Archive for the ‘Science’ Category

Reading v. understanding…

Tuesday, December 5th, 2017

Those who are accustomed to my blog posts—minimally, an op-ed comment on current events on Tuesdays and something on reading, writing, or the publishing business on Thursdays—might find it strange that I’m placing this post here on a Tuesday. There’s a simple explanation: reading and understanding what we read are building blocks in the democratic foundation of our country.

A dear friend and I were talking over the holiday about reading “popular science” articles. These are supposedly designed so that an “intelligent layperson” can develop some understanding about an esoteric bit of science or technology. I complained about Scientific American’s overly detailed articles in fields I’d like to learn more about for my sci-fi writing. “Don’t worry about it,” said my friend. “They’ve dumbed down the articles now.”

Some translations are in order. First, there’s no such thing as “popular science” anymore. Science isn’t popular, from outright attacks on it by religious fanatics and politicians who are sycophants for Corporate America, unwilling or otherwise, to teachers telling students that they should study something else because science is too hard (especially egregious when a male teacher adds “…for girls”). In all age groups, many consider science and technology to be the root of all the problems society faces, and there are many others who encourage such an opinion.

Second, “intelligent layperson” is all too often another oxymoron nowadays. I’m not speaking to the obvious cases where someone believes dinosaurs and human beings coexisted and the world with all its wonderful diversity of flora and fauna was all created six thousand years ago. I’m talking about the average Joan or Joe who reads something but can’t understand what they’ve just read. Call it what you will, it’s an indictment against popular culture. At the critical lower levels in our educational systems, teachers over-emphasize getting through the words—understanding is secondary. Certain content is emphasized; there’s not much practice analyzing and digesting new content. Too many people read something that’s devoid of facts but don’t have the background or even common sense to know better.

Third, “dumbed down” is a nice way of saying that essay and book writers know all about the problems mentioned above and bend over backwards to compensate in order to get their message across. The latter is a struggle that’s becoming increasingly difficult, even for fiction writers, where “dumbed down” has destroyed serious literature.

Even if we get people to read with all the other distractions they have—streaming video, social media, video games, and so forth—getting them to understand what they are reading is a high hurdle to jump over. I’ve often read a review of a “popular science” book and asked myself, “Did the reviewer read the same book I did?” That would probably happen with fiction too, but I don’t bother to read those reviews unless I’m making excerpts for the PR and marketing of my own books.


Science in science fiction…

Thursday, November 2nd, 2017

I loved those original Star Trek episodes because the best were based on sci-fi stories written by seasoned sci-fi writers, ones like Theodore Sturgeon and Harlan Ellison. They were often morality plays too, that is, good stories with some important themes mixed in. (Who could forget the message that racial prejudice is just plain stupid in the classic episode about the two black-and-white guys fighting on and on, one black on the left and white on the right, the other just the opposite?) These episodes often contained some sound scientific extrapolation too—your smart phone is a version of the Starfleet’s communicator, for example.

Episodes in the spinoff series, often written by screenwriters who had little training in science and often promoted pseudo-science, were much less entertaining if not downright distasteful. They were also just bad writers of sci-fi, starting a tradition that continues today. Generally speaking, of course, Hollywood fails at putting believable science into sci-fi and often creates pseudo-science in its screenplays. While maybe everyone knows Wiley Coyote can’t go over the cliff in an inverse-L-shaped path and finds it hilarious when he does so, is that any different than the Enterprise coming to a full-stop, thus violating Newton’s First Law? (What maybe that ether drag, created in theory by Maxwell and disproven by Einstein, suddenly reappears?) And Next Generation’s Counselor Cleavage reading minds is pretty farfetched and bordering on fantasy too. Of course, the Star Wars tales are also just fantasy episodes—they even have princes, princesses, and knights who fight with sabers (making them neon-colored with sizzles doesn’t make them more sci-fi-like—it just makes them silly).

