Author Archives: Jill

Ted Talk Tedium

There I was finishing up a Nick Cole video I’d meant to listen to months ago (on marketing), when YouTube spins up a Ted Talk featuring a woman who doesn’t want to have kids. Talk about important stuff. Deep. Penetrating. Philosophical. There was no other context given, why this young woman is important to the human race in any way. I found myself listening to her, fascinated that she was a public speaker. I read some of the comments people had posted, but apparently no other sane person was bothering to respond. Maybe I’m not sane. Good likelihood. But moving on from self analysis, I was disheartened to read how many people (women, mostly) not only hate children, but they are proud to declare it. It’s as if they think they’re declaring something profoundly unique.

I will admit they aren’t operating off the default standard of societies for millenia, but profound or unique they are not because the default condition for humanity is utter selfishness. And I’m not talking about a pure survival instinct kind of selfishness; having children is part of the base human survival instinct. I’m talking about the kind of empathy-less selfishness that parents attempt to train their kids out of so they will grow up to be fulfiled and healthy adults who will desire to do what’s right and leave a legacy behind them — be part of the chain connecting us to our ancestors — rather than a pseudo intellectual whiner with a voice wobbling from emotion, who has to get up on a stage to convince others that she matters.

And she does matter. Human beings do, even adult ones who haven’t grown up. But what is particularly galling is her inability to just live her life with all the freedoms she’s been given in our modern society. Instead, she wants the world’s approval for her own indeoendent decisions. Or God’s approval. Or her parents’ approval. Or…I don’t know whose. And she wants to force doctors, who are mostly private practitioners, to sterilize her, even if, as normal humans, they don’t want to. Because she’s young…and they’re trying to protect her from doing permanent damage to a youthful body. And although she tries to paint this as the patriarchy, I would hope both male and female doctors would be cautious about performing permanent unnecessary surgeries on young men, too.

I have to admit the video dampened my mood after listening to Nick Cole. Our society has swung to an anti-life extreme, and this video is just part of our collective sickness and self-hatred. There really is no other way to explain why else this woman would have an audience at all, let alone one who applauds her. She might get kudos from a degenerate world now, but she will never get to hold her grandchildren in her arms. As lonely as that sounds, I’m not trying to be cruel. There are women out there who can’t have children and want them terribly, who also will never hold their own grandchildren. I think it’s a reminder to always be thankful for what God has blessed me with, children as well as ahem sanity — and parents who taught me it wasn’t all about me.

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Hot Spiced Wine: Reading For the Winter

One of my friends from college days just posted an image on Instagram of what she’s doing now that she’s on semester break (she’s an English/writing professor now). It was a still life of romantic Christmas stories, spiced Glögg, and cute mug in front of a Christmas tree. She’s the type of person who finds joy in simple pleasures, who’s enthusiastic about life and invests herself fully in the projects she takes on — even if that project is just relaxation.

I’m not yet on vacation; as a freelancer, I’m never really on vacation because I’ll take work when I get it. Hence, I spent our summer vacation editing and when we had guests, I found myself formatting. Have computer, will travel. That being said, I’m still on a school schedule due to my after-school tutoring and, of course, my own children. Winter vacation is just around the corner for me, too! I realized I had already started my own version of winter spiced wine by the books I was obsessively downloading on my Kindle. Comfort books. Not necessarily Christmas or winter related, but still my own version of crack: history, biography, and autobiography.

Most history books I pick by subject rather than author, with the exception of Liza Picard’s books. I love her writing. She has four books out that I know of: Restoration London, Dr. Johnson’s London, Elizabeth’s London, and Victorian London. Somehow, I’d skipped Restoration London. This is one of my favorite points of history. The restoration of the British crown. The plague. The Great Fire. The explosion of developments in science and literature. Dr. Johnson’s London is the long tail of this Enlightenment period of British history; I have that book in print and have read it dozens of times. In the interest of interconnectedness, the professor I mentioned above studied the Long British Enlightenment with me in our heady college days. We were hooked by the hundred of years or so that make up this moment in history.

