Lighting A Candle on the Road to Damascus

Science fiction and fantasy icon Ursula K Le Guin  has a rather tiresome essay saying that she was once “a man.”  Because, she says, once upon a time the only role models available for women were male, and therefore she viewed herself as a man.  Yes, I’m rolling eyes as I type this, just as I rolled them while reading the nonsense the first time.

I’ve often expounded my theory that people who need someone who is exactly like them in external characteristics to enjoy a book or a movie, have never left the early toddler stage, where having your name in a book really helps you enjoy it.

I never had that problem, and reading stories with men or boys never made me less of a woman.  Perhaps, of course, because I knew a lot of women in normal, every day life.

Books about humans interest me more than books about aliens, now, but books about aliens are usually so badly written and I keep visualizing humans in rubber suits.

Of course, perhaps I’m doing  Le Guin a disservice.  Perhaps, she, rationally wrote the article for mercenary reasons knowing that the way to advance and be considered an icon in the field is to be as leftist as possible.  Or even more.  And that the most prized form of leftism is “feminism” as we wind our way to a full misandrist society.

(It is not wrong nor bad to seek one’s own advancement.  In fact that I can’t do it and still look at myself in the mirror in the morning vexes me greatly.  I blame dad and his notions of honor.  They have crippled him all his life, so of course he shared them with me.  Honorable as an idealized Roman patrician, proud as the devil himself, and yep, inevitably, poor as church mouse.  Okay, he managed to defeat the last due to sheer insane work and self-denial, but it’s not a patch on the life he could have had. What does it say about me that I’m proud of him for it?)

Which brings us to the topic of this post.

I was never leftist in the sense that the most leftist people would consider me such.  I was always more or less a reflexive anti-communist, which exempts me from being considered in the same category as, say, Barrack Obama or Hillary Clinton. It also shields me from ever being considered “cool” by most editors in my field, who, by the time I broke in, had convinced themselves that communism was where it was at, and that belief in that scourge of human life demonstrated their massive intellect.

However, if you’ve graduated from a Western university in the last forty years, you can say that you were once a leftist.  And that goes double if you graduated from a university in Europe.

Unless you went in fortified and determined to resist brain-washing, (and I was in Europe, where the options, from the US pov are international socialism or national socialism.  there no non-left option) they got under your skin in one way or another.

One way they got under my skin was via my hobby of reading science fiction and fantasy, most of whose practitioners were, at the very least, soft left and many of whom were communist or very very socialist, back when I was young.

Oh, sure, I could resist the outright communists and groan at things like saying capitalism had died because it wasn’t viable, in their so-much-better communist future.  Look, I read Heinlein too.

I even fell for “feminism” (remember I grew up in a Latin country) until I came to the US where the first thing to make me give them the hairy eyeball (besides the fact that honestly, to an outsider the US read as a matriarchy) was their tendency for rape the language (Herstory, pfui. Every time I saw that written anywhere, I knew the leading lights of the movement were exquisitely indoctrinated morons.)  No sane movement does that, inventing meanings for words that the words never had, just so they can change language.  I’m a linguist.  A decent respect for language and etymology is needed for me to consider you a sane intellectual option.

But where they got under my skin were the things that even Heinlein bought into: ecological destruction that needed government intervention, the sense that we were living in the last viable generation on Earth, the idea of massive, destructive population explosion, the idea there simply weren’t enough resources to go around and some extensive  form of government control of private life was inevitable.

Mind you, I still wanted children (I’d also read The Marching Morons) but apparently there was gloom in my heart for what the future held for my descendants.

I worried about crazy things that the left pushed in the news.  The industrialization of China, and its relative opening up to the free market meant more pollution.  The US’s rejection of mass transportation meant – doom and gloom – we’d all run out of oil and have to bicycle everywhere in the not so distant future. Computers were destroying person-to-person communication. Increased pollution was giving us all cancer.  Everything that made human life more comfortable had to be curtailed, removed, destroyed so we could scratch a living from the surface of the Earth a couple more generations.  And then if no miracle occurred, we’d die or return the the stone age. All the good life was gone, and only the husks remained to my generation and succeeding ones.

Looking at that list, it’s no surprise that science fiction publishing and reading retreated howling to fantasy.  After all, what future was there to look forward to?  By the nineties most science fiction was just scolding humans for their sins. (Okay not all, and later I found out my reading habits followed Jim Baen around.  As he moved houses, so did my buying even though at the time I had no idea who he was, and never looked at the editorial house name.)

I was 29 and my son was 1 when I got a gift magazine subscription from an anonymous donor.

The magazine was Reason – then under the redoubtable Virginia Postrel – and I still have no clue who sent it to me.  If you ask me, EVERYONE I knew at the time in the US was at least soft left and some of my friends were considerably hard left.

But someone did send me the magazine.  I don’t remember what the issue was, precisely, but I remember it took on a series of ecological issues, and it had a lot of facts about why these weren’t precisely so.  For the first time in my life people were telling me the future was NOT all doom and gloom.  There was hope for life, liberty and yes, even the pursuit of happiness.

I have stopped subscribing to Reason – sometime after 2001, when liberaltarian became a thing – but I can’t describe the effect those first few issues had on me.

It was like opening a window in a dark, moldy room, and letting the sunshine in when I didn’t know sunshine EXISTED.

All of a sudden, I could integrate what I’d seen with my lying eyes – that people were generally living better, that the world as a whole was safer and cleaner – with facts and theories.  I could understand and integrate the fact that poverty was always greater under socialism and less under a free market, and consider that maybe we were not running out of resources, we were being stamped out of our liberty, and oppression took all our wealth.

I stopped fearing runaway global warming – and how I managed to do that, frankly, when I still remembered the global cooling panic is a testimony to the power of biased media – and world war three, and running out of gasoline, and nuclear energy, and wearing non-organic-material clothing, and pollutants in my beauty products, and guns in the hand of the common folk, and—

I don’t mean that the magazine converted me overnight.  It didn’t. It took at least five years and a lot of thinking for me to become anti-statist and to fully digest the enormity of the lies I’d been told by people in positions of trust.

