The Writer Definitely Is In A State

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Recently, while talking to Cedar Sanderson, she told me she loves my state of the state writer.  What can I say? Some people have weird and perverse tastes.

But I’m using that as an excuse, because I don’t feel like thinking of some deep theme, or even some light theme to write about.

Also, for those of you who follow me at instapundit, the last two weeks with — I THINK — all of two nights of posts need some explanation.

So, what happened was this, mid-January, the week before Cosine, I started getting a sore throat.  Since my preferred mode is recluse, we all assumed it was either psychosomatic, or my auto-immune acting up out of stress, which is another way of saying psychosomatic.

When it whomped me fully the day after the convention I thought “tiredness.” and because I’m very stubborn, it took me a few days to go to the doctor.  By then I’d been sick three weeks, give or take, and was starting to think it had to be something more than a cold which usually takes me about a week to get over.

Well… no. Apparently it’s a cold, or at least “what’s going around.” It’s entirely possible it’s a chain of illnesses, starting with a virus that then leaves you weak enough for the next assault, rinse and repeat.

I know that whatever I have now is at least partly bacteria, because the anti-biotic is working, but it’s working very slowly.  In fact, the doctor called to say if I still felt ill at the end of the course, call them again, and they’ll re-prescribe, which I think is doctorese for “this is happening with a lot of people.”

I have no actual clue what this is, except that it’s bug from heck.  I wasn’t coughing, but that’s probably just my body being an idiot, because I had tons of post-nasal drip, but I was having ear, nose and throat pains, and was vaguely nauseous and achy and just generally exhausted. No, really exhausted.  As in work for an hour, need a nap.  I was also forgetting everything, like emails, phone calls and such. Which is a problem as I’m point woman for part of the wedding stuff.

It was one of those: stare at email, go “oh, I really don’t have the strength to even open that” go back to bed.  For someone as neurotic as myself, who usually can’t sleep if I didn’t close off “business” for the day, this was a bizarre experience.

I might end up ten pounds heavier too, as I just couldn’t bring myself to exercise.  Heck, walking to the kitchen counted as a little jog.  And yes, my body DOES manage to gain weight while sick.  And here I was so proud of not gaining any weight through the holidays.  Oh well.

On the writing front: I finally delivered the ridiculously overdue short story.  Short is a misnomer in this case as it turned out 10k words.  It will probably be 15 or 20k when it comes out indie, too, as I cut corners to fit it in 10k words.  It’s one of a series of sf mysteries, but will probably come out as the sixth seventh, or if I get extra productive 9th.  Shortish … heck I don’t what to call them, in the 15k to 30k range.

If I can get semi-caught up, they’ll be my “weekend fun writing” at least for a day a week. Mostly because they’re pushing really hard and 30k is eminently doable in two days, so maybe a couple of weekends, a day each.

I’m now late on two novels according to my plans, but this thing really whomped me more flat than anything in a long time.  I feel like I slept a whole month.  Unfortunately I didn’t.  It was the FIRST time I got a prescription (discharge orders) for “sleep as much as possible’ so likely I should have, but I was trying to finish stuff.

It would probably have been easier if during this time Dan hadn’t been running benchmarks on my render computer, trying to figure out eventual upgrade/replacement.  This meant when I fought free of the haze enough, I’d go look at what I’d left rendering and it was taking six hours. Or was something completely different.  And then I’d give up and go sleep because braining was so hard.

Anyway, feeling way better, if not 100%. Yesterday I cleaned house and finished short story, and I’m still upright and conscious today — yay — so I’m going to at least catch up on some writing.

The flooring of the dining room (a fine movie to watch from a distance, not so much to act in) might have to wait till tomorrow.

If you pinged me/contacted me/told me something in the last three weeks, be aware that even if I answered you, I likely have NOT THE FAINTEST memory of it.

And now I go. There’s work to do.

Bite

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And so at last we must speak of the wealthiest nation in the world having people proposing infanticide “for the health of the mother.”  Including mental health of course, and the fact that she wants to avenge herself on the father, or something.

