Well, that worked

The first necklace with my mini-landscape pendants on stone. I might be playing with gold-filled chains for an even more (for me) minimal look. But for now, this will do.

Materials: black stone pendant, black polyester waxed cord, Toho glass seed beads, India lampworked glass beads, acrylic paint, bronze leaf, varnish.

Necklace adjustable from 15″ to 26″.

Selfie with a shell scarf

Painter 17, Alien Skin filters, and a fast snapshot of me trying on a recent creation.


I like how well Painter’s new Impressionist brushes work, and mimic how I’d do this in physical oils or acrylics.

While I still think it’s sort of ‘cheating’ to doctor photos with digital filters and sell the result, I can see why photographers do it. The processing power is so cheap and efficient now, that all you’re really out are your printing and framing costs.

Where digital filters really work for me: setting up physical paintings and mapping out brush strokes ahead of time. As I’ve mentioned before, having even a rough map cuts down on hours spent trying out one brush pattern over another.


Painted rocks


A few months ago I scored some carved black stone pendants. A little research into painted shell and stone (resulting in a LOT of humility), I had a film hardener recipe for acrylic paint. And many ideas.

These are the first test batch with bronze leaf accents. Each is about one inch high. Once I decide how to string them, the finished necklaces will be for sale on my page at SaatchiArt and another platform.

I’ll do an Etsy Showcase soon on how the real professionals paint miniatures on stone and shell.

New version of Moro’s Price coming soon!


My debut novel MORO’S PRICE, a M/M space opera erotic romance, was first published in 2012. I’m pleased to announce that a newly revised version will be coming soon from NineStar Press.

If you liked the original version, I think you’ll love this one.

If all goes well, you’ll also be seeing the direct sequel to MORO, as well as a spin-off M/M novella featuring two side characters.

Thanks for your patience and support!

2016 year in review

I could almost get away with the stub listing ‘It sucked’.

The many and varied ways 2016 achieved maximum suckage will be studied in later history (if there is anyone left alive to study it). I’m not raising my blood pressure detailing those slings and arrows tonight.

Instead, I want to talk about good things.

I’m still alive. Most of my family and dearest friends are still alive. A very good friend survived serious career and health setbacks. I am loved and cherished, which is awesome and humbling.

I eased away from one publisher this year, and gave another new one a chance. In art, one venue I thought moribund is actually turning lucrative, while I’ve dropped another before it cost me too much to recover from. My writing struggled out of a lazy plateau and improved dramatically. I have a wealth of art, jewelry, and writing projects to address, and just enough skill to reach them.

I have goals for 2017, and far less fear about them than I would have thought, a couple of safe and happy years ago.

So for my readers and anyone stumbling onto this post: I hope you have a sane, healthy, happy, productive, humane, and triumphant new year.

Endure. Live. Thrive. Resist.

More publishers behaving badly

As if 2016 hadn’t sucked badly enough before this, December saw news that two more publishers were going under with messy implosions. In both cases, authors and readers were left hanging.

Torquere was a small erotic romance publisher once reasonably respected, but torpedoed by mismanagement over the last few years.

The bigger news a few days ago: the abrupt dissolution of AllRomance Ebooks/OmniLit. This was a digital ebook sales platform that had just branched into direct publishing. For other publishers, ARe/Omni had thousands of titles across many genres, from Big Five houses to small independents and self-published authors. (I even had a spot on ARe, in prep for my future self-pub efforts.)

I lost a few dollars from sales of Maestro this last quarter, I’m sure. I know other authors who estimate they’ve lost $10K or more. Follow the link for more news about this crash (which may have less to do with financial losses than graft and fraud.)

Torquere’s troubles, we knew about at least half a year. The ARe debacle had hints of trouble a few months ago for some authors, but most of us never saw it coming.

We don’t like to see Amazon as the only outlet. For many of us, ARe was the next biggest earner, and its loss will ripple across the romance genre.

Welcome to the future, I guess.

Update 1-2-2017: The AllRomance/OmniLit sites have vanished now, like a once-vast city buried in lava. I remember how big those sites were, especially to romance. It seems surreal that they’re gone.

