Dems Need to Drop the Double Standard

>> Monday, March 27, 2017

Yeah, yeah, it's late. Take it up with management.

So, wait, you may be thinking, weren't you just talking about double standards last blog post. (If you think I was nagging, go back and read it again. It clearly didn't sink in). Yes and no. Obviously the double standard that comes with misogyny is a big part of what helped put Trump in the White House.

But that's only part of the problem.

Dems/liberals/progressives have a serious problem. Not just that much of the country, whether we like it or not, is apparently hateful, ignorant or both--though that's pretty frustrating. No, we're also our own worst enemy.

Despite the abysmal failure of Republican policies when implemented, despite the historical failure of Republican policies, particularly economically, despite the overt cruelty inherent in many of the Republican policies and their fingerprints on several of the huge problems Obama inherited that people hated, they've managed to win a large foothold in local, state, and federal governments while they've been failing. That's absolutely mind-boggling to a thinking person as myself, especially with the heinous results seen to date. And then they get more power. How is that possible?

Propaganda is part of it, but there's something else that's key. When Republicans have a candidate, even one that tips their scales in sleaze, corruption or stupidity, they will still get plenty of support if they agree with one of several "pet" positions that have next to nothing to do with actually doing a decent job: abortion, gun regulation, gay rights. Those supporters don't expect perfection or even a modicum of humanity, which might explain the slippery slope of buffoon/psychopath/freaking criminal their candidates have taken over the years until we have the morass of incompetent cruelty we have now. That's insane.

But, no matter how we pretend it was all them, part of it was us, because liberals, too often, are the opposite of conservatives in terms of how we vote. We can agree with almost everything someone stands for, but one vote we don't like, one position we don't agree with, one decision that didn't pan out, and we turn our backs on our own candidates.

Think I'm talking about Hillary? Well, she fits, too, but it's much bigger than that.

Let's talk about Obama, handed two horrific failures of wars, (and the terrorist organizations growing as a result), the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and a concerted campaign aided and abetted by MSM to treat him like the anti-Christ. In amazingly short order, the worst of his crises had begun to reverse themselves and he managed to pull off as close to universal healthcare as our Congress would let him. He is not only intelligent, thoughtful, level-headed, strategic, and compassionate, as well as a hard worker (all key components for someone in his position), he is an expert in the Constitution, articulate, a great speaker, handsome, and an unabashedly devoted family man. Babies love him to an unprecedented level.

How did we reward this amazing man who took us from very maw of extreme failure and even gave us some key accomplishments? We freaking elected a red Congress. So, the many other accomplishments of his Presidency: gay marriage, drastically reducing our dependence on foreign oil, drastically increasing our efforts into green energy, putting some backbone into environmental regulations, imposing restrictions on banking to help preclude another collapse, Iran peace deal, Environmental accord, mending some very broken fences with allies around the world, even (gasp!) the TPP to help keep China from undercutting our future (but, hey, brainiacs, congrats on ruining that. Guess y'all want to be fry cooks) all had to be done without support. And, thanks to a grateful nation making his Congress increasingly red so that he couldn't even fill a SCOTUS seat (as if that was reasonable), he did it all almost single-handedly.

He should be treated as a bloody miracle, at least by the left, especially given the level of vilification on the right. The treatment he received, not just by the extremist "conservative" (racist) media, but tacitly accepted and reinforced my main stream media, down-played his incredible strengths and magnified even the tiniest misstep as if it were malicious, corrupt, or inept. And much of the left totally bought into that. The longest streak of job growth in history was blown off. Not good enough. More people insured than ever before and people with preexisting conditions, completely excluded from health care options before, could now find coverage. Not good enough.

Even his strongest supporters felt they had to make caveats, "He's a great president if only..." Does that mean I agree with all his choices? Why should I? I don't agree with all of anyone's choices, not my ex-husband's, not my mother's, not my daughters'. We're individuals. That's how things get worked out among grownups, we use our differences and our bits of commonness to work for the common good. That's how real people get things done, whether it's a craft club, a family, or any other organization. Dissenters are not tossed out the window summarily. We don't have to agree with everything. We're people.

