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Piers Anthony at work
OctOgre 2003
I reserve the months SapTimber, OctOgre, and NoRemember to write my annual Xanth novel, which is due at the publisher around the turn of the year. Xanth always moves well, and I normally complete it in two and a half months. But this time I was concerned about conflicting jobs, such as proofreading the galleys for the second quarter million word ChroMagic novel, which would take a solid week, and judging the maybe five or six fantasy finalists for the Draco award that DOUBLE-DRAGON is sponsoring. I'm a slow reader; if those landed at the same time I could be in trouble. So I settled down to work on Xanth # 29 Pet Peeve, the one about an irritable talking green bird of the parody species, promptly on the first of the month, and moved it along as well as I could, wasting no time. Par, for my writing is 3,000 words of text a day, five days a week, with 2 days off for correspondence. Thus 15,000 words a week, 60,000 words a month. So theoretically I could do a 120,000 word novel in two months. But par is like golf: only the top pros expect to make it or beat it routinely. Life often gets in the way. However, with the fear of those other novels to read, I focused acutely, keeping my nose to the grindstone, or to put it in proper fantasy terms, the peeve's beak to the roc, and moved it very well. In fact in 27 days I wrote 81,000 words, breaking my single month record of 76,000. And the galleys didn't come, and I realized that the fantasy contest novels aren't due until after I finish writing this novel anyway. I was racing for no reason. Well, I never claimed to be very bright; remember, I'm the one who took three years and five schools to graduate from first grade. And it means that I may indeed complete the novel and edit it within two months. But it feels too much like running a marathon race. No, that doesn't mean I cheapened the writing; this may be the funniest Xanth yet, and it has elements that haven't been seen in Xanth before, like goblin love and an invasion of robots. You'll like it, unless you're a reviewer.

So I started this column on the 28th day, hoping to jam it through efficiently too, and update the ongoing electronic publishing survey by the turn of the month, puff puff. But in the rush of writing there were time consuming details I had to skip over, that I need for the completion of the novel. What to do? A dim bulb flashed over my head--such things are literal in Xanth--and I realized I could ask my loyal readers, who generally seem to know more about Xanth than I do. Certainly they send in cutely phrased "questions" that point out inconsistencies, such as how come Cynthia Centaur lacked the tail-flicking body-lightening magic of other flying centaurs, then later had it? Since I can't afford to get caught in an error lest I lose credibility and break my fans' hearts, I have to strain my brain to produce a credible answer, somewhat the way current American administration officials do when asked where those documented Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq are. For the record: Cynthia lacked it that tail magic, but then in Harpy Thyme was transformed by Magician Trent to another form, and back to winged centaur, and he absent mindedly used the template for the other type of flying. It took her a while to realize, but in time she did. Anyway, for some loyal detail-tabulating reader out there: if you can answer one or both of these questions within a week of the appearance of this column (so I have time to revise my material before it's Too Late), I'll give you a measly credit in the Author's Note, buried where few will notice it. Fair enough?

#1: I'm sure I had reference to Iron Mountain, I think in Color of Her Panties, which is a mountain in south Xanth made entirely of iron. By some suspicious coincidence there is a tourist attraction by that name in the same section of Florida. In Pet Peeve I have a major battle there, so I want to know exactly what I said about it before. But I can't find the reference, frustratingly. Can you? #2: There is a description of Lake Wails, with the wailing monster who leaves little prints on the water--the prints of wails--a little south of Iron Mountain, in the same spot as Florida's Lake Wales. I thought maybe I had that in The Source of Magic, but can't find it there. Maybe it's also in Panties? I'd like to have the title of the novel and the page number, so I can verify my memory of the locale. If, perish forbid, I should receive half a slew of correct answers, I'll credit the first five and stop there; there has to be a reasonable limit, even for magic.

My prior project, which to my surprise I wasn't able to finish, so I will return to it after Xanth is done, was my semi-biography of my father as seen through the eyes of the major women in his life. There have been, as you might imagine, some dismaying things I have discovered, especially as I explored the circumstances of my own genesis, but I suspect this is the normal penalty for poking into one's parents' lives. But also some odd notes. One was a quote from a prayer "The Fountain," beginning "When I was a boy, God held my hand, but I escaped from him." As an agnostic I find that intriguing. God never held my hand; I'm not a refugee, but one who never felt the need for this particular fantasy. No, the prayer is not agnostic; it tells how the lost boy grew up forever searching for God, and finally found God within himself, per Quaker doctrine: the Inner Light. If I believed in God, that's the way I would have it. In fact I already do: cultures make their gods in their own images. I like G. B. Shaw's statement in the Revolutionist's Handbook: "Beware of the man whose god is in the sky."

