People Who Hate People

A few of you have asked me to write about Human Wave, and I know I have to – having come up with this harebrained idea, I have to continue with it and give it some shape.  Like a cat or a kid, it followed me home and now it’s my job to look after it.

Leave aside for a moment the fact that I think each of us, Human Wave writers can do more for writing and for the culture in general by writing fiction than by prattling on about what our fiction is or isn’t.  Humans are curious beasties, sometimes when faced with the Rocharsh stain they need to be told if they’re looking at the hideous crone or the beautiful woman in the hat.

While I agree with Charlie that the guiding principle of Human Wave is “You may” we all know there are things that we read that are HW and things that aren’t.  Even if sometimes we come down to “I know it when I see it.”

Well, let me bring a flashlight down and point it at the picture so you can see more clearly.

Part of this is Scott McGlasson’s fault, with his inferiority complex vis a vis his characters.  (It’s all his fault mommy.)  And partly it’s the way we’ve joked about loving/hating humans and how much butter exactly it takes to love them.

It is also at the heart of Darkship Renegades and if you squint intently, at the heart of my future history.

My future history starts with nations expropriating all those embryos resulting from in-vitro and making a bunch more and having them gestated in bio-engineered large animals (kind of like the mice who grow human ears) in an attempt to make up a massive short fall of people.  (Yes, I do think world population is already falling, or if it’s not it’s because older people are living much longer.  The problem is the modern state depends for its structure on having more young people than old.  At any rate this is supposed to be 50 to 100 years from now.  Shut up.  Making predictions is hard, particularly about the future.  You lays down your money and you makes your bet.  That is mine.)

These people are by and large not quite normal.  Part of it might be the timing of hormone baths and enzymes, which would be impossible to get right, no matter how modified the animal.  It could also be the environment, since they’re raised in batch lots.

And eventually people get funny and decide, instead, to create supermen and to “improve” their own children.  And then it all goes wrong because humans can’t be perfect, and being perfect can be the biggest flaw of all.

I was about to say we humans are a crazy animal, when it occurred to me that of course I don’t know how other animals are, not really.  We have reason to believe – now – that cats and dogs have some form of memory and ideation.

Perhaps all animals can dream of an idealized version of themselves.  Who am I to say?
I do know humans do.  I am – on a good day and with enough caffeine – human, or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof.

And we humans can see an idealized version of ourselves – a perfect version, without any of those flaws and imperfections that mar the human body and soul.

It has run throughout all of human history: the thought of super-humans, or of angels, without flaw.  For some of us those humans existed in Eden, seemingly perfect, until the flaw was revealed in the taste for forbidden fruit.  For others, there was a perfect civilization where a mother goddess was worshiped and everyone was happy, until the unhappy ones – what?  What’s that you say?  No, no, I read the books, that seems to be the gist of it – subverted the whole thing.  For others – Rousseau will never be dead enough – humans were noble and perfect before civilization.

We can ideate perfect humans.  We can ideate a perfect life.  And then we turn to our workaday world, chockablock with briars (and blockheads.)  

This used to be disease prevalent in adolescence, particularly for well-off people.  (By historical standards, we’re all well-off, which is why adolescence is actually a recent concept.  Okay, Romans had it, but it was a… er… different thing.)  The “Why does it have to be that way?”  And the “But I hate humans” always sound, inherently, as though they were said by a sixteen year old.  (And fresh from parenting a sixteen year old, the whine-that-can-cut-through-glass is loud and clear in my memory.)

It used to be for most people, though, wealthy or not, after adolescence, some form of integration was achieved.  People came to see the ideal for what it was – something to strive towards, not something to demand.  And sometimes, in special circumstances, they came to see their flaws for… well… good things.  (Sometimes they are.  Sometimes what causes people to do best are their worst traits.)

The reason people mostly came to terms with reality is that, well… what is there besides reality?

And that’s where we got tripped, starting around the fifties or so.  I think, honestly, the issue was television.  It looks real, but it is or can be flawless.  I’ve often wondered how much of our divorce rate is based on the flawless, effortless families of the fifties sitcoms during the formative years of most now-adults.  It seems as though study after study has shown we can’t tell the difference between TV and reality.  Weirdly, no, I don’t think the down-glare on married life and what I’d call the “all relationships are sh*t” view of humanity prevalent now helps.  Neither is actually reality like.

Anyway, the problem is we now have – all of us – both wealth (you don’t usually worry where your next meal is coming from.  Heck, I don’t, though there have been times in my life I did, they were brief and limited) and a vivid, collective fantasy life.

This has the result of a sort of extended adolescence.  Our arts, the collective expression of our collective soul – or our culture for lack of a better word – have got stuck in the adolescent whine of  “I hate people.”  Which means the “moral” behind just about every novel, painting, story is “Humans are bad and we should all die.”

So, what’s wrong with hating humans, you say.

Nothing.  Nothing if you could choose between humans as are and your idealized humans that can exist only in syrupy shows.

The problem is those humans don’t exist.  And the problem is the reaction of culture to realizing this was to go into a prolonged tantrum that amounts to “If we can’t be perfect we should all die.”

This is a problem because it’s starting to have an effect.  It’s become controversial to say “I love people.”  It’s become controversial to say “Humans have achieved great things.”

All of which would be fine, again, if you could choose to be something else.  But you can’t.  For good or ill, we’re humans and humans are all we have.

Did humanity produce Stalin and Mao?  Sure.  But humanity also produced DaVinci and innumerable saints.  Were any of the last without flaw?  Well, no.  They were human.  All humans have flaws.  Sometimes the reason humans strive to be good is that they see themselves as worse than they are.  That’s one of those flaws that’s good for you.

But seeing yourself – or your species – as unredeemable is as blinkered, as pathetic, as seeing your species – or yourself – as angel-like, with no flaws.  Neither of them have reality and frankly both of them lack internal tension.  Both of them are therefore just plain bad art.

So, can Human Wave be dystopian?  Sure it can.  You don’t really need to scratch very deeply into the world of Darkship Thieves to see that Earth is a dystopia and Eden is a barely balanced near-utopia, but one that crumbles on contact.  Humans are still humans.  Unspeakable things can happen (contemplate Max’s fate, or for that matter Nat’s revenge.)

