Book Review #24

I just read the most sumptuous book.  It was as rich and satisfying as a slab of red velvet cake.

The book: The Boat of a Million Years

The author: Poul Anderson

The review: There are only seven story plots.  All of the millions of novels are just variations and combinations on those themes.  This one is a reworking of the movie Highlander, which was released 2 years before this was published in 1989.  I got a cheap 2004 Kindle re-release, while I was COVID-isolating.  The immortals can be killed.  It’s just that they heal quickly and totally.  They survive and recover from, wounds that would slay a normal person.

It’s ‘like’ a time-travel novel, but the travel is all from past, to the future.  Perhaps once per century, a person is born who does not age and die.  Unlike the Off With Her Head movie story, this book is about survival.  The author wants to show that, while these people are different from the rabble in one way, they are quite the same in others, and different from each other.

It is not at all like several other ‘ray-guns and space-ships’ books of this author’s that I have.  He treads lightly, but shows the historical foolishness of religions, when viewed over hundreds, or thousands of years

The most common, though not universal, drive is to find others of their kind.  A Turkish trader in post-Roman Britain spends parts of several decades finding an immortal Norse warrior.  When he finally locates him, he offers him partnership in a safe venture and way of life that will guarantee them both great wealth and political power.  The Viking turns him down, and walks away.  Several years later, he hears that the berserker died in an epic battle.

It takes over a century for a Mesopotamian ship-fleet owner to locate another male.  When he does, the outgoing extrovert is dismayed to find a reclusive milquetoast who is content to follow, and allow someone else to make decisions and take care of him.

Some of the men make the obvious search for females of their kind, for wives/companions, and to find if two immortals would produce immortal offspring.  They don’t.  After several more centuries, the pair locate an immortal woman in Rome.  Pointing out the gender inequality, she has advanced from prostitute, to madam, to courtesan, where she creates great wealth through pillow-talk investments.

Even before computers, birth certificates or accurate census forms, it was not a good idea to remain in one location with one name, for more than a couple of decades, lest the superstitious populace grow suspicious.  The trader suggests that they move back to Nineveh, or Tyre, and sells off his ships and cargoes, converting them to a more easily transported chest, full of gold and jewels.  Her history made her distrust all men, so she betrays them.  The two men escape with their lives, but lose the fortune which takes the one a century to recoup.

This is a psychological and sociological account.  With no ‘action’ to spur the plot, there is no urgency to rush this deep and lengthy book along.  The author has the time and opportunity to compose it like a story from the Golden Age of Literature, of a hundred or two-hundred years ago.  It is rich, luxurious, and full-bodied.

The construction was intriguing and complex, occasionally non-linear.  The history and geography were informative, well-researched, and wide-ranging.  The words were substantive, and often archaic.  There was hardly a page where I wasn’t poking the Kindle screen for a definition.  Words and phrases like, limned, bedizened courtesan, uxorious, an austere magus, lineaments, indolent insolence and caparisoned, peered from almost every page.  For a word-nerd like me, it was Nirvana.

Reading this book was like wearing a silk shirt and walking barefoot across a Persian carpet, while eating a filet mignon.  It was rewarding and satisfying on several simultaneous levels.  I was delighted with the social and personal insights that the mere-mortal author provided.

I Feel Great

I have been ‘Grand’ for decades, but I just found out that I’ll soon be getting a promotion to ‘Great.’

After getting everyone’s forehead blasted with a phaser infrared thermometer, we had the daughter, and her son and wife over for a long overdue, COVID-prevented family meal and visit.

The grandson and his wife provided the dessert – warm, soft, deep-dish brownies, with either French Vanilla ice cream, or coconut-flavored whipped cream.  Before they brought that out, they served up something much sweeter.  They had news that they’d held for almost four months, until they were sure, and had the chance to reveal it to the two older generations, all at the same time.  They are pregnant (Well, she is.) with their first.

