Raven’s Rook Is Now Available For Pre-Order

All the Stars are Suns ebook complete

In late ’17, I published a SciFi novel, All The Stars Are Suns using the pen name “Seaby Brown”, the first of many I hope, as my second novel is now available for pre-order. 

The plot hinges on future advances in understanding the neuro-physiology, the organization and operation, of brains, etc., taking advantage of my interest in biology and neurology.  It is set a couple hundred years into our future.  It is a story of hope for the future against dark regressive politics and intrigue.  But seriously, check it out!  You may learn more about the novel and order it from Amazon here.

RAVEN'S ROOK EBOOK 2

My new novel, Raven’s Rook will come out on Thanksgiving, the fall of ’20.  You may pre-order it from Amazon here.  It is the sequel to the first, set several thousand years into the future.  It’s a ‘coming of age’ story, of both individuals and a culture set on a far away terraformed colony.

I’m already writing my third, Skyview Keep.  It too is set in the same universe several thousand years further than the second.  No planned publishing date for it as yet.  And yes, there is yet another planned beyond it, a grand sweep of future history.


Follow The Clues

In the days that followed my release from the VA hospital I needed to find cheap lodging. A friend of mine introduced to me to a man who would soon after become my roommate at 2211C Cake Street. The man took one look at me and said, “I see that you were in the Virgina National Guard, recently discharged.”

“How on earth did you know that?”

“People tend to see but do not observe. Your T-shirt, half hidden beneath your winter coat is clearly one that reads, ‘I survived the battle for the White House’ that was all the rage last year after the National Guard removed the meglomaniac barracaded himself in the Oval Office.”

So it was later that several of us sat around a table while my new companion smoked his abominable cheap weed in a briar pipe discussing his solution to the latest murder, “It was Colonel Mustard in the Kitchen with the Knife,”

“Sherluck Jones,” I cried out, “How do you do it? We barely started playing!”

“Elementary, my dear Wittsend, elementary.”

Schrodinger’s Cat

In alternative reality, just as real as ours, Carly Fiorina, after having been insulted by Trump, during the GOP primary debates, walked over, got in his face, and told him he must apologize, right then, right now, and agree he will never do it again. When he insulted her again, to her face, which he certainly was bound to do, unable to help himself, she bitch slapped across his. The world saw him for the cad he is and the GOP ‘asked’ him to end his primary campaign.

Fiorina won the GOP nomination… when the world saw a kick ass woman being a determined, old-fashioned, self-respecting, “lady”, standing up to a rude, oafish bully.

Cover Reveal

While I’m still working with my editor on the new book, Raven’s Rook, it’s time to review the new cover. What do you think of it?

Old Fashioned Homemade Ketchup

The past few months, save for Jeff’s grocery shopping, we’ve been “sheltering in place” at home. I haven’t left our property in months. I’ve been growing a vegetable garden like so many others, including various types of tomatoes. Well today, I finally tried something I’ve wanted to do for years… decades actually, since I first saw it being done in the musical “Meet Me In St. Louis”… make homemade tomato ketchup from scratch… using mid-19th century cooking methods and tools… starting with homegrown fresh San Marzano tomatoes. It took me all day, starting early this morning. But I did it… one small batch, just enough to fill a single bottle. Recipe says to let it cool and sit at least a day before using… but tomorrow, I’m going to cook up some french fries and try it out !

Ketchup used to be made at home and could be nearly any vegetable.  Popular ones included mushroom and green walnut.  They are all “fruit butter”, much like apple sauce.  Once cooks down a pot of the fruit, sweeten, and spice it.  Modern store bought tomato ketchup is sweeter and has more vinegar and less spice than old fashion recipes.

If you Google homemade ketchup recipes, one finds that most start with CANNED tomotoes or even just tomato paste.  But old time cooks didn’t have access to those.  No, they grew or bought fresh tomatoes.  The best for making ketchup are Roma or San Marzano plum tomatoes.

Ingredients:

Fresh Tomatoes

One Sweet Onion – chopped fine

Vinegar (I prefer balsamic, but most folks use cider)

Sugar (brown, honey, light corn syrup, etc.)

Mace

Powered Cloves

Allspice

Nutmeg

Cinnamon

Mustard Seed (whole)

A dash of Worcester sauce

Salt

Bay Leaves

Clean and cut in half the tomatoes and put into a large pot (steel, not copper as the acid will react with with it).  Start the heat on low with just enough water to barely cover the bottom of the pot.  Add bay leaf, onion, and mustard seed as the tomatoes start to release their moisture.  Increase heat to cook / boil down to half the liquid content.  This may take a while… The tomatoes should become mush.

Turn off heat and allow to cool enough to mash the tomatoes with a potato masher.  Then strain with a large steel wire mesh strainer using a rubber spatula to press the soft pulp through into a smaller steel pot.  The seeds and skins will remain in the strainer.  Discard them (preferably into your garden compost pile).

