HRC: Making History – Amanda S. Green

HRC: Making History – Amanda S. Green

No matter what you think about Hillary Rodham Clinton, she did make history in 2016 by being the first woman to be a major political party’s nominee for president. It is also something she isn’t about to let us forget. It is a major theme in What Happened. A theme she repeats over and over and over again.

I’ll admit, when I saw she had a chapter entitled “Making History”, my first thought was to sneer at her ego. Then I had to actually admit she had a point. With that reminder of my own feelings about her in mind, I took another look at the chapter and the one that followed. Now, before you start worrying, it didn’t change much.

For a change, she actually begins by talking about the campaign. In this case, the Democratic Convention and the weeks leading up to it. “The delegate count hadn’t been in question since March, but Bernie had hung on to the bitter end, drawing blood wherever he could along the way. I somewhat understood why he did it, after all, I stayed in the race for as long as I could in 2008. But that race was much closer, and I endorsed Barack right after the last primary. On this day in New York, Bernie was still more than a month away from endorsing me.” (pg 244)

Of course, the delegate count hadn’t been in question, especially when you look at the super delegates. However, if what we’ve been told about the “fix” is true, Bernie didn’t know he’d been stabbed in the back by the party. He didn’t know HRC was going to be the candidate, no matter what. So why would he have conceded when there were still delegates out there to be had?

And HRC acknowledged the role these “super” delegates played in the nomination. In case you aren’t familiar with who these delegates are and how they impact the election process, HRC gives us an insight. They are “the party leaders who join delegates selected in primaries and caucuses in choosing the nominee at the convention.” (pg. 245) These delegates are unpledged. In other words, they can vote for whomever they want at the national convention. In 2016, they made up approximately 15% of the delegates casting votes at the Democratic Convention. So, yeah, the fix was in and I firmly believe Clinton knew well before the final primaries that she would be the nominee based on the fact super delegates exist and she would have that extra 15% margin of votes.

As she writes about finally realizing she would be the Democratic nominee, HRC said, “I was now all that stood between Donald Trump and the White House. . . I was about to become the first woman ever nominated by a major party for President of the United States. That goal has been so elusive for so long. Now it was about to be real.” (pg. 246)

Wow. SHE was the only thing standing between Trump and the White House. Not the voters. Not Trump himself. Her. Ego much?

And there we have it again, she was making history. I’d happily give that to her if she hadn’t soon followed it by this:

I was torn. I wanted to be judged on what I did, not on what I represented or what people projected onto me. But I understood how much the breakthrough would mean to the country, especially to girls and boys who would see that there are no limits on what women can achieve. I wanted to honor that significance. I just didn’t know the best way to do it. (pg 247)

She didn’t want to be judged by what she represented? Then why did she keep telling us every time she could that she was the first woman to be nominated by a major party? For that matter, why does she continue, page after page and chapter after chapter, bringing up the fact? My objection to the above quote goes further. Why is she only worried about letting the “girls and boys” see “there are no limits on what women can achieve”? I’ll tell you why. Because, despite her protestations, she wanted the election to be one of male vs female and not one about who the best candidate was. Otherwise, why wasn’t she trying to show our children that there are no limits on what anyone can achieve, no matter what their sex, race, creed or anything else?

As you probably guessed by now, she spends time in this chapter painting then-candidate Donald Trump as divisive and, well, evil. “He wanted Americans to fear one another and the future.” (pg 249) I don’t know about you, but I remember Trump talking bluntly about what problems the country faced. I didn’t always agree with him. Hell, I often disagreed with him. But I also remember Clinton and her supporters being the ones talking about how we would have blood running in the streets if Trump was elected. They were the ones who tried to promote fear and distrust. So, at best, this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. Except HRC won’t see it and certainly will never admit it.

There’s more of the same in the chapter but most of it all revolves around the same theme: I still believe that, as I’ve said many times, advancing the rights and opportunities of women and girls is the unfinished business of the twenty-first century. That includes one day succeeding where I failed and electing a woman as President of the United States. (pg 257) Wow, “the unfinished business”. Not fighting poverty. Not finding alternative energy sources. Not building better relations with our allies or ending the hostilities in the Middle East. Not even healing racial wounds that are still so prevalent in this country. But she didn’t want to be judged on what she represented – the first woman to be nominated by a major political party.

Riiiiight.

But it gets better. Or worse, depending on your point of view. The next section of the book bears the title “Frustration” and HRC doesn’t hold back. Not. One. Bit. Her frustration and anger – let’s be honest, her bitterness – at not being elected are plain to see. Any doubts I might have had about it were dispelled with the first couple of paragraphs of the new chapter, “Country Roads”.

“We’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” Stripped of their context, my words sounded heartless.” (pg 265) Anyone following the election remembers that statement. HRC is right about one thing. That comment made the rounds and Trump’s camp used it to their advantage. HRC is right about something else, we weren’t always given the full context of the quote. Not that it matters nearly as much HRC wants us to believe.

First, she still refuses to admit she screwed up with the comment. Instead, she called it “unfortunate” (pg 265). She contends that, had we listened to her entire comment, “my meaning comes through reasonably well.” (pg 266) Reasonably well. I don’t know about you, but that sounds like she knows she screwed the pooch but is blaming us for taking her at her word and not reading her mind. But let’s look at the quote.

Instead of dividing people the way Donald Trump does, let’s reunite around policies that will bring jobs and opportunities to all these underserved poor communities. So, for example, I’m the only candidate who has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into Coal Country. Because we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right, Tim? And we’re going to make it clear that we don’t want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories. Now we’ve got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don’t want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on. (pg 264)

So, did she say she’d put the coal miners out of work? Yep. She most certainly did. Oh, she says she doesn’t want to forget about them but she doesn’t say what she is going to do to help them when she closes down the mines and takes away their jobs. She doesn’t say what she will do about the towns that will be decimated by her actions or what will happen to those companies she planned on putting out of business. In fact, all she did was tell these proud people that they were no longer important in her plan. At best, she would put them on the dole. Is it any wonder they didn’t take well to her words?

She “felt absolutely sick” (page 265) because they didn’t understand what she meant. In other words, they understood what she said and that was a big oops!, not that she’d admit it. She blames Fox News for playing the quote. She blames the media for being hard on her for it and not for being hard on Trump each time he said something “offensive” or for “garbling a thought”. (pg 266) Poor HRC, to hear her say it, she got punished for “being too cautious and careful with her words”.

Except this time she was neither. In fact, to prove she still doesn’t understand what she did with that comment, she later calls it her “gaffe”. (pg 270) Yet again, she simply can’t admit she might have misread her audience and made a mistake.

Usually when I meet people who are frustrated and angry, my instinctive response is to talk about how we can fix things. That’s why I spent so much time and energy coming up with new policies to create jobs and raise wages. But in 2016 a lot of people didn’t really want to hear about plans and policies. They wanted a candidate to be as angry as they were and they wanted someone to blame. . .  but I’ve always thought it’s better for leaders to offer solutions instead of just more
anger. . .

Unfortunately, when the resentment level is through the roof your answers may never get a hearing from the people you want to help most. (pg 272)

Oh my. I don’t know whether to say, “Bless her heart” or tell her to grow the fuck up. There are so many things wrong with her comment. Things that, if she possessed at least a little self-introspection or empathy would have given her answers. Not once does she consider that, before offering “solutions”, she needs to understand the anger and frustration. Instead, she basically blames the people for not wanting to hear what she had to say.

“Since the election, I’ve spend a lot of time thinking about why I failed to connect with more working class whites . . . The most prominent explanation, though an insufficient one on its own, is the so-called war on coal” (pg 273) Wait, what? Does she really believe this is one of the main reasons why she didn’t connect with “working class whites”? Is she delusional?

The answer to that is possibly. She blames the Obama Administration for not  being more proactive in fighting the perception that the government was trying to kill the coal industry (pg 274). And then we get to the real heart of what she feels is wrong with those voters she couldn’t connect with.

After John Kerry lost to George W. Bush in 2004, the writer Thomas Frank popularized the theory that Republicans persuaded whites in places like West Virginia to vote against their economic interests by appealing to them on cultural issues – in other words, “gays, guns, and God.” There’s definitely merit in that explanation. . . Then there’s race. (pg 274)

She so conveniently forgets that man Bill talked to her about earlier in the book. The one from Arkansas who said he was going to vote Republican because he knew they’d screw him but he’d given up on the Democrats after years of waiting for them to do as they promised only to see them do the opposite. She ignores the fact that “gays, guns and God” is a vast oversimplification of the importance of religion and 2nd Amendment rights to much of America. And, just to be sure she covers everything, she has to throw in race.

Not once does she ask herself why these are important to the voters. Not once does she consider how what she said during the campaign, or before, would make voters uncomfortable. Nope, far from it. They weren’t enlightened enough to understand what she wanted to do, so they were the problem. She might not come right out and say it but it is clear that she blames these working class whites for not voting for her.

