The definition of stalking as a crime is as follows: a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to feel fear. However, nearly every jurisdiction has their own definition of stalking and most of them do not have standardized penalties for stalking and it is often a crime not seriously investigated.

Stalking is a serious problem, more than 10 million people are stalked every year in the US. And most stalkings last more than five years. More than 70% of stalking victims require therapy for mental distress created by stalkers. It is basically a form of psychological warfare and in my opinion should be treated as such.

Penalties against stalkers also vary greatly. If a case can even be made against a stalker, the penalties are very light, it is not uncommon for stalkers to be sentenced to probation and community service if they do not commit a violent crime in the course of stalking their victim. And if a violent crime is committed in association with stalking, the stalker is still usually only given a few years in prison as long as the violent crime isn’t murder.

Stalking victims commonly develop anxiety, insomnia, and sometimes PTSS (PTSD) and there is a risk of a victim developing agoraphobia (fear of leaving their house). On average, a stalking victim has a face to face encounter with their stalker once a week, usually in a public place. And it is sadly rare for the victim of a stalker to be able to get a restraining order against their stalker and if they do manage, enforcement is difficult because most encounters are in public and “accidental encounter” can be claimed. Furthermore, a victim with a restraining order can be in violation of the restraining order if they run into their stalker at say a coffee shop and neither the stalker or victim leaves, if the victim violates the restraining order it can be negated.

Actions of a stalker include some of the following (this is not a comprehensive list by far):

  • Sending unwanted gifts
  • Showing up where the victim is
  • Following a victim
  • Posting private information gleaned by the stalker (via going through the victim’s trash, scrounged from the internet, captured via malware installed on the victim’s computer, photographs taken by the stalker, etc)

This causes the victim to feel fear, no part of their life is private. Their daily routines are interrupted and have to be changed because the stalker knows these routines, insomnia, anxiety, victims often have to miss multiple days at work due to their stalker, victims will move to escape a stalker only to have the stalker move too, and minor property damage is commonly committed by stalkers.

Only 55% of female stalking victims and 45% of male victims are stalked by an ex-partner. However, when an ex-partner is the stalker, only 30% were abusive during the relationship (physically, emotionally, and/or sexually). Over 50% of stalkings committed by an ex-partner end in violence (murder, sexual assault, physical assault) compared to just 35% of stalkers who are not ex-partners end in violence.

While most crimes in the US are on the decline, stalking is not one of them. Stats show that between 2006 and 2016 crimes of stalking increased by 27%. And those are just the crimes we know about. Stalking is often an unreported crime because victims know that law enforcement intervention without a violent encounter is nearly impossible.

The general public has the misconception that stalkers are mentally ill and that stalking almost always ends in violent encounters. Most stalkers are just average people. Many criminologists believe stalking is on the rise because it does maximum damage with This little chance of the perpetrator being punished for it.

And people like Kathleen Hale (who has now been signed to write a book about her time as a stalker) make it worse. Kathleen Hale is a young adult novelist who was signed by HarperTeen. As per usual, HarperTeen sent advanced read copies of her book to several people, including a well known and respected book blogger. The blogger hated Hale’s book. HarperTeen warned Hale that she would be getting a negative review and to not retaliate, but Hale decided to stalk the blogger for it.

Hale even found the woman’s home address and left packages for her at her home. She got the woman’s cell phone number and began calling her to get a recorded interview regarding why the blogger hated Hale (note I said Hale, not the book, as Hale considered it personal that this blogger didn’t like her book) Hale’s victim quit blogging about books and became a recluse, refusing to talk about her ordeal. Hale on the other hand, was given a contract to write a book titled Kathleen Hale is a Crazy Stalker.

I am of the opinion, that HarperTeen should have punished Kathleen Hale. They could have stopped publication of her book, demanded the return of the advance, and voided her contract. Her victim had to give up her job, but Kathleen Hale profited from her stalking, which seems unfair to say the very least, especially since Hale obviously caused her victim a great deal of emotional distress (enough that she quit her job).

On a side note, the thing that stalkers want is the exact same thing terrorists want, to cause their victim to change their lives because of fear.