My favorite author is surely George Bernard Shaw, the playwright, especially for his author's notes. I have his complete plays, which some day maybe I'll read--ah, the delights we postpone forever, waiting for the appropriate time--and was checking them when I saw an odd title: "Why She Would Not." Many a man has surely wondered that about his wife or girlfriend. The play was short, so I read it, and discovered it was incomplete. Shaw was writing a play when he died in 1950, and this must be the one, unfinished. It's about a woman who befriends a man who helps her, gets him a job, and he thrives and is obviously the man for her. But she would not marry him, because she likes to run things herself, and he is too competent. So what happens? Shaw's death prevents us from knowing, but were I writing it, I would have him suffer an accident that makes him dependent. Then she would marry him, as she would have the upper hand. Which reminds me of a piece by my favorite poet, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, "Kubla Khan," also unfinished. A reader wrote to me once urging me to finish it, but I'm not sure that I could match Coleridge's intention or his phenomenal poetic skill. No false modestly here; I can do just about anything I aspire to, but Shaw and Coleridge represent peaks beyond my aspirations, even when they are unfinished.

Last time I mentioned temporarily joining AOL so as to participate in a chat room interview. I thought it might be difficult to quit, and it was. Oh, I called the number, and after a 25 minute hassle got through to the right party and got canceled. But that wasn't the end of it. Periodically they called us back, with special resubscription offers, and the software on the hard disk refused to let itself be completely removed. AOL, I learned, is in some respects like a virus. At one point I returned to the computer, whose screen saver was on, meaning it had been at least five minutes since I had touched a key, and heard dialing. Yes, AOL was calling itself up, though we had abolished the summoning icons. Had I not returned when I did, and hastily exited it, my system could have been on for hours, racking up charges. This was still in the grace period, so I wouldn't have to pay, but what of later days? So we delved more deeply and trashed every AOL file we could find. It was sort of like beating a zombie to death--zombies don't readily die--but it is finally quiescent, I think. And of course I'll never touch AOL again.

Which brings me to a coincidental connection: some of my readers are at AOL, and on occasion they email me. Okay, if you mail me from AOL and don't get an answer, it's not because of my direct problem with them. It's because AOL may bounce my reply. No, not in retaliation; I test-joined it under a different name. It's that these damn viruses and worms now use fake return addresses, including hijacking ours, so AOL thinks HiPiers is spamming it or sending it viruses. We had a warning from eBay too, and sometimes from elsewhere. Folk, we have Norton antivirus software, constantly updated, that checks all incoming and outgoing email; we are not sending anyone either spam or viruses. But until AOL and others catch on that return addresses are being faked, we are at risk for being blocked there. Maybe if the address of someone important gets faked, causing inconvenience, something will finally be done about the viruses and spammers. I imagine this response to such a prank: "Dear Secretary of State: I am not accepting any more of your emails, because you called me an ignorant turd and sent me a virus. I don't care if you did find Weapons of Mass Destruction, you are to be blocked henceforth. PS--I don't think that term 'ignorant' was called for." Signed, the President. So maybe the Attorney General will sift through garbage and locate the originator of the fake email and hang him up by his toenails for two years before he gets charged, but meanwhile what about the rest of us? Yes, we wrote to our Internet Service Provider, EarthLink, carefully explaining the situation--and got the bug letter. Oh, you who came on the scene yesterday are not familiar with that? I'll tell you the story that best illustrates it. Once upon a time a traveler took a train ride, and was appalled to find the coach overridden with roaches. He wrote an angry letter to the president of the railroad company. In due course he received the president's response: "Dear Mr. Gleep: Thank you for calling our attention to this problem. We are shocked, shocked to learn that you encountered such a situation. Rest assured that we will do everything in our power to clear our coaches of vermin and maintain the quality of hygiene you have every right to expect. We appreciate responsible passengers such as yourself, and value your business." Well, now; that was very good. But Mr. Gleep noticed that something was clipped to the letter. Apparently it was the president's instruction to his secretary, who had forgotten to remove it before mailing the letter. (Such things can happen when handling hundreds of similar letters a day.) It was a scrawled note: "Send this SOB the bug letter." Okay, no note was clipped to our email response, but it was definitely the bug letter; we know it when we see it. It even politely informed us that we were infected with the SoBig worm, apparently taking one of the fakes as gospel, instead of addressing the real problem. They must get thousands of complaints such as ours, and have no more intention of addressing them than did the railroad. That's why bug letters are used.

