Marriage is a State of Mind – Cedar Sanderson

Marriage is a State of Mind – Cedar Sanderson

I have long been a fan of Dorothy Sayers. I don’t recall when I first read one of her books, but I know that I just recently read one of her essays on feminism and it sparked a thought – several thoughts, really – in my head. I wrote some of it down in Are Women Human? which is a composite of her essay of that title and my own thoughts.

As I was reacquainting myself with not only the fictional romance between Lord Peter Wimsey and Harriet Vane, but the true life of Dorothy Sayers, I was forced to reflect on my own life and relationships. There are some parallels to where I am now, and looking back, I can see clearly in hindsight where my path has taken me. You don’t see it, while you’re walking it. It’s only later that you can piece it together fully, no matter how well planned you think you have your life.

I was married relatively young. I met the man I would shortly marry when I had just turned 19, and he was 32. I was, as I joking say now, insane. Not literally, just a very sheltered young woman who fell for the oldest trick in the wolf’s book: I don’t have time to waste on dating. Will you marry me?

Do I regret it, looking back with clarity? No. I have four beautiful and smart children I love that would not exist as they are had I not decided that I would be a dutiful daughter and become the housewife I was supposed to be. I’d been discouraged rather firmly from following my chosen career paths – from science, by the brute force of being told that I would not be allowed to graduate highschool until I did what was expected of me – and from the military by being told that enlistment was the last thing I should do (and this coming from two people I trusted implicitly). So I did what everyone wanted. I thought.

I went to work, he went back to college. He’d finish his degree, and then I would finish mine, turn and turn about. I’ll skip the long tortuous story, because anyone who has half a brain knows how this story ends. I’m going to finish my degree in a little over a year, 21 years after graduating high school. He never finished his, dropping out of school again six months into the marriage.

Marriage, if it’s done right, is a beautiful friendship. It is two souls in support of one another. Friends first, then lovers. I still believe that, with all my heart, because it is a truth that transcends all the bad marriages in the world.

I can’t say why all marriages fail. I know what I have seen, and experienced.

You can’t do it alone.

If only one person is carrying all the weight, the precious bonds of matrimony are going to attenuate, and in time, fail. The marriage might not dissolve, but there is a gulf between the partners that deepens and widens.

You are alone if the other person in your life tells you that you are worthless, that you are crazy, that you aren’t pulling your weight. You are alone if they demand constantly, but refuse to meet your needs. Even worse than flat refusal, if they constantly promise, but never fulfill those promises. “You can do that in five years.” Becomes never, and you stagger on under the load until one day you collapse, pressed flat, and under your feverish cheek the floor is so cool and you close your eyes and pray for the end to come quickly as you try to breathe.

Personal Honor comes with a reset button.

Lois McMaster Bujold’s stories about Ekaterin and Miles may have saved my life. I’ll probably never talk to her in person, and I wouldn’t tell her this, because it’s very personal and sounds overdramatic. But it was in the story of a woman married to a man who left her wondering ‘am I crazy, or am I crazy?’ that I began to find the clarity to see where I was and who I had become. Then, in a scene set in a dusty attic, when Miles gestures toward his belly button and asks ‘doesn’t your honor come with a reset button?’ I finally understood. It was not the end of me, of my honor, if I broke my vows under duress. To continue would be the end of me, and I had already come to grips with that. To die to self in the service of others is necessary and even good. I’d held that as a mantra for years at that point. To risk my children? To know that even if the other person in my life ended his as soon as I walked away, it was not my fault?

I pressed the reset button.

Having reset my honor, I needed time to grieve, to heal, to come to grips with my brokenness. Not that you ever are restored to what you were. That you can, in time, aspire to kintusukori. During that grieving time I tried to tackle another relationship, and made the same mistake. I was too loyal. I overlooked the little lies, until I was confronted by big lies. I walked away again.

I swore I’d never do that again.

I’d intended to live out the rest of my life alone. My children, my father who shared a house with me (my parents were divorced for years at this point), so not physically alone. But there was still a hole in my life.

I leaned on the support of my friends as I struggled to support my family. My once-partner had survived our breakup and seemed to be turning his life around but had no interest in supporting his family. I worked and worked some more, and at night when I was too tired to sleep I talked with my fingers to friends all over the world. One of them, an acquaintance for years, was going through a similar process, escaping a toxic relationship that had all but killed him in spirit if not in body.

We talked, a lot, but it was friendship, a meeting of the minds. He encouraged me to write, something I had been stunted in for years. It was like watering a wilted plant. I encouraged him to get away from the situation he was in, reminding him as I had learned – honor is important, yes, but when the other side of the equation has no honor? – and he did make a break.

Time passed. I managed to get a week to myself, with the plan of writing. I knew that if I stayed at home I would have a million distractions and the kids would come home early… I went to stay with my friend. A writing retreat, and it was. But it was also the beginning of an Odd courtship. Because we are both Odds. We fit well together, mentally (minds out of the gutter!).

Never From Gratitude

You’re wondering where I was going with Dorothy Sayers, now that I have wandered through most of my adult life. As I was reading her this last month, I realized that the reason Harriet Vane would not marry Peter, despite him being desperately in love with her, was that she thought she was only grateful to him, and gratitude is not enough for a marriage.

I found myself living with my dear friend rather suddenly. The plan had been for a summer spent working, making money with my business nearer cities – and serendipitously, we would find out if we were suited to one another. We knew that we were in love – I never doubted that – but I was afraid that he wasn’t ready, and I was being pushy, or clingy, or… Or that I was making a mistake again. But there I was, with no place else to go, and he took me in.

It could have been a bad scene. Up above I sketched out a few lines, and I could practically see my audience on the other side of the screen wincing as they read the set-up. He could easily have come to resent me being pushed on him with little warning (two weeks!) and nowhere else to go, and because I had started school and given up one of my jobs, no money to go anywhere else. I spent months asking him if it was ok. Did he mind my having come to him like this?

Sarah told me once that she had known the moment she saw us together, that we were meant to be together. I’d laughed. It had taken me nearly a year to even admit I was in love with him, and longer before he told me he’d loved me for…

It worked. Marriage, you see, is a state of mind. The legalities aside, which are picayune in the scope of things, knowing that you have a true partner, one that will pick you up when you trip and fall, who will love you unconditionally no matter how you make his sandwich… that’s the important part.

And yet…

I’d never thought we would get married-married. We were already husband and wife in our hearts and souls. Honor, after all, is what you know about yourself, and reputation is what others know about you. Another truth from Lois McMaster Bujold (wise woman, and one whose writing I study). He’d reached a certain age without ever giving his hand in marriage. I had, and after thirteen years had forsworn myself. Simply having gained a partner was enough, and a sufficiency to the end of our lives together. Not that I wanted to be able to walk away. I am not capable of that sort of lightness.

When he asked me to marry him, in an oblique way with a casual tone, you could have knocked me over with a feather. As I was driving at the time, I settled for being grateful there was no traffic and a clear sky. I realized something in that split second. It does matter.


We speak oaths in front of witnesses for a reason. This is a tradition since before men made words on paper, or even stone. Speaking only one to another, we can use the same words, and mean the same things. We can hold ourselves to the words, and the one we spoke to, we are accountable to.

In the presence of witnesses, the words gain a gravity, a force, that causes them to bind tighter. We can chafe against those bonds, or recognize that they give us a certain freedom.

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” –Robert A Heinlein

Marriage is not a prison. It is a home, with two hearts in it. Later this week, my First Reader and I will sign the deed, so to speak, of that home. As we stand up in front of witnesses and repeat oaths that bind us, so also are we joined not only that we know, but all others do, as well. It’s not gratitude, nor is it coercion. It is friendship, and mutual admiration, and a thing so lightly called love.

Love is ever elusive to define. I was taught, years ago, that love was wanting only the best for the one that is loved with no expectation of anything in return. I was also taught that there are three loves, as defined in Ancient Greece. Philos, brotherly love, was the love between friends, siblings, comrades in arms. Agape is a holy love, the love of God for all mankind, a pure love that transcends any worldly concerns. And Eros is the love of sensuality, the attraction that sparks and leads to passionate embraces.

A marriage, I was taught, should combine all three of those into a cohesive whole. It’s not, I know now, easy. You must work at it, and you cannot do it alone. There will be days when the oaths you swore – before witnesses or simply in the dark of night to one another – are all that keep you together under one roof. If both of you aren’t holding tight to that, if all of this is based on gratitude for a home, for friendship, for sex; if that all there is, then it will fall apart.