Falsehoods Associated With Social Media

In the last week or so, I’ve seen an infographic make its rounds on Facebook. It is perpetuating lies. After about the 17th time I saw it, I downloaded it. If you are sharing this graphic, you should seriously think about doing research before blindly following the crowd, because the crowd is apparently okay with perpetuating lies, spreading hate, and continuing to divide the US further. PS: Propaganda like this was one of the best weapons Nazi Germany had, it’s amazing how effective it still is.

Nazism was Fascist. They said called themselves Socialists. But I can say I’m a the returned Messiah, it doesn’t make it true. A fascist government requires a centralized, all powerful leader – a dictator. Which Hitler was. It is actually contrary to socialism to have a single figure at the head of the government. This is part of the reason the Soviet Union and Red China were in fact, not socialist either. They too were fascist governments. Sometimes, the control was pulled very tight like it was under Stalin and sometimes it was a bit looser like under Gorbachev.

Having guns in the hands of the public is a problem for a fascist government. Guns allow for the masses to organize to overthrow the government and dictator at the head of it.

It was President Trump that suggested we should have State Run Media, not Democrats. Also, it is the conservative party in the US that supports the banning of books and keeping certain scientific information out of our classrooms and therefore out of the hands of their children. That censorship is supported by Republicans more than Democrats.

Abortions in Nazi Germany were illegal. Now, if an undesirable became pregnant there were special Nazi doctors they could see. However, that was tricky, because while that doctor could perform an abortion on an undesirable, the woman could then be charged with a crime and sent to a work camp or concentration camp. The sentence was harsher if a woman was caught getting an abortion by a doctor who wasn’t approved by the Nazis. An aryan having an abortion was a capital punishment offense. Both the woman having the abortion and the doctor performing it could be arrested and sentenced to death for it. There was one exception. If a fetus showed signs of deformity then doctors were expected to recommend an abortion – no room for the handicapped in Hitler’s master race.

Nazis didn’t just hate Jews. They hated everyone they deemed below them; Jews, blacks, Turks, anyone who couldn’t pass as a Viking God, homosexuals, Slavs, communists, people who liked the idea of republicanism and democracy, socialists, non-Christians, etc. The whole Viking God thing was brutally important. If you couldn’t pass as a Viking (tall, blond, good skin), you were undesirable in Nazi Germany – the irony there of course is that Hitler couldn’t pass as a Viking god anymore than most Germans. Jews took the brunt of it, because they had been chased out of most Western European countries (Spain, Portugal, Italy, even France to some degree) and had congregated in large numbers in Germany and Eastern Europe at the end of the 1800s.

There was a cult of Hitler in place. Nazis were expected to worship their Fuhrer. But that’s true of all fascist governments. Stalin expected it. Mussolini expected it. Mao Zedong expected it. Divine Right kingship also expected it – Kings like Louis XIV and Henry VIII were just as likely to expect worship as their fascist counterparts of the 21st century.

If you want to compare Democrats to Nazis, that’s your prerogative, but you should at least use “real facts” in your comparison. Especially since it is very easy to look up facts on Nazism. Furthermore, before you throw too many stones that direction, you should consider the fact that Republican Steve King out of Iowa doesn’t understand why “white nationalism” is considered bad, even though the phrase was used prolifically to describe the support of Nazism in Germany.

Authors Are a Weird Lot

They say authors are a bit weird and temperamental. I won’t disagree. I’m a bit moody and I live with my head in my own fictional world a lot, even when I’m not writing. They can also act in some extraordinary ways. Ambrose Bierce the father of American science fiction disappeared from the face of the Earth while in Mexico. Douglas Preston moved his family to Italy and ended up getting kicked out of the country because of his interest in the Monster of Florence serial killer case. And on December 3, 1926 Agatha Christie left her home for a drive and disappeared for 11 days.

Christie’s car was found wrecked by a passing motorist, but the novelist was nowhere to be seen. It ended up being the largest manhunt in the history of Britain at the time. Even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Dorothy L. Sayers got involved in looking for Christie.

