The Great Realignment by Nitay Arbel

*Nitay had sent me this post before I did yesterday’s, and he thought it had been rendered obsolete by yesterday’s post.  I think rather, it is a good complementary post, showing I’m not air-dreaming. The symptoms are there.*

The Great Realignment  by Nitay Arbel

“Masgramondou” shared a most interesting article: about Theresa May in the UK, about whom he is about to post on his blog


In its very opening sentence, the article strikes a chord that resonates much more broadly than the UK:

Forget left and right — the new divide in politics is between nationalists and globalists. Donald Trump’s[..] nationalist rhetoric on everything from trade to global security enabled him to flip traditionally Democratic, blue-collar states and so to defeat that personification of the post-war global order, Hillary Clinton.

The presidential election in France is being fought on these lines, too. Marine Le Pen is the nationalist candidate, a hybrid of the hard right and the far left. She talks of quitting the European single currency and of bringing immigration down to 10,000 a year, while cursing international capitalism with an almost socialist fervour. Her likely second round opponent, the ex-finance minister Emmanuel Macron […] is the globalist candidate: a former […] banker who believes in a eurozone budget, the Schengen borderless area and the need for France to deregulate.

Yes, we are seeing this across the Western world. A “Great Realignment” of politics is taking place: the dividing line runs no longer between liberals and conservatives in the narrow sense, but between transnational elitism and what I would call patriotic populism. Between the Davoisie and the rest of the ‘credentialed gentry’  on the one hand, and the “barely making do”

members of the middle and working classes on the other hand. [in Theresa May’s words, the “Just About Managing”, or Jams] Between the “Brahmandarin caste”  and the rest of us.

We can indeed see this “Great Realignment” create unexpected bedfellows. Thus the cri de coeur of our Beautiful but Evil Space Mistress was applauded by outspoken social conservatives whom you would not expect to have any common cause with a flamboyantly homosexual “grandmaster troll” like Milo Yioannopoulos. (In fact, I personally have never seen Milo as a conservative at all — rather as a cultural libertarian who is as sick and tired of PC and SJW insanity.) It is a sight to see fundamentalist Christians, semi-Orthodox Jews, conservative Catholics, agnostics, and neo-pagans united in his support. What all these supporters have in common is that, wherever else they may differ, they are firmly on the populist side of the map.

Is that because we’re all dumb hicks? Nope. Several of us, for instance, have multiple advanced degrees, IQs deep in Mensa territory, or both.

Is it because we’re all provincial American chauvinists? I hate to break it to you, but some of us have lived in several countries and are fluent in multiple foreign languages.

Is it because we’re all mindless Trump admirers? Heck no. Our contingent runs the entire gamut from NeverTrumpers to MAGA hat wearers, with many of us highly ambivalent about Trump, or having been driven from NeverTrumper to reluctant Trump supporter by spiraling descent into insanity of his opponents. I could quit my day job if I got a dollar for every variation on this meme I’ve seen:

In fact, the irresponsible hyperbole and blatant intellectual dishonesty are worrisome to anyone who believes the POTUS should be kept honest, because they discredit any measured criticism if/when he will engage in overreach.

Of course, it is no surprise that the sexually libertine wing of the tranzi Left would be all too happy to take down a renegade who dares step off the plantation — these are, after all, the people who think nothing of calling a black conservative an Uncle Tom, to accuse a Jew of being a white nationalist, to attribute homophobia to an openly homosexual author, or to describe a libertarian Latina as a misogynist white Mormon male. Or, for that matter, to blame a shooting massacre at a gay nightclub, perpetrated by an ISIS supporter, on Christian homophobia. (Some “reality-based community”.) More interesting is how, in the case of a character like Milo, they find themselves strange bedfellow of some establishment conservatives. (The case of “crunchy cons” like Rod Dreher is different again, in that they have declaredly given up all hope of reforming the culture and are looking inward, seeking shelter in isolated communities of the like-minded.)

What these strange bedfellows of the “Ctrl-Left” and the “Ctrl-Right” have in common is that they are on the same side of the new divide: the one separating transnationalist elitists from patriotic populists. As much as the tranzi left may disagree with, say, a Bret Stephens (an editor I have generally admired in the past), or the National Review crowd, they have certain commonalities with them. (Mind you, this goes only so far. I was pleasantly surprised to read this thoughtful article by David French ) This has nothing to do with education or ethnic background: for instance, I’m a coreligionist of Stephens and actually have more academic credentials than he does, but a working-class childhood followed by decades of immersion in the Brahmandarin class appear to have awakened me to the self-centeredness and bubble vision of the latter.

I grew up in Europe, seeing (Euro-style) liberalism as a haven for freedom of thought. I have meanwhile gotten inured to the US group calling itself “liberal” being less tolerant of diversity of opinion (which is much more fundamental than skin-deep “fauxversity”) than most conservatives and especially libertarians. Now we’re being treated to the spectacle that dyed-in-the-wool social conservatives are in some ways more tolerant of actual people with lifestyles they consider sinful, than the Left and the establishment Right.

Somehow I find this spectacle unexpectedly… bracing.

Postscript: it is hard not to see parallels with the slain Dutch journalist and academic turned politician, Pim Fortuyn. He too was flamboyantly homosexual, deliberately spoke in provocative and at times shocking tones, fiercely criticized multiculturalism, and appealed to patriotism and the preservation of Dutch freedoms. And while his left-wing enemies tried to paint him as an extreme rightist (and actual far-rightists unsuccessfully tried to coopt him), his actual views were an amalgam of ideas from the traditional left-wing and right-wing, with a libertarian streak mixed in. Sounds familiar?




Upside Down

*I started this post about 24h ago, and then life pulled me away, and I got home too late to write.  I tried to finish it last night, but got lost in the weeds.  This morning I started discussing it with son over breakfast, and I THINK I figured out what the stops would be for people born and raised here, and what I have to address.  So, once more, with feeling.*

After the last week — sweet slithering mother of soycakes and tofu, that was SOME week — I was in a private group, where one of my friends said that our problem right now is not left against right; it’s not political correctness against free thinkers; it’s not even SJWs against Libertarians.  No.  It is the elites against everyone else and, of course, vice versa.

He said we’re in the middle of a great populist spasm.

This is true… ish.

What I mean is, I know the idea we have in our minds of a populist revolution.  But that is not … exactly what we’re facing.  It’s possible that a lot of the so called populist spasms of the past weren’t that, precisely, either, because these spasms seem to work out with incredibly regularity at moments similar to what we’re facing now.

Because of movies and books, and the inevitable Marxist gloss on anything created/taught in the last century, a lot of us think a revolution comes about when the pressure on the people being oppressed is so strong that they rise come against the oppressor, and assert the will of the people.

This is not jut crazy, it is fricking delusional.  Like most ideas Marx had and disseminated to gullible minds, it would have benefited a little bit from JUST a little exposure to the real world.

If this were the case, the Soviet Union would not have lasted, and Cuba and for that matter North Korea would be a thing of history.  As would be Venezuela for that matter.  And before you tell me “no, because those are populist movements” think very carefully, because otherwise I’ll send you to the corner without books to contemplate your sins.  This is precisely what the left thinks, that those governments are populist and “the will of the people” and that’s why no matter how horrible the suffering they haven’t been overturned.

This is not how this works.  This  is not how any of this works.

Revolution happens not when things are at their direst and when the boot of the oppressor is solidly on the neck of the people, but when conditions ease up, when things are better, when the boot lifts enough to allow movement.

Sure, the wheat harvest in France (rolls eyes.)  Pull the other one, it plays the Marseillaise.  The revolution happened not because people were starving, however bad things were momentarily, but because  things were changing really fast, and the reformist, soft leader (wanna compare him to his grandfather) was viewed as weak.

The same can be said of just about any revolution.  Horrible tyrants don’t get toppled.  Their softer, kinder successors do.

It’s enough to make you despair of the human race.  But that’s when you have to lift the hood of history and take a good look at the engine beneath.

I’m not a materialist.  Most of you know that.  But it is important not to forget the material (which bizarrely Marx by and large did, so inspired was he by his prophecy of class struggle and revolution) in your examination of human history.

Man might not be an ape, but it’s not an angel, either.  Somewhere between, there is a creature that dreams and projects, superimposed on the body of a tinkering ape.

