Thanksgiving

Surely you don’t expect a full post from me today, do you?

Some things I’m very thankful for, despite the fact this has been a rocky year:

- my health seems to be improving, if not yet up to snuff

- my writing is slowly coming back (not rushing is tough.)

- Witchfinder did surprisingly well.

- The family is all healthy, and the boys are both working towards their careers/goals.

- There is indie, as well as Baen.  Baen is as always a haven and family, and indie gives me an additional outlet, as well as hope that we can turn this culture around.  (Keep working, guys.  Keep working.)

- There is still America.  Wounded, sure, and brought low, but still here and still ours.  Rebuilding is easier than inventing, and if the USA didn’t exist we’d have to invent ‘er.

- Good friends,including present company, even if most of you are probably figments of my imagination.  (You’re very nice figments.)

This link here will take you to my e-card to Hoyt’s Huns and Hoydens.  It’s a pleasure knowing you, guys.  G-d bless every argumentative one of you. You’ve got me through some rough patches and (looks at feet) I love you guys!  And for this, too, I’m thankful.

Don’t Hate Me ‘Cause I’m Human — A blast from the past post Dec. 2010

There’s this disturbing trend I’ve observed recently – okay, the last thirty years.

It’s part of what I was talking about yesterday, in a way. For a book to be considered serious, or introspective or relevant, it has to attack the past or western culture or civilization or tech or… humanity.

Not that there is anything wrong with attacking these, mind, to an extent. And they used to be shockers and a very good way to attract attention immediately. And I’m not saying the mindlessly chauvinistic “our people, right or wrong” was much better. For instance, the cowboy-and-Indian trope became really tired after a while and when my brother gave me a book called – I think – (in Portuguese translation) The Mace of War, detailing all the injustices against Native Americans it was a mind-altering experience. Literally. And very worth it. [Though I later found it was also full of politically correct made up stuff like the small pox blankets.  In fact the book might have been of the school of false-Amerindian “History” that gave us what’s his face at Colorado College.  OTOH it was a good way to make me think outside the mindless trope of afternoon serials — note from 2014 Sarah.]

I’m just saying that these days, by default what you hear is against-whatever-the-dominant-culture is.

I first realized this when I was studying for my final exam in American culture in college. The book changed opinions and contradicted itself but it was ALWAYS against the winners and against whatever ended up being the status quo. So, the book was against the North of the US, because the North… won. Even though it had before been against slavery. It was very much against modern US and raged against… embalming practices for three or four pages. (Because they divorce us from the Earth. Just SILLY stuff.)

And then I started noting this trend in everything, including fiction. Think about it. Who is to blame in any drama: the US; the successful; the British; the Europeans; the… humans.

Years ago when Discovery Channel put out its “future evolution” series, my kids and I were glued to the screen. We’re the family for whom the Denver Museum of Nature And Science is home away from home, the place we will visit if we have an afternoon free, the place where we have watched lectures and movies. I refer to it as “molesting dinos” and it’s usually my way to celebrate finishing a book.

So we were glued to the TV. Except that after the beginning, I realized the way it was going, and I started predicting it. Instead of taking a “what might humans become” the people who wrote this went down a path where first humans and then everything VAGUELY related to humans became successively extinct, till the only warm-blooded survivor was a bird, and then that too became extinct. In the end, tree-dwelling SQUIDS inherited the Earth.

Yes, you DID read that right. Tree. Dwelling. SQUIDS.

The contortions were capricious and often absurd, but you could predict where it was going.

It’s been a while since we had cable, but I understand there was a very popular series called “Life After US” about what would happen to the works of humans if we were suddenly extinct. And people watched it, fascinated and – from the tones of posts about it – a little wistful.

This is when you must step back and go “What is wrong with us?” “Is this a sickness of the soul?”

The answer? Yes and no.

Part of it, of course, is wanting to shock, wanting to revolutionize, wanting to be innovative… in safe ways – in (dare we say it?) politically correct ways. It’s easy and approved of to attack: males, America, western civ, humans.

People who select works at publishers and studios and all that are often liberal arts graduates and they come from this curious world where they still think the establishment is circa 1950s and that they’re telling something new and wonderful.

Part of it is, of course, that we do see problems in our own culture, in our own society, in our own species. Of course we do. We are an introspective culture. We examine our consciences, we find ourselves lacking, we try to improve. This is, in general a good thing – though perhaps a little perspective is also in order.

Part of it is politeness/sensitivity to other cultures, mingled with the consciousness our ancestors were often wrong. We’ve been taught the crimes of colonizers in various lands and most of those colonizers (and colonized, at least for most of us) were our ancestors. We’re conscious we’re big and others are smaller. It’s a peculiar form of noblesse oblige. We don’t want to trample others by pointing out faults in other cultures or other species. I understand this, because I learned to drive in my thirties and lived in a mountain town with lots of foot traffic downtown. I was excruciatingly careful driving through there, because I could crush a pedestrian and not notice. This is why we tend to turn our flagellation upon ourselves.

And part of it is sicker/darker. I notice this tendency every time we discuss a great figure of the past, from George Washington to Heinlein – as different as they are. I call it “counting coup.” George Washington? Well, he was slave owner. And he had wooden teeth. And Lincoln? Well, he was very ill, and besides, he was probably gay and in the closet. Heinlein? Despite all his efforts at including – for his time – minorities and giving women starring roles, he must have been closet racist and sexist, donchaknow? Because he doesn’t fit OUR superior notions of inclusiveness.

What is going on here – besides tearing at our own past, and thereby continuing the self-flagellation – is being able to prove we are “superior” to these high achievers. We might do nothing and achieve nothing, but we are superior beings because we’re more moral than they are.
Individually, none of these trends is really bad – or at least not for those of us who grew up with the opposite tradition.

Oh, the constant and predictable chest-beating becomes boring. At least it does for me. Maybe it doesn’t for other people?

But think of (grin) the children. They have no perspective. All they hear is how their country, their culture, their SPECIES is evil. How things would be so much better without us… How things would – ultimately – be much better if… THEY hadn’t been born.

It’s not healthy. It’s vaguely disgusting. And the best it can do is engender the MOTHER of all backlashes and bring about a cultural chauvinism the likes of which you’ve never seen. The worst… well, one of the other cultures we don’t criticize because they’re small and we’re big becomes the norm.

And before you cheer them on, let me put this in perspective: Western civ has committed crimes. ALL human cultures throughout history have committed crimes. Slavery? Since the dawn of time. Exploitation? Since the dawn of time. Murder? War? Genocide? Yep, and yep, and yep. And many of those cultures STILL do all of those things and don’t feel in the slightest bit guilty, mostly because we handily and frequently blame OURSELVES for their behavior and they get our books, our TV series and our movies.

Such as it is, the West has brought the greatest freedom, prosperity and security to the greatest population.

Yes, there were crimes committed, but a lot of them were the result of a clash of world views – tribalism met the state. Look, it’s not that Native Americans or Africans lived in a state of innocence and harmony with nature. If you believe that, you need to study history and put down Jean Jacques Rosseau. And get out of your mom’s basement. And take the Star Trek posters off the wall. And the Avatar poster, too, while you’re at it.

To the extent the native peoples were innocent and helpless, it was because of their mental furniture. What gave colonizers the edge was not their weapons or civilization (Oh, come on, back then, there wasn’t that much of a distance.) It was their mental furniture. To wit, they had overcome tribalism and organized on a large scale. Most of the colonized (excepting some small empires) hadn’t. So they would attack in ways that worked in tribal warfare: exterminate a village or an outpost. And the reaction of the colonizers (who by the way also didn’t understand the difference in mental furniture and therefore thought this made the native peoples’ “bestial” or “evil) was to exterminate all of a tribe or a federation of tribes. And it worked because westerners were united as a MUCH larger group. Which made them stronger. Western civilization started overcoming tribalism with the Romans. That was the real innovation.

If you think that we’re rich because of those acts, you must study economics. It doesn’t work that way. If anything those acts made all of us worse off. We’re way past any wealth we could plunder off others. We’ve created wealth. The whole world lives better than it did five hundred years ago.

And if you’re going to tell me the fact that all humans are flawed proves that we’re a bad species, you’ll have to tell me: As opposed to what? Dolphins are serial rapists. Chimps commit murder. Rats… Every species we examine has our sins, but none of our redeeming qualities.

