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Piers Anthony, August, 2021

NoRemember 2021

HI-

This is the month of NoRemember, because it comes late in the year and dull-witted ogres like me have trouble remembering it. I think the Mundanes have another name, but that hardly matters, as only folk with some intelligence know it.

We completed Deep Well, a serious short novel of about 45,000 words whose purpose is to promote awareness of geothermal power as the most viable long-term replacement for the pollutive fossil fuels. Yes, solar, wind, and water power are good, and I support them and want to see them developed, but geothermal is better overall. Because the technical aspects are formidable, there is a strong personal plot line to hold the interest of the reader whose main concern is entertainment. In capsule, the geothermal specialist March, a smart and handsome man, is waiting in a college park for the office to open so that he can interview for the position of geothermal professor, when a trio of pretty college girls walks past. One is white, one is Black, and the third is Asian. The white girl, April, glances at March, and he falls instantly in love with her, per the song “There is a Lady.” Yes, he knows this is foolish, and he is not a foolish man, but somehow it happens. Surely something similar has happened to you on occasion. Only to discover later that she is lesbian, and can't love him the same way. The other two make plays for him, trying to distract him from April, and he is sorely tempted, but April is the one he loves. He gets the job, and the three girls are in his class. Then it gets complicated, for they turn out to be far more than innocent coeds. They represent powerful families who seriously intend to change the world and have the connections to do it. March is to be their instrument, and he is wary of balking them, for good reason. But he can't marry April, now that he knows, refusing to put her through that torture, though she is willing to suffer it for the sake of the important geothermal project. What to do? Well, you may consider reading the novel, when. There's more than romance there.

Sometimes MaryLee and I feel a bit cursed. This month our land-line phone has been out, because the line through our tree farm is underground and heavy rains flooded surrounding areas. Most of the incoming calls were robo anyway. As I have said before, the authorities could stop that nuisance if they wanted to; why don't they want to? So my main avenue of communication with my fans and business associates became email. Then our fire alarm system went wrong, constantly beeping though there is no fire and we replaced its batteries. So we are tuning it out, for now. Then the email computer, always balky, essentially turned itself off. So MaryLee called our geek, but his car was out of service, delaying him. So no email as I type this. Then last night there was a power blink that set all our clocks to blinking warningly. Yes, I can reset them, but it takes time and I know from past experience that doing that triggers another power blink. The curse, you know. Meanwhile MaryLee and I went grocery shopping, and when I backed slowly out of the parking spot, my eye glued to the reverse camera, bang! I collided with another vehicle. MaryLee was watching too, and didn't see it either. Apparently there was a blind spot in the camera. Only a fender-bender, but that put us into the complications of notifying the police, who were busy elsewhere, and the insurance companies, who were on off-hours recordings. MaryLee is tackling it, so she's the one going crazy at the moment instead of me. Did I mention the curse? As I have explained before, I write fantasy, I don't believe it; I have no belief at all in the supernatural. That annoys it, and so it gets back at me, as this paragraph demonstrates. On our next grocery run MaryLee got out of the car to make sure there was nothing to bang into. Then on the way home a big beautiful sand hill crane was standing in the road as I rounded a curve; I swerved to avoid it, but then there was opposing traffic limiting my space. Then the bird took off, so there was no gory contact here. But obviously the curse was still trying. Our geek finally got here, and managed to download three days of email. Sure enough, there were communications from my Deep Well collaborator and my agent that needed attention. But the system still is not fully operative, and I can't answer those emails yet. MaryLee used her Smartphone to contact my agent, but the other backlogged email is still waiting. I also have a novel to send to my proofreaders, but I can't reach them. And my monthly end of the month Family Letter to my wider family; I can write it but not send it. Putting this HiPiers column online could get delayed, causing my fans to fear that I may have gone to boot the bucket in Xanth that says KICK MEE. Did I mention the curse? I wonder whether annoyed vampires go after horror writers, or ghosts haunt murder mystery writers, or amorous spirits try to break the hearts of romance writers? It might be part of a pattern I have been slow to perceive, being a stupid ogre.

I got some curious email before the machine quit. One routine letter I answered – and my answer bounced with the notice that I am blacklisted at that address. Oh? The site is <bl.spamcop.net>. Does anyone know anything about it? As a general rule I don't like blacklisting, having been a victim of it in the 1980s. My impression is that it is generally the blacklisters who have the wrong of it. Certainly in my case thirty years ago I was being punished for being honest, and I don't think any of those blacklisters have bragged about it since. So this has a smell. Another one was from RIGHTHWING.org, which claims to represent the majority interested in protecting truth, justice, and the American way. “We are the mortal enemy of misinformation, extremes, corruption, fake news, racial division, environmental assaults and the disarmament of Americans.” I was invited to claim my CVS gift. Thanks, no thanks, folk; my impression of the contemporary right wing is that it opposes these things, except for supporting the free availability of guns, so that the criminal carnage can continue. Why should the Virus get all the gory, I mean glory for the rampant death toll?