If man craved that fruit of the tree of knowledge, it was probably because humans have a really hard time with paradise.  No matter how nice the Savannah, how plentiful the food, there would be some Odd ape who went “What if we could?” And then he made some sparks and started fire and–

The problem is this: humans crave leadership but proper leadership requires that the leader know what the heck is going on.  Leaders work, if they’re carefully trained to lead (one of the reasons Heinlein advocated breeding and raising rulers, or at least jokingly advocated it) and in our complex technocratic society, more so, but what if what they’re learning actually renders them more unfit to lead, because they can’t see conditions as they are right now?

Louis XVI paid the price of the being a leader trained for an agrarian, feudal society who was in fact installed over an industrial, fluid (in relation to the past) society.  The revolution of France was not started nor spawned by the people, the poorest of the poor who were suffering, but by the bourgeois who instigated it, because they had no place, no role, no traditional expectations.  They had to create their own place and the old order was in the way.

The same could be said for the American revolution, though that’s complicated by things like “distance” and the US still being largely rural.  Our war to adapt to the industrial revolution, our equivalent of France’s thirsty Madame la Guillotine was the civil war.  It adapted our form of government to a more centralized one, in tune with the times we were entering: times of centralized production, of vast industrial scales, and yes, of mass production, of standardized sizes and types of product.  All of this needed centralized decisions, highways, possibly at times federal grants for truly big projects in terms of energy supply or mass communication.  The road to get there was strewn with corpses and soaked in blood.

We are in such a period now.  People underestimate how big a change extremely cheap data storage and processing and communication at a distance have made.

No, mass production for some things is not going away, any more than agriculture went away.  But it is going to shrink, products are going to become more customizable.  And one size fits all government will be almost impossible, the further we get into that change.

I’ve talked about this, and the necessity to build under, build around, build over to take the weight of the structures that aren’t working.

But it wasn’t until this weekend and the conversations about last week that I GOT it.  It’s not just government.  If it were just government, it would be easy.  But the same stick hitting politics is hitting EVERYTHING from Hollywood to your local grocery store.  A lot of it is still being done the way it was ten years ago, sure, but that is probably incompetent, delusional, and quite likely hurting the business.

I know the establishment of publishing is mostly running around with its head in a sack, insisting it’s still night.  Their extended modified hangouts when from “Amazon is just a bookstore” to “Ebooks are inconvenient and the readers are expensive, it will never catch on” to “Ebooks are a thing of the past” (!) to now “those puny little indies aren’t threatening us, it must be people are reading less.  Red staters are so teh dumb.”

But they’re not alone.  The leadership of CHURCHES seems out of touch with their parishioners.  Do not even get me started on the corporate leaders, either, as they have no clue how to change  to fit where we are now, much less where we’re going.

This means that the leaders appear incompetent.  Really incompetent.  Crowds smell fear, like any wild animal.  The other things crowds do is notice failure, and the collapse and insanity of the press makes it hard for them to hide it.

Eight years ago people were sensing something was wrong.  Hiring Obama was part of this.  He was the dream-boat of the Marxists and everyone had been educated to believe Marxism (even when they weren’t told the name) was the way of the future.  I mean, it’s right there on the tin “progressive.”  It must be progress.  He had the education, he didn’t have experience in government but the media burned its last shreds of credibility to convince everyone he was a deep thinker.

Only, like managers being hired now on impeccable credentials, he was trained to administer the government of the thirties, at most.  Not the chaotic economy and intricate specializations of the oughts.

More and more people are failing like he did — by the book — and being declared successes, btw, by the similarly indoctrinated, while leaving the thing they were leading and administered in pieces behind them.

It is not their fault in a way.  Modern society requires training, but the training they’re being given, besides being infected with Marxist fantasies (this is similar to what held Catholic countries back from the industrial revolution.  All their training was religious, so it was hard to see past the ideal to the pragmatic) the techniques they’re being taught are fifty to a hundred years out of date.

Even people graduated now are already wrong, and about to become more wrong, because change keeps coming.

If you look around in the fields you know, the feeling is always that the worst possible bozos are in charge.

This is not true.  It’s easier to adapt when you don’t carry the responsibility for others, and for picking the right change for others.

But what it means in practical fact is that it’s fueling a vast tide of “populism”.  We can see that the people who are supposedly smarter and in charge really don’t get US much less the changes in what is happening around them.  They’re not taking things in account, they’re lost.  They don’t know what to do.

Let’s hope this tide is not a blood tide, though it will be, in some places, at some times.  It always is.  Man is a fighting ape.

But if you are a manager, or have the ear of one, think through things.  How everything is affected, what is likely to come next.  Then try to influence things to keep stuff going, with minimal shocks.

Because the confused and shell-shocked elites have started fighting back.  This is most obvious after the elections, and in politics, but it’s happening at all levels.  And because they don’t know why things are failing, they’re starting to get paranoid. There’s going to be a lot of deplatforming and politics of destruction ahead.  And that leads very easily to politics of physical destruction.

Be prepared.  Think about the future as well as you can.  This is difficult, on account of the future hasn’t happened yet, and there’s things you’ll not take in account and things that will go wrong.  Sure.  But you’re plenty smart enough to keep a step or two ahead of destructive change.  Most of us are.

Most industries/institutions/polities won’t get this.  You must try to save what you can from the wreckage, but be aware, too, that we’re about to go upside down.

Be ready for it.  Be prepared.  Don’t lose your way.  We’re going to need all the people who can think through this, plus some, to avoid a blood letting that will make the French Revolution or the American Civil war look like tea with the parish ladies.

Keep your head, keep your sanity.  Be not afraid.

Post VERY late today

But mostly written and, I think, interesting.

Sorry, was finishing page proofs for Baen because I was late and then typesetter was late (due to flu in both cases) and thing needs to go to print.

And now I must run to an unavoidable appointment, and even I can’t type half a blog post in five minutes.

I will be back.

Almost done with antibiotic for secondary infection following the flu, and it DID work, but oh, heck, that thing about severe headaches being a side effect is absolutely true. I’ve been having the kind of blinding headache that makes you long for a good trepanning.  So, be patient with me when I’m a little slower than normal.

UPDATE: Yah, no.  That took longer than I expected.  Post tomorrow.

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli and an Itsy Bitsy Promo Post by Freerange Oyster With Bonus Horrendous Self Promo by Sarah

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it!  For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is:

Itsy Bitsy Promo Post by Freerange Oyster

Elise Hyatt (one of Sarah A. Hoyt’s pen names.)

Dipped, Stripped and Dead

Daring Finds Book 1

When she was six, Dyce Dare wanted to be a ballerina, but she couldn’t stop tripping over her own feet. Then she wanted to be a lion tamer, but Fluffy, the cat, would not obey her. Which is why at the age of twenty nine she’s dumpster diving, kind of. She’s looking for furniture to keep her refinishing business going, because she would someday like to feed herself and her young son something better than pancakes.

Unfortunately, as has come to be her expectation, things go disastrously wrong. She finds a half melted corpse in a dumpster. This will force her to do what she never wanted to do: solve a crime.

Dorothy Grant

Scaling The Rim

When Annika Danilova arrived at the edge of the colony’s crater to install a weather station, she knew the mission had been sabotaged from the start. The powers that be sent the wrong people, underequipped, and antagonized their supporting sometimes-allies. The mission was already slated for unmarked graves and an excuse for war…

But they hadn’t counted on Annika allying with the support staff, or the sheer determination of their leader, Captain Restin, to accomplish the mission. Together, they will overcome killing weather above and traitors within to fight for the control of the planet itself!

Bernadette Durbin


When Lydia flees an attempt on her life, her only thought is to get to her brother in the far-off capital. Rebellion in the land forces her to disguise herself, and when she is hired on as minstrel to the new king, William, she has to learn all she can, and quickly, so that she can unravel the treachery at the heart of the failed rebellion before her identity is revealed. Much to her amazement, along the way she becomes advisor to the king… and his friend, should she learn to accept it.

Bonus Horrendous Self Promo by Sarah

To date this is the best book I’ve written.

Darkship Revenge E-arc.


Myth Matched – A Blast from the past post from December 2015

Myth Matched – A Blast from the past post from December 2015

Every culture has myths. For instance, I grew up in a culture where I knew (not thought, mind you, knew) that if you took more than one aspirin at once, you’d die.

Proven?  You don’t need proven.  Everyone knew this.  Why would you test something that could kill you?

So my first week in the states, when I told my host mother I had a headache and she said “just take a couple of aspirin” I thought she was trying to kill me.  She had to show me the instructions on the bottle.

This trivial incident was my first exposure to the idea that “what everybody knows” can be wrong.

