Cover of my first Urban Fantasy novel, Hidden Talents
Shameless Self-Promotion is important for all of us with something to sell. I’ve got books you should buy, but I’ve also got a couple of freebies for the holidays.
Shameless Self-Promotion: Freebies
I wrote two short stories in my “Talents” universe that I’m offering for free, as a thank you to my readers. Check them out. If you like Urban Fantasy, they may appeal to you. My “Talents” stories are an outgrowth of my novel, Hidden Talents. It’s the first in the “Bayou Talents” series. I’m working on the second novel now. They’re Urban Fantasy stories, but no vampires and werewolves. Folks with “Talents” have paranormal abilities, and I tell their stories.
So, my other universe focuses on dragons. Because my two sons’ vivid imaginations inspire me, I’ve written two novels about three kids in Metairie and a dragon. Yes, #themetrys. They’re not ordinary teens, though, because an Elder Dragon chose to come into their lives via a dragon egg they purchased over the Internet. The first book, “Dragon’s Danger”, traces the story from the beginning, as the teens hatch the egg and help the dragon evolve. The story continues in this year’s installment, Dragon’s Discovery. In this novel, which dropped at Thanksgiving, the teens and their dragon are in their junior year at high schools in New Orleans. They learn more about their friend and the complications of being Blood-Bound to a dragon.
Buy My Books!
In addition to the three novels, don’t forget my five history books! All are published by Arcadia, and are fascinating glimpses into various aspects of the history of New Orleans.
Buy my books in local bookshops, Walgreens drug stores in the metro area, and on Amazon. If you’d like a particular title inscribed, contact me, we’ll figure it out.
New Orleans-themed books are a great way to spend holiday gift cards. Go!
Mr. Michael Shiosaki, and his husband, Mayor Ed Murray of Seattle. (Courtesy KUOW.org and StoryCorps)
Interesting segment on BBC World Service Thursday, covering the issue of Trump’s immigration policies. One of the cities at the forefront of the #resistance is Seattle, and its mayor, Ed Murray.
Ed Murray and Seattle
I’ll be honest I didn’t now much about Murray, prior to listening to this segment. He runs Seattle, and that city really isn’t on my radar, other than the Sounders are a fun soccer club to watch. When the BBC news reader introduced the segment on the podcast, I thought, well, of course Seattle is going to be out there on this subject. The personal angle Murray discussed was important: his husband, Mike Shiosaki, and his family, if he supported the preposterous policies Trump wants to see implemented. Murray’s and Shiosai’s story is fascinating, and they did a StoryCorps piece, discussing it.
The Case Against Trump
Back to the Beeb piece. Ed Murray made two important points on Trump’s crazy-ass ideas. First was how Washington State has the second largest wine industry in the nation, and their overall agriculture production is an important part of the state’s economy. The overwhelming number of farm workers on the west coast are undocumented. That means there are a lot of business owners relying on that labor force. If Trump packs them up and ships them off, there won’t be anybody around to pick the grapes.
The second point was how hollow Trump’s primary threat against cities like Seattle really is. The Beeb correspondent pressed Murray more than once for his response to the threat that Trump would pull federal funding from a “sanctuary city” (or, as Murray prefers, a “welcoming city”). He pointed out that the amount of aid Seattle gets from the feds as been dwindling for decades. If Trump were to cut off what was left Seattle would be able to cope, since the percentage is insignificant.
Calling Bullshit on Trump
The one thing about Murray, he didn’t simply extend Trump an upraised middle finger. He made a solid case for why the policy is not much more than bullshit and rhetoric without relying on bullshit and rhetoric himself. If Seattle can spare Mr. Murray, and his husband doesn’t mind, I do hope the mayor considers moving up to a higher level, politically.
