Putting People in Boxes By BAS

Putting People in Boxes


No, I’m not talking about undertakers. I mean, the natural human desire to categorize things, and how that’s been perverted by leftists.

This post is the result of a discussion with a friend about standards and definitions. (For the record, this friend really exists; I’m not attributing my thoughts to an imaginary person.) He is a deep thinker, and has a propensity for making mental models of situations and people he encounters. I think this is fairly common among Odds, when we’re looking for sense and predictability in an unpredictable world. It also had serious evolutionary benefits; when we were still living in trees, rapidly sorting unfamiliar things into very basic categories like: Do I eat it? Do I mate with it? Do I flee from it? kept our ancestors alive. It’s hard to work out the nuances of categorization when the cannibal tribe from next door is gnawing on your arm.

But the discussion sent me down the rabbit hole, and I started thinking about what happens when a person doesn’t conform to the model or fit in the box. What happens when someone doesn’t meet the definition of female/male/black/white/purple/whatever.

Sane people assume that the definition isn’t quite right, and adjust their mental model accordingly. They expand the box to include a person who would otherwise find it a tight fit.

An increasingly vocal portion of the left assumes that the person isn’t quite right, and holds onto their precious definition by kicking the person out of the group. How many times did we hear that Sarah Palin wasn’t a ‘real woman’ because she’s a Republican? Conservative black people are insulted and derided, and the left screams that they’re not ‘real black people’, though they’d probably say African-American, wanting to show off how woke they are.

Combine the normal human desire to categorize with a knee-jerk tendency to exclude people who don’t belong, and ta da! Fireworks! And not the good kind. See, if a person doesn’t fit into one box, they MUST fit into another. That’s why we have 57 genders and an infinite numbers of races nowadays. One large box has become a zillion tiny ones, and woe betide anyone who thinks they’re too constricting.

Allow me a digression. I, though female, am not a girly-girl. I’ve painted my fingernails maybe five times in my life; I don’t care what my hair looks like as long as it’s not in the way; and for a few months when I was twelve, I had three sets of clothing. Until recently, I was fairly convinced that I would spend my life single, childless, and living in a cabin in the woods, surrounded by books, guns, horses, and woodworking tools and only interacting with other humans over the internet. Not exactly stereotypically female, is it?

I was blessed with sane parents, so they didn’t try to make me into something I wasn’t, aside from convincing me (mostly) that it was rude to read when other people were in the room and make me use a fork to eat instead of my fingers. But less sane parents might have encouraged me to think I was a boy or that I was a lesbian, because I built tree forts instead of playing with dolls and didn’t like the boys in my class (they were too childish for my taste).

My parents were smart enough to realize that, just because I didn’t fit into the box that our culture has labeled ‘heterosexual female’, I shouldn’t be made to find myself another box in which I would be an even worse fit. They were also smart enough to realize that, if they tried to convince me I was in fact, the opposite sex, I might have been persuaded. Not because I was overly gullible, but because I trusted my parents’ judgment and really wanted their approval (in some ways, I am stereotypically female).

Not everyone has sane parents, and perhaps more importantly, there is an increasing minority of people who believe that, just because a person steps out of their box or doesn’t fit perfectly in the first place, they shouldn’t be allowed back in. In its most benevolent form, this leads to 57 genders, one in each box, so everyone in the world fits into one. Have to make the little darlings comfortable, you know? And of course, people can only associate with like-minded people, right?

And if a person wants to step outside, finds that it’s cold out there and wants to come back in? Nope, can’t allow that. So you have people who try to transition from one sex to the other, regret their surgery and try to return to their birth sex, and they get crucified by both sides, transsexual and not. Many of them started their transitions when they were very young and didn’t know any better but were pushed into it by parents who a) wanted a child of a particular sex and didn’t get one or b) genuinely but mistakenly thought they were doing what was best for their child.

The same thing happens to black people who start out poor and pull themselves up into the middle class. Or immigrants who make good. Unless they abase themselves before the liberal gods- and even that’s not always successful- they become ‘traitors’ in the eyes of the people they left behind. Because they stepped outside the box, and in doing so, showed other people that it could be done.

Sticking people in arbitrarily defined boxes is emotionally simplistic, and when I’m the emotionally subtle one in a conversation, you know something’s wrong. For one thing, who decides the definition of a particular box? Is it one of those things that comes from a ‘collective subconscious’, whatever that is?

I think not. That sounds like a hive mind. Ants have hive minds. I don’t know about you, but I’m too big to be an ant and I don’t like being underground.

