The Totalitarian Train Is Rolling Down the Tracks

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If I could communicate just one thing, across the increasing divide of language and thought to the left it would be this: that warm and fuzzy feeling you get when you’re running someone down is not righteousness.

It’s just the feeling apes get when they run off another ape.

If you’re part of a band and all of you were piling on an outsider — or an insider who was just declared an outsider and run off — you’ll also feel very connected to your band, and a feeling of being loved and belonging.

It’s not real. It’s the result of a “reward” rush of endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin, and dopamine that flood your body after stress and a perceived “victory.”  Oxytocin, particularly, promotes a feeling of bonding with those around you.

Just remember, as you’re high fiving each other and believing that something that feels so good has to be good and morally “just” you could be the victim tomorrow.  Because the feelings don’t last, and that rush of “righteousness and victory” is addictive. Those who are your comrades today will be looking for someone to kick in the face tomorrow. And it really could be you.

I know there’s no point telling them that. The young ones were never taught to think, and frankly have been given no moral guidance whatsoever, besides (like all places whose communications and power structures have been taken over by leftists) “obey the party.” They have been reduced, in less than three generations to savages who cannot reason their way out of a philosophical paperback, even if it happens to be soaking wet, and instead identify good with “pleases the tribe.” They are therefore prey to the power hungry bullies in their midst, many of which are already addicted to the rush of victory.  (And this is why I tell you not to let strangers raise your children.) And they’re scaring the living daylights out of me. And not the way they think they are.

Not the way they think they are, because the way they’re scaring me is not the way that will make me roll over to avoid confrontation.  To be absolutely honest, I’m not sure there’s a way that makes me do that, anyway. I am broken in that I have a tendency to run screaming (and clutching something heavy) at whatever is scaring me.  But I do have a default mode of “I’m too lazy to bother obliterating you” which causes me to ignore most people making threatening displays towards me (or say, manipulating their cat’s paws to keep me out of a con. Yeah. I saw that.  One more move, missy, and I put in action my plan of taking a line a day from your copious social media use and making it famous for its total absence of thought and vicious idiocy. Keep it up and your name will become a laugh line till even your comrades are afraid of associating with you. You’ve been warned. At this point, only my laziness is saving you from having your lunacy exposed and mocked.)

But that’s besides the point.  This is bypassing my laziness and engaging the “kill it before it grows” mode in my brain.  Which I don’t like. I’m middle aged. My kids are almost on their own. Running around the hills with Kalashnikov has lost all appeal.

More importantly, if this goes hot I don’t think what emerges on the other side is a constitutional republic.  And while not all other forms of government are bad (well run empires are okay. The problem being “well run.”) they all are more dangerous, in the sense that their triggers for going totalitarian are more easily tripped.

I just don’t know if we can avoid going hot.  Not if the left keeps on the path it’s been.

You see, they took the wrong lessons from the 20th century.  You could say they took the wrong lessons because the totalitarian-sympathizers in education and academia made sure they did so.

It simply wasn’t convenient to people who by the time the Nazis fell were mostly communist or socialist to point out that what happened under the Nazis was what happens every time under totalitarian and economically deluded regimes.  Because then someone might take a close look at good ol’ uncle Joe and see his own death camps, massacres and enforced famines.  Or the others around the world in regimes that STILL make the left moist with desire like the PRC.

So instead they took the one form that the National socialists of Germany had given to their murderous craziness and made that what was bad.  I.e. despite the fact that the national socialists murdered in service of an invented theory of greatness that had no basis in reality, the left chose one aspect of that theory to blame for everything: the obsession with race.

Look, racism is insane. And it’s all over the left, right now, in their belief that culture is the same as race, and that therefore to disapprove of cultural dysfunction is to be racist. They, themselves are racist for subscribing to that theory. They’re also wrong on all levels, from genetics to history to human behavior, but never mind.

They are comfortable blaming racism for the evils of the 20th century because they never see their own racism (yes, wanting people of color to behave in a certain way, denying them agency, and also fetishisticizing them as the saviors of Marxism IS racism, kiddies) AND because they are happily and willfully unaware of the much greater numbers of dead under regimes that outwardly had no racial component to their crazy cakes theories.  (Outwardly? Well, yes. Because communism — the Donner party of political theories — reduces everyone to abject poverty and need until they eat each other. And societies under stress enforce conformity. Racial minorities, or anyone visibly different, propaganda to the contrary, did not do well in the soviet union. And I would bet you cash money they’re pretty uncomfortable in Venezuela right now.)

However, what their obsession with the racial component of Germany’s mid-century murder spree has done is make it impossible for them to see what really causes it.

Any regime, any human group who walls out any other group for any difference can end up that way. If you think white males cause all the evil in the world; if you think you have the right to destroy people’s livelihood and careers because their opinions differ from yours; if you get a righteous and unexamined rush of mistreating people that you identify as “evil” and “not really people” you might as well be on the streets in your brown shirts, breaking windows.

This is how our maleducated youth has come around to believing crazy crap like that the Jews control the world, or that the rich are “hoarding the stash” without which we’d all live on unicorn (but not cow) farts and rainbows.

Because it’s easier to blame a group of people who have never actually done you any harm (expressing a contrary opinion is not causing you harm) and going after their ability to survive than to examine history, or look in the mirror and see the angry ape looking back.

And the more crimes you commit for your “victory rush” the less you’ll be willing to admit you were wrong and crazy.

This is how normal Germans — then the most civilized nation in the world — came to lie to themselves about the camps, even when they could smell the smoke and see the victims. This is how they could even pile on, and take the goods of those marched out to the camps with a clear conscience.

They’d made them non-people.

And the important thing there is not that they were doing this to racial (or other) minorities.  The important thing is that they were this to a large group of people that their leaders had told them were bad-evil and not really human.