Her disappearance was worthy of front page news. Her married life wasn’t entirely happy, her husband was a pilot from WWI and a womanizer. Many thought that Arthur Christie had chased her down in his car, forced her into the car accident, then killed her and hidden her body. Others thought it was a publicity stunt. However, by 1926, Christie was a best selling novelist. Her 3 Poirot novel had published earlier that year. It was her 6th novel overall and they were selling well. So while her personal life had problems her professional life was going amazingly well. There was no need for a publicity stunt.

As a note on the oddity of her disappearance, Doyle who was very interested in spiritualism took one of Christie’s gloves to a medium trying to find out if she was alive or dead. Sayers went to the scene of the accident looking for clues. Both produced no leads.

On December 14th, a banjo player at a hotel in Harrogate recognized her from the newspaper. She had checked into the hotel under the name Theresa Neele – which was the name of her husband’s current mistress.

Agatha said almost nothing about the incident for the majority of her life. However, whatever triggered it, seemed to spurn her into taking control of her life. She went back with Arthur Christie to their home, but by 1928, she had kicked Arthur out and filed for divorce.

Many think that she eventually explained all to Dorothy Sayers. But if she did, Sayers never spoke of it either. Several experts in psychiatry believe Christie may have had a mental break down the night of December 3. Whatever the cause, Christie only wrote a little about the adventure and never fully explained it to anyone that spoke about it after her death.

They Are But Slaves

If you watch movies with shirtless attractive men in them, you’ve probably seen the movie Gladiator. The movie that I love while cringing in horror at its inaccuracies. The movie does get one very important detail accidentally right… Maximus is a soldier turned slave to Commodus and then Commodus throws him into the gladiator ring for everyone’s amusement. The part the movie got right: Maximus being a soldier, before becoming a gladiator.

That is quite possibly the only part of the movie that is historically accurate though. Gladiators legally couldn’t be slaves. It was a paid position, making them technically not slaves as they received a wage for every fight regardless of whether they won or lost (it was usually higher if they won).

And with that last sentence your brain might have given a slight stutter. What do you mean if they won? If they lost, they died, how did they get paid? But oh ho, not in the least. Gladiators trained at gladiator schools to fight in the arenas and killing the opponent was not how you “won.” As a matter of fact, killing an opponent was frowned upon quite heavily. It was considered a weakness to accidentally kill your opponent.

Gladiatorial events were similar in format to modern day boxing and MMA events. Two gladiators were the main attraction, they headlined the event in a match against each other. Leading up to that battle, there were lesser known gladiators fighting each other and occasionally wild animals (this was rare though for a true gladiator).

Now, some of the build up for the main event, did indeed include people who didn’t want to fight. Convicts could earn their freedom by defeating wild animals in the gladiator ring. However, the advantage was totally given to the animal as many times, the convict would not be armed, greatly reducing their chances at successfully defeating any wild animal.

And this is where Christians being thrown to lions comes into history. Christianity was a punishable offense during most of the time of the Roman empire. They were seen as subversive rabble rousers. However, most Roman emperors, including Nero, Caligula, and Commodus, saw the benefit in allowing Christians to fight for their right to live and so Christians facing wild animals in the gladiator ring became a thing. A very popular thing. Often the number of Christians advertised facing predators drew larger crowds than the headlining gladiators.

The “thumbs up” “thumbs down” thing was reserved for convicts, if it was used at all. It was incredibly disadvantageous for an emperor to call for the death of a gladiator, because gladiators often came from the highest ranks of society and the Roman army. Gladiators were basically the rockstars of their day and most emperors couldn’t risk the wrath of their people by having a popular gladiator put to death.

The Great Irish Famine

Famines motivate people. In multiple posts, about the Little Ice Age, The Black Death, and the ineffectiveness of walled cities, famine played a role in motivating mankind. The Black Death would have been less effective if it hadn’t been coupled with a famine, the Little Ice Age created many famines, including the Great Famine of France that lead to the French Revolution, and it motivated people in the Middle Ages to tunnel under the walls of Paris, London, and Moscow in search of food and buyers of goods. It also played a significant role in immigration to the US and Canada in the 1840s.