The Grandson married a bonnie lass with a good Scottish heritage.  She doesn’t so much have a bun in the oven, as a solid serving of haggis.  Here is an image of their wee bairn, a Scotch egg, building up power to burst forth and amaze the world, as the first in the next generation of the NSFW Clan.

The kilt is still a bit long.  It will be a few more months before we know whether we will get a bagpiper or a Scottish dancer.  You just know that I will keep you informed.

The wife says that she is willing to start being called Gigi – GGGreat-Grandmother.  I think I’ll just stick with Archon, or G.O.D.   😀  😀

Wrong For The Right Reasons

dinosaur

A very atypical Christian Apologist published a post where he admitted that he accepted that the Universe came into existence 13.8 Billion years ago, and the Earth and the Solar system coalesced about 4.5 Billion years ago. He believed in Evolution but, desperate to keep his God’s fingers in, he posited a Creator which nudged and guided Earth’s development, until Mankind reached the exalted pinnacle.

***

I could believe in a Creator like this. The 2 problems are; such a being would not need or want, to be worshiped, obeyed, or called “God.” Second, it would not be the omnipotent, create everything in a snap of a non-existent finger, prayer-answering, miracle producing, sin-punishing “God” that most Christians (especially Apologists) believe in.

***

Why would such a being not want to be recognized as what he is: God? And if he made everything to work a certain way, why would he not want us to avoid screwing that order up and breaking things, i.e., obey him?

Also, if he has the power to create all things, which would imply that he has the power to make things be different than they are, wouldn’t this constitute at least some loose sense of “omnipotent”?

***

I am amused, but confused, with your use of the phrase, “loose sense of ‘omnipotent.” This joins ‘a little bit pregnant,’ and ‘partly dead!’ It’s either/or, yes or no, it either is, or it isn’t.

What you have described is a version of the ‘Watchmaker God,’ wind the Universe up, and let it run, or the ‘Power-Steering God,’ which lets existence pilot itself. You have invented a Gardener God. Actually, perhaps ‘He’ is not God. Perhaps ‘It’ is not omnipotent, and is unable to create the Earth and mankind instantly, through ‘magic’, but only through careful tending. Maybe this creature (not ‘The Creator’) is fertilizing and planting Someone else’s garden.

It is not the all-powerful Being, who wants – needs – demands – to be blindly obeyed, and worshipped as “God.” Do ants in an ant farm worship the little boy whose bedroom they are in? Does a tulip pray to the gardener, to become a rose? Would the gardener hear? Or care? Or be willing or capable to do it?? What you have described is not ‘God,’ but merely a being with more knowledge and power than we have – yet.

Why would you specify a predetermined order, and fear altering it? The purpose of doing, is learning. Change, and variety, is good. The wife raised some pepper plants on our deck. In one large planter, along with six jalapenos, we had a big tomato plant, apparently from a seed in the compost. It wasn’t wrong. It didn’t need to be controlled, or corrected. It was an interesting and educational occurrence. Vive le BLT!   😀

One Jackass – Or Two?

Jackass

An Old Man and His Mule

An old man walked up and tied his old mule to the hitching post. As he stood there, brushing some of the dust from his face and clothes, a young gunslinger stepped out the saloon with a gun in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other.

The young gunslinger looked at the old man and laughed, “Hey old man, have you ever danced?”

The old man looked up at the gunslinger and said, “No,… I never did dance… never really wanted to.”

A crowd had gathered as the gunslinger grinned and said, “Well, you old fart, you’re gonna dance now,” and started shooting at the old man’s feet.

The old prospector — not wanting to get his toe blown off — started hopping around. Everybody was laughing. When his last bullet had been fired, the young gunslinger, still laughing, holstered his gun and turned around to go back into the saloon.

The old man turned to his pack mule, pulled out a double-barreled shotgun, and cocked both hammers. The loud clicks carried clearly through the desert air, and the crowd stopped laughing immediately.

The young gunslinger heard the sounds, too, and he turned around very slowly. The silence was almost deafening. The crowd watched as the young gunman stared at the old man and the large gaping holes of the twin barrels.

