Too Funny By Far

And also too true. As someone who's been known to dabble in religious debate, i don't think I've seen a more accurate summation.


The Legion of Dumb

I unfortunately work in a retail sales job in the wireless industry. It brings me into contact with masses of people I can only describe as dumb, it's not nice, it's not polite, it is however true. So every once in a while you'll see a post like tonight's when I meat some stand out members of this distinguished group.

Legionary #1 The gas station clerk.

At this gas station you have to wait while they take a pic of the car with the video camera, and then turn the pump on. Because of course while the pump is filling there is no time to do so. Anywho, it took about 5 minutes to manage this Herculean task. I get inside, grab a cranberry juice, and a want ad, there are two people in front of me and it still took more than ten more minutes to get out of the damned place.

Legionary #'s 2 + 3

An older but not really old couple. They came in and were looking at the phones and trying to decide which they wanted. We spent several minutes explaining the really uncomplicated

basic plans. The gentleman had one of Cingular's expensive Treo 650's, paid for by his company, this is a three hundred dollor or so 'smartphone'. The lady had never had a phone, and said she didn't really want one. As we're going over the phone options I pointed out to her the different phones, they became convinced, despite my efforts that they were turning on and off the dummy phones we have on the sales floor.

I love people



Last code talker departs

The last of the Comanche code talkers who undoubtedly helped America win the second world war has been laid to rest. Charles Chibitty was 83 years of age.


10th Planet

Apparently there is a tenth object orbiting our sun that might deserve the title of 'planet', this of course assumes that Pluto gets to keep the title. Apparently astronomers are having as much fun arguing over what size makes something what as the critters who can't deceased if Australia is a continent or an island.


MA to get more Mass transist money.

It appears however that most of it will be focused on area's other than reducing traffic on the solidly choked roads leading from the Boston area to the North Shore. The roads in question, Routes 95/128, 93, 3, and 495 are constantly in need of repair, and backed up for miles multiple times a week due to a serious and dangerouns overload of traffic. Extending commuter rails to more communities, and connecting towns around the edges of the current lines would help reduce traffic, and contribute to local economies.



Damn storm, damn power company.

I got hit by one of those too lovely summer storms and lost power for about 20 hours, hence no blogging. When I called about an hour after I suspect I lost power they were not aware of a problem. When I called two hours later, they had dispatched a truck. When I called again at 1am they said by three am, when I called at 5am, they said no estimated restoration time. I had to leave for work at nine, no power. I called at noon to see if the answering machine would pick up, nope. No Power. Called again at 2, nope, no power. At there when I called it was back on.



Pop Quiz Anwer

And the winner is:

Berea College, in Berea Kentucky, interegrated since 1855.

Thanks for playing.


Luthreans to vote on gays

The ELCA General Assembly will be voting in August on what to do with homosexuals. This is not as liberal an approach as the Episcopalians, or the UCC, it does have the President of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America worried about a possible split in his organization. The voting options for members are:

_affirm the church ban on ordaining sexually active gays, but allow bishops or church districts called synods to seek an exception for a particular candidate;

_uphold the denomination's prohibition against same-sex blessings, but give bishops and pastors discretion in deciding how to minister to gay couples;

_call for unity despite differences over what the Bible says about homosexuality.
Am I the only one who sees very little difference between one and two and that three is effectively sticking their heads in the sand?


They like us, they really like us!

Kyrgyzstan has decided, even with Rumsfeld there to do the persuading, that the US troops in their nation are welcome. While we do have only a few troops their, they have been declared welcome by the President Elect. The welcome, quite reasonably, is extened until Afghanistan is 'stable'.


Pop Quiz

In what state is Americas longest running continually racially integrated college?



Rice knows that water is wet...

She also knows that the Sudan has creditably issues. Isn't that nice? Our Secretary of State can tell that the national government that is quite often linked to the Janjaweed might not be the most creditable. This is much akin to saying that the U.S. Constitution is a document some American's have heard of. Congrats Condi, you've made the dumbest (that I've read) political statement of the week of any American politician, and I even heard Dubya attempt to speak.