Some years, it rains an excessive amount in Ireland. If 1816 can be titled the “Year Without a Summer,” then 1845 can be titled the “Year it Wouldn’t Stop Raining on Ireland.” Too much rain can be as bad as too little rain and the Great Irish Famine is a prime example of why crop diversification and a little less rain can make a huge difference to survival.

Most people will know the Great Irish Famine as the Great Potato Famine. For the record, Ireland is great at growing potatoes. I mean absolutely fantastic. Potatoes grow better in Ireland than most crops. And potatoes have more vitamin C than any fruit. Potatoes were staples on ships because they prevented scurvy and as long as they aren’t exposed to too much water or sun, they last a long time.

Not only are potatoes loaded with vitamin C, they are a very hearty food. A little potato can go a long way towards daily calorie intakes and keeping up energy levels. The Irish grew a lot of potatoes. And as with most deadly situations, a perfect storm occurred to create the Great Irish Famine.

Too much rain fell in spring and early summer of 1945. Leading to a disease known as Late Blight to develop on the potato crop. Late Blight is caused by a type of mold. It destroys the leaves of the plants and infects the edible roots and tubers of the plants, causing them to rot in the ground.

Late Blight also affects sweet potatoes, onions, beets, and rutabaga, not just potatoes. Unfortunately, these are the crops that grow best in Ireland. Because it’s frustrating to put effort into crops that won’t grow in rocky soil, there wasn’t a lot of crop diversity in Ireland in the 1800s. Meaning nearly all crops were root vegetables like potatoes and onions. The rains stirred up a specific type of mold. Mold that would attack the majority of the crops planted in Ireland, wiping out almost the entire crop for 1845.

1846 would see less rain, but the mold that caused Late Blight was still alive and well within the soil and the crops of 1846 were also devastated by Late Blight. By 1847, Ireland could not import enough food to make up for the crop failures and Irish people were starting to peel the bark off trees and pull up grass by the handfuls, because you eat anything you possibly can during a famine, even if it’s tree bark and grass (which aren’t terribly nutritious for humans because we can’t digest most of it).

It also had a tremendous impact on livestock, as most livestock had supplemental diets that included the ruined crops and couldn’t stomach crops tainted by Late Blight.

This left the people of Ireland with two options; stay in Ireland and try to tough it out or immigrate. Nearly a million Irish died of starvation and starvation related diseases. Approximately 2 million Irish decided to flee Ireland and try their luck somewhere else.

In total, the population of Ireland dropped by 20 to 25% during the 2 years of blighted crops and the 5 years that followed it. Birth rates in 1847 were only a fraction of what they had been in 1843. We also mention the number that died or fled, but rarely discuss how it affected the regrowth of the population. In 1847, there was only about 1/6th the number of births in Ireland than of 1844. Meaning another couple million were lost simply because they weren’t born, because a population can only grow so fast with traditional breeding methods.

Only 3 times in “modern” history (post Fall of Rome) do we see this significant of a population drop in a single country; during the 1300s & 1400s Black Plague Pandemic when nearly 30% of England died of plague and starvation, and the 35% population drop of the Soviet Union during WWII (the Russian Population has yet to recover, despite it being more than 70 years – the population of Russia today is less than it was in 1920 and Stalin is as much to blame as WWII). And the Great Irish Famine of 1845-1846.

By 1855, there were more Irish people born in the US, Canada, India, and Australia, than in Ireland. It would be the 1870s before the Irish population would reach the same growth it had experienced in 1844. On a side note, the Irish blamed the English for the Great Irish Famine, proving tensions between Ireland and England went back way further than the political maneuverings of the 1920s (in 1921, the majority of Ireland which had been a part of the UK succeeded from their English rulers – Ireland and England have been wrangling for control of Ireland since the early 1600s).

