News and Announcement From Sarah, Pomp and Promo by Free Range Oyster, & Winsome Sunday Vignettes- by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

 News and Announcement From Sarah

The good news, at least for me, is that I took the last dose of Prednisone this morning.  Well, at least last for the foreseeable future.  However since my doctor doesn’t believe in tapering, the next couple of days MIGHT be rough.  All the same, glad to be done with this.  Large portions of the last few days have been devoted to trying to get my brain from jumping all over. I might have added three books to the TBW cue, too.

Announcement: I don’t know if it was the pred, but kind of doubt it, as I have had this problem before, and Dan has had this problem while trying to help me: You know how you guys ask me if I can do this or that and I say “I’d love to, but WordPress is not letting me?”  Because of this site being hosted by wordpress (which is great as it has survived three attempts at hacking that took other sites down in the same wave, one because of some uncomfortable stuff about the publishing industry, who, unable to hack us, just kept denouncing this and MGC as malware [some of you might remember that], one quite personal by a crazy person who decided he was having a blog war with me, while I was busy with something else, and one recently in a “let’s hack blogs that defended Milo” spree) it limits what links it can have.  Took me forever to figure out how to link zazzle.  Patreon is a no go (I need to redesign mine, anyway, to give away commensurate compensation.  Health getting no worse than this — yes, I’m used to skating at the edge of disaster; done it for 54 years, it’s dropping into the well of hell that stops me — look for something around summer.

One of the things this site won’t work with is Mailchimp (or other mail list [UPDATE: FOR EMAILS.  SORRY NOT TO EXPLAIN, BUT IT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME ANYONE WOULD THINK I WANTED TO MAIL OUT A PHYSICAL NEWSLETTER] programs, really.)  I can establish them, I just can’t create a link that will work here.  In fact, on my last attempt, I found that I already had something like three widget links, none of which worked. It reminded me of the last house when five years after my failure to establish a rose garden, I tried again and kept running into the sad remains of previous attempts which I’d forgotten.

There is a way to fix it, sort of, by bouncing it off another site (what I did with zazzle) but until this book (delayed by stupid prednisone) is in I don’t have time to design other sites (or redo this one and MGC which desperately NEED it.)

Until then I’m collecting whoever wants to be in the mailing list (which will, AT MOST, probably send out two newsletters a month, if it’s an exceptional month, with lots of sales and releases, but which MOST LIKELY will be lucky to have one a month, because I’m still me, and will forget to give news even to my mailing list manager.  It will probably also have personal stuff that doesn’t go on my blog, stories behind the books, maybe deleted chapters.  We’ll see.) by asking that if you want in, you send an email to the following address, with your name, email, and a clear statement that you want these mailings.  Needless to say it won’t be sold or shared (though I reserve the right to promo ONE friend’s book now and then if I wish to.) For those looking to send stupid/spam messages to the address, don’t strain.  The list will be culled by my newsletter manager, so even if you send the usual and amiable threats, I won’t ever see them.  Also, frankly, you’re not that original.  Though some of you are amusingly a-grammatical and delusional.sarahsmailinglist at gmail dot com

 Pomp and Promo by Free Range Oyster

Amanda S. Green

Dagger of Elanna

Sword of the Gods Book 2

Plots form, betrayals are planned and war nears.

Cait Hawkener has come to accept she might never remember her life before that terrible morning almost two years ago when she woke in the slavers’ camp. That life is now behind her, thanks to Fallon Mevarel and the Order of Arelion. Now a member of the Order, Cait has pledged her life to making sure no one else falls victim as she did.

But danger once more grows, not only for Cait but to those she calls friends. Evil no longer hides in the shadows and conspirators grow bold as they move against the Order and those who look to it for protection. When Cait accepts the call to go to the aid of one of the Order’s allies, she does not know she is walking into the middle of conspiracy and betrayal, the roots of which might help answer some of the questions about her own past.

Anthology

Freedom’s Light

From the members and associates of the Conservative-Libertarian Fiction Alliance (CLFA) comes Freedom’s Light, a collection of short fiction that celebrates the human yearning for liberty. These stories will extol the value of human rights and the sacrifices of those who defend those rights. This collection features works from a wide variety of genres and a diverse set of authors, including Hugo Award nominee Brad R. Torgersen and 2016 Dragon Award winner Nick Cole. Freedom’s Light will entertain us and elevate the humanity we all share.

Nitay Arbel

Winter Into Spring: A Romance Novella

Veronica “Ronnie” Zielinski, a librarian in the Chicago suburbs, has always dreamed of writing but never dared pursue her dream since the needs of others have always seemed to come first… until one winter, when a mysterious new library patron opens her eyes and changes her life, with some help from the romantic sci-fi classic “Komarr” by Lois McMaster Bujold…

Allene R. Lowrey

Advent of Ruin

The Qaehl Cycle Book 1

An Age ends in blood and darkness…

For untold generations, the peoples of the Qaehl have prospered—trading and warring as they expanded across the great desert. Mighty city-states rise unassailable above the sands, centers of commerce in a great web of humanity. Messengers and nomads, tradesmen and bandits, cross the burning wastes with each rising of the sun.

A change is coming. Strange creatures have been sighted in the deep desert. Rumors whisper of horrors begotten out of legend. But there is yet hope: a brave courier, an innocent young dancer, a compassionate warrior – each holding a fragment of the truth, each seeking the future. Each adrift in the desert, trying to survive the advent of ruin.

Mary Catelli

Madeleine and the Mists

Enchanted pools, shadowy dragons, wolves that spring from the mists and vanish into them again, paths that are longer, or shorter, than they should be, given where they went… the Misty Hills were filled with marvels. Madeleine still left the hills, years ago, to marry against her father’s will. If her husband’s family is less than welcoming, she still is glad she married him, and they have a son, two years old. But her husband’s overlord has fallen afoul of the king. And all his men fall with him, including her husband. She sets out, to seek the queen and try to bypass the king – and the Misty Hills. Some things are not so easily evaded.

A Diabolical Bargain

Growing up between the Wizards’ Wood and its marvels, and the finest university of wizardry in the world, Nick Briarwood always thought that he wanted to learn wizardry. When his father attempts to offer him to a demon in a deal, the deal rebounded on him, and Nick survives – but all the evidence points to his having made the deal. Now he really wants to learn wizardry. Even though the university, the best place to master it, is also the place where he is most likely to be discovered.

Bernadette Durbin

Minstrel

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

Winsome Sunday Vignettes- by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

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

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

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is:
attractive

Coyote Gravity by Christopher M. Chupik

Coyote Gravity – by Christopher M. Chupik

 

 

You know the moment. Wile E. Coyote (Super-Genius) has ordered his high-tech equipment from Acme and is busy creating his elaborate trap which will catch the Roadrunner. But while he’s doing this, the Roadrunner sneaks up behind him and beep-beeps loudly, startling Coyote right off the cliff he’s standing on. For a moment the Coyote hangs suspended in the air. Then he looks down. Gravity reasserts itself with a vengeance and he plummets helplessly earthwards, hitting the ground with a puff of dust.

The modern Left is having that moment right now.

