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Open Book Blog Hop – 11th October   1 comment

Stevie Turner

Welcome to this week’s blog hop. Today’s topic is ‘What’s on your TBR list?’

This is a scheduled post, as I’m currently away on the Isle of Wight with Sam and his sister and brother-in-law. I will answer any comments on Wednesday when I am back at home. Today is our 41st wedding anniversary as well, and I won’t be reading any of the books on my TBR list as we’ll be out celebrating!

I have many, many books on my Kindle that are in the queue to be read. I like to read memoirs/autobiographies, paranormal fiction and non-fiction, psychological thrillers, anything with a dry wit, and true life/faction family dramas. Here are some of them below. I don’t read much in the summer, as we tend to be away at the van a lot of the time and I prefer to be outside walking and cycling to…

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Posted October 12, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Announcing Latest Book   3 comments

It’s been WAY too long to get to this point, but…

Fount of Wraiths (Daermad Cycle 3, an epic Celtic Fantasy) is available for Preorder on Amazon. You’ll save $5 over the regular price for the ebook if you order before October 26.

The Raven Rises While the Dragon Waits.

Lost, alone, and powerless in the Void, Ryanna must find the postern gate to return to Padraig and the struggle to mend the kingdom. But the Fount of Wraiths holds many unknown dangers and puzzling mysteries.

Padraig’s quest appears to be stalled, but mayhap he waits upon direction and for an ally to catch up. Meanwhile, the Svard build their forces to begin their attack on Celdrya while Gil works to bring in more allies to their cause against an unprepared kingdom.

The One works in mysterious ways, however, as forces marshal from the most unlikely of sources.

Book goes Live, October 26, and also goes to full price.

Posted October 11, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Why Do We Hate This Guy?   17 comments

An Investment in Others

“For [the Kingdom of God] is like a man going on a journey, who summoned his [employees] and entrusted his property to them. To one, he gave five talents (a talent was worth about $25,000, so about $125,000). He gave two talents (about $50,000) to a second employee and to a third employee he gave one talent. He made this dispersal according to each worker’s ability. Then he went on his journey.

The one who received five talents went off right away and put his money to work and gained five more. In the same way, the one who had two talents gained two more. But the third worker who had received one talent went out and dug a hole in the ground to hide his [employer’s] money.

19 After a long time, the [employer of the workers] came and settled his accounts with them. The one who had received the five talents came and brought five more, saying, ‘Sir, you entrusted me with five talents and, see I’ve gained five more (so he now has a quarter-million dollars).

21 [The employer] answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful [employee]! You have been faithful in a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’ 

22 The one with the two talents also came and said, ‘Sir, you entrusted two talents to me. See, I have gained two more.’ (he now has $100,000). His master answered, ‘Well done, good and faithful [employee]! You have been faithful with a few things. I will put you in charge of many things. Enter into the joy of your master.’

24 Then the one who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Sir, I knew that you were a hard man, harvesting where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not scatter seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.’

26 But his [employer] answered, ‘Evil and lazy slave! So you knew that I harvest where I didn’t sow and gather where I didn’t scatter? Then you should have deposited my money with the bankers, and on my return I would have received my money back with interest! Therefore take the talent from him and give it to the one who has 10. For the one who has will be given more, and he will have more than enough. But the one who does not have, even what he has will be taken from him.  Matthew 25:14-29

Two Interpretations

I made a few changes to the text to update the story. There’s two ways to view this story. One is Jesus was talking about spiritual matters. God gives each believer talents and we’re supposed to invest them wisely for His kingdom. If we squander them, we’re wicked and we’ll be tossed out of heaven (this interpretation contradicts other parts of Scripture, by the way).

The other way is to interpret it as an economic tale. A wealthy man has some extra cash and other things to do, so he distributes some investment funds to three employees and then goes about his own business. He doesn’t micromanage them. Two of them understand what he wants — although the story doesn’t detail the conversation, I suspect there either was one or the employees had worked for him long enough to know what he wanted. Two of them got busy making a profit. The third guy, reasoning his employer was an abusive hard-ass, buried his investment seed money in the backyard. Eventually, the employer came back and asked for an accounting. The two entrepreneurs were praised for their industry. It doesn’t appear he asked for the money back (in the end, he gives the one unused talent to the one who “has 10”. Apparently, he’s going to allow them to continue to manage those funds.

Does that sound like an abusive hard-ass? It doesn’t to me. Would you like to work for him? He sounds like a great boss, actually. He invests in his employees, allows them to manage accounts, doesn’t micromanage, and he celebrates their successes with them. He gives them more responsibility when they’ve shown they can handle it.

