2014 – An American Coup (Not!)

One of the horrible things about Covid was that we were forced to confront the reality that humans are just awful contrary asses who would rather swim in a bilge of conspiracy theory, than act or think rationally.  And no, this is not an attack on Trump Supporters or Covidiots, as moronic and fascistic as those jerks are. This time, we’re seeing it in Russia’s war on the Ukraine, wherein people who really should know better on both the right and left are embarrassing themselves.

I bring you THE LIE OF THE DAY: The US engineered a coup in Ukraine in 2014, overthrowing a legitimately elected President, and thus setting in motion the events leading up to today. So it turns out the current situation is all America’s fault.

The chain of logic to get from here to there is sort of like that of the underwear gnomes.  If you haven’t heard of it, the Underwear Gnomes scheme is as follows:  1) Collect Underwear;  2) ——;  3) PROFIT!!!   I wouldn’t have thought that would be convincing, but a lot of people have bought into it.

This lie is premised on a very important assumption:  That the Ukrainian people are sheep, or perhaps automatons, they have no will, no ideas, no wishes of their own. Their opinions don’t matter. They are simply mindless pawns without agency, seduced and abused by the ‘Evil Americans’ / NATO / The International Monetary Fund & World Bank / ‘teh West!’ George Soros or whatever the villain du jour is in populist or leftist circles. Honest to god, it’s so arrogant and condescending that if it was spoken about an African or Latin American or Asian nation, it would be racist as hell. But whatever, if it’s one thing that populists and leftists have in common, it’s that Ukrainians are mindless brutes without an opinion of their own.

Except for Donbass. Apparently, some form of Agency is allowed for the Brave Donbass People’s Republic, bravely forging and ethnically cleansing their new micro-state with only a little help from the Russian Army. The rulers of Donbass are allowed to have opinions, but not the rest of the Ukrainians.  I’d like to call this sarcasm, but golly gee, nope, that’s just what they think. Go figure.

I’m going to advance a revolutionary proposition.

The Ukrainian people kicked Yanukovych out in 2014 all by themselves.  It was their choice. Not the Americans, not some vague international conspiracy.  It was them.

Now to explain this, I’m going to have to take a little dive into recent Ukrainians history, just to talk about how Ukrainian politics works, and who this guy Yanukovych was, and how he managed to get himself kicked out of the country.

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War is Hell(ish) Expensive!

All right, here we are in the midst of another bit of humanity’s ugliness.  Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

And once again, the stupid is on the rise. Let me deal with it and make sure I offend everyone, then we’ll get on to the real discussion.

First of all, all this appeasement talk? Stupid, this isn’t WWII. No fly zone? Stupid idea, unless you want a thermonuclear war. What about the Palestinians? It’s been 80 years, not even the rest of the Arab states care about the Palestinians – heartbreaking but true. What about the US invasion of Iraq? That was wrong then, it doesn’t make Russia right now. This war is really NATO / the EU / the IMF / the US fault? Nope, sorry, that’s particularly stupid. That’s about all the time that stuff is worth.

Now, let’s get down to the reality on the ground.

Russia is 146 million people, GDP of 1.7 trillion making it the twelfth largest economy in the world, behind Italy, Canada and South Korea, spends 60 billion a year on the military which places it fourth or fifth place, after the US, China, Saudi Arabia, India, and puts it just barely ahead of the UK, France, Germany, South Korea.

The Ukraine is 44 million people, GDP of half a trillion, it spends five billion.

So it looks like a big swat. Classic case of a big powerful country picking up a small country and throwing it at the wall hard to teach it a lesson.  We’ve seen it before:  The US in Iraq. Saudi Arabia on Yemen. Israel on Lebanon. The Russians on Crimea. Israel on Hamas. US in Afghanistan. Russia in Afghanistan. The US on Iraq before. Everybody on Syria. China on Vietnam The US on Vietnam. Russians against Angola and Ethiopia and Somalia. Americans against Central America. It always ends in tears. Why should this be any different.

Well, it is and it isn’t.

Because here’s the thing that people aren’t paying attention to.

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2021 – My Writers Year in Review

Well, so much for 2021. I thought I’d step back and take stock, do a year in review in terms of my career as a writer, or as an attempted writer.

The Bottom line:

All titles collected, I sold almost a thousand books this year, and legitimately made more money as a writer than I’ve ever done in my life. I released three new books this year: LEXX Unauthorized, Little Blue Marble; Axis of Andes and New World War. I had two more books almost ready to go, but couldn’t quite get the right artwork for the cover. In terms of unpublished new work wrote another novel and several short stories. Published a story in Wild Hunt Press’s anthology, Duel of the Monsters. Altogether, I think I wrote about half a million words.

