’19 A To Z Challenge – E

 

Letter E

AtoZ2019

 

Canada’s entertainment has (almost) caught up to the USA’s.

First, we dumped cable TV, as content deteriorated, and prices soared. Later we ditched satellite TV, when their charges approached Cable’s. We have YouTube as part of our internet package. The wife signed up for Netflix – considerably cheaper than either of the other two. Later, she enrolled in Amazon Prime, which not only gives us advantages with the increasing number of things that we purchase online, but provides another cheap platform for videos.

I watched episodes of Babylon 5 on TVs in Detroit hotels, five years before it became available on Canadian television. About 3 years ago BrainRants made me aware of an epic series, on SyFy in the US. We couldn’t access it here, but I began reading the 7-book series about The

Leviathan Wakes

Expanse

I have read the first three books, with the 4th on order. Each book becomes a year’s series. So far, the first 3 seasons are available on Amazon Prime. Pleasantly, the wife finds that she likes it. We have watched though the first season, and into the second. They are big, 700-page books. I’d better get reading, to stay ahead of the Canadian video releases.

Are there any other sci-fi fans out there, also watching this series? What do you think of it? Many TV series, including science fiction are consecutive; what happens in this week’s episode occurs after what happened in last week’s, but usually has no direct connection. This series, like many European series, is sequential. There are some flashbacks, but you can’t miss an episode, or you don’t understand what’s happening next.

I am ecstatic that I finally get to watch The Expanse. Thanx Rants! 😀

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’18 A To Z Challenge – V

surrounded

So, there I was, surrounded by my adoring fans/all the daughter’s pets, when I thought that I should start another A To Z Challenge blog-post when I got home.

glasses

When I got there, I couldn’t see my way clear to actually compose anything, because….  Forget about the dog(s) eating my homework.  The two little #*$@ darlings ate my glasses.  Fortunately, I’ve got an old pair that would suffice, at least until the Optical Surgeon gouged one of my eyes out.

meetings

I finally decided to do a little research on words that begin with the letter V, and found

Velleity

noun, plural vel·le·i·ties.

  1. volition in its weakest form.
  2. a mere wish, unaccompanied by an effort to obtain it.

Well, I’ve already lost the chance to claim it, because I’ve researched and downloaded it.  At least the definition doesn’t say anything about procrastination or laziness.  Throw in a couple of cheap and easy graphics, and that’s all I have to say about the letter V.  If you don’t like it, tough luck.

no fucks

I ordered a big shipment of motivation from Amazon, but it was delayed by the Christmas rush.  It just arrived, so I’ll do much better in a couple of weeks, for the letter W.  See you then.  😀

Flash Fiction #157

Amazon

PHOTO PROMPT © Dale Rogerson

CURSES, AMAZONED AGAIN

Poor forlorn shopping mall, not long ago, it was visited and loved by many. It was chock-a-block, cheek-by-jowl with teeming throngs of shoppers.  If you felt someone else’s hand in your pocket, it wasn’t a pickpocket.  It was just the guy beside you trying to reach his wallet.

Sadly, times and technologies change. Now, people buy things they can’t feel, hold, try, or try on, online, and little toy helicopters deliver them to your door.  I miss the milling crowds, almost as much as the forlorn mall merchants do.  At least I can get a parking space near the door.

***

Go to Rochelle’s Addicted to Purple site and use her Wednesday photo as a prompt to write a complete 100 word story.

***

As a personal pat on my own back, today’s 100-word Flash Fiction is my number 900 published blog-post.  I know of a couple of bloggers who have been at this for over 10 years.  At least one of them has surpassed the 2000 mark.  Plod, plod, plod, I am better than the May-flies who flutter in and die after a few posts, or the uncommitted, who post “I know I haven’t published anything in over a year…”

Friday Fictioneers

Smitty’s Loose Change

Smitty's Loose Change

No more ‘Shotgun’, no more ‘Seinfeld’, no more ‘Triviana’ (at least for a while), I have a new title to list my stream of confused consciousness posts.  This one will be:

#1

***

Number 600

This is my 600th post!  No big deal, I just wanted you to know that I’ve (almost) got over my paranoia about where the next blog-theme is coming from.

***

I finally seem to have got both my mind and my publishing schedule straightened out – three posts a week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. In January, despite it having 31 days, I only published 11 times.  In February, despite it having only 29 days, I assaulted your optic nerves with 13 posts.