Heinlein said it was important to be FOR humanity because we’re human. Beavers might be admirable, but we’re not beavers. He was right. But beyond all that, we’re the only species that tries self-perfecting. We exist – as Pratchett said – at the place where rising ape meets falling angel, but as far as I know, we’re the only species reaching upward. (Of course, we wouldn’t know if there are others and again, we have to assume we are it. The others have flaws too.)

We are part of the world and in it. To love the other animals of the Earth – or the hypothetical alien – and hate us is strange. Are we not animals? Are we not of the Earth? And who the heck can compete with sentients who exist only in the story teller’s imagination?

By all means, let’s protect the weaker. Let’s shelter the little. But let’s not beat ourselves because we’re bigger and stronger. Let’s USE our powers for good instead.

Am I saying that you shouldn’t tell these stories then?

No, I’m not. I would never repress anyone’s right to create, or anyone’s opinion. But I’m asking you to think. I’m asking you to pause and go “The west is bad… as opposed to? Humans are bad… as opposed to?” And tell your kids that, ask them those questions.

And then, perhaps, every now and then, try to imagine a story from the contrary view point. Just to wake things up. And to keep others thinking.

Because six decades of hating our own history, culture and species is enough.

Why brought he us from bondage?

There is a legend in Portugal, a just-so story to explain a place name.

The place is called Mira Gaia and is a place on the river shore, across which is Gaia. I say it’s a just-so story because I suspect the name comes from Roman times, when the place across the river was farms and the name is something like “farm look out point.” The Romans were known for imaginative and poetic names like that.

However, the legend goes to another time altogether. The Douro River used to separate Christian and Moor for a long time. (I don’t know how long the time was. Portuguese history is told in generalities. It’s a cultural thing.) Long enough that raids across the river were common, to capture slaves, at least from the Muslim side. (The Christians might have captured slaves too. There is talk of Moorish slaves, but again everything is fuzzy. The one thing I know for sure, because immortalized in oral history, tradition, storytelling and first person accounts, is that the Moors sent parties across the river to raid for slaves. There were admonitions specially for parties of pilgrims, never to be unprotected in certain locations.)

Before we go any further, much has been said about Islam in the “golden age” when they occupied the peninsula. It might surprise you to know that it’s been incredibly burnished. I.e. they might have allowed a little more learning and discussion of things-not-in-the-Koran mostly because these were the provinces, things were spread out and control was harder. But this was after they burned the library at Alexandria (This was the latest I heard, but in comments I’m informed it ain’t so, so we’ll simply say they burned more books than they preserved, even if they’re given credit for the later) and their general treatment of women was about the same it is today. A female pilgrim – we are to understand, not just from poems and traditions, but from first hand diaries and accounts – could be expected to be treated like the girls taken by Boko Haram. I.e., multiple rape followed by being given away in a marriage that was nothing short of slavery.

In the same way, it will shock you to know that early Medieval Christianity has been much maligned. Oh, sure, a lot of it had adapted to local customs, both in worship (which often entailed giving the local god a saint’s name) and in treatment of women (and men.) But such as it was Christianity had one revolutionary belief (gotten from Judaism, of course) in the fact that women had souls. This means that, yeah, sure, women could be coerced into marriage (they still can, given a crazy enough family and enough pressure) but not with the knowledge of the cleric performing the ceremony. I suspect 1/3 of the “she was so pious she sought refuge in a convent” were women escaping from unbearable marriages they didn’t have the strength to refuse. The convent, too, provided women not just a safe place, but a place from which to make a contribution to society. Contrary to all the films about salacious sexual exploits in convents (if those went on, they were really, really stealthy, considering that communal life in those days was VERY communal) nuns made contributions not just in arts like culinary (most sweets recipes in Portugal come from “conventual recipes”) and lace-making, but also in reading, teaching, music, and even less gentle arts like agriculture. If Feminists had an ounce of shame or knowledge of history, they’d trace their origins to convents, where women proved they could support themselves, lead decent lives and contribute to society without men.

Now, was it all roses and wine? Oh, heck no. For one, in the middle ages, and in an area where wars were ongoing, to push back the invaders to North Africa, no one’s life was roses and wine. And for another, it was a time of might not only makes right, but might has to be respected because it can protect us. So a strong knight could certainly mistreat/lead his wife a dance. Male infidelity was absolutely accepted, while female infidelity, if you were lucky, got you sent back to your parents naked and mounted backwards on a mule.

(I will here remind idiots who have studied no history that this was not because men were uniquely evil and women uniquely victimized, but because – by the dictates of biology – men needed to ensure female fidelity if they were to be sure that the child they were raising, the one who would inherit everything, was actually theirs. Women OTOH might be materially harmed by their husband’s infidelity, but not to the point of not knowing who their children were.)

Still and all, from what I can determine from having read a lot of chronicles and biographies, a Christian woman’s life was still preferable to living with the Moors, particularly living with the moors as a captive.

Also, again, I paint with a broad brush. I’m sure individuals and circumstances varied. When I was young, my dad and I were fond of exploring castle ruins (all sorts of ruins, really) which were abandoned centuries ago and had neither been archeologically studied (there’s a treasure throve waiting in Portugal if you can get to them before these sites are obliterated to put up the newest stack-a-prol apartment.

In a castle, overlooking the Douro, a castle so overgrown that you could only tell it had been there by the foundations, we tripped on a tiny tomb – enough, say, for a toddler – with both the cross and the crescent inexpertly engraved on it.

Whose it was and what it might mean who knows. It could be the child of a Moorish captive and the local Lord and the mother have demanded that both symbols be on the tombstone. It is equally easy to conjure up the idea of a pair of star crossed lovers, burying their child and for good measure protecting him with both symbols.

Suffice it to say that as everywhere where two populations are at war and separated by a narrow natural barrier (the Douro is very hard to navigate, partly because it’s shallow in places. However, for a while, in Porto, it was forded by a bridge of boats. That bridge collapsed under the weight of people fleeing Gaia during the Napoleonic invasions. There is a plaque on the side, which propagates the legend that on the anniversary you can hear the screams and cries of people drowning as the bridge collapsed. No, I’ve never been brave enough to verify it.) some humans found their own private truces, and some humans found a hell worse than the general war. The thing about humans is that they are so human and religion or culture alone is not enough to dehumanize them.

At any rate, returning to the legend about Mira Gaia, which I’m telling you, because I dreamed of it, over and over and over again last night, and I am not sure what it means, exactly.

The legend goes that on their way from their wedding fist the Lord and Lady of X were assaulted by a party of raiding moors. It is understood, though never said, that the Lord was a bit the worse for the extensive celebrations, and so the moors stole his affianced wife.

He couldn’t rest, because he loved her truly (and blah blah blah) and night and day he thought about her. So, he got word she was living in Gaia, in the palace of a Moor prince who had silken blah blah blah.

Our brave knight, upon his horse which, I doubt me not, ran more swiftly than the moonlight, made to Gaia, scaled the walls of the prince’s palace, somehow without raising alarm fought many of the guards, then finally got into the chamber where the prince was sleeping the Knight’s wife, which according to legend, had been made part of the seraglio.

The knight fights and kills the prince (and btw the area wasn’t called Gaia yet at the time, according to legend, but the knight’s wife was) and takes his wife Gaia, and bundles her onto his horse, then bundles her onto a boat.

When they’re halfway crossing the Douro, the knight notices his wife is standing at the wrong end of boat (not the prow. Name is not coming) and looking towards the place she just left, crying and sighing.

He thinks she’s sorry for having been despoiled, etc, and tells her, “Gaia, come away from there. You don’t need to remember anymore. We’ll never speak of this.”

And she says amid sighs “I am looking one last time at the place where I was so happy with the man I loved whom you cowardly killed.”

At which point the knight is supposed to have said, “Then Mira, Gaia!” (mira, meaning look in the speech of the time and I believe still in Spanish.) And he drew his sword and cut her head off in a single stroke, burying her in the river by that portion on the shore now called Mira Gaia.

Why on Earth I spent the night dreaming of this, I don’t know. Again it is almost certainly a just-so story to explain a place name after the area and the lingo changed. So why should it haunt me?

Perhaps because I’ve lately been thinking – in the context of other countries and whether it is our right or even our duty to bring them closer to liberty – about liberty and captivity and the human attraction to both in different measures.

