Peeing On the Shoulders Of Giants

It’s now been two years since I was on the Tor “seminar” for the launching of Learning Curve, the first installment of Heinlein’s bio – and I’ve almost (but not quite) stopped steaming.

What affronted me at the time was my colleagues who would come in and say “Was Heinlein sexist or homophobic?  Absolutely” – and did this freely admitting they’d never read Heinlein, they just knew he had no queer characters (Brother, the scene between Galahad and Isthar would shock them) and no strong women who weren’t “men with breasts” (this is the no true Scotsman fallacy.  What is a man with breasts?  Any woman who is capable and self sufficient?  I think the people complaining should ask themselves if their characters aren’t female dogs with no brain.)  Alternately, or often at the same time, Heinlein gets accused of writing only submissive women, because in the intervals between shooting the bad guys, working astrogation problems and solving/causing world crisis, his characters want to have babies and – shocker, I know – fall in love with men.  As proof of their submission the fact that they wear high heels and – horrors – aprons is brought up.  (It’s a good idea to wear aprons while shooting bad guys.  Blood is a pain to get off good clothes.)

The truth is that Heinlein gets crucified for two reasons only:

  1. He propagated the idea that There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch and the philosophy is embedded in his books.
  2. None of the people who rage and rag on him and call him names have a tenth of the talent he had in his little toe.  And none of them has now, nor will ever have the same influence on the culture.

The first one is of course the most important point.  No, wait.  It’s not the most important point, no.  But it is the point that serves to hang up all their discontents.  They read Heinlein’s characters who do-for-themselves (male, female and juvenile) and they get upset.  I belong to the same vague socio economic group as these people, and let’s face it, we all grew up with nonsense like “follow your dreams” and “to dine own self be true.”  And we’ve interpreted it – having largely lived soft and sheltered lives – to mean that we should in fact do this, regardless of the economic consequences of it.

I’m a little different because I was fortunate, very early on (“Never ruin your children by making their lives too soft” RAH) because I experienced true poverty – due to political-social circumstances – I not only know what it’s like to go to bed without having “eaten all you want to?” – which is the question used to establish “hunger in America” – but I often went to bed without having eaten much substantial.  (It’s okay.  I had a lovely figure.)  Because come evening, the cupboard was bare.

I attended a magnet school in the rich area of town and had to go between the ages of 12 to 14 without a single new piece of clothing, except what we got from red cross.

Now, am I claiming I suffered horribly?  H*ll, no.  I’m not even claiming I suffered.  My mom and dad grew up eating a lot of vegetable soup when all else was absent, and mom went barefoot summer and winter, and gleaned for coal by the side of the railroad for cooking.  She grew up with four siblings and a cousin all in a three bedroom house where the kitchen had a dirt floor and the only bathroom was an outhouse at the end of the garden.

Compared to her, I was a pampered princess who whined when we couldn’t afford hot water in winter.

However it brought me up close to the idea that when there isn’t enough, you can’t have it.  You can say all you want to that you have these rights and these needs, but when something isn’t there, you can’t have it.  (It also brought me up to the idea that a government powerful enough to give you what you want can also take it away from you, but that’s something else.  And it gave me a profound distrust of authority and the certainty I don’t want anyone to have TOO much over me and mine.)

And that’s what sets my colleagues off.  Look, to establish a writing career these days, you’re going to be unproductive for a good long time.

Or at least, you’re going to make very little money.

Those of us who are disposed to feel we have to pay our way through life (and many of us are) are at the very least going to feel guilty.  Some, like me – and a lot of my friends – will justify our compulsion by doing things like running the house on one person’s salary, at the same level as friends making double the money (which I did for years.  It’s called cooking from scratch, mending, refinishing AND doing without – we drove an $1100 suburban with a missing front bumper for ten years.)

My husband convinced me that it was worth it doing this, that it was a risky investment but an investment which would eventually pay off by supporting us in our old age.  I thought he was nuts.  Now indie is a possibility, I wish I would have listened to him more. I’d have a lot more things ready to go up.

But a lot of people have to rely on parents, siblings, even friends in those early years.  For a lot of them it paid off.  (And a lot end up just doing this the rest of their lives.)  The guilt they felt about this makes them very upset at hearing TANSTAAFL.  They feel it as an accusation and therefore they lash out at the man they think is accusing them.

Am I holding Heinlein up as a paragon?  Kids, no one in early SF was a paragon.  Oh, okay, maybe one or two, but I’ve heard stories of con parties.  I also get told – regularly – how boring and stodgy we are now, with our spouses and our kids and our middle-class lives.

That’s fine.  Heinlein was married three times and he was a man of his generation.  He had ideas of his generation.

However, considering most of those ideas are now being implemented in our schools, our mass media and our “public counseling” that can’t be why they turn against him.  (And let me tell you, compared to what is being written today in contemporary romance, Heinlein wrote books suitable for nuns.  WELL BEHAVED nuns.)  And the way he wrote sex working in the future was possibly – maybe – something that MIGHT make sense for a society where you live practically forever and where sex and reproduction are almost entirely divorced.

If writers of science fiction are meant to be saints, I must give it up now.  To quote from Pride and Prejudice “my temper I can’t vouch for.”  (Though my good opinion once gone isn’t gone forever.  In fact, I like many people whose politics I abhor.  I’m just likely to tell them to their faces that they’re Marxist [or statist] poopy heads, and when they take offense at that it loses me friends or allies.  It’s a character defect and one I’d like to overcome.  But I’m not willing to go back to hiding my deepest feelings, either.)

But of course, the people – mostly writers – accusing Robert A. Heinlein (who was known for his epic rows with everyone from Communists to Libertarians, so I might get that from him, if one assumes – like Pratchett does – that there are genetics that have nothing to do with the physical) are also not people who live immaculate lives, they’re not people of even and sweet tempers, and the work they do is not in fact perfectly balanced and giving every side and point of view (partly because a book that did that would be soup.)

No, what irks them most about Heinlein is that he had influence they couldn’t have – that he molded minds of people who started out in a culture so different his characters opposition to taxation or their insistence on owning guns made them as alien as another species.  But little by little, his stories showed me the logic of his arguments.  (No other writer has done that to me.)

People crucifying Heinlein are not even those standing on the shoulders of giants.  They’re non-house-broken puppies, peeing on the shoulders of giants.

In a related note, I confess I never read Ayn Rand.  (I watched the Atlas Shrugged movies and, yes, I was the one person in the world who loved the first.  No.  One of two people.  My younger son did too.)  I have this thing with the way words are put together.  Perhaps because I see the non-colloquial way the words fall.  I also can’t read Nabokov.

I do realize a lot of her ideas are “extreme” in the sense that “people don’t work that way.”  But I have several friends who worship her because of what she said about the trends of society, and for being the one voice in fiction (until Heinlein, I guess) pointing out that no, you don’t have the right to anyone else’s sweat.  To live off the work of others is NOT a moral stand.  It might be a need.  I lived off my husband’s salary for a long time, but I tried to give something back.  I have friends who are unemployed and who are trying like h_ll to give back.  But that is different from assuming you are entitled.  (No one does that?  Then why was one of the excuses to pay the health care bill, that it would free you to pursue your artistic ambitions, instead of having to get a nine to five job?)

My friends seem to discount the more extreme bits of the philosophy the same way I discounted the free love poliamoury in Heinlein.  (One of the saddest things at a con was the woman in the audience who said “I read Heinlein when I was a virgin and I tried to follow his ideas, and it messed up my life.”  I wanted to say “oh, you sad little puppy.  If you’d read Harry Potter, would you have jumped out the window on a broom?”  I too read Heinlein when I was a virgin, but being a virgin – that I know – is not supposed to make you lack all common sense and ability to observe your surroundings.  Maybe I was an unusual virgin.  And no, I didn’t say it.  If I’d told her that, she MIGHT have jumped out the window on a broom.)

Anyway, my friend Amanda Green takes up the issue of “why hate Rand?”:

Let me ask you this: if Rand’s world is so unrealistic and its heros so “evil” (read politically incorrect) what about Herbert’s Dune? Oh, I hear the complaints now. That wasn’t a book that pushed philosphy. Bull shit. It just pushed a different sort of ideology. Go back and read it without your poltically correct glasses on. There are any number of other books out there that hit the readers over the head with the author’s philosphy. But those books are all right because they push the “right sort of thinking”.

Read the Whole Thing.

As a writer who is neither a saint nor a model of much of anything, and who wrote, in A Few Good Men a book that will probably get her crucified not just by both sides of politics, but possibly by sides that will come into existence for the purpose of hating me, I can only say that I hope twenty years after my death there will be panels at cons where the subtext is “Hoyt, immoral pervert or political menace?”

I’ll be in good company.

394 responses to “Peeing On the Shoulders Of Giants

  1. > No, what irks them most about Heinlein is that he had influence they couldn’t – his stories showed me the logic of his arguments.

    I think you’ve nailed it exactly.

    > > Let me ask you this: if Rand’s world is so unrealistic and its heros so “evil” (read politically incorrect) what about Herbert’s Dune?

    Or Phillip Pullman, who I loathe.

    Leftists think that people have a right to not have ideology “shoved down their throats”. The fun thing is that the define “someone writing a book or scripting a movie with thoughtcrime bad ideas” as “shoving down a throat”, yet they define “compulsory taxation for indoctrination of the young in schools and adults via billboards” as “sharing common goals”.

    I.e. it’s an offensive ideology and brain washing if it’s a book that I can either buy or not, but it’s common sense education if I have to pay for it and I get punished for not obeying the dictates.

    Bah.

    Leftists.

    • According to The Daughter Pullman committed one of the greatest of all possible sins in writing: Pullman was so over taken by the his desire to pound a particular drum that he did not respect the integrity of world or the characters that he created. (The Daughter also believes that his music is not worth the listen.)

      • The Daughter is spot on. I am an agnostic (though with a deep respect for religion) and found his anti-religious bigotry extremely offensive, but more than that, yes, it ruined the story and the characters. The ending wasn’t just a diatribe, it was stupid and made no sense.

        But then I find the really offensive atheists often have a very juvenile understanding of religion and faith, they set up the flimsiest of straw men to knock over (I think may be because the average atheist’s last close contact with religious people is in high school, so that’s the level of their understanding).

        • I think you’ve pegged the difference between what I call atheists (“I don’t believe in a deity but if you want to, go for it.”) and anti-theists (“There is no G-d and you’d better not worship one!”)

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I’ve heard your “anti-theists” called “High Church atheists”.

          • Yep, think of anti-theist as practicing the “new religion” of atheism. It goes like this, “I don’t like it when religion tries to force their morality on me, so here let me try to force my morality on them.”

          • I strongly recommend avoiding arguments with my husband – he is strongly atheist, somewhat anti-theist, and went almost all the way through a christian college to become a pastor before he realized he was basically going through a lie. Let’s just say he can be a tad… vehement.

        • JMS–the creator of Babylon 5–is either agnostic or atheist, but has the deftest touch for religion I’ve seen on TV.

      • John C. Wright, Author, agrees with your daughter.

        He’s got several posts on the topic– it’s funny, Pullman’s sort of sheer hatred is what helped send Wright from being a quasi-Vulcan atheist into being a quasi-Vulcan Catholic…..

  2. I like your books because they are fun to read and remind me a little of history. I don’t read you for your politics. I read you for your characters and plot. Anyone who reads fiction for life advice is seriously confused!

    • Life advice — EXACTLY. I mean, maybe that was more obvious to me growing up in Portugal, where if I did half the things even women here in mysteries did, it would be a “disgrace for the family.” (Like going out alone in the evening. Like going out with a friend you’re not dating, like…)

  3. I think the explanation for Heinlein hate is simpler, Sarah. He was a staunch, articulate, and influential anti-communist. There are still a lot of people who can’t forgive that.