More disquieting are the hints and rumors of continued odd behavior from Lori James, and the realization that ARe/Omni were on shaky foundations at least two years ago. The good news is that Big Five publishers will almost certainly file suit, but that won’t help the small presses and individual authors also dragged down.

I’m no lawyer or publishing professional. My sense, from listening to people who are: look closely at your publisher. Try to determine if they’re responding quickly and responsibly to these debacles, and to shifts in the larger publishing world. If not, you might want to pull back or get out while you can.

There will almost certainly be small publishers who will lose large amounts of money from what Lori James owes. Some will lose more money trying to pay their authors’ ARe/Omni royalties out of pocket. Some won’t pay, or will only pay the 10% they might get. Either way, some of these publishers won’t survive the financial hit or the exodus of angry authors. If you love your publisher, rally around and help…but be willing to take the risks, too.

As a reader, the most important thing you can do for the writers you love: leave online reviews. Wherever you buy a physical or ebook, give an honest review. Don’t randomly gush 5-star reviews…put some thought into them. Why did you like the book? Why not? Even a guarded 3-star review can have great positive effects; even a negative review can spark the interest of other readers.

Digital books can make an author’s backlist accessible. But no one will buy that backlist if they don’t know it exists. So review!





Cobalt Arc Necklace

Many years ago, a wonderful little bead shop called ‘Another Bead Please’ had some gorgeous pieces of multicolored cane glass beads on commission.

I was lucky enough to score two massive curved glass beads, each in two-tone triangular cane glass: one clear and teal, and this one in cobalt and clear glass.

Since I have a stash of glass beads, I was able to match the clear/cobalt with some great coin beads, some dark cobalt pony beads, and tassels with a scattering of cobalt and metallic bronze beads to pick up the copper glass highlights in the coin beads.

It’s strung on heavy duty waxed black polyester cord, and is adjustable from about 15″ to 20″ lengths.

It’s more minimal and modern than the bead work I usually do, but no less fun.

This piece will go up on SaatchiArt Online in the next couple of days.

Added 12-26-2016: It’s live at SaatchiArt now.

Merry Christmas, everybody!

Seabird Necklace

This used to be a different necklace, but I sold one of the components separately a few years ago. A different chain, a little Deco style, and here’s a new necklace!

Materials: sterling silver, amethyst, ametrine, rutilated quartz, clear quartz (rock crystal), smoky quartz, labradorite, iolite.

Concept: in a layered 3D filigree oval, a cast silver bird flies over curling waves with a 2.5mm iolite bead hanging from its beak. Filigree scrollwork dangles accent faceted smoky quartz nuggets and a teardrop cabochon ametrine with a distressed mirror backing.

Chain: gemstone beads and filigree lilies, linked by wrapped silver wire.

Chain alone: 18″ Commercial toggle clasp.

My ‘MC’ insignia on the back.

Beall’s List and fake academic publishers

The predatory vanity publishing world is not limited to fiction. Academic and scientific papers are also a hot commodity, since the legitimate markets can have high entry barriers in fees and vetting. A host of predatory and often outright criminal publishers have surfaced to ‘serve’ those customers.

Many scientists and academics need to publish work to promote their career, grants applications, or general reputation.

Many dubious presenters need an official-looking publishing credit to bolster their claims or products (similar to how fiction vanity publishers use fake or problematic contests and associations to push their services.)

How to tell the difference, when many respected logical thinkers may not be able to?

Look for the same flops in logic you’d find in other anti-intellectual communities. The same meaningless jingoism, the same vague promises…and often, the same exorbitant publishing fees!

The US and Europe have their share of these outfits. But a large number of them are based in India – a rising market combining powerful legitimate publishers, brilliant academics, knowledge-hungry students, large amounts of money, predatory vanity publishers, and viciously divisive nationalist politics.

Here’s a link to Scholarly Open Access, and Beall’s List of predatory and fake journals. If you find a ‘journal’ listed here, it’s worth taking your time to be skeptical before you decide to submit to it!

Here’s a link to Brian Dunning’s ‘Skeptoid’ podcast about fake academic publishers and the white hat hoaxers who help expose them.