Progressive culture in the US, having been the dominant culture in media/entertainment and the news for the last 100 years at least (not the dominant culture in the country, necessarily, but the dominant culture in the classes that controlled these intellectual products and which were consolidated/made uniform by the “mass” aspects of communication since at least the end of the nineteenth century) has lacked challenges to its internal myths, which means it ended up with as many unfounded “everybody knows” as a small village in Portugal where aspirin was still a miracle drug and a little scary.

I normally don’t pay attention to what Bernie Sanders says, and pay Hillary only the attention necessary to roll my eyes at the things that come flying out of her mouth.  (Like, for instance, that Republicans don’t know that terrorists use guns to kill people.  Oh, lady, we know, that’s why we want guns of our own to defend ourselves, because the terrorists, you know, aren’t likely to obey gun regulations.)

But yesterday Mike Rowe went after Bernie Sanders.

At first I just read it wishing that popcorn didn’t have so many carbs.  Then I went back and read the tweet that inspired Mike’s take down. Here it is in its full glory:

“At the end of the day, providing a path to go to college is a helluva lot cheaper than putting people on a path to jail.”

Mike got seriously upset — as he should — at the notion that not going to college is the same as being condemned to becoming a criminal, and he went after it, as well as after the fact that absent a few professions (and the only reason my kids are in college is because they’re aiming for two of those professions) college really doesn’t help.  (Make an informal count in your head.  How many of your friends with degrees work at anything even vaguely related to their degree?  And don’t tell me “but they learned to learn” because this is another thing altogether and you might have confused cause and effect.)

But there’s more than that in that tweet, there are at least three warring myths, all of them so central to what liberalism once was that the current progressives aren’t even aware most of them have been disproven by the real world tm.  These are things “everyone knows” and why would you question something everyone knows?

The thing is outside their world, where no one gives a good goddamn about their myths, these things are disproven, and most people only don’t realize it because of the entertainment news industrial complex repeating them so often and acting like they’re proven.

The first and most basic myth, and one of which, once upon a time, I was an ardent proponent, is that education is transformative.  This goes along with the myth that man is infinitely perfectible.

The liberal project — back when liberal meant classical liberal — as undertaken by our ancestors, hinged on the idea that education would transform everyone into individual thinkers and philosophers like themselves.  It would make them more moral too and improve them to be onto like angels.

They had a point of sorts, in their time.  Most of the people who weren’t learning weren’t learning because they were underfed, too busy making a living, sick with a million little illnesses that made them not function well intellectually.

I saw this in action in the village, which is why I was an ardent believer in this myth.  Giving people education truly uplifts them if the people giving the education also provide a meal and clothes.

The thing is, it’s one of those things that has huge gains up front.  “Teach everyone to read” makes a huge difference.  And yes, can make for a more moral society, if the education has a moral component.  This is important as “education” is not a neutral value.  It can be adaptive or maladaptive to reality.

However just about every country in the world that isn’t in dire crisis or doesn’t belong to a religion that forbids secular education has free education — yes, even where I came from, though often the kids were taken out of fourth grade to work in factories.  This was strictly speaking illegal, but you could always find a doctor to sign a paper saying your kid was educable mentally retarded and couldn’t learn any more “abstract stuff” but could learn to be a factory worker) — at least through 9th grade and often through 12th.

I’ll pause here to point out that when I was little, someone with a 9th grade education was accorded the respect here given to people with Masters Degrees now.  They were learned and performed work of the mind, and didn’t dirty their hands.  This I’d guess is true for most of history.  The level of a 9th degree education allows you enough to explore and learn just about everything that doesn’t require hands on training or specialized tutoring only administrated by professionals.  (I’ll not specify which trades because it varies per learner.  I can’t learn languages outside a classroom, at least a virtual one.  I also have trouble with art by myself.  I’d guess there’s the same problem with most things requiring labs to learn.)

So, are people made more moral?  Snort giggle.  Hardly.  The causes for this are complex and a lot of it has to do with how wealthy our society is.  Wealthy people have always had more time to get funny on morality.  Other parts include a morally neutral or worse education (when the purpose of education is to deconstruct the culture that made more people wealthy and healthy than any other culture in history, while praising cultures that mutilate women, kill gays and enslave children, it is worse.)

Are people individual little philosopher kings, for all these years of education thrown at them?

I read something in a book I can no longer remember the title of, when I was researching Shakespeare.  The number of people who are fluent enough readers to read for pleasure in our day is the same as in Shakespeare’s day.  When they didn’t have free education, much less 12 years of it.

The idea that if you gave everyone enough food and time and free schooling they’d all become erudite and thinkers can be disproved by a stroll through your local Welfare hub.  Go on, I dare you, go down and start a little discussion on Kantian philosophy.

But it’s an idea that remains a myth on the left which has lost all other classical liberal ideals (like, you know, individual freedom) but holds fast onto this idea that education will somehow make a progressive out of everyone.  (Patently ridiculous as they’ve been indoctrinating several generations now, and it still won’t take the way they want.  That cold slap of reality counteracts it.  Which is why they advocate more cowbell.)

The other myth in that statement — and the only way to make sense out of that linkage between education and prison — is actually several linked myths:

1- that people turn to crime when they’re poor  (an insult to every poor but honest person ever.)

2- that without a college education you’ll be poor (Mike Rowe ably disposed of this one in the linked article.)

3- that if the government won’t pay for something it’s unobtainable because there is no private charity and also people can’t lift themselves up by their bootstraps.

All of these are nonsense.  Sometimes I think people like Bernie Sanders watch Les Miserables (a piece of propaganda even when it was written) and say “it’s true, it’s all true” and then see the world through that lens ever since.

Being poor doesn’t lead to crime.  Wealthy people can and do commit crimes, not all of them white collar (in one of the stunning contradictions that would make their heads explode if they paused and thought about it, progressives also assume that all rich people are criminals, since economics is a fixed pie (giggle-snort) and to have more you have taken “more than your fair share.)

Lack of a college education doesn’t make you poor.  I’ve yet to meet a poor, competent plumber. And I sometimes regret I didn’t learn more carpentry from grandad, instead of going to college.  We knew someone who built cabinets by grandad’s method (think all manual tools) in reproduction of colonial furniture.  One of those cabinets which he could build in 3 months, sold for what my husband was making at the time, as a computer programmer. I’m fairly sure anyone who knows one of those trades really well is raking it in.  We’ve become a nation of do-it-yourselvers not because we enjoy it, or want to save money but because finding a competent tradesmen takes longer than just doing the best you can.  (Been there, done that, have spackle on my t-shirt.)

People have managed to be educated beyond their relatives and parents without any government intervention (in fact until government stuck its nose and quotas in, there were a lot of merit scholarships.  My husband did his college with them and a part-time job.)

Once you realize those myths ARE myths, Bernie’s prescription to end crime makes about as much sense as saying something like “Hit yourselves on the head with rubber mallets, increase the production of wheat.”

In fact, someone came trolling a share of this post trying desperately to keep the two things linked by yelling that it was a shame we spent more on jails than education.

Again, with the what?  Nothing our government does makes much sense, but this makes as much sense as “Abolish the helium reserve. Subsidize canneries.”

What we’ve found since the classical liberal times when we thought education would uplift everyone is that education and proper nutrition and proper civic instruction does uplift some people.  Yeah, there are a percentage of people out there who could/would do much better with a little help.  I don’t know about you, but I make it a point, on my own, to identify such people and such situations and intervene and help when I can.

But you can lead a student to school; you can imprison him/her in it for 8 hours a day for 12 years: what you can’t do is make them learn.

The same person who was whining about that horrible discrepancy between jail spending and education spending said that you know, most criminals stop learning in grade school.  I think he meant they dropped out.  This is probably true, although I’d bet the reverse, that if you dropped out of grade school you’re likely to be a criminal isn’t true.  It’s also insulting to claim so.  For this he advised more cowbell… er I mean more free education.

The sad fact is that we’ve continuously not only dumbed down education, but tried to make it “fun” (listen, if you’re learning a language, there’s no way to make it fun.  To be fluent, you need to start by memorizing vocabulary and studying grammatical structures.  Neither of those is fun.  Useful. Needed.  Not fun.) to the point that a High School diploma means nothing, which is why the new push to put everyone to college, as if more of the same will fix the problems.

