The Temperature At Which The Internet Burns

Today I’m still busy finishing Noah’s Boy.  No, I didn’t run out of steam, but I had to write the big confrontation scene and I didn’t have the energy late at night.  It’s amazing how much energy it takes to type, when your character is clambering up on a roller coaster that’s on fire, while fighting the villain and trying to save the villain’s son.  It’ s like you feel every movement.  You know those experiments they did, where people lost weight while imagining doing exercise?  I think it’s something like that.

The last novel I wrote before the first that was published (it does too parse.  Go back and read the sentence again) had an extensive military campaign towards the end.  Since this was set in the bronze age, there was a lot of sword swinging and horse riding and rope climbing and…

I’d write for four hours and feel like I couldn’t even boil an egg.  I was going to eat the first thing that crossed my path.  So, while working on those sequences, we lived a block from a pizza parlor.  I don’t even like pizza, but I’d call them at noon every time and get a medium delivered and finish it in like five minutes.

Anyway, this isn’t a long scene, but I find when I’m tired or out of it, I’ll outline action rather than write it, and I didn’t want to risk that.

Also, I’m slightly worried because towards the end sequences with laugh-out-loud scenes alternate with horrific ones.  But – BAH – the editors will let me know how it plays.  So will the first readers.

Meanwhile, since my attention right now is on finishing this and finishing the typo hunt, I don’t have time to set the internets on fire.  So I thought I’d leave you guys with a few cans of gasoline and a lighter.  (According to Hoyt, the place where the internet catches fire and burns.)

So, my friend Pat Richardson found this quote:

“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”

― Madeleine L’Engle

It relates wonderfully to Heinlein’s statement that he put the big ideas in his YA because teens were more likely to think about them, while the adults had already made up their mind.  I don’t remember exactly, and I don’t know what the latest in psychology is, but my Piaget said that adolescence was when you processed systems of ideas.  (Does this make philosophers cases of arrested development?)

I came at the YA Heinlein’s late, having read his adult books first, but I used the YAs to introduce ideas (and ideas of freedom) to my sons at appropriate times.

You can say Harry Potter still – to an extent – deals with big ideas.  (One of the things that amazed me is how she showed how easily a bureaucracy can be corrupted and yet still holds on to ideas of big government.  I guess a lot of artists don’t integrate what they know emotionally – the art – with what they’ve been told intellectually.  Or perhaps, being outliers, they want to be in with the in crowd.  Joss Whedon you may call your office.)  It deals with the fact that the individual can make a difference, that there can be exceptional people, and that big systems and people who are in authority can be wrong/corrupted.

Few of the other YAs floating around do.  You could say that Twilight deals with the misunderstood outsider, but truly, victimology is something that the kids get from the establishment and aplenty.

I haven’t read Hunger Games, yet, and I’m not sure I will – I hate these artificial “sacrifice” books.  I hated The Lottery.  I hate the idea these are necessitated by excess population.  In Hunger Games, you add the fact that as a mother I can’t imagine any parent letting their kids do this, unless they’re the functional equivalent of Hollywood Moms.

On the other hand, the book fascinates me because I find it odd that both the right and the left see themselves in that book.

I know the publishers perceived it left, which is part of my distaste in attempting to read it.  I don’t think they push anything they don’t perceive extreme left.  On the other hand, they’re very, very dumb, so it’s hard to tell.

However, it seems to me most YA literature deals with the body and not the mind.  Yes, adolescence is when the kids deal with big ideas.  It is also when they deal with sexual impulses for the first time.  Most YA literature – under the guise of being new and special and daring, even though this has been done since I was a teen – soaks them in hormones, sex, victimology and sex.  The victimology is, of course, how the establishment justifies the rest (We’re making them aware of the plight of transgendered, pansexual, one eyed, one legged immigrants from Panasia.)  In the pursuit of this, they often seem to write books set in the fifties or before, when this stuff actually shocked people.  (Of course most of the publishing establishment/writers were kids in the fifties.  Don’t they realize the world has changed?  Do they live in a shell?)

The interesting thing to me, is that these seem to sell worse than the Heinlein juveniles they stigmatize and “squeaky clean” and “goody two-shoes” did in their time, and also that they’re turning readers off books in droves.  Perhaps because the kids aren’t as interested in what old people think their sexual lives should be as the old people would like to think.  After all ideas are timeless, but every generation thinks they invented sex.  (For no apparent reason I’m flashing on the Real Sex programs that we sometimes caught when we weren’t too quick to turn the channel, were watching late at night and had cable – right after nine eleven we didn’t sleep much for about a year.  It seems like the people parading their sex lives in public always had white body hair.  Make of that what you will.)  Perhaps it is that these victim/sex/oppression books are all the same.  Soma doesn’t work very well when it’s always the same soma.

Can the kids be reclaimed?  Even though the schools are trying to teach them/condition them to neither think nor question?  I don’t know.  I do know that the establishment will never do it with their YA books.  (Flash Dilbert “You’ll never survive by your wits alone”.)  So, that leaves it to us to try.

Anyway.  I have a dragon and a saber tooth to deal with.  Oh yeah.  And a wooden rollercoaster.  On fire.

You guys go forth with this here gasoline can and set fire to the internets.




249 responses to “The Temperature At Which The Internet Burns

  1. > It relates wonderfully to Heinlein’s statement that he put the big ideas in his YA because teens were more likely to think about them, while the adults had already made up their mind.

    Heinlein certainly formed much of my character.

    Thankfully, I mostly read his stuff that talked about space exploration, scouting, and military ethics as a youth ; the crazy polygamy and sex-with-anything-that-moves stuff only got read later, when I was less impressionable. 😉

    • Well, I read that earlier, and it didn’t stick. It was “window dressing.” He always had escape hatches like “if that’s how you feel.”

      But also, by the time I read it, a lot of the sexual-psychological theory he’d bought into had already exploded in people’s faces, and I viewed those kind of like I viewed magic in fantasy “Oh, purty, but not real.”

      • > a lot of the sexual-psychological theory he’d bought into had already exploded in people’s faces


        There’s a reason that ideals like “honor, hard work, and responsibility” get handed down from generation to generation for thousands of years, and “free love, sloth, and unparented children” get reinvented by each new batch of idiots. 😉

  2. I suggest Andrew Klavan’s YA titles, especially the Homelanders series, starting with The Last Thing I Remember. Guaranteed: they will NOT make you cringe.

    Klavan has stated elsewhere that he wrote these books fully aware that his targeted audience was accustomed to the high-speed world of gaming; call it Short Attention Span Literature.

    But his books engage the mind and explore big ideas of what America is.

    • I think I bought that one. Whether I can find it, it’s something else. It was before the health went south last year.

      • More recently he published If We Survive, about a youth group trip to help the downtrodden in Central America, and what happens when Los Revolucion arrives. Here is a great 1-star endorsement at Amazon:

        Thinly veiled right-wing propaganda, December 26, 2012
        One-dimensional, annoying characters, recycled plotlines, and cheap dialogue – tiresome. There are many other, better books out there. A waste of time.

        Klavan knows how to build a thriller (at least, he knew how to do that before he became corrupted by conservative christianist opinions, at which point his writing went straight to … do Progressives have a Hell? I mean, other than their idea of Utopia?

  3. On Rowling: I frequently marveled at how she communicated the inherent untrustworthiness of the MSM and Government bureaucrats without ever recognizing the contradictions with her own politics.

    Given her personal experience with the Media I can understand whence comes Rita Skeeter, but as for the government, well … see: He Beats Me But He’s My Publisher.

    • > I frequently marveled at how she communicated the inherent untrustworthiness of the MSM and Government bureaucrats without ever recognizing the contradictions with her own politics.

      See also David Simon (of “The Wire”) who sees just how dysfunctional government is, yet wants more of it.

    • I don’t really care what an author’s politics are especially when the messages in the books are what I consider to be good messages. Harry Potter definitely qualifies and I wonder what Rowlings politics really are in her heart. In addition to Harry Potter, my kids like Lord of the Rings (& Hobbit), Chronicles of Narnia, and books like that – mostly pretty conservative. They read them over and over. They read some of these other ones y’all talk about, but they’re unimpressed. I try and read most of the books that my kids do so I at least know what they’re being exposed to. I’ve never restricted what they read (or the movies they watch) other than to suggest that they might likely find some or a lot of it disturbing/upsetting (and pretty much every time I say that they decide not to read/watch). So I know that they’re not being exposed very much to the books that y’all are concerned about.