Perhaps my subconscious was trying to communicate something – who knows?

As most of you know I’m not pro-war save in the sense of defensive wars. OTOH I know enough history to know that a situation and culture which is possessed of animus against us, and drawers at looking after its own people, might not be a danger to us now, but will be a danger to us eventually. ICBM missiles go everywhere and judging by the efforts of North Korea and Iran, they will eventually be made even by people who can’t muster making a decent car.

We live in a world that the founding fathers couldn’t fully anticipate, and the shortness of our travel times might very well make – one day – imperative that we intervene before places become a danger to us. It’s sort of like living in a neighborhood with someone who kills small animals. Are you going to sit there and do nothing as he escalates to children?

I’m an agnostic on this. I say we leave them alone (not the people who kill small animals. I’d go nuts on them. I like animals) until they’ve proven they’re a material danger to us, and then we go in and we “pacify” them. But “pacification by bombing them into the 7th century” is one thing, and does one thing – it stops them for now. It might not stop them forever.

And they are humans too, like us, and at some point one starts thinking “What if they could be made like us? Isn’t just killing them an affront to all human kind?”

Here I must take a breath. You see, I like humans. And given the choice in any situation I’ll choose life.

But the human impulse to captivity is one that can’t be ignored. It’s not really an impulse to/liking of captivity, btw. It’s a liking for security.

Once you’ve been hemmed in and confined very long, but had your food and drink on time and aren’t’ randomly terrorized every day, you equate confinement with security. You’d rather not be free, if it’s going to make you insecure. That type of culture, be it in the middle East where it’s enforced by religion, or in our inner cities where it’s enforced by culture, is hard as heck to break. Not one generation, not two.   You probably need three generations to get people to internalize that liberty doesn’t mean destruction.

In the desert, after all, the Israelites asked Moses why he’d brought them from the fleshpots of Egypt, having forgotten back breaking labor and – hard to believe – the mass murder of male infants.

IOW like Gaia in the legend, who had been captive for years, and had had status and security with her captor, this new thing, and being stolen back even if (technically, probably) to greater freedom was very scary. What if her husband didn’t really forgive her? What if he found she’d enthusiastically cooperated with her captor? That she had children by him?

One of the things of any captive people is that everyone is tainted.

It amuses me when someone traces someone in a country like Russia or China and discerns tenuous tendrils to the old hierarchy. Well, duh. The effect of tyranny is to corrupt everything it touches and society at every level.

So when we free a country, a lot of the middle class are going to be thinking “what if they find out about—” That plus the penchant for security means it’s not only a long time till liberty takes hold, it’s a tough road for the holding power.

A lot of other powers became imperial in these circumstances, occupying and taking the fruits of the land to pay for their trouble.

Americans don’t do that. They are terrible imperialists. All they want to do is go home.

This means, ultimately, that it’s a costly endeavor for someone’s benefit, as the someone is kicking and screaming and telling you they don’t want it.

The Gaia solution (which sounds like a science fiction title, doesn’t it?) is very tempting then. It also, of course, renders everything else pointless.

If one rides upon a horse swifter than moonlight (and what the heck is up with that. Since when is moonlight swift?) to rescue a people, be it abroad or in our inner cities, it is reckless stupidity not to have the fortitude of our convictions, and the certainty in our own culture, enough to then set up the conditions for them to be free and showing them freedom is exhilarating, not scary.

Otherwise, perhaps it would be best if we don’t start.

The choice might not be ours, of course. In our rapidly shrinking world isolationism is attractive and probably impossible. (Even the founding fathers had to deal with the Barbary pirates.)

But if we have to go in, then we should stay and make sure that Gaia is brought to understand what is captivity and what is freedom.

Otherwise, it will be all to do all over again.

 

 

Minds Tightly Shut — Patrick Richardson

Minds Tightly Shut — Patrick Richardson

Our friend Darkside Dave has branched out from peeing matches with his family and started one with some of his liberal friends.

See he dared to question liberal orthodoxy, namely he mentioned to them that perhaps the way out of this economic mess we’re in is to *gasp* cut spending.

Well you would have thought the world had come to an end. He was accused of everything from homophobia to wanting children and old people to die in the cold while eating cat food to miscegenation with rabid hamsters.

Dave was a bit shocked by this because he’d always believed to be liberal was to be open minded.

Well, that’s actually sorta true — provided you’re talking about classic liberalism like that of our Founders.

See the Founders were true radicals of their day. Children of the enlightenment, influenced by the likes of John Locke, they had come to believe that out-sized government power was the biggest threat to liberty and prosperity humans could face.

Mostly Christian men, they were also mostly descendants of people who’d come to these shores to escape religious persecution, so they set about to create a state in which people could worship, or not, however they pleased. Growing up as British Subjects, these men knew full well the dangers of censorship and of summary arrest, so they created a nation in which the press and the people were free to speak their minds, and where the government had to show cause why they should be allowed to arrest or search anyone. (Parenthetically, the idea of an unbiased press hadn’t even occurred to anybody at this point, every newspaper had its voice, and pursued its own political ends, a situation to which, for better or worse, we seem to be returning.)

They believed everyone should have a right to live however they want and believe whatever they want, so long as it harmed no one else — and regardless of whether they or anyone else agreed with that life style or belief.

Now, liberals and conservatives both have a little trouble with that last one, but in the end the most egregious violators of that principle are on the left. There are exceptions, but for the most part conservatives could really care less who you sleep with as long as you keep it in the bedroom where it belongs.

Contrast those classic liberals with the modern version. If you suggest that perhaps homosexual marriage is not such a hot idea and that it tends to carry with it some rather thorny problems when it’s imposed on religious institutions over their objections you’re called a homophobe.

If you have the temerity to try to have an open an honest discourse on race, you’re called a racist, even if you’re black and discussing African-Americans (I really hate that term, but that’s for another time), just ask Juan Williams.

If you’re crazy enough to suggest maybe taxing rich people who create jobs in order to give their money to poor people who don’t create anything, you’re called heartless and told you want the children to die.

If you’re like me, and your alter-ego is a member of the MSM during the day, (I’m just a caped conservative crusader in the evenings,) you can lose your job or find it impossible to get one if your political beliefs become known.

Conservatives get called every name in the book, racists, homophobes, pedophiles — you name it. We have our lives, our livelihoods and our families denigrated, threatened and destroyed — just ask Sarah Palin. We’re told we’re not only stupid, but evil. We are accused of being parochial, hypocritical, narrow-minded rednecks for the sin of — believing something different than what we’re told to think.

Withal, we mostly shrug, tell liberals “Well you’re entitled to what you believe, I think you’re wrong, in fact I think you’re stupid, but you’re entitled to what you believe.”

Often enough we then ask our liberal friend if he wants to go have a beer after work. Now tell me, which one of us is narrow minded?

Speaking Truth to Power

One of the most fascinating conceits of our ruling powerful elites — be they in entertainment, politics, governance, jurisprudence or news reporting — is the often repeated assertion of being some kind of underdog “speaking truth to power.” This comes with the concomitant illusion that anyone opposing them is paid by powerful interests.

Never mind that the ones making the accusation are usually in positions of power and receive recognition all out of proportion to their achievements, (no, really, Mr. Obama failed to deliver his first book, so they contracted for a second with an exponentially bigger advance. When he delivered an auto-biography instead of a book on race relations, it was taken and lionized. I challenge any writer/personage not of the establishment to replicate this feat.) Never mind that the dissenting voices often have to come out in less respected and far less rewarding channels, it is against those of us who speak the actual truth against those who yield actual power that the finger of mercenary interest is pointed.

To defend this absurd position, they descend to ever more recherché and counterfactual reasons as to why those who get little reward and no respect are actually the ones in power. Thus accusations of “White Privilege” are leveled against people who grew up in awful circumstances and made their own way, against people who are not in fact treated with any kind of deference and in fact against people who are not in point of fact white. And meanwhile those who side with them are considered to be “authentic” whatever the supposedly oppressed minority is.

