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This is no time to get wobbly

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

-You have to have been employed

- You have to pay a substantial fine.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be not afraid.

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

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

No More Crying Now

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Read that line from the Huff Po.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But the healthy ones move on and grow up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Strange Phenomenon of Post Con Blues – Charles Gannon

The Strange Phenomenon of Post Con Blues – Charles Gannon

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

And again, to the bar.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

My People

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Special Types of Entitled – Kate Paulk

Special Types of Entitled – Kate Paulk

Apparently kicking back at the idiocy of the Social Justice Warriors brings the really special entitled ones crawling out from under whichever rock they were hiding under. That or there’s just something in the air at the moment. Or maybe the water.

 

The first round of really special entitlement came from According to Hoyt on Saturday’s post, where a truly charming specimen seemed to think that a combination of foul language and chastising Sarah for an incidental comment – without, of course – ever addressing any of the real content of the post. Naturally, said (to use the specimen’s own language) special entitled cunt was promptly informed by a number of the Huns that she had no grounds to be claiming poor reasoning when she’d shown nothing but the standard troll playbook arguing and hadn’t even managed to do that well.

 

Of course, since this particular kind of special holds as a matter of religious faith that the portion of anatomy in question makes one special beyond questioning and at the same so terribly fragile that a shirt with classic 50s style gals with rayguns is something they have to be protected from, it’s clear the equally special belief that logic is a tool of the patriarchy and so is fact is also a core belief.

 

The only thing that matters for this sort of special is the feels. If it gives them bad feels it must be evil.

 

If that wasn’t stupidity enough, Sarah’s Facebook feed acquired some equally special entitled cunts. The use of a male handle – and frankly, male anatomy – doesn’t make a difference given that the alleged arguments are right out of the SJW shake that Hoo-Haa till the glitter covers everything playbook.

 

For a bit of context, Sarah shared a comment about a Massachusetts town trying to ban all tobacco products within the town borders, with the observation that tar and feathers were appropriate in this situation. This quickly attracted special trolls. Troll #1 seemed to be of the opinion that because he has a severe allergy to all forms of cigarette smoke, smoking should be banned everywhere – but he’s not entitled, oh no. He even tried to argue that he wasn’t claiming his rights to clean air trumped everyone else’s rights to whatever forms of enjoyment they chose to use.

 

Which was when Troll #2 joined the fray with a scatological analogy that completely failed to work and just left me wondering what crawled into his fundamental orifice and died there. And accused those who snarked his efforts of ad hominem.

 

Troll #3 started with a fishing question designed to reel people in then prove his point, and quickly descended to the scatological.

 

Honestly. Apparently the moment you scratch a statist you bring out an obsession with genitalia and/or the end product of the digestive system. I can think of no other reason for the coprophilic turn of Troll #2′s commentary, the speed with which Troll #3 sped to flatulence analogies, and of course the blog’s special one’s choice of ‘cunt’ as the appropriate terminology for ‘a woman with whom I disagree’. Troll #1 at least had the decency to avoid that kind of vulgarity (for those wondering – I try not to initiate it, although, being Australian, I tend not to be all that successful, but if someone else does, I have no qualms about responding in kind).

 

So. My only sensible theory at this point is that there’s a massive wave of cognitive dissonance running through the special entitled ones. After years of the rest of us being polite and not calling them out on either their stupidity or their assumption that the rest of the world should conform to their idea of how things should be, we’ve had enough and we’re telling them to stop. Worse, we’re telling them where they can put their entitled belief (Slice. Sideways, and without lube).

 

They, who have been taught that all that matters is the feels and that logic and facts are the tools of the patriarchy – and as a result lack the ability to realize that without those “tools of the patriarchy” most of their world simply goes away. The computers: they run on logic. All the technology we take for granted: built on observation, logic and experiment – have no way to handle being smacked in the face with anything that doesn’t support their worldview.

 

To some extent I pity them. This has to be hellishly traumatizing for them. But at the same time, their nonsensical beliefs are destroying everything I value, so I can’t be merciful. That’s my choice, and my penance. I just hope I won’t have to go to the blood in the streets level to defeat them.

The Myth That Kills — A Blast from the Past post from Oct-2012

*Sorry to use a bfp.  I actually slept, which means I must be getting used to sleeping sitting half-up.  But I slept too late, and I have a ton of work to do.  So forgive me the repeat, which is relevant to shirtstorm.  (BTW supporters of the turpid Rose Eveleth on twitter were accusing instapundit of “Doxxing” her for calling her a horrible person. Because libeling a law professor is a sane strategy.  Of course, these people haven’t seen sane in the last ten years, not even through a periscope.)*

I’m very afraid this is another of those posts that will get me accused of being a “gender traitor.”

That’s just fine.  If you think a gender – the fact that you were born with one piece of physical equipment – demands your loyalty and forces your opinions to be the same as those people with the same piece of equipment, call me a traitor.  Guilty as charged.

You see, I tend to think of people as people.  This has largely been a handicap in writing fiction in the current age, because I’m expected to view women as saints-and-martyrs and men as oppressors-and-satyrs.

Have I met some examples of those?  Oh, heck yes.  Hasn’t everyone?  But I’ve met the opposite too.  Hasn’t everyone?  So why is only one of those the “correct” thing to put in a novel?

Ah, but you’re going to tell me that pushing women as victims, as saints, as nurturers is the way to go, so we can carry on with the feminist victory and equality of the sexes.

(Looks across the computer at you)  I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

Equality means, in this as in anything else, equality before the law not equality of results.  This is something that we keep forgetting.  Look, that was the ultimate difference between the American and the French revolutions.  Americans wanted equality before the law.  The French wanted equality of results.

They had justifications, too. They were dealing with an historically beaten-down peasantry, starved, uneducated (though not nearly so much – the revolution happened because education had started to spread.  Never mind. We’re going with how they viewed themselves) used to being deferential.  They needed more than just equality before the law, they said.  They needed to redistribute some of those advantages, to enforce equality of results for a while.

We all know how that ended up, right?

It always ends up that way.  Humans are individuals, not groups.  When you empower the groups, you empower the worst in any group. The power-thirsty, the aggrieved, those who want to manipulate group-outrage for their own purposes.

It is the same with women.  It’s lots of fun to read the more sentimental writers of centuries past (and the not so sentimental and totally un-ironic feminists of the last century) go on until your eyes bleed about women being kinder, gentler, softer, nicer.

Poppycock.  Poppycock with powdered speciousness.  Yes, women presented that way.  This was the result of centuries where women had the subservient position.

The first one of you to open her mouth about how this is the injustice feminism needed to correct is going to go to the corner with the dunce cap, so help me bog.