It’s a very ancient human mechanism. And one that has few brakes, short of an entire group of people having a moment of sudden recognition and rejection of everything they were taught.

And I can’t remember a single time in history that happened without massive military defeat first.

And no matter how much the rest of us wish to hold off, at some point the switch flips, and we’ll go after them as hard as they’ve been going after us.  Only we’re competent. And frankly a lot more vicious than they can even imagine.

I wake up screaming.

 

 

 

Pioneers On the Wild Frontier — A Blast From The Past From May 2013

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The WEIRD thing is how pertinent this post still is.  And also how much someone… okay me, needs to take her own medicine – SAH.

Pioneers On the Wild Frontier– A Blast From The Past From May 2013

There is a very powerful paragraph in one of Heinlein’s juveniles, a note repeated again when he’s talking about American exceptionalism, and again when he talks of the need to go to space.  It is apparently a paraphrase of a well known quote, which I found attributed to Albert Schmidt, and also as anonymous, and also as being written in some museum, but as that page is no longer available, I can’t say where.  Also, apparently Maya Angelou (!) mentioned this quote.  Of all of the people who made this statement, it fits the spirit of Heinlein’s juveniles the best. “The cowards never started. The weak died on the way. Only the strong arrived. They were the pioneers.”

This in Heinlein’s juveniles is often related with going to space, but it occurs to me that it’s any new technology and any major change in society driven by technology (not the vapid ideas of politicians.)

Changes – major changes of any sort – are always scary to an established society.  History has shown time and again that people will endure near-unendurable conditions rather than revolt, but they WILL revolt against change.  Because we know we are surviving – sort of – right now, but will we after the changes.  And most of us want to be able to visualize what things will look like after the changes.

Which is why when tech starts changing too much too fast and hitting the social structures, people go nuts.  The French revolution was the fruit and manifestation of the industrial revolution.  So was our own revolution, think on.

And if you look at it right the fourteenth century and its unending barrel full of misery was not because things were getting worse, but because there had been some developments that had made life better.  Hence, war plague and famine, of course.

Now, think about it, the fourteenth century was the result of changes accumulating through the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth, but that was still too fast for us.

The twentieth century… there’s a reason that it was even more blood soaked than the fourteenth.

And now, it’s much faster and much worse.

The revolution we’ve facing, in a hundred different ways of doing things, from manufacturing to data processing (including that peculiar form that involves fiction writing) to a million other things, is so radical that it might be that long waited trans-humanistic thing, even if it doesn’t mean we’ll all live forever or look like the borg.

Just computers will affect the way we mate – both by bringing together unlikely mates (I managed it the old fashioned way.  By stealing time at the phone booth!) and by moving the nexus of work to the house (no, not yet, but like the ebook revolution it’s coming and it will be sudden when it comes) and thus favoring mates in the same profession, who can share work.  It will affect the way we live – I am one of those people who like people, and for me it probably means going very urban so I can, you know, live where I can go out to a coffee shop, or something.  But for other people it means living in the middle of nowhere, working in the big city and shopping wherever you want.

My guess is that no one alive today will see the end of this transformation.  It’s that huge and shattering and it feeds other transformations.

As for people who say “but it’s always changing.”  Sure it is, but it’s punctuated equilibrium.  For a while things seem to be stationary and then it accumulates and it comes crashing on society as a disruptive and sudden force.

Writing is going through it.  I’ve given my opinion a lot of other professional fields are headed for it.  I’ve also said, until you’re probably all tired of it, that this in conjunction with the current political insanity might meant the end of jobs as we know it.  In the future we’re all contractors, with both the risks and the benefits of it.

It’s not a lifestyle that suits everyone, but neither was 9 to 5 and yet mid 20th century it consumed almost everyone who needed to work, and influenced everyone else’s life.

So, in that spirit, and based on what I’ve seen in my own field, here is my take on what will happen and what you need to know.

1 – If your job entails prestige, be willing to make a choice between that and making money.  Right now a lot of writers are not just refusing to go indie, but screaming at everyone who does, and complaining it undermines the prestige.  A result of the “indie revolution” coming everywhere will almost certainly be an end to credentialism.  People will respect what you can do, not where you went to school.  Sometimes they’re related.  More often they’re not. Right now institutions, particularly large ones, rely on credentials to avoid complaints of discrimination.  But when hiring contractors for the job, the job will be more important. Fortunately for me, I was born without any social graces!  But you might have a bigger adaptation.

2- You must work.  This is the biggest barrier, and why managers still dislike sending people home to work.  They’re under the impression people just won’t.  This is silly, since if they don’t, they can be fired.  OTOH because we’ve equated work with time throughout the 20th century, they might be afraid you’re working very fast and goofing off the rest of the time.  Both the stupid laws penalizing employers over a certain number of employees and a certain number of hours, and tech will defeat that.  My kids are used to doing their homework and tests (even) by computer, and to doing group work via computer too.  When their generation rises to managers, they won’t have our prejudices.  And perhaps they’ll be better at working remotely.  My guess, though, is “no.”  Unless you set up a completely separate place in your house, keeping up work surrounded by home and family is difficult.  Almost everyone I know who works from home has issues with it.  It’s a skill, though.  Learn to cultivate it.

3- You must have time off.  Yes, yes, I know.  Sarah, take your own medicine.  But I’m in the time when to launch my career I MUST work hard – very hard – at many things for a few years.  Still, I’m considering taking Sundays off.  I must read SOMETIME.  The point is, if you’re of a certain type (my husband and I seem to be) working from home means working ALL the time.  You forget to quit.  You must control that because

4- Regardless of whether you like people or not, you need to have some people contact, now and then.  In person, not just over the computer.  Even if it’s just your family.  Also, make sure the family knows you don’t hate them, you’re just busy.  Make time for time with them, or you won’t have them.