So let’s forget about Hollywood and move on to literature.  As a continuation of a previous article, “Does Fiction Have to Seem Real?” let me ask, “Does the science in sci-fi have to seem real?” I’m talking about hard sci-fi. That’s still a broad sub-genre. But consider the sub-sub-genres of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic. While I enjoyed Christopher’s No Blade of Grass, Atwood’s Oryx and Crake, and Howey’s Wool, my kneejerk reaction to these books was that there was no real explanation of cause, only the effect. I’ve changed my mind a bit, though. The story in these books is found in the effect—hence the post in post-apocalyptic. My own post-apocalyptic efforts—Survivors of the Chaos and Full Medical are examples—discussed the causes much more than the three books named, but that was a personal choice because I put as much emphasis on the causes as the effects. In my upcoming The Last Humans (see the last pre-publication excerpt in my blog archive), I also focus on the effect, although the cause is mentioned, and I’m satisfied with the result.

Other hard sci-fi genres need a more detailed extrapolation of current science. Of course, the farther the extrapolation goes into the future, the more chance for error. Any scientist knows that extrapolation beyond real data is a dangerous game. Some things like interstellar drives and faster-than-light (FTL) starships or communication systems are far in the future, if they’re even possible. When that happens, the best solution is to get beyond the science and go on with the story. But human variants like the clones and mutants in my “Clones and Mutants Series,” the MECHs in the “Mary Jo Melendez Mysteries,” or Humans 2.0 produced by an ET virus in More than Human: The Mensa Contagion, have to be more plausible if only because they’re easier extrapolations of current science to events in the near future.

That’s why a scientist might feel more comfortable reading speculative fiction that doesn’t go far beyond current science and technology. For example, s/he might prefer Hogan’s Code of the Lifemaker to his Giants series, although the first book in that series sticks pretty close to current science and technology. Your opinion on how believable the futuristic science is might depend on your background too. When I read Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep, I felt insulted that a sci-fi writer violated current physics (his solution to FTL was a varying speed of light, slower the farther away you are from galactic center, as if those central black holes did a lot more than expected). Obviously not enough sci-fi readers cared about that—he received a Hugo—but I think there’s a warning there: some readers will not tolerate a violation of known laws of physics, chemistry, or biology. But they might not have a problem with the unknown.


More likely an ET attack?

Wednesday, October 11th, 2017

I always had my doubts when it was announced that our U.S. diplomatic corps in Cuba had suffered a sonic attack that made them sick and even brain-damaged (never mind that politicians suffer brain damage to begin with). But I didn’t have any data to back up my doubts. While high intensity sound can lead to hearing losses—baby boomers like me who’ve done a few rock concerts are beginning to experience them—it seemed to be a stretch that sound waves were the culprits. I thought it was more likely that there were nests of ETs hiding in Cuba, and the renewal of diplomatic relations with that Communist paradise had interrupted their plans for world domination.

I know a bit about acoustic and electromagnetic radiation. I had a previous life in academia as a physicist, mostly in Colombia. Although I was more theoretical than experimental—that’s common in South America where fancy research labs are a luxury—we used sound and electromagnetic waves in our classroom demos to keep the students awake. And, of course, I understood the theory (past tense because now I’m a bit rusty).

Sound waves and electromagnetic waves are different. You can more easily beam the former upon transmission. While PIs and the FBI can use those listening devices, they rely more on sensitivity in the direction they’re pointing around. To go the other way is not easy, as any stereo addict knows. And they were talking about low frequency waves. Your stereo speaker probably has directional tweeters but omnidirectional woofers—it’s hard to aim low frequency waves, and harder for humans to detect any directionality for them, so manufacturers of stereo speakers just don’t bother.

Moreover, sound waves need a medium; electromagnetic waves don’t (that plagued physicists from a century ago, more or less, but that’s another story). Air is a fickle medium for both, but especially sound waves, which depend on that medium (“In space, now one hears you scream”). No, the “official diagnosis” of Trump’s state department seemed to be a red herring (or emanations from digesting black beans because we’re talking about Cuba).

While Russia might have a secret lab making James Bond-like sonic cannons for its assassins, I thought that wasn’t likely, so I latche onto the idea that some ET group’s technology was behind this, not nasty little Cubans doing the bidding of Mr. Putin. Of course, Mr. Putin could be an ET shapeshifter who delights in seeding discourse in free elections—you just never know. I mean, after all, he seems proud of that human body, so he might just be admiring his shapeshifting skills.

