Middle School Never Ends

It is the blessing and curse of humanity that we are social creatures.

It is a blessing because it’s a source of happiness. Some of the greatest sources of happiness as a human (no, really, I am one) come through connection with other humans. I know some of the specific sources of my happiness come through hanging out with the guys, or even working in my office and listening to them laugh in the next room (like yesterday, when I really had to finish something.)

It’s a curse because if you get humans together they immediately form two groups and start imagining their group is superior to all others.

I remember this wedding party which was not among our normal acquaintance, so I didn’t know anyone. I was, I think, about ten. The older kids separated off into a group and we into another, and we went and played in a field next to the party and we knew we were SO superior to the older kids who were playing at boy and girl stuff.

Or take middle school (please. I’m convinced if there’s a place of eternal punishment it’s middle school.) In elementary school I don’t remember having cliques, possibly because my graduating class was 12 and we had a junior class being taught in the same classroom, so we could always look down on them (though we took them under our wing, too.)

In Middle School there were cliques. There was the pretty girl clique and the rich boys and girls clique and then there were… us. If we’d thought about it we’d have called ourselves “the others” and if we’d been in the states every man and woman jack and jill of us would now be in science fiction. We were of an intellectual disposition, sometimes odd looking (my “boyfriend” looked like a dinosaur. No, I’m not exaggerating. There was something saurian to his face. Dan only knew him by that description, but when we met him years later in a train, he recognized him on sight. Of course he was also a brilliant mathematician. The middle-school boyfriend. Oh, and Dan too.) Most of us were tiny and skinny. Then there was me. I functioned as an attractor to the group, because compared to the normal run of my generation in Portugal I was what was technically known as a moose (And if you want to know what that was, at 13 I stopped growing at 5’7” and wearing a US size 7.) and I was not afraid of fighting and fought not just to defend myself but “mine” as well. That meant we got the lame and the halting and the slow too. Though most were quick in the mind, because we scared the others. But not all. We had people we protected because they were nice but kind of … well… not that smart.

Middle school is when teens try out for adulthood. I realize Portugal was a more conformist society than anywhere in the US. But I saw it with my kids and it’s not that different. In Middle School they try to teach you to “fit in” with the most possible people. Not on purpose, of couse, but that’s what happens when you throw a bunch of humans that age together. Tribalism rules, and if people aren’t in your group – because you are a kid and have no brakes – they’re likely to get hurt. Also, if people ARE in your group they must be watched for any sign of disloyalty.

So, what is this about, precisely.

Well, someone on the anti-puppy side has been screaming and throwing fits (okay, they all have, but this one is speshul. Read Amanda’s take down here.) about the sad puppies campaign “politicizing” the Hugos and how he demands anyone on the slate distance himself from the campaign or else.

[Steeples hands on desk. Looks towards the heavens.] Lor’ what fools these mortals be.

First of all there is about zero political content to Brad’s slate. There might be more if it were mine (MAYBE. I was talking at dinner with the boys about authors I like/enjoy and frankly, starting with Connie Willis and passing through Pratchett any number of them are not just liberal but openly so.) But Brad’s slate is “works Brad found he thinks are worthy” and we read them and agreed or just told people about his slate and that’s about it. Which is why he said “go out and read them.” The books had zero vetting for politics, and so did the writers. In fact, I haven’t read one of the books and I guarantee I’ll find politics that make me roll my eyes, though very few people who weren’t taught Marxism from Middle School on would see it.

It’s absolutely impossible this man looked at the slate and decided it was politically motivated. Absolutely zero chance. (It’s also impossible they looked at the slate and decided it was exclusionary of women. As for people of different orientations, I don’t think anyone knows or cares about the private life of the writers.)


So the noise is pure middle school clique. This man who is at best a hanger-on to the field is screaming and yelling “Look at me, look at me, I’m with” (what he perceives to be) “the cool kids.”

This joined with a discussion last night on facebook with two people much younger than I on the precise gradation of “Latino” and “Hispanic” and the exact parsing of the need to belong.

I am one of those people who are pathological xenophiles (no, really, in the stone age, I’d probably have been killed one way or another.) When I was an exchange student, lines of friendship in the groups parsed along blood lines. Portuguese would (of course) be friends with Portuguese. If there wasn’t one, then Spanish or Italian, or any flavor of South/Central American.

Me? My best friends were British and Japanese. I hung out with the Swedish guys. And – this will shock you – I REALLY liked Americans which meant I often didn’t hang out with exchange students at all.

So to me the whole “belong” thing is a little hard to understand, except in the sense that all humans (even me) seem to want a tribe (mine tends to be the rag tag oddlings.)

