A BLAST FROM THE PAST JAN 2012 Blowing Steam — or The Counterfactuals Can Harm You

*Sorry guys.  Between the stress of the house closing and the vacation-that-wasn’t, I came down with the mother of all sinus infections, so I’m on a pot of coffee and STILL not functioning.  I’m going back to bed.*

A BLAST FROM THE PAST JAN 2012 Blowing Steam — or The Counterfactuals Can Harm You

Okay, before I start this, I’m going to warn you I’m going to utter several heresies.  It’s not anything I’ve never said before, but we’re so cocooned in a nest of false reality, that these things still have the power to shock.

When I was little, my mom had this gargantuan pressure cooker.  I mean, I’ve never seen another one that size.  Because mom tended to feed the entire extended family on weekends, I think she bought some of her cooking implements from restaurant supply stores.

I was terrified of the d*mn pressure cooker, because there were stories of people getting their faces blown up in them, and I’d run across the patio when mom brought it out, set it in the middle of the patio and opened the steam valve and let the steam escape, before she opened the pot.

You could hear that thing whistle a mile away, like an oncoming train.

That’s sort of what I’m doing today.

A con is a social situation and a wise man taught me that only a fool or a sadist tells the truth in social situations.  My blog on the other hand is my blog, and if you guys aren’t used to the steam by now, I’ll eat my hat.

So this is my blog post to avoid blowing up in someone’s face and/or taking half the room with me.

Today at noon I’m scheduled for a panel on how YA has changed since Heinlein and Clarke wrote for Boy’s Life.  Note that there, the “boys life” slipped in – not “the golden age” but “Boy’s Life” – pretty clever, uh?  That tells you the direction they want this panel to go.  Nifty, uh?

I don’t find this stuff amusing anymore.  At the back of my mind, clanging like a funeral bell, the thought goes “What can’t go on, won’t.”*

And guys, let’s face it, this can’t go on.  It just can’t.  We made some joking comment to older son yesterday.  You see, he had one more humanities requirement to fill and after despairing of anything interesting (no, they don’t have any classical history, which was his first and abiding love) he settled on Jane Austen.  He likes Jane Austen.  He grew up on Jane Austen.

We teased him that he would be knee-deep in girls in that class.  Both boys looked at us like we were nutbars.  They’re knee deep in girls in EVERY class.  These are stem classes, and boys are maybe ¼ the class, at best.

I’d guessed it was somewhat like that – I’ve seen our friends’ SONS fall by the wayside since middle school, while their SISTERS, not notably more endowed with brains than themselves, had As.  I’ve seen my own kids’ classes.  It’s not just that the teaching style, the demands on timeliness, putting tab A in slot B etc are far more suited to girls learning styles, it’s that many of the teachers – almost all female – have an ax to grind, and their ax ALWAYS grinds on the boy side.

But I didn’t realize that college ratios in stem were that out of whack, too.

So, do let’s talk about YA fiction – and why I’m on this panel except to start a fight I don’t know.  I don’t WRITE YA fiction, except for the novel I’m trying to re-write, and I haven’t read any specifically YA fiction since Harry Potter.  (Pratchett doesn’t count.  I’d read his laundry list.) – and Saturday morning cartoons, and commercials, and–  DO let’s.

So in Heinlein’s time there were a lot of male main characters.  Yeah, okay, fine.  If you think that women and girl characters weren’t treated with respect, then truly, you haven’t read Heinlein.  What you have read are the feminists ranting about Heinlein.  NOT the same thing.

Oh, yeah, I forgot, Heinlein’s women wore aprons – therefore eeevil.  (Not, in the fifties clothes were way more expensive, therefore aprons, and people CLEANED a lot more intensively than we do.  Heck, I still clean that way,  Look kids, I hate aprons for OTHER reasons – as in, they catch and bind, and I can never find one when I need it.  But I buy my clothes at the thrift store, so I can afford to replace the $5 pairs of jeans when I can’t find any non bleach-splattered.)

Nowadays, though…

When Marshall was three he came to me and told me he wanted to be a girl.  I get alarm bells at the back of my head, the sort of incoming signal you get when you start going “Is this serious?” and “Is it something I did?”  So, very carefully I ask him why, trying to look perfectly neutral.  (And here you guys have to trust me, but Marshall, in both learning style and presentation and play was my very much boy son.  In fact, he was the most MALE child I ever saw growing up.)

He answered quite easily, “Well, it’s just that girls get to do ALL the fun stuff.”  So I sat down with him for Saturday morning cartoons.  Yep.  Girls have all the adventures.  And boys are either dumb or evil, and sometimes both.

In fiction it’s not that naked (it is in commercials) but you get it nonetheless. 100 pound females take out armies QUITE routinely.  (Oh, fine, but Athena is bio-engineered.  And her husband is her equal.  Deal.)

I have a friend who thinks this is good.  She also thinks it’s a pendulum and this is the “revenge” for the times when “the boys got to have all the adventures.”

She is missing the point.  She is missing the point by a mile and a half.

Those stories were REAL – i.e., they fit with the universe around us – and ours aren’t.

(I told you I was going to be a heretic.  Oh, and the kid got over this impression.  More on that later.)

Look, men and women are not the same.  They can be equal before the law, but they can’t be EQUAL.  They serve different functions in society, or in a sane society at any rate.

Or look at it another way: men and women were shaped by different evolutionary pressures.  I remember reading that human ancestors first formed in bands because of pregnant females, who needed someone to look after them, and who couldn’t walk as far as the males.  I don’t know if that’s true, (I read it in Scientific American) but considering how complicated our pregnancies are compared to most animals, it might very well be.  Our young CERTAINLY require a lot more care and vigilance than most young.  And for a longer time.  It’s the price we pay for the brain.

What this means is that in general, the pregnant women and the old ones, and perhaps the juvenile males or the older males, stayed behind in camp and looked after the littles, while the men went out and hunted.  We do know from primitive tribes, most women forage.  The men hunt.

BOTH functions are essential.  Yes, meat in the diet is important, particularly for large brains.  BUT often the men come back empty handed, and it’s the women’s berries and tubers that allow the tribe to live to hunt another day.

Would a female who wanted to hunt be accepted?  I understand in some tribes they are, at least while unmarried.  BUT would it be practical to encourage all the females to hunt, and all the men to gather berries and look after toddlers?

Um…

Let’s leave aside for a moment the fact that violent exercise of that sort while pregnant might not be the smartest idea and that frankly you don’t FEEL like doing it.  Also that women athletes, who run miles every day often stop ovulating.

Let’s instead look at me.  I don’t think my husband is strange.  He’s the best of husbands (trust me) and he adores the boys.  He’s FAR more patient than I am with them.  BUT when they were toddlers, he did  not have the “psychic” bond.  (It’s not really psychic, of course, but it might be instinctive.)  What this meant was that – we shared an office – I’d get up from my desk, go running down the stairs, come back up and he’d be all like “What?” and I’d go “Marshall was about to overflow the bathtub again.”  And he’d go “What?”  And I’d have to say “Well, there was silence, then a very quiet sound of running water, which meant he was being stealthy.  And he was breathing fast.”  “How can you hear his breathing in another floor?”  And I couldn’t explain.  I just could do it.  The bond slowly dissolved, over time.  I mean, I still pay attention to them, but I’m not connected by a sensory tether.

The explanation might be as simple as women being naturally multi-taskers, while men concentrate better (hey, studies show this.)  He concentrated better on his work, but I could hear the kids.

A tribe that sent the toddlers to the bush with a bunch of men would shortly have no toddlers.

In fact, maybe some tribes did this.  It’s like my son and I the other day, trying to sort out why most people aren’t individualists.  Heredity.  Imagine the proto-tribe composed entirely of individualists.  “Come on man, today we hunt mammoth.”  “Who is gonna make me?  You and whose army?”  Yeah… if there is a tribe that did that, we’d NEVER know.

“But Sarah, we have the pill and all sorts of modern stuff, and women should be encouraged to break out of their traditional roles.  Why should you be tethered to child raising?  Let’s free that half of humanity.  That’s why it’s important to present women as leaders and—”

Brother!  You’re not listening.

You missed the part where we were SHAPED by evolution.  Evolution is a funny thing.  It takes a LOOOOOONG time.  Oh, fine, okay, we’re self-tamed, and we might change ourselves faster than nature intended.  It’s still not something you change between a generation or the next, or even two, or three or ten.  NOT when evolutionary pressures have been changing male and female brains FOREVER and picking the most successful.

And then, even if that were your goal, you’re going about it ALL WRONG.

Heinlein’s women were accomplished and they were good at many things (if you read him you know he often showed them smarter at book learning and abstract thinking than men.  They were also wives and mothers.  It is their being wives and mothers that excites the hatred of our “feminists” who, of course, are the establishment voices and who control publishing and entertainment and even our news – either de facto or the screaming at being “offended.” To them the perfectly “liberated” woman is a male.  Always.

And thereby hangs the inanity.  First, our most “accomplished” women aren’t reproducing.  Well known fact, and something that frankly I wrestle with everyday.  Part of the reason we only have two kids was probably the high stress I put myself through trying to break into publishing in our best reproductive years.  Women’s bodies aren’t BUILT for continuous high stress.  (Men’s aren’t either, but weirdly their sperm production gets better.  We stop ovulating, because, well… For men it’s “pass it on before you die.”  For women it’s “We’re always threatened, no time to have babies we have to carry and share resources with.”  We are not EQUAL.  Not before nature.)  Even women who are married (and a lot of our high achievers don’t have time for that, or lack the courage to buck the establishment) among our best performers, will rarely have kids or many kids.  The women who ARE reproducing still and in droves are either from very traditional segments of the society or being supported by the government.

If your goal is to change evolutionary direction – brother, you’re doing it wrong.

But let’s go with your goal just being having a bunch of women in power, and a bunch of men as their toadies.  I often thing that this is the goal of most boomer “feminists.”

I even understand them to an extent.  Remember, I was raised in a country that was at least 20 years behind the US.  My first big trouble was for refusing to clean up after my brother who was 10 years older.  I thought he could take his own fargin banana peel to the trash can and it wouldn’t hurt him.

The fifties were an aberrant time because so many middle class women could afford to make no money, which meant middle class men were important as sole bread winners (no, this is not normal, historically, and partly had to do with affluence, part with societal dynamics.)  That meant the culture in the forties and fifties here – and sixties and seventies in Portugal – picked up all sorts of junk about men being more “important.”  No, not in fact, I know.  There were all sorts of  protections built in for women and girls, too.  But when you’re a pre-teen you don’t see that.  You just see boys lording it over you, and you want to make them eat dirt.

And a lot of the women ten to twenty years older than I never got over it.  This is all about getting their own back, and never mind what it does to the world.

I’m going to be blunt and heretical again: men’s and women’s brains are not the same.  There is a reason men engineers are more “natural” than women engineers.  There is a reason, even now you find fewer women than men working in engineering, though we’re training more women than men.  It’s not discrimination.  It’s that  men are better at spacial visualization.

There is a reason most nurses are female – women have been shaped through evolution to be better at perceiving non-verbal signs of distress and at dealing with the sick.

Now keep in mind that I’m not talking about ANY individual.  This is “statistical likelihood.”  The best nurse I ever had was a guy.  And I’m so awfulbad at dealing with sick anything, that I even shy away from sick cats – while my older son (you know, looks like a Mafioso, is built like a brick sh*thouse) is a natural caretaker, gentle, attentive and kind to those who are sick, old or impaired, human or animal.  (He comes by it naturally.  My dad is like that too.)

No, I don’t think all women should be nurses or teachers.  I also don’t think we should push all of them – or most of them – to be doctors or engineers and push the boys to the caring professions.  And I PARTICULARLY don’t think we should shape our YA fiction that way – i.e. telling lies to the young.

And that’s what our YA has been doing.