Youth Soccer – the Beautiful Game
Youth Soccer was A Thing in our house. I was listening to the latest number of Slate’s “Mom and Dad are fighting” pod on my walk to Wakin’ Bakin’ this morning. They interviewed a couple of folks, talking about how they’re dealing with the Trump reality in terms of their kids. One of the guests, Dwayne Betts, is a public defender. His kid is worried for friends who might get deported.
The thought that first comes to my mind is how expensive deporting undocumented Mexicans would be for the government, not to mention the economic disaster it would cause. My running joke is that the Marriott brothers would never permit it. Problem is, we now have a Fascist about to take over as President. We have to take him at his word.
Diversity at the playground
It’s a no-brainer that soccer leagues located in big public parks will attract a diverse group of families. My now-28yo son played “travel” soccer. There were Mexican-American on his team. Particularly here in New Orleans, the overall number of undocumented Mexicans has increased since 2005. Instead of just being the kids with skills (because they played in their free time since they could kick a futbol), we’re talking about average, Pokemon Go-playing American kids going out for team sports. Our local Muslim community has grown as well over the years. Same deal for that group of kids. They may not go to the Catholic schools many of the white kids attend, but they come out to LafreniereGenerational Changes Park and the playgrounds in Metairie to play sports.
Kids don’t, as a rule, know much about the immigration status of their teammates. It makes perfect sense for a nine-year old to come home, worried that Trump is going to send her friends away. There are a number of ways to address this as parents, but the mere fact that families are having this discussion means racism is eroding.
There may not be much we can do about the deplorable parents, but the kids see these prospective deportees as more than just human beings. They are their friends.
Oh, and Mister Betts’ response to his kid about immigration? He said, if it push comes to shove, he’d quit his job. He’d switch to immigration law and fight for his friends.
High School Food Pantry
Why should you care about starting a high school food pantry? It’s a good way to become a faith based liberal. Even without the election fiasco, government continues to shrink. Giving teens an additional nutrition boost is a good idea. While a basic way to help fight hunger is to donate to your local “big” food bank (Second Harvest, here in Southern Louisiana), this is an area where we have to go further. So, the big food banks do their jobs well, making sure families get assistance. Thing is, kids need more. Every parent of teens knows they eat. No, that’s not right. They EAT. The hormones kick in and your fridge gets emptied. A food bank can give a the families they serve so much. If a family had more than one resource to turn to, maybe the teens won’t go hungry.
How it works
Feeding America describes the idea of a high school food pantry:
School Pantries take place at a consistent location within a school’s campus. They have set distribution schedules and offer ongoing food assistance services. The pantry may have a permanent set up within a school or may operate through a mobile distribution rotation that brings food to a school campus.
So, starting a food pantry isn’t hard. So, I’ve linked to a few articles in the sidebar on making this happen. This is your start towards being a faith based liberal. While it’s easy to run with this, you can stay in your comfort zone. Sure, you or someone you know needs to kick this off, but everyone else can kick up money and Kraft dinner weekly.
New Orleans angle
The challenge of any food bank is to stay stocked. It’s easy in a large school with a diverse student body. There are all sorts of ways to get teens to part with the cash they’d usually spend at Starbucks. It’s also easy for a teen to say, “Mom, can you pick up two or three things for our food pantry?” on a weekly basis. Make this a project for a service club at a school.
What about areas where there’s less economic diversity? New Orleans is a great example. Thousands of middle-class kids go to private schools, while the student bodies of public schools have a significant percentage of kids living in poverty. The food (and cash) needs to move from the private/Catholic schools into the public schools. If a private school could adopt a public school, establishing and sustaining a food pantry there, wealth gets transferred. We start sall. Maybe we even stay small. It’s not about government.
It’s faith based liberals. Social Justice Warriors.
USA vs Mexico!
YatPundit’s Pub is all about The Beautiful Game
USAvMEX tonight! We’re fans of Association Football here at YatPundit’s Pub. Specifically, we follow and support two soccer teams: Arsenal Football Club, that wonderful North London side that wears red. My sons support the team from Manchester, UK, that also wears red, so there’s a lot of banter about when they’re home or we’re on the phone. That’s as it should be when folks are passionate about their side.