And we all try to fit in with our group, be it in clothes, hairstyle, mannerisms or the way we choose science fiction awards.

And that’s fine if it’s for clothes, hairstyle, etc. Not so okay if it’s awards.

The work of civilization – the undertaking that’s got us from the pyramids to where we are – is a work of defeating tribalism or at least of harnessing it towards the larger world and larger, more worthy endeavors.

Deciding literary or even just story worthiness requires dispassionate examination and discussion that cannot happen if it’s all “I wanna belong with them.”

To take it back to tribalism and the cool kids who get to have the award because they’re cool is the opposite of civilization. It is a regression to barbarism.

It is, unfortunately one that is everywhere in society at large, partly encouraged by Marxism which is a barbaric philosophy, treating people as widgets, that is interchangeable members of a group (and the group mostly due to inherited characteristics). It is little wonder that Marxism usually leads to barbaric “kingship” systems like in Cuba or North Korea. That is what it is. Barbarism cleaned up and made to sound “intellectual.”

As for belonging…

I will confess to feeling a cultural kinship with lots of Latin people, particularly when we recall childhood incidents or maxims. This is not unusual. Some of the just-so stories I was taught in childhood date back to Rome, and the religious underpinnings have been changed in the telling, as I found out when I learned Latin and read the stories in the original.

I do not however feel a need to alter my behavior to fit in better with an imagined cultural identity. I accept that I have some, possibly genetic, possibly cultural and learned in childhood (though that doesn’t explain some that show in the kids, not me) legacy of my ancestry. That’s fine. I don’t suppress them. (The “feisty” thing, for instance.) BUT I also don’t encourage them to be more Latin. I just am me, as I am.

I find kinship and friendship and amusement in belonging with British ancestry people too, and anyone who knows the North of Portugal will understand why (seriously, we were where the Brits sent their disappointing sons before they had an empire) and know that it permeates the culture to a great degree. I found when I went to England and saw for the first time the landscapes I’d read about that it was sort of a lost homeland of the soul. There was something to the light and the layout of fields and houses that evoked a homesickness for a place I’d never been. (though there were traces of it in the North of Portugal.)

What I’m trying to say is that I channel my “tribalism” to “belonging.” I don’t try to conform to a tribe, but I’ll accept as brothers and sisters those who share some part of my sense of self. Needless to say, every American who loves the Constitution is definitely close kin, too.

But I don’t try to conform. I don’t try to be what people expect.

I try to be me as hard as I can. I have taken the full scope of who I am, changed what I could change that displeased me (or work on it on a day to day base) and encouraged the virtues and talents I like. I take no reference of what other people expect me to be (except my family, of course. I try not to be too hard to live with, after all.) I take reference of who I am, who I want to be and what I want from life. Not what other people want, not even what other people want me to want. Just what I want.

Do I have friends? Of course. I view friendship as an important bond involving mutual obligation.

Do I have a tribe? Well, yes. My friends tend to sort of be that.

Do I have a tribe that demands I think as they do as dress/behave/like what they do? No. You see, my tribe is odd and we’re each one our own.

I like it that way.

It must be scary to live in a world where Middle School never ends.

It’s also wholly inadequate for the work of adulthood and civilization.



136 thoughts on “Middle School Never Ends

  1. I’m not burning as hot about this guy’s nonsense today as I was last night. Last night…

    Well, I was feeling testy.

    The middle school clique — it makes some sense given his narrative arc (as laid out by Cedar on her blog). It also illuminates that call to denunciation of his.

    Tie his shift in narrative to the denunciation, and the bullies amongst the cool kids got to him. He was made to forswear and like many before him he’s going on to demand the same from everybody else.

    Meh. I have a pithy response for him.

  2. Some of the greatest sources of happiness as a human (no, really, I am one) come through connection with other humans.

    *passes over snuffly two year old who doesn’t feel good, and thus desires only to nestle under a chin with his blanket*

    House isn’t getting unpacked, cleaned or organized. And I’m OK with that.

    1. Rocking my son to sleep when he was tiny – I knew exactly how many times I’d need to go back and forth before he was ready for the crib.

      At 16, he’s a bit harder to rock. Keeps complaining he’s outgrown the crib. 🙂

        1. I suspect that if I ever have children, I will dread the day when the youngest is too big to pick up and swing around, or ride on my shoulders.

          1. That’s when you wake them up, drag them outside and start teaching them to survive. 😀

            1. No, that’s when you get furpeople. Or. like some of us, that’s where you start and then you never have to worry about them growing up. 🙂

            2. Like getting in to Scouts, hunting, fishing, etc. That and coaching my boys in sports were (are) the highlights of my life so far.

