No Excuses, No Regrets – a blast from the past from February 2015

No Excuses, No Regrets


*So, I just want to know which shrine I desecrated.  On Tuesday, with fifteen minutes to go on the clock and an owner argued down to the price we wanted, someone came in and made a full price offer, snatching a pretty much perfect house from under our nose.  (We could go full price, we could, but I refuse to get in a bidding war.) Yesterday the movers arrived at the same exact time as the biggest snowstorm SINCE the one raging when we came into town 23 years ago.

Meanwhile poor derpfish appears to be dying.  While I was busy packing, I didn’t notice the fungus had come back.  I’ve put him in the hospital tank, but I think he’s too far gone.  We’ll see.

It’s sunny today for the second day of moving, and I hope the streak stops, before I have to wake every morning with “What fresh hell is this?”
Keep the place clean and black hat free while I move and unpack.  we’re unpacking the essentials only because, being deluded, we still hope to find something permanent soon.*

I was talking to Charlie yesterday about the problem of “social justice writing.” By which we mean writing that is more concerned with conveying the “right message” delivered by the “approved group” writer than with telling an entertaining/uplifting or otherwise interesting story-that-earns-its-own-keep.

First of all, of course, there is the fact that a story that relies on “right think” to justify its right to exist might not bother with less glamorous bits of craft such as making sure your reasoning makes sense throughout, or that you have established the character’s traits to evoke an emotional response from the reader and catharsis at the end of the story.

In fact, in this “writing to effect social change” shares the exact same drawbacks as writing fan fiction. As a former fan fiction writer (Jane Austen fanfic. Yeah, I know. Exciting. Shud up.) I’m just glad I was a professional before I started playing in fanfic. It is all too easy to acquire bad habits from writing fanfic. For instance, if you’re writing Pride and Prejudice fanfic, all you have to do is name the character Lizzie, even if you set it in modern day, and the reader immediately imbues it with every characteristic of the Jane Austen character, without your having to do any heavy lifting. In the same way if you name a character Whickam, everyone knows he’s a cad or worse and never mind making his faults believable or foreshadowing them.

Writing the politically correct story is much the same thing: introduce a minority character, be it racial, sexual or religious, in one of the approved “categories” and the readership, which are “fans” of social justice will immediately imbue that “victim character” with all the characteristics of noble victims ever penned since Jean Jacques Rosseau rode the noble savage into the sunset.

Because of that, “message writing” will always be inferior to “entertainment writing” when viewed in the dispassionate cold light of day.

Change how fashionable the message is (and frankly the left seems to do that every few years, as a matter of course) and today’s “masterpiece” becomes a story only of interest to historians of passe modes of thinking, if not an outright heresy to the people trying to pretend that we’ve always been at war with Eurasia.

But there is more moral peril to “message writing” because of the very mode of thought it encourages amid its practitioners; a mode of thought best described as “seeing oppressors under every bed.”

I’ll illustrate by admitting that when I first came to the US, within the first three years, I fell in with a group of people who were generally minorities (racial, sexual, cultural.) Nothing strange about this. A lot of my friends (perhaps a majority) still fall in those categories. However, my group these days is mostly conservative or libertarian or yes, which makes them a completely different type of creature.

You see, the first few friends I made were people who obsessed over what today would be called “micro-aggressions.” Oh, macro too. And there was some reason behind their paranoia (and mine, at the time.) Where I was at the time, and the faux-pas I committed as I tried to adapt to living in the US did cause a lot of very strange reactions, and some of them outright hostile. Some of my friends at the time had similar causes of complaint.

I mean, just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean they aren’t out to get you.

For instance in my first (retail) job every guy (including the ex con) and every “white” (mostly blond) woman was taught how to open the safe and trusted with it, but myself and the black woman (who had an MBA and was only working retail due to a recent divorce, while looking for another job) were not. However, when money went missing, we were the only two people questioned. (Turned out the ex-con was taking money out of the safe whenever he felt like going out to dinner. I know you’re shocked.) This was definitely outrageous, but instead of taking from it that one should strive not to work for *ssholes, we took from it that everyone was bigoted against poor little us.

Anyway, at some point, it hit me that we were getting together to share grievances, and that most of our conversation, not to say most of our thoughts revolved around injustices done to us and how unfair the world was.

And then it occurred to me that more than a few of my friends, and to an extent I, myself, were using these ‘injustices’ inherent in the system (so to put it) to justify not doing anything, not trying anything and not making any efforts to improve our (relatively invidious position.)

Now, I want you to know that yes, there were injustices against us. It wasn’t all in our head. And yes, we were in a relatively difficult position.

But that wasn’t the point. Having realized the effect it was having on me; realizing that my resentment and my feeling of being victimized were holding me captive, I decided to set myself free.

I broke up with my comfortable/encouraging/justifying crowd overnight, and resolved that while I might be discriminated against, I didn’t have to let it define me. That is, while people might think I was less capable, I wouldn’t allow them to make me less capable.

For my own sake, not theirs, I would from then on ignore any discrimination against me (save for occasionally finding it very funny, like when the school was persuaded my younger son had a speech impediment because my husband and I spoke Russian at home. [Why Russian? And why poor Dan who was born and raised in New England and Ohio?]) and proceed to take no excuses for underperforming.

I might or might not be able to prove discrimination against me. I might or might not be in fact discriminated against in some particular. But the fact remained that I couldn’t control those who might or might not discriminate against me. I couldn’t even predict it, or the reason why.

Discrimination is not, as the left seems to believe, a rare thing or confined to minorities. Yes, I know, part of the reason they go crazy about white male “privilege” is that they assume there’s a hierarchy and that white males are the least discriminated against.

I suppose that is true if the white male is you know, one of the Norse gods with inherent superior looks and abilities. But even white males are never exactly what it says on the package. Any white male of less than say five feet six is going to be discriminated against. So is any over 300 lbs. So is any who is just Odd enough to have to back-engineer other people’s reactions to figure out how to react himself. So is any who is too smart or stupid for his own good.

In fact, once you figure out the various kinds of white male, there is no privilege left. And the same for every other “category” of human.

So, most of the time, the obvious form of discrimination against me comes in reaction to my accent. And it’s not even exactly unjustified. I find myself worrying, too, when talking to someone with an obvious accent. You’re not sure they can understand you, and you automatically dumb-down the talk.

But I’ve also been discriminated against because of culture. And I don’t mean Latin (though the boss in that first retail store being a dumb *ss did think I was Mexican. He also thought my name was Feliz (as in Feliz Navidad) – loooong story.) Many people (my inlaws included) just don’t “get” science fiction and fantasy. My mother in law thought and might still think that I invented “grown up stories with elves” and at one time told me I should write for children because ‘they’re the only ones with a mind as open as yours.’ She’s not alone, though most people in that position wouldn’t dare voice it to my face, so I don’t know most of them.

I was even discriminated against when I was young and slim and pretty for being young and slim and pretty and fairly well dressed. For instance, at a gathering of an unnamed high IQ society I was repeatedly asked whose date I was.

The truth is that people make judgments based not on social justice but on past experiences/what they’ve read and watched/the bottomless depths of their own weirdness. The good people revise them later, but almost every one of us has been discriminated against for something or other. And sometimes for nothing at all, but the idea in someone’s head when they first saw us.

