Heretics of St. Possenti

Looks like my newest book, Heretics of St. Possenti, is now live on Amazon. Not the cover I expected, but totally in genre. Let me know what you think. As always, honest and positive reviews are appreciated.

Oh, and I finished the latest short story about Jispin the barbarian, starting here. You can read the whole thing straight through from there.

UPDATE: In the top 20 of the genre. # 2 (and #889 overall Amazon sales rank) as of this writing. Interesting thing, though: look at the covers, and tell me which of these things is not like the other? I suspect that the normal target audience of that genre isn’t middle-aged men. 🙂

Note #2 – the official release date is… November 11th. Veterans day. Very appropriate.

Note #3 – Honest reviews are appreciated.

Comic Revival

I remember reading comics when I was a kid. In high school a friend of mine was very into the X-Men, and some other similar comics. I enjoyed them. Decent stories, cool graphics, etc. Most of the modern super hero movies are based on those old properties, and are pretty watchable. The most recent ones, though, are not. All the good stuff has been used up and wrung out, or dismissed by the leadership as “problematic”*. Continue reading


It’s Gravity season. Time for things to fall. Things like leaves and branches. On power lines, naturally. And roads. Oh joy, be still my beating heart! Since Hurricanes Harvey and Irma and Maria, I’d been meaning to dig out the generator for a test run, and do my other fall emergency checks. Thus begins a short story of preparedness and failure. Continue reading


Epiphany (not the Cristian feast / celebration): a moment when you suddenly feel that you understand, or suddenly become conscious of, something that is very important to you.

They can be useful. When the world seems to be going utterly insane, and you wonder why it’s not all making sense, and you get an insight, a realization, that makes all the pieces fall into place. You gain clarity. Sometimes its an almost religious experience. It might be nothing more than the realization that… you are not alone in seeing what you see. The moment the little boys shouts out “But the emperor is naked!” and nobody in the emperor’s retinue is close enough to beat the kid into silence and word spreads.

Everyone has that point where the “obvious” is no longer “crazy” and becomes “true.”

A FOX news headlines shout “Charlottesville white supremacist rally blamed for 3 deaths, 35 injuries.” Oh no, that’s horrible! many exclaim.

Then you come to find out that two of them are from a crashing police helicopter. The third was from a guy driving through a crowd that was armed and violent, after the police not only failed to protect the marchers, but were actively helping the Antifa, and the government had done their best to deny their free speech rights. More here and elsewhere.

(short background: they applied for a rally permit, got shot down because of the content of their speech, went to court, got it reinstated. Come the time for the rally, they were not protected from the Antifa counter-protest, but actively herded through it, then the police vanished. The cops were, to all appearances, in collusion with the armed and violence Anti thugs trying to shut down a permitted and lawful free speech rally. I.i., they are obeying orders of their left-wing paymasters. Now questions are rising about the actual identity of the driver (false flag? in any case, the pieces presented as “known” are very inconsistent). All the violence was initiated, as usual, by the left. All the news headlines are misleading.

People are starting to notice, and suddenly go “waiiiittt a minute… maybe they are NOT being honest in their coverage!” and they start not believing anything the media says. And the more hysterical the media gets, the more they double down, the more obvious it becomes, the more people look at their friends at work and quietly go “do you believe any of this crap? No? Me neither.” The nod their heads at the HR meetings, and quietly think to themselves that it might be time to vote differently. And they hope, they pray, that it’s still not to late for votes to matter, because the next steps are really, really unpleasant for all concerned.

Education quirk

Interesting. Short version: PISA is the “Programme for International Student Assessment”, it tests schools/kids from around the world. 65 nations entered. America ranked 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math. Ouch. Nations that didn’t enter were mostly places like all of sub-Saharan Africa which routinely score badly on such tests; it’s safe to assume the US did better than Haiti, even if they didn’t take the test.

