Dreamers and Men of Action

I confess when listening to Leonard Cohen’s “The Traitor” I love the lines “The dreamers ride against the men of action; oh, watch the men of action falling back.”

I also will confess that I identify with “the dreamers” in those lines, though I’m not sure that’s true anymore.  But as a teen I was very much a dreamer, with my head in books or in the clouds.  Many of the things I dreamed were air-fantasies and impossible and I didn’t even know it.  Many others would be tragedies, not the utopia I imagined.

And in a way I was a “woman of action” in the sense that I walked everywhere in all weathers and I’ve always had a constitutional (not that constitution) tendency to roll up my sleeves and DO when doing is needed. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t see myself as a “dreamer” of “impossible dreams.”

Part of this was my identifying most with dad, who is actually a man of action, but who is also a reader and someone with his head in the clouds half the time.


But even though I identify(ed) with the dreamers, I loved  books with hyper-competent heroes. (Yes, including female ones.  The opening of Friday is riveting because someone is following her and she doesn’t drop and cry for help, but takes care of it.  Efficiently.)

I loved authors who could do what I knew d*mn well I couldn’t: get dropped head first into a situation and control it and come out on top.  Some of my favorites, like A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, The Prince and the Pauper, Robin Hood, and of course The World of Tiers and Operation Chaos, Puppet Masters and The Door Into Summer hing exactly on that hyper competent hero doing what he must do.

I love these not because I am like them, but because I’m not.  Because it’s fascinating to watch someone with everything under control.  And it helps me, too, not panic when the excrement hits the rotating object (so many times this year) to think “Okay, there’s another way to handle this, now.)

I’m not saying I don’t love hopelessly neurotic characters as well, though the only one I can think of, early morning and sans caffeine is the main character of Fire and Hemlock, by Diana Wynne Jones, (she has reasons to be neurotic) or for a more “dreamer” the main character of Way Station by Simak.  (My husband wouldn’t allow me to name a son Enoch.)

But yesterday as I was falling asleep, I realized why the science fiction establishment keeps saying we only want big bad male action heroes.  You see, they’re hopelessly in love with characters who when the going gets tough curl into the fetal position and scream for mommy.  They think this makes the characters sensitive or special.  They think in fact that dysfunction and the inability to work in the world as it is is a mark of specialness, from intelligence to insight.

I think this is because most people who are attracted to science fiction are “odd” — we stick out.  We tend to think non-standard thoughts.  We work at odd angles. That’s fine, every primate population has its “goats”, it’s “outliers.”  It’s how social species work.

Many if not most of us were bullied or mistreated by our peers as kids.  Most of us, when interacting outside the community, still get the “you’re weird” look.

Some of us — I’d guess about half — figure out that’s the way we are, that’s the way life is going to be, and we derive strength from it and learn to work in this strange world of ours.  (I swear half the reason that book sold was the title.)  Others … curl up and cry and demand accommodations, and say the world should accommodate them.  It’s all so unfair.

Most of the establishment right now is the half that want accommodations, for themselves or others they imagine weak and in need.  I think most of this comes from a decent pity and concern for your fellow humans, and from wanting to help them.  Unfortunately it’s also misguided, as they tend to identify the people needing help by Marxist class and race markers, which actually have bloody nothing to do with who can cope and who can’t.  In fact, the ones less likely to cope are the ones raised in too-easy circumstances, regardless of their skin color or wealth. Because humans are a scavenging animal, reverses and challenges harden and improve the individual. (Of course, it is also possible to have too many of these and break.)

The thing is and what makes no sense is that even those of us who write men (and women) of action don’t write what the other side accuses us of writing: privileged, flawless creatures who stride on the scene and set everything right.

Were there some books like that?  Sure, to an extent.  A lot of World War II wrote World War II veterans.  I was reminded of this when reading The Book Of Ptath recently.  I hadn’t read it in decades, and when I read it I remember the type was familiar, (though I couldn’t tell you the other similar heroes I read.)  I don’t know if Van Vogt was a veteran, and, right now, am too lazy to look up his bio.  But his character has an overlay of a personality that fought in WWII and which has a “can do” attitude towards the world in general.

I vaguely remember reading a lot of those, and they are yep white males (mostly white.  I have a vague idea not all) who had won a difficult war and were men of action not daunted by anything.

My guess is most of those books were written in the 40s and 50s, but even then they weren’t universal.  Theodore Sturgeon tended to write more nuanced, thoughtful characters, as did Heinlein (yes, I know, but they haven’t read the books, have they?) and so did a lot of others.

I, myself, and h*ll very much Larry Correia, not to mention John Ringo and others write people who act out of a deeper trauma.  Yes, they’re men (and women) of action in the sense they try to fix what’s broken in the world and try to take care of themselves and those they feel responsible for.  BUT often the reason they feel responsible and what makes them rise above average is a deep trauma, a deep flaw or some crack within themselves from which flows both insecurity and the ability to get things done.  (I think these characters are far more authentic, anyway.)

So why do these books offend the mavens of the establishment so much?

Having dipped into their offerings, my guess would be because they think the only AUTHENTIC response to being broken is to curl up and stay broken.

Now that is the only valid response to being broken beyond all boundaries, but people like that, though they exist, of course, and excite our compassion, of course, don’t make very good characters.

“And then they were all killed by a flaming meteor” is a lousy ending but it’s vastly preferable to a series of books about people dithering and hesitating and suffering reverses and humiliations from which they can’t escape.

And yet, people read them.  I mean, there is no doubt of that.  I don’t know how big an audience this has, and I don’t know how many of them are influenced by the “great literature” shill, but some amount of people do read it.

It wasn’t until yesterday when one of the commenters insisted if books didn’t show people like you you felt “erased” that I realized what might be the driver there.

Some people ONLY want to read about people like them.  I don’t understand the attraction, but then I am someone who crossed the ocean to live in another culture, so I’m attracted to knew experiences and different situations and tend to assume most SF/F readers are.  But perhaps some just want the validation of knowing no one, not even characters, can hack the world, and therefore the only reasonable thing to do is to be neurotic and ineffective.  I don’t know.  Even when I feel neurotic and ineffective, I don’t want to remain so (like now) and I certainly don’t want o live in other people’s heads when they’re being neurotic and ineffectual.

But maybe it is the attraction of the similar and the “I’m not guilty of doing nothing.”  Perhaps.  In which case there are a lot of broken people out there, and it’s a little scary, because most of them are white, upper-middle-class and have no reason to be that broken.

Anyway, so when they’re complaining about us wanting “White men doing manly things” when our characters are either not white or not men (or various variations of white men, definitely not straight or non-handicapped, for instance) what they’re doing is reflecting inherent racism in their world view.  Because what they actually mean is “Your characters are too competent.” And in their heads, that means white and male.  Which is the ONLY thing that explains why they call competent female characters “men with boobs.”

Anyway, that was my sudden flash of understanding.  And while I don’t care if they want to read about neurotic people being neurotic, and I don’t care if those books are on offer (not my circus, not my monkeys), I neither consider them the highest form of literary expression, nor want them to be the ONLY books on offer.  I don’t think they fit with the tastes of the vast majority of the human race, nor that — frankly — they’re a healthy attitude.

Let them have their books, of course, if they enjoy them, but don’t let them dictate that these are the only “good” books.  And don’t let them close the market to others.

“The dreamers ride against the men of action; oh, watch the men of action falling back” is a great thing for a teen.  Teens don’t have the experience to solve things and identify with similarly paralyzed characters.

But if I wrote the scene now, the dreamers would have enough resources within themselves to REALLY make the men of action fall back and, thereby, become men of action themselves. (And women, duh.  It goes without saying, but I know some people need it said.  In this the human experience is not that bifurcated.)

Because that is the path to maturity and more importantly that is the path to a functioning society.  Neurotics are interesting, but they have to learn to act in the world before their stories are interesting.  Otherwise they’re just neurotic and rather pitiful.

And now I’m going to go pack boxes.  Because– Because when this is done I get to write.




597 responses to “Dreamers and Men of Action

  1. The Other Sean

    My husband wouldn’t allow me to name a son Enoch.

    For which your sons should be extremely grateful. No offense to you, or to anybody named Enoch, but I think that’s the type of name that’d make a kid catch pure hell in school.

    • I knew a man named Kirk Newkirk. His father had a bit of fun naming him. His wife threw a complete fit when he handed her the birth certificate naming Kirk Newkirk’s son Brand Newkirk. She ripped it into shreds.

      • One of our Eagle Scouts was named James Kirk. (not a T though….)

        • We had a Sergeant James Thomas Kirk when I was in Hawaii (not my unit). There were quite a few people who were trying to get him to go to OCS (to be fair many were doing it because they thought he’d be a great officer. Others… not so much.) That last crowd in the parenthetical was also trying to get him to switch to Navy after going officer. His response was, and I quote:

          “No, I know how the higher ups think. I would make Captain, and they WOULD give me the Enterprise. I refuse to be Captain James T. Kirk of the USS Enterprise!”

          We had a Lt. Commander Picard as well (female though) down at Pearl.

          • There was an Air Force Captain James Kirk when I was at Misawa AB in the late 1970s. There also was the head of the base hospital, Colonel John Savage. Who was a medical doctor, of course.

            And a prize a-hole, without a sense of humor. He was only called Doc Savage, Man of Bronze behind his back.

          • When I was in the National Guard, one of my fellow Speedy 4s (Specialist, 4th Class) had the unfortunate name of Major Minor. When he attained the status of NCO, of course, he became and was continually referred to and addressed as Sergeant Major Minor. Neither he nor the battalion topkick were amused by the situation.

            • Where/when was this? Because, I think I knew that guy… Or, there was another set of humorists out there, naming kids…

              My guy was named Meiner, though…

              • MN ARNG mid-’80s. I’ve always hoped he stuck it out to become Sergeant Major Major Minor, or went OCS and eventually became Major Major Minor (he was a very sharp cookie), but I lost track.

            • The Sergant Major for the Batallion was a young lady with the last name of “Major”. She was a Sergeant. Many a conversation went like this:

              “Sergeant Major’s office, Sergeant Major speaking.”

              “Pardon me. Please hold while I put you through to the Sergeant Major.”

              Fortunately I never had to call that office while she was on duty (one of the perks of shift work.)

              • Way back when I had a Soc 320 class taught by a grad student, name of Mann. He requested we never address him as “Professor” as he was not one yet. But I could never bring myself to address him as “Mr. Mann” and in consequence that class saw probably the lowest level of contribution by me of any course since my Frosh year.

                • Sigh – I once lived in a barracks where there also lived an of-married female NCO who usually tagged her surname and the name on her barracks door with Surname and the name of her most recent husband. Yes, it read SURNAME-Mann, at the time I lived in that barracks.

                  And at the time I lived in that barracks, she had her current significant other living – or spending most nights in that room with her, (Yes, it was a female barracks at the first, later a mixed dorm and yes, there were male significant others who unofficially lived there ,,, also a male with his male SO, which also was an open secret AND ANOTHER STORY ENTIRELY) and the First Shirt inspecting the dorm on one particular occasion, looked at her door and laughed cynically, saying “SURNAME – and – Man”.

                  Yes, sometimes I have been tempted to do it all up as a soap opera.

                  • You’ve likely got enough material for about ten years worth of plotlines, but I’m not sure that there is a huge market for “As the Barracks Burns”.

                    Swear to God, were I to write up all the crap I observed in my time in, I’d never, ever be believed. I tell people some of the stories, and they just look at me like “Yeah. Right. Sure, that really happened. Uh-huh…”.

                    And, what’s really messed up? I’m actually toning the tales down from reality, in order to make them more believable.

                    • I don’t know about the market either, but if I didn’t know James Herriot’s I don’t think I’d have guessed how veterinarian stories could do….

                    • Wasn’t there a Yuuuuge market for stories about Army doctors in the Korean war before M*A*S*H was published?

                    • Oh, I started on it, a while back – Air Base Group, a collection of tales from the female barracks. (At that first assignment, there was still a holdover from the old days, and all the female troops lived in one single building. The efficient transfer of all base-wide gossip was awesome to behold.)
                      I think that the very most soap opera-worthy development was when I was in Greenland – and a male troop who worked for me was spending alternate nights (and very energetic nights, with lots of moaning and the bedstead banging against the wall) with the women who lived in the rooms on either side of mine. Yes, I knew it was him – and that the two women involved couldn’t stand each other, and if I had ever let on that he was getting it on with both of them …
                      That would have been epic soap opera indeed.

                    • Unlike reality, fiction is constrained to be believable

              • Friend of mine was an X-ray tech, and one day when he was processing people waiting in line for their X-rays, he once had to explain that when he called “Sergeant Major” he meant Sgt Major, not the SGM also waiting.

            • Two of my Naval Academy classmates were Robin Hood and Richard Dick.

          • Come to think of it, there is a Captain Kirk in the Navy. I think he is or was captain of a Virginia class submarine.

      • My Dad’s mother was Rosie Rose. The nurse filling out the birth certificate misunderstood Great-grandma.

      • When I played little league baseball, I had Casey Jones on my team.

        I also went to school with Bill Bailey.

    • Is it worse than “Sue”?

      • How about girl named Greg and two named Christopher — all of whom I have known?

        (Shut your dirty minds!)

        • (Shut your dirty minds!)

          Too late.

        • I have been reliably informed that as soon as my mother was pregnant my father declared I would be named “Herbert Howard” and when questioned it didn’t matter if I was a boy or a girl.

          • Reality Observer

            Ah. You were endowed with a great deal of luck at your very conception.

            • Actually, I think I used all mine up escaping being the lead singer of a Riot Grrl band whose first big single was “A Girl Named Herb”.

              Because you know a girl named Herb is doomed to be a punk rock dyke (although as fates go there are a lot worse…like being Damien Walter).

        • Christopher M. Chupik

          I dated a girl named Jack once. Not Jackie or Jacqueline. Jack.

          She never explained.

          • “Dated” as in went on one date with? Or “dated” as in was in a dating relationship that lasted for a while?

            The former doesn’t create obligations to explain that sort of thing. But if that was a long-term (for some value of “long”) relationship, I would have thought she would explain at some point…

    • Enoch would fit in well in at least two of the private schools nearby and the local community. There’s probably a few Enochs already there. I’ll have to ask my Mennonite neighbors the next time we talk…

    • When I mentioned I liked the name Beowulf, my mother told my wife not to let me near the birth certificate.

      • My first advisor when I went back to college had a son while I was there and she and her husband named him Arthur Yggdrasil.

        • The Other Sean

          How very…. mythical.

        • Reality Observer

          Hmm. I could envy that. I have an unusual middle name myself, but not an unusual middle initial. Having “Y” might have avoided a two AM in the morning phone call from a woman that was absolutely sure I was the father of her baby…

      • When I was married, and my wife became pregnant, I jokingly suggested that we use a nice old-fashioned English name like Ethelred for a boy or Boudicca for a girl. She had trouble with the names, so, for the rest of the pregnancy, we were referring to “Wardle.”

    • My paternal grandfather was, shall we say, ‘disappointed’ that I was not named Adrian after him. I thank my father for resisting the pressure, especially after the release of Rocky.. I suppose my dad watching the travails of my uncle Adrian may have had something to do with it. The disappointment of my grandfather grew when Adrian likewise did not become my middle name after I was named after my maternal grandfather, but I am likewise grateful that I did not become Robert A.. Gram’s disappointment was ameliorated somewhat when my middle name was my father’s given name, though with a Scandinavian spelling, which was the same as my maternal great-grandfather’s.

      I went to school with a fellow named Richard Skinner. Yeah, that’s right, Dick Skinner.

    • I have a cousin Enoch. He’s a pilot.

    • Friend of a friend way back when carried his ID absolutely everywhere simply to prove that his name really was Richard John Thomas Longdick. No, he never did forgive his father, but he never changed his name, either.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    I like strong competent characters but I want them to be challenged by the situation.

    I wonder if part of the “whines” comes from people thinking a “strong competent character” won’t be challenged by the situation that they’re in.

    • I just finished re-reading The Blue Carbuncle this morning and it occurred to me that, as much as I love Sherlock Holmes, he does suffer from being a bit too perfect at times.

  3. “they want to read about neurotic people being neurotic.” Then they should read mainstream fiction, which seems to be almost entirely that. The reason SF, and mystery/suspense, and westerns, and horror, and probably most other genre fiction have such dedicated readers is that we (the readers) don’t want to “read about neurotic people being neurotic.” We see enough of those folks on the news, and in real life. We expect the people in our fiction to be better than that.

    • I received John Irving’s Hotel New Hampshire as a gift and, upon reading it … well, the narrator loses half his family in a plane crash and my reaction was “shame he didn’t lose the other half and his own worthless self, too.”

      Me, I have a fondness for characters like Tell Sackett, a man who can be bushwhacked, fall off a cliff, hunted down, escape to climb back up to find his wagon burned and his wife murdered — and bring down a war on the varmints what done it. And still seem human.

    • Yes. Very much so. Real life can be very frustrating at times. At least I read mostly for relaxation and to charge my batteries, I NEED stories where efficient, good people manage to solve their problems in order to cope with real life.

      And maybe to maintain faith. There are good people, true love and whatnot in real life too, and that is what makes things bearable, but they can be a bit hard to find, or to notice even if they are right in front of you sometimes when things in my personal life, or in the world in general, have gotten depressing. It’s easier to pick up a book when I need the reminder. Neurotic people not doing anything worthwhile may be rather true to life but not very useful because if we all went that way – well, what’s the point? No point. Just curl up and die, already, if that is what you want. I’d rather not.

      • Hence the uneasiness which they arouse in those who, for whatever reason, wish to keep us wholly imprisoned in the immediate conflict. That perhaps is why people are so ready with the charge of “escape.” I never fully understood it till my friend Professor Tolkien asked me the very simple question, “What class of men would you expect to be most preoccupied with, and hostile to, the idea of escape?” and gave the obvious answer: jailers C. S. Lewis

      • Patrick Chester

    • yeah, that gets old, fast.

  4. “the reason they feel responsible and what makes them rise above average is a deep trauma, a deep flaw or some crack within themselves from which flows both insecurity and the ability to get things done”

    For example, Breq, the protagonist of _Ancillary Justice_, is the only remaining fragment of a ship AI who used to occupy multiple human bodies, and whose ship was destroyed on orders of the galactic overlord the ship served.

    • You pick a good example of something that I personally, at least, will cop to as a failing on my own part, although I think it also demonstrates a point of the philosophy being here argued.

      I have heard lots of praise for Ancillary Justice, but I have never been able to get through it because, as I’ve admitted in other places, I simply found navigating the female-only pronoun usage of the book’s language too annoying. Whenever Breq described another character as “she”, which was the only pronoun she had in her language, I had to stop and read the text around that character as closely as possible to figure out, if I could, what the character’s real sex was, because I like to visualize characters as I read them and not knowing their sex makes that difficult. As a result, the time and work required simply became too much to make the book enjoyable for me, and whatever lack of persistence or paucity of imagination that demonstrates in me is my fault — I’ve heard from enough people who weren’t bothered by this that I can’t call my response “typical”.

      However, the fact that the author did this at all became more and more peculiar to me in hindsight. As you describe so aptly yourself, here we have a mass-mind star-going dreadnought-controlling AI reduced to a single humanoid body and setting out to take revenge on her galactic overlord . . . and somehow that plot isn’t interesting enough, the pronoun gimmick needs to be added into it? The unavoidable impression with which I was left was that if the author wasn’t interested enough in that plot to write it without the pronoun gimmick, I found it hard to see why I should be interested enough to work past that gimmick to read it — and that is the philosophy being here criticized: that characters who overcome deep trauma to defeat mighty adversaries seem to no longer be considered interesting or entertaining in themselves, unless they can somehow serve as a backdrop on which one can hang an examination of social issues like gender in language. (My own personal belief is that much of the weirder deconstructive SF of the past two decades has been simply a fervid desire for novelty, among a spoiled-for-quantity fandom.)

      • I tried to read the book and bounced off it the first time for much the same reason you’re describing. It took some effort to read past the pronoun gimmick, but I found it not much more of a gimmick than other SFnal attempts at alienness. What worked for me was engaging with the gimmick—but on its own terms, not those of the reviewers who gushed about it and ignored the rest of the book! (And what I found was a decent book: it’s no Lord of Light, but it’s also not Redshirts.)

      • As a result, the time and work required simply became too much to make the book enjoyable for me, and whatever lack of persistence or paucity of imagination that demonstrates in me is my fault

        This is where experimental literature is not what new authors should be doing (see a couple of posts back where I quoted Dali about learning surrealism).

        The author needs to make sure the payoff for working through the experimental parts. My favorite example in sci-fi does that…Book of the New Sun has a ton of experimental ideas but the whole is so overwhelming once you get it that the work was worth. It was a slog the first time and a re-reading wasn’t much easier but the story and the plot and the characters and the world were worth it.

        That Wolfe was over a decade into his career before he even started what should have been his magnum opus (he keeps writing so all bets are off that he doesn’t do it again). He had the chops to do it and had established himself so as a read I’d think going in it was worth the work.

        Leckie, bless her heart, had neither and now has tainted a lot of pallets so that when she gets the first she’ll lack the second. It also didn’t help her cause that her “experiment” was both clearly political as much as literary and also had been done better before her.

        The more I think about it the less annoyed at Leckie than the agent and editiors who didn’t sit her down and explain now was not the time in her career to do that. The reason, among others, you go trad over indie is you get knowledgable people who stop you from doing stupid stuff. Here it seems they put their prestige (as the agent and editor of an award winning author) ahead of solid advice to her.

        I would also point out that there are more copies of the latest Moorcock and Lee reprints at my B&N on any given Saturday than copies of any title of her triology. Often it is more (when a new reprint hits) than her entire triology combined.

        Yet the Moorcock and Lee aren’t even Hugo winners (or nominated if memory serves).

        • “Our pockets were full of deng, so there was no real need from the point of view of crasting any more pretty polly to tolchock some old veck in an alley and viddy him swim in his blood while we counted the takings and divided by four, nor to do the ultra-violent on some shivering starry grey-haired ptitsa in a shop and go smecking off with the till’s guts.”

          The more I think about it the less annoyed I am at Burgess than at the agent and editors who didn’t sit him down and explain that now was not the time in his career to do that.

          • Gee, I didn’t realize A Clockwork Orange was Burgess’s first novel while he was trying to establish his career. I could swear it was his ninth.

            Also known, as do you even bother to get the point.

            Leiche tried a literary experiment in his first novel that a lot of readers ran into a wall with. Having no established “she’s a good writer worth the effort” to tell them to push through several dropped the book. When she writes something else some people will see it with a bad taste in their mouth and reject it.

