Darrell Bain's Monthly Blog- February 2010
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Bainstorming: Darrell's Bain's Monthly Blog.
Responses to subjects brought up by this blog are welcome. I can be contacted by e-mailing me from my website.
Subjects this month: Betty’s Book, my Mistake, Tonto's Guest, Women's Minds, IRS snitches, From Comic Strip, Nation Building, Strongman Rule, Book Report, Progress Report, Excerpt from Back From the Bend, Cure For The Morning After.
Betty’s Book, my Mistake
In last month’s Bainstorming I included an excerpt of Betty Bain’s book, Articles, Muses and Favorite Diet Breaking Dessert Menus. Unfortunately, I wrote that it was available at Amazon. It isn’t. However, it may be purchased in print at http://www.lulu.com/ or it is available at the usual ebook stores in ebook format except Amazon (although it can be purchased from Fictionwise or Sony ebook stores in Kindle format and transferred to the Kindle and of course is available in all other formats). I am checking now to see why it is not available on the kindle.
I’m very sorry for the mistake and hope that all of you who tried to buy her book will try again. Thanks. PS: It is worth reading, trust me! And I don’t say that just because she is my wife. If she hadn’t become a nurse she could have been a very good writer. In fact she IS a very good writer.
We had a nice little temporary present from Rob's Mom, a little 5 pound nearly deaf and blind doggie to baby sit on Christmas Eve. Tonto hated her but he probably saw two of her, being cross-eyed. She loved Tonto no matter how much he growled at her but she probably only saw half of him, having cataracts. When Tonto was put to bed under his Blanky she crawled on top of him and went to sleep until he woke up and got aggravated at a runt sleeping on top of him and dumped her off. This was repeated several times. We finally got her to sleep in her bed by putting it on Tonto's bed (which fortunately is big enough) right next to him under his Blanky. Our biggest Xmas present was when they came to get the dwarf!
Alas, just as the dwarf doggie left, a monster dog belonging to our son-in-law came to visit. Tonto didn’t have a very happy Christmas, nor did Velcro the cat. He always disappears when strange dogs come to visit. Fortunately the cold spell hadn’t hit yet. And fortunately all of Tonto’s guests have departed and he is back to being his usual dumb happy go lucky idiot self.
If women's minds jiggled pleasantly when they walked men would probably respect them more.
Did you know that the IRS likes snitches? In fact, if you inform on someone who’s cheating on their taxes you are entitled to 10% of all the money they recover. I’m not sure I like the idea even though I hate tax cheats. Back when I was in the Christmas tree business a fellow grower once bragged to me on some of the ways he was cheating on his taxes from the farm. I’ll admit I was tempted, and I could have really used the money at the time, but in the end I didn’t report him. I ain’t no snitch!!!
From Comic Strip
I learned something from the comic strip “One Big Happy” this month. Did you know that no one has ever hear of a wife shooting a husband while he’s doing the dishes?
I see where Secretary of Defense Gates wants a few billion more dollars from congress for “Nation Building”. Personally, I can’t think of a single instance where we spent billions of dollars on so-called nation building where the nation involved improved a bit. In fact in most cases, the situation only got worse. Our dollar influx simply created more graft and corruption in the nations where it was already endemic. We’ve tried that in Iraq. We’ve spent untold billions and most of it went to crooks. We’re trying it in Afghanistan and now there’s talk of doing the same for Yemen. What’s wrong is that we try to insinuate our values and culture into the nation while “helping them“. Doesn’t work. They take the money and laugh at us and go right on doing what they’ve been doing for untold generations. Does anyone remember the billions upon billions of dollars we poured into Africa during the cold war? Take a look at Africa today. It’s worse off than it was then. Did we help those nations or hurt them? The only real foreign aid program I’ve read about that really works is advancing small business loans to individuals. That is a proven formula but apparently that’s too simple for our bureaucrats.
Pick any nation you like that’s ruled by a dictator. Then look and see how many patents come from that country. Very few, as seen by the Middle East which is ruled almost entirely by Dictators despite the farce of elections. Those nations generate only a handful of patents compared to other nations. Same for other areas of the world where Strongman rule is prevalent. Very few patents. Freedom to associate and exchange ideas and do pretty much as you please builds innovative individuals and nations.