      To me The Hunger Games is very very anti-government and is so dystopian that I can’t really see it as a Leftist book (or a conservative one either). My kids loved it (as did all of their friends). The other kids’ parents and I found it very disturbing. What could be more horrible for a parent than that dystopia (no, that’s not a challenge to the authors here)? My reaction was that in comparison it made Orwell’s 1984 look like a sunny walk in the park.

      • I read the first one, and enjoyed it – the MC is made a pawn of a terrible spectacle designed as an instrument of oppression and instead turns it against the oppressors. The triumph of the determination of a few stalwart souls against all odds always makes for a good story. But the later ones… I don’t know, they just didn’t hold my interest. Felt like the plot kinda wandered off and forgot to come back.

        • The Hunger Games was very good. It’s one of the best portrayals of PTSD I’ve ever seen, and it’s got a great chick conflict between two potential lovers, one of which is the good man, and one of whom isn’t. It’s also, though, BRUTAL if you spent any time behind the iron curtain. My wife, who’s Hungarian and old enough to have been a Young Pioneer, is strongly affected by the book. The distinction between in-group (Capital, Party Members) and out-groups (Districts, Little People), is very accurately done.

          • Um… since I have my own PTSD to deal with…. I’d rather not?

            • Sure – not saying “hey go read it.” I don’t buy into the notion that every book is worthwhile for all people. I’m just saying the author does a good job.

          • I was interested in reading The Hunger Games, until I watched the movie a month ago. The previews really made it look good, but I was very disappointed. The books would almost certianly have to be better.

            • It is very definitely YA fiction, so it may just not be deep enough for it. I was very skeptical at first myself, but while there are places I wish it had gone (much) further, I think it’s quite successful at what it set out to achieve (and the love triangle is a big part of that).

    • Yes, Rowling wound up being quite a disappointment at the end, there, didn’t she. I got the feeling she had rigid ideas on How Things Were Going To Be, and she forced her story into it, and it didn’t fit. The natural story seemed like it needed to go in a different direction. (One clue – Voldemort never really gelled as a character, I felt she kept trying to combine all things evil into him, with no underlying understanding of a character and background that would make these things plausible, if that makes any sense. And all the Bad People were automatically allies, even when their form of villainy had nothing in common. As detestable as I found Dolores Umbridge, I didn’t see her siding with the Death Eaters – and how interesting it would have been if the good guys would have been forced to use her as an ally.)

      • Yeah. This is when I end up fighting a book at the end, and finding something that works. EVEN in — like NB — and exquisitely plotted book, it rarely holds at the ending, because by then the characters have grown and have ideas of their own.

      • I have observed that there are a whole category of people who do not so much exercise from principles, but look to exercise power.

        Dolores Umbridge was a self-interested company man, with a small mind, and a dislike of anything messy, such as children and non-human magic users. She was wed to the ministry, whoever ran it she would be there. Terms like useful idiot come to mind.

        • I guess I thought of Dolores Umbridge as, say, a detestable British civil servant, delighting in exercising petty power over others, but who would never have sided with Hitler if he’d taken conquered England. Even detestable civil servants draw the line somewhere. It would have been much more interesting, at least. (I would have loved for Harry’s terrible family to help defend Hogwarts, too. ^_^)

          I’ve always thought that, if there’s ever a real battle between good and evil, people would be surprised at some of the people who showed up on either side.

            • “Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Nazi. They may be the gentle philosopher whose name is in the Blue Book, or Bill from City College to whom democracy gave a chance to design airplanes—you’ll never make Nazis out of them. But the frustrated and humiliated intellectual, the rich and scared speculator, the spoiled son, the labor tyrant, the fellow who has achieved success by smelling out the wind of success—they would all go Nazi in a crisis.”

              I’m cynical enough to say that I have to disagree with both of these statements; certainly people in Germany from both categories followed, or turned against, Nazism. Granted, that’s because “who goes Nazi” is a very complicated thing. The frustrated and humiliated intellectual, the spoiled son, and the others, can still identify bigotry and murder and be horrified. The good kind people may be misled, get caught up in the surface rhetoric and close their eyes to reality – the low information voter of today. Even nasty little power-hungry bigots have chosen to fight against greater evils (granted, it may be they’re fighting against those awful foreigners ^_^).

              • yes, of course. But what I meant is that I think J. K. Rowling was following this sort of thought. And certainly, I can imagine a bureaucrat going “well… you know… more power for me.”

                • Where I veer off is I didn’t see Umbridge’s main motivation as simply wanting power. I think she absolutely believed she was right, and that’s far more dangerous.

                  • Of course Umbridge believed she was right. She wouldn’t be quite so despicable if she didn’t. She allowed that she targeted Potter, because she saw him as the co-source, with Dumbledore, of problems suffered by her much admired Fudge. (They were messy.) Ultimately, she wanted power to exercise control so she could create her lovely organized world.

                    She did agree with certain parties about the issue of non-human magic users. She also agreed with top down control by experts. (She assumed that she would remain part of the elite.) That she could not see where this was all leading? She was too self absorbed. She, like many bullies, is a bit of a coward, as well. So I am not sure that she could bring herself to become part of a fight against Voldemort once he had taken control of the ministry.

                    No, I have not put far too much thought into this…

                    • “Of course Umbridge believed she was right. She wouldn’t be quite so despicable if she didn’t.”

                      Few evil characters believe in their heart they’re evil. That’s one of the fun things about hating them.

                  • “I beseech you, in the bowels of Christ, think it possible you may be mistaken.” – Oliver Cromwell

                    Delores Umbridge would never think it possible.

                    • I think Dolores Umbridge’s bigotry against non-human magical beings was Rowling’s equivalent of a handlebar mustache & black hat on the character. It was gratuitous and existed to ensure the reader knew she was eeeeeee-vil.

                    • Wayne Blackburn

                      Took me a while to figure out how to articulate it, but finally:

                      I don’t think it was merely a method of showing how evil she was. It was of similar nature to the prejudice against blacks that existed in the U.S. As long as they “knew their proper place”, I’m sure Umbridge had no significant problem with them, but once they had arrogated themselves to believe that they were equal to humans, then they were to be shown the error of their ways. She probably had no problem with house-elves, because they knew their place, and as Suburbanbanshee said, she would probably think Merpeople were cute, because they didn’t try to inject themselves into human society.

                      And I swear I have heard of some sort of similar attitude in England, where certain groups (not necessarily even ethnic ones) are considered inferior and not to be associated with, but I can’t remember enough details, but I suspect that was Rowling’s source for Umbridge’s attitude.

                    • I agree with RES. Umbridge would have been more likely to think certain magical beings were cute (and make their lives heck thereby). I could see centaurs bothering her (sex, manly/horseliness), but she’d be all in favor of moe catgirls and catboys, and she’d probably be always trying to feed the merfolk crackers.

                    • O yes. Moe cat girls and boys maybe, as long as they are of kitten age. Umbridge is a small woman, what would she do once the boys became Toms — a Wickham of a cat boy who would be at one level moe, and at another mighty dangerously sexual. Think of a catman such as Greebo became — that would be messy.

                      And I love your image of her trying to feed the ‘nice’ merpeople bits of cracker and stale bread crumbs. (Wicked smile…)

            • Oooh. That one’s going in the clippings folder. Thanks!

      • I gotta say, I wasn’t impressed with Rowling as anything other than a young-adult romp. Yeah, she got some dystopian-democracy thing going, but not in a meaningful way (later on, the very same insstitutions are wonderful, because “the good people” are running them — not precisely a libertarian message there).

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Somewhat related – It seemed to me that, although she set the stories in a magical world, she didn’t really think too deeply about that world. It was just window-dressing for the story she wanted to write, and modified it as needed when she ran up against a plot hole. One example of why it felt this way to me is that the characters often spoke if extremely complex and difficult magic, but there was never any complex methodology. It almost always boiled down to concentration and focus, though in the first book, there WAS a specific wand motion for the levitation spell.

