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Friday Updates

Various noteworthy items:

1) I see that Russian GRU agents commute to work on flying brooms. Who knew?

2) Regarding this article on Why America didn't become part of the modern world, I said: "Generally a very good post, but a minor quibble. Europe decided to abolish poverty because they didn't have a choice. After the war, pretty much all of Europe lay in ruins, and everybody was poor. After all, the bombs fell on the manor house and the poor house, and both nice and bad streets got fought in.

It is no accident that Great Britain, one of the few countries that didn't get invaded, is trying to leave Europe. They were less poor (although still badly off) after WWII, and so the lesson didn't stick quite as well."

3) Forbes magazine apparently dubbed Kylie Jenner a "self-made woman." Well, she had a huge amount of help from her sister Kim Kardashian. To steal a phrase from Molly Ivins, Kyle was born on third base and got to home on a sacrifice fly.

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Clowns, hard-boiled

I met the author of Honk Honk, My Darling at a Chicago Writers' Association event, where he read an excerpt from the third book in the series. I thought it was very funny, so I bought #1 to try it out. #2 and #3 will soon be in my shopping basket.

Honk Honk My Darling is a parody of hard-boiled crime novels. It's set in a neighborhood of east coast US port city during the later part of WWII. Rex Koko is a clown. He's also a private detective. This is not as weird as it might be because the neighborhood he works in is populated by circus performers between traveling gigs. Rex gets hired to find the wife of a "flyer" (trapeze artist) who's gone missing. In true hard-boiled style, our hard-drinking clown-detective starts to accumulate bodies and bruises.

This is more of a novella then a novel, so it's a quick and breezy read. The story has the right mixture of humor and seriousness, while being true to the character style of hard-boiled fiction. It's not great literature, but it's a fun read presented in a professional manner.

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On Writing

I find each novel I work on is different. Some are very difficult to produce. My current work-that-I'm-trying-to-sell, Eastville, was difficult. Some of that was, as a mystery, I had to bake in clues and red herrings. Some of that was frankly I didn't have much of a mental movie of the story.

I've started another novel, working title Strawberry Creek. I wrote a small bit of it last week, a bit that's been rattling around in my brain for years. Then, last night, the rest of the story came to me. It was as if I was watching a movie play out in my head.

Now I have to write the movie, and it will definitely need editing and tweaking. For example, it spans a period from 1894 to 1986, so at some point in my future there will be a document listing who was born when and what age they were when various events occurred. But the bones of the book are in my head. Now I need to get the bones connected and fleshed out.

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A Two-for-One

Item # 1

Okay, team - I'm doing a giveaway. Click on the link below to enter for a chance to win a Kindle fire! No purchase necessary but always appreciated! Please spread the word! We're doing this Chicago-style - vote early and often. Click here to enter and win!

Item #2

I've become a big fan of author Patrick S. Tomlinson, and so I was eager to read his latest novel, Gate Crashers. It did not disappoint.

The subtitle of the book is "In space, no one can see you screw up." That's an accurate depiction of the book. Set in the 2300s, humanity is starting to colonize space via slower-than-light ships, although we have quantum communications, which are instantaneous. The spaceship Magellan, on an exploratory ship, discovers an alien artifact. The aliens would like it back.

In the Afterwards, Tomlinson said he started writing because he hated the ending of the 6th book of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. That gives you a strong sense of the tone of this book - humorous but in a dry British way. It's also fast-paced enough that I finished it in one day. I highly recommend this book. (

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The Calculating Stars

Last night, I finished reading Mary Robinette Kowal's wonderful new novel The Calculating Stars. It's set in an alternate 1952 in which the US has launched the first space satellite, opening the space race. Then, Washington DC and most of the East Coast of the US gets obliterated by a meteorite. The climate changes from that impact threaten to render Earth uninhabitable, making getting to Mars a priority.

The novel is written in first person, and our narrator is Elma York, mathematician and wife of Nathaniel York. She is a computer - AKA a human mathematician hired to compute stuff, in this case space launch trajectories. She's also a former WASP, a group of women hired to ferry military airplanes around in WWII. This comes in handy, as her piloting skills allow her and her husband to survive the impact.