Having realized this, I figured that if I became hung up in every time that someone didn’t treat me fairly I’d be paralyzed.

And so, in my head, I’ve decided I’ll ignore those who discriminate against me. (Save for occasionally pointing and making duck noises, because that’s only fair.)

If I let their oppression define me, I’ll be a captive of the impotence that their oppression engenders.

If I ignore it, pretend I’m the mistress of my own fate, and continue pushing to get better and to do what I want to do, then no one can stop me. Because it’s all dependent on me and how hard I’m willing to work.

And that is how I have avoided the moral hazard of victimhood. And why I feel sorry for all the writers entrapped into writing “socially relevant” fiction that enshrines and deifies victimhood.

The chains of defining yourself as a victim are a tourniquet wrapped around the soul.

The only way to stop it is to declare yourself free and ignore those you think are trying to limit you. The only way to break the chains is to believe you alone are responsible for your state of happiness and prosperity or lack thereof. Yes, other factors (including the animosity of strangers) might influence that state, but if you are willing to work hard enough you can overcome additional factors. And if you aren’t willing to work hard enough nothing, not even the most favorable of circumstances, can make you successful.

The chains of victimhood are insidious and will destroy your soul as well as your writing.

Fortunately the key to freedom is in your own hands.

Refuse excuses.

Set yourself free.


290 thoughts on “No Excuses, No Regrets – a blast from the past from February 2015

  1. Sympathies regarding house situation. Likely the alternate buyer had been lurking for some while, acting at the last moment in order to avoid the bidding war you disdain.

  2. On another site, there was this Black person who was “stuck in the 1970’s” and always things in terms of the “Evil Whites (who he considered Republicans) and the Victimized Blacks.

    While at first it was completely annoying, I came to understand how pitiful he was.

    He would never be happy. 😦

    1. I know, it’s a shame when people blame their unhappiness on others.

      I, on the other hand, know perfectly well that I am solely responsible for my own well-deserved misery. 🙂

  3. There’s a good commercial running right now that I don’t remember the details of, but it’s playing the tune of “If I only had a brain” but talks about people who are working multiple jobs, studying hard, etc and working to advance themselves.

    It’s both encouragement for people to improve themselves, and could be taken as an accusation of people discriminating against minorities, but I think you would have to be primed to be offended by it.

    1. University of Phoenix ad :
      At first glance (well, half-glance) I took it for a bog-standard ‘look-at-all-the-colorful-faces’ diversity ad. At second glance, I was unfair. UofP is targeting its core audience: working parents, blue color workers trying to break into white color jobs, young people trying to get ahead. You actually see (and hear in the lyrics) some rarely-seen ‘diversity’ – a poor white day laborer working alongside Hispanics, a black manager slamming the door on a subordinate, a white farmer, an Asian man caring for an elderly parent, a street tough turning his life around. Good ad.

  4. Bummer about DerpFish.

    For all the jokes about hippie-mystic-types not wanting to be around people and places with “bad auras,” there’s a lot to be said for identifying the people who will never allow themselves to be happy or to improve their situation (because it’s all someone else’s fault, always) and making a strategic advance to the rear.

  5. Regarding “Change how fashionable the message is (and frankly the left seems to do that every few years, as a matter of course)”, this morning I read an article at containing :

    “The National Union of Students’ LGBT Campaign—a coalition of British student-activists—passed a motion to end committee representation for gay men, because they aren’t as oppressed as other LGBT individuals: like students of color and transgender students.”

    Almost spewed coffee out my nose laughing. In the future, I predict that all SJ organizations will have to fly various colored flags indicating which minorities are allowed to speak that day.

    1. That’s actually really depressing, when you think about it. The factionalized breakup of a once-united group is always sad.

      1. Depressing? Hilarious! Eventually, each of these SJW groups will consist of only one member, loudly proclaiming his victimization by all the other non-him groups and individuals in the world.

        1. Oh, the absurdity is acknowledged. I’m just horridly, wussishly sentimental about such things. (I was very much of Lucy’s state of mind in feeling sorry for the Dwarfs in The Last Battle, so determined not to be “taken in” that they could not see they were in Heaven, if only they trusted it.)

        2. Transgender discrimination used to be normal men going EEEWWWW!!!! Now it’s Feminists screeching “You are appropriating our victim status! You don’t understand what it’s like to be a woman!”

          Popcorn futures must be soaring.

          1. Yep…and, heresy of heresies, I think those same feminists are to blame to a large degree for the explosion of transwomen under 20 or so.

              1. I say 20 or so as one class of Blanchard’s topology, effeminate homosexual men from oppressive environments, tended to transition young.

                No, in the recent outbreak of 20 and younger MtF transitions I see an effect on a subset of boys of the “girl power and to hell with boys” attitude of our culture bearing fruit. Boys who might be more feminine and with feminine interests are now bombarded with essentially female superiority culture. That they would more and more identify as girls is a reasonable expectation.

                It is certainly possible that a large number of these boys would have wound up in Blanchard’s topology’s homosexual men 40 years ago although I’d argue the numbers indicate it is a superset of that group. Certainly today they’d find a more supportive environment for their sexual preferences and thus we’d expect the number transitioning declining.

                Of course, Blanchard remains very controversial. However, given some of his critics can replicate his findings the issue seems to be terminology and interpretation more than data.

                1. It used to be the effeminate boys were encouraged to surrender to the reality of biology and come to terms with their bodies. Now they are encouraged to follow their feelings and warp reality to their desires.

                  This change in attitude is seen everywhere. We don’t want to fight for our culture. America is too Alpha. Let’s just coexist with Islam it’s the religion of peace. Yeesh! Wishing away reality doesn’t actually work.

                  1. Pretty much. That’s the problem instead of just saying, “Maybe we should give them, and masculine women, more space” we had to go whole hog and pretend they are women.

                    Live and let live would accomplish the supposed goals of progressives so much better than progressivism in so many cases. Of course, that’s one reason I call them the supposed goals.

                    1. Pretty much. That’s the problem instead of just saying, “Maybe we should give them, and masculine women, more space” we had to go whole hog and pretend they are women.

                      I can think of three guys from high school who were “more feminine”– basically, not jocks; the guy version of what I was as a not-hyper-sexual female who didn’t want to bother with long hair– who were basically “helped” to “discover” their homosexuality.

                      The only one that didn’t go along with it is a guy whose family background made him very able to resist following along with what those who supposedly are informing him all about himself. He got married last year, and seems to be crazy-happy.
                      The other two are single and miserable; a horrible thing for two of the most genuinely nice guys from that hell hole that I can think of.

                2. I say 30 because of the sheer number of under 30 people i see at events who are pretty obviously transitioning. (Los Angeles Gothic/industrial/EBM community)

                    1. I just wonder because we seem to be collapsing both the language and space. For example, it seems more and more crossdressing is just seen as the first step to transitioning and any MtF crossdresser really wants to be a woman instead of just maybe explore expressing themselves femininely. In a way it seems more oppressive than the world I grew up in where sissy boys got abused but it seemed if you made it to an adult you could do what you wanted in private (although it could be hell if it got out).

                      It seems instead of learning what Danielle Berry was trying to say we learned the opposite.

