Darrell Bain's Monthly Blog - May 2010
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Bainstorming: Darrell's Bain's Monthly Blog.
Responses to subjects brought up by this blog are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.
Subjects this month: A real letter, Book reviews, Injuries, Religion & Gender, Dachshund Training, Book reviews, Laws, Federal Government and schools, Twitter, Snakebit with Televisions, Tonto as usual, About The Melanin Apocalypse, Progress report, Good deed punished, Excerpt from The Melanin Apocalypse.
A real letter
I had a pleasant surprise this past month. I received a real letter in a stamped envelope from a fan. This brought back all kinds of nice memories of an earlier time in my life before the advent of computers, back when life was simpler (although not necessarily better). Not that I would like to have to do without my computer now, but it is very seldom one receives a personally written and printed piece of mail from the post office these days. Also the person very thoughtfully included a SASE with his letter. The first thing I did after opening and reading the letter was run show it to Betty to let her know that people still did write letters! What a good feeling that was and from such a simple little thing as a piece of mail!
I have a consistent back problem but am able to live with it most of the time without too much trouble. However, the first week of April something popped and I was in a whole lot of pain for several days. I have no idea what caused it but it was so bad I couldn’t get comfortable enough to sleep no matter how many pain pills I took. I guess I finally wore it out because I’m mostly over it. However, now that I’m better Betty pulled a muscle in her shoulder. She has no idea how she did it. She was up and down for a couple of nights trying to get comfortable enough to sleep but is gradually recovering. Damned if it's not one thing. it’s another. At least we seem to take turns so one of us is well enough to take care of the other when they are having problems. So far.
Religion and Gender
Are men or women more religious? Or neither? Or is one gender more profoundly religious than the other. Or not? Just wondering.
Author E. B. White, who owned several Dachshunds, wrote: "Some day, if I ever get a chance, I shall write a book, or warning, on the character and temperament of the dachshund and why he can't be trained and shouldn't be. I would rather train a striped zebra to balance an Indian club than induce a dachshund to heed my slightest command."
Red Dragon Rising is a trilogy by Larry Bond and Jim DeFelice. The first book is titled Shadows of War, which I just read. In it, China, under pressure of climate change that has destroyed much of its food producing areas, is invading Vietnam with future plans including all of Asia coming under its hegemony. It has lots of action and some well drawn characters that get the trilogy off to a good start. I liked it and look forward to reading the other two books as they come out.
Blackcollars by Timothy Zahn is a novel of an earth conquered by aliens and a special underground of enhanced humans conducting a guerilla warfare against the overlords and their human collaborators. Lots of action and a good storyline. I read this one on my Kindle.
I read the first of James Barnes’ alternate universe stories, Patton’s Spaceship. It was a neat book if you like the alternate universe genre. I’ve ordered the next in the series.
I also re-read Barnes’ great science fiction novel Mother of Storms. It’s impossible to know if all his near future technology will be developed but the theme of the story, the release of methane into the air from the ocean bottom due to an error is uncomfortably close to what’s happening in the artic as more and more permafrost melts. Methane is a much worse greenhouse gas than most others. Release enough methane into the atmosphere and the past hurricanes we’ve seen would be nothing compared to the ones that would develop then. Barnes does a masterful job of describing just how bad things could get!
David Weber is a wonderful storyteller. I believe he could do well in any genre although he’s pretty well confined himself to science fiction. I just finished the first of his Safehold series, Off Armageddon Reef. It is about the last remaining habitat of humanity, a world where they are hiding from aliens who have destroyed all other human worlds. In order to survive they have had to give up technology but now, almost a thousand years later it may be time to revive it. However, a religion instilled by the old leaders of the colony has forbidden advanced technology forever because they thought this would keep the aliens from discovering the last habitat of humanity. This stifling false religion will have to be overthrown with the help of a most unusual character. I won’t spoil it by telling though. Just read the book. I think you’ll like it.
Politicians seem to think they always have to pass laws in order to get re-elected. Personally, I’d be more likely to vote for the ones who want to repeal laws. Here’s some bipartisanship for you: have equal numbers of Republicans and Democrats try to agree on some laws to repeal, those that are known to be detrimental, no longer effective or just plain bad. Surely they could find some to agree on that could be repealed.
Federal government and schools
It seems to me that there has been a perennial noise, in fact almost ever since I can remember, about how our schools need to be improved. However, the solution most often spoken of is the need for more money or more government supervision, neither of which correlates with the quality of schools. I personally believe the federal government ought to remove itself from the school scene and let the states and cities and school districts run them. They could certainly do it much cheaper if they didn’t have to follow so blasted many federal dictates and the teachers could spend more time teaching. I can remember when I was in grade school there were no teachers’ aides, no secretaries (well, maybe one but I don’t remember if there was). The school principal also taught sixth grade. Kids who couldn’t speak English were simply immersed in the school with the kids and learned it very quickly. I believe that school was every bit as good as the ones today, if not a hell of a lot better, and the federal government was nowhere to be seen. We learned world history, geography and other subjects that are barely touched on today.