Soccer always improves my mood when it comes to whatever else is going on in the world. In the aftermath of Tuesday, that’s important. This weekend is what’s known as an “international break” in the club season. The national teams compete about once a month as they move forward in qualifying for the World Cup. The next World Cup Final tournament will be in the summer of 2018, in Russia. Each continent has a federation that oversees competition for the spots in the final tournament for their countries.
Here in the North America, that federation is the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean Association Football, or CONCACAF. US Soccer’s Men’s National Team faces Mexico tonight, in their quest for a spot in WC2018. Columbus, Ohio hosts the match. Since 2001, Team USA has not lost to Mexico when they’ve played in Columbus.
As they say in politics, the “optics” of playing in Columbus are awful. The reason is simple: there are very few Mexico fans in that city, when compared to other cities, like Los Angeles, Dallas, or Houston. This is one of those occasions where USA supporters don’t care about optics, because we want the win. I’m all about having USA-Mexico friendly matches in the warmer cities where there’s a big Mexican/Mexican-American population. It makes money for US Soccer and sells a lot of bad stadium beer.
This game, though? Vamanos, USA!
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YatPundit’s Pub – Day 2 of Trumpworld
Entrance to the Labyrinth at Audubon Park
Our second pod from YatPundit’s Pub. Today, some thoughts before I walked the Labyrinth, then some comments on mental health and taking care of our people.
The Chartres Labyrinth at Audubon Park
We’re fortunate to have a Chartres-style labyrinth here in New Orleans, located uptown, at Audubon Park. If you’re not familiar with labyrinths and their applications, Veriditas, the Labyrinth project, has a great getting-started page that will help orient you. One of the things I try to do when I go out to Silicon Valley to teach is to go into San Francisco and walk the labyrinth at Grace Cathedral. I prefer the outdoor labyrinth there. So, take a look at Veriditas and their work, and if there’s a labyrinth near you, perhaps it will help you eject some of the anxiety and stress in your life.
Taking care of friends
Anxiety and depression are all around us since Tuesday night. It’s important we take care of friends and family. The group that worries me most are what I call “social media self medicaters” – folks who have serious issues with anxiety and/or depression, but aren’t seeing anyone for it. They come onto platforms like Facebook and try to talk out their issues, but that can backfire. Facebook can be a dark and scary place for some people. Therefore, we don’t need our friends who already have issues talking to people who will exacerbate their problems.
This is a challenging situation, since it’s hard to simply tell someone to stay off social media. Also, a lot of folks right now have legitimate concerns, since crazed conservatives are making up wish lists of things from the last eight years that they want to undo. Same-sex marriages and Obamacare are high on most of those lists. This crap isn’t something our friends need in their lives.
Take care of your people!
NOTE: In the pod, I mention an incident in Lafayette, Louisiana, involving a Muslim student at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. The young woman has admitted to the police she fabricated the story.
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White People can become blinded by their privilege
Hey, White People! Don’t tell them it’s going to be OK. It’s NOT going to be OK for them. Your white privilege will protect you from the worst of the social policies of total Republican control.
Your nonwhite friends? Not so much. Don’t apply your white view of the world to their situation.
- Here’s what to do. Tell your nonwhite friends that you will:
- Listen to them
- Take them seriously
- Treat them with respect
- Offer understanding
At a minimum, you can do these things. These actions won’t pull you out of your aura of whiteness that protects you in the United States.
