Making Ladders

Six years ago now I told my husband I was quitting writing.

It wasn’t the first time I told him that, but that time he took me seriously.  He knew it had been building a long time, partly frustration, partly insufficient recompense, partly that proverbial hostile work environment.

It wasn’t a matter of my being tired of writing, or frustrated with my own progress.  I’d had those moments too, coming up.  I once gave up writing for two weeks.  At the end of which Dan and the boys begged me to go back to writing because they couldn’t take me anymore.  I’d cleaned everything, twice, and was starting to take an unhealthy interest in the boys’ play-activities.  I think it was the “there is only one right way to build a toy railroad” that broke younger son.

But in 2011 I’d hit a different type of wall.  Several things were coming to a head.

First, my then agent had started pressuring me to have a blog, have a presence on social media.  The words “organize giveaways” had been uttered.  It seemed I just wasn’t selling enough and it was my fault because I wasn’t spending my entire advance to promote.

Look, I’m NOT utterly stupid, and I know I suck at self-promotion.  Partly because my “publicity to bragging” boundary is set too low.  But there were also things about the field and how it operated that had started bothering me something awful.  One of them was the whole “contest” and “giveaway” thing.  Like giving kids prizes for reading in school, it was predicated on the idea that reading was unpleasant, not something you did, and it must be rewarded with fast food coupons.  Part of it is that it started having the same whiff as the magazines I used to buy, so I could write for them.  After a while I started suspecting magazines only had subscribers because people were subscribing to see what they published, so they could write for them.  It was a daisy chain of looking for prestige and advantage, which works fine if your real job is college professor and you just need the credits to look good, but not so fine if your intent is to make a living from writing.

The whole “I will have a contest, and give away an ipad if you retweet my post about my book” started having the same feeling.  For one, most of you followers were other writers, who did it so that you would retweet their book and so they could — maybe — win an ipad.  The end result seemed to be being talked about EVERYWHERE but not actually read.  Which impressed a certain type of publisher (not Baen) but didn’t actually make any money.

I knew that people read — or at least at Baen I’d found some real enthusiasm for books and reading from people who didn’t write or weren’t looking for how to become writers — but my books for Baen had met with distinct lack of success (Darkship Thieves had just come out) and I was about to give up.

No one else would touch me, anyway, certainly not as one of the darlings.

Part of it is that I didn’t keep up on the latest pc-speak and wasn’t one of the twitter brigade (which is what my agent envisioned me becoming anyway, since I can be gregarious and engaging when I want to.)

The piece of the puzzle she was missing is that I COULDN’T become one of the PC brigade on Twitter.  The reason I was a bit of cipher about politics (except for whatever my face gave away when someone got up at World Fantasy and talked about “our next president, Howard Dean”) was that I didn’t sing in the choir, and I’d long ago found there was a limit to my dissembling.

I could keep quiet.  I could, occasionally, make a joke about one of the (many, there’s a reason they’re the stupid party) silly things the right had done.  BUT I couldn’t live like that, because what the left had come to mean: Collectivism, statism, rigid enforcement of “right think” was antithetical to everything I was and everything I thought.  I knew too much to pretend that communism was sort of well-intentioned salvation army without G-d.  Because if I tried, the stench of 100 million graves rose up to suffocate me, and then I couldn’t sleep at night.

And socialism was the new hotness in our circles and communism very cool, and self-censorship and joining the blame and guilt brigade the way to be noticed.

I couldn’t do that.  Not and remain myself.  (And you don’t want me to become someone else.  Let’s put it this way “I watch myself ALL THE TIME.”)

I’d had a blog since 2007 and it was puttering along.  I had loyal readers, but I posted maybe once a week, because if I posted more, I’d have to post about what interested me and what concerned me.  Per one of the kids last night, I’m composed of three parts: Geekery, writing, and an unhealthy obsession with politics.

I could talk about geekery and writing, sure, but not enough to keep a blog going.  And the unhealthy obsession with politics, kept getting in the way, enmeshed in the others.  Because they are.  Only I had to keep quiet about that part.

For years I’d been living a double life.  I kept quite and secretive about what my politcs were to all but a few friends.  And I had a nom de blog, under which I commented (weirdly there was someone blogging under the name, which I didn’t find out till MUCH later, but I only used the name to comment.  I think some people confused us.  More than once.)  To throw dust on my trail, I’d given this persona a whole other life/interests/profession, only it was starting to leak into my real life, as characters will, and it was driving me nuts. And there was the friend who tracked me by linguistic style, and the fact I was starting to slip up.


There being other things, including possibly a nosy angel with a mission, I decided I was going to stop writing, I was going to come out of the political closet, and I was going to find some other thing in which I could make money: Maybe making cloth dragons?

I wasn’t going to stop writing because I had no more ideas, because I didn’t want to write, or because I was tired of making money.

It was linked, see.  If I came out of the political closet then all doors but Baen would shut with a bang.  And I’d have to give up writing, because I wasn’t doing that well at Baen, either.

And even if I stayed in the political closet, I wasn’t promoting the way my agent thought I could/should, and so she’d started only sending my stuff out to third-tier houses.

I had to come out of the political closet or die, and, I thought, at the time, if I came out of the political closet I was done for.

That morning, in the closet-sized bathroom of our Victorian in downtown Colorado Springs, while we shifted around so we could both dry ourselves after showering, I told Dan I was done.  He’d told me years ago if there came a time all Writing  did was make me unhappy, I should quit.  I was quitting.

My long suffering husband listened to me, then hugged me and let me cry on his shoulder, and then told me “Why don’t you give it another year?  If you feel the same way in a year, we’ll find something for you to do that makes you happy.  Come out of the political closet, by all means.  Stop faking it.  Just don’t quit writing yet.”

That week I sent a letter to someone who had been an early mentor, Kristine Kathryn Rusch telling her I was taking a year to shutter the thing down, and in return she sent me an email telling me to shut up and come to a workshop in September on indie publishing.  (She was much nicer than that, but it amounted to that.)

And then Darkship Thieves sold, and eventually won the Prometheus,  and things changed.

And I came out of the political closet, and I’m still here.

It occurred to me yesterday that I’m in a very weird sort of position.  Most of the publishers-not-Baen still won’t touch me with a ten foot pole, but other than the ideologically committed extreme left, the rest of the field hasn’t shunned me.  It’s not all closet right wingers reaching out to me, either.  There’s a lot of people whose politics I frankly don’t know, who are willing to talk to/work with me, particularly when something needs done.

The thing is, it didn’t use to be like that.  Back in that bathroom, 6 years ago, when I whined to Dan that if I came out of the political closet it was all up, it was true.  Or it had been true very recently.

You didn’t even need to be politically displeasing.  It was enough for someone to start a rumor about you, because they thought they’d seen you do or same something that was against the ethos of NY publishing.  Say, you posted a picture of your cat and said you didn’t approve of spaying.  (I’m divided and it’s a long story, but we do spay.)  Or someone heard you didn’t like the darling book of the season.

