The Problem of Engagement — a guest post by Toni Weisskopf

*As you know, I’ve been worried about the direction of conventions, of fandom, of the… public face of our field. Those of you who are in the Baen Bar know Toni Weisskopf, publisher of Baen Books posted about it in her conference.  I thought her perspective on the field was important — particularly for me, who know next to nothing of the history of fandom — partly because it echoed my own views of where we stand and asked her if I could echo it here.  She has graciously given me permission to do so.  The raiding party post by David Pascoe will run tomorrow morning.*

The Problem of Engagement — by Toni Weisskopf

 

The latest fooforaws in the science fiction world have served to highlight the vast cultural divide we are seeing in the greater American culture. SF, as always, very much reflects that greater culture.

It is also nothing new. When fandom was first starting there was the “Great Exclusion Act” when a group of young, excitable, fanboys attempted to spread their political/fannish feud propaganda at the first Worldcon in New York, and were not only prevented from doing so but not allowed back into the con. All fandom was aflame with war! (The fact that this line is a cliché is also a clue that fandom is not, and never has been, a calm peaceful sea of agreement.)

The reason we have a fandom to disunite now, is because calmer heads prevailed. Bob Tucker in particular, with intelligence and humor, led fandom to the idea that it ought have nothing to do with greater world politics, but should concentrate on the thing we all loved, that being science fiction. (Mind you, his sympathies were with the ones who were excluded, but he was able to overcome his own political inclinations for the best of fandom.)

The fact that fandom as an open culture survived more than seventy years is a testament to the power of that simple, uniting concept. That we are once again looking to be rift by a political divide was perhaps inevitable. But as fandom has grown, expanded and diluted itself, we may have won the überculture wars and lost our heart.  We have not been able to transmit this central precept to new fans. Geeks are chic, but somehow we’ve let the fuggheads win.

And, from my observations, this is an inevitable consequence of the creation of any kind of fandom, from tattoos to swords to us. There is a thing people like. Thing people make initial contact with each other to discuss things and thingishness. At some point a woman (and it’s usually women, no matter what the thing) organizes gatherings, and thing fandom grows bigger and better. At some point, the people who care not about things, but merely about being a big fish in a small sea, squeeze out the thing people. Sometimes thing fandom just dies, sometimes it fissures and the process is recreated. So the fuggheads always win. The only question is how long can we delay their inevitable triumph?

SF fandom has managed to stave it off for a long time. Sadly, we no longer have a Bob Tucker. We don’t have one fan who is so widely respected and loved that his pointedly humorous yet calming voice can soothe the waters. Again, simply a reflection of the greater culture. When SF was aborning, radio and the pulps created huge mass audiences for entertainment. All of fandom read and were influenced by essentially the same small pool of creative endeavor. Now we have not only 300 hundred channels of cable (and nothing on), but the vast output of the Internet, both pro and amateur. It is possible to be a science fiction fan and have absolutely no point of connection with another fan these days.

For instance, a slur that has been cast at people who dare criticize the politically correct, self-appointed guardians of … everything, apparently, is that they read Heinlein. Well, Heinlein is one of the few points of reference those fans who read have. Of course we all read Heinlein and have an opinion about his work. How can you be a fan and not? The answer, of course, these days is that you can watch Game of Thrones and Star Wars and anime and never pick up a book. And there’s enough published material out there that it is entirely possible to have zero points of contact between members of that smaller subset of SF readers.

So the question arises—why bother to engage these people at all? They are not of us. They do not share our values, they do not share our culture.

And I’m not sure there is a good enough argument for engaging them. There is only the evidence of history, which is that science fiction thrives on interaction. Artists, readers, authors, editors, all united in discussing the things that are cool and wonderful, together. We share a belief that the future is worth engaging. It’s an on-going conversation, and it’s worked well that way. Take the example of Eric Flint’s Ring of Fire series. It started out as one novel, not especially envisioned to be the first of a series, an alternate history. The author asked for help researching some abstruse historical points, and did so on an on-line forum of readers. Fourteen years and sixteen novels and nine collections later (not even counting 40+ issues of the on-line professional magazine), a huge, intricate and rich SF world has been imagined and developed.

That process would not, could not, have occurred within any other genre. Yes, it took the brilliance and guidance of one person to set it in motion and shape it throughout, but it is the result of hundreds of people pulling together to explore and create on their own. Not as some side “fan fiction” endeavor, but as part of the—commercially viable—whole. And when I say “commercially viable” it is shorthand for: “lots of people like it and are willing to show this by paying money for it to continue.”

So the core of science fiction, its method, is still a valid way of creating the cultural artifacts we want. But is it necessary to engage those of differing political persuasions to get this method? I feel the answer is probably yes. You don’t get a conversation with only one opinion, you get a speech, lecture or soliloquy. All of which can be interesting, but not useful in the context of creating science fiction. But a conversation requires two way communication. If the person on the other side is not willing to a) listen and b) contribute to the greater whole, there is no point to the exercise.

And this, I think, leads to why the awards are important. They are a resource for continuation of culture. They are a reward for work that is approved of by the field, and a sign to those outside the field that this is what we, the insiders, think represents the best we can do. Awards become instant history. You make Wikipedia.

But awards lists only maintain their legitimacy so long as they in fact accurately reflect the field. So if a large part of the field feels that its interests are not being served–and they do–the award is compromised.

What to do? Fight to reestablish legitimacy? Establish a different awards list? I have long argued that winning the George Washington awards (every royalty period) is all the recognition needed—living well is the best revenge. And that is one reason Baen is publishing a “Best of Military and Adventure SF” reprint anthology next year—it’s a way to get more money into the hands of writers who write what we feel is the good stuff. It will in its way be a “juried” award with cash prize awarded by a small pool of experienced editors.

But are the popular awards worth fighting for? I’m not sure our side has ever really tried, though there are indications that previous attempts to rally readers of non-in-group books were thwarted in ways that were against the rules of the game. And yet, to quote Heinlein, “Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you. If you don’t bet, you can’t win.”

I think the problem is that folks just really feel they have no possible conversation with the other side any more, that the battle for this part of the culture isn’t worth fighting. And I think again SF is mirroring the greater American culture. Our country is different because it, like science fiction fandom, was built around an idea—not geographic or linguistic accident, but an idea—we hold these truths to be self evident. And it is becoming more and more obvious that the two sides of American culture no longer share a frame of reference, no points of contact, no agreement on the meaning of the core ideas.

And yet, I can’t help but think that at some point, you have to fight or you will have lost the war. The fight itself is worth it, if only because honorable competition and conflict leads to creativity, without which we, science fiction, as a unique phenomenon, die.

 

1,012 thoughts on “The Problem of Engagement — a guest post by Toni Weisskopf

  1. When everyone left in fandom have managed to drive off and exclude everyone who thinks differently than them, what will they talk about?

    I can just picture them, sitting silent and angry in the hotel bar, when one of them finally intones, “Grrr, THOSE guys….” and the other says “Yeah.”

    Then nothing else.

    1. It’s the heat death of the fandom universe.

      As I see it, we’ve hit a point where the ‘entitled snowflake’ generation, the one where every wish has been granted and every stone has been removed from their paths and every potential emotional boo-boo has been padded by policy, is running the asylum. They don’t know how to respectfully disagree because every time they’ve had to cope with disagreement in the past their tears were soothed by someone making the bad people go away. Life is an eternal fun time, with everything they want given to them with no effort on their part, with the addition of cookies and ice cream and certificates of participation.

      Their whim is law, and if you’re not willing to abide by it, they will shout at you until they get their way. That’s how life is SUPPOSED to be, darn it!

      Or, so they think. They do believe people MUST agree with their points of view, because THEIRS are the only right ones.

      Of course, reality laughs at such conceits. And that, I think, it what those who wish to turn fandom into their exclusive clique need badly – to be laughed at (because reason doesn’t work – you’re disagreeing with their points of view, which automatically makes you someone they’re not supposed to listen to) and told firmly ‘NO’, no matter how much they pout and weep and scream.

      1. That’s what they’ve done with the SFF.NET politics conference. There’s about 1 moderate conservative left posting there. Although you’ll find numerous of liberals still posting. When I post they go ballistic on me and when I returned some of the bullets they banned me.

        1. So they’ve carefully constructed their own consensual alternative reality?

          Looking at it – it’s clear they’re not going to allow anyone who doesn’t adhere to the groupthink to disturb their created world…

          1. Oh, yes. I once dropped out of a newsgroup because the SF writer who presided over it sent me a chiding email about having twice brought up some facts. Sanctimoniously declaring that I had as good as called someone a liar.

            1. Yeah… I’m noticing more and more the arguments aren’t about facts – after all, facts can be checked easily – but about feelings. And everyone’s entitled to how they ‘feel’ about a particular issue and all feelings are equally valid.

              Facts be damned, apparently…

            2. Indeed — bringing up inconvenient facts can only be a personal insult. I had that happen when a French lady on Livejournal got mad at me for mentioning that the French Muslims committed crimes out of proportion to their numbers — she told me “No one can know that because we don’t keep statistics on crimes by race” (she meant “religion”) and furthermore that “what I said would be criminal in France.”

              Um, yeah. It’s still true, whether or not the French choose to close their eyes to it, or even punish those who point it out. Reality doesn’t go away no matter how loudly one complains about it.

            3. Sanctimoniously declaring that I had as good as called someone a liar.

              If they had claimed something counter to the facts, you’d done better— you proved that they had said an untruth. (Can come about by lying, but also by being lied to. Lying does require knowing or willfully not knowing that you’re telling a falsehood.)

        2. common tactic of the leftoid. See The Blog Not To Be Named, and all those other leftoid blogs, dissenting opinion is banned and blocked then deleted because no differing opinion is allowed. Oh, they’ll keep some so called “moderate” but then these same folks thought Joe Lieberman was too “right-wing” to hold office so what they call a “Moderate” many of us would call a Trotskyite shill. The fastest way to be banned is to use silly things, like Facts, and Results.

    2. The problem is that a lot of them do not want to drive us off. They want to control us. Therefore, they will do it again, and again, and again.

      1. The clear implication being that they will follow us wherever we go, cursing us all the way. Scary.

        1. Of course – it’s for our own good ™ after all. How are you supposed to become a tolerant, accepting person without having the ideas properly beaten into you with a large club?

        2. You don’t expect them to build up a con or stuff, do you? that’s work. Like all activists, they do not act, they opine about how others should act.

          1. ummmm, Mary? My apologies, but you paint too broadly there. Some activists actually have brains in their skulls (OK, perhaps a conceit, but I are one…) Just like some pacificists fight, or actively support others who fight (thinking off top of my head about Quaker serving as medics, frex), when there is sufficient provocation.

            I have both written about and actively taught activism, as matters would have it. Activist activity occurs all across the spectrum. YMMV, OTOH, IMNSHO, and other-like expressions actively applied, of course.

            1. The problem isn’t with the theory and application,, It’s with the fanatical adherent, who can’t/won’t think about the *why.* Think Quaker, and the radical anti-war activist. One wants a perfect world, and works to make it happen, while admitting _this_ world is far from it. The other, demands it be treated as if it is perfect.

          2. “You don’t expect them to build up a con or stuff, do you?”

            When they try to, they get told “But if it’s not welcoming to us, you’ll fail! You need to change to accomodate us, and stop talking about politics!” or “You need to not have a harassment policy — you’ll be excluding fans” or any one of a number of complaints.

            And yet they do build cons. You don’t go to them, but they do happen. Same as all the other cons.

            (I suspect there are politically right-wing *focused* cons out there; I don’t know about them because I have no interest, but I suspect they’re out there.)

            So, Ms. Catelli, perhaps you should do some of the looking-at-facts so beloved of other people in this thread, before you draw with your very broad brush.

              1. Actually, they tend to take over cons, then rebuild them in their own vision, because they like running things and telling people what to do. They’re all Community Organizers….

                And the takeover is nearly complete.

                1. The Doers build it up, are pushed out by the Talkers, Bad Things Happen, it either fails or the Talkers throw a fit and leave– then the Doers take back over, repeat. It can take a long time to fail. My mom was pushed out of leader 4H, and that chugged along for nearly a decade with

                  Politics isn’t so much the dividing line as a sort of crazy sense of entitlement to control anything they’re part of, which is at this time overwhelmingly in one area.

            1. When they try to, they get told “But if it’s not welcoming to us, you’ll fail! You need to change to accomodate us, and stop talking about politics!” or “You need to not have a harassment policy — you’ll be excluding fans” or any one of a number of complaints.

              People who are incapable of organizing a con in the face of complaints are incapable of organizing a con, period.

            2. I wish someone would send us a better quality of trolls. I mean, Jesus.

              Look, S., if you *read* the article, you’d see it’s protesting *exclusion* and hoping for *inclusion*. So the notion of explicitly “right-wing” cons is more or less the opposite of what Toni has in mind.

              One problem is that the American discourse in the ‘teens suffers from a lack of vocabulary. The whole notion of “right-wing” has been corrupted, I think purposefully, to mean to many anything other than the corporatist union-owned happy-face fascism that is the current American Left.

        3. This is precisely the problem. And this is why they must not be permitted entrance in the first place, no matter how helpful they are, no matter how well they promise to behave, and how ecumenical they promise to be.

          The rabbits behave right up until they think they are strong enough to take control. Then they drive all the not-rabbits out. And then they start devouring each other while some of them start looking for a new place to invade.

              1. Its happening. Sorry but all that construction up in the Woodlands is big oil moving headquarters from Cali to Texas. And with the headquarters will come the people in management.

                  1. Californians have this disease, they move away from California (usually out to the ‘country’) so they can ‘do what they want.’ Then they try and change everything to be just like where they came from. Unfortunately they are usually successful. I have seen them do it to almost every place they move to.

                    1. I guess teach our children and grandchildren constitutional principles. Otherwise I have no clue what to do to inoculate people who are infected.

                    2. I meant more in the nature of a vaccine for those who aren’t infected but may come in contact with those who are.

                    3. Stubbornness– Plus it is hard to keep yourself when in college– It is too bad we don’t have schools or colleges. I think also reading about the Constitution and reading people like Thomas Sowell and others.

      2. This is creepy close to something I’ve been thinking a lot, of late.

        If you start looking at the form responses take, it frequently is similar to any form of emotional manipulation. (Note, manipulation can be good or bad– I started noticing it because I was trying to figure out how to tell stories better, and for that you’ve got to inspire set reactions.)

        Even folks who I’m pretty sure aren’t trolls (am talking about someone, but it’s not a get-back-at-them thing and it wasn’t here)

        Maybe it’s a matter of thinking with your emotions instead of your head, but they sure seem to be trying to make people do things, instead of persuade them that it’s what they want to do. Like the folks who go looking for a (religious group) and then throw a fit when that group actually follows their religious tenets. It’s not that they couldn’t get what they wanted somewhere else, they wanted that person to behave as if they don’t disagree.

      1. They’ve been eating their own since the Sixties, at least. Unlike the cases with the three you mention, this sort of viciousness can go on forever.

        1. The Great One himself has linked over here from Twitter, so be prepared for an influx of b-level fascists.

          Of course he’s never going to engage himself in a forum that he doesn’t control.

          Me, I’m laying in an ample supply of popcorn against the day his TwitMob turns on him. You know it’s only a matter of time, him being a Person of Pallid Penis and all.

          1. It’s also quite amusing that the Empowered Systers of Glittery Hoo-Has apparently need a middle-aged white nebbish to tell them what to do.

      2. “I fear being cast suddenly as one of the ‘bad guys’ for being insufficiently radical, too nuanced or too forgiving, or for simply writing something whose offensive dimensions would be unknown to me at the time of publication,” – Katherine Cross

        I read the article, and all I can think is: welcome to the ‘conversation.’

  2. The unfortunate fact is that the surly, anti-social curmudgeons who actively create are being defined out of the picture by those whose focus is not creativity, per se, but governance; and who immediately take steps to rule out of order those unruly barbarians clamoring at the door for entrance.
    It happens in just about every endeavor.

    Ex. Motorola was created by a smart engineer, then ‘managed’ by accountants and bureaucrats until the company became a liability, and then re-taken by another engineering-minded person.

    Ex. Education is comprised of a few excellent teachers, many mediocre teachers, and bureaucrats that rise to thee top by ‘incentivizing’ the mediocre ones. “Those who can; do. Those who care; teach. Those who can’t; administrate.”

    Ex, The military used to be comprised of mid-level managers waiting their chance to progress. During armed conflicts, the deadwood at the top is removed because of their incompetence, and the young bucks are allowed to shine. Thus, it took a world war to elevate the likes of Eisenhower, Patton and Bradley. Fortunately the Army was commanded by George C. Marshall, one of the better leaders of the time. But lately the ‘managers’ are sticking around too long.

    Creative thinkers are busy creating, and thus have no time or inclination for the day-to-day trivia. Thus an opportunity is made and the vacuum is filled.

    I personally think we should follow the advice of Bernardo de la Paz and conscript the able but unwilling. They’ll be allowed an out after a term of service determined by the creative few.

