Wednesday, January 27, 2016

So you want to end abortion?

Then let's figure out how.

First you must accept that completely ending abortion is a pipe dream. As long as women get pregnant, as long as pregnancies go bad, it will be a medical necessity.

Second, it is a truism that ending legal abortion doesn't end the practice, it just makes women resort to home methods, including douching with drain cleaner, taking herbs where the effective dose is the same as the lethal and inserting sharp objects into their bodies. Criminalizing abortion only causes dead women.

Third, the abortion rate hit its lowest point ever in 2014, with fewer than 17 pregnancies out of 1000 ending this way.

For the record, the infant mortality rate in Mississippi is 8 per 1000 (which is the same as the rate for white women having abortions nationally)

So, what can be done?

Simply saying "Everyone must stop having non-procreative sex" does not work. We have proven this over ten thousand years of human civilization. Where rules are placed on human behavior, humans work to get around them. Witness places that punished adultery by execution, and people still had affairs.

Abstinence has a 100% user failure rate.

The sane way to approach this is "Why do women have abortions?" A better question is "Why do 40% of women, regardless of religion, class, color or lifestyle find themselves in the position where they need to not be pregnant?'

The answer is not, as some would have you believe "because they are stupid, evil baby-eating ogresses."  Maybe one or two are, but not 40% of the population.

The primary answer is finances. This is borne out by numerous studies.
The second most common is school/job interruption.
(there's a 1% variation in the placement of these reasons in the Guttmacher study)

Abortions decline when the economy improves. Notice the sharp drop in the graph around 1996. (the earliest Baby Boomers hitting 50 may have had something to do with it as well.) It mostly leveled with slight decline and then spiked again in the mid-2000s, during the recession. Since 2008, the decline has been steady. (and the early Baby Busters/GenX started turning 40 about then and hitting menopause)

Improved birth control: IUDs and implants are responsible for some of this. People tend to be more diligent about birth control in harder times, because they can't afford another mouth.

And that's what it comes down to. When I was driving, I came to the conclusion that if I got pregnant, tubal be damned, I would have to end the pregnancy. It would end my career and I carried the insurance on the kids, including two chronically ill ones. And if I did get pregnant, it would likely be an ectopic pregnancy, which would be fatal.

Job interruption at that point would have been damaging. And it was when it happened a few years later. We're still recovering 4 years down the road.

Now, multiply that by ending school, or by killing a career at the beginning, when the woman has no resources. That is the why.


So what can be done?

The answers are relatively simple, but very unpalatable for most of the Pro-Life movement.

1) Accurate sex education, with talk of birth control, not just failure rates, beginning at age 11 and up. I know, they're still kids. But they are developing, even at that age. My daughters were making college age men walk into walls and street signs at 12. At 11, middle-aged men were attempting to follow them off elevators.

2) Access to birth control, including long term forms. This means insurance and medicaid need to pay for it and employers need to butt out. Over the counter pills are just one more way for insurance to get out of paying.

3) Education and empowerment. Girls must be taught to say no if they don't want something and everyone must be taught to listen. Educated women are less likely to get pregnant when they don't want to, and have fewer children as a rule.

4) Economic changes. I favor a Guaranteed Minimum Income. Unplanned pregnancies are more likely to be continued in good economic times, when the woman feels secure in her ability to take care of the child. Living wages, good jobs, and day care that doesn't cost as much as an Ivy League education are all part of this.

 It's not a hard concept. It is very hard to change people's minds when they look at that list and see "Teach Immorality, Encourage Immorality, Teach Immorality, Socialism" and not actual ideas that will help real people.

Then again, these are people who think women get third trimester abortions out of carelessness and evil and not out of wanted pregnancies going heartbreakingly wrong.

Can we end abortion? No. Not completely. Not even if we made pregnancy an opt-in decision instead of an opt-out. If everyone was on the IUD or implant, and had to make a conscious effort to get pregnant, not even then. Those wanted planned pregnancies would still go bad.

Can we reduce abortion still further, make actual infant mortality higher? possibly. The above 4 ideas would be a start.

