The End of TSAR, er Lenin (The State and Revolution, Pt. 5)

dead leninThe End of TSAR, er Lenin

(The State and Revolution, Pt. 5)

We’ve come to the end of Lenin’s The State and Revolution. I wish I could say it’s been fun but, well, nope. Can’t say it and won’t say it. However, it has been necessary. As we’ve seen, so much of what good ole Vladimir said back in 1917 has become political dogma. No, not in Russia or Europe (although it has) but here. It slowly crept in over the years but, if you look at the 2016 presidential campaign, it is there front and center. We heard major candidates talking about redistribution of wealth. We heard the calls for the oppressed to rise up against their oppressors. There was more but it’s too early and I haven’t had enough coffee to be able to rehash them without feeling sick – and very, very angry.

There is one good thing, if you can call it that, to what we heard in the last election. Those candidates spouting Lenin at us are the types of socialists he hated. They are the type he condemned in the last full chapter of TSAR: the ones who cherry-picked portions of Marx and Engels and talked the talk but didn’t walk the walk. (Not that he necessarily did either, but he was different. He was the only one who knew what Marx and Engels meant and he was the first to tell you.)

He’d have lined Bernie up with all the bourgeois because Sanders wasn’t advocating the violent overthrow of the government. He’d have laughed at Clinton for being inept and nothing more than the bourgeois she condemned. The very fact they are part of the government he knew had to be violently destroyed would have painted a huge target on their backs in his eyes.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t undo the damage they, and those like them, have done with their rhetoric. They spout all these ideas that appear so wonderful in sound bite but that are, in reality, untenable and a foundation of socialist philosophy (universal healthcare, free college education for all, etc.) I know very few people who won’t admit the healthcare industry needs major reform and who wouldn’t like medical care to be affordable for all. However, putting it in the hands of the government – which universal healthcare eventually does – is a very bad idea because it will eventually put healthcare decisions in the hands of politicians. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my treatment being approved or disapproved based on what the national budget needs might be.

It is the same with education. When we start relying totally on the government for not just our primary education but for college education as well, we give the government our tacit agreement to let it tell us what we should study and what our career field should be. All those homeschoolers would get to say goodbye to their education preference. We would all be using government resources and following the government line. Nope, not something I want for my kids or grandkids. How about you?

But, whether Bernie and company are what Lenin would have called true socialists or not, they have learned from the “master”. Lenin knew what to say to not only agitate the masses but to connect with them. He recognized their concerns and played on them. Obama was a master at doing the same thing. Bernie, for some reason, was as well in the last election cycle – at least when it came to young voters and those not yet able to vote. What the liberals didn’t expect was for Trump to be able to do so as well. He simply spoke to a different part of the populace.

So, this last chapter of TSAR is Lenin’s condemnation of several well-known socialists of his time. As he’d done previously in TSAR, he took their words and then interpreted, twisted and mangled them to fit his own narrative. Specifically, pointing out how they had sold out Marx and Engels and weren’t real socialists and that, under their plans, socialism and then communism would never occur. In other words, he was setting himself up as the lone voice of not just knowledge but power when it came to socialism/communism.

He phrased it in terms of the “question of the relation of both the state to the social revolution and the social revolution to the state, like the question of revolution generally, engaged the minds of the leading theoreticians and publicists of the Second International (1889– 1914) very little.” (TSAR, p. 93) He accused them of actually evading the question or, worse, failing to notice the question. This, he wrote, led to “an evasiveness which worked to the advantage of opportunism and fostered it – resulted in a distortion of Marxism and in its complete vulgarization.” (TSAR, p. 93)

What follows are several pages of carefully chosen quotes from the so-called offending interpretations of Marx and Engels. Then Lenin jumps in with his interpretation and condemnation. “Marx, as we have seen, meant that the working class must smash, break or shatter (Sprengung, explosion, being the expression used by Engels) the entire state machine.” (TSAR, p. 96) This declaration by Lenin is based on his interpretation that others believed the socialist revolution could be successful without an “excessive revolutionary zeal when seizing power.” According to Lenin, “[a] cruder and more hideous distortion of Marx’s idea is inconceivable.” (TSAR, p. 96)

So, we’re back to his Lenin-Hulk smash, grab power! Ideology.

“The point is not about opposition or about political struggle in general but revolution.” (TSAR, p. 104) In other words, political opposition or struggle, the use of the existing political system to gain your objectives is no longer enough. In fact, according to Lenin, it won’t work. The political system – and remember, that also includes our infrastructure and corporate structure – must be overthrown and those in power must be destroyed. Don’t forget how he spent the majority of TSAR discussing how the proletariat revolution would become the proletariat dictatorship until all opposition was destroyed. Only once everyone walked and thought in lockstep with the leadership could the socialist revolution continue toward first true socialism and then communism.

“Revolution consists in the proletariat destroying the ‘apparatus of administration’ and the whole state machine, replacing it with a new one consisting of the armed workers.”(TSAR, p. 104)

The whole state machine.