BUT through it all, humans are still humans.  The ones who are good can be very very good.  The ones who are broken are broken in interesting ways.  The villains are – to borrow from Shakespeare – punishe’d.  And the good, if not rewarded, have a chance to reward themselves to a measure.  And the mixed can redeem themselves in future books.

Human Wave: it might be very dark, but a ray of light is allowed in.  We don’t hate humanity, because if we do we can’t love anything.  And there is always the option for a sequel.

You heard it here first.

146 thoughts on “People Who Hate People

  1. Hmm, I hate people. I don’t hate humans, just people. As a long time misanthropist I can safely say that it is possible to feel both ways. People in general are a waste of oxygen but, the exceptions to that rule more than make humanity a worthwhile species. I think that is what you need to believe to be very dystopian and human wave simultaneously. Of course I could be wrong, after all I am one of those who is a waste of oxygen in someone elses worldview

    1. I couldn’t disagree more. The average person is not stupid, as I have found in years of blue-collar labor. I can guarantee that the average construction worker or oil worker knows more FACTS, in total, than any of the self-styled intellectuals, about many different subjects–many of them quite technical, and many of them directly related to national issues. The idea that the average person is an airhead may be quite popular among influential people on both the Left (Thomas Franks) and the Right (Ayn Rand), but it’s still BS. I’d be happy to see a debate between David Frum and any oil rig foreman, because I know damned well that Frum would be humiliated.

      1. I didn’t say the average human is an airhead, I said people in general are a waste of oxygen. There are lots of decent individuals out there but, people as parts of groups, BAH!
        As a matter of fact the airhead part was entirely your interpretation, I said they were a waste of oxygen, not stupid

      2. I think Frum and your hypothetical oil rig foreman know about the same number of facts. The difference is that most of Frum’s facts are socially constructed data and most of the foreman’s facts are actual facts. I expect the foreman would have a much better idea of what he does not know.

      3. I think you’re both right, but maybe not in the ways you think. In the first Men In Black movie, Tommy Lee Jones’ character has a very pithy, very wise line that goes something like, “A PERSON is smart. People are dumb, lazy, panicky animals and you know it.” It’s one of my all-time favorite movie lines, and it’s the difference between individual mentality and herd mentality. One on one, humans are smart. In larger groups, the herd mentality takes over and they get collectively stoopit.

            1. My cats, sitting on either side of me, wish me to tell you that teh kittehs are NOT weird at all. You are a baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad hooman. No freshly killed mice for you. Go to your corner and think about your misdeeds.

        1. On the other hand, when working cooperatively, rather than reactively, the group tends to be smarter than the smartest person in the group. Mileage may vary, depending on the level of cooperation, of course.

          1. I participated in one of those “You’ve crashed on the moon and managed to scavenge 25 items; arrange them in rank order of their usefulness” scenarios where you solve as an individual then as a small group, demonstrating that pooling of information yields better outcomes. Problem was, my score as an individual was better than the group score. I had been through the exercise three or four times prior, recalled some the odder items (such as the guns being useful in spite of the lack of atmosphere) without recalling the reasoning sufficiently to explain it persuasively … and not being particularly interested in selling my positions.

            A purer instance of such a group/individual dichotomy might be displayed by imagining you have found yourself in a group of primitives who believe illness is a result of demonic possession. It is unlikely your contributions to the group solution would produce a better outcome.

            Or look at the burden imposed by a large portion of a society holding bad economic ideas, such as breaking windows stimulates economic activity by creating work for glaziers, or that bodies of experts can determine what is the true economic value of an hour of unskilled labor.

            Sometimes cooperative behaviour is a bad bad bad thing.

      4. I actually do think that the average person, while probably not qualifying as “stupid”, certainly qualify as “dumb”.

        First, I would put most of the so-called “intellectuals” in the group labeled “dumber than a box of toenail clippings”. The ones in that group have decoupled their intellect from the real world until their thoughts have relation to it only by accident.

        Next, knowing facts does not make one intelligent. I’ve seen people (well, mostly watched documentaries about them) with eidetic or near-eidetic memories who were not particularly bright. I will admit that an oil rig worker probably has to have more on the ball than average, but that’s actually not an average job.

        Part of it is that people are not taught critical thinking skills, and part is that people tend to be intellectually lazy, but it all adds up to “average” being hardly competent to pour piss out of a boot with directions on the heel.

        1. The above is not to be interpreted that I hate people. On the contrary, I find people who have allowed themselves to be dumb (as opposed to those who are actually of lower capacity, for whom I have compassion) to be endlessly entertaining.

          1. THIS. I told my kids that even people who have no other value are FUNNY — and you end up loving them a little because of that. There are exceptions, of course…

        2. Most people aren’t STUPID but MOST people would rather be cut to ribbons than engage in uneeded thinking. I think all the exceptions comment on this blog, and I might have reached the limits of my public. (Sigh.)

          1. If you mean those people who cannot help by think as it is more automatic as breathing to them, I am quite sure that there are more than 646 of us. For example, I have yet to see none of your gentleman or The Daughter here. (Apparently they have lives of their own?) If you mean people who have recognized your (coff) quirky brilliance, we hope that there will be many more to come.

            1. I hate the results of editing myself — 1) not as breathing, but than breathing, 2) not none of your gentleman, but any of your gentleman.

              I could blame the dyslexia, the lack of consumed coffee or the fact that somehow the typing window has it out for me and things just look different than when posted… I’ll take the last, let us blame the platform. It is never my fault… Always someone elses… And it is obviously not us, we’re perfect… Well, not quite, we’re not cats.

          2. I might have reached the limits of my public.
            Not at all! I belong to quite a “quirky” group (OTHER than writers), most of whom love science fiction. That doesn’t mean they’d necessarily spend their time here, although they probably DO read your books. The Loyal Brotherhood of Squints and Spooks is about as quirky a group as you can find anywhere (the vast majority of the Brotherhood have IQs in the 120-220 range, and LOVE weird things). I’ve tried to steer a few this way, but most of them lead rather full lives. Several of them are also writers of one sort or another. One I know writes erotic poetry and fiction. Another is involved neck-deep in crypto-fiction (he currently works at NSA). Don’t worry, Sarah, there are still a couple of million people out there that haven’t ‘found’ you yet, that’s all!