There are people who don’t learn because they have no interest in learning.  Some of them might be very good at things — engines. Carpentry — that would baffle phds who are not put together that way.  There are people who don’t learn because our educational system, barring active teaching at home after class, is put together NOT to teach but to keep the masses from rebelling in their pseudo-scholastic prisons.

Lack of book learning doesn’t make anyone a criminal.  It doesn’t make them poor either.  I think my dad’s dad had a third grade (might be fourth) education.  Like younger son when he was younger, he had problems with verbal expression, and issues writing a legible hand.  In those days this meant “stupid” or at least book stupid, so his caring parents apprenticed him as a carpenter.  He supported his family in (for the village — grin) a more than middle class lifestyle, never that I know so much as stole a stamp, and raised sons and daughter who did better than him, and grandchildren who — weirdly — all have college educations, almost all of them (except me) in useful fields that actually make things or cure people.

The left is so wrapped up in their myths that they don’t understand “subsidize more education.  You’ll need fewer prisons” makes about as much sense as “eat more fiber. Control garden pests.” Worse, they legislate based on these myths, without the slightest qualm.  And then are shocked and posit bizarre theories (the GOP is holding back solar energy! The oil lobby! Eleventy!) for why it didn’t work.

And this is why our monoculture of progressivism hurts every field in which it is in fact a monoculture: education, the arts, entertainment, politics.

This is why diversity of thought is important. And why the progressives’ crazy attempts to shut down opinions they don’t agree with are … well… crazy.

In the safe space everyone believes as you do.  And that’s the problem.  Human beings aren’t built to be safe.

It is in the rubbing of thought against thought, in the contest of vision against vision that the truly ludicrous is eliminated and that, at least, we avoid the worst errors.

It is in not being locked up in a tiny intellectual village that real progress is made.  Not the “progressive” of progressives, which fills mass graves with those humans who weren’t infinitely perfectible, but the progress that fills bellies, raises humans above poverty and makes it possible to aspire to the stars.

Real progress comes from strife and work.

Which is why they’re acting more and more like isolated, illiterate villagers in a land where myth is more important than evidence.

And why in the end we win, they lose.

Je Suis Milo, Yanno? by Kate Paulk

*No, this is not going to become all Milo, all the time.  In fact this is probably the last post DIRECTLY about it unless something more happens.  It’s just that the owner of this blog and some of her friends have also been victims of “high tech lynching.”  We know the signs and we say: the character destroyers won’t claim another victim without our fighting against them.  Because we know the marks of this game and where it ends – SAH.*

Je Suis Milo, Yanno? by Kate Paulk

The last few days have seen the unedifying spectacle of holier than thou conservative types gleefully joining in the “break Milo” gang-bang, presumably in the belief that because his lifestyle is immoral anything bad that happens to him is something he deserved in some way. I hope for their sake that they fail.

Because people like them doing everything from looking the other way from the thick smoke rising from crematoriums near the “work camps” with the skeletal workers to joining in the “kick ‘em in the goolies while they’re down” party are the people evil regimes like the Nazis and the Communists need to stay in power. As long as the self-styled good people will look the other way when the fuckers target someone, they can consolidate their hold until they’ve got control of all the levers of power – the media, education, bureaucracy, government…

Let me be absolutely clear here. The stickybeaked moralists who are claiming that Milo Yiannopoulos somehow brought this shitstorm on himself because his lifestyle squicks them are endorsing lying to eliminate a person. They are endorsing show trials and guilt by association and all the evils of every fucking Communist regime ever. They are endorsing the tactics both the Soviets and the Nazis used to crush dissenting voices and enemies of the regime. In short, they are the Good Jews who kept quiet in the hope they would not be sent to the camps and wound up in Hell anyway. The Good Germans who never saw a thing. The Good Russians who knew nothing about the Gulag, Citizen, nothing at all.

When – as will happen if those of us who refuse to be intimidated fall – they face the firing squads or the Gulags or the death camps or the Holodomor, they will wonder why. Briefly. Then they will face the unenviable truth when they are asked, “Did you fight this evil?”

Because the answer to that question is that they did not fight. They helped. By refusing to tarnish their halo even a little, they opened the gates of Hell and welcomed Satan inside. They are the priest who passes the injured traveler for fear of becoming unclean, not the Samaritan who ignores the dislike, even hatred between his people and the traveler and helps the injured man. As such, they are the good intentions on the path to Hell.

And they disgust me. The air of sanctimonious righteousness, the condemnation of someone who doesn’t act quite the way they do, the fucking prissy wowsers who can’t stand that someone they disapprove of is being heard, is winning respect, and is doing a better job of fighting evil than they are…

The diseased flaccid dicks who created this piece of rancid shit to smear the man are at least openly evil. The tight-assed moralists standing back-to-back with the people who should be their worst enemy are just as eager to control everyone else as the openly statist fuckwit throwing metaphorical (and sometimes literal) turd grenades. They think because they call themselves “conservative” it makes them good and righteous and proper, and all the while they’re arm in arm with Satan – who is happier than a pig in mud.

If you are not condemning the use of lies and rumor to destroy someone – or even attempt to destroy someone – you are the Enemy of civilization. You are the orcs. The demons. The useful idiots.

I don’t care whether the target is a nice person or not. I don’t care if the target is the fucking Grand Poo-Bah of the KKK, the Big Wahoonie of the Black Panthers, or the fucking Biggest Bag of the Daeshbags. If you lie to destroy him, you are worse than he is. If you accept those lies, knowing that they are lies, because you disapprove of him, you are worse than he is.

The Soviet Union’s multi-generational plan to destroy the USA was to tear us apart from within by exploiting our differences and turning them into battle lines. If you are truly conservative and you care at all about Western civilization, the United States, or even looking at your festering vile mug in the mirror every morning, why in the fuck are you helping to destroy what you care about? Are you that much of a useless drongo?

Or are you just so sure you’re right that you think your shit is pure gold?

It’s not. It stinks. And so, oh righteous conservative, do you.

Of Ancient Plate Tectonics and Unknown Carbon Reservoirs By Stephanie Osborn

Of Ancient Plate Tectonics and Unknown Carbon Reservoirs

By Stephanie Osborn


A couple of articles were recently brought to my attention by my particle physicist friend. One of them is a patently alarmist article in a UK newspaper. ( The other is the scientific article it purports to reference. ( [NOTE: this one is behind a purchase wall, but the abstract is available to read.] I won’t go into the whole contents of the articles; you can read those for yourself, or at least the abstract of one. The gist of it is, the UK newspaper is claiming that a recently-discovered deep-Earth structure and a possible ‘volatiles’ reservoir associated with it could create a catastrophically huge release of CO2 into the atmosphere.

This brought on some brief email discussion, as not everyone has a strong background in some of these sciences, and I thought it might be good to explain some of the things being discussed in the articles.

Now, I don’t know how much the average person knows about seismology, but it’s one of the reasons I picked up an undergrad minor in geology and did some graduate subspecialty work in geology, as well. I grew up in an area of the country that regularly felt quakes from the New Madrid Fault Zone, which is a whole ‘nother article in itself — several, actually. I can do those at some point, if there is enough interest. Anyway.

Seismology is really a form of optics; the very same rules apply, since you are looking at wave propagation, reflection, and refraction. (Having just finished the Optics sequence in the Physics dept., when I got to seismology in my Geology studies, I was better and faster than the Geology majors, because the concepts were already very familiar to me. For that matter, I made use of the concepts in my racquetball course, too, and the coach couldn’t believe I’d never played the sport before. Hee!)

So there are various ‘types’ of seismic waves, which is really just another way of saying they are polarized differently. (The only kind of wave that seismology has that optics doesn’t is the longitudinally-polarized wave — aka the acoustic wave. And so if you’ve studied acoustics, you even already have THAT.) Now the interesting thing is that certain of these wave polarizations create differing effects on the ground surface, and the budding science of seismology therefore named them accordingly. (A ‘shear wave,’ which the article references, is a ‘transverse body wave’ — this means that the wave motion is perpendicular to the direction of motion, and it moves through the body of an object like the Earth via elasticity within the object. It was named ‘shear’ by geologists because it had a shearing effect upon structures when it arrived.)

However, just like in optics, when the medium changes, so does the refractive index. And just like in optics, the boundary between media creates a reflective surface, which in turn also generates additional polarized reflected waves. And this is what complicates the thing so much. But certain polarizations are easier to ‘read’ than others, and they can tell us a lot about the various strata, including what state of matter they are in — liquids tend not to transmit some of those waves at all because, once inside the melt, the waves usually experience total internal reflection, and thus you get a blank zone.

