talk about it that way too, by saying thing like “I just can’t get properly tuned to receive this story.”
By everything rational, this is an insane, nay, a possibly utterly bug nuts belief. But it is a functional one. It works for me, to cast what I do in that terms, and I certainly don’t demand that anyone think or believe the way I do. Even husband more or less pats me on the head and makes the expression that means “well, it works for you.”

But we all have some. People talk to plants; believe they can hear something that’s patently impossible to hear, etc. People also have strange ideas that don’t accord to the real world but which don’t hurt anyone — under normal circumstances.

It’s perfectly possible — or was until the late nineties — for me to be friends with people who believe that every country has the same priorities as America, or who thinks China elects their government, or that everyone lives at least at the same level we do.

Which brings us: why till the late nineties?

Because since then the media/overculture has been on a tear to sell us a “consensus reality” which has no contact whatsoever with real reality, but which locks in every part of it, in lockstep.

They’ve been building a great, overarching madness, in which women are the most oppressed people of all, unless it’s against transwomen who are even more super oppressed; America is systemically racist, but other countries (snort, giggle) are better; all other countries are more tolerant and people have more rights than we do; it is possible to pay everyone money so they can “pursue their art” and we’ll all be automagically rich and food will materialize from the air along with medical care, and possibly free unicorns; the only people standing in the way of this are “haters” who is anyone who doesn’t agree with the program as proclaimed that day; and all we have to do is put the right (left) people in charge, and it doesn’t matter if they take all our rights away, because they are so perfect and loving and want to take care of us.

There are branches to this madness, like the idea that if you get rid of the police/guns/self-defense violence will stop; that if there are no possessions there will be no crime; that there is no difference between men and women, but you should be able to change from male to female and female to male, even though these categories don’t actually exist.

The deeper you delve into this insanity, the deeper the waters of madness become, till they cover everything and everyone, into a grand unified theory of nonsense that doesn’t connect to anything real.

Look, yep, there are transsexual people — real ones (very, very few, percentage wise, but they exist) — ;and there are racist assholes (very few, but we’re a population of 300 mil. There will be assholes); and there are instances of discrimination against every possible category of humans, and some impossible ones too.

But the world — the real world — as it exists is imperfect. There’s always going to be something. The more you look for something — whether it’s ways to make money or instances of microaggressions — the more you’re going to find.

This doesn’t mean you can somehow find every instance of the bad things and turn it into good things, because that’s not the way the world works.

You can’t stop every instance of child abuse; racism; mass killing — well, pretty much anything. Because humans are humans, capable of both self will and dissimulation. You can’t control everyone. And the more you try, the more power you give to the people who control it all. And think about it, what type of people want to be in charge of deciding what everyone can’t and can do? They’re not usually the most selfless, other-oriented people in the world.

Part of the problem and the reason saying “Consensus reality” is wrong is that it doesn’t matter what the consensus is. We can all believe that food will rain from the sky every day at 12 pm and yet it won’t happen.

But you see,t he left believes it will. When they tell you “The consensus is” as though that meant “reality is” it’s because they believe this is true. They’ve gone around the postmodern bend so far that they think that believing makes it so. Which is why in 2008 in Denver we were treated to the bizarre spectacle of their trying to levitate the mint.

This is also why they get so made when you tell them their beliefs are wrong, and this is what makes our speech “violence” — because if we all believed, the world would be paradise. This is also why they want everyone to say the election was completely aboveboard. Because if you all believe it, it will have been so.

There are many forms of madness. A madness imposing itself from above results in the insanity that was 2020 (and 2021 isn’t getting any better. Worse, it results in insanity like the Cultural Revolution in China, which killed millions and destroyed knowledge and material wealth in untold amounts.

I know, being bombarded from all sides with the insane narrative makes it feel like it must be us who are crazy. But it is not so.

Consensus (which they don’t have, and we know they don’t have it, because they’re destroying every possible means of figuring out what the consensus is) is not the measure of reality.

Reality is the measure of reality. All of your wishing upon Das Kapital one make a single one of Marx’s insane assertions correct.

All it does is tilt you further and further away from reality.

And reality is a stone cold bitch. She always wins.

So insanity will cease, because it has to.

The only question is what remains after. Build over, build under, build around, and get ready to hold when the Earth Shattering Kaboom comes.

Be not afraid.

Book Promo And Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

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. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. I ALSO WISH TO REMIND OUR READERS THAT IF THEY WANT TO TIP THE BLOGGER WITHOUT SPENDING EXTRA MONEY, CLICKING TO AMAZON THROUGH ONE OF THE BOOK LINKS ON THE RIGHT, WILL GIVE US SOME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR PURCHASES MADE IN THE NEXT 24HOURS, OR UNTIL YOU CLICK ANOTHER ASSOCIATE’S LINK. PLEASE CONSIDER CLICKING THROUGH ONE OF THOSE LINKS BEFORE SEARCHING FOR THAT SHED, BIG SCREEN TV, GAMING COMPUTER OR CONSERVATORY YOU WISH TO BUY. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

FROM MACKEY CHANDLER: Another Word for Magic.