                    2. The guy at Office Depot who is about 6’4, looks like a Central Casting for a young version of Ichabod Crane from the animated Disney short, but is wearing BRIGHT red lipstick, long hair straightened in 90’s valley-girl style and huge earrings, with the name-tag of something like “Carol*”…. I’d class him as some form of “trans,” as I think the state law would.

                      I though cross-dressing was more recreational than lifestyle, and have no idea what the third class you allude to is– is that the folks where they really are waht they’re dressing as, but are just very masculine for a female or feminine for a male?

                      *No, not actually what his tag says. Not even close. Poor guy. Funny, for someone who supposedly “hates” his entire subgroup, it sure feels more like I wish I could help the poor SOB.

        3. Keith Laumer wrote that into “Retief’s War”, which took place on a planet where every individual was a minority of one…

      2. United?

        Trust me, LG communities, especially L, have a huge distrust of bisexuals of the same sex so there was never a LGB community. I’m not even sure what T is doing in there given some parts of feminism, especially those parts that seem to map almost 1 to 1 with the hard core dyke community, do not like transwomen. They think transwomen are stealing their oppression and getting benefits for being women while having male privilege. In fact, there is no more popcorn worthy intramural fight in the SJW world than feminists against transwomen. It is downright funny.

        1. When you are trying to pose as a political movement you will draft any conceivably related interest group in order to swell your numbers … and then multiply the result by a factor of five or more. As long as you are only protesting and demanding stuff it frankly doesn’t matter how well those others swelling your ranks get along.

          It is only once you actually achieve some power that the falling out over the spoils commences to happening.

        2. Yep, they seem to hate us, sometimes, we’re too close to straight and therefore might secretly be privileged. Like the “capitalist-roaders” in Maoist China. Along with anyone who doesn’t think their own orientation automatically means they need to support an artificial “community” around that orientation, or share every single position they hold and policy they propose. And in Denver last year there was a “transman” complaining she wasn’t welcome at the bathhouses. Didn’t make the news as far as I saw; probably no movement behind it, yet.

          1. I never understood even lumping gay men and lesbians together. From what I’ve observed the cultures are very different. They only thing they some to have in common is a desire to form romantic attachments (including but not limited to sex) with individuals with the same set of gentiles.

            1. Well… In the bad old days they found each other useful by having sham relationships to fool society with. They could go out on double dates.

            2. TBH a lot of it seems to be the ‘I identify primarily based on who I want to have sex with’. So since both want the same rights/privileges/opportunities/etc they can try and band together. But now that the stuff that they want that is the same is done they can start their infighting over who get the spoils.

        3. stealing their oppression

          Helluva thing to wish to steal. Really, if $GROUP is gonna ‘steal’ something, why not steal privilege and…. or is that because there really isn’t any such thing? Oops.

          1. Because they can’t admit that they are gaining privilege from the response to the ‘oppression’. That would break their entire raison d’etre

        1. *low five*

          I was just the first one to snag it. Somebody else would have come up with that in short order, for sure… *grin*

        1. Quite literally ever since I first heard the acronym explained. I misread it the first time I saw it as BLTG, and was going, “what’s the ‘G’? Grenadine? Grey Poupon?”

      1. No, because the L really distrust the female Bs and the very feminist subsection of the L (with their handful of straight feminists of the same stripe) hate the female Ts even more.

        1. Yeah, once the There’s no G to hold it together, there’s no pretense of being in a chord. Or accord.

          On the other hand, that’s great! If there’s no longer sufficient social pressure to weld these disparate groups together, then we have overcome! And nobody cares! Yay!

      2. That’s one way to boost membership, I’d guess that at least 50% of (non-Jewish, non-Muslim) men would join any organization that promises bacon.

          1. My first non-kosher food was bacon. I have a t shirt that says ‘enjoy crispy bacon’. Maybe I’ll bring it to LibertyCon.

            1. I have a friend who was a devout vegetarian. Then she moved back in with her mom, the small-scale farmer. I got a desperate e-mail from her one morning: “My mother is cooking home-raised bacon downstairs from me and I CAN’T TAKE IT!” Followed later that day by a mournful “you tell yourself the soy stuff is just as good, and you know you’re lying…”

              1. That’s it, then. Bacon is the devil. It seduces people into violating their religion, and convinces them that it is an indispensable part of their life.

                (Crunch, crunch) EVIL BACON!!!

              2. I belong to the firm but not crisp school of bacon. Crunchy bacon (unless crumbled into something else) is heresy.

                1. Crunchy bacon crumbles are an essential part of many dishes, and for making dishes quickly that still contain the Meat of Goodness. So, too, is bacon fat. But the firm but still chewy school of bacon has my loyalties for eating before tackling any other part of this complete balanced breakfast (bacon, eggs, coffee).

                  It’s hard to feel deprived on the LCHF diet when I can have plenty of bacon, and cook with butter! (Except for sourdough. I miss sourdough.)

                  1. You may already know about these, but two things saved my butt when I was low-carbing , one of which was gingerbread with almond meal and grated zucchini (don’t laugh, it works! Tastes more like carrot cake, though…) and the other of which I can’t remember the name of but was a very, very good baked-potato substitute. Boil and mash a head of cauliflower, mix it with a pack of cream cheese, a cup or more of shredded cheddar, and bacon to taste (ALL OF IT!), then bake at 350 for 30 minutes. It really scratched that must-have-french-fries itch for me.

                    1. @Wayne Blackburn Not off the top of my head, I’m afraid. I got it from Dana Carpender’s 500 low-carb recipe book, though. (A quick google reveals nothing similar on the net, but I will dig up my old cookbook and see if I can find it.) It was basically almond flour, eggs and shredded zucchini to give it some structure, with Splenda-fied cream cheese frosting on the top.

    2. Revolutions always eat their own. Always. Hope the gay men enjoy it now that it’s their turn on the menu.

    3. How did “students of color” make it into LGBT? And, by the way, did the original actually contain color or colour. If the first mock them unmercifully for being Americanized.

    4. Odds that it is entirely due to Milo? 😀 Clearly nobody is oppressing him, at least not very well…

  6. Among the best pieces of advice I’ve ever received came from a young black man, a college roommate of mine who was discriminated against by just about everyone:
    — Whites, because he was large, black, and threatening-looking (though in fact a very gentle soul);
    — Blacks, because he spoke standard English and roomed with me, a white man, by choice (he tended to prefer the company of whites);
    — Asian men, because he preferred Asian women and Asian women were attracted to him;
    — The black women he declined to date.

    Despite it all, his was a sunny, even-tempered personality. His secret? It was simple:

    “Don’t go where you’re not wanted.”

    Of course, he managed to find circles in which he was wanted…and those persons valued him, his intellect, and his aptitudes considerably. The others? Their loss.

    Discrimination needn’t be a barrier to anything, if you can find folks who’ll take you as you are. It doesn’t matter whether the setting is social, commercial, occupational, religious, or otherwise. You don’t need the approval and acceptance of the whole world, and you’re better off not fretting over not having it.

    1. Ah, but if you only ever go where you are wanted you never get the thrill of forcing those who don’t want you to (pretend) to accept you.

      The soul of the tyrant can live in bodies of all sizes and colors.

      1. When you do that you are “forcing them to confront their privilege/prejudices/whatever” and doing it for their own good. This way you never have to examine your own life and accept the consequences of your choices.

