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The Beatings Will Continue

Yesterday I was reading an economist’s blog, when a millennial posted something that made my jaw drop.

I’ll say first that not all millennials are like this and not many (I hope) are this rock bottom stupid and twisted. I have to say that, because otherwise my sons – and Foxfier – will kill me in an unpleasant way. Also, because it’s true. Just because you were born around the same time as someone else, it doesn’t mean you’re just like them. That fallacy is one of the things making public schools hellish. People are not widgets, not even people with the same birth year.

I wouldn’t mention his generational status, except that it’s a matter of “Is this what they’re learning?” and as such is important.

So, I was reading this blog about how people with advanced degrees still can’t find jobs. So far, so good, right?

And then this kid comes on, informs everyone he has an MBA (An MBA!) and that until his phone starts ringing off the hook with job offers, he’s going to take every opportunity possible to vote for higher taxes. It’s not that he believes it will do him personally any good, but if he’s going to die a pauper, then how dare we have any savings, and besides, we’re all h8ers anyway.

I thought he had to be a mobi, but there was no break in his stand, no “haha, fooled you” and slowly, with growing horror, I realized he was saying this seriously.

And I was aghast.

My mind boggles that someone could go through school for a graduate degree and be ignorant of where jobs come from. I mean, everyone by ten is informed of where babies come from, but where jobs come from seemed to be a total mystery to this adult male.

How is this even possible?

And then I realized it’s possible because it’s what our media and our stories and even our text books (in the one economics course younger son took, it was all about social and economic justice, as though, you know, jobs and production were a matter of distributing around so many grams of justice here and there, and the economy were a closed pie) talk about jobs as though they were these things that are dispensed by government and which the wealthy can somehow hoard all to themselves.

Think about it. We talk about job creation as though it were a mysterious thing, somehow connected to the government (which it is.) He probably got the (incorrect) hagiography of FDR in school too, and how good it was for the nation for him to hire people to dig pointless holes.

Add to this what I call the “school mentality” – which is something afflicting writers too, particularly now with indie – in which you’re trained to do a certain number of things, and if you do them well, then you get a reward. Everyone is trained to this at the end of twelve years, much less twenty or however many it took him to get an MBA.

He did everything right. He turned in homework, took tests, got his sheepskin. And yet, the expected reward of a good paying job hasn’t materialized.

Is it any wonder he’s mad at everyone and, in a classical case of projection, thinks everyone are h8ers for ignoring his plight?

Why isn’t the president creating jobs for MBAs, filling pointless papers or something? How can the rest of us, middle aged people, smug in our jobs and in our savings (ah, I wish) not realize he is drowning. Where is our compassion? Why isn’t the country as a whole not demanding that the government do something for our young and unemployed?

The idea of an economy as a natural system, with natural laws, which the government can’t change but only distort would probably be totally alien to him, and he’d accuse us of making up stuff to justify not giving him a good paying job. He can’t understand that the government can no more legislate the economy than it can legislate rain. You can send all the water from Colorado to California (where it does no good, because farmers aren’t allowed to irrigate because delta smelt because with water as with money, the more the government takes the more it pisses away.) but you can’t make rain fall in California, rather than in Colorado.

He certainly can’t understand that by voting higher taxes for people who still have jobs, he’s taking away the excess money of the economy, the money that could be spent on things other than survival and perhaps at some point be saved enough that the person doing the saving can start a new business or invest in a promising one that will create jobs.

In a way the young know-nothing is right. We have failed him. We have failed him as a society, in what we’ve taught him and what we’ve failed to teach him.

Teach children that economics is a finite pie; that wealth can’t be created, it can only be redistributed; that all change and goodness flows from bureaucrats who can only be pressured by righteous activists, and you’ve created the perfect economic lemming who will vote for rope to hang himself and others with.

Make him believe that envy is a virtue and that the fact that he has less than others gives him the right to punish others (if I had a dime for every time I heard “Comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” as mission statements for everything from politicians to economists in my sons’ textbooks, I’d BE one of the superwealthy.) What you have is a willing puppet of the superwealthy and their politicians, the people who are rigging society with regulations so restrictive that only huge corporations with captive lawyers can compete, and small business, small entrepreneurs need not apply.

Note too that in all this it never occurred to this young man that he could start his own business. That is probably, of course, because “what kind of business can he start that will employ an MBA?”

My sons, trained in STEM are starting businesses while in school. Multiple ones. Writing and art and music and working towards a rapid-prototyping business, and trying to think up other small streams of income. No, it’s not what they want to do for life. It’s what they want to do to pay for school. And if a job doesn’t come calling, they try to create one.

I don’t know how common that spirit is, but if it exists at all, it goes against everything the kids are being taught in school.

What they’re being taught is so profoundly stupid that it takes years of education to make rational people believe it. And it explains many things, but mostly it explains the trouble we’re in.

It reminds me of when Marshall was in the abusive middle school and they were giving him detention for stupid things (like he was supposed to get a paper signed by the teachers at the end of the class, to say he’d behaved. He’d never actually MISSbehaved, but instead of interpreting his asking for clarification as “he’s having trouble hearing” (which he was) they interpreted it as his being rebellious and mouthy. The teachers, who were mostly the parents of the girls who were harassing him with spurious accusations found excuses to delay signing the paper. And then the kid would get detention for being late to the next class. And because he was getting detentions, he was obviously bad and needed more signed papers/supervision) I once found myself on the phone with a chirpy secretary informing me that they were giving him yet another detention. I said “At this point, what good do you even think you’re doing? This sounds like ‘the beatings will continue till morale improves’” To which she chirpily and gratifiedly answered, “Precisely.”

This is when I called my husband and asked him “Is there any reason I shouldn’t go to the school and create the sort of scene in which the news say ‘three heads were found in the toilet and we’re still looking for the others?’” (Hey, look, I’m a Latin woman and they were messing with my younger son. I was being good even asking.)

Dan, who is from New England and a Mathematician, just said, “Let me deal with it.” I am given to understand he called them and was polite at them, which I’m also given to understand, coming from a New Englander is WAY more painful than heads in toilets. All he says is he informed him that they were insane and that the detentions stopped now. As in, right that minute. And they did.

Looking at the mess of what we’ve failed to teach our newly minted MBAs, all I can say is that we need to be polite at them as soon as possible. I suggest the following “No, jobs don’t come from government. No, if you take everyone’s money away you will never have a job. No, taxing others as a form of punishment is not sane, and not only doesn’t help you, but it materially hurts you in the long run. No, you are not entitled to a job because you have a sheepskin. No, your phone isn’t going to ring off the hook, because our president has your understanding of economics and is making it impossible for anyone to accumulate enough capital to create jobs. He’s also chasing jobs off shore with punitive taxation. No, this doesn’t’ mean anyone hates you. No one owes you anything. Want a job? Make it.”

We have to be polite, and firm, and speak in small words. We also need to write this in news, in stories, in blogs. We need to shout it from the rooftops and not be dismayed.

Because what they’re being taught in the schools financed by our taxes (and even some private ones) is a total distortion of reality.

And if we don’t stop this crazy train now, this is all going to end up with everyone starving. And heads in toilets.

 

ADDENDUM: If you’re interested, I started a “how to write a novel” workshop over at MGC, and I’m also guesting at Jagi Lamplighter’s blog for her Superversive feature.

 

 

Reflections

So my eyes on Twitter who secretly hates me and wants me to go rabid and start biting the cats or something, has been reporting on the very deep musings of one of the SFWA SJWs. Normally, you know, I read these and shrug, or rolls my eyes so much they’re in risk of falling out and becoming cat toys. But this time, this time the random musings of this special (unfortunately, Alas, not wall) flower struck me as odder than normal and as betraying strange assumptions about the world.

I’m not going to name her, not because I’m afraid she’ll troll this blog – I’m fairly sure she does, at least intermittently and that it fuels her mini-rages – but because there is something vaguely indecent in making fun of the mentally ill.

In the same way we’ll sort of gloss over her latest reported eructation which is that many people need to sit down, shut up and listen. THAT is just because this young (waggles hand) woman is not just privileged, she is one of the very privileged who have never had to face any hardship from birth and never had to work for a living. Which has allowed her to preserve the unconscious egotism of the three year old stomping her foot and wishing the adults would just shut up and listen!

That’s not interesting. It is chortle worthy in an adult woman fast approaching what at any other time and place would be considered middle age, but not interesting.

It just makes me roll my eyes again, and think if we really banned bossy (not the word but the stupid order-giving behavior of women (or men, for that matter) without the life experience or authority to run their own kitchen, this woman would go around with duct tape across her mouth, or possibly her fingers.

And while that image is funny, it’s definitely mean.

So, we’ll avert our eyes from it and go into her other… uh… insights.

Apparently, our hero (well, she would object to being called heroine, because the same vagina she glories in cannot be acknowledged when referring to anything she does, because apparently she’s so convinced a vagina is a handicap that any terms implying one has one – heroine, actress, lady – is immediately an insult) has been to a science fiction convention, (and how thrilling this must have been for the other people) and would like to inform the world that there are a lot of old men in science fiction who mistakenly think they are relevant to science fiction.

This was the pronouncement that made my jaw drop and made me stare at the screen.

We’ll start at the end, shall we? What the heck is “relevant to science fiction?” No, I’m absolutely dead serious.

Sure I can tell you, looking back at the history of science fiction that some writers and some editors were very relevant to the history of science fiction. The field would be completely different without say Campbell, Hugo Gernsback, Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov or Bradbury.

There are two reasons these people were so influential and we know they were influential. The first one is that the distribution went through a bottle neck. Not a huge one. There were a lot of magazines publishing stories, but even so, if you wanted to publish a science fiction short story, you had to go through the magazines.

