Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Promo Post Commeth

*Below is the Saturday book promo post from the peripatetic mollusc.  Meanwhile — this is Sarah! — I posted about Nimoy’s death yesterday at Otherwhere Gazette.  Link here, if you’re curious.- SAH*

Prepare yourselves, for the end is nigh! Well, the end of the month anyway. To celebrate. we have lovely books for you! New releases from our AtH community, now with extra privilege and no trigger warnings! Please, if you enjoy the books you find here, make sure you leave reviews and recommend them to others. If not, constructive criticism in a private channel is generally appreciated, so our friends and virtual neighbors can better hone their craft. A quick note for prospective submitters: all I need is a link to the book on each outlet it’s available from (e.g. Amazon, Kobo, etc.) and I’ll get everything I need there. A little thank you note heaping praise and adulation on me is unfailingly appreciated, of course. So are large sums of cash, but you should probably send those to Our Beloved Hostess instead; I’d just spend them on shell wax… As always, future entries can (and should!) be sent to my email. Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

Chief Assistant to the Assistant Chief

Peter Grant

Stand Against The Storm

The Maxwell Saga Book 4

When duty and honor collide…

An emergency recall to his ship short-circuits Senior Lieutenant Steve Maxwell’s plan to get rid of a long-standing personal burden. Instead, he finds himself dumped into a war zone on a peacekeeping mission hundreds of light years away. He doesn’t have enough people, equipment or information. Left in the dark, he has to rely on uncertain allies with their own agenda.

Even worse, it’s not the Fleet’s war, so he’s not allowed to shoot back – much less shoot first. Neither side is observing civilized rules of engagement. The bodies are piling up.

Steve’s been ordered not to act… but there are times when cold, hard reality trumps orders.

Vilhelm Bergsøe & Dwight R. Decker

Flying Fish “Prometheus”

A Fantasy of the Future

A long-lost story of 19th Century science fiction in the Jules Verne style, FLYING FISH “PROMETHEUS” is a humorous adventure set in a future that never was. Though written in 1869 and published in Denmark in 1870, the story was first translated into English in 2010 for publication in a steampunk anthology. It is now presented here with an accompanying historical essay as well as translator’s notes giving the story’s background for the modern reader. It’s a long way from Denmark to Panama, and anything can happen on a flight aboard an airship modelled after a flying fish, from utter disaster to a touch of romance! Even after 145 years, Vilhelm Bergsøe’s flight of fancy is still fresh and funny!

Laura Montgomery

Manx Prize

In the second half of the twenty-first century, when Charlotte Fisher was just thirteen, orbital debris took its first large-scale human casualties from an orbiting tourist habitat. Haunted by visions of destruction and her father’s anguish, as a young engineer Charlotte follows in his footsteps and determines to win a prize offered by a consortium of satellite and orbitat operators for the first successful de-orbiting of space junk. Her employer backs these efforts until the reentry of a piece of debris kills two people, and she and her team are spun off to shield the parent company from liability. With limited resources, a finite budget and the unwanted gift of a lawyer who, regardless of his appeal, she doesn’t need, she must face a competitor who cheats, a collusive regulator, and the temptations dangled by the strange and alluring friends of a powerful seastead.

Henry Vogel

Scout’s Honor

A Planetary Romance

When Terran Scout David Rice climbs from the wreckage of his starship’s escape pod, he finds himself transported from the space age to the steam age in the blink of an eye. Drawn to the sounds of fighting, David immediately throws himself into a desperate battle against overwhelming odds to save the life of a beautiful young princess.

Now, marooned without hope of rescue, David is swept into a world of steam-powered airships, treacherous pirates, brutal savages, bloodthirsty monsters, royal machinations, and plots within plots, where matters of strength and honor are most often settled with the clash of swords. As he struggles to learn the strange ways of this new world and who he can trust, one thing becomes clear to him: he must put aside his growing feelings for Her Highness and do everything in his power to return her to her family, even though this means giving her up to the prince she’s pledged to marry.

Told in a relentlessly fast-paced and breathless style, SCOUT’S HONOR is an exciting modern homage to the classic tales of planetary romance made famous by writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett, as well as the cliffhanger-driven energy of the early science fiction movie serials. If you like your heroes unabashedly heroic, your heroines feisty and true, and your plots filled with dangers, twists, turns, and double-crosses upon triple-crosses, you’ll enjoy SCOUT’S HONOR.

Scout’s Oath

A Planetary Romance

When duty and honor collide…

After crash-landing on the lost colony world of Aashla, Terran Scout David Rice rescued Princess Callan, kidnapped heir to the throne of Mordan. In fighting his way across half the planet to see her home safely, he won her love, and then her hand in marriage. Now David and Callan want nothing more than to settled down and live happily ever after…

But a man can’t do what David has done without making powerful enemies, and his enemies want revenge!

Told in the form of a lead-in novella and a novel, SCOUT’S OATH opens with the story of a young thief who risks his life to bring David and Callan a warning that starts them on a desperate race against time to find and rescue her parents. Then, to stop the outbreak of planet-wide war, David must surrender to King Rat, ruler of the tunnels beneath the city-state of Beloren, and it falls to Callan to pull together a band of unlikely heroes and organize his rescue. Can an old pirate, a young thief, a crusty doctor, and a daring airship pilot help Callan do the impossible?

SCOUT’S OATH is an exciting modern homage to the classic tales of planetary romance made famous by writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs and Leigh Brackett. If you like your heroes unabashedly heroic, your heroines feisty and true, and your plots filled with dangers and twists at every turn, you’ll enjoy SCOUT’S OATH.

Wake Up!

This is not one of those “wake up and march up to DC posts.”  I will confess that standing by the Liberty bell and being told there’s a legend if it rings again the revolution will happen, I started studying ways to make it ring.  “If I crawled under there” — this was the early two thousands, though.  And it was a moment. I’m a crazy libertarian, (which I found out yesterday in a comment thread I was mentioned in, might mean I’m for more regulations.  Okay, to be fair, though the person who said it knows me, I don’t know if they know I’m a libertarian. They probably heard the SJWs whine that I was a fascist, and thence to thinking I want more regulations it’s less than a step.  Sometimes I grow very tired, you know?) but I know we rolled the dice once, and if we did it again there might be no miracle at Philadelphia.

None of which means the time might not come.  There are things a free people can’t tolerate and remain free, and as little interest as I have in living through a revolution (again) I have even less interest in living in Venezuela.

But as much as we get furious and as bad as things get, the time is not yet.  There’s still time to row this little boat back from the edge of the waterfall, without drastic measures.  If you don’t believe me, you haven’t studied what went on during Woodrow Wilson’s tenure, or FDR’s either.  And you’re not aware of the difference technology makes to the way people relate to the state, and/or you might believe that regulation of technology sticks.

Which brings me to the point of this post (what, less than a page in!  I want a medal.)

Yesterday Charlie linked on Facebook some environmentalist or other being jealous of his friend who was so sure of global warming he’s moving to Ireland and waiting for climatemaggedon.

What struck me is how much this sounds like many people on our side.  “I’m going to move to Montana and collect guns and food, because the zombie apocalypse is on the way.”

There are many factors that go into that sort of attitude and one absolutely is aging.  As a world we have an aging population, particularly in the literate, writing parts.  (And in the other parts they’re probably messing with the numbers, because they’re net recipients of “international help” per capita, of course.

Since Ecclesiastes we’ve been aware of people wanting to crawl into a hole and pull the world in after them.