    Sort of like tossing people out of the sled to the wolves – but there is progress for all that.

    1. We got a pep talk here last week on why we still need a nuclear deterrent. I’m good with that so far as it goes. We do.

      The talk was given by a high-ranking military officer. It was pure Dale Carnegie. Entertaining as far as it went, but that still bothers me.

      1. The whole idea of a nuclear deterrent is to convince the other side that you WILL use them. If they don’t believe you, you might as well give up as use them, because you’ve lost the upper hand.
        I once heard the Gold team captain of the USS Ohio (SSBM) explain this. When he was asked if he would actually launch, he gave a firm YES.

        1. One of our speaker’s points was that our nuclear weapons are in constant use. Doing the job they were designed and built for.

          Look, it was a good talk. But the Dale Carnegie rah-rah approach still bothered me.

          1. But are they? How many foreign leaders really believe that Obama would use them against them if necessary? If they don’t believe we will use them, then they aren’t doing the job the were built for. Which means they might have to do the job they were designed for.

            1. China isn’t invading Japan, Russia isn’t invading any NATO members – and they’re being rather restrained in Ukraine. I’d say they’re still working. The simple fact is that Wiggleroom is just too unpredictable to risk nuclear armageddon.

            2. Frankly, as much of a milquetoast as he is, the way he handles domestic policy may very well convince them that he’s unpredictable when it comes to big decisions like that.

  3. The other side makes incredible claims, stating that they don’t feel “safe” because a certain comedian is going to host the show. They claim that they want to end a default regarding gender, while simultaneously telling writers who disagree that they need to stop being gatekeepers.

    Engagement really does require one side talking and another side willing to listen, and I’ve quit trying to listen to the other side. I refuse to listen to a group that refuse to listen to me and treat me like I belong in a museum.

    There is a way to speak to me if you want me to listen. With a left leaning author asked people to ramp down the outrage, which would put them in a position of talking to me in just that way, they turned on him.

    The other side isn’t interested in dialog, they’re interested in domination.

    1. It’s worse than that. I’ve had male SF writer friends — the nicest, kindest guys in the world — being told that people are afraid to attend conventions because they’ll be there.
      Note no one tells me that which is a) stupid b) apparently only creatures with penises scare them.

      THANK HEAVENS I’m Southern enough (Naturalized in NC, honey!) To say “Bless their little hearts.”

      1. Oh, I can imagine. Now, I’ve had death threats directed at me. Nowhere near what Larry Correia gets, and some of these are teh WorldCon crowd. Yet, if Larry were to say he refused to attend WorldCon because he felt unsafe, the left would be howling about how Larry’s a wimp, even though there have been actual death threats against him.

        However, because some of us write fiction that has guns and men who act like freaking MEN in it, the glittery hoo haa brigade gets to scream about how they feel unsafe even though not a single one of us would lay a hand on any woman who didn’t literally ask for it…and then only if the guy in question is single and unattached…oh, and interested.

      2. They’ll never be safe, I’m afraid, because the “danger” is coming from within themselves.

        1. I have to admit, you struck me speechless. Congratulations.

          The people who fear being sexually harassed or assaulted, say, at conventions, because it already has happened to them, or happened to people they know — the “danger” is coming from inside them?

          Is that really what you meant to say?

          1. Yes. It is. The people who fear being harassed or assaulted by people who never harassed or assaulted anyone are projecting so hard it hurts.
            Also, define “it’s already happened to them” — so if they were sexually assaulted, those people are in jail, right? Because it’s already a crime.
            STOP pretending your rules are going to stop what laws can’t.

            1. Last I checked saying someone looked good in a bathing suit was not yet a jailable offense in most jurisdictions. So no those people aren’t already in jail, thus the need for the rules.

              1. Telling someone that they are attractively dressed is not “sexual harassment.” In a world where it is, there would be no interaction between men and women, and a simple “Good morning” would eventually be determined to be harassment.

              2. That is not assault or harassment. Assault requires touch and harassment requires repeated actions.

              3. They’ve defined “sexual harassment” in such a ludicrously broad way that any comment made by a normal person can be defined as such. Or even not-a-comment — I once heard a feminist lawyer say that “undressing somebody with your eyes” should be actionable sexual harassment. She didn’t appreciate it when I suggested that Superman was in trouble, then.

                1. I was once accused of “undressing” a woman with my eyes by the woman in question.

                  She got really pissed when I told her that I was, in fact, trying to figure out how they got that much whale blubber into a pant suit.

                  The conversation with HR afterward was quite entertaining, to say the least.

                  1. It’s an issue for me — thank heavens I’m not a male — because I tend to look really intent while my mind is a million miles away, usually while trying to plot a novel.

                    1. Honestly, that was what was happening with me. I had spaced out and she assumed I was doing something else.

                      In all fairness, my comment was overly harsh. I just didn’t like the arrogance that since I was looking intently in her direction, the only possible reason was to imagine her without clothing on. It’s not like she was all that in the first place.

                      So, I got snarkier than I needed. I was willing to apologize for that, but not until she realized that not every man wanted to see her naked…and, in fact, most men might not for various reasons.

                  2. I try not to stare at women, because I’m afraid they will say something when it’s one of those times I’m trying to figure out how big a gag it would take to shut them up. 🙂

                    1. I’m blunt enough that I’d probably tell them the truth.

                      Like I said, the meeting with HR was actually kind of entertaining 😀

                  3. I said something similar to a woman who accused me of ‘undressing her with my eyes.’ Actually if I recall correctly it was something along the lines of, “Lady, you don’t have enough money to pay me to look at you nekkid.”

                    She didn’t appreciate it either, but I was in the grocery store (I think calculating dollars per ounce on something to see which size was the better buy) so it wasn’t like she was going to complain to my boss.

                    Ever notice it is never the swimsuit model types that accuse you of this? It is always the ones that look like an overweight Chinese pug that think you have nothing you would rather do than get them nekkid.

                    1. You know, at my age and avoir du pois I think the only man undressing me with his eyes is my husband, but if I caught another man doing it, my answer would be “Why, bless you my child.”
                      Which was also my answer when the neighbor’s teen boys were peepingtoming into my bathroom window. (with binoculars, from their cottage) I threw it open and said, “Bless you, my children. It’s not every woman my age and looks who gets young men wanting to see her naked.”
                      Strangely… coff… they ran away and never did it again.

                    2. And the dogs morning kicks off by being startled awake by laughter.

                      Be glad of the two of us, I’m the one with fingers.

                    3. It does tend to be that way.

                      Honestly, if it was a swimsuit model complaining,I’d have probably at least owned up to it and secretly promised never to be so obvious about it again.

            2. > Also, define “it’s already happened to them” — so if they were sexually assaulted, those people are in jail, right? Because it’s already a crime.

              I’m confused. It sounds to me like you’re saying that anyone who commits assault always goes to jail. But I know that’s not true. Not just because they aren’t always caught (which does happen) but also because they aren’t always prosecuted.

              1. These days? In the US? Unless they’re not accused, guys do not really escape prosecution. If they’re not accused the other stuff won’t help.
                Look, most campus codes punish unless PROVEN INNOCENT and companies, etc, are going the same way. Adding more rules that are CLEARLY androphobic and violating men’s rights does what, precisely?

          2. No, that’s what you’re trying to reframe my statement to say. There’s a difference.

          3. Actual sexual harassment or assualt, as opposed to mere annoyance, is fairly rare at science fiction conventions. One is probably safer among fen than among any other highly-eccentric group of individuals.

            1. Well, I didn’t do it till the boys were taller than I, but judging by how many SF/F writers let their kids run around at all hours and how we never heard of a kidnap/rape/molestation… I’d say you’re right.
              The annoyance factor is high, but that’s to be expected in highly eccentric groups.

        2. /slow applause/ Brilliant. A glorious observation & useful lens to turn upon many things…. Thank you, sir!

          (And I am reading it as “projecting the products of a dark imagination onto others due to a warped and distorted perspective” at this moment. The nice thing about such simply stated truths are the way they catch life & color it.)

    2. I’ve noted elsewhere that Marxists make me feel way more unsafe than fat jokes (and I’m a guy who’s been sitting behind a desk for the last several years).

      I mean, given that they’ve actually murdered a hundred million people.

      1. We’ve made it so that anyone that marches in a black uniform and praises the fuhrerprinzip is relentlessly hounded out of society – and rightly so. But we should be doing the same for anyone flying a red flag, a hammer and sickle or other socialist symbol.

            1. yup, said it before, the thing that makes me laugh the most (at least internally) is a grad student in a Che shirt.

            1. I’d have to say, an appropriate use of Che’s mug.

              I’ve always been tickled how a communist like Che now has his mug on t-shirts that are sold for a healthy profit. The irony just makes me feel tingly in places better left unmentioned. 😀

        1. I disagree. I don’t want to hound anyone out of society. What I want to do, actually do, and will continue to do, is laugh at them. They have no concept of what they’re doing or saying, they have no concept what the organizations they praise are really like, and they have no concept of what life would be like in such a society. That doesn’t mean I won’t fight if I had to — I didn’t spend 26 years in the military to roll over and let the idiots win. It just means that their ideas or so ludicrous they deserve to be laughed at, every time they open their mouths and spout their drivel.

          1. I think laughter is a great weapon for those whose activities are foolish but not directly harmful. It can be calibrated to the level of offense, so that great sarcasm is leveled only at the very deserving.
            Hounding-out (or at least suppression) may be needed for others who go beyond that line – i.e to active attacks upon life, property, reputation. Applies whether those attacks are focused upon an individual or diffused, as in attacking the viability of an organization multiple individuals depend upon for some part of their livelihood.

        2. And given the number of people who have died due to corporate efforts, shall we also hound out anyone wearing a corporate logo?

          You seem to think, and I can understand why, given the deliberate efforts of propaganda in this country, to think that “socialism” is of the same level of extremity, and the same level of poison, as Naziism. The Swedes would be intrigued to hear that. Many workers in worker-owned co-operatives would be *fascinated* to hear how they’re supposed to be as bad as Nazis.

          (Which reminds me; if you want to draw your analogy a bit more accurately, I’d argue that a) you want to look at, say, Stalinists, and b) I will point out that never in this country have neo-Nazi activities (or proto-fascist, or, indeed, fascist) ones been criminalized *of themselves* — while Communist activities were. So perhaps you should consider this the next time you decide to throw around bad analogies.)

          1. Oh you really are a precious little flower aren’t you. I’m curious, are you even aware of what Nazi STANDS FOR?

            Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei — National Socialist German Worker’s Party. They differed from the communists only in that they weren’t trying to destroy the ruling elite but co-opt them. In this they were far more successful than the Communists.

            In the game of destroying vast numbers of their own people Hitler was a piker compared to Stalin. 8 million total in the Holocaust, Stalin killed more like 40 million.

            But never let the facts stand in the way of your narrative neh?

            As to your previous comment about right-wing cons and sexual assault. I invite you to come to Libertycon. It’s right-wing in that it’s Baen heavy. But let me tell you something, pwecious fwower. If you were to go to ANY ‘Fly and tell them you’d been assaulted, and had proof, the perp would be begging the police to take them away.

            That’s what evil right wingers thing about sex assault. But again, facts, narrative. I also have yet to see you explain how rules can prevent what laws cannot. No one is suggesting that sexual harassment (the real thing, not just “I don’t like the creepy guy saying hi to me) or sexual assault are minor issues, what we are saying is that they’re overblown issues.

            There. is. no. rape. culture.

          2. And given the number of people who have died due to corporate efforts, shall we also hound out anyone wearing a corporate logo?

            Show your work. Evidence, please. And proof that goes beyond “Because I said so, that’s why.” Be specific: which people, and which corporation, and how did that corporation’s efforts cause (or meaningfully contribute to) their death? Note that “meaningfully contribute” does not include, say, the argument “He ate at McDonald’s every day, and died of a heart attack, therefore his heart attack is McDonald’s fault.” See the documentary Fat Head for evidence that one can, indeed, eat a healthy diet at McDonald’s. Shuffling responsibility for an individual’s personal choices off onto corporations will not be accepted as evidence. (I mention this because I think that’s where you’re intending to go with this argument, and it’s baloney. For reasons amply demonstrated in Fat Head, so I won’t repeat them here.)

          3. Your demonstration of your utter ignorance of history would be hilarious were it not the perfect example of my point.

          4. Minor difference between a worker owned corporation (which I guess unlike those other evil corporate efforts that kill more than communism and socialism, is okay?) like Harley Davidson and a socialist government like, oh say, Nazi Germany.

            Of course if you can’t figure out the difference between a ruling government and place you voluntarily go to work five days a week, well that explains why the rest of your argument is so incoherent.

            1. Calling Nazi Germany “Socialist” is like calling the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea a democratic society.

              I have been to the National Socialism Documentation Center in Cologne, and the historical exhibit there is very clear about how it was conservative elements in German society that supported the Nazis rise to power while it was the socialists who opposed them and who were oppressed by the Nazis after they came to power. It is a ridiculous and deceitful semantic game to equate socialism with fascism.

              1. Alex, you’re exactly right — we should believe the dressed up history, not what they called themselves. (Rolls eyes.)
                There is ONE difference between national socialism and socialism — the national. That’s it. Yes, their approach to state controlled economy is different. But it’s still state controlled.
                As for “conservative” elements in Germany… Take a powder, will you? DO YOU THINK “conservative” in Europe is the same as in the States? If you do you just lost the right to talk about anything outside the US. I grew up in Europe. Their conservatives are soft socialists to hard socialists, closer to the elites of the democratic party here, with a strong dash of either religion or class elements. NOTHING to do with the “don’t thread on me” elements in the US.
                Now that we’re done comparing apples to cuckoo clocks can we talk sense?
                The Nazis called themselves socialists, because they were. And the complete insanity of telling me that the socialists opposed them is proven by the fact that communist party members could cross over with equivalent rank UNTIL Stalin and Hitler stopped being besties.
                Oh, and don’t play semantic games with communism and socialism, either. I learned from communists AND socialists. Socialism is “a system on the way to communism, the perfect society.” Said so in my 11th grade social sciences book.
                I swear American leftists are the most gullible people in the world. Keep petting that wolf. It will eat you last.

                1. The defining quality of Naziism was nationalism, and the defining characteristic of fascism generally is the identification of enemies of the state, internal and external, to justify assaults on liberty. It’s the same kind of rhetoric that put America into Iraq. A lot of those newspaper clippings from Germany in the 1930s sounded very similar to what one hears on Fox News today.

                  Socialism is simply democratic control of some kinds of enterprise. It’s public education, law enforcement, fire control, currency, consumer protection, roads, the Tennessee Valley Authority, the health care systems of most modern democracies. Socialism isn’t communism (which is the elimination of private ownership), communism isn’t Marxism (political revolution to take control of the state), Marxism isn’t Leninism (using violence and propaganda to support a one-party regime), and Leninism isn’t Stalinism or Maoism (variations of class-based genocide). The Founding Fathers were socialist; considering the state as an enterprise under the democratic control of the citizenry is fundamental to modern democracies, including the United States. Democracies can vote on issues involving the assets of the commons, market failures, or public priorities that aren’t being addressed adequately by the private sector. Equating “socialism” with the excesses of Stalin is a ridiculous semantic misstatement that just scares gullible people into supporting corporate control and right-wing tyranny.

                  1. If you accept that Joseph Stalin has the right to define Nazism, true. If not — not.

                    Oddly enough, around here, we do not think that Stalin has such rights.

                    1. But he does, because — STALIN.
                      BTW, Eric Flint thinks Hitler was capitalist and Stalin “socialist” — do we arrogate to EF the right to define socialism? No? Why not? He’s killed fewer people than Stalin. He’s still wrong about Hitler who had as much in common with a Capitalist as I have with Queen Elizabeth.

                    2. I can’t believe I missed this comment (well actually with around 900 of them I can) you have everything important in common with Queen Elizabeth. Just ask a feminist, you wimmenz needs to stick together.

                    3. I kinda like her majesty, she’s a tough old…bird.

                      *big grin, thinking of a story about how the queen dealt with a to-do about her being a responsible hunter*

                  2. Wow, you’re taking that oddly broad definition of socialism (a political system) which conflates it with cooperative activities (not necessarily political), which I’ve seen before. I blame the sociologists.

                    I also find interesting this “defining quality” argument. From this I can pick whichever ‘defining quality’ is most helpful in demonizing those who disagree with me and apply it liberally (hm, did I…?) Thus, America – Iraq – Nazis. Handy, that.

                    And the Founding Fathers were socialists? Okay. You go with that.

                    1. I was going to stop there, but I went back and read through the comment again, and there’s just so many delicious tidbits of ‘huh?’ in it.

                      These fine distinctions between socialism, Marxism, Communism, Leninism, Stalinism, and Maoism. Those are fun. What’s the underlying philosophy that ties all those little shades of murder together, I wonder?

                      Democracies can vote on issues involving the assets of the commons, market failures, or public priorities that aren’t being addressed adequately by the private sector.