In the end, it’s all come down to this. I am his, and he is mine. We are two, yet one. We live, and in living, love. Scars knit, baggage balanced, we take our chances that life holds more joy than sorrow, if only we can be in it together.

“Dum vivamus, vivamus!”

Fathers Day

I’ve realized sometime ago my books tend to have great fathers in them.

That is, of course, because I had/have a great father.  Dad was the sort of dad any kid would want.  For one he knew everything, from the nesting habits of local birds to how to translate the Latin inscriptions we came across on our rambles through the nearby woods.  And he has this thing where cats, dogs, even wild animals, come to him.  As they should, because he’s a good man.  (Though not a Good Man.)

My concepts of honor and duty come from dad, and though sometimes they’re onerous enough, they serve their purpose of making me part of something more important than myself: of making me part of civilization and family and humanity.  Without dad, left to my own devices, I’d probably long ago have been kicked out of the human race for shoving.

He taught me stuff like “don’t hurt those weaker than you” and “protect the helpless” and ALWAYS stick up for the truth.

And then I was lucky enough to marry a man who became a great dad.  It’s hard to be sure when you get married, and you’re both striplings (really, 22?  WHO THE HECK LET KIDS MARRY????) but Dan is a great dad.  He talks to the boys when I can’t (as in “you talk to them or I’ll just start screaming” and he solves math problems with the youngest and composes math with the older and along the way teaches them those things you never learn directly: hard work and dedication, and care of others.

So, right now?  I’m going to wander off and make my husband’s father’s day happy.  Ya’ll carry on with your planned chaos.

There will be promo post later.


As some of you know Dan and I will be renewing our vows of 30 years at Liberty con.  Part of this is because we wanted to do it for the 25th, but we couldn’t being broker than broke and not even going to LC (if I remember.)

Of course, this is the way of the world, so we’re broke this year too.  It’s temporary and more than usually self-inflicted because we chose to move this year to a rental and get the house ready to sell.  OTOH it’s not entirely self-inflicted.  Our other house is near a high traffic road, and our porch furniture gets covered in black sludge within 3 months.  Given my particular respiratory issues, I think that is if not what has played havoc with my health for the last 10 years (there were other things, including a worsening condition now hopefully fixed) at least a strong contributing factor.  Given that, we needed to move.  But there’s more to it than that.

It’s starting to look like when the house sells we’ll be empty nesters.  I have a bit of trepidation about younger son on his own, but it has been pointed out to me by his father that at three years younger than him I crossed half the world to live with strangers (and meet my future husband) and that sooner or later, even engineer-birds must fly.

I don’t know about other people’s lives, but our lives move in segments, from well established routine/setting to another with a brief, often terrifying trasition, where we often attempt to go bankrupt.  One such transition was from childless couple in Charlotte, NC to couple with kids in Colorado Springs.  There was some lag and leading indicators (Robert was born in Charlotte and was one when we moved here) but our life didn’t establish a new pattern/rhythm until we’d moved, a process that almost broke us.  Same with our last move, between couple with little kids and couple with more or less autonomous and certainly self-explaining teens.

This is feeling like another one of those, and these transitions are needed in a way.  They “reorient” you.

To explain, you get caught in habits that existed for a good reason, long after the reason is gone.

In cleaning this house and fixing it for sale, I’m coming across this a lot.  For instance, when we moved to this house, I made a lot of my own clothes, a substantial amount of the kids’ clothes, as well as almost all of the household stuff (It’s been years since I took a sofa apart to re-upholster.  I just realized that.)

This habit had been got into for good and sufficient reason, the reason being that we were keeping up with dual-income families on one income.  This meant the person who rarely made more than 5k a year had to make up for a lot of the money she didn’t bring in.  Refinishing, reupholstering, making most of our stuff, including things like slippers for the kids, were part of how I compensated.

Only this last move, to the house we’re now cleaning was also when my career started moving (sideways and upside down, as usual) so I not only had a lot of work, but I also, suddenly, inexplicably, found myself making about the same I would if I’d done what mom tried to talk me into 20 years ago, and finished my doctorate (depending on the college and the field I chose, between one and two years) and became a college lecturer.

The problem is, there were habits.  Habits from the times mommy didn’t make enough to justify not interrupting her.  Habits from the time when Sarah was, of course, the logical choice to spend all day looking for a missing paper.

Those habits proved almost impossible to break in that house.  Here things have started shifting somewhat.

BUT more importantly, my mental habits hadn’t changed, so I continued picking up bolt-ends and other ridiculously low priced fabric, in the vague idea I’d use it for this and that.  I haven’t because I don’t have the time to sew I used to.  When moving I made the decision that other than some vintage patterns/fabric which I’ll eventually use to make myself clothes, I’m going to narrow my sewing focus to “making stuffed animals.”  Mostly because so many of you and so many of my friends have littles, and adopted grandson ALSO totally needs a dragon a year to grow on.  I still have a room full of fabric, which depending on arrangements at the next house might or might not need culling down. It also depends on where the next phase takes us.

It’s always hard to figure out what shape the future will have till you’re there.  These transitions tend to have that “earth-shaking” feel and the boundaries of your quotidian life change in ways you couldn’t anticipate.

For instance, when we moved to Colorado Springs, I expected (and we looked earnestly at) a suburb like the one we’d lived in in Charlotte.  Perhaps more rural, since we’d been looking that way before the move.

I couldn’t have anticipated a housing shortage, due to MCI moving to town, which shuttled us into a student apartment downtown, which in turn reminded me how much I liked walking neighborhoods and consigned us for the next 21 years to living in Victorians, in walking neighborhoods, mountain village and urban neighborhood. Which in turn shaped not just the texture of my everyday life, but also the boys’ upbringing.  (For one since the age of six, they’ve been free to go off and buy their own lunch.  At six, corndogs from an arcade stand in a little mountain village.)

In the same way I don’t know where we’ll end.  I think we’re done with walking neighborhoods, or rather our definition of walking neighborhood has changed.  You see, it used to be I liked to have enough stores within walking distance to force me to walk.  Thing is, I’m now buying most such things (books, okay, mostly) from Amazon, and what entices me out is more likely to be a walk around the park with my husband.  (Mind you, I wouldn’t mind being close enough to the museums in Denver to walk to them, but I REALLY don’t think we can afford that.)  That texture has already changed, only we’re sort of caught betwix and between.  But it has changed what we look for in another house.

Other things that weren’t a consideration when we moved last, are a consideration now.  We’re in our fifties and the “winter” of life is still a little off, but if we live in the next house twenty years or so, it won’t be.  So proximity to medical services and ease of ambulance reach are a plus.  As is accessibility to an airport, because I’m getting right tired of having to get up at six am for a nine am flight.  Not to mention the four am for a seven am flight. Kevin Anderson tells me I need to make more public appearances.  I don’t like it, but I’ll assume he’s right, and in that case, ease of transport becomes a big thing.

We’ll of course be looking for something with a decent office space for me, and possibly husband together (we’re that odd thing, a writing couple who likes sharing an office.)

In my dream world, we buy something near friends, and we settle down to take a walk morning or evening, work the rest of the time, and share housekeeping duties. I take Sundays off, and read or sew.  Oh, and evenings, I get to do stuff while Dan watches TV.  I’m not “always on” and always late with books (though that is likely to be true, once health settles.) I know, it’s a pedestrian dream, but it’s mine.

I’m hoping to keep at least those outlines.  The rest… who knows. The new pattern whenever it comes (It’s dependent on house selling, so who knows?) will have some surprises.  And some of them will be pleasant or most will, once I change my mental parameters.

I don’t know what the future holds, but I know we’re at an inflection point and from here on “things will be different.”

You can fight those, or you can embrace them.  We’re choosing to embrace this one.  The renewal of vows is our way of saying “this we’ll take with us.  This we’ll keep.”  And it is therefore important.

The rest… we’ll see.

If I don’t thank all of you who’ve donated — you made the room awfully dusty, and there’s a lot of you — I am grateful.  I’m hoping the amount is enough to get someone else to redo the fence, and maybe, if we’re lucky, to fix the balcony.  I’m now in the “cleaning and staging” phase in the second floor and older son is finishing painting bottom floor (he’s very good at it.)

