This is the only thing to be proud of in June


Seriously, folks, your sexual preferences have absolutely nothing to do with pride.  Frankly, it’s a Flag Day for people to start waking up and smelling the coffee.*

The thing to be proud of is your country.  Yeah.  It’s a little tough to do right now, with the worthless sacks of shit that are running it, right up to the Commander of Pantloads of Shit himself, but I had a sort of an epiphany today while thinking about the Masonic Ceremony of Seven Toasts.

I’m sure you are all sitting there thinking, “WTF has that got to do with pride in one’s country?”  Hang on a mo’, I’ll tell ya.

You see, the Ceremony of Seven Toasts came to us in the States from the British Freemasons.  One of their toasts was, of course, to the King or Queen.  Which makes sense.  Because British folks are subjects and they owe fealty and allegiance to the monarch, which is sort of the same as saying to the country, because the monarch is the country.  Sort of.  Even if the monarch is only a constitutional figurehead.

So we took that on in the US and since we don’t have a monarch, we substituted the President (or sometimes, the President and the Congress).  However — that’s wrong.  Because the toast is supposed to be to the entity to whom (or which) you actually owe that fealty and allegiance.

And I got news for you.  In the US, that ain’t the President, and it ain’t the Congress, either.  They’re functionaries We The People sent to Washington DC to do our bidding.  That they don’t is pretty sad, and probably rises to treason, and thus deserves hanging by neck until dead, but that’s not what I’m here to discuss.

Growing up as a kid in this still-great nation, I was taught my allegiance was to the Flag Of The United States Of America, and to the Republic For Which It Stands.  Because we don’t pledge allegiance to anything else.  It would be silly to do so — because in the United States, every person is a sovereign.  We The People govern ourselves, and for the things we can’t do every day, we elect and appoint other people to do them for us.  But we don’t pledge allegiance to them, we expect them to do as We The People tell them to do.

In other words, nobody told Crusty Joe Biden to sell out to the fucking Chinese.  But he did and we’re stuck with him for a bit till we sort that shit out.

This is something we need to remember as this fraught season of electoral hi-jinks is forced upon us.  We declared independence from a king who was being an asshole to us (the same king the Brits toast today, just a newer version of him).  We’re never going to toast that guy, just like (even as much as we thought of his mother) we never toasted his predecessor.  And we should not be toasting the President, or the Congress, or any other piece of government we’ve set up to do our will and which has subsequently turned on us to force us to do its will.  Screw that.

We should be toasting the Flag and the Republic.  And then we can all come together again as citizens of a great nation and tell our political functionaries to start doing as they’re told, or get the fuck out.

Rainbow flags, feh.  Toss ’em in the trash along with the U.N. flag.

On this Flag Day, be PROUD of the AMERICAN FLAG, and what it stands for.   Long may it wave; and long may we continue to water the Tree of Liberty.

PS:  Happy Birthday, President Trump!


* Did you like how I worked that in?  I was kind of proud of it.  Speaking of pride and all.

The Lion and the Darkness is now an e-book!

Three years in the writing, it’s finally done, and it’s up for purchase, or read free on KU.  Paperback and hardback editions are coming soon live as of 7 June.

The Long-Awaited Sequel to The Lion in Paradise

At long last, Ariela Rivers Wolff begins her mission to the Simulated Worlds.

As the Martyr of Sardristra, she finds herself in the position of a Joan of Arc, burned at the stake for preaching a sermon of love to a very violent race of . . . blue, four-legged, four-armed, sort-of-horse analogs. Five hundred years later in their history, she finds a totally-reversed welcome as “Saint Ardreyelya” in the country in which she first appeared. Will she be able to prevent the rest of the world from destroying “her” people before she can convert them, too?

As the Goddess of Mahoukai, she finds herself the deity of a world religion in a world governed by magic. And like all worlds with magic, inevitably there is a Demon Lord. She’ll have to deal with that Demon Lord before the world of Mahoukai can be realized into the True Universe . . . but in the event, the Demon Lord is an infiltrated agent of the very enemies she is sworn to fight in the real world. Can The Lion of God take on a Darkness, single-handed? If not, it may spell doom for the inhabitants of Mahoukai – and for herself.

[updated 7 Jun 2024]

Judge Merchan is the law

…or so he thinks.

What he really is, is a kangaroo.  Presiding over a kangaroo court, in a kangaroo city, in a kangaroo state.  Hell, just move the whole thing to Australia — that’s where kangaroos live.

When you figure out exactly what that jury of his convicted Donald Trump of, let me know, because it’s sure unclear how a case even the feds didn’t want to touch managed to find a receptive venue in New York State.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump simply grows stronger with every hit he takes.