              Good Times, Good Times.

          2. That comes sooner than for most parents in my case. I’m tiny. My kids outgrow my lap very quickly. ;_;

            I’m desperately enjoying ever single moment of cuddletime I have with this baby; he’s likely to be the last one we’ll have.

      1. You probably just need a bigger rock. Admittedly, with some kids you also need a harder rock, say, switchng from limestone to granite.

    1. I went to a huge high school and that was great because you can always find someone you like, fit in with, etc. It’s not perfect always. I felt much more at home in college than I did in high school, even though they were from all over the country and mostly not southern like me. But we fit in a different way.

    2. Sigh. You passed up a perfect opportunity! I created a clique that was so tough to get into that I was the only member. That’s where I honed my super hero power of always being right to the sharp-edge sword that it is today.

      1. We moved the year I hit middle school…

        And got internet.


        My social group ranged in age from “probably also a young teen” to several people who were already married adults at the time. Still in contact with some of ’em, too.

        1. I got Internet some time after I got married. I was ecstatic to find a 33.6k baud modem at a warehouse clearance sale, to replace my 9600 baud modem. Though I think we started with a 2400 baud modem. On AOL.

          1. Where I lived during school did afford one benefit: I only had to deal with idiots while I was at school, because we weren’t near any gathering place for teenagers, and I seldom went to any.

    3. I didn’t join any clique, but the Freaks, Geeks and Weirdos did have a tendency to gravitate toward me.
      I think it was because I didn’t reject them, like everyone else did.
      I was also comfortable just being myself, which doesn’t get you very far with most groups.
      (I also went to a borderline ghetto school, which didn’t help the Odd’s much.)

      1. The time my schoolmates spent socializing, I spent working in a Comicbook store in the Colonial Arcade in downtown Cleveland. This was about a decade before comics stores got all respectable and started turning up in mallls and shopping centers that weren’t obviously dying. So I was hanging out with aging hippies, drughies, and similar pillars of society. Decent company, even if they did temd to be political imbeciles. The shop’s second in command was the living avatar of Zonker from Doonsbury (though he was a speed freak, which I don’t think Zonker ever was). I also got to know the creators of AMERICAN SPENDOR comcs, who worked in Kay’s Bookstore nearby. Good times.

        I came to know a cross section of street people, and assorted nutcases. Developed a tolerance for leftover ’60’s dementia that has stood memin good stead since. Also came to read most of the undergroind Comix of the day few of which rise above the level of mildly interesting. Wonder Warthog and The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers are the onky ones that really stand up after all this time, amd not too surprisingly they aren’t very political. It was at this time that I formulated the rule “Surrealism in a narrative form is tolerable for five pages or fifteen minutes, whichever comes first”. I have encountered one or two exceptions, but maintain that it is a solid rule of thumb.

        I didn’t date until college (which I dropped out of), and married my first girlfriend. Pure luck on my part. I suppose that even at my Preppy all boys school there were cliques, but it was pretty small and they made no impression.

        1. Gilbert Shelton’s Freak Brothers were political but not partisan — his world was divided between Straights & Freaks, not Liberals & Conservatives. Great work — superb writing and good line art — with a real mastery of the medium.

          Sorta Good News, for certain values of good — while looking for a particular Freak brothers page I came across this:

          After several weeks of rumors, Film Roman has officially confirmed that they are developing an animated feature film based on THE FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROTHERS, the underground comic book by Gilbert Shelton. THE FABULOUS FURRY FREAK BROTHERS is about three hippie brothers: free wheeling cowboy-hatted Frank; mad-inventor Phineas, and Fat Freddy, as well as Fat Freddy’s cat, who is described as meaner than Garfield, smarter than Felix,randier than Fritz, and a better mouser than Tom. Mike B. Anderson (THE SIMPSONS) is slated to direct the script he has been developing with the Film Roman team.

          Sorta Bad News: it is datelined June 1999, so it probably di’n’t get made.

          1. It didn’t. But there’s a “proof of concept” video on youtube, if you want to check it out.

            Didn’t want to see “GRASS RROTS” filmed, anyway. IDIOTS ABROAD or nothing…

    4. I went to high school during the D&D causes suicide scare. My mother lightly observed once she wouldn’t dare forbid me because that was all I had by way of a social life.

      1. yeah, D&D books were banned at my junior high and for part of high school because one of out assistant principles had been principle at the school Patricia Pulling’s son attended. By my senior year the rule was no longer enforced.

      2. I missed that; my gaming in HS was all Avalon Hill: PanzerBlitz, PanzerLeader, Tobruk, etc. I got into D&D when I went to college.

