Lady Sings the Blues – Cedar Sanderson

Lady Sings the Blues – Cedar Sanderson

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Narrative Goes On And On

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And also the accountant’s history:

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

And yet, despite all this AND this:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Waiting.

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

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

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

 

Do A Little Dance, Get A Little Book!

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

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

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

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

Peter Grant

Ride The Rising Tide

The Maxwell Saga Book 2

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

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

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

Jeb Kinnison

Red Queen

The Substrate Wars

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

A Passion For Cubbyholes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And that’s a good thing.

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

The Crystal Ball

My crystal ball is on the blink again. I think one of the cats peed on it.

Fortunately it still works as well as anyone else’s. None of us knows the future.

It is a curious thing of being human that we want to treat time as a two way street, seeing ahead as we see behind.

We peer into the cloudy future populated with unborn people and prognosticate: “we’re on the right side of history” or “the future is clearly less religious than the past” or– A million other things.

Now before you point at me and say “you do that too” – of course I do. Science fiction is to an extent the collective dreaming about the future. Sort of like a kid lying in bed at night and daydreaming of being grownup.

In other words, what separates the feeling of reading fantasy from the feeling of reading science fiction is that science fiction is marginally plausible.

Oh, the details might be wrong, the science might change, but how many of us reading it almost think we could be part great great grandparents to Johnny Rico? (In which case the chronology is wrong too, but we know that.)

Part of the thrill of science fiction is “it could turn out that way” while with fantasy, well, no.

But the important thing to keep in mind when peering into that sort of crystal ball is that what we’re actually seeing is not a crystalized image, a hard-nosed reality. It’s fiction. Fiction written in the light of research interacting with the writer’s own predispositions and prejudices. By which I don’t mean the litany of SJW evils like racissss and sexisss and – d*mn it, can’t they come up with a word for homophobe that ends in isssss? – but the opinions and ideas the writer brings with him to writing. You can’t be of an age to write a novel without having some opinions you’ve integrated to the point you don’t examine them. Whether those opinions are that women are exactly the same as men, or they are that men (or women) are inferior, all these are prejudices.

The other important thing to keep in mind is that “research” part. And by research in this case I mean that anyone who would make prognostications about the future, even “we’re on the right side of history” blurted on their blog needs to have read broadly enough in history and the biographies of people who lived at the time, to be able to say so with any degree of confidence. This reading should not confine itself to a single point of view, or a single century.

Now, I have done this – no great virtue, I read history for fun – and I can look to the past and see some trends for the future. I can see our self proclaimed elites as not all that different from various out of touch classes of the past, which is why I say in the end we win, they lose.

OTOH the past is an imperfect mirror. We now have technologies and abilities they didn’t have, and furthermore could acquire new ones at any minute. One of those “mind-control” things that DARPA is rumored to be studying comes through and it’s game over. The elites can control a mass of sheep and the boot stomps on the human face forever. (Or does it? Perhaps sheep controlled by mind rays don’t produce enough food. Perhaps nutritional deficiencies loosen the mind control. Perhaps–)

That is the other important thing to remember. The past through tomorrow might be a good idea for time travel, but tomorrow through the past is always imperfect. You’re reading shadows and penumbras.

Humans are complex creatures and the civilizations they create are infinitely complex and confused. You can’t ever be sure you have all the factors that led to the fall of Rome, for instance. At least every other year we get another theory that “explains” it, but all of them together they’re still not complete.

You can look at our society and see certain trends seen in Rome or China or monarchic France and say “we’re in trouble.” What you can’t say is “we are doomed.”

Many of these same trends were present in Regency England, and yet the greater glory of the Empire under Victoria was ahead of them. Heck, many of the trends were present in England during the War of the Roses, but look what was yet to come that would project that island out of its bonds and into global prominence.

Granted, none of this is as crazy as the SJWs claiming they’re on the right side of history because they’re victims and therefore they’ll win while fighting against the twin forces of Christianity/capitalism which brought most of the improvements in the treatment of minorities/oppressed we see today. (That setting all the captives free thing? Yeah, not an accident.)

But it’s still crazy.

The thing about the future is that it’s so hard to predict.

Which is why there’s so much room for science fiction. And why science fiction is needed. And why diversity of points of view on what the future holds is needed too.

If you only read 1984 and that was the only book ever written about the future, you’d think it was inevitable and interpret every corroborative detail in the present as “this is where we’re headed.”

But if you read … oh, Friday too, you start wondering if 1984 maybe is only in Britain, and what is happening in the rest of the world?

