New Release: Saving Tessa

>> Saturday, November 22, 2014

I just released my personal favorite of my novels (so far) today. You'll be able to find it at the compelling price of $4.99 at your favorite retailer.

Dylan Chroz, high school senior, had a reputation as the unchallenged king of the technical world, a genius with dozens of patents to his name. He also had a reputation for being as cold and calculating as the supercomputers he could design in his sleep.

So he was unprepared when Maxcomm discovered what really mattered to him: the spunky girl at the center of his existence. Or when they stole her away so they could use her against him.

It was a mistake, of course, to make an enemy of Dylan, even if he was hampered by his fear for Tessa. After all, people who threaten Tessa were definitely not going to come out unscathed.

And Maxcom didn't appreciate what those around Dylan will do to help him save Tessa.

But the real mistake they made was thinking Tessa was going to sit quietly by and get used. As if Tessa would stand for that!

That last mistake was really going to cost them

Contains some language and violence. You can find Saving Tessa on Smashwords

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Why the Panic over Ebola is More Dangerous than the Virus

>> Sunday, October 19, 2014

The crazy stupid politicians are screaming crisis and blaming as fast as they can, casting suspicion every immigrant, every traveler, citizen who has ever had a connection to Africa in any way as a deliberate carrier of Ebola (with their own lives willingly forfeit as well). Their own government agencies, intended to address concerns like Ebola are incompetent (even if they were among the many who voted to cut funding for both CDC and NIH) or lying and instilling a false sense of security. Naturally, it's all the President's fault, or ISIS (who the President enabled), or the Latin American refugee children (who, ironically would have dropped by the side of the road long before reaching the goal if infected), or all part of Obama's elaborate plan to attack white America via an African disease. Some of the people lambasting our epidemiologists have already shown their science chops (or rather their distinct lack of any) on the climate question, but, true to form, have not let their profound ignorance stop them from telling the experts what's what. Some should definitely know better than to cry dishonesty to our most knowledgeable experts and those worldwide who have been battling the different waves of Ebola for several decades and tens of thousands of cases.

The media outlets are right on board, trumpeting Ebolagedden and implying government corruption, incompetence, coverups, and conspiracy, often in the same sentence (despite the fact that some of these are contradictory).They're quick to parse simple language memos into dire ominous warnings, oftimes implying the bulletins say the exact opposite of what they actually say (due to creative interpretation and word parsing - see my previous post) while, at the same time, accusing these same organizations of covering up the real truth they say they just got from the bulletins. If you think a second or so of rational thought would highlight the flaws in such logic, you'd be right; unfortunately, their audience isn't getting past "Ebola, run for your lives!" and "I knew they were hiding it!"

(One individual complained to me that, though "they admitted transmission via sneezing were possible they were downplaying the likelihood." I asked them, how do you downplay a likelihood that, after nearly four decades and thousands of cases, has never happened? Sheesh!)

This sort of thing isn't a new phenomenon, but the panic, far more than the disease, is  particularly dangerous and particularly at this time.


It's dangerous for hospitals and emergency patients who need those hospitals. By implying Ebola is an unpredictable boil about to erupt on America, people are going to be cautious about contact. Which is fine to a point.

But that means vomiting or stomachaches or fevers, even mild ones, (all fairly common symptoms) could readily convince the paranoid that they've contracted Ebola so that they clog up emergency rooms (who may not be able to take such claims lightly for fear of a repeat of the Duncan incident), distracting caregivers from legitimate emergencies where lives are on the line. Caregivers (who are the mostly likely to get exposed to Ebola) may elect to take special precautions, including full gear, for anyone bleeding while feverish or vomiting. While understandable, it's largely overkill unless there's a good reason to suspect Ebola. Making Ebola a boogeyman that can attack any time or anywhere drives these types of precautions which take up time, make work more awkward and distracts caregivers from vital life-saving work. There are lives at stake, some of which might be forfeit for this unbased fear.

Regular people will also be paranoid about contact. People might panic, afraid to touch their own children that start puking or get an unexpected fever. People might become wary of contact with anyone who's been outside the country, with strangers and, I'm sad to say because Africa is always linked to Ebola, especially black strangers. Many of us are old enough to remember the stigmatizing and needless isolation of AIDS patients, hemophiliacs, homosexuals - and that stigmatizing often carried far beyond those who actually had AIDS to any gay people. If that kind of trend started with black people, it could get very ugly, very quickly.

