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Friday Link Salad

Like the label says, links!

A) The Advantage of Being a Little Underemployed. From the link: Before 1900 the average American worker worked more than 60 hours a week. A standard schedule was ten-hour days, six days a week. The only structural limits to working were lighting and religion. You stopped working when it was too dark to see or to go to church. Or shorter, you worked from "can" to "can't."

B) A bit late, but still good - the story of D-Day on Omaha Beach.

C) Wonder Woman: How real-life athletes united to populate the film's badass Amazon nation.

D) A more humorous take on Wonder Woman - Alamo Drafthouse Apologizes for Starting Manpocalypse With Women-Only Screening.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/675172.html. Please comment there using OpenID.
I haven't said much on President Trump of late, but today brings two whoppers which I feel the need to address.

Whopper #1 - On the recent trip to Saudi Arabia, Trump announced a $110 billion arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Well, nope. Basically, he and/or his staff took (from the article) "a wishlist: an itemized list of things the Saudis might be interested in if the price of oil ever recovers, if they start more wars and things the US would like to sell the Saudis."

Whopper #2 - On the Sunday talk shows, Trump's administration was touting "we added 50,000 jobs in the coal sector." Well, nope. Again from the article: "there were only 51,000 coal-mining jobs in the entire U.S. in May. Last month, 400 coal jobs were added—not 7,000. It was the overall mining sector, which includes oil, gas, and metals mining in addition to coal, that added 7,000 jobs in the month and 50,000 since last 2016."

These are both bald-faced lies, delivered unto the US with a straight face.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/674831.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Woman of Wonder and other updates

Saturday was a quiet day at Casa Gerrib Norte. The excitement of the day was my attendance at an early-evening screening of Wonder Woman. It was a very enjoyable movie, although the last few minutes of the epic battle between the Big Bad and Our Heroine was a bit tedious. Overall, I highly recommend seeing it.

Sunday was for me also quiet, although one of my downstate relatives had a (very minor) heart attack, so I was getting several updates during the day. In part due to the miracle of modern medicine and the nature of the attack, said relative was sent home after less than 24 hours of hospitalization. Go modern medicine!

Now, if I could just find some time and energy to write, all would be well in the world.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/674580.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

NASFIC Programming Schedule

Herewith is my subject-to-change programming schedule for NorthAmeriCon '17 to be held in (hopefully) sunny San Juan Puerto Rico.

TH 18:00 - San Cristobal Military realities and Science Fiction


What series in the Spec Fic portray military life and decision making with the most accuracy.

Kevin McLaughlin, Jonathan Brazee (m), Chris Gerrib


TH 19:00 - San Cristobal Off-world Vacation Hot Spots


You're the travel agent - sell us your best vacation package to the stars

Chris Gerrib, Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ, Tyrell Gephardt, Jan S. Gephardt, W. A. (Bill) Thomasson (m)


FR 12:00 - San Geronimo How Fandoms Evolve (or Don't)

How do they grow? How do they die?

Chris Gerrib, Paula Smith, Isabel Schechter, Diana Pho (m), Tyrell Gephardt


FR 14:00 - San Cristobal The Future of Local/National/Planetary Government in the Information Age

Our current government structures arose in the age of face-to-fact communication. With individuals able to "talk" instantly to people anywhere on the globe and governments able to share information effortlessly, does either representative to geographically defined government fit the emerging paradigm. How long before things change. Or will they?

Chris Gerrib, W. A. (Bill) Thomasson, David Manfre (m), Tanya Washburn, Pablo Vazquez


FR 15:30 - Bahia Reading - Chris Gerrib

Mars, Pirates, Cookies.  One of these is not like the other.  Come hear Chris Gerrib read from his novel The Night Watch and snag a cookie!


SU 10:00 - San Cristobal Forgotten Books

Panelists (and audience members) discuss the books they've loved that have gone out of circulation, and thus the merits of used bookstores.

Evelyn Chimelis Leeper, Chris Gerrib (m), Lee Billings, Daína Chaviano This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/674474.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Ah!

For budgetary reasons, I did not go to ConQuest in Kansas City this year. (NASFIC will cost twice as much as ConQuest.) Thus, I went downstate for my Memorial Day weekend and visited the parents. It proved a very relaxing weekend, and I'm glad I did.

Last night, I read the Hugo short story nominations for this year. Yea gods and little fishes was the John C. Wright offering bad! As per Sad Puppies Central Command best practices, Wright took a collection of right-wing strawmen, dialed them up to 15, and used them to beat the reader vigorously about the head and shoulders. I'm sure he thought he was clever in casting himself as the boogeyman and a nubile naked "girl" as the heroine, but I found that in particular and the story in general as the failure mode of clever.