        1. I can’t see anyone who isn’t a pacifist objecting to military rpg or video games.

  3. “As for people of different orientations, I don’t think anyone knows or cares about the private life of the writers.”
    Sweetie, did you really write that or did the cat sit on the keyboard?
    We don’t. No one with a lick of sense does. But that’s the whole point of the SJW crowd. Your private life must be worn openly on your sleeve. It must permeate your writing. Proselytising is everything. If you’re not always and everywhere in the face of the white male privileged class you’re not one of us.

      1. Knew that, but you know I just cannot resist any and all opportunities to tease you.
        It would appear from way over here that you are getting better, at least you seem more lucid. I am most relieved to see that.
        And Liberty will be here before you know it.

  4. Amanda did a great job of fisking him. I really thank her for saving me the work. 🙂

    As to cliques, being the tall, fat, clumsy, smart kid, I didn’t have a clique until high school, when I finally found the debate team. They didn’t care how you looked. They only cared about if you were capable of rapid and accurate thought. It was heaven

    1. I give you all my respect. I just couldn’t do Debate. I could do the thinking and memorizing and talking part, but I Hulked out too easily. The only way I could ever do debate is if it were something totally trivial, because otherwise I would start happy and gradually start to want to kill somebody.

      It was a shame, because I got way too much stage fright to do Speech, but I had no stage fright at all in Debate.

  5. Hope all’s going well for you and your recovery, Sarah.

    Your article reminded me of my oldest daughter. A few weeks ago, she was at practice for a school play. One of the boys there decided it would be a good idea to try to steal a kiss without finding out if she was amenable to the idea. He came away sniveling about a massive upper thigh bruise from a well-placed roundhouse kick (if you ask me, he got off easy). Two or three years’ (so far) of MMA is paying off. This is the same daughter who is now learning Dutch thanks to discovering the Duolingo website (two other kids are learning Spanish).

    Yup. The next generation of Odds is well on its way. 😀

  6. I was a middle school counselor for 16+ years.
    Toward the end of that time, there were two books written which perfectly encapsulated the eco-system you are describing, and for the first time, gave us the language to understand and combat it.
    Unfortunately, I can’t remember the name of either book. Think I’ve got autographed copies around here, somewhere, though.

    1. That’s why I plan on ranking Monster Hunter: Nemesis above Skin Game. Butcher will get his eventually – sooner if SP is successful – and I want to see heads explode.

      I am not a good man.

    2. I don’t know who he’d be, but I can definitely see him Weber’s Honorverse!

    3. I would pay good money to read that.
      I would even contribute good money to a kickstarter to get him to write one.
      Anybody know who his speaking agent is? We should all write…

  7. I didn’t mind middle school (or high school) all that much. I had a couple of good friends, but they tended to be in different cliques. Most of the people I hung out with were brainy, but having some athletic ability I was comfortable around the jocks as well, same with the artists and musicians. And my friends, even after school, tended to be from all political spectrum.

    Most of the people I hang with now are conservative or libertarian, but my best man at my wedding is a flaming liberal (after the SCOTUS ruling went out and burned a flag in the driveway just because he could). Everyone gets along, even though they have differing ideas about the world. I always understood that was part of adulthood. It’s rather sad seeing all the boisterous renting and ranting from supposed adults simply because someone else has a different view. (Of course, Jessica Valenti is coming to town next week and I’m feeling tempted to attend just to make fun of the stupid shit coming out of her mouth, so maybe I haven’t grown up that much.)

    1. My mother is religious and libertarian. (The real kind, so I grew up thinking that libertarians were largely sane. Some of them… not so much.) Her brother is an actual godless communist. (Atheist who lived on a commune for a decade or more—he thinks the appellation is hilarious.)

      They actually get along pretty well, and fins the tiny slice where their views overlap as a mutual discussion point. Because they’re adults and that’s how adults behave.

      1. For a moment I wondered if you were my kid but that I know my brother never lived in a commune. Portugal and all. Well yeah, my brother and I are friends, provided he’s not trying to bait me which he does, sometimes.
        In other news, someday I’d like to meet your mom.

        1. She hasn’t been to a con since San Jose, because her best friend died and she lost heart. (She’s an introvert.) She did have a good moment at that convention, though, because she was looking for a dedication to him and found one to her in the process. (Tom Holt, in case you’re wondering—ends with “friends indeed.”)

  8. But I don’t try to conform. I don’t try to be what people expect.

    I’m a rarity here, most likely. While I got picked on like many of us, I actually ran with the popular crowd during high school. Most of it, at least. I got adopted when I asked one of the really, really pretty girls out. She turned me down, so the next day, I asked another. Same result, but I kept going. The impression I made? Well, no clue, really, but the popular seniors my freshman year took me under their wing. It was cool.

