Feeding the Active Writer

Every once in a while I get back to doing one of these.

This is relatively low carb but it is not a low fat or low calorie item.

Oh, wow, that was good.

Cheesy Garlic Cauliflower Bake (take 2).

  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 2 cups grated cheddar cheese
  • 2 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Thyme
  • 1/2 tsp ground pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 2 lb cauliflower chopped into small florets.
  • 1/4 cup chopped nuts (I used walnuts for this, but basically because that’s what I had handy)
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese.

Preheat oven to 350
Grease a 2 quart casserole dish.

In a saucepan heat the heavy cream to near boiling.
Add in the cheese, garlic powder, thyme and pepper.
Stir until cheese is melted.

Put the cauliflower into the casserole dish.
Top with the chopped onion.
Pour the cheese mixture over the cauliflower spreading it so everything is covered.

Top with the nuts and parmesan.

Bake at 350 for 40 minutes.

Let cool a bit before serving.



“And Rome Fell.”

Over on FaceBook I saw this:


There’s another meme floating around with Cicero complaining about things the then Roman Republic was doing with the tagline “And Rome Fell”.



First, there was nothing sudden about the fall of the Roman Empire.  The Western Roman Empire had been in decline for quite some time before Roman Emperor Romulus was overthrown by Odoacer ending the Western Roman Empire in 476 AD.  The Eastern Roman Empire, which we have come to call the Byzantine Empire (but was Roman to its people) lasted nearly another thousand years (1453 AD).

Consider only the Western Empire at the moment, not considering that “Rome” as an empire continued in the East.  Pressure due to the military threat various Germanic tribes were posing, a threat that was increased because Germanic Leaders included those Roman trained from Rome’s long policy of hiring Germanic troops to defend the borders–easier to pay them than to fight them (the danger of that approach has been immortalized in Kipling’s poem “Dane-Geld“) led to the abandonment of Britain in 406 AD.  One of the main causes of the pressure is Germanic tribes basically fleeing the Huns coming out of Asia.  In 410 AD, the Visigoths penetrated into the Roman Empire and sacked Rome.  Rome recovered partially from that but faced continued pressure from the Germanic tribes:  Franks, Visigoths, and Ostragoths.  Then the Vandals swept through Spain, across North Africa, and then up across the Mediterranean to sack Rome a second time in 455 AD.  And then, finally, Flavius Odoacer, a Roman trained Germanic Leader overthrew the last Western Roman Emperor Romulus in 476 AD.  66 years from the retreat from Britain to the final end of the Western Roman Empire.  Hardly “suddenly.”

This doesn’t even go into the centuries of internal issues that left it weakened to these external threats.

Now, there is some comparison to what was going on then to what is going on now, but I suspect the meme maker would be horrified at the comparison.  A particularly vicious group of “barbarians” had other, not quite so strong barbarians fleeing before them, refugees if you will, who fled until they ran up against the Roman Empire.  Some were accepted into the Roman Empire, hired as auxiliaries and used to defend the Empire.  Other’s just settled in the border provinces.  And the ones brought in learned Roman technology, Roman military tactics, and Roman discipline and then turned that on the Roman Empire overthrowing it to establish their own kingdoms on its carcass.

As for the Cicero bit that gets bandied about (sorry, I don’t have an image to show the exact wording), note those dates involved.  Cicero was assassinated in 43 BC.  The Roman Empire in some form lasted nearly another 1500 years after that.  The Roman Empire lasted longer after Cicero penned those complaints than most historic empires last from founding to fall.

So, please, stop with the stupid comparisons to Rome.  While there may be parallels, if experience is any guide they’re almost certainly not the ones you are making.  And none of them and none of them point to an immediate crisis indicating the imminent fall of the American Republic.  Other things may point to that (or not), but not comparisons to Rome.


A snippet: The Beasts of Trevanta

From the in-progress sequel to The Hordes of Chanakra:

Movement in a partially burned building caught Kaila’s eye.  She pivoted.  A leg, clad in tattered rags, the foot bare passed behind a half-collapsed wall.

Kaila frowned remembering the man in the warehouse.  Was this what the people of Trevanta were reduced to?  Rats in human form scurrying among the ruins?

Kaila continued moving into the city in the direction she remembered for Merchant’s Row.  A glance at the sky showed that her path took her near none of the plumes of smoke.