        Then she threw in a few restrictions, to keep them from doing everything with magic – can’t resurrect anyone, can’t create food (though you can multiply it, but then why didn’t they keep some leftovers and multiply them when they needed more, while they were hiding? AND you can create drinks, even alcoholic ones!). The suspension of disbelief just got more and more difficult as the books went along.

        Don’t get me wrong. I liked the books. I just think the world building was lacking.

  4. Is it possible that the YA industry is the one suffering arrested development? The things they dwell upon are not what most of us in ‘the real world’ took up as a full time consideration. I was among the first wave of kids fed on ‘relevant’ novels for the high school student. The book whose title can no longer be said in public (it contained a word starting with the letter N) was all right. But after several books about angst and suicide I became depressed. Then came the books that dealt with sex.

    My complaint about Portnoy? He was pathetic. Between that and the sorry young man in The Catcher in the Rye I began to think that there was either something decidedly wrong with the world or me. I concluded it was the world.

    When I was a teen such things were not the only thing on my mind. I thought about food and clothes and silly things like what I wanted to do and where I might live in the future Heck I even thought about such bizarre things like: What if our planet was just a cosmological element and the milky way was like a great big frying pan about to hit the proverbial fire? OK, I know I am an ODD and maybe I hung out with a weird crowd.

  5. I think it was Sixth Grade when we were informed that the Daughtorial Unit’s school system was giving up. That isn’t how they phrased it, of course. What they said was “In Middle School we focus on socialization, not academics, because that is what the kids are going to be concerned about.” Not that they do a very good job of establishing social norms, of course, as their “don’t be a bully” translates in practice to “don’t defend yourself against bullying.”

    Well, yeah – kids that age are pretty bright about picking up on what the adults are expecting of them, so if the school say academics don’t matter, the kids are not going to argue the point and start insisting on writing 15-page essays. But I never thought schools were supposed to be about what kids want to do, not even when I was a kid.

    The present zeitgeist emphasizes the ephemeral and superficial, so of course kids are fed upon the literary equivalent of McDonalds and KFC. It isn’t that kids are only interested in sex and victimhood, it is that those are the easiest things for publishers to formularize and feed the kids.

    Somewhere sits a psychology (or anthropology) grad student in need of a thesis who ought be looking into the personality types managing the publishing business.

    • I met a family once (six or seven kids) who home schooled for middle school only. The kids would start elementary like usual, then instead of going to 6th grade they’d come home for three years and then go back to high school. So one by one the kids rotated into home school and then out again and mom never had more than 1-3 home at one time. I thought that was a completely odd thing to do… but I thought so when my kids were all preschool to grade 3. Now my kids are all high school or older and I look back and think that this would have been an extremely smart strategy for me, too.

    • My mother recounted how the middle school principal in the town where she taught had declared that his purpose was to give the kids a complete middle school experience, not prepare them for high school

      • “A complete middle school experience”? What the deuce is that even supposed to mean? I have a loose frame of reference for a heavily stereotyped ‘college experience’ or ‘high school experience’, but… middle school? There isn’t even agreement on what grades are included! Stupid bureaucrat flower-child Dewey-disciple empty-headed… *Stomps off cursing and grumbling*

        • REE-alley! I’ve often thought that the people in charge of education these days are the same idiots who were complaining in Tenth Grade geometry, “When am I ever going to use this in real life?” or “That’s not FAI-IR!”

          When they grew up — correction, got older — they took over the education establishment and ran things THEIR way, never reason it was just a phase they were supposed to grow out of.

          Damned right blame Dewey! Can’t make good socialists out of kids who can think.


          • This is premised on the principal of attainable goals. They obviously have not the slightest ability to prepare students for High School — any that manage are not the Middle School’s fault. But they can provide “the complete Middle School experience” because whatever Middle School “experience” they provide is by definition “complete” … except for those who, in one way or another, drop out.

            Many people labor under the misapprehension that school is about educating students when in actuality it is about employing teachers, principals, assistant principals, custodians, school resource officers, and numerous administrative staff.

            • BTW, do we have a comprehensive list of just what the “complete Middle School experience” entails?

              Just off the top of my head, I offer the following beginning of a list:
              Arbitrary use of authority by officials
              Routine bullying and ritual humiliation
              Submission to pointless demands
              Performance of pointless tasks
              Redundant performance of tasks
              Long hours of tedium
              Reading of inaccurate and out of date texts
              Inundation with propaganda in the name of learning History
              Reading of tedious and soul-crushing “literature”

          • A friend of mine used to say that she and her father concluded that the Soviet Union was doomed because they actually tried to teach their children higher level science and math. You know, things like Physics. Of course, there would eventually be a rebellion.

            The way to really gain control is to teach enough reading so that directives can be read, while, at the same time, making sure that the idea of reading anything with substance for pleasure is entirely quashed. The Spouse and I have believe, based on the evidence of the readers we saw when The Daughter was in Elementary School, that this is what is being attempted here. That would explain much about the state of YA now, wouldn’t it?

        • “There isn’t even agreement on what grades are included!”

          That’s because it isn’t important, if what they are providing is ‘the experience’ rather than an education in preparation for high school, the grades included are immaterial.

  6. In terms of just pure storyline, I agree that there’s no need for wasteful sacrifice. Books like The Hunger Games rarely show why such stuff exists beyond, “It’s just evil to do so.”

    I enjoy suspending disbelief and losing myself in fantastic worls, but realistic motivation matters. Few people do things “just because.”

  7. YA books are certainly different than what I grew up with – books like Lloyd Alexander or later discoveries like Diana Wynne Jones, which hold up very well today. I don’t see many today with that level of wisdom and experience, but back then, not too many 20-somethings whose entire life experience was a college English degree (and a debased college degree at that) were being published.

    I can’t get past the premise of Hunger Games – I think I’m too old, I can’t face the idea of teens killing other teens and I hate dystopias. As a teen reader, though, I think I would have been fine with both things. I can think of some teen types I would have been quite keen on seeing get offed, and teen life these days is a dystopia anyway, so overthrowing a dystopia would feel very cathartic.

  8. Just a thought on Hunger Games, not having read the novels but having seen the movie.

    I got the decided impression that the reason the parents “let” their children do it, from the outlying districts, is the massive hovering gunship able to lay waste to all life within the district. The idea that they’re too crucial to the comfort of the ruling groups to be wiped out casually hasn’t entered either the oppressed or the oppressor’s heads. (Excepting the President as portrayed.)

    For the inner districts, it’s flat-out brainwashing, and may even have an aspect of Plato’s Republic, in that children are raised by the state and that is where the volunteers come from. That’s probably covered in the books, but I just haven’t had a chance to read much with a 1 year old running about.

    I also tend to suspect that the reason both the Left and the Right see themselves in it is, simply, the Left sees the end result of the Right’s attempts to crush the human spirit into regimented and regulated social norms. The Right sees the end result of the Left’s attempts to remove all personal responsibility from the human race by placing it in the hands of an elite educated few.

    The worst part is, they’re both correct, for values of correct. It’s more a matter of which one you think is going to get us there the fastest with the mostest.

    • Er… which right is this you’re talking about? Certainly not the US right. It’s the left that tries to stick us into regimented race, class, birth, place of origin norms and hand out benes and punishments accordingly. Look at the “No one can be president who didn’t attend an ivy league.” (Rolls eyes.)

      The EUROPEAN right circa the thirties, sure. BUT not here, not now.

      • the right tries to regiment us into structures that ensure, or at least encourage, our being self-supporting. Obviously much worse.

        • Because being “self-supporting” is an illusion — you didn’t build that — any such effort undermines group action for the betterment of the whole.

        • actually, other than “support yourself and clean your own messes” I don’t try to push anyone into any structures. I do think married people are happier, and I’ll certainly nudge the boys that way given a girl they’re considering. Other than that I live by TANSTAAFL and MYOB

          • The Right the Left obsesses about is the religious right who thinks everyone ought to go to Church on Sunday, learn Creationism in science classes, be virgin until their wedding night and never have an abortion, because, of course, there’s no such thing as a good reason for one. They are all racist, they want to burn gays at the stake, or at least stuff them back into closets. They generally are lucky to have high school educations, have bad teeth, and drive rusty pick up trucks with horrible milage.

            In other words, an imaginary antagonist, built up of exaggerations of all the negatives they see through their blinders.