  4. Sarah, I loved the first Atlas Shrugged movie too!

  5. Martin L. Shoemaker

    I also suspect they hate him because he was an apostate. In his youth, he was more or less a Sinclair socialist and a central planning advocate. One of theirs, in other words. Over time his individualism won out, and he became a leading philosopher of libertarianism. And there’s nothing the left hates more than an apostate.

    • In one of his autobiographies Asimov said as much. He condemned Heinlein for altering his politics to please his new wife. For so intelligent a man Asimov demonstrated some remarkably stupid thinking. Of course, he was a product of his time and wrote some passably good tales so I don’t hold that against him.

      • I think Asimov would have hated the fact that Heinlein wasn’t too keen on Professors or anyone else in authority. His smartest characters get out of the rat race and give advice on successfully doing so (although it wasn’t normal advice and I don’t think that stuff could much happen in reality). Asimov loved academics and made them all knowing, characters with a little egoism that was supposed to be cute. Liberalism in Asimov is not a political philosophy but more of a magical cure to the world.

        • One of the faiths of the time was reflected in a title of a book by David Halberstam about the Kennedy administration and how we became involved in Vietnam: The Best and The Brightest.

          • Yup. You can always tell a book written in the period from the ’40′s to the early ’60′s (especially in the ’50′s) when a “gifted” grad student could explain everything that happened. To be fair academia did a lot of things to help win WWII but it was in areas such as intelligence analysis, spying, weapons development, etc. but the guns were wielded by the soldiers and they often forgot that.

            • The scientists may have bred seed wheat with a better disease resistance and yield, but it is still the farmer who has to do the work to bring the crop to market.

              One might conclude that the stories where the gifted kid explains were a form of revenge of the nerds. For a short point in time the ODDs were seen as potential popular heroes. That is until the people discovered that, in real life, they were still ODD and spoke in wonk at length about things that they could not understand.

              Many of the ODDs simply retreated back into their worlds and worked away at their fields as before. A few learned how to communicate with those who did not share their training. Some had liked the adulation, and felt it was their due. They concluded that if the populace did not see their proper worth and could not understand them it was because the people were at fault and well, common.

              One of the gifts of RAH was that he not only wrote great stories, he wrote his stories so well that his work was accessible to a wide audience. No small feat. (And sometimes his hero were not the certified, but simply the capable and practical.) I think that this is another reason the intelligentsia like to slice and dice him.

              • Rob Crawford

                He also saw the value of the farmer’s work as well as the biologist’s. Maximillian Jones enjoyed his work taking care of the animals, remember. And ISTR that Lazarus Long spent more than one stint as a pioneer/farmer.

      • I cannot read Asimov anymore without remembering his autobiography (read diatribe). It really ruined my love of his I, Robot stories.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          I re-read his _Second Foundation_ and decided that the Second Foundation *should* have really been destroyed. Talk about “Good Men”. [Frown]

          • His Second Foundation troubled me when I read it (in my twenties). After reading his autobiography I understood and won’t touch ‘em.

          • My recommendation to anyone who feels that way is to read Donald M. Kingsbury’s last novel (so far), Psychohistorical Crisis, in which Kingsbury systematically deconstructs Asimov’s Second Foundation and his concept of psychohistory. Kingsbury actually was a mathematician in his day job, with gives his treatment a bit of extra authenticity. And you’ll probably recognize The Admiral when you run into him. . . .

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              William, I found a review of it but IMO Kingsbury makes one big mistake about the “Second Foundation”. His “Second Foundation” is public but Asimov’s were the “secret manipulators” so “loved” by believers in conspiracies. No way would Asimov’s Second Foundation become public knowledge. Sorry but Asimov’s Second Foundation are the “Elders of Zion” and deserved to be destroyed. As C. S. Lewis commented, there’s no worse tyrant than one who controls people for “their own good”. That’s what Asimov’s Second Foundation is. A group operating in secret and manipulating people/nations for “their own good”.

              • I don’t consider that a mistake.

                In the first place, there is no obvious reason to suppose that after the restoration was complete, the Second Foundation would continue to be secret. I don’t see that Asimov ever stated as much. Their secrecy was a tactical choice for the duration of the Interregnum, not a permanent commitment. (It’s been a while since I’ve read the series, so if you can cite text to disprove this, please do so.)

                But in the second place, and more importantly, having the psychohistorians operate in secret, as a hidden conspiracy, actually weakens Kingsbury’s demonstration! It’s easy to envision secretive groups as villains, after all. But here is Kingsbury saying, Okay, they’re entirely out in the open, everybody knows about them, no cloak of secrecy—and the resulting effects are still destructive. Much more compelling.

                I’ve seen Asimov’s psychohistory compared, and I think somewhat convincingly, to Leninism: an inner circle that has true scientific knowledge of the forces that move the masses and can use it to make the best decisions for everyone. But once the Leninists got into power they didn’t continue to veil themselves.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Looks like I’m wrong but it still doesn’t make the Second Foundation look any better.

                  Quote from Chapter 8 of Second Foundation

                  “The solution is the Seldon Plan. Conditions have been so arranged and so maintained that in a millennium from its beginnings—six hundred years from now—a Second Galactic Empire will have been established in which Mankind will be ready for the leadership of Mental Science. In that same interval, the Second Foundation, in its development, will have brought forth a group of Psychologists ready to assume leadership. Or, as I have myself often thought, the First Foundation supplies the physical framework of a single political unit, and the Second Foundation supplies the mental framework of a ready-made ruling class.”

                  End Quote

                  That “Mankind will be ready for the leadership of Mental Science” sounds like a society carefully brain-washed to accept their new masters.

                  • Go re-read Revolt in 2100. The mental conditioning… I’d rather take Coventry.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      But it’s for the “Good Of Mankind”, you can’t decline. [Sad Smile]

                      The C. S. Lewis quote given here so often comes to mind. The worst tyranny will be from those who believe they are doing it for our own good.

                  • Well, surely, but that’s what makes Kingsbury’s treatment interesting: He grants the most optimistic treatment to the Seldon Plan and shows you forces that will still lead to its own self-destruction.

                    Kingsbury is an odd case: He’s written sympathetically of both Communists and Muslims, but he still shows a real sense for both the value of decentralized spontaneous order and the perils of authoritarian centralism imposed by force. And his earlier novel Courtship Rite has one of the most purely sfnal moments of any story I’ve read, in the scene where Oelita the Heretic repents.

                    Of course, Asimov himself deconstructed the assumptions of psychohistory in The End of Eternity. Now that’s an interesting critical look at the costs of the “planned society.”

      • RES, I recall that passage. Asimov was, on this point, an even bigger fool than you describe. He was incapable of seeing that Heinlein was fundamentally anti-totalitarian — which is why he was a vocal anti-Nazi before and during WWII, and a vocal anti-Communist after. Asimov seems to have honestly believed that there was a contradiction between being anti-Nazi and anti-Communist — and that this contradiction in Heinlein’s behaviour could only be attributed to a baleful external influence. He therefore blamed it on the new Mrs. Heinlein.

        ‘Of course he was a product of his time’ is no excuse. We are all products of our times, but that does not excuse people for failing to think rationally when they are clearly capable of it. Millions of people the world over were simultaneously opposed to Nazism and Communism before WWII; millions more were opposed to them both during the period of the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Most of those people had, however reluctantly, to choose between the two after Hitler invaded the U.S.S.R. But one could quite rationally accept the Soviets as a wartime ally without accepting their kind of totalitarianism (or any other kind) as a legitimate form of government. Asimov was never able to see that.

        In fact, Asimov was never able to see that the U.S.S.R. was totalitarian; he seems to have honestly believed that it was not much different from the U.S., except in having a more rationally organized economy (!). Whenever anyone spoke ill of the Soviets, Asimov generally dismissed it as anti-Communist propaganda born of right-wing hysteria or good old American xenophobia. He perfectly fit Orwell’s description of the kind of shallow Leftist who ‘plays with fire without even knowing that fire is hot’.

        • The most logical explanation is that Heinlein marrying Ginny was a result of changes in his thinking, not the cause of it. It says much about Asimov’s biases that he thinks RAH could be led about by his John Thomas, and that only his John Thomas could cause him to change his politics.

          I expect the possibility that RAH may have gotten too clear a look at the actual face of Communism (as did Reagan in Hollywood, as did Whitaker Chambers) to continue to believe they were not totalitarian.

          In many ways smart people are easier to fool outside their specialty. They tend to assume they hold as proportionately significant knowledge outside their specialty as they do within whereas the opposite is more likely, and they are more ego-driven by virtue of being recipient of broad deference within their fields.

          • At least from Patterson’s biography, it looks as if Heinlein was already anti-Communist even when he was a socialist.

            • Perfectly possible. The American socialist party had a rule whereby no Communist could attend any meeting under any capacity whatsoever.

              SDS went by it while they operated under the party’s aegis. Then they let one attend, once, as an observer, and he persuaded them to give it up. When the party tried to rebuke them, they cut free entirely. The Commies, of course, took over. Which explains a lot of the Sixties.

              Look — some socialists who thought something sane! How peculiar!

    • Oh, that’s a very human trait. An outsider so different as to be incomprehensible is often outside our predicted and predictable responses of Us vs. Them. (Weird but true: a politely confused Very Obviously Foreign couple is actually often safer in the ghetto than a lost suburban American couple. Leads to the hilarious-in-retrospect yet terrifying realizations as they happily recount in broken English how they found some nice young dark men in bright red clothing and strange pants standing on a corner who could give them directions… ) But someone who is Heretic – there lies true hatred, naked and unashamed, because it is someone challenges and breaks The Way The World Should Be. Witness the leftist’s hysterical attacks on any hispanic or black American who strays “off the plantation” and out of acceptably leftist political views, the way Islamists pour a hell of a lot of specific effort into killing Bahai and any converts from Islam while they just generally hate some stereotyped mythic America, and the infighting on any unmoderated forum left to fester to itself.

      • No need for the scare quotes. The Democrats have recreated the plantation system. The only difference is instead of having the chattel work in the fields to produce value, a small portion of which is returned to them for sustenance, they are expected to vote their masters into political office, where the power of the state is used to take value from the productive members.

  6. I started out reading Ayn Rand with The Virtue of Selfishness, a collection of essays, largely on ethics; the novels came later. Her ethics really impressed me—here was someone making a serious effort to produce a naturalistic ethics, an ethics compatible with what we know scientifically about human beings as living organisms, and to view ethics as something biologically advantageous. Over the year (that was nearly half a century ago), I’ve come to have different views on her specific positions—but even if I think she got a specific point wrong (for example, she doesn’t take Darwinism into account in her biological foundation for ethics), I’ve found over and over that she gets things right in the overall structure of her ideas, whereas other philosophers, even those from whom I learn things of real value, tend to get the basic structure wrong. Here is a woman whose central themes were the validity of rational, scientific knowledge; the need for ethics to be consistent with biological human nature; the validity of eudaemonism (happiness—as distinct from pleasure—as the purpose of ethics); constitutional government based on individual rights; and the merits of the free market as an economic system. That’s a really good set of central values!

    I’d also note that the two philosophers for whom Rand expressed consistent admiration were Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. I think those were good choices; I’ve learned a huge amount from Aristotle, though his economics is dubious.