A part of her mind reminded her that venturing alone into the city like this was the height of foolishness but she shoved it down ruthlessly.


Kaila jerked up short at the sound of the scream.  Her head pivoted to face the direction from which it had come.  Without conscioius thought she found herself sprinting.

The scream came again.  There.  On the other side of a low wall.  Kaila leaped.  Her hands clasped the top of the wall.  Her legs swung up, hooking.  And then, with a push, she was squatting on the wall, looking down its other side.

Kaila’s eyes widened.  In a corner she saw huddled a child, scarcely more than ten or twelve years old, hugging a smaller child to…her?  Kaila thought it was a girl.  Kaila caught her breath.  Kaila had never before seen a creature like the one that menaced the children.

The creature stood on two legs, about the size of a rather short man, its posture hunched.  A long pink whiplike tail hung from its back.  Despite that, Kaila could almost imagine it was a man until she saw its head.

The head sat on a short neck between heavy shoulders.  The face pulled forward into a pointed snout.  Long teeth protruded from its upper jaw overlapping its lower lip.  Rounded ears sat high on the creatures head.

The creature’s eyes flicked from the children to Kaila, then back to the children.  Kaila could see the creature considering, thinking.  It lifted its left hand in which it held a short, stabbing spear.  Neither steel nor even chipped stone tipped that spear, but a length of jagged bone, no less deadly for all of that.

The creature reached a decision.  Its eyes focused on the children.  It crouched to spring.

Kaila sprang from the top of the wall to land between the creature and the two children.  She drew her sword.

The creature lunged, stabbing with the spear.  Kaila deflected the spear and, with quick twist of her wrist, slashed her sword across the creature’s throat.

The creature dropped its spear and clutched with both hands at its spurting neck.  It sank the the ground.  The spurting weakened, then ceased.

Kaila lowered her sword and turned to the two children.

“Are you well?  Did that…” Kaila thought for a moment then came up with a word. “…kinmar harm you?”

Kinmar. “Half man” in the old Aeriochi language.  The label seemed to fit.

The girl shook her head.

Kaila crouched, bringing her eyes closer to a level with the girl. “Are you alone?  Where are your people?”

“The…the beast men, they stolen us away.” The girl squeezed the child in front of her. “Erek an’ me.  We runs.  And then Rat Face, he chases us.  And…”

Kaila smiled. “Do you know where your people are?”

The girl pointed, a vague gesture in the direction of the city’s main gate.

Kaila looked up.  Another plume of smoke had arisen almost on a straight line between where she stood and the main gate.  She looked back to the girl.

“I don’t know if I can get you back to your people,” Kaila said, “but I will try.  For the nonce, come with me and I will see you safe.”

The smaller child turned its head from the concealing folds of the girl’s clothes.  Kaila saw a round face, caked with dirt except where tears had left muddy rivulets down the cheeks.

“I will see you safe,” Kaila said, her voice as soft as she could make it. “I swear it by the Twins.”

The girl pointed past Kaila’s shoulder. “Lady!”

Kaila whirled.  Before she had half finished her turn pain bit deep into her right thigh.  She glanced down to see a spear protruding from her thigh.  Releasing her right hand from her sword, she reached down and jerked the spear free.  Blood poured down her leg, not enough to be quickly fatal, but she would have to deal with it and soon.  She tossed the spear aside, noting as she did so the discoloration on the bone point.  Another thing to deal with later.

From the buildings across the street more of the half-beast creatures, the kinmar, poured.  One of them threw another spear which Kaila deflected.

“Stay close behind me,” Kaila told the two children.  And when I tell you, flee.” Kaila jerked her head in the direction of a narrow alley.

Her senses hyperaware, Kaila felt the children follow her direction.  She deflected another spear, this one with an iron point.

Kaila counted twelve of the kinmar.  They spread out along the street, flanking her.  Most were armed with crude spears, some with bone points, some merely sharpened wood.  One, with a face reminiscent of a fox, carried half a dozen spears bundled under one arm.  He selected one and threw it at her.  Kaila could easily have sidestepped, but mindful of the children behind her, she licked out with her sword and swatted the spear aside.