I found the Jemisin story a bit too opaque, and have no strong opinions either way on the Wong. The other three I felt were pretty strong contenders. In the novel category, I haven't read three of the six (Jemisin, Anders and Chambers) and bounced hard off of the Palmer. It looks like I've got my work cut out for me.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/674255.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

The Ex-Smoker Problem.

Ben Carson, current HUD Secretary, opened his mouth recently and said that poverty is a "state of mind." To be fair to Carson, he was born poor and got himself out of poverty. John Scalzi, another guy born poor who's no longer financially challenged, had thoughts on Carson's comments.

John rather correctly noted that being poor means not having money, which results in a lack of margin of error. To shorter his post, poor people drive old beater cars which, when they break down, they may not have money to get fixed. All the positive mental vibes in the world won't replace a busted timer belt.

I would like to focus on why Carson said what he did. It is a truism that you will find no one more demonstratively against smoking as somebody who quit smoking after developing the habit. I would submit that the act of successfully quitting smoking requires a certain mental attitude.

The same can be said for getting out of poverty, especially in one generation. It's hard work, and requires a certain mental attitude. Unlike quitting smoking, getting out of poverty also requires luck. Good luck in terms of getting opportunities and in avoiding pitfalls.

Unfortunately, recognizing that "there but for the grace of God go I" requires self-reflection and humility. Ben Carson is not noted for possessing either of these traits. It's the very lack of those traits that led him to his current position.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/673821.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Productive Weekend

Over the weekend, I reviewed my European travel plans. After checking with the travel people that any flight out of Hamburg after 2 PM on the day the cruise ship arrives should be safe, I found a 5 PM Lufthansa flight to Lithuania. I still don't get to Lithuania until nearly midnight, but that's better than my previous arrival time of 4:30 Sunday afternoon. Since I have to fly into Kaunas, as Vilnius airport will be closed, I went ahead and booked myself for 2 nights in Kaunas. That gives me 2 days to do other explorations.

My next stop is the Balzekas Museum of Lithuanian Culture for some research. Hopefully I can get some clue as to where the old Gerrib stomping grounds are. Right now I'm flying to Finland on Wednesday, although if I get some useful information I may make that Thursday instead. The preliminary business meeting at Worldcon will have to do without me. Frankly, other than being a minor member of the Best Series committee, I really don't have any business for the Business Meeting.

Also over the weekend, on Sunday my Rotary club volunteered for the Darien Dash, our annual 5K and 10K run. The weather forecast said mostly cloudy, so I left my hat in the car, then the skies turned blue for a good two hours, so I'm red-faced today. Oh well.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/673557.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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From Russia With Love

Various Southern cities are taking down statues commemorating Confederate war heroes. These statues were largely erected by white Southerners from 1890 to 1920, and were explicitly intended to send a signal to the local black population that Whites Were In Charge. They were also intended to hide the fact that the Civil War was fought by the South to protect slavery.

In any event, the statues are finally coming down. Various groups of whites are protesting the removal, and some of them have been heard chanting "Russia is our friend" at these protests. One sees this "Russia is our friend" concept a lot among the Alt-Right and Trump supporters (for whatever difference there is between the two groups). The question is why? Why did we go from a Cold War fear of the Ruskies to "Russia is our friend?"

There are a variety of reasons for this. The simplest is that Russia is ethnically mostly white - even most of the non-Russian peoples in the country are "white" by American standards. The Russian government has obviously done a lot with Twitter-bots and other social media creations to pump themselves up. But I think the biggest reason is Putin.

The American right, and right-wings in general, have always been fond of authoritarians. After all, the original "right wing" were the (absolute monarch) King's supporters in the French Estates General. Charles Lindbergh and Henry Ford were both quite okay with Nazi Germany, not changing their minds until very late in the game. As I noted elsewhere, The antebellum South was organized, directed and structured to the benefit of white men, preferably those of property.

This is why the Alt-Right and Trump supporters not only aren't upset with Trump's collusion with Russia, but confused as to why anybody else is upset. We should be working with Russia. (Actually, if and when Russia extracts their collective heads from their asses, they should be natural allies with the US.)

The problem with authoritarians is this - it really matters who's the kicker and who's the kick-ee. By their very nature, authoritarian regimes end up with everybody, even members of the secret police (and there's always a secret police) being scared of their shadows. Anybody can be turned in by anybody for anything, true or not. Authoritarian regimes end up collapsing, because loyalty trumps (pun intended) competency, and the collapse is messy and bloody.