The 2016 Election was supposed to be the triumphant of the as-yet-unmade Hillary Clinton biopic, where the heroine defeats the designated woman-hating he-man villain and claims her rightful place as the First Female POTUS . . .

And then there’s what actually happened.

Now we’ve got witches casting anti-Trump spells, minor celebrities chanting like cultists on street corners, journalists destroying what little remains of their credibility, all in a vain effort to undo what has been done.

Witchcraft seems strangely appropriate. For too long, the Left believed in a form of political sympathetic magic: if they controlled how the world was portrayed in news and fiction, they could reshape reality to their whims. Therefore, it came as a brutal shock to their system when the end result of all their years of plotting and manipulating was the rise of Donald Trump, the one result they absolutely did not want.

The spate of silly comparisons between Trump and the Mule from Asimov’s Foundation series are right in one respect. Trump is an element that our social planners did not foresee. Not because of mutant mind-powers, but because of an intellectual blindspot on the part of those who thought they were charting the destiny of the nation. He couldn’t possibly win, they thought. Our media propaganda machine is just too strong, they thought. Now they’re scrambling to figure out how they got it so completely wrong.

Or they should be. Instead, too many on the Left are doubling-down on the same kind of clueless snobbery and basket-full-of-deplorables rhetoric that cost them the election to begin with. The problem can’t be with them, oh no. It must The People who let them down. Instead of behaving like the good little Marxist automatons that they’re supposed to, they went and elected the Worst Candidate Ever, seeming embodiment of everything the Left despises capped off with an obvious toupee. Now after eight years of Hope and Change and post-racial utopias, it’s back to Amerikkka being the source of all evil in the world, with rich white male Christian Republicans at the root of it all.

A friend of mine was telling me that she thinks a big part of the problem is that modern technology has made it possible for people to get away with creating their own little realities. They can just prune their social media to keep other viewpoints from intruding on theirs. You could go for days and never hear anyone’s dissenting opinion, unless it’s been filtered through the biases of your political peers.

There are consequences to this. We’ve already seen violence inspired by the Left’s reckless “punching Nazis” rhetoric. Look, the National Socialist Party of Germany has been dead for decades. The only real Nazis left are a handful of aging war-criminals and some dumb thugs with shaved heads. Therefore, you’re likely not punching a literal fascist. You’re assaulting someone with different politics for the sole reason that they’re different. That’s what happens when your view of reality isn’t based on what’s real anymore.

You can’t simply reject reality and substitute your own. If anything that arguing with idiots online has taught me (apart from the fact that its usually a waste of time) is that I can’t insulate myself from other viewpoints. If I did, how could I argue effectively against them? As much as it sometimes annoys/pains/disgusts me, I have to know what the other side thinks. If that means wading through sub-clickbait drivel full of SJW buzzwords written by people who think that libertarians want to turn the world into the Trumpian Third Reich of Somalia, then that is the price I pay. And I pay it gladly.

So you can try to hide, if you choose. Unleash your blockbots on Twitter to keep your political opposites out of sight and out of mind. Pretend that everybody who disagrees with you is Literally Hitler. Chant your slogans and cast your spells.

But reality can’t be ignored forever. It has a gravity all its own. And sooner or later, you gotta look down.

The Coup

There was a revolution in the hen house, and Felix the Red (Bantam) was in charge.

The hen house was how Felix thought about it, even though these days the ladies preferred to be called layers, after their occupation, and even though there was another rooster here, Gus.  This is what came from having inexperienced chicken breeders.  They should know that there was absolutely no way you could get away with two roosters in the same coup.  But they had thought since Felix was a bantam rooster, and Gus a gigantic speckled whatever the hell he was, but he was gigantic, they wouldn’t fight.

So far so good, but that was because Gus was dim.  Gus assumed that being so small Felix must be some kind of midget, sport, or undergrown juvenile, and looked at him quizzically, but didn’t try to kill him.  Of course, Felix tried to look as inoffensive as possible, and never let Gus catching him mounting a hen.

Some weeks ago Felix had found The Book and had spent days absorbing its significance.  Now, having got all the ladies… er… layers attention, he held it in front of him, covering most of his body.  It was a long and complex book.  Ten pages and full of drawings.

He opened to the front page, “This is what we come from ladies,” he said, as he showed a giant creature with feathers but also a muzzle and teeth, towering over puny humans.  “This is a t-rex, and he was the great, great, great grandad of us all.”

There were clucks of appreciation.  He flipped through the pages, showing a meteor hitting the Earth and the sad fall of the T-rex, and ending in a picture of a chicken.

“Yeah, and?” Gus said.  He was sullen, because he had found the book while scratching in the yard and failed to pay it any attention.  Felix understood the sting of being bested, and did his best not to smirk at Gus.  Partly because smirking at Gus would be difficult, when all he had was beady chicken eyes and a beak.

“So the genes are still there,” Felix said.  “What we need to do is start a breeding program, in which we breed for the strongest and the fastest, until we attain that size and power again.  Then we shall make the HUMANS lay eggs for us.”

The chickens clucked in appreciation, though Martha, who was getting past her laying years and was skeptical, muttered, “I don’t think that would work.”

“Of course it will.  It’s scientific.  My cousin, who was an experimental animal at a lab for many years,” Felix said.  “Told me the genes for teeth and claws are still in us, and gene manipulators have managed to make chicks be born with teeth and claws.  So a breeding program should bring the T-rex back.”

“Particularly if we breed for gene manipulators,” Martha said, and looked innocent when Felix looked at her.

“This can’t fail.  I say I will be in charge of the breeding schedule,” Felix said. “I will pick the fittest male, and he will breed with all you lad- Layers in rotation, and–”

Suddenly Gus was there, looming.  “That’s all right Felix.  We don’t need a breeding program.  Since we’re breeding for size, it’s obvious who the only qualified rooster is.”  Casually, he shoved Felix aside.  “Now, ladies, we don’t need a schedule.  I’ll get to all of you in turn.”

It was disgusting the way those silly hens clucked and cozied up to Gus.  “We must breed for intelligence, too,” Felix said.  “And ferocity.”

To prove his point, he aimed a peck at Gus’ leg but Martha was in the way, and didn’t at all take kindly to being pecked on the leg.  She chased Felix around the chicken coup, humiliatingly removing many of his brightest feathers in her fury.

All night long, Felix sat in the dark listening to the sounds of Gus having it on with every single chicken.

Life was not fair, and it should be.  There should be a place where Felix’s intelligence and ferocity were appreciated.  Tomorrow, at feeding time, he was going to fly the coup.

… Your guess is as good as mine.  Nope, when I sat down to write a blog this is the ONLY thing that would come out.  Possibly end of book-itis plus prednisone.  We’ve established that pred makes other people angry.  It just removes my internal governor.  And apparently most of what my governor controls is snark and silliness.  Today you get the silliness.

At any rate, you guys have always been able to have fun no matter what I give you.  So, have at it.

 

 

 

 

 

Cross-Culture

I am a cross-cultural being.  As such, I am weirdly aware of the various … gradations… of what is culture, what is biological and what is probably reinforced in biology by culture over the centuries.