Which naturally brings me to the Do Not Call list. Yes, we signed up for it, toward the end; I think we were about the 50 millionth. Then a court blocked its implementation, because the government department lacked sufficient authority, so Congress quickly revised the law to get it on again. And another court blocked it because it doesn't cover charitable solicitations. At this writing it's in limbo, which I hope is expeditiously resolved. Yes, I'd like to see charitable and political solicitations blocked too. I am capable of forming my own opinions and making my own decisions with respect to these things, and prefer not to be bugged by phone. Humor columnist Dave Barry published the number of a telemarketing firm that claims the list is unconstitutional so that readers could swamp it with calls. It seems the firm was not amused. Another interesting aspect: some of the bosses of telemarketing firms have their own numbers on that do-not-call list. Hm.

All this is quite apart from readers who send me queries, and my answer bounces because their email address is not valid. Cale A. Numinen, if you're reading this: I wrote you a full letter answer the end of AwGhost. It bounced. So if you cursed me for not answering, now you know the fault was yours. Next time use a valid address. I don't appreciate having my time wasted by a thoughtless reader.

The cute little paper wasps (in Xanth they don't make paper, they are made of paper) on my door were doing fine one day, a dozen or more associated with that nest. Next day there were none. I think there must be a bird that comes through like a killer planet and gobbles them all up. Damn. But next day I discovered another paper-wasp nest, of a rather different nature: a foot-thick gourd-shaped edifice about twenty feet above our drive. Those would be hornets, and I doubt that bird bothers them much.

I read that one theory about men's nocturnal erections is that they are to ensure that the penis gets enough oxygen. I suspect that's hogwash, like the early theory that the purpose of the brain is to cool the blood, but time will tell. It could lead to a new kind of therapy. A man in the hospital wakes to find a shapely young woman approaching his bed. "Hello, Mr. Gleep, I am Oola, your oxygenation therapist." "My what?" "Have no fear, I'm not here to give you a shot. We just need to be sure that all your parts are properly oxygenated. Now let's just uncover you and open your hospital gown--" "Hey!" "And proceed. Yes, you are in dire need of oxygenation. Now let's get you standing tall." She removes the upper portion of her uniform, revealing a splendid set of breasts. "What, no oxygen yet? We shall just have to try harder." She removes the lower portion and turns grandly around, showing protean buttocks. "Mr. Gleep, you don't seem to be cooperating. We shall just have to get serious." She gets into bed with him, her hands busy. "Ah, now we have it. Excellent!" She gets quickly out of the bed and dresses. "But--" he protests. "Now you just hold that for five minutes, Mr. Gleep, and do it again an hour later. Perfect oxygenation. On to my next patient." She departs, leaving him rigidly oxygenated with nowhere to put it. And to think anyone ever thought therapists were teases.

Then there's the news item about auto-ads coming on when a person uses a public bathroom. So Mr. Gleep sits on the toilet, and is treated to a hemorrhoid treatment ad. Or uses the urinal, and gets a penis enlargement ad. The women of course would get vagina ads: get that rag off and try our new improved tampons. Or use alum for tight closure. Which reminds me of the collection of MALEDICTA books in my library. MALEDICTA is "The International Journal of Verbal Aggression," edited by Reinhold Aman, and it covers a lot. The last issue I received, back in 1996, had a section on "Shit Happens." It showed (facetiously) how different religions, politics, professions, famous people and such would approach it. One example: Teddy Roosevelt would say "Grunt softly and take a big shit." (He actually said "Speak softly and carry a big stick.") Get the idea? I hope I didn't just give one to the auto-ad folk. Famous quotations adapted to the urgent need. What fabulous poop!

At this writing the California recall election has had its own adventures, including a couple of court challenges. Without commenting politically on it, I nevertheless appreciate some of the humor it has stirred up. Columnist Molly Ivins remarked that Arnold Schwarzenegger looks like a condom stuffed with walnuts. Why do I suspect she's not a Republican? But PARADE ran a picture of him when he's not making a Terminator movie, and he was just as fiftyish and dumpy as the rest of us. Despite the remarks of some, he's not a stupid or mean-spirited man, and he has a live-wire wife, and I suspect California could do worse as governor, and has in the past. We'll see. But my concern is for those who have trouble spelling his name. I worked out a mnemonic device back when I novelized his movie Total Recall: We have no trouble with the first or last letters, SCH and ER; it's all the ones in the middle that are difficult. But they do make sense: what kind of movies does he make? Action, violence and WAR. But sometimes there's a bit of mood, so add ZEN. And sometimes humor, and he winds up with egg on his face. EGG. Put them all together inside the outside letters and you have it, and will never misspell him again. That will surely enable you to rest easy at night. This has been a public service explanation for Californians.