A brief illustration on the opt-in/opt-out: I was in a high school role-playing game and the sex ed class was discussing pregnancy. The kids from space milieus (Star Trek, Star Wars, Farscape, Etc) treated pregnancy as an opt-in event, something one had to make a decision to have happen. The kids from contemporary milieus treated it as opt-out, something to be actively avoided. The kids from fantasy milieus were pretty much agog at the idea of sex without reproduction and wanted to be part of this shiny future.

So, do we want to move into the future, stay where we are, or regress to a place where sex and childbirth are inextricably linked? I know where some groups want to take us. And don't think it can't happen. Bear in mind, we lost indoor plumbing for nearly 1400 years.

Roe is the first target. Griswold is the next. And that has been the game-plan since the 1980s. Strange how the stated goal is directly at odds with the most-effective practices for achieving it.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Writers Write

This is the advice I give in every blog post on writing.

Put your butt in the chair.
Open the word processor.
Turn on some hard driving music
hit keys until you produce a manuscript. If an infinite number of monkeys can do it...

Because Writers Write.

Stephan King, Neil Gaiman, Brian Keene, Elizabeth Donald and Me. We all do the same thing.
But in chair.
Fingers on keyboard.

Or sometimes not.

I've hit massive burnout after sixteen novels and 100+ short stories and two deaths in the space of nine months. Losing Mom last December is still biting me around every corner. Losing Darren... My Constant Reader is gone. I'm tap-dancing for myself again. I'm working two part time jobs and sometimes the juggling act means a 15 hour day.

So I gave myself permission.

I'm actively NOT writing.  Deliberately, mindfully NOT opening my word processor for the month of January.

Instead, I'm coloring. I'm drawing (including taking a class). I'm working the day jobs. I'm knitting, I'm reading and reading and reading some more, and watching movies and TV. I'm editing audiobooks. I'm playing with kittens.

I am, in short, refilling my tank and doing some self-care. And that can be as much of a necessity as the words themselves.

But yes, writers write. Maybe not every day or even every month. But they do put the words on paper.  This is the advice I always give when asked to blog about writing. The advice I will always give.

"Mood? Bah! Mood is a thing for cattle or lovemaking."

In a couple weeks, I'll plug Dragonforce back into the speakers and plunge back into the Roaring 20s with my adventurers and Rock the Casbah. (I have a short due for a rock-and-roll themed pulp anthology)  But for now, no guilt over not writing.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Let's talk politics

It comes as no surprise to anyone who has read this blog that I am liberal. I am the queer pagan feminist Pat Robertson warned you about. And I don't vote for people who want to harm me.

As I see it, this election is a three way race.

(links provided only in the most egregious cases, rest of this is out there for anyone with Google)

On the Republican side, no matter who gets nominated, he will be a theocrat attempting to run us full tilt bogie into fascism. I don't say that lightly.

They are all "pro-life" because that is their base. Unfortunately some of them missed the memo that abortion is the big fund raiser, because they are seriously trying to roll back Roe, and taking aim at Griswold. They also have no idea that criminalizing abortion kills women. And if they did, they would consider it a feature, not a problem.

They're all for more surveillance.

They're all for school vouchers over public school.

They all support Fracking and drilling for more oil and call other energy sources "pie in the sky."

They're all about breaking down the Federal government and dumping all the burdens on the states.

They're all against the ACA, without fielding an actual plan to replace it.

They are all on record as being against Same-sex marriage

They all voted against re-authorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

Jeb Bush. Who wants to end SNAP and replace it with "state level block grants" He express-laned the Florida electric chair and opposed treatment programs for drug offenders. He support For-Profit colleges and wants to abolish the Department of Education. Has described the Gay, Black and Women's movements as "victim movements" designed to get people thinking of themselves as deserving something. He's mainstream, not scary and might just clinch it, despite the name

Ben Carson: Possibly just a token, but might be a contender. he has said nothing that distinguished him from the pack, except the gaffe about God building the Pyramids as grain storage, which shows he has apparently confused the videogame Civilization with history.

Chris Christie. Knowingly killed much-needed transportation projects to undermine union labor

Ted Cruz. Some question about his citizenship and eligibility.  His father believes he's anointed. And apparently he thinks so too. Here is the happy smiling face of Christian Dominionism, which the Right has been flirting with for years. He flat out told the American Family Association that the only way to save the US is to turn it into a theocracy.
His economic and social policies are outlined here, and basically boil down to "if it helps anyone, we're cutting it."