Folks, Ebola is about transmissable as AIDS, except the window between infection and the part where someone has to be in a hospital is very short, less than three weeks at the outside. It's not easy to catch even when one is ill: the people who were living with Duncan, even during those days after the first trip to the ER until the day he started vomiting, three days later, haven't contracted Ebola (they go off quarantine today). The reason why AIDS gets transmitted so well is because it can be dormant a long time where no one (even the person who has it) may know. The reason why Ebola is currently spread so much in Africa is that, though fluid transmission is the only way, the last stage of Ebola involves spewing fluids from pretty much every orifice. And isolation facilities are few and overcrowded, with many locations having limited hygiene and sanitation facilities.

That's not the case here in the US. Which is why the WHO experts (who have been fighting this, studying and documenting it since it first appeared in 1976) say it won't be an epidemic here and that flying on a plane while not yet really sick is dangerous. And why the CDC experts, who have been following the information from WHO, have said it won't be the same here.

But the media and the politicians refuse to listen both for the very same reason. For the media, of course, it's all about profit. Getting people scared or furious keeps them glued to the TV and that's great for ratings, truth be damned, damage be damned. I mentioned that media outlets hoping to cash in on the sensationalism by spreading unnecessary fear "suck green donkey balls." That still stands, but that's not even the worst.

For politicians, there are many who have a particular interest in the distractions and stirring up the populace right now and that's the mid-term elections, barely two weeks away. If enough of the politicians, notably those who specialize in criticizing Obama and liberal policies (including, ironically, public services like CDC) either up for election this year or who want to set the stage for themselves via this election's results, can sway the uncertain elements of the crowd to vote for them to preserve their lives from Ebola, well, they'll say anything to make it so.

If they do so, and many of the obstructionists and people intent on sacrificing the American people to the 1% succeed in taking power, there will be far more harm done than even in the ERs, far more pervasive, far more long-lasting, far deeper misery than Ebola could do on its worst day. IF we let fear rule us.  That's the apex of the damage we face, the real horror this scare, rather than the virus, could do us.

I hate anyone who makes a profit from other people's misery (as Ebola surely is), but when a politician uses it for his (or her) own gain or to promote his own agenda, I think it is criminally negligible, irresponsible and, if he's a public servant, a violation of his office and oath of duty. Personally, I'd like to see such scumbags in jail. But I'll settle for voting them out in November. The irony is that the supporters for these very politicians are the ones most likely to take to paranoia - wouldn't it be interesting if their fear kept them home during the election? That, would be something like "hoist in one's own petard."

The repercussions from hysteria are already starting: Fearbola



>> Thursday, October 16, 2014

OK, for those people out there losing their freaking minds over Ebola and those citing inflammatory articles that say CDC is completely contradicted by the World Health Organization (WHO) and contaminated surfaces (without description) are also possible places of transmission (and these articles cite other non-science articles, I might add, not WHO). They say:

"...wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus -- over a short distance -- to another nearby person," says a W.H.O. bulletin released this week. [1] "This could happen when virus-laden heavy droplets are directly propelled, by coughing or sneezing..."

That same bulletin also says, "The Ebola virus can also be transmitted indirectly, by contact with previously contaminated surfaces and objects."

 This is exactly what I mean when I get angry and media deliberately conflating the risk. DELIBERATELY CONFLATING THIS. Let me quote the actual bulletin referenced:

"Theoretically, wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus – over a short distance – to another nearby person." [My emphasis]

The theoretically is pretty freaking important. But more important is the entire passage this is embedded in:

Not an airborne virus

Ebola virus disease is not an airborne infection. Airborne spread among humans implies inhalation of an infectious dose of virus from a suspended cloud of small dried droplets.
This mode of transmission has not been observed during extensive studies of the Ebola virus over several decades.
Common sense and observation tell us that spread of the virus via coughing or sneezing is rare, if it happens at all. Epidemiological data emerging from the outbreak are not consistent with the pattern of spread seen with airborne viruses, like those that cause measles and chickenpox, or the airborne bacterium that causes tuberculosis.
Theoretically, wet and bigger droplets from a heavily infected individual, who has respiratory symptoms caused by other conditions or who vomits violently, could transmit the virus – over a short distance – to another nearby person.
This could happen when virus-laden heavy droplets are directly propelled, by coughing or sneezing (which does not mean airborne transmission) onto the mucus membranes or skin with cuts or abrasions of another person.
WHO is not aware of any studies that actually document this mode of transmission. On the contrary, good quality studies from previous Ebola outbreaks show that all cases were infected by direct close contact with symptomatic patients.
You'll notice that the passage, as a whole, says effectively the opposite of what the article implies.

