A beautifully told story with colorful characters out of epic tradition, a tight and complex plot, and solid pacing. -- Booklist, starred review of On the Razor's Edge

Great writing, vivid scenarios, and thoughtful commentary ... the stories will linger after the last page is turned. -- Publisher's Weekly, on Captive Dreams

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Thought for Thanksgiving

  1. The atmospheres of Mars, Venus, and primeval Earth are/were 95% carbon dioxide.
  2. On Earth, photosynthesis (the opposite of fire) bootstrapped most of this to Life
  3. All of life and most of its products [cloth, wood, meat, plastics] are made from carbon dioxide, ultimately from photosynthesis.
  4. Of the earth’s crust, only 0.15% consists of carbon. Of the atmosphere, only 0.04% consists of CO2.
Therefore, when we give thanks for nearly anything, we are giving thanks for CO2. Reducing CO2 means, ultimately, reducing Life.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Quote of the Day

"The mailings of pipe bombs, and similar activities, have been described as hate crimes. Is that what makes them bad — the hatred? Or is it the way the hatred is expressed?
Might it be okay, for instance, to mail pipe bombs randomly, to people you do not hate, indeed, don’t even know?"
-- David Warren

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Released into the Wild

Well, they're kicking me out tomorrow, but not until Monday do I see the surgeon about maybe putting weight on my let foot. That means I have to hire a wheelchair ambulance on Monday to go from home to doctor and back. This is Very Expensive, since the government insurance (Medicare) covers it not. Forget about pre-existing conditions, what about covering existing conditions? How I will hop up the steps to the front door with one leg ia currently undecided. Perhaps the ambuleers will carry me up, chair and all.

A local politico is running ads about how his opponent will gut insurance protections for pre-existing conditions. Boo. His examples are deceptive : diabetes, cancer. But this is not what is meant. Currently, one may opt to buy health insurance after getting sick or injured. That's not insurance, that's demanding other people pay your medical bills. That may be a good and desirable thing, but it is not insurance and it is not sustainable. That's why Obamacare had that provision that everyone had to buy a policy. So healthy people would be paying into the pool without drawing out. But people wanted coverage for pre-existing conditions without the ugly necessity of buying an insurance policy first. Hence, premiums and deductibles skyrocketed.

Meanwhile, I sit and watch TV, which allows my brain to rot. There are hundred of channels, but they are all running veterinary shows, home renovations, reruns of Roseanne, M*A*S*H, Gomer Pyle, and That 70's Show, as well as a variety of football games, car repairs, and Donnie Brasco: The Real Story. Tonight. reruns of Family Feud will be strip-run on two different channels, neither of them the Game Show Network. When I surf from channel to channel, I almost never see an actual show in progress but invariably a commercial. And they are the same commercials, on every channel.

The good news is that there are only twenty commercials. The bad news is that they run over and over -- and half of them are political. An incredible number of commercials are for prescription medicines. There are traditional commercials for cars, but we seldom see any for toothpaste and of course never for beer.
I assume we are to Ask Our Doctor about these wonderfuls drugs and their multitudinous side effects, including possible death. That's because the takers of these drugs are shown swimming, playing golf, reading to their grandchildren, and other activities that their hithero but now-cured illnesses presumably kept them from doing . Seldom are these activities related to the illnesses.

We are also instructed that the other candidate is a crook or in the pay of Big Pharma or even -- I am not making this up -- a sexual harasser and child rapist. Fortunately, the targets are politically situated such that such Credible Accusations will never have a Kavanaugh-like fallout. Like a breath of fresh spring air are those commercials which tout instead the ieas and merits of the candidate him (or her) self. Alas, in many cases, these ideas are lunatic.

The commercials seldom mention the party to which they belong. ("this commercial was approved by the Congressional Leadership Council".) Although in naming the orc or troll in opposition they will mention his benighted party so their own affiliation could be deduced. Often they are deceptive in subtle ways. One local candidate mentions that she was inter alia a chemistry teacher in an inner city school. Go go google. A web site detailing candidates with a scientific background notes that she was a teacher for an entire year before packing it in. She also announces she was "the CEO of a successful start-up", but the science site tells us further that the company was started up by her husband. So perhaps the skids to CEO-dom were greased?  Another commercial deplores the rich backers of his opponent, but an election site states that he has spent $9.5 mill. to his opponent's $1.0 mill. Another is the grandson of a former VP-USA, Henry Wallace.

