USA


Spongy cities are the future   Recently updated !

Los Angeles is an unlikely champion of a new wave of water savvy urban planning. A city most of us think of as all about cars and concrete has introduced more permeable surfaces to soak up water rather than turning it into run off. The change has been so successful that not only was severe flooding avoided during recent extreme rainfall but it will help solve the city’s water supply issues.

https://www.wired.com/story/los-angeles-just-proved-how-spongy-a-city-can-be/


Should Trump be tried for murder?

(Manslaughter would be a more plausible charge, but murder makes a better headline.)

Hydroxychloroquine used to treat Covid 19 killed people. A study has estimated that there were around 17,000 deaths where the drug was involved. With all the overlapping factors of pandemic medicine it’s hard to give a number where it was the primary cause. But there can be little doubt there were people who would have lived if they hadn’t taken it.

So what should be done about all the people promoting it at the time, such as Trump? I’m sure some were out to profit from it, playing stock market games with tragedies. Trump, I think, was primarily stupid, grasping at anything to distract from how badly he was handling the whole situation. I’d still like to see him face some consequences. Maybe this could be added to the 90+ criminal cases, and who knows how many civil ones, that he faces.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2024/jan/12/hydroxychloroquine-covid-increase-chance-death-trump


LA’s garbage fights back

Two of the largest landfill sites serving Los Angeles are suffering underground chemical reactions undermining their stability and releasing toxins and greenhouse gasses. How many more such dumps are pumping out methane, I wonder?

In a comic or a b-movie, the waste stew would have been hit by lightning and become some sort of shambling monster. But real life gives us the rotten egg stink of hydrogen sulphide and the long term horror of climate change.

via bldblg


Nazi Germany had admirers among American religious leaders – and white supremacy fueled their support

Not a surprising conclusion, really. And Britain has no room to be smug, either, given the Daily Mail fawned over Hitler and our dear departed Queen was taught the Nazi salute by her uncle.

https://theconversation.com/nazi-germany-had-admirers-among-american-religious-leaders-and-white-supremacy-fueled-their-support-213635


They want to believe

More on the American ‘UFO whistleblower’, with various people in Washington clamouring for inquiries and revelations. As with all conspiracy theories, I wouldn’t be surprised if there are some interesting revelations to be had- none of which will look like the little grey men the true believers want.

https://www.wired.com/story/ufo-whistleblower-us-congress-investigations/


I don’t argue with people John Brown would have shot

As I kick around plans for a near future story about an independent minded neighbourhood fighting corporate and political corruption, it’s becoming clear that the idealism will need a robust defence. This report on the John Brown Gun Clubs protecting people targeted by the far right in the USA has given me some ideas.

https://www.rollingstone.com/culture/culture-features/john-brown-gun-club-armed-anti-fascist-1234733200/amp/?s=09


(Mushroom) clouds over Vegas

This look back at Las Vegas capitalising on nuclear tests ties in to the theme I’ve got planned for a few model builds this year. I’m going to take the already odd and tense air of the Cold War and give it a dimension slipping twist. The videos will appear on YouTube, and back stories will be on Patreon.


The only video on Trump’s YouTube channel should be his perp walk

It was disappointing to read the YouTube had unblocked Trump’s channel. But if he is arrested next week, it would be cool if someone could hack it and make video of him in handcuffs the only footage on it.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-65000325?at_medium=RSS&at_campaign=KARANGA


Flashback- Time Trumps

As the Trump presidency tumbles down in its final days, I thought you’d like a trip back to a more innocent time, when I wrote this piece of silliness in anticipation of the orange one’s inauguration.

Hopefully, the Biden inauguration will go off without a hitch. But Trump is going to be furious if it gets higher ratings than his. Which is likely, given his efforts to turn it into a racist version of White House Down.

January 20th 2017

It happened just as President elect Donald J Trump went off script whilst swearing his oath of office. A figure appeared from nowhere, gun hand outstretched toward The Donald, finger already pulling the trigger.

She had come from the future, her mission- to kill the President before, on January 25th, he nuked Latvia to prove the country’s Prime Minister wrong and show that his fingers were long enough to press the atomic button.

Even before the bullet had left, she was joined by dozens, maybe hundreds of other assassins. With everything from lasers all the way down to clubs, each of them had come back with a specific mission- eliminate Trump before he could carry out the action that blighted their particular future.

It was one of the lasers, by an almost immeasurable fraction of a second, that got the job done. Which triggered the second wave of temporal assassins. These were dedicated to cutting down Mike Pence before he could institute his plans for homosexual re-education camps and sexuality snooping.

Into the middle of this already confused mess came a pair of twenty-second century Men’s Rights Activists. Angry at the unfair advantages equal wages gave females and the sissification inherent in paternity leave, they had decided to travel back and kill the first female President. Incompetence had shunted them sideways as well as backwards, but they never found that out, as they were burnt to a crisp by one of the many flamethrowers present.

With so many bodies and temporal anomalies overlapping, a critical mass was formed. A gore explosion was followed by collapses in the fourth dimension. Time went crazy.