Say you’re a woman in a country that puts women to death for being lippy.  Most indications would be that lippy women would get weeded out of the culture.  Except things are more complicated than that, when it comes to human tendencies and inclinations.  I.e. “It’s not that simple.”  You could be a suborn woman but know when to confine it to where it’s safe: say bullying your close relatives, particularly the female ones.  Or long-term-preference lippiness: zipping it until you’re the mother in law and have a couple or more daughters in law to be lippy to in safety.  The fact is if it were a single trait and immediately lethal, then there wouldn’t be women who talk back to judges and get killed for it, even now, after 14 centuries of selecting for meek.  BUT the fact is also that if you go to one of those countries, you see women putting up with things they never would in America.  Even “Strong” and “spirited” women.  Because culture is like that.  Culture sets parameters to what is even thinkable for each individual.  And then you express yourself within those patterns.  Sure you can go outside the parameters.  I did.  But even I only went slightly outside the patterns.  I think.  Well, however much I went outside was enough to make most people really uncomfortable around me.  And unless you’re planning to pack and leave, this is not a long-term survival strategy.

Then when you pack up and leave, and enter a new culture, you find you’re outside ALL the parameters.  Even in America, I sent so many mixed signals that I was often baffled by the image of me people had, until I had deconstructed further, and understood how my behavior (out of the norms for here) was being slotted into their mind’s image of the various US subcultures (more on that later) and the rest of the attributes were being filled in, even if they didn’t FIT with anything they actually saw.  It is cultural, too, to do this.  It saves time.  Say you see a young man in a suit with a Bible in hand walking down the street.  You’re going to work really hard to fit him into “missionary” even if the suit is powder blue, his shoes red, and he has three earrings.  Now, if he’s also carrying a boombox blaring hip-hop you might put him under “crazy” which is human for “can’t read signals.”

Anyway, I had to learn what signals I was giving, and also look past the signals other people gave, for “are they actually like that, or is this Portuguese prejudice?”  This was the early eighties.  I had to –among other things — realize not every guy who wore loud jewelry/clothes was gay (or low class, since in Portugal it could go either way.)  One of my fellow exchange students complained she couldn’t “read” how smart boys were because her US vocabulary wasn’t good enough to evaluate theirs.  And she couldn’t make a “picture” OF THEM.

Cultures are not innate.  Yes, I think we can all agree certain traits feed the culture/are fed by it.  And that remnants of a culture persist for a good long while, if you immigrate as a family or, as some 20th century ethnicities did, as a village.  For instance, it’s not coincidence (I think) that when I went to my kids’ departmental awards for chemistry in college, he was the only one who didn’t have a German last name.  (He does have German ancestry, but not in massive quantity and so far back it’s genetically moot.)  HOWEVER note that he got the departmental awards in Chemistry, a notoriously fussy, detail oriented discipline, while being half Portuguese, that is to say having a mother from a culture where “detail oriented” means “arrives at appointments within two hours of right time, and is within a mile of the aimed for objective.” (His father, OTOH, is a mathematician. But I’ll be honest, our family culture is more me than him, mostly because through most of our lives I stayed home with the kids.  Which means meals are “around this time” — with a four hour span — and doing the same thing every day never happens (now I am on daily meds, I have alarms on my phone to remind me.  Otherwise those never happen, either.).)

On the other hand, you can acculturate, a notoriously difficult, mind-bending process, which I underwent because I was not intending to become an hermit, and also because I wanted to fit in somewhere.  Having immigrated to a place I had A chance of succeeding, I undertook to fit in as much as I could.  Enough at least to be a normal person, even if an Odd one.  I will not detail that process here, because I’ve detailed it in another post. However, acculturation is very difficult.  It’s not impossible.  But it is internally difficult.

This is why liberals think it’s inhumane and “impossible” and “no one” should be forced to do it.  Which is why they espouse the salad bowl idea of culture, not the melting pot.

There is a big problem with that.  Well, several.  The end stage of the salad bowl is the Balkans which you might note are NOT a region known for its cutting edge science and culture. Mostly because they are spending all their time in daily fights, even when it’s not open war.

And that gets us back to culture.  Culture is, at its most basic level, a series of built in assumptions that allows people to use minimal effort in their daily lives, in evaluating people or situations.

Sure some of us who got the short end of the ethnic stick in terms of “We look like population most likely to be dangerous” have to make accommodations.  I’ve blogged here about having to pay double for son’s accommodations in a not so good part of the metro area, because son depending on lighting and how short his hair is can read Latin or black, or (mostly) a combination.  And depending on the areas in this part of Metro Denver, that can mean… the wrong side of a potential gang war, or just “suspect #1” which considering the hours medical students keep could get dicey.  So I paid extra, which annoyed me. No, it’s not fair, and it’s not a “good thing” but the world isn’t, and cultures can’t be.  Because most of evaluations are done at the gut level, and with instant looks.  And they are right most of the time for most people, or they’ll change.

I can’t for instance complain about older son being taken for dangerous, because when I was waiting for him to get home from middle school, so I could run to the post office (he hadn’t taken a key.  Those were the “losing my key once a week” years.) I stood in front of the house, on the sidewalk (we lived in downtown Colorado Springs) bag on shoulder.  And I saw this huge, over six feet tall guy, in a black leather jacket, with a two day beard growth, coming towards me.  I started to retreat inside the yard, when the guy said “Moooooom.”  Yep, older son.  But the scanning I didn’t even know I was doing had said “danger.”  (Later this happened again while walking down the street.  After that he started wearing a shirt and tie every day.)   This is not something you can control.  It’s at the back of the brain.

But in less dire/danger/whatever situations, we still do evaluations every day.  And the problem is how cultures “read” things and people can be completely different/opposite.  Part of our issue with Islamic culture is just that: cultural.  They’d never get in the pissing contest they are pushing, if they could read us accurately.  And arguably our liberals would never be pushing for peace and appeasement if they could read THEM accurately.

It’s one of those cultural traps which I have read about and which are tragic.


I think I’ve spoken before of the tragic encounter between Zulu and Boers in South Africa. Zulus were doing what they did that had won them Africa (they came from central Africa shortly before the whites arrived): Commit incredibly scary atrocities so the enemy runs/avoids combat/submits. The whites were in their head just another tribe. They could not understand the idea of a “tribe” that was starting to span the globe and which would self-identify as “tribe” in the face of a savage. So their savagery made the Europeans MORE determined to wipe them out.


We’re seeing something like that, again. Islamic CULTURES are big on bragging, exaggeration of force and intimidation of the enemy. This is functional in a desert where there’s always a lot of low-level “war.” Some atrocities, scare “the enemy” and you keep your patch, and you go on. they have a fine tuned ear for this. When the other tribe isn’t committing atrocities against YOU and particularly when they’re being appeasing/accommodating, you have them over a barrel. If you strike with showy force you can take their stuff and enslave them. NOTE most of the attacks are designed to be showy.


TWO things they don’t get: Our elites are appeasing because the elites think they’re SO powerful they can’t be touched and are oikophobes who hate their own people. AND our PEOPLE is getting pissed, really pissed.


You know the old joke? There are no Muslims in Star Trek because it’s set in the future.


