Electronic Berries…

Because I’m still a big fan of physical media, I consume my music in vinyl or CD form almost exclusively. But of course, most people aren’t as weird about that sort of thing as I am, and my band, The Berries, have heard the public outcry for the chance to buy our music in digital form. OK, maybe it’s just the voices in our heads, but hey…

In any case, our first album is now available for purchase either by the track or as a whole at our nifty new Bandcamp site, which you can find right here. Why don’t you drop by? You can hear from us, and we’d love to hear from you!

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In the Mood for Some Fiction?

If so, you might want to check out the debut issue of Dark Corners, available at a discount until Friday. You’ll find my story “Domestic Tableau” here, and I’ll admit it’s one I felt a little more strongly than others. You’ll also find a review of Broken Glass Waltzes there, so if you’re one of the nearly 7.125 billion people who haven’t bought my novel yet, maybe that will change your mind.

dark corners #1

To cop a line from Edgard Varese via Zappa, “The present-day pulp writer refuses to die!” That may be true, but these days it’s folks like Dark Corners editor C.T. McNeely who help give us the oxygen we need to keep at it, taking the chance of launching publications that get our work out there. Help him out, huh?

Posted in Broken Glass Waltzes, Literature, Why I Do What I Do | Leave a comment

Meanwhile, In Middle Tennessee…

The Williamson County School Board has a newly elected chairman, a fellow named Mark Gregory. The election was legitimate, but there are now voices crying out for his resignation. You see, Mr. Gregory helped his brother invent a device called the Buttle Opener. The device is a novelty bottle opener, in the form of a life-sized set of women’s buttocks. One places the bottle in a rather uncomfortable location in order to open it.

buttle

Although Mr. Gregory claims he has had no connection with the product (which even I admit looks like something you’d find at Ed Gein’s place) for a couple of years, and has been a member of the school board for a decade, his role in the product’s development has led to an outcry about what is presumed to be his misogyny and his potential to em-bare-ass the school district before it becomes the butt of jokes. Meanwhile, he seems to be telling his critics to, well, shove it. Truly, this election may have been a bad decision that will go down in the anals of history.

Sorry. I couldn’t resist.

Posted in Culture, Politics | 5 Comments

“He’s Got An Uncontrollable Urge…”

(For the source of my title, click here.)

One of my favorite lines from Wise Old Man Robert Heinlein is this one: Man is a wild animal. As history moves along, one of its lessons seems to be that efforts to change this fact are at best only moderately successful, and at worst genocidal. We can’t make the New Soviet Man, even if we wanted to, and without such, even the best intentioned efforts to govern and plan will eventually turn into exercises in cat herding.

That doesn’t mean folks won’t keep trying, of course, and those failures frequently only serve to make the would-be controllers more desperate, more ferocious. This brings us to a lengthy (by Intertube standards) essay by Kevin Williamson at National Review Online, where (among other things, including that animal nature RAH mentioned) he looks at a current example:

[...O]ne unpleasant aspect of our current reality is that the pain the Left is feeling as its planning ambitions run up against reality will be redirected, notably into tribalism and authoritarianism.

We are experiencing a terrifying moment of authoritarianism among mainstream Democratic politicians: Harry Reid’s highly personal campaign of vicious demagoguery against Charles and David Koch is a national disgrace, but his party’s attempt to repeal the First Amendment is a national crisis. While Harry Reid wages war on free speech, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. calls for the literal imprisonment of people with the wrong ideas on climate change. These aren’t Occupy terrorists trying to blow up a bridge in Cleveland; this is the United States Senate and a man bearing one of the most famous names in American politics.

The Left no longer has a credible intellectual case for its core program of control and planning. But, as Hayek predicted, the failure of central-planning aspirations is not going to be met with a renewed sense of humility on the part of our would-be rulers, but with denunciations of enemies of the people and demands for ever-more-extraordinary powers to deal with the emergency, which is now, it goes without saying, permanent.

RTWT, as the saying goes.