The article also talks about contaminated surfaces: Here's the paragraph in the bulletin:
The Ebola virus can also be transmitted indirectly, by contact with previously contaminated surfaces and objects. The risk of transmission from these surfaces is low and can be reduced even further by appropriate cleaning and disinfection procedures.
Well, that sounds scary! What about the plane seat and the handle to the bathroom and the...

Calm down. In the WHO Ebola fact sheet, they kindly provide a definition of contaminated surfaces.
Ebola then spreads through human-to-human transmission via direct contact (through broken skin or mucous membranes) with the blood, secretions, organs or other bodily fluids of infected people, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with these fluids.
  Note that "surfaces and materials" means materials contaminated with fluids (which is pretty much the same thing as contact with the fluids) which is, HEY, just what the CDC said. That doesn't mean someone sitting, not vomiting or bleeding or dribbling feces or blowing out barrels of snot has contaminated a plane full of people, especially since she was a nurse, already concerned, who I'm sure made a point not to sneeze directly on anyone. She had a low grade fever, not an eruption of body fluids. Get a damn grip.

But don't take my word for it. WHO has a memo (called, ironically enough, "WHO: Air Travel is Low Risk for Ebola Transmission") dedicated to plane travel where they say:
“Unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not airborne,” says Dr Isabelle Nuttall, Director of WHO Global Capacity Alert and Response. “It can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with the disease.”
On the small chance that someone on the plane is sick with Ebola, the likelihood of other passengers and crew having contact with their body fluids is even smaller. Usually when someone is sick with Ebola, they are so unwell that they cannot travel. WHO is therefore advising against travel bans to and from affected countries.
“Because the risk of Ebola transmission on airplanes is so low, WHO does not consider air transport hubs at high risk for further spread of Ebola,” says Dr Nuttall.
By the way, if you're interested in the truth, go to the source. I found these WHO pages in less than two minutes. (Also, interestingly enough, even in Africa the mortality rate is 50% which is much better than worst mortality rates [90%] but not as good as the best mortality rate [25%] of past outbreaks.

There is also the UN Mission for Emergency Response Memo which says, gasp, the same thing.
The Ebola virus only spreads through contact with bodily fluids. The World Health Organization (WHO) monitors the virus closely. Viruses do mutate but it is a complex process that takes time. Right now, as advised by WHO, the safest thing anyone can do is avoid direct contact with bodily fluids of people who have Ebola, and with surfaces and materials (e.g. bedding, clothing) contaminated with fluids.

And, of course, the much maligned CDC with their fact sheet:

When an infection does occur in humans, there are several ways the virus can be spread to others. These include:
·        •direct contact with the blood or body fluids(including but not limited to feces, saliva, urine, vomit and semen) of a person who is sick with Ebola
·        •contact with objects (like needles and syringes ) that have been contaminated with the blood or body fluids of an infected person or with infected animals

The virus in the blood and body fluids can enter another person’s body through broken skin or unprotected mucous membranes in, for example, the eyes, nose, or mouth. The viruses that cause Ebola are often spread among families and friend, because they come in close contact with blood or body fluids when caring for ill persons.

During outbreaks of Ebola, the disease can spread quickly within healthcare settings, such as clinics or hospitals. Exposure to Ebola can occur in healthcare settings where hospital staff are not wearing appropriate protective clothing including masks, gowns, gloves , and eye protection.Dedicated medical equipment (preferably disposable, when possible) should be used by healthcare personnel providing care for someone sick with Ebola.

Proper cleaning and disposal of instruments, such as needles and syringes, is also important. If instruments are not disposable, they must be sterilized before being used again. Without adequate instrument sterilization, virus transmission can continue and amplify an outbreak.