            Burgess tried a literary experiment, and yes one arguably more challenging than Leiche’s, but he had a strong relationship with a core readership who would fight through because they knew Burgess was worth it. They provided impetus to others to push through and so on. Thus the risk to Burgess’s career was smaller.

            Add into this that Burgess was writing general literary fiction and not genre fiction where the expecations of the audience are different in terms of difficulty of reading and yes, Leiche was given bad advice by her agent and editors in a career sense.

            The only really good wedge of attack your comment might have is a reflection on the quality of the general reader in 1962 versus 2013. The audience of the earlier year might be claimed to be more up to the challenge. Of course, that might undermine your argument that the quality of 2014 Hugos, voted by modern lazy readers, is that of 1962 Hugos votes by traditional working readers.

            • Leckie’s Imperial Radch books were reviewed by NPR, the NY Times Book Review, and Entertainment Weekly, among others. Rather than being an impediment to sales, the linguistic experiment provided a hook that reviewers looking for novelty could latch on to.

              • Which is precisely my point. The linguistic experiment came across to me as a novelty deployed to appeal to critics, not a technique deployed for the benefit of the readers or the story.

                In hindsight I have come to believe that that is an unfairly reductionist description, but I don’t think it’s entirely inaccurate, either, and as admitted I am simply the wrong audience for that kind of approach.

                • For a first novel, Leckie not only hit a home run, she tore the cover off the ball. She does say that she was cautioned about the pronoun thing, but went with it anyway. I doubt she has any regrets about the choice. Not everyone will like every book.

              • Notice the subtle shift from readers to reviewers. . . .

                • When prominent outlets review books, it brings those books to the attention of readers. Leckie said a while ago that AJ sold about 30K copies, which is a huge success for a first novel.

                  • Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone had, as of late 2001, sold around 12 million copies. It also seems to attract a diverse collection of readers, as it’s been translated into 67 languages. If you consider Leckie’s 30,000 to be a smash hit, what do you call Rowling’s record?

                    I’m not necessarily saying Ancillary Justice is a bad book. It may be that it’s not marketed well, or something else isn’t right. And of course selling a lot of copies doesn’t necessarily make a book good. But the numbers differences are stark, and there’s obviously a disconnect somewhere. There’s obviously a market for Science Fiction and Fantasy. Consumers of Science Fiction and Fantasy (I don’t want to say readers, because despite the efforts of those like Ms. Rowling, many have switched their habits to other media) are everywhere, except reading the “best” Science Fiction and Fantasy, and the self-appointed curators of what is the “best” Science Fiction and Fantasy don’t seem to be interested in bringing the millions of people they missed into the process.

                  • 30K being “a huge success for a first novel” pretty much says it all about how the genre has declined.

                    • That’s not only for genre – that’s for any first novel.

                      It is a fact of publishing that there are a few books at the top that have enormous sales and everything else gets a pittance. Look at this from 2008 – http://www.thebookseller.com/news/scholastic-decline-following-potter-success – Scholastic’s children’s book revenue went from $300M to $60M representing a year in which they had a Potter book and the year after. And by then HP was a movie franchise, which expands book sales exponentially, viz. _The Martian_.

                    • You have to wonder where the readers, and their $240 million dollars they spent in a year worth of books, went. Some of that went to other YA series of dubious quality, no doubt. But why?

                      I’m not trying to pick on Hy with this, because the point is applicable across the board. I actually haven’t read any of the Harry Potter series (though I’ve spent some time getting basic knowledge in order to have some cultural literacy on the subject), which tends to surprise the many people that assume the one Science Fiction and Fantasy geek they know has read the one recent Fantasy series they read. I generally have passed on the YA series, figuring my reading time is limited enough as it is. As a Pratchett fan, I did read the Tiffany Aching series, and was struck with a puzzle: Pratchett’s a good author with a long track record; why didn’t all those readers that finished Harry Potter pick up one of his works instead of moving on to Hunger Games and Twilight?

                      I think a lot of this starts at the publishers. Way back in 1984, a new author was struggling to get his first novel sold; he shopped it around with no luck. He happened to have some connections with the U.S. Naval Institute Press, which publishes non-fiction works generally related to the history of the U.S. Navy, and they agreed to publish their first novel, The Hunt for Red October. Rowling, comparatively, got lucky in her long quest to get her first novel published, in that she eventually found a receptive up-and-coming traditional publisher, in part because the publisher’s CEO’s kid liked the book. We have two debut novels that went on to be massive best-sellers, and both authors had to struggle to get their foot in the door. Why did so many publishers miss the potential in those works?

                      I think it also exposes a lot of the issues with the debate over diversity. Joanne Rowling is billed as J. K. Rowling because the publisher thought the book wouldn’t sell to boys with an obviously female author. Oh the other hand, with no diversity tricks, enough people can identify with the protagonists that the book has been officially translated into 67 languages.

              • the linguistic experiment provided a hook that reviewers looking for the proper virtue signaling could latch on to. No novelty was involved.

              • being an impediment to sales, the linguistic experiment provided a hook that reviewers looking for novelty could latch on to.

                1. Reviews are not sales. Sales are where people pay money for your book. Reviews in NRP, NYTBR, and EW are of copies provided free.

                2. If this was so good for her sales why is her entire trilogy stocked at a lower count than 30+ year old reprints by authors who never even got nominated for a Hugo.

                • This also assumes the reviewers had no agenda of their own, no desire to push SF/F into a more “enlightened” direction.

                  It neglects the facts about reviewers that Gamergate has revealed.

          • Point, but Burgess didn’t write the entire novel in Nadsat, and Alex shows himself capable of using ordinary English when he can or has to. Burgess also has the knack, as per your quoted passage, of leaving just enough English in there so an accurate impression of meaning comes through, even if the details alienate.

            Ann Leckie is a very good writer, but I don’t think she quite has Burgess’s gift for knowing exactly when being deliberately obscure will engage the reader and where it will only frustrate the reader. Which is only my opinion, granted, and I have already conceded the limits of my aesthetic judgement there.

        • Same thing for Crichton’s “Eaters of the Dead”, the book the movie 13th Warrior was based on. I was ready to love it, but Crichton wrote it in this pseudo-medieval Arabic accented English, and it was absolutely unreadable.

      • Well, you could just visualize all the “shes” as actually female, which is what I mostly found myself doing, given the strength of meaning of the pronoun in English.

        On the other hand, the linguistic device of a society that largely does not call out gender in dress and language has great synergy with a protagonist who lacks gender, having started life as a ship AI, not a human, and whose human bodies were both genders. The confusion you’re supposed to feel as a reader mirrors the confusion Breq feels as a now single-bodied human, cut off from the support systems and other ancillaries of _Justice of Toren_. There are scenes where Breq is embarrassed when dealing with people who do use gendered language and getting the genders wrong.

        I think it’s wrong to look at the ungendered “shes” as a gimmick that the books would be better off without.

        I’m also reminded of Doug Hofstadter’s paper on pronouns: https://www.cs.virginia.edu/~evans/cs655/readings/purity.html

        • “Well, you could just visualize all the “shes” as actually female….”

          That was one of the approaches suggested to me, yes. I couldn’t make it work myself because too many of the characters didn’t “ring” to me as female in any other ways; Breq’s own acknowledgement that the pronoun was inapplicable in hindsight kept disrupting this for me as well.

          As for whether the books would be “better off” without the pronoun gimmick, I’ll freely concede that the book might have been less interesting from a certain philosophical viewpoint; I contend it would have been infinitely more readable and entertaining if Breq had mastered the knack of using correctly gendered pronouns within, at least, the first third of the book, or if the story had regularly switched off to other POVs who didn’t have the same language limit. (It must be admitted here that for all I know, it did; I wasn’t able to get past the opening chapters myself.)

          I have to admit that I have an inbuilt antipathy in any kind of art towards techniques that simply ring too self-consciously “clever” to me, so I am a bad audience for experimental stuff like this in general. But I honestly believe that you should not make a reader work harder than they absolutely have to in order to enjoy a work, and if you do want to make them work hard, don’t make them work hard for an entire novel unless it’s really going to be worth it.

        • I haven’t read the first (it was unavailable locally during Hugo season last year), I have read the second, and rated it last for the Hugos last year. The gimmick was a gimmick. We have a so-smart-and-aware-she-can-practically-read-human-minds AI and she can’t figure out something as basic as gender? It went down hill from there. There are other better ways of conveying confusion, and it was a massively lost opportunity for character growth.

          There was a story in there screaming to get out (and from the glimpses that did get out it looked like it would have been amazing if she’d been willing to actually tell it rather than hint at it), but Leckie was so lost in her gimmick and the trappings around the story that she never actually let the story get out, just an outline and some world building. It peeped out in places only to be stuffed right back into its box. It contrasted very poorly with the other offerings who at least told their stories, though they had their flaws (The Goblin Emperor had a massive conflict of register. Three Body Problem suffered from some issues in translation. Kevin J. Anderson’s suffered from ‘I’m in the middle of this and a little lost’ syndrome. Skin Games had a few theological things that made me twitch with the need to debate the author with citations in hand, then again most things dealing with demons do, but was by far the best of the lot and a huge amount of fun to boot.)

          • I really enjoyed “The Goblin Emperor” immensely. But I kept getting the feeling that, despite it’s setting, it wasn’t really a fantasy book.

            I was also annoyed at the description of the birthday clock. 😉

            • It is the “human with pointy ears” elves and goblins sort of fantasy — not very fantastic.

              though if more writers who made their elves humans with pointy ears made use of the ears the way she does, I would complain about it a lot less.

              • … if more writers who made their elves humans with pointy ears made use of the ears the way she does …

                Is that something you can explain without spoilers? Or do I just need to go read the book to understand it? I would do the latter without even asking, but libraries in this country tend not to carry the latest American SF/F. And my book budget is highly limited (so I tend to need libraries for books I’m not yet 100% sure about), so it’ll be a few years before I can manage to read the book.

                • the ears are mobile. She uses them as part of the routine expressions of describing how people are feeling.

                  • Oh, awesome. That’s a brilliant idea. And, like most brilliant ideas, it’s completely obvious in retrospect (dogs, cats, horses, etc.), but never occurred to most people — certainly including me.

                  • Sort of the way Weber did with the hradani, but more so?

            • I had trouble dealing with the disconnect between a very old world dialogue vs. a very modern narration style (though even that was wobbly.) It was a historical novel. Change elf to french and goblin to moorish (or Austrian/German) and it could have been the french court with only cosmetic changes.

      • I found the gimmick part mildly annoying, in the bit I read. Now I’m used to dealing with unisex pronouns in my mother language, mostly the mildly annoying came from the fact that it just seemed odd with English. Also as far as I am concerned she didn’t do it right because right would be the way it’s dealt with in Finnish. We maybe don’t know from the pronoun which sex we are talking about, but when it is about some specific person instead of some generic human whose sex doesn’t matter or when it’s about a generic human but in a context where sex does matter there usually are plenty enough hints given as to the sex of the person unless it is just told in plain language up front – you know, you start with “this guy” or something similar.

        I didn’t find the protagonist or the story particularly engaging. At least not what was in that sample. Competent enough writing, I guess, just not my style. It was not something I felt any need to purchase based on that sample.

  5. richardmcenroe

    Yer not foolin’ anybody. White Mormon Males like you just come here for the chocolates and nylons. 🙂

  6. … it’s fascinating to watch someone with everything under control

    This is the attraction of James Bond, Mission Impossible and other such dramas. It is also why we take pleasure in jugglers, prestidigitators, dancers and athletes. We have all had the experience of being children, of lacking confidence in our competence and a sense of wonder at how adults navigate reality.

    • Tsk. Somebody (I won’t name names) forgot to check the Notify box before the Post button. The floggings have already commenced.

    • It is why you see me watching all of Burn Notice, Leverage, Criminal Minds, White Collar, etc but have no interest in Sons of Anarchy, Breaking Bad, or The Sopranos (I mean, neurotic gangsters, really people…what happened to psychopathic gangsters…give me Good Fellows any day instead).

      When it comes to my light entertainment I’ll take competence porn any day over most of the rest.

      • One item I like with Criminal Minds is that the UnSubs run across the whole spectrum as opposed to the Law and Order paradigm. Once in a while they also have the person as just evil and broken as opposed to the idea of ‘only the desperate’ commit crimes.

        • In the world of Criminal Minds evil exists.

          • One of both the best and most troubling things about the show. In some episodes the evil is viseral it makes me ill.

            I completely understand why Mandy Potempkin left (he said the show’s subject matter was getting to him).

            • Patinkin. He has no relationship to a certain Russian prince.

            • I’ll admit it has gone more to the ‘squick’ factor as it went on but it’s more honest than lots of other shows.

              • Oddly, the two episodes that have creeped me out the most are pretty low squick directly: the doll woman and the puppet guy.

                • Those are more the ‘evil in mens souls’ stuff. And how depraved some people are.

                  I was referring to the ones where there was obvious gore or items that was not really necessary for the story.

                  • Which is why I think those spoke to me in the sense of staying with me. That bother centered on people who were pushed to beyond broken as children only to have an event in their adult life reopen that trauma and make them a danger to others. That they often with no malign intent in nor gratification from the harm they were inflicting made it even worse. That someone could do something that horrible to a child and then other people pay the consequences.

                    And especially with the doll woman the ability of the writers to get my sympathy for the unsubs made it a memorable episode.

                    • Ya. That is one of the two reasons I highly prefer this series over others is that it does actually delve into the idea of how we can break or not break given our histories. Every single member of the team gets hurt/has been broken/etc over the series but they learn to use/work with it. On the other hand you see people break and go feral. And you see pure evil in others (Reaper).

                      Similarly, I liked Flashpoint for the emotional focus on the team, but it failed the test when pretty much all of the criminals were just folks driven to the last straw rather than a mix of the last straw/angry/etc.

                      This is actually one of the underlying threads in both my stories that I am finishing, the idea of ‘what breaks a man’ and ‘how does the past make a man’

                    • When will we see those stories…you’ve get me intrigued enough to want them on my LG branded Kindle.

        • Their unsubs also aren’t reliably proxies for whatever progressive cause this week’s episode is championing.

    • I have a soft spot for John McClane.

      He bleeds, but he keeps on going. He despairs, but he doesn’t give up.

      • And I finally figured out that C4 tied to a monitor and dropped down an elevator shaft *could* go off since you can burn, impact, or run a current through C4–but not any two at the same time. Damaged CRTs *can* shock you.

        • … you can burn, impact, or run a current through C4 …


          … but not any two at the same time.

          *Boggles further*

          Okay, now I’m seriously impressed by that stuff. It’s the perfect combination of “won’t go off by accident while being handled by an 18-year-old infantryman” and “WILL go off pretty reliably when you need it to”, which is exactly what’s needed in military work. But how did they manage to get that combination of properties? I’m not a chemist or explosives expert, but it seems to me that “Won’t go off by accident” and “Will go off when you want it to” would be almost direct opposites.

          Yet the people who came up with Composition 4 managed to get both of those properties in the same substance. Dang, that’s impressive.

          • I spent twenty-five years as a Combat Engineer, working with C4. To my knowledge, there is no electrical sensitivity to that material whatsoever. Well, at least as a practical matter–I’ve seen C4 that was struck by lightning and not detonated. Set on fire, yes… Detonated, no.

            Now, EOD has told me that with the right amount of voltage, and with enough amperage to actually vaporize some of the compound, it will detonate. I have not seen this, and I do not know the numbers. I do know that even the huge static shock generated by helicopters coming into an LZ will not generate enough of a shock to detonate the stuff, because I’ve seen guys carrying it get zapped by grabbing the sling load gear.

            C4 is basically RDX and desensitivers/plasticizers. RDX crystals, all by themselves, are very sensitive. The stuff used in C4, however, does a lot to mitigate that, and it will only detonate with sufficient thermal impulse and high pyroshock. Lighting it on fire and jumping up and down on it will not do it, despite the many “old soldier’s stories” passed around in boot camp. Doing that still ain’t what I’d call a good idea, but it’s highly unlikely to result in detonation.

            • …it will only detonate with sufficient thermal impulse and high pyroshock.

              Ah. So overloading a wire running through it so that the wire not only vaporizes, but ionizes into a plasma, should do it.

        • McClane used the monitor as a weight. He had managed to seize all the detonators when he took Karl’s brother (Ho, Ho, Ho.). This is why Hans Gruber knew they would eventually had to go after McClane before they were done.

  7. Because what they actually mean is “Your characters are too competent.” And in their heads, that means white and male.

    I have often claimed that progressives have done more to prove to me that WHAM (white, heterosexual, able-bodied males) are inherently superior to anyone else than the sum of white supremicists and male chauvanists in history.

    After all, if WHAM, who at best are 5% of the world’s population, can:

    1. Oppression everyone who isn’t one
    2. Have everyone who isn’t a WHAM know they are oppressed
    3. Be so good at #1 the only effective strategy for non-WHAMs is to protest and whine hoping WHAMs will stop oppressing people and be nice

    then I have to conclude that 1 WHAM is more effective than 19+ non-WHAMs (given some WHAMs have joined the non-oppression side) in order to continue the oppression.

    If that is true isn’t white and male the definition of competent?

    Of course, maybe, just maybe, white men aren’t the source of all the world’s problems and everyone else isn’t oppressed and thus my conclusions are wrong. Valid conclusions from wrong premises are still wrong.

    But those are their premises and their logical conclusion is the superiority of white males.

    Yet somehow I’m the racist, sexist, homophobic, ablest.

    • I think the point is the attitude. Not a fatalistic “Insh’allah” one or a “I know my place and I’ll stick to it” but the one that says I can go out and get more and better.

      There are plenty of people who aren’t WHAMs who have that attitude but, until recently, I’d say it was the majority attitude of the WHAM but not the majority attitude of people who weren’t

      • One item that has needled at my mind for a long time is that when you look at the cultures that grew and advanced tended to be ones that pushed out. It’s similar to “Who Dares, Wins”. The folks that left the initial agricultural cultures were by necessity either the brave or the driven out. As migration grew you got some forms of self selection away from the core tribe as the expansion grew. And those that ended up in the rough frozen lands that became people of pallor also learned to fight the environment more than necessary in more temperate areas. By necessity they had to create the new technology and those that survived tended to be the best of the group.

        As such you may have evolved cultures that targeted different desires and mindsets focusing more on ability than kinship as it moved farther away from the core region and where the population had less raw resources. That type of ‘Can Do’ may be an example of that until populace gets fat and happy.

        • It pretty much had to be the odds who decided to walk out of Africa to places where nobody knew what was different.

          The fact that this happened over and over again in prehistory and resulted in populating the whole darn planet well before anything more technologically advanced than pointy rocks existed to help things along makes it only more remarkable.

    • I think their name says it all: SJW. What the h*ll exactly is ‘Social Justice’? I don’t want social justice I want JUSTICE. You know, like the old b&w Superman who fought for Truth, Justice and the American Way.
      I am truly sorry that Barack Obama’s ancestors sold Michelle Obama’s ancestors into slavery. But how exactly does ‘social justice’ make this my fault? The Salem witch trials were an example of ‘social justice’, but there was d*mn little justice involved.
      The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one. My response is to let them get theirs the same way I got mine; work, accept responsibility for your actions, live within your means, accept a hand-up but never a hand-out. The manly-man or the competent woman are an anathema to SJWs because their actions are not tempered by ‘social’ considerations.

      • It is not your fault, but it is your privilege.

        • Privilege is also a social construct. But exactly where is my ‘privilege’? That John Carter my great-something-grand father died during the Civil War? That my University was burned to the ground, thus making Harvard the oldest ‘continuous’ university in America.
          If I was out beating my slaves for not picking cotton it would be my privilege. My ancestors are from Appalachia, they never owned any.
          Privilege is just another label for ‘bash whitey’, nothing more, nothing less. I accept responsibility for my own actions; however, don’t attempt to demand I accept responsibility for something from 150 years ago. That is your hang-up not mine.

        • Well, it is true that it is a privilege to be alive, instead of to never have existed. But most of my Scottish and Irish ancestors were probably “daer,” unfree, not “saer,” free. The same is true of a large proportion of European immigrants to the US, some of whom were actually legally serfs or slaves up until the moment the boat pulled out.

          On the other hand, a lot of African-Americans are descended from African-American slaveholders as well as from African-American slaves. Or Cherokee slaveholders of African-American slaves, for that matter.

          So if we are going to talk privilege, we obviously either get very nosy about genealogy and issue little cards defining one’s percentage of ancestral victims and villains, or we politely keep our noses out of other people’s family business and treat each other like human beings.

        • People used to say, “There are so many people without even a roof over their heads. Look how blessed we are. Maybe we can’t afford to buy new clothing, but we never go hungry and we can stay dry when it rains.” And then they would use that as a reason to go out and help those less fortunate.

          These days, people say, “There are so many people without even a roof over their heads. Look how privileged you are to have a house, a job, whatever.” And use that as a reason to browbeat you into supporting their favorite political causes, because of your “privilege”.

          These days, “privilege” is a word used only by social bullies. You don’t want to be a bully, do you, Mr. Rosen?

        • Privilege is a benefit that accrues to you based on what you are, not on what you (or your ancestors) did. For example, if you are a white child playing with a toy gun, there is no chance that you will be murdered by police officers; if you are a parent of a white child, it does not even occur to you to worry that such a thing might happen.

          • Declaring that a member of one group has “privilege” just for being members of that group, unless they are in highly-stratified cultures like in the Caste system in india, merely gives members of other groups a convenient excuse for when they fail. It also gives them an excuse to give up, “I’ll never make it, I don’t have privilege”. Overall, it’s just a tool of the Left for keeping control over minority populations.

            And when a minority does manage to pull himself up out of his situation? Why then he is denounced as acting like the group which is supposedly benefiting from “privilege”, so no one wants to emulate him.

            Besides, there are so many people here who started off in bad situations, that talking about “privilege” is just foolish. I’ll admit that I’m not one of them – some of the stories I’ve read about how some of these people spent their youth leave me hugging my picture of my mom and dad for giving me a good, stable, middle-class home to grow up in.

          • … if you are a white child playing with a toy gun, there is no chance that you will be murdered by police officers …


            Yep, the cop who killed Andy Lopez sure could tell his race at a glance. It’s completely obvious to everyone who looks at that photo that this kid was Hispanic. “No” chance? False.

            Now, do accidental shootings of kids with guns happen more often to black kids than white kids? Yes. Are cops more likely to see a black kid holding a gun as a threat than a white kid holding a gun? Yes. The real question is… WHY?