Still, you should go further. It’s possible to drop your psychic shields and bring your friends into your aura of whiteness. You can:
- Walk with them out to the parking lot after work
- Go out for happy hour
- Invite them into your home for “game night” – bring them into your circle of friends
- Set up play-dates with their children and yours
- Stand by them when some of your friends abandon you for being inclusive
It’s not all that difficult. Safety is one of the greatest concerns nonwhite folks have. This is like the old Chris Rock sketch about how not to get your ass kicked by the police. One of the tips was “get a white friend”. BE the white friend. BE the colleague that goes that extra step in the workplace. Your #whiteprivilege is a tangible force. It can be channeled for good. For example, Muslim women shouldn’t be walking alone at night. There’s been an uptick in incidents such as these attacks on Muslim women on college campuses. These cowards are less likely to attack a group. Be part of the group.
Drop the shield
The ultimate thing you can do for your nonwhite friends is to drop your aura of whiteness entirely:
- Stand and march with nonwhite folks to protest abuse of civil rights
- Get between nonwhite protesters and police
- Shield non-Christian coworkers when they pray
- Call out other white people when they abuse nonwhites
Yes, these actions could put you at risk. They’ll reap incredible benefits, however.
YatPundit’s Pub brings the podcast back, and we’re going to talk about a lot of things. The Pub will run 15-30 minutes, Monday thru Friday.
It’s right here. We’re at the bar at Tujague’s. Maybe we’re at a table at The Bulldog on Canal Blvd. It’s wherever New Orleanians get together to talk.
One important point–it’s the “liberal” side of the bar. It’s the table in the corner where the Democrats gather. Don’t think for a moment it’s not, even on the days when politics isn’t the subject.
And we’re off!
Today we discuss the immediate aftermath of yesterday’s Presidential election. Three segments:
- Where we are today, and up to 20-Jan-2017
- Immediate thoughts on what we need to focus on for the first two years of the next presidency
- Long-term future: We need to be “Faith Based Liberals” and rebuild progressive local government
I’m not going to get into recriminations, blame, etc. It didn’t do any good to go there in 2000, and it’s not going to do any good now. The place for that discussion is when we talk about the long term. Progressives need to work to re-build our presence in government at the local and state levels. That’s where the Clinton-versus-Sanders, the Liberal-versus-DLC, the beliefs of the Democratic Party come in. We’ll get there. It’s the things we should talk over a beer. Or two.
So, YatPundit’s Pub isn’t going to be all politics. We’re going to talk about food, drink, and cultcha! It’s what you expect when you sit down at the table with your beverage. Hopefully we’ll get others involved to chat about these things, so it’s not just me ranting. My day gig (computer training and consulting) still involves a bit of travel, and the pod won’t stop because of that.
While pub conversations will vary, one fixed subject here in the pub is going to be “Football Friday”. We’re going to talk about soccer. If you’re a fan of The Beautiful Game, and you grow weary of me talking about Arsenal Football Club, let’s get you on the pod and we’re have some proper banter.
Podcast: Play in new window | Download
The Faith Based Left must stand up. Religious conservatives did this, we can do so as well.
Here’s how pros do things. You lose, you take a shower, have a drink, and get ready for the next game.
The Faith Based Left
So, as Jed would say, “What’s next?”
The left must accept that, for the next few years, we’re not getting anything out of government. SCOTUS goes back to 5-4, most likely with a replacement for Scalia that’s worse than Scalia himself. For the next two years, government is in total control of the Republican Party. We have to accept that fact and do what we can to mitigate its impact.
How do we do that? We need to become a faith-based community. What is our faith? That the United States of America is better than the vision the Republicans have for the country. There are a number of things we now cannot rely upon the government to support/nurture/fix:
- Health Care
- Criminal Justice
- LGBT Rights
These are just five areas right off the top of my head. Traditionally, we Democrats would use government to improve the position of all in these and so many other areas. That’s not happening now. We won’t have the federal government to help. We’re going to have to do them ourselves.
Fleshing out an agenda
Education. While liberals have always supported public education. We need to accept that funding for public education isn’t going to improve. Time to adopt the initiatives of the right, such as homeschooling.