I have more to say about that, and will in a PJM column.  Some of it has been said before, some has not. Possibly the crucial part has not.

But that’s not the point here.

Infanticide has been performed throughout history. Usually by mothers who couldn’t afford to support the baby. Sometimes by mothers who wanted to hide that the baby looked uncommonly like a slave or servant. (That mental health thing.)  Sometimes at the mandate of the state. Sometimes at the mandate of the father who wanted a baby of a different sex. In a memoir I read from the Chinese Cultural revolution, she related, in rural districts, where people were starving anyway, seeing girl babies drowned in the slops bucket or fed boiling chicken soup to kill them.  In Africa, it’s not unusual to kill one of each pair of twins.

Note I’m not saying this makes infanticide all right. I’m saying it happens.  I’m not one the moral imbeciles who says that because a great number of pregnancies self-aborts abortion should be all right.  That’s like saying because a large number of people over 70 die naturally, it should be open season on them.

Infanticide is an horrendous act, one from which every adult human being should recoil.  The societies that performed it en masse — say Phoenicians or Aztecs — have been justly reviled and viewed with horror by civilized humanity.

And yet, in the most prosperous nation in the world, a nation with such an infertility problem that we scour the other nations of the world for children to adopt, a man with medical training can sit calmly before cameras and talk about how the mother and the doctor can take a little time and discuss infanticide.

It seems like a curious kind of madness, and it is.

But you don’t get to this kind of madness all of a sudden.

You don’t get all at once to the insanity that children pre-puberty, children whom we’d not allow to choose, say, whom to marry or to sell their property or even what medicine they should take, are in some areas allowed (and the parents forced to accept it) to take puberty-delaying drugs or to choose to self-mutilate because they say they are the other sex, really.

You don’t get all at once to the crazy epistemological confusion of “anything we do as a society” with “socialism” either.  Because societies have been doing good and bad things for a long time before anyone got the idea that economies should be planned and that everything we do should be controlled by a powerful central government.  (Which had been tried, before, with absolute monarchies, and caused mass revolts against despots.  Ah, but this time it would be the right people.  Educated people. Stop me when it sounds familiar.)

You can say all this has its origins in Rosseau’s d*mned noble savage and Marx’s economic “but I should be given more stuff!” theories. And you wouldn’t precisely be wrong.

But those have their origin in turn in what we’ll call “a defect in human make up” or if you prefer “the fact we’re still mostly apes.”

Apes need — crave — hierarchy.  Throw an ape in a zoo with a bunch of strange apes and they immediately establish where they belong in the hierarchy.  All studies done of apes in the wild show hierarchy and a climb in the hierarchy.

Humans are apes. We want to know where we stand. And mostly we want to stand on top.

We crave “titles of nobility” so we can peacock it over our equals.  We crave showing ourselves superior to others.

In a way the modern era, with its fluid hierarchies, its loose bonds, drives people insane.  They need to know they’re on top, special, better.  Physical aggression being frowned upon and these days what used to work like it for women — vamping it up — being looked at as unenlightened, all that remains is to show your intellectual superiority and your moral superiority over others.

The problem is that most humans are not intellectually superior or morally superior to others.  Most humans are — sing it with me — average. That’s why we call it average.

And when your social signaling must be done by displaying “intelligence” how can an average person display their special gifts of thought?

Most of us realize when we find smarter people that they often have ideas that seem weird to the rest of the world.  This is enshrined in history — of sciences, of art — with the idea of the lone genius who comes along and sees that this despised thing is NOW the real best thing in the world, and thus makes a new order.

Keep in mind, having known a lot of very smart people, I know that a lot of their ideas amount to “and the bridge will be completely carved out of soap.”  But few people have had much exposure to true bonafide geniuses.

So how do the average or slightly above average signal they’re “so smart.”

If you say that people should save a bit of their money against hard times, you’re not showing you’re smart. You’re just saying what everyone knows. If you say an adult human being should control him or herself so that they don’t go around being controlled by their emotions and whims and so they can attain long time goals.  Again, you’re just saying what everyone knows.  You risk being thought… average.