If it all goes well, by Monday all the hard work will be done on the inside, we can pay someone to do the outside after we come back from Liberty con.  And I can settle into at least a “trial” pattern of having time to write and spend time with my husband (even if the house will still take a thorough cleaning, and probably won’t go for sale for two weeks, because of contractors doing other stuff.)  I’d like that.  For one I want to finish Witch’s Daughter (Michael’s sequel to Witchfinder) and also Darkship Revenge and Bowl of Red (Shifters.)  And then I want to do the dragon trilogy.

I want to write.  I want to have time with my husband.  I want to stop being carpenter and painter and jack of all trades.

And once the house sells, I want to visit my dad, because he’s 84 and time is running away from us.

It will come.  Transitions are sticky and scary, but they pass.  Just.A.Few.More.Days.

This too will get done.  This too shall pass.  And the future will be good.

The Marquess de Queensbury Rules

Terry Pratchett, famously tuckerizing the Marquess de Queensbury as the Marquis de Fantailer said the Marquis was a small and timid man who made rules about all the places people weren’t allowed to hit him.

I confess to having less than no interest in the art of boxing. When I grew up boxing was the only sport dad would not watch on TV (oh, and bullfighting, but that’s not so much a sport.) and I never saw any point in it.  I have friends who love it and weirdly I found an appreciation/interest in it in Georgette Heyer’s characters.  I presume this would be the boxing popularized/made formal by the Marquess de Queensbury, and while I still have less than no interest in it, I also understand that the rules were designed to both make the spectacle of two guys slugging each other entertaining and to minimize the amount of real damage taken by the fighters (so the fight can go on.)

I like physical fights about as much as I like emotional fights (not at all) but many times found them necessary and when necessary I always felt — particularly when going up against disproportionate odds — a surge of panic at the beginning.  Then I stopped thinking about it and used the panic to fuel the fighting.  (At least until/unless the berserker kicked in, at which point … I have no idea, because it’s not me.)  Having heard of “fighting like a cornered cat” I thought it was funny, because I always fought like that.

As someone who doesn’t like fighting, if I engage in it, I engage in it with everything I have and d*mn the rules.  It’s not a spectator sport, and it’s not a gentleman’s entertainment, and the Marquess de Queensbury rules don’t apply.

Which is good, because the left always fights by street-brawlers rules, regardless.

This came up yesterday in the comments, when talking about elections and the GOP.  There is a large number of the GOP who thinks it’s more important to behave like gentlemen than to win.  (Even when winning doesn’t cause any particular moral conflicts.  They confuse being nice with being good.)

It also came up well, in my engagement with Club 770.  The number of people who’ve told me that he means nothing by it, and at worst he THINKS he’s neutral while not being was… interesting.  Marquis de Fantailer would approve.  We should be polite to those slugging us and– wait, what?

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again.  There is on our side the assumption the other side are not bad fellows, they’re just misguided.  Largely and for a long time, particularly for those living in Europe, this was an easy if unprofitable illusion. Given the level of Agit-prop used by the Soviet Union, it was easy for people to just REALLY be genuinely deceived.

But this is not the seventies or the eighties.  The Soviet Union imploded hard, its sewer-like innards were exposed.  There’s books and heck documentaries and the history of various collectivists societies are around for everyone to look at.  It is high time we presume anyone in a Che t-shirt knows he’s wearing a t-shirt with the face of a man who delighted in killing students, children and dogs, or else they’re completely and totally stupid.

It’s the same thing as let’s say keeping a blog that claims to be “neutral” in fandom issues, but which maintains a readership that is, to quote one of you in a private group “where mentally ill fandom goes to die.”

I’ve maintained a blog for five? Six? years now, with a regular and vocal audience.  You don’t do that without catering to a point of view, and of course I don’t in any way, shape or form, pretend to be neutral.  I’m me.  My opinions might be all over the place, but they’re mine and I don’t pretend to not having any.

It would be really weird, if I claimed to be neutral and had managed to attract a following of freedom-minded rapscallions incapable of following a direct order if their lives depended on it.

And if I had genuinely done it while thinking I was “neutral” the only option would be that I was simply not very smart but had a sort of subconscious bend that shaped my beliefs.

Now, is that latter possible? Oh, heck, yes.  Possible, of course.

But is it likely?  More importantly, is it likely that someone in such a position wouldn’t have NOTICED the sort of following he or she attracted?

Um….  Are we talking about an alien species?  Or are we still in this same world?

Do I ever give the other side the benefit of the doubt?  Sure. I do think Irene Gallo was so immersed in the lies about the puppy sympathizers that she honestly thought what she was saying was completely non-controversial.  Does that mean she’s stupid?  Possibly, at least in the verbal arena, since she’s a visual person.  But more likely she’s simply insular and insulated. (Part of the Insulata, according to the term so aptly coined by my friend Sanford Begley.)

Now do I think someone who runs a blog which attracts the same type of insular and a little insane fringe that fed Irene Gallo is doing it inadvertently?  It would take a miracle.

I do think it is possible that he didn’t think through the layers of connotation and denotation involved in linking my post with that heading which finally and once and for all sent me over the edge.  (It’s the Latin female thing.  No, really, I’m not joking.  Ask Dorothy about it sometime.  You can’t see me, but I was totally slapping my right hand with the back of the left.)  And it is possible I read that much into it because I’ve been following his smirking shenanigans for months.  But then it’s sort of like having sand kicked in your face.  It happens to everyone at the beach, particularly if your idea of a good time at the beach is reading a book.  You’re down there, and kids and strangers walking by will kick sand in your face.  It happens.

Now suppose though that there is a teenager near you, and he bounces a ball on the sand and sprays sand in your face.  The first time, he’s all charming and says sorry, and you smile and say never mind.

But then he’s playing with his little sister with sand toys and sprays sand in your face, and he says “Sorry, I didn’t mean to do it, you can’t control where the sand goes.”

You nod, but you’re not quite so happy.

By the fifth time, when he runs by and sprays sand in your face, you’re going to think he did it on purpose, whether that one was genuine or not.  And you’ll be right, or the kid has a problem with his reasoning. THAT time might have been an accident, maybe, but he’s been picking on you all day, and at the very least he didn’t CARE if he annoyed you, and probably enjoyed spraying sand in your face.

And frankly, even if that last one was an accident, you have trouble believing all of them were an accident and “oops, sorry.”  As you should.  Because people are not that bottomless stupid.  Not adults.  And they really can’t ask us to believe they are to one person infantile and brain damaged.

Again, there is something on the right side of the isle I don’t fully understand.  Perhaps it comes from the fact the other side immediately accuses you of being crazy if you point out what they’re up to.  And who wants to be called crazy?

But it’s time to take your foot off the cement bucket.  It’s time to stop thinking all the people on the other side are just mentally defective splendid chaps.  If the last six years or so haven’t shown that; if the disproportionate aggression from the other side over trying to diversify the nominees and voters of the Hugos hasn’t rang it home, then you might consider that you simply don’t want to fight, ever, and prefer servitude to freedom.

I’m not going to be mad at you in that case.  Remember, I fight because I have to, but I hate it with a passion.  But don’t try to hamstring everyone according to the Marquis de Fantailer.  Those rules are for how to lose with style.

Me?  I assume that after the last 100 years of history, anyone insisting “this time we’ll do it right” on collectivism, anyone dividing people according to arbitrary race/class/gender Marxism, anyone who is over 25 and believes all the cr*p their progressive professors spouted is an adult who chooses to be blind and who prefers to stand with the oppressors: either out of fear or out of what they hope to gain.

I don’t think the other side is full of splendid fellows and wonderful women who simply need to be told the truth.  There might be a few in the mushy middle who can in fact see the light.  They’re low information and too busy with life to have paid attention. But those on the left? Those active and engaged on the left?

I assume they’re adults and that if they’re kicking sand in our faces they’re doing it because they like to, and not because they’re mentally damaged. Until and unless proven otherwise.

They assume we’re monsters of avarice, cruelty and prejudice.  The least I can do is assume they are capable and responsible for making those assumptions and those choices.

That is not crazy.  The crazy thing would be assuming people who are older than I, well educated and well read are incapable of knowing what they’re doing or what sort of following they’ve attracted and what flag they’ve enlisted under.

No matter how much they scream otherwise.