Health Care. ACA is gone, count on it. So, maybe they’ll work something out on pre-existing conditions, but even that may go. We need to look to private solutions, community clinics, and other non-governmental solutions. We do it in the third world, we need to apply what we do well in our own country now.
Criminal Justice. The for-profit prison industry has been a disaster, and that’s not going to change with even greater Republican dominance of government. Public/Indigent defenders are barely funded as it is now. That’s not going to improve. Liberals are going to have to take the right to an attorney into the community. We need to nurture and support legal assistance clinics and private indigent defense practices.
LGBT Rights. Liberals need to do what religious conservatives did in the 1980s, infiltrate and reclaim local government. We know most gains in this area will get rolled back at the federal level, so we have to work from the bottom up. Elect school boards The Left must become a faith-based communitywhose members encourage diversity and tolerance. It starts now.
Poverty. We have to feed our communities. The government just isn’t going to do it.
These are thoughts off the top of my head after a very rude awakening this morning. We need to make it all happen.
Gideon’s Trumpet by Anthony Lewis
Right to counsel
These days, the right to counsel, and the right against self-incrimination are things we pretty much take for granted. it wasn’t always so. Gideon’s Trumpet is a book about a major legal case that was decided by the US Supreme Court in 1963. The case involved a man in Florida, Clarence Earl Gideon. A court in Florida refused to appoint legal counsel for Gideon, because Florida law at the time only allowed for court-appointed defense lawyers in capital cases. Gideon was convicted of burglary, and sentenced to five years. After submitting a hand-written petition to the US Supreme Court, that body took up his case. That resulted in a 9-0 SCOTUS decision in Gideon’s favor. He was retried and, with the help of counsel, was acquitted by a jury after an hour of deliberation.
In 1965, Author Anthony Lewis wrote a book about Gideon v. Wainwright, the case. The book became a TV-movie in 1980.
There was a time, right around when my younger sister was born, that we were “between houses.” My parents wanted to buy a lot and build a house, so they decided to sell our house, and we lived in an apartment complex for a while. One of the things that I liked about apartment living was the bookmobile. The library came to me rather than the other way around, so that was a fun thing.
One of my dad’s friends was a librarian and drove the bookmobile. While I picked stuff to read, Mr. Jim would regularly choose a book for me. He checked it out in my name, and put it in my hands, on top of anything else I’d picked. Gideon’s Trumpet was one of those books.
The book fascinated me. The legal principles weren’t all that hard for a fifth-grader to comprehend. Lewis presented the background of the story, offered an interesting portrait of Abe Fortas, the attorney appointed to represent Gideon before SCOTUS. (Fortas went on to become a Justice himself.) I love pomp and circumstance. Lewis’s descriptions of oral arguments before the court were fascinating. The decision was landmark.
All defendants have the right to counsel. It’s a Big Deal, and it resonated with ten-year old me. I watched all the cop and lawyer shows on the teevee. I went on to join the debate team in high school. The notion of going to law school crossed my mind.
I didn’t forget that concept. It’s one of those things that stuck with me, through the years, just like the times when a friend who is an attorney would point out that bail is not punishment. Bail backs up a promise to appear for trial.
Other than traffic tickets, I’ve been fortunate to have never needed defense counsel in a criminal proceeding. I’ve had friends, colleagues, and others in my life who have been in that position. When I taught high school, one of my students was accused of murder in Jefferson Parish. I was 23 at the time. The case sent me reeling. There wasn’t much I could do, as I wasn’t directly involved, yet it still tore at me. He had representation. Still, the case was very upsetting for me.
There have been other cases, other people, who weren’t so fortunate. The idea that capital cases happened where lawyers slept through trial, and their clients ended up executed was incredibly disturbing.
Every defendant should have competent defense, even if, no, especially if their crimes will put them on death row or they will face life imprisonment. I knew this when I was ten. Clarence Earl Gideon made that much of an impression on me.