Then you can see “this trend leads here, but his one leads there” and start choosing what to reinforce and what to undermine, according to your beliefs and knowledge.

Here’s the thing: no SFNal future is true. No prediction of politician, dictator or king will ever be true. Not in its entirety. The smart thinkers with thick knowledge of history will be right some of the time.

However prophets of total doom or total victory for their side are almost always totally wrong. The future like the past is never unambiguous.

Which is why I can say I think we’ll win this one, but I won’t say “we’re on the right side of history” nor do I seek moral authority from it. My moral authority resides in the side that has made life the most comfortable for the most people in all of history, and in believing more comfort and more people are a good thing.

I don’t seek the approval of future generations, who likely will have their own priorities, nor do I rest on their imagined backs to say “Oh, look, I’m moral because generations yet unborn will agree with me.”

Beware of anyone who does that. He’s either brainwashed, a fool or a charlatan.

Or “yes.”

To Your Unwashed Clothes Go

So, recently I had to buy a washer. Okay, didn’t have to, but while we’re between houses, it is a great convenience. We decided to make this our difficult move, so that hopefully after the house sells and we buy another we can have an easy move, in which someone packs us and unpacks us at the other end. That means this is the move where we go through the accumulation of stuff we’ve been dragging with us for years and get rid of most of it.

It also means having a washer at the house we’re moving to and the one we’re moving out of is helpful. At the first because it’s now the basis of operation. At the other because we’re cleaning stuff to donate, stuff to pack, stuff to use for staging (curtains, bedspreads and such.) Also because one of the boys will be staying there till it sells, of course.

So, we needed to buy a cheap washer. I tried buying a used one, but it gave up the ghost after four washes.

So we’ve been going through adds and trying to find something on sale, the point being “as cheap as possible” or “on a no interest for x years, no payment for x months payment plan” in the hopes that once we sell the house we can just pay it.

A little over a week ago we went to the store for paint and while there strayed over to the washers. They had one that was ridiculously, almost painfully cheap. So cheap it hadn’t been on any of their brochures or on their website. Beyond simplistic, it has three wash settings and a few buttons. You can’t even choose extra rinse, though you can dial to that point and run it again.

This was a concern, because I have eczema, which means the slightest bit of detergent left on clothes and I’ll react by opening sores all over. Those who’ve seen me in the middle of an outbreak know why I put three to four extra rinses on my clothes.

So we ambled over to look at an almost double the cost washer which had the ability to program extra rinses.

The saleswoman joined us at that point and we explained our dilemma.

She looked at the cheap washer and said, “Well, this one has no water saving measures, so it will use lots and lots of water.”

At which point I said, “Sold. When can you deliver it?”

She looked shocked and said, “Maybe you didn’t understand. This washer will cost you lots of money in water.”

“I understood you perfectly. This washer will save me time and money. When we first got married we were more broke than anyone, and we needed a washer, a dryer and a fridge. We got them at a scratch and dent sale [I thought it was Sears, but husband says it’s GE.) A tent sale which defrayed payment for a year before installments started. We saved for a year and made exactly one payment, in full, no interest needed.] It was a basic washer, no frills, and it was before water saving measures. It washed everything for 14 years, including the days of three loads of diapers a day. Neither I nor the kids ever had a contact rash from detergent OR softener, which I used. For the last sixteen years we’ve had expensive , top of the line, water saving washers. I’ve also had to discard clothes that have permanent can’t remove stains. And I have to rinse each load three to six times, or I get eczema.”

Saleswoman, smug, “You’re using too much detergent.”

Me, “Listen, we were down to two teaspoons for a large load, then we started using the pellets which at least clean the clothes, though they still take all this rinsing.”

“Oh, I don’t like the pellets and you’re still using too much detergent.”

Son, who is a chemist, “Ma’am, with all due respect, soap is the agent that cleans the clothes. If you eliminate it completely, unless you wash in boiling water, you’re going to have wet but dirty clothes.”

“But the cheap washer will cost you lots of water,” the woman says, looking as if she’s going to cry. “Think of the environment.”

“I am. My environment is improved by clean clothes and water and time savings.”

“But the water.”

“What do you think I rinse the clothes in when I program extra rinses? Plus each load takes a good two hours.”

“But that washer is bad for the environment.”

Which is when I realized I was in the presence of a true believer whose mind would not be dented by facts. I let Dan lead her to the computer and make up the order, and older son has nicknamed me “She who makes washer saleswomen cry.”