                      This one is interesting because there are elements of reality wrapped up in the assumptions. But…still problematic. Because the philosophical foundations lie in the wrong place, and the whole structure is tottering.

                      Let’s poke at some and see what happens:
                      What are assets of the commons? Where did they come from? How did they get to be assets of the commons? What are the justifications for making some assets common and where are the limitations on making other assets common?

                      What is a democratic vote going to do about a market failure? Why would a random mass of people casting a (political) vote be an effective solution to market failure? What alternative philosophy (involving that same random mass of people) exists to correct for market failures?

                      What are public priorities? Who sets them? Why are they being addressed by the private sector if they’re public concerns? How are random groups of people (each of whom has their own priorities) going to address this?

                      What is a republic? How does it differ from a democracy? Why does that matter?

                      Please note, I’m not arguing that any of this is not legitimately the concern of a government. Because I’m not an anarchist. I am arguing that the philosophy that underlies how we go about various solutions is profoundly important. And dismissing that philosophy while tossing out “democracy!” and “Founding Fathers/Socialists!” cools my blood a bit.

                    2. What is a “market failure”? What happens if you don’t vote to correct it? What happens if you vote to correct it and the correction is wrong because your learning is wrong? What happens to the market then? Answer — the market self-corrects. IT ALWAYS self corrects, it just might have the additional hurdle of working around political crap, and it might be kept in semi-illness by the political crap. See, FDR prolonging the recession and creating the depression with his half baked ideas.
                      If the market will take its own way and route around damage, then what is it politically acceptable to do in “failure” however defined? Why? Is it merely a vehicle for power by technocrats and bureaucrats?
                      Yeah — I didn’t answer all of his comment because it’s a frothy mixture of crazy and fail. Not unusual. He probably learned this crap in college and has not once tried to work it out for himself, with non-cherry-picked examples from history. He’s happy to believe because, see where the barking noises of socialism are an upper class status symbol badge. He’s just upwardly mobile, is Alex.
                      To make him examine his premises and realize how badly he’s gone astray, besides facts one would need a willingness to re-examine them, which if accomplished would put him on the outs with the group he wishes to belong to. A thankless task and a futile one. That pig won’t sing. This is how I’ve come up with “make duck noises and faces at them, and answer them with gifs.” The only way to invalidate a “class” badge is to show it for the ridiculous thing it is.

                    3. The bothersome bit, for me, is that so many well-meaning and generous people who’ve soaked in this misguided mess of foundationless* philosophy then blithely go on to “fight the good fight” against us heartless others.

                      They believe they’re doing good works, and contributing to greater works, and helping their fellows.

                      That, and the shifting landscape of definitions that comes up with “defining characteristic” and morphs cooperative behaviors (the foundation of civilization) into ‘socialism.’ Now I’m against cooperation… 8-\

                      Blech.

                      *The mess so many modern Americans roll off their tongue about socialism and communism (and Stalinism, Leninism and Maoism, apparently) is foundationless. The actual political systems and those who wish to use them to achieve power have foundations. And they look remarkably like bone.

                    4. The assets of the commons include natural assets like clean air, clean water, electromagnetic spectrum, as well as assets constructed by society like (most) roads and schools.

                      The state can regulate markets through regulation. There are plenty of examples where monopolies or oligopolies gain unreasonable power to restrict consumers’ economic choices. From anti-trust legislation to food safety to the basic continuity of the financial system, there are plenty of situations where individual consumers can’t affect the market, so the state is empowered by the people to protect the interests of everyone.

                      Public priorities are obviously decided through the democratic process. Free societies are, pretty much by definition, democratic societies, where a certain amount of compromise and social contract is required for the society to be able to function and to provide the infrastructure that allows people to make free choices about their lives.

                    5. What happens to those assets when you designate them part of the commons? Everybody pisses in them, because nobody owns them, and cleanup ain’t my problem. I can point you to several examples of this tragedy in the Middle East. And Europe, come to think of it. I could point you to several here in the States, but examples in the States are typically treated as uniquely American failures.

                      Roads and schools are not assets of the commons, they’re (most often) owned by the State. Try using them without permission, the lesson will be illuminating.

                      Market regulation…we don’t have room to discuss market regulation, cronyism, stifling effects, hubris…

                      Public priorities are decided by the democratic process? So the majority gets to set the priorities? And the rest can get with the program? Sounds lovely. How’s about I set my own priorities, hm?

                      By the by, democracy is not equal to freedom. In fact, in the absence of restraint, democracy devolves to its own tyranny.

                      These are fluff concepts you’re tossing out. Feel good ideas without concrete basis in political theory, reality or humanity. There are profound problems with the philosophy, and you ought examine the effects of the things you advocate.

                    6. “The state can regulate markets through regulation. There are plenty of examples where monopolies or oligopolies gain unreasonable power to restrict consumers’ economic choices.”

                      Name one that wasn’t aided by the state.

                  3. Oh for the love of crying babies. No, the defining point of fascism was NOT nationalism. This was the nonsense put on it after WWII when people decided that nationalism was evil and not that excessive state power was evil because that would cut down the opportunities for graft and payolla.
                    Look, son, you’re American born and bred. You don’t know bupkis. The internationalist happy face of communism? BULLSHIT. It was always about USSR hegemony. Or Chinese hegemony.
                    That workers of the world bullshit? BULLSHIT. Look at the places where they actually get in power. They become at best family farms, at worst bureaucratic feudal states. NO “socialist” country buys into the international crap. Only your sweet, misguided, useful-idiot group. Out there in the real world, EVERY COUNTRY IS NATIONALIST. No socialist worth his salt in the US buys into the worker bullshit, either. making socialist-bark-noises has become an identifying mark of upper class technocrats and a necessity for entering any ivy-league.
                    Only you misguided duckies mistake the wrapping for the gift again, and the map for the territory.
                    As for hate groups — ALL socialist states end up designating/killing/denigrating hate groups. The only thing the Nazis were original in was that a couple of the groups were ethnic. They weren’t alone in that. The USSR carried out holomodor mostly against mostly Ukranians and from what I hear being a Jew or any ethnic minority in the US was not exactly a pinic.
                    EVERY controlling top-down state designates hate groups. Have you ever read 1984? Keeping the masses divided is the only way for a large (mostly bumbling. Get them large enough and they’re all bumbling. So are massive corporations) state to keep power. And inciting hate of first this group then the other is the way they do it.
                    You’re seeing distinctions where none exist. I recommend considering “By their fruits, thou shall know them.”

                    1. One notes the Southern Law Poverty Center is an actual hate group, whose rhetoric we know has inspired at least one violent attack — yet they have the nerve to label those who differ from them hate groups.

                    2. Every country isn’t nationalist, not that countries have unitary cultures. Most of Europe has moved away from nationalism. Europeans have seen the consequences of nationalism and it doesn’t appeal to a lot of people. The idea that one’s nation is better than others, that national unity enforced by violence, that’s an idea that is not popular in places that saw two World Wars up close. There are still nationalist elements in many countries today, but fortunately they’re not in charge in most places, though many conservative parties include and pander to such elements.

                      Most European societies, most democratic societies, are socialist, have been for decades; outside the US, most mainstream conservative parties have no intention of dismantling the basic social infrastructure of their societies. The US has plenty of socialist features.The history of civilization is the history of people working together for mutual benefit, and some of that involves government ownership and control of certain economic enterprises and activities.

                      The problem with equating fascism with socialism is that it opens the door to fascism that comes in with anti-socialist rhetoric. The Nazis were an anti-socialist party, they came to power campaigning against the dangers of communism, and they certainly had the support of most economic and social conservatives in Germany at the time. Fascism, giving the state a blank check to commit violence in the name of the supremacy and honor of the nation, is a real threat and it doesn’t come from the left.

                      Anyway I’m not going to stay on this topic here. I only came to respond to Toni, saying there are plenty of conventions where differences of opinion, perspective, and politics are welcome, and many of us make an effort to keep the doors of fandom open, even to people we happen to disagree with on one point or another.

                    3. I must say, you have a real resistance to learning from people with real-world experience. Sarah tried to explain to you that she was TAUGHT SOCIALISM IN SCHOOL.

                      Note that I did NOT say, “Taught about Socialism.” Taught Socialism. As a class similar to the Civics classes we used to have in this country. And her EXPERIENCE contradicts what you apparently “learned” in whatever school you went to.

                      Plus, “European countries aren’t Nationalist”? You really have been fed a bunch of crap. If they weren’t Nationalist, they wouldn’t look down their noses at everyone else. And don’t try to tell me they don’t. Any traveler who does not stick to the “We like Americans because they bring lots of money” areas finds this out in short order.

                    4. Or any that understands the native language and hears what they’re saying, while they’re smiling and saying nice things in English.
                      The ELITE in Europe is likely to say “we don’t trust nationalism” — they might even believe it. Except when the chips are down it’s “us against those damn furiners.” ALWAYS.

                    5. Have you actually been to Europe? Do you really believe they’ve abandoned nationalism?

                      I have been to several countries in Europe, additionally I’ve worked with nationalities (word choice matters) from across the globe. Nationalism is not dead, in my experience.

                      You might ask the Ukrainians how they feel about post-nationalism.

                      I don’t define nationalism as an inherent negative by the way. I think “ra-ra we is great is rude, not wrong.

                    6. It’s all of a piece with the Europhile’s obsession with how ‘Europe’ has “moved beyond” whatever the current complaint is.

                      Using ‘Europe’ as more than a geographic designation is a ridiculous conceit and groundless assumption. Europe is packed edge to edge with countries, nations if you’ll pardon the phrase. Why don’t people see that?

                      I mean, Portugal’s in Europe, right? They didn’t move it when I wasn’t looking, did they? So, Portuguese born and raised might have some insight…

                      Anyroad, I’ve had my fun, I’m going to go be productive or something.

                    7. Nationalism is not “the idea that one’s nation is better than others”, and “national unity enforced by violence” is completely beside the point. Nationalism is the recognition that your country is, in fact, your country; and that moral consequences derive from this fact. “My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right.”

                      And yes, to its discredit, Western Europe has derided and discounted nationalism—with what result? The Oxford Oath may not have influenced the course of history, but the attitude behind it led to WWII being far bloodier than it need have been.

                      And after WWII? Those Europeans you look up to were defended for the next half-century by those who didn’t lose the ideal of nationalism: misfits from among their own, but mostly American boys, send because a USSR that had absorbed the industry and population of France and West Germany would be that much more tempted to aim for the US (and yes, Alex, Canada too), and would be that much more capable of doing so. So American soldiers waited there, ready to “stand between their loved home and the war’s desolation.”

                      Opposition to nationalism is a dishonest philosophy: only possible because others, for reasons of patriotism, stand ready to defend even your life & liberty.

                    8. And it’s not even true. No, seriously. Anti-nationalism is taught in school in Europe, but in fact, when the chips are down, Europeans are INTENSELY tribal. Even as an exchange student, I was one of the odd ones — or perhaps I identified my tribe oddly — because mostly kids from a nation aggregated to the “most similar” in sometimes startling lines. If there was only a kid from a nation, first they would associate with that nation’s colonies or ex colonies, then with similarly related language groups and old allies/enemies. Say you had French kid, without other French kids. He’d be friends first with Canadians, then Algerian kids, or kids from the French Caribbean. If there was none/too few of those, then it was Belgians. If none of those, Germans. These cultural ties might not seem like nationalism, but they are. In the end, they’re “the way the cookie crumbles” or the world unity. And in the end, nations will fight for themselves and then their natural allies. And you’re right, this is not even necessarily a bad thing. The lie that the only nationalists are the Americans, OTOH, IS bad.

                    9. Alex wrote: “The problem with equating fascism with socialism is that it opens the door to fascism that comes in with anti-socialist rhetoric. The Nazis were an anti-socialist party, they came to power campaigning against the dangers of communism, and they certainly had the support of most economic and social conservatives in Germany at the time. Fascism, giving the state a blank check to commit violence in the name of the supremacy and honor of the nation, is a real threat and it doesn’t come from the left.”

                      Horse manure. First of all, ‘Fascism’ and ‘National Socialism’ were not identical ideologies. Second, ‘Fascism’ and ‘National Socialism’ were non-marxian variations of socialism. The propaganda invented by Marxists of denying that anything but pure Marxist-Leninist was socialism was always a fraud. Third, “most economic and social conservatives in Germany” is more nonsense on stilts as you misuse ‘conservative’. The forces in competition in Weimar Germany were mostly different variations of socialist movements.

                      And the idea that it is only Fascism/National Socialism that gave the state a “blank check” to commit violence is the most horrifically warped sense of history that I can imagine. It is the height of utter dishonesty of the kind we see the most from Marxist democide apologists.

                    10. Sarah, when you said “The USSR carried out holomodor mostly against mostly Ukranians and from what I hear being a Jew or any ethnic minority in the US was not exactly a pinic.”, did you mean the US or the USSR?

                      As for looking for “Groups To Hate”, the US Left/Liberals just love to hate Conservatives, the Religious Right, the Tea Party movement, etc.

                    11. Lordy, whatever you’re smoking is gooood stuff.

                      “Every country isn’t nationalist, not that countries have unitary cultures. Most of Europe has moved away from nationalism. Europeans have seen the consequences of nationalism and it doesn’t appeal to a lot of people. The idea that one’s nation is better than others, that national unity enforced by violence, that’s an idea that is not popular in places that saw two World Wars up close. There are still nationalist elements in many countries today, but fortunately they’re not in charge in most places, though many conservative parties include and pander to such elements.”

                      What hole did you just crawl out of that you believe Europeans aren’t nationlist? Europeans are WAY more nationalist than Americans

                      “Most European societies, most democratic societies, are socialist, have been for decades; outside the US, most mainstream conservative parties have no intention of dismantling the basic social infrastructure of their societies. ”

                      OK, you got something right. Although I would say ALL European societies are socialist. Now I don’t know enough about all the ‘mainstream’ (who is defining mainstream in these examples, anyways?) conservative parties outside the US to say if any of them have any intention of dismantling basic social infrastructure. What is basic social infrastructure, anyways? But by definition ‘conservatives’ of any country want to keep the country the way it was designed to be, therefore conservatives in a socialist country will be socialist, conservatives in a communist country that is sliding towards anarchy will be communist, and conservatives in a constitutional republic (like the US, which is NOT a democracy) will be constitutionalist republicans. Now tell me what the difference is between US conservatives and European conservatives? How about the difference between French conservatives and Ukranian conservatives? Or maybe it would be easier to list their similarities? That would be a pretty short list.

                  4. I don’t know where you are getting your definitions of what these different “isms” are, but they have little to do with their application in the real world. Perhaps it is time for you to quit thinking you know all the answers and preaching those answers to people who have lived in countries under socialist and communist and maoist rule and actually ask them what life in those countries was like. Of course, I doubt you’d be willing to because then you might just have to rethink your own biases about “corporate control and right-wing tyranny”.

                    1. I vaguely remember something in high school about nationalism being the defining trait of the fascists, but I don’t remember much beyond that– it was after a bit of a blow-up where the teacher claimed everyone who’d been drafted for Nam was either insane or hated the gov’t– and when I said it at home, it was pointed out that almost all of my male relatives of that age were drafted, and the only crazy one is also the one who hates the gov’t and was crazy long before he graduated, let alone was drafted.

                  5. Lord you really are an idiot aren’t you.

                    Socialism is simply democratic control of some kinds of enterprise.

                    No, it really fucking isn’t. It’s state control of some kinds of enterprise which, if unchecked ends in state control of all enterprises.

                    Let me explain something to you moron, the defining quality of socialism is state control of the economy. Which then extends downward into state control of everything, because EVERY HUMAN ACTIVITY IS AT BOTTOM AN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY. Idiot. Then, someone has to tell you what you can and can’t do. Fuckwit. Since humans are not very good at being told what they can and can’t do with their own money, that eventually means force must be used to require them to do what the state tells them to do. Cretin. Government, is, by definition, using force or the threat of force to compel people to do things they’d rather not — like pay taxes.

                    In a socialist system that threat of force, of violence, may be more or less evident but it still exists. Jackass. In modern Sweden, as in much of Europe, it may be hidden behind a velvet glove, but it exists just as it did in explicitly socialist Nazi Germany. I repeat, the only real difference between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia was in which set of ruling elites was in charge.

                    The Krauts tried to play the anti-communist card to look less threatening, but they were just as socialist as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

                    1. Actually, the Nazis were anti-Communist for the same reason that Ford is anti-Toyota and anti-GM and anti-every other car and truck company.

                      And it’s not because they’re anti-car and anti-truck; it’s because they want their brand to win against all the other similar brands of the same thing.

                  6. You know, that is possibly the stupidest collection of misinformed definitions I have ever seen in one post. You are to be congratulated, sir.

                    But also pitied, belittled, and derided, so don’t get a swelled head.

                  7. “The defining quality of Naziism was nationalism, and the defining characteristic of fascism generally is the identification of enemies of the state, internal and external, to justify assaults on liberty. It’s the same kind of rhetoric that put America into Iraq.”

