My Dad isn’t here to spend Father’s Day with me. He died on May 6th, at the age of 94. This past Tuesday, we buried him in his native North Carolina mountains, after a funeral at which I delivered the eulogy. So, in honor of Father’s Day, here’s what I decided to tell people about my Dad:
That’s me on the blanket. My father is the one who’s obviously old enough to be my father.
The topic of today’s lecture is Snell’s Law. Snell’s Law describes the relationship between the angle of incidence of a light wave as it passes through a transparent medium, and the resulting refraction of that light. Which is a fancy way of telling you why sunlight looks different when you see it from the bottom of a swimming pool–because the light comes through water and twists and bends before you see it. Which is another way of saying that the way things look depends an awful lot on what you’ve come through before you see them.
Col. Charles Edwin Wilson Sr., US Air Force Retired, Physicist, Engineer, Teacher and researcher… my Daddy… came through a lot. And it definitely shaped how things looked to him.
My mother, my sister Susan and me (the one in the highchair), discussing Proust’s influence on literature, circa 1966.
Yesterday was my mother’s 90th birthday. I had intended to dust off a biography I’d written of her about eight years ago, and share parts of that. It was written for our local newspaper in Yancey County, NC, and it celebrated the 20th Anniversary of a scholarship she and my father had established. That scholarship encouraged County high school graduates to study what we now call the STEM fields.
As I tried to re-work it, that article just seemed too dry and cold to describe my mother. She’s a pretty amazing person, and a list of career accomplishments doesn’t really sum her up. So I decided to start from scratch, which brings me in a day after her 90th birthday. But, hey, a 90th birthday should be celebrated for more than a day anyway, shouldn’t it?
My mother was born Elizabeth Evelyn Briggs on December 7th, 1926. Back then, it wasn’t Pearl Harbor Day. That attack happened on her 15th birthday. Her family called her Evelyn. Most of her aunts, uncles and cousins actually didn’t realize her first name was “Elizabeth.”
I wrote this article on pelvic pain a while back, and was waiting for the right time to share. Since I missed International Men’s Day this past Saturday, now seemed like the time.
Because I’m tired of seeing a walnut here.
Prudery and Squeamishness are two things I don’t have much patience with.
Okay, I’m squeamish about having things touch my eyes, and snakes still make my skin tingle. I don’t care to look at open, oozing wounds or dismembered bodies. Or most of the photos on Internet ads captioned, “Do this one weird thing to get healthy!” That’s what I would call normal, healthy squeamishness. We should be uncomfortable with things that could be dangerous or harmful.
But being so uncomfortable about the parts of our bodies that go inside our underwear, to the point that we don’t know about or receive the health care we need, is just plain stupid. And it grows not only out of childhood prejudice that boobs and butts, ding dongs and hoohas are “gross,” it grows out of the repressed, anti-sexual prudery brought to us by the Brits who had the biggest influence over our nation’s culture from the beginning, and haven’t let go yet.
Donald Trump is the Anti-Christ. If he is elected, America is over.
Hillary Clinton is the only other option. If you do not vote for Hillary, America is over.
I do not agree with either of these points, but, for a few hundred words, let’s live in a world where they are gospel truth, divinely revealed, handed down from the mount, and, of course, thoroughly fact-checked and proved bullshit-free.
While it astounds me that American citizens would complacently accept such a reality (addressed in my post here), it is the narrative for about half of us, it seems.
So I have to ask, if Hillary Clinton really is the competent candidate I’m told she is; if the Democratic Party really is the friend to The People that it claims to be; if Trump’s nomination really is proof that the GOP has lost cohesion and isn’t going to be with us in any form we recognize…
Then why isn’t our one candidate trying to adapt and make herself more palatable to the entire electorate? Why run an adaptation of Bernie Sanders’s socialist-inspired platform, munged with W. Bush’s imperialist agenda, at such a time? Why make extremism our only option?