5- This is important because, you should never, ever, ever count on indie/contractor being easy, or even easier than whatever you’ve been doing.  Yes, going contractor or indie gives you freedom to work the way you want to.  That means you places your bets, you takes your earnings – and sometimes you’ll goof.  (Everyone does.)  It’s important not to build up a beautiful image of the fleshpots of Egypt in your mind.  What I mean is, don’t, in retrospect make “jobs” and the way things are done now into a wonderful thing.  Remember it too had difficulties.  Also remember if you’re one of the ones breaking out in your field, or whatever, that you’re a pioneer.  You might not be on one of Saturn’s moons, but some things as unpredictable as ice storms will destroy your hard-earned stability.  Look at what happened with Rusch and Ella.  Sometimes you’ll be knocked to zero and have to start again.  This doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong.  Just that the high-change state is unstable and the landscape changes ALL the time.

6 – Related to five.  Stay alert.  Keep up with what’s going on.  Ever since I came into writing, people have given me advice that’s out of date.  This is how I ended up writing short stories for years, because I thought that’s how one broke into novels.  This was no longer true when I tried it.  However, people could still give you advice a year or two old and it would work.  Now?  Ah!  I keep up with Rusch and the Passive Guy and a dozen other blogs, plus take recommendations from friends more plugged in than I am, and things still blindside me.  As in an alien planet, keep moving, keep ahead of the shifting landscape.  And evaluate each mutie on his own.  Some are friendly.  Some will eat you as fast as look at you.

7- There are no guarantees.  The future is being built under our eyes.  NO ONE CAN PROMISE what you try will work out.  So keep your fingers in as many pies as you can without killing yourself.  What moves might NOT be what you expect.  (For instance in publishing I’m doing large press, small press and indie.  Because I feel safer that way.)

8 – Help others on the way.  This is not necessary so much as it will help you in the long run.  Except for some right bastards (actually mostly left, but that’s neither here nor there) most people return good with good.  You don’t need to make the trade explicit.  You help a lot of people, some will be there for you when you’re down.  And all contractors have ups and downs.  Cast your bread upon the waters and spread your generosity widely.  And remember to pay it forward.  (This is already making relationships between writers much better than the old hierarchical model where publishers picked winners and losers.)

9- Have a hobby that can become your main profession if you need to.  Yep, if this writing gig goes south, I’m a recreational clothes ironer (totally a word.  Deal.) and a middling filet crochetter – for the win.  Oh, who am I kidding?  I’ll rant at people for a living.  Actually have two hobbies that can become your main profession.  And accumulate as many abilities as you can.  Yeah, okay, I learned seven languages because I thought it would improve my chances of employment.  Then I moved here.  Not the smartest move.  BUT some of them work.  I’d carefully cultivated a knowledge of science fiction for instance (otherwise called how I wasted my youth) and it came in handy.

10 – Don’t brow beat others.  Yes, you’ll be very afraid at times, but projecting your fear onto others and saying if you can’t do it no one can is contrary to the bread upon the waters thing.  It’s also contra productive.  The cowards never started – but lower than a coward is the one who tries to make other cowards.

On a related note, my post at Mad Genius Club today is on Fear.

Now go forth and instead of being scared of these innovative times of ours, be excited about them.  You’re a pioneer.  That means you get to shape the future landscape for your grandkids.

Like most pioneers, you’re being forced onto it by circumstances and by the status quo becoming untenable.  But it doesn’t mean you can’t take the opportunity to build something better.

Now go and do it.

On Being A Frail Flower of Femininity

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This morning in the shower I was talking to Dan (yes, I know we’re unnatural that way, but it’s often the only time we have for conversation. Used to be the only place the boys couldn’t follow to interrupt us) about identity, loss of identity and loss of self.

Part of this was that we’re in the (Please, Lord) final push to get the boys out and on their own.  While Robert isn’t out, he’s effectively off our hands by Summer and off our responsibility completely by Summer next year.  Marshall… well, because of stupid scheduling tricks, he won’t graduate till Summer next year and he’s actually expensive. We’ll see if he succeeds in finding something for the summer, something (part time) for next year, or just gets his typesetting off the ground.  But one way or another, he’s an adult, and so our work is more or less done, save for a final trailing off of financial support.

The point being — since we’d just referenced the days when we couldn’t go to the grocery store without one of the boys at least — that our role as parents is coming to an end.  I mean, we’ll always be the boys’ parents, but it can’t be our identity anymore, unless we want to drive them and us insane.

I’m also, as some of you know, making a huge change in my professional identity.  Which I had to explain to Dan (because it’s not intuitive) has always been a great part of my self image, because I grew up convinced no one would ever be stupid enough to marry me.  Therefore, like males, I built my identity around what I can do and my career.  (Which caused me massive problems while motherhood was eating my life, because I felt like a lazy bum.)

The comment about marrying always brings people up short. I know (now) that I’m still not incredibly ugly, (with weight loss I’m becoming downright comely. Maybe even cute for my age) and was very pretty as a young woman.  So why would it require a man to be stupid to marry me…

The answer ties in with Portuguese society and the fact I used to make most Portuguese young men run screaming into the night. (In fact, I never dated a Portuguese male.  Ever. I came close a couple of times, if I’d known how to read signals, which I didn’t, but never in a relationship.)

The reason is… complicated.

First, opinions on whether or not I’m on the autistic spectrum vary.  Some people are vehemently sure I’m not, just as others are sure I am.  One of the people who knows me best and has knowledge of the neurological issue thinks I am, but I became REALLY good at faking, to the point it’s hard to tell.