    As to her fiction, well, she’s not my favorite novelist—that would have to be Tolkien—but I consider Atlas Shrugged the greatest pulp novel ever written. The pulp writers weren’t brilliant stylists, but they offered other enjoyments. But if you can’t get through her style, you can’t. I seem to be more bothered by writers who are too mannerist: I can’t enjoy Banks or Wolfe, and while I can get through Vance, the substance of what he wrote evaporates in my brain, leaving only a dry flavor. No accounting for tastes.

    • It’s an ESL thing, I think. I have this issue with all ESL authors, which comes pretty from me — but I think that’s the problem, it reminds me too much of my own writing and throws me into editing mode.

      And I have the same problem with to polished a writer. I like Pratchett’s style, and F. Paul Wilson’s.

      I’ll just have to wait for more movies on Rand’s books.

      • I found Rand’s books unreadable. I was able to “read” Atlas as an audiobook (abridged, dangit) and found myself agreeing with her ideas (few of which were new to me, having read Heinlein & Ditko and observed Reagan) but her characters were just too wooden to be believed (and I admit believing some very wooden characters in my time.)

        I also find what I gather about her personal life more than a little off-putting, and I am generally very tolerant about author’s personal lives (as in: I don’t care what authors do in their personal lives, only what turns up in their books.)

        Which does nothing to invalidate her thesis.

      • Have you seen the Italian one, Noi Vivi/We the Living? It’s really brilliantly made, by far the best film treatment of Rand, and beautifully captures the cinematic quality of her writing. Alida Valli and Rossano Brazzi were both well cast.

        As I understand the story, the Italian fascists approved its making and release, because they thought of it as an attack on communism—and then when people crowded into the theaters to see it, they caught on that it worked equally well as an attack on fascism, and suppressed it.

        • Black or Red fascism, as Heinlein called it — I shall have to track it down. I already have on my list tracking down Don Camilo.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Working on the generalization that describes the Red and Black Fascisms is what led me to the ‘Feral Children. Ah. This is happening in our society. The inner cities are a test bed.’ nightmare of intuitive modeling last night.

            • How’s about Green fascism? I think a bit of that’s popped up lately.

              • They’re riding the red pony, though. It’s like Christmas… The reds are using them as a battering ram and excuse. The problem is that the idiots don’t realize they’d be the first against the wall.

                • I actually think there are three flavors of Green, at least. There are the Greens who are motivated by prudence and good manners, and perhaps misinformed about the facts of the situation (many people don’t have time to assess what they hear on the news about environmental change critically). There are the watermelons, the ones you’re describing. And then there are the human extinction Greens, the ones who actually think the human race dying out is desirable or even obligatory.

              • BobtheRegisterredFool

                There are the Green Fascists who are Red Fascists dressing in green clothing. The purely green, human extermination Green Fascists work in support of the other sort of Fascist. They are most effective at hurting populations by fiddling with food an energy supplies. a) Decreases in overall population also decrease the amount of population outside of Fascist influence, decreasing the manpower to fight them off. b) Increases in human suffering make it easier for Fascists to fish in troubled waters.

                • There is a joke in German, so I am told, that when you mix green and red you get brown.
                  (speaking of fascism)

              • They’re Watermelons! Green on the outside, Red inside!

      • > I’ll just have to wait for more movies on Rand’s books.

        I’m not a Randite, but I’d pay good money to see Anthem as a movie.

        • I’d pay good money to see Atlas Shrugged as a series of movies. Unfortunately what I saw in the theater didn’t live up to it. About the only good thing was the actress who played Lillian Rearden in the first film, who was a really convincing bitch. It’s a shame, too, because when I read the novel, one thing that jumps out at me is that Rand clearly was visualizing the camera angles and set designs for every single scene; half of the work that goes into turning a novel into a film was already done, and done better than the makers of the first film did it.

        • Incidentally, you can hear Anthem as a rock opera, on Rush’s 2112.

    • She may have expressed admiration for Aristotle but she took very little from him. Reading her works, what I find most notable is her praise of reason followed by incessant repeating of her own premises as it were an argument. Also, a habitual tendency to quote herself as if no one else — not even Aristotle — ever said anything worth saying, even on a topic where other people have said lots and lots. Like an essay on Envy in which it would never occur to you that anyone else disapproved, let alone regarded it as a Deadly Sin.

      • Like an essay on Envy in which it would never occur to you that anyone else disapproved, let alone regarded it as a Deadly Sin.

        Sorta the way the Dems and MSM (but I repeat myself) condemned George W Bush as arrogant for not heeding their advice.

      • From the Aristotle I’ve read, I think you are clearly wrong. Rand’s concept of axioms comes straight from Aristotle’s use of dialectic (as opposed to Hegel’s and Marx’s bastardized versions of it). Her “prior certainy of existence” reflections the Aristotelian idea of intentionality, as Den Uyl and Rasmussen discuss in the first essay in their book on Rand. Francisco d’Anconia’s summary of his teacher as having taught that “everything is something” (or as Rand later puts it more formally, that existence is identity) is Aristotle’s hylomorphism, the inseperability of Matter and Form. The metabiological foundation of her ethics is taken straight from Aristotle’s view of living organisms—which accounts for its failure to take account of Darwin’s theories in its key ideas. The portrayal of Howard Roark, the hero of The Fountainhead, is practically line for line Aristotle’s “great-souled man” in the Nicomachean Ethics, right down to tiny details; and as Tara Smith discusses, her conception of “rational self-interest” draws on the treatment of prudence in classical ethics generally. That’s more than “very little,” especially given the centrality of these ideas in Rand’s philosophy.

        Of course, one could suppose that Rand invented all those ideas entirely for herself. But I think it makes more sense to suppose that she fell short in giving credit (rather than in actually learning from Aristotle).

        • I have read her non-fiction. I do not see what you claim to be seeing.

          • Well, one of us is in error. I won’t attempt to establish which; the comments page of another person’s blog is no place for citing chapter and verse at the length that would be needed to make a case for my view. If you don’t find Rand worth rereading, I don’t see that you’re under any obligation to do so; let’s just note the disagreement and pass on.

            • Neither of you are right and both.

              The beauty of righting is we all pull out something different. You are both right in that is your understanding of the work, but as to her intent? Unless we discover time travel & mind reading we will never know the truth.

              People are not static. People grow and their understandings change. Their is a shift between “The Fountainhead” & “Atlas Shrugged”, and an interesting read is Ayn Rands Journals, but only give snippets in time.

              • The beauty of writing, too though you have an interesting typo. (What? I can too make fun of typos. They do of mine all the time.)

                What is really interesting is how I view things differently at different ages, too.

              • Neither of us is right and both? I’m envisioning Ayn Rand turning over in her grave at such a sentiment. . . .

                For me the interesting shift is actually the one between We the Living, when her Nietzschean influence was still strong, and The Fountainhead, which is much more Aristotelian—which in fact has a plot driven in large part by the encounter between Gail Wynand (the Nietzschean figure) and Howard Roark (the Aristotelian one). A developmental perspective on Rand’s writing seems to apply there very well.

            • *applauds politely at the intentional aversion of a potential flame war*

  7. Good post, Sarah.
    I think the first SF I ever read was a Heinlein – it warped my thinking about SF for the rest of my life. I mean, if it didn’t read like a Heinlein, it wasn’t *really* science fiction! And over the years I’ve read a LOT of SF.

    Heinlein’s characters were ones who were pushed by the circumstances they found themselves in, found ways to either change the circumstances or overcome them, and did so entirely with the Tanstaafl understanding. If they didn’t do it, they couldn’t rely on some deux ex machina to do it for them. And if life and or success depended on it, they’d better get humping.

    I have a confession to make. I’ve only read a part of one of your stories out of the Baen Free Library. But on the other hand, I’ve been reading a lot of your blog postings! (Yeah, I know – that doesn’t exactly pay the water bill.) But I’ll get around to it.
    In the mean time, thanks for giving voice to what a lot of us believe.

  8. Am I holding Heinlein up as a paragon? Kids, no one in early SF was a paragon.

    No one – period* – was a paragon**. Mother Thersea was criticized as enabling tyrants. Criticizing your parents because they don’t live up to your absurd unrealistic expectations is adolescent. It is the intellectual equivalent of meeting a new guy and going through all sorts of ruses to avoid him discovering you eliminate feces.

    *Even Jesus could lose his temper. Most here know enough about Gandhi to strike him from the roll. I venture to say that if anybody was a paragon it is only because we don’t know enough about them. To be human is to be flawed; anybody without flaws is inhuman.

    **Contrarily, I would hold up Stalin and Mao and Pol Pot as paragons of evil.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Mao loved his mother, for certain values of love.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Oedipus and his mom didn’t know at first, so there may have been an approximation of true love there.

          • The whole tragic story started when Oedipus’ parents abandoned him because it was predicted that he would kill his father and marry his mother. He was adopted and raised as the child of another couple.

            When he grew up he went to an oracle who predicted he would murder his father and marry his mother. Fearing this he fled his home. He meets a man on the road, they argue and Oedipus kills him.

            Then Oedipus rescues a city from the thrall of the Spinx and is awarded its recently widowed Queen for a wife. Oedipus sets out to find out who killed his new wife’s husband. When they find out the truth of the story, that the man on the road was her husband and that Oedipus was their child, she commits suicide and he blinds himself and goes into exile.

            A good time was had by few. Moral of the story: Life sucks and fate is a bitch.

      • And he was a trained librarian. This may not be a sufficient counterweight, morally.

        • BobtheRegisterredFool

          Chung and Halliday’s Mao: The Unknown Story was involved in taking me from a mild to moderate anti-communist to a rabid anti-communist.

          For certain values of love is me thinking that there might be parts of that relationship that weren’t entirely sick and twisted. Ways in which he might not be considered entirely evil and destructive in everything he did since being born.

    • Anger is the appropriate emotion when faced with evil doing.

  9. I loved the the 1st Atlas Shurged too. I haven’t seen part 2, and have friends that said don’t bother.

    I never saw her characters as evil. Unless you define evil as letting people reap what they sow; in every sense.

    There is a term in drug recover called enablers, and an addict can not kick the habit; as long as, they have a support structure in place. An other thing is that those with bad habits only ever change when they hit their personal bottom. Often they don’t servive. Interventions rarely work, and if they do, it’s not for long.

    The US has not hit the bottom. I voted Garry Johnson. And, I would of vote Obama before I voted Romney, because Romney had no plan to stop the ship of state. At best he would of just slowed us down on our course for the Cliffs of Insanity.

    I think of it this way; Stupid Should Hurt! How else do we learn not to do stupid things. When you try to avoid consequence or lessen the repercussion all you get is more stupid.

    What we haven’t learned to do yet is not to meddle (see this comment.), at least this is true of me.

    Things I learned from Robert E. Heinlein.

    The difference between good lazy & bad lazy.

    And, never be rude. ( I said I learned it. Not that I was any good at it.)

    The how we treat each other is a sign of the health of s society.

    S/F greats always ask the good question that others fear to ask
    :-)
    Josh

    • *blink blink* Obama is preferable to Romney b/c Romney wouldn’t be able to do much to immediately counteract Obama’s policies? What?

      • Perhaps under the theory that if we can’t avoid the Cliffs of Insanity, the best way to minimize damage is to rush headlong over them.

        On Thu, Feb 28, 2013 at 9:13 AM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > ** > txgecko commented: “*blink blink* Obama is preferable to Romney b/c > Romney wouldn’t be able to do much to immediately counteract Obama’s > policies? What?” >

      • I think what Josh was saying was that by tapping the brakes without changing course, Romney would relax some of the passengers while still taking us over the cliff. Think of it as a variant of the argument that we have to elect Republicans for the MSM to do their job properly instead of being a PR branch of the administration.