I was recognized and certified as an Artist for purposes of Canada Council and Manitoba Arts Council, which will allow me to apply for grants. I did three Workshops for the Manitoba Writers Guild and appeared on or presented panels for Keycon, When Words Collide and three panels for World Fantasy Convention Montreal, including a reading. Less successfully, I pitched a couple of novels to over fifty agents and a few publishers, no takers, but maybe a couple of nibbles.

All in all I think I can say I worked pretty hard at being a writer, all the while keeping the day job going. Is this bragging? I dunno. I remember something the late Lex Gigeroff said to me. “That’s a lot of work to put into such a mediocre career.”

I keep bashing my head against the wall, I’m not sure there’s a future in it. But I keep plugging away. You take your small victories when and where you can.

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Frankenstein vs the Ape!

Hey, that’s me at the bottom!

Welcome to Wild Hunt Press’s Duel of the Monsters, Volume 2.  Chris Nigro, the publisher of Wild Hunt invited me to contribute.

The rules were:

  1. They had to be recognized monsters – Frankenstein’s, Vampires, Wendigo, Sea Serpents, Krakens, Sasquatch, Grizzly, Lizard men, known to folklore, movies, television etc.
  2. They had to fight!
  3. There had to be a definite Winner!

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WFC Montreal – Panels and Reading

Howdy Neighbors.

World Fantasy Convention 2021 – is coming up in Montreal, Quebec. And guess what?  I’m part of the programming. This year, I’m doing two panels and a reading at the Convention

Possession is 9/10ths of The Law – Thursday – November 4, 2021

“Ownership is a Storytelling Battle. My story of ownership versus your story of attachment.” (99% podcast) – Can you possess (own, trademark, copyright, etc.) story plots that give you the sole right to a setting, a type of character or even a name? We know the answer is no (or is it?). So how do you stake your claim. What happens when estates get involved, and how do you IP the fantastic? Who does the law side with? Who gets the book? Who gets the Revenue?

Moderator – Mary G. Thompson. Participants – Den Valdron, Leo Vallquette, Louise Herring-Jones, J.R.H. Lawless .

St. Laurent 7-8 Hybrid – in person and online.

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Law in Fantasy and Why it Matters – Friday – November 5, 2021 – 4:00 pm.

Law drives a world as much as economy, religion and magic systems. But how does law affect fantasy worlds, and in what ways do we see that presence in these worlds. Panelists explore how the legal systems in speculative fiction worlds shape everything the characters do and how to make and identify conscious choices in legal system world building.

Moderator – Louise Herring Jones.  Participants – Den Valdron, Louise Herring-Jones, Ian McKinley, Su J Sokol. 

St.Laurent 7-8 Hybrid – in person and online.

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Den Valdron, Reading Live and In person – Saturday, November 6, 2021 –  11:30 am

Yep it’s me! I’ve got half an hour to entertain people with a reading, and I promise you, the fun never stops. Maybe I’ll read a smashing section from my current work – Empress of Asylum, a light hearted romp. Or maybe a bit from The Luck, a fantasy noir about an Orc on a quest. Or a dive into alternate history with Axis of Andes. Could be X-rated or family friendly.  Afterwards, a Q&A.

Outrement Room

 

Carpay again

Well, back on August 20, 2021, I wrote about Alberta lawyer, John Carpay, and the way he wiped his ass with the very concept of integrity.

Basically, he hired a private detective to stalk a Manitoba Judge on a case that he’d brought to Court.

You can go back and look, I wrote about it and it’s well documented, but essentially, a bunch of  churches had decided that trying to fight a worldwide pandemic in Manitoba was interfering with their freedoms, or possibly with their cash flow, so they chugged out some conspiracy theories and recruited a ‘charity’ the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms, run by Carpay, known for ‘asshole lawsuits’ on behalf of people wanting questionable license plates like ‘grabher’ or ‘assimil8.’

So the case is over, the good guys won. The Churches lost their lawsuit on behalf of a pandemic. They had their day in Court, they lead their evidence, it was unpersuasive and unconvincing. I suppose there’ll be an appeal, because they have a shitload of money. So it goes.

John Carpay was fired from the Justice Center for Constitutional Freedoms. Or as it turns out, he was just suspended. Or on a leave of absence.