BUT that subscription to reason was the beginning.  It made me see the contradictions that had been bothering me, but which I thought must mean I was missing something, since everyone who was someone seemed to agree the world was a dark, evil place and becoming more so.

Of course, part of this was the result of the false “uniformity of opinion” created by the mass distribution and control of news, which is fast becoming a thing of the past, as the new media rises in power.  Back then, if your lying eyes showed you something the media — all of the media — said was false, you wondered about your sanity, and the tendency was to fall back in line with the central narrative, unless you really, really couldn’t justify it.

I still don’t know who sent me that subscription, much less why they thought there was hope for me, considering the things I believed and the way I talked at the time.

But without that person, there would have been no Darkship Thieves, no According to Hoyt blog, and none of the PJM  posts, either.  I’d remain anti-communist, but also convinced that the free market and liberty weren’t the answer, and futilely seek a “third way.”  I’d believe socialism was close to the answer, if we could just hold in that state, without falling into full communism.

I hope whoever it was is happy with the results.  I am.  And in the spirit of paying it forward, I’ve sent many a person copies of P. J. O’Rourke’s Eat the Rich or All the Trouble in the World, both of which have the same message as those first Reasons I read. There are other books of course, but those are the ones I normally send.

I’ve also sought to break the chains of leftist-induced depression in blogs and posts, many, many times.  I’ve tried to open the windows for others, so they see there is hope – lots of it – if only they’re willing to work towards it.

The world isn’t coming to an end.  Only the statist world.  And that leaves the future wide open for humanity and liberty.

Be not afraid.  Light a candle and let the hope of a bright future into your life and maybe even into someone else’s.

 

512 responses to “Lighting A Candle on the Road to Damascus

  1. And after all the troubles, trials, and tribulations had left Pandora’s box, all that was left was hope….

    I think my problem with to many people is their short memories with the recent past and present. No one seems to remember anything from 5, 10, or even 15 years ago. I have these odd conversations where I bring up incident X from 20 years ago and how it’s relevant to incident Y that happened yesterday and get bewildered stares. Maybe it’s because I have a good memory, I tend to think that most people just don’t want to remember anything anymore.

    We have a great future ahead of us, things are much better now than they were say 20 years ago. Hope doesn’t sell that well, doom and gloom seem to sell better.

    • I think most people don’t have the natural memory to clearly remember events from ten or more years ago. It’s a trait only shared by a few people I’ve known in my life, most of whom I’m related to.

      Of course, training goes into it somewhat as well. The fact that schools somehow make history boring probably has something to do with it.

      • It could be worse. At least US schools teach history, and civics. My Dutch high school didn’t teach history, and civics was a completely unknown concept. I didn’t learn much about the Dutch war for independence until I read a history of it by a US author, decades later. And I didn’t learn there was a Dutch Declaration of Independence until about 10 years ago (when I read about it on a Belgian website, of all places).

        • THIS. Hell, I found better books on Portuguese history in the US than I ever found in Portugal.

          • That’s not TOO terribly odd, actually. The best history of the Confederate Navy was written by an Italian, the best history of the Zulu Wars by an American Naval Officer (who was attaché in Berlin when he wrote it). Sometimes you need an outsider’s perspective.

            • Some forty years ago I was delighted to find, in a London book shop, a history of Custer’s Last Stand (and the events leading up thereto) by British children’s author and biographer Roger Lancelyn Green. With no axes to grind and no compulsion to defend he produced a very readable, literate and reasonably accurate history.

              • Well,one modern British “historian” had plenty of SJW axes to grind and as a result had a horrendously inaccurate summary of American history. We’re talking an F on a history test level inaccuracies, not a matter of opinion over events.

            • Theodore Roosevelt’s The Naval War of 1812 was widely considered by the Royal Navy as the on the subject. The closest thing to a naval background he had were tales from maternal uncles who’d served in the Confederate Navy, and a distant cousin on his paternal side who’d gone into the US Navy.

              • He did have one shining advantage: he was there first. His motive for writing it was that no book had been written on the topic.

        • That’s interesting to hear, but perhaps a bit rosy about American schools. I think history and civics are as or more often mangled than “taught.” But some do still take it seriously.

          • The kids learned to hide their history books from me.

            • Otherwise they had to explain to teachers all the strikethroughs and angry margin notes? 🙂

              • I was already holding impromptu history classes at home when someone would say something audacious that they supposedly learned in history. But it was a horrendous, what-where-they-smoking, definition of the 10th Amendment where I mentioned going to the school and speaking to their teacher that caused the history textbooks to abruptly vanish.

          • I had a decent American History course in high school (though unfortunately the teacher had the most soothing baritone voice—bit of a drawback when you’re overbooked and a teenager.) But it wasn’t until college and a professor who taught at warp speed that I really found out what a history course could be like. Along with our world history information (from the mid 1600s; this was the second semester), we had FOUR novels to read, one of them Anna Karenina. And we actually were given a good explanation of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which I’d never heard explained before. (Just mentioned with the assumption that we’d somehow picked up details through osmosis or something.)

            And then that professor died two weeks after finals from undiscovered stomach cancer. Which is one of the reasons I tend to tell people to take care of their health first—he always had time for his students and put off getting checked until the end of the school year.

      • Alas, schools seem to make almost any subject boring. I know I got the ‘core’ stuff at or from school or at least partly so. But what I recall as interesting seemed to come from home – or if from school, from the school library from something not assigned.

        • Too often, teachers are assigned to subject classes on an availablity basis, so end up teaching something they’re not at all interested in, either. Little wonder they can’t make it interesting for their students.

          • I had an AP Calculus teacher whose principal qualification was that she was the most recent faculty member to take calculus. She routinely had to be corrected by the students in her demonstrations.

            • My AP Calculus class was taught by an engineer, first thing in the morning because that’s when he could get the time off work. Private school, though, so they could get away with hiring someone who didn’t have an education credential.

              • Which means you probably learned what calculus was FOR. (Something I didn’t get until about my third go around, but desperately needed for calc to make sense.)

                • My dad was an engineer, and previous science classes had done things like go to amusement parks with measuring tools, so we had some inkling already.