                    Oh goody, I just figured out why people like you think we’re all Nazis, it’s because we’re patriotic, and only Nazis are patriotic.

                    By the way since you gave your own wacked definition of every type of government, including breaking communism down into half a dozen different types, and claiming the founding fathers were socialist (one or two leaned slightly that way, as in about as far as Bush II) care to explain why the only type of government you didn’t define is the one that we are? You know a Republic?

                  8. Alex, first of all, the comparison between fascism/Naziism and the Iraq adventure is just silly. I certainly agree that the Iraq war was misguided, but Nazis waged war for the stated and deliberate purpose of taking more territory. And in so doing, they dehumanized their enemies, whom they consider to be an inferior subspecies. The United States never intended to annex Iraq or even steal its oil (that would have been too rational). And, if anything, Bush and his advisers bent over backwards to insist that Iraqis were “just like us.” Hence the failure to turn Iraq into Sweden in a week.

                    As for the claim that the Found Fathers were socialists, you are defining “socialism” so broadly as to include pretty much anything other than anarcho-capitalism. In so doing, you rob the word of any meaning. Or, rather, you seek to define it broadly because the socialist enterprise has been broadly discredited.

                    As for “corporate control and right wing tyranny” that’s socialism too! At least by your definition. More to the point, soft leftists like Obama talk a good game about opposing evil corporations, but the rules they end up enacting always seem to benefit entrenched economic interests and the politically well-connected.

                    1. A certain segment of the political population tends to take a very Humpty Dumpty approach to word meaning. In particular they’ll look at anything they want to call “good” and decide that’s part of their favored ideology. Anything they think is “bad” well, obviously that’s an integral part of the main opposition’s ideology.

                      This often leads to circular definitions.

                      Example (summary of a “conversation” I actually had.)
                      SS*: “Racism is a conservative trait.”
                      Me: “What about the KKK. That was a group organized by Democrats.”
                      SS: “Maybe, but they were conservative then.”**
                      Me: “In what way were they conservative?”
                      SS: “Why they were racist, of course.”
                      Me: *Facepalm*

                      * SS = Special Snowflake
                      ** Reminds me of the “the parties switched” argument I see so often. Okay, let’s go with that claim that the parties switched sometime in the late 60’s. Can’t be earlier because arch-racist George Wallace was a Democrat before branching off for the ’68 election. So that means that the Republicans get to claim Kennedy and Truman, and the Democrats have to take Vice President Nixon. 😉 (Yes, I know, but “conventional wisdom” among the SS’s is what I’m working with here.) Usually makes their heads explode.

                2. Nazi propaganda presented rank-and-file Communists as potential Nazis. The Poisonous Mushroom has a Hitler Youth group instructed in the horrors of Communism by an ex-Communist. Hans Westmar‘s last shot is of a Communist character giving a Nazi parade the Nazi salute. An account of a political rally turned brawl ends with a Communist fighter — one of the last ones to be stopped — tearing up his card and joining the Nazis instead.

                    1. Wie Gehts? I have a little more, but it has been eleven years of disuse here too… Plus I am better in Deutsch when I am sick (spoke German in the hospital). 😉

                    1. I’m just trying to keep this a safe blog for the kiddies, and when ya’ll go around complimenting each other in a heathen language in which I’m only marginally fluent after twenty years of disuse, I wonder what ya’ll are up to…

                    2. Critical Deutsch:
                      Ein bier bitte frauline.
                      (Followed some time later by…)
                      Wo ist die Toilette, bitte?

                    3. for some reason I confused Kurt Wagner and Kurt Cobain.

                      *spends a few moments day dreaming of a world where more folks idolized Nightcrawler than a self-harming musician*

                    4. *shudders* I’ve been trying to forget the horrible vaguely Nightcrawler-ish version they used for the movie… it’s right up there with the guy whose power comes from a magic helmet being neutralized by a kid who undoes mutant traits.

                    5. (geek-lisp)Well, technically speaking, Cain Marko’s powers come from the magic ruby found by himself and Charles Xavier in the temple of Cyttorak, and the helmet is actually a protection against psychic / telepathic influence (/geek-lisp)

                      But the point is well taken. (Reminds me I need to read the second volume of Toaru Majutsu No Index).

                    6. Point, although I thought the Magic Thingie was part of the helmet.

                      (I didn’t remember it was a ruby, but I do remember going “Wait, Magneto got the same helmet power as the Professor’s brother?)

                      It’s not like they have to get all the details right, but for heaven’s sake don’t make a PLOT POINT out of violating a primary motivaition!
                      (Part of what bugged me about the movie Nightcrawler, besides the whole not-furry and kinda emo thing, was the horrific level of self mutilation.)

                    7. *looks around*

                      And your point is?

                      *grin*

                      You would not believe how nice it is to be having these conversations again; I miss my geek group on the ship so much that I actually miss spending months at sea without seeing the sun.

                    8. (Prairie-dogs up out of cubicle) You called?

                      Actually, I’m not much of a comics-geek. I didn’t have much opportunity to buy them when I was younger, but I’m still a geek in other ways.

                    9. While _The Avengers_ allowed for non-mutant powers, the X-Men franchise apparently didn’t. Anyone with a power was a mutant. Having to explain why Leech didn’t affect Juggy would’ve required…well, one line about “I’m not a mutant, punk”…ah well, so much for justifying the change:-P.

                    10. Or, to give the character a bit more depth, “I’m not a filthy mutie, freak” (insert justifiable-by-his-lights evil here) — and boom, you’ve got a non-Magneto villain.

                      Then again, that’s part of the “giving them more credit than they earned” thing.

                    1. Yes, cats know the way but the Boss of the place won’t let them back in. They caused plenty of trouble for HIM earlier and HE had to make a deal with the Higher Up Boss to get them out. [Very Very Big Grin]

                    2. The main problem is if I ended up there with a fairly healthy body– I’d be running the place … one of those unfortunate by products of being an eldest child *sigh

              2. Alex, you might be right in saying that “Conservatives” supported the NAZIs, but you neglected the little fact that “Conservative” in Weimar Germany meant the Bismarkian statists, not anything like what we consider “Conservative” today. Many Progressive ideas came from those “Conservative” Germans. Much to our sorrow.

              3. “the historical exhibit there is very clear about how it was conservative elements in German society that supported the Nazis rise to power”

                What an utterly unbiased source! It’s like an angel came down from Heaven with the true history inscribed on a scroll!

                One notes that it was the conservative elements in Germany society that staged that assassination attempt. The really conservative ones: the Junkers. Nearly half the officers, and nearly half the enlisted men, involved were of noble blood. And the blood shame of the Holocaust was mentioned over and over and over again.

          5. Sweden isn’t actually “socialist” as a good Marxist would define socialism. It’s a mixed economy with pretty significant market elements. It certainly wouldn’t satisfy Che.

            And I’d say that fascism is in fact less poisonous than Marxism. Fascism was tried in, roughly, four countries: Nazi Germany, Italy, Spain, and Peron’s Argentina. It was genocide bad once, pretty darn bad a second time, and a garden-variety authoritarian society twice. So you have only about a 25% chance of genocide. Marxism has resulted in million-plus deaths in the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cambodia, Vietnam. Best case is Cuba, which is worse than Peron’s Argentina or Franco’s Spain.

            Given a choice between the two, I’d vote for fascism any day. Of course, I’d rather have liberal democracy with a free market economy, but the leftists pretty much want to make that impossible.

            1. Zippy, if you think that Peronists are in any way good people, remember that they are still digging bodies up from the Dirty War, and a lot more will never be found because the South Atlantic doesn’t give bodies back.

                1. Yep, as he said, best case of Communism is Cuba, and there are a lot of places I would rather live than Cuba, and a lot of those are pretty dang bad.

          6. And given the number of people who have died due to corporate efforts, shall we also hound out anyone wearing a corporate logo?

            Um, what? Are you living in a parallel universe in which corporations command armies and dispatch death squads?

            … never in this country have neo-Nazi activities (or proto-fascist, or, indeed, fascist) ones been criminalized *of themselves* — while Communist activities were.

            Your statement is trivially proven false. Being a supporter of any of the Axis Powers was illegal during World War Two; you’d have to go back to World War One (and the period immediately thereafter) to find an era where Communism was actually illegal in America, even by selective enforcement (what was illegal was “sedition”). I suggest you research the original purpose of the House Un-American Activities Committee, and also the nature of the crime of “perjury.”

          7. “I will point out that never in this country have neo-Nazi activities (or proto-fascist, or, indeed, fascist) ones been criminalized *of themselves* — while Communist activities were.”

            Nonsense.

            Fritz Kuhn, the leader of the German-American Bund (a Nazi sympathizing organization), had his citizenship canceled and was then interned as an enemy alien.

            Numerous fascists and Nazis were prosecuted under the same Smith Act that was later used against Communists, in fact they were the earliest groups against which it was applied.

            Note that Smith Act did not criminalize belonging to any of those groups; it prohibited advocating the overthrow of the U. S. government. The political point of view didn’t enter into it. At all.

            It’s never been illegal to be a Communist per se in the United States. Whoever told you that lied to you.

            Sorry.

            1. And a good few German Nazi sympathizers were also interned. Even a German-speaker or two who forgot themselves and spoke German in public. They went to the internment camp in Chrystal City, Texas – according to local lore in Fredericksburg, Texas. One of them was a German-speaking Swiss citizen, who took a call to a congregation in Fredericksburg, but kept forgetting that he had to speak English in public. Apparently, he didn’t mind internment too much – he had a full house on Sundays.
              Another local internee (again, according to local lore) was a thorough-going Nazi sympathizer, who horrified most of the local German-Americans whom he tried to recruit for a spy ring. They were at least three or four generations removed from Germany by that time. He wound up in Chrystal City also.

          1. We’re not animals in their eyes. We’re chess pieces to be moved about the board as their hands move us.

            This is why it so annoys them when we scurry to different squares on our own.

              1. Oh, it’s not that we dare that’s the problem. It’s that we move of our own free will. Fundamentally their sentiments are identical to that of an artist whose figures moved around in the picture while he was painting: people are supposed to react to their stimulus only as intended. Witness the way you can point out, over and over and over again, that you can’t increase “taxes” — you can only increase tax rates and the impact of that on tax revenues is unpredictable — it never sinks in

          1. “They’ll get it right next time, they just need to have the Right People in charge.” yeah they always say that. Sigh…teh stoopid et berrnnnnzzzz. and horse will dance, pigs will fly, the check is in the mail, unicorns that shit gold bricks and puke macbooks will fill the rainbow filled skies, I promise I won’t………nah never mind not gonna mention that last one, History is full of proof that they are stupid and it won’t work.

      2. I’ve noted elsewhere that Marxists make me feel way more unsafe than fat jokes (and I’m a guy who’s been sitting behind a desk for the last several years).

        QFT.

    3. I’ve come to pretty much the same conclusion – I’m no longer interested in talking to and listening to people who – if you take them at their own word, would prefer to see us under the rule of autocrats and bureaucrats … or particularly autocratic bureaucrats. Or raving loonies like the Salon writer who was all b*tthurt about Caucasian belly-dancers appropriating Middle-eastern culture. (I will point and laugh at the loonies, however.)

      1. I read about that.

        Reminds me of a former co-worker of mine, a very nice black lady (can I say lady? Or should I used penis-impaired? I get confused). We had a going away party for one of our crew, and she came down to our warehouse to celebrate. As was normal, we had pizza for the party. She politely refused. I asked her why? Was she on a diet or something? (she didn’t really need a diet, hence me asking)

        Her response was, “I’m done using anything with European roots.”

        My response: “You mean, like, English?”

        1. English was invented in Africa millennia ago, along with pyramids, mathematics, the telephone, and modern art. Get with it, you reactionary!

          1. They did find those wires in North African archaeological digs, indicating that the ancient Egyptians had a telephone system. No such wires were ever found in Israel—my ancestors had cell phones.

            (Yes, I know; this joke is older than I am. So what?)

                    1. Comedy option: he hunted and ate smurfs. And good for him.
                      (by the way, what were smurfs called before they became international? I swear it was something with a Umlaut or something)

        2. I believe the phrase you’re looking for is “cis-gendered female of African descent currently residing within the United States.” I’d hate for you to be accused of lack of sensitivity after all. /sarc

          1. Thanks for the clarification. I can’t fine my English to PC dictionary…

            …or is the first syllable of the name for a book containing definitions offensive?

        3. And the kind of pizza you were probably having was invented in the US (said my friend from Italy, years ago. I wouldn’t know, otherwise.)

            1. A mind that doesn’t think through forswearing things like antibiotics and anaesthesia and aluminum and electronics and elevators should perhaps be enclosed in scare quotes. (Not to mention, I will optimistically speculate based on my near-complete ignorance of the history of plumbing technology, at least one innovation which contributes significantly to making flush toilets practical.)

      2. Glad I had just put my coffee down when I read that. And maybe all those Middle-easterners and Africans should quit wearing pants, That’s my culture and I’m tired of them appropriating it.

          1. Sorry to drop an inconvenient fact in here, but trousers of all varieties were invented by Central Asians who developed them for horseback riding. They spread from the steppe country to other lands, including the Mideast and India. In the case of India, they spread on the legs of the (literal) Aryans — the Indo-European invaders. In the case of the Mideast, they came in on the legs of the Turks. In the case of Europe, on the legs of the Celtic, Germanic and epsecially Hunnish barbarians.

    4. “The other side makes incredible claims, stating that they don’t feel “safe” because a certain comedian is going to host the show.”

      How would you feel at a con hosted by a radical Muslim who openly disparaged Westerns or perhaps one of the sorts of reactionary Japanese nationalists who talks about how residents of the US are weak & vile?

      Would you be perfectly sanguine about such a choice or would you speak out? I see the situation with Ross being pretty darn similar, his career is pretty much based on constant misogyny and occasional homophobia.

      Also, do you really want a host who is likely to be up on stage talking about how much he’d like to have sex with one or more female authors who were present, perhaps even as he handed them an award – he said that during an interview with Gwyneth Paltrow, and I see no reason to doubt that he wouldn’t do the same thing up on stage at Worldcon.

      1. Oh noes! A comedian has made crass jokes in the past! Quick, somebody get my fainting couch!

            1. Why settle for one? We are just making crazay wishes. Host Ron White Musical Guest Ted Nugent.

      2. Meanwhile – isn’t Lena Dunham supposed to be the current media darling of all that female empowered diversity packed R18 insulating value nonsense? – Lena Dunham makes jokes about incest, with jokes about having an uncle interested in her. Since I’m an “uncle” myself, should I take offense and urge all to ban having her show up?

      3. Let’s see, a Radical Muslim, a Reactionary Japanese, and a rude comedian. Which of these is most unlike the other two?

        Oh, I know! It’s the comedian! Because he’s, you know, a comedian. Not feeling safe around a Radical Muslim would be, I don’t know, a reasonable reaction. Really, though, the Reactionary Japanese could possibly be expected to NOT attack his audience, unless he were actually trying to do comedy, and then it might turn out to be ok.

        I certainly wouldn’t write about how I wasn’t going to go to the con after all, because I was afraid that someone would say bad words about me. The horrors! Rude jokes! (shudder) Now, with the Radical Muslim, I might be afraid he might throw some bad explosives around, which is another matter entirely.

        Sheesh. Apples and Oranges, much?

        1. Let’s see, a Radical Muslim, a Reactionary Japanese, and a rude comedian … walk into a bar…

          1. A Radical Muslim, a Reactionary Japanese, and a rude comedian walk into a bar. The bartender looks up and says,

            “Is this some kind of joke?”

          2. And then they get up, avoiding the lab-grown bar of virtually transparent diamond-covered graphene, and curse the madman who though it would be funny to place it across a busy sidewalk at chest height.

        2. Isn’t it interesting, Leftists can say all kinds of horrible things, like proposing sending conservatives to concentration camps, or suggesting they can get a bunch of Brothers in NYC to rape Sarah Palin if she comes to the city (How many pages in the book of Liberal Wrong are in THAT one?) and then when people are justifiably upset, or call them on their hypocrisy, the left trots out the excuse “It’s just a joke, She’s a Comedian. You guys have no sense of humor.”

            1. Chuckle Chuckle

              A few years ago, a Barfly made a somewhat malicious joke and was very very upset when I gave him the traditional response (ie don’t give up your day job) to unfunny jokes.

              It was fun watching the other Barflies telling him that my response was in no way hateful toward him.

              The individual (who shall be nameless here) got himself kicked off the Bar several times. Like many of his breed, he made jokes about others but hated jokes about himself or others like himself.

      4. I wouldn’t feel “unsafe.” There’s a difference between OFFENDED and THREATENED.
        And what on Earth are you talking about, btw? I’ve sat in a banquet hall with my colleagues and heard my political beliefs, my thoughts, my mode of life disparaged from the podium. You know what? It’s rare when that doesn’t happen. So I did what grown ups do. I only attended those I needed to attend professionally.
        You’re very cute, when you think these experiences are new or strange for people on the right.