And the second is that these people hit a current of work that was highly popular and resonated with the mass of people in their time. These people pulled readers into science fiction and made them dream. This meant a lot of the kids reading those magazines grew up wanting to write like these men.

And that’s what made them “relevant” and now part of the “relevant history.”

It wasn’t some proclamation from on high, or some pronouncement from above, but the simple fact they were very popular.

So… our SJW is doing what to be very popular and “relevant” to the field? Oh, yeah. Screaming we must be inclusive and have more minorities and women. And that science fiction serves the ends of “social justice.”

Puts hand to forehead.

Look, I’m not saying there are no women or minorities who read and write. I’m not stupid. In fact there are many more than those paraded as tokens at the awards. And there have always been.

They are a minority in science fiction – the minorities, not the women, who despite being considered a minority are actually a majority, in science fiction as in the rest of things – because they are a minority in the population. But that’s all right because a field that enjoys reading about purple tentacle aliens won’t even register someone who tans a little better as a character, and many of the white, male (and female) authors write minorities without making a big deal about it.

The Social Justice (a compound name that denies both the parts) otoh is a problem, because even at its best, where it reflects an actual problem in or current society it is – at the very best – reflecting a problem in our society right now and projecting it to the future.

Yes, I know. All literature classes in college – I have a degree in the stuff, okay? – told you that science fiction is only permissible because “it’s a disguised critique of today’s society.” They were wrong, okay? Oh, sure, the masters, like Heinlein, included aspects of today’s society in their books. They were after all writing for today’s people. But – and this will be really hard for the SJWs to understand – people don’t read fiction to reflect on the wrongs of society or the very deep problems of our day.

People read fiction – except that “literary” fiction that is read to show your friends how smart you are. That can be as boring as you wish – to be entertained. Most of them know the problems in society today, and if all you’re doing is moaning about how bad things are, the book is going to go against the wall and they won’t buy others from you.

Can you slip a new insight into their minds, while entertaining them? Sure. Can you slip one in while berating them? Only if they have some sort of psychological problem.

Yes, sure, you can right now write or edit a book that hits all the Social Justice Whiners’ points, and which will win all the awards. But what portion of the reading public – not just the public who attends conventions – will remember this book in ten years? In what way is that book relevant for science fiction, except to make people write more books like that as bait for increasingly irrelevant (if not counterproductive, sales wise) awards?

And that’s the other important side of it. “The reading public who attends conventions” is probably what 1/100th the people who read, even the people who read science fiction and fantasy.

I was recently advising a friend on what to do with his first novel, and had to tell him that he had to make a choice depending on what he wanted. He could go for a long wait, a small advance and some name recognition at conventions (I don’t think he’d get high name recognition, at least with only one book, but I could, of course, be wrong) or he could go with putting it on line, making the equivalent of an advance in the next three months and being an absolutely unknown at conventions.

I don’t remember it if was Hugh Howey (but I think so) who, having sold a bazillion (give or take) books was a total unknown at a con.

So our hero has some issues when she says that these “old men” are totally irrelevant to science fiction.

First I’m going to assume these “old men” are men who are about ten years older than our brave SJW, since that’s what she was calling “old” before. Oh, older than that too, but starting at about that point. So they’re middle aged and came in when the system was far more concentrated and there was no competition from indie.

That means they’re more likely to be known with the public at large than just about anyone who has published/will publish in recent times. Because it’s a matter of market share, see? These men’s books were in grocery stores, or at least in bookstores back in the times of yore when people actually went to bookstores.

Yes, sure, in the history of sf written by SJWs these men will be ignored. Okay. But who will even read those histories, except college professors who were always more than a little sneering towards our field? And who cares what they think?

Which brings me to the next point – and a point that’s relevant not just to science fiction – (yes, which is why I’m burying it this late in the post. Deal. I haven’t had caffeine): Who in heck goes through life aiming to be “relevant” to something or other? By which I assume it’s meant making an impact in something or other that makes them part of the history of the field?

“Well Sarah, do you want to be irrelevant?”

Uh. To be blunt and honest, there are things I’d like to change and habits of thinking I’d like to illuminate/examine. As for “relevance”? It’s neither here nor there to me.

I have published 23 books. I have two more under contract, and a bunch more started/almost finished. Will I be relevant to the field? Will anyone remember me two minutes after I’m dead?

Pardon me if I don’t give a good goddamn about it.

Oh, sure, assuming there is an afterlife where one still takes an interest in what goes on on Earth, it might be a case of warm fuzzies to have fans acclaim me after my death. Or perhaps it will be more a case of embarrassment, you know, like finding out your kindergarten class still reads your essay on how much you love your dog every year thirty years later.

I can’t even imagine a mind set in which that matters. I want to write now; I want to be read and making a living from it now; and I want to know that I did what John Wright mentioned in an essay recently “my book came to someone on her darkest day, and made that day better.” I want to do that because I have had books do that for me. I’ve had books that if they didn’t save my life saved my sanity that day or week or month. They provided me a place to hide when reality was unbearable and allowed me to regain my balance.

That I’d like to do – as a stretch goal. The first goal is making a living – That is a worthy endeavor. But being “relevant” and having college professors make appreciative noises over my books? (Shrug.) As if I could care.

And it hit me that the problem with these exquisitely indoctrinated flowers of social justice is that they never think. They were taught in school that history moves in one direction and that you have to be “on the right side of history” and they believe it as piously as any religiously indoctrinated group.

They think that their “progressive” beliefs will be validated and applauded in the future. (In this they ignore history, like the history of the USSR or most Eastern Europe or for that matter, even China.) They think if they carry the ball of Marxism just a little further and score a touchdown, or even just repeat previously won goals, they will be acclaimed by future generations, world without end.

It never occurs to them that the future – if there is to be one – might take a sharp turn towards more individual freedom and get rid of the unproductive and deadly miasmas of Marxism. It never occurs to them the future might point and laugh at their oeuvre or, more likely, considering most of them aren’t read now, completely ignore them.

They live their lives posing for the future, like supermodels pouting for a camera that might be there.

But what they’re actually posing for is a mirror, and it’s as shallow and self-obsessed as they are.

It never occurs to them that Shakespeare – to name someone who is remembered and who had an influence in the world outside literary criticism – didn’t go through life trying to strike “progressive” poses so the future would admire him, and didn’t write so that he’d have an influence. They never think that he wrote because “Susannah needs shoes. And Nan has been nagging again about living next door to my parents, and when can we build the house I promised her when I came to London?”

And they never, ever, ever, think that “relevant” is the verdict of history written by people yet unborn, in a future that we (despite our profession) really cannot predict.

This is because none of them has ever had to live in real life. All they know about life, all they know about relevancy comes from books, movies and college classes.

So in the end, while I won’t tell them to sit down and shut up, mostly because when they don’t they are so dang entertaining, it never occurs to them that it is they, themselves, who are irrelevant or that their work will never give a moment of real pleasure or amusement to someone in a really bad place.

Go forth, my friends and labor to entertain, to amuse and to make a living. And let us be cheerfully irrelevant to a history that might or might not justify us.

We’re alive now. That is what matters. Better to labor and live and be forgotten than to have never lived except in dreams of honors to come.

Now is not the time to panic – Amanda Green

*This is Sarah, with a minor addendum that occurred to me while reading the post below: Amanda is substantially right.  All my biologist contacts, including my son, say that not only are the chances of Ebola becoming epidemic here very low but the chances of its mortality being as high here as it is in Africa are small.  This makes sense if you know the conditions in Africa.  Frankly I’m more worried about its becoming epidemic and lethal in the Iberian Peninsula because of the culture and the state of the (socialized for decades) medical field there. And if you’re from Mars and reading this: I’m worried about that because all my blood relations except my sons, are in Portugal. (Not because of all the places in the world I think Iberia is the most unorganized.

I know my biologist friends are right.  But I also know panic is difficult to keep down.  However, I’ve been analyzing it, because thinking about why you feel things is the duty of anyone who would write about characters in perilous situations.

It’s not the virus. My son who volunteers at the hospital says they have at least two “What in heck is that?” viruses which are more virulent than this and most they never discover what they are (we are a military town, which contributes to that.)

No.  What is driving people nuts is this: we don’t trust our official representatives and newspeople at all. At every level, from our elected “representatives” from the President on down, and even including journalists, they have lied to us.  Fast and furious, Summer of Recovery, Benghazi, the IRS, You can keep your doctor.  Everything they say is a lie, including “the” and “and.”

So when we see this dog and pony show with ebola, we who have been in the “get ready to duck and cover, because we can’t trust these b*stards” for so long, feel the need to go all telecommuting, or to hide, or to finally activate all our protective measures.  Because we don’t trust the people who are telling us all is safe.

As I told my son “I thought I was perfectly safe till Obama assured us we were. As far as I can tell every word out of his mouth is a lie.

And even if you know enough about biology to feel safe, looking at this huge production around ebola and how the news — hello, jornolist! — are all on it, and we think of Obama’s charming habit of hiding a scandal with a scandal.  Of course we wonder “What are they hiding with this?  And how dangerous is THAT?  Duck and cover, duck and cover!”  And we think lovingly of canned beans and sheltering in place.

To be fair I don’t think what they’re hiding is entovirus.  That’s just another media circus warming up.  The actual death rate is not that bad.  We’ve had flu in this city that had more people dying very quickly.  And yes, the border-breakers of summer are probably going to bring disease/have brought disease into the country, but it will be diseases we know how to fix, just had forgotten here for a century or so. And I expect the flu epidemic to be hellish because of the mutational petri-dish of the camps.  I’m fairly sure what government and media (but I repeat myself) are hiding under the “disease” newscycle is the shocking state of foreign affairs and that we’ll wake up from the Ebola news cycle when something detonates in one of our cities, or the number of piecemeal beheadings becomes such they have to go beyond “workplace violence” as an explanation.  And then, to be fair, a lot of us are going to feel like vomiting.