So to counter that, average people say the counter intuitive, the shocking.  Quite literally they live their lives Pour Epater Les Bourgeois.

The person who doesn’t save is right,and is living life to the fullest and the state should provide for them. Human beings should live for the now, because that’s the unsullied life of the noble savage.  And on and on.

It’s all around. It’s in every story, every news report, every art form.

“I will show I’m brilliant by taking something everyone knows is bad, and proving it’s actually wonderful.”

This led to nostalgie the la boue which was responsible for some really bad books well before the middle of the twentieth century.  But then the middle of the twentieth century was “blessed” with mass communication, which is to say mass-means of transmitting story.

Unfortunately by then “shocking” had become confused with “good.” So with the idea of the people they were shocking frozen circa 1950 — which is to say a good 30 years earlier, when the creators of the 1950s were forming THEIR ideas of the world — the new mass communicators set about showing how smart they were.

As a result, we’ve gotten countless stories with bad businessmen (they used to once be considered models to look up to, particularly since some sects of protestantism viewed wealth as a sign of being blessed.) Virtuous communists/anarchists/rebels. Virtuous homeless people.  Children who know more than their parents. Women who are stronger than men. People who totally deserve to be supported by the government and not have to work for a living because they’re geniuses.  Artists whose art makes no sense to anyone, and who are therefore geniuses.

And each of those is a bite into the fabric of what creates civilization.  They’re “countercultural” in the basest sense.  Believing in this destroys the culture. Any culture that exposes itself to them.

Believing that you signal you’re superior to the people around you by destroying the foundations of what leads to a good and prosperous life leads to generations growing up thinking this is the way to attain status.  And to their struggle for status destroying more of the culture that created the prosperity that allows them to be countercultural.

Bite.

As a child growing up in the mid sixties, I think I was six before I came across the story of the virtuous and brilliant hippie-philosopher who died because he couldn’t make money lecturing people about random stuff, and how this was an injustice.

Fortunately in the mid sixties there were still grandparents around that said things we thought were cringingly embarrassing and low class.  You know, the basic things: clean your room, study hard, work towards what you want.  The fact that Peterson saying this now is a daring revolt tells you how much it’s been lost.

All human beings are born with the need to signal status. We’ve learned that just telling everyone they’re special and “gifted” doesn’t help anything. It actually hurts.

What we need to do is change the signaling from things that destroy society to things that build society.

Look, as Peterson has shown, we’re now at that point where saying the common sense things our great grandparents knew is countercultural. Daring.

We face a media and artistic establishment indoctrinated into the idea that the rest of the world still lives by 1920s morals.

They’re getting a little desperate.  When knitting with yarn you keep in your vagina or rolling yourself in feces only give you limited internet notoriety, you must do something more.

The same with the left. Having come out in favor of socialism, having recruited people who think “you must belong to something so why not the state.” What do they do for an encore?  Having established a mother’s right to have an abortion for no reason at all at any time in many places till the third trimester (check) with partial birth abortions disguising the obvious killing of a viable infant, what do you do for an encore? How do you shock the squares?

Infanticide. It’s the next logical step. And it must be good, because look how it shocks the common people.

If we allow this to continue, their attempts to shock us are going to get really creative.

How creative? What comes after infanticide? Do you really want to know?  Perhaps we’ll be building pyramids to the sun and sacrificing hundreds of thousands of people in a day? Perhaps the right to cannibalism.  The one thing we know is that this “movement” taking bites out of culture doesn’t like humans much.  Perhaps because liking your own species is so much of a given, so mundane, so bourgeois.

And then there’s the counter push.  If there weren’t, Peterson would have no purchase.  And he does.

But the opposition is entrenched and has billions of dollars on its side.

The cart stands poised.  If we allow them do continue pushing, we’re going to go off the cliff.  At the bottom there’s mass dying and lives that are worse than dying.

Or we can push the other way, push that which builds society.