Folks, that's what will keep us from being successful. Good men, good women will suddenly face a huge wave of truly amazing hatred by their fellow liberals if they don't agree on every topic, if they use their actual experience, knowledge, or judgment to do things they think best and others don't agree. That is also insane.

It's not just the far right that insists on perfection in liberal politicians but still have the warm fuzzies for their own even if they turn out to be pedophiles. The left also insists on perfection and gives the same pass to the right by normalizing monsters to the same level as devoted and capable people.

People aren't perfect. They make mistakes and the smart ones learn from them. As long as we insist on someone who pretends to be perfect, we'll be split from those who notice the lack of perfection and therefore reject, and those who understand that wanting perfection is stupid (and doomed to disappointment). How about competence and integrity instead? Because the other side not only is willing to vote for the woefully incompetent, they're apparently willing to keep doing so in the hopes that eventually pans out.

Someone has got to be smarter than that. I'd like it to be the people who care about the future and many of the most vulnerable groups in this nation.


Stop Telling Me Hillary Gave Us Trump

>> Saturday, March 18, 2017

I've mostly stepped off the politics for a while, not just because the current administration not only makes me physically ill with their hateful callousness and cluelessness, not just because I feel helpless at this stage to do anything about it, but because I feel like this country literally kicked me in the gut with their choice for top executive, me and every capable, talented, hard-working, meticulous woman who has ever tried to meet every impossible standard and been deemed lacking while some know-nothing moron with the "right" plumbing took the job. Nor was it just a slap in the face for accomplished women everywhere (and, no, I don't think it's any better than many of the women slapped themselves) but also a direct attack on poor people, LGBT, Muslims, Jews, blacks, Latinos, immigrants in general (including those here legally) and disabled people. I felt like my own country, which I loved, had repudiated me, had repudiated all of us. I have never felt so betrayed.

So, if you intend to tell me to get over it, you're on the wrong page. I won't delete your comment, but I will make you wish you hadn't made it. You've been warned. 

However, as the real horror, the implications of having a hateful, self-serving, corrupt idiot in the most important job in the government tied with a Congress that has proven itself just as hateful, self-serving, and corrupt in the only position to provide a check to him letting him have a free hand, sinks in, even to the people who supported him (well some of them), the great finger-pointing mess has begun. Far too many folks, especially those who should know better, are rushing to point the finger at Hillary for not being good enough. 

Oh, no, that's not what happened. I've been the smart one in the room. I've been at the table where everyone agreed that my data was best and my conclusions were logical but, hey, we weren't going to do that anyway. I saw this election as a repudiation by my country of everything *I* am, not just Hillary. I watched her every step. She did everything right, and, had every step second-guessed by phalanxes of noisy pundits telling her (and more importantly us) what she ought to be doing - often insisting on completely opposite advice. And usually wanting her to do what someone else was doing and failing.

The supreme irony of blaming her is that the very same people who undercut her, refused to explain her many many strengths, in fact deliberately kept them hidden, are the same folks whining that she didn't do enough. So, not only for every Trump voter, but for every voter who stayed home, every idget who piously threw their votes away on equally know-nothing but possibly less hateful third party candidates, to every newspaper and, especially, news show who peed yourselves in glee to go on endlessly about Hillary's every perceived imperfection while ignoring Trump's total dishonesty, greed and deviancy and equally ignoring Hillary's impressive resume of real verifiable accomplishments and detailed plans to do more, but also those folks, even if you voted for Hillary, who couldn't keep yourself from making a dig at her at every opportunity, let me just say:

Fuck you.

I mean, I could say it more kindly and cleverly and try to cut you down with logic and reason, but, y'know, you weren't listening before the election. I don't expect it would make an impression on you now.

You might think that's too harsh, but I don't think it's harsh enough considering the pain you'll be inflicting on the most vulnerable in this country. The children whose educations you've destroyed. The old people you'll be starving. The sick people you've left to die unnecessarily. The environment you've murdered irretrievably in the forlorn and dangerous hope that your son can also become a coal miner. Every black man who knows no one will be standing up for his rights when he gets hurt. Every little girl in the country who just learned, firsthand, that no matter what she does, how accomplished she becomes, how intelligent she is, how perfectly she dots every i or crosses every t, she'll be passed over to suit the whims of the total and unabashed asshole with no accomplishments, skills or human decency. Every Muslim child who is treated like a monster.  Every Jew who sees his synagogue defaced or left burning. Every immigrant child or child with a Latino name who is treated like a criminal. Every gay teen left beaten and battered because the hateful feel vindicated in their hatred.