I’m not worried about Ebola, but about “When the worst happens.” And the inability to trust anything we see or hear from officialdom when we need absolutely clear instructions/news.

Further this news obsession is damaging us in the eyes of our enemies as the giant that can’t handle a case of illness safely; as the country of hysterics. It makes our getting hit more likely.  And of course, it makes life in Dallas very difficult, as Amanda says below.*

Now is not the time to panic – Amanda Green

Once again, Dallas finds itself in the news. It’s not a place the city particularly relishes. I know, I know. You find that hard to believe. After all, Dallas is home of the Cowboys AKA “America’s Team.” It has had a TV show – twice – named after it. So how can I say the city doesn’t really want to be in the limelight?

It’s simple, really. As someone who has spent the majority of her life in the DFW area, I’ve had to live with the infamy of being from this part of the state. For years – many years, in fact – we had to live with the rest of the country looking down its nose at us because this was where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated. Camelot came to an end in our city and so we were to blame.

Now, we are back in the news again after becoming the place where the US recorded its first Ebola death and, not unexpectedly, the first case of Ebola contracted on US soil. And boy, are we in the news. For two weeks, local, national and international media has been flooding Dallas in search of information about how Ebola came to our city, how officials responded to it and now what happened to cause the second case.

From the beginning, when we first learned Thomas Eric Duncan, who arrived in Dallas via Brussels and Washing Dulles, had been placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian of Dallas, there have been questions that needed to be answered. These questions ranged for wondering how he had managed to leave Liberia after being exposed to Ebola to how he had been seen in Presbyterian’s Emergency Room and released with only antibiotics two days before he was brought back to the hospital via ambulance. Then there were questions about how the authorities reacted to the news of an Ebola diagnosis and how those who had come into contact with Duncan were treated.

As Jacquielynn Floyd noted in her column for the Dallas Morning News, what is happening now is “the occasion for a critical test of the relationship between citizens — us — and our political and medical authorities. Either we believe in truth and transparency, or we don’t.” I’d add one more thing, it is a critical test to show whether or not our political leaders have any common sense and recognize that their actions have consequences. In at least one situation, the answer is a resounding “NO!”.

On the whole, I have to give it to the Dallas political leaders, both on the city and county level. They reacted quickly and didn’t hesitate to call in help from the state and from the CDC. The leadership was faced with a situation that no other city in the country had been and, while there might have been some fumbling along the way, they have done a pretty darned good job of handling the situation.

The fumbles? The first was in allowing Duncan’s family freedom to leave the apartment after his diagnosis. Because of that, three local schools had students who had been in contact with Duncan attend classes. Fortunately, so far at least, none of those students have shown any symptoms of Ebola. However, that oversight caused concern among parents and cost those schools money – money to make sure any areas where the students might have been were cleaned and money lost when parents chose not to send their children to school out of an over-abundance of caution.

The second was in not moving Duncan’s family sooner. We haven’t been made privy to all that went on in trying to find someplace that was isolated and yet comfortable, so we don’t know why it took so long. However, the appearance made the city look bad, especially when Duncan’s family and friends started talking to the media about how the family was still living with the dirty sheets, etc., Duncan had been on before being transported to Presbyterian via ambulance.

The third, and this is where a government official didn’t think about the consequences of his actions, centers around Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve never been a big fan of his. But his actions in going in and out of the apartment to meet with Duncan’s family and then in driving them to the home where they were being relocated to without suiting up, wearing mask and gloves, etc., showed a lack of foresight. Not because he might become infected. The chances of that happening are practically nil because none of the family was symptomatic at the time. No, it showed a lack of foresight because he didn’t consider the impact his actions would have on others. His children went to school after their father’s actions. That concerned parents and took away school resources as they had to issue reassurances to those parents and their children. Again, money was lost due to children being held out of school. Beyond that, his actions downplayed the importance of being cautious. It looked like grandstanding, whether it was or not.

But this second case of Ebola raises a number of questions, not only about how Patient One, a nurse who treated Duncan after his admission to Presbyterian, contracted the disease but also about how non-transparent Presby has been with the public. Then there is the question of whether or not hospitals that don’t deal on a daily basis with infectious diseases are capable of treating Ebola or similar diseases.

With regard to the latter, the fact that a breach of protocol of some sort leading to the nurse contracting Ebola has been used by some to point out that most hospitals simply aren’t prepared for situations like the one Dallas now faces. Dr. Richard Besser, medical correspondent for ABC and formerly with the CDC, said in an interview with WFAA yesterday that he thinks any Ebola patient needs to be transferred to one of several hospitals, like Emory, that are specifically equipped to deal with the disease. Part of me agrees with him because these hospitals have staffs that are drilled on a regular basis to handle the suiting up and removal of all protective gear as well as patient treatment. But part of me also recognizes that the logistics of moving patients to these hospitals would be a night, especially if more cases crop up in the States.

What I think we need to be focusing on instead is setting up one or two hospitals per region where suspected cases would be brought. These hospitals would have staffs trained and drilled in the proper procedures. These drills and training exercises would become part of their accreditation process just like having proper ER or medical record protocols. It would take time, but let’s face it. The world is a much smaller place than it used to be and there is no way to keep Ebola or any other disease out.

All that said, Presby has done well in handling things but there have been some major fumbles along the way as well. The administration still has not fully explained why Duncan was allowed to leave the ER when he first presented himself there. There has been a song and dance about problems with the electronic records to Duncan not telling them he’d been in contact with someone who had Ebola to who know what all. The administrators do owe Duncan’s family and Dallas in general an explanation on how the system broke down.

But that isn’t the only thing Presby owes us an explanation on. When the second case was announced yesterday, we suddenly learned that the Presby employees who had been in contact with Duncan had not been included in the number of people being tracked or monitored by the County Health Department. Instead, Presby was monitoring its own people. In the case of Patient One, she had been identified by Presbyterian as low risk.

Low risk. A nurse who, from what we are learning, had extensive contact with Duncan.

Low risk from the hospital’s point of view, presumably, because she had been suited up whenever with him.

Low risk so she was self-monitoring and calling in to Presby twice a day to tell them what her temperature was. Fortunately, she was doing as asked and she caught the spike in her temperature. She did what she’d been told to by Presby. She contacted them and was told to come in. So she climbed into her car and drove in. Which brings up a whole new set of questions about why Presby employees were – apparently – given a different set of protocol to follow than County Health had been regarding the patients they are monitoring. Those patients, if becoming symptomatic, are to be brought to Presby via ambulance. So why the difference for Presby patients?

But here is the question that is bothering many people in the DFW area: why were we not told about the number of Presbyterian employees being monitored? We have been told from the beginning of the 48 or so people County Health is monitoring. Of those, approximately 10 are being closely watched until the 21 day incubation period expires.

But we weren’t told about the approximately 40 Presbyterian employees that are being monitored by the hospital. We didn’t know about them until yesterday morning. We don’t know if they have been allowed to work and, if so, if they have been seeing patients. I know they aren’t contagious if they aren’t symptomatic but this comes down to a breach of trust between the hospital administration and the public-at-large. Our confidence in Presbyterian had already been shaken by the song and dance about Duncan’s ER visit. This has not helped.

But let’s be honest. This situation is not one any hospital could have been fully prepared for. This was not a situation where there was advance warning that an Ebola patient was coming in ala Dr. Kent Brantley. There wasn’t time to get any experimental drugs on hand. There was no advance blood work to study and base treatment plans on. There was no advance notice so additional training could be accomplished. Nor was there time to set up an isolation wing or floor with all the bells and whistles you’ll find at Emory or one of the other hospitals that specialize in infectious diseases.

There’s something else to consider. What if this had happened not in Dallas but in Chinook, Montana? Or any other small town in the country. The response times could have been a lot longer and the results much worse.

Will this be the last time we see Ebola in this country? No. I haven’t checked this morning, but there was a suspected case in the Boston area being reported last night. The answer isn’t to close our borders to all flights coming in from the affected parts of Africa. As the Duncan case proves, not everyone comes directly here from Africa. Even if you stopped every person whose flight originated in Africa, that wouldn’t put a stop to it. Someone who lives in Germany can be exposed under the right conditions without ever being in Africa. That person can get on a plane and come to the US and they won’t be stopped because they aren’t symptomatic and they aren’t coming from an affected area.

All we can do is be vigilant. We establish regional hospitals that are trained and prepared to deal with Ebola and other infectious diseases. We establish protocols that are consistent across the board and across the nation about how to transport patients with suspected infectious diseases as well as how to treat them once at the designated hospital. We identify companies that are qualified to do the decontamination of homes and vehicles and other areas where a patient might have been so they can be brought in immediately to decon an impacted area. There is something else that has to be done and that falls to you and me. We have to demand transparency from our medical administrators and politicians.

Most of all, we all have to exercise common sense. Unfortunately, out of everything, that is the one thing I’m not sure we will see. At least not from the vocal few and the media and they are the ones who fan the fire of panic.

No Help For the Meek

No amount of preaching can fix this.

No amount of preaching can fix this.

Yesterday, as we were driving around, (I took the laptop and wrote. Weird way to break a minor block, but it did.) Dan was telling me about this book he was reading and how the female main character of the book is always blaming herself for the bad actions of other people.

And he said “I thought that if it didn’t do anything else, feminism would make women realize they didn’t have to be doormats.”

And suddenly I had a blinding insight.

It ties in with the “Laws aren’t magic” post from last week.