She eventually decides that she wants to be am astronaut, and that's where the conflict is. This is the 1950s, and women are supposed to be in the kitchen, not in space. Oh, and Elma suffers from anxiety, for which she is eventually proscribed
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Last night, I finished reading Mary Robinette Kowal's wonderful new novel <a href="https://www.amazon.com/Calculating-Stars-Lady-Astronaut-Novel-ebook/dp/B0756JH5R1/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1530815132&sr=8-1&keywords=the+calculating+stars">The Calculating Stars</a>. It's set in an alternate 1952 in which the US has launched the first space satellite, opening the space race. Then, Washington DC and most of the East Coast of the US gets obliterated by a meteorite. The climate changes from that impact threaten to render Earth uninhabitable, making getting to Mars a priority.

The novel is written in first person, and our narrator is Elma York, mathematician and wife of Nathaniel York. She is a computer - AKA a human mathematician hired to compute stuff, in this case space launch trajectories. She's also a former <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_Airforce_Service_Pilots">WASP</a>, a group of women hired to ferry military airplanes around in WWII. This comes in handy, as her piloting skills allow her and her husband to survive the impact.

She eventually decides that she wants to be am astronaut, and that's where the conflict is. This is the 1950s, and women are supposed to be in the kitchen, not in space. Oh, and Elma suffers from anxiety, for which she is eventually proscribed <a href="https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meprobamate>MiltownM</a>.

This set of circumstances makes for a fascinating read. Mary gets to explore sexism, racism (blacks were computers too) and mental health while writing a gripping and entertaining book. It's very eye-opening for me, a straight white dude, to see the problems facing people like Elma - people who can and do contribute greatly.

Mary takes a few liberties with history, notably having Dewey defeat Truman in 1948. (Well, that and the asteroid.) However, one thing she is true to - most of the math that got men into orbit was done by hand, mostly by women. It's a fascinating detail. Overall, I highly recommend this book.

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In Congress, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America, When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.


Button Gwinnett

Lyman Hall

George Walton

North Carolina

William Hooper

Joseph Hewes

John Penn

South Carolina

Edward Rutledge

Thomas Heyward, Jr.

Thomas Lynch, Jr.

Arthur Middleton


John Hancock


Samuel Chase

William Paca

Thomas Stone

Charles Carroll of Carrollton


George Wythe

Richard Henry Lee

Thomas Jefferson

Benjamin Harrison

Thomas Nelson, Jr.

Francis Lightfoot Lee

Carter Braxton


Robert Morris

Benjamin Rush

Benjamin Franklin

John Morton

George Clymer

James Smith

George Taylor

James Wilson

George Ross


Caesar Rodney

George Read

Thomas McKean

New York

William Floyd

Philip Livingston

Francis Lewis

Lewis Morris

New Jersey

Richard Stockton

John Witherspoon

Francis Hopkinson

John Hart

Abraham Clark

New Hampshire

Josiah Bartlett

William Whipple


Samuel Adams

John Adams

Robert Treat Paine

Elbridge Gerry

Rhode Island

Stephen Hopkins

William Ellery


Roger Sherman

Samuel Huntington

William Williams

Oliver Wolcott

New Hampshire

Matthew Thornton

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Questionable Items and Good News

Two questionable items from my recent job hunt and some good news:

Item #1

I signed up for a job web site, and they offered a free resume review, tied to a service that will, for a fee, write your resume. So I submitted mine. I got some decent feedback and did a rewrite. When I signed up for another job site, I got the same offer so I submitted the revised resume under a different email address.

I got the exact same recommendations! Verbatim, with the same generic example. Oh, and another offer to have somebody write my resume for me for a fee.

Item #2

I applied online for a job posted on a web site. It was clearly posted on behalf of a company by some headhunter firm. Two hours later, I'm talking to that firm and being told for a high four-figure payment upfront ("don't worry - most people cover it with their signing bonus") we'll get you a much higher-paying job. I think not.

Good News

I had applied to the VA for healthcare. I sent the application in, and it went nowhere. So I called, expecting to get a runaround. Nope - the very helpful person figured out what was missing and got me taken care of straight away. It was actually quite pleasant.

