Outland Exile Captures Pinnacle Award for Science Fiction

26 April 2017

National Association of Book Entrepreneurs (NABE) announced today its selections for their Pinnacle awards of 2017

See the Original Award

Outland Exile; Book One of Old Men and Infidels was named a best book in Science Fiction

I will try to avoid this going to my head but that should not prevent you all from shouting it from the rooftops!

Book Two is well on its way. I have done the first round of edits with the Indigo River editor.

“Questioning Islam” by Townsend– A Review

The blind spot of the West in regards to Islam has been going on since the rise of the Muslim invaders in the 7th century. Muslims attacked and captured Jerusalem from the Byzantines even while they debated whether they were, in reality, a new cult of Christianity. There is little doubt that the ambivalence and uncertainty of the West have served Islam well in its many military campaigns over the last 1400 years.
Peter Townsend is attempting to arm us, protecting us from the misinformation and disinformation which have plagued our political institutions, most recently, from the fall of the last caliphate in Istanbul over a century ago. The Ottomans fell, probably more of a century-long dwindle, when the sultan retreated from the path demanded by the prophet: conquer until all submit.
Questioning Islam is a valuable tool in the education of the culture. Townsend, rather than engaging in a polemic for the West, examines the claims and the basic documents of the Muslim faith itself. Without reference to other belief systems he looks at what teachings are basic to Islam and how the Muslim believer formulates his world view.
It is not pretty. The Qur’an is held out to be the faithful as the very words of the creator deity, pure and “perfect in (its Arabic) language,” complete in its conceit and execution, and unsullied in its transmission. However, despite an empire-wide effort to burn all deviant copies in the eighth century, the fundamental document of Islam is revealed to be a hodge-podge of plagiarized sentiments (primarily Jewish), self-serving and convenient “revelations” to benefit only Mohammad in his venereal pursuits, and a high degree of plain old-fashioned bloody-mindedness. It is enough to make an Arab blush and apparently did. There are multiple examples where the companions of Mohammad wished to reduce, or at least limit, the rapine only to be urged back into the carnage by Mohammad.
Rather than being in the “purest Arabic” there are many words taken from the patois of seventh-century trade. Some words are completely indecipherable, yet supposedly sent from God via Mohammad as the end and culmination of all wisdom. Whole sections are known to be missing due to the dietary indiscretions of a family goat. Instead of being the highest form of literature the Qur’an amounts to a rag-tag assemblage of political and self-serving edicts. It documents not so much eternal verities as it does the rise of Islam from a despised minority, requesting tolerance, to a military Ponzi scheme demanding submission or blood.
The hadiths, i.e. traditions, providing the basic framework of what is now Islam, are obviously critical in understanding the faith. It is an inconvenient fact that none of the hadiths were written down within two hundred years of Mohammad’s death. Moreover by that time, the great schism had occurred, dividing Islam into the Sunni and Shi’a traditions. Hadiths conflict with each other both with and without each community. Mohammad, held out to be a “perfect example of conduct,” can only be glimpsed via these hadiths and what is shows of him is grasping, vacillating, and sanguinary religious tyrant.
Questioning Islam is extensively documented, with long passages from the original documents reproduced within the endnotes. Author Townsend has done a remarkable job in organizing a difficult subject topically. This leads to some redundancies which may, at time, strike readers are being overdone. Despite that, it is a very fast read. This should be required reading for anyone who is exposed to Islam. Today, that includes us all.

“Bully”: the New “Nazi”- All the Rant and Half the Content

Bullying

The use of the term bullying” has increased in the USA by over 3-fold since 1990 (Google nGram to 2008 the last year listed). No doubt this is due to a real uncovering of previously concealed activity.

No doubt.

But, come on, folks!

Bullying has now become degraded to mean just about anything.

Like Nazi, fascist, racist, misogynist, conservative, alt-anything, fake-whatever, and ‘low-down-mean,’ the word has become to mean merely: “I don’t like you.”

The last ten years, a time hallmarked in America by the triumph of political correctness, safe-places, adult coloring books, micro-aggressions, shrieking professors calling for death in the name of life, and blocking political speech in the name of the freedom of political speech, have seen people embrace “bullying” as an iron-clad way of castigating those of whom it disapproves.

It used to have a meaning: “Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.” https://www.stopbullying.gov

That definition specified two things: 1) youth and/or powerlessness, 2) abuse of power.

How has the term been morphed?

Bullying used to be abuse of the weak (physically) by the strong (physically) specifically in an educational situation. The strong were usually the stupid, socially inept, and frustrated. The weak were anyone who could be made a victim.

Now, it may mean mere words: people being physically assaulted by others because their words were labelled “verbal assaults.” No, no hypocrisy there! Heaven forbid. Even, virtual words, arrangements of electrons, as evanescent as the wind, are blamed for a child committing suicide, salving, no doubt, the realization of failure by a parent and society which has shoveled isolation, alienation, and lack of consolation upon the child; distant sentiments of mere acquaintances becoming more real to the victim than immediate love and acceptance.