You have used your freedom to potentially destroy these peoples' dreams and possibly their lives. Yeah, you'll suffer, too, but that's not quite enough for justice.Your choice; your responsibility. That's the real price of freedom.

But one thing I won't stand for is you pretending Hillary was the problem when this nightmare is one you brought on yourselves. You media being belittled and squashed. You poor people finding out your only lifelines are being eliminated because you had to vote with your worst instincts. The GOP and the media have spent twenty-five years vilifying a woman who has done more good than most people in the world. This is all on you.

And spare me how she could have handled it better, that she lost "bigly".

Just the notion is absurd, and I noticed this in 2008, when Hillary had nearly as many votes as President Obama in the primary. For months--years--all I could hear was how she totally flubbed it.

No one says that about Sanders this race, even though he lost by a relative mile. No one said it about Romney or McCain (well, except noting his VP choice) when they lost to Obama - how they totally flubbed it, even though they both lost, er, bigly.

But when Hillary loses, even if it's spurious, even if she does so well she's a hair breadth's away, it's all about how she totally failed, flubbed it, screwed up. Even during the most winningest moments in the campaign, primary and general, every article about her went into a long litany of what was wrong with her and why people hated her.

Didn't seem to occur to anyone that constantly being told how hated she was might have been an eensy teensy factor.

To be frank, given the constant bombardment of bad press, backhanded compliments, even pro-pieces, filled with caveats and subtle digs, it's probably more amazing how she continually did so well, connected, without fanfare, to so many millions of people while everyone was busy not noticing. Amazing. But, since we insisted on perfection for women, still not good enough.

That's how I see it. I am not alone in this thinking. There are a few other voices in the wilderness who get it, like here and here.

So, why is this important? Why harp on it? Because if we don't recognize the real criminals in this, the real reason why this country will be brought to the brink of ruin (if not tipped over), we can never do better. It wasn't Hillary. It's us. Trump is the president this country deserves. We deserved him because we refused to educate ourselves and let our blind hatred do our talking for us. Don't give me your sob story about how Hillary should have wooed you specifically or how disheartened you are that immigrants are taking your jobs (they're not). You brought this on yourselves and, if you want this country to be the great country it could be, you're going to have to take a look in the mirror and change your ways.

Trump won, at least in part because his hatefulness resonated with a large part of the populace. Partly because he's cultivated a persona of being smart and wealthy, no matter how belied by facts, and partly because the folks in this country, including plenty of women, are willing to believe the worst of a woman and the best of a man, no matter the evidence. I wish that wasn't so, but it clearly is.

If we survive this, it will be because we learned something. Because, if we don't, we don't deserve to survive.


Reality Can Trump Fiction...

>> Saturday, March 11, 2017

And nowhere I know of is that more true than in biology. Folks, there's some freakish stuff out there.

Some years ago, early in my blogging days, a fellow blogging nerd (that was the name of her blog: Observations of a Nerd) posted a series called "This Week's Sci-Fi Worthy Parasite." She was/is a marine biologist and moved on, but the blog is still in place with all it's glories intact.

Yeah, sure, you can get nightmares watching zombie movies or reading about real serial killers (I can recommend a good book but I know I can't read but a few pages at a time: Hunting Humans: An Encyclopedia of Modern Serial Killers), but, if you REALLY want to never sleep again and curl up with your eyelids held open with toothpicks and a can of Raid in either hand, check out her blog.