And everyone gets like that every once in a while.  And absolutely times are tough, and our leadership hates us.

But–

But–

When I was thirty one, I sat on my back porch on a lovely summer day, reading Reason magazine.  The issue was devoted to debunking global warming.  And suddenly, like a weight lifting, I realized there really wasn’t proof.  That it wasn’t preordained that my generation would be the last to have a decent life on Earth.  That my kids and grandkids (I only had one kid at the time, and he was still nursing) wouldn’t necessarily be doomed.  That the future wasn’t all doom and gloom.

And I realized my entire life I’d lived in the shadow of the fear of decay and death.  First there was the cold war, and sooner or later, the bombs would fly.  We’d die screaming.  Then there was overpopulation.  If we escaped the bomb, we’d all starve to death.  Or thirst to death (thank you, Paul Ehrlich!)  Then there was global cooling.  We were all going to freeze in the ice age.  Then there was global warming.

Amid all these threats, how could we escape.

To watch the thing debunked and to see it pointed out that even the proponents of AGW don’t live like they believe in it lifted a weight from my heart.

Since then I’ve been skeptical of the end of the world prophecies.

Once you poke into them, they melt at the touch.  Even overpopulation seems to be a paper tiger, because we have no exact data, and can’t really have.  In the countries we have an easy look into the population growth  is plummeting, and there’s whispers from the countries that report the population growing by leaps and bounds, that it’s not.  Now, whether that’s good or bad, it’s a matter of “yes” but we’re not all going to die in population mageddon.  Not now and possibly not ever.

And the various ecological disasters are so much less than advertised and forest cover in North America is now more than when the colonists from Europe first arrived.

As for the growth of government and the boot on our neck, and are we moving to more or less freedom that’s also a “yes”.  As with the mess in publishing, the wounded beast trashes harder, but the technology is against centralization/standardization/concentration.  In fact, the opposite of the technology that gave us the statist regimes of the nineteenth and twentieth century.  And how we live influences our politics.

Only it won’t be instant, nothing is instant.  And you might not see it.  But your kids and grandkids likely will. Or someone’s kids and grandkids.  Humans, like us.

And then they’ll have THEIR own challenges.  Their own fights.

The good news, and I want you to realize that, is that there is no reason we should be poorer/less free/worse off in the future.

While religion preordains a collapse and judgement, I was taught that is individual, for each soul.  And that much is true.  You will, one day, day.  Later than your ancestors.  Possibly earlier than your descendants, but die you will.  You knew that right?  That’s why individuals invest themselves in things bigger than themselves: their work, their descendants, the human race itself.

And for those bigger things?

There is no predestined gloom. Take a deep breath.

You live in the most prosperous era humans have ever known and all your problems would make your ancestors wish theirs were so light.

Yeah, you have to fight.  Being human is to strive.  You’re not living in heaven or an earthly paradise.

There will always be challenges and there will always be some defeat.

But ULTIMATELY?  That has not been written.

Leave it to the left, an ideology of absolutes, to lament and be depressed because utopia can’t happen.  Let them rage that they’re aging without seeing the socialist paradise.  Let them hate humanity for falling short of their dreams.

We are human and own ourselves as such, and strive for the best while acknowledging the worst in us.  We know nothing on Earth is perfect, but we strive for improvement.  And we love and hope in others, as well as ourselves, so it’s easy to take the long view to a better future.  And to work to bring it about, day by day, knowing we’ll never see the completed work.

Wake up! Turn around.  That gloom you’re staring at is only one direction, and not fatally determined.

It’s not preordained we will lose, but it’s not preordained we will.  The future is ours to make.

Wake up.  And then get to work.

 

 

 

 

Waving the Flag

So poor Giuliani has been gang jumped by the palace eunuchs mainstream media, for daring insinuate that perhaps Obama doesn’t love the US. This attack eunuchs thing is a new refinement. Most middle eastern potentates content themselves with having guarding eunuchs, but then we’re Americans and we’re nothing if not innovative.

You must understand the way the media is behaving is very familiar to me. It resembles nothing so much but a pack of village women, vaguely related by marriage and affinity, going into a flinging flutter over “what their Rudy said about our Barry.”

So the whole episode has assumed nostalgic overtones, reminded me of my childhood, and made me smile. Particularly because it resembles that time when it was revealed the pharmacist had a secret life, and we all pretended to be indignant along with his kin, but really, the entire village knew that he wasn’t… shall we say… in the petticoat line. His family were simply the last to know and their outrage at what had been obvious to the rest of us forever became the cherry on top of the farce.

Which brings us to the real point of this digression.

This is not whether a third generation red-diaper baby raised abroad, who by his own admission sought out communists and other America-hating communities loves his country or not, because well… for most of this country (over 50% according to a survey, and mind you these always skew left) the question is not a question and the fact that the man who can barely sit still through the pledge of allegiance, hates our founding documents and thinks we should grant people “positive rights” (like, oh, the USSR) is not overfond of us is not a surprise. I mean, he sat through “Goddamn America” and wrote in his premature autobiography (like a premature ejaculation but funnier) that if it came to a war between America and the Caliphate he’d side with the caliphate.

Love America? I wonder who the 47% are who thinks he does, and whether they’ve been out from under that rock for the last decade.

The matter is more… apropos, though, and it goes something like this “Why do leftists hate the very sight of the flag?”

They do, you know? It’s a very weird thing, to the point that if you put a flag out it serves as a crypto party identification.

I’m not saying democrats, mind. There is what I call a certain kitchen-table democrat, who listens only to the MSM and therefore thinks the democrats are the “reasonable” party. He’s perhaps not happy with them, but the MSM doesn’t label them “extremists” so they must be reasonable. So, week before the election, he hashes it out over the dinner table and decides to hold his nose and vote democrat again, because that Sarah Palin wants to establish a theocracy, and Paul Ryan flings grandmas off cliffs.

These people are mal-informed but not “real” leftists in the sense of “progressives” and they by and large love the country. (87% of them in fact, according to the same survey, which tells you the real size of the malignancy.)

But the real progressives can’t stand the sight of the flag. Some flew them the day their Barry was elected (I always wondered if it was a “don’t pound me, really.”) but never before and never again.

In fact, shortly after 9/11 when flags were everywhere my (I had some then) progressive friends were distinctly uncomfortable and a few went so far as to vent at being “revolted” by the flag-waving. The rest of us were comforted and vaguely cheered that our people still loved the nation and were reacting with unity and wound-binding.

And their Barry practically had to be held down and have a flag pinned on him when it was noticed he was the only candidate not wearing it.

Besides, don’t take my word for it. Wear a flag lapel pin to the next SF con fraught (always) with leftists and see the reactions you get, the wide-eyed stares, the frowns, the spittle-flecked rants (if you’re lucky.)

You’ll be informed that America is a nation of slave owners, exploiters, warmongers. The fact that in a real-world comparison we come out looking positively saintly in comparison to other nations doesn’t matter. Communism is preferable, if done right. (This time…) And they’re for peace. And Capitalism is as bad as communism if not worse because it fosters inequality and consumerism, and…

We don’t react that way to the sight of symbols of regimes we hate. TXRed admitted to having a USSR fur hat, and heck, I have considered one. And though I wouldn’t put it on my wall (I have a cold war injury. It really hurts when I think of communism) I can admire the “art” of the USSR from a kitchy pov.

