Mortal’s Tale Told in Bones and DNA #poem #poetry #archeology #history

I just read at a poetry slam, having reworked a previous poem quite a bit. Hope I didn’t read too fast! I’m always a bit nervous. Anyway, here it is:

Trojan HeroesTroy, the fabled city
where gods and kings made war,
contains a buried story
less epic
than its famous lore.

Damage to the joints and spine
from working in the fields,
malnutrition and disease,
less noble but more real.

They suffered from a different strain
than found
in modern distribution.
Eight hundred years is
a long time
in microbe evolution.

One sad story’s told in bones,
a memoir in DNA.
Infection struck an unborn child,
stole mom and babe away.

What poems are writ to infants lost?
Who sings of nameless death?
In Trojan ground, a mortal’s tale
of pain and loss
was left.

Kate Rauner

Inspired by archeology.


Best-selling or First-Time Author’s Book, Delightful or Depraved, How to Post Your Review in 3 Minutes #review #bookreview #read #novel

writea review infographic

Start with one of my books 😉

Every new author is told reviews are vital. Reviews let readers find your book. Especially on Amazon, Apple iBooks, B&N, Kobo, and other stores, but also on blogs and social media. Don’t be intimidated – you don’t need to recap the story or make a project of it. Here’s an infographic on how to write a review in 3 minutes!

Support an author you’ve discovered. You’ll really make someone’s day.

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If It’s Astonishing, Conspiracy, Depraved, Insidious, Fantastic, Unbelievable – Engage Brain Before Retweeting #fakenews #fake #science #psychology

False Bell Pepper Meme

Now, think about this claim. A pepper is, botanically, a fruit

Fake news and social media are in the (real) news these days, mostly in opinion pieces. But science has something to say too.

The reason fake news works is because we’re human.

Avoid temptation to shift the blame elsewhere… Even if we solve bots and the foreign interference problem, it wouldn’t solve the problem of online misinformation.

False news spreads faster than true stories, and it’s because of humans, not bots, according to a new study published today in Science. Our preference for novel news, which is often false, may be driving our behavior. axios

Researchers had a lot of data to work with – more than 4.5 million tweets between 2006 and 2017. They used six fact-checking sites (including two of my favorites, Politifact and Snopes) to determine if an item was true.

They found false stories traveled faster, farther and deeper into Twitter than the true kind. True stories took six times as long as false ones to reach 1500 people. And, false stories were 70% more likely to be retweeted.

We humans are programmed for this. I’m reminded of the notion that, if our ancestors believed there was a lion rather than wind behind rustling grass, they lived to have offspring who led to us. Our brains find it safer to believe something that confirms our fears, and so we share the item.

I suppose when you’re not constrained by reality, you can more easily contrive fun, exciting click-bait. The study says novelty grabs us, and something you never heard before is (at least on Twitter) more likely to be false. Who doesn’t love to be the first in their group to learn something new? And share it with friends?

If you’ve tut-tutted over claims about male and female bell peppers, or Mars will appear the size of the full moon tomorrow, or rumors of gang initiations that kill innocent people, or pizzagate – well, it’s just human nature, and you’re human too. It takes effort to engage all that lovely pre-frontal cortex, but please do.

BTW, before “fake news” was such a popular phrase, we had

Truthiness, the belief or assertion that a particular statement is true based on the intuition, without regard to evidence, logic, intellectual examination, or facts. Truthiness can range from ignorant assertions of falsehoods to deliberate duplicity or propaganda intended to sway opinions… [The word] satirized the misuse of appeal to emotion and “gut feeling” as a rhetorical device. wikipedia

Some Mushrooms in the World Drive You Crazy – but insect feasts are the target #poem #poetry #poems #mushroom

Many kinds of mushrooms
Occupy the lands,
Genetics lets a scientist
Distinguish distant aunts.

Perhaps a virus grabbed some genes,
Transferred them here from there.
Horizontal gene transfer
Could explain this share.

‘Cause more than once these fungi
Have made a wild find,
Psilocybin chemicals
That alter human minds.

But that can’t be the reason
‘shrooms would develop this,
They sure don’t care if you or I
Are sent upon a trip.

What good does psilocybin do
For a mushroom fighting rivals?
Suppresses insect appetites!
Ensures its spores’ survival!

Kate Rauner

Since highs are often associated with the munchies in us humans, I thought it was funny that this chemical might suppress appetite in bugs. Thanks to livescience for this hypothesis, and also for an article on the possibility that psilocybin may relieve depression in cancer patients.

Psychoactive mushrooms grow around the world

Psychoactive mushrooms grow around the world

Interplanetary Diplomat Tackles Conspiracy on Dystopian Worlds #scifi #sciencefiction #review #bookreview

Does your reading get repetative? Does scifi feel like the same handful of galactic wars and teenage battle-games over and over. Read an indie author with a different perspective. Here are two books by EJ Randolph, an author in my own little town of Silver City, that offer optimism with their action. I bet there are authors in your town, too, you’d enjoy reading.


