17 Aug

Many Sides of Violence

There’s this thing people have about violence, people who say violence is never the answer. They say it with such conviction, and yet, it’s so clearly not really right. I admit it would be fantastic if we lived in a society where violence or its threat would never be needed. That would be great. The Wild West would have been totally different in that world. World War II would never have been necessary. A lot of Native American families would still be in existence if we lived in that world.

Another thing that would be great about living in that world is that you would never have to make any hard calls on the ethics of cause and effect. Knowing who was “at fault” in any interaction would be totally simple. I mean, if you came into a room to find your kids tussling, and both of them were whining that the other kid started it, you would just look for the one with the bloody nose and know the other one was responsible.

Unfortunately, we don’t live in that world.

We live in a world where events slide into each other over long distances of time, where those collisions create a huge ocean of cause and effect, and where violence can and often does settles things—at least for a while. Of course, that violence doesn’t always wind up working the way you think it will when you use it. Martin Luther King’s approach with the Children’s Crusade in Birmingham, for example, found ways to use an opponent’s violence to expose fault in Bull Connor’s position. In Dr. King’s case, he lost the days—Connor and his cops turned the hoses and dogs on the protestors, and arrested thousands. But the violence King’s plans incited resulted in change. In the end, the Bull Connor started the violence,” but MLK and his council started the conflict…except, of course, the plan was a reaction to the violence made over years of the US not actually living up to its Constitution and to people like Bull Conner being in charge, so Bull Connor started it…or you can follow the chain of events back as far as you want.

In the end, though, non-violent tactic or not, the Dr. King’s Crusaders were on the “right” side even if you want to blame him for creating the violence he triggered in Connor. It’s all very complex, you see? Violence is not where things begin.

At the end of the day, though the use of non-violence is helpful in these moments, though, because it makes it much easier to see who was in the wrong and who was in the right.

But Dr. King’s approach was not the only approach on the table. There were violent people on his side, too—call them Malcom X followers for simple white-guy shorthand (I am, of course, a simple white guy, so this works for me). They were people were ready to claim their rights “by any means necessary,” and whose presence scared the average citizen. Their approach was less successful in getting the result they wanted, and it drew unwanted attention from law enforcement, especially since law enforcement was the direct representative of a government that was, to them, the oppressor. But they wanted the same thing that Dr. King wanted. Their approach was different, but they were incited by the same oppressors and had the same goals. Both of them were on the “right” side of a hundred year old argument. One approach defended himself, the other did not, but both were on the right side of the fundamental argument that was going on across the nation at that time.

While Dr. King’s non-violent approach was more effective in driving change in the 1960s, I don’t blame “the violent left” for lashing out while being on the receiving end of a systemic history of aggression that set everything on a hairline trigger, and then became incited by whatever single fateful moment happens. There is no carte blanche, of course, every situation has to be looked at properly. But violence against power that’s there to dehumanize has an inner logic to it that I can “support” in the right times. I understand that violence. Just as I understand the violence, or at least the preparation for such, of groups who rise up to meet members of the Ku Klux Klan and other Heil-Trumping Nazis who were advocating ethnic cleansing of the country this past weekend.

I wish that such preparation wasn’t so necessary. Of course I do.

I wish that the demonstrators who came “to protect the Robert E. Lee” monument had actually gathered peacefully and chanted “Save Robert E. Lee!” rather than carrying torches and chanting “Blood and Soil!” and “White Lives Matter!” and “Jews Will Not Replace Us!” I wish they had not driven home their KKK ideology and had not flown the flag and used the words of a race-based ideology that exterminated 6 million people of Jewish descent and started a six-year World War that took millions and millions of soldiers and civilian lives and affected nearly every person on the planet. That would have been great. I wish these protesters did not actually believe that only white people deserved to be in this country and that their group’s openly stated purpose wasn’t to aggressively reclaim the country for the white male. I wish they had not brought a militia. I wish they had actually gone to Charlottesville and been orderly, and they would have gathered around the monument and had their speeches and chanted “Robert E. Lee is the Guy for Me!” or whatever.

Alas, that was not to be. Nary a “Save Lee” chant is to be heard on any tape I’ve seen or is included in any conversation from a KKK/White Nationalist I’ve seen or heard any comment about the monument. Go figure.