So what’s the solution? One option is to have individual sized wooden boxes, in which we can zoom around the universe, bumping into other people’s boxes, waving at our friends as we pass by, and challenging each other to box races. But individual sized boxes would necessarily be small, so as to be more maneuverable, and it’d be a tight fit whenever I want to snuggle with my honey. How would I cuddle the children (that I don’t have yet)? And I get terrible leg cramps when I ride in a car for too long; what do you think would happen if I was stuck in a teeny little box for my entire life? Let’s not even go into the fact that these things would bear a striking resemblance to coffins.

Ideally, I’d have a very large box with a long and complicated name (perhaps something in Old Entish, because an Ent’s name is essentially a recital of their life story), where people can wander in and out if they like. But it needs to be BIG. My books alone would take up half the space. It needs a corner where I can hide when I don’t feel like talking but it needs to be sturdy enough that I can use it as a stage when I want to. The walls can’t be very high, because I like to see out of it. And I need enough space to keep a few horses. Pretty scenery would be nice, too, but I get bored when I look at the same vista every day, so can I have a variety of views?

And since I’m a giver, I think everyone else should have boxes, too. They can decorate them however they like, and I don’t even mind if they overlap into mine. Just wipe your feet on the rug, don’t be a butthead, and don’t follow someone else when they try to move away from you.

If you must put me in a box, make it a large one. Earth sized at the very least. Multi-universe sized is better.


A Generation With No Past

Most of humanity’s earliest stories are designed to explain “where do we come from?” and “How did we get here?”

Whether creation was from the slaying of Tiamat by the hero Marduk, or the more mannered tales of titans and wars with gods of the classic mythologies, stories were told children to explain “How did we get to where we are now?”  Because answering that question inevitably answers at least in part “what are we here for?” and “What is the meaning of life.”

The fun part about the top down societal engineering of the 20th century, a think that had never been attempted in that scale in the past (well, not in the west, though there were attempts, like those of Louis XIV and the Marques de Pombal in Portugal and I’m sure others) is that they knew this would have to be answered.  Humans like to know where they came from and where they’re going.  And the Marxists perfected a way to do this that answered the questions but was worse than no answer.  (The Nazis probably did too, but their influence over education didn’t last long enough to educate several generations.)

On the above keep in mind I said “in that scale.”  Just about every kind tried to do it, and there was a serious rewrite of history associated with events like Henry VIII’s break from Rome.

None of those attempts were as total or as successful as the 20th century ones, due to several things.  The first was that nations hadn’t had their spirits broken as thoroughly as WWI broke them, so people weren’t willing to lend credence to things spouted from on high with that much eagerness, and things leaked through.  HOWEVER the most important thing that the twentieth century had in hand to try to remake culture was this: public education, mass media, mass news reporting.

Did it succeed?  No.  The only result of trying to mold human beings into the utopian version of the man who would live happily under communism was 100 million graves, and an Europe that is dying of senescence and lack of reproduction.

However it succeeded brilliantly in not only separating, now, I suppose two or three generations from their roots, but also convincing them that they are superior to their actual learned ancestors, and somehow, yet, the product of the worst civilization of human history.

Western culture is dying of WWI partly because the “cure” imposed by state education apparatus, corrupted by Soviet agit prop and continued by “intellectuals” who know nothing except that they’re superior to everyone else, more enlightened, kinder, and that they should design society and the world to “improve” it.

The trick to this is not only to give them a fake history.  Every tinpot dictator does that.  The trick is to give them a fake history starting in kindergarten, that is painted in primary hues and comic-book complexity.  There are good guys (the oligarchs who would design society to be more fair) and bad guys (usually capitalists and greedy, they want to “exploit” everyone, which only works if you believe in fixed pie economics and that everyone gets a share at birth, an economic idea so stupid you have to be indoctrinated from birth to believe it.)  And everything is explained by “laws” and top down action.  Though this history talks about mass movements, and “the people” they don’t actually take THE PEOPLE into account, not with any depth and complexity.  The people in this narrative, the entire culture, in fact, is moldable, like butter to the sculpting knife of the powerful.

Societies don’t work that way.  Culture doesn’t work that way.  In fact culture is so persistent, so stubborn, it leads people to think it’s genetic.  (It’s not.  A baby taken at birth to another culture will not behave as his culture of origin.)  It changes, sure, through invasions and take overs, but so slowly that bits of older cultures and ideas stay embedded in the new culture.  It has been noted that the communist rulers of Russia partook a good bit of the tzarist regime, because the culture of the people was the same and that came through.  (They just dialed up the atrocities and lowered the functionality because their ideology was dysfunctional.  They blame their failure on Russia itself, but considering how communism does around the world, I’ll say to the extent countries survive it’s because of the underlying culture.)