Here’s a telling quote on several levels. “There’s a tendency toward seeing every problem as someone else’s fault, whether it’s Obama, liberal elites in big cities, undocumented immigrants taking jobs, minorities soaking up government assistance – or me.” (pp 276-277). She is so quick to assign this anger and finger-pointing to conservatives and yet she fails to see that she is doing just that sort of assignment of blame to everyone who did not fall all over themselves to get her elected.

Trump brilliantly tapped into all these feelings, especially with his slogan: Make America Great Again. . .What he meant was: “You can have the old America back one I vanquish the immigrants, especially Mexicans and Muslims, send the Chinese products back, repeal Obamacare, demolish political correctness, ignore inconvenient facts, and pillory Hillary along with all the other liberal elites.” (pg 277)

OMG. Not 20 or so pages earlier, she bitched and moaned because people held her to her words. Now she wants us to condemn Trump based on what she tells us he said. She ignores the fact he didn’t want to deport every immigrant. No, he wanted our immigration laws followed and enforced. He wanted to make sure trade agreements were fair and not tilted against America’s best interests. You get what where I’m going with this. So now it is not only Trump’s fault for being unenlightened but ours for voting for him.

Not convinced? “How do we help give people in rural counties such as Mingo and McDowell a fighting chance? The most urgent need right now is to stop the Trump Administration from making things a whole lot worse.” (pg 281) How? How is he making it worse for them than the Obama Administration did? But, a more basic question is why is she writing about this in a book that is supposed to be about the 2016 presidential campaign?

The more I read of the book, the more I find myself wondering why HRC wrote it. This is not a book about the campaign. Not really. What it reads like is the opening salvo for another political campaign or, perhaps, for a bid to be named as an important political appointee. The one thing I am sure about is how glad I am that the American voters did not elect her. “But I wish I could have found the words or emotional connection to make them believe how passionately I wanted to help their communities and families.” (pg 287) She knew from her 2008 campaign that voters didn’t feel connected to her. She knew from the media she was seen as an ice princess, cold, etc. But she couldn’t figure out how to get her message across. How in the hell would she have been able to do so as president if she couldn’t do so as candidate?

We dodged the bullet, in my opinion.

Next up, we get to see what she has to say about her emails. Won’t that be fun?

(You can find the other installments in this series at the following links: What Happened or How I Suffered for this Blog and had to ShareGrit and GratitudeHRC Gets Caught TryingA New Deal, A Square Deal or How She Wanted to be the Next RooseveltIt’s All His Fault, Turning Mourning into a Movement and HRC: Idealism and Realism.)

[I know this is hard to watch, imagine what it must be like to read the book.  If you want to help finance Amanda’s liquor bill, use this address  Send the woman a drink-SAH]

Let There Be Light

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Let there be light!

For a while I used to annoy my mom, whenever she asked me to turn on the light by saying “Fiat Lux” while doing it.  Anyway..

Other than my twerpy teen self, moving right along,

Yesterday I indulged in an annual fun trip and Dan and I went to the botanic gardens to see blossoms of light, their winter illumination show.

First, I must now be full blown introvert.  Well, I think I always was, because first week of school used to exhaust me so much I slept all the time I wasn’t in school, but I was more used to enduring human contact than now that I’m a bummish writer who spends most of her time in her office with imaginary friends.

I found I enjoyed the light show much less this year when it was warm and really busy than last year, when it was bitter cold, and the gardens were — therefore — almost empty.

But all the same, it’s a beautiful experience, all that light, in the darkness of mid-winter, and it is in many ways amazing.

Amazing?

Well, when i was a kid, if you could have transported 10 year old Sarah there, she’d never have wanted to leave.  You might have to knock her out to drag her away.

I remember being starved for light.

Sure, we had electricity, but it mostly amounted to either a light in the middle of the ceiling, lost in a vast realm of shadows, or little side lamps that put out as much light as a night light.

I remember walking through the dark to my grandmother’s house, and CRAVING light.

I remember dad taking me to the lighting of the lights in downtown Porto and thinking it was magical (and by our standards it wasn’t lit up at all.)

Light.

You usually can see the Hoyt house from space.

I have a tendency to turn on every light, and not want to turn them off.

At this season, I could just drive around the most gaudy neighborhoods and revel.  Too much is not enough.  Give me light.

In the whole extent of mankind, we are so incredibly fortunate to live now, when we have the technology and the the wealth to turn night into day, to fill the darkness with dazzling light.

Yes, I do understand “light pollution” can keep you from seeing the stars, though calling it pollution is silly.  It’s not like it sticks around when the source is turned off.

But if you really crave seeing the stars either move out in the middle of nowhere, or drive there now and then.  Don’t try to make everyone keep in the dark for your benefit.

As for “earth hour” when you turn off every light, don’t talk to me about that abomination.  These people’s ancestors’ who huddled in the dark waiting for day break would slap the ignorant idiots for heresy.

Light IS civilization.  Arguably we became modern humans once we controlled fire, once we came near the fire.  Even our domestication of animals like the cat, can be described as “they came close to the human fire.”

Those people who hate light, hate civilization.  And where they get to rule, you get the dark poverty of North Korea.

While I live, I’ll strive to live in the light, to make light (real and metaphorical) and to carry light with me.

For each of us, and for our species as a whole, it will be dark enough in the grave.

While we live, let’s live in light.

Fiat Lux.

The Spheres of Heaven

My country of origin kept a (very bastardized) expression from the Moors that occupied the land for centuries: Oxala, the Portuguese version of Insh Allah and roughly translated as it’s used as “May it be G-d’s will” (rather than, “if Allah wants it.”)

It seems brazen, like walking around naked, to say “Tomorrow I’m going for a walk” without adding “G-d willing.”  The most simple predictions, of the most trivial nature “I think tomorrow we’ll go to the beach” get a “G-d willing” appended to it, because if I said “oxala” people might take it wrong.

Now, I’m not stupid — most of the time — and I’m 55.  This means I’ve seen a lot of “Man poses, G-d disposes” or “I can’t believe this happened to me” both good and bad.  On the balance, for me, good.  I’m a highly improbable creature, on a highly improbable life path (starting with still being alive at all) and so far so good.

But at the same time I know what that “can’t predict/can’t be sure” in reality — not just, you know, giving Himself his due to change plot on a dime — can do to a mind.

For years as a traditionally published writer, I experienced total and complete lack of control.

Sure, I could write the best book I could, and I neurotically did that over and over again.  Neurotically?  Well, madness is after all doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

But the thing was, once it left my hands, it was … out of my hands, quite literally.

The ones most extensively twisted-by-editing with the Magical British Empire books, part of the reason they aren’t out yet, because my “go over” for a writers’ edition amounts to a rewrite.  (Yes, I know.  But the files I have are… interesting.  I don’t seem to have a final/delivered file.  Don’t ask.  I think in the dozens of back and forth editing exchanges, I overwrote it.)  But all of them could be twisted.  Words are plastic (in the sense of malleable) and if someone inserts the wrong thing at the wrong time… it can change the whole sense of the book.  And yeah, sure, copyedits and page proofs are supposed to be run by the author.  But often they’re not.  And often, in the round robin of a publishing house, things appear in the book that weren’t there at “final” viewing of typeset pages.

For instance, in my Shakespeare books, there was an entire paragraph added, heaven only knows why, of someone’s idea of Elizabethan English.  It didn’t add to the plot.  It ddn’t add to character.  It was just someone’s bright, last minute idea.  And this person thought that “illiterate grammar mistakes” was the equivalent of “Elizabethan English.”

Now, I can honestly say stuff — I’m sure — gets through my final reading of page-proofed manuscripts.  By that time I’m on my 11th or 12th go round of the book, and in traditional rhythms it usually lands on my desk as I’m nearing the climax of the current book and running a week behind.  I’m sure that’s how I missed someone at Baen changed one of Simon St. Cyr’s names to Michelle from Michel (probably a spell check thing, honestly combined with not knowing Michael is spelled differently in French.)  Those are minor, won’t make or break a book, and just get me half a dozen letters from fans saying “change this.”  (I can’t guys.)

But that paragraph?  No way in hell I’d have missed it.  No. Way. In. Hell.  I about hit the roof when I found it while casually flipping through the printed book.  (I don’t normally read my published books unless I’m preparing to write more in the series, aka “reading myself into the world.”)

Also edits…  Until five years ago, with a short story, and probably because I was on the verge of killing myself with an ear infection, while trying to prepare to teach a workshop, I never talked back to an edit. My mind had this setting that went “I’m ESL, so if they change wording, they’re probably right.”  And also “they are paying for it.  If they want it purple, I’ll do it.”