Put the tomato pulp on low heat to simmer.  Add vinegar, sugar, and powered spices.  Reduce, cook down until it has the consistency of ketchup or just a bit runnier as it will thicken as it cools.  Stir constantly to keep from scorching.  (Now you know why our forebears stopped cooking it themselves and bought it at the store.)

Sorry, exact portions were never my thing when cooking… I just add a bit of this, a pinch of that.  Adjust for taste.  But be aware that cloves and vinegar are the key to getting it to taste right.  If you need proportions, check out the other numerous online recipes.

Celebrities Are Demanding Unconditional Adulation

Candice eetimesI had an epiphany this morning.  I finally got the ‘cancel culture’ complaint’s true, underlying meaning.  I finally got what people were screaming about when they claim that “free speech” is under threat.

First, let’s get real about what “free speech” means.  It means that one can say things critical (or nice) about political issues without the government stepping in to prosecute or harass one for saying them.  It has NEVER meant that one can say what one wants without others disagreeing.  (Nor does it mean that one can spread lies about a private individual or group to harm them.  We call that calumny, libel, slander, etc. and it is legally prosecutable.)

But lately, folks in the media are pushing a meme that is supposed to carry a negative valance, “cancel culture” that oppresses them and suppresses their “free speech”.  But what is “cancel culture” really?

This morning, after someone tweeting an angry tweet that I of all people should support “free speech” and fight “cancel culture” simply because I have worked to disseminate information that others don’t like… but I haven’t fought “cancel culture”… I got it.

“Cancel culture” is when ordinary people dissent from what a celebrity has said or done by using social media to express that displeasure, en mass, and by being so many, it looks like a “pile on”, etc., often followed by withdrawing the very adulation, attention, and money (ticket & book sales, clicks, views, votes, etc.) that made them celebrities and media “elites” in the first place.  Then, these celebrities whine and whinge about how unfair and wrong “cancel culture” is and demand free speech rights… and sign a letter saying how wrong it is that our modern culture allows ordinary people to express their dissent in the only way that they have the power… by withdrawing their adulation and fan participation.

So, instead of decrying “cancel culture”, I can’t help but see it as the simple voice of ordinary people.

And no, celebrities, media, business, political, or academic, do NOT have a right to unconditional adulation, or even our respect.

Further Reading:

Free Speech vs. Academic Freedom

Further External Reading:

https://amp.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2020/jul/10/free-speech-young-people

https://www.bloomberg.com/amp/opinion/articles/2020-07-14/cancel-culture-isn-t-a-mortal-threat-to-free-speech

https://www.nbcnews.com/think/amp/ncna1233964

https://www.vox.com/platform/amp/policy-and-politics/2020/7/22/21325942/free-speech-harpers-letter-bari-weiss-andrew-sullivan

https://www.thedailybeast.com/bill-maher-who-said-the-n-word-on-tv-decries-cancel-culture-with-bari-weiss-and-thomas-chatterton-williams

Generals Are Always Prepared For The Previous War

Candice eetimesIt’s a classic truism and remains true today.  When new tech obsoletes the planning, training, and doctrine of an older leadership, proven experts in the older tech.  Examples?  The stirrup used by the Norman’s defeated the Saxons in 1066, introducing the mounted knight.  The Welsh longbow that proved that the days of the mounted knight were over at Agincourt.  The infantry squares w/ bayonet mounted on rifles that showed that mounted cavalry and massed infantry doctrines were over.  The machine gun and trench warfare that showed that the European military love of fast calvary was over.  Airplanes and tanks that showed the Maginot line was useless.  The GPS system that showed Iraq’s doctrine that tanks would get lost in the trackless desert was fatally mistaken.  The large drones that allowed death from above that showed that hiding in the desert didn’t work.

Now, our military is confounded by a new system that utterly obsoletes older doctrines… the cheap, small, multi-rotor drone.  It serves as both intelligence gathering and explosives delivery vehicle.  Our military is not ready for them.

But they could be, if they start letting young officers perform wargames using them.

First line of defence is electronic counter measures.  Find the frequencies that enemy forces are using and hijack them or jam them.  It won’t be easy, not with spread spectrum technology and cheap encryption.  But start researching the problem now!

Be ready for the next tech development: AI.  The next step is to make the drones independent using AI if the command signals are lost.  The AI can continue the mission… even use image recognition to find our soldiers.  Uniforms are easy to identify.  Today’s camo is designed to confuse HUMAN eyes, not AI.  Time to start researching the problem now!

We might find that low tech solutions can be used.  For example, the weak point of multi-rotors is the rotors.  Imagine high tensile strength fiber nets to entangle the rotor blades.

That may not be the only solution… but time to war game them and see what works… NOW!

Further External Reading:

https://taskandpurpose.com/.amp/news/drone-swarms-middle-east-centcom

https://m.calcalistech.com/Article.aspx?guid=3843211

Crisis or Opportunity?

