Live by the Narrative

I find it bizarre — way beyond astonishing — that no one has done a study into how soaked in narrative our age is, well beyond any other age before us.  And how much that narrative is fictional.

I’m not talking here of politics, though it will tie in, eventually. I’m talking our daily life and “narrative” — aka story.

It wasn’t so long ago that fiction by itself was considered a weird and possibly pernicious form of entertainment.  A couple of centuries, AT MOST.  Which in evolutionary terms is an eye blink.

Before that, while fiction has always been with us, it used to be in small quantities, and disguise itself as non-fiction.

Very few people reading about King Arthur or the various other fictional exploits of knights and fighters in the middle ages thought of them as made up out of whole cloth. Yes, to us the absurd turns of plot are obvious, but remember they had a pre-scientific mentality.  For all they knew there were vegetable lambs just over the rise.

However, often, the story structure mimicked true accounts, biographies and rambling adventures.

It took centuries for fiction to evolve its own and have its own structure, though we are now fully surrounded by it. Just yesterday, my husband watched 4? 5? shows.  I read a couple of fiction books.  Our kids imbibe fiction through all those means plus games.  It’s the form of entertainment that pervades everything.

Some of the more stringent sects still consider it a sin to write and read fiction, even without the fantasy element.

Obviously I don’t believe that.  But I do believe we’re not taking in account how soaked we are in it.

Perhaps people don’t think it matters. Perhaps you need to be a producer of fiction to be acutely aware of how it’s NOT reality.  (And some of the producers, even, don’t seem aware of that.)

Satisfying stories have a clear line of responsibility, preferably the character reaps the consequences of his own informed actions.  (The informed part is debatable.  In some story structures it’s not possible, such as say mystery.  But I give them enough for an informed decision, which is not the same as a full knowledge.)  They have a satisfying and clear climax.  They have a satisfying and clear “morality” too, by which I don’t mean moral, but a self-consistent universe that is predictable.

Unfortunately, reality doesn’t have any of those.  Which is why humans crave fiction.

The problem is that while snickers really satisfies, fiction only provides a so-so guide to real life.  (I’m joking about snickers satisfying, before you jump on me.  AFAICT that’s based on the fact they have minimal protein, aka peanuts.)

Sure, I used fiction to teach my kids to see how other people thought, and I often say it’s how we experience being in someone else’s mind.  But when it comes to action-consequence, and particularly in the quantities we absorb fiction, it vitiates our thinking in peculiar ways.

Take Trump for instance.  No small part of his rise is people’s conviction even before it that we’d get a new Reagan.  “We suffered through Carter 2.0, we deserve our reward.”  Only reality is not like that.  You don’t deserve anything and there’s no such thing as foreshadowing.  But of course, the fact he was a dem, and the fact the media “hates” him (Not really.  Note they don’t report the stuff that would cost him his conservative base, such as Planned Parenthood support, or wanting to put his liberal sister in the Supreme court) triggers the foreshadowing reflex and people go “he’ll be just like Reagan.”  And even I have to fight that, because I remember having doubts of Reagan.  Not enough NOT to work for him.  But I find my brain squirming that way and have to remind myself not only is the situation far more dire, but Trump is no Reagan (history, opinions, depth of thinking.  Heck, the criticisms leveled at Reagan — war monger, excessive religiosity — are more like the ones leveled at Cruz, not Trump.)

But even more importantly, because our political opponents tend to come from wealthier backgrounds and have therefore been more insulated from reality, we get the strange vile prog idea that if they silence us long enough we’ll disappear or die out.  This is based on the Marxist messianic promise that they are the future.  Since they swallowed the whole package, this must be true.  And their fiction promises them that the hero who fights for the oppressed, etc (i.e. the one imbued with Marxist ideas.  The media and entertainment were taken over decades ago) always wins. And their opposition is OLD and set in its ways.

This is how they manage to completely ignore things like the barely walking zombies who are candidates for the democratic party nomination, or the fact that most of the prog rallies I pass are half and half college kids and really OLD people.  Because fiction assures them all young/strong/vibrant people believe as they do.

This is how they missed the fact that over the last thirty years they became the side of money and privilege (And yep, the truly poor and dysfunctional, but those are the sheep, not the leaders.)  This is how they can accept their president using “pen and phone” (“It’s a Kirk trick, so the good guys win”) while if W had done half of it, it would be terrible.  Because if the villain uses trick,s then it’s pure evil.  The hero can do it, though, because fiction.

This is why people like myself or the other Furies are NOT real women.  Because women as they see in fiction are always on the “progressive” side.  And  all the “reality” they know is fiction.

We’re not immune from it either.  See above example, but also how many people keep thinking collapse will be very fast and result in Mad Max.  This wasn’t even true of truly collapsed places like say Beirut.  And South America has been collapsing for centuries and it’s still not like that.

Post apocalyptic fiction is glorious and heroic (Unless done by our current lord and masters, in which case it’s dreary and boring.)  Real collapse is slow and dreary, mostly damned inconvenient and unsafe.  Real collapse is getting your car broken into twice a week, even in a nice part of town.  Real collapse is getting the electricity turned off, not permanently but randomly, a few hours a day, so you never know what to count on.  Real collapse is stocking up on oil and powdered milk because you never know when milk won’t show up, or will be spoiled on the shelf because of electrical black outs.  (The oil thing might be Portuguese.  People fry a lot, so oil disappears from shelves.)

And yeah, we tend to go for that.  Just like both sides tend to think if the current system collapses, THEIR utopia ensues.

These are DANGEROUS ways for narrative to get into the brain, and if you fall into them you will most assuredly be hurt.  If you live by the narrative you might not die by the narrative, but you won’t be happy, either.

Remember that.  Remember you’re soaked in ink, surrounded by it, but it’s no reason to swallow it.  Always be aware of the reality you live in, a reality that doesn’t foreshadow or repeat, or give clear indications of heroes and villains, or even link clear action with clear consequence.  Turn off the fiction brain when you examine reality.  It’s hard.  And it’s not nearly as much fun.

But, alas, reality doesn’t match our fictions, and it is reality we have to live in.

418 responses to “Live by the Narrative

  1. The Other Sean

    “Sarah and the Furies” seems like the name for a rock band.

  2. c4c

  3. Martin L. Shoemaker

    I am astonished, completely astonished, that people use fiction as “evidence” in their arguments. I used to think only kids were this naïve; but today I see it from people who are legally (if not intellectually) adults.

    Fiction is evidence of only two things: what its creator thinks (or MIGHT think, since it’s foolish to confuse character with author), and what some reader interprets from it. Yet I see (hypothetical) adults using Star Trek as evidence that Senator Sanders is right.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      Some years ago, some idiot quoted characters from a time-travel novel to “prove” that religious people hated “Freedom Of Religion”. [Frown]

    • Going off topic here: I just wanted to tell you that I thoroughly enjoyed “Racing to Mars” and “Today I am Paul”.

      The former reminded me so much of the sf I grew up reading and the later nearly broke me heart. Quite a gift to hit both poles. Well done, sir.

      • Martin L. Shoemaker

        Thank you! “Today I Am Paul” means a lot to me. Metaphorically it’s the story of my mother-in-law’s last year of life. So to have so many people respond to it is really, indescribably touching.

        And “Racing to Mars” was just plain fun. I enjoy writing that heroic bastard, Nick Aames. If I ever get off my butt and finish it (or on my butt, as the case may be), Baen will be looking at a Carver and Aames novel based on “Racing to Mars”.

        You made my day. Again, Thank you!

        • Oh? There more of Capt. Aames? Woohoo!

          • Martin L. Shoemaker

            The original Carver and Aames story was “Murder on the Aldrin Express” in the September 2013 Analog, and also in Year’s Best Science Fiction: Thirty-First Annual Edition, Year’s Top Short SF Novels 4, and Forever Magazine December 2015. My friend Tina Gower persuaded me that Nick & Carver had more stories. That led to “Brigas Nunca Mais” in the March 2015 Analog (the story of what went wrong on Nick’s wedding day) and “Racing to Mars”.

            I have a few others planned, in both Nick’s past and his future.

            And the novel. Yes, Toni, and the novel! Real Soon Now!

    • Sanders accords with Star Trek, because star Trek was written by a lot of people with similar politics. The end.

      • Martin L. Shoemaker

        Exactly. They have cause and effect, well, not backwards, they just have two narratives with the same cause. But they go farther. They literally cite Star Trek as evidence. It’s like peeople who cite the Ewoks vs. Stormtroopers as proof that primitives are better than moderns.

        • Tsk. Ewoks vs. Stormtroopers is soooo 20th Cent! Nowadays truly enlightened people use Avatar for their argument — it was in 3D, so it must be true.

          • Yes…because the rain of nukes immediately after the closing credits was harmless…

            Ghandi could defeat the British. If he had gone against the Chinese, Russians or Japanese there may have been other issues.

            • Don’t get me started at Avatar…such as what was the point of the ground assault when there are going to bomb the tree into oblivion anyway?

              • Pfft – like we won’t have Agent Orange or its equivalent in the future.

                I don’t care that it is a metaphor for the war in Iraq — our problem in Iraq was pussyfootin’ around.

                • Remember that these are the same people who think America’s response to 9/11 was “disproportionate.”
                  Considering what we did after Pearl Harbor, the fact that Mecca is still there indicates remarkable restraint on our part.

            • When you have star ships, you don’t need nukes. From an incoming ship, you could hit the planet with ten penny finishing nails and pretty much insure what ever problems were there, are no longer there.

              • Relativistic finishing nails for the win.

                However, that requires the maths so I don’t expect progs to have it in their movies. Realizing that bombers don’t need infantry support is something I think even they could figure out.

                • Well James Cameron should know about it, because the technical advisor for Avatar on space travel was Charlie Pellegrino, the same guy who introduced me and a bunch of others to the potentials of relativistic weaponry on one very scary afternoon at ICON way back when. If you ever want to be really scared, talk to Charlie for an afternoon.

                • The infantry came in too early. They weren’t supposed to be infantry support, they were supposed to be Einsatzgruppen

                • I have my doubts — how many times in recent wars have we been told the enemy can be defeated by air power alone?

                  (Not that I believe defeat of Isis is the current god-emperor’s goal.)

                  • It’s just E=MC^2. Dump enough energy into an area and there’s just cleared open land available for terraforming and settlement.