Naval First

On today's date in 1943 America named her first ship after an African American. The SS Leonard Roy Harmon a Destroyer Escort served our country for over the latter years of World War Two as an escort for Third and Seventh Fleets. The ship was named after a mess attendant who died protecting his crew mates onboard the San Francisco.



An ounce of prevention

U.S. Troops in Iraq stopped nine insurgents from planting explosives along a road. The troops engaged the suspects wounding half of them and with the help of a second unit captured all of the would be killers.


We're Americans, and more importantly we're right, that's what.

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has blasted a recent Pentagon report on how the Chinese military build up is changing the balance of power in the east. Apparently by stating this arrantly obvious fact the Pentagon, and Americans in general have some how given offence. The Minister had this, among other pearls of wisdom to impart:

"What authority does the United States have to gesticulate and make improper comments about China's defensive national defense policy and measures?"

It's quite simple Mr. Minister. Your country does have the right to build up its defense, just as you assert, you are sovereign nation, as are we. If you can explain in what way that your building your military, at what is for your nation almost certainly an unprecedented peace time, rate is not reshaping the balance of power, I'm sure the nice men and women in the Pentagon will take note and apologize if called for. We are also a sovereign nation, and we have every right to write whatever reports please us, and they are not subject to your censorship.



Y'all can say 'Sad', right?

I knew that you could! (Small spoilers for Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince)

Because that is about the only way to describe the nice boys and girls who put this gem. Specifically, its put together by a bunch of whiners who can't get over having grossly misread the hints and intentions laced in the first five Harry Potter books about which of the trio would end up with whom, and who didn't like having the author tell them this. How sad can you get? The hints have been there since book one pretty much from when they meet. And the fourth book just about screamed for the two to get a room. In book six, Hermione and Ron finally do end up as a couple. And yet, as of the time I write this 419 people where whining about misunderstanding it and not liking being told they were.




Grambling Founder

On July 21, 1873 a man was born in Brusly Louisiana that would found a university. Charles P. Adams, was that man. After attending the Tuskegee Institute and studying with Booker T. Washington Adams was recommended to the North Louisiana Farmers Relief Association as a man who could solve their problem. They needed someone to found a run an agricultural school to help keep the farms in the area vital. While the start was rocky, and the inaugural class was only one hundred and five the school would eventually become Grambling State University.


London stirred up

There's been yet another series of attacks in London, there casualties are described as very, very low, and there does not appear to be much if any serious damage. Tony Blair has canceled all his afternoon appointments, and appealed to Londoner's to stay calm and stay where they are. As what certainly appears to be part of the investigation the police went into the University College Hospital, and are looking for:

a man with a blue shirt with wires protruding. In a memo to hospital staff, officers asked employees to look for a black or Asian male, 6 feet 2 inches tall, wearing a blue top with a hole in the back and wires protruding.

A witness recalls:

"He said that a man was carrying a rucksack and the rucksack suddenly exploded. It was a minor explosion but enough to blow open the rucksack," McCracken said.

More as it becomes available.



A new way to combat AIDS

It's said that education is one of the best known forms of birth control, (good lighting, and lack of beer being among the others), now it appears that someone is trying to use education to fight HIV. Specifically, a Ugandan MP Sulaiman Madada, is promising women who remain virgins throughout their higher education to pay for their university fees, all of them. This is an interesting approach that will probably not save a huge amount of lives, but is part of how Uganda has drastically reduced their losses to AIDS.


World record?

Is this a world record for the fastest, and cheapest sex change? In the deeply


Two important pieces of black history

Two pieces of somewhat muddied history.

The first American victory of the Korean war was won by the 24th Infantry, a unit that yielded two Congressional Medal of Honor winners.

The second is something that once provoked an even more mixed reaction.



Sudan's fragile peace

The Sudan is officially at peace with its southern sector. The question is, how long will it last? There is a referendum set to occur in six years on whether the southern oil rich sector wants independence. There is some question over the rights to the Ilemi Triangle and if a deal was reached between long time rebel and now the second in command John Garang made a deal with Kenya over the same territory. And of course, the US, in the person of Secratary Rice, is not sure if we want to send an Ambassador there for the first time in nearly ten years. As if this weren't enough, the southern governors and administrators, as part of the new peace deal, were removed en-masse and many were replaced with Garang's military cronies.