So, what is the point of this? If it were just a funny story about buying a washer, I might still tell it, but it’s not.

Look, the problem is that we are being ruled (and yep, ruled, not governed) by a group of people who, like the saleswoman, think the intention is the thing.

We’ll leave aside for a moment the need or wisdom for water/electricity/etc. saving. First, in Colorado water is expensive so saving it is always a good idea. Second, that is not what their measures are achieving.

Take our first exposure to water saving toilets, twenty some years ago. We built a new bathroom and needed a toilet and the only ones for sale were “water saving.” What this meant in practical fact was that I acquired a new hobby: flushing the toilet.

The toilet worked (supposedly) with half the water, but it took four flushes to get anything, even a little bit of toilet paper, down. Do the math. I was expending twice as much water, and a lot of time and frustration. (We quickly switched to air assist. After the experience.)

In the same way, our current dishwasher complies with water and electricity saving measures. This means to achieve the same temperature, it has a thick coat of insulation ALL around. Which means it takes half the dishes at a time. Again, do the math. I have to run it for twice as long, which means no savings.

It has an additional unamusing quirk. Every time you wash, you have to select hot wash and sanitizing. Otherwise it just sloshes some water at the dishes and calls it done. We didn’t figure this out for five years which means for five years we conducted a study in epidemiology. I mean, guys, even in the village, when we were poor as Job, grandma boiled water for the final dish rinse to be as hot as possible. Otherwise you not only get not really clean dishes, you get to share the germs of everyone whose dishes go in the same water.

Then there’s the washer. The first we bought was the Neptune, years and years ago, which was so water saving it developed mold and mildew.

The current one recycles the water, so it washes better, but the rinses must happen, and the rinses, again, make it use the same water as anything else. All the low-water washers need a lot of rinses.

“But Sarah, you have a condition that makes you sensitive to detergent. Other people don’t.”

Granted. Which is why there hasn’t been an uprising with pitchforks, or at least washing mangles, yet. Because for the last five years I’ve been a slave to that washer and I’ve always been behind in the wash to the point that we ended up buying four times the clothes we needed, because the wash was bound to be backed up. When each load takes a minimum of two hours (the boys also react to detergent) and you have 14 or so loads a week (not counting cats peeing on Robert’s bed – yes, always his bed. Don’t know why) things slow to a crawl.

And the answer “Oh, you need to use less detergent.” BUT the cleaning went down in proportion to the detergent going down.

I’m not going to talk to other “eco friendly” measures or not extensively. I don’t have the personal experience to.

I do, however, know that the curly lightbulbs were a fiasco. I know that attempts to wish into existence energy by means other than fossil fuels are either failures or scams (Solyndra) and I know that the “enhanced” with “fillers” gas destroys cars, so that they have to be replaced sooner. Now, I’m not an expert, but I’d guess the manufacturing process causes more pollution than just burning regular gas.

So why do they keep passing ever more and more restrictive laws, demanding the thing we use for everyday living meet THEIR standards which as far as I can tell they pull from air?

I think it’s the arrogant certainty that if they keep whipping the dead horse it will get up and pull the load. Or in other words, they’re sure that the only reason they’re not getting what they want is that some mean person is holding it back from them, and if they demand it loud enough and now with more laws, it will eventually be given.

Think of them as the kid throwing himself to the floor in the candy isle and screaming for candy, refusing to hear his mother’s answer that she has no money. That’s about what they are: tyrannical, demanding, infantile and blind to reality.

And of course, when reality fails to comply with their dreams, they just scream louder. Or in this case, they pass laws which distort the simplest facts of daily living for the rest of us.

How long are we going to be hostage to brats who are unable to realize laws don’t cause reality to happen and words have no force to change facts of life?

How long till we get tired of being forced to do household chores inefficiently and paying for it in both time and money, without any appreciable benefit to anyone.

Eric Scheie over at Classical values, when I blogged there, had a post about there being a war on things that work.

He was right, though the intent is “creating a world where things work the way bureaucrats want them to” – which mostly means in defiance of scientific fact.

It is time to take back science, and common sense too.

And in the meantime, we can make washer saleswomen cry!