Suddenly (this happened to an extent to me in 2003 because awful numbers after 9/11 were deemed to be my fault, but no one knew why Ace didn’t want to buy me anymore, and things were whispered) a desert formed around the “culprit.”  Since most of the time we weren’t sure why someone was being no longer published/shunned, we tried to get away from them as much as possible, so that we weren’t hit by whatever the heresy was.

The effect when you were the shunned one is that you found yourself, at a time of financial and emotional need, deserted by your friends and anyone who might understand your plight.  Conventions became a vast wasteland of backs turned as you approached.

If I hadn’t had some real friends, who frankly didn’t care, and David Drake who got me into Baen that would have been the end of my writing career, after 15 years of breaking in.  All because of numbers, which I couldn’t help given circumstances, but the field was as always rife with rumor.

Imagine how much worse it would be to tell the truth and shame the devil.  My career would be over.

However, part of what was working at me, and had been, is that my career COULD be over any minute, any way.  It’s impossible to write thousands of words and a blog, and not say something that sounded awful out of context.  And once they’d tainted you with racist or sexist or homophobic, you were a pariah and could never get back.

Things have changed.  Things have changed a lot.  The campaign against Milo Yannopoulos was one of the worst I’ve seen, and, within days, had cost him his job and his book contract.  This is the way things used to happen and how the left conquered many fields: academia, publishing, the arts, movies, even your local library system.  Step out of line politically, make too much noise, and you’d be destroyed and never heard from again.

It used to be incredibly effective.

But Milo — Yanno? — has his book out, and has seed money for his own site.  And those of us who made ourselves persona non-grata keep chugging on, making a quite respectable living.

Sure, part of this is that the worm is turning or, as I like to put it, the times they are achanging.

Part of it is that when the left takes over an institution, guts it, and prances around in its skin demanding respect, they destroy that institution from within.  They’re not very creative, being a cult of sorts, with rigidly imposed limits on their thinking.  And they’re not very good at understanding the market.  So things… go South fast, resulting in those magazines read only by writers, and in books everyone talks about and nobody reads.

Part of it is that while they were long-marching, we were taking stem degrees and building other ways to do things.  Now with indie, it is objectively impossible to block anyone from publishing.  Sure, you can try.  But I can use at least five names legally, (as in I can cash a check addressed to that name) and there are other ways.  Most people are just pixels on the net these days.  H*ll I could become a “darling” with impecable political credentials next week, if I wanted to.  (I don’t want to.)

And while many people are stuck in the past, and while indie publishing might not do a d*mn thing for your academic resume, it can make you money.  Most of my indie friends out-earn me.  My indie book outearned my traditional ones.

I objectively CANNOT be blacklisted.  I can’t even be side-streamed.  And I CAN and do earn a living.  Better than many of the darlings, at this point.

This is why I laughed at the insane objective of “keeping the SJWs out of publishing” — how exactly do you plan to do that?  Short of a government take over and extreme authoritarianism?  That won’t work? And will result in Samizadt and in giving the rat bastages credit they don’t deserve.  (You want communism to be creditable again? That’s the only way to do it.)  And HOW do you plan to take over government, precisely?  Go ahead, try. Shine on you crazy diamond!

The SJWs had a lot more control of the “only reputable market” than we can get in a generation.  (These things take time.  Also, this is only if there IS a “traditional” market in a generation.  Indications aren’t … promising.)  And they couldn’t keep ME out, when there was a sort of nascent, hesitating market.  Sure, I had a couple of very lean years, but I came back, and I’m doing fine.  (Yeah, it is a case of “and yet she persisted.”)  How could you keep people out when we don’t have that kind of control and the market is becoming distributed all around you?  You know the market always wins, right?  Even when regulated, it comes back.  And why would you want to?  They’re doing a fine job of doing themselves out of readers, already.

I’ve been watching, with some interest, as the right builds parallel structures.  Often healthier parallel structures than the left, because we believe in the market and they don’t.  For instance, PJmedia pays.  Huffpo doesn’t.

Sure, our structures and institutions don’t have the “prestige” yet, because prestige consists of being invited to the right shows and the right academic speeches.  You are invited by other people who came up the traditional ladder, of course.  But the thing you have to remember is that ALL OF THESE INSTITUTIONS ARE DYING.

Sure, some of the old names, even theoretically on the right, won’t associate with us.  We’re those crazy people and “tainted.”  But this is rather normal when a revolutionary avant garde is coming in.  Eventually the crazy kids become the greybeards with position and thoughtful discourse.  And the rebels become founding fathers.

The point is that you are no longer left out in the cold because of your political opinions — right or left — or really, because of anything.  Because wherever you are, you can find your footing and start to build a ladder.

I laugh like an hyena when I read that some new magazine is “giving voice to marginalized people.” Who is marginalizing them?  The only place they can be marginalized from is traditional publishing, the same people who talk about embracing them and giving them voice.

Thing is, though, that it’s true in a way.  Traditional publishing demanded a much tighter line of minorities.  You had to act a certain way or be cast out into outer night.  And then if you were “good” they’d give you a “voice.”  Provided you said what they wanted to.

That is OVER.

When cast into outer darkness we light a flash light, then build a fire, then…

Soon enough our little encampment outside the walls is shining like  star, and the big city is dark and dying.

Which is sort of what is happening to most of trad pub, with Barnes and Toys in jeopardy and their power to “make” bestsellers by push a thing of the past.

Sure, we’ll never get invited to The View.

Did you want to be?

They’re dead men — and notably women — walking.

Let the dead bury their dead.  You start building a ladder, and giving a hand up to other friends who are out here, in the outer darkness that is not all that dark anymore.

Sure a lot of the places you stand will give out under you.  And some will prove to be like the left, only on slightly different ideals.  Power hungry people got to power hunger, and some are smart enough to see the times, they are achanging.

But if you work hard, if you deal fairly with your friends, if you help when you can and are willing to discover new pathways to making money and establishing institutions, you will do well.

The citadel of the left is crumbling.  Build ladders and get to higher ground above it.  If you build on expertise, on hard work, on doing favors when you can, you will eventually find yourself more stable than you ever were before, without having to sell out who you are and what you believe.

The tide is coming in.  Build ladders.  And be not afraid.





206 thoughts on “Making Ladders

  1. …but not so fine if your intent is to make a living from writing.

    What kind of Philistine author are you? Don’t you know it is not about you making a living off your writing? It is about others, such as your agent and publisher, making a living off your writing.

    Artists are above such things.

    Never mind that if one were to actually take such an attitude it would lead to being six feet under.

    1. That is why true artists are champions of the underdog being supported by society. So what if they are the one getting handed some of the ill gotten gains from legal banditry (a group of people deciding to take from a smaller group).