And I wish it weren’t predictable that a Nazi would kill someone. I wish that leaders and planners of the event hadn’t expected people would be killed and that they weren’t fine with that. I wish that the history of these Alt-Right demonstrations did not have a very long trail of bloodshed. I wish the organizers of the event would express immediate sorrow and remorse for the loss of a life, and the injuring of so many others.

Yes, I wish all of that.

And I wish that all sane people—white, black, white, right, white, left, Asian, moderate, white, agnostic, white, Christian, black, Jewish, white, Hindu, and what-the-hell-ever—would immediately side against this collective ideology that is foreign to American views of equality for all, banding together to say “we’re not falling for your free speech crap…we may not know or agree on much, but we know evil when we see it and we’ve got family buried in France and Germany and all across the Pacific because of you assholes…” I wish this would happen because there is this higher good that needs to be maintained in this country, and because if that aggressive alignment of all American people of all types were to happen there would be a much smaller chance of counter-violence from an anti-protest group to ever be necessary.

But that’s not the world we live in.

We live in world where when real fascists rise up—I mean, real live flag-carrying, “Blood and Soil,” “Get out of my country, we are the master race,” Nazis—it is fair that people defending the ideas of equality for all are allowed to, and be expected to, come to a counter-protest prepared to defend themselves.

We live in a world where “Blood and Soil” in the form it was used is not the free speech of ideological sharing. In our world, “Blood and Soil” chanted as it was is a threat. Last I saw no one was arresting a KKK folks for saying anything, anyway, so this isn’t about free speech. in this situation, the reaction to “Jews Will Not Replace Us,” was not about free speech. In this situation, this kind of behavior is about intimidation, and that is what the reaction is about. The open display of the expectation of the use of force is group bullying at its worst. The alternative for the counter-protester in these situations is to suffer the fate of Martin Luther King’s people, to take your beating as a defenseless person, or allow yourself to be run over by a car. That kind of response takes an amazing amount of fortitude and courage that should be honored and admired when it exists, but never required in order to prove one’s fundamental position is correct.

So, of course whenever Nazis demonstrate there will be people on the counter-protest side who are ready for violence. Violence is not preferred. It is not acceptable as a first reaction. But violence will always be on the table as a tool against this kind of overt display of intimidation. This game started decades ago, after all. Therefore, violence should always be expected from these confrontations. It was almost guaranteed to happen, and in my opinion it was guaranteed to happen somewhere from the minute Donald Trump won the election. The only question was where.

Given this guarantee, trying to figure out who threw the first punch is missing the forest for the trees. It doesn’t matter. In this situation, in this fight, the first punches were thrown a lot of years ago, so trying to decide who is at fault based on the existence of violence is a false shell game.

In other words, I don’t need to see whose nose is bleeding in this situation to know that Nazis are wrong.

There is no wiggle room when it comes to Nazi/KKK/Alt-Right demonstrations. If a Nazi group wants to protest the removal of a monument, fine. If they want to chant “I loved Robert E. Lee,” great. But the moment “Blood and Soil” gets spun up and the Nazi regalia gets to flying, the game changes and the leash gets really short. The Nazi/KKK/Alt-Right ideology is counter to the very idea of what America is.

If you stand in a group as they chant about ethnic cleansing, you are part of their group. You are also wrong, and not a “very fine person.”

If you defend Nazis in this situation, you are wrong.

If Nazis are chanting “Blood and Soil” and “Jews Will Not Replace Us!” and you say they might have a point somewhere in there, you are wrong.

Which brings me to the cartoon villain that is our duly elected president, a guy who is a mixture of Lex Luthor, Archie Bunker, and Heath Ledger’s Joker. He may not be a card-carrying Nazi, but he is the chief enabler, an obvious sympathizer, and an embarrassment to any society that considers itself civilized. Watching him operate on a daily basis is like splashing down in the middle of a Philip K. Dick novel written when the guy was on his “Full-Blown Drugged-Out Paranoia” mode.

Trump is wrong. He is the wrong person for this job. That fact has been evident for some time, but is now impossible to miss.