            The Right . . . well, the current situation is shockingly close to their blinkered view of the Left.

            • sigh. Part of the problem is that the left took control not only of the media, but of entertainment. They are rather like the masquerade zone in Heinlein’s Puppet Masters. They’re not actually seeing reality and the media tells them it’s actually like this.

              Weirdly — and I do consider THAT weird — most of the REALLY judgmental religious people (which is not the same as religious people of judgement. You can have standards, but still how people went astray and think “there for the grace of G-d go I.” I think some of my very religious friends view me that way and hate the sin, but love the sinner [grin] The type of religious people who are concerned with your soul will gently prod books at you, and will have discussions with you. I have tons of friends like that. BUT the other type — the “hell fire and brimstone” and “If you’re not exactly like me in view, you’re evil” these days WEIRDLY tend to be on the left. Or perhaps not weirdly. Authoritarianism of any stripe…

              • the left took control not only of the media, but of entertainment

                Yes! As Terry Pratchett puts, our stories tell us who we are, and look who’s taken control of the stories, especially movies – kids who’re barely out of college, who’ve majored in subjects where they can avoid anything that requires them to measure their own ideas against real world facts.

              • There are some people of narrow minded religious stripe lurking in the right. They don’t have much influence. They generally hang out together in their own little amen choir circles — or protesting just outside the cordons at military funerals.

                • Actually those are on the left. BIG Clinton campaign people.

                  • While Fred Phelps initially supported Bill Clinton’s run for presidency he later changed his mind. Along with the military funerals Westboro Baptist picketed the funeral of Bill Clinton’s mother.

                    • There’s an odd – theologically, at least – segment of American Christianity that takes on an almost pathological pacifistic nature. What I’ve found odd is that you can find them spread across denominations. I know pacifist Presbyterians, Catholics and Baptists, Wesleyans and Calvinists, orthodox and oddly heterodox. They tend to be fairly well off to really well off and exist in a kind of bubble of homogeneity. Their time and energy is spent with a strictly limited group, all of whom look, act and believe alike. While that’s true of any subculture, it takes on an almost Stepford kind of feel. S’creepy.

                    • Yes, but it’s hard to say they’re on the right — mostly they’re a money-making-through-suing people who take a swing at them outfit. I know this because they picketed my kid’s school and we got the info about what not to do and why. Incidentally, though a downtown school, they picketed it because the district stretches almost to Denver and is WEALTHY. (The excuse was that the school had a gay-straight club — like EVERY OTHER SCHOOL around here.) Also, the students HAD to go in close to the protesters, so they were hoping…

                    • I call them neither Right nor Left. They are bottom feeders.

                    • Exactly. I call them “EW”

                    • I prefer “Enemies General of humankind, to be dealt with as wolves are.” But I guess that won’t fit on a bumper sticker.

                    • I believe that the leadership has selectively targeted their protests to enable them to sue most profitably and the leadership is taking full advantage of their ‘faithful’ followers to do this.

                      (I wonder if they could be gotten on RICO charges — no, not after National Organization for Women v. Scheidler 114 S. Ct. 798. — even though in this case it really isn’t about free speech, but rather opportunity to make money by suit or threat of suit.)

                    • That is downright slanderous! What have wolves done to deserve that harsh a comparison? More like monitor lizards, whose bite is toxic enough to kill. A little nip, and your blood turns to poison.

                    • “Enemies General of humankind, to be dealt with as wolves are.”

                      Do you mean protected, idolized, ‘reintroduced’ into places where we finally managed to get rid of them, protested over, and lied about to make them look better? Or did you mean the need to be dealt with, with the three S’s?

                    • I was quoting the original; the writer would have considered the modern meaning a sure proof of insanity.

                    • He means the first. At least that’s what we’re doing.

                • People protesting outside military funerals tend to way far left.

      • Apologies, I perhaps didn’t make it quite clear. The Right I’m talking about is the Right that Pam Uphoff mentioned – the one the Left is constantly spewing venom about and largely doesn’t exist. Perception is reality across the spectrum, especially when discussing fiction and politics at the same time.

        My only caveat would be that “largely doesn’t exist” isn’t the same as imaginary. There’re plenty of morons on all sides, and caricatures only work if there’s something to exaggerate in the first place.

    • What I’ve read from the left, btw, on approving HG is “If the world gets anymore overpopulated, this is what will happen.”

      In other words, nonsense.

      • This posted on the same day it hit the new that Putin has invited Boyz to Men to give a concert in Russia as part of a campaign to counter the dropping population!

  9. Great post, Sarah. I read Heinlein’s juveniles when I was in that age group. Yes, big ideas and high standards. I grew up wanting to be like Heinlein’s heros: intelligent, brave, ready for anything. While I haven’t had any space adventures (yet) I think it made me a better person.

    I also read his more adult works around the same time. (Anything with his name on it was MINE for the reading. lol) Yes, there was more sex in the stories, but the actual sex was behind closed doors. In the book it was more discussion about the mores and what is okay. Thought provoking, but not much on the erotic.

    Readinng Heinlein’s juveniles helped me define goals for the type of person I wanted to be, and I think I succeded to some extent.

    • Yes, exactly. I find it hilarious when the same people who claim he was sex-obsessed go on into how YA should have more sex. AND they want their sex explicit and in your face. (Lack of imagination much?) PFUI.

      Also, while on that… It is possible that Heinlein’s idea of sex would be possible/more stable given the life expansion and changes in his society. It’s something we never experienced and we can’t say FOR SURE it wouldn’t work. Our way of life would seem insane five hundred years ago. And it wouldn’t work if tried then… So…

      It was something that deserved exploring. And he never advised sloth or abandoning your children. In fact, he was very clear on “Women and children first” and on “A family is a mechanism for raising a child. if you fail at that, you must change the family.”

      HOWEVER I got the “don’t try to port his sexual mores into our present. They won’t work.’ I mean, no one needed to tell me. I was aware of the world around me.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Oh, an aside here – I figured out why people say Heinlein was obsessed with sex, yet there appears to be so much more in things like romance novels. Heinlein never wrote detailed sex scenes, and seldom wrote sex scenes at all. However, Heinlein’s characters often had more sex in a space of 6 pages than some whole romance novels. It just wasn’t described in loving, Tab A/Slot B detail.

        • Um… depends on the romance novel.

          • I think Wayne was trying to say his characters had sex more times, with more different people.

            If your reading romance novels that have sex in more variety and frequency than Fear No Evil,… well I forgot what I was going to say to end this sentence, but they shouldn’t be classified as romance.

            • READ is way too much. Usually they go against the wall by chapter three, after I skim to see if there is SOMETHING that isn’t sex. And fail to find it. And yep, they should be “erotica” but a lot of contemporary romances are like that.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              That was pretty much what I was saying, since the detail level people are telling me are in such novels (I don’t read them – may have to pick one up just to see for myself. I swear I should be from Missouri.) would make them the size of Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary to cover all that.

  10. I was a “write poems to dead trees” teenager, except I was reading every military history and mil-sci-fi book that didn’t run away fast enough. The “angst, outcast, and over-active” wave was just starting to wash ashore and I dipped my toe into it, but as my grandparents preacher used to say, “her dippin’ didn’ take.”

    • I too read military bios and histories. I wrote poems to blond boys. Even before I figured out what sex was or even why boys and girls were different. The poems weren’t sexual, of course. They were full of Victorian romanticism and “die for love” nonsense. I think I was what’s known as a bad seed.

    • I wrote poems about G-d and nature. 🙂 Plus my first poem was a limerick which I don’t have anymore. lol Probably a good thing.

      • I didn’t write poems. I did draw horses.

        • I think kids are creative until something kills it. Not many can keep the creativity going.

          • Quite wrong. Teach a pre-school class sometime. The ratio of those able to create something quite original is about the same as among adults. Sorry. The “we’re all great in potentia till society kills it” myth is the same as the noble savage. A comforting lie, but a lie.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            I’m not and never have been truly creative. What I AM good at is taking disparate ideas and/or methodologies and combining them into something that is better than each separately, and sometimes better than the sum of the parts. In other words, I’m a problem solver, not a creator, even though, to those who can’t see how those parts fit together beforehand, it can seem to be a creative act.