And even fictional Judge Dredd did a better job of being the law.

MAGA, bitches.

Memorial Day

This is the real Memorial, or Decoration, Day, as set forth in 1868 by General John A. Logan, at the time Commander in Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic (the Union Army’s veterans’ association, for those of you who flunked high school history, or simply weren’t taught it by our woke public schools).  He established that date by his General Order No. 11.

The date wasn’t officially established by the federal government until after World War I, but a number of states and municipalities had adopted it during the antebellum period.

And Congress broke things with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed in 1971.

But to me, Memorial Day will always be the 30th of May.

And Sarah Hoyt wrote a great Memorial Day post this past Monday which, if you haven’t read it, you should go there now and do so.  In Flander’s Fields

Ten years.

10年が経ちました。これが最後となります。あなたが愛してる

Yoru ga Akeru Mae ni

Sakushi: Manami
Sakkyoku: Nakamura Daisuke
Henkyoku: Nakamura Daisuke & Nomura Youichirou

Hajimete jibun ni sunao ni nareta nowa
Kono hiroi sekai no naka de anata to deaeta kara
Te to te ga fureau anata no sono nukumori
Watashi no naka ni nagareta toki itoshisa de namida afureta

Issho ni saite ita narande saite ita
Nanigenai hi ni anata ga ita koto
Dare ga hakonda kiseki nan darou

Yoru ga akeru mae ni
Omoi ga todokimasu you ni
Anata wo aisuru kokoro ni
Eien wo mitsuketa

Ashita wo shinjiru tsuyosa wo moteta nowa
Nagai nagai yoru wo koete anata to deaeta kara

Issho ni saita kara narande saita kara
Donna toki demo waratte irareta
Anata to terasu ashita dakara

Yoru ga akeru mae ni
Omoi ga todokimasu you ni
Anata wo aisuru kokoro ni
Eien wo mitsuketa

Ikite iku hi mo shi ni iku hi demo
Kisetsu wa megutte iku kawaranai mono
Kaerarenai mono
Ima anata ga kureta ai ga todoku

Yoru ga aketa sora ni
Kyou mo hikari sasu you ni
Anata wo aisuru kokoro ni
Eien wo mitsuketa eien wo mitsuketa

Boy Scouts is no more

Welcome to “Scouting America”.

Bah.  Humbug.  I left the organization in 2020 after 40 years of service.  I was an OA member for 34 years, Vigil Honor for 25.  An Assistant Scoutmaster for a while, briefly a Scoutmaster, district committee member and commissioner staff for a long time, and did other things as well.  Scouter’s Training Award, Scoutmaster Training Award, Commissioner Arrowhead, District Award of Merit, etc.

I put up with what I thought of as the evisceration of the Scouting program and letting everyone and their gay brother become leaders, then allowing gay Scouts into the program, letting women become leaders, letting girls into programs like Venture and Varsity…but finally they let girls into the regular troops, and that was it for me.

As I say in my author’s bio at the back of most of my books, “Parents – it’s time to find something else for your young boys to do while learning to become men.  There are other options.  The Order of DeMolay, for one.  Check out https://demolay.org .”

In the meantime, RIP Boy Scouts of America.  You were a big part of my life.  You’ll be missed.  Eventually.

AI is Love is now a Kindle book

I have released AI is Love as a Kindle book.  It took a while to figure out how I was going to do that, but in the end, it was possible to format it like a comic book or manga and upload it that way.  (This involved the use of Kindle Create, which is an application I am not fond of, though admittedly the copy I had installed was from 2020 and was way out of date.)

The Kindle book is priced at a much more modest $15.00 (half the price of the softcover edition).  I still make money off of that, but the paperback publishing cost is gone.

I will add the following caveats:

  • If you do not have a tablet, or can’t use something like Kindle for PC, I don’t recommend buying the Kindle version.  It won’t look good on a classic Kindle (like a Paperwhite) because you won’t get color, and it probably will end up too small.
  • If you do buy the Kindle version to read on a tablet, I recommend opening the “AA” menu at top right, clicking into the Layout tab, and turning off “Vertical Scroll (Landscape).”  If you don’t do this, you won’t be able to turn the tablet to Landscape mode and view two pages at a time, which sort of breaks the way the book is formatted (description on the left, picture on the right).  This isn’t necessary if you are reading it in Kindle for PC or Kindle on the Web.  (I assume it wouldn’t be a problem for the Mac Kindle app either, but I don’t own a Mac, so there you have it.)

If the e-book version still interests you, well, just click on the gorgeous picture of my wife…I mean, the image of the cover, above.

Dark side of the moon

This afternoon, it got dark.