            1. Ah haven’t heard squint and spooks since I left the Navy – my hubby and I were spooks… and yes, that community has a lot of high IQs. 😉 Several of the guys used to loan me Heinlein books even though by that time I had read most of them.

              1. Did they tend to be his later works? If so, maybe they were just trying to get you hot and bothered, offering a combo of sex and SciFi. 😉

                1. LOL Wayne – I wasn’t married yet so you have a point. However, I had already been picked by the hubby. We were married a few years later. (older works mostly)

                2. You do realize we sound like total yobs when we (sf/f people) say this crap? Heinlein’s later works are middle school primers compared to the most restrained of REGENCY romances even in the eighties, much less now.

                    1. I actually never read romance until about four? years ago, but my reading ranges back to the late eighties, because I buy it used. (It’s my current “popcorn books” that I can put down and go work, or whatever.) Most form the late eighties aren’t BAD. But today’s? Look, guys, anal premarital sex in A REGENCY is not even out of the ordinary. It’s stupid, and I flip past, but it’s common as dirt. Heinlein? Heinlein was a boy scout.

                    2. I should qualify – a good friend of mine was getting back into romance writing so she convinced me to read more romances. The friend in question is now a Harlequin Bestseller (been on the NYT list a few times). We used to ask her hubby if she was into research. He would smile proudly. 😉

                  1. But there was no SciFi component to keep the rest of the mind entertained.

                    But yeah, Heinlein was big on implication, short on description, so not REALLY all that racy.

                    1. Wayne, actually in the indie at least, we’re getting (OMG SOME OF IT IS BAD, but then so was a lot of the golden age) SF romance (Futuristic romance — actually they classed Darkship Thieves as Futuristic Romance. don’t go looking for the sex. Like Heinlein, I’m big on implication.) SF/F and A LOT of mystery. I discovered — which is what led me to read romance — that a lot of the people to whom the traditionals said “this is not mystery” and “historicals don’t sell” shrugged, changed their name, added a couple more make-out scenes, and brought the things out as romances. Historical and cozies are now in the Romance isle. And some of them are very good, even if you flip part the hot and heavy (which largely is glued on, so I do.)

                    2. I’ve typed it before, and I expect I’ll type it again: I prefer implication. I have a real problem with graphic description, I go analytical and start thinking, “Hey if he’s six foot four and she is a petite 5 footer how can they be doing that?”

                    3. rofl. I thought I was the only one who did that. Does NOTHING for me. Except sometimes make me get my drawing manequins, pose them, look at them and go “But that would be her FOOT. Ew.”

        3. “Okay, think about how dumb the average person is. Then think about the fact that half of them are dumber than that.”

          J.R. “Bob” Dobbs

          “Bob” conflates the median with the mean, but his point, as always, is quite cogent.

      5. The problem isn’t what they know or what they don’t know: it’s what they know that isn’t so. However, if it’s any consolation this problem is exactly as prevalent among self-styled intellectuals as it is among “the average construction or oil worker.” No more, no less. And that’s probably my primary “I hate people” motivation.

  2. I guess what really bothers me is the prolonged adolescence of the humans in the US. I don’t pretend to know what is happening other places since it has been over a ten years since we left Germany. It makes me cringe. This does make me think that my Human Wave stories would be people who grow up. 😉

    1. I think it’s the prolonged adolescence of humans everywhere. In the US, it takes the form of people playing video games in their 50s; in places like Greece, it takes the form of crying when the government runs out of money to hand you.

      I think it’s possible to hate behavioral aspects of human behavior without hating people per se.

      1. Prolonged adolescence is a major problem. I see it in my children (though I try to get them to mature), I see it in most of our current “culture”, and most especially in our current President.

        Our current society isn’t broken down between “haves” and “have-nots” but between adults and adolescents – not based on age, but upon how we address problems. Adults look at the problem and try to find a solution. Adolescents pitch a temper tantrum that there aren’t any problems, it’s somebody else’s fault, and it isn’t fair. We need more adults and fewer children hiding behind arrested adolescence.

        Personally I like people in small numbers. The larger the number, the less I like being around them.

      2. Oi there. 😉 I do intend to continue playing my games into my 50s and the rest of my life if I’m so lucky as to live a life where I can. It’s not “game playing” itself that’s a mark of adolescence – it’s where you put your priorities. I know many gamers who have their priorities straight. I also know many gamers who will spend that extra $50 on a brand new game rather than money they owe someone.

        That said, my own priorities are off-kilter sometimes. I have stayed up much longer than is good for me to play a game and I’ve put off obligations because “I don’t want to right now (and the negatives aren’t bad enough to make me buck up and do it anyway)”. But on the other hand, I’ve also at times been the person who urged fiscal responsibility or talked them out of semi-reckless acts on my “better adjusted” friends and family – including once or twice my own parents, who are overall sensible, responsible people.

        I suppose my rambling point is that people can make dumb decisions sometimes and engage in behavior you find indicative of clinging to adolescence. But the truth is, it’s patterns of actually negative behavior, not what people do for fun.

        (After all, there are many who would seriously argue that unless you’re reading or writing “high” literature or non-fiction, then you’re engaging in childish behavior. So cast not stones.)

        1. (And then there’s the games with other people… While “Real Life Trumps WoW” should be engraved on everyone’s monitor, it’s also true that raids are cooperative ventures for 10-25 people, and those people are also real, for all that they’re behind the monitor. The truly irritating jerks are those who play and don’t think of the other players as anything but non-sapient, random AI, to be yelled at or ignored.)

          1. Yeah – we’re not even talking about cooperative gaming yet. From the board game you play with your family, to the tabletop or etext roleplaying game you play with friends, to the MMO group or raiding party – all of them teach valuable skills, even if it’s battle-tactics that few if any will ever use in real life or how to get someone to do something without it turning into a shoving match (which most people will need in real life).