If you're keeping score, it says effectively the same thing, in fact is the most alarmist of them all. So, do us all a favor. Calm down.

And, for you media outlets hoping to cash in on the sensationalism by spreading unnecessary fear, you suck green donkey balls. By the way, all my sources are original, cited and linked.


Being Liberal

>> Wednesday, October 15, 2014

I'm on Facebook a lot more than I blog any more. Interaction is quicker and more immediate, even if it's not conducive to pontificating as I am wont to do. However, the exchanges can be made into fodder that works here as well.

In this case, the discussion was over a story about the always charming Ted Nugent and his latest mental aberration toward our duly elected Presidentso we could know what's going on and noting that this behavior is illegal.You can read the thread yourself here if you're concerned I'm misrepresenting it.

On this thread, someone piped up "It never stopped any of the left saying the same thing about President Bush." Someone challenged that (as I thought they should since, though I've heard plenty of people say they loathe Bush, Cheney and many of the nutso folks representing Republicans in politics and the media, I'd never heard anyone solicit his assassination as has been done publicly at least twice just the past week - overlooking the calls for overthrow or for the military to refuse to follow commands, but I digress) and wanted a name or situation.

The response boiled down (my paraphrasing) to the "fact" it was obviously true and I knew it ("Sweetie"). Probably a mistake. But that's OK, she's not afraid to go toe to toe with me (though she was warned by someone else ("
Common sense trumps her rockets.") then went off on how much more vile we are than Republicans and how we totally let each other get away with everything. She did admit that she doesn't waste her time with "liberal" media so I presume she limits herself to Fox News (which she didn't deny). Shudder.

My response to this: 

First, let me note, that any of my liberal friends can attest to the fact that if I think they've gone to far or are over the edge, I don't hesitate to let them know. I have stood against popular "liberal" hatefests more than once (rarely held against a single person) and have cautioned against characterizing whole groups as the same. I will say that Republicans and Tea Party people I have come into contact with or see on the television don't give me much to work with.

I can also honestly say, despite hanging with this liberal crowd for more than a decade, that I have never heard anyone speak of Bush or Cheney with this level of hatred .I know some pretty angry liberals, too, but apparently you know people a whole level beyond that. I won't condone such behavior if it happens, but neither will I take responsibility for an assertion that an unnamed someone somewhere is just as bad. I only have control over my own actions.

Personally, rather than focus on on each others' character or perception of same, I'd rather focus on the argument at hand. And that goes back to (if true, still not established) the "both sides do it" defense, also known as "he hit me too" defense well used in kindergartens across the nation. Unfortunately, as grade school children of acumen eventually learn, the argument is fallacious. The notion that more than one injustice excuses one of them is null logic.

It's like saying, oil's okay because coal is so much dirtier, when alternatives that do nothing to harm the carbon problem are at hand. Both must be abandoned, and as soon as possible, for the good of a world full of people, animals and plants.

Or that underpaid soldiers would be paid less than fast food workiers if their pay was moved to $15/hour (which is inherently misleading a comparison since soldiers are provided food and housing (of at least some level) and the rest of us must provide our own), BUT, even if it were an apples to apples comparison, one injustice does not validate another one. The assertion that hard-working people working full time should be able to subsist on their earnings remains.
 Her response (again paraphrased):
1. Oil and coal are because they're easy and cheaper. 2. A soldier is more worthy than fast food workers or even her or I and should be paid accordingly. 3. Republicans aren't anti-women because birth control is cheaper than it used to be and just because Obama says he's for equal pay doesn't mean he'll do it. "If you do a good job then you should get good pay, if the job merits the pay no matter what sex you are." 4 "As for just because you did it, we shouldn't do it, life just doesn't work that way, and after all, you have a lot of bad people in your party, and we have some too. That's life, sad but true." I left 4 untouched because I have no idea what she was trying to say. 

So, I answered. 

1) Wrong on both counts (that it's OK and that it's cheaper) I use 100% wind and it costs me the same. And wind has already shown to be cheaper for electricity generation. But, even if it were more expensive, it would NOT be okay because there are people and animals and ecosystems across the world ALREADY on the precipice of devastation that we can only stop if we check ourselves. You can fight me on this but since you have effectively NO science on your side, you WILL lose.