        There is an old joke about an American attending his first dinner with royalty and being confused by the fact that every time the Queen farts somebody else at the table begs pardon. After a whispered explanation that it would be lese majeste for the Queen to apologize, the American stands after Her next passing and announces, “Your Majesty, this one is on me.” That describes the situation when the MSM has an Obama at the table.

        • Which is even funnier when you bring in the current White House threats against Woodward and Lanny Davis for not toeing the line.

          We can use your example to say that the White House is furious that they are known for farting.

      • This is under the principle that going over the cliff explosively is better than sliding gently down the embankment or even (slowly) turning it around. It’s an illusion of the very young, as is the idea that if you announced you were running to dismantle the Federal government you could ever get elected, even post-crash. Sigh. The vote is given too young.

        • This was given under the theory that if you were old enough to fight and die for your country, you should be old enough to have a say in what you were fighting and dieing for. This is good in theory, only our society has extended the adolescent period long beyond historic norms. Sometimes almost indefinitly, I have met numerous middle-aged adolescents.

          This is at least partially an effect of our technological advancement, historically those that didn’t advance past adolescence seldom survived until middle age, and if they did it wasn’t a comfortable or influental existence.

          • yes. We’re suffering from scion of noble family syndrome.

          • I’ve lately seen Barnes and Noble offering books in a new category, “New Adult,” defined as being for those who are no longer teenagers (“Young Adult”) but aren’t adults yet (“General Fiction”). We could have used Tolkien’s “tweens” for them if it hadn’t been appropriated for sub-teenage consumers already, of course.

          • … under the theory that if you were old enough to fight and die for your country, you should be old enough to have a say in what you were fighting and dieing for.

            The fallacy here is that the two acts require equivalent skill sets. Fighting and dying for your country requires you to do what you’re told. Having a say in what requires judgement, understanding of the way the world works and the intelligence to reach conclusions.

            Admittedly, not so many 21-year olds posses either skill set.

        • It really depends on how you look at it. I would rather pull the bandaid of quickly.

          Our political class works on the premiss of just kick the can down the road, just long enough that you don’t get blamed for what happens. Also with the hope that the problems will just magicaly go away. This goes bact to, stupid should hurt and trying to avoid the consequences of *our*(Spent a good portion of my life with my head in the sand; just living it.) stupidity.

          Your working under the impression, and you could be right, that the loss of life and hardship will be less.

          But, take the bailouts. Using what happend in 1920 & 1929 as an example. We can either prolong our sufering or get it over with. Will our side be strong enough to rebuild after is another question.

          As to my age, I’ll be 40 in August. My mental age is closer to 12; I am a guy. ;-)

          • Voting for this years Libertarian nominee or “Mickey Mouse” or anyone other than a candidate who can mathematically win the election is voting for the incumbent. Period.

            It can make one feel better (temporarily) to vote for protest candidates, but it does nothing to change the course of the polity, and after a while you get the “What have I done” effect, which kind of wipes out the “feel better” part.

            • No voting for Obama would of been voting for Obama.
              ;-) This reasoning annoys me.

              I voted for who I thought had the best plan for fixing the country. I also voted Ted Cruz.

              It’s the reason that cannidates like can even exist in our political procces.

              If you want to get into the blame game, I can blame all the voters that voted Romney in the primaries for picking a crappy canidate or the actual Obama voters for voting for him.
              :-)

              • Emotionally I agree with you, logically FlyingMike is right however. Gary Johnson is a poor choice to prove this point, because realistically he didn’t garner enough votes to make a difference, look at Perot however, regardless of how well he would have done as President he didn’t have a chance of being elected, all he did is act as a spoiler to take away votes from the Republican candidate and cause Clinton to be elected with a minority vote.

                The Leftists are much better organized in this respect than us, as Sarah says, “the individualists failed to organize.” As collectivists they never run spoiler candidates, while those opposing them often do.

                • I agree with him to a point. I even had myself talked into voting for Romney up until RNC when the establishment in the GOP showed their true colors. I did vote for Romney in the Primary as that is when it truly matters we vote for who we think is the best candidate. I was prepaired to support who ever won, but the RNC…

                  Point of fact I could of voted fifty times for Garry I don’t think it would of mattered to the out come.

                  • PS I live in Texas.

                    • Where in TX?

                    • I’m in Dallas

                    • Ahhh…. Glenn Beck country.

                      It’s called that now… righ? ;-)

                    • I would hope so, else you had no business voting for Cruz (long may he serve.)

                      In Texas you, as an individual, could vote for anybody you wanted because Romney was going to win the state’s electoral vote and no individual vote was going to affect that.

                      In a Battleground state, such as Colorado, Ohio, North Carolina or several others it might matter for whom you vote.

                      One other factor to keep in mind is that the presidential candidates may differ only slightly, but their appointments matter greatly. Romney would have to strain mightily to find any Supreme Court justice as liberal as the most conservative person Obama would nominate. Romney would never put Chuck Hagel in any kind of serious position, nor would he nominate a Jack Lew to Treasury.

                      Additionally, Paul Ryan is world’s better than Joe Biden. Unquestionably — this is a test of sanity; if you do not agree you are not sane.

                      Even more importantly, a Romney Administration would never escape MSM scrutiny like the Obamacracy does. Imagine the media swarm if a Benghazi-type incident occurred under a Romney presidency.

                    • That’s why I’m not an Ojectivist. Sometimes I get pissed and go with the emotions. ;-)
                      As to tests of sanity. Was does sanity have to do with our current government.

                      Something I wrote, and I won’t link to it because it’s short.

                      Bureaucracy Defined
                      If insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results, then…

                      A bureaucracy is defined as where you fix multi-dysfunctional systems by adding another overarching layer.

                      Government Insanity.

                      Sigh…,
                      Josh

                  • Oopsy,

                    Correction: damn contractions.

                    Should of read I did[n't] vote for Romney in the primaries.

                    • Neither did I, I did however in the General, although I live in a state that I believe goes even more heavily Republican than Texas (Idaho).

                      And RES beat me to the punch with the line, “I would hope so, else you had no business voting for Cruz ” ;)

                • Also, seriously, Gary Johnson, was willing to risk the country being destroyed (No, Josh, I’m NOT sure we’ll survive the next four years, and I’m ALMOST sure we’ll lose at least one city, maybe two) because HE wanted to be in the spotlight.

                  Romney wasn’t a wonderful REPUBLICAN, but he was the best candidate we could field, and he could have started the economic turn around. (Thinking we get a social turnaround without massive changes to the culture, which will take TIME is a pipe dream.) Then we could deal with the other issues with time. Now we’re not going to have time, and I’m not sure if we’ll survive this.

                  And actually if libertarians had voted, in important areas, and always assuming there wasn’t MASSIVE fraud (there was) it could have flipped it. Where it counted the difference was 400k votes and change.

                  • Also, seriously, Gary Johnson, was willing to risk the country being destroyed (No, Josh, I’m NOT sure we’ll survive the next four years, and I’m ALMOST sure we’ll lose at least one city, maybe two) because HE wanted to be in the spotlight.

                    I’m thinking this is in reference to him wanting to cute 43% acroos the board out of our budget including military.

                    Hmmm… Agree to disagree?

                    • Oopsy no blockquotes

                    • Yes, we can disagree on that, it is a very simplistic solution, in fact your ‘cute’ typo is an excellent description of it.

                      Nothing wrong with the 43% figure, but not across the board, many programs could take 100% cuts and leave the country better off, others like the military need budget allocation adjustments, not budget cuts.

                      Of course instead we have Obama, who claims to want signifigant military cuts (among other things detrimental to the military, like affirmative action) while at the same time expanding their usage, which necessarily expands their budget, at least if you want them to be used successfully. Which possibly Obama doesn’t desire.

                    • Curious, isn’t it, that the only cuts Obama seems to support are the actual cuts in military spending, while he is hysterically scare-mongering over cuts in the rate of growth of other programs. It is almost as if the military spending is not a fundamental responsibility of the Federal government.

                    • One of the few jobs that is appropriate to the federal government is the defense department. It would be nice if the world worked on a: I leave you alone/you leave me alone paradigm. There is no proof that isolationism will work, and a good deal of evidence that it has not.

                    • Isolationism actually does work to an extent, look at North Korea. No I’m not suggesting we emulate North Korea, and they aren’t truly isolationist, but what international relations they have are almost all with their ‘allies.’

                      There are two ways to be isolationist successfully, 1) have nothing anybody else wants bad enough to bother with. 2) Have the military capability and intestinal fortitude stomp anybody who messes with you back into the stone age, and then put the boots to them so they can’t get back up.

                      The first is very hard to do, somebody will always want something, if it is only an easy supply of women, and not very desireable if achieved. Chances are if nobody wants anything you have, you don’t have much of what you want or need. The second needs to be proven a couple times to have the desired effect, and to many US citizens get serious heartburn when it is even mentioned for it to ever be feasable without a drastic change in circumstances.

                    • Here’s the thing: we really don’t have the lack of resources to go with option 1 and to do option 2 we not only have to maintain a healthy military but still have to willing to engage once someone ignore our isolationist stance.

                      I am not so sure that North Korea holds an isolationist stance. Yes, the government chooses to isolate its people, but it is willing to take western and Chinese ‘aid’. They develop and build weapons with other counties and they sell those weapons. They continue to make threats and plead poverty so it can get more western and Chinese aid (which it doesn’t give to its general population).

                      Switzerland is more successful. Not entirely isolationist, no, but they get left alone, and are very picky about how long and which outsiders stay. They do that by virtue of the fact that they hold so many people’s money…

                    • Oh, I agree, I was trying to point out that while to some extent possible, isolationism isn’t really feasable for the US. Switzerland also has a VERY large militia (as in every household is REQUIRED to have military style weapons) and terrain than is very well suited for guerrilla style tactics. They could be destroyed, but invading, conquering and subjugating them would be a nightmare to make Afghanistan look like a pleasurable vacation.

            • One name– Perot… and then there were others– I agree with you FlyingMike.

            • Depends on your state. I’m a Californian; no matter how I voted, California was going for the Democrats. So I voted for Gary Johnson, whom I actually like.

          • “As to my age, I’ll be 40 in August. My mental age is closer to 12; I am a guy.”

            Going by what I’ve seen you write so far, I would have put you in your early 20′s. Mostly subtracting a few years from the content of your posts due to the spelling/phrasing. Of course my husband (who is older than I) says he feels like he isn’t any older than 35. He often wonders where that grey-haired geezer in the mirror came from. :)

            • I had the same problem with Josh’s age because I was thinking 20s as well. My hubby when he was in his 40s was more mature– (sorry Josh but true) except he had to take care of himself from the time he was seven. (His foster parents were in their 80s, one died when he was seven and the other died when he was 12). My hubby had to take care of them. Also, being raised by an older generation his values were of that age. I liked that in him– so when I got the hooks in, I didn’t let him go. ;-)

            • :-)

              Well I didn’t do a lot of mental growing or much socializing between my my mid 20′s to mid 30′s so…. I just kind of was.
              :-)

    • Wayne Blackburn

      Never be rude

      What?!? Are you sure you actually ever read Heinlein? His characters were frequently complete bastards. Even when talking with someone who they liked, if that person was doing things or asking questions that the character didn’t think were reasonable.

      • A rude Heinlein character is nothing on an Internet flamewar. Being rude without wallowing in it… is a fine skill.

      • Perhaps “blunt” is a better description for those characters?

      • Heinlein also pointed out that if you have the chance to vote for SLIGHTLY better you should do so, because the difference between bad and horrible, in a society is FAR more marked than between best and better. (To understand this, imagine we could go back in time and replace Hitler with someone who didn’t have a Jew-phobia. It will still put Europe to fire and blood, but it saves most of the cultural institutions of Europe and, what’s more, doesn’t give us the state as efficient killing machine,which the rest of the 20th century kept.)