For instance, take Mister Obama. I don’t deny that he has the outward appearance of a minority that was very mistreated historically. However, in his particular case, he is not the descendent of slaves but the descendant of slave dealers on his father’s side, and slave owners on his mother’s. Furthermore, for all the clamoring about his coming from nothing, he was raised in privileged circumstances, first in Indonesia, by his mother’s businessman second husband and then in comfort by his grandparents in Hawaii where he attended an exclusive private school and from where, despite his lackluster academic performance, he was wafted to the best schools in the land, likely through the means of connection and influence. (This like everything else about Mister Obama is a closely guarded secret, but it is almost impossible that he entered Columbia or Harvard on academic performance. Yes, it is barely credible that after high school he pulled himself up by his bootstraps and managed to work himself into a good GPA. However, having seen the man in action for close on to six years, I am morally sure if that were the case, his GPA, if not the substance of his courses, would already have been leaked and brandished about as supreme evidence of his genius. Since it – nor any IQ test result – has not been waved like a flag of triumph by his supporters in the establishment, it must be assumed that, like the performance we’ve seen from him since, it is at best lackluster and at worst disastrous.)

However, he’s considered to be underprivileged on the mere fact that he can tan and that his undertone is a little darker than younger son’s when he hasn’t been out in the sun for a long time.

In the same way, in our own field of science fiction, several people are lionized on the claim of being underprivileged and “excluded”. Mind you, none of them have been excluded in their lifetimes, and in fact maybe one of their grandparents was once addressed rudely. (Maybe, since they’re all a little younger than I. Depending on when their grandparents reproduced.) So, despite the fact that they’re all occupying academic positions for which we have seen no evidence of intellectual prowess, and the fact that the establishment in the field welcomed them with open arms and gave them fawning and attention all out of proportion with achievement, they are considered “victims” and run around twitter (which seems overripe for an application of Idiot be Gone) screaming of the “micro aggressions” performed against them, and telling everyone who opposes them that they should check their “privilege.”

This insanity, something that would make anyone from the outside laugh like an hyena (trust me, I came from the outside and the situation seemed like something out of a crazy fairytale to me) can only perpetuate itself by continuing claims of privilege where none exists and of victimhood applying to those in charge of the establishment. This is why the claims have grown increasingly more divorced from reality, like the screams addressed to Larry and I that we want to keep science fiction white and male (which would be a feat for both of us, unless we intend to get skin bleaching and in my case a rather more intimate operation) or that women didn’t work in the field or get any recognition before our present enlightened times, or that, in FACT none of them are safe at conventions where they might run into people who are paler than they are or – gasp – men with actual penises and all. It also accounts for their insane attacks of gamers because the gamers want to play games “for fun” leading them to the extreme ludicrous claim that there’s something wrong with escapism in entertainment. And we won’t even talk about shirtstorm, where the establishment thought it prudent and in fact eminently necessary to attack a man who, after years of work, landed on a comet, for wearing a cheesy, retro-sf t-shirt while talking about it.

This buffoonery which repels the general public when the general public sees it, is all they have.

And the reason they feel forced to keep up the pretense of being downtrodden and hard done by while basking in all the privilege and material rewards of elites everywhere is that they are a theocracy and the faith they used to climb to power is Marxism, with its extolling of the downtrodden and later (when the downtrodden of the west failed to rise and instead reaped the benefits of capitalism and moved to the middle class) the interesting “other” originating in third world nations. These later are held to be possessors of magical powers which render them capable of seeing with blinding clarity everything that is wrong in our society, capable of creating art that is better than anything we can do, and – very importantly – somehow still in need of the help of our elites to rise to any position of prominence. Which view is in fact racist and the powers attributed to these “minorities” – most often majorities in their own countries – nothing short of the ability that African Americans used to be believed to be born with of dancing or performing well in sports. Both of these are judging people by one broad, racial characteristic, and not as individuals. And let’s not forget the “can’t rise without us” (which is where all the magnified “micro aggressions” and imaginary privilege come from. They need to justify to themselves as well as others why people who, by virtue or color or origin are NATURALLY better fail to rise without their “help.”)

In fact, I believe part of Mister Obamas fascination with bringing in as many people as he can from countries where they (generally) tan better than us and grew up in misery, is not out of anything rational but out of this religious belief in the invincibility of the “other.” He’s thus sure that if he gets enough of them in, Marxist revolution will immediately arise and the American populace will be unable to defend themselves, because of the magical power of the “other.”

In fact, not only do those outside of the establishment – who point out the king is naked – go without any reward, they are, if they rise to enough prominence, the object of smear and whisper campaigns, kept out of what would normally accrue on performance alone, and – to make the irony delicious – accused of being sell outs. The tactics used against of us in the field of science fiction, for instance – not that we didn’t know of them, because in fact some of us overhear conversations, or used to take children to cons who understood far more than others thought and who weren’t immediately associated with us – were acknowledged to be the same the creature called Requires Hate used against the establishment (and as an attempt to leverage herself into it) the difference (and the reason the establishment was incensed) being that it was used against them.

Given this why do we persist? No wonder establishment personages think their challengers stupid. Many of us are working three times as hard as any of them and if we just said what they want us to say could be the greatest of them all.

Oh, because some of us are religious and taken to a mountain and shown all the kingdoms of the world will still believe our soul of more worth. And because some of us, though not religious, still have to wake up in the morning and look into their eyes in the mirror. And because some of us – me, all other considerations aside – have a devotion to the truth and refuse to kneel and say that we believe their story and not our lying eyes.

No wonder they do think we’re stupid. It’s something their little mercenary, social climbing hearts could never understand.

But here’s the thing: no elite that is as schizophrenic as they are can long stay in power. Their narrative being so anti-reality requires those seeking to join them to abase themselves to such a degree (like some gang members who have to commit a heinous murder to join) that the only the most craven will do so. These are also, for whatever reason, often not the most competent at whatever the field is.

They’re not often, like Chelsea Clinton, so guppy-stupid that even all the attempts to advance them and hand them “accomplishments” for existing fall flat (as did her career in TV.) But as generations go by and each generation picks the new luminaries based ONLY on loyalty to the party line, the quality of performance and competence keeps going down.

Take New Wave in our field. Its practitioners often held strange views of life, strange enough to repel the hoi polloi and those who bought the bulk of the books, but by and large, I challenge you to read them and not see the craftsmanship and the talent (with a few exceptions, of course.)

However those who came after them were a little less talented and trained. This was the period back in the nineties when I considered myself fortunate for finding writers who weren’t actively off-putting, and could only ever find one or two that I considered to rise above . And the current crop of establishment darlings, particularly the young ones (again with one or two exceptions) are cringingly bad or at the very best cringingly trite (which would be endurable without the encomiums to their Earth shattering originality.) Even the establishment can find no better reason to shower awards on them than the oft-repeated claims of vague discrimination and saying that women are overdue for recognition.

Like any elite that is incompetent at what its supposed to do, this means that they create a crisis that invites their replacement. In science fiction, where I’m concentrating because I know it better, (though arguably parallel processes are taking place in all other fields) they might have tottered on another generation or two, with each selling less, until the advances for first novels were zero and publication meant nothing except to the academics who need publication.

Fortunately Kindle intervened. Because indie publishing came into a vacuum and served underserved readers, it’s blooming against the wilting of traditional publishing.

This, of course, causes the establishment to rail against capitalism and to redouble its claims of “excluded” and “downtrodden” people. (Since they’ve been in charge of publishing since at least the forties, one has to wonder why they excluded and trod down on people, but instead, one is supposed to pretend to be dumb.)

The more pinched they get, the more we’ll hear claims of “speaking truth to power” and challenging “the man” when in fact they have the power and are the man (or more often the womyn, which is the position of power in current society.)

I advise mockery. Pouring mockery on them, and exposing the falsehood and base self-adulation of these people is not only funny, but it makes them writhe like slugs under salt.

And if you don’t feel like mocking, still point out their hypocrisy at every turn.

Expect them to become more shrill and multiply their claims to be “winning” and their deranged certainty that history comes with a directional arrow and that they’re the future.

I don’t recommend feeling pity for them, only because, as Roger L. Simon said “we almost lost our country” – or rather, in this case our civilization – to these buffons.

But they are, nonetheless, worthy of pity. They have nothing save the debasement that bought them their entry into the elite which, in its present eclipse, can give out fewer and fewer rewards, and each of them worth less. In my field, at least, most of them are in their forties. And they’ll have to get up every morning for forty years and look at themselves in the eye and confront the fact they sold their dreams for a mess of pottage.