Meanwhile I read a book or three. One was Too Profitable to Cure by Groves and Hoadley. It's on diabetes, and is frightening. It seems that the newer, laboratory-made insulin has certain side effects for some users that can make it lethal. Now I'm a vegetarian who was once diagnosed diabetic, and I welcomed the arrival of vegetarian insulin, but now I'd be scared to use it. You see, with normal pig-origin insulin the patient has some warning when it is doing its job too well, and has time to take some sugar before he goes into shock. But the new "human" type doesn't give that warning; he feels fine, until suddenly he's out. If he's alone, or driving, that can kill him. Human insulin kills more people than terrorists do, and there can be complications like liver problems, stroke, heart disease, eye damage that may be caused by the insulin, rather than the disease. Mortality has tripled--and they blame the patient. Uh-huh. So he'd be better off returning to the old type. But here's the catch: it's almost impossible to get the old type any more in America, because the big drug outfits make more money on the new type, and have quietly gotten the old type off the market. Thus the title: in the name of their profits, you must risk sudden death. And of course they won't tell you about that particular side effect. If you're using insulin--and it seems there are more Type II diabetics using it than Type I, because they are a much larger group--I suggest that you locate and read this book, rather than settle for my layman's summary, then make your own decision. I read this as an electronic edition, and am uncertain where it is to be published, but a Googol search for the title should help. I doubt that writing to the insulin providers would garner more than a bug letter, though.

Writer Kristina O'Donnelly, whose novel The Horseman I mentioned last column, sent me via Amazon.com When the Sky Fell: In Search of Atlantis, by Rand and Rose Flem-Ath, and I read it. Now I'm an Atlantis skeptic, satisfied that the Greeks were thinking of the island kingdom of Crete and the horrendous detonation of the Thera volcano. There's no damned sunken continent in the Atlantic Ocean. But one difference between me and other skeptics is that I try to keep my mind open. If someone shows me a living ghost (as it were) or a Flying Saucer from Mars, I'll investigate. Sometimes the incredible turns out to be true, such as plate tectonics, or meteors killing dinosaurs, or the best-seller potential of fantasy. If someone makes a truly convincing case for the existence of God, I'll listen. Meanwhile, I doubt. But this book makes a damned interesting case. Its thesis is, in a nutshell, that the fabled Atlantis was the continent of Antarctica, which was warmer in the past. How could that be? Because the skin of the planet may periodically slip around some, carrying continents to warmer or colder climes. No, don't sneer; the authors take pains to present a credible case. If before the last slip Antarctica was warmer, say 50,000 years ago, there could have been human habitation there, and early civilization. So where are its ruins? Buried under ice. This is similar to my thesis that the coastlines of the Americas were colonized earlier than is generally credited, the evidence buried by the rising sea level of the past ten thousand years. There are mysteries about the evolution and migrations of mankind that are still being fathomed; this is one of my serious interests, as my historical fiction shows. So while I remain doubtful about Atlantis--for one thing, ice corings suggest it has been frozen over for at least 750,000 years--this is another book that skeptics should read before condemning. I realize it's wishful thinking to suppose that skeptics on anything might try to be objective, but it would be nice. I would hate to be the only objective skeptic.

And I read my own novel Macroscope. Mundania Press will republish it, with a brief author's note, so it will be available again for completists. This was first published in 1969 so is one of my earlier novels, and many others rate it my best novel. Rereading it, 35 years after writing it, I found I had forgotten many details, so it was like reading it new, and I liked it. It is a good novel, the kind I'd enjoy if someone else had written it, and it covers a wide variety of notions, just as this column does, from the thoughtful to the crude. The fact is, I've always written the kind of novel that I'd like to read, in part because others were not writing that kind. Today articles are being published about the prospects for entering black holes and being transported elsewhere via them; that's in this novel. It's dated, but still solid.