 

It’s Not Your Job to Indoctrinate My Children – Amanda Green

*For those of you who follow Nocturnal Lives, Amanda is posting the same thing the two places today.  Sorry.  My entire inner circle has been hit with interesting lives recently. – SAH*

It’s Not Your Job to Indoctrinate My Children – Amanda Green

The wonderful Dave Freer has a post up at Mad Genius Club this morning about an online encounter he had with a librarian. It seems this woman really loves her job, at least that is what she kept telling him. For a moment, I was excited to read that there was a librarian somewhere who did still love what she was doing. There are times when I feel that is as rare as finding a teacher in the public school system who truly loves teaching. All too soon, however, I realized that she didn’t really love her job. What she loved was being able to push an agenda on those who come to her for a recommendation about what they should read.

You see, like others who have been attacking the Sad Puppies, she seems to feel that anything that doesn’t fall under the aegis of the SJW cause du jour is something to be avoided at all costs. We shouldn’t be exposing the minds of our youngsters to such horrible things like Heinlein or — gasp — Correia. It is her job, her duty, to push socially relevant books and hurray for big publishing for recognizing that duty.

Sigh.

This isn’t anything new. At least the attitude isn’t. It is the same attitude I faced when my son we in elementary and middle school. Summer reading lists were the things of horror, not only as a student but as a parent. Teachers and librarians would sit there come September and scratch their heads and blame the parents when students would come back to class after the summer vacation and admit they hadn’t read many of the books on the list. Rarely did a teacher or librarian actually ask the student or the teacher why they hadn’t done so. If a parent commented on they why, we were either treated like unwashed heathens who didn’t care for our kids or we should have known there was this super secret, never to be discussed alternate reading list we could have chosen books from.

What folks like this purported librarian seem to forget is that people will not read if they are not entertained by fiction or interested in non-fiction. Force feeding kids — or adults — some artificially determined “right think” will only work for so long and only with so many folks. The rest of us, those raised to think and question will soon grow tired of the self-appointed powers-that-be trying to spoonfeed us intellectual pabulum.

Where does the blame for this fall? There is no one person or sector where the finger can be pointed. Why? Because a lot of folks had hands in it. There are those parents, all too many of them, for the last 20 – 30 years who took the stance that they didn’t have time to raise their kids or discipline them and turned it all over the the schools, only to threaten lawsuits and more when they suddenly realized the schools weren’t doing what they wanted.

Then there are the local and state governmental bodies that control the school districts, either directly or through funding. Athletics — read football — were promoted while minor little courses like languages, art, music and the like were cut back or cut out altogether. Back in the dark ages of my elementary school days, we had music every day. We had French and Spanish lessons two to three times a week. We had recess, something else that all too many schools have done away with because someone’s little darling might be picked last for the kickball team and have his feelings hurt or little Susie might fall and scrape her knee and we just can’t have that.

I also blame the federal government for forcing things like No Child Left Behind on districts without anyone really thinking about how it would impact most districts. In order to fulfill the requirements of that horrid piece of legislation, all too many districts wound up gearing their curriculum to the lowest common denominator in the classroom instead of spending the money for programs to help bring that lower denominator up.

Oh, wait, I forgot. Too many districts that would have done just that couldn’t for too many years because of another wonderful piece of state legislation (at least here in Texas). We had the Robin Hood provision where the more affluent (and boy did they have an odd definition of affluent since my mainly blue collar to middle management district was included) school districts had to send a proportion of their monies to the lesser well-off districts. The result of that was that all districts were harmed.

And, in the middle of all that, while concerned parents were watching their school buildings age and technology wear out while new football stadiums were being built or new natatariums, what are children were being given to read went from inspiring biographies and histories and fiction that made our kids’ imaginations soar to “socially relevant” books. Think about it. As a kid, especially one on your summer break, what would you want to read? A book about Hank Aaron and his baseball career or one about a 13 year old in the projects who had been raped by her uncle? Would you rather read Have Spacesuit Will Travel or read about teen suicide?

But it is even worse than that. The books our kids are being forced to read, the textbooks they have to study for class teach them that it is bad to be an American. If you have a son, he is taught that he has to atone for the “sins” of all the men who came before him. That is especially true if your son is of the pale variety. We have districts adopting curriculum that alters words and phrases from our core political documents so they now support the current SJW causes.

But we, those who remember what those documents say and those who don’t want our school indoctrinating our children to become parodies of the Stepford Wives or Westworld, are the evil part of society.

It is past time for us to step up to people like the librarian Dave interacted with and say “No. It isn’t your responsibility to teach my child anything. If my child comes to you, looking for a book about climate or ecology or even wanting a fun science fiction novel, you don’t give him a book that concludes with humans evil and must be destroyed to save Mother Gaia. If my son comes to you wanting a book with adventure in it, you don’t give him one where the bad guy is automatically the businessman and the good guy. You don’t give him a book where someone is declared evil just because he happens to be male. You don’t get to choose what topics and stances my child gets educated in, especially since you are not educating. You are trying to indoctrinate.”