But for a while, while your side is the kicker, authoritarianism feels good. Unfortunately, the good feelings never last.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/673351.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

I'm Writing

For the first time since March 29th, I've written fiction! On Tuesday, I attended a writing jam with my writer's group and actually put words on computer!

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/673078.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Three Short Thoughts, Car Talk Edition

Thought #1 - my car's GPS

When I bought my car, it came with a GPS system via the XM Radio. I really don't want to become one of those people who can't get to the grocery store without using the GPS, so I resisted using it. I have slowly started to warm to the system, largely because I found a display mode that shows me not just the next turn but the next three turns.

Thought #2 - car sunroof

Also when I bought my car, it came with a sunroof. I didn't look for that feature, it just happened to be on the vehicle that otherwise had the features I wanted. I have also found this useful, in that on a warm day one can pop the roof and get a breeze in the vehicle.

Thought #3 - other drivers

I've noticed a lot more rude drivers the past few days. For example, the "older" (my age) guy driving a Corvette who stood on his horn the instant the light turned green. Or the two (2) (!!) drivers who cut me off this AM. I blame it on Trump.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/672894.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Alternate Realities, Take Whatever

Here we go, blogging for the third day in a row. Alas, I'm talking about alternate realities, and not in a good way.

In most realities, the lead news story is that President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because 1) Comey did not show sufficient loyalty to Trump and/or 2) Trump wants to ice the Russia investigation. In the Faux News / alt-right "reality," the lead story is an allegation that Hilary Clinton asked a government to help one of the donors of the Clinton Foundation.

Now, mind you, the help requested was for a man running a microloan bank and his donations were to a not-for-profit foundation, not the Clintons personally. Despite this, Faux News was arguing that this is a "clear criminal violation." Sorry, Charlie, not so.

For the record - it is perfectly consistent to want Comey to be fired for interfering in an election and not want him to be fired to stop an investigation.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/672756.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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On Lucid Dreaming

Somehow, in the process of writing, I became a lucid dreamer. I recognize that I'm dreaming, and edit my dreams on the fly to make more sense. I should say "sense" because I'm still asleep, and so my logic can be a bit wonky.

For example: Last night I was dreaming that I was riding a horse shirtless on a tropical beach. You know, like they do in all those Sandals commercials. My conscious mind jumped in with "if you do that, you'll get redder than a ripe tomato in an hour." That was lucid point #1. Lucid point #2 occurred immediately thereafter, when I said to myself "hey, this is a dream! I can decide not to get red. I can also decide to loose 20 pounds!" Thus mollified, I rode the beach in peace for a while.

Lucid dreaming - it's not just for breakfast any more.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/672465.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Don't Confuse Me With Facts, Part Whatever

Sadly, many people in this world seem to not want to look at facts. Here's an interesting example.

There was a recent article in NRA’s Shooting Illustrated website entitled Pros and Cons of Concealed-Carry Revolvers. In it, the author noted that for most self-defense and concealed carry applications, Ye Olde Five or Six Shot revolver was more than adequate. This proved very controversial.

Then this shooting expert and author ran the numbers. The article is well worth reading, if only for the humorous summary of incidents. But the meat of the article was simple, and is reproduced here:

Number of shots fired
Average 1.43
Median 2.00
Mode 2.00
Max 2.00

There's the data. The produced a storm of arguments about Ninjas, Drug Addicts, Them Crazy People, and Invasion from Planet Nine. In short, no facts, much speculation.

Facts matter.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/672023.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

You Might Be Busy If...

You might be busy if you look forward to an airplane flight in economy because it gives you time to read a book. I have recently found myself in just such a situation, and I read two books. Herewith are thoughts.

Book #1 Cold Welcome: Vatta's Peace

The latest space opera from Elizabeth Moon and start of a new series, this book takes off with Kylara Vatta, hero, returning to her home world. Rather than getting a hero's welcome, her shuttle is sabotaged and she is marooned on an "uninhabited" and frozen continent. Although it carries forward characters from the Vatta's War series, it's completely free-standing. It's also a fascinating tale of survival and intrigue. I have to admit I felt the books' end was a bit "to be continued" but that may just be me. Highly recommended.