However… Someone looked at how kids performed in each nation by ethnic backgrounds within a country, and compared them across borders (i.e., compare American Chinese to Chinese in China, American whites to whites in Europe, Mexican-Americans to Mexicans in Mexico, etc). Quote:

Asian-Americans outperform all Asian students except for Shanghai-Chinese. White Americans outperform students from all 37 predominantly white nations except Finns, and U.S. Hispanics outperformed the students of all eight Latin American countries that participated in the tests.

African-American kids would have outscored the students of any sub-Saharan African country that took the test (none did) and did outperform the only black country to participate,Trinidad and Tobago, by 25 points.

Huh. That means that one (or both) of these two cherished narratives are false:
(a) American schools are abject failures for the amount of money we spend per student, and spending more money will fix the problem, or
(b) There are no real and significant racial /ethnic /cultural differences, and the low academic scores highly correlated with economic achievement of certain groups is the result of white racism, oppression,  discrimination, etc.

You can lead a horse to water… etc., etc.

You can’t have it both ways with this analysis of the data. Personally, I think we should treat all people as individuals, and do what we can with / for them. Move to an ability-based class-placement system for most things rather than age-based.

Sometimes I hate it when life gets exciting

Friday a hard drive on my home computer went kaput. Not really a huge deal – it was ~8 years old – just a hassle, time, and money spent replacing it, restoring from backups, etc. More a “*sigh*, ‘again?'” sort of thing than an “OMG! I’m SO SCREQWED!!!” sort of moment. Which then, of course, leads to looking at the rest of HDDs I’ve got on various systems to see if any of them need replacements…. yes, of course they do…. more $$, more time, more hassle.

But when a strange car is in the driveway when you get home, labeled “loaner car”, and the conversation metaphorically starts with “well, at least nobody got hurt,” it’s not going to be a great afternoon. Wife and kids were in a minor-ish fender-bender. Technically drivable, at least as far as the dealer. But the crumple-zone crumpled just enough that they are deciding if they should fix it, or total it and give us a check. If they do total it, then as an older Honda the check won’t be anywhere close to getting a newer minivan. So we are looking at pricing out a replacement vehicle that is ~80% likely to be needed.

Anyone have a 6-8 year old minivan in good shape they could part with at a fair price? Seattle area, but can drive if needed. Life keeps happening, I guess. And that’s not addressing the need for a re-shingle job on the 20-YO roof.

Story post wrap-up

I know some people don’t like serialized stories; they want to whip through the whole thing at once. I understand. I’m just dropping a quick note for those of that sort who like short stories that the one I linked to is all up so you can read the whole thing at once. As a quick reminder, it’s a sword-type, Conan-esque stand-alone tale, about 15k words. Young guy, getting his start in life on a harsh world, and having an experience that leads him to make a career choice. Starts here, ends here. Comments, corrections, feedback welcome.

New short story / series

Gotta keep writing. There is a long story I won’t bore you with as to the delays in getting sequel/prequel published properly, so in the meantime i thought I’d write a short story. Not in the same universe as “The Stars Came Back,” more Conan-esque. Young barbarian getting a start in life, etc. Not precisely YA, a bit gory, but not too gratuitous. He’s not grown up enough yet to have mighty thews and a crushing sword-stroke (yet).

Working title might be “Career Choice”, Part I. I’ll be posting there daily until it’s done, something around a thousand words per day. Start here.

Home page to see the whole series of posts start here.

Negative press covfefe

We all make typos. Butt-dials happen. Interruptions occu….

I found the world’s reaction to the partial information broadcast far and wide fascinating at many levels. At 12:06 AM Wednesday morning, the 31st of June, The Real Donald Trump (the God Emperor and President of the united States) sent a tweet. As with so many things said or typed at odd hours of the night, and from our president, it wasn’t phrased with quite the perfect polish and eloquence some might have hoped. Continue reading

The perfect problem

If you are a politician seeking power, and everything is going well, there isn’t any urgency to pass laws beyond those needed for the general maintenance of the status quo, because everything is awesome. You need an enemy or problem to rail against, to be the target of you legislation. You need a boogieman to scare people into supporting you. But what?