Just for laughs – and the learning experience! – here’s a Wiki link to the time when SF writer Isaac Asimov thoroughly trolled a scientific journal that wasn’t paying attention.

Here’s John H. McCool in The Scientist ‘Opinion: Why I Published in a Predatory Journal’.

Why is this crap a worldwide problem? A lack of properly vetted and researched scientific and academic work hurts all countries’ scientific intelligence quotient. It allows for easier plundering of whole economies by special interests using ‘fake news’ to advance their agenda. It covers and excuses wars and genocides. It promotes simplistic thinking and Orwellian Double-Speak over difficult but worthwhile truths. It has specific individual human costs, as when cancer patients choose ineffective bogus treatments over proven science, based off poorly-researched work in fake journals.

It has career costs, too. When unprepared or corrupt professionals plagiarize other people’s work or ‘buy’ their credentials, they’re lying about their qualifications. It might slide by without anyone knowing, and no one may be substantially harmed by the deception. But it can also lead to career shame, such as this case when some savvy Kansas students did the research that their school board obviously failed to do. Or now, when the antics of the manifestly unqualified Donald Trump may lead to countless unnecessary deaths in wars and poverty.

Peer review, like democracy, only works when your peers are intelligent, critical-thinking, and well-read members of the wider community.

What up, Russians?

First off, to the Russians who keep trying to hack me: why? I’m small fry, not worth your effort. I have 13 subscribers with a handful of other readers, and I run a blog that is mostly a wall o’text. No pretty pictures, no clickbait ads, and no one powerful cares what I think.

Granted, I’ve got your number. You’re either an entrepreneur or a state-sponsored hacker. You’re probably just trying to make a buck in an authoritarian state where the average wage has dropped to what, $200 a month? $100? Less? Where corruption, alcoholism, drug use, and kleptocracy have run rampant since the failure of perestroika, while life expectancy has plummeted. Where your Supreme Despot deflected your rightful anger away from himself and toward cultural ‘others’, in a shameful alliance with the Russian Orthodox Church.

Hint: Pussy Riot isn’t your enemy. Putin and his friends are.

Communism failed to ever create its perfect state, with Russia, Cuba, North Korea…shall I go on? The authoritarian leanings in your country transformed emerging capitalism into plutocracy almost immediately; jury’s still out on what going to happen in Cuba or North Korea.

When you copied Western Capitalism, you also imported the worst of our attitudes toward scorning the poor and the working class, and worshiping the rich. I’m sorry for that, I had better hopes for you. Carl Sagan saw where you were going in 1996:

Russia is an instructive case. Under the tsars, religious superstition was encouraged, but scientific and skeptical thinking—except by a few tame scientists—was ruthlessly expunged. Under Communism, both religion and pseudoscience were systematically suppressed—except for the superstition of the state ideological religion. It was advertised as scientific, but fell as far short of this ideal as the most unself-critical mystery cult. Critical thinking—except by scientists in hermetically sealed compartments of knowledge—was recognized as dangerous, was not taught in the schools, and was punished where expressed. As a result, post-Communism, many Russians view science with suspicion. When the lid was lifted, as was also true of virulent ethnic hatreds, what had all along been bubbling subsurface was exposed to view. The region is now awash in UFOs, poltergeists, faith healers, quack medicines, magic waters, and old-rime superstition. A stunning decline in life expectancy, increasing infant mortality, rampant epidemic disease, subminimal medical standards, and ignorance of preventative medicine all work to raise the threshold at which skepticism is triggered in an increasingly desperate population.

But honestly, while I love Russian art, culture, and poetry, I have to accept I’m talking about a social mindset that still thinks xenophobia and Stalin are worthy ideals.

So for the user in Moscow with the IP address

Stop trying, you’re just embarrassing yourself. Go be useful to humanity’s future. Go hack the American GOP again, and show the world whatever pictures of live boys and dead girls you can hold over Trump & Co.

White Walls, Ghost Ship, and the arts in America

While we’re looking at the economic and social issues coalescing around the Ghost Ship fire, we need to accept that exploitation of creatives is so common it’s basically a tenet of American culture.