Think about that. As much as we sometimes rail against our government, or aspects of it, this is all-inclusive. We’re not just talking about on the federal level but all the way down to the local level. Note also how Lenin never really answers how the gaps that occur will be filled. I’m not so much worried about in the government. There will always be politicians, even if they are good little socialists (looks in Bernie’s direction). But what about in the corporate world? Despite everything Lenin says about the workers coming together to run their factories, we know how well that went over, don’t we? The worker on the floor doesn’t know how to run the shipping department or inventory or do the books. So, managers are needed but where are they to come from?

The answer’s simple and one Lenin didn’t want anyone looking too closely at. They came from the new oppressing class and their sole job was to oppress everyone – bourgeois or proletariat alike, anyone who didn’t produce at the proper level and who didn’t believe in the correct way.

Revolution consists in the proletariat destroying the ‘apparatus of administration’ and the whole state machine, replacing it with a new one consisting of the armed workers. (TSAR, p. 104)

If that statement alone doesn’t bring you up short and make you think twice about how wonderful socialism sounds, it should. A true “people’s state” wouldn’t require armed workers. It would be cooperative. It would be supportive. It would NOT be oppressive. Yet that is exactly what Lenin says it will be, at least to begin. Note, too, he initially says this beginning phase is a passing one and then, as TSAR progresses, he hedges and hedges even more about how long it will take. Look at history to see it is such a slow progression from armed revolution to proletariat dictatorship to socialist society that 100 years wasn’t enough to move out of the dictatorship phase. In fact, if possible, we are seeing that phase entrenching itself as if it doesn’t want to erode into a true socialistic state.

Gee, who would have thought? (Yes, sarcasm is high here.)

Revolution consists not in the new class commanding and governing with the aid of the old state machine but in its smashing this machine and commanding and governing with the aid of a new machine. (TSAR, p. 104)

So, rise up, brothers and sisters, listen to my promises. Just don’t look too closely when my armed forces place their boots on your necks after you’ve helped us overthrow the government. Trust us, brothers and sisters, you’ll learn to love it. It is for your own good. I promise. Some day – possibly in a far away galaxy – the true socialist state will evolve and you will have been the first step toward it. Honor your role and listen to your betters. We are one, brothers and sisters, but some of us are more equal than others. Bow down to the new state and apparatchik. I – we – know what is best, comrades.


But we shall move on to a break with these traitors to socialism and shall fight for the complete destruction of the old state machine in order that the armed proletariat itself should become the government. (TSAR, p. 107)

Wait, what? The proletariat becomes the government? So, he confirms one class replaces the other as the ruler. Hmmm.

This isn’t new. He’s been saying this throughout the book. However, he usually didn’t say it quite as openly or without a great deal of lawyer double-speak. It is a reminder that this book was never meant to be a handbook for the average person and especially not the average Russian in 1917. Think about how those without college educations would have reacted if Lenin spoke this plainly when stirring them into revolutionary fervor. The faults in his plan, in his view, would have been much easier to spot. Would it have stopped what had already started – and the revolution had been coming for decades – probably not. But it might have altered some of what happened in late 1917 and early 1918 when it comes to the Russian/Soviet governments.

But we shall move on to a break with the opportunists; and the entire conscious proletariat will be with us in the fight not for a ‘shifting of the relation of forces’ but for the overthrow of the bourgeoisie, for the destruction of bourgeois parliamentarianism, for a democratic republic after the type of the Commune or a republic of Soviets of Workers’ and Soldiers’ Deputies, for the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat. (TSAR, p. 108)

“Conscious proletariat”, “democratic republic” and “the revolutionary dictatorship of the proletariat”. Riiight.

What part of “dictatorship” is hard to believe? And what part of human nature not wanting to give up power is so hard to understand?

This is why it is so important we, as conservatives and as libertarians, understand what Lenin and others promoting socialism and communism wrote and what they meant. We have to have a knowledge of history and an understanding of why things happened. We have to be able to not only discuss our beliefs but be able to point to source material to show the fallacies in our opposition’s point of view. If we don’t, we have zero chance of convincing them they need to rethink their position.

Note, I’m not saying we have to go in and tell them they are wrong. That is the surest way of getting them to dig their heels in and refuse to consider anything we say. No, we have to take a page out of Lenin’s book and convince them. That starts with them looking at their position and possibly recognizing there are weaknesses to it. We point out alternatives. We show them current or historical trends that undermine their points. In short, we avoid the knee-jerk reaction and we force them to do the one thing they haven’t been doing – think.

We have a perfect opportunity to do so right now. The Bernites of the world want us to sink into socialism because they feel it is the perfect world. We’d all be beautiful and equal and sit around the fire and sing Kumbaya while manna falls from the sky because none of us would know how to operate the factories or plow the fields, etc. Yet, they avoid looking at the reality of what socialism and communism have done to those countries that have “embraced” it.

