If so, then Why Tell Stories?

In the comments on an article The Passive Voice linked to about automation and if it is what defines humans from non-human creatures, a discussion got started about what separates humans from other critters, if anything.

I stayed out of it because I have some very, very strong thoughts on that topic but don’t have the philosophy and biology chops to argue my case. When someone begins by saying “humans are no different from other animals…” what follows often tends towards either an anti-people statement, or a justification for something that society frowns on for good reason. I would argue that humans are different because we have souls, because we seek for something greater than we are greater than we can be, but keep searching and striving anyway. Continue reading


Teaching, Schooling, and Coping

The mess/massacre/act of evil at the school in Florida this past week, combined with totally unrelated things at Day Job, poked me to think about education, school, and teaching. I started out in an excellent, Odd, small district, then moved to a public school district that I managed to escape from more-or-less tolerably educated, and now I work at a very small religious school. One of the things that came to mind was the difficulty of students who do not get taught how to cope with their problems. Continue reading

Gentlemen and Ladies

What defines a gentleman and a lady? Peggy Noonan had a few good ideas two weeks ago in her Saturday column in the Wall Street Journal. She was considering the reported actions of an actor and the woman who ended up having serious regrets about not saying “no.” Noonan was too kind: I think the man was a cad. However, since the woman went along with his advances, even though she says that she really did not want to, letch and manipulative bounder will have to suffice, if the man did as reported.

Noonan wanted to know what defines a gentleman. She did not ask the next question: what defines a lady? Continue reading

It Ain’t Necessarily So…

A lot of what I’ve been reading, particularly about medieval and Renaissance history, has been traditional accounts interspersed with “Oh duh, that makes perfect sense” moments of something new. Like corsets can’t have been that horrible or women wouldn’t have bought them by the tens of thousands once they became inexpensive to cheap. Other things are a little less obvious (I mean, look at photos of Victorian and Edwardian street scenes. Duh.) but are still intriguing. Continue reading

Culture and Stress

No, this is not a post about angst in academic places, or the latest museum display fight (I’m sure there is one going on, somewhere.) It is about how culture affects how people react to stresses. Sort of, since I’m not a psychiatrist, or psychologist, and I don’t play one on TV.

What brought this to mind was Peter Grant’s post about the upcoming Robin Hood movie. https://bayourenaissanceman.blogspot.com/2018/01/political-correctness-strikes-again-in.html

Continue reading

Things I learned Downstate…

It is possible, nay probable, to have a headwind no matter which direction you are traveling.

Head colds are no respecter of season or event.

“We are NOT going to have too much food this time” never works out as planned. There was, once again, more food than anticipated, because everyone brought a “little extra just in case.” (Did I mention that my friends all believe in over-preparing?)

Unless the food is a magnificent pot roast, in which case there is never too much. We had just enough, and that was with one person out with the aforementioned head cold. Continue reading

Five Years in Print: Looking Back, Looking Ahead

A Cat Among Dragons hit the electronic stands in the fall of 2012. Since then I’ve released three* other series, four if you count the Alexi stories as a series, and several stand-alone works, plus series-related short stories. I’ve not been as successful as I’d like, but that’s mostly my fault.

So, what have I learned and what has changed? A great deal. Continue reading