The tide is turning. Time is on our side. But nothing is free. A civilization if you can keep it.

Put your shoulder to the wheel in whatever way you can — blogs, comments, stories, art, teaching — and push.  Push with all your might.

The future of humanity depends on it.

 

The True Nature of That Gorilla by Rhiain

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The True Nature of That Gorilla by Rhiain

No, this post isn’t about Harambe. Let’s talk about the real gorilla in the room: tokenism.

A friend of mine lamented about his status as a “Special Token Minority” guest at a con earlier this week. My advice to him was cavalier yet, shall we say, deadly accurate. I’ll confess, dear readers, that I was getting more pissed with every acerbic comment I added to the thread in our discussion about this con. My friend was decidedly unhappy because he’d apparently been promoted by the ConCom to “Special Guest” status due to being non-white.

My advice to him follows, paraphrased (and edited for clean copy – because I needed to emphasize my point without, ya know, all the more colorful language):

What I almost started doing a couple years ago was respond to people like K. Tempest Bradford with my ethnicity, before I realized how much of a trap that was. I wasn’t going to be one of those non-white people who proved herself by validating my opinions with “I’m not white, therefore what I’m about to say has more value than, say, Brad Torgersen, because he’s of paler complexion.”

I caught myself doing it when responding to some SJW last year during the ConCarolinas controversy on John Ringo’s Facebook wall, and that’s when I told myself that I’m not going there. Ever. Again.

But if some idiot at the con wants to make a big deal about you being brown, then I say let them.

And then completely destroy their assumptions so that they never make that mistake again.
At least about you.

Tokenism has existed for at least as long as white privilege, if the zealots are to be believed. It’s so pervasive that non-white content creators, or even those “who pass as white,” are uncomfortable when they’re put on the spot for whatever the outrage du jour is. It’s especially disconcerting when the token minority’s remarks are elevated above anyone else’s views in the room, and anyone else in the room is as white as the good, non-Native senator from Massachusetts, and that token has no experience or expertise regarding the issue at hand.

I do have to wonder if the zealots are really that oblivious to the irony of their own conceits. “Diversity!” they cry. “We must have more of it! Not just in this specific field, no, we must have it in everything!”

The other size of that coin, ya dolts, is tokenism. Head, diversity. Tail, token.

When the means to an end isn’t coming to pass fast enough for them, anybody who passably fits the profile of the “means” will do to achieve that end.
And yet the goalposts change regularly in their hierarchy, contingent on their need for even more Diversity and Inclusion. My non-white friend will no longer be as Diverse as they would like in two months, because he’s “Asian” and therefore too successful and…wait, he’s not Asian. No, he’s actually white. (That would be a surprise to him and me, but humor me here.) The circular justifications continue as they argue about who actually qualifies as a “minority” while dying for a touch of that distant mirage, “Diversity.”

And if you’re one of those people who happens to look non-Caucasian, like me, or like my friend, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever become the Token at your job, or in your circle of friends, or, hell, even in your family, I’ll offer this one little spark of hope:

It doesn’t have to be like this.

Almost nine years ago I was hired by a small(ish) business of about 250 people. To this day I’m one of two people in the main office who isn’t white.

Last summer I attended a con banquet, looked around, and realized I was the only guest seated who wasn’t white.

And I get pissed when I notice details like this, because about four years ago it wasn’t a telltale sign of anything of note. It’s so recent a development to me that it shouldn’t signify anything. It still doesn’t.

Because I refuse to let myself turn into that person.

Understand that tokenism is so widespread that there are certain non-whites who have decided to identify as nothing else, which means others around them walk on eggshells because the signal’s so loud that ignoring it is not an option. I’ve taken note of my skin color in the above situations, and irritably realize that I’ve noticed it, and then moved on because I refused to let it bother me. In heavily blue areas, this unfortunate signal cannot be turned off because you’re not the only one aware of it and then the gorilla manifests itself semi-permanently. I say semi-permanently because it’s such a recent signal that I haven’t given up hope it can go away again. And I should note, too, that refusing to become that Token Minority person irritates the zealots because it trips up their narrative.

