ACH and MH 17

So, last week, as you’ve doubtless noticed, a jet was shot down in eastern Ukraine. (Actually, several jets, but the one we’re all interested in is Malaysian flight 17.) Watching events unfold over the last couple days has been interesting, because they’re not really going how I (or anyone, I suspect) expected them to.

If we operate on the assumption (and note these are assumptions, and important ones) that MH 17 was fired at by an SA-11 system and crew provided by Russia, then the big question you have to ask (though few are, in public) is “why”. Why did it happen?

I can think of several ideas with varying degrees of plausibility. And if we play a round of ACH – Analysis of Competing Hypotheses – some start to look more likely than others.
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Published in: on July 20th, 2014| No Comments »

Yet Another New Book

Should anyone care, my latest novel has just been released. Out now in paperback and e-book editions from Queerteen Press, it’s a contemporary fantasy novel called Angles and Curves. It’s, as you might guess from the publisher’s name, a (nominally…) young-adult novel, though I assure you old-adults are just as likely to hate (or enjoy…) it, too.

Steve is a student at a rural Montana high school who is taking twelfth grade for the second time. There he meets Heather and Gretchen, two elves in a relationship who are outcasts just like him.

Though elvish kingdoms are formally recognized by the federal government, the Supreme Court doesn’t see elves as human, so they don’t benefit from the same basic rights that others do. Steve is transgendered, and can empathize with the elves’ plight. Friendships are forged between him and the elves when they realize all three have had problems with a bully named Melvin and the jocks at school, who are known to sexually assault elves.

Despite his age, Steve lives alone, and has to produce a “parent” for parent/teacher day. He enlists the help of his elvish friends to hire an adult, but their scheme backfires when they’re caught soliciting an undercover policewoman named Sara Raimi. However, with their newfound connection to Sara, they look to find a way to catch Melvin and his cohorts.

Angles and Curves is a fresh and enticing story about racism, sexism, and sexuality, and what it means to be human after all.

There are astonishingly few YA books with transgendered protagonists published every year, so if you like diversity in fiction (or just being brainwashed with the liberal communist queer agenda, or whatever they’re calling it this week) you might find this an interesting read.

You can buy Angles and Curves at Amazon (or as a paperback), as well as from iTunes, Smashwords, and elsewhere. The paperback can be ordered from most bookstores, or had online (with free worldwide shipping) from The Book Depository.

Published in: on May 27th, 2014| No Comments »

Desktop Gaming With Android and the MK808

I’m not a hardcore computer gamer. I never was, if we’re honest, but as I get older and busier I find myself with less and less time, energy, and interest to devote to gaming. Part of the problem is that I finish one or maybe two games a year, and another is that it seems like every time I turn around my Windows PC has become too obsolete to run any fairly recent releases. (My work computer runs Linux, and before anyone mentions WINE – it’s a little fanless dual-core Atom. Cheap, quiet, and quite power-efficient, yes… just not very good for cutting-edge Windows gaming.) And even if I want to play an older game, it seems like half the time I’ve got to sit around twiddling my thumbs for an hour or three first while Steam updates or Java updates, or something like that.

So, for the last year or two, most of my gaming has not been done on Windows at all, but on Android. I have an Android tablet, but I mostly use it as an e-reader, because I find it an ergonomic nightmare for gaming, and don’t like worrying about charging the dumb thing. (Also because I prefer to use a stylus with the tablet, and my cat has a compulsive desire to attack any fast-moving stylus he sees, alas.) That being said, though, I quite like a lot of things that the mobile gaming market has brought about: a steady supply of new games that don’t require bleeding-edge hardware, are well-suited to casual gaming of twenty minutes here or an hour there, and which don’t cost an arm and a leg. They also tend to be of modest size (in terms of megabytes), which is a blessing when you live in the ghetto and have snail-slow Internet access. (Bioshock Infinite would take close to a week to download from Steam, on my sloooooow ADSL line. I’m sure BI kicks butt, but I downloaded Kemco’s hilarious (and free) RPG Machine Knight – all 31MB of it – and was playing on Android in less than an hour. And Machine Knight hasn’t given me motion-sickness even once, whereas pretty much every 3D first-person game does, quite quickly, but that’s just me.)

Enter my $70 gaming rig – one of those oft-maligned Chinese “Android TV” sticks.
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Published in: on February 24th, 2014| No Comments »

On Standardized Testing

Big portions of the Internet seem to be going all sturm und drang over this account of the horrific evils of standardized testing. A lot of the drama is from teachers bitching about them, which is… understandable. And there are a lot of rants from parents about various flaws with standardized, one-size-fits-all tests (or at least how they’re used).

And those are probably quite good and important conversations to have, I freely admit. I just kind of think a lot of people are really missing the point.
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Published in: on October 7th, 2013| No Comments »

Daughter of the Coast Guard

I’m not normally one to write book reviews, but I’m also usually not in the strange position of having read a book that nobody on the Internet seems to have ever reviewed before. Even with my eclectic tastes in books, there’s almost always someone out there who’s read pretty much anything I’ve come across.

Not so with Daughter of the Coast Guard, a novel by Betty Baxter that was published by Goldsmith Publishing in 1938. Since it’s a fairly decent book that nobody’s ever heard of, I thought, eh, might as well review it, for posterity, or something.

Warnin': Here be spoilers.
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Published in: on October 4th, 2013| No Comments »