Turn yours eyes away from them as we pass. The sad thing – for them – is that though history doesn’t have a directional arrow, some things always triumph: capitalism (which is a term for voluntary exchanges between humans and as such – despite attempts to suppress it by every king and satrap) has been going on since we’ve been humans; hard work; talent; a stubborn inability to admit defeat and – that most difficult one to them, because fourth generation leftists lack it as completely as the fairies of legend were said to lack it – creativity.

In the end, we win they lose. Ignore the screams. Shoulder to the wheel. We have work to do.

A promo post. A most material promo post!

Ladies, Gentlemen, and assorted other sophonts, welcome to the weekend! My apologies for the missed weeks; between Our Beloved Hostess’s travels and the happy chaos that is the Oysterhaus right now, things were missed. Here and now, new submissions have arrived, with brand new releases from some of our favorite Hoydens (and their various nomes de plume). I’d put some witty commentary here, but I have a house to clean and code to write, so I’m off. Go read some books and leave helpful reviews! As always, future entries can (and should!) be sent to my email. Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

The Man, the Myth, the $1.99 Taco Special

Sam Schall

Duty from Ashes

Honor and Duty Book 2

Duty calls. Honor demands action.

Major Ashlyn Shaw has survived false accusations and a brutal military prison. Now free, she finds her homeworld once again at war with an enemy that will stop at nothing to destroy everything she holds dear. Duty has Ashlyn once again answering the call to serve. She has seen what the enemy is capable of and will do everything she can to prevent it from happening to the home she loves and the people she took an oath to protect.

But something has changed. It goes beyond the fact that the enemy has changed tactics they never wavered from during the previous war. It even goes beyond the fact that there is still a nagging doubt in the back of Ashlyn’s mind that those who betrayed her once before might do so again. No, there is more to the resumption of hostilities, something that seems to point at a new player in the game. But who and what are they playing at?

Will Ashlyn be able to unmask the real enemy before it is too late?

Lilania Begley

Farmhand

Bluehills Book 1

Wounded veteran Dev Macquire needs some farm help until he recovers. When his father, Gray, brings home a new hand, he’s dismayed to meet Irina. How can a woman do the rough, heavy work they need? As she works her way into their life, and into his heart, he’s faced with a new dilemma. Can he persuade her to stay, and to accept a new role in his life?

Irina took the job on a whim. She just wanted to work hard enough to forget why her life was on hold and her future uncertain. Daily reminded of a brighter past, a childhood spent on horseback… but her new feelings for Dev were definitely not sisterly. At the end of the summer she’d leave, it was too dangerous to risk staying near him.

As a wildfire threatens the countryside, racing toward the Macquire place, Dev and Irina discover what true partnership can feel like, working together to find the arsonist who is responsible. When the fires die out, are there embers left smoldering in hearts?

Alma Boykin

Elizabeth and Empire

The Colplatschki Chronicles Book 4

Elizabeth von Sarmas has everything she ever desired, and more: power, a wonderful marriage, a haven and a home. But happily ever after only comes in those books she’s not supposed to have read, and the Age of Miracles ended hundreds of years before. When enemies old and new work to shatter her world, even Imperial War Duchess Elizabeth von Sarmas may find the challenge too great for one woman to bear.

But a good woman and a strong man can do anything if they have to.

The General’s Leman: A Love Story

When her world collapsed, Contracta Eleána Norhado fled the city and its memories. A year and a half later, General René Atwiler returned from the war to find a conspiracy in his regiment and his Contracta vanished.

Love once united them, but now war and pride threaten to keep them apart forever.

R.K. Modena

Sparrowind: The Dragon Who Lived As A Knight

Now available from Amazon!

Tiny Sparrowind can’t hunt from the sky, cannot hope to best his siblings in contests of strength, and scrapes by to survive. But in the books stashed in his parents’ hoard of gold and gems he finds a greater treasure: ideals.

Deciding to make his own way in life gives him more hope than he could have if he tried living only by the way of Dragonkind, but can this dreamer of a Dragon find his place in the world?

A delightful tale for all ages, that may be shared by reading out loud – either to a young audience, or those who are young at heart.

Also available from these fine booksellers:

This is no time to get wobbly

Today I have an eye appointment and yes will report the results to those of you who are bugging me about it (sheesh) and I’m probably going to put up a BPF later, but I’ve seen such rending of garments and beating of chests over Obama’s amnesty order that I thought I’d dash off a post to level set things.

First, yes, it is bad.  And a sign democrats either can’t learn or don’t have our best interests at heart.  I hear them brandish “Reagan did it” as an excuse.  But Reagan doing it is the reason we don’t want it. Because we saw it did nothing, but encourage a flood over the border.

I didn’t have much time last night — family issues kept me out till ten and then there were things to do (a reason a post wasn’t written) — but checking face book I saw people accused of being haters and racist for being anti-executive-amnesty.  Let’s dispose of that nonsense right now, shall we?

It is not hate to wish your countries borders to be secure.  I’ve said before I come from a country of emigrants, many of them illegal to other countries in Europe. I saw what drove people from their home, often leaving children behind, to rush to other countries to work for ridiculously low wages and send every penny home.

You can’t hate people like that — they’re simply trying to survive.

But then there’s the other side of it.  Those Portuguese immigrants were helping war-devasted European (and other) countries rebuild.  Their labor was desperately needed. Also, those countries economies were hiring all comers, because they had to.

Our work force is neither deficient in labor nor is our economy overheated.  What is worse, this is arguably caused by our minimum wage laws and by many people (not all of them left) refusing to understand the economy is not a wishing well.  You can’t say “I want everyone to have — what is it now? — $15 minimum wage” and magically have it happen.  If it were like that, why not give everyone one million dollars?

The minimum wage is felt to be needed mostly by people who have no understanding of business or of balancing the books.  They imagine all business men to be villains, twirling their mustaches while plotting how little to pay factory workers.  This is mostly because the history books have lied to them about the Industrial Revolution and they’re too stupid to see similar things happening now in other countries and realize the history books lied.  Or sorry, perhaps not stupid, comfortable and full of their own opinions so they never consider what they were taught was wrong.  Let’s call it establishment privilege.

These people full of establishment privilege look at the appalling conditions at the start of the industrial revolution (and they were appalling, though would be reformers also exaggerated them) and think “Aah without minimum wage, we’ll have China where employees get paid a penny a day and allowed to sleep under their machines.”

Sigh. This is not true, of course.  You see back then employees were treated like that because it was — wait for it — a vast improvement on their living conditions back in the home farm.

Only idiots establishment privileged people don’t see that.  They’ve made up all these cute stories about how the enclosure of the commons drove the poor to the cities to be exploited.  (Did they?  Well, from the enclosures in Shakespeare’s time, no.  Yes, there were injustices, but it wasn’t that black and white.) But if you look at India and China, and other places where industrialization is happening now, you discover the rural poor flock to the city, because despite the idealized view of agriculture of the EPP, it is still more brutal and less rewarding than their miserable factory jobs.

In the US too, during industrialization, another layer was added. A lot of the people coming here to work for miserable wages couldn’t speak the language and left kith and kin and everyone who could help them, (if they said bugger off and walked out) thousands of miles and months of travel away.  So you saw some horrible stuff.  More on this later, because it’s pertinent.

But these days none of that applies — except for the more on that later — and keeping raising the minimum wage with no reference to the economy or the need for workers (or indeed at all) by fiat only drives illegal immigration.  I know the people who hiss and boo at “crooked employers” hiring illegals imagine the monopoly figure with the top hat.  Reality is not like that.  The economy is bad (whatever the cooked books say) and all of the hospitality businesses run on a very thin margin, as do small farms and a dozen other small to medium concerns.

Faced with going under or hiring illegals, they hire illegals.  It’s the same as the immigrants coming here illegally.

The minimum wage (and regulation of labor) laws are driving illegal immigration.  Stop that motor (and there are ways of doing it that are politically feasible and don’t involve distorting the market, like income assist.  Note I’m not for them and think the Federal government has no constitutional authority to do any of it but they are preferable to what we have) and illegal immigration stops cold.

