Category Archives: News

General news posts that aren’t categorized

The Automaton

July 25/22

AI Hype and Type

Having looked further into use of AI writing software used by authors, I have come to the inevitable end, which is a creeping paranoia; just how many and how much of the writing we see today is actually machine-generated? Some of the software programs cheerfully enthuse about generating blog content. Why work hard? Why work? Why? An AI program takes care of that bad thing called work. Also thinking. Also why?

AI can generate a blog post on any given subject in minutes! (Me; So then wouldn’t it be like everybody else’s blog posts?Same language, same sentence structure etc.)

But then…are all the girls on TikTok paid actresses with AI generated scripts? Are the news presenters all robots that have escaped the Uncanny Valley? Is there really a country called Ukraine? And so on.

Also entire novels! “Publish it on Amazon!”

So how many novels on Amazon are written by software programs?

One of the programs enthuses so:


—“AI novel writing software can be used for many different types of novels. For example: A Sci-Fi story set in the distant future where humans have become slaves of machines. A murder mystery taking place on an isolated island. An epic historical drama about a war that is fought between two ancient nations. Very fast and saves time.”

—“You can have a high-quality product that is also original and unique.”

—“You’ll feel more confident in writing your novel.” (Me; But I thought you weren’t writing it?)

—-“Enjoy seeing your story come to life in front of you.”

Then: more reasons to use this software:

—“It is helpful for people who have problems with writer’s block.” (Me: people who have writers block are either 1.) not writers and are writing something merely for the prestige of saying “I’m a writer” or 2.) They are writing the wrong kind of story that does not suit them.)

—“You do not need any experience in writing a novel nor do you have to write it from start to finish.” (Me; this is approaching parody and invites some sort of clever ridicule but I can’t think of anything right now)

—“Based on the information that you provide, your AI program will generate an original plot and well-developed characters.”

—-“People are using this to write books under 7 days!” (Me; I did not eliminate the ‘in’. The AI did it.)

Then, finally, it cries out, “Shout me if you need more help!”

So I’ll just leave this here.

July 24/22

Computer-generated fiction! What could be better? Think of the time you could save and the pacing up and down thinking and the thesaurus-thumbing.

I have not yet sampled its delights but I would have to start out with (click on) Hero story as opposed to (click on) relationship stories/beach reads. Then when I got to the option of Hero story I would have further options; (click) YA hero poor-with-hidden-magic-talents or military sci-fi commander or tortured-by-past hero or Empress of the Golden Plains.

And what about the dialogue? I find that intriguing. I imagine garbled AI voices as all your options implode and bot voices speak to one another, taking on lives of their own.

Lincoln Michel’s substack touches on this. His substack is called Counter Craft and it’s always interesting. The article is called ‘Outsourcing Originality’. He refers to an author that uses a program called Sudo-Write and I looked up that author’s book and it has not done well. In fact, abysmally.

So many authors that I read or try to read seem to have grown up in a netherworld of urban isolation, as if quarantined. They imagine their main characters as people who are subject to events and then have emotions about these events. Doingness or intelligent problem-solving is rare, most characters seem insolvent, in a psychological sense. It’s the fashion for victim characters, I suppose. They always seem holier and more pure than do-ers. (Using David Foster Wallace’s terminology). I wonder what Sudo-Write does with this situation.

On another substack site I came across this alarming statistic; “98% of the books that publishers released in 2020 sold fewer than 5,000 copies.”


Best seller, 9th Century

I just re-read 1984 and halfway through I grew really weary of Winston’s confused inertia. I suppose Orwell was trying to show how even the best-intentioned human being was overcome by television propaganda, but still. At any rate, I had forgotten that the girl worked in the Fiction Department.

…in Preparation for the Two Minutes Hate a girl (came into the room) whom he had often passed in the corridors. He did not know her name but he knew she worked in the Fiction Department. Presumably — since he had often seen her with oily hands and a spanner — she had some mechanical job on one of the novel-writing machines.

And It was the girl with the dark hair… as she came nearer he saw that her right arm was in a sling…probably she had crushed her hand while swinging round one of the big kaleidoscopes on which the plots of novels were ‘roughed in’. It was a common accident in the fiction department.

And …She enjoyed her work, which consisted chiefly in running and servicing a powerful but tricky electric motor. She was ‘not clever’ but was fond of using her hands and felt at home with the machinery. She could describe the whole process of composing a novel, from the general directive issued by the Planning Committee down to the final touching-up by the Rewrite Squad. But she was not interested in the finished product. Books were just a commodity that had to be produced, like jam or bootlaces.