        • Here’s the problem with that hypothesis: it’s already been tested and disproven. The 2nd-greatest mass murderer of the 20th century (Stalin) had already killed more of his own people before WW2 began than Hitler did during the entire Nazi period. (I’d argue that Mao didn’t particularly need Hitler’s example either, but he did come later, so the case isn’t as clear-cut.)

          Of course, one could sensibly argue that, had Germany been ruled during that period by some other fascist who (like Mussolini or Franco or, for that matter, Tojo) didn’t particularly care about jews one way or the other, he might have done a better job running the country and the war effort, leading to fascism-that-admits-to-being-fascism (as opposed to the kind that denies it, which is everywhere) still being a viable political philosophy today. That would probably be a bad thing.

          But it would also be a different argument. :)

          • I don’t see where changing the death rate changes how acceptable it is today. It’s more “how do you seduce the intellectuals?” Note communism is still “hip” today. (Rolls eyes.) And Marxism has infiltrated everything.

            • Changing the death rate wouldn’t. As you point out, Marxism is all over the place, and on the death count Hitler was a piker compared to his Marxist contemporaries and almost-contemporaries.

              No, I’m talking about _winning the war_.

              • Oh. Yeah . That’s a different argument. We’d still have all the nonsense of “superior races” if he’d won. (gags.)

                • “We’d still have all the nonsense of “superior races” if he’d won”

                  Would we? If he would have concentrated on actually creating a superior military entity, instead of believing because as a race they were superior (ignoring the fact that having to kill of the ‘inferior race’ because they are, at least in your mind, outperforming the ‘superior race’ already disproves your thesis), any lingering ‘superior race’ notions may have faded, instead of being perpetuated.

                  On the other hand, by winning the war he would have created not a superior race, but militarily superior society. For his purposes society and race would have been interchangeable. As in the Mongols were not a militarily superior race, they were however a militarily superior society, for the practical purposes of the leadership, the terms are interchangeable.

                • Rob Crawford

                  ” We’d still have all the nonsense of “superior races” if he’d won. ”

                  We DON’T have that nonsense still? Look at some of the tripe coming from the mouths of “multiculturalists”. They may not OPENLY state their beliefs in racial superiority, but look at who they consider capable of conscious action and who the consider little more than bundles of reflexes.

              • The Germans targeted groups and dissidents. The Marxists, while seeking to eliminate dissidents, also treated their own as entirely disposable.

                • The Marxists also targeted groups. Which was in their origin. Engels divided peoples into the “world-historic” ones, and “non-historic” others, whose task was to perish.

            • Isn’t “changing the death rate” somewhat of an endorsement of the “one death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic” philosophy?

              A million deaths is a million tragedies. I do not know how they accumulate, whether it is 1 X 1,000,000 or whether it is 1 time 10 to the 1,000.000 — and I don’t want to know.

          • Stalin killed like Napoleon: targeting people who disagree with executions or prison with terrible conditions and impossible work. The application of modern mass production concepts to their actions, the systemic targeting of various people (Jews, Romani, Homosexuals, International Communists, useless eaters, etc.) and the ‘showers’ were a new innovations.

            (The Spouse quips* that it was one of the early hallmarks in recycling – soap, paving materials, lamp shades and the like.)

            * We are a household which practices dark humor.

            • Tell that to the victims of the Holodomor. Ethnic groups were certainly targeted by Marxists.

              • I think the arguement was between Stalin and Hitler, not Marxism and Nazism. Where it gets blurred is that Stalin won, creating an avenue for Marxism to spread through, and the resulting ethnic cleansing you mention.

                • Regarding Holodomor: I am not sure that the Ukraine and the Cossacks were targeted simply because they were Ukrainian, but rather because they disagreed with the economic and land policies such as the compulsory collectivization and that they, therefore, did not want to be part of the Soviet Union.

                  (Consider the famine that has struck in Zimbabwe as a result of assigning farms to people who have never farmed before…)

        • I’ve never been one to buy into the lesser of to evils, argument. I would much rather everyone vote for who they think is the best canidate for the job right or wrong.

          The Germans could of also voted for someone didn’t have world concring on the mind & none of it would of happend.

          • The Germans could [have] also voted for someone [who] didn’t have world [conquering] on the mind & none of it would of [happened].

            Nowhere close to proven. Stalin (who clearly had world conquering on his mind) had active plans for attacking Germany through Poland, as did the French, especially the more extreme generals in the French Army. Given a better run interwar German government to head off Hitler and a more-towards-Mussolini-type government taking over in Paris, I can see a completely reasonable alt-hist scenario of a Fascist France attacking Germany in 1941 or so, with Stalin jumping in to take Poland and the Brits either staying out completely or even ending up fighting on the German side in defense of Poland and the low countries.

            There is no question Hitler’s Germany kicked off the festivities in Europe, but the piles of dry kindling were just lying around all over the place after WWI, and something was bound to light it all up again once they’d had time to grow another generation of soldiers.

            • It is, in fact, a long war, not two wars, I think.

              • My point was you never know the future. You can guess at a posoble outcome, but you never truly know untill it happens.

                • Josh– certain trends happen again and again because certain people don’t learn there history lessons (i.e. about the -isms) so you can know the future after watching the leaders and see how they were educated and what they believe. I predicted the slumping house prices in 1992 when I saw what was happening with construction and banking. It was pretty obvious to me that we had been over-inflated for years. (i.e. when the prices are up, but you can’t get a good interest rate on your savings account). So maybe that is how my mind thinks.

                  As for today– there is a chance that what I am seeing can be changed if the right person had been elected. Now– I am seeing a president use fearmongering to get mo’money. Soon we will all be equally poor and equally unable to pay our bills. Because we have some brainwashed educated twats voting, we will be marched into belonging to the government (instead of the government belonging to us). Then if certain populations resist there will be killing fields.

                  Read the communist manifesto– read the history of Cambodia, Mao’s China, Stalin’s Russia, East Germany and then weep.

                  I am hoping we didn’t miss our chance for this election. Already Democratic Rep. Jose Serrano is trying to get the 22 amendment (the one that limits presidential terms) repealed or at the very least a new Constitutional amendment that allows more presidential terms. I was predicting this (a grab for power) in 2008.

                  So those are my examples of watching the trends and then extrapolating the future– it can be done, sadly.

                  • Yes, you can extrapolate certain trends, but they are not certanties.

                    Take Romney take his 57 page plan had us returning to Bush level of spending, but that would of had us still growing the debt. It wasn’t till later he took on Ryan’s plan even then his plan doesn’t fix the problem.

                    Where would that leave us? In a slightly less leaky boat.

                    • A much less leaky boat actually– But now we are drowning. I really understand what you are pointing out– I would love to see another Ronald Reagan or statesman who really loved our Country. I don’t see one– so I want someone who won’t sink us completely so that we can train one that will be able to lead us– or several someones who were Constitutionalists. We need to educated our own.

                    • Also back to history– a complete tear down of a country is NOT a solution. It causes a lot more problems (i.e. death, destruction, and illness).

                    • It’s not that I want us to fail, but that I think the momentum is to great.

                      The difference between the market crash of 1920 and the one 1929 is that the 1920 crash was allowed to correct itself, lasted about a year. When in a year done, were people hurt, yes. But the majority survived. 1929 & trying to prop up the bubble lead to 10 years of misery.

                    • I agree with you about the propping when it deals with using Leftist propaganda. But, as a person who went through the Carter years and then the Reagan years, I still think a complete crash will cause more problems than solve. Plus we are seeing something slightly different as in a world that has gone mad with Marxism. I think if we cut down many of the large bureaucracies that things will get better. BUT it won’t get done all at once–

                      What will save us is the people who are building systems that will take over after the crash (if there is actually people out there doing it). We will need electricity, sewer, water– food transportation just to continue…

                    • Loss of infrastructure. Loss of CIVILIZATION. The last time this happened with the leading country of the world was France, which never recovered. Before that it was Rome and it took 500 years to get back to that level of CIVILIZATION.

                      Extreme libertarians have the same fantasy as communists: Total collapse — ?????? — We win!

                      Neither will be right. Chaos wins.

                    • At no point have I stated that we win as a certainty. There is a possibility, and only that, of pulling something from the ashes.

                      There are no guaranties in life, but one.

                      And I do hope I’m wrong.

                    • EXACTLY– chaos means strong men, tribal wars, starvation and disease.

                    • Awww, c’mon – Total Collapse worked just fine for the Weimar Germans, the White Russians and the Nationalist Chinese.

                    • How is that different from what we have now?

                      That wasn’t ment to be flipent, but an actual question.

                    • Josh– I am trying to think how to explain this to you w/o sounding pedantic. First look at the things we have here in the US– running water, sewage systems, highways, transportation, etc. We live in the most prosperous times of the entire human history.

                      The Lefts want us to believe that we cannot work together because of our skin color (i.e. we are tribal), that we need a strong man to care for us (like the entire previous history), and that we must have every desire catered to to be a free. They want to pat us on the head (there, there) and tell us that they can care for us better than we can ourselves.

                      There is a reason that the Constitution was considered a great experiment. We have a country where we have enough freedom to innovate food sources, medicine & medical procedures, and we have one of the largest mobile populations in the world. You can go live anywhere you want to live. In some countries you have to get a permit to live in certain cities or even permits to leave your village.

                      We are also the supplier of vaccines and medical supplies to the third world. I have lived in Panama City, Panama where there was a dictator (called Presidente). There is a fear that we don’t see in the States. The houses were all covered in bars, and there were guards in the communities. It’s only been recently that we are seeing the same thing in the States.

                      It is the feral children (w/o religion or parental training) who have become tribal. Most of us (over 50) are still living the previous decades–

                      What I am trying to say is unless you have been to a third world country and have lived on the economy, you have never experienced strong men, tribal wars, starvation, and disease.

                      These generations (up to WWII) haven’t actually experienced it– (to be fair, my parents were children during WWII and they did experience hunger— BUT NOT starvation).

                      Did I answer your question?

                    • I think that is my biggest problem is I’ve never been good at settling, and all you get is good enough. I see us slinding into the pit, I don’t see how to stop it. Sometimes I act, damn the consquences I’ll live with them or not.

                      I think RES would of been more accurate. Instead of test for sanity, it was a test of maturity?

                      Hmmm….

                    • Settle? Settle? That makes me laugh because I left home and joined the Navy because I wouldn’t settle.

                      I think we need a maturity test as well… however, who or what will write this test?

                      I don’t see how to stop it either except to do the very best I can right now. Hopefully in my words and stories. I am not for government anything (except as defined by the Constitution). So now I see that I can do nothing– that I will probably be one of the first in front of a death panel. I don’t believe you understand a thing I said– and right now I am feeling like my parents when they tried to tell us why touching the stove will burn us. ;-) I guess experience is the only way for some people. And yes, I have been burned– by voting what I thought were my convictions– and then we had Clinton for eight years.

                      I am a Constitutionalist– and have been my entire life. So I am the last person to say that you shouldn’t do something. I have done things to better my life– I just feel very unhappy that while I was defending my Country that my Country was already sliding into the abyss of Marxism. I do feel betrayed– I am not the first military person to feel betrayed though. Plus with the newest round of betrayals (denying 2nd amendment rights to disabled and returning Vets) I won’t be the last to feel betrayed.

                    • Cyn
                      The spoiled children of our society don’t even KNOW they’re spoiled. I just wish the rest of us didn’t have to take the spanking along with them.

                      This “I get what I want or let it all be destroyed” sounds good — until you have children and young people you care about, d*mn it.

