Category Archives: Uncategorized

Positively Living Lies

A couple of days ago, I offended one of you who thought I was being facetious at Canada’s expense (which I only do in terms of accent, and which is my right as a linguist. Also, because my accent is the funniest of them all) when I said they’d had something like 10 constitutions. I was in fact repeating the claim of a Canadian (and patriotic) commenter who thought this flexibility of their uniting legal principle made Canada superior to us, hide bound Americans.

Turns out this is wrong… but maybe not as wrong as we thought. Canada has only had two constitutions. However, it has had several revisions.

Now, you’re going to say so has America. We’re up to how many amendments? And that’s true. Except that our amendments aren’t as sweeping. They usually concentrate on one topic and also technically can’t go against the tenor or thrust of the founding documents.

Note I said generally. I’d rather you didn’t get lost in minutia about the prohib– Oh, who the heck am I kidding. You guys will battle out the small details in obsessive frenzy and still remain friends and Huns. That’s what makes this place so much fun. So carry on.

At any rate this is not about Canada’s Constitution, because I’m really not in a place where I can take time to research it and do it justice, but about the thought it sparked.

The reasons the original commenter was so proud of Canada’s flexibility was that he pointed out it allowed them to “modernize” and grant citizens “positive rights.”

In fact the lack of positive rights is a reason our Pres(id)ent Affliction thinks the constitution is passe and should be revoked.

For those of you who don’t know what positive rights are, they’re not “I’m dang right positive that you can’t do anything the constitution doesn’t allow, and I’ve got this here gun to positively ensure that.” (One kinda wishes it were though.)

Positive rights are guaranteeing things, usually material, that are in the “rights of men” (a well known Soviet tool to fire back at free countries that called it on its abuses) but not ah… accruing to the human condition.

For instance, some countries guarantee “minimal sustenance” or a “minimum income” or “housing” or “health.”

The problem with these guarantees are that you can’t obtain any of those things without taking them from another human being. Just saying “you have a right” doesn’t cause them to appear out of clear air. So the “positive right” of one person is the “negative theft of the other.”

While I think all taxation is theft (hey, I’m clear headed on this, okay) I think some theft is sometimes vaguely justified on the grounds of “we need to have common defense and we’ll defend the guy we stole from, too.

Mind you, this is not particularly morally right, but in a world where just being inoffensive doesn’t guarantee you’re not attacked (on the contrary) it’s necessary for collective survival.

However while you can extract penumbras and emanations where “to make everyone minimally affluent is good for everyone.” (Government is a word for the things we choose to do together, like drunken orgies and baby sacrifice!) Those are a bit far fetched. It’s pretty easy to prove it’s easier and more profitable to defend x amount of territory and everyone in it than one individual here and one there, by themselves. It’s harder to prove that making sure Miss Aramintha Smith in Kentucky having a minimum of 20k she doesn’t have to work for is better for me, and so I should make that amount over at a minimum per year. I think Miss Aramintha should get off her behind and go to work.

(It’s even harder to prove that I derive benefit from sending 20k of my money a year to the Palestinian authority or that I derive benefit from paying for Nancy Pelosi’s liquor which is about the same amount, give or take a million. Which just goes to show our Constitution is a fine thing and we should try following it, sometime.)

None of which means, understand, that I’m against helping people in need. In fact, if that’s where it stayed it would be fine.

As some of you comment with SS Marriage, (Yes that topic is still closed, because no one is going to change his/her mind. However I CAN see your point in this regard.) is that it slides. Same Sex Marriage being legal the perpetual agitators will move on to polygamy and incest and whatever. (I just suggest making it hard and fast TWO consenting adults and then ignoring the shrieking.) Part of this is of course Marxism. The serpent might be gone (or perhaps undead. Hello Mr. Putin. But its agit prop lives on.) And part of it is intellectuals. Those of you in the sf/f community where we all “think too much” know exactly what I’m talking about. Having staked out an extreme position, no one stays happy with it. You must prove how enlightened you are by claiming yet a more extreme position. This is why, btw, the Social Justice Warrying is now moving to “trans rights” which will render them irrelevant because those are a minority of a minority.

But this happens with everything, not just sex. So if we grant SOME positive rights, like say the right to a safe living place (how we keep it safe is something else) and food, next thing you know we’ll see articles on the plight of the poor who can’t take European vacations. Even though a lot of the employed and “wealthy” can’t either. But the argument would be they could if they chose to/spent all their money/put it on credit. While the poor can’t.

This is one of the reasons I’m against life imprisonment instead of the death penalty. I’ve seen this road in Portugal. First you say “we’ll lock them and throw away the key.” And next thing you know there are articles on the horrible punishment of being locked up for life, and are they really a danger when they’re old? Then it will be “Aren’t twenty years enough?”

I don’t know now, but when I came to the US the penalty for murder was about 7 years, with time off for good behavior. (Keep that in mind when they lament how many people are incarcerated in the US.)

So… How many “rights” plausible of interpretation do we want to “grant?” It starts with aid to women and children, and it ends up with subsidizing college and medical care for non citizens here illegally. This is a provable course of “positive rights” where the government grants you benefits at others’ expense.

And since “positive rights” is a proven normal thing for people to demand of their governing bodies (mostly because it looks like the money comes out of nowhere. They don’t have to see that they’re stealing someone’s savings or retirement fund. They just see “the government gave me this”) the only defense against them (THE ONLY defense against them) is to have a founding document that lays out the rules and is not easily revised. And one which points out there are very few things government as power over.

If government can change the rules at will, in an endless game of Calvin Ball, what you have Is not a country, but an ever changing dance where the partners move around but the government gets more and more power, no matter under what guise of benevolence, until the “law” is what government says.

That goes for easily revisable constitutions and it goes double with salt on it for the penumbras and shadows of the “Living Constitution.” You want to add Health Care to it? Or a right to privacy, for that matter, or even a right to Drugs, Sex and Rock and Roll? Fine. You stop peering into that venerable document like a fake seer into a glass ball and discerning shapes that were never there. Instead, you come out in the open and say “I want to change this” and “this is different.” And then – then – we can have a vote on it like civilized human beings. You might still blunder – the Prohibition, again – but at least it will be a common blunder.

This “Living Constitution” and “executive power” thing are tattered masks pulled over the Will To Power you know damn well your fellow citizens wouldn’t grant you.

Which of course is why you employ these.

Stop it. We can see your face. It’s old as sin and new as the Stalinist purges.

And we are not amused.


Still Alive

Okay, here’s what’s happening.

We’re moving stuff out of the house and starting to prepare it for sale.  So, I got a little side tracked and the blog didn’t get posted.  Rest assured I’m alive.

Beyond that — I’ve talked of being ill.  As a result of tests I got an anerobic infection, which is hopefully now gone.  At least I finished the world’s worst antibiotic (dizziness and nausea were strong side effects.)

However the tests while negative for the big bad indicate the big bad is on the way, as it were, so there will be an operation in a couple of months.

So, sorry, not posting a real blog today.

Sigh, I guess I’ll have to let you redecorate the blog until I can post a real blog tomorrow.  Until then, kindly don’t cause too much damage.  I hope I don’t find any more elephants crammed in the closet, and do try not to spray paint the elves again.  They hate it.

In the World of The Red Queen

How did we get here? And why is it so dark? And why does everything look so strange?

It’s not just that charming lady (I’m stretching a point, okay?) Tanya Cohen willfully claiming that having your speech restricted is true freedom of speech. Oh, no. I wish it were. That would be easy. We have places for people who confuse the meaning of words to that extent and who seem unable to reason their way enough to cross the street. Or, okay, not places, but at least medicines.

But the topsy-turvey nature of our present reality goes well beyond Tanya’s problems.

Take, for instance, how people say things, publically and in a way that seems to make them all proud of themselves, about how we should believe rape reports regardless of whether or not they’re true.