Yesterday the critter in the comments who tried to educate us all in Marxist dialectic which for reasons known only to his psychiatrist he kept calling Aristotelian logic, was a case in point of someone raised on this comic book history.

He said something so bizarrely stupid in one of his early comments that though he read it, my mind refused to absorb it.  It wasn’t till my husband laughed aloud and read me what he said that I PROCESSED it.

He said Iberian culture, when it pertains to relations between the sexes, was changed in the 20th century “by Franco and Salazar.”

Keep in mind, this is said by a guy (man is a stretch considering he was raised with a gold spoon in his mouth and then married up, so he has never had to grow up) who was raised in Spain.

I don’t even know what he means by “was changed.”  I presume he thinks before that Iberian culture was …. egalitarian?  Matriarchal?  I’m sure he was taught some nonsense like that.

The thing is…. how can he believe that?

I grew up reading books written by Portuguese authors in the eighteenth and nineteenth century (some Spanish authors, too.  I mean, one has to read.)  I had a good relationship with my grandparents.  I read old family letters.  Surely these experiences aren’t blocked to most human beings, right?

The picture those paint is that, yeah, relations between the sexes in the peninsula did change under Salazar and Franco.  (No credit to them, though.  The change had been in progress for a while.) Women started being treated more like human beings; girls had an age of majority same as boys, and if the police still picked up your unmarried 30 year old daughter for running away from home, it was cultural habit in CONTRAVENTION of the law.  Culture changed a bit too.  I wasn’t considered a loose woman for looking out the window now and then, which I understand was a problem for my grandmother.  Sure, until the seventies married women still needed their husband’s permission to work…  I don’t know if that was a new law in the twentieth century, but the culture I saw up close and personal, it didn’t matter, since there wasn’t a chance of a woman working without her father’s/husband’s permission before.

Portugal is a very old culture.  Celts and Carthaginians, Greeks and Romans, Germanic tribes, Moors, French and British all influenced it, but in the end enough of the people remain to carry the culture.  To the extent that the present dispensation is imposing a narrative from above, and is total enough to push it, what it’s doing is what happens in occupied countries, where the enemy above provides a narrative: killing it.  There are o babies being born, certainly not enough to carry the country.  The resourceful young people are moving away.  If it weren’t for prolonged life spans, the place would be half deserted, because the elite above is trying to control every aspect of the culture.

And they do it, because their initial “why” questions were answered with comic book history and comic book logic, and they bought it.  Worse, because they were indoctrinated in this, they have no clue there’s something they don’t know and don’t understand.

They disdain the stories of their grandparents, old books, family letters, because why would they expose themselves to the unenlightened.

And then they try to act, as though the nonsense they were taught was true.

“A generation that doesn’t know history has no past, and no future.” – Robert A. Heinlein.

I’ll add it’s no better for a generation that knows only a fake, simplified, sketch of history.

It might be worse.















About that Matriarchy

Look, I grew up in a patriarchy.  No ifs, ands or buts.  You can tell by things like the seating precedence in a car.  It about broke my then 16 year old son’s head that when getting in a car with me and his grandparents, he was the one sitting next to his grandfather (the driver) because penis.  This gave him precedence over me and even over his grandmother, whom he assumed would sit next to her husband, of course.

Between that, and women backing to let him go through doors first, or just in general behaving like he was more important than older females, he ended up composing a satirical song called “My d*ck gives me primacy” which he sang EVERYWHERE much to the bemusement of those relatives who spoke English.  (Hey, he was 16.  At least the song interrupted his other schtick which was talking about how he was the king of the untidy streets.  Don’t go there.)

I’m typing this and wondering if my brother chances to read it (despite our divergent political paths, he reads my posts about every other time.  Hey, it’s good for him.  I hear it increases his heart rate, so surely it’s the same as exercise, right?) whether he’ll be upset by that description (truthful though it is) or laugh and say of course men take primacy in Portugal, because they’re not p*ssy whipped like Americans.  I rather assume the second.  It’s the Arab influence remaining in the culture, you see.  Oh, maybe the Roman, too, because you know, Romans weren’t exactly egalitarian in their treatment of the sexes, though all things considered, they weren’t bad for the ancient world.  However, you can see the band of countries occupied by moors for any considerable period of time, and the length of time being proportional to how deep the patriarchy is in those countries.