But the third guy didn’t see it that way. He accused his employee of being abusive and Scrooge-like. You’d think this was a horrible man to work for. Why?

I’m-a Victim-Mentality

Apparently, the socialist assertion of “I’m a victim of the rich man” has been around for time immemorial. Jesus knew about it 2000 years ago. And many of us read this parable and assume the third guy was telling the truth about his employer…ignoring that he had two great interactions with the first two employees. He was generous, he was trusting, he just expected a return on his investment. There’s no real expectations asserted. He would have been happy with bank interest. But the third guy assumed he was not a nice man and so they didn’t have a good interaction. The employer who knew he’d been generous and trusting, was insulted by this man’s false assertion that he was not a good man. “You knew, did you? Well, okay, let me show you the guy you think I am. Get out! Don’t let the gate hit you on the way out.”

It’s hard to blame him. The third employee was pretty ungrateful for what he’d been given.

God Is Not a Cosmic Meany

We can learn multiple things from this parable. It doesn’t require just one interpretation. It’s also important to understand the context in which Jesus told this parable.

Jesus was preaching in a house and just prior to this parable, some men started tearing into the roof to lower a friend on a pallet down to Him because they believed Jesus could heal their friend’s paralysis. Jesus forgave his sins, which might have been a little disappointing to these men who had gone to all this trouble for this man to walk. But the scribes in the crowd were thinking “How dare He pretend He can forgive sins. He’s blaspheming, saying He’s God.” Of course, we know Jesus is God. He was just exercising the authority that was His by right. They were judgmental stone-chuckers. So, Jesus — knowing the hearts of men and reading their thoughts (they never said this aloud) said “Why do you think evil thoughts? Which is easier – to forgive his sins or to heal his legs?”

Let’s be honest. Forgiving sin is mostly invisible. It’s probably the harder thing to do, but it lacks the flash and bang of healing. Most skeptics would think “Uh huh, sure you forgave his sins. Delusional!” Jesus had addressed the paralytic’s bigger problem (sin is always our bigger problem), but just to assure the scribes knew they were thinking evil thoughts, He healed the man. They couldn’t deny what He did when the man picked up his pallet and left the room.

So, it’s interesting that right after this event, Jesus tells a parable about a generous rich man with two entrepreneurial workers and a third who thought he was a victim of a man who had done nothing but good for him.

God is highly generous with those He loves and for those of us who follow Him, there are rarely any regrets. I’ve never met a Christian who at the end of his life looked back and said “I should have been an atheist.” I’m sure a few exist, but I think they’re a minority.

And, yet, there are many people who have misapprehensions about God. They think He’s going to mistreat them. Some of that is the fault of Christians who do mistreat others, but more often than not, it’s simply a mistaken belief — a believe that God is a cosmic meanie and that if they give into Him, He’ll do them harm.

Rich People Can Be Good Guys

Let’s set out at the beginning — there are bad people in this world and some of them invest in businesses for nefarious reasons. Set that aside. They’re the minority. Most investors put money out there to help the business they’re investing in while also gaining a profit for themselves. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. They combine their money with the industry of the investee. A hard-working investee will return a profit, though sometimes circumstances don’t work out. Investors know the risks of providing money to upstart ventures and investees should know that failing at an investment might mean that investor will not be available for the next venture. That’s not being mean. It’s called realism.

We too often destroy our chances in the world because we have an attitude that the world is against us — well, against “the little guy.” We refuse to try because we “know” the world won’t treat us right. “Poor people can’t get ahead.” Even when we meet generous people who are willing to help us, we hold a chip on our shoulder that will not allow us to take advantage of the help offered. “Yeah, I’ll make money, but they’ll make more money.” We self-talk ourselves right out of a beneficial relationship because we’re sure there’s something fishy about any “rich” person willing to risk their money on investing in someone who has less money.

But there are people in our world who look at all investors as evil. “The rich” are the source of every bad thing in society. They’re the reason people are poor. If they didn’t have all that money there’d be more for the rest of us.

For a whole host of economic reasons, this isn’t true. The rich are the job creators in a capitalist society and jobs are the pathway to prosperity. Sitting at home on government benefits is undignified, but it’s also limiting. You are stuck at a certain level of income and you can’t increase it legally (although there are people on government benefits who do engage in illegal activities to increase that limited income). One of the takeaways from the 1990’s Contract with America was that former welfare mothers had higher incomes from their jobs 10 years after they were forced to take jobs rather than sit at home. The wealthy generally create those jobs, either directly by the companies they own or indirectly through investing in smaller companies that then employ workers. Take their money away through taxation and they will create fewer jobs, either by curtailing their own business growth or their investment activities. And, that hurts poor people far more than their accumulation of wealth does.