For those with any memory or knowledge of the Cold War, the Soviet Union was the great evil. Even if Stalin was long in his grave by the time we entered school, the threat of the Soviet Union was very real. The media today paints Russia as the greatest threat to our nation after our president. How often have we heard Putin – another Vladimir (maybe it’s something about the name. Think about it. Vlad the Impaler, Vladimir Lenin, Vladimir Putin) is doing everything he can to corrupt our elections, etc? (And nothing about how Obama tried the same with one of our own allies.) Yet, that same media and those politicians advocate the socialist principles Putin represents.

But be prepared. The other side will say Putin isn’t a true socialist/communist. Then they’ll point out they want the “good parts” of socialism but not the bad. They want universal healthcare and government paid education. But they have no clue how to pay for these – or what the potential consequences of them are. They will tell you with one breath they want less government and then, in the next, they are willing to turn their health and education over to Big Brother.

So, ask the hard questions but have your own answers – and facts – ready. Hit them in the face with not only the reality of where socialism and communism are in today’s world when it comes to that “withering away” of the state. Make them think about what their heroes – Lenin, Marx and Engels, among others – actually said. Don’t argue and don’t make them dig their heels in. Remember, these folks are the ones who want safe spaces and who don’t understand the concept of consequences. We have to educate them and, even if we fail where they are concerned, we have our children and grandchildren to worry about. We educate them and we give them the best weapon of all – the ability to think for themselves and recognize bull shit when they see or hear it.

Lenin was, if nothing else, a master manipulator. But he was one in the right place at the right time, at least for his own purposes. Our challenge today is not that we will face another Lenin, especially not here in the US. It is that the socialist ideas have been slowly infiltrating our government for years. Our job – our duty – is to recognize them, stop the slide and repair the damage to our country. I’m willing and ready to take up the challenge. Are you?

[For raising the tone of this blog — ATH is culture! — and helping me with the exposing of the roots of the current mess — in her case with more facts! — if you decide to  send the woman a drink–  And her Amazon author page is here -SAH]

Your Most Basic Right


Your most basic right is the ability to defend yourself.  The ability in fact, to preserve your life.

Every animal fights to preserve itself.  And every human does too, whether it’s legal or illegal.

Any society that violates that right is prioritizing savagery over civilization, and lawlessness over law.

Why?  Because criminals don’t obey the law.  So while it’s illegal to attack you, the criminal will still do it, and if you don’t have the right to defend yourself (as is true in many places in Europe) then you’re devolving to the criminals having power of life and death over law abiding citizens.  This is a recipe for the law to become dead letter and for everyone ignoring it.

I know this is not the reason that the founders gave us the second amendment.  Or it mostly isn’t. So much of the Constitution is defined as “protecting yourself from the government” and of course, that’s just one form of protecting yourself from the government.  The horror-regimes of the 20th century would have fared very differently with an armed populace.  Which is why the first act of any would be tyrant is to grab the guns.

So, you say, what do we do about things like school shootings?  You already know what you do.  Mostly, you stop warehousing kids all together like sitting ducks.  Also, persecuting violent people who are known wolves would help.

But how do we prevent them?

Well, preventing them is much to ask for.  Kind of like the idiot women who want to make sure there is never rape.  Men can’t make sure one man somewhere isn’t a wrongun.  They’re not a hive entity.  In the same way, even the best police force in the world can’t make sure there are no crazy people who want to shoot up schools.

This is particularly difficult if you include in it gang warfare that happens to take place in schools.

So, if you can’t prevent school shootings, how can you prevent their being mass shootings with a lot of casualties?

There’s only one way. Let people defend themselves.  Sure you might not want to arm every student, because teen hormones and stuff…. but then again, if everyone is armed, what is the payoff in a shooting?  You’ll just get nailed by your classmates.  Sure, some people will do that, to kill the ex boyfriend/girlfriend, but you know… that would happen anyway, by poison or bomb, or whatever, if they’re that determined to die for it.  The fact that they would DIE for it will deter any number of them. Even teens have a self-preservation instinct.

“But then people will just shoot at each other every day.”  Yeah, I know the left will say that.  That’s because the left has never met an actual, living human being.  They’ve met human beings that live ONLY in their own heads.  Hence trying to tell #yesallmen they’re responsible for every single crazy person who happens to have a penis, as though they could somehow send out penis-mind-rays and control every male on the planet.  Or you know, the charming idea that if there only are some more laws, people will stop committing violence.  Because, you know, we’ve had laws against murder since… ever… and that’s why there is none.

No, of course, people wouldn’t just shoot each other every day over minor stuff.  That has never happened in any armed group, or even in shall issue states.  This, btw, is a big problem with your movies, leftists, when people get a gun and just can’t help shooting people left and right, like it’s some kid of magical weapon.

A gun is a tool.  You can kill people with a dozen different tools.  I can kill you with a shoe, my handbag, or the handle to my office door.

A gun just makes it easier.  At least if you see clearly more than about two feet away.

Because it makes killing easier, criminals and psychopaths will have it.  They will have guns, regardless of what the law says.