    • TX Red, would you email me. I lost your real name and there’s something I want to forward to you. A writing gig you might be interested in. (Not sure if it’s for pay, but all the same.)

  11. Gasoline? Really? If you loved us there would be C4….

    Yeah, the Hunger Games. Read book 1, could see what all the hype was about, but the lack of thinking things through annoyed me. On the part of the author, I mean. When the plot required circumvention of the rules, Katniss only had to sneak through a chain-link fence to go poaching, and she did it for years without getting caught. There were super-tech gizmos when the plot required it, like all the scanners in the Game grounds that could precision-deliver a bread roll, and insta-zombie-werewolves, but the Capitol still depended on *coal*? And hand-grown fruits? If I, as evil overlord, could dial up my own insta-zombie-werewolves (in less than a day, if I recall correctly) I’d just kill everybody and gene-splice enough compliant stupid workers to do things. No rebellious population at all.

    • My thoughts exactly when I seen the movie, I really thought the books would have to be better, with some explanation involved. But your description fits the movie to a tee, so I’m not running out to buy the book right away.

  12. It may be time to abandon the label YA altogether, as irredeemable. Go to a movie rating system.

    • That would make librarians lives a touch easier. “Ma’am, it says NC-17 on the back cover. Perhaps you should come with your son next time and help him select when he needs a book to read at school? I agree completely, fourth grade is a little young for this author’s oeuvre, despite the knight, the boy, and the dragon on the cover.”

      • yep. Though I’ll point out in this house we used the height system and the cunning system. If you were tall enough to reach the upper shelf books and cunning enough to figure out where I hid the key to the locked glass front bookshelf, then you could read it. … it worked.

        • Sounds like excellent training in problem solving to me – amazing what can happen with the proper incentives. ^_^

      • I’ve got a cousin who hates librarians stemming from the time that one looked at Watership Down and thought — bunnies, kids’ book. Not 1984 only with bunnies, adult book.

        He was a precocious reader.

        • The librarians that I hate are the ones that can’t figure out how to correctly shelve SF in the SF section and Fantasy in the Fantasy section, despite having the publisher leave a freaking hint on the spine …

          And the worst example was when they split half of the books in one single L.E. Modesitt Jr series in one section and half in the other.
          And then the same ones later decided to merge all the fiction genres in one long “Fiction” section to further piss me off.

          • Thank goodness our high school had just a “scifi/fantasy” section. Occasionally stuff would look to fiction-ish and be misfiled in the “fiction” area, and what horror they had was 50/50, but I could get my Heinlein and Pratchett in one spot.

          • *shrug* I liked that our library had all the fiction in one place – meant the Kipling was only a few steps away from the Heinlein.

            • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

              We went to buy a copy of Terry Pratchett’s ‘Dodger’ for a friend. Nothing. We checked the in-store computer to see if any other branches close by had it.

              Computer said the store had four copies.


              Shelved in Young Adult. Sigh. I wouldn’t have looked there. I didn’t look there, nor did my wife.

              I know divisions are useful from a marketing standpoint. If you know you like David Weber you might like David Drake. If you like Heinlein, you might like Schmidt. But they can be a damned nuisance when 90% of a writer’s output is in one place, and one book is in another.


              • My first book got shelved in theater, biography, art — anywhere BUT fantasy. Yeah, that helped the sales…

              • Our current library system.

                I have given up browsing, after a swing through of the various kid sections to pick up all of a Tamora Pierce series. They let you “order” them online, and they’ll put the books out in a pile.

                Horrible for finding new books, but oh well.

  13. I haven’t read Hunger Games either, but my thought at hearing a description of the setting was that if it was possible that your child would be chosen and that this was possible *enough* that it was used to keep whole populations in line… that all children would be taught the art of killing and war from the cradle… which would do the opposite from keeping subjugated populations subjugated.

    • Among other problems with this world building. No matter how big that gunship, if they come for the kids, they’re going to have people dying rather than let their kids be taken.

      This seemed like one of those “conceived in total ignorance of what parents are like” novels.

      • Even though Katniss volunteered for it, to take her little sister’s place.

      • Sadly we know from historical records that parents did not always behave this way. People sacrificed their children to their Gods in various cultures around the world. Infanticide may have been more common. People left ‘imperfect’ children exposed to the elements, and people dropped ‘excess’ babies into pits dug for the purpose. This does not make it right — anymore than, say, slavery.

        • I don’t think that’s the same thing, really. You and the community got something for your sacrifice to a god, right?

          I was watching a thing once about peatbog mummies in Ireland/Scotland/whatever-it-was and what the anthropologists thought it likely, because the mummies were of such well-fed young men and there were indications that these were wealthy and pampered individuals, that the people were selecting young men from their own group, raising them in luxury, and then killing them and burying them in the bog so that they would have ghosts protecting their community from enemies.

          A parent might be just as proud to have a child become a ghostly warrior as they would a flesh-and-blood warrior who might die in battle protecting them.

          And if it’s gods, then too, I think it’s a little bit different than if the sacrifice is demanded from your very *mortal* enemy because the god might have a reason, or might *need* to be appeased. But your mortal enemy is just a murderous a**hole.

      • Sarah, you can tell that HG was written by someone from the “guns (especially government guns) are really magic wands that you wave and wishes come true” school. What they forget is that the tolerances aren’t any closer between a pump or an internal combustion engine that a machine gun, and protecting your family is more than enough incentive to experiment.

        • Along the lines of one of the things Mad Mike Z. keeps pointing out: automatic submachine guns are actually easier to make than semiautomatics, and only require a moderately well equipped machine shop. See the Troubles, where there are still caches of garage-made SMGs that surface every once in a while. Unless you’re going to severely limit the peons in your story, you’ll need to eliminate – somehow – the information on how to make said weapons, or somehow ensure that the engineers are ALL in the pocket of your Big Bad. Or just crush the populace to an iron age agricultural model. Cuz that’ll work.

          • look, according to legend, during the Islamic occupation of Portugal, the overlords had a great deal of trouble keeping an overseer in the village I grew up in. Some accident ALWAYS happened to the poor men. It was inexplicable…

            It’s really hard to administer a restive population, unless the culture has ground it down for CENTURIES or millenia (China.)

            • One thing Americans have going for us: we’re so restive we’re the only ones who can do anything about us.

              EXACTLY: China. China is China is China. The only thing about China that’s changed in the last 5000 years is the people in charge. Mongol barbarians? C’mon in! Oh, you might not want to raze Beijing for a horse-pasture. Why’s that, you ask? Let us teach you about money and taxes. Manchurians? Same deal. Communism, you say? Oh, we’ve been practicing that collectivism thing as a cottage industry for centuries. You haven’t seen our great families, have you? Not. Going. To. Change. Not for anything as ephemeral as some weird looking people from across the ocean. Not for a silly idea (and, to be honest, from someone not Han). Certainly not for anything as strange as this reality thing you Westerners keep talking about.

            • Accidents, hm? Heh.

              Tch, tch. “Look, it’s not *our* fault these poor foreigners keep forgetting not to jump down the well. Or off the cliff. Or to not walk alone in those horribly, horribly, bandit-infested hills (y’all should really do something about that, by the way). Or that they shouldn’t eat poisonous mushrooms. We *tried* to warn them, we really did, but they just didn’t listen.” *Shakes head sadly.*

              • Must be linguistic difficulties. Like we say “Don’t jump out the window” and next thing you know, there’s a mess on the cobbles below. I mean, I ask you…

              • That evenin’ everyone in town showed up, all bringin’ the food an’ beer.
                Boss Jones, he sat at the head of the table, and all his boys sat near.
                Oh, they ate ‘n drank ‘n bragged no end ’bout what they were gonna do
                While they scarfed up rhododendron honey and amonida stew.
                Now, we’d been careful o’ what we ate, so we didn’t take no harm,
                But the Boss an’ ‘is bully boys all keeled over while the coffee still was warm.
                We dragged ’em down to the old mine shaft that was dug before the war
                An’ dropped ’em down there with all the others who’d tried that trick before.
                Yes, we remember the world that was and the way that it used to be,
                And we’d just rather be left alone; we’re used to bein’ free.
                Don’t want no more of laws or bosses, don’t want no government here.
                I hope they don’t come again too soon … they’ve tried three times this year

                Rhododendron Honey, by Leslie Fish….