      1. I have a problem with the crowd who argue that the tax-payer is somehow obligated to underwrite their free speech.

        1. But then you are harming their first offendment rights.

          And then they turn around and say that barring anyone right of Lenin from speaking isn’t censorship because they don’t accept that they have imprimeteur of govt

          1. The Left is always in favor of free speech, but it must be responsible speech, not that “hate” speech crap.

            1. Funny how it is labeled assault when you simple refuse to get out of the way of their of so fragile juggernaut.

    2. “Don’t you know it is not about you making a living off your writing? It is about others, such as your agent and publisher, making a living off your writing.”
      Yes indeed CACS! My wife likes to say that publishing is the only field where everybody but the producer of the product makes a living.

      1. “publishing is the only field where everybody but the producer of the product makes a living.”

        I swear that acting is similar, largely due to Hollywood accounting practices. (In stage acting, nobody makes a living.) And can’t forget music, where a contract is akin to contract slavery.

        1. The thing all three of those industries have in common is that they are controlled by Liberals. Why are Liberal-dominated such cesspits of exploitation and corruption?

          1. Theater techs tend to be less liberal than their counterparts on stage. (Might have something to do with dealing with concrete things and electricity.)
            On the other hand, Techs get ignored as long as everything is running smoothly.

          2. If, in a lab, you give people a chance to buy “green” products, they are more likely to lie and cheat in a game afterwards. After all, they’ve done their goodness quota for the day.

            Imagine what being a leftist does for that quota.

          3. Because apparatchiks are usually willing to maim themselves in their forlorn hope of being chosen to be on the Central Committee. Or, at least, the Congress of Soviets.

            Does the term “Adjunct Professor” resonate?

        2. Ah, a record contract…the only “loan” where even when the loan is paid back the lender gets to keep the collateral.

          That is pretty much how it works…all production costs come out of the advance including studio time and the producer. The produce, who got paid out of the advance, gets a cut of the royalties. The cost of promotion comes out of the artist’s royalties as well as breakage and a ton of other corporate costs of the label. Then, in the rare cases where the advance earns out the record company, who at this point have covered merely the cost of initial capital which has been paid back, retain the maters produced from the loan.

          How that ever sold is beyond me. Even publishing isn’t quite THAT crooked.

    3. The whole “Artists should not need to please an audience” nonsense goes back a long way. Paul Johnson details a lot of its origins in THE BIRTH OF THE MODERN, which I strongly recommend.

      Then you can dip into Tom Wolfe and his accounts of how “Modernism” took over Art and Architecture (THE PAINTED WORD and FROM BAUHAUS TO OUR HOUSE, respectively, with added essays in HOOKING UP).

      The thing is, the Left took over The Arts at a moment in history when the Unwashed (at least in the West) were getting hold of enough wealth to choose for themselves. And the Left has fought against that bitterly….and lost steadily.

      Sure, they dominate Museums, and other subsidized venues. And then somebody like Frederick Hart (THREE SOLDIERS) or LeRoy Neiman comes along and has a long and lucrative career without them. Sure, the Left’s darlings get the plaudits and awards, but ask yourself; who has had a bigger impact on society? Piet Mondrian, or Jack Kirby?

      And it’s getting worse for the Lefties. Indie publishing has taken off. A band can bypass the gatekeepers by putting their music on the internet. They way things are going, so can a film director. Oh, YouTube could be made into a choke point, but how long is that likely to last?

      I’m looking forward to the arc of the 21st Century. It promises a lot of Progressive/Lefty tears.

    4. What kind of Philistine author are you? Don’t you know it is not about you making a living off your writing? It is about others, such as your agent and publisher, making a living off your writing.

      Choked on my coffee, laughing there. XD

    5. Yes, writing is truly run by socialists: people who know better than you (agent, editor, publisher) telling you how to work so they can live off it and complaining about how lazy and stupid you are when they don’t get a new dachau.

        1. I think that was the intent, but when you see the hate and anger on display you start thinking.

        2. I think one is the plural of the other, in that once you get multiple dacha there is almost certainly a Dachau.

  2. “They Told Me That The Sky’s The Limit and I Said I Want To See What’s Beyond The Sky.”

    Build those ladders! 😀

  3. God bless the modern era! Such things that were bared to us plebes are now open highways. If we choose to drive them. Mind you that onramp is a little tricky.

  4. Re: the left: And they’re not very good at understanding the market.

    When you don’t believe in the market it becomes very hard to comprehend market forces.

    1. They might not believe in market forces, but market forces believe in them.

      As Seattle’s political elite are desperately trying to deny.

      1. Nah, market forces don’t believe in anything. Market force, like gravity, just is.

        The funny thing is, unlike gravity (which we have no idea why it exists, or how it gets all that “energy” to constantly pull on us), market force is easy to understand: it’s what we get when two people get together and discover that one person has an item that the other person really wants, and the other person has an item that the first person really wants, so the two exchange the two items — thereby increasing the satisfaction (and the wealth) of both, even when nothing has literally been created (except, maybe, in cases where the “item” is a service performed — but even then, not all services produce something tangible).

        Everything else (and I’m particularly thinking about the concept of “marginal utility” — which explains why diamonds are worth far more than water, for the most part, even though water is crucial for life) is merely an attempt to understand why one person might value one thing over another.

        This is something that is easy to see, but Marxists in particular don’t see. But then, there’s none more blind than those who refuse to see….

        1. I think free trade is what separates us from the apes. Free trade is the marker of civilization.

      2. not just Seattle, CA too… as McDonalds orders thousands of ordering kiosks, more automated drink machines, and starts doing serious burger flippin machine research….

  5. Um, speaking of your early books, I found a really clean copy, first edition, of “Gentleman Takes a Chance” in a thrift store. I don’t know how big the run was, or if there are a bunch out there, but if anyone is interested I could put it on ebay. Or I’d send it to you (Sarah) no charge, if it was something you wanted.

    Keep up the fight,


      1. That was my introduction to you as a writer. Bought it as part of a Baen bundle. Found this blog from an Instapundit link.

  6. … the idea that reading was unpleasant, not something you did, and it must be rewarded with fast food coupons.

    Hooooo-boi! I remember when Pizza Hut installed that program at the Daughtorial Unit’s elementary. Ten, twelve books read got a coupon for a free pizza for her, at a time when pizza was the healthiest food she would eat.

    We ended up setting a rule that, to qualify, any book claimed had to meet certain qualifications. There is a finite limit to how much Pizza Hut any parents can be expected to eat!

    I’m not saying she was born reading — it took a little while for her eyes to learn how to focus, but after that … well, to paraphrase something LBJ said about JFK, “Why, I had more [books] on accident than he ever had on purpose!”

    1. Ya. Our library ran a similar one with museum admissions. I ran into issues because I handicapped myself with having to be non age appropriate reading.

      1. The summer before second grade The Daughter went through a Box Car Children book a day until there were no more to be had. (NO, she didn’t stay inside reading all day.) Trying to keep that child in books was an on-going challenge.

        I don’t know what we would have done without the library system here. One very nice librarian at the main branch was particularly helpful in finding new reading. She became a special friend when she pulled a collection of short stories from the basement stacks for The Daughter and, as a result, we discovered Diana Wynne Jones.