Me? I don’t have an opinion, because I can’t see myself from outside. OTOH I incline (slightly) to “I’m not, I’m just WEIRD.”

Here’s the thing: Portugal is a highly gendered society and even in these ‘enlightened’ days reflexively patriarchal.

What I mean is despite all the “women’s lib” and a loosening of sexual behavior norms (and more on that, because it’s not the “liberation” it’s preached to be) things like women riding in the back of the car if there’s a male in the group who will obviously get the front passenger side, or women being naturally accorded less weight in decisions, or… it’s there. It’s reflexive. It’s so deep no one thinks about it.

Portugal is still so patriarchal that the frail blossoms who think the US is a patriarchy would have a mental breakdown if transported to Portugal and forced to live the way normal people (not tourists) live.  (They’d probably explode on contact in most Arab countries.  That’s something else.)

In my day, now almost half a century in the past (from when I became aware of it) it was more obvious, in your face and completely unapologetic.

Things like the fact I wore pants as a kid (mostly because mom was convinced cold air on my legs would make me sick, since I was so sickly.  Yes, I know, never mind) or didn’t have pierced ears made people very uncomfortable. This despite the fact that I had hair down to my behind and wore braids. Because women and PARTICULARLY girls had to absolutely fit the standard image. No take backs, no excuses, no variations.

Of course, this also had to do with the fact that Portugal was a country under economic and social stress pretty much the whole time I lived there.  Countries and societies under stress enforce conformity.

Anyway…

It wasn’t that I rebelled against the role of women. Or the rules for girls. That I think they could have understood. The rebel is part of the panoply of compliance.  Some go along, some rebel. Completely understandable.

It’s more that I never bothered paying attention to the rules and never knew were the boundaries were.  Or if I knew it never occurred to me, not for a moment, that any of that applied to me.  Yeah, sure, I knew the rules, in theory. But what the heck did any of that have to do with my LIFE and who I was?

Part of it was that my family was already fairly odd.  It never occurred to me till enough remarks from strangers pierced through the shell, that women who read were weird.  Sure, mom hated my reading. But dad and grandma were cool with it, my brother thought it was normal, and why would anyone mind?  In the same way, it never occurred to me I shouldn’t read science fiction.  My brother did and I found it fascinating, so I read it.  Sure, I read my cousin’s romances, too. But they weren’t as much fun, and had a marked lack of spaceships and other planets, which was a downcheck against them, of course.

The fact that most women and girls spent their time making lace or embroidering or something struck me as downright weird.  Now, part of this might have been that I had the same sensory issues younger son had (only at the time no one could/would diagnose them.)  I remember it was hard to write on a line till 14 or so.  And I had taste and touch anomalies (including being convinced any knit fabric was “prickly.”)  It wasn’t until I saw son’s issues that I realized I’d probably had them.  And girls grow out of them earlier.  So most handicrafts women did were impossible to me till about 14.  At which point I started doing cross stitch and making stuffed animals.  But I did that because I enjoyed them.  Not for my trousseau.

I completely missed that handicrafts are such a part (or were) of Portuguese womanhood that mom was left with nothing to brag on to the other matrons of the village.  I mean, sure, I was in college, had won a couple of writing contests, had a poetry chapbook published, but where was my lace? my embroidery? my exquisitely made apron or kitchen adornment?

Meh.  Even when I started doing handicrafts, I usually did them while reading and watching TV or talking.  And I was as likely to make a tablecloth for a friend’s wedding gift as to make a batch of “lucky frogs” (I should post a picture of Carlos, who was my first stuffed animal and has been with me my whole life.  In fact, when I’m sick Dan brings it to the hospital to look after me.)  Including the famous yellow polkadotted one with a pink tongue that caused my brother to ask me if I was drunk.

In the same way in my interaction with people I tended to think of me as me, not a frail flower of femininity.  Or even a woman who either complied or rebelled against the standard.

Then there was school.  It took a few times of teachers being surprised I had the highest test score, or exhorting the boys to come up to snuff, because obviously it wasn’t that difficult since I could do it for me to get that girls were supposed to do worse than boys.  Not that I cared. I mean, it might make me smirk a bit, but that was it.

Because I was born competitive. And grades were competition. Frankly, if you’re competing with anyone and at some level you don’t want to rip out their heart and eat it raw, you’re hampering yourself.  And I never saw any point in doing anything that COULD be competitive and not competing.

Was the game rigged against me?  Probably. I just never noticed.  I was too busy barreling through life in general and learning in particular.

Humans are great apes.  Not signaling right confuses people. Scares some people.  Most Portuguese males, used to clear signaling, were completely puzzled as to what to make of me.

In my late teens and early twenties, the dime dropped to an extent.  To an extent. I.e. I realized that by wearing certain types of clothes and acting in a certain way I could get away with murder with a side of mayhem. And I did. Oooh, boy, did I. Even if half the time I wore impeccable 30s style costumes, complete with lace silk stockings and stiletto heels.  Honestly, those seemed to mess with people’s heads even more, and men became unable to think rationally around me dressed like that.

But I still remained unconvinced that being a woman should in any way curb what I wanted to do or who I was.  Playing with makeup, shoes and hair was fun.  As were clothes. But they were not who I was.

I still remain unconvinced.  Sure, I do realize there are things I can’t do/can’t do as well because the brain is in a female body.  By and large I don’t have the strength (upper body strength is more or less gone. Look, I’m working on it.) or force or size to, say, fight a man or lift as much as they can.  So, if I need any of that done, I ask a male. Nicely.

But in terms of who I really am, my life inside my skull, I don’t see why I should care what sex the body I’m in is.  Sure. Okay. I’ve been affected by menopause and its attending ills. Yeah. It’s not as though men don’t have their own hormonal ramp ups and cool downs and their own challenges.  And yeah, I’m very happy I’m female because my husband likes that. And it makes life much easier.  And of course, being female allowed me to be a mother.