Or take how I’ve been accused of racism and white supremacism for pointing out present day Muslim culture is sick. (I didn’t say all Muslims subscribed to the culture, just that the culture in Muslim countries has issues that completely dwarf ours. Apparently it’s bad to be against female mutilation and stoning. Who knew?)

Or the way I was called transphobic for saying men and women are different, not just in external genitals but in internals, because the hormones shape brain development. This is something that no brain expert would dispute, and even I who am no brain expert can’t begin to dispute. But apparently saying this, saying that men and women have different equipment between the ears as well as between the legs is transphobic and homophobic to the point it caused someone to throw up on reading it.

This not only baffled me, it baffled one of the gay readers of this blog (and a friend) who pinged me to say “if men and women were alike inside, then how could anyone describe himself as a woman in a man’s body? And if men and women were exactly alike except for externals, why would anyone say they are gay – or straight for that matter? After all there are prosthesis and they’re not expensive.”

It’s a mystery, but apparently it’s a pattern of thinking, if you can call it that.

It is also racist to say our president has any issues, even though, you know, my lying eyes can’t help but seeing them and my problem with him is not the black but the red. (I have a cold war injury. I remember communism. It only hurts when I laugh. Fortunately I’m more likely to cry.)

Also I’m misogynist. Too many reasons to list, but it includes thinking women shouldn’t be given affirmative action because cream rises. And my thinking that being promiscuous is not mandatory for young females. And my thinking that having children is actually something most women aspire too. Oh, yeah, and my thinking that some women are morons. Granted, fewer women than men are morons. OTOH statistical distribution wise, there are more male geniuses. We women mostly cluster in the middle. There is also my firm belief that women often also have a dysfunctional culture in groups, and that the greatest enemy of female success are other women.

All this makes me misogynist to go with my racism and my transphobia and homophobia.

And all I can think is “Why are we here? How did we get here? Why is it so dark?”

Liberalism, the real kind, started off so well. It was all about allowing the individual to succeed and fail on his merits; allowing each person to determine what constituted his happiness; allowing people to speak freely and to practice whichever religion they liked, and to strive and earn or fail to earn, each to his capacity and inclination.

Why did we get to this place where suddenly we all have to be the same and the same we have to be is a white male (whatever the feminists say. Greatest case of raging penis envy ever. That’s why they hate women having children or wanting to be mothers) obsessed with work and casual sex and voting straight party democrat.

It’s dark in here. I think we’re up a duck’s bottom. Because up a duck’s bottom is the only way any of this would make any sense at all.

Now it’s bad to say criminals are bad. It’s bad to have a gun in self-defense. It’s bad to say communism was a bloody (literally) failure. It’s bad to believe our lying eyes and not the word of our betters.

And I want to scream. My middle fingers are screaming up.

What got us up the duck’s bottom was that some fluffy people went too far. If the individual was so important, it must be because we were all born saints. From that too comes the idea that if we’re not all succeeding it must be a systemic problem, not an individual decision.

And once Marx put the cap on that bit of madness, everything got subverted. Because if the capitalist system is the original sin that causes all human badness how can we condemn criminals? And if everyone should have equally good results, then there must be discrimination. And anyone who says that things are different, that some humans, even some classes of humans are, statistically, different from each other, anyone who says that communism and socialism are not moving us near to Earthly paradise, anyone who disagrees with any of that… well, they’re the culprit and should be destroyed.

This is enough to keep most people quiet while our current administration does things that punish our friends, empower our enemies and endanger the entire world.

After all the press reserves particular words for those who question the status quo and the received wisdom: evil, extreme, wing nut.

This is never applied to supporters of a system of governance that saw 100 million (a low estimate) into the grave. Instead it’s applied to the proponents of a system of limited government that has created the greatest prosperity and ease for the common man that this sorry globe has ever known.

And people stay quiet, in the main, because they’re afraid of being called names, of being hunted down, of having their reputation and livelihood destroyed for daring challenge the insanity.

Which is how we find ourselves living in the Red Queen’s world, where words mean what she says they mean and everything changes at random and only her majesty can dictate what is true.

As someone pointed out it’s like a child crossing a tile floor, who is beaten for stepping on a particular tile, which looks just like every other tile. And the fact he can’t tell the difference is what makes him so particularly evil. And this goes on till he admits he’s evil or he cowers on a corner of the room, with his hands over his head, sobbing.

Metaphorically speaking, there are a lot of us either admitting they’re evil to make the punishment stop, or hiding in a corner of the room, hands over head.

I could join them, I could. For a long time, I just stood in one square, paralyzed, afraid to move.

But the more this goes on, the more I become convinced that if we are LUCKY we’ll be called “the mad years” in future history books. If we’re unlucky we’ll be called the “pants on head running around making train noises years.” And if we’re really unlucky, we’ll end up not being called anything, because there will be no human civilization left on Earth to write books about us.

Which is why I refuse to just sit in a corner hands over head. It’s not because I don’t feel the madness around me. It’s not that I don’t get tired.

It’s because I want my children and my (at least my adopted) grandchildren to have a future. I want humanity to have a future.

So someone needs to point out the mad people are mad. And tell the sane ones:

Be Not Afraid! In the end, we win, they lose.

The future of humanity demands it.

Tell the Truth

And shame the devil used to be a well known proverb.

Now… ah, now things have changed. Now we’re treated to the spectacle of Tanya Cohen a “human rights” activist telling us that “hate speech” is against human rights, and that, therefore we should stop people from speaking freely.

In sentences that should make you fall on your knees – if you are an American citizen/resident – and pray to the divinity of your choice in joy and gratitude that you live in the – still, despite all – land of the free, she excoriates the United States for being the only one of the Western civ countries to have no laws against hate speech.

Mike Walsh raged at her, so I don’t have to. You should totally read his article.

I did not follow his link to her full rant, because, heaven help me, I don’t need to become the first verified case of spontaneous human combustion.

But one of the things he quoted from her, stuck in my craw, like something indigestible and possibly poisonous.

First up, yes, I do strongly believe in freedom of speech, and I’ve worked with many human rights organizations to protest against genuine restrictions on freedom of speech and expression, such as government crackdowns on LGBT activists in Russia. Freedom of speech is the core of all democratic societies, and it’s a freedom that must be upheld in the strongest terms possible. But the people responding to my column with anger do not seem to understand what freedom of speech is. They seem to make no distinction between free speech and hate speech, and they seem to believe that freedom of speech includes the freedom to say anything.

Does she read what she writes? Is there in fact in this woman the vaguest scintilla of self-awareness or the ability to reflect on the random thoughts that, like scintillating and meaningless flickers of consciousness cross her brain? Or is she just some sort of parrot repeating meaningless phrases that she lacks the capacity to realize are meaningless?

How could she possibly have come to the conclusion that there can be freedom of speech but it doesn’t mean “saying anything they want?”

What does she define as hate speech? How can she define hate speech? Is a Muslim speaking about how women should be subjected to male rule in everything committing hate speech? Or is the activist who denounces such a Muslim (should such “activist” exist, of course, which in the west, by and large doesn’t. Well, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is now in the west and she is such an activist, beautiful and brave, but almost alone.)

Who is to parse through the forest of hate speech? Who is to decide which of the wounding words are hate speech? Who is to come from heaven and give us the ultimate judgement?

Later on another quote gives us the clue to the puzzle.

I do believe that, one day, the US will indeed pass a Human Rights Act and/or a new anti-discrimination law to outlaw hate speech and other forms of speech which violate basic human rights. Those of us on the right side of history, meanwhile, will be writing columns like mine, while racist bigots continue to write angry comments speaking out against human rights.

And I do believe she’s full of Shiite, and also that that phrase “human rights” doesn’t mean what she thinks it means, since she thinks it means humans have a right not to be offended. But never mind that – or rather do – let’s concentrate instead on the absolute stupidity of “the right side of history.”