But mostly, really, I wanted to be known as “easy to work with” so my career wouldn’t end.

Has that stopped?  Not totally.  The awareness there’s indie makes a difference, though.  When the first publishers of Sword and Blood gave the book to a “volunteer” to edit and she kept doing crazy stuff like correcting my French using some online translator (I no longer have the confidence to SPEAK French to French people — though it would probably be solved by reading in French for a month or so, if I had the time — but I do have a bachelor’s in French via some French college’s Portuguese outpost (I don’t remember which university.  It’s been 26 years since I used it professionally.  Heck, until last month I hadn’t told my husband I also had an equivalent of a BA in Italian from the University of Milan.  It never came up, and also I never need to show the diploma.  Until we tripped on it while cleaning my closet. Anyway, my Italian, like my Swedish is really gone.  I can still READ in Italian, but can’t even start to speak it.) BUT I guarantee to you that my French is better than some online translator program.  Also, (I ran into that in a recent edit, again) if I use a word in French, I mean that word, not whatever you think is more likely.  This particularly editor of Sword and blood also decided I should change all the musketeer names, and not even to the names that people think are “right” because these people were the “inspiration” of the musketeers (look, inspiration and fictional characters are not the same.  For one the inspirations were ALL Gascons and cousins.  Clearly this is not the case in The Three Musketeers.  Where the only one of the four with a first name is Aramis.)  No, this special bunny had “researched” via google, and wanted me to give them the first names they’d been assigned in a 1920’s silent movie.  She was also upset because I didn’t seem to know that Porthos had been a pirate.

That particular edit got returned to sender with a rhino-blistering letter, and they actually rolled it back.

But by then I’d been swallowing just as preposterous edits and editorial letters for years, because after all they were paying for it, never mind my name was on the cover.  (And oh, the reviews I got sometimes, after Amazon became a thing. On errors not-mine.)

So, there’ s that.  There’s also cover, over which we midlisters had no say, and even most bestsellers didn’t really have any control.  There’s distribution and push, which means that in the nineties especially, when publishing houses got to tell the bookstores how many books to take of each title, you know… you could be published and never see your book in a bookstore, ever.  (The Musketeer’s Seamstress and The Musketeer’s Apprentice.  And no, according to my statements it wasn’t because Death of A Musketeer didn’t sell.  It’s because in the four months between traditional publishing decided that historical mysteries didn’t sell.)

So you could write the best book possible, but after that it was all “Oxala.”  And your entire career rode on it.  And you had no control.  None.  In the long view of things, actually, whether the story was great didn’t even count that much for sales.  There were any number of “pushed” bestsellers where you facepalmed so hard all the way through that you looked like a domestic abuse victim.

Sometime in the oughts I read a book on overcoming burn out.  And the first advice was “Find a way to take control of your career.”  I laughed, and laughed, then I put it down.

Now there’s indie.  We have that control, right?

We have more control, sure.  And I appreciate it, but it’s still a chaotic system with a million unknown variables.  At least, though, no one can tell you your career is over.  And you don’t need to walk on eggshells.  There is always a third or fourth or fifth chance.  Change your name, try another subgenre.  You can always start again.

Of course, in the meanwhile and while you’re learning the ropes, you can eat pretty lean.

I think this is part of the reason my old-pro friends are having so much trouble with the change. Sure, it’s freedom, but it’s also being alone, bare to the world, with nothing to back you up, nothing to hide behind.

My friends in the fiction world are not the only ones running scared.

My journalist friends are half and half.  The younger ones are thriving, writing for various sites, moving fast.  The older ones are bitter, lost, sometimes giving up on their (traditional journalism) profession completely.

These are the fields I know well, but it’s hitting EVERYTHING.  Non-fiction writing, sure, but also … well, everything, including apparently retail.

Information technology is changing the way we live, the way we work, the way we do business.

Sometimes the in-between forms, particularly where government gets its nose in, is practically non-functional.  But by and large the more personal, more individual, information-rich new economy is a freeing one.

And yet people are scared, people are losing their minds.

The human animal is not a rational one.  I know that, from myself.  Even things that I know are hurting me, if they’re established ways of doing business/living are hard to leave behind.  You mourn the old way of life, even when it sucked.

But the times they are achanging.  The wheel in the sky is turning a little faster these days.

Those who do best are those with multiple streams of income, who keep it agile, keep it adaptive.

They are the mammals as the meteor nears.

Be a mammal.  You might sometimes scurry in the undergrowth, but you’ll survive.

Keep moving, keep abreast of new conditions, cultivate multiple streams of income.

And don’t give up.  Never give up.

Places of Power

There are individual places of power, places when you just feel right, places that recharge you.

I know most of you are going to say something about majestic redwood forests or some such, but well… different strokes for different folks.

After deciding at 8 that when I grew up I was going to live in Denver and be a writer (and keep in mind that my geography was so great at the time that I actually thought Denver was by the sea.  I might have had it confused with Dover…) I found that there are places in Denver that are “places of power” for me.

Perhaps they were invested with extra power by being visited when we had a “vacation” with the kids, when they were little, but there’s very few times when I’m depressed and dragging that can’t be made way better by taking me to walk around the lake in city park, or to the natural history museum, or to Pete’s.  Perhaps Pete’s most of all.  It’s not unheard of for us, in the middle of an otherwise normal evening, to go to Pete’s for coffee.

As for power… well, going there restores my mood and I feel better, more able to cope.

Most individual places of power are like that, but not all.  I don’t have any bad feelings/memories associated with any particular place, but I know people who do.  Returning to one of those places might be traumatic for people.

In the same way civilizations have places of power, good and bad.  I once had dinner where the founding fathers discussed revolution, and it had a feeling of energy and excitement.

In the same way I have heard people describe sites of great disasters or worse of evil events, like the death camps, or the pyramids of Mexico, as places where even the birds won’t sing, and things feel odd and hushed and depressing.  The same has been described of battle sites of WWI, for instance.

How much of that is because we know what happened there?  How much because there is something that attaches to a place where mass death occurred in quantities?

Whether you believe that there have been other civilizations we don’t even remember, in the potentially 250k years we’ve been human (again, these would have to be either bronze age level or so much more advanced than ours that they returned the Earth to pristine condition when they left, and only some troglodytes, our ancestors, stayed behind.  Either is POSSIBLE, but I’d bet on a lot of the first kind) the truth is even in the history and pre-history we do know, there are tons of such places that have potentially been forgotten.  Some we’ll have forgotten the location, (no one quite knows where the battle Cannae took place, for instance) and some that it even occurred.  One of the things humans have always been good at is batch lot slaughter and genocide, often for what the people doing it believe are laudable reasons.

Would those places also feel hushed, strange, weird?

The fact is that there are some places in which most people experience a feeling of oppression and even some of the other strange things “being avoided by birds and animals” and magnetic issues, for no reason at all that we can figure out.  And most people just sort of avoid it.

I don’t know exactly where I’m going with this — Havey is now sick, and we spent a disturbed night, other than having to clean bathroom and carpet when I woke up because Euclid-cat has old age incontinence — except that if you find a place in a highly populated area and no one has built on it for centuries, don’t.  You might not feel the unease until you’re living in it full time.  (Aka my parents’ house.  And judging from things we’ve unearthed while setting in gardens, etc, probably ancient battle site, Romans vs Celts.)

It fascinates me: the idea that places where great evil occurred have been forgotten, and yet something lingers to tingle the back of our conscious.

The same way of our being gone for so long and our civilization so thoroughly obliterated that what we sense as unclean places are forgotten disturbs me in a way I can’t even explain.

Perhaps it is the fate of humanity to again and again build civilization, which gets forgotten along with all its sins and glories…  only to tickle the unquiet the dreams and the restless senses of those of their descendants who don’t even have any idea of their existence.

 

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike & Promo to the Left of me, Promo to the Right – by Free Range Oyster

*Sorry this is late.  I actually did have technical difficulties with WP.  Also, okay, I’m a little afraid of this week’s word for the vignette.  What were they thinking?  – SAH*

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

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

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

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: leather

Promo to the Left of me, Promo to the Right – by Free Range Oyster

I’ve nothing witty to say, so rather than attempt and get only half way, let me say that you are a wonderful bunch of folks, and I hope you enjoy these books. All hail the Beautiful but Evil Space Princess! As always, future entries for the promo post can (and should!) be sent to the new email that I messed up last time! Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

Muse Denier, Shenanigan Enabler, Totally Not a Vegetable

TL Knighton

Sabercat

Tommy Reilly Chronicles Book 1

Despite his rich-kid roots, Tommy Reilly is struggling to make it as a freighter captain. Despite a universe of possibilities, he finds himself running afoul of both pirates and corrupt bureaucrats who seem determined to get in his way at every point. It’s like karma for his bullying past is smacking him in the back of the head.