It does not hold together. Our new concept of bullying is incorrect.

We have all been littler, weaker, smaller, slower, more alone, and less aware of consequences than some other. All of us, even bullies, have been potential, if not actual, victims.

It is how we respond to that threat, real or imagined, which is a central part of our path from childhood to adulthood.

We may, seeing the immediate success of our own humiliation, embrace bullying when we can do so to our own benefit. It is reported that 90% of schoolyard bullies have been victims themselves. (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2008/aug/29/bullying.schools)

We may, seeing the injustice of it, step-in to prevent it. (I have a few stories about that, some remembered bruises and a broken tooth, but that at another time.)

We may, seeing that weakness and righteousness inevitably coincide at times, attempt to change the dynamic: might does not always make right. We call that attempt “government.” It has been a dubious experiment.

We may, in our selfishness, merely build up our defenses, stand behind the bulwarks of strength, age, prestige, education, and success, to throw bon mots at the little schoolyard tyrants of our youth and remembered powerlessness. This, I think, the most popular. The schoolyard bully is a favorite object for disdain in literature. In my own experience, I have to admit, I have found it so. The sixteen-year-old boy, cursed with early puberty, a dull wit, and intemperance, who attacked me on the last day of 9th grade (his last day of academic endeavor, as it turned out) after sucker-punching me from behind was himself seized from behind and dragged off, summarily. Very Satisfactory. I have forgotten his name, which is a pity.

So we have, all of us, been the victim or potential victim of bullying. We have all had the chance to bully; some of us, some of the time, have embraced that.

Let’s explore the other aspect of bullying: the abuse of power. This is more difficult. Particularly difficult because in life, we are not equal.

Please don’t. It is tiresome.

But, the truth is just that. We are not equal.

Some of us are employees. Some of us are bosses. Some are wiser. Some are defective in body, spirit, soul or intellect. Some have been elevated to levels of authority.

Get over it.

The fool who rants that their tenth-grade teacher doesn’t like him may have a point, but he has no standing. He can learn or not learn from the teacher and the experience. Ranting will improve neither his education nor the teacher’s affection for him. The boss that alienates the underling will get what he wants: grudging compliance and no more. The great dictator, whether bombastic and amorphous, or short, fat, xenophobic, and a super-annuated adolescent, will both fail in the long run with a greater or lesser body count.

Lastly, what are we to do with the disembodied use of the term for, bullying for situations where neither of the two conditions exist. If anyone is neither a weak victim, and is, in fact, possessed of all the weapons of the other, and is not at the mercy of the other’s authority, can bullying occur? When it is all reduced to words, facts, and ideas, can anything be said to be bullying?

Words, facts, and ideas are not equal. Words have meanings, qualities, and can be related to each other by sentiments and logic.

A family member, currently suffering from Post-Trump-Progressive-Psychosis (PTPP) made a statement: “Conservatives are selfish.” Turns out that is kind of a lie. Self-identified (doncha love that non-useful term?) liberals GIVE THEIR OWN MONEY AWAY far, far, LESS than those terribly selfish conservatives (based on IRS data, which with Lois Lerner still on the loose should tell you something). And the CONSERVATIVES give away money voluntarily. Just to put it into perspective, the great philanthropist, ex-VPUSA Joseph Biden (D-DE) and his wife (a childhood schoolmate, as it happens) donated to charity $627, for the BOTH of them for TWO years total (2008), working out to less than $15/month (or two venti lattes on the Starbuck Coffee Standard).

In contrast, progressives are touted as generous for using the absolute, and potentially brutal, power of the state to coerce payment from OTHER PEOPLE to fund their charity.

When did blackmail become synonymous with charity?

Socialism, as my fam-mem finally admitted to embracing, was preferable to capitalism, also because “capitalists are selfish.” I asked her who was more selfish: Man A, who risked his own money with no possible chance of recovery, hired people, and paid those people his money, on the chance, that he would make a profit OR the Man B, who demanded that Man A pay (on threat of imprisonment or worse) Man B to make him appear to give the unemployed what they had never earned and thus allow Man B to remain in power? If A has his way, his workers will make money; he might make money. If B has his way, A will lose money and his workers may become unemployed. Non-workers make no money beyond that stripped from the bones of A’s business. B is confirmed in his folly and to his political subpremacy.

As Margaret Thatcher observed, “Socialism works wonderfully until you run out of other people’s money.”

My fam-mem would not answer with anything other than insults and shortly accused me of bullying her.

By most standards, the woman in her eighth decade, is, intelligent, accomplished, and self-sufficient. While she is older, and for many years was larger, faster, more clever, and rather more diabolical than I, she has never been, and certainly is not now, in my power (where is a D-minor organ chord when you need one?) In her advanced years, she has taken to waving the red flag of socialism and shouting obscenities at public meetings and on Facebook.