    Unfortunately, it was also kind of a lie. I played basketball and ran track, but I really didn’t even like basketball all that much (though it’s much more fun to play than watch). I did things because they were cool, rather than what I wanted.

    These days, I don’t conform. I’m me. If you want to hang, sweet. I have friends who are no more geeks than the man in the moon, but we hang out every chance we get (which is less now since they’ve moved away, but still happens). They matter to me. The group here and on the Facebook groups? I like them more than most people I know face to face, because they’re my kinds of people.

    I quit conforming, and have been much, much happier.

    1. Point of order! The man in the moon is a TOTAL nerd and geek! He’s off by himself all the time and he totally had to get there in a rocket ship. Not only is he a geek…but I think I just found a new hero!

  9. I can say from personal experience that if you get a job in state bureacracy, which isn’t required to turn a profit, middle school rules are the norm. There’s no need to grow up and act like an adult. And if a supervisor decides you need counseling to be told how to behave like an adult, it’s because you’re the only one in the room WHO IS behaving like an adult.

    1. Apparently, it’s not just state bureaucracy. I have it on good authority that the large IRS complex in Northern Kentucky is a hive of middle school activity, as well.

      1. pfui. Look at what we know about Lois Lerner and there can be no doubt about middle school mentality in the Federal Bureaucracy. Likely an effect of unionization and civil service rules making even the most barely competent uncivil servants more trouble to fire than to endure.

    2. Yeah…the inability to act like adults describes the majority of folks I work with (being a contractor for the feds, so I’ve gotten an eyeopening look at things both good and bad in government service). Fortunately, the woman who is my boss actually believes in acting like an adult, as does my father (most of the time–he IS my father) who works at the same field office. And a few other folks…but yeah, sadly the majority all act like they’re still in middle/high school…

  10. I was the target de jour (actually target de siecle) all three years of Junior High, and two and a half years of High School. Finally, in High School, a group of us science/choir/orchestra outcasts got together, pulled in a few ROTC kids, and at least had people to talk to. But boy howdy, to this day, when I hear someone talking about how great their teenage years were, I want to give them the icebucket challenge. Ditto when I see/hear “adults” acting like Junior High twits.

    1. I had a teacher in high school tell the class that anyone who said “These are the best years of your life,” was lying. I’m slightly more charitable—I add “or amnesiac,” when I pass that bit of wisdom along.

      For one thing, I remember how nice it was when I hit my twenties and the hormones smoothed out, so my moods didn’t get bounced off the floor and ceiling so much.

      1. In junior high and high school, I had some friends who were gamers (tabletop). It was a lifesaver, literally, because they were the first friends I’d had who weren’t scared off by my designated target status. But I had been the target from first grade on, and I continued to be the target until I graduated high school.

        OTOH, all my schools had good libraries with plenty of books, in which I spent most of my mental time, and most of the teachers were quite good. So I can’t say school was a total loss.

  11. no, really, in the stone age, I’d probably have been killed one way or another.

    Pretty much everyone in the stone age was killed one way or another.

    Still on the pain meds?

          1. Oh, my God, but he must be sooooooo mad at his parents. And just a BUNDLE of inferiority compexes or something.

            Ye gods.

            (Imagine it in tye voice of that girl from MUSIC MAN)

              1. I don’t see that that follows, since I run into him at checkout counters all over….

                Seriously though; he must be planning a career as a bookstore clerk or barista.

              1. The ones that get me are the otherwise normal looking young women who have rings all the way up the outside of their ears. They look like the lost a fight with the machine that makes spiral notebooks.

                  1. I keep hearing that, but I can still put a ring through the piercing in my left ear that I got 20 years ago, despite the fact that I haven’t worn anything in it for about that long.

                    Must be another way I’m an Odd. 😀

                    1. Tom, I’m the other way around. My family opposed piercing ANYTHING so at 18 I sneaked out and got my ears pierced (oh, the wailing and … um… yeah, I was grounded.)
                      I love earrings and have an extensive collection, but got out of the habit of wearing them when I had littles. Marsh tore my ear a couple of times. Anyway, now if I go more than a month without wearing them, the freaking ear closes. If it’s still fresh, I can force it, but I’ve now had my ears pierced “officially” 4 times.

                    2. *Mild envy*
                      If there’s not an earring in my ear for a day, it has to be re-opened. Minor blood, but blood every time, plus pain and (a day later) swelling. (different kinds of earrings can make it better or worse, but none avoid it entirely)

                    3. I must be somewhere in the middle. It’s been a few years since I checked, but one ear piercing always closed up, and the other remained open. But it’s been so long since I even tried, both ears could be closed up now.