Candice eetimesFor decades, the start-up entrepreneur’s mantra has been “disruption”.  If one was to have a successful start-up, it had to disrupt it’s industry.  Well… here today, with the COVID-19 pandemic, is economic disruption on a global scale.  Nearly every industry has been effected.  So, as opportunity is the obverse of crisis, now is an excellent time to take stock of entrepreneurial and investment opportunities.

First, the obvious.  Businesses that depend upon in person transactions such as restaurants, bars, nightclubs, personal grooming, etc. have been hit hard by the need to maintain physical (we mislabel it “social”) distancing.  It may be several years before we can comfortably return to taking such close contact for granted.  These closures and restrictions have also disrupted their supply chains.  For example, food distribution to restaurants have been disrupted clear back to the farms that source the food.  These are clearly areas of opportunity for new businesses, new models.

Already, we can see some readjustments in some of these businesses, as take-out and delivery replace in house dining.  Even more interesting is supply chain adjustments to deliver raw foods directly to households.  This will continue and will likely create new opportunities.  Oddly, it is also a throw-back to an earlier time when the butcher, green-grocer, and the milkman all did home deliveries largely because most households either had no car or only one, such that the homemaker couldn’t drive to a supermarket (which only came into existence when the second car became available to the suburban household).  Providing these services efficiently will be a challenge and the firm that figures it out will be the big winner.

This need to maintain physical distance has ironically turned conventional wisdom upside down.  For a generation of teenagers, people wrung their hands at how young people were glued to their smartphones, talking, texting, or browsing, instead of in person socializing… or paying attention to the droning lecture from the teacher in the classroom.  We now see that they had been in training for this moment.  And this means that they are ready to adopt new modes of entertainment and education.  The firms that figure this out will clean up.  Forget large movie houses or even the multiplex.  Forget large classrooms with mediocre instructors.  They won’t be missed by the younger generation.  (Read my essay on the past and future of education.)

The pandemic has disrupted manufacturing supply chains.  For several decades, the mantra was ‘just in time’ supply.  It made sense in that it reduced Work In Production (WIP) and thus capital tied up in inventory.  But we had already seen issues with natural disasters interrupting supply chains… but when an entire global economy is interrupted?  The new mantra will have to be something more like ‘resilient & agile’ as well as ‘just in time’.  Manufacturers and logistics firms that solve this puzzle will dominate the next century.

We’ve seen contradictory developments in health care delivery.  On one hand, some hospitals have been overwhelmed with sick and dying patients, while others and many clinics, have been shuttered by others avoiding them lest they be exposed.  We’ve seen that our earlier ideas about mobile emergency hospital ships have proven nearly useless, yet the idea that developed out of warfare, the Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) unit proved itself.  Yet, we still didn’t have enough in some places and too much in others.  Solving this will be BIG.

Imagine if you will (said in Rod Serling voice) a simple at home sample that one licks and seals.  It has a grid of chemical reagents that detect compounds and antibodies and changes color.  One then takes a photograph with their smartphone.  One’s fitness wearable has constantly measured other variables.  A web based system analyzes the photo and provide instant diagnoses and even orders one’s new meds if it detects changes in disease, etc.  If the system detects something that requires it, an appointment for a video conference with a physician is scheduled.  Vaccinations are provided annually via peel and stick patches mailed to your home.  Another lick and seal antibody test days later confirms one’s immune status.  Clinical visits would be rare.  But when they do occur, one would walk through a whole body scanner at the entrance and the medical AI will have delivered it’s evaluation before you see the physician and if needed, personalized medication is being fabricated by a machine at a local pharmacy.  It might be a CAS9/Crisper fix for a genetic disorder, or it might be a designer virus to treat a bacterial infection.

Murder By Any Other Name

Candice eetimesWith recent calls to “open the economy” and even armed protesters blocking the streets of Michigan, there has been a recent talking point among a certain class of political pundit, echoed by the usual suspects, that efforts to reduce the spread of COVID-19 epidemic infringes upon their freedom and liberty.  I’ve even seen it being described as taking away the dignity and future of those who have become unemployed as the restrictions required are ‘carpet bombing the economy’.

Equating minor and temporary economic hardships with loss of liberty, dignity, and future?  No one has less liberty than someone in body bag, no one has less of a future.  I’ve been unemployed numerous times.  Hell, I was intermittently homeless as a late teenager / early 20s. I still had liberty, dignity, and a future.  But to claim that a job (or some financier’s stock portfolio) is worth knowingly allowing people to die when we could have prevented that?  I judge that to be depraved indifference homicide, murder by any other name.

15 Minutes of Fame…

Maybe you saw it?  My thoughts on where COVID-19 is taking us were included in an article collecting visions of SciFi writers in the Boston Globe:

https://www.bostonglobe.com/2020/03/29/business/it-actually-may-be-end-world-we-know-it/?fbclid=IwAR0793Z4ai4CTXzPaBPDhmtbGPjWOS70XA2TFm69F5DawjhUcg6p2TB3M50