Kaila took a step back.  A thirteenth kinmar emerged from the building opposite her, this one larger than the others, with a heavy-jowled snout reminiscent of a mastiff.  This one carried not a spear, but a sword, the long straight sword popular in Shendar.  The mastiff also carried a shield, or most of one.  Some previous battle had sheared the top third of the shield away.

The mastiff pointed Kaila’s way.

“Kill them!” The Shendi tongue sounded harsh from the mastiff throat.

Fox threw another spear which Kaila deflected.  The others charged.

One of the kinmar, rat faced, ran faster than the others and met Kaila’s sword-point for his trouble.  Kaila stepped back again putting herself into the entryway of the alley.

“Kill them!” Mastiff growled again.

Another rat leaped over the body of his fallen compatriot.  Kaila swung her sword, the tip slashing across the rat’s midsection, spilling guts onto the ground.

The remaining kinmar crowded close, each striving to outdo the others in their efforts to reach her.  For a moment, they blocked the entrance to the alley.  She could not see Fox and his remaining spears.

“Now,” Kaila shouted. “Flee.”

Kaila thrust twice, into the eye of the nearest kinmar, and the throat of the next, then turned and ran.

A day that will live in infamy.

No, not that one.  I’m talking about December 7, 1972, the day the last of the Apollo Lunar missions launched.

After five successful missions, and one that failed but which nevertheless safely returned its three astronauts to Earth, the seventh and last Apollo Lunar mission, Apollo 17, took off at 12:33 AM EST on December 7, 1972.

This was the last time, to date, that humans have ventured beyond low earth orbit.

Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmidt (a scientist replacement for the original choice Joe Engle) rode a fire in the sky to the Moon.  Cernan and Schmidt landed on the Moon at 2:55 PM EST on December 11.  Three days later, on December 14th at 5:26 PM EST they left the Moon.

Before entering the Lunar Module for the last time, Cernan said:

I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just [say] what I believe history will record. That America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.

On December 19th the crew returned to Earth.

And no one has been back since.

And that is truly infamous.  We stood poised at the edge of the greatest adventure mankind has ever faced.

And we turned our backs on it.

“You owe to society…”

Saw somebody making that claim.  Yep.  Here we go again.

There is a certain element that uses the “you owe to society” or worse the “social contract” to claim obligations on you that you had no say in.

One might argue that there are certain responsibilities.  Most of those responsibilities are negative in nature:  Don’t hurt other people.  Don’t take what other people own.  Essentially, don’t infringe on other people’s rights.

And even a pretty strongly libertarian leaning individual such as myself can recognize that a certain amount of “law and order” actually improves my liberty.  As I have noted elsewhere, being able to get up on my roof with a rifle to defend my home from ruffians is liberty.  Having to spend all my time on that roof because the ruffians are so ubiquitous that I don’t dare do anything else is not.  So having a police force that through deterrence and administering at least theoretically impartial justice to keep those ruffians in check improves my liberty.  I can come down from the roof and go shopping, or playing in the park with my children.

And nobody has been able to demonstrate a scalable method of creating that “law and order”, one that will work on any but the tiniest of societies for long, without the use of coercive force.  The problem, of course, is that once you start using coercive force in a society for the purpose of increasing the net liberty of that society, there’s always the temptation to increase the use of that force.  And there are plenty who are more than willing to give in to that temptation.  It’s a constant battle to prune back the uses, one that is generally unpopular and so doomed to ultimate failure.  So the use of force increases from liberty to overstructure to tyranny until something happens to light a fire under people to make the efforts necessary to prune back government and restore at least a semblance of liberty.

So even when one accepts that ironically some use of coercive force is necessary to maintain a civilized, and free, society, (and, yes, I know that some argue that it’s not–that’s a discussion for another day) one nevertheless must cast a jaundiced eye at increases of that force.

That’s where the advocates of “social contract”and “you owe society…” come in.  They say that because we have police helping to keep crime down so I can come down from that roof, that we have fire departments so that I have less worry that a fire at my neighbor’s house will also burn down my property, that we have courts so that interpersonal disputes don’t turn into generations long blood feuds with the collateral damage they bring, that we have roads so that travel and trade are easier, that we have a military so some foreign power cannot come and take it all away…that because we have all that I have an obligation, a contractual one, to provide whatever it is that person wants provided.