Sometimes I wonder what future civilizations will think of this psychosis, (then I remember there won’t be any – at least not any adhering to our culture.)  What will they think of 100 lb girls taking out men four times their size in books and movies.  What will they think of all the girls who are great warriors and brilliant engineers while the man are doltish knuckle draggers.

What besides saying “couldn’t they tell reality isn’t like that?”

Which brings us back to Marshall.  Once, when he was in fifth grade, we were shopping together (groceries.  I hate shopping – deal – so I take my kids along as comedy relief.  They hate it too, but they’re funny.)  I don’t remember why I reminded him of his “I want to be a girl moment.”  He looked at me and curled his lip.  “Yeah, I got over it.  I realized it wasn’t real.  There was no relation between girls on TV and in books and real girls.  Most real girls just want to talk about hair and clothes and go shopping.  The fun ones will play space-games, but mostly they just want to treated like they’re a space-princess and rescued and stuff.  I’ve yet to meet one who likes fighting and running.”  (And here, kids – I LIKED fighting and running as a girl.  Of course mostly I played with the boys, markedly increasing my female relatives’ white hair.)

But this is all a fantasy, because once Islam takes over, all the books from our time will be burned.  After all, there’s no need for any reading outside the Koran.

What’s that you say?  Well, it will be Islam or something very similar.  Perhaps a new form of it.

What can’t go on WON’T.  You can’t keep lying to the young.  For one they notice.  For another those who don’t, those who buy the culture lock, stock and barrel don’t reproduce.

If I thought Islamists were half as intelligent as they think they are, I’d assume they were investing in our publishing houses and pushing the crazy feminists, so that when the revolt comes – it will come.  What can’t go on forever won’t – the boys would all be attracted to Islam and the girls all ready to lay down the burden of being disapproved for wanting to do what women want to do – have kids.  Nest.  Have a safe place to retreat to. – that they’d convert in droves.

I don’t think they’re that smart.  BUT I do think a correction will come.  And since it’s not a pendulum but a sort of crashing reckoning with reality, I think it will be terrible and might destroy us.

And no, that’s not what I want.  What I want is Heinlein’s world, with maybe a little more flexibility – he was working for fifties publishers, after all – where, you know, women could be brilliant engineers and work from home while raising six kids (our tech will help with this, too.)  And where men went out and had adventures, but usually in the service of women, children and civilization.  It’s a lesson boys need.

If a little more flexibility is applied, and men can stay home with the kids and not be frowned at, all to the good (though please, G-d, have technology augment their ability to monitor toddlers.)

I want a world where you can be what you want to be, regardless of what’s between your legs and some desiccated woman’s revenge-agenda.

We can have it.  All that’s standing between our world, where we’re turning men anti-social in droves, and making women so neurotic most teen girls I know are on heavy anti-psychotics (wouldn’t you be?  Grrrrrl power, but the men are keeping you down.  How do you even reconcile that?) is giving up on the stupid fantasies of stupid people.

And we might not.  We might not correct in time to save the future.

But I’d like to.  And now that YA doesn’t have to go through NYC, maybe we can.

Perhaps we should, at the very least, try.

How about some boys who are bluff, protective and adventurous?  How about some women who are smart, capable and feminine?

Or how about YAs that have kids that seem real to you, without pushing anyone’s agenda?  Isn’t that worth the trying?

*And we’ll leave for another day the fact that Heinlein’s day YA dealt with revolution, societal organization and other important issues, while ours deals with sparkling vampires.  Mind you considering the wretched preparation – educational and social – we’re giving these kids, and the debt they’ll inherit, perhaps we don’t WANT them to learn revolution.

UPDATE: Credit where it’s due.  The feminist stuff was NOT brought up.  The idea that what is being written now is just as good was… and some of it is.  Some of it appallingly bad, of course.  All in all not a bad panel, but I took issue with the claim that freezing out sf (versus fantasy) is NOT a publisher thing.  At least, I’d like someone to explain my numbers, otherwise.  OTOH — hard sf doesn’t fly with kids, no.  BUT it flies with precious few adults.

370 responses to “A BLAST FROM THE PAST JAN 2012 Blowing Steam — or The Counterfactuals Can Harm You

  1. To our esteemed hostess:

    Take care of yourself. You know the drill, get plenty of rest, drink plenty of fluids.

    Hope you are feeling better real soon. We want you to be well. We want you to be fit to write.

    Oh and we love you.

  2. c4c

  3. The fact is that if you give a boy a Barbie, 9 times out of 10 that barbie will be kung fu fighting the ninja turtles, while the girl’s soldier toy will be having tea parties.

    To which I say: so what? Let the kids play, and let them read whatever the hell they want (I know my kids will have free run of my bookshelves, including Heinlein, Asimov, Lackey, Norton, et al).

    btw, the comment notifier seems to not be working today

    • There weren’t fiction books at home (those were at one set of grandparents’ place) but there were magazines (1960’s & 1970’s Science News, Popular Electronics) and old textbooks left about. I read a mid-1950s version of Modern Chemistry for fun. Later, annoyed at being grounded, I read Elements of Radio to see how I might get around spatial limits. That lead to Basic Television and various other things.

      When I finally encountered science fiction in print (TV & adapted movies were viewed) the ‘hard science fiction’ appealed. It was sort of “We’re almost there but for that piece.” which was more interesting to me than more fantastic stories. Oh, those were good, too, but ‘magic’ being called science was still magic. (Then, my mother has claimed what I take for granted as simple is magic. Well, if I could’t pull something, maybe I could push it, even if I needed to link a couple ssh sessions to do it… alright, maybe not so simple. Possible, however.)

      A “that piece” example? Ponder one chapter of Tales from the White Hart by Clarke and noise cancelling headphones. Identical to the story? No. Similar due to principles? Yup.

      • A lot of “magic” functions scientifically– it’s not a matter of “who you know,” it’s more like either technology or parkour for brains.

        I prefer it that way, but it does make for some minor annoyance when folks insist on psychokinesis being judged by rules designed for enslaving demons.

        • “Magic” that obeys rules at least makes sense in that you know there are some limits and it’s not all “hero(ine) magics problem away” until the next problem. As… silly… as the She-ra cartoon was, one ‘silly’ thing was actually great. Madam Razz’s magic never *quite* worked right. It worked well enough, sure, but in bizarre ways.

    • My siblings and I used to have Barbie capture the My Little Ponies, requiring them to be rescued by the Ninja Turtles.

      I’m sure we worked Transformers in there somewhere.

      • When my two older sons went over to a neighbor’s house to play with the kids, they would line up the other little boy’s sister’s Barbies and execute them with BB guns. They would do the whole movie style firing squad routine…..

        Hilarious now that I remember it. Somewhere I have a VHS tape the father of the other kids gave me a copy of. I’ll have to see if it is still good……

    • Duchess– who is not an especially girly-girl– has been known to declare pillows, shoes, toy cars and at one point her own foot to be “a baby.”

      The little Baron meanwhile has Princess Twilight Sparkle making vroom sounds, and going “choo choo!”

    • I’m not a fan of Gary Trudeu, but some years ago he had a woman explain how she wasn’t raising her boys with gender bias, and have given them dolls to play with. Last panel has a boy pointing a doll at them like a pistol and going “Bang! Bang!.”

      OTOH, it gave me great pause to see a three-year-old girl crouch behind a chair, shape her hands like she was holding a pistol, and pretending to fire in a semi-Weaver stance – and she had come up with that on her on.

  4. You can’t keep lying to the young.

    Makes me think of that father who told his terrified son “they have guns, but we have flowers.”

    • I had to turn that video off in disgust. Lying his ass off to the poor kid, pretending that good intention trumps evil action.

      • The best take on it that I read was that the father was pointing to the symbol of love as if it was the real thing (kind of like Sarah’s post a couple of months ago about magical thought). Flowers aren’t love, sacrifice is love—such as a father sacrificing his time with his family to fight in the military and protect them from evil.

    • The Other Sean

      But with guns, they can always rob the unarmed florist.

    • There are times I’ve wondered if Edward Teller was bullied as a kid and the H-Bomb was his great joke on those would see violence as a good thing in and of itself, “Here, have a weapon… (so powerful you don’t dare actually use it.)” I doubt that is or was the case, but the thought has occurred.

      • L Sprague de Camp wrote a story called “Judgement Day” using that very plot.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          That wasn’t the one where the scientist had a son who was either retarded or autistic, and someone who came to try to talk him out of publishing his work gave the kid a loaded gun, was it?

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            I was think he was talking about the story where the main character had been a victim of bullying as a kid.

            As an adult he become a scientist while being somewhat anti-social.

            He had thought up a process for atomic explosions from iron but wasn’t sure if he should publish because it was too easy for anybody to create nuclear weapons using iron.

            After his house and/or yard was trashed by local kids, he decided to publish as the world deserved to be destroyed.

            • There was another one where a scientist, just about to publish his big discovery of how to predict earthquakes and that one was about to hit his home state, learned this earthquake would hit his high school reunion.

              Told his boss that he had to check some stuff first.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                A much newer one but yes I remember that story. Sadly, I understood the scientist’s action (or lack of action).

      • Having had the privilege hear dr. teller speak on the subject, I think not. He built it to be used. Not for Armageddon but as an alternative to sending thousands of young men off to die or be maimed. What moral leader would send our best young men into a conventional meatgrinder when the problem could be solved in a couple of hours with one life -saver bomb? Some sense of hiumaness in war? Why is it moral to fly over there and stab or shoot the enemy with physical or chemical energy powered weapons but not use a weapon based on atomic energy? not to put words in his mouth, but that was the impression I got. I also got his autograph in my nuclear engineering textbook!

    • scott2harrison

      Were the flowers triffids?

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Unless those are magic bullet-and-bomb-repelling flowers, they aren’t much good against ISIS.

  5. I’ve been told a number of times, by people who one might think know their stuff, that YA hard SF, as you say, is a non-starter. I don’t understand this; as a young teen in the midlate 60s I scraped our local library clean of hard SF in a week or two and then haunted the local MMPB racks until something new came in. Most of my nerd friends did the same thing. I’ll hear an explanation if anyone’s got one. I could write it, I suppose, but the teen heroes would be based on who and what I knew in the late 60s, and that may be the catch.

    • It seems likely to me that the people who edit and publish YA don’t like Hard-SF and therefore do not so readily buy it, nor edit is as carefully, nor promote it as heavily. Therefore it doesn’t sell as much, justifying their reluctance to invest time and money in producing more. Simple feedback loop with prophecies self-fulfilled.

      • And they’re trapped in the “more books for girls/empower/nurture/boys don’t read so why bother/boys are icky” mindset of (many) college lit programs.

    • Asimov wrote a hard-sf YA series. Damned if I can remember the title though.

      I read a lot of YA through Scholastic, but that’s because I was a voracious and premature reader. Of it all, though, I only remember the Danny Dunn books, Silvergberg’s “Revolt on Alpha C,” and Dickson’s “Secret Under the Sea.” One other about treasure divers, pirates and the US Navy in the modern Caribbean.

      That may have saved me, because even in the 60’s and 70’s the schools were pushing the Kumbaya crap, especially once the first generations of draft-dodging “educators” started filtering into the system. But I was reading Ernie Pyle and Richard Tregaskis in the third grade so I wasn’t buying the bullshit. That doesn’t mean I was blind to reality; I had my share of one-on-a-bunch fistfights for being the class nigger-lover and had to literally outrun a mob once when some “adults” tried to suborn perjury against a lefty teacher. Yes, he was a lefty teacher, no I wasn’t going to lie, and that was unacceptable.

        • Reality Observer

          Still have them somewhere (I think). Never cared for them, to be honest.

          Probably because I’d already read “Caves of Steel.” And knew enough astronomy to go “Sirius? Habitable planets?”

