Aug 19

My novel WETBONES is now an AUDIBLE BOOK

Clive Barker on WETBONES: “John Shirley is an adventurer, returning from dark and troubled regions with visionary tales to tell. Wetbones is a wild and giddy ride, confronting the reader with marvels and horror in equal measure.”

The WETBONES audiobook is one click away at:


Aug 19


There are so many canaries in so many coal mines.

This summer, I’ve noticed only a small fraction of the butterflies we used to have. Last year, experts said butterfly populations have dropped by fifty per cent. Half. Around here it seems less than half. Honey Bees also–very few here. There used to be a grand summer buzz of bees. Not now. Down 40% since last year, the experts tell us. Even the hardy, ubiquitous wasps are few. I’m not fan of wasps but it’s spooky when they vanish. Frogs are vanishing from creeks. I could quote dire statistics on sea mammal deaths. Whales, dugongs, sea lions. Salmon are dying from the  heat increase in northern seas. Here’s the latest headline from the American Association for the Advancement of the Sciences: “Neonicotinoid insecticides cause rapid weight loss and travel delays in migrating songbirds”…What do you suppose that augurs for songbirds? Well I’ll tell you.

All this is caused by habitat loss, anthropogenic climate change, pesticides, too much land given over to industrial agriculture and meat mega-ranches, herbicides –which harm more than weeds–and other wonderful innovations of humanity. A new giant plastic garbage patch has turned up in the North Sea. Oceanic Dead Zones proliferate. Recently rain and snow has been found to be suffused with tiny plastic particles. Plastic particle pollution is found  in “extreme concentrations” in the Arctic, I read. NINETY PER CENT of fish stocks are used up. “Bird population in steep decline in North America” the headline says. Today the Washington Post reports that North America has lost three billion songbirds. That’s got bird numbers down 29%. Scientists blame habitat lost first, then pesticides, then cats.

It’s all the same cause–humanity. No, more specifically, human greed.

Greed! Greed is behind the mindless use of pesticides, and herbicides; it’s behind the fires in the Amazon destroying the forests needed to clean the air, and destroying the animals, the butterfly and bird habitats there; it’s behind denial about greenhouse gases causing climate change; it’s behind over-fishing and the over-production of plastics and the destruction of habitats needed for …butterflies.

We humans are interconnected with the animal world. I wonder who’s next?

Me? You?

You may as well take another Prozac and turn on the latest tragic superhero fantasy. What else would you do?

Aug 19

Climate Change? Ha ha, they said, most amusing.

 “A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded. He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater. I think that’s just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it’s a joke.”

Soren Kierkegaard, Either/Or pt. 1 

(Thanks to Jim Baldwin for the quote).

Aug 19

You Can Buy Your Way Into Seemingly Respectable “News Articles”

First, let me say that, generally, CNN is all right with me. It gets crap for hasty pieces, at times, and it’s not the deepest news source in the world, but I think it’s doing a service in exposing–through legit journalism–the bizarrities and the malfeasance of the Trump administration. Maybe that effort was galvanized when CNN was widely criticized for giving this dangerous buffoon too much exposure, and thus helping him get elected. Fine.

But they and other formerly legit sources of what should be objective data seem to be selling advertisements disguised as news articles without one hint that they’re not real, apart from the obvious puff-story content of the articles about some consumer product. Did I say seem? It’s almost certain–and seems obvious they’re going too far with monetizing their news site. Check out this article: https://www.cnn.com/2019/08/12/us/chick-fil-a-mac-and-cheese-trnd/index.html – headline is: “Chick-fil-A adds mac and cheese to the menu”. And the article says, “America’s favorite restaurant chain just added to its menu for the first time in three years. As of Monday, Chick-fil-A offers macaroni and cheese as a side option nationwide.” That’s what the whole damn article is like. There’s also a remark about the fine customer service at the restaurant. There are a few rosy statistics about the company to help disguise the puff piece as a news article. And that’s it. NOWHERE does it say that this is paid-for, that this is advertising. I assume it’s paid for with a fee, or with lots and lots of ad buys or both. Either way, this appears to be a paid ad, pretending to be a news article. Now…

Here’s a phrase you might not know. We seldom hear it now: Journalistic integrity. It’s supposed to be a mainstay of American journalism–the line you don’t cross. You don’t write puff pieces; instead, you write objective news articles, objective reviews, objective journalistic copy. That helps America stay healthy.

We’ve lost touch with that. The other day CNN had an article entirely about Wal-Mart having changed the color of its employee vests. Oh the wide-eyed wonder of that information!

John Oliver just reported that the Guinness Book of World Records–once a legit form of journalism–now quietly takes big fees, up to the millions, to say that this or that country has the world record for something. And he observed that many of these cash payouts to the Guinness Book company are from murderers who just happen to be the dictators of countries known to have no appreciable human rights. Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia, among them. The leaders of those countries have people “disappeared” when it suits them.