Included in her honest-to-God real world of actual nasties are:
  • flies that turn ants into zombies before decapitating them (Phorid Flies) - these are actually under consideration for fire ant control.
  • Parasitic wasps which not only eat catapillars and maggots from the inside out, but coat their eggs with a virus to disable the host's immune system and castrate it. Before the caterpillar finishes up, he'll spin a cocoon to protect his invaders and even defend them 'til they finally take him down. There's a spider killer that makes the spider build it a nice platform for the cocoon. (she really likes the parasitic wasps)
  • Lice (not talking about it or I'll start to itch)
  • Human botfly where mosquitoes deliver a human flesh-eating parasite (there are videos)
  • Schistosomiasis where bunches of burrowing parasites travel through our blood systems and infest our liver, copulating and generally having a blood bender at our expense.

  • The brain-eating amoeba Naegleria Fowleri (shown up in a couple of medical shows but the transmission method and survivability was whacked) - this is ameobic meningitis and it takes no prisoners because it tells your brain it belongs there and your brain goes, "never mind then" until it's too late. I wanted to infect a character with this and let him survive, but my husband absolutely put his foot down. No amoebas were going to eat his favorite character's brain. They are bad to the bone, though.
  • The loa loa worm, aka the African eye worm. Do I have to explain?
  • Cookie cutter sharks that literally take a divot of flesh from the unsuspecting
  • Hairworm - using zombie control again, this time on grasshoppers its eaten from the inside
  • The Mountain Acon Blue Butterfly which convinces red ants to drop everything and feed it like a queen using her forms of chemical and aural communication.
  • Pearlfish that literally make their homes in the anuses of sea cucumbers and starfish (and, some of them chow down on their hosts while they're there. No need to go out for dinner. We'll eat in.)
  • A parasite that "kills" a fish's tongue and then takes it's place, acting like a normal tongue and keeping the fish alive for further feeding.

  • The human (and other flesh) eating screwworm, basically maggots that favor living flesh, or at least until they're through with it. (Yuck)
  • The toothpick fish which is attracted to ammonia products and attach itself via spines to dig it's way in until it reaches a blood vessel. That's some pretty painful digging whether your its intended prey (fish) or a human. 
Really, you could read for hours. I'm having to stop myself .

Now, I've mentioned them before, but, here's the good part, trying to find them again allowed me to stumble over another collection of biological oddities: Absurd Creature of the Week on Wired. Jackpot! Not just parasites (though those, too) but all kinds of odd critters. You don't even have to be a writer to have a good time.

Actually, both the blog and the column on Wired are very entertaining reading in addition to being educational. And, on that note, I'll leave you with this video.

You're welcome.


Rocket Scientist is going to be revived!

>> Sunday, March 5, 2017

First, some blog news for a change.  For those of you hardy souls who still check back or follow or haven't entirely given up on it, good news, I'm still alive and I'm going to start updating it more regularly. I like talking about this, that and the other. Lord knows I'm opinionated enough. No reason I can't share it here on my blog where someone might actually want to read it. (I've always been a dreamer).

There will be some science stuff. Some politics (stop groaning; it's not like I elected him!). Some general philosophy. Whatever, really, just like it's always been and hopefully no less entertaining.

Still will make note of new releases as they happen, but it will not longer be the focus. I won't be posting daily--got three blogs and a girl's gotta sleep--but I'll try to post something at least weekly.

For those who are still deeply interested in the writing itself, but don't like checking back on blogs and stuff, I'm starting a monthly newsletter. You can sign up on the right.

You'll get notifications of new releases and the single monthly newsletter and that's IT, but only to people who signed up, who actually want to know all that.

The newsletter will include some insight into my writing, why I love it, what I think about it and what I like or don't like, a handy reference for all my existing books and news about forthcoming events, and an original short story so my "fans" can get a first look on my stories. I want it to be fun and hope it will be because, though I hate "marketing" I love interacting with people and sharing things I hope they'll like.

If you're one of the people interested, sign up. I will not be using your email for any other purpose.

First Newsletter will go on next Friday, March 10.


Saving Tessa: Now it's Science Fiction!

>> Thursday, February 9, 2017

I have reworked Saving Tessa to be a science fiction YA adventure (though it was close to that already).

In the year 2045, smart tech is everywhere, much of it devised by the teenage prodigy Dylan Chroz. But being at the top of the technical world means being in demand. Sometimes, by people who should be looking out for you. Sometimes, by people who won't take no for an answer.

Tessa alone makes Dylan's life more than schematics and computers, a spot of vibrant color and irrepressible life in a dreary world of users and frauds. 