          • Perhaps a tidal locked moon orbiting a gas giant, where people only live on the side facing the planet, therefore each ‘day’ has a brief nighttime in the middle of the day for a siesta? (Or did I just culturally appropriate the Hispanic term for nap inappropriately?)

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Part of the problem, IIRC is that stars like Sirius are now thought to be too young to have planets.

              Mind you, Poul Anderson had a story about “mysterious” raiders plaguing a region of space and every nearby system with planets had been checked out.

              As it turns out everybody knew that a nearby giant star couldn’t have planets so nobody checked out to that star. Unfortunately, somehow that giant star had captured several starless planets. The raiders had settled some of the captured planets. [Very Big Grin]

              • In an infinite universe, everything is possible.

                • Not true. For instance, there are an infinite number of even numbers. It is impossible that any of them are odd.

                  • But the size of the negative evens, positive evens, and the union of those too sets is exactly the same. That’s pretty odd.

                    • I once saw a “mathematical” proof that Alexander the Great had an infinite number of arms (I think it was in A Random Walk in Science). Basically, they referenced some incident where he was forewarned of danger, then stepped through:
                      1. Forewarned is fore-armed.
                      2. Four arms is an odd number of arms for someone to have.
                      3. The only number that is both even and odd is infinity.
                      Therefore, …

                    • Actually, the equivalence of countable infinities is a standard topic in undergraduate Real Analysis if not earlier.

                      Basically, the definition of countable is the ability to place a set into one to one correspondence with the natural numbers (1, 2, 3, …). For finite sets this is straight forward and maps to a finite subset of the natural numbers. For infinite sets it requires an algorithm. For the positive even integers it is simple 2 => 1, 4 => 2, etc. Negative even integers is the same with signs reversed.

                      One of the properties of sets is if they can be placed in one to one correspondence they have the same size. Thus, the natural numbers, the positive evens, and the negative evens have the same size. This seems somewhat odd as we’d expect there to be twice as many natural numbers as positive evens as the natural numbers is the union of the positive evens and the positive odds.

                      However, we can also show that all even integers, positive and negative, can be so mapped: 2 => 1, -2 => 2, 4 => 3, -4 => 4, and so on. Thus they are all the same size. As is the union of positive even integers and the set of {-2}.

                      Where it really gets freaky is the rational numbers do the same thing. It’s a bit more complex but it works.

                      However, the irrationals cannot be so mapped and thus are a larger infinite set.

                    • wheels: Have a look at ‘A Stress Analysis of a Strapless Evening Gown and Other Essays for a Scientific Age’ if you can find it. Included within is a chapter with a similar (alright, the same) argument for horses having an infinite number of legs.

                    • Wheels, that’s why the let the philosophers and mathematicians wander around the agora. Send them out for a basket of olives and hours of amusement for the whole city ensued.

                    • An busload containing an infinite number of Mathematicians arrived at the Infinity Inn. The sign read: NO VACANCY. The driver (also a Mathematician) went inside to inquire. The clerk said all their rooms were taken. The driver told him, simple. Move your existing customers to the odd number rooms, and we will take the even number rooms. Problem solved.

                    • Orvan: I’ve read the Stress Analysis book. I liked the diagrams in that article (which I think may also be in Random Walk), having had to do my share of similar diagrams.

                      Richard: I’ve also heard the Infinity Inn joke before, but I hadn’t remembered it. IIRC, there are several (an infinite number of?) variants of it.

                  • Depends on your definition of odd. One of those even numbers is larger than all the rest. That is an ‘odd’ property it shares with no other number.

      • As a kid, I pretty much read “Secret Under the Sea” until it fell apart.

  6. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Elsewhere, somebody asked about a certain type of “erotica”.

    While I forget the exact term, this was erotica where women are being turned into bimbos (ie less intelligent, more sexual desire, wanting to be slaves of men).

    I wondered at the appeal of such “erotica” and wonder if it’s because “intelligent” women are seen as hostile toward men and men see bimbos are their only choice for sex.

    Of course, I wonder how many women read that stuff and see it as an escape from what the “Good Women” want them to be like.

    Maybe I’m reading too much into stuff. [Sad Smile]

    Note, I can’t imagine living with a bimbo. They’d be boring after the sex was finished.

    • Isn’t it mostly women who read erotica? Guess it depends on the genre. But I can definitely see women rebelling against the new “good girl” image the feminists are feeding them by fantasizing about the exact opposite.

    • As I recall, that’s a plot point in several Agatha Christie novels: the beautiful bimbo attracts me, but once the initial infatuation fades, there’s nothing to back it up. The woman with brains, on the other hand, is capable of holding on to her man once she has him.

      • It is also, I’ve always felt, the major issue between Mr. and Mrs. Bennett in Pride and Prejudice: he married her because she was beautiful and vivacious…and then realized after the fact that she was also a total nitwit. And now he was stuck with her.

        (That being said, I did like the slight twist the 2005 film version had where Mr. and Mrs. Bennett actually appeared to be fond of one another, if exasperated with their partner much of the time. Even if it probably wasn’t true to the book relationship, it was nicely done and even convincing.)

        • You get used to people. I dare say it would be great shock to even the book Mr. Bennett if Mrs. Bennett died.

          • Consider, as well, the possibility that Mrs. B was less the nitwit before subjecting her brain to the hormone baths of birthing five daughters.

        • IIRC in Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series we discover that, in book world, Mrs. Bennett is kept stored in the closet when not needed on stage …

        • I always had the impression that Mrs. Bennett in her youth had been a lot like Lydia … and that Mr. Bennett was a tad embittered in his mature understanding, but really enjoyed his smartest daughter …

          • Must. Not. Post. Youtube. Song. Must. Not. Post. Youtube. Song. Must. Not. Post. Youtube. Song.


            Oh, heck! – I dood it.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      It is probably very easy to read too much into pornography.

      Part of the audiance for porn consumes a lot of it. Some become very jaded from such high exposure. It seems more likely that a given bizarre scenario is about exciting the bored than it is a serious vision for a society.

    • Note, I can’t imagine living with a bimbo. They’d be boring after the sex was finished.

      Maybe, but would they be as mind gratingly annoying as the typical modern American woman? More and more “brainless bimbo” and “grrrrrrl power” are the only options on offer.

      Maybe this is behind the rise of sissy porn.

      • The other aspect of this is: Have you ever looked at the “Use By” for the average bimbo? Seriously, anything over the age of twenty-five, thirty, tops, has to be thrown out and replaced with a fresher model. This doesn’t even get into the maintenance and upkeep costs for these ornamental play-toys.

        True beauty in a woman is a combination of physical and mental — go back and look at Barbara Stanwyck —


        That nose is all wrong for the face, the chest is sorta flat, but it just doesn’t matter!

        Intelligence animates a face and stimulates interest.

        • Bimbos, a Rolls Royce, custom Super Yachts- flashy toys with a high initial cost of ownership, but with really high upkeep cost and even higher depreciation.

        • See your Howard Hawks and raise it by one Preston Sturges:

          ‘See anything you like?’

      • “I love a man with a well-hung mind.” is how I’ve seen it put, from the other side as it were, of course.

    • Oh! Bimbiofication! I know that one, not my thing, but I’ve read more than my fair share of it because my thing is transformations (I usually prefer what I’d consider ‘upgrading’, while that sort of thing is seen as ‘downgrading’). It’s not worth reading too much into, but typically the theme is the inaccessibly/excessively stuck up young woman undergoes a series of changes, typically behavioral, often accompanied by a loss of intellect and inhibitions. On occasion there are physical changes as well, so that the woman is left with a more idealized/ unrealistically exaggerated body.

      I don’t see it so much as being based on the notion that intelligent woman are undesirable, it’s more akin to the hypnosis/mind-control fetish, where what makes it appealing is the notion of a person doing something against their will or is the opposite of what they’d typically do. Interestingly enough in the corners of the internet I go for my fix of strange ‘erotica’ the male version of ‘skater boi’ and ‘jock’ transformations are equally popular, where a meek and intelligent young man, often physically unattractive, becomes exaggeratedly masculine and in the process loses a good portion of their intellect and gains an interest in stereotypical ‘jockish’ things.

      …umm, and now that I’ve embarrassed myself by admitting to knowing all this, I might as well further open myself up. If anyone has any questions about this sort of stuff, feel free to ask me. It’s kind of my thing, horrible as it is, but I’ve got an inside perspective on it and I might as offer explanations of what people like about it.

      • Why be embarassed? I’ve pretty much been open about being in an alternative sexual scene. People is what they is and as long as you’re not trying to do it with me or being exceeding graphic in your admissions (which this isn’t…it’s more a “hey, someone asked intellectually about this so I’ll discuss it intellectually because I have some answers).

        Also, I tend to agree with you analysis of “more akin to the hypnosis/mind-control fetish”. Plenty of that skips the “becomes less intelligent” but still has the “slave to sexual passions” aspect that overrides the intelligence when triggered.

        Some fiction even gets some sadistic pump from having the slave to passions character have some degree of awareness of the loss of control.

      • Not really my thing, either, but I have read some of it. I’d only add that, to me, it looks like a fair amount of it also has revenge and/or domination as a theme, where someone is doing it to the main character for their own reasons.

    • They would be boring before and during too.

  7. http://mynorthwest.com/76/2846093/No-boys-allowed-Bainbridge-Island-teacher-imposes-ban-on-popular-activity

    Because nothing encourages respect for other people like lying, punishing people for the “fault” of their birth, and obviously favoring one visibly different group over another.

    “What a maroon,” as that great social critic Bugs Bunny put it.

    • Anyone else just think of a variant of the blue-eye/brown-eye experiment being run too long?

      • They were doing some kind of retrospective on that experiment on PBS the other day. I only caught the part about “the next day when the teacher running the experiment told the kids that she’d lied to them about blue eyes being better than brown eyes, and that brown eyes were actually better.”

        I’m thinking at that point, the lesson of the experiment should be never trust a teacher who runs the blue-eyes, brown-eyes experiment on you.

        • … never trust a teacher who runs the blue-eyes, brown-eyes experiment on you.

          You can trust such teachers as far as you can throw them.

          N.B. – some experimental determination of parameters may be involved. Catapults may be required. JATO/RATO optional.

          • Now that indeed would be a good teacher/student project. They would learn lots of simple machines while building the catapults, and calculating ballistic trajectories would be good math.
            Just don’t let them know where the name comes from… the first one used a cat as a test object, and the poor cat when ‘pult’ when it hit the castle wall.

    • And the real sad thing is that she’ll keep doing it as long as she’s allowed in a classroom. She may learn not to be so open about it after this little episode, but she’s not going to stop.

      • Amazon will deliver pine tar and feathers; what are the parents waiting for?

        • Delivery? (He grumbles as tracking tells him an item is “on the way” and shows significant progress. Yet the USPS tracking number says only “Pre-Shipment Info Sent” – and has for over a week. Expedited shipping, my hoof.)

          • never use the post awful if you can avoid it. use ups or FedEx.

            • Wasn’t my choice, but I will go USPS long, long, long before I will begin to consider pondering DHL. I’ve had no significant issues with USPS, UPS, or FedEx. Of course, none of them have quite the style of ACME.

              • My initial justification for ‘Prime’ was that with 2 day shipping, Amazon always used FedEx or UPS. USPS at the time actually left me a pink slip for a ‘Priority Mail’ shipment. I complained, and the Postmistress from Richmond informed me that in the fine print for priority mail, it was guaranteed to be delivered in 21 days. I wrote the Postmaster General and informed him, were they a private company, they would be tried for fraud and false advertising.
                Now we have the so-called ‘smartpost’ where UPS/FedEx delivers to the nearest Post Office for the final few miles of delivery. Originally, they were again ‘pink slipping’ me. I ignored the slip, told Amazon they had not delivered. Got a replacement the next day. After 21 days, the USPS had to send the package back to Amazon, possibly with an explanation of why it wasn’t delivered. In recent years, they have been reliable (for a limited value of reliable), but I still have to check the mail box, and that is not my front porch.