But why are Liza Picard’s books so engaging to me? She says it best in her foreword:

I have a practical mind. I have always been interested in how people lived. The practical details are rarely covered in social history books [she’s right about this, though it’s not 100%]…

I am not a historian. I am a lawyer. I have a liking for primary evidence — not what someone wrote long afterwards, or what someone has concluded from a selection of documents that I have not seen, but what someone said who was there at the time. This has led me down interesting detours, while I reinvented the wheel, and read as many contemporary documents as I could find.

In other words, she’s writing history the way I would if I took up that occupation: as the end result of uncountable hours worth of detours while immersed in primary documents — and all to discover those fine details of how people actually lived. And it’s not just the practical details that you get from primary documents. You get a view into the minds of history’s greatest thinkers, unfiltered by scholars who have to write the edgiest or most unique take on them in journals published by universities. Scholars have an unfortunate need to be yet more subversive than the last one was. This is no doubt the scholarly version of click-bait or sensationalist headlines, but with a lot more polysyllabic words.

Being that I have only so many primary documents at my disposal, Liza Picard is a good second-best. Of course, she’s going to put her own spin on things. As she noted herself: she’s practical. And more than that, she’s a lawyer by trade. Lawyers are trained to couch their language in a particularly convincing fashion, to make their case, in other words. I’m okay with it, despite that reading her books is like crack to me and I have no natural defenses against a divers look at infectious diseases during the last great bout of plague.

All told, she provides a wealth of information and anecdota in her books. This one is heavily filtered through the diaries of Samuel Pepys, which I haven’t read in a long time. I’m already feeling warmer and cozier, despite the freezing fog blanketing the world today, and the lack of any actual hot spiced wine, I’m sorry to say.

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Book Boost

As I’m working on finishing up Order of the PenTriagon, I thought I should give a little boost to The Minäverse because a lot of you haven’t read it. You haven’t read it, but you should. I will go ahead and post a few reviews to let you know why you should. For the record, this book is very different from Anna and the Dragon and therefore hasn’t reached the same audience. Thus, I’ve struggled to find my audience with this comedic SF, in which the AI is, well, stupid instead of intelligent. I first tried on this idea in the short story An Irrational Robot Is a Happy One, which first appeared in the ezine, “Common Oddities Speculative Fiction Sideshow”, and later appeared in “The Jaybird’s Nest and other stories”. But The Minäverse takes this concept farther. Much, much farther.

Intelligent near-future humor: Because none of my oxen were being gored, I found this book hilarious. Despite only maybe one of the characters being likable, all of them are interesting. Anybody who thinks taking the ball out of soccer ball to make it safer is a great idea is not going to like this book. At all. –Paul P.

Just might gore your ox: I bought this book on a whim, and I’m glad I did. The author does only the necessary amount of world-building as she spins her tale, trusting her readers to fill in all the details they need. Her writing style is easy to read, and the humor is both subtle and obvious. The laughs don’t have the unpleasant tang of sarcasm but they have a smile-inducing wryness, and if you’re not careful you might overlook some. A very enjoyable read. –Lelia Rose Foreman

Quirky and Fun Dystopian Future: Quirky and fun, even in a dystopian future. This book weaves the stories of the past and the present in an engaging manner. Unlike a lot of dystopian settings, this one isn’t nihilistic. Instead it’s hopeful. Even when things are weird, humanity finds joy. New Mexico is a character in this book, without overshadowing the human ones. Reading it made me miss the open blue skies of the desert and feel nostalgic for the future. –Amazon Customer

Okay, three is a magical number. But I love my reviews. Would you mind if I posted one more? Ah, I guess I don’t really care if you mind.

I am laughing at someone…not sure who…: I just finished the book and found myself smirking. Throughout the book I felt as if the author and I were laughing at various characters both in the book and in real life . The more I thought about it, however, I began to suspect that I was also being laughed at. By myself especially.

The author carried many of the current issues in our society to their logical conclusions. She used engaging prose, created varied and interesting characters, and used science fiction to have many of the conversations that many are not willing to currently allow. –Nate O.