Yesterday on facebook, in reply to this Quick, to the Victim-Mobile!  a bright girl who must be about ten years older than I came to enlighten me about how important it was for women to tell their stories of abuse (rolls eyes) and about how some woman or other she worked with in 77, when they were both very young had been pressured into sex by the boss or she wouldn’t keep the job after the three months trial.  (As with forcing a reluctant baker to bake you a cake, why would you want to continue working for that asshat in those circumstances, unless, as I noted above it is one of the fields with many aspirants and stringent gate keeping, all of which are taken over by liberal asshats, who can get away with this.  Oh, she also told me it had nothing to do with liberal and conservative.  Rolls eyes.)  Among her pithy remarks, though, she said something about being so glad I was attractive and got lots of offers.  Implying of course that I’d never known anything but offers I didn’t want.  (Puts thumb on forefinger on either side of the bridge of her nose in the sinal salute.)

You know, she has been around my page long enough that you’d think she’d know where I grew up.  Maybe she does.  Maybe she’s so blinkered she thinks that the US is a patriarchy and any land where people tan is more enlightened.

You know that example above?  That’s just what my kid got to see on a two week visit.

Used to be from the age of twelve to about sixty, no woman could step outside without being hit with a barrage of sexual suggestions.  There was some bruahah not long ago of women complaining about getting cat calls from construction workers in big cities.  Since most construction workers in the US are Hispanic, I believed them.  I also wished they’d walk a mile in my country and time (it SEEMS better now, though to be honest I don’t go anywhere alone when I’m there, because family and not having a job/classes) of origin.  The one that sticks in my mind is when I got a group of men shouting felatio instructions at me, as I walked out of a store with a Popsicle.  I was twelve.  That one sticks in mind because it was one of the first times I went out on my own; because I didn’t understand half the words; and because I hadn’t learned to ignore them. Because it’s not just construction workers, but probably half the men.  Sure, it’s the uneducated/lower class males, mostly.  (Though I wouldn’t put it past students doing the same if out where their family can’t hear.)

After a while it becomes background noise.  Offensive, sure.  But it’s just words.

It was much worse riding public transport.  The moment I started having to take bus or train to the city for school, my older cousin gave me a hat pin and showed me the trick of putting it on the edge of a folder which I kept under my arm.  Not only could I then stick the guys trying to rub off on me, but I could do it and still act the innocent, because, you know, if you actually turned around and stuck them in the nadders with a pin, people would scream AT YOU.  After all, he wasn’t taking a piece off you. He was just having some fun.  Why couldn’t you pretend to ignore it, like all the other women did?

There were other things more material, which didn’t hold me back and rather amused me because I’m of a contrary disposition.  Like, the fact that in any mixed class the teacher would assume on the first day that the best students would be boys, and pass over you, while you had your hand in the air.  It amused me because after the first test, the teacher would hold the high-scoring one and scan the class in confusion wondering what kind of creative name this was, before calling out my name.  And nine times out of ten they’d say “This is amazing for a girl.  I never thought…”.

And yes, of course it influenced what women chose to do and how they acted.  By late high school unless you were a particularly contrary type of girl, even if you were going into a higher degree, like Medicine or Languages, you cultivated “womanly gifts” like crochet, and tried to appear dim in public.  I never had patience to pretend much.

So, do I approve of growing up like that?  Shrug.  In the panoply of human cultures, Portugal was and probably still is undoubtedly a patriarchy.  A lot of the experiences this leads to for a young female are less than pleasant and sure, of course, it can discourage women who would otherwise achieve… more than they do.  (There are other limits set by the culture.)

If America were like that, I too would be making remarks about the patriarchy and certainly teaching my kids to treat THEIR women better than average.  Not to mention lobbying for a patrol to clean up the “three guys leaning on the wall making lewd suggestions” that seem obligatory in any public thoroughfare in Portugal (or did thirty years ago.)

But America isn’t like that, and the chasm between what these people are talking about and even mild patriarchy like Portugal — let’s face it, it’s not Saudi Arabia — is so immense that when I hear heart-rending stories of clumsy passes or read the men now blackmailed into posting #Ihave I just want to cry.

If you have raped or sexually extorted women in the past, by all means, turn yourself into the police.  If you have made clumsy passes or, like a bright boy in a group yesterday THINK YOU MIGHT HAVE please stop it.  All you’re doing is encouraging the idiot feminists to think that all men are rapists, and providing cover for the real rapists like Weinstein or for that matter Bill Clinton.