In short, it is time for parents to take back the job of parenting. It is time for educators to remember what the word “education” means. Hell, if they still don’t get it, point them to what happened last week with Brian Williams. Here was a so-called respected reporter who got caught “misremembering” the events that happened in an active war zone. He chose to make the story about himself instead of remembering that the duty of a reporter is to report the news, not make it. Unfortunately, that is something all too many of his fellow “journalists” have also forgotten.

But the fact of the matter is, our education system has forgotten that it is there to educate. That means you give students all sides of an issue and you teach them how to examine the facts, draw inferences and come to their own conclusions. But maybe that is too abstract of an idea for our liberal arts colleges to wrap their collective minds around these days. It is so much easier to simply tell students what they should think and believe in and then turn them loose like a bunch of lemmings and see how many of them actually jump off the cliff into the pile of glitter that awaits all true SJWs.

No Excuses, No Regrets

No Excuses, No Regrets

 

I was talking to Charlie yesterday about the problem of “social justice writing.” By which we mean writing that is more concerned with conveying the “right message” delivered by the “approved group” writer than with telling an entertaining/uplifting or otherwise interesting story-that-earns-its-own-keep.

First of all, of course, there is the fact that a story that relies on “right think” to justify its right to exist might not bother with less glamorous bits of craft such as making sure your reasoning makes sense throughout, or that you have established the character’s traits to evoke an emotional response from the reader and catharsis at the end of the story.

In fact, in this “writing to effect social change” shares the exact same drawbacks as writing fan fiction. As a former fan fiction writer (Jane Austen fanfic. Yeah, I know. Exciting. Shud up.) I’m just glad I was a professional before I started playing in fanfic. It is all too easy to acquire bad habits from writing fanfic. For instance, if you’re writing Pride and Prejudice fanfic, all you have to do is name the character Lizzie, even if you set it in modern day, and the reader immediately imbues it with every characteristic of the Jane Austen character, without your having to do any heavy lifting. In the same way if you name a character Whickam, everyone knows he’s a cad or worse and never mind making his faults believable or foreshadowing them.

Writing the politically correct story is much the same thing: introduce a minority character, be it racial, sexual or religious, in one of the approved “categories” and the readership, which are “fans” of social justice will immediately imbue that “victim character” with all the characteristics of noble victims ever penned since Jean Jacques Rosseau rode the noble savage into the sunset.

Because of that, “message writing” will always be inferior to “entertainment writing” when viewed in the dispassionate cold light of day.

Change how fashionable the message is (and frankly the left seems to do that every few years, as a matter of course) and today’s “masterpiece” becomes a story only of interest to historians of passe modes of thinking, if not an outright heresy to the people trying to pretend that we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

But there is more moral peril to “message writing” because of the very mode of thought it encourages amid its practitioners; a mode of thought best described as “seeing oppressors under every bed.”

I’ll illustrate by admitting that when I first came to the US, within the first three years, I fell in with a group of people who were generally minorities (racial, sexual, cultural.) Nothing strange about this. A lot of my friends (perhaps a majority) still fall in those categories. However, my group these days is mostly conservative or libertarian or yes, which makes them a completely different type of creature.

You see, the first few friends I made were people who obsessed over what today would be called “micro-aggressions.” Oh, macro too. And there was some reason behind their paranoia (and mine, at the time.) Where I was at the time, and the faux-pas I committed as I tried to adapt to living in the US did cause a lot of very strange reactions, and some of them outright hostile. Some of my friends at the time had similar causes of complaint.

I mean, just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

For instance in my first (retail) job every guy (including the ex con) and every “white” (mostly blond) woman was taught how to open the safe and trusted with it, but myself and the black woman (who had an MBA and was only working retail due to a recent divorce, while looking for another job) were not. However, when money went missing, we were the only two people questioned. (Turned out the ex-con was taking money out of the safe whenever he felt like going out to dinner. I know you’re shocked.) This was definitely outrageous, but instead of taking from it that one should strive not to work for *ssholes, we took from it that everyone was bigoted against poor little us.

Anyway, at some point, it hit me that we were getting together to share grievances, and that most of our conversation, not to say most of our thoughts revolved around injustices done to us and how unfair the world was.