And we saw a few movies. The most recent was the day I started writing this column: Matchstick Men. That reminds me in a manner of a prior one I liked, The Thomas Crown Affair, with levels on levels of deceit. It starts slow and dull, but builds as the protagonist, an expert con man, discovers a 14 year old daughter he didn't know he'd had, who aims to be his protégée and turns out to have an aptitude for it. Then things complicate as a job goes wrong. The conclusion faked me out completely.

I received a solicitation to add my name to a to-be-published ad promoting artist Darrell Sweet for the Hugo Award for Best Artist, as he's not won it before. He's about my age, and we came on to the pro scene at a similar time, and have I think had similar impact on our fields of endeavor. He has perhaps done more covers for my books, especially Xanth, than any other artist. We've corresponded. But I will not add my name to that ad. Why? Because though early on I was a devotee of awards, the more I learned of them, the less I respected them. One reason is that they tend to be given as the results of campaigns, like political office, or to those who play the game of trading votes for each other's favorites, or to pieces whose publishers give them the best distribution among the electorate, or for other reasons irrelevant to actual merit, such as death. They thus bear only coincidental relation to quality. I feel an award should be given only for perceived virtue, as decided by each person individually. An award won through campaigning is minted from debased metal, as I see it. So I no longer participate, and I list my own awards only as a service to readers who want to know; I can't say I respect them as a class. For those who want to participate, okay, and for those who win, okay, but I try to stay out of it.

Last column I mentioned that if I lost my wife and looked for another woman, I wouldn't be choosy: any smart, honest, healthy, esthetic vegetarian humanist with long dark hair and a sweet nature would be considered. A woman asked me what my wife thought of such a statement. She doesn't worry about it; she knows I'm not going anywhere. I understand there are writers, single and married, who attend conventions to get laid. Maybe that's one reason I don't attend many conventions; that particular lure isn't there for me. I can get laid much more readily and safely staying home. Though I phrased my requirements facetiously, they are accurate, however. I'm not an active humanist, but humanism pretty much defines my beliefs, and I think I am incapable of loving a woman who eats dead animals.

Remember that big power blackout in the northeast? I received a fan letter from George Morrow, living in that area, shortly after it. I asked him whether he had done something foolish, such as sticking his wet finger into a power outlet to see what would happen. He replied "I assure you that it was not my wet finger in an outlet that started the North Eastern blackout. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. The outlet has been replaced and the finger is healing nicely." I'm relieved to hear it; I wouldn't want to lose a reader that way.

Notice from the Electronic Publishing Survey: FAMOUS HISTORICAL CHARACTERS ANTHOLOGY-- www.worddabbler.com. This is a one-shot anthology of erotica featuring famous historical characters from Cleopatra to Elvis: any that turn you on. Any sexual orientation, but no underage or non-consensual encounters. (Translation: no kiddieporn or rape.) Try to keep length under 6,500 words. Reprints are okay if you have the rights. Query by email, but submit only hard copy. Deadline is December 1, 2003, so get it on soon.

Warning sent by Sandi Van Handel of AT&T: DON'T EVER DIAL AREA CODE 809, 284, OR 876. The come-on may say something like "Hey, this is Karen. Sorry I missed you--get back to us quickly. Have something important to tell you." Then a phone number beginning with 809. It's a scam: they charge you $2425 per minute. It's foreign, not covered by US regulations.

I received a letter from a reader, Andi, about an ugly occurrence. She and her husband were expecting, but she suffered a miscarriage. She had announced the pregnancy on a message board shared by folk who attended an American high school for the military in Italy. Then of course she had to post the disappointment. Most responses were supportive, but one was malicious. I quote it complete: "Andi, I am touched that your body rejected your unborn baby. What did you and your husband do with the little dead baby? I would have saved it in a jar and served it to my guests on X-mas. Yummy, nothing beats fresh miscarriage babies!!!! Sir Hump Alot " Okay, she was hurt, and asked me if I could explain why this one response seemed to cut more deeply than others. I did my best, the essence being that she was a sincerely feeling human being, and she said my letter did help. But I don't want to leave it there. I'd like to nail the freak who did this. Of course the return address was not valid, but I have some knowledgeable readers. Does anyone know how to run down such an identity? I'll be happy to relay such information.

I was interviewed for a magazine: PARADOX--The Magazine of Historical and Speculative Fiction. This is a physical magazine that publishes three issues a year. Its site is http://home.nyc.rr.com/paradoxmag/.