The barrels of the shotgun never wavered in the old man’s hands, as he quietly said, “Son, have you ever kissed a mule’s ass?”

The gunslinger swallowed hard and said, “No Sir… But I’ve always wanted to.”

There are five lessons here for all of us:

  1. Never be arrogant.
  2. Don’t waste ammunition.
  3. Whiskey makes you think you’re smarter than you are.
  4. Always make sure you know who has the power.
  5. Don’t mess with old people, they didn’t get old by being stupid.

 

Flash Fiction #159

Mammon

PHOTO PROMPT ©Jill Wisoff

 

MAMMON INC.

Buddy Bob was railing about politicians, and how they interfere with our lives, especially financially – laws, rulings, regulations, taxes, duties, levies, tariffs – control our every move, and milk us dry.

I told him that he was right – in a way – but it all started here.  Politicians are just the mouthpiece, the head of the ventriloquist’s dummy.  This is corporate America, the center of the real power behind the throne.

You don’t think Donald Trump got elected on his intellect and wit.  Those aren’t telephone lines coming from those castles; they’re marionette strings, pulled by the puppet-masters.  Speak Donald!  Dance Donald!

***

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

Silence Is Golden

monitor

The preceding period of peace and quiet has been brought to you by….  MY NEW COMPUTER!

No 100-word Flash Fiction, or even a WOW, this week.  They say that people begin to look like their pets.  Maybe, but my now-old computer was beginning to act far too much like me.  It was sated, stuffed, glutted, over-filled, crammed – over 900 blog-post files, and more pictures than an art gallery.

My poor, old H-P Compaq was almost 7 years old. I got it shortly after I began blogging, and even published a story about being without a computer for three days while it got trained.  Never terribly powerful to begin with, it has become subject to Moore’s Law, which says that power doubles every 2 years.

In dog– computer-years, it was…  let’s see.  Holy Crap, it’s pterodactyl-time.  The thing was older than me, practically prehistoric!  We considered adding more RAM and/or memory, but it would be like ‘souping up’ an old car.  We’d be putting soup in a sieve.  My new Acer has 10 times the process strength, and 2 terabytes of memory.

The old Compaq was like me after a big meal, just sitting there, mumbling to itself, and not really accomplishing anything.  I asked the son to have it do a complete security scan, when he arrived home in the morning.  We wouldn’t be getting out of bed for 2 or 3 hours.

On his computer, that would take an hour/hour-and-a-half.  Like a contented cow chewing its cud, it sat there, happily burbling away for over 9 ½ hours, stealing most of a day’s work time from me.  Finally – ‘Can I go to WordPress now?’  Moooo.

It’s been another 3 days without a computer, and I’m getting trained on lots of new (to me) computer tricks.  I know enough to be able to retrieve Word files, and publish them on my blogsite.  My new electronic best-friend is doing things much quicker.  Just don’t expect the quality of the posts to improve.  By Monday we’ll be back on schedule with the A To Z – Challenge post for the letter C.  I hope to C you there.  🙂

Spam I Am

Spam 2

In my Spamalot post, I claimed that I don’t get any interesting spams to make fun of.

Caution – dirty words

  1. JeanneTunty says:

September 2, 2017 at 4:27 am  (Edit)

Hello Fuck me like a slut and cum on my face my nickname (Lidochka35)

Copy the link and go to me… bit.ly/2wBKSBp

8667837957926

I’d like to say, ‘Finally, an interesting Spam.’, but actually, this illiterate, (Aren’t they all?) illicit one got past the Akismet filter, and dropped on one of my posts. Sadly, back in the spam filter, there are a bunch of her ‘soiled dove’ sisters, and lots of offers of drugs that aid in dealing with her suggestions.

There are 78 spam comments in my file today. Apparently, they have built up. I don’t often look at them, because they will automatically disappear in 14 days, but a storm-generated power outage blip had me restarting my computer, and signing back in to WordPress, and that’s where you get dropped.