Carly Fiorina. Failed president of Hewlett-Packard, and like all high level Republican women, a ladder-pulling token.

Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum have made themselves so odious, neither will get the nomination/

John Kasich. The dark horse, he's kept his mouth shut and avoided any gaffes. This will look attractive

Rand Paul, son of the Tea Party founder. Another who wants to destroy the government if elected to run it

Marco Rubio is for lowering property tax and raising sales tax (regressive taxation) and Grover Norquist likes him. He's here primarily to offset Cruz and appeal to Hispanic voters. He also rates 98.67% from the American Conservative Union.

Donald Trump has proposed American Muslims carry special ID and be included in a special terrorist database. He has had Muslims and blacks thrown out of his rallies. he comes across as over the top and ridiculous, but people who lived through the 30s are scared of him. He has the potential to run on his own and garner enough votes.

Any one of these is going to return us to a recession quagmire with money evaporating out the top. Any one of them is going to impose a Christian version of Sharia Law while railing against trhe Muslim one.

There are two main Democratic choices,.

Hilary Clinton is a Status Quo democrat. She'll continue the Business as Usual  position we've had from Obama, probably with some more window dressing to make us think there is progress happening. But in the end, she is another corporate shill. We've known this since 92. She may have to get us into a war to prove she's tough enough to play in the all-boys' clubhouse. The tiptoeing toward fascism and corporate feudalism will continue. She is being funded by private prisons. She is for raising the minimum wage.Strongly opposed to privatizing Social security.

100% from NARAL, CAF, APHA
96% from NAACP
89% from HRC
85% from AFL-CIO
82% from NEA
60% from ACLU
0% from Christian Coaltion

Bernie Sanders is a progressive democratic socialist. His positions are that the US is a first country and should be acting like it: universal health care, universal higher education. His trade policies are protectionist, in the interest of bringing American manufacturing jobs back. His trade voting record is mixed. I've heard him say it's a bad thing that we aren't innovating. All the innovation is being done in other countries, with better educated populations, the building is being done in countries with slave labor and we're just being end-users of the tech. He's for raising the minimum wage and seems to understand that the dollar is a fiat currency. He's against private prisons. Strongly opposed privatizing Social Security.

100% rating from NARAL, CAF (Council for Alternative Fuel), APHA (American public health Association), AFL-CIO and HRC,
97% from NAACP,
93% from ACLU
83% from the NEA
And 7% from the Christian Coalition. (probably for supporting Israel)

And for those of us who are queer, who have queer kids and have daughters, keeping our rights is important, Not one Republican thinks I have the right to be myself. They want to destroy education, the safety net, and any hope of not living on canned catfood in my Golden Years.  Some of them are using the same language: Don't Sell to Gays, Identify the Muslims, as has always been used when a falling democracy starts looking for scapegoats,

It's a bad time, friends and neighbors and things will be ugly this next 11 months,.

Friday, January 8, 2016

Promo: Huntress by Alexandra Christian

Alexandra Christian is a fine writer, and I am pleased to have her here today,showing off her new work.  Go forth and read. She's always a good bet and this one looks spicy!

Alexandra Christian is an author of paranormal romance, dark fantasy and horror. A self-proclaimed “Southern Belle from Hell,” Lexxx is a native South Carolinian who lives with a ghost hunter and an epileptic wiener dog. She has published several novels, novellas and short stories various publishers including Mocha Memoirs Press, Purple Sword Publications, Seventh Star Press, and Ellora’s Cave. She also wears an editor’s hat as A.C. Thompson.  Recently, she’s been conquering the self-publishing world as one half of Little Red Hen Romance.  Lexxx’s long-term aspirations are to one day be a best-selling authoress and part-time pinup girl. Questions, comments and complaints are most welcome at her website:

Every girl dreams of a fairy tale prince.
Thalia is the Huntress, a dragonslayer from a barbarian tribe. But her dreams are haunted by her prince, a dark shadow who whispers delectable taunts in her ears and smells of crushed roses and ash. When she is captured and sacrificed as a symbolic “bride” to the most fearsome dragon she has ever seen, she wants only to escape into the endless dream of death where she and her dark prince can be together forever. 
But princes aren’t always what they seem. And neither are dragons.