Carl Zimmer’s article in the October 6 NY Times confirms my doubts about sonic death rays, though. “Experts on Acoustics are Doubtful,” to quote part of the title. Those experts don’t know what the source of the malady is, but they’re also doubtful that it’s commie-directed sound waves.

I guess my ET theory is still a possibility. Maybe the Castro brothers are the ET shapeshifters who took a liking to fascism—in other words, Communism with a capital C. Maybe Putin isn’t guilty in this case, just guilty of narcissism. That would tie everything together for a conspiracy story, wouldn’t it? Who says that I don’t hand out ideas for sci-fi thrillers? I can’t write everything, you know. Get to work!


Sci-fi book sale: More than Human: The Mensa Contagion and Rogue Planet are now on sale at Smashwords from October 1 through October 31. Their prices are reduced to $1.99—that’s one-third off. In the first novel, an ET virus changes the world, but in a good way, and leads to the colonization of Mars. In the second, there’s a wee bit of “Game of Thrones” fantasy mixed into the hard sci-fi as Prince Kaushal leads his Second Tribe in their fight against the First Tribe’s brutal theocracy. Both books are stand-alone, not part of a series. Use the Smashwords coupon numbers when you check out. Note that the second book is also available in paper format at Amazon. Lots of exciting fall entertainment for a reasonable price!

In libris libertas!

The anti-GMO movement…

Tuesday, September 5th, 2017

It’s surprising how many people are anti-GMO, playing into the hands of unscrupulous marketers who have made a lot of money attending to their whims. The whole idea is absurd, of course. Humans have been making GMOs since prehistoric times. Their creations weren’t called such a nasty, degrading name as GMO, to be sure, because the usual name until hysteria took hold was “domesticated variety” or something similar. New technologies just speed up the process, but they just continue this process.

A recent article in Science News should be read by every anti-GMO activist on this planet, many of them in the U.S. (These probably overlap considerably with the anti-immunization crowd, PETA members, vegetarians, and vegans.) OK, I’m being a bit snarky here—I don’t really care about what your belief and behavioral choices are as long as you don’t proselytize about them by shouting in my face.

Back to the Science News article; it’s titled “The Road to Tameness” (SN, p. 21, July 8, 2017). I’ll extract from that articale a short list of ancient GMOs: golden hamsters, horses, silkworms, dogs, cats, chickens, honeybees, rice, foxes, watermelons, wheat, llamas, alpacas, turkeys, camels, ducks, sheep, corn, tulips, and roses. There are many more. Human beings have been genetically tinkering for ages. One really impressive sight is to drive through Holland when all those tulips are in bloom. Guess how many varieties in those fields of color are wild.

The article’s title is politically correct; SN always tries to stand above the cultural and political wars. They talk about “tameness” and “domestication” in the article. I talk about ancient GMOs and genetic engineering. Po-tah-toe v. po-tay-toe. No matter what you call it, human beings have been genetically tinkering for a long time.


Notes on the eclipse…

Friday, September 1st, 2017

Isaac Asimov in his extended Foundation series (it brings together the Foundation Trilogy, the robot novels, and The End of Eternity) commented toward the end during the search for Earth that humans’ home is an E-type planet with a very large moon. Some gas giants have even larger moons, of course, but Earth’s satisfies the Goldilocks Principle twice over: its distance from the Sun and its diameter are just right so that it just blocks the Sun. That occurs about every eighteen months on Earth, but most eclipses aren’t seen by many people because the Earth’s surface is 70% covered by water.

Eclipses have left their observers agog from prehistoric times to present day. Originally explained via magic and superstition, we now use the magic of technology to observe them. These observations have aided and will continue to aid us in understanding our home star. The eclipse of May 1919 confirmed a prediction of Einstein’s theory of general relativity. While telescopes can now block the solar disk to study the sun’s corona and prominences, there’s something special about the moon doing it for us.