The only real questions that remain are how long congress will stand beside a Nazi sympathizer as he chants his “Many Sides” chant, or whether we will still have an America that we can recognize by the time it falls to the people and the ballot box to do what must be done.

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20 Jun

Last Day to Pick Up Moonscapes!

I posted a bit on Bundles as a whole a few moments ago, but for those who just want to read I didn’t want this to get lost in the high grass of indie-publishing neep. So I’m pullin gthis out on its own little rock!

Only a day and a half left!

buy-now2

Get the Moonscapes Bundle Before June 22 Or It’s Too Late!

The StoryBundle model works on high-profile packages that are available for only a short time. It also appeals to socially conscious folks because it lets readers choose to support great charities. Moonscapes, for example:

  • Includes Kevin Anderson, Kristine Kathryn Rucsh, Matt Buchman, and Dean Wesley Smith, all writers with a high public profile. It also has me, Maggie Jaimison, Lisa Silverthorne, Annie Reed, and Blaze Ward, all writers who have indie published audiences, and some like me with a foot in the traditional short story markets.
    Gives readers the ability to control their costs by selecting how much they are willing to pay for the bundle.
  • Opens a gate to fund AbleGamers.org, a fantastic charity that is helping disabled gamers be able to enjoy this highly important social activity with their families and friends.
  • And is only available for two more days—meaning if you want to pick up these 10 great books, you can’t wait much longer.

It’s a fantastic bundle, and as you can probably imagine given the quality of the bundle itself, has been doing quite well.

Did I mention you have only two more days to get it? [grin]


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20 Jun

Bundles

Let’s talk for a moment about one of the more interesting innovations that have come about in this digital age: specifically, bundles.

You know what I’m point at, right? These are gatherings of otherwise disparate books or stories into a single entity that the reader then picks up as a single entity. Given that indie publishers are the ones doing most of the innovation in the industry these days, they’re mostly from that group—small publishers with great books and who can move quickly.

Early Days: “The Boxed Set”

When they first started, these indie publishers didn’t even realize they were doing anything unique. We even called them “boxed sets.”

That’s how I thought of my first bundles—which are the way I gathered my Saga of the God-Touched Mage. That’s how it all started. Indie authors putting out segments of their series for broader consumption, and thereby enabling themselves to pass on savings to their avid readers by lowering the overall prices. (the pricing structure of the Saga for example, makes buying the whole package cheaper if you do it at once, and effectively provides me about the same revenue.

Then, Working Together, Bundles!

It didn’t take those folks who thought outside the box long before they were seeing new opportunities. Shared sets, right? Each of ten authors drop a book into a single package, one of them do all the production work, and Bam! You’ve got a totally new thing. Authors loved it because it exposed them to new readers. Readers loved it because it expose them to new authors, often on the super cheap. Ninety-nine books for $.99? Even if you don’t read ninety0seven of them, that’st a helliva deal!

This idea came with lots of administrative heartache on the backside, though. Somehow one of the publishers had to take the lead, push all the publishing buttons, and most importantly, handle money.

This is not a lot of fun.

Enter Service Providers

The obvious happened, of course. Seeing opportunity, bundling companies grew up almost overnight. Services like StoryBundle (where I have a novel in the current Moonscapes bundle), and BundleRabbit (where I have a work in the Beneath the Waves bundle). Both of these have been around for a couple y ears now (a long time in indie publishing time), and lots of interesting things are happening with them. I think it’s mostly due to the business models that each are innovating.

Let me look at both real quick-like.

Moonscapes:

The StoryBundle model works on high-profile packages that are available for only a short time. It also appeals to socially conscious folks because it lets readers choose to support great charities. Moonscapes, for example:

  • Includes Kevin Anderson, Kristine Kathryn Rucsh, Matt Buchman, and Dean Wesley Smith, all writers with a high public profile. It also has me, Maggie Jaimison, Lisa Silverthorne, Annie Reed, and Blaze Ward, all writers who have indie published audiences, and some like me with a foot in the traditional short story markets.
    Gives readers the ability to control their costs by selecting how much they are willing to pay for the bundle.
  • Opens a gate to fund AbleGamers.org, a fantastic charity that is helping disabled gamers be able to enjoy this highly important social activity with their families and friends.
  • And is only available for two more days—meaning if you want to pick up these 10 great books, you can’t wait much longer.