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Getting Out!

I've heard tell of people who work at home wanting to schedule events or even just go to a coffee shop so they can get out of the house. I now understand that feeling, having driven to Batavia for a "writing jam." (Writing jam = go to a public place with other writers and write.)

It was nice to get out. It was also nice to get 1300 words down on a new project.

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Admiral Holdo

So on Twitter, somebody made a post wondering how anybody would believe a purple-haired lady in a prom dress would be an Admiral in the Army. He's referring to Laura Dern's character in The Last Jedi.

Well, to seize the capillary, armies have generals, navies have admirals. To seize the jugular, the whole plot of the movie was to make us question who we assumed were heroes and what was heroism. When Leia was incapacitated, we (including me and Poe) assumed that Poe was going to be put in command. Hell, he was getting up to make a speech when Holdo was introduced! Then, over the course of the movie, she gives Poe a lesson on how to act like a soldier.

That's also the B-plot of that movie. Finn, hero of the previous movie, tries to desert (again, I remind you) and gets stopped by a mechanic (Rose Tico, played by Kelly Tran). He then gets sucked into Poe's disastrous plan. Finn also learns a lesson.

In short, Laura Dern with purple hair in a prom dress is a feature, not a bug.

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Let's Be Civil

Since civility, decorum and politeness seem to be on everybody's mind today, herewith are my two cents.

I'm all in favor of civility, decorum and politeness. But that does tend to go both ways. If you're uncivil to me, don't expect me to be civil to you. (I'll certainly *try* to be civil. Just don't be surprised if I'm not.) And calling me a "libtard" or other slurs is uncivil.

Again, I'm in favor of civility. However, calls for civility frequently have the effect of preventing change. Social change, from women getting the vote to the civil rights movement, only happened because people weren't polite.

tl;dr: Civility is nice, but sometimes change requires not being nice.

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Why Agents?

While I search for a job, I have also embarked on a search for a literary agent. I’ve had more than a few conversations online and in person asking why anybody would want or need an agent. Herewith are a few general thoughts on why an agent would be helpful. This is both specific to literary agents and general to most types of agents.

1) Time. Selling a book takes a lot of time. Files need to be sent, responses tracked, and questions answered. Even if you don’t have another full-time job, the time spent selling a book is time not spent writing one. In other fields in which agents are common, such as real estate, this time factor is even more important. How much time do you have to show your house?
2) Expertise. A good agent knows the market. They know what is salable and what is not, and what would be a good price for something. Here in real estate and writing, an agent can also provide an objective set of eyes, pointing out what needs to be fixed or made pretty (staging a home) in order to get the sale.
3) Access. Agents usually have access to markets that non-agents don’t. In writing, many publishers simply won’t talk to authors who don’t have agents.
4) The deal. Once an interested buyer has been found, a contract needs to be agreed to. Good agents know the pitfalls and problems of this phase of the sale and will get you around them.

There are some pitfalls to agents. Finding a good one is hard. One wants to make sure the agent only makes money if you do. Lastly, agents are interested in making the deal. If one’s top priority isn’t selling something, an agent relationship can be problematic. But if you can avoid the pitfalls, finding an agent is well worth the effort.

To shorter myself, writing is an art, publishing is a business.

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The Joys of the Big City

My master bathroom has two sinks. On one of them, the drain was stuck closed. I finally got around to fixing it, which involved replacing the stopper at the bottom of the drain. Alas, the Home Depot "universal" stopper proved to be not universal enough for my sink.

So, I was sent to a specialty supply store, one that only sold plumbing supplies. It was a run-down looking place in a little strip mall. There was a small lobby fronted by a counter, staffed by one man, and off to one side and behind a half-height divider was a desk, also inhabited by one older gentleman. One asked for a part, and the counterman went and got it.

But here were the most important things. First, they knew at a glance what I needed. Second, they had it. Third, it was a 15 minute drive from my house. You don't find places like that in a small town.