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Back to Mondoville and One Year After

Mrs. M’s father died last Thursday afternoon, and the burial was yesterday. He had been in seriously declining health since late spring, but it was still not entirely anticipated. He died peacefully at the age of 75, with his wife and one of his eight children in attendance, and he lived to see all eight of the children living self-sufficiently, many with wives and children of their own. That’s not a bad run. Enjoy your rest, Willie — you’ve earned it, and thanks for raising a terrific daughter (Well, eight good kids, but I’m partial to your eldest girl.).

In other news, as we were driving back to Mondoville this afternoon, I realized that one year ago today, my brother was convicted for the murder of my parents. Thursday will mark one year since the jury recommended his sentence, and he is now where he may well spend the remainder of his life. I haven’t spoken to Michael since before the trial, and barring something dramatic, I don’t anticipate that changing any time soon.

But of course, other things have changed over the year. We have a new home. The Spawn is in her final season of marching band. I’ve written a bit more, and I’m still wondering what my next act is going to be from time to time. And of course, now Willie has moved on to join my parents and those others who have gone before.

For years, I said that after the trial I would find out what the New Normal was going to be, and that then things might settle down. And I guess I’m doing that. But what I didn’t realize — even though I should have, really — is that the New Normal isn’t static, either. It doesn’t settle down, and so we can’t either, while we’re here. Smiles, tears, comings and goings, we live as participants rather than spectators.

Tonight in Mondoville, I’m OK with that.

Posted in Faith, Family, Why I Do What I Do | 1 Comment

In Which the Student Becomes the Master

In some downtime yesterday, the Spawn and I were discussing the various provinces of geeky fandom, and the conversation eventually degenerated to a consideration of Harry Potter fan fiction. In particular, she told me, there are quite a few stories by/about young women (and I suppose the occasional young man) in which a thinly disguised but idealized version of the author (what we sometimes call a Mary Sue) matriculates at Hogwarts to redeem Voldemort through the power of her goodness and love. This sometimes involves time travel.

“I like a romantic fan fiction as much as the next person,” the Spawn said, “but it’s pretty creepy to think that there are all these girls out there with a thing for Snake-Face Hitler.”

“You know,” I said, “‘Snake-Face Hitler’ would be a cool name for a band.”

There was a pause. Then the Spawn said, “Yeah, but ‘Snake-Face Hitler and the British Schoolgirls’ is even cooler.”

Have I mentioned lately how proud I am of my daughter?

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L’Affaire Salaita

The current teapot tempest in academia these days is the unhiring of Steven Salaita, who accepted a job offer in American Indian Studies at the U of Illinois’s flagship campus in Urbana-Champaign, only to have the rug yanked out from under him when people noticed a series of anti-Israel tweets during the recent unpleasantness in Gaza. Given that Salaita had already resigned his position at Virginia Tech, this left him in an awkward spot.

Now, the whole business of whether Salaita’s comments rise to the level of so-called “hate speech” (and whether such a concept should matter at all) can and will be handled elsewhere. What interests me today is a look at Salaita’s c.v.

For a would-be professor of American Indian Studies* at a major (Big 10) university, it seems curious that he would only have three published articles that explicitly deal with Amerind issues. The vast majority of his work has concerned the Middle East, and particularly issues regarding Israel and Palestine. His vita seems to suggest that his principal interest in American Indian stuff is analogical, along the lines of Israel:Gaza::White Settlers:19th-C. Indians. The Indian stuff seems really to be more of a stalking horse.

And I would suggest that this illustrates an underlying flaw in the notion of some Identity Group studies programs. Ultimately, it seems, the Identity Group may even be fungible (How delightfully PoMo!). What matters is the claim of oppression and the will to/assertion of political power. But of course, if the Identity Group doesn’t really matter, then a question arises: Why have the alleged “academic discipline” to begin with?

* I find it an interesting coincidence that UIUC’s American Indian Studies program came to light in 2004-05, about the same time that the controversy over the University’s Native mascot hit one of its boiling points. Not that I’d suspect that someone was being thrown tenure-track bones here, but again, I think it’s a remarkable coincidence.

Posted in Culture, Education, Politics | 4 Comments