I just finished reading Neal Asher’s Owner trilogy: Zero Point, The Departure, and Jupiter War. I have mentioned before that Asher’s novels are weird, extremely violent, and have an extraordinarily high body count but they’re fun, which might make you wonder what kind of person I am to enjoy them but don’t worry, I wonder that myself sometimes so I’m probably okay.

The Owner trilogy is set in a different universe from Asher’s popular Polity series of novels. In this trilogy a future Earth is ruled by a ruthless, corrupt, and inhumane “Committee”. Brilliant scientist Alan Saul is in a crate on his way to the incinerators after having been tortured to the point where he barely remembers who he is. He is rescued by an AI that merges with his mind, thanks to some experimental hardware installed in his brain, and manages to escape, leave Earth, take over a large space station, and kill most of the Committee. He then begins converting the space station into a starship. Meanwhile one of the few surviving Committee members, a psychotic woman who makes Hitler look like a boy scout, takes over as dictator of Earth.

At first I thought I wasn’t going to like this story but I quickly got into it. It’s really a very interesting and complex story with well developed characters. If you lean “Green” politically you will likely be offended, as Earth’s psychotic dictator is clearly a parody of Green politics. She loves the Earth and wants to restore it to its natural state and people are just in the way. On the other hand if you have Libertarian sympathies you will love it. Me? I tend not to care much about the author’s politics as long as it’s a good story and this one definitely is.

I recently bought my own copy of Brass Man. I had read a borrowed copy of it before but I wanted my own. I am thrilled, by the way, that it is what Amazon calls a “mass market paperback,” what I call a standard paperback, which, tragically, seems to be a rapidly disappearing breed. I hate those heavy, oversize paperbacks. I have actually had to start wearing a wrist brace because of them.

Anyway, I was going to start reading Brass Man but the husband is almost finished with the book he’s reading so I thought I’d let him read it first if he wants, since I’ve read it before. Instead I started Vessel by Andrew Morgan, a book I found in the Kindle specials a month or two back. So far, two chapters in, I’m not really excited about it yet but it’s looking like it could be interesting. Sometimes it takes a while to orient oneself when going from one universe to another.

“The Bacteria-Filled Water Droplet of Youth”

A Russian scientist has injected himself with an ancient bacteria that he believes will help people to live longer. I want to make fun of this but at the same time I want to believe there’s something to it. I think making fun of it would be the better bet. He tested it on plants and animals before injecting himself but one “heroic” scientist injecting himself does not carry the same weight of credibility as a double blind study. Still, let’s do that double blind study and see what happens. And hurry up! I’m not getting any younger.

Random Linkage

Steve McCurry – a photographers blog

Peeling Paint – more proof that everything is interesting if you stop and really look at it

Miss Meadow’s Pearls – vintage fashion, lingerie and jewelry; some images NSFW

Brooklyn Bridge 1915 – large vintage photo

Caveman (and cavewoman) Movie Posters – Possibly NSFW? Scroll all the way down and you’ll find links to several other categories of movie posters, in case dinosaurs and women in fur bikinis are not your cup o’ tea.

Brain Decoder – fascinating articles about the human brain

Purple’s Garden – a beautiful and sad story

Cobwebs of Light – Beautiful

Butterflies – Ever wonder why they are called butterflies?

Van Gogh Garden – Wonderful

Quotes From Here and There

Any child anywhere knows that Lego’s little plastic bricks are an integral part of life, and any parent anywhere knows that stepping on Lego’s little plastic bricks are an integral part of vicariously teaching your kids to

Vegetarianism is obviously not in the stars for me because I would die before giving up sausage, bacon, and carnitas.there

How much do you think it would cost to send a paperclip to the surface of the Moon?here

Look! In the Sky!

I did watch the lunar eclipse Sunday night. Not quite the whole event though. Eclipses are both exciting and boring at the same time. They’re very slow. Our modern entertainments have conditioned us to expect things to happen quickly. But eclipses are exciting because… well, it’s hard to explain. It’s like I’m more aware of the reality of the solar system. We’ve all seen the diagrams and the models and it’s not that I ever doubted the reality; I didn’t, but when one object in space casts a shadow on another it really feels real. You know what I mean?