And then it occurred to me that more than a few of my friends, and to an extent I, myself, were using these ‘injustices’ inherent in the system (so to put it) to justify not doing anything, not trying anything and not making any efforts to improve our (relatively invidious position.)

Now, I want you to know that yes, there were injustices against us. It wasn’t all in our head. And yes, we were in a relatively difficult position.

But that wasn’t the point. Having realized the effect it was having on me; realizing that my resentment and my feeling of being victimized were holding me captive, I decided to set myself free.

I broke up with my comfortable/encouraging/justifying crowd overnight, and resolved that while I might be discriminated against, I didn’t have to let it define me. That is, while people might think I was less capable, I wouldn’t allow them to make me less capable.

For my own sake, not theirs, I would from then on ignore any discrimination against me (save for occasionally finding it very funny, like when the school was persuaded my younger son had a speech impediment because my husband and I spoke Russian at home. [Why Russian? And why poor Dan who was born and raised in New England and Ohio?]) and proceed to take no excuses for underperforming.

I might or might not be able to prove discrimination against me. I might or might not be in fact discriminated against in some particular. But the fact remained that I couldn’t control those who might or might not discriminate against me. I couldn’t even predict it, or the reason why.

Discrimination is not, as the left seems to believe, a rare thing or confined to minorities. Yes, I know, part of the reason they go crazy about white male “privilege” is that they assume there’s a hierarchy and that white males are the least discriminated against.

I suppose that is true if the white male is you know, one of the Norse gods with inherent superior looks and abilities. But even white males are never exactly what it says on the package. Any white male of less than say five feet six is going to be discriminated against. So is any over 300 lbs. So is any who is just Odd enough to have to back-engineer other people’s reactions to figure out how to react himself. So is any who is too smart or stupid for his own good.

In fact, once you figure out the various kinds of white male, there is no privilege left. And the same for every other “category” of human.

So, most of the time, the obvious form of discrimination against me comes in reaction to my accent. And it’s not even exactly unjustified. I find myself worrying, too, when talking to someone with an obvious accent. You’re not sure they can understand you, and you automatically dumb-down the talk.

But I’ve also been discriminated against because of culture. And I don’t mean Latin (though the boss in that first retail store being a dumb *ss did think I was Mexican. He also thought my name was Feliz (as in Feliz Navidad) – loooong story.) Many people (my inlaws included) just don’t “get” science fiction and fantasy. My mother in law thought and might still think that I invented “grown up stories with elves” and at one time told me I should write for children because ‘they’re the only ones with a mind as open as yours.’ She’s not alone, though most people in that position wouldn’t dare voice it to my face, so I don’t know most of them.

I was even discriminated against when I was young and slim and pretty for being young and slim and pretty and fairly well dressed. For instance, at a gathering of an unnamed high IQ society I was repeatedly asked whose date I was.

The truth is that people make judgments based not on social justice but on past experiences/what they’ve read and watched/the bottomless depths of their own weirdness. The good people revise them later, but almost every one of us has been discriminated against for something or other. And sometimes for nothing at all, but the idea in someone’s head when they first saw us.

Having realized this, I figured that if I became hung up in every time that someone didn’t treat me fairly I’d be paralyzed.

And so, in my head, I’ve decided I’ll ignore those who discriminate against me. (Save for occasionally pointing and making duck noises, because that’s only fair.)

If I let their oppression define me, I’ll be a captive of the impotence that their oppression engenders.

If I ignore it, pretend I’m the mistress of my own fate, and continue pushing to get better and to do what I want to do, then no one can stop me. Because it’s all dependent on me and how hard I’m willing to work.

And that is how I have avoided the moral hazard of victimhood. And why I feel sorry for all the writers entrapped into writing “socially relevant” fiction that enshrines and deifies victimhood.

The chains of defining yourself as a victim are a tourniquet wrapped around the soul.

The only way to stop it is to declare yourself free and ignore those you think are trying to limit you. The only way to break the chains is to believe you alone are responsible for your state of happiness and prosperity or lack thereof. Yes, other factors (including the animosity of strangers) might influence that state, but if you are willing to work hard enough you can overcome additional factors. And if you aren’t willing to work hard enough nothing, not even the most favorable of circumstances, can make you successful.

The chains of victimhood are insidious and will destroy your soul as well as your writing.

Fortunately the key to freedom is in your own hands.

Refuse excuses.

Set yourself free.

 

A Game Of Mirrors

I remember a more innocent time when we watched Law and Order AND didn’t snert behind our hands at “Ripped from the headlines.”