It’s a fantastic bundle, and as you can probably imagine given the quality of the bundle itself, has been doing quite well.

Did I mention you have only two more days to get it? [grin]


buy-now2
Get the Moonscapes Bundle Before June 22 Or It’s Too Late!


Beneath the Waves:

black-marker-beneath-waves

BundleRabbit has a similar dynamic regarding pricing. It also allows readers to support charities to the degree they want. But BundleRabbit has considerable differences in in the background in that (to me) it’s more of a curator’s marketplace than StoryBundle, allowing curators to gather stories and manage the production process. BundleRabbit is also considerably different in that it’s focused on the concept of the long-tail, meaning the bundles are available for long spans of time. Given this viewpoint, Bundle Rabbit has worked with distributors like Amazon and Kobo to make their bundles available through those paths. This gives their bundles a broader feel. It also gives curators a lot of room to innovate even further.

[open disclaimer here, in case it’s necessary. I know Chuck Heintzelman, BR’s proprietor, and we chat about stuff on occasion. I don’t think I’m doing anything to push folks one way or another here, but if you think so, there’s the root of whatever bias I might be showing!]

Beneath the Waves, for example, consists of 20 short stories. So in that sense, it’s a digital anthology. Since it’s going to be available for some time, the pricing has been set to be only $.99 until June 24. After that, the bundle will “jump” to $2.99. Both of these are great deals, of course (and you can always pay more if you want to support the authors, or a charity…which BundleRabbit also features). But BundleRabbit’s model provides this opportunity, whereas StoryBundle’s ticking clock model drives it’s sales pressure.

Did I mention, Beneath the Waves is $.99 for only the next few days?


buy-now2
Get the Beneath the Waves Bundle Before, Like the Tide, the Price Rises!


Yes, I thought I did. [grin again]

And This Isn’t The End

I think you’re going to see a lot of indie publishers working these bundles in a lot of different ways in the next year or two. Groups like The Uncollected Anthology (which I’ve been a part of in the past) are beginning to play with bundles in new ways. Dean Smith and Kris Rusch are putting on a week-long creative workshop on how to think about curating, creating, and marketing bundles—and I’m betting that workshop alone will create some kind of new idea that will change something in some fashion that no one can predict until it happens … at which point it will be obvious that twist was coming.

What you don’t see happening right now is bundling with Traditional Publishers. That’s the thing, you see? For a multitude of reasons, indies can move fast. Much faster than traditional publishers. Sure, traditional publishers will always do single-author “Boxed Sets.” And traditional publishing knows how to do fixed anthologies and collaborations. But the bundle world is an interesting twist, and I don’t think traditional publishers have figured out how to make money doing it.

Yet, anyway.

But there is money to make, and I’m expecting that sometime you’ll see traditional publishing figuring something out.

Of course, by then indies will be doing something else.

Because that’s how this works, you see?

If you’re paying very close attention, you’ll note that I have avoided using the term “writer” in this conversation. That’s because when I’m thinking about bundles, I’m doing my best to stop thinking like a writer. I’m trying to think like a publisher. The biggest problem I think a lot of writers have in this conversion, especially those who came up in the “old days” (and among those people I include me), is that the fact is that there is no such thing as an independent writer. Or, maybe the better way of saying this is that unless a writer is working directly for a company (*), that writer is, by definition, an independent. In that way, all writers are independent entities, and that has always been true.


(*) by “working for a company,” I do not mean you have a contract with DAW or TOR or whoever. If you enter a book contract as an independent writer, you are still an independent writer. You are, however, constrained to live by the contract you independently signed. If you sign an employment contract with one of those publishers, then you are no longer an independent writer. This may seem a bit pedantic at all, but to my mind is it not at all. All independent writers have the ability to sign away as much of their independence as they are willing to give a publisher, and sometimes, when they aren’t paying attention, a lot more.

The difference, though, is that writers who going it alone are now also working as independent publishers. And that’s totally different.

As I recently said to a friend: The great thing about publishing my longer work independently is that I get to make all the decisions. The bad thing about publishing my work independently is that I have to make all the decisions. [one big, final grin]

It helps, though, if you find these things fascinating. Which, of course, I do.