Recently, at New York Comic Con, prolific author Peter David was asked a question about Romani representation in comics. As he explains on his own blog, the question triggered in him a memory of seeing a deformed child while visiting Romania, and being told that that child was deliberately deformed by the parents. By Peter’s own admission, the painful memory caused him to lose his temper with the questioner. He has apologized, and that apology I know was sincere, because I know Peter.
I’ve known Peter David for almost 30 years. We’re not best friends. We don’t call each other every week, or even make a point of having dinner when we’re at the same con. But we’ve done countless panels together, I’ve acted in plays he’s written, our families hang out together, and, more, we’re part of a very old network of Star Trek fans and creators whose number is shrinking. That’s a kind of family tie for a lot of us. Peter is a talented author, an opinionated curmudgeon, and an obviously loving and committed father and grandfather. The idea of a child being hurt clearly has a powerful impact on him.
I wrote this piece prior to the release of Donald Trump’s coarse remarks, made while he thought his mic was off, revealing his base attitudes towards women. I’m not a bit shocked by his remarks, because I knew that this was exactly the kind of person he was. But I understand that, for a lot of people, these remarks were the last straw. They serve as a wake-up call, making people realize that this guy just should not even be allowed to run for the office of President. I’ve re-read and tweaked my piece. I still believe in what I said, because, again, I always saw Trump as a misogynist asshole. The stakes are higher now, though, because the revelation of Trump’s “sins” was timed in just such a way as to discredit his candidacy after it was too late for the GOP to recover.
You cannot condemn Donald Trump’s selection as the GOP Nominee and embrace the two-party system as it exists in the US.
That is, you can’t if you want to be honest and consistent in your political philosophy.
As many of you know, I ran not one, but TWO Kickstarter campaigns this Spring. The first was for Sacrifice Play, my latest Arbiter Chronicles novel. The second was for Elsewhere in the Middle of Eternity, an anthology of speculative fiction tales edited by my friend and colleague, Phil Giunta. A lot of incredible people put their money behind these two books, and I’m very, very pleased to share their names:
I’ve been silent for a LOOOONNGGG time, I’m aware. Lots has happened, including being part of the Ellicott City Flood last month–both as a survivor of the flood itself and as part of the recovery team, in a small way.
But mostly I’ve been knocking myself out getting an unabridged audio version of Sacrifice Play ready to go. This will be released first to my amazing Kickstarter supporters, then via Audible, and, finally, on the Prometheus Radio Theatre podccast.
All twelve chapters are done, with the exception of about a dozen “pickup” lines. That means someone’s reading of a line either wasn’t quite what I needed, or that it somehow didn’t get recorded at all during out many sessions. As of this moment three chapters are completely finished, and nine await final audio mastering and insertion of pickups. I wanted you to hear what we’ve accomplished, if only to hold you over until the whole thing is released. Here’s Chapter One!
So, it’s not like an official anniversary or anything. I kinda missed that. But the public first heard of my characters from The Arbiter Chronicles back in October, 2000–15 years and a half a year or so ago, when we performed my first radio drama at Farpoint.
Taken Liberty, my first Arbiters novel, premiered just ten years ago, officially in March, 2006. A few months ahead of that, the Prometheus Radio Theatre podcast premiered in the Fall of 2005.
I try to keep an open mind about different world views. That just seems reasonable to me. Like the five blind men and the elephant, we each see a different piece of the truth. It would be a bit silly for me to stand here, screaming “I have scientific proof that an elephant is just like a snake!” while I hold its trunk and you hold its ear, and neither of us sees the whole animal. It would be just awful if I then added that you are evil and a threat to our society because you were part of the “elephant-is-like-a-carpet” set, and thus a snake-denier.
Yet that’s just the kind of thing that’s happening right now in the United States, as a loudmouth, a gold digger and a senile idealist walk into a primary. (God, I wish that was the opening to a joke! If it is, the joke is on the American people.) People are just being nasty to each other.