So it turns out large black birds may be the avian kingdom’s answer to tool-users and social learning as the New Caledonian crow may be the only non-human species that seems to have its own cumulative technological culture! I kind of suspected as much when I was writing about Cymri and, to be more fair, Cilgwri.
Hmm. I can’t help but notice that when Amazon lists other books that were bought by people that bought my book, and I go and look at other books that were bought by people that bought those books, my book never seems to show up. In the immortal words of Jubal Early, “Does that seem right to you?”
Are we being buried in space-opera? Space-opera has long been considered science fiction but is it really? In case you haven’t noticed, there is a ton of so-called military sf out there and more being published every day. Some of it is pretty good, such as the Vorkosigan series by Bujold or even the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. Much of it, however, if it is readable at all, it is of the read it once category. We know nowadays that, regardless of whether warp drive is invented, it’s become abundantly clear we don’t live in a universe where star kingdoms and space pirates will ever be a thing and where vast fleets of ships-of-the-line blasting away at each other with 18 inch lasers and hyperspace missiles just are not going to happen. Like Star Wars and Star Trek, these are not speculative futures, these are fantasies–just with spaceships instead of sailing ships, and light sabers in place of swords. This just raises another question: How much “real” science fiction is being published? Real science fiction is hard these days. Real science fiction has to take every area of human endeavor and figure out what the effects of advancement are going to be, or it must explain why there has not been enough progress to be believable. Consider Star Trek, we watch them travel between stars in days, beam themselves about, even move planets. Yet they don’t seem to have any form of life extension worthy of the name. At the very least, all red shirts should be robots with their brains backed up before they beam down.
Chili (initially modified from a restaurant’s recipe)
This tastes better at home. The key is being more much generous with the beef and beans to keep it from being soupy like it is at that well-known restaurant. Be prepared to add more of either if it starts looking too liquid-like. I usually make this using half ground turkey and half ground beef.
I skip the celery and salt in their recipe and use V8 instead. I leave out the green pepper because not everyone likes it. I sometimes skip the sugar, depending on how the tomato sauce is tasting because sometimes it seems sweet right out of the can Some people like big chunks of tomato. Beware of too much spicy heat as some people can’t handle it. The hard core can add Tabasco later.
3 lbs. fresh ground beef (or equivalent quantity of mixed beef and turkey)
1 (12 oz.) can V8
1 (15 oz.) can crushed tomato
1 (29 oz.) can tomato puree
2 (15 oz.) can red beans, drained
1 large onion, chopped
1/4 C. chili powder (if you like real flavor, add more)
2 tsp. cumin (ditto on adding more)
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. each: black pepper, oregano, sugar
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
All of these quantities are just guidelines. Feel free to change it up; I always do.
In a frying pan, brown the ground beef; drain, put into a 6-quart pot.
Then cook the onions in the same pan.
Put the browned onions and remaining ingredients into a 6-quart pot with the beef. Mix it all up gently. Don’t ever stir too hard or the beans may get crushed. Cover the pot; let it simmer gently for 1 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 15 minutes (or less often if using a crockpot). It’s already edible, this is just to blend the flavors and warm it up. Don’t let it boil or bubble or it will get soupy and the texture will suffer.
I used to soak dried beans over night but it was a hassle (especially with the danger of over- or, worse, under-soaking them) and I couldn’t detect any flavor advantage.
Go easy on additional salt, especially if using canned beans and eating with salted crackers.
Serve with saltine crackers or oyster crackers. For the deluxe version, have shredded sharp cheddar to sprinkle over each bowl. Some people like to also sprinkle with raw chopped onions (ugh).
It’s also better the day after it is made as this gives the flavors more time to marry. Refrigerates for a long time, is eminently reheatable, and can be frozen for an eternity.
Looking at the various personality descriptions for Myers-Briggs it occurred to me these were just a little bit too much on the rosy side to be representative of the entire general populace. Here are my suggestions for how they could be rewritten to cover the others.
Boring and tends to be a wallflower at social gatherings. They are at their best when working the checkout line or bringing in the shopping carts from the parking lot. The brainier ones personify the stereotypical computer geek living in his Mom’s basement. Meanwhile, at the other end of the gray matter spectrum, most are responding to a request for cleanup on aisle three.
Another dull person. Tends to be deferential to a fault. Unable to successfully hold any sort of supervisory position unless they have a relative that owns the company. On their own, they would probably do fine as an accountant as they have none of the imagination required for creative bookkeeping.
Constantly seeking meaning in relationships, usually so they can connect — primarily with other people’s material possessions. Pretty good at ferreting out secrets people would rather not have known and exploiting them. Often found as practicing attorneys, corrupter-than-average politicians, or conmen. Those with lesser capabilities generally content themselves by becoming scam artists or blackmailers.