                • My issue with UPS/FedEx is that I keep needing to train new drivers that leaving a box sitting on the back step, sometimes in the rain, is a Bad Idea, even if this is a sleepy small town where that *usually* is no problem. There is a ‘three season porch’ setup behind the garage (turn around from the back door, there it is, right next to you) that is enclosed, covered, and has a pallet so things left there are off the ground. Almost ideal! And then if they’s just leave any note on the inside door, instead of the outside door advertising to the world….

              • There’s always Livingston Overseas Shipping & Transit…

    • …that is so insane I have no words. Though if I were a parent of *either* boy or girl, I’d yank them out stat. You let a five year old play with what they like. If the girl wants to build castles with legos, great. If she wants to play house with dolls, great. If the boy wants to plays with cars and legos, or play GI Joe with the dolls, let him. The only thing that the teacher ought to be enforcing/encouraging here is a.) courtesy and sharing and b.) letting any child of either gender play with whatever they damn well want to.

      (And again, this one of the many reasons my hypothetical future children will be homeschooled…)

  8. I have ALWAYS loved hard SF. My father was a fan and I’d get HIS books when he was through with them and read them several times over. BTW, I have finished the first three books of your “Darkship” series and eagerly anticipate more! Keep ’em coming.

  9. Personally, I currently own two aprons. One is padded denim so I can hunch over a hot wok and do a stir fry. The other is heavy leather that I wear when blacksmithing or doing torch work.
    Then again, from age 16 until graduation I worked in a bakery where I was required to wear an apron at all times. Oh the humanity.
    As for Islam taking over, they just made a fatal error. They managed to disrupt several soccer matches this last week. Hell hath no fury like that of a European soccer fan denied. Of course blowing up a Russian plane might just have been an error in judgement as well.

    • Yeah, I wore an apron just this morning as I made sourdough crepes. It was one my SAHM sister made me for Christmas a couple of years ago.

      • Yeah – an apron is a tool, not a symbol of oppression!

      • Reality Observer

        Huns in aprons. We should form a group…

        I wear aprons because I truly detest clothes shopping; no matter how cheap they are. Every four or five years, the wife and I perform a little ritual. Walk in to Walmart or CostCo. I pull a couple pairs of likely looking jeans, a shirt or two, take them into a fitting room to try them on.

        “OK, honey, get three more pairs of Brand X in 34 by 32. And a couple more aloha shirts of Brand Y with 15 1/2 inch necks, too, OK?”

        “How do the jeans look on you?” “What? They look like they fit, that’s what they look like.”

        “They don’t have any different colors in these shirts, dear.” “So?” “So I know which ones need washed, honey.” “You wash the ones that are dirty or smell funny, what’s the problem? Let’s get this done, I need a new apron, too.”

        Silence… I just know that she’s staring down the fitting rooms attendant.

        • How about a Hun apron?

          • Reality Observer

            AH! Another product for the store, Sarah!

            It would go right on my birthday list…

          • A Hun apron would be wonderful, provided it was made from the skin of a flayed Socialist Justice Warrior.

            • Too fragile. How can we protect our good clothes with an apron that thin?

                • You think a double layer would suffice?

                  • For cooking, anyway. For blacksmithing, one might need a quadruple layer.

                    • It should be remembered that SJW skin, while extremely thin, has proven itself impervious to logic, reason, facts or sense. It is impermeable to heat and all forms of radiation. Surprisingly durable and flexible it protects the SJW by enclosing it in a hermetically sealed bubble.

                      It is only the extreme sensitivity of the SJW to imagined slights, abrasions and psychic intrusions that cause its thinness to be mistaken for tenderness. Feral SJWs often learn to mimic normal response in order to discourage potential predators from more serious effort.

        • wanderingmuses

          My husband does this!! He once found a bunch of golf shirts (all he wears) on clearance but all they had in his size were white and a dark green with stripes. He bought them all. About 15 white ones and a dozen or so of the other. He’s perfectly happy. As long as they make it to the hamper, I know which ones are dirty.

      • The French Foreign Legion Sappers wear leather aprons, and it’s probably not to keep flour off their uniforms . . .

    • Yes, Islam should have never targeted a Russian plane. Say what you want about Vladimir the Impaler, protecting the Russian people is top priority.
      They also need to worry a little about the French. Apparently WWII showed them with their backs to the wall, and they didn’t like being there. Sad when the future of Western Civilization lies in the hands of the French. Do they have any promising Corsican Generals?

      • I don’t think I’d give Vlad quite as much credit as that. I’d say rather that protecting his own reputation is top priority, and letting ISIS get away with targeting a Russian plane would cause that reputation to take a hit.

        Whatever Czar Vladimir’s motivations are, I tend to agree with what he’s likely to do. But let’s not forget his a cruel SOB, even if he’s going after worse SOBs right now.

        • So… Honor is what you know about yourself and reputation is what others know about you… Right? Or just call it truth and perception. Reputation is what everyone else in the world, your friends, enemies, and neutral neighbors have to use to make decisions about economics or war.

      • During WWII you had Vichy French, and Degaulle and others living it up in exile in Great Britain. But then too you had a very active French resistance sabotaging German logistics, spying on troop movements, and in general being a royal pain in the Nazi rear end.
        In other words, much as we have here, there are the French politicians and then there are the French people. Not at all the same thing I would have to say, any more than our own fearless leader really speaks for a majority of American citizens.

        • Was the French resistance really that active? Can you list a few specific accomplishments, prior to D-Day, that had a significant effect on the outcome of WWII? My limited understanding is: During the war, especially while fighting in France, the allies made advantage of propaganda about the resistance, to encourage Frenchmen to enlist in the forces pushing back the Germans. And since the war the embarrassment about Vichy has resulted in all the French exaggerating the scope and accomplishments of the resistance. As far as I can tell, they were a minor annoyance to the Germans, no more. Rescued a few downed pilots, blew up a few things, important mostly to the people involved. Those that provided intelligence to the allies probably had the most impact, and those were few, and only mattered because thousands stormed the beaches at Normandy; if no D-Day, that spying did nothing.

          • French resistance was real but small. Of course, ineffectual gestures would have been unwise for the little benefit and consequences for the innocent.

            Spying, yes, was the most effective. (Malcolm Muggeridge spent a lot of immediate post-war time running about France shrieking “No, no, no, this guy on trial as a collaborator really was working for us, British intelligence.)

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            IMO the French Resistance has been “over-blown”.

            The life-span of an active Resistance cell was a matter of months.

            The Germans were very good at finding Resistance cells that were causing problems for them.

            An intelligence gathering cell likely did have a longer life-span but the danger for them was in getting the info to the allies.

            Oh, I seem to remember jokes about the number of people who *claimed* to have been members of the French Resistance.

            • Don’t know about the French Resistance, but in the case of the Italian Resistance, they smuggled out Allied airmen. When I think about the French Resistance, though, I also think about the Vichy French, who had no qualms of firing on Allied soldiers on D-Day.

            • Reality Observer

              The thing about “Resistances” (actually just local guerrillas) is that they attack wherever your people are NOT. So you have a lot more soldiers tied up being everywhere. And they typically hate it, taking it out on the locals. Who are less likely to be collaborative.

              La Resistance was, IMHO, about as effective as the Irish harassment of the English – no, there is no way for them to drive the “invaders” out, but they certainly keep them tied in knots.

              • Which may have helped contribute, on some level, to the success of D-Day, by ensuring that German soldiers were tied up elsewhere and couldn’t reinforce Normandy. Though the careful counterintel planning involved in Operation Fortitude had a lot more to do with D-Day’s success.

            • There’s a Sheldon Silverstein cartoon from his trip to Berlin in the very early 60’s. He’s standing at a sidewalk cafe looking at a group of German men with the lock of hair down over the forehead and the little toothbrush mustache, and one of them is saying, “Of course, we were all in the underground…”

            • The life span of can/Resistance cell was measured in months…yet they kept spawning new Resistance cells for four years. Give them credit for that.

      • Europeans remember their history. Right now, I’d guess a lot are remembering Charles Martel.

      • I honestly wonder if the Russians aren’t behind the rise of Islamism in Europe and the current crisis with the refugees and the Paris attacks: not as in that they caused it, but that they foresaw it and positioned themselves in order to take advantage of it.

        When you look at the pattern of events, it follows the old Soviet formula for subversion very closely: demoralization (leftist progressivism in Europe which has brainwashed so many of them with misleading ideals of multi-culturalism and moral relativism), which leads to destabilization (the refugee crisis, the economic collapse in the Eurozone), which leads to crisis (the Paris attacks), which leads to normalization.

        I mean, seriously: how can the SJWs be anything other than useful idiots? Their movement lacks any kind of logic or consistency of any kind: they condemn things like air conditioning and the word “too” for being misogynist while turning a blind eye to the rape, torture, and slavery of women that is promulgated by radical Islam. And god forbid anyone should actually make a connection between these recent terrorist attacks and Islam, even as the attackers themselves scream “Allahu ackbar!” as they mow their victims down.

        Russia has deployed ground troops to Syria now, and they aren’t there to fight ISIS: they’re there to prop up Bashir Al-Assad. Also, it was Russian stonewalling, combined with Obama’s predictable milquetoast half-measures, that turned the Syrian Civil War into the nightmare scenario. If the US or NATO goes into Syria after ISIS now, we will be drawn into a war with the Russians. Full stop.

        The SJWs and Progressives of Europe are nothing more than useful idiots, and someone is using them to bring Europe (and possibly the United States) into a crisis—a crisis driven by ISIS and radical Islam. Who are the ones manipulating these events behind the scenes? I sincerely hope I’m wrong about that, because I would love to take off this tinfoil hat, but what do you do when you’re the only sane one and everyone else is crazy?

        • Correlation is not causation.

          Confluence of events with long hisoey behind them. Yes, the SJWs are the result of a decades long cultural virus implanted by the Soviets. No, it’s not an active, managed plot.

          • I think the Mid-East is like lemons. Obama bit into one (thinking it was dog meat) and now has a sour pucker face. Vlad didn’t grow or pick the lemons, but now that they are laying around, he is going to make lemonade.

        • Russia has had its own problems with Islamic extreamism. (I believe it still has, although we no longer hear so much about it on the news.)

          I doubt that Putin really wants to foster the growth of any religious extremists. He would not fail to recognize that one day such dogs would eventually turn on any outsider who presumed to be their master. In Syria he has put his support behind Assad, not ISIS.

          Putin is more of a long term tactician than most of the leaders we presently have. And, as elsewhere observed, Putin is quite willing to take advantage of the actions taken by the sworn enemies of his enemies.

          • Putin is more of a long term tactician than most of the leaders we presently have.

            I dunno — since he first entered office Obama has been kicking every possible can down the road to 2017.

    • I didn’t read the article, but I caught a headline yesterday that ISIS was claiming that…they blew up the wrong plane. Apparently. Don’t know if this is actually the case, or they somehow thing claiming this is going to somehow make Russia not mad at them…

    • I own two aprons, myself. One is a standard blue-and-white kitchen apron, and the other was made by one of my brothers-in-law, who got good at sewing when he was a parachute packer in the USAF.

      That one makes it look like I’m wearing a tuxedo, bow tie and everything.

  10. The Other Sean

    Remember the pilot for the Galactica remake: “Sooner or later, the day comes when you can’t hide from the things that you’ve done anymore.”

  11. This is exactly why I did a YA book last year – the reworking of the Lone Ranger (only with all the identifiable markings carefully filed away.) My daughter pointed out that there was so very few adventures written for boys. So – why not?
    I think more than half of my mad fans are guys anyway.

    • And now I think of a horse named Argentum.