2) You missed my point. I never said they weren't paid well enough, but that doesn't justify people being paid so little they can't survive That WAS my point. But there's also something inherently snobby in deciding who is worth more than someone else. It is also, in my opinion, downright callous to imply that some work is "worthy" of being paid a living wage. We need people to work in all kinds of ways, some that many people think are beneath them and that kind of attitude, to me, belongs in the dark ages. Fast food work and many other drudge tasks are damn hard work and some people, despite being treated like the gum on someone's shoe, take pride and effort in their work day in and day out. They deserve to be able to feed themselves and live for that work. (Note, also, that historically, upping the minimum wage has always improved the economy and therefore job growth, including in those states that recently instituted it)

3) Not sure how this is even part of the discussion but, since it is relatively inexpensive, why not provide it, given that it's far less expensive for an insurance company than paying for a birth. But the point isn't the economics, it's whether someone ELSE gets to decide what a woman should be able to do with her body, what legal methods she can and can't have access to. Someone else deciding she has to sacrifice the rest of her life for a natural activity someone else did with her. As for the equal pay issue, that IS EXACTLY THE POINT. I am a rocket scientist whose worked in this business 25 years. When I started with this company, I was given very large raises in quick succession because this particular company has and follows a policy of equal pay. I had already worked in this business 15 years and my pay hadn't even doubled. After working for this company it more than doubled in two years to bring it up to industry average. So, that's the problem All companies should do this and most won't until they have no choice.

4) I have no idea what you are trying to even say with this point. What are you talking about?

The people who represent Republicans and Tea Party in politics and media are (a) batshit crazy, (b) dumb as posts and ignorant of government processes, and/or (c) unrepentantly dishonest and make not bones about being bought and paid for. They also make no bones about throwing the entire nation they're supposed to work for under the bus because they hate their president. They BRAG about it. There is not a single item you've mentioned (including the one you brought up on your own) that shows any sign of independent thought or research or data to support it. That is part of the problem.

Because I'm not like that and neither are the liberals I know. I don't listen to a single source or get my data from one place. I don't take everything I hear at face value unless I've already researched it and it jibes with existing data. I'm a liberal because (a) I have compassion for people even if they aren't rich or white or Americans and (b) most of the conservative policies are reminiscent of the dark ages and I know how that turned out. I also know they are doomed to failure because history has shown it time and time again. The liberals I hang with are like that; they don't walk in lockstep or agree on every issue or on the way to solve things. We hold ourselves to higher standards and never forget that we have a duty to the world not to screw it up beyond repair and to our children not to leave them a mess too big to fix or to send them to die in wars that aren't required. We care about people in this country who suffer needlessly and people all over the world who are suffering both due to our actions and our indifference.

And I am grieved and disgusted when someone who shares my views does something reprehensible. But I don't waste my contempt for some unnamed someone that someone else tells me shares my views. Give me a name and some data and I can decide for myself.

You were warned. I'm not smart because I'm a rocket scientist. I'm a rocket scientist (technically a Senior Project Engineer) because I'm smart.

So, if you're ever asking yourself why I'm a liberal, now you know. It's because I'm not completely devoid of compassion and because I'm smart. 


Ah, L'Amour

>> Wednesday, October 8, 2014


Something of a dirty word in literary circles, not just because so much of what's published today under the category of "romance" is, well, smut. (Personally, I have a great deal more respect for those that publish graphically described sex under the unabashed title "erotica" but that's a separate point).

And that's a pity, because love, as a theme, has been popular since time immemorial, not just in women's literature but in legends, in mainstream novels and making some inroads in every other genre. I, personally, love romance, which is why I hate most romance novels I've been exposed to my last twenty years.

Why? Well, first there's the caliber of much of the writing. Just because the plot is basically pre-defined with only a few details to provide, doesn't mean everything else should be throwaway. Cardboard characters, substandard writing, implausible connections and plot devices make many of the assembly-line quality romances available as appealing as cleaning the bathroom the day after a major night of binge drinking. Nor is the caliber of such writing improved by use of a thesaurus (please, I'm begging you). If you don't know what the word means, the nuances of a word, don't bloody well use it. When I see someone riding over the "emerald verdant green grass" on the first page, it's the last page I'll be reading.