The old, fun book of world records, which did have integrity, is now a thing of the past. Because they had to monetize it to the point of insane greed. To the point of being utterly free of ethics and decency.

How long before CNN takes money from wealthy dictators for puff pieces? They’ve opened the door to dishonesty, so it could happen.

Aug 19


As of August 9, 2019, 538’s calculation of polls reveals that 42.1 per cent of Americans approve of Trump.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump boasted in a published memoir that he seduced his friend’s wives.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump boasted to People Magazine that he was having affairs throughout his early marriages and intimate relationships.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump author of “The Art of the Deal”, lost more than a billion dollars in ten years, and had four of his companies declare bankruptcy.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump’s companies have been cited for 24 violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act since 2005 for failing to pay overtime or minimum wage.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump was sued 3500 times, or that hundreds of the lawsuits were for refusing to pay contractors and employees.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump has a long history of personal racism including refusing to rent to black tenants and lying to black applicants about whether apartments were available.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump set up a fake university and had to pay a 25 million dollar settlement for defrauding students.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump partied with Jeffrey Epstein, a man who’s been convicted of multiple counts of sex with underage girls and who is being prosecuted for sex trafficking and rape.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump was notorious for insisting on coming into the dressing rooms of beauty pageant contestants to ogle them while they were undressed.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump can be heard on tape saying, “…when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump illegally paid off a porn star with campaign funds, to cover up his casting-couch sexual tryst with her.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump has a white supremacist on his staff , that he said many of the neo-Nazis at protests were “fine people” and that he said Mexican immigrants were “rapists”.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump instituted a policy of tearing immigrant children, including toddlers, away from their parents and jailing the parents and children separately, in bad conditions.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump has been caught baldly lying literally thousands of times while President.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump has been clearly shown to have lied about the nature of immigrants who were in the caravans coming to seek asylum in the USA.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump has expressed admiration for dictators who’ve had people brutally killed.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump was cheerfully elected with the help of a foreign power.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump chose cabinet members whose stated desire was to destroy the agencies they were appointed to head.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump’s campaign chairman was sentenced to seven and a half years in prison for financial crimes, and that four other close Trump associates have pled guilty to federal charges.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump is being investigated regarding accusations he directed an illegal hush-money scheme to silence other women who said they had sex with him while he was married.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump is being investigated in light of increasing evidence that his companies have been actively laundering money for Russian oligarchs.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care that Donald J. Trump has cancelled our nuclear arms treaty, giving Russia a free pass to build up nuclear weapons.

42.1 percent of Americans don’t care about the hypocrisy of Donald J. Trump’s companies continuing to hire undocumented workers at construction sites, despite the workers being here illegally.

Aug 19

Why the uptick in Shark Attacks? Why the Increase in People Losing Limbs from Flesh Eating Bacteria?

“Two people bitten by sharks minutes apart at Florida beach” – that’s the headline. Well here’s another headline: “Thousands of whales are dying”. What’s the connection? Because we, humanity, are overfishing the ocean, and taking away the creatures sharks and whales normally feed on? Partly. But there’s more. We are all the sponsors, the promoters, the cultivators of climate change which causes widespread death amongst sea creatures, wrecking their normal ecosystems, reducing populations even more than overfishing. Climate change, which displaces and kills sea lions and seals and other prey of sharks and orcas. We’re also killing whales and other sea mammals with plastics flushed into the oceans.

More and more people are stricken by flesh-eating bacteria. Necrotizing Fasciitis. Their limbs are rotting off them because a deadly quick-acting antibiotic-resistant bacteria got into them, sometimes through a break in their skin during a visit at the beach or a lake. Some of it is spread by mosquitoes, carrying pathogens normally restricted to the tropics, moving North because of climate change–climate change caused by greenhouse-gases pumped out by human beings. Dangerous bacteria are encouraged in increasingly warm seas and beaches and in the wild; pathogens cultivated by the heat of climate change.

As for the sharks–they have to feed on something. Mother Nature apparently thinks it’s only fitting that she nudges sharks to feed on the causes of their famine.

Swimmers, surfers, more than ever attacked by sharks. Rotting whales piling up on our beach.  People are getting sick as never before from ordinary contact with the wild.  We get the oceans and the beaches we deserve. And today, a new headline. This is for real, from KHOU 11 in Crystal Beach: Shark bite victim is now fighting flesh-eating bacteria.

Jul 19

“Mitch McConnell is a Russian Asset”

Mitch McCONNELL is a RUSSIAN ASSET the Washington POST rightly declares. How’s that? Read all about it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/mitch-mcconnell-is-a-russian-asset/2019/07/26/02cf3510-afbc-11e9-a0c9-6d2d7818f3da_story.html?utm_term=.488226ed2b90

Jul 19

“Dad, what’ll Climate Change do to me and my kids?”