      • Wayne Blackburn

        That might be fine for a horse, but it would really screw up the song that the snowman sings on “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” after they meet Yukon Cornelius: “Argentum and Aureum” just doesn’t work like “Silver and Gold” does.

      • Hmmm … That may very well work into the next collection of Lone Star Sons stories … the hero, an embryo frontier lawyer and sort-of Republic of Texas secret agent dubbing his wall-eyed pinto horse Argentum….
        Thanks, Orvan … a great idea for a hidden running joke!

  12. First, Why does Sarah apologize for a repeat or no post, and then the Huns go off on tangents for a 100 replies? I know Sarah inspires us, but we always seem to have something to say in any and every event.

    When I was in college, it was observed (at least anecdotally), that the college men dated women from another college. The reason was speculated that men did not like dating a woman more intelligent than they were, and with the admission processes at that time, the women admitted to William and Mary were on the aggregate, more intelligent than the men. This might explain Paul’s erotica fiction, but I would think it fiction. I dated a few women that were considerably less intelligent, and they were boring to be with. I dated a few women that were at least, or more intelligent than I, and they were indeed great to be around, even while driving the car, you had a stimulating conversation. Sex might be great with the bimbo, but at least for me, I spend a lot more time doing other things.

    Another evolutionary pressure, and also why ‘men’ go to war is that, like it or not, you can’t have the next generation without all your women. If you decimate well, more than 1 in 10, say even 1 in 2 of the men, your society can continue. Perhaps this is the source of men protecting women as well. The child bearing ‘burden’ on women is a valuable and necessary part of the future that men can not do themselves. And yes, like my Niece who is 1/2 through her 3rd pregnancy, women become ungainly and find it hard be out fleet of foot, chasing deer and mammoths. They can still contribute to the gathering part, and that is what ‘community’ is really about. Each helping in the manner they can.

    Modern advances in medicine are wonderful, perhaps more so for women than men, at least the reproductive advances. Women can avoid unwanted pregnancy, and their ‘window’ of allowable age for child-bearing has expanded. What is there not to like? Yep, even muscle building and steroids can bulk a woman up to have the strength of a man, but as Sarah mentioned, they usually loose their reproductive ability. I know in one Heinlein story, the women ‘manned’ the homeland missile security shield, because after all, a woman can guide a missile as well as a man.

    Women should be treated equally with men, but women are not men. The man hating of modern society is pernicious and vile. You go from one article calling all men rapist to the next demanding they ‘man up’ and marry and support a wife. Perhaps our society needs to concentrate on making sure men are treated equally with women. Unlike the wealth of nations pie, this one actually is something of a zero sum game. Push women into STEM, push men into their Mother’s basement. This is not the most productive utilization of our human ‘resources’ (although I hate that term. People are not like corn or iron.)

    I guess the first question is ‘How did we get here today?’ and next, while we don’t want to go back to the 50’s, ‘How do we get from here to a place of true equality?’
    I don’t know the answer, but I’m sure our Science Fiction writers can provide some attractive alternatives… but they must not be used as instruction manuals as Orwell’s writings seem to be.

    • I suspect a major reason for college men dating women from another college was the women at their own college were too familiar to the guys. Kinda like taking your sister to the dance. Women from other colleges would be superficially more exotic and thus more interesting. As well, their being at other colleges meant more of an effort was required to “date” and we all know that the more effort invested in a goal, the more valued the result.

      Of course, women from other colleges would be less likely to dissect a guy with their friends, easier to “score” with (long car rides to pick them up and return them home offer interesting opportunities for exercising skills of certain types), more generally seen under favorable circumstances (e.g., wearing make-up and nice clothes) and a variety of other advantages.

    • “First, Why does Sarah apologize for a repeat or no post, and then the Huns go off on tangents for a 100 replies?”

      Supersaturated solutions crystallize readily.

      And even as a kid I was bewildered by the “we need to let the pendulum swing the other way for a while” argument. Did these people never look at a pendulum? It doesn’t swing one way, then the other, then immediately stop. And especially if not if it’s being tampered with and energy (possibly even in resonance) added to the system. Things can then go positive feedback which means either strong oscillation or things flying apart. I didn’t know the term “critical damping” then, but I knew that’s what was called for if you truly wanted a mess to end, rather than adding a vengeance factor in the name of (false) fairness.

      • I understand that pendulum swings in a chaotic attractor closely resembling periodic movement. I remember in Physics class the equations of motion; however Physicists are always using tricks and this one was Sin(a)=a for small angles, measured in radians.

        The supersaturated solution answer makes sense. Perhaps one day we can get her just to post:
        “Unicorn farts”
        and see where it goes from there 🙂

    • Reality Observer

      This is one of those odd little nooks in the webs where people wander by, wave at the hostess (or just leave a note), and join the party that’s going on. Good thing it’s a really big virtual house (well, it has to be, with the dragons coming and going all the time). You do have to accept the occasional flying fish as part of the atmospherics…

      • and dragons hanging out, and brownies doing the housekeeping and an aardvark and doors opening in interesting directions and a sea serpent in the minion pool, with its gold. . . .

      • Um, yeah, I’ve been meaning to remind folks . . . Please don’t ask Fluffy to light the candles on a cake, even as a joke. I know we always have back-up baked goods, but please. Especially when the weather is changing and allergy season is still hanging on. Please?

        • And especially not if it’s a dynamite cake.

        • Der flammenweffernlizard sneezt ist? Gezundheiaaaaaaaay!

        • What if we put the candles in the batter; can Fluffy insta-bake the cake and light the candles simultaneously?

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Darkoveran Proverb “It’s possible to get a dragon to cook your meat, but it’s not well done”.

            You really won’t like the results of asking Fluffy or any other dragon to cook. [Evil Dragon Grin]

            • The Other Sean

              Everyone knows you don’t ask the dragon to cook, you cook the dragon. Given that they’re often tough old birds, though, it is generally suggested that they be stewed or braised, or at least heavily marinated.

              • Admittedly not politic around here, but I do have a t-shirt, from a renfaire, which reads ‘DRAGON The other white meat.” This was purchased after a visit to Anthrocon and a couple dragon types on an elevator went on and on about being at the very top of the food chain. Thus when I when I saw that shirt, it simply had to be done.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  Do you know that all Recipes for Dragon Meat start with “First kill the Dragon”?

                  Of course, very very few would-be cookers of Dragon Meat survive that step. [Very Very Big Dragon Grin]

                  Note, most Dragons also know that hunting Humans is not a long-term profession.

                  Humans are very unsporting about being the prey.

                  They never go one-on-one with Dragons.

                  They always arrange to have plenty of support when defending themselves against Dragons. [Wink]

                  • *wry* Ever read the Lord Peter Wimsey books?

                    The one from the lady’s POV– where she goes back to her old college– has a scene I really can’t do justice to, where she rips a swath of hide off a young guy who keeps describing the young, female, idiot as being “a sport.”

                    Given the time and place, “idiot” may be a bit mild…..

                    • Gaudy Night. Harriet Vane.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Well… I found that scene.

                      It wasn’t about the idiot girl being a “sport”.

                      It was about “being a sport” as in approving and going alone with stupid college “boy” games.

                      The boy wanted Harriet to *not report* them in terms of Harriet “being a sport”.

                      Part of Harriet’s lecture was about him being a gentlemen not being a sport.

                      “Being a sport” meant getting a foolish girl to break the rules and getting the girl extremely drunk.

                      Note to others, Harriet had caught the boy trying to sneak the drunk girl back into the enclosed girl school.

                      The girl would have been in big trouble if she had be caught sneaking back in the school while very drunk.

                      He would have been in much trouble even though he encouraged the girl to “break the rules and get drunk”.

                      Mind you, I seem to remember that the boy took Harriet’s lecture to heart.

                    • That’s the one!

                      Doing something stupid that aligns with what the other person wants=> being a sport.

                  • Note that I have no recipes that call for dragon – though I might have a couple cocktail recipes named after dragons. I do suspect that sending someone (note: one) out to slay a dragon is not about slaying any dragon, but about disposing of braggarts and imbeciles. If such a person is smart enough to simply run away and not return, well,the problem is still solved at least locally.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Chuckle Chuckle

                      I remember reading Barbara Hambly’s Dragonsbane.

                      In it a young bookish Prince seeks out the only living man who has killed a dragon because his kingdom has a major dragon problem.

                      The young Prince is shocked to learn just how the Dragonsbane had earlier killed the dragon.

                      No glorious battle just feeding the dragon poisoned meat. [Very Big Grin]

                  • Dragons are very unsporting about being hunters. They always insist that humans go one-on-one with them and try to cut them off from their support. Yet they do not forgo their own advantages, such as wings and fiery breath.

        • Since Fluffy-mucus is basically napalm, I see your point.

    • Another evolutionary pressure, and also why ‘men’ go to war is that, like it or not, you can’t have the next generation without all your women. If you decimate well, more than 1 in 10, say even 1 in 2 of the men, your society can continue. Perhaps this is the source of men protecting women as well.

      There’s also the way that….well, if men and women were MMO classes, men would tend to be tanks and women would tend to be healers.

      If a guy can take fifteen hits and survive, and a woman can only take 10 and survive, then only an idiot would have the woman defending- because it’s best if they’re both there, and the guy has a better chance of survival.

      • Evolutionary pressure can be a strange bedfellow.
        I understand the reason female lions are the hunters is that only the males are mean enough to protect the cubs (kittens?) from predators. Now, admittedly, the only predators may be other lion prides, but that the way it started and still is today. On the other hand, human women are clever and vicious enough to protect their young quite well. (And need to get the men out of the cave so they can sweep the carpet.)

        • Generally, the things that are explained by ‘evolutionary pressure’ would be better served, in a conversation like this, being left without being explained.

          Too much interpretation of the data, makes it too likely that assumptions will come in and not be noticed.

          • Well, with humans, you can attribute it to ‘cultural pressure’ since I think humans are actually devolving.
            There is a fine line between ‘just like my father and grandfather did before me’ and ‘throw away all that old and embrace the new’. The former is usually pro-survival the latter may increase the survival percentage, but may also drastically lower it. Western Civilization may indeed be the construct of dead white males, but no one can deny the success of their culture, if only in killing and destroying their rivals. Kind of like bonobo culture. Initial assumptions was a wonderful matriarchal hierarchy with sex as a lubricant. Reality is a male hunter hierarchy that is the most efficient use of energy expended for protein gained on the planet, sex as a lubricant for sharing the kill, and the male hunters get their skills from killing the tribe next door to expand territory. Culture or evolution. I understand bonobo DNA is even closer to human than chimpanzee DNA.

            • <I<Reality is a male hunter hierarchy that is the most efficient use of energy expended for protein gained on the planet, sex as a lubricant for sharing the kill, and the male hunters get their skills from killing the tribe next door to expand territory.

              It’s a different theory, but has its own set of assumptions. Is a good example, though.

    • First, Why does Sarah apologize for a repeat or no post, and then the Huns go off on tangents for a 100 replies?

      Make that 250 replies and counting …

      Our esteemed hostess is not only driven to write, she feels an obligation to do. She apologizes because that is part and parcel with who she is.

      • I strongly suspect that were one to graph the replies/comments here it would reveal there is greater clustering around sorta kinda the topic with a new post, with more diffuse responses on a repeat and extreme tangents on an “open post” day. Sarah’s lack of focus becomes reflected in the comments.

        Admittedly, on any average day I doubt more than 70% of comments are even 50% relevant* to the post.

        *For very broad values of relevant.

  13. “this is the “revenge” for the times when “the boys got to have all the adventures.””

    Well, yes, it’s revenge. In the sense where a father goes home annoyed with his female boss and beats his daughter in revenge.

  14. Reality Observer

    Oh, my. I’ve read only the first (well, second) paragraph so far, and had to thank you, you wonderful lady! Sleep well, get better, come back NOT before you are truly able.