This is unfortunately the likely outcome of the cultures meeting. At some point (already happening) the elites will have to fight or be replaced. And when we go to war, our power is incalculable compared to them. They think we exaggerate our strength, while, culturally, we underplay it. They don’t understand we’re holding back.

The result will be a horrific destruction of guilty and innocent alike and even people like me who look Arab/Mediterranean in a bad light will be at risk.


And they will be the victims of genocide. And the west will change for centuries, in ways I’m not sure I like.


What is irritating is seeing the beginning of this process, but I don’t know if we can stop it or change it. it would take cross cultural understanding that has NEVER happened in human history.

Now imagine that within a country.

We’re already there to an extent.  Because people live in bubbles/don’t assimilate and the industrial-entertainment complex has promoted the idea of groupings in which the individual is a widget for over fifty years, we’ve gotten used to evaluating each other on one characteristic.

Remember above, my mention of our elites?  They are the most insulated and blindest of all. They literally have no idea what their countrymen are like.  They attach to ONE characteristic and build their oikophobia on it.

These, mostly liberal, elites, have had their culture reinforced in college and by entertainment, and by living near other people who attended similar colleges.

I was reminded of this while reading a book yesterday the “liberal without knowing they are” characters (college professors with not a friend in fly over country) are about to visit a couple some miles off their big city.  The couple are “conservative” (which in this case seems to mean not liking CNN) and so they assume the couple is: Hyper religious, red necks, listen to country, close minded, etc.  It was like that whole “clinging to guns and religion” thing.  In fact the couple could be … well, libertarian.  Or even Libertarian.  The couple in fact could be like the people who hang out at the group blog I used to contribute to, Classical Values.  So Libertarian that we wondered if adult incest SHOULD be illegal as such, no matter how much it skived us.  It could be anything. BUT on “conservative” these people built up a straw man that might exist, but not very often and certainly not universally. BUT everything they learned/read/watched has trained them this is right.  Which is what cultures are like.  They are the short hand for “reading” other people and circumstances

And this, mind you, is an inability to read your OWN culture, that you were supposedly raised in.  Except there’s a whole culture now, outside it, created by “elite” institutions and people who are easily led. There is a counterculture too, created by people and people like me who attended the same colleges, etc, but didn’t buy the bullsh*t either because we’re naturally suspicious or because we had experiences that countered them.  I am routinely insulted by both sides.  Last week, it was someone ostensibly on the right, saying how you couldn’t trust anyone with a post-grad degree, who liked to live in cities and who had traveled, because they were all Marxist.  He’s obviously wrong about me, but is that the way to bet?  Yep, which is why the right-culture makes that evaluation.

Now throw in immigrants.  I was once both diverted and appalled by the account of an Arab immigrant (I think she wrote The God That Hates) who thought for years, after immigrating, that the neighbors were all spying on her.  She was evaluating the US from the perspective of an Arab who, had she had American neighbors in her native land, would have spied on them/distrusted them.  The things she read as threatening, etc, were funny as heck for those of us outside that mental loop.  (Kind of like me thinking my future and now late BIL was dangerous because he was a biker and kept his wallet on a chain.)  What finally broke through her illusion was realizing her neighbors thought she was… Mexican.

But most fits of total cultural blindness don’t break.  As I said above, I’m very worried about what is going on with Islam, because I’ve never seen two cultures resolve that kind of miss-communication without serious blood shed.  And in this case, they can’t perceive how outnumbered and out-armed they are.  They also can’t perceived that our elites aren’t our COUNTRIES (and part of that is our media.)  Or how close they’re running to the edge.

Cross cultural perception (and/or assimilation, if we’re talking immigrants) doesn’t happen on a mass scale unless it becomes completely NECESSARY for survival.

The bad news is that I don’t know if that CAN happen on the world stage.  I think those in Islam that GET us, and try to talk will get silenced by their own kind. Coming from a culture that’s more uniform/conformity enforcing than the US, but less than the Arab cultures, I know that if I were trying to warn Portuguese about this kind of misunderstanding, I’d just get called crazy and dismissed.

And on our side… Americans tend to have a happy-go-lucky idea that all humans are like them, until the illusion shatters.  And then we’re G-d’s own bastards, because when we’re shocked we react badly.  See WWI and WWII.

The good news is that nationally, partly because of the cr*p going on in the world stage, partly because technology is allowing the counter culture (the real counter culture.  US.) to have a voice, our elites and our um-assimilated immigrants are going to find themselves in one of those situations where assimilation is a life-preserving value.  Probably sooner than later.

This is good news, even if things get a little dicey for me and family (a little?  Yeah, because we ARE assimilated) for a little while, because it will stop the runaway balkanization of the country. It makes it more likely we survive. We, the US, but also by extension, we, the west.  Of which we might be the last best hope.

Even if the way there is strewn with fire and blood, and if what emerges on the other side is at least for a while more conformity-enforcing and less welcoming of individual foibles.

But when we’ve allowed leftist illusion to run rampant, there will be a price to pay.  I just hope it’s a butcher’s bill we can survive.

From Where came the Were? – Alma Boykin

*I NORMALLY don’t run two guest posts, back to back.  However, I’m back on prednisone and trying to finish a novel.  the autoimmune was going crazy with the stress of the last week or so. So, cut me a little slack for one day.  And enjoy Alma’s great post. – SAH*

From Where came the Were? – Alma Boykin

 

Shape-shifting individuals, and animals that take on human form, seem to appear in almost every folk-lore around. They have become the mainstay of paranormal fantasy, in the process losing their negative connotation and taking on positive attributes. The idea of humans becoming predators is so common that I don’t think I’ve seen a werewolf costume at Halloween in decades. Why bother? They don’t seem to be mysterious or unusual anymore. And that in itself is an interesting twist on tradition.

Deities of all kinds shift into human or other form, and I’m going to separate out shape-shifting from were-creatures. If you look hard enough, almost every deity over the span of the human story shifts shape, or has a messenger or avatar that can conceal its true nature. I’m going to focus on things and people who are at most individuals with two or three forms—human, part-animal, full animal—and leave deities aside. Since I’m most familiar with European lore, I’m also putting more emphasis there.

No evidence exists to tell us how far back in human history the idea of were-creatures goes. There appears to be, perhaps, a shaman-like figure in the cave at Le Troi Frères, but anthropologists are no longer one-hundred-percent certain that the figure truly represents a human with animal attributes. It is thought that animist and shamanistic practices go very far back indeed, and very likely included the veneration of animal spirits, and the idea that a few trained, or cursed, individuals could be inhabited by those spirits, or take animal form while spirit travelling. From there it is not a great leap to someone not just putting on an animal hide to act as that animal during a dance or other ritual, but also changing shape into that animal, usually a predator or large herbivore. The Olmec in central America may have had werejaguars, if their carvings depict what we think they depict. The idea of humans becoming wolves also goes back a long way. Birds seem to have been were-creatures, but were-small mammals? None thus far, unless pure spirit forms count as weres.