            1. Don’t encourage Beth — we can’t talk to her until my cats forgive her!

              Seriously — guys, you are correct, BUT — and this is a big but — (looks down, yep, big… never mind) — it’s important for people to know when they don’t have the discipline. I don’t. So I don’t game . (and games with people are MORE addictive. My family lost three months of evenings to upwords. (OTOH Marshall has a great vocabulary now.)

              It’s one of those things you can’t judge for others, though, I have friends who game and write way more (and probably better) than I do.

              My own rotating the cat routines involve painting walls. To each his/her own.

              1. Yeah – I’ve known several people who’ve had to forgo playing certain games – some of them banned by their parents and others, when old enough, banning themselves. I don’t allow myself to play Facebook games anymore for that sort of reason – I get very addicted because they’re all timer-based (well, almost all of them are), so I’ll have three or four games going at once and just flip between the tabs while one tab bakes cookies, another tab farms wheat, a third builds a new fairground booth, and a fourth mixes chocolate (or whatever games I’m playing). At my worst, I could go through ten games at the same time and accomplish exactly nothing else with my day.

        2. I used to play WoW, and I still get online and play Starcraft with my buddies from 5000 miles away sometimes as a way to reconnect back home. However, too many get waaay too caught up in it(like you mentioned, with the implication of “just a few more minutes, mom”).

          The gaming thing, if a lone indicator, wouldn’t mean much if there were other aspects that weren’t neglected. But combine that with griping about being unable to go out because you have kids, or walking around the mall in tight white t-shirts at the age of 40, or looking at the weekend and declaring, at the age of 45, that all you want to do is get “so wasted”…well, those things together indicate an adolescent nature.

          Not trying to stomp on fun – just pointing out that there’s a difference between fun and immaturity. 😉

        3. There are times when I get up at 2AM and play Railroad Tycoon for three or four hours because I CAN’T SLEEP! That usually means I can’t write, either, and I HATE THAT. That’s not arrested adolescence as much as it’s redirection. If you’re busy doing something else, you don’t ‘feel’ the pain quite as badly. I know many people like that. Most of them have good priorities, but their lives sometimes dictate otherwise.

    2. the prolonged adolescence of the humans in the US

      I keep coming back to this. I think it is a full round misunderstanding of what adolescence should be. Adolescence, to my mind should be a time of transition. A period where someone gains more autonomy and should also be demonstrating a commensurate growth in being a dependable person. It recognizes that initially supervision is needed as you step out of childhood and into the adult world. The goal is to get to a point where the individual is able to enter society and thrive on their own.

      It is not adolescence, per se, in too many cases our young people get the liberties, but they are not being held personally responsible for their behavior. Adolescence has become a prolonged childhood with less fetters and different toys.

  3. Dystopia is, in large part, the exploration of bad ideas … or good ideas taken too far. So Human Wave is dystopian in displaying why some ideas are bad, and how some ideas turn bad. What HW does not do is conclude that all because some ideas are bad, and some ideas turn bad, then all ideas are bad. (Just your ideas.)

    HW challenges the reader to view life as a process and to appreciate that there must be sweet AND sour, yin AND yang, boredom AND excitement, Red Sox AND Yankees.

    1. I think the difference in the end is always hope. HW has HOPE. Hope that things, no matter how bad, CAN be fixed. Not that they will ever be perfect, but that they can be good. I think that (don’t shoot me) that’s what attracted people to the original Star Trek series, that sense of hope for the future.

      1. I once read Dean Koontz’s explanation of horror. He says that the very kernel of horror is hope. Without hope that things will get better, then it is just depression. (or something like that)

        1. I read a short story a long time ago (I believe it was in a magazine) that had as its gist the fact that Hope was at the bottom of Pandora’s Box because it was the nastiest of all the Evils. Until people had hope that things could get better, they just accepted that sometimes life was good and sometimes life was bad and got on with things. Once they started to hope, they were much more miserable because they could imagine a better world that was never going to exist.

      2. Hope? I am not sure that is required. What I think is required is a sense that it is not all pointless. It may be no more than the existential pursuit of excellence displayed by James Coburn’s character in The Magnificent Seven, but there must be recognition that life can have meaning, if we will it.

        1. Yes, even if there’s no hope, there has to be a feeling it COUNTS. In A Few Good Men at one point my characters are convinced they’re going to die and lose their battle — BUT they remember the people before them who inspired their ideals, and they think it’s important to keep trying, even if no one ever KNOWS.

  4. I have recently been exposed to a phrase that catches much truth, ‘Hurt people hurt people.’ Is there a one of us who has not been hurt? If we try our best in dealing with others, what happens? It doesn’t always work out as well as we planned. (We have all heard where the road paved with good intentions leads.) Knowing this, what do you do?

    Anyway, as a reader what do I want to read? One thing I want is heroes. Not an impossible Ubermensch that I, or anyone else in their right mind, could never aspire to emulate. (I want a measure inspiration with my escape.) However flawed the hero might be, I don’t want them to be a sniveler. Moments of doubt or fear, even threatening to overwhelm? Sure. Then find the courage to get up and do. And, while I don’t demand the hero obtains a victory in the end, or even survives, I do need a glimmer of hope. I figure that the kind of hero I want is Human Wave.

    1. There’s a problem with that slogan: while trivially true, it implies a causal connection that just does not work that way. Hurt people hurt people, not because they have been hurt, but because they are people and therefore fallible. And all the hurting is done by hurt people because all people, having spent their lives among other fallible people, have been hurt.

      There are specific patterns of damage and abuse that people learn to inflict as adults by suffering them in childhood, but those account for a tiny part of all of human pain and human error. The rest, I am afraid, is just the human condition being what it is.

      1. I learned this phrase as a recognition for what is, not as an excuse. We live in a world of brokenness, and that hurts. It is what you do with that knowledge. Some want to call it quits on mankind across the board. Others think that it can be somehow managed and made perfect — which is a nightmare of hurt in itself. I choose to look the brokenness in the eye and say, ‘Less.’