                    • Exactly– many of them cannot see that they are spoiled. I know that my grandfather felt the same about the hippie generation. He found their antics unbelievable. I find the Occupy and the kid that tried to steal our truck last night unbelievable too. There is a feeling of entitlement that really ticks me off and also scares me.

                    • You were only allowed to fight enemies external.

                      Veterans have been being betrayed by government since … forever. Recite Kipling’s Tommy three times … or watch this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzLjkIKWH6c

                    • I read it very recently RES– thanks for the reminder though– ;-)

                    • I turned 18 August of ’91 voted for guess who. ;-) then joined the Navy after highschool 92 to 96.

                      Did vote or get political again until 2008. Talked myself into voting McCain. New Obama would be a disaster. If after 4 years under Obama we had learned our lesson….

                      I kind of shocked when Obama won.

                    • I was shocked too– Josh– I was in the Navy from 88-94. Plus I was a CTM. I was 32 when I left and started working as a contractor. We didn’t come back to the States until after I became ill in 2003 (I was 41). I have been mostly out of the States from the time I was 27 and until we came back when I was 41. So it was a big shock when I came back to the States.

                    • I am also an August baby– except I turned 18 in 1979. lol

                    • Ah yes, allowing the pursuit of perfection to get in the way of the best possible.

                      Yes it is something that a bit of travel to the less shiny parts of the world and a few rude awakenings can knock out of you. The culture shock of being sent away to school, from a major northeastern center to a very rural area in the southern Appalachians, probably was one of the best things that ever happened to me.

                    • I hope I am wrong too– I want us to live as free people again.

                    • Back to the leaky boat metaphor, yes Romney would still have us in a leaky boat, but if we bailed like heck, we might have been able to keep afloat long enough to get within swimming distance of shore. As it is Obama is sailing us out to sea, while at the same time enlarging the hole with an ax.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      I always envisioned Obama bailing like mad into the boat, while calling for everyone to help, so we don’t sink.

                    • Yes. THAT is exactly it.

                    • The key frase being, “if we bail like crazy”

                      The problem is half the people in the boat are going, “Hey man! Why you trying to stop the leaks, man. I’m thirsty.”

                      Have I beat that metaphor like a dead…..

                    • Mr. Blackburn:

                      Of course Obama is bailing into the boat. You see, it’s the only logical thing to do. The only way to stop the boat from sinking is to empty out the ocean; and where are you going to put all that water, if not in the boat?

                      Hence all the rhetoric about spending one’s way out of debt.

                    • Actually, read “The Last of the Light Brigade” for the Kipling take on vets.

                      There were thirty million English who talked of England’s might,
                      There were twenty broken troopers who lacked a bed for the night.
                      They had neither food nor money, they had neither service nor trade;
                      They were only shiftless soldiers, the last of the Light Brigade.

                      They felt that life was fleeting; they kuew not that art was long,
                      That though they were dying of famine, they lived in deathless song.
                      They asked for a little money to keep the wolf from the door;
                      And the thirty million English sent twenty pounds and four!

                      They laid their heads together that were scarred and lined and grey;
                      Keen were the Russian sabres, but want was keener than they;
                      And an old Troop-Sergeant muttered, “Let us go to the man who writes
                      The things on Balaclava the kiddies at school recites.”

                      They went without bands or colours, a regiment ten-file strong,
                      To look for the Master-singer who had crowned them all in his song;
                      And, waiting his servant’s order, by the garden gate they stayed,
                      A desolate little cluster, the last of the Light Brigade.

                      They strove to stand to attention, to straighen the toil-bowed back;
                      They drilled on an empty stomach, the loose-knit files fell slack;
                      With stooping of weary shoulders, in garments tattered and frayed,
                      They shambled into his presence, the last of the Light Brigade.

                      The old Troop-Sergeant was spokesman, and “Beggin’ your pardon,” he said,
                      “You wrote o’ the Light Brigade, sir. Here’s all that isn’t dead.
                      An’ it’s all come true what you wrote, sir, regardin’ the mouth of hell;
                      For we’re all of us nigh to the workhouse, an’ we thought we’d call an’ tell.

                      “No, thank you, we don’t want food, sir; but couldn’t you take an’ write
                      A sort of ‘to be continued’ and ‘see next page’ o’the fight?
                      We think that someone has blundered, an’ couldn’t you tell’em how?
                      You wrote we were heroes once, sir. Please, write we are starving now.”

                      The poor little army departed, limping and lean and forlorn.
                      And the heart of the Master-singer grew hot with “the scorn of scorn.”
                      And he wrote for them wonderful verses that swept the land like flame,
                      Till the fatted souls of the English were scourged with the thing called Shame.

                      O thirty million English that babble of England’s might,
                      Behold there are twenty heroes who lack their food to-night;
                      Our children’s children are lisping to “honour the charge they made –”
                      And we leave to the streets and the workhouse the charge of the Light Brigade!

                    • Still true today.

                    • All I’m going to say on this is their is a difference between supporting our vets and *supporting* our vets.

                • I think the point that others are trying to make to you, is that you are looking at things with too narrow a focus. Missing the surrounding circumstances both in history and geography. The period 1918 through 1934 or ’38 are is not a blank page.

                  • I only brought that up as examples as two different points in history that had simular begaining and different ends. I wasn’t trying to define what’s going on today as being the same. Maybe if we hadnent bailed out Auto industry and propt up the housing market, we might be in an even worse economic hell than we are today. We might have been well on our way to recovery or even recovered. Who knows?

              • It is a long war, with a (roughly) 20 year truce in the middle.

              • Yep, one long war with a break for breeding. And we would have been due for another round about 1965 or so absent atomic weaponry and the steepness of that resulting cliff.

                • And the fact that the US Army would have come down on anyone who started something like a ton of bricks. We learned our lesson from WWI. It is far easier to garrison a country than it is to invade and pacify one. I’m pretty sure if you factor in the lost productivity from every US serviceman killed in the European Theater, plus all of their descendants, NATO is a downright bargain.

                  • Try and tell all the countries that suffered through the various proxy wars because the big boys knew better than to fight face to face. I believe that Vietnam and Angola are slowly rebuilding, but they are among the few that seems to have half a chance.

          • The NAZI party had lost seats in the 1933 election. After the forced resignation of Chancellor Papen, Hitler was appointed his successor in a deal to form a coalition government. From there the party created circumstances that enabled them to declare a state of emergency, to shut down the parliament and seize control.

      • A lot of his characters are first class jerks and know it alls but his point always seems to be that they have no desire to rule others. I don’t think people should take Heinlein as anything more than a writer but everyone can learn from that. Crusty, rude and impolite is meaningless if the person being that asks for nothing from anyone. They also care tremendously for the those they take interest in. Loyalty, hard won wisdom and no charm….Heinlein’s characters are the anti-politician….

      • Was a reference to something the main charactor says at the begainning of “A Moon os a Harsh Mistress.”

    • I know people in twelve-step programs, and the comparison to Rand’s ideas occurred to me. In essence, the story of Atlas Shrugged is that the viewpoint characters have to struggle with realizing their own role as enablers.

      Rand liked to quote one line that’s part of twelve-step lore: “God grant me the wisdom to accept what I cannot change, the courage to change what I can change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

  10. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Memo to self: If I outlive Hoyt by that long, see If I can get that panel put together.

    Because of last night’s insight, I’m arguing that the true cause is interference in the latest round of creating the classless society.

    Feral children might approximate a classless society.

    If so, how do you turn a society into feral children? Well, families do a very good job, comparatively speaking, at getting youngsters beyond the point where they can get there.

    Gotta do some combination of destroying the families, and getting custody of the youngsters from the families. HJ/BND project failed when the measures taken also took out the society being used as a testbed. Various Soviet programs ran into the same issue. See Romania, for example.

    One can understand certain measures in American society as being part of the same sort of program.

    Heinlein is a threat to this, as he presents concepts that can lead to being a more functional human in a very accessible way.

  11. I read Anthem in school. You might want to try it if you want to check off “read something by Ayn Rand.”

    For one thing, it’s short. 0:)

  12. Wayne Blackburn

    Regarding the sex lives of Heinlein’s characters – first of all, I blame Heinlein, to some extent, for the “Free Love” generation. I don’t know if his books actually sparked it, but I’m sure that Stranger at least gave it a considerable impetus.

    That said, in my observations since I first read it sometime in the ’80s, I have come to the conclusion that, while it is perhaps possible for people to live that way, it takes a particular sort of psychology to do so, and probably less than 10% of people have that. Possibly as low as 1%. Everyone else gets too messed up at the notion of their significant others being less than monogamous (though they often don’t see the reverse), and many get confused if they try to spread their attention between more than one other person.

    • I agree with that completely, I have tried to express it repeatedly, but not as articulately as you just did. Jealousy is a part of human nature, while there are individuals who are immune, but there are individuals who are immune to posion oak also, it doesn’t mean that as a society we should recommend everyone strip naked and go roll around in a patch of it.

      • Yes. Exactly. But beyond jealousy, living with someone takes a letting go of “my way” and an adaptability I’m not sure I could exert for more than one person at a time! Hence in Eden(DST) you can marry as many people as you want to, but few people go beyond one.
        Most polygamist cultures on Earth survive only on the subjugation of women who have no other option.
        This doesn’t mean it can’t work, sometimes, for exceptional people (I’m told local fen have a working line marriage now for fifty years.) I just say it’s unlikely to become universal.

    • According to research that I’ve seen, there’s a strong case that exactly 0% of the human population actually has the psychology to support the free-love lifestyle, but quite a few of us have the necessary levels of self-deception and rationalization to make a try at it.

    • When Stranger came in, the Free Love thing was already in full swing. Heinlein was more trying to catch up with it, being convinced that this was the future. We are all prisoners of our time.

      • He said in one of his essays that hippies camped outside his gate due to Stranger, wanting to be ‘water brothers’. Then they disappeared after Starship Troopers. Think the essay was in Expanded Universe.

    • Wayne, go look up the antecedents who used the phrase “free love”.

      • I prefer “reasonably priced love” (Pratchett.) :-P

      • I didn’t really understand Stranger in A Strange Land until I learned about gnosticism. Much of it seems to be gnostic and for someone who hated mainline Christianity like Heinlein did it doesn’t seem far-fetched that he would tweak them with a book based on that philosophy.
        Free love would work if the Gnostics were right because everyone would have the means to protect themselves and everyone is then inherently moral and could not really do anything to hurt others. Real free love means victims and victimizers and the rich who can have daddy fix everything with cash are the big winners and the traditional practitioners throughout the ages.

    • Hippies were Heinlein readers!? Who knew?

      • Weirdly, some of them, yes. They freaked him out.

        • Hippies apparently tracked down his house at that time in the Santa Cruz mountains here in California, surprising him by wandering up his driveway looking for autographs of their copies of ASIASL.

          I have nothing to base this on, but I’ve always thought that since RAH was at base always interested in actually selling his books, the sex he wrote in from the 70s onwards was tactical: He basically had taken the measure of the gatekeeper editors in NYC, and since they could understand the sex stuff and assign to that the reason his books sold so well, they otherwise left him alone to write whatever he wanted.

          Basically he was using it like a magicians distraction – Mr. Editor, pay no attention to all that boring stuff over there – Would you look at all this Sex!

          Again, I have no evidence whatsoever, but it fits what I’ve read of his character, and I guess I like to think that RAH was able to play the publishers that well.

          • Mike,
            I’ve thought that too. Some of it, particularly.