So we know when there is a blob of actual melt down there, because we get all reflections from it, and no refraction through it to speak of. If it’s partly molten, you can get some refraction, but it tends to generate ‘mushy’ surfaces, is maybe a way to put it.

Now, the Farallon Plate referenced by the articles is an ancient oceanic-floor tectonic plate under what has become the Pacific Ocean. There are a few remnants of it left that have not yet been subducted under the North and South American plates; they’re most notable in the Cascadia Subduction Zone, where there are some triangular bits, now known as the Juan de Fuca Plate, and the adjacent Gorda Plate. Another notable remnant is the tongue-shaped plate (Cocos Plate) that forms the west coast of Central America, and the better-known Nazca Plate just off the western South American coast. In all cases, the principal direction of motion takes them east and under the continental plates in intensive subduction zones. (It’s worth noting that these are serious quake zones, capable of generating monster quakes and tsunamis, in some cases equivalent to the Boxing Day quake/tsunami combo in 2004.) You can find out more about it by plugging in ‘Farallon Plate’ to Wikipedia.

Now, it is also worth noting that there are volcanic and regular mountain ranges that run parallel to, and just inland of, the west coast from Alaska/Canada all the way down to the tip of South America, and it is this subduction of the Farallon Plate that is responsible for both types of ranges. Obviously the whole ‘big crunch’ thing is responsible for the standard mountain ranges, in various forms — when two plates slam together, buckling occurs, and mountains result. But what about the volcanic chains, such as the heavily volcanic Cascade Range?

Well, since most crustal plates are a mixture of mineral types, and various families of minerals melt at different temperatures, as the plate is subducted, low-melting-point minerals melt out of the solid plate. Being liquid, they’re more buoyant and rise upward through whatever cracks and crevices and imperfections they can find in the overlying plate, or force such cracks and crevices to open by dint of increasing pressure (which, I might note, tends to form magma chambers, either way). When they reach the surface, blooie, volcano.

Note also that the type of volcano tends to change as you move from the coast inland; this is because, as you go farther inland, the plate being subducted is being shoved deeper and deeper into the mantle, encountering hotter and hotter temperatures, and thus melting out minerals with increasingly higher melting points. This results in a separation of the minerals, and a corresponding chemical difference in the melts, in a smooth transition moving from coastal volcanoes and progressing inland. It’s been theorized that this is the reason why certain areas have more explosive volcanoes — the chemistry resulting from the melt leads to a more viscous lava, trapping the dissolved gases inside and allowing for pressure buildup.

There is also increasing evidence that the heat resulting from subduction was insufficient to fully melt the Farallon Plate, and the continental plates overrode the Farallon, which may have fragmented/faulted and ‘stacked up’ in slabs under the continents. According to a NASA research group, a significant portion of the Farallon sank to the bottom of the mantle, and is much farther east, most likely under the eastern USA. ( The footprint area is quite considerable. And no, it wasn’t that the Farallon drove so far eastward, as much as it was that the North American Plate just moved over it. Still and all, dang big plate, when you think about it.

That said, it strikes me that the Daily Mail has once again gotten its science mixed up. (Yes, I’ve dealt with anxieties produced by articles from this and other similar UK newspapers several times.) It references the same area that the Science Direct article does. And it does link to the Science Direct article. But that doesn’t mean they interpreted it correctly.

They, of course, immediately focus on the fact that the Yellowstone supercaldera is supposedly in the middle of it. I say ‘supposedly’ because the NASA research plainly indicates the Farallon Plate remants in a VERY different location from that depicted in the Daily Mail article. I’d really love to know where they got their graphic, and how accurate it really is, relative to what they think they’re talking about.

HOWEVER, all that said:

1) The Daily Mail article immediately assumes that virtually the entire volume of ‘volatiles’ referenced by the scientific paper is carbon, when the first volatile mentioned by the science paper is hydrogen. And even that is speculative, as denoted by the phrase, ‘such as.’

1a) Typically the constituents of volcanic gases are: water vapor, carbon dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen, methane, carbon monoxide, hydrogen, and several of the noble gases such as neon, helium, and argon. (Other gases may be found in trace quantities as well.) According to Wikipedia (and this matches my training), “The abundance of gases varies considerably from volcano to volcano. Water vapor is consistently the most common volcanic gas, normally comprising more than 60% of total emissions. Carbon dioxide typically accounts for 10 to 40% of emissions.”

2) The Yellowstone hotspot is separate from the Farallon Plate structures, and goes far down, into the mantle. Its upper regions have been 3-D mapped, and are not a part of the Farallon structures. More, it has a tracked geologic history of eruptions, with fossil calderas that can be traced back from its current location, regressing southwest almost all the way to the northeast corner of California. There is no indication of catastrophic gaseous emissions of which I am aware; the volume of ejecta ultimately came from much deeper. The danger from a Yellowstone eruption is in the massive blast which would devastate the area for at least 1-2 hundred miles in every direction, followed by the truly titanic volume of ash which would be pumped high into the atmosphere. There have been discoveries of fossilized, fully-articulated herd animals in mass deaths from acute silicosis as far east as, if memory serves, at least the vicinity of the Mississippi River. (I distinctly recall reading this, but cannot now find the article online. However, not so very far away, near the Missouri River somewhat westward of my recollection, is also found the Ashfall Fossil Beds State Historical Park in NE Nebraska. A huge die-off of animals, from turtles all the way up to herds of horses, camels, and rhinos, are found intact, embedded in what is evidently the Mesa Falls Tuff — tuff being a type of loose, porous rock composed of ‘welded’ ash. The Mesa Falls Tuff was the ash layer deposited by a Yellowstone eruption some 1.3 million years ago. Evidence indicates they died of acute silicosis and were then entombed in the very ash that caused their deaths. You can find lots of information here and here )

Is it possible for some of these volatile gases to ‘leak’ into the Yellowstone magma chamber? Sure it is. That’s how natural gas and petroleum get around, after all, not to mention groundwater. But there are limits; impermeable strata effectively block such migrations (which is how artesian wells occur).

And frankly, if we have a Yellowstone eruption, we got way bigger, and much more immediate, problems than trying to figure out how much carbon dioxide the thing is belching.

If They Take Milo Down, You’re Next

*I’ve spent the last day and a half in dread, looking at the coordinated attack on Milo, and the debacle on the right.  As someone who was never-Trump before it was cool, and who only capitulated because she was never-Hillary more, and an anti-communist from the time she could understand the word, I felt divided when people piled on on never-trumpers.  But this is ridiculous and has passed all bounds of civilized behavior.

The charges against Milo are contrived from a) video editing and b) rumor and innuendo and c) pretending no one ever used the word “boy” to mean man, thereby meaning playboy is for 10 year olds and “playing with the big boys” means middle schoolers.
IF the attack on Milo were about, say how outrageous he got before the election (he’s been walking it back since.  I suspect he gets a little battle mad as I tend to.) I’d shrug and say “whatever”.  However this is a contrived and false attack and one that apparently came from the right but is teaching the left the way to take every one of us down.  You might not like Milo or his lifestyle, but you should not under any circumstances, applaud this means of taking him down.  And if you do, I hope you experience likewise and get to experience what you like so much.  There is a good chance you will.  They’ve tasted blood with Milo.  We’re next.
Links: the full unedited thing
The other full unedited thing
Milo’s press conference.
Possible McMullin involvement
Milo fighting pedophiles: here, here and here.  And now, what I have to say.*

If You Let Them “Get” Milo, You’re Next


Look guys, this is where Sarah takes her gloves off, turns the picture of Heinlein to the wall to spare him the worst of the rant, puts her hands on her hips and gives you the blunt and painful truth.  I swear you’re not going to like it and I swear to you that you need to hear it.

So, this kerfuffle with Milo Yannopolis, let’s be frank: have you seen the non-edited videos?  Have you been to his page?  No?  Then shut up.

He might have used infelicitous terms, but not all that infelicitous.  He might have got caught in explaining too far – as someone who used to write for Classical Values, the blog devoted to overthinking it, I can’t complain –  but he’s always been a bit more intellectual than the rest of the right and VERY intellectual for a shock-Jockey.  But that is it.

Yes, he used “boys” when he meant men.  So do you, every fricking day.  No?  Then what’s with Playboy, “one of the boys”, “playing with the big boys.”  Unless you mean kids under the age of 12, you too used boys to mean men.

