The Bad:

When I first heard about The Sad Puppies, I shrugged and said, “Not my monkeys, not my circus”, but  eventually people I knew started talking about it in front of me, and I started reading about it.  I have read, and read, and read, about the Sad Puppies and the Rabid Puppies and the SJWs and the CHORFs (all names given by the puppies to describe themselves and others), enough  that I have taken a side, and that side is not with the Puppies. I don’t see any way to be on the side that declares itself against tolerance and fairness, expresses itself in bigotry and misogyny (plenty of examples; google it, I won’t link to it) and speaks of conspiracies with regard to the nominating and voting on the Hugo awards, and then vows to burn it all down, the process, the Hugos, all of it.  All of this because they do not like stories written by and about women, People of Color, LGBT, or more generally anyone who isn’t a white straight male (there are a few exceptions), and that increasingly these stories are winning awards.  The Puppies’ preference is for Military SciFi and Space Opera, and Swords Wielded by Men with Bulging Muscles (and sometimes include their idea of females) in the Fantasy stories; they also complain that the winners of recent years have increasingly been works with social agendas.  It’s like Calvin’s He-Man Club: no girls allowed.

I view it as sad that there were books that might have been nominated on their own merit, might have won if they had not been included in the slates created by the  Puppies factions. They were tainted by association through no fault of their own, and three of these withdrew from the nominations because of this.

People who were not at Sasquan and did not watch the Hugo awards are throwing fits on the internet because the people the puppies nominated did not win, that the vote did not go their way, that some wooden discs with an asterisk were handed out and they think it might just be an insult to them (obviously they’ve never ready anything by the master of the footnote, Sir Terry Pratchett whose passing was honored by these asterisk discs). One is threatening a lawsuit and demanding a refund of his membership fee because the things he wanted to happen did not happen.

They took advantage of the fact that relatively few members bother to nominate anything, made up lists of authors that they felt fit their ideal of SF/F, and then urged friends and fans to nominate from their slate of approved works.  They gamed the system and now are angry that their strategy failed.  They have vowed to strike back next year.

The whole thing is at times hilarious and frustrating and exhausting.  The worst among them have declared it a victory, after their nominees lost.

I give up.


Kitty is Bored With Talk of Puppies.

The Good:

There is a bright side: I now have a reading list that is stuffed to the gills just from the nominees lists, both the official one and the ones that might have been on the ballot, and some others I have discovered during the conversation.  I don’t care which side the author was on, with rare extraordinary exception; I want to read amazing stories and funny stories and deep stories and I don’t care about the politics or the gender of the author unless it bleeds into the story, and even then I might not object even if I disagree.  I like Space Opera, I like Heroic Engineers, I like Military SciFi, if it is written well and entertaining or enlightening, or both.  Not as big a fan of Fantasy in the past 30 years, but I love Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman and several other writers who do write well, entertain, and enlighten me.  Now that Sir Terry has published his final work (which I have to wait a few more days to read because I am not in London), I am looking for more authors who have a sense of humor and an original idea, or can rework a cliché into something new and hilarious.

About My Preferences:

Life is too short and you either laugh or you cry.

I want to laugh and be entertained, to read a book that is so amusing that people in the dentist’s office look up from their iPhones when I start snickering and giggling, wondering if I’m having a fit. I love seeing their puzzled faces almost as much as I love being tickled by something I’ve just read. And I want stories that are so engrossing that it’s like coming up for air from the bottom of a pool when the spell is broken.

My short list of sic-fi/fantasy authors and books/stories recently read or that I’d like to read soon:

“Occupy Me” Tricia Sullivan (will come out in January of 2016

“Nowhere Wild” Joe Beernink

“The Shepherd’s Crown” Sir Terry Pratchett

“City of Stairs” Robert Jackson Bennett

“The Slow Regard of Silent Things’, Patrick Rothfuss

“Windswept” Adam Danger Taco Rakunis
“The Regular”, Ken Liu
“Yesterday’s Kin”, Nancy Kress
“Grand Jete” (The Great Leap), Rachel Swirsky

“What Makes This Book So Great” Jo Walton

“Bone Swans” C. S. E. Cooney

“The Martian” Andy Weir

“Goodnight Stars” Annie Bellet

“Lines of Departure” Marko Kloos

“Under the Eye of God” David Gerrold (I read this years ago, a loan from a friend, and didn’t remember the name.  Intend to read again)

Books or short stories by:

Ann Leckie

Liu Cixin

Connie Willis

John Scalzi

A bunch of other people.

This is only the sci-fi part of a list  that includes authors of other genres, including murder/mystery, historical fiction, works of depth, biographies, and whatever the heck genre Craig Johnson’s Longmire series is.

So much fucking racism. Everywhere. I feel dirty because of it, as if I had waded through mud and then had more poured over me.

I’m here because I don’t know where else to vent right now. I just got into it with the guy next door, a white man in his 60s who does not own anything except a pickup, and who thinks Ron Paul is the bomb and that Obama is not a person. He told me and the neighbors that Obama isn’t a person. He said he stopped being a person when he called that Cambridge cop stupid, the one who arrested Professor Henry Gates. I said, “for being a black person in a white neighborhood?” and this neighbor said “Yeah, that’s right.”

I pointed out that Obama said the behavior of the police department was stupid but he wouldn’t listen.

Yelling ensued, mostly from him, after he realized what I had said. The neighbor was so angry that he was shaking and yelling. I walked away to get the mail, thinking he’d calm down, and the rest of the neighbors tried to help him.