But the caliber of the writing is only part of the pain, because, as I've explained a few times in the past, what passes for romance tend to be three different things: (a) [least offensive but least interesting] two forgettable people thrown together in implausible circumstances who show no connection whatsoever but somehow end up as a couple, (b) two people who hate each other all the time, but who heat up the sheets like no one's business (a recipe for romantic disaster in my opinion) or (c) a variation on a or b where we "liven things up" by having the "hero" rape the heroine for spurious reasons. I find all of these the opposite of romance, with the last especially unadulterated misogyny, inflicted on women by other women.

It doesn't have to be that way. Georgette Heyer, still called the Queen of Regency Romance though she's been dead for forty years (and her books are still mostly in print, I might add) wrote engaging, historically believable, entertaining, hilarious love stories with characters of surpassing depth (yes, even her stock characters). Love stories because the people the heroes (and heroines) cared about were more important than themselves, were worth sacrifices, were precious and treated as such. Sex, naturally, was not much a part of these romances, in keeping with the times and the care with which our heroes guarded the virtue of their ladies - because that was one sign of respect and adoration. After all, if a girl was ruined, she suffered far more than the ruiner. I have to add that there's a sophistication to these stories, an appeal that's hard to describe but let me just say I've hooked more than one male friend on these books.

More recently, I've discovered Nora Roberts (who also writes under the name of J.D. Robb for some futuristic thrillers) who manages (at least in all the books I've read) to avoid falling into the trap of lifeless characters and hateful or raping protagonists. She's also quite humorous. However, from what I've been exposed to (and I haven't had the stomach the past decade or so to try many new romance authors for this very reason), she is very much the exception and not the rule.

That's how pervasive these attitudes are in our culture, not just men, but also women. So, why bring it up? I read something today that really got my mind thinking, something that surprised me. Now, as most of you who know me know, I tend toward liberal/feministic thinking. Not going to apologize, just a reminder for those of you who somehow missed that. Most of my friends on Facebook tend the same direction.

So, imagine my surprise when someone posts a link to an article about a young woman who chooses to stay celibate until marriage and how difficult this is to communicate with potential dating partners and how difficult it was to maintain a relationship. Among other things, she struggled with having the convey this message early enough in the relationship but not weird out potential partners on the first date. She she even dated a very conservative Christian who not only was the women-should-be-seen-and-not-heard type she found hard to stomach, but also put more sexual pressure on her than her other dating partners.

If you're confused why I was surprised, let me explain that I wasn't surprised this was posted. What surprised me were the attitudes of my liberal, anti-rape, pro-feminism friends who described her as a "fundamentally an extremely dishonest, disingenuous and manipulative individual" because she didn't tell guys on the first date. And not just one person or one gender piped in with more along the same lines: that "Physical intimacy is a normal and healthy expectation of romantic dating" or that she should limit her choices to those on a "Christian website" because "she should stop trying to date men that aren't part of her pretty circumscribed social set." She was categorized as a "conservative right-wing Republican" (not sure why that had to be so) and "drama queen." 

Whoa, wait, what? Since when is it wrong for a woman to decide when and to whom she wants to have sex? Or that she has to give her sexual history to guys (on the first date no less)? Or that she has to justify her position in any way? That sounded to me (and still does) like the "expectation" that dating involved sex was somehow an obligation on her part. And that many, otherwise liberal pro-women people considered the onus entirely on her to warn away potential partners from the get-go. My response (which I'll repeat here) is, why shouldn't someone who feels sex is an expectation say it on the first date: "If you don't put out in a reasonable time frame, I'm walking. I'm only interested in dating people willing to be my sexual partner." (I'm sure that would go over well)

Why is the freedom we've all fought for (and I also defend) for women to share their bodies as they choose to (for any reason they want) not apply to women who, hey, don't want to share their bodies with just anyone?

To be honest, I was appalled, not only that this attitude was so pervasive (both men and women: ""I think physical intimacy is a near given in romantic dating, otherwise it is a platonic friendship"), but how insulting it was to both men and women.  Men can't be passionate about someone, love someone without sex? Women can't find someone precious and charming, can't love to spend time and do things with someone she isn't copulating with? That argues that the freedom to have sex for pleasure mandates you must or you are somehow an aberration. And, even if that's the prevailing attitude, I think "majority rules" should have no bearing on what an individual wants to do with his or her body. Talk about the opposite of romance!