Now we don’t watch it, but my eyes on twitter has been branching out, and he told me their gamer gate episode was about how all these guys were upset at there being a female game developer, so they kidnapped her and raped and stuff.

Uh.

How can they even? I mean, the worst PROVEN thing that happened to one of the SJW shills in gamergate was that someone wished she would kill herself, which she helpfully translated as “death threats.”

And Dan works in software and has for 30 years (though now the software has a math component at last) and the only time he hasn’t had a colleague who is in the same profession in his office and is female is for the last three years, and that’s because there’s only two developers. (They do have a female co-worker, but she does non-software stuff.)

Now, I know software isn’t the same as game design and gaming, but I’d be willing to bet there’s a massive overlap/similarity of conditions.

Female developers isn’t even a surprise. There might be fewer than men (not where my husband has worked, but hey) but not many fewer and they run the gamut. From what I understand, there are fewer in game development but if they are true geeks, they’re not only accepted but lionized. (I’ve experienced a similar effect as a space/science fiction true geek, (meaning I spaz on the concepts/science, not the feels) a community in which females are pretty scarce. Let me tell you, once a guy realizes I really am interested in space travel, it doesn’t matter how ignorant I am (and I am.) All their lives women have looked at them quizzically over this obsession. Finding out a woman shares it brings forth their very best.)

Besides, though I admittedly am not a gamer, I have skimmed enough articles to know that the problem here is not that WOMEN are writing anything, it is that there was suspicion of corruption in game journalism which happened to involve women. And also, as the catfight extended, that some gamers disliked a certain type of games they felt were getting unfair good reviews. Is that true? Don’t know. However, judging from the arguments the other side put out “games shouldn’t be fun” and “escapism is bad for you” I’d say whether journalists were corrupted by coochy or not, they’ve been corrupted by the same sort of “fake promise of prestige” that has seduced science fiction reviewers. In other words, they’ve become convinced of the rather juvenile idea that the purpose of entertainment (which is ultimately what science fiction and games are) shouldn’t be fun, but should be a lever for “changing society.”

And then I started thinking of other “moral panics” driven by the media (and they never tell you they were driven by the media, no matter what basis there was or wasn’t for things.)

Take the militia panic of the nineties. Every TV show, every conspiracy, the answer was “militias.”

There never was any real basis for it. Sure, there were crazy people. Fundamentalist cults. White supremacists hiding out in the country.

There always are. This is a very large country. There were even militias. We know. We were friends with a guy who was in one. He owned a large amount of guns and so did his friends. On the weekend they engaged in healthy exercise and shooting up targets.

Were they a menace to the government? Not any legitimate government. Not even Clinton. They were however concerned with the direction of the government expansion and they were survivalists preparing in the eventuality the S would hit the fan.

So, how to spin an entire moral panic out of this?

Well, you see, the media was guilty. To wit they were guilty of covering up for Clinton when his attorney general caused the death of the Korresh cult and when his ATF killed a family of white supremacists. [It has been pointed out to me Ruby Ridge happened under George H. W. Bush.  I checked and this is true. [And not a surprise.  H.W. or his son for that matter, were not exactly anti-statists] It is interesting in my mind I remember it as happening later, under Clinton. Now, I got my news at the time from TV and the papers.  It tells you something that when I heard a lot about it was under Clinton, to justify crackdowns on “militias.” The murders might have happened earlier, but the full court press was under Clinton.]

I’m not saying, understand, either of those sets of people were good people, but they were the victims here, not the perpetrators.

In this country there are always crazy people doing crazy things. There are very few crazy things anyone deserves to die for.

But under Clinton this stuff happened, and the only way to deflect it was for the press to go on an almighty panic about “militias.” Until people forgot what the question is.

Or take the “satanic child abuse” panic of the eighties. If you hear the media talk about it now, this was the result of some fundamentalist parents going crazy and stuff. (Rolls eyes.)

In fact I was there and lived through it. I remember the TV programs filled with speculation, when they weren’t trotting out psychologist-abused children to babble lurid details. I remember newspaper articles going on and on about ZOMG satanic cults, their history, etc. For pages and pages, and pages.

I don’t remember any PROGRAMS on it, but then back in the eighties I was new in the country and the shows Dan and I watched were mostly vintage star trek and old sitcoms. There probably were some, though. These things always seem to be a coordinated effort between news and entertainment, one winding the other up.

Anyway, just from the headlines/tv programs, one would be excused in thinking that every daycare was a danger. So everyday parents who had to work and put kids in daycare worried. As they should have, given the barrage of “truthful” and “respectable” sources claiming this.