                    Of course, if you dump a little more than enough you get the Deccan Traps and you have to try again on the other side of the panet after the volcanic ash stops falling.

                  • Premise of movie: psychic tree is the key to the natives. Destroy it and all the natives die.

                    Well, in that case all you need to do is bomb the tree and the ground forces occupy later. It is similar to the ability to just occupy instead of engaging in ground combat after a neutron bomb.

                    On fact, why put your ground forces in the blast radius of your bomb or even close.

            • nukes? why? they have FTL drive, they can certainly drop a big rock on Eywa.

              (that’s my 10 minute script for Avatar II btw)

          • In fairness, the Ewoks were a bunch of REALLY nasty meat eaters(as they were not human, they couldn’t be called cannibals) and were probably hyper-intelligent and had extremely good reflexes depending on how you interpret their ability to start up and drive a speeder-bike without immediately immolating itself in a ball of fire and no prior experience with high tech outside of their contact with the Empire.

            • I favor the courtesy-use of “cannibal” to include intelligent beings that eat other intelligent beings. (yes, this would result in things like “cannibal dragons” being a thing, if you have talking dragons; like that makes it any worse than being “man-eating intelligent being”?)

            • What are the chances that the Ewoks are a secretive super-race, and it was just a hunter-gatherer LARP group that was on Endor at the time?

        • Y’know, I love Star Trek, but I don’t think I need the additional issues of being a Vulcan to have Spock’s “I’m surrounded by idiots” mentality. I just have to look at the insanity of reality today and I get that, no green blood and pointy ears needed.

    • And using Blade Runner as proof conservatives are evil.

      • And The Handmaid’s Tale.

        • Which shows how stupid they are as that book predicted a much worse conservative nightmare liberalism taking hold (porn and prostitute trucks called “Feels on Wheels” for example) that prompted the conservative backlash of the novel.

          If they want it as an example they seem to be using it as a blueprint.

        • Oh, yes. It also never occurs to them that Canada would be most unlikely to continue as a going concern, should a totalitarian regime take control of the United States.

          • I just love how many say that they want to emigrate if the US becomes less open to immigrants…And don’t realize that the countries they identify tend to require you to have usable skills for them to actually give citizenship (I know Australia does this since they were opening up for engineers during a job search).

            • This. Australia also has an age limit and a wealth limit. You have to be younger than x and put down enough money. Also, you have to be under a certain weight.

              • You also have to prove you can support yourself if you’re in any way or form disabled.

                • Yep. Always has been my issue with the policy in the US. 10 yrs no assistance other than unemployment insurance after say 2 yrs employment. And that goes for you and any children. Set that and at least you discourage those interested in merely teat suckling. Add in harsh criminal penalties and actual border control and we’d have only the enemy within as opposed to an enemy within and a large number of foreigners coming to live within country but not join country.

                  • The thing is, it’s really kept folks who want to migrate with their families and acculturalize out, but not the economic refugees who flooded over on boats.

                    I used to hear stories between the difference of a real refugee and the economic ones. The real refugee learned how to acculturalize, used the educational help and work programs to actually find work, and were grateful that Australia existed. The economic refugees? Learned just enough to milk the system, stayed on jobs long enough to ‘count’ in the system, and always used race to ensure they got away with doing the barest minimum, or less. Any criticism of their actions? “Racist!”

                    Legal migrants jump through hoops like you wouldn’t believe. When I was trying to migrate legally over to the US, my friends were eventually disgusted about the fact it was so hard and apparently designed to keep people who actually wanted to follow the law out. I simply could not afford to keep sending official copies of documents, FedEx, to a bureau who would ‘lose’ the previous set, claim I’d never sent them, or set my case back because ‘there might be amnesty and we’ll have to prioritize that, our offices are being rearranged, we’re sorry, we lost all the paperwork on your case, please send them again?” It got so bad that I had several hardcore Conservative friends offer to help me migrate illegally. I didn’t want that my first act as a migrant on US soil would be to break the law though…

                    we’d have only the enemy within as opposed to an enemy within and a large number of foreigners coming to live within country but not join country.

                    I hate to say this, but there always felt like there was a definite preference for the ‘less you are culturally like us, the more you are prioritised,’ at times – not just in migration to the US, but as an attitude as a whole, when I was in Europe as well, from the government – though in Europe simply not being white was enough to get the regular Francois on the street assuming you were no different from the horde of economic migrants flooding in from up south, or a Chinese tong member. I remember my teacher in school once sourly noting to me (as I was not a legal or illegal migrant, but there because I was a diplomat’s kid) that none of the Chinese students she had would ever really stay to finish their education, but only learn enough French to get by and communicate, and then drop out to go work in a Chinese restaurant or some other Chinese run business. The rest, she grumbled, would finish school, barely, then go on welfare.

                    I held my tongue, because I got more info that way, and because I’d heard the flip side as well: a common complaint from those who had acculturalized, integrated and worked hard on their education and French would pass job interviews until the employer’s HR saw that they were not actually French, and then get declined, or told that the position was filled, on arrival at the face to face job interview.

                    It was a topic of vast annoyance and disgust in some of the discussions I’ve had over here in Australia; because it’s so hard to migrate over to any Western country as a legal migrant, but “jump the border, hey presto, have our welfare and more aid than we grant our own law abiding citizens or legal migrants.”

                    • ““jump the border, hey presto, have our welfare and more aid than we grant our own law abiding citizens or legal migrants.””

                      To no borders libertarians, that’s a feature. And our need for legal migrants isn’t what people have been cozened into believing.

                    • I think our immigration should be the same as Australia’s. You can’t contribute, you don’t come here.
                      HOWEVER the only way to secure that long a border is to make Mexico our subordinate state. Honestly, I think most people there would thank us.

                    • Oh I don’t disagree. My mindset has always been that ability should overrule need. You are expected to provide a good or service and just working in an ethnic restaurant for the yuppies is not enough. Especially when there is an excess of unskilled labor already.

                      I’m not sure of an answer. A gated system or the like would probably be necessary where further steps of acculturation get you to the next gate (Step one, get job; step two learn english, etc). But then the worry I get is how many of those gates will become ‘learn how your race was hurt by Americans and what you are owed’. The person who wants to come into the country and be an American should be supported but how we pick through the list other than the shit testing that seems to be done currently is a tough question. For instance, how many H1B actually want to live in US vs get jobs and subsist until they have made enough to go back to home country and live well.

                      As for the effectiveness of us bureaucracies…When I was first getting my license for EMS I called the state I was to be licensed in. I had the proper certification but it had been done in another state. I asked directly if I needed to be licensed in my state of training as well as the cert and was told no. I go to fill out the paperwork and they then tell me yes. Plus they lost my paperwork that stated I was trained in the antique methods still used in that state. Fast forward two years and recertification and the state misfiled my refresher and had another training class marked as off by a year and a half. It took until I changed levels to reset the cluster of documentation.

                    • Same thing was going to happen to my mother regarding getting al AL teaching certification. 18 months of undergrad education courses for someone who had a cum laude degree from Baylor and a Masters from University of Louisville plus over 10 years of experience in Kentucky, so she could teach 4th grade.

                      Except my dad’s job had him on a first name basis with half the Alabama Bar, one of whom remembered / found out that when my mother got her KY teachers certificate, a law still on the books gave KY and AL automatic reciprocity on teachers certs.

          • It occurs to some people:

            We are not a sovereign nation, we are a protectorate. It is only through the courtesy of Uncle Sam that we can maintain the polite fiction we are an independent country. A country that cannot defend itself is not a country, it’s a sitting duck.

            Canada is often held up as an emblem of a social democratic nation that takes care of its citizens, providing national healthcare, maternity leave, social services and education to all. Yeah, sure. That’s because we don’t pay for national defence.

            The United States does.

            And they don’t charge us a penny to do it, either. Very nice of you, USA. Thank you!

            • Think this was in some Heinlein novel (Stranger?), the narrator describes Canada as the part of the U.S. which was clever enough to avoid paying taxes to D.C.

      • Arrrggg. Now you’re reminding me of this really stupid meme I saw a few days ago. Used 1984 and Blade Runner of how conservative government goes wrong and ST are how socialism is right.

        Whoever did that flunked how to do proper compare and contrast.

        I think I asked the person who shared it what the OP/creator had been drinking or smoking since they apparently didn’t live in the real world. I ended up telling them that Animal Farm would have been a better comparison.

        • That is exacly what I was refering to.

          Sadly, my Bernie meme didn’t take off on FaceBook.

        • The meme that the government in ‘1984’ isn’t reeeeally socialist is especially galling. Hello, what’s “INGSOC” mean again?

          • It wasn’t reall socialism…real socialism will be just like they imagine it to be. Anything else is the result of lies and wreckers.

            • Yes. Socialism is a cult. If bad things happen, it wasn’t socialism, because socialism is All Wise and Good.

              You don’t generally see this with other forms of government. Take someone who’s (for example) a monarchist. Chances are that person will freely admit that there have been both good and bad monarchs — that, say, Queen Elizabeth II is preferable to, say, Ivan the Terrible or John Lackland. What they won’t do, as a rule, is deny that Ivan and John were monarchs. “But that wasn’t REAL monarchy!” Wouldn’t happen, because that would be a crazytown argument.

              Yet somehow the socialists get away with denying that Hitler, and Mussolini, and Stalin, and Mao, and Pol Pot, and Mugabe, and… were “real socialists”.

              Bah. It’s a cult.

              • Someone really should change the name of the fallacy to “No True Socialist”.

              • When I was younger I learned it in this manner:

                Hitler and Mussolini were Fascist dictators. Stalin and Mao were socialist dictators. Pol Pot and Mugabe were crazy dictators.

                None of them were true communists. (In true communism the people get to be the dictator.)

                As progressives co-opted the name liberal and, having tainted that, are once again claiming to be progressives, we see that communists prefer to be called socialists for the moment.

                • Because forcibly extricating money from a herd of cats with wildly varying beliefs and opinions could occur without a dictator. Heck, even in the situations where Socialistic ideals are possible there is a dictator in the sense of God (Convents and monestaries) and Children (Kinda-sorta in families)

          • It’s like the NSDP (National Socialist German Workers Party)…later known as Nazi. The only socialism they want is that of highly homogenous cultures that do less to harm individuality and commerce and often have other sources of income that the same people do not want to use…

    • I’ll admit to doing it myself occasionally. I’ve been arguing with people about things that they claim could never happen, and I’m about to respond with, “Well, what about in Wuthering Heights where…” And then I’ll have to stop myself and say, “Wait. Fiction. Find better example.”

