Saturday, October 31, 2020

Have Some Links

 The heater guy could not fix the heater. He's sent away for a new motherboard, which he thinks will fix it. Meanwhile the temperature is going to be 34 degrees tonight.

Also we are all very tense here in respect to the election. The polls say Biden will win, but they said Hilary would win in 2016 so we are not comforted.

Have some links:

"Prolife" movement does nothing to stop abortions (because the leaders of the movement aren't actually interested in doing so)

Apparently the cool thing among MAGA Americans is to call face masks "face diapers." I guess this is because Trump supporters spew so much bullshit?

Sculpture of an insufficiently feminine woman triggers conservatives

History that fails to sufficiently lick the boots of rich white people triggers conservatives

Facts that will probably trigger conservatives

Wednesday, October 28, 2020



It's been raining for three days here now, and is also (finally) cold. And our heating unit has failed.

Luckily we have a fireplace, which is keeping the interior temperature at about 60.

The guy is supposed to come "look at it" today. I hope "look at it" means fix it.

But next week is warm again anyway.


Monday, October 26, 2020

What I'm Reading Now


T. Kingfisher, The Hollow Places

T. Kingfisher is Ursula Vernon's pen name, the one she uses for her books for grownups, as she puts it. This one, as with her last one, The Twisted Ones, is a horror novel. This one is maybe ten times as scary as The Twisted Ones, which is saying something.

I usually don't like horror novels that much, but for Vernon I make an exception. This is because, besides being genuinely horrifying, her novels always have great characters and excellent writing. This one does too. My favorite character is Simon, who subsumed his twin in the womb; one of his eyes is actually his twin's eye, and he sees differently through it.

There's also a portal, but not a C.S. Lewis portal, and extremely scary monsters, and an excellent battle of taxidermied animals.

Highly recommended.

Victoria Schwab, The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue

This is the first Schwab I've read, though she's been a big deal in the SF community for some time. As it says on the tin, this is about the life of Addie LaRue, who makes a deal with the devil (or a devil) in the 18th century. LaRue does not want to marry, which is essentially the only option for a woman in her small French village; she wants to experience the whole world, not be locked in this one tiny life.

So on her wedding day, she asks a devil/pagan trickster god to help her achieve that wish. He grants her wish: she is immortal, but ensures that no one will remember her, ever. So long as she is in sight, people can remember her. The minute she goes out of sight, even for a second, they forget her and her entire existence. So she can't hold a job, or rent a room, or have a friend or lover -- or rather, she can have these last, but only so long as she stays in sight. Once the lover leaves the room, even for a second, they forget her entirely.

Most of the novel plays out the effects of this curse, and LaRue's experiences as she moves through the centuries; but there is another character who has also made a deal with the devil, and once LaRue meets him, the plot thickens.

I liked this okay. Nice plot, and readable prose. 

John Grisham, A Time for Mercy

This one was available through the library and I am desperate for things to read right now, so I ordered it, even though my past experience with Grisham novels has not been great. (Wooden prose, wooden characters, badly edited.) This one was also not so great.

Apparently it's a sequel to some other books he wrote which I have not read. I can live with that, though the constant recaps of the previous books (he doesn't just do it once -- he recaps over and over throughout the text, I guess in case his reader isn't paying attention?) are annoying. There's a lot of over-writing like this, including an entire subplot which never exactly resolves.

The main plot is a sixteen year old kid who kills his stepfather, who just happens to be an excellent and highly loved police officer. (Color me dubious, given that the cop is given to getting knee-walking drunk and starting fights in bars, never mind how he slaps around and rapes his kids.) We are shown the kid killing the cop in the first pages of the book, so there's no mystery. And then the trial plays out pretty much as you would expect -- the lawyer uses the abuse to argue that the kid was justified. Hung jury, they have to retry. That's all, that's the end.

There's also a creepy subplot, in which the lawyer and a preacher at the kid's church gang up on his pregnant 14 year old sister (the one who has been getting raped by the stepfather) and coerce her into continuing a pregnancy against her own wishes and against the wishes of her mother. Then the lawyer and his wife, who have not been able to have the second child they want, adopt the infant. We're told this is the best thing for the 14 year old, since abortion is evil, but if that's not unethical behavior, holy shit, it ought to be.

Grisham also wants us to believe that being forced to carry her rapist's baby to term, give birth to it, and then give it up for adoption is not at all traumatic for our 14 year old high school freshman. She starts high school just as perky as anything! Happy endings all around!

Do not recommend unless you really like courtroom dramas and can wince your way past all the cringe-inducing writing and that subplot.


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Conservative "thought"

 A conservative "pro-life" science fiction writer makes a modest proposal:

Allow me to suggest that we eliminate the income tax altogether, and that, in order to vote, one must donate their firstborn male-child to the agoge and be raised in boot camp as a janissary or fighting slave for our overseas wars.