Second he talked about relationships between younger men and older men as nurturing, comfortable.  Yeah, and?  He also said that he thinks the age of consent is about where it should be.  And for the US he is right.

The US, you say?  What does that have to do with it?

Well, dear heart, if you think that the age of consent being 18 (it’s actually 16 in most states, but never mind) is a law of nature, you should perhaps meditate on George Bernard Shaw’s dictum: Pardon him, Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature.

This is where Milo got into overthinking, when he started discussing how strictly speaking pedophiles are attracted to those people who haven’t undergone puberty (or are undergoing puberty.)  He’s absolutely right, but he was perhaps over-intellectualizing.  The truth is that laws of consent usually slice the do no harm/prevent harm very finely indeed, and are set when most of the population of the country can be assumed to have passed through and undergone puberty.

For instance the age of consent in Portugal is 14.  By 11 I had undergone menarche.  My best friend, OTOH, didn’t go through it till 16.  However hers was very late, and doctors were involved.  Most people got it at 12. So 14 seems like a fairly safe age of consent.

You’re not going to prevent people who go through it earlier from having sex (OTOH I found an interest in physics and electronics prevented me pretty effectively till much, much older.)  But you want to discourage outright predators.  So 14 is about right for Portugal.

Do I mean girls of 14 (or boys for that matter) know what they’re doing?  No.  But I also don’t think they know what they’re doing at 18.  Left to me, I’d set the age of consent at thirty, and human population would plummet.

You can have an unequal relationship at any age, one that scars you and breaks you for life.  You can’t really legislate those.  The best you can do is stand by to pick people up when they fall.  And the best you can do as a parent is make sure your kids know how complicated a decision it is, and how many ramifications sex can have that they don’t understand.  (I keep telling my kids “Wait till 45!”  I don’t think they’re listening.)

The best you can do as a legislator is keep people from making decisions when their bodies are still not working right and they know nothing of life.

No Milo was about right and the law of consent in the US of about 16 in most states and 18 in some is about right.  It’s just about protecting kids who are still not physically adult.  It’s all the law can do. the rest falls to parents.

Now leaving that aside, and returning to this.  Milo has busted three pedophiles.  He is vocal in saying that pedophilia can’t be condoned.  BUT an unholy alliance of left and right  edited a video of him talking and did away with his book deal and removed him from Breitbart.

And idiotic socons are piling on, telling us that “Milo doesn’t belong on the right” and that his (rather effective, frankly) talks about his private life are “disgusting.”

Maybe they are, but if you’re going to kick out everyone who isn’t middle class US, blond, Southern Baptist, you’re never again going to hold power in this country.  Which is exactly what the left wants, and what you’re preparing.

Because NONE of you are clean.  It is possible to demonize all of us, with ridiculous things NO ONE should believe.  I’m sure somewhere or other (often) I made a joke about “Mediterraenan people uber alas” usually when people accuse me of being racist or white supremacist.  It wouldn’t take much to plaster those everywhere and have some idiots say I don’t belong on the right, either.  The fact that I’ve been accused of being a White Supremacist is proof to you that the left SMEARS.  It’s what they do.

For years, in publishing and in the arts, if you weren’t a hundred percent behind them, the whisper campaign started: “She’s white supremacist.” “She’s racist.” “She’s an homophobe.” (Yes, I have been accused of that.  By the left AND the right.)

And if the right buys into this, denounces and piles on, it just gives power to the left.  Do you see them distancing themselves from irresponsible, economically corrupt Hillary? No.  But you self-righteous little goody two shoes can’t wait to distance yourselves from Milo.

And his is how you give the left the rope to hang you with.

Milo is taking fire, because he can communicate with college students; because he’s getting a following; because his VERY EXISTENCE denies the stereotype that the right is racist/sexist/homophobic.  The left HAS to destroy Milo.

And if you cooperate in his destruction, you are next.

You can tell them “you took that out of context, and you should be ashamed of yourself for rushing to judgement.”  You can mock them with the Shaw quote.  You can call them the judgmental prudes they are.

Or you can let Milo be taken down and cower in the dark, waiting for the knock on your door.  It WILL come.




The Collective Journey, or The Hero’s Journey? by William Lehman

*I’m working on a book that drops dead tomorrow, but now William has made me aware of this insanity, I’ll have to write my own post about it, probably tomorrow.  Part of it being Mr. Gomez (I liked his relative, Wednesday’s father better) doesn’t get the Hero’s journey.  And isn’t that bog standard?  Another fricking collectivist trying to replace what he doesn’t understand?- SAH*

The Collective Journey, or The Hero’s Journey?  by William Lehman

A friend of mine called my attention to a series of essays about a concept the author (Jeff Gomez) calls “The Collective Journey”. Mr. Gomez is the “CEO Starlight Runner. Brand and cause-related consultant, producer of franchise storyworlds and transmedia entertainment properties.” Says so right there in his autobiography. He’s also worked as an editor (Palladium books) a producer of comic books, etc.

In this concept and series of essays, he proposes that the “hero’s journey” is out moded, and should be scrapped.  He then goes on to suggest that the narrative we should be telling, and writing as story, proposing at all turns is this “collective journey” where winner and looser are no longer part of the real world, and we must learn to cooperate with everyone and find common ground with all people…  In many ways, he’s right (in how he describes the concept, and that it works well for selling the “we’re all in it together”, for example) But I have real issues with his lauding and supporting of moral relativism as right, and good. This is the mindset that has brought about most of the story lines in modern comics that do things like make Captain America an agent of Hydra.  It also brought about the sorts of novels that created sad and rabid puppies as a backlash.
He holds forth shows like Game of Thrones, Orange is the New Black, and Walking Dead, as ideal storytelling, with the message that “no one is going to come to save us, we must gather together and save each other:“These stories are not about the glorious eternal return of heroes. They are about communities struggling to achieve efficacy through the power of their own diversity.”

“Hero’s Journey stories are about how the individual actualizes by achieving personal change, but Collective Journey stories are about how communities actualize in their attempt to achieve systemic change.

“These stories tell us that if we are awaiting a savior, we are consigning ourselves to doom, and to erect one in his place can be just as bad. We, collectively, must become our own salvation.”

Horse shit.

I prefer stories in which it’s pointed out that “yes there are dragons, but you can fight them, and they can be beat.”  The “hero’s journey” that Mr. Gomez feels is oh so last century, is not about awaiting a savior, or erecting one, nor is it about “actualizing, by achieving personal change”. (my dictionary tells me that “actualizing” means: making real, so please explain how one “makes real, by achieving personal change”) Actualizing has become one of those “buzz words” like “paradigm” that has become a shibboleth. “Oh look, I use this word, I’m one of the intelligentsia, you must believe me.”

No Mr. Gomez, the hero’s journey is about a common man, not a perfumed prince, or a chosen one, seeing wrong, and making it right.  It’s about recognizing that, in the words of John Wayne’s character from a movie a long time ago, “There’s right and there’s wrong. Y’gotta do one or the other. Do the other and you may be walking around, but you’re dead as a beaver hat.”

Mr. Gomez goes on to tell us that “Conflict is violence” and “We’ve become wired to hunger for violence” that “conflict is masculine”, that in the hero’s journey it’s all about killing a single villain, not achieving systemic change, that “good versus evil is binary”, that the female is either a temptress, innocent, a goddess, or a stand in male, and that the hero’s journey is “Not conducive to communications technology.” It’s “Narrative built on knowledge scarcity.” Mentors are rarefied elders.” It’s a “Celebration of heroic power and glory.” “The hero loses.” and “The community loses.”  Oh, my aching back.  Where do I begin?
Well yes, conflict is violence.  News flash ace, everything is violence when you break it down that way, including harvesting wheat. (the classic song “John Barleycorn” ring any bells folks?).  We’ve not “become wired” to hunger for violence, at the level that you identify violence (IE: “either real or implied”) we have always been all about violence, and short of some miraculous change in the human condition, we always will be.  No, conflict is not masculine, conflict is inherent.  Be it conflict against other people, nature, or our own baser instincts, conflict is the fucking world.  Yes, the hero’s journey is often about killing or vanquishing a single villain, but there’s always another one waiting in the wings.  That’s life.

Systemic change can happen in the hero’s journey, the classic that jumps to mind is “Mister Smith goes to Washington”. But the sort of change you propose in your essays doesn’t lead there.  It leads to the sort of “community good at the cost of individuality” that has been tried so often.  That’s 18th century thinking sir. The classic pamphlet on it was written in 1848.  Dude named Karl Marx.  The most recent example of how it ends up is Venezuela. If it’s all the same to you, I’ll pass.  (in fact, whether it’s all the same to you, or not.)