This doesn’t make me “race-blind,” like the idiot zealots claim. What does that even mean, anyway? If I’m “race-blind,” does this mean I’ve violated some social norm where I’m supposed to take note of every person’s skin color and/or race during an interaction with that person? Since when did that become a social norm?

I don’t know about you, dear readers, but that’s not a feature that I want normalized in our culture. It’s a bug that needs to be stamped out as quickly as possible, before my children are ingrained with this idea that one of them has more value than the other since she’s not as pale as her sibling.

If we ever reach that point, my friend, the zealots will have much to answer for.

Getting Back On the Horse

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I’ll start by saying I have no experience of horseback riding.  In fact I touched a horse for the first time a few months ago.

But I grew up understanding that if you ride a horse, it’s not “if you fall off” but “when you fall off.”  And particularly if you fall off and are seriously hurt, you need to get back on as soon as you can. Otherwise the fear of it will grow in your mind, and make it impossible to get back on.

The problem, which is similar to my problem with driving, as my vision went wonky slowly over a long time and brain internalized “driving is panic-inducing because we’re not sure where side streets are” before I realized I wasn’t seeing properly, is when you slowly “fall of the horse.”

Because then your fear of getting back on isn’t quite fear, but a bolus of “I forgot how to; I got out of the habit; and of course the back of the head “but this failed last time.”

In my case, getting back on the writing horse is being complicated by the cold that descended end second week of January, and has been around since, with occasional moments of peeking above and being almost normal. Given that we have a ton of stuff to do for house/wedding/writing and that I get maybe two good hours work in, before I just want to sleep.  Then another two hours…

The house is a pigsty, novel is almost two weeks late, I’m finishing seriously overdue short story, and I just want to sleep.

I’m also likely to be cranky as I force myself to work. Because don’t wanna, that’s why.

BUT that’s a passing complication (hopefully.  Infections can wind up my auto-immune and then we’re in the bucket.)  I got worried at how it dragged and went to doctor, and he said nah, that’s the pattern this year, and no, it’s not flu, for which I was vaccinated, but either a singularly resistant bacteria or a string of bacteria one after the other, which is not unusual.  Bacteria, I say, not virus, because the antibiotic IS working.  I know because as time approaches for it, I start feeling worse.  Anyway… that’s the current battle and why I feel more cranky than usual.

The other part of the battle is more long term.

Since it’s not the first time this has happened, I’ve found there are steps to climbing back on that horse:

first, I have to establish the habit.  This is proving difficult mostly because of interruptions to discuss wedding details, or what we’re doing about x in the house (which looks like a construction zone, as we’re incrementally replacing the flooring.)

Second, I have to get back in practice.  This matters because the book currently under construction, I keep tripping on newby mistakes that I haven’t made in years.  However, as I was telling husband who is — thank heavens — also writing again (having stopped at being discouraged by watching my career. Euclid was written in 2001. And not having managed to get himself back on the horse, even with indie, till now.) when you come back after severe illness, as both of us are (mine more severe than his, and his stopping really was discouragement at my career more than the illness. Because he thinks I walk on water.  So if I was getting slapped down every turn, what chance did HE have.  Yeah.) you have to re-learn. It’s just that you learn way faster.

So I’ve been doing that. If I could stop being annoyed when I stumble it might help.

Third, the fear of failure.  Yeah.  Well, the sale over Christmas (the ebook sale, not the physical book.  Yes, I’ll mail books this week. Sorry. I’ve been so fricking sick, I keep forgetting everything and am afraid to package things to mail. One of you will end up with a carefully wrapped cat or something.) made around 2500 and that helped me get over the fear nothing will sell.  Of course, that was a really, really, really low price sale.  So… we’ll see.  But I have to write before I see.

The point of all this, other than talking about my difficulties like an old lady, or a not so old tries-to-be lady who is feeling seriously run down: you have to get back on the horse.