I have not seen her in a number of years so any putative bullying on my part, had I wanted to attempt it, must have been accomplished trans-continentally, using mere words, ideas, and logic, one must presume.

Words and ideas are not equal.

Some words, ideas are indeed stupider than others.

Some logic is flawed.

Some ardently held opinions are wrong morally, politically, and rationally.

Those ideas should be ridiculed and those who hold them should be righteously embarrassed for having done so.

No bullying necessary.

[A word of disclaimer: Currently, I am a private contractor, sole proprietor of my own services, and an author. Prior to that, I was an employee. Other than some teenagers I have hired to do yard-work; I have never been an employer. I have been under authority and have had people under authority to me. I, like Will Rogers, belong to no organized political party.

In 2016, for the first time in almost fifty years, I could not hold my nose hard enough to vote for either the Crook, or the Creep. Just so’s you know]

Risk Of “Mass Exodus” Of Doctors From Medicare Looms

In what may be the most significant modification to Medicare since the program began in 1966, on Oct. 15, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the final rule for implementing the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). It dramatically changes how Medicare pays doctors for their services.Does it really matter how doctors get paid? Yes — the success or failure of the new payment system will profoundly influence the future of the U.S. health care system. And while the goals of MACRA are laudable, its implementation carries a number of unknowns and the potential for unintended consequences — for patients and doctors alike.Before MACRA, Medicare used a fee-for-service payment system, reimbursing separately for each individual service provided, without regard to the quality of the care. The new system will reward doctors for providing high-quality, efficient care that leads to better patient outcomes, and penalize those who fail to do so. At least — that’s the idea.MACRA creates two pathways for physician payment. There’s the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS), which will pay doctors based on how they score on a number of performance metrics relative to their peers. The second pathway will reward doctors who participate in Alternative Payment Models (APMs) meant to promote high-quality, cost-efficient care by incentivizing doctors to work together toward a common purpose: improving patient outcomes while eliminating unnecessary spending.This sounds good, but all the emphasis on better quality care comes with a trade-off. To assess the quality of care provided by doctors in the MIPS pathway, the physicians will have to report on a number of measures that many feel do nothing to help them improve the care they provide.Doctors already devote a considerable amount of time reporting on quality measures. A recent analysis found that a typical medical practice currently spends, on average, 785.2 hours a year per physician to track and report quality measures. That’s time away from patient care, and the costs — $40,069 per physician — present a particular hardship for small, independent practices operating on narrow margins. Moreover, three-quarters of the doctors surveyed felt that the measures did nothing to help them improve their careHow much MACRA will add to the already considerable administrative burden on physicians remains to be seen. To its credit, CMS has made some effort to minimize the reporting requirements and has allocated funding to help small practices prepare. Still, the impact will likely be substantial.The ultimate — and undeniably laudable — goal of the legislation is to base physician payments on the value of the care patients receive, rather than the volume of services provided. And the Obama administration has set a rather aggressive timeline of tying half of all Medicare payments to value through APMs by 2018.But a cloud lingers over that optimistic horizon: APMs have yet to fulfill their promise.Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), the best known type of APM, accept responsibility for the total costs of care for their patients. If the providers in an ACO can reduce health care spending below an established benchmark, while maintaining quality of care, they can share in the savings. If spending is above the benchmark, they are on the hook for the excess. But after four years, ACOs still haven’t generated the savings that many had hoped for.This is cause for real concern. If faced with increased reporting and administrative burdens, declining reimbursements and new payment arrangements that put their income at risk, many doctors – especially independent practitioners – may feel that they simply can’t afford to participate in Medicare any more. One recent survey of physicians found nearly 40-percent expect a “mass exodus” from Medicare over MACRA. Given the predicted shortage of doctors over the next decade and an aging population, this would be disastrous.MACRA’s goal — to create a payment system that promotes better quality of care for patients and spends taxpayer money wisely — is sound. However, the necessary infrastructure to achieve that goal — meaningful quality measures and viable APMs — is not yet in place.If MACRA is implemented according to the arbitrary timeline set by the administration, it could force doctors to abandon private practice for salaried positions or leave practice altogether — neither of which would be good for patient care. So, yes, we all should care how doctors get paid.Right.is Submitted by John O’Shea via Liezette.com

Source: Risk Of “Mass Exodus” Of Doctors From Medicare Looms

Only the Wounded May Heal

“ONLY THE WOUNDED MAY HEAL”–Speaker, of the Scorch
As it happens, I put this into the mouth of a plant in the third novel.

Sort of a plant, of course, is Speaker.

It is ambivalent. How else would a part lichen (a symbiosis of fungus and algae to start with) and a man, speak?

He has lost his country, his life, his name and most of his speech by the time he is discovered by the boy who will grow up to be Jesse Johnstone.

Does Speaker mean you have to be wounded yourself to be a healer?

Does he mean that without a wound that there is nothing to heal?

Does he mean that the entrance exam to becoming a healer is a wound?