    I have a severe phobia of pressure cookers too – hey, we have to have something for which there is no specific name, don’t we?

    The family has a great deal of amusement when I hold a cookie sheet between my face and the stove when the wife is using her cooker… Yes, really.

    • I think my mother got rid of the pressure cooker the instant she was able to, the cooker being both ancient and cheap, therefore quite suspect. I never cared for it, partly for what it was and partly as it usually meant sauerkraut somehow (RL ancestry is German on both sides, but that doesn’t mean I like sauerkraut.).

      Also, I am reminded of the Flanders and Swan tune, Too Many Cookers: “A kitchen on the modern plan may be a fancy looker, but we’ve jumped out of the frying pan – and into the pressure cooker.”

      • Reality Observer

        German heritage here, too – and can’t stand sauerkraut either. Irish, and can’t deal with corned beef.

        Actually, come to think of it, I mostly eat stuff I don’t have the genes for (so far as I know, anyway). Italian, Tex-Mex, Polish…

        • Do you have access to beef?

          Then OF COURSE you can’t stand corned beef! Your Irish blood is screaming at the idea of eating the CHEAP version of the good stuff, at a price higher than the good stuff!

          The awesome thing about corned beef is that it is beef.

          (Suburbanbanshee, help me here– can you explain the whole Irish-and-cows thing?)

          Corned beef is poor people food– but it’s better than potatoes. My mom grew up on spam, but she by goodness didn’t eat CORNED BEEF. They had a SIDE OF BEEF in the wellhouse! (And every Sunday, mom was *allowed* to go out, shave off the fuzz, and cut that Sunday’s dinner off. This wasn’t a matter of poverty, that’s a matter of BFN food preservation, one step above corning.)

        • My one regret over moving to Texas: you can NOT get decent pastrami here. Much too bland.

    • The Other Sean

      So you can take spalling damage, too?

    • Mother had one blow the pressure relief valve. I understand she was cleaning cabbage off the kitchen ceiling for the next month.

      • Good thing she wasn’t standing near it.

      • When the belt broke on Momma’s Sunbeam Mixer while she was making gingerbread the entire kitchen, including the ceiling, was rendered molasses colored. It was only years later when a leak in a pipe resulted in the ceiling coming down that we got rid of the final reminders of that incident.

  15. It has been quite some time, decades, probably, since I recall people (educators, publishers, producers of television programming, parent activists — I s’pose they qualify as people, even though I do have some doubts) observing/commenting/lamenting the fact that boys and girls were different in one very significant way: girls would watch or read stuff with boy main characters while boys had no, none, nada, zero, zilch interest in stuff with girls as the lead characters.

    This meant that of you wanted to tap into the boy-side of the market and not just settle for the girls buying your stuff, you had to write Harry Potter, even if you could have cranked out essentially the same thing and called it Hermione Granger. This was viewed as a “serious problem” with boys.

    Few then and fewer now seem able to articulate what the real basis of the “problem” is — far more than femininity, masculinity is learned, is indeed a social construct. Girls grow up, develop observable secondary sexual attributes and make babies; in many societies a female is not recognized as a full adult until she has become a mother; even in our own culture the social status of mothers/non-mothers differ, with some very vicious battles between the two.

    Women are largely defined by what they are; men are defined by what they do, and how they do it. Older societies had severe rites of passage from boyhood into manhood, tests of strength, of skill, of endurance, of character. Being a man — a mensch — is largely a matter of character in almost every culture.

    Girls see “womanhood” modeled daily while growing up; “manhood” is less visible, if only because it is enacted outside the home, outside the village, out of view. We see this problem in fatherless households, homes where boys have to form their own definitions of masculinity through the rough expedient of “not feminine.” And we can see that such definitions are toxic.

    Is this desirable? is it equitable? Is it FAIR? Maybe not, but it is. It is the result of millennia of evolution (you do believe in evolution, don’t you?) and our choice is to work within it, building social structures that follow the grain of humanity or to fight against it and destroy people in an effort to force human nature into a different stream. You might as well ask whether it is fair to build bridges of oak instead of pine.

    • “masculinity is learned, is indeed a social construct” – exactly why organizations like Boy Scouts were created. Pressures to feminize such organizations, and to eliminate boys-together play spaces, harm both the boys who could learn from them and society as a whole.

      • Studies have shown that “rough-housing’ is essential to boys’ social development, teaching them to manage and control their physical strength. There is also the fact that boys develop large muscles groups before fine-motor while girls’ fine-motor skills develop first. This is why girls sit quietly more readily and generally have better penmanship at younger ages.

        I completely agree on the reason for the Boy Scouts and similar organizations, and the damage down by making them “open” organizations, something typically achieved by eliminating those activities best loved of the boys.

        • The Wiggle is only one, and he’s already learning that lesson from his daddy. He’s strong for his size and big for his age. About the only thing we can’t get him to stop pounding on is mom’s cat. (who, truth be told is rather large and sturdy himself and by and large puts up with it until it does get too hard. He hasn’t scratched the Wiggle yet, but I’m anticipating it when the Wiggle gets older.) He plays much less roughly with me than he does with the hubby.

      • Take the model of what masculinity away, and boys will usually fall into one of the extremes- self focused, sissified cringing little pajama boys, or sociopathic, misogynistic hyper thugs.
        The Feminist Left may think that #1 is a desired result… I’ll let the ladies post just what they think of cringing little pajama boys.

    • The parenting roles are/can be different as well. Typically the Mother is a nurturing protecting comforting person, making the child a home and safe haven. The Father’s role is to introduce the child to danger and the outside world. Mother’s protect, Fathers encourage risk. Can’t live in the world as a healthy person without both. Kind of a ying/yang thing, your home is for protection when the cruel outside world is just too much. (exactly why is too racist?) Now, these role models aren’t totally constrained by sex. Look at all the wonderful Military families where the Mother is on her own during deployment. But, even there, ideally, they have the support of other Military families and gratitude and unstinting support of our Federal Government. (O.K. that last is a little of a stretch.)

  16. Also that women athletes, who run miles every day often stop ovulating.

    I guess that’s why Olympic decathlon winner Caitlyn Jenner had to have her lesbian lovers bear the children when she wanted a family? She probably never ovulated after competing against men like she did.

    (ducks and covers)

    • The Other Sean

      LOL!

    • OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHJHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH, you make me so MAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDDDDDDDDDD that all I can do is laugh my ass off (it being bigger that I’d prefer) so thank you muchly! Good on ya! And stuff like that.

    • Thank you so much for being the one to say that, because if you hadn’t I probably would have said something far worse.

      Of course now that it’s been said, wouldn’t Caitlyn Jenner and other women like her technically be the kind of role models that young girls are being pressured to emulate?

      • No, Caitlyn Jenner is Republican; no such woman can be permitted to be a role model for young girls to emulate lest they be tempted to act as individuals or, even worse, think for themselves.

        • Oh dear, poor Caitlyn! Hasn’t anyone told her that Republicans are all old, straight, white men?

        • Am I the only one to notice that ‘Bruce’ is easier to spell than ‘Caitlyn’? (and doesn’t red flag the spell checker)

          • My aunt Connie got her first checking account and used the name Constance. To her consternation her mother had her change the account setup and get new checks printed as her name was, indeed, Connie.

            • My Dad is like that. Danny, not Daniel. And my Aunt is Peggy not Margaret. I was told by my Grandmother that my Dad was named after the horse and my Aunt after the cow. Her next child was named Kerry (after the Irish county) and called Bucky. Finally, she gave into my Grandfather and named her last-born Alvah Jr. And then called him Jimmy. His marriage license says Jimmy. The first time I called him Uncle Alvie in front of his Wife’s family, they didn’t know who I was talking to.

    • Damn it! Shooting water out your nose is *not!* a pleasant experience!

  17. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    Sarah raises an import point here:
    “We teased him that he would be knee-deep in girls in that class. Both boys looked at us like we were nutbars. They’re knee deep in girls in EVERY class. These are stem classes, and boys are maybe ¼ the class, at best.

    I’d guessed it was somewhat like that – I’ve seen our friends’ SONS fall by the wayside since middle school, while their SISTERS, not notably more endowed with brains than themselves, had As. I’ve seen my own kids’ classes. It’s not just that the teaching style, the demands on timeliness, putting tab A in slot B etc are far more suited to girls learning styles, it’s that many of the teachers – almost all female – have an ax to grind, and their ax ALWAYS grinds on the boy side.

    But I didn’t realize that college ratios in stem were that out of whack, too.”
    The problem is that the emasculation of men in general has CONSEQUENCES. As does the reliance on credentials rather than ability. These consequences are not going to be pretty.

  18. I was terrified of the d*mn pressure cooker, because there were stories of people getting their faces blown up in them, and I’d run across the patio when mom brought it out, set it in the middle of the patio and opened the steam valve and let the steam escape, before she opened the pot.

    You could hear that thing whistle a mile away, like an oncoming train.

    That’s sort of what I’m doing today.

    A con is a social situation and a wise man taught me that only a fool or a sadist tells the truth in social situations. My blog on the other hand is my blog, and if you guys aren’t used to the steam by now, I’ll eat my hat.

    Depending on the type of hat, 20 minutes in the pressure cooker might render it edible.
    Take care, rest, fluids, and lots of garlic. (An apple a day keeps the doctor away, but a garlic a day keeps everyone away.)

  19. … the mother of all sinus infections

    That is more commonly called a hangover; it frequently afflicts the elderly on the day after their celebration of their birth.

    • Only fair. We have to drink more to celebrate each extra year.

    • Not elderly and had no alchol, not even a beer. Sniffle.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Of course, you’re not elderly. You’re younger than me and I’m NOT elderly. [Although my knees might be elderly.]

      • Wayne Blackburn

        Oh, my. You are sick. He was doing the equivalent of jumping up and down, shouting “Neener, neener, you can’t hit me!” downrange from the carpapult, and you only corrected his statement instead of thumping him.

      • When you are well enough, perhaps a Sweater Weather Cocktail if you have the ingredients for it (and can tolerate them). I suspect one can forego the ice and turn it into quite good Hot Toddy. It does seem like desperately wants to be one.

        • Note that 1) it has no moderator to speak of (beyond ginger syrup and lemon juice) and 2) I am (only) on my second right now… thus are dropped words explained. Were it my third or fourth I would either not be posting at all, or would be in paranoia of care territory and be better at editing before hitting ‘Post Comment’. Fifth? No. Even dumb ox not THAT dumb. Don’t like “talking to Ralph on the big white phone” or The Day After.

  20. BTW, obviously I’m back from hospital, having had the defibrillator wiring replaced. Note: I don’t care if it’s cheaper, never buy the Lucas wiring harness.

  21. Even women who are married (and a lot of our high achievers don’t have time for that, or lack the courage to buck the establishment) among our best performers, will rarely have kids or many kids.

    Ya know, my OBGYN said this to me back in the day. We struggled with primary infertility and my OB said that her patients who worked outside the home had a lot more trouble with that than SAH women. I wasn’t in any high-powered kind of position, but it was demanding enough for me, managerial work in in-house programming. By the time our first surviving child came along, I was 35. It really cuts down on your reproductive potential …

  22. Hmm, thinking about the whole situation where girls aren’t really allowed to be girls, that could explain a trend in the ‘romance’ fics I’ve encountered on the few female dominated corners of the internet I go to. It’s a thing called yaoi (an acronym, that I kid you not, roughly translates to ‘no climax, no resolution, no plot’), and what it basically comes down to is a romance story between two male characters. The thing is, the characters never act like men in yaoi, they act like teenage girls and seem to act out the fantasies that are typical of teenage girls. The stronger, more dominant of the characters typically rescues the smaller, weaker, of the pair in one way or another, protects them from cartoonishly dire threats and they stay focused on the petty little things that a young girl would care about, no matter what their backgrounds are supposed to be. Basically if one of the pair were a woman (or a teenage girl) it would read like a typical teen girl’s fantasies of finding an impossibly perfect guy who does all the right things in all the right ways.