The fact that I pay for that police and fire service, that I pay for those courts, that I pay for those roads and that military isn’t enough to fulfill the contract.  Oh, no.  It’s not enough.

It’s never enough.

The problem with “social contract” and “you owe society” is that they’re open ended.  No matter how much stuff you decide to “pay” on that contract, there’s always something else.

No, I am not obligated to pay for your social program because I use roads.  I paid for the roads in the first place.  That is the sole extent of my “obligation” for use of the roads.  Yes, it’s nice to have police keeping at least a partial check on crime.  I paid for those police.  Obligation for that ends there.  The same for the other.

The fact that I “make use of” or benefit from something that I. paid. for. (or a portion of according to law as it was written) does not obligate me to anything else.

If you want to sell me on why I should pay for something you want, sell it on its own merits.  Don’t hand me a line about “social contract” or “owing” because of things I’ve already paid for.


Friends Don’t Care

The subject keeps coming up about people making a big deal about this, that or what other thing one should care so hard about.

I don’t care.

I don’t care who you sleep with, singly or in groups, or with no one, provided that everyone involved is a consenting adult.  I don’t care what gods or goddesses you worship, or none again, provided you don’t try to use force (including government force) to impose your religious beliefs on me.

And, frankly, my friend Michael Z. Williamson said it well in this essay from 2001 (used with permission):

Friends Don’t Care

by Michael Z. Williamson
July 4, 2001

I can be your best friend.

Not because I care, but because I don’t.

I don’t care what church, if any, you go to. I don’t care if you are Church of God, Church of Christ, Church of God in Christ, Church of Christ reformed, Church of Christ Scientist, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Byzantine Catholic, Roman Catholic, Jewish Congregationalist, Hindu, Shinto, Islamic, Buddhist, Greek Orthodox, Native American, Irish Druidic, Scandinavian Druidhe, Pagan, Wiccan…Hell, I don’t care if you worship the Great Pumpkin. Or no deity at all. How you spend your Sundays, Saturdays, Fridays, Tuesday evenings, full Moons, or eclipses is up to you.

I don’t care if you have sex with men, women, both, or neither. If it’s in private, and they are freely consenting adults, it’s your business. I may not like it myself, but I don’t care about you.

I don’t care what brand of beer you drink or not, if you drink wine or not, liquor or not. I don’t care if you brew your own, grow your own or roll your own. I don’t care if you smoke dope, rope, or nightshade. It’s your body, poison it any way you wish. Just keep the residue in your own home, okay?

Vegetarian? Okay. Vegan? Great. Rare steak only, or raw rattlesnake? Cool. Squid with the tentacles still wiggling? Suits me just fine. 

Are you skinny? Fat? Ugly? Overdressed? Underdressed? Naked? Hey, it’s your life, do what you wish. If I don’t like it, I won’t watch.

I am a politician’s worst nightmare. I can’t be made to hate, I can’t be panicked by the strange, and I’ll react ungraciously to attempts to inspire me so. I vote on issues, not on smokescreens, and no Orwellian pigs in suits need apply.

I’m not part of a vast conspiracy to put Candidate X into office–Candidate X is an idiot, and so is Candidate Y. I voted for the Manchurian Candidate myself, because I don’t care. I don’t belong to the Hate Group of the Month Club on the Evening news, because I don’t care. How can you possibly think I have anything in common with them?

Oh, right. I own guns. So do they. I’ll bet a bunch of them read Doctor Seuss growing up, too, as did I. I don’t see how that’s relevant, either.

So that’s it. Power scares you. And by not being a pawn, by being able to think, and by daring to think differently from you, I scare you. Well, relax, because I don’t care.

Read the papers of the country, or for that matter, the world. You’ll find me right there defending the unpopular in letters to the editor, in marches, in protests and sit-ins. I don’t care so damned much that I’ll go far out of my way to prove it. When your oppressors refuse to believe I don’t care, I’m willing to reinforce the point…WITH force. 

The only actions of yours I care about are those that actually affect me. Try to rape my wife, and you die. Try to assault me, and you die. Touch my children…Well, then you’ll die slowly, as a lesson to others.