We make fun, we get angry but we don’t RECOIL from the symbol like a vampire from a cross. (Usaian holy symbols, forever.)

Now there are various explanations for the vampire’s reaction. They range from the deeply theological, about vampires being possessed by a demon, and not human at all, to the more soft-pedaled, where they’re reminded they purchased death in life at the expense of eternal life, and can’t stand the symbol of the bargain they struck.

And there you have the heart of it, actually.

You see, the US constitution is one of liberty. Those “negative rights” that so incense their Barry are the recognition of “natural rights” every human being has, and which you can’t control without infringing. The “positive rights” Barry loves are actually a term for slavery. (No? How not?? “Universal healthcare” is lovely if it came down from the clouds fully formed. However, in this world we live in, it means the conscripting of doctors and nurses to work for money dictated by the government (or no money in some parts of the world) on pain of being killed or thrown in jail. The same with “universal housing” and all the other “Positive rights.” If they require a positive effort and work on another human beings part, they’re conscription and slavery.)

Negative, or natural rights require only the GOVERNMENT not violate them, and are consistent with a nation state that is free and minds its own business. (I’m not saying we have that, mind, only that it’s consistent.) Positive rights, like all slave regimes, require an empire and an ever widening net of conquests to provide slaves (by any other name) to provide those goodies.

BUT these poor people don’t understand liberty and they don’t understand minding your own business.

They bought, hook, line, sinker and tasty, tasty worm, the USSR propaganda that their was “universal” and “freedom” and that we were war mongers.

They’ve been told – indoctrinated, in their red, blood-tinted religion into – the idea that the choice is between Nazis and communists. And because we’re not communist, we must be Nazis. (This is like that East German creature who called me Fascist because I’m a libertarian. Surely you remember, from Hogan’s heroes: “Ve Haff vays to make you be free!”)

In this crazycakes spectrum and vision of the world, the only difference between the regimes is that the Nazis were nationalist and the Red Fascists were not.

This is a blatant lie, of course. The “internationalism” of the USSR always meant that the whole world would be one country, and that country would be Russia.

It is also accepted wisdom in most of the world, including Europe, where any display of affection for one’s homeland is viewed as a sign of impending fascism. (Which also causes them to dramatically misunderstand the US.)

So our poor progressives assume when we show any love for our country, we’re threatening to go on a conquest-rampage, throw minorities in camps and march in truly tasteless uniforms while goose-stepping.

The fact that both unnecessary wars and putting people in camps happened under their sainted co-religionist presidents escapes them totally. Probably because they know no real history.

Since we live in an age when the information IS available, and I’m a kind and caring person (coff) I propose we fly and wear the flag at every possible opportunity. When the rage-spittle ensues, we take the opportunity to lecture them back. And perhaps if they see enough flags, they’ll learn to use internet searches, who knows?

At any rate, their discomfort is not our fault. (Also, it’s funny!)

So fly the flag and enjoy it, and try not to smirk too loud at the would-be epileptic seizures of fury. If we’re all very lucky, maybe they’ll rage-quit the country. I volunteer to pay one non-return passage to Cuba for the first one who asks. It will hurt, but it’s for a good cause. They get to see what pseudo-non-nationalist socialism really is like.

And meanwhile, here in the land of the would-be free we have work to do.

In the end, we win, they lose. But liberty isn’t free.

We must rebuild a respect for our natural rights.  It will take time.  We’ve been marching the other way for 100 years.  (Goose-stepping too.)  We must write.  We must read.  We must educate.  We must turn this culture around.

Go to it.

It’s Not Easy To Be Me

I was looking through old posts, intending to do a blast from the past — it was one of those nights in which I engaged in massive unarmed combat with the bed clothes.  No, I don’t know why.  I know things HURT — and I came across a post where I talked back to the Five For Fighting Song, Superman.

This is something I do if caught in the grocery store and exposed to stupid songs.  Like, you know, Imagine.  “Imagine you could think beyond conventional leftist utopia, wouldn’t that be great?”

No, the neighbors haven’t had me committed yet, but that’s because we’ve been living downtown and I used to go to the store in whatever I was wearing for writing, (not pajamas.  I draw the line at pajamas) so they probably thought I was homeless and were afraid I’d kill them.

So, Superman.  It annoys me because “it’s not easy to be me” is a twelve year old’s attitude.  We’ve all been there.  We get everything handed to us, more or less (okay some of us less than others, but still by and large things that twelve year olds don’t have to worry about in the first world include keeping a roof over their head, food on the table and clothes that cover your behind.)  So you worry about other things: the fact you don’t fit in.  The fact someone looked at you funny.  The fact that your growing body doesn’t obey your commands as it should, so you’re clumsy and a little odd.

If you’re one of the blessed children who is graceful and popular or at least if your parents have enough money and lack of sense to put you in a place where they praise everything you do to the heavens, you’ll still worry, because some girl got the attention of the boy you liked.  Because some boy looked at you wrong.

It gets smaller and smaller, but you’ll still find causes for worry.  Microaggressions, if you will.

This is because as an adolescent you have neither the emotional apparatus nor the life experience to see that you are not special, that man is a worrying animal and that nothing in life is perfect.  You are just a kid trying to fit in, and all your experiences and all your knowledge is self-referent.  It looks like the rest of humanity knows where they belong and what they’re doing and you’re odd man out.  Hence the lament “It’s not easy being me.”

Then you get a little better at doing the everyday things, and you sort of wake up and look around.  And sometimes life smacks you in the face with a wet fish, and you realize your parents have been trying to keep the family together and a roof over your head while the regime of the day has frozen ALL their assets including their checking account, and your brother, whom you’re used to considering one of the blessed children because he always was a straight A student and had a group of friends from childhood, has been tutoring all his free time from his college classes and turning the money over to mom without a complaint so she can buy food for the table.  And here you’ve been resenting that it’s fish everyday because you hate fish; and you have been upset you don’t get money to buy a croissant at mid-morning, which excludes you from the cool kids trip to the coffee shop.

Suddenly you realize it’s not easy being you, but oh, my heavens, it’s much harder to be everyone else.

And you grow a bit more and realize your dad gave up his dream of becoming an artist for a career that he didn’t like because he had a family to support.  And you realize how well your mom does what she does considering what she battles every day.

And you start seeing all the times they didn’t tell you they were too tight on money, but gave you the price of a movie, because they wanted you to be happy.  And all the times they went without something near-essential so you could have something nice.

And then, somewhere along the line, you realize that all the grace and favors received come with an obligation.  That it’s up to you to do something nice for THEM, to bring unexpected joy to their lives, because they work so hard and they love you.  And the same with your friends.  Instead of worrying that you are having such a hard time, you notice your friend broke with her boyfriend and is trying to be brave, but depressed, and you blow all the money you made that month on tutoring to take her out to a movie about dance and dinner and to be silly and walk in the rain like you did when you were little.

Congratulations.  You’ve found the key to adulthood and arguably to happiness — when you stop obsessing over your own wrongs and difficulties and start trying to make others’ lives easier.

It’s still not easy.  And yeah, you’ll still have times when you feel sorry for yourself.  Or if you know you have the tendency to feel sorry for yourself, and overcompensate, you can “be an unintentional suicide” which means you don’t go to the doctor when you should, because you’re concentrating so much on your family, and when you do it’s too late.  Arguably my friend Alan died from that.