What do laws against striking children do? They curb the swat to the butt parents who would have stopped children getting into dangerous/difficult situations that way. The parents who stop after a swat. The ones who train their kids into not doing crazy things before they’re five, so that there’s a lot less involved in watching/overseeing them and they’re more pleasant at that age.

Does it do anything to stop the “Beat him till he stops moving” parents? I don’t know. I know I read about as many horrible cases in local news. And psychologically I doubt it would stop them. Beating your child to a harmful extent has ALWAYS been forbidden. If they’re willing to do that, they’re not law abiding people.

This is the same as with guns. Forbid gun ownership and the only people who will own guns are those who don’t give a hang about laws, and therefore the community will be less safe.

I was thinking about this and realized it’s the same with feminism.

Feminism doesn’t stop women who are by nature subservient or by nature self-blamers from being subservient and self-blamers. This, btw, whatever the feminists tell you about patriarchy and the evils of capitalism, is not a characteristic of women alone. Some men are also subservient and self-blamers.

In the self-blaming part, particularly, I come from a long line of men who, like Atlas, tried to lift the world on their shoulders and blamed themselves for failing.

It’s what Heinlein calls the Fallen Caryatid.

This poor little caryatid has fallen under the load. She’s a good girl—look at her face. Serious, unhappy at her failure, not blaming anyone, not even the gods…and still trying to shoulder her load, after she’s crumpled under it.

But she’s more than just good art denouncing bad art; she’s a symbol for every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women—this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude until they crumpled under their loads. It’s courage…and victory.

Victory in defeat, there is none higher. She didn’t give up…she’s still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her…she’s all the unsung heroes who couldn’t make it but never quit.
~ Robert A. Heinlein,
Stranger in a Strange Land

Both men and women have this type of personality. I catch glimpses of it in myself. I know my dad has it. I know his mother had it. My older son, though he doesn’t look it, is the caryatid, and blames himself when he falls under the load. (As well as lifting a load no one would expect a human being to bear.) His brother is going that way too.

Now, this is not being a doormat, but the feminists of today would have trouble realizing that. They think a woman doing anything for men is “subservient.”

And this brings us to what is wrong with “feminism teaching women not to be doormats.” You can’t – no matter how much you preach at them – change a person’s whole personality by telling them to stand up for themselves and not be doormats. That’s not how humans work.

I know that I have certain personality traits I abhor (mostly the depressive tendency) but yelling at myself only makes me unhappy. It doesn’t change my personality.

As for subservient, my maternal grandmother was one of those gentle and helpless women. You know “her voice was ever soft” types. She didn’t curse, she didn’t raise her voice, she didn’t stand up for herself.

Was that because she’d been crushed early and told to be subservient? I doubt it. As far as I could tell, she came from two very gentle people and a very happy marriage. Unfortunately for her the man she married was not gentle and her marriage was not happy. She tried to do what she could around the edges, including various under-the-table jobs as he wasted his inheritance, but she couldn’t stand up to him, because she simply wasn’t built that way.

Only one of her children, a son, took after her in temperament. I loved my uncle, but he had all the force of a wet towel.

If she COULD have stood up to my beloved – and quite insane – grandfather, she would have. She loved her children and hated seeing them growing up in abject poverty. Her parents told her that her marriage was not working right, that she needed to stand up for herself.

But she couldn’t.

Yes, in modern days, she might have been persuaded to leave him. (Hard to tell. She had the stubbornness of the gentle and weirdly she always loved him.) BUT if she had and had fallen for another man who wasn’t as quiet and gentle as her parents, she would have the same exact issue. Her brother had the same issue, having fallen for an ungentle woman.

People are people. It’s not a “patriarchal plot” – some personalities simply aren’t dominant.

So what does the – current – feminist preaching that it’s always the woman’s fault and that no woman should ever listen to a man, and that every woman should have the upper hand in a relationship do for the meek and the mild?

Nothing. They are who they are. Only now to the long list of things they can’t change about themselves is the guilt that they can’t change who they are and take the upper hand which everyone from kindergarten on tells them they’re supposed to. It crushes them under the certainty that they’re weak and there’s something “wrong with them.”

Whom does this preaching empower? Women who would have the upper hand anyway, and who now seize this philosophy of “woman empowerment” to run roughshod over men and boys and to blame them for every failure/wrong in their lives.

No wonder the feminist movement turned bitter and into androphobia. The people it empowers are the ones who would have ruled the roost anyway, but who now seize on this as an excuse to crush both men and the meek, mild women underfoot.

Understand I’m not saying that there is no point to abused women’s shelters, or to trying to get people (men or women) out of bad situations. There is. I approve of this effort. Grandma might not have stayed away, but having people on her corner might have kept her from suffering as much as she did under her husband’s despotic rule.

What I’m saying is that preaching at her that she should “rule the family” and bring her brilliant, rakish, erratic and violent husband to heel would do nothing. She’d just have sighed and said “I know.” And felt even more guilty.

My other grandmother – my beloved paternal grandmother – if she had been less of a caretaker, would OTOH have seized on such instruction to become a tyrant. (She was in a way, her rule only moderated by her CARING for others.)

These philosophies; these injuctions that tell people how the genders would relate in an ideal world, (or the classes, or the income levels, or the … whatever) in the end only oppress the oppressed.

It’s all very well for the feminists to turn on women who aren’t “with the program” but it changes nothing, except add a layer of feminist bullying to the lives of the meek and the mild and those Fallen Caryatids (female AND male) already lifting too heavy a load.

We don’t need no (re) education. We don’t need no thought control.

We need help for those men and women who are likely to let themselves be crushed underfoot. Real help of the “here, let me lift the load a moment.” And laws that help the meek and mild save something from the bonfire of crazy spouses/family/mates.

What we don’t need is the opposite of what old charity missions used to do. All sermon, no help.

 

 

The Book Plug Returns In TRIUMPH!

*For those who can’t live without my blather, try the Friday Book Plug, Come on in, the publishing is fine. 

I’m talking about the ability to publish whatever you want and actually make money, and I quote Lawrence Block whose journey was startlingly similar to mine when it comes to indie. (Startling because we’re very different and also, he cam in decades before me. – SAH*

Book plugs from Free Range Oyster.

Happy Saturday! We’ve a nice selection of books for this week, both old favorites and new releases. So go pick up some new reading material, enjoy your weekend, and don’t forget to hug your loved ones when you can. As always, future entries can (and should!) be sent to my email. Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

Self-Hawking Codemonkey, Mercenary Word-polisher, and Proud Minion of the Beautiful But Evil Space Princess

James Young

Acts of War

Usurper’s War Book 2

August 1942. London is in flames. Heinrich Himmler’s Germany stands triumphant in the West, its “Most Dangerous Enemy” forced to the peace table by a hailstorm of nerve gas and incendiaries. With Adolf Hitler avenged and portions of the Royal Navy seized as war prizes, Nazi Germany casts its baleful gaze across the Atlantic towards an increasingly isolationist United States. With no causus belli, President Roosevelt must convince his fellow Americans that it is better to deal with a triumphant Germany now than to curse their children with the problem of a united, fascist Europe later.

As Germany and Japan prepare to launch the next phase of the conflict, Fate forces normal men and women to make hard choices in hopes of securing a better future. For Adam Haynes, Londonfall means he must continue an odyssey that began in the skies over Spain. American naval officer Eric Cobb finds that neutrality is a far cry from safety. Finally, Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi must prepare himself and his men to fight a Pacific War that is far different than the surprise attack Imperial Japan had once planned but never executed.

Acts of War is the continuation of the Usurper’s War series, which charts a very different World War II. As young men and women are forced to answer their nation’s call, the choices they make and risks they take will write a different song for the Greatest Generation.

Amanda Green

Nocturnal Lives

Boxed Set

This “box set” includes the first three novels in the Nocturnal Lives series.

Nocturnal Origins

Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try.

Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knows that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.It doesn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believe a miracle occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. Mac knows better. It hadn’t been a miracle, at least not a holy one. As far as she’s concerned, that’s the day the dogs of Hell came for her.

Investigating one of the most horrendous murders in recent Dallas history, Mac also has to break in a new partner and deal with nosy reporters who follow her every move and who publish confidential details of the investigation without a qualm.

Complicating matters even more, Mac learns the truth about her family and herself, a truth that forces her to deal with the monster within, as well as those on the outside.But none of this matters as much as discovering the identity of the murderer before he can kill again.

Nocturnal Serenade

Lt. Mackenzie Santos of the Dallas Police Department learns there are worst things than finding out you come from a long line of shapeshifters. At least that’s what she keeps telling herself. It’s not that she resents suddenly discovering she can turn into a jaguar. Nor is it really the fact that no one warned her what might happen to her one day. Although, come to think of it, her mother does have a lot of explaining to do when – and if – Mac ever talks to her again. No, the real problem is how to keep the existence of shapeshifters hidden from the normals, especially when just one piece of forensic evidence in the hands of the wrong technician could lead to their discovery.

Add in blackmail, a long overdue talk with her grandmother about their heritage and an attack on her mother and Mac’s life is about to get a lot more complicated. What she wouldn’t give for a run-of-the-mill murder to investigate. THAT would be a nice change of pace.

Nocturnal Interlude

Lt. Mackenzie Santos swears she will never take another vacation again as long as she lives. The moment she returns home, two federal agents are there to take her into custody. Then she finds out her partner, Sgt. Patricia Collins, as well as several others are missing. Several of the missing have connections to law enforcement. All are connected to Mac through one important and very secret fact – they are all shapechangers. Has someone finally discovered that the myths and bad Hollywood movies are actually based on fact or is there something else, something more insidious at work?

Mac finds herself in a race against time not only to save her partner and the others but to discover who was behind their disappearances. As she does, she finds herself dealing with Internal Affairs, dirty cops, the Feds and a possible conspiracy within the shapeshifter community that could not only bring their existence to light but cause a civil war between shifters.