        1. Yeah, but there are very different rules for us and for people like them. Anything is fair game for them, but we have to play with both hands and one leg tied behind our backs.

          We’re supposed to suck it up when they dish it, but we’re being ridiculous if we hold them to their own standards.

          Funny how that works, isn’t it?

      5. Nice failure of reading comprehension.

        A Muslim who disliked Westerners or a Japanese nationalist might well be objectionable. Guess what though? I wouldn’t feel unsafe unless they also stated a desire to kill or hurt Americans.

        Ross? He might make a crass joke. OH NO!!!!!!! We can’t have that!

        It’s impossible to take people seriously when they feel unsafe because someone might say rude things. Grow the hell up.

        1. One of the commenters here, whom I gather was raised on the left, says that fourth generation leftists have been so protected and coddled they are all about “building consensus” and any opposition shocks them like a slap. I think that’s what we’re seeing.
          Well, they’re going to have to grow a pair. Because now the traditional publishing muzzle is off most writers, they’re going to get talk back.

          1. Yep. Time to put their big girl/big boy/big whatever pants on and deal with it. Opposition is part of life.

            If they want to build a consensus, they have to understand that part of that is dealing with people who don’t agree with you, at least at the start. You have to convince them you’re right, and whining because a comedian might make a joke you don’t like and telling me all the ways I’m being horrible while not even trying to listen to me won’t exactly convince me I’m wrong.

            Of course, part of really building a consensus is to listen to the other guy because he might have some pretty good ideas too. You know the left just can’t have that these days.

              1. Marx: A man who had grand ideas that have been attempted multiple times, and failed spectacularly each time…yet still get attention from the ignorant.

                Meanwhile, the policies that created this nation and, in time, lead to our greatness are “outdated” and just don’t work. Wha?

                1. And who falsified his data. Much of his data about the horrors of industrialization was based on a report to Parliament, years earlier, that inspired the Factory Acts.

                  He managed to omit every bit of that info.

                  1. Well…you can’t let the facts get in the way of a good argument.

                    Something his modern adherents are extremely good at doing.

                2. indeed.
                  You know why? Because Marxists are better at propaganda. THEY HAVE TO BE. If they said what they mean, the peasants would get torches and pitchforks.
                  Note the assumption about “conservative” because “Sides with upper classes” when upper classes throughout the world have favored state control in the socialist (Yes, let’s talk FDR, why don’t we?) to communist mode for almost a full century. BUT the communists/socialists say they’re for the downtrodden, so people believe it. There will be post… Probably called “And It Speaks Like A Dragon” because I read Heinlein (and the Bible, but Heinlein too.)

                  1. Shhhhh…..didn’t you hear? We’re not supposed to admit to reading Heinlein anymore.

                    I mean, just one of the most influential science fiction authors in history should totally not be read by science fiction authors or anything.

                    As for the rest of what you said, you’re right. They also miss that capitalism has been the best system for raising the standard of living in the history of man…but if you’re a capitalist, you somehow can’t be for the little guy :/

                    1. We’re not supposed to read the Bible either, because if we don’t read it we can claim that communism was started by Christianity (but Christianity is bad and communism is good, that always confuses me).

                      We’re obviously not supposed to read Heinlein because he started out as a socialist and then instead of drifting left into communism he became a heretic and drifted, well maybe not right, but sideways or something, into libertarianism.

                    2. Heinlein’s shift is part of the reason I have such a fondness for him. I made that exact same shift myself.

                      And I could smack my head about not reading the Bible. How could I forget that!!!! 😀

                    3. I made a prettydamncloseshift. I was raised in Europe. you’re raised to BE socialist. I was always strongly anti-communist, but I didn’t see that socialism was just the high road to the same place (even though they told me.) In fact, I’m very glad my early work didn’t get published. It was all about evil corporations polluting and what have you, because they were evil. It wasn’t till I was 31 that I started examining the contradictions in what I took for granted. And then the whole thing cracked like an egg.

                    4. I’m right there with ya, though I was about 35 or so when I made my shift.

                      And I wasn’t exactly raised to be a leftist. I had a lefty mother, but a conservative father, so I had my pick. I chalk mine up to youthful stupidity 😀

      6. The proper response would have been to discuss it amongst yourselves, then contact the concom and express concerns–are we sure this person will behave in a fashion appropriate to the event?

        Rather than engaging in a FATwa against the invitee.

        I wonder if anyone else remembers Spider Robinson at MagiCon, making jokes about the bathroom sink being the perfect height for a urinal for tall men, and using less water to flush.

        And the MagiConDoms they handed out to everyone.

        Nor would any such comments threaten your safety, only your precious little feelings.

        Grow up.

  4. You almost wonder if a shadow fandom is developing, one for people who might go to an official con to hear certain speakers or attend particular panels, but then sidle off to have their own separate social functions and semi-con. Sort of like the HunCon mentioned on a previous thread: “OK, after the MHI get-together and the panel on ‘starship design for small colonies’ let’s all meet at [cafe]. You know the sign, countersign is ‘Noah’s Boy hold the mustard.”

      1. Bearcat, that’s the correct sign. The counter sign is what I gave, since everyone already knows the sign. Oh, and if anyone asks, the word is bird.
        (Yes, my brain cells are shorting out from trying to write siege warfare, why?)

                1. could we compromise on, “Holy Zarquon’s singing fish”?
                  (I enjoy getting clocked with a carp, but there are times when you feel like you are hanging from a miles-high statue of Arthur Dent Throwing Away the Nutrimatic Drinks Dispenser Cup…..)

              1. L. Sprague DeCamp started it in the Harold Shea books. It’s been bounced around a bunch of times in various series and places, and was (is?) something of a fannish trope.

                Who or what Yngvi is (other than a louse!) is yet to be determined, something like Schrodinger’s cat. In the original tale, a prisoner comes to the bars of his cell, every hour on the hour, to announce that Yngvi, that dastardly soul, is a louse. From there, I’ve seen Yngvi in graffiti, heard it in geekish gatherings of like minded ne’er-do-wells, and discovered it in the strangest of places…

                1. It’s never said in the book, but in my own studies* I’ve come across Yng or Yngvi as a kenning of Freyr. It would surprise me if Pratt or deCamp (if not both) did not know that.

                  *Brought to you by your local Asatru leaning agnostic. Asatru, the pagan religion with homework. 😉

                    1. As it happens I have plans to work with the Norse mythos. Originally planned as contemporary fantasy but with the worldbuilding I’ve been tinkering with it might actually work as science fiction.

                    2. Sarah– Bujold’s five god world especially “The Paladin of Souls” hit me pretty hard– (Curse of Chalion was great too– and brought the idea that the gods help crack the soul so that the person can be a conduit)– I won’t get into experiences here where I have been cracked (might be why I am a mad poet). But, if I see the experience you explain, it will be sound and music. My gateway to the other place is through sound.

                    1. No, neo-paganism you just make it up as you go along. Come to think of it the “greens” do the same with their religion.

                      Which is why I specified the pagan religion with homework. (Although, to be fair, I think there are neo-classical pagans that also are of the “have homework” variety.)

                    2. Religious homework and (labelled variations): TOO MANY VARIATIONS!

                      And, darn it all to heck with or without the hand-basket, I gotta try and keep track of them if I am properly fulfilling MY religious / faith-based vows.

                      the DreamSinger Bard

                    3. BUT when I get ecstatic moments when I KNOW He’s with me, it always comes without words or thought or… anything.
                      It just is, incontrovertible, perfect and perfectly terrifying.
                      I once read an SF story that thought “religious/spiritual ecstasy” was women bringing themselves to orgasm and not knowing what it was. I wanted to b*tch slap the writer for writing about things she (of course) obviously knew nothing about. It’s not at all physical (at least for me) except for making me cry, sometimes for days and no, not out of grief or anything, it just does. Comparing it to an orgasm is like comparing writing a symphony to a sneeze.
                      And yes, I know the atheists are reading this and wondering if I’m insane. Chill. It only happened three times in my whole life and you can explain it however you like. I was just saying there is religion beyond homework.

                    4. Even for neo-paganism you have to do enough research to steal cool names and stuff to plaster over the way you have pushed the liberal Christianity just a little farther away.

                      One notices, for instance, that no neo-pagan has resurrected animal sacrifices, works to determine which god he has offended when troubles hit, or regards propitiating the gods, either on a schedule or for particular offense, as vital. The Romans would have had them in the arena as atheists.

        1. Emily – which was based on ShevaCon, prior to certain members of the ConCom deciding they didn’t like those evil conservative Baen folk around and kicked one Barfly off the ConCom, prompting the other to quit. Convention attendance promptly tanked, a number of NON-Baen authors stopped attending, and they’ve since tried to beg for the Barflies to return. StellarCon would also feature a range trip by Barflies, but has died due to university policies around the science fiction club that sponsored it. So LibertyCon is currently the only convention I attend featuring a range trip (actually happens prior to the convention opening, I’ve been asked to make sure we finish up in sufficient time that all guests can make opening ceremonies).

          1. And SheVaCon arose because the RoVaCon concom couldn’t get along anymore. And I’ll lay odds I know who was mixed up in both of those events…

            1. Come to MystiCon…we have cake!! 😉 & with proper motivation, someone might work up a range trip…(but not me–i’d rather run the NERF duels). ((ooohhh!! must talk to someone at LibertyCon about NERF duels at noon….)) 😉

              1. I read that as “a rage trip” and was about to say no thank you.
                Um… will there be nerf SWORD duels? I have stairs championship in the house, with fewer pictures broken.
                Guns I use in a guerrilla type of of way, popping up at door of hard-studying son and shooting him full of nerf disks!

              2. One VFX studio I worked at sent out a bulk email one evening requesting no nerf weapon fights the next day because clients were going to be in the building.

      1. Aside from Penguicon’s Geeks with Guns event, I’m not aware of any that aren’t semi-official barfly cons.

    1. I planted a seed, the Oyster is gonna make it a pearl, the Hat is dropping hints…

      Drs. Chase and Budge, your presence is requested on the physics panel…

      Hun-Con.

        1. I could probably do something like “History Research: Get Thrown Out of All the Best Archives” or “How to Spot Hurl-able History.”

          1. If I were less dignified I’d bounce up and down in my seat.

            As it is I’ll just grin quietly.

          2. I’d sit in for that. I’ve not got thrown out of anyplace in, oh, weeks. *grin*

            For the latter, I’ve still got a list somewhere of a certain classicist’s, wherein source material was decidedly on the light side and made-up-chit was rather overflowing…

            1. How about a panel with David Drake discussing how the classics can be applied to SF. I’d love to have VDH but he’s not really SF and I think that he would as much as the rest of the con combined.

              1. Ah, but this is where your true SMOF comes in handy — you make guests want to come do panels for free, or for a comped membership. (Of course, VDH has a farm to pay for, so he’s probably not quite so gullib… volunteerish.)

        1. Anybody seen the clam? Mr. terribly innocent Oyster — please note the perky doctor. You know, in case you aren’t somewhere not doing something nobody sees and you don’t need a perky doctor for a panel you’re not organizing…

                    1. Encouraging me to follow my inclinations…

                      Makes you an influence. Time will tell what nature of influence.

        1. Larry’s supposed to be moderating the debate panel with MadMike. (Because moderate and those guys…fills me with glee!)

          Somebody’s writing your name down for the firearms panel. Yep. I feel sure…

        2. Maybe we can get Col. Kratman to come. For filk guests I nominate Leslie Fish and Joe Betancourt.

      1. oh, twist my arm… I am a very well-behaved science panelist and nearly everyone on my panels survives. (Best one yet: “Lab Accidents I Have Known (and totally didn’t cause)”) Maybe for HunCon we can do Lab Reinactments? If we can get the liability insurance…anybody know any firemen?

        Um, do panelists get an ammo allowance?

        1. It’s Hun-Con, panelists get ammo cans and their own section reserved
          at the range.

          The science panelists get lead shielding, as necessary.

                1. Proper planning also prevents pesteriferous pr*cks pontificating (when diverting those nosy superiors enamored of their own voices).

        2. Panelists get an allotment of caps and detcord, if they wish to use over their allotment they must provide it themselves.

          I will volunteer to be Kirk’s assistant at the Improvised Explosives panel.

          1. Let us not forget our shocktube, without which we will be giving high twos as multiple digits will depart our vicinity!

  5. Please don’t tell me that this cool thing I’ve just discovered is about to self destruct. My fans seem to be really good people, ex-military or simply lovers of the kind of scifi that Heinlein wrote, carried forward by writers such as Weber and Ringo. They are respectful and supportive, willing to compliment what they like and to offer an opinion on what they don’t. But I have noted how nasty people can get on the internet if you disagree with their opinion on anything. Part of this is the ‘if you’re not with me, you’re against me’ culture, where they’d rather die than compromise. In my opinion, the people who actually read science fiction are, on the whole, more well mannered than those whose only connect is through television and movies. Unfortunately, some of these media only people are also now self-published scifi writers, and it is telling in there lack of imagination.

    1. Nah, fans will just find alternative routes. Like this blog. I used to go to cons many years ago. Now I hang out here. If you are a welcoming presence on the net, happy readers will find you.

      1. there will be meet ups in person. Did you know that first HonorCon was last fall? We should aim for a HunCon in 2015. Personally I think it should be held in TX.

            1. Apollocon can piss off and Die, there is one I wouldn’t mind going to and that’s Space City Con. Gotten big enough they moved it down to moody gardens in Galveston.

              1. I managed to make ConDFW (really need to post the con report), but everything else is extremely iffy. Even Robert E. Howard Days in Cross Plains is questionable. I haven’t made Armadillocon since I moved to the western part of the state and missed Fencon last year because of Worldcon. And the ones in Houston are too out of the way.

                Bubonicon is the closest con, but the timing is always bad. I’m hoping to go to the Williamson lectureship since it’s only a couple of hours away and the time zone difference works in my favor for going.

                I’m not holding my breath on any of it, though.

              2. I would love to go to Liberty Con– but after last year (infection after infection) I don’t think it would be feasible or even good for me to go to any con.

              1. I’m near Amarillo. There’s a comic-based con staggering to life here, but I’m not sure it is much more than anime at this stage. The Steampunk folks have their own parties.

        1. I think we should aim for HunCon 206x to be held on Sarah’s hundredth birthday. On the MOON.

            1. That might be a bit of a tight schedule for terraforming, but get me a billion dollars as seed money for R&D, and I think I can make the rest of the cash I would need in 10 years or so.

              I know I can build giant fusion reactors (it’s anything smaller than about 10TW that is difficult). With a fleet of 10,000 or so fusion-powered ships at that power, we can probably bring a moon of Jupiter into orbit around Mars, then mine it and add the mass to the Planet, providing water and a higher gravity, as well as covering up the toxic soil.

              1. Part of the problem is the size. Mars is too low in mass to sustain tectonic activity, and thus has no mechanism for an Earth-like carbon cycle. Or so I was told (if I understood correctly) by the panel of geologists and astrophysicists at LTUE last month.

                1. Well, that and the whole “Who took my magnetic field?” thing letting through all those charged particles.

                  If one were to whack Mars with enough comets to gin up the atmospheric pressure, that would last a good long time before the solar wind blew it away, but the surface radiation count would still be pretty nasty with no magnetic field to shield things.

                2. Think big. With enough electrical power, you can bloody *make* massive magnetic fields.

                  The logistics and engineering fiddly bits would be beyond huge, and it would take maths I’m not smart enough to even comprehend, but rather than one planetary class magnetic field, a bunch of smaller ones. Bunch of really big magnets in orbit? On the surface? I dunno. Given enough metallic hydrogen and a really good containment system, possibilities exist…

                  Of course, that’s just fifteen minutes thought. A billion dollars? Piffle. Push around enough small planetary objects and giving Mars a magnetosphere becomes secondary- imagine safe habitats in the asteroid belt, orbiting Venus and Saturn, anybloody place in the solar system. Pop one up out of the plane with a really big solar sail for propulsion/station keeping and do science. Grow things in orbital farms. Create the system’s largest electric generator in Jovian orbit.

                  Planets are cool, don’t get me wrong. But that just doesn’t satisfy. I want space, and the stars.

            2. Well, we could hurry up the terraforming with this here Genesis Device. We’ve had some problems with it, but we’re confident that adding a bit of protomatter will fix everything.

    2. The vituperation you’re finding during ‘discussions’ on the Internet is likely the result of anonymity, which provides a safe barrier between you and your detractor. Naturally you can’t argue with them; their belief system is simply learned without reason or thought. Trying to introduce a well-reasoned belief that doesn’t coincide with whatever they think they believe will fail, first because it doesn’t support their own beliefs, secondly because it’s a reasoned belief – the reasoning portion, you see, is not understood.

                1. Nah, they are speaking the powers ‘truth’ back to them, but no matter how much they want to claim so, brownnosing those in power doesn’t take a lot of courage.