Should Christians who are wealthy invest more of their spare cash in others? Of course — if indeed they actually have spare cash. One thing you learn if you interview the wealthy is that they often don’t have a lot of spare cash. Their money is invested in the businesses they own — the machinery of production, the buildings, the stock, the vehicles they use to transport that stock, etc. — or in the other businesses they don’t own, but do invest in. That money isn’t liquid. It’s value, not cold hard cash. But, yes, a wealthy person sitting on more than a year’s operating capital should probably consider being more generous with their money. Notice, I didn’t say they should give their money away. It’s a hard truth, but money given is often money wasted. People aren’t even grateful when you give it and they certainly aren’t grateful later when they’re out of money again and want more. Now, money invested and earned — that makes a difference in people’s lives. The rich person’s money mingles with the investee’s industry and creates something of real value.

And that only works if we accept that the rich people aren’t evil and if given the opportunity, can be a force for good in the world. And that’s understanding that in order to have 90 rich investors enriching the world through funding entrepreneurial ventures, you might need to accept 10 rich jerks who hoard their cash.

Posted September 30, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop: Sept 6   Leave a comment

Lines by Leon

Open Book Blog Hop – 6th September - featured image

Welcome to this week’s blog hop. (Thanks, Stevie for the topic.)

Does food play an important part in your writing? How about sharing a favourite recipe of one of your characters, or maybe one of yours?

Food is often mentioned in science fiction, from replicators in Star Trek, to food in pill form, and often yeast farms are mentioned. But there is one movie that I am always reminded of when it comes to food in the future, so when I wrote my post-apocalyptic stories and did a series called Found, which were writings and poems that were discovered in a desolate world, I had to include a reference to it:

  1. Link your blog to this hop.
  2. Notify your following that you are participating in this blog hop.
  3. Promise to visit/leave a comment on all participants’ blogs.
  4. Tweet/or share each person’s blog post. Use #OpenBook when tweeting.
  5. Put a…

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Posted September 8, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – 6th September   Leave a comment

Stevie Turner

Welcome to this week’s blog hop. Today the topic is:

Does food play an important part in your writing? How about sharing a favourite recipe of one of your characters, or maybe one of yours?

Food not only doesn’t play an important part in my writing, unfortunately it also doesn’t play an important part in the rest of my life either. Long, long ago my mother told me there are two types of people; one type who lives to eat, and another type who eats to live. It was imbued in me from an early age that we should eat to live rather than the other way around, and give our stomachs a rest between meals. Neither my mother, her mother, or myself have ever had any interest in food shopping, food preparing, cooking or baking. I don’t remember Mum ever showing me how to bake a cake, but I…

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Posted September 8, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

What About Texas’ Abortion “Ban”?   5 comments

Texas passed a law concerning abortion and it took effect after the US Supreme Court voted 5-4 allowing it to go forward.

Oh, my god, the world is ending! Every woman in the United States will be forced to carry her father’s kid to term and the country will be flooded with unwanted babies.

Says the World

Hyperbole Much?

Texas's Abortion Law Blunder - WSJ

Supporters of legal abortion argued the court’s acceptance of the Texas law represented a de facto end to rights guaranteed in the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision, an attack on personal privacy and an introduction of vigilante justice into the court system

In truth, the Supreme Court rejected the challenge to the law because those who brought the lawsuit didn’t have “standing”–meaning they didn’t have a sufficient interest in the case to file a challenge to the law. The Supreme Court did not, therefore, rule on the merits of the law itself — only one whether the challengers could bring a suit before them. They couldn’t, but what does the law say?

What the Law Says

Texas enacted a six-week limit on abortions. This isn’t a complete outlier. Fourteen states have similar restrictions. In fact, Roe v. Wade limits abortions to the 1st trimester — 12 weeks. In 1973, fetal heartbeat was detectable at about 12 weeks, so the limit made scientific sense. About 25-50% of pregnancies end spontaneously before 12 weeks, so the justices at the time could reason that doctors were just doing what nature does. Today, fetal heartbeat is detectable at about 6-8 weeks, so the Texas legislature can argue there is a detectable organism that is distinct from the mother. Other states limit abortions at eight weeks or less or until fetal heartbeat is detectable.

What is unique in the Texas law is that instead of the State of Texas enforcing the law, anyone can enforce the law and attempts to violate the law, thus sidestepping the federal courts…for now.