The only people who believe that the way to prevent violence is to disarm the law abiding people and leave them at the mercy of psychopaths are children and idiots.  The ones using this to disarm the populace are neither, but would-be totalitarians like the disgusting Soros who is a Nazi collaborator and quite literally a race traitor. (The left caviled at Pope Benedict having belonged to the more or less obligatory Hitler’s Youth, but they’re okay with Soros selling out innocent Jews for a cut of their fortune.  Go figure.  It’s almost like they have no moral compass, and only standards of convenience.)

I’m not about to let a coalition of would-be totalitarians chomping at the bit to repeat Stalin’s body count, and the idiots who think if only there’s laws against it, it will never happen, strip me of my natural right to self-defense.

You can’t force people to stop defending themselves.  The most you can do is destroy the rule of law.  So you can stop the histrionics.  We’re onto you.  And you cannot have us this time.

If you get rid of the rule of law, I doubt it will go the way you expect, either.  So whether you’re an idiot or a would be Stalin, ask yourself what you’re likely to get from this nonsense.

It’s not what you expect.  We have had enough.  You got to make the 20th century a vast grave.  You’ll have no more from us.

You shall not pass.

Standards by Michael Hooten


Standards  by Michael Hooten

In my day job, I’m a test engineer.  Specifically, I create electronics to test other electronics.  At work recently, I have had an ongoing… debate.  Yes, I think debate is the right word.  Because my boss told me to look at a test and think of some ways to improve it.  And my initial response was, this is a horrible test, and you need to rethink it entirely.

That was not the answer he wanted, of course, but he’s a good boss, and an engineer, so he asked me to explain.  Without getting technical, the short answer is: you are using the system to test the system.

From a test engineering standpoint, this is not only wrong, it invalidates the test.  You cannot verify that a component works by saying that it works in the system, because the next question is usually, how do you know the system works?  And the answer is, because it works with components we previously tested.  With the system.

There are several reasons why this is a dangerous way to approach testing.  First, you have no outside verification.  There is no external standard that you can point to and say, “When I test it this way, I get the same results as when I test in the system.”

But you also have the issue of verifying something is good because it hasn’t really failed yet.  Not enough to notice.  Oh, sure, the whole process may have drifted over time, but it still works, right?  We just want to verify it works.

Now imagine your customer starts complaining that their system isn’t working correctly.  You bring in the defective device, and you test it against your own system, and it works fine.  How do you determine where the fault lies?  What authority do you appeal to?  Your system works.  Theirs doesn’t.  But you are also saying the systems are the same, because they were tested in the same way.

This is circular logic.  I prove that x=y because y=x.  The sky is blue because blue is what we call the color of the sky.  It doesn’t tell me anything in the end.

The product manager said, “Well, we’re doing a qualitative analysis, not a quantitative one.”  And that’s fine, but you still haven’t shown me how you determine your quality.  What is your standard?

So what does this have to do with anything?

If you want to know how well something works, you have to tell me how you measure success.  Larry Correia is famous for saying that the only measurement of a book’s success if how many dollars people give you or it.  But we have the whole Hugo debacle claiming that books are measured by the gender/race/sexuality of the authors and the characters.  Who is correct?  They both are, because they’ve set up different standards, and then they test against those standards.

An SJW does not care how well a book does in the market, because that’s not how they determine value. Likewise, Larry doesn’t care about what the authors or characters look like, he just wants to know how many people are buying it.  And it’s not like those are the only ways of looking at it.

But with everyone talking about different things, it makes it very difficult to communicate.  We see it in politics all the time.  “Socialism takes care of the people that fall through the cracks!” And that goes up against, “Socialism causes widespread economic collapse!”

Both can be true, you know.  And we have some proof of both.  But which is the standard you want to use?  Which outcome has more value to you?

We struggle with this question every day.  I see a homeless man begging on the street.  I have a $20 in my pocket.  But I need to put gas in my car, too.  What do I do?  Your answer depends on a lot of things, but no matter how you choose, someone will always say you were wrong.  Because they judged you by their standards, not yours.  And on an individual basis, we agree to disagree, hopefully.

But what if I believe my standards are so important that I will force you to follow them?  Then we get political parties.  Or regulations.  Or marches, riots, and yelling matches disguised as debates.  Again, your standards will determine your response in a lot of ways.

What does it mean for the country?  Well, America was founded on the idea that we could create a system where everyone could follow their conscience, as long as they all agreed to a few simple rules.  We call those rules our constitution, and they are mostly guidelines for the places where you can’t tell people what to do.

You can’t tell someone how to practice their religion, or to follow a religion at all.

You can’t tell people to house soldiers.

You can’t force people to provide evidence against themselves.

And then the tricky ones:

You can’t tell people what they can or cannot say.

You cannot keep people from owning guns.

But what if someone says something you don’t like?  Well, it depends.  How do you respond?  The Constitution forbids you from silencing them.  But you can say whatever you like in return, even if it offends them.  What if they vow to kill you?  Well, you are not allowed to kill someone (not specifically in the Constitution, but still generally accepted), so it starts getting into a gray area.  Depending on where you live, threatening someone can get you anything from jail to a restraining order. A lot of times it depends on how credible someone in authority finds the threat.