            Being safer because other people who look like you commit crimes less often and therefore the police aren’t tense as they approach you isn’t a “privilege”, it’s what everyone should experience.

            So tell me. If I’m white, and I want black people to be able to experience safety when approached by a cop, which is more likely to help?

            1) Scream about racism and have cops put through more “sensitivity training” to make sure they are even more nervous about approaching a minority*?


            2) Try to figure out why black people are committing crimes in higher numbers (WAY higher, on average) than other racial groupings, and address the root causes**?

            * Because now the situation could go bad in two different ways: they don’t treat the gun-wielding guy like a threat and he really did have a gun and shoots them, or they do treat him like a threat and turn out wrong and get sued for every penny they own. So the cop who’s been threatened with race-based lawsuits is going to be nervous about every single interaction with a racial minority. Yeah, that’s going to go REALLY WELL.

            ** Like fatherlessness, which has been repeatedly shown to VASTLY increase the chances that a kid will get in serious trouble later in life. The black community is suffering immensely from a lack of involved fathers in their kids’ lives, and the consequences are tragedy after tragedy. Higher prison rates, higher drug use, higher teenage pregnancy rates (which pass on the fatherlessness problem to the next generation)…

            • 1) Scream about racism and have cops put through more “sensitivity training” to make sure they are even more nervous about approaching a minority*?

              Not to mention that all this screaming about how cops are racists likely to shoot black kids for no reason causes the black kids to assume the worst when confronted by a cop and causes some of them to do stupid things like ‘go for the cops gun’ that really will get you shot.

              There’s a lot of problems with the way law enforcement in America is handled, but all this screaming about racism both makes the cops more paranoid (and likely to make lethal mistakes) and makes interactions with the police more hostile (which makes the police paranoia more justified), while at the same time covering up the real problems. Even worse, it makes the victims of all this lawlessness less likely to be sympathetic to fixing the problems.

            • “So the cop who’s been threatened with race-based lawsuits is going to be nervous about every single interaction with a racial minority.”

              Or they will simply refuse to interact with a Govt Victim Group at all. See Ferguson Effect (although it’s been going on well before that) and Rotherham England. Those falling crime statistics are meaningless.

            • Hy, in mathematical terms you made a “for any” statement and Robin has provided a counter example which qualifies as disproof.

              She beat me to it and I had a different case. Two counter examples are a bad trend for you.

              • Herb –

                “She” is a fair guess based on the name (quite a few more women named Robin than men named Robin in the US). But in my case, it’s he.

                • You’re just exercising male privilege. Er, female privilege. Er, something privilege.

                  Hyr has been overdosing on Bird-Brained Liberal Privilege: the ability to make assertions without regard to facts, arguments devoid of reason, and to express prejudice against the right people without fear of challenge.

              • And while I’m thinking about it, which case were you going to cite? Or did you cite it? If you did, I missed the comment.

            • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Andy_Lopez

              “A series of protests were organized and held following Lopez’s death. The protests were mainly organized by immigrant, religious and community groups and activists. Many protesters have stated that Lopez’s shooting was a case of police brutality, and that Lopez, who was Latino, was a victim of racial profiling by the deputies.”

              So the protesters do not seem to believe that Lopez was white.

              You can read _Between the World and Me_ by Ta-Nehisi Coates for his perspective on blaming black people for their being killed by police.

              • What the protestors believe is irrelevant. What did the cops, coming upon the scene and knowing nothing about him except his physical appearance, believe? That’s one of the necessary conditions for racial profiling.

                Nice try, though

                • Didn’t you know, cops have a race dectector sewn into their uniforms that scans people and emits either “privilleged” (ie, white) or “allowed target”.

              • Coates is simply one more dishonest agit-propagandist, mining racial divisions for his own enrichment. His “perspective” is hardly persuasive, given his many invalid premises.

                I am not surprised Hyr finds him compelling — he plays to all Hyr’s preconceptions and prejudices.

                An excellent fisking of Coates’ themes can be found at http://www.powerlineblog.com/archives/2015/07/the-fire-this-time-1.php

              • So the protesters do not seem to believe that Lopez was white.

                Congratulations. You win the “missing the point by a mile” award. I never said Lopez was white either; I said that by the evidence of the photo, the cop wouldn’t have been able to tell his race at first glance.

                Did you look at the photo in the article I linked to? Which would you rather believe, Ta-Nehisi Coates or your lying eyes?

          • But you have the problem backwards.
            The ‘blue’ people teach their children to respect law and settle grievances in a non-violent way. The ‘green’ people teach their children might makes right.
            Fast forward from Johnson’s ‘great society’ and after 45-50 years of dependence and destruction of the family, and now, because my Parents and Grandparents taught me what is right and what is wrong, suddenly it is my privilege not to be shot at. There is a site named after you: http://heyjackass.com/ that compiles a lot of information about Chicago crime. Look at the attacker chart, 10% are police, but a whopping 75% are black, less than 4% are white.
            I don’t consider it privilege, I consider it common sense. And let’s call a big B.S. on the white kid with gun. Remember the kid that got expelled from 1st grade for chewing his pop-tart into the shape of a gun?
            Again, it is not my privilege that is the problem, what you are referring to is my willingness to abide by the social contracts of our society vs groups that refuse to do so.

          • You’re full of shit. You are obviously also not the parent of a white child (actually a mutt, but you can’t tell by looking at him) if you don’t think we worry about exactly those sort of dangers and teach our kids about how to behave around a police officer as a result. BTW, I had a couple of white friends who, while not shot, did have police pull their guns on them because they had a realistic looking water gun. As white teens there is ‘no chance’ that they would have been described by journalists as ‘children’ had it been reported on. If there is any privilege my kids will have, it will be not being allowed the easy excuse for failure that the world is conspiring against them. Easy excuses for failure are the worst thing to give someone you want to succeed.

            Lastly, I dare you to find any flaws in this article:

            • … teach our kids about how to behave around a police officer as a result.

              THIS. I’m old enough that learning how to behave around the police was soaked up by osmosis, without any specific “teaching”, but you reminded me of a good example:

              When some TV show which followed the police came to Cincinnati, they had one of their best officers taking the crew around, and in one instance, came up to a guy walking down the sidewalk, who turned around and started walking the other way when he saw the police car. The officer hit the siren for a quick beep, then the lights, and the guy just kept walking. The officer had to get out and physically step in front of the guy to get him to stop. He asked a few questions and finally wound up searching the man, turning up some crack (IIRC) and a pipe, and I think he arrested him. Next thing you know, we’re hearing about how the Cincinnati Police department is racist.

              On the other hand, when two of my friends and I stepped out of the Convention Center after being in a lecture on Sports Medicine (about 30 years ago), we looked around to take our bearings, then turned and took off running. It just so happened that before we started running, we looked in the direction of a police cruiser, and we took off in the other direction. He popped his siren, just like the one I mentioned above. Did we act like the other guy? NO. We stopped and looked back at the cruiser to see what he wanted. When nothing more happened, we turned back and walked off, and he left us alone, because we didn’t act in a suspicious manner.

              • I’m not even going to bother putting up a link to Chris Rock’s monologue on How To Avoid Getting Your Ass Kicked by The Police. Everybody here already knows that drill.

                • Glad you pointed that out. I was thinking of linking it myself.

                  To add a point to my story above, in case it should be claimed that we were left alone because of “privilege”: Why did the cop pop his siren? Because it appeared to him that we DID act in a suspicious manner, until he tested us with it. If the guy in the first story had simply kept walking, instead of turning around as soon as he saw the cruiser, nothing would have happened.

          • “there is no chance that you will be murdered by police officers; if you are a parent of a white child, it does not even occur to you to worry that such a thing might happen.”

            Lie. Straight up LIE. And there are dozens of examples to prove it.

            And as for “privilege”: just another name for you to justify bigotry.

            • Patrick Chester

              Pretty much. It’s also a way to get whites to shut up because they need to “check their privilege” and other crap.

              I believe our hostess has a nifty phrase that I will use with hyro: These are my middle fingers.

          • Oh, and I guess that it was “privilege” that caused my friend to have his home invaded by the police, and him handcuffed and held on the ground until his wife came home, because someone at the restaurant he had taken his biracial daughter to for lunch called them because he “obviously was kidnapping that child”.

          • As others have noted, your example is false, an example of bigotry causing you to “Hear what you want to hear, see what you want to see” and the MSM pushing dishonest agenda journalism.

            What matters is not the race of the person waving the toy, be they Negro, Latino, Caucasian or “White Hispanic” nor even that the gun is found to be a toy. What matters is that the “toy” looked realistic (in at least one instance the gun-waver had removed the orange tip required on the barrel of such guns to distinguish them as toys) and that the person shot did not comply with police instructions.

            Your assumed “privilege” is merely your prejudice expressing itself. Your inability to recognize this is an demonstration of Liberal Privilege.

            • Patrick Chester

              Your inability to recognize this is an demonstration of Liberal Privilege.

              Nah, he’s just another jackass.

              (Yeah, I know you’re throwing his Magic Word of Power back at him, but he still just a jackass.)

        • Bullshit on steroids. My Arkansas dirt farmer grandparents were “privileged” to bust their butts through the Depression, weld Liberty ships in Mobile AL while being asbestos poisoned, and died as a result, but they passed on to my parents a work ethic and a way of living that let an insurance adjuster and school teacher raise 4 kids and give them the education and values to make it, and pass on the things they earned.

          And now you feel justified in sneering at them and what they did, and calling it “privilege”? At seizing what they worked for at the point of other people’s guns to pass out to those you deem worthy? Take your “privilege”, fold it into corners, and jam it into whatever hole you prefer.

          • Patrick Chester

            Well, remember: Survivors of the Holocaust have been described as having “white privilege” by those of hyro’s ilk.

            • Privilege is a benefit that accrues to you because of what you are, not because of anything you or your ancestors have done. For example, being a natural-born citizen of the United States carries the privilege of being able to be President. Being Jewish carries the privilege of being automatically accepted for citizenship in Israel.

              Privilege is pernicious when those who possess it do not realize how it benefits them, and attribute fault for problems caused by lack of privilege to the people who lack it.

              • “problems caused by lack of privilege to the people who lack it.”

                List of problems caused by lack of privilege:
                Lack of access to elite colleges
                Lack of access to good psychiatrists
                Lack of high-quality medical care
                Police suspicion

                List of problems caused by your own actions or the actions of your “unprivileged” fellows:
                Literally everything else.

                • List of problems caused by lack of privilege:
                  Lack of access to elite colleges

                  As Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor have shown in their book Mismatch: How Affirmative Action Hurts Students It’s Intended to Help, and Why Universities Won’t Admit It, the real problem is being admitted to elite colleges when unprepared fr the level of academic challenge that entails.

                  “As a high-profile defender of affirmative action, I used to think the so-called ‘mismatch’ problem was a bit overblown. Richard Sander and Stuart Taylor have caused me to think again. How many bright and promising minority students, we must ask, have failed because they were steered—with the best intentions, of course—into elite schools for which they were less prepared academically than most of their classmates? What better ways can we devise to boost academic achievement and expand the pool of qualified students of all races? We don’t do future generations of students any favors by trying to ignore this issue or pretend it doesn’t exist. If common-sense moderates don’t step up and engage this debate, we only allow extremists to take control of it.”
                  —Clarence Page, Pulitzer Prize-winning (1989 for Commentary) syndicated columnist for the Chicago Tribune

                  “[A] wealth of information…. Dr. Sander and Mr. Taylor present an excellent explanation of what is currently meant by affirmative action and demonstrate how it has been abused.” —New York Journal of Books

                  “[Sander and Taylor] are intelligent critics who support the modest use of race in admissions but think very large preferences have harmful effects…. [T]his book is at its best when it skewers college and university officials – who feel morally superior for defending affirmative action – for in fact pursuing what Yale Law professor Stephen Carter has called ‘racial justice on the cheap.’” —Richard Kahlenberg, The New Republic

                  “The authors offer extensive data in support of their conclusions that the present system is not serving those students well…. This information will be argued over all the same, but the authors’ evenhanded suggestion that what might be a better strategy is to raise educational attainment by investing more in elementary and secondary education for lower-income students – ‘targeting economic need before racial identity,’ as they put it – seems unobjectionable on the face. The subject may be hard to talk about, but it must be, and this is a valuable contribution to opening that needed discussion.” —Kirkus Reviews

                  • I’m counting “not in an area with halfway decent schools” as “lack of privilege” mostly for the sake of argument.
                    But yes, I agree that affirmative action is a terrible idea.

                    • “Not in an area with halfway decent schools” typically owes more to Liberal elites kowtowing to Teachers’ Unions and indifference to the education environment faced by willing students forced to endure disruptors in their classrooms, as well as denial of charter schools which have demonstrated their effectiveness not by “creaming” applicants but by granting entrance via lottery system.

                      But I suppose “not being held hostage for use by Liberals as mascots” does constitute a form of White Privilege.

              • Patrick Chester

                Yes, I’ve heard the script before. It’s a twisted version of the Christian concept of Original Sin.

                Privilege is a way for dishonest weasels like you to guilt-trip people into doing what you want and blame them for anything happening to others because of this nebulous “privilege” you claim the people you wish to manipulate magically possess.

                The only “pernicious” part of privilege is it’s a way to be a bigot while pretending to be enlightened and fair-minded.

                If that is too difficult for you to comprehend then let me be succinct: It is a load of crap.

                HTH. HAND. My middle fingers, gaze upon them.

              • Privilege is pernicious when those who lack it attribute mystical benefits to its possession. That leads to minority students assuming they have no chance and that they’re suckers to apply themselves diligently and persistently.

                N.B. – a) being recognized as Jewish, not “being” Jewish carries the privilege of being automatically accepted for citizenship in Israel and b) some privilege, what with the nearly universal denial of Israeli’s human rights throughout most of the world.

              • Except for the inconvenient fact that every citizen who obeys the law has those SAME privileges and rights. And the only pernicious thing I see ism your justification of your own bigotry.

      • With “social justice” you get social, not justice.

  8. … most people who are attracted to science fiction are “odd”

    I am not odd. Everybody else is. Especially you. You know who I’m talkin’ ’bout.

  9. For whatever reason, this brought to mind Nessus from Ringworld, who is, by any human standard and the standards of his own people, totally neurotic, crazy, even – but brave and adventurous. When he finally is forced to defend himself, he comes off as heroic – even though doing so leaves him a mess.

    We have neurotic AND heroic – and isn’t that cool? Hopeful, even. I wondered if there can even be a story worth reading where the protagonist (can’t call him a hero) is merely a neurotic mess? Then I thought of The Company of Women, which I read for some reason many years ago and recall, upon reaching the end, closing the book and wondering what was that all about? Stuff happened, then more stuff happened, then yet more stuff – and then the book stopped. This is supposed to be…? Certainly not fun. And frankly condescending if it were to supposed to be educational. If it’s a lecture, why not be honest and stop pretending it’s a novel? That’s the only such book I have failed to purge from brain, although I probably started but did not finish others of that sort.

    • I wondered if there can even be a story worth reading where the protagonist (can’t call him a hero) is merely a neurotic mess?

      Thomas Covenant? Oh. You said “worth reading”… (I was young and being driven across the country.)

      • Well, Thomas Covenant *is* a neurotic mess…among other things. A few of us like some of those other things. Then again, the Chronicles aren’t children’s books, either.

  10. Most of the establishment right now is the half that want accommodations

    There’s a lot of money to be made in brokering such accommodations.

    Not that anybody would do so for invidious reasons. Just saying.

  11. I don’t know if Van Vogt was a veteran

    Irrelevant. He certainly knew many veterans and was aware his readers knew or were veterans.

    Keep in mind that men of that generation didn’t talk about their feelings. They knew their fathers and grandfathers to be much much tougher than they.

    I remember Sandra Day O’Connor in her autobiography telling of watching her father, a rancher, deal with an abscessed tooth by grabbing up a piece of baling wire, heating the end in a campfire and cauterizing the sore with it. Anybody think that with a model such as that, anybody else would spend breath talking about “the pain and suffering”?

  12. they want to read about neurotic people being neurotic.

    I think you’ve pretty much nailed it. It explains completely why the two groups end up talking past one another. We don’t care if the character is male, female, straight, gay, black, white, handicapped, built like a superhero or whatever (and since we’re talking SF here they can be purple, trisexual egg laying plants too) as long as they have the attitude of what Dave Freer calls a battler – or at least someone in the book does and the hero(ine) looks like he’ll get the kick in the pants so that he will too.

    It’s the NOT giving up part that is key and the related idea that no matter how dark it is there is a sliver of light at the end of the tunnel.

  13. Preferring to read about competence, even if slightly-self-doubting confidence is way preferable to me than watching someone dither and dither and finally curl up into a ball of whimpering self-pity,

    Which reminds me yet again of how much I did not care for the TV program I Love Lucy, when everyone watched it in reruns when I was a kid, Not only did I not love Lucy, I was deeply embarrassed for her, going through an existence where she bungled absolutely everything imaginable, and then cried and cried for Ricky to bail her out. It wasn’t amusing at all – it was excruciating. I just did not see what was so damned funny or endearing about blithering ineptitude.

    Probably this was when I realized I was an Odd, since I hated Lucy.

    (Yes, I know in real life, Lucille Ball was a very shrewd cookie … but the persona she put on for that show ,,, shudder,)

    • It wasn’t amusing at all – it was excruciating.

      Yes! At last someone else who knows this.

      As a child I would bury my head under a pillow when Ricky yelled at Lucy. It was painful.

      • Same thing here. I didn’t like it.

        • I agree with Celia, CACS and our esteemed yet evil and beautiful space princess hostess – I hated I Love Lucy. I never thought Lucille Ball was really funny, and in fact the only credit I nod her way is her Desilu studio’s involvement in the orginial production of Star Trek.

          But I am an individual, not a number, so I still like Rocky and Bullwinkle.

          • I recommend you watch “That’s Right, You’re Wrong”, the first Kay Kyser movie; or rather, record and FF to the Screen Test scene in the gondola. Lucy did great physical comedy, and Kay was holding his own.

          • Terry Sanders

            She really was brilliant. But her genius was in the scenario.

            I remember watching that show as a small child, and laughing my head off–right up to the point where it all fell in on her, and she stood there crying uncontrollably while the audience laughed at her.

            And I saw her guesting on variety shows. Hilarious without the letdown.

            Her skits were wonderful. As long as you didn’t think of her as a real woman, with real feelings.

            Rather like the Three Stooges. Funny because they never lost their dignity. They never pretended to have any.

            Unfortunately, the premise of I LOVE LUCY implied that Lucy McGillicuddy Ricardo *did* have some–and had it stripped away every episode.

            Three-year-old I kept sneaking out of the room so I wouldn’t have to watch that part…

            • Lucy was the victim of her own over-reaching, a weekly example of the perils of hubris. Or perhaps she was a manifestation of societal pressure for women to accept a role as wife and homemaker.

              Ricky was a stereotypical representation of the “excitable” Latino. Or perhaps he was a metaphor expressing G-D’s frustration with human misbehaviour as well as His ineffable forgiveness of our capacity for self-delusion.

              I could extend this if only somebody would buy a new pitcher of mojitos.

      • I also ran and hid. My mother, bless her sweet soul, was prone to embarrass me. I could literally see her doing things like Lucy. The embarrassment was absolutely believable to my young mind.

    • Ralph threatening Alice with physical violence on The Honeymooners. Not that he would ever do it, but still unpleasant to watch.

      Genie and Samantha (and Uncle Tim and Mr. Ed, too) needing to suppress and hide their abilities. Ugh. I often wondered why their husbands didn’t wind up buried in the cornfield.

      • The answer to your question, BTW, is because if you stopped to think about things from the point of view of the ‘danes you’d realize their husbands are halfway decent human beings stuck in rather unfortunate situations.

      • Ralph never threatened Alice, as is evident from her reaction to his blustering. A person would have to be an utter moron to not grasp that.

        Jeannie was a classic submissive who needed that suppression in order to feel complete. Samantha clearly lied to Darren, hiding her past and was justly being called to live according to the standard by which she had presented herself, to uphold her “contract” rather than, as so many wives were wont, to “let herself go” having caught a man via false pretense.

        Both those shows were clearly metaphors for the importance of honesty in relationships as well as bitter denunciations of the bourgeois standards of the American middle class. Surely a Liberal as self-consciously intelligent as Hyr would have picked up on that subtext?

        • On the contrary, they are illustrations of male privilege.

          • On the contrary? I do hope you aren’t going to try to exercise the class privilege of enlightening us all about the theory of social inequality.

          • SheSellsSeashells

            I read fast and widely, on the Internet and on paper, and have watched social justice rhetoric evolve for *years*. In the abstract, I can see some logic in the whole privilege notion.

            But abstract is pretty useless in this case. My issues with the “privIlege” construct are twofold: 1) I see it used as a tool of control (I am right and you are wrong because PRIVILEGE, you hater!) and 2) _it accomplishes nothing_. No hungry people are fed, no roads are built, no work is done as a result of this mental construct; when the topic comes up, all I’ve seen is snippy passive-aggressive bullying or an intersectionalist circle-jerk.

            (Plus, it gives me huge Cultural Revolution vibes, and I fear the French, Bolshevik and American Revolutions combined less than I fear a western Cultural Revolution.)

            • “Privilege” as used in leftist/progressive (but I repeat myself) cant is the intellectually corrupt and dishonest foundation for a kafkatrap.

          • Instead of ‘Male Privilege’, I refer to think of I as the surcharge for me being recued last, drafted, etc. if things get sporty.

          • On the contrary — your leaping to defend these women against nonexistent oppression is an exercise in female privilege.

            Only a complete idiot could interpret Alice’s body language and facial expression as anything other than complete disdain for Ralph’s bluster.

            You’ve demonstrated the beta male’s reflexive support for a woman without regard to the underlying dynamics. Such attitudes are why a majority of serious victims of domestic abuse are men whose torments go unreported in the MSM.

            • Patrick Chester

              Yep. She knows Ralph isn’t going to hit her… and she knows where he sleeps if he ever did. 😉

              • I knew a barmaid who was beat up by her husband once. The next day she fixed his favorite breakfast. Then smashed his head with the hot frying pan. The first words he heard when he woke up in the ER were. How’d you like your breakfast?

        • Definitely agreed re Jeannie. She’s not human, never was, and has entirely alien motivations which only look superficially human. The need for a master is hardwired into her and every other member of her species.

    • Ugh. This type of thing is why I cannot stand the ‘bumbling idiots’ style comedy in television. I don’t mind the sort of ‘comedy of errors’ type stuff where (A common example is a cop or someone catches a ‘spy’ who is really a counter agent and they have to bungle their way to not break the cover after the control tells them what is going on.) But when the show is based off competence, I would expect a modicum of competence.