Angry deities changed people into animals on a regular basis in Greek and Celtic lore. Athena and Artemis seem to have been especially prone to turn the arrogant into other things, such as Arachne becoming a spider, or Actaeon who was zapped into a stag and eaten by his own hunting hounds for spying on Artemis as she bathed. The Roman writer Apulias had a character turned into a donkey in The Golden Ass after messing around with witchcraft. He leads a miserable life until the goddess Isis takes pity on him and returns him to human form. In Celtic mythology, the Children of Lir are cursed by their stepmother, turning them into three swans who only return to their human forms at death. A druid cursed Fionn’s wife Sadbh, turning her and their son Oisín into deer. Certain Celtic deities also took on deer shapes, and woe betide someone who didn’t take care when they found a pure white deer or stag, especially if it had red eyes.

Werewolves could be venerated or despised and feared. A number of Central Asian peoples claimed ancestry from wolves, or held wolves in high esteem and assumed that wolves could shift into humans on occasion. The Chinese had weredogs, probably descended indirectly from the steppe tradition of werewolves, and dog-headed peoples appear in a number of Classical and Medieval writings, always a little farther on than the author’s sources had ever traveled. Europeans tended to see werewolves as evil, especially those humans who chose to take on wolf powers. Those unlucky enough to be cursed into being werewolves were to be pitied and freed if possible, but in general werewolves such as the French loup-garou meant nothing but trouble. In the Americas, especially North America, Coyote could become human, and was still a trickster and shape shifter. Louis L’Amour took advantage of this tradition in one of his short stories, where the protagonist uses an old den and a rather surprised coyote to convince the Apache that he is a were-coyote. They leave him alone after that, for good reason. Humans should never, ever cross Coyote.

European fascination with werewolves seems to have peaked in the 1500s-1600s, during a time of great social and environmental stress, and the rise of cheap, sensational printed literature. Everyone wanted to read werewolf tales, and stories about children literally raised by wolves also became popular. The interest faded away for a while, although Rudyard Kipling’s Jungle Book showed that it wasn’t entirely dead. In Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula, the count takes the form of a great wolf at one point. Given the success of Dracula and vampire-based Victorian “penny-dreadfuls,” it is no surprise that werewolves became more common. The Twentieth Century brought on new interest in were-creatures in pop culture, starting with movies like Werewolf of London (1935) and of course The Wolf Man (1941). People began scrounging around for mythology to use in their movies and books. As time passed and people looked around more for material and ideas, other shape-shifters appeared in books, leading eventually to the explosion in the 1980s-90s through today of all sorts of were-creatures, including were-squirrels.

Alas for writers, people have begun to ask questions like “If a dragon takes on human form, and the dragon weighs six hundred pounds, where does the additional mass go?” or “Do you have to be bitten to become a were-[creature]?”  This probably explains why most weres are into creatures that are more-or-less human sized to begin with. And let’s face it, most people are going to have a hard time at first taking a were-chipmunk seriously. In general, writers have risen to the occasion, although I rolled my eyes at a scene when serious handwavium was applied and the mass sent to a pocket dimension for later retrieval, as the draconic shape-shifter explained in the text. In other cases, writers turn to pure magic, transmission via disease, genetic manipulation, cursed totems that transform their users into creatures, a ticked off deity who turned people into werewolves, mental problems such as schizophrenia that led to the sufferer willing herself into the form of a werebear, and other things.

The idea of taking on the attributes of a more powerful creature goes back very far into human mythology and memory. In Africa you find stories of were-hyenas, were-leopards, and other predators. Chinese tales describe were-dogs and spirits who take on human form, while Japan has the kitsune and the Ainu shaman who take on bear form. Transformations into deer, bears, wolves, and bison happen in North America, while were-jaguars appear in South America. The modern fascination with shape shifting has deep, deep roots, and will likely continue for quite a while.

Shameless plugs: For more shape-changing, try Sarah’s Shifters series, [the first edition of the first book, with the horrible cover is free.  No it’s not horror, and the main character is not a zombie with an udder fetish -SAH] or my (Alma’s) Cat Among Dragons series.

The Ease of Evil – Kate Paulk

The Ease of Evil – Kate Paulk

 

This morning I read Marina Fontaine’s review of Downfall (http://marinafontaine.blogspot.com/2017/03/netflix-review-downfall.html), yes, including mention of that scene, the one that’s been recaptioned several gazillion times, some with more humor than others. In the review, she asks why the fascination? What is it with the Nazis and Hitler?

I have a theory. It is purely mine, based on reading a metric crap-ton about all manner of things (and don’t ask me for cites because this stuff has stewed so long in the back of my head I no longer remember where I originally read whatever triggered any particular piece. You can get most of the raw facts off Wikipedia). It is also a very broad generalization. Coming years will determine whether or not it is correct in the big picture. I’m not optimistic (I hope I’ve got this horribly wrong. I fear I haven’t).

Okay. So.

The ongoing fascination with Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Simply put, it’s the most well-documented and acknowledged demonstration of the allure of evil and how easy it is for a more or less civilized people to descend into utter brutality. As such, it holds an unclean fascination not helped by uniforms that were designed to look good as well as be practical (or by the simple fact that evil, when done effectively, is sexy. Because it is invariably power, and untrammeled power at that. We’re human. Power attracts and corrupts us. The wiser among us acknowledge this so we can fight the effect).

The various Communist regimes can be dismissed as “not counting” because to the minds of those who do the dismissing, Russia, China, North Korea, and Eastern Europe “weren’t civilized”, and so Communism/Socialism would work just fine implemented by civilized people (they usually point to one of the Nordic nations when they do this). These same people are a big part of why the wrong lesson keeps being drawn from Nazi Germany.

The problem was not nationalism. It was not even the disgusting racial laws. Those laws could never have been passed, much less enforced, without the one big thing Socialism, Communism, and yes, Nazism have in common.

The supremacy of the state.

In the case of Nazi Germany, it started towards the end of the First World War, with the combination of Communist agitation and an Empire tired of a war that was draining the nation dry. The Communist agitation had rather more to do with the Kaiser’s abdication than is generally admitted – and frankly, it was disastrous. Instead of keeping the royal family as a symbol of national unity and reforming the German government into something more like the British model, Germany emerged from Versailles with a weak government run by people who had no idea what they were doing, a crippling war debt, some self-inflicted, and a lot thanks to a vengeful France, and, on the part of the average German, a shit-ton of bitterness over having been betrayed.

Hitler’s “knife in the back” rhetoric was grounded in reality. If it had been purely fabrication, it wouldn’t have resonated nearly as well.

The Weimar regime proved incapable of managing what little economy it had. Between the hyper-inflation and the kind of turnover of leadership that left the government looking like a ping-pong match, the entire situation was a pile of tinder by a cloud of flour dust just waiting for that one spark.

Enter Prussia. Or rather, exit Prussia. Prussia had the most stable of the Weimar-era state government, and was slowly – and painfully – grinding its way back to something resembling stability. During the late 1920s and early 1930s there was a lot of unrest, most of it between the German Communists trying to foment a revolution and bring Germany into the Soviet fold and the Nazi Brownshirts. Both appealed to the average German, who knew very well they’d been sacrificed for someone else’s ideals.