Of Pigs, Fights and Life

This is where Sarah slaps herself for forgetting the old injunction about wrestling a pig.  Or, more importantly, about forgetting her own childhood.

I was thinking the other day that the defining characteristic of my childhood was “loneliness” and this is true.  For various reasons, some of them because I caught everything that crossed the village or even entered the county and was therefore quarantined a lot, but also because I was the youngest of a large brood of cousins, and the next youngest was my brother almost 10 years older than I.  I often say I learned to read early in self-defense because it was exasperating to hear my brother and cousin (who was raised with us) argue over books, and I couldn’t join in.  Earlier than that, barely remembered, was the time I tried to talk about this book I’d “read” which I’d totally made up.  I couldn’t figure out how they caught me.  (Let’s say three year olds lack experience of life to make up westerns.)

Part of the problem is that I had the issue of all young kids raised with adults.  I had no clue how to relate to kids my age.  And there was a particular technique that infuriated me: this is where the kids would make oblique remarks and needle and push, until I finally lost and beat them.  … and got punished because I could point at nothing specific.  And even if I had, dad would say that beating was not proper return for teasing.

I grew up physically brave, but all too easy to kill with unkindness.  It was part of the reason (beyond fear to my career, duh.  And no, I don’t want former editors to assure me that no, they don’t discriminate on politics.  If there’s something the puppy fight has shown is that they do, they have, and it’s so ingrained they don’t even notice) I was in the closet so long.  I don’t like fights, and I hate the sort of needling tease the other side is so good at.  The “What?  Why are you looking at me?  I didn’t do anything?” smirk in the face of a village urchin, in other words.

When I entered this fight, I knew it would get bad.  I entered it because I was given no choice.  I have kids.  If I didn’t even have kids, I’d have stayed in the political closet, secure in the belief of “apres moi le deluge.”  But I have kids.  And the insanity of tearing Western civ apart out of some perceived longing for a utopia that doesn’t exist will affect them and any kids they might have.

So I came out of the political closet.  And I knew there would be consequences.  I’d like to claim I’m an innocent and thought the left would fight openly.  I’m not stupid.  Part of what kept me in the closet for years was seeing how they engaged to destroy anyone who disagreed with them.  I knew the whisper campaigns and the “you don’t want to be seen with HER” to the point you knew nothing wrong about the person but you were sure they had committed abominable crimes.  Too abominable to be mentioned.

It didn’t take long, either.  All it took was some intimation I was less than happy with the results of the 12 election (ah — this is where “I told you so” comes in.  I was never crazy for Romney (too statist for my tastes) but the man should run with that slogan.) The insane started pouring in.  The German contingent posited that I came to the states to escape the revolution (at 11.  Which is the age I was at the time.  Shut up.  I’m that precocious.)  Mind you most of the people who did so came from Africa, the alternative being death.  But apparently running in front of Soviet “consultants” and their Cuban shock troops makes you a fascist.  There were others.  There was more.

I knew things were thoroughly out of control when the Passive Voice linked me ON A POST ABOUT EDITING and my colleagues who had heard what a horrible person I was flocked in to blacken my name and talk about how I was a “fascist.”  (Apparently libertarians are the same as fascists.  Who knew?)

Among other things I’ve been called a white supremacist (blink), a fascist (blink), homophobic (blink, blink), racist (blink), a “fan of the Portuguese regime deposed in the seventies” (this by the German wonder who doesn’t get that one can oppose both a regime and its replacement.  Ah, for a mind that simple), atheist (blink, blink, blink), Mormon (blink)…  Well, let’s say and save time that I’ve been called everything but a good person.

It wears on me, not so much because they’re insults, but because they’re crazy insults.  I am aware that at some level, permanently, my name is tainted with a large selection of the public.  This doesn’t worry me perhaps as much as it should, because a) most people don’t play that much on the net, much less in our circles b) there’s always indie.  I can duck out, go fully indie and write historical erotic romances, for all I care.  (No, I didn’t write them.  No, I don’t advise you to look, but while researching?  Henry VIII Catherine of Aragon lactating erotica.  I didn’t see anything past the title, and I don’t even.)

And then there’s the speshul that’s file 770.  You guys aren’t at the controls and don’t see it — and to the members of the ELoE who pinged me to tell he is a good guy, you didn’t grow up in the same village I did — not only the crazy sh*t that gets linked, but the commenters who come over and who open with “You’re such an idiot” and therefore don’t get approved.

Mike Glyer is at least as smart as the cobbler’s son next door when I was growing up. He’s not stupid enough to openly call names, but there are his choices of what to link.

When I said that I couldn’t mention the letters “H-u-g- and o” in the same paragraph without getting linked, I was right.  Or I might not mention the Hugos at all, or only in passing on the last paragraph.  But if the post supports the narrative the puppy-kickers are building, sure as shooting it will get linked.  Like my post about a new Golden Age, which got linked because in their blinkered little minds we’re calling for pulp.  (Sometimes one wonders about the minds that build this narrative.  You are aware someone who grew up on pulp would be 100, right?  You are aware that Heinlein not only wasn’t pulp, but was in many ways the anti-pulp.  I mean, I read Burroughs, but mostly Tarzan, and it wasn’t my favorite.  I read him because grandad had him, so I read him by 5 or 6.  Books were expensive and we had those. But his technique was outdated by then.)

But it supported the narrative, so it got linked.  The same way that its subsequent “Oh, for the love of frack, no one wants pulp” follow up wasn’t.  The same way my friend Sanford’s post over at Otherwhere Gazette, exploding their nonsense wasn’t.  The same way my post pointing out that I felt they were linking me to homophobia and how stupid this was wasn’t.

Oh, it’s very carefully done.  There is an image being built, and he links to those posts that support it.  Then when caught it’s not his fault and he can’t control his commenters, and he can’t see everything.

And, as I said, I have been conversant with these techniques since dealing with the cobbler’s son next door, while growing up.  (Weirdly he didn’t become a communist politician, and has instead racked up several jail terms.)

So Mike Glyer is smarter than the average bear, and much better at Alinsky techniques, and I’m an idiot to fall for them and come out swinging, which meant I had a spanking coming.

In my defense, but not as an excuse, I’m spending 10 to 12 hours a day painting/scraping and sanding, and by the time I get home can only see so far in comments, deal with a lot of the ones I don’t approve, and… I’m tired.

For whatever reason, my body has decided to be violently allergic to SOMETHING.  If I knew what I would avoid it. We’ve now been over every inch of this house with a fine tooth comb and TRUST me there is no mold.  There is dust, and I’m allergic to dust, but I’ve brought over my epa-filtered vacuum and the appropriate masks. I have no idea what is triggering an all-alarm auto-immune.  The last time I had an attack this bad I spent two nights with feathers in my bed (the hotel kept swearing there were none, till I found the label in the middle of the night.)  And now that the steroid prescription has run out, I’m heading downward again.

Beyond that there’s mere tiredness.  We’ve all of us been working all our free time, including the boys in time from classes/jobs at violent physical labor, so we’re ALL stumbling tired.  Which accounts for injuries, which in turn make the whole thing harder.  Yes, we’re using money we don’t have to pay some people to do some of it, but see the “money we don’t have.”  My last two years have emptied our savings, which come from my writing, mostly. So there’s a limit to what we can pay.

And up there you have an encapsulation of how the left wins/has won most cultural battles.  First, because they don’t care if their narrative is true.  They cast it in stone and then find anything, no matter how much they have to twist to support it.  Second, the rest of us can’t defend ourselves from accusations so stupid they’re not even wrong.  Accusing me of being a White Supremacist is roughly akin to accusing me of being an uplifted purple wombat.  It’s so crazy that how the h*ll do you even combat that?  Third, we have real lives.  My blogging posting and commenting is right now squeezed into a few minutes morning and evening, around brutal manual labor.  And when that is done, it will be squeezed around finally finishing books, so I can put up the sequel to Witchfinder, continue the third (Rogue Magic) and deliver Darkship Revenge and Bowl of Red. Because I’m not a dilettante and I have family depending on me.

Again, this is not an excuse.  I’m smart enough to see the smirking trap, even while stumbling tired.  Unfortunately I was tired enough not to care, because taking a swing at last felt so good.  And it was dumb.  And I knew it even while I did it.