                • I don’t know why, but I don’t remember having learned what Calculus was for when taking it in high school, but loved it anyway.

                  On the other hand, when I was taking Physics for Scientists and Engineers, I learned that a room-mate was taking a version for non-math folk. He explained that his version was actually *harder*, because they were afraid of exposing people to that difficult “calculus” stuff — which is the very stuff designed to make the subject easier!

                  I can’t help but wonder: is calculus *really* so hard that you can’t provide a simple crash course of it in the very subject that gave birth to it in the first place? (If I recall correctly, even in places in physics where calculus was used, the calculus was very basic — mostly limited to polynomials! and maybe the occasional log or trig function…)

                  • Yes, it is that hard. Non-STEM majors have all but admitted that adding is all they are ever willing to do with numbers and often not even that. Hence the need for “not really math” and “not really science” classes for them to meet their breadth requirements.

                    For some reason the STEM people aren’t demanding “not really English” or “not really history” (although many history departments provide more of that than actual history).

                  • I can’t speak for anyone but myself (Geologist here. Rocks are my friends, though not my pets.) Getting to calculus was like hitting a wall, mathematically, for me. Prior to that, Math was one of my stronger subjects. The issue, to me, was two fold:
                    1) the amount of ‘it just works this way and you have to trial and error until you get a feel for it, because if it’s not obvious which set of methods you use, we can’t help you.’ (there was no PATTERN I could discern. I began to get the glimmerings of those patterns that third course, but it was an incomplete one.)
                    2) There seemed to be no logical correlation between the math and anything in reality. It was all ‘this means that physical thing, take my word for it.’ Again that third class helped.

                    I REALLY hope that particular TA gets a good job in Academia and they keep him teaching the undergrad level classes. It was the first time things made sense in ANY of my calculus based classes (Including physics II, where they went straight to ‘Here is the calculus not even the Engineers have seen yet, if you don’t speak fluent math that’s you’re problem. You shouldn’t have taken basic calculus based physics until after differential equations anyway. What do you mean you aren’t taking differential equations? Idiot.’)

                    Much as I loathed having to take Calc again (There was a 5 year break between my first three semesters and the rest of my degree, in which time they re-arranged the calc classes so I had to re-take one.)

                    • When I was in High School we had a calculus class that was basically just rote rule following. This is the power rule for differentiation. That sort of thing. I did reasonably well in it but it never led to anything. Then, when I was near the end of my enlistment in the Air Force and preparing myself for going into college (which, as it happened, would prove to still be several years away), I came across a book “Calculus the Easy Way.”

                      It started by actually deriving the rules and usually from a “here’s a physical problem, now how do we solve it?” Very helpful in actually understanding the calculus. The “physical problems” were often ridiculous in nature and the conceit of the book was that it was sort of a fantasy story in the mythical kingdom of Carmorra. But it added a little fun to the problem and, when I encountered more in-depth calculus in college, it provided a grounding that helped a lot.

                      The book was good enough, for my purposes, that I went back and picked up the earlier books in the set: Algebra the Easy Way and Trigonomety the Easy Way as refreshers on those subjects (and both went quite a bit farther than my high school courses had).

                    • My mother had the algebra one. I didn’t realize they’d made more. I shall have to look into them. 🙂

                    • They added a little bit of silly fun to the subject, which helped.

                    • That is no loonger permitted in much of Academia, as inclusion of a joke may well result in a Hostile Learning Environment.

                      My University Treated Me Like a Criminal Over a Joke
                      Trent Bertrand 0 Comments

                      For the past six years, I have taught an undergraduate course on international economics at Johns Hopkins University. Most of my students thought it was a very good course. So I was shocked when, on December 6, 2016, I was met at the door of my classroom by Johns Hopkins security personnel and barred from entering.

                      The next day, I received a letter from my dean suspending me from my teaching duties—just three classes before the end of the semester.

                      What had I done to cause such a reaction by the administration? I had told a joke when discussing off-shoring, the practice of firms shifting work abroad, often in search of lower wages. Here it is:

                      An American loses his job due to his work being off-shored. He is very depressed and calls a mental health hot line. He gets a call center in Pakistan where the call center employee asks, “What seems to be the problem?” The American responds that he has lost his job due to the work being sent overseas and states, “I am really depressed and actually suicidal.” The call center employee says, “Great. Can you drive a truck?”

                      The lecture on off-shoring took place several weeks earlier. The stated reason for my suspension was that three students (out of 68) complained that my joke had created a “hostile learning environment” in the class. That’s a charge most college administrators now take with the utmost seriousness.

                      [SNIP]

                      I believe that the real reason I was barred from class and suspended was that in response to being informed two weeks earlier that a complaint had been made, I had noted the Orwellian characteristic of the OIE, quoting from their website but adding the [bolded] phrase in brackets:

                      Johns Hopkins is dedicated to the world of ideas and that world expands exponentially as those with different experiences and points of view share their knowledge and interpretations with one another […unless of course those views diverge from the dominant groupthink protected under the banner of ‘political correctness’ or threaten the safe spaces and comfort of anyone else]. Our commitment to diversity and inclusion reflects both a recognition of the past and the promise of the future, something owed to everyone in the Hopkins community.

                      I had also noted that the OIE appeared to be an enforcement mechanism for the “Political Correctness” and “Safe Spaces” culture supporting the Roadmap to Diversity and Inclusion promulgated by President Ron Daniels and Johns Hopkins trustees.

                      [SNIP]

                      Hopkins has an Academic Council with the mandate to “consider cases of alleged academic misconduct, faculty discipline, and appeals from negative promotion decisions, and will take action as necessary.” An appeal for access to the Academic Council by me, and for me by the Association of American University Professors, was met with the reply that no action could be taken before the OIE investigation was complete.

                      Although the OIE investigation was finished in early April and I was told a report would be ready in two weeks, the OIE has failed to complete the report, thereby delaying any access to a faculty review.

                      The term of my contract ended June 30 of this year and the long delay in providing such a report may simply indicate a desire to prevent access to the Academic Council, perhaps with its concurrence.