The eclipse occurred a week ago. Because the NYC area wasn’t in the path of totality, I decided to watch the totality multiple times with ABC’s reporters stationed along the totality path. Here are some notes (with annotations from yours truly) that I made during that experience:

The last cross-country total eclipse was 1776. I need to check that. If correct, that eclipse was the most patriotic one.

People were saying all viewers in the U.S. were at a “Woodstock for Nerds.” I was happier just seeing ordinary people, not Sheldons and Leonards, getting excited. Even the Great Denier of Science Fact seemed into it.

I’m not sure the two making their wedding vows during the eclipse got the wedding present they’d bargained for. It rained on them.

ABC’s left-clock announcing the “next totality” must have been created by a lover of oxymoronic phrases. There was no “next”; the moon’s shadow swept continuously across the country. They should have said “next report about totality” or something similar.

“Diamond ring”? Not a bad name, but that and the Bailey’s beads (named after astronomer Francis Bailey) are both due to the sun either peeking and/or diffracting through craters and valleys on the moon. Its limb isn’t smooth by any stretch of the imagination.


Book review of The Three-Body Problem…

Friday, July 28th, 2017

(Cixin Liu, The Three-Body Problem, Tor, 2006)

I’ll admit it: I struggled through this Hugo Award winner. It’s a cross between a physics textbook; a historical account of China, including the Cultural Revolution; and a story about first contact.

The physics is a bit much for the average sci-fi reader perhaps, especially for those who think Star Wars, Star Trek, and other Hollywood gruel are real sci-fi. The history is more interesting. I feel I don’t know enough about China. Books like this one, Ludlum’s third Bourne novel (and not the third movie!), and The First Excellence by Donna Carrick, represent good ways to understand Chinese history and modern culture via fiction. First contact is overdone in the sci-fi literature (perhaps Asimov was smart to avoid ETs altogether in his Foundation series), and this book offers few novelties.

I can’t refrain from commenting on the title. The Centauri star system has achieved some notoriety lately because there’s an Earth-sized planet orbiting the red dwarf Proxima (the usual extra-solar planets are Jovian-sized). Obviously the author didn’t know about this planet when he wrote his book, but any inhabitants of that planet might be interested in exact solutions to the three-body problem because the “suns” in their sky form such a system. Beyond that, the mysticism that shrouds the three-body system in this novel is unwarranted because the Centauri three-star system has been stable for millions of years.

The end of the book leans more to Harry Potter-like fantasy than hard sci-fi. Unfolding a proton and etching integrated circuits on its surface is a story that Harry’s house dwarf might dream up (if the author knew anything about science, that is). It’s a silly extrapolation, if it can even be called that. And it’s definitely not good sci-fi.

The climax is too long coming. The description of the two camps of human thought about how to deal with the ETs is too. I’d say 70% of the book is how one woman dealt with and had her little victories against the Cultural Revolution; there’s very little sci-fi beyond the fact that she and her father were physicists. That’s about 270 pages out of 390 before the reader even gets to the point.

The usual sci-fi story elements are missing: fast-moving plot (there’s not much world-building here, so why is it so slow?); interesting characters (I don’t like any of them); strange settings (OK, there are foreign and interesting ones, but I wouldn’t call them all that strange, except for the fantasy home of the Centaurians, and you can’t tell them apart from those in a computer game); and so forth. The author also spends too much time writing about a computer game. I’m just not into them because they’re a waste of time, but this one is used to subvert and convert and recruit intellectuals to further the ambitions of the main character (hard to tell whether she’s protagonist or antagonist, by the way). Maybe you like computer games. If that’ the case, you’ll maybe like some of this book.

I kept thinking as I read, “Hey, Steve, this is a Hugo winner. It must get better.” It never did–not for me. I found it to be a slog. Maybe the Hugo judges were trying to achieve some rapprochement with China? For me, Hugo has been slipping the last two decades. This one was a major slip-up (I previously tried to read another Hugo winner, one I couldn’t even finish, so I didn’t review it).

This is the first book in a trilogy. I won’t be reading the two remaining ones. That’s my cultural revolution against Hugo as much as this author.


