What you really want…

The one thing this last few days of nonstop Queen’s funeral TV coverage has laid bare is this:

People in the USA want a monarchy. They see their own system, and *don’t* see themselves.

They have deified the office of the president, and mostly, they don’t recognize the problem with that.

Oh, sure: they say the politicians “serve” them. They’ll assert that those people are their “employees”. They’ll confidently tell anyone who will listen that their Founding Fathers based the system on classical civilizations like Athens and Rome.

But they don’t really believe that.

Sure – those bewigged and frock-coated signees to the Declaration of Independence were all classically educated, inasmuch as they were educated at all. And the forms and terms laid out do mimic what we know about how Rome’s Republic, for example, was set up.

But, in reality, they aped a constitutional monarchy, while giving the titular head of that monarchy a lot more power than most people, even at the time, thought kings ought to have. They did away with the hereditary aspect and added in an electoral process, but the Senate and the House are not much more than the House of Commons and the House of Lords with different names.

And they treat the office of the presidency with the same unquestioning loyalty and reverence that most of the English had for their kings. Maybe more.

In fact, like I said, an awful lot of Americans really want a monarchy.

They don’t really want to vote – it seems inconvenient. And they balk at the idea that people who arrived in the last few decades get to have the same rights as those who were already there do – always excepting those who came before any of their ancestors did, of course.

They want someone they can follow blindly.

They want someone to take on the responsibilities they cannot be bothered with.

Now, this isn’t much different than most other countries. People everywhere seem to have lost the desire to be free – or at least, they’ve lost the understanding that freedom entails some active responsibility outside of elections.

But the problem in the USA is that a significant minority has the ability to make these desires a reality, by fair means or foul, and the last few years has only cemented those desires.

Little kingdoms


The rich are getting ready.

Rather than even make vague attempts at avoiding the disaster itself, the ultra-wealthy are devising ways to protect themselves from the consequences of the environmental collapse that they assume will usher in violent anarchy for the rest of us.

They’re building compounds in isolated places, stockpiling food, and hiring private armies.

Now, please don’t think, as a person earning over six figures, that you are part of this. You are either their enemy or their staff – rid yourself of the notion that because right now, you’re earning enough not to notice rising food prices as anything more than a newsbrief annoyance, that you are in any way protected or on that side of the economic fence. Unless you can afford to buy a 500-acre ranch in New Zealand, you aren’t part of this deal.

And maybe that’s a good thing, because these people are so used to hiring personnel to do almost everything for them, their survival, over the long haul, is probably much smaller than yours.

The really rich don’t actually know how to do anything, and they don’t really understand anything about how the world, when stripped of both servants and technology, actually works.

Just suppose someone decides that the best place to build their refuge is Alaska (one of the many places they think of as isolated enough to be safe). Or in their urban bunkers? Or their gated suburbs?

How to grow food, once the store-rooms have been depleted, how to fix the inverter when the solar collection system goes down, how to treat illnesses without a fully-equipped hospital – they don’t know how to do these things. They certainly don’t seem to understand where the new supplies would be coming from.

And their kids will be even worse, because what their parents don’t know how to do is all the stuff that would need to be passed on but can’t be.

Oh, they might think, in a short-term way, about these things, and build a first aid room and fill it with equipment, and hire a doctor or three, and maybe a nurse or two as well.

What happens if there’s an accident or illness those people aren’t really trained for occurs? What happens when they die? Who would take their place? Their untrained children?

Their hired armed guards face the same problem: how and who will they train?

Most of the articles detailing the plans for hunkering down and riding out the calamities don’t look past the original group’s survival, and they say nothing about taking care of their guards’ or servants’ families, so once these former Navy Seals or whoever age and die off – who does the job then? Who trains the next generation of slaves?

What happens when the ammo runs out? When there are no more spare parts?

Given that the group of “owners” is small (I mean, that’s sort of the point), and the need for underlings is therefore going to be big, and assuming the people in charge think past a decade or so of being housebound – well, this isn’t Mesopotamia of 5000 years ago, and it isn’t Europe of the 1200s.

This is now, and people aren’t quite as powerless or uneducated as they used to be.