I knew the US was a matriarchy from the moment in the airport when I was waiting for my plane to come over and get married and watched a very overweight, inappropriately dressed middle aged woman boss her husband and sons around.  (It occurred to me the other day that I probably now resemble her.  Eh.)

Only in a matriarchy are all men shown as idiots in every commercial; is every boss on tv a woman; are women treated like they have special and holy insight.

ONLY in a matriarchy can a bunch of women suddenly deciding that events thirty years ago still apply today (77 is not now, and now any guy saying sleep with me or else will be taken to court.  Unless he’s in Hollywood, publishing, the news or politics, and, oh, yeah, leftist) have men scurrying to come up with #Ihave.  When they OBVIOUSLY and painfully not only haven’t but couldn’t being to.

I disapprove of both matriarchy and patriarchy.  I believe in individuals.  I’m also aware I live in the real world.  And in the real world, a slight patriarchy — say the US before the present dispensation — is better than a matriarchy any day.  Why?  Because the matriarchy don’t STOP.

Women, being smaller and slighter and weaker than men have no built in brakes.  If we go to war, we go to war till the enemy is pieces.

The feminists who convinced American women that men were the enemy, at least as far back as I’ve been in the country, unleashed a monster that most of them didn’t anticipate or understand.

Ain’t momma happy ain’t nobody happy.  And momma knows that she can’t hold her men by force, so she must berate them and berate them and berate them, until they confess to things they wouldn’t dream of doing.

The problem is that in so doing they give cover to the real predators.  In the midst of the chorus of #Ihave the ones who really have will be assumed to just be guilty of the male gaze or something equally stupid.  Even when they’re really serial rapists.

The world is not going to ever be comfortable for anyone.  Not really.  All of us suffer aggravation and annoyance and disparagement.  It’s part of being human.

I want a world in which I and my sons, and my grandsons and granddaughters are all treated as people and not forced to confess to the sins of OTHERS.

Right now the danger to that world isn’t from the vaunted patriarchy but from the very real matriarchy.  Mother should take an aspirin and go to bed, and big sister in particular (she’s a bitter spinster, even if she’s married.  She never got over the envy of not being able to pee standing up) should shut up already.  And dad and brothers should know that no #theyhavenot.

And then we can start, sensibly, trying to figure out what problems still exist for women (if any) and what new problems there are for men.

And behave like grown ups.  Any American woman who thinks that she lives in a patriarchy should be dropped in Spain for three months without an escort or help.  (And that’s because I’m kind.  Notice I didn’t say Saudi Arabia.)  Any American man who thinks he might deserve to post #Ihave should call his local police station and confess, or see a decent therapist not known for implanting false memories.

We should adult already, and, btw, stop laying guilt trips on innocent children just because they were born with a penis.  They don’t need special treatment, either.  Boys and girls just need to know #allhumans. And #victimsaren’tspecial.

Time and Tide

Time and tide wait for no man.  Them as don’t work while young will have to work as old people.

I was raised on all these aforisms, but it meant nothing much at all.  When you’re young time stretches before you, if not infinite a close facsimile thereof.

When my brother turned twenty five he wrote a rather fatuous poem about how half of his life had gone. Even then, from the height of my 15 or so years, I rolled my eyes at it.  Because after all, even in the village when I was younger the life expectancy had been mid sixties, and by 1977 it was stretching to the seventies.

But young man are fatuous and at some level I knew that.  And yet, maybe from that poem, it created in me an habit to look ahead and see what I had left.

Not that anyone can know what they have left.  We have friends our age dropping off suddenly (will you people stop that?) and for them 25 was about the halfway point of life.

By family history I should have another 30 years.  If I’m very lucky I might have 40 or so.  But if the asthma continues attacking me suddenly (middle of the night, I swear to bob) when I don’t have a rescue inhaler (need to order another one) it might be much shorter than that.

RES in the comments has lamented many times that he will die with books unread.  Scary, as he’s not that much older than I.

And I will probably die with books unwritten which is very scary because 15 years ago, when I was in ICU attempting to die of inter-cellular pneumonia, what weighed with me was the worlds I’d carried in me for years that would now never live in other people’s minds.

The world is only eternal if it can escape its creator’s mind.

It used to be only chosen (by gatekeepers) worlds would live, but now…  Now I feel an obligation to them.

What I didn’t count on was my body, which has been trying to kill me since I was one, would go on expert mode.

