July 5th, 2012


The History That Isn't Taught

Not the kind I usually point out -- overlooked people like women and queerfolk -- but the kind that is simply ignored as too trivial to mention. How many law enforcement officials there were in a town, who ran the businesses, everyday life challenges that people faced, that sort of thing. There's a brilliant essay about "The History That Isn't Taught" from the author of Thieftaker, an urban fantasy novel set in pre-Revolutionary Boston.

And here I thought I was up to my elbows on the research for The Steamsmith series.

Too Many Licenses

Here's an article about how license requirements can harm small businesses and the economy.  Basically they've taken the bottom rungs off the ladder.  If you aren't already middle-class or above, you typically can't afford the expensive training and licensing process.  Then if you can, you have to charge more for your services to make up for all that.  Then fewer people can afford your business, so maybe it closes anyhow.  There are fewer and fewer jobs that don't cost a large amount of money to get into.  It's harder for people to do what they're good at and make money from it.  So then there are fewer jobs, and more poor people, and the economy works less well.  That sucks for everyone.

You need to make it easy for people not just to get jobs, but to create  jobs.  Regulations should focus on dealing with incompetent people who actually cause problems.

Aether Dancer Hero Hunt

Voting is still open in the original Aether Dancer Villain Hunt.  This activity has proven so popular that there is now a Hero Hunt open for submissions.  You'll have to look for the post about that on the Aether Dancer page, because sadly it doesn't seem to have a direct link; Facebook is pesky that way.  The official voting post and photo gallery for the Hero Hunt should go up on Monday, and I'll link to that when I see it.

Poem: "Matters of Business"

This poem came out of the July 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from janetmiles riffing off a list of prompts by aldersprig.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  Van Dieman's Land was slang for Tasmania, or Australia in general -- where people got sent when they were kicked out of England.

Matters of Business

When the Puritans were summarily offloaded
onto the shores of Van Diemen's Land,
at first they felt quite lost.

Yet as they explored Tasmania and Australia,
they discovered something interesting --
tribes of dark people like those of Africa, yet unlike.

They had this idea, those Australians,
that everything in life could be divided
into Men's Business and Women's Business.

The Puritans thought about that.
It wasn't exactly a Christian idea, but ...
they liked the modesty of it, the orderliness of it.

If everyone  had their own responsibilities,
their own areas of authority, then perhaps
the bluestockings and suffragettes would shut up.

So the elders of the Puritans
met with the elders of the Australians
and discussed matters of business.

When the negotiations were all done,
the Puritans had Men's Business and Women's Business,
the Australians had trousers and tea and literacy,

and they were sharing the land.


Poem: "Port Kennedy"

This poem came out of the July 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from aldersprig.  It was sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  I had some very fond memories of gathering around the television set, when I was little, to watch the news about the latest milestone in space exploration.  For this poem, I looked up the Kennedy assassination, the space race, and Slavic mythology.

Port Kennedy

Because a couple of NASA geeks decided
to watch the presidential parade from a grassy knoll,
and reported suspicious activity to the police,
the route was changed and they missed the parade.

By December of 1963, President Kennedy
and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev
agreed to cooperate in space exploration,
planning a manned mission to the Moon.

In 1967, the Eagle  landed
in the Sea of Tranquility:
"That's one small step for a man,
one giant leap for mankind."

Kennedy and Khrushchev toasted each other.
"What do you think we should do in the '70s?" Kennedy asked.
"We've gone to the Moon," said Khrushchev.
"Now let's go to Mars -- and this time, let's stay."

So they talked to their friends in the space program,
and got the current politicians to sign on.
In 1979, the Svarog  touched the surface of Mars and began
unloading the parts of what would become Port Kennedy.


Poem: "the war engine"

This poem came out of the July 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from siege, along with my_partner_doug's love of wargames and how they can teach better strategy.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  While writing it, I researched the Edo period, Hasekura Tsunenaga, and Tokugawa Ieyesu.  The verses are haiku.  This poem is Edopunk belonging to the Lacquerware series; you can read more about that on the Serial Poetry page. 

the war engine

the first war engine
was a lacquerware table
topped by clay soldiers

they marched on a map
by the officers' commands,
move and countermove

the war engine knew
all that the generals told,
but thought much faster

with this, all could be
predicted and prepared for,
and the best plans used

soon Ieyesu
sent forth his mighty army
well-armed with intel

his crack troops conquered
even the western daimyo,
uniting Japan

more confident now,
he turned to Hasekura
and said, "Go, sail forth."

of his engineers,
he asked a war engine with
maps of the oceans


Poem: "Di Yus of Im Tel"

This poem is from the July 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from je_reviens.  It was sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  You can read more about Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Jamaican culture, and the Creole proverb online.  Yes, I was named after the famous poet. Both my parents are teachers and avid readers, and they intuited some of the path ahead of me.

