Thursday, February 7, 2019

Why Bloggers should Compose Posts on Scrivener

Scrivener? You may be saying. Isn’t that just for novelists and book writers? Why should I use that— pay money for that— when I am just a blogger?

OK, that’s another problem. If you blog, and your blog has more than just pictures or videos— if there are words— You Are a Writer. You may be an unpaid writer, and you may be so insecure that you haven’t adopted the identity of ‘writer’ yet— or you just add ‘not a REAL writer’ — but you are a writer. Deal with it.

Scrivener is a tool that writers use to write their work. You start a Scrivener ‘project’ and you can make any number of folders for chapters and divisions of your work, and under the chapters you have pages called ‘text’ which are often used for the scenes of a fiction chapter.

I use it for my blog. I no longer compose my blog posts while online, using the ‘new post’ thing on my blog. I have a Scrivener project for blogging. I have folders for my individual blogs— there are a few active blogs— and sub-folders for the date range.

Why do I do that? Several reasons. The main one is that blogging is insecure. My very first blog, before I started my Blogger account, was on a blogging service which no longer exists. I’ve had more than one blog on services that no longer exist. Since I have my back blog posts preserved on Scrivener now, if my whole blog went down I could re-create it somewhere else.

I’ve been having a bit of a time with Blogger since I moved my blogging efforts back to that service. I’m wondering how committed Google is to blogger. I’ve been having troubles commenting on other Blogger blogs. Google could discontinue Blogger or turn it into a paid service at any time. 

Also, I’ve heard, also about Blogger, that people have had their whole blog taken down for no reason, by mistake. It’s never happened to anyone I know of, but it could happen. If it happened to me, I wouldn’t lose my posts.

Finally, bloggers are WRITERS. After you have been blogging for a while, you may have enough posts on a certain topic to gather those posts together, make a new Kindle project for them, add more material, and publish it as an e-book or a printed book. 

The down side of Scrivener is that it does cost a little money. Once you have it and get used to using it, you won’t want to do without it. Now, before I first bought Scrivener I downloaded a free Scrivener alternative called YWRiter. That would work to preserve your blog posts as well.

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Is Your KJV Bible Missing Bits?

Writers of all kinds who are culturally literate have most often either read the Bible or at least read books in which phrases from the Bible are quoted. It’s part of being an educated person. 

But as you probably aren’t willing to learn Hebrew, Aramaic and Greek to read the Bible in the original, you will need a translation. And the long-time reigning king of English language Bible translations is the King James Version, called the KJV for short. 

The KJV was also the Bible authorized to be read in Anglican churches in England back in the days you couldn’t safely be anything BUT Anglican in England. So another name for it is Authorized Version, also AV. 

There is a dispute between Catholics and most Protestants, and between the ancient Jews who translated the Septuagint, an ancient Greek-language Bible, and medieval and modern Jews, over which books belong in the Bible. The dispute is over some books that are called Deuterocanonicals or Apocrypha, depending on which side of the dispute you are on. 

These books were included when the first Christian Bible, with both a New Testament and an Old Testament, was compiled. At the time of the Reformation when Protestantism was invented, ‘Reformers’ such as Luther and Calvin grumbled about the Deuterocanonical books. 

But Luther translated them into his German Bible translation all the same, and the King James translators did also. They were only removed later, by the British Bible Society, perhaps because not believing those books belonged in the Bible made it cheaper to print Bibles.

But those parts of the KJV were known for a long time in England, and a lot of the writers we are taught to think of as ‘great’ grew up having these ‘extra’ Bible books read to them at church and at chapel in their schools. 

The missing KJV books are available in a separate volume called ‘The Apocrypha KJV,’ which I used for years until I got a really nice leather-bound complete KJV. There are also paperback KJV Bibles with Apocrypha.

The thing that writers, particularly, need to know about Bible translations is that all the newer, trendier Bible translations are copyrighted works, and you need permission to quote from them. 

For indie writers and bloggers, though, it may be too hard to get permission, especially if all you want to do is quote one little thing. The KJV Bible, being old, may be freely quoted. 

I personally prefer the KJV because I grew up Protestant reading the KJV, and did not become Catholic until much later in my life. Most of my Bible knowledge came from the KJV, and I prefer it. I couldn’t imagine using a modern version for memorizing a Bible verse, for example.