But I have no intention of dying with these many books unwritten.  They’d either haunt me on the other side or flap around like a flock of carnivorous birds, and land on some unsuspecting writer embryo, who might not be able to handle it.

So how long do I have left?  I don’t know.  None of us does.

All I know is in the time I have I must write, so that afterwards I might rest.

I’ve known that since the kids were little, when writing time was something I snatched like stolen pastry.

BUT now a new thing joins in.  Given my body’s proclivities, I must husband time to have time.  I must give time to my body — to exercise, to rest — so I can write.

This is annoying but in our present study of geriatrics can’t be avoided (I don’t mind the lifespan.  It’s the falling apart that annoys me.)

I must stop treating my body like an inexhaustible, unbreakable machine, and trading pain and effort for achievement.

Instead I have to treat my body as an aged servant, and give it only what it can do, and give it time off to take care of its needs, so it will serve me longer.

Which means changing the habits of a life time.

But if it must be done, it must be done.  Because I must have time to birth more worlds that will fly away and live in other minds, and maybe, in their own time, in those minds birth new worlds, world without end.






I’m Very Much Alive

I’m even doing fairly well.  The cold is almost gone and I can write for the first time in a week.
I’ve just been busy AFK and will be for the next two hours at least.
I promise things will calm down after this and I’ll be more trustworthy.  For now, amuse yourselves with this:

Slavery and Freedom

The Promo is Back in Town by Free Range Oyster and Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

The Promo is Back in Town by Free Range Oyster

J.M. Ney-Grimm

Sarvet’s Wanderyar

Running away leads right back home—or does it?

Sarvet walks with a grinding limp, and her mountain culture keeps girls close to home. Worse, her mother emphasizes all the things Sarvet can’t do. No matter how gutsy her spirit or bold her defiance, staying put means growing weaker. Yet only boys get wanderyars. Lacking their supplies and training, how can Sarvet escape?

Can dreams—even big dreams—and inner certainty transform impossible barricades into a way out?

Ken Lizzi

Thick as Thieves

Fantasy makes crime no less shabby and thieves no less thick. Brick, ex-soldier turned tavern bouncer, lets loyalty and a woman involve him in a caper. Glum Arent, alcoholic poet, needs only greed and wine-addled imagination. Magic, treachery, and bad decisions drive a simple heist from farce to tragedy. Can any of the thieves survive the mishaps and double-crosses?

Cyn Bagley

She Called It, Wolf

EJ Hunter, Book 1

When her uncle calls EJ back home to Felony Flats, a tiny reservation community in Nevada, she is unaware that werewolves and other werekin roam this desert.

Plus she is already in trouble for transforming into a werewolf and saving her teammates from an assassin. This soldier is coming home after early retirement to a world filled with werecats, supersoldiers, and wildfires.

Then she meets the Alpha, Sheriff Adam.

Hans G. Schantz

A Rambling Wreck

Book 2 of The Hidden Truth

He’s a Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech!

Off to college for the education he’ll need to defeat the guardians of the hidden truth, Peter must infiltrate a deadly conspiracy, thwart an attempted social justice takeover of the school, save his professors from assassination, and somehow find time to study for finals.

The stakes are now higher than ever. To succeed, Peter must discover who burned down the Tolliver Library, find new allies in his fight, and secure the assistance of the legendary George P. Burdell himself.


Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

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: tremendous

I Don’t Feel Like Writing a Post

I swear yesterday’s was stream of consciousness.  Sorry.  Almost all better from the cold, but need to write on Guardian and also posts for pj…

So, my post for PJ this week, in case you missed it is here:

Why We Must Go to the Stars.

Sorry, I really have no excuse other than I feel like playing hooky.

Glass Slippers


I liked my mom’s edition of Cinderella better than the one Disney put on, much less the ones that were immortalized in sappy picture books all my friends seemed to have sitting around the house.

Part of it was, yes, that I was a rather sanguinary little brat, at least in my entertainment (in reality I was so tender hearted I rescued insects and lizards in peril of drowning in the washing tank.)  I did after all devour the rather extensive collection of Captain Morgan’s adventures, all the blood and gore immortalized in litographs with a page of transparent paper protecting them.

But part of it was that it was more… satisfying.  You see, in mother’s version, Cinderella had decided to make her father marry the widow woman in the next estate because this woman petted her much and gave her sweets.

Cinderella’s father told her he’d marry the widow when the pockets of his hunting jacket wore out, so Cinderella stuffed them with salt, to corrupt the leather.