      And I say this as someone that enjoys Airplane and Stooges.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        I won’t comment on the Stooges.

        However, IMO Airplane worked because it was a parody of the later Airport movies which were getting fairly bad.

        Airport was a good book & movie, but the later Airport movies not so much.

        • Rather. At some point the degenerating reiteration of the tropes become such that the only sane option is to laugh at them.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard


            One of the Airport movies had the airplane almost shot down and the passengers stayed that plane.

            IIRC it was the one where the co-pilot opened a window in the cockpit to use a flare gun to stop a missile.

            Never mind that no windows on an airliner will open, at the speed & altitude the airliner was at, doing so would fall in the bad idea file. 👿

        • I think it is mostly the ridiculousness and that it worked. Same with Spaceballs and Deadpool. Stuff that tries to be like real life and is annoyingly irritating about it grates on me (BBT)

          • I find there’s definitely an ‘uncanny valley’ between realistic and ridiculous. If something tries hard enough to be realistic I can fudge the occasional luck or unrealistic macguffin and still find it works. If something’s completely over the top, I don’t care: I’m in it for the fun. If it’s not realistic enough to fudge and not over the top enough to be fun, it completely breaks my attention.

          • Patrick Chester


      • I can handle the ‘bumbling idiot that bumbles into good things accidentally’ a bit better, especially the trope I’ve seen in the Russian folk lore, where Ivan Durachok gets everything right… accidentally. Enough so that the point is ‘is he really that stupid or is he just playing the part and manipulating the reactions he knows people have to the off the wall crazy/stupid’. Some times it’s played up as very deliberate(Oh please don’t throw me in the briar patch! style), other stories it’s much more subtle.

        They also have Sister Fox who is so very clever she routinely outwits herself.

        • Drunken Master martial arts movies do this too.

          • Drunken Master work for me primarily because of Jackie Chan’s charming performance.

          • Patrick Chester

            I need to dig up the Irresponsible Captain Tylor anime series. The TV season, at least. I heard the OAV series wasn’t as good.

            • Loved that series…

              There were hints scattered throughout that maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t the drunken fool everyone thought him to be. Left you wondering if it was or was not an insanely brilliant act or just insanity.

              The end was nicely done.

              • Captain Tyler? I like the fact that they leave it open as to whether or not he is a pixilated blessed fool or a very cleaver and utterly lazy man. What he is is continually charming if you are not in charge of him.

        • That reminds me a little of Hans Helmut Kirst’s Gunner Asch novels. I always loved Asch.

        • Oh crap… Bujold couldn’t have made Ivan after that Ivan could she? Not that Ivan bumbles except that he does so *just*enough that no one tries to make him Emperor.

          • SheSellsSeashells

            I believe she’s said that folklore!Ivan influenced Barrayar!Ivan, yes, though #2 wasn’t intended to be a point-for-point model or anything.

          • That would be well within the Ivan Durachok range, so it’s possible. There might have been more of a ‘nod at’ rather than ‘based on’. I don’t know how much she knows about Russian legends.

          • Sounds a lot like the older Doctor Who. Except sometimes he messed up and got appointed President anyway…

      • Some bumbling comedy is fun…in small doses. It is better if it is within something comedic for other reasons or as comic relief. I can enjoy Get Smart but not the Three Stoges.

        • The Man Who Knew Too Little with Bill Murray. Spies Like Us with Dan Ackroyd. Or any Pink Panther movie. People bungling their way to success. The theme, properly played, can be hilarious. For some of us, in any event. YMMV.

          • I think my favorite “bumbling” comedy is Without a Clue (Michael Caine/ Ben Kingsley).

            Of course, I also like the previously mentioned TV series if I’m in the right mood, so maybe I’m just Even.

      • You should watch the Melissa McCarthy movie ‘Spy’. It plays against trope, with the overweight desk jockey who is suddenly thrust into the field proving competent rather than the opposite.

        • I saw the previews and it looked fun although the plot line is different than what I thought apparently (I was thinking McCarthy was going to turn out to be more a Agent 99/Maxwell Smart smashup).

          Thanks…if it hits Netflix I’ll put it in the queue.

        • I was pleasantly surprised by Hot Pursuit. She wasn’t bumbling just a competent yet totally unsocialized cop nerd.

        • I’ll check it out.

          • If you haven’t seen it I’d recommend “Target” with Gene Hackmen. Don’t watch the trailer… just watch the movie. If you’ve seen it then Shhhh.

      • I can’t stand it when characters act like idiots. Even when the characterization has been set up and I KNOW this is the blind spot so that making the character NOT act like an idiot would be false– I hate it.

      • Apart from some specific episodes, I never cared for I Love Lucy. My sisters (and my girlfriend), however …

        It’s not just television, though. Jerry Lewis movies were almost painful to watch when I was young. In both cases, large portions of the show may not be bad, but you reach a certain point, and you just know he/she’s gonna do that one thing that’ll cause easily-foreseen problems. It’s like being embarrassed on their behalf, because you hate to think that someone could actually think and/or behave that way.

        Somehow, the Stooges never made me feel like that, although they don’t appeal to me as much these days.

        • Free Range Oyster

          Yeah, I can’t handle people being awkward; a product, perhaps, of a hyperawareness on my part of awkward things I have said and done. I can see how others find it amusing, I even find it amusing in the abstract, but I can’t stand to watch. It’s spoiled things occasionally I would have otherwise enjoyed. The Oyster Wife was watching a lot of Psych some years ago, and while I thought the show was funny and very smartly written, I couldn’t handle actually watching. *shrug* So it goes.

    • Yep. Could not sit through an I Love Lucy even though my mom loved the show.

    • Patrick Chester

      I never really got into “I Love Lucy” though I did like Weird Al Yankovic’s parody song:

    • I had much the same reaction; it just didn’t jell until you articulated it so clearly.

    • I’m another one who hated that show, for exactly the same reasons! Thankfully, since we didn’t have a TV in our house, I didn’t have to see much of it, but what I did see was horrible.

    • I struggle at times with suspension of disbelief issues, but for the same reason, I enjoyed I Love Lucy for the simple reason that it was SO obviously not real. I could laugh at the antics in the show, without being touched in my sympathy gland, as it were.

  14. they’re hopelessly in love with characters who when the going gets tough curl into the fetal position and scream for mommy.

    Recently overheard in relation to “putting more fat girls in YA literature”:

    The ultimate solipsism. They want the books to be a mirror, and not a view to something better or more interesting

  15. “It wasn’t until yesterday when one of the commenters insisted if books didn’t show people like you you felt “erased” that I realized what might be the driver there.

    Some people ONLY want to read about people like them.”

    Rather, some people are tired of NEVER reading about people like them.

    “So why do these books offend the mavens of the establishment so much?”

    To the extent that they are offended, one possibility is that such books portray unrealistic solutions to problems; a single hero, having overcome character flaws and obstacles, wins the day and defeats the villain with (usually) a single act of violence and the story ends with the implication of happily ever after. Not only does this not happen in the real world, right-thinking people fear that Right-thinking people have internalized this to an extent that they commit our country to foolish and dangerous adventures in the belief that they will work out like stories:
    (The predictions that money for the war would come from Iraq itself are eerily like Trump saying that Mexico will pay for the wall.)

      • A somewhat tendentious and dishonest portrayal of affairs. I used to expect better of the Christian Science Monitor but have long ago accepted they’re drawing their journalist fish from the same polluted pool as the rest of the profession. Clearly, anybody hired out of J-School needs a longer apprenticeship.

        Fisking it would be a waste of time. This is often the case when “right-thinking” people try to simplify complex narratives.

    • “Rather, some people are tired of NEVER reading about people like them.”

      Congratulations, you have, once again, managed to hit upon one of the reasons for our motivations.

      • I thought your motivation was that you were tired of books about people like you (imagine you are) not winning Hugo awards. That’s different than people never finding themselves in books at all.

        • Holy projection Batman.

          That “imagine you are” is a pretty sad shot especially commenting on a blog post whose author specifically said she does not imagine herself that way.

          Now, if you’d said, “wish you were” or “aspire to be”, I suspect you’d be on much more solid ground. I’ll happily admit I admire the stoicism of a character like Lawrence Block’s Matthew Scudder (although I don’t desire to be a recovering alcoholic) or the sheer physical abilities of Heinlein’s Friday (wait, am I allowed to want to be like a black woman).

          If you want to have that discuss my response would be, “Yes, I enjoy reading about characters who embody attributes I wish I either had or had at higher levels.” My question to you would be why do you prefer to read about characters you can feel superior to?

          • Was Friday black? The image on the cover of the first publication paperback was of a distinctly Caucasian-looking woman.

            Of course, said woman also had her jacket unzipped seventy-five percent of the way to her navel to show off some impressive cleavage, so if there was in fact any race-washing going on it might be considered the lesser evil of that particular cover. (I can acknowledge the blunt reality that sexy cover art makes things more likely to sell, but that doesn’t mean I have to have a high opinion of it.)

            • It is explictly mentioned in the book that she is…I have always been annoyed at the paperback cover you are referring to after reading the book as Friday looks nothing like that (it is more than skin tone as well).

              • This is one of the items that it really peeves me that authors do not push on. Your readers first impression will be from that cover or from that first visual in many cases. Especially if you are low key for whatever reason. If you misrepresent the character in the art or any adaptation it’s going to be more canon in many readers minds than the actual story. But then because people get that impression from approved adaptations or illustrations you can call others bigots because you had a few short lines that could be read multiple ways after someone changes the character in another adaptation.

                • Authors don’t have any push to exercise. Notoriously.

                  To be just, many authors don’t know what a good cover looks like; just look at some indie ones. . . .

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    IIRC David Drake has said that he might have the “push” needed to have a say in the covers of his books but had decided that he didn’t know what covers would sell his books.

                    Oh, but yes some indie covers are really bad.

              • She’s also white in the hardback cover. And I’m staring at that cover on the wall. I’ve asked Mike Whelan about that picture and the woman is a composite. I can’t remember reading that Friday was specifically called out as being black. Considering here role as a spy, being black isn’t necessarily an asset.

            • For what it’s worth my image of Friday is a slightly, very slightly and mostly in the hips, curvier Grace Jones with a little less sever cheekbones.

              I mean, a Simon Templar type who looks like Grace Jones but rides around on space elevators and rocketships? Show me the 15 year old boy of any age or gender who wouldn’t be in love.

            • Friday describes herself in the book as having a “built-in suntan.” I always pictured her as dark-skinned but not black, more on the lines of Pacific islanders. Boss tells her that she is a mix of different racists and that she can never afford to be a racist because she’d be biting her own tail.

            • The cover of Stephen Barnes’ Streetlethal, at least the paperback edition I have, shows the main character as a white man, when he’s black.

            • From what I understand, covers are often created by people with no familiarity with a book at all. Colonel Campbell was portrayed as caucasian (and the cover I have makes him look suspiciously like Heinlein), even though he was black. I’m sure there are plenty of other examples out there.

        • Hyrosen, I had such high hopes for you after you apologized to RES. However, in typical leftist fashion, you have managed to think that your opponents are only capable of one particular motivation at a time. It’s really quite sad.

        • Patrick Chester

          …and that is why you fail.

          Too bad.

        • You really have no idea about who we are and how we think, do you?

          • Patrick Chester

            Watching hyro try to guess what the people here believe is kinda like watching Dark Helmet play with his dolls, except not as funny.

        • Golliwhillikers, Hyr! How many times must we say “We’re tired of B-O-R-I-N-G books getting awards while entertaining books are ignored, insulted and derided?

          The “books about people like you (imagine you are)” is the canard being spread by the Puppy kickers. Did you not even perceive in today’s post that Sarah said she especially liked stories about competent “persons-of-action” because she did not see herself in them?

          I suppose you also believe Sara Palin claimed she could see Russia from her front porch and that Dan Quayle stated that, if he’s known he’d ever visit Latin America he’d have paid more attention to Latin in school.

        • That’s different than people never finding themselves in books at all.

          I wonder how hard they’re looking.

          My three favorite books as a kid, that really got me reading SF and Fantasy, were Starship Troopers, Dragonsong, and Dragonsinger. I still pick them up and reread them every year or two (I’m rereading the McCaffrey books now).

          I “found” myself in the Filipino rich boy, even though I was neither Filipino nor rich. And while I didn’t identify with the artistic girl from the fishing village, I will admit to having a bit of a crush on her. 🙂

          • Actually, as an angsty teenager the characters I identified with most in novels through HS were female. Menolly was at the top of the list with Romilly from Hawkmistress in second (mainly because she later and was found looking for more Menolly like characters).

            I guess I found another form of WHAM privilege…what non-WHAMs can only related to or be inspired by non-WHAMs, we WHAMs can do so with anyone. Perhaps the ability to be inspired not just by other straight white men but to have heroes like George Washington Carver and Friday as well as fictional cyphers like Menolly gave me an edge.

          • I wonder how hard they’re looking.

            It seems they’re looking for differences, not commonalities. I can identify with characters who have little in common with me, as long as there’s something – it’s called having an imagination. Anymore, there are a large number of people who can’t identify with a character unless they’re just like them.

            I’m certain it’s related to the impulse that says white people (no matter their qualifications) can’t teach black history, black students require black teachers, and so on. There’s a quote from Cher’s character in Mask that I think is not directly related, but pertinent. Unfortunately, I can’t find it in a quick search of movie quote sites, so this is from memory (all the way back to when it was in theaters).

            The principal of the school has just told her that he doesn’t think the school can provide her son with what he requires, and suggests a school for “special needs” students. Her response is, “Do you have math? English? Science? Those are his requirements.”

    • Rather, some people are tired of NEVER reading about people like them.

      It meant a great deal to a young Jewish boy growing up in the USA to know that Hank Greenberg and Sandy Koufax were baseball stars. It is encouraging to encounter a hero that meant you could not only belong, but excel.

      As observed it becomes a problem when the only people you read about are people like yourself. You should not spend your whole life with the mindset of a twelve year old.

      • None of the Hugo-winning novels of this century that I’ve read have had people only like me, so I’m good there. (I didn’t read the Chabon novel; maybe everyone in that one is like me.)

        But I would have thought it’s the people with 12-year-old mindsets who only want to read books about intrepid heroes saving the day.

        • How recently have you dealt with a depressed twelve year old girl? (If you are lucky you never will…)

        • No, those are people who want to read about mopey teenagers being mopey and angsty.

        • only want to read books about intrepid heroes saving the day

          Which, of course, is the mark of pre-21st century Hugos we’d like to see a return to.

          I mean that is a perfect description of The Lefthand of Darkness (which doesn’t exist anyway given women never won the Hugo until the 21st century and weren’t even allowed to write science fiction), A Case of Conscience (horrid novel because it features a Catholic priest who is inherent homophobic even though the topic never comes up and contemplates a religious topic, original sin), A Canticle for Leibowitz (what is it with the clear pushing of religion in early Hugos), or The Man in the High Castle (a book about the Nazis winning WW2 so clearly facist).

          Of course, we do have some “big damn hero centric books” winning in the past if you squint really hard such as Dune, Starship Troopers, Stranger in a Strange Land (you have to really squint), The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, and Lord of Light. All of those books show white male heroes only with no minority or female characters beyond set dressing.

          Beyond their exclusion of characters that aren’t white and male and their plots that are nothing more than intrepid heroes saving the day you know what else those books have in common that their counterparts this century do not for the most part.

          They are still in print and still being read.

          You said all this century’s winners were good reads but why is it most aren’t being read a decade or less after winning when all but at most two of the eleven from the 60s still are (1965’s The Wanderer and the 1966 co-winner This Immortal the ones that seem to be exceptions to me). This is not the award for a “good read” but for the best sci-fi written that year.

          Being forgotten less than a decade latter indicates a given year either had poor sci-fi or the wrong book won.

          Here are the xxx6 winners from 1956 on: Double Star, Dune, This Immortal, The Forever War, Ender’s Game, The Diamond Age, and Spin.

          People still read the first two and fourth through six. . Are they still reading Sping?

          • Herb, you’re assuming Hyrosen’s read those books and knows you’re being sarcastic. Now really, were there any races mentioned in them? Or were they just assumed based off of names? I don’t remember, but I wouldn’t.

            (I never notice races of characters until someone else points them out. But I also barely notice races of people in real life: my facial recognition part of the brain doesn’t recognize, so all I have to go off of is hair color and skin shade.)

            • Well, we know at the very end of Starship Troopers Johnny Rico is Phillipino but it at nearly the last line of the next to the last chapter where he says something along the lines of “Home is where the heart is” in Tagalog.

              The Germans and Japanese are explicitly such in The Man in the High Castle. There is a strong current of race in the story and it is reasonable to assume, as a result of racist policies of the winners of the war, that the major characters are white.

              Jesuits are, by definition, Catholic so we do know that about Father Ramon Ruiz-Sanchez. We also have his name which makes him Hispanic and his origin is Peru so he may or may not have Native American ancestory.

              Wyoming Knott has some white ancestory in Moon. We explictly know that Mannie is very mixed race and it is implied most Loonies are. The Professor, being from Lima, is again Hispanic. Mike, as the brother of Sherlock Holmes, is clearly white.

              So, race when we have either direct knowledge or strong clues is all over the map.

              Herb, you’re assuming Hyrosen’s read those books and knows you’re being sarcastic.

              The man is arguing current Hugo award winners are comparable to the prior ones and as such the Puppies campaign does more to compromise the integrety of the awards than recent winners.

              I give him the assumption of not being an utter tool and thus doing so in the context of at least a working knowledge of the books in question. While I don’t expect him to have read all of them (I haven’t read all the Hugo winners…there is even a Heinlein Hugo novel I haven’t read) I expect some familiarity with them. Perhaps I hit the odd exact subset this is just the ones he doesn’t know but I consider the odds of that low.

              • It seems, based on their arguments, that most of the anti-puppies haven’t read anything older than themselves. Guess you give more credit than I do.
                How do you figure, in future fiction, that names indicate much of anything about race? I figure that given people’s fondness for reproducing with whoever’s willing, and happily borrowing names from other cultures, ethnic names are going to get more separated from ancestry, not less.
                Same for cities/countries of origin. Ease of travel pretty much guarantees that, especially in larger urban areas. I could give you a bunch of examples from my own family, where names and ethnicity don’t match, but kids get privacy.

                • Well, Stranger in a Strange Land‘s Michael Valentine Smith had parents close enough to the present of the novel to make assumptions reasonable. The same can be said of Haldeman’s The Forever War (the opening of the novel is now in our past as is the Mars mission Smith was born on if memory serves). Ender’s Game and Diamond Age might, might give the same ability.

                  As I said by the nature of the book race is prominent and determinable in The Man in the High Castle.

                  For the rest names and places are probably not of much use.

                  • The Germans and Japanese who prosecuted the Second World War were both extremely racist. It is not unreasonable that any counter-revolution would become similarly so. Thus the racism is as inherent in that tale as it is in Spinrad’s Iron Dream.

                    Of course, presentation of racism does not constitute endorsement.

            • The first SF story I can remember reading that had a character whose race was explicitly mentioned was a short story from the 40s (IIRC), the name and author of which I don’t recall. Possibly Alan Nourse, but I won’t bet on it. The action took place on a spaceship, and it was mentioned that the ship’s doctor was a negro, because for undetermined reasons they weren’t subject to “space sickness.”

          • “why is it most aren’t being read a decade or less after winning when all but at most two of the eleven from the 60s still are”


            *** The New Wave is a movement in science fiction produced in the 1960s and 1970s and characterized by a high degree of experimentation, both in form and in content, a “literary” or artistic sensibility, and a focus on “soft” as opposed to hard science. New Wave writers often saw themselves as part of the modernist tradition and sometimes mocked the traditions of pulp science fiction, which some of them regarded as stodgy, adolescent and poorly written. ***

            • Nice deflection. Your link and discussion say nothing about why today’s novels are forgotten in ten years.

              Look at the list of 60s novels and the list of New Wave sci-fi authors. Of the 60s Hugo Winners for Best Novel only Zelazny is listed as a New Wave author and even there it was after the fact. Even in the 70s only three best novels were by New Wave authors yet (although of the 8 70s novels still read to some degree all three are on that list).

              So, no, New Wave doesn’t describe why we still read Dune and The Forever War, which are very clearly not New Wave novels, but don’t read Spin.


            • Translation: New Wave SF had its head stuck up its own digestive system.

              • I don’t know…a lot of the New Wave authors wrote a lot of good books and stories. I think they were a lot different than today’s literary twits for three reasons:

                1. They knew and loved the genre they wanted to change (and to a degree deconstruct). Farmer wrote biographies of Tarzan and Doc Savage complete with their relations to other similar heroes for crying out loud.

                2. They knew and loved story. Sure, some experiments got out of hand but Moorcock, LeGuin, Ballard, Triptree, Farmer, and plenty of others part of the movement or associated with it after the fact, wrote good, straight forward stories as much as experimental stuff.

                3. They were conscious that they were experimenting and realized their experiments might fail in terms of appeal so they wrote more than just weird experiments.

                • Mmmm, fair, fair, I should probably bone up on my New Wave SF.


                  The presentation as given in the article reminds me of obnoxious hipsters.

                  • They were obnoxious hipsters.

                    However, obnoxious hipsters in certain historical periods still had talent unlike their modern heirs.

                    Please don’t take my defense of them to mean they weren’t often (and still sometimes) arrogant, artistic snobs. They were just the kind that could actually pull it off.

                    • What they were were good-effin’ writers who always gave you an interesting tale even if they sometimes twisted it about a bit.

                      One other thing: they did not blame their readers for their unsuccessful experiments.

                      At least, not publicly.

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              Stodgy, adolescent, but still in print and popular.

              Says a great deal right there.

            • Well here’s the list since 2000:
              American Gods by Neil Gaiman [Morrow, 2001] yes
              Hominids by Robert J. Sawyer [Analog Jan,Feb,Mar,Apr 2002; Tor, 2002] no
              Paladin of Souls by Lois McMaster Bujold [Eos, 2003]yes
              Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke [Bloomsbury, 2004]yes
              Spin by Robert Charles Wilson [Tor, 2005]Yes
              Rainbows End by Vernor Vinge [Tor, 2006]yes
              The Yiddish Policemen’s Union by Michael Chabon (HarperCollins, Fourth Estate)yes
              The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (HarperCollins; Bloomsbury UK)yes
              The City & The City, China Miéville (Del Rey; Macmillan UK)yes
              Blackout/All Clear, Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)yes
              Among Others, Jo Walton (Tor)yes
              Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas, John Scalzi (Tor)yes
              Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie (Orbit US/Orbit UK)yes
              The Three Body Problem, Cixin Liu, Ken Liu translator (Tor Books)yes
              almost all available at the Union Square B&N. Still I wonder how many you can buy outside Manhattan?