All of that changes when a figure from his past asks for his help.

Now he’s finding himself at odds with a greedy and overly ambitious business owner who has government backing who happens to be the same man who impounded the very load he needs on his ship. The fact that the load is only the first step in securing information that could bring down the status quo might have something to do with that, however.

Tommy and his crew of misfit rejects have to use skills most of them would rather forget to secure their load, all with eyes watching them everywhere.

Alma TC Boykin

Grasping for the Crowns

The Powers Book 2

Armies and peoples clash and the Powers stir.

The war that began in 1914 grinds through 1916, tearing apart countries and families. István Eszterházy struggles to keep his family fed and his House intact, as British, Italian, and now American treachery threatens to rip the Habsburg Empire asunder. The war is winnable, but the peace the Entente demands could undo centuries of work.

And the land itself stirs as the Powers, poisoned by hatred and fed by war, begin to move. Caught between Pannonia and Galicia, between his family and his liege, István must find a way through. Or the entire empire may collapse around him.

Francis Porretto

Innocents

A novel of the Onteora Canon, set in the very near future. Genetic engineering and zygotic microsurgery have produced both wonders and horrors. Wonders such as drugs tailored to attack a specific disease in a specific sufferer, or surgery to eliminate genetically borne handicaps before mitosis can begin. Horrors such as blindness or deafness deliberately inflicted upon unborn babies, or pitiable creatures whose bodies and minds are warped to satisfy the whims of wealthy perverts.

Security specialist Larry Sokoloff is on vacation far from home, straining to forget a woman he loves but cannot have, when Fountain, a teenaged escapee from a malevolent institution, comes under his protection. What he learns of her nature and origins lays bare the darker face of the Janus of biotechnology, and catapults him and his colleague Trish McAvoy into a mission of vengeance and cleansing. For adults only.

JD Beckwith

eConscience Beta

Peacekeeper Incorporated’s breakthrough nanotechnology could bring repeat offense crime to an end, freeing society from the need for criminal incarcerations. But first, they have to finish testing it. With funding on the line, and time to prove out the project getting short, the lead scientist must find a way speed things up. That’s unfortunate for his guinea pig, and anyone who would stand in his way.

Can the goal of ending most crime justify committing one… even a few?

And what happens when you conflate altruism with egotism?

Find out in eConscience Beta, where two lab techs and an uncouth petty criminal must outwit a brilliant but sociopathic scientist who’ll stop at nothing to establish his legacy as the man who ended crime.

 

The Writer Is Lazy

There might be more Grant this weekend.  Then again there might not.

The good news is that I’m better, and Greebo is ALMOST as good as new.  The bad news (or probably part of the good news) is that I just feel like sleeping a lot, and I get this sense it’s part of the healing, so maybe I should?

Also, we probably should either decorate or put a sign upfront saying our religion doesn’t celebrate Christmas, before the neighbors get pissed.  In that case, I’d need an sfnal religion, so they can’t check, and I don’t feel like making one up.

Of course, yes, this is a disadvantage of living in the suburbs.  It is what it is.

I have other stuff I need to do, including trying out some software, but I thought I’d just chill and maybe nap.

I’m sorry about being a lazy blogger, but sometimes this stuff hits.

At War With Reality

I’m a bookish person — I know, astound you — who lives at least ninety percent of the time in her own head.  This led to some really weird times in my childhood, where I could see the ideal world so clearly but it just didn’t mesh with reality.  So I would say things like “money should be abolished” because you know, people should just trade for what they needed.

I was never stupid enough to believe top-down control would work to give to each according to their needs, and I didn’t even believe a computer could do it, because I was you know, reading science fiction and so primed for “how this goes wrong” even before I understood the concept of GIGO. (I.e. he who controls the computer, controls the world.)

But I also could see, as every bookish, idealistic kid can, the chasm between what people deserve and what they, by and large, get.

I was, of course, also not very clued in to the real world, so if someone say wasn’t doing too well at work, to me that was the most unfairest thing ever, not realizing that in a complex adult life there’s always something that is far less than perfect.  The older I get the more I give thanks on bended knee that the area of my life that’s always been less than perfect is the career and the area of life that’s close to wholly satisfactory is my marriage and my kids.  Because, screw the world, and my oeuvre, I’d sacrifice them all and the price of a cup of coffee besides if it means my kids would be all right.

Of course, even there there’s no guarantees.  There’s never any guarantees.

The cry of “but it isn’t fair” is an infant (or bookish adolescent) cry, because as you grow up you realize the world is way more complex than that.  Way more complex.

You can’t eliminate money, because the world is not the village, and there are trades far more complicated than a chicken for a large sack of onions.  Money is an imperfect means of exchange, because humans are imperfect beings.  But it is the best way to retain and transport value, until you’re ready to trade.  And it gives way more flexibility to a trade than “what I have on hand right now” for “what you have on hand right now”

I mean in what other way could my distributed fans pay me for my stories with the result of whatever the heck they do for a living, including but not limited to healing the sick.  Even I am not always sick.  Even a doctor doesn’t always need a story told.

I think I realized that around 14.  It always surprises me when other people don’t, and when they keep looking for different ways to distribute wealth than “what I have for what I want.”  Even if what you have is your time, or your company.  Marx’s crazy is that someone, someone else, extraneous to each individual making the exchange should control all the exchanges.  Worse, a group of someone’s should.

I’m not sure where he got that stupid idea, given that he too was a bookish man, and therefore probably not happy with crowds.  I think perhaps it was the gregarious Engels’ idea, and Marx went along with it, because like the perfect grifter, he couldn’t disappoint his patron.

Also being bookish and educated, both of them had the strange admiration of intellectuals for those they assume to be brutes, all want and muscle.  Frankly it would have been better for civilization if both of them had dissipated that bullsh*t in a physical way by tumbling a muscular, illiterate wench or three.  Oh, wait, Marx did that with the household help, and produced a son who was a carpenter, and therefore much more useful than his poisonous daddy who never recognized him (of course.  I mean, why would he admit to fathering a son with the maid?)

Marx’s successors and worshipers have invested that power of the crowd the only way it can be invested: in governmental bodies.  Which are somehow supposed to be perfectly fair and perfectly impartial and perfectly able to arbitrate over imperfect humans.  No, don’t ask me how, being composed of humans.  I’m not an idiot.  I’ve seen bureaucracies up close and personal, and know the sausage at the end of the process might not contain any elements of what is intended. I don’t advocate such nonsense.

Ah, but if the illusion of the “but it isn’t fair” were just monetary, it would do less harm.

I never had the illusion of “I can be anything I want.”  I’m not stupid.  I was sickly when I was born — premature — in an unheated house in the middle of a snow storm.  I remained sickly.  Mostly because my immune system tries to kill me every so often.

By the time I was twelve, I’d spent most of my life in bed, and given that Portugal hadn’t yet adapted to the idea antibiotics existed (and to be fair, mostly we had various generations of penicillin which has limits) in seclusion.  This means I spent a lot of time when I’d rather be tramping around in the sunshine, or playing with my friends, in a room that didn’t even have a window (it was the middle room of a shotgun apartment) reading comics or playing with legos and inventing friends.

Either because of long periods of inactivity and seclusion, or because I was born premature, I was always incredibly uncoordinated.  Most of the games my friends played, when I joined school, were not games I could play, no matter how much I tried.  Jump rope remains an unattainable achievement.  The elastic game (two girls hold a loop of elastic around their legs and stand about six feet apart, then one jumps in the middle, through a number of set figures in you either don’t touch or touch and warp the elastic in prescribed ways, each time in a more complicated movement) was beyond my attainments, even at its simplest.  Even when I put the elastic around two chairs and practiced, I couldn’t get past the “baby figures.”  That other people, even the dumb ones, could do this, was a source of wonder to me, but I wasn’t stupid enough to think I could do it, simply by wishing so.  Or, as I realized after a month of fruitless practice, even with much hard hardheadedness and work.

My body simply didn’t work right when it came to coordination and movement.  It wasn’t fair, but there also wasn’t a whole heck of a lot anyone could do.  I accepted what my body was, spent most of my recesses walking around, balancing on the edge of the flower beds, and eventually sitting in a corner with a good book or twenty.

In the long run it turns out that heavy reading — particularly considering my future profession — was far more useful than being able to do the elastic game.  On the other hand, maybe I’d be svelte and healthy had I been able to play the elastic game for five years of my youth.  Who knows?  Maybe some of the girls who exceeded at the elastic game would now be very happy if they could write books and get paid, which they might be able to do if they’d spent five years reading at recess.  Who knows?

Beyond economics, each of us is such a complex net-weave of influences, genetics, events that left their mark, the ideas we were exposed to, the dreams we dream, and oh, yeah, our bodies and the aptitudes and health of our bodies.

“It’s not fair” is as meaningless to this as to anything else.