Sure – lots of people will sell their souls and their bodies to escape in some small way by working for these people.

But since they don’t need all of us, and since they can’t take away all the guns, or hire all the retired army personnel, and because there will always be more of us than them, their survival is actually less assured than anyone else’s.

We are used to doing things for ourselves. We are used to picking up the pieces. Some of us will survive because we are used to adapting to changing conditions.

It’s almost a certainty that the human race will adapt, if conditions enable us to.

The rich almost inevitably will not – they don’t understand that the world makes us, and not the other way round.

The ways of war

Last night, a military vet pointed out to me that the postwar insistence on women being passive, that their job was to create a calming, non-aggressive, male centred home environment – for women to not ever challenge the men in their lives’ decisions or actions; all this – was possibly an attempt to deal with the massive cases of PTSD that the former soldiers of WW2 were coming home with.

And I can’t stop thinking about this.

Setting suns and all that

I know some people are extremely sad about the Queen’s death – that they feel a great sense of loss, and are hurt by posts that point out that not everyone shares their sentiments.

They are quick to point out that she had no political power, and so cannot be blamed for any bad things done in her name by the governments at various points during her reign.

But this is a kind of handwaving action – she was a very, very rich woman, and that wealth was stolen not only from the many countries that Britain overran and dominated, but also from the British people themselves. At no point in her life did she attempt to return any of that wealth, and she signed her name to many actions that served to support and continue that domination.

It seems sad to me that we still try to revere and worship her position in the world, as if the fact that she was a “direct descendant” of a man who is literally known mainly for his conquest and domination of another country, while ignoring these facts – as if a thin thread of blood relationship made her special and above the common herd.

What of the millions of people who have died to maintain her position in the world? What about the extreme poverty that was forced upon the countries that were colonized by governments her family represented in the past and still represent today?

Why feel sad that despite getting gold-plated medical services (while most of the population of the UK are seeing their services cut through underfunding) she only lived to the age of 96?

Why extoll the virtues of a job that consisted of being ferried to a place, cutting a ribbon, making a short speech, and then receiving a bouquet or two while smiling emptily at children, before being ferried home again?

The British monarchy had no political power, you say, and thus her actions, good or bad, were scripted by various governments at various times – but that means that even her “war service” was not her choice – that every action she performed, every speech she made would have been the product of other people’s decisions and therefore neither to her credit or discredit – she was simply a symbol.

A lot of people do not see this as particularly praiseworthy, and certainly not worth $28 billion dollars, which is what the Windsor family’s wealth is currently estimated at.

Marketing Not-Monday

“The most popular and best time slot for posting on Twitter looks to be 7am – 9am on a Friday, while Wednesday at 9am is also a popular time, with engagement levels remaining strong throughout the day.”


I don’t have a Patreon or a Kofi. There’s no Kickstarter attached to my name. I’m not going to spin you a sob story to make you feel like you should help me out in my distress.

I just have some books out there that I think you’d enjoy. Certainly, based on the reviews I have gotten, few though they be, a lot of readers agree.

They’re priced pretty low, because I think you’d like them, too.


(for some reason, this one loaded differently than the others…it’s still my personal fave, though.)


(This one, too, didn’t load the same way…if you want to know more about me…)

^^^Free on KU!^^^

This one’s kind of an academic thing about early medieval Irish food…good for worldbuilding and re-enactors, though.

A LOT of Christians don’t really seem to believe in God

I am totally serious.


Well, if they profess to believe in an all-powerful omnipresent/omniscient being who created the universe and everything in it, and that he judges every human soul individually and then metes out punishment or reward in appropriate measure…

Why are they so intent on doing his job for him?

They don’t seem confident that God is capable of doing what they claim he is supposed to do.

They insist on attacking people from everything they say is subject to their God’s judgement – they want to straight-up imprison and/or murder everyone who doesn’t agree with them, or who do stuff that they’ve decided is against their god’s law.

They constantly seem driven to usurp their god’s position as ultimate judge by harming other people…unless, of course, it’s their own pastor or priest, in which case, the sinner loudly and publicly repents, and then, naturally, the victims of those sins are expected to be Christlike and forgive the sinner.