            And though I don’t put it on — I get the characters I get and it’s very annoying at times — I wonder if I’d ever have got published (I’m looking over some of the stuff where I thought I was stealthed and… not so much) if I didn’t have so many gay characters. I think they have this cardboard idea of conservatives/libertarians and when I didn’t fit it exactly, I couldn’t be one of “those.” OTOH they didn’t know what I was, and they didn’t trust me.

            What I am is lousy at pretending to be what I’m not.

            • The characters you get are the characters you get.

              Someone else mentioned J. Michael Straczynski of Babylon 5 fame here earlier – JMS has written about the joys of having Ambassador Mollari resident in his head dictating dialog in full accent along with all his other B5 characters. I think you’ve said the same thing he did – if they get can their stories told, the characters will eventually leave the writer alone.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            According to one of his biographical entries in one of his books (don’t remember which), they also came to his house demanding to “Share Water”.

            On another note – back in the mid-’80s, I was working at a Hotel when they had a Police mini-convention devoted to identifying Satanic Cults (there had been some incidents in the region in the prior several months). Part of it was checking for certain literature. On the table of identifying books was, I kid you not, Stranger in a Strange Land. I nearly died laughing at the notion that anyone who had read that book, and didn’t throw it away, could possibly be a member of a group of Satan worshipers.

    • That’s why I find love triangles so annoying and implausible. Although given the occurrence of polygyny vs. polyandry I find one male and two females triangles far more realistic than one female and two males triangles.

    • Yeah, Heinlein cheated a bit. Everyone immediately knows where they stand (instead of going to the movies we’ll stay in and have free love)…..nobody has a negative experience from high risk behavior and he treats the whole subject like a socialist treats economics. He constantly says why should a women deny what she has an infinite supply of but a socialist says why shouldn’t be given from those who have enough. Not shocking that hippies loved the logic.

      • I don’t think that a woman has an infinite supply of intimacy. She can sleep with lots of people, but I can’t see that as intimate and protective of her. Sort of like a very twisted version of the problem of the commons.

  13. My opinion on Ayn Rand, like Heinlein: People never seem to hate them for the things they got wrong. They hate them for the things they got right.

    Anyway, I remember reading Atlas Shrugged somewhere around my sophomore year in undergrad, and I loved it. Here was one author whose heroes were scientists, engineers, businessmen – people who aspire to create great things. A way of seeing the world that I could at least relate to, though I did not agree with her on everything.

    As for the book’s flaws (no idea how to write romance, sometimes rambling speeches, (though many of them are good on their own)): when you are in a desert, you’ll take water where you can find it. Where else in art, in literature, could you find a scientist or engineer’s creativity, or a businessman’s productivity, regarded in a positive light for its own sake? Not as some dark and suspicious Faustian motivation that can only end in horror? Not as some morally ambiguous activity that the “good people” put up with because it yields useful stuff?

    Heinlein was the same way, though I discovered his books later.

  14. When people complain about Heinlein’s female characters being “men with breasts” perhaps what they are really upset about is that they are women with balls.

    Insert classic Thatcher anecdote about dining at restaurant with cabinet and answering the waiter’s question “and what about the vegetables?”

    • One of my best friends outside the Barfly band is a woman who I tease, saying she has brass ovaries. She is bold, strong, and yet a loving mother, and she has the chutzpah to say what I would never utter in public. I was trained to be a Nice Person, and can’t do it. So yes, Heinlein’s women have been inspirations to me. Maybe someday I’ll even be able to be one, instead of always Nice in public.

      • I rebelled at the “nice in public” that was drummed in me because hypocrites are so nice. You never know what slimy things crawl out of the houses of “nice people.” I went through a pull the mask off stage. Now I think that polite manners are one mask that should stay on– ;-)

        • I will never lose the manners, I decided a long time ago that I’d like to be considered a Lady. What I am working on losing is the doormat mentality. It’s working, slowly. Lots of brainwashing to rebel against :-)

          • Good for you– I think that the reason I stripped the manners at the time was because I had been used as a doormat for so long. I think you are the better person. :-)

            • Not a better person. Tacking a different way. You’re someone I’m learning from, by the way. I am but an egg to most of the commenters here on Sarah’s blog, although I don’t *feel* that young, most days. Even being able to comment and interact is a step for me, and I hope I don’t look too gauche most days. As for women in fiction, I’m still trying to understand why ‘Thena is supposed to be scary (emotionally. I get the physical). I wistfully want that kind of self-confidence and power over my own mind and body.

              • We are all different in how we react. Nature and nurture plays a role. The third factor is what we decide to do in a given situation. I took karate to teach my body to react in certain situations. I talk to my husband and ask for help in reacting to situations with people. (He is better at it than I am… I am more like the bull in the china closet or I don’t speak at all.) So preparing an answer before hand, and practicing helps me. I get the thinking done before hand. Then there are the times when I don’t think at all. ;-)

          • A good man as a partner helps. Dan glued me back together the first five years of our marriage… Now I lean on him less, but only because he made me stronger.

          • Similar problem, mine however has more to do with temper. I hate losing my temper in public, but I have never learned to control it, so I leave when I start to get angry. And I do get angry rather easily. I don’t yell, I tend to start crying first (I cry very easily, every kind of a bit stronger emotion can cause it, which I also find very embarrassing), but the next stage tends to be throwing things and hitting people (and unfortunately I do know how to throw a punch) – which I actually haven’t done more than a couple of times in my adult life, and those were short tantrums because I left. But I usually leave when I start to feel like I might start crying. So I walk away from pretty much anything which looks like it might turn to some sort of confrontation. And sometimes, if I can’t, agree to do things I don’t want to do in order to make the other person cut the talking short before I might start to be tempted to hit him/her. I have never really hurt anybody, beyond something like small bruises, but I have always been scared I might. Which, I suppose, may be connected to the ‘nice girls don’t’ meme. Perhaps it would have been better if I had been allowed to have a few more physical fights back on the playground…

            I guess I would never have made it in most work environments, maybe it’s good I ended up stuck with a couple of manual jobs where you work alone.

      • give it five years. I find every year I’m more myself — which is of itself a little terrifying. Or should be ;)

    • I first heard that one about former Oz Prime Minister Paul Keating. I expect it will find its way to the US about the current prez sooner or later (damn it, I’m trying, but it’s not getting traction).

    • Insert classic Thatcher anecdote about dining at restaurant with cabinet and answering the waiter’s question “and what about the vegetables?”

      Vegetables aren’t food, vegetables are what food eats
      /ducks/

  15. An example of some of the good parts of that doorstopper of a book: The money speech: http://www.working-minds.com/money.htm

    IMO, it’s a fairly comprehensive reply to those who claim that money is the root of all evil.

    • Whoops – that was supposed to go with my previous comment, on Atlas Shrugged. (context fail).

    • For one thing they get the quote wrong; it is the love of money is the root of all [kinds of] evil*. The love of money is another term for idolatry

      *1 Timothy 6:10

      • Loving money for its own sake is also elevating the tools above the masterpiece. Like idolizing Sarah’s keyboard instead of her awesome books, because she used the keyboard in order to make the books.

    • Anybody who claims that “money is the root of all evil” just shows that they’re ignorant. Really. The full quote is “The *love* of money is the root of all evil”. It’s the same idiots who claim guns kill people. No, people who have no regard for human life kill people, and sometimes use guns. Don’t transfer the evil from the human to the inanimate, and then froth at the mouth about getting rid of the inanimate.

      Sorry. This isn’t a pet peeve, this is a ‘makes me crazy when I hear somebody perpetuate it’.

  16. I agree with RAH that a little hardship should be part of the training of the child (i.e. my hubby says to send them to South America on a hostel program to see how the other half live. If any of the children get killed then quit sending that country monies — oh heck that was George Carlin actually). I have gone to bed hungry (four brothers and one pot of stew). If I wanted to do anything extra, I had to figure out ways to come up with the money. That didn’t include my work money (when I worked in a restaurant and in the family businesses, the money went to the family and I didn’t see a penny…)

    We had an outhouse until I left home. We had enough water to take a shower a week. In some of the areas we lived, I washed our clothes in a ditch. Plus the only new clothes I got until I left home was underwear (around Christmas) and a pair of jeans. Everything else was hand-me-downs or hand-made. We didn’t have a phone for each person (one phone–many times a party line). In one place our phone was powered by the farm truck’s battery. When someone called the horn would honk and then dad would drive it to the top of a hill for better phone reception. And on, and on. We made our own entertainment and we worked hard.

    • There is an interesting book called “Antifragile” about in our quest to keep our kids safe we don’t teach the how to deal with life.

      • My parents grew up during and just after WWII so my upbringing was quite different from what you see today. I don’t always agree with their ideas, but I am not a fragile flower (or my brothers). My sisters on the other hand are different than us (the brothers and I). One is a welfare lifer.

      • A number of years ago I read an article about the type of large mall that had live trees growing within. Apparently with no breezes to stress them the trees failed to grow tough enough fiber and would eventually collapse of their own weight. People were needed to go in and shake the trees, simulating the effects of the wind.

        Draw your own analogy.

  17. I can only say that I hope twenty years after my death there will be panels at cons where the subtext is “Hoyt, immoral pervert or political menace?”

    Why choose? Be an overachiever and go for both.

    • Have you read me? I am trying. (I am really, really trying.)

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Very trying? [Very Big Crazy Grin While Flying Away Very Fast]

        • Really, you. Do you know how expensive all that fish flying at your head becomes, when it all adds up? Quit taking food out of the mouths of your Hostess’s children!

          …it’s for the chiiiiildren!

          …..running faster than you now!

          • Dorothy, have you seen the kinds of fish in the rivers closest to ‘Springs? All jokes about Rocky Flats salmon aside, I sure wouldn’t eat anything from downstream of Pueblo and Denver. :)

            • Dorothy Grant

              I actually haven’t. After enough years in Alaska, my experience of fish is closely tied to the salmon runs, pike, hooligan, and halibut. (I know whereof I eat.)

              Now down in the south, the fishing here seems to involve a lot less back-breaking work and threat of death from drowning in fast-current glacial-fed rivers, and a lot less fish in the freezer and smoker… in fact, it seems to involve sunscreen, beer, bug spray, and a curious lack of fish.

              • And as someone who moved inland from the coast, a distinct lack of quality in the fish, as well as lack of fish.

  18. … what it’s like to go to bed without having “eaten all you want to?” – which is the question used to establish “hunger in America” …

    Lovely. At the same time the powers that be are complaining because we have a growing ‘epidemic’ of fat children – many of whom are among that self-same group of kids they are defining as hungry. (Can we accuse Mayor Bloomberg of causing hunger with his ‘for the sake of nutrition’ regulations?) One more for White Queen school of logic.

    Alice laughed. “There’s no use trying,” she said: “one can’t believe impossible things.”

    “I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was your age, I always did it for half-an-hour a day. Why sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. …”

    • Yep. It’s more drinking their own ink.

    • Well, to be fair, a lot of the cheaper foods available are low in actual nutritional value. So they may be getting fat but not actually taking in the kinds of nutrients they need to actually be “fed”.

      That said, yes, they stretch things to cover far more than is actually true.

      • When you are obviously eating three or four times the number of calories you need to in a day, you can divert your money to more expensive and nutritious food.

  19. I sometimes have the mild complaint that Heinlein women are a little too similar; I believe it is often said that his later ones, anyway, were all based off his (second?) wife, who was one of those people who was granted extra character points at birth, got the bit between her teeth, and ran with the Time Use for Skills rules in a point-crock of stat optimization.

    I can believe it.

