The Death Eaters were Right about Purebloods

In J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the bad guys prefer ‘pureblood’ wizarding families to half-blood or Muggle born wizards. And that makes them bad and prejudiced, according to the book’s author. But the plain fact is, the Death Eaters were right. Pureblood wizarding families ARE better.

Wizarding ability is inherited through the genes, and there is no clue in the series that the essential wizarding genes behave differently from other genes. When a wizard marries a ‘witch,’ the offspring can inherit magic from both sides. When he marries a Muggle (non-magical person), the children can only get magic from the one parent.

It is possible for a wizard to be born from Muggle parents, but that is very rare. One may assume, though, that in half-blood marriages between wizard and Muggle, there are a lot of non-Magical children born.

Wizards don’t want to die out. It’s clear that if most or all wizards reject the ‘pureblood’ prejudice and marry Muggles freely, the number of wizard-gifted children born grows smaller and smaller, and the Wizarding world might well shrink.

The prejudice against Muggle-born wizards may have its basis in facts. Do Muggle-born wizards have as many wizarding genes as the average pureblood wizard? Probably not! They are lucky to have any wizarding gift at all! They are a needful addition to the possibly-shrinking wizarding world, but they are more likely to have squib children.

Of course, these days wizards can figure out which genes are connected to wizarding, and figure out who has which genes. A marriage to a Muggle who has some wizarding genes isn’t as bad as one to a Muggle with no wizarding genes. And a pair of pureblood wizards might have very different wizarding genes and not be able to pass on the traits well, while a different pair might be destined to produce strongly gifted children.

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They Won’t Tell You This About YA Fiction

YA fiction, or Young Adult fiction, is a weird category. First, the name. Not for adults, but for children. In fact, since the typical YA protagonist is 16, the category is clearly for kids younger than 16. (Kids tend to think they are more mature than their years. Kids that read usually actual are.) So YA is aimed at kids in the 12-14 year age group.

Also, for most fiction you have to ‘sell’ the book to the actual readers. In YA, there are other people you have to ‘sell’ it to.

For mainstream YA, you have to ‘sell’ the books to public school teachers and school librarians. Your book must have content that they approve of. These days, the YA gatekeepers talk a lot about ‘diversity’ and want gay and ‘transgendered’ characters, but that’s not the most important thing. Number one is that you must promote a positive attitude towards (public) school, learning, reading and the like. No books with lead characters who are suspicious of schools and literacy!

For Christian YA— Evangelical, Catholic or other— your job is to ‘sell’ the book not to the kids, but to parents and grandparents. Many of a Christian YA books’ sales come from parents and grandparents giving gifts. Some of these books will never get read by the actual child who receives it!

For this reason, Christian YA books must not only be Christian-wholesome, they must be perceived as such by parents and grandparents. If the grandparents are old-fashioned about things like minced oaths or about Christian characters dancing, drinking alcohol, or owning a pack of playing cards, those things must be excluded from your book for it to sell well.

But for a YA book to do really well, it must also be thrilling enough to get young readers excited when the book finally gets to them after teacher or parent approval. We can do that, can’t we?

KetogenicLife: The 6 Lamb Chop Man

Back in the good old days when the ketogenic diet was called ‘low-carb’ or ‘Atkins,’ the nay-sayers were convinced that low-carb didn’t work. They were fanatics about the (already disproven) calorie theory, and so they felt that if anyone lost any weight on low-carb, it was because they were eating less calories.

Dr. Robert Atkins, in ‘Doctor Atkins’ Diet Revolution’ (1972) tried to show that was not so. He gave several examples of people who ate quite a lot of calories on Atkins, but few carbs, and lost weight.

In the chapter ‘You Will Never Feel a Hunger Pang,’ in that first Atkins book, we read the story of Marc Eletz. Marc ate a lot. He ate enough for four people, and when asked why, he said “Because if I ate enough for three people, I’d still be hungry.”

On Atkins, Marc ate only two meals a day. Supper was the big meal for him. He ate large quantities of meat. One typical meal was six lamb chops with salad. Others were 7 frankfurters with sauerkraut, or two dozen spareribs, steak, cheese and salad. And he lost 100 pounds on that diet.