So when she found herself semi-enslaved, she’d brought it on herself, which was far more satisfying than the “out of nowhere, she’s a victim.”  She also contrived on purpose to summon the fairy godmother, so cleaning up her own mess in a way.

Yes, this book also contained the redemption of the evil plot devices er…. I mean step sisters who are transformed into statues until they realize the error of their ways, and then married to likely noblemen.

BUT it is Cinderella’s arc that’s most satisfying.

I’m not ragging on Harry Potter, mind.  I like Harry Potter.  But we were talking about this yesterday in the comments, and both his being ill treated by his family and his specialness are things he was born with (Magic and the ability to be the boy who lived.)

So he is a hero because he was born into the role.

Yes, I know, in the end he has to fight and make the right choices, which is much, much better than what we see otherwise, but let’s be real, okay?  He starts out special just because he’s special.

A lot of main characters these days seem to be that way because they were born into the role.  The hidden prince did nothing to bring about his downfall or his redemption.  Now this has worked through since pre-history, at least if we assume Oedipus as a hidden prince of sorts, but when most stories are like that, it leads one to expect nobility of birth, as it were.  Which is very antithetical to the American idea but quite in keeping with leftist notions in which you belong to a group by birth (their having come right around to feudalism.).

One of the things I like in Heinlein’s books (and in older works of Dumas, or of Scott or a dozen other writers) is that heroes got into their trouble by their own hands, and got out of it the same way.

This is not just an aesthetic opinion.  It builds the expectation that you’re expected to do something, even in hopeless situations.

Perhaps that’s why the super-hero trend, even when I enjoyed some of the movies, hit me the wrong way.  If common people are in the expectation that they can’t do anything to save themselves, it becomes all too easy to wait for the super hero, the pre-ordained being or the perfect president to rescue them.  And in their absence to decide to burn it all down.

That’s not who we are.  We are Americans — every man a king — and each of us should do what we can to get ourselves out of bad situations, whether of our own device or inherited.

There is no one perfect or preordained to save the world.  You either save your own little piece of it or not, and you’re not required to be perfect to make a great difference.

Just do it.



Postponed duties have overtaken me

There will be a post later…

Right or Wrong

So yesterday, for those who haven’t dug through the comments, we suffered an infestation of the troll who speaks in single sentences, doesn’t make much sense, avoids answering questions, misreads everything you said, and responds with unearned superiority.  Oh, yeah, and hails from Boston.  I know, until that last you thought it was a normal troll.  But it’s not.  He distills the essence of trolldom to such an art form it’s like playing chess with a pigeon.

He’s now gone, but his opening gambit was actually interesting.  Should you compromise your principles to stand with your homeland when it is at war?

Now, that’s not how he put it, or what he meant, and when he said he’s loyal to “principles” not a country, it makes me wish very much he’d immigrate to Venezuela already, where his principles are in obvious display.

But are we loyal to the USA or the constitution?  For which would you fight?  Does the land mean anything.


Different order problems.  Yes, I’m a constitutionalist and the Earth and Sky shall pass away before they dim a single letter or punctuation mark of that immortal document.

And of course I will fight for the Constitution.  I took an oath and meant it, and I do keep it.  Part of what this blog and the inevitable hit on my career are all about.  I fight for constitutional principles where it matters: in the land that is already supposed to be devoted to it.

Even there I compromise — more on that later — because politics and culture is not a “I shout the truth and you believe it” but a give and take, a slow turning.  It’s more akin to sailing in a storm than to a race to the finish.

But once you bring in “war against another country” you are in a wholly different territory.

I’ve told you before, and it’s my perennial fear, our internal divisions which are amplified by the fifth column press might encourage a foreign power to attack us.  And that’s a problem.  If it were just us in the world, sure a civil war might be a fine idea to clear forever some of the crud that has crept into the national gears.  (It’s not a fine idea, but never mind that, it might be DOABLE and the result better than worse.)  But the problem is that a continent-sized nation though we are, we are not alone in the world.  If we start going at each other, other nations will start going at us, breaking us up, partitioning us off, and the end result is more likely to be the disappearance of anything vaguely “USA-like” or even capable of bringing back the constitution.  For centuries.

But surely, you say, if our internal regime is utterly despicable, it still behooves us to work for the enemy, right?

I don’t know.  Note the best known case of resistance to the Nazis was not internal, but a country that had been OCCUPIED by another country, and even there I have read that the only effective parts of the resistance were the communists, who were effectively working for yet another foreign power.