This would allow unwed mothers to sell their babies for a signing bonus, rather than aborting the young.

Now, this slavery might strike the modern mind as inhuman, but, on the other hand, would it be better that the child be dead, as opposed to fighting for his country?

Again, it seems inhuman, but on the other hand, had this been the policy since Roe v Wade, we would possess a fifty million man army.

I do not suggest going to the original source -- it is an argument against women having the franchise, and the comment section is filled with typical conservative commentary: eugenics, bigotry, and nonsense. But it is here if you feel up to it.


Friday, October 23, 2020

Achievement Unlocked

 Readers, I voted.

I even voted for a libertarian this year -- the one that was running against Tom Cotton. I don't think much of the libertarian philosophy, as you all know, but I would vote for a yellow dog over Tom Cotton.

We all got one of these as our voting swag:

The Kid shows his Swag -- and his nails

The line at my polling place was tiny -- only two people in front of us, and about six poll workers. No waiting.

We did (deliberately) vote at one p.m. on a workday, which probably helped.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Weather Post

Today and tomorrow we're having highs near 90 here.

In the middle of October, I had to put the AC on last night.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Review of Retellings of the Inland Seas

Tangent Online gave the anthology my new story is in, Retellings of the Inland Seas, a glowing review. Also: very nice review of my story in particular!

It's an excellent anthology, as all of Athena Andreadis's anthologies are. Buy a copy and support a small press!

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Cat Picture


It's my little cat Junti. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Dear Prudence


Dear Prudence:

Everything is terrible and I have lost the ability to sleep.

Also the people down the street not only have a TRUMP/PENCE sign in their yard, they have a TOM COTTON sign in their yard.

Here's my question: when I take my dog for a walk up the street, as I do most evenings, is it political commentary or just funny when I let him pee on these signs?

Here's hoping the world gets better soon,

a beleaguered voter

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Update III on Dr. Skull

 Despite telling me this morning that Dr. Skull would be in the hospital probably through Thursday, the surgeon released him this afternoon.

It's going to be a long recovery, though. 😫

ETA: and the kid's roommate made it out of surgery just fine!

Update II on Dr. Skull

CW: Blood, surgery, etc 

The surgeon did a second operation this morning, clearing out infection and then sealing the wound. He put in a drain, which will be removed tomorrow or the next day, but he says it's good that "all that" (meaning blood) is flowing out in such profusion, since that means there's good blood flow to the damaged area.

He also says he got all the infected bone the first time, so that's a good sign.

But they'll keep him there at least until Friday, so ugh.

Meanwhile my kid's roommate and BFF had to rush to the ER last night, and today is scheduled for surgery to remove their gallbladder.

Life is just one fucking thing after the next, as we often say here at chez delagar.

Monday, October 12, 2020

Update on Dr. Skull


So as regular readers know, Dr. Skull was hospitalized for an infection in the bone of his foot this past Friday.

Today they did surgery, debriding and removing his toe bone and metatarsal. The infection was worse than they thought, so they cleaned it out and are leaving the wound open until Wednesday, when they will probably close it up.

The surgeon said aside from that, the foot looks good. So we're hopeful.

He's going to be in the hospital for several more days, though, and he hates it.

The Rhetoric of Atrocity

 So this happened:

It's not anything new. In Europe, starting about 300 AD, everyone "knew" that Jews killed Christian babies and small children and ate their bodies, or used the blood to make matzos.

In the 17th century, when Oliver Cromwell was invading Ireland, everyone in England "knew" that the Irish rebels were cutting open pregnant women, pulling out their unborn babies, and beating the fetuses to death on rocks.

In the 18th century, Benjamin Franklin made up stories about the American Indians slaughtering women and children which are still believed today.

During WWI, stories circulated in England and America about German soldiers crucifying people and cutting the hands off babies and the breasts off nuns.

And of course, during the run-up to our attack on Iraq, stories were invented about Iraqi soldiers pulling babies from incubators and committing other hideous acts (torturing children, cutting off people's ears, and so on).

None of this was true. Often -- as with the Iraqi solders -- it was propaganda deliberately created to appall and anger people, in order to increase support for violent and genuinely atrocity-ridden attacks on the "enemy." (See the behavior of Cromwell's forces in Ireland, or of US soldiers against American Indian communities.)

So when "Pro-life" people circulate stories about how "liberals" murder babies, or kidnap children and rape them, or even eat them (stories that have been circulating among MAGA Americans for some time now), that's probably something that should worry us.

When the president of our country repeats this atrocity propaganda, that's definitely something that should concern us.

This isn't just whackiness from those loons on the Right. This is an attempt to demonize their enemy. You demonize the enemy so that you can justify your own vicious and violent attacks on that enemy.

That's what conservatives are doing now. That's what they've been doing for the past decade. 