But you realize it’s not easy for anyone.  We don’t live in an earthly paradise where every tear shall be wiped away.  The most blessed of us will lose friends and pets and family to death.  The most blessed of us will get ill now and then and not feel so good.  The most blessed of us will have something they fight against, some sense of inferiority and loss.

That is why almost all major religions hold out the promise of a paradise where that won’t happen.  Where due to a transformational event, you won’t suffer from the human condition.

Anyway, remembering that song, and the thoughts that went with it, reminded me of a note a friend sent to me last night “Incoming president of MWA says that it’s very hard for minorities to make it in writing.”

Well… yes, it is.

It is very hard for ANYONE to make it in writing. Frankly, the fact I could tan and was darker than spun gold before a life indoors and age robbed me of some of my melanin (could be worse.  My husband now tends to look paper-white.) had far less to do with how difficult it was than knowing NO ONE in a field that was clannish and closed.  I mean, I didn’t even know organized fandom existed.  I didn’t know about going to conventions and meeting editors.  For the love of bugs, I didn’t know where to mail stories so I sent them to the publishing address.

But even that — even in a field where they look at you with suspicion if you come out of nowhere — was relatively little impairment, compared to struggling with the writing itself.

Because we use words every day we don’t realize how hard writing is.  Words are not the craft of the writer.  Emotions are.  I am editing a book written while in indifferent health and I swear I made EVERY POSSIBLE ROOKIE mistake, which means I have to back engineer the book with what I know.  It’s hard, but it also shows how much I learned.

And like all human animals, you only learn when not learning becomes too painful.  So I’m measuring every step I took along the way: making the books accessible; making the characters interesting; making it internally consistent; worldbuilding.  Etc. ad nauseum.

Even in the present age when you can publish yourself, capturing an audience is hard and will require not just skull sweat but the awareness you’re not as good as other people.

The worst thing we can do for beginners is teach them that the sense of inferiority and of being held out they have is attributable to anything other than their own lack of craft and experience (and the occasional lack of kiss from lady luck which can only be compensated for by writing a lot — ie. buying more lottery tickets.)

Tell the twelve year old that he has the hardest lot in life possible and that everyone else should cater to him, and he’ll never realize what other people are struggling with: he’ll never emerge from his cocoon of self obsession and resentment.

Tell the beginning writer that the reason their “masterpieces” aren’t received with glad cries is their sex/preference/color and they will latch on to that.  It’s easier to resent than to admit your work has flaws.  And it’s easier to scream in affront than to work at fixing those flaws.

And then you go through life inventing conspiracies against you and screaming micro aggression and you never become the writer you could be.

And that — that truly — is an injustice done to you.  But you’ll never know.

Your wings have been clipped, but all you’ll know is you sit in your soiled nest talking about how someone else is holding you down and you’re perfect the way you are.

It’s not easy being you — but the potential great books never written cry out against those who tried to make it easy on you and succeeded only in infantilizing you and crippling you.

You imagine everyone else had it easier.  You don’t see the years of struggle and lonely, painful failure.  So every little stumble makes you more bitter and more determined to never change.

And the field is poorer.

Set Yourself Free

Or “Why Winston loves Big Brother.”

So the tempest in a teacup in my field right now is that someone very appropriately named has written an article telling people to spend a year reading a specific kind of author. Yes, you read that correctly, a specific kind of author, not book. She is, mind you, generous, and allows you to pick what kind of author you wish to read: racial minority, sexual minority, insanity minority or any other kind of minority you might prefer. What you’re not allowed to read, specifically, are males and white males at that.

For a full window into that controversy, if you feel you must, Larry fisked her very thoroughly and competently.

As usual that’s not quite where I’m going. For one, because though this poor woman has issues and her issues have come home carrying little issues in arms, what is causing the furor and the issues is not, of course, where the problem is, but the reflected image of the problem, the part that we can more easily talk about.

The author, who comes from an affluent background and who shall henceforth be referred to as “Princess Tempest in a Teacup” is the fulcrum of the issue, but not the issue.

But her precious little tantrum, published by the ever obliging Guardian, clicked in my head with something else. The person she’s specifically throwing a tantrum at is a progressive white male author. And people are doing the usual “I wonder if this will open his eyes.” To which my answer was “well, no, it won’t,” which usually is not believed.

However, while discussing the subject, Elizabeth Moon and the semi-organized tantrum that is Wiscon came up. For those not in the know, Moon dared, sometime back, to hint that perhaps feminists should be more concerned with the treatment of women under Islam. This was enough to bring on the full panoply of retaliation from the left: holding their breath, crying, calling her mean and saying they now feel unsafe near her. Oh, who am I kidding? Although that’s what it amounts to, their actual retaliation is far more vicious and involves blackening her character and calling her the equivalent of a Nazi.

Back then too the writers to the right of Stalin (which is what my side amounts to) thought “maybe this will open her eyes.” It didn’t. Not only did it not cause her to question any of their other positions and behaviors, as soon as they were done yelling at her, she crawled back into the safety of their embrace. She did this because she has too much invested in her identity as a woman of the left, and in her leftism as a positional good. Whether she’s also convinced herself that they were right to beat her is something I can’t answer since we’re not exactly buddies.

The person I was discussing this with – one of them – is an immigrant from the former Soviet Union. When explaining what had happened I said “you know the drill” and she answered with “I know it, I just thought I’d left it far behind.”

Which made it click for me that yes, this is the equivalent of when – in a communist state – a high functionary or bureaucrat would get rebuked for some minor act of deviationism, and immediately crawl back into the embrace of the party as soon as the beatings stopped.

This in turn made me think of this quote:

In my study of communist societies, I came to the conclusion that the purpose of communist propaganda was not to persuade or convince, nor to inform, but to humiliate; and therefore, the less it corresponded to reality the better. When people are forced to remain silent when they are being told the most obvious lies, or even worse when they are forced to repeat the lies themselves, they lose once and for all their sense of probity. To assent to obvious lies is to co-operate with evil, and in some small way to become evil oneself. One’s standing to resist anything is thus eroded, and even destroyed. A society of emasculated liars is easy to control. — Theodore Dalrymple

Forget emasculated. It becomes a society of neurotic liars, because in communist societies, and in our own left, the “gospel” keeps changing. As new events emerge, they change the story to fit, or even they change it because they can.

As commenter Synova put it at Mad Genius Club sometime back, it’s the equivalent of crossing a floor composed of identical squares, and suddenly, out of nowhere, you get hit, and get told it’s because you stepped on that square. Yes, that one there. And you should have known better. And your only salvation, the only way to make the beating stop is to admit you did wrong and stepped on that wrong square, even though it’s indistinguishable from all others.

Reason will not avail you. There is no reason to look at Princess Tempest Teacup and feel guilty. She was raised in an affluent family and, like many poor little rich girls, has been trying to make up a different story for herself ever since. She also exaggerates her “minority racial characteristics” in photos, which is neither here nor there except in terms of neurosis. One has reasons to feel sorry for her – and enough. I watched her before she blocked me on Facebook for telling her she was fracking nuts, attacking a poster simply because he wore a hat in his picture. That was it. She built an entire identity for him based on wearing a hat – and also vaguely repulsed, because she’s trying to ride her non existent victimhood pony to glory. But one has no reason to feel guilty of her treatment as a “minority.” Unless the guilt is over the fact that we allow people to claim non-existent and counterfactual oppression and enable them with benes and appeasement.