BTW if you read first hand accounts in occupied France the “dance with the devil” aspects of survival become very stark, from those who saw the occupation as a means of advancement to those willing to do the most soul crushing things just to keep their loved ones alive another day.

And in the end, whether to support your country “right or wrong” boils down to that.  Those of us who read history know what happens to occupied countries.  It’s not a fate we want for our relatives, friends, or even, frankly, casual acquaintances.

In the US add to that “which polity can I possibly bring about to the founding principles after the storm passes.”

So, say Hillary had won.  By now we’d probably be thinking of Obama’s years as that golden age of respect for civil liberties.  Now imagine that her normal fine-tuned sense of politics got Russia or China to attack.  Nuke a few cities.  Perhaps land troops or get cat’s paws to.

Would you fight for the US in those circumstances?

Look, it’s not even a question.  Hillary as a leader would be utterly despicable, and her rule would probably destroy what remains of the constitution.  But the enemy is equally despicable.  And besides, it would be coming in as a victor.

Okay, okay, so what about if the enemy was semi decent?  Posit a weird universe in which we’re invaded by England.

Uh… still no question.  We won’t go into the fact that the things we object to in the US are more so with boots on in England, from restrictions on free speech to the disarming of the populace.  Instead, let’s just keep in mind even decent nations behave very badly as victors.  And most of us have people we care for, whom we’d not see killed or worse.  Also, most of us want the US kept as a territory where the constitution can be brought back.

So the order of business would be: fight for my country, THEN reform it.  Because trying to reform it in the middle of an existential struggle would be death for the nation, and bringing a nation back from the dead — in the only case we know — takes thousands of years.

But Sarah, you’ll say, this started out as being over Von Braun’s decision to fight for Germany even though his father at least loathed Hitler.  Surely a regime under which they fed people a paste made of cellulose and old clothes as a way to test what people could live from (and killed 98% of the people fed this) not to mention a regime that killed six million of its citizens cannot be something you fight for AGAINST ANYONE.

Uh… True on the regime, except that amid the allies was good old uncle Joe — and talk about making a deal with the devil there — who went on to kill 40 million of his people and whose engineered famine engendered families swapping children FOR EATING in the 20th century.  I’ll note here in passing that Von Braun’s family land was in the East, the part everyone pretty much knew would go to the USSR’s sphere of influence if not outright occupation.

And then there’s being there, at that time, and not having the advantage of hindsight.  One thing it’s obvious from his correspondence was that Von Braun was half in love with America from reading YA adventure stories about it.  But if you’re in the middle of a war and you know your side is despicable, no matter how inclined you are to believe/welcome the invaders, when you realize these countries you THOUGHT you liked, like the US and England, are allied with the horror that is the USSR which is as bad as the regime in your country, but foreign and disposed to hate you (particularly if you’re a nobleman) well… how are you going to fall?

Again, I’m not defending Von Braun’s choices.  I’m not sure he, himself, would, in later life.  I’m just saying his choices were all too human and necessitate neither a grand plot or psychopathy to explain.

Which brings me to what I said above about fighting to bring the constitution back but compromising, even when you hate to.

Look, you’re never given a choice of cake or death.  Choices in life tend to be more “small pox or black plague” particularly in the political realm, for a libertarian.

And then you go “Small pox might not be easily curable, and it might spread from me to the entire area.  Black plague, if they put you on an IV drip is trivial to beat.”

Or as I said “this is how I ended up attending a demonstration in support of the socialists in Portugal.”  I knew what the socialists were.  “On the way to communism” seemed to be their motto “just slower” and I was not under the illusion their leader was anything but a power hungry moron.  HOWEVER they were the most freedom-minded party available while the state was dominated by straight up Maoists.  It was a matter of “surviving to fight another day.”

Which must stand as my excuse for voting for the loathsome McCain.  Because I knew the disaster Obama would be.  (And for those who say he wasn’t, I”ll be surprised if his so called foreign policy doesn’t get us bombed, and I suspect most of us will die of his messing with the health system because it’s so embuggred that no rationality can be restored for decades.)

Sometimes it’s all about preserving as much of the republic as we can, while we fight the culture war and try to bring our country back to the constitution.

Do those choices stain the soul?  Possibly.  I’m just hoping we’re graded on a curve, otherwise which of us will escape a whipping?

While I would prefer the choice between cake and death, because it’s easy, that is not how life works.

And while I would prefer to fight for our principles in splendid isolation, that’s not how the WORLD works.

In the end, all the other sides get a vote, and sometimes the best we can do is fight a rearguard action and not give way.

And sometimes, it’s enough.