                      [SNIP]

                      In their article The Coddling of the American Mind, Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt worry that the imposition of “vindictive protectiveness” (a good description of my case) encourages students to think pathologically. Based on my experience, I can also affirm that it also encourages administrators, OIE investigators, and some faculty to also think pathologically. The failure to provide students alternative perspectives while encouraging them to think about and debate controversial issues and to make up their own minds is where many universities are now failing American students.

                      [SNIP]

                      Our universities have gone badly astray when professors can be yanked out of their classes and denied rudimentary academic due process simply because a student couldn’t take a joke or administrators cannot tolerate criticism of actions that threaten to undermine the idea of a university.

          • Nonsense! it is a well-established principle of contemporary pedagogy that “Teachers Teach” and that subject matter content is not necessary. This is why the principals city school superintendents school boards state school superintendentsstate school boards Department of Education bureaucrats Professional Education Consultants at Textbook publishers establish appropriate scope and sequence lists and materials for the teachers classroom supervisors to present.

            • I remember someone on the radio years ago trying to make the case that teachers didn’t need to understand the subject matter they are trying to teach — they only need to know how to teach.

              I can’t help but wonder, though: how can you know how to teach, when you don’t know the material well enough to be able to teach it?

              (Granted, you don’t need to know multivariate complex analysis to teach fractions…but you need to know fractions well, and probably a touch of algebra and geometry too, in order to teach fractions…)

              It boggles my mind that such a notion can even be planted in people’s heads; what’s even worse, is that so many people actually believe it…and that many of those people are in school administrations and teacher’s unions…

              • The reality is that learning to teach is easy, but you can’t teach X if you don’t know X. Anyone who claims otherwise is a fool at best, and more likely evil.

                • No. Just… No.

                  Some people have absolutely no ability to teach, whatsoever, and no amount of instruction, training, or friggin’ ritual abuse will ever manage to somehow “teach” those people how to teach themselves.

                  You’re absolutely right that you have to be able to do “X” yourself in order to be able to teach “X”, but the ability to actually teach said “X”? That’s not something you can somehow magically impart by putting someone through a course in “Education”. You can help someone enhance their skills at instruction and teaching by exposing them to some things in those courses, but if they lack the apparently inborn capacity to effectively teach, in the first damn place? You’re wasting their time, your money, and a whole lot of student’s attention.

                  Genius only rarely makes for an effective teacher. I had a math prodigy for a tutor, once upon a time, and I despaired of ever getting a dollar’s worth of value out of the guy–For him, it was all crystalline-clear, and he did the majority of his work in his head, leaving anyone else looking at his “…and, so, A implies B, donchasee…?” and going “WTF did he just do…?”.

                  Truly gifted teachers are a rare commodity; some of them make it look so easy that the rest of us think that what they do must be trivial, but it really, really isn’t. And, what makes them “gifted” isn’t really transmissible to those lacking said gifts.

                  • I agree that truly gifted teachers are rare, just as truly gifted anything else are. Capable teachers are not that rare.
                    As for a course on “education”, I never spoke of such a thing. I have never seen any evidence that this “field” has any merit whatsoever, or ever will. Heinlein skewered it rather nicely. In my Dutch high school, the teachers all held university degrees in their fields, and none of them to the best of my knowledge ever attended an “education” course — I’m not sure they even existed. They did spend some time as a teacher intern. I think I had one or two really excellent teachers, one or two rather bad ones, and the remaining dozen or so were decent.

                    • I see why you might have confidence that the ability teach can itself be taught–You’ve never been exposed to the dolts we have permeating the education system here in the US, whose sole qualifications to be teachers stems from having degrees in “education”.

                      Trust me on this–Having had to try to teach “teaching” to a lot of junior NCOs over the years, and having observed the same issues/syndromes in my mom’s fellow teachers at the school where she taught, there’s a definite “something” that has to be present in the individual in order for them to be able to effectively teach someone else how to do something.

                      It’s a quality of empathy, to some degree–You see it in some trades, as well. My youngest brother is a gifted carpenter, an artist in wood. However, he’s completely unable to actually impart his skills and insight to anyone else, because he lacks that undefined quality that makes an even semi-competent teacher. On the other hand, there are some guys he works around who are the sort that knowledge just sort of flows off of, and everyone around them winds up learning things, despite themselves.

                      Teaching, in the profound sense of being able to impart skills and knowledge, as well as enthusiasm for the subject, is just not something that everyone possesses the capacity for, or the raw ability. You can enhance someone’s skills at instruction, but the true vocation…? If it ain’t there, it never will be, no matter how much effort you put into it.

                  • Ugh. My Dad was one of those – a near-genius, who just couldn’t comprehend how his kids didn’t grasp the concept of being able to tell time.
                    I think that my next-youngest brother and I may still be scarred from that attempt.
                    And no – I did not want Dad to teach me how to drive. I had a job by then, and paid for lessons out of my wages. He did try to teach my younger sister how to drive; from family legend, she was in hysterical tears before they even got out of the driveway.

        • I had read most everything in the kid’s Encyclopedia Brittanica early on, and the adult one was well used. I learned most of the good stuff from there and going to the library (and from those WW2 cards you could subscribe to) – much more than from school books.

      • Of course, training goes into it somewhat as well. The fact that schools somehow make history boring probably has something to do with it.

        When I took US History from 1917 to 1945 at UofA on of the first things the professor said was: “History isn’t Boring, Historians are.”

        • Our (pretty darn small) college was fortunate enough to have two excellent history teachers. One of them often came across as having known most of the historical figures being studied, knowing things about them that said characters would rather you not know, and not much caring about their feelings. Students were surprised, btw, to find that he was missing one leg, from an accident when he’d been working as a logger while a college student. They might never have found out if he wouldn’t go water skiing during spring or summer recesses.

          The other excellent teacher was always self conscious about his very evident West Virginia accent, but it added something to his lectures on the Civil War period. Byzantine history was pretty engaging, too.

          But no, not enough good history teachers.