And the nominee is...


A conservative male, with little court experience replacing a moderate woman is equitable in what way?

I wonder how long before he's referred to as "The Dread Jurist Roberts"?



First Black congressional Medal of Honor

While it was nearly forty years after his heroic actions Sergeant William Carney this day took a series of actions that would earn him the Congressional Medal of Honor. Born a slave in Virginia, and purchased from slavery by his runaway father he would go on to joint the Massachusetts 54th. In a Civil War battle on this day he would sustain two separate life threatening injuries in the battle at Fort Wagner.



Science round up

Scientists find a planet with three suns.

Ribbit, Ribbit, Ribbit, SQUISH!

Be Vewy Quiet, I'm hunting parasites.

Proving that the people who spend all their time just watching them aren't alone in having too much time on their hands.



Terrorists losing favor among Muslims

Osama Bin Laden's approval ratings are on the decline, across five of six Muslim nations. In Morocco the approval rating for bin Laden and attacks on civilians has dropped 27 points in the last few years with many regarding terrorist attacks as a threat to their nations. Unsurprisingly, the country that produced the most talked about terrorist of the last couple of years, Jordan, showed little or no change in their support for the tactics of Zarqawi, bin Laden, and other slime. With they way their ratings are slipping, one must wonder if its the hard work and sacrifice of so many men and women in the armed forces, or if they've simply hired the same publicity folks as Bush and Congress.



Chinese rattling more than a saber

While Major General Chenghu has stated he believes that China would use nuclear weapons in response to conventional weapons attacks by the US if we were to go to the mat over Taiwan. This is significant. What is more significant is that he may have tipped the hand of the Chinese military by stating that "hundreds" of cities could be destroyed. It's well known that the Chinese have possessed nuclear weapons since the height of the cold war, but this could quite possibly represent a serious escalation of the tension of one small nation. Or rather one small nation and the right of self determination.


Another 'frontrunner' in 08?

Who knows, but rumors of politico's across the northeast running for that office on Pennslyvania Avenue continue to spread. We've all heard the ones about Hillary Clinton, and then there are the ones about Massachuesetts Governor Mitt Romney, and now it seems his neighbor to the east is looking to drop his hat in the ring as well. New York's own George E. Pataki has flown off to Iowa to get his feet wet.

While more moderate than either Romney or Clinton, i don't expect him to get very far. I must admit the thought of watching Clinton and Pataki going toe t0 toe for the empire state is quite amusing.


Toot! Toot!

That interview i did with author Dave Freer a few weeks back has been picked by Blogcritcs as an editors pick. This after the Bujold interview makes two in a row.



And we're off

The race to see who secures further permanent seats on the UN Security Council has begun. The G-4, a group made up of Japan, Germany, Brazil, and India, has submitted a plan that would insert a representative from South America's leading economy, a nation that also is home to more Catholics than any other. Shirin Tahir-Kheli the US Ambassador to the UN is at loggerheads with the Secretary General Annan, among others. While opposing the current expansion of the UN security council, the US has not ruled out the possibility of it being done in the future and has backed Japan to be among that number. Tahir-Kheli made plain the US position by stating the following positions:

Tahir-Kheli presented four reasons for the U.S. position:

The first is a moot point as it will always be divisive to vote among ones selves who gets to be elevated to the top of the heap, the last is moot as the UNSC is only slightly more efficient than fighting fires with a thimble full of water at a time, the others are very valid points though.

With the potential advent of the EU's coherent foreign policy, it seems redundant to add any more members from that body, which should leave Germany out in the cold. Japan really should be a gimmie for inclusion as they have one of the worlds top economies and the third largest navy. Brazil while vital in terms of regional comparison is still in need of serious work on its overall economic and military might, likewise for India.

The African Union has submitted their own resolution, and I find myself wondering how they managed this trick of willful gross exaggeration of their own importance.


Bombers stopped

Three suicide bombers were stopped today in Baghdad's green zone. The first was driving a car and was shot down as was one of the others on foot. The third was captured alive and will hopefully prove to be a useful intelligence source. This was a much needed street victory for the forces in Iraqi and coalition forces after the massacre of twenty four children by suicide bombers just the other day. Kudos.


