Thursday, November 29, 2018

New Book Announcement

The Detective’s Last Case by Gerald Lopez

Now available

With retirement looming, the detective gets a call from someone he can’t refuse. He takes on a final case in an idyllic seaside town where strange things are taking place. This includes a murder he’s been hired to investigate. But add in a lover not seen for years, a couple of bizarre sisters, and some children in distress and the detective has his hands full.

Available at


Friday, November 23, 2018

Movie Review - Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

My partner and I saw the original film - "Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them", and found it to be at once clever, funny, and extremely entertaining.

Because of our enjoyment of the first movie, we were looking forward to the sequel.  Sadly, we were deeply disappointed, and came very close to walking out a couple of times before it finished.  The only thing that kept us in our seats was the huge amount of money we'd laid out for tickets to the 3-D version.

The movie seldom made sense, and even when it did, it was only marginal.  Johnny Depp is a highly overrated actor, and he seemed to be sleepwalking through this, hit latest role.

It is my understanding that this sequel was number two of a planned series of five films.  Needless to say, we won't gamble hard earned dollars on the rest of them.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Great Sci-Fi Series - "Taking Shield"

Taking Shield is a Science-Fiction saga by Anna Butler spread over five books.

Earth's last known colony, Albion, is fighting an alien enemy. In the first of the Taking Shield series, Shield Captain Bennet is dropped behind the lines to steal priceless intelligence. A dangerous job, and Bennet doesn't need the distractions of changing relationships with his long-term partner, Joss, or with his father-and with Flynn, the new lover who will turn his world upside-down. He expects to risk his life. He expects the data will alter the course of the war. What he doesn't expect is that it will change his life or that Flynn will be impossible to forget.

Shield Captain Bennet is on Telnos, a unpleasant little planet inhabited by religious fanatics and unregistered miners running illegal solactinium mines. It’s about to be about to be overrun by the Maess. Bennet’s job is to get out as many civilians as he can, but the enemy arrives before the evacuation is complete. Caught in a vicious fire fight, Bennet is left behind, presumed dead.

His family is grieving. Joss, his long-term partner, grieves with them; lost, unhappy, remorseful. First Lieutenant Flynn has no official ‘rights’ here. He isn’t family. He isn’t partner or lover.

Returning to duty following his long recovery from the injuries he sustained during the events recounted in Heart Scarab, Shield Captain Bennet accepts a tour of duty in Fleet as flight captain on a dreadnought. The one saving grace is that it isn’t his father’s ship—bad enough that he can’t yet return to the Shield Regiment, at least he doesn’t have the added stress of commanding former lover Fleet Lieutenant Flynn, knowing the fraternisation regulations will keep them apart.

Working on the material he collected himself on T18 three years before, Bennet decodes enough Maess data to send him behind the lines to Makepeace, once a human colony but under Maess control for more than a century. The mission goes belly up, costing Albion one of her precious, irreplaceable dreadnoughts and bringing political upheaval, acrimony and the threat of public unrest in its wake. But for Bennet, the real nightmare is discovering what the Maess have in store for humanity.

It’s not good. It’s not good at all.

 returning to the Shield Regiment after his rotation out.

On Gyrfalcon he faces up to the fallout from Makepeace—ethical, political and above all, personal. Will he be able to accept necessity: that knowing what the Maess are up to outweighs the humanitarian issues surrounding the prisoners he rescued from Makepeace? Can he ride out the political furore that follows the loss of the dreadnought Caliban? How will he cope with an entire year of serving under his father, Caeden? And worst of all, how in the name of every god in the Pantheon can he stand to see Flynn every single day, with the Fraternisation Regs standing between them and keeping them apart?

It will be an interesting year. Bennet can hardly wait for it to be over. Of course, things never really do go to plan...

In less than a week, Bennet will finally return to the Shield Regiment, leaving behind the Gyrfalcon, his father, his friends… and Flynn. Promotion to Shield Major and being given command of a battle group despite the political fallout from Makepeace the year before is everything he thought he wanted. Everything he’s worked towards for the last three years. Except for leaving Flynn. He really doesn’t want to leave Flynn.

There’s time for one last flight together. A routine mission. Nothing too taxing, just savouring every moment with the best wingman, the best friend, he’s ever had. That’s the plan.

Bennet should know better than to trust to routine because what waits for them out there will change their lives forever.

Here's a link to where the books may be found on Amazon.Com:

Saturday, July 14, 2018

New Book by Etienne Now Available


A new novel by Etienne is now available on both Smashwords.Com and Amazon.Com


When the apocalypse happened, it was nothing like anyone expected. Josh Reynolds has to find a way to survive when all the computer chips in the world stop working. But he doesn’t have to do it alone. He has his man by his side, and together they can overcome all odds.