    2. The tough issue wrt this is that the SJW and allies keep shrinking the sphere in which you can actually just live and let live. It is now a requirement that you either sing their praises or die.

  7. Taking responsibility for and ownership of ones own life and goals is one of the final tasks of growing up. When my brother-in-law asked how he could be successful because he was raised by unreconstructed Nazis*, I realized he was still a child. Don’t let anyone set your limits.

    *They actually were by the way. I remember being lectured on the world wide Jewish conspiracy. And what do you say when your mother-in-law says “It’s too bad Hitler couldn’t finish his good work.”

    1. “how he could be successful because he was raised by unreconstructed Nazis”

      With therapy? Moving a couple thousand miles away? I honestly can’t imagine growing up in an environment like that. But yeah, moving far away does wonders for a person’s ability to separate themselves from the constructed world of their upbringing and allows them to pour the foundation for the life he/she wants to begin building.

    2. Given that I have a mouth that frequently beats my filter to the draw, I’d probably have responded, “His good work? Sure he finished it. He killed himself, didn’t he?”

      1. Sorry to say, but stunned silence was my answer. And feelings of relief that they lived 2,000 miles away.

        1. Yes, but like everything else, he did it in the most wicked and drawn out way, that mitigated any good that could have come out of it. Even if the doctor said to, he shouldn’t have been on meth and coke.

          Also, he should have surrendered himself to the allies, to take responsibility for his actions.

          Also, if you can stop your own evil by killing yourself, you can stop your own evil directly. Self-murder is murder.

          1. Or sepikachu, in which one kills him/her/xerself by touching an electric mouse.

                1. We get good Friday off tomorrow. Officially NOT a religious holiday. After all we had a Green Shirt Day potluck lunch on St. Patty’s. Really! Green Shirt Day? Argh!

    3. > And what do you say when your mother-in-law says “It’s too bad Hitler couldn’t finish his good work.”

      Depends on how your spouse feels about it. I’d call her an idiot to her face.

      1. No. As good Aryan Latvians, they new why America let them in. But Mexicans and third world barbarian refugees? Are Americans stupid? They were totally for Perot, the 90s Trump..

  8. :I should write for children because ‘they’re the only ones with a mind as open as yours.’

    In this she was largely correct, as the last decade’s efforts by certain puppy kicking type people have shown that the minds of SF’s editors, agents, and SMOF are demonstrably not open, with one Baen exception.

  9. This reminds me of the days when I was a man-hating feminist. I called those days “high school”. Looking back, I had reasons to be upset but those reasons were not the fault of men at large and once I got out into the real world and began interacting with males again (I had gone to an all girl high school), I rediscovered that I preferred being around males to most females.

    It’s very liberating to be able to release one’s hatred of an entire segment of society, to see the world with its flaws and its beauty. Yes, I have been subjected to blatant sexism in my adult life but I’ve also seen a female boss sexually harass her male employees. It’s all part of dealing with people.

    1. When the Daughtorial Unit was young and just learning to generalize we found it necessary to explain to her that disliking people wholesale was a bad practice: it causes you to dislike people you might otherwise quite enjoy and besides, people will retail you plenty of reasons to dislike them.

  10. My mother in law thought and might still think that I invented “grown up stories with elves”

    Well… don’t you?

      1. So (s)he’s now a dead, white, Mormon, Catholic man? Must be fascinating at parties.

              1. Was Portugal conquered by the Moors? Was it part of Spain then? My knowledge of European historical geography is quite limited.

                1. Portugal didn’t exist as a country prior to the Moorish invasion. It was part of the Visigoth kingdom that controlled most of Iberia until the Moorish invasion in 711. Spain didn’t exist at the time either. Almost all of Iberia came quickly under Moorish control, including all of what now is Portugal. Moorish control of the North was very short lived and a new christian kingdom emerged there, the Kingdom of Asturias. That kingdom ended up controlling most of what is now Northern Portugal. A couple of centuries later, in the early 1100’s, that area was now the County of Portucale and was part of the Kingdom of Leon and Castille when it became independent, becoming the Kingdom of Portugal.

                  Portugal was briefly part of Spain between 1580 and 1640.

                  Rui Jorge

                  1. See Saramagos “History of the Siege of Lisbon”, which is a novel about proofreading focused on Portugal’s foundational myth.

                2. Sort of, Emily. There were all sorts of little kingdoms making up Spain, and Portugal was one of them. After the moors, the little kingdoms were freed by (mostly) French crusaders. Those became kings of the little kingdoms. The one who freed Portugal claimed only the northern part (where I come from) as a county, Portus Calem (Warm harbor, which was also the name of the city of Porto.) He married the king of Castille’s illegitimate daughter, Teresa. Then he got offed, early. His son was raised by separatists and declared himself first king of Portugal as Alfonso Henriques.
                  Later on in the time of discoveries, an infelicitous marriage (which also brought the Spanish inquisition to Portugal, as a condition, because the Spaniards were nuts. And infelicitous also because in Portugal ghettos were outlawed (except for Moors — eh) and there were Jewish families all through the fabric of society, including landed and titled) made the country part of Spain for 60 years. When you read of Cortez’s expedition to Mexico, he had a lot of people from Portugal in his forces — particularly from the North, that seed bed of dissent. A lot of boys from the North went on the discoveries too. It kept them quiet — when he conquered Mexico. It is rumored, and I have reason to believe it’s true that in the Vatican basement there is a plane built in Portugal in the eighteenth century according to plans someone copied/found in Mexico. (It was confiscated as diabolical. Yes, there’s a story in there and it will eventually get written.)
                  Anyway, after sixty years, the Portuguese rebelled, a reason everyone knows the word “defenestration” in Portugal from fourth grade on. As in “what happened to the Spanish regent in Portugal” And a whole class of little monkeys yells with gusto “He was defenestrated.” And there, you have more Portuguese history than you could possibly want. Though WEIRDLY yesterday someone informed me that Portuguese was like Spanish, and the two countries were only different because of a divorce. (What?) So I felt the need to set the encapsulated record straight and you’re the lucky recipient. 😀

              2. Wait, that form of rack is what the inquisitors were going to secure me to if I didn’t cooperate?

                Well, that certainly sheds a much different light on the question.

      1. I’m sorry, but I’m pretty sure working at a diner is not all rainbows and moonbeams, even if one turns into a dragon accidentally on purpose, and we love reading about that world. So, if Sarah writes elves working lousy jobs, I expect we’ll love that too. (Note, I am an introvert. I worked retail for three months and it was my definition of hell. I expect wait-staff would be worse.)

        1. Ah, but the ‘dragon’ owns the joint, so…

          Now why anyone might want to read of some plodding delivery beast.. well, I suppose i best not speculate.

          1. I think several here could contrive a tale of a pizza delivery person (or should that be a “person of pizza delivery”?) who is set up to take the fall for a crime (thus the delivery element – it gets our popd to the crime scene at the right time) and has to solve it in order to avoid taking that fall.

            One could, of course, make it a delivery agent for a Chinese restaurant in the big city, but that would reek of cultural appropriation. Maybe if you write it as a Korean-Cuban Deli delivery person?

