Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Austin Petersen Comes to Texas County


Austin Petersen and Aya Katz in Licking, MO
April 21, 2018
Photo Credit: Marie Lasater
When I heard that Austin Petersen would be speaking at the Texas County Lincoln Day event held by the local Republican Party, I was determined to go. I got an invitation by email from Petersen's campaign, and I immediately RSVP'ed hat I was coming. For years I have been asking Austin to come and speak to the people of our county, and now it was finally happening. There was just one problem: I couldn't find a chimp sitter. While the event started at 4:00 pm, I could not leave the house until Bow had his dinner and was put to bed. So I was going to be very late.

This was not my first Lincoln Day event. In years past, my friend Marie Lasater invited me to attend and introduced me to Sheriff Mack, who was the keynote speaker that year.

Brad North, Marie Lasater. Sheriff Mack, another lady and myself.
April 14, 2014

At the time, back in 2014, I was a volunteer for the Sheriff Mack team, and I received a free ticket to the  Lincoln Day event. This time I was going there on my own, and I was not even sure I would be able to catch up to Austin before he had to leave for his other event scheduled for that evening, Lincoln Day in Wright County.

Feeling that the odds were against me, on my way to Licking I sang part of Filk of Felix to myself.

by Aya Katz


I had written the lyrics to this filk song back in 1984 soon after the publication of John Steakley's Armor. I had had to crash a party at a science fiction con to show it to him. But Steakley is dead now. He passed away in 2010. And the fight continues. And luckily, I could tell right away when I arrived at the Licking High School parking lot that Austin Petersen was still there.



In fact, while most of the people were sitting at tables in the high school gymnasium and waiting for the ceremonies to begin, I spotted Austin on the sidelines, standing by bleachers. He recognized me at once as I approached. "Oh, hi, Aya!" I let him know that I had just now arrived, and he led me to one of the tables and said: "Let's sit here." And he sat right beside me, introducing me to Matthew Mahler, who was serving as his driver this week. Mahler offered me an Austin Petersen shirt, which I gladly accepted.

Austin and I talked a little about the current situation. Governor Eric Greitens was slated to make an appearance at this event, but would be leaving for Wright County as soon as his speech was over. As long as all the speeches proceeded either right before or right after the Governor's speech, each of the candidates could afford to stay and make them. They were all going to be late for the Wright County event, but if they kept the same schedule as the Governor, they could all be able to make both events.
"We're all going to be late to the Wright County Lincoln Day, but it's okay, as long as we arrive at the same time."
Clipping from the Licking News

About then, Marie Lasater came by our table and offered to take our picture together. She was working the room with a big, professional camera. I introduced Marie to Austin as our County Coroner and the Editor-in-Chief of the Licking News.  Austin thanked her publishing that piece the I wrote endorsing him. Marie said she was glad to, and that he had her support. Then we reminisced about the campaign of 2012 when both Marie and I were fighting for Ron Paul's candidacy at the County Convention.

Marie noted that the other candidate hoping for the Senate nomination, Attorney General  Josh Hawley, was not there at our event.

"Oh, he can't come," Austin said with a smile. "Greitens has a restraining order against him. So as long as the Governor attends this event, Hawley can't."

The Missouri Republican Party is embroiled in a number of bizarre scandals at the moment, and even though the Attorney General and the Governor are both Republican, you would not know that they were allies from the current situation.

Then came the pledge and the invocation and the singing of the National Anthem, and we were told in what order we should go and claim our dinner At this Austin go up and hurried to stand in the reception line. All the candidates who there stood en route to the food, and they shook the hands of each person passing through, engaging them in a cursory political pitch.  Those candidates who could not be there -- say, because there was a restraining order keeping them away -- were represented by an attractive proxy. The governor had not yet arrived, but was expected later.

When my turn came to go through the reception line, I was a little oblivious to what the goal was. I told the pretty lady canvassing for another senate candidate that I was voting for Austin Petersen, and she smiled and nodded. I was expecting to see Jason Smith, our congressman, but he did not seem to be there at the moment. There were a number of people who were running for state offices. One of them was very enthusiastic and wanted to talk.

"Hi, my name is Paul Curtman, I am running for Missouri State Auditor. Can I count on yout vote?" He shook my hand.

"Well, what does a state auditor do?"

"We just go through the books of every state agency, and if we find any discrepancies, then we will try to get new laws passed to correct the problem."

"You mean, every time you find that somebody has made an error in arithmetic, you'll pass a new law?