Can someone please tell this overgrown child that history is merely the recorded progression of human events, and that it has no sides, right or wrong. Oh, sure, the victor writes his side as right, but other than that, there is nothing that – as she believes – compels humans history towards the ‘progressive’ narrative she loves. Yeah, yeah, that old Fraud, that ridiculous ink stained blob of hate and bile Karl Marx thought that history came with an arrow. He also thought Communism was scientific, something he divined by the method of pulling it from his posterior since he was no kind of scientist.

Those “Human Rights” to honor and dignity and what have you that she’s so devoted to were a Soviet ploy foisted on the UN to give them the ability to criticize truly free countries on specious grounds.

Specious, you say?

Surely unlike little Tanya, you can think. What is honor? What is dignity? Define those concepts in absolute enough terms that they can be used in law.

Heck, we have years of argument on things such as “what is libel” and keep coming up dry to the point that different countries have different definitions of it.

Using the idea that if you offend anyone, you’ve committed a hate crime, you can silence anyone, stop any troublesome questioner, turn “justice” upside down and define it as “social justice” which is in fact injustice in which people can be held liable for the alleged crimes of people who look vaguely like them and who died well before they were born.

Again, what is a hate crime? Killing people, or pointing out that the killers’ twisted and atavistic culture advocates subjugation of all who thing differently? Mutilating young girls and forcing them to marry much older men against their will, or pointing out that certain cultures mutilate young girls and force them to marry much older men against their will? Raging and demanding a share of other people’s hard earned wealth? Or pointing out that the underclass brings itself to straits through lack of certain cultural virtues?

There isn’t an answer to this, because there is no such thing as “hate speech.” There is hateful speech, and some of it is despicable. Say, when people tell two women who are defending freedom of expression that they’re the worst person in the world.

Note though that even that didn’t hurt the two reprobates… er… women except by making them wonder how they can both be the world’s worst person.

However sometimes the speech that seems despicable turns out to have been necessary. And the speech that everyone thought was correct and right and on the right side of history (say, the whole racial superiority and Arian wonderfulness thing so popular less than a century ago) turns out to be crazier than worm sh*t and to lead to a whole lot of senseless death and destruction.

That Tanya never even contemplates that the ability to define “hate speech” is going to be in the hands of the ruling class, and that any restrictions at all on speech mean there’s a good chance those silenced will be people standing athwart metaphoric trains headed to ovens yelling “stop” means she doesn’t think in any significant sense of the word.

Like a well trained parrot she repeats what she’s been taught.

And it is because of her, and her imitators in our own field, those who define justice as injustice and gagging as freedom of speech that you and I have to continue screaming.

Screaming as loudly and offensively as we can that the king is naked.

No one has the right not to be offended. Sometimes the thing that hurts the most is the thing you most need to hear.

And sometimes the thing that hurts the most is just a hurtful thing – and you need to speak back and refute it.

What you don’t need to do is murder cartoonists. H*ll you don’t even need to murder Tanya Cohen. You just need to point and laugh at her until she slinks back under the totalitarian rock she crawled out from, and maybe uses her time in the moist darkness to do some thinking on her crimes against reason and her enabling of totalitarians.

Perhaps she’ll even realize that any speech that has constraints isn’t free.  Then she’ll stop being the sweat rag of totalitarian wanna-bes.

She — and us — will be the better for it.



We Are Not The World

I was seventeen the first time I packed a suitcase and headed off into the unknown by myself. (Well, technically with an exchange student group, but really by myself, because I hadn’t known any of those people long and wasn’t close to any of them.)

Even then, this wasn’t the first time I’d met different cultures or had to adjust my perception of the world.

This is because – heaven help me – I was born in a country so small that if you want to swing anything larger than a kitten, you have to have a passport. When my dad showed me Portugal on the globe when I was three, it was the size of his pinky nail.

And yet, as small as it is, it has fossilized cultures and subcultures. I thought I could speak normal every day Portuguese, until I found myself at six, in the classroom, realizing I had no clue what the standard word for bathroom was, because we didn’t use it around the house.

In fact, by the end of that year, I’d learned almost an entire second language. Add to that that written Portuguese was a different dialect than spoken Portuguese, and it was a year of acculturation. As was, six years later, when I went to school at a magnet school in what was called the “Hollywood” area of the big city next to the village, because it was where all the big mansions were. Again, there were different ways of behaving and being in the world.

But beyond that, every Summer Portugal gets infested with tourists, rather like my current city does. (How do you answer a tourist asking where Pikes Peak is? “First, you go to Pueblo.”)

Only these are foreign tourists. And since I was learning languages, I was doing translating to and from mostly English, but sometimes French and Italian from about the age of fifteen.

On top of that I read books. A lot of books that weren’t set in Portugal. Books set in England, the US, Australia, Romania, France, Poland.

All of which is to try to explain why half the time when I hear people talk about world politics, or about where we’re headed or about anything at all having to do with mass scale culture and culture change, with interactions between cultures, with individual reactions to cultural events, my back brain locks into a kind of “argh.” And that’s all I can think “argh.”

Look, perhaps it is a very bad thing that the most advanced culture of our time (us, the French just THINK they are) and the one with the most outsized influence, is a continent-spanning, relatively uniform (shush. Yeah, I know the differences. Shush) culture.

I find after living here for a few decades, I too am starting to think in terms of “the US is the world.”

The US isn’t the world. This is obvious, if you think about it a moment, but most people never do.

This is not just the other side of the political divide where they obsess about cataloguing just every kind of sexual orientation possible (and some impossible) and detail the rights for them, as though this is the way to the future… All the while sweetly unaware that in 99% of the world the notion is not just morally laughable, but laughable period. Most of the rest of the world isn’t rich enough to worry about such frills. They’re too busy surviving.

It is true for our side too, because the extreme Libertarians think that if the US stops caring about the rest of the world no one will attack us, which is a delusion that denies the rest of the world the right of free agency, free culture, and ways of thinking that are markedly different from ours. Meanwhile the small l libertarians and the conservatives, in their most despondent times talk about how the US is now a dictatorship or the equivalent, thereby revealing they know bloody nothing about dictatorships or even mild unpleasantness. (Oh, I think we should fight for every inch of liberty and individual determination taken from us, don’t get me wrong. But don’t go imagining we’re anywhere as bad as the rest of the world.)

And then there’s the international comparisons. Oh, sweet baby Buddha the international comparisons and studies.

I’ve mentioned before how seriously ya’ll take the numbers you get from abroad. You wouldn’t if you knew the fifty million ways they can be fudged, and are. Oh, not to fool you, but because other countries are really different.

Look, France has three kinds of “murder” and only one is counted as “murder-murder” in statistics, while we count it all as murder.

And Portugal – Oh, if I hear one more hopeful question about how great legalizing drugs in Portugal must be because look how arrests have pummeled… I’m going to remind the person how great Obamacare has been for job creation. Because now full time jobs are part time, so everyone works two jobs. Yeah. In the same way Portugal decriminalized drugs. That means there are fewer arrests for drugs. So… um… yeah. I’m not saying this might not be a good thing. I don’t live there, so I don’t know. Though the last time I was over it seemed to me they had a massive drug problem, kind of like here in the early seventies. BUT that was an impression, and I have no data. Neither does anyone else.

So why does all this upset me?

Well, it upsets me in books. Heinlein does it, but his future history provided for a sort of universal Americanization of the world. Most writers don’t. They just assume things are the same everywhere. In the future, we are using the same forms and fashions, the same demarcations of adulthood and accomplishment, as we do in the US now.

But more than that it upsets me in politics.

If the left stopped and thought for a moment, they would realize their “progress” is not actually proceeding everywhere in the same direction; it’s not starting from the same place; and the idea of an international society is a pipe dream.

However, it took Heinlein taking a world tour to fully get it. Before that he’d assumed, like most Americans, that it wasn’t that different. After his world tour, he understood that things like the UN can’t and won’t work because people had different aims, interests and specialties.

As for the right… I don’t think any of you realizes how close Europe is to snapping. We tend to judge them for ourselves, but the Charlie Hebdo thing bit deep, and they’re going through a sort of crisis of their own, anyway, before that.