        1. Ya. Boxcar, Hardy boys, nonfiction, etc. I kinda ran out of books at library in children section

          1. Hardy Boys? My library wouldn’t stock them. They said the books were trash. My mom said shouldn’t we encourage the kids to read? They said only approved books.

            That was when I started buying my own books. I think the hardbacks were, like, $2 then, and the local grocer got one new one per month. But since I read them in a couple days, that wasn’t fast enough. So I started looking at the other books at the grocery store. And right above the mystery section were the science fiction books. Star Trek adaptations. And when I ran out of those, I looked at the others, and I kept buying. The high point was a copy of Analog Annual. “Fighting Madness” in that volume is as much of an influence on my writing today as Heinlein.

            So thank you, blue-nosed librarians, for forcing me out of the library!

            1. Don’t recall the vintage, nor what happened to them (likely passed along to younger cousins or such) but there was a box or two of Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew books around, for a while. Can’t say I remember much of anything of the lot, besides all but burning through them… unlike the stuff often assigned for school.

                1. Those books conveyed all the wrong messages about self-reliance, taking matters into your own hands instead of leaving them for the professionals and the (non)futility of individual action.

              1. Hardy Boys was one of the Stratemeyer syndicate properties.

                Stratemeyer et al. approached writing for children as a business, and deliberately wrote only books that they thought would sell well.

              2. Don’t know about the Hardy Boys. There are some issues with Tom Swift. After a customer complained that gosh and golly are euphemisms for the deity and so profane the Bobbsey Twins dropped them.

                As I recall, in the U.S. of A., Enid Blyton and Arthur Ransome were in the traditional channels sold in book stores to adults for more money while the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew were sold in dime stores direct to children. This may have affected library sales too.

                1. And I think that’s what I meant by “low-brow”. They aren’t nearly earnest enough about the right things.

            2. Dude. That library was no fun. I have a friend who is a librarian (and who I only see at the library) who listened with interest when I brought up this hilarious book description that had been passed around—it included vampires, werewolves, the Amish (not joking!), law, cooking, and various acronym groups—looked it up, and ordered it for the library right then. Because it sounded entertainingly ridiculous.

            3. I used to believe that I shouldn’t own books, because I could always get them at the library when I wanted to read them….and this kind of thing is the major factor that convinced me of the error of my ways.

              During First Amendment week, the ACLU and the ALA might claim that keeping a given book out of the school system or the library is censorship, so they can give the sense that book-banning is real, but the truth is, libraries and schools can choose to adopt or not adopt any work for any reason — and the reasons that hurt the most are along the lines of “but nobody checked this out for years” or “this is no longer popular” or even “this book is no longer in print, so when it fell apart, we couldn’t get a replacement” — because it means that something you love is not “popular” enough to be in the library. But really, popular or not, controversial or boring, the library has no obligation to keep any given book in circulation — and given limits of shelf space and budget, they may even have good reasons to take it out, so that they could have the space and the money to get other books.

              Which means, of course, that if you value a particular book, there’s a *very* good reason why you should own it personally.

              (In my case, the book I loved — and the one that helped me understand the importance of owning your own books — was “Starting Forth” by Leo Brodie. The binding wasn’t great, so it fell apart one of the times I checked it out. I even turned it in with a note saying that I would appreciate buying the book if they needed to replace it, but they neither contacted me about it, nor replaced it…sigh…eventually I found a copy, but it was kindof difficult, because it turned out to be out of print…)

              1. As much as I hate the “but nobody has checked it out for ___” reason, that does stock my home library– I’ve got three entire series of kid or youth reference books because people will page through them, use them for research, but that doesn’t go in the computer…..

                1. And some librarians / assistants decisions are questionable.
                  An always very lucky SCA friend went to the Friends of the UK Library sale several years ago, where hardbacks were $1 each, and among other out-of-date books, found on the shelf, in period calf over board bindings, a 1545 Italian medical text and a 1580 book on religious ethics in Latin. Akim just does things like that.
                  Me, not so much luck.

              2. I had Brodie’s “Starting Forth”, it got me going just enough with Forth that some years later, I got to be the writer selected to do user/developer documentation for Sun’s SPARCstation firmware, which was based on Forth. I recall that it wasn’t quite your typical programming language introduction…

              3. I couldn’t find March Upcountry by John Ringo and David Weber in the stacks once, so I asked the librarian to help. She found it in a stack of books to be sold at the next library used book sale. The sequels were in the same stack so I checked all four out.

          2. The Hardy Boys were my gateway drug. I read them as fast as I could mow lawns (the way I earned my spending money back then) Once I had read the whole series I found this strange book with a flying saucer on the front entitled “Childhoods End” and another with really cool artwork on the cover entitled “Conan the Barbarian”. I’ve been a hardcore addict ever since.

  7. I got a taste of the hiding required to be a libertarian in academic. If I had to live like that for the rest of my professional life, I’d go nuts. Even writing fiction under a pen name might not be enough to keep me from doing something professionally stupid, like taking on the “antifa” on campus. Better to work from outside and be ready to catch those who can be caught, to help the other escapees from the current academic disaster that is the US university system at large. (Yes, there are exceptions all over. Alas, they are not who makes the news.)

    1. So where does an academic go when she wants to escape? As far as I can tell, there isn’t an equivalent for going indie for a math professor.

      Not that I have any personal interest in that, of course. Merely asking for a friend.

      1. Depending on math, there are schools that are less dangerous ideologically. Plus the potential for private high schools. Eventually we will jettison the attendance awards currently called degrees.

        Sadly all the above tends to bring it’s own problems.

        1. The problem is that being a high school teacher, even at a very good high school, is not the same as being a math professor. It’s like the difference between being a writer and an English teacher. As a professor, you get to create new math; as a high school teacher, you regurgitate the boring parts of the old stuff to students who for the most part don’t really care about any of it.

          1. Reason I said depending on the math. I can only speak to my AE degrees but that was mostly just as wrote except it was calculus 1-3 vs algebra and calc. Research employment would be potentially r&d in industry but that is mostly applied. Iirc a classmate who went piled high and deep in engineering was out of a math BS

          2. There’s always the homeschool publishing business – sortof an indie for teaching. William Bennett built an online program. One math professor I know created an entire curriculum (Right Start Math) for homeschooling (trying to teach the “boring parts of the old stuff” in a way that actually engaged the students).
            See if you can build a college curriculum that can be sold/exported to numerous colleges (think Troy, SUNY, community colleges, etc.) that have military/online setups.

            1. I wonder whether a combination of Youtube lectures and Skype tutoring could be cobbled into an effective business model.

              Yah — people queuing up to watch Youtubed math lectures … that’ll be the day.

              1. Yes, it works for some people. It’s not that *you* want to sit and watch the math, but that your parent wants you to watch the math. Or that you need to watch the math to pass your online college.

          3. It does depend on the math. If there’s a clear engineering application, then engineering schools are places that might be worth considering – things must be right (well, ‘good enough’ but ‘well, we really wished it would work’ doesn’t cut it). If it’s — for now, yes — more theoretical then I’ve no idea.