Yesterday I ran into — in an otherwise sensible article — this kind of crazy, yeah, the kind of crazy that inspired the #metoo movement.  I won’t go into the lady’s claims of #metoo in the business world, except to say I doubt them, because she’s about my age, and even in Portugal stuff like asking someone to come discuss business in a hotel alone with you so you can take advantage of her was already frowned upon.

But one of her claims was that yeah, me too was necessary as long as women couldn’t walk safely alone at night.  Me too was necessary as long as women had to “endure” stuff muttered or called out to them.  And this should stop.

This is when my head hit desk with force.

You know who else can’t walk safely alone at night (unless armed): small men.

We are a bimorphic species with females being, on average, substantially smaller and weaker than men.  (Note on average.  Don’t tell me about Russian women power lifters and cubicle geeks.)  As long as that’s true, you can’t make the world safe for women.  Why not?  Because there’s always going to be one bad seed.  It’s not that most men even need to be taught not to rape.  The sane ones would rather self-castrate.  But in six or seven billion (or five, depending on how much face you put in UN numbers) there’s always going to be a few million bad seeds.  And male bad seeds will manifest in rape and violence, just as most women bad seeds manifest in manipulation, extortion and poisoning.

You can’t make the world safe for smaller and weaker people.  You can only make women good at defending yourselves.  Self defense — the extreme defense of your right to life — is your most basic right, and if you know other people are stronger and larger than you, either because you’re a woman, because you’re sickly, or because you’re young or old (and all of us will go through this at some point) it is your own duty to make sure you’re safe.

The world is not a kindergarten.  There is no benevolent teacher to ensure fairness.

And as for trying to change humans themselves, that always ends in mass graves.  Hundreds of thousands of mass graves.

Oh, and the same goes for the “stuff called out and muttered.”  Men are, by virtue of their form and function, more interested in sex than women.  Again, on average, by and a large, statistically.  Don’t compare your local female nympho to your local male celibate.  There are always extremes, but the way to bet is the other way.  Women crave connection and relationship, men crave sex.

Yeah, there’s a point we meet in the middle, and women can crave sex in a relationship as much or more than men.

But women — in general, grosso modo — don’t crave sex with random strangers.  So you won’t see a gaggle of  say female office workers, standing on a corner calling out “Mmmmm, you’re so fine” to male strangers, no matter how fine the strangers are, or how uncouth the females.

But men, in general, crave sex.  So, yeah, male construction workers are going to stand on the corner and go “mmmmm, you so fine” and worse at passing strange women.  And depending on how uncouth and desperate they are, this might be a lot more explicit, and the “fine” might extend to my dumpy, middle aged self.

This is again the price you pay for being in a bimorphic species.  Men have all the cravings and instincts of pre-human and certainly pre-civilized great apes.  The good ones control them, but there will always be a bad seed.

Don’t like it?  Find another species.  Stop trying to make women into men (“you should sleep with a lot of people.  That’s liberating” and “if you’re a stay at home mom, you betray your gender”) and stop trying to make men into women.

Not only will this crazy fill many graves, it will make sure a lot of people are never born and those who are already here have miserable lives.

Accept the world isn’t fair.  Yeah, women, someone is always going to look at you funny, make a clumsy pass, be an idiot.

If you give the government power to stop that; if you take off like a pack of baying hounds and destroy the career of every guy who ever looked at you cross eyed; if you embrace identity over rationality; if you demand equality over liberty; if you elevate the collective over the individual, it always ends the same way.

“Fairness” seems like a beautiful call.  The end is always death and destruction.

In the real world there is no such thing as equality.  The only equality to be found is in the grave, where we all decompose the same way.

Beware when you demand others twist themselves out of shape for you.  The mob will come for you eventually.  You too will dance to its rough music.

 

 

HRC: Idealism and Realism – by Amanda S. Green

HRC: Idealism and Realism – by Amanda S. Green

Here’s a hint: these don’t mean the same thing for Hillary Clinton as they do for most of the rest of us.

When I started reviewing this book, I did it as a lark. Sarah and I had discussed whether or not one of us should do it and, somehow, we decided it should be me. I expected the book to be a dissection of the election season, biased to be true, but I thought I’d be reading about the time from when Clinton declared her candidacy to when she faced defeat on Election Night. Sure, I knew there would be a few forays into her past, especially her political past since that impacted the election. What I got bears little resemblance to expectations.

For the most part, I’ve reviewed one chapter at a time. Last week’s post covered two chapters. I thought that would be a one-off because of the subject of that part of the book. Nope. I was wrong. I cover two chapters this time as well. Why? Because so much of it is a repeat of what HRC already said. The stories might not be the same but the lead-in to them is as is the import. Yes, we know she started out as an advocate and activist. Yes, we know she cares deeply (her words) about women’s issues, health care issues, civil rights, children. She has made that perfectly clear in the first 200 pages of the book.

So why is she hitting these points so hard, time and time and time again? More to the point, why is she doing so in a book that is supposed to tell us what happened in the election season? I don’t know the answer, but I have my suspicion. That suspicion grew stronger as I read these two chapters. As I said before (I think it was in last week’s post), much of this book reads like her primer for running again for President.

Heaven help us.

One of the most persistent challenges I faced as a candidate was being perceived as a defender of the status quo, while my opponents in the primaries and the general election seized the sought-after mantle of “change”. The same thing happened to me in 2008. I never could figure out how to shake it. (Pg.195)

Earlier, HRC whined – er, complained — about how the voting public perceived her and how she couldn’t understand it. Once again, she does so. The fact there were voters more than willing to discuss the issue with her didn’t matter. She had her own mantle she proudly proclaims, that of advocate and activist. She pulls out her history of working for women’s rights, etc. Her basic message is simple: “How dare we not view her the way she views herself?”

Change might be the most powerful word in American politics. (And probably the most misused and tired word after 2008 – ASG) That’s part of what makes America great. But we don’t always spend enough time thinking about what it takes to actually make the change we seek. Change is hard. That’s one reason we’re sometimes taken in by leaders who make it sound easy but don’t have any idea how to get anything done. (pg. 195)

That is probably the only thing she’s said so far in the book I agree with. Of course, we’d disagree – strongly – on who and how to apply this to. I, and so many others, said it when Obama used “Change” as his keyword when he ran for President. I said it years ago when Bill Clinton ran, not to mention good ole Jimmy Carter.

In 1992 and 2008, change meant electing dynamic young leaders who promised hope and renewal. In 2016, it meant handing a lit match to a pyromaniac. (pg 195)

What HRC doesn’t take into consideration is that what she sees as needed “change” isn’t what a large number of the voting public thought was needed. She doesn’t get that her proposed policies alienate so many who actually go to the polls on election day. She has spent so many years in Washington DC and New York that she forgot what middle America held dear.

Of course, she tries to prove her case as the “candidate of change and understanding” by recounting how she supported many of the BLM leaders and their cause. “I respected how effectively their movement grabbed hold of the national debate.  . . and I was honored when they endorsed me for President. But I was concerned when other activists [within the movement] proved more interested in disruption and confrontation than in working together to change policies that perpetuate systemic racism.” (pg 201)

Yes, there are issues regarding race and law enforcement that need to be addressed. However, it bothers me when someone who claims to be such a concerned activists limits those reforms to one group or segment of our society. Still, HRC showed her own willingness to walk back from her stance that “it was time for public officials – and all Americans really – to stop tiptoeing around the brutal role that racism has played in our history and continues to play in our politics.” (pg 201) She does so very quickly when she recounts an encounter she had with several BLM supporters who came to see her speak one day.

You see, these folks did the unspeakable. They attacked one of Bill’s law enforcement bills while he was President. Instead of coming out and just saying they were right and the bill was flawed, she characterizes their condemnation of it as “oversimplified beyond recognition.” A number of paragraphs later, she finally admits not only that the bill was flawed but that it actually made the problem it sought to solve worse. Why she couldn’t just say that, I don’t know – except it was an attack on something that had the Clinton name associated with it.

As you can see, this chapter follows the same pattern as the previous several chapters. We hear about her as the activist and advocate. We see her meeting with those who need the system to “change”. But where do we hear about the campaign and the other candidates (except for her taking another swipe at Trump)? That’s simple: she finally gets to it on page 211, twelve pages into the chapter. That’s when she begins writing about the water problem in Flint, MI and one of the debates. This is when HRC finally showed some passion and her team was thrilled.

For months, we had been losing the “outrage primary”. Bernie was outraged about everything. He thundered on at every event about the sins of “the millionaires and billionaires.” I was more focused on offering practical solutions that would address real problems and make life better for people.” (pp 211-212)

In other words, she was boring while Bernie excited people. Sound familiar? But that’s about all. She was angry about the situation and her team was excited. That’s a perfect point where she could discuss how to use that to benefit her campaign – or discuss why she chose not to, right? Instead, we get another page plus of her walking down memory lane about a town hall meeting in New Hampshire in 2015 and Kids like Jaylon, the Children’s Defense Fund. Disjointed and incomplete, much like her campaign.