And I don’t think anyone realizes just how different the texture of life is elsewhere.

If you did, you’d understand why America won’t be left alone. America is the clean, shoe-wearing kid in the playground. The fact he washed in the river and made his shoes himself, out of bark, won’t save him. On the contrary, because it means they too could have done it, if they’d tried. And then that kid is weird. Instead of believing in the sovereignty of blood, or of caste, it believes in this individuality and freedom thing.

So the other kids will keep poking. They have too. We’re too different.

Only by knowing how different we are can we be a model, instead of an irritation. Only by looking further than our little differences and our petty categorizing of wants can we get anywhere.

I’m minded of the story Heinlein told in Have Spacesuit, when the kid has government studies in school, and they all decide every kid must have his own room.

At which point the father points out the family with more kids than house can’t comply, no matter how much they might want to. So that can’t be mandatory, because it can’t happen.

I wish our elites, who dream of a multi-gendered, multi-accepting, transnational world understood the only way their world would work is every one in it is an American. No other culture is equipped to even consider those as needs. (Oh, the rest of the Anglosphere, maybe, but not like America.)

They are sophisticated, and they have friends abroad, and they’ve traveled.

But in their sophistication, they never realize they don’t see beyond the surface. They’re blinded by what they think they know and what they’ve been told is true.

Too blind to see the real amazing diversity of cultures out there. And the way in which they’re their own microcosmos, self-directed and capable of decisions we can’t control.

Maybe then they’d understand that hating America is hating the only hope for achieving everything they hold dear.

And maybe they’d start their civilizing process.

The Tight Rope Act — a blast from the past post from February 2011

*So you don’t worry — I am better.  Much better.  Unfortunately the antibiotic messes with my fluid balance which has given me headaches from beyond, so I’m putting this here from a few years ago.

Two interesting observations — I’d just “lost” a fledgeling when I wrote this.  No to the best of my knowledge he’s not dead — it’s been a few years — but I couldn’t get him to understand the difference between stories you tell yourself and stories you tell the world.  In the end, he preferred his inner narration and refused to shape it in a way others might be interested.  This memory was revived recently by a certain obsessive author that some of my fans/friends have tangled with.  The thing is, they keep thinking this man is especially crazy or dangerous, but my feeling is “there but for the grace of G-d go I — and every other professional writer. Sometimes I think the miracle is that we DO pull away sufficiently to write stuff others want to read.”

The Tight Rope Act — a blast from the past post from February 2011

When I was very little and very sickly, before I learned how to read much less write, I spent the time I was kept alone, indoors, while recovering from some dread awfuls, making lego houses. It came naturally, after that, to make up stories about the people who lived in the lego houses.

After a while, learning and listening to adults became a mission of finding facts and “how things work” to incorporate into my stories. Some of the story lines and some of the characters have been with me in one form or another since then.

Needless to say I started writing stories as soon as I could write for a long time without discomfort – about six. But the “untamed” story lines, the ones that I told myself, continued in the background. And some of these people became as real to me as my best friends.

Right here I want it to be perfectly clear I don’t hear voices and I don’t see things. Having just watched Harvey, this is an important distinction to make. The only way I see things others don’t is if my fever is through the roof (and then mostly I see cartoon characters. Don’t ask. Tom and Jerry, yep) or if I take anything morphine-based, which seems to have a disproportionate effect on me, which is why I don’t take it unless the pain is truly unbearable. (Unbearable – can’t stop either crying or throwing up JUST from the pain.) Then I see Tom and Jerry speaking Latin to each other. (You wish I was joking. You’re just jealous because you don’t have the high class hallucinations we published authors get.)

This is not auditory or visual or any of that type of input. I’ve HEARD some writers have those. I’ve read The Evolution Of The Bicameral Mind. But that’s not what I’m talking about.

My storylines and characters exist in the same space as the “constant internal narration.” If you have no clue what I’m talking about, you’ve never stepped back and thought about it. There is a voice, always, inside your head telling you who you are. That voice sometimes takes on multiple tones and allows you to debate things with yourself. “No, I shouldn’t go to the store, because” “But I need to go to the store.” Etc. there’s also the times it replays arguments you had, or conversations where you’re not sure you got your point across. The story lines and characters are sort of like that, only these conversations never happened in the real world. Yet, it has the same feel. I.e., I can’t just change a character or what he/she says, just like I can’t just change what my mom told me when I was three. I’ve always figured it’s because my subconscious is a MUCH better writer than I am and creates this stuff without asking me about it. Usually I find the characteristics that bugged me about a character or a situation are needed – at least if these characters/situations are in an actual story (more on that later.)

From what I’ve found, I’m not unique in this. Most, if not all writers, have this going on in their heads. Some with one world, some with several, some with a world that’s much like our own, some with wildly alien lands. Some writers even have the full blown auditory/visual thing going.

Which brings me to why I’m writing this. Most of us who have this in ANY degree think we’re completely alone and possibly insane. My first clue I was not totally alone was when I read an interview with Rex Stout, when someone asked him how Nero Wolfe was doing, and Stout was able to give him the exact place Wolfe was, what he was reading, etc. as though Nero lived next door. After that, I became a member of a tightly knit writers’ group and found I wasn’t alone.

I still have the two or three “primitive” and hyper extended story lines going on in my head, but these days I tend to shove them to the back. I’ve learned to put my peculiarity in service of my art, and I USE that in the service of my writing. If a character never comes alive – and yes, I’ve had those – and the scenes don’t start playing themselves out in my head – including scenes I’d NEVER put in the book but which explain actions in the book – then the book is very difficult to write. To date I’ve done three that way, and I’m not going to tell you which, because I don’t think you can tell. It was just hell to write. And I have had one set of books in which only ONE character came to life. The others were “placers”. This is strikingly obvious and reviewers have noted it.

In addition, I have stories that come to my head by means of a fully formed character wanting to discuss things. This is why walking, ironing and repetitive tasks are ideal for coming up with story ideas. The mind goes somewhere else.

Again, I assume – and it’s the only explanation I can come up with – that as a result of my boring, lonely childhood my mind learned to amuse itself by playing chess between my conscious and my subconscious. My subconscious sets up the board, as it were, and throws up these situations and creatures for the conscious to play with. This is also not a bad analogy by the way on how to control it, survive it and use it.

So, why am I telling you this? Well… there are several reasons.

First of all, there is a huge possible trap for new writers who are of the type I am – people who want to write because the stories won’t leave them alone.

If you think of your world as pretty toys, spun out by your subconscious to amuse YOU particularly, you’ll understand how fascinating these stories are to the people who created them. Most of them, once they become hyperextended over years partake a lot of the characteristics of soaps, or even Lost (coff.) People die. People come back to life. Bizarre and purposeless stuff happens. But because these are designed to catch YOU and they are aimed specifically at you, you’ll remain fascinated. If your particular angle is sex, your plots will have tons of sex. Mine had/has tons and tons of medical details – because I grew up in a family with a lot of doctors and absorbed a lot of the interest, even if I never wanted to do it myself. These days mine also have a ton of start up businesses, economics and new inventions, because those subjects fascinate me.

For new writers, who are afraid to talk to anyone about it, the danger is that they will get caught in the first world they (subconsciously) created and which to them is so immensely fascinating. ANYONE who has been in a writers’ group for any time knows the “eternal beginner” who writes story after story after story in a world that is obviously NOT commercial by anyone else’s standards – a world that’s so targeted or so icky or so bizarre that you know no one else will ever buy it. But the writer remains trapped. If you read Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett, and examine the dromes, these are something like it. The dream catches you to feed the dream. If you go on in it, you’ll never be published (more on why this is important later) and you and the drome will eventually die together.

The type of writer who does this type of story usually has ABSOLUTELY no control over them, either. You start noticing after a while, that their stories partake this dream-like and formless quality and it’s not unusual, if you approach them, to be told that “it happened that way.” That means they’re being used by the subconscious, instead of using it. It’s one of the many ways potentially great authors die on the vine.