Rogue Warrior by Richard Marcinko is the autobiography of Marcinko, one of the most competent soldiers who ever conceived of, and went on, behind the lines and black missions in our history. He made it from enlisted to Navy Captain (same as an army full colonel) while playing by the rules only when it suited him. In the end it was his unconventional warrior style that made enemies within the service and eventually resulted in him serving a prison sentence of over two years. If everything he wrote is true, this was a gross miscarriage of justice. Nevertheless he has now made a name for himself a an author of suspense/thriller novels. I’ve ordered the first one he wrote already. You might want to take a look at his web site, too!
I’m midway through a series, The General, by S.M. Stirling and David Drake. It was written during the nineties and somehow I missed it then. It isn’t outdated at all though, since the series is about a fallen galactic empire and the efforts of one man, working through an ancient sentient computer, to revive the empire. On the planet of the general the fall has driven it back to the technology roughly that of our Steam Age. The battle scenes and political interplay as The General fights to unite the planet in order to begin reviving the empire are well done, as anyone who has read Stirling knows. I’m on the fourth book now and really enjoying the series.
All the publicity generated by new author Daniel Suarez for Daemon is well deserved. Daemon is a fabulous book and expertly timed to coincide with our increasing dependence on technology that most of us don’t understand. Curiously, one of the themes in his book concerns corporations that control and employ some people as virtual slaves. That is a theme I’m using in my new book, see below. Oh yes, there is a sequel to Daemon already out in hardcover. I’ve ordered it!
I’m still working on a novel. The first draft is finished, coming in at over 90,000 words. It involves a future empire among the stars established by Earth but now controlled by giant corporations (and doesn’t that theme seem very apt now since the Supreme Court recently ruled that corporations may contribute all they want to political candidates? More on that in a future Bainstorming). The novel follows a young girl who gets sent to a frontier planet to serve a ten year sentence for stealing in order to eat. While there, a revolt occurs among most of the frontier planets and some of the established colonies. She finds herself in the militia and then the regular army as the rebellious planets try to keep their newly found freedom. That’s as much as I’ll tell you now but there are other themes also in the book, including a new alien species readers should love. I’m already seeing requests for more stories about them in my mind. Have to admit, I like the little critters myself! This new book will be titled Rebellion. It was slowed down somewhat by Betty not feeling well but she finally has a diagnosis. More about that in the next Bainstorming.
Excerpt from Back From The Bend
BACK FROM THE BEND
My first collection of Short Stories, Around The Bend, was also published by Double Dragon when it first came out in electronic editions, commonly called E-books. The difference between Around The Bend and Back From The Bend is that my first collection included all my short fiction written over a period of almost fifteen years, most of which had never been published. It wasn’t until I became somewhat of an icon in the world of electronic fiction that I was able to get most of it looked at.
This present volume consists of stories written and published in 2005 and 2006 with the exception of Three’s A Crowd. I pulled that little gem from a bunch of old unpublished material I was going through to see if any of it could be salvaged. Most of it was over twenty years old and suitable only for lining trash cans or as kindling to start fires with on cold winter mornings (and yes, we do get cold mornings in Houston. Besides, my office where I do all of my writing is converted from a garage and not well insulated. I need those fires some mornings to get my fingers working properly).
Three’s A Crowd had to be extensively re-written before it was publishable, but it did receive a good reaction from fans. (And yes, E-book authors receive fan mail just like print authors. I get lots of it these days, relatively speaking). Other than that one story, all the material here is relatively new, and hopefully shows signs of a more mature writer than the stories from my first collection. The fans have rated them pretty well, anyway, so that’s encouraging.
The stories here are listed in no particular order other than three which are grouped together. You’ll see the explanation for why that is when you come to them.