And guns?  Well, the Constitution says you can own them.  We have clarified how you can use them.  And legally, you can go through all the hassle of buying pretty much anything you want.  And if you don’t want it legally, for whatever reason, then it doesn’t matter how many laws you pass.  In this case, you test the effectiveness against your standard.  Legally, you may not kill someone with a gun.  Of course, legally, you may not kill someone at all, with a few exceptions.  So what does the gun control laws do, exactly?  Restrict how guns may be purchased legally.  But no one ever expresses gun deaths in terms of deaths per legally owned guns.  Which is the only standard that tells you how effective your gun control laws are, at least for preventing gun related homicide.  Even the guy in Las Vegas, having purchased his guns legally, took them someplace it wasn’t legal to take them.  So even before he fired them into a crowd, he had broken a law.

In a perfect system, you could control all the variables to get the result you wanted.  But life, real life, is a system that has so many variables that you have to figure out if the one little thing you changed had any effect.  But let’s say you want to lose weight, so you change your diet, and let’s assume you stick to it pretty well.  But your weight doesn’t change.  Do you stick with the diet and just keep watching the scale not change?  Or do you try adjusting something else, like your activity level?  It depends.  What is your real goal?  What standard are you testing to?  Because if weight loss is less important than sticking to your diet, you can complain about the former while still feeling that you are succeeding in the latter.

Pick your standard.  Stick to it.  And be willing to admit that what you value, what you test to, is not the same as someone else.  You can both be right, you can both be wrong.  Just be honest about what you really want.  And please express it clearly.

Maybe our first standard should be to agree which dictionary to use.

Monday Promo and Nah King, Nah Queen


Monday Promo

*Note from admin: I have no read these books, I simply collect them and assemble the post.  This is just a way of showing you releases you might not otherwise see. Read the blurb and as always, if not KULL, download a sample. And if you want your book in this showcase, email bookpimping at outlook dot com.

DAVID WELCH:   Tales of the Far Wanderers


To Gunnar of the Tarn life is wandering. A half-breed with no home to return to, he has escaped the endless wars of his father’s people to drift through the vastness of a land once known as North America. Slow to trust and swift with a sword, he had resigned himself to a lonely, itinerant life. That all changes the day he meets Kamith of the Red Horse. The last of her kind, Kamith barely escapes being sacrificed and joins Gunnar in his wanderings. Together, they will try to build some sort of life in a wild and brutal world. Mad priests, crazy fertility rituals, roving slavers, land-hungry kingdoms, desperate sieges, sprawling civil wars, and deranged warriors are only a few of the challenges they’ll face. Their only reward? To survive and live another day by each other’s side.

Inspired by the sword-slinging pulp heroes of old, this story cycle tells the tales of two vagabonds spurned by the world, and forced to fight off it’s madness at every step. But they’re nothing if not tough, and find in each other much to fight for, and to live for…

MACKEY CHANDLER: Neither Here Nor There


This is a stand alone story unrelated to any of my other books or shorts.
So many scientific discoveries have been serendipity rather than a goal to which someone worked as a logical progression. Instead, it was a spill or a misplaced item.
An ingredient measured out in error or from the wrong bottle. Often, a mistake over which someone was bright enough or curious enough to say: “Oops, but that’s interesting, isn’t it?” Uranium ore left next to photo plates, adhesive that wasn’t as permanent as hoped for, but still usefully tacky, or foreign growths in a Petri dish acting strangely…
A major revelation could be a blessing indeed, or if it was big enough to be a life changing development, one might have a tiger by the tail. Wouldn’t that be interesting?

J. M. NEY-GRIMMFate’s Door


Secrets, like troubles, come in threes. When you possess one of either, two more arrive to keep it company.

Nerine, a sea nymph of the ancient world, knows too much about both.

Each morning, in the chill before the sun’s rising, Nerine and the three Fates stand under the mighty branches of the World Tree, gazing into the depths of the root-girdled Well of Destiny, watching the dooms that must come to pass that day.

When the dawn’s visions show Nerine’s lover—shipwrecked and drowning—all her renounced yearning for him rises anew.

Surely, as handmaiden to the Fates themselves, she might tilt the odds to give her beloved a chance.

Somehow—this day, this morning, this time—Nerine must subvert destiny or lose the companion of her heart forever.

Love and coming of age in a mythic Mediterranean where the gods and goddesses of old shape history.



Mt. Hermon, Utah, is the ideal small town—until forces of darkness from deep beneath the mountain lead its people astray.
Sara is the new kid in town — moved with her divorced mother from a wealthy Long Island suburb, her Jewish roots are no help when a relentless angel comes calling. Jared has lived there all his life, and his addiction to online games and porn has his grades tumbling and his Mormon family worried. Together, Jared and Sara fight the battle of their lives against spirits from the Underworld.


“Sophisticated YA (some mild sex, high school setting) Mormon Gothic (with introduction to Mormon history, doctrine, and mythology), paranormal (demons and angels) romance and adventure.”