            1. Since it is The Ox who suggests this, may I suggest we make our intrepid protagonist a milk delivery person?

              1. Look for “Reid Fleming, World’s Toughest Milkman” (another fine product of Canada).

            1. Haven’t heard of that but I have thought of how to make a “delivery person” into an “action hero”.

              Basically, the delivery person specializes in delivering messages/packages that must go through with the opponents being people who either want the contents of the messages/packages or want to prevent the delivery of said messages/packages.

              Of course, a certain ox might be very very hard to stop once he gets moving. 😉

                    1. A chiropractor tried to “untwist” me but got very twisted himself. 👿

                1. A Dragon could “easily” (for certain definitions of easy) stop a Minotaur but I suspect the Minotaur wouldn’t be easy to stop by less powerful beings. 😈

              1. … a certain ox might be very very hard to stop once he gets moving.

                One day old Samson was walking alone
                He looked down on the ground and he saw an old jaw-bone.
                He lifted up that jaw-bone and he swung it over his head,
                And when it got to moving ten thousand was dead.

                If I Had My Way,
                If I had my way in this wicked world,
                If I Had My Way I would tear this building down.

              2. Make him a military courier or diamond transporter. Fading into the wallpaper and looking harmless is a definite plus.
                Speaking of fanfic (that illegal guilty pleasure) Has any one seen or written any Dorsai fanfic? I know a fandom of 1. Oh well.

                1. He’s called “the Deliverator” during the first part, when he’s trying to deliver the pizza with time on it. La Costa Nostra Pizza takes timely delivery VERY seriously, capishe?

            2. Dude! I had completely forgotten that was how Hiro Protagonist was first introduced in Snow Crash!

              …I wonder if that book would hold up to re-reading; cyberpunk tends to age badly.

        2. You would probably make a great wait-staff. Remember that they are supposed to be invisible (at least at the highest levels). The closest that I ever came to strangling someone (as an adult) was with an extrovert waiter that reminded me of the waiter in “Office Space”.

          1. Depends. An introvert (and I are one, seriously so) can deal with people- but has to use social prosthetics. By this I mean several things at once.

            You can go with scripted responses and pretend the “people” aren’t real. You don’t interact with them, you play a part, and your lines are “can I take your order? Okay, and what to drink with that? Here’s your check.” With very minor variations.

            An introvert can be an introvert on the inside and seem gregarious and friendly on the outside… for a while. It’s draining. Literally exhausting. Stress makes you tired. Dealing with people, especially crowds, is like doing your job with weights wearing you down the whole time. You need alone time, quiet, and sleep (or at least I do) in that order.

            Some introverts can build crazy high walls between themselves and the rest of the world. This can make life difficult, because even introverts need some social interaction to remain functionally sane and mentally healthy. Other people think the part you play is the person, and who can blame them? Comedians (and sometimes actors) tend to have this issue, too, whether they are naturally introverts or not. And, I’d argue that introverts are often drawn to comedy because it gives them a safe way to have limited interaction. But comedy (and acting) aren’t always real interaction, and this can cause different problems.

            Best of all worlds for the introvert, I think, is to have friends who don’t mind the quiet ones staying mostly on the fringe but interacting when and how they can. The internet has been simply amazing for this one introverted hick. *grin*

            1. Of course, some introverts love to talk but talk about “stuff” so they don’t talk about “themselves”.

              One of their “barriers” is to talk about “other stuff” to avoid talking about themselves.

              One guess allowed on “how do I know this”. 😉

            2. Many actors are actually introverts. They just play at being extroverts when they have a script and a character to hide behind.

              1. I was actually rather surprised to discover (as of yesterday, in fact) that the actor who plays Captain America has an anxiety disorder (and is also likely very much an introvert). His goofy demeanor in interviews and whatnot is his coping mechanism. Who knew?

                But what you said…yeah, that makes sense. One way to deal with it is to pretend to be someone else.

                1. Wow! I did not know that! Amazing that he overcame that large of an obstacle. Show biz parties must be hell for him.

                  1. I did some websurfing on Chris Evans (Captain America) today. He’s announced that he wants to become a director.

                    1. Probably it would be less stressful for him in terms of not having to be *quite* so much in the public glare.

              2. That is very much me. I find protracted socializing draining — although I do enjoy it; an introvert doesn’t have to hate being friendly and social, it’s just not how he recharges — but I love acting, and haven’t had a chance to do any of it in years. (Strangely, being a dad and primary family breadwinner tends to eat up your free time. Who knew?)

              3. I recently read of William Shatner’s attendance at his first Trek Con in the early 70s. He nearly panicked and fled when he realized he had no script to work from and would have to speak extemporaneously.

                “I’m an actor — I read lines other people have written for me!”

              4. Poor Dick van Dyke is dang near misanthropic because he’s (per the sort-of relative who was his neighbor) a “private person” and he’s been dealing with half a century of people walking up and acting like they’re his most intimate of friend.

              5. This is one of the things that drives me up the wall when we start having actor pontifications. You’re paid to play make believe. Unless you have a background in your topic or can point me to where you learned it, all you are doing is bsing

                1. And the same people who “love Actors speaking the proper Leftish Words” dismissed Raegan as “just a B Actor”. 👿

            3. I noticed recently at least part of the reason that interacting with people who are not known, for me, is that I unconsciously tense up while talking with them. I don’t know if this is true for anyone else, but thought I would toss it out there to see what anyone else thought.

              1. I don’t know about tensing up, but it is stressful. I’ll think about that next time I have to.

              2. Yes. When meeting new people, part of it for me is the “preparing for a confrontation” reflex. Usually after, my jaw aches and I have to stretch the kinks out.

              3. My coping mechanism at work is to go full Honey Badger. That’s why I’m not allowed to say “I get paid the same” on board the USS Ronald Reagan.

              4. It took a while for my wife (then girlfriend) to realize that I can strike up a conversation with darn near anybody within reach. The person next to me in the checkout line. The waitress, or waiter. Other people in the doctors waiting room. And she soon realized that when I complimented another female on her jewelry or dress or whatever, it wasn’t flirting, it was the opening of starting a conversation. I enjoy talking with people. About almost anything. I’ll forget their names 30 seconds after learning them, but I’ll remember the details of the conversation for next time we meet.

                I had my then girlfriend, now wife’s name written down in my wallet and would refer to it for almost two months after we started dating before I started remembering it without a cue.

                I have a whopping 10 scouts in my troop. I can tell you all sorts of things about what they’re doing, what events they’ve been to, the merit badges they have, and their names- but I can’t connect the names to the people reliably. I’ve only been working with them for years.

                1. I can remember names! …of pets. People are harder, okay? But I know Scout and Jet and Mochi and Praline and Maya and Soot…. And I still don’t remember my new neighbor’s names.

                  That was one of those awesome advantages of the military; the last name and rank were right there, easily displayed for every interaction!

            4. Yeah. Discovering I was an introvert helped explain why school was h3ll a lot of the time. It all made sense!

              1. Same. I’d have done loads better home schooled. With the resources out there now… Ah, well. If wishes were fishes and all that. *grin*

              1. Good grief, I’d probably have heart attack. Glad you found a workaround quick, though- that’s some pretty quick thinking on your feet!