      It’s easy not to appreciate the degree to which an author controls the world in fiction. We tend to accept that the things in fiction (with the exception of the obviously magical or sci-so-fi-it-might-as-well-be-magical), even if they DIDN’T happen in the real world, could have happened, because the author has woven his spell to convince us, “Yes, this is right. This is exactly how this would play out in those circumstances.”

      Of course, the Star Trek example is particularly stupid given that it falls apart with just a little thought. We can argue about whether Cathy would really have fallen in love with Heathcliff, but its hard to get around things like, “Wait, so Sisko’s father owns a large restaurant in New Orleans. How does that work with no money? Are there now so many restaurants in New Orleans that the entire population of the world can own one?”

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Nod.

        The author is the “mini-god” of the world he has created thus what he/she wants to happen does happen even if it couldn’t happen in the real world. [Smile]

        Or as S. M. Stirling put it “fictional heroes have the scriptwriter on their side”. [Very Big Grin]

        • Harry must have really peed in Butcher’s Wheaties one morning if that’s what having the scriptwriter on his side is like 🙂

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            If Butcher was really annoyed with Dresden, Dresden would be dead. [Evil Grin]

            Seriously, where Stirling first (to my knowledge) introduces this idea is when his main character is recovering from a concussion and reflects that a movie character would be “up and fighting” before this.

            Another time, Stirling has a character do a stunt that Xena could have pulled off but the character falls flat on her back attempting it and would have been killed if it was a real fight. [Smile]

          • they have special ways of annoying us…

          • “Who’s this guy and why does he play me in the game?”

            The Harry notes on the RPG books are a joy to behold.

      • Star Trek is a fantasy world of post scarcity that assumes that people will not fight over status or position if all their material needs can be met. Like most of the arguments used it treats man as perfect in society vs as a fallen creature that will lie, cheat and steal.

        Also I am familiar with the standard Mad Max vs Star Trek Meme for Libertarian vs Statist. They neglect to account for how Most of the world was blown up before star trek anyway.

        • Funny, then, how most of the ‘best’ (or at least, most popular) episodes/movies of several Star Trek iterations…involve people being flawed and acting like dicks and creating problems for other people.

          I did see a Trek documentary where a number of former ST:NG scriptwriters agreed that once Roddenberry died and was no longer handing down fiats as to what the stories could be about, they were able to bring a lot more interesting conflict and the series got much more popular.

          I think, back when I watched it, I blinked at the ‘no money’ nonsense and then ignored it. Because the writers were ignoring it, by and large…

          • I’m just speaking of the world as a whole. Humanity is an animal which will fight over status and everything else. Hierarchy will erupt pretty spontaneously in human environments. The Trek universe is very vague as to what the society is and the viewers merely get a view from an organization (Starfleet) that is more militarist and dictatorial than the standard argument of “Democratic Socialism” being proposed.

            And yeah. On the micro level trek is pretty good. (I’m a heretic. I like Voyager best.) But the memes are not arguing how one character was bad but that the society was good. And yeah. Roddenberry was a protoSJW and true believer

          • Yeah. Nobody could EVER explain credits to me. I was like ‘that’s functioning as money, thus…’ And yes, I ignored the no money nonsense. Because there were traders. And trade agreements. I don’t think the whole damn galaxy functioned on barter.

            • You’re missing the point here — apply Occam’s Razor.

              The whole “credits” and “no money” thing was a Big Lie, a propagandastic piece of mythdirection the Federation came up with to confuse any enemies. Only those most intent on directly engaging the Federation — such as the Borg — were able to ignore the years of delay spent on trying to grasp the Federation economy so as to discern the critical junctures for attack.

              • The STTNG Federation is a totalitarian sham, with a cabal of elites up top led by Data’s evil but smarter other copy, the fully indoctrinated Fed public and bureaucracy living the lie powered by the dilithium-to-replicator technology chain, and Starfleet acting as enforcers under the thumb of the Political Officers, err, I mean, “Ships Counselors” of the Fed Secret Police.

                This explains all of the unexplained shifts in “everybody knows” between STTOS and STTNG.

                • Wait, the cabal up top has to be the last undestroyed M5 class computer working with Data’s evil other twin – that’s how it manages everything centrally, with avatars in all ship’s computers, and how, though control of the education system, manages propaganda and indoctrination.

          • I beg to differ a bit. The series did get more popular but the audience and stories got dumber. ST:TNG got really stupid around Season 5 and worse as time went on. The capper for me was Troi taking the “command” test so she could be promoted to the RANK of “commander”. By the last season of TNG, I wasn’t even bothering to tape, much less watch, the show religiously — which was a HUGE marker for me considering I came into the world with TOS and spent my formative years watching it on a 9 inch B&W screen with my father (season 3 in original broadcast, seasons 1-2 in syndication).
            It seems to me there wasn’t so much a “no money” meme as the idea that commerce was just ignored. Two of the most popular characters (other than the main stars) from TOS were Cyrano Jones and Harry Mudd, both of whom were traders and swindlers — kind of hard to swindle someone if there isn’t some form of commerce.

        • I love that meme! My go-to reply is always something along the lines of “It’s pronounced ‘Aye-eh-toh-lah’ of Rock ‘n’ Rolla, and I will be hosting tryouts for my Dogs of War next week. Prospective candidates must supply their own crossbows and hockey pads.”

          That usually shuts down the argument, though occasionally it’ll make a Bernie-lover’s head explode.

        • Yeah, I know, but the problem is that material “needs” can change quite a bit (as others have pointed out, things that were unheard of luxuries 100 years ago are today necessary to make a place fit for human habitation), and “post scarcity” only goes so far: there is only so much beachfront property on Maui, and not everyone who wants a mansion overlooking the ocean can have one. That’s usually handwaved with something to the effect of “Well, no one would care about having beachfront property if there were holodecks” or “Well, maybe not everyone can have have a mansion on Maui, but they can have one in South Carolina, and they’d be perfectly content with that.” However, that’s why I brought up Sisko’s restaurant; Picard’s vineyard would work here too. Clearly there are scarce resources that are greatly valued, and how much would it suck if you wanted one, weren’t lucky enough to inherit it, and had no possible way of earning it?

          • Clearly there are scarce resources that are greatly valued, and how much would it suck if you wanted one, weren’t lucky enough to inherit it, and had no possible way of earning it?

            Also known as the “why work to be in the upper income brackets of Bernie’s America if it means my life will not be materially better because of all the extra work?” response to socialism.

            Push them hard enough and they all answer “guns”.

            • That’s part of the return to Feudal Aristocracy the Left desires. We can’t be having the petty bourgeoisie getting rich and spoiling the refined airs of true culture.

              • This — that the petty bourgeoisie might actually have an opinion or two about art – and have the economic wherewithal to actually go and buy a pretty landscape, Citysearch, or a portrait or two of one of their vulgarly-prosperous ancestors? Painted in the style of their personal preference? Well, how dare they – how bloody dare they!!

                • Yeah, but have you noticed how unbearable air travel has become since they deregulated the prices? We need much larger planes so that the petty bourgeoisie can be put in steerage where they belong.

                  • Air travel: where you go to a place you don’t want to be, get treated like a criminal, ride on an uncomfortable conveyance, get treated like livestock, and end up in another place you don’t want to be.

                    I took what will probably be my last commercial flight back in 1982, and have no intention of going to another airport, much less an airliner.

                  • I dunno if the intent is sarcastic or not but right now I think we are in a tech transition in the back. Getting rid of the seatback or overhead entertainment systems and replacing with wireless and eventually power to seats or at least rows allows more choice in terms of what you will entertain yourself with.

                    As far as food, at least they are starting to serve the back of the plane again. The security theater outside the airport is the worst part and one that we need to change politically. But I grab a bag of trail mix and am good for the flight for standard distances. The close quarters is probably the worst part. But between the consolidation of the airlines and enhanced capacity modeling that will honestly be a hard thing to change. One of the effects of price consciousness. However for a short term trip it seems no worse than spending a week in a two person closet on a cruise ship.

                    But I’m biased. Air travel allows me to travel home in a few hours as opposed to taking 24 of driving. It’s always the question of how much is your time worth.

          • I liked how they have at least one whole planet (Risa) where the population is wholly devoted to pleasing visitors, and they apparently don’t even get paid because there’s no money in the Federation. And Starfleet’s Finest is perfectly happy to let the Risans serve them.

          • And it was always nonsense anyway; in the eonomy they describe, neither Harcourt Fenton Mudd nor Cyrano Jones could have existed.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Or the economy of Next Gen didn’t exist in the time of the original series.

              • Jones was selling tribbles, and Uhura was going to buy one… money (credits) had to have existed at that point. In The Voyage Home, when Kirk told Gillian that they didn’t use money in the future, I always took that to mean currency.

                • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                  When it comes to differences between the “world” of the original Star Trek and the “world” of Next Gen, I ignore the Kirk/Spock/McCoy Star Trek movies. [Smile]

                • All governments are talking about banning cash right now. All money will be electronic accounts the gov can monitor. The get at the barterers that will spring up, they’ll implement the police state with internal passports…..

                  • As if any government has as yet demonstrated one quarter the competency to monitor and protect such accounts against misappropriation or datajacking.

              • In NG they played poker. That requires money or you’re not really playing poker. Poker without money (and in significant amount) is worse than kissing your sister.

              • Any economy that has effectively unlimited energy and the technology to transform it into any matter they have scanned (both of which involve elements common to both series, matter antimatter or fusion power and the transporter) doesn’t have a lot in the way of scarcity. The elements were there all along.

            • Or the Federation isn’t actually all of humanity.

              Which also explains where the heck all the half-breeds are, and the religious people, and anybody else who doesn’t fit the Fed form.

              (It’s established that half-breeds happen as easily between alien races as human races, all attempts to science it out to the contrary; there SHOULD be a heck of a lot more than one or two halfs in an entire season.)

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Technically, they tried to claim that all the half-breeds were by way of genetic meddling by the parents.