Worse, with the advent of self publishing as economically feasible and THE way to get in, a lot of these writers will churn out endless novels that two people read, and go quietly insane, never understanding why they don’t sell more.

So what can you do about it?

1– (Sorry to use Pratchett as a guide here, but the man presumably knows what this is like.) Always remember which voice is yours, there inside your head. This is very important because it’s easy to become fascinated by a character and let it take over. I wonder how many of the cases of “possession” or personality disorders are just that.

Remember that your mind is yours. For whatever reason, you created this mechanism to cope with reality. Perhaps like me you were just bored and lonely. Or perhaps, like others, the situation was unbearable and you escaped it.

You might not even remember the circumstances, but do, please, remember, you are you — the other “voices” are just stories wanting to be told.

2- Seize the story, instead of the other way around. Yes, okay, people getting complex operations to repair bizarre injuries might be endlessly fascinating to you. Understand it’s not fascinating to most people. Your world might marry high tech and a neolithic society, because at the time you created it you had clue zero how that stuff worked. Understand you can’t use it that way in a story, unless you explain it. Then deliberately intervene. “No, it didn’t happen that way, it happened this way.” Give the story form, shape it (studying stories that worked commercially helps, here) and write it as a commercial story. You’ll find this helps too. Once it’s out there, in commercial form, it will cease to obsess you. Though you’ll probably get others and have to write them too…

3- Take a clue from stories about possession (I believe a lot of them centered on this type of mechanism) and bring in more devils to drive out that one devil. Weirdly, this does work. By conjuring up a lot of different stories (not in the same world) it divides your subconscious’ ability to create lures for you. That means each story line will be SLIGHTLY less fascinating to you, personally, and you’ll take better control of it.

4 – Publish it. Eric Flint has been known to say that if you’re not crazy when you become a writer, you’ll be by the time you’re a professional. He says this is not so much because we have to work with imagination at a level kids do, but because we live such solitary isolated lives, in which weird thoughts and ideas can seem perfectly plausible. It is the same with your world. You must expose it to the sunshine of other people’s minds. All the unpublished, cherished, obsessed upon worlds I know grow in “ick” factor. It’s the nature of the beast to make itself even more targeted and push more buttons. Which means “more insane” and also “would cause more readers to run screaming into the night” And, UNFORTUNATELY more importantly “will distort my sense of reality till I start reacting oddly to real life.” You must make it passable enough for other people to read. And this will allow you to control you own obsessions and move on.

As writers, we’re creatures who shape dreams. To some extent these dreams also shape our lives. We must walk that fine line every day. I hope this will help people stay on it, without falling into either side.

Thoughts from a Military Mom – Amanda Green

Thoughts from a Military Mom – Amanda Green


Yesterday, during a conversation with my son, the conversation turned as it does so often to the military. I had seen an article a day or so earlier from someone who suggested we do away with our military academies. According to the author of the article, the academies are not filled with the best and the brightest. They no longer prepare our officers for the rigors of command. What they are, he alleges, are drains on the tax dollar and underproductive. You see, as far as this person is concerned, the military does well at training but not at education.

Now, I’ll admit, I don’t particularly like the admission process for the service academies. If you or your family doesn’t have political clout, it becomes extremely difficult to gain admittance, no matter what your academic record or military career goals. Each year, a number of appointments go unfilled because the politicians simply don’t use their allotted numbers. Worse, many of the politicians don’t let those students applying for one of their allotted slots know if they have made the final cut for consideration or not.

In short, the application process is flawed.

But what really got to me about the article is that the author of it, who happens to be an instructor at the Naval Academy (but not, if I remember correctly, a member of the military). Worse, his whole emphasis was that it is up to the Republicans to change the system since they are the ones who are so worried about our tax dollars. The Republicans are to reach across the aisle and take care of this horrible problem. The Republicans will be at fault if they do nothing and we keep spending tax dollars on the academies.

Funny, did the academies become a problem only after the Republicans regained the majority of Congress or is this sour grapes? My bet is on sour grapes.

Or maybe it has something to do with the Moon or the water or something else. After all, not long before reading that article (which appeared in Salon and that, in itself, say a lot) I heard a commentary about another article concerning the service academies. This other article apparently condemned the academies because they – gasp – made their cadets do late night exercises and pushed them hard, not only physically but in their studies. They interrupted the sleep of the cadets at times to run surprise exercises. They didn’t give the cadets as much free time as students at “real” colleges” got.

In short, the academies were mean and didn’t let their cadets get a good night’s sleep every night.

My first thought upon hearing this was a long and loud “WTF?!?” Then I found myself wondering if the person so upset that cadets might be awakened in the middle of the night to go on a run or something similar had the same concerns about fraternities and the pranks they pull on their pledges. But fraternities are allowed to do this, I guess, because they are social organizations and booze.

My son’s reaction, much like mine, was quick and explosive. My son, who is currently serving in the military, is not a graduate of one of the service academies. In fact, he is one of those who tried to get in but we didn’t have the political clout and, worse, one of our senators was notorious for not using all of her appointments – and she failed to do so the year my son applied. No, my son is a proud Texas Aggie and member of the Corps of Cadets. The Corps that has trained up more flag rank officers than any other college except the service academies.

With all their faults, the service academies do serve a purpose. They help forge the officers that will lead our military. Part of that process is throwing things at the cadets that they aren’t expecting. Wars aren’t fought on an 8 to 5 schedule. The enemy doesn’t give you a schedule of their movements and plans, making sure you have time to respond. So why should we not make sure those we want to command the troops that will respond to the threat of enemy action are able to adapt to any situation?

Despite the Salon author’s contention that ROTC programs can give a future officer everything he or she needs to be an effective officer, that’s simply not the case. There is a reason why graduates from the service academies, and colleges like Texas A&M where organizations like the Corps of Cadets exist, produce more senior officers than any other programs. Members of the A&M Corps of Cadets are immersed in the military lifestyle and mindset just as students at the military academies are. They live and breathe that sort of life or they get out. So, unless you are going to make sure more colleges put together successful programs like TAMU, the dissolution of the military academies as anything more than short term training programs will be detrimental not only to the military but to this country as well.

All that said, change does need to come to both the service academies and to the military as a whole. Admission to the academies needs to put less emphasis on political clout and more an ability and the desire to make the military more than a one hitch commitment. The military needs to police itself better and it needs to be given the freedom to actually accomplish the missions put to it. If we enter into a firefight or a war, we need to go in with the attitude that we are going to win it, not just hold the line or push back the enemy while we train someone else to take over.

In other words, we let the military do what it does best. We don’t tie our commanders’ hands because war might get messy. It is war. People die, whether we like it or not. There will be collateral damage, especially when the enemy has no qualms about hiding in the middle of civilian neighborhoods.

Instead of tearing down the military academies, we need to tear down the artificial sensibilities that the SJW crowd has imposed on the conduct of war. There was a time when the world respected our military and knew that if the commander-in-chief mobilized our forces, butts were about to be kicked. That is no longer the case. The enemy knows we won’t be swift with reprisals and we sure won’t come in and finish the fight. What the SJWs refuse to admit is that, as long as this is the mindset, more people will die, innocents will die because we aren’t there to protect them.

And, no, those innocents won’t all be citizens of other countries. Don’t believe me? Look at the number of Americans who have died or been kidnapped who are non-military but who have been taken by our enemy simply because they are American.

And because the enemy knows we won’t do a damned thing about it.

As a mother with a son in the military, it scares the crap out of me to think we might one day be in a war where my son could be in danger. Then the realist in me realizes he already is simply by being American. He doesn’t have to be in the military to be in danger from those who hate our country. But, because he is in the military, he is at least trying to do something to keep our country safe. That’s more than a lot of folks can say.