Another heavy-eating example from the Atkins books ate 4 pounds of meat a day— which would be about 5000 calories a day. Since a strict weight loss diet might be 1000 or 1200 calories a day, he should have gained weight. Instead, he lost 50 pounds.

Now, with all the vegetarian/vegan misinformation floating around these days, I’m sure many people won’t even try to eat the meat quantities these men did while on keto. Maybe if they switch to carnivore for a while…. The thing is, though, meat is what humans eat, and meat heals.

One reason the Atkins diet worked for so many people was that if you had eaten all your carbs for the day, there was still a lot you could eat in the form of meat. You never had to sit around hungry, knowing you had to wait to eat until the next day. I am not sure if the new vegetarian form of keto will have the same benefits, because there ARE no zero carb vegetarian foods. So you probably remain hungry on that keto diet.

KetogenicLife: Reduced Carb Pita Bread

One tough thing about keto is the lack of bread. We can’t have the sandwiches we are used to, and we have nothing to put cheese and ham slices on. Or tuna salad.

There are home made work-arounds that are better for you than the reduced carb breads and tortillas, but as we get older and can’t cook as much as we used to, or as we get too busy to cook a lot at any age, we need to find some ready-made foods we can work into our ketogenic lifestyle.

I recently bought some Joseph’s Flax, Oat Bran and Whole Wheat Pita Bread. One pita is 10 grams total carbs, and 4 grams dietary fiber, which makes it 6 grams net carbs. Doable, for most of us. It does contain wheat flour and wheat gluten, and soy ingredients, so if you can’t eat those items this bread is not for you.

I found it is a little more delicate and tearable than regular pita bread. It’s tasty enough, and I’m sure you can use it for all sorts of sandwiches, including grilled cheese. I made myself a peanut butter sandwich with the bread and it was quite good.

Reviewers on Amazon have suggested storing the bread in freezer or refrigerator so it will last longer. I ordered 3 packages of 6 pita breads and will be preparing most of that for the freezer today. The bread I bought had a spot of mold on some of the breads, but I cut that out with a knife. Good reason, though, NOT to store it at room temperature or in the fridge for long periods.

I liked the bread well enough that when this batch is gone I will likely be buying more. It’s not low-carb enough to be able to eat it without rationing, but it’s filling enough and it makes for some easy meals.

Keto Podcast — I’ve been listening to the 2 Keto Dudes podcast and highly recommend it. Find it at: http://2ketodudes.com/

How to Visit and Comment on Other Blogs

#FixThatBlog series

One of the most recommended acts in curing ‘Ghost Town Blog Syndrome’ is to visit other blogs and comment on them. I’ve heard of one now-noted blogger who visited 100 blogs a day and commented before his blog took off. Many blogs have the problem you do with not-enough-blog-visitors, every comment, as proof of a visitor, is welcome.

Many bloggers have the custom of clicking on the link of every visitor and trying to visit their blog to leave a comment. That custom is almost an expected rule of politeness in some blogging circles now. So visiting and commenting on other blogs will lead to visits and comments on your own.

Do you really have to comment on 100 blogs a day? That’s actually far too many. Setting a high goal like that can lead to leaving weak comments like ‘nice blog’ or ‘interesting.’ Such comments are not much better than no comment at all.

When you visit another blog for the first time, take the time to look around. What does the blogger blog about? Does he have links to his Twitter and Facebook? (Click the links, and follow the blogger.) What are some unique things about the blog?

Then read the top blog post carefully. Slowly. Don’t just skim. Before you comment, THINK! How has this blog post helped you? Entertained you? Amused you? Made you laugh? When you craft your comment, keep these things in mind. You want to post a comment that is specific to that particular blog post in some way.

A blog comment should not be too short, like ‘nice post’ or ‘very helpful.’ It should also not run on too long. A shorter paragraph is about right.

What if the blogger says something horrible? Like ‘abortion is doing God’s work’ or ‘Hitler was too kind to the Jews?’ Arguing back or even turning to insult make make you feel better, but it won’t help get your blog visited— unless you make the insulted blogger decide to come to your blog to insult YOU.

The best response to finding an offensive blog post is to not reward the blogger with a comment. Don’t report the blogger and try to get the blog shut down— remember, freedom of speech— unless there is kiddie porn involved.