Up North

While I've met no few people from north of the border who are quite nice, it does seem they have their own self centered fatheads as well. Not that I find this surprising, it just seems they keep theirs under wraps a bit better. While Cardinal Ouellet makes a decent attempt at being reasonable in saying that it's fine for a recently censured senator to be a member of the Catholic Church and to receive communion, he throws it all out the door with completely logic free whining about how Christians might face criticism over not baptizing the children of homosexual couples, and spinning the potential for hate crimes out of whole cloth. He drags out the 'argument' that homosexuals don't procreate as an excuse, well neither do most senior citizens who get married in nursing homes. For that matter according the Bible the first purpose of marriage was not procreation but companionship. I think Ouellet and a few others need to read a bit more of the Bible.



Coming soon...

Posts with real content!




The birthday of George Washinton Carver is celebrated today. Born in slavery, he would go on to be an early biochemical engineer.

Actor and comedian Bill Cosby, also shares this day of birth.

And Fredrick M. Jones soldier and inventor also entered the world this day.



(More) one liners

The Prince is leaking.

The perfect car for the idiots I see every single commute.

Next week the report that this report is a fake.


From the category of pointless conformity.



One liners

Explosion in Turkey being looked into.

Greenpeace sheds a few tears of over sunken ship.

And because wrestling exhausted all the in ring possibilities for making him look silly.....

The countdown is heating up, but the news is in now way surprising.

16 years? Are you sure these girls aren't on the pill?


That which does not kill us

That which does not kill us, is just a bad idea. Al-Qaeda had ties to the Madrid bombings in 2004, and they are claiming responsibility for the recent attacks on London. The hope was that it would drive the British out of Iraq and Afghanistan as it did the Spanish. I expect it to fail miserably. And we could be seeing sings of at least a minor reversal on the part of Spain. The two survivors of terror attacks have been working very closely together since the bombings in London and Spain has reportedly promised the British unrestricted support.



I wasn't aware

I wasn't aware that Brazil was home to a species of ostrich. I was further unaware that said birds were considered sentient and full citizens. Apparently, my information on the area apparently needs some updating. Of course my lack of information bears no comparison to the willful ignorance of the Brazilians trying to enact gun bans as away of lowering violence. We do after all know that the people handing in the guns are the violent ones, and not the ones who have already evaded the existing laws.


Fair Weather Friends

The Bush family were certainly madly in love with her a few short years ago when Katherine Harris helped hand 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue to one of the main combatants. A year or two back they made a backroom deal with her to stay out of the race in exchange for support this year. And yet, like funding for No Child Left Behind, support has not materialized. Golly, the Bush's don't want her in office, heck that's nearly reason enough to vote for her all by itself.


Cardinal Venality

A Catholic Cardinal has once more thrown himself into the breach on the evolution vs. Creation/intelligent design debate.

His and the late Pope John Paul the seconds position is basically that the only way to know the origins of the universe is through belief in the Christian deity, which can of course be proven through the words of the Bible.

The Pope recently intoned:

"We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary."

And the proof of this would be where? Evolution is a provable, verifiable, repeatable theory, Creationism and is at best the grasping at straws of various religious kleptocracies yearning to keep power and keep the sheep fat, dumb, and happy.



Phoenix in the fog

Despite a death toll at fifty and climbing, despite over seven hundred injuries, most of London is back to business as usual. Most of the city is able to use the public transportation at near normal efficiency. There me even be some leads into who specifically was behind this. London is still standing, and still determined to move forward/




Ambassador Dr. Ihab al-Sherif is a confirmed victim of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's butchers. My condolences to the family of this courageous man. To his countrymen and women all I ask is that you do not let his death be in vain. You really can support the war on terror without surrendering your sovereignty to the United States. We don't want it, we simply want the terrorists dead and rotting.



A day after the announcement of yesterday's awarding of the Olympic hosting privilege for 2012, and in the shadow of the G8 Summit London has been rocked by a series of explosions. Dozens of injuries have already been reported, death tolls are still sketchy and conflicting. Tony Blair will be departing the G8 Summit to return to aid in the investigation and aftermath of this terrorist attack.