Perhaps, I suppose, it’s not that they don’t “believe” in God.

Maybe it’s just that they don’t really trust him to be vindictive enough.

I watched a lot of Jordan Peterson’s stuff on Youtube so you don’t have to.

I confess, I couldn’t, after this, read any of his books, because a) I didn’t want to add any oxygen (or money) to his bubble, and b) there’s only so much arrogant tripe anyone can be expected to put up with.

And here’s the thing I need to explain to you: getting multiple degrees and a job at a university was not particularly hard for someone from Peterson’s age group.

The degrees themselves are nowhere near as difficult to obtain as you would think, even today.

If you have the money, of course, but in Canada, at least, it’s still do-able without indebting yourself forever. For a decade or so – yes. Forever…not quite.

But the work required? Completely within the realm of anyone with basically average intelligence.

All you need to do is spend 4 years regurgitating back to every prof exactly what they believe. Hey! Presto! – you’ve got a BA. Suck up enough, and you’ll get into an MA program, and by minimal observation, you can figure out what the faculty wants and they’ll help you into a Phd.

Now it is hard to get a job afterwards these days, but Peterson graduated in 1991, and it was somewhat more open a field back then.

You don’t need to be smart to do these things.

You can substitute smarmy flattery and submissive kowtowing to your superiors for intelligence – some might even go so far as to suggest that, in fact, these behaviours will get you much further than your brains ever will.

And I have to tell you, Peterson is not some prophetic genius howling in the wilderness.

He’s a fifth rate hack, throwing words together like those monkeys banging out Shakespeare on an battered Olivetti.

His “scholarship” is spotty, at best, and he constantly makes statements that are demonstrably false.

It’s not even that he cherry-picks his data – most of what he uses as the basis for his arguments and their conclusions isn’t even data at all.

It’s carefully-chosen quotes, pulled way out of context, and then married to unrelated statements with wild leaps into sloganeering hyperbole.

In one lecture, he quoted a bit from Orwell’s “The Road to Wigan Pier” describing a desperate woman’s comprehension of her lot and the unfairness of it, slips in a later bit where Orwell was discussing the inutility of bourgeois sympathy, and uses that to ridicule people who try to mobilize against poverty.

Never mind that it’s obvious that Peterson has absolutely no understanding of Orwell or his work, and has not given a single thought to the social background that Orwell was writing from, let alone Orwell’s own experiences and beliefs — most people don’t really get that, and because it wouldn’t serve them to understand it all, they very consciously do not — it’s that his conclusion of “Do nothing” is so incredibly idiotic.

Some of his interviews show him to be so shallow and self-centred that it’s hard to understand how he functioned as a clinical psychologist without being brought up on malpractice charges. Words like compassion and empathy don’t seem to have entered his vocabulary.

But plenty of other words are there, and it’s doubtful that he knows what most of them mean. He’s very good at stringing them together in ways that sound as if they have meaning – deep meaning – until you try working out the actual sense, and realize that most of it amounts to almost nothing at all.

You know what kinds of people used to be famous for doing that?

Snake-oil salesmen.

Since then, this came up on my FB wall…

The next big thing…

Monkeypox might be a blessing in disguise.

Wait, what?

Hear me out. The problem with Covid was that it was more or less invisible, and even if you got it but survived, you could still say “It’s just the flu!” or “It’s a hoax!” and then continue on your merry way.

But something that is literally on your face – something that leaves hideous scars? Forever?

Believe me, the vain and self-centred will be screaming bloody murder over that.

You can’t hide from pock marks, and in a world that’s prioritized physical beauty of unattainable standards over pretty much every other attribute save massive wealth…well, even the diehard “freedom!” bleaters will be ready to do anything to avoid the badges of stupidity.

Like those USA rats leaving the sinking ships as they arrive in the courts to answer for their antics on January 6th, they’ll abandon those “principles” in a heartbeat when they realize that forever after, every stranger they meet will be able to see their stupidity before anything else about them.

It won’t take epidemic numbers. All it will take is seeing one lone grocery store clerk with the evidence writ large at the check-out, and “Mandatory Vaccination” will be their war cry.