Washington is now the flickering city, to look at it is to watch a jump cut time-lapse of the city’s past and possible futures. Buildings and people appear and flash away randomly, as the time-line tries to knit itself back together.

The inauguration was ground zero, but the effects have radiated out, and there are pockets of temporal instability all over the world. There are pockets where you can step into the past and pull people and things back. The USA is currently being run by the dream team of Kennedy and Lincoln, snatched up just before their assassinations.

It’s a crazy world, ripe for adventures and wacky hijinks. Annoyingly, I can’t think of any silly stories to tell in it right now.


The attempted coup will be Tweeted

Soon-to-be-former-President Trump is currently failing bigly to overturn the result of the US election. Which is good, because there were times earlier this year when I thought we were living through the prequel to one of my novels.

Sounds of Soldiers was started on November 1st 2008. Whilst not stated explicitly in the story, the back-story was that McCain and Palin won the election, McCain keeled over from the stress, and the (then) worst person imaginable became President of the USA. The culture/civil war that ensued affected the rest of the world, as US troops ran amok in Europe.

Luckily, Obama and Biden won in 2008, and it wasn’t until 2016 that the US got its worst President ever.

Sounds of Soldiers wasn’t finished during NaNoWriMo 2008, as planned. But I wrapped it up in 2009, and published it in 2010. It remains one of my favourites of the books I’ve published, and is available in paperback or for Kindle from Amazon, or- if you don’t want Bezos to get any more money- you can find it on Smashwords and other online book shops.


The mass shooting conspiracy theory script

There’s a script the conspiracy theorists, and gun nuts go through it every time there’s a mass shooting in the US. This article on The Psychology of Conspiracy Theories blog picks it apart.

These days, a mass shooting in the news is basically a guarantee that in the next 24 hours at least 100 different people on the internet are going to use the red paintbrush tool in MS Paint to put meaningful circles around pictures of people’s eyebrows.

I used to regularly argue with a conspiracy theorist in his site’s comment section. I’d investigate his claims, quickly find out how reality disagreed with them, then get accused of being part of the conspiracy for pointing out its flaws.

It was fun, in its own dumb way. But he withdrew from being wrong on the internet, and now the United States has a conspiracy nut as its President.
Conspiracy theories aren’t just amusing stupidity any more, they’ve become weaponised, and they’re being used to create further division (and endanger people such as the students in Florida who are speaking out after they came under fire- their friends were killed- in the latest school shooting).


A Writer’s Life 8 – I tried to warn you about Trump

Well, I tried to warn you about Palin, really. This week, I’ve taken a break from talking about my current work to say a little about Sounds of Soldiers.

Get Sounds of Soldiers-

Global Amazon link

Smashwords

Kobo

Scribd

24 Symbols

Playster


Alternative Facts: Totally True Tales Of Trump

Garth Owen has taken a break from writing about zombies and vampire to start an ongoing side project.

Alternative Facts is an ebook (also available from Smashwords and other stores) and a mailing list of flash fiction, satire and silliness. As long as Donald Trump and co. keep providing inspiration, the mailing list will update weekly, and the new material will be added to the ebook every month. Volume one of the ebook will update until December, then volume two will be published in January 2018. Half the royalties will go to appropriate charities.

You have to buy the book. Donald Trump has signed an executive order saying so.

(You don’t have to buy the book, but it would be lovely, and would help the project along, if you did.)

Trumpy Executive Order courtesy of http://hepwori.github.io/execorder/


Trumpy Bear and the Fire Signs

Coming soon- Alternative Facts: Totally True Tales Of Trump, a constantly updating ebook of flash fiction, commentary and satire inspired by Donald Trump.

Trumpy Bear and his little pal Boo-Bannon had a plan to get themselves all of the pic-a-nic baskets. This time, they would outsmart Ranger Smith, indubitably.

“We will have the best pic-a-nic baskets, the biggest pic-a-nic baskets. I always get the biggest and best pic-a-nic baskets. Everyone says so.” Trumpy told Boo-Bannon.

“Of course you do Trumpy. I’m one of the people who always tells you so. I think your plans gonna be swell. Specially if it lets me hurt some folks that don’t look like me. So, how are we gonna get the picnic baskets?”

“Well, that’s where I used my big brain. After all, I am smarter than the average bear. I’m smarter than all the bears. Lots of people say so. I have the biggest brain, and I know lots of words. Like…. words…. and pic-a-nic.”

“The plan Trumpy. What is the plan?”

Trumpy made little pinching movements with his tiny paws, as if he were snatching tiny flies from the air. “The plan. Yes, I have the best plan.”

“What is it?” Boo-Bannon tried to keep his voice down. He had explained the plan to Trumpy in great detail, now he had to wait for it to be repeated as if it was the other bear’s idea.