And a positive one: an Aussie fan, JJ TOKYO, clarified the mystery of Waltzing Matilda. Matilda is a nickname for a backpack. Waltzing in that age meant gypsy life on the road. So waltzing Matilda means hiking from one town to another, living out of a backpack. Thank you for that information! He also inquires whether I am suspicions of the covid vaccine; do I think this is part of some kind of global reset? No, but I might be a bit suspicious of the origin of covid-19, which the relevant governments seem to be concealing; but the vaccine, imperfect as it may be, is our best answer to the pandemic. I've had my first and second shots. My main suspicion is of the motives of those who openly refuse to get vaccinated or to wear masks in public, thus spreading the virus and causing many more deaths. They have a right to believe in global hoaxes and to do as they do, but when they actually attack those they see wearing masks they are impinging on the freedom of others, so apparently it is only their own destructive freedom they care about.

I have been discussing cryonics with correspondent “jt.” Cryonics has nothing to do with crying; it is the process of freezing ill folk so they can be stored indefinitely in a vault, until such time in the future as the cure for their illness exists, so they can be thawed, made well, and live out their full healthy lives. I am a skeptic about this, but there seem to be good answers. The article “Why Cryonics makes sense” by Tim Urban covers it in detail. The analogy drawn is that you get news that the plane you are on will crash in 15 minutes and everyone aboard will die. But it happens to have a shipment of parachutes. They are experimental and may not work. Do you gamble by using one, or stay with the plane and die for sure? Most folk would prefer to gamble. Now suppose the ailment you face is eventual death by old age. Maybe in the future they will conquer mortality. Do you gamble on cryonics to take you to that future? The article gives twelve steps, beginning that you choose your cryonics company, passing through #9 being revived, and concluding with #12 eventually die for real, because no one with any sense really wants to live forever. Life would at long last get intolerably boring, with everything worth doing long since done. I can go into the interesting discussion along the way if readers express interest. It is indeed something worth thinking about.

The Equedia Letter keeps coming. I keep thinking of horses, but that's Equine with an “I.” The one for 10/3/2021 discusses “Live Commerce,” which is a system to buy directly from the farmer or manufacturer, cutting out the middleman. You see it on TV, click the buy button, and it will be delivered to you in hours. This system is spreading like wildfire in China and is coming to Europe and the world. Watch for it. 10/10/2021 says we may be on the brink of a global blackout as we run out of fossil fuels before renewable sources take over. They don't seem to recognize that geothermal energy could suffice, if full effort were put into it NOW. The one for 10/17/2021 says that the world's central banks are turning off the money taps, and how to invest to survive the coming fiscal squeeze. The one for 10/24/2021 says the world's leaders have finally taken action, budgeting trillions of dollars to shift away from fossil fuels for good. Oh? In America President Biden may be trying, but he's getting blocked in Congress on the grounds that it's too expensive. Saving the world is too costly? But I still see no mention of geothermal energy, which makes me wonder whether the equines, I mean equedians, are serious or merely ignorant. Maybe they don't have horse sense.

I have pretty much settled on Oatly as my choice of cowless milk. I like its taste, and I like its attitude. Here is a quote from one box: “The cold, hard world of customer feedback. 'Stick to oat milk.' We get it often. 'Why don't you just shut up about what you think and focus on your own products.' Well, if your only reason for being is to make money for your shareholders, then that is a generic and safe strategy, but it is certainly not ours. If you want to build a better society for people and work to ensure the planet we live on continues to live past our limited time here, then it makes perfect sense to share what we think is important, like treating people equally and fairly, producing food that is nutritional and sustainable, and opting for plants over animals as a source of nourishment. If that's not something you are into, that's okay. Freedom is such a wonderful thing.” There are other thoughtful messages on other cartons, as well as coloring pictures, songs, and even humor. Plus The Boring Side, giving the required nutritional statistics. If these people weren't into safely feeding folk, they might have become silly fantasy writers. I will let them be, not wanting the competition.

