May 10th, 2011


Crowdfunding Update: Hunt Press Computer

Here's a note from angela_n_hunt on the last day of the fundraiser.  Remember, this is your chance to put your folding vote towards original writing rather than Yet Another McBook.  I'm really encouraged to see the response this has gotten.

So we're in the last hours of the campaign to raise funds for my baby press' new computer.  First off, for all of your support and words of encouragement over the years and during this campaign:  THANK YOU!!!  Y'all are rock stars.  More then once, your words have kept me going and peeled me off the ceiling.

As of right now, we've 15 hours to go and we're at $881 with cash on hand. That leaves us $619 from our goal.  If you can, please throw in, if you can't, please spread the word.  I know we can make it.  One way or another, publishing world domination is gonna be ours.  :)

Here's the link:

So, yeah.  That's where we're at.

For everything, thank you.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Madam Publisher
Hunt Press


The Khaki Market: A Whole New Food Fight

This article about unregulated food is a perfect example of what happens when the government and big business behave so badly that masses of people ceas to trust them.  (Link courtesy of siege.  Those people start going around The System and try to meet their needs elsewhere.  Then The System attacks those people, and it turns into a giant disaster.  People won't simply accept a system that they believe doesn't provide good, safe materials.  They will sneak out and produce, buy, barter, or steal things elsewhere.  And they might also decide to respond violently to crackdowns, such as by vandalizing factories or megafarms.  This is good for no one. 

This is why government and business must be at least reasonably sane and responsible.  Social systems evolve to keep important processes working smoothly and to ensure that everyone has a constructive way to resolve disputes.  If you choke down your society and make its systems cater to special interests, or let systems fall apart so they don't do a good job, then the flow stops working.  A healthy society must meet its citizens' needs, in order to keep most people within the laws most of the time.  Any time you see large masses of people doing the same illegal thing in the same way, that indicates a serious systemic problem somewhere.  You will never fix that with individual crackdowns; that will only make matters worse.  You must track down the source and figure out if there is some pressure driving people out of bounds and/or if the boundaries are drawn in the wrong place.  Fix it.  Don't just stand there and flibber, or things will seriously fall apart.  Economies and empires have died this way.

A Historic Bottleneck

This article cites a DNA study that estimates the original colonists of North America numbered about 70 people (who left descendants).  I am fascinated, but a bit dubious, given that Minimum Viable Population numbers tend to run 500-1000 if not accounting for inbreeding or well into the thousands with inbreeding counted in.  The founder effect details some of the odd things that can happen with a small initial gene pool.  Historical probability is that those colonists would have been related to each other: one tribe on the move, or 2-3 large families separately, would cover the ancestors and leave room for extras who didn't leave any genetic imprints.  It's a lot harder to establish a healthy population if the founders are closely related than if they are unrelated.

We did some serious research on this stuff for Torn World, because the Upheaval greatly reduced the human population overall and diced up the human species into separate populations.  The North was lucky in that they had a wide genetic base, even though the starting number was low.  Some other places started out with a deep-rooted settlement and population, so people were already related.  That's a likely contributor toward cases like the Glifai with their odd genetic quirk of not manifesting a sex until puberty.

What are they praying for?

When people pray for victory in war, quite a lot of the request goes unspoken.  Mark Twain thoughtfully portrays a messenger from God revealing the unspoken part in "The War Prayer."

Twain sensibly refused to let this story be published during his life.  He believed it to be the sort of thing that only dead men may say safely.  Considering America's past and present, this was likely a prudent decision.

Poem: "The Changeling's Return"

This poem came out of the May 3, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was selected in the generally sponsored poetry poll.  It was inspired by a prompt from haikujaguar who related an anecdote about a transgender person using the changeling myth to retell their own story.  This is the heart of all storytelling, the power inherent in myths and folk tales -- it lets us turn our own experiences into stories, making them easier to remember, to deal with, to incorporate into our lives.  Think about the stories you tell of your own life, and the family stories you pass down.  Then read this one, with its dual levels of meaning, the faerie and the transgender...

The Changeling's Return

Father, I know
you raised a daughter,
but she was never me.
She was a changeling child
that the fairies left in my place.

I'm sorry it took so long
for me to find a way
to banish her back Underhill
with the magic of steel knives
and a brewing far more complex
than any eggshells.

Father, I am here now,
the son you always wanted.
Let me sit at your knee
and learn the things
that men teach to boys.

If my face is still halfway
between handsome and beautiful,
if my voice sounds a bit fey,
if I seem not quite real --
it is only because I was raised on
fairy wine and clover honey
and the silver apples of the moon.
Give it time.  The mortal world
will remember how to hold me.

Father, I only want
to belong, to find the place
that should have been mine from birth.
Only give me the key to your heart
and I will be content.
Let the Fair Folk have their daughter back,
who dances in her pink dress
and laughs behind her lily hand.
Let me have the axe and the woodpile
and a shirt of good blue flannel.

I've made the long journey home.
It's up to you now to open the door
on our happily ever after.


Poem: "Igor's Creature"

This poem came from the April 5, 2011 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from xjenavivex , thesilentpoet , and aldersprig .  It was selected in a generally sponsored poll.  In order for this to make maximum sense, you should be familiar with Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.  It also helps to know some of the (many and contradictory) feminist interpretations of the story.  Sometimes, mad science isn't all about the scientist after all.

This microfunded poem is being posted one verse at a time, as donations come in to cover them. The rate is $.50 per line, so $5 will reveal 10 new lines, and so forth. There is a permanent donation button on my profile page, or you can contact me for other arrangements. You can also ask me about the number of lines per verse, if you want to fund a certain number of verses. (To give this a good start, I rounded up instead of down, posting the first two verses instead of just one.  The original $5 donation thus covers the 4-line first verse and 6 lines of the 10-line second verse.  The next $2 will cover the end of verse 2, then it's $4 more to reveal verse 3.)

So far donors include: general fund, Shirley Barrette, Anthony Barrette

110 lines, Buy It Now = $55
Amount donated = $15.50
Verses posted = 4 of 15

Amount remaining to fund fully = $39.50
Amount needed to fund next verse = $4
Amount needed to fund the verse after that = $6.50

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