Rembrandt’s Angel (a mystery/thriller from Penmore Press). To what lengths would you go to recover a stolen masterpiece? Scotland Yard’s Arts and Antiques Inspector Esther Brookstone goes the extra mile. She and paramour/sidekick Bastiann van Coevorden, an Interpol agent, set out to outwit the dealers of stolen art and recover “An Angel with Titus’ Features,” a Rembrandt painting stolen by the Nazis in World War Two. Their efforts lead to much more, as they uncover an international conspiracy that threatens Europe. During their dangerous adventures, their relationship solidifies and becomes a full-blown romance. This book is available in ebook format at Amazon and at Smashwords and its affiliate retailers. It’s available as a print version at Amazon, B&N, or your favorite bookstore (if not there, ask for it). Happy reading!

In libris libertas…

Information overload…

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

Maybe I’m just getting old, but every day it seems to be more difficult to process the information I look for and find. I seem to be drowning in it. I try to be selective, but the selection takes time too. Some days the selection process takes more time than processing the information I’ve received.

Information is now mined by corporations who sell what they’ve mined to other corporations. The latter are probably in the same boat I’m in. Will Corporate America come to a grinding halt when it has so much information that it can’t process it? Will I?

Some computer gurus discuss a tipping point when computer networks become sentient and human beings become superfluous. (The Terminator movies are built on this premise.) I don’t think that will happen. When information overload maxes out, computers will be turned off, AIs, robots, and androids will crazy, and civilization will end. We’ll probably return to a hunter-gather society. The only information we’ll need then is what to hunt and what to gather.

We’re already networking computers to solve problems of great complexity. But will we reach the point that the solutions to these problems are just as complex and human beings can’t begin to understand them? I can imagine a worldwide network going crazy because it has solved a complex and important problem but the solution is so complex that only another worldwide network can understand it!



Thursday, July 20th, 2017

When you get to be my age—old but young-at-heart—you start wondering if you had to do it all over again, what different choices would you make. Life is about choices, of course—choices covering an entire spectrum, from small to big. You might have some regrets too. That’s only human.

I don’t regret the choices I’ve made in my personal life. Given the same circumstances, I’d make the same ones. I wouldn’t have minded if some of them had turned out differently—I’d like to decrease the bad experiences and amplify the good ones—but I generally wouldn’t change the choices I made that led to these experiences.

I started publishing my fiction 10+ years ago (the first edition of my second novel, Full Medical, was published in 2006). At an early age, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I’m a practical person, though, so I made the choice to become a scientist, figuring that being a successful writer was too much like winning the lottery. It is, no matter what some authors or writing gurus say. Don’t give up on your day-job just yet. I think Dean Koontz’s wife gave him a year or so to achieve success. That’s unheard of nowadays, unless you win the lottery like Hugh Howey, J. K. Rowling, or Mark Weir. Writing good fiction is a necessary condition; there are no sufficient ones.

Science might not seem like a career that forms a basis for writing success (except maybe for sci-fi—many successful sci-fi writers are ex-scientists). One can wonder what careers are best for that. A love of languages has always accompanied my love for writing. I have a modest ability with languages. Given other circumstances, I might have become a linguist. That seems to be a fulfilling career for putting food on the table while you write stories and wait for some modicum of success. Probably not as lucrative as hard science and technology, though, which everyone calls STEM nowadays. While a journalism degree is probably better than an MFA (the former produces more understanding of and exposure to the human condition), the study of languages is undeniably related to what a writer does all the time: putting ideas into words and choosing the right words and logic to do so.

Of course, any writing career does this, even writing verses for Hallmark. But the study of languages goes far beyond writing skills. Understanding the linguistic history and structure of languages, especially one as dynamic as English, offers the future and present writer an incredible base for the logical choices s/he must make in her or his writing.

I don’t own many print books now. Although I have enough to keep bookshelves sagging, I generally find ebooks more practical—they’re easy to read, very accessible, and don’t take up any physical space beyond my Kindle. But there’s one print book on my reference shelf that I greatly value, David Crystal’s The Stories of English. Even if you ignore current dialects and regional variations, English is a complicated amalgam of many bits and pieces that has seen a dynamic and rapid development. The Spanish reader can still read Cervantes; we struggle with Shakespeare. And these men were almost contemporaries (Shakespeare died one day after Cervantes).