ALMA BOYKIN: In the Vliets: A Steampunk Adventure.


Hamburg’s half-buried canals, the vliets, hold a secret and a key.

The Prussians conquered Hamburg in 1865, adding the city-state to their new German Empire against the city’s will. Jakob Timmerman fought in that war—as a mage-soldier called Jaeger. Twenty-five years later that war resumes among the waterways and hidden channels of the great port city of Hamburg. Imperial mages and their klankmänner—armored men condemned to half-life for treason or murder—stalk the city.

Jakob accidentally discovers the Imperials’ secret. Now his only hope for safety, and for justice, lies in the vliets among the very men who hate his kind the most.

LAURA MONTGOMERY: Mercenary Calling.


Exoplanets. Terrorists. Lawyers…

Calvin Tondini has his first client, but he may be in over his head.

It’s the twenty-second century. Humanity’s first and only interstellar starship returns safely. Its mission to discover a habitable planet succeeded beyond all hopes, but there’s one problem. Captain Paolina Nigmatullin of the USS Aeneid left an unsanctioned human colony behind and now stands charged with mutiny.

Despite a somewhat spontaneous approach to his own career, life, and limb, Calvin intends to map a more cautious path for his new client. Captain Nigmatullin, however, shows an unnerving penchant for talk shows—appearing on them, that is—and otherwise ignoring her attorney’s sober counsel.

How can Calvin ensure his client’s freedom when death stalks the Aeneid’s crew, and Nigmatullin herself hides secrets from everyone, even her lawyer?

BLAKE SMITH: Test of Valor.



Alain de Kerauille wants to be a knight more than anything in the world, to win as many jousting tournaments as he can, become wealthy and famous, and gain the hand of the fair lady Emma. As a squire in a noble household, he’s well on his way to success, and when he’s chosen to joust in a celebratory tournament, all of his dreams seem within his grasp. Until his rivalry with a fellow squire reaches the boiling point, threatening to destroy everything Alain has worked for and send his future crashing down around him.

Nah King, Nah Queen

Kings are not preservers of liberty.  Regardless of how much they even try to be, and how much they are pictured as such in fantasy stories.  When some magical whatsit talks about the king as a preserver of ancient liberties, unless the king is also a magical whatsit, the best that can be hoped for is that the liberties of noblemen, magicians and other important people will be preserved.

The vast amorphous people, the “little people” of the kingdom.  Well, those might be used in an alliance against noblemen, if it’s needed, but respecting their liberties is almost impossible, because there are so many of them and from a king’s pov they don’t often want what they should want, which amounts to the stuff he wants, relating to foreign relations and trade, and all that good stuff.

Presidents are of course different from kings.  They hold the honor for a short time, and are supposed to preserve our liberties.

Note supposed to.  The problem is, of course, that form follows function, and when the presidency concentrates too much power onto itself, inevitably, it becomes a kingship.  And listening to all those small people who don’t want to do what you think they should becomes an annoyance.

It’s time to make our constitutional presidency less powerful, the ability to affect our daily lives less concentrated on one fallible man.

The alternative is to resign ourselves to monarchs, and I for one ain’t gonna.

Happy President’s day.  Let’s make it small.





LTUE Report

Um… it was a long trip and I’m sleepy, but it was fun.  A lot of fun.

I’m not well enough, yet, to actually socialize all the time, but a lot of my fans were there, as well as people like Law Dog and his lady and Dorothy and Peter Grant, so pretty much every time we stepped out, we ended up taking an extra hour to get back to the room.

There were fascinating and interesting panels, but again, I was not yet up to attending most of them.  Still, I’ve done a lot of cons, and this one seemed to have the most useful panels.

Under “inexplicable” I was in a panel on writing children.  NOT quite inexplicable, as the program director is a fan of Dyce, but of course the panel morphed into writing FOR children.  I kept getting asked how to vote for middle-schoolers.  Er…. I don’t know.

I got to hang out with Brad and Larry (and of course Bridget.)  And Larry and I talked Guardian.  It was fun.

More when I’m more coherent.

Am going back next year if I have money, time, and they let me. 🙂

I’ll Catch You On The Other Side

I simply don’t have the time to organize the promo post, so it will be tomorrow.  There will be a con report whenever I make it home today, so probably late.  It was fun.  I don’t want to leave all my imaginary friends and go back home.  OTOH books to finish.

So…. More later, promo tomorrow, even though I know it disturbs the OCD among you.

If you must have a writing prompt use the below:



Virtue – A Blast from the Past from November 2015

*Still in Utah — no, I haven’t tried to get out yet.  No, we never got my driver’s license back.  And they say other documents might get me through, so no big deal… probably — so tomorrow’s post might be late, depending on how much time I get to write before going to the airport. So be patient with me a little while.  If I don’t’ get the promo post tomorrow in on time, I’ll do it on Monday, don’t worry. – SAH*

Virtue – A Blast from the Past from November 2015

Real virtue is hard.  I was thinking about this as I was thinking the other day that I’m quite possibly the worst-practitioner-of-my-professed-religion-ever.