A few fans have asked, why so many short stories all of a sudden? The answer is easy. I had pretty well burned up my keyboard from late 2004 to mid 2005 writing novels, and decided I needed a break. I keep a little folder of ideas for prospective stories on hand. Several of the ideas weren’t the type I wanted to make a whole novel of, so I decided to try my hand at short stories again. Well, actually, I rewrote Three’s A Crowd first, but never mind. Anyway, there was this idea I had lurking in that folder, about a scientist using genetics to improve his personality so he could pick up more girls. I batted about 0.025 during my bachelor days so perhaps that’s the origin of the idea. Or maybe it came from my habit of overindulging quite frequently in my younger years. Whatever, that began the exodus from novels into short stories for a while.
I also started a monthly blog in 2005 that has proved popular, and for this collection I’ve added excerpts from the blog which got the most reaction from readers. The complete monthly blogs are archived on my web site, www.darrellbain.com for interested readers. Shucks, I found it kind of interesting to go back and look at them again!
This collection also includes a couple of articles published on the internet but probably not seen by my regular readers.
I’ll have a few more words to say in a prologue to each story that follows, but for now let’s have me stop my ramblings and let you get on with reading some fiction, which I’m pretty sure is why you bought this book to begin with.
I mentioned Cure For The Morning After briefly in the introduction, so there’s no need to say much more about it here, other than I enjoyed writing it, and so far as I know, it was an original idea for a science fiction story, something pretty hard to come by. Most science fiction stories and novels are simply new twists on old themes. It’s been said that just about every idea imaginable in science fiction has already been used so I felt particularly pleased to come up with this one. However, using genetic information to change behavior or physical characteristics isn’t new so perhaps I shouldn’t get a swelled head after all. At any rate, here it is. You may judge for yourself.
The only two things Timothy Meeker had going for him were a good job and a brilliant mind. Other than those, he was a pretty pitiful specimen. Timothy had unfortunately inherited both alleles of the shyness gene. Coupled with that was an appearance that left little to cheer about. His hair was mousy brown, his nose was so upturned so that from a front view it almost presented the appearance of a pig’s snout. His chin was badly undershot, leaving him bucktoothed. His beard grew in scraggly patches but was unaccountably very dark and thick where it did grow. By noon, his face always looked as if he had forgot to wash it that morning. His ears stuck out from the side of his head like crumpled oak leaves bereft of chlorophyll to give them color. And this was just his head.
Timothy’s odd countenance was set atop a scrawny neck, and sported a prominent adam’s apple that looked like an unattended tumor. His shoulders were narrow, his chest sunken and he had a round little potbelly that no amount of exercise seemed to help reduce. Besides all that, he was shorter than average and splay footed. He walked like a duck, and this made the wildly incongruous colors of his shirt, trousers and jacket appear even more ludicrous.
Some unfortunate men like Timothy quickly give up competing for women and devote their time to other pursuits, such as pornography, stamp collecting and science, to name a few. Being brilliant, Timothy chose science. However, being persistent and possessed of a very high libido, Timothy spent what time he could spare away from the genetics laboratory where he worked making the rounds of the singles bars in the affluent part of Dallas, north of the central city. He wanted to find a companion, a pretty female companion, who would overlook his obvious shortcomings. His quest for a pretty girl friend always failed, but he kept trying. Sometimes (usually right before the bar closed) he did find a companion for the night, though in the sober light of the next morning he always wished he hadn’t.
On this Friday night, Timothy didn’t score until the very last moment, which was usually the case when he scored at all. The last call had been called and the few unattached men and women were settling for what was left if they intended to get laid. By this time, the woman who had moved onto the barstool near him looked very attractive indeed, the result of Timothy having imbibed a substantial load of ethanol. He had to drink substantially in order to overcome that awful, painful shyness which had plagued him all his life like a worthless, messy relative who wouldn’t move out and couldn’t be controlled. Even so, it was the woman who began the conversation.
“Where d’ y’ work?” She asked, surreptitiously checking her watch as she brushed back a tangled mass of horrid red hair that had a half inch of black roots showing. She grinned lasciviously, displaying cavities in her teeth and cracked makeup that was disguising her true age, somewhere well north of fifty.