          • *sigh*
            The most awesome history teacher that I had in college — was a guy at Glendale College (a public junior college, let it be said) who was so awesome that students would sit outside the classroom where he lectured. Just to share in the awesomness.

            • Prof Leith at Ohio University’s Southern Campus. Awesome, awesome teacher. A millenia or two ago he’d have been the most sought-after bard in the kingdom. No patience for university politics, and all the time in the world for his students.

              He’d lean back in his chair, put his feet up on the desk, and start telling all y’all about the fighting, backstabbing, sleeping around, customs, deals made and deals renegged.. because history is people, not dates, and people are incredibly fascinating and complex creatures.

              He also started out his European history class with the first prehistoric cave paintings found, as he felt that trying to start with the Roman Empire was absolutely missing out on a whole lot of the foundation of how Europe was shaped and grew. So all of his clases were two weeks behind their “You’re supposed to have covered by midterms.”

              I threw out half the notes from those classes when I was young and stupid and had a mass allowance for moving. Miss them!

              • Fr. Justin at Benedictine College would say that as long as you remembered what order things happened in, you could always look up dates.

                He also viewed history as an art form and not as a social science.

        • When I took US History from 1917 to 1945 at UofA
          Dang. You’re old *and* it took you a long time to get through school.
          😉

          • It’s what happens when you attend a school that was assigned to a city as punishment for being “a hotbed of secessionists and Confederate sympathizers.”

      • I don’t know about the rest of you, but 10+ years ago is sometimes a heck of a lot clearer than 3-6 months ago. Admittedly, I’m in a high volume situation where it isn’t in my best interest to even try to retain data regarding last month’s closed deals.

    • You think the reaction people have to bringing up something only two decades old is weird? Try bringing up something more than a century old! My parentsmwere both history teachers, so I got immersed in it from my birth.

      I keep getting that look that says I just hit them in the head with a board.

      Somebody says “Buddhism has never been violent!”

      I say “Look up the Japanese word ‘Yamabushi’ amd get back to me.

      Somebody says “We never had race riots until the 1960’s”

      I say “And what were the New York Draft Riots during the Civil War?”

      Pollution has never been this bad? Check out the accounts of living in a London heated by soft coal.

      9/11 was the first Terrorist attack on US soil? Well, let’s pass over the previous attempt on the WTC in 1993. But please look up Molly Maguires, Bloody Kansas, John Brown, and the KKK.

      The vast majority of the Left has no more grasp of history than a fruit fly does of quantum physics. And what they think they know mostly ain’t so.

      • “Marriage has always been between a man and a woman”. “Good LORD, do you read the Bible?” Eh.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Marriage between “males” has never been mentioned in the Bible (at least favorably) and I never heard of marriage between “females” mentioned in the Bible.

          Now some idiot men in the Bible had more than one wife. 👿

            • In a society where there are a lot of unmarried women and relatively few men, and the primary means of production requires the higher average upper body strength, etc. of men, it’s not at all idiot-ish for the single women to encourage mildly polygynistic (word?) households, nor for the men to take on that responsibility if they can. It’s ‘way better than starving, being enslaved by the first passerby, or living in lonely poverty.

            • Every single one of which was a marriage between a man and a woman. As witness that the co-wives didn’t have a legal relationship with each other, only both to him.

              • Specious, Mary, and you know it. He had a relationship with many women and it was marriage. Pfui. That argument about one man and one woman is ridiculous in the light of human history, and your defending it is unworthy. (If they said between men and women I’d have no issue, note. Historically things considered marriage are thus. It’s the resorting to inaccuracy that riles me.)

                • Except that in every single case, people will speak of the husband’s marriage to wife #1 and his marriage to wife #2, and his marriage to wife #3.

                  It is accurate.

            • I think there may be a mis-communication here.

              In English, there is a semantic difference between the phrase “marriage is between a man and a woman” and the phrase “marriage is between one man and one woman.” The former specifies the relationship between two individuals–“marriage”, without regard to the possibility of either of those individuals having the same relationship with a third party. The latter means that “marriage” is a relationship between two individuals exclusively, without a third party. (The normal polygamy practiced in Old Testament societies might be constructed, “marriage is between one man and a woman”, although I’ve don’t think I’ve ever heard it phrased that way.)

              I don’t know if Portuguese makes that distinction, but English does. To say “I have a sister, Janet” can be true even if I also have another sister. But to say “I have one sister, Janet” means that I have no other sister. Now, the language is changing, and we often see “one” now redundantly modified by “only one”, but there has historically been a difference, in precise writing at least.

        • OTOH, the ancient civilization that revered homosexual pairings more than heterosexual ones, didn’t use their term for ‘marriage’ to describe them. (Alexandrian Greeks)

          It’s never as simple as the narrative gatekeepers want you to think.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Yep.

            “Marriage has always been between man and woman” always means “No Same-Sex Marriages have existed in history”.

            Idiot guys marrying more than one woman have existed and there have been marriages where a bunch of guys (often brothers) would marry & share one woman.

            • Keep in mind that I think group marriages are a horrible idea, but… meh.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                Talking about historical forms of marriage nothing more or nothing less.

                Being that I’m too “set in my ways” to be a good husband, it’s nothing that I’m experienced with.

                On the other hand, it would be “interesting” to see attempts to legalize multiple wives marriages or multiple husband marriage. 😉

                • Don’t the Islamic countries have that today? Good Muslim men can marry up to 4 wives is my vague recollection. Now, they would either need to be VERY rich or very suicidal to do so, but it is technically allowed under Sharia law. Query as to how many of those countries also enforce the requirement that the husband treat each wife equally of course …

              • My ‘favorite’ argument against same sex marriage has always been ‘then polygamy will be next’.

                Seriously? With divorce laws and customes the way they are in this country today? Make it legal tomorrow; it won’t be an issue. All it will take is one show of favoritism, and you’ll see one guy being used like a wishbone by his wives.

          • And even there men were supposed to still marry a women and have offspring, no matter what else they did on the side.

          • Yeah, I know. My protest was on the one of each.

          • I see what you did there. You decided to mock up a real live demonstration of what Sarah was talking about up ahead. Being so stewed in the groupthink that you just blithely mouth the “soft progressivism” of the day.