Now to “Sweating the Details”. HRC was excited to take part in the “Commander in Chief Forum” on the USS Intrepid, September 7, 2016. Sponsored by NBC and moderated by Matt Lauer (stop snickering), this wasn’t going to be a debate. Each candidate would be given half an hour to speak and answer questions. The other candidate would not be onstage at the time. Trump won the coin toss and chose to go last. That left good ole Hillary to face Lauer first. “I was confident that with a real focus on substance and a clear contrast of our records, Americans would see that I was ready to be Commander in Chief, and Donald Trump was dangerously unprepared.” (pg 218)

Lauer led off by asking HRC to discuss the most important characteristic the Commander in Chief can possess. Okay, am I the only one who could see where this was going before HRC answered? The problem is HRC didn’t see it. Instead, she left herself wide open to what would follow by discussing steadiness. Even when Lauer clarified her answer by saying “You’re talking about judgment,” she didn’t see what was about to happen. It was only when she saw his expression that she thought he might be about to ask or say something she wasn’t expecting.

Yep, you got it. E-mails.

It was disappointing but predictable that he had so quickly steered the supposedly high-minded “Commander in Chief Forum” to the subject of emails, months after the director of the FBI had announced there was no case and closed the investigation. (page 219) And therein lies part of the problem with HRC. She still doesn’t understand that the emails and her private server presented a problem for the American public. She didn’t get that we saw it as a security issue, no matter what the FBI director said. We saw it as a trust issue – remember all those erased emails? How many people remembered the erased Nixon tapes and wondered what HRC was trying to hide?

This was her chance to answer some of those concerns. Instead, by her own words, she “launched into my standard answer on the emails, one I’d given a thousand times before.” (page 220) She couldn’t be bothered to take a moment to respond to Lauer about it and that would soon bite her in the ass, something she really did not appreciate (and something she makes clear in the book).

Lauer turned to a question from one of the veterans NBC had picked to be in the audience. He was a self-described Republican, a former Navy lieutenant who had served in the first Gulf War, and he promptly repeated the right-wing talking point about how my email use would have landed anyone else in prison. Then he asked how he could trust me as President “when you clearly corrupted our national security?”

Now I was ticked off. (pp 220-221)

The lack of respect for a veteran fairly drips from the page. First, note what was more important to HRC – the fact he was a “self-described Republican”. I don’t remember whether he said that at the time he asked the question or if this is something her team dug up later. But that was more important that the fact he served in the Navy, was in the first Gulf War or anything else. She also left me with the feeling that she would have been happier if there had been no Republicans in the audience, much less allowed to ask her questions. Really open minded, isn’t she?

Then we are treated to a page or more about how Lauer was mean to her. He asked four follow-up questions about her emails. He didn’t ask a “policy” question until the end of her time and then didn’t give her time to really respond. She mourns the fact she hadn’t “pushed back hard on his question.” My question is simple. Why didn’t she? This is the same sort of excuse she’s made before in the book. She could have pushed back when Trump “invaded her space”. She could have pushed back now. But she didn’t. Why? And why should we want a Commander in Chief who won’t stand up for herself – or himself?

The telling statement comes after she spends more time complaining about how Lauer didn’t go after Trump the way he did her. “Sadly, though, millions of people watched.” (page 222) Wait, what? She would have preferred those millions of people not to watch, not to try to become informed on the issues and on the candidates they would soon be voting for or against? How much does it say about HRC that she would have preferred her less than stellar performance not to be seen?

There’s another swipe at Bernie – note the theme. It is never her fault.

No matter how bold and progressive my policy proposals were – and they were significantly bolder and more progressive than anything President Obama or I had proposed in 2008 – Bernie would come out with something even bigger, loftier, and leftier, regardless of whether it was realistic or not. That left me to play the unenviable role of spoilsport schoolmarm, pointing out that there was no way Bernie could keep his promises or deliver real results. (pp226-227) In other words, it was Bernie’s fault for playing her game better than she did. Riiight. There’s more, including the allegation that he’d promised not to make personal attacks and failed to carry through with that promise.

Now, remember back at the beginning of the post when I said I had my suspicions about why HRC really wrote the book? The last nine pages or so of the chapter deal almost exclusively with what HRC would have done in the first 100 days of her presidency as opposed to what Trump did. It reads like a campaign speech. It even includes digs at Trump’s appointments. But, above all that, it reads like a politician practicing her speech before going on the campaign trail.

One thing has become perfectly clear as I read this book. No, not that HRC is still bitter and angry that we weren’t smart enough to elect her President. No, it’s not that she isn’t smart enough to take the lessons she should have learned when she lost the nomination to Obama and applied it to the last election. It is that she lives in her own world of reality in which she is the star, the center of the universe. It is that she expects the world to mold itself to fit her sense of reality instead of taking the hard look at herself and asking the hard questions.

And, with the next chapter entitled “Making History”, I have no hope of that changing.

(You can find the other installments in this series at the following links: What Happened or How I Suffered for this Blog and had to ShareGrit and GratitudeHRC Gets Caught TryingA New Deal, A Square Deal or How She Wanted to be the Next Roosevelt, It’s All His Fault, and Turning Mourning into a Movement.)

[I know this is hard to watch, imagine what it must be like to read the book.  If you want to help finance Amanda’s liquor bill, use this address  Send the woman a drink-SAH]

Our Debt To Society

Having been what’s known as fried, between rewrite and health and cat health (Greebo is doing better, thank you) I have defaulted to my reading tier that’s one step above Disney Comics (which as some of you know are my go-to when sick/brain dead.)  Yep, Jane Austen fanfic.

And I keep hearing of “our debt to society” and “Doing what we owe society” and “doing our duties to society.”

If this makes you squirm, it does me too.  But here is a refreshing difference between these, which stay largely true to the regency and modern day regencies, with modern day sensibilities: they’re not talking about money.  They’re not even talking about charity.

Sure, charity was part of the duties of a lady of the manor in regency England.  But it usually wasn’t indiscriminate charity.  There might be an organization to rescue “soiled doves” or to educate the children of the poor.  But most of the charity duties of the lady began at home: among her tenants and her husband’s employees.  This was just good sense, since of course, in small communities, you’d know who the deserving poor were, and who the hopeless grifters.

But that’s not included in what all this “duty to society” thing.

Your duty to society is to be involved in it.  To do your part, in whatever position in life you’re involved in.  Do your visiting/mingle with your peers/discuss the news of the day.

That was viewed as a duty.  Charity or even paying your taxes?  Not so much.

Remember, this was pre-Marx, and it was not assumed that if you had a lot of money, you must have stolen it, since the economy for Marxists is a fixed pie.

Instead, your duty was to evaluate your neighbors’ characters and try to improve whatever group you mingled with.  With a view to being virtuous and compassionate yourself (and compassion often meant empathy and understanding more than money.)

It is amazing to look back on this from our day and age, when compassion, duty, etc, is all about money, and when the left side of the isle is losing its mind because the government is allowing us to keep a fraction more of the fruits of our labor.

To read them, civilization is coming apart.

Poor little materialists.  To them compassion and caring has the sound of caching, and your property belongs to them by right of conquest.

It’s interesting to note — and for us introverts to remember — that being social apes, humans DO need social contact.  In fact, recent studies show we need a dismaying something like 3 hours a day (though it need not be prolonged.)

It’s also interesting to note that we’ve not only found that the economy is not a fixed pie, and rich people don’t automatically owe something to the poor, but that indiscriminate charity and “help” are often counterproductive.  Case in point, on a macro scale is Africa where international charity has held back native development and industry for about a century.  On a micro scale, I’m sure you each know a case or two.

I wouldn’t want to live in the regency, of course.  I like today’s tech, and I’m very, very fond of the greater freedom women enjoy as individuals now.  (Though a woman of my age and education would always have had a certain freedom.)

However, it’s interesting to note that the models of the world we had before Marxism oozed into literally every field of endeavor were apparently more in tune with reality.

Shocking.  I know.

But it tells you things can be rebuilt.  We just need to erase the crazy cakes, non functional eructations of Marx from our mental map.  It’s not easy, but it can be done.

Shoulder to the wheel.

Do it for the children.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Go Small Young People, Go Small – A Blast From the Past From March 2016

*Sorry, still recovering from whatever the heck respiratory thing hit me, and in a deadline crunch.- SAH*

Go Small Young People, Go Small – A Blast From the Past From March 2016

There is a movement afoot to make our kids content with less.  My sons, both of them, like their parents, unable to comprehend the fact that body and mind have limits, have always dreamed big.  Now mind you most of their dreams are not predicated on “I will own” but on “I will do.”  In that they also resemble us, aka “why we’re not rich”: because while we don’t want anyone to pay our way, our work has always been geared to what we want to do and what we feel must be accomplished than merely to “I must get rich.”

