Free Stories!

After a couple of months of dithering, I’ve finally got around to putting a couple of my stories back online.  You’re free to read them, or not.  They’re released under a Creative Commons license, which means you’re free to spread them around as much as you like (the world needs to know of my creative genius!).  If you do spread them around, though, you must make sure I’m still listed as the author.  Also, you’re not allowed to change them in any way, make any derivative works from them (no movies or plays or what-not), or make any profit off of them in any way.  Not without my express permission first, at least.

So, here they are:

  • First, "Little Fluffy Wiggletoes" is back online, by popular demand.  And by popular, I mean my wife wanted to read it again.  Enjoy this little story of a fluffy little friendly bunny which I have not even tried to get published.  Children and people who think bunnies are cute and could never harbor an unkind thought should back away slowly.
  • And, second, I’m putting up "Four Ways of Counting Blackbirds".  This was a considered decision; while I think it’s a very good piece, it’s also quite short, and I’m pretty sure that even if I sold it to a grand publication like The New Yorker, I just wouldn’t get very much for it.  So rather than let it languish in low-paid obscurity, I’ve decided to let it go free.

Enjoy them.  I had fun writing them, so I hope you have fun reading them.

Updated to add:  If you enjoyed these stories, even a little bit, I’d appreciate a little pointer to them from your own blog, if you have one.  Thanks.

Amazing! Einstein's theory raises possibility of Humans from other universes de-stabilizing

Evil Einstein!Einstein’s theory raises possibility of Humans from other universes de-stabilizing Earth into violence.

Seriously, though, this is probably one of the most amazing examples of an expert’s name being abused to support some crank’s pet theory that I’ve ever seen.  As far as I know, Einstein said very little, if anything, about the probability of "other dimensions" or alternate universes; the idea hasn’t been taken very seriously in science for very long, and is mostly a theoretical framework for understanding certain elements of quantum theory than a notion that physicists will seriously follow up on.  Einstein did not dabble in quantum theory.

And the idea of "mirror universes" with evil twins of ourselves who want to wreak havoc in our dimension is pure science fiction.  I mean come on; can you even for a moment conceive of the notion of a universe where Bush is a competent president?  Someone decided to write up a wacky theory about why things are so screwy here on Earth, and borrowed Einstein’s name to add a ring of authenticity to it.

The Furry Grim Reaper

Death CatJennifer found this story:  Cat Plays Furry Grim Reaper at Nursing Home.

The cat, who goes by the name Oscar, seems to have an uncanny ability to predict within a few hours when one of the patients in the nursing home is going to die; he is so accurate that staff members will actually call the family of a patient that Oscar has curled up with, knowing that the patient will very likely die soon.  He doesn’t look much like a grim reaper to me; that’s his picture to the left.

It’s kind of sweet in a way, if somewhat disturbing.  If I were living out my last days in such a nursing home, and dying uncomfortably, it might be nice to have a cat to cuddle up with.  On the other hand, getting a visit from the Cat of Death is probably never a comforting thing.

Squirrel Wars: Dispatches

Gun totin' squirrel

Our new neighborhood is a hotbed of squirrel activity.  Whenever I look out the window of my office I can see them clambering all over the trees, running in the streets, scampering over our neighbors’ rooftops, taunting the cats.  When I go outside, they chitter and chatter at me, chewing me out.  They may look cute, but I know their darker designs.

Indeed, it seems that one of their latest strategies involves lulling us into a false sense of security:

However, these overtures should not be seen as anything more than sheer duplicity; their attacks are coming just as strong as ever, and there are hints that they’re beginning to employ biological warfare.  To wit:

So, they’ve engaged in a program of defoliation as well as biological warfare.  We should all be worried.

Of course, the staple of the squirrel arsenal is their attacks on our power lines.  I can only assume these are some sort of suicide attack, because the squirrels are usually electrocuted in the process.  There have been two such attacks lately, in very different parts of the world:

Fortunately, some people are fighting back; for example, Iranian police seized and brought into custody fourteen squirrels accused of international espionage.

Finally, a band calling itself the Squirrel Nut Zippers has chosen to reunite to provide us all with musical inspiration during these dark times.  Good for them!  Naming themselves after our rodent foe displays a daring defiance and determination which we should all try to emulate.

There is still much to do, though.  When will America wake up?  The odds of being inconvenienced by a squirrel attack are nearly one in fourteen million.  Constant vigilance is key.  Keep an eye out for squirrels acting strangely.  And if you suspect that any of your friends, neighbors, or loved ones are displaying any squirrely tendencies, I urge you to report them to the authorities right away.

Game still on squirrels.  America will never surrender!

The End of Batboy?

It’s been all over the blogosphere that the Weekly World News is shutting down in August.  It’s a shame; when I was in high school, my friend Barry and I would stop by the grocery store and pick up a copy on the way to the bus stop, and snicker over the stories which we knew some people were accepting as true.  And now, it’s folding.

I think there’s more to this story, though.  Bob Greenberger, an editor at the WWN, wrote Friday on his blog:

Friday morning, Jeff Rovin comes in for a meeting and then the staff was to be called in. He’s looking harried, not at all relaxed. At 11:30, we’re finally shown into an office where we are told the Board of Directors has chosen to close Weekly World News. The reasons given make no sense. We’re stunned and shell-shocked. We’re to stay on through August 3, finishing the reprint issues and then we’re done. A glorious, funny, odd publication, born in 1979, will go out with a whimper and all I can think is that something’s going on that they’re not telling us because it just doesn’t make sense.

Did you catch that?  "…it just doesn’t make sense."  What this reminds me of, more than anything, is when Art Bell "retired" (for the first time) in 1998, sparking speculation that government agents had threatened him and forced him to retire (the truth — that he was taking time off to resolve some legal issues — was much more mundane, but as I recall Bell did nothing to defuse the initial speculation).

I’m betting that this thing with the Weekly World News shutting down is a publicity stunt.  In true WWN fashion, I predict that they’ll be back and running within a few months, with a story that the government had forced them to shut down because they knew too much about how the aliens were working with Bigfoot to cover up the Kennedy assassination and how that tied in to the imminent arrival of the arch-angel Gabriel along with seven secret prophecies of Nostradamus that prove that the earth will end next Tuesday.

But, then, I’ve been wrong before…

Harry Potter, Anarchist

As anyone who has grabbed a stick and shouted "Lumos!" knows, the Harry Potter books are infallible guides to casting magical spells and to Dark Magic, and are thus rightly feared by the Religious Right.  But in addition to the magic which kids learn from reading the books (and the more dangerous notions that kids should be thinking for themselves, learning loyalty and bravery, and so on), there lurks yet another theme which should be considered just as dangerous, but which I’ve yet to see addressed in any of the anti-Potter literature.

I’m speaking, naturally, of the revolutionary anti-government positions advocated by Harry Potter and his gang of anarchists.

More beneath the fold (just to avoid any potential spoilers).

Continue reading Harry Potter, Anarchist