            • I swear that said “Icelandic occupation of Portugal.”

              • No. The Vikings raided the North, leaving behind the charming conflation of blond and pig in slang (Russo.) Did I mention it was the RUSS tribe of Vikings that did the raids? 😉

                • Actually, Sarah, that would surprise me, since historically the Rus were Swedish Vikings who decided to use the Baltic rivers to raid into what is now Russia (in their honor) rather than fight their way to the North Atlantic past the Danes and Norse Vikings. I’m guessing that the languages have a proto-Celtic root leading to the similar words.

                  • Uh, no, they did raid the North of Portugal. It’s one of those very weird things that history does. If I find the reference, I’ll tell you (might be in Portuguese, mind.) It even explained why.

          • Dave @kilteDave | February 1, 2013 at 7:13 pm |
            > automatic submachine guns are actually easier to make than semiautomatics, and only require a moderately well equipped machine shop



          • You mean like this?

            You don’t even need a machine shop, it can be made with a drill, hacksaw,some fairly easily obtianable materials (well in Europe, America tends to use different sizes of pipe, but I’m sure with very little study you could come up with pipe the proper size to fit SOME common caliber) and a little elbow grease.

            Wonder how many of these books have been sold, and are under peoples beds just in case they need the info some day?

        • This comes back to something Mad Mike Z has mentioned a few times. Fully automatic weapons are mechanically easier to make than semiautomatic ones. Witness the Troubles in Ireland. They still find caches of garage-machined automatic SMGs. So you’d have to have your Big Bad limit the information (sure. have fun with that one), or keep all the engineers in his pocket. Threats and bribery are common, but it’s still only a matter of time. Also, the law of unintended consequences is likely to bite in a major way. Witness the demise of warlords throughout history.

          Were I ever to take over a place, I’d work my hardest to ensure that the general populace loved me, and had no reason to rebel. I’d end up acting a bit like Lord Vetinari, I imagine.

          • Oh, double post. Good times. C’mere, WP *WRINGSNECK!!!!*

          • I’ve always wanted to look into making a zip gun with the major working parts made out of UHMW or HDPE plastic. Now, however the fear in certain circles is that firearms components can be made with home-fabbing equipment. Perhaps fabbing equipment will have to be licensed and inspected like typewriters in Romania under Ceausescu. Which might lead to a new form of Samizdat?

            I always prefered guns and chasing around to sex in my sci-fi. As in real life it seemed to stop the action dead.

            • That would be interesting, and if you used something nonmetallic for the barrel (I just can’t see UHMW working for that) it wouldn’t set off metal detectors either. Most metal detectors I believe only detect ferrous metals, so you could probably use something nonferrous for the firing pin and barrel.

          • I have heard that Stalin had a policy that saw that children were somewhat pampered and as each treat was handed out they were reminded that it was all courtesy of their dear Uncle Joe.

            Yes, Lord Vetinari does seem to have things generally in hand, including what to do when things get out of hand.

        • Hmm, pretty effective magic wands, if your wish is that someone downrange has a hole in him. 😛

          • Only once you realize and accept that a) you’re going to have to know how to use them and when, and b) other people can use them on you just as well. Not to mention that watching violence in a movie or in a video game isn’t really the same as getting hit by the stench of blood and bowels….

            • Oh, granted. Just thinking, many a slave or serf throughout history, when arms required strength and absurd amounts of training, would have thought something like a firearm was magic indeed.

              The old “God made men, Sam colt made them equal, ” phrase you are all familiar with.

              If your wish is something as complicated and abstract as “subduing these people”, any given tool may not help you much.

              • This is why you need to take over the schools first. And see that, in the interest of guaranteeing that everyone is properly and equally indoctrin… oops, educated, that what is taught is overseen by a panel of experts at central planning.

                Now kiddies, it is only right that your pediatrician and your teacher ask you if the adults in your home have guns…this is about your safety.

        • The inability to effectively disarm everyone (they can try, but won’t succeed) is something that gives me hope that the worst forms of tyranny won’t take root here.

          • Robin Roberts

            Resistance to tyranny is attitude, not equipment. Europe is awash in firearms in reality – how many Sten guns do you think we airdropped in France six decades ago as an example?

    • It was forbidden, and winked at in the Sections they wished to favor. Whether that would work. . . .

    • Eesh, the Hunger Games. Yeah. I read some of the first book and saw the movie.

      The thing about that whole spectacle – forcing parents to give up their children to be sacrificed in that way – I don’t know what would be more provocative – that? Or just shooting them right there? President Snow had his opinion, but I dunno. The games rub their faces in it and dance on the corpses.

      I keep wondering why any of those enforcers survive their incursions into the provinces? Even if it’s suicide, at some point you stake yourself to the ground, kill all comers, and make them pay for your life and those of your children! And if you die? Well, at least you don’t have to live in *that* world.

      I have no idea where that point is for me, (and no desire to find out), but I would hope it is somewhere between here and The Hunger Games’ world.

      Especially the participants – they are already dead – why not go down fighting the people who are your actual enemies? I am amazed at the government enforcer’s/game grandees life expectancy.

      • PS – this isn’t to put the books down. I still need to finish reading the text of the first one. It certainly doesn’t seem like anything the left would create (consciously).

  14. Raymond Jelli

    Below you will find what the Progressive definition of Hell is and what heaven is too:

    Hell is you are free to do what you want and I am free to do what I want.

    Heaven is you are free to be appreciative of society and I am free to determine what you will be appreciative for.

    • On those lines, I think Heaven is I am free to do what I want, and you are free to do what I want. ^_^

      • Don’t be silly. Heaven is I am free to do what I want, and you are free to want what I want, but you don’t get it, you just get to want it and watch me gloat because I’m rolling in it, nyaah nyaah nyaah.

  15. “One of the things that amazed me is how she showed how easily a bureaucracy can be corrupted and yet still holds on to ideas of big government. I guess a lot of artists don’t integrate what they know emotionally – the art – with what they’ve been told intellectually.”

    As far as J. K. Rowling is concerned, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a talented and intelligent writer misunderstand her own work so thoroughly. Maybe George Lucas could give her a run for her money, but that’s about it.

    • The ability of artists to create a work from something other than the way they fundamentally believe the world to be is a bit mysterious to me.

      • A lot of it is pure curiousity. “What a horrible idea. What would it be like? How would it work? How would it feel?”

      • One of the recurrent cries of the centralized planning big government supporters is that we simply have not given it enough time and we have not placed the right people in charge. From the right or left they refuse to consider that the reason it doesn’t work is that it cannot work.

        • I’d rather go with a self-correcting system where the people in any particular job are easily replacable. Requiring “the Right People” (the Good Men?) in order to simply enable the system to work correctly is an order of mysticism I’ll leave to Deity-of-choice. And if we’re going to go there, I’ll argue that He’s got other things on his mind besides which screwed up method we use to govern ourselves.

          • The Deity I tend towards reluctantly allowed a human king. Something about the fact that He is supposed to be their King and humans are not perfect so therefore cannot form perfect governments.

            Starting from that standpoint I am unable to embrace the idea of big government by the best and the brightest as an answer. Look where Sarah’s Good Men, with all their ‘advantages’ lead their world … yes it is fiction, but we are able to embrace it because it rings so true. Therefore I agree with you that a self correcting system where people in any particular job are replaceable. (Mind you history indicates that some replacements have been better than others…) I would add that I favor a system with checks and balances, so that too much power does not devolve to any one of its parts.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        I suspect in Rowling’s case it was a subconscious thing. I think she probably holds her beliefs only on the surface, because that’s what she has been taught. If what I read somewhere was correct, she was a teacher before she left work to do her writing while living on their welfare system, so she could hardly bring herself to say that the system that allowed her to live off it in order to become so successful was wrong.

      • An amazing number of people don’t look at what stories MEAN.

        My husband can “turn it off” most of the time, unless the story is really bad.

  16. Nah – if the Hunger Games aren’t about “overpopulation” or “lottery that makes your family’s life better after you’re gone”. It’s the government’s way of punishing and controlling the people who dared try to start a revolution against their policies.

    Granted, I have no idea how they managed to enforce it at first. I assume by bombing the 13 rebel areas into submission and taking away all their ability to defend themselves. Weapons are banned. (Though I’m not quite sure how some of the sectors got their weapons training if weapons are banned.) Katniss’s bow and arrow skills are forbidden and she’s breaking the law every day by going into the forest to feed her family. Twice over by using weapons.