          1. Most of them are upper middle class females raised in the conjoined beliefs that go as follows: “You’re a girrrrrl and invincible.” “You’re a victim because patriarchy is everywhere and ANY man can hold you down.”
            The question is not WHY they’re crazy. The amazing thing is some of them can manage basic hygiene and body functions.

                1. I thought he was objecting to them being able to manage basic hygiene and body functions.

                  1. I’m not sure about basic hygiene, but there is piles of evidence wherever they go proving that some can manage basic bodily functions.

          1. Shame is a tool of the double-plus ungood patriarchy. So naturally it is to be suppressed in the self, and may be used as a weapon against those who engage in thoughtcrime.

          2. Who would teach them shame? Not their parents, nor their teachers. That would get in the way of the self-esteem lessons.

          3. Attempts to shame them merely end up creating yet another public event where they all call themselves the epithet used to shame them. i.e. Slutwalks, etc…

              1. I’m half naked (or more) and what clothing there may be is very provocative, and in a public place, but don’t look at me if you are a man, that would be exploiting me? (But I suspect very hot guys would be excused)

                1. And by the way, has anybody raised question of the rights of lesbians when it comes to those chainmail bikini babes on covers? Women who like women might like them, after all.

                    1. Ah, but what if you were defending their rights to enjoy art depicting hot women, scantily dressed? The lesbian I know best is a big fan of Xena and her outfit. She would probably feel deprived if such views disappeared from popular culture. 😀

                    2. And yes, if such art is mainly aimed at the lesbians, but occasionally some men accidentally happen to see it… well, you could not really avoid that, not completely, now could you?

              2. The opposition to “slut shaming” is especially hilarious because what they are basically demanding is that others not talk about sex if this talk is concerned with the concept of a sexual reputation. The problem is that, since humans choose mates based in part upon their analysis of the personalities of those mates, and mate-choosing is very important to humans (since we’re for the most part serial monogamists) this is basically an attempt to close off a communication channel on a matter of vital interest to many humans. That sort of ban never works.

          1. Bi-gender = men and women. Post-bi-gender = gender diversity. Somebody on the Tor blog wanted to get rid of the default setting with genders (men and women) in stories, and for writers to start writing characters with more gender diversity. It rather sounded as if she wanted all stories henceforth to be ones where the characters were, well, LTGB.

        1. I really like the bat shit insane, southern drawl cutie I ran across via facebook in the last couple days. She wants to reduce the population and reboot humanity basically. Reducing the male population to anywhere between 1-10% of what it is now, and putting women in charge. Sigh.*headdesk, headdesk, headdesk!* “and THAT’s when I shot her your honor…self defense ya see.”

            1. You might A Brother’s Price by Wen Spencer interesting. Some factor in that has reduced boys to between 1-10% of the population. Boys are cherished and protected and sheltered like nobody’s business.

              1. And the men’s wives are normally sisters (of each other not the man’s). I enjoyed it but I’ll admit that I wanted to see the male character “hall off” and hit the bad “gals” at one point.

                For those who haven’t read it, this book is Wen Spencer’s take on the silly idea that if women ruled, the world would be much better.

                The world of _A Brother’s Price_ is different but not better. [Smile]

                1. Well, “sisters.” Most of them would be half sisters, because they are the offspring of the last generation of “sisters” who all had the same husband. It is possible for sisters to be first cousins, actually, if the sisters are widowed.

              2. Haven’t read that, although I liked her Tinker stories. Throughout history, whenever women have outnumbered men, which has been fairly common in history, due to higher mortality in males, polygamy has resulted, with the man being in charge. Heinlein turned this on its head with The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where women were the rarity, and again he had it produce polygamy, although this time with the women defacto in charge. Not sure it would work out the way he invisioned it, the times when women have been a rarity in history are frontier areas, on the American frontier women were valued and protected, no polygamy resulted, but women did have more defacto power than they did in civilized areas of that time frame. (we’ll leave out the limited prostitution, which has been present in all societies from time immemorable) In other frontiers the women have become community property that was passed around, but they had NO power, because they couldn’t physically deny the men. But these are frontiers, their attitudes originate from the attitudes of the societies that settle them, and usually the situation is changing on the frontier at the same time the attitudes are changing, so there is a degree of change but not a metamorphis. I will note that at NO time in history have women been a majority AND in charge. It is a simple supply and demand equation.

            2. A surprising amount of those obsessed with “sexual politics” miss the basic point that whichever sex was rarer would be the ones de facto in charge, regardless of whatever the law claimed. But then, understanding why would require grasping basic economics, which they also can’t.

                  1. There’s also the issue that women spend nine months pregnant, and no matter how many other wives your husband has, you know that your baby is your own. Both of which can complicate life.

                1. Those are slight female deficits and ones in which they could find more females from abroad. If there were, say, 1 woman to every 10 men, that woman would get to marry the highest-status male around, and she would rule him, because if he didn’t cater to his every whim, she could easily find another husband.

          1. Yeah, they’re totally going to convince Muslim and oh, Chinese men of that. TOTALLY.
            And if they did, after the massive fight between all the women and the genocide (women don’t fight to win. They fight to eviscerate) civilization would start again at the neolithic level with strong injunctions never to let a woman be in charge of anything, including her own toe nails.

            1. [W]omen don’t fight to win. They fight to eviscerate[.]

              This is the sole reason I have any issue with women in combat. Men fight to win, and then call it done. After all, two guys get into a fight, when the fight is over, it’s usually just over. They go about their merry ways, provided they don’t go and get a drink together to call it done.

              When women have a beef, it gets ugly. Very ugly.

              My concern would be an increase in atrocities if women were in combat roles. Rather than taking prisoners after a tough, eight hour battle, they would slaughter them all.

              This is, of course, based on my experiences and observations of women in various types of conflict. I’d love to be wrong.

              1. I think that this is one reason why women are usually barred from combat. Since we haven’t quoted Kipling in a while, The female is deadlier than the male.

                1. When you’re lying on Afghan’s plains
                  and the women come out to cut up the remains
                  Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
                  🙂

              2. I have found a way to confound that female impulse– women won’t be vicious if we don’t feel threatened.

                I think this is part of why ladies try to avoid serious conflict so much– it’s like guys avoiding being physical unless they’re serious. Protecting others rather than defending yourself is another way to shift, although it’s iffy.

                Yes, I only figured out the “feeling threatened” part after trying to figure out why some female friends randomly went utterly ape-bleep.

                  1. Captain Obvious comment, since I momentarily forgot this is the internet:
                    getting shot at is going to trip all of those “nuke it from orbit” circuits and, you’re right, get atrocities coming out of our ears.

                    1. I would imagine.

                      FWIW, I certainly think women are perfectly capable of fighting a war. I just wouldn’t want to be on the other side.

                    2. I’m not sure I’d want to be on our side with women in direct combat….
                      (I was in the Navy for two contracts, and am a female. That’s why I’d worry!)

                    3. As a Navy man myself, I can see where you’re coming from. Of course, I was a corpsman, so we tended to get the more nurturing type of woman.

                    4. I just wouldn’t want to be on the other side.

                      I, on the other hand, have no problem at all with the other side being on the other side.

                      But then, I always was a vicious bastard.

                    5. Why not?

                      On Wed, Mar 12, 2014 at 5:22 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

                      > SPQR commented: “Don’t make me quote Kipling…” >

                    6. In fact, I think it has been too long since our last posting of this:

                      As I pass through my incarnations in every age and race,
                      I make my proper prostrations to the Gods of the Market-Place.
                      Peering through reverent fingers I watch them flourish and fall,
                      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings, I notice, outlast them all.

                      We were living in trees when they met us. They showed us each in turn
                      That Water would certainly wet us, as Fire would certainly burn:
                      But we found them lacking in Uplift, Vision and Breadth of Mind,
                      So we left them to teach the Gorillas while we followed the March of Mankind.

                      We moved as the Spirit listed. They never altered their pace,
                      Being neither cloud nor wind-borne like the Gods of the Market-Place.
                      But they always caught up with our progress, and presently word would come
                      That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield, or the lights had gone out in Rome.

                      With the Hopes that our World is built on they were utterly out of touch
                      They denied that the Moon was Stilton; they denied she was even Dutch
                      They denied that Wishes were Horses; they denied that a Pig had Wings.
                      So we worshipped the Gods of the Market Who promised these beautiful things.

                      When the Cambrian measures were forming, They promised perpetual peace.
                      They swore, if we gave them our weapons, that the wars of the tribes would cease.
                      But when we disarmed They sold us and delivered us bound to our foe,
                      And the Gods of the Copybook Heading said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

                      On the first Feminian Sandstones we were promised the Fuller Life
                      (Which started by loving our neighbour and ended by loving his wife)
                      Till our women had no more children and the men lost reason and faith,
                      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “The Wages of Sin is Death.”

                      In the Carboniferous Epoch we were promised abundance for all,
                      By robbing selected Peter to pay for collective Paul;
                      But, though we had plenty of money, there was nothing our money could buy,
                      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “If you don’t work you die.”

                      Then the Gods of the Market tumbled, and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew,
                      And the hearts of the meanest were humbled and began to believe it was true
                      That All is not Gold that Glitters, and Two and Two make Four —
                      And the Gods of the Copybook Headings limped up to explain it once more.

                      * * * * *

                      As it will be in the future, it was at the birth of Man —
                      There are only four things certain since Social Progress began —
                      That the Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire,
                      And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire —
                      And that after this is accomplished, and the brave new world begins
                      When all men are paid for existing and no man must pay for his sins
                      As surely as Water will wet us, as surely as Fire will burn
                      The Gods of the Copybook Headings with terror and slaughter return!

            2. I completely believe that. 🙂 My wife is a filipina with a strong spanish heritage. I brag that she is the only person I know who I would trust to help kill zombies with me.

      1. Not just anonymity, but also distance. As Robert E Howard observed, barbarians are actually more civil than civilized men because they know the wrong words can lead to getting their skulls split. Just as people, at least those with any brains, were careful about what they said about others they didn’t want to get into a fight with at the bar. Now, someone I will never see can say anything they want with no fear of retaliation. Not that I’m that kind of person, but if I were, I wouldn’t take the time and effort to find someone across the country to go after. Recently a young man in Russia threatened me on a youtube post about concealed carry, saying he would stuff my gun up my ass before I could do anything because he knew self defense techniques. A safe thing to say, since nothing I own has the range to reach across thousands of miles

        1. Recently a young man in Russia threatened me on a youtube post about concealed carry, saying he would stuff my gun up my ass before I could do anything because he knew self defense techniques. A safe thing to say, since nothing I own has the range to reach across thousands of miles.

          Uh-huh. Does he not grasp the meaning of “concealed?” As in, he wouldn’t know who was concealed-carrying, hence his plan would only work against those who told him in advance they had guns.

          For that matter, has he ever been in a fight? It’s not that easy to put someone reliably and quickly down for the count, even if one knows “self defense techniques.” And if one attacks someone who has a gun on them, failing to put someone down reliably and quickly is a good way to get shot.

          I assume that this guy is full of it, because if he weren’t he would be posting from a hospital, prison or insane asylum.

          1. How do you know that he isn’t posting from such a place?

            It could be that he’s acting big on the internet because someone in his personal life is squashing him.

          2. “For that matter, has he ever been in a fight? It’s not that easy to put someone reliably and quickly down for the count, even if one knows “self defense techniques.” And if one attacks someone who has a gun on them, failing to put someone down reliably and quickly is a good way to get shot.”

            Let’s ask Trayvon of the Blessed Hoodie about that….. took his “victim” by surprise, knocked him down, and is on top of him beating his head against the concrete….. those “techniques” didn’t stop him from acquiring terminal lead poisoning.

            1. Let’s ask Trayvon of the Blessed Hoodie about that…..

              Very good example! Because someone under one’s serious physical attack is very likely to be having an adrenaline surge, meaning that unless one inflicts at least severe stunning damage on him very rapidly, he may be able to have time to get a gun out even if you have hurt him. Though, mind you, drawing this lesson from that event would require the Leftist in question to be honest about what actually happened.

            2. There is also that viral video of a police officer being pummelled in the same way by a firefighter. The police officer was in the same spot and did the same thing, result ->dead fire fighter.
              But there is no such thing as a sure thing. Everyone has that bad day

        2. That’s a nice point. I hadn’t thought about distance, but you’re quite right. Although…
          Back in the bad old days I was fortunate to work directly for a self-made millionaire, an entrepreneur. Bluntly, the man could fight, and by that I mean physically fight. In his industry he was legendary, and not many people would cross him. So one night around 10:00 PM as we were closing up shop he got a call from a manager in another store, safely separated by a 3 hour drive. The conversation got heated, and Big Dick slammed the phone down and grabbed his coat. “I’m headed for Columbus.” He announced. “I’ll show that son of a bitch who’s just blowin’ smoke.”
          He was back the next morning, business as usual – but his knuckles were skinned up a little. He made a few jokes about blowin’ smoke.

        3. Recently a young man in Russia threatened me on a youtube post about concealed carry, saying he would stuff my gun up my ass before I could do anything because he knew self defense techniques.

          1) What narrow minded provincialism leads the folk making such a suggestion to believe that I don’t know “self defense techniques” too?
          2) This, of course, is why every military and police department in the world is taking the guns away from their troops and teaching them “self defense techniques.” Right?

    3. Kind sir, I haven’t come across your books, and it sounds as if I really ought. Website available? (I clicked the name and ran into the unfound page…)

          1. I’ll check that out, Sarah. Felt kind of uncomfortable posting about my books on your blog, but I was asked, so thought I would do something minimal. By the way, my website domain name has disappeared, even though the hosting company says it’s in good standing.

              1. Yes, and a beautiful thing it is, too – y’all having graciously pimped my own books, even though they are not science fiction in genre (historical and by extension ‘western’). There is one sad thing, though – I can no longer thank you or even comment at the PJM site, since due to some kink in their commenting program, I am no longer allowed to comment on PJM sites. Which is really majorly ironic, having been an original PJM site, and even on the Insty blogroll quite early on, as these things go.
                Never mind – I am upping my commentary at other sites – to include this one.

                I did take your example for Witchfinder – my own work in progress is being posted in fits and starts at my own website – here,
                http://www.celiahayes.com/lone-star-sons
                I’m hoping to make it a good and readable adventure western, targeted to the YA market, especially to tween-age boys. Any feedback and commentary will be more than welcome. Pam has already been following, but any other input from members of the Horde will be welcome.

                  1. Ugh. I’m so annoyed over that, I will likely let my so-called account close. Every spammer talking about their mother-cousin-sis-in-law earing $70 an hour from their home on the internet can post at PJM … and I am not allowed? REALLY?
                    I don’t know what is going on over there, but I am less and less inclined to be interested in being a part of it.

                    1. Thanks, sweetie – I’ve emailed a couple of times also, without result. As near as I can see, there’s a problem there. It may be costing regular readers and commenters besides myself, but I am so annoyed by it all that I likely will be just walking away entirely.

                    1. you would at least think they would dispense with the (very inane) popup ads for subscribers….

                    2. They’re using popup ads? My installation of AdBlock must be blocking them successfully, because I’ve never noticed said popup ads. Sheesh. Not going to cancel my free account, but I might indeed cancel a paid subscription over something that boneheaded.

                    3. Scriptsafe protects me from the content, but the popup itself still reveals itself. Generally my first clue is when browsing slows to a crawl, and I only have a few windows open.

                    4. My gripe is the pagination—and the fact that clicking “Single Page” is another excuse for a pop-up ad. I have a couple of RSS feeds that keep me coming back to the site a few times a day, but I rarely find it worthwhile to comment.

                  1. Thanks, Bearcat! Every link and potential fan is gratefully appreciated. My dearest daughter has promised to me that if I should ever forget to be gracious (as if I could!) that a brick wrapped in a copy of Southern Living Graciousness will so be coming my way …

        1. Many thanks, sir. Added to my to be read file!

          And thanks as well, to our gracious host! Appreciations, ma’am.

  6. I believe the problem is the “snowflakes” are the same ones who are hammering us old baby boomers for “standing in the way.” Now, what they mean is we have certain truths that we hold dear and are willing to stand up for, be it in fandom or in life as a whole. They perceive us, rightly or wrongly, as the enemy of whatever it is they stand for. Obviously, no grasp of history, for it is this very generation who they appear to despise that said “never trust anyone over 30” oh so many years ago. In many ways, they mirror ourselves except in one facet, they think they “deserve without effort”. That, I believe is the real difficulty. For some reason, rearing, rage, I don’t know what or why, they feel no need to work towards a goal, but feel they should get because they are. Sorry folks, it does not work that way, and I hope that generation figures it out, thankfully ours did. Have we become our parents? I suppose to some degree we have, I can but hope this generation will eventually do the same, and perhaps save SF and the world at the same time.

    1. Eh, there was a lot of entitlement and ego in the hippies and the antiwar movement. The sort of thing that leads to throwing rocks at armed men, while screaming “Kill!” just to make your motives clear, and then be shocked to the core of your being when they open fire.