"Well, no. Not every time. I mean, if it was a genuine mistake, and, yes, sometimes people make honest mistakes, then no. But if we find it was part of a scheme to commit fraud..."

"But aren't there enough laws about fraud?"

Curtman started to answer, but just then Austin swooped in and gave me a big hug, so big that I could see nothing more, I was so engulfed in his embrace. "Aya, you're great! You're the best," he said and gently moved me along down the chow line.

Apparently, we had been holding up the reception line, and Austin very tactfully repaired that. He did this so gently that nobody's feelings were hurt. I was glad to be out of that discussion, anyway. The only reason I was talking to Curtman was that he was talking to me, but I just did not know how to stop. Reception lines confuse me at weddings and funerals, too.

After I finished eating, I noticed that all the important people were leaving the gymnasium and going out into the parking lot, as were some obvious plain clothes security, who had earphones connected to wires that led into their suits.

I saw Austin standing with Matt by their bus, but just then Marie came out and engaged me in conversation. "Everyone is waiting for the governor to arrive," she said. "Don't worry, we won't miss anything, because nothing is going to happen until he gets here. And we'll see him when he comes in." So we kept talking about county politics and local gossip, until I started to notice that all the other people who had been standing in the parking lot weren't there, anymore. There was an unusual hush in the air.  It was like that moment in the forest when all the birds stop chirping.

"Marie, are you sure the governor doesn't have some other way into the building? Because I have a feeling he's already here."

"Let me check," she said and asked a couple of police officers who were still out there. "Yeah, he's inside," she confirmed.

So in we went. I took out my phone and asked Austin if he would like me to livestream his talk. He said "yes, but wait," because the governor would be talking first. So I kept it on standby. The governor's speech was very upbeat. It was mostly about how the economy of Missouri had improved since regulations had been cut down. He barely mentioned anything at all about the controversy surrounding him, except to say he had to remain strong despite any attacks that may come. He received great applause  and a standing ovation.

And then one by one, other people spoke. Our state representative Robert Ross gave a talk. Another candidate for State Auditor, Saundra McDowell, said she was the right person for the job because she was better than the Democratic incumbent, Nicole Galloway, in every way: by her auditing experience working in the Attorney General's Office,  by her military service as a medic,  and by the fact that she had five children, while her  Democratic opponent only had three. Whatever her opponent did, McDowell could do better, including producing children faster -- two sets of twins in three pregnancies. She said that since the incumbent was a woman, it would be good to run another woman against her who could best her at everything. I was trying to wrap my mind around this argument.

"What time is it, Aya?" Austin, sitting beside me asked. I flicked on my cell phone so he could see. It was around 6:30. The event was supposed to be over at seven,

One by one, various candidates, some of them quite local, were asked to speak, but not Austin Petersen. And then there was going to be some entertainment.

"Let's go!" Austin said, and he and  Matt bounded off toward the exit. They went out into the parking lot. I followed them at a run.

"Austin! Aren't you going to speak?'

"Not this time," he said. "But it doesn't matter. We've accomplished the greater goal."

I was disappointed and upset, but I asked if I could take a picture with him by the bus. Even though he was obviously in a rush to get to Wright County, he graciously took the time to pose with me.




I watched the freedom bus pull away, and I wondered whether I should just go home, but I decided to stick it out. I went back inside, and there was a ballet in progress. And then there was some singing. And after that the political speeches resumed. They even called Austin up to speak, mispronouncing his name, and when I told them he had left, the announcer said: "Austin has left the building."

If they had only been willing to schedule Austin's speech before the ballet, he could have addressed the Republican Party of Texas County. But somebody thought the ballet should come first -- somebody high up in the local party.


Marie Lasater with Governor Eric Greitens
Watching Eric Greitens from a distance, it seemed to me that he looks a lot like John Steakley, back when I was crashing parties at science fiction conventions. But that was  in a different millenium.

Greitens posing for photos
As the event wound down, I saw my friend Doug Allen Ashby, with his father, leaving the hall. We both agreed it was a real shame that Austin Petersen had not been afforded the opportunity to speak before he had to leave for the next county.

I picked up my mail, bought groceries, and all the way home, I sang Filk of Felix. 




 RELATED

If you would like to learn more about Austin Petersen and contribute to his campaign, check out this link:

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Throwback Thursday

Once upon a time, decades and decades ago, I was a law student living in Waco, Texas.

A picture from the yearbook.
I was a good student, but I had poor social skills, and I often was innocent about what was going on all around me. For instance, I had no idea that there was a religious community just outside town that would someday be the victim of a Federally orchestrated massacre.