(Two weeks later, there are 61 today. Surprisingly, the mix has shifted to Nike and Converse. Offering me athletic shoes is like giving a dog a driver’s licence. Ain’t gonna happen! Like the son, recently, at work….The boss said, “Hop up on that platform and clear the blockage.” The son said to him, “Look at me! I’m 6’ –2”. I weigh 275 pounds. I don’t HOP anywhere. I might crawl up – and roll off when I’m done.”)

I believe that they are attracted, like moths to a flame, by words in the title. Many of them, like the one above, are for porn. Of the 78, more than a dozen each arrived addressed to ‘Hot-Damn Hotrod,’ the hot damn being profanity. More were directed to ‘Criminal Assholed’, a two more profane-words title directed at English misusage. Another dozen or so washed up against ‘A View Of Islam’, a controversial, redneck-type label. I guess if I talk dirty, I gotta expect the spammers to talk dirty back.

At first I wondered about the quantity of spam, offering porn. Surely, I thought, there are tons of guys looking for naked chicks. (And donkeys, and Ukrainian midgets….and other stuff I don’t want to think about) But, it’s ‘supply and demand’, and there’s a lot more supply than there is demand, so that every ‘one’ potential customer counts.

A young man, walking downtown, notices a friend of his standing near a corner. As he drew near he heard his friend stop an attractive young woman, and ask, “Excuse me, would you like to fuck?” “Of course not!” and she slapped his face.

As he got nearer, his friend stopped another pretty lady going the other way and asked the same thing….and again got his face slapped. When he reached his friend he asked, “Why would you ask them that? Don’t you get your face slapped a lot?”

“Yes”, he replied wistfully, “but it only takes one…”

 

30 Day Challenge – A Day At A Time

Another Challenge

Four Fun Facts – 50 Things About Me/My Blog – Reading Challenge – 30 Day Challenge There are all kinds of memes out there that bloggers are seizing, to both give them a blog-theme, and to connect with their readers.  Sometimes the challenge reveals more about the person who compiled it than it does about those who choose to use it.

I’m surprised that the person who drew up the above list was able to finish it before they were arrested outside someone’s bedroom window, or had to rush off to their weekly psychotherapy appointment. So, with appropriate trigger-warnings, and suitably evasive diplomatic wording, I plan to work my way down the list, a couple of items at a time.

#1 – Weird things you do when you’re alone – Which is tied to
#14 – Something disgusting you do

Politically Incorrect

The compiler of this list really needs some mental health aid. “Oh no you don’t!!  Just because I keep my curtains drawn, you don’t get to ask shit like that.”  The first question is about weird things – ‘things’ – plural, as if we all have a list of questionable personal activities.  He sneaks back in at #14, by upping the ante to ‘something disgusting.’

I have a note here “Suffrage = Power” which, at this long-forgotten date, I take to mean more than merely the right to vote. I believe that I meant more like Christ’s quote, “Suffer the little children to come unto me.”  I think I want to be allowed (suffered) to do whatever I want in the privacy of my own home/life, as long as I actively harm no-one else.

Then the English Nazi/amateur psychologist takes over, and asks who gets to decide what I, or anyone else, do, that can be considered ‘weird’ or ‘disgusting.’ Some people consider the word ‘moist’, disgusting.  Compared to that, I’m normal.  I march to the beat of a different flautist, because I feel that much of mankind is weird.

I’m never ‘alone’, to do anything weird. All the voices in my head see to that.  ‘Does your brother talk to himself when he’s alone?? I don’t know.  I’ve never been with him when he was alone.’  If I were, I would not be judgemental.  I think that expecting others to bare their soul, and openly admit their peccadilloes, is both weird, and a bit disgusting.  I’m saving my weird and disgusting revelations for my upcoming autobiography, the one that Steven King is ghost-writing.