    I dunno, it’s interesting. It may not *work* in reality, but a lot of good fiction doesn’t “work” in reality. It’s also highly traumatic if you start getting attached to the characters, and the ending is fairly grey mush, which made it infinitely worse, though sure, more “realistic”. Overall, I’d give the series a solid B.

  17. “The temperature at which the internet burns”….

    _Fahrenhoyt 451_?


  18. Hey, Hoyt, have you read Brandon Sanderson’s YA, The Evil Librarians (or Alcatraz) series? I am curious what you would think of it in this context.

    • It had slipped my mind, but I don’t recall any overt sexual content (nor “woe is me, society sucks” whinging) in Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series, or in Cornelia Funke’s Inkspell books, to name a couple of recent YA titles that made it to the silvered screen.

    • Haven’t. Should I, or shouldn’t I? (I don’t read much YA since younger boy turned 10 and started reading past it.)

      • The Alcatraz series by Brandon Sanderson is awesome, IMHO. It is quite funny along with having a good story. The author manages to get a lot of self-deprecating humor into it as well.

  19. Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

    It isn’t just the schools that are teaching kids – it’s us parents too. The difference is that we approve of what we are teaching, but we might not approve of what the schools are teaching.

    Are we right? Damned good question. I’d love to ask my kids that in fifty years.

    Were my parents right? Dad was far closer than Mom was. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my mother, but she had some really strange ideas about how the world worked. Like she thought that you should never fight back when you were being bullied… Yeah, right, Mom.


    • Ummm… It was my Dad who thought that we should “turn the other cheek.” Right DAD!

      • There was a scene in a Larry Niven story (I think it was Niven) in which the narrator tells of meeting a guy in a bar, listening to the guy complain about his weird kid’s drawing of a tree. Narrator asks the guy “let me guess; when you corrected him you drew a tree like this (draws two straight lines with a lollipop atop), right?”

        It has been something like forty years and I’ve no idea what the story was, but that scene has remained fresh in memory.

        • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

          Now my brain’s hurting. I think I’ve read just about everything Niven has written. That sounds like something Niven would say. But it doesn’t click. Anyone got any idea what story that might be from?


        • Oh yea– I think I heard that story a long long time ago.

      • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter



      • My dad thought I should stop kicking them when they were down (noblesse oblige) Mom thought their being down just made them easier to kick. MY BROTHER thought violence never solved anything.

        • See: Saint Heinlein. Starship Troopers.

          • INDEED. My kid quoted that at his third grade teacher “Tell it to the city fathers of Carthage.” — which is when I found out he’d got into he Heinleins. Of course, given his name…

            • “Tell it to the city fathers of Carthage.”

              Eh, not sure if Heinlein stole that from L’amour, or L’amour stole it from Heinlein, or they both stole it from someone else, or it is a simple case of great minds thinking alike.

        • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

          Violence never solved anything. Great line, but totally meaningless.

          Well, I guess it depends on your definition of solved. My dad used to play poker with a Jewish guy, who had a concentration camp tattoo on his arm. He’s long dead now, but I know he would have disagreed with that sentiment.

          Then there was my Uncle Bill. I think Uncle Bill is why my Mom was so dead set against violence. Her brother went away to war as a young man, and came back, well, broken is the best word I can come up with. I never knew him before the war of course, I was born ten years after, but I did ask his remaining sister and she confirmed that the brother who came back wasn’t the one who went away. Of course no one knew about PTSD back then. His daughter still doesn’t understand to this day why her father was, well, so, odd.

          No matter how damaged Uncle Bill was, it was people like him who rescued Mr. Snyder from the camps. It took violence to meet violence, else Mr. Snyder wouldn’t have moved to Canada, and wouldn’t have had two beautiful daughters (yes, I had a crush on them – glamorous older women – they couldn’t have been more than five years older than I was).


        • Oh noblesse oblige — I just kick them down. No need to keep kicking unless they don’t surrender. 😉 Well and as for violence I am sure it should be last resort imho. I think your brother swallowed the hook, line, and sinker.

          • Wayne Blackburn

            Depends – are we talking about a disagreement that escalated to the physical? Ok, that’s reasonable. But I see too many cases in movies and TV where someone knocks down the guy who is threatening their life, then runs, and it always winds up with his catching up to them, which is probably a pretty good approximation of life. If it’s a serious threat, you keep kicking until they aren’t going to get up again without medical attention.

            • Oh I agree– Wayne– when it comes to a physical confrontation– however, sometimes it is better for a woman (who doesn’t have much physical strength) to put the guy down and then get out of there. Staying around is not always a good thing either– depends on the circumstance.

            • And– not always the physical. You can kick them down with words. I have done that several times (took a knife away from a boy, stopped a bully from beating on a friend, and so forth).

        • Yes, it was my mom around about first grade who taught me to put the boots to them when they go down, make sure they don’t get back up.

  20. Gad, the “big ideas”/”teaching in stories” thing is depressing…. over at Ricochet, there’s a libertarian demanding justification for having kids in terms of profit, otherwise it’s “illogical” and along the lines of wanting a boat vs not caring for boating….

    I gotta say, the gray junk at school probably pushes that along….

    • UGH– gray goo– ugh

    • For a libertarian to demand that individual choices be based on logic is illogical. People do not have to submit their choices for anybody else’s approval except in very particular circumstances.

      • Ah, but he wants to be justified.

        He’s previously stated that children are only had because women want them, that women should only have children if they can raise them on their own without a man (because men are expected to take care of their wife and children, therefore women should at LEAST be able to take care of themselves and the children or not have them) and various other…well, just depressing, rather selfish things. It must really gripe him, or he wouldn’t keep bringing it up, but it gets tiring– especially when there’s bad Spock impressions going on! (I was heartbroken when I realized Spock wasn’t using “logical” correctly, unless you bought into the rather odd-but-justifiable Vulcan [public] worldview.)

        • (And it gets to me for two reasons: one, my kids are going to be supporting him in his old age, and two, he’s a very enjoyable writer with a good mind on stuff where he’s not being a toot.)

        • What he wants to be is irrelevant. The proper way to spell the faction which expects free individuals to live according to that faction’s values (be those values logic or anything else) is F-a-s-c-i-s-t.

          Libertarian means I don’t need your approval to have a child or twenty children, so long as I don’t force you to underwrite their support. Once you start muttering about “logic” or “undue burden on the environment” you have ceased to be a libertarian, no matter which team’s T-shirt you sport.

          • There’s a reason our “Libertarians” don’t like me, especially when they start throwing fits about folks not approving of stuff they like, or pointing out painful facts….

          • What he wants to be is irrelevant.

            If there’s human nature, he may have to consider it– or justify not doing so. So there can’t be human nature, just desires, and they’re all equal.

        • …that children are only had because women want them…

          Oh, really?

          • *grim* Yeah, there’s a reason I didn’t take him as seriously as some of the other folks, and why I’m not elaborating about some other things he’s said; the stuff that seems consistent, I’ll mention, but the stuff that may have been said to just get a rise….? Some folks have way too much time on their hands.

            The “only girls want kids” thing would startle my husband, too, even though he’s not quite as kid-crazy as I am. Like Our Host says, love multiplies– it’s not exactly want to have kids, it’s a basic human drive. If you have to try to talk someone into doing it, there’s something wrong. (*glares at gray goo, in fictional and “nonfiction” forms*)

      • No, RES — he’s demanding choices submit to HIS logic. I’d hold up my middle finger, but I’m too tired.

    • I could write an off the top of my head 50 reasons to have kids. I’m not sure in terms of “profit” but in terms of utility. Also growth. Also betting on the future.

      BUT mostly? I had kids because love multiplies.

      • BUT mostly? I had kids because love multiplies.

        There are good reasons, but that’s not why people “want” kids. That’s not why it’s so sad when people yearn for children, but they just don’t show up.

        It’s not a utilitarian thing; it’s human, the exact opposite.