Yes, I’m pissy this morning. I’m tired of seeing our politicians bow their heads and stick their tails between their legs when it comes to people who want to see our country fall. I’m sick of seeing Washington do nothing when our countrymen are murdered by ISIS and their ilk. I’m sick of seeing our leaders insult countries that are our allies by not supporting them in their time of need. (BTW, where was our president yesterday? Was he watching football or playing golf instead of being in Paris? If he couldn’t go, why didn’t the VP or Secretary of State? If the heads of Germany, Israel, even the Palestinian states could be there to show their solidarity with France, why couldn’t we have someone there, someone more than an ambassador?)

The answer to our problems isn’t to do away with the military academies. Yes, we need to cut federal spending but cutting military budgets and doing away with the service academies is not the answer. Instead of advocating further neutering our military, perhaps the Salon author ought to remember the words of John F. Kennedy when he said:

“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.

“My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.”

In other words, reform is needed not at the service academy level but at the social services level where we are now seeing generations of families on welfare. Service to the country can take many forms. It isn’t limited to the military but, in my opinion at least, that is a pretty damned good place to start.


The Need for Trauma

*First of all, apparently my doctor is right and the current flare up is an infection, ironically caused by the exam. The antibiotic is working, but because it’s horse-dosage it’s bringing issues of its own, mostly nausea and stomach pain. Also I slept too much so was late with the first dose and I do feel it.*

The Need for Trauma

Look, I’m not one of the people who denies the existence of real PTSD. All of us who were either in sudden, horrible conditions (well, getting shot at even in a crowd leaves a mark) or who lived in stressful conditions for years (eh. Twice) have the marks. They might be as little as my horror of either being in a “bowl” that people could shoot from higher buildings for any length of time, or my discomfort sitting with my back to the street. The later, I can at this point steel myself to do, but I’m still “not myself” which is why the boys and Dan visually pick the corner seat for me in any restaurant.

People who had experiences a thousand times worse than mine, have other problems. I’ve heard of men who don’t dare share a bed with their wives, for fear of what a touch in the middle of the night might bring forth in retaliation before they wake enough to control themselves. And others, you probably have heard about also.

It wouldn’t surprise me if the people who watched/heard the Charlie Hebdo murders have reactions the rest of their lives.

This is the result of a useful evolutionary trait. When you almost died but didn’t, your brain imprints the situation so you can avoid it. Think of Great Grandma Og picking berries and grabbing the tail of the tiger. Not making that mistake again might be very important for us being here. Ie she didn’t get eaten that time, but also didn’t get eaten the next time, when she was carrying a baby and couldn’t move as fast.

However these mechanisms are stupid. They don’t distinguish what makes the situation difficult. What they imprinted for grandma Og might be “don’t touch anything moving in the bush” so that when the wind rustled the leaves, she needed to close her eyes and take a moment. (Which is how she died. While she was closing her eyes, the terror chicken leapt and…)

So for me triggers are actually large gatherings of people compressed together in a mass and tall overlooking buildings. In the same way, unlike my sister in law who can NOT hear champagne popped without freaking, I don’t even have a problem with back fires UNLESS I’m in a keyed up state for other reasons (like an approaching election) in which case you’ll find me under the nearest truck, or pressed against a doorway.

Firearm sounds DO give me an issue, which makes range time… negotiated.

Anyway – the point is that the imprinting stress has to be EITHER so sudden and violent and “OMG, I almost died” that it imprints, or it’s not so much PTSD but a series of learned responses. The abused child flinches from the raised hand, because he learned, over time, to avoid a slap. This is the same as my tendency for years to throw whatever I was reading under the nearest piece of furniture because mom raised an unholy ruckus at my wasting time reading. PTSD? No, in that case learned behavior.

In either case, I can read about people being gunned down from a height. Most veterans can read articles about the war. What some might not be able to read is vivid, well written descriptions of things they lived through.

I’m not going to tell anyone how to cope with their trauma.

I have friends who went through years of abuse and who can’t read fiction where someone is in a position of abuse (spouse or child.) They can’t do it, because if vivid enough it makes them relive it.

These same people CAN read and write non-fiction on the subject, though, and often do.

What I’m trying to say here is that real PTSD exists, but triggering it is both easier and harder than is portrayed in the media.

And it is both easier and harder than the assumptions of people who want to claim “victimhood on the cheap.”

In a culture where being a victim of something is the ultimate status that prevents you from being chided or blamed for anything and which might get you special treatment depending on where and when you are, I can see why so many people want that status.

All the same, when people demand trigger warnings for scholarly texts describing abuse; or even more weirdly demand warning for things like mentioning small holes or spiders – we’ve reached the point of silly.

And then I noted, among the younger people, a tendency to use trigger as “makes me uncomfortable.” So you get “So and so triggers me.” Or “political discussion triggers me.” Or even “Saying communism doesn’t work triggers me.”

I think it’s important to understand that there is a difference between “I hate this/that” and triggers me.

Can someone trigger you? Absolutely. In the one significant trauma of my childhood (childhood is a series of traumas. That’s how we grow. But some are out of the ordinary, unexpected and leave scars) being what used to be called “interfered with” by a family friend, I had reactions to his presence or the smell of his cigars so strong that it would make me throw up. (And I am one of those people who has trouble throwing up even when she needs to.) Because my parents didn’t believe/figure it out (I didn’t tell dad because he’d kill the man, and mom has one of those minds who can’t believe people will do what she, herself, has no inclination to do. So it wasn’t till the man died a few years ago and his daughters talked that mom and dad figured it out) he visited the house fairly frequently till I was about seventeen, so if I saw his car up front, I’d take a detour and stay at my best friend’s through the night. (Even though AFAIC remember, I was too old for him at 12, and certainly by fourteen.) Even with me not thinking about it, and his not doing anything, my body would react with the full panoply of stress markers to the point it was impossible to be in the same house with him.

But the sense in which I’ve heard this used by the younger people is “I had an argument with my friend and now she triggers me.” That’s not triggering. That’s just being uncomfortable and finding a way to make the waters of social interaction smooth enough to navigate.

In the same way, the color red doesn’t trigger you, unless it was present when you were nearly killed. And the smell of cinnamon apple doesn’t trigger you if the worst thing you associate with it was that morning mom yelled at you while you ate it.

That sort of trauma is the “growing trauma” kind. Look, we’re all born not as noble savages but as nasty little savages with no boundaries. I remember myself pretty young, which means I remember my friends too. And I’ve raised kids. They will do the most appalling things because they don’t know they’re appalling. And they’re born with one prerogative: make sure I’m comfortable and taken care of.

For instance older son came from the hospital convinced (he was born in a small university hospital and we stayed for two weeks, because I was too ill to go home. For most of that time he was the only child there, being carried around 24/7 by nurses and attendants) that he would be catered to every hour of the day or night. Learning not to wake us when we slept came through our not picking him up when he screamed all night. Learning to give a d*mn that mom and dad got some rest and weren’t stumbling zombies came even later, through painful situations (like having a brother) that taught him he was not the center of the universe.

What I’m trying to say is that if you don’t expose a child to some discomfort, starting as an infant, if you cater to his every whim and do everything to stop him crying/being upset, the child will never grow up.

Unfortunately our methods of raising children, both the “no physical punishment” church (yes, of course it is possible to raise a child with no physical punishment. But before they’re three or so, a mild slap on the butt saves hours of countering attempts to do the dangerous thing, not to mention screaming fits when physically restrained) and the necessity for most parents of putting the child in daycare as soon as daycare will take the baby mean that children aren’t exposed to PURPOSEFUL discomfort.

Daycares can’t afford in our litigious society to target a kid’s behavior for a week or so and make it really uncomfortable till they quit it. And I can think of ten instances where I needed to do that – and my kids were relatively easy – from bad habits like sucking your thumb to the tendency to want things exactly the same way day after day. I had to target the child, pay close attention and make his life impossible if he did it. (Most of the time this meant scolding and or pulling the sucked thumb away. Or threatening to take away their computer cord.)