For the English-speaking writer who does not have a religious preference, the KJV has been the version with the most literary influence. The old-fashioned language of the KJV strengthens your command of the English language, and prepares you to read Shakespearian English. 

To learn more about the history of the ‘missing’ books of the KJV Bible, read ‘Why Catholic Bibles are Bigger’ by Gary G. Michuta.

Monday, February 4, 2019

Why Folks don't Neuter their Barn Cats

Some people think that you should treat barn cats like they are the elderly, overweight indoor cats we are supposed to have, and neuter them in kittenhood. If you are an Animal Rights advocate who believes that all domestic animals should go extinct, you are probably angry— if only those darn people would have neutered all their cats long ago, they’d be extinct already.

People who have barn cats don’t think like that. A barn cat colony usually has a lot of unaltered cats. In the case of the female cats, motherhood makes them more interested in hunting. Even after the kittens have grown up, even if the mama cat is later spayed, they still think they are hunting for a family of 4 or more. Girl kitties who get spayed before motherhood are more likely to get fat and do like my cat Mariska does— imitate a furry, fat rug 23 hours a day.

With male cats there is a different situation. Intact males serve a leadership and protective function in many breeds of animals. Some people who keep free-ranging laying hens also have a rooster to warn of danger and to lead the hens back to the henhouse at night.

With cats, the most dominant tomcat rules the roost. Or at least, he bosses the other male cats, neutered and not-neutered. I have had a problem with my current Head Tomcat, Derek, chasing off male kittens once they start getting all masculine. As a result, I’ve neutered some of the male kittens that are affectionate and that I would miss if they get chased off the property. The two kittens, George M. and Sonny, did get big weight-wise, but not actually obese. They retained their sweet nature and Derek gets along with them, since they are not rivals.

The previous Head Tomcat in Charge was called Little Stranger. He got the name since I found him as a newborn in the long grass, and since I couldn’t find the guilty mama I added him to the litter of a cat who’d just had 5 girl kittens. She was too tired to notice the addition.

Little Stranger killed a favorite kitten in the middle of the night one night. This is an instinctual act some tomcats perpetrate to get the lady cats to come back in heat quicker. I ‘punished’ Little Stranger by making the appointment to neuter him the next morning. After he got neutered, I kept him in the house for a while so he wouldn’t smell like a tomcat to Derek and get chased off. Little Stranger stayed lean after his decommissioning as a tomcat. He’s adjusted to his lower status in the cat herd, but he keeps telling me he could have been a contender.

Some people say that an unspayed queen cat will have about a thousand descendants in a year or so. In real life, that is not so. My barn cat colony mostly produces enough kittens to make up for the old cats who have died and the occasional cat that wanders off or gets eaten by coyotes or foxes. I used to allow my barn cat queens to have their babies in the barn, with the result that some kittens grew up without human contact and were feral. 

I didn’t like that. I used to give away some kittens regularly, and they need to be tame for that. My barn cats have a cat door so they can come in to the back porch and go to the basement. I encourage them to have their kittens on the porch, and some obviously pregnant mama cats get to come into the house to raise their babies. (It’s a farmhouse, there are plenty of mice for mama cats to hunt without going outdoors.)

My mama cats have varying amounts of kittens. A couple regularly have one-kitten litters. One, Connie, likes to have 2 litters of 5 or 6 kittens every year, but hers tend to be small and not thrive. Some people think I should give all my cats away to the Humane Society (which charges for abandoning a pet) so that they can all be put to sleep, since some of my kittens die, but that is absurd. Some of every kind of animal die young. My goats, when I had them, never had a 100% survival rate of their kids. The same with my sheep. Chicks and ducklings I raise don’t ALL grow up to be big chickens or ducks. 

The purpose of having barn cats is to kill the vermin. Barns attract vermin, especially rats and mice. Just being in a rural area attracts mice— I have tons moving in the house every fall. Last year I even had a mouse living in my mailbox. The trick with barn cats is this: never scold one for killing things, or bringing dead stuff to you, or eating a baby bunny rabbit right in front of you. Don’t even kvetch when they kill a baby chick! It’s YOUR job to protect the critters you don’t want eaten from your barn cats.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Is Secular Man-Woman Marriage an Instinct?

What is the true nature of Man-Woman marriage/pair-bonding, found throughout history and across cultures? Unlike same-sex-marriage which is a modern cultural development. 