                Unfortunately, they also had that half Cardassian & half Bajoran child who had to be an accident since Cardassian law forbid matings between Cardassians and Bajorans. [Frown]

                • Several half-Cardassians. Also the human guy with a Romulan grandfather. And several half-Klingons. And a couple of other explicitly war-child halfbreeds.

                  Kind of like the attempt at saying that everybody was humanoid because of seeding, or setting a max warp speed.

                • The number of things forbidden by law that happened anyway is legion.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    True. But if having a baby requires “genetic meddling” and there’s a law against having sex between “species”, it become more problematic that a baby would happen.

                    IE the difference between “getting drunk and having sex with that woman” and “getting drunk, having sex and visiting that lab to make sure a baby happens”. 😈 😈 😈 😈

          • Picard’s vineyard would work because he would be selling artisanal whine.

      • Well, I do know every citizen in the ST universe has their own label.I believe the slogan is, ‘from each according to his distillery, to each according to his mead.’

      • There is a special circumstance in which Argumentum ad Fictionum is appropriate — the argument for what people of the era when the fiction was published would find credible.

        For example, when the Taylor Mob in Mr. Smith Goes To Washington suppresses the Boy Rangers efforts to get out their story, it had to have been credible to contemporary audiences. When Bradley Cooper and Matthew McConaughey shake their booties in Magic Mike they have to do so in a way that audiences didn’t unsuspend their disbelief.

        This does not mean such depictions are an accurate representation of what was going on, it merely speaks to what those audiences found credible about the society they lived in.

    • I think at some point somebody jumped the gap between “it will work LIKE (story)” and “it will work BECAUSE (story).”

      I’ve very carefully used stories as examples of how something would work, only to be accused of the latter; I’ve also frequently seem people do the “it worked that way in fiction!” argument used seriously.

      Not all of them are dishonest.

  4. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Non-political example.

    A person I know had her boyfriend “dump” her and almost immediately got involved with a jerk (when his mother tells the girl that he’s not good enough for you, the girl should listen).

    This person was a reader of “bad romances” (not bad because of sex) where the girl choses the “wrong guy” only to have the “right guy” save her.

    I had to wonder if this person thought that picking the jerk would “bring her ex-boyfriend back”. [Sad Smile]

    Oh, this was several years ago and the person had dumped the jerk & has been happily married for years now to a much nicer guy.

    • Also in those romances, at least fifty percent of jerks actually turn out to be good guys at heart. They’re acting like jerks because they want to drive the heroine away, either because they know they’re no good for her or because they’ve been hurt by love before and can’t risk their hearts again. A wise and worthy heroine will persevere and eventually end up with the wonderful, kind, handsome, and usually rich man who was underneath the jerk facade all along.

      While I don’t object to romance readers enjoying their fantasies, it’s worth noting that in the real world, 99.999999% of guys who act like jerks do so because they are jerks. No heart of gold, only a heart of jerk. It’s all jerk, all the way down.

      • This is also an area where the narrative is changing reality…a vast oversimplification of the PUA world, but one with some validity, is guys learning to be jerks because chicks dig (read have sex with) jerks.

        Once enough women embraced that romanced meme from the narrative the incentives kicked in and fulfilled demand. Reality, of course, doesn’t provide the turning back into a nice guy in the end.

      • You might have a generous definition of jerk, too– like not putting everyone who is less than perfectly polite and even cheery in that group.

        A lot of people use the “mean= jerk” definition; several of the more generous people I know depend on it, because they have a heck of a time telling folks “no” if asked for something, so they have to keep people from assuming it’s OK.

      • Sadly, the flipside of that narrative is that there *are* no good men; that all males are just barely restrained rapists waiting for their chance to ravish some poor, defenseless woman if they think they can get away with it. Unless, of course, it’s the worse one where *all* sexual intercourse, however consensual, is rape because females have no power in the interaction; in this case all men *are* rapists.

        • Unless, of course, it’s the worse one where *all* sexual intercourse, however consensual, is rape because females have no power in the interaction; in this case all men *are* rapists.

          *dry* That explains ravishment fantasies. *snark* *sarcasm*

          • I am advised, by reliable informants (letter writers to various “adult” magazines) that women, when confronted by an erect penis (especially one the “size of a beer can*”) lose all volitional control and compulsively “worship” such a phallus.

            It strikes me as a trifle dubious, as I think the things look a trifle silly, but then again I can think of no logical reason a man would want to see a woman’s bare bosom or stare at cleavage.

            Thus we have independent confirmation of women’s lack of agency in such interactions.

            *Reports have been notably unspecific about whether these are American beer cans or their Australian counterpart. Either way it seems likely to prove uncomfortable.

    • How did “bad romance” get to be so popular if the women didn’t like it?

      Admittedly, there’s the plot element of how to get conflict if the guy is a paragon. . . .

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        She liked that sort of romance but was foolish enough to think it happened in “real life”. [Frown]

  5. Real collapse is Venezuela!!
    People need to look at that, if they want to know what a ‘socialist paradise’ is really like. They went from a rich happy country to one of highly repressed beggars with no freedoms in only ten years.

      • But at least they have free tampons and toliet paper…oh, wait.

        • Leftist love to point to the ‘free’ healthcare and education in places like Venezuela or Cuba. But, how useful is a ‘free’ hospital with no medicines, no working machinery, and dirtier than the local flophouse? What good is a doctor educated for ‘free’ who drives a cab to get money to eat? What good is free food, or toilet paper, or tampons if you have to spend 6 hours in line to get them?

          • Or, which happens in Britain and Canada regularly, they’re government employees, so once that surgeon has put in his 40 hours, whether in 2 days or 5, he’s outta there, and everyone else does without his services until next week?

            • But in the world where everyone is paid the same for a job they would only do the job they love and be willing to be slaves to the government for the opportunity to do it.

              I work under government contracts. I am not allowed to work hours without pay even if I am salary. These bleary eyed idiots need to learn reality

  6. I read somewhere (perhaps in *Mistakes Were Made, But Not By Me*, which is still in Colorado) that we make decisions in our deeper, non-observable minds, and then tell ourselves stories in our conscious minds to explain why we decided the issue the way that we did. When the connection between the conscious and the deeper mind is good, the story may actually reflect that deeper thought process. Most of the time, the story is told to provide us with some explanation — *any* explanation — why we did what we did. This is especially critical when what we actually did was damaging somehow, and we need an excuse, fast.

    I’ve watched this mechanism at work in myself, and it’s real. I temper my confidence in my personal narrative accordingly. Alas, most people have no idea what’s going on between the two brains living inside their single skulls.

    • I’m sorry, I don’t believe in that, except in limited circumstances. It’s part of the latest pop sci trend to discredit individual decision making and will.

      • The findings on the lengths to which people would go to justify the actions of their non-communicating brain halves is what really laid the truth bare for me and established the validity of Heinlein’s aphorism:
        “Man is not a rational animal, he is a rationalizing animal.”
        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left_brain_interpreter

        • yes, some of them. some of the decisions. But even if it were true (it’s not, no more than Freudianism which also applies to some people most of the time and most people some of the time) the level to which this is being taken on the left (duh academics) negatives individual will and responsibility.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            But the Left’s views are perfectly rational, it’s the Right’s views that “aren’t thought out”. [Sarcasm]

          • Reality Observer

            Whenever I’m tempted to blame the subconscious for something, I remember the person who said (in relation to real people, but it still applies): “What, you are required to listen to idiots now?”

      • I’ve seen enough real-world evidence of it to have no doubt.

    • It’s a theory that fits in some situations, but the fit goes to pot when over-applied. That’s after the illusion of support that can come from lack of accurate knowledge– I never do things for only one reason, so when people ask me why I did them I usually give them the answer I think fits best. (Depending on situation, the one they’ll understand, the one that will take the least time, or the one that answer the question I think they’re asking; ie, “why did you do that so that I can predict when you will or will not do it again?”)

      Major problem beyond that, not all reasons are equal; “they were rushing me!” when in all honesty you know that you actually procrastinated isn’t the same as “this job would take 45 hours of labor, minimum, if nothing went wrong, and was only budgeted for five.”

      There’s also the possibility that the theory misinterprets the evidence; you’re not “making up” a reason, you are finding ways to describe what the top quarter-inch of the third fan blade in a running engine. Possibly when you were driving it on a very rough road, and you are still driving it.

      All of us here have dealt with the way it’s not easy to put things in words, right?

  7. Catticus Finch

    “This is why people like myself or the other Furies are NOT real women. Because women as they see in fiction are always on the “progressive” side. And all the “reality” they know is fiction.”

    Preach it, sister! When Madeleine Albitch (yes, yes I went there and yes, I would say that to her face because her comment infuriated/aggravated me that much) made that “special place in hell” quip and the feminists rushed to clarify and “put everything in context”, I was angry but not particularly surprised. I’m in academics, I know how women “are supposed to be” in order to be truly liberated.

    Right, ladies, let’s see how well living our life according to fiction has worked out for us. The farther down the road of fiction-adherence we go, the more anti-depressant prescriptions we need in order to face the reality.

    Yes, there’s far more to depression than that (I have clinical depression, so I’m aware first-hand), but I know far too many people who just can’t cope with reality on its own terms. They’re not necessarily depressed, but they go into doctor’s offices demanding anti-depressants just to “deal”. Typically, these are my fellow females and typically, they’re the ones who are most angry at the world. /rant

    Although, as a post script, considering that I just ranted on another person’s blog, I suppose I fall into the category of “angry women not coping with reality”. Heh, as I’ve heard said, “Hold up the mirror to others and you’ll eventually see yourself.” Which I think means you’re holding the mirror wrong, but I’ve never been good at parsing out aphorisms.

    • Yep, irony thy name is Madeline.
      Dropped my jaw first time I saw a clip of her making that pronouncement.
      Has she no shame, no ability to realize that the person she is promoting actively did her level best to destroy the careers and reputations of every victim of her husband’s sexual assaults?

      • Catticus Finch

        I really don’t think that she has the ability to make those realizations. Or, perhaps more frighteningly, she does and simply finds the over-arching narrative more important.

        Mention Bill Clinton and his treatment of women and the role that Hillary played to your average feminist, and you’ll be treated to the most vitriolic display of victim blaming. It’s shameful how many women (or are we still womyn? I burnt my feminist card years ago upon leaving high school so I didn’t get the current edition of the PC Dictionary) will sell out the reality of their fellow human beings to adhere to the fiction.