    To me it feels like these girls (it’s always girls writing this sort of thing) want to write about women (or even lesbians), but are so unable to write about women that they instead write about characters who are women in every aspect except the fiddly bits. It feels like they’re idealizing themselves as men and that strikes me as a terribly unhealthy thing to do.

    • I’ve talked with some of those folks, and apparently they’re into it because they’re into all of the parts involved, instead of just half of them (or none of them).
      I’m not particularly enthused by the phenomenon, particularly when it’s fanfiction, but it’s not quite as dire a picture as you’re painting.

    • I think that’s the English term Slash. I can’t stand regular romance but I love slash. I even like the sub-genre called crack: where you have the most unbelievable most ooc pairings possible and sometimes it works.

      Sinestro is usually a psychotic sadist ex-Green Lantern who founded his own corps based on fear.

      I’ve been enjoying a fic called:Become As Coal by AuroraExecution & w3djyt
      It’s mostly porn but with romance embedded. The pairing is: Thaal Sinestro/Hal Jordan. I really don’t like reading about women in romances. They’re either vapid or depressingly perfect. In reading slash you are reading about men but more romantic.

      • Th thing is, in a lot of the fics I’ve encountered the characters are only outwardly men. Everything they think, say and do (aside from the basic mechanics) is utterly feminine, almost to the point of parody, except it’s not parody. It doesn’t feel like I’m reading about men because there’s nothing inherently masculine about any of the characters.

        It’s something that only happens when girls are the ones doing the writing. When the person writing it is a guy the stuff that creeps me out is totally absent and I can enjoy the story, but if the writer is a girl I can’t shake the feeling that I’m actually reading about a pair of girls and exceptionally petty ones at that.

        Then again it could be more of a statement of the fandoms I frequent and the inability of the people writing fics to imagine characters drastically different from them.

        • These things tend to vary by fandom, I’m told.

          The important distinction between yaoi and slash is that slash was invented by extremely feminist women in the Sixties in coordination with women who really liked to fantasize about more than one guy at a time. The desired storyline was of a love not affected by “power dynamics” and thus supposedly more equal. (Because girls are weak and powerless, or they have to struggle!)

          Meanwhile, yaoi was invented by Japanese schoolgirls and young women who were familiar with Japan’s history of older men going around with younger boys, particularly in times when women were sequestered or only married in political marriages, and when many samurai couldn’t afford to support a wife and kids. Their desired love was all about one guy being dominant over the other guy, although sometimes this manifests in culturally driven ways that Westerners don’t get. The desired appearance was the historically womanish way that these boys dressed, except they often made the older man look that way instead of the younger one. This was thought by some young girls to be a less threatening way of exploring romance, because they didn’t have to picture it happening to them or to another girl (A rival! Grr!) and yet they could enjoy romantic male characters. (And to be fair, Japan’s societal norms on romance and marriage are not always fun, so nerves might be appropriate.)

          At this time, I don’t know whether it’s easy to distinguish yaoi and slash from each other, though. There’s been a lot of cultural blending, and most US fanfic writers (even those who write in anime fandoms) could care less what is going on in Japanese fanfic circles. But I would say that my impression is that the Japanese “young girls who are scared of picturing themselves having a romance” has turned into “young girls who are too jaded to picture themselves having true love.”

          Shrug. I don’t read it, so it’s probably not a fair impression.

          • Your analysis of yaoi matches up with what I’ve observed in these sorts of stories over the years. or at least how it used to be. The power dynamics and behaviors shown by both halves of the pairing, especially the dominant/submissive aspect, used to be a lot more prevalent. In that I can see the element of safety being a key factor. Interestingly enough in what I’ve been seeing lately that tends to show up more in what guys are writing now. With what girls are writing it seems that there’s a trend towards increasing feminization for all characters involved.

            It bugs me to see male characters acting as female substitutes because if I’m going to be fantasizing about guys I want them to read like actual guys. I suppose it could be said that I want to be reading about manly guys doing manly things (which given the situation may very well be each other).

            And thank you for informing me of the history of slash. Very interesting to learn what I suspected all along. It’s such a shame that there are women out there who can’t imagine that men and women can be equal in a relationship.

        • Could be the fandom and also the writing ability of the author. In my experience 95% of slash is written by women. It may be different for yaoi.

          • The Other Sean

            Femslash, OTOH, seems to mostly come from male authors, especially with respect to fanfic. Most Tasha Yar/Deanna Troi or Beverly Crusher/Deanna Troi stories I saw popup on UseNet back in the middle 90’s were by authors with male names.

        • On a similar note, I read once that most of the female characters on prime time have sex lives very similar to that of homosexual men. And the theory behind that is most of the writers are homosexual men.

        • SheSellsSeashells

          I am into fanfiction in general, for lots of reasons (more of stuff I already like, some of it’s REALLY REALLY good, and it’s hellaciously fun to analyze). I can see the appeal of slash in the abstract, but the simpering that it tends to show in the concrete leads to far too much temptation to fling my Kindle across the room, so I don’t read it. 🙂 I’ve read a few damn good ones here and there, but I don’t touch it unless it comes recommended.

      • I’ll confess a few years back, before indie, when romance went all politically correct, I went through a streak of reading these because there was no “empowered woman crap.” I flipped over the sex, as I always do. Yeah, a lot of them these aren’t real men, but a few are actually quite good.

        • I’m not going to argue that. I’ve had more than my share fun reading stories of that sort. Heck, there’s one I’m reading right now that has me on the edge of my seat because if I ignore the sex the plot is super tight and all the characters are actually acting in ways that don’t make me want to smack them upside the head.

  23. I think the “feminist movement” is a reaction (often not based on logic and often counter productive) to the change from Hunter/gatherer and the early agricultural societies to modern jobs. In either society, there were very productive, necessary jobs that could be performed with multiple children in tow while pregnant.

    But with the advent of modern farming, and the move to cities and factory job, suddenly children were a burden that had to be shifted to someone else, otherwise the mother was very limited in what they could do to contribute to the family in money or food.

    I keep hoping that the internet will shift that again, making children less of a burden, even if they’ll never go back to the time when children were minimal burdens as babies and assets by five years old. Telecommuting with a bored child around, who can’t help pick berries, collect eggs, or open gates for the cows dad is herding, is a disruption to work.

    I don’t think the new crop of Feminists realize that what’s bothering them is that we’ve completely lost something that we evolved to enjoy. They strike out, blaming men, children, employers . . . miserable and unhappy.

    Or child-free and happy. With birth control, children are much more of a conscious decision, rather than just happening. So the evolutionary pressure now is toward women who actively want children. Or, of course, toward women who like getting minimum wage from Uncle Sam for having children.

    I’m almost sorry I won’t be around in ten generations to see what we’ve done to ourselves.

    • Traditionally, farming depended on the women’s contributions (“butter ‘n’ egg” money) to provide cash flow while the main crop tied up major capital. Each contribution was essential to the farm’s operation.

      • And canning for the winter, butter and cheese making, turning chicks into chicken dinners on a regular basis. All with a toddler clutching, a five year old dashing, and another on the way. Sewing , washing, cooking. And earlier, weaving, spinning, and knitting.

      • A little more complicated, in that men took other jobs for that same purpose. Hence one great-grandfather also made cabinets and caskets; one grandfather cut timber on the side, and another tanned leather, was a horse and mule vet, and ran a store. All this was in addition to farming.

        Women and girls were in the fields for some tasks, too, so the division wasn’t strictly housework/farming. Considering that housework included using cast iron cookware, boiling clothes in a wash pot, and cooking on a hearth or wood stove, it wasn’t what we’d consider light duty. It was, however, light duty compared to the upper body strength required for some chores. Once my father took me down a notch by having us cut up some fallen black walnut with a crosscut saw. And I realized he had done this from sun up to sun down for weeks to make extra money. And that arguably wasn’t the most strenuous job a man had to do on the farm.

        But yes, both had to contribute to make the farm work. It’s worth noting that one grandfather had to drop out of school to help support the family when his father died. My father’s mother had learned enough veterinary medicine to make money on the side, and they had the store, so while it was rough it wasn’t the same sort of hardship. But for some of the field work, she was out there just like most other women in the day.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        My poor child has suffered through innumerable lessons on “here’s what the women were ACTUALLY contributing while books tell you they were being oppressed and/or pampered.” And don’t get me started on the Oppressed by Embroidery trope; tapestries are damn useful when you live inside uninsulated stone walls.

    • Of course five year olds are assets… You hand them your smart phone and say ‘fix this’. You tell them what movie you want to watch and they download it from Netflix to their XBox. (O.K. perhaps they are not that good until age 7.)

      • Mine folds socks.

        She’s also tutored her two year old brother so he can count to 20 by ones, knows his ABCs and the sounds they make (although sometimes conflates C with S) and can lot into the Kid profile on any Windows 10 computer and three different tablet platforms.

    • I did pretty well at working while teaching kid.

      • Yeah, but by that age, shouldn’t he have been out hunting mammoth with his dad?

        Writing at home is an ideal career for an involved mother. Even with a deadline, the daily stuff can be interrupted. Necessary parenting tasks can be scheduled for the mother’s convenience, not her boss’s. Even so, the infant through kindergarten years are either chaotic or involve expensive daycare or a nearby relative.

  24. So sorry to hear you got a sinus infection. What a lousy birthday present! Prayers for a quick recovery.
    Also, I re-read Podkayne about a year ago, and the bit at the end where the uncle chews out Poddy’s parents, especially her mom, for failing in their parental responsibilities…. that part would certainly make feminists’ heads explode. The nerve of the man for pointing out that mothering is “more important” than the work Poddy’s mom had done instead!

    • Here’s the quote:
      “But I have a message for you, sir, one that you should pass on to your wife. Just this: people who will not take the trouble to raise children should not have them. You with your nose always in a book, your wife gallivanting off God knows where – between you, your daughter was almost killed. No credit to either of you that she wasn’t. Just blind luck. You should tell your wife, sir, that building bridges and space stations and such gadgets is all very well… but that a woman has more important work to do.”

      • A heretical thought for Heinlein’s time, that a woman could build bridges and space stations.

        And fore-thinking, that this sort of career would involve serious conflicts with parenting.

      • I read somewhere in an interview with Heinlein shortly before he died, that Poddy did die. The editors would not stand for it. In Farmer in the Sky, Bill’s bratty stepsister did die when the power went out because she could not adapt to low pressure. He was neither being cruel nor evil. Being a pioneer has danger, and raising children requries some balance. In both stories, he wanted to show that – and peope were more likely to notice if a female character died.

        • … peope [SIC] were more likely to notice if a female character died.

          That proves it! Heinlein was SEXISSSSSSSS, killing female characters for the male gaze, for instructional benefit of males.

        • I have a new reprint with both endings… Found it. From Baen, of course. The only difference in the Postlude (is that really a word?) which has the edits marked. The quote from above:
          “But I have a message for you, sir, one that you should pass on to your wife. Just this: people who will not take the trouble to raise children should not have them. You with your nose always in a book, your wife gallivanting off God knows where between you, your daughter was almost killed. No credit to either of you that she wasn’t. Just blind luck. You should tell your wife, sir, that building bridges and space stations and such gadgets is all very well… but that a woman has more important work to do.”
          followed by
          “I tried to suggest this to you years ago … and was told to mind my own business. Now I am saying it. Your daughter is beyond our help but Clark, perhaps, is not.”

    • because the feminist ideal is a childless GUY. Yeah.

  25. Sorry about your cold. A family remedy for congestion is salmon and grits. Canned salmon with some onion cooked as a sort of sauce, spooned over a serving of hot grits, and flavored to taste with red and black pepper. The combination of heat, moisture, and spices can give temporary relief. Unfortunately, it ends pretty soon after the meal.