The vanity publishers I talk about in the ‘Filigree’s Rule’ section of this blog? They’re only one of the more-blatant tips of a big iceberg, culminating in our President-Elect.

Coded into bedrock American culture is the idea that art is frivolous or a luxury, that artists are second-class citizens who don’t contribute much to the greater good. ‘Safe’ art gets a nod from the powers-that-be, while ‘unsafe’ art gets tagged as unsavory and socially dangerous. ‘Play’ is never as worthy as ‘work’, even though play has been shown to be a common behavior among smarter animals, and a core practice of many genius-level humans.

I can hear any number of civic boosters, art professionals, teachers, grants committee members, and charitable foundation members yelping ‘Not so!’ if they read this. While they are all tirelessly working to fight upstream against the very attitudes I just mentioned.

Ask yourselves how much better your jobs would be, if Americans truly valued art and creativity?

From the San Francisco area comes this update on a story I first heard about years ago: the saga of a hip gallery called ‘White Walls’, a grifter called Justin Giarla, and the artists who ran afoul of him.

I was in the art supply retail business around the time White Walls became really famous. I remember seeing the glossy magazine ads for the space. I can see how artists got seduced by the pitch.

Quoted from the first story: “He did this intentionally to people, and bullied them when confronted,” Soukup wrote. “He hid behind the threat that he could ruin you if you spoke out against him.”

Quoted from the second story: When street artist David Young V, also known as DYoungV, saw Harman’s post about Giarla, it inspired him to go public with his own story. “It’s been public knowledge that Justin has been either stealing from or attempting to steal from artists for years,” DYoungV wrote in a public Facebook post. “Yet artists heard all the warnings and continued to work with him anyway. It’s almost like nobody wanted to believe the ‘rumors’ until it actually happened to them.”

Anyone who has been in the art sphere for a while has met a Giarla. I’ve known several, and yes, lost money and art to them. That artists, musicians, and writers have a tendency to shrug off such misadventures as ‘part of doing business’ is a sad but necessary fact of our lives. When any gallery exposure might be the lucky break we need to become famous – or even just solvent – we gamble.

The Giarla story at least has some merit, now that other artists beyond the initial whistle-blower have come forward to admit being scammed, too.

So if you’re a new artist trying to get your big break, what can you do? Here’s some tips I’ve learned from 30 years in the trenches:

It’s a business first, friendship second. Don’t believe anyone you work with, when they call your relationship ‘a family’. The more they emphasize ‘family’, the more you should silently add ‘dysfunctional’, and plan accordingly. Be nice about it, but protect yourself. While you’re at it, don’t completely trust your fellow artists, either – they’re all subject to the same temptations and shortcuts, and you might become a handy patsy or scapegoat.

Get everything in writing. Do not rely on handshake deals, since they can fall apart like wet toilet paper. Even the most well-meaning gallery owner can fall off the wagon, or even the map. Getting terms of your business relationship on paper may help bump you up in the line, if it comes to litigation or bankruptcy courts.

Never risk more than you can afford to lose. Accept that every single painting, sculpture, manuscript, poem, or song you produce in that relationship is subject to theft, in one way or another. Gamble – but spread out your risk factors.

Very rarely is ‘working for exposure’ worth your time. Any time someone asks you to volunteer your labor, materials, and time for free or a pittance, make sure the ‘exposure’ is actually worth something on your CV.

If it sounds too good to be true, it’s probably either a filthy lie from a scammer, or the nonsense from someone too airheaded to survive in business.



Artists, protect yourselves

The lessons are piling on from last Friday’s horrific ‘Ghost Ship’ fire in Oakland, California.

At least three dozen people died.

To recap: The Ghost Ship was an urban warehouse illegally and shoddily converted into cheap work-live housing for artists, musicians, and other creatives. Electricity and water were siphoned from neighbors, and frequently didn’t work. Pre-fire images show a cluttered maze-like space called both ‘beautiful’ and ‘horrible’ by ex-tenants. It was a tinderbox waiting for a spark.

City and county officials explain they’re too overworked and disorganized to effectively deal with the hundreds of other illegal ‘work-live’ sites in their area.