            5. I have two general schemes for dealing with being an introvert without becoming a complete hermit.

              For one, I find other introverts to hang out with. We go out, sit in the corner and watch people. Occasionally making snarky comments to eachother about the ridiculous extroverts. This works ok when it works, but it’s hard to maintain such friendships when neither of us are acclimated to reaching out (I DO NOT call people on the phone. It’s one of my quirks. Totally freaks me out. Hell, half the time, I don’t ANSWER the phone)

              The other scheme is finding myself an extrovert and training them! Right now I have a pretty good one. She’s easy to deal with, because I’m used to her, and I’ve managed to train out most of the excess you usually get from an extrovert. We go out once maybe twice a week. I get to sit back and people watch anonymously because if anyone comes up and wants actual social interaction, she handles it and talks to them (I didn’t even have to train her to do that, she’s an extrovert, it just happens!). The only problem is when she gets drunk she starts getting ideas in her head about us starting a relationship. When sober, she understands that isn’t going to happen. Great friend, absolutely not what I would even consider in a mate. She tends to forget that when she’s drunk. sigh… there is always a downside to social interaction LOL!

        3. I’m poking at an idea where the main character is a quiet, introverted person, and employed. At something.

          It’s going to be her job in slightly different circumstances at the end of the work, too, so I want it to be something she can stand.

          The fun part is nailing down what. . . .

          Oh, well, the rest of the story isn’t nailed down either. It may need to be plot significant at some point.

          1. Inside marketing – writing web site copy and press releases, putting together training content, sales material and so on – is actually relatively solitary. The downside is once or twice a year they make you go to conventions or trade shows, where you have to act happy that you are facing all these strangers and answer their questions while avoiding turning and running away.

  11. So, most of the time, the obvious form of discrimination against me comes in reaction to my accent. And it’s not even exactly unjustified. I find myself worrying, too, when talking to someone with an obvious accent. You’re not sure they can understand you, and you automatically dumb-down the talk.

    Sarah, I forget if I have asked you this before: Have you ever had anyone who, even though they have to ask you to repeat things so they can understand what you said, then get angry with you if you have to as THEM to repeat something? My friend from Peru told me this happens to her sometimes.

    1. People do that to me all the time. I’m deaf enough I have to pay close attention to what people say; the problem is, most Americans don’t speak English. They leave words out, mumble, use incorrect consonants, or add extra vowels.(*) When I ask them to repeat themselves the usual response is anger.

      “Sorry, dude. It’s not my fault you can’t overcome your speech impediment.”

      (*) assuming they’re not just dumping some weird stream-of-consciousness with no recognizeable subject or sentence structure… something in their head is broken.

      1. This happens all the time with Indians at job sites. They speak in perfectly grammatical English but the stress is put on different syllables and they often use different vowel sounds. Of course the same thing happens to me with a few Scotsmen. 😉

          1. India Indians. And as soon as your ear starts getting the accent along comes a different Indian of different ethnicity and native language whose accent is odd in other ways and your ears are straining again.

            At a large job site it is easy to distinguish various Indians from each other. They are as different from each other as various Euros. They may all look the same to a Malay but we wouldn’t lump Portuguese, Italians, English and Swedes as those Euros over there.

        1. While it is grammatical (usually), I do a lot of editing for ESL writers and was very amused recently to realize that I could distinguish Indian from Chinese from Korean from American Idiot Who Thinks They Can Write by phrasing. 🙂

          1. There is also the difference between those who were taught American versus those taught British.

            1. The Canucks must have a hard time of it being bi-dialectical. British as well as American English. I’m inferring this from the fact that I got British books as well as American books in bookstores there.

              1. A few decades ago I had a friend and coworker who was an ex-pat Brit. His children spoke Queen’s English to the family and Texas English to all their school friends. Their explanation? The school friends would not be apply to understand them if they spoke QE.

                1. I still remember the small cousin who spoke normally in a New York accent, like her parents, but with a southern drawl when she read aloud, as she was going to school in South Carolina.

      2. Once upon a time I tutored a fellow in some mathematics course, except he didn’t need help with math at all. He needed a translator. He knew formal, and only formal, English. And his instructor was fond of colloquialisms. I did not see him very long after that was realized.

    2. Not angry, but impatient and frustrated. Then again, I’m usually dealing with other pilots, so a pleasant demeanour, an apology, and quickly resorting to the ICAO phonetic alphabet while making sure I enunciate every syllable generally smooths any ruffled feathers before it turns to anger.

      The “we’re all in this together, and I’m trying to help” attitude goes a long way to clear communication, especially because everybody’s accents get stronger when they’re stressed or upset.

      1. I usually get frustrated with myself if someone has to ask me to repeat myself, unless it’s obvious that their attention is wandering. I tend to speak very clearly (it’s kind of an OCD thing for me), unless 1) I hit one of the few things it’s hard for me to enunciate, such as an “n” as the last letter of a word, because it often sounds like a “d”, or perhaps too many “L”s too close together, because it is really awkward in my throat. Or 2) My mind just squirreled, and I’m trying to finish what I was talking about before following the squirrel.

        But the way my friend explained it, she sometimes gets treated as if she’s stupid (which is likely a dangerous mistake).

        1. I have to ask people to repeat themselves a lot, because there are some sounds I have trouble hearing and accents really toss me for a loop.

          I found something that helps– I don’t technically have hearing loss, according to the Navy I just can’t hear some things (they reset the baseline!), but I gesture to my ears to indicate that I am the problem, not them.

  12. “If you’re writing Pride and Prejudice fanfic, all you have to do is name the character Lizzie, even if you set it in modern day, and the reader immediately imbues it with every characteristic of the Jane Austen character, without your having to do any heavy lifting. In the same way if you name a character Whickam, everyone knows he’s a cad or worse and never mind making his faults believable or foreshadowing them.”

    So it WAS you. Forgive me for a bit of a digression here, but I’ve been trying to figure out for a while who made that particular comment about fanfic, because it perfectly sums up one of the big reasons I hated the Star Trek reboots.

    In the Abrams Star Trek-verse, the main character is named James T. Kirk, and the movie seems to believe that that is all that is necessary for us to accept him as the greatest Starfleet Captain ever. Never mind that we’ve been told that this universe is different, never mind that we’ve never seen this Kirk act like anything but an a*******, he’s named James T. Kirk, so of course he’s brilliant and a great leader and so wonderful that he doesn’t need to prove himself as an Ensign or a Lieutenant or a Commander. I never saw the second one, but I heard from people who did that it had a similar problem with the Kirk/Spock “friendship”; the movie never shows them acting like close friends, but because they’re named “Kirk” and “Spock,” we’re expected to accept that of course they have the best friendship in the universe.

    Sorry about that, but I’ve been trying to find that comment for a while. Please return to the regularly scheduled ranting.

    1. You know…I think you put your finger one what’s bothered me about the new Star Trek films. I mean, I thoroughly enjoyed the first one…but the second one, not so much. And you’re right: because we’re supposed to just accept that Kirk and Spock are these great friends…when they’ve spent all this movie (and the previous one) at each other’s throats, and still haven’t known one another all THAT long…

      1. But they have been informed by old time line Spock that they will become BFFs. Shouldn’t that be enough? Yeesh!

        1. Well, when those films have Pavel Chekov as the same general age as Kirk, I can’t take those films seriously.

          In TOS, Chekov was a “wet-behind-the-ears” ensign to Kirk’s adult. [Frown]

          1. It’s like you’re suggesting that people serving together in the military with ranks ranging from O1 to O6 wouldn’t have been classmates in the Academy together.