The law allows judgments up to $10,000 per person per abortion and it applies to anyone who abets an abortion – the doctor, the nurse, the office receptionist, maybe the person who drives the woman to the abortion clinic. That can add up quickly. It provides ordinary people with both the incentive and the means to harass people who regularly end the lives of unborn children.

The law doesn’t make exceptions for rape or incest, but abortion patients themselves cannot be sued.

The new Texas law potentially affects thousands of women seeking abortions. Precise estimates are difficult. In 2020, Texas facilities performed about 54,000 abortions on residents. More than 45,000 of those occurred at eight weeks of pregnancy or less. Those abortions would still be legal under the new law, if they occurred before cardiac activity was detected. So, it’s unlikely to save the majority of imperiled children– just a minority of them whose mothers ignore their symptoms too long.

What Different Then?

What is unique in the Texas law is that instead of the State of Texas enforcing the law, anyone can enforce the law and attempts to violate the law, thus sidestepping the federal courts…for now.

The law allows judgments up to $10,000 per person per abortion and it applies to anyone who abets an abortion – the doctor, the nurse, the office receptionist, maybe the person who drives the woman to the abortion clinic. That can add up quickly. It provides ordinary people with both the incentive and the means to harass people who regularly end the lives of unborn children.

Texas is one of 14 states with laws either banning abortion entirely or prohibiting it after eight weeks or less of pregnancy. The rest have all been put on hold by courts. Most recently, a court halted a new Arkansas law that would have banned all abortions unless necessary to save the life of the mother in a medical emergency. Other states with blocked laws banning abortions early in pregnancy are Alabama, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee and Utah.

What Happens Next?

The case is still alive in the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Supreme Court’s standing decision doesn’t reinstate any stricken abortion laws in other states. It’s possible the Supreme Court has given other states a roadmap for circumscribing Roe vs. Wade and other Republican lawmakers have taken note.

Arkansas Republican state Sen. Jason Rapert tweeted he planned to file legislation mirroring Texas’ law so the Arkansas Legislature can consider it when it reconvenes this fall. The session agenda has already been limited to congressional redistricting and COVID-19 legislation, so it Rapert may have to wait for next year’s session.

Mississippi Republican state Sen. Chris McDaniel believes most conservative Southern states will consider this an opportunity to move on the later-term abortion issue. Mississippi’s legislature is scheduled to start meeting in January. Meanwhile, the Supreme Court will hear arguments this fall on a 2018 Mississippi law that would ban most abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy — a case that is a direct challenge to Roe v. Wade.

Vigilante Justice?

Some states have already turned to citizens to enforce new laws.

A Missouri law recently took effect allowing citizens to sue local law enforcement agencies whose officers knowingly enforce any federal gun laws. Backed by Republicans concerned over Democratic President Joe Biden’s rhetoric on gun control policy, the law imposes fines of up to $50,000 per occurrence on police and sheriff’s departments can face fines of up to $50,000 per occurrence.

In Kansas, frustration over coronavirus restrictions prompted a law that allows residents to file lawsuits challenging mask mandates and limits on public gatherings imposed by counties. Last month, the Kansas Supreme Court allowed enforcement of the law to proceed while it considers an appeal of a lower court ruling that declared the law unconstitutional.

Utah also took a similar strategy on pornography in 2020, passing a law allowing citizens to sue websites that fail to display a warning about the effects of “obscene materials” on minors. Though adult-entertainment groups warned it was a violation of free speech, many sites complied with the law to avoid the expense of a possible onslaught of legal challenges.

And let’s be honest here – citizens filing their own lawsuits is the backbone of environmental and disability-rights law, Environmental groups, for example, file suits against businesses accused of violating federal pollution permits and then larger actors in the field join them to give the suits more weight in court.

For example, California’s Proposition 65 allows people who may have been exposed to potentially carcinogenic materials to both file their own lawsuits and collect a kind of “bounty” if they win. Those laws are different, though, in that people generally must show they have been directly affected by a violation of the law, a feature missing from the new Texas measure.

What’s Likely to Happen?

Challenges will work their way through the system. It appears this Supreme Court likes to send challenges back to the lower courts until a very significant similar case comes up and then the SCOTUS announces a ruling that encompasses those other cases. At least three of the “conservative” justices on the Court are strong believers in stare decisis – let the decision stand–so they are not likely to overturn Roe v Wade, even though they may personally disagree with the now 50-year-old ruling. However, they might strike a compromise that brings the current practice of abortion back into line with Roe v Wade. Most people today don’t realize that Roe only blocked state abortion restrictions in the first trimester. States have struggled with this ever since — how to deny later-term abortions. Certainly abortion of a child who would be viable if it were born naturally is a violation of the spirit of Roe as well as commonsense and yet it happens all over the country in states that haven’t defined what viability means. Maybe the Supreme Court could settle the question.