            If the Alexandrian Greeks REVERED homosexual pairings more than hetero pairings, then who was Zeus’s bum buddy? What about Ares? Surely such a masculine god, revered by the Alexandrian Greeks would have a bottom in the pantheon? Nope. Perhaps ugly Hephaestus, with his less than satisfying relationship with Aphrodite, turned to beautiful Dionysius? Nah. While there’s little doubt that the Alexandrian Greeks saw their gods as a bunch of randy, screw anything folks, the simple fact is that there isn’t a single “revered” homosexual pairing among them. ALL of the major gods who were married or “had a significant other’ were opposite sex couples. Yes, some of ’em would have a tumble with same sex, but some of them would tumble almost anything.

            This is just a mock-up demonstration, right?

            • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ganymede_(mythology)

              He was Zeus’s catamite.

              More seriously, there are the writing of people like Plato that talk about homosexuality being “favored” and in a positive way.

              How common this attitude was and what periods of Greek culture it existed in is something to be considered but there were periods were it did exist.

              The stories of the Greek gods started before the period when it existed so likely didn’t contain much homosexual affairs.

              Ganymede’s role of “cup bearer” in a non-sexual role may have started first but the catamite aspect could have been added later.

              Of course, Zeus’s female sexual partners could have existed because worship of Zeus came into areas were a male god had a relationship with various female deities and He replaced the male god in those stories.

      • While I am not sure that the Civil War’s draft riiots in NY constitute race riots, there can be no disputing that the Wilmington, NC riots at the close of the 19th Century were racial.

        There may have been race riots in the Reconstruction South but those were generally met with overwhelming force and then not reported upon by the living (and those who preferred to remain so.)

        • “While I am not sure that the Civil War’s draft riiots in NY constitute race riots,”

          Well, they make a point of hanging negroes from lamp-posts. That qualifies in my book, although there were other issues.

          • The Wilmington race riot of 1898 is given a couple of other names including the Wilmington insurrection of 1898.

            Northern forces had been largely withdrawn after Reconstruction. Members of the white population rioted. They violently attacked the rising black professionals and middle class as well as their businesses. In the end the white Democratic Party seized power and property.

            (Wiki has an article about it: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilmington_insurrection_of_1898)

        • Exercise some historical caution. I know of one “race riot” that was an arrest gone bad and a mob turning on the officers. The one white death was someone mistaken for one of the officers.

          • The NYC Draft Riot was a race riot in that blacks, and charities that helped blacks (orphanages) and people who helped blacks were targeted, even though the riot spread up into the wealthy neighborhoods. The Irish did not like being drafted to fight for the freedom of their direct economic competitors.

            • Volunteering, the Irish did in droves. Getting drafted for “a rich man’s war and a poor man’s fight,” when the wealthy could hire substitutes or get exemptions? Not so popular. Also, NYC was a Democrat town, so there was a lot of Copperhead crud.

              My Irish immigrant gggrandfather rode a flatboat down to New Orleans, saw the slave market there, and came back an abolitionist and a true believer in the brotherhood of man. He joined the Republican Party as soon as there was one, he joined up pretty early in the war, and his tiling business made a point of working for black or white, whoever hired him. (And he switched from naming his sons after Irish Republicans to naming them after American presidents….)

              • his tiling business made a point of working for black or white

                I work for green, and I do not mean “eco-friendly.” Good on your gggrandfather.

          • I think the events leading up to the Ossian Sweet trial in 1925 Detroit certainly count as a race riot.

        • Let’s not forget the Zoot Suit Riots in ’43. Yes, that’s what they were called. Racism straight up.

    • Short memories is why the internet is so useful in cutting through liberal nonsense. It’s really tough today for a politician to say one thing to one group, and a week later an exact opposite thing to another group. And with a few clicks what was said just a few years ago can be brought into public discussion again. No hiding the past. When a politician does a 180, everyone now knows it. The media can’t hide it.

      I’ve seen several Democrat politicians blaming the Obamacare mess on Republicans and what they put into it, when it passed with zero Republican votes or inputs.20 years ago, they’d have gotten away with it. Well, with the crowd they’re speaking to when they spout such idiocies, they still can. But to the masses o teh internet- they can be seen lying in real time.

      • Unfortunately most people will wait for that to be handed to them, and very few do the digging, and even when they do it will likely be seen by few. Partly because journalism is a myth.

        • No. Unbiased journalism is a myth, but it always was. I was half sold on the idea that there had once been objective reporting (it’s what people had been telling me all my life, even Conservatives) until I read Mencken’s NEWSPAPER DAYS and MY LIFE AS AUTHOR AND EDITOR.

          Then I realized; objective reporting is impossible. All reporting, ever is biased to some degree. Even if the author is trying to look past his bias, he will fail. And most reporters lack both the intent and the time to even try.

          • What has been possible in the past has been honest reporting, wherein reporters or news agencies acknowledge and publicly proclaim their biases.

            If Dan Rather tells me he is a Democrat Operative with a byline I can properly weight my evaluation of his reporting. If he tells me he is objective I know he is a liar, a fool, somebody who takes me for a fool or all of the above.

            Heck, even for office gossip I always consider the source.

            • Bingo! I have been saying for years that what was wrong with FOX News was that instead of “We report, you decide” their motto should have been “You know their side, here’s ours.”.

              • For that to really work, Fox would actually need to be on the “other side”, vs. what they actually are, somewhat further to the right than the rest of the media.

                We don’t actually have anyone out there in the mass media that’s “of the right”. It’s all varying flavors and degrees of left-of-center.

                If you disagree with me, ask yourself why it is that the “errors of omission” about what gets reported and highlighted by Fox are still in lockstep with the rest of the media, and why, if they’re “on the right”, they don’t do more to report the ignored stories?

                Our mass media is entirely to the left of the center, even Fox and the other outlets.

      • It’s amazing how many Democrats claimed they voted against “George Bush’s Illegal War in Iraq.” A couple of clicks to .gov showed otherwise.

        Didn’t matter; their followers would believe anything they said, and everyone else figured everything was a lie.