And in that light, bundles are an extremely interesting tool.

Aren’t they?

So, What are Bundles, really?

If nothing else, they’re giving readers more options and more ways to find writers. in a sense, they are mini-bookstores, right? I mean, think about it from the view of the old brick and mortar bookstore shopper. If you were like me, you went in, looked for authors you knew, grabbed a few of those, and then your eye would get caught by something different. By whatever random chance of book stacking and marketing gimmick, your eye would fall on something else that kind of looked like something you would like. You would glance at the cover, maybe read a few lines, and next thing you knew that book was being read.

Sounds a lot like what happens with a bundle, doesn’t it?

So, yeah. I like that.

What is a bundle?

Well, it’s a mini-book store. Or, if you prefer, it’s a portable shelf in a bookstore, filled edge to edge with stuff a specific reader wants to read.

Pretty cool.

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16 Jun

“The Black Marker at the End of Time” Published!

black-marker-beneath-waves

Looking for a good set of stories to while you’re sitting on the beach? You can’t really go wrong with Beneath the Waves, a short story bundle you can get a BundleRabbit and a whole bunch of other places I’ll link to below. Even better, the whole thing is on sale at $0.99 for the next week (then it will jump to $2.99, so move quick…he says donning his evil marketing hat!).

I can’t tell you how excited I am for this one. It’s got a bunch of my favorite writers in it, and it contains a completely original story “The Black Marker at the End of Time” I put together just for it. I love this story. It’s one that just kind of flowed as it flowed and when it was done I went “yes, that’s exactly it.” These things just don’t happen to me that often. Is it fantasy? Yes. Is it science fiction? Maybe. I don’t know. All I can say for sure is that I find it a wonderfully odd piece. I hope you’ll love it, too.

The bundle debuted in Amazon’s Top 100 short story collections, and was running at #33 last I checked.

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02 Jun

Algis Budrys, Starflight, and Moonscapes

Rogue_Moon_1960I was amused this morning in that interesting nostalgic way you can get sometimes, when I read Dean Wesley Smith’s blog post that attributed his interest in doing the Moonscapes bundle to his reading of Algis Budrys’ Rogue Moon. I definitely get it. I, too, read Rogue Moon. For its day it was amazing, and even as a throwback today it’s got that thing that great books have.

But that’s not why I was amused.

I was amused because thinking about Algis made my mind snap back to a morning over breakfast when Algis handed me back a manuscripts and said “Pretty good,” in that way of little words that he could get. We were at the Writers of the Future workshop. The manuscript he handed me was a short story titled “Stealing the Sun,” which I wrote there at the workshop as my 24-hour story and which eventually was published in Analog before going on to become the opening to Starflight. He had a comment or three that made the work better.

You’ll note that Starflight is proudly part of the Moonscapes bundle.

So, yes, in many ways it is a small world.

But, of course, this morning I’m also thinking about how big it is.


GET THE MOONSCAPES StoryBundle HERE!
(and support AbleGamers, too)

Moonscapes-All-Covers

Ten great books
Pay what you want
DRM Free
Support AbleGamers
Automatic delivery

What could possibly be better?

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01 Jun

Moonscapes Bundle Launches!

Here’s something incredibly cool: ten amazing SF books by ten of my favorite writers and people (well, nine of them, plus my own Starflight!). On top of that, an opportunity to support AbleGamers, a fantastic group that’s working to support disabled folks who want to game.

Moonscapes-All-Covers

 

GET THE BUNDLE HERE!!!

 

The books are great, of course.

As you might guess by the bundle’s theme, you’re going to find tons of spacey goodness in here. Even better for you, as with any StoryBundle offering, within some very generous constraints you get to choose how much you pay!