However, if you’re on the left you can’t say that. You can’t say “Oh, for heaven’s sake, woman, put a sock on it. In the scale of people who have ‘suffered’ for circumstances not of their making you come way behind most white people in Appalachia and for that matter 90% of the colleagues in our field, regardless of color or orientation including but not limited to everyone who works for a living.”

You can’t say it even though it’s patently obvious to anyone with two brain cells to rub together.

Instead, you have to parrot the obvious and in your face falsehood that these people screaming victimhood — for the most part white, for the most part from affluent backgrounds; for the most part women; for the most part academics; for the most part rewarded all out of proportion because they espouse the correct “progressive” line – are suffering under the boot an oppression and being mistreated and held down.

The very thought is enough to make your eyes roll so hard they escape your head and are batted around by cats on the floor.

To anyone – and I had it relatively easy, since though I came from a poor place my family made do well enough and I never went without anything essential. (Okay, fine, clothes that fit during growth spurts but in a scale of victimhood that’s “hangnail” level pain.) And my greatest struggle was adapting to a new language/culture and breaking in without any contacts in the field – who actually has had to struggle to get where they want, the “victimhood” of “but he looked at me funny because I have a vagina” or “because I can sort of tan” fails to impress. (For instance, Princess Tempest quit a corporate job to attend Clarion. I was invited, and at one time offered a scholarship to attend Clarion, but even with the “tuition” paid for, I couldn’t afford the travel or the time because I had small children and responsibilities. And no, not repining. I think in many ways it was a good thing I did not attend. On the other hand, the fact she could do this without a second thought but thinks she’s “underprivileged” and “oppressed” is laugh-out-loud funny.)

But it is exactly because it is risible that this big lie has power. It empowers people who actually already have a lot of power since their kind controls the traditional gateways of publishing either by taking them over or by being able to scare those who do with screams of victimhood. It turns the world on its head by pretending that being leftist is a liability instead of the keys to the corridors of power in the arts and literature. And it requires you go along with it on pain of becoming an object of hate.

And most people go along with it, particularly if it’s the first time they’ve been outside the group and been accused of all-out-of proportion evil for their minor thought crime.

Once they’ve done that, once they’ve parroted the lie while being aware it’s a lie, they’re owned. Not only their credibility but their self respect is gone, and their only hope is to hide their shame by standing with the people who hold the positional good of the “politically correct” position.

This is why they crawl back and often become the loudest voices defending things like the idea that books have value because of who wrote them, not what is between the covers. Or the idea that separate is really better than equal, and “minorities” need “safe rooms” where they can avoid the horrible fear someone will look at them wrong or even questioningly. Both of these are on the face of it evil and stupid ideas. Both are required to be in good standing with the establishment that – surreally – gives out the accolade of “speaking truth to power” for speaking exactly what the power wants to hear.

Once you’ve been to room 101 and repeated back patent untruths, you have to tell yourself they’re the truth, or you can’t go on looking at yourself in the mirror.

And the only cure – the only cure – is to keep telling the truth and shaming the devil the progressives. Because that’s the only way back from being forced to tell lies for us as individuals, the only way back to self-respect for us as thinking creatures, and possibly the only way back from the abyss for our civilization.

You see, to navigate reality you must see it. If you’re collectively enveloped in a fog of lies, you end up doing things like fighting imaginary problems like inequality, while real problems like corruption and economic stagnation goes ignored.

And that ends up with everyone equally eating out of the same dumpster, while a boot holds them down forever.

Keep struggling to see the truth as it really is. And keep telling it, no matter how many attempts are made to silence you and shame you.

Believe your lying eyes over what they’re telling you.

And in reference to the idiotic tempest in a teacup – read whatever you want. I’m not the boss of you. And neither are the progressives who compose the establishment.

If you need to atone or be saved do so in the safe confines of religion. Politics is not an instrument of salvation, and you’re not required to wear sackcloth and ashes in front of anyone just because they shriek.

Set yourself free.

 

 

Lady Sings the Blues – Cedar Sanderson

Lady Sings the Blues – Cedar Sanderson

 

There comes a time in every artists/author’s/person’s life when they get a case of the blues. I dealt with that the other day on the heels of A. finishing a novel and B. finding out I’d flunked an exam. But surely, you say, finishing a novel is a great achievement, one to be celebrated? Well, the problem is that with any big project, there’s a certain feeling that goes along with the finishing of it, turning it over to other more critical eyes for an assessment, and you left holding your breath hoping that it isn’t as horrible as it looked when you let go of it.

It is a lot, I told one of my friends when she expressed concern about my glumping in private, like post-partum. Here you have this wonderful new thing that you labored over for so long, trying to wait breathlessly until it was all done… and then reality hits. With a baby, that’s a balance of the wonders of snuggles and feeding, and the midnight feedings and lack of sleep and lack of energy, and OMG, am I an adequate parent? Not even shooting for good, am I good enough? And the mountain of diapers and laundry, and… I’ve been there, done that. Delivering a book has some of those sensations.

And, now that I have had four children, and this was my sixth book, I know that there are certain inevitable consequences to certain actions. One of those is that for several days, I will feel sore and slightly hungover after delivery. But on the other hand, all that experience has taught me that I don’t have to lay there and take it. There are things that can be done, both before and after, to ameliorate the effects of the blues. And I will be clear: I’ve been depressed, and this ain’t that. This rises to the level of mopery, not ‘can’t function’ and if you’re there, then you need to talk to a doc.

In no particular order, then, and keeping in mind you don’t have to do all of them, and some may not work for you, here are ideas for driving off the blues.

Eat right and exercise. I know, everyone says this. But everyone is right. Without the fuel you need, you’re going to feel bad. And even if you’re using this to help recover from childbirth, not just finishing a significant project like a book or a piece of art, the exercise applies. You just might have to take it slow at first. For me, I eat horribly when I’m in the endstage of a book or artwork. I eat whatever is fast and easy, and then wonder why I’m sluggish and foggy. Having someone to remind you to eat is good, if you’re on your own, consider setting alarms/timers to remind you of mealtimes. Eating regularly is important, too.

Exercise does so much good for the brain. I really can’t emphasize it enough especially for a writer. If you can get outside – and that was part of my problem with the book, the weather was dreadful – it has the dual benefit of getting you away from the computer and social media. Fresh air, endorphins, and maybe a companion you’ve been neglecting… all healthful to mind and body.

Some of the odder things I do include getting a book and climbing into bed with it, or the bathtub. I realize as a new mom, this one’s harder. On the other hand, one-handed works a whole lot better with an e-reader while you nurse. Again… experience. But this little escapism can be essential to stepping outside the mundane and irritating world for a while.

I put up a birdfeeder a couple of weeks ago, where I can see it from my office window. This gives me a lot of pleasure, and keeps me from staring at the computer screen for uninterrupted hours. It cost I think $5 for the feeder gadget and a suet block, and it’s better than TV.

Which is another thing. Don’t watch TV. I shut off cable years ago, and I don’t miss the talking heads one little bit. I still stay current on the news, with the internet, and I am not subjecting myself to the carefully-designed emotional manipulation of ‘news’ shows. I watch a little programming on Netflix and Amazon streaming, but I’m choosy about it.

I get off social media when I’m feeling blue. There is so much coming at me, and I can’t afford to have a public meltdown, for many reasons. I see it happen to others, and I’m sympathetic, but I don’t want to have a weak moment and do it myself. I will however talk to a trusted friend. Might not talk about the concerns at hand, but just talking can be helpful. As can writing a rant out into the word processor, saving it, and filing it under ‘venting.’ For some reason my brain wants me not to just close the file without saving, but whatever works for you.