She could smell it before they could see it.  The stench of ash and sulfur like the pits of Hell overwhelmed them. “God, how do they sneak up on anyone? They smell like a pile of burning shit,” Markus complained, pulling his tunic over his nose.  Thalia wasn’t listening.  She was too busy watching the sky.  She wanted to see it when it burst through the trees.

Dragons both frightened and fascinated her.  Everything about them was built for the hunt.  Their massive bodies were covered in impenetrable scales, but they could move with an almost feline precision.  Their talons were razor sharp and grooved so that once the prey was caught, escape would be impossible.  They could lock around even the smallest wriggling creature and hold on.  The beating of their wings could create a gale that would level whole villages. Then there was the fire. 

 Dragons were made of it.  It flowed through their veins like blood, making their flesh steam.  Just touching the hide would scald one’s hand, peeling the blackened skin from the bones. A deep breath was all it took, and the flames would spew forth from the beast, burning everything it its path.

“We must draw it away from the villagers, Markus.  Hurry and get everyone inside!  Out of sight and quiet.”  He ran off into the streams of screaming villagers, running to and fro.  The stench of brimstone and sweat was so overwhelming, it burned Thalia’s eyes.  The thick odor of terror was nothing new.  It was everywhere she went and fueled her fury.  She ran toward the western gate.  Her arms ached with the weight of the heavy crossbow.  Many were surprised that she could wield the rustic weapon with any accuracy, but it was the weapon of her father and his father before him.  

The only real problem was that to deliver a kill shot, one had to be standing in the furnace.  A dragon was only vulnerable when he breathed fire.  For a fragment of a second, he would expose his chest, and if one were clever and cunning, one might be able to deliver an arrow between the soft spaces in the scales and pierce its heart.  Otherwise, there was nothing for it but a lucky blow that distracted the wyrm long enough to let you get away.  Despite the rumors of her might, Thalia had never taken the head of a dragon.  It would take one much stronger than herself to slice through the iron ropes of sinew and tissue, much less penetrate the scales.  

Buy Link: 

The final, logical step

So once again, after the Planned Parenthood shooting, we were treated to the Pro-Life's back-and-fill dance of "Yes, we call them murderers and Hitlers and a holocaust, but we don't mean for you to go play River Song and try to kill them!"

Maybe I was sociopathic even in my teens, but it always seemed to me that killing off all the doctors would really be the way to go if they were serious about it. God would understand that they were offering up their soul to save thousands of lives and forgive them. (and my church encouraged young people to become gynecologists and pharmacists for the express purpose of denying women abortions and birth control, thinking to win through attrition)

But I am a science fiction writer, although it's not all shiny things that go FTL in my fiction. And one of my universes is a very dark future. And I swear, I tuned in the following sermon from somewhere deep in the Confederated States.

"How many of you men, sitting here today, have only daughters? It is your wife's perfidy, her sin nature that causes this. The Lord sends sons! 

Women are the weaker vessels, and just as the potter will not keep working with a flawed vessel, but will return it to the clay from which it came, so must we, brothers.

There is one way to end the scourge of abortion in our land. One way, and only one, that God will bless us. We must execute the whores, the seed of Lilith, the rebellious murderesses who kill our sons and brothers.

You cannot let love and sentiment move you, brothers, no more than Abraham did. God commanded him to take his son, his only son Isaac, whom he loved, and sacrifice him. and Abraham obeyed. Who are you to say no? Who are you to protect the harlot Jezebel and all her generation?

Now I know we're talking about your mothers, your sisters, your wives, your daughters. And I know you love them. But they are murderesses! They are harlots. They have murdered your sons, your brothers, you nephews and grandsons. Sacrificed them by silver knife and sucking tube on the altar of Moloch, on the altar of convenience!

Forty percent of them, brothers, four in ten, have killed. And having killed, are more likely to kill again! There are fifty children in our Sunday school this morning. It would be seventy, were the Jezebels you cling to faithful women. 

It is not murder to execute a murderer. Go forth in service to the Lord and to generations yet unborn, Let no woman who has reached double digits live. They are all the spawn of the Great Whore of Revelation. We will end the scourge and God will bless us wither a faithful and obedient generation to create our grandsons.

Let us pray."

Friday, January 1, 2016