Neighbors explain they called officials numerous times about the infamous warehouse.

The building owners claim they had no idea it was being used as a living space, or that the interior was hideously not up to safety codes…even though they were cited numerous times.

The building manager has shrugged off repeated warnings about fire safety and health codes, and even now seems to be trying to whine and bluster his way out of blame. He’s making those claims about ‘we’re all a family’ that we’ve heard from other exploiters.

Urban artists explain that the economy and affordable housing shortages force marginalized groups to seek ‘Ghost Ship’ types of often-illegal and nearly always exploitative communal housing. That governments and social groups have to step up to protect those vulnerable communities.

You know what, creative snowflakes? That’s feelgood Obama-era bullshit. You are on your own.

Most cities and states don’t actually care about artists, because most artists are not a lucrative enough tax base to be heard. Cities may make ‘We support the creative class’ noises, but seldom make solid promises or follow-through on safe housing and workspaces. We have a few good examples in AZ, but we also have our share of Arty Slumlords and boom-to-bust art neighborhoods.

Most civic leaders don’t want to encourage ‘alternative’ artists in any genre, because those artists have a bent for critical social commentary. In a Trump America, artists need to acknowledge they are now resistance fighters instead of cash cows. Trump himself, with his rants about comedy shows and Broadway musicals (and his own horrible taste in art!) has shown he doesn’t get that art *should* be able to challenge comfort zones.

In Trump America, there will be fewer regulations facing businesses, so don’t look for help there, either.

Why do we artists gather in cities? More opportunities, and often more safety and self expression than our heartland hometowns…especially now. Even for those of us who previously shied away from activist art. We no longer have that luxury.

The good news is we CAN protect ourselves. We can learn some basic science and safety measures. Make friends with (and pool our resources to PAY) electrical, construction, and plumbing specialists. Up our critical-thinking skills, so we can recognize deathtrap housing and megalomaniac site management when we see it. We can take logical steps to make our live-work spaces as safe as possible.

We need to think like doomsday preppers, and plan to be artists in zombie-apocalypse dystopias, where our survival depends on the choices we make. No one else is going to rescue us.


Pyramid Schemes, Dunbar’s Number, and Betsy DeVos

Trump’s latest cabinet pick for Secretary of Education is ‘Michigan royalty’ Betsy DeVos. This is not only a potential disaster for American public education, it’s another sure sign that when Trump says ‘Drain the Swamp!’, he must mean his version of Opposite Day. As in crony capitalism on steroids.

How swampy is Betsy DeVos, in this context?

Neither she nor her children attended public school. She’s on record for many years as an opponent of public schooling. She’s an extremely wealthy woman who champions public money funneled to private religious schools, advocates pro-religious and anti-science teaching, favors racial school segregation under the guise of ‘school choice’, and has sent political dark money to some of the worst of the religious right’s ‘Christian’ PACs and Super-PACs.

What’s the religious angle? Her brother Erik Prince (of Blackwater infamy) has advocated a white Christian theocracy in America. From this article in The InterceptThe Prince and DeVos families gave the seed money for what came to be known as the Republican Revolution when Newt Gingrich became House speaker in 1994 on a far-right platform known as the Contract with America.

But the rot goes decades further back.

Why does Betsy DeVos want to kill public education? Probably because of its Common Core goals of teaching STEM skills and critical thinking, the natural enemies of theocracy.

Where’s the multi-level marketing angle? She married into the family that founded Amway and some other large MLM companies.

I first ran across MLMs in the late 1980’s, while researching money-making opportunities in Arizona. I quickly realized their mathematical impossibility, and didn’t commit myself to any of them. I looked into them again in 2012, while researching their similarities to and connections with several vanity-publishing companies.

MLMs are built on shaky legal underpinnings, since many of them skate near but not into Ponzi schemes. Most can claim they make money by selling real products. The hard truth is that most MLMs make far more money by leveraging commissions on more and more ‘new distributors’ who fuel the pyramid scheme. Only a few people, the early adopters at the top of the pyramid, are going to amass any real wealth. Basic mathematics shows that the pyramid runs out of earning power quickly, in its lower levels.