                    4. It could be the age. I got mine pierced when I was six and only had one incident where they started to heal over. (A neighbor put white iodine on them and they opened up again.) Now they’re pretty much permanent.

                    5. Not sure about that. I was of legal drinking age when I got mine, but others here are talking about it happening to them now as adults.

                      Genetics probably has more of a factor.

                    6. I had mine done when I was twenty-five or so, by a Navy medic pal with a large darning needle, some ice cubes and a bit of that iodine-colored antibiotic that they used for pre-surgical cleaning of the skin. I’ve left earrings out for weeks on end, and never a hint of healing closed.

                    7. I took out a little set of stud earrings when I gave birth (surgery rules, though happily I could keep my glasses) and pretty much forgot to put them back in till two weeks ago. Stupid ear holes were closing up. =( Itchy to force open.

                1. When I took art, one of our models, who was also an art professor had so many piercings THERE that you couldn’t see skin through the metal. (SHUDDER.) I will not play amateur psychologist, but at the time I remember thinking “if someone were trying to obliterate his penis, what would he do differently?”

                    1. Y’know, I have tried on more than one occasion to argue that Viagra is a medicine of benefit to women because a guy needn’t be wooden to get off. I can only surmise the resistance to this point is the result of rampant ignorance of (indifference to) male sexuality.

            1. I think the usual psychological theory is that it’s a form of control of one’s body, or of creating a permanent “home” by inscribing oneself. Obviously it’s a healthier form of taking control of oneself than anorexia or cutting, so there’s that.

  12. I hated junior high. Actually, I was never fond of school, but in high school I started to tolerate it more. The individual who always wanted to pick on me finally got tired of it. That was the only time I got sent to the headmaster’s office (private school, US usage), when I got into my only bad fight with an older student. Two years later, in the matter of boys, he was cheering me on when I tried out for JV basketball (didn’t make it).

    (High school almost worked me to death, at least senior year when I was taking five classes–two math classes, advanced biology, English, and, I think, history. Maybe I should taken a year off before college; maybe, etc. etc. etc.)

  13. To me, the money quote from Amanda’s Fisking:
    Here is a man who is using his role as editor of what was once one of the pillars of the sf/f magazine world to promote his own political agenda.
    I now understand why he considers GamerGate such a boogieman. Gamers were happy until they realized that the editors and publishers of the game sites were not reviewing games for their quality, but for them having a correct message. Now, he realizes that the SF/F readers have discovered exactly the same in publishing. It wasn’t pretty. Based on some quick Googling, the Gaming industry is just a little smaller than the *entire* publishing industry. Clearly, an editor of SF/F with an agenda should be very afraid.

    I went to Elementary School 1-7th and High School 8-12th. Don’t ask me why Newport News was set up that way until 1972. However, it probably had the advantage of smaller ‘groups’; 6-7th students were divided into thirds, rotating en-mass, so you only saw all the kids at recess. 8th grade was a little like the being a Christian in the Lion’s den, but we survived somehow. Personally, I was in the Chess Club, in a school where the only routine ‘victories’ of any competitions were the Chess Team. We had jocks, but most of them were pretty smart too.
    Of course, all of this is ancient history. No school would be allowed to be run that way today. I don’t know a lot about the politics of the time, I know in 12th grade, we were convinced that the Black City Councilwoman was the only one that made any sense. In elementary school, we were to busy with the run/duck/cover nuclear fall out drills to worry about politics. I vividly remember where I was when we heard Kennedy was assassinated. Crouching in the hallway near the wall waiting for the bombs to fall.

  14. Sigh. I am pretty certain that it was in middle school that I figured out the Great Secret to the Universe. Which was – not to give a flying f**k what the other kids thought of you – especially the so-called popular kids. This revelation came at summer camp, which I dearly adored and looked forward to, all the weeks of the year; a single week at a Lutheran camp in the highlands of the southern sierras. There was a girl at that session who was rather nasty to me … and I just had this f**k it moment.
    I have looked forward to this week for all of the year since my last week at camp, and am I going to let this by*otch ruin it for me? Oh, h*ll no!
    And I didn’t. I let it all run off me, like rain on a tin roof. I did rather make friends with her, towards the end of the week – I think during those last few hours when we were both waiting for our parents to come and pick us up.

    But it was a revelation to me – why should I let my day be ruined by people I didn’t really like or respect? I took that attitude back to school in the fall – and I was amazed at how powerful it turned out to be.