        • It absolutely made me furious, as a one-time small-f, equality feminist myself, to watch the Establishment Feminists go all ga-ga for Bill Clinton — and to the disgusting late Ted Kennedy, too — who treated women around them appallingly, but it was OK for the Estab-Femmes, because of their political orientation, but someone like Romney, who appears never to have mistreated a woman in his entire adult life — was some kind of sexist ogre, just because.
          Whatever happened to the standard of the personal being political, which the Estab-Femmes were all about early on? Oh, it doesn’t apply to conservatives, apparently.

          • I would regularly point out the it was one Bill Clinton, hero of the feminists, who, at their behest, signed into law the very legislation that authorized the very exploration into his predatory behavior towards women. In person I got angry stares, when posting … worse.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              But CACS!

              That Law wasn’t intended to be used by people with “Political Motives”!!!!

              Of course, “Political Motives” are by definition “attacks on Democrats”. 😈 😈 😈 😈

            • I loved the irony at the time. I exploded a few heads explaining to feminists.

            • Could I ask what the legislation in question was / what it did? I’m admittedly unfamiliar with this.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Don’t know the Law’s “name” but one of the big problems of Sexual Harassment Cases has been “He Said She Said”.

                IE Who’s story are the Courts/Juries to believe.

                The Federal Law in question allowed a Prosecutor to go into the past sexual history of the accused Sexual Harasser.

                The idea being that the Prosecutor could show activities of the accused in order to show “he’s done this before so he did it in the current case”.

                Ken Starr, as Special Prosecutor, was told to investigate the Sexual Harassment Accusation made against Bill Clinton.

                Thus to do his job (not what the Clinton AG wanted him to do), he had to look into Bill Clinton’s past sexual history.

                Oh, what do I mean by “what the Clinton AG wanted him to do”, I suspect that Clinton’s AG wanted Starr to “white-wash” Bill Clinton.

                What’s ironic IMO is that Starr’s team had been stone-walled by the Clinton White House concerning other matters that Starr was told to investigate.

                Apparently, by the time Starr’s team got the Sexual Harassment Accusation, they were convinced that the Clintons were up to no good because of all the stone-walling.

                So Starr’s team was more than willing to use the Law that Clinton signed to dig into Clinton’s past sexual history.

                The Clintons had convinced the team that there was hidden dirt in the Clintons’ past and this time the team was going to find it. 😈

                • Thanks for the explanation, hon. I appreciate it.

                  Pretty much once the Clintons started stonewalling, anyone with even a few brain cells would wonder “Why are they doing that, and what are they trying to hide?”

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Except for the News Media and the Democratic Party, but they might not have “even a few brain cells”. 👿

                    • I have vague memories of the whole Lewinski thing – I think we were in Europe at the time (memory vague as to whether we were in Germany or France); the media was painting the GOP as extremely petty and nitpicky about ‘something completely unrelated to governance.’ I think we were in France at the time, because the general ‘memory impression’ I had of the time was ‘having a mistress is no big deal, if we had to drag our politicians through the wringer for that, we’d have to do it to all of them!’ This was during a period of my life where I wasn’t interested in politics in real time…

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Once it became clear to the US New Media that Clinton was lying, the line became “Everybody lies about sex”. [Frown]

                    • Everybody lies about how much money they make, too. But do it on a signed, sworn document (e.g., a tax return) and see how far the “everybody does it” argument will get you.

                    • Always found it stupid that he wasn’t charged with perjury. The President isn’t supposed to be above the law.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Well, he lost his license to be a lawyer but yes he committed perjury.

                    • You can’t haul a President directly into court under our system; he has to be impeached and removed from office first. That’s always been a purely political process; the Founders apparently didn’t think we’d be “blessed” with a Senate where Party before Country was the standard.

                • Violence Against Women Act, signed in 1994.

                • Thank you.

                  I have been out of the house today and off line most of today.

                • The dirt was only “hidden” because nobody bothered to, say, look at the archives of any of the Arkansas newspapers, where some Clinton’s escapades had been made public despite the papers’ hardcore Democrat management.

          • but someone like Romney, who appears never to have mistreated a woman in his entire adult life — was some kind of sexist ogre, just because.

            Binders full of women. The fact that he wanted to hire COMPETENT women proves that he’s just an old white Mormon male.

            uhhhh… about that last part…

          • to watch the Establishment Feminists go all ga-ga for Bill Clinton — and to the disgusting late Ted Kennedy, too — who treated women around them appallingly,

            Even I was shocked when I read an editorial saying that if she could look back on Kennedy’s career on fighting for women Mary Jo Kopechnik would say it was worth it.

            I shouldn’t have been and shouldn’t be but was and still am shocked that anyone could write that much less see a major paper publish it.

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              Oh, so Mary Jo can finally be reached for comment?

              • According to the NYT yes.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                The last time that Ted Kennedy was attempting a Presidential Run, some medium claimed to have been told by Mary Jo Kopechnik that Ted didn’t know she was in the car. 😈 😈 😈 😈

              • The Kopechne Konstruct can be, yes. Just like Global Climate models it has been constructed according to the most scientific standards and precisely engineered to answer all queries just as if it were who they think she was.

          • “…but someone like Romney, who appears never to have mistreated a woman in his entire adult life — was some kind of sexist ogre, just because.”

            What comes after that “because” is… he was some kind of sexist ogre *because* he had a policy of seeking out qualified women for employment and he but their pre-computer age resumes in “binders”. Bastard.

            Good thing we ducked that bullet or women would be *toast*.

            • yes. This. The meme was so insane, I never thought it would take, but they kept repeating “women in binders” and all my lefty acquaintances thought he’d put them in binders to keep them from getting jobs… Head>desk.

              • Sadly it made more sense than illegal tampons…I have a number of people that I broke contact with to keep out of a 6×6 room.

                • Or even the “tampon tax” sillies (because sales tax applies to tampons which have no male analogue not providing a sales tax exemption to tampons is misogyny).

                  • If there is a sales tax on aspirin or depends or other similar products there should be one on tampons. All part of the same product class. But that is equality vs special snowflakism that imbues the modern piety

                    • *stomps foot*

                      but men use aspirin and depends but not tampons…us precious snowflakes use tampons. It’s not faaaiiir.

                    • I gather many of America’s soldiers use tampons — they’re reportedly highly effective for plugging gun shot wounds.

                      I understand they are also big purchasers of sanitary napkins/panty liners — they make very good helmet liners, absorbing sweat and easy to swap out.

                    • @HerbN

                      *Looks at draft card* The government tells me I may be sent to die if they so desire. You needn’t worry about that. If equal taxation of goods is misogynistic than the draft must be extreme misandry.

                      WPDE

                    • All part of the same product class.

                      Wasn’t it MSNBC that promoted using tampons as fashion accessories?

                      Men are just as capable of wearing tampons as earrings as women are, so they should be taxed just like any similar product.

                    • @aacid14: that’s different…it hurts men and not women so it’s not like it is hurting real people…besides it’s all male privilege.

                      @RES: they are both also good shoe polish appliers and buffers…knew guys whose boot camp company commanders encouraged them to buy them at the PX for that reason.

                      Actually, since women HAVE to buy them they should be free otherwise society is forcing women to buy women specific stuff and thus sexist.

                    • @HerbN

                      On the contrary! Women could choose to go au naturale like that one marathon runner who couldn’t be bothered to go on the rag, when she should have.

                      What’s that you say? Hygeine? Laundry? Blood-borne contamination?
                      What on earth are you talking about?

                    • To be fair, the marathon runner started running mid-race, went “screw it”, and finished the race before she grabbed a tampon.

                • I just Googled illegal tampons because I didn’t remember that one.

                  Obviously I was less active on Facebook back then or my head would have exploded. Romney was going to make tampons illegal? WTF?

                  • Part of my cynicism over the whole thing. It worked. It sounds idiotic but it’s like the excuse Reid gave to lying about Romney’s returns. “He didn’t win, did he?”

              • One might think, Sarah, that “women in binders” would appeal mightily to the “50 Shades Of Gray” crowd.

      • Madeliine Notatallbright might arguably be correct, providing you define “help” in a highly idiosyncratic way, probably one relating to “the Greater Good.”

      • umm you are talking about Maddie Al(not so)bright. Why would that statement from her shock you?

    • When you define people according not to objective standards (does person have penis or vagina? if penis, person = male; if vagina person = female; if both, person = hermaphrodite; if neither, examine for surgical evidence of alteration) but according to philosophical structure (a person adhering to this narrative is male, regardless of genitalia; a person adhering to that narrative is female, regardless of genitalia) it becomes quite rational to declare a mother of two, three, eight children as male because male/female have been stripped of physiological definition and reassigned to narrative characteristics.

      • Catticus Finch

        So then does the narrative trump perceived sexuality? Since the narrative says that sexuality is how the individual perceives it, do I still get to perceive my own sexuality, or does the narrative perceive it for me?

        • Some narratives are more coherent than others. Some will have you chasing your tail until your head is securely parked between your buttocks.

          For example, in the situation you describe, you get to identify your own sexuality as you wish, so long as you do it according to the definitions they provide. (Yes, these are people who took Charles Dodgson’s “Alice” books seriously. Never entrust humourless people with control of the narrative.)

          • Y’know, my hubby recently emailed me an article that claimed that the US Military was accepting that a person was ‘sexually identifying as a F-35.’ I was 65% sure it was satire, given the rest of the articles on that site, but on the other 35%, I was no longer sure because apparently, if a man refuses a woman’s invitations for sex, he’s reverse-raping her. I read a satire article on the reverse rape idea, but then someone actually used that as an actual, real life accusation. Also the recent article of a man getting accused of penetrative rape and taken to court even though there was video evidence to the contrary, and he’d only walked past her in a crowded subway station.

            Can’t tell if serious or fake any more.

        • SheSellsSeashells

          If your perception of your sexuality is not in harmony with the narrative, then you are a victim of false consciousness and must be enlightened.

    • Albright: any woman who voted for Obama when there was a woman on the GOP ticket is damned for eternity.

    • no, no. We cope with reality. we just get angry at idiots. This is part of reality. 😀

    • I’m in academics, I know how women “are supposed to be” in order to be truly liberated.

      The true WHAM* privilege: I am allowed to have my own thoughts.

      *White Heterosexual Able-bodied Male.

      • Unfortunately true.