          • Taking just one case in point, I’m sure that the primary characters of TMiaHM Manuel Garcia O’Kelly-Davis and Professor Bernardo De La Paz were straight, white, able-ist males

          • Zelazny’s This Immortal (aka, Call Me Conrad) is likely no longer being read only because his heirs have badly mishandled his estate. His two masterworks, Lord of Light and Creatures of Light and Darkness are similarly sadly neglected. Only his Amber series, one of his lesser works, remains commonly read. This says more about the modern readership than it does about Zelazny’s books.

          • The starship in Lord of Light was The Star of India. That and the worldwide Hindu religion (except for Renfrew the chaplain). I always assumed the characters were ethnically Indian, and didn’t find it offensive in any way.

        • And as usual, you’d be wrong.

        • I would have thought it’s the people with 12-year-old mindsets who only want to read books about intrepid heroes saving the day.

          Do you buy your straw men wholesale, Hyr? Can you quote any statement by any puppy advocate which supports your assertion, or is it merely from the voices in your head that such phrases are heard?

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      A single hero, overcoming character flaws winning the day and beating the bad guy is popular because it’s good storytelling. Not many people want to read about a bunch of semi-heroic people who are the prisoners of their flaws and don’t win.

      • I can live with “not winning.”
        I just insist that they try.

        • The Mobile Infantry doesn’t expect kittens to fight wildcats and win. They just expect you to try.

        • I think you’ve articulated my problem with most horror movies recently, especially the haunting/invisible force ones.

          I don’t expect the humans to necessarily win, but I expect them to put up a realistic fight, and not simply die off, helpless and with no idea what’s happening.

    • To the extent that they are offended, one possibility is that such books portray unrealistic solutions to problems; a single hero, having overcome character flaws and obstacles, wins the day and defeats the villain with (usually) a single act of violence and the story ends with the implication of happily ever after. Not only does this not happen in the real world, right-thinking people fear that Right-thinking people have internalized this to an extent that they commit our country to foolish and dangerous adventures in the belief that they will work out like stories:

      Wow, is the projection and delusion strong with this one. We’re bombarded with narrative from the left that insist that conflict is always the result of outside parties interested in profit, that non-whites are always peace-loving and the oppressed victims of the evil right-wing white capitalist patriarchy, and that there’s always a peaceful, conflict-free solution that makes everyone perfectly happy (except those evil profit-seekers that started it). And, given that narrative, that’s what the left found, which has led to the left cheerleading utter bastards in Iraq, and Vietnam, and Soviet Russia and worse places, and each and every time pretending that they did nothing wrong when the narrative collapses in the light of history, and denying that their cheerleading helped the bastards. That’s one of the reason why so many works are so bad to someone that considers the narrative to be a poor, simplistic reflection of reality, because it’s followed so closely in so many stories that you know what the story is going to be as soon as the narrative begins. I’ve even enjoyed some of the works that fit the narrative, but time and time again as the narrative is repeated over and over and more shrill each time, it wears down on you.

    • … one possibility is that such books portray unrealistic solutions to problems

      Heaven forfend an SF/F book portray an unrealistic solution!!!

      …right-thinking people fear that Right-thinking people have internalized this to an extent that they commit our country to foolish and dangerous adventures in the belief that they will work out like stories …

      It would seem that “right-thinking people” need to think rightly about their arrogance and contempt for their fellows. When you refuse to listen to what is said to you but rather insist on interpreting as “dog-whistles” what is is said straight-forwardly, they sever effective communications and “otherize” the remaining participants.

    • SheSellsSeashells

      (A note, because it seemed necessary after the fourth paragraph or so: most of this is just me playing around because this is the kind of thing I like to think about.)

      Rather, some people are tired of NEVER reading about people like them.

      Again, something I can sympathize with in the abstract. In practice, it devolves into an increasingly convoluted set of demands until I am expecting any day now to see articles on the appalling dearth of lefthanded transgender girls with a mole on the chin in YA fiction. (Quoth Florence King: “Feminists will not be satisfied until every abortion is performed under an endangered tree, on an Indian reservation, by a gay black handicapped doctor.”) And SFF was never as monolithically White’n’Manly as some people believe.

      From childhood, the “like me” that I have resonated with in fiction has been the heroes’ interior lives; I identify with the ones with character traits like mine, not an exact color/genetalia/orientation match. I’m not saying we don’t need physical diversity, I’m saying that it’s a grand supporting detail but an excruciatingly shallow focus when it’s the *only* focus. I would rather read “Starship Troopers” than “I Am A Filipino Teen In The Military And Did I Mention I Am A Filipino Teen? And I Shoot At Things A Little To Provide A Backdrop To My Angst Because I am Filipino.”

      a single hero, having overcome character flaws and obstacles, wins the day and defeats the villain with (usually) a single act of violence and the story ends with the implication of happily ever after.

      We’re storytelling animals and many people crave stories like this because they *know* real life is complicated. There’s a strong relationship between SFF and fairy tales, and fairy tales can easily be taken as a “this is how to become an adult” metaphor. People as diverse as Terri Windling and G.K. Chesterton have pointed that out, with the standard “becoming queen/king” as a metaphor for controlling your inner demons and getting yourself in charge of yourself. Just an observation.

      right-thinking people fear that Right-thinking people

      Cute. :-/

    • I am also sick of never reading a book about someone like me… why hasn’t someone gotten off their @$$ and written my autobiography yet?

      BTW I’ve seen a lot of strawmen arguments, but this is the first time I’ve ever seen a strawbook. If that is what you really think puppy pleasing science fiction looks like, then perhaps you should read some and be pleasantly surprised yourself. Before you cast stones, the world runs against stereotype often: Far more people have been killed by Left-thinking people hoping to set the world right with a little bit of violence (and then a little more when the 1st bit doesn’t work) than the Right. That whole problem of immanetizing the ecstacion, and valuing omlets over eggs, you know.

  16. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Years ago, I used to read Harlan Ellison but finally stopped.

    I decided that “living in my head” was bad enough that I didn’t need to “live in Harlan Ellison’s head”. 😈

    Of course, I always thought (and still do) that Harlan Ellison is an excellent writer.

    Which I can’t say about the authors that the SJWs like. 😦

  17. The influence of WW 2 is obvious in “Starship Troopers” It annoys me when the kids rag on about Heinlein’s Fascism.
    And Rico was not a WHAM.

  18. Reality Observer

    Well, my conclusion (certainly not original, by any means) is that all of the “isms” are actually on the other side of the political spectrum.

    Among that group, the assumption is automatic that a story about a competent person of action is about a straight white male with no physical disabilities. This is deeply ingrained in their psyche. If the protagonist does not check all of those boxes – they must be an oppressed, whining, helpless victim.

    The bias is so obvious…

    • This is, of course, why so many here are such big fans of Mile Vorkosigan, a strapping big white male who simply bludgeons problems into submission and never has a concern for secondary effects.

      • For me, it’s his breaking down doors or breaking thru windows, both six-shooter blasters a-blazin’…

        • Well, that’s all well and good, but let’s not forget his constant flings with nubile young savage maidens.

          • Reality Observer

            Would the good (almost) Doctor Hoyt please pick up the white courtesy phone…

            We need three extraction of tongue from cheek, and a few stitches, if you please. Went right through and are hanging out the side.

          • SheSellsSeashells

            Admittedly, Taura could be pretty damn savage. When she wasn’t wearing pink bows around her neck.

          • Umm…. to be fair, Miles *does* bust through doors shooting, and what else would you call Sgt Taura in her first appearance?

  19. To the extent that they are offended, one possibility is that such books portray unrealistic solutions to problems

    Yeah, because the one thing escapist literature, which is the core of genre fiction and has been since it began as cheap pamphets in the 19th century, has been a hard nosed realism. That’s why Zola’s Rougon-Macquart novels are integral to the development of science fiction unlike his hack rough contemporary Jules Verne.

    Rather, some people are tired of NEVER reading about people like them.

    I know and us evilly evil people want to stop them and force them to write about people just like us. (sarcasm off? for me that isn’t even really sarcasm on).

    Why, we’re the ones who distribute lists of books by black, female, or homosexual authors and reshelve them all in their own section instead of in their category’s section to minimize risk people might accidentally read them. Oh, wait, that’s the booksellers. Aside, why do book stores not have “Asian-American” or “Hispannic American” writing sections like they do for women, blacks, and homosexuals?

    • Damnit wordpress.

    • Reality Observer

      Well, I do have a “Hispanic-American” section in the local B & N. (Actually, that is false advertising – it is actually “Mexican-American.” You won’t find, for instance, either Larry or Sarah in that section.)

      That is a problem with B & M stores – I breeze (or used to) right past the “special snowflake” sections and go to the “kind of book I want to read” sections. (Or, “New Releases” and “Bargain Books” for the two “not kind of book” sections.)

      When I become an author (and have dead tree books, which I’m still debating), I will fight tooth and nail against any attempt to put me into the “Local Writers” section.

      This is the advantage of Amazon (or any e-tailer) – your book can be on a dozen different shelves, and an unlimited supply of them. So the racialist minority of customers can look in the “Afro-American” section, while the vast majority look in, say, the “Sweet Romances” section.

  20. You see, they’re hopelessly in love with characters who when the going gets tough curl into the fetal position and scream for mommy. They think this makes the characters sensitive or special. They think in fact that dysfunction and the inability to work in the world as it is is a mark of specialness, from intelligence to insight.

    Adding in my two cents.

    Thing is, if not for that last part, those characters could work. We can write stories about a character that curls up and freaks when trouble arises and make them interesting … but only if that character grows. Which means conquering that fear, moving on, and overcoming their weaknesses. Which, of course, is completely against the whole mentality that “everyone should just be accepted for what they are (as long as it’s something we declare okay).”

    I don’t mind if a character starts out curling in fear and inaction when presented with a problem. What I mind (and am ultimately bored by) is when they never grow past that. When they don’t uncurl, stand up, and make a change of some kind … what’s the point? And most characters in what you’re describing never do, making for a pointless read. The story glamorizes the inaction and the neediness, rather than someone’s ability to stand up, push back, and move for a positive change.

    Those stories, where characters change, are stories with characters people can get into. Stories where even if someone fails or doesn’t completely succeed, they’ve still scored a small victory simply by virtue of growing a little and taking steps forward. Mark in “Flash Point” isn’t the world’s greatest character—he’s a pensive teenager dealing with a large amount of social abuse that has him sunk into a shell. But it’s him struggling to overcome those challenges and pushing to be better that make the story worth reading and, ultimately, define his character.

    A character doesn’t need to be perfect. Flawed characters are great. But what you’re describing (and you’re correct by the way, I don’t disagree), what’s being glamorized by the groups that push these stories, is flawed characters who revel in their flaws and failings and let them determine everything rather than trying to overcome them.

    • Or you have the flaws where they have to work around them. For example, Indy and the Snake in Crystal Skull. (I figure no spoiler alert for a decade old movie). Indy refuses the tail of a snake to get out of quicksand, preferring to stay in it than touch a snake. In the real world, I watch Ghost Hunters once in a blue moon for the environment and one of the team is extremely afraid of flying so even if they are traveling to CA, he drives. Think of using something similar for the character who needs to travel for work. Or Dresden’s inability to use technology. Etc.

      • About Indy- Harrison Ford is great at playing characters who are in wayyy over their head, but are able to (somehow) work their way out of it.
        Thus the “Indy Ploy” trope.

    • Luce in A Few Good Men QUITE LITERALLY curls up and freaks in a crowd. But he manages, anyway.

    • Precisely. When things got tough, Joe curled up in a fetal position and yelled for his mommy…and then, when it became clear that Mommy wasn’t coming, Joe stood up, grabbed a laser gun, and shot his way through the aliens so he could at least run away. The next time he met the aliens, he’d figured out their basic strategy and the weaknesses in it so that, even though he was internally screaming for Mommy, he managed to hold his own. At the next fight, he saw a group curled up and screaming the same way he had been, and filled with sympathy, he charged in to help them.

      By the time we get to the last act of the story, where Joe single handedly saves the Earth while guarding a bus full of kindergateners (and snagging the alien’s cure for cancer while he’s at it), no one who knew him at the beginning would have recognized anything about him…except, of course, for a deep, abiding love and respect for his mom.

      • sabrinachase

        …and where is this wonderful story published????

        I read a short story once where the hero was a Walter Mitty-esque balding accountant that led a successful counterattack against space pirates, taking horrific risks… because he really, REALLY wanted to just go home. 😀

        • The “Badass Normal” Trope, in action!

        • We’re heading home for Christmas! The path home just happens to pass thru Berlin

        • In the end, what motivates us can seem like such a little thing. To the rest of the world, I mean.

          You all know the story about the Puppeteer. He hates the crowd. The fabrics are scratchy, the pay is terrible, he’s allergic to the paints- it makes his eyes swell up so he cannot see, and gives him a terrible rash besides. Why does he do it?

          … For the applause.

          If y’all haven’t read it, pick up David Gemmel’s “Morningstar.” Most of you won’t identify with the “hero” *at all.* He’s something of an ass. A womanizer. Self centered. Selfish. Definitely not one’s idea of a noble hero… But read it to the end. Gemmel pulls many threads together from seeming nowhere to make a tapestry greater than the sum of its parts.

          It suits this thread of thought rather well, I think.

          • A womanizing self centered ass.

            Yay, they are finally writing novels about someone like me…I’m not being erased anymore.

            Joking aside as much Gemmel as I’ve read I’ve missed it. Should probably fix that.

            • I lucked out with Gemmel. In high school, after reading out the school library, I found a dog-eared copy in the last rack of the used book store. This was back in the 90s, when new book stores tended to have shelves and shelves of stuff I couldn’t get into with a crowbar and a stick of dynamite, and a few classics *all* of which I read.

              That dog eared copy was “Against the Horde,” which now goes under the title “Legend,” I think. I just about read the spine out of that book. Then I picked up Waylander, and started ordering some by mail once I saved up enough from doing odd jobs after chores.

              Just luck I started at the right place, though.

              • Against the Horde, as my original copy (I’m on #3) is probably the best sword and sorcery novel of the 90s. Full of big damn heroes from stock casting yet everyone twisted to be unique and with enough action and suspense to keep me up at 3am wondering if they would win.

                I would compare the level of suspense to The Virgin Suicides although Gemmell had the advantage of not telling us the ending on page one and then having to maintain suspect as we approached the climax. Eugenides pulled it off. Now that is a first novel that not only knocked it out of the park but torn the skin off the ball.

                It was actually one of the last works of literary fiction I found worth reading. Only one after I can remember is Little Children.

                Wow, I didn’t realize those were only about big damn white male heroes just like (I see) myself.

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            A lot of Gemmell heroes are like that. I love how he was able to examine the concept of heroism, point out the flaws, and yet still not undermine the basic notion.

            • You’re right. He also has a flair for doing the “old hero/young hero” bit where the older has to put up with the upstart youngster’s shenanigans in addition to saving the world/princess/beer keg.

          • Almost all of Gemmel’s heroes were flawed in some way. Waylander a man who became an assassin to earn the money to track down and avenge his family ends up killing his King and his country begins collapsing. He goes on to be the one who helps save the Kingdom later in the novel. .

            • Yup. The man had a way with characterization that few have been able to grasp. If I could pick a little of this, a little of that, I’d take Gemmel’s character’s development, Weber’s grand strategy, Drake’s action, and so on…

        • I think I may have read that one. Do you remember the name?

    • sabrinachase

      I dunno if they *like* fetal-curl characters so much as they resent the hell out of invidious comparisons between characters who don’t curl up and their own selves. Possibly subconsciously. Reading about helpless flopping types who need all the assistance because Oppression validates not struggling, not putting themselves in a position where they might fall down/break a nail/be criticized. I don’t enjoy being criticized either, even when it isn’t deserved, but I survive. And emotionally resilient people can survive active hostility, admit flaws, and enjoy reading about people better than them to learn and develop aspirational goals.

      I recall reading somewhere that much of the difficulty the Millennial generation has is they are not resilient, because they have never been allowed to fail.

      • I think it is simpler than that.

        They want to read about characters they are superior to.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          IMO Watchers of Soap Operas want to watch people richer than them but stupider than them. 😦

        • Reality Observer

          Not sure about that one. Most of these fictional characters that are “just like them” curl up, hide, run away… In other words, they do cowardly things – but at least they do something to preserve their lives.

          In real life, the people that like those characters, if confronted with a similar situation, mostly freeze like a deer in headlights, until their turn on the chopping block.

        • I sometimes believe the inexplicable popularity of the show Seinfeld was due to people liking to watch characters to whom they felt morally superior, or at least whom they didn’t have to resent because of a perception that they were expected to feel morally inferior to them. (The writers’ motto on that show was “No Hugging, No Learning,” because the show was a direct reaction against the — it must be admitted — rather weighty self-conscious moralizing of a lot of sitcoms up to that point.)

          • Really? I always thought the appeal of Seinfeld, at least personally, was the way it took little slices of life and then exaggerated them for humorous effect. Like the Chinese Restaurant episode, which is just four characters making funny commentary while they wait for a table. Or the “garbage eating” breakup, where George is shocked when his date throws a “perfectly good maple bar” atop the garbage can, and then perplexed when she’s grossed out by him eating it.

            Too me, much of Seinfeld was funny because it came cuttingly close to reality, dropped in some clever physical comedy, and then used it’s satire to make us laugh at a lot of the same idiosyncrasies many of us are guilty of. There are absolutely people out there who were horrified by George’s eating the donut, and those horrified by the fact that his date didn’t eat the donut, and both parties were then thrown under the light so we could laugh at how odd some of our little habits are.

            I never walked away from an episode of Seinfeld feeling that I was morally better than the characters … even if that is or isn’t true. But I walked away chuckling at the satire of our own weird behavior, be that two ambulance drivers getting into a wreck because they were arguing over the flavor distribution of the remaining dots or Elaine first being boggled by, and then embracing to look important, the hilariously odd habit her boss had of eating a Snickers bar with a knife and fork.

            • I never walked away from an episode of Seinfeld feeling that I was morally better than the characters

              Oddly, I did which is why I can count the episodes I watched on one hand. I just thought they were loathsome people.

              • I just thought they were loathsome people.

                This. I’ll give the writers credit for this much, at least — so did they. I never realized that until the final episode, where the characters all(?) ended up in jail. Of course, by then my dislike of the show was well-established (and I’d only seen two or three episodes, ever!) and I had no desire to seek it out and watch it. But it did feel nice to see the writers acknowledge, “Yes, you’re not the only one who thinks these are indeed terrible people.”

                • I watched the last with friends and of the handful I’ve seen it was far and away the only one I enjoyed. I enjoyed it because they finally got what they deserve (and in a way that fit the show).

            • Well, if you’re going to make reasonable and well-founded arguments, I don’t know what we can possibly have to say to one another. 🙂

              Seriously, I do see your point; my problem is just that I have an extremely low threshold for satire appreciation, especially in sustained doses (nobody should ever watch more than one Seinfeld episode a week, I think). I need to buy into characters as people before I can stick with them as an extended narrative, and nobody on Seinfeld ever felt like a real person to me.

              • Seinfeld really did not seem to have any relationship to anything human. It was like a window on a weird parallel universe where humans evolved differently. Much like Friends, actually.

                • The Other Sean

                  That’s because truly-enormous cities like NYC, so-called “world cities,” are almost a world apart. There is always an urban-rural divide of some sort, but the divide between the residents of “world cities” and normal cities can be even greater. Such places are often become culturally distinct from the rest of the surrounding land and their nations as a whole.

            • Seinfeld is funny to anyone who has ever lived in the NY-NJ metropolitan area. Because we’ve all known/met people like the main characters. That it caught on elsewhere mystifies me. But then, some parts of it I find funny my kids (who didn’t grow up where I did) are simply puzzled by.

              • The Other Sean

                Agreed – I was a teen in central NJ for most of Seinfeld‘s run and pretty much everybody I knew (age, race, sex made no difference) watched it and thought it was funny. Then I moved to Ohio and almost nobody watched it regularly because very few found it funny. Those who did were either originally from the NYC area, had spent a bunch of time there, or had family/friends from there who’d they’d had exposure to.

                But consider for a moment that the NYC area alone accounts for about 20 million people, about 1/16 of America’s population. Its average viewership in any season ranged from about that to just less than twice that, though the series finale had much higher viewership. It mostly predated having 9999 channels, on-demand, Netflix, etc. Given the number of people from that area who’ve fled elsewhere over the years, I don’t find it odd that it could find the success it did.

      • It isn’t so much the “allowed to fail” thing, as it is that they’ve been deliberately raised with the impression that failure is both unfair and impossible, not a routine part of daily life in this vale of tears.

        Hothouse flowers, the lot of them. On any forced route march, they’ll be the stragglers, mopped up by the enemy. If the current generation had had to do the Bataan Death March, the casualty rate would have hit 90% before they left the peninsula.

  21. c4c

  22. “It wasn’t until yesterday when one of the commenters insisted if books didn’t show people like you you felt “erased” that I realized what might be the driver there. Some people ONLY want to read about people like them.”

    I’m not myself a huge fan of what I call the RJ (representational justice) critical school, but I do think that might be a slightly too harsh way of putting it; the reaction, to me, has always seemed to be not so much “I only want to read about people like me” as “I’ve had to read too much about people who weren’t like me because I could find almost nothing about people who were, and I don’t think it’s wrong to point this out and call loudly for more such characters. Yes, I can empathize with protagonists who aren’t like me just as you can empathize with protagonists who aren’t like you, but I can’t help noticing I seem to be expected to do that a lot more often than you do, and I wouldn’t mind changing that dynamic if possible.”

    Insofar as SF&F is, for the most part, the product of a specific subculture within a specific larger culture, the fact that the demographic distribution of protagonists is not proportionally representative of either the subculture or the larger culture may well be a true enough observation. The practical effectiveness, or ethicality, of proposed measures to change this situation is an altogether different question, however. Create more works with more and different characters, and promote such works when you find them? Absolutely. Call for boycotts against works that don’t push that envelope until more works appear that do? Not so much.

    • I believe that the response I gave to a similar complaint a few months ago was, “If you feel that Group X is currently underrepresented in the stories out there, feel free to write more stories featuring Group X. No one here has any objection.”