If you must comment on a blog post you don’t agree with, don’t be hostile. “Bless your heart” is a good, non-hostile comment that can express disagreement. Or “I see that you are very passionate about X.”

Where do you find blogs to comment on? Try doing a search to find a directory of blogs in your niche. This may give you a whole list of blogs to visit. Make a point of visiting the smaller, less visited but still active blogs. Those bloggers will be the most grateful for your visit. Also make a point of visiting the ‘big boys’ in your blogging niche and commenting there.

WordPress has a blog reader function and it’s a good idea to add your favorite blogs out of those you visit to the list. Then, make sure you read your collected blogs regularly. If you comment regularly on one specific blog, you may make a friend of the blogger involved. Besides gaining a new reader, there are many ways this can help your blogging efforts. For example, the other blogger may share a link to one of your blog posts in his blog post. Through the magic of the internet, links like that make your blog a bigger deal.

What about blogging events? There used to be a great many ‘blog hops’ and people could find a blog hop in their niche, participate, and get to know other bloggers that way. I was involved in a few blog hops like that in the day. They usually have a linky— a list of participating blogs— and you are usually expected to visit a certain number of the other participants.

There aren’t so many of these blog hops any more, but they can be well worth doing. For author bloggers, the Insecure Writers Support Group is a great place to start. There is a long list of participants, and many of them do visit other blogs. I would suggest that since there are too many blogs for most people to visit, do some blogs from the top of the list and some from the bottom, and maybe a few from the middle as well.

Assignment: visit 3 other blogs today, and comment. Do the same thing tomorrow and every day. 3 blogs is nothing, compared to doing 100 a day and other insanely daring plans. Only 3! But your blog will thank you for it.

“There is no Such Thing as the One True Way”

In Mercedes Lackey’s Valdemar books, the land seems to have a law or motto: ‘There is no such thing as the one true way.’ This is popular enough— I would imagine the typical neopagan reader interprets it as a hit against those hateful and hated Christians— but does it make any sense?

As a general rule, the motto, as it asserts that either there is no such thing as truth, or that it is unbearably rude to stand up for the truth when someone might have a contrary opinion, kills off any hope of scientific advancement or rational discussion.

Imagine the situation when someone who believes in a flat Earth (or Velgarth) meets someone who believes— or has personally observed— the roundness of Earth or Velgarth. Because ‘there is no such thing as the one true way’ neither can enlighten the other without breaking the law.

In our world, there are people who believe that autism is often caused by modern vaccines, and others who believe modern vaccines never cause autism. As a sensible person I believe the ‘cure’ for that is more research, and better reporting of adverse effects of vaccines. But according to the Valdemar rule, both sides of the vaccine issue have to keep silent because ‘there is no such thing as the one true way.’ Or a true answer to a dispute that could be solved with scientific research.

It’s obvious, though, that the Valdemar rule is aimed specifically at religions, or perhaps only at theistic religions. No religious group is allowed to claim that their religion might be true. What effect would that have on religions in the real world? Could a religious group pass on its faith to the next generation if they were banned from talking about truth or reality? Wouldn’t all religions tend to die out under such a law?

And the kingdom of Valdemar makes a lot of use of religions in order to provide social services at low or no cost to the state. In Haven, the capital, the schools not only have the task of educating the children, even poor ones, but they distribute state-provided free food to hungry poor children. A religious order was also used to wall up a woman who wanted a Valdemar Herald punished for killing her son. That story did not mention whether the sisters were to be paid for turning their convent into a jail.

But there is one religion that would be very comfortable with religions without truth. Not any ancient kind of paganism— they also thought their religions had truth on their side— but modern neopaganism.

Having actually been a neopagan and having read a lot of books about it, I know that there were a lot of people who embraced neopaganism and even started neopagan religions or Wiccan traditions who stated openly they didn’t believe it was true. They talked about neopaganism’s aesthetic value instead— in other words, it was a pretty lie. Some early neopagan leaders made claims about having a family tradition of neopaganism or Wicca, and later admitted that wasn’t true. They just said it to get attention and followers, and because others were saying similar things at the time.