  5. To me, Human Wave says hope. Yeah, people make mistakes that have consequences. Heroes have flaws, foibles, can outrun Bold Sir Robin sometimes, but they don’t give up hope.

    One of the themes of my current project is “don’t curl up and die. We Azdhagi made a massive error in trying to perfect ourselves, and then two 90% unrelated disasters have wreaked utter havoc on us, but we cannot give up.” Why not? Pride, fear of being overrun by someone else, being pack animals that believe their pack will survive even if others collapse, sheer stubborn refusal to quit, being too stupid to know that they are supposed to roll on their collective backs and die, . . . but the Azdhagi are going to survive, darn it! Not exactly surfing the Human Wave (Azdhagi don’t float too well) but a tangential part of it.

      1. two words, persistence and battling. Three words, persistence, battling, striving and a drive for excellence. Okay, okay, five words, persistence, battling, striving, drive for excellence and desire to do better. Six… should I come in again?

          1. Here is my personal HW story-
            When I was in the hospital (ICU) all wired up to everything, the head nurse of the ICU at Landstuhl hospital walked into my room. The first thing she said to me was that I was dying and I should prepare to die.

            I knew it. I knew I was slipping away. When it is happening you know it. But, I was not going to leave my husband. He had lost one wife in Germany and I wouldn’t be the second wife he lost there. I held on until my doctor got me into a kidney ward of a German hospital. The doctors there diagnosed me and saved my life.

            I have been through a lot since then…but, if I hadn’t been willing to force myself to stay, I would have been dead. … and I wouldn’t be bothering you guys here. I didn’t allow the nurse’s words to come true.

            1. The nurse was right, you know. To be alive is to be dying, and we should all be prepared to die: that is a major premise of most religions. As the saying goes, Today is a good day to die. Tomorrow may be an even better day, pace Scarlett O’Hara.

              To surf the Human Wave is to sing that dying is inevitable, so we’re going in style. (HT: J. Ringo)

              1. RES – I agree that we will eventually die… I do disagree that “today is a good day to die.” NOPE no way, … It is the ones who are determined to live, and live well, who I think are heroes. It is harder to live than to die. Can’t remember the character – “dying is easy for you and me, its the living that’s hard.”

                Looked it up – Clint Eastwood in Outlaw Josey Wales…

                And the head nurse of my experience needed that ICU bed for an incoming soldier. It was more like “die already.” lol

                1. Sorry. “Today is a good day to die” has specific associations which do not mean that dying today is a good thing. IIRC, it was (supposedly) uttered by Amerindian warriors just prior to entering battle. It is akin to your first sergeant’s question “Do you want to live forever?”

                  1. (A Dwarven battle cry rings out.)


                    ‘Oh, no!’ moaned Carrot. ‘Not that one!’

                    ‘What did she yell?’ Angua said, as she pulled Carrot out of the way.

                    ‘It’s the most menacing dwarf battle cry there is! Once it’s been shouted someone has to be killed!’

                    ‘What’s it mean?’

                    ‘Today Is A Good Day For Someone Else To Die!’

                  2. Most commonly attributed to Crazy Horse, I have seen it attributed to many other famous Indians. I always liked the saying in the context it was supposedly used in, taken out of context, maybe not so well.

              2. Well, I suppose it’s better to be told that death’s a possibility. It would be terrible not to be ready to go, unless you were in optimum conditions (like right after leaving the confessional, that kind of thing). Personally, I’d prefer even a few seconds to get my soul packed to travel. But telling people that they are going to die, straight out… That could be very bad for the suggestible, and yet it might save the life of the ornery. I wonder what the nurse was thinking, and if she were being stupid or shrewd.

                But it’s a funny thing, how some people can choose when and whether to go — and it’s something that doctors and nurses and nursing homes see a lot. There’s something a little bit weird about us humans, no question.

                1. They told me that, too, when I had pneumonia. Actually a doctor informed me I was going to die anyway with strong hints of “hurry up” because I was inconveniencing every one and costing my husband work days, and after all — curling sneer of lip — as a housewife, what good was I to my family or society? I wasn’t CONTRIBUTING anything. (And no, I’m not joking.)

                  1. YEP – … I had more sympathy from the German nurses than the American-trained nurses. There has to be some problem with this … My doctors in the German hospital were excited. They had never seen Wegener’s Granulomatosis before. it was a challenge. 😉

                    1. G-d bless the ornery ones, for they are source of all change. It was an ornery one who first said “Screw this rock knife, I think I can chip an edge onto it.”

                  2. “Not contributing anything”? That does not mean you would never contribute anything. Besides, when the universe reaches heat death, who will have contributed anything?

                2. As I understand Jesus’ teaching, you should always be packed and ready. Happily, all you need is a clean conscience, and if I understand correctly, He does laundry*.

                  *Offer not available in all states. Only applicants in state of Grace will be accepted.

                  1. He also said something about fruits that I’ve found helpful in evaluating (not “judging”, but determining if I really wanted to associate with that person or group) others. I’ve never come close to dying, although there were a few times when I’ve wondered whether my future was going to be measured in decades, or in minutes. Getting shot at is one thing that can get you straight with the Man Upstairs in a hurry! There aren’t many things I actively hate, and they’re all behavioral – like child abuse or neglect. Most of my physical problems were more or less self-inflicted, so I guess my Purgatory is taking place on Earth. I want death to have to sneak up on me, wrestle with me for a long time, and decide it just ain’t worth the trouble.

                    1. Mebbe that is why he is typically portrayed as skeletal, to represent all those who did not go quietly?

                3. My dad swore I’d live forever. Well, not exactly. His EXACT words were that “you’re too stubborn to give up and too stupid to quit.” I truly resemble that remark!

    1. ”Arise, arise, Riders of Theoden! Fell deeds awake: fire and slaughter! Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered; a sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises! Ride now, ride now! Ride to Gondor!”
      [Theoden, _LotR_]

      ” o/~ Yes, we’ll keep on tryin’/
      Tread that fine line/
      Yes, we’ll keep on tryin’/
      And whatever will be, will be! o/~ ”
      [“Innuendo”, Queen]

  6. So much here. My personal experience with “I hate people” suggests it’s more “I really hated high school and other teen-agers” – and too many people who get stuck there and never get over it. They go to college and hang out with other people who really hated high school, assume they’re superior to the rest of humanity, then manage to go into some bubble career like media and never learn that everyone hated high school, everyone’s an idiot as a teen-ager, and most people grow up eventually and turn out okay (and a lot of people who didn’t do well in an academic environment are brilliant when they get out of if). (Granted, there’s also all the nonsense kids are told about evil greedy polluting businesses and such.)