This is their game.  As I said, I knew when I came out of the political closet what I would get called.  Fascist, of course, because not wanting a powerful state makes me just that.  And racist because I disagree with dividing people by races and a system of spoils.  Homophobic because, of course, not giving a really good hot d*mn about who people sleep with makes you homophobic.  Even if you endorse SSM, (which I’m on record as doing back to 06) because, well, you don’t approve of the activists’ dirty pool tactics.  So you are against them.

I knew all this because in the seventies in Portugal I dealt with the original, unadulterated, unapologetic communists.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, over here they’ll say they’re not (except for their approval of every communist regime ever) and bring up stuff about not wanting to expropriate means of production.  Only it works like a communist, it talks like a communist, and it goes “forward” like a communist.  And their tactics haven’t changed in close on to 100 years.

I was surprised with the Sad Puppy fight.  I shouldn’t have been, but I was.  I was particularly surprised because Brad is several shades to the left of me, because the suggested list was of all political colors, shapes, ideologies.  But the “racist, homophobic, sexist” came out again, and the “neo-nazi” and the smart operators shape the narrative and the truly abysmally dumb ones (and yes, from the lack of self-consciousness in saying it and the lack of butt-covering Irene Gallo is one, though perhaps not so much dumb as specialized dumb.  Many artists and art directors are thick as cement with words, though brilliant with visuals.)

They brought everything to bear, because they always do.  They started with the most extreme accusations because they always do.

The end result is that sane people, working people, people who give a d*mn about life and don’t think everything is politics tend to walk away shaking their heads.

The good news is I’m not doing that.  No one ever accused me of being sane.  Also, I wouldn’t have got in this fight (both politics and puppies) if it weren’t worth fighting.

I know damage has been done when a friend who’s known me for years tells me something like “I’m not as conservative as you are.  I support SSM.  I don’t care about people’s color” and I have to point out what the other side says not only isn’t real, it has no basis in reality.

I do disagree with “progressive” (Lord deliver me from those progressing into the past) methods to do things like help the poor.  Minimum wage laws can’t and don’t — they just promote the importation of more illegal workers, because some businesses simply lack the margin — for instance.  But that doesn’t mean I want to kick widows and orphans out in the snow, and their saying so don’t make it so.

I’m a libertarian (note the small l), or if you prefer a rational anarchist.  I don’t believe we can survive without government, but I believe that government is a bad master indeed and must be hemmed in as much as possible.  Weirdly — coff — I don’t believe the eternally-hacked-into, file-losing, its-own-ass-chasing government is a force that can propel us to the bright new future.  If you believe so it’s up to you to prove it.  Throughout history governments have been good at one thing: creating oligarchies.

I don’t believe in oligarchies.  I believe in self-ownership and self-responsibility.  I believe in equality before the law (regardless of race, creed or sex).  I believe in doing your best and looking after those who depend on you.  I don’t believe in special accommodations for anyone, but I believe noblesse oblige and that the strong should help the weak.  (I have.  I do. Often to our own detriment.)  Because we’re all weak sometime.  I just don’t believe in the government mediating it. Government is just another self-interested party. Give it power and it only grows itself.

And I believe in the future.  I believe in the human race.  (What other race would you have me believe in?  Are you by any chance a beaver or a rat?) I believe we can survive, we can improve.  And we should. I believe with some disgusting interludes the future is usually better than the past.

I’ll continue working to make it so.  I’m not going anywhere.  I will also try not to take swings at smirky cobbler’s boys.  Because they are inconsequential.  Instead I’ll feel sorry for the deluded who follow them into the abyss.

This year is shaping up to be a right b*tch even without the various illnesses and accidents.  So I’ll be busy, but I’ll continue talking.  About the puppies?  Oh, now and then.  Though the topic has limited appeal.  And there are other things, like books I’ve found.  And other stuff.  And national politics.  All of which will come up, as they usually do.

And now, if you excuse me, I have a thousand square feet to sand and wax. And I probably should call the doctor and tell him I’m having trouble breathing again.

Life goes on.  And life is important.

UPDATE: Welcome Instapundit readers, and many thanks to Glenn Reynolds for the link.

Fun House Mirrors

I’m sorry I’m so late with this post. This time there’s really nothing wrong, except for catching up on things that were thrown out of rhythm in the last couple of days. (You know, you have a rhythm in a house, like who does dishes, and such. It’s all off between working on the other house, and the minor illnesses/accidents of the last few days.) When one thing goes off everything gets off kilter, in this case to the point of my coming to my office (which is air-conditioning intensive) without a coat and sitting here trying to write the Mad Genius Club post and wondering why I’m freezing.

Anyway, all that is incidental and doesn’t matter, and normally I would do a blast from the past. Normally I certainly wouldn’t be wading into the Hugo mess because it’s inside baseball, it’s tiring, and who the heck cares who isn’t in this field? In fact, how many people in this field really care? I care only to a certain extent, as in the previous regime I had long ago written off the Hugo and in the present mess, I never expect to get one. Beyond which I don’t know how much importance the Hugo has for sales. The Prometheus greatly helped mine, but even there, I think the results vary.

But I’ve been on a slow simmer since the Irene Gallo comments, and that was brought to a boil yesterday.

Why yesterday, you ask?

Because the hypocritical scum (I apologize to any scum I might have offended) who runs file 770 has been gleefully linking anything of mine that even uses the letters H-u-g- and o in the same paragraph, but yesterday I wrote about his hypocrisy in taking a sentence of mine out of context and linking it with a clever-daft punchline of the “Hydrophobia that falls on you from nowhere” to imply I was homophobic.

Did he link yesterday’s post? Are you kidding? Even though he’s fairly sure his blinded followers will rarely click through, he couldn’t afford to explode his narrative. He’d on the flimsiest of “evidence” – i.e. my refusal to go into details on same sex marriage and other accommodations for more “exotic” orientations in a post to which it wasn’t even incidental – declared me homophobic, and he couldn’t risk the narrative being exploded.

I confess that when my Baen colleagues were making fun of file 770 and going on about “Mike Glyer, Fifty Hugos” (the number of nominations he’d had) I thought they were being a little mean. After all, the man was just well-intentioned and blinkered, and believed the narrative.

Guys, I was wrong, you were right. He’s not deceived, but he willfully deceives. He is not a useful idiot, but one who would seek to make idiots out of others. He’s not the sheep, but the judasgoat.

Why does that matter to me? Why do I get so upset if it’s not true? Isn’t it an axiom (at least on the left side of politics) that you only get upset if it’s secretly true?

No. It might be an axiom on the left side, but consider how their leaders lie and every other stupid thing they consider an axiom. It’s sort of a facile pseudo-Freudian thing, and I can disprove it in a moment. Say I accused you of being a pedophile. Would you get mad because you secretly want to do it? Or because it’s a repulsive lie? Say I accused you of killing puppies for fun. Do you have to actually want to do it to be mad? Or would you get madder if you actually spend all your time volunteering to rescue puppies in shelters?

Accusing me of being homophobic is not QUITE as stupid as accusing Brad of being racist. I think – that I know, I haven’t interrogated the boys, because it’s none of my business – no one in my nuclear family is gay. HOWEVER for the first 22 years of our kids’ lives, i.e. while we had a minor child, the designated guardians and executors of our wills were a lesbian couple. (They still are, but we need to change that now both boys are legal adults.) Beyond that, we’ve always had gay friends, not because we sought them out but because of where we lived or worked and because frankly we don’t care. Neither of us intends on sleeping with our friends, and our only contact with our friends’ preferences in that regard is to treat their partners as an extended part of our circle and to approve/disapprove of them according to how they treat our friends. That’s it.

Furthermore, I don’t think it’s possible for anyone, EVER to even read the descriptions of my books and think I’m homophobic.

Which is why I’m furious. Because truth matters and because Mike Glyer Fifty Hugos  intentionally lies and rapes it to make his followers blind and to make them follow him and do what he wants . He’s not the only one. People on that side have been recklessly lying and calling people heinous things, and threatening to end careers — for no better reason than their own power and self interest.

The end result of this are dumb bunnies like Irene Gallo who are absolutely sure they’re only saying what “everybody knows” when they accuse the most unlikely people of being “racist, sexist, homophobic” let alone “neo-nazi.”

These are lies told by their opinion makers, like Mr. Fifty Hugos, for the simple purpose of keeping primacy in AN AWARD FOR A FORM OF FICTION. For power.  For vainglory.  That’s it.