How well does this non-true neopaganism work out in real life? Well, they sell ‘magick’ books. But have you ever seen a Wiccan or other neopagan temple being built in your town? They can’t gather enough people together to collect money to create a physical presence anywhere. And if they do manage to create one, will their groups last as long as a local Presbyterian church will last? Do neopagans who don’t believe their religion is actually true have the willingness to work and sacrifice and donate and attend services to make their non-true religion a reality in the world? Why would they care?

“There is no such thing as the one true way” may sound cool and anti-Christian to modern ears, but in the fantasy kingdom of Valdemar, it’s an expression of tyranny. If religions can’t speak about their faith’s claim to truth, and can’t transmit any evidence for that truth to their future generations, religions will die out. And Valdemar seems to depend on being able to use-and-abuse religions for the state’s needs.

Which is probably why the tyrannical law came into being. I would imagine that Valdemar looks the other way when priests or lay person surreptitiously whisper to children and new converts the evidence for their faith. If someone starts preaching it on the street corners— as the early Christians did at Pentecost— they will be punished, if only to keep the religions scared and obedient to the state. But I believe that the government of Valdemar is glad that the majority of their people don’t really believe ‘there is no such thing as the one true way.’

FTB: Syndicating Your Blog to Facebook or Twitter

#FixThatBlog

If your blog lacks readers in spite of the fact you are regularly posting, one thing you can do is syndicate your blog to your Facebook and Twitter accounts. That means, share each post to Facebook and Twitter as it is made. This gets more traffic to your blog posts. Your blog gets read, and you might gain a few regular readers.

WordPress makes it easy to syndicate to both. It’s right there when you are writing the post! And you can add hashtags and such to make your post onto Twitter and Facebook better and more likely to be read, discovered or shared.

Blogger takes more work— you have to either manually share in both places, or you have to use something like Buffer to do the work.

To share on Twitter, you need a Twitter account, and you need to build up some followers. NEVER buy followers. They won’t do you any good anyway. The best way is to adopt the rule of ‘following back.’ When someone follows you, unless they are clearly ladies in the prostitution industry or other bad apples, follow back. If any of them start posting crap to your feed, you can always unfollow.

Then, check out hashtags related to your blog’s niche or your books’ genre. Follow some of the people who post using the hashtag. Most of the people you follow will follow back, unless they are the Pope or something.

On Twitter, don’t just share your blog post. Retweet other people’s good stuff. And just say stuff. Especially if you can be amusing or witty or weird. Don’t abuse your twitter feed by posting links to your books, one after another, every minute for an hour. If you have to post multiple book links, use a service like Buffer to space them out. And post other stuff too!

On Facebook you have a decision to make. Do you post your content to your personal account? Your author page or author fan group? Some other group? I personally don’t post to my personal page any more. My blood relatives— the ones who still speak to me— are my Facebook friends. I syndicate to my author page (find it in the sidebar) and sometimes to a group of mine. If I post on a man-woman marriage related topic, I post it to my marriage page.

Some authors have more than one Facebook account, so they can freely use one of their accounts as an author page. But Buffer now no longer syndicates to personal pages, so you may need a FB author page or author fan group in order to use Buffer.

On Facebook, you also need to get a following. For a Facebook author page, that means getting people to ‘like’ your page. On Facebook, you don’t always know when someone has ‘liked’ your author page, and you can’t necessarily ‘like’ their page back if they ‘liked’ you with their personal account. And you want everyone, even fellow authors, to ‘like’ you with their personal account so that your page’s postings will show up in their feed.

Like Twitter, you want to share items from other people. You should have ‘liked’ as many author pages as you can— there is a list of Facebook author pages on this blog to get you started— and if an author shares a bit of news or an amusing observation, consider sharing it. Also share amusing memes if they are on topic. And anything related to your niche/genre. Since cats are my thing, I shared it when the famous Grumpy Cat died.

When I look at my stats, I often find I get some of my blog’s visitors through Facebook or Twitter. I think this syndication is worth doing. and so I mean to continue. Even a very few extra visitors add up over time.

Do you syndicate your blog posts to Twitter or Facebook? Has it worked for you? Let me know your experiences! 

Nissa Annakindt’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/nissalovescats

Nissa Annakindt’s Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/nissalovescats/