The reason women were “oppressed” for six thousand years (longer, for certain values of women) had NOTHING to do with men dethroning the goddess myth and destroying the perfect matriarchal society because they’re evil or any other re-writings of the Judeo-Christian myth of Eden.  Marija Gymbutas was – yes, I’m crossing Godwin, and I have a reason – as much of a fabulist as Hitler, and about as good a scientist.  She didn’t have armies at her disposal, but those who believe in her might in the end bring down civilization as effectively as the Nazis would have done, so I do not apologize for using the analogy.  (If you don’t think convincing women that all men are their enemies, handicapping boys in school, running men out of the teaching profession, and generally making men guilty-until-proven-innocent is a civilization-killing meme, you need to go out and meet some real men and some real women.)

Women were subservient in society due to that horrible oppressor: biology.  When you were going to have to be a celibate or spend half of your life pregnant, you missed out on other aspects of life.  Yes, I love those of you who had no problems in pregnancy.  I had two diametrically opposite experiences: the first pregnancy would have killed me without strict bed rest, for the second I kept forgetting I was pregnant.  HOWEVER in both of them in retrospect, not at the time, I missed vast chunks of intellectual function.  There is an hormone cocktail that is supposed to make you fat, happy and dumb during pregnancy.  It is what it is.

Worse, even for women who never get pregnant, until modern hormonal treatment, we women were prisoners of our hormones.  Even now I have more than a friend who hit menopause and… became someone else.  In very rare instances, the change is for the best.  Most of the time it’s a “What on Earth happened to your brain?”

I thought I had dementia for a long while – I literally couldn’t remember the names of my characters or what had happened from a chapter to the next.  And if I wrote it down, I’d have to go look at the notes, and then when I came back to the book I’d forgotten what I’d looked up.  For a while (most notably the last Musketeers mystery) I had to have a friend check my work because I’d forget what I was doing and had tons of internal inconsistencies.

Turned out it was an hormonal problem, not dementia and not menopause, as I thought.

Now, that’s an extreme case, mind you.  But it’s not unusual.  And though men, too, can have this type of issue, it is considerably more common in women.  What makes us women — the ability to generate new life – also makes us cyclical creatures, both in the monthly sense and in the life-cycle sense.  And if you think your hormones don’t affect the way you think, let me tell you the only reason you think that is that you’re inside your skull and being affected.  Until my experiences with hormonal insanity I too thought I was impervious.

Anyway, the point is until modern medicine with contraception and hormonal supplements, women were swimming with an iron vest strapped on.  Add to that that only women can be sure that their children are theirs.  This made men – of course – wish to make sure women were controlled, to make sure the kids they were providing for were their own.  It made for a society where women were somewhere between children and chattels and men had all the responsible positions. (Though even then some women managed to break through.  Individuals are… individual.  It’s one of their characteristics.)

Does any of that still apply?  No.  Thanks to modern medicine, we even can figure out whose daddy is whose without keeping women in purdah.

And though it took a little while, society changed. Women started taking the place of equals in society.  Like the French peasantry, which would have come along once barriers to their equality under the law were removed, we have started taking intellectual callings and sometimes physically intensive callings.

We are now, if we want to be, equals.

The problem is that most of us don’t want to be equals.  And the reason for that is that most of us have been sold on the feminist creation myth of the great mother and the perfect society with men as the spoiler of paradise and the villain.  And most of us are stupid enough to buy it.  (Yes, I know men worshiped goddesses.  If you think that made the society feminist, you have birds in your brain and you probably also believe there’s some magical herbs that are as effective as the pill and have no bad side effects.  (No.  There aren’t.  There was a bush that had similar properties, but it went extinct in Roman times).  Societies that worshiped goddesses often demanded the most control over women and engaged in temple prostitution.  They also had a marked tendency to child sacrifice.  On the other hand, most societies worshiped both.)

Also, most men are of course bigger than us.  Stronger. And there’s the whole historical inequity.  Just like the French peasants.  So we demand laws that favor us and more importantly we demand the blood of our enemies.  And we demand to be treated with a respect and a care that would have scared Victorian maidens.  We use the slightest thing as a weapon.  Because only when the oppressors are gone, will we be free.

This was bad enough when it was the French peasantry.  But men are not some aliens dropped on the Earth from afar – they’re our fathers, brothers, sons and husbands.  They’re an integral part of what makes humans humans.  They’re not a monolithic group, just like women aren’t, but statistically they’re better abstract-and-visual thinkers and the people who are more likely to think outside the box, just like statistically we’re the socially-oriented people, more detail-specialized and better at cooperating.

Society – a civilized society – needs both to survive and go forward.

But women have been sold on males-as-the-boogeyman and therefore they see evil intention and coordination and conspiracy behind males’ being people.  Meet one abusive male, and you’ll go through life convinced that all men are like that.  Does anyone do the same when meeting an abusive woman?  I don’t know about you, but I’ve had bosses from hell in both genders.  So, why is only one accused of being “oppressive”?

Because it’s the myth.  And it’s a myth the power-hungry people who took charge of the feminist movement (one that initially only wanted equality under the law) are happy to perpetuate.  It’s a myth every college, every entertainment gatekeeper cherishes.

It’s a poisonous myth.  It’s also a stupid one.  No one in their right mind would talk about “War on women” for instance.  Are you insane?  Why would normal men – yes, your husband, your brother, your son – want to make war on women?  And yes, that means you, your sister, your mother.  Hell, even my gay male friends like women and have mothers and women friends.  And yes, for those of you about to be stupid, even males on the opposite side in politics have all of those, and no, none of them hate women.  (Except perhaps the occasional pathological case.)

(If you bought that wanting to not pay for contraceptives out of the public purse and at the expense of other people’s religious conscience is a “War on women” you might want to inform yourself.  Not giving you something for free is NOT restricting access.  Otherwise, people are restricting your access to food, housing and entertainment.  Is that a war on humans?)

I’ve watched the rise of this myth with slack-jawed amazement.  HOW can you even think that?  Guys, my men – and I live with three of them, husband and two sons – couldn’t “conspire” to keep chocolate hidden from me (they’ve tried.) And they’re all three of them brighter than the average bear.  WHY would you think men in general would want to conspire to keep you in submission?  Most modern guys wouldn’t know what to do with a truly submissive woman.

Oh, I know.  It’s the myth you heard, from Gimbutas and her sisters in school all the way to the latest movie you watched.  Males want power over you.

Well, some males maybe.  Those who belong to a religion that dresses women like upholstered furniture.  But it’s just one culture and there’s reasons for that (including but not limited to a culture of scarcity and a tradition of bride kidnapping.)  It’s not all men, and it’s certainly not MOST men men of the western world.

Like the women who no longer remember why women were “historically oppressed” the men alive now were never in a society where men had the upper hand.

I have a friend who believes that it’s a pendulum.  Men had the upper hand, now women do, then it will swing back.

Unless science has some sort of pendulum too, I don’t see where she’s right.