I was interested in constitutional law and the provision in the Texas Constitution against taking from one and granting another.

https://hubpages.com/politics/Taking-from-One-and-Granting-Another-Substantive-Due-Process-in-Marital-Property

Eventually, I would write a novel partly inspired by the vibes I got in Waco, Texas, without knowing how real the story I was inventing would turn out to be.


Today is the 25th anniversary of the massacre. Flags are at half mast in all Federal buildings. But it is not to mourn the fallen at Mt. Carmel. It's just a coincidence. It means nothing.

Some of the flyers I disseminated while in grad school at Rice

Monday, April 9, 2018

My Recent Experience with Facebook Suppression of Article Sharing

I recently had an odd experience on Facebook, which I would not call censorship exactly, but it felt more like an attempt to suppress sharing of an article by means of intimidation. I have never had an experience quite like it on Facebook before, and so I would term it atypical.

It all started when one of my friends had this article shared in a group, concerning a new discovery about aluminum in the brains of autistics and how this might implicate vaccines in the etiology of ASD.

https://jbhandleyblog.com/home/2018/4/1/international2018

Because, I found that the article contained a very interesting, reasoned approach to the issue and links to primary sources published by reputable scientific presses, I decided to share it on my Facebook page. Very soon after doing so, I got this message from "the Facebook Help Team".


I had never received a notice like this, and the implication that if they "determined" that an article I shared was false, they might notify me and expect me to take it down was disturbing. Unless the article is defamatory, there is no reason I should not be able to share it. Some articles are satire, some are mistaken, but unless they maliciously target the reputation of another person, we are allowed by law to publish them. Yes, Facebook is a private site and yes, it can make its own rules, but I don't remember anything in the terms of service when I joined about their being the final arbiter on "truth" on any given subject or that "truth" was even a term that applied to anything we post on our own page to share with friends.

However, I forgot about this when one of my friends remarked something about the article being "junk science.:" This person is an academician living abroad, and I know him to usually be very impressed by the prestige of academic publications. So while the article I posted was a mere blog post by J.B. Handley, it relied on serious scientific publication to make its point. One of them was from Elsevier, so I shared that link in the comments.


But when I tried to post this link to the article "Aluminium in Brain Tissue in Autism" in Journal of Trace Metals in Medicine and Biology by Matthew Mold, Andrew King and Christopher Exley, it would not post. Instead, I got a message that said this had been determined to be a bad page and that I might lose the right to publish on Facebook if I persisted. This shook me so much, that I neglected to get a screenshot of that message. Instead, I sent the link to my friend who had objected to the blog post as junk science in Facebook messenger. But before I was allowed to send him the link in Facebook messenger, I got this message::


I persisted and sent the link to my friend in Messenger, noting that Elsevier does not usually publish "junk science". I also told my friend the trouble I was having posting this. He said he could see my post in the comments all along. But I couldn't until much later. My friend also replied that the article published by Elsevier was not junk science, but that the conclusion J.B. Handley was drawing from the article was.

In other words, he was suggesting that the Handley blog post was misrepresenting the conclusion of the article by Professor Chris Exley and his colleagues. But here is the conclusion of the scientific article verbatim:

We have made the first measurements of aluminium in brain tissue in ASD and we have shown that the brain aluminium content is extraordinarily high. We have identified aluminium in brain tissue as both extracellular and intracellular with the latter involving both neurones and non-neuronal cells. The presence of aluminium in inflammatory cells in the meningesvasculaturegrey and white matter is a standout observation and could implicate aluminium in the aetiology of ASD.
I don't see how Handley's blog post, which also cites many other scientific sources, can be said to have misrepresented that.  That's exactly what he said in American English, only he spelled "aetiology" as "etiology" and "aluminium" as "aluminum", to make it easier for ordinary Americans to understand.  But beyond the issue of whether Handley's blog was misleading or whether the findings in the articles cited are mistaken, there is for me a much bigger and more important question: What is motivating Facebook to stop me from sharing this?
Professor Chris Exley, one of the authors

Friday, March 9, 2018

Reducing Infant Mortality Leads to Increase in Neurodevelopmental Disorders

Would you believe that by reducing infant mortality we are increasing neurodevelopmental disorders?  I think we have all noticed that the two are correlated, but if the one causes the other, what would be the mechanism?

It could be the lack of genetic culling, but would you imagine that in a single generation that would lead to an epidemic of epic proportions? If not due to lack of culling, then wouldn't you suspect that the same environmental force that is saving babies from death is dooming them to disability?