The concept of ordinary people being enabled to harass abortion providers (but not abortion patients) is an interesting one. Being accused and ostracized for killing babies might make some providers uncomfortable enough to decide to quit their profession.

My only real issue with the Texas law is that it doesn’t allow exceptions for incest. I’m less concerned with rape because you know you’re at risk for pregnancy after rape and you should be self-testing yourself every week and going for an abortion when you come up positive. Incest victims don’t have those options and are often unable to avail themselves of the services. It does have exceptions for medical necessity.

I also believe strongly that most abortions are sought by women who were careless with contraception. Modern contraception is highly effective and highly accessible. You can get a diaphragm at any family-medicine office for under $250 and a tube of spermicide is available at most grocery stores for under $15. Insurance pays most of the cost of the diaphragm — office visit to device. My insurance will even reimburse the spermicide if I file the right paperwork. A properly fitted diaphragm with liberal use of spermicide has an +95% effectiveness.

My insurance will pay for all of the cost of contraceptive pills (though they only have a 91% effectiveness for preventing pregnancy). Combined with condom usage, both methods are +99% effective. The ACA got exactly two things right — allowing kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26 and covering conception medications and devices. Abortion should be much rarer than it currently is. I suppose women who can’t be bothered to take a pill every day or use a diaphragm every time they have sex can’t be expected to recognize the symptoms of pregnancy. I learned I was pregnant a week and a half weeks after my daughter’s conception, so I was very aware of those early symptoms. I recognized I’d been experiencing them for a week already. Four weeks would have been plenty of time to get an abortion, even though I would have had to travel to Anchorage (about 400 miles) at that time. When I became pregnant with my son, we weren’t planning it. I felt the early symptoms, thought maybe it was a flu bug, missed my period, decided it wasn’t the flu, and I self-tested at four weeks. If I’d wanted an abortion, I would have two weeks to get an abortion.

Women need to take responsibility for their own bodies and most of us miss our first period about two weeks after conception. Some women have less regular periods, but there are other subtle symptoms that should trigger a self-test. And the Texas law would eliminate only 11,000 of 54,000 abortions. Most women know they’re pregnant before six weeks, before there is a fetal heartbeat.

Quit Panicking

Yeah, the Texas law is pretty bold, based on science (heartbeat) and makes a nod toward Roe’s standard of the 1st trimester. The Supreme Court didn’t rule it was constitutional. They simply said the challengers didn’t have standing. It’s possible they will include this case in the Mississippi case when it comes before the Court. Roe has not been struck down. It’s been challenged, asked to make itself clear. That’s not a bad thing. Roe is 50 years old. Science has changed in that time. Maybe it’s time to have a conversation about how a standard ought to adjust to the era. Which doesn’t mean the Supreme Court is infallible. A long ago SCOTUS ruled on Dred Scot v Sandford. That 1857 ruling, like Roe, stood at the intersection of law and politics. And 20 years later, following the most horrific war Americans ever fought, it was overturned. Should Roe be completely overturned? I don’t think so. Should it be modified based on new information? Yes, probably.

Posted September 8, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Daryl Devore’s Blog Hop 8.9.21   Leave a comment

Daryl Devore

Posted August 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – 9th August   1 comment

Stevie Turner

Welcome to this week’s blog hop. Today’s topic is:

Do you have a favourite piece of literature? What is it and why is it your favourite?

I cannot really say I have an actual favourite book. Instead I have several favourites from my younger days that I’ve read over and over again. I’ve always seen books as a kind of comfort, and during stressful times (for example having various surgeries over the years) I tend to reach for stories I’ve known inside out for years. I can quickly lose myself in the familiar words, and the comfort blanket of a well-known book can distract me from any grim reality I’m experiencing at the time. Some people comfort-eat, but I comfort-read. It saves me gaining too many pounds, lol.

That said, here’s a few books I’ve read many times. They can always distract me from something nasty. I enjoy each author’s…

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Posted August 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

A Favorite Piece of Literature #OpenBook Blog Hop   Leave a comment

August 9, 2021 Do you have a favorite piece of literature? What is it and why is it your favorite??   This will be a quick one, because I am on the road and writing from yet another hot…

Source: A Favorite Piece of Literature #OpenBook Blog Hop

Posted August 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

Open Book Blog Hop – A Reader Lives a Thousand Lives   Leave a comment

Steve Smith

Posted August 10, 2021 by aurorawatcherak in Uncategorized

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