(What if your partner is parapalegic or otherwise physically incapable? Going to toss him/her to the scrap heap? Very "passionate!" Great love story!)

Now, don't get me wrong. I love sex. I also, however, see it inextricably linked to love. For me. I don't tell anyone else what motivation they have to have, but that's my motivation. I've had two sexual partners (total) who were also my two husbands. That's not a coincidence. I don't regret having sex with either (even the psycho) and I don't regret NOT having sex with all those people I chose not to have sex with. Someday, I'd like to have sex again, but I'd only be interested with someone I cared deeply about, someone who cared about me. For me, if someone told me they'd drop me if I didn't put out, I'd wave goodbye with a smile. I'm worth more than that. 

Here's the thing, guys (and girls), when people talk about removing the rape culture, we don't just mean brute force, we mean coercing girls into thinking they have to have sex to be loved. Girls (or guys, for that matter) pushed into sex before they're ready or for the wrong reasons often live with a crushed sense of self-worth every bit as painful as a rape victim's. And we need to stop pushing it if we want it to get better. 

I'm all for romance, real romance, where people learn to love each other and, when they're ready, when they both want it, finding love culminated in each others arms. 

But that's just my opinion (repeatedly documented in my own books, I might add). I'm open to hearing what you think. Feel free to chime in.


Decision Time

>> Saturday, September 6, 2014

The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world's problem.
                        -Mahatma Gandhi

I won't say I've never dabbled in politics on this blog. It's my blog. It's a reflection of what's important to me, and, sometimes, that's politics. Not ashamed of it. However, I've mostly (and will likely continue) to advise people to walk the walk they want to see others take, to be the kind of person they'd like the world to be filled with.

My position has always been that if people want peace and tolerance, want to keep the right to decide their own faiths, fates, companions and families, they need to be the people who respect those rights for others. If people want to be respected as individuals and human beings, they need to extend that respect to other human beings of every color, nationality, gender, age, sexual orientation, profession, and religion. If you want war and discrimination, well, I don't know what to say to you. Chances are you aren't reading this blog under those circumstances and you're likely of a subset of human beings already disproportionately favored. I don't have much sympathy for you if you end up burnt by those preferences (as frequently happens in the long run), but I digress.

Although my first step in making the world better is to be a better person, there are sometimes times when we can do more than that. Where we need to do more than that. In some parts of the world, sometimes there are no options other than violence or at least protest. Sometimes risking your life to help others.

Fortunately, here in America (and many other parts of the world) we have another method: Voting. And the time for us to be voting is coming up quickly. 

Now, it's not exactly a news flash that most of the US populace is pretty darn disgusted with the current leadership in Washington, either with the individuals themselves or in the inability of the people we do like in Washington to get things done. Many of us express our disgust, then shrug and say, "There's nothing we can do about it." And that, my friends, is where you're wrong. Because, though our disappointing Supreme Court of the US seems to think it's perfectly reasonable for corporations to funnel untold fortunes into elections, we the people still do the deciding. They cannot buy our votes - they can only use their money to try to sway us.

We can swallow the blasts of contrasting mud-slinging, the sensationalist media, the name calling and finger pointing, frequently paid for by people who are only concerned for their bottom line (rather than the good of the country) - and thereby ensure the politicians who will sacrifice their constituents for the good of their sponsors stay in power - or we can do our own research, ask our own questions, and vote our own consciences. Which, if everyone did that, would render those billions in screaming ads and fundraising efforts completely moot.

Think everyone in the area you live with feels differently than you do so your vote is a complete waste? It will be if you don't vote. Too often, a tiny subset of the voting public makes the decisions the rest of us have to live with. You want that to change? Get out and vote, have your friends get out and vote, have your neighbors get out and vote. Even if you don't get the result you wanted, at least everyone will be making that decision, not just a noisy minority by default.

And that's what I urge you to do.

How do I vote?

First, make sure you're eligible to vote. If you haven't tried in a while, you can check if you're registered here: Can I Vote?