        Built in easy out of any self-reflection when the “narrative” is that anyone who disagrees with you is caught in some sort of patriarchial delusion.

      • Catticus Finch

        Unfortunately, as a WHAM, all your thoughts are wrong. 😉

        • Perhaps but they are my own…they were not assigned to me by my betters (who are generally WHAM and some WFAM telling all women and brown people what they should properly think…yet somehow i’m the racist).

    • This is why I am not a feminist: I can’t put up with anti-feminism.

    • Getting angry =/= not coping.

      *hug*

    • I’ll admit to resembling that remark. Growing up in an environment well steeped in that culture and coming out somewhat normal and having a overly logical mind I tend to get broken at the Daliesque world these folks try to envision.

      If they kept it in their head it would be fine but here I am trying to walk down the sidewalk and they’re driving cars on it because their world’s all jacked up. Gaslighted by the world I guess.

    • Anonymous Coward

      Madeleine Albright – wasn’t she just like Jeanne Kirkpatrick, but without the brains … and the guts … and the successes.

  8. scott2harrison

    Live by the Narrative, die by reality (AKA the Gods of the Copybook Headings).

  9. At its core, the very concept of Culture is an working of narrative – the stories/myths we tell ourselves about who we are and what we represent. Successful societies either have Cultures closely attuned to reality or Cultures of such overwhelming power that they reshape Reality (easily done, short term; see Bonaparte, Third Reich, Soviet Union.)

    The narratives of the Ancients — that the world was over-run with capricious gods/spirits who controlled nature — proved less consistent with Reality than the Judeo-Christian conception of a sane Creator, meaning that Science was practical because Reality is consistent when relevant factors are properly identified and accounted for (one liter of water will boil at 100 degrees C at one atmosphere.)

    We run our narratives in our heads, little compiler routines interpreting other people’s actions on the assumption they are consistent (oh heck, we assume we ourselves are consistent; some of us even go to absurd lengths to maintain that narrative.) We subconsciously divide the world into Good guys, Bad guys, Lawful good, Neutral good, Chaotic good, Lawful neutral, Neutral, Chaotic neutral, Lawful evil, Neutral evil, Chaotic evil. We respond to actions of others based on our presumed classification of that other — while the physical interactions may be identical we respond differently to a caress from our mothers, our lovers, random strangers.

    At one time our detective fiction was rife with private eyes, brilliant amateurs and the like because most people understood the function of the police had more to do with maintaining public order than it did with any such abstract concept as Justice. At the core of The Godfather lies that conceptualization of the police’s function. The reality of the police? Eh, it depends a lot on the leadership and training/indoctrination of the police, but is is a bit of both with quite a lot else included.

    Much of the battle we currently engage is one over control of various narratives. BlackLivesMatter, SJWs, Hillary, Bernie, The Donald, Cruz and Rubio all represent somewhat different narratives, struggling for ascendancy. To what degree those narratives are consistent with the underlying realities (or are able to shape those realities) is perhaps irrelevant; I believe Hillary’s reality is far different from her narrative while Bernie’s are probably quite aligned — in neither case do I think their prescriptions beneficial to the public weal.

    • At one time our detective fiction was rife with private eyes, brilliant amateurs and the like because most people understood the function of the police had more to do with maintaining public order than it did with any such abstract concept as Justice.

      I’d say PI has retained it and that probably explains my love of it (as opposed to its more male wish fulfillment elements). It also has strong elements of good people trapped in bad roles such as the hooker with the heart of gold.

      Lawrence Block even gave his drunk ex-dirty cop PI and his ex-hooker girl friend a happy ending.

    • This may explain Obama. He sees the narrative and reality doesn’t impinge upon his consciousness. He decrees something and it will happen. He was flabbergasted by the Obamacare website roll out. He pulled the right lever. Why didn’t it happen. Of course his ideas are reasonable. They certainly are in his internal narrative. A narcissist living inside a Marxist narrative. Iranians are reasonable Valery Jarrett says so and she knows them because she grew up there.
      It’s not incompetence.
      It’s not evil intent.
      He is just a madman living in his internal narrative while holding the levers of American power.

      I can live with Cruz’ narrative since I believe it matches well with reality.

      • I’ve long suspected this about Obama.

      • An effective feedback mechanism is an essential design element. One reason absolute power corrupts absolutely is that power tends to impair proper operation of the systemic feedback.

        Obama’s refusal to meet with political opponents except to hector them is an instance of disabling the feedback mechanism.

        N.B., sycophantic press interviewers are not a good source of feedback.

      • “This may explain Obama. He sees the narrative and reality doesn’t impinge upon his consciousness.”

        To be fair, Obama was the product of a vast network of machinery designed to keep exactly that from happening. Lack of curiosity is not a virtue, but you don’t blame an orchid which was very carefully transplanted from rainforest to greenhouse for not grasping that the air outside either of those environments is a lot colder.

  10. I find it bizarre — way beyond astonishing — that no one has done a study into how soaked in narrative our age is, well beyond any other age before us.

    And yet this is the age of the deconstructionist …

    I think we can thank one rather nasty German and his henchmen who figured out how to use mass media to create a rather sizable whopper…

    But this exercise requires careful control of all media and now, with the internet, there is a way to combat it.

    • Oh, they’re fixing the Internet. See Twitter.

      • I believe that attempts to spread that nonsense will just result in the rise of a ‘black ‘net’ (other than the already-existing one, that is).

      • Or the internet is fixing Twitter. I imagine that Twitter’s investors are not very happy with what’s happening to it.

        • You do not need to imagine. Twitter is presently about a third of what it was a year ago.

          • The term “commercial suicide” seems to fit.
            http://chizumatic.mee.nu/commercial_suicide#c2
            Of course it cold be paying into the SJW universe:
            “I’m convinced that the modern social media business model makes sense. It just doesn’t make financial sense.
            The new business model is to build up a large customer base by being useful and reasonably impartial, and doing it at a loss to attract customers. Then, at some point, when you decide you have enough customers, you take your profit.
            But, not in the form of money. In the form of political influence. You’ve got eyeballs, you feed them a skewed version of reality designed to effect how they vote. You’ve got customers who are of the opposite political persuasion, you screw with them, and extract from them the opportunity cost of switching to a different platform right in the middle of an election campaign.
            Sure, your company tanks, customers eventually flee. But not before you’ve thrown an election.
            The big investors in companies like Twitter don’t object to this, because this is the profit they were looking for. They weren’t buying future income, they were buying a chance to push politics in a direction they like.”
            Suicide is not painless when you are business:
            “Not only is Twitter committing commercial suicide (the absolute number of tweets has declined rapidly as well, meaning less participation as well as fewer users), but management is opening itself up to a lawsuit from Twitter’s shareholders.

            I’ve heard some sources probing about the possibility of a class action suit against management for pursuing policies designed to shrink their user base, and there may be some justification for this. Several prominent alt-right and conservatives have left or have been banned outright, and the purging will continue as long as the anti-speech Truth & Safety Council exists.

            I’ve been trolling Twitter since 2012 and the best part of it was the silliness and insanity of the users. Now their TOS allow you to lodge a complaint against someone for “disagreeing with my opinion.” There should be a couple of alternatives to Twitter cropping up soon, though. Mark Kern is working on one for League for Gamers, and Vox Day is working with a group to put his own together. I know Quitter already exists, but I hear that’s also run by SJW types. “

            • This is a good time to hit Netflix or your local video rental and re-watch “Looker.”

              I watched it again during the last election season, and it was even creepier then than it was in 1981…

              The movie was written and directed by Michael Crichton, the same guy who did “The Andromeda Strain” and “Jurassic Park.” But it’s an order of magnitude better than those, though.

      • The Internet was designed by the military to communicate in the face of enemy action.

    • The thing about Herr Shicklegruber’s big lie machine is you’ll find that most Germans knew it was a bunch of nonsense. However, he was a winner. Right up until 1943, the bastard had the devil’s luck, and was able to pull victory from the jaws of defeat time and time again.

      • (Waggles hand) I’d say Hitler’s luck ran out sometime in 1942, and had had a few hiccups as early as 1940.

      • Unfortunately many had bought into the whole Social Darwinism. They embraced the idea that there was such a status as useless eaters … and that it was best for all to relieve them of their lives that were not worth living.

        We have our own problems down that line.

      • …most Germans knew it was a bunch of nonsense.

        Do you have any evidence to support that allegation?

        Even if “most Germans knew it was a bunch of nonsense” I suspect they also knew better than to say so publicly and therefore didn’t know how many shared their opinion.

        • Some of the interviews from “The World at War” kind of gave me that impression. The more I study the war, the more doubts I have about the effectiveness of “The Big Lie”.
          Sure, by combination of total media control coupled with the removal of free speech you can get the people to parrot whatever the Parti line is this week… but did the people really buy it?

          • I recommend the Marquis de Custine. The point is not that they didn’t believe it, the point is to corrupt them so they’ll act as if they believe it. The less believable, the better.

            • It’s not whether you believe the party line, it’s whether or not you follow it. Men with guns and using the idealistic that have not yet had reality mug them to enforce it has proven useful for at least a few generations. It may not be a long term society but it will last long enough for string pullers to get theirs.

              • Pretty much- eventually you hit Sarah’s “Third Generation”, and it all falls apart.
                In regards to full time propaganda, people generally don’t believe everything they are told. For instance, a few soldiers from the Allies thought the Holocaust was a bunch of propagandist nonsense right until they started liberating the first concentration camps.
                However, throw enough mud on a wall, and some of it will stick.

                • Remember that the British did make up a lot of German atrocities in WWI. So many that many people didn’t believe they had committed any. (They had.)

          • One notes that Goebbels in fact urged as much honesty as feasible in propaganda, and certainly did not say the Big Lie line. . . .

            But They Thought They Were Free is a good book on the topic.

    • After taking control of all print media, Josef Goebbels took control of radio broadcasting from the post office and made it part of his Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda. Then he instituted a program to put subsidized or free radios into every home, no matter how poor or rural.

      One reich. One medium. One Narrative…

  11. Note they don’t report the stuff that would cost him his conservative base, such as Planned Parenthood support, or wanting to put his liberal sister in the Supreme court

    Maybe it is just where I get my news but those were well reported.