Irish Stew #63…

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017


Trump’s Saudi policies. Saudi Arabia wasn’t on Trump’s list of countries whose Muslim immigrants, many escaping horrible situations in their home countries, are the targets of his bans in his executive orders, contradicting his belief that all Muslims are terrorists. And Mr. Trump negotiated a weapons deal with the duplicitous Saudis to make the military-industrial complex happy during his whirlwind tour in the Mideast.

The Saudis aren’t our friends. They’re not even the enemies of our enemies. They are the enemy. The majority of the 9/11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia because the Saudi royal family’s state-sponsored religious schools have a continuing policy of brainwashing young boys and men to hate the West. And they have continuously attacked Yemen where they are responsible for mass murders of innocents. They probably support ISIS too, because ISIS hates Shi’ites, and they’re the Saudis’ enemies.

Sad! Trump is supporting duplicity and murder. Guess he believes in that.


Malthusian politics? The CBO hasn’t published its financial analysis yet, but the Senate’s proposed healthcare bill is meaner than the House’s. They’re both an attack on the middle class and poor, especially those who don’t have any financial means and depend on Medicaid as a life preserver—elderly in nursing homes, people with serious disabilities, and very sick children. Too many without any other coverage.

Not just sad but doing the Grim Reaper’s work so the GOP can give tax breaks to the rich elites. These aren’t healthcare bills—they’re thinly disguised tax breaks. And Rand Paul thinks they don’t go far enough? This guy has no compassion at all. No wonder he was a failed doctor! Next thing we’ll see from the GOP? Maybe death ovens for the sick and infirm with Dr. Death running them?

Is Obama to blame? Not as much as the GOP and American media are saying! They’re still supporting the attack on the ex-president for not divulging what he knew about Putin’s personally directed attack on our electoral system. Why? It’s not “fake news” if they hide the real truth that Obama’s desire to secure bipartisan support to inform the American public was rejected by the GOP members of congress Obama approached. OK, maybe Obama was stupid to believe that HRC was a shoo-in, but Trump had been yammering all during the campaign that the system was rigged. What if Obama had decided to divulge all he knew? They’d have said he was unfairly supporting HRC! Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.

For eight years the GOP practiced obstructionism against the Obama administration. And Trump dares to accuse the Dems and Obama of being obstructionists? Of course, I’m waiting for HRC to say Obama was responsible for her losing. Sad! You can’t trust politicians or the media these days.

Wild weather. Last Saturday morning NJ received a taste of Midwest weather. I saw my first tornado in Kansas when I was thirteen visiting my grandfather—an awesome sight even if it was off in the distance. Now we had two in Howell, NJ. A smack across the face from Mother Nature to wake us up to the problems of climate change? She should concentrate on Trump who believes it’s all a hoax. Hey Mother Nature, why don’t you go after Mar al Lago or one of his many golf courses—Bedminster would be a good start? Just give the innocents a warning.

Sports etc.

Cosby and Hernandez. I never bought into the theory that the ex-Patriot tight end committed suicide. He had just won acquittal for one charge and was going to appeal the conviction that put him in jail. Why would he be suicidal?

MA law says a conviction that is being appealed must be vacated. Sleazebag prosecutors want to change that law. They must be related to the DA prosecuting Bill Cosby.

DAs who are running for office or have nefarious agendas shouldn’t be allowed to prosecute anyone because they are just trying to win points for being “tough on crime.” Political campaigns interfere with objectivity. So do many careers in general. Of course, most lawyers, prosecutors or defense attorneys, aren’t known for objectivity or a commitment to the truth—they’ve sold their souls to the Devil for their clients.


There’s a big book Summer/Winter Smashwords sitewide promo from July 1 – 31. You have be a member to receive the email catalog. Join Smashwords—it’s free, and it provides a large universe of reading entertainment. Almost of my ebooks are sale with price reductions from 25 – 50 %. That includes the first six books in the “Detectives Chen and Castilblanco Series.” Load your e-reader up for summer (northern hemisphere) or winter (southern hemisphere). And for additional great reading, don’t forget my new novels, Gaia and the Goliaths (#7 in the detective series) and Rembrandt’s Angel, both mystery/thriller novels. Enjoy!