I will also seek out a ‘funny’ site. I’ve got a few that will usually have me rolling on the floor before too long. LOLCats, that sort of thing… There, I fixed It! Is highly amusing to me for some reason. Because my humor tends to ‘black’ I also really enjoy the things I learn from my patients thread, although I don’t go often any more, it’s slowed down over the years.

But mostly, I know this too will pass. I hug my loved ones and warn them of what’s happening. As a mother, it took a lot longer to recover and settle back into a routine than it does after a book. But the warmth oozes back into life, and life does go on. The beta readers don’t hate the book. The babies grow up to be smart, adorable, and surprisingly ept little people when you aren’t looking. And because I’m a writer, I start the whole process again!

 

The Narrative Goes On And On

So do you remember how last month, while the rest of us were somewhere between stunned and horrified at the savages who killed cartoonists in Paris, half of my colleagues went all sanctimonious and shrieked (I’m informed that’s a sexist word.  Good.  Ladies, if the harpy feathers fit, wear them) all over face book that the REAL issue — the REAL issue — was this bombing of an NAACP office in the springs which not only hadn’t killed anyone, but had barely caused any damage.

The offices are about a mile from the house we were living in at the time, and I THINK I heard the explosion, showing it’s more sound than fury.

At the time I sought out the report, complete with NAACP spokescritter screaming that it was clear it was all about race and wha wha wha poor little us, give us money to atone for your racial sins.

At the time too, if you remember, I said I would bet cash money it had nothing to do with NAACP.  (Granted, I didn’t guess the real motive.  I thought it was personal and directed at the hairdresser that shares the building.  That’s because the real motive was crazycakes.)

The reason is not that I think no one is racist, (impossible, since racism is the default mode of “human”.  Or at least tribalism is.)  It’s not that I think no one would ever have a reason to bomb A NAACP office.  No, the reason I said “unlikely, bordering on the impossible” is that I LIVE in Colorado Springs.

If a bombing of an NAACP office were reported, say, in Detroit or Chicago, I’d sigh and go “Well…”

But Colorado Springs is so white you could pick the few of us who can tan from orbit.

Okay, that’s not exactly true.  Like most places out west, the Springs has  a lot of Hispanics.  If the bombing had been in La Raza headquarters, I’d have gone “I can see that.”

What it doesn’t have is many people of African descent.  Half of the ones it has seem to be from Cape Verde and have come here escaping communism which makes them not the natural constituency for the NAACP.  In fact that community is two streets from my old house, and they are more “Portuguese” than African.  In fact, their kids used to come and drag younger son away to play soccer, which is why all the Portuguese he knows are soccer terms.

A significant portion of the other half are in the military.  Which means, again, they’re less “people of African descent” than “American servicemen/women.”

The demonstrations over the Ferguson thing were pathetic white, privileged college kids (Colorado College.  Liberal arts college.  Google the tuition and stagger) shrieking (yeah, that word again.  If the screech fits, wear it) over “black lives” like they knew their *ss from their elbow, or had ever had less than a comfortable moment in their lives.

In those circumstances, the only way someone could have targeted the NAACP offices would have been if the person doing the targeting had just arrived here from Detroit.  Not that this is impossible, given we import homeless by the busload, due to great “services” BUT you’ll agree highly unlikely.

As I said, it was unlikely enough that I was willing to lay bets it had nothing to do with race.  And I was right. 

Another report here, where they have the good sense not to mention what the NAACP leader said, and the bad sense not to report the full reason for the bombing (or perhaps they didn’t report it, because omitting it lends more credence to the NAACP leader bleating. [Sheep, why, bless you, no.  He’s more of a wolf wearing the pelt.  A really dumb wolf.])

Bleating, you say?  Why, yes.  After they found the suspect in the bombing, they talked to the (very) dishonorable Henry D. Allen Jr. who clearly thinks that yelling wolf is a virtue and also that he’s not quite done milking a totally unrelated incident.  Doubt me?  well, here it is:

Henry D. Allen Jr., president of the local NAACP chapter, expressed skepticism Friday about the accountant version of the story, but he would not say whether he believed his organization was the target.

“He targeted somebody in this building, and in my estimate it was not the tax people,” Allen said. “Does anyone really think this guy is going to admit to this?”

Okay, this guy was just arrested for building a bomb.  I think he might admit it was to the NAACP office.  In fact, had there been the slightest hint of racism or animosity towards people of African descent, dear Mr. Allen, I bet it would be all over the news like your fundraising wet dream.

BUT all that aside, as Charles reported in my comments, yesterday, the guy SAYS he was trying to bomb the CPA’s office in the same building.  Now, this is where the crazycakes comes in, because the CPA is no longer there, having been closed for years and dead since July last year.  And it would seem to lend credence to Mr. Allen’s fighting words.

It would, unless you know the bomber’s history.

Murphy told investigators he made the pipe bomb in his garage the night before the blast, using instructions he found online and materials from his work as a carpenter, according to court records.

Murphy believed the accountant intentionally destroyed his tax records, and he told investigators he “flipped out” because of his financial problems, the documents show. He said he wanted to send the accountant a warning.

“Murphy admitted the rationale for the pipe bomb was rage,” the documents say. According to court records, Murphy owed state taxes.

And also the accountant’s history:

DeHaven pleaded guilty in 2010 to filing false tax returns and was released from federal prison in April 2013.

And yet, despite all this AND this:

Nobody was hurt in the Jan. 6 explosion adjacent to a wall of Mr. G’s Hair Design Studios, a barber shop that also shares the building with the NAACP in a mostly residential neighborhood.

i.e. the fact that Mr. G would have more reason to think it was directed at him, Mr. Allen remains “vigilant.”

“We seek a continued investigation into the motive of the alleged suspect, and we look forward to the culmination of his criminal trial,” he said in a statement. “We will remain vigilant as we continue fighting for civil and human rights in Colorado Springs and throughout the country.”

I think that translates as “despite being proven that our accusations amounted to crying wolf, we remain hopeful our supporters will never see the paper reports.  We will continue to be a divisive force over race in Colorado Springs and the rest of the country.  Give us money.”

I recommend Mr. Allen read the story of the little boy who cried wolf.  It doesn’t end in big fat donation checks.

And I eagerly wait the apologies of my colleagues, those so brave “social” “justice” “warriors” who were offended — OFFENDED — that this non event did not take primacy in reporting over the butchering of journalists for exercising their free-speech and making fun of a barbaric and anti-western minority.

I’m waiting.  Any minute now, they’ll say “we’re sorry for perpetuating a narrative of division and anti-civilizational oikophobia.  Murders are more important than ineptly built bombs that damage the paint on a wall.  Silencing journalists is more heinous than being crazy and hating your CPA. We have intentionally promoted a groundless narrative of race hatred, so we don’t have to confront our own work to undermine the civilization that has made the most people comfortable and prosperous throughout the world since ever.”

Waiting.

Oh, who am I kidding?  I’m NOT waiting with sandwiches by the phone.

Because they’ll never admit they were wrong.  This will never be reported outside local media.  My colleagues will remain convinced they’re more virtuous than the rest of us and that the US is a cesspool of race hatred, much worse than anything Muslim terrorists have done in Paris or even anything ISIS has done.

This is the little self-hatred song that never ends.  The narrative goes on and on.

 

Do A Little Dance, Get A Little Book!