      • I agree, although it is worth pointing out that (a) not everybody who has this complaint can actually write, (b) not everybody who can write will be lucky enough to be published, or will have the aptitude, time and energy for the self-promotion necessary to indie success, and (c) people do in general prefer to read stuff for entertainment that they didn’t write themselves.

        The trick is learning to tell the difference between a request and a demand. If there are no decent Chinese restaurants in my neighbourhood but moving is unfeasible, there is nothing wrong with loudly proclaiming how much I’d like to see a Chinese restaurant open up; a clever restaurateur will appreciate the opportunity. There is everything wrong in the world with trying to drive the local Italian bistro out of business first by slandering its food, and then demanding the restaurateur who buys the property open a Chinese place rather than the Tex-Mex he may have planned.

    • Part of the issue is that in the real world there is the disparate impact fallacy where any discrepancy is due to -ism. This is further pushed when people decide they need to boycott writers that are not the flavor of the week, or when it is celebrated that a certain genre or race or sex is in charge of a group or wins an award. And often the act of not stating that your character is a specific group is seen as defaulting to the majority and thus even if majority cannot see themselves into it, it is thus a majority story.

      It’s sorta one of the items of, ‘fool me once, shame on me…’idea.

    • SheSellsSeashells

      “I’ve had to read too much about people who weren’t like me because I could find almost nothing about people who were, and I don’t think it’s wrong to point this out and call loudly for more such characters. Yes, I can empathize with protagonists who aren’t like me just as you can empathize with protagonists who aren’t like you, but I can’t help noticing I seem to be expected to do that a lot more often than you do, and I wouldn’t mind changing that dynamic if possible.”

      I am good with this; I understand this. (I was *peeved* when reading Stasheff’s “Warlock” books at twelve, where the twelve-year-old girl with awesome telekinetic powers never used them for anything much and never ever got to fight with them. So, fanfic.) But I rarely see this feeling used as anything other than yet one more social-justice bludgeon. Normally I walk away from the argument, because it’s not worth the time-and-energy cost to me. Today, I appear to be feeling argumentative. *eyes rising comment count warily*

      • Lots of wonderfull superversiveness in the Warlock books. Love the first few, and especially the prequel “Escape Velocity”

        The warlocks wife can be… scary… when she wants to be

        • Warlock started great, but it seemed to repeat itself quite often, I found.

          • Yes, it got a little formulaic for a while, as if he didn’y really have anything more to say but the publisher was saying, Chris! We can sell more of those if only you’ll write ’em.

            The Wizard In Rhyme series was pretty good until it, too, fell prey to sequelitis.

  23. Competence is sexy. Competence is attractive.

    Incompetence isn’t either one of those things.

    So, tell me: Why do I want to buy a book or watch a movie filled with incompetence?

    • Ask the fans of Idiocracy? Or Red Dwarf? Or The Simpsons? Or The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? Or even several Pratchett novels? Sometimes watching people fail is very funny, or very moving.

      Though the thing sometimes forgotten is that you need to have the success sometimes to balance it out. Unrelenting failure is as unrealistic as unrelenting success.

      • They can’t ever write about someone successful because that would violate their oath to always write grey goo.

      • Idiocracy so much wasted potential there. Red Dwarf worst show ever (and my husband as bought them all from Amazon). Trailer Park Boys might be worse and we have those, too. The Simpsons now in season CLXVII; kill it with fire simply because it seems immortal (see also South Park) The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy the audio book with Fry reading is great!

        Taste is individual. How convenient that there are lots of authors to choose from since the demise of gatekeepers.

      • I cannot speak to Idiocracy not having seen it. As for Red Dwarf the early Simpsons and The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (Radio, Book, TV, not so much movie): Some of the appeal is that while the character have problems and are often their own worst enemy, they do keep on and “muddle through”. Lister has (had?) that hope of returning to Earth, whatever it might be like and keeps on for that. As messed up as Homer et. al. are, they are family and do manage despite everything. And Arthur Dent… well, how many would really do any better in that situation? And he gets by, if very haphazardly. He’s not taking over the galaxy, true, but he is, somehow, surviving. I’d say the same for Rincewind (whose motto might as well be, “Run!”)

        It does seem a British thing to ‘muddle through’ (Red Dwarf, HHGttG, and no doubt many others). The classic American Hero (of old, anyway) is/was the very competent wise-cracker who was minding his own business, was put upon, and (perhaps after being stunningly patient) gave his antagonist(s) what-for and how. The ultimate version of this is, perhaps, Bugs Bunny.

    • “Because you agree that the world is FUBAR and that nothing short of nuking the US will fix it?” It was so heavy that I think I threw my back out.

  24. BobtheRegisterredFool

    Trump gave money to the Florida Attorney General Bondi, apparently in exchange for Bondi not pursuing the Trump U. fraud allegations. Ho-hum you say? We all know Trump is a crook?

    This particular donation violated the law. The paperwork filed with the IRS falsely hid that.

    Trump is a crook. Hillary is a crook. There are concerns about the crookedness of the IRS under this administration. Cruz is not a crook.

  25. Dreamers vs the Men of Action . . . it isn’t that clear cut. Both sides dream and both sides take action. It’s what sort of dreams “Imagine all the people . . . ” and what sort of actions “Let’s block the street so no one can get to the rally!” that is the dividing line.

    • It wasn’t just no one can get to the rally, the anti-Trumpers also blocked off emergency vehicles.

      • Remember. There are 2 kinds of anti-Trumpers. Liberals and SJWs, who believe in violence to get their way, and rational people. Like people who are going to vote for Cruz.

        • The Other Sean

          There’s more kinds of anti-Trumpers. I’ve observed both non-violent Left anti-Trumpers, and several varieties of Right anti-Trumpers who say they’ll vote Democrat, 3rd party, or not at all if Trump wins the Republican nomination.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Some of my favorite dreams are truly appalling. I can decide not to act on dreams that are too deeply in conflict with my other values. The thing about conservatives is that we have compromised, and agreed that keeping me from having a free hand in my madness is worth the loss of freedom that comes from making decisions as a group. Even some of those who identify as left are still culturally American, and willing to abide by that bargin.

  26. …they’re men (and women) of action in the sense they try to fix what’s broken in the world and try to take care of themselves and those they feel responsible for. BUT often the reason they feel responsible and what makes them rise above average is a deep trauma…or some crack within themselves from which flows both insecurity and the ability to get things done.

    That’s the kind of protag I like to read about. The lack of perfection makes them human; taking action anyway makes them heroic.

  27. “I’m attracted to new experiences and different situations and tend to assume most SF/F readers are.” If SF/F doesn’t do that, it AIN’T SF/F. Same old same-old can’t be SF/F

  28. I’d say that, on the day of the Brussels bombing, we are going to need white men doing manly things. Now, in the event, these “white men” may be black, Hispanic, and Asian, but they will be defending the western way of life and attacking the Muslim way of life, and not just militarily but culturally.

    People who curl up in a ball need not apply.

    • Just like after the Beirut Marine barracks bombing.

      • As in so many cases since the 60s, a Disloyal Opposition in Congress put Party before Country, and Republican leaders don’t have the cover of Party operatives with bylines to act like Clinton in Bosnia, or Obama everywhere.

    • https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_bombings_during_the_Northern_Ireland_Troubles_and_peace_process

      In the 30 years of the Troubles there were over ten thousand bombings. Do you helieve that the Protestant and Catholic ways of life needed to be attacked militarily and culturally?

      • So, what is Your solution for Brussles et al, chief? Or do you just like wasting pixels on poor attempts at equivication?
        Oh, By the by, most of the IRA’s American supporters were of the Democrat variety. What is it with left leaning sorts and killing innocents?

        • Improved local police work, including community policing, so that support for terrorists declines. Improved attempts to integrate people of non-European ancestry into the wider society. Fighting the urge to believe that there is some single heroic action that will end the problem quickly and completely.

          European SF writers can help by representing these people in their work.

          • “European SF writers can help by representing these people in their work.”

            (Starts laughing uncontrollably)

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              Is an Islamic fundamentalist really going to care what a European SF writer says about his people?

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Oh, he’ll care if the author says something about “his people” that he doesn’t like. 👿

              • Well, to give Hyrosen some credit, I think it’s for the benefit of non-Islamic Europeans. The fact that, given the majority of SF’s track record with Christianity, this would almost certainly be counterproductive has apparently escaped him.
                Or, alternatively, the track record of recent migrants to Europe, if the Euro SF writers decide to write them as poor oppressed minorities who never did anybody any harm.
                Now, if they managed to represent them as people, with good folk and bad, it could be viable. Unfortunately, given past performance, it is almost a guarantee that Euro SF would end up getting that wrong too. (Note: I do not except the Volksdeutsche Expatriate and crew from this.)

          • Where is your evidence that “community policing” works to the effect you claim?

            Wouldn’t “Improved attempts to integrate people of non-European ancestry” constitute cultural genocide?

            As nobody has proposed “some single heroic action that will end the problem quickly and completely” I hardly think that urge need be fought, unlike the straw men of your army of arguments.

          • For certain values of “these people” I’d agree. Why do I suspect that if someone DID write a realistic sci-fi story where someone from a Muslim ghetto succeeds in integrating into the wider European society, defeating the regressive people who would oppose her attempt, and reaping the appropriate rewards for their efforts… that you’d pan the story somehow as being too simplistic, the writer too inauthentic, the hero too intrepid, or the concept 12 years old.

          • You went from almost reasonably sounding, if greatly flawed but maybe workable, to perhaps the stupidest thing I have heard in a long time . . . and keep in mind one of my co-workers is the type who wonders why the Gov’t doesn’t just print up the money needed to pay off the trillions in debt so yeah I get high levels of stupid daily
            mind boggling stupid.

      • Wrong equivalence. The IRA’s way of life (and that of the less-famous Protestant terrorist groups like the UDA and the UVF) did need to be attacked militarily and culturally. This was done, successfully, and the result was the Northern Ireland we now see, where political bitterness between Protestants and Catholics still simmers but no longer results in bombing innocent civilians.

        • I was in Belfast a few years ago, and they are proud to have their first ‘integrated’ school. Blacks in Ireland you ask? No, it was the first school where Catholic and Protestant children are taught in the same class.

        • Another thing to consider with the IRA is that it lost its state sponsorship. The IRA was a political creature, not a religious one, and without its political sponsors, it lost its support (same with a lot of the other Red Army Faction-type terrorist groups). Terrorist groups without states covertly supplying them money generally end up doing things like turning to crime for money (which we saw with a lot of the radical terrorist groups here in the states) if they don’t outright disappear. One could also say a lot of the Protestant terrorist groups were also political, but with the IRA no longer a threat, the source of money for the Protestant groups has also dried up, as nobody needs to pay them to fight the IRA.

          As long as ISIS maintains a de facto state in Iraq and Syria and the Iranian government and elements within Saudi Arabia keep paying terrorists to be terrorists (and, with Saudi Arabia, paying them to blow people other than Saudis up), terrorism won’t go away. Likewise, FARC in Colombia has dried up along with Venezuela’s oil revenues (and spare cash to spend on destabilizing Colombia). I don’t see Iran voluntarily stopping supporting Hezbollah and other Shi’ite groups, so some sort of stick is needed to persuade them to stop.

          We certainly should be supporting the moderate Muslims, like the Jordanian monarch that personally joined in the strike back when one of his pilots was burned alive. But part of that has to be convincing the non-moderates that letting the terrorists be the face of Islam is going to come back to bite them, hard, and that they need to choose whose side they are on. it also means telling them that if they want us to respect Islam as a religion, it needs to come with mutual respect for non-Islamic religions. If they want us to make blasphemy (like making fun of Mohammed) illegal, then the blasphemy we’re going to punish is blasphemy against our traditions, not theirs.

          • Quite frankly if Muslims can’t peacefully put up with the same level of mockery that the Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Mormons, etc. put up with, they don’t deserve a seat at the grownup’s table.

      • I’m starting to notice a pattern in your responses, by the way, and it’s one that is not flattering to you. When you believe that one of us is wrong, you tell us so, usually with some amount of evidence for your point. Fair enough. But when we reply that you’re wrong, and present the evidence that supports our position, I’ve rarely seen you respond to our points. That’s not flattering to you, because it looks more like the classic “drive-by commenting” behavior than like the behavior of someone who wants a real debate. You’re not going away like most drive-by commenters, I’ll give you that much — but if you don’t respond to arguments and just keep throwing new ones out, then for all practical purposes it’s serial drive-by commenting.

        For example, I just responded to your argument about the Troubles with what seems to me to be a pretty good argument: that the IRA’s way of life (and those of the UDA and UVF and other less-known groups) did need to be attacked culturally and militarily, and was. And, by implication, that’s what needs to happen with Islam: the Muslims who are willing to live and let live, and interpret the duty of jihad as a spiritual struggle rather than justifying attacks like Brussels, we can live with. But those who take the Koran as requiring them to engage in military action against innocent civilians (whom they consider not to be innocent) — they are like the IRA, and their way of life needs to be opposed both militarily and culturally.

        I don’t actually expect you to acknowledge my argument, sadly; as I said, your pattern of responses is starting to look like serial drive-by commenting. But it would be nice if you could prove me wrong and we could have a real debate on this issue. Or, heck, any of the several other issues where you and we have disagreed recently; I’m not picky. You’re only one person and there are many of us, so you wouldn’t be able to respond to every single comment and it wouldn’t be fair to expect you to — but you could at least address each issue for a while, rather than throwing out a new one before the previous issue has even started being debated.

        • Chantrill said that we will now have people attacking the *Muslim* way of life, militarily and culturally. You seem to agree that in Ireland, the solution to the Troubles was not attacking the *Protestant* and *Catholic* ways of life, but rather the groups responsible for the violence. So what is your argument with me?

          • Since the fundamental teaching of Islam is that all non-believers are fair game, Muslims come in two flavors: those following their beliefs as written, and those who don’t. Until you actually read the Koran, properly considering the Meccan and Medinan periods and the doctrine of abrogation, you have no actual argument. And once you have, you’ll either agree Muslims are dangerous, or you’ll lie once more and say they don’t really believe what they say they do.

          • To ‘deal with those who commit violence’ the death toll would be in the hundreds of millions. It is enshrined in their religion and their cultures (yes, plural, there are at least 12 distinct cultures I can think of that are dominantly Muslim and they’re all fucked up.) to murder their enemies and leave their bodies in the desert, to rape and beat women who do not conform to their idea of complete self-effacing modesty, to mutilate their daughters so they cannot enjoy sex, to beat their women to death by various means for being raped, to slaughter each other by the hundreds and thousands because of a battle that took place 1400 years ago, to behead or torture to death those who don’t completely submit to their twisted, demented view of the world. A world view that has children as young as six throwing grenades at enemies. A world view where kidnapping someone, dragging them to the desert, murdering them, and leaving them there is as casually discussed as going home and spending some time with the kids. When torturing someone to death is business as usual. When rape isn’t just business as usual but ENCOURAGED. Where people are property and property can be dealt with as the owner sees fit, including rape, mutilation, torture, and death by all sorts of horrible means (stoning, burying alive, beheading, throwing from buildings, crucifixion), reactions that extend not just to the person committing the offense, but to their entire family for generations. This is the MUSLIM culture, not the ISIS culture. Not the Boko Haram culture. This is the day to day culture. And these are just the things /I/ know about from the people who committed these acts. You want real horror stories, talk to the infantry boys. If you have any imagination at all you’ll never sleep again, you’re too squishy to cope with the harsh reality.

            People like the Kurds and the current King of Jordan are viewed as heretics and traitors, which is why they’re constantly being threatened with death. They are also a vanishingly small minority. They need to be encouraged and defended, because no matter how willing they are to fight? There aren’t enough of them. The huddled masses that go ‘oh but WE’RE not like that’ need to start proving it, because my experience, and the experience of every other person I’ve spoken to who has tried to deal with the terrorists is that they say that to us, while gleefully giving aid to the terrorists.

            • “People like the Kurds … are viewed as heretics and traitors”

              The Yazidi, persecuted by ISIS, participate in the same sort of cultural evil. A mob of Yazidi murdered Du’a Khalil Aswad: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Du%27a_Khalil_Aswad

              In our own country, mobs lynched thousands of people. The country was founded with racism and slavery and genocide at its core. The traitor’s flag continues to fly over statehouses, mocking and threatening the promise that all people are created equal.

              Martin Luther wrote “The Jews & Their Lies”, full of vile calumnies.

              UN peacekeepers, sent to African countries to solve problems like this militarily and culturally, themselves become sexual predators.

              Evil culture and belief exists everywhere. The notion that there are pure soldiers of light who should be sent to destroy evil, and will actually win if they are so sent, and that this can be done at less than ruinous cost, and will not corrupt those soldiers in the process, is wrong in every respect.

              In a different thread, I said that as a lefty, I wanted government spending on infrastructure repair. Dealing with immigrant populations and those of non-local ancestry is another form of infrastructure, and is subject to the same laziness and neglect that physical infrastructure sees. Such communities grow because like seeks like, and are neglected long enough for criminality and evil culture to grow out of control instead of being integrated into the wider culture, whereupon the problem feeds on itself because now police fear to enter the communities, and eventually things explode.

              • All that is needed for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.

                You, sir, advocate doing nothing. You want it done for you. You do not understand war. Yes, soldiers can go, do what must be done and come back without being destroyed by it though you and yours are rapidly destroying the things that let them do that. Home, family, hope, honor, integrity. You are a fool, and if you are a willfull fool on your head be the consequences. Not that I expect you to loose any sleep until you’re the one being eaten by the monsters you have forced your watch dogs to ignore.

                • “All that is needed for evil to succeed is for good men to do nothing.”

                  The Soviet Union did not succeed.

                  Using platitudes as drivers of policy is how nations get themselves into serious trouble.

                  • And if you think we ‘did nothing’ against the Soviet Union you’re a bigger fool than you have hither to shown yourself to be. It’s not a platitude. It’s a stark truth. So DO something or get out of the way.

                    • Hyr isn’t interested in entering the arena, he merely wishes to critique those who do.

                    • Oh, I know. He wants to feel morally superior to the people who are responsible for his freedoms and then blame those same people for the shadows of the past for which they bear no responsibility, all without getting off his ass and becoming more than a pedantic, pathetic, leeching, hypocrite.

                  • And good men did something about it.
                    You really don’t actually read history, do you?

                  • Platitudes? You mean such as using nebulous, generic terms:

                    Improved local police work, including community policing, so that support for terrorists declines. Improved attempts to integrate people of non-European ancestry into the wider society. Fighting the urge to believe that there is some single heroic action that will end the problem quickly and completely.

                    Those are talking points, they are goals, naught but pretty words without an ounce of strategy to their credit.

                    Pure handwavium.

              • “Mobs lynched thousands of people”

                According to the statistics, between 1882 and 1968, approximately 4,743 lynchings occurred. If you do the math, that’s approximately 55 per year. Or, in other words, fewer than half the people killed by Muslim terrorists in Paris last year alone

                But yeah, Hyrosen, keep singing your siren song of moral equivalence. Keep telling yourself that the Protestants haven’t buried Luther’s anti-Semitism so deep that now it’s only coming back on the left. Keep telling yourself that a traitor’s flag doesn’t fly over the White House (What? It was treason, and we made the most of it.)

                But as for us, we see your claws and teeth.

                • Patrick Chester

                  Well, it’s safer for him to grasp at anything he can use to play the moral equivalence card. He doesn’t want to be Charlie, after all…

                  …though what will really happen is he’ll be amongst the last executed/enslaved. Unless, of course, the people he disagrees with manage to defeat the threat despite his efforts. Then he’ll continue whingeing.

                  Oh well, it is an imperfect Universe.

                • It should be noted that in all probability the majority of the people comprising those mobs were Democrats, many wearing their official white sheet regalia.

                  Which is one reason the Democrats have been so desperate to taint the GOP with the brush of their sins. The fact they are playing the “race card” from the other direction does not negate their playing of that card.

                • And remember that more than a quarter of those lynched were whites.

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    The lynching could be understood as an act of political terror to suppress the Republican vote. That, in combination with Democrats using gun control to assist the lynchings, is one reason why I ask if modern gun control Democrats are any different.

          • Are you familiar with the percentage of Catholics around the world who were in favor of the IRA, and when asked about it in surveys, said that the IRA was justified in what they did? At the height of the IRA’s popularity, I mean? (Obviously it’s lost favor since then.)

            Are you familiar with the percentage of Muslims around the world who are in favor of Islamic extremist groups like ISIS or Al Qaeda, and when asked about it in a survey last year, said that those groups are justified in what they do?

            Tell me — what is the difference between these two situations?

            • Robin: Hyr’s mind is made up and he does not wish for his enlightened views to be disturbed by facts.

              • Yes, but arguing on the Internet is a spectator sport.

                Also, while I’m talking to you, it actually *really* bugs me that you abbreviate his name wrong. Don’t know why, but it grates on my nerves every time I see you call him Hyr instead of Hy, which would be the correct abbreviation of the name Hyram. (Actually, maybe that’s why it grates on my nerves — as a programmer, I deal all the time with things that have right & wrong answers, and seeing an *incorrect* abbreviation is grating on my nerves because in my day job, that would be a bug that would cause the program to fail.)

                Would you mind calling him Hy instead of Hyr, please? I’d really appreciate it.

                • I call him that because he clearly presumes himself higher than the rest of us, and it seems rude to not acknowledge his stooping to enlighten us.

            • I think that the number of Muslim bruxellois who want their airport and subway blown up is small. I think that surveys mislead, often by design, like the various notorious ones that purport to show that huge percentages of Americans hold ludicrous beliefs.

              • How about addressing what Robin actually said, rather than a microscopic portion of it? He’s talking about surveys taken in many different countries.

                Besides, several of these surveys have had simple, direct questions, not the convoluted messes that are passed around in this country and used to “prove” ludicrous notions. But no, they don’t ask, “Do you want your infrastructure destroyed?”, they ask things like, “Is violent Jihad justified against those who disbelieve Islam?”

          • Your anti-religious bigotry apparently causes you to miss the critical point that the problem here is that they are Irish. Your historical ignorance leads you to misrepresent the root causes of these troubles. You really do need to go back and read the origins of these troubles in 16th Century England, where certain monarchs attempted to emplace policies very like those promoted n the Left today.

          • What is wrong with people attacking the Muslim way of life culturally? Not the gov’t, mind you, but people and private organizations. If I love Muslim people, and believe their rejection of Christ as tier Lord and Savior imperiled their soul, then shouldn’t I do so? Should cultural attacks on smoking, racism, littering, overeating, cannibalism, Windows OS, spitting in the street, etc. be seen as evil as well? Would you ask an atheist who belittles and debates against Christians ‘Do you agree with attacking Religious Believers militarily and culturally?’

            more importantly, when you make a statement with confident certainty like ‘no white child would be killed by police while brandishing a toy gun’ and are shown it is false…. Why do you not pause and wonder why your assumption was wrong and what other certainties might not be? Instead you just seem frustrated you didn’t ‘win’.