And so it goes…

California dreamin’…

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

The state of my birth is becoming a world leader and taking up the slack when Washington (AKA Trump, his minions, and the GOP) fails. San Francisco recently was the site of a meeting involving Canadian and Mexican environmental ministers who discussed maintaining the Paris Accord, among other things, with state leaders. The state’s legal team is getting ready to block any Washington attempt to push back on their tough laws for vehicle emissions. Gov. Jerry Brown (AKA Gov. Moonbeam) is traveling to China to discuss global warming with Chinese officials. And the state is moving toward single-payer healthcare for all—the Cal Senate just approved it.

Calling it “slack” on the part of Washington is a bit too nice, of course. Trump and his cronies are attacking the environment in any way they can. From supporting the coal industry, which has done more to hurt our climate than almost anything else (it’s ironic that even in coal states, they’re moving away from coal in power plants), to emasculating the EPA and rolling back provisions to protect the environment to favor their rich friends in other industries, Washington seems bent on ruining the planet for our children and grandchildren—maybe us too, if they keep up with the onslaught. Remember Trump is the candidate who declared global warming a hoax. Should we put him on that Antarctic ice shelf and see what happens when it breaks off? Maybe the lobby of Trump Tower will be the first to be flooded when the sea level rises by six feet, as predicted.

The U.S. as a whole is the world’s second worse polluter—only China is worse. California doesn’t accept this all-out attack on the environment by Washington. They have led the nation in positive environmental actions and have boldly stepped up their efforts to counter the evil dark lord in the White House and his GOP goblins. Other states—all blue, of course—try to follow along with the state’s defense-of-environment plans. As the most populous state in the union, the food provider for much of the nation, and estimated to be the sixth or seventh most powerful nation in the world if it ever separates from the union, the Golden Bear is a heavyweight. If Washington doesn’t listen, the rest of the world does. California doesn’t need Washington, but the United States does.

Saving the environment is a no-brainer. This means that Washington is now brainless and California is an Einstein. Even China is getting on board, while Trump backed out of the Paris Accord, incurring the wrath of the rest of the world. It’s hypocritical for states with so much at stake—tourism to national parks in many red states, for example—to become anti-environment. Most big game hunters are NRA members who are hypocritical too—wild animals are part of the environment. Aquifers are being damaged all over the country, but you can bet the anti-environment zombies will be the first to complain when their water turns bad. I can go on and on, but the truth is being insensible to what we’re doing to the environment and the flora and fauna of the world is idiocy. No. Anyone who does this is immoral and evil. There’s a reason that the Pope has an encyclical on the environment. He gave a copy to Trump; will he ever read it? He certainly took no heed of the Pope’s advice when he made his decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord. And his comment about Pittsburg v. Paris is the height of stupidity—Pittsburg went overwhelmingly for Clinton in 2016.

California has been leading environmental protection efforts for a long time. They did so out of necessity. If other American cities and states and countries in the world wait until necessity spurs them to action, it will be too late. If others don’t care, Earth will eventually end up like Mars. We all share this planet. Let’s be good tenants by keeping it clean and healthy. And letting the naysayers remain in power at the ballot box will make us accomplices of the thugs who would destroy the environment. Vote green today, not GOP-red. And work to get California rules to protect the environment adopted in your state.


Rembrandt’s Angel. To what lengths would you go to recover a stolen masterpiece? Scotland Yard’s Arts and Antiques Inspector Esther Brookstone goes the extra mile. She and paramour/sidekick Bastiann van Coevorden, an Interpol agent, set out to outwit the dealers of stolen art and recover “An Angel with Titus’ Features,” a Rembrandt painting stolen by the Nazis in World War Two. Their efforts lead to much more, as they uncover an international conspiracy that threatens Europe. During their dangerous adventures, their relationship solidifies and becomes a full-blown romance. Published by Penmore Press, this novel is available in ebook format at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, B&N, and Apple, and in print through Amazon or your local bookstore (if they don’t have it, ask them to order it). Great summer reading!

And so it goes…