No, the two are not exclusive, and getting rich doing what you feel must be done is the ultimate objective, but my husband has the tendency to refuse advancement which means he can no longer do the work he loves and I… I refused to “sell out” in a way and it wasn’t all politics.  It was also that the books that make you a darling of the industry could put an insomniac to sleep and are, therefore, torture to write.  At least for me, your mileage may vary, void where prohibited, etc.  (And the laugh line in all this is that the books I’d consider selling out and the ones I consider following my drive are completely reversed for the people using those terms.)  As for the activities purely designed to make money, neither of us could ever stay with them for very long.

Which explains why we’re not rich, and why there is a very strong chance our children won’t be.  That is not what the school was preparing them from.  In “job day” after “job day,” my kids would listen then come home baffled with some variation of “My classmates want to be bureaucrats who make a median salary, marry a median woman, drive a median car and have one or two median children.  None of them wants to push, invent, take risks, or make any waves at all.  And I can feel the push to be the same.  It’s what they want for us.”

If this were planned, I’d say it was attempt to make us like Sweden where the world “enough” has double plus GOOD connotations.  I’d say that it was an attempt, in other words, to make the American people suitable to Euro Socialism.

I don’t believe it’s planned.  Not in most of the people pushing for that.  I think it’s part of fifty years of education that pushed “the world is overpopulated”, “humanity is a burden” and “diet for a small planet,” and other bits of insanity.  The teachers and others pushing this point of view honestly think humans are scary and dangerous and if they don’t outright go out and start mowing them down, they try to convince them to do the equivalent of curling up in the fetal position and pretending not to be there.  (And don’t get me started on the pledges not to reproduce pushed at 12 year olds.  Just don’t.  It won’t go well.)

This is not what I mean by going small.  I don’t mean destroying your hopes and burying your ambitions and “leaving light footprints” or any of that nonsense.  I believe humanity has as many rights as any other species to “Grow, multiply, and fill the face of the Earth.”  More, maybe, since we have the means to control our environment that other species lack.  More, because if Earth’s biome ever explands to the stars — its one chance at survival in the truly long scales — it will be because humans took it there.

IOW, growth is what life does and human life is not less than other life.

What I mean by going small is different.

I’ve confessed before that before 9/11 I was an INTERNATIONALIST Libertarian.  This tends to make people who know me look at me as though I’d grown a second, evil head, and I confess those ten years were a sort of holiday from reason and thought.  The fairytale was so pretty I wanted to to work.  Besides, I have friends in a lot of countries who could work in a “one world” sort of thing.

Oh, I knew better — duh and derp — of course I did.  I knew most countries in the world are kleptocracies and this is not just the result of bad politics, but of bad culture.  The culture infects the politics and makes them what they are.  The country I came from still gets its politics from Rome, aka “rule of law? what rule of law?” or “he who has no godfather dies in jail.”  And this is not overcome by selling them slogans.  Their form of government changed at least 3 times (in macro movements) in the twentieth century but “the way things are done” didn’t, as it hasn’t in at least 2000 years and probably more, because that’s culture and the only way cultures change that rapidly is through major trauma, like invasion or mass death and even then never that much (and also there’s a boomerang tendency to revert) as Portugal’s history is example.

But I wanted to believe.  Not in a whole world of brotherwood or a Coke commercial, but in a world of free humans working together.

I read Grumbles from the Grave and P.J. O’Rourke’s all the trouble in the World and Eat the Rich and foreign news and history, but you can picture me with hands over ears going “lalalalalalala.”

9/11 shattered that and at any rate I was always a bizarre sort of internationalist as I was an American patriot and for small governments and didn’t wish national identities to be abolished, only, somehow, for countries to work in harmony for free minds and free markets.  (And for my next trick, I shall make this elephant fly.  Fly, elephant, fly.)

9/11 shattered my “lalalalalala.” It shattered a lot of people’s more serious belief in “one world” government/polity/entity whatever you wish to call it.

This is a very old idea, a very old thought, that people came up with to “prevent war.”  i.e. “if we all were one nation, there would be no war.”  Which is stupid, given the number and nature of civil wars throughout human history, but never mind.

The generation that fought WWI embraced it with the fervor of desperate, shell-shocked children.  This is why so many of the early science fiction books assume it, and so many of the tv series use it not just as a background for humanity, but as part of what makes a world/breed/etc civilized.

This seems more plausible to America than anywhere else because, as noted here before, our states have a very different culture but the same, overlaying structures that ensure easy movement between states and communication between every citizen, as well as a sense of belonging.  It’s easy to think this means we could extend it to the world and make it the same.

It’s easy to think but impossible to implement.  I’ve heard that entire Italian villages moved en mass to NY in the early 20th century.  This might be true but I suspect it’s a bit of an exaggeration.  It’s more “everyone who was young and who had a mind to succeed moved.”  IOW those who came what was then (due to slowness of travel, and expense) an almost for sure one-way trip were of a different mind as those left behind.  They were also, consciously or not, willing to work to shed their centuries of culture and the things that made the land they came from what it was.

This is not the same now, because travel is a few hours and relatively cheap.  We see the problem of this in moves between states too.  Used to be you moved, you adapted to local ways of doing things.  Moves were always piece-meal anyway save for great migrations caused by massive disturbances.  And even then The Grapes of Wrath might have overstated the matter a bit. Now it’s easier to move between states for a job or an opportunity, and that means when states become inimical to job creation, they send vast hordes forth to get jobs elsewhere.  Hordes that bring with them their way of voting that made the initial state inimical to job creation.  Or as we call it around these parts, Californication.

Partly in reaction to that, and partly because it’s obvious attempting to get people to reject their country isn’t working, and partly because we have been pounded for a century, via all forms of media and education with the idea of “identities” hinging on totally insane things like skin color, food preferences and a myriad other incidental characteristics, there is a nativist/racial/statist movement afoot. Now that movement is more plausible than the one-worlders.  I never understood how, having determined that dividing people into economic classes and setting them against each other wouldn’t bring about paradise, the one-worlder Marxists convinced themselves setting people against each other by melanin content and what is between their legs and other more or less arbitrary characteristics would a) yield uniform classes and b) bring about utopia.  I think the underwear gnome was involved in their plans.  And it is also, invariably involved in the “national identititarians” plan.

There aren’t many of them, mind, but like the one worlders they are convinced the world is inevitably going to go their way and they’re the way of the future.  Look, guys, if you find an arrow in history tell me, okay?

And like the one-worlders, their conviction comes partly from the belief humans are widgets.  All they disagree on is what divides one set of widgets from the other.

Unfortunately for them and everyone else who has  sought to impose an arrow on history, humans aren’t widgets, and even if there is such things as an “average” woman or man, worker or intellectual, Masai cowherd or German goatheard, the “average” is a mathematical construction created by statistics and if you meet these people you find that each is highly individual.

And the tendency to view people as “average” and “median” and to divide them according to statistical characteristics is a twentieth century characteristic born of the typical industry of the twentieth century.  I.e. when the watchword of the century was the refinement of the previous century’s “mass manufacturing” and “mass production” one had to know what the average or median person wanted.

Because while people aren’t widgets, it is possible to produce something with the maximum appeal to most of them.  Surveys, statistics, etc, all reveal what’s the most acceptable to the majority of people.

If there are two TV channels (what I grew up with) none of them is going to devote three days to an extended documentary on dinosaurs, because the majority of people would be bored stiff by that, have their eyes roll inward on their skull, and go to sleep.

But if there are 300 channels, one of them can be the “dedicated dinosaur channel” and it will find enough audience to survive.

The technology of the time didn’t allow 300 channels, or personal 3-D printing, or authors to put their own books up for sale, worldwide.

For the two centuries before us, the economies of scale and mass production have tended to try to make everyone as close to the same as possible, so the industry could provide them with the means for civilized living.

And that’s where the one worlders’ dreams came from.  “Make everyone the same and everyone will be happy.”  (Not quite that way, but you get a whiff of this in early Heinleins.  Never that stupid, because the man had a brain, and knew there would be malcontents anyway.

The nationalists’ dreams come from seeing the obvious flaws in that, the persistent nature of culture, the horrors of trying to make many nations one.  Because that never ends well.  And it is aided and abetted by “the future and its enemies.”  Ie. the bureaucrats and other classes that have grown fat on the nation-state and who therefore long to extend and expand their power.  Mind, it’s much easier to be a kleptocrat over a more or less small and homogeneous nation.

And they come too from the fact that nation-states have been sold for what? three centuries now, as a form of uber-identity that replaced religion as Europe became industrialized.