Continue in the path we’ve been, and — for those of us accusing us of not being compassionate — the vulnerable and less employable Americans suffer, while this nation of laws and beliefs imports a larger and larger majority of people who not only do not believe in our laws and beliefs (trust me.  As someone who comes from a Latin country, the indoctrination to respecting your betters runs very deep and makes it hard to acquire the American “I have no betters” attitude.  Impossible, no.  but difficult.  Which means the majority will never get it) but who don’t really want to be American.  The majority of them, like my neighbors in Portugal in the sixties and seventies, want to make money and go home.  And while the Italians and Poles and Germans of the past might have intended the same, they had more incentive to adapt in that they couldn’t just DRIVE home.  Or visit often enough to stay attached to the homeland.  (Trust me, even now, it’s not easy for an immigrant of middle income from Europe to visit often enough.  We simply can’t afford to go more than once every three to five years, which in turn means that you have more time to adapt to your adopted culture, and you do whether you wish to or not (I wish Kate Paulk who is more recent to this process would write me a post about this process.  Maybe I’ll bug her.))

Worse, and far more damning to the compassionate souls Establishment Privilege People who scream that we should let them all in, we create a vast class of native unemployables, to which the children of these compassionately let in immigrants will belong if they stay in country. Because they will be American citizens and subjected to minimum wage laws, instead of whatever pittance their parents are paid under the table, but they won’t have markedly more skills (for the vast majority) or be educated to integrate and speak the language (must respect multiculti donchaknow?)  The end game of this is a small English speaking upper class and a vast Spanish speaking, unemployable government dependent under class.  Which I think is what people like Nancy Pelosi envision.  Madame Pelosi LIKES her privilege and she means to keep her privilege.  (Sometime look up how much the woman drinks on the public dime.  A lot of her utterances will make a lot more sense.)

But the end game can’t be reached, because the state can’t expand forever.  Again, if you’re an EPP you might not realize this, but money’s value refers to value in society that might be purchased with that money.  I.e. the idea Obama believed at least briefly, that we can print a trillion dollar bill and pay all our debts is about as sane as thinking you can levitate by pulling your feet up with your hands.  Like gravity, economy is a force to be reckoned with and you can’t wish it away.  So long before we reach that end game, the economy collapses, the immigrants rush back home (they’ve been doing it anyway and more on that later too) and the natives who are near-unemployable because minimum wage has kept them from developing skills to be employed, starve.

That is the end game of your “compassionate” and “let them all in” hearts.  A particularly funny critter was advocating for “Children growing up in horrible conditions.  How can you say no.”  I’d like to point out to Mr. Bleeding Heart that a) we’re not the orphanage of the world, nor is America’s wealth somehow baked in the cake.  We do (I don’t think my family is alone in this) support any number of children around the world as we can, but bringing them all here is insane. For one most of them would prefer to stay home with their family/tribe/culture.  b)There are children not only in appalling conditions here but in conditions that doom them to generational poverty. By pricing their parents out of employment you’re dooming these children to growing up with no structure, no skills and probably, if statistics can be trusted, drug addicted and likely to embark upon a life of crime. c) why would you deny other countries their chance to have their youth grow and improve them?  It’s bad enough for a country like Japan to be senescent (from an economic stand point.)  In a country like Kenya it would be fatal to have fewer young people than elderly. d) again wealth is not a finite pie.  We didn’t steal it.  We (and previous Americans) created it.  Bringing in a vast wave of children who cannot be integrated into the culture (because multiculti and our horrible schools) does nothing but bringing third world conditions here in one generation.  (One is tempted to think that’s what the president wants, but one MUST remember he’s economically maleducated which is worse than being ignorant.)

Anyway, having disposed of all that — This morning I’ve already seen the rending of garments, mourning at the invasion, throwing fits, giving up…

Yesterday before going to bed I read what Mister Obama actually said. Now granted this might change in application because the way you know he’s lying is that his lips are moving, but what he actually said is neither alarming nor nearly as “good” as all those celebrating on the other side think.

Correct me if I’m wrong, since I skimmed the stuff last night, as I was falling asleep:

-This amnesty is not an amnesty as it provides no “path to citizenship” but merely allows for TEMPORARY visas.

- It only allows temporary visas to people who have children (or presumably parents) who have visas or are citizens.

- You have to have been crime free while in the US, except for the crime of entering illegally.

-You have to have been employed

- You have to pay a substantial fine.

Look, the number of people this provides for, particularly considering #2 is not nearly “all of those who are celebrating” because they just heard “amnesty.” It certainly isn’t the invasion of welfare recipients that Mister Obama has been inviting.

On top of that, these people HAVE to ask themselves: come out of the shadows and be “registered’ which suddenly does make their deportation and tracking possible when the political tides change as they seem to be in the process of changing (and when most people in this country are against their staying) or stay in the shadows and ignore President false promises?  I’m going to guess the sensible ones will opt for “stay in shadows” and I knew a lot of Portuguese who emigrated illegally to other countries, and heard them discuss this sort of thing.

Another reason not to panic is that our economy still sucks.  No, seriously.  Yes, I know the cooked numbers.  But all of you who are in business for yourselves know I’m speaking the truth.  We’re getting pravda from our media, but the truth is the economy sucks and will only get worse when the full obamacare goes into action.

I don’t see how this would do any less than any other contraction (or is it a depression now, beneath the cooked numbers?) in history.  Which means all the stores in my neighborhood who in anticipation of the proclamation of amnesty stocked Spanish magazines are going to be heart broken again.

There aren’t that many minimum age jobs around or even jobs for people willing to work under the table.  And there are fewer and fewer people legitimately employed and paying benefits.  The economy is a zombie boosted by false Wall Street crony capitalism returns.

That is a problem, but not one immigration does much to.  Except for one thing, and the real reason Mister Obama did this and put the conditions he did (except maybe, who knows, this is also his plan to provide for the vast number of children his father sired, and whom he won’t help from his own purse.)

You see, the people who fit this and qualify for a “temporary visa” are, I would bet, overwhelmingly, employed in the computer industry.

These are the new immigrants, many of them from India and China, who are being exploited by employees who cow them with threats of deportation which is what firing essentially means.  I can’t find the article, but I’m sure one of you can post it in comments, explaining how recently several silicon valley firms were found to be paying such workers less than a dollar an hour.

This is what the president hoped to enable, because these people can rush to have a child who will be a citizen/be promised the company will pay their fine if they work another year/ etc. etc.

Mister Obama is not a good politician, in the sense that he doesn’t stay bought, as the Unions and other working class lobbies are finding out.  BUT he has a sort of decadent upper class loyalty to his own: the people who went to the right colleges, make the right noises and whom he’d like to invite to his parties.  Those are the people he is favoring with this “proclamation” just like he favored all his cronies with money for “green energy” (Solyndra) and government contracts (Obamacare website) and other such boondoogles.  He’s really a French Aristo, out of time, and trying to be good to the people like him, who know what fork to use to spear the middle class with.

So, I’m not saying you shouldn’t be mad.  There’s tons of reason to be mad.  There’s even some reason to panic, as I think IT jobs are going to be hit and hit hard by this, and they haven’t been doing well for fifteen years now.

But the vast number of central and South (and North — Mexico) Americans who are now celebrating and the number of Americans mourning the invasion are both being fooled by the man who never tells a truth if he can tell a lie.  When they wake up and read the fine print, they’ll find none of this is was they think.  It’s just President Goldman Sachs favoring his cronies again.

There will be a clean up.  There has to be a clean up because economics is a harsh and unforgiving mistress.  Our job is to stay focused on what is real, not on the aristos’ sleight of hand.  Because we’re going to have a heck of time preventing our government defaulting to historically probably “strong man” when the crash comes.  Until then, keep your mind sharp, stop panicking and remember: In the end we win, they lose.  It must be so for the sake of our children.

Be not afraid.

PS -And lest you think I’m unwarrantably rosy in this, Jerry Pournelle agrees with me (save that he seems to believe the amnesty far more general and likely to be taken.  And he might be right, but I think not.  As I said, I’ve seen this from the other side.  Leaving the shadows at this time is going to scare them, once they see the fine print.)  And then there’s this.

Be not afraid.  There’s a massive amount of work to be done (isn’t there always) to restore our republic, which has been slipping away from us for a hundred years or so, but this is not the final blow.  Nowhere near.  Take heart. The government as always speaks with a forked tongue.  The other side doesn’t have much reason to rejoice and we don’t have much reason to lament.  Let them play their empty piping and keep your eye on what’s real.