Fleeing the Solar System after an attack by North America, the three Home habitats now have to seek their own fortunes. Heather, Sovereign of Central on the Moon saved them but now has to make certain the USNA can never threaten them again.
What was a tentative research partnership with the Red Tree Clan of Derfhome becomes a full alliance of equals. Lee finds she has to grasp authority and act for the Red Tree Mothers and herself to repossess the planet Providence she and Gordon discovered. The Claims Commission on Earth has collapsed without the leadership of North America. Explorers like her are cut off from their payments and the colonists on Providence are left in the lurch too. To do that she needs these powerful new allies.

FROM NATHAN C. BRINDLE: The Lion and the Lizard

Thirty years ago, Dr. Ariela Rivers Wolff, M.D., Ph.D., AKA The Lion of God, had a pretty exhausting week.

Her world was invaded by time-traveling soldiers, she was nearly turned into human toothpaste by an experimental dimension jumper when she went to find her parallel “Dad,” who just happens to be able to borrow a Space Force fleet to come and take out her world’s invaders . . . and then she found out she was considered by those same invaders to be a saint in their odd religion, and one of the targets of their invasion. If that wasn’t enough, she nearly fell completely out of the universe into a time rift, being saved only by the skin of her teeth by her parallel “Dad”.

After all that, learning she was going to be the one to bring universal healing and long life to the human race in her particular timeline was just the icing on the proverbial cake.

Anybody else would go home, turn off their phone, pull all the blinds, lock all the doors, and take the rest of their life off. But Ari isn’t “anybody else”. And her cult of admirers across two timelines won’t take “nobody home” for an answer.

Fast-forward thirty years. Scientists have detected radio transmissions in an unknown language from several hundred light years away. And now she’s been asked to use her special “saintly” skills as demonstrated on her last “mission” to make first contact with whoever they are.

And that’s only the beginning.

Looks like Ambassador Dr. Ariela Rivers Wolff, M.D., Ph.D., is going to have another pretty exhausting week. Or six.

FROM BLAKE SMITH: Hartington Abroad.

Jeriah Hartington is far from home. Born into a wealthy family, he is now reduced to poverty. In desperation, he signs on to a ship headed for the planet XKF-36. Their mission? To search for colonists who’ve been lost nearly as long as Jeriah has been alive.

Jeriah fully anticipates an adventure as they travel into the unknown wilderness. He never expected to find living people, eager to tell the tale of their sufferings. But their hair-raising account could be the downfall of everyone on the planet, even their rescuers. For a villain lurks within the ship’s crew, and no one can say who he might be.

FROM ANDREW FOX: Hazardous Imaginings: The Mondo Book of Politically Incorrect Science Fiction.

Science fiction is NOT a safe space!

Two short novels and three stories by the author of Fat White Vampire Blues push the boundaries of taboo in science fiction. An English archeologist who yearns for the love of a young Jewish refugee sets out to convince a majority of the world’s population that the Holocaust never happened — hoping to not only wipe it from the annals of history, but also from reality. The Martian colony Bradbury sends an investigator to pursue a gay Uyghur murderer in a future Australian city where members of each ethnic and grievance group are invisible to all those who don’t belong to their tribe. A far-future academic treatise describes a rediscovered Fusionist liturgical text that combines the writings of radical feminist Joanna Russ and female slavery fantasist John Norman. An aggressively therapeutic State of Florida lovingly wraps its bureaucratic tentacles around those it deems unenlightened. A born-again Christian cafeteria worker in a small Texas college town becomes the only friend of an insectoid alien come to evacuate humanity from a doomed Earth. These stories leave no sacred cows unprodded.
“Remarkable work in an incendiary time. The Truest Quill.” –Barry N. Malzberg, author of Beyond Apollo and Breakfast in the Ruins
“Andrew Fox writes like a combination of Kurt Vonnegut, Dave Barry and Molly Ivins…” –Lucius Shepard, author of The Golden and Life During Wartime

FROM C. V. WALTER: The Alien’s Accidental Bride.

Molly was no stranger to life’s little detours. After the last upheaval, she left her family’s law firm to become a maintenance technician on the Space Station Bradbury 12. When an accident knocks her off her feet, she’s going to have to draw on all her resilience to get back up. First, though, she’s going to have to figure out how to talk to the big, blue alien trying to help her.

There wasn’t supposed to be a space station where Mintonar’s ship emerged from the galactic bridge. As far as they knew, there wasn’t supposed to be intelligent life on the planet, either. Proof of how wrong they were is laying in his Medical Bay and it’s his job to save her. When he touches her, his life turns upside down and his mission suddenly includes figuring out why everything inside him insists she’s his mate. And convincing her of the same thing, especially when they don’t even speak the same language.

FROM ODESSA MOON: The White Elephant of Panschin (The Steppes of Mars Book 2).

Near the Martian north pole, six linked domes form the mining city of Panschin. For generations, they have burrowed into the Martian underworld, digging tunnels, mining ore, and uncovering its secrets.