Anyway… I was watching it alone and you really need to watch eclipses with someone else. They should be shared. While I was standing in my driveway looking at the moon I could hear the neighbors in their back yard talking and I was a little envious. I thought about how my mother would have enjoyed watching the eclipse and wished she was there. I also thought that people should have eclipse parties. Not us. We don’t really have any close friends, and family are all too far away to come to an event that late at night. But eclipse parties should definitely be a thing.

* * *

It seems that there is water on Mars. Actual flowing water. This is a really big deal. There was even a Google Doodle. I am not as excited about it as I feel I should be. I want to be but I guess I’ve seen too many announcements of scientific discoveries only to later hear that, “No, wait. Not as exciting as we first thought,” or just, “Oops. We were wrong.” I’ve come to expect that so it’s hard to get excited about stuff like this. Maybe I could get a little more excited if there were some close-up pictures of water on Mars but that can’t happen, at least not anytime soon.

Random Linkage

Dressed for War – a book I might want

Alba amicorum – Facebook, 16th century style; much more artistic than our Facebook.

Fantasy Architecture – Wish these were real.

Lightbox Dioramas – Another one from the same site but I couldn’t resist either one.

Subterranean Music – interesting venue

Different Nutcracker – Looks like fun but I wouldn’t pay that much for it.

“Today’s battle has been cancelled” – Awwwww

7 Reasons Not to Climb Mt. Everest – They don’t have to tell me twice. Actually, they don’t even have to tell me once.

So, Say Something Already

I have been thinking I need a weekly “open mike” post. But I’m not going to call it that because, of course, it’s only open as long as you’re nice and you’re not trying to sell anything. Think of this is my front porch. Come on up and chat.

Late Summer Flowers

There are two species of flowers in the photo. Most of them are moss rose. I have no idea what the yellow one is – just something I found at Lowe’s.

Lalalala… I can’t hear you!

I’m already tired of the presidential campaign and it’s not even election year yet. If I was running things the rules for elections would go something like this: (Yes, I know I’m being ridiculous. Shush. This is my fantasy.) There would be a list of questions (50? 100?) that all candidates would be required to answer in writing. Answers would be limited to 140 characters because that’s about the attention span of the average voter. Even if answers go over this limit only the first 140 characters of each answer will be printed. Copies of these questions and answers will be mailed to all registered voters. The visually impaired and anyone else who can’t read for whatever reason will get a machine-read (so there will be no biased human inflections) recording of the questions and answers. From the moment the candidates announce or even hint that they are running they will not be allowed to speak in public, or to advertise, except for two speeches of no more than 15 minutes each – one to be given when the candidate announces that he or she is running and the other to be given within four weeks before the election. I’m still trying to decide whether candidates should receive an electric shock if they go over the 15 minute time limit.

I don’t know much about the current presidential candidates yet except for the two big ones and probably not really enough about them. Donald Trump is a buffoon and should be required to wear a sign that says, “For entertainment purposes only,” but I actually understand his appeal and it’s something other candidates should seriously consider. People are extremely tired of politicians who never give a straight answer to any question, who talk and talk and talk and never really say anything, and who are quick to apologize and try to explain away anything they say that draws a negative reaction. People like Donald Trump because he is offensive and they think that means he is being “real”. The truth is, it’s all for show and we can’t tell what he really thinks or what he will actually do if elected any more than any of the other candidates. It’s just a different kind of act.

I am neither a fan nor a hater of Hilary Clinton but I actually think she could be a good president. I worry that her baggage and the fact that so many people do hate her might keep her from getting elected. It just depends on who she runs against. If it’s Trump I’m pretty sure she’s in. He might be popular now but the swing voters will get tired of him by election time.

For the last several years I’ve been seeing a lot of appealing quotes by Bernie Sanders; at least, they appeal to me. But would he be a good president? I think he could be but any president is only as good as Congress allows him to be. He can have the greatest ideas and intentions but Congress can totally shut him down and he, not Congress, will get most of the blame.

