Conservation and Environmentalism Part 1

Blogger note: there are a number of books that go into detail about the history of the ideas of environmental management and the divergence between what is now called conservation and modern environmentalism. These posts are just skimming the topic, and I will have a reading list in the last post for those really interested in learning more]

We hear a great deal today (2016) about environmentalism, but not as much about conservation, unless it is of a specific thing, like water conservation, or certain specific applications (the Law of the Conservation of Energy). In some ways, conservation is the older of the two, but you can find the roots of environmentalism going back to the Romantic Movement of the early to mid 1800s. This post is going to cover the period before 1910 or so. Continue reading



For some reason, I just can’t seem to write a story without religion in it. I suspect it comes from two things. First, I’ve studied a lot of religious history so I’m not-quite primed to see it in cultures and events. Second, because of the trend in sci-fi from the 1950s-1980s to omit religion or to make it the bogey-man of corrupting superstition and social control. Religion forms a critical sub-plot in the Elizabeth novels and in the other Colplatschki books to varying degrees. Rada Ni Drako’s conversion to Christianity sets up some of the internal conflicts that explode in the next Cat novel and some of the external conflicts that play a role in the following book. Religious change and an end-times belief drive part of the plots of Renaissance and Hubris. So it should come as no surprise that religion pops up again in the currently-called Rajworld books. Continue reading


“Where have I heard that before?”

I was reading about the discovery of the Wolfcamp oil shale in the Permian Basin, and I freely admit, dancing a little in my chair. I’m a conservationist, not an environmentalist of the current style, and I have no problem with hydraulic fracturing properly done. And anything that cuts into the oil revenue for certain Bad People gets at least a little of my support. But where had I heard the term before? It was one of those little things that nag at you from time to time. Because I kept thinking “Wolfcampian” not Wolfcamp.

The entire eastern lobe is labeled Wolfcamp in most general media depictions.

The entire eastern lobe is labeled Wolfcamp in most general media depictions.

Continue reading

Vaya con Dios, Señor Castro

I’ve been told over and over that one should not gloat. It is unbecoming, unworthy of the proper spirit of magnanimity and humility, and a sign of immaturity.

I’m not gloating. I’m celebrating, just not as much as all the folks in Little Havana and the other Cuban expat communities. I was at the gym, trotting away (or slogging away, since I had the hot-trotter at a 15% incline) and noticed that CNN was running pictures of a bearded dude in o-d green, then what seemed to be street scenes of some kind, then more bearded dude. I don’t wear my glasses in the gym, so I guessed it was something about Cuba, maybe Raul Castro had died? No, nope, it was Fidel himself, as I discovered when I got home and logged on for the first time. Continue reading

Chili Verde, Alma Roja

or Huevos Rancheros 1: Alma 1.

A while ago I had a morning off from work and went to breakfast with Mom and Dad Red. We went to a little bakery/breakfast place in town that has a range of eggy things, like breakfast burritos, huevos rancheros, quiche, and all sorts of sweet buns, scones, empanadas and so on. I had a busy day planned, so I got the huevos rancheros. With green chili. Continue reading

The Cat Christmas Release is Live!

This year’s Cat Among Dragons Christmas release, Three Winter Tails is now available. On special $.99 through November 29.


Faith, Hope, Love—and bar fights.

You’d be hard pressed to find two less-likely individuals than Rada and Yori to represent the greatest virtues, at least if you asked their commanding officers. But the Universe moves in mysterious ways, and sometimes the Spirit of Christmas needs suppressing fire to protect His landing zone.

Three stories, 11,000 words.

Old Hymn in a New Time

“What’s a tare and why would you burn them? What exactly is a harvest home anyway? And why is this stuff still in hymnals, besides the tune being decent?” I suspect more than a few of the younger members of the choir and congregation were wondering that, especially those who come from outside the main-stream Protestant traditions. “Come, Ye Thankful people, Come” is pretty straightforward, but the rest?


A harvest home was the great celebration held on English manors and farms when the last sheaf had been cut and bundled. Everyone who had participated marched to the farm or manor house with the last bit of grain, bringing the harvest home. The farmer or property owner met them and treated them to cider, ale, and a large feast. The crop had been safely gathered in, sorted, and was put away out of the reach of the elements. Continue reading

Music to Write To

I’ve become one of those writers who needs background music, both to help set scene mood and to drown out household noise. Why not just shut the office door? Because a closed door is an Abomination unto Catness and leads to pounding on the door, plaintive meows, and MomRed fussing because I’m being mean to the poor cat . . . And because I need to be able to hear what’s going on in the house, for various reasons. Instrumental music is loud enough to mute other sounds, quiet enough to hear over, and doesn’t distract me the way vocals do. I’m too conditioned to listening for cues after 30+ years of choral and other singing. So what have I been listening to? Continue reading

Book Review: By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean

Cunliffe, Barry. By Steppe, Desert, and Ocean: The Birth of Eurasia (Oxford University Press, 2015) Print and Kindle Editions

As many of my blog readers know, bemoaning the lack of good syntheses is a hobby of mine. We historians churn out monographs by the score, but finding someone who has pulled together a lot of material into a readable, decently illustrated, single book is relatively rare. The best of these are written by authors who have been working in their fields for a considerable period of time, and have collected an enormous amount of material over the years, and have the chops to say, “This is the book I wanted back then, so now I’m going to write it,” and have publishers say “Please, pretty please?” This is one of those books. Continue reading

Happy New Year – Sort-of

Yesterday, Sunday November 20, brought the year to a close. Unless you are Jewish, in which case the greeting is about a month and a half late.

And all my Episcopalian, Roman Catholic, and other “high church” readers are nodding and winking at the confusion.

You see, for those who follow the traditional western liturgical year, in 2017 Christ the King Sunday fell on November 20. It is the last feast of the church year and symbolizes the end of time, when Jesus will return as King of Kings and bring the present world to a close as G-d establishes the New Jerusalem described in the last chapter of the Book of Revelation. Next Sunday, November 27, is the first Sunday of Advent, the four weeks of waiting and anticipation that begin the church year anew. Different way to look at the calendar, isn’t it? Continue reading