Shot from my deck, CoolPix P900, f/6.3, 1/125s, ISO-560, focal length 214mm, 35mm focal length 1200mm. No filter; the dark filter I bought for the rest of the eclipse was too dark to pick this up.

Um, I dunno…

Doesn’t this sound like incitement to insurrection?  By the Democrats’ own rules…if it sounds like insurrection, it must be insurrection.  Right?

Hey, FBI, you might want to investigate this sports journalist who thinks he’s a political pundit.

Don Surber misses the forest for the trees

Which is kind of surprising, to be honest.  Don’s an old newspaperman, he should know that making a blanket statement that “America will get along just fine without newspapers. Based on circulation in print and online, at least 80% of the nation already gets along without newspapers,” is just prime meat for some curmudgeonly person like me to sink their teeth into.

Don’s basic premise is that nobody trusts the media anymore.  And fewer and fewer people are reading newspapers.  And someone like Tucker Carlson can get more view for a single video interview with someone like Vladimir Putin than the daily readership of all US newspapers combined.

And I don’t argue with any of that.

What I argue with is his attitude that we don’t need newspapers.  I think we need them more than ever.  But the biggest problem with newspapers today is almost all of the proud and independent big-city dailies have been munched up by conglomerates like Gannett.  (I may be behind the times, I think Gannett was actually bought more recently by someone else, but the daily newspaper in my town lost any shred of respectability when it was sold by its founding family to Gannett, so 99% of the time I don’t bother reading it anymore.)  And what happens when you have many daily newspapers in far-flung cities and towns under your control is that things like copy editing and editorial policy are decided in offices far from your home.  For instance, for the Indianapolis Star, that happens in an office in Louisville.  And the number of local reporters has dropped considerably as a result.  In effect, every time I pick up the local paper, I feel like I’m holding one of the old neighborhood rags that used to cover what was happening in your part of the city and carried ads from your nearby businesses and suchlike.  School news.  Marriage announcements.  Church schedules.  Personal want ads, and service classifieds for those who didn’t want to put in full quarter-page or business-card sized ads.

One of those was The North-Side Topics.  If you wanted to know what was going on in the northern part of Indianapolis, you picked that up once a week (or it got delivered to your mailbox for free).  The main complaint I always had about it was it contained more ads than actual news, but on the other hand, without the ads, they wouldn’t have been able to publish it.  But Dad ran a two- or three-line ad for his contracting business in their Services classifieds for years and got more business between that and word-of-mouth from his customers than he could handle.

Well, the Indianapolis Star looks and feels like The North Side Topics, these days.  But without the local charm.

What is killing newspapers is there isn’t really anything in them of interest anymore.  Sports news and obituaries is about it, I think, and to be honest both have gone digital.  There are online blogs and other services that keep up with government news (local and state).

I think (and, sure, I could be wrong and Don Surber with his many years of experience in the industry may be right) that small circulation newspapers publishing weekly and focusing narrowly on local news (and I mean, local like “Washington Township, Marion County, Indiana”), subsidized by adverts from local businesses and organizations, could probably make a comeback in a digital era.  One thing you’d hope they’d be is non-partisan.  Another thing you’d hope is that the people writing and editing the stories would be folks from the same general area served by the paper, so they actually live and breathe what they’re writing about.  Because I’ll tell you, I’d read a newspaper like that.  I like knowing what’s going on around me, even if it happened a week ago.

Something I read in a book years ago came to mind when I was reading Don’s article.

“Manuel, on some subjects I don’t trust even myself. Limiting the freedom of news ‘just a little bit’ is in the same category with the classic example ‘a little bit pregnant.’ We are not yet free nor will we be as long as anyone–even our ally Mike–controls our news. Someday I hope to own a newspaper independent of any source or channel. I would happily set print by hand, like Benjamin Franklin.”

— Robert A. Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

Limiting the freedom of news is what has been going on for years as huge conglomerates have swallowed up small-town and big-city newspapers.  This is what has given us “the media” that Don rails about.  In Heinlein’s story, Prof yearns for the day when news was uncontrolled by shadowy forces beyond the ken of men.  Little neighborhood or township newspapers that focused on local people and local issues were for many decades that glue that held communities together.  Heinlein knew this because he lived in an era when there were plenty of newspapers to choose from.  I still remember when there were three daily newspapers in Indianapolis — a morning and two afternoons.

Maybe what we really need is for a thousand local newspapers to bloom.

Even if they caught up with the times and bloomed online.  But I’d happily hold a local-focused newspaper in my hands and read it with my morning coffee if it were a newspaper worth reading.

Besides, it’s harder to stop the signal if the medium is physical.