Fabulous Writer: H. Claire Taylor

Run, don’t walk, to this woman’s Amazon page and buy everything she has ever written. I have said it before, and I’ll say it again: most self-published Kindle books aren’t worth the electrons they are written on. H. Claire Taylor is a prominent exception.

In terms of wit, talent, style and writing ability, she is a worthy successor to Douglas Adams in the relatively narrow field of Comic Science Fiction with her Alice Luck series. Admittedly, she does seem to channel Adams now and then, but perhaps the range of tropes available in this genre is limited. Or great minds thing alike. In any case, Adams is no longer with us and Taylor is.

She has three series, all of them excellent: 7 Jessica Christ books, 4 Kihaven police books, and 5 Alice Luck books, the latest being Luck Off and Fly. My rave review of that book will be forthcoming soon, but I simply felt it was time to plug Taylor again, in general.

She calls her mailing list The New Collective, and provides both news of upcoming books and free short stories. She also rattles the cup now and then, but with no publisher providing fat advances, who can blame her?

Her website is not the easiest to navigate, but here is the link (Get A Story for Free) to sign up for her mailing list.

Mom Said: Jesus in India

I ended up talking a lot about my late mother at a dinner recently, and one of the people at the table suggested that I write her biography. I don’t think I can do it; I’m too close. But I have decided to share some of her wisdom with you under the rubric Mom Said.

Mom believed, because her father believed, that Jesus’ lost years between 13 and 21 (the New Testament says nothing about this period) were spent in India, learning about Hinduism.

 During a recent discussion a friend suggested that Jesus spent those years in the desert getting in touch with the collective unconscious. Occam’s razor says the simpler explanation is much more likely; given the difficulty in getting from the Holy Land to India, maybe what we view as a Hindu influence on Jesus was just expression of fundamental human nature.

In a discussion of this topic, a Jungian surprised me with an influence going the other way: Gandhi disciplined himself to read daily from the Sermon on the Mount, and live according to those teachings.


The Meaning of Life

[a reprint from June 2002, when my mother was still alive]

[Turns out you don’t need a manual; just live every day showing loving kindness to other beings. It works for me. This is the best moment of my life. Now this is. Now this is.]

No, not the Monty Python film (one of their best, by the way), but thoughts on the subject. First, from a novel my mother is reading:

We are born not knowing where we came from, we have no idea what we are going to do, and we have no idea how long we have to do it before we go to the next unknown. “That's not an exact quote, and not so terribly original, but it sure sums it up well!”

Well, yes it does! Reminds me of Douglas Adams, who used to say that humanity clearly had lost its owners manual, and that if only we hadn't thrown it in a drawer and forgotten where it was, things would have been so much clearer, simpler and more obvious. Yes, I know, some people think the Bible/Torah/Koran is the owner's manual, but if it is, it's been transliterated from another language, and has entirely too much "tab a in slot b" and not enough practical advice.

Management Lessons from Music

(I learned this a half century ago at the Sloan School, and there are diluted forms of it from consultants all over the Internet, none as concise as I would like)

Management can learn lessons from bands and orchestras. These lessons should be obvious to the casual observer. If not, their proof is left as an exercise to the reader. (Yes, I know I am not Fermat)

I play tenor sax in the Danville Band. We have one conductor (Bob Calonico) with a span of control of 80. Modern management theory says a manager should have no more than six reports, and yet our band does not have 3 subconductors and 15 sub-subconductors. Why is that?

We are all playing from the same music and we are all (theoretically) competent at our jobs.

Black Everywhere

I get so tired of black phones on black counters, black buttons on black backgrounds. Douglas Adams nailed it 43 years ago in The Restaurant At the End of the Universe: ‘It’s the wild color scheme that freaks me,” said Zaphod whose love affair with this ship had lasted almost three minutes into the flight, “Every time you try to operate on of these weird black controls that are labeled in black on a black background, a little black light lights up black to let you know you’ve done it. What is this? Some kind of galactic hyperhearse?”

This and That

From a friend: This is one of the best videos I've seen on Narcissism... funny too.

Sad Newspaper Commentary
Over The Hedge offers a sad commentary on newspaper readership, which, as Homer Simpson says, is “Funny because it’s true.”

What’s Happy?
Many interesting answers to many interesting questions in Harvard’s 85-year-old study of its alums.

Occam’s Razor
I assumed everyone knew of this principle. After a recent dinner with a pair of humanities majors, I discovered that while it is well-known in my crowd, it isn’t general knowledge. If there are two explanations, pick the simpler one.