Let’s make that very clear: they’re willing to blacken characters and destroy careers in order to hold on to plastic rockets and the accolades of fools.

Which paradoxically is what makes the fight important and why we can’t let them win.

When I was contemplating this post, my friend Peter Grant posted and my friend Cedar echoed it.

I read Peter’s post and I realized we were both talking about the same thing. We’re talking about the truth. The truth that matters. You can’t rape the truth, no matter how holy you think your objective.

If you rape the truth you mislead sheep like Ms. Gallo and make them think they’re fighting a holy cause, instead of just keeping you in Hugo nominations. (To the extent that Ms. Gallo is innocent of slander it is because her friends and associates lied to her.  Not an excuse.  She’s an adult and she should have verified.  But she’s not as guilty as the stone-cold-liars who deceived her.)

It is the fact that the prize is so small that makes the lies and manipulations more heinous. If they lie like this in small things that bring them no monetary reward, what do you think they’re doing to the truth in things that matter?

Go read Peter’s post. He’s even angrier than I am and with better reason. His experiences in life have been harsher than mine, because it was Africa.

One thing that’s struck me very forcibly in the whole Tor situation is how utterly blind to reality are many of those on the left/liberal/progressive/SJW side of the debate.  It’s incongruous to read the comments on ‘Puppies’ posts at File 770, those left in response to Tom Doherty’s post at, and from many of the authors and others ‘leading the charge’ on that side of the debate.  They appear to be living in an echo chamber where they feed off each other, constantly repeating the same old lies like a stuck record.  That’s the problem – what they’re repeating is, in many cases, simply not true, but they ignore that and carry right on saying it, as if repetition will somehow magically make it true.  It won’t, of course.

Truth is determined in relation to reality.  If a fact is objectively true, if it can be verified according to evidence, or tested in a laboratory, or otherwise shown to be actually (rather than merely claimed to be) the case, then it’s true.  It’s no good saying that something is ‘true for me’ if it’s not actually true at all.  That means you’re living a lie.  Period.  An excellent example is the current fuss over Rachel Dolezal’s claim that she ‘identifies as black’.  I don’t care what she identifies herself as being – I want to know what she is in reality.  The fact of the matter is, she isn’t black – so no matter how many wishful thoughts she may have, and no matter what deception she foists upon others (including the NAACP), the reality is that her life has been built upon and around a lie.

The charges leveled against the Puppies campaigns by the SJW’s are largely lies.  They take statements made (or allegedly made) by one or more individuals (often quoted out of context to make them sound either worse, or different from, what was meant), then apply them across the board to all ‘Puppies’ of whatever description.  This is simply not true.  It isn’t real.  It would be as if I took the views or statements or actions of a radical progressive/liberal/whatever (like, for example, Pol Pot) and accused all SJW’s of sharing them.  That wouldn’t be true, so I don’t do it . . . but why do so many of them do it to me?  It’s as I said last week.  They focus on the narrative, not on the facts, because the facts don’t support their views.

Go read the whole thing.

Then think about what these people are doing to the truth, in a petty, stupid little fight. And think of what they accuse us of, like voting blindly for a “slate”, while they’re the ones treating people like sheep and leading them in an unreal and bizarre fight, of which ONLY the leaders benefit.

Mr. Fifty Hugos, you’re beneath contempt. When you call people names, it’s a mirror you’re looking in.

I Am Excite – David Pascoe

*With apologies to number 3 son by adoption for putting this up so late.  It’s been interesting around here for over 24 hours.  As in multiple handymen, fridge-stopping working, husband injuring himself “interesting”.  Thanks for your patience. – SAH*

I Am Excite – David Pascoe

No, not really. Well, sorta-kinda. I’ve been struggling a bit (more than a bit, really) with what I think is subclinical depression, brought on by, well, a lot of factors. Wee Dave being the Prime Mover (at least for this). Caring for a child is a lot of work, and while I understand that it gets easier – again, sorta kinda – as you add more of the adorable, little, psychic vampires, that doesn’t really help when you’re not certain whether the light down there is the end of the tunnel, or a train.

I want to call this subclinical (I’m honest enough to say I’m not certain one way or the other) in part because I don’t want to deal with the consequences of my brain not working right. Acute, rather than chronic, would be a heck of a lot easier to deal with. Sufficient rest (heh), ditto exercise (extremely important for endorphin production), proper nutrition (red meat, chocolate, cigars and whisk(e)y, check) I’m at a point where I’m trying to figure out things I’ve forgotten. Like how to relax. I’m really not sure what the feels like, anymore.

One of my most useful coping mechanisms is actually writing. Specifically fiction, though writing this post (and others like it (I’m working on more of the Star Wars/space opera related ones, I promise)) are also helpful, just to a lesser degree. I suspect it has to do with how men are wired, versus women, and how I am wired, specifically. The Daily Grind is just that, but when you perform the same tasks, day in and day out, and “well, the Creature survived, and so did I,” is the best thing you’ve got at the end of the day? This is survival, and surviving is good. But I want thriving. I need more than adequate.

As an aside, I’m told I need to get over myself a bit. Writing at all is a win, when Daddy is my primary job description, (more) objectively speaking. I’m making a stitching horse so I can make some footwear that won’t make my knees hurt at the end of the day. I built a Travel Writing Rig based on a Raspberry Pi fitted into a Pelican camera case (expect the write-up at the MGC during LibertyCon, as that Friday is mine) just so I could take my mechanical keyboard anywhere, and get use out of it.

So I’m doing things. And, honestly, listing stuff out like this helps. A lot. It gets me excited, which is really the whole point. If relaxation (not sleep: that’s just unconsciousness. Ok, not just unconsciousness (sorry, Robert, Speaker), but it doesn’t lower stress levels- ok, it does, but that’s not what I’m after) seems unavailable, then boosting mood through rediscovery of the awesome parts of life seems like a solid Plan B. And that’s part of what the whole previous paragraph was about. I’m working toward remembering what excites me. And not just in a “gets the blood pressure up, and the mind focused,” manner. If that was all I wanted, I’d read about politics. (Seriously, the GOP didn’t feel the super secret trade stupidity was worth fighting? We had to rely on Pelosi?! HulkSMASH)

E3 is … well, I think it’s ongoing, actually. At least, Bethesda Softworks had a showcase last night at the Dolby Theater in LA, and revealed a bunch of stuff. There was gameplay footage of the new DOOM game, announcements about Dishonored 2 and something about the Elder Scrolls Online (which I’ve avoided, despite my love of that particular world: I just don’t have time to devote to MMOs. Or sanity, speaking of the Daily Grind), and finally, a bunch of stuff about Fallout 4, which was only announced a couple of weeks ago. It looks amazing, and I’ve been watching the videos all morning. And I am excite. A lot. There’s speculation that this one’ll be set in Boston (just looked it up: yup, in Boston) and one of the videos has footage of a flying USS Constitution (I. MUST. HAVE). The setting isn’t washed out green and gray like Fallout3, or the desert of New Vegas. This looks gorgeous, and the Fallout setting has been one I’ve greatly enjoyed since the first one in 1998.

Which, really, is precisely what I’m after, here. I’m excited. I feel energized, in a way that I haven’t for quite a while, and I’m working to figure out how to keep that up. Or at least visit that place on a more regular basis. Unfortunately, Fallout 4 won’t be available until November, but there’ll be a few things happening between now and then that I imagine could be used as leverage to enjoy life a bit more than has been the case for the last … while.

Now, I’m still fairly young for a- for a whatever-it-is (long story), and I’m working through all of this from a teeny-tiny, little control station deep inside my skull (more or less how an introvert moves through the world), so things are often at a bit of a remove. Real things, like people, nature, and life. I’ve been doing this long enough, though, to have it impressed upon that skull of mine that there are a few people out there with a better grasp on things than what I’ve got. Or at least more experience. (Hence the aforementioned “get over yerself, kid.”) I’m not exactly meaning to crowdsource my therapy to the Huns. Though I won’t be upset if something works better than what I’m doing these days (really, I just can’t afford to self-medicate with the Good Stuff.) What do y’all do? Or, what have you done in the past that’s worked well?

By Angels For Angels

So I sent my poor husband off to deal with electrician.  I have a good reason.  Electrician has a Russian accent.  Imagine us trying to communicate.  Now stop laughing.  Yeah.  Like that. So I have maybe an hour before other electrician comes by to give us his estimate and who knows how long before appliance movers (could be a few minutes.)