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Mary Shelley and The Last Man

Mary Shelley is widely credited with creating the genre of science fiction with her first novel Frankenstein. Well, she didn't stop there - she died in 1851 and wrote a sizable body of work, including what was billed as another science fiction novel, The Last Man. I discovered that I could get a paperback version of that book on Amazon so I took a flyer.

Now, I knew one of the reasons we don't read the novel much today is that it is set in the later half of the 21st century and to nobody's surprise Shelley didn't get much of her future right. Until I read the book, I didn't know how much she was off. Her late 21st century has only one technological advantage over ours - "sailing balloons" that might be able to get you from London to Scotland in 48 hours. She has a minor political change - England is a republic - but the heir to the throne is still heavily involved in politics. Oh, Greece and Turkey are still at war.

Structurally, the novel is very slow. The first half is a story of Lionel Verney, his sister Perdita and their childhood to involvement with the Earl of Windsor, the son of the former King. Frankly, by the time the plague hit I had stopped caring and skimmed the rest.

Now, the novel was very successful in her era, and I think I know why. It's only technically a science fiction novel. In reality, it's a roman a clef about her life with Percy Shelley and Lord Byron. Contemporary readers would see the parallels and gossip about them. Modern readers, unless much more heavily steeped in the history of the time than I am, just get lost.

The moral of the story - novels are a product of their time. Sometimes they age well and sometimes not.

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Space Force and DHS

Two thoughts based on yesterday's news:

Thought The First - Space Force!

Comes news today that Trump ordered the Pentagon to create a separate space force. He doesn't actually have the authority to do so (it requires Congress to pass a law) and at this point in time making a space force is merely a full-employment act for flag officers.

I can't find the actual text of the Executive Order, but I've been told it doesn't actually say "go make a space force." In short, typical Trump - all flash and no cash.

Thought the Second - DHS

I watched part of yesterday's news conference in which DHS Secretary attempted to defend the current policy of separating children from families. It was an amazing example of bald-faced lying.

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Immigration Policy

I have no problem detaining people who enter the US illegally. However, it is *not* illegal to enter the US while seeking asylum. Be that as it may, I did not fall off of a turnip truck, so I know asylum seekers may not truly need asylum. I am thus okay with detaining them. I am *not* okay with separating families. That is, per the DHS official webpage, our current policy, and it is wrong.

If you want to help out Walmart by acquiring their excess real estate, then put the *whole* family in them. And no, this is not "the Democrats made us do this" this is all on the current Republican administration.

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Yesterday, I had the chance to play a round of golf on the first true golf course created in the Chicago area. It's now the Downers Grove Golf Course. Per this history and review, the course was founded in 1892 as the Chicago Golf Club. Alas, that well-funded group moved to new digs in 1895, and that course became the oldest 18-hole course in the US.

The club's original home went through various hands, and in 1968 ended up as property of the Downers Grove Park District, and they cut it to nine holes. They also built a modern clubhouse, and other than a couple of signs, there's no indication one is playing on a historical venue.

Regarding yesterday's round of golf, we had as good of weather as one could expect in Chicago in June. It was overcast, not too hot or humid, and low wind. I had my usual inconsistent round, shooting a trio of sevens, then getting a par and two bogies. Still, it was fun, and given that this weekend in Chicago is due for record heat and humidity, I was glad we were able to get out.

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Food, or what should we raise to eat

I’ve periodically written about space colonization. (No, I am not obsessed about space. I can quit thinking about it any time I want to.) While doing that highly-important task of dinking around on the Internet, I came across this Twitter thread.

The author, Dr. Sarah Taber, is an expert in agriculture, and does a lot of work in support of greenhouses and other agricultural endeavors. She was talking to somebody about how a vegetarian diet is more sustainable for the Earth. Perhaps surprisingly, she’s not in support of that. Some key points she makes:

1) Many human societies (Bedouin, Mongols, Maasai, Inuit) have all or very high meat diets.

2) Many of the early human societies that didn’t eat a lot of meat (The Ganges valley, ancient Egypt, China, much of early Europe) had two things in common:
a. Lots of rain
b. Hierarchical societies that could enforce a low-meat diet

3) Humans can only eat a relatively small part of a plant. We need seeds and soft leaves. As she says, “we eat straw, we’ll poop straw” without getting any nourishment from it.