* So the snowmaggedon they PROMISED us seems to be a dusting that didn’t even stick to the roads. This is bad news, because I was counting on today and tomorrow to finish Through Fire and get it to betas. So, you out there, think snow over the rockies. Also, I will feel really bad if I have to go and work at the other house later, because I THOUGHT I couldn’t this weekend, so I did two days worth of work yesterday and I can barely lift my arms, still.
Meanwhile, below, there’s Free Range Oyster’s heroic effort to corral all the books the Huns and Hoydens are putting out. And there will something indie from me, soon, I promise, as well as the resumption of your free chapters as soon as I’m done painting ceilings and Through Fire is out of my hands.
And related to promo, remember what I said about how the fact I write in EVERYTHING makes it difficult for me to get real promotion? I was reading yesterday and I think maybe this guy was an ancestor or something. Gooble Gobble, definitely one of us. – SAH*

Happy Saturday, Huns and Hoydens! An especially warm greeting to those of you that the Oyster Wife and I got to spend time with at LTUE last weekend – we miss you already! The best writing conference on this continent plus a small gathering of Hunnity? Yes, please! Our So while you plug away at your writing projects, weekend chores, abominations of mad science, and 5-dimensional knitting, remember to take some time out and enjoy a good book. Oh look, we have some books right here! How convenient… As always, future entries can (and should!) be sent to my email. Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

Word Polisher, Story Hawker, and Benevolent Overlord of the Oysterhaus

Peter Grant

Ride The Rising Tide

The Maxwell Saga Book 2

Trapped in the Dragon Tong’s search for a lost legend, Steve Maxwell finds a way out by enlisting in the Lancastrian Commonwealth Fleet.

If he survives long enough to earn a commission, he’ll be able to hunt down the pirates who killed his mentor. To get there, he’ll have to slog through rain-swollen swamps, dodge incoming fire on a ‘peacekeeping’ mission, and face down a gang of angry smugglers. Even far away from enemies, a mistake can turn a spaceship into a deathtrap.

It’ll take resourcefulness and courage to succeed… but Steve hasn’t come this far in order to fail.

Jeb Kinnison

Red Queen

The Substrate Wars

This is Book 1 of the Substrate Wars series. The story starts on a California college campus just a decade from now. The world is post-terrorist disaster: repressive and censored, governed like China is today but with a stagnant economy and no jobs for young people. The students are cowed but not unaware, and they seize an opportunity when the government’s actions start to hit home even in academia. When they discover a new technology that could either free mankind or be the ultimate weapon for governments to control their citizens, they must decide what to do. Homeland Security and the Chinese government are one step behind; spies and traitors lurk in unexpected places. Who will determine how to use this great technology – free citizens or governmental bureaucrats?

A Passion For Cubbyholes

Yesterday I took a shashay down to Otherwhere Gazette, where someone in the comments of the posts was asking what the difference was between us and the SJWs, except they had a college degree and we didn’t.

The assumption dumbfounded me. Of my friends, I’m one of the least educated ones, as Kate and Amanda pack multiple graduate degrees, Dave Freer is a doctor (of fishology. Okay, it might be marine biology) and Tedd Roberts… well, a supervisor to doctoral students, besides being a doctor himself. As for the people involved with Sad Puppies, I have clue zero what Brad’s degree is. It doesn’t normally come up in conversation. I do know that Larry has an accounting degree for which he most certainly went to college (and paid his own way.)

Myself, as most of you know, I’m about a year short of a doctorate and now not likely to ever take it, because it was in languages, but over thirty years those have gone rusty and besides what good does it do me, now?

[Addendum: I just wanted to note I also have brilliant friends without college degrees and that I don’t consider a degree a stamp of intelligence.  Never have.  I took my degree in the hopes of a secure job.  Until the third year I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. (And then it was Swedish.)  Because the Author up there has a sense of humor, other than two brief stints teaching when Dan was unemployed, my degree has been of zero use for my actual work.  And I’ve learned more about areas like history that I never took in college than I ever did about the areas I did take in college.]

So the assumption that we didn’t have college degrees puzzled me. It reminded me of when a new girl about ten years younger than us, joined our group and assumed Rebecca Lickiss (physicist) and myself had no degrees. Why? Because we were married and had kids and chose to stay home with them. Therefore we clearly weren’t “educated.”

If you’re doing the sinal salute right now – fingers on either side of bridge of nose, head slightly bowed – yeah. I was too last night. It’s like they can’t conceive of people who have been “educated” choosing a different life path from them or even having different opinions.

I could say this was an effect of maleducation and their having illusions of intelligence. I.e. they let some college professors convince them that there is a “smart path” and a “stupid path” and the “smart path” for good little boys and girls with good grades obligates everyone to be a clone of whatever the professors envision.

I could, but we all went through the same maleducation and the same lectures which are mostly supposed to sell a point of view. And a lot of them are no dumber than we are. Yet we emerged… different. In fact, it’s almost a joke among my friends, and something that makes my kids’ blood run cold as they pursue their specialties, that few of us work at what we studied in college. And some of us have had intricately convoluted paths to get to doing what we actually enjoy.

So something different is at work here. It is in fact as though they thought that being “smart” obligated you to be an exact clone of them. As thought “smart and educated” were a category under which you get filed when you prove worthy of a college degree. (Which these days is not exactly hard. In my day, sonny! Also, get off my lawn.)

My son calls Wreck it Ralph the evilest movie ever made, because the moral of it at the end is “you should stay where you’re assigned.”

Yesterday I didn’t watch – but Dan was watching in the family room while I cooked – this movie where people got assigned a “role” and a station in adolescence. (That the authors thought there were only five and one was “thinker” was kind of funny. And sad. But mostly funny.)

I have no idea what the movie was, but what struck me was that as with Wreck it Ralph, the movie seemed to believe this putting of people in pigeon holes was a good thing.

It is a lust I’ve noticed among the people on the left, in the last oh, ten years. People should be assigned places according to their capacity judged by an “impartial” third party. That way they wouldn’t have the great unwashed crowding them about. Every person in his place and a place for everyone.

It’s all of a piece with their believing that the government must be brought into the most minute transactions and decisions affecting someone. There must be after all a government authority that decides I must have healthcare insurance, and I must have the package my ‘betters’ designed, providing for both birth control and abortion, even though I’d only need the first if I had a completely different body and I’d only have the second if I had a lobotomy. There must be a (benevolent) government dictating for whom one must bake wedding cakes. No decision too large and no decision too small when it comes to you not making it.

Because, you see, you’re just a widget, supposed to fit into a slot and do what you’re supposed to do, while all decisions, all rules control what you can do, so you’re no different than all those other widgets in the same slot.

This is of a piece with their inventing a multitude of genders (how many was it at last count, 41?) including “seeking” which means “don’t know.” It’s like they believe being a man or a woman and gay or straight means you have to absolutely conform to the stereotypes. If you don’t, you need a new word to describe what you are because every widget must be described so the right slot is found for him/her/shim/sher/blob. The seeking part always makes me think goes something like this “ZOMG, I’m not being attracted to anyone right now. I don’t know what I am. Seeking, seeking, seeking.” If you imagine that said in a little robot voice it’s just about perfect.

What amazes me is their assumption that not just them but EVERYONE would be happy in a world like that, where each human is put in a cubby and expected to live there forever.