    • I have a weird memory where things have to strike a particular “nerve” for me to remember them. I can’t tell you (yet) how exactly that is determined, but I CAN say that if I try, I can tell whether I will be able to remember something for a significant period of time. I call the feeling of knowing that something will not stick with me “losing traction”, because it feels like it will slip away at the slightest thing.

      There are things I can do to force retention, such as going over something many, many times, or writing it down multiple times, but this requires much time and effort, so I only do it for things that I really, really want to remember.

      But I do remember a lot fo things from as far back as 40 years, that a bunch of people my age don’t remember any more.

    • You raise an interesting point about the value of long-term memory. I see too many people today who say they don’t need to memorize anything because they can look it up on Google. One of the problems with that idea is that Google returns all sorts of things and you need a good BS filter to separate the accurate ones from the inaccurate ones. It also means that memories are the property of others to edit as they see fit, like the Ministry of Truth did in “1984”. Of course, not everything published is available online, either.

      • “I can always stream that.” “I can get it off the web/net/cloud…”

        So I’m Ancient. I like having local copies of stuff – I know where they are (alright, I usually know… sometimes it’s “Well, it ought to be in this pile of stuff” and there also times it’s disorganized.

      • Which also brings in “Fahrenheit 451” where the group of outcasts have memorized different books so they aren’t lost to civilization.

      • I have learned the hard way — by studying “BEAM” robotics (basically, analog robots) that the claim that “the internet never forgets” is false. If there’s no major force for the internet to remember (in this case, an obscure field of experimental knowledge that isn’t necessarily gaining traction) you would do well to figure out how to save that information for future use.

  2. O.K. so you want me to believe that no woman authors were out there. Pish tosh, that is just nonsense.

    You mean women who wrote speculative or science fiction? The who was Mary Shelly then?

    • Oh, no. I think she meant no women characters were out there. And that’s sheer bullshit, too.

      • (Cough) Clarissa MacDougall (Cough) Sylvie Jacquemont (Cough) Paula Quinton (Cough) Hadron Dalla (Cough)
        (Clears throat)
        My, dusty in here, isn’t it?

      • What is it about feminists that must assume they are the first women to matter.

        I find it interesting that LeGuin basically did to her predecessor what the “first woman Hugo” people of recent years did to LeGuin. Women prior to now don’t count because shut up.

        It is a bit sad too. I think LeGuin wrote, bitd, some of the best criticism of fantasy as a genre. She also recorded one of the most important lines in western fantasy literature not named Tolkien in remembering a time when Dunsany pastiche was a “required” stage of learning to be a fantasy author.

        Finally, that makes me wonder one thing. I have notes for a fantasy series whose Tolkien influence is odd (coming from The Lost Tales and most why he first started them) and in that folder I’ve put a reminder to get Language of the Night and re-read it. That is LeGuin is already an influence and someone I want to be a conscious influence.

        *looks down*

        How is that possible given I’m a man. Was she a man when she wrote those essays and ones she writes now couldn’t influence me?

        • “What is it about feminists that must assume they are the first women to matter.”

          My gut reaction is that many Professional Feminists (the ones that make a living of it) come from Academia, and in the Humanities at that. Which is to say, they come from a background where it is almost necessary to tear down what has come before, because if you don’t what the hell is there left to write about on Shakespere?

          Oh, real Scholars can find something, but scholarship is work, amd the sad majority of academics are work-shy bums.

          • I think a simpler explanation (which is not to claim a contradictory one) is that such revolutionary vanguards must always and forever obscure precedents in order to claim themselves deliverers of the Kingdom of heaven on Earth. Look to the Soviet claims that their Baltic clients had never enjoyed such high standards of living prior to the arrival of their Russian benefactors.

            I’ve long maintained that one reason the Jews are so universally despised is that we keep our own set of books, so that when told “Y’all never had it so good!” we can reply, “Oh yes we have, and better.”

            • “I’ve long maintained that one reason the Jews are so universally despised is that we keep our own set of books, so that when told “Y’all never had it so good!” we can reply, “Oh yes we have, and better.””

              It’s never good for your safety to criticize The Powers That Be, and the Jews (bless them!) have always been good at it.

          • It’s because Womyn didn’t exist until 1960 when the Pill was introduced. They don’t know or don’t care that the past is a different country; they do things differently there and for different reasons.

        • Because it’s the only way to claim to be relevant while doing something that’s been done a dozen times over?

      • Perhaps she meant there weren’t any “liberated” women in male roles. There weren’t many of those before the 1960s.

      • The hell with the better part of valour…

        I have never met a character that I thoroughly identified with, and to my knowledge neither has The Spouse. (The Spouse would grumble that this is all the better for readers.) I had never read a character that was at all like The Daughter until I met E.

    • A man, of course. Obviously, it was really Mark Shelley, but the handwriting was really bad and the typographer got that last letter wrong.

  3. I’ve sometimes joked about really being a man, but that’s only because I’d rather wander for hours rather than stop and ask for directions, hate shopping (unless you’re taking computer stuff, gizmos, or books), and can’t stand wearing makeup. But it’s only been a joke.

    • me too on the wandering. But I’m okay with makeup. Just not everyday. Too much work.

    • A woman I dated a few years ago used to joke that she was “the guy in the relationship” since she was the one who drank beer, smoked pot, loved horror movies, violent video games, and sports; while I was the one who sat there bored when her friends would come over to “watch the big game”. I never saw the point to pro sports, It’s a bunch of grown men playing kids games, complaining that they don’t get paid enough.

      • I’m a guy, and I like some sports. For example, ladies’ beach volleyball. But yeah, mostly no interest.

        I totally get why women have picked up on sports more in the last twenty years – lots of sweaty, fit young men running around.

      • I’m with you on not understanding the point of watching sports. I can understand DOING sports (though I personally don’t like them), but WATCHING?

        OTOH, I got a big kick out of watching my Wife watch football with my Dad. She caught the bug from him, and they really enjoyed watching together.