            1. “…engineering schools are places that might be worth considering – things must be right…”

              Explain windmills and solar farms. Some power engineer somewhere signed off on that sh1t.

              1. Right as in it won’t readily break and kill or maim. Not always right as in “makes sense” as that can be perverted by “Can you build $X? There’s $MONEY in it.” Which gets answered with, “Sure, I can.” And unsaid: ‘Never mind you’re wasting the money.’

                1. Power engineers signed off on windmills in Ontario and the US Midwest power grids.

                  Did you know that windmills introduce “ringing” and interference nodes into grids? Interference of the type that is -known- to melt lines and burn transformers under transient conditions.

                  In defense of engineers, I will say that it is hard to find a fan of windmills among them. Still, it is true that half of engineers do graduate in the bottom half of their class…

                  1. Engineers tend towards gadget nerdery. Engineers can be very focused in their competencies. Engineers are human.

                    So engineers from one discipline may be fans of what another knows to be a boondoggle.

                    Show me an engineer who is mechanical enough to be skeptical of the climate ‘model’ “gonna die unless wind and solar”, electrical enough to know how far we are from having solar and wind available for baseline power, and you’ll have someone who is broader than the engineering schools can always turn out. That person was probably broad before the engineering schools got their hands on them.

                    And an engineer narrowly focused on their area of practice may be just as vulnerable to media disinformation as any layman. Like a competent surgeon might might have some strange belief about some other field of medicine.

                    1. Good personal example, person I know and stopped following on FB is a hydraulic engineer. Professional, has a couple patents etc. He has not only guzzled the climate change koolaid, he’s been mainling it for years. Thinks he’s scientifically minded yet calls any skeptic of climate change a denier and rants against “anti-science” thought. Gave up arguing with him and his girlfriend as a waste of time.

                    2. Fun questions: 1. As a Professonal Engineer, what level of outside pressure is necessary for you to sign off on work you haven’t done or supervised? 2. If you are willing to put your stamp on the climate models, what in your area of practice prepared you for this work? 3. Would you be willing to show me or the state board your numbers?

                    3. I’ll admit I am, but computer modeling was my MS study and all a power grid is is a system of systems.

                      And I know a bunch who went all the way but we’re extremely myopic. It’s a great trait for school and we have started selecting for it.

                  2. Are you referring to harmonics? Utility engineers are supposed to make sure that loads and generation don’t inject harmful harmonics onto the grid. That gets fidged somewhat in some places. Since we’ve never had to contend with harmonics mitigation, don’t know much about it.

                    Do know that during the Obama Administration, it was decided to relax standards on AC cycles to help alternate power. Never met anyone happy about that decision.

                2. Our company points out that PV power has about a thirty year pay-back, not counting maintenance and without storage batteries. Some people still want them. Our take is that it’s them and their money. I do know that one person, when the engineer explained this to them, replied “I’ll just double the size.”

                  As to who engineers the things, well, we ran into one that had an undersized breaker. Someone, somewhere, thought that a breaker rated for X number of amps is good for X continuous amps. Uh-uh. So it was the breaker kept tripping. The company that installed it eventually resized the breaker. Eventually.

                  1. I looked long and hard at the numbers before building our “portable” 1.5kW input/3.6kW output power system. (Built on a trailer, held down to 4 hard points behind the house.) Special circumstances; we’re in a backwater corner of the grid, and the 120kV line craps out a bit too often.

                    We’re doing a residential well (protip: if you are on a shared well arrangement, look for an exit strategy–you’ll sleep better), and while it’ll start on mains, there’s provision for a 4KW input PV system for when the SHTF. The local linemen aren’t that optimistic about their equipment, either… Lousy payback or not, it’s nice to be able to handle a week or three outage.

                    1. This is going to sound pedantic, but it’s important: Most likely you have several thousands volts of grid electricity stepped down at the premises to 120/240v. I mention this because a lot of people get the idea that distribution power (from the substation to home or business) is 120/240v when it’s much more. Our lowest voltage lines are 7,200v. They only use 2,000v in electric chairs. Just saying.

                    2. No, I was referring to the 120 kiloVolt line that feeds the substations at our town and several others in our section of southern Oregon. The distribution lines are 12kV, and are usually reliable (the power company uses a tree service that holds reliability of power over the beauty of the chopped up tree–pays off every winter), but the transmission line goes out just often enough to cause trouble–several hundred to a few thousand customers at a time.

                      (I might be slightly off on the Tx line voltage; 115kV is a possible. There’s a 65-ish kV line that runs south to the ranches and the natural gas pipeline station. The really big transmission lines are further south; not sure of their voltage, but it’s steel towers all the way. Our 120kV line uses pairs of oversized wooden poles to carry the load. The 65kV line uses single standard poles; a 12kV line runs below that high voltage set.

                      As a rural firefighter, we got the safety lecture from Pacific Power on the dangers of fallen 12kV distribution lines. The video of a couple men (can’t recall if they were firefighters or supremely unlucky linemen) who lost their hands due to a fallen line was, er, disturbing.

                    1. Don’t know. The last in-depth I did was way back not long after some places in California started a residential PV program. Came to the conclusion it was a “feel good” program that cost more than it saved. I’ll ask the engineer.

                    2. Kyocera’s warranty on the polycrystalline panels is that they’ll meed 80% of rated power after 25 years. I have some Sieman’s monocrystal panels from 2001; still going strong.

                3. This reminds me of how liquid fluoride thorium reactors (LFTRs) came into being. The Air Force wanted a nuclear powered airplane, and a certain nuclear physicist had this idea he was itching to create. He thought that creating a nuclear airplane was a *stupid* idea…but if anything was going to work for it, it was going to be an LFTR reactor. So he accepted the challenge, and the funding.

                  For various reasons it didn’t work out — among them were ICBMs, the desire to produce weapons (thorium doesn’t lend itself to making plutonium), and fact that, since all the research has gone into solid fuel, everyone’s comfortable with that — but not without creating a proof-of-concept reactor that ran for a handful of years.

                4. Chief Engineer at a company I worked for called himself an engineering whore. If a customer was convinced that some odd design he’d read about was AWESOME and would pay for it then he would design one for him. A variation on the customer is always right.

                  Actually only big customers are always right. Small customers can settle for standard products.

              2. There’s nothing wrong with the engineering for most (though by no means all) alternate energy projects. Heck, the ROI for those building and operating such facilities is even decent, in many cases. The fact that the majority of those facilities are only financially viable due to legislation and regulation distorting normal market forces is an entirely different matter.

                  1. Actually, one could go into a state board meeting for engineering licensure, and argue that it is, or at least suggest that possibility.

      2. I have noticed that it’s easier to get away with being a conservative or libertarian if one is in STEM, than in the humanities. When I was a grad student in SUNY Albany, I was impressed that one of the math professors would regularly put up conservative-friendly articles on a bulletin board on his office.