This brings me to something I was musing about this morning, right after I figured out what it meant that the lack-brains at File 770 (henceforth club 770) linked back to my post with “the hydrophobia that falls on you from nowhere” because apparently my saying something about “arrangements that must be made for people of different orientations as reproduction and sex become more divorced from each other” means I’m homophobic.  This despite the fact that you don’t need to scratch very deep in this blog to figure out I was pro gay marriage well (WELL) before their sainted president evolved.

Apparently not wanting to get lost — in an unrelated post — in the weeds of “no, I don’t think even temporary or multiple marriage are out of the question, but I don’t think we should force churches or people of different beliefs to ENDORSE any such accommodations, provided they’re legal.” makes me homophobic.

I know of course that part of this is the moral superiority stakes from the other side.  They must be better, more open, more tolerant.  And if they’re not, they’ll calumny you to feel superior.

Which would be fine, if for some reason their estimation of themselves and the rest of the human race weren’t so grimdark.

I.e. if these were reasonable people who think that human beings are normally fairly decent, but of course have a dark side too.

These are not reasonable people.

Look, I’m by disposition an introvert.  I can “flip” to a public persona and pass for extrovert, but if I’ve been sick (like now) or am not up to snuff, you can see me engage in championship marathons of avoiding human contact, to the point someone meeting me for the first time will think I hate them.

And like most people of a bookish and Odd disposition I went through some time periods of being considered a social pariah by most of my peers.  (like, being a libertarian professional sf/f writer.  No, I joke.  Like Middle School.)  Particularly when you’re young and not outgoing it’s easier to conflate this with “humanity is horrible and lives to hurt others.”  Particularly when one is exposed to the peaceful interaction of an all-girls’ school, of course.

But those are time periods (most of them in my teens.)

There is a reality check.  One doesn’t need to know much about the world, history or how grim things get some places and time to know that even in the middle of all that darkness there is unexpected kindness and love from humans who have nothing to gain by doing it.  One doesn’t need to be an angel to know that one’s worst impulses are checked by one’s best.

So — how can a whole swath of political opinion assume that unless tightly restricted by government individual humans are the scum of the Earth?  They clearly do.  It speaks loud and clear from their work, their entertainment choices, and assuming their entire opposition OVER A SCIENCE FICTION AWARD are “neo nazis” or “racist, sexist, homophobic” even in the face of blatant proof to the contrary.

Dorothy Grant in an unrelated post talked about what she found in a “fan” site:

I had occasion recently to go to a site that I rarely frequent, and skimmed the first three articles to get a feel for the place. The first was praising the gory dehumanizing of a show named Hannibal, which stars the eponymous serial killer. The second was a review of a season of Game of Thrones, lusting for more rape and murder. The third article was a book review praising a “dark fantasy” where a woman is traded by her people to a dark wizard.

I won’t be back, because the very tone was dreary and debased. No amount of top-end design or beautiful visuals can make up for content like that. This is what happens when people focus for too long on the darkness they strain to see in every human heart, so that they might declare themselves superior. There is no joy there, no sense of wonder, no hope, no celebration of mercy, charity, hard work, or moral principles. These people do not laugh, except to cover themselves in case someone attacks their attack as insufficient or overreaching: “It was just a joke!” is their defense as they scuttle away.

There can be no celebration of achievement, only open season to attack in the cleverest way upon its announcement. This is moral bankruptcy, and that the knives came out in comments is absolutely unsurprising. The knives are always out, and they’re always circling to see who’s got the best cut, and praise them while planning a more clever cut or backstab.

I had nothing to contribute there.

And it’s not that there isn’t a place for that kind of fiction, mind.  The same way it’s not that there isn’t a place for assuming someone is an homophobe.  It’s the fact that they assume these things by default, sight unseen, and that most of the “serious” fiction, SF/F and not has become this parade of small minds and outright mean opinions of humanity as a whole.

I run into this in mystery too, where no character will be good, admirable, or even have a spark of human kindness.  These people are not even evil.  They’re “petty nasty” all the time.

Dave Freer at Mad Genius Club today talks about book printruns falling steadily and tries to figure out why.  Well, as someone who HAD walked away from reading new fiction (largely.  There were exceptions) until Amazon made it easier to read stuff that wasn’t pushed, I had done so because I was tired of the soul-sloughing POINTLESS darkness pushed at me everywhere.

Note I’m not for polyanna happy go lucky.  Well, at least I also don’t believe it and can’t write it.  My worlds tend to be grim, but even in them there’s decent people.  And most people in them are decent, for a value.

It’s just that I don’t think everyone goes around tainted with all the venal sins and with a good swath of mortal sin too.

I don’t believe, in other words, that a poor young couple straying into a rough bar would get beat up for no reason.  Not in the states, not unless racial factors intrude, by which I mean they end up in a neighborhood that’s solid new immigrant or minority and think they’re under attack.  And even then, there would need to be serious issues to cause a lethal, unprovoked attack on strangers.  There would need to be aggravating factors of a serious and unremitting order.

But they believe it, because to one reader, the “other side” (for lack of a better term) thought If You Were A Dinosaur, My Love was brilliant fiction and plausible.

Realizing this, realizing they’re stuck in that very adolescent fear of “the other” defined as “someone not in my social group” makes it easier to understand why they are so desperately interested not just in a strong government, but in a government that intrudes into every little minutia of the human life and regulates EVERYTHING. And it stops anyone even SAYING anything not approved of by the group, because — gasp, squeak, “they could be mean.”

It’s not a grown up nor balanced perspective, but it is one that one can see from someone who is terrified of all of the human race whom they view as evil ogres ready to thump their poor little selves into oblivion.

I remember my 11 year old self, and wishing someone would intervene on my behalf (I was physically brave, but it was all too easy to kill me with unkindness) and I can imagine wanting a government powerful enough to “stop those evil people I’m sure are out to get me.”

The thing I don’t understand is how supposed adults (some much older than I) who have lived in the world and have such a horror of their own species and every single person in it, think that giving power to the government to intervene and stop humans being so evil is better.

Are they perhaps convinced that government is run by angels?

If not, how can they imagine that giving some humans unchecked power that those over whom they reign can’t stop or control would lead to anything but tyranny and horror?  How can they not see the advantages of limiting the power of government?  How can they not realize that most of the true evil of humanity comes not from individuals but from organized groups given power over other — not very well known — groups?  How can they not see the only antidote to that is to empower not vast faceless ill defined classes, groupings or organizations, but individuals?

I understand they want government to come and protect them from evil people.  BUT I don’t understand what they think government is composed of.

Might Not Post Till Late

Because just had a call from electrician coming in less than an hour.  You might want to go here, read this:

Until I can post.

This, That, The Other, Now With More Robots

girl-320262_1280Good morning Huns, Hoydens, Rapscallions, Dragons and Creatures of ill-repute.  This morning I woke up to Peter Grant’s blog and news of a robot-army. 

This is the money-quote:

They reportedly believe the current backlash against that company is basically ‘manufactured outrage’, deliberately stirred up by Vox Day (whose name is allegedly an expletive there now).  Some have even asserted that the thousands of e-mails complaining about Irene Gallo’s statement aren’t genuine, but the product of a bot-net, a manufactured wave of pseudo-indignation that has no foundation in reality.  Apparently Macmillan and others involved aren’t so sure about that, but it’s a defense the SJW’s are using with might and main.  It’s also apparently why almost none of us have had any acknowledgment of our complaints, not even a notification that our e-mails have been received.  (Some correspondents who requested confirmation when their e-mails were opened have received it;  others have not.)

It took me about ten seconds to make sense of this, and then it clicked.  You see, progressivism, like most closed, self-coherent, all-encompassing faiths not only has its own eschatology that involves their ultimate victory but also involves beliefs about the enemies of their proposed paradise.  Beliefs such as that they’re older, hidebound, “racist, sexist, homophobic” and bound to disappear before the light of “rational” and “scientific” Marxism.

The fact that there is nothing rational or scientific in believing that ultimate human happiness comes from an all powerful state is not important, since the Marxist faith is internally-self-consistent, which means where it meets reality it can ignore it and cut itself off from it, as not being “rational”.  (I.E. not fitting the narrative.)