    Why should my day/experience/life be ruined by the words and attitudes of those that I don’t really give a flying f**k for anyway? That thought/attitude was like steel armor during the rest of my time in school, And life, actually.

  15. >my “boyfriend” looked like a dinosaur.

    Sarah, be honest now, you really DID write that wretched “If you were a dinosaur, my love,” didn’t you? 😉

        1. I’m not surprised.

          But then again, the internet has ruined me, particularly 4chan’s /b/ forum. Not exactly the type of person you’d want to use as a baseline for “normal”. 😛

  16. Since the conversation is shorter today, and it is actually the same day of the post, I would like to take the opportunity to de-lurk to say…

    Thank you, Sarah, for your posts that encourage optimism. I have found your “In the end, we win, they lose” posts heartening.

    Having drifted away from most science fiction and fantasy several years ago, it has been a pleasure to find your “human wave” books and learn about other authors here and through your mention of the Sad Puppies campaign.

    Thank you!

  17. On the one hand, Steve Davidson’s statement “Individuals who find themselves on a voting block who want to avoid being ranked below No Award should immediately remove themselves from those lists, or make a public statement disassociating themselves from that list.” reminds me very strongly of a bout of “I’m telling” that my classmates and I had in first grade. And then we started growing up.

    On the other hand, their do-this-or-else vibe is very McCarthyesque. And nobody should have to put up with another Tailgunner Joe…oops, trigger warning. 😛 I do hope any fans just finding out about things now recognize that the those who are demanding Diversity Now! are threatening to end the careers of those who won’t goosestep with them. Happily they’re far less able to suppress individualism now than they were just a few years ago. And it’s making them crankier.

      1. Apparently there are more people signing up to vote SP3 (or anti-SP3, or just because they now know they get books and stuff cheap/free) so, it may well turn out that the best book does get to win. 😀

    1. That was, logically, one of the stupidest statements I’ve ever read. To me it parsed as:
      If you, someone who would never be on a slate that ‘we’ approve of, are selected to the SP slate, you should resign because ‘we’ still won’t vote for you.And now you’ll never end up on ‘our’ slate (even though we would never have picked you anyway).

      I mean really, they’re telling people who they hate and would never have picked, to get back in line and wait to never be picked.
      This guy is definitely not a rocket scientist.

      1. They want their tribute. Plain and simple. They want anyone on the slate to bow down, turn their back on the people who actually LIKE their work, and kiss the feet of their masters.

        Luckily, most of them are looking at this and shaking their heads in disbelief. It would be interesting to talk to some who didn’t really believe what Larry said until they saw it themselves.

      2. It reminded me a bit of Clampsy’s hilarious demand that authors with Castalia House remove themselves from associating with the imprint ‘or never get his money.’

        Such a hollow, empty threat, the kind the habitual abuser makes. The books that Castalia House publishes aren’t even remotely the kind of stuff he’d read so those authors would never get his money anyway.

        I feel some pity for this guy though; someone over on Brad’s blog started a discussion saying that he had changed his tune. Originally he advocated for something closer or similar to what SP3 is trying to achieve, and he got dogpiled on rather viciously later on by the same SJWs he’s trying desperately to appease now. As Matthew Bowman said, he seems to have discovered that he stepped on the wrong spot of floor.

  18. My dad gave me advice I found invaluable for years at the time when I was dealing with being a junior high misfit. It matches well with the general feelings here.

    “Find something *you* enjoy and do it. Pay no attention to what others are doing. Sooner or later someone else will come along and enjoy it too: you’ve found a friend *and* become a leader.”

    He was a smart man.

    1. *sad smile* I’m always conflicted about this kind of thing….

      On one hand, it’s a great hand to those who believe the lie that if you are not One Of Them, you are alone, isolated. Nothing.

      On the other, it reinforces the message of those who prey on the vulnerable, those who aren’t protected by The Group– The others. Either A or Not-A. And there are always people who are Not-A for very @#$# good reasons.

      Not like a music video can really encompass the idea of answering injustice with justice rather than destroying the idea of justice, and it works for the school-age-psychology it seems to be aimed at, but part of the big problem we have right now is a short circuiting of the ability of groups to self-regulate and not replacing it with anything.

        1. But the video also makes it clear that “outsiders” are to be a single group, which I’m pretty sure most of us here have fallen victim to at least once– it’s a very popular tactic with all the wrong people.

      1. I’m tempted to start using “Normal is not the norm; it’s just the uniform” as an internet sig line.

  19. In Middle School they try to teach you to “fit in” with the most possible people. Not on purpose, of couse,

    In some areas it IS on purpose. When the Daughtorial Unit commenced Grade 6 we were advised by the school that they didn’t pay much attention to academics because kids at that age were only interested in socialization.