MLMs pitch a great ‘dream’ with little solid evidence, wrap their pitch in quasi-religious terms, rake in millions of dollars in commissions, and tend to put the blame of failure on their unsuccessful members. In short, they are the perfect compatriots of many Prosperity Gospel adherents and Tea-Party/Trumpvoters.

What’s Dunbar’s Number? A possible cognitive limit to how many social connections individuals can maintain, based upon British anthropologist Robin Dunbar’s studies of primate brain size and social group size.

In this context, ‘social connection’ indicates how many people one person can know well, and still know how everyone in that network relates to every other member. The bigger the brain, it seems, the bigger the ‘tribe’ to which one can maintain loyalty and mutual trust. For most humans, that number seems to hover around 150 people.

That 150 contains our close and distant kin groups, our co-workers and business partners, our social clubs and churches, and can stretch to cover distant and former associates. The ties of religious or social affiliation can extend a person’s allegiance to much bigger ‘tribes’ linked by agreed-upon behaviors. But it can also be co-opted very easily by authoritarian states and leaders, unscrupulous grifters, and others intent on gaming social networks.

The rise of Facebook ‘fake news’ was driven by false kinship signals created by for-profit and/or for-cause alt.right ‘news’ sites.

That 150 is not coincidentally the same average number of people that MLM sellers can beg to buy their ‘products’ or the average sales-to-family-and-friends by vanity-published authors.

John Oliver has a good overview of MLM faults here. Robert L. FitzPatrick has a quick guide to MLM’s here.

What does this rambling post come down to? Betsy DeVos does not speak for true American ideals, and she will probably use her wealth and MLM-honed dirty tricks to advance causes that will damage America.

Trump can’t factually state he’ll ‘Drain the Swamp’ while putting forward such divisive and disastrous cabinet picks. I don’t know whether he’s an evil genius, a practical businessman rewarding early loyalty, or a bored dilettante, but he’s outsourcing the fate of America to people diametrically opposed to our actual Founding Fathers’ Enlightenment goals.

What Donald J. Trump doesn’t seem to understand is that on January 21, 2017, he will effectively be obsolete in the eyes of his Vice President and his more-conservative cabinet picks. He did his job: he got Pence elected, and picked the Pence cabinet.

Trump has already lost control of his narrative.

People like Pence and DeVos will rule America whether Trump steps down in disgrace, is impeached, or killed (and look closely at Pence & Co then!), or simply ignores the day-to-day operation of what will be the Pence administration. That’s great for Pence, the DeVos and Prince Families, and the other right-wingers who want Christian religious rule of America for generations to come.

Not so good for pro-science folks, non-religious people, the LGBTQ community, moderate multi-culturalism, and anyone with brown skin.

What can we do? Be vigilant. Be logical. Prove that our tribe is bigger and better, and will win in the end.


How to deal with Neo Nazis

Let’s face it, the alt.right are Neo Nazis, pure and simple. They’re not ‘white nationalists’. They’re not ‘dapper’. They don’t simply want a ‘white homeland’ free from all ‘colored’ influences…they want to crowd out and exterminate the Other. We know this, we’ve seen this dance before.

Their tools are misinformation and resentment, fear, and a hunger for security and relevance.

How to deal with the new crop?

1. Call them out when you see them. Call out their collaborators and apologists. Boycott, call their sponsors, raise awareness, push back.

2. Mock the shit out of them.

SgtSchultzy reminds of that Illinois Nazi scene in Blues Brothers.

Blazing Saddles’ Bad Guy Lineup is an enduring classic, and could almost be Trump’s transition team and cabinet picks.

Spike Jones (the novelty comedy musician) had this gem mocking Hitler back in the day.

3. Remember where this leads (graphic images), and that it sure as fuck CAN happen here.

Don’t make America into Amerika.

Painter 17 teaser art

Corel’s new digital arts platform Painter 17 is out now, and I’m fiddling around with it this week.