    That said why should that cost him conservative support. On Planned Parenthood the GOP continued it when they held all branches and given the best opening every last fall the GOP blanched at cutting them off the government teat. Given O’Connor, Kennedy, Souter, Roberts, and the attempt at Myres why should his sister cost him support when despite the list above we are told over and over we can’t risk a Dem appointing a justice (admittedly they are better at appointing justices who agree with them at 100% as opposed to just under 50% for the GOP and it’s nominal beliefs).

    Screaming “he’s not a conservative” isn’t going to stop Trump. His supporters don’t care and I doubt they ever did. I think they gave up on a conservative every getting GOP support after the diaster of the current Senate (or earlier but that seemed to create a critical mass). To tie this back to the real point of your post, narrative, this is an example of us drawing negative connotations from narrative and applying them to real life. A constant refrain among conservatives with the GOP is Lucy, Charlie Brown, and the football. Trump’s rise is due much more to the thoroughness of that narrative among conservative GOP voters than any position Trump holds. Only by breaking that narrative (which the GOPe is reinforcing like the MSM and Marxism) can Trump be defeated.

    Not all the narratives we try to apply to life are positive ones.

    • the GOP HAS been improving its batting average. We do have a lot of legacy “conservatives” whose only conservative “virtue” is being anti-communist. Unfortunately we’re now throwing out the baby with the bath water.

      • I think you could sum them up with, I’m going to lose my job, I’m going to lose my business, my kids aren’t going to have decent jobs, my kids are going to get kicked out of college if they fail even once to tow the line, and the other Republicans won’t say they’ll help. Trump says he’ll help. Of course, Trump has nothing to lose and he’ll say anything.

        • Bjorn Hasseler

          It makes no sense for people who are concerned about their jobs to support someone who has no compunction about putting small businesses out of work. See the renovation of the Old Post Office Pavilion in DC. Boom. Two floors of restaurants and small shops gone and not coming back after renovations because they don’t fit it upscale nature of the renovations. Trump can soundbite anything he wants (and usually does), but voting for someone who is a beneficiary of the system and hoping he’ll change it is rather silly.

          • but voting for someone who is a beneficiary of the system and hoping he’ll change it is rather silly.

            But again, why does that argument against Trump not apply to the GOP in general…this has been the entire Trump problem:

            He’ll appoint liberal justices: Kennedy, O’Connor,etc.
            He wants to replace Obamacare instead of just repeal: GOP Congressional leaders and most of the “acceptable” alternative (ie, not Cruz) campaign on the same thing.
            He is a crony capitalist: see the current meme about Mitch McConnell’s wealth wandering facebook.

            It’s a bet…they “know” anyone GOP lies with 100% certainty but Trump is only a liar on a 50/50 bet.

            Also, that distrust of people in the system I think is harming Cruz, unfairly I admit, but it is…he is a sitting Senator and gets stained by Vichy Mitchy because of it.

          • That last sentence is precisely right.

        • Yup. The biggest Trump base is white men 45 to 65, the same group that the entire establishment has been ignoring and beating up on for the last ten years or so. The problem is that so many of us can’t get jobs in the screwed up system, get laid off by SJW managements and get pounded when we want to start businesses and taxed to death when we are successful. All the while we get be the bodies for all the leaches and we are tapped out.

      • Hence the reason I tied it back to narrative.

        The Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the Football narrative is strong in conservative GOP voting circles. I think Trump is a sign it has hit critical mass.

        the GOP HAS been improving its batting average

        Maybe…but from Gingrich to W there is a huge slump that I think poisoned a lot of the well. After all, in 1996 with a Dem president and a GOP Congress we reformed welfare. In 2003 with a GOP President and a GOP Congress we got Medicare Part D. I think that more than anything Obama has done explains current conservative dispair and embrace of the Football narrative.

        • The performance of the Gingrich/Clinton period relied on certain circumstances not since replicated. Clinton, unlike Obama, was a moderate Democrat (i.e., one who tempered his Liberal ambitions by what was legitimately achievable.) Just as “only Nixon could go to China,” reform of any of the pillars of the Liberal agenda, such as Welfare, required the cooperation of a Democrat president.

          Much of what happens in DC is a consequence of who gets credit/blame for success or failure. A Democrat executive allowed liberals to claim credit for conservative achievement, regardless of how staunchly the Democrat opposed those policies. This is why when a Republican president and Democrat legislature reach budget impasses and briefly close the government, it is the Republican’s fault, but when a Republican legislature and a Democrat president close the government it is the fault of the Republican.

          • I understand what you are saying about the Clinton/Gingrich dynamic but that fails to explain why a GOP President and GOP Congress went “new entitlement and new federal education expansion” instead of continuing the Clinton/Gingrich trend where both the WH and the Congress would be appealing to their core voters by doing so.

            • I’ve offered the defense of Part D and, as I recall, you accepted the premise of it as a pilot demonstration for how to reform Medicare as a line of argument, so no need to rehash that. My analysis of what the Bush Administration (and Republican Congress) was attempting as ju-jitsu against Progressive schemes follows the same reasoning, essentially an attempt to shift the Overton Window to fit in free-market reforms in place of centrally directed programs. That it didn’t work is due to a combination of factors, from the distraction (!) of the Iraq War to the opposition of Democrats, the MSM (BIRM) and entrenched interests. And yes, I acknowledge the possibility that such reforms might be impossible/ineffective — there’s not really any way to tell, is there?

              It is one thing to condemn a strategy as failure, another to grasp what its goal was and why it failed. I think we can largely agree that George W Bush was not the rhetorical force that Ronald Reagan or even Newt Gingrich was; it may well be his goal was unattainable, it may be his strategy was ineffective, it may also be that his strategy was misdirected.

              Criticism is always easier than comprehension, even if comprehension goes far to inform criticism.

              • I agree that W was not Gingrich or Reagan and not just on rhetoric. I don’t think, in retrospect, he was the strategist either man was. I think that has been eclipsed when we look back on them. Everyone now discusses how the fall of communism was inevitable but Reagan’s thinking it was ever doable was considered proof of unseriousness in 1980 (most near future sci-fi had the Cold War running to at least 2100). Yet that determination had a lot to do with at least the timing of the collapse.

                In that respect while I’ll willing to accept your premise I remain unconvince of the strategy compared to a linear continuation of devolution to states and/or ending other programs.

                However, that was beyond my point here. That shift in strategy is easily fit into the negative narrative I’ve labeled Charlie Brown, Lucy, and the Football. That narrative already had strength and other Bush actions fit it fairly directly (such as NCLB).

                Adopting the idea on this point, narratives, to our willingness to accept negative narratives actually has the best explanatory power for what I see behind the Trump phenomena. It also, perhaps even at this late date, provides a counter to Trump…a competing narrative of beware of outsiders bearing gifts, that might work better than, “he’s not a conservative” which just feeds the Charlie Brown narrative.

                I think we on the right haven’t been critical enough of the stories we tell each other. Beyond the conservative grassroots thinking they are Charlie Brown there is a GOP establishment narrative or three that has crippled there ability to hold the base (such as “shutdowns lose elections” ) and have made it hard to fight Trump (it’s not about what we’ve done because he’s not conservative).

                • It’s not fashionable to note but a lot of our current Congressional leadership problems date back to Newt’s Speakership. McConnell, Boehner and others who are now senior leaders in the Congressional GOP were badly traumatized by the crap they took for the shutdown and have been desperate to avoid it ever since.

                  • I am aware of that. However, I judge them less by backbencher status under Gingrich than junior leadership when the GOP had it all.

                    As for the shutdown trauma that should have been repaired in 2014 after Cruz’s 2013 shutdown cost them squat. Yet the act like the lost big in 2014 because of it.

        • Yep! Well past time to kick the shit out of Lucy.

        • I will never, EVER vote for a “Compassionate Conservative” again.

      • The problem is the one dimensional right/left political spectrum. Jerry Pournelle, among others, has proposed a two dimensional plain. Who knows, maybe a three dimensional volume would describe politics better. As someone commented yesterday Sanders and Trump are both populists. Populism is one of those things that permeates the entire left/right spectrum.

    • We’re a *really* bad sample, here. Even folks who don’t follow the news are still getting a lot of stuff that isn’t showing up elsewhere– I use my parents (listen to a good NPR for the music, get news with it; top of the hour news, sometimes some TV news about once a week) as a means to reset my gauge on “normal” for adults, and my yahoo-is-my-news sister for the more younger single adult demo. (Less because she is than because that’s who she works with, and she blends in.)

    • The only way that the GOPe could beat Trump is if they actually started talking to the rank and file outside the Beltway. Since they can’t seem to do that, they are screwed.

  12. Actually, if you talk about Mad Max, trouble is that there are several different worlds in that series. The first movie, “Mad Max,” depicts the economic and social collapse of Australia, with roving motorcycle gangs. “Road Warrior” depicts total non-nuke collapse somehow resulting from a Pacific basin conventional World War over oil. “Beyond Thunderdome” is post-nuke but trying to be somewhat believable. The recent Max Max reboot, which I’m going to skip, seems to be post nuke with every atomic war cliche ever produced crammed together, even the ones that we know would not happen. (multiheaded mutants, etc.) “Mad Max” the original is still disturbingly close to our world.

    • Closest to real world. That is why The Road Warrior is the least popular Mad Max movie.

      • Yet Road Warrior is the one most people are familiar with, that so many post-apocalyptic movies have riffed off of it looked cliche’d now. And very few people appear to have seen the original movie.

        Which, by the way, exists (in the US market, at least) in half a dozen different versions, some so brutally edited I doubt someone could make sense of it if they were seeing it for the first time. (see also: Phantasm)

  13. Real collapse is getting the electricity turned off, not permanently but randomly, a few hours a day, so you never know what to count on.

    Real collapse is trying to figure out how to use a wood powered Sterling engine to power your home made machine shop that you figure will be your first line of income when power is too unreliable to make computer work a wide field 🙂

    What, a guy can dream…

  14. ” Yes, to us the absurd turns of plot are obvious, but remember they had a pre-scientific mentality. For all they knew there were vegetable lambs just over the rise.”

    That’s not a pre-scientific mentality. That’s geographic ignorance.

    Witness that an SF writer could put vegetable lambs on Alpha Centauri.

  15. You know who had that collapse narrative going on, was the Bolsheviks. Turgenev illustrates it in Fathers and Sons, and it was a theme. I suppose everyone who wants to start a revolution has to have a narrative of how they want it to go. Look at all the Bolsheviks and similar who insisted that the first thing to do was to destroy society, so that they could build from the ground up–they wanted collapse and assumed that things would then go their way (or they just forced it to, since in collapse conditions, the manipulative and the ruthless climb to the top).