            • “What is wrong with people attacking the Muslim way of life culturally?”

              It is unlikely to produce the results the attackers would like.

              • Only if done incompetently. And promoting Islam or just hoping it will go away sure aren’t likely to produce better results.

                • You may have a point. We have attacked religion pretty successfully in America by pointing at Republicans and laughing. We should break out the blasphemy cannons and target the imams. My particular favorite is the hadith about the talking trees telling the jihadists where their enemies are, except for one kind of tree that is the “tree of the Jews”. Maybe a mashup with the Scottish Play, where Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane?

                  • And Groot has to be in there somewhere!

                  • Except for the part where you and yours won’t do that.
                    Because you’re scared of what the Muslims will do, and it would make you like those icky Islamophobic Republicans. Ewwwwww.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Yep, they’re Bigots and Cowards.

                    • I don’t think you understand what scared looks like. Scared looks like people who want to fight apocalyptic wars against a billion and a half people.

                      “Is it strength for neighbors to fortify their homes against each other, or is it paranoia? You must feel very insecure to wish to fortify an entire star system.” — James P. Hogan, _Voyage from Yesteryear_

                    • Interesting that you assume all Muslims in the world belong to the death cult.

                    • We want to fortify, because we know that the alternative is “kill them all, large and small”, and we’d rather not go that route.

                      It’s not Islam that terrifies us so much as what comes *after* we go ahead and kill a couple billion people.

                    • You really are willfully blind, aren’t you?
                      We don’t want to fight apocalyptic wars against a billion and a half people.
                      What we’re worried about is people like you hamstringing us until something really bad happens and we end up bringing sunrise without dawn to a billion and a half people.

                    • ” Scared looks like people who want to fight apocalyptic wars against a billion and a half people.”

                      The only people who WANT to fight apocalyptic wars want to fight against many more than a billion and a half people — and include you in the number they they want to fight. YOU may not be interested in apocalyptic war, but it’s interested in you.

                  • Your resemblance to hyenas has been noted, but it hasn’t been notably effective as an attack on Religion. According to a 2011 Gallup poll, More Than 9 in 10 Americans Continue to Believe in God.

                    Once again, facts fail to support a Hyr claim.

                    Of course, the other facts ignored by Hyr are that many Democrats frequently make public attestation of their faith, from Nancy Pelosi to Harry Reid to Chuck Schumer to Barry Obama … although much of the public has expressed doubts about their sincerity.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard


                    You have attacked religion in the US by Mockery, Ridicule and Hate Speech.

                    On top of that you believe the Hate Speech you preach.

                    You tell people that Conservative Christians want a Theocracy and consider “Bad Words” against Islam “Islamophobia”.

                    Sorry little man, you haven’t “successfully defeated” Christianity and the only reason that people like you are still alive is that Christians aren’t the Monsters You Claim We Are.

                    More and More Liberals like you reveal your basic Bigotry.

                    • Amen

                    • My people have been slaughtered by Christians for hundreds of years. I just happened to see Fiddler on the Roof the other day. The attitude it shows of Russian and European Jews to Christians is accurate at least up to the generation of my parents – Christians are drunken sub-human brutes who at any moment can rise up and destroy everything and have to be treated with the caution you give a mad dog; you know you will be attacked eventually but you hope it isn’t today.

                    • Sounds like what you needed was improved local police work, including community policing, and improved attempts to integrate people of non-Christian ancestry into the wider society.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      “Your people” aren’t Jews but are Bigoted Lefties. I respect G*d’s Chosen People but never bigoted Lefties.

                    • Hyr My paternal grandfather came from Vilna, Lithuania the heart of Eastern European Jewry for centuries. I have never seen non-Jews as ‘drunken sub human brutes’. Some non-Jews are drunks, yes, but many are not. My husband is Methodist. ‘subhuman’? Way to be a bigot! You are nastier than many Christians I’ve met. I’m sorry that you are a co-religionist of mine.

                    • No. Your people have been slaughtered for centuries by people using Christianity as a cover. The fundamental difference between Christianity and Islam is that other Christians can AND HAVE AND CONTINUE TO call them out and fight against them and can go to the Bible and point out exactly where Christ Himself says they are wrong.

                      Islam cannot do that.

                      The principle of abrogation — al-naskh wa al-mansukh (the abrogating and the abrogated) — directs that verses revealed later in Muhammad’s career “abrogate” — i.e., cancel and replace — earlier ones whose instructions they may contradict. Thus, passages revealed later in Muhammad’s career, in Medina, overrule passages revealed earlier, in Mecca. The Koran itself lays out the principle of abrogation:

                      2:106. Whatever a Verse (revelation) do We {Allah} abrogate or cause to be forgotten, We bring a better one or similar to it. Know you not that Allah is able to do all things?

                      The Meccan suras, revealed at a time when the Muslims were vulnerable, are generally benign; the later Medinan suras, revealed after Muhammad had made himself the head of an army, are bellicose.

                      I read the Koran right after 9/11; I wanted to see if I could figure out what was motivating the religion. Unfortunately, what I found was not encouraging.

                      Your people will be allowed to exist only as slaves for as long as Muslims find it convenient..

                    • … people using Christianity as a cover.

                      Sorry, no. When the history of Christian antisemitism includes so many leaders of the faith and originators of major denominations, you can point to modern Christianity having repented of this part of its history but denying that the Christianity of its day was to blame is to play “no true Scotsman”.

                    • Looking at what I wrote again, I can see how you got to that conclusion. I probably should have phrased it differently. Yes, there have been doctrinal arguments that supported anti-Semitism. However, I can and will make the case that the Church has been led by evil or mistaken men who had to be and have been opposed by the rest of us.

                      My actual point was that Christianity has the possibility of self correction built in, because the Old and New Testaments are built on the revelations of multiple prophets / Apostles / Disciples, looking back to the Gospels by different writers. Islam most definitively does not have that same mechanism.

                    • And when your people held the power, you slaughtered us. (See: Stephen)
                      What’s your point?

                    • My point is that “the only reason that people like you are still alive is that Christians aren’t the Monsters You Claim We Are” is not entirely accurate. No matter how many “no true Scotsman” excuses you make.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Bull Shit!

                      You bigots talk about Christians as Monsters Here And Now not in some other place years ago.

                      Sorry Lefty, but American Conservative Christians are not the Monsters your Hate Speech claims we are.

                      I say it again, if we were those Monsters, only idiots would call us out on it because the idiots would be dead, but then you haven’t shown much intelligence here.

                    • It is worth noting that in contemporary politics conservative American Christians are greater supporters of Israel’s rights to securely exist and to self-determination that are liberal American Jews.

                      … you haven’t shown much intelligence here

                      Well, there you have me, Drak. Arrogance, smugness, bigotry, illogic and near total incapacity for self-reflection, but nothing resembling intelligence. Hyr’s contributions here have mostly consisted of low-grade mediocre trolling and a vicious hostility to those who do not share his delusions.

                      I would recommend ignoring him as he has yet to contribute anything substantive to a single discussion but he is the only troll we’ve got, so needs must, eh?

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Anybody know where we can get some higher quality trolls? 😈

                    • Start searching under bridges?

                    • Not those! They’re Union Trolls!

                    • Now I’m imagining holding a troll upside down by his ankles for an inspection while the song, “Look for the Union label” plays in the background.

                    • Hyr, nobody who employs so many straw men, tautological arguments, question begging, false equivalencies, red herrings, proofs by assertioin, faulty generalizations and affirmations of disjuncts as you is in any position to accuse others of committing fallacies.

                      If Christians were as bad as you say, there would be no righteous gentiles. There are righteous gentiles, ergo Christians are not as uniformly bad as you assert.

                      You are letting your bigotry and atheistic prejudice push you into false reasoning. Christians do not assert that Faith in Christ makes them perfect, of even good; they assert it makes them better people than they would be without such faith.

                      You error lies in part in thinking that such people are mean, petty and vicious because they are Christian when in fact they are mean, petty and vicious because they are people — just so are many Jews, atheists, and Muslims mean, petty and vicious.

                      The question of consequence is whether a group’s religious faith encourages them to indulge in their baser temptations (such as beheading outsiders) or does it encourage their gentler, kinder traits, such as respect for the autonomy of the individual.

                      Atheism, perforce, encourages the former because it fails to encourage the latter.

                    • “Sounds like what you needed was improved local police work, including community policing, and improved attempts to integrate people of non-Christian ancestry into the wider society.”

                      No kidding. And that was the experience of Jews living in Christian Germany – they were integrated well into general society. But just like you want here, it was general society that turned into ravening beasts who slaughtered the minority, not the other way around. That’s why no one should vote for the Republican scum who are preaching fear and hate.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Yep, just a paranoid bigot.

                    • Still committing fallacies, Hyr: this is the one of misidentification. The Germany which you decry was in the grip of anti-Christian beliefs. You could look it up.

                    • I find it interesting that someone who cites the natural extension of identity politics as a great evil (not disagreeing on that point, mind you) would then turn around and push identity politics.

                    • It is a sad fact of this world that while you might have no interest in identity politics, identity politics will always take an interest in you.

                      Thus, with those who practice that it is sometimes necessary to show them the other side of that coin.

                    • Hyrosen, you’re still willfully confused.
                      1. Your utter incomprehension of the difference between “were” and “are.” (Never mind the fact that Germany was not, in fact, generally more than nominally religious, and the fact that, as Paul pointed out, “people like you” meant, as was clear in the context, obnoxious oikophobic leftists)
                      2. Your utter inability to realize that we don’t want a Muslim holocaust.

                    • Sorry, 60, but you miss the point: Hyr believes he knows what we want better than do we. He knows this about what kind of books we want recognized by awards, and about how we want to address the world’s problems. What he is incapable of doing is accurately understanding our purposes, engaging in honest discussion or out-thinking a box of rocks.

                      Of course, a box of rocks has an advantage over Hyr: it doesn’t think it knows anything and thus has neither false assumptions nor prejudices to overcome.

                    • No kidding. And that was the experience of Jews living in Christian Germany – they were integrated well into general society. But just like you want here, it was general society that turned into ravening beasts who slaughtered the minority, not the other way around. That’s why no one should vote for the Republican scum who are preaching fear and hate.

                      I just want this highlighted, so we can bring this up every time Hy comments, because it perfectly works to illustrate the hypocrisy in his worldview.

                      Encouraging African-Americans to feel envy, fear and hatred towards America as a whole (as you have done in this very thread) does nothing for anyone. Group identity politics, playing one another off our differences for political gain (which is all talk of privilege does), ends up being toxic for everyone. It’s even more stupid in this case. Traditionally, demagogues rile the majority up against the minority. Riling a minority up against the majority just makes room for one to come and appeal to the majority.

                      Your utter inability to realize that we don’t want a Muslim holocaust.

                      More specifically, we’re specifically trying to avoid another holocaust. The longer it takes, the more powerful the radical Islamicists get, the more force it will take to stop them and the more innocents will die both from collateral damage and deliberately at the hands of the Islamicists. If Iran gets a nuclear arsenal, even if they don’t use it, there will be no way to stop the deaths of countless innocents except the unthinkable.

                    • “Unborn children aren’t real people. Why? Because REASONS! Africans aren’t real people. Why? Because REASONS!”

                      All arguments should be dismissed. Why? Because REASONS!

                      Or else reasons should be evaluated and found valid or wanting.

                    • You replied in the wrong place, but I found it anyway.
                      The fact is that your argument was utterly incoherent, because you failed to make any sort of claim that an unborn child is not a person.
                      Instead, you simply went with the terms for the different stages of human development while in the fallopian tubes and the womb, hoping that this would obfuscate that these are…terms for the different stages of human development.
                      And as far as I know, all humans are people.
                      Not that would-be tyrants have ever been good at figuring out that last sentence.

                    • And as far as I know, all humans are people.

                      There is a strong argument to be made that adolescents are not people.

                    • Having recently been an adolescent, I would contend that adolescents are people.
                      They’re just perpetually drunk on hormones.

                  • ” We have attacked religion pretty successfully in America by pointing at Republicans and laughing.”

                    Yep. And you’ve been allowed to get away with it. Unlike Christianity, Islam’s reaction to those who insult it is to kill the insulters. Which is why Greg Gutfield could take hidden cameras to Muslim run bakeries in Oregon, Indiana, etc., ask to have a cake made for his gay wedding, get turned down by ALL of them, and those bakeries haven’t seen a single cowardly SJW protester (where were you?) or prosecutor.

                    Sooner or later, Christians will adopt the same incentives.

                    • Patrick Chester

                      Hy does it because he knows he won’t be attacked for it. I guess it’s easier to pretend the people he hates are “Republican scum who are preaching fear and hate” when he knows he won’t face any risk in doing so.

                      (Oh hey, the WordPress reader is laggy and clunky but it does let me directly reply to comments that don’t have reply options on the site.)

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Replying to emails “solves” the problem of no “reply buttons” as well. 😉

                    • This is a workaround, albeit somewhat tedious.

                      Find a “reply” field somewhere on the page, hover over it and copy the URL (I recommend right-clicking, but if you prefer to copy it by hand feel free to do so.) Take the copied URL and either paste into a convenient text editor (such as notepad) or into the browser address bar. DO NOT ENTER at this point.


                      Now hover over the date stamp of the comment to which you want to reply and record the comment’s six digit identification (e.g., 375529) and edit the previously copied URL in the block just before the #respond (highlighted above) so that the number matches that of the post to which you actually wish to reply.



                      Which you are then free to enter in the browser address bar. With a little practice it becomes quite easy and may (with care) be done in the browser address bar.

                    • Of course, if you fat-finger it, you’ll break comment nesting until WordPress re-initializes it.

                    • “Hy does it because he knows he won’t be attacked for it.”

                      In the Great Desecration
                      P. Z. Myers nailed a consecrated host wafer to pages from the Qur’an and The God Delusion, and threw the thing into the crash along with coffee grounds and banana peels. There’s a photo at the linked site. So far, he has not been murdered by a horde of furious Muslims (or Catholics, although most of his hate mail came from them).

                      Allah doesn’t exist. Jesus doesn’t exist. Jehovah doesn’t exist. Brahma doesn’t exist. Zeus doesn’t exist. Ahura Mazda doesn’t exist. Odin doesn’t exist. Raven and Coyote don’t exist. Papa Legba doesn’t exist. The Flying Spaghetti Monster (pesto be upon Him) doesn’t exist.

                      But in this country, it is (a subset of) the Christians who are trying to impose their religious beliefs on everyone, and so it is they who need to be fought.

                    • Really? how do you know they don’t exist? What is your evidence, your proof beyond doubt? Absent objective factual support for your assertions, aren’t you simply attempting to impose your religious* beliefs on everyone?

                      While your belief is atheist, it is <religious because it has no basis in fact, merely in faith. Yours is a jealous faith which seeks to drive all others before it.

                    • /*/** i>But in this country, it is (a subset of) the Christians who are trying to impose their religious beliefs on everyone, and so it is they who need to be fought.

                      You can correct me if I’m wrong, but based on an earlier thread you commented in, I’m going to assume this has to do with abortion.

                      If imposing beliefs on others is wrong, it’s wrong no matter who’s doing it, and that imposition is generally coming from the left. Abortion, specifically, is a case where multiple parties civil rights are coming into conflict, and that means there’s no way everyone can end up happy. While I find the position abhorrent, I can logically understand the presumption that childbirth to some makes sense as a point when an individual begins. I can’t comprehend how anyone rational can not see that others may sincerely and logically pick different start points, including conception and viability.

                      I’m going to file this one under ‘the left cannot understand their opponents or grant them the benefit of the doubt as to their opinions’. Religious people imposing their beliefs on others was okay when it was opposition to slavery or marching for civil rights, or (more recently) calling for compassion for illegal immigrants, so there’s obviously something about abortion, specifically, where the left just can’t accept that there are areas where rights come into conflict and that people will sincerely disagree, and sometimes the only way to hash it out fairly is let the people decide, and that means accepting losses occasionally.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      “Imposing Beliefs Onto Others” is only wrong when the Beliefs being imposed are not ones that the person talking likes.

                      Lefties love to impose their Beliefs onto others but can’t stand people who believe differently than them imposing their wrong beliefs onto others.

                      Of course, some Lefties like to claim that the problem is imposing Religious Beliefs onto others but fail to explain why imposing non-Religious beliefs is better.

                    • “How do you know?”

                      Because there is no evidence that any of the supernaturalist claims are true. Because it is more likely that 0, not 1, out of N similar but contradictory claims are true. Because people believe what their parents believe. Because I have a deep and abiding faith.

                      “Hear, O Israel, that Lord Your God? That Lord is None.”
                      “There is no God, including Allah, and Mohammed was just some guy.”
                      “…something similar for Jesus, but I can’t think of anything clever…”

                      People may believe whatever they like, but my good will ends when they smear their claims across my currency, stuff them into my patriotic loyalty oaths, push them into my courtrooms, forbid teaching scientific truths, and impose their beliefs about sex and procreation on people who don’t want them.

                    • Nonexistence of evidence is not evidence of nonexistence — especially when devout believers in nothing are prone to deny evidence when it is presented. I find ample evidence in support of my beliefs and none in support of your beliefs. Nor do I or my Beloved Spouse believe what our parents believed, as I suspect you do not believe what your parents believed.

                      Before you get too twisted out of shape over over public abowals of faith on our currency and in our courts, consider that this nation was founded on the faith that every individual was product of a deity who bestowed that individual with value beyond their meager contributions to “society.”

                      As for imposing one’s beliefs on others, does that include the belief that Negroes are full human beings, abolitionists being a decidedly Christian movement?

                      On what basis do you declare any other person’s beliefs immoral and deny their right to impose them upon you? From a strictly non-theistic perspective, all others are prey for the strong and those with the will to wield power.

                    • accordingtohoyt.com/2016/03/22/dreamers-and-men-of-action/?replytocom=357632#respond

                      People may believe whatever they like, but my good will ends when they smear their claims across my currency, stuf them into my patriotic loyalty oaths, push them into my courtrooms, forbid teaching scientific truths, and impose their beliefs about sex and procreation on people who don’t want them.

                      So instead you propose imposing your beliefs upon them? I disagree with you.

                      Amendment 1 to the Constitution of the United States:

                      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

                      I think that everyone should be allowed to publicly express their opinion, even if I think it is an obnoxious load of bunk. On the other hand, I don’t have to invite them into my house or on my blog to do so.

                      People should also be allowed to lobby to pass (or overturn) laws – so long as they are willing to have it reviewed for Constitutionality at the federal and state levels.

                    • forbid teaching scientific truths,
                      Truths like nuclear power is safe and clean? Truths like genetically modified organisms are generally as safe as or safer than so-called natural alternatives? Truths like there are physical and likely mental differences between men and women? Truths like climate change may not necessarily be a bad thing, and its threat is being exaggerated for political and financial gain? Those sorts of truths?

                      and impose their beliefs about sex and procreation on people who don’t want them.
                      … like those bakers and florists that don’t want to celebrate a mode of recreational sex that’s definitely not what those parts are naturally intended for? Given all the Science Fiction I’ve read, two guys married doesn’t squick me out, but then again, one guy married to two women doesn’t either (reading Heinlein will do that). For all it’s talk about opening up marriage, the left won’t touch the original definition of marriage issue in American politics, the one that nearly started a war, and it’s clear evidence that what the left cares about is buying votes, not truly opening up marriage to all, which leads back to the original point: marriage is a social construct, and any definition is valid if agreed upon; it’s not a right, and those sticking to the traditional definition are just as valid as those that want to change it.

                      Unlike all that “privilege” talk the left engages in, minor nods to the religious foundation of American culture hurt nobody. If you want to let both sides wield the banhammer against speech they find offensive, you’re not going to end with a society left.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      If you want to let both sides wield the banhammer against speech they find offensive, you’re not going to end with a society left.

                      Lefties only want to “ban speech” that they dislike no matter what that individual may have claimed.

                      Can’t see him (or any Lefty) allowing Conservative Christians to ban speech we find offensive.

                    • ” If you want to let both sides wield the banhammer against speech they find offensive, you’re not going to end with a society left.”

                      Both sides? Lefties like Hyrosen will never admit there’s more than one. Which is why you can only have a civil society if they aren’t part of it.

                    • Let me translate: I’m an Evangelical Atheist. I think Richard Dawkins is awesome, that Christopher Hitchens was too conciliatory towards Christians, and I’m an oikophobe.


                      You are neither original nor profound.

                    • (Replying to a bunch of stuff at once…)

                      “Nonexistence of evidence is not evidence of nonexistence”

                      There is a literal infinity of things for which there is no evidence of nonexistence. This is Russell’s Teapot, or in its modern incarnation, the Flying Spaghetti Monster. I believe what I believe, and I believe that I have good reason for believing what I believe. If that does not meet with your philosophical approval, I don’t really care. (Anyway I’m one of those uneducated louts who mocks philosophy.)

                      “…Dawkins awesome…Hitchens too conciliatory…”

                      There are no atheist popes. The big three, Dawkins, Hitchens, and Harris, have unfortunately large feet of clay – misogyny, warmongering, anti-Muslim hysteria. Knowing one true thing doesn’t prevent you from being wrong in other ways, or from being a jerk. In particular, I would never try to support the “religion poisons everything” argument. It is sufficient for me to know that all religions are false, and that therefore the government should not force me to abide by their particular tenets. Saying that all of their fruit is evil may be good for selling books, but is manifestly untrue.

                      “Truths like nuclear power is safe and clean? Truths like genetically modified organisms are generally as safe as or safer than so-called natural alternatives? Truths like there are physical and likely mental differences between men and women? Truths like climate change may not necessarily be a bad thing, and its threat is being exaggerated for political and financial gain? Those sorts of truths?”

                      Yes, for those cases where they are true.

                      GMOs are safe by everything we know so far. In fact, I oppose “positive” GMO labeling laws because they are a subterfuge by GMO opponents to bring lawsuits against companies who use ingredients many levels of supply and processing distant from the place where GMOs are introduced, in order to drive GMOs from the market altogether.

                      Nuclear power is generally safe but occasionally goes spectacularly wrong; we’ve got Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima Daiichi as examples. If we’re teaching this in science, it’s a good place to talk about probability and statistics, especially variance – low probability events with large amounts of destruction versus high probability events with small amounts of destruction, and use nuclear and coal as examples.