Prussia’s constitution at the time didn’t allow a new state government to form without a majority. The 1932 elections left the ruling coalition without a majority, and the Nazis and Communists forming large enough minorities to effectively block any coalition forming a new government. When one of the clashes between Nazis and Communists left 18 people dead in a shootout, the German Chancellor used the opportunity to claim that Prussia’s government was incapable of maintaining order, and pushed the President (who was senile) into dismissing the Prussian Cabinet and – the main purpose of the exercise – placing the entire Prussian government under direct Federal administration.

With the largest German state under direct federal administration, that state had no way to prevent – or even protest – the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor. The rest, of course, is general knowledge: Hitler creating crises and using them to give himself absolute power, abolishing the German state governments, and of course, bringing everything he could under state control.

That bare listing of facts accounts for the rise of Hitler, but not the continuing notion that the Nazis were conservative (only if you define ‘conservative’ as ‘nationalist’). That one comes from two sources. One was Soviet propaganda aimed at making Communist and Nazi ideologies seem much more distinct than they actually were. The other was Allied propaganda aimed at much the same thing. It wouldn’t do, after all, to have people realize they were allied with a dictator every bit as vile as Hitler.

So in American and British media, the evil of the Nazis was played up, while the evil of the Communists was minimized where it couldn’t be silenced altogether. The Communist plants and fellow-travelers in both nations helped.

They were – and are – almost the same. Both demand an all-powerful state. The state determines who is deserving and provides for the deserving. The state dehumanizes the undeserving prior to eliminating them. The state determines the direction of industry (in the case of the Nazis, by requiring business owners to support the regime where the Communists took over the businesses). The state cares for you – but if you’re no use to the state, your care will be an unmarked grave in a prison camp/work camp/concentration camp/gulag. All hail the state.

And both regimes started by targeting those who were seen as deserving targets – criminals, Gypsies, degenerates, homeless… all while dehumanizing their other targets.

The biggest difference? The Nazis didn’t dehumanize everyone. They may have, if the regime had lasted. The Communists did. People belonged to their group. If it was a good group, they got better choices, better lives. If not, they got orders that their entire harvest was requisitioned and they didn’t eat.

In my view the real lesson to be taken from the rise of the Nazis is that evil is seductive and people will flock to power and happily dehumanize their neighbors if you sell it right. And, as Pratchett put it (via Granny Weatherwax), evil always starts with treating people as things.

Especially treating people as things.

Painted All In Tongues

I hate rumor.  Perhaps I hate it more because I grew up in a village.

The people who imagine villages are idyllic and every person in it loves the other like a brother or sister, have no knowledge of people — or reality.  Sure, in many villages in isolated places, most of the people there are related to some degree.  This was not true where I grew up, because the village was already in the process of exploding into a large-city suburb.  It wasn’t visible to me as a child, because it was so slow, and newcomers still took years to integrate, but it it had been going on for so long that the appellation of “aunt” given to any grown woman by any child was just courtesy, not truth.  Still, had we been all related, people who imagine that makes for harmonious living must have been only children and the children of only children.

No, never mind, I’m being silly.  Those people are actually enormous racists and oikophobes.  Hating their own home, they imbue places far away, particularly those inhabited by people who tan more than they do, with the qualities of heaven.  They also in the process make those people-who-tan (or as I always think when I’m the object of this type of thought, and yes, I am, it’s what enables them to think themselves my intellectual superiors a-priori “Little browns peoples”) less than human.  They (we) are not people with our own agency, and all the virtues and vices of mankind, but sort of little pets, perfect, well behaved and needing both the protection of our masters, the pale enlightened, and their pat on the head for how good we are.  (Most of the left’s ideas on “defeating colonialism” envision themselves as benevolent colonial masters.  In fact, the colonialism of Marxist ideas in Africa is what has made it hell on Earth, far worse than any colonial overseers could do.  By turning their best and brightest into Marxist apostles at our “finest universities” they get to send these ideas back to Africa.  There was some idea they would flourish there among people unsullied by greed and the wish to succeed individually (yes, it’s that racism again.  It is inherent in the left’s contrived “celebration” of black people, Kwanza, which is really a celebration of socialist principles.  And no, is in no way African.  It was invented in the US.  For one there isn’t such a thing as an “African” holiday.  The continent is as or more varied than Europe (because transport was near impossible for most of its existence, tribes and villages were very isolated indeed.))  It didn’t.  Instead it has made Africa worse than ever before.  And this was done by turning its favorite sons, its brightest sparks into poison pills.  Colonialist Marxism is appalling and responsible for the deaths of millions.  As is Marxism everywhere.)

Returning to villages: even though most of the people in the village worked with their hands and still conformed to traditional roles; even though most people not only knew you on sight, but could assign you to a family and an ancestor; even though the fields were fertile and most people “got along” one way or another and had for centuries, we were not the happy people of Brutopia.  Not even our quaint customs, such as making the roads tapestries of flowers for Easter, or having processions at night, which you watched from your window, or singing traditional songs at wine pressing, could make us like angels or automatons.

Rumor was rife in the village as in the science fiction community.  It should be.  Both are the province of women.  Not that men didn’t gossip/egg women on in the village, as they do in the science fiction community, but the men stupid enough to be seen doing it openly had a special name attached to them “Tricoteiros.”  It was not a complementary name.  And most men really didn’t get involved.  They merely went along with what their wives decided and decreed.  People who imagine women powerless in true patriarchal societies are out of their minds.  Once the “court of public opinion” which is largely female, makes a decision, men risk falling victim to it, should they not conform to its dictates.

And this is why I loathe and despise rumor, and will stand up for a victim of it, no matter how little I like him or her: or indeed how little I know him or her.  I will stand up for the victim, because rumor is a ridiculous way of ascertaining if someone should be “a part of society” (remember the charming moppets who said someone should be “cast out of society” for saying bad things) or if someone should have a job or if someone should be allowed to live somewhere in peace.

Because the one thing rumor is not concerned with is truth or true guilt, or even gradations of guilt.  Yes, perhaps everything rumor says is true.  Heaven knows it’s been known to happen, which is when people say “no smoke without fire” but they ignore all the times their stories and whispers were ALL wrong.

For instance, before I got married to Dan everyone knew (based on TRUST me little more than a resemblance in coloring) he was a baker from a neighboring village, whom I’d met in Italy.  What was true to this tissue?  Well, I was getting married and the year before, I was in Germany.  (I’m still confused as to how Italy got attached to it.)  Which was okay because I had no reputation to speak of.  The life I lived in gossip was far more interesting than my real life.  Having grown up as the “little sister” of my brother’s group of friends, they (and I) never paid any attention to the fact I was now past puberty.  This meant if they saw me trudging towards the train and they happened to be driving, they’d pick me up and take me where I was supposed to go (mostly college or home) and if they were at a coffee shop and I walked by, they’d call me to sit and grab a coffee and a pastry (which they paid for, as older siblings will.  Since my brother is around ten years older than I, most of them had jobs while I was in high school.)  BUT the gossips knew I was having affairs will all of them (what a busy critter I must have been, what with carrying a heavier-than-full-load of courses and tutoring on the side, all this while having boyfriends/fiances.  So when I got married, of course the best I could do was the baker from the nearby, poorer village.  (Rolls eyes.)  Which fortunately Dan couldn’t care less about, since when I told him the rumors he went off in whoops of laughter at the idea that his geeky, introverted fiance could ever be the village hussy.