This bit about “not conductive to communications technology” seems to be because in several films the hero gets frustrated and throws his phone… Really? Moving on… The “narrative built on knowledge scarcity” bit seems to be about the hero not reaching out and using his networks to get the answers.  Again, we’re on the whole “you must go to the community” thing.  Sometimes yes, we should.  Sometimes that’s not a viable option, for whatever reason.    That’s storytelling.  It’s not a reason to go communist.

“Mentors are rarefied elders”.  Gomez would have you believe that all hero’s journey type stories require a wise man or woman to give the hero his clue, without whom the hero would be lost.  Again, Horse Shit.  “Celebration of power and glory” … Yeah, whatever.

“The Hero loses” and “The community loses” the first is based on the complaint that in Hero stories the hero is changed, and can no longer be what or who he was.  Well sir, maybe you have never done anything since school that is outside an office, and the very strange world that is the entertainment industry, but let me explain to you that in point of fact YES the sort of shit that makes a story something more than “he went to work, he made cartoons, he argued with the boss over the story line, he went home”, in short something that makes the story worth reading, does change a man (or a woman).  Ask anyone who has been in a life or death situation, be it combat, or man v nature, or any other formative experience. (hint, the operative word is FORMATIVE, meaning it changes you).  The second part of this bit proposes that the community is reliant on this mythic hero, and without him we all are lost…  One last time, I say: “Horse shit”.  The whole thing of the hero’s journey is usually about some guy having to step up and be the hero, because stuff needs done.  The point of it, which you somehow seem to have missed in your communistic indoctrination, is that ANY man can step up and be that hero.  That it may suck, the road may be hard, and you may even die, (not all hero’s journeys end with the first hero living through it) but it’s better to stand forth and TRY.

In the end, all of his screed boils down to Moral Relativism, and Communism. Communism is a dead and failed philosophy, a model so bad, that the only way to get people to stay in it, is by bruit force.

Moral relativism is maybe the biggest lie of our time. The collective idea that “there is no “good” and no “bad”, just what you have to do.” Now that’s not to say that some bad choices must be made, when your choice is between bad, and “oh FUCK no”, you will end up choosing bad. BUT if you don’t do it KNOWING it’s bad, even though the alternative is worse, you wind up down that slippery slope that so many civilizations slid, and are sliding. The slope where “what I want, and what I need, is worth doing anything I want to do, because after all, what is “bad” but an arbitrary decision?” That way leads to things like “work makes free”, and gulags. Or in personal life, that way leads to things like the Mafia, which started out as a community protection group, when the government was too corrupt (NYC) or just nonexistent (Italy) to protect the people. Where it wound up, was a result of that same sort of moral relativism.
Yes there are shades of grey. LOTS of them. (don’t know if there’s 50, but…) Still, you must choose, and, in the end, if you decide that it doesn’t matter, because everything is grey, you are an animal, and I stand against you.

Balancing the Scales

Equality is a wonderful thing.  Everyone agrees.  Every little kid born in the US should be able to aspire to becoming president or the head of a company.  Every little kid born in Europe should be able to aspire to becoming a head of its country in the US.

I think this ties in with the monkey brain (but not, mind you, the Monkey brain.  I make no representations about the functioning of Dr. Monkey’s brains, which apparently involves sharks and gratuitous danger, sometimes underwater danger with sharks.) because when you had small bands of hominids or hominins or other things started with hom that were ancestral to us, equality was a good thing — at least once you got past the “big man/head of tribe.” — if Ogg was eating all the fat off the mammoth carcass, and leaving Mogg to chew the little bits of sinew off the bone, Mogg would either die or bean Ogg with a mammoth bone, thereby starting trouble in the band and weakening it.

Okay, that’ half-assed (more like quarter assed) speculation.  But the one thing that’s true is that there seems to be a category for “fair” in our brains.  Dr. Monkey who should know — because he’s a biologist and for the unitiated Dr. Monkey is my friend, Dave Freer — says that even chimps try to establish “fair.”

We all like to see fair play.  We all get incensed when the game is rigged in someone’s favor.  And Americans have a mile-wide love for the underdog.

But let’s talk sense, shall we?

Life isn’t fair.  I was going to say the only place life is fair is kindergarten, then I thought about kindergarten.  Yeah.  Try for instance, judging a dispute between a grubby, overlarge boy and a cute, perfectly coiffed and dressed little girl.  Who do you think the teacher will think was being the bully?

Right.  There ain’t no justice.  Pretty much never.

Take my kids: because Dan and I started off on our own, with minimal to no help from either family, and because both of us struck out into fields where we had no friends, no family, no acquaintances and frankly didn’t even know how the game was played (particularly in my case, since I changed countries, languages and cultures) our progress has been difficult and hand over hand, and sometimes by the edge of bleeding fingernails.

Our progress would have been infinitely faster, given the same ability and level of effort if Dan had taken good care to be born to a family with contacts in his field, or I’d had the good sense to be born to even a minor science fiction writer.  If I’d been born to Robert A. Heinlein, it would have been an instant move to the front of the class (or heck, even if the spheres had aligned and Robert and Ginny had decided they needed a Portuguese exchange student back in 80-81.)

So? Life isn’t fair.

But more importantly, it is impossible to make it so.

A lot of our government’s more insane interference into realms in which it frankly has no business is in the realm of trying to make things fair, trying to level the playing field, and in general blundering about like a bull in a China shop.

Right now you’re about to tell me that affirmative action has done a lot of good.  Has it?  Has it really?

Because from where I stand, what affirmative action has done is erase the idea of a meritocracy.  It has forced employers and universities to take an interest in things other than “can you do the job I want to hire you for, and can we come to a mutually agreeable agreement?”

Sure, you’ll tell me, but it was necessary to overcome institutional racism and–

And we should talk about what caused that institutional racism, which was a series of laws designed to keep the two races apart and the black race subordinate.  These didn’t arise spontaneously from the way people behaved, no.  It was laws created to make it happen.  There were people — black and white — who’d have acted quite differently, long before the civil rights struggle.  (Note to pussy-hatters, the civil rights struggle was about removing unjust laws, not about screaming you’re discriminated against because …cheese. Not about claiming a patriarchy where none exists.  Note to the clueless, for what a patriarchy really means, go study Saudi Arabia or Iran.  I know what your Marxist professor told you, but no, covering women in sofa slip covers is NOT a mark of respect, unless getting whipped by the morality police is also a mark of respect, and if you, unspanked child that you are, really need to be whipped, there are bespoke clubs, that don’t involve enslaving your whole country.  Get your head out of your rectal cavity and start thinking.)

Anyway, the government swung from one side to the other, and suddenly its purpose was to make the races (and sexes) equal. This is laudable, I suppose, at least by comparison to keeping 14% of the population subjugated.

Except that instituting — or even promoting — equality via the federal government is akin to performing brain surgery on the kitchen table with a wooden spoon.  The intent might be laudable, or even life-saving, but the patient is going to die.

The patient — our public life, our culture, our industry — is not dead — yet — but it’s limping badly.

This lurch for establishing equality by fiat, and from above, has created a culture that no longer believes in meritocracy.  You’re seeing the end result of it in science fiction “powers” being more interested in the color of the author’s skin and what’s between the author’s legs or where the author puts what’s between the author’s legs than in the written story.  Now imagine that where it’s more important, like… managing companies, and you’ll start seeing the shape of the problem.

A technical/scientific civilization cannot possibly survive on less than competent managers, no matter how tanned they are, or whether they’re female, or whether they like to sleep with octopi.

I’m not saying all of these are incompetent.  I’m saying we’re not picking them for competence.  We’re picking them for “interesting side characteristics” (which btw keep multiplying) which have nothing to do with competence.  Given equal competence between all populations, this method will still lead you to pick less competent person of favored characteristic x than more competent person of no particular characteristic, (don’t believe me? Model it.)  and when the pool of talent is as narrow as say “technical ability combined with managerial ability” is in the human race, you’re going to get some very incompetent people in.