What I see is women who were freed by tech advances and who THINK they were freed by marching shoulder to shoulder and taking permanent offense.  These women live in a state of paranoia, dreaming up male privilege that is invisible to anyone but them, and taking offense at ever more ridiculous things – even things that have nothing to do with gender – because they’re so terrified of men taking the upper hand again.

I look at them going to war with spelling: Womyn, Herstory.  I look at them dancing around dressed as vaginas (!) because apparently the most important thing in these women’s lives is their sexual organs. I look at them acting as a pack and attacking whoever they’re told to attack because “so and so is anti-woman” and I think… these are humans?  These are civilized people?  Don’t they see they’re being tools of the Marxist divide-and-conquer strategy?  Don’t they see the end of this is either societal destruction or TRUE backlash for the sake of saving civilization?

Apparently not.  So… carry on.  Dance around in your little fabric vaginas.  Think that all men are out to get you.  Refuse to have children, because some of them might be male.  And scream, scream, scream about made-up outrage.

That’s the way to bring civilization down and destroy the technological advances that brought us equality.  If that’s what you want, DO carry on.

Apres nous, le deluge.

No Space for Sewing Circles

A shirt with women involved in epic space fights is no reason to shame a man who landed on a comet. To think it is, is a form of insanity.

I’ve been meaning to write a long post about the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop, but life has been fraught since we came back, so it waited till today. And now it’s going to get somewhat highjacked (sorry) by … idiocy surrounding the shirt of a man who landed on a comet. Which means the real post about the workshop will come later, again.

First of all I want to thank my friend and Baen books colleague Les Johnson who is a real scientist and who invited me to this, for reasons I don’t fully grasp but I’m very grateful for. I suspect it was a conjunction of “has an interest” and “can take time and pinch pennies to come.”

Dan went too, because I couldn’t go to a space thing without him. I think it is in fact in our marriage vows “shall not go listen to space stuff without me.” I don’t know. The vows were in Portuguese and I might be missing a bit of the translation at this point. But he says it was in it.

We went early on Saturday, so we could take the Seminars on Sunday on terraforming and interstellar flight. The interesting part of the later is that Les had managed to convey most of it to me already, in helping me with my story for Going Interstellar. These were 101 seminars, but I needed to do them because – for those of you who’ve heard – another Heinlein child in the aerospace industry has convinced me we must write juveniles like Heinlein’s on things that children could hope to live when they’re grownup. I think it’s doable, but I needed my level-set on state of the art.

The rest of the next three days was spent listening to some of the most devoted proponents of space flight and interstellar colonization.

I’ll note right here that women were about one in five people – none of which mattered, I was just jazzed to be in the show. – more on that later.

I have voluminous notes elsewhere. The stuff on worldships is fascinating, as is just the… psychological intersection of a (relatively) short lived species and the dream of the stars.

Which is where everything comes to a point. Part of my prevailing issue was people talking about “we can get there in a thousand years.” “If we set it in motion now…”

I fully agree we should go, don’t get me wrong. We are a colonizing species by design and makeup. The “long lived” civilizations on Earth that eschewed colonization (okay, China) seem to be caught in a recursive loop and ever-increasing conformity.

We must look outward to save the Earth civilization.

On the other hand, HOW CAN one make a plan that will take a thousand years? Be it in a worldship or here on Earth?

We can’t. A quarter that is the distance to our founding. A thousand years ago we were busy with the crusades. Our aims, aspirations, our very civilization changes in much shorter periods than that. Some of the motives in Shakespeare and Jane Austen are already unintelligible without concentrated study.

Which brings us to why I was there and why I think the seminar is amazing and necessary, and why I’ll go back in a year and a half, if they let me.

There is a bit in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress where Mycroft says, about an “impossible” invention (I think it was transmuting matter) something like “It is a mathematical certainty we’ll develop this, the question is when.” And then explains that kind of conceptual breakthrough requires a “genius event” and those can’t be predicted. They’re the result of genetic drift and recombination.

I feel the same way about interstellar flight. It HAS to be possible and we – curious monkeys – will find a way to do it. The question is when. And also, remember what I said about civilizations turning inward and becoming recursive? We must not let that happen. Going out there, past our solar system, might not be possible right now, given who we are and the distances involved.

But it will be possible someday, at which point having people who kept their eyes on the stars and have studied some of the issues is important too. Which is also why it’s important to write and explore REAL science fiction. By that I don’t mean hard science fiction. Yes, I came back from Knoxville with a fistful of story ideas that will be sent to Analog by the by, and a few more that will be integrated in my future history, BUT – this is important – science fiction is not just what we know now. Science fiction about space marines, folded space, colonization of interstellar vasty deeps, all of that is “REAL” science fiction, if the author approaching it approaches it with the mind set of “how will it be?” and not “I’m going to write a story about how my minority/gender class is exploited now and set it in the future to evangelize the geeks.

I fell in love with science fiction at 11 because of that “speculate about the future so you’re prepared when it gets here” aspect.

And it’s an important aspect, and it must be worked on. Because, yeah, that genius breakthrough MIGHT come through in a thousand or two thousand years. Or it could come through tomorrow. And we have to be ready/have people who are used to thinking in that scale.

When I was at the workshop I kept thinking (and one of the speakers (I’d have to find my notes to know who and since I’m not allowed to bend down because of the eye issue, the briefcase sits unpacked) said this explicitly) this must have been what Science fiction was like in the thirties and forties. Most of the people in the room had scientific training (and none made me feel bad) and were passionate about the future and about space.

Which brings us back to the ratio of men and women. And to the shameful incident this week, in which the despicable Rose Eveleth at the Atlantic bullied Dr. Matt Taylor into apologizing, in tears, for wearing a shirt with women with rayguns on it.

Rose Eveleth is the fluffer who wrote the piece about Lekie and science fiction starting to give awards to women in SF again, in response to which I wrote this. (And yes, I know a few male names escaped the slash and burn I did on the rawish data uncle Lar sent me. Because he didn’t know many of the names, some ambiguous names got in, and I cut (most) of them out, but it’s hard to highlight and cut with my mouse at present, so a few escaped. In the same way, I almost guarantee if I had time to filter the raw data, that Uncle Lar missed some females with unusual names, that I’d know because I know their work, or at least heard of it.)

Why a woman who can’t even do her own research for her own articles should be allowed to bully a man who as part of a team (incidentally led by a woman) landed on a comet is beyond me. Or rather it isn’t. It’s a symptom of the sickness in our society.

The sickness can be defined as this: we are trying to remake women into men, and in the process we castrate men and we release profoundly wounded women out into society, who think they should be what they cannot be and therefore lash out at all and sundry from a core of hatred inside them. And society aids and abets them, due to the bizarre idea that men and women should be exactly alike and equally represented in all endeavors or society is “sexist.”

I’m going to say it once and for all – men and women are different. They were subjected to different evolutionary pressures.

Note I didn’t say one is better and the other worse. That is where we’ve gone all batty, because the feminists say women are better and prove this by trying to make women like men.

Men and women are different. And according to my son’s class on evolutionary psychology, they’re not even different in a way you’d expect. For instance men are better at highly focused work and women at multitasking. Women are usually better at reading non verbal signals, etc.

Beyond that there are instinctive drives. MOST women want to have children, even when you berate them about this constituting a sell out.

Here’s the thing – men and women are different as categories. Not as individuals. What I mean is, I was an odd boyish girl, not in presentation but in interests. The ratio of females at the TVIW was high compared to the groups I preferred as a child/young person (note preferred isn’t often got.)

There are women who are passionately interested in science and engineering. I was one of those, and if I had realized that my penchant for scrambling numbers was beatable and workaroundable (totally words) and not a sign I was “stupid” I’d have ignored mom and gone into mechanical engineering, anyway. (She was afraid I’d get knocked up in a class of all guys. Fundamental misunderstanding of WHY I wanted to go into engineering and also the social couth of most engineers.)

But most women, that vast middle mush (women are mostly just average for IQ, or a little above. Men statistically speaking cluster at the ends of the bell curve: morons and geniuses, one of the ways in which “are men smarter than women?” is only answerable with “no” and “It’s complicated.”) don’t want to learn that stuff. Most of them have very little room for abstraction in their lives.

Heck, even I, with my untrained mind, jotted down mostly “social developments related to this innovation” ideas. Most women don’t become fanatics about some scientific project to the exclusion of all else.

Which is why in the hobbies (and most people at the interstellar workshop most participants are hobbyists in the sense of not paid for) that rely on high abstraction, extrapolation, mathematical know how, etc, you find mostly men. This is everything from space societies to mathematical societies, to even war gaming.

There no one is trying to force women in, because there’s no money at stake (though that might change with the new incursion into gaming by the sisterhood brigades) and there you can see the ratios of who really wants to do this.

Note that in these circles of men, any woman who is GENUINELY INTERESTED, even if not trained in the field is not only welcome but treated as a star. Because, you know, most men like women, and love having women around in their circles, women who validate their interests. (I think it goes something like “I’m not uncool. Look, this hot chick likes the stuff I do.” (and note for these purposes, I count as a hot chic at 52 and battling weight issues.))

What they don’t like is women who come in and try to change the game so they can “win.” I don’t think it’s news to anyone that men obsessed by an important topic are often not great on the social graces. Because the topic is what’s important. The women equally interested in the topic account for this, and might now and then gently redirect intercourse into a more normal pattern, but they DON’T shame geeks for being geeks or for their idiosyncrasies, as the despicable Ms. Eveleth sought to do.

Of course, she needed to do that, because compared to the deeds of men and women who can land on comets, her mind appears petty, vulgar and effete. Which, of course, it is. The proper response to that is to either stop faking interest in topics that visibly don’t interest her or to inform herself or if – like me – her education was cut short for whatever reason, she should listen from a position of humility to those who know more than she does.

But humility is unknown to the contemporary “feminist” who has retained nothing save the idea that women should be superior to men in all things, and if they aren’t this is proof of sexism.

And thus the “Social Justice” Whiners trundle on, changing the rules of every field they take over to fit their small minds and miniscule concerns, so they can claim to be “as good as men” without any of the effort. In this process they turn everything they touch into a cross between the mean girls club in high school and a neighborhood sewing circle. I have nothing against a neighborhood sewing circle. I’ve belonged to some. But there are places and times for it. And places and times for big, world shattering, species-changing concerns.

My friend Cedar has written about it here.

What I want to say is this: we can’t let them. What they’ve done to science fiction is a poisonous disgrace, that has turned a speculative and highly innovative field into a pimple on the rump of paranormal romance and romantic fantasy. (Not that there is anything wrong with those genres, but they shouldn’t be cannibalizing science fiction, nor would they be if science fiction had retained its original thrust.)

Understand, I’m not saying we shouldn’t write about possible social developments in the future. As an historian, I’m almost unable to look at something like a worldship and not see the social (and biological) issues that arise, and how they can be countered.) Will we have social problems in the future? Undoubtedly. And writing about them is fascinating.

But the people who write about it from today’s perspective, really, are shorting the future in favor of the social (and mostly herd-learned, not original) concerns of the present.

Yeah, yeah, racism in the future, sure. It’s bound to exist, given that humans identify “my tribe” instinctively. It’s the way we’re made. On the other hand, will it have anything to do with skin color and hair texture? Or will it be based on the modifications we take on in colonizing different environments? Or even “natural” and “bio engineered”? Compared to those differences skin color seems petty.

In the same way the interaction between men and women is bound to be fascinating, particularly as some form of bio-womb is invented. But it is highly unlikely to stay stuck in the 21st century neo-marxian narrative of “everything men do is wrong.”

It’s unlikely to stay stuck there, because if it’s stuck there we will not survive. Because women will bring their concerns to forums in which most of them (note I didn’t say all. I’m not writing myself out of this story) have no interest. Because “parity” and “feminism.” And in the process they’ll destroy outer space exploration, make it petty and ineffectual, in the same way they’re now trying to do to Science Fiction and gaming.

Women who like space exploration, or science fiction, or gaming are already perfectly welcome in those fields. Welcome with open arms, in fact.

Women who want to change them to be all about social justice and neo Marxism and a kind of ridiculous self-absorption that could only interest the subject and her giggly-girls club (see Lena Dunham) need not apply.

Because the truth, Ms. Eveleth, is that women who have an interest in space exploration will not be put off by a scientist’s shirt showing pretty women in next to nothing, holding ray guns. THOSE women – I’m one of them – will think it’s cool. They will dive into the field with renewed interest because there are Odd men there, and only Odd men get Odd girls, the same girls your cliques tend to treat as pariahs because we don’t wear the right clothes and we don’t emit the required bleats at the right time.

I know you’ll never get this, but you can keep your “social justice” and your damned Marxist-derived feminism.

I want my ray guns and my spaceships.

 

Novella Out

Yes, yes, real post as soon as I’ve had tea.  I found out yesterday my “vitreous” is trying to part company with my eye and care must be taken to ensure it doesn’t take the retina with it.  It started with “hairs” across my eye, which got much worse by Thurs. night.  So yesterday Dan frogmarched me to the eye doctor, and now I’m not supposed to do anything that raises pressure in the eye.  It should resolve itself in five days, though, because part of what might be causing it is the auto-immune complex (and the fact I tend to take aspirin for the rheumatoid arthritis) being careful a while longer, like a month of two might not be a bad idea.

Anyway, as you can imagine this puts holiday travels in doubt (I was already more than doubtful on price.  Yes, mom says she’ll pay for the tickets, but it seems crazy) reduces what I can do (no bending/exercising heavily/sleeping without elevating my head) and makes me VERY cranky.

So while I go downstairs to get tea, here is the beginning of And Not To Yield a novella with Lucius Keeva which takes place about ten years after AFGM.  It is out in the novella collection 5×5 number 3.  Link at the bottom

And Not To Yield

 

Sarah A. Hoyt

 

The trial starts with a sad-eyed major sitting behind a desk. My desk. My office has been commandeered for my own martial court . We’re almost alone. The new laws require trial by jury – trial by twelve as the people call it – but that rule is for civil trials, not for military trials, where autocratic rule prevails. It’s not as bad as it was under the regime we overthrew, the regime of the Good Men, mind. You won’t get condemned and killed because one man, the sole, undisputed hereditary ruler of the Seacity, is having a bad day. No. Though there are two privates by the door, both fully armed, ready to shoot me down if I should make a run for it, I’m not treated like a criminal.

Instead, I’m presumed innocent until proven guilty, and I stand in my full uniform, with the colonel insignia at shoulder and sleeve, above the patch showing the legendary mountain from which my land gets its name. And I have a defense council, a judge advocate. He’s not a lawyer but an old friend, Royce Allard, looking hot under the collar and a little afraid.

He should be afraid. The procedures might be impromptu, the courtroom an office, but the results of this trial are full and binding and final. I stand accused of going AWOL in time of war, of disobeying the direct orders of my superiors, of unlawful kidnaping and assault and of “conduct unbecoming” which covered everything else of note. I guess military lingo didn’t have a term for going crazy and hurting important people. Then comes the bagful of minor sins, including theft, kidnapping, breaking and entering into a secure facility, menacing, risking important information falling in the hands of the enemy and risking being taken hostage, and a few other things, possibly including, but not limited to, using bad language and being seen in a ragged uniform. All together those are worth little. A few days in jail, a reduction in pay.

It doesn’t matter, because the major charges, if proven, will see me hanged by the neck till dead.

And they will be proven, because, you see, I am guilty.

***

War for me began ten years after revolution had freed Olympus Seacity; five years after I’d been made a colonel and head of our propaganda machine.

It is not war to pilot a desk. It’s not war to think up clever hollo-casts and sneaky methods to subvert the enemy’s carefully planted idea that their regime has given the Earth three hundred years of “peace and security”. It is not war to wait, to hope, to search the casualty lists every night, to pray to a God I wasn’t sure of believing in that his name wouldn’t be among the dead and missing.

Though we were both technically believers in the long forbidden Usaian religion, he was the believer, and I believed in him. And though both of us had been instrumental in the revolution that set the Seacity on the path to restoring the ancient principles of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, the truth was that Nat – Nathaniel Green Remy – fought. I stayed home and planned and waited.

Home had been reduced to a small part of what had been my ancestral palace.

My name is Lucius Dante Maximillian Keeva. I was born to one of the fifty men who between them ruled all the Earth – the Good Men, as they were called — and raised as heir to Olympus Seacity and its subject territories. Or not quite. It turned out the intolerable rule of the man whom I have to call Father had other dimensions, other implications. Some of which led me to solitary confinement for fifteen years and to the raw edge of what I must for lack of a better word call sanity.

Nat – and his family – had hauled me back to life and humanity, and if what it cost me was surrendering power and position I never wanted and helping them install their government based on the principles of the long vanished United States of America, I could do that.

Two rooms in the house and the use of an office were all that would have been truly mine, anyway, had I ascended to rule as the Good Man of Olympus. The absolute ruler of that kind of vast empire is no more free than a slave. Oh, his particular whims and his odder tastes might be catered to, but like a slave he is the prisoner of his role, occupied with it from morning to night, his every minute poured into that role.

So, I wasn’t any the worse off for my change in roles, from would-be heir to the territory to officer in the revolutionary army of Olympus Seacity, which, with its allied territories and seacities comprised what we called The Freedom Army. And other people were happier. Probably. Almost certainly.

Only the Good Men had not let things go lightly. Authority and power are not surrendered willingly, unless it is meaningless and the rule of the Good Men was very meaningful indeed.

For ten years we’d been involved in a war; we’d lost countless people. Young people had been killed in the army, and people of all ages had been killed as the Good Men resorted to terror tactics on the territories; released bio-engineered viruses; destroyed crops and generally made the life of the citizens of Olympus and our allies hell. Against this Nat fought. Against this I composed a war of words, a concatenation of holograms to make it clear to the people under Good Men Rule that we were the better choice; that they should rebel and come to our side.

It worked. Sometimes. Entire cities and seacities had come to our side. But not enough to end the war.

Which meant Nat continued fighting, and I continued to check the casualty and missing list, every night, after a full day of work, and just before turning in.

This brings me to that August night. It was hot, and I was asleep, uncovered, in my too-large bed. My room was at the top of what used to be the palace, and the door opened to a terrace which in turn looked down all the way to the sea. That door was open, to a smell of salt air, and at first I thought what I heard was the cry of seagulls.

***

“How do you plead?” the sad eyed major asks, after the litany of charges against me is read. “On the charges leveled against you?”

“Guil—” I start. And my judge advocate is there. Royce’s hand clasps around my upper arm so hard that he will leave bruises. Which takes effort, since I’m six seven and built like the proverbial brick shithouse, and though Royce is not a small man, his hand doesn’t even fully go around my arm.

“Sir,” he says, and I am not sure if it’s to me or the major. “Sir,” he says, and this time he looks fully at the major. “Sir, Colonel Keeva pleads not guilty due to extenuating circumstances.”

The Major opens his mouth. For a moment I think he’s going to say I’d pleaded guilty, but of course he doesn’t. Instead, he closes his mouth and looks at me, eyebrows raised. Royce’s hand is like an iron band around my forearm. “Yes,” I stammer. “Not guilty due to extenuating circumstances.”

The Major nods. “Very well,” he says. “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?”

“Yes.”

The judge gestures, and one of the privates by the door, a young man who looks too young to grow a beard and too innocent to be in any military, comes forward with a small, dark box, which he opens. Inside the box is my piece of flag. Not the flag of Olympus, which is a blue flag with the representation of the mythical mountain, but THE flag, the one sacred to every Usaian. At some time in the twenty first century, after the fall of the United States of America, and after the founding of the religion based on the founding documents of that lost country, someone had put all the flags they could find that had once flown over American territory before the fall into a climate-controlled room. Since then every member of the religion got a little piece of the flag. Some were inherited within families. Mine had three stars, and a blood stain. The stain had been acquired when a past owner had been martyred to the faith. Another past owner, martyred to the faith, was my only friend growing up, and Nat’s uncle, Benjamin Franklin Remy. Ben has been dead for twenty five years. Which is good because he might very well think I’d disgraced him and our shared scrap of flag.

The young man hands me the flag. I know what to do. Usaians have sealed all their oaths with a kiss on their piece of the flag, that visible symbol of their allegiance, for centuries.

I press my lips against the flag, and then it is set on the desk in front of me. I look at it and mentally I ask Ben’s forgiveness. “I never meant to sully the flag or the Usaians by association,” I tell him. “But you see, I had to save Nat.”

***

The crying of a seagull resolved itself to the scream of a woman, and before I was fully awake, I thought I’d fallen asleep naked with the covers thrown away from me and some cleaning woman must have come in. I reached for the covers, pulled them over me, but the woman was yelling “Luce,” and shaking me.

I opened my eyes. The woman was Martha Remy. She’s a Lieutenant in the propaganda department, and my subordinate. But she’s also somewhere between my best friend and my sister. She is Nat’s twin, though she looks nothing like him. While Nat is tall and lanky and one of those rare brown-eyed pale blonds, Martha is short, softly rounded despite continuous exercise, and has mouse-colored hair. Only her eyes are the same as Nat’s, dark brown and deeply set, giving the impression of unexplored depths and something like an abiding and unshakeable sadness. They were filled with alarm now.

“Luce,” she said. “Did he contact you? Was there a change in plans?”

“Who?” I asked, sleep stupid, my voice slow, my tongue stumbling. And then, as my wits caught up with my wakening, “Nat?”

She nodded. “He’s five hours late,” she said. “I thought he’d come in. I thought he’d be– Did he tell you about changing plans?”

“I didn’t even know he was coming home,” I told her, and noted her surprise. It was hard to explain to her that our relationship didn’t work like that. He did what he had to do, and I was glad to see him when I saw him.

“He was,” she said at last. “He was flying back with … with something. Some mission. I’m not sure what it was, but he was bringing something from Field Marshall Herrera, I think to General Cranston, but he never arrived. They called me to see if I heard from him and I hadn’t, but I thought you might have.”

By then I was fully awake. I said, “If something happened to him, then his chip would have reported his status to headquarters, and he’d be on the casualty list. He wasn’t. I checked before going to bed. Unless his chip was deactivated because he was on some sort of secret run?”

“Not that I know,” she said. “But it wouldn’t show on the casualty list, anyway, not by last night, because I talked to him at twenty three hundred, and he hadn’t left yet.”

“Oh,” I said. “Have you checked now?”

She shook her head. “And it’s weird,” she said, babbling. “Why is Field Marshall Herrerra using Nat as an errand boy to someone of a lower rank, too? It makes no sense at all.”

I rose from the bed, taking care to drag the sheet with me, though as I said, Martha was like a sister to me, and she’d probably not have batted an eye if I’d got out of bed in my birthday suit. But I’d spent fifteen years in a cell, under constant observation by cameras. Had to have been, because all the times I’d tried to commit suicide they’d come and rescued me before I died. Now I relished my modesty, such as it was. I pulled the sheet around my waist, and dragged it behind me, as I got to my desk, and pushed the accustomed buttons to bring up the hologram of the latest casualty list. Early on, these had been compiled by the week, but now every one of our fighting men and women had a chip implanted in their body which transmitted on an encrypted frequency. If the transmission were interrupted, we knew what had happened. Or at least we could presume it, even if we’d been wrong a few times.

Knowing at all times that your relative or loved one wasn’t on that list and therefore must be presumed to be well made the war bearable.

As the hologram of names solidified in the air, in front of me, I closed my eyes and did what passed for prayer for me, “If he’s not on the list, if he’s well—” I didn’t finish the promise because it wasn’t needed. If there was a God he knew what I was willing to do for such a boon. Anything. Anything at all.

I opened my eyes. I paged down through the As and on through the Ps and Qs. To the Rs.

I blinked. There, midair, was the line I’d dreaded seeing for ten years. Gen. Nathaniel Green Remy, Missing, presumed dead.

Five by Five, Target Zone

Table Settings At The Cannibal Feast

So, this week Dan and myself went to the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop. There will be an after-action report on this, as well as my explanation of why I think this is is important, but first I want to talk about what happened elsewhere while I was busy learning about innovative methods of propulsion, theories of terraforming, and other fascinating subjects: that is, I want to talk about the incident that, somehow, in the realm of the internet, made me into a Lesbian, Thai, Social Justice Warrior.

How is that possible? You ask – I don’t know.

The whole thing had the characteristics of a nightmare where you’re walking along a familiar hallway and suddenly you realize that the hallway is not familiar at all, and that your tentacles are dragging along the wall. And then you think “tentacles?” which is when you wake up screaming.

Or perhaps the nightmare where you’re a little kid and go to the kitchen for some water, late at night, and mom is sitting at the table, having a midnight snack of live snakes.

You see, not only am I not a Thai, Lesbian, Social Justice Warrior, but I’d, in fact be more likely to become or pretend to be Thai or Lesbian than a Social Justice Warrior.

None of which saved me from being accused of being this uber-left social justice warrior who has been harassing our cultural adversaries by accusing them of secret hatred and of being insufficiently PC.

I’m still wearing my “Wait, WHAT?” face from when Amanda told me about the comment that said this troll – variously identified as Requires Hate and Winterfox and a two-part name I can’t even spell – must be me, because of the “similarity in our rhetoric.” I haven’t read the comment. It might magically suck me through the internet and I might find myself with my fingers clapped around this creature’s neck strangling him while demanding he explain what in heaven’s name he means. (Though I think I know, and I’ll explain later.)

Anyway, after this Requires Hate creature had abused them and called them names and caused them to grovel, and enlisted the cowed cooperation of Alex-no-binary gender and our old friend Damien so-dense-that-I’m-afraid-a-blackhole-will form around me, people started comparing notes and getting made, because they realized this creature was the same who under the two-name moniker had been sucking up to them. They also claim she had waged whisper campaigns to have them banned from conventions, that she tarnished their reputations with the same whisper campaigns and that she made some people give up writing altogether.

And of course their problem – as explained in this article – is not that she did all those things, but that she used the tactics against the “wrong people” i.e. fellow “social justice warriors”, people who want to eliminate patriarchy and who are sure white privilege is hiding under their bed, ready to pounce out as soon as they relax — People who think that everyone who doesn’t think like them commits thought crime and should be silenced.

That is, they are upset because tactics they sanction and use against people like us are being used against them.

As is said in the comments, in this Mad Genius post by Dave Freer, the revolutionaries are always surprised when the tumbril stops at their door.

It was that comment, and other comments in that post (which you absolutely should read) particularly the ones about how RH/Winterfox caused real suffering and about how some people are suffering from PTSD after being exposed to her tactics, and WHY her tactics worked with them, when they don’t work with us, that got me thinking about this post.

I quote Synova’s comment below on how pernicious accusations of thought-crime are, because she is absolutely right, and because it makes clear why communist societies (starting arguably with the French revolution as a pre-Marxist, but proto-communist attempt) eat themselves. It explains why the SJWs are inevitably headed for this same cannibal feast, why even if Marx’s cooky theories of economics worked – they don’t – the crazy attempt to build a “new man” free from the “capitalist taint” (they can’t – capitalism is inherent in being human. You can make it illegal and drive it underground, or you can allow it to lift all boats, but creating and trading, buying and selling is being human.) with its attendant tendency to criminalize thought crimes would still end in mass graves and mass misery.

Synova:

Some of the comments by people who had been subject to the full treatment just made me want to cry. I didn’t think it was funny because the guilty parties and enablers aren’t the ones who are hurt. Yes, we can scoff at Scalzi when he makes a rational counter-argument and is made, ultimately, to retract and abase himself and agree in public and start proselytizing in public that no… you really can’t trust your own brain and if something seems wrong to you or you feel like defending yourself it is simply proof that you’re guilty.

But there were people who reported rather severe PTSD type reactions to even sitting down at a keyboard to write because they were so terrified of offending… again. Because *rationally* they’d done nothing wrong the first time, but they were forced to an irrational acceptance of their guilt. So now they’ve “accepted their privilege” and “checked it” and confessed and repented (they could come to the Dark Side and be welcomed, but they don’t know that, and have been taught that the Dark Side is evil, and that’s why shunning is so very evil within closed communities… being exiled is a horrific punishment) but since they had NO IDEA how they could have done something wrong in the first place, they also have no idea how to avoid it the next time.

Imagine doing this to a child.

The kid is walking through a room doing nothing much and suddenly POW… and then you tell the kid… well that was YOUR fault. You screwed up. You stepped on that spot on the floor.

So the kid looks at the spot and it looks like every other spot. But the kid is told that, no, the fact that she can’t even SEE the spot is what the problem is. You can’t SEE the spot… that’s why it is YOUR fault. Also, a good child will try to learn. You’re a good child, aren’t you?

So the kid says, yes… it was my fault. I could not SEE the spot. Not seeing the spot makes this my fault.

Afterward, it’s still impossible to see the spots, and walking across the room becomes fraught with danger. Sitting down at the keyboard gives this very “good” person the shakes and panic attacks… where are the spots? She still can’t see the spots but she MUST agree and believe that those spots exist.

I have a LOT of sympathy for those who were hurt, just like I have sympathy for any abused person.

For reasons and in circumstances I’m not going to get into here, I often found myself EXACTLY in the position of that child, growing up. It’s crazy making and it took me years (20 and a good marriage) to recover from it.

Which is why it’s a particularly evil thing to do to a single person.

But in a greater sense, it is literally what certain kinds of revolutionary doctrines, be they religious or political can do to a human being.

Note, these are usually doctrines (again, religious or political) that not only think they can remake humans, but think they can remake them into flawless creatures. I was going to say they can come from the right or the left, but only if you accept that all religious extremism is from the right, which I don’t think makes much sense.

There is a certain tendency in conservative/libertarian circles (if that’s what we’re calling “right” this week) to assume that humans come with some natural flaws, one of them being a thirst for power, another being a need for recognition. There is also an understanding that life isn’t fair.

It is only certain feverish religious states (well, the sects call themselves Christian, I have issues with them, and no, I’m not talking about any recognizable mainstream Christian sects, though there were certainly some interesting heresies in that direction in past centuries) that partake the illusions of the left (itself a fevered religion, albeit a godless one) that you can infinitely remake humans and use that change to create a paradise.

Here is the thing: every society has rules by which its members are judged. Some are sensible rules and we can applaud them. Some are batsh*t insane rules, and we’re jaw-dropped about them. And some are indecipherable to our current mentality.

Some of the things that bring condemnation on characters in Jane Austen’s novels, for instance, I only understand are “bad” because I studied the period. I’m sure blundering into it, I’d make a million gaffes. I find the morality police that whips the ankles of women who show them in Saudi-Arabia repulsive, but it is a rule and the women know about it. I understand rules about things like not eating from other people’s plates, not insulting strangers, etc.

BUT and this is very important, the point is not that those rules are fair. The point is that if you grow up in those societies, you have a reasonable expectation of knowing WHAT the rules are. I.e. if I’m strolling in a mini-skirt in a Saudi Arabian souk and get whipped, it shouldn’t come as a surprise. It can come as an outrage, but not a surprise.

Revolutions like the US, which changed governance but didn’t presume to change the way people worked, in their minds and hearts, don’t turn into cannibal feasts. OTOH revolutions like the French, where people descended/aspired to changing the names of the weekdays and the months, in order to construct a completely different humanity, inevitably end up in a pile of blood-soaked corpses.

So do revolutions like the Russian and the Chinese, and others.

The difference is this: these revolutions make functioning as a normal human a crime. This requires changing your very thoughts and the way you process reality. And they presume to divine from your smallest actions, your most casual lapses, that you have commited a thought-crime.

This, of course, requires special people who can look into the actions and every day assumptions of others and tell them where they went wrong.

The process is bad enough when done by a minister or another nominally trained person. (I am not talking here of ministers in normal denominations, who are usually trained and don’t want to remake humanity, just get it to behave a little better.) In extreme cases, it creates Jim Jones. It is nightmarish when done by the left, which means it is done by people given power and authority to do this by the grace of totally arbitrary characteristics: where they were born/when/what pigmentation their skin has/what happens to be between their legs/whom they like to sleep with. This is not an exhaustive list, but it should give you an idea that none of these attributes is magical, and none of them should confer the authority to discern and judge the secrets of other’s hearts.

But the SJWs believe it does. They believe someone who is born with more victim cards, even if the person was in fact born very wealthy and never experienced a day’s hardship, immediately can judge them and tell them when they’re exhibiting “privilege” which is a taint that attaches to other seemingly arbitrary characteristics, no matter how poor or downtrodden people born with them are.

This sets them up to be abused in exactly the way that Synova describes. Worse, it sets them up to join the mob and wail for the blood of innocent people in whom one of these “anointed ones” discerned guilt. Not to do so, might mean they were tainted with the guilt themselves, after all.

By this process, they saddle themselves with psychopaths as leaders (yeah, some of the anointed ones are merely true believers, but that kind of power inevitably attracts psychopaths and sadists) and make any organization, place, country or government they take over into hell on Earth, instead of the utopia they imagine.

The state of irrationality is demonstrated by the commenter who thought I was RH because of our “similar rhetoric.” There are in fact not even mild similarities between an extreme leftist and myself. BUT both of us made him feel pain. So, therefore we are similar and possibly the same.

That means the commenter had the ability to think/react/avoid pain of a nematode, if that high.

I would enjoin those people caught in the vortex of accusation/appeasement/abasement to take a good look at what they’re doing.

A society where the rules have to be divined by special individuals (no? Would any rational human being think of “lady” as an insult, till the SJWs declared it so?) is not conducive to liberty. It’s not conducive to kindness. It’s damaging to the ability to think.

In the end it makes you animals, joining a mob to avoid being killed.

I suggest if you are caught in it, or suspect you might be, that you re-read Animal Farm. And then evaluate the goals of your movement. You can demand that women be given opportunities in business and art. You can’t get into anyone’s heads and demand that they never have a bad thought.

You can establish that pinching a woman’s butt against her will is bad. You can’t establish that men shouldn’t be allowed to look at naked women or wear art showing a naked woman. And you have to decide whether female nudity is empowering or demeaning, btw.

The rules need to be clear and well established. They can be changed, but if they are, they need to be proclaimed so everyone in the society/group/cult knows them.

And no one should be condemned by inference/whispers/accusation without a fair chance to defend him/her/dragon self and confront his/her/gerbil’s accusers.

That is how you stop cannibal feasts. You start by admitting humans aren’t infinitely perfectible, and that even the “anointed ones” can have flaws like a search for power.

The alternative is that you tuck your napkin under your chin and dig in.

Forever.

There Should Have Been A Time For Such A Word

This a post I did not want to write.

Some of you have heard about our friend Alan Lickiss, and in fact, he has commented in this blog, now and then, though not (I think) much in the last year.

We first met Alan and his wife Becky when we moved to Colorado Springs. Our older son was a toddler, and we knew no one in town, but one day Dan came home late because he’d been talking to someone who “reads science fiction” and “his wife wants to be a writer.”

To you kids, grown in the age of the internet this might seem like a trivial thing on which to build a friendship, but at the time they were the first couple we ran into where both read science fiction and both were interested in writing. In fact, before that, I’d only met one person who wrote at all, my friend Charles, who mostly writes horror.

A few days later, and I no longer remember the circumstances precisely, we picked Alan up somewhere because he had some sort of car trouble. I don’t remember who else was with us at the time, I just remember the car was very full, I was in the back seat, and Alan squeezed in the back next to me and Robert saying – in reference to the very tight space – “I’m sorry, we’re going to have to be very good friends.”

Over the next few years, we became very good friends. In fact, our kids grew up together like cousins in an extended family.

After the four of us got kicked out the city’s writing group, for chewing gum in church… I mean, for writing science fiction and fantasy, which puzzled the rest of the group, we formed our own writers’ group, which went on to meet over the next ten (?) years.

Alan was the first in our group to achieve professional publication, selling a story to Analog.

The four of us learned about writing conferences and sci fi cons together, and for many years, travel plans were made across the two houses, rides to the airport shared, and everything done more or less in a group.

Alan climbed pikes peak shortly after his son Jake (who is more or less the same age as my younger son) was born. He trained over a very long time, and then scared us all, who were sure he wouldn’t make it, but he did.

Becky and I sold books at the same time (a few months apart) to the same editor, which gave us another bond and source of gossip.

When 9/11 happened, and Dan was stranded in Virginia, Alan was the person who offered to drive with me to pick him up. And by “drive with me” I mean that he, who knew that I am very scared of driving, particularly highways, offered to drive the whole way. He said he liked driving anyway. We planned to rendez vous with Dan halfway across Kansas.

Now, Alan was one of the nicest people you’ll ever want to meet, but he had a temper. Usually you only knew this if you saw him behind the wheel, where he had trouble suffering fools gladly.

Since he was also a devout Mormon and felt really bad when he swore, on that trip to Kansas, after the first eruption, we settled on a division of labor. When someone cut in front of us, instead of swearing, he pointed at me, and I’d let loose with inventive forms of swearing. So, halfway there, I was hard pressed to come up with new swearing to make him laugh.

Other moments of our friendship come to mind, like the day his family and a couple other friends came to our house for thanksgiving. It was one of those days where everything that can go wrong does, plus a few other things you’d never think would go wrong. It started with our pipes bursting under the sink, then the heat went out. There was at least one other thing there, but I can’t remember what. So we packed the kids under a blanket in front of the tv with cartoons playing, and the adults went up to my office (highest room in the house) with a heater, and sat around, and told stories, and it was a good thanksgiving after all.

I think one of the last times we saw Alan before he got ill, we were gardening on the front yard when he and Becky came by and took us out to get ice-cream.

Shortly after that, we tried to start a writers’ group, but it sort of died in the bud, partly because Alan was unemployed and concentrating so hard on getting another job.

Concentrating so hard that he ignored his symptoms for too long. If I had a time machine…

We were in north Carolina, visiting our older son who was there on an internship, when we got word that Alan had collapsed – he was starving to death, due to a stomach cancer. It was already too advanced for a surgical solution.

For a while a new form of chemo helped him get somewhat better, and then stabilized him, with very few side effects. We had hopes that it would eventually, slowly, cure him But after a while it stopped working, and the treatments they tried next had limited effectiveness and sometimes made him worse.

We saw him dwindle into a shadow and age prematurely.

In the last year, when he as hospitalized and Dan and I went to visit, when everyone expected him to die over the next couple of days, he told us the next time he saw us, he’d be taking us out for ice-cream, because in heaven carbohydrates wouldn’t matter.

When we left on our trip to the Tennessee Valley Interstellar Workshop on Saturday morning, we knew he was in the hospital and that the prognosis was grim. But he’d fought death off so often, we thought he could keep doing it.

When we came back from dinner with friends on Saturday, we had a phone call from our son, telling us Alan had died.

I, who am not very sure of anything after death, feel an unshakable certainty that he’s not wholly destroyed, and that we’ll see him again – and perhaps even will hold him to his promise of buying us ice cream.

The thing is, for him, the time will pass very quickly and, as interested as he always was in new experiences, like climbing mountain peaks or meeting all his favorite writers at conventions, and trying all the new electronics, he’ll be having fun.

It is us who are left here who will miss him, and suddenly come up against his absence like someone who takes a step in he dark and doesn’t find ground under his foot. It is us who will catch ourselves looking for him at a con, or thinking “we must call Alan and ask him if he wants to go see this movie” or “I wonder what Alan will think of this” and realize he’s not around anymore, and fall back, and say “oh” and feel the hole left in our lives by his departure.

I realized four years ago when he was diagnosed that I was not ready to have an Alan-shaped hole in my life. Turns out I’m still not ready.  I keep looking at the rose over at sff.net and feeling like I fell down the rabbit hole.  Alan can’t be dead.  A world without him makes no sense.

We can’t all have it our way, and sometimes ready or not we have to face absence and loss.  Or at least I do.

For him, as I said, it might be very quick till he’s greeting us again and showing us all the neat stuff he’s figured out since he’s been there.

For us there will be a long time of missing him.

Farewell my friend – may the journey be interesting, may you meet with kindness and love, and may we meet again in a better place.