The main package includes:

  • Recovery Man is from USA Today bestselling author Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s highly popular Retrieval Artist series. The only downside here is that if you read one, you’ll be hit by an overwhelming desire to get the rest.
  • If you read Annie Reed’s In Dreams, my guess is that you’re going to have a new favorite author. She’s awesome.
  • Blaze Ward’s Auberon introduces you to a master of space opera. Don’t believe the 27 outstanding Amazon reviews? 400+ on Goodreads ought to do the trick.
  • Odds are, you know M.L. Buchman as a bestselling military romance writer. Here’s proof he can do died in the wool SF, too.
  • If you haven’t read my own Starflight, here’s your chance. Obviously, I love it. I hope you do, too!
  • But, there’s more! If you unlock the bonus you get five more amazing books:

  • Like most of Kevin J. Anderson’s work, Climbing Olympus is a great adventure. He’s a New York Times bestseller for a reason, afterall.
  • Maggie Jaimeson doesn’t fool around with life’s little questions. Her Eternity takes look at what immortality might look like. Very cruchy SF, indeed.
  • Lisa Silverthorne is just flat-out one of my favorite writers of all time. Rediscovery might just show you why.
  • If you pick up Star Mist, you’ll begin to understand why Dean Wesley Smith has some 23 million copies of his books out there.
  • Then there’s the Moonscapes volume of Fiction Rver that started this whole thing. An anthology of moon-based short stories that might just introduce you to a bunch of new writers you’ll want to track down (and a few I’m sure you already know!).
  • So, really … flat-out, this is a totally kick-ass bundle of books that will keep you reading through a good chunk of the summer if you’ll let it!


    Pay what you want
    DRM Free
    Support AbleGamers
    Automatic delivery

    What could possibly be better?

     

    GET THE BUNDLE HERE!!!

     

    A Special Note About AbleGamers:

    This is a fantastic charity that (as their website says) “…give(s) people with disabilities custom gaming setups including modified controllers and special assistive technology, like devices that let you play with your eyes, so they can have fun with their friends and family. We’re using the power of video games to bring people together, improving quality of life with recreation and rehabilitation.”

    Please do take a run through their site. It’s an organization with an important mission. #SoEveryoneCanGame

    Share Me
    10 May

    Seven Days in May is Published!

    7-Days-in-May-900-600It is, as the Flying Scot used to say, a beautiful day for a motor car race, don’t you think?

    I’m smiling ear to ear today because I can finally say that Seven Days in May is available!

    For those unfamiliar with this unique little project, this is a collaborative collection of stories that my buddy John C. Bodin and I release each year, adding a new original story with each edition. This time the new piece is a short story titled “Speedway Fever.” Like the rest of our work. it’s chock full of pulpy SF characters we love, making tough choices, and (of course) dealing with troubles both on and off the track.

    “I find it hard to express how much pure enjoyment and fun I got out of this slim volume.”
    – Tangent Online

    All six of these stories were great fun to write, and as you can tel from the quote above, Tangent Online recently gave us a marvelous review and even included “Ghost of a Chance” on their recommended reading list–which is way cool. We hope you’ll like it, too.

    Did You Buy It Last Year? Get Your Update Free!

    That’s one of the cool and unique things about this project. John and I have always figured that if you buy the work once, we’ll spring you a free electronic copy this time. Just drop me an email at the contact form above, and I’ll do the needful.


    Amazon : USUKCADEAU
    Kobo: USCA
    iBooks
    Nook
    Draft2Digital
    CreateSpace (Print)

     

    Share Me
    09 May

    Brigid’s work, or the amazing coolness of “The Fake Path to True Memory.”

    “Did you ever read Brigid’s story in the Faerie Summer bundle?” Lisa asked me.

    We were eating dinner at the end of the day, just chatting about stuff. I read most of our daughter’s work before it gets published, but for various reasons I hadn’t seen this one. Lisa, as always, had copyedited it and had suggested that I read it back then, but it’s been busy.

    “No, I haven’t,” I replied.

    She paused. “You should,” she said.

    So I did.

    It’s titled “The Fake Path to True Memory.”

    Wow. What a beautiful piece of work.

    Back in the day, I wrote in this blog about Brigid fairly often. Someday maybe I’ll pull them all together. We’ll see. But as she grew older I tended not to. A young woman needs her privacy, you know? Now she’s grown up and living her life with her husband and her cat, and she’s a writer on her own. So, yeah, she can do her own thing just fine without me butting in. But, seriously, this is a nice piece of art and I don’t care if you think it’s simply a dad’s opinion or not.