The other candidates? I don’t know much about them. I don’t think most of them matter. Even this early we have a pretty good idea who will be nominated, at least down to two or three possibilities on each side. I already know I will vote for the Democrat unless something really extreme comes up and I will not vote in the primary because Oklahoma’s primary is not open to Independents. So, really? How much do I need to know about these people at this point?

Quotes From Here and There

Some are born bored, some achieve boredom, and some have boredom thrust upon

So, among my many tools at work, I have one that we lovingly call the Staff of Ra.there

And then suddenly the picture and text make a mad dash for the left edge of your screen. Before you can catch them, they are gone, and you had not even finished the first paragraph. In their place appears something else—something about new fashions in organic fertilizer or six International Style gas stations to see before you die. What happened to the okapi?here

The phrase “I am not programmed to respond in this area” comes immediately to mind.there

Unmitigated Gaul

Yesterday on the radio I heard something by The Orchestra of Unmitigated Gaul. Well, of course I can’t resist a good pun but they also happen to be excellent. I looked for them on Youtube but didn’t find anything. Click on the link and you can listen to their album, Widdershins: The Legend of Tristan Shoute.


This morning my computer went to sleep and refused to wake up. I’m waiting for my personal computer hero to come home and fix it. I’m typing this on my phone and it’s really slow and tedious. I don’t know how the kids thumb type so fast, which suggests to me a topic for discussion.

I love computers and smartphones, which are, of course, small computers and I tend to get impatient with people who can’t or won’t learn to use them but we all have our limits. What new or proposed technology goes beyond your willingness to adapt? What would make you say, “That’s it. I’m done. From now on I’m gonna be a stubborn old geezer, forever living in the past. Screw you, modern world.”?

So far I haven’t seen anything that makes me feel that way but I am really not liking the idea of self driving cars. That might be it for me.

Random Linkage

Mr. Rogers Saved the VCR – I didn’t know that!

Paper Folding Art – Wow! This is amazing. It’s not origami. You’ve gotta go look.

Who Wrote the Pledge of Allegiance? – Interesting history of the Pledge, how it started and how it has changed since the original.

Vintage Pen, Pencil, and Stationery Ads – Lovely.

Flu Shots – Inappropriate (or perhaps appropriate?) sign placement

Miss Moss – A beautiful artsy blog

Black and White Surrealist Photos

Burning Man 2015 – 29 large photos

A Fall Ramble

It feels like fall. I have been hating to see summer ending but the weekend, especially yesterday, was cool and damp and I have to admit it feels sort of nice. We have been sleeping with the window open for the past two nights and I love that, but I still don’t want summer to end. I think it’s about time we had an unseasonably warm winter. I don’t mean ridiculously warm, like almost summer-like; just flannel shirt weather would be okay. No need for bulky coats and jackets, please. Well, anyway… I don’t get to choose do I? But that’s what I want.

The fall TV season is starting and as usual everything good is on Monday night. I know that’s not a problem for most people but out here in the boonies with our limited bandwidth we have to make choices, just like they did back in the dark ages before streaming. We did finally buy a BlueRay/DVD/streaming player* and we’re going to give it a try and see how much we can stream before we use up all our bandwidth but Longmire, formerly on A&E but now a Netflix exclusive, (&%$#!) gets priority. But in the non-streaming world we have chosen NCIS: Los Angeles over Castle and Gotham over Big Bang Theory. [sigh] I’m hoping to catch up on what we’re missing on DVD later.

(* Our ancient DVD player quit a while back and I had been procrastinating about replacing it because I really don’t know what I’m doing when picking out tech stuff.)

Saturday we went and ate lunch at the McDonald’s over the turnpike. This is a tremendously fun place to eat and it has always disappointed me that it’s a McDonald’s and not something unique. It also has a Subway. There is a single huge seating area with the McDonald’s on one side and the Subway on the other. It had been closed for renovation but has been open for several months. I have complained before that McDonald’s always gets my order wrong, no matter which one I go to, so I have to make a point of saying that this time I did get exactly what I ordered – a bacon chicken wrap. It was actually very good.