        Among those articles: one explaining that there were various things more dangerous than global warming, and explaining that of all these dangers, we can potentially do something about figuring out how to move asteroids; an anecdote about a student of Jaime Escalante, who explained that he was overrated — she was having difficulty understanding a principle, and “all he did” was have her go over a bunch of examples until she understood it; and an article about a student originally from a Catholic school, recently transferred to a public school, where the teachers had no idea what to do with her, because while the other students were coloring even numbers in worksheets, this student could take two three-digit numbers and multiply them together.

        I remember thinking “Hey, I’m in a University in New York, and here’s a professor who isn’t afraid of being a conservative! Amazing!” I also noticed that, while there were plenty of liberals, graduate students in general weren’t afraid of discussing their political views.

        1. and an article about a student originally from a Catholic school, recently transferred to a public school, where the teachers had no idea what to do with her, because while the other students were coloring even numbers in worksheets, this student could take two three-digit numbers and multiply them together.

          Assuming a basically intelligent kid, this isn’t that hard– you get the concept of “this is how many of these,” and show them the trick, and the only issue is them not getting bored. (because it is work!)

          That said, it can’t work in public school– too much monitoring. (And I’m a very hands-off homeschooler!)

      3. Good question. I was blessed with a research post-doc and then eased my way through the door of Day Job by subbing. I’d look at college-prep high schools that are academically serious and that are willing to offer more than just AP calculus et al. Or Home school groups that have group-teaching a few times a year. I know there’s one in this region that hires chemistry teachers and other lab-science teachers, rents space, and has all the kids who need that class come to town from the farms and ranches and so on for a week or two and they do intensive labs and lessons. Not certain if you can do that with upper-division math.

    2. …the current academic disaster that is the US university system at large.

      What we have here is no Prague Spring of 1968 or Tiananmen Square protest of 1989.

      What we have are spoiled old enough to know better children throwing hissy-fits with the responsible adults not only failing to discourage this but joining in and egging them on.

      1. “YAAAAAARRGH!!!!”

        It’s either Howard Dean approaching, or the start of an episode of “CSI: Miami.”

            1. Remember Miami Vice? Loved the pastels! Before that it was gray. The intro music was good too.

            2. In Hawaii-5-0 (version 1.0), Jack Lord was alleged to have two expressions: Hat On, and Hat Off. cf Rap Reiplinger

    1. Dean? The doctor who admitted to protecting an incestuous child abuser by destroying the evidence of his rape?

      Yeah, makes me want to scream. Makes me want to kipple …

      Yes, Dean! Dean! Dean!
      You politician-liar Howard Dean!
      Though I’ve pelted you and flayed you,
      By the livin’ Gawd that made you,
      You’re a lesser man than I am, Howard Dean!

        1. Here’s a summary of Dean’s confession, from 2003:

          As many of you know, I’m a doctor. I’m an internist, and I take care of all ages, pretty much five to 105. And one time I was sitting in my office–and it was not unusual for young kids to come and talk to me because I knew the whole family–and one time a young lady came into my office who was twelve years old and she thought she might be pregnant. And we did the tests and did the exam and she was pregnant. She didn’t know what to do. And after I had talked to her for a while I came to the conclusion that the likely father of her child was her own father.

          “You explain that to the American people who think that parental notification is a good idea,” Dean concluded, hot-faced and jabbing his finger at the crowd. “I will veto parental notification!”

          These lines generated wild applause, but the anecdote was peculiar. A few weeks later, tipped off by a rival campaign that there might be something fishy about Dean’s 12-year-old girl story, Jake Tapper of the online magazine Salon asked for clarification and got a terse concession from the governor that he’d omitted what one might think a crucial detail: “All I’m going to tell you is that her father was not the father of her child, it was more complicated than that. But it was adjudicated and someone was severely punished.” Around this same time, Jill Lawrence of USA Today inquired of Dean whether he didn’t think the fatherhood question especially relevant in a parable about parental notification, and Dean got so upset that he threatened to call her editor.

          Finally, a few months later, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Tim Russert subjected Dean to an extended grilling about the Incest That Never Was, and Dean hemmed and hawed his way through what effectively stands to this day as his official explanation: It “didn’t make any difference” who was eventually identified as the responsible party.


          During Vermont’s 2001-2002 state legislative session, Dean cited the same 12-year-old girl in support of his threat to veto a parental notification bill that was then before the House of Representatives. Which prompted the bill’s chief sponsor, Peg Flory, Republican chairwoman of the Vermont House Judiciary committee, to become alarmed over the possibility that there might be incest victims in the state, minor children, whose abuse was going unreported to anybody. This because, as the governor then was telling the 12-year-old’s tale, he had not reported her abuse to the authorities.

          On February 5, 2001, Dean gave an interview to this effect on a Burlington radio talk show hosted by a man named Mark Johnson. The show was taped, and a transcript was made, and the key section of that transcript, for present purposes, is available for review on a pro-life Internet clearinghouse called, which not too many political reporters look at, apparently. The transcript reads, in part, as follows (with ellipses indicating not omissions, I’m told, but pauses and crosstalk):

          JOHNSON: When you discuss this issue, raise this issue, of when you were a doctor you had a girl come into your office you thought might have been impregnated by her father.

          DEAN: Right.

          JOHNSON: Right, okay. Why, under the current law, would you not have to report that to the authorities?

          DEAN: (Sighing.) Hum, I don’t know. I mean, I don’t know if I do or not. . . . Those laws were passed long after I left medical practice as far as I know. . . . I am not even sure if doctors are covered, ahhh, for those kinds of instances.

          JOHNSON: Really?

          DEAN: I don’t really know. I mean, I don’t know the law.

          JOHNSON: I mean, the school nurse has to, a teacher has to . . .

          DEAN: Well, maybe I did, maybe I broke the law, I don’t have any idea, I don’t even remember exactly when that was. I know it was when I was in the legislature.

          JOHNSON: Okay, well today there are laws on the books that require people to report abuse.

          DEAN: Right, there is . . .

          It goes on this way a bit, with a great many ahhs and umms and momentary silences from the governor, but the suggestion is clear throughout: Sometime during the calendar years 1983-1986, inclusive, while he was serving in the legislature but still practicing medicine, Howard Dean treated a 12-year-old girl whom he suspected had been made pregnant by her father. And yet he did not report this horror, a serious crime, to relevant child welfare or police units, as basic decency would surely have required–and, as it happens, then-current Vermont state law very much did require.

          There’s lots more there, about whether Dean was just making crap up, whether he kew truth from fiction, about the possibility that Dean simply prefers a powerful narrative over fact, or whether Howard Dean even knows a fact from that hole between his cheeks. One thing stands out:

          I wonder what feelings his former patients must have when they see their doctor now.

  8. Driving the SJWs out of publishing would be as impossible a task as driving the snakes out of Ireland … and you ain’t no saint.

    What’s the difference between snakes and SJWs? One crawls on its belly, consumes its victims whole and spews venom on its target. The other is a snake.