No More Crying Now

So yesterday I went to see Interstellar. Go see it. It’s hated by all the right people. It was also the first time in years that we went to a movie in a theater and possibly the first time Dan and I went alone since Robert was born. (We used to go out with a group of friends, but that hasn’t happened in a long time. Money. Work. Time.)

Anyway, if I were writing interstellar to order, there would be some different things, some plot points made more explicit, and definitely more of a cigarette moment at the end.

I wasn’t writing it to order. It’s a decent movie and if you’re a regular at this blog, you’ll like it. It makes the choice very stark: stay on Earth, maybe forever, and die. Or go to the stars and live.

In the movie they have a contrivance to make people leave the Earth. Movies are like that, they need immediacy and crisis you can see. But the premise is true, nonetheless. We can stay and die. Or we can leave and live. And the time is getting late.

The decision is made very clear when the school principal tells the ex-astronaut dad that the Apollo missions were faked, a propaganda coup to fool the Russians into bankrupting themselves. We can accept this rewrite of history and these petty, slighting dreams which betray us and all of the human race. Or not.

CC, my eyes on Twitter, sent me the Puffington Host’s scathing view of the movie:

“Let’s create cinematic masterworks that exhort us to cherish the planet we have, and all the wonders upon it, rather than jettison it in favor of new turf to kill.”

Note the double whammy of “let’s not dream of bigger things” and “all humans do is kill.” And note the smug self-satisfaction with it.

Look, guys, I understand why our civilization got shell shocked. The first world war came atop this idea that we were past hatreds and past irrationality, and the new classically liberal brotherhood of man would never have these irrational wars.

And then this war happened, and the press exaggerated it. And it was a war that you could take the train to, a war in our backyard.

The seditious elements among us, the enemies of civilization, starting with the “romantics” who were mostly sympathizers with the old feudal system (or rather dreamers who identified with the feudal lords and the old ways that never were) took advantage of the massive mortality, the emotional wounds the war left, to push their agenda of guilt and self-loathing, which turned into loathing for their culture, their civilization, their world, their species.

Read that line from the Huff Po.

This is not a mature attitude. This is not a sane attitude. Can you see the flouncing around? The acting like “You’re so stupid, duh, you just want to go out and kill other planets. You’re supposed to cherish this one, that is, give up every dream and do what we tell you to, until you’re perfect – PERFECT I TELL YOU – and then you can maybe go off. If we let you.”

This is not a sane view of your own species. This is not a survivable view of your own civilization. You can’t live and grow and expand, and care for the new generations while pounding your chest and shouting “mea culpa.” And worse, it’s never “mea culpa” it’s the pointed finger and “these people who look like me” a definition that can be as narrow as race or as wide as species, when it comes to science fiction, “are evil and I want to denounce them.”

Humanity cannot – will not – survive the continuing mourning for a past that never was; the endless self-denunciation sessions of all that’s human.

Humanity isn’t perfect. Neither are our accusers. We’re all just people. Denouncing your own doesn’t make you better than them: it makes you smaller and petty.

There might be perfect aliens out there in the stars, but perfect according to whom?

I’m human and I love humans – the feisty and the foolish, the brilliant and the broken. Do I love humans in the collective? Oh, not usually, because humans aren’t a collective, they’re a number of fascinating individuals, and a number of boring ones too. They are of me and I’m of them. What are perfect aliens to me or I to them that I should subject myself to their rules for perfection? What do I care if they’re nicer to turf? Turf is maybe in the galactic sense, a cousin, and we’ll likely take it out of this world with us. But my loyalty is to humans, because I’m human. And if humans pass from the universe, something great and important will have died: a curious monkey who dreamed of the stars.

And if we don’t work towards that goal of the stars, we’ll surely let the crepe hangers win. And humans will shamble to their end.

The culture of death and mourning, of denunciation and lamentation is over. I declare it so. It’s by definition a dying culture, anyway, an enshrining of the poisonous social vices of envy and malice, of selfishness and pride (a more forthright age called them sins.) It is destroying humanity because that’s what it’s designed to do.

And it’s over. In its place I choose to believe that humanity exists for a reason; that humanity has a place in the universe; that humanity is not less nor smaller than other races we might meet.

Have we made mistakes? What race, what culture, what individual doesn’t?

But the healthy ones move on and grow up.

It’s time we moved on. It’s time we grew up. A hundred years of crepe hanging and blaming civilization is enough.

Eschew the clichés of “the ape that kills” and “a bad species” and “responsible for extinctions” and “guilty of everything.”

Those of us who are religious know only one creature can judge us, and it’s none of the finger pointers. Enough of the witnesses for the prosecution. Now rises the defense: we’ve nurtured and loved; we’ve created and invented and dreamed. Those of us who are religious know we’re made in His image, and love the image of the eternal even in the ephemeral.

The clay of the Earth we’re made of is the material that made the stars.

We’re made of stars. We’re made of eternal. We’re made of eternity and joy. It’s our destiny to dream and create and reach ever farther.

We’ll shoulder our sins along the way, those sins that are truly ours, those we can hit our breasts over and say “mea culpa” and repent and strive to be better. Everyone and every culture stumbles.  The good ones struggle on.  We will not accept blame for everything. And we will not accept blame from accusers who admit no guilt, no stain, no brotherhood with us.

The time for mourning is over. The time for dreaming and creating has started.  Pull down that crepe and those black curtains.  They look ridiculous on the grand edifice of Western civilization.

Tell the finger pointers and self-righteous blamers to take a hike.

However long it takes, however hard it is, however many times we stumble and fall, listen to this and listen well: We’re going to the stars.

The Strange Phenomenon of Post Con Blues – Charles Gannon

The Strange Phenomenon of Post Con Blues – Charles Gannon

With World Fantasy in the rearview mirror, a rumination on why SF/F Cons are all at once incredibly exhausting and singularly restorative:

 

I must start with a limiting disclaimer: I did not grow up among fen, and have never self-identified as one (or been exogenously identified as one, either, to my knowledge). I came to cons late: by the time I went to my first in (I think) 1987, I also had my first professional genre writing credit (I had been producing TV scripts for years prior). As a consequence, much of what might be old hat for life-long con-goers/fen is still novel to me.

 

For instance, only recently, have I noticed the creeping onset of a condition that most convention goers recognize and have experienced from their early years: the strange phenomenon of the post-con blues.

 

For me (and I suspect for most folks) these are not even truly blues. They do not impede work, or diminish my mood, or make me grumpy, or anything like that. It’s more the feeling you get when you are boarding the outbound plane as you conclude a brief visit with a dear friend you don’t see very often. Because, when you get right down to it, that’s pretty much what the end of a con is: we are taking leave of so many people who either are our friends, or certainly would be, if we only had the time and proximity to do more than bump into each other like so many hyperenergized particles as we rush from panel to signing to kaffeeklatsch to bar.

 

And again, to the bar.

 

And later on, let’s get together at the bar…

 

There’s something bittersweet in these manic enterprises we call SF conventions, at least for me. And it boils down to this: it is profoundly ironic that 99 % of the folks who I *know* could become fast friends are also folks that I will only encounter in these venues where I spend well less than 1 % of my waking hours. This may seem a strange comment, and perhaps it only applies to me (and fie upon me for veering toward projection!) , but there is, I contend, a certain logic to this sensation—or at least, to its inevitability.

 

We SF/F writers (and fans also, I suspect) almost all (perhaps all?) have one thing in common—and it is a powerful commonality both because it is rare and it marks us as very distinct from the well-populated bulge that dominates the center of the demographic bell curve. Our commonality is that we work in, live in, are immersed in, alterity. It is not that we are disinterested in or estranged from this world—anything but. But we spend a great deal of both our professional and personal time considering how that world might be different. Whether the imaginary change is a small modification upon the contemporary culturescape, or whole-cloth inventions in which myth and magic are actualities in a world that is poised upon a giant turtles’ back, we revel in that alterity, that deviation—whether fanciful or serious—from contemporary ‘reality.’ Part of this phenomenon arises from what I can only call a shared mental habit and affinity for difference: whereas many people find solace and stability in the shibboleths of quotidian existence, SF/F folks tend to conceptually and mentally breathe freely only when sprung from those bounds of common convention. In a SF/F convention, the population is utterly dominated by persons attracted to alterity; on the street, in the workplace, at the store, alongside the Little League field, the odds are tilted even more profoundly in the other direction. And so too, therefore, are the odds of meeting not merely a like-minded person, but one with a similar impulse toward and affinity for alterity. Only at conventions are such minds not only plentiful, but predominate.

