All of my (published) stories. Unless I forgot something.

How To Black Friday

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You can shop any day. Deals aren’t worth suffering for.

Whether you’re fishing or reading a book or hugging your loved ones, an extra-cheap television or whatever isn’t better. It’s not even equal. It’s a distant, distant 47th place behind all the other things that actually make you happy and make your life a genuinely better place to inhabit.

Bioasis

If you haven’t already seen it, the largest grasshopper I have seen in the city in many years is perched on the brown cattail in the foreground. On what the “let’s spite the liberals by pooping where we eat” crowd would call a ‘hippie-dippy waste of money,’ a patch of wetland the size of a small above-ground swimming pool nestled between parking lots of a local hospital along a rainwater drainage path.

Yep, it probably cost a few bucks to put it there and costs a few to maintain it.

Well, we’re creatures of nature and it does us good to see a little soft, verdant goodness among the hard, uncaring glass and stone and steel. Humans do not live by asphalt alone, nor should they.

I wish we had many more of those little biological oases in the city.

Making The World’s Sexiest Sausage Patty Melts BRB

I mean, just look at ’em.

The electric skillet is set on 275 so they’re taking forever but they’re getting so perfect and toasty and melty.

The Great Solar System War

Just as there’s a “circle of life,” there’s a circle of war. And we’re gonna get circled if we let current events barrel along as they are — I do see people conscious of how interesting the times have become, and speaking out about the dangers (shout out to global climate change, which is co-morbid with what I’m going to say here), and that’s good. Hopeful. But.

75ish years after World War II, the circle seems to be coming around again. Pseudo-Nazis and actual Nazis and assorted bigoted pro-genocide and pro-authoritarian types who might technically not be Nazis or pseudo-Nazis but are so close that WTF is the difference are upset there’s not enough evil and hate and murder in the world and are standing up in droves to demand more evil and hate and murder.

And millions of dipshits, the Dipshit-in-Chief at their head, shrug and say “well, all they’ve done is say they want to destroy our civilization and murder millions of people we can’t object… in fact, I’m kind of cool with it because I dislike some of the people they want to mass-murder… and I’m sure some of them are “very fine people.”

The wheel turns, and it is fashionable to think that nuclear weapons aren’t a big deal and NOBODY is talking about biological weapons anymore because that’s so 1990s who would even do that old-fashioned stuff. Except I’ve got a funny feeling there’s some Captain Trips in test tubes here and there because who throws out a perfectly good weapon after paying all that money to develop it?

Sigh.

I just KNOW World War III is going to break out the same day I sell enough writing to live on for the first time.

That’d be just my luck, you dirty old world.

Insurance Accountants Decide If You Get To Live: A Twitter Rant Followed By A Here Rant

(PATREON PATRONS: I’m sorry this is here and not on Patreon first. Patreon does not support embedding Twitter rants, and I kind of need them there for this one. Sincerely, I’m sorry you didn’t get to see this first, because this is a quality post. I won’t do this often, and I’ll make it up to you. *WRITES FICTION FURIOUSLY*)

I threw some related tweets on at the end. This is our reality in the USA: our care is outrageously expensive — the most expensive in the world by about double the next costliest nation — in order to pay unneeded middlemen: insurance companies. Our prices skyrocket to pay multimillion dollar salaries to the upper ranks of health insurance and health care provider corporations.

And to preserve those bonuses, those same executives slash access to care, are working on slashing the unprofitable right into the grave to make way for healthy people whose insurance costs continue to rise year after year.

Obamacare was better than what we had before. It hindered the ability of insurance company accountants to decide you needed to die to preserve their profits. It slightly dented the steady rise of health insurance premiums, which have continued to outstrip inflation by a mile for at least 30 years.

But before Obamacare was Obamacare, it was (Republican Mitt) Romneycare. It was the GOP counterproposal to universal healthcare, and as such it was designed to protect insurance and healthcare corporation profits at the expense of the lifespans and quality of life of the American people. And it shows.

We pay more as a nation for healthcare, and our lives are growing shorter and sicker. That’s what we’re buying for all that money. That, and a lot of yachts and fat tax-sheltered accounts in the Cayman Islands for fatcats.

But don’t just believe me. Read about our falling lifespans and sicker lives in Bloomberg, which isn’t exactly known for being a liberal rag.

“But,” you might say, “I’ve heard such terrible things about socialized healthcare.”

Sure, you have. I have too. But the simple fact of the matter is that in any nation with per capita or absolute wealth anywhere NEAR the same ballpark as the USA’s, it does a better job making citizens healthy, happy, and productive than our current or past system has managed to do here in the USA.

Here’s a conservative-slanted Forbes article about ten nations with economies considered more free than the US economy, but which have universal healthcare — which as you recall some of our own GOP hysterically calls “slavery.” I’m not agreeing with all the author’s points — but read it anyway. Overall it backs up what I’m saying above, but from another point of view and with some different conclusions that are, perhaps, less shaded by my own life, in which I have lived with a minor congenital hip deformity that has escalated into me needing a cane for mobility for the last six years (I’m only 47, DAMMIT) and suffering significant, life-and-mood-changing chronic pain. And why do I live with this pain and chronic suffering? Because my hip has never been a threatening emergency, so it’s not treatable. What could have been fixed in a couple of hours 20 years ago now requires a hip replacement I won’t get anytime soon unless I break my hip, in which case doctors will have to replace it (so a doctor specializing in hip replacement surgery has told me) because it wouldn’t heal soundly — and in fact is in danger of becoming necrotic (dead and rotting) because all the cartilage is worn away in there and some of the bone, and bone rubbing on bone and slowly grinding itself to death not only HURTS, but it also squeezes blood vessels and threatens the vital blood supply to keep the bone alive in there.