Try to take my guns away, or send someone else to do so…well, then I care. Keep in mind–they protect you, too. The people who DO care about silly details of your life DO have guns, whether you call them extremists, fanatics, cults, militias, or Federal Agents. It’s easy to hate a name, isn’t it? I’d hate the names, too, if it would make any difference, but it doesn’t. Hateful people hide everywhere, and I don’t care. Only when they ACT on that hate do I become aroused. By acting on hate, they interfere with my ability not to care. And that just ruins my whole day. Sometimes it takes the threat of force to prove I don’t care. That’s why I have the guns.

Why would you want to take my guns away, knowing I don’t care? I’m no threat. I’m your best friend. I don’t even care if THEY have guns. I don’t even care if YOU have a gun. I care even less if you don’t like ME having a gun.

So do me a favor and don’t come to my door asking me to turn over my tools of reason.

Because I don’t care who interferes with my right to not care. 

And neither do my guns.

Copyright 2001 by Michael Z. Williamson. Permission is granted to copy in whole for non-profit purposes, provided due credit is given. Please inform the author directly via his site Michael Z. Williamson or through http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com when you do. Mr. Williamson’s online archive is found here: http://www.KeepAndBearArms.com/Williamson.

In the Spirit of the Season (an Annual Tradition)

An annual tradition:

If you’re an Atheist or Agnostic who doesn’t like “Merry Christmas.”
If you’re a Christian who doesn’t like “Happy Holidays.”
If you’re a Jew who doesn’t like “Blessed be.”
If you’re a Wiccan who doesn’t like “God Be with you.”
If you’re a Muslim who doesn’t like “Gud Yule” or “May Thor hold his hammer between you and harm.”

I have one thing to say to you: Grow. Up. Take these things in the spirit they are offered, one of well wishing, and leave it at that. And on that note, may I wish you a very merry Christmas and may Thor hold his hammer between you and harm.

Gud Yule, everyone.

“It can’t happen here” A Blast from the Past

The irony of the same people who once told me that there’s no need to arm against a government turned tyrannical because it would never–never, ever, ever–do so and that the magical powers of Democracy would ensure that it never did now screaming that Trump is the new Hitler is delicious. (Never mind that if Trump is trying to be Hitler, he’s doing it wrong.)

And even with their cries of “new Hitler” these same people still swear up and down that it’s okay to give the government still more power over people’s lives because, “that will never happen here”.  Cognitive Dissonance is a real thing.

But I’ve written before on the subject of “It can’t happen here.” Nothing really needs to be changed about it except what I’ve written earlier this year about depriving people of their property without due process of law, Civil Asset Forfeiture.

Note that this was originally written in 2015, before the current administration, when people were oh, so sure that “It couldn’t happen here.”

The Second Amendment is Obsolete, some say.  The idea that the United States could ever turn tyrannical is pure paranoia, some say.

Well, let’s look at that. Rounding up people and sending them to concentration camps (whether called “reservations” or “relocation centers”). Check. (Treatment of Native Americans.  Japanese-American “Relocation Centers” during World War II).

Illegal medical experiments involving infecting people with diseases, not treating them, and observing the effects done on people without their knowledge or consent. Check. (Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment–and particularly interesting how that was “explained” to the victims as they were getting free health care from the US Government.)

Arbitrary searches of American citizens’ households aimed at the seizure of property without either probable cause or any kind of warrant. Check. (post-Katrina gun Confiscation)

Laws passed allowing the indefinite detention of American Citizens without due process of law. Check. (NDAA 2012)

American citizens going about their daily business being stopped and searched again without probable cause or any kind of warrant (or even the “reasonably articulable suspicion” for a “Terry Stop”). Check. (TSA, not just at Airports, but at bus terminalsrail and subway terminalshighways, even High School Proms.)

“Can’t happen here?” It has and is happening here.

Tell me again how the Second Amendment is obsolete since it’s not needed to defend against tyranny.

But “Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

Yet, still, “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”

Addendum Chicago police are instructed to shoot people for obeying the law. Background:  Illinois, the last state in the Union with no provision for legal handgun carry for self defense, had its “no carry” law struck down and was given a timeframe in which to come up with some kind of carry law before the existing law went away entirely.  So, Illinois now has provision for concealed carry.  But the Chicago police Chief vowed to train his officers to shoot people obeying that law.

Addendum 2 EPA exposes people, without informed consent, to high levels of toxic chemicals to track the effects.