Stop back again, perhaps next month, when I insult crazy people again, and answer another prompt or two. 😛

WOW #12

The Word Of this Week is

green-collar

Definitions for green-collar

noting or pertaining to workers, jobs, or businesses that are involved in protecting the environment or solving environmental problems.

a green-collar worker. Also, green collar.

Origin of green-collar

1990-1995

Green-collar entered English in the early 1990s. It’s based on the model of blue-collar and white-collar, with the green element coming from the sense “environmentally sound or beneficial.”

See also; boondoggle, porkbarreling, social engineering, featherbedding,

While most of the words in the English language are hundreds, or thousands of years old, it is interesting to see technology cause the invention of new ones within our lifetimes.

I am all for green energy, and saving the planet – BUT….let the politicians get their hands on it, and we’re all fu….bar-ed.  About 5 years ago, I wrote of having to pay for the privilege of being one of the first users in Ontario to have a time-of-usage, smart electrical meter installed.

Ontario was having brown-outs. We were right at the edge, between generation capacity and usage.  We were told not to do laundry, or run our dishwashers during the day.  Wait till night-time, when industrial usage goes down, pay less per KwH, and Conserve, Conserve, Conserve!

We conserved….and the total income of Ontario Hydro went down, and the big bosses’ pay and bonuses were in jeopardy, so they raised the rates. With higher rates, we learned to use even less….and the total income dropped, so they raised the rates again, and ended the time-of-use difference.

A couple of nuclear stations, and hydro plants like Niagara were being upgraded. With reduced cash flow, soon a large debt built up.  The bosses added a ‘debt reduction charge’ to our bills.  I pay an extra $10/mo.  It was ‘temporary,’ like that 100-year-old temporary Income Tax.  5 years later, the debt is retired, but still we pay.  To cover the costs of their own inefficiency, the bosses added a ‘power distribution charge’ to our bills.  I pay another, extra $30/mo. whether electricity flows, or not, as owners of cottages and cabins which are closed-up for six months have found.

Wind Turbine

Desperate to look like they were solving a problem, the Provincial Government signed 25 year contracts for Green Energy. The wind turbines and fields full of solar panels that I also wrote about 5 years ago, were just the beginning.

Since then, the Government has forced the towers into dozens of locations where they are not wanted – and may be dangerous. Often placed so close to housing subdivisions or farm buildings that, if they fell, they’d just miss houses or barns, they continue to grind on.  They produce ground-conducted sub-sonic vibrations which cause headaches, nausea, and vertigo in many people and animals.

Ignoring the wasteful bureaucratic administration costs, nukes can produce power at about 4 cents/KwH. Water can do it for about 5 cents.  Solar and wind power costs us almost 25 cents/KwH.  The nukes and Niagara are back, running at increased capacity.  We are now awash in a sea of abundant electricity.  Having learned to conserve, we now have so much unused electric power that we sell off the excess, including the expensive green, to Quebec and the US for 3.5 cents/KwH!

In the last ten years, the cost of electricity in Ontario has risen by 50%, bankrupting or closing many small businesses, and causing larger ones to move where power is cheaper. It was a strong deciding factor which caused the closing of my last employer.  Gee, thanks politicians – not!

Going Green may be the way to save the planet, but if it’s happening near you, keep one hand on your wallet, and the other on your ballot. Keep the Pols away from it.  I know that private corporations have to make money, but too many Governments waste, lose or just throw our money away.

Flash Fiction # 110

sewing-machine

PHOTO PROMPT © Sandra Crook

LOOKIN’ SEW GOOD

Grandma had the best legs in town. (That didn’t sound creepy or perverted, did it?)

I asked her one time how she kept them so trim and muscular. With nine kids, she saved money by making clothes on the old, treadle sewing machine.

Grandpa saved, and finally bought her an electric model. The first time the power failed, the old antique got lugged back down from the attic.  “Besides,” grandma explained, “that wimpy little motor can’t handle leather or denim.  How do you think I got the most gorgeous gams?”

Grandpa just grinned.
I think I need some brain bleach.

***

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