So what do you do when someone steals your girl to make you perform your technical wizardry on their sketchy hardware? Do you curl up and cry? Do what they want? Defy them? Or do you outsmart them and do your damnedest to smoke out every one of them so they never can do this again?

That is, if Tessa doesn't beat you to it.
Also, as with Curse of the Jenri, I'm going to make it available in book form. Proof is on it's way to me now and I'll announce it when it's available. Eventually, I'll do this with all my books, but I'm excited about this one because I have a character frighteningly like me there.

Thanks for the gorgeous cover by Ryn Katryn.



One of the things I did with this story when I moved it to 2045 is work on a post-Trumpian recovery. I found it therapeutic.


Curse of the Jenri is OUT!

>> Saturday, February 4, 2017

Curse of the Jenri is now OUT, out in ebook and, for the first time, I'm going to be putting it out in print as well. I got the proof, my first ever, today! I'm so excited (so no print now but soon; I'll keep you posted). You can find it on amazon and smashwords and it should soon be available at Barnes and Nobles, Kobo and the iStore. Links for Amazon and Smashwords are available now


Finally, a Sword & Sorcery epic like it ought to be: manly hero who swings a massive sword and stumbles into spells, lovely wife who can kick his ass, a fleet of fiery and fierce compatriots, dastardly villains with vile intents, even griffons, all that and a dragonet. Oh, and six kittens. Because every manly man needs kittens, right?


Or, alternatively,

The world of the Jenri is a dangerous, primitive world, where women are prized as chattel, but the Jenri women, every one from the eldest archivist to the smallest babe, strike fear into battle-hardened mercenary hearts. It is a world where battle steeds are mythical beasts and magic is as deadly a weapon as a sword. Those who wield both are doubly dangerous and those who cross them are thrice damned. The Jenri are mistresses of all these things. If you love one of these marvelous women, you must best her in a contest of her choosing to win her love in return.

These were women who needed no one to take care of them. Until now.

It wasn’t enough that Jenri women had been stolen, including his wife, Layla It wasn't enough that those who had stolen them had nefarious plans. And phenomenal magic powers. And could escape in seconds. And an underground fortress in the midst of frozen mountains so cold Tander was afraid he’d shatter if he stumbled one more time. It wasn’t enough that he was surrounded by angry husbands worried about their wives and willing to take their tempers out on him if he was leading them in the wrong direction. It wasn’t enough that he was also surrounded by the remaining women from his tribe who were equally angry and more than capable of kicking his butt.

No, on top of all those little issues, he discovered he's no longer “just” an extraordinary swordsman, but also a great and powerful sorcerer with absolutely no idea how to use his powers. He was not just any sorcerer, either, but one chosen by six tiny kitten familiars who did know how to use his powers and who had no problem telling him. All the time. While they demanded to be carried all over his person, purring and taking inopportune naps. He didn’t want these powers or a flock of noisy but helpful kittens, but he was going to need them. He'd need all the skills and talents he and his companions possess in order to save their women—and Layla.

But we love you, Tander! Solace insisted, purring and licking his neck.

Things have got to get better soon.


Nightmare Blanket - How I feel after this last election

>> Thursday, December 8, 2016

I revamped my short story anthology (sold some stories I had in it so needed new ones). Here's one of them. I'm sure many other folks who fought on the right side of things feel similarly. Will post new links when I'm sure they're all updated.

Nightmare Blanket

Chain, chain, chain, chain, chain, double stitch, double stitch. The slim worn needle worked, in and out, grab and pull, weaving a web of delicate pink yarn as soft as silk and as dainty as lace. The fingers were gnarled, no strangers to arthritis, the skin dark and the touch sure. In and out, grab and pull, chain, chain and turn. 

She bent over on her rocking chair, neck aching, feet and fingers chilled despite the space heater. The wind howled and shook her window, and her lamp shuddered, but her fingers never stopped moving. In and out, grab and pull, stitch, stitch, stitch.

She was tired—so tired—but the baby went home early and they needed her blanket by tomorrow. Stitch, stitch, stitch. Marnie always used the softest yarn, acrylic with a pearly sheen, though the girl would never see its cheery color, would never feel the softness. The style was beautiful but quick to make, useless for keeping warm, but that baby would never be warm again, lost too young to leukemia.