Someone recently here said that the best predictor of success was  a previous string of failures at the same endeavor or a similar one.

They’re not wrong.

Now there’s things you do in life, that you were never that invested in.  For instance, I bought a bunch of goose eggs to attempt carving (yes, in my copious spare time. Also shut up) and so far my attempts have been startlingly unsuccessful.  I might continue trying. Or not.  It’s not something I’m invested in heart and soul, or something I want to make money out of.  It’s more “it’s interesting.”

Then there’s intermediate.  I’ve always had an hankering to do art, but I gave it up at 14, partly because the materials were too expensive and writing was cheaper.  It came back with a vengeance after concussion when I was 40. I still enjoy doing old fashioned art, with paper and charcoal, and have this dream, one day, when I have more time and money (AKA when the boys are fully off the paycheck. G-d willing in a year and four months, but who is counting) to go out to the Natural History Museum once a week (Uber, hence the money.  Driving IN Denver is insane and anyway in winter I can’t, not and stay at the museum for appreciable time, because I’m night blind.) with my pad and charcoal and draw dinosaur skeletons and dinosaurs.
BUT DAZ 3-d produces acceptable covers (particularly when combined with Filter Forge) and it allows me to scratch that itch without spending time on it as a hobby.  It also helps get oh, yeah, covers, without taking a few more years of classes. Which, frankly, is very handy.
Anyway, that horse threw me down a bunch of times, including my spending a couple of months rendering naked people with no hair.  Oh, and the month of weird contortions.
It’s better now, and improving, but again, since I can make covers out of it, it’s totally worth the time I spent. (And money we’re about to spend for a better rendering computer. OUCH.)

Writing OTOH is non-negotiable, because I always wanted to be a writer. And giving up would be like dying a little.  It’s part of me, part of what makes me me.  Giving up is dying a little.

And it’s thrown me a bunch of times, but I have to keep getting back on. Because accepting defeat is accepting dying a little.

If you have something similar, something you always wanted — no, needed — to do, something that forms an integral part of your personality, if that thing is neither immoral nor illegal, and if you’ve failed at it before, it’s time to get back on the horse.

Yes, I know, things hurt, and you flinch from the pain and you’re tired and old and–

But it’s time to get back on the horse. Because you don’t have any other choice.  Because this thing is who you are.  And the best predictor of success is multiple previous failures.

So, there’s that.

Now, up on the saddle.

 

I’m Down with Something

 

dreams-2904682_1280I’m down with something possibly auto immune.

I HAVE to finish a short story due today.  And it’s going to take a lot of naps.

So I’ll leave you guys a weird picture to have fun with.

“The Truths We Hold” and more delusions of grandeur – Amanda Green

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“The Truths We Hold” and more delusions of grandeur-  Amanda Green

I know, I know. I was supposed to continue my review/commentary on Kamala Harris’ so-called memoir, The Truths We Hold. I still plan to but, having come to the end of the free sample, I simply couldn’t bring myself to buy the book. Not only is it drastically over-priced for an e-book, but I don’t want to give a single penny to the woman. I especially don’t want to do it for a book that is nothing more than a thinly veiled campaign speech.

So, as I sat here this morning trying to figure out what to write about, I let my fingers do the walking through the internet. There were the expected stories about Cory “I am Spartacus” Booker declaring he’s going to run for president. How many memes will that generate? Then there was the story about Elizabeth “Fauxcahauntus” Warren apologizing to the Cherokee Nation for claiming to be Native American (about time, says this descendant of someone born on the Trail of Tears). There are so many Democrats already lining up for their chance to unseat Trump that you already need a scorecard.

Hell, you know it’s going to be bad when Rolling Stone lists 15—FIFTEEN—campaign books “you need to know” for the upcoming election.