The most disappointing thing about the newly renovated space is that the decor is horribly dull. Everything is gray and white. There’s no color anywhere except on the signs and menus. If it weren’t for the huge windows overlooking the turnpike you would swear you were in a hospital cafeteria. Seriously, what is with all the gray everywhere lately? It seems like every time I turn on HGTV someone is doing a gray kitchen. Is the whole world suffering from depression? Okay, so a lot of stuff that’s going on in the world is depressing but it seems to me that should be all the more reason for making our homes and our businesses colorful and cheerful. And so, now, I glance over at my yellow and blue curtains and smile. It’s always summer in my kitchen.

Unmotivated Blogging

I have nothing to say today… Well, actually, I do have a lot to say but I’m not in the mood to organize my thoughts and type them out in a reasonably coherent manner so… here are a few more links.

Just some blogs I found recently:

The Dashing Eccentric – a sewing blog

Biblioblog – and another sewing blog

Grammarphobia Blog

Billet and Board – food and travel

Women Against Feminism – a controversial Tumblr

2 Kinds of People – another Tumblr, less controversial, perhaps

Lempo Bee – a nice family blog

Back Then – vintage photos Tumblr

Rules? What Rules?

Frankly, I was a little surprised by this list of 10 “Rules” We Wish More Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Would Break because I read science fiction all the time that does not follow these rules. I guess I’m just reading the right books. But let’s go through them anyway, just for fun.

1. No third-person omniscient – I don’t have a very strong preference among third person, omniscient or limited, or first person. Each can be a good way of telling a story, but I do enjoy when the author gives me a look inside all the characters heads so I suppose I have a slight preference for third person omniscient.

2. No prologues – Seriously? No prologues? I like prologues. But having no prologue is fine too. Sometimes a story needs one and sometimes it doesn’t.

3. Avoid infodumps – It depends. I actually like straight infodumps that are not too long, no more than two or three pages. I dislike excessively technical infodumps and I hate awkward, contrived infodumps – the kind where the author tries to fit it into the story by having one of the characters explain things in a pages long lecture or presenting it as conversation between characters in a way that seems unrealistic that the characters would be having this kind of conversation.

4. Fantasy novels have to be series instead of standalones – I am always reluctant to start reading a series of more than three books. Any number of standalone novels set in the same universe and with the same characters is okay and trilogies are awesome but I hate those long series that go on and on with each book ending in a cliffhanger. They make me feel trapped.

5. No portal fantasy – I don’t read a lot of fantasy so I don’t really have a strong opinion about this but I think portals are okay. If the story needs a portal then it needs a portal. What’s the problem?

6. No FTL – Oh, yes! I’ve heard this “rule” and I hate it. I don’t care if the science works for someone who has a PhD in physics. I don’t have a degree in physics or any other science so just tell me a freaking story and make it good.

7. Women can’t write “hard” science fiction – I am a woman. I am not a feminist. I am not particularly offended when someone points out the differences between men and women, but this just seems silly to me. We’re talking about writing here, not weightlifting. Of course women can write any kind of fiction they like.

8. Magic has to be just a minor part of a fantasy world – Again, not really much of a fantasy reader, especially of the traditional magic and wizards and hero’s quest sort of fantasy but if your book is all about a magical world then, sure, fill it with as much magic as you like.

9. No present tense – I think I have read just one book written in the present tense, which felt odd, and therefore annoying, until I got into it, which took some time. Unfortunately, I can’t remember what book it was, which is also annoying but, unfortunately, not all that odd for me.

10. No “unsympathetic” characters – This is the strangest “rule” on the list and I’m not even sure what it means. Certainly the villain can be “unsympathetic”. I do hate when there’s no one in the story that I can identify with so please don’t make all of the characters unsympathetic.

Random Linkage

Jim Benton Cartoons – These are great.

Tom Brady court sketch skirt – OMG! I really just don’t know what to say about this.

Dennis Fast Photography – Beautiful wildlife photography

L’Europe aux anciens parapets – Some interesting old photos

The Indian Liberace – Fascinating.

Colorful Landscapes – Paintings. Simple but I like them.

Elon Musk, Supervillain?

Starling Pocket Watches – Beautiful!

“Most Beautiful Bookstore on the Planet” – I don’t know about “most beautiful” but I’d like to spend a week there. (and to be able to read Italian, of course)

Movie Inspired Cakes – Too awesome to eat. But I think I’d manage.