The Power of Earthquakes

I’ve done posts about volcanoes before and nuclear winters they can create, but I’ve never tackled the subject of earthquakes. Which is a little weird, since I live much closer to an area likely to be demolished by an earthquake than a volcano (sort of, if the Yellowstone Super Caldera goes, I will die as a result ash emissions making the air unbreathable and possibly hydrochloric acid rains even in Missouri).

However, the New Madrid fault line runs through the south east of Missouri. I don’t think of earthquakes much, because I am divided from the south eastern part of Missouri by the Ozark mountains and the geological makeup of the Ozark Mountains, means that in Mid-Missouri, I am less likely to feel an earthquake in the New Madrid fault line than people in Alabama, even though I am significantly closer.

Beginning in November 1811, a series of more than 2,000 earthquakes rocked the New Madrid fault line. The majority of them were estimated to be very deep and not particularly strong. There were three major ones all over a 7.7 magnitude (estimated), December 1811, January 1812, and February 1812. The ground heaved its last major sigh in March 1812.

The epicenters of all the quakes was in the bootheel region of Missouri. They created massive, widespread damage to the southeastern part of the state. And gave a curious clue about the New Madrid fault.

We all know Japan, California, Alaska, Indonesia, are all prone to earthquakes. They can be terrible things that are very destructive. The average earthquake lasts only 30 seconds or less, making them some of the most destructive 30 seconds known to mankind. However, the 3 powerful quakes that shook the New Madrid in 1811 and 1812 all lasted more than a minute.

They rang church bells as far away as Toronto, Canada (for those that don’t know where Missouri is in the US, find the middle of the country and search around, it’s just over a thousand miles from New Madrid, Missouri and New York City, approximately the same distance exists between New York City and Miami, Florida).

In comparison, the earthquake that struck Chile in 2010 and shifted the earth on its axis by 3 inches lasted only 19 seconds. The one that struck Sendai, Japan in 2011 and caused failure of the Fukushima nuclear power plant lasted 24 seconds.

The New Madrid produces thousands of small earthquakes a year. Many of them too small to be felt or noticed. However, it also produces a few decent sized ones every decade or so. The recent earthquake in Tennessee was caused by a shifting of the Tennessee/Georgia plate and therefore not activity specifically related to the New Madrid fault. It was a 4.4 and lasted less than 20 seconds.

However, the New Madrid might be due. A large earthquake – a magnitude over a 6.0 has not hit since the quakes of 1811-1812. Since the 1980s, earthquakes with a magnitude of 4.0 or higher have become more common along the fault line. And experts have been predicting a big one for as long as I can remember.

On a side note, I have experienced a 5.3 magnitude earthquake along the New Madrid. For a year between the spring of 1982 and spring of 1983, I lived in New Madrid, Missouri. In September 1982 (I had just turned 2 years old to give you an idea of why I don’t remember it), a 5.3 with an epicenter south of the small city of New Madrid struck during the night. Neither of my parents remember it. Interestingly, while researching my article on the Little Ice Age, I found a newspaper article discussing the 1982 quake in southern Missouri. One of the items discussed in the article was that concrete that had been poured the day before, had not cured before the earthquake hit and had to be demolished and re-poured. There was a legal battle regarding who would pay for the additional materials and labor to redo the job; the city of New Madrid, the Missouri Department of Transportation, or the company who had poured the concrete.

Climate Change

The 1300s were a really crappy time in human history. The Black Death was sweeping through Europe and Asia. Feudalism was still the predominate system of government, most people didn’t bother to name their children until they were teens and then let their children pick out their own names because child mortality rates were so high. To that dreadful list, you can add a miniature ice age.

Yes, I really did say a miniature ice age. It lasted about 500 years and then we nearly entered it again in the 1920s. The Earth doesn’t just orbit the sun creating cycles of seasons, it orbits in an elliptical manner at a tilt. The result is that roughly ever 2,000 years sees a miniature ice age in the northern hemisphere with a coordinating one in the southern hemisphere that do not hit at the same time (as only the north or the south can be tilted away from the sun at one time).

This mini ice age, known as the “little ice age” is a contributing factor to mortality rates of the Black Death, the plague that did significant damage to human populations in the 1300s and 1400s. The problem with finding the “end” of the “Little Ice Age” is that some natural disasters influence climate significantly. We can say for sure that by the mid-1800s, the Earth had tilted back so that the Northern Hemisphere was getting warmer again.