On that site, you can see if you're registered or get registered, find your polling places, the ID requirements and also the opportunities for absentee and early voting for your locale. It's brilliant. It's useful, so make use of it. 

What should I be looking for in deciding who to vote for (Issues)

Once you know how to vote where you are, prepare to vote intelligently. What do I mean by that?

Ask yourself three questions: 

What's best for me?
What's best for my country?
On a number of issues, what's the right thing to do?

In some cases, answers will vary on those three questions. In those cases, I urge you to give greater weight to the right thing to do (which, if it isn't the same answer as what's best for my country, might mean you want to rethink things. If you think the good of the country requires us to do things that aren't the right thing to do, something is probably off).

One other things you must do is evaluate what's important to you, what issues mean something to you that you think are important for your country and yourself. This is another place where you need to be particularly aware to consider this intelligently - if you're motivated by anger, hatred, greed, fear or other strong emotions, I urge you to stop, calm down, think it through. There are plenty of things to hate in the world, to fear in the world, but it's in the interest of those that run elections and the media to stir them up and manipulate us with hatred/fear/anger. If you're angry or fearful, look at it as objectively as you can. You're spun up, admittedly, but is that really the most pressing issue? Is hatred or fear of some group or situation more important than other issues facing us? Is that how you want to use your precious vote? If not, leaven your priorities accordingly.

I won't tell you what to vote - everyone should decide for themselves - but I urge you to vote with your minds and hearts unclouded by drummed-up hatred and fear. Know what you believe in and why. If the reason is you hate some subgroup of people, rethink it. We're all Americans and should be looking out for each other and be humane to everyone else. Hatred keeps America from working together right now.

Here are some important issues right now (Not complete and in no particular order - just how they came to me. Feel free to add your own)

Minimum Wage
Social Services (including health care, welfare, disability, unemployment, social security, etc)
Business regulation/bank regulation
Environment and Global Climate Change
Energy Policies including Renewable energy
Equal rights for women (Pay, respect and reproductive rights)
LGBT  and  Gay Marriage Rights
Foreign Policy (which has multiple facets)
Taxation (corporate and otherwise)
Outsourcing overseas and imports
Pollution and regulation
Gun regulation
Crime and punishment
Government Accountability
Big money/lobbying and effects on elected officials
Student loans
Religious freedom (freedom to believe as you choose or free from having to believe)
Addressing disparity between highest and lowest incomes.
Decriminalization of drug possession/legalization of marijuana

Some issues will be bigger ticket items than others in your mind. Prioritze them accordingly. Some might not matter to you at all, but, once you know what matters to you and what you want to happen, you can start looking at the candidates who seem most likely to pursue those issues that matter to you in a way that you can support.

Find out objective information on candidates

I wouldn't count on the mainstream media to provide objective information and partisan sites are even less useful (no matter which party you favor). I strongly recommend getting as objective information as you can and recommend: VoteSmart 

VoteSmart seems to have fairly extensive information on national, state and local candidates form all over the country, including their voting records, their stances on key issues, endorsements and history. It's a nice place to check out your issue list vs. what the candidates say they support and, more importantly (where available) what they actually voted for. Anyone can say, for instance, that they support women's rights, but if they voted against it time and time again, you ought to be skeptical. Find out what they voted for, what they believe in, (if they're incumbent or previously have held office) what they've actually done in the past.

I also urge you to explore state and local non-partison sites if you can to augment/compare/verify what you hear from any single source, including Votesmart. I also urge you, if there's a candidate you favor, that you look for press releases, speeches and other information on that candidate, go for what they've actually said and done if you can. If your candidate, when you hear him/her speak, is obviously a dumbass, inconsistent, pandering, or condescending, you might want to keep looking. Maybe there's a better fit.

You may not get what you want. But you can make a vote for the best possible candidate to fit your needs. If we take elections back and choose politicians that serve our purposes, rather than some nameless sponsor elsewhere, we have a chance to make this country back into what it was intended to be. For and by the people.

Last note

Once the elections are over and the dust has settled, it is still incumbent upon us to stay informed on what our representatives do in our name, and that we tell them what we want them to do on our behalf. We must remain diligent or we'll be as powerless in the future as so many of us feel today



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