            Well, and one former instructor as an O5.

            1. From my brief research, Scotty, McCoy and Kirk (of TOS) could have been in the same class of the Academy.

              Haven’t researched Sulu or Uhura, so I don’t know if they could have been in the same class as the others above or not.

              However, Chekov was introduced in TOS as an Ensign so could not have been in the same class as Kirk.

              Unless of course, Chekov was the oldest Ensign in Star Fleet. 😉

                  1. How is it that Wesley grew up to be a SJW buddy of Scalzi?

                    A promising ensign down the drain.

                    1. Promising? He was a ‘rooting for injuries’ character. There is a reason his most famous interaction is “Shut up, Wesley!”

                    2. No comments about the actor who played Wesley.

                      However, most of the problems about Wesley the character relate to the mess that Roddenberry and others made of ST-NG.

                      IMO Wesley was the least of the problems with ST-NG.

                    3. As near as I can tell, Wesley is more emblematic of the problems with ST:TNG than anything else.
                      Sort of like Jake Lloyd in SW:TPM–he’s not the real problem, but he embodies most of the issues with the work.

              1. All of this is premised on the idea that ST had some sort of coherence, some sort of writing standard beyond “get’r done — by Thursday.”

                This episode was badly written!

      2. I think some of the flaws is that they used the stock, standard, (insert name here) saving the cat Hollywood screenplay for both movies.
        Thus, the overly long origin story and the OOC Kirk/Spock tension.
        Personally, it would have been better to set up the first movie with Kirk as the brand spanking new captain needing to prove himself to the Enterprise crew, and winning their respect.
        The second movie should have been something else entirely. The Saving the Cat was super, super obvious, and let’s not get into Admiral Obvious Badguy.

        1. My biggest problem with JJ Abrams is his total disregard for reality. Space is vast. The amount of time spent at warp speed is only related to plot. Physical limitations? His attitude seems to be this is science fiction I don’t have any rules to follow. Subspace communications require major facilities such as bases or large ships. We see interstellar cell phones. Breaking down in interstellar space is like breaking down on the freeway. People passing by will stop and collect you. Multiple Mary Sue characters. Red Matter? Come on! I have to lock my suspension of disbelief in chains and blindfold it.

          He makes visually stunning, logically inconsistent, schlocky, screwball fantasies.

            1. Because of course hiding the damn thing in the ocean is soooo much easier than just orbiting at geosynchronous distances where nobody could possibly catch sight of it and using the damn transporters to move to the next plot point.

              And don’t even get me started on engineering considerations for making a spaceship survive pressure at even a that nominal depth. Actually, the local bubblehads can opine better than I, but Definitely Non Trivial. To say nothing of making the ships vacuum-optimized cooling systems deal with frigging seawater.

              That movie just so bitterly disappointed me on so many levels.

              1. That’s what I mean. He thinks wouldn’t this be a cool scene and just does it. It doesn’t need to make sense. It’s sci fi!!!

          1. His attitude seems to be this is science fiction I don’t have any rules to follow.

            Rules? Where we’re going we don’t need rules.

          2. We see interstellar cell phones.

            I hope they’ve got a good plan. I wouldn’t want to see the bill for the roaming charges.

        2. The first movie was…at least not bad. It could have been much better but not cringe inducing.

          The second…you could tell that they were trying to cram in references and just rewriting the original movie. Same thing with the Star Wars reboot. A little too close to the original for my tastes.

      1. In all of TOS we never saw Kirk do any noticeable leadership.</i?

        I once mentioned to a coworker that I has a hard time accepting Kirk as an O6 (Naval Captain, Army/Marine/Air Force Colonel). He replied that when in the Navy he had served under a (real, Navy) captain who acted exactly like Kirk. YMMV

        1. In one of the Stargate:SG-1 episodes the Air Force Chief of Staff at the time had a guest spot in it. Supposedly, Richard Dean Anderson asked him if there were officers like his character in the real Air Force. The reply was something like : “Yes, and worse.” 😀

          1. Air Force actually was pleased with the series, hence the multiple guest spots and RDA’s honorary rank

            1. Yeah, I noticed a lot of USAF recruiting ads when it was being rebroadcast in syndication. I find it amusing that if we ever get threatened by pompous, overdressed, boombox-voiced extraterrestrial Evil Overlords, we’ll have someone like O’Neill defending us. 😉

              1. Eh. When he was a General it was pretty sane. And compared to some of the legends of WW2, he’s not completely whacko. There is always a nugget of truth in stereotypes such as the loose cannon soldier/cop.

      2. What would you require for it to count as showing leadership?

        We saw him give inspiring speeches for his crew (classic visual media leadership), we saw him demonstrate understanding of his chain (the episode where he gets in a fist fight with Spock), we saw him making choices that hurt him personally for the good of the crew/mission (pretty standard dramatic episode thing for them), even the classic “Why is the CO on the away team?” thing seems to be Star Trek physical leadership in action.

    2. Frankly, I can’t see the Kirk in those new films EVER making friends with Spock, without a serious maturation period first.

      Also – while Paul below mentions Checkov being approximately the same age as Kirk, I have more problem with Spock being approximately the same age as all of them. Before the original Kirk ever became a Captain, Spock was a Science Officer to another captain. Not to mention that he had already gone through extensive education on Vulcan before entering Star Fleet.

    3. … he’s named James T. Kirk, so of course he’s brilliant and a great leader and so wonderful that he doesn’t need to prove himself as an Ensign or a Lieutenant or a Commander …

      You know, that explains a lot about Abrams’ attempt at Star Wars! He did the same thing with Rey — she has skills that could be explained, but he never bothered to explain them, and so I (and many others that I’ve seen) find her too Mary Sue-ish. I never realized that he wrote Kirk the same way! So it’s not a problem specific to that film, it’s a J.J. Abrams problem.

      1. It’s a similar idea. I don’t have as much of a problem with Rey because the Star Wars universe has always been a place where bloodlines, in the form of force ability, so in some sense, naming Rey “Skywalker” (because let’s face it, we all know she is) really IS all the audience needs to recognize her as this brilliant, gifted individual who should be able to do anything. None the less, Rey was pushing it even by those standards. For me, she didn’t QUITE pass the threshold into Sue-dom, but I’m definitely worried that she’s headed that direction.

    4. I walked out of the first one muttering “do the words ‘chain of command’ hold any meaning for these folks??!”. Haven’t gone to see any more, have no particular plans to.

    5. Finally, I see my advantage in just being dumb. I can turn my brain off (it doesn’t really take all that much effort) and just enjoy the fun.

      Kirk stepping out of the academy with little to no real experience and becoming a captain of a star ship? No big deal. Sure it’s a plot hole that the entire Enterprise could fit through. Hell, the whole movie has swiss cheese for a plot line. Doesn’t matter to me, I’m just there to see characters do fun stuff on screen.

      I really would suck at being a movie critic.