But yeah, there was truth there at the root of it, since I had traveled a lot.  I had boyfriends/fiances, and I spent a lot of time with my brother’s friends.  None of which justified the tissue of lies attached to it.  And of course I could never justify/explain/tell them they were out of their rocking minds, because this was never said to my face, but was passed around the village in whispers, growing in the telling.  (They usually came back to me via cleaning ladies, or the cleaning ladies of friends.  Or grandma, when the rumors came to her attention and she dressed someone one down and told them they were out of their rocking minds.)

Take, for instance, the last time I went to Portugal and my mom was full of news that a gentleman in the village — one with four children, who had been married 30 years — was gay.  I was rather taken aback and asked how she knew this.  In this day and age, I’d expect something like “left his wife for his boyfriend” or, at the very least, “set his boyfriend up in a pink apartment with shag carpeting.”  The second of which, btw, could still be just rumor.  But no.  As I dug through to figure out where gossip started, the ENTIRE base of the rumor seemed to be “He bought cologne at the village pharmacy.”

Here you see, local prejudice, that is that real men don’t wear cologne, though teen boys might, plus rumor inflating into this man’s having a secret life/sexuality.  Now, while I don’t — unlike village biddies — think being gay equals moral turpitude, what this man was being accused of was not only being unfaithful to his wife, but being an awful father, who would subject his children to the type of opprobrium the village would rain on them, should this become known.

Is it possible the man is bi?  I don’t know.  I think I knew him growing up, but after the age of about 12 I spent most of my time in the city and in school, and at any rate, I have a LOUSY memory for faces. I remember the people who were close to my family and constants in my life, but the far reaches of the village scene never interested me enough to remember names and faces.  So the man might have lisped, dressed in pink with flounces, and fulfilled every stereotype of gay.  I don’t KNOW.  What I know is that the only thing solid they had to indicate he was gay (despite marriage and children, and yes, I’m aware gay men have married and had families, but in this day and age most don’t bother) is that he had bought cologne in the village pharmacy.  (Which is more like a drugstore.) Now on the basis of that, he, his children and his wife were looked at askance, and if his job had depended on the village biddies (it might.  I vaguely remember he was some sort of a tradesman) he would slowly lose his livelihood.  All without having the slightest clue why.

I pointed out to my mom that my dad wore cologne (old spice — still wears it.  So does younger son) his whole life, even if he had the good sense of not buying it in the village.  Did I convince her?  I doubt it.  You see, all her friends KNEW he was gay, and they knew his mannerisms, which they only now noticed, meant he was gay, and hadn’t he always dressed way too carefully?  And now they thought about it, his wife was ugly and had been an old maid when they married, so he must have wanted her as a beard.

Mom is not stupid.  But when her whole circle is saying something “there is no smoke without fire.” Which is how people are “judged” in the “court of public opinion” from which there is no appeal, and where they never even get to confront their opponents.

Now if you cross that “court of public opinion” with the SJW’s Will To Power and desire to declare what is good and sound, and the “cause of the week” that must be supported and the “offenders of the month” who must be shunned, what you get is the nightmarish situation we have in SF/F.

I won’t say that rumor in sf/f is a thing of the current idiotic left.  It has always been that way.  If you add up every professional who has ever sold enough to qualify as such — one novel or three short stories — you only have a few hundred people.  Even if you add in the people who qualify as pros under indie rules, you’re probably under five thousand.  Which is why the community of writers has always behaved like a village.  Rumors go around, whispered, hinted.  “So and so said this about you.”  “So and so is not a nice person.”  “So and so welshed on a promise” and “So and so is the wrong political color, don’t be seen with him/her.”

Like in the village, you’d find a desert around you, and you’d have no idea why.

In that sense, it is better now, with the internet. Because we can at least know what we’re accused of, and as hard as it is to combat, at least we’re somewhat aware.

Take the case of Sunil Patel.  Yep, he’s a puppy kicker.  Nope, I pretty much don’t agree with much of what he has said, and if I look closely, I might not agree with any of it, including “a” and “the.”

However, should he be losing work and a place in an anthology on the basis of rumors?  At the time the “scandal” broke some friends dug through it, and there seemed to be nothing in it except he “encouraged some female writers but couldn’t come through with contracts or career advancement.”  There was no hint that he had ever used promises of advancement for sex.  And the “gaslighting” seemed to be limited to “he told me I was good and should continue working.”

As with village rumors, I haven’t looked closely at it, but if my friends who in general don’t like the guy couldn’t find anything more substantial, that is probably all there is.  He “bought scent at the pharmacy, so we know” is what it amounts to, but with a feminist mean-girl spin.  And on such things a man is to be shunned and deprived of work.

And yep, he apologized, obsessively, if slightly confusedly, because he had no idea exactly what he was apologizing for.

The whole thing reminded me of the comment by Synova, some years back, about the Requires Hate situation,

“Some of the comments by people who had been subject to the full treatment just made me want to cry. I didn’t think it was funny because the guilty parties and enablers aren’t the ones who are hurt. Yes, we can scoff at Scalzi when he makes a rational counter-argument and is made, ultimately, to retract and abase himself and agree in public and start proselytizing in public that no… you really can’t trust your own brain and if something seems wrong to you or you feel like defending yourself it is simply proof that you’re guilty.

But there were people who reported rather severe PTSD type reactions to even sitting down at a keyboard to write because they were so terrified of offending… again. Because *rationally* they’d done nothing wrong the first time, but they were forced to an irrational acceptance of their guilt. So now they’ve “accepted their privilege” and “checked it” and confessed and repented (they could come to the Dark Side and be welcomed, but they don’t know that, and have been taught that the Dark Side is evil, and that’s why shunning is so very evil within closed communities… being exiled is a horrific punishment) but since they had NO IDEA how they could have done something wrong in the first place, they also have no idea how to avoid it the next time.

Imagine doing this to a child.

The kid is walking through a room doing nothing much and suddenly POW… and then you tell the kid… well that was YOUR fault. You screwed up. You stepped on that spot on the floor.

So the kid looks at the spot and it looks like every other spot. But the kid is told that, no, the fact that she can’t even SEE the spot is what the problem is. You can’t SEE the spot… that’s why it is YOUR fault. Also, a good child will try to learn. You’re a good child, aren’t you?

So the kid says, yes… it was my fault. I could not SEE the spot. Not seeing the spot makes this my fault.

Afterward, it’s still impossible to see the spots, and walking across the room becomes fraught with danger. Sitting down at the keyboard gives this very “good” person the shakes and panic attacks… where are the spots? She still can’t see the spots but she MUST agree and believe that those spots exist.

I have a LOT of sympathy for those who were hurt, just like I have sympathy for any abused person.”

Having grown up in the village, I TOO have a lot of sympathy with anyone who finds themselves on the receiving end of “the court of public opinion” where justice is not so much blind, as drunk, taking meth, and whoring on the side, all the while deciding your case.