But in my day to day, in what I am and do… why should I care what people think women can and can’t do?

Are there people who think I should do this or that because I’m a woman?  Sure. There are. And I care for their opinions about as much as I care for the opinions of the village matrons who knew I was useless because I couldn’t embroider pillowcases.

Shrug.

It’s not rebellion.

Most of the things I WANT to do are either female or genderless.  I love cooking. I love writing. I even like sewing. I also like refinishing furniture (which these days is mostly female.)  And I like long, involved debates (preferably over something alcoholic) with friends of a philosophical disposition.  I like natural history. I like walks with my husband.  I’m not 100% sure I like (most of) the cats, but they’re mine to look after, so…

I just refuse to live the only life I have according to someone else’s expectations, be they the expectations of the left, who thinks I should feel oppressed by being born female, or see patriarchy under every stone, or of the right who (at least a segment. Mostly not the American right) thinks I should defer to greater male wisdom and fulfill the calm and sweet role of a wife and mother.

I neither feel the need to comply nor to rebel. I am myself alone, and to me alone do I owe any kind of consistency.  I take in account the opinions of those I love, but that’s because I love them.

I will not be a Marxist just because I happen to have a vagina.  (That is not where my brain is.) Nor do I feel the need to be promiscuous to prove I’m free.  That’s just another type of shackle. (Or as Pratchett put it in Good Omens, it’s just like the homemaking magazines, just a different spin.) I don’t speak as a woman, read as a woman or… okay, I write as a woman, but that’s neurological, not intentional.  I.e. my writing tends to be heavy with relationships, (not romance, in my case, mostly) which is a hallmark of female writing. In my defense I do try and work really hard at having action in there too.

And I will not consider my life over because my work “as a woman” is done.

Which is kind of interesting for that detached being behind my eyes, who observes me experiencing things.  What I mean is, I have no role model for this.

Part of it is that life expectancy has gotten longer.  (For some reason there is a determined campaign mostly from the left against this idea, but guys, I grew up in the village.  People in their sixties were OLD.) Part of it is that the type of jobs we do is different form the mostly physical ones in the village. Part of it is we have fewer kids.

I remember in the village when the kids moved out you basically shuttered yourself in and concentrated on being old an preparing to die.  Church became a major component of your life.  You gave up on interests and activities and turned inward.

My parents didn’t do that — well, not as much — but I wasn’t there to see it.

The model inside my head is that my life should be over now, which is what I’ve been fighting for a year plus.

But it’s nonsense. And I’d just get bored with that program.

I think I’ll just continue being myself as hard as I can.

Who I will be and where it will lead, I have no idea. But it will probably be interesting. Perhaps under “may you live in interesting times” even.

All I know is that this delicate flower of femininity (with the spikes and the poisonous pollen) is finally ready to figure out what comes next.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tribe and Trap

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Tribalism seems to be the default setting of the human race.

Maybe it’s because we’re built on the frame of Great (or at least pretty good) Apes. Band seems to be the default unit of a Great Ape.

The people who do those cute and vapid studies on how your toddler is racist — by which they mean he prefers people who look like mommy and daddy, or their surrogates in his life —  don’t seem to understand that.  They don’t seem to understand that for most of human existence, (prehistory is much longer than history) for a toddler to stray outside his tribe meant at best he was raised as a slave, and at worst he became lunch.

I wonder if it’s this uncritical, sort of history-and-genetics free view of the world that causes the left to think that tribes are awesome.

Might just be their usual — and honestly, isn’t it tiresome by now? — view of the world which thinks everything “natural” by which they mean pre-civilized is better. This leads to nostalgie de la boue and therefore elevates primitive/non civilized cultures over western culture.

Or perhaps it is simply the fact that Marxism was “rescued” by Gramsci.  Marxism was bad enough in its inability to see individuals, and ascribing everyone to economic tribes.

I remember when we were studying Marxism in four courses in 9th grade a left leaning friend (she wanted to believe) trying to fit Marx’s view of working class and capitalists into our own peculiar (village) situation. She was bound and determined to make my parents part of the capitalist class, and her own family part of the working class, because only this — in her mind — made sense of the fact I kept poking holes in St. Marx’s theories, and mocking them after class.

The problem was, of course, that her family was considerably better off than mine, both our fathers worked in factories in a supervisory capacity, and generally, really, there was not much difference between one or the other of us by Marxist “class” markers.  (Except my mom had started life as a manual worker, which I don’t think her mom had. OTOH my mom owned her means of production which consisted of a pair of scissors, needles and pins.)  She tried to pin it on my parents being more educated.  But no.  It was more or less the same.

And then in a flash of brilliance that would anticipate things my kids ran into in school when they pointed out to someone their “privilege” consisted of dressing from thrift stores and making everything from scratch because it’s cheaper: she told me my parents were part of the “oppressor class” because they read, studied and learned things all the time and our house was crammed with books.  It’s that famous book-privilege.

This explained to her satisfaction why I kept poking holes in Marxism, and, look you, she wasn’t necessarily wrong.  Growing up with a father who was an ancient history geek; being aware of the exploits of Catalina, and reading deeply into history myself did shape my mocking disdain for the theories of the little angry man who lived at the expense of friends and hatched one of the most murderous theories of history.

This didn’t change the fact that Marxism at best sits crosswise on the real world and misses any contact.  Or that its predictive capacities are as good as those of our climate-predicting computers.

He knew in his heart of hearts that the workers would rise up and kill everyone else and take the means of production, and after a suitable underpants gnome break, paradise would ensue.