Famines began in the late 1200s, due to shorter growing seasons and colder temperatures in the northern hemisphere year round. Famines make people more susceptible to diseases and generally poorer health, meaning the strong able bodied populations that would have had much higher survival rates when the Black Death arrived, weren’t there.

There was a severe period of cooling in 1769 and 1770. Which contributed to the Great Famine of France that lead to the French revolution in the late 1780s.

The 1800s brought more complications, because Earth can be a bit fickle. The 1810s saw a series of large natural disasters, including earthquakes and powerful volcanic explosions. The earthquakes leveled towns and the one that hit along the New Madrid fault line in 1812 was so powerful, the Mississippi River ran backwards for several days. However, earthquakes don’t contribute to ice ages that honor goes to volcanoes. Ice samples from the Antarctic and Greenland shows that a massive volcanic eruption occurred around 1808 that caused enough ash to be flung in to the air to create the coldest decade recorded in history to that point – ie: a nuclear winter at the tail end of an ice age caused by tilting of the Earth on its axis.

This eruption was followed by several others between 1808 and 1816. In 1815, Mount Tambora had an eruption that was twice the size of the eruption of unknown origin in 1808. 1816 is known as the “Year Without A Summer.” A second nuclear ice age then occurred during the last years of the Little Ice Age. By the 1810s, the Earth would have been in the process of tilting back to the benefit of the northern hemisphere. Emphasis on should have been, as I lied earlier without realizing it….

I said earthquakes don’t contribute to ice ages, but that isn’t entirely true. Strong earthquakes can change the alignment of Earth on its axis. In 2010, an earthquake in Chile shifted the Earth on its axis by 3 inches, which doesn’t seem like much, but actually shortened the length of a day in the Southern Hemisphere by 2 seconds. It was an 8.8, the third strongest ever recorded in history. In late 1811 and early 1812, there were three earthquakes that shook the New Madrid fault line in the USA (northern hemisphere). The smallest is estimated at a 7.8 and occurred in January 1812. The largest was an 8.8 in February 1812. It is this quake that made the Mississippi River turn against its normal flow. On top of making the Mississippi River run backwards, it created a lake, and there were fissures that ran up to five miles long in the bootheel region of Missouri. It is impossible to imagine these 3 powerful quakes did not shift the Earth’s axis at least a little bit, given their magnitude, depth, and location (all of them happened in nearly the same location of Missouri, even though the fault runs into Tennessee, Kentucky, Arkansas, and the southern tip of Illinois).

While we don’t have proof, it seems likely that the powerful New Madrid earthquakes shifted the northern hemisphere a couple of inches further away from the sun, further shortening already shorter days due to the tilt of the axis during this normal orbit variation. That is coupled with 2 volcanic eruptions (in 1808 and 1815) that caused nuclear winters. Thereby extending the Little Ice Age longer than what the natural axis tilt would have created.

The Mystery of the Color Blue

When you read a lot of ancient texts (and I have for some reason), you come to realize that no civilization before the Middle Ages has a word for the color “blue.” The Ancient Greeks, Romans, Hebrews, Egyptians, Chinese, Sumerians, Phoenicians, none of them had a word for the color blue. It is one of the more strange things in human history.

Homer described the sky as bronze. The sea as white and more oddly, he described sheep as white. So for some reason, Homer believed sheep and sea water were the same color and that this color was significantly different than the color of the sky. Now, if it were only Homer who made this strange color pronunciation, we’d chalk it up to Homer having some visual color issues.

But it wasn’t just Homer. A Chinese poem dating from the late BCE era describes the sky as “red like blood” during the day. Okay, that’s an issue. And the water was green, like grass. Now, I occasionally have trouble in paintings distinguishing grass from water, it depends on the shades of green and blue used, pastels are the devil in my opinion because I have issues separating color shades and hues. However, only at dusk and dawn have I ever thought the sky and blood were the same color.