    Which makes for some overarchingly awesome gals, who don’t always feel like different gals, and who often make someone feel a bit inadequate at certain times of life. (I have mostly gotten over that, by being aggressively me and just keeping my head above water. There comes a point when you have to decide if something’s an ideal to strive for, or an unreachable ideal that just makes you depressed if you can’t measure up — and if it’s the latter, make peace with goals that don’t send you into despair at the impossibility of them. I am not going to build a starship in this lifetime, unless someone else makes some darn good medtech to extend said lifespan.) But hey, whatever. I’m sure I have my quirks and stock characters and stock traits for protagonists. (Heck, I can point some of my stock memes out, quite consciously! I like those memes, I set them in different lighting conditions or flip them around a little, and I use ‘em over and over.)

    But I am trying to imagine Deety as a “man with breasts” and it’s shorting out my brain. (Number of the Beast is a delightful romp with in-jokes and puns and anyone who disses it can go jump in a leech-filled lake. :p )

    Besides. Heinlein invented Mike and the Gay Deceiver. AIs without much (anything!) in the way of pesky Laws of Robotics, but who liked their human friends anyway. (…and there’s why my first novel-length fiction has an AI as the viewpoint character, yup.)

    • Wayne Blackburn

      I think in this case (and I hope she’ll correct me if I’m wrong), Sarah got a little confused while discussing that part. In an earlier discussion of heroines in modern stories, we described the contemporary ones as “men with breasts” to point up the way that they delivered their heroism; i.e. like men instead of like women (they give a straight-up beat down on the bad guy, rather than using more “feminine” tactics, thus ignoring the fact that most of the time, it’s not likely that a 110-lb woman is going to beat a 250-lb tough guy without using a lot of dirty tricks). And I think what she started to say was that these other people are angry that Heinlein’s female characters don’t act that way.

    • Oh, yay. SOMEONE ELSE WHO LIKES NOTB! I bought it the day it came out and forgot to go home. See, I started reading it in the train station while waiting for train back home. Standing, leaning against a pillar. I looked up three hours later, when the book was done. :) Mom thought I had died. (It was either Spring Break or Summer, can’t remember which.) I didn’t come, I didn’t call…

      On Gay Deceiver — it’s a REALLY bad idea to name your car that int he eighties in the US…

      You are right his women were based on Ginny, and if anything he underrated her. I was honored to know the lady in her final years (phone and AIM and some letters — we had planned a trip to take (our) Robert to meet her (he got to AIM with her too, a few times) but she died just before we could make it.) and she was extraordinarily impressive. I can well imagine that, being very much in love with her (she was his third, btw) he would use her as a sort of template. H*ll, if I’d had a daughter I’d have tried to raise her to be as close to Ginny as I could.

    • I am not going to build a starship in this lifetime, unless someone else makes some darn good medtech to extend said lifespan.

      (A little poignant for me) The impossibility of my goals hasn’t stopped me yet. At least I can help make some progress in that direction! :-P

      • We’d best get our life extension and rejuv. I dreamed the other night that I was a colonist on Mars, and I’m not ready to say “that will never happen.”

        • Mars is certainly possible with technology we are familiar with (but not yet very graceful with). (The Rover/NERVA project in the late 50′s springs to mind.)

          As for my thoughts on starships? It is harder to see there from here. They probably need to have something like direct mass-energy conversion, or tons of antimatter. Even those things aren’t “impossible”, though we don’t know how to do them yet.

          Isaac Newton’s margin doodles of cannonballs flying into orbit were “impossible” at one point in time.

          I’m more of an engineering/physics guy than a biologist. Someone else will have to bring the life extension.

    • Beth — GURPS fan?

      • The major problem I have with Heinlein is that he makes me feel inferior for not being a mathematician/engineer.

        • LOL. I hereby grant you dispensation. I’m not one also — digit dyslexic. I figure my husband and I make one complete person…

          The engineer thing is a mid-century (20th) thing. On the good side, it sent a lot of people towards STEM degrees.

          • My husband is an IT guy of great skill. I’ll go with the one flesh rule as he says. We do feel like two halves of a whole. I’ll try not to compare myself to others. I’ll try to be the best me I can.

        • Rob Crawford

          There’s nothing wrong with not being an engineer. Most engineers spend their free time not being an engineer.

          Though there is some of the mindset that can never be escaped…

  20. “I confess I never read Ayn Rand”

    Honestly, you didn’t miss much. She had a lot of really important things to say, but frankly she was a lousy writer. These days, you can absorb everything worth knowing about her and about Objectivism just by hanging around with libertarians for a while. (There’s plenty about Objectivism that you won’t learn that way. Which, logically, I must be asserting isn’t worth knowing. Yep.)

    But honestly? I tend to agree with your closing point…for any of us to be the X in “X, threat or menace?” panels held decades after we’re dead would be the highest compliment we could reasonably aspire to. And I’m pretty sure RAH would agree. :)

  21. I haven’t read any Rand since high school, when I read Atlas Shrugged after it was recommended to me by a neighbor girl because I liked 1984. She came from a ‘free-love’ hippy family, and I’m not sure what she got out of the book, but I liked it.

  22. As for Heinlein’s books – What I loved about his characters is that they had to solve their own problems, to a great degree. When TSHTF, they *are* the help.

    One of the scenes I loved in Space Cadet was when the marooned Patrolmen realized that they not only had to solve the diplomatic crisis caused by that other character (forgot names), they had to get themselves out of the mess with their own wits. They couldn’t call the patrol for help, they *were* the patrol.

    It’s always nice to be able to call for backup to help fish you out of a bad situation, but someone has to *be* that backup that can be depended on. Heinlein’s juveniles are in many cases about how to be an adult.

    • It’s always nice to be able to call for backup to help fish you out of a bad situation, but someone has to *be* that backup that can be depended on. Heinlein’s juveniles are in many cases about how to be an adult.

      I am NOT going off on a rant about Benghazi. Nope, not gonna go there. Wouldn’t be prudent.

      • RES, the level of angry I am right now, you don’t want me in full “Sarah Smash” and Benghazi does that.

      • Has something new happened wrt that incident?

        I wasn’t intending to reference any current events. I’m somewhat detached from them. I’ve been ignoring the news while cramming for quals.

        • The Administration and the MSM (but I repeat myself) are busy making SURE that nothing new is uncovered in regard to that incident, and if anything new IS uncovered it goes unreported.

          My comment was in reference to those soldiers on site, waiting for back-up while hung out to dry. Unlike the Blackhawk Down incident, the failure to support our troops was entirely our own (lack of) doing.

          Let’s just say, for the sake of argument, that there was, in fact, nothing the Administration could have done to aid those soldiers. Let’s just say, as well, that it happened while Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Condoleeza Rice were the chain of command. Does ANYBODY think that it would be almost five months later with no Prime Time MSM interviews with the survivors of the assault or the families of the murdered?

          Sorry Sarah – I do understand the effort to suppress the rage this induces in any healthy American.

          • And there has been nothing, absolutely nothing in Finnish press which mentions anything beyond the ‘spontaneous riot in reaction to a video’ one which was given to us right after. Gone and forgotten. No questions asked. Love our press.

  23. As a writer who is neither a saint nor a model of much of anything, and who wrote, in A Few Good Men a book that will probably get her crucified not just by both sides of politics, but possibly by sides that will come into existence for the purpose of hating me, I can only say that I hope twenty years after my death there will be panels at cons where the subtext is “Hoyt, immoral pervert or political menace?”

    Now I’ll have to read your book, when I have time in a few weeks. I intended to anyway, but with a recommendation like that, it can’t be boring. :-P

    • I try very hard never to be boring. Sometimes I succeed for pages at a time.

    • I don’t think that you should be crucified, you write neat books. I think Heinlein said that you shouldn’t write message stories. If you have a message send it by Western Union.

      I think that this is excellent advice. If Philip Pullman urgently needed to say something about Atheism he should have written an essay, magazine article or blog post.

  24. So a few days ago I was a Barnes and Noble, and a young guy was looking for Atlas Shrugged in the Science Fiction section. Well, that’s almost understandable but he’d been sent there by the B&N clerk. (We have the worst B&N in the chain in my town).

    I pointed him the right way but not after pointing out some real libertarian SF to him.

  25. Great post. I can’t remember when I first read Heinlein. I was really little. I do remember reading Stranger when I was a senior in high school. I didn’t know it had any sex in it. I got all the Biblical allusions, but had not a clue that there was any sex. I think I was about 27 when I re-read it and it hit me. Which explains why when I handed this (to me) fantastic book with terrific Biblical allusions to my older brother, the Lutheran Pastor, he about had apoplexy (he read it over the course of a day and a half while he and his wife were visiting. We’re all fast readers). ::sigh:: What an idiot. ::sigh::

    But Rand. I read her when I’d already hear a lot about her from people who knew her. I ran into several members of her inner circle. What she did to Nathaniel Branden and his wife are beyond horrible. So I had that particular thought in mind reading Dagny and Reardon in Atlas Shrugged. I couldn’t see Dagney as anything other than what Rand imagined herself to be (what would that be called? Mary Sue wannabe?). But I can’t stand the fact that Rand couldn’t see the difference between individuals doing charitable acts, and the government taking from individuals to give to others. Of course, Rand never did a charitable thing in her life, and couldn’t imagine anybody else doing something charitable without the government forcing them to do it.

    IOW, Heinlein knew people in a free society will sometimes blunder toward collectivism, but that the best course was individuality. Rand only knew state enforced collectivism, and actually living as an individual was outside of anything she could wrap her head around (even her inner circle was a collective. Galt’s Gulch always struck me as being a collective, truth be told.

    I prefer Heinlein.

    • There is a certain cachet in running down Rand, even while praising her works. Me, I am amazed at her statement of the problem, but I don’t like her solution – going Galt.
      I keep remember Solzhenytzen’s story out of Gulag Archipelago about the peasant families that were moved/exiled/fled to Siberia. Years later they were found to be living well, so they were exiled even further into
      Siberia, where presumably they all died. I’m not sure it is possible to run and hide, anymore.

  26. Sarah, you have said that you tend to end up with lots of gay characters.

    For me it’s bisexuals. Good possibility you can blame that on Zeb, Deety, Jake and Hilda (well, Zeb may have been pretty straight). I didn’t like the last third of that book but I fell in love with those four. Not sure why, but they are still my favorites among RAH’s characters.

    And incest was pretty much the only thing RAH used which made me uncomfortable. I doubt many of the sexual habits of his later characters, like polyamory, can work all that well in real life, except maybe with rare individuals and even then probably only inside a limited time frame (I have known exactly one unconventional group, a married couple and his mistress – the women said they didn’t sleep together but seemed to be good friends – which seemed to work well all the time I did stay in touch with them, nearly a decade), but he made them sound right for his characters.

  27. By the way has anyone seen tyhe Roughnecks series on Crackle.com. Its an animated series that leans more to the movie than the book but the battle against the bugs on Pluto is a lot of fun and they do give credit to Heinlein in the title. Supposedly it inspired the look for the Halo games.

    Anyway it might be an intro for a new generation of Heinlein fans the way his YA books might have been. As far as action is concerned I think Starship Troopers was his best.

  28. Off topic, but I’m gone for 2 weeks and you get rid of the ‘recent comments’ list on the side of your blog? What’s up with that?

  29. If they are debating whether you’re an immoral pervert or political menace, they’d damn well better get the answer right. It’s “Yes.”

  30. Not a fan of Heinlin, but that is only because I don’t care for his writing style, not his personal or professional beliefs. Heck, if everyone got ticked off about how a writer thinks or feels in their REAL life, (which always tends to find a home in their writing one way or another) then no one would ever read anything without finding it offensive. I love James Mitchener’s works, even if he was anti Mormon and some of his books were designed to irritate people. So, I can miss out on great literature or suck up my tender feelings about the way my religion is presented in his books and read on.