PA is in the envious position of having brand-new Congressional districts imposed on her by the courts, replacing those that had been drawn by the legislature. These were suspected, indeed convicted, of being gerrymandered.
New court-drawn districts
Old districts

Yeah, no fooling. Well, it was a predictable consequence of racial gerrymandering. It didn't take the Republicans long to notice that when safe districts were created for black candidates, the adjacent areas became safer for Republicans. This enabled Republican redistricters to pose as both virtuous and self-interested at the same time. Throw in a few twists and turns to ensure an incumbent of his seat and you could even get bipartisan support!

The court-drawn districts actually look reasonable, since they better preserve geographic contiguity. But they are numbered all differently. The Lehigh Valley, for example, constitutes a single district, rather than parceled out as hitherto and conjoined to areas lacking common interests. The new 11th District amusingly comprises the counties of Lancaster and York, so we may predict a rosy future for it.

I note that in the early years of the old Republic, Penna. sometimes elected two or three Congresscritters from the same district and even elected Congressmen at large for the whole Commonwealth.That's a charming notion. Instead of laboriously redrawing maps, make the districts permanent and bump up the number of representatives it sends in.

Disbursements so far:
1st District (Bucks Co.)
Brian Fitzpatrick     $1,923,009
Scott Wallace         $8,396,873

7th District (Lehigh Valley)
Marty Nothstein     $567,484
Susan Wild     $1,563,222

meanwhile across the river, in the 7th NJ
Leonard Lance     $1,231,529    
Tom Malinowski     $3,673,046

Friday, October 26, 2018

The Dangers of Childhood

The Incomparable Marge had a close call in her childhood. In fact, she had several close calls.

the incomparably cute


  1. While visiting cousins in Dustin OK, she was chased by pigs and treed. These were not cute little pet pigs or cartoon pigs, but enormous farm pigs. They would eat anything, including small children. Fortunately, among their many skills, tree-climbing is not numbered and eventually her cousins came and corralled the pigs.
  2. While she and a friend were a-setting on a rock overlooking a lake, Western rattlesnake crawled out from underneath said rock toward them. She never saw the snake until she was shown its carcass by her friend's father, who had shot it.
  3. Once on vacation, she had hopped in her father's rowboat and her father cried not to move. Lo, there was a water moccasin in the boat between her and her father on the dock. She immediately teleported from boat to dock and the safety of her father.
  4. TIM on the stoop of her duplex
    with two neighbor boys
    When she and her father were living in a cluster of duplexes near the hobo jungle, she managed to get herself locked into the trunk of her father's car. This is no laughing matter in the Oklahoma heat. But Fortunately, her father and a neighbor managed to free her.
  5. When playing Tarzan in the kitchen, she swung on the refrigerator door in lieu of a vine, and tipped the thing over, fortunately not on herself
By TOF's count, these were five opportunities for him to be deprived of the company of the Marge, which is four more than the close calls of his own. Or else, TOF was in danger in his own youth and was oblivious to it, obliviousness not being beyond the range of reason. Still, TOFling was never threatened by snakes, let alone a herd of pigs.

Quote of the Day

“Indeed men too often take upon themselves in the prosecution of their revenge to set the example of doing away with those general laws to which all alike can look for salvation in adversity, instead of allowing them to subsist against the day of danger when their aid may be required.”
-- Thucydides, History of the Pelopponesian War, Book III
The consequences of refusing to accept the outcome of an election -- in 431 BC.

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Quote of the Day

“Social” justice is the opposite of justice as intelligibly conceived. It is justice not to persons, but to abstract groups. It is invariably a programme of State intervention, and it will invariably bring real and often acute injustice to most of the individuals it touches. There is no coincidence that those who cry for “social justice” not only engage in brownshirt demonstrations, but call their opponents “Nazis.”
-- David Warren

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Thought for the Day

The British justice system put a rapist in a women’s prison because he claimed to be female though he is an unaltered male. There he sexually assaulted four women prisoners.
In its reporting of this case the Guardian uses “she” and “her” throughout to refer to him.

Whoa, What's This?

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