      1. One of my professors ( a true geek and reader) was getting her BA in English during the time that you refer to marycatelli. She didn’t realize she was in danger because her nose was in a book when she walked in between students and some soldiers. She was able to get away, and was more careful when she was walking on campus.

        1. My mom did that. The National Guard told her it wasn’t a good idea to go on campus, but she had to get to her German class! My dad managed to get himself teargassed while on his way to class with similar panache.

            1. You might find The kumquat statement by John R. Coyne interesting, if you can lay your hands on it.

          1. My cousin had fits about getting teargassed when he was “just walking to a job interview”… right next to the big G8 protests in Seattle.

      2. Yeah. I still can’t get over their horror at the “Massacre at Kent State.” I remember retyping part of the organizational history of NYPIRG and laughing to myself at the part where they explained that Kent State proved that the Evil Establishment was willing to go to any lengths to suppress the Counterculture. Guys, you call them “fascists.” You should have expected to be rounded up en masse and shot, if you believed your own propaganda — not merely killed accidentally by panicked troops who were mostly firing into the air in the hopes of scaring a mob.

          1. Foxfier, there are a couple of confirmed college professors on another blog i frequent who used to make it a habit of accusing us of being “bloodthirsty reich-wingers who drool over the thought of killing liberals.”

            Until I gently pointed out that if they actually believed that, they wouldn’t have posted anything on this blog under traceable identities who could be easily tracked back and dealt with. They’re either dishonest or stupid or both.

            1. A meme going around. Picture of Spock from Original Series Trek: “Logic dictates, Captain, that if pro-gunners were as violent as anti-gunners claim they are there would soon be no anti-gunners left.”

      3. I remember Kent State pretty well. The guardsmen fired 67 shots, killing 4 and wounding 9. Now, if the NG fired 67 shots and produced 67 dead anti-war protestors who had been throwing rocks and debris at the NG, I wouldn’t have much of a problem with it. Don’t throw rocks at a man with a gun, get it? But that’s not what happened. Of the four killed, two weren’t even involved in the protest at all, and in fact were a goodly distance away. The other two were leaving, having done their bit for the day. All those people shot were students at Kent State, as opposed to imported agitators.
        I note that there was a rumor among the protestors that the NG rifles were loaded with blank rounds, something I didn’t believe even if others did. What I found incredible was that the National Guard couldn’t shoot worth a tinker’s damn.

        1. There was also a rumor that those killed weren’t killed by the National Guard, that the National Guard actually did just shoot into the air, and those killed were shot by agitators as agit-prop. Not saying I believe that, but it does make a certain kind of sense.

          If you are going to bring the military in (and the National Guard is military, not police as some idiots have tried to argue) then you should expect the area of operations to be a combat zone, where combat tactics will be deployed and casualties will result.

          1. There’s indications of that in the tapes. Another indication, which isn’t but… EVERY communist instigated demonstration that I ever heard of, where someone was killed, a pregnant woman dies. It’s too weird to be coincidence.

                1. There have been a series of photos supposedly depicting civilian deaths among the Palestinian areas that keep repeating the same incident over and over repeatedly, as evidenced by seeing the same mundane object in the photos supposedly depicting different incidents at different locations etc.

                  Similar thing has been happening from Syria. And at one time the Blog That Shall Not Be Named was actually good at spotting setup propaganda photos from Lebanon.

                  1. Much like Green Helmet Guy, or the same woman mourning in front of different bombed out houses, or those two “Keys” supposedly to a house in “Occupied Jerusalem” that are actually props owned by a terrorist groups, and yet appear in news stories periodically as if they were real keys to a real house.

                2. Roughly a decade back, someone going over photographs of “destroyed homes” from antii-Israel photographers noticed there were an awful lot of bright red, perfectly intact little kid’s bikes– I can’t remember if it was a trike or just had training wheels– that were oddly clean in a lot of widely dispersed photographs. He started looking, and noticed that there was almost always a strangely clean, bright red child’s object (coat, ball, doll, but usually a bike) slightly off-center of the destruction.

                  One of the photographers admitted to putting it in his shots to help them catch folks’ eye, but I seem to remember mostly they ignored the question of where the epidemic of indestructible red bikes was coming from.

          2. The bottom line here is that the NG screwed up by the numbers. They didn’t know the terrain and cornered the crowd against some fences. They had nowhere to go. When doing riot control, the goal is always to chase the crowd to an open area where they can disperse. If they had found SOMEONE (anyone?) who knew the area and pushed the crowd to a better spot none of this would have happened. The rocks never would have been thrown. There would have been no gunfire in response. Most of those people would probably still be alive.

    2. I believe the problem is the “snowflakes” are the same ones who are hammering us old baby boomers for “standing in the way.”

      Side note, I have scolded boomers for standing in the way, but only after they went on a rant about my generation not having reached the same spot they have and in conjunction with pointing out the regulation based effort to remove the path they used to reach their hill top, as well as prevent formation of future hills. Followed by a plea to stop trying to break down everything into generations ‘cus it’s dang near useless.

    3. In many ways, they mirror ourselves except in one facet, they think they “deserve without effort”. That, I believe is the real difficulty. For some reason, rearing, rage, I don’t know what or why, they feel no need to work towards a goal, but feel they should get because they are.

      I am curious as to why you think this is so? I see many people under 30 organizing events, helping to organize older events, etc. Perhaps what you mean is that they’re not willing to sit down and shut up and work the way you tell them to?

      In which case, I will ask if you were willing to do the same at their age?

        1. Let me see — comes spinning in and starts attacking. Plays the Nazi card. Makes a post every two minutes… Brings up the stupid accusation of “corporations killing people” — because you know, corporations are supernatural and not just ways to organize business.
          I’m sorry — I know you guys love the occasional troll, but this one is insane. He (or I suspect she)’s outta here.

            1. Yes, he — she — does. In the control panel, name is same as here, but German instead of French. I think is one of my colleagues who has been known to have this sort of bright “challenging” ideas in her work. If I’m wrong, I apologize, but I don’t think I’m wrong.

              1. Their ‘challenging’ ideas seem to be on the order of “If mud were only edible, we could do away with the farming industrial complex!”

                And I reply: “But – it’s not. And you’ve got to consider people like variety in what they eat.”

                And then you get promptly accused of being unimaginative, because you can’t see the OBVIOUS health benefits of eating mud… aside from making it easier to shit a brick.

    4. I believe the problem is the “snowflakes” are the same ones who are hammering us old baby boomers for “standing in the way.”

      In this context, Obama’s death panels are kind of sinister. Remember, Obama is both not a Boomer and quite wealthy. He need not worry about facing such a panel himself.

      1. I TOLD the boomers who were mad in love with the idea that Obama would make other people pay for their old age health care that it would be very cheap and very brief. BUT no one believed me.

  7. Doug, I am new to the SF genre and just googled your name on Amazon. I’m definitely interested. When I read your bio I found out your primary field is psychology/psychiatry and that you have worked with children up to adults in prison. There is another writer, a British MD, who has worked with a similar population: Theodore Dalrymple is his pen name. He writes essays and general commentary on “the culture”. His essays are free all over the internet. Might want to check him out.

    1. Thanks. I will do that. I’m kind of new to this whoie thing, having only started attending conventions and seminars last year. Before that all I did was read the stuff, and work on my own stuff.

  8. I don’t have my copy of Fallen Angels handy, but I remember that, in the novel, science-fiction cons were held secretly because being a science-fiction fan was considered evidence of “technophilia,” which was either a mental disorder or a criminal misdemeanor depending upon the circumstance.

    I recall a fan in the novel gloomily pointing out that the possibility of arrest and/or commitment to a mental institution kept the jerks away, resulting in a fandom more like the “good old days.”

    All this is satire, of course. Nothing like that could ever happen in real life.

  9. I think that conversation is an outcome greatly to be desired. However, we live in a time when dishonesty is just one rhetorical ploy. We are seeing falsehoods being put forth and mobs of low-information fans forming cyber lynch mobs on that basis. Someone can flatter the beauty of a female editor of yore and the mob demands blood. It doesn’t matter that Heinlein was a liberal in good standing, he has the wrong fans so he gets the two-minute hate. Reasonable people cannot converse in such circumstances.

    Thus we must first seek honesty in our interlocutors, and when absent, run out Larry Correia’s internet arguing checklist. When conversation is impossible, there is always theater.

    1. And people accuse the old industry giants of all being right-wing nut-jobs because they oppose censorship.

      😛

  10. I suspect the dialog is going on every day in bookstores and online retailers. True fans buy the books of the authors they follow. False fans talk about the same authors (and their true fans) in horrified/outraged/aggravated terms.

    I don’t think I’ve outraged very many false fans yet (although I’m working on that), but I’m very grateful for the true fans who buy my books. They’re helping me to earn my living. What higher praise could I want?

    1. I found some of these false fans on Twitter, talking about how they needed alternative authors to promote, now that Rothfuss and Gaiman are unclean. Sheesh.

      1. I want to beg you to tell me you’re kidding. Unfortunately, that would require part of me to have some level of disbelief.

        The plus side is that when they get done eating their own, there will be only a teeny tiny subsect of SF/F left and we can safely ignore them.

    2. I suspect the dialog is going on every day in bookstores and online retailers. True fans buy the books of the authors they follow. False fans talk about the same authors (and their true fans) in horrified/outraged/aggravated terms.

      Indeed. I have seen many false fans going off on people like China Mieville, Seanan McGuire, John Scalzi, et. al.

      1. Yep, though I can’t recall saying anything ever about China Mieville or Seanan McGuire, then I’ve never read anything by either of them, and China Mieville at least I have never heard say anything outside of his/her? books. But Scalzi, yeah you could call me a false fan, although I have read several of his books, I’m one of those creating the dialogue by disparaging his ridiculous antics and not buying any of his new books (is he still writing anything?). I think you totally missed the point that dialog is a good thing.

  11. Perhaps this conversation is not one that can be effectively carried out online.

    I’m reminded of a story of a contractor who was clearing some old buildings out of the way to make room for new construction. He hired a bunch of big guys with crowbars and heavy implements, and they broke things down quickly. Then he let them all go and hired skilled workers for the building phase because building something is naturally more difficult and requires more skill than tearing something down. And if we’re trying to build understanding, conversation, communication, community,that’s going to be more difficult than drive-by accusations, insults, and hate. Add to that the higher degree of difficulty that comes from doing it all in text, where body language and vocal intonation are absent, and the bar gets higher.

    Of course, if we’re writers, that’s supposedly our field of expertise. I don’t know. Someone I used to have a lot of respect for just posted a thing online that made me recall Sarah’s “Rats in their Heads” post, and my wife asked me why I still followed that person online. I don’t know that I have a good answer. Do we follow people and try to express an opposing viewpoint, or do we let them go their way and focus on building communities of those that we can have a conversation with?

    1. Good comparison. May I add, post tear down, if you end up with a cookie cutter building which has replaced the Grand Olde Theature and now hold Exhibits of Modern Tagging instead of Casablanca, or Miley Cyrus instead of Emili Sande, then expect no money from me. And I will expect much knashing of teeth from you when you go bankrupt because you are too cool to be understood.

  12. I think the problems in sci-fi fandom are just showing a greater problem in the culture– which I have no clue how to fix. –The youth culture, the entitlements, and the snowflakes.

      1. Definitely. I’ve spent ten years watching children being taught that helplessness is a virtue.

        1. Even beyond that, the Cult of Victimhood has turned our society in one in which people game the system with victimhood status to trump others’ rights etc.

          All of academia is a game of Victimhood Bingo where the group with the greatest victim status gets to control the institution.

          1. It gets our country leaning in a non-productive way. Everyone has problems. Get on with your life.

        2. Belonging to a group defined as helpless is a virtue. Actually being helpless is not a virtue in their eyes. Kindergarteners are helpless, unable to resist their parents and teachers, and yet I have seen with my own eyes someone justifying a kindergarten targeted at the girls in the class because the boys have had priority for generations. (Not these boys, but hey, don’t let that stop you.)

          Being helpless in actuality is not a virtue, but it is grounds for pity. Who does not eventually want Wile E. Coyote to have himself a nice roasted Road Runner?

          1. You can honestly say that Wile E. worked for it. Not particularly well, I admit, but he didn’t expect the Road Runner to roast itself.

            1. Reminds me of a thought I had during a series I once watched long ago (Gundam Z, specifically). The primary antagonist early in the series was a jerk. But after watching him fail again and again, episode after episode, I started to feel a bit sympathetic for the guy. True, him succeeding even once would have been catastrophic for the heroes. But still…

    1. The culture of entitlement that produces the snowflakes seems to be garnering itself more and more of a backlash out there in Ye Great Wasteland, so there may yet be hope in the world at large. Frex, youth league sports organized where the every-participant-gets-a-trophy mentality is explicitly campaigned against and replaced by “real” competition for standing and ThePrize — still trophies, still amateur, still youth players. Some of these appear to be set up by the more-competitive adults of a slightly older generation, but there is a considerable impetus from GenX and Millenial folk who felt cheated of a part of their own childhoods by the extremes of non-competitive snowflake-ism.

      I don’t know if it is quite time to cheer — there are unfortunately too many “adults” who will attempt the situation for their own self-gratifying reasons — BUT there may still be reason to think we will have A Future worth living for. (Here, my own curmudgeonliness aside, optimism leads me to side with The Future, warts and all.)

      1. The slide downhill was slow– I think that it had started before my birth from what my father has said. Anyway, I think that many of the Ms and Gen-Xers will protest the line, but unless they really understand the issues (hard to do with schooling, news, etc) they will only rebel a small way past the line, which means that the incrementalization of liberalism (or whatever ism they call themselves now) is winning. Not that I don’t hope that we go back to the freedoms in the constitution– I just suspect that I haven’t seen what living in the US would be like with full freedom and I was born in 1961.

    2. I think by “youth culture” you mean the culture popular with the majority of the youth, but… isn’t that pretty much what’s been getting big since the 60s-ish? “Youth Culture” that idolizes youth– including the stuff you’re supposed to grow out of by the time you graduate high school?

      1. The adults stopped reserving some rights for adults. Naturally, if you gain nothing but responsibility by it, you stop becoming an adult.

        Time was when a junior prom was a thrilling foretaste of adult things.

          1. It takes me days, sometimes a week before I get out of the time change– I used to not even notice… can’t anymore. I wish we would quit doing it–

            1. It’s stupid, no matter how much they want to play with the clock we still have the same amount of daylight every day. If your work depends on daylight you still have to start at daybreak and quit at dusk, regardless of what the clock says. If you don’t need daylight to work, it doesn’t matter, so why do you want to screw with the clock?

              1. Like Joshua, Congress raises its collective hands and the sun stands still and the moon stops in the heavens. It really bugs me too.
                (thank you Aleksander Solzhenitsyn)

      2. It is ridiculous when a sixty year old person still acts like a 16 or 17 year old– i.e. my definition of youth culture– It is pretty twisted and strange.

        1. Or dresses. There may be a few exceptions, but most of us should not consider miniskirts when we are approaching retirement age. Or skintight jeans either. (That part seems to happen more with women than with men)

          1. I would hope not too many retirement age men are considering miniskirts… or at least I hope they aren’t considering Wearing them.

              1. OK, not really…I’m not close to retirement age and I’m not into wearing miniskirts. I just couldn’t resist 😀

      3. They demonstrate some behaviors you’re supposed to have outgrown by the time you attend kindergarten.

  13. The end part there is the important point. America is exceptional because we organize around a core set of ideas, not race. As the split continues to grow on what those core ideas should be trouble will continue to grow, of which fandom is but a small reflection of the larger culture. First we stop talking to one another, then talk bad about one another, then argue with one another… Eventually the two sides become alien to each other and there will be war. God help us all, but I don’t see it happening any other way.
    The only up-side that I can see is that they’ll likely lose that final battle. As Putin has reminded us, 30,000 determined soldiers always beat 30,000 determined lawyers, or in their case, nannies.

  14. “this is an inevitable consequence of the creation of any kind of fandom,”—I think it might be a consequence of the creation of any kind of society at all. This made a little lightbulb go off in my head. I’m a homeschooling parent, and this sort of thing happens all the time on a small scale in that world. Fx someone I know is currently embroiled in a situation where for years, there has been a great inclusive group for the military homeschoolers in her area. Certain people have made a move to take over the group, institute a statement of faith (SoF), and get rid of all the people they don’t like. They can’t just start their own exclusive group, they have to destroy an existing one! I think SoFs are pure evil myself and wouldn’t sign one if there was one I could sign (but since they’re written to keep people like me out, that probably sounds like sour grapes). On a larger scale, there are people in the homeschooling world that think the whole thing should belong to them.

    Some friends and I have been talking for years about trying to fight this, and we’ve made our first tiny step by starting a blog about inclusive classical education. (It’s not much, but every time we get really ambitious our lives smack us down. We all have a lot on our plates already.) When we got annoyed over the publicity event that was the Bill Nye/Ken Ham debate, our current science week event was born.