And no, I am not going to read all 15. I value my life and my sanity too much to do that. Still, curiosity had me looking to see what Rolling Stone had to say.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised that they started out with Harris’ book. Right now, she is the darling of the Left, right down to all the comparisons she’s been getting to Obama. Rolling Stone says the books walks us through her “really impressive resumé” while clearly contrasting herself with Trump. Duh. Of interest is the little hint of displeasure when Rolling Stone notes that the book might leave you wanting because, while more personal that her previous book, it is still a “hyper-polished” look at her life and career. In other words, it is a campaign speech and not a real insight into who she is and what she holds important on a personal level.

Rolling Stone isn’t the only publication to come to that conclusion. Time has a rather lengthy discussion of the book online. Early on, it echoes my own sentiments, not only about this particular book but all books by politicians coming out at the beginning of a presidential election cycle:

“These books are never great literature. Harris moves through the steps of her own life at a dizzying pace, like a harried screenwriter trying to cram a 1,000-page novel into an hour and a half movie. But if books like this aren’t great for readers, they are helpful for voters, who can gain some insight through seeing which issues and personal stories their authors deems important enough to highlight. (One helpful point in Harris’ case: her name is pronounced comma-la.)”

That one paragraph sums up what I’ve seen of the book. This is a book of political talking points interspersed with personal stories, “highly polished” personal stories meant to influence voters. My suggestion? Remember that and consider her relationship with Willie Brown and his admission recently that not only did they sleep together but that he might have helped further her career.

I will return to the book when it is available for download from the library. I’m currently #3 on the waiting list, so probably in the next week or so.

But what else does Rolling Stone, in its infinite liberal mindset, say we should read before the next election?

Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose by Joe Biden. Unlike Harris’ book, this one isn’t new. It is also a book that can be seen as humanizing Biden by recounting his relationship with his late son. It is, in short, a very different side of Biden than that of the vice-president who couldn’t seem to keep his hands to himself that we came to know during the Obama administration.

Next up from Rolling Stone is Elizabeth Warren’s This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class. Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. Like Biden’s book, it came out in 2017. Unlike “Promise Me, Dad”, it is not a personal memoir but a purely political one. It is also obvious, reading the blurb for the book, that she was gearing up for 2020. Get a load of this from the Amazon product page:

Warren grew up in Oklahoma, and she’s never forgotten how difficult it was for her mother and father to hold on at the ragged edge of the middle class. An educational system that offered opportunities for all made it possible for her to achieve her dream of going to college, becoming a teacher, and, later, attending law school. But now, for many, these kinds of opportunities are gone, and a government that once looked out for working families is instead captive to the rich and powerful. Seventy-five years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal ushered in an age of widespread prosperity; in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan reversed course and sold the country on the disastrous fiction called trickle-down economics. Now, with the election of Donald Trump—a con artist who promised to drain the swamp of special interests and then surrounded himself with billionaires and lobbyists—the middle class is being pushed ever closer to collapse.

Saint Franklin and his New Deal. Evil Ronnie Reagan. Con artist Trump. No, she didn’t have a single agenda when writing the book. If you believe that, I have this piece of land in Florida to sell you. At least there’s no mention of her Native American ancestry. I wonder if there was originally and it has now been excised out.

And Rolling Stones’ list just keeps getting better—or worse, depending on your point of view. There are books by Julian Castro and Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker. Among some of the others listed are John Hickenlooper, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bloomberg and Starbucks’ own Howard Schultz. There’s even a mention of South Bend mayor Peter Buttigieg’s upcoming book. Now, raise your hands, until some of these folks tossed their hats in the ring, how many of you had heard of them? And how many are going to sit down and read what they (or, more likely, their ghostwriters) have to say about how evil our country is and what they can do to “fix” it?

Two books did catch my eye—but not in the way that I’m going to rush out to read them. The first is John “Lurch” Kerry’s Every Day is Extra. This is another of those horribly over-priced e-books publishers hope will help drive e-book sales through the floor and reinvigorate print sales. Priced at basically $17, this is Kerry’s story of his “remarkable life.” Gag me. The only thing tempting me to read this is to find out what he has to say about Hillary since she is glaringly left out of the list of folks he remembers fondly or with humor in the book description.