Book #2 At the End of the World: A True Story of Murder in the Arctic

Continuing the cold theme (doubly ironic in that I was flying to and from 90-degree hot and humid Orlando Florida), this book promises much and delivers little. The promise is to be a riveting story of a murder in a remote village in Canada's arctic Hudson Bay region. It's not very riveting. The murders which take place in 1941 are mundane, caused by a couple of local Inuit people who get a twisted idea of Christianity. This fairly straightforward tale is randomly interspersed with memories of the author's visit to the region just before, during and after 9/11. It left me cold.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/671869.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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Grapes of Wrath

I was flying back from a business trip to Orlando today, so I didn't see much news. I did note that the GOP, in a squeaker of a vote, repealed Obamacare. I'll just note the hypocrisy of "read the bill" (which they didn't) and "jam through without debate" (ditto) and the complete lack of bipartisan support for this bill (which supposedly made Obamacare bad). I will note that I think the Republicans have shot themselves in the foot, much like the Sad Puppies did with the Hugo affair.

So, in the Sad Puppies affair, a bunch of maximalists jammed through a slate of nominees. Many people (including Yours Truly) came out of the woodwork to put the kibosh on this. Trump and the GOP have jammed through something that will prove to be unpopular and unworkable. People have been coming out of the woodwork against Trump since the day he won the election, and this will continue.

In general, when maximalists gain control of a situation, anti-maximalists come out of the woodwork to oppose them. In the Civil War, when Southerners, upset that the North wouldn't allow them to expand slavery (see South Carolina's declaration of secession), left the Union and tried to take the Navy and coastal forts on the way out, people came out of the woodwork in opposition.

Being a maximalist generates maximal resistance.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/671574.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Mystery Solved! (Well Sort Of)

I wrote earlier this month that I was a bit stuck on the writing front. I have now gotten somewhat unstuck. Part of what makes mysteries work is that multiple characters need to have Something They Want Hidden. For one of the characters, that's the fact that they killed Colonel Mustard in the drawing room with a candlestick (or whatever works for your story).

For the other characters, this hidden thing doesn't have to be a murder. It doesn't even have to be illegal per se, just something that they don't want revealed. It can help even more if that thing which must be hidden also gives them some combination of motive, means and opportunity to kill Colonel Mustard. (Access to the candlestick and a dislike of Mustard's long-winded stories of the Army in India, for example.)

I have come across just such a motivator. Stolen Valor. For those not clicking through, "stolen valor" is when somebody falsely claims to have been a hero in the military. So, in my WIP, I have a character who is something of a lady's man. Well, what if part of his shtick is "I was a Green Beret in Vietnam" or some such lie?

In my story, the first dead body we find is that of a military veteran. Maybe my vet, suspicious, has done some digging and found out that Mister Green Beret never really served? Even better, in my case, we find that one of his (underage) ex-girlfriends was killed and buried under a shed. Maybe she got rummaging around in his stuff and found something incriminating?

Now I just have to find the time to write all this stuff!

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/671384.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

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A Sad Lack of Empathy

Natalie Luhrs waxes eloquently on the subject of empathy. It's well worth a read.

What struck me is her somewhat off-handed tie-in to the Sad Puppies affair. One of the things which struck me is the inability of professional writers to exhibit empathy. I was (and remain) struck by the idea that people who make money telling stories (Brad Torgersen, Larry Corriea) couldn't grasp that people want to see themselves in the stories they consume.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/671004.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

With apologies to the very good movie of the same name.

The Good

My Rotary club's annual fundraiser is in the bag bank. It appears like we made significantly more money than last year. I hesitate to say more as we're still waiting for final numbers.

The Bad

On CNN in the lobby this morning, I see that Trump had the entire US Senate over to the White House for a briefing on North Korea. One presumes they were told that the Norks were This Close to building atomic bombs. Interested parties should read this well-written piece on that other budding nuclear power, Iraq: Operation Desert Snipe Hunt.

The Ugly

Also on CNN and various other sources, the GOP is taking another stab at repealing Obamacare. Notable is that they exempt themselves from some of the deleterious side effects.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/670768.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

More Flying Cars, and Fundraising Ahead

I've written before of flying cars. Over at File 770, they have a nice little roundup of various current attempts to crack the problem. It's beginning to look like the mechanical problems are solvable. The issues of turbulence and traffic are lagging behind.

In other news, my Rotary club's annual fundraiser is tomorrow. You can go here to participate from anywhere in the world.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/670488.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Breaking Radio Silence

I've fallen off the wagon of daily posts here. This week the main reason was my getting sick on Wednesday, which put the whole week in a tailspin. In any event, I shall try to do better.

Since they've accumulated, have some links:

1) My radio interview is up for a re-run. Visit The Author's Show.

2) An interesting two-part history of one of the most popular cartridges in history, the .38 special. Part 1 and Part 2.

3) Cora Buhlert on false memories.

4) Some pretty pictures: Equihen Plage: The Village of Inverted Boat Houses.

This entry was originally posted at http://chris-gerrib.dreamwidth.org/670419.html. Please comment there using OpenID.

Comment Policy

This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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