It IS possible that from the earliest human history the cultural custom of M-W marriage has spread from culture to culture because it was a good invention and people liked it, since it solved some social problems. What social problems? 
  1. Keeping men from fighting too savagely over the women.
  2. Keeping women and their children fed, since they would have a specific man to provide for them.
  3. Allowing men to have what women had by nature: the ability to be a parent of a specific child.

But is this just a cultural custom? If it were, wouldn’t we see cultures that hadn’t adopted that custom, or rejected it years ago? Especially in long-isolated human groups? But we don’t see that. There just haven’t been cultures in which men could have any women they wanted. Or where human men acted like mating baboons, sharing any female who was in heat, while ignoring the others.

I believe that M-W marriage or pair-bonding might well be more that just a custom that could be different from culture to culture. It may be instinct— the way that wolves have the instinct to form wolf-packs, and Mandarin ducks have the instinct to mate for life. 

Some people might say that the facts that some cultures allowed polygamy and harems while others didn’t proves it isn’t instinct, but I don’t think that’s so. Humans, as thinking beings, can shape the cultural results of a pair-bonding instinct. One group allows a man to make multiple marriage-bonds— perhaps because there is or was a shortage of men in the culture, or perhaps because some men were enslaved and made eunuchs. Others allowed only one pair-bond per customer. Or only one at a time.

Our experience of human beings is that they tend to group up in male-female pairs, and attempts to change that don’t work well. Some groups, like the Shakers, wanted everyone to be celibate— no sex. They aren’t around any more. The early Marxists who believed that the ‘means of production’ should be held in common included women as a means of production, and experimented with the travesty of ‘free love.’ That also did not last. The Soviet Union and other Socialist regimes had M-W marriages. 

So when they scream at you that M-W marriage is ‘just a piece of paper’ and that same-sex couples or triples deserve paper too, don’t believe it. Humans may have a long history of M-W marriage, but S-S marriage is an innovation we can’t find in the past.

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Friday, February 1, 2019

Sometimes you have to take sides

I don’t like the muck of politics. People argue with one another, imply the other side doesn’t care and/or eats babies for breakfast, and condemn folks without taking a minute to look for facts.

But some times you have to take sides. There was a writer in Germany long ago, Hedwig Courths-Mahler. She wrote a lot of little novels she called ‘fairy tales for adults.’ She was so popular that some of her novels were reprinted to send to soldiers during World War One.

But then as her writing career was winding up, National Socialism came along. Someone came to her and said she should re-write all her novels to make all her heroes ‘Aryan’ and all the villains Jewish. She didn’t do it. She gave the excuse that she was ‘too old’ for all the work. She didn’t risk her own life and those of her daughters by REALLY taking a stand, but at least she didn’t go along with the suggestion to turn her life’s work into National Socialist party propaganda. 

Today’s Socialists are making similar demands of writers. Include this, condemn that in your writing work: or else! They want ‘diversity,’ and when you write about Appalachian teens bullied for being ‘hillbillies’ you are told that doesn’t count. And they when you write about a ‘diverse’ person that does count, you are told you are the wrong race/gender/sexual orientation to write about that kind of ‘diverse’ person.

I guess the Socialists are teaching us that some people just don’t count. The lesson Hitler taught the Jews, Gypsies and Jehovah’s Witnesses and that Stalin taught the Ukrainians, Christians and ethnic Germans of Russia. But what about the people that do count? Is it fair to demand that Black people always have to write about Black people and disabled people have to write only about people with their particular disability? Why not let the protected ‘diverse’ people at least write about whatever they want.

Even though I am a former/recovering Marxist, a woman, and a person with Same-Sex Attraction (Gay), my current political perspective makes me a non-person to the publishing industry and the mainstream of writers. But in today’s writing world, thank goodness, one can always become an Indie and write what you want. You won’t be well compensated or anything, but within reason you can write what is in your heart.

I am lucky. My writer friend Declan Finn invited me to join a FB group called Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance, which has since moved to MeWe, a more welcoming social medium. I’ve met a number of fine writers there who are not part of the mainstream or the ‘Establishment’ or the Socialist movement. I’ve read a lot of books and short-story collections that I’ve learned of in the group. 

We need to make the most of our current opportunities. I predict it will be harder for non-Socialists of all kinds to succeed much as Indie writers. In part, because the new Socialists totally do not know when they are calling for censorship. They just want to condemn ‘racists’ and other ‘haters,’ which in their mind can apply to anyone of any race, sex or condition, that does not toe the line to what they believe.