“The plan. It’s a wonderful plan, the best plan. Now that I have been elected to the Park Rangers’ guidance committee, I have passed a rule that says that all the fire warning signs in the park are ugly. They don’t look good, and believe me, I know looking good. Because they look so bad, and they send such negative messages- I mean, who ever heard of a lit match starting a fire? I certainly haven’t. And lots of people have said that it’s ridiculous, and there’s no evidence for it. So Ranger Smith has to go around taking down all those ugly signs warning good, honest, hard working folks about dangers that don’t really exist. Forest fires are a myth. I think a myth made up by…. made up by….. Chinese restaurant owners! Yes them. Made up by them. To keep good, honest, hard working folks in their homes, phoning out for lasagne.”

Trumpy had forgotten what the plan was supposed to achieve. He would start speaking again soon, but would it be more meandering nonsense, or would he get to the point. “And that’s my plan. It’s a great plan, I came up. And then, and this is the best part of the great plan. Then, while Ranger Smith is collecting all the signs from the far side of the Park, that’s when we shall steal all of the pic-a-nic baskets on this side.”

“You’re a genius Trumpy. Lots of people tell me so.”

So Trumpy and Boo-Bannon walked down the path toward the picnic site. Along the way, they were proud to not the empty poles where all the ‘No Littering’ and fire safety signs had been. Without those pesky regulations around, people would be free to do what they wanted and have better picnic food and enjoy themselves more. Particularly if those people were bears like Trumpy, Boo-Bannon and their friends.

“This is so great, isn’t it Boo. When we’re full of pic-a-nic, we should call on our friend Puty-Tat and help him catch that annoying yellow bird that he’s after. That would be great, so great.”

“That bird is definitely Muslim, or Jewish. But we shouldn’t help Puty too publicly. I’m sure that’s a different brand, and we’re barely getting away with this pop culture reference.”

“That’s what I thought Boo-Bannon. It’s the best idea to let Puty-Tat catch the yellow bird all by himself, that’s a great idea I had. People told me so.”

When the two bears arrived at the picnic site, all the campers screamed and ran away, even the one lighting a barbecue under the sheltering branches of a big pine. Though it meant he had the pick of the picnics, Trumpy wasn’t happy about this. “Where are those losers going? Don’t they know that everyone loves me. They must have been listening to the failed park ranger losers. Sad.”

“I bet they’re all foreigners and Muslims and Jews. We should ban them from entering the park. Even if they’ve got America The Beautiful passes.”

“That’s a great idea. The best idea. I’m so proud of myself for thinking of that idea. If we keep the foreign campers out, we’ll be able to turn our failing National Parks around and make them so successful. We’ll make them succeed bigly. And then all the foreign tourists will want to come and visit our beautiful National Parks and light their fires where they want.” Trumpy said, between shovelling up small portions of food from the nearest hamper with his little paws.

“Do you smell smoke?” Boo-Bannon asked, as they hunted out their second hamper.

“That’s just the smell of the failing National Park. We shall rid this great park of that smell, wash it away, until it smells of lovely antiseptic Chlorine and gasoline. We will knock down the mountains as well, I have decided. Then I won’t have to face stairs any more. Stairs and slopes are a conspiracy by the losers in the park rangers service. Why haven’t they put in lifts and escalators? I would have added lifts and escalators. The best lifts and escalators, with gold plating, and my name on them all.”

“That pine tree is on fire. It must have been started by a Muslim.” Boo-Bannon pointed.

“That is terrible. Terrible. They started it to hurt the good American camper who had set up his barbecue right under that tree. The fire would never have started if he had just been left to get on with cooking his food the way he wanted to.”

“I wonder if the fire will move to other trees, and burn the forest down.”

“Oh there’s no evidence that that has ever happened, and it’s not happening now. But look at all the other trees the foreigners have set fire to. This is why they should be banned from the park. Let’s go back to our cave and plan how to keep those trouble makers out.”

But the fire had spread to encircle the whole picnic site. Trumpy stared at the fire, and declared that it was sad and started by losers, and that he would have made a bigger, much more beautiful fire. Boo-Bannon looked at the flames. He had wanted the forest to burn, but he hadn’t planned on being caught up in the conflagration.

Water plummeted from the sky, drenching Trumpy and Boo-Bannon and quenching the fire. A great wind, and powerful buzzing, was over them now. They looked up, to see Ranger Smith leaning out of the fire-fighting helicopter with a bullhorn. “Look what you nearly did there Trumpy! You could have burnt down the forest, and destroyed your own home. From now on, we shall be keeping all the warning signs up, no matter what you tell us to do.”

“How dare he get us all wet like that. I only let people drench me in Russian hotel rooms. Though that’s a lie, put about by losers and the fake news notice board at the park gate.”

A metal pole, topped with a no littering sign, landed like a javelin right beside Trumpy. Ranger Smith already had another, and was leaning out the side of the helicopter, ready to throw it. “Yoiks! Let’s get out of here Boo-Bannon. We’ll be back, Ranger Smith. You can’t keep us away from the pic-a-nic baskets forever.” Trumpy clasped his hat to his head. His feet ran on air for a moment, then he set off down the path away from the picnic site.

“We’ll be waiting for you, Trumpy. We’ll be waiting.” Ranger Smith said grimly, as he aimed his second sign at the ground just behind Trumpy’s receding furry butt.