But beyond that, it is poisonous to the “favored group x” itself.  I know.  I started down that path when I first came to the US.  I hung out with mostly minority people (see where apparently people identify me as Latin more than I identify myself) and it was very easy not only to make use of your “race” to get what you wanted (and this attracts a certain number of grifters, too, particularly in the US, see Dolezal or her counterpart in SF/F) but also to be really insecure about anything you got.  No more joy and pride in accomplishment, as you were never sure “is that because of my skin?”  And then you started seeing discrimination under every bed.  Look, you knew that your skin color/country of origin/whatever mattered enough to get you a position.  So even if it didn’t matter to you, it obviously mattered to other people.  From that to assuming every slight, every snub, every even vaguely unpleasant interaction was the result of discrimination was a step.  That road lies the “micro-aggressions” madness and the “The US is a white supremacist patriarchy” paranoia.  Because every time you’re thwarted and can’t get what you want, it MUST be discrimination.

Or you can choose to assume there are racist/sexist assholes — like the time I worked for a store where I and the black girl were the only ones not given the combination to the safe, but the first questioned about missing money — but the majority of people aren’t racist/sexist assholes, and you’ll make your way the best you can with what you have, thank you very much.  Then when you fail, you study what went wrong and improve your strategy.  Did you fail because of discrimination?  Maybe.  But eventually you’ll get SO GOOD you won’t fail.  And at least you’ll know you did it yourself and not be looking for racists under every bed.

The problem with the government promoting equality is this: the government doesn’t know you.  The government can’t read minds.  The government can’t even balance the odds between individuals.

The best the government can do is make broad ‘protected’ classes, like people of a certain skin color/ancestry, people of a certain (okay, female) gender, and people of certain orientations.

But classes aren’t people.  I’ll bet you dollars to doughnuts that whatever the relative performance of Portuguese Immigrants and Black People in the US (I don’t know.  Haven’t looked it up) the Obama daughters have WAY more advantages getting where they want to go in life than my kids.  Even if on paper my kids belong to a more privileged “class.”

Or take my friend Kate, an immigrant from Australia, and me.  Our journey into publishededom (shut up, totally a word) has been about the same, if you take in account she started ten years after me and as the field was starting to collapse, and the rational manner of making your way up no longer existed (It’s Kate’s fault.  Ask her.  She does this to every field she enters.  That’s why she has like 4 degrees.)

She’s blond and blue eyed.  I am a certifiable mutt with an accent that doesn’t trigger “oh, how smart” among American born people.  (No, seriously, they confuse Australian and British.)

Does our skin color have anything to do with success?  No, see, they don’t paint-chip authors.  Or at least real publishing houses don’t.  We’ll leave the unreal publishing house alone.  Heaven knows that they do.

HOWEVER make one or the other of us the daughter of an sf/f writer, and it would be completely different, irrespective of our particular skin color, or frankly talent.

This is the thing.  What determines success for a human being might have some component of race/gender/orientation.  Certainly in truly racist (vast portions of the world outside the US) or truly sexist countries (see most of the middle East, and vast portions of the Mediterranean) one or the other of those can be a huge handicap.  Certainly being gay in Muslim countries can cause you to be crushed under a wall or hung from a crane, which, strangely, puts an end to your striving.

But absent extreme circumstances, is that the whole picture of a human being?

Oh, hell no.  Human beings are not widgets.  Let’s start with external circumstances, like affluence at birth or the relative knowledge of the field you’re entering, or even your parents’ achievements and your relationship with them: those can make huge differences between people who are externally alike.

Let’s continue with what’s inside the person, and which can be much harder to quantify/understand and into which the government FOR SURE has absolutely no insight: intelligence is probably the lowest in importance when it comes to success.  Drive, personality, capacity for work and what we’ll call, for lack of a better word, charisma and the ability to create connections, count for more than raw IQ.

Once you take external and internal circumstances into account, and absent the government’s thumb on the scales, what does skin color, sex or orientation have to do with success: bloody little.

Worse, the government’s arbitrary rules have caused the not-inconsequential lunacy of having girls treated with kid gloves in primary school, which means they’re badly prepared for science in high school, where they’re also treated with kid gloves, until they hit college, where they can’t be treated with kid gloves.  My younger son, in engineering, has seen all his female class mates drop out leaving what he calls “a sausage fest” which he — as a male who likes women — finds disturbing.  And most of it? Bad preparation because no teacher wants to be thought too harsh to girls.  Except good teaching involves being harsh and demanding.  Some of my best teachers chased me all over the map, testing for smaller and smaller flaws. I’m not as conversant with race, but I’m fairly sure that kind of “discrimination by making life too easy” is going there too, combined with hiring teachers for “diverse” schools by “diversity” not competence.

By itself, on its own, government -imposed equality is enough to destroy western civilization. It can be argued to be doing that.

I am not a racist (unlike our government’s bureaucrats) and at any rate in the US it would be laughable to be a racist, given how mixed the populations are.  (Quoth older son “I’m often taken for black in the US, which is only possible because US blacks are so pale.) I believe left to their own devices, the races would have equalized long ago, and done so without the resentment/self doubt/paranoia now plaguing race relations.

Oh, it would have been grossly unfair to the first generation after the racist laws were removed.  Sure.  There had been after all legal discrimination, and those people would have lacked the ability to reach their full potential.

But the thing is, who judges full potential? The government?  HOW DO THEY KNOW?  We come back to “from each according to his ability; to each according to his need.” WHO decides?  Every time governments try to figure that out it turns out your ability is sorting caterpillars by touch and your need is 50 size 30 shoes.  For the left foot.  Which is what made the USSR happy and prosperous (people of Brutopia.)

The government functionaries are humans too. (Probably.  Most of them.  The story my friend Rebecca Lickiss wrote where the IRS was staffed by vampires is fiction.  PROBABLY.) They don’t know the inside of anyone’s head.

We’re back to kindergarten.  Faced with a boy who weighed a good 90 lbs in kindergarten (I wish I were joking.  #1 son was always oversized) and a little blond girl who weighed 30, who would you think was bullying the other?  And yet the boy had been trained not to even think of bullying anyone.  And the girl was a conniving little Livia Drusilla-wannabe.

And that’s with kindergarten students, just starting on their life journey.

Or take my son’s first grade teacher who every year selected and made the life miserable of a child she judged to be “half breed.” (Took us forever to figure that out, because we don’t think of our marriage that way.)  She thought she was helping, she really did.  Given prejudices that she probably couldn’t see, she assumed all such children were less than normal, and she interpreted every sign (such as our son being bored out of his gourd, since he was reading YA books for teens) as a sign they were struggling with the material.  And she tried to get them into special classes, to equate odds.

But she was a racist, you’ll say.  Sure.  though not really, as what she seemed to get exercised about was MIXED races.  But insofar as she was making decisions based on race, yes, she was a racist.  And yet I’m 99% sure what she was trying to do was out of good intentions.  And nonetheless, she made my kid’s life a living hell (and the life of his elementary school girlfriend a living hell.)

Because the people judging what’s needed to equalize the field are humans, and humans by definition come with a whole set of assumptions and prejudices of which they’re not conscious.

It doesn’t make it any better to codify that into law, where, say Obama’s daughters are considered a down-trodden group but, say, Amanda Green’s kid who is red haired and who grew up with a single mom in middle-middle class isn’t.  Or even better, Rebecca Lickiss’s sons, who grew up with the financial drain of their father fighting cancer, and now have to make their way without him, are on paper much better off than Malia and Sasha or even my kids.

Humans aren’t widgets.  Widgets can be equal.  In humans, even identical twins have differences.

The equality guaranteed under the constitution is not the equality of the Jacobins, which can only be enforced with the guillotine, and which, by creating paranoia and insanity ALWAYS leads to the guillotine or its equivalent.  The equality in the constitution is equality under the law.

We can’t make humans equal.  No one can.  For those interested in leveling the play field a little, such things as scholarships for the DESERVING children of the poor or first person to go to college in a family or such SEEMS like a worthy endeavor, and if I ever win the lottery I’ll do those.  Will it make everyone equal?  Oh, hell no.  Doubtless, circumstances being sometimes deceiving, it will help some people who don’t need it and pass over some who do.  BUT that’s… well… neither here nor there, in the end.  It’s at least a finer comb than “race/sex/place of origin/sexual orientation.”

But the government should get out of the business of discrimination for or against any given group.  Sure, this will lead to some injustices.  It will also, in the end, lead to a far more functional world, one where people can actually look past external characteristics.

The world I’d like my descendants to live in.


*If any of you is a member of Audible, A Few Good Men Audio Book is on sale for 4.99If any of you is a member of Audible, A Few Good Men Audio Book is on sale for 4.99

Also, while on that, Kim du Toit is back to blogging and in fine form.*