      1. In JJ’s world, getting a movie directing gig just out of film school is not a remarkable thing, and when he looks at Zuckerberg in the business world he see validation. The fact that new directors produce crap all the time, and business founders routinely fail spectacularly when things get big, and that inexperienced founder CEOs regularly hire experienced EVPs and CTOs and CFOs to hold their hands and prevent disasters, does not come into his world.
        The massively fatal and consequential modes of failure for a new-grad Starship Captain doesn’t even apprach JJ’s consciousness – just plop the guy in the chair of a ship pretty much crewed with 21st century millenial new grads – what could go wrong?

      2. It’s an old tradition. After all, Kimball Kinnison got his Lens and was assigned a ship. Of course, it was a highly experimental ship. . . .

  13. We’ve moved enough that I think Murphy is the patron demon of moving.

    I suspect, though, that there is something about the house that fell through that wasn’t obvious and probably never will be now. A neighbor, perhaps, but something. There are so many folks wishing you well, praying for you, that I expect you’re getting a little extra looking out for.

  14. I suspect that when you bail Greebo out of kitty-jail and give him pets and lap and favorite gooshyfood, the hex will be lifted. 🙂 By sheer coincidence.

    1. The current feline master of our house gives me the evil eye for giving him kibble instead of opening the can…….

  15. > might not bother with less glamorous bits
    > of craft such as making sure your
    > reasoning makes sense throughout

    As a reader I’ve largely given up expectation of that.

    I thought that was the sort of thing the agent/editor gatekeepers were supposed to be on top of, but I’ve read too many novels by Big Name Authors that simply made no sense at all.

  16. > most of our conversation, not to say most
    > of our thoughts revolved around injustices
    > done to us and how unfair the world was.

    Way back in 1964 a guy names Eric Berne wrote a book called “Games People Play”, about a concept called “transactional analysis.” He isolated several common behavioral interactions that he called games. One of them was “Ain’t It Awful.”

    Over the years I’ve found that’s a *very* hard pattern to break out of.

    1. This is the second time this week I’ve seen this book mentioned, in two wildly different corners of the ‘net. Guess I need to hunt it down. (The other spot was talking about the game that goes If it weren’t for so-n-so I would be able to . . . Forget what precisely it was called.)

      1. It’s probably not going to rock your world, but I think Berne made a very astute observation of how some common behavior patterns work. It’s worth a read, anyway.

        1. I read it in HS. Helps a lot once you realize realize most of the people you’re talking to aren’t all that into adult-adult interactions.

    2. I remember picking that book up in a library and being very disappointed that it wasn’t a description of the rules of various card games. For some reason the title had had me expecting Hoyle’s Rules of Games.

  17. Because of that, “message writing” will always be inferior to “entertainment writing” when viewed in the dispassionate cold light of day.


    Writing has a purpose– to convey a message. It’s got to be true, or it doesn’t work. Sometimes folks are aware of the “this is how it is” they’re conveying.

    Maybe the division is… normal writing is to convey a message, and “message writing” is to be seen conveying the message?

    1. To paraphrase Larry Correia among others, I would say more that “entertainment writing” is when the message serves the story, but “message writing” is when the story serves the message.

      It’s the difference between giving someone a glass of orange juice and giving them water with a vitamin pill — both approaches provide hydration and vitamin C, but it’s rare to prefer the latter to the former unless feeling virtuous is more important than rewarding your taste buds.

      1. And of course I think of at most half-dozen times when orange juice rather than water and a pill would’ve been my preference for hydration and C, and I can’t really grasp “feeling virtuous” for making a rational choice that also fits my preferences; musing on why made me dislike it besides that angle, it’s the way it tries to make them equivalent.
        Very useful for rhetoric, less for attempts at accuracy, and the “one As the B, the other Bs the A” is satisfying dramatically, but lends itself to the conclusion that both are functionally the same, or to preening on both sides. It buys into the virtue-signaling assumptions, rather than seeing the virtue signaling itself as a problem.

        Jump over to doing things for others. There’s a difference between doing stuff because you want to help someone, and doing stuff because of the non-them effects of helping them.
        (Example because my girls love to help, and we’re working hard on the idea that the point of helping is them, not you or what others think.)

        Folks who do charity to be seen to do it can still have good come of it, but there’s something missing.

    2. the purpose of writing depends on what kind of writing it is. Informative, persuasive or entertaining. IMO fiction writing is to entertain.

      1. Nah, fiction is too useful to use for the other things– even Jesus’ proverbs were an attempt to explain, but still fiction.

  18. Totally off-topic: some one of the Latin-literate-types, I think one of the Catholics but not entirely sure, around here recommended a book last year, Ossa Latinitatis Sola, to me. Authors are Foster and McCarthy. It’s still not released: does anyone recollect recommending this, and if so, do you know if it’s likely to ever be released?

    1. It really will be released; but in the great tradition of important and much-desired academic books by professors, I would not hold my breath or be surprised if it takes till next year.

      On the bright side, he is classics and not archaeology. Archaeologists think on the scale of twenty or thirty years to publish their dig from this year.

  19. Also have lost out on a house I thought was perfect- am praying that like us, you perfecter house is just around the corner!

  20. So Obama’s disabling of ID verification on his campaign donation website probably let some foreign money in, maybe a lot.

    7.25 years in, it is looking like it could have been a lot of Russian money.

    Trump’s chief foreign policy guru is alleged to be repeating Russian talking points.

    Suppose Russia bought Obama, and knowing that Hillary is for sale, grew over confident about buying the next President. Trump has enough tied up that he might be in the price range of Russian discretionary spending. Trump is also potentially vulnerable to women, which the Russians have used in the past.

    Hillary still, in some ways, acts as if she has some shred of caution or fear in her. A case can be made that she has limits, and is intelligent enough that you couldn’t bribe her to throw away the Clinton foundation. Such that, even if the Russians offered her enough, she wouldn’t entirely destroy the United States, because that is where she keeps her money. I personally would not bet on her wisdom, or that she would retain her current judgement over the next four years. (The Clintons are a partnership, old, and the death or mental infirmity of either could entirely change anything we might predict from her current state.)

    Supposing someone in the GOP establishment has intelligence sources, and became convinced that the Russians bought Trump, seeing Hillary as the better option might not be entirely stupid and insane.

    I dunno.

    1. 1) I’d entirely forgotten about Trump’s anti-NATO bullshit when asking if he had sold out to the Russians. 2) Microsoft’s simulation of a teenage girl is hilarious, explains support for Trump, and leaves me thankful the voting age isn’t lower.

  21. I just heard from Sarah. She is having connectivity issues but she hopes they clear up soon. In the meantime, she said to tell everyone she will post as soon as she can.

    1. Moving to a new place, and connectivity issues? Has that ever failed to happen?

      Even if she had perfect connectivity, I somehow expect that the fun of “Which box did I put the frying pan in? Where is the coffeepot? Who packed the coffee filters, and why aren’t they with the coffeepot? Can I just use pantyhose…. wait, what box are the pantyhose in?” Would mean no post for a day or two!

      1. I had a miracle when I made my last move. Signed mortgage Friday and had cable and internet in place on Sunday (Yes! Cox came out to do an installation on a Sunday). Just had to pick up a wireless network receiver for my desktop since house not networked yet.

        1. Make sure to:
          1. Have good passwords on those.
          2. Run cable as soon as practical.
          3. Disable the wireless interface after you have ethernet working.

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