    Sigh. They didn’t know Daughtorial Unit.

    They also didn’t know squat about enforcing socialization norms, apparently believeing Lord of the Flies an instructional manual.

    By the second semester we were Homeschooling.

    1. Aye on Lord of the Flies as an instruction manual. When you can’t teach ethics, that’s what you get. And this is why younger son finished his Middle School at home.

      1. ::Should I or shouldn’t I? I’ll do it.::

        But Sarah! Everybody knows that you shouldn’t force ethics/morality onto the “poor innocent children”!!!! [Sarcastic Grin]

        1. Where do you find these innocent children? Just because you didn’t catch them doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

          1. Someone I used to know many many years ago used to maintain that there was no crueler, nastier, place on the face of the earth, than a child’s playground.

              1. Rather what I was thinking.

                Take the bad children’s playground, put in adults and weapons, and the most currently-in-our-public-conscious example is the middle east.


                I’m starting to think the various terror groups have studied their Christian history. They keep aiming to destroy the women. If the Romans had executed any woman they found who was a Christian….

            1. Some truth to that but the knuckle-heads who believe that we shouldn’t teach ethics/morality to children don’t recognize that. They are also the knuckle-heads who think we “just have to talk nicely” to the enemies of the US. [Sad Smile]

              1. They tend to not recognize the ethics/morality that they do want to teach children. It’s like they define “teaching ethics/morality” as “what other people think.”

  20. I am one of those people who are pathological xenophiles …

    Like Groucho Marx, I immediately distrust any group willing to have me as a member. Even you lot of Huns, although it is obvious you’re really Odd so I fit in tolerably well.

  21. I try to be me as hard as I can.

    I realized the other day that the reason I have never had much inclination toward cos-play or even dressing up for All Hallows’ Eve is that after sixty-plus years I’m finally getting this RES costume to sit comfortably and I fear if I change out for an evening I’ll never again get it comfortable.

  22. Hey, Ms Hoyt, I’ve got some spare tickets to the Museum of Nature and Science in Denver–1 set of 4 for the museum & IMAX and one set of 4 for the Museum & Planetarium that we won’t be able to use before they expire on the 25th of April. You want them?

  23. Middle school was hell too. A middle school anecdote:

    My middle school geometry teacher didn’t understand the subject she was trying to teach us. She would haltingly read us our lesson out of the textbook, assign homework, and punish us if we asked any questions, or if we used any initiative in solving the problems in any way but what was exactly on her answer sheet.

    I got detention once for trying to work a problem with trigonometry. “I didn’t teach you that, and if I didn’t teach it to you, how dare you act like you know it! You don’t know anything I didn’t put in your head! QED!”

    So I and two (sort of friends) of mine started a side project to see if we could either prove or disprove the four color theorem (which at the time was presented to us as ‘undecided’. I think it was probably proven in the 70s though. Before it was ‘disproven’ by people abusing fractal geometry and monster curves.). We would work on it while skipping gym class. I think I had a pretty good (for an 8th grader) proof of the theorem going. Yes, we nerds had formed an underground club to learn forbidden math!

    On the last day of class I wrote on the back of my final test a listing of a few identities that I had derived myself regarding rotation. Things that she couldn’t give me detention for because I was going to another school the next day. So there.

  24. This is a topic dear to my scientific li’l heart.

    I’m pretty sure that there is a human psychology that cannot navigate life without first dividing humanity into Our Tribe and the The Evil Other. I think this is inborn behavior, not learned. Life for the tribal psychology is an unending series of tests on other people, using shibboleths to see what camp they belong to. The factual nature of the shibboleths does not matter; what matters is whether or not others salute those flags.

    The best current example of such shibboleths is global warming. Meteorology runs in my family and I study it, and I run these evil little cocktail-party studies on people who defend the AGW theory with the venom one often sees. I put on my grave face while I ask, “Does anybody have any idea what would happen if all the Arctic sea ice were to melt?” I get nodding heads, condemnations of the oil companies, and predictions that New York City will be under forty feet of water. I nod sagely and drift off to get more shrimp, having learned all I need to know. People who claim to love *^%^$#^$% science ought to understand that melting sea ice doesn’t change sea level in any significant way. But the science doesn’t matter; what matters is reassuring one another that We Are The Tribe. The Good Guys. The Evil Other must be slandered and marginalized at all costs.

    SP is another such shibboleth, if more limited in scope. The heuristic is easy to spot: The people who make the most noise against it are those who understand it the least. They are afraid to understand it, lest they lose their standing in The Tribe, which is what they fear the most.

Comments are closed.