    I always think that’s weird. You can’t just collapse society and then rebuild a whole new one. People have to eat in the meantime.

    The most actually collapsed society I can think of would be post-WWII Eastern Europe–with nearly all institutions destroyed, practically no authorities of any kind, no schools, no workplaces, no police…a massive vacuum, with the dazed survivors looking for family members and food. So what happened? The nearest big power took over. Plus ethnic groups slaughtered each other even more. Doesn’t sound like anything I want to live through.

    • The Other Sean

      I think the Eastern European situation had a lot more to do with the Yalta and Potsdam conferences giving Eastern Europe to the Soviets than there being a vacuum. The time between Axis presence disappearing and Soviet presence appearing was seldom more than a few weeks; sometimes it was a matter of days.

    • Also, famine. War ended but food was not a thing until the farmers had returned and planted and reaped. . . .

      WWII killed as many people from hunger as from weaponry.

      • Not only that, but 1946 was very cold, causing considerable destruction of crops and causing trouble with distribution of what was left.

      • I was surprised as kid when I saw Race for the Double Helix and one scene revealed that in Britain (not untouched, but more well off than eastern Europe) that rationing extended well into the 1950s.

        • Old book, called 84 Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff described that too. She was sending them meat and eggs(?) and these were things they hadn’t seen for months.

  16. What if it isn’t exactly “fiction” or “story”– what if the category is wrong?

    You point to stories about King Arthur fitting in the broader category… broaden it more.

    How did Christ teach? With parables– stories.

    In modern terms, the thing you’re grouping as fiction might better be described as a word-model for a situation.

    The “satisfaction” is the brain-version of the satisfaction after a good meal.

    The stories are a tool to understand reality– but the same folks who go “people who have specific goals at 13 are successful at 30, so let’s make all 13 year olds set specific goals” keep acting like the map is the place.

    The word-models can be right or wrong for a specific situation, just like any other model; a well designed model with have all the relevant points represented, while clearing away the rest.

    Kinda like a statue. Take a block of marble, remove anything that doesn’t look like the picture in your head.

  17. Various people keep trying to get me to write fiction. While I love a good escape fantasy, from time to time I have to put it down and deal with the consequences of my own ineptitude at the basic everyday functions of life.
    I find that I am more attracted to writing history.
    Yes, there are good guys and bad guys in real life; although they are seldom either quite as good or quite as bad as the heroes and villains of either outright fiction or political polemics.

    • Some people just do not understand or even see the difference between real life and fantasy. Especially that narrative known as history.

      • It’s hard to write good history: careful, conscientious, honest, and fair. It’s much easier to let your own biases and preferences take over and write a narrative that argues a cause and ignores evidence to the contrary of whatever your thesis is. I suspect that a lot of people who are supporting bad causes these days have been misinformed by just such biased narratives.

        • History is the story of man. In essence it is the story of people of varying darkness and light. But when schools teach you to always write to a narrative the greyness of John Brown or the founders is overlooked for black and white.

          • That’s one category of error. Another is to make the light gray and the dark grey indistinguishable

        • I had a moment of pure misery when I found a source (that I had not been looking for) and it contradicted one of the main hypotheses of my masters’ thesis. I wanted to cry. I wanted to make the data go away. Instead I sucked up and rewrote a large chunk of the work.

          Facts are evil, mean things. Being a good historian is not nearly as much fun as writing what you wish the narrative had been. (Viva alt-hist!!)

      • Sadly, all too many modern historians use history as a basis for fantasy, drawing connections that are untenable, making suppositions that are nonviable, drawing conclusions from the inconclusive.

        See discussion elsewhere this page about self-freeing slaves. Note current accusations about Founders being slaveholders (when I was young the accusations about George Washington ran from him being a pothead to him being angry at the British for pbstructing his desire to steal land from the Amerindians across the Alleghenies.

  18. Because if the villain uses trick,s then it’s pure evil. The hero can do it, though, because fiction.

    It’s evil fiction.

    I wish there was a softer way to say it, but the designated hero trope is an inversion of truth on such a basic level that there’s no other word for it, as wrong as ignoring relevant differences to declare two things the same is. It’s a lie, and one that destroys the chance at finding truth.

    • We had to grind through part of “The Odyssey” in high school. In the version of the story we were given, Odusseus and his gang land on an island, make their way to Polyphemus’ home, and then start pillaging it. Polyphemus then blocks the entrance to his home, preventing their escape, and starts killing and eating the burglars. Which, as far as I’m concerned, he is absolutely justified in doing. Someone breaks into my house and start stealing my stuff, I’d be unhappy too. But the official line was that it was all Polyphemus’ fault, and he should have been glad thieves targeted his home, “because hospitality”, of which he was showing none, and therefore deserved being blinded.

      I got an “F” for not regurgitating the party line on the test. Screw them, Odysseus gang were a bunch of thieves and deserved what they got.

  19. Was watching some local access show about raising the minimum wage, round table type thing, right? So a couple of the guys are saying “having a different wage in each city is bad for businesses that cover the state because they have to navigate all the different rules for each city.” Someone answered that with “it’s not as big a problem as it sounds because navigating those rules is what businesses do every day.” Not a deep exchange but each fellow had a reasonable argument for and against that was true to reality, the question merely being if the impact of increased complexity of book keeping justified a state-wide law. And they move on to the economic impact of raising the minimum wage. The guy against it mentions this and that PhD economist and professional organization of economists that all predict certain sure outcomes of raising the wage. So the woman sitting there pipes up… well, you’re quoting a bunch of highly paid “experts” and for each one of them I can show you 100 economic experts making $7.50 an hour who feel that you’re wrong. She explained no mechanism as to why the bad results wouldn’t happen.

    Because according to the narrative, what she *wants* to be true will be true if enough people *want* it to be true. And if anyone disagrees it’s because they don’t *want* poor people to have better lives.

    I blame news polls… “If you think that Scott Peterson is guilty, call 555-0001. If you think that Scott Peterson is innocent, call 555-0002.” As if the truth of a situation is subject to a democratic vote.

    • The Pontius Pilate search for truth: Who knows? Who cares? seems to be depressingly popular these days.

    • “… according to the narrative, what she *wants* to be true will be true if enough people *want* it to be true. And if anyone disagrees it’s because they don’t *want* poor people to have better lives.”

      Sadly, this form of thought is pervasive today. Unfortunately, there really is no way to argue against that particular tricycle of thought (not enough brain-power in it to make up a whole train of thought), because a well reasoned argument, relying on solid data and evidence is just going to be ignored in favor of what she *wants*. It’s exasperating, I know, one of my ex-wives was exactly like this.

      The only proper comeback for that “I can show you 100 economic experts making $7.50 an hour who feel that you’re wrong” line is: “Gee, if they are only making $7.50 an hour, they must be SUCKY economic experts then, huh?” The reality is, it doesn’t matter WHAT the government says. The real minimum wage is $0. If a business can’t afford to pay $10 an hour, you ain’t got a job. $7.50 an hour is at least SOMETHING.

      • Democracy cannot be a substitute for data. Even in science the idea of consensus drives me nuts. It’s only a consensus if all of the experiments are actually exposed and show meaningful results. Otherwise it’s like the yearly flip flop on dietary calls.

        • LOL… True story. At one point the state legislature of Indiana tried to pass a law legislating the value of PI.

          Just because it is impossible, doesn’t mean they won’t try to do it.

          • Ya. I remember that. And it’s a great story of a flimflam man getting politicians to push his thoughts by obfuscating them and making them feel special (first state to have proof of a historically unsolveable problem)

    • “it’s not as big a problem as it sounds because navigating those rules is what businesses do every day.”

      blink

      I wonder what other burdens he would deem justified on the grounds that they are merely added to existing ones.

  20. This tendency is one reason why I like the episode(s) that nearly every long-running TV series does where things turn inside out. I just watched one of the Supernatural ones where (in which?) there is a play about Sam and Dean, then Sam and Dean show up. It’s also why I liked Redshirts. When you twist fiction that hard, it becomes obviously fiction as its own narrative crumbles.

    Somewhat related that occurred to me while reading the comments: I find it strange (suddenly) that I enjoy fiction because I completely do not understand sports. There is enough drama in the real world (Repubs vs Dems, Bloods vs Crips, Israel vs Everyone, Russia vs Ukraine, and on and on); why do we need to invent drama? I think the key is the word “drama”. It is not invented “drama”; it is invented “conflict” and almost always zero-sum conflict. The narrative of fiction has many other possibilities. I’m not sure as I’ve never noticed this self-contradiction before.

    • I completely do not understand sports.

      People like sports because, done properly, it is uninhibited human excellence. All participants* are doing their best to win within the constraints of the sport.

      *Except those with bets on the point spread or instructions to take dives.

      • Martin L. Shoemaker

        And it’s unscripted. (Let’s leave aside pro wrestling, fixed events, etc.) Unlike fiction, NO ONE knows what’s going to happen. You may have strong guesses, but there’s always the possibility of a surprise. The chance to see something completely unexpected is a big part of the thrill.

        I also do not really understand spectator sports. I used to enjoy participating, but never understood the appeal of watching someone else play a game. Lately I’ve started to understand that the surprise factor is a big part of the appeal, and watching humans push the bounds of excellence is another.

        • And it’s a real competition where people succeed or fail on the merits of their performance, not on what color they are, who they know, or any of that. 100 yards is 100 yards no matter who you are. Three points if you get the ball between the uprights, six if you get it over the line, and a chance for an extra one or two afterwards.

        • Reality Observer

          I’m probably an odd duck – but I can only watch sports that I am unable to do (and never was).

          So, the Summer Olympics, I’ll watch only the gymnastics.

          Winter Olympics, though, I’ll watch anything of.

          (Wups, exception time. I will watch Women’s Beach Volleyball in the Summer Games, if I have any idea of when they might show it… And I was a volleyball player for many, many years.)

    • 200th episode. Season 10. Fan Fiction.

      (yes off the top of my head, have you seen my blog?)

      That’s not even the first time the show did it. See also Season 5’s “the Monster at the end of this Book.”

  21. Pingback: News of the Week (February 28th, 2016) | The Political Hat