The second book to catch my eye was Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico. This book, published in 2011, by Beto O’Rourke and fellow (sister?) city council member Susie Byrd. The topic shouldn’t be any surprise to those who have followed the skateboarding wunderkind’s run for Senate. The war on drugs doesn’t work. Just look at Cuidad Juarez. (Mind you, I agree in a lot of ways that the war on drugs has been far from successful.) My questions about this book come down to how much of it did Beto Baby really write and does he ever come out with a solid stance on anything? Or is this more of the same sidestep shuffle we saw during the campaign?

Why, you might ask, did Rolling Stone include this aged book, relatively speaking, with all the others? Because they are sure he will be running, or at least be someone’s running mate, and he hasn’t yet released his “get-t0-know-me” book. Really, Rolling Stone is showing its age. Doesn’t it realize all those livestream videos on Facebook Beto posted were his version of that? VBEG

I guess this has all been a pre-coffee way of saying I just wasn’t up to more Kamala Harris this morning. But, now that I’ve seen what the other side has out there in the way of other books to read, I am truly worried for the state of my sanity and my liver. I’ll finish the Harris book. Then I’ll start something else. But what? Which of the books from the Rolling Stone article would you like me to take on?

Or how about his? Why don’t we start pulling together our own list of books by conservative or libertarian candidates that we think voters should read before the 2020 primaries? Leave your comments below and we’ll see just how far my sanity and liver can go before I throw in the towel and declare defeat.

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

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Sunday Book Promo

FROM BLAKE SMITHThe Hartington Inheritance (The Hartington Series Book 1)

(It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you associate with me you start getting a little strange.  This is the only thing that explains why Blake who is sane as a brick decided to write regency in space, as though Witchfinder weren’t weird enough.  At any rate, it’s good, get and read.)

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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.

ALMA BOYKIN RELEASES ANOTHER ONEWoman’s Work: Shikari Book Four.

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Ah, the perils of married life. Stubborn wombows, holy-terror birds, the Officers’ Wives Club…

Auriga “Rigi” Bernardi-Prananda eagerly awaits her husband’s return from advanced scout training. A predator returns in his place, and Rigi must learn to adapt to his new role in the military, and to navigate the perils of Army society. Especially when Tomás insists on her presence as he helps establish a new human and Staré settlement on Verdina, Shikhari’s northern continent. He and the Staré need Rigi’s skills as healer and Wise Eye, one who sees through concealment to find the truth.

Once in the north, Rigi discovers that the wildlife outside the camp poses only a minor hazard. Those predators merely want to eat her. A predator inside the camp threatens her husband’s career, and her and Tomás’ honor. Rigi must call on all her training, as well as her Staré allies and Martinus the M-dog, if she is to accomplish her mission with dignity, honor, and marriage intact. And without spilling anything on herself at a tea or ladies’ theatrical evening.

Woman’s work is never done. Nor is it ever dull.

FROM CHRISTOPHER NUTTALL:  Heinlein in Reflection: Robert A. Heinlein in the 21st Century.

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Robert Anson Heinlein was the Grandmaster of Science-Fiction, originator or populariser of many of the science-fiction tropes we take for granted today. Heinlein laid the groundwork for countless authors to follow, combining his engineering knowledge and experience with a knowledge of humanity to open vast vistas for his readers. His popularity remains undiminished, even three decades after his death. Heinlein remains one of the greatest science-fiction writers in history.

But is Heinlein still relevant today?

He could be – and still is, even by the standards of our time – very controversial. In his later years, he pushed the limits as far as he could. His characters were freethinkers to a degree even we find alarming, discarding the chains of their societies in a manner that could be both heroic and dangerously unwise. His books – and Heinlein himself – have been accused of being fascist, or sexist, or racist, or thoroughly immoral. Is Heinlein still a great mind? Or should he be forgotten like so many other writers of his time?

In this collection of essays, science-fiction writer Christopher G. Nuttall takes a fresh look at Heinlein’s books, assesses the accusations made against Heinlein’s work and concludes that yes, Heinlein is still relevant today …

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: lush