I finished this teaser art piece for the new version of Moro’s Price in about 30 minutes, and that was because I was slowly playing around with some of the new Artist’s Favorites brushes. I should have been able to do it in 15 minutes.moro-diamond-for-blog

Of course, I’d already photographed the emerald-cut diamond myself, and long ago designed the palm tree insignia. But now it’s a useful bit of art that may or may not end up as a cover design, once I fiddle with it some more.

Painter 17 so far: gorgeous. Controls are more integrated and intuitive. Customizing brushes, filters, etc is much easier. The help menus make sense. Corel seems to finally be listening more to its coveted base: artists who have some real-world skill with drawing, painting, and mixed media, and who want to recreate those looks in digital media. (And go lightyears beyond!) I’m not alone in my esteem.

If you’ve ever waffled about buying Painter as an actual, real, not-Photoshop digital arts platform, this version is probably the best entry into the Painter world that I’ve seen in 20 years. It’s not cheap, but if you are a student, you might be able to score the more affordable Educational Version.


Donald J. Trump will be forced to resign…

…Or be impeached, or even be assassinated (possibly even by his own people). And that should scare the crap out of every liberal in America.

The Trump alternatives are worse.

Even if none of those things happen, Trump has made it pretty clear he has neither an inclination for nor an interest in the details of his new job. He’s already said he plans to outsource much of it, to a core group of loyalists chosen for their early and slavish Trump support, not their qualifications for office. He needs adulation and constant reassurance, and these people will provide it to him.

Why be even more scared?

Because Trump’s #2 guy is Mike Pence, whom the alt.right white terrorists and the ultra-religious conservatives *love*.

I’d even go so far as to say that Donald J. Trump was always going to be someone’s patsy.

His children want a right-wing Kennedy dynasty, and will happily use him as a foundation stone.

The Democrats thought he’d be a wonderful toxic candidate against whom their nominee could steamroll with ease.

The Republicans realized early on they needed someone to reach Angry America, and Trump was handy through his birther/Tea Party connections. He could win. But he was never meant to stay in office. Under this scenario, Trump’s yuuuuge character flaws were an asset: sooner or later, he can be counted on to be forced aside, leaving the field for Pence and an authoritarian ultra-right Christian government. (This would probably have been John McCain’s fate, had he and Sarah Palin won in 2008.)

So I’d say watch Trump, sure, but spend some energy watching what Pence and Bannon have cooking in their political labs.

Update 1-15-2017: Since that post I (and most of the thinking populace) have been made aware of perhaps the biggest influence on Donald Trump’s actions: Vladimir Putin. Sure the jokes have been flying for months (years), but there are real conflicts of interest, data pointing to kompromat, and some close-to-treason actions by Trump & Co.

Why would Russia want to destabilize the US and the EU? Easy, it opens the playing field for their dreams of glory…if not very survival. Why would Trump play along? Other than his monstrous ego and whispering son-in-law telling him that Vlad Really Likes Him? Money. Trump’s overseas holdings are vast, and his entanglement with Russian oligarch already legendary. He can only be President for 8 years legally (under current law, look to the Watchmen movie for hints how that could play out). But he’s in this game for money and power, and he thinks an allegiance with Putin will extend that.

At great risk to the U.S. and the rest of the world, I must add.

How Electors can redeem their honor

This is a long shot, for actually doing anything…but you can sign a petition to the US Electoral College to recast or overturn their votes for Trump. They have a little over a month. Try this site, for more information.

Clinton won the popular vote, but not the Electoral. Hmm. When have we seen this before, recently? Oh yes, in 2000. And it was a Republican-engineered takeover then, too.

And we ALL saw how eight years of the Cheney/Bush White House worked out.

Trump is magnitudes more unfit for office than George W. Bush. He’ll not only make America more of an international pariah state and laughingstock, he’ll endanger our livelihoods and our lives. His mere victory has emboldened the alt-right thugs who helped drive his campaign, and he’s shown no sign, willingness, or ability to repudiate them.

Maybe our voices can’t coax the members of the Electoral College to save America from a Trump regime…but it can signal that we’re here, we’re not going away, and we can play the obstructionist long game, too.

Sign the petition for that reason, at least, and pass it on to people who feel the same way.