The kids didn’t like it, and I liked it less than they did, and supposing a daycare had enough personnel and detailed a person to follow little Timmy around pulling his thumb from his mouth and yelling, how do you think little Timmy’s parents would react when learning these people targeted their precious child for that kind of surveillance.

Most public-raising of kids seems to operate on moderating behavior that affects them, ignoring what doesn’t affect them (as a daycare, or a school) and never making the kid uncomfortable enough to change, just cunning enough not to do it in public.

The amazing thing is that, raised that way, most people are still more or less functional. (Yes, we do get the ferals too, but in proportion to the population, not that many.)

But from all the “you trigger me” and “I was triggered by a discussion of snow storms by two weathermen, because I was very cold once, as a child” that the number of them who aren’t shams, the number who in fact experience debilitating symptoms, experience them because whatever mechanism records truly threatening/mind shattering experiences is broken.

If you’re raised without your level of discomfort approaching what was normal for most human childhoods for oh, most of the twentieth century – which in relation to the rest of history is already immensely pampered – you’re going to experience any discomfort as a huge trauma.

Think of it as being raised in a bubble. The first time you come out and catch the common cold, you’re going to be extremely ill, even though the people around you are shrugging off the sniffles, and making fun of yours.

Now imagine one of the kids raised in this emotional bubble, where no one is allowed to even say anything mean (because the daycare manages interpersonal conflict, to keep trouble to a minimum) to them. The real world – a boss’s scathing comments; friends who don’t invite you to a party; your artwork being less than admired – is going to seem like a series of kicks in the teeth. This is probably, partly, where the concept of micro aggressions comes from.

Something like being raped? You’ll never recover from it, never, never, never. In fact you can’t imagine other people recovering, even though we have examples all around of people who suffered horrible violations/attacks and lived happy lives afterwards, without flinching every time “rape” is mentioned. In fact, you might overreact so much that you react to a bad date as others do to rape.

So – the best thing you can do for your kids? Don’t make their lives too easy.

And if you were raised in a bubble and want to be normal? Go and read great stories of survival. Be aware of things like the survivors of Hitler’s death camps coming to America and building normal and prosperous lives. That is human resilience and more normal, throughout a human history filled with horrors, than your overreaction to everything. So be aware of what normal is and aim for it. It will hurt. Changing behavior hurts for everyone. Humans are creatures of habit. Fortunately given enough will power, humans can also do just about anything. Steel yourself and try it.

And for those excusing things like the Charlie Hebdo massacre because they were really mean to Muslims. Pah. You are no friend of Muslims. Part of the issue with Islam is that it hasn’t been hardened in a pluralistic society.

Except for oil, their lands are utter backwaters, and don’t attract immigration or a lot of mingling. They’ve been able to keep the barbaric laws all religions tried at some time, that said “no believers in another religion allowed.”

So there’s been no disputation, no argument. And their holy book guarantees that they’re superior and that everyone would believe like them, if the person were good. Yes, most holy books do so, but in their case, growing up in the midst of communities who all believed this, they can’t imagine anyone arguing.

When they move out to the real world, you know, the greater world with believers in other holy books or in nothing at all, they can’t process people making fun of their prophet or religion as anything but a deliberate slap in the face. So they react as a kid who has been mollycoddled from childhood would to being told he’s ugly and his mother dresses him funny. Even if it happens to all the other kids, to him it’s new and horrible. He can’t process it, so he reacts with violence against self or against others.

The way to stop these outbursts is not to apologize to Muslims for the mean things the “right wing” is saying. The way to stop these outbursts is for everyone to turn on them and tell them “this is beyond the pale and unacceptable. This is not how you win respect among civilized people.”

The way to stop it for everyone to mock them, until they realize this is normal, and reacting to cartoons with violence only makes them despicable, not feared.

For their own good, we must do this.

Because what we’re doing right now is like Heinlein’s description in Starship troopers of how not to raise a dog (or a child.) Every time they commit an atrocity the useful idiots go into overdrive explaining how they didn’t mean it and the victim had it coming, whether the victim is Israel or French cartoonists.

They’re appeased and allowed to feel they’re special, and there’s nothing they should change.

Lulled in this way, sooner or later a particularly gifted idiot among them is going to do something that takes out a city or a hundred thousand innocents in a western city (has to be. Look, no one is talking about Nigeria.)

And then suddenly and horribly the west will turn on them and there WILL be massacres. The US might take longer, but my sense is Europe is pretty close to this now.

This is like babying a dog, and never telling him he shouldn’t go in the house and then when he’s a full grown dog and makes a mess, you take him out and shoot him.

Dogs, children and entire peoples learn by trauma. The ideal situation is where you provide enough little traumas that the creature, person, people can live in the greater world without causing the rest of the world to want them dead badly enough.

Too much kindness is not kind. That way lies death for dog or child or entire cultures.


The Problem of Pain

This post isn’t an extended whine. I say this because otherwise it might sound uncommonly like it.

But it’s not. It’s actually more of a “uh, my body doesn’t work as planned.”

Also, this post isn’t about my sons, when it would be “the problem of pains.” Not that they are pains, I mean. By and large they’re surprisingly decent human beings, but having that many people in the house interferes with my writing. Actually I’ve determined having anyone but Dan around interferes with my writing. There’s no explanation for this. At any rate, that’s not what the post is about.

I’ve been trying to finish Through Fire for… well, two years. But the last two months, I’ve known exactly every step needed to finish it (which didn’t happen before because this is the least communicative character ever, as far as talking to her creator.) In fact I thought I could finish it, and Darkship Revenge and do the dragon books before Christmas. And I should have been able to, except…

Except writing even a little made me exhausted.

I came up with my usual lame excuses: I’m not focusing; perhaps it’s this book (not unlikely. I’ve had books – no, I’m not going to tell you which – where my brain turned off and I fell asleep while trying to write. No, I wasn’t bored and they’re not stupid. It was like an allergic reaction); I’m getting older—

It wasn’t until this week, when the pain became so bad that I also didn’t want to do other things like… walk down the hallway, and that I felt like I had the flu, even though I THOUGHT I’d slept (think exhausted doze, but never full deep sleep) that I realized something was wrong.

It’s like this – because of an issue with my caesarean (only had one. Second son was born normally) where it was botched, I often – depending on hormones – go through periods of low level pain. Low level as in “Wake up in the middle of the night being gnawed on by rabid weasels” – okay. Not LOW level, but normal for someone who had the same issue, and there are a few of them my age. A lot of them apparently are on prescription for chronic pain, but I have strange reactions to opiates. How strange? Well, one of the normally prescribed pain meds makes me see and hear evil singing lizards. So. Also there is some indication morphine makes me write vampire stories. I wonder if that’s listed in some toxicology. Most of them, though, just make me extremely dizzy and nauseous, to the point that, while recovering from a broken bone, I chose not to take painkillers, because the side effects were WAY worse than just being in pain.

So for two/three years I’ve convinced myself the rabid weasels are just part of life, and I’m okay. And it works, largely.

I have this ability that other people don’t seem to have, to tell pain “noted, now go away” and turn off that part of the brain. This is very useful for things like long-distance running.

Anyway – I’m getting to that age, and things have been… odd, and I’m being looked at because of other odd things, though there doesn’t seem to be any reason to worry, they tell me – and I didn’t notice, not really, that I was spending a lot of time awake in the night going “ow” which in turn caused a lot of sleeping during the day when I was supposed to be writing.

But it’s more worrisome than that. Apparently with this particular pain, at some point my “go away now” stopped working, and it was back, except that my conscious brain refused to acknowledge it. What this meant is that I was trying to work against pain.

This is possible – if exhausting – while ironing and sewing (And those of my friends who were promised sewing projects for xmas gifts – they’ll be late, because of that) but it seems to lead to VERY short bursts of writing punctuated by long “I’m looking for something to distract me” bits.