          At Panschin’s mining conference, Airik, the daimyo of Shelleen, hopes to find allies to exploit his family’s newly discovered Red Mercury lode. But the prospect of fabulous wealth has drawn a target on Airik’s back: for con artists and their schemes, companies hoping to scam him, and women wanting to become his wife. Overwhelmed, Airik flees the attention with his aide, secretary and bodyguard, searching for a quiet place to work in peace.

          For Veronica Bradwell, her family’s disgrace after her father’s financial scandal and suicide forces her to open the doors of their last asset, the mansion nicknamed the White Elephant to boarders. And while Airik and his “cousins” look suspicious, they are well-mannered and, most important, paid in advance.

          But Veronica has more concerns. Younger sister Shelby wants to become an artist, and her education at Panschin University. requires opening the White Elephant to a gallery showing led by Professor Vitebskin, whose ideas of art clashes with Shelby’s instinct for beauty and color. As Shelby struggles, she forms an attachment with Malcolm Cobb, a young bank executive who masks his mining background with a serious ambition to rise in Panschin’s hierarchy.

          When a sinister thug approaches Veronica demanding to buy the White Elephant, she learns that old sins cast long shadows, that some people never forget, and that the mysterious guest Airik is hiding secrets of his own.

          “The White Elephant of Panschin” is the second book in Odessa Moon’s “Steppes of Mars” series. Set on a terraformed Mars hundreds of years from now, the peoples descended from Olde Earthe’s cultures struggle with the planet’s mysteries, the elite’s quest for power, and the longings of their human hearts.

FROM M.C.A. HOGARTH: Mindtouch (The Dreamhealers Book 1).

Seersana University is worlds-renowned for its xenopsychology program, producing the Alliance’s finest therapists, psychiatric nurses and alien researchers. When Jahir, one of the rare and reclusive Eldritch espers, arrives on campus, he’s unprepared for the challenges of a vast and multicultural society… but fortunately, second-year student Vasiht’h is willing to take him under his wing. Will the two win past their troubles and doubts and see the potential for a once-in-a-lifetime partnership?

FROM ELLIE FERGUSON: A Magical Portent.

Storm clouds gather. An unknown danger nears, one that may spell the end of Mossy Creek, TX, and all those who live there.

Dr. Jax Powell and her best friends, her sisters from other misters, are determined to do whatever it takes to protect their town and loved ones. Each of them, once considered the town’s wayward children, have returned home. All but one: Magdalena “Maddy” Reyes. She’s not refused to return to Mossy Creek, but she appears to have dropped off the face of the Earth—or at least from the streets of Dublin.

Can they find Maddy and save their town or is it already too late?

A Magical Portent is novella-length story that follows Rogue’s Magic.

FROM DENTON SALLE: Oath to a Warlock

Peng planned to continue to serve the Master in the stables. After all, magicians lived forever. Qian thought that she would care for her niece and marry who the Master said to. Neither of them expected the Imperial Censor to come

Yaros wasn’t happy with the plan of impersonating the Censor and his retinue. All to keep an oath given to a warlock. How much blood would be shed for a traitor?

When magics and weapons clash, nothing goes as planned. And more than two lives are changed

A fantasy novella set in a China where Rus Vikings changed history.

FROM J. P. MAC: Death Honk: Nine Tales of the Macabre

Trespass forbidden boundaries, cross into eerie dimensions, mingle with the sinister and the lost in a treasury of nine peculiar tales ranging from the supernatural to the satirical.A naïve publisher blindly sets in motion the annihilation of Earth.

High school students risk their lives in a brutal quest for popularity.

An ambitious District Attorney struggles against the consequences of his inane policies.

Written over a decade, these stories span the worlds of magical realism, dark urban fantasy and classic horror. Greed, innocence and betrayal draw characters into settings laced with tension, black humor, and the creepy abominations of H.P. Lovecraft. So grab a copy, relax and set your imagination to cruise as an anthology of fantastic fables awaits.

And… under taking my own medicine, after months of yelling at my friends to send me at least one book a week, as long as it’s not same book…. And yeah, I’m working on Bowl of Red, slower because– well, there’s more stuff going on than I’m at liberty to disclose for the next two months. After which the books should come fast and er…. furious…. including the reissue of Darkship Thieves. Please be patient – SAH

FROM SARAH A. HOYT: Draw One In The Dark.

Something or someone is killing shape shifters in the small mountain town of Goldport, Colorado.
Kyrie Smith, a server at a local diner, is the last person to solve the mystery. Except of course for the fact that she changes into a panther and that her co-worker, Tom Ormson, who changes into a dragon, thinks he might have killed someone.
Add in a policeman who shape-shifts into a lion, a father who is suffering from remorse about how he raised his son, and a triad of dragon shape shifters on the trail of a magical object known as The Pearl of Heaven and the adventure is bound to get very exciting indeed.
Solving the crime is difficult enough, but so is — for our characters — trusting someone with secrets long-held.

Originally published by Baen Books.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

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: SUSPECT