I’m trying to begin twittering more often than in the past. I have no idea if anyone finds my meanderings interesting, though. At least I do get some feedback from Bainstorming.
Snakebit with TVs
For our anniversary a few months over a year ago Betty and I gave each other a giant new HDTV set. In all the time we’ve been married we’ve never had a TV set fail so I didn’t bother getting the extended warranty. I figured with solid state electronics there couldn’t be a lot to go bonkers. Wrong. Three months past the warranty date it busted. After checking and finding it would have cost over half of what we paid for it to have it repaired we decided to just get a new one of about the same size but a different brand, a good name brand. It lasted precisely two weeks before the sound went out. We took it back and got our money back and bought our third new big screen HDTV within 16 months!! Is there something about these big HDTVs that doesn’t like us???
Tonto, as usual
Tonto is scared of butterflies. They’re BIG. Honeybees, on the other hand are smaller. He’s always been enticed by them. One day he came in from outside licking his mouth, tossing his head and rubbing his muzzle of the rug. We knew with a fair amount of certainty what had happened. He had finally caught a honeybee and the honeybee took a dislike to being gulped into the mouth of an idiot dachshund. Naturally it was right before the Easter weekend and we couldn’t get him into the Vet. When we took him the next week he had about stopped the head tossing and licking his lips. The Vet agreed with us that he had probably caught a bee or a bug and it bit or stung the inside of his mouth. At any rate we haven’t seen him chasing honeybees since. We believe he has put them into the same category as butterflies: dangerous, fanged creatures it’s best to avoid!
The Melanin Apocalypse
An excerpt from The Melanin Apocalypse is at the end of the blog but I’d like to say a few words about it first. I consider this to be my best book, if not in writing expertise, then at least in terms of the sociological implications and possibly malignant misuse of genetic engineering in the not so distant future goes. I took some very real areas of research and extrapolated what might happen if some of those techniques fell into the wrong hands.
After the book was published I received a letter from a reader asking why I hated black people so much. I was astounded. Nothing could be further from the truth. I picked blacks as primary victims in Africa and The United States and Arabs of the Middle East simply because those two groups are and have been involved in controversy for a long time. It was not because of any inherent dislike of them.
Genetics is progressing at such a rapid pace that the events portrayed in The Melanin Apocalypse or something similar could very well take place within the next couple of decades, if not sooner. I am a strong believer in the advancement of science but the technology today is so diverse and advancing at such a rapid clip that the results need to be monitored. Not that I said monitored, not controlled. The book should be taken as a warning for our leaders that not all terrorists use bombs and that some very small molecules of organic matter have the potential to wreak more destruction than a dozen atomic bombs.
The Melanin Apocalypse is not just a dry book of technical rendition. It includes a very real love story and great deal of suspense and tense confrontations that you would expect to find in any suspense/thriller and/or science fiction novel.
I was really hoping for a wider readership of this book, not just to make money, but to demonstrate how terrorists don’t always and won’t always use known and mundane methods to support their dark agenda. I also included a segment in the novel of how politicians might think they are driven to use the same techniques of terrorists in the name of national security.
My latest novel, The Frontier Rebellion, is available in both print and ebook editions. As of this writing it is the number one best seller at Fictionwise.com and also made the Kindle science fiction best selling list.
I am working on a novel that is proving kind of hard to write but I like the theme of it and feel sure I’ll be able to get it done. I just don’t know how long it will take.
I’m in the process of looking for a collaborator for two other prospective novels and think I’ve found one. More when that’s confirmed. I just don’t write as fast as I used to and I have more ideas for books and stories than I’ll ever finish in my lifetime. Later: I do have a collaborator for at least one of the books. Mary Ann Steele will work with me on “The Disappearance Enigma”. She is the author of more than fifteen books, mostly science fiction. Her web site is http://www.sciencefictionseries.com/
Good deed punished
Good deeds never go unpunished. When I got my new computer I had two choices for who got my old one. Our daughter Pat who already had a working computer or our housekeeper's 12 year old daughter. The lady is a single mother struggling to make a living and I wanted to do something nice for the daughter. In the end I decided that Pat would get my old computer on the condition that she give her old one to Esmeralda so that's what happened. Unfortunately, by the time Pat's old computer got to Esmeralda's house something had gone wrong with it (probably from the move) and it didn’t' work. I got my granddaughter to try fixing it and she nailed it down to a failed hard drive or a major failure in the tower. Esmeralda had her heart set on a computer. She is a smart girl and would have put it to good use. So I guess I will buy her a new tower for about 300 dollars. Ironic, huh? If I had just given her my old one directly, all would have been well. Instead the move killed Pat's old computer and my good deed will now cost about three hundred bucks. Oh well. We can afford it and it doesn't hurt to do something nice for someone who doesn't have much.
Excerpt from The Melanin Apocalypse
Mary Hedgrade's face was lined with worry. It was never comfortable to be the bearer of bad tidings. In some countries, she thought she might be executed for bringing such news to the head of state, especially with the blunt concluding statement that not only did the CDC not have a cure or vaccine for the Harcourt virus, but there were no prospects for either in the immediate future.
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