Only, of course, as anyone who understood the developments already taking place in his time could have told, the workers — except where manipulated by intellectuals attached to his crazy theories, and even then it was mostly intellectuals and psychopaths, not workers — became wealthier, lived better, and generally didn’t want anything to do with Marx’s revenge fantasies on people who did better than him.

Enter Antonio Gramsci who rescued Marxism from its self made ash heap by claiming by “workers” really Marx meant the dispossessed races of the world.  (And by race, you should understand what Europeans do:each country a race.)

The revolution would surely come, only from the third world.

Part of this is what fuels our intellectual idiots’ “suicide by open borders.” They don’t believe they have the right to stand in the way of the dispossessed masses claiming “their own” (why it’s their own, only the gods know, but remember these are people who believe wealth can’t be created, only passed along like some game of hide the badger. So if we live better than the third world, self-evidently we’re holding their wealth. Which btw, is one of the worst forms of colonialism. Teaching this Marxist twaddle to people in backward economies just assures they continue backward, desperately poor, and resentful of the man who is hiding the stash.); they think that the dispossessed always win in the end, because that’s their comic-book understanding of Marx; they are craven cowards and wish to tell the nice dog they’re helpful and wish to be eaten last.

Anyway, back to our point: one of the great advances of humanity, possibly as momentous as the discovery of fire, was the overcoming of tribalism.

Forging tribe-like bonds based on “we share this land” and in fact, being able to tell ourselves stories about how “everyone in this land is one people” gave rise to the city state, the country, and eventually the “community of civilized men.”

Of course, yes, Christianity had a lot to do with this, but there was some of that going on already in the Roman Empire, where Persian and Greek could both declare (after the appropriate formalities and acculturation) “Civis Romanum sum.”

As bad as the super-states of the twentieth century got — because there’s nothing as a large nation with a good dose of crazy-making philosophical theory — it allowed commerce and industry, which are miles and miles better at creating and keeping wealth than hunting-gathering.

The problem is that the left, led by Gramsci, has re-invented tribalism.  And no, I don’t just mean tribalism of place of origin or color — though they include that — I mean tribalism of EVERYTHING.

Being unable to see individuals (has anyone done studies of their brain? Maybe there’s something missing) they instead keep sorting people into increasingly smaller groups based on things that have bloody nothing to do with what the person IS capable of, or thinks or believes: Color, who people sleep with, what people have between their legs, who people like to sleep with, what people call their deity, etc. etc. ad very definitely nauseum.

Then they itemize these groups according to oppression — because Marx says that workers are oppressed, and Gramsci says people who tan are oppressed and — waves hands — everyone who has ever been looked at sideways is oppressed! — and call it intersectionalism.  Which I suppose is better than “bloody mentally deficient recreation of tribalism by the pampered children of western civilization.”

The problem is this is that we’re fast re-discovering the evils of tribalism.

Sure, tribablism gives you a warm fuzzy.  It cues in to very deep instincts that make you feel safe, when you identify a group as being “just like me.”  It’s that whole toddlers aren’t racist, but leftists are stupid studies thing.

But the warm fuzzy it gives you is like the feeling of sitting by a warm fire in your living room, while a storm hammers at the room.  “You’re safe and warm HERE.”  “You’re safe and warm inside.” “You’re safe and warm as long as you don’t leave.”

The end result is not just the proliferation of “safe rooms” but people panicking and feeling unsafe when they read things that question their beliefs.  Such as their beliefs that, say half-Chinese-half-Japanese left handers are uniquely oppressed and should have everything made nice and easy for them.  It is an actual and real feeling of panic.  I’ve seen people experience this and it isn’t pretty.

Heck, even the larger of tribe of intersectionalist leftists experiences this when their beliefs are disputed.

It’s irrational, it’s back brain, and it’s genuine and insane panic. People suffer from this.  (Which is why they think our speech is violence.) Because at some level they know that if they listen to us, understand us, question their fundamental beliefs, they’ll stop being part of the ideological tribe. Which means being ejected from “one eyed feminists with a lisp” land. It means being alone and defenseless, which is a very old fear of humanity and of humans, individually, too.

This explains why people feel so threatened by the — handy, but not earth shattering — ideas of Jordan Peterson, say, to the point of breaking into an auditorium where he’s speaking carrying a noose.  (This is because most of these misguided and pampered children think in cartoons.  I suspect she expected him to not only have no defenders, but stay very still while she throttled him.  It’s insane. When you let your back brain do the driving, you’re not going to come across as very smart.)

The other side effect of this is that everyone who isn’t a member of the tribe is potentially the enemy.  This is what leads to the internecine fights within the left, and why if they should win (forbid) we’ll be stuck in civil war after civil war forever. Adapting the Arab proverb: Me and my Marxist classmates against the world; Me and my black Marxist classmates against our white Marxist classmates; Me and my black Marxist female classmates against our black Marxist male classmates; Me and my black lesbian Marxist female classmates against our black straight Marxist female classmates… and so on ad infinitum, until the tribe of one is at war with everyone else, and worse stuck in a pit of anger and resentment because he/she isn’t given all the recognition and compensation he/she should have from the rest of the world at large.

At the same time anyone outside it is viewed as less than human.  This is why they think they can tell everyone to shut up because “white privilege” or “male privilege” or whatever, and they honestly think there will be no resistance and no back lash.

Which is why Trump’s victory surprised and scared them so much. I mean arguably it should scare them. They continue with their policies of suppression and deplatforming and they’ll get FAR WORSE than Trump (who is not bad, particularly in terms of the economy.)

They are thinking in tribal terms, you know?  “We win, the other tribe disappears.”

The back brain knows very well how the other tribe disappears. History is littered with the gnawed bones of defeated enemies.