The truth behind it was a little more complex, and has been swept very deep indeed. I don’t know how many of you even remember this, because possibly you might have needed to be in the circles I was at the time (mostly my brother’s circles, which were hippie/ex-hippie/avant guarde. I mean, in my teens we watched an Ingmar Bergman film cycle in the smallest theater in town. You know what I mean.)

There was a very hip, very transgressive, very intellectual and credited in intellectual circles, idea that children were (and should be) inherently sexual with adults, and that to withhold sex from them retarded their development and trampled their rights. (Now my brother’s circle – at least to my knowledge – never engaged in the active side of this, not being thus inclined. One of the fondest memories of my childhood was going to the beach at eight with a group of ten or so long haired (male) hippie freaks, and – since we couldn’t afford a changing booth and they just wore their swim trunks under their clothes – having them form a circle facing outwards, so I could use the center of the circle to change in.)

I heard an echo of that in Marion Zimmer Bradley’s testimony. It was clear she’d heard this theory and internalized it, which caused her to buy the excuses of her pedophile husband. Science fiction writers – and readers – being Odd are capable of convincing themselves of the strangest things. As in “you have to be very smart/an intellectual to believe that utter bullsh*t.”

And I can’t tell you this for sure, because a) I was very young. b) there was no alternative media and this stuff has been pretty thoroughly memory-holed, though you can sometimes find echoes of it, particularly in European stuff, but I suspect our media and intellectual establishment fell for that theory head over heels.

Then when they realized the absolutely horrendous results and that child abuse leaves the victims scarred for life, (if not in therapy.) they swung around and created a whole moral panic over those other people abusing children. In this case the “other people” being some sort of mystical believers, though at the time they weren’t bold enough to accuse Christians. But after all, Satanism if a co-dependent belief with Christianity, so that was fine.

And then when that panic was revealed to be crazy, they accused everyone but themselves of it.

Now the panic is that in these geeky/low prestige fields people the journalists don’t fully understand are afraid of “the other” be they women, people of other races or sexual minorities.

This one is so weird that it leaves me trying to grasp it. As I said, all the geeky fields I know are not just welcoming but ridiculously welcoming of women who are genuinely interested in their passion. It’s the only thing that explains why at my age and avoir du pois I count as “hot” in my circles. But not only is it what the other side believes and resets to, but it is clearly and obviously the “narrative” that will be pushed.

They want to believe the issue people have with the way science fiction has gone, the way games are reviewed, etc are because some imaginary troglodytes, in a cave, probably in Alabama, object to the fact the people creating sf/f and games have innies instead of outies.

The thing doesn’t pass the smell test.

So, what is the truth of it?

The press and the intellectual establishment (which includes the publishing establishment) have been pushing science fiction into an unsaleable/unpopular direction for years. They had, for a while, control of what ended up on shelves, and people didn’t see anything else. They still have control of news.

And the direction they’ve been pushing in is “it shouldn’t be entertaining. It should effect social change.” (But why must it always change TOWARDS Marxism? Marx is after all a dead white male. Eleventy ;))

That is the prestige position in journalism and academia, and so that’s what’s got pushed.

However it’s been disastrous for print runs. So, as the field lays gasping and they’re all out of excuses (indie has proven that people DO still read and no, the American public isn’t illiterate) they have to justify their stunning lack of success. “It’s because we have women and minorities! The evil troglodytes hate women and minorities.”

The fact that women writers are now a majority in the field (and have been my entire professional life) and that if you add in that most editors are women there’s mighty little difference between SF cons and RWA doesn’t even give them any pause.

They’ve got to convince the public that the problem is hatred of women and minorities, because then the explanation for the collapse of the field is someone else’s fault, and they’re the enlightened heroes.

And the same, of course, goes for the gaming field. “Don’t look at the crap we’ve been praising and pushing you to buy. Don’t look at how difficult it is to find something you actually want to read/play. Buy the stuff we tell you, because otherwise you hate women and minorities, you evil h8ter.”

In fact, it is the games books vehicles of social change they’ve been pushing that are excluding of “others” if the “others” are male, or working class, or religious (of a religion not Muslim) or most things that are not white females in an academic environment.

But they hope to make enough noise and use it as the plot of enough TV shows (ripped from the headlines! Eleventy) and movies and articles to convince us they were right all along, the collapse of the field is not their fault, and we should believe them, not our lying eyes.

But we have an internet. And pointing fingers. And laughter.

I don’t think it will work.