RELATED

Julia Hanna and I are doing livestreams every Friday night at around 8:00pm Central Standard Time on both our channels. For notifications, please make sure that you are subscribed to my channel. Click on the link below, and if you are not yet subscribed, it will give you a chance to do so.


Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Better for What?

There are some people who are sure they are better than other people, and the most infuriating part of their assumption is that they never seem to ask themselves: better for what? I think all of these people should listen to this song by Leslie Fish.



I have been surfing YouTube a little more, to see what sorts of things get the most views and the most subscribers. In the process, I have discovered Jordan Peterson. In one video, he was discussing IQ with a Dr. Richard Haier. Both of them agreed that IQ was highly heritable. They cited the fact that a person with an IQ below 83 is so unemployable and untrainable that even the US Army will not enlist him. They also discussed how interventions like Head Start, which were meant to improve the intelligence of "at risk" preschoolers only managed to improve academic performance for the first few grades of school, after which the individuals fell back into their previous lower performance, relative to classmates. The conclusion was that low IQ is heritable, can't be fixed by environmental changes, and that it dooms those who have it to being unable to support themselves in our society. But not to worry!  Haier said that since intelligence is so highly heritable, and since we have made great strides in deciphering DNA, we could possibly correct people's intelligence in the future, so that those on the lower end can gain ten or twenty points and become employable.

Wait a minute! Isn't IQ, just like poverty, defined in relative terms? How could you ever get a society where nobody scores in the lowest range?

Attribution:By Dmcq - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=29433851


I quote from the Wikipedia:

IQ scales are ordinally scaled.[46][47][48][49][50] While one standard deviation is 15 points, and two SDs are 30 points, and so on, this does not imply that mental ability is linearly related to IQ, such that IQ 50 means half the cognitive ability of IQ 100. In particular, IQ points are not percentage points. On a related note, this fixed standard deviation means that the proportion of the population who have IQs in a particular range is theoretically fixed...

Attempts to fix inequality always seem to flounder when the geniuses in charge of fixing things forget that what they are looking at are relative rather than absolute differences. In absolute terms, we have all been getting smarter. It's called the Flynn Effect.  Raw scores on the various IQ tests have been going up since the tests were first devised, but having a better raw score does not help anyone, because what is being measured by the IQ score is not real intelligence. It's who is better!

Better than whom? Better for what? That is what we should be asking ourselves. What is considered an important skill for survival in one society is useless in another. Survival of the fittest is only survival under particular circumstances. Change the circumstances, and who is more fit also changes.

The variability of human intelligence as measured by IQ scores is a good thing for our species. It means that when the circumstances change, people who are more gifted in areas we undervalue at the moment will be able to thrive and survive, when today's elite flounder and fail. The worst possible thing we could do is to try to artificially tamper with brain structure or the DNA that determines it to guarantee an equal playing field for all from birth. That inequality that the elite are trying to combat is precisely the thing that makes our society function and that could save the human race in a pinch.


Tuesday, February 20, 2018

First Review for Audible Vacuum County

A year ago, Audible Vacuum County was just a glimmer in our eyes. Kelly Clear sent me a demo, I liked it, and we decided to create an Audible version. Read all about it here:

https://theodosiaandthepirates.blogspot.com/2017/02/the-possibilities-at-audible-for-vacuum.html

And yesterday, we got our first review, from Australia.

Read the Review on Audible



Hopefully there will be many more, and lots of sales, to make up for the other paystream I just lost:

https://notesfromthepens.blogspot.com/2018/02/the-end-of-paystream.html

Here is a video I made, dramatizing the review with a text-to-speech reading.



Monday, February 19, 2018

Libertarian Ideas Are About Repealing Government Mandates

Libertarian positions on any issue are about repealing government mandates. They are not about telling other people what they should or should not do.

The essence of the libertarian doctrine


Here are a few libertarian positions:


  • Taxation should be repealed.
  • Mandatory Education should be repealed.
  • Mandatory Health Insurance should be repealed.
  • Mandatory service -- military or otherwise -- should be repealed.
  • Government funding of any product or service should be repealed.
  • Government prohibition on the possession of any product or object or animal or thing should be repealed.
  • Government interference in freedom of contract should be repealed.
  • Any law telling people what to do in their private lives with other consenting adults should be repealed.