***

On March 26/16, I rolled out of bed at the crack of noon, stumbled downstairs wearing socks, YSL briefs and my usual befuddled look. As I was feeding and watering various animals, four-legged and two- legged, there was a discreet knock on my door.  Expecting the neighbor lady, I cracked it open and remained behind it.

I was confronted by a young female who was working with a group to organise a ‘Polar Bear Plunge’. I’m 72, and have to wear socks to bed to keep warm.  They’re going door to door for an April event??  Wha’ happen to a New Years bath?

***

I am on a National Do-Not-Call List, yet still get numerous phone calls from Pakistan where they can’t read Canadian law. Recently, the son added another way to fu….foul them up.

“Hello, could I please speak to the owner of the house?”
“No!  I’m sorry, he’s in jail right now.”
“Uh…. then who is speaking please?”
“I’m a bail-bondsman, doing an assessment so that we can repossess this place.”
…. Click!

***

When we bought this house, 15 years ago, it was owned as a place-holder, by a young newly-wed couple. They were having a house built in the next city, where he hoped to get on with the fire department.  Three years later, as the son was driving to work over there, he hit a patch of black ice, and got tee-boned.  His first words when he called to tell us, were, “The airbags work.”

A young fireman climbed into the back seat to support his neck (just in case) and also to provide emotional support. “Where ya from?” “Kitchener.” “Yeah, I lived in Kitchener for a while.” And the little light went on.  “Is your name Carl?  Is your wife’s name Cindy?  Did you used to live at xx  XXXX  Crescent?” Who are you, and how have you been reading my mail? “Yeah, we bought your house.  So, you made it into the Fire Department?  Thanks for coming out.”

***

I have to walk a block to pick up my mail at a community mailbox. We are getting to know Mr. Amazon really well – books, Keurig coffee pods, Puffs tissues with lotion, which don’t seem to be available in stores anymore.  Sometimes, with the mail, is a key to a larger, parcel box.  I remove the package and drop the key back in the mail slot.

I recently found a key, even though I wasn’t aware of anyone expecting anything. When I got home, I read the label, to know which co-conspirator to give it to, and found a sample pack of Similac baby food, addressed to Cindy.  Fifteen years we’ve been here.  She’s still havin’ kids, and giving out the same old, wrong address??!

***

I aided my computerless brother in getting tickets and lodging for The Brier, Canada’s big curling finale, in Ottawa. He took along his friend Norm, to split on gasoline and hotel expenses, thereby saving $625 over a nine-day stay.  When he called me with the details, he vowed that, if he ever goes again, he’ll do it solo, or find another partner.

I’ve written of Norm before. He’s a great believer in the ’24 hours in a day – 24 beers in a case’ credo.  My father said he’d never seen Norm without a beer in his hand – never drunk….but never sober.

One day, Norm insisted that they cross the river into Quebec, to get some cheap beer.  Beer in Ontario is $40.99/24case, or $1.71 each.  In Gatineau they put them 4 by 5 on a cardboard tray, stack three trays high, shrink-wrap 60 beers to a cube, and sell them for $61.  Add a bit of tax, and a 5 cent/can deposit that he’ll never get back, and each 55 pound lot cost him $73.00, or $1.21 each.

He bought 8 bundles, spending $584 to save $240 on 480 cans, or almost 500 pounds of beer, enough to last him a month or so.  They almost took the wheels off the hotel’s luggage cart when they moved it into their room.  Now the brother knows why he insisted on driving his new Ford F-150.

Book Review #10

Refuting Evolution  Refuting Evolution 2

I bought the above two books for a variety of reasons. First, I got them for $1.50/each.  That’s almost free reading.  Second, added to some books the wife was ordering, the invoice totalled over $25, so the shipping was free.  A third reason was to ‘know thy enemy.’ Last but not least, was the fact that the author is a scientist, and a PhD, and might actually have some valid information that I was not aware of.

The first book is titled Refuting Evolution.  The second, in case you didn’t ‘get it’ the first time, is Refuting Evolution 2, which isn’t really what he does in either book.  I’ve had operators’ manuals for a toaster oven that were longer than the 132-page first book.  Oh well, it only cost a buck and a half.

What he does, or tries to do and fails, is refute well-known evolutionists. He puts words in their mouths, then tries to argue against.  ‘Christopher Hitchens said this about that – but he’s wrong, and I’m right.’  No he didn’t!  And No you’re not!  ‘Richard Dawkins said that, but he means this – to agree with me.’  No he doesn’t.

For an author with a PhD, the cognitive dissonance is thick. He believes in mutations, and natural selection – but not evolution.  A God who created the universe in six days, 7000 years ago is okay – but a God who created the same universe 14 Billion years ago and is guiding its development, isn’t.