I do them the justice of thinking their mistaken even about themselves. Particularly about themselves. A lot of the people who hold hardest to the idea that every little human comes stamped with a function (sort of like an egg) and an identification which determines his/her destiny are the sort of people who wake up on Tuesday morning and decide their real identity is dragon, something previously unsuspected in their sixty years of life. They’re the people who abandon a marriage of twenty years to “go find themselves” because apparently they somehow slipped behind the sofa cushions unnoticed. They’re the people whose resume goes from barista to physicist to astrologer and back again.

I think that’s why the lust for the ordered world. They feel out of control, bewildered by too many options, and lust for an ordered world where someone would psychically know where they belong and put them in the place where they’d be happy.

Two problems: first who can do that? We don’t have immortals among us, who can read the heart of men (yeah, and women and seeking, too) and tell exactly where you belong and where you’d be happy. Himself up there might be able to tell you that but He didn’t and gave you free will instead. Second what if there isn’t a place you’d be happy? Perhaps you weren’t built to be contented. Perhaps you’re someone who never quite fits in and pokes every away and towards the edges. Those have existed throughout history and there really is nothing wrong with being one of them.

In fact, the attempts by communist regimes to do this sort of thing were all more or less disastrous. Human beings, real human beings, aren’t easy to second guess or to “place” and tend to resist having their lives dictated to them.

So, beyond not making assumptions about the IQ or education of their opponents, I’d counsel our friends on the left (or anyone who thinks like that, though for some reason that’s mostly on the left) to possess their souls in patience and realize this utopia they seek is not only impossible, but it would be a nightmare for everyone, even the bureaucrats assigned to assigning people. (Can you imagine a more soul-eating job? For the corrupt it would be a chance at more corruption. For the conscientious trying to guess ‘right’ it would lead them to suicide.)

You have free will. Learn to use it. And kindly remove your boot off my neck and your governmental mandates off my life.

They will not bring me happiness, and I will ensure keeping them there and attempting to lord it over me doesn’t bring you any either.

Because I am not widget. I am a human being with distinct opinions, thoughts, and power of decision. You will never be able to understand the complexity and contradictions in a single human being, much less mandate what will make that person happy forever or what role they could fulfill for the rest of their lives.

And that’s a good thing.

 

What Matters When All Is Said And Done – A Blast From The Past from Oct. 2008

*A couple of days ago I went down a rabbit hole looking for fados.  This is not so much older woman renewing interests from when she was young.  I never really liked fado singers, except for mom.  And that was the issue.  I was looking for fados mom sang when I was young.  Anyway, I happened on the funeral of Amalia on youtube.  Amalia was a great (possibly the greatest) fado singer.  Anyway, it was fascinating watching the culture from outside.  Something struck me when they interviewed her priest and he said “I’m happy for her.  She had the death she always wanted.”  This statement is possible of several explanations since apparently she was sure she should have died in her thirties. But I understood it to mean she died the way she’d have liked to.

It is something very few of us — certainly me — don’t give any thought to.  Planning one’s death like other people plan a wedding.  It’s interesting and fascinating and utterly alien.  Would it have been alien to me thirty years ago?  I think so, but honestly I don’t know.  Anyway — that thought brought up this post.*

What Matters When All Is Said And Done – A Blast From The Past from Oct. 2008

Thought out of nowhere — or perhaps not since I’ve “faced” this in many books and stories, from Tom in Draw One In The Dark facing the Great Sky Dragon and knowing there’s no way he walks out of there alive, to the girl in Something Worse Hereafter – in the Wings collection — who knows she’s dead, but there’s a second death and not how permanent, to probably countless others I’ve forgotten.

Those last few minutes fascinate me.  Oh, people die in their sleep, people die without knowing they’re going to die, but I suspect most of us are starkly wide awake for the end and we know there’s no return, that this time there will be no save.  We come into the world without knowing ourselves, and all the time we’ve known ourselves we’ve been alive.  How is it to face the undiscovered country?

This is wholly separate from religion, btw.  I’m one of those for whom faith requires and effort and a silencing of the mind.  I know what they say is on the other side, but is there?  Curiously I never doubt those I love or have loved go on, cats and dogs and people alike.  The world would have to be a nonsensical thing and life less than sound and fury for death to erase my beloved paternal grandmother, my flawed maternal grandfather or the childhood friend who died much too young.  It would have to be a strange place to have forever destroyed Petronius the Arbiter, cat from Hades.  No, somewhere I’m sure they’re alive and still integrally themselves, as is Pixel the “speaker to the humans” orange fuzzball I miss everyday.

But those people — yeah, cats are people too, got a problem? — were special individuals, in their own way saints of heros or… bigger than life.  As for me, who am none of those, who can tell? I have a vague idea life continues in some form and hope there will be books and cats, if I’ve been very, very good, but the preferred outcome might be that there is nothing but oblivion.  Perhaps this makes me morbid, but my secret wish is that there is literally nothing on the other side.  Just… as though I’d never existed.  After life’s fitful fever (s)he sleeps well and all that.

Once I came  close enough to those final moments that it seemed a sure thing.  In fact, during an eleven day stay in hospital I came close to crossing that gateway at least twice.  (Might have been three times.  My blood ox was so low most of the time, that I don’t remember very clearly.  Brain damaged, I tell you.)  So… what was there?

Well, like the prospect of being hanged in the morning, coming face to face with your mortality at 33 does concentrate the mind wonderfully.  There are so many things I want, so many things I think, so many things I am.  And then when it all came to the end, in the silence at the eye of the storm, it all settled down and simplified.  I regretted leaving my husband and was sure if there was something on the other side, I WOULD miss him; I worried for my boys, then one and five.  But above all, around all, I felt as if the novels and stories I’d never written — at the time I was unpublished and had only written five? novels — were screaming at having to die with me.

Yes, my life changed after I got better and left the hospital.  At many times and places people have told me I need to close the office door.  I need to keep the kids out.  I must swat the cats off the keyboard.  I can’t stop in midst novel to go cuddle my husband.  Pardon me but… poppycock.  What comes after is a mystery, but one thing I know and that is that if any form of awareness or thought or memory subsists, I’ll miss my family and friends.  I’m not a good person, but those I love — and not just in terms of sexual love, but my friends too, those I refer to as being “within the magic circle” yes, even my e-daughters and other friends that I’ve only met online :) — I love deeply and I enjoy their company and I will do so as long as I can.

The other thing is that I started taking the writing more seriously — without neglecting my family or friends.  It went from being a wishful, sort of hobby that might one day be a job, and it became a driving passion.  And the reason I write as much as I do.  I don’t want those stories to die unread, in my head.  Life is too important to waste, unlived.  And stories are born to be heard.

Other than that?  I don’t know.  I’ve faced it so many times in writing — what will it be like in real life, and how will I feel when it comes?  One thing I know — it will come.  It sounds like one of those sixties truisms, like “we’re all naked under our clothes” but life TRULY is a fatal condition, and everyone dies eventually.  To pretend otherwise robs our life of urgency and strength.

All I can hope is that if I’m required to face it before I expect to, I’ll do so with courage, because whether there’s nothing on the other side; whether the dreary dust-world of the ancients lurks; whether resurrection and eternal life looms…  in all of those, I’m sure that for those left behind the manner of one’s death will count.  For some reason — probably the movie — I’m thinking of the Greeks at the Hot Gates.  The manner of their death sure as hell mattered.

And for the rest, I’ll leave it in the words of one of those men long dead who I’m sure is alive and vibrant somewhere, and probably still writing:

Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard.
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.