                      (Biological) men and women are physically different. Mentally different? Maybe. I haven’t read on this subject, and in any case, mental stuff is notorious for experimenter bias and failure to isolate confounding factors, and even when the science is good, the results get used by people to push their preconceived agendas and to treat individuals as though they are whatever average the studies have come up with. So no to this one.

                      “Climate change may not be bad and its threat is being exaggerated for political and financial gain”

                      I’m glad we’re finally off “anthropogenic climate change doesn’t exist”. These two claims are political, though. Science classes teaching about climate change should teach established scientific belief about what effects it is expected to cause. Good or bad is irrelevant. Conspiracy theories don’t belong in science classes.

                      “those sticking to the traditional definition are just as valid”

                      Those sticking to the traditional definition of marriage are trying to prevent other people from acting on theirs. The same for abortion. The same for forcing people to use currency containing claims which they may find false and obscene.

                      I will grant that religious accommodation is thorny. How about this? You can have your homophobic bakers and photographers not having to work for same-sex weddings if you also agree that Muslim cab drivers may reject passengers who are carrying bottles of alcohol (especially prevalent at airports because of duty-free shops). Sound good?

                      I also grant that there are people who seriously believe that it is correct to treat a zygote and a blastocyst as having the rights of a human. But it also seems to me, anecdotally, that it is these same people who oppose birth control and sex education and administration of the human papillomavirus vaccine. Then, given that neither a zygote nor a balstocyst have never had a brain, believing them to have human rights is at best a sincere religious belief, and such beliefs should not be imposed on people who don’t share them.

                      I imagine that polyamorous marriage would become legal if there was a sufficiently large constituency pushing for it, but it’s much harder to write the law than for interracial marriage and same-sex marriage. The former needed no change at all; the latter just needed some wording changed in laws to make them gender neutral – “spouse one” and “spouse two” instead of “husband” and “wife”, and those changes were minor given how far gender equality is already prevalent in the US. But “two” is very different from “more than two”. Two people can unite as a married couple, and if they divorce, they are back to being two single people. With more than two people, there are many more possibilities for both the nature of the union and the nature of its dissolution, and the law would have to learn how to deal with them.

                      “Negroes are full human beings, abolitionists being a decidedly Christian movement”

                      Which is why the “religion poisons everything” argument is wrong.

                      Given that this blog has a libertarian bent, the notion of not forcing your beliefs on other people should not be strange. Abolition is an easy libertarian argument because black slaves are people. Abortion is an easy libertarian argument because zygotes/blastocysts/embryos/fetuses are not yet people. Interracial and same-sex marriage are an easy libertarian argument because why is it your business who gets married? Preventing heckler’s veto is an easy libertarian argument because you don’t get to stop me from listening to whomever I want to hear. Not ascribing blame to entire populations for the actions of some members is an easy libertarian argument, because people are responsible for their own actions.

                      Public versus religious accommodation laws are in much more of a gray area. Both sides have constitutionally valid competing interests. Unfortunately, as with many other human conflicts, the contradictions are inherent and there may be no good way out except by use of force; the majority votes in the law and the minority complies or resists, and then the courts sort out whether the laws constitute the least restrictive ways to do things.

                    • … if you also agree that Muslim cab drivers may reject passengers who are carrying bottles of alcohol (especially prevalent at airports because of duty-free shops). Sound good?

                      We believe in freedom, and equality before the law; are those such difficult concepts to wrap your head around?

                    • As stated, his question about Muslims is invalid in reference to the question of religious objections to various types of requests, because almost all cab drivers (traditionally – I’m not familiar enough with services like Uber to know how they should fall in this) work for a company, and are not independent, while the bakeries and such which are being harassed and sued are independently owned, as far as I know.

                      In that vein, Muslims should be free to start their own taxi service (even if it’s a company of one), which can refuse to carry dogs or alcohol, but if they work for a company which does NOT have these restrictions, then they can damn well do what they’re told regarding the subject or be fired.

                    • Of course we know the climate changes, its the anthropogenic part we contest.

                    • Unborn children aren’t real people.
                      Because REASONS!

                      Africans aren’t real people.
                      Because REASONS!

                    • I’m glad you finally respond to me.

                      You initially complained about Christians forbidding teaching scientific truths. Is your problem merely about Christians, or is it about anyone? We’ve got a long list of scientific truths or debates suppressed by progressives with dramatically painful real-world implications, yet every time I’ve seen someone complain about suppressing science it’s about trivial complaints over the teaching of evolution. As a Catholic, I’d be remiss not to believe in evolution, and I think those that argue about evolution in high school biology are doing both science and their faith a disservice, but I find that pushing crackpot social theories like ‘privilege’ and ‘social justice’ to be far more pervasive and far more damaging, much less scientific rejection like the anti-vaccine diehards. Worse, there’s a movement afoot to criminalize dissent from the climate change faith, which is far more of an offense to science. The fact that one of the major pushers is himself an anti-vaccine diehard should give anyone that cares about science much more concern than a bunch of evangelicals asking for a disclaimer in their textbooks.

                      Given that this blog has a libertarian bent, the notion of not forcing your beliefs on other people should not be strange. Abolition is an easy libertarian argument because black slaves are people. Abortion is an easy libertarian argument because zygotes/blastocysts/embryos/fetuses are not yet people. Interracial and same-sex marriage are an easy libertarian argument because why is it your business who gets married? Preventing heckler’s veto is an easy libertarian argument because you don’t get to stop me from listening to whomever I want to hear. Not ascribing blame to entire populations for the actions of some members is an easy libertarian argument, because people are responsible for their own actions.

                      What constitutes a person isn’t a libertarian argument. A libertarian could properly go either way. You’re on a blog dedicated to Science Fiction; this should be obvious. Take a very common science fiction theme: we have what may be a non-human intelligence: a true sentient AI, or an uplifted animal, for example. The question of when that AI or uplifted animal becomes a person is not one to which libertarian political thought has an answer; I would understand completely two libertarians disagreeing as to where that threshold is, but expect that they will agree that when it is crossed, the now-person deserves rights.

                      Marriage is an issue because you can’t separate the ceremonial aspects from the associated set of government-defined benefits. If you want to uncouple marriage from the government entirely, as a libertarian would likely do, the issue of who can marry who becomes completely irrelevant. As long as marriage is the government’s business, however, it becomes the business of the voters; there will have to be arbitrary rules. (Inter-racial marriage is not the government’s business because we expect the government to be blind to race but not gender, which is why we have separate (but equal) gender-segregated restrooms but we’ve quite rightly done away with racially-segregated ones.)

      • Of course, they were attacked in both ways, but a defining characteristic of an SJW is dishonesty. Vox Day pegged you perfectly.

  29. I’ve always loved books with clever protagonists. Laumer’s Reteif, White’s Sector General (quintessential problem solving SF), Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat, Lynch’s Locke Lamorra.

    • You should stop reading immediately. Literacy is also a white privilege so until all your oppressed are literate, it is an abuse of your position to do so.

    • You are aware that Retief was a justification for CIA actions, are you not? Eric Flint, who has edited reprints of the stories, make a very cogent argument for that understanding of Laumer’s tales.

      • I read them a long long time ago, so no. The main thing I remember was when the Groaci were trying to torture Reteif by showing him patterns of clashing colors, and he was going along with it and moaning appropriately.

  30. Totally off track. I wandered over to whatever and saw a discussion on the proper use of they, them, their as gender neutral pronouns. It was being casually discussed as the coming new normal. Could this really be a thing? If the use of he and she becomes rude in the future, than count me a rude old cuss.

    • Count me a rude young cuss, while you’re at it.
      I will always refer to a certain track star as “the athlete formerly known as Bruce,” or just “Jenner.”

      • Like denouncing pronunciation of “ask” as “ax”, ostensible defenders of language and grammar are often trying to assert their social superiority or make some other political point; they are very often “assertionists”, a term coined by Eugene Volokh for people who are so sure of themselves that they do not do their research and ignore the research when it is thrust upon them.

        ( “Ax” meaning “ask” is a thousand years old. http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=2734 )

        • What does that make those who denounce “assertionists” by offering up irrelevant argument for their preferred justification? For that matter, what does it make those who insist their reading preferences are prima facie superior yet fail to offer any objective literary standard in support of their preferences — other than those with whom they disagree “have cooties”?

          “Ax” remains non-standard pronunciation of “ask” no matter how long it has been in use. “Ain’t” still ain’t correct English, and the move toward not accepting “He” as inclusive of “She” or even “It” for a person of undisclosed gender is a very very recent demand, lacking any legitimacy in past practice.

        • I’m not sure if you should be the one complaining about “assertionists.”

        • One wonders whether you offered similar reproof to those mocking President George W. Bush’s pronunciation of the word “nuclear”.

    • http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=89

      This comes up all the time on Language Log.

      “Avoid singular they if you want to; nobody is making you use it. But don’t ever think that it is new (it goes back to early English centuries ago), or that it is illogical (there is no logical conflict between being syntactically singular and semantically plural), or that it is ungrammatical (it is used by the finest writers who ever used English, writers who uncontroversially knew what they were doing).”

      • “Everyone *is* wet” but never “Everyone *are* wet”.

        “Everyone looked like *they* had been in the rain” but never “Everyone looked like *he* had been in the rain”.

        • Of course, as you should know, while “everyone” is treated grammatically as a singular, it is an expression of a plural concept.

          • As opposed to “All of us are wet,” never “All of us is wet,” as in this use “all of us” is conceptuallly plural.

          • As opposed to “All of us are wet,” never “All of us is wet,” as in this usage “all of us” is conceptually plural.

            • Interesting — when I noticed the multiple “l” strike as that reply was posting I tried to correct it and thought it had succeeded as WP dropped back into comment mode without showing the reply as having posted. Oh well: WP Delenda Est.

          • To fall back on a computing term: “Everyone” is a container for the set of all persons.

        • Is it “Everyone looks like they are laughing at you,” or “Everyone looks like they is laughing at you”?

          The “singular ‘they’” isn’t; in some contexts, it’s just grammatically easier to speak of an individual in the plural. (Rather similar to contexts where a person may be spoken of in the masculine/neuter gender though she is of the female sex.)

  31. @Civilis (I’m going to un-nest. It’s too annoying to reply otherwise.)

    Am I particularly exercised about Christians? It’s hard to answer. I’m particularly exercised by the Republican filth trying to impose their views on the good people of America, like the just-passed bathroom law in North Carolina. Why filth? Here’s the Texas Republican Party platform of 2012. http://s3.amazonaws.com/texasgop_pre/assets/original/2012Platform_Final.pdf If it seems like something you believe should be the law of the land, I would be sad but not surprised. People here sometimes wonder how we liberals could vote for President Obama. Documents like that platform nauseate me. Aside from President Obama being actually good, I would vote for anyone dedicated to making sure that laws like this are never enacted.

    • Hey, is anyone else here thinking of that story, The Misguided Missionary?
      And wondering if Hy is paid by the word or by the comment?

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        If I read that story, I’ve forgotten it.

        As for Hy, who would pay him for writing this garbage? 👿

        • I think that’s the name. Alien comes to convert Earth and accidentally gets fried by take off or reentry
          … It’s been a long time.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Misbegotten Missionary by Isaac Asimov?


            The Alien sneaks aboard an Earth Spaceship and takes the place of a wire that is used to open the main airlock.

            It dies when the Spaceship lands on Earth and the airlock is opened.

            Oh, the “missionary” does remind me of Hy.

            Quote from the link (high-lighted by me).

            Expedition to another planet examines why an earlier expedition failed. The story is written from an interesting point of view. From a viewpoint which abhors all competition.

            End Quote

            • IIRC, I read that story under the name of “Green Patches”, which is what Asimov preferred.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Nod, so I found.

                What’s interesting in “Green Patches”, the human scientist was glad that the missionary died, but Asimov later created Gaia a human created world similar to the world of “Green Patches”.

                Of course, Gaia was a “Good Thing”. 😦

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Also called “Green Patches”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Green_Patches

        • Considering that George Soros is documented as paying for Black Lives Matter to riot and assault people on the street?

      • I had Good Friday off, so I spent the day playing Injustice: Gods Among Us on my tablet, and commenting here. Arguing on the internet is my guiltiest pleasure. Happy Easter, by the way, and good luck with the moving and writing.

        Back to the arguing… 🙂

        The notion that I’m paid for doing this does dovetail nicely with your “Perfectly Logical” post. It’s comforting to believe that people who claim not to like you are acting out of fear or compulsion, and if they could speak their minds freely, they would agree with you.

        I could tell you that it’s not true in my case, but of course that’s also what I would say if I were faking it, so that’s no help. I guess it’s like AI. You can’t directly interrogate mental state. You can only observe behavior.

        • Shucks, Hyr — don’t you know a joke when you’re the butt of it?

          The idea that anybody would pay for such shoddy work as you’ve inflicted on this blog is a greater affront to American values than any argument you claim yet to have made.

          • I think he’s got the usual ideologue’s “It’s only funny if people I don’t like are the targets” thing going on.

            • I concede that has traditionally been the view of the bigots and Klansmen who have been the traditional core of his party.

              • My apologies — I realize I neglected the Trade Unions’ role in the Democrat Party, advocating policies which have suppressed African-American participation in the industries in which they operate and rioting when forced to desegregate their schools.

                You know, I cannot think of a single Republican school district rioting (as happened in Detroit, Boston and much of the Democrat-controlled South) against court-ordered desegregation.

    • Let’s examine some of this “filth”–since you’ve not said what parts of the platform you’re opposed to, I presume you mean the whole thing.

      “If It’s Good Enough For Us It’s Good Enough for Them – The Government shall not, by rule or law, exempt any of its members from the provisions of such rule or law” (2)

      “Census – We oppose the Census Bureau’s obtaining data beyond the number of people residing in a dwelling, and we oppose statistical sampling adjustments. We support the actual counting of people and oppose any type of estimation or manipulation of Census data. Only U.S. citizens should be counted for the purpose of adjusting legislative districts.” (2-3)

      “Eminent Domain and property forfeiture; the taking of property under eminent domain or property forfeiture should specifically exclude seizing private property for public or private economic development or for increased tax revenues. Additionally, we support fair market value compensation to
      the property owners for all damages from all sources as a direct result of any taking.” (3)

      Yes, indeed, very filthy.

    • That’s the beauty of Federalism: people in Texas get to live according to their values and people in NY get to live according to theirs. If Texans like to carry pistols and drink 48 oz. sodas, they can, and if people in NY like a $15 minimum wage and union run schools, they can have that.

      And if a person doesn’t like the laws in a given state they get to move to one with laws they do like. Over time people can judge which states are more successful according to their definition of success.

      There are plenty of things in the NY Working Families Party platform I find as noisome as you find the Texas Republicans — the difference is, I don’t want to abuse federal authority to eliminate everything I find hateful.

      As for NC’s just passed bathroom law — I doubt you even know what it actually says, merely what highly hostile media outlets have claimed it says.

      • “Single-Sex Multiple Occupancy Bathroom and Changing Facilities. – Local boards of education shall require every multiple occupancy bathroom or changing facility that is designated for student use to be designated for and used only by students based on their biological sex.”


        • I am horrified. I am shocked. Whatever shall be done about this?

          The State of North Carolina has gone on record as saying that thinking something is so doesn’t make it so.

          The horror. The horror.

        • Hyr,
          You do realize this doesn’t prove you’d read the bill before denouncing it, merely that when challenged you knew how to find it online?

          Beyond that, what is your objection to a law respecting the privacy rights of a majority of citizens at no material harm to a very small minority?

        • Oh, my. The pure evil of protecting women and girls against predators who would use a disguise to get close to them! How can we stand for this villainy??!?

          Ow. Now my cheek has a tongue fused to it.

        • Confused between state and local again. Federalism is for states.

    • Perhaps you don’t realize that the views of the “Republican filth” that you decry are those of the majority of Americans. Frankly, if you find these views distasteful, that’s pretty much a recommendation of them to the rest of us.

      • Well, not quite a majority. You may have noticed that the presidential candidate supported by this party failed to win the last two elections, and is about to be three.

        • Which of course has nothing to do with what I wrote.

        • The Republican wing of the DC progressive party likes the silent conservative majority only slightly better than you do. Their wing fights with the Democrats for support of the Wall Street plutocrats. Of course the Democrats can be bought more cheaply

        • Which has far more to do with the dozens of “voters >100% of population number” precincts than anything else.

          • If it weren’t for Daly’s Chicago precincts coming in amazingly pro-JFK, we would have had our most progressive president 8 years earlier. Oh yeah, there were some awfully odd results down in LBJ country also.

    • Sarah, it’s your blog. Personally, I always prefer to counter my opponent’s actual arguments rather than try to construct a steelman. If I’m out of order, let me know.

      Hy, I think your decision to unnest was a good thing.

      Let’s talk for a second about revealed preferences. I had a co-worker I’d occasionally spar with over politics. In 2004, he was absolutely on the side of John Kerry, because (his words, paraphrased) he was a veteran that actually saw combat, unlike Bush who shirked his duty, and it was the coworker’s duty to always side with the one who honorably served. I then asked who he voted for in 1996. “Clinton, of course. Why do you ask?” was the reply. Although he was adamant that his reason behind his vote was to give preference to a “real” veteran, his vote in 1996 made it obvious that this was not true, even if he didn’t realize it himself.

      Likewise, with climate change. We’re told that the accumulation of carbon dioxide is a real threat, and that we must do everything to fight it. Personally, I think the evidence is inconclusive; I have no problem with reducing carbon dioxide emissions, just since the benefit is unknown I don’t think it’s a high priority. On the other hand, I like nuclear power. It has the advantage of being clean and having low carbon dioxide emissions. Investing in nuclear power helps the climate change goal of reducing carbon dioxide emissions (what the greens claim to want) and is what I want any ways, so it should be something we agree on, but the people that think climate change is a problem won’t support nuclear power, even if it means increased carbon dioxide emissions. Obviously, reducing carbon dioxide isn’t really the goal of those opposing climate change, because they’d rather have more carbon dioxide than nuclear power.

      Hy, your revealed preferences are interesting. You come in talking about scientific truths, but when I ask for you to think about who’s really threatening science, rather than defend your position, you change the subject. Instead of admitting that Obama’s presidency has been remarkably unsuccessful (as both Bernie Sanders and Bill Clinton admit), or even presenting a defense, you take it as a given that Obama is a good president and Hillary is a good candidate, which, around here, is a statement you should know requires support.

      Likewise, you call the platform of the Republican Party of Texas a single law, when it’s a platform, including many principles as well as proposed laws; some of which should be uncontroversially good even to a liberal (the patriot act section for example). Do I like all of it? No. But from a quick reading, it’s a rather unremarkable statement, and there’s nothing there that seems out of place for a conservative political statement (except for the GMO labeling section, but I can’t complain that that is too conservative). You’re on record as calling the Republican party “scum” and now “filth”. Is that really your opinion of over a third of the American electorate? I think the third of Americans that are liberal are wrong, but “scum” and “filth”? Which one of us is the hater?

      • “You come in talking about scientific truths, but when I ask for you to think about who’s really threatening science, rather than defend your position, you change the subject.”

        You claimed that there was a “long list of suppressed truths” without specifying them, and said that complaining about (efforts to stop) teaching evolution are trivial. I do not believe the former and I disagree with the latter. I already told you that I like both GMOs and nucular power (and when challenged (by liberals), yes, I like Indian Point and want it to stay open even though I live in New York City).

        Bill Clinton does not “admit” that President Obama’s presidency has been unsuccessful. If it pleases you to believe that Bill Clinton would denigrate President Obama as a means of promoting his wife’s campaign, go ahead, but I will think you’re very silly.

        What I most love about President Obama is his equanimity, along with the sense that he is (lately not so) secretly laughing at Republicans. The ACA. The auto industry and Wall Street bailouts. Ignoring the red-line crossing in Syria. If I could vote for him a third time, I would.

        If you believe that the Texas Republican Party platform is an unremarkable statement of conservative beliefs, then you should understand how I feel about conservatives. Do I actively hate a third of Americans? Not really. They’re just sheeple, and once they wake up they’ll agree with me 🙂 Their leaders, now, them I revile.

        Anyway, this non-practicing atheist has to go off and get ready for the Sabbath, so bye for now!

        • “If I could vote for him a third time, I would.”

          Observe the authoritarian personality cultist in his natural behavior. He has no regard for the effects of people’s actions in the wider world, nor for the effects of the establishment of de facto Presidents-for-life. The important thing is that his domestic foes be annoyed. That is all that matters to him.
          He is, in other words, a Trump voter.

          “Do I actively hate a third of Americans? Not really. They’re just sheeple, and once they wake up they’ll agree with me.”

          Or they’ll come after you with torches and pitchforks. My money, based on current events, is on the latter.

        • Once again, Hyr, you have been woefully general in your complaints. We still have no idea what specific elements of the Texas GOP platform you find objectionable, therefore we can have no idea what your feelings are on this matter. Yes, you hate conservatives — we already acknowledged your bigotry — but until you provide something more specific we only have your prejudice by which to judge.

        • You claimed that there was a “long list of suppressed truths” without specifying them,
          You didn’t mention any truths being suppressed, whereas, even if you disagree, it should be obvious that a rational individual could believe active debate on climate change is being suppressed and that your own political allies are pushing against science on nuclear power, GMOs, and the biological differences between men and women (all of which I explicitly mentioned in my original post), as well as vaccines and pesticides. I can sit and cite the real world effects of that pushing from your side all day.

          You can go ahead and believe that “awful legacy of the last eight years” is a ringing endorsement, or that “Obama doesn’t know how to be president. He doesn’t know how the world works. He’s incompetent. He’s an amateur.” is a compliment, if you wish. Likewise, thinking that Obama sitting by and letting Assad slaughter his population (that pesky ‘crossing the red line’ thing) or throwing taxpayer money to unions and big banks even while robbing small investors (auto and Wall Street bailouts) is a good thing is your valid opinion, though it’s not one most people seem to share. As far as revealed preferences go, saying you are for nuclear energy while supporting a president that essentially stopped all development with the Yucca Mountain storage facility for purely political reasons shows us a lot.

          You consistently fail to understand your opponents. The strongest revealed preference you’ve shown is where you say you want other people to respect your opinions while thinking those that disagree with you are not fit to have their own, different opinions. That’s the true mark of a wannabe totalitarian. Our opinions aren’t valid, because Hy said so.

          Have a wonderful Sabbath and a happy Easter!

    • “like the just-passed bathroom law in North Carolina.”

      Because parents who object their daughters sharing bathrooms and locker rooms with functionally intact males who claim to be transgendered are the essence of evil.