Purchase from Smashwords.Com: 

Purchase from Amazon.Com: 







Friday, June 29, 2018

New Book Available by author Gerald Lopez

Gay Forever After (A Jerry Tale)

by author Gerald Lopez is now available on both Smashwords.Com and Amazon.Com.

Everyone’s looking for their own Happily Ever After in life. But helping two gay men find their happy ever after is of vital importance. The fate of the fairy tale kingdom and the human world depends on Jacob and William making a love match. The Fairy Queen will have to recruit ogres, and dwarves to help fight those against the match, such as witches, dragons, and a well-meaning preacher.



Wednesday, May 2, 2018

A New Avondale Story is on the Horizon

Coming soon

The DNA Calls it Murder

(an Avondale Story featuring George and Mike)

Chief George Martin and his detectives face a new challenge.  Whole families are being murdered, and nobody’s talking—at least until the past is brought to light.

I don't have a date to announce as yet, but the novel is well underway.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

The Shanarra Chronicles - Season One is OK, but Season Two is a disaster

Having read many of the Shanarra books years ago, I was (initially, at least) excited to see the story turned into a series; but what a disappointment.

The first three books are a trilogy, collectively known as "The Sword of Shanarra" and season one more or less follows Book Two of the trilogy.

Some of the characters are especially attractive, including, but not limited to:

Austin Butler as Wil Ohmsford

Marcus Vanco is particularly appealing as Bandon (a character that does not appear in the books):

Manu Bennett, who spent much of his time in the Sparactus series totally naked, appears as the Druid Allanon, but unlike his role in Spartacus, he's totally clothed in this series:

And lets not overlook John Rhys-Davies, who at age 73, is still going strong.  His portrayal of the elf king was very good.

The series was done by MTV, and it was obviously targeted at a teenaged audience.  Season one was decently done, but in Season two, they went off the deep end.  The end result of the story more or less matched the book, but the storyline got there in a totally different way.  Characters were added; characters were changed; and there were too many extraneous storylines added.  The story turned in to a gigantic soap opera of sorts.

The film makers bowed to the current cries for "diversity" and added a pair of lesbians, several black characters and others.  Good grief, the book has elves; gnomes; druids; demons; and what have you - it could hardly have been more diverse.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Another good one gone!

After fifty-one years of serving delicious food, Joey's Pancake House in Maggie Valley, NC closed its doors.  Its last day of business was June 13, 2017.  The owner, and widow of the founder, is seventy, suffering from health problems, and cannot do the work anymore.  In addition, she has had problems keeping the restaurant fully staffed.

 Joey's was an iconic landmark in Maggie Valley, and it was always full of hungry people, with many more waiting outside.

Farewell Joey's - we will miss you.






Monday, March 5, 2018

New Book available from author Gerald Lopez

City of Dead men is a sequel to Gerald Lopez's second book, "Dead Men Tell Tales."

Things in the town of New Eden have been quiet, but that’s about to change. Ken and Mason have been living happily together raising their two adopted sons. But police officer Ken’s new case will affect those he loves, including Mason. New people have come to town—some good and others bad. Familiar characters face big changes in their lives even as others are fighting for survival. And everything leads to the mysterious city of dead men.

Now available from Smashwords and Amazon?

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Scientist Rebukes Hysteria

The next time you see one of those scare headlines about global warming, take it with a grain of salt, and remember this article written by a man who leads the Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Australia and has authored over 100 scientific papers.

Around the world, people have heard about the impending extinction of the Great Barrier Reef: some 133,000 square miles of magnificent coral stretching for 1,400 miles off the northeast coast of Australia.

The reef is supposedly almost dead from the combined effects of a warming climate, nutrient pollution from Australian farms, and smothering sediment from offshore dredging.

Except that, as I have said publicly as a research scientist who has studied the reef for the past 30 years, all this most likely isn’t true.

And just for saying that – and calling into question the kind of published science that has led to the gloomy predictions – I have been served with a gag order by my university. I am now having to sue for my right to have an ordinary scientific opinion.

My emails have been searched. I was not allowed even to speak to my wife about the issue. I have been harangued by lawyers. And now I’m fighting back to assert my right to academic freedom and bring attention to the crisis of scientific truth.

The problems I am facing are part of a “replication crisis” that is sweeping through science and is now a serious topic in major science journals. In major scientific trials that attempt to reproduce the results of scientific observations and measurements, it seems that around 50 percent of recently published science is wrong, because the results can’t be replicated by others.

And if observations and measurements can’t be replicated, it isn’t really science – it is still, at best, hypothesis, or even just opinion. This is not a controversial topic anymore – science, or at least the system of checking the science we are using, is failing us.