Scifi by EJ RandolphWhen a bucolic agrarian world seems too serene, its people too complacent, there’s bound to be trouble. Sent on an apparently simple mission, diplomat Kate Stevens is soon fending off attempts on her life and digging into the royal family’s intrigues.

I enjoyed exploring the society with Kate and discovering both the good and bad. She’s a straightforward hero with an admirable team and spaceship to help her. They puzzle out what’s happening on this world where the end of trade with other planets means a technological slid backwards. Was that bad luck or sabotage? And will the elite kill to protect the answer?

The Dead Don’t Believe

scifi by EJ RandolphInterstellar diplomat Kate Stevens faces another puzzle. Three primary colors and three basic geometric shapes – what can the people hoisting them intend? And why is their planetary government willing to declare war over the movement? Joined again by the crew of spaceship Miss Appropriation, Kate travels to a new Federation planet to find out.

While rebellion and interplanetary war threatens and there’s plenty of action, Kate’s commitment to doing the right thing is the core of the story. It’s fun to find a scifi book with a unique view of societies as humanity colonizes the galaxy. There are also illustrations that my e-reader displayed very nicely.

Help an indie out! Leave a review, especially on Amazon (which is the Big Dog in book sales.) Like many indie authors (including me!) Randolph is just starting to accumulate reviews. Here are a few of the comments:

  • She and her courier crew avoid lethal violence to bring harmony back to a broken society

  • I read the book in one sitting until late at night. I don’t often do that.

  • I liked the allusions to history, and to ethnic backgrounds.


Teens Battle to the Death in Ruthless Dystopian Games – Latest Big Hit Contribution to the Genre #review #bookreview #dystopia #scifi

Teen Dystopian BookRed Rising is in the scifi/fantasy dystopian genre – the sort where teenagers fight and kill each other in “games.”  Like other stories in this genre, adults are generally corrupt or ineffective. The genre favors medieval sorts of weapons with flashes of high-tech and high-fashion. The main character must win the game to maneuver into a position to topple the evil society. You may think this has become predictable stuff, but Red Rising by Pierce Brown is phenomenally popular.

The story delivers all the requirements of the genre, and grandly. The underdog hero, Darrow, is a Red slave in a society of many rigid classes ruled by the Golds. He chooses to join the game to give meaning to his murdered wife’s death, bravely suffers a dreadful preparation, and doesn’t really know what he’s getting into. There’s lots of violence and suffering by all involved, more than any one of us could endure because the characters are supermen and superwomen.

Darrow repeatedly ruminates about his lost love, which drives him and makes him unwilling to settle merely for revenge. He feels guilt over some of the terrible things he must do to win and sometimes suffers consequences. He makes and loses friends and enemies. The story is well done and doesn’t devolves into merely a video game plot.

At one point I was getting a little tired of the violence, and laughed out loud when a character said that he was getting tired of the game. How about that – an author who can read my mind.

What others are saying
There are always some negative reviews. Darrow’s ruminations strike some as “rehashing” and “tedious.” Others noted this is more of a fantasy than hard science fiction (though the scifi genre has been stretched into fantasy forever.) The book is set on Mars but there’s only one grim element that says “Mars” to me – the planet’s been terraformed, so the story could have been set almost anywhere.

Others disliked similarities to previous popular dystopias. “I am very bothered, and even distracted… because it is following The Hunger Games in 2008 and Divergent in 2011 and Red Rising came out in 2014 which wholesale loots plots and character arcs from the previous two books.” Joel De Gan.

The comparison wouldn’t bother the author – the Amazon description brags about the similarity to Ender and Katniss.

My bottom line.
I’ve read enough stories in this genre lately, and that may blunt my opinion. I’ve read that scifi is always about us today, so they make me wonder – do teens and twenty-somethings see school as an arbitrary game imposed on them by callous adults? And the real world on the other side of school as grim and rigged?

Red Rising is well done and if you’re looking for this sort of story, you’ll love it.

Colossal Jupiter Losing One Genuine Attraction – a hurricane that will not be forgotten #Jupiter #planet #space #poetry #poems

Since the sixteen hundreds
Science inspired poetry by Kate RaunerA giant storm has raged,
Largest in the solar system,
One Jupiter has made.

A swirling gale that could
Swallow our Earth whole.
Jupiter’s Great Red Spot
Is known to one and all.

A vortex lasting centuries
Can’t go on forever.
Two hundred years have seen it shrink
By half, in Jove’s great weather.

And still receding slowly,
So in a decade or two,
It could become the Great Red Ring
That memory carries through.

by Kate Rauner

“The GRS [Great Red Spot] will in a decade or two become the GRC (Great Red Circle). Maybe sometime after that the GRM, by which he means the Great Red Memory.”