Well, son, it’s going to be very rough for you and my grandkids. It may be too late to do much about it but we have to try–we have to work hard to mitigate the effects of climate change; plant a trillion trees (not a joke!) and do everything possible to reduce greenhouse gases. But it’s too late to stop the worst of it. The massive displacement of populations, the destruction of agriculture, the spread of pandemics, the explosive social chaos… I think humanity will have to suck it up and face a dominoes-falling series of inexorable climate change effects, which will probably reduce global population by 20 to 35 % in a frighteningly short time, and which will put such a strain on resources, especially food, our tendency in desperate circumstances to fall into the sheltering arms of autocracy will take hold like mold in hot wet places and we’ll tumble headlong into techno-fascist plutocracy of some kind. And since the ground has been prepared for hyper, brutal centralized control (as opposed to intelligent centralized government), and you have Putin smirkily saying that “liberalism is over in Europe”, an uneasy configuration of competing plutocracies seems inevitable.

And we have to hope that humanity will learn. That we’ll clean up our environment, overthrow the coming dictatorships, that we’ll come to respect nature, that we will learn to respect — and demand–education for everyone and that we build a new world worth living in. I’ll be gone by then. But you, your kids and your grandchildren have to be ready…

Jul 19

ALL HANGY – a short story co-written by John Shirley and Rudy Rucker

This story is found in its entirety at Flurb, Rudy Rucker’s online zine. Here’s the opening of the story–to read the rest, click on the link and scroll down and down…

“But you said you were gonna jump off the bridge, didn’t you, Roberto?” Breeze sounded like a girl doing a funny imitation of a guy, but that was just her voice.

Roberto hugged himself against the cold morning wind and glanced sideways at Breeze. Her long hair streamed from behind, over the railing, as if trying to get down to the cold gray sea. They were on the sidewalk of the Golden Gate Bridge, leaning on the rail, looking at the wrinkled chaos of the bay waters below. Tourists chattered behind them, endless traffic roared by on the metal-grated road. In front of them lay the void, just one vault over that rail.

“Um—yeah,” said Roberto. “Eventually might do it. Today we’re only reconnoitering. I’d want to be stone cold sure I have my moves right—so I end up all hangy. And, I’d want you to film me. This should be a big media event.”

“Camera’s ready,” said Breeze, pulling her cellphone from her jeans. “I’ve got hi-def video in here, and I can upload it wireless to my website. Go on and jump, Roberto. You told me you were all set to flip your, uh, dimensional entanglements? So…”

He wasn’t sure if she really wanted him to take the risk—or if she was trying to get him to see how dangerous the whole thing was. But she had that camera, and the green light was on.

“I’m not ready after all,” he admitted, looking down with a shiver. The bay was so very far below. A container ship slid under the bridge, bringing cars from Korea. “They say if you hit the water from this high up it drives your leg bones into your chest.”

“But you’d twist yourself into being all hangy before you hit the water,” said Breeze in that low voice of hers. All hangy was the term people were using for the new phenomenon.

Read the rest of the story (free!) HERE.

Jul 19

Are Home Fireworks a Real Exercise of Patriotism?

I enjoy a community celebration of July 4 with professional fireworks carried out with oversight, and for a relatively short period, at a fairground. But this annual celebration in our neighborhood of the sonic brutality of a war zone, carried out willy-nilly by the astoundingly selfish, is not an exercise of patriotism. It may not be legal in your town; in our town they have BIG fireworks that they blow up on the street, or in their yards, that they fire into the sky over our rooftops, making BIG noises, and so many people do it, so very loudly, it really does sound like artillery in a war zone. And goes on for hours.

A real exercise of patriotism would be actual military service; would be running for office; would be volunteering to make the country a better place by doing a good deed for a veteran, or volunteering to help homeless veterans, or registering people to vote. It would be helping out at a foodbank, or tutoring children who need help, or having a reading in the great works of American history. Why not do those things on July 4? Maybe a reading from the Constitution or the writings of  Jefferson or Lincoln… Creating ugly flashbacks for vets with PTSD is not patriotic, however. Terrifying small children and pets and people prone to anxiety for hours on end, is not patriotic. Robbing the elderly of sleep is not patriotic. Getting drunk, eating carbonized meat, and–by example– teaching small children that explosives are not dangerous, is not patriotic. It’s not unpatriotic. It’s just irrelevant. . . Associating home fireworks with certain political points of view is not only not patriotism–it’s childish and uninformed. . .

I’m a patriotic American. If the country is invaded by an enemy army–or thrown into chaos by a seditious militia–I will volunteer to fight off these threats to America. But I choose not to torment my neighbors, those stricken with PTSD, innocent pets, the weary elderly, or infants, with the annual, absurdly mindless use of explosives.