You’d not think that from the outside because I try to fit in with the obvious observances, and do the right thing… most of the time.  Look, it’s not hypocrisy, it’s my way of keeping myself close to the straight and narrow.

But there’s a whole host of little things that slip by: times I’m unkind, times I don’t consider others and certainly times I’m lazy or fail to do what I should be doing right then.

Real virtue is hard because most of it is internal.  It’s refraining from doing the things that the natural creature wants to do. It’s doing things you really don’t want to do.  It’s staying up an hour later to finish that overdue project, it’s getting up in the night because your spouse/kid is throwing up in the bathroom, it’s doing dishes before bed so your spouse doesn’t need to worry about them, it’s making a cup of hot cocoa for your kid when it’s snowy out and you know he/she is going to come trudging through the door, wet and cold.

BUT that’s not the hardest part.  The hardest part is putting yourself out for strangers or even people you don’t like very much.  Going out to help your contentious neighbor dig his car out of snow, even though you work from home, and don’t need to. Lending money to a bad-at-planning friend even though you know you won’t be paid back, because they need it more than you, even though it leaves you tight.  Or stopping on a cold night to help some person pick up packages they just dropped.

There are other — little — things that are easier, though still work you don’t need to do, like taking back the carts some right berk left in parking spaces in the grocery store.

I do the later type of thing when I can, the one of being kind to the family most of the time.  (Not always because I’m human and sometimes the body won’t obey no matter how virtuous the mind wants to be.) The virtue in relation to friends, well, I try, but it’s difficult.  It’s difficult because we’re all human and sometimes we don’t know when good turns to enabling, so it’s a judgement call.  And sometimes the “enabling” thing is easy to use as a n excuse, even though it’s probably (we never know for sure) not true.

Being kind to strangers takes the problems of being kind to friends and acquaintances and amplifies them.  I mean, what do you do when there’s that lone little old lady by the side of the road with an obvious broken down car?  Do you stop?  What if her accomplices are in the ditch waiting to jump you?  You might be commanded to be kind to those around you and help those who can’t help themselves, but what do you do when it risks your life?  Are you required to risk your life?  So most of the time you call the police and trust they’ll help the little old lady.  (More on that later.)

And then there’s a whole host of “virtues” and “disciplines” that are internal.  I’m very bad at them, and I believe they matter, because they condition how you see the world, but you don’t see them from the outside.  You don’t see my laziness either, most of the time for reasons of “taking the easy, not the exacting” part, but it’s failing at virtue, nonetheless.

However this is not confession, and I’m not writing this to unburden.

I’m writing this because I was thinking on what it would take to REALLY live my faith and I realized that most of it would be very, very difficult and also nearly invisible to others.

Because we’re human, it’s really hard to do things like never having an uncharitable thought or doing things when you really don’t feel like doing them, or being just kind enough not to enable.

This is why most ancient religions had/have a code of conduct, but also a bunch of actions you can perform, ritually or otherwise to make you feel okay with the divine, without having to go to heroic lengths.

Give gods/saints their pound of butter in the lamp, pray in a certain way, and you feel that you’ve at least studied to the test.  You might not qualify for sainthood or ultimate bliss, but you did what you needed to do, that Himself up there are trying really hard, and it’s not your fault if you fall down sometimes (or often.)

This is also why the older and more mature religions have established ways of atoning and established days for doing so.  Because if you think you’ve “studied to the eternal test” but just in case you missed one of the important tests there is this remedial credit, this way to make yourself clean OR to silence your overactive conscience.

The problem is when you substitute these traditional religions by the pretense of no religion.  Why pretense?  Because most people who claim to have no religion, never the less follow a set of never-examined-or-questioned precepts.

If those precepts are in essence the same as in many traditional religions, you have a lot of my atheist or agnostic friends: be kind to others; help those in need, take care of your own and don’t be a burden on others.  They tend to be — coff.  I know some of you read this — a wee bit more neurotic, as they have no way to make atonement and the unswept dregs of human failure pile up in their back brain.

On the other hand some of us who are religious are also really bad at believing we made full atonement.

But then there are those people who are not religious and who took as their precepts the fuzzier, more insane forms of “virtue.”  Stuff like “Speak for the voiceless.”  I hate that one, because while it’s valid if you’re a religious person or one who watches yourself ALL THE TIME, it’s way to easy to imagine that the voiceless would say JUST what you want them to.  Hence all the nonsense of very very white and privileged people speaking for minorities and then rejecting real minorities who disagree with them.  Or “respect the Earth.”  People like my friend Dave Freer respect the Earth.  They live very close to it, which involves an immense amount of work, and they hunt and use every part of the animal they can, and they don’t pollute more than they can absolutely help.

But people like Al Gore, PREACH respect of the Earth, while living in a mansion larger than some small third world villages, and which certainly takes more energy to heat, and jetting around the world.  They do their “virtue” talk and think that compensates for how they live, I’d guess.