Only nation-states are children of mass production, took off at the same time as the industrial revolution, and are, in the end, wholly artificial creations in human history.

Sure, humans identify with/are designed to identify with a tribe.  And the tribe is, as far as studies can determine, suppose to be about 50.  A couple hundred people, at the most. IOW “Me and my cousins.”

That means when the nation state “stole” tribal affiliation and put it to work for the nation state it had to pervert it.  It had to devote its not inconsiderable mass-media and mass education to make people think of the nation as a tribe.  This was probably (mostly) not done on purpose, though heaven knows I’ve read my shre of books approved of and designed by central states selling the idea of “the Portuguese race” or “the British Race” or even “The German race.”

Even in countries as small as Great Britain or Portugal, the regional differences are vast, the tribal loyalties often vivid and vociferous and the cracks the nation-state papers over momentous.  For “countries” like Italy or Germany, children of the nation state movement, itself, it is about as accurate to speak of a national identity as it is to speak of a Kenyan or Rwandan national identity.  The borders were drawn by bureaucrats, planners (or conquerors) and have bloody nothing to do with the “tribes” underneath.

The only way to keep the nation state cohesive and to sell them on the idea they are a tribe (and thus harness the instinctual need for a tribe) is constant propaganda by mass-media means, and the harnessing of people’s longing for a great tribal leader which was probably evolutionarily sane when we lived in hominid bands (IOW yesterday in evolutionary terms.)

This is why nation states are always and forever looking for the man on the white horse, the father of the nation, etc.  IOW it’s why the twentieth century was the twentieth century.

But the thing to remember is that the nation state on a large scale, itself, was a creation of mass industrialization.  Even the empires of the past were different.  Even the Roman idea of making everyone a Roman citizen was a different thing, because they had no mass media and no way to sell “we are tribe.”  So the Roman citizen might adopt a lot of the identity but it was overlaid on his local identity of Celt or Greek, and the underlying identity was made to work with the overarching one, instead of being crushed by it.

In the same way, even old and on an European scale relatively large countries like France, took centuries to eliminate — by education and identification, and ultimately by force — other linguistic/cultural groups within themselves. Because they couldn’t put on TV programs every morning telling children they loved Big Brother.

What I mean is that the last two centuries of civilized life have been profoundly unnatural for humans.  Look, not complaining.  Natural is sleeping naked in the Savannah.

But the point is that the type of industry and communication that brought about these massive nation states (the bigger the better) with their massive bureaucracies is being replaced by “smaller, more personal, more agile.”

This doesn’t mean the future is ripe for one-world.  On the contrary.  And it doesn’t mean the world is ripe for nation-states.  On the contrary.

Go small, young people, go small.

I’ve been watching this work in my own industry, where the most agile people are the ones doing well, and to the extent that publishers will survive (let alone thrive) it will be the ones who are willing to keep as small a staff as possible, subcontract/pay bounties on individual jobs that need to be done for books, and generally be capable of shedding/adding functions as the market conditions evolve.  (I’m not saying that the big publishers won’t stay around.  It takes a long time to kill a behemoth.  Just that they in no way are suited to the conditions on the ground now.)

It’s sort of the same with nation-states.  Nation states serve some vital functions that smaller groupings (and certainly our individual, tribal groupings) aren’t very good at: mutual defense.  Construction of large scale things, some of which will still be needed, like, say highways, and ultimately the suppression of tribalism.

But Sarah, you just said tribalism was good!  No, I said tribalism is natural, and you have to accept it’s there, and by tribalism I mean the fighting of groups of about 100 people against groups of about 100 people, whether the fight is financial, of words or physical.  We identify with an “extended family” of blood or not, and will defend it against all comers.  It’s what makes humans so admirable — and so screwed up.

The bad side of that is that left on their own anything larger than a medium city would be a nightmare of internecine warfare, and why the one-worlders and “governments will just wither away” people are nuts.

So the overarching government of nation or state is needed to keep the tribal impulses at bay and to guide the entity to the common good.

But what the twentieth century has shown us is that decisions should be made on as local a level as possible, not only because people accept that better, but because people closer to the problem are less likely to think it’s a great idea to sow wheat in the snow or to teach all the kids that the sky is made of green cheese.  Not that as small as possible rule doesn’t also go wrong.  We all know tyrannical families and crazy-cakes small cities.But when polities that small are completely insane, at least the damage is contained, while when an entire country goes batexcrement insane you get WWII.

So it would seem the ideal political organization for what our industry is becoming and what our technology is enabling would be a “nation state” loosely connected and with a relatively powerless central government whose only function would be to prevent inner strife, defend the nation (both in the sense of war and guarding the borders) and oh, I don’t know, provide for the common good by arbitrating those projects that must be large enough to span all the myriad states that otherwise comprise the nation.

And each of such states and each of the entities under them should be as free to govern themselves as possible, each unite, down to the individual, retaining as much autonomy as physically and mentally possible.

Such state would be very agile and able to change itself in an era when technology and industry are changing at an incredibly fast rate.  It would be a chaos dancer, capable of being both very large and very small, and flowing into the future seamlessly.

Of course, such a country would not have survived very well in the nineteenth and twentieth century when the ideas of the mass-industrialized “tribe” nationalistic state were ascendant and what every right thinking person “knew.”  And it would have trouble, being relatively powerless at the central level, countering the naked aggression of those nation-states. So it would change to fit the times.

It is probably pure coincidence that the way it was founded is now more suited to the coming technology and industry.  Or possibly because the coming industry and techonology allow for the emergence of very old tendencies in humans, it was designed that way by people who thought deeply about the nature of humans.

I’m not a materialist determinist.  I don’t believe that the material conditions determine the mental and emotional state of men by themselves.  In many ways not only doesn’t man live by bread alone, but man lives by belief alone, in that he is able to hold on to beliefs contrary to reality even when it destroys everything around a culture/nation/etc.  Look at North Korea or Cuba.

But by and large, and always providing for stragglers, the way the cultures of humanity are expressed, the way people LIVE is determined by the technology/industry of the time.

Thus, mass industrialization birthed the nation state.  And as mass industrialization is tottering, the nation state as we know it (which is not the same as tribal identification/regional loyalty, etc, but is an overarching bureaucratic entity selling itself as a tribal entity) is tottering with it.

This is not to say the one-worlders are right — I can’t imagine a HUMAN world in which they would be right. You can’t just blend all human cultures and come up with anything usable.  The only possible one-world government would be in a world settled exclusively by one culture.  And even there, as the world population grows, it will fragment.

In fact, both nation-states and one-worlders are ideas of the past, brought about by mass-everything.

I expect the world of more individualized everything will bring about a lot of small units — down to the individual — that connect upwards in ever larger/less powerful entities, till at the top of a large enough territory is one that just provides for the common welfare (ie. too big to be done in small scale) and common defense.

Where I differ from other people who see that and see “one world” is that there are common cultures and common geographic areas that must be respected, and people are not widgets.  The importation of say masses of middle easterners into Germany is not possibly while watching out for the common defense and welfare of Germany.  Not that Germany is really an ethnic entity (it is composed of smaller tribes, and since WWII it has absorbed masses of immigrants) but because it is a geographical and cultural entity and you can’t simply move individuals in and out of those.

In other words, I think we need nations.  I just think in the coming era those that survive, thrive and make their citizens rich will be those that are as decentralized as possible at their center, while defending themselves and understanding the cultures that comprise them.

How we get there is something else.  It will happen, because humans always adapt to the changes in tech and industry.

But it’s not straight forward or rational.  Which is why at least half (and possibly more) of the right AND left feeling we’ve gone down a wrong path are reaching back for solutions, but not far enough back, which is why there seems to be a growing consensus for national socialism.

It won’t work.  It’s like the publishing houses trying to solve their problems by pricing e-books higher and giving myriad interviews about how ebooks are vanishing.

The denial of reality is strong in humans and can be imposed for a period of time, but not on the whole world and not without consequences.

The future is small, more fragmented and overall (not accounting for small pockets of tyranny) much freer.

IOW in the end we win, they lose.

Getting there, OTOH, as any great movement in “how we live” in the history of humanity is going to involve convulsions and conflicts and mass-scale dislocations that will at times feel the world is coming apart at the seams.

That’s because it is. But it doesn’t follow, no matter how painful the process, that what results from that is a bad thing.

The important thing is to neither prematurely try to make the world burn nor (prematurely also) reach for a solution of the recent past.  Both of them are normal human reactions, but both of them will do nothing but delay the solution and create devastation and suffering.

In the end, the future is small.  And if we can get there it would enable the biggest and most glorious form of human civilization yet:agile and capable of rapid change and keeping the bad side of the human nature to as small a group as possible, while maximizing human ability to create and prosper.

Go small, young people, go small. And dream big.