And on into the boring side, I mean the clippings and fellow travelers. I received a solicitation to sign up for life insurance that covers funeral costs, addressed to Jacob Piers. “Dear Jacob, our records indicate that you are between the ages of 50 and 85.” Maybe mister Piers would be interested, but I am already 87 and not getting younger, as far as I can tell, not having gone the cryogenic route. So their records don't impress me much. A newspaper item lists the top ten states for Obamacare (Affordable Care Act) enrollment. Florida is #1 with 2,120,350. California is second, with 1,625,546, and Texas is third with 1,291,972. The Republicans have been striving mightily to abolish Obamacare, but haven't succeeded. Yet. They really seem to hate anything that helps the common man. Item in THE WEEK for 10-29-2021 says there are strange signals in the Milky Way galaxy. Is it a new class of stellar object? As an SF writer (I started in science fiction, eons ago) I have a suggestion: it's an alien culture trying to get our attention. Maybe they are advising us to get the Hades off fossil fuels and quit overpopulating our limited world, if we ever hope to join their more enlightened culture. But we are of course tuning them out. Fake news, you know. The same issue has a discussion of “gender dysphoria,” which is the psychological distress people suffer when their biological sex doesn't match their gender identity. You know, she's trapped in a male body, or he in a female body. How would you like to be caught that way? A generous half a percent of Americans suffer that. Recent statistics indicate that in 2008 one in 2,000 boys were brought up as girls, and that number soared to 1 in 20 now. That's a hundredfold increase. Some doctors are afraid to mention the subject because of the ferocity of the backlash from LGBTQ activists. I appreciate the sensitivity. I am a man who loves the look and feel of women, but that doesn't mean I want to be one. The Hightower Lowdown issue for September 2021 discusses the state of unions in America. The media tend to ignore it, but unionism is rising. I approve; I think the increase in poverty is largely because the bosses succeeded in reducing the power of the unions so they could suppress wages and get more money for themselves. Yes, there can be corruption in unions, but the answer is to clean it up, not to abolish unions. Now, with as many as four million workers a month quitting their jobs, maybe they will gain some respect. I remember how in the 1950s when I learned that I was being paid about 45 cents an hour as a restaurant worker, I quit. Wouldn't you? Sure there are minimum wage laws, but somehow they don't always seem to apply to the jobs a person can actually get. Newspaper article about the worst slaughter of Native Americans by US soldiers, the Bear River Massacre of 1863. You don't see that mentioned much in the media. Americans want to believe that America is and always was perfect. Would it were so. October 6 item in the newspaper says that a Facebook whistle-blower warns about the risk to kids, as the company prioritizes profits over safety. More government overrsight is needed there. Newspaper article October 10 about The Villages, Florida's monstrous retirement community, with about 79,000 residents. It seems they don't like seeing folk under age 55 on their premises. Review of a book The Right to Sex: Feminism in the Twenty First Century, by Amia Srinivasan. “The chasm between what we say and what we do has always made sex an irresistible topic.” It covers issues surrounding consent, pornography, and the #MeToo movement. This looks like a book I'd like to read, if I had time for reading books. Astrophysicists have discovered an abundance of large organic molecules in the Milky Way. Maybe life exists elsewhere in the galaxy. To which I respond Duh! Of course it exists. We just don't yet know its form. I'm on the mailing list of SPLC, The Southern Poverty Law Center. They even send me re-subscription notices, though I never subscribed. They track hate groups and bigotry, and there's a lot of it. “The recent attempts to censor what educators can teach about race and racism threaten students' right to high-quality education.” “We are seeing teachers across Florida and the country who are facing persecution from their school districts for teaching the truth in schools and for creating safe leaning spaces for all children.” As a former Florida school teacher, I approve SPLC's effort. Item in THE WEEK for 10-15-21 lists the Innovation of the Week: an 11 foot tall 3D printer that builds objects layer by layer from a digital file. In this case it pours “lavacrete, a proprietary concrete mix” in-long swirls “like a massive soft serve ice cream cone.” It is printing new homes on site in Mexico. Same issue has a note on a planet orbiting three stars. Now that's one ambitious planet! It seems that the pandemic is causing folk increasingly to drink alcohol alone to numb anxiety and loneliness. I have never been much tempted by drinking, as I value the clarity of my mind, but I appreciate the perils of living alone. That's why I sought a companion, when I was widowered. Newspaper article 10-17 titled “Our Constitutional Crisis is Already Here,” about the threat to our democracy represented by Donald Trump. It's scary. He plans to run again for president in 2024, this time with laws in Republican states that effectively disenfranchise opposing voters and maybe exclude as fraudulent any Democrat votes. They are weeding out honest officials who prevented this from happening in 2020. “Many conservatives have revealed a hostility to core American beliefs.” Yes, as I have remarked before, conservatism is not what it used to be. It has become a monster. Perhaps related, Trump is going to roll out a new media venture to challenge the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and Disney that barred him from lying on their platforms. We'll see how TMTG, the Trump Media & Technology Group, fares. The local newspaper ran a chronic ad for Diva Night, with the silhouette of a young woman with a bright star on her bottom, as if she is breaking wind. That must have been some event! Rich folk are infamous for hiding their wealth out of the country, to avoid taxes. Now a trove of documents known as the Pandora Papers have been leaked, showing how some of the world's richest people are hiding their fortunes in secretive trusts in South Dakota, about $360 billion. Maybe the tax folk should have been looking closer to home. There is a rising number of “deaths of despair” in the USA. My guess is it's a side effect of the pandemic. I hate being besieged by the Virus. It prevented MaryLee and me from having our honeymoon, for one thing. The global death toll has now passed five million.

I was 50 magazines behind on my reading. As I completed Deep Well I took time off before starting Xanth #48 Three Ugly Nymphs, and tackled that backlog. Then the Curse took hold, messing things up, but I have gone through 20 older magazines and maybe next column will remark on items of interest there. Can't do it now, having found a window of opportunity to get this colum placed. Quick, before the curse strikes again.

PIERS

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