Narrow Shore

(Soon to be an artist’s book.) For a couple of years, I’ve been taken to task by well-meaning folks who want me to make only positive, light-hearted, beautiful books that affirm life and hope. And I do – I’ve got a lot of those on the workshop table, or in development.

But being a nihilist, I also embrace the darker possibilities.

Almost to the point that I understand what, in a fantasy world, goes into the making and meaning of a cursed object. How beauty and craft can be slanted into devious turns and outright horror, charged with subtle or overt poisons meant to game one outcome or another.

No, I don’t have to accept this ‘new normal’. No, I’m not going to bother to ‘make peace’ with people – even my own blood kin – whose fear, laziness, and entitlement led them to vote for the distilled worst parts of the American psyche: a conman, swindler, chronic tax cheat, science denier, bully, buffoon, and rapist. I don’t have to pretend manmade climate change isn’t happening, because like a gamma ray burst, my lack of belief does not shield me.

‘Narrow Shore’ will be a dark little book, but not the darkest in my CV.

Narrow Shore


Every year, the universe pulls away.

Every year, it darkens as the first light fades.

Those who saw the Earth from space

Are growing old.

Their children traded thoughtless lives

For easy gold,

Trapped along the threshold

Of this narrow shore

Between the howling desert

And the uncaring deep:

Too weak to linger,

Too spent to leap.

So that happened

One of the perils of being an Independent voter, as well as mostly a nihilist, is that I often think of the worst possible outcome…and expect to see it.

I’ve never been as completely saddened by America as I am now. #Whitelash and emotion-based politics carried the day over dull competence and multicultural globalism last night.

The scared and fed-up Trump voters fell for a con man who made them feel special. He’s not likely to have a positive long term effect on their lives and struggles, no matter what kind of conciliatory speeches he gives. A man who gleefully accepted and encouraged hate and divisiveness in his campaign, who surrounds himself with ‘advisors’ with similar failings…is not going to suddenly turn around and become Reagan 2.o.

Reagan, by the way, was *terrible* for the US, and came into office under clouds of scandal that were largely forgotten by his current worshipers. Anyone recall Iran Contra? The Reagan Recession? The big lie of Trickle-Down Economics?

How much worse will Trump be?

Instead of ‘draining the swamp’ of government, we’ll have a worse crop of evil and/or incompetent political operatives gaining power and staying in power. Think they’ll give a shit about the angry, lost, scared Red-state voters? Ha. Y’all were marks, doing exactly what the con-man wanted you to do.

What’s next for America? A sitting President continually mired in far worse scandals, with no experience, with a cabinet hand-picked to be the among the worst anti-science, pro-religion thugs we’ve seen in decades.

A lot of damage can be done in four years. #Whitelash is the way the non-whites are now referring to the smoldering hate, anger, and fear of the voters who spoke for Trump yesterday.

With more dismantling of the Voting Rights Act, even the possible 2020 backlash of Latino and African American voters probably won’t be able to do much. The idiots will be in power for decades, until the last of the old white ‘Leave it to Beaver’ 1950s fantasy-peddlers die off.

If you want an indicator of post-neoliberal America, look at the state of Kansas. Sam Brownback swept into power, and now Kansas is suffering for his policies.

That’s the rest of the country, very soon.

We can’t even take solace if Trump is (I think inevitably) impeached, because his VP is another Brownback, squared. The Supreme Court will be packed with ultra conservative judges. Roe v. Wade will be abolished; expect to see common forms of contraception made illegal. Press freedoms will fall to authoritarian crackdowns in the fashion of China, Turkey, Venezuela, or Russia. So goodbye whistleblowers. There won’t be a better answer to health care, other than the old ‘Pay for all of your $125,000 heart surgery yourself, you freeloader’ system. We’ll be a backward anti-science nation in a world where science and high-technology are the only real paths forward. International trading partners and investors will pull away, because America is suddenly a crap investment. We also face new and terrifying international political consequences.

We are one big natural disaster from Balkanizing into smaller, fractured tribal states.

America got exactly the President it deserves. I’m just sorry the rest of us have to deal with this temper tantrum.