God help all of you who work with an idiot like this. I’m retired so I don’t run into this so much as some of my friends do. It must be terrible. This old fart is my age and I liked him until tonight. Not sure we’ll be speaking to each other ever again.

I’m shaking right now myself.

Watch this guy whine about how he works harder than anyone else and that’s why he deserves more money than the rest of us, yada yada, blarty-blart, and then read about Buffet and others below. Their attitudes about money and taxes are refreshing:

Apparently, he feels put-upon and under-appreciated for the hard work he does which creates a lot of jobs. He also feels that small business owners are losers and that they don’t create “real” jobs.

He’s a Marketing Manager.

And then there are Buffet and others who understand the idea of a social contract.

From the 2003 Annual Report of Berkshire Hathaway:



On May 20, 2003, The Washington Post ran an op-ed piece by me that was critical of the Bush tax
proposals. Thirteen days later, Pamela Olson, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy at the U.S. Treasury,
delivered a speech about the new tax legislation saying, “That means a certain midwestern oracle, who, it
must be noted, has played the tax code like a fiddle, is still safe retaining all his earnings.” I think she was
talking about me.
Alas, my “fiddle playing” will not get me to Carnegie Hall – or even to a high school recital.
Berkshire, on your behalf and mine, will send the Treasury $3.3 billion for tax on its 2003 income, a sum
equaling 2½% of the total income tax paid by all U.S. corporations in fiscal 2003. (In contrast, Berkshire’s
market valuation is about 1% of the value of all American corporations.) Our payment will almost
certainly place us among our country’s top ten taxpayers. Indeed, if only 540 taxpayers paid the amount
Berkshire will pay, no other individual or corporation would have to pay anything to Uncle Sam. That’s
right: 290 million Americans and all other businesses would not have to pay a dime in income, social
security, excise or estate taxes to the federal government. (Here’s the math: Federal tax receipts, including
social security receipts, in fiscal 2003 totaled $1.782 trillion and 540 “Berkshires,” each paying $3.3
billion, would deliver the same $1.782 trillion.)
Our federal tax return for 2002 (2003 is not finalized), when we paid $1.75 billion, covered a mere
8,905 pages. As is required, we dutifully filed two copies of this return, creating a pile of paper seven feet
tall. At World Headquarters, our small band of 15.8, though exhausted, momentarily flushed with pride:
Berkshire, we felt, was surely pulling its share of our country’s fiscal load.
But Ms. Olson sees things otherwise. And if that means Charlie and I need to try harder, we are
ready to do so.
I do wish, however, that Ms. Olson would give me some credit for the progress I’ve already made.
In 1944, I filed my first 1040, reporting my income as a thirteen-year-old newspaper carrier. The return
covered three pages. After I claimed the appropriate business deductions, such as $35 for a bicycle, my tax
bill was $7. I sent my check to the Treasury and it – without comment – promptly cashed it. We lived in

SELECTED QUOTES from “I DIDN’T DO IT ALONE: Society’s Contribution to Individual Wealth and Success:”

“I personally think that society is responsible for a very significant percentage of what I’ve earned.”

— Warren Buffett, CEO of Berkshire Hathaway

“My wealth is not only a product of my own hard work. It also resulted from a strong economy and lots of public investment, both in others and in me. I received a good public school education and used free libraries and museums paid for by others. I went to college under the GI Bill. I went to graduate school to study computers and language on a complete government scholarship… While teaching at Syracuse University for 25 years, my research was supported by numerous government grants… My university research provided the basis for Syracuse Language Systems…”

— Martin Rothenberg, founder of Syracuse Language Systems and Glottal Enterprises

“Lots of people who are smart and work hard and play by the rules don’t have a fraction of what I have. I realize I don’t have my wealth because I’m so brilliant. Luck has a lot to do with it.”

— Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google, Inc.

“The opportunities to create wealth are all taking advantage of public goods–like roads, transportation, markets–and public investments… We are all standing on the shoulders of all that came before us, and creating a society for our children and those that come after us. We have obligations as part of that.”

— Jim Sherblom, venture capitalist and former chief financial officer of Genzyme

“I feel like there’s no way I’ve done this by myself… Every single person we worked with has contributed to making Hanna what it is today… People in Sweden don’t like paying taxes either, but nobody would ever suggest that you would close schools because you didn’t have enough money to keep them open.”

— Gun Denhart, co-founder of Hanna Andersson clothing company

I found this at Sadly, No and thought it was instructive:


If you can’t see the entire graph, click on it or the link above. The green line taking a dive to the bottom is our current situation.

job losses graph 1991 to now

Crash Course by Chris Martenson:




I’m 2/3 of the way through this series of lectures right now, and it’s quite interesting.

A Brushfire Sunset

I took this a week ago, around 4pm on the 210 freeway, in Upland. The smoke is from the Triangle Complex fire which started in Santa Ana Canyon just outside of Corona and spread to the Chino Hills and Diamond Bar.  Hundreds of homes were lost and debris landed in our garden that had traveled at least ten miles. 

Brushfires have a distinctive smell.  You learn that smell as a child and when you step outside on a windy day the scent makes your heart speed up, causes a little fear even among those whose houses are safe, but imagine what that first whiff does to the heart rate of people living in canyons and on hillsides. 

The Santa Anas are strong winds that spring up when the valleys have a few days in a row that are a little warmer, after a few colder days.  The winds dry out the air and a small grassfire that would easily be put out on a calmer day will race to become a wall of flame, climbing into the trees and leaping across roads and freeways. 

The fires are out for now but brushfire season is all year now because of the changing climate.  More Santa Ana winds predicted soon.