on dogs, chickens, and suburban sensibilities.

There’s a WaPo article in our local fish wrapper about the law regarding dogs who kill poultry. Current law allows for farmers to shoot dogs caught in the act of killing their poultry, and the article had a decidedly…oppositional slant. It tells the story of one Alan Taylor, a real estate developer who brought his two dogs to a farm with him on some business. He let his dogs roam free while chatting about planting grapevines (the article calls the dogs “pups”, even though the accompanying picture shows two fully-grown setter-type dogs in the 40-50lb. range), and they got shot while killing some farmer’s chickens. Both dogs survived, but the vet bills ran over $3,000. The author of the article is very sympathetic toward the dog owner, referring to laws that allow farmers to shoot livestock-killing animals as the “doggie death penalty”.

What really ticked me off about the article was the following quote from the dog owner:

“The simple solution for a rational person is to pick up a phone, but what this law allows people to do is to pick up a gun.”


Look, I own dogs, and I own chickens. I understand that your dogs are your companions, and I’d never shoot someone’s pet unless it was in the act of chewing on my kids or killing my animals. But you, sir, are an irresponsible asshole.

The simple solution for a rational person?

Let’s see here and take this simple solution step by step.

There’s a ruckus outside, and when I go to check, I see two dogs in my chicken coop, killing my laying hens. (Two dogs of any size can kill the entire flock in moments. Chickens don’t have much in the way of martial prowess.)

The simple solution (rational person and all that) is for me to run out there, try to separate two riled-up dogs in a killing frenzy from my birds without getting bitten in the process, then check for the tags they may or may not be wearing, keep them away from surviving chickens while I call the number on the tag, hope that someone picks up, and then secure two strange dogs until their owner can show up and collect them?

In other words, the onus of dealing with the situation falls squarely on me, and I should deal with it in the manner you deem rational, despite the fact that it’s your irresponsibility that caused the problem? You are responsible for your animals, and if they run free without supervision, anything that is done by them or to them is squarely on your head, not mine.

“Oh, but they’re just chickens, you stupid trigger-happy country bumpkin. You can just get new ones.”

Even assuming that you’d actually be willing to own up to your dogs’ trespassing and livestock killing instead of just going “Nuh uh! Wasn’t mine! Hank and Boo wouldn’t harm a fly!”, those chickens represent a higher dollar value than even that vet bill you had to pay. Sure, the chicks were maybe two bucks a piece, but I had to build them a coop ($1,000), a covered run ($1,500), and then feed and take care of them daily for months and years. (Care to add up the labor and feed costs for our flock of seven after two years?) And you can’t just replace them on the spot because you can only get new chicks or pullets in the spring, so I’ll be out my investment and the money for all the eggs the hens would have laid in the future, had they not ended up as Hank and Boo’s chew toys.

I love dogs, and I’d be very, very hesitant to shoot someone else’s companion animal and would never do so without severe emergency. But letting your dogs roam free in farm country and then getting pissed off at others for dealing with the results of your irresponsibility in the most expedient and least expensive manner is not rational.  The rational thing would be to keep your damn dogs under control. I love my dogs just like Mr. Taylor loves his, but if I allowed them to escape the property, and some farmer down the road killed them while they were busy slaughtering his laying hens, I wouldn’t blame him in the least for shooting them to prevent thousands of dollars of damage to his poultry. I certainly wouldn’t get all in a huff and cry to the newspaper lady about rational people and the “doggie death penalty.”

nothing to hide, nothing to fear, part MCVIII.

Feds seek contractor to build federal license plate reader database.

Remember: if Team Us does it, it’s a sensible national security measure, and if you oppose it, you’re a paranoid nutjob and/or want the terrorists to win. If Team Them does it, it’s a totalitarian police state measure, and if you support it, you’re a fascist pig and/or hate America, freedom, and apple pie.

a snow-related math problem.

Marko’s garage roof is a flat surface of 75×25 feet.

If there is a uniform snow layer of 2.5 feet thickness on the roof, a cubic foot of lightly compacted snow weighs 15 pounds, and Marko just removed all that snow with nothing but muscle power and a goddamn snow shovel,

a.) How much snow deadweight in pounds did Marko just shovel off the roof?

b.) How many Tim Tams at 95 calories a piece does he need to eat now to replace the calories he just burned shoveling all that motherfucking snow?

c.) How goddamn sick of the snow is Marko at this point?

d.) How soon can Marko relocate the denizens of Castle Frostbite to a new domicile in the more temperate climate of, say, western NC?

Bonus question:

If Marko jumps off the roof into a snowdrift to save himself the climb down the ladder on shaky legs, his idiocy causes him to sink up to his chest into soft powdery snow, and he needs five minutes of exhausting struggling to free himself from his entirely self-inflicted predicament,

e.) How big of a drink is Marko pouring himself right now?

automotive recommendationings requested.