Futureology back in the Fifties had no concept of the digital. Same with Stanislav Lem’s Solaris. But one doesn’t mind, the stories that are told are so gripping. Who cares if they were using glass retorts and paper records in the space-station labs, I for one do not. And wonderful Ray Bradbury didn’t gave a damn one way or another, he had his spacemen stepping out of their spaceship on Mars and setting up a card table on which to spread their lunch sandwiches. Probably tuna.

“Fiction being a fundamental aspect of human culture, one of the defining characteristics of humanity.”

Amazing heat wave

When there’s a drought and very high temperatures, there’s a lot more work when you’re rural. Dragging hoses around trying to save trees, keeping animals cool, keeping self cool. I had to drive to Uvalde (40 miles away) to pay my Cricket phone bill and the temperature on the highway was plain scary.

But they had the Fourth of July parade anyway.

I didn’t stay too long, it was just too absolutely crushingly hot.

I manage to keep the upstairs study cool by putting those mylar space blankets on the windows and door. Makes it dark but at least I can work. I miss my big tall windows but whatever.

I’m working on putting all the Lighthouse Island books into shape. It’s the same future dystopian world of overpopulation/drought/civic dysfunction and rigid class structure that all gets swept away by floods. There are now three books. The fourth on the way and the final one (the fifth) will be very far into the future when human population is almost nil. In the first four it’s all the same timeline, with different characters and different plots. They do run into each other briefly. The location is a future Kansas City that has spread so far with overpopulation and slums that it is about to run into St. Louis. It’s life on the hot streets, and the survival devices and joys and miseries of the poor and the semi-poor.

In the fifth book the characters of the first four show up briefly in ancient video devices.

They are: Lighthouse Island (now called At Large) 2.) The Weaponsmaker — 3.) Action Figure —4.) (working title) Quinn. The final one, (working title), The Plague.

It’s fun! Keeps me busy.

Social life goes on as always, horses and music, also planning a trip to Coatepec with my DIL Nadine and stepson Jim, that’ll be August and God knows it will be cooler than here. A great visit with the Contreras family. Coatepec is at about 3000 feet, just outside Veracruz, at the foot of El Cofre de Peyrote and not too far from Orizaba.

Happy Independence Day!

Which, for my ancestors — the Giles’, the McCords, the Dobsons and others — I imagine was an enormous relief. They probably just heard the news of Cornwallis’ surrender in Yorktown and sat down and said Thank God at last, peace. North Carolina had been ravaged and burnt by Cornwallis and Tarleton. For seven years they’d been fighting mostly barefoot, always hungry, winter-ragged, and at last it was all over.

This is a contemporary painting of the 1st Maryland Continentals fighting at Guilford Courthouse, NC. They all look pretty healthy and well-fed, which they weren’t. In fact, most of the faces all look like the same guy. The artist must have had a template for ‘resolute fighting man’ and just re-used it. Anyway, I don’t have any pictures of North Carolina troops — that would have been the North Carolina milita, and of the Revolutionary War reminiscences I have read, the NC militia were said to talk funny, most were barefoot, slovenly and tended to go home after the battle was over to take care of the farm. But they helped win the war. You’re welcome.

Heroes — Just add title

Because there are so many kinds. For a long time, in literature and storytelling in general, heroes have been missing in action as novels become less read, more interior, the fashion ambiguous and gentility the only approach. But heroes keep leaping back up and making money, considering Star Wars and the Reacher novels. And Tom Cruise, the maverick birdman. Okay so that’s a movie, so whatever.

The Heroes’ Journey has the same steps every time but a writer has to meet the challenge to make his/her heroes’ journey distinct. And write it well. Put the story on an exo-planet or in 18th Century Ohio or the streets of a city slum, but the story had best be full of details. And the hero a genuine one. The term is being thrown around constantly to include any main character at all. But it doesn’t work that way.

Heroes are frequently simplistic. They are often very crude. There’s no getting around it. But they crudely keep coming back into the human imagination and striking down demons, evildoers and the Devil himself.

(The Punisher action figure and Hercules striking down Nessus, also a punisher, both of them with clublike things.)

They become raw and unfinished and coarse when neglected. Refinement comes with attention, care, the novelist giving them a local habitation and a name. A cause, a journey and the refining fire of injury. A story, a plot, a narrative highway into the unknown. Mystery. Heroes go really well with mystery.

I know many writers feel that a story should instruct, teach, admonish, lecture, edify and improve the attitudes of the person reading. But this assumes an unequal relationship between reader and author. The author being powerful and smart, lecturing the reader who is presumed to be powerless and very dimwitted. OR — reader and author can sort of gang up and together sneer at all those others out there who don’t get it. However, the hero’s journey invites you to tag along, if you wish. If not, put the book down. I’m going someplace, I have something I have to do, you can come if you want.