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Conservatives the Media Loves

The kids are paying attention, anyway. The last two nights, Darkstream came on at a convenient hour for entertaining me while I was cooking dinner (most streams I subscribe to come on at inconvenient moments). When my high school-aged daughter wandered through the kitchen, she heard Vox talking about Ben Shapiro and Jordan Peterson. She curled her lip in distaste.

“I don’t like Jordan Peterson,” she said. “I think I like Ben Shapiro better.” The tone of disdain was meant to imply she didn’t care for Shapiro either, but if she had to choose to be tortured through their talks, it would be Shapiro because Shapiro is sometimes funny, albeit ultimately a loser. That put Peterson at a very low place in her mental hierarchy.

I’m often surprised at what she’s exposed to in her (intentionally) limited use of social media. She’s up on the people and issues — I guess that’s one good thing about social media. It still works to some degree at disseminating information. For now. But it’s also telling that the youth have very little interest in Facebook or Twitter, instead choosing platforms like Snapchat or Instagram.

On the other hand, she’s being exposed to the conservatives social media and news outlets puts up with. For now. I still remember, back in the lead-up to the Trump election, when ultra-liberal news outlets began waxing poetic about “classically conservative politicians” they had previously had nothing good to say about. That election cycle shifted boundaries and moved the Overton window. It was a time when my long-time rants about the neocons being in the same globalist club as the liberals were suddenly justified. See how the media is softly glowing these days with “thousand point of lights, one-world” Bush.

Many people I know won’t use Google anymore, but I like to see the news articles they’ve chosen especially for me. Today, the list is littered with Idiocracy style articles about Meghan McCain, Benny boy, Peterson, Ocasio-Cortez (standing up to a conservative), and ones accompanied by images of Elon Musk looking stoned (he’s not conservative, but the media doesn’t know what to do with him). Oh, and entertainment, of course. SF/fantasy stuff to distract me from reality. For months, they posted articles about how everybody loves James Gunn, his filth about violating children notwithstanding. To be honest, I was surprised at how much love my conservative Christian friends had for Gunn; the media didn’t have to work hard at perpetuating it.

I’m not sure how the conservative landscape will change over the next few years, but Gen Z may not be willing to play by the same rules. They are a dark and untrusting generation. Millenials are the new set of journalists, and they can barely write complete sentences. Who is going to listen to journalists who can’t even spin good stories? By the time my youngest daughter will be able to vote, the irrelevant conservatives of today will still be irrelevant, but the media will have to up its game if they want the new young voters to care.

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The Scrooge Instinct

As we tend to watch the Christmas classics every year, you will find posts about Scrooge littering Decembers and Januarys on this blog. I’ve analyzed and overanalyzed this character because he’s so enduring to me: the opposite of a materialist who barely dwells in physical reality — an apparition of a human — until dear little Tiny Tim brings him into the warmth of humanity.

This year, the holidays are more difficult than usual, and my impatience with gaudy decorations, parties, Mariah Carey in the grocery store, shopping, and spending money is very strong. I can almost feel the crippled boy’s disappointment with me for not being willing to engage with the material world. How is he going to have his fat turkey? And where is the joy of the season going to come from? Certainly not from Mariah Carey’s artless vocals! Cue the wraith in the hood pointing at the grave. Death or Mariah Carey? Are those really my only two options?

The first candle to be lit for Advent is hope. There is another option, one I’ve forgotten over the years. Yes, I can attend Advent services, but that’s not what I mean. The church calendar goes on regardless of the encroachment of the material world. The spiritual world clashes with the material one; contending with the necessity for both is the ultimate human struggle. The hope I mean is rather the one brought by my very own version of a broken, yet lively child like little Tim. When I was younger, I coped with the holidays by writing a yearly Christmas story and passing it out to friends and family. That was what kept me from falling entirely into the Scrooge instinct. It also helped me recognize that a rejection of the material world is a rejection of the spiritual one, too. My stories are my wraiths, I guess…or perhaps they are my fat turkeys that I’ve purchased after struggling with wanting to reject this reality throughout the long winter night.

I’m going to write a story this year, even though it will pull me away from my book. I’m going to write it and give it to anyone who wants it via old-fashioned mail or email. If you would like a copy, let me know.

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