While not very good at actually refuting anything, he is quite adept at slinging dismissive language. Friends and scientists who agree with his views, are ‘renowned’, and ‘esteemed’, while Richard Dawkins is merely ‘well-known’.  Am I being finicky if I read that as equivalent to ‘known to police’?  Evolutionary scientists are referred to as ‘the Communist Atheist, Mr. X’ and ‘the Marxist Atheist, Mr. Y.’

Two other of his oft-repeated denial phrases are, ‘particles to people’, and ‘molecules to man.’ His own published fact that 95% of biologists believe in evolution is not a case of the people closest to the situation knowing the most about it; it must be an Atheist Conspiracy.

He claims The Church wasn’t wrong when they declared that the Earth was flat, and the center of creation, and that all orbits were perfect circles.  They had all the facts, but they merely interpreted them incorrectly.  Galileo wasn’t threatened with torture by the Catholic Church…well, he was, but that was because of a bunch of secular politicians who hated him.  (Wait!  Did he just admit that the Pope and the entire Church were led around by the nose by a bunch of bureaucrats?  I find that harder to believe than Creationism.)

He says that the Ptolemaic, flat-Earth, geocentric stuff in the Bible comes from Psalms – but that’s not really ‘the Bible’, that’s just Hebrew poetry, and – it’s been misinterpreted.  Really?  Who could have seen that coming?

He’s pretty good at ‘interpreting’ things too. If an Evolutionist says, ‘be careful how this information is released’, knowing that there are nuts like him out there who will react badly, he’s all over it, claiming that it must be a lie. If a Paleontologist admits that a fossil of an expected transitional form has not yet been found, he claims that it’s because one does not exist.

If scientists don’t have the answer to every question yet, you shouldn’t believe anything they say.  Trust in him, because he has the same answer to every question, drawn from faith in only one book of the Bible, Genesis, which he is constantly interpreting.

Putting words in people’s mouths again, he says that Evolutionists claim that we came from simple aquatic beings like jellyfish – yet no-one has ever found a jellyfish fossil. No, and no-one has ever found the grape Jell-O my kid spilled on the sidewalk last week, just before it rained.  He says we killed millions of buffalo (bison) on the plains last century, but no-one has ever found a buffalo fossil.  I guess if you categorically deny that something happened, you don’t bother to find out how.

The same day that I read his claim that turtles were created in their present form by GOD, because there were no fossils of any transitional form, I read that they had found a transitional-form turtle fossil in the mountains of Germany.  He denies that any fossils were created by sand turning into sandstone through sedimentation, because a few have been found giving birth, or eating.  “They’d have just moved out of the way.” as if they could just sidestep an opening sinkhole, or a flash flood, or a collapsing riverbank, and were later buried in silt.

Like the bumblebee which can’t fly, he mathematically ‘proves’ that the number of mutational occurrences necessary to arrive at Man, would have taken 85 Billion years, not the 4.5 Billion Evolutionists claim.

My Statistics professor stated that, “Figures lie, and liars figure.” The above might be true, if they happened one at a time. On any given day, it is estimated that there are 86,000 lightning strikes, about half of them over the ocean.  It was probably more than twice that, when the atmosphere and seas were still thick with chemicals.  Possibilities for that energy to fuse some of them into a primitive type of protein occurred simultaneously, dozens of times every second.

The other thing Mr. Scientist got wrong, is that statistics say that there may be 85 billion chances, but it doesn’t have to go all the way to the last one to happen. Life may have arisen on the hundredth, or the tenth, or even the first time.

It wasn’t long before I was reading just for entertainment and amusement. He got a rant about atomic deterioration wrong on a scale of 10/7th power, a minor mistake which would have blasted the Earth to dust.  The second book is a bit longer than the first, but he offers no new arguments, just the same old ones, only SHOUTED LOUDER, and repeated more often.

These books are printed and distributed from six places in the world, Australia, New Zealand, England, Kansas/USA, Japan (?), and five miles away, in our sister city, Waterloo, Ontario. I’m a bit worried.  Are Mennonites involved?   😕

Book Review #6

MAGIC

Years ago, when I began reading science fiction, I was a nuts-and-bolts, spaceships-and-rayguns sci-fi fan.  Then a couple of my favored authors (both female) slipped into sword and sorcery.  I tried to follow, but I guess my structured, logical mind just didn’t wanna go there.  There seemed no “basis” for magic.  It just was, take it or leave it.  I left it.