Is it possible Sunil Patel really is a terrible misogynistic abuser?  Sure.  Everything is possible, within limits, and so many “liberal” males are awful to women.  BUT we have no evidence he was so.  Certainly not evidence firm enough to kick him out of anthos.

BUT the rumor has been repeated and repeated, until “everyone knows” he is a horrible person, whose presence would taint other authors.

Is the fact that he’s falling victim to something he encouraged a consolation?  Nope.  Because every time this happens, the social fabric is weakened, and in the case of our field, the art of writing science fiction is weakened.  If we’re picking people on the basis of being protected from rumor, we’ll publish/promote only those mean girls at the top of the pile.  For some reason malicious, power-hungry people are rarely the most creative.

Fortunately there is indie.  And my advice to anyone caught in this vicious rumor mongering is “leave the village. And when you must be there, ignore them.”

It’s what I did, back in the literal village.  And it worked.  Mostly I had no idea who people were, thanks to my spectacular memory for names and faces.  And when I heard the rumors they were so far fetched the only thing I could do was laugh at them.  (Still do.  I mean, some of those that have come back to me, about me, from the SF/F community are, not only counterfactual, but in one case would require me to be 20 years older, as it refers to my “motives” for coming to the US.  I mean, it’s like me meeting a baker from the next village in Italy where I’ve never been.)

The best revenge is to ignore them, write, and — if no one else will publish you — bring out your own stuff.  Believe it or not I know indies who are both more financially successful and have a greater fandom than traditionally published authors.  And my one indie books seems to prove it.

The reading public doesn’t care if you eat babies for breakfast.  They care if you can entertain them with a tale.  Or lift them up.  Or edify them.  Or, really, make them feel something strong that they REMEMBER.  And the authors who are remembered will survive to be read by future generations, while those who pulled themselves up by bullying tactics and “rehabilitated” themselves by kissing the right behinds, like, say, Requires Hate, will be deservedly forgotten.  Because the public at large also couldn’t care less about your stand in the tiny village of your profession.

So when rumor enters, painted all in tongues, send him to the right about.  Rumor has been weaponized by the left, to gain power an make sure opposing views aren’t even heard.  Ignoring them robs them of the power to do either, and sets us free.  Indie publishing is just the icing on the cake.

Let Madame Defarge and her cronies hiss and spit.  Living well is the best revenge.

They will come for us.  They already have and they’ll continue to do so.  But unlike those on their side, we are immune to the poison.  What are they going to do to me, after declaring me the worst person in the world?  What do you do for an encore after that?

So when they come for you, point and laugh and make duck noises.

This is all they have.  This is all they are.  This is all they can do.  They are rumor, painted all in tongues, and if we don’t fear them, they become figures of farce and theater.

And we carry on.  Because we build.  We write. We live.

And we have a future to create.

 

 

Just the Sunday Vignettes, Ma’am- by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

Just the Sunday Vignettes, Ma’am- by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

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

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

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is:
kindly

Golden Moments

As most of you know I’m buried under a book deadline, and having  asthma attacks that pretty much knock me flat.

I know why and they’re tied to anxiety about family members, some of them health related.  But that doesn’t diminish the stress.

And yet there are golden moments.

What are golden moments?  When you get older, and have lived enough, you find most of your memories slide into this kind of haze “this type of day” is much like another type of day.  Unless you’re ten (and even then) if I ask you what you did on Thursday last week, you’re likely to get a blank.

Golden moments are the times you remember, the ones that stand out.  They’re not always what you’d expect, and they’re often not something that would work for anyone else.

My most obvious one, that comes to mind before even receiving the Prometheus, is the day we discovered Lakeside amusement park.  For those not in the area, it’s a seedy amusement park.  Some days, if they dropped a bomb in that killed all those who spoke Spanish as a primary language, only my family would be left alive.

But it’s perfect for us, because I hate most rides.  (Inner ear is wonky.  Being spun or shaken makes me deeply uncomfortable.  I don’t pay to be uncomfortable.)  We often had a coupon to get in free, the kids and Dan would get all day passes to the rides (the last time we went some years ago it was $15, but when we started going I think it was $7) And I got $2 worth of tickets to the merry go round and the train, which we did at the end of the day.

That first time we discovered the park — because I watched a documentary on the wooden roller coaster — it was all magical.  it was a perfect day, just warm enough.  The boys were five and two.  They’d never been to an amusement park.  We stayed there till ten pm and then had late dinner. I’ll always remember that day, and the way the kids laughed (they still had baby-laugh.)

Another is when I was very depressed and Dan told me to get my coat, and we drove (then an hour and a half) for a walk in City Park.  It was unexpected, it was fun, it was very romantic.

The other was this week, when Dan said “Are you making a great deal of headway?”

I said, no.  He said “Come on.”  So we went out in his convertible (older than the boys, I think.)  And we went out for a walk by the lake and a light dinner (appetizers and salad. ) The sun was up, the day was warm, and I was with my love.  That too is a golden moment.

Today is a rather difficult day, as I had an asthma attack this morning, and I’m trying to clean and work at the same time, which is like juggling chainsaws.  But we had a nice leisurely brunch together, and well… it might still turn out to be a golden moment.

This last week made me all too aware that not only time passes, but that we never know how much we have.  I don’t know if there’s eternity, but I have a gut feeling there is.  Surely the golden moments go with us.

Go make your own.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Careful What You Ask For – E. Marshall Hoyt

Be Careful What You Ask For – E. Marshall Hoyt

SWITZERLAND
That’s the counter to use against liberals on healthcare!
Liberals hold the firm belief that healthcare is a right, and that every citizen should have healthcare, regardless of circumstance.
If they support the government telling everyone they need healthcare, surely they approve of Switzerland, which basically requires all males own a gun?
Surely if they are so keen to adopt European policy, we should enforce gun ownership as much as they want to enforce healthcare.
They believe that healthcare is a right, and I believe- Nay, I KNOW because unlike healthcare the constitution agrees with me- that gun ownership is a right.
Surely we must enforce ALL things that are “Moral, and an obvious right”
It is your right to be protected from unreasonable search and seizure- surely to enforce this we must keep citizen’s surrounding in check. To watch over their lives and assure that no one goes against that right.
I have heard many think that having a roof, food, and decent wages is the bare minimum that anyone deserves. Perhaps the government should buy you your house, your food, and give you a job itself, so it can pay you a wage.
But of course liberals already believe in that- Shelters, welfare, and New Deal jobs- meant to keep people busy, but not productive.
Surely the government should dictate more- how many children you have, how many luxuries you purchase, and of course in order to enforce free speech, the government would have to outline what you can’t say, else you infringe on other’s “free” speech.
Of course we’ve seen societies much like this before. We’ve seen them rise and fall. We’ve seen them build on the apparent displeasure and will of the people. The leaders of these movements, always harangue people until they believe they’ve been conned out the basic necessities of living. Necessities that should be theirs simply for existing.
But these societies, full of people who think they are bending the government to their will to give them what they want, only extended the power and reach of their governments.
Soon their lives were not their own, no more choices, no more freedoms, under the clever guise of “The people”, because they did indeed at one time ask for all of this.
They just didn’t understand what they were asking for.