Here are some examples of non-libertarian positions:

  • Telling people that they should educate their children.
  • Telling people what they may or may not say, write or publish.
  • Telling people what religion they may belong to. 
  • Telling people how to prepare food.
  • Telling people what substances they may imbibe, inhale or eat.
  • Telling people how to use their money.
  • Telling people what sorts of agreements they can make with other people.
  • Telling people that if they are not educated enough or wealthy enough they should not have children.
  • Telling people what they may not do for a living. 
This should not be all that hard to understand. And yet I constantly hear people who hold office in the Libertarian Party saying things about what people should do. Just stop it! You are not helping the cause.

Here is a recent discussion about some of these issues that I had with Julia Hanna.


Thursday, February 15, 2018

Taking Things Literally

One of the reasons that most of my writing isn't deliberately set in the science fiction or fantasy genre is that I do hope that the insights that people get from reading my works can be translated into their real lives, rather than being interpreted as "allegorical". I mean, if a hero in a fantasy slays a dragon, sometimes that is just translated into real life as standing up to our fears and conquering our anxiety. But when I say "Go slay a dragon!" I don't mean that. I really do want that tyranny toppled.



Well, that was probably as clear as mud. So I'll try to say it a different way. I once met a man who lived in a hole in the ground, but he wasn't trying to be a Hobbit. He wanted to be like John Galt. And when all the other good little Objectivists heard about it, they laughed. Because to them, Atlas Shrugged was just an allegory.


The truth is that I myself am far less of a hero than I would like to be. I do pay my taxes, local, state and Federal. But I wait for the day when the dream of liberty can become a reality.



In order to bring that about, we need to recognize than none of us is as pure as the man who lived in the hole in the ground. We can't go attacking parents for sending children to public school and teachers for working at public schools, while doing nothing to repeal the school district. One LP officer told people that they should not have children if they are going to send them to public school. But did you know that if the school district and its taxes are not repealed, then home owners would still have to pay taxes to educate non-existent children, and to pay non-existent teachers? Like the Catholic Church in a world where all mankind has died out, according to Ted Sesame in Our Lady of Kaifeng: Courtyard of the Happy Way, the School District will exist even in a world without children.

So instead of telling people not to have children, wouldn't it be better to repeal the taxes? Slay the dragon. Leave the virgins alone.



Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Interview with Julia Hanna about Vacuum County with Kelly Clear

Julia Hanna recently interviewed Kelly Clear and me about Vacuum County. It was via livestream, and each of us were live on our own channels. Here is the finished interview.


One of the insights from this interview: If you enjoy science fiction, there's a good chance you will like Vacuum County. For more insights, watch the entire interview. And here's a tip: the closed captioning on YouTube is really good. So if you are having trouble hearing any one of us while we talk or cannot understand something because were are interrupting each other, you can always turn on the cc and get a written version of what was said.


Kelly Clear: "[If you] enjoy sci-fi there's a good chance you will like Vacuum County."


To order the Audible version of Vaccuum County follow this link.  Or go to Audible.com and search for Vacuum County.

Vacuum County on Audible -- Get it now

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

You, too, Can Get Audible Vacuum County

On the 24th of January, an event was held at our Village computer center to help people learn how to download Audible Vacuum County. In preparation  for that event, I made a few videos to explain what Audible is and how to download the free book




My interest in Audible began with F.L. Light, so it was only right that my demonstration of how Audible works began with his translation of the Iliad. But as I thought more about it, I realized that the reason Light preferred to listen to Vacuum County rather than to read it with his eyes was his almost archaic insistence that poetry and literature are best appreciated as oral culture. However, the need for a simple tutorial about how to download a free book became apparent as the event approached.


The above tutorial was available on each computer at the computer center on the day of the event.


After the event was over, I shared the recorded livestream with Bow, so that he did not miss anything.



If you are reading this at home, you, too, can see everything that happened. And you, too, can get a free copy of Vacuum County.

Buy Now!


Saturday, January 13, 2018

New Publicity for Vacuum County

Kelly Clear and Audible Vacuum County have been in the news again.

Kelly Clear in the Grant County Journal 
This makes the second news article about Audible Vacuum County since it came out. I have compiled highlights of the clippings as a video, here:


I loved the way Vacuum County was characterized as a Western novel in the article by Kim Jorgensen in the Grant County Journal. I also noticed that she used the same font as the one in the title on the book cover. Since I have been having such trouble with genre identification, I really want to embrace the Western characterization. I even rethought how I might identify some of my other novels in terms of their position on a compass rose.



If Vacuum County is a Western, then Our Lady of Kaifeng  is an Eastern, in which case Theodosia and the Pirates must be a Southern, and that makes The Few Who Count a Northern.



Vacuum County really is a Western, if you take the long view of it. It is a Western in the same sense that the word "Western" is used in "History of Western Civilization".