Why bother?

Writing is like sex. First you do it for love, then you do it for your friends, and then you do it for money.
–Virginia Woolf

I’m not saying I write for money, although even the eBooks bring in a little bit.

I’m not sure I do it for my friends, although they do seem to enjoy the stuff that I have written.

And I’m not sure I even started out writing for “love”, because the first novel was written to win a bet, and honestly, I never intended to write any other fiction.

But here we are: I’ve self-published five fantasy novels, nine short stories, one memoir, and an academic thing about what the early medieval Irish people ate.

I’ve got another couple of fantasy novels on the go (let’s hope I can get them finished!) and another academic one – this time on the meaning and purpose of textile tools buried with people in early Anglo-Saxon England.

I don’t, as I say, write them “for money” – but that’s not entirely true, because actually, in this present system, money – even very tiny amounts of it – are the way we measure success and ability.

And that’s why you should buy art from people: their books, their drawings and paintings, their music. You should go to their dance recitals, and their community theatre offerings.

Because that’s the biggest compliment and the most realistic and concrete support there is in a world ruled by money.

It’s simultaneously a virtual hug for them and a nose-thumb at big corporations, and that’s a lot of bang for the buck.

Hell hounds, demons, and witches: oh my!

Someone is trying to start a war in the Otherworld, and it’s up to one young Fae to stop it before it spills over onto the Human plane.






As I was saying…

Look, I know I keep saying that I don’t give writing advice, but honestly, I cannot let this pass.

I won’t out the author, but the fact is that someone just put out one of those “teaser” tweets – and that teaser was maybe 100 words.

It was dialogue and there were two people (possibly three, although because it was only 100 words, it was slightly difficult to tell. I think three, but one didn’t talk, or maybe they did but then shut up and the rest was just these two other people.)

And they did not actually talk.

They encouraged. They snickered. They groused. They grinned. They shrugged their words like a late nineteenth century aristocrat.

They did not, under any circumstances, say anything, and I am here to tell you that this is literally the MOST ANNOYING THING a writer of fiction can do.

That exercise you did in school – the one where the teacher got you to use every possible word except “said”, to indicate dialogue?

This was NOT supposed to teach you how to write prose dialogue.

It was there to enlarge your English vocabulary and widen your horizons about the language you speak.

I’m pretty sure none of your teachers were successful, well-known fiction writers. They weren’t editors for major publishers, or book reviewers for the New York Times.

They were teachers, and most of them were and are teaching to reach the widest possible common denominator, and also to a curriculum that is not in any way, shape, or form trying to produce novelists.

The problem with using every dialogue tag except for the simple and basic “said” is two-fold.

First, if you are writing well, humour, sarcasm, support, sadness, and any other emotion should be generally apparent without the author needing to signpost it with flashing neon lights. If you write a joke that actually IS funny, the speaker had better not “joke” it, or “quip” it, because that tells the reader that this probably is not funny at all – the author is trying desperately to convince the reader that these dull and unimportant words are amusing, and that if they didn’t laugh, that’s the reader’s fault, not theirs.

You really don’t want to do that.

The second thing is that all those tags used up for perfectly ordinary conversation means that when a really important moment comes along, the reader won’t necessarily notice, because they are so accustomed to over-the-top and massively informative dialogue tags littering the scene, that when the character shouts or whispers something, it has no force left at all.

It doesn’t just fail to move them – it fails to register anything at all.

The word “said” (and its cousin “asked”) is best 97 per cent of the time. Really. For most readers, it becomes invisible, and they “hear” the dialogue as if they were standing beside the characters, shamelessly eavesdropping. You don’t need anything more elaborate ( and frequently, you don’t need a tag at all – there are ways to avoid them and good reasons that you should) and that’s where the word-magic happens.

If you stick to said/asked for most conversation, that moment where someone does, in fact, need to shout or whisper, or scream, or whimper, it will make the reader really feel the emotion. They will clench their own stomach muscles. Their shoulders will tense. Their own eyes might fill with tears.

And that, my friends, is what good writing does for us.