    Anyway—this is a problem of all groups, I think. Heck, the US is having the same problem…

    1. Part of the reason we didn’t homeschool except for one year was that in our area we had to do it with no support. There were two factions: 1 the unschoolers. This is fine for a certain type of kid, who learns like he breathes (and there was a certain amount of unschooling in teaching #2 son, but a kid who free-grazes on ancient Greek Drama is not exactly your average unschooler) 2- the very devout people who homeschooled to keep kids away from all evil.
      We were the parents homeschooling (and we still did that around the school hours) to teach the kids the basics, history, classical languages and civic virtues.
      We ARE religious, but we don’t think keeping the kids in a bell jar helps them be holy. And we are by default freedom-minded, but we don’t think that going to the grocery is a “social studies class”. Also we noted most of the “unschoolers” didn’t reach further than community college if they got that far, and we wanted our kids to have the STEM option, which in our area is shorter in 4 years colleges. (Our college doesn’t take most Junior college credits.)
      We had NO home.

      1. I offer a mild correction, m’lady: you provided your sons what SOME of us think is the very best kind of home. You gave your support, you gave your wisdom, you gave your time AND your gave up direct control when you assessed the situation and saw that the better long-term choice for their future lay inside The System (and you still had the courage and conviction to counter-program where and as needed, on YOUR terms).

        You raised what appear to be (mostly) rational and intelligent youth who are armed with the knowledge that there are better ways out there, and you gave them the guideposts that should they choose to follow them will let them keep making their own choices making use of that rationality. And maturity beyond what many in the wider Wasteland may try to keep thinking is “beyond their years”.

        Hmmm. How to count the years of wisdom, when they are built upon a firm foundation of prior wisdom-seekers?

      2. *blink* Well, I could have written that whole description. Too bad we couldn’t have been homeschooling buddies. Everybody here is unschooling hippies or conservative Christians. I have been friendly with both but we’ve never done anything much together except park days. Most of our best friends have been public schoolers, and I am a lone classical ed wolf. Although this year several of my friends started homeschooling (still not classical) and I have been running a group physics class. This is our 9th year. We are LDS and like evolution and college for female types and the first amendment, so yeah, not a lot of company.

    2. When we were homeschooling about fifteen years ago we had an “inclusive” homeschooling group. It was a small community, with maybe 10-15 families. The person who considered herself the head of it threw out all of the Christian homeschoolers because they had the nerve to schedule a Christian sports activity in a time slot she considered hers. But really it was just a power thing, plus discomfort at people being Christian at all. (I think they were actually Lutheran. Really extreme…not.)

  15. You know, I’ve been checking Twitter concerning the Gaiman and Rothfuss kerfuffles, and I’ve realized that while some people are going crazy and accusing them of misogyny, most fans are either ignoring them or blissfully unaware of what a tiny minory of fanatics are doing. If they had been ignored to begin with, there would have been no problems at all.

  16. Even the reading fans can’t always have Heinlein as a reference. I just submitted a piece to the local SF writers workshop. Two asked what a “waldo” was. Even if they haven’t read the original story, I’d expect them to have heard of it as a successful prediction from a story or as an SF word adopted for a real invention. Nope.

    1. Possibly a generation thing. I’ve read Heinlein, but I think of red and white striped shirts when I hear the word “Waldo.”

      1. Where is he, anyway?

        On Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 3:24 PM, According To Hoyt wrote:

        > Foxfier commented: “Possibly a generation thing. I’ve read Heinlein, > but I think of red and white striped shirts when I hear the word “Waldo.”” >

          1. There’s a convention of them downtown Colorado Springs. We didn’t know this, and were walking around and… well… 😛 Hundreds of people dressed as Waldo. FREAKY.

      2. Yep, my first thought also, I’ve read a fair amount of Heinlein but don’t recall anyone in a red and white striped shirt that was hiding from everybody, so it is probably from one of those I haven’t read.

  17. But are the popular awards worth fighting for? I’m not sure our side has ever really tried, though there are indications that previous attempts to rally readers of non-in-group books were thwarted in ways that were against the rules of the game. And yet, to quote Heinlein, “Certainly the game is rigged. Don’t let that stop you. If you don’t bet, you can’t win.”

    I’m gonna disagree with the assertion that our side has never tried to rally readers. AAMOF, ISTR a certain Baen editor getting a much-deserved nomination for Best Editor last year after the fans rallied around one Mr. Larry Correia and his attempts to solve Puppy Related Sadness. I’m not sure how many people paid their hard-earned cash in support of his idea, but in this case it must have been enough. (For the record: Yes, I believe Toni deserved the nomination whether Larry had his push or not. No, I don’t think she would have _gotten_ it. I think we all know the difference between the two.)

    I’m stuck on whether this is a good thing or not. I don’t see it as opening the eyes of any of the special snowflake crowd and making them listen. OTOH, it can’t be a bad thing and if we can get some of the “on the fence” crowd to read books by authors on our side, that’s a good thing right?

  18. The outrage over “proper politics” reminds me of the “debate” going on among cosplayers. Should only people who have the resources and phenotype to cosplay a character “properly” be allowed to play that character without ridicule and insults being heaped on them? Or can anyone adapt a costume they admire to suit their personality and body habitus? To put it another way, should SFF include only the correct thoughts as expressed by proper people, or can anyone write, sing, and dress what they like, so long as they do not advocate harm to living individuals (or scare the horses)?

  19. But a conversation requires two way communication. If the person on the other side is not willing to a) listen and b) contribute to the greater whole, there is no point to the exercise.

    That’s the problem. The other side is not willing to listen. They don’t want to engage in the conversation, they want to silence us.

    The notion of there being science fiction fans who refuse to read Robert A. Heinlein, of all people, on the grounds of imagined principle, is positively terrifying. He was a giant in the field: numerous concepts which are today taken for granted and used by everyone including those who affect to despise him were either originated in or popularized by his work.

    This attitude will detach our field from its own past, from its own discoveries, and lead us to be unable to learn from our own history. It’s what’s responsible for idiocies like Margaret Atwood’s unimaginative and derivative Handmaid’s Tale being seen as ground-breaking, when all it did was to recycle the gender stories of the 1950’s and 1960’s sf magazines, drawn out to greater length and with less likeable characters.

    Are we to blind ourselves so that we avoid non-conformity with our fellow sightless (and that references a sf story by one of the founders of the field whom the politically correct also would wish to make verboten)?

    1. Actually, it amuses me to see mainstream literary authors getting so much praise for retelling stories that our genre did 50 years ago, and better. Is that the best you can do?

      1. And it amuses me to see people praised as great writers in our field, whose grasp of the techniques of writing as the mainstream believe in them are so weak, they’d have trouble selling works *not* crammed full of ideas. Is that the best you can do?

        (Note: There are many great writers in our field who could, and did, make it by mainstream literary standards — I am attempting to point out that Mr. Chupik here is attempting to set up SF as the sole grading scale.)

        1. Notice the implicit assumption that it’s somehow better to sell books with fewer ideas.

          1. Great writing is about projecting ideas (as many are relevant), concepts and plot, and doing it in a good or breathtaking manner. Most good writers have a clear writing style and have a deep understanding about what people say, do and think. Most excellent writers have a innate sense of rhythm and poetry and a sideways take on the world. But the ideas in the story are like the meat in an egg: if there isn’t enough to fill it to the top, both the egg and the story are probably off.

        2. Why would one bother to read a book with few ideas? Books are essentially conceptual — a lack of “ideas” implies that they are recycled drivel. This is actually true of genres other than SF and Fantasy as well, but a lack of ideas is especially crippling where SF and Fantasy are concerned.

          1. [quote]Why would one bother to read a book with few ideas?[/quote]

            Just to make sure we’re on the same page, what would qualify as the “ideas” (for current purposes) in Hemingway’s /The Old Man and the Sea/ ?

              1. It could be worse.

                Example: John Steinbeck

                Yes, if Steinbeck were still alive, I probably would have issues a fatwa against him after having to slog through that crap in high school.

                1. But I liked Cannery Row and Sweet Tuesday – they were so… so California. Before 1942, of course, My parents always maintained that the place was ruined by the wartime industries. There were fruits and nuts and flakes before then – but they were under control! It was a sleepy little agricultural place (Oh, yeah – SF had delusions of intellectual grandeur, and LA had {blech} Hollywierd … but it used to be a wonderful place to live. Before simply everyone came in, and they ploughed under the orange groves to make a parking lot or a ticky-tacky cookie cutter housing developments. I weep for the California that was, sometimes. I remember it — barely — as my parents did. Read Cannery Row and Sweet Tuesday, and weep for the paradise that was lost, once every wanna-be-hipster douche found out about it.

                  I was hugely amused to visit Monterey’s Cannery Row in 1994 (on leave from a tour in Korea), and realize that they had turned it unto a yuppie tourist attraction … and that all the upper-middle-class visitors coming to gaze upon the aquarium and the other attractions make famous by John Steinbeck would have been horrified as heck by having to rub elbows with the people that he wrote about in Cannery Row – bums, whores, cannery workers, soldiers, commercial fishermen and marginal citizens. Yeah, that thought just amused the hell out of me.

                  1. The thing about Steinbeck, his works made great movies. All of them I’ve seen were outstanding. I just can’t stand reading his stuff.

                2. It could be worse.

                  Example: John Steinbeck

                  What (besides being unfinished) do you have against The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights?

                  1. Nothing in particular.

                    It’s all the crap he wrote that they made us choke down in high school that earned my venom. 🙂

              2. Who would read Hemingway?

                Well, I have. The two obvious replies are:
                Who the Hell are you and why should I care?
                Why did you read Hemingway?

                Being in a charitable mood (and not looking to start fights with new acquaintences), I’ll answer the second: “High school English class.” Which is also where I read Shakespeare for the first time. Steppenwolf, on the other hand, was in German.

                However, the question as to the “ideas” in The Old Man and the Sea still stands, given that quite a few people who might be suspected of occasionally having worthwhile observations consider it well worth reading (as, in fact, I do. Not that you have any reason to consider my opion worthy of respect.) Since it’s a frequent assigned text in English lit classes, I took it as an example. We could use others if you’re not prepared to use it.

                How about Kipling’s Kim? Beowulf? A Midsummer Nights’ Dream? The Hound of the Baskervilles? Sayers’ The Nine Tailors?

    2. The notion of there being science fiction fans who refuse to read Robert A. Heinlein, of all people, on the grounds of imagined principle, is positively terrifying.

      If he is as gigantic an influence as you claim, then there is no longer a need to read him — his influence has spread far enough that it is inescapable.

      The very construction of a canon — which is what you are doing here — is part of the problem; it sets up certain texts as requirements.

      Now, I happen to *like* large chunks of Heinlein, while being quite content in my opinion that when it came to politics, the man was a dishonest writer who stuck his thumb (sometimes subtly, sometimes not) on the scale of his fictions in a way as to make them politically useless at best, reprehensible at worst.

      You wish to make Heinlein mandatory, and fear when people don’t see him that way. Do you believe, to pick an author of similar stature, that Samuel R. Delany should be mandatory, as well? (Just to pick an example.)

      Because if you start to construct a canon, you have two choices — stick to your rules of construction, or acknowledge the invalidity of the concept.

      1. oh good lord, you really are a nitwit. No one is suggesting Heinlein is mandatory. I’ve been a fan, I suspect, well before you were born. I’ve only read a few of his works. Enjoyed them for the most part, but they are a bit dated today.

        The problem is, twit, that people read his works written 30, 40, 50 years ago, and assume that his attitudes are comparable to todays. Yes, by today’s standards he seems a bit sexist. By the standards of 1950 he was a raving women’s libber.

        You can no more judge Heinlein’s attitudes by today’s standards than you can Rome’s.

        Idiot.

        1. It needed only that. No, actually his standards aren’t dated. They just “infer” he was sexist from the fact, you know, his women want to have kids.
          Of this total idiot, I have to say: CAESAR (recovering his self-possession): Pardon him, Theodotus: he is a barbarian, and thinks that the customs of his tribe and island are the laws of nature. — George Bernard Shaw. I only add “the standards of her time.”

      2. Samuel R. Delaney is not “of similar stature” to Robert Heinlein in the field of SF. He is AT LEAST two orders of magnitude below Heinlein. Heinlein is one of the Big Three: Heinlein, Asimov, and Van Vogt. Delaney doesn’t even make the second level of Bradbury, Clarke, and others.

      3. If he is as gigantic an influence as you claim, then there is no longer a need to read him — his influence has spread far enough that it is inescapable.

        Incredible. The idea that because other people copy him, or copy copies of copies of him, that there’s no need (or perhaps “value” is a better word) to go to the original. No wonder there’s so much “gray goo” out there. People “influenced” by copies of copies of copies of copies, were all the life and fire has been washed out of it. And you’re left with pathetic little stories of pathetic little people living pathetic little lives striving for pathetic little ends and failing more often than not.

        And so we have the perennial panel at SF cons “what can we do to increase readership” (or variations thereof).

        1. We should just start telling them the truth at those panels. “Well, you can stop fucking trying to be “respectable literature” something you have as much chance of as — Emily said — slash writers of being taken seriously by the gay establishment.”

          1. I don’t want to read respectable literature*, I sure don’t want to write respectable literature. I’d love to be a pulp writer of yore.

            *Note: there are classics people consider respectable literature. And I like many classics. But they’re not classics because they’re respectable, they’re respectable because they’re classics. William, I’m looking at you, man.

              1. Billy Boy was a hack actor who happened to write a few places that had some popularity. “Popular trash” nothing more.

                It’s just that people kept reading and performing and watching those plays. And they’re still doing it on the close order of 400 years later. And so they call it “great literature.”

                  1. William’s been making me snicker since — what? Junior high? Earlier? Not because of the plays (though there’s some great lines) but the reverence of various teachers for the “high art.”

                    “Um…have you read these?”

                    Not disparaging, here. Just enjoying the discontinuity between modern ‘literature’ and classic.

                1. And Scott, whose ‘potboilers’ he wrote in between his ‘important’ writing are what are around and known today. They were trash he wouldn’t publish under his own name, and now they are great literature.*

                  *Truly, I’m not being sarcastic here, he is my favorite of all the classics.

          2. Saw a poster at a flea market last month. It said, “Be Yourself. Everyone Else is Taken”.
            I suspect it is the same here. Serious literature has its place, but I suspect the greatest of it was not considered “really the true object” when it was written. Twain was considered just a clown on stage for example. Sir Walter Scott wrote at per-word rates. Poe wrote magazine fillers. I think they got great by being doing the best they could do in their own way, and doing it very well.

        2. Back when I was first starting to write, long before i made my first sales, conventional wisdom was that there were the “big three”: Heinlein, Asimov, and Clarke. The truth was, when it came to the influence they had on the field, and on the world, there was Heinlein, and a distant second and third.

          People want to deny that these days, but they are mice nipping at the heels of lions. Of course Heinlein is dead so it’s easy for the small minds to make mock of the truly great. But that only underscores the weakness in their own soul, that they have to find validation in attempts to denigrate the accomplishments of others.

          And . . . well, I’d better stop or I might go a bit far even for Sarah’s place.

            1. Patrick, yeah. Start singing the praises of the Spanish Hapsburgs and how great it was for Portugal to be part of Spain. That’s too far. Oh, and talk smack about cats and cat owners. Those will do it. 😀

              1. Singing the praises of Lenin, Stalin and the glorious communist future will also get me to crawl up what remains of your nose. What remains, because the rest of the Huns will tear you apart FIRST. 100 MILLION dead around the world. Enough said.

          1. Personally if not in the top three I would have to toss Burroughs at least in the second tier. I liked him better than any of your top three, but agree that they probably had a greater influence on SF, but his pulp style had a significant influence, possibly to include on those higher than himself.

            1. Burroughs and a few others, including Doc Smith (whom, if I remember correctly, Heinlein acknowledged as one of his influences), really belong, IMO, in the generation before Heinleins. They’re not so much better or worse as a different kind of thing. Sestina as opposed to Sonnet, if you will.

                  1. what tragic turn? What happened to H. Beam Piper?
                    Talking of pre-Heinlein I love Jules Verne. And of course H.G. Wells.

                  2. Piper was an incredible stylist too. His word flow is fantastic. I have always tried to figure out what it was he was doing with language. Three of the best American stylists were Poe, Lincoln and Twain. I think Piper was on that level.

                    1. Found my daughter in bed the other day, fast asleep on her stomach, “Little Fuzzy” propped up on the headboard, with her hand propping it open to the very last page. She’d held back sleep all the way to the end, then didn’t have enough left to even set the book aside and just dropped off right there.

                      That is what I want in a book.

                1. My “better than Asimov” is Pournelle. I had hopes for him being a “replacement” for new stuff when Heinlein passed on. Unfortunately, he’s not been so prolific a writer either alone or in combination with Niven–to my very great disappointment.

                  1. Never cared for Asimov, myself, so there are a lot in the “better than Asimov” queue, but Pournelle would be up fairly close to the front of the line. Haven’t read Simak, but may have to try him one of these days.