This is assuming the hero of the story knows the difference between right and wrong, good and bad, chalk and cheese and does not need a biologist to tell them the difference between The Punisher and Sweet Georgia Brown. The permutations of the Hero are endless, but their appeal is powerful; thus the success of Star Wars, Harry Potter and Jack Reacher. The longing for hero stories will never die. You and I will, but the stories won’t.

Number Three in the catching-up business

June 10th myself and April and June and Evelyn hauled horses to Fort Clark, which is now a privately-owned sort of development, to stay for two nights and ride the famous Las Moras Creek, an oasis of green in a very dry land. My husband Jim’s dad and/or uncle were in the US Cavalry (I think the 112th) in the 20’s and were assigned here. I looked at some very incomplete records in the Museum in the old Guardhouse but could not find them. However, the more complete records are stored away and not available. Of course the easiest thing to do would be to simply look up their service records with the Army.

It was 103 when we got there. But we got up at about 6:30 and fed, saddled, ate breakfast and got going about 8:30 and it was alright.

It was still green even though the creek and springs had dried up in this drought — for the first time in 20 years.

April on Indira.

Fort Clark was the home of the Seminole Scouts, who included among their number four Medal of Honor recipients. Evelyn, June and April stayed in their living-quarter horse trailers and I got a room at the hotel made from the old cavalry barracks.

I like to think Jim’s dad and uncle stayed in these barracks where I spent the night with air-conditioning. And a small cat came to my door and asked to come in. It was108 F. outside. Of course I let her in. She was quite amenable and polite. She slept the heat of the day away in the air-conditioning and then asked to go outside. I am sure she found her owner/s and got her supper.

You can see the thick stone sill. It’s not a well-finished doorway but then they were lucky to get enough grant money to make comfortable rooms at all.

More catching up

A wonderful person named Susan Paddlety-Dunlap who is Kiowa visited last year and wanted to meet me because she loved News of the World — she is Kiowa and was heartened by the way the Kiowa were treated respectfully in the book, in fact she said she was quite moved, and luckily she came back this year so we all got together- Susan and myself and Auriel, at the Main Street Utopia boutique. We had a wonderful time and a great talk. Susan brought two bottles of very good wine. It was a splendid day. Susan is a beadwork artist, a pow-wow dancer and a great hand at interior decoration. She made me these children’s moccasins with the Kiowa oak-leaf symbol. She said these would have been what Cicada’s Kiowa mother would have made for her. They are just beautiful! I was absolutely blown away by this special gift.

Susan has represented her tribe at many levels with large corporations, as a beauty queen, as an interpreter of tribal life to non-natives and in many other capacities. Auriel took our picture together and after four tries I cannot for the life of me get the photo transferred from my phone to my downloads and so I have stopped tearing my hair and cursing digital devices and will get somebody else to do it for me soon. Anyway, we laughed a lot. She’s a very special person and a blessing.

Eva Lou Ware was her aunt I was happy and surprised to learn. When I was writing News of the World I searched everywhere for some example of spoken Kiowa and on the internet came across some small company that sold tapes with example sentences from everywhere in the world. And as luck would have it they did one in Kiowa! By a lady named Eva Lou Ware, as it said on the cassette, who had a rich, deep voice, and Susan said it was her aunt!

Many connections.

I finally managed a photo of the lovely Susan Paddlety-Dunlap!

Catching Up

I had a barbecue here two week ago and all the musicians came, Ashley Kay bless her little heart acted as hostess so I could talk to people and play with the band, and Ben Taylor cooked and brought friends and so the only picture I got from the whole shebang was one of the wonderful Bailey McLeod, who won this belt buckle for hog wrestling.

She said it was a very little hog. Every year they have a hog wrestling contest in the town of Sabinal, 20 miles south of here, and she went down to show the Sabinal girls how a hog should be wrestled and she won! Bailey is fifteen. Yay Bailey!

It was a great party. But you can see what the drought has done to my yard. After a while I just gave up.

Update; I couldn’t stand it. Decided to water and at least have one green, wet oasis in all this dun-colored, dusty, dead-grass dry and droughty land. This colorless land. I figured I had better do it now before we are under water restrictions. When I turn on the sprinkler the birds go mad with joy and chirp,twitter, sing and dash in and out of the sprinkler. Suddenly the trees out front are alive with birds.

And the intense colors of red and blue are a relief to the eye even if they are artificial.


Army Air Corps pilots listening to instructions shortly before D Day. They were so young. A lot of the pilots were in their early twenties.

Memorial Day

I’m one day late for Memorial Day as I always post the picture of my Dad’s second cousin, James Marshall Jiles, who was with the Texas 36th Division and was killed at Anzio Beach March 1943.

This was from a page from Cleburne High School that was published in 2020 to honor veterans. His brother D.V. Jr. made it back home.