4) Large parts of the world, to include the current lettuce capital of the USA, Arizona, naturally only support “scrub plants.” We can’t eat them, and the only way to get what we can eat to grow there is to irrigate the hell out of the place.

5) Cows and other animals with multiple stomachs can, on the other hand, eat these plants just fine. All you need for cows is drinking water.

Then the good doctor does the math. 10 cows could graze on 73 acres of land and consume about 67,000 gallons of water a year. To get food crops out of the same chunk of land, you’d need 79 MILLION gallons of water. Now, it’s true that you can feed more people on 73 acres of crops then you can on 10 cows, but only if you’ve got the water. So, in dry areas, it makes sense to let cows graze, and in wet areas one grows crops.

Now, let’s tie this to space. It’s traditional to assume that space colonists will eat only plants. But water is heavy, and even the best recycling system will have some losses. I suspect, therefore, that at some scale of agriculture it would not make sense to grow plants for protein. It would be better to raise animals – especially animals that can eat the stalks and shoots of plants we can’t.

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On a Happier Note...

A few weeks back, I saw a trailer for the movie Mary Shelley. Since I'm a fan of Frankenstein and loved the book The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein, so I decided to make a point of watching the movie.
It's good I made a point - the movie was independently-released which means it's very hard to find in theaters. I happened to see that it was available on pay-per-view, so that's how I watched it.

The movie has no monsters in it - or at least no artificial ones. It's the story of Mary Shelley, a teenaged unwed mother who hooked up with Percy Shelley, a flaky poet, and had various problems as a result. But Mary, the child of two famous writers, desperately wanted to write herself, and she did. Frankenstein, her first novel, has themes of abandonment and death. The movie, which shows the death of her first child and her near-abandonment by Shelley, highlights how these themes came to dominate her. It's a quiet movie, but very entertaining.

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Summit Fun

I'm a bit cranky today, so be warned. I've watched our President go to two summits in as many weeks. In the first summit, he insults our closest allies and refuses to sign a joint statement with them. In the second summit, he goes and glad-hands a hereditary dictator, gets played like a piano, and declares victory. Thoughts:

1) North Korea asked for the "denuclearization of the Korean peninsula." There are only two entities that have nukes on the *peninsula* - the North Koreans and the Americans. Kim wants the *US* to cut South Korea loose from our protection.

2) We've apparently agreed to cancel military exercises on the peninsula. Since when does the United States not work with its allies because its enemy asked it to?

3) I remember all the way back to 2008 when the mere idea of talking to North Korea had the Republicans in vapors. Why are they not in vapors now? (I'll give you three guesses.)

4) This is at least the third time North Korea has promised to give up their nukes. Previous pledges were 1994 and 2006. We believe them now because?

5) Given the level of cheating before, how exactly are we supposed to trust the North Koreans?

6) Lastly, I am amazed, truly amazed, at the level of gullibility seen on pro-Trump sites. Based on this one meeting, they have decided that Kim, a man of 35, is planning to retire and convert his country into a democracy. Really? Call me about my selection of bridges for sale.

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Hugo Votes, Best Related

I am slowly working my way through the Hugo ballot, and hit what is to me always a tough call, the Best Related Work. Because it's such a catch-all category, I frequently find myself comparing apples to kumquats. This year's list is a bit more cohesive, but still hard to vote on. I ended up using my usual metric, which is, "which would I buy first?" and proceeding that way. Here's where I landed (1 to 6)

No Time to Spare: Thinking About What Matters Ursula K. Le Guin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Sleeping with Monsters: Readings and Reactions in Science Fiction and Fantasy Liz Bourke (Aqueduct

Crash Override: How Gamergate (Nearly) Destroyed My Life, and How We Can Win the Fight Against Online Hate Zoe Quinn (PublicAffairs)

Iain M. Banks (Modern Masters of Science Fiction) Paul Kincaid (University of Illinois Press)
Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler edited by Alexandra Pierce and Mimi Mondal (Twelfth Planet Press)

A List Fuse: The Provocative Life of Harlan Ellison Nat Segaloff (NESFA Press)

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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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