    1. Heck, they can’t even get away with excising politically incorrect on-air talent any more:

      Britt McHenry suggests ESPN fired her because she’s conservative
      Two months out of the picture, Britt McHenry briefly reinserted herself into the ESPN drama — before attempting to cover it up.

      The sports reporter, who was one of approximately 100 employees ESPN let go in April, suggested in a since-deleted Twitter comment Monday she knows why the Worldwide Leader sent her packing: She’s a conservative at what she apparently sees as a liberal network.

      “I mean I’ve been openly Conservative… look how that ended up…” McHenry wrote in response to a tweet slamming ESPN for arguing it’s not liberal, according to a screengrab from The Big Lead.

      McHenry’s political reasoning comes at a time when ESPN’s supposedly liberal-leaning content has been widely debated, even inside Bristol.

      In the week following the network’s layoffs, “SportsCenter” anchor Linda Cohn agreed with a radio host who wondered whether ESPN’s politics was hurting its ratings and thus its capacity to pay its employees’ salaries. Earlier this month, ESPN issued a press release, interestingly at the same time it rehired conservative firebrand Hank Williams Jr., that tried to clear its name of a political bent. An ESPN-commissioned study determined that ESPN is “getting it right” in its combination of sports and political content, the network announced.


      OTOH, McHenry is probably nest known for a viral video of her berating a clerk while redeeming her towed vehicle:

      “I’m in the news, sweetheart, I will f—–g sue this place,” McHenry tells the employee at the start of the video before launching into personal attacks on her looks and education.

      “Yep, that’s all you care about, is just taking people’s money,” McHenry says. “With no education, no skillset, just wanted to clarify that. … Do you feel good about your job? So I could be a college dropout and do the same thing? Why, cause I have a brain and you don’t?

      “Maybe if I was missing some teeth they would hire me, huh? Oh like yours, ’cause they look so stunning … ‘Cause I’m on television and you’re in a f—–g trailer, honey.”

      OTOH, ESPN happily kept her on air for a couple of years after the one-week suspension which followed that video.

      1. Dateline 2023:
        ESPN Sold!
        New Owners: Initials Kept, Content Changing.

        The long downward spiral for the once big sports network, ESPN (Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) is perhaps at an end. The new owners claim they will move to make the channel more about content than ideology, citing the dropoff of viewership and value of the last several years. However, they are also changing the content from the channel’s origins. While some might claim, if only anonymously, that the entertainment will remain, and that there is perhaps some aspect of sport involved, it will not be suitable for little Johnny or Susie to watch the new ESPN, the Equine Sex Picture Network.

      2. Uh…. “supposedly” left-leaning? Their idea of balance was having one weedy white guy Bernie Bro arguing with the three big black retired sportsball guys about if Hillary was the second coming or Trump was just satan.

    2. driving the snakes out of Ireland
      They swam across and became NYC policemen.

      I can’t imagine that the SJWs would become anything, aside from the useful idiots they already are.

  9. Only thing I’d say different is dealing fairly with friends.

    Deal fairly with everyone. Yes, it does have an up-front cost– some people will take that risk to harm you. I think it’s worth it, because it has the opportunity to let people escape.

    This does not mean you kick the #$@# football Lucy has, every time. To deal FAIRLY does not mean “pretend you don’t know anything”!

  10. “I’d long ago found there was a limit to my dissembling.”

    I’m good for a two hour interview, or used to be, back in the day. After that, the wings and the tail stick out a bit. That’s long enough to fool a lot of people into hiring me.

    I can keep the dragon on a leash for about six months, before the Norms finally figure out exactly what they hired. Then they have to decide if its safe to keep me around. Usually no, its not safe. No use telling them “but its a FRIENDLY dragon.” Nope. Nopenopenope!

    One time I got hired by freaks just like me, that was hilarious fun for quite a while. The patients were a bit confused at times, but happy to be getting WAY BETTER than they did at the other, Normie places.

    Some of us don’t do dissembling worth a damn. Thank you, Sarah, for helping make it so I don’t have to.

    1. “It’s a Good Thing I’m not evil…”
      “…oh, wait.”
      “What, are my horns showing?”

      Of course, after that, the occasional moo is generally no big deal.

      1. Ox is of course allowed horns. Horns not a sign of evil on an ox.

        However, I can see how that might cause some confusion when you first meet people.

  11. I’m glad you didn’t quit. I might have never discovered you, otherwise.

    In other words, it’s good to know I’m not the only weirdo. 😀

    1. While reading the post it occurred to me that it was about that time that I had started participating here. The obvious conclusion is that I have been a good luck mascot. Nice to know I’ve not been good for nothing.

      Wallabies Rule! (In a gentle ineffective way, of course.)

    1. I have always found Milo rather icky…and the reason he ran into trouble didn’t do anything to change my feelings of ickyness for him…but I nonetheless am *very* glad that things are working out for Milo, too.

      If Milo can stay on his feet after all he’s been through, then any one of us can do that, too! And I think that’s a very important lesson to take from all of this.

      1. I didn’t defend him because I liked him. I defended him because we couldn’t allow the left to take one of us down.
        Also, he communicates to college kids very starkly that we’re not all racist/sexist/homophobes. Just by existing, he does that.

        1. Agree. Watched several of Milo’s college appearances. All but one pure gold, the one he came with a wild wild costume (a distraction). Milo connected with the audience with charm, wit and REASON, while exposing the idiocy and lunacy of being tormented by “our betters”. I’d like to meet Milo’s mother and hear how she allowed her son to be exposed & raped repeatedly by a pedophile clergy, while Milo’s stepfather rated and berated the teen. My husband and i raised two boys, each huge challenges, but we never ever shouted or berated them. (The youngest, age 31, & high IQ, is 3 years sober in AA, putting an adult life together, and finally finding satisfaction in life).

        2. This. I pre-ordered his book. I disagree with certain aspects of his lifestyle, but he’s got some really good points, he connects with the college set, and dang it, he’s one of us.

      2. I’m not a big fan of Milo but the tactics they used against him were despicable. And yes, staying on our feet is important.

        1. He is proof they are not irresistible. They will hate him for that and their hate will make him stronger, for which they will hate him even more.

  12. I have said it before but I think it bears repeating (like the lamp of a lighthouse).

    If indie wasn’t able to provide a living writing wouldn’t be something I’m doing everyday while learning the business.

    Why? Does money make me love writing? No and I have written on and off before and like a lot of wannabes have the five foot shelf of how to write books and hard disk space full of notes and outlines and half-written novels.

    I didn’t bother making them a professional effort because I figured out about 1990 or the reality was a writing career was based on a popularity contest straight out of high school. In this version the jocks and the cheerleaders were called editors and agents.

    I hated that crap in high school and realized I could make a better living with my technicals once I was out of the service or with a STEM degree (although I wouldn’t hear that term for decades).

    I do not think in the 1940s or 50s it was so much a popularity contest thing. There were too many markets too spread out for the group think I could already see 30 years ago to take over.

    Then I watched strong authors, not just midlisters, but older authors who weren’t hip disappearing from the shelves. You can barely find any Heinlein today in a B&N. Hell, you can barely find any Lawrence Block in a B&N and he’s still alive and writing new books.

    You know where you can find both in a plenty? eBooks on Kindle and other locations.

    Block has brought out his own titles on indie to the point he has revised his classic book on novel writing to include the “to pixels” part.

    Now storytelling, something I love to do, is worth treating as a profession because I can go out like a cross between Homer and a Fuller Brush salesman and peddle my wares without some editor’s permission.

    Who would want to give that up?

  13. I’m glad you didn’t give up Sarah. You’re a good inspiration.

    (Oh good, it looks like clearing the cookies on this machine is going to fix my name problem.)

  14. “Part of it is that when the left takes over an institution, guts it, and prances around in its skin demanding respect, they destroy that institution from within.”

    The Aztecs of Old Mexico were known for cutting the hearts out of still breathing victims, but they also had another peccadillo – they would strip the skin off important victims and, as you say, prance about in that skin demanding the respect that the original owner merited. Similar to the left’s custom, and perhaps for the same reason, to destroy their enemies’ institutions and corrupt their history. For the Aztecs it was a religious thing – perhaps it’s so for the left as well.

    The Aztecs are gone, they met someone more savage than they, but their savagery lives on.

    1. There is a joke in there about the Aztecs, modern Liberals and Ed Gein, but a person would have to be psycho to make it.

    2. They didn’t meet someone more savage than them. They met someone more competent at waging war than them.
      There is a rather large difference between the two. Very different skill sets.

      1. Warriors tend to be more savage than soldiers, but soldiers tend to defeat warriors whenever they meet in anything close to equal force.

        1. Cortez’s advantage was that he was able to gather enough native Mexicans warriors to match the Aztec warriors in numbers.

          IE There was enough people in Mexico that hated the Aztecs to match the Aztec forces but until Cortez arrived they weren’t able to work together.

          Cortez managed to get them to work together in order to fight the Aztecs.

          Mind you, there was one other advantage for both his forces and the Mexican forces.

          The Aztecs went to war to capture live warriors for sacrifice.

          Cortez’s forces wanted dead Aztecs not live prisoners. 😉

          1. One and done. The Aztecs kept coming back.

            One of the great mysteries of Aztec life is how so many war captives were persuaded to play their part. Oh, sometimes you had big mass sacrifices where you could drug ’em, but there were sacrifices where the victim’s actions were complex enough to make that impossible — drugs enough to stupefy them would keep them from doing it.

            1. Was sacrifice a part of their native culture, I wonder? It might explain why they acquiesced.

              1. I’ve read a few authors, going back to T. R. Feherenbach and some anthropologists, who argue that the idea of fate and of sacrifice were so ingrained in all the post-Olmec religions of Meso-America that it played a role in resistance to the Aztec or lack thereof.

                1. I deleted, because it was late and lack of sleep makes me stupider than usual, a comment speculating that the Aztec state cult was simply a particularly obnoxious variation of a wider religious group in the area. My comparison was to all the communists purged in communist purges who went to the chopping alter preaching the communist gospel. But I ran into the fact that I don’t know enough about those deaths for certain to separate genuine martyrdom type faith from trying desperately to explain things away from simple propaganda.

            2. You may know more than me about the Aztec rituals but IIRC the ones where the “victim” had to actively take part may not have included a “war captives” but a believers in the religion. IE The “victim” believed that it was a true honor and believed that the gods would honor him afterwords.

              The only Aztec ritual involving a war captive “actively taking part” was one where the war captive had to fight Aztec warriors. The odds were against the war captive but apparently if he won, he got to live and lived very well.

              1. No, the only ritual in which the victims was not a war captive was the Tlatoc one, of babies taken from the population. (Aztecs: An Interpretation by Inga Clendinnen)

          2. Wait.
            WHAT was the characteristics of that feathered serpent guy that he was supposedly mistaken for….?

            Somebody needs to write a story where there’s some kind of angel helping that out….

            1. Or a story of discovering an Icelandic saga about a rag-tag survivor of an almost forgotten expedition, who tries to gather men to go back and retake his kingdom.

              1. I’m a bit, ah, skeptical about “ethno-historians” whose theory goes entirely on assuming the only mentioned sources are lying.

                Things like “how many relevant documents had no Spanish influence?” come to mind immediately– and I’m a bit suspicious that the deciding factor would be “did it say what I’m arguing against? Then it must be Spanish influence.”

                *sigh* Scholarship has really poisoned the well. 😦

                1. Point.

                  Of course, we can still imagine that Cortez had angelic (or other) help.

                  If any culture deserved to be destroyed, it was the Aztec culture but some people like to white-wash it.

                  1. Oh, gads, yes–my loss of innocence on THAT stuff came from claims that the Spanish were horrible because they destroyed the local religions, but chopping out living hearts was A-OK, coupled with the fact that there’s argument on if Carthage sacrificed children.

              2. Oooooh! Someone could work in a whole “feathered serpent” thing using those fossils of dinosaurs with feathers, too!

                I’m trying to figure out how to use it, but too influenced by Warcraft’s version right now.

      2. The Spaniards had recently finished the reconquest of Spain, and were not particularly nice people for that experience. Weren’t necessarily Mexica grade, but were very much not nice people.

        1. “When the Spaniards think your behavior is excessively savage and bloodthirsty, you know you’ve gone too far”?

  15. (Yeah, it is a case of “and yet she persisted.”)

    That meme annoyed me so much that there’s going to be a short-short in my next collection, where it applies twice, and means very different things.

    1. Most people would’ve thought that the Clintons had collected enough graft for anyone, and yet she persisted.

      Many people might’ve cut their losses, quit chasing power to enjoy their remaining years in quiet, and yet she persisted.

  16. You think STEM degrees are an island apart from PC indoctrination and SJ intimidation? Looked at a STEM list of required courses lately? Or examined the contents of the curricula or a textbook? Or heard the faculty’s political comments insinuated into every class?

    The progressive/Marxist left is irrepressible. It has not shame and no bounds. And if science is the victim, so be it. My youngest, in high school, had to take a mandated math-free chemistry course … because misogyny. Honest.

    1. Actually, the course was called Phys/Chem…was math free…because math, a masculine dominated field, oppressed girls. The fact that colleges would not accept the course for credit bothered my son’s private school not one bit.

      1. Insert my standard rant about how STEM majors going to get breadth requirements in other fields have to take the same 101 courses that people in the field take and that count towards a degree in that field but when the arts and humanities crowd come over to the STEM house they get to take special made-up courses with no math or science in them and which majors cannot take and count towards their degree which proves STEM people are inherently more capable than A&H types because we can do at least intro work in their fields but they can’t do it in ours.

    1. um… at some point, but I’m still organizing the sewing room. When I have basic models I’ll post here. (Not to replace writing, but it is part of what I do for relaxation.)

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