T.K. Naliaka

In Time of Peril

The Decaturs Book 1

Raised on the edge of chaos in West Africa, Christopher Decatur is back in America for college, leaving behind dunes, baobabs, nomads and urban banlieux. His history class embarks on a week-long American Revolution reenactment hiking trip near Lake Champlain, but the backwoods are no refuge from the dangers of the world as the group collides with a murderous and mysterious gang. As Chris faces an ordeal of deadly threats with uncooperative classmates in a high-stakes battle of wits and cultures against ruthless foes, Chris’s father Robert Decatur risks everything to rescue his son from the hands of evil. In Time of Peril launches The Decaturs adventure series, continuing in the sequel, A Difficult Damsel to Rescue.

Sam Schall

Vengeance from Ashes

Honor and Duty Book 1

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

Steven Johnson

Up In Smoke

Flak-Jack #1

The crooks and punks all have superpowers now – they can fry you any time they like. Who’d stay on the police force in a town like this? Only the men who need to be heroes very, very badly. Marc Chaves looks up to the superheroes who battle evil in the skies above. But all he has is a badge and a flak jacket. Will it be enough? It better be, because ready or not, Marc’s going into action as Flak-Jack, the Bulletproof Man!

Dan Melson

Working The Trenches

Rediscovery Book 4

Graciela Juarez has been an Imperial citizen for several years. She’s got a solid marriage into one of the Empire’s most important families. The Empire has been very good to her. For her self-respect, she wants to spend some time with her shoulder to the wheels of the Empire. Pulling the cart of Civilization. Working the Trenches of Empire.

John Van Stry

Champion for Hire

Portals of Infinity: Book One

William is just your typical engineer fresh out of college with a stressful job, a boring life, and not a lot of prospects of anything better in the future.

Until one weekend while hiking in the woods he stumbles across a portal to another time, or perhaps another place. The more he investigates this new world the more he realizes that it may just be able to offer him a lot more than the one he’s been living in.

However, there are forces at work beyond anything that Will has ever come across before and the local Goddess seems to have taken a liking to him. Will may soon find himself getting an offer and cannot afford to refuse.

C.J. Carella

Apocalypse Dance

New Olympus Saga Book 3

The End Is Here.

Christine Dark and Mark Martinez face their greatest challege yet. Captured by the Dominion of the Ukraine, where they face torture and death, they must find a way to outsmart the Iron Tsar, escape, and deliver the world from utter destruction. Meanwhile, other heroes and villains forge alliances or battle each other as the fate of Earth Alpha, an alternate reality where superheroes are only too real, hangs in the balance.

The conclusion of the New Olympus Saga that began with Armageddon Girl, Apocalypse Dance is a thrilling tale full of action, drama, romance and humor.

Contains adult content and language.

Armageddon Girl

New Olympus Saga Book 1

College student Christine Dark wasn’t happy. Her social life sucked, she spent too much of her time playing computer games or reading sci-fi novels (and the occasional paranormal romance) and she felt like she was missing out on everything.

Fate had something special in store for her, though.

Without warning, an unknown force drags Christine out of her world and takes her to a whole new universe, an alternate Earth where superhuman beings have existed since the end of World War One, a world filled with strange and dangerous characters.

Christine soon learns she too is more than human, and that her choices may save her new home… or bring about its destruction.

Contains adult content and language.

Doomsday Duet

New Olympus Saga Book 2

In the sequel to Armageddon Girl, Christine Dark and Face-Off must face their inner demons while they try to save Earth Alpha, a world where superheroes are real and danger is everywhere. Can a former gamer chick endowed with cosmic powers and a murderous vigilante deal with their differences – and their growing attraction for one another – and escape the shadowy forces hunting them?

Meanwhile, Ultimate the Invincible Man finds himself a wanted man, persecuted by his former colleagues; Condor and Kestrel fight for justice while indulging their twisted sexual desires; and Cassius Jones, the hero known as Janus, reveals the terrible things he discovered during his exodus in outer space.

Filled with action, adventure and romance, Doomsday Duet continues to explore a world filled with superhuman beings with all too human failings.

Contains adult content and language.

Who Owns What? – Alma Boykin

Who Owns What? – Alma Boykin

 

I had never given much thought to the question of “who owns what for how long?” Growing up in the US, I learned that if you pay for it, and keep up with any taxes, it is yours, be it a car, house, farm, or work of art. You can sell it to whomever, bequeath it to your children, or dog, or favorite charity or museum. You can set up a trust and have your money doled out to worthy causes long after your death. After all, you earned it and it was yours to give away. People might challenge you and question your judgment (Dickens’s Bleak House, anyone?), but no one questions your right to dispose of property even after your death.

The first time I came across something different was in the book Holding the Stirrup by Elizabeth von und zu Gutenberg, the daughter of a Bavarian nobleman. After her father died, the men of his extended family gathered to redistribute his property, giving his castle and country house to other relatives that needed the space more than Elizabeth’s mother did (Elizabeth had just married). The real goods of the family belonged to the family as a whole, not to Elizabeth’s father. The clan provided her mother with an apartment in Munich and an income, so she wasn’t homeless or destitute by any means, but the needs of the clan overrode whatever her father’s wishes and mother’s desires might have been. That was how it had always been in the great families of Bavaria and Austro-Hungary. The practice made survival sense in many ways, and Elizabeth von und zu Gutenberg didn’t question the division.

The next thing to catch my attention came while I was in the Czech Republic, when learned about the Lex Schwarzenberg and the difference between legal and illegal property confiscation. Let’s just say that you really don’t want to have a law named for your family. To greatly oversimplify a complicated (and still litigated) story, after WWI and the creation of Czechoslovakia, the duly elected government decided that foreign property holders and some noble families (the two categories overlapped because of the new borders) owned too much land and their holdings potentially endangered the security of the new republic. So the government confiscated all agricultural holdings over 150 hectares (370 acres) and all non-agricultural land over 250 ha (617 a) from foreign owners, and did similar to the magnates’ estates. No one family could own more than 500 ha. The government paid some recompense, but in a new currency at old prices. One unspoken but understood justification for the new government’s actions was that the state i.e. the Habsburg monarchy, had given the land and so the current state had the right to redistribute it, just like the Habsburgs had. Another was the warning posed by the total expropriation of all Habsburg family property. After WWII, another law, the Lex Schwarzenberg, specifically stripped one branch of one old family of its holdings. Then came 1948 and everyone lost everything.

After the Velvet Revolution, the Czech government decided to allow people whose property had been illegally confiscated (by the Nazis or Communists) to redeem it from the state. If you had the proper paperwork, had maintained Czech citizenship, and could show proof of the seizure, you were entitled to your property back, in as-is condition. BUT, and this is what raised my eyebrows, if it had been legally expropriated by a democratic government between 1919-1938 and 1945-1948, too bad. Your family name might get put back on the castle, country house, or what have you, but you had no claim on the property. You could buy it back, however, at fair market value, if you met certain conditions and the government decided it didn’t need the property.

Hungary followed a similar pattern, but did not allow families to reclaim land taken by the Communists. The government paid people in land bonds, a good number of which quickly ended up on the market and were sold to speculators and investors for half their value.

OK, you are reading this and thinking, “Well, that’s Central Europe. The Habsburg Empire was an anomaly and yeah, the government shouldn’t have just taken all that property if without fair compensation but the Schwarzenbergs and Eszterhazys and everyone were feudal lords and should have seen what was coming, and they got their property by conquest and marriage, didn’t really earn it,” and so on.

But in almost every country in Europe, the state can cap how much of your private property, especially real estate, you are allowed to dispose of and in what manner, because at bottom all real property belongs to the state. You might not be allowed to disinherit your slacker, sleezeball brother. Your estranged husband still gets a chunk of your estate. You cannot leave the farm to the one child who really wants it. In fact, the total value of your estate may be capped so that only 30 percent is assigned by you in your will. The State parcels out the rest, what it doesn’t claim in the form of taxes. And this is as it has been for centuries, because the good of the clan, or tribe, or nation, is more important than the desires of a dead individual. The good of the group, now the state, is the primary consideration. Everything is on long-term loan to you from the state. You don’t own that.

Only in Britain, and Canada, the US, Australia, and New Zealand do the ideas of truly private property hold sway, and even here the Progressives and their Euro-fan siblings are eroding it, giving the state more and more power over private property and how it is dispersed and used. The English were the first to develop the idea of truly private property, something that went back to the 13th century and perhaps farther. The sources get mighty scarce before the 1300s, but even then the English had a brisk land market. You didn’t have European-style peasants tied to the land, endlessly shrinking plots of farmland, or people unable to acquire real property because it all belonged to independent nobles. Instead you had yeomen farmers, freeholders, and small businessmen as well as nobles, and the government had to respect their property rights (at least in theory).

We in North America are so used to the idea of truly owning land and goods that we don’t recognize how Odd our system is in the grand scheme of things. I’d never really thought about it until this summer, and it was reinforced by reading Daniel Hannan’s book How We Invented Freedom and Why it Matters, a history of the underpinnings of the Anglophone world’s ideas about the individual and individual rights.

If the purpose of government is to protect life, liberty, and property, as Locke originally wrote, then why is the state permitted to determine who gets to own what, and if someone has too much? Europeans, Chinese, Indians, and others would say that the needs of the state (which is the first and final owner of the land) or the clan or village come before the individual, especially after death. We Anglophones are strange, even heartless and selfish, to believe that property is ours to dispose of.