The good news – yes, it IS good – is that the pain got too strong that I can’t be distracted from it, which means I know it’s there whether writing or reading random news, which militates in favor of writing, which I enjoy more. Also, now I know it’s there and it’s OW, I can do things like take “so strong I can’t think” pain meds before going to bed. Far enough before going to bed that when I go to bed I sleep.

This means that I’m more rested than I’ve been in months, even if I am still in pain and pain has a “work load” of its own. I.e. there’s a reason they call childbirth labor and it’s not just the pushing – it’s the pain.

What this means: I’m writing again, and it’s actually going well for more than 400 words at a time. OTOH sometimes, because the stupid pain killer is six hours, I take a second and go back to bed, so this blog might be late some days. For my family it means that this week I’ve decided house cleaning is way too much effort. I hope the boys do it this afternoon, but if not they’ll have to learn to live in filth. Tough.

What it means going forward: We still have no idea what is causing the pain. Judging by today, the doctor’s guess is wrong. I’d like to believe it’s psychological, because then I could stop it, but I don’t think it is, because it only rounds on me when I’m not noticing. The most scary of the possibilities appears to be eliminated, so it might simply be a combination of “botched caesarean plus hormonal ratchet down of normal at my age.” Logically it shouldn’t do this, but when has my body been logical?

There is a chance of surgery (if it’s secondary not-lethal thing) with a long recovery period in my future. I’m trying to figure it out so that if needed it doesn’t come before this book (please G-d) is delivered, and doesn’t interfere with Liberty con.

What this means for you guys: Be patient with me. Particularly the subscribers, but the rest of you as well. If I promised you something – a book, a blog, to put up your guest blog, a t-shirt, whatever – and haven’t delivered, ping me. I’m not a ditz but apparently fighting constant pain even when low level (which it’s not now) is like a mind wipe, and I keep “dropping” things. I’m trying to get organized, but I never needed planning before. So, don’t assume I’m weaseling/don’t want to deliver. PING me. You won’t annoy me. And be aware it might take pinging me every week for a month because, mind of a minute.

And be a little patient on the dragon series. It’s still there. Still wants to come out. I’m just fulfilling obligations to Baen first, and then it gets written and subscribers read it before it goes to Toni (my publisher at Baen) promise.

I’m okay. It’s nothing lethal. It’s just annoying pain eating what little mind I had. No big. People LIVE for decades with much worse, and if it comes to that, I’m sure I can get used to it and do so. BUT for now, it’s scrambling me a little.

This too shall pass.

Oh, and what I mean by this post is for you to know what is going on.  One of the things I found out is that I was snapping at my family for minor things, which normally wouldn’t be a problem.  I try not to do that in comments, but if I do, know where I’m coming from  AND I don’t want you to think it’s the WORST possible stuff.  AFAWCT this is by no means life-threatening.  Just annoying.

The last two years I’ve been a bit ditsy, but right now other than finishing the books, I’m going to be REALLY ditsy.  Also, when on the pain killer, spelling is… artistic.  I hope you cut me some slack.


The Almost Weekly Promo Post – Free Range Oyster

*There will be post later (probably) — for now, I forgot to put my book prices back up (what? I’ve been in pain!) so the novels with Goldport are still at holiday promo price: Witchfinder, No Will but His, the Magical Shakespeare series and all the Musketeer Mysteries.  Witchfinder is 3.99, all the rest are 2.99.  I’m going to raise the prices sometime today, so if you haven’t inflicted er… given my books to someone of your acquaintance, today would be a good time.

I will, everything going well, resume free chapters next week.*

The Almost Weekly Promo Post – Free Range Oyster

Greetings, and welcome back to the kinda-sorta-almost-weekly Promo Post! After receiving nothing last week, I’ve a haul for you this week. In related news, I’ve had a code project in the works for a few weeks now that’s nearly ready to share with you. I’ve created a handy repository for all the books that have been submitted to the Promo Post in the past. It’s functional and ready to go, all the fun code stuff finished (Angular.js is a blast to work with), I just have to do all the tedious data entry now. Heaven willing and the creek don’t rise, it’ll be up to speed in the next few days and I’ll throw you all a link. For now, go read some good books, share them with your friends, and make sure to leave useful reviews. As always, future entries can (and should!) be sent to my email. Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and four is just too, too many – I’m going to take a nap now.

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.

Duty from Ashes

Honor and Duty Book 2

Duty calls. Honor demands action.

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

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

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

Ellie Ferguson

Hunter’s Home

Hunter’s Moon Book 3

They say you can never go home. That’s something CJ Reamer has long believed. So, when her father suddenly appears on her doorstep, demanding she return home to Montana to “do her duty”, she has other plans. Montana hasn’t been home for a long time, almost as long as Benjamin Franklin Reamer quit being her father. Dallas is now her home and it’s where her heart is. The only problem is her father doesn’t like taking “no” for an answer.

When her lover and mate is shot and she learns those responsible come from her birth pride and clan, CJ has no choice but to return to the home she left so long ago. At least she won’t be going alone. Clan alphas Matt and Finn Kincade aren’t about to take any risks where their friend is concerned. Nor is her mate, Rafe Walkinghorse, going to let her go without him.

Going home means digging up painful memories and family secrets. But will it also mean death – or worse – for CJ and her friends?

Mary Catelli

Over the Sea, To Me

A novelette retelling an old ballad.

A castle of marvels, by the sea – full of goblins and sprites. Many young
knights come in search of adventures, and leave in search of something less

A knight brave enough to face it could even woo the Lady Isobel there, but when
Sir Beichan and she catch the attention of her father, the castle has horrors as
well as wonders, enough to hold him prisoner. Winning freedom may only separate
them, unless its marvels can be used to unite them, over the sea.

Also available from these fine booksellers:

Jewel of the Tiger

With their lands withering for want of protection from the wind, they hear a demand from the wizard: the jewel of the tiger.

Jyron, realizing it may be simpler than it looks, sets boldly out to get a jewel from the lair of a man-eating tiger. To find that simplicity does not mean ease.

Also available from these fine booksellers:

The Maze, the Manor, and the Unicorn

A short story of banishment and magical intrigues.

Cecily had been a lady-in-waiting. Exiled to Clearwater – for her health – after she angered Queen Blanche, she has nothing to do but wait.

Until an ambassador is sent there, for his health, and Cecily finds that the court intrigues reach farther than she had known they could.

Also available from these fine booksellers:

The White Menagerie

In a court of decadence and intrigue, only Maya’s enchantments hold in check the snow-white creatures they keep in a menagerie to amuse themselves. But when Lady Tatiana arrives, and all must outdo themselves to win her support for the king, Lord Dariko is certain that she can hold in check a gryphon as well, and will hear no warnings of danger.

Her most careful watch and her most powerful spells might not save them – but nothing else will.

Also available from these fine booksellers:

Dragonfire and Time

An angry dragon demands justice of the king.

Mae, a royal wizard, is assigned the task: the dragon had metted out her own justice, burning a thief with dragonfire, but she had seen him since, whole and sound, and this she will not tolerate, so Mae must put an end to it.

Mae goes to discover the truth of this before the dragon leaves its lair to extract her own justice. And in her search of the spring festivities, learns more secrets than the dragon had even guessed of.

Also available from these fine booksellers:

The Dragon’s Cottage

When the dragon does not come for the annual maiden to devour, the knight Theodore sets out for adventures, hoping to find what the dragon is doing.

He finds more than he thought he would.

Also available from these fine booksellers:

Enchantments And Dragons


A wizard must produce justice enough to satisfy a dragon.

A young man tries to rob a tiger’s lair.

An enchantress tries to keep a court safe while they ignore the perils of misusing her magic.

A lady finds that court intrigues can spread even to the countryside.

And more tales.

Includes “Over the Sea To Me,” “Dragonfire and Time”, “The Maze, the Manor, and the Unicorn”, “The White Menagerie”, “The Dragon’s Cottage,” “Jewel of the Tiger,” and “The Sword Breaks.”

Also available from these fine booksellers: