The Lies

I have the best job in the world.  I can make up fantastic constructions: frothy lies, that amuse me and respond to the rule of cool.  And the best part is that I don’t have to REALLY lie.  I mean people know I’m making this up.

Believe it or not, novels used to get frowned on because of that.  They were an affront to the Almighty, since they described things that never happened.

Years ago, in my conference in the Baen bar, I found someone who had even more strict ideas of how evil my work is.  You see, he only read science fiction.  He refused to read fantasy (at the time all I had with Baen was the Shifter’s series) because it talked about things that couldn’t exist in the world as created, and so was eeeeeeevil.  Even though those who’ve read the shifter series know there isn’t even any magic or witchcraft in that series.  Heck, it doesn’t even have vampires.

OTOH it DOES say “fantasy” on the spine.

I’ll confess I’m a peeve — in other words, still myself — because I giggled at that.  Oh, sure, FTL?  Cool.  Antigrav?  Groovie. Gateways to teleport you to another planet?  Very good.  Aliens? Fine.  Shape shifters?  Die, you evil witch.

Me, I have — obviously — a different view of fiction: all fiction, fantasy, mystery, science fiction, historical, even those occasional “literary” pieces that aren’t deadly dull.  (There are a few.)

I believe fantasy stretches the mind.  They have recently found out that people who have imagined getting say in a plane crash and escaping are more likely to survive if their plane actually crashes.

Right, we don’t write only about plane crashes, but we write about all kinds of situations, some of them supremely weird.  What it does, I think, is create what I call “flexible minds” so that even if the world goes completely bizarre on you (these days it often does) you can roll with the punches.  In a society that is changing very fast in unanticipated ways, it makes it easier to function.

I remember years ago when all of Dan’s workgroup read SF/F and their boss remarked how adaptable they were, and capable of “thinking outside the box.”  That is because it was where they lived.

Yesterday I shared my pet peeves when I’m researching possibilities on worldbuilding for a new series.  Some of you went all literal on me, which annoys the crap out of me, particularly since what I was sharing was stuff that makes even me run away (like pyramids) and it’s not even because it’s wrong (most of what I was looking at was at best unconventional) but because it’s trite.  It’s become a cliche.  It no longer fits the rule of cool.  (Also the moment pyramids or Templar knights come in, you know things are going into astral bodies and enlightened aliens, which is even more annoying, since that’s not what I want.)

When you go all literal and go “No, this is absolutely impossible” though there is really no evidence it is (highly unlikely?  SURE.) you’re doing the opposite of “flexible minds” which means when something falls out of place, you’ll hold on to the old ideas and refuse to move on or worse, starting trying to find “begs” as to why the new find is flawed, the new way of doing things is wrong, shaking your cane and screaming “get off my lawn.”  Which is bad for you and bad for society.

All you have to do to see the result of encouraging your mind to be the opposite of flexible is to look at the left side of the isle right now.

They knew Hillary was going to win the election; they knew their “progressive” (forward to the nineteen thirties!) future was inevitable; they knew their ideas are all on the right side of history.  And then it turned out… it wasn’t PRECISELY so.

Younger son tells me that their teachers assured them (multiple times) no Republican would win ever again, because the left was CORRECT. (Which explains why people his age have so much trouble listening to other opinions.  It’s like questioning their faith.)

Turned out all those polls that showed no support for Trump could be summed up by “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.”

And they can’t cope.  If I hear one more call for impeachment I’m going to blow a gasket.  You might hate what Trump is doing (meh.  By and large better than I expected) but if anything he did was liable to impeachment, Obama would have been impeached a dozen times or more.  Worse, they don’t seem to understand “impeachment” doesn’t mean removal.  (If it did Billy Jeff would have been out’a’there too.)  WORSE they don’t seem to understand that even if they managed to remove Trump, they’d just get Pence.  And if they removed HIM they’d get (I THINK) Ryan.

Instead, because this is not rational, because this is their minds trying to retreat to the reality they KNEW was true, to the theories and beliefs that comfort them, they have this movie running in their heads that goes: impeach Trump. Automagically, Hillary is president.  Or maybe Obama comes back.

It makes absolutely no sense, and even someone with a rudimentary knowledge of the constitution or our form of government KNOWS that’s not just impossible.  That’s “Thetans gave us the pyramids to sharpen our razors” crazy.

And yet otherwise sane colleagues of mine post this sh*t all the time, and expect it to happen “any minute now.”

This is cult-level faith.  It’s the sign of inflexible minds.  They convinced themselves that paradise was just around the corner, and now they’re locked in a long scream, unable to cope, unable to function, unable to see what they want is impossible.

They’re the toddler standing in the middle of the grocery isle, screaming at the top of his lungs “but I wanna.”

Because they can’t budge, this might very well come to blows.  Worse, it makes our enemies think we’re on the verge of civil war (I don’t think we are) and therefore makes us look vulnerable, in a very violent and scary world (the result of Obama’s “diplomacy.”  That man thought apologies and shows of weakness would bring peace.  Because he doesn’t get the difference between the real world and kindergarten is that there is no benevolent teacher to keep the wimps safe.)

What’s even worse, if they had won, because they KNEW how things were supposed to go, they’d never have seen what a disaster Hillary was.  (You know this, because they’re still lockjawed in “Obama had a scandal free administration.”  Sure thing.  Fast and Furious. Benghazi.  The pay for play Hillary conducted as secretary of state, etc, etc, but sure.  No scandals here.) And if she turned out to be really, really bad, they’d still be trying to interpret it all as hunky-dory and going to the wall saying “If only Hillary knew.”

Inflexible minds are enablers of tyranny.

No one asks you to believe in lies, of course.  (Before the more literal of you go crazy.  Hey, I said pyramids come in I run out.) But we do ask you to be able to put your mind in the “What if” of a story.  Yeah, sure, you could pick the imaginary world to pieces.  EVEN IN CONTEMPORARY non-fantastic literature, it’s really easy to find holes, if you go in to find them.  It’s much harder than you think creating a wholly coherent lie.  Particularly one of 100k words or more.

HOWEVER if you let yourself go and try to play in the story (this is why our worldbuilding comes up with lots of stuff to support it.  “Sure, magic has always existed, why do you think all the books talk about it.  It’s just that this Magical legion has been playing keep away with it, and covering it up.”  Yeah, you can see the holes, but just go along with it) you’ll get two benefits: it’s like a gym for your mind, playing out “what ifs” and making it easier to go with the flow when things change; and it helps you identify the signs of lies being constructed.  If you read a lot, you know what gets said and what gets left out to build an entire world that couldn’t exist in ours, but that can kind of function for the space of an enjoyable story.

Flexible minds.  For the times, they are achanging.

 

 

 

 

408 responses to “The Lies

  1. Not only that, but as it turns out, your shifters are aliens, if I’m remembering the world background correctly. (It’s been a couple years since I read any of the shifters books). So, as often seems to happen, the guy wasn’t even correct in his reasons for refusing to read the books.

  2. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    A few years ago, Barbara Hambly was talking about one of her books and saying that she had based two of her characters on women she knew but “switched” the appearances of them.

    Somebody asked about the “disclaimer” at the front of most fiction books about “none of the characters are based on real people”.

    Her response (IIRC in jest) was “I’m a writer, I lie for a living.” 👿

    On the other hand, I somewhat dislike the “explanation” for why magic & magical critters isn’t believed by most people in the Harry Dresden world. But I thought of an explanation.

    Harry has said that “people just want to forget about magic so unless they really attempt to remember (or events force them to remember), they just forget about the “magical events” they witness and make up excuses for what happened”.

    My thought was that centuries ago the wizards and other magical beings created a major spell that causes this “forgetfulness”.

    Now why Harry doesn’t know about this is another matter. 😉

    • All characters are based on real people, it’s just considered good form to steal a bit from this one and a chunk from that one, and build a composite that way rather than just taking a person and changing the name.
      Except for Buckley of course, him you just slip in wherever he fits.

      • Mine mostly aren’t, except for the refinishing mysteries. They just show up fully formed.

      • Dorothy Grant

        Should Joe Buckley ever die (God forbid) of anything other that Really Obvious Natural Causes after a long and healthy life, the number of “premeditated” that man could rack up in a case file…

        • The perverse nature of the universe suggests that he is now perhaps the most likely person to be afflicted with immortality.

        • If ever a man deserved a full frontal Viking funeral, with actual working longboat and subsequent burial mound (maybe with a tasteful henge for curb appeal?) it would be Joe Buckley. And Certain Authors should contribute to the fund to make this happen, just because. 😀

      • *snicker*
        While most of the characters in my historicals are composites, or completely made up – in the Luna City books we have totally based some characters on real people … several are personalities who have annoyed us.
        “Don’t piss me off,” my daughter threatens. “Or I’ll put you into the next book!”

        • There are times I wonder how of the commentary Sarah reads here is research about the commenter(s).

          • Michael Houst

            Funny you should say that. Scott Adams does unsuspecting A-B testing with his blog all the time. Say something odd with a semi-logical support and then see where his reader-posters go with it. While I don’t know if Sarah is really a sneaky conniving manipulative lady, or just has a sense of humor second only to God’s, I have been warned to not take things too seriously here.

        • Am already plotting those kinds of characters myself. LOL

        • I take a certain comfort i the fact that I am at once too mundane and too improbable to ever be the basis of a character in a book. It frees me to chafe writers with impunity.

          I recognize I’ve just challenged fate, but go ahead, try putting me in a book and it will fall flat. An accountant with a low sense of lexicological humour is a bridge very few will cross.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        He fits all over the place. Inside the gears. Underneath the vending machine. That vat of reagent. The high tension electric room where the main enters the building. Et cetera.

      • Agatha Christie would dispute that. She was quite firm in her insistence that her characters were people she made up and not based on anyone she knew.

        • So are mine. In fact in a brief and not very successful attempt to collaborate with Eric Flint, that’s the ONE thing he couldn’t get about my work. “But WHO are you basing this on?”

          • Bzuh? I can get doing it either way, but not being able to comprehend that some characters are not based on existing individuals seems somehow like a related problem to considering fiction to be evil because it’s made up.

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              Like a painter who only works from models.

              You work the way you work. There’s temptation to project your methods on others, and if you’ve only ever gotten one method to work, there’s a temptation to think that the others are impossible.

              • Most real people are fictional, anyway. They are mere projections of what we assume them to be. Nobody seems to have perfected a method of getting inside folks’ heads and observing the process. That loving mother may inwardly hate he miserable brat and is too timid to express it publicly. Remember, homicidal maniacs “look just like everyone else,” to quote Wednesday Addams.

                • Terry Sanders

                  Person. From “persona,” a Latin term for a mask worn by an actor.

                • Heaven knows that folks’ description of my decision making process is frequently…um…very different than what I saw happen. And not all of it can be explained as lying to myself!

                  • BobtheRegisterredFool

                    I recently had yet another epiphany about how what I misinterpret as unfriendliness is really that my natural mode of communication is in fact not communication.

              • I once tried to argue with a woman who insisted that short-story writers worked like novelists, and admitted she hadn’t written any, but she knew better than me, a short-story writer.

      • I assure you, I do not know any of my characters IRL. Too bad, really. I like most of them.

    • caitliniwoods

      I don’t think I’m going to be able to come up with an explanation for why magic is testably real but only fringe elements engage. (I mean, yes, blood magic narrows things off, but given that I’m not even requiring death of the donor (usually), you think no one would have gotten the money from Randi yet?)

      So I think I’m just not going to. It’s not a mainstream concern, only a couple of people dabble, have a nice day.

      (I think that’s technically a subset of the Forbidden Knowledge handwave. I’ll go with it.)

      • I can’t define any practical difference between magic and esp abilities. I could write either of them as an expression of the other. As for why only fringe elements engage, well, most of us are too tightly locked into the “scientifical” world to operate the flexibility required to practice magicks, and magicking has a way of getting people killed far more frequently than major construction projects. That, and its “benefits” are too often not practical. Sure, it might be handy to fling fire like Dresden, but other than s’mores what does that get you? Most Dresden-world magick seems only useful for destruction and humans cough*Marcone*cough don’t need much help there.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Well, it’s helpful in fighting magical critters that regular human weapons might not work against. 😉

      • Hmm; In this fantasy sort of universe I’m writing, magic is on the fringes because anything that gets too involved in magic eventually gets pulled into a magic world. (How subtle or spectacular it is depends on the circumstances) How magic a given region of the world/place/time/person is is a function of how much the world is a product of immutable external forces, (and hence has rules, structure, order, things that exist outside your own imagination to learn from) vs. how much the world is a product of the wills of the inhabitants.

        Magic can become very useful when it gets strong enough, but it is damage to the fabric of reality – The reason one level of this setting is littered with dead magic civilizations (therefore D&Dish adventure world) is because it is almost irresistible as a temptation, more so as it grows in power, and that it eventually destroys the local world and sucks the practitioners into some ontologically closed twilight zone.

      • “I don’t think I’m going to be able to come up with an explanation for why magic is testably real but only fringe elements engage.”

        Maybe the math isn’t right or something. Maybe magic needs fuzzy logic to be properly described (or n-dimensional variables). Fuzzy logic is logic using fuzzy sets; fuzzy sets can have memberships that are other 1 or zero. For example (and I’m using something I read in a book two decades ago), a man six foot & six inches (198 cm) tall might have a membership of .9 in the set of tall men, but a man six foot (182 cm) tall might have a membership of .5.

        I’ll let someone else figure out the n-dimensional stuff or string theory or whatever.

      • Traditionally, magic works because another intelligence is providing the power.

        So your tests can go all to heck by something simple like “Oooga Booga got bored” or “um, the Spirits are annoyed that you’re trying to take them for granted. You tried to make the rock a loaf of bread, it turned into a snake.”

        • depends on what you’re doing. Theurgia and goetia worked with spirits. Magica worked with the occult properties of things, like, say, the pain-removing qualities of willow-bark tea.

          Of course, what happened to magica is we developed better ways to ascertain those properties, and renamed it science.

          And the first two were supposed to be coercive, as witness one could speak of their “working,” rather than treating them as optional request to the spirits.

          • Was looking more at the magic we’ve go a lot of historical evidence for that is most like what storybook magic works like– the curse-tablets…actually, pretty much all the cursing forms, and the blackmailing the gods to try to get them to do stuff, pretty much all of the “I pledge to follow (power) so long as they give me power” stuff… up through Dark beyond the blackest night, crimson beyond the blood that flows, deep within the sands of time is where your power grows… I pledge myself to conquer all the foes who stand, before the mighty gift bestowed in my unworthy hand…Let the fools who stand before me be destroyed!

            • Oh, and also the appeasing local spirits with offerings type things.

            • Alternate Hypothesis #1: Niven nailed it with his concept of manna and all that has been used up (probably triggered the last ice age which is why all Climate Heretics, Apostates and Deniers must be sacrificed to the CO2 Dity.

              Alternate Hypothesis #2: The God of the Book, worshiped by Jews, Christians and Muslims, has suppressed all competing powers of earth, sea and sky. We have support for this in legends of Solomon sealing away the jinns, afrits, andmarids. By denying nutriment (human worship) of other deities He maintains a rigid logical scientific reality.

              • I actually favor a version of #2– it would also explain why there’s an incredible drop in, ahem, activity when folks are innoculated by baptism at birth.

                God is, as we know, a jealous God– so of course those who become His children would be, ahem, a bad choice to attempt to steal…at least directly. The “use other humans” option is left open by the free will thing.

                This also makes sense of the way that demonic activity happens when you invite it.

              • Have you read L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Prospero’s Children trilogy.

                • No. I have the two Rachel Griffin books but they are among the several hundred titles in my “Awaiting Reading” pile(s).

                  Sadly, that pile has aped the behaviour of the Marching Chinese and presence there is no guarantee of my reading in the near future. My current reading of Ronald C. Wright’s American Ulysses is dragging on (although I’ve reached the Centennial celebration near the end of his second term) because I keep having to suppress outbursts along the lines of “It’s been 140+ years and the damned Democrats haven’t changed their political tactics one whit!”

                  • Lucky you, you get to add the third Rachel Griffin book to the list.

                    • Not (apparently) available just yet.

                      That is why the list grows faster than I can trim it. I am sure I am the only one about with this problem.

                    • No, Book 3 has been available for months:

                      And Book 4 is not too far off, I’m told…

                    • Why so it is! Funny Amazon didn’t list it on her author’s page, but Amazon has been doing some odd things with item listing of late.

                      Ans so my pile grows one book deeper, incrementally by the day.

                      I have no desire to live forever, I just want to get caught up on my reading before I go.

      • you think no one would have gotten the money from Randi yet

        A possible flaw in the argument– if I’m remembering the same gentleman, the level of power needed to make a demonstration he wouldn’t find a way to deny would be better used to just take the money.

    • Douglas Adams invented the “Someone Else’s Problem” field generator for his Hitchhiker’s Guide series. It causes people to ignore anything strange and mentally catalog it as “someone else’s problem”.
      (This led to an aside where someone tried to hide something with an invisibility cloak, which was easily penetrated, I think, because people notice when things bounce off of nothing. Had he painted the thing pink and put a SEP field generator on it, no one would have ever been the wiser.)

      • Terry Sanders

        In Randall Garrett’s LORD DARCY series, the closest thing they have to invisibility is similar. The Tarnkappe Effect makes you write off what you’re looking at as something that belongs here. Nothing to see, folks, move along. Like the Plateau Eye in Larry Niven’s stories.

        Problem is, what if you *can’t* interpret it that way? Like a guard in a narrow hallway, for instance–nothing that moves “belongs” there as far as he’s concerned.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          IIRC That was brought up in “Two Many Magicians”.

          A Classic Locked Room Mystery where somebody wondered if the murderer used that to “remain unnoticed”.

          While the man searching the room was a non-magician so could be fooled by it, he was being watched in his search by magicians who wouldn’t be fooled by it.

          The only place that the murderer would have been unnoticed by them was the bathtub (it was a hotel room) and the searcher was seen looking into the bathtub in a manner that the Tarnkappe Effect would have prevented.

          • Actually, it wasn’t that you didn’t notice him, but also even after you did, you couldn’t look at him; for example, in the same book the villain using it couldn’t be looked at to cut him with a sword. His opponent had limited precog, though, and could aim the cut for where he would be and thus not “look at him” to be effective.

          • Terry Sanders

            Yup. My comment was a) attempt at a brief summary of the discussion in that book.

      • I wander if the SEP field works on cops, fire fighters, EMTs, nosy parkers, or people with attention deficit?

    • “Somebody asked about the “disclaimer” at the front of most fiction books about “none of the characters are based on real people”.

      Her response (IIRC in jest) was “I’m a writer, I lie for a living.” ”

      As I recall, the full disclaimer usually reads “…or are used fictiously.” Unless your characters are exactly like the people you based them on, that last clause can cover a multitude of sins.

    • Harry has said that “people just want to forget about magic so unless they really attempt to remember (or events force them to remember), they just forget about the “magical events” they witness and make up excuses for what happened”.

      That, in a nutshell, is the explanation for Harry Dresden as well as for Harry Potter. And I like it better than Correia’s ‘If you start talking about the crazy s(tuff) you.ve seen, we’ll send Frankenstein’s monster to rip off your head and other vital appendages.’

      • Then you haven’t read Correia very closely. The MCB uses exactly that approach, concocting a story that 99% will seize on to disbelieve. Franks is for the 1% who won’t disbelieve and won’t stay quiet.

        • Point. But the fact that Mr. C even *has* a Franks makes him a bit different.

          • How? Every intelligence gathering agency has secrets that it feels require killing to protect, and someone to do that killing.

            I suggest we ask Commander Bond when we join him for baccarat.

    • The Masquerade (a useful term for the pretense that the magic doesn’t live among us) is a well-established trope that is very ill-justified in most works. A favorite peeve of mine.

      Some manage. L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Prospero’s Children trilogy and Rachel Griffin series — in both the magical beings know that unmagical people can obtain magic, only in ways that will result in massive misery all around, and furthermore the society is convincing in that people will be willing to forego letting unmagical people know. (Really, it’s annoying when characters who would obviously be willing to play chicken are nevertheless too frightened to let mundanes know of their existence.) Or Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere where even the magical people don’t know why it happens.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        Nod.

        I had a story-idea that never got anywhere in which there were plenty of “magical critters” and “magicians” in our world but I couldn’t convince myself on “why have the Masquerade”. 😀

        Of course, then I had to “figure out” how to add “magical critters” to the world.

        Managed to do that but still haven’t gotten a worthy story written in that world.

        • It’s a conundrum. Mind you, I’m working on two different stories where they are hiding out, but I did manage to work out a motive in both cases for why those who are forcing people to hide did so. (In fact, two motives in one case, because it happened in two stages.)

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Then there’s the magical critters who are “hiding” from humans because it makes humans “better prey”.

            Barbara Hambly’s vampires enjoy the fact that humans “don’t believe in them”.

            It’s so much easier for them when the vampire hunters are considered insane by their fellow humans. 👿

            Oh, Barbara Hambly’s vampires generally leave vampire hunters alone so they “waste” their lives being considered insane and never finding any vampires. 😉

            • Yeah, that’s a good reason. Mind you, it needs all those hiding to be prudent enough to see it.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                In Barbara Hambly’s world, being careless around humans is a good way for a vampire to get staked … by other vampires especially by the Master Vampires. 😉

                • Playing chicken is a good way to get yourself very dead indeed. Nevertheless, there are people who play it.

                  Indeed, societies behind the Masquerade often are plentifully overstocked with the sort of character who would gleefully play chicken.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Well, Vampires in Barbara Hambly’s world are relatively few in number.

                    IIRC London had maybe a couple of dozen (just prior to WW1).

                    A vampire who “played chicken” would be noticed by the Master of London.

                    Of course, creating another vampire was a conscious choice by the vampire and by the human who is to become a vampire.

  3. One thing I like in the Shifters series is that it is (so far) a “this happens… but we don’t how it really works” and the realization that the mass problem is indeed a problem in need of some sort of explanation for things to be understood. Do I expect a full reveal of it all? Nope. Some advancement of comprehension perhaps. But if it doesn’t happen… well, that’s not the reason I’m reading. I’m reading because “Hey, how will {Tom, Kyrie, Raf, $CHARACTER} deal with this?”

  4. Well, the term “willing suspension of disbelief” comes to mind. If you’re reading speculative fiction of any sort, you have to be able to temporarily accept the existence of one or more things (concepts, objects, beings, etc.) that aren’t evident in the world around us to be able to enjoy the story. That capability is also a requirement for any real advance in science, engineering, and society–the ability to conceive of something other than “the way things are and have always been.”

  5. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    “I lied but they were true lies”. 👿

  6. Some people have apparently never encountered the concept of suspension of disbelieve that is required for a true enjoyment of fiction.
    Or as children ever played let’s pretend.

    • Fun for children was actually outlawed quietly sometime in the 90’s. Not having fun as a child makes them much easier to turn into miserable socialists as adults.

  7. I’m having fun posting this tidbit where the Usual Suspects can find it.

    http://phantomsoapbox.blogspot.ca/2017/05/liberals-intolerant-say-it-aint-so.html

    Scientific Proof!!!! that Liberals are every bit as intolerant as Conservatives, as Proven by Liberal scientists!!!!

    As yet, the Usual Suspects have offered up only complaints that science doesn’t “prove” anything, to which I reply: Global. Warming. So far, none of them have taken that bait.

    • The difference is, Liberals are intolerant about Right Things™, while Deplorables are intolerant of Wrong Things.

      • Indeed, that is what the report said, due to being written by and for Liberals. But, the amount and intensity of intolerance was just about equal.

        My very favorite part was that neither intelligence nor education made a lick of difference in tolerance. Education changed what people were willing to -say- about things, but what they were willing to tolerate did not change at all.
        Hicks vs. city slickers, to the knife.

    • I saw that article, and my impression on reading it was, “I am very much NOT impressed by the intellectual rigor on display here”. I’ll name two examples that jumped out at me.

      One was the way the article blithely used the words discrimination, intolerance and prejudice interchangeably, as if the three words meant exactly the same thing. There was no acknowledgement of how discrimination can be a good or bad thing depending on your criteria*, no acknowledgement of the difference between prejudice and intolerance**, and in short, no acknowledgement of the idea that some people really do say “I dislike what you have to say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” This one is the fault of the journalist who wrote the article, and the papers cited may have done better.

      The other thing was the disparity between two of the sample statements that they quoted from the 2013 paper (which was behind a paywall so I couldn’t see the rest of the questions asked). But the two sample statements were “Feminists should not be allowed to make a speech in this city” and “Prolife people deserve any harassment they receive.” These two statements are quite dissimilar, and it’s bad science to lump them together in the same statistics. Someone who makes the former statement is anti-First Amendment, since they’re talking about preventing someone from speaking based on the content of the ideas they’re going to say, and I would oppose that statement for that reason alone. But the important point is that someone who says “Group X should not be allowed to present their bad ideas” is NOT necessarily someone who says “Members of group X should be harassed”. There are plenty of people who would say “Muslims shouldn’t be allowed to preach jihad,” yet if they saw a Muslim being attacked on the street, would run to help him. And this one can’t be blamed on the journalists — it’s the authors of the paper who lumped those disparate questions together. Furthermore, the article quoted multiple papers, but ALL of them were ones with the same co-author, Mark Brandt. And having seen two statements that Brandt thought were equivalent in his 2013 paper, I am not expecting to find intellectual rigor in any of his other papers.

      So while I do agree that in recent years, liberals have shown themselves to be more intolerant than the conservatives they routinely accuse of intolerance — this article is lousy evidence for that, since they conflate “I don’t like your ideas” with “I think you’re a bad person” all over the place.

      * A good professor will discriminate against lazy students who don’t turn in their papers on time. A bad professor will discriminate against students who don’t agree with him politically. Very different attitudes.

      ** Pre-judging someone because they’re a member of ethnic group X (and you assume that therefore they’re going to be poorly-educated and display certain negative cultural traits) is a bad thing because not all X actually behave like that, and you might be misjudging an individual. But that’s not at all the same thing as intolerance: you might personally dislike the negative cultural traits that ethnic group X tends to display, but you nevertheless treat them like any other human being, showing them politeness and respect even though you don’t actually respect the culture they come from. That’s called tolerance, and it happens all the time. Ever had someone have a perfectly polite interaction with someone else, then when person B is gone they admit to you that they really don’t like the group that person B belongs to? You just saw tolerance on display from a prejudiced person.

      • I will add at this time that I consider “liberal scientist” to be equivalent to “military intelligence” and “jumbo shrimp”. To be devoutly wished for, but seldom seen in real life.

      • ** Pre-judging someone because they’re a member of ethnic group X (and you assume that therefore they’re going to be poorly-educated and display certain negative cultural traits) is a bad thing because not all X actually behave like that, and you might be misjudging an individual. But that’s not at all the same thing as intolerance: you might personally dislike the negative cultural traits that ethnic group X tends to display, but you nevertheless treat them like any other human being, showing them politeness and respect even though you don’t actually respect the culture they come from. That’s called tolerance, and it happens all the time. Ever had someone have a perfectly polite interaction with someone else, then when person B is gone they admit to you that they really don’t like the group that person B belongs to? You just saw tolerance on display from a prejudiced person.

        Quoting the whole thing because it’s important, even if my only comment is– this is what made America possible.
        I’ve mentioned before that my grandmother didn’t like…well, pretty much anyone. The “If it’s not Scottish, it’s c*** thing? Yeah, it exists.

        But she would never dream of being unfair to someone because of it*, and her favorite student in the 4-H classes was…the adorable little Mexican girl. Who was Catholic, Mexican, and new to the valley, all three of them bad. But she was polite (for an eight year old), and generally a great kid.
        With my mom, if she’s unerringly polite to you after she gets to know you, she hates your guts; with Grandma, she was never less than polite, but heaven help you if she had to publicly contradict you. Even more help you if she politely, privately contradicted you…and you didn’t listen. You could argue with her, but don’t IGNORE her, or things just suddenly stopped working.

        The 60s fashion for “the more you scream in public, the more correct you are”? Kind of destroyed that. People just assumed if you weren’t publicly vicious, you were a good friend. *Shudder* The idea that to be “authentic,” you’ve got to indulge in every impulse and theory– it’s destructive. It removes the rails, so to speak– so you don’t know you’ve gone too far until you’re off the cliff.

        * Those of you who guessed that being someone she liked might get you treated unfairly? Give yourself a gold star. Her friendship was valuable, but also expensive.

  8. I try to keep my mind as flexible as possible. That way it’s not snapping as much as it could or should have. ;p

  9. The proof of Hillary’s unfitness as a candidate, taking a Democrat’s perspective, can be boiled down to o e thing, she lost to DONALD TRUMP!
    DT got 51% of the white women’s vote and 1/3rd of the Hispanic vote. Donald Trump, the self defined muddy grabing, rapist Mexican deporting, wife trading, …
    Vote for him or not, like him or not, no writer could have plausibly made that up.
    Be honest with yourselves Democrats, and Republicans, and figure out why!
    Listen to actual deplorables….

    • I’ve seen the bit “The Optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds; the Pessimist fears that this is true.” I’m starting to lean toward the idea of the Universe as simulation… (If so, we must never truly solve all the problems – when that happens, the simulator is shut down!).. but it’s more of Sims things.. and the player is just messing with us. Or perhaps a weirdness-generator is needed and… we’re part of that?

      • There’s another one:
        Pessimism is just an ugly word for pattern recognition.

      • One of my favorite theories is that we are part of the process of helping ‘God’ evolve. We’re billions of little experiments running around helping god understand him/her/itself.

    • One thing to keep in mind, however, is that Trump didn’t ONLY defeat Hillary. He also defeated the various alleged Futures of the GOP.

  10. With respect to the polls, my wife and I decided we were not going to participate in any election polls. When you live in a red county in a blue state (with Port-freaking-landia, for God’s sake), and the pollster knows who you are, survival instinct isn’t far from paranoia.

    Backup position, we’d lie if necessary. We loooove us some Hillary/Bernie/Fauxcahontas!

    • A few election cycles ago $HOUSEMATE got a call from $PARTY about supporting $CANDIDATE. The caller was stunned to hear “I hope $CANDIDATE loses big since he’s a $DESCRIPTION kook!” The response to that was on the order of , “Uh, I should you take off our list?” “You should.”

      • Got a call from the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee a couple days ago. I got annoyed because they would not stop – and would let the phone ring and ring and ring (I had forgotten to turn the machine back on).

        I picked it up, and was somewhat more rude than usual (I normally detest even hearing the “F” word…). They were lucky, though, that the “D” in the house wasn’t around at the time. She would have detailed the altitude from which to launch themselves, what is in the pool for which they should aim, etc.

        I should say “D by tradition,” there. I keep trying to have her change over by telling her every cycle that at least I get a choice between raving lunatic and drooling idiot every time, and every so often one that I wouldn’t shoot if they came within ten yards of our children.

      • I got a call to support Obama in 12 and (chipper voice) not to forget to vote. Me “No problem. I’d never forget to vote. I’d crawl over broken glass to vote that communist son of a bitch out of office.”
        WEIRDLY organizing for America never called me again.

      • I got one of those once. The timing happened to coincide with an election in $OTHERCOUNTRY, so I politely informed the pollster that I was registered as $FOREIGNPARTY and voting for $FOREIGNCANDIDATE. No more poll calls for the rest of the month.

      • Michael Houst

        My oldest son took care of the ceaseless pollsters calling all the time. As soon as he could get a word in, he told them he was a member of the Nazi party.
        *click*

    • Why would anyone NOT lie to a pollster? Why would anyone with Caller ID pick up the phone for an unrecognizable number, except to mess with them?

      • Aye! That’s one of the reasons we got Caller ID. (Though the Dish scammers spoofed the ID, but I wised up before giving out too much information.)

        Back in the 2008 election, my wife was still a registered “D”. When the inevitable phone call came asking for support for Hillary (somehow, it hadn’t been decided before the Oregon primary), they were quite surprised when the response was wild laughter. She’s now an “R”, but more a bloody-minded independent.

        The only minor consolation from the last administration; we never found out just how much trouble John McCain could cause for the country as POTUS.

        • Yes. I found it hard to take the never-Trumpers seriously, when most of them had supported McCain–a MUCH worse candidate.

      • Because they have balls?

    • The very fact that you and the wife are thinking that is why the Dems are out right now. They’ve managed to make half the population into The Enemy.

      That’s stupid. Even from a self-serving evil perspective its stupid. You don’t make half the country the Enemy, you make a THIRD of them the Enemy! That way the other two thirds will vote for you.

      DemocRats, bad at math right to the bitter end.

      • That fact is why the Democrats are out right now…and it’s also why they may be in again four years from now. You can win elections with omega males, but you cannot win policy fights with omega males.

        • Not even this one?

          • To paraphrase Warhol, there is nothing more Beta or below than obsessing over status in the Greek alphabet hierarchy.

            • Fine. I will give an example that uses no Greek letters.

              In the 1980s and, to a lesser extent, the 1990s, the future seemed to belong to the GOP. They were cleaning up in the suburbs, which were the fastest-growing communities in the USA.

              Then they won the Congress in 1994.

              The Democrats ate their lunch.

              Why? Contrary to common opinion, the weak point was not Republican politicians. It was their voters.

              The people who moved to the suburbs in the 1960s and 1970s were primarily doing so to run away from Big Mean Black Men. In short, they were cowards.

              Meanwhile, the Democrats were organizing all the BMBM, and BMMM as well, as an informal paramilitary force to control the streets.

              The average suburban bedwetter saw this and decided to let the Democrats have their way.

              A lot of ink and electrons have been spilled talking about how many votes there are in state A or state B. Maybe instead we should consider the intestinal fortitude of those voters.

              • Sarah, this twit is worse than an idiot, he is ignorant and what little knowledge he does own is badly corrupted. He clearly thinks with his penis and it is blatantly inadequate to the task. Rather than waste pixels on debating him I vote for ejection.

              • Blah, blah, blah, more calls to violence, because conservatives are inherently violent, and racist, it says so right in my list of talking points. If I talk violent and racist they will believe I’m one of them, blah blah blah.

    • So basically you decided to give Hillary political momentum rather than take the risk of a 98-pound beta male hitting you.

      Please don’t tell anyone that you and I are on the same side.

      Honestly, I really don’t see why you would brag about this. Or why your wife hasn’t dumped you for a less shameful man.

      • Chill. “Give Hillary political momentum”? By refusing to take part in polls? You’re overreacting, I think.

        • What do you think I am trying to do? I’ll give you a cheat sheet right now: I am trying to encourage Republicans to act like men, so that we can turn the political tide.

      • Ken:
        “If your enemy is making a mistake,” so the ancient martial wisdom goes, “don’t interrupt.”
        Helping the other side to delude themselves that the unelectable harridan is a good, no, great! choice is a brilliant strategic move.

      • Ken — same ken? Lack of contact with reality? A funny way of making friends and influencing people by insulting them?
        Arguably the polls being wrong is what gave Trump the victory. The left didn’t know how much to cheat.
        HOW MUCH did Hillary’s momentum help her again? Is this a parallel universe?

        • Same one…and obviously I know that Trump won the election.

          I also know that far too many Republicans have no balls.

          If Republicans had half the fighting spirit of Antifa, it wouldn’t matter if HRC had won, because she wouldn’t be able to get anything done.

          And since Antifa are a bunch of gender-fluid pansies, what does that say about OUR side?

          • That we have thought long and hard about what unleashing effective violence would do, and don’t want to burn down everything we love if there’s an alternative?

            • If you took 20 random Trump voters and tasked them with eliminating the ENTIRE

              • (sorry, continuing)… Soros command structure, and told them to kill every single person in it, not only would they succeed WITHOUT burning America (or for that matter, many buildings) down; they would win a victory so total that no Leftists would hold any position of power for generations.

                The problem is that the Republicans talking this aren’t random Trump voters, but NRO types who are already dead inside.

                • I call bullshit here: you talk a big violent game, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that in the crunch you’d be pissing yourself and not know which end of a molotov cocktail to light.

            • It seems that Ken has missed that the root of “conservative” is “conserve” and thus conservatives would be adverse to violence, and the attendant destruction that follows, unless absolutely necessary.

          • What does that say about OUR side?

            That we have not confused our politics for our pricks, nor our pricks for our politics?

            • You honestly don’t think there’s a connection between the basic human sex drive and political power?

              • Not in rational adults, although the residual pop-Freud “everything is sex!” is always popular.

                • Even Freud pointed out, “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.”
                  (I think someone’s inner vileprog is showing.)

                • The assertion of correlation between drive for power/drive for sex comes up against the reality of Hillary, screams, and goes scurrying off to cry.

          • It suggests we’ve got a higher rate of being able to think above our beltline.

        • Right now we have a de jure President–Trump–and a de facto president–Obama. This is largely because the Republican control basically goes as far as the White House. Think US presence in Iraq, pre-surge.

        • Yeah, Trump got 782K votes for POTUS in the state. If only I had participated in polling, he would have surpassed the million or so votes for Hillary. Any other futile gestures in mind? (Noting that the only time the Oregon GOPe develops any fire is when they get a challenge from the right. Fah!)

          • Oregon? Hmmm, I recall the Portland Antifa attacked some people there. Why? Because they viewed Republicans as weak old men who would be easy targets.

            Granted, a poll in late October wasn’t the cause of leftist violence in December. However, the same submissive mindset that makes you deny your party also is evident in your everyday life. Antifa can see that, and it boosts their confidence.

        • Patrick Chester

          Well, someone is talking bad about the God Emperor Trump so… REEEEE!!!

          Though his “you voted for a squish before so you must do so again!” bleat above was… sad. Remind me again, what is the definition of insanity?

          • Plus “squish that at recognizes he’s a squish” vs “squish who thinks he’s a brave new face for the party when he’s just a cultural version of the other party that actually has to work with some of their garbage, and so opposes it.”

            Seriously, McCain’s ego is an insane problem– and the solution we’re supposed to embrace is an even bigger ego?

      • I consider it every patriot’s duty to feed false information to the enemy.

        • That is a somewhat dubious proposition, at least as far as applying it here goes.

          However, the above poster specifically stated that he was acting in the interest of his own self-preservation. Thus my contempt for him.

          • A: misdirecting the enemy’s targeting is always a legitimate tactic.

            B: knowing your environment is an important tool of warfare. If I lived in San Francisco or Silicon Valley I would certainly do my best to pass unnoticed among the enemy, the better to plant intellectual land mines in their conversations.

            C: I suspect he, as would I, deems your contempt a badge of honor. Your coin’s no good here, Ken, your respect has negative value.

        • Wow, it’s like you’ve read Sun-Tzu, or Machiavelli, or Miyamoto Musashi, or Clausewitz! (And someone who shall remain nameless thinks the Roman’s plan at Cannae should have worked.)

      • So basically you decided to give Hillary political momentum rather than take the risk of a 98-pound beta male hitting you.

        You do realize Antifa is a thing, right?

        AKA, you don’t have to be big or strong to blow shit up?

      • No, he decided that it wasn’t worth the risk of being the next Brandon Eich, only with far fewer options…. and his wife agreed and encouraged him.

        • Joint decision. ‘Sides, the GOPe here only has loyalty to the GOPe, not the voters. (When Greg Walden endorsed the GOPe candidate who ran as a Democrat after losing the primary to a conservative, it was pretty clear. The RINO lost, but Walden got reelected. Oh well. Next time, maybe. A couple of conservatives are making progress at the state level, finally.)

    • This is why I suspect rates of gun ownership are *vastly* underreported.

      #Random stranger# calls – “Do you have any guns in your possession? How many? What kinds?”

      Callee – “Nope. No guns here.” Hangs up and goes down to the basement to clean AR-15.

      • Yup. This, exactly. Give away certain essential facts about my household to some random stranger calling from a likely-spoofed number that I don’t recognize?
        Yeah, pull the other leg. That one has jingly bells on it.

        • This is admittedly a different issue, since lying to a pollster IN THIS CASE is not about cowardice, but about staying off of lists.

          Nevertheless, lying still helps the anti-2A side, by sending a message to legislators that gun control is helpful to their careers.

          If I were to be asked by a pollster whether I owned firearms, I would answer, “Why don’t you break into my house and find out?”

        • Patrick Chester

          I simply don’t answer the phone if I don’t recognize the number.

          Though I must admit if I ever answered and got a poll I’d be tempted to list my Mass Effect 3 MP manifest. (“I’ve got a ClayMOAR! My krogan Warlord LOVES it! Muahahaha!!!”)

      • Rumour has it that when the Canadian Liberal party created their Long Arm Registry back in the Mid 90’s they were shocked and appalled at the low numbers of firearms that were registered. They were expecting larger numbers. I do believe that there were a lot of firearms that were “lost” in tragic boating accidents all across the country.

        • Or, “Yeah, sorry aboot that, eh? I thought aboot heading down to register my guns, but stuff kept coming up, and I just never got around to it, eh.”

        • [snif] Aye, a tragedy it was. There we were, out for a spring punt, and all of a sudden a SEA MONSTER came up out of the pond and et all my whole collection! [nose blowing!] My poor wee Mauser. Aiee!

      • Michael Houst

        Plenty of places someone could look on-line to find out if I had guns or not.
        But between the martial arts training, military training, fencing, and considering that I have over 10,000 objects in my house that I can use to lethal result, any firearms would merely be icing on the cake.

        My wife’s best friend says if I wasn’t so cute in person, I’d be scary as hell.

  11. @Orvan “I’m starting to lean toward the idea of the Universe as simulation… (If so, we must never truly solve all the problems – when that happens, the simulator is shut down!)”

    Nine Billion Names of God. It’s all true!!!!

  12. I just recently connected with a family member…(ok, my birthfather – long story – who had a few fantastic lies that he’s told himself over the years, one being that names don’t matter, but he was going to change the ones he was given because it wasn’t “true heritage”)…who not only expressed astonishment at the fact that I liked fantasy and science fiction, but absolute disgust because none of that was ‘real.’

    Well of course it isn’t “REAL,” I replied, but it revealed inherent universal truths…to which he added a few more unflattering comments in my direction….and then proceeded to tell me why he changed his name and the history of names (as if I didnt know) and how it all really didnt matter. And I cant even get into some of the justifications for his life he told me when we first started talking that excused some of the more questionable periods of his life.

    Im still trying to decide if I like this man or not.

    Anyway it aggravated me so much that he would so derisively criticize fantasy and science fiction “its not real, its not real” and actually got angry with me when I said reading biographies was rather kind of boring for me (not that I havent read one or two in my lifetime, but lets not kid ourselves that even biographies are prone to suffer a kind of laundering (*coughDreamsOfMyFathercough*). And

    There is something nasty about the implication that fantasy and sci-fi aren’t worthy of cultural retention and appreciation.

    • Whoops – didnt finish my thought there…I think I have a hard time understanding the thought process of someone who DOES NOT read fantasy, or any kind of fiction at least, who is so unable to willingly suspend disbelief because “its not real.” Its almost as if they blank out any ability to derive knowledge of a part of them that makes them who they are, whether they believe in a supreme being or not. Is it because their grade school education was “facts” that they think giving “fantasy/sci-fi” consideration to a seemingly impossible idea is blasphemy? Is it because critical thinking has become so anemic in our education that the actual inductive reasoning of the scientific method IS an impossible idea? What has caused the inflexibility these days?

      I know Ive run across articles in the last couple of decades that has brought this up as well – this seemingly society-wide shutting down of “what-if can-do-ism” that used to be such a part of the Victorian and early 20th century. Was it post-modernism that took it away? Was it the nuclear bomb? Is it because things have become SO technical and material that we’ve lost our sense of wonder and its starting to show up in our more cultural corners? You’re not alone in wondering what the hell is going on, Sarah. For every “realist” I keep encountering who hates fantasy or science fiction, I encounter three people who believe extreme ideas that have had verifiable information, and I cant tell if its because of a lack of proper scientific education or people’s unwillingness to see something greater than themselves. There are all sorts of implications in this question.

      • Damn it. I wish there was an edit button for WordPress comments…

      • “…I keep encountering who hates fantasy or science fiction, I encounter three people who believe extreme ideas that have had verifiable information…”

        That was supposed to be finished off with – have had verifiable information to the contrary…”

        Ugh. This is why I dont write a lot of stuff on the fly.

      • “…this seemingly society-wide shutting down of “what-if can-do-ism” that used to be such a part of the Victorian and early 20th century.”

        I was just thinking this last night. I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy (which was GREAT, imho) and then I visited the book store next door. It is a Chapters, newly renovated, with all new stock.

        The SF section is one side of one rack. The Fantasy side is both sides of one rack. I chanced to pick up Scalzi’s newest, in hardcover. Read the flyleaf. Put it back on the shelf because of this sentence: ” …a race against time to discover what, if anything, can be salvaged from an interstellar empire on the brink of collapse.”

        I do not want to read about some guy trying to salvage stuff from an evil collapsing empire. So I looked around on the half-rack of books, mostly old stuff I’ve either read or decided not to read years ago, and started reading fly-leaves. Post-apocalyptic this, pre-colapse that, crushing tyranny the other, with misery and suffering for all. Any story where something nice happens is a Mary Sue, wish fulfillment joke and not fit for publication.

        It is a STYLE. A fashion. It had become fashionable to daydream of the apocalypse, when all our works come crashing down and all our dreams are turned to dust, and we are left with nothing.

        I can tell you when it happened too. In the Seventies. I was in high school. We were told it was over. We all just decided we were probably going to die in atomic fire, and stopped giving a shit. I remember planning ways to preserve my music collection and my sound system, so that the grand-kids would be able to hear the grooves of the Good Times, before it all fell apart. That was grade 11 I think. Maybe grade 10. Ever since, half my mind has been planning my Bug Out, for when it hits the fan. Its depressing.

        Of late, it has become fashionable to ARRANGE the post-apocalypse. The Liberal Party of Ontario has deliberately made electricity too expensive for people to use. Their pious hope is that we will all reduce, reuse and recycle our way into the future, each of us having the carbon footprint of a Kalahari Bushman. And we will, because we will be living like Bushmen. Suddenly my Bug Out plan is looking a lot less tinfoil hat than it used to. That’s even more depressing.

        Well, what’s going to turn that around? WE ARE. We, the writers of the future. SciFi writers of the early 20th Century wrote the Apollo program into being. JFK wouldn’t have given a single damn about a moon program if not for Heinlein and all the others like him. We.Write.The.Future.

        Why is Trump talking about Mars? Because IT IS AN ADVENTURE, and the USA needs an adventure. Trump gets by on giving people what they want, and he knows what the Americans of Trumpland want is the communist monkey off their back, and some goddamn adventure in life. They want to build stuff! They don’t want to be misers, hoarding every watt of electricity in new and inventive ways.

        My future is full of amazing spacecraft, massive, ridiculous WEALTH, and sexy women. I can write -anything- so that’s what I want to write.

        • Sounds as if I need to bump the RajWorld books forward in the queue. Humans spread out, kick butt, take names, and give some would-be invaders a really nasty surprise. (“Was it supposed to be this easy?” “Probably not, but they don’t have to know that.”)

        • I am not sure that the end in the US came during the Eighties, although we probably started circling the drain in the Seventies. The Shuttle program was a series of horrible scalebacks and compromises, the space-faring equivalent of setting out to buy a new sportscar and coming home in a minivan. But when Reagan proposed the Space Defense Initiative it caused the Liberals to reject and ridicule Space, which meant we were never going there again, at least not via government programs. Things like that have to be bipartisan and the American Left are masters of souring grapes.

        • Michael Houst

          Considering that those of us who grew up in the 60’s and 70’s before the Wall came down KNEW we were all going to be in a nuclear war, and only the lucky ones not killed immediately, who had the training, and knowledge, and the will, would survive; we’re kind of adrift since the world didn’t end in 1999, 2001, 2012, or whatever.

          But I still like playing role playing games, enjoy good war stories, follow the discoveries in physics and astronomy, and DREAM.

        • So you wouldn’t want to read Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy?

          • I read it, back in the day. Not my favorite, by a long shot. But even there, he’s -building- something, not trying to escape the Armies of Night pushing a barrow full of family heirlooms.

            Maybe I’m being unfair to Johnny baby, but I bet I’m not.

      • Whether I read fiction or non-fiction depends on mood. I tend to read way more non-fiction. I don’t recall my father ever reading non-fiction, yet I know he did, because he insisted on me reading Treasure Island because it was his favorite at that age, and I know he read adventures and mysteries. He also enjoyed Star Trek, and watched every space launch he could. The Sunday morning Columbia first launched, I was home and found him already up and we watched it together.

        Yet every book I saw him read was non-fiction. It was either how-to, or the bible, or bible commentary. No, I take that back. He used to read me the funny pages in the news paper. But that was all.

        Did he turn up his nose at fiction? Not at all. It just that by then he read mostly for practical reasons.

        His fiction reading may have dropped off for the same reason mine did: A lack of enjoyable reads locally combined with age related difficulty reading small print. Non-fiction read for a specific purpose justified the “work.” Once I got a Kindle, I found that easier to read and more books to my liking, and my fiction reads shot up. Yet I still read more non-fiction.

    • It takes a surprisingly brief period of reading biographies to recognize them for the fictions they are. They may be based on fact, but they are an artist’s interpretation of an array of confusing and often contradictory facts.

      For that matter, read any history written by Howard Zinn or his followers (ooohhh! name for an evil cult: The Disciples Of Zinn!) to recognize that all History is fiction, too, and conveys as much about its authors’ Zeitgeist as about the events depicted.

      If you doubt me, consider alternate histories of the Napoleonic Wars, one written by the Brits and one by the French. Or pustulate* what the Neo-Nazis serve as History of the Third Reich.

      *Sic- very sic

      • “Every great man nowadays has his disciples, and it is usually Judas who writes the biography.” ― Oscar Wilde

        As to the rest of your comment – do you realize that you are echoing the doctrines of the postmodernist Left? “There is no historical truth, only narratives constructed to serve the ends of power.”

        • I am not endorsing the doctrines of the Disciples of Zinn, I am pointing out they constitute self-fulfilling prophecies. Their having abandoned any effort to separate facts from narrative does not mean historians must follow their lead, but those who don’t get scant honor for it.

          When people welcome cubic zirconium the market for diamonds is impaired.

  13. The fact about fiction, whether SF or F is that your lies must be true lies. I am sure there is a quote from Chesterton or CS Lewis making that point, but I feel no need to find it. Facts is facts and people who openly lie for their livelihoods must provide a patina of credibility to their tales. People buy your lies because that’s what they want.

    This does not apply to those in the real world who wield the power to make people eat the lies they’re told. Nobody with any sense or merest glimmer of understanding could have believed the “If you like your health insurance …” lie because every, every single health insurance policy is valid only so long as its contract is in effect –typically one year or less. Changes in circumstances mean a “new” policy will replace it, with a slightly different pharmacopoeia, a few different doctors, minor changes in what is covered in and out of network. Your old policy has expired and been replaced with a new one, and that’s all there is to it.

    While the shill promoting that lie may actually believe it, that doesn’t void his duty to have learned the truth and responsibility for reporting it. But that doesn’t matter, because you didn’t “buy” the lie, you had it forced down your gullet with or without sugar coating.

    The distinction between true lies and that other kind is a matter of choice, exercised or denied, willing or unwilling.

    • Chester struggled to hold the heavy lead brick. His arms ached with the strain and his finger burned with the pain. He stumbled and let go to try to break his fall. Chester watched in astonishment as the brick that had seemed as if it wanted to bury itself in the earth instead fell up and floated away.

      Now, either something very interesting is going on, or I blew the whole premise away.

    • I get the sense that part of it is training. Witness the reaction to Comey’s firing on Tuesday. In the morning, he was Nixon Incarnate, while by the evening, he was Saint Comey, fired by Nixon Incarnate.
      I refuse to watch Colbert, but I gather he turned the crowd around in a minute after they wildly cheered the news of Comey’s firing.

  14. Christopher M. Chupik

    If reality is a simulation we need to fire the programmers for gross incompetence.

    • “Dear Universe, I need to file a bug report…”

      • “‘Tis not a bug, my son, but a feature!”

        • The world of Microsoft?
          (Or Computer Associates?)
          “I say it’s spinach…”

          • Christopher M. Chupik

            I mean, there’s the whole “moonshot” storyline that was dropped for no good reason, the annoying “SJW” comic relief which isn’t funny anymore, and don’t get me started on that ridiculous “election” thing last season . . .

        • And after the game has ended, I’m going to hunt down the limp beak who designed humans with crappy knees, spines, dietary problems, the need to diet, puberty, menopause, difficult childbirth . . . and wrap seven of my tentacles around zer while my primary tentacle picks up a refhur and rearranges zits features until zer looks like a bug.

    • Consider the far scarier premise that the programmers are not only competent, but are actually working to specification.

      What that says about the entity behind the whole thing, whether it be a god or whatever else might be up for it, well… Doesn’t bear thinking about, does it?

      Ever notice how people get into torturing Sims? Ever note the rather disturbing similarity between Sim torture, and daily life around you? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?

      Consider Swift, as applied to Sims:

      So, naturalists observe, a flea

      Hath smaller fleas that on him prey;

      And these have smaller still to bite ’em,

      And so proceed ad infinitum.

      Thus, every poet, in his kind,

      Is bit by him that comes behind.

      Perhaps when we torture Sims, we are merely recapitulating what someone at another level of simulation is doing to us. Work out your frustrations on an innocent Sim, because of turmoil and travail in your daily life, that is itself the artifact of another entity playing with the settings on your simulation, to work out their frustrations, which are in turn caused by the same thing being done to them.

      Anyone ever considered the possibility that the reason we don’t see to much of God these days is that he’s grown a bit bored and jaded with the game, and is letting it run, while he plays the equivalent of COD? Or, that he’s matured past the Sims and Civilization, and is just letting the game run out on the system…?

      Watched a friend of the family show me how they were goofing with their Sim characters, and the general mayhem they got up to, doing that. I couldn’t quite put my finger on why that disturbed me on such a visceral level, at the time, but I think that I now know why it bothered me: What that says about the reality of the human condition, and the chance that what’s going wrong in our own reality might be just some bored teenager-equivalent screwing around to kill time…

      • What you’re saying is similar in some ways (though different in a few other, important, ways) to some of the official teachings of the Bible about God. For example, after Jesus’ death and resurrection, he told his disciples, “I’m going back to heaven, and I’m giving you the job of going to all the world and teaching them to be my disciples as well.” Being God himself, Jesus was perfectly capable of staying on Earth and spreading the message himself all over the world, but instead he chose to leave it up to his disciples and those who would follow them in later years, including me.

        Where that’s similar is in your concept of God taking a hands-off approach. The Bible does show us a picture of God saying “I’m going to let the humans do what they choose to do, whether that’s good or evil. I’ll tell them the consequences of their choices, but then I’ll let them have a real choice, and let the consequences play out.” Occasionally he does intervene to nudge things in a chosen direction, but for the most part he lets the evil people do evil, and the good people do good, and the consequences of both sets of actions play out. And there are parts of the Bible, such as Psalm 10, that are basically saying “Hey God, why don’t you intervene to stop the evil people? They just get away with whatever they want to do, and it sucks!”

        But the difference is that in your Sims analogy, it’s because the player truly doesn’t care about the Sims that he’s playing with, because they aren’t truly real. Whereas the Bible’s message is that God does care, and even though he allows people to make evil choices, he hates what they’re doing, and at some point he’s going to step in and judge everyone for what they’ve done, good and evil. He delays that day of judgement far longer than we would, for his own reasons, but he does so not because he’s bored or indifferent, but because he’s giving everyone chance after chance to voluntarily turn away from evil.

        I won’t go into further details since this is already bordering on theology, and Sarah has asked us not to argue about theology. But I wanted to point out the interesting fact that your “God is indifferent or bored” theory is actually almost in line with actual Christian doctrine, which says that God is NOT indifferent at all but that he has chosen to allow us LOTS of freedom to do good or evil, and that our choices truly matter.

        • I kind of like to think of this reality as prep school — what we do here doesn’t much matter except as it prepares us for what comes once we’re done here.

          It isn’t that he is indifferent, it is just that none of this ultimately matters.

  15. Pingback: Trump remains lucky in his choice of enemies – It's Karl

  16. “even if they managed to remove Trump, they’d just get Pence. And if they removed HIM they’d get (I THINK) Ryan.”

    Yep, and Pence (in my opinion) would actually be worse (for the Dems) than Trump is. I think that if they just took him seriously (or acted like they were) and really attempted to work WITH Trump, the Democrats would probably be able to make some “deals” with him. Sure, they wouldn’t get EVERYTHING they want (usually the best deals are the ones where nobody walks away completely happy), but they would have a chance to persuade him to see things their way. Right now, they are just the obstinate opposition. Pence, on the other hand, has always hit me as someone who would be able to actually work with the Republicans in congress and maybe get some things done (for good or ill), all without having to bother with the Democrats. Sure, they would oppose as much as possible, but they already look ridiculous with their absolute opposition to EVERYTHING. If they managed to get rid of Trump, they would REALLY look bad if they repeated the same cry-baby tactics with Pence. After all, they would have gotten what they wanted, right?

    “Worse, it makes our enemies think we’re on the verge of civil war (I don’t think we are)”

    Frankly, I can’t honestly say that I think we aren’t… or that we at least aren’t heading in that direction. I for one am buying a little bit extra each time I’m at the store and squirreling it away just in case.

    • Personally Im happy that the Democrats are so stubbornly intractable in their refusal to work with Trump. A) Theyre in the minority right now…and the angrier and stupid-er they are in insulting most of Americans and doubling down on their intolerance, the longer their minority status will last. I can live with that! B) They are nothing if not the perfect lesson for us all in the true nature of their political philosophy. They demonstrate to a whole new generation of people just how irredeemable their socialist and double-speak ideas, their group-think and opposing interests are. I WANT THAT TO BE SEEN IN FULL COLOR ALL THE TIME.

      Its the crap-head so-called GOPe owka “Republicans” that really burn my butt and if I had a magic wand, I’d wish McCain, McConnell, Graham, and Ryan away. Theyre the ones causing the real harm to the way we’re governed.

      • I’d wish something rather more drastic on McCain. But that is from personal experience of living in his fiefdom…

        • I’ve been back in Arizona since ’87, and the singular time I’ve voted for McCain wasn’t a Senatorial election. I’ve voted “D”, “L”, and Mickey Mouse, but never McCain.

    • “Worse, it makes our enemies think we’re on the verge of civil war (I don’t think we are)”

      One of the reasons I moved away from the east coast is the growing feeling of uncertainty, that *something* is going to happen in the near future. Much as I enjoy “Escape from New York,” I have no intention of living it.

      • That was part of my thinking when moving from Maryland between Baltimore and DC to east Tennessee.

      • I am glad to be living in Texas since 1995 – for the very same reason. Something bad is heading our way, and I have a sense that Texas may be the best place to ride it out.

      • In our area, a fair number of folks never forgot the Modoc Indian War, but I have far more in common with them than the inhabitants of the big cities west of the Cascades.

        I have family living not too far from Chicago. I worry about them.

      • Oh, something is. We’re going to catch at least one nuke. But not civil war. Some places will have/already have civil unrest. But not civil war.

        • *imagines story with something like a giant baseball bat made of energy knocking nuke back to sender, postage due* Can we do catch and release?

          • Interesting story idea, but what I’d expect is more of a PIK. (Re)Payment-In-Kind. With interest.

            Hrmm… the gadget fails to go off, is discovered due to the mistimed claims announcing it. It gets a little work done on it.. “Cute little thing you had there. It almost worked. Now it does. By the way, we took the liberty of boosting it some. Bye!”

          • To be honest, that sounds like something from a Green Lantern comic from the ’60s. 🙂

        • The nuke, I’m not so much worried about. One bomb, two bomb, no big deal. It’s not existential. Life will go on, routing around the damage.

          What scares the shit out of me? Recombinant DNA and CRISPR in the hands of some loony tune like Kim. We’re not far enough along the curve to have good defenses against things like re-engineered mouse pox, just yet, and I don’t see any open-source evidence that there’s quite enough work being done. As well, with the CDC having been weaponized as a political agency, nobody is working this crap the way they should be. I’m not at all convinced that we got the bastards behind the 9/11-era anthrax attacks, either–There’s a lot of disturbing things about that whole deal to a well-read layman, and the various actual experts I know who did WMD stuff while I was in the Army were less than reassuring, when talking to them within and without the strictures imposed by security classification.

          I think there are a lot of really iffy things that have happened, and which we may well look back at and go “How did we miss that…?”. West Nile virus, for example–I’m told, by sources that should have known what the hell they were talking about, that for that disease to have spread from its initial east coast lodgement area to the west coast naturally should have taken around a decade-plus; it happened in years, and ohbytheway, the hopscotch manner in which the cases crossed the US seems to have an awful lot of correlation with US universities and colleges that had a large population of Middle Eastern students. Discussing this point of reference with a couple of my biological WMD-expert acquaintances earned me multiple “Oh, good boy! Now you get it…” looks, and a severely amount of disquiet in my gut.

          I never heard anything on the high side about that issue, so I don’t know for sure if there was anything to my suspicions, but the reactions I got about that stuff when I talked about it with qualified people that might have been “in the loop”, officially… Disturbing. I think we’ve already had at least one bio-warfare incident in this country, and I’m not talking about anthrax, either.

          • Feather Blade

            an awful lot of correlation with US universities and colleges that had a large population of Middle Eastern students.

            Is that a matter of the students deliberately bringing virus samples (…mosquito smaples?) and releasing them, or of them having the virus in their system and getting bitten by local mosquitoes?

            • You tell me… If you were to model an attempted attack on American agriculture with West Nile, conducted by various half-ass semi-competents, and then template the way it actually spread…? While comparing it to the template for what a “natural spread” should have been?

              Of course, there’s a lot of crap that might be involved here, part of which I’m told was that we didn’t take the threat seriously, and did not quarantine or sequester livestock transfers the way we should have.

              I don’t know that what happened was an attack, but I do know that there was a lot of “unexpected” in the way the virus spread. I remember reading that the “experts” were predicting that it would be in the Northwest US by 2020, at the expected rate of spread–And, then we were getting cases in the mid-2000s. Something’s off with all of it, whether it was our understanding of how the disease spread, or something else.

              Interestingly, the strain we now have here in the US is supposedly genetically very similar to the one we sent Saddam’s Ministry of Health, back when we were still credulous and stupid. Coincidence? False information I was given? Dunno. I’d sure like to know, for certain, however.

          • As well, with the CDC having been weaponized as a political agency, nobody is working this crap the way they should be.

            Yes– this TERRIFIES me.

            Especially when you add in that various vaccine distributing groups have been caught doping up vaccines to manipulate large populations, and the bone-dumb move of letting it be known how we found Bin Laden, they’ve set up a situation where there’s an insane amount of resistance to emergency inoculation steps….and they’re right, there is a risk of people doing something “for your own good.”

            • “Especially when you add in that various vaccine distributing groups have been caught doping up vaccines to manipulate large populations”

              Is there a cite on that? I come across it occasionally in tinfoil hat type sites, but never anything believable.

              • C’mon, Man! This is the Internet in the Age of Trump (or of Trump Derangement Syndrome)! It doesn’t have to be true, it merely needs to be (semi-)credible. As observers of the MSM all acknowledge, that bar is now so low that an ant can’t limbo under it.

              • Oh, sure, ask a question like that when I have to limit to one link. 😀

                Like most of the crazy stuff on those sites, there’s something involved, but it’s radically different than “flu shots will wilt your willy” type things. For starters, there isn’t any secret involved in the research to make a birth control vaccine, nor that the trick is to introduce the “pregnancy hormone” with tetanus– it works by tricking the woman’s system into identifying the hormone as a disease. Last I heard, the issue was making it reversible. I’ve heard of other diseases being tried, but haven’t seen anything solid, and it’s the tetanus version that was figured out just before these scandals.

                The best documented is the one in Kenya’s Catholic areas in ’14– Life Site News had an entire series on it, including the fishy business in testing the vaccines. (Given that it’s Kenya, there may be non-nefarious reasons for the gov’ts strange behavior– but it sure does look bad.) Here’s the Kenyan Bishop’s Conference’s letter, the report on the vaccine examination, and a slideshow that’s basically select chunks of the vaccine examination:
                http://www.kccb.or.ke/home/news-2/3451/

                There’s not as much good stuff online, but the ’95 scandal in Mexico and the Philippines (and some other places), again with contaminated tetanus vaccine, again WHO/UNICEF. Short form of that was something like “Hey, we noticed a bunch of miscarriages and women reporting unexpected menstruation, we tested the vaccines, they’ve got pregnancy hormone in them.” WHO: “No they don’t!” “*provide evidence*” WHO: “Well, OK, there’s some– but NOT MUCH!”

                ********

                My bet would be on a relatively small group contaminating vaccines to “save” women from the horrors of motherhood– kind of like the documented involuntary sterilizations in the US were usually lone activist doctors and their support.

              • Polio’s making a comeback in Pakistan because the Taliban has convinced people that the Polio vaccine has a sterilizing agent.

                • Possible source of it (warning, huge wall o’text)
                  http://journals.plos.org/plosmedicine/article?id=10.1371/journal.pmed.0040073

                  Do you know if they’re using the modified live virus there, too?
                  I know that live vaccines are a bear to use at a branding chute– I don’t even want to imagine what would be required to use them safely in a rural and remote situation. No wonder there’s vaccine related outbreaks. (The US uses the dead, injectable type– but that’s more expensive and you have to have REALLY trained people give it, while the oral vaccine is relatively inexpensive and you can easily train volunteers to do it.)

    • scott2harrison

      I think that we are on the verge of extreme violence. I don’t think it will go to civil war unless the police are stupid enough to try to protect the rioters.

        • And what have the cops in California been doing for the past year? San Diego, Berkeley, Sacramento, etc.

      • Those would likely be in Democrat-run cities, and most likely the mayor will send the police to protect the rioters.

      • The Democratic run People’s Cities in the deepest blue states are a safe location for the Antifas to play their revolutionary LARPing games.
        The local governments view them with the same indulgent, benevolent eye that the parent of a badly spoiled child views little Rainblossom’s screaming tantrums. And the little brat knows that Mummy will replace any toys he destroys in his little fit, while facing no possibility of punishment.

        I would be concerned if the actual property destroying demonstrations were to start happening outside the Blue enclaves.

        • Most folks don’t care if the Denizens of Teh People’s Cities soil their nappies; it isn’t our job to change them.

          Not our job to rebuild them or even finance such rebuilding.

          But we vote for our law enforcement and civic leaders based on how well the prevent such tantrumming in our neighborhoods.

      • Michael Houst

        Not enough nation-wide organization to support a civil war. Part of the reason why the Civil War happened was you had state legislators and governors actively planning secession. That’s not happening at the state level, and there are no state or national leaders recognized by anyone to do so.

        What we may get is flare ups of regional extreme lethal and destructive violence; most likely in urban and suburban areas. That may be what FEMA and Co have in mind by giving away armored cars to police organizations around the country. Trouble is, I’m not sure they, or even the police that use them, realize just how easy it is to plan to trap, disable, and destroy those armored vehicles.

        • Thing is, I’m less than convinced that the Antifa crew understands that either–or , for that matter, anything else involving violence. As near as I can tell, whenever confronted on anything like equal terms they go down and go down hard.

          • they don’t expect anyone to fight back. DECADES of movies about the “righteous” always winning and an unshakeable certainty they’re the “righteous” makes it impossible for them to conceptualize “losing”

            • The righteous do always win.

              The cost getting there, and how long it takes?

              Oh my stars and whiskers!

              And that’s before the issue of “is this righteous or not” comes in….

              Our author doesn’t do Plot Armor. For heaven’s sake, look how the star characters are treated! Even if you decide to ignore Jesus as self-insertion, look at His mom– married, widowed early, then watches her beloved only son being horrifically tortured and killed, which in addition to the obvious horror would mean that she’s going to die in a gutter because, duh, no Christian social programs yet, the surrounding culture figured that “leave unwanted infants to die on a hill” was decent treatment.

              Did anybody have an easy, comfortable life? At all?

          • From what I’ve seen, when confronted by anyone with any training in the controlled commission of violence (i.e. anyone with any real training or experience in fighting) they fold like a cheap suit.

          • “I have lead lined gloves, and I’m hyped up to attack these guys! They’re disarmed! I will sucker-punch this guy with a buzz cut and a button-down shirt in the throat– HOLY FLEEP HE HIT BAAAAAaaa….ack.”

        • More likely 1980s Beirut on a continental scale.

          That… would not be pretty

    • I don’t trust Pence.His overall political record is conservative, but everything about him screams “beta male.”

      It’s like the way, several years back, the Powers That Be in the GOP tried to sell us on Mitch Daniels. They actually tried to say he was a BETTER choice because his wife took a holiday on their marriage with another man.

      “Yes, Biker Bill. You should vote for this man who let another man get busy with his wife, since we need a strong man to confront North Korea and Iran.”

      • All this babbling about beta and omega males makes me wonder if someone isn’t projecting some confidence issues. But hey: the keyboard is mightier then the sword, or something like that.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          I’m just ignoring him.

        • Patrick Chester

          Some folk seem to think being alpha means you have to be a jerk to anyone in your way. I suspect that’s the stance of betas who think they’re alpha, at least.

          • Now Patrick, these guys have spent good time and money reading and learning how to Reach Your Full Alpha Potential.
            Those books and seminars on Game aren’t cheap, you know.
            So you get these internet based chest thumping self proclaimed Alpha males that come across as pretty much hollow and false. The promised transformation into manly men is the equivalent of a cardboard mask.
            You get someone who thinks he’s Ron Swanson, but is more like little wannabe Tom.

          • Look at the middle east– being an ass is an easy way to show that you are stronger, because nobody has killed you yet. Correlation error, and it really errors out when, say, the yapper-dog mistakes my ignoring his yapping for FEAR, and tries to take a chunk out of my leg.

            It’s also bad programming, because the “Be an ass to show you’re strong” means that there is a lot of energy used up in posturing; the idea that true strength doesn’t have to prove it all the time– the philosophy that gave the phrase “pissing match” its negative connotations in our culture– means that a whole lot of resources that would go into proving worth are instead available for demonstrating it.

      • For those wondering what the flip Ken is gossiping about– Mitch Daniels is divorced and remarried.

        It’s a scandal, because he remarried the same woman.

        …suddenly I can’t get all those stories about the scandal of that football player who has like six kids, all with the same woman, and they’re married! SINCE BEFORE THE FIRST ONE!
        /gasp

        Clearly, he has sexual issues. *eyeroll*

  17. I am bemused, and have been for a while, by people who draw the border between SF and fantasy as “SF is about things that are scientifically valid or plausible; fantasy is about things that aren’t.” This goes back at least to E.E. Smith, who maintained that Skylark was fantasy, but Lensman was science fiction—Lensman, a series that had FTL, hyperspatial tubes that took you to other universes, subetheric physics (which implies an “ether”), and a whole raft of psi powers. In fact, if you think about it, many classics of science fiction contain things that aren’t scientifically plausible, and often weren’t even scientifically plausible when they were written; when H.G. Wells wrote The Food of the Gods, for example, he knew perfectly well that he was violating the square-cube scaling relationship.

    Where I draw the line is that science fiction asks you to believe its fantastic premises because it appeals to scientific concepts/the advance of technology/the future where more scientific progress has taken place/realms revealed or created by science where things might be different, from the depths of the sea to cyberspace. Fantasy asks you to believe its fantastic premises because they’re familiar from myth, legend, or fairy tales/they contain things that you’ve read about in such old stories/they appeal to “magic,” which pervades such stories/they take place in realms reached by supernatural means. It’s not a question of truth to reality but of rhetorical strategy. (And “horror” appeals to “you can believe this because it sounds terrifyingly plausible and it makes you want to pull the covers over your head.”)

    • I think I’d phrase it a bit differently, although we’re probably saying the same thing: SF tries to couch its fantastical elements in scientific/physical world rationales (even if only alluded to), while fantasy either doesn’t try to rationalize its fantastical elements or does so with supernatural rationales. Yes, that’s pretty much off the top of my head and very likely could use some deeper thinking-about.

    • Science fiction develops its world from concepts that have not been declared “Impossible!” According to current science. Which all too often shifts tomorrow. One reason to get a science fiction series wrapped up and done with as quickly as possible is to make it out the other side before the first book or two are rendered “fantasy” by current science.

      Every bit of science fiction I read, I read in historical context. At the time EES was developing the Lensman world – well, M-M had shown that an ether was not necessary, not that it does not exist. He also used one of the best theories for the time about how planetary systems come to be. (And we still have hyperspatial gates – aka wormholes.)

      Something very much like the ether has been seeping back into astrophysics lately…

      • “Something very much like the ether has been seeping back into astrophysics lately…”

        Are you referring to dark matter/energy? I’ve noticed a number of scientists who are questioning those as constructions needed to make the standard model work. Rather than adding unobservable elements to make the model work, wouldn’t it make more sense to examine the model to see why it doesn’t match observations of reality?

        • Questioning the model, eh? Does that make you a Dark Energy Denier? (Braces for incoming carp.)

          • Well, the dark energy would have to have a really high denier value to be able to influence gravity as much as is posited, and I don’t think any fabric composed of it would be nearly so easy to travel through as our universe is. 😉

            • so easy to travel through as our universe is
              Do you know something I don’t? Or perhaps we just have different definitions of “easy” 😉

              • All I’m saying is that any space-time fabric with a dark matter/energy denier high enough to provide the observed gravitational effects would be so dense as to make travel more difficult.

            • :”Dark” energy?? RAAAAACIST!!!1111!!!

            • in one of my sketched-out sci-fi series, the 23rd century Progressives are screaming how we’re using up dark energy too fast and its going to run out if we don’t use it carefully…

              • Patrick Chester

                Funny you should mention that. The Mass Effect series used dark energy to provide the titular “Mass Effect” used in the tech of the 2180s. In the 2nd game there was a minor plotline about studying the effects of dark energy on various things. Like Haestrom’s sun getting too old too quick.

                As much as I disliked the 3rd game’s ending, I had a sinking feeling that they were going to make a “space environmentalism” storyline with the Reapers being a way to reduce the damage of “too much dark energy” by periodically wiping out interstellar civilizations.

                The whole “we wipe out civilizations so they won’t be destroyed by rogue AI” thing was bad, but not as bad as that.

                [Granted I never finished the game. Saw some Let’s Plays and cutscenes and got depressed. I think it was the Leviathan thing that really killed it since it was the last quest I played before stopping. “We are the apex species, we had lesser races worshipping us as gods! But they kept building synthetic servants/AIs that rebelled and wiped them out, which reduced our tribute. So we built an AI to solve the problem. It built an army of robots, attacked us and used our remains to make the first Reaper!” Me: *facepalm* ]

        • I’ve occasionally wondered if there’s really much difference between “Dark Matter” and “Invisible Pink Unicorns,” except that the first sounds so much more scientific. It also seems that if you have undetectable matter and undetectable energy, and you can add as much of both as you need to make your equations work, I’m not sure if there’s any model you CAN’T declare to be right.

          • I have a personal suspicion that what is REALLY happening is Newton’s law of gravity not being quite true on a cosmic scale.

            • Mine is that what works here for physics may not necessarily work quite the same way, elsewhere in the universe.

              Ever wonder why dinosaur brains were so small, compared to what we see in today’s animals? What if what killed the poor things wasn’t an asteroid, but the change in latent electron speed/quantum complexity/whatever as the solar system traversed a change zone where some basic physical laws are a little “off” from where they were when the dinosaurs evolved? Maybe bigger brains weren’t necessary, because they were able to be more efficient? And, when the conditions changed, making every large animal dumb as a brick, they went extinct.

              I think someone wrote a story about this sort of thing–I vaguely remember reading one where the solar system shifted back into a zone where the laws were more akin to the dinosaur era, and suddenly just about everything on the planet was sentient, while humans were damn near gods in terms of mentation.

              • I think someone wrote a story about this sort of thing

                Poul Anderson, Brain Wave. 1953.

                Wikiscription:
                At the end of the Cretaceous period, Earth moved into an energy-damping field in space. As long as Earth was in this field, all conductors became more insulating. As a result, almost all of the life on Earth with neurons died off, causing the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event. The ones that survived passed on their genes for sufficiently capable neurons to deal with the new circumstance. Now in modern times, Earth suddenly moves out of the field. Within weeks all animal life on Earth becomes about 5 times as intelligent. The novel goes through the triumphs and tribulations of various people and non-human animals on Earth after this event.

                The book opens with a lyrical description of a rabbit, stuck inside a trap, becoming able to reason his way out. This is a common theme in the book. Animal traps are based on the idea that the animals cannot reason their way out of them. When the animals get the ability to reason, they start escaping.

                Institutions which seemed to be vital to human society, such as a money economy and centralized government, disappear in North America; while Africans, with the assistance of chimpanzees, overcome colonial rule, and Chinese rebel against the Communist government. However, some of the means by which people cope with the “Change” are inventing new anti-scientific religions such as the Third Ba’al, or adopting pseudo-science.

                As humans develop interstellar travel, they discover no other races are as intelligent as they; other races developed pre-Change intelligence, and there was no environmental pressure to select for higher intelligence after that.
                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brain_Wave

                Anderson apparently considered it one of his top five books. That puts it in pretty good company.

                • The one I remember is kinda the same, but different… I can’t recall reading that book, at all, from the synopsis in Wikipedia. I wonder if there was a short story predecessor that I caught somewhere?

                  Either that, or I created that idea out of the whole cloth, which I doubt. I swear there was another story along these lines, written in the 1970s. Did he update the damn thing for an anthology, I wonder…?

                  I suppose another alternative is that I’m remembering it from my time in an alternate universe, where they spell “vacuum” with an “a” in it…

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Somebody “published” part of it titled “The Cage” which shows the rabbit escaping from the trap. Note, this was in the Kindle Store.

                • Thank you Res – I was about to dig. Hmm. Kirk, must have been an alternate universe, I cannot think of a single other work that matches your description. However, the Wiki description is, IMHO, not very good. I’d have a hard time matching it up with the novel I read way back in the 1960s. It seems to be written by an SJW, actually – virtually nothing about the very strong characters and personal conflicts that Anderson created for it.

                  • The one I remember lacked all the soap opera, concentrated on the effect on the domestic animals and so forth, while discussing the reasoning that a paleontologist used to arrive at a conclusion supporting the idea that that was what killed the dinosaurs off…

                    It wasn’t that Poul Anderson book, I’m almost certain. There were some key scenes with a set of chickens suddenly outsmarting a fox that was coming after them, and the fox realizing that it wasn’t really into killing other intelligent creatures, either… Whole thing was pretty surreal, from my memory.

                    I wonder if what I’m remembering was from my fanfic kick, but I would swear I checked this one out of the library…?

                    • Well, that definitely isn’t the Anderson.

                      Actually sounds more like one that would have hit my wall – but means I wouldn’t have forgotten it, either…

              • Poul Anderson’s _Brain Wave_ (1953) is probably the story you’re referring to. It’s a really fine novel, written very early in his career.

        • I’ve long suspected that the existing models are fundamentally flawed. Very reminiscent of the Ptolomaic epicycles…used to prop up the Earth-centric Solar System model.

        • A physicist in Scotland has a proposal about quantized inertia that does away with problems of dark matter red shift and some others. I have not read the math he has published nor am i a physicist. (Engineer with mathmatical physicist tendencies). I cannot say if its corrdct or a better approximation but he did work out ths math and talks about it openly. He may be wrong but is not I thi k a charlatan. Look for Physics from the Edge.

        • About right. This is the latest manifestation of an “ether” – that (if the math happens to match the real world, heh) eliminates the need for “dark” anything.

          Basically, the notion is that an accelerating mass encounters Unruh radiation (a fallout from quantum field theories) asymmetrically, which has a similar effect as if the mass is moving through a “fluid.” As a bonus, it appears that this may explain the oddities of the “EM Drive.”

          (For more, Google “Unruh radiation” and “Physics From the Edge.” Not going to give Sarah a nervous breakdown trying to make sure I’m not slipping a Mickey into a bunch of links…)

      • I would add that sci-fi is willing to “grandfather” in concepts that were once considered scientifically plausible but now have been dismissed. I would put most psionic powers in that category, for example (FTL is a little harder to determine). In the 60s, there seemed to be a large number of people who really did believe that we had all these neurons sitting around that we just weren’t using, and if we could only figure out how to use them, we’d have all kinds of mental powers. That’s mostly been debunked at this point, but sci-fi still allows telepaths and even more exotic psionics.

        • Well, for one thing, the idea that we only use some small percentage of our brains never had any scientific foundation in the first place. I don’t think it’s even clear where it came from; I haven’t seen anyone point to a published work by a research psychologist or neurologist that makes such a claim. As far as I can tell, it’s pure urban legend.

          • I can’t point you to a source, but I have heard that we only use a small percentage of our brains at any given time, but which part it is changes considerably. For example, when you’re busy solving differential equations, the part of your brain that knows how to play Mozart sonatas is distinctly quiet and vice versa. However, pretty much all of the neurons get used at some point without needed to resort to using their energy to set the trashcan on fire.

            For anyone who thought about it logically, the idea that we’re carrying around a whole bunch of useless brain tissue would obviously be pretty stupid: do you have any idea how much energy it takes to create and maintain that brain matter? However, it’s a myth that seems to persist; there was a successful movie based on the “you only use 10% of your brain premise” just a couple of years ago. Maybe it falls in the case of we just want it to be true that we’re capable of magic if only we could figure out how.

          • Much like many things we see today, I think it came from a “science writer” that was told something like “there are many parts of the brain that we don’t know what they do” and translated that into “there are many parts of the brain that are not used.”

        • Michael Houst

          Well, since medical research seems to indicate that we use just about all of the parts of our brains at least some of the time; activating all of the brain at the same time isn’t likely to make much of a difference in our overall smarts. How you think appears to make a difference. What you’ve learned (and memorized), and how much, does make a difference. As does how often you use it.

          There are enough unknowns about the brain that there’s still room for psionic powers. Just don’t ask me what the mechanism(s) are for any of them.

      • That wasn’t entirely true even in the formative years. Wells, for example, dodged around the square-cube law, or the problem of how the Invisible Man could see when his eyes not only were transparent but had the same refractive index as air—and he was a trained biologist, a student of T.H. Huxley. One of Heinlein’s letters admitted to playing fast and loose with thermodynamics in Red Planet. And now we have all kinds of legacy fantastic elements in SF that are accepted because they’re traditional: FTL, time travel (and the nonequivalent of FTL and time travel!), humanoid robots, force fields on a macroscopic scale with convenient properties like blocking incoming missiles, psi powers. . . .

        Science fiction ranges all the way from quite rigorous treatments of actual scientific possibility (“hard SF”) to pure handwavium (“space opera”). But it’s all still science fiction.

    • Would THE PUPPET MASTERS classify as a horror story?

      • I’d call it horror but I’d also call it science fiction. I think it’s possible for something to be both, just as it’s possible for something to be both horror and fantasy.

        • As someone who read Dean Koontz when he was still mainly SF (Demon seed, e.g.) I recall a few horror novels within the genre.

      • Since Kevin Smith and Robert Rodriguez based “The Faculty” on it, then specifically referenced it during the movie; I’d say “Yes.”

  18. I’m a big proponent of Tolkein’s concept of the “True Myth”, in that the best stories reflect reality in the sense that it mirrors the actual shape of creation. Both physical AND metaphysical bits.

    Human nature is human nature regardless of what shape it comes in – aliens, elves or just regular ol’ folks – and we’re good at spotting things that line up with that reality, versus what seems artificially created. If an SF writer comes up with a truly “alien” race of aliens or beings, it’s only because they have a good grasp of that nature to begin with, to understand what their creatures are NOT.

    The real victory in progressive cranks is training people to think of human nature – and elements of creation itself – as something it is not, so they don’t recognize that humanity when it appears. Whether in stories or in real life.

  19. They knew Hillary was going to win the election; they knew their “progressive” (forward to the nineteen thirties!) future was inevitable; they knew their ideas are all on the right side of history. And then it turned out… it wasn’t PRECISELY so.

    It has been taught …


    It ain’t necessarily so.

    Cultural Appropriation Alert: This song was written by a white New York man of Jewish ancestry, profiting from the pain and suffering of Southern Negroes (as they were called at the time.) It is</I< sung by an African-American performer who extends the scat choruses by merging them into Jewish liturgical stylings.

    • I was privileged to see Cab Calloway live one time. He was -amazing-.

      • A privilege I have shared. I was in High School when the road show of Hello Dolly, starring him and Pearly Mae Bailey came through town and everybody in the theatre went to see it.

        I was ignorant of the greatness I was going to, but had no doubt afterward that I’d seen greatness.

        Funny thing is, I’ve never particularly liked that show.

  20. the moment pyramids or Templar knights come in, you know things are going into the moment pyramids or Templar knights come in, you know things are going into …

    Depends on the author, donut? If Terry Pratchett brings in a knight Templar riding a pyramid I know it’s time to fasten my seat belt.

  21. I’m okay with using “impeachment” as a short-hand for “impeached by the house, convicted by the senate, and removed from office.” Yeah, it’s not technically correct, but most one-word descriptions aren’t.

    On the other hand, I do find it hilarious that so many people who really ought to know better seem to think that impeaching Trump would make Hillary president. I do wonder what these people are smoking…

    • I am inclined to think anybody ranting about impeachment should be issued one of Bill Engvall’s signs.

    • Well, the Constitution is an ancient, superseded, worthless scrap of paper authored by Heterosexual, White, Patriarchal Slaveowners* that has no relevance to the problems of a modern, multi-cultural and multi-gendered diverse society. How is someone supposed to know what it says about things and stuff?

      *Hamilton’s cool, though

      • ** But only if he’s played by a Black guy.

      • BobtheRegisterredFool

        Everyone remember Meade’s essay on four long term groupings in American foreign policy? How many of these Hamilton fanbois are actually Hamiltonian in foreign policy?

      • First, few people seem to have more than a vague idea what the constitution says. Second, I think it says much of the Democrats that it’s irrelevant to them. In a way, they’re correct. All it takes is a majority for the House to act as a grand jury and return articles of impeachment. It takes two thirds of the Senate to convict, of course, but the Democrats are counting on enough of a majority and a coalition with RINOs to pull it off. The very week Trump was elected, I heard a Democrat imply that they would move to do just that after midterms, counting on a mass defection from the GOP.

        They might be right about that. People are disgusted with the GOP. OTOH, they’re more disgusted with the Democrats. I’m not exaggerating that I’m hearing long-time Democrats regarding the party practically as enemies of the people, and their network propaganda machine isn’t helping. And to be honest, that gives me a deep, uneasy, feeling.

        • I have a feeling that the “party structures” are going to be the ones that wake up one morning, feel confident in themselves to the point where they start their little revolutions… And, then discover that a.) ain’t nobody gonna come out for them, and b.) there’s a huge underserved middle that is now looking at both parties as being incompetent and irrelevant. Which could well leave Trump or another centrist holding a huge electoral swathe.

          I don’t think anyone is really happy with any of these clowns, of whichever persuasion. The Democrats are probably going to suffer a severe shock, “come the revolution”, because I suspect most of them are going to be going up against the wall. And, next to them? The idiots running the Republican Party.

          Both party structures are doing a very good job at working themselves out of relevancy and power. The problem is, what fills the vacuum? If we get a responsible centrist, all to the good. If not…? Well, wait and see. I’m thinking “Sea change is coming, batten ye olde hatches…”.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I was speculating that if Hillary won, in 2020 even I could win on a Buckman ticket emulating Trump’s methods.

            Now I think Trump will either realign the GOP, or he will give his methods a bad smell, thus weakening their effectiveness.

            All I really know is that conditions are favorable for incorrect forecasts.

    • Michael Houst

      Car exhaust.
      CO does some very bad things to people’s brains; and it turns their faces bright red, which is why I think most of these horribly angry progressives have been smoking car exhausts. 😉

      • Dialog I wish I could have been there to hear:

        Someone doing the hard sell on Diesel emission standards: “The exhaust has to be like you were breathing air.”

        Trucker I know: “If someone wants to go around breathing exhaust, they’ve got worse problems.”

  22. we don’t write only about plane crashes, but we write about all kinds of situations, some of them supremely weird. What it does, I think, is create what I call ‘flexible minds’

    Having a flexible mind can be very useful should, for example, your boss turn into a werewolf and try to eat the office. Which happens more often than you think, but it is always covered up as “workplace violence” or “gas explosion” or some such. It is what really happened at Fort Hood and San Bernadino and …

    For some reason it is generally upper management; perhaps they’re already close to feral, who knows. But it is why so many offices have gun bans in effect.

    More importantly, tales abut such events model behaviour for readers, conditioning them to respond by cowering helplessly or trying to negotiate with the foe …


    … or confront them.

    • Sad thing is, I think there’s a large segment of our population would rather believe that Fort Hood and San Bernadino were cover-ups for werewolf attacks than that they were done by guys screaming, “Aloha, Snackbar,” or something like that (the news reports are always kind of vague).

  23. I dunno. I sort of liked the early episodes of Stargate (as far as I followed the series.) They pulled out the ancient aliens and pyramids thing, but they did it well. (They thought through what sort of bastards aliens posing as oriental gods would be.) Also had a nice anti-slavishness, curiosity-affirming worldview that I like to see when I go looking for sci-fi. (Well, until a few episodes sort of shark-jumped. But that’s TV for you…)

  24. “They convinced themselves that paradise was just around the corner, and now they’re locked in a long scream, unable to cope, unable to function, unable to see what they want is impossible. They’re the toddler standing in the middle of the grocery isle, screaming at the top of his lungs ‘but I wanna.'”

    Or worse, they have now convinced themselves that Hell is just around the corner, and that long scream is one not of frustration and fury but of genuine terror.

    Why do I say “worse”? Because having been the sufferer of an irrational fear all my life, I know exactly how horrible it is to be in that state of anguish and how much it is hated, and yet the only thing I could honestly say to help get them out of it — i.e. basically, “You are simply flat-out wrong to be afraid, and the people who told you to be afraid are either deluded themselves or ginning up this delusion for their political profit” — they’ve already been pre-immunized against by exactly those people; to somebody sufficiently paranoid, simply saying, “We are not your enemy,” is the single biggest immediate proof that you are.

    I think this is why Trump and this election, more than any other election or President beforehand, has been driving couples to separation; in no other election has the discourse been so polarized that simply refusing to take one side at face value is taken as immediate proof of belonging so fully to the other side that you yourself</i. can no longer be trusted.

    • When you politicize everything, yeah.

    • Hell just around the corner? Are you nuts, man? Do you not realize that without Obamacare THIRTY Million people who don’t want to have health insurance will have health insurance? Do you not realize that ONE HUNDRED TWENTY-SEVEN Million people (that’s what, abut 40% of the population?) will have to pay extra for their insurance coverage?

      • *snort* I have a non-compliant policy [no surprises there] and it costs 1/2 what the O-care policies are going for. MUCH lower deductible, too.

      • Bloody h-e-double toothpicks …

        THIRTY Million people who don’t want to have health insurance will have no health insurance?

        Worst escaped* typo of the day … so far.

        *We won’t talk about the ones I caught.

        • Eh. It’s darned hard to find a net fine enough to catch all of them. Just refer to the typesetter for the first printing of the King James Bible when you get any flack…

    • “in no other election has the discourse been so polarized that simply refusing to take one side at face value is taken as immediate proof of belonging so fully to the other side that you yourself. can no longer be trusted.”

      This has been the case since 2000; it’s just that now there’s enough of a refusal to stay quiet about it and enough alternative channels to report it.

  25. WORSE they don’t seem to understand that even if they managed to remove Trump, they’d just get Pence. And if they removed HIM they’d get (I THINK) Ryan.

    That depends on how fast things happen. Impeached and convicted by the Senate, and thus removed from office, Donald Trump would be succeeded as POTUS by Mike Pence. The Senate would then have to vote on (confirm) a new VP. Any Senate worth it’s salt would make sure that happened before proceeding to their Impeachment trial of Pence, so they could stack the deck and get their choice in place to take over (Ave, Gaius Iulius!).

    If a more kinetic succession trigger occured which either killed or rendered unable to continue in office both Trump and Pence, then the Speaker of the House would become President. Next would be the President Pro Tem of the Senate, and then the Secretary of State, and so on.

    It looks like the helpful and never biased wikiminions have updated the current succession list at https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_line_of_succession

    • Strange, I don’t see “runner-up in previous presidential election” anywhere on that chart…

      • That’s because you are not interpreting the language properly. See, since Trump was illegitimately elected, all of his cabinet appointments are ineligible for ascension, therefore the line of succession rolls back to the prior administration, putting Joe Biden in office. Joe, being old and a little loopy would naturaly resign in favor of the prior administration’s secretay of State and that means … uhmmm, I’m not quite sure how we get from John Kerry to his predecessor, but I am sure it can be done if we just buckle down and push!

        • Don’t forget the lamaze breathing! If you’re working so hard at birthing a monster, you need all the tricks you can come up with!

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            I’m better write up the lessons learned from the thirty years I spent midwifing for Echidnia.

        • Michael Houst

          And I thought the only way Donald Trump could be illegitimately elected was if his mother and father weren’t married when he was born. At least that way people would actually be correct in calling him a bastard.

    • Any Senate worth it’s salt would make sure that happened before proceeding to their Impeachment trial of Pence, so they could stack the deck and get their choice in place to take over ”

      Ah, but that’s not what we have: we have a Senate that includes McStain, Miss Lindsey, Susan Collins, etc. and led by Vichy Mitchy.

      “If a more kinetic succession trigger occurred which either killed or rendered unable to continue in office both Trump and Pence, then the Speaker of the House would become President. Next would be the President Pro Tem of the Senate,”

      Which would be Lyin’ Ryan, and then Orrin Hatch… neither of whom were any real obstacle to Obama. After that, you get to the Cabinet…. which I fully expect to be ruled illegitimate en masse by 4 Leftists and Kennedy; if Trump was never really President, then the fruit of his poisonous tree weren’t really Cabinet members, were they?

      They probably expect to be able to cause enough trouble to get enough people to conclude that letting Hildebeeste have the office is preferable to a civil war.

      • I would be astonished if, in the event of an “unfortunate kinetic succession” eventuality, there would not be a person of a certain skillset, or possibly an airborne division, that decided what’s kinetic for the gander is kinetic for the goose, and immediately applied sufficient directed kinetic energy to make sure that the goose was no longer available to take that oath.

        And thuse we see the slippery slope in action.

    • Yes indeed I think the ranters and ravers don’t seem to have looked at the line of succession ever. You don’t hit a non republican until 6th in line where
      we find an Indpendent. Of course that person is James “Mad Dog” Mattis, so I really don’t think the loonies will like that either…

      • and that would either be horrifying or awesome….

      • Tregonsee, I seriously think their plan, if they get rid of Trump and Pence, is to persuade the Supreme Court (the 4 Leftists plus Kennedy and/or Roberts) that all of Trump’s Cabinet picks are “fruit of the poisonous tree” because the Republicans weren’t elected and must be removed.

        Then all they have to do is convince the same cabal that Hildebeeste was the only other candidate who got the most votes and should be installed. They’ve been going around the Constitution through their court system for so long that it seems plausible to them. I wish that I was firmly convinced they are wrong.