"It is important that those engaged in terrorism realize that our determination to defend our values and our way of life is greater than their determination to cause death and destruction to innocent people in a desire to impose extremism on the world," - Tony Blair

The fact that the terrorists underestimate the US from a historical perspective is almost understandable. We've only been around a little over two hundred years as a nation, and with the exception of the 9/11 disaster we've never suffered a major enemy attack upon the US mainland. Underestimating the British in a similar historical context is absolutely ludicrous. This is the nation that at Hadrian's Wall ravaged the world bestriding Roman Empire. This is the nation that crushed the Spanish Grand Armada. These are the people who spat defiance into the faces of the Hitler and Mussolini. They not only dug in there heels and held their ground, they went forward and crushed those men. When the dust settled, the United Kingdom still stood after facing those threats, comparatively these terrorists are a bunch of rowdy drunks but they should expect no gentler treatment than they would mete out.

America will be there with for you.

Those claiming responsibility had this to say:

"Rejoice, Islamic nation. Rejoice, Arab world. The time has come for vengeance against the Zionist crusader government of Britain in response to the massacres Britain committed in Iraq and Afghanistan,"
"The heroic mujahedeen carried out a blessed attack in London, and now Britain is burning with fear and terror, from north to south, east to west,"
"We warned the British government repeated. We have carried out our promise and carried out a military attack in Britain after great efforts by the heroic mujahedeen over a long period to ensure its success."
"We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all crusader governments that they will receive the same punishment if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan,"

cross posted to Blogcritics



Paris loses to London

No, its not a replay of the French and Indian War, or another tale of France's navy getting crushed by a much smaller nation. It's the Olympic committees selection of London for the 2012 games. In the finest of French traditions Chirac offered his surrender, and said that he was 'very disappointed', profound words, really. But then this is the man who insulted another world leader to his face and expected to get away with it.



One liners

This is mostly a few stories I wish I had time to cover properly but don't.

Looks like South Korea has its own Patriot Act.

Hmm, two countries who do everything they can to hamper the US, and a couple countries that 90+ percent of the world couldn't place on a map is a 'coalition', apparently this is the Dubya school of coalition building at work.

Our good buddy Gaddafi shows all the wit and intelligence we've come to love.

A look at Live8 from down under.


Mainstream Christian Church Approves of Gay Marriage

The United Church of Christ has officially endorsed same sex marriage. It is the first major denomination to do so. After Spain, Belgium, then Netherlands and Canada have all approved fully or in part pro-same sex marriage laws, this has to be seen as a major blow to some more conservative backers of 'traditional marriage'. The historic vote by the members of the church overwhelmingly affirmed equal marriage rights regardless of gender.

The marriage equality resolution (1) affirms equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender and declares that the government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry and share fully in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of legally recognized marriage; (2)affirms equal access to the basic rights, institutional protections and quality of life conferred by the recognition of marriage, (3) calls for an end to rhetoric that fuels hostility, misunderstanding, fear and hatred expressed toward gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender persons, (4) asks officers of the church to communicate the resolution to local, state and national legislators, urging them to support equal marriage rights, (5) calls upon all settings of the church to engage in serious, respectful and prayerful discussion of the covenantal relationship of marriage and equal marriage rights, (6) calls upon congregations, after prayerful, biblical, theological, and historical study, to consider adopting Wedding Policies that do not discriminate against couples based on gender, and (7) urges congregations and individuals of the UCC to prayerfully consider and support local, state and national legislation to grant equal marriage rights to couples regardless of gender, and to work again legislation, including constitutional amendments, which denies rights to couples based on gender.
I do find it very interesting that they only encourage member congregations to make this resolution part of their church and don't require it.


Note to self

If you ever have political stroke in an Arab country and wish to get rid of a political rival, just send them off to Iraq as an Ambassador, the insurgents might take care of them for you like they recently have the ones they have kidnapped or shot from Egypt, Pakistan, or Bahrain.





Happy Fourth of July

Today is the day we celebrate what is almost certainly the first piece of true Americana, the signing of the Declaration of Independence. The drafting, and discussion as to its contents may have finished on the second, but this was the day it was first signed in the paper form. An engrossed copy was also made, but not received and signed until August 2, 1776. For that reason, I will be doing at least one post a week on history surrounding the Declaration of Independence and America's infancy.


Oh the fiend!

Will his evil ever cease? Eminem has done something truly outre, and beyond the pale. He has interfered shamelessly, publicly, and without any hint of remorse in continuing something other people obviously have not worked at keeping going. He is putting thousands and possibly millions at risk by putting his wishes above those people who would not do what he did. Selfish, selfish, selfish.



That is the sound of the point going by.

Teachers salaries in the Boston area are going up faster than the national average. Critics of this are saying that the salaries are going up to fast. They are missing several points, but we'll stick to the most salient points.
I do wonder if some people would recognize a clue if it came with a marching band and emcee to introduce it.



Interview with Dave Freer

TheCO: A Mankind Witch is the third book in the Heirs of Alexandria series, what can we expect from this book?

DF: (Thinks) text. I'm pretty sure of that. Actually, that's a little more than a snarky monkey answer. What you will find rather depends on the reader. If I wrote it, you will always find a fast moving, high action tale. That's a given. I want to entertain. I want to give the reader pleasure. That's what you can expect. You can expect a fantasy story of a Norse princess being groomed for murder and suicide. You can expect an enslaved captive Barbary corsair who becomes a trickster worthy of Loki for her sake. You will find trolls, disaster, humor, magic and the Norse nine worlds. You can expect intractable problems and vast odds... and solutions that take their answer from thought rather than mere slugging. You can expect plot twists and a murder-mystery in among the magic and mayhem. What you find after that depends on how hard you look. There are socio-political, philosophical and moral dimensions if you want them. (Smile) I don't care if you do. I write them because I do, but I don't let them ruin a good story.

TheCO: Who does this book revolve around?

DF: I could come up with all sorts of smart answers, but there is an easy and accurate one. The book revolves around Cair Aydin. Like most books that do not involve the superhero shooting fish in a barrel, Cair is a deeply flawed character with some likeable traits, who is in dire trouble. He's a slave. A small, unarmed, lowest-of-the-low thrall. Worse, a slave to a woman with no status. As far down as you can go in the Norse world. He's cunning, clever and disdainful of his primitive and superstitious captors. He is set on bloody revenge, and a return to his position of absolute power in North Africa. Only, he is trapped-- and redeemed -- by Signy, who finally penetrates his armor of, well... arrogance, and brings out hero worth having.

TheCO: Do you have a favorite of the new characters to appear in
this book?

DF: Well, yes... I have a soft spot for three of them, and now you want me to make it one. The trials you put me through! Well, I'll just mention them, Ok. Proctor Juzef Szpak, my Polish Knight of the Holy Trinity. He has a relatively minor role in A MANKIND WITCH, but he has all the hallmarks of a great hero, towering and deep-seated idealism, a chip on his shoulder and an appalling sense of humor to balance the other two. Watch. He'll be back. Signy is a Princess worth dying for. Or better still, making her enemies die for. But Cair Aydin, the trickster who is so good that he fools himself, has to be my favorite. This book is about loyalty, love and... I guess in the end it is about his attitude. In the end it is always about attitude.

TheCO: Are there further volumes forthcoming in this series? And if so when can we expect them?

DF: Well, in Heirs of Alexandra Series (SHADOW OF THE LION, A MANKIND WITCH, THIS ROUGH MAGIC) there are two more contracted books. I am due to start the next one (MUCH FALL OF BLOOD) in about 6 weeks. It usually takes me 6-8 months on one of these enormous books. Then it depends on my co-authors (this is with Eric Flint and Mercedes Lackey again) as to their schedule and of course, Baen's schedule. Figure on 18 months, and you won't be disappointed. I have some vague and so far unrealized hopes -- depending on the sales of A MANKIND WITCH, to do a few more in that 'arena', the Norselands and Finnland.

TheCO: Since this book is set shortly after the first book in the series The Shadow of the Lion, can you give the reader a quick summary of that book in case they haven't read that?

DF: (Snort) Are you sure don't want a three line summary of the American Revolution? It's be easier. Firstly, although A MANKIND WITCH fits in, I do believe you can read it on its own. Cair and Signy are principal characters, not those shared with the other books. But in a nutshell, the entire 'universe' for these books, the first of which is THE SHADOW OF THE LION rests on an alternate history premise: The great library of Alexandria was saved from destruction in 391 AD. Hypatia - the librarian of the greatest repository of knowledge in the Ancient world, joined with the evangelist John Crysostom to change history. The early church split and became dominated by a Peterine faction (our history follows the Pauline tradition) and the shape of the world is altered in ever-widening ripples. In this universe magic and magical creatures continue to exist, and, at the time setting for our stories, 1530 The Holy Roman Empire still continues powerful. SHADOW OF THE LION is set on sprawling canal-canvas of Venice, Venice as she once was, a city through which the bulk of trade between East and West flowed, on the edge of the Renaissance Italy -- a place of petty principalities, endless little wars and constant intrigue. Venice's fleets were to the Eastern Mediterranean what British became after Trafalgar: totally dominant. In the North East the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, under the rule of someone who has been absorbed by the demon power Chernobog, with whom he tried to traffic, which strives to flank and destroy the Holy Roman Empire. Venice and marine power are the key. Through his tools -- a Pauline Abbot and Nun sucked into evil, various traitors and vying political factions, to say nothing of a crippled 'god', an evil magic creature brought from the Norselands to bring terror, Chernobog plots the destruction Venice. But Venice -- the lagoons and marshes -- exist under an ancient compact with a magical guardian, the Lion of St Mark. And the shadow of that lion still lies over Venice, shielding her. The lion has its guardians and they can awaken it - if they live that long.

The story follows a number of threads, but centers on Marco Valdosta, His relationship with Kat Montescue, two 'houses' at war with each other, and his half-brother Benito. The two, estranged grandsons of Duke della Este of Ferrara, have a precarious existence on the canals of Venice, with the spy Ceasare Aldanto, and the Canal-girl Maria. A second major thread running through all the books is that of Manfred of Brittany, third in line for throne of the Holy Roman Empire and his bodyguard-mentor Erik Hakkonsen. The gigantic Manfred and Erik, as well the perfumed courtesan Francesca provide the link to A MANKIND WITCH. Along with other factions, Christian and pagan, these thread weave together to ensure Venice survives, and her guardian awakens. Manfred and Erik are recalled Mainz to the Holy Roman Emperor, and sent North, for the events that unfold in A MANKIND WITCH.

TheCO: The first two books in the series were coauthored by Eric Flint and Mercedes Lackey, how much did writing this volume alone differ from your contributions to the other two?

DF: Well... not a lot except in the confidence area. No 'crutch' to lean on. I write first draft of all of the books. Eric and Mercedes then do any pre-agreed scenes, which I usually sketch out. Eric then does a 'broad editorial' which comes down to working out what extra scenes and chapters might be needed. We divvy these up, taking them by areas of expertise (Eric writes the real nasties, and broad overview of battle-scenes, Misty handles the scenes which are mostly magic or things like weddings and feminine garb (not my strongest suite), and I take the rest, especially the food. I am Monkey-of-all-trades, and monkeys like to steal the food. Seriously, to try and keep characters consistent, I try to write the major characters extra parts. Eric then polishes and blends. I can do the polish. I just think he does it better. He also manages multi-thread editing brilliantly. For this reason I tried to keep A MANKIND WITCH more linear and with a smaller cast than the threesomes.

TheCO: When you are working on a series when do you fact check the
previous books?

DF: Well, first I re-read all of them. Then I work with the last book-file open and back-search. It doesn't mean that things don't go wrong. With huge, complex books, with at least 8 threads, things do.

TheCO: Which authors would you say have influenced your style?

DF: Dr Seuss? The authors I most try to learn from are Tom Sharpe (one of the world's greatest satirists), Terry Pratchett (the master of the likeable character), Georgette Heyer (the queen of dialogue), Roger Zelazny (the lord of blending myth and fiction. Prince of lyrical fiction and a dab of humor. Only Michael Scott Rohan actually comes anywhere close). Kipling for the multi-layered effect I so desperately want to imitate, and Yeats of the aching lyric quality I can't imitate. I read -- and always have read -- voraciously, catholically and very, very fast. All of this prose goes into the gigantic anti-computer I all my head, gets mixed with itself and a bizarre life and emerges as my writing.