In truth, the blanket wasn't for her, but for the parents who would have to bury her, a nightmare talisman to soothe their sleep, not hers.  

Stitch, stitch stitch. 

It wasn't enough. It was never enough. But that was who Marnie was. She couldn't fix everything.
But she would do what she could. 

Stitch, stitch, stitch. 

How she might have laughed when she was younger to see herself now. Marnie had always been a woman of passion, who wasn't going to settle for what the world offered. Passion that got her into college and through it when that was still unusual for a woman, especially for a woman of color. Passion that had tied her to a "bad boy" before she realized what that really meant: not necessarily just a rebel, but someone who could be lost to drink, to drugs, who'd lash out at his woman and then beg her for forgiveness. Which she gave him, in her passion, until he'd turned his malice on their daughter. 

That's when Marnie let her passion send him on his way, once and for all. Nothing was stronger than her love for Sue, the tiny girl with the poofy pigtails and enormous brown eyes.
Stitch, stitch, stitch. 

So Marnie marched for women, because her daughter deserved a better future than Marnie had had, deserved all the chances that anyone else deserved. She marched for black's rights, and worker's rights, for gay rights. Whatever her daughter would be, Marnie wanted her to have every choice, every opportunity, every possible future. Sue was Marnie's future and she deserved it all.
Progress was slow. Even joined with thousands of other voices, one voice was hard to hear and change was slow in coming. But Marnie tried. Didn't let that stop her. 

She would do what she could.

Stitch, stitch, stitch. 

The first blanket had been for Sue, too. Marnie had dusted off the skill her own grandmother had taught her when Sue had had nightmares not long after the attack by her own father, had cried out in the night, and shivered herself awake. So tiny, so sweet, so quiet, Sue never complained but Marnie wept for her and made her a blanket in pink and purple. Told her it was a blanket to keep nightmares away, and Sue believed it, curled under it, and slept in peace.
Stitch, stitch, stitch. 

Over the years, Marnie made many blankets for Sue. Sue became larger, grew, tall and slim as a reed, her smile shy but so beautiful, those dark eyes alight with sweetness. And the blankets kept the nightmares away, new ones crocheted in larger sizes Sue could tuck herself in under, head to toe, and sleep soundly. 

Stitch, stitch, stitch, turn. 

The nightmare hadn't come at night. He stormed into the school in a cloud of wrath and sense of entitlement that made him think his rage was justification enough to destroy others, an insanity that let him choose the most vulnerable as his targets. He walked into an elementary school, an agent of death and pain, and spared no one before they hauled him off in cuffs. And left those who had lost their most precious to pick up the pieces, rebuild what lives they could when what they loved most was shattered and stolen and lost. Marnie had felt dead inside, had stroked that precious tiny hand, now cold, and smoothed the last nightmare blanket she had made for Sue in a coffin Marnie had never hoped to see. 

And had buried her future and her dreams with her daughter while the skies wept as fruitlessly as Marnie did herself. 

Stitch, stitch, stitch. 

Marnie marched for better gun laws then, for the safety for other people's children, for a better future she had no part in any more. She canvassed and made calls. Perhaps she made no more difference than she did marching before. 

But she did what she could. 

Stitch, stitch, stitch.

Decades had past. Marnie didn't march any more. Her hip never healed right after she'd jumped the barrier in the courtroom, trying to get at the man that killed her daughter. She didn't call much any more, or fight, or protest. She never knew if it had made a difference anyway, though she was still proud she had tried. 

Stitch, stitch, and tie. 

She fluffed out the blanket, completed. Tragic in its smallness, in what it represented, the last decoration to another life snuffed too early, another future unfulfilled. She shed tears, as she had shed countless tears before and would countless tears still to come. Her knobby fingers smoothed the blanket and found some solace in its beauty and the care of its construction, in its sheen and softness. She hoped the girl's parents would as well. She folded it neatly and pulled a different color yarn from her bag, blue this time, and began a new line of chain stitches. 

She couldn't do everything. 

But she would do what she could.



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