You want something that cannot fight back. If you demonize a group they will object.

You want something BIG, because sane people won’t get very worked up about the trivial.

Really big. So big that everyone must be involved, and any dissenters can be easily demonized.

You want something distant in time. You can’t use something that can be disproven next week, or even within the next few election cycles. It’s got to be an ongoing chronic thing hanging out in your children’s and grandchildren’s future.

…but not too distant. Immediate action must be demanded by the hugeness of the problem, not something that can be dealt with mañana.

Far reaching. It must impact every aspect of life, which in turn calls for regulating every aspect of life.

Have many possible parts to the potential solutions. If any one part of the “solution” appears to work it can never be enough, but if some other part doesn’t, it can be used as a call for more spending, more laws, more actions, more something. There isn’t any one magic bullet because the problem is so huge, but many parts that might help some, but they are individually so small that nothing can be proven one way or another. There is always another reason to demand more research, more knowledge, more data, and a reason to demand “doing something” in the meantime “just in case.”

Not an actual threat. If you don’t get everything you demand, no sweat: everything is still going to be OK. But you can always demonize others for failing to do enough, while excusing your own continued high-living lifestyle.

Sound like anything you’ve heard of before?

Global warming?

Yes, global warming, the perfect boogieman.

Measuring success in one metric

For some things, measuring success is pretty obvious, and the metrics are nicely binary. e.g., “Did the boomer go BOOM after you pulled the trigger?”

In other things the metrics are either much harder to measure, or there are “good” reasons that the people measuring success don’t want a good metric; it would show they are failing miserably. Or, worse, they are no longer needed to “do the job.” Pick just about any political appointee and the example writes itself.

Anyway, the reason I ask is that I am, among other things, a teacher. Yeah, I know, taking one for the team here guys, leave me alone about that, will ‘ya? So in preparing for an upcoming interview, I started to think about what sorts of things I can ask them – that’s always a “fun” place for the interview to go, because it can’t be any trivia you can just read off the school web-site, but it also cannot be something that exposes glaring problems or hypocrisy in their system, because after they uncomfortably give you a non-answer you’ll not be offered a job. So it’s a balancing act.

So this question popped into my head, and I thought I’d bounce it off ya’ll to see what sort of trouble I might get myself into, but also maybe find some good follow-ups. I’ve got what I think it’s a pretty good measure of success, but it would likely open a huge can of zombie attack worms the size of anacondas, which I don’t want to deal with just yet. So, the question is: Continue reading

Don’t be evil

Interesting. At least, i suppose that’s one word to describe it.

This morning before I went to work I was at home looking through the news and such, and I came across a video that I though might be interesting to one of my students. I watched a few minutes of it to make sure it was what I thought it was, then paused it and went to work. There I searched for it, found it, and clicked the vid to que it up for my student. I hit play, and it picked up at the exact same spot I’d paused it… back at home.

Different machine. Different network and ISP. Different browser. Different OS.

It knew exactly where I’d paused.

Nah, nothing there to be creeped the fuck out about, nothing at all.

The ONLY connection that I could identify was that for work we use Chrome machines, and are given all things Chrome to use, including (of course) GMail. To look at work emails and schedule at home I’d opened up my gmail account and a shared spreadsheet. It was opened in the browsers in both places.

Different machine. Different network and ISP. Different browser. Different OS.Both had an email account opened in one tab, it tracked what was going on in other tabs and browsers when I don’t use Google search at home.

Like I said, nah, nothing to be bothered by, right?

I will not now, nor ever, buy or use any Google product that is not provided by work, and I’ll never again open their applications on my home machine if I can possibly help it.

When does recoil start?

Cool posting on “when does recoil start?”

When Does the Pistol Slide Start to Move?

It has some pretty good gif/animation and explanations.

Short version: once the bullet starts moving, Newton’s laws kick in. I think one of the most fascinating part of the animations is the smoke spurts; the 1911 has some at the breech, too, but they all have smoke exiting the barrel before the bullet. Cool stuff.