The crisis started in biomedical areas, where pharmaceutical companies in the past decade found that up to 80 percent of university and institutional science results that they tested were wrong. It is now recognized that the problem is much more widespread than the biomedical sciences. And that is where I got into big trouble.

I have published numerous scientific papers showing that much of the “science” claiming damage to the reef is either plain wrong or greatly exaggerated. As just one example, coral growth rates that have supposedly collapsed along the reef have, if anything, increased slightly.

Reefs that are supposedly smothered by dredging sediment actually contain great coral. And mass bleaching events along the reef that supposedly serve as evidence of permanent human-caused devastation are almost certainly completely natural and even cyclical.

These allegedly major catastrophic effects that recent science says were almost unknown before the 1980s are mainly the result of a simple fact: large-scale marine science did not get started on the reef until the 1970s.

By a decade later, studies of the reef had exploded, along with the number of marine biologists doing them. What all these scientists lacked, however, was historical perspective. There are almost no records of earlier eras to compare with current conditions. Thus, for many scientists studying reef problems, the results are unprecedented, and almost always seen as catastrophic and even world-threatening.

The only problem is that it isn’t so. The Great Barrier Reef is in fact in excellent condition. It certainly goes through periods of destruction where huge areas of coral are killed from hurricanes, starfish plagues and coral bleaching. However, it largely regrows within a decade to its former glory. Some parts of the southern reef, for example, have seen a tripling of coral in six years after they were devastated by a particularly severe cyclone.

Reefs have similarities to Australian forests, which require periodic bushfires. It looks terrible after the bushfire, but the forests always regrow. The ecosystem has evolved with these cycles of death and regrowth.

The conflicting realities of the Great Barrier Reef point to a deeper problem. In science, consensus is not the same thing as truth. But consensus has come to play a controlling role in many areas of modern science. And if you go against the consensus you can suffer unpleasant consequences.

The main system of science quality control is called peer review. Nowadays, it usually takes the form of a couple of anonymous reviewing scientists having a quick check over the work of a colleague in the field.

Peer review is commonly understood as painstaking re-examination by highly qualified experts in academia that acts as a real check on mistaken work. It isn’t.  In the real world, peer review is often cursory and not always even knowledgeable. It might take reviewers only a morning to do.

Scientific results are rarely reanalyzed and experiments are not replicated. The types of checks that would be routine in private industry are just not done.

I have asked the question: Is this good enough quality control to make environmental decisions worth billions of dollars that are now adversely affecting every major industry in northeast Australia?

Our sugar industry has been told to make dramatic reductions in fertilizer application, potentially reducing productivity; our ports have dredging restrictions that threaten their productivity; scientists demand that coal mines be closed; and tourists are scared away because the reef is supposedly almost dead – not worth seeing anymore.

Last August I made this point on Sky News in Australia in promotion of a chapter I wrote in “Climate Change: The Facts 2017,” published by the Australian free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

“The basic problem is that we can no longer trust the scientific organizations like the Australian Institute of Marine Science, even things like the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies … the science is coming out not properly checked, tested or replicated and this is a great shame because we really need to be able to trust our scientific institutions and the fact is I do not think we can any more,” I said.

The response to these comments by my employer, James Cook University, was extraordinary.

Rather than measured argument, I was hit with a charge of academic serious misconduct for not being “collegial.”

University authorities told me in August I was not allowed to mention the case or the charges to anybody – not even my wife.

Then things got worse. With assistance from the Institute of Public Affairs, I have been pushing back against the charges and the gag order – leading the university to search my official emails for examples of where I had mentioned the case to other scientists, old friends, past students and my wife.

I was then hit with 25 new allegations, mostly for just mentioning the case against me. The email search turned up nothing for which I feel ashamed. You can see for yourself.

We filed in court in November. At that point the university backed away from firing me. But university officials issued a “Final Censure” in my employment file and told me to be silent about the allegations, and not to repeat my comments about the unreliability of institutional research.

But they agreed that I could mention it to my wife, which was nice of them.

I would rather be fired than accept these conditions. We are still pursuing the matter in court.

This case may be about a single instance of alleged misconduct, but underlying it is an issue even bigger than our oceans. Ultimately, I am fighting for academic and scientific freedom, and the responsibility of universities to nurture the debate of difficult subjects without threat or intimidation.

We may indeed have a Great Barrier Reef crisis, but the science is so flawed that it is impossible to tell its actual dimensions. What we do know for certain is that we have an academic freedom crisis that threatens the true life of science and threatens to smother our failing university system.

Professor Peter Ridd leads the Marine Geophysical Laboratory, James Cook University, Australia and has authored over 100 scientific papers.