“Uh, I’m a schientist, uh scientist at Bors…I mean Border Labs,” Timothy slurred, peering myopically at the woman. He tried a grin and spittle leaked from the corner of his mouth. To his alcohol sluiced brain, the woman he was talking to appeared attractive, with nice red hair, a pretty smile and pert little nose. His befuddled mind traveled no further than her face. In his condition, he almost certainly wouldn’t have noticed her dumpy body anyway. It bulged from her clothes in unsightly mounds, in unsightly places. Where mounds should have been was an almost flat plateau.
“You maksh rockets? Vroom!” The woman made a flying gesture with her hand. Unfortunately, it was the hand holding her drink. It sloshed over the brim, wetting them both.
Timothy didn’t even notice. He was enthralled with the beautiful woman sitting next to him and taking such an avid interest in him. “No, I’m a genetishist,” he corrected. “Whash y’re name?”
“Alicsh. Whatsh yers?”
“Tim. You wanta drink?”
“I think they’re closhed.”
Timothy’s conversational gambits were exhausted for the moment, but Alice didn’t suffer from shyness. “I gots shomethin’ t’ drink at my plascsh.”
“You do?” Even with a load on, Timothy was too shy to follow up on the obvious gambit. The woman was simply too beautiful. No woman that good looking would ask him home.
“Yesh. Wanna go?”
Timothy nodded gratefully, unable to speak. He wobbled to his feet and followed Alice outside. Neither of them should have been driving, of course, but they did. Fortunately, Alice lived only a few blocks away and they both managed to navigate that far with only minor damage to curbs, lampposts and fenders.
Timothy opened his bloodshot eyes and sat up in bed. The room spun dizzily for a moment then settled down. He vaguely remembered leaving the last watering hole with an attractive woman. They had gone to her place and…he looked down at the woman in bed with him and his eyes widened in horror. Peeling makeup clearly showed that she was easily old enough to be his grandmother. Alice was sleeping with her mouth open, revealing rotten teeth and a tongue coated with a fuzz that made him sick just looking at it. The rest of her made him sick too when he glanced hastily away from her face. How could he not have noticed last night? He must have been drunk out of his mind!
Very quietly, and praying very sincerely that he didn’t wake up the apparition beside him, Timothy eased out of the bed and stood up. He found his trousers and a chair. He sat down and pulled them on, then gathered the rest of his clothing and retreated from the bedroom, out the front door and, he earnestly hoped, out of Alice’s life forever.
For the rest of the weekend, Timothy mulled over the Friday night escapade. Being very honest with himself, he felt sure that had Alice awakened first, she would have had much the same reaction to him as he had to her. His shyness could be somewhat overcome with enough drink but there was simply no help for his appearance. He was doomed to either celibacy or a long line of future Alices. As he was brooding, he began to think what the world would be like if appearances didn’t count. Wouldn’t it be wonderful, he thought, if he had at least an equal chance at the attractive women and didn’t have to get drunk and fool himself into thinking he had found one, then wake up with Alice or her equivalent? And vice versa, he admitted to himself as he remembered one painful episode of a woman gazing at him in unabated horror when she woke up beside him, notwithstanding her own less than enviable appearance.
Timothy wasn’t vain enough to think he was such a super geneticist that he could devise a method to change appearances such as his, but he was certainly no dummy. Far from it. He began contemplating another way to go about it, to get essentially the same results. Suppose there was a way so that even when sober, every single woman looked as attractive as Alice had last night—and every woman thought every man was equally good looking? Wouldn’t that be great? Wouldn’t that even out the odds! He thought and thought and by Monday morning, he was ready to try putting his thoughts into action.
It didn’t happen immediately, of course. Timothy Meeker was brilliant, but even brilliance has its limits. For six months he worked practically day and night in his one man department at Border Labs. He made no more excursions to the singles bars. In fact, Timothy did very little but work and experiment. He was inspired by the thought of what he intended to accomplish. You might even say he became a monomaniac on the subject. His thought processes went no further nor considered much else except leveling the playing field.
Timothy’s original mental processes ran thus: Alcohol lowers inhibitions and judgment to the point where just about any member of the opposite sex appears not only suitable, but desirable. What would it take to produce the same result without alcohol? Genes, that’s what. Or chemicals. Or perhaps both.
In the end, it turned out to be both. Timothy altered a common virus that generally…
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