But the neo-barbs have no clue. Not a one. They think we just “shut up” and, as someone who is — delightfully — only five years younger than I told our side in the SF/F wars (and keep in mind I’m one of the oldest of that group. I’m old enough to have babysat my friends, if we’d all been in the same neighborhood) that we were old and “should just die.”

Because the future is Marxist and tribal and whatever the hell these perpetual babies have been told.

Only it’s not. It can’t be. Because tribalism isn’t the future. It’s the deep past.  The past of caves and eternal war, and famines, and pestilence, and piles and piles of dead babies.

We can’t let it win.  We must go into the culture and rescue it from this trap.  We must pluck the neo-barbs from their panicky-irrational-self-defense.

We must, once more, rebuild civilization where men and women of good will can communicate, trade, marry and be given in marriage as members of humanity which we all are.

In the end we win, they lose, because we are the future and they’re the deep past and a dead end. One that can’t go forward and is killing the human race.

Here’s your torch. Go into the deep dark and bring our brothers and sisters forth. Eventually they’ll get used to the light and stop clenching their eyes shut.

Be not afraid.

St. Patrick, All American Saint

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Sometimes the left is so predictable, it makes your teeth ache.

Okay then. It makes my teeth ache.

You see, some special critters last week were complaining about how celebrating Saint Patrick is cultural appropriation.

We’ll leave aside, for the time being, the fact that I’m not exactly sure who we’d be appropriating St. Patrick from.  I mean, sure, he’s a Catholic saint, celebrated by … well, pretty much everyone in America, Catholic or not, Irish or not.

He is, I presume, celebrated in Ireland too, but from what I heard it’s a more subdued celebration, a religious one and certainly having nothing to do with pinching people for not wearing green and/or green beer.

The problem with the left is that they don’t understand America.  Yes,  I’m sure a lot of them were born and raised here, and the fact they understand America so poorly is the worst indictment of American education I’ve ever seen.

Because St. Patrick, as he’s celebrated is not cultural appropriation.  He is an American Saint, in the sense we celebrate him, as much as a Catholic saint.

To understand this we need to go back to the history of Irish immigrants in America.

Even I – and on one side my husband is a third generation Irish Immigrant (on the paternal side on that side his ancestors go all the way to the revolution.  The other side is oh, German, Scottish, Amerindian. In other words, my husband is also all American) – hadn’t fully grasped how bad things were for Irish immigrants in the beginning.  I hadn’t fully grasped it until I was reading a history of Cleveland (I was an exchange student to Stow, Ohio) and found out that the procedure of the police when investigating any crimes in the early 20th century was “Find all the micks and the Italians, and interrogate them till they give up the culprit.”

The thing is, as my husband noted when I told him this “that it wasn’t wrong most of the time.”  And, yeah, he’s right. At the turn of the century some of the criminals in these communities had histories that read like a demon’s resume.

But the Irish integrated. They worked, they  worked at being American. They taught their kids to be American.

Oh, but they still celebrated St. Paddy.  And St. Paddy became a point of pride.  And the t-shirts with “Kiss me, I’m Irish” came out.  Till eventually everyone wanted to join in the fun (and, let’s face it – hoists her bottle of stout in the general direction of the screen – the beer.) And because by then the Irish had become Americans, they said “Sure, why not? Everyone can celebrate St. Paddy’s with us. Everyone is Irish for a day.”

This was something totally alien to Europeans.  When my – second generation Irish immigrant — history teacher during my exchange student year asked me what I was doing for St. Patrick’s, I told him I wasn’t Irish. He told me I looked like an Irish lass to him.  (For the rest of the year he referred to me as his Irish lass and kept asking people if I didn’t look Irish to them. Turns out he wasn’t completely wrong. According to genetic report, there’s some Irish in there.  Actually there’s some of almost everything. No wonder I like America.)  And dang it, for St. Patrick’s day, the entire school (mostly German and Polish, judging by both looks and last names) was Irish.  They wore shamrocks, and they dressed in green and they wished everyone a happy St. Patrick’s.  It was in fact the most American thing ever.

Because we Americans are about nothing if not cultural appropriation.

We take what’s best about each group of incoming immigrants, and we shamelessly make it ours.

And groups like the Irish, once reviled and marginalized become central parts of the American story.

You know what’s needed for it, though? That they give up their tribalism.  Which to be fair most Irishmen, and even most Italians have.  Sure. They will still be very proud of their heritage, but when their kids marry outside it, they just pretend  to think that there’s a bit of their heritage in the new spouse.

One of my school friends, who is – almost certainly – pure German, has become an Italian mom by this magic.  And that’s fine, though it’s only in America.

I was thinking about this, when I read this article in the Atlantic.  If you don’t want to lose brain cells by reading it, the gist of it is that Talar Ansari, probably second generation immigrant from some Arab country or other, looked at the shootings in New Zealand, and is sure that the “White Supremacists” are going to get him. And that white supremacists are a far greater terrorist threat than Islamic radicals.

(Will someone get my eyes? They rolled all the way under the sofa.)
Honestly… where to begin? Are there white supremacists in America? Sure. There’s 300 million of us.  There’s people who believe all kinds of crazy things.

Are Muslims in danger of white supremacists?
Well, except for a minority of them, Muslims are white (and most Arab countries were allied with Hitler, btw.)  They’re as white as I am (Latin is a cultural subgroup, not a racial one, though everyone forgets that.)  We’re a member of the Mediterranean sub-race of the Caucasian race.

The prejudice against new immigrants has bloody nothing to do with race. See the prejudice against Irish and Italians.

And, note that I said above, some of it is logical and justified. Marginalized communities often harbor in their midst less than savory elements. Because those hide where people band together for tribal comfort. (See the science fiction fand-and-writer community and pedophiles.) Because users use people. And entire groups of people.