I no longer track the Nigerian scam; it just goes on and on. But now it is spreading to other locales and types. I received an Iraqi version, and one from Malaysia. There is also a lottery scam, and I have received several variants. The essence is that I have won half a million to two and a half million dollars. I must designate my bank account so the money can be transmitted to it, and must keep the matter private. Etc. I also received a warning from http://haystackinaneedle.com/news/200304_traffic_magnet.htm about Sarah Williams of TrafficMagnet, a firm promising to submit your site to 300,000 search engines and directories. It's a scam; there is no Sarah Williams, and there aren't that many suitable sites. I also received notices purportedly from Microsoft, telling where to get security patches. The notices themselves carried a virus.

But one legitimate site is www.perfectbound.com, where Xanths 13, 14, and 15 are being published. That's Isle of View, Question Quest, and Color of Her Panties. So if you have wanted to get into Panties electronically, now's the time.

I was sent a copy of an interview with Billy Graham's daughter. It annoyed me. Essentially she blames the liberal agenda for bad "Acts of God." It's an extended argument to break down the constitutional separation of church and state. Sure, and we'd wind up with a government like that of Iran, only in the name of Christianity. If hell is real, this is the way Satan would argue, to destroy what made America great.

Another email described Project I SEE YOU, dawnfromorcas@centurytel.net. This is a project started by Dawn Macaskill, to enable children from all over the world to see each other and share their dreams and life stories. I am wary of email solicitations--there are way too many to keep up with, and every one is for the world's best cause--but I mention this for readers who may wish to check.

I continue with my exercise program, trying to stay physically as well as mentally fit. My main adventure is the archery, trying to get a decent score on my target. Remember, I loose the arrows from 150 feet, and if one strikes the marked one square foot in the center, that's +1, and if it misses the two foot wide target, that's -1. One day my right side bow performance was +5, followed by the left side bow of -5, leaving me with 0. Next time the right was -1, and the left was +1, totaling 0 again. My best was +2 right, +4 left for a cumulative +6. But more often than not the total is negative. I used to have better scores, and am not sure whether I'm losing accuracy because of bad luck or old age. My morning jogs are slowing, too. Let's face it: I am 69. Other folk in my age range are conking out. I maintain my college weight and strength, but life is more than that. But I still figure to be active and ornery for another decade or two.

I had three movie options going, on Xanth, Adept, and Incarnations. The Xanth looked most promising, but suddenly it expired, so now it's two options. However, there is other interest in Xanth, and there could be another option soon.

A reader of my biography saw a mention of the popper, a paper device that makes a popping sound, and wrote to inquire how it was made. That was the first such thing I learned to make, in first grade--it was of course not part of the official school curriculum--so naturally I remembered it. Except that when I set out to make one, so I could detail the steps, I found I had forgotten how. Ouch. I could make a water bomb or a paper airplane, but not a simple popper. So I struggled, and in effect re-invented it, producing something that popped, and wrote out the instructions. But that was a shock; what else may I have forgotten without knowing I have forgotten?

Email I received: "We have just charged your credit card for money laundry service in amount of $234.65 because you are either child pornography webmaster with dirty money, which require us to layndry [sic] them and then send you to your checking account." I did not respond.

I read an article in our local newspaper--THE CITRUS COUNTY CHRONICLE--commenting on government, and it made me think. It says if you wish to remain free, be wary of government, because governments, not private terrorists, have always been the greatest threats to liberty. I have tended to support government, because in my view privatizing everything will merely turn the power over to the big corporations who don't even pretend to care about the welfare of the common man. But as I see what is happening in the American government today, I do fear for our liberty. It has been said that when totalitarianism comes, it will come in the name of democracy. That's happening now. It looks to me as though the object of the present powers that be is to return the world to the medieval feudal system, where there are two classes: the lords and the serfs. 99% of us will be the serfs.

Sigh--I have a pile of clippings and such I'd like to share and comment on. Sometimes "recovered memories" of sexual abuse are false. A company is suing IBM and others, claiming they stole Linux. Quality diamond made artificially, cheaply. Seeing back to the origin of galaxies. The ten Commandments are not widely practiced in America; for one thing "Thou shalt not commit adultery" applied only to married women, not married men, who could have sex with single girls. Neither do we rest on the seventh day, which is Saturday. The birth of human war with the agricultural age. That lice indicate mankind started wearing clothing between 114 and 30,000 years ago. The estimate that frozen methane in the polar seas represents at least twice the known global fossil fuel resources. More material on bullying, which is something I am sensitive to. The statement that psychiatry is no better than astrology; I've known that since childhood. But my novel writing jammed my time, and I have to cut this off as a "short" column of only about 5,900 words.

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