Egyptians described the noon day sun in Egypt as yellow as the sand beneath their feet. Well that’s interesting. So we have bronze, red, and tannish-yellow, and one more reference, that of the ancient Japanese who described the sky during the day as white, like sheep, and they believed the sea that surrounded them was green. To Egyptians, all water was black.

It’s not just that none of these civilizations described the sky as blue that’s weird, it’s that water and the sky weren’t the same color. The ocean has basically been the same color for eternity. The Nile can be a muddy mess during flood season, but the Mediterranean is a fairly stable and consistent color, like an ocean.

I’ve read theories that say the ancients just didn’t care about being specific in colors and I’ve read theories that say the ancient civilizations of the world couldn’t see blue. I agree more with the second theory, that for whatever reason, they couldn’t see blue. As someone that struggles with shades of color, I can see how blue might look green. Bronze, yellow, red, black, these are slightly harder for me to understand, but only because I’m a modern human who sees blue.

The reason I don’t buy the first one is because many Greek philosophers did describe rainbows, sans the color blue. And they could see purple… Many things are described as purple. Purple is one of those iffy colors for me, sometimes I see it great, but if something red or blue is nearby, the color appears to match either the red or the blue, not a shade of purple.

Perhaps, the biggest twist is that in 2,500 CE, Egyptians were making blue pigments, but they weren’t described as blue, they were described as the same color as jewelry, in Egypt this could be either gold or blue, as both metals were imported and mined in Ancient Egypt.

My inability to see shades is a problem with the eye structure (cones and rods) as well as a neurological issue about the interpretation of color in my brain. I’m not color blind, I’m shade deficient. Strong colors overpower the “shades” of lesser colors. Impressionist art is my nemesis. Those paintings are like those hidden pictures that have to be seen with relaxed eyes. Monet and Renoir are the worst in my opinion, their dependency on shading using mostly pastels makes my brain short circuit as I struggle to decipher the green and blue blobs. This deficiency is why I hate most art, just FYI.

Oh, the Middle Ages and the sudden appearance of the color blue. Medieval literature suddenly contains references to the color blue. The sky is blue during the day. Clean water is blue during the day. Several important things happened during this time, one being The Black Death. The plague that swept Europe during the early Middle Ages was a highly contagious form of bubonic plague. It killed off more than half the population of Europe. We often forget to mention that it started in Asia and killed about a third of Asia’s population.

One cannot ignore the influence this massive human bottleneck in genetics had on later populations. There were fewer genetic mutations in the human genome being spread around. So it is possible that whatever gene prohibited the ancients from seeing the color blue was eradicated by the Black Death.

And there was Genghis Khan. We think he was born around 1162 CE and died in 1227 CE. We don’t have a firm birth date for him, just an approximation. Same with his death. Roughly, 0.5% of the world’s current male population is descended from Genghis. This doesn’t seem like much, until you start to realize that means during the 1300s, the percentage was probably much higher. It isn’t impossible that some mutation in Genghis’s genes were responsible for the sudden appearance of the color blue. And as his genes became more and more diluted by breeding with people not related to him, the genes were passed to more and more descendents. It’s nearly impossible to guess how much of the world’s female population is descended from Genghis Khan, but again, in the 1300s it would have been a significant amount. Making it not impossible that Genghis Khan’s prolific breeding played a role in the arrival of the color blue.

However, humanity has also undergone several “big bang of the brain” events during the course of human history. Since color is both a physical and mental understanding, it seems plausible that some sudden expansion of the brain’s capabilities made the color blue happen in fairly recent times (700 years ago is really the blink of an eye in historical terms). We don’t know what triggers these sudden expansions of brain capabilities, we only see it much later. I’ve heard that the last 150 years of human history, may in 500 years be another such “big bang of the brain” event as we have more than quadrupled our technological achievements in the last 150 years, compared to the slow progress made in the centuries before it. In 1869, it took 8-10 hours to travel 60 miles by horse and we can now do it in under an hour by car (in 1929 the Duesenberg Model J could travel up to 73 mph and was the fastest car of the time that wasn’t a race car, it was popular enough that F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote one into the possession of Jay Gatsby in the Great Gatsby).