Di Yus of Im Tel

Elizabeth Barrett Browning grew up in Jamaica
where the warm salt air was good for her lungs
and her Creole skin tanned brown in the sun.
She was a little British, a little African, a little Indian,
and a lot of mischief wrapped in a gawky package.

Sometimes she dressed in polite gowns
and went to tea parties with her mother.
Sometimes she dressed in colorful cotton wraps
and snuck off to listen to the stories told by
the Creole maids as they did the washing.

From the books in the schoolroom
and the stories in the tropical wind
she learned different sides of history.
She learned the different literatures, too,
as rich as Christmas pudding,
as spicy as jerk chicken.

She wrote poems about what she saw,
all the bright and the dark of Jamaica,
her words as sharp as razor coral.
Her poems burrowed into the listening ears,
making people shake their heads.

While the slaves sweated in her father's fields
and gazed with burning eyes upon their chains --
when the pale, delicate British ladies
tottered off the ships to visit their Jamaican relatives --
Elizabeth watched them and understood
that but for an accident of fate
she could have been in either of those places.

Elizabeth stretched her strong tanned body
and thought of the Creole proverb:

Kau neva no di yus of im tel
til di butcha kot it of
"A cow never knows the use of its tail
till the butcher cuts it off."
It was a warning not to take things for granted,
because you would miss them when they were gone.

Elizabeth counted her blessings
every time she ran to play in the surf.
Every time she sat down to write, she said to herself,
"Oh, this cow knows the use of her tail!"


Poem: "The Divided States of America"

This poem came out of the July 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by prompts from aldersprig and rhodielady_47</lj>.  It was sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  Much of this history will be familiar, but for the more obscure examples, see the Free State of Jones County, the Free State of Winston County, and the Kingdom of Beaver Island.  I owe my_partner_doug</lj> for introducing me to that last one.

The Divided States of America

It was a grand idea --
"The United States of America" --
but doomed to fail.

The Republic of Texas
gained its independence from Mexico
on March 2, 1836
and refused to have anything to do
with the mess in the rest of America.

In 1850, James Strang
declared himself the king of the Strangite Church
with a harem of fifteen wives.
When a border dispute went sour,
Canada granted diplomatic recognition
to the Kingdom of Beaver Island.

The Utah War of 1857 resulted
in the sovereign nation of Deseret,
where the Mormons could live in peace
and marry according to their own beliefs.

Mississippi seceded from the Union
on January 9, 1861 --
and like Texas,
decided to stay that independent.

In February of 1861
the Confederate States of America
formed from refugees of the Union,
believing there was strength in numbers.
The North chopped them to dogmeat anyway
but never managed to reunite its scattered holdings.

During the Civil War
there were two neutral "free states" --
the Free State of Jones County, Mississippi
and the Free State of Winston County, Alabama.
Tired of all the arguments and divisions,
everyone decided to leave them alone.

The Indians laughed themselves clean out of breath,
then began plotting to retake their territories.


Poem: "Manifest Diversity"

This poem came out of the July 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from rowyn.  It was sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.

Manifest Diversity

Humanity discovered that
the optimum size of a civilization
was the city-state.

It was large enough to hold
a goodly supply of resources,
yet still small enough that
people could get to know
most of the folks in their field.

That made it possible to elect leaders
who actually knew what they were doing
most of the time, in most places,
if that was what people wanted to do.

They learned to trade in networks,
from city-state to city-state, following
the slow change of terrain and goods.

The borders were softer and smaller,
bumping and nudging against each other
like horses milling in a familiar herd,
here and there firmed up
by the line of a large swift river
or a shift from one language to the next.

The city-states might quarrel, now and then,
over this valley or that mine,
driven to conflict by a drought or
somebody obsessed with saber-rattling.

Yet on the whole they were peaceable,
for they never developed that drive of dominionism;
they did not long to subjugate and absorb each other,
growth as unlimited as cancer until the body's bounds.

So it was that humanity
spread across the globe like a net,
each city-state a little knot of culture
connecting to many others
by the long fine lines of alliance.

schrodinger&#39;s heroes

Poem: "Chromatic Shrift"

This poem came out of the July 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from je_reviens.  It has been sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  This poem belongs to Schrodinger's Heroes, and you can find out more about that on the menu page.  Early on, the poem references events from the unscreened episode "Skin Deep" and later, it features another dimension from the same andervector.

By the way, remember me saying that in my writing, anyone  can be a hero and anyone  can be a villain?  Yeah, I had no idea where that was going until Chris ran for cover.

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Poem: "The Migration at Wounded Knee"

This poem came out of the July 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a prompt from kyleri.  It was sponsored by Anthony & Shirley Barrette.  You can read about the Massacre at Wounded Knee online.  I have a warm spot in my heard for Pine Ridge Reservation; I think of that one as "mine" because we have (distant) family connections there and have visited the place.

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