 

Note that this has nothing to do with intelligence or creativity (although engagement with alterity is usually associated with a very questioning, and therefore, active mind): it has to do with world-view. Or, as might better apply to con-goers, worldS-view—for why should we be constrained to just one? Particularly when the questions we pose in imaginary realms often provide us with unique mirrors that reflect back diverse and revealing images of our contemporary conditions.

 

Time spent at a convention is a mixture of reveling in such pursuits, sharing that experience with almost everyone around you, all given contrast and context by discussions of “the business” that has grown up around it. A business which, in itself, it almost too wondrous to believe: that an industry has arisenin which other people actually pay us for taking them along as passengers on our narrative flights of fancy.

 

I suspect I’ve become far more susceptible to the post-con blues since becoming a full-time writer in 2008. Before then, my day job put me in regular contact with throngs of graduate and undergraduate students, endless committees, and diverse and interesting peers at academic conferences. But while full-time writing might not be a lonely profession (I do not feel it to be so), it is inarguably isolating. Even if you are one of those folks who can write a 100K word novel over the course of a string of sustained caffeinated retreats to your closest Starbucks or Panera’s, you are still not writing *while* socializing (at least I’ve never heard of anyone who can pull off such a feat). When we write, we fundamentally live in, or as a dedicated spectator to, the imaginary world we are summoning into virtual existence via words. That is not really a collective enterprise, even if it starts out as a collective brainstorming session: the work of writing is inherently solitary.

 

So, now, I spend a great deal of time alone. And I’m fine with that. But I also enjoy spending time with people, so I can’t really call the activity of writing a “happy balance” between the natural human impulses toward both solitude and social interaction. Unfortunately, the more one succeeds at this career, the more solitude one must embrace, for that is when the words have the freedom to come forth, and you have the freedom to record them. And then edit them. And then further massage them so that you may send out a finished manuscript—and begin the process all over again. And, every once in a while, go to a convention to talk about those words you wrote—and bask in a community that, like you, revels in the experience and possibilities of alterity.

My People

I’ve been accused of having too many groups of “my people.” Science fiction writers for instance. My people, bless their hearts, most of them are more damaged than I am. Or science fiction fans in general. My people are full of the awesome strange. Or people who like to read. My people will short food to buy a new book. Or Americans. My people, bless us every one, fractious and fighting, a loud and tumultuous family, embracing liberty with all it means. Or my family, that small number of people in a small portion of Portugal, at whom I can go and say “well, right or wrong” (and often politically daft) “they’re mine.” There’s a turn of the head, a way of putting your hands in your pockets, a sort of lumber to the walk, but most of all there’s a turn of mind: to a man and to the last woman, we are thoughtful, a bit depressive, a good number of us are bookish, and most of us are artistic in some way, even those who express it as engineers, which Heinlein assured me is an art.

And it’s this last one that brings me to “my people” today. My other people. That vast extended family of Odds around the world.

You know who you are. You’re the ones who never quite fit in. Sometimes you were mysteries to your own parents, which is why so many of us suffer from cuckoo’s egg syndrome (though in my parents’ case they are both of us, just tried very hard to hide it and pretend they weren’t.)

It always amuses me to hear classifications of humanity into alphas and betas and…. It’s not that I don’t see the justice of it. I’ve been a long time in the world, and I’ve seen groups of people in action. In fact watching other people is a survival mechanism. Most groups do stack that way. Most women/most men are attracted/mate that way.

But there is more to it than that. There is us. We’re the ones who don’t fit in.

A talk with Dave Freer long ago confirmed our existence as a biological creature. It seems individuals like us exist in every social species. We’re outliers. We’re not the pathetic bottom-of-the-heap trying to survive; we’re the ones who don’t seem to recognize social rules the power to bind us, not like other people. We obey some, we ignore some, we go our own way.

In ape bands, we’re often cast out. I imagine in primitive human groups too. And the smart ones of those survived. In case one wonders where that band of roaming brigands that became the Romans came from.

“We” is not covalent with high IQ though I’ve never met one of us who was really LOW IQ. We tend to assume we are all high IQ because those are the ones that become vocal and (in the present day) even valued by normal for some achievement. Also because it flatters us and we’re human enough.

Some of us do their best to fit in, to the point of what amounts to psychic self-mutilation. For those who manage it, you’re likely to find us playing all roles from alpha to zeta. I think it’s part of the reason normal people distrust us and dislike us. We’re protean, and they don’t know how we do that.

Some of us – me – can swim in and out of the normal world and even pretend for a while, but don’t find much reward in pretending all the time, in fitting in, in living by their rules.

There are many names for us. These days they try to put us all in the autistic spectrum, except we’re not. Or at least, the things they keep saying ARE autism, like the inability to create new things, or the lack of social skill aren’t right in my case and in many other cases.

The best way to find us is in elementary. Other kids instinctively know that we’re different which in their minds is “wrong”. They are in touch enough with their instincts (something we don’t seem to be good at, btw) that they want to “kill the stranger.” Most of us were bullied, ostracized or hated in the playground, no matter how we learned to deal with it later.

But even now you can find us. We tend to be the people who now and then forget there ARE rules to social interaction. I don’t mean manners. We do those well enough. I mean, aping what everyone is admiring/talking about. Wearing whatever anyone else wears/thinks is hot. Those of us who are into fashion are likely to be so unique in dress style that it’s a good thing eccentricity isn’t a crime. But most of the time, even those, just bother with things that cover the essentials, because there are so many other things to do.

Perhaps we are a submerged set of genes from some race that mated with/melded with homo sap. Maybe some of those genes surface now and then and make us just Odd enough.

Or perhaps we are simply those outliers, like all great apes have.

I’d guess there’s more of us in America, and can even offer some explanation. It was hard and a long way away for immigration. Those who came were uncertainly attached to the group. Also a lot of us feel like strangers in the place where we were born and seem to have deep rooted in us the idea there is a homeland for us, somewhere, if we only look.

. Our kind has always been cast out or left, shaking the dust from our sandals, shrugging our shoulders at the crazy rules of normal, as we go looking for another better place, or as we seek to build one. Perhaps that’s why so many of us are interested in space exploration

And you see, here’s the thing, we know each other. Usually on sight. Sometimes on reading.

Dr. Matt Taylor is one of us. He might be of whatever political opinion, and I’m sure some of his ideas would make me cringe. But he’s one of us. “My people, whatever they are, they are mine.”

His bullying over a shirt – a signaling only important to normal – was a wound to those of us who got bullied over inexplicably strange things in school. You know, wearing the wrong dress or writing with the wrong pen, or what we read, or the fact we didn’t watch the same shows everyone watched or had no interest in their social supremacy games.

We’ve always known each other. As adults, we’ve shrugged our shoulders and gone elsewhere.

But now we’ve got the net. We can find each other. And we’re learning to hit back at bullies.

Bullies and normal have gotten away with pushing us around because most of the time we couldn’t be bothered and because most of the time there’s only one of us anywhere near.

It’s time we woke up. Normal society needs us. Whatever else we are, geeks, odds, eccentrics, we’re the ones who try new things. Without us, the stultifying pressure of social conformity would mean that they were still in caves. Or maybe still in trees.

They need us. Yeah, we’re strange, and we dress us funny. Yeah, we have obsessions you don’t get, and ideas you don’t understand. Yeah, a good number of us are crackpot and even the normal ones have patches of crackpottery. Yes, yes, a lot of us are emotionally walking wounded by growing up “strange.”

Doesn’t matter. They need us more than we need them. From now on, when one of us is touched, the rest of us will rise up and say “You and whose fashion-police army.”

Thanks to the net, we’re no longer alone. We’ll never be a group, though we can form loose groups. But we now know there are others like us. Odd isn’t evil or broken or non-functional. It can be. But mostly it’s just different. And needed by any functioning human population.

Leave us alone to enjoy our weird. We don’t play by your social game rules.

But we ask nothing from you, except the chance to be.  And in return, you might get the stars.