Yesterday, while I was making dinner my husband had some show on where some right prat who fancied himself a comedian was going on and on and on about prisoner rehabilitation.  (Is this the new THING?  I saw it here yesterday, and it’s been cropping up more and more.  I find this very interesting, because I’ve noticed a certain coordination in topics du jour from the over-culture.  Remember when Alaskan cruises were all the thing and every liberal and soft liberal and some non liberals were taking them?  And every magazine was full of stuff about the PRISTINE landscape of Alaska?  All leading up to the rejection of the Alaskan pipeline?  I’ve learned to catch these things in the wind as it were, and be prepared for what liberal cause they’re pushing.  And no, I don’t think they’re a big conspiracy. They’re the result of most people in the media and entertainment being of the same political color and running in the same circles.  In those circumstances it takes very few manipulators in their midst to start this sort of thing, which then runs on its own, until it stops suddenly when no longer useful.  Mind you, the people planting the seeds ARE usually conspirators.  Not so long ago — and probably not now, but who knows? — they took their marching orders from Moscow.)

Younger son finally asked my husband to turn the d*mn thing off, and I realized I was gritting my teeth.  My husband was going along with it for the “funny” and paying no attention to the politics.

I was paying attention, partly, because of the discussion here, and because it was prickling the back of my brain with “is this the new thing?”

But it was annoying the heck out of me, because I’ve heard all this before.  I heard it in Europe.  The poor prisoners, and the horrors they face on coming out, and and and.  At the end of this is a judicial system where a wrist slap is considered harsh.  I don’t have any clue what it is now, but when I came to the States, you could commit murder in Portugal and be out in seven years.  MULTIPLE murders.  And then several busybodies would busy themselves with virtue-signaling by giving you everything they could, things they wouldn’t bother giving/helping poor but honest people with.  And when you failed, as most prisoners do, even with all the help in the world, to integrate back in society, it was society’s fault and more sappy stories were told about you, till they gave you another chance.

This (and I’m not going into the reform/rehabilitation/death penalty matter right now, this one is just an instance) is virtue-signaling on the part of the do-gooders.  These people wouldn’t bestir themselves to help a family in need that has never done anything wrong, because everyone agrees those people need help, and why isn’t the state helping them.  But hey will put themselves out to help prisoners say because the very fact they’re “undeserving poor” makes the virtue of helping them greater.  Not just prisoners, mind, there’s also drug users, or abusers of others, or as we’ve seen in our own field, pedophiles.

Sometimes it’s as though the less deserving the object of concern, the greater the virtue signaling of this “compassion.”

Which brings us to the fact most of this “virtue” is not even real.  They’re not helping anyone.  I have a friend who is a pagan prison chaplain.  He puts his money where his mouth is. He puts his time, his attention, and his work in there too.  Weirdly he’s one of those who doesn’t agitate for leniency in general.  It’s also funny, given how different their traditions, how much he sounds like Peter Grant on the subject.

Sure there are people in there who deserve help in building a new life.  They’re ready to change and work for it, and even if they fail, they deserve help in trying to fix themselves/their lives. But they’re few and far between.  Most of them are psychopaths and sociopaths, who are REALLY GOOD at pretending to want to change.

The people who work closely with them and who know them as much as possible can tell the difference and are in the best position for changing their ways if they can be changed.  Right prats who go on about how we should be lenient to everyone do more harm than good and lead to a world where we’re kind to the cruel and thus cruel to the kind.

Which is what is wrong with all this virtue-signaling talk.  Oh, it makes you feel so good to stand up say for a confessed pedophile and tell everyone how nice they are, and send them pictures of your kids (!) but in the end all that you are doing is enabling someone’s dysfunction.

It makes you feel good to speak for the “voiceless” (because Marxist theory tells you that in a capitalist society the poor/minorities are voiceless, and you never considered Marxist theory is the product of college professors who wouldn’t know voiceless if it bit them in the fleshy portion of the back.)   But in the end you’re just joining your voice to a chorus of out-of-touch academics pushing the world in a very bad direction, where envy is a virtue, the individual isn’t respected and society is a horror out of 1984.

Real virtue is hard.  Virtue signaling is easy.  When you no longer have any real standards virtue signaling is all you have left.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, small dragons and octopi, is what we face.  They say and do these things, from twitter storms to rants about the rights of (insert supposed victim class here, the more repulsive the better) in the same way other religions light butter lamps or genuflect to show devotion.

This absolves them from all real effort to help others, particularly since most of them think it’s someone else’s job, and just call the police, or government, to do the charity work they won’t do.

Our society, from entertainment to news to civic teaching (such as there is, which is almost never formally taught) encourages this form of virtue-signaling over real virtue.

We have a lot of work to do to turn it around.  And most of this is small, private, modeling real virtue and calling out fools on virtue-signaling.  None of it is pleasant or easy.  All or it is needed.

Their system if corrupt, impossible and failing.  In the end they lose.  But we only win if we cultivate real virtue and aren’t afraid to call out false one.

Resist the easy feel-good of virtue signaling.  Do what you can to cultivate real virtue.  And teach your children well.

No one said this would be easy.