    I just spent the weekend at my favorite local SF convention. Among all the other goings on, whenever self-e-pubbing came up, more than one author (or would-be author) would exclaim how it’s all a scam, all the big success stories were all about marketing, often said with real vehemence; all I can think is, how could anyone have such contempt for readers?

    1. It’s a scam? All the big success stories were about marketing?? Isn’t that what we’ve been discovering about trad publishing? Best sellers sell best because of heavy marketing push, sales figures are made up to support expected sales …

  7. Oddly enough, I read your article right after reading the Hot Air article about Lech Walesa’s endorsement of Mitt Romney. To someone from my era, an endorsement from Walesa is practically an anointment from On High. If there is any living secular saint, it’s Walesa–and like Martin Luther King, Jr., whom he resembles in many respects, his sainthood wasn’t entirely secular.

    Yet the lamestream news media focused entirely on Romney’s legitimate negative comparison between Palestinians and Israelis. And, for what it’s worth, many leftists in the past have done much worse, and tried to paint Lech Walesa, falsely, as an anti-Semite.

    I’m tempted to say, “Is nothing sacred?” But in point of fact, few things are, and Lech Walesa isn’t either. He is, however, good, and worthy of being celebrated and emulated, and taught as a role model.

    And here’s where I get to my point. The leftist argument is almost always based on finding, or in this case creating out of whole cloth, ONE fault in the people they oppose, and implying therefore that their achievements should be torn down. Ronald Reagan liberated tens of millions of people from tyranny? F*ck you, you racist, he kicked off his 1980 campaign in a KKK area. The NRA fights for the right of the weak to have effective self-defense? F*ck you, the NRA was formed in the same year that the KKK was outlawed [and for good reason; it was founded by Union generals who were upset at the poor marksmanship of Union troops and wanted it to get better, while the KKK was inspired by the same war, but from the opposite side–but f*ck you, you old tired fart, we don’t have to listen to facts because WE ARE THE FUTURE until someone actually confronts us, at which point we run crying back to our computer keyboards]. People are skeptical that there is sufficient threat from global warming, if it even exists, to abolish the Industrial Revolution? F*ck you, you’re all a bunch of creationists unlike us, who are the sexy people who don’t let religious prudes order us around (after all, we watch Bill Maher and he always talks about sex. Also, we talk on Reddit about rape, because we are not sexually repressed like you f*cks).

    Note that none of these arguments actually analyzes the opposite viewpoint as a whole. They just assume that one flaw, whether real or imagined, completely invalidates the opposite world view. Never do they actually propose anything better. They don’t bring up racism as a means of improving black people’s lives; you would no more see a Reddit poster in Harlem than you’d see them in rural Alabama. They are quite content to let black people, or gays, or anyone else, suffer and die; they merely use them as shields to justify their own lack of character or accomplishments.

    The question is what we do about these scum. The usual GOP solution is to give them everything they want and then hope the outrage against their extremism rebounds to the GOP’s benefit. Needless to say, I don’t agree with this solution.

    I don’t intend to take the Mark Steyn route, either, of predicting the End Times and making jokes about this. I get the impression that Steyn thinks this is a war against the Second Law of Thermodynamics, when it is actually a war against specific people (using the term “people” loosely). And, I’m sorry, but no way in Hell will I let these trash win.

    So the problem then becomes, once again, how do we deal with these low-life parasites?

    I’m open for suggestions.

    1. The inverse is also true. When they sanctify one of their own, all faults are ignored, to the point some court flack will seriously write that, if she could only know the significance of Teddy Kennedy’s achievements, Mary Jo Kopechne might well consider the sacrifice of her life a small price to have paid. Desmond Tutu’s rabid antisemitism is ignored, the priapism of JFK and Bill Clinton irrelevant or even admirable; Herman Cain – not so much. The rampant misogyny of their attacks on Sarah Palin or Michele Bachmann is dismissed on the grounds that “she isn’t a woman, she’s a Republican” instead of recognized as the classic treatment of somebody who “doesn’t know their place.”

    2. This is a bit off-topic from the rest of your argument, but just how “rural” does a Reddit poster from Alabama have to be? Because there are cows just down the road, but my town does actually show up on a map. Usually. Sometimes. Okay, so they only real reason it does (sometimes) is because we have a small university.

      Reddit isn’t a haven for only the batty progressive left. I have at times been (sometimes justifiably) called batty and while a few of my ideals might be popular with progressives or Democrats, largely my politics align with center, conservative, and/or Libertarian type views. (Our hostess and I have very very similar views, if that helps any.)

      I’ve seen some really vile things on Reddit, but I’ve also seen some moments so touching I’ve cried. I’ve also laughed with pure joy or enjoyed the cleverness of wit and the schadenfreude of a good burn. I’ve seen some seriously fascinating debates and people who were ignorant admit to it and learn.

      Reddit is very much the same as the rest of humanity. You take it how you find it. And if you know where to look, you can find people not only worth knowing, but even looking up to. (I don’t follow anyone in particular, but for example – there’s a biology teacher who will comment on a lot of science-y posts and explain what’s going on/what something is, and the coolest bits of information about it in a way that makes the information engaging. I always know it’s the same guy by the way people will respond to him with, “Ah – and there’s where I’ve tagged you as “Excited Biologist!” or “Just tagged you as…” and so on.)

      I’ll stop rambling now. Mainly felt the need to point out that you can’t judge what people are likely to be posting from (I really hate my entire state being discounted as nothing more than rural, backwards numpties, whose religion is probably High, education Low, and politics Decidedly Rightwing) and Reddit no better than Mos Eisley.