But I rant.

Takeaway: look, I like several aspects of capitalism. I’m trying to sell you books so I can earn money to make my family’s life better (HINT HINT HEY BUY MY BOOKS PLEASE), and so I am a one-person small business.

But NO SYSTEM SOLVES EVERY PROBLEM. Example: do you know why your local big grocery store has great low prices on an enormous selection of food? Because we have an AIEEE EVIL SOCIALIST INTERSTATE SYSTEM that makes trucking all that food to your store WAY faster and cheaper than the privatized equivalent, a chaotic web of toll roads governed by whoever happens to own each 20 mile stretch — even if they could all coordinate their efforts, which they couldn’t. And the AIEEE EVIL SOCIALIST INTERSTATE SYSTEM is safer than trucking my Washington apples the 2,900-ish miles to Norfolk, Virginia over a chaotic web of toll roads each built to a different company standard of composition and safety and not, after all, guarded by AIEEE EVIL SOCIALIST FEDERAL AND STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES, but by whatever hooligans the local privatized road company could scrape together to protect their toll roads, probably by shooting anyone who looks suspicious from long range because, hey, that’s cheaper than taking chances. Nevermind that my Washington apples now cost $50/lb because of all the dead truckers in ditches with rotting loads of apples behind them.

Yeah, I’ve digressed. But you get the point. Pure ideologies suck, and capitalism is no exception. Just as a healthy diet requires diverse foods to meet our bodies’ many requirements, so a healthy nation requires diverse approaches to meet our peoples’ many requirements.

Healthcare doesn’t work well managed purely by capitalism. Like interstate highways, we need to all contribute a bit of our taxes toward creating and preserving a solid system that meets many needs for all our people.

Treehugging Is Good For You

I’ve heard the “treehugger” sneer often enough in my life, and it makes no sense to me.

As if valuing the resources and beauty in nature is bad. As if having some housepride in our common home, Earth, and keeping it looking and functioning well is foolish.

As if simply not metaphorically pooping where we all live and eat is a terrible idea.

As if trashing things is a higher good and leaving a useless garbage pit to our grandchildrens’ grandchildren is wise.

Stop and think, sneerers. And then maybe go out and hug a tree. It feels good.

Thrift Stores: A Geek’s Best Friend

You never know, for example, when you’ll find cool superhero costumes with foam muscles for 3 bucks apiece 😁

The Proper Way To Read A Book…

…is to hold it open with your toe so both your hands are free. Antics and toe courtesy of my middle son, 6 year old Victor, who now often reads the bedtime stories for his little brother Cuinn.

Could You Imagine?

2067: First Major Metro Goes Off National Electric Grid

I’ve taken up tweeting from the future, example above, in addition to my usual political-writing-SciFi-whatevs antics @Tao23.

It keeps me thinking to turn out those tweets on a semi-regular basis. And the tweets can make a great nucleus for future SciFi News Network posts here, AKA my futurist “predictions.” Older posts are formatted to look kind of like actual articles from the future. I’m seeing more posts like this, where I let the Tweetmorrow tweet stand for the future story and then get to speculate and explain like I’m doing now. This is fun.

Predictions in quotes because who knows what monkeywrenches the future could throw into the works? Our pet Trumphole could yet start a nuclear war and derail everything…

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Nothing like trying to provoke a nuclear war in a lame attempt to prove how macho you are, s–t for brains.

…but gee, we’d save his personal pet illusion of his machismo so win-win post-apocalyptic Mad Max hellhole, right?

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50 years seems like a reasonable horizon for a major metro going off-grid and relying on locally generated renewables. Solar, wind, biogas, hydroelectric, geothermal, tidal, and more — there are a lot of options for a city to generate its own local power, and for residences and businesses to take themselves off even the local grid. Batteries like Tesla’s PowerPack (and the residential version, PowerWall) make 24/7 power availability practical even with variables like solar, and small local cooperative grids can increase that support — imagine a neighborhood grid with all the batteries and different forms of power generation contributing. Or a college campus grid. Lots of possibilities.

In the lead story of my Closer Than You Think collection, One More For The Road, the protagonist drives into an isolated, long-off-grid town on its own local grid, with nearly every home and business sending up one or more combo wind turbine and solar collector on a long mast, evoking a field of glittering flowers in her imagination. The masts are even retractable to avoid damage in strong winds and storms. They stand tall and slender in light breezes, short and stout in heavy blows, and fold themselves into protective housings during storms, dormant while the town runs on battery power.

Not too bad a vision, eh? Certainly, there will be advantages and disadvantages, ups and downs. A spell of very strange weather might leave residents rationing their power and sending out battery trucks to pick up spare power from the neighbors. But that seems not so much more trouble than the current system that leaves us in the dark if something damages the wires, transformers, or power stations, and releases more and more carbon dioxide into the air to further warp the already wobbly climate.