That last part does influence my thoughts on the color blue. If, as some suspect, we are experiencing a “big bang of the brain” event, it is possible that in 100 years, people will be asking why we didn’t write about Color X, a color that none of us have ever seen, because our brains can’t interpret the color as it stands now.

Ritual Dreams

Ritual Dreams will be written by the end of January as long as I can write 400 words a day. So far so good on it. I put 2,000 on it Monday night. It is scheduled to go to the editor in mid-February and release on April 1, 2019.

Pre-Orders are available (links below).

A few things to know about Ritual Dreams. It does involve ritualized sexual abuse, nothing that I get into details about though. Even I have my limits and severe mental illnesses beyond ASPD and BPD.

That paragraph above is part of the reason it has taken a year to write. I realized I needed to learn more about cults and broke out the research, even interviewing one of my readers who grew up in a cult (turns out I have 5 readers that were raised in cults, which is kind of unsettling).

The mental illness I picked was incredibly complicated to write, both from the perspective of the person that has it and as someone who didn’t have a ton of experience with it in real life. And since I did pick a mental illness as a complication of my killer, I had to get those parts right. I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I hadn’t given the mental illness every bit of authenticity I could muster.

Every time I wrote one of the Killer’s Chapters, I had read and scrutinize it and then do it again a few days later. And then I had to find ways to discuss the illness without info dumping, which was exceptionally hard as there was a lot of information that needed to be included.

Of all the killers I have created, this one is the scariest and most sympathetic in my opinion. As Ace dealt with her own existential crisis of not being able to just label the killer a “bad guy,” I had to overcome some of my own demons. And I had to struggle to make Ace not feel sympathy towards the killer, since she is supposed to be incapable of such a complex emotion.

There were nights I went to bed and dreamed of the killer. There were days I stared at a killer’s chapter I had just written and agonized over whether it was “accurate enough.” Then there were other times, I just stared at the blinking cursor and wondered “what the hell was I thinking to tackle this?!”

But once the Lyrica was out of my system, the writing was so much easier. And so much more concise or as concise as any Cain novel ever is, she is rather wordy even in her thoughts.

Before There Were Romans

I talk about the Egyptians and Romans quite a bit, but before the Romans rose to take over the Italian peninsula, there was another civilization, the Etruscans. The Etruscans are a bit of a strange civilization. They occupied northern Italy and southern France where the two modern day countries meet. They later period of Etruscan history was heavily influenced by the Greeks. That in itself isn’t strange, but one would expect them to speak a form of Greek or maybe a precursor for Latin, given they were absorbed by the Roman Empire. Nope, they spoke a form of ancient Finnish.

The Etruscans are a bit like the Sea People, we suspect they came from the colder regions of northern Europe, but we aren’t sure why they arrived where they did and what civilization looked like for them before they arrived in the warmer climate of the Mediterranean. But the Sea People are tomorrow’s post.

The Etruscans had a highly advanced civilization, including a complex religious structure and worked with metals that most civilizations weren’t working with yet. They did not leave massive stone monuments, but they did leave some amazing pottery and other luxury goods. As a matter of fact, Etruscan pottery was so revered that after the rise of Rome, tradesmen who worked in pottery and understood how to make Etruscan earthenware, could and did ask for much higher prices.

Etruscan weaponsmiths were said to make the finest weapons of the Roman empire. Etruscan art and weapons were in such high demand, that their stuff can be found from Italy to Iraq and along the north of Africa. As a result, the Etruscans were a fairly wealthy civilization, as nearly every early civilization traded with them.

Yet their language is decidedly not a Mediterranean language. It is so closely related to ancient Finnish that modern Finnish and Etruscan share words. The civilization lasted less than 2,000 years, which is the blink of an eye for Mediterranean civilizations.

Despite their short time, they heavily influenced art and weaponsmithing of the time. Etruscan art whether it’s pottery or statuary is still a sought after commodity by museums and collectors. And is still said to be some of the finest ever produced.

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