Now, the question of ownership can add a whole messy plot or subplot if you are writing about a feudal society or historical fiction set outside the Anglosphere. Katherine Kurtz has used it well in several of the Dyreni books, and I mentioned Holding the Stirrup, which is a fascinating autobiography. I’m going to have to deal with it in A Carpathian Campaign and the sequel, and I suspect it will come up in a later Cat book, although only as a minor point, since Rada Ni Drako and Joschka von Hohen-Drachenburg are so steeped in the culture of the Houses that they wouldn’t blink at property divisions and redistributions. Who owns your property: the living, the dead, or the state? It’s an idea with implications for our imagined worlds as well as for real world society.

 

 

 

It’s Time The Gloves Came Off

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So yesterday Jason Mattera went off after IRS crap… oh, sorry, ex-IRS crapweasel with questions on her front lawn. Instead of standing and facing the music – and yes, I know you’re surprised to hear the woman who took the fifth with her nose in the air, the woman who miraculously lost two hard drives to avoid proof of her malfeasance surfacing – she ran and with her usual respect for other’s property tried to barge into someone else’s house to escape mattera.

Glenn Reynolds posted the link with the question, “Is it right for him to do this?”

I will own myself surprised. I’ve been in the US for thirty years, just about, and I’ve haunted the forums of the libertarian right since there have been forums to haunt, starting with Reason magazine back in the day.

The proportion of those saying that no, no one should do this, that it’s bad when we descend to the same depths as the liberals, that we have to be better than that was lower than I’ve ever seen it on a forum “of the right” EVER.

But of course it was still there.

There were people still telling us we ought to be ashamed of ourselves; that the video was cringeworthy; that no one honorable would do that; that no true journalist would thus confront a defenseless crapweasel woman.

I tell you three times, they are not only wrong, they are very, very wrong.

I will repeat again: I came to the US thirty years ago. (Actually thirty years next summer, but close enough.) This was, in case some of you are barely older than that, at the height of the cold war.

When I came to the states as an exchange student (for a year) four years before that, I went to the consulate to get my Visa I was carrying music CDs by a French anarchist (my brother had just given them to me, and I was carrying them in hand.) My brother tried to convince me to hide them, lest I should be denied a visa.

Of course I wasn’t. In fact one of the gentlemen I talked to told me he liked the singer.

However, I’ll confess in the Ohio of my exchange student year I met with very little of what I will call “left wing snobbery”. While some of the left’s pet causes were half-heartedly endorsed, no one was breaking themselves in two to decry the evils of patriarchy, and certainly no one was endorsing communism. Not openly.

In fact, in the last year of Carter’s presidency, many people who I’m sure were otherwise democrat had about had it with appeasement of communism.

Four years later, when I returned and got married, the tide had changed. Not just among the people I met in North Carolina, but even our old friends back in Ohio. What we heard (just before the wall came down) was that you know, both the US system and the USSR had problems.

In fact, the more educated the person, the trendier his/her profession, the more likely that there would be some sideways defense of socialism at least in the “soft” socialist version practiced in Scandinavia. The proponents of the third way were out in full force.

To support Reagan, to quote him, to say anything in defense of a strong stand in the Cold War was more gauche (socially) here than in openly socialist Portugal.

What had happened was that leftism had become a positional good. They had, through continual repeating, through command of the media and entertainment (books, movies, tv, etc.) somehow managed to get across the message that to believe in American exceptionalism; to think communism was wrong; to believe socialism a soft slide down to the hell of communism; to believe that the US shouldn’t unilaterally disarm – all of this was to demonstrate a low IQ and a lack of cosmopolitan understanding of the world.

Oh, yeah, the left had tightly secured another center of opinion-creation: universities. And I guess having educated idiots with a string of letters after their names pronounce on something they didn’t understand and claiming the left was better made it the “smart” position.

It didn’t take me long to understand that. As a stranger in a strange land and, further more, one who aspired to break into one of the fields tightly under control of the left, I tried to smile at all the right places, I tried to make noises of agreement to the most stupid of points, and I tried to sound “smart.”

Apparently I didn’t do it very well. I have stories from the time, and it doesn’t take an expert to see how bad I was at hiding. Also, my face is apparently glass fronted when it comes to my thoughts. But I did my best to fit in with the “left is smart” status quo.

In my defense, I didn’t take them seriously. You see, I’d seen them in action in Europe. I’d seen how transparently evil and… well… stupid they were.

I thought that this was just a cultural phase and then, once the USSR fell…

I never saw that by then they’d be so culturally entrenched, so established in people’s minds as “the thing to be, if you’re upper class” that after the fall of the USSR they’d only become louder and redouble their assaults people who disagreed with them or pointed out how wrong they were.

I never anticipated they’d persist in the face of the collapse of the fields they held, from the teaching of humanities to the sales of fiction books.

By the time I realized that, I’d “broken in” and was holding on tight to a precarious mid-list career and I knew with gut-certainty, that if I spoke up it would be the end of my career. I wasn’t making much. My income was, however, the difference between being absolutely tight and having a little extra for emergencies and/or a little extra: books for the kids; that music cd that we wouldn’t otherwise get; the museum memberships.

I wasn’t willing to sacrifice it. I wasn’t willing to give up a career (such as it was) sixteen years in the making.

And yet—

I should have done it.

You see, my unwillingness to speak was the reason we’d come this far in four years and then so far in the last twenty nine that some people get upset at you if you run down communism – a system responsible for the death of over a hundred million people. No, I’m not saying my personal unwillingness to speak. I mean my unwillingness and those of others like me.

By staying quiet, by making aping sounds when we could, we enforced the silence of others like us; we reinforced the power of the leftist thought police; we made it possible for them to control entire fields.

This was helped by the fact that the left has never apologized much less felt bad for hiring according to politics; promoting according to politics; firing according to politics.

That is in fact how they’ve managed 98% prevalence in journalism, entertainment, teaching, and all the fields they control.

For the last ten years or so, they’ve stepped up their game too. Say anything – anything – they disagree with and you’ll be slandered and attacked in ways that boggle the mind. It started in politics, but right now it is at every level they control or would like to control, including even sf fandom and (they wish) gaming journalism.

Say something they disagree with; castigate one of their crazier pronouncements (“the future is queer,” said the man who doesn’t seem to understand how reproduction works) and you’ll be called the worst things they can think of: racist, sexist, a Nazi. (No, it doesn’t need to make any sense, though I’ll go to my grave cherishing the fact I was called a Nazi by a chick in East Germany. It beggars the mind. If they were not utterly without self-reflection, they couldn’t do this stuff.) Say something they disagree with and Larry Correia, the man who has built three successful careers by starting from very humble working class beginnings, gets called a creature of privilege by white, pampered female college professors who never SWEATED except while tanning.

They can do this because they have taken over entire fields. And because many of the fields they have taken over are those that inform the public about movements and public concerns.

They can act like bullies and they can scare people, and who is going to report on this, or on their seriously unfair hiring/firing practices? No one, that’s who. Because they are the establishment. And they control everything.

Or they did. The new media allows those of us who weren’t fully aboard with their program to have a voice. It’s a small (relatively) but growing voice. And what’s more, it’s way cooler than the old media. And they know that. And it annoys them beyond belief.

So they’ve redoubled the insanity and tried to shut down all the niches from which the new media comes. (Hence their attack on gamers. Oh, and science fiction.)

They can’t win, of course. The whole thing about slipping between their fingers like sand was never as true, as obviously true as it is with the dispersed, distributed new media.

But they hold on, to a great extent through two things: the power to hire and fire in the fields they control, and their now hysterical assertion that all the smart/honorable/idealistic people agree with them.

They need to be exposed for what they are, because, as everywhere where the left gets power, they’re a weird, misshapen assemblage of overreaching bureaucrats, twisted control freaks and lamentable human beings.

Illegal mistreatment of their political “enemies” and hatred of western civilization is what they DO. And the bizarre politeness of those who disagree with them is what allows them to do it.

People criticize Mitt Romney for saying that Obama was a good man. How could he have said otherwise. If he’d called the man the rabid crapweasel he is, half the right or more would have risen to dissociate themselves from him, because they’ve been trained to think it’s somehow not fair or impolite to expose the left.

This is not belief. This is social conditioning, through all the years when it was accepted the “smart” and “nice” were on the left.

Even I was shocked reading a biography of Carter – did you know he tried to sell us to the Russians in return for help with his second election? – because I too had been sold on the idea he was only ineffective because he was so nice.

They’re not your friends. They’re not nice. They’re no idealistic. No idealistic left survived the combined blows of Stalinism and the fall of the USSR. There’s only, now, cynical left pretending to be idealistic to hide their grossly swollen appetite for power.

They’ve lost even their power of self deception.

All they have now is the naked will to power and you – you who dare stand in their way.

This is not a gentlemanly fight. You are NOT to use the Marquess of Queensbury rules. The other guy is holding a broken bottle.

No one is asking you to make yourself into a mirror image of the crapweasels.

But you should not be ashamed to expose them, make them uncomfortable, scream at them or point their vapid intellectual contradictions and contortions. Breitbart wasn’t afraid, and look at the difference he made.

Stop trying to be nice. They aren’t.

Expose, mock and shame.

Being nice is a poor substitute for being good. And you’re called upon to be good. If you’re merely nice, evil wins.

Remembering the Republic – Patrick Richardson

*This is Sarah, and sorry guys, I have the stomach flu.  As usual I spent the day in denial and trying to write.  It didn’t work, and though I’m feeling better, I couldn’t write a blog.  So Pat sent me this (thank you.)  I had a post scriptum to his post, though “fortunately we remember.  Never in history has been such a literate populace, as illiterate as we are, nor one who remembered.  We must remind the people in power that this is a government of the people, for the people.  And I think we will.*

Remembering the Republic – Patrick Richardson

According to Aristotle, there are basically three forms of government which at least have the potential to be good forms of government — Monarchy, Aristocracy and Republic.