The problem I had with Talal Ansari’s view is that it was entirely tribal and entirely one-sided.  He sees all these threats (real and imaginary. Look, if there were white supremacists under every rock in America it would have saved Jussie Smollet a lot of trouble.) against his people, his tribe, his community. He sees “islamophobia” everywhere.
But he doesn’t note when someone of his religion spreads anti-semitic  “Jewish banker” conspiracies in the house of representatives.  And he’s apparently blind to the very real reason that Americans have to fear Islamic terrorism.

To explain it to the blinkered Mr. Ansari: because people who claim to be of your religion want to kill us for being American. That was the crime of those who died in 9/11, and the ones who died in the Boston Marathon, and of those who have avoided death only because the would-be terrorists were caught in time.

Is it unfair that people – yeah, even me – cringe at a group speaking in Arabic in a public place?  Sure it is.

It was also unfair that the way to investigate crimes in Cleveland at one time was “round up all the Micks and the Eyetalians.”

Was it permanent? Nope. Those people tried to be as American as they could, and, yes, called out their own bad elements, instead of talking about how oppressed their tribe was and holding on to their tribal specialness.

They went forth and raised their kids to be American, and married other brands of American, and shared the good things in their culture – food and drink, mostly. It’s always food and drink, but also devotion to family – while forgetting the ancestral hatreds of the places they’d left behind.

And eventually everyone became Irish for a day. And everyone  faced with a vast quantity of pasta gestures encouragingly and says “Mangia, mangia.”

Because they’re American, the culture that takes the best of every culture in the world and forgets the worst, the evil things, the ancestral hatreds back there.

What Mr. Ansari needs is a shamrock. We won’t push the beer, if he’s keeping to his religion’s prohibitions on alcohol (Remember, Irish and Italians were also once a religious minority.) Saying top o’ the morning wouldn’t hurt either.  Nor would wishing everyone a happy St. Patrick’s day. Or saying that for a day he’s descended from the O’Ansara’s.

Because Americans will accept anyone who makes an effort. (And, yes, steal their best recipes. Sorry, it’s who we are. It’s what we do.)

You’re in America now. You can hold on to all the crazy that made the place you or your ancestors came from a place to leave.

Or you can remember you’re an American first and say it with us “That Ilhan Omar. She’s such an idiot anti-semite.”

Then wish a Happy St. Patrick day to your Jewish co-worker, wear a shirt that says “kiss me, I’m Irish” and have a good time.
Top o’ the morning to you! Welcome to America.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and The St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Book Promo

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The St. Patrick’s Day Sunday Book Promo (just pretend all the covers are green!)

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com.  One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

FROM BLAKE SMITH: Hartington Abroad (Hartington Series Book 2)

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Jeriah Hartington is far from home. Born into a wealthy family, he is now reduced to poverty. In desperation, he signs on to a ship headed for the planet XKF-36. Their mission? To search for colonists who’ve been lost nearly as long as Jeriah has been alive.

Jeriah fully anticipates an adventure as they travel into the unknown wilderness. He never expected to find living people, eager to tell the tale of their sufferings. But their hair-raising account could be the downfall of everyone on the planet, even their rescuers. For a villain lurks within the ship’s crew, and no one can say who he might be.

EDITED BY JOHN RINGO AND GARY POOLE (AND DAVE FREER AND I HAVE NOVELLA-LENGTH STORIES IN THIS):  Voices of the Fall (Black Tide Rising)

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ORIGINAL STORIES SET IN JOHN RINGO’S BEST-SELLING BLACK TIDE RISING SERIES. The zombie apocalypse is here in these all-new stories from John Ringo, Sarah A. Hoyt, Michael Z. Williamson, Jody Lynn Nye, Travis S. Taylor, and many more. Sequel to the best-selling anthology Black Tide Rising.

Civilization had fallen. Everyone who survived the plague lived through the Fall, that terrible autumn when life as they had known it ended in blood and chaos.

Nuclear attack submarines facing sudden and unimaginable crises. Paid hunters on a remote island suddenly cut off from any hope of support. Elite assassins. Never-made-it retirees. Bong-toting former soldiers. There were seven and a half billion stories of pain and suffering, courage, hope and struggle crying out from history: Remember us.

These are their stories. These are the Voices of the Fall.

FROM ROY M. GRIFFIS:  By the Hands of Men, Book One: The Old World.

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A soldier fights for his soul in the trenches of France.  A field hospital nurse battles death every day.  Are duty and honor enough of a reason to go on in the hell of a world at war?

A mere mile from the blood-drenched front lines, Russian refugee and nurse Charlotte Braninov encounters English Lieutenant Robert Fitzgerald, who helps her save the life of another soldier.  Robert’s calm, courtly manner lingers in Charlotte’s mind, a comforting memory amid the deluge of suffering that surrounds her when she returns to the hospital.

Wounded during an unauthorized mission of mercy, Robert Fitzgerald finds himself demoted to a Medical Supply Officer, where he once more meets the brave young Russian nurse.  When Charlotte volunteers to help the Lieutenant learn about his duties in this new life of service, a quiet friendship blooms and love grows in that harshest of soils, even as the war rages on.  But human cruelty and endemic disease claw at their lives.  Can love survive in a world torn by warfare, greed, and deception?

The Old World, a novel that readers are calling “deeply moving,” “stunning,” and “magnificent,” is the first volume of the By the Hands of Men series.  Epic historical fiction by Roy M. Griffis, the saga sweeps across four continents in a gripping tale of fate, loss, redemption, and love.

A truly remarkable historical novel– so finely rendered in period detail – that the reader becomes one with the plot and characters. – RICK FRIEDMAN, FOUNDER, THE JAMES MASON COMMUNITY BOOK CLUB

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Sunday Book Promo

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: obsolete.

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