        • They still have those photos of Roberts and those farm animals that induced him to decide that a fine was really a tax, and the four are reliable, so they only really need to work on Kennedy before he quits.

  26. “If I hear one more call for impeachment I’m going to blow a gasket.”
    I don’t know, I kinda want to see them try. But, then again, I’m not nice. I want to see them … well, lose it all.

    “It’s much harder than you think creating a wholly coherent lie.”
    This is SO very true. Creating an open-ended one in which people can create their own stories is very hard, indeed. When you write a story, you can often simply fence off vast amounts of “But, whyyyyy?” When you create a world for others to write in (or roleplay in), you have to try and build enough coherence that *other people* can answer those questions with your foundation.
    Then, of course, there’s the readers/authors who like to find flaws………

    BTW, Sarah, I think you did a decent job world-building with the Darkship universe. I enjoy reading the stories, partly because it holds together. (I’ll admit I haven’t read any of your fantasy, yet.)

    • “When you create a world for others to write in (or roleplay in), you have to try and build enough coherence that *other people* can answer those questions with your foundation.”

      That’s why I like the One Last Job RPG system so much. I just have to set up the initial scenario with a few hints, and the players then create the background as they go. I can guide it a bit, but that’s sort of like surfing a wave rather than building a waterway.

      • Why would I want to through away one of my biggest comparative advantages as a GM, my ability to create interesting and detailed worlds?

        • Nothing wrong with that at all. I just like having the players as co-creators of the world; I enjoy seeing what they come up with, and playing (so to speak) off them.

          • You can do that with pretty much any system. A decade or so back, I brought together four players with a strong orientation to creation (two published authors, two fanfic writers, one theater minor, one performing folk musician) and invited them to create, not just their characters, but the clans of magic using aristocrats that their characters came from, and the schools of magic, and the laws and customs . . . and then I added a fifth clan and wove them all together. It was brilliant! But I was doing it using Big Eyes Small Mouth, a totally conventional RPG. And I run every session as “collaborative storytelling,” in any campaign or system.

            • I know, but One Last Job doesn’t just allow it, it requires it. Without player participation in the creation of each other’s characters and the scenes they take part in, there’s no game at all. That’s what I like about the system.

      • Michael Houst

        Weird thought. If the universe is a simulation, then the assumption is that it’s there for others to play in. Is there enough coherence built in for other people to answer those questions with the foundations of our universe?

  27. Yesterday’s post, and today’s, set me to thinking about the intersection of Crowley’s definition of magick (the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will) and Clark’s definition of magic (any sufficiently advance technology is indistinguishable from magic).

    Take the act of creating a blade. This fits Crowley’s definition; you’re taking a hunk of steel and applying thermal and kinetic force in such a way it changes in accordance to how you envision it. However when we switch to Clark’s definition what happens in the smithy is a mundane occurrence. Now move your forge to the Upper Paleolithic and forge that blade in front of a blade maker who uses early flint knapping. To that early human your creation of a knife is magic under both Crowley and Clark, even though he understand the concept of “knife” and creates blades of his own and his creation of his own blades still fulfills Crowley’s definition. Now move that flint knapper further back in time to when early hominids were using found materials as improvised tools (like chimps with sticks to catch termites or otters using rocks to open mollusks) and what the flint knapper does now fits both Crowley and Clark’s definition of magic.

    This would seem to lead to a magic system which is both static and dynamic as times and technology change, but will is still worked but things which were once magic fade to mundanity.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      The magecraft system of the Nasuverse. Except that I think it is a bit bullshit, in part because Nasu seems to have holes in their understanding of science.

    • “Tyr thought hard till he hammered out a plan,
      For he knew it was not right
      (And it is not right) that The Beast should master Man;
      So he went to the Children of the Night.
      He begged a Magic Knife of their make for our sake.”
      – Rudyard Kipling, “Song of the Men’s Side”, which accompanies the story “The Knife and the Naked Chalk”.

  28. I would gladly and cheerfully trade half my flexible mind for a more flexible body – say, even-stevens.

  29. I did briefly worry about the morality of fiction. Then I realized that Jesus told stories for illustration purposes.

    I can’t really speak about content. I lean more toward fantasy and adventure than science fiction, though I love all three. Some ideas I wonder about whether a Christian can approach, such as anything to cause someone to doubt the gospels. This tends to fall under “Not on my dime,” with most like the old Grady Nutt joke about a woman who told a beard preacher she detested beards, and he said “Well, sister, don’t grow one.”

  30. There’s a limit, though.

    For example, I can rationalize a setting where communism works, with humans, even (for a flexible definition of “works” involving a sentient A.I. and certain amount of involuntary wireheading).

    But I hit a hard stop at the Dr. Who version of time travel.
    I like the characters, the stories​ are good, I want to buy in to the central conceit.
    But I just can’t. History is effects stemming from causes, and I just cannot accept that they happen independently of each other.

  31. It’s much harder than you think creating a wholly coherent lie. Particularly one of 100k words or more.

    Seems like when I read about Operation Mincemeat (The Man Who Never Was), the Brits tried to leave room for German intelligence to figure stuff out for themselves so they would have an investment or so it wouldn’t appear too good to be true.

  32. I will be the first to say that novels can be used for good or evil. In fact, evil most often uses *almost* true more than outright fables. But in over 58 years as a Southern Baptist, in churches around the US, Europe, and Asia, I’ve never heard anyone in church complain that novels were evil.

    And even though certain differences might exist between what the Bible says is righteous and the actions of certain characters, Romans 3:23 states very clearly that “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” so no one can actually claim they are holy based on their own works apart from God. In fact, Ephesians 2:8-10 states the opposite, “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

    That means God decides. And since God clearly arranged for us to enjoy Sarah’s works, we should. Giving thanks to God for the ability to read and Sarah for putting in the long hours writing.

    There are evil authors out there. We can spot them because they cannot hide, any more than an apple tree can pretend to be a redwood. Let’s ignore them and celebrate the good..

    • the “all novels are evil” was at their inception. Late seventeenth, early eighteenth century or there abouts.
      I HAVE met “Christians” who thought all invention was bad, but honestly, they were a splinter, twisted cult.

    • . But in over 58 years as a Southern Baptist, in churches around the US, Europe, and Asia, I’ve never heard anyone in church complain that novels were evil.

      There’s some brew-your-own theology out there that draws on writings that had to do with either specific issues (spreading false doctrine like it’s real) or setting issues (ancient Church in many areas was really down on theater– not because “plays are evil,” but because of then-intrinsic aspects like random sex and perversion, public drunkenness and worship of false gods.)

  33. “What it does, I think, is create what I call “flexible minds” so that even if the world goes completely bizarre on you (these days it often does) you can roll with the punches. In a society that is changing very fast in unanticipated ways, it makes it easier to function.”

    Many years ago, I heard Philip Klass (“William Tenn”) speak at a convention (I think he was the Pro GoH). He talked about the value of science fiction, and said that it was “the mercy of God” – for just the reasons you gave. Also, because it helps us to anticipate technological changes, think about them before they happen, and be at least somewhat prepared to deal with them.

    • If you don’t have stories that aren’t real– better yet, stories that you don’t have a personal stake in– how can you figure out WHY stuff works the way it does?

  34. ” it makes our enemies think we’re on the verge of civil war”

    I can think of no more idiotic act than annoying a Nation with the war fighting capability of the United States while it is busy with an internal conflict tantamount to a Civil War. That’s a circumstance in which they will not send diplomatic notes, they will not negotiate, they will simply swat you. Hard.

    • Terry Sanders

      Like the stupid mooks who started taunting two supers from the “safety” of their helicopter gunship.

      (ONE mook, actually. The other had *seen* someone interrupt a domestic dispute and had the imagination to scale it up and be afraid–very afraid. He didn’t eject fast enough, though…)

      • And yet, throughout history there has been an advantage to attacking a nation in civil war.
        Yeah, it probably won’t work for us, but “they ain’t seen nothing like us yet.”

        • Well, it’ll work out better for the attacking force than it would if the country wasn’t tearing its own guts out–they would actually be able to land and make it a hundred miles inland before they were stopped and driven into the sea, instead of being blown apart a hundred miles offshore.

          • Interesting problem — if North Korea opportunistically invaded California during such a dispute, would the USA defend against the rebels or merely establish a new border and wait?

            Now, if Mexico invaded Texas … they might wish they’d invaded Arizona.

            • “…if Mexico invaded Texas…”
              Yep. They did it a couple of times (officially) a couple of times, dozens of times unofficially – most always got thrashed.
              They haven – officially done it recently, although perhaps encouraging illegal immigration could count as official.
              I followed a link from (IIRC Insty) regarding residents along the southernmost Mexican border complaining about the increased crime etc. that they were suffering because of all the illegal immigrants from Central America overrunning their towns and communities. Couldn’t repress my schadenfreude: As you deal, Mexico – so shall you be dealt.

            • I’d doubt that, Texas is a big nice flat plain; perfect for running tanks around. Arizona is full of mountains and canyons and places to hide guerrillas. Arizona is one of the last places you want to invade.

              • Arizona is one of the last places you want to invade.

                I gather that was once the opinion of the Apache.

                Had they an industrial base they might have made that opinion compelling.

          • Nope. There won’t be anyone to temper the rage and prevent us doing a Strategic Arms Limitation Tantrum on their motherland.

        • I have this mental image of someone interrupting the fight at the end of The Quiet Man, getting pounded to a pulp, and left to crawl away as the guys resume pummeling each other.

  35. Fiction is play.

    Sir Philip Sidney wrote a defense of poesy, which also defends fantasy, fiction, and speculative fiction.

    Plato has a lot of nerve. He says nasty things about poetry and fiction, but creates plenty of myths and stories. In the Republic, he advocates the Guardians making up stories that are propaganda lies for the citizens, but having poetry and other stories being otherwise banned.

    There are people out there who claim that all the parables with characters in them are true histories of actual events. They do not seem to require this of other parables.

  36. I’m a political junkie. The polls never showed that no one supported Trump. They showed he was unlikely to win. Unlikely is not a zero chance. He lost the popular vote by roughly 3M. Polls were spot on about that. He then mostly ran the table on close states [took every one except NV and NH and almost squeaked NH]. He’s president by under 100k votes in PA, MI, WI combined. The state polls in all three states overstated Hillary’s support. To be more precise they did not allow for two unknowable things [giant turnout increase among working class whites whose demographics favored their being hereditary D’s and enough of the suburban upper middle class vote coming ‘home’ to R in the last week – nether seemed possible as Der Donald never bothered with traditional Get Out the Vote/GOTV efforts. Turned out the RNC and the Senatorial candidates did the scut work especially in WI] and one knowable thing that was unpalatable to the chattering classes who commission the polls [that absent Obama black voting participation rates would retreat]. Polling deals in probabilities, not certainties and requires norming the results to reflect a subjective guess on what percentage of which demographics will show up. Its an art as much or more than a science.

    • In other words, they make up stuff.
      Also, based on the polls, early in the voting count CNN thought he’d get 35% of the vote. So please, stow your “it wasn’t impossible.” As for your being a political junkie… in this blog? What kind of distinction do you think that is?

    • As for Der Donald? Heil Hitlary about answers that one.

    • ….wouldn’t a political junkie know that if you don’t count a state with KNOW huge voter fraud and zero reason for Republicans to go to the polls (the lack of quality in the CA republican party, oy!), Trump won the meaningless popular vote by 1.7 million, and that Hillary only won the popular vote by two million— the three point seven million was the total lead in California?

  37. As regards California, forget fraud. There was no Trump campaign there. The only statewide race pitted two D’s against each other. A Southland Latina against a Bay Area lady of Black-Asian extraction Sacramento establishment officeholder. Near perfect demographic stand-ins to drive D Identity tribes to the polls. Trump correctly said afterwards that if the rules were popular vote he would have held rallies in CA. And yes CNN blew the exit polls. The early exit polls skew D. These are the same ones that predicted President Kerry. There’s a major problem with the exit polling. My best guess is variants on the ‘shy Tory’ problem from the UK but the professional opinion is divided. As for ‘norming’ being ‘making stuff up’, the answer is yes/no/sort of. You make up worlds to write in. You usually don’t make gravity random from square mile to square mile. You make some stuff up to fill in things that research doesn’t find, to add elements the story needs, to suit your own creative urges / sense of whimsy. There are bounds on what you make up. The bounds are the need to make a good story without destroying the reader’s sense of belief in the world you have created. Its an art form and you are damned good at it. The template works with polling except that it involves educated guesses on which people will turn out. The polls underpredicted Obama in 2012. Historical norms for both black and Republican turnout ended up not applying – huge black turnout and a lot of R’s stayed home. Polls overpredicted Hillary in the Rust Belt. Political polling is an art form, not a full science. It does much better on marketing polling where census demographics can be used.

    • Except that if you are an actual political junkie you know that it’s not the need for fraud that causes fraud. It’s the ABILITY which is rife in CA.
      Also, Hillary apparently was convinced she’d win the election but lose the popular vote. So she really wanted a lot of votes where she could get them.

      Oh, btw, be entertaining. You’ve been warned.

    • Forget fraud in CA? Not until we find out how many more examples like this there are:

      http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2016/11/03/voter-fraud-california-man-finds-dozens-ballots-stacked-outside-home.html

      Jerry Mosna was gardening outside his San Pedro, Calif., home Saturday when he noticed something odd: Two stacks of 2016 ballots on his mailbox.

      The 83 ballots, each unused, were addressed to different people, all supposedly living in his elderly neighbor’s two-bedroom apartment.

      “I think this is spooky,” Mosna said. “All the different names, none we recognize, all at one address.”

      His wife, Madalena Mosna, noted their 89-year-old neighbor lives by herself, and, “Eighty people can’t fit in that apartment.”

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