In Aristotle’s view, each of those three forms worked well so long as the people in charge remembered they had a duty to those whom they rule. That the reason they had the power they have is in order to administer their nation for the best interests of the people of the nation and the future thereof.

Aristotle also felt there were three evil forms of government — into which all of the three good forms would inevitably slide.

Monarchies tend to become Tyrannies where the Monarch rules only for himself, Aristocracies tend to become Oligarchies in which the Aristocrats work only to benefit themselves and the people of their class, and — a Democracy in which we have the tyranny of the masses.

What!?! You say, Democracy is an evil form of government? Don’t we have a Democracy in the United States? Well, no actually, we’re not supposed to. We’re supposed to have a Republic. There’s a reason for that. The founders were all classically educated men. They’d read Plato and Plutarch and, aye, Aristotle. They were aware that direct democracy simply does not work. The people “vote themselves largess from the public coffers,” and eventually everything collapses.

They created a representative republic precisely so that there would be a check on the passions of the masses, just as they created the the three branches of government to be a check on each other.

In essence they took all three “good” forms of government and folded them into the United States of America. The president is, in essence, an elected monarch. Such have not been unknown in history, the pre-Norman English (Saxon really) monarchy was one example. Congress and the Supreme Court amount to an elective and appointed aristocracy. Because they are elected for fixed terms, the U.S. is putatively, a republic.

We’re also watching all three “evil” forms of government emerge within our own country today. In California, for instance, the public initiative system allows the direct passage of laws without reference to the elected legislature — and there have been some truly silly laws passed because of it. The current holder of the White House is using executive orders, and his own influence to jam through legislation and regulation without regard to constitutionality or legality — how is this not Tyranny? Congress, both houses, and the courts have become nothing but self-perpetuating oligarchies in which we find it is not unusual at all to have members of the same family serving in seats that are almost handed down. Witness the Carnahan “dynasty” in Missouri. That’s on the Democrat side. The Blunt family on the Republican side has sent many members to Congress and the governor’s mansion as well. Congress makes laws which in general seem to benefit only those of the political class.

So in America today we see not only the three “good” forms of government at work, but also all three “evil” forms.

What it comes down to, is that those who rule, have forgotten their duty. They now work only for themselves and not in the best interests of those whom they rule.

The solution? I’m not sure. If history is any indication the whole mess will come down in blood, there will be a dictatorship, and a series of revolutions until something resembling a nation comes out on top once again. I hope this isn’t the route we follow. If we can get back to Constitutional principles we might have a chance. The problem is, for those in power, it’s not in their best interest to do so.

Of Laws and Magic Words

Yesterday, in a moment of lightness I posted a facebook meme that said “Post this if you rode unsecured in the back of a pickup and survived.”

I’ll note that part of the reason I posted is that the only time I did that was when I was camping with my host family during my exchange student year. If we wanted to go to the grocery store with dad, my teen host sister and I rode in the back. It was fun and slow along country lanes.

I remember the warm summer afternoons, and riding in the back of the truck amid the corn fields.

The other part was of course more complex. I think we have been wrapping kids/teens and sometimes adults in bubblewrap. I have theories on why, but that was sort of a general “yeah, there was a risk, but it wasn’t a huge risk, and yeah.”

Even so it surprised me when I started getting comments from people who said they knew people who’d died by falling from the backs of pickups and lecturing me on the fact that those who didn’t survive couldn’t post the meme. (DUH.)

I’ll note at least in one case the person who didn’t survive had been standing in the back of the pickup and shooting out the back (rats, I think) which of course is much more dangerous than sitting in the back leaning against the cab, with the gate part closed.

Yes, if my host dad had hit something full on at sixty, we’d have been thrown. Probably. But he wasn’t doing sixty, he was doing 25 and the chances of his hitting anything head on on those roads was close to zero.

So, should it have been illegal, or should it have been left to his discretion?

Look, in theory I’m all for cracking down on people who have little kids unsecured in the back of the pickup. I don’t even like seeing dogs unsecured back there, not on the highway at least.

In practice, things are a great deal more complex.

Take spanking.

I’m going to confess right here that I spanked my kids. The older son more than the younger. Spanking consisted of open hand on behind, and most of it while behind was still wearing diapers. After that there were more effective methods of punishment because he was conscious/sentient enough to know what it meant when I said “the computer cord goes away for a day.”

Before that, sometimes you needed to swat him just to get his attention. (Ideally to get his attention we should have used a two by four. Still should. But we didn’t want to HURT him and the swat was enough to stop him.)

Time outs didn’t work on him. He would come out of them and resume whatever had got him put in time out.

Until he was conscious of time and consequences, the smack on the butt was the best way to get whatever it was to stop. (Whatever it was included stuff like running naked into a downtown area in the middle of the night; melting crayons on the radiator; trying to turn the gas stove on/playing with gas knobs; wanting to remove the cat’s eye with a screw driver [the cat was okay. He remembers the incident. He thought the cat was a robot]) I.e. we took no joy in it – I truly learned the principle of “it hurts me more than it hurts you” – and we only did it when we were unsuccessful by other means at stopping behavior that would endanger him or others.

Younger son I THINK got swatted twice in his entire childhood (Pretend-smacks on the back of the head don’t count. That’s now, and he’s bigger than I. Also they’re pretend.) because he responded to time outs, distractions, and taking away something he was playing with instead of spanking. His biggest sins were the sin of the younger child: scream like a banshee to get the adult’s attention. He didn’t ever throw chairs at us, bean us with toy trains or lock us out of the house. … or take off running naked through the middle of downtown. He did take off running through the middle of Orly airport but when he was too young to even think of smacking on the behind (a year old) and just bored.

Recently, over the thing with the football player beating his kid I became aware of two things: first, there are people who think that spanking is somehow always sexual and therefore think smacking a kid on the behind is kinky. (These people need therapy.) And second, people think the swat to the behind (more noise than anything else) should be illegal because they think normal, sane parents if they smack the kid once are at risk for beating the kid into the ground.

Or to turn that around: they think if they make it illegal to swat your son on his diapered behind then children won’t get beaten to the ground; burned with cigarettes; locked in closets, or whatever the extreme forms of child abuse they call to mind.

This is the same form of insanity we see with gun control.

Look, just because in extreme cases, to protect him and others I swatted the kid’s behind, it didn’t mean I was going to start beating him till he died. I didn’t want to beat him. And it was already illegal. Heck, it was illegal when I was young and when it was normal to beat kids with switches, wooden spoons and wooden rulers.

There is a vast amount of difference between a singular smack that surprises and stops and beating. There is even a difference between smacking a kid’s hand with a ruler (no, I never did it, but it was the accepted form of punishment in the school I attended. For some reason the smack was called a bolo which means cake in Portuguese. I rarely got it, though I did if asked to recite the multiplication tables aloud, because I knew if you missed three you got smacked, and suddenly I couldn’t remember anything. I don’t recommend beating with a ruler as an aid to learning, but it didn’t permanently damage me, either.)

(And no, you’re not teaching the kid violence. Kids know violence without learning it. Arguably they know more violence if they were never spanked, because they’re not aware of what it does. All mammals physically disciple their cubs. And while I agree we’re not animals, and we stopped as soon as other methods worked, sometimes it was the only thing that stopped a careening little boy.)

And here is the key: the people who would BEAT a child would do it whether it was illegal or not.

The people who buy guns to kill people, don’t care if buying the gun is illegal.

And the people who stand and shoot rats from the back of a moving pickup don’t care if it’s illegal.

Almost anything you can think of, making it illegal has a cost. In the case of older son, I REALLY don’t know if we’d have got through his childhood without major incident without the occasional smack. (I could tell you stories.) Curiously, once he got to be around five, and you could threaten/reward and he understood, he was one of the best kids to deal with. Before that… (And despite the “teach them violence” thing he still is one of the gentlest young men with the weak and defenseless.)

In the case of guns, when you make them illegal, you make it easier for those who don’t care it’s illegal to prey on a disarmed citizenry.

In the case of seat belt laws, etc, you have smaller trade offs, but trade offs, nonetheless. Oh, okay, so on a long camping weekend, I might have had to do without gum. Or pads, which was at least one reason for one of the trips. Not the end of the world. But there are all sorts of issues. For instance in Portugal the seat belt law discommodes my mother. (Mind you I have nightmares at the idea of riding there, on those roads, with those drivers WITHOUT a seat belt, even if I did it all the time as a kid.) You see, she’s very short and it goes right in front of her neck. I know in the US there are adapters for that, but not in Portugal.

My brother in law died in a motorcycle accident from a tire blow out because he wasn’t wearing a helmet. (He’d just removed it.) OTOH other motorcyclists hate the helmet laws because it cuts out on visibility or whatever. I don’t know. I don’t ride, and it’s not my life. The choice should be theirs.

What I mean is, yes, he died (mind you he would be liked to survive with severe impairment if he’d been wearing the helmet) but other people think they have valid reasons not to wear helmets. And, well, he might have been in a region when a helmet was required, but he’d removed it for a few minutes because he was hot.

To be fair, given the chance, he’d probably rather have died than be incapacitated. (He’d talked about it in the past.) I’d disagree with that choice, but it was HIS choice to make.

The point I’m trying to get at beyond the rightness of any of the actions mentioned is this: laws are not magical formulas. There are trade offs to every human action. Sane people know those trade offs and make a judgment on them without the need of a law to distort them. People who are either insane or outlaws will not care if you have a law.

I’m not going to discuss spanking, for instance. We did it briefly, in a mild form, in limited circumstances, with a child who didn’t respond to other methods of discipline. It might not have been the best thing ever, but at the time it was the trade off we felt we had to make, as rational and informed human beings to both keep our son safe and keep him from hurting others. We never had any wish to beat our child into the ground, and if we’d had it, the law would not have deterred us, because that was already illegal.