    • Mine involves 2 or 3 alarm chili; same principle.

    • The Other Sean

      My remedy is usually either Indian food or Cajun food. Taco Bell has been known to suffice in an emergency. Sadly, the relief seldom lasts an hour. If consumed along with sinus meds, though, it is almost blissful – the food’s quicker than the meds, and by the time the food is gone, the meds have taken effect. The meds must contain pseudoephedrine, though, not that useless (at approved dosages) phenylephrine.

      • Ah, but if you are wanting pseudoephedrine, you must be a Meth head. On that note, I pulled off the web the instructions for converting Meth back into pseudoephedrine. Supposedly, it is endothermic, so there isn’t a big fire/explosion risk. The guy maintained (quite properly so) that since the Federal Government decided sudaphed was evil, that for most city dwellers, access to Meth was far more common than access to psuedoephedrine… Can we say ‘unintended consequences’ anyone?

        • Can you get pseudoephedrine with a prescription?

          • I am not sure about nationwide, but in NC each over-the-counter purchase of pseudoephedrine is tracked in a data base which limits the amount you can purchase in any given month.

            Forty-five years ago I could buy a bottle with 100 doses in it; no tracking and buy more when I ran through it, useful because of chronic sinus issue. I swear, if it warn’t for holding my glasses in place my nose would serve no useful function ay-tall.

            • That is the case in Minnesota as well. When I do get pseudoephedrine I need to deal with the pharmacy though it’s not a prescription drug. And sign a statement that says I’m going to use it for other than its intended purpose. I get the time-release stuff as supposedly that is less suspicious as being supposedly less useful in meth manufacture. Of course I am now more suspect as before I could buy just what I expected to need for a little while and now I buy the largest amount I can so I don’t have to deal with the added hassle as often.

            • Some story a while back about a Father who was asthmatic, taking his asthmatic son on a month long camping trip wanting enough sudaphed to have for emergency use. Triggered a raid by the DEA. When you treat everyone as a criminal, don’t be surprised when everyone stops following the law.

              • Did it have enough details to BE checkable?

                I know that every time I’ve found enough to check, a story like that turns out to be a lot different– for example with this story it would turn outthat your summary is the defense lawyer’s spin, but there was a lot of other stuff that suggests the “camping trip” was nothing of the sort. Not exactly false, but relevant information not included.

                • Nah, more of one of those ‘I saw it on the Internet, so it must be true’. Now, I do think it was a reputable site, but they can still be spun.

                  • Like with the “interpreting the results” in a scientific study problem– it’s the sense folks make of what they see that’s in contention. (And it’s just not good writing to include information that doesn’t matter!)

          • Wayne Blackburn

            It may depend on the state you are in. I believe a prescription for pseudoephedrine will allow one to get a greater quantity than the per-week (or maybe it’s per-month) OTC limits, in Kentucky, but I can’t say for other States.

            • Wayne Blackburn

              However, if you want more, and are confident in your chemistry skills, there is a formula out there to make pseudoephedrine from Meth.

              🙂

            • Last year I head a joke about the biker gangs (this was pre-Waco) switching their business model and making millions by converting meth into pseudoephedrine and selling it in tucked into Kleenex (TM) pocket packs.

    • Shrimp cocktail.

  26. Spotted this headline in my email inbox: Tell Congress to Stop Importing Terrorists‏

    Apparently there are jobs Americans are no longer willing and able to do.

  27. HRC tweeted:

    Hillary Clinton
    @HillaryClinton
    “Let’s be clear: Islam is not our adversary. Muslims are peaceful and tolerant people and have nothing whatsoever to do with terrorism.”
    10:57 AM – 19 Nov 2015

    We need to focus, she warns, on “radical jihadism” instead.

    Yeah, gotta beware those radical Quaker jihadis, not to mention the radical Buddhist jihadis, radical Hindu jihadis, and radical Jedi jihadis.

  28. Girls have all the adventures. And boys are either dumb or evil, and sometimes both. In fiction it’s not that naked (it is in commercials) but you get it nonetheless.

    There was an ad for Discover card that I saw a few years ago that would be an excellent demonstration of this point. I’ve done a quick Youtube search and can’t find it, but I’ll describe it in lieu of being able to show it to you. It was one of their “We treat you like you’d treat you” ads, where someone calls Discover customer service and finds themselves talking to… themselves. In this ad, it was a woman saying “I told my husband to pay the credit card bill and he forgot about it. Can I have a refund on that late fee that you charged me? Because it’s totally not my fault.” Meanwhile the husband, looking hapless and sheepish, is coming down the stairs in the background. The customer-service rep says, “Oh sure, I totally understand how that could happen” in a “men, amirite?” just-between-us-girls kind of way. Then the rep says “So now he’s off the hook, right?”, and the wife answers “Of course not!” as she turns to give her husband the Glare of Death.

    And this was shown on national television. They actually thought it was funny to portray men as helpless, bumbling idiots, and portray wives as having no respect whatsoever for their man-child husbands.

    If anyone can find that commercial on Youtube and link it here, I’d be glad to see whether my memory is overblown, or whether it really was as horrendous as I remember it being. My Google-fu is just not up to scratch today to be able to locate the darn thing.

    • Isn’t idiot, bumbling man-child pretty much the default setting for husband in commercials* or sitcoms? One would think these poor schlubs need to be institutionalized before they kill off their whole families, or worse!
      Heck, it’s the competent, masculine male that would stand out.

      *unless you are talking about commercials for those $19.95 “As Seen On TV!” thingies. In that case, everyone is an bumbling idiot who can’t manipulate common household items without major trauma.

      • Isn’t idiot, bumbling man-child pretty much the default setting for husband in commercials* or sitcoms?

        Yeah. Which is why ads where the wife clearly loves her husband and wants to do nice things for him really stand out. For example, this Samsung ad:

        I wish this kind of ad was the rule rather than the exception.

    • Reminds me….

      Visiting a relative, and she remembered a show she’d loved as a young woman, and bought it.

      Carol Bernett show. (sp?)

      I don’t know if it was an established thing or not, but I *think* she established the pattern of the rather hapless husband being abused by his wife– but it got removed from the context. It was funny because her whole thing is that she was….well, the female version of it. She had some masculine traits where he had feminine, and that’s why it was funny. She was also low-class but TRYING.

      Now we’ve got all the stuff she did, but the guys don’t really have positive points.

      *wanders off to the tune of “Dad Life”*

      • Wayne Blackburn

        That doesn’t sound like the Carol Burnett show, although it could have been one of the skits that they ran on it. The Carol Burnett show was, in many ways, and precursor to Saturday Night Live, where they did several small skits per episode, and usually had someone, usually another actor, as a guest, who would be added to some or all of the skits.

        I can’t remember any of the skits which fit your description completely, but her “Eunice” character did tend to be overbearing to her “husband”, but then again, she acted that way to everyone else, too.

        Tim Conway really shone on that show. his character portrayals frequently had the others on set making all kinds of expressions as they tried t keep from falling down laughing.

        • Wayne Blackburn

          “and” precursor? “AND”??!? Stupid fingers.

        • Bingo! The character was that way to EVERYONE- and it was hilarious.

          I can’t remember the name of the character, but it’s the reoccuring skit where she’s a harridan, he’s an office worker, and she has a “kid sister” living with them.

        • Patrick Chester

          Yeah, Conway would get lots of people to break. Especially Harvey Korman

          • He often did that by ad-libbing the actual performance, after having played the dress rehearsal normally. I still think his “Siamese elephants” routine is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen, along with the “clumsy dentist” skit.

    • There a number of sitcoms on this theme too. America needs men. Men have the necessary hard dangerous work our needed as it expanded and industrialized.Tradition is there because it works. One man one woman severalo kids and extendewd family as available. Who built the Brooklyn Bridge. Who built all the bridges dams and highways.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        Dammit, now I am trying to write a pilot in my head for a sitcom with a Mike Rowe-esque protagonist. It would be awesome. 🙂

        • …now I am trying to write a pilot in my head for a sitcom with a Mike Rowe-esque protagonist. It would be awesome. 🙂

          To be called “Mike Rowe Aggressions”?

      • Last Man Standing.

        My husband is addicted….and so are the girls. 😀

        • After reading strong reviews of the series and having a little time before the advent of the new season I used my cable provider’s On Demand function to watch the last four episodes of last season. Mildly amusing, less so than Home Improvement with some nice appearances from former featured actors on Justified.

          But the season finale, with the Patricia Heaton guest appearance, was a delight. I have watched a ep or two of this season and it seems a pleasant time fill when nothing else demands clearance.

    • Wayne Blackburn

      This one?

  29. Oh, and Sarah, Happy Belated Birthday!

  30. It won’t help the infection itself, but open a jar of diced horseradish or horseradish sauce, hold it two inches or so under your nose, and breathe in deeply. That’ll clear all the junk out of your head right quick.

    Far as sci-fi goes…

    My first exposure to sci-fi was the first Star Wars movie. Not Episode 1, the one that came out in 1977. Though I saw it in ’97 when the “Special” Edition hit theaters. I didn’t want to be Princess Leia, because I was a guy and wanted to be Luke Skywalker (yes he was a whiny little twerp for most of the movie, but I was 9 and he had a lightsaber), but Leia immediately became my “ideal princess” if you will. Yes, she got captured and had to be rescued, but as soon as she was rescued, she immediately took charge and started kicking ass! And continued to kick ass through the rest of the trilogy (and, I hope, will continue to kick ass in The Force Awakens). Similarly, one of my many problems with Episode III was that Padme took charge and kicked ass in Episodes 1 and 2, and then spent all of Episode 3 sitting in front of her vanity, brushing her hair, and fretting about her precious Ani. *That* creative decision was a travesty of the highest order if there ever was one.

    And I may get booted off the Internet for this, but my favorite Star Trek series was Voyager. Why? Three words: Captain Kathryn Janeway. She took charge, made the hard decisions, stared down warmongering, genocidal aliens and told them, “no, you blink. no, you move,” and generally kicked ass for seven years and literally from one side of the galaxy to the other.

    My point is that I don’t object to competent women in sci-fi despite what the CHORFs and feminazis may claim to the contrary (and part of the reason Seven was so much hotter than Kes was because she was wicked smart [and hysterical when The Doctor took over her body that one time] vs. childlike and naive, though I admit the catsuits didn’t hurt), I loathe the increasing dumbing-down and marginalization of all the males in sci-fi and pretty much every other genre and medium.

    I admit to having barely read any Heinlein (I’ve only finished Starship Troopers and am slowly slogging through The Moon is a Harsh Mistress – it’s a little preachy for my tastes), but from what I’ve read in the other comments, I think I will enjoy a great deal of his other works. Because that’s my ideal world: competent men and women (operative word being competent, applied equally to both genders) working side by side, some people more skilled in some areas, some more competent in others. None of this “this is revenge for the patriarchy!” bs that’s going on now, and none of the “this is revenge for the feminazi matriarchy!” bis that I’m pretty sure is coming soon.

    • The joke going around in my circles was that Janeway was female because in the New Federation only women were allowed to have (*ahem*) a pair.

  31. When Marshall was three he came to me and told me he wanted to be a girl.

    I was quite young when I announced that when I grew up I wanted to be mahogany colored. This seemed to startle the adults around me. Someone who had the sense not to assume that a small child thought as an adult asked me why mahogany. “Mahogany looks good wearing any color,” I replied.

    From the reaction I don’t think anyone had anticipated my reasoning.

    As to the friend who thought that the pendulous swing was only fair?

    So failing to encourage the dreams of a generation boys who had nothing to do with creating the system you felt was unfair is fair? Really!

    Since some can only see through the lens of woman’s empowerment, I ask them: Is it fair to your daughters to suppress the development of the young men with whom they will be sharing the world in the future?