This bizarre belief that thousands of pissed off fans are just a “robot army” invoked by the Lord of All Evil is one of the ways of pinching off reality and self-insulating so the faith can stay strong.  They know that those who disagree with their progressive view for the future are few, old, and frankly probably too dumb to read for fun.  They know also that VD has some mysterious mastery of the dark forces of computing which they don’t fully get.  Ergo, presto, the annoying supposed evidence they might not be right is enemy action and fakery.

And this is why communists in Europe only went through a brief, confused time after the fall of the USSR before they found their feet in the certainty the unwashed masses of the third world were really what was meant the “proletariat” who was supposed to displace capitalism and also that communism had “never really” been tried.

Self-isolating faiths with narratives about a certain future are difficult to defeat with reality.  Look at how long the followers of the prophet had their nose rubbed in unproductive desert sands, and yet they still remain sure that the future is a world Caliphate.

On the other hand, those of us who are irreverent and see this sort of sideways and upside down find this entire thing funnier than absurdist plays.  For one thing because I have for some time now suspected the extreme left suffers from some form of self-induced Aspergers which leads them to want labels on everything and everything to match the label, to the point they leave no room for humanity.  You can see this in their demand for different genders for every passing thought that doesn’t fit the usual and most commonly applied labels, to the point there are now supposed to be hundreds or thousands of different genders.  (Every man/woman/critter/snail a gender!  Towards a brave new future!)

Then there is their insistence that you can only ever write precisely what you are, though you are of course allowed to write creatures of lesser victimhood, at least according to some, but not creatures of more victimhood.  So, everyone is allowed to write straight white men, because as we know they have no victimhood, ever, but to write a lesbian, one footed, Caribbean, deaf trans-female, you must be one, or you’re stealing her victimhood (it is the precioussss after all.) Also if you are privileged (see, white, hetero, male or any of those, or…) you simply can’t understand “disadvantaged” people so you can write them.

So, despite the fact my gay friends say I can write gay males just fine, I can’t really and I’m stealing their victimhood.  (I’ll never give it back guys.  It’s going into my victimhood dungeon.  mwahahahahahah.  That’s how evil I am.)

And despite the facts that great writers throughout history — Shakespeare included — wrote about and for people they couldn’t possibly be or even anticipate (which is why Shakespeare still speaks to us) the proper way to write and read is to write and read only what we are.

Mind you, this is not a new nor even a novel notion for humans.  It echoes through the ages to Puritan banning of fiction.  There is a certain type of human that can’t comprehend creating or imagining things that don’t exist, and which wishes to restrain others’ creativity to things their robotic-selves can endorse.  (We saw some of this when the anti-gamer gaters started denying that anyone could possibly want to play anything FOR FUN.  That was infantile and silly and playing games should be for enlightenment or consciousness raising or whatever.

The sad part is to give them a voice or allow them to have a say in the fiction or entertainment fields. We end up with things that are no fun at all.

So, understand, I don’t have anything against robots, but I don’t welcome our new robotic overlords.  They don’t like us writing or enjoying imaginative stuff, that’s fine.  Just don’t do it.  We’ll continue with our fun.  You can’t stop us.

Oh, and stop projecting.  WE are not robots.  (Except for those mechanical hands holding a middle finger aloft.  We only built those because I need all ten fingers to type.  They are not me.)

Speaking of other things I’m not.  Apparently at file 770 they’ve now decided I’m ignorant of American political history because I only came here in the mid-80s as an adult, and therefore clearly, not having taken required high school courses in American history, I know nothing of anything before the middle 80s.  (Will someone retrieve my eyes?  I rolled them too far again.)

Never mind the fact I did 12th grade in the US (Stow Highschool in Stow, Ohio) and took not only AP American History, but also Comparative Political Systems. The insularity of these people is on display, as they seem to believe not only is America of no interest outside the US, but also that American publications are arcane and difficult to acquire things.  From the moment I decided on an English Major (9th grade.  It’s required) I had subscriptions to Time, Newsweek and the foreign “news” put out by the US consulate.  IOW I had the same view of American politics that American liberals had.  Later on these were joined by access to the NYT and the Wall Street Journal, usually a week late, in my college’s American Studies Library.

And yes, these were of passionate interest and hotly discussed because — again, this is hard to explain to insular people — America matters more than they think in the world.  Much of the upheavals that shook the world in the 70s were the result of Carter’s strange ideas and weak hand on the tiller.  In fact in many ways the upheavals that shake the world when America loses its mind are far more strongly felt elsewhere.  Or as my mom says “when America sneezes, the world catches pneumonia.” (They don’t understand this, because they have a bizarre dream of America disappearing and the world becoming better off thereby.  This is because they think the world is zero sum.  Never mind.)

Beyond all that, what shocked me about that POV was their apparent assumption that people don’t read or study anything for FUN if they didn’t learn it in school.  I tend to read more or less constantly (it’s a reflex) and am constantly trying to fill in blank parts in my field of knowledge.  American history has been less of a fixation for me than other areas of history until the last five years or so, but let us be rightly understood, HISTORY is a 100 years ago or MORE.  American current events, which are anything from then on, are and have always been a passionate interest, part of my degree (I had a class called American Studies for four years running) and frankly a minor obsession.

One wonders if it’s part of the robotic point of view that they can’t imagine doing anything outside their programing and therefore everyone else MUST be the same.

Speaking of robotic: the cough and auto-immune mess (eczema included) are subsiding some — say halfway back to normal — but some of the meds are… weird.  The steroids make me a little hot on the trigger, something that Lin Wicklund had warned me about and part of the reason I’ve avoided them like poison, because, you know, excitable Latin is already bad enough normally, I don’t need enhanced heat on the trigger. I’m trying to compensate for it.

However the sneaky insidious med is the cough syrup with codeine, apparently at the level that they prescribe for throat-cancer patients (and contemplate this, for the firs three days it barely dented my cough) because I didn’t realize it was doing anything beyond making me sleep.  Until I discovered I was doing things like wandering away from half completed tasks without realizing I was doing it.  Or reading things that weren’t there.  (Though “East Anglian Stormtrooper” was a funny misread in a medieval mystery for “east Anglian Sharpshooter.”)  Or starting to take the bottle of refinisher to my lips, before the smell stopped me (after which I made sure that I kept my water bottle elsewhere and didn’t drink while working on the wood.)

So I’ve been a bit robotic myself.

On the good side, I’m almost 100% sure this was all caused by latex paint.  Yesterday I tried to do a very little touch up on latex paint, and the coughing started, though it hadn’t through the use of turpentine or stain.

Now, I’ve never before been allergic to latex and certainly not latex paint, but due to the surgery, etc, my endocrine system is in flux (that’s a way to put it) and also under stress, and also frankly I’ve never painted as much as I have now at a stretch, which makes it worse, I’m sure.

Anyway, this is actually good news because sons know how to paint walls, while the refinishing of the elaborate Victorian woodwork is more art than science and would have been a right b*tch to try to convey to them.  I’m sometimes mixing more than one stain to get different-age woods to match, and I’m working from 30 years wood finishing experience, plus whatever I acquired following my carpenter-grandfathers around.  It wouldn’t be as easy to get across.  Besides, I have automatic rollers and my guys are guys.  They love automatic anything.

Which brings us back to robots, I guess.  Hopefully I don’t get robotic in-laws, but hey, what happens, happens.

Meanwhile, I’ve been reading KULL fiction, which is mostly indie, and a quick (non-robotic) pro-tip to those of you laboring in that vineyard: if you’re writing genre fiction, make sure the genre elements come in early enough.

What I mean by this is introduce the science fiction, fantasy, or mystery element in the first few chapters, please.  (Preferably the first chapter.) Look, when I’m reading a medieval mystery, I’m not averse to lavish descriptions of medieval England, but by chapter five there should be a crime being investigated, not merely a “tension” and vague mentions of spying, okay?  In this case, I side with the robots.  When I buy something because of what it says on the tin, I want what it says on the tin.

Your book might be a dessert topping and a floor wax, but it should taste good when on the dessert and make the floor shine, not just one or the other.

And that’s all for now, oh, (robotic) Hunnish hordes.  Go forth and enjoy the day and remember your programming: Bring chaos and mayhem according to plan.  No one likes unplanned, random chaos.

Oh, wait.  We do.   Right.  Go forth and plan on unplanned chaos.

I go and have cough syrup.