We don’t have any intention to go around shooting people, and if we did laws against gun ownership wouldn’t deter us. It’s already illegal to shoot people.

We don’t ride in the backs of pickups, but if we had to because it was the only way to get somewhere, then we’d probably ride with our back to the cab and the back closed and not on the highway. Because we’re willing to risk lower safety, but we’re not crazy. And if we HAD to we’d do it despite the law. If there was a way around we would rather be inconvenienced than break the law. But in either case, we’d not be seriously endangering ourselves.

OTOH the people who want to stand up and shoot rats from the back of a moving pickup aren’t going to be deterred by laws. They’d do it anyway.

Laws are not magical words of power. Passing a law doesn’t mean the extreme form of evil/mean/careless action is going to stop magically.

You might stop/inconvenience the responsible people from doing a mostly safe form of whatever you want to stop. I’m sure if it were today my host father would say “you can’t ride on the back of the pickup, the police might stop us.”

But if he were the kind of person who encouraged his kids to stand and hold on as he sped down the highway? Well, why would the law deter him if potential loss of the kids didn’t?

The law isn’t magic words of power. Saying them will not keep people who don’t care about the law anyway from doing the harsher forms of whatever you’re banning. They’re already doing things that risk life and limb of themselves and others. What is a little legal trouble on top of that?

Teach people the risks and let them make their own decisions.

Before passing a law remember that even the best laws have drawbacks. And that laws only stop the law-abiding.

 

 

When All Else Fails — David Pascoe

When All Else Fails — David Pascoe

The door slams open of its own accord, drawing eyes from the assembled Huns, Hoydens and Dinerites. After an incomprehensible series of grunts between the figure outside it and the draconic door warden, the former staggers in. A long coat of deep green with a matching mantle broadens the figure into almost dwarven proportions. The brim of his chocolate brown hat covers most of his face, but for the reddish beard failing to hide his grimace of concentration. He weaves his way toward the bar and collapses – if one can collapse upward – onto a stool. Somehow he ends up half-reclined with his elbows on the bar. One hand tips the hat upward and you see the surprisingly grim visage of the Kilted Coffee Maker. His pale skin is even more so than usual, and there are dark circles under his eyes – eyes that stare through the wall.

A hush falls over the madhouse, an especially unnatural one as this place is never quiet. But, speaking of “unnatural,” nobody has ever seen the Kilted One out from behind the enormous (and enormously complicated) Espresso Device taking up one end of the bar. Taking up one end, and growing into the floor, through the wall, and extending what seem to be some kind of techno-organic tendrils up toward the ceiling. Mostly, you just don’t question it, as the coffee’s better than anywhere else in the multiverse.

“So that thing you’re told about parenthood? The one about the so-called Mommy Brain? How you can’t focus, and every sense seems tuned ” Even his voice is just a bit hoarse, as though he’d wandered in at the end of a five-day con. “I figured it was a matter of hormones, but it seems to be something a bit more metaphysical: turns out it’s not limited to mothers. This has been a hell of an experience, and I don’t recommend it for the faint of heart.”

He reaches into a pocket of his coat and pulls out a dark bottle with no label. He stares at it for a long moment, as though he doesn’t really recognize it. A man in the uniform of a Gunnery Sergeant of Marines slides a church-key down the bar. Without seeming to see it, the barista snatches it up as it bounces down the length of scarred, polished wood and pops the top off the bottle.

“Thanks, Gunny,” he tips the bottle in salute, a salute the Gunnery Sergeant mirrors, lifting his Dr. Pepper in reply. “So, yeah, focus has been … lacking. You may notice the recent automation in the Stuff of Life department down at the far end of the bar. I think the pipeline for the Black Blood of the Earth is flowing. The percolator and its feral offspring were finally corralled sometime last night. Those’ll be put out to pasture, as I won’t have that kind of coffee abuse here. You want to burn coffee, do it at home. Otherwise, the inter-dimensional drip – y’know, the one that crosses the eighth – should be solid for the foreseeable future. The Kilted Coon’s supply is guaranteed. Unless somebody lets the Cthulumari loose again. I won’t be held responsible for that kind of twisting of reality, nor the consequences thereof.”

He lifts his hand and stares at the bottle as though he’d forgotten he was holding it. He takes a long pull, and keeps pulling. When he’s finished it off, he kind of relaxes, muscles unknotting. He looks to melt into a puddle right there on the bar.

“Where was I? Right, parentdom, that glorious state of responsibility for something unable to care for itself. Y’know, I’ve been on call 24/7 before. I’ve spent hours and hours doing nothing but waiting for things of little interest to happen. What I haven’t done – until the last-” his eyes lose focus and the fingers of his free hand beat a rapid tattoo on the bar, “-is try to hold down more than one job at a time while making sure something small, weak, and unutterably adorable doesn’t bring my world crashing down around my ears.”

He absently pulls another bottle from his coat pocket and you know this one couldn’t have been there unless the pocket is as ankle-length as the coat itself. He retrieves the church-key and attempts to open the bottle. Upon repeated failure, he finally looks at it and you see his face shift from puzzled to complete befuddlement as he realizes he was trying to open single-malt as though it was a beer bottle. He closes his eyes.

“Right. Forgot I’m not supposed to do that. She’s gonna have my guts for garters if this is one of hers.” He opens his eyes and addresses the you and the rest of the rapt audience. “Let this be a lesson to you: don’t go traveling through Faerie and into any of the purely literary inspired splinter ‘verses. You never know what kind of ability you’ll come back with, and Herself can be murder on exposing our cozy, little arrangement here-” A roar briefly deafens the assembled and the barista grimaces as dust drifts down from the ceiling. “Yeah, she’s still working on Through Fire, so I might be safe, but don’t bet on it. Worse comes to worst, I’ll toss Wee Dave at her and jump into the Catacombs. The ‘Mari down there run wild until we need ‘em. Strangely enough, crating ‘em like veal just toughens them up. If the Grandsquirm and the ‘Mari aren’t enough distraction, I’ll just have to take my medicine, I suppose. Unless the EE Quantum Whatsit is actually working as designed. Usually it just spews really, really low energy particles, which is why we use it to chill the beer. No, I don’t understand how it works, and no, it shouldn’t be able to do what it does. EE products are … better than things designed by B.S. Johnson, that way.”

He flicks the cork out of the bottle with his thumb and takes a pull. Another grimace.

“Not how one treats a good single malt, but needs must. Where was I? Oh, right, parenthood. That question is Exhibit A. I can’t seem to focus on anything anymore. Not for longer than about a minute and a half. The writing has suffered. Herself suggested that she may or may not have experienced something similar with the Heinlein’s namesake. I’m just praying it doesn’t take me the same time to get back around to productive. Well, to get around to productive, as I remain unconvinced I’ve even seen that one from the right side.”

He scowls into the glass tumbler the gentlebeast down the bar has thoughtfully deposited near his right elbow.

“High intelligence is as often a curse as a blessing, and while I can see what needs to be done – in those rare moments of quasi-clarity – I have been as yet unable to affect such change. My Pint-Sized Tyrant’s needs come before mine, and after She Who Must Be Obeyed’s duty has been seen to. As I intimated, the writing is the worse. The writing and the perspective. Those are the worst. No, the writing, the perspective, and the lack of exercise. I’ll just come in again, shall I? It’s those days where I stare at the screen, write a sentence, stare at it, stare at it some more, write another sentence, repeat, then look up and realize I’ve written a matter of sixty or seventy words and it’s time to go wake the Boy-Creature, after which my time is not my own. Those days are dark, and most days are those days.”

His smile is weary, and he raises his now half-full glass to Foxfier.

“I salute you, Lady, for I don’t know how you do it. We’re discussing the timing for Working Title the Second, and a not minuscule portion of my soul cringes, I tell no lie. If I didn’t, already,” he jiggles the glass of amber liquid, “it could drive me to drink. I’ve thought about quitting, I’m willing to admit. Just give it up for a while. My lovely wife would call some of you for help moving my cooling corpse, as I’d become completely unlivable in near-record time, however. I’d really rather not push her that far. It would complicate so many of her plans, you see. Also, I expect my head might explode.”

He drains the glass and fills it halfway, muttering about optimists, pessimists and scientists. From his other pocket he draws a small brown bottle. Unscrewing the cap, he draws an eyedropper from the bottle and empties it into his glass. A sniff, a sip, and one corner of his mouth quirks upward.

“At the other end of the spectrum lies the suicide of the spirit, quick or slow. Doing all the things I used to enjoy doing, but which produce nothing, and eventually I’ll be just a shell of a man.” He finishes the glass, again. His words aren’t slurring, and he’s not weaving any more than he was when he staggered in the door, but his face has lost a little of the haggard look.

“For me – and for most of us, I’d posit – it’s going to come down to a third option. The one where we keep on as we intend. Compromises may be made, but they’ll be internal. For me, I may lose sleep. I understand that’s normal for parents. I may cut out large chunks of what I used to do for fun. I’m not really even sure how that word applies to my life right now, anyway. I’ll trade the wall in for a nice, heavy anvil. The wall has too many head-shaped holes, you understand. And the anvil can be used to make things, too. Or just prop one’s feet on. I’ll continue writing, as I can’t do otherwise. My father told me once of a shirt he saw, the caption of which said, “When all else fails, lower your expectations.” At the time, I found it vulgar. Now, I think I’m starting to see the wisdom in it. I’d like to maintain what little claim to sanity I can legitimately own, after all. Keeping the Heir Apparent alive at the end of the day is a hefty accomplishment. Perhaps everything else is just gravy. Or at least gravy for today.”