      1. I went to a Quaker boarding school in a rural town in eastern Tennessee that made the maps AND had cows. It also was where I first encountered real live KKK. Not. Nice. People. Back in Philadelphia, where I grew up, neither were their counterparts in the Panthers. Haters are all over the board. Prejudice is all over the board. And on the boards…

        ///not entirely bunny trail: Momma taught me not to judge a book by its cover. (If you get a chance to read our esteemed hostess’ Draw One in the Dark in hard copy, keep this in mind…;-) )

        1. I drive a road every weekend, just 20 miles from Cincinnati, that has cows on one side of the road and $300k houses on the other side.

          When I was growing up, there were 3-6 blacks in my High School, depending on the year, and I don’t recall them having any race-based trouble. I suspect that is largely because farmers don’t care what you look like, as long as you pull your own load and don’t rock the boat.

          Now, though, the population in that area has grown by leaps and bounds (part of the reason I found Sarah’s assertion that overall population was falling difficult to swallow), including a lot of Section 8 housing, and I believe that one of the people I went to school with was recently targeted by some sort of haters (she wasn’t specific on Facebook, but the comments from people who knew more than me made it sound bad). I honestly think that in general, it’s the lower rungs of society where this concentrates.

          Did I have a point here? I’m not sure – I think I lost track somewhere along the way. Sorry for the rambling babble…

          1. No. a) people are or were till recently moving HERE. b) patterns of how people live are changing. I think our big cities are losing population but since we add random “uncountables” we can know.

            Again, the area I came from went from village/fields to high rises in 30 years, but in compensation there are vast areas of empty land/villages.

            1. I have to say that I know the city of Cincinnati proper has lost population, but that has largely been because the news has presented a view that the city is unsafe. People leave because they are afraid. The metropolitan area, however, has expanded.

              I’m not saying you’re wrong. You’ve been places. I have not. I’m just saying that my local experience is at least part of why I had a hard time believing it.

              Another thing that skews the evidence in my area is that a massively important Interstate Highway corridor runs through here. The I71/75 bridge carries something like twice the cars and 5 times the trucks that it was designed for, and is overdue for replacement. But of course much of that traffic, especially the trucks, is just passing through on their way to other destinations.

              1. Oh, Ohio is presenting the same pattern as Portugal — some areas are growing, but the vast majority of the small towns look like ghost towns. I was shocked when we went there two years ago. I remember it active and thriving in the eighties.
                HOWEVER I blame the weather most of all.

                1. Ohio has lost a great deal of its employment to the collapse in American manufacturing. It is often referred to as the heart of the rust belt. (Interesting fact of no real use, Ohio has the largest number of residential in-ground pools, a result of the once thriving economy.)

                    1. It is interesting to contemplate the effects of Willis Haviland Carrier’s little invention. It makes the South habitable.

                  1. I wonder if should do a blog post on WHY I think population is actually going down. The problem is, to do a substantiated one, I’d need to take the week off and hunt down statistics to explain what smells bad and why. So I keep putting it off.

                    1. Do the post on the analytical methods involved — tie it to a “How to …” research theme. Employ the same “sniff test” as should be used with any political poll (e.g., look at the sample population; is the proportion of Ds, Rs & Is reasonable?)

                    2. This may mean we never see the blog post on it, but, please, finish what will aid in keeping you and yours fed and cared for.

                    3. This is somewhat of a priority. While a little of the money crunch has eased, OTOH it hasn’t plugged the hole left by the various ‘mini disasters’ that have hit since January. And making the pressure worse, we’re moving next year — have to. Dan’s job is moving to another city. So… if at times I sound distracted, you know why.
                      There will be fundraiser and store but those TOO take time. :/

                    4. I hope they’re moving Dan with it? Whatever you did to get the neighbor to put the dog-doo dollar on your porch, step it up, quickly!

                    5. Yes, they are. Unfortunately that means we need to catch up on ALL the deferred maintenance, etc, because this house will have to go up for sale. Mind you, values in our area don’t seem to have fallen, BUT the sales time has gone up. And no, I can’t stay behind and wait for the house to sell. You can’t sell a house with four cats living in it. You just can’t. let alone the people who won’t come to view it because they’re allergic, controlling cats in/out is an issue for viewings and then there the pukomatic.
                      Right now our best solution would seem to be to rent something small where Dan’s job is almost 100% for sure moving and take the cats with us. BUT that, on top of repairs and two boys in college is great financial strain. Which boils down to “Sarah, stop worrying about money and WRITE FASTER.” I hear you.

          2. Interesting, in 2011 I went to Ohio Anime and Gaming Con with The Daughter just northeast of Cincinnati on the beltway. I was surprised at the level of empty before you hit the city. There have been dramatic shifts in where the population presently lives in this country. While I live in a county that is loosing agricultural land to development, I know that is not what is going on throughout the country.

            Large sections of cities that were formally involved in auto production in Michigan have been de-populated and some cities have chosen to bull doze the empty housing (see: Flint). In the pan handle of Oklahoma there are miles of abandoned houses. The population of the city in West Virginia where The Spouse was born has been dropping since 1950. The city of Philadelphia was shrinking from 1950 until 2010, in this case in large part due to flight to the suburbs of both business and people. It remains nearly half a million less than it was in 1950.

            1. Hmm… perhaps I have made it sound like I live in Ohio. I don’t. I live across the river in KY. I don’t get to northern Cincinnati much. Some areas around there are suffering from the downsizing of the GE complex there over the past 20 years or so.

                1. OK, that looks strange. The invitqtion to grab a cup and shoot the bull stands, just don’t judge me by my posting tonight…too many irons in the fire

                2. Sure! I work in the Enquirer building. We should easily be able to meet in the middle somewhere.

  8. Look Ken –
    That problem has been my dilemma for most of my life. If you face certain arguments, you get painted a racist or worse. If you step aside and ignore them (some people you can ignore), these same people take a mile instead of an inch.

    It really burns me. You see it on the lowest levels. For instance, there was this girl in our area who would burn dogs with a cigarette, spit on people, and hit younger children. The few people that stood up to her and her family ended in jail for 30-90 days. Why? Her father towed cars for the police department.