Fast forward 40 years.  Times, and technology, and therefore writing, have changed.  In the last couple of years, the son has introduced me to four different sci-fi series wherein magic exists.  Quantum mechanics/entanglement and cosmic energy, along with parallel dimensions, justify magic, at least to me.

The last for me to read is from an author listed as Ilona Andrews.  It’s actually a husband and wife team.  She’s Ilona.  He’s Andrew.  She’s Russian.  He’s American.  No seductive superspy or licence to kill, she came to San Francisco to attend university, and they met at an English Composition course, where she outscored him.  (Where’s a licence to kill when you really need one?)   She writes the romance/sex/magic, and he takes care of guns, knives, bombs, vehicles and martial arts.

The son had acquired numbers 1, 3, and 5.  Recently he let Amazon fill in numbers 2 and 4, and number 6 will soon be released.  I’ll add them to my to-be-read pile, and get to them some time next year.

Two other series are both by the same author, Larry Correia.  The Hard Magic group are set in the Roaring Twenties era, a Raymond Chandler-esque alternate-history with Tommy gun-toting hoods, and airships instead of planes.  All people range from zero to adept at telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation etc.  Only a rare few can synthesize control over more than one talent.

His Monster Hunter series is modern-day and assumes the existence of werewolves, vampires, orcs and the like.  Silver-bullet armed groups are paid by the government to keep these away from the general population.  Non-threatening species like elves and gnomes are merely confined to reservations which resemble redneck trailer parks.  Social commentary, anyone?

The last group are the ones I’m going to (finally) review.  A female author has written several books intended for adolescent readers, but in doing so, perhaps unknowingly or unintentionally, she has written above expectations, and produced some adult-grade statements.

The Author – Wen Spencer

The Book(s) – Tinker – Wolf Who Rules – Elfhome

1-Tinker 2-Wolf Who Rules

3-Elfhome

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Review

I’m reviewing three books, because this trilogy of 550-page stories is actually one extended tale across several summer and fall months.  They can be read as stand-alone books.  Each one is carefully ended, but enjoyment and comprehension of #2 and #3 are greatly enhanced by the previous back-story.

Magic, in these stories, like cosmic rays, is ubiquitous, needing only to be gathered and controlled.  Small groups of parallel dimensions hang like bunches of tomatoes on a vine.  Those closest to the stalk receive the most magical power.  Poor Earth hangs out at the very end, receiving just enough to make magic the stuff of myths and legends.

Apparently a native of Pittsburgh, Spencer puts all of the action there.  Magic does what technology does, only faster, better, more powerfully.  Technology can harness magic, if you know how and where.  The magic is directed with crystals, or computer-printed spell sheets.  Of course, it can also be controlled with hand and arm postures, and initiated with voice vibrations, spell words, like the Weirding-module guns in Frank Herbert’s Dune book and movie.

Our teenage heroine’s grandfather produced a satellite which unwittingly causes the city to cycle from Earth to an alternate-Earth known as Elfhome.  On each such tomato-Earth in the bunch, a different, though similar, set of flora and fauna have evolved, with a different race at the top of the food-chain.

The magic-rich Elves, while not exactly immortal, live thousands of years.  There’s a world where sauroids learned to use magic, and essentially became intelligent dragons.  They, and others, can move from world to world.

The author is entranced with Asian culture.  She has the heroine in another book move to Japan to become a writer.  Aside from the action, these stories are much in the vein of Jonathan Swift’s, Gulliver’s Travels.  She uses satire and lampoon as social comment, to show the strengths and weaknesses of various cultures.

The regal and genteel, one-child-per-century Elves are the Japanese.  While they make a great show of manners, they are locked into a royal court and cultural rut, too slow to deal with the rapid social changes that inter-world travel has brought to them.  Everyone has their place, but, like the caste-ridden India, there is often no-one to fill newly-produced places.

The ill-mannered, pig-based Onihida, breeding faster than rabbits, busily consuming and corrupting their own world, as well as others, are the Chinese.  The diverse half-breeds are the Americans, able to use the magic to sprout wings and fly like birds, or trail like bloodhounds.

These are the tales of a wrecking-yard-owning Pittsburgh Cinderella, who rescues, and in turn is rescued by, her Elfin Prince Charming.  She uses quick wit and genius level intelligence to defeat the bad guys and save the day.  Through them all, the author cogently notes where our societies have come from, and where they might be going.

I found them good, solid reading, with lots of action and plot twists, and a reflection of life.