    • The whole idea is almost too silly to take seriously, if it weren’t that there were people who think like this. OK, what happens if we all analyze the situation as the libertarian might and, due primarily to rather faulty input data that is presently going around about the cost/benefit* of childbearing, a significant proportion of the population choose not to reproduce. Some day, if you don’t quit breathing first, you will get old — very old. Have you ever seen a geriatric geriatric nurse?

      * You know those things, the kind that assume that all children will have braces, various after school lessons, go to summer camps, etc..

      • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

        Anyone who tries to analyze a situation that closely will usually analyze themselves into paralysis. I know. I used to do it.

        Now instead I shoot off my mouth. Causes the odd Internet fire, but I waste a lot less time dithering.


      • I will confess my kids cost us a fortune in books, museum visits and various learning materials — but nothing like the lessons/braces/summer camp thing. Also, any amount of what we spent on them — museum memberships — we’d have spent on us, anyway, so pah.

        • None of those things “profits” a person and therefore all qualify as choices. One could easily drive this train of thought off the rails by following it to its logical conclusion:there is no profit, profit is an illusion because you take none of it with you when you die.

          Please do not make me have to elaborate on this — it is so bleedin’ obvious that any need to explain would merely deepen my depression.

          Again I say: this ain’t no libertarian, and the only way to deal with a fascist involves a cudgel. I daresay this author’s books do not increase the readers’s material wealth, so even by his own standards he is a waste of time.

        • Well, I will freely admit that we would not have spent so much on memberships and trips to various science museums. I doubt I would have discovered Anime or Anime conventions. I know far more than I ever imagined about murder and forensics. (There are things I haven’t joined her in, like her pursuit of grade ‘B’ noir and horror movies.) I truly enjoyed those trips with her. There have been occasions when she became the impetus to go places that I might have thought of going, but would never managed — like the largest post Soviet display of the work of Fabergé or this year’s display at the Freer of the complete Fuji series by Hokusai. My world would have been a great deal smaller without The Daughter — and that money and time would have been spent somewhere. Unlike some adults I know regarding their adult children, I can and will quite openly say: I like The Daughter.

          • Yeah. I like the boys, too. And yes, Robert has made me appreciate Van Gogh and Marsh explained things to me at the Smithsonian and is the reason we drive to Denver for every lecture on space. He’s probably responsible for my writing SF at last, by feeding that side of me.

            And they’re just FUN. Yes, there’s been heartache and worry, but the joy outweighs it all, and the FUN the family has together. Supposing the economy ever allows them to move out, I’ll miss them horribly. (But birds got to fly, eventually.)

            • Yes, birds have to fly. For their sakes I wish that the conditions were better.

              • So do I. In some ways I feel they already should have. Mind you — in my dreams, they settle in the same city, and I settle within walking distance and get to homeschool grandchildren, if there are any…

                • Now there’s a frightening image!

                  Here’s our library: read it. Ask me if you find anything you don’t quite understand.

                  Remember, kids – chemistry class will be ammo loading at 2, so we can go to the range this afternoon. I will want your essays on the differential burn rates of at least three mixtures.

                  Be sure you prepare for your quiz on vital strike points on the human anatomy.

                  Lockpicking class will conclude Friday, and we will be starting our session on intermediate hacking next week.

                  • Well, if it weren’t for the middle part (I’m not as good with firearms as I’d like to be) I’d accuse you of having spied on me when I homeschooled #2 son. There was much on history, too, particularly ancient history, and the essays had better be properly spelled.

                    • You could probably pass right now by just teaching theory (which you could read up on in your spare time) because reloading components, especially primers can’t be had for love or money. I recieved an email today informing me that all CCI, Federal, Remington and Winchester primers are going to ammo first (US ammo factories are pumping out more than 1 billion rounds a week, and can’t keep up with demand) that it could be six to nine months before any are available to reloaders.

                    • I am confident I am not alone in wondering why the DHS is buying up so many rounds as to create a market shortage. In a republic there would probably be investigations and hearings as to why Homeland Security is spending so much taxpayer dollars on such a resource. Sure wish I lived in a republic,

                    • *cocks head* *DHS* is buying up a ton of ammo? This the first I’ve heard anything about that. I’d heard about people stocking up on guns, so I guess I just assumed that’s where all the ammo was going too.

                    • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

                      Curiously there’s no shortage of ammunition in Canada. I was at the gun store on Saturday looking for a shotgun for my daughter.


                    • …There’s probably a bunch of hoops to jump through and fees to pay about importation of ammunition, aren’t there? Cuz, if there aren’t, then I spy with my little eye a business opportunity… 🙂

                    • Bunch of new multi-year contracts.

                      There are an amazing number of gov’t agencies that have armed branches, though– like the guys who do student loans.

                    • I have lost the source, but I believe I posted it on here a few months ago (probably in some off-topic discussion with Kim du Toit) that quoted the number of rounds bought by different government agencies, to include not only DHS, but also a large amount purchased by the IRS, and I believe the census bureau, as well as the expected large amounts going to various law enforcement and military agencies. DHS at least has the fig leaf of being a ‘security’ agency.

                    • I do remember hearing something about that a while back, but someone, I believe it was either Instapundit or Bob Owens (possibly Instapundit quoting Bob Owens) was of the opinion that the amounts purchased were just about sufficient to keep a moderate amount of people current on their marksmanship qualifications and not much more. (Whether or not the IRS or the Census Bureau should even *have* a section that needs marksmanship qualifications is another matter entirely.) I think it was about the same thing you’re talking about, anyways. Pardon me while I consult my internet history and try to dig that up…

                    • A quirky bit of US history. The IRS was the agency that was finally able to put Al Capone behind bars.

                    • You and Kim? Off topic? Why, heaven forfend. (runs.)

                    • “Curiously there’s no shortage of ammunition in Canada. I was at the gun store on Saturday looking for a shotgun for my daughter.”

                      Really, how well stocked were they on 40 S&W? Oh, I forgot, you can’t own pistols, so primarily pistol ammo is harder to find. When I was in the store today the only ammo on the shelves was shotgun and a limited supply of magnum rifle calibers. I was told a store in Spokane (over 2 hours away) still had some 22lr ammo this last weekend.

                      I would venture to guess that your local stores still have ammo because they haven’t been selling it off the shelves, not because they are being regularly resupplied.

                    • Wayne Borean aka The Mad Hatter

                      Pistol ammunition doesn’t tend to sell here, but then no one owns pistols. 30-30, .303, .22, 30-06, 12, 16, and 20 gauge tend to be common.

                      I was looking for a 410 gauge. They are hard to find.

                      Problem is my daughter weighs 60 pounds soaking wet, and wants to learn how to shoot. I really don’t think she’d do well with a 12 or 16 gauge. A 20 gauge might work, but…

                      That’s why I was looking at 410 gauge. I think it’s probably her best option.

                      But seriously. There’s no ammunition shortage here as far as I can tell. Of course we probably don’t burn through as much ammo as you do, so if there was a shortage, it wouldn’t show up as quickly.


                    • Of course we probably don’t burn through as much ammo as you do, so if there was a shortage, it wouldn’t show up as quickly.

                      More economic ignorance expressed as chauvinism. Stores typically stock according to their expected sell through, so a different consumption rate in Canada would only affect the amount stores order for stock.

                    • The “GUNS AND AMMO” surplus place across from McChord had a pretty good stock last time I was in– but they also follow the idea of buying tons of stuff all the time. Yay, labor of love.

                    • I have some 410 shells I would be willing to trade for small rifle primers.

                      Also the fact that Canadians don’t own pistols is a fallacy, most Canadians I know do in fact own pistols, they admittedly don’t shoot them nearly as much due to the risk of getting caught.

                  • Robin Roberts

                    And remember not to leave the gun cotton in the acid bath during recess …

                  • I would not fail to include the marvelous little Canadian animated series titled Eureka!. In thirty one sequential short lessons it presents just about everything you need to know about basic Physics other than the math. It is described as follows at Wikki:
                    Eureka! was a Canadian educational television series which was produced and broadcast by TVOntario in 1980. The series was narrated by Billy Van, and featured a series of animated vignettes which taught physics lessons to children.

                    Check it out through Youtube.

  21. My hubby reminded me that I used to run around the desert in the summer with my two of my sisters and Shetland ponies. If I take those adventures and change it to a little boy– and playing and adventures– I think I might have a YA worth reading. It was before I was pulled into the house to learn to be a girl. 😉