    So good men (and women do something) and still get burned. I think the backlash against Marxism and socialism should start in our communities, in our schools, and in our local governments. If we can’t get our homes cleaned up, then we can’t get the bigger picture cleaned up.


    PS … the socialist started my getting elected dog catcher. Then they went for the finances. I have seen this take-over bid everywhere I have lived including Germany. We need to start there…(Finances as the secretary, the clerk, the Secretary of State, and so forth)

    1. Well, part of the solution is not being concerned when people call you a racist. Words can hurt you, but shoving the person using them to hurt you, hard, onto his ass can hurt him much more.

      1. Actually, if I had to give the Right one piece of advice, it would be to stop being so damned reasonable. It’s OK to hate the other side, who are mostly one snort away from rape and murder. I guarantee that if enough of them get their heads bounced hard off pavement, that they will adhere to their cowardly natures and run off and hide.

        At the very least, stop the philosophical whining about “What would the media be saying if it were a Republican were doing what Democrats were doing?” Ask instead, “Why the Hell AREN’T Republicans doing what Democrats are doing?”

        1. There are better ways to fight than to hate. Ridicule is the greatest weapon in the world. The other way is to say “This is just plain wrong, and you’re wrong to try to force it.” You still need to have the wherewithal to stand up and not get knocked down immediately, or a big enough crowd the other side decides physical violence is a losing proposition. That’s why the entire Left HATES the Tea Party. It says what the Left is doing is stupid, it won’t work, and there are enough of them that no one will take them on face-to-face. I have to admit, though, that I’d LOVE to be at a Tea Party rally with about 20 of my friends, and for SEIU to send a bunch of goons to disrupt the rally. Of course, the more the Lamestream media tries to portray the Tea Party as violent will eventually create a self-fulfilling prophecy. The left cannot back down or back off, so they’ll continue to push until the Tea Partiers say “That’s enough.” WHEN that happens, the Left will need to buy a lot of caskets.

        2. Didn’t your Momma teach you two wrongs don’t make a right? Sorry, however understandable the desire to smash heads (one reason for Hulk’s popularity) it just cannot result in the right change. Liberty through intimidation is an oxymoron.

  9. I’m not sure it’s entirely political. Or, perhaps more accurately, ONLY political. I think that there are types of people who grow or are born with different perspectives on the world. And for those of us in THIS group THEM over THERE must live on Bizarro World. I’m sure they think the same about us.

    Part of my contribution to the Human Wave, (I hope to say), will be the recognition and teaching that mankind is made up of the worst kinds of screw-ups, and that we fail and fail and lose and lose until … we win. And that’s what life’s about — not that you live in ease and comfort, but that, in struggling, you surpass yourself.


      1. Well, yeah. OK. So I chose a wrong word. We’ll fix it in the edit. ::grin:: Let’s say, “It’s not entirely about governing philosophies.”

        Although… You’re right in the larger sense. That the art of getting along in groups has been subsumed in the lust for power over others.


    1. Politics is an expression of a deeper meme, an understanding of the world and how it operates. Which is why the recent “You didn’t build that” speech has resonated so deeply on both sides of the cultural divide. Read criticisms of the Right’s response by mainstream Leftists, such as E. J. Dionne, Jr. and Richard Cohen.

      They may be deeply deceptive but Occam’s Razor strongly suggests instead that they are deeply delusional. They may really believe that the Right wants to abolish all government. They may believe that the Right is against taxes out of greed rather than a belief that higher taxes suppresses the economy (Ernst & Young calculates that increasing taxes on “the Rich” will cost the economy 710,000 jobs and 1.3% economic growth [ ] ) — just as they believe they are “the smart ones” and that all who disagree with them are just big fat dummies.

      Heck, they may even be right. Certainly they have their own arguments to make [ ].

      The issue of Politics essentially comes down to the same thing as does Religion: what do you believe about the world. In that debate, it is useful to remember the argument made by Oz’s Wizard: certificates of attributes matter more than attributes. Just ask anybody who possesses such certificates.

      1. I find it endlessly hilarious that I am starting to hear the same rumors about the various shenanigans that Obama is going to pull to wag the dog/rig the election/stay in office even if he loses from conservatives that I heard about Bush from progressives that I heard about Clinton from conservatives.

        1. Whoops, I meant to add, because it’s why I said that in response to your post: “Neither side realizes how effing nuts they sound when they do this, and they both do it, to more or less the same proportion.”

      2. RES – I haven’t read a word of what E. J. Dummshucks has written since Columbine. The man has fewer functioning brain cells than he has toes. I refuse to wade in his cesspool.

        1. Dionne and his ilk represent the mainstream of the progressives. Skimming them is like listening in on Pravda broadcasts: repulsive but useful for monitoring enemy transmissions for the lies they are telling themselves. Helps pinpoint areas of vulnerability.

  10. Yay, another post about Human Wave. I was wondering if it had all died out (I notice the domain name of is gone).

    I’m loving to see so much more SF and other writing coming out now that pushes down this idea that humans are horrible parasites that should be eradicated. Or that stories should be all about gray goo and not have a point or a hero. Yay for heroes! We need more of them. We need more poeple inspired by them to stand up for what they believe is right.

    Now I’m off to write more human wave. 🙂

    1. We’re supposed to rebuild the site. We ALSO have a logo. I’ve just been sick, and as I said, if I don’t push the thing, it doesn’t move. So, push, push, push

      1. Oh goodie. There are several writers I want to point in that direction, but the domain hasn’t been coming up. I”m looking forward to seeing what kind of logo you designed.

        I hope you start feeling better soon!

  11. On implying not showing and differences in size involving sex, I recently read a fantasy story where we learn that this critter the size of a 747 is the male version of some human-sized critters (who are female). Not sure how that would work and the atuhor didn’t tell us. [Wink]

    1. Dan got a free book from Amazon that had all this stuff about women having sex with mythological characters. (THAT’s not what he thought it was. However, when he figured out that’s what it was–) He became fascinated by the physical impossibilities and would wake me in the middle of the night to read the rankest passages at me, then give me the equations that proved it was impossible.

      My daddy DID warn me not to marry a mathematician.

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