One of the drawbacks of living in Upper Cryogenica is the harshness of the winter environment, especially on vehicles that never see the inside of a garage. I just had to turn the Grand Marnier over to the local car vet for an extended stay. The road salt rusted out the emergency brake system, the spare wheel release mechanism under the floor was rusted shut, and the oil pan was leaking. It wouldn’t pass the NH state inspection with a faulty emergency brake, so it had to get fixed, and I had all the rest done as well while they had the thing up on the lift. $1,000 later, I have my sticker and state permission to drive the Grand Marnier on public roads for another year.

The Dodge is a 2005 model, with pretty low mileage for an 8-year-old car (about 110,000.) It is, however, sliding off into that territory where fixing the age-related boo-boos is getting pretty spendy. In addition, the side panels are starting to show corrosion (again, liberal use of salt up here), and I am starting to wonder about a suitable replacement.

Every time I do think about a new car, I am torn between just getting another minivan because ours is just so freaking versatile, not to mention the most comfortable vehicle for those once-a-year road trips to the family down South. But I also like the idea of a smallish, fuel-efficient car for puttering around town, since I don’t use the full cargo or passenger capacity of the Dodge 95% of the time. So right now I’m waffling between a new Grand Caravan, something from the Subaru line (an Impreza or Crosstrek), a VW with TDI engine, or maybe one of those Mazda 5 microvans. The kids are getting older and no longer require a huge supply train for trips, so I don’t need the space for strollers and high chairs anymore, but it sure is handy to be able to haul furniture or plywood sheets or six friends in a pinch.

What would be a good option for a dude like myself who drives about 1,000 miles a month, has to deal with snow and shifty roads in the winter, and occasionally takes the family on 2,000-mile round trip family visits to NC and TN? Bonus points for fuel efficiency and decent interior space. Sporty pep would be nice, but it’s a secondary concern, because let’s face it, I’m middle-aged and boring now, and getting the kids to various destinations cheaply and safely has to take precedence over being able to outrace teenagers in souped-up Civics at the stop light.

Throw your recommendations at me, Internets!

from the desk etc.

It has only been out for two weeks today, but LINES OF DEPARTURE has over a hundred Amazon reviews already, which is pretty cool. There are some head-scratcher one-stars, but in general it seems to be rather well received, and reader consensus appears to be that it’s better than the first novel by a fair bit.

I’m currently hard at work on ANGLES OF ATTACK, and without dropping any spoilers, I can tell you that the fireworks in the first two were just a mild preview of the stuff I have laid out for you in this one. When it’s out, it will hopefully be received at least as well as the first two.

There are quite a few series that lost steam by the third or fifth or seventh novel and eventually read like the author was just phoning it in for the paychecks. I want to avoid that particular phenomenon. What are some of your favorite novel series where there was a steady progression of craft and quality evident as the series went along?


scalzi confesses. film at 8.



And everything he says is 100% true.

John forgot to add that he’s also part of the reason why SF/F has lots of talented up-and-coming writers. He was most generous with his time and expertise at VP XII, and so were all the other instructors. Every year, just that one workshop puts 20-some talented folks into the wild with new motivation and the knowledge that they have what it takes to get their stuff into print. WAY TO PULL UP THE LADDER BEHIND YOU.

“why had nobody thought of that before?”

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING: This post addresses a scenario at the end of LINES OF DEPARTURE, so only read past the split if you’ve read the book or don’t care about seeing the ending given away.

io9 reviews TERMS and LINES.

io9 has a fantastic write-up of TERMS OF ENLISTMENT and LINES OF DEPARTURE that is just chock-full of good quotes like this one:

Much like Scalzi’s Old Man’s War and its sequels, Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure are combat-grade Military SF, and should come with an addiction warning. Hopefully, it won’t be too long before we see the next volume of the series, Angle of Attack, which Kloos is currently writing.

Thanks for the great review, Andrew. The good news is that my publisher, 47North, moves at the speed of light compared to the rest of the industry, so if they decide to pick up ANGLES OF ATTACK, it won’t be too long before you can all get your hands on it. In the meantime, I am planning to put out some more novellas and short stories to  keep you hooked fill the gap.

lines of departure.

Citizens, rejoice! The day has arrived. The sequel to TERMS OF ENLISTMENT, titled LINES OF DEPARTURE, is now available for your entertainenings!

Here’s where you can get LINES OF DEPARTURE right now:


Barnes & Noble


Amazon has Kindle, paperback, and audio versions. B&N has the paperback, and Audible has the audiobook. There’s no other ebook format than Kindle because AMAZON, but if you don’t have a Kindelmaschine, you can read the ebook through the respective free Kindle readers for PC, Mac, iOS, Blackberry, or Android.

Go! Buy! Read! And if you like the novel and have the time and wish to help the dude what wrote it? Recommend it to others, share your opinion, and write a review for other unsuspecting victims prospective readers. I’m pretty proud of that novel, and I hope you enjoy it. Let me know what you think!