Don't be confused about where this is leading.

See also: Constant propaganda about how trans people are "recruiting" children, or "corrupting" the morals of the country, or destroying the universities, or "chopping the penises" off of "babies" or

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Bad News


Dr. Skull is in the hospital. 

He has an infection in a bone in his right foot. They've got him on IV antibiotics, and may do surgery on Monday. I'm hoping they won't have to amputate part of the foot, which is the worst case scenario.

Due to Covid rules, I can only visit for an hour a day.

Trying not to worry about how much this is going to cost -- as y'all know, I'm still paying off the immense medical bills from my illness in December.

2020 sucks.

UPDATE: They're going to amputate one toe and a metatarsal. :(

Friday, October 09, 2020

What I'm Reading Now

Naomi Novik, A Deadly Education

This one was good. It's sort of a Harry Potter fanfic -- or anyway it feels like a Harry Potter fanfic -- but the worldbuilding is excellent, and our heroine, along with the other characters, is well-done.

We're in a school for wizards, with some differences: once you go in, at age 11, you don't come out until (if) you graduate. And more than half of each class does not graduate -- sometimes more than that -- because this school is evil and wants to kill wizards. Wizardlings, I guess. It's filled with various monsters (mals) that attack students four or five times a day, trying to eat them. Only the lucky, and those who get help, survive.

Our main character, El (short not for Ellen but for Galadriel), has no luck getting people to help her, because (she explains) no one likes her, no one wants her around, people would be happy to see her die. This isn't anything she's doing, apparently, though she is mordantly snarky. It's something about her aura. 

All that changes when the hero of the school, Orion, rescues her from a mal. He hasn't rescued her for any particular reason -- just as her affinity is for being unlikeable, his is for slaughtering mals. And El doesn't need rescuing, since she's a powerful wizard in her own right. She tells him this, never fear. Her lack of gratitude intrigues him, apparently, and he begins hanging around with her. 

Meanwhile, something is up at the school -- something worse that mals that try to eat people five times a day. 

Lively, compelling prose, and a non-stop plot, this one is very satisfying. It's also set up for a sequel.

Tana French, The Searcher

Tana French's last book, The Witch Elm, was not so good. Her new one, though, is better.

Here in The Searcher we have a Chicago police officer, Cal Hooper, who quits his job after he and his partner nearly shoot an innocent man on the street, and after his wife leaves him. He comes to Ireland, where he is rebuilding an old house, fishing, and tentatively making friends with the locals. This is where the book opens.

A neighbor kid shows up to hang around and help him with the work, and eventually ask a favor: Will Cal find the kid's older brother, who has gone missing?

Filled with local color and great details about life in a small rural town, not to mention compelling characters, this one works well. The "mystery" at the center is maybe not as compelling as some of her earlier novels, but I really like the characters and the language here.

A few grim details, and violence against -- well, everyone. But if you like compelling mystery novels, this is a good one.

Jodi Picoult, The Book of Two Ways 

A Jodi Picoult novel. They're like burgers from Five Guys, if you see what I mean.  Satisfying, tasty, a bit above your average burger.

This one concerns a graduate student in Egyptology who left off working on her PhD to nurse her mother through her final illness, got pregnant, got married, and never went back to finish her disseratation.

Entering her forties, she has a mid-life crisis, and goes back to the site she was working on when she quit graduate school, and also the guy she was sleeping with at that point.

Will she return to her satisfying if bourgie life, or will she stay with the Egyptologist, do Egyptology, and be a scholar?

I like the kid in this. Neither of the guys are all that interesting or convincing, though, and I'm really bored of books in which characters have to decide to leave their marriages and sleep with some hot new whatever. Picoult, to her credit, puts some new twists in this stale plot, but even so.

 The Egyptology stuff was fun.

Maggie O'Farrell, Hamnet

This is an historical novel, about the short life of William Shakespeare's son. The cause of Hamnet's death is, at least here, is the plague.

There's a lot about Anne Hathaway's life and some about Will's boyhood and youg adulthood. Not much about his time in London. I checked this one out of the library mostly because of the plague connection, but it was very readable. Recommended if you like historical fiction / the plague/ Shakespeare.

Alan Bradley, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie

I forget where I saw this recommended -- probably in the comments over at Jo Walton's column. It's the first in a series of mysteries featuring an eleven-year-old chemist named Flavia de Luce, living in post-war England. Flavia is a bit of a sociopath, and also excellent at deductive reasoning. 

That's all my buttons pushed; no surprise I enjoyed this one. (Eleven-year-old sociopaths are my jam, as those who have read my second novel know.) There's a murder, which Flavia solves, but at least for me the pleasure comes from Flavia's voice and the 1950's setting.

There are ten more, so I've got plenty to read before I run dry. My favorite part of finding a new series!

Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Cat Pictures

 Jasper in the box.

You can see Junti (just barely) in the cat house.

(Bonus bookcase in background)

Whining about the Weather

 Why is it all of a sudden HOT here again? Close to 90 degrees today. More fall please!

Also: shared for your enjoyment.

I mean, I know conservatives worship Trump's little god, but

Tuesday, October 06, 2020



One of my cats has begun meow-crying in a new way, which somehow sounds exactly like how my kid would cry out, "Mom!" when he was in real trouble.

Every time I have a tiny little heart attack.

Apparently my subconscious refuses to admit that my kid is an adult and living fifty miles away.

Monday, October 05, 2020

Apropos my Previous Post...

 This tweet:

Saturday, October 03, 2020

You Knew I was a Scorpion

How are all y'all?

I'm just sitting here watching people piously call for "civility" after Trump has -- for months -- mocked those taking this pandemic seriously; after he deliberately downplayed the pandemic, leading to the deaths of more than 200,000 Americans; after he went to a rally knowing he had Covid-19; and while he is doing everything he can to strip away the civil rights and health care from those we love.

Oh, we have to be NICE, see, because if we say mean things about Trump while he's sick, why, we're no better than they are!

What's that you say? They brag about running over protesters, and shooting protesters? They celebrated Kyle Rittenhouse, who gunned down protesters? They danced in the streets when RBG died and gloated about how fast they could replace her? They're still doing that last?

But we have to be nice. Otherwise we're no better than they are.

Oh, Trump is getting excellent medical care at Walter Reed, while most of us cannot afford to seek medical care when we get sick, because of the for-profit thievery that is the US healthcare system?

What's that? Trump is doing his best to destroy ACA, leaving most of us even more helpless in the grip of the insurance companies and for-profit healthcare providers? 

He's doing everything he can to strip rights away from women, trans people, minorities, and immigrants, leaving us all vulnerable when we need medical care, and in the workplace?

But we shouldn't complain! We should be civil. Otherwise we're NO BETTER THAN THEY ARE.

Listen, we need to get rid of Trump and kick every single member of the GOP out of office -- for good. If we could do that being "civil" I would. 

And I don't think any of us are "celebrating" Trump's illness. What we're feeling is more like hope, mixed with tentative relief. Our rights and the rights of those we love have been under assault since he took office. We have felt threatened and at risk since he took office. More than a few of us have died because he's playing politics with American lives.

Wanting that to stop is not "celebrating." It's desperation. We're not happy he's sick. We're feeling hope for the first time since November 2016. 

When we go high, they stab us in the back. When we play fair, they lie and cheat.

This is a complicated question, since I have long been a supporter of Plato's notion that we can't make the world better by doing harm to people. If we harm someone, Plato explains, we make him worse. Since he is part of our world, then by making him worse, we are making the world worse. We must act to make him better -- we must treat him well.

Plato also said he was a citizen of the world. So everyone was his neighbor, a member of his world, and he must be seeking to do good for all.

On the other hand, Plato clearly approved of war. (See the Republic.) In war, not only do we harm people, we desire to kill them, and to kill their culture. We do this, clearly, in order to preserve our own culture, and what is good in that culture.

So it would seem that on some occasions, it is not only desirable but necessary to do harm to select groups of people. Who might those people be? Clearly, people who are dangerous to what is good in our culture.

Bad ethics drive out good. I'd love to have a decent world. But a world in which we act with civility is a world where Donald Trump and his ilk destroy everything that is good in our country in order to fill their own pockets and feed their own egos.

That's not a compromise I'm willing to make.

See also this:

ETA: Yes, this:

Friday, October 02, 2020

Well, Well, Well, If It Isn't the Consequences of my Own Actions

 Trump has tested positive for Covid-19. 

We might want to remember that, at the debate, both he and his family defied the rules at the Cleveland Clinic and refused to wear masks.

He also mocked Biden for wearing a mask, and for practicing social distancing at Biden rallies.

"We've had no negative consequences," he said, about his own rallies, ignoring the fact that many people have become ill and several have died. Not "real" people like him, I guess, so in his point of view it doesn't matter.

I can predict the future: Trump will have an extremely mild case. He will recover easily. (90% of people do.) He will use this to continue lying to the American people, claiming Covid-19 is not dangerous, is no more than the "sniffles," that masks are not necessary, and that "hardly anyone" dies from it.

His cult will be screeching (okay, they've already begun screeching) that this is a liberal plot, that Soros infected him deliberately, probably through an Antifa agent.

Fox News and Tucker Carlson especially will spend hours pontificating (providing no evidence whatsoever) about "Leftists" "celebrating" Trump's illness. 

Meanwhile, the GOP continues to ignore guidelines: they don't social distance, they don't wear masks, they continue to believe that they are immune and only "those" people get the virus.

ETA: See also this: