Friday, May 17, 2013

5 Random Facts to Enhance Your Social Life

Happy Friday! I offer you 5 random facts, so that this weekend you'll be able to make smart small talk with friends, family, and random strangers.
1-  According to Douglas Adams and John Lloyd, authors of The Deeper Meaning of Liff, "ahenny" is an adjective describing the way people stand when examining other people's bookshelves.

2- The Doldrums are a calm area near the equator where warm air steadily rises, creating an area of low pressure. The cool air warms so rapidly, it rises before it can move far. As a result, there's little horizontal motion. That means very little wind! Next time you're feeling as if you're in the doldrums, remembering this fun fact will get you giggling. Or not. :p
sailing ship
3- A book called Medications and Mother's Milk by Thomas W. Hale, Ph.D.  is a great reference for evaluating pharmaceutical use by breastfeeding and pregnant moms. I still own the eleventh edition from when I volunteered as a breastfeeding counselor. A copy of this book would make a great gift for your doctor or midwife.

4- People following the increasingly popular Paleo-diet are told not to consume grains and milk products because our ancestors didn't. Apparently they were healthier--eating how people are meant to eat. I'm not touching that controversy. There's much about the Paleo-diet that appeals to me.

I only want to mention that agriculture isn't a modern construction. The Neolithic Era (beginning as early as 10,000 years ago) is when the first farmers began growing crops and keeping animals for food (including milk). This is considered part of the Paleolithic (stone-age) era.
I suppose if you consider that homo sapiens appeared 200,000 years ago, we were hunting and gathering for a whopping 190,000 years before taking up farming. But still, we've been farming for 10 thousand years! That's no small sneeze of time. If eating grain and milk was going to kill us off, you'd think we'd be dead of cheese and bread saturation by now.

5- The Uldra are dwarves who live in the Arctic Circle. They care for moose and reindeer. I wonder if those are the "elves" whom Santa employs.
the little man who stands on my thermostat

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Evil Characters and Politicians in Fiction

My guest poster today, Declan Finn, will tell us about his novel Codename: Winterborn, available in paperback and for Kindle.

Here's the blurb:

After a small nuclear war in 2090, a third of the world is in ruins, along with the Western half of the United States. Three years later, spy Kevin Anderson and his team are sent to find the nuclear arsenal of the Islamic Republic of France. When his team is betrayed by the politicians who sent them, Kevin is out for blood. Hunted by an army, Kevin must kill the Senators before the next team is sent to their deaths. Without resources, or support, it's almost certainly a suicide mission. But Kevin will gladly make this sacrifice, for his codename is Winterborn.

And now I give you over to Declan Finn!

Shooting politicians can be fun.
How many people have wondered what would happen if there were a hunting season on politicians? As a Catholic New Yorker, I think about it more often than most probably do. Then again, we have so many politicians who inspire such contemplation, it’s not funny.

However, killing politicians in fiction has been quite popular for the last few  years. Take, for example, any John Ringo science fiction war epic, where politicians are almost as big a threat as his enemies – which include cannibalistic Mongol hordes from space, alien Taliban, and even the actual Taliban. Vince Flynn has been killing off one politician a novel for the past fourteen novels.

In America, you’d think that politicians would be more popular, considering they’re all elected by popular vote.  With certain notable exceptions, voting seems to be more about voting for the least of all possible evils. Perhaps there is still an innate distrust of authority that’s an American cultural holdover from the dawn of the republic –  looking at the combination of both money and political power in Washington DC, one can easily confuse them for royalty, and we still have a few Kennedy family members kicking around.

It also helps that politicians have a fairly lousy track record for honesty. Or obeying the law. Or applying any laws to themselves. And tend to have interesting criminal records that would keep average citizens from employment.

It’s from this proud lineage of creative term limits that I wrote my own novel, Codename: Winterborn.  Originally an origin story for a character from a different novel, the book had grown out of one line of background – that the character had been screwed over by a group of politicians on a classified mission, and had his team blown out from under him, and that he responded in kind.

The funniest thing about the novel is that I had complaints that the senators I created were “too evil.”  Especially when I had one who had his sister lobotomized so she wouldn’t act out at public functions. Or when another one had driven a car over a bridge and let the passenger drown. If this sounds familiar, it might be because it came out of the history of the Kennedy family.

And these were the “too evil” characters.  And how many have venerated the Kennedys over the decades?

So, next July 4th, celebrate the age old tradition of killing politicians, and grab a copy of Codename: Winterborn.


The fine print:
All shootings in this post are fictitious, or as we at Fortnight of Mustard like to say, "Only in our minds." ;)
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