It turns out he’s been quietly reinstated after seven weeks.  Good for him.

Because apparently dogs like to lick their own vomit.

Jesus H. Christ. An ethical breach the size of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic, and they reinstated him. I have trouble getting my head around that.

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What if Donald Trump had been born middle class?

I mean sure, it’s easy to be a billionaire when you inherit a billion dollar fortune.

But let’s do a little experiment.  Let’s ask ourselves if Donald Trump had not been born into fame and fortune, if he hadn’t been a millionaire by the age of two and a half, if he had been required to make his own way in life, without the gigantic advantages.  Would he have been another Jeff Bezos or William Gates? Or would he have been just a regular guy?

Let’s assume that this alternate Trump, born to the middle class, had the same personality and personal qualities? Donald Trump is barely literate, a poor reader, almost no impulse control, full of manic impulses, lazy, loses interest, perpetually narcissistic and selfish, engaged in self aggrandizement, unwilling or unable to learn from mistakes, This isn’t an attack. It’s not flattering, but these are all traits that he has exhibited, and are the benchmarks of his erratic business career.

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Lorina Stephens and her DREAMS OF THE MOON

I met Lorina Stephens a few years ago, back when she was the driving force behind Five River’s Publishing, one of the most dynamic of the Canadian small presses.  On top of that, she’s a freelance journalist for national and regional print media, been a festival organizer, publicist, lecturer on many historical topics from textiles to domestic technologies, teaches, and and artist. I’ve always been impressed by her razor sharp mind, her sharp wit, keen judgment and the fundamental human decency which has shaped her outlook.  So of course, I was thrilled to discover that she’s a talented and delightful writer of books and stories as well.  Her novels include Shadow Song (2008), From Mountains of Ice (2009), Caliban (2018) and The Rose Guardian (2019). I am honoured and thrilled to be able to have her as a guest on my blog to celebrate her second collection of short stories, Dreams of the Moon.

The last collection of short stories I published was in 2008. It’s an eclectic mix which I entitled And the Angels Sang, named for the lead story. To my delight, it’s met with quite a bit of positive reaction from both readers and reviewers.

In the ensuing years, I’ve crafted a number of other short stories in between operating a publishing house and all the demands of being an administrator in our other business, one which pays the bills. A lot has happened during that time: our son married his life-buddy, three major surgeries, a failed attempt at elder care, renovating this old stone house which was built c1847, and as I write this, into the second year of a global pandemic.

And somewhere in all that still writing, still exploring ideas and what-ifs. I do have to admit a reluctance to writing short fiction. The literary form seems so restrictive to me, perhaps more having to do with the fact I have too much to say and want to make an epic out of everything. But short story writing is good discipline.

Having said that, I’m giving you 10 short works of fiction in this collection, spanning the boundaries of science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magic realism and absurd fantastica. Apparently, I don’t much like writing in just one genre, either. Creative fences drive me batshit crazy, although I do very much appreciate fences around this sanctuary we are privileged to call home. But there is a theme to this collection, a common thread I think you will find through all the stories. What it is, I will leave up to you to decipher, and thus we will have a silent communication.

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John Carpay, you’re a disgrace

Mostly this is a writing blog. But occasionally I write about other things.  It seems to me that if I’ve got this plaform and I’m paying for it, I should get to have a few opinions.  Today’s opinion is about John Carpay, a disgrace to the practice of law.

Why do I feel the need to call out a second rate Alberta lawyer who I’ve never met?

Well, I’ll tell you. Every writer needs a day job. I’m a lawyer. And I’m not going to be flippant here.  I believe in it. I believe in something called Justice. In law school, my fellow students laughed at me, but I was a believe. I believed in the social contract, I believed in our innate duty to be decent, to be moral to each other. I believed that the practice of lawyer was to implement and negotiate that social contract, to help people in need, to help build a better world. It mattered to me. When I became a lawyer, I wore the robes, and I signed my name into the rolls. It was one of the proudest moments of my life, I became an officer of the court. And I believed that this was a noble and honourable calling, that carried with it a duty of integrity and ethics. It has been touchstone of my life.

Every now and then, I run across lawyers who basically wipe their ass on the profession, Dangerfield, a prosecutor who abused his power, Shead a commercial lawyer who helped swindle innocent people. These people offend me. They’re not just bad, they’ve sodomized the integrity of a calling, a cause, a profession I’ve given my life to. They’re abominations to me.

So what did John Carpay do?

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