TheCO: How detailed are the outlines you work from?

DF: My outlines with my co-authors tend be fairly slim. Then I work a second layer, once I've written about 5000 words (enough to get character and story feel) This one tends to be precise, just fill in the dialogue and description. And then those SOB characters get a life of their own and do things the way they would do them and botch the whole thing back down to basic outline. One day I'd like them just to listen to me and do the best that they can to do what they're told. But no, they always have their own ideas. Who is charge around here? Me or them? (Ans. Them)

TheCO: What other forth coming volumes should we go reserve now?

DF: (Smile). Don't reserve any. Rather go to the Baen Free Library and check out some of my other work. If you like it, well, wonderful, we're both happy. You'll probably buy the next one of mine you see. If you don't like it, well, at least you didn't pay good money for it. Fair warning: there are different styles of books there. Sf, (THE FORLORN, and (forthcoming)SLOWTRAIN), high fantasy (THE HEIRS OF ALEXANDRIA), Space opera (WIZARDS OF KARRES) and sf-action/satire (RATS, BATS and VATS). It seems like I mostly come through like myself, so most fans like the bunch, but everyone has their preferences. I don't. I like variety. SLOWTRAIN -- with my friend Eric Flint, should be next book out. I'm excited about that book. It goes back to some of the roots of science fiction, and I hope will re-awaken some of the old magic. Otherwise, hey, I have to recommend Eric Flint's RIVERS OF WAR.

TheCO Anything you'd like to say to your readers both current and

DF: Um. What about "Hello? Anybody out there?"

Well, guys, I have it on good authority that the secret of this civilization thing is banging the rocks to together. Take it from me (I tried it), you don't want to do this. It leads with a sort of terrible inevitability to things like Chicago, polyester socks and even flush toilets. Now, you may not think those very dangerous, actually, not bad things, but I had a great aunt that was attacked by one. It's an awful tail... uh tale. No, rather give the rocks (make sure they're diamonds) to a trader in exchange for a lifetime supply of my books (and try to live a long time) and be safe. My books have many many uses, from firelighters to bedding material or even, if you get enough, building supplies. AND you can read them first too. It's a bargain!

Seriously, I write to please. I like you to enjoy the books. Of course if my books make you think, laugh, maybe cry and re-affirm the importance of the individual that's even better. Humanity, for all its faults (like Hitler, Mugabe, and possibly polyester socks) has much that is truly great, in the most 'ordinary' seeming of us. I write to please. I love feedback so I know if I'm doing it right. And I hope to see some of you on my forthcoming trip to the US in November. I'll be attending Astronomicon in Rochester, NY, WFC in Madison, Wisconsin, and be in Chicago and Fort Wayne en route. Details will be posted on my website and LJ.


That ladies and gents is Dave Freer, once paid to play with fish guts, he now plays with his readers heads, and they pay him to do it. Serioussly, he may not reccomend going out and getting the books, i however do. Dave is one of the best authors you will ever read. You can say hello to him over at Baen's Bar in his own conference "Dr. Monkey" and tell him what you think, just beware of falling coconuts, dueling double entendres and painful puns.

Crossposted to blogcrics.org



O'Connor's successor

Two people Bush will have neither the wit, nor the guts to advocate. There are different reasons for nominating either of them, especially if he has a chose successor for his own post he'd like to help him stage manage their confirmations. The two people?

Colin Powell & Hillary Clinton.



The first woman appointed to the Supreme Court is gone. Sandra Day O'Connor has resigned leaving a right leaning moderate hole in the highest court. When several of the other justices recently voted to emasculate the fifth amendment, she voted on the side of the document that is supposed to be our highest law. Her retirement notice comes across in a very even tone that makes no comment on Bush, recent decisions, or her colleagues on the court.

Dear President Bush, this is to inform you of my decision to retire from my position as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, effective upon the nomination and confirmation of my successor. It has been a great priviledge indeed to have served as a member of the Court for 24 Terms.

I will leave it with enormous respect for the integrity of the Court and its role under our constitutional structure.


Sandra Day O'Connor

Speculation on her replacement is already rampant, I have a few speculations of my own.

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