    Brigid is turning into one really fine writer. She’s finding her voice. Doing her thing. I’m deeply proud of her no matter what she does, but to see her putting work like this together, and work like she’s been publishing in the Young Explorer’s Adventure Guide (her Sugimori Sister stories are brilliant) and various Fiction River anthologies (Find “Killing Spree” in Tavern Tales and you’ll understand what I mean)…well…there’s this amazing coolness to it that makes me very happy.

    If you love Faerie, you should pick up this bundle (Links in the write-up).

    If you like that story, you should pick up her first book.

    Just consider it all “Dad Approved.”

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    09 May

    The Kentucky Derby’s Conscientious Objector?

    Having grown through my formative years in Louisville, Kentucky, I have an affinity to the Kentucky Derby. I admit that I don’t follow it particularly closely these days, but it was certainly a thing for me and I have lots of great memories closely tied to it (and the week that leads up to it). We still have family there. I still love my Cards. Louisville will always be the Holy Land for me.

    I caught the race this year, mostly because we were at my parents’ place and it was on.

    Always Dreaming won on a sloppy track, but for me the star was Thunder Snow, who ran one of the more memorable races in the history of the event. That’s how things go. I will probably forget Always Dreaming won, but I will not forget Thunder Snow, who essentially got 50 or 100 yards down the track and just said “ah, well, never mind, eh?” Originally, like most, I was worried that he was injured. But, no, he’s fine.

    And so, given that, I give you: An Ode to Thunder Snow, the Real Hero of the Kentucky Derby & Equestrians Everywhere

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    03 May

    Jimmy Kimmel is wrong

    Since this blog is chronically behind the times, I’m sure everyone is now aware that Jimmy Kimmel made a particularly heartrending monologue a couple days ago in which he described events surrounding the birth of his son, a kid who came into the world with a congenital heart defect. In it he talks about the ACA and health care in particular. Finally he came to this line:

    “If your baby is going to die and it doesn’t have to, it shouldn’t matter how much money you make. I think that’s something that whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat or something else, we all agree on that, right?”

    This is a great sound bite, but unfortunately, no, it is not right.

    In fact, this is the root core of the problem we have. Republicans, as a general rule, most certainly do believe that it matters how much money you make as to whether your baby will live or die in this situation.

    They won’t put it that way, of course. The compassionate of them will look you in the eye with deep regret and say how sorry they are for your loss, but that there’s no way society can continue forward if we lose that kind of money on a medical procedure.

    But there really is no way of getting around this point: That is equivalent to looking a parent in the face and saying “if you had more money your kid would be alive.”

    #

    There are logical arguments for this point of view. You can, however, be both logically sound and wrong. That is the case here.

    The first argument is that the country would go broke providing this level of support to everyone. This argument could be true (or not), but only if you view the world as nothing but individual transactions. This is how fiscal conservatives tend to view things–one transaction at a time. So it’s not too surprising that they feel how they feel about health care. There are, however, thousands and thousands of halo effects to consider—the future value of a person can be very, very high, especially if that person is both healthy and wanted. This argument is also predicated on the idea of the free market, where a medical organization is pretty much free to charge what they want.

    The second argument is more personal: that taking my money to use for someone else is unethical and un-American. There is, of course, a grain of truth here. The United States was built on a mindset of rugged individualism. At its soul, this is a pretty harsh point of view, though. Very Darwinian. Survival of the richest. Given human nature, if this is how you feel, it’s probably how you are going to feel for a very long time. I do wonder, however, if this is how you really feel, why do you ever buy Health Insurance to begin with? Until the ACA you didn’t have to, and even with the ACA not buying health care is cheaper than buying it. If your ideology says you don’t want other people to use your money, and vice versa (I assume here that you don’t want to use anyone else’s money when you get sick), why are you buying health care? Or any other form of insurance for that matter?

    Why are you buying life insurance? All you are saying there is that if you die, you want other people to pay for the people you leave behind. Shouldn’t that be your job?

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    So, yes, at the end of the day, Jimmy Kimmel is wrong.

    A lot of people believe that if a baby is dying and the parents don’t have the money to save it, that this baby should be left to die.

    It is a harsh position.

    But it is a position that many Republicans have, and it is the root of the conflict we have with health care today.

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