Have original minds and great drive for implementing their ideas and achieving their nefarious goals. Quickly see patterns in external events and develop unique, long range perspectives. For examples, consider any of the really diabolical supervillains that weren’t also completely over-the-top bonkers. Think of Lex Luthor, Moriarity, Goldfinger, Sauron, and Vladimir Putin (as he wishes he was) and you are on the right track.
Tends to lurk quietly as voyeurs until prepared to spring into action, but then only stays in action for a few moments. Likes to analyze what others are up to and can readily get through large amounts of data to isolate the core of what they are after. Often can be found working as an IRS auditor, or as a blackmailer, or as both.
When interviewed afterwards, the neighbors always mention how he had seemed like such a nice, quiet boy (or girl). Generally stuck to himself and didn’t really seem to get out much. Who would ever have guessed what he was doing in there? Right?
Loyalty and a strong sense of ideals dominate here. They want to join up and be a part of something bigger than themselves. Something that will make a difference in the world. Think SS trooper, Luddite, or suicide bomber and you won’t be far wrong.
Tends towards paranoia and is constantly finding or developing new conspiracy theories. You’ll find a lot of them have blogs that no one but a handful of likeminded people will ever read. They can’t ever get organized because they can’t hear someone else’s conspiracy theory without modifying it to better suit their own imaginary worlds.
They want their instant gratification and they want it right NOW! With the attention span of spastic terriers, they generally become jocks or cheerleaders. If they fail to find success there (or get too old to continue) they often turn to mugging or prostitution. They are flexible and pragmatic, even if typically more than a little bit dimwitted and undereducated.
Outgoing, friendly, and accepting. Exuberant lovers of life, people, and material comforts. Enjoys life and tries to freeload on others as much as possible but occasionally gets greedy, normally with very poor results. As P.T. Barnum was once said, “There’s one born every minute.”
Warmly enthusiastic and imaginative. Sees life as full of possibilities. Way too optimistic to be around normal people. They make connections in their heads between events and information very quickly and confidently proceed based on the patterns only they see. The fact that they are usually dead wrong and living in their own dream world bothers them not at all.
Quick, ingenious, stimulating, alert, and outspoken. Resourceful in solving new and challenging problems. Unfortunately, the solutions aren’t always practical, legal, or even moral. You often see them out picketing to shut down power plants when the country is experiencing severe power shortages, exhorting people not to eat produce that is not organically grown when some people are already starving, and breaking in and freeing rodents from labs where they are being used to seek a cure for a virulent epidemic. Many of the most idealistic become Christian Scientists or Scientologists. Those that are more pragmatic tend to become successful saboteurs or lobbyists (like there’s a difference). Those at neither extreme might do both.
Practical, realistic, matter-of-fact, and almost totally devoid of anything resembling empathy. Decisive, and often derisive, they quickly move to implement even the most cold-blooded decisions. Tend to focus on getting results in the most efficient way possible. Often find work as hit men, drill instructors, insurance adjustors, or skinning baby seals.
Emotional, hyperactive, and can’t stand to be alone. Want harmony in their environment, and are perfectly willing to stomp anyone that disrupts it. God help the spouse or kid that bugs them while they are watching television.
Warm, pathetic, responsive, and responsible. Highly attuned to the emotions, needs, and motivations of others. Will generally be walked over by any and everyone they ever come in contact with and, no matter how many times it happens, they will never see it coming.
Decisive and quick to seize leadership when they can. Quickly see illogical and inefficient procedures and policies — if only in their own minds. Eager to develop and implement comprehensive systems to solve these perceived organizational problems, generally through some sort of a final solution. Well suited to careers as mob enforcers, cult members, despotic dictators, or consulting efficiency experts.
According to a recent poll*, the worst words to use in a movie title included: cop, future, karate, ninja, robot, cyborg, beast, Bruce, darkness, and cyber.
From this I deduce the worst movie title possible would be:
Bruce Future and the Cyborg Karate Cops Versus the Ninja Robot Cyberbeasts of the Outer Darkness.
I have this sneaky feeling that someone, somewhere, is already trying to get this funded. Worse, there are people who will feel compelled to watch it if it gets made.
Now that live in New York I may have to consider the New York Comic Con but the crowds! The Javits Center does not seem big enough. In Atlanta, DragonCon just sprawls over the whole downtown and yes, it is crowded, but we are funny people. When something that looks like a rather large and senior Jedi master comes striding purposefully down the sidewalk people don’t even think about it, they just clear a path as regular people in other places and times might for someone high up in the local clergy, whatever religion it might be. Don’t even have to whip out the light saber. It’s somewhat worrisome just how easy it is to get used to that kind of treatment.