        As to pro players getting paid to much or too little, I think of it this way; they’d have to pay me about a million dollars a minute to risk being tacked by NFL sized players. The cost of humiliating myself on the basketball court, the hockey rink, of the baseball diamond would be slighty less….

        • Professional athletes are overpaid only if you think they are not entitled to a share of the money earned by presenting their exploits. The problem is better expressed as “society pays too much for the entertainment derived from professional sports (which arguably includes college football and basketball.)


          As for humiliating yourself on the field, it is hard to top this.

          • Oh, hell, at least he got in the same frame. I would have been lookng the other way, from the wrong side of my station. I’m talented that way.

            As for pay levels, any time I hear (or read) anyone saying some group are paid too much (or too little) my first question is “Is this exchange voluntary?”. In the case of politicians or the beneficiaries of Public Service Unions, the answer is a qualified “no”. Otherwise what you have is a gripe by someone who fails to value to services paid for the same as the peolle making the exchange. In which case my next question is “why is it your business?”

        • When younger, I did sports. But never watched them (except when I was dating a Texas gal – you could not miss a Cowboys game if she was to even acknowledge your existence…).

          The wife has been on an MMA kick lately – although she really perks up for the female fights. (I don’t ask whether this might be a bit of sublimation, I really don’t want to know.)

    • Heh. Men don’t ask for directions, women don’t know how to use a map. I can do both. I’m a confused trans?

      • I’m also quite fond of horror, still, although I have gotten bored with how formulaic it has become (maybe one survivor, maybe none, the characters are idiots and the only somewhat uncertain thing is in which order they will die – I’d prefer a mix of stories where sometimes the heroes win, sometimes the monster/s, sometimes one survivor, sometimes almost everyone survives, sometimes all die and so on…). But I don’t drink beer and sports mostly bores me. So, still a mix. You have now confused me more. I no longer know whether I am a man or a woman or something genderless. 😛

        • I drink beer. Sports bore me. No horror, but I like action, while my husband likes romance movies. Eh.

        • I have gotten bored with how formulaic it has become

          The formulaic portion is a part of the charm. I recall hearing an interview with John D. MacDonald upon publication of what was to be his last Travis McGee novel in which he explained that a series such as that was a sort of folk dance: minor variations were permitted but overall the same steps and turns were expected to be followed.

          So long as you set your expectations correctly it is easy to continue enjoying the tune.

          I don’t care much for horror because I view it as too much emphasis on a single emotion, but I can appreciate the appeal.

          • I’m grew up with the older fare where the formula had not yet solidified, and you’d get those different endings. Well, with the older stuff it of course was mostly heroes win, but I do like what was around when I first started to read and watch, when you’d get both and everything in between.

            • Of course a lot of those oldest stories no longer qualify as horror, they are too tame compared to the modern versions. Mostly hints and mood, hardly any gore, or at least it does not get shown.

            • I was a big Weird Tales fan as a youth, never really got into movies. I liked Event Horizon, sort of, because people actually did some clever things and survived through their own efforts. Not all the characters were just victims lining up.

              Then again, I think a lot of people who make the news are implausibly stupid, so I’m not going to be a big fan of formula horror films. 🙂

        • You’ll like this. It’s from a commercial for auto insurance, a few years ago:

          • 😀

            Yep, the poor decisions, and the far too common general idiocy of the characters are a big part of why I have gotten bored with those movies. When it’s “just kill them all already, please” after less than half an hour it’s hard to enjoy the story.

            • If you’ve never seen it, find a copy of the movie, “Tucker and Dale vs. Evil.” It’s a classic send-up of the demented hillbillies horror sub-genre.

              http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1465522/?ref_=nv_sr_4

              • There’s a British take on the demented hillbillies genre, substituting Eastern Europe for Apalachia, where the ingenue applies the business end of a 12 gauge to one of the aforementioned hillbillies, saying “Later I’d hate to have not shot him when I had the chance.”

            • Yes, when the plot depends on people taking the stupidest possible actions suspension of disbelief requires a very dismal view of humanity.

            • I don’t even watch horror but I enjoyed this trailer mocking genre.

              • Patrick Chester

                Yep. You beat me to it. 😀

              • Heh. that’s great.

                About questions of movie plots – SPOILER ALERT!

                The Purge: sounded interesting, but when I watched the trailer (and later read the plot from wikipedia – at that point I had no intention of ever watching the film) while the characters did had guns they still mostly just seemed to be hiding in some safe room, alone, apart from their neighbors, and then it got opened. Well, the neighbors come for help in the end, but then try to kill the main characters because they hate them due to them being rich or something. Really? Lame… come on, one night in the year when it’s legal to kill anybody and everybody? That would really leave the law-abiding completely at the mercy of the criminals? Train throughout the year, form neighborhood units of people you know you can trust, hell, even go hunting after the gangs if some had been troubling your neighborhood lately… do you really believe most decent people would just hide in their homes, alone, and only fight if the gangs came after them? Especially after it had been going on for years? Might have made for a decent action flick (and you could still easily have dealt with with the big questions that premise brings, like when is killing justified in the first place and how can you get a group to work together when there are no outside pressure, like the threat of lawsuits, to make everybody behave according to some rules – I would think that a better plot from that premise might be something like a group of the law-abiding normal people catching a group of gang members, and then having to wrestle with the questions like whether it would be right to just shoot all of them, some of them, what if some are innocent of any actual wrongdoings yet, what if we don’t and they then come after us when this one night is over?), that premise, but that movie certainly doesn’t sound like it. They took the idea but then seem to have dealt with it as if it had not changed the culture much at all, that the culture as a whole was almost exactly similar to what there is now. What you might get if that happened now, and what the situation might then be during the next couple of years before it started to change the culture. Well, maybe that was the idea, the movie is supposed to happen about five years after the first Purge night. But I still think it sounds pretty lame compared to what could have been done with it. Just a home invasion movie, and that “Purge” is the excuse made up for why the victims can’t get police help, it sounds like.

                • the remaining politicians would change that law before the next year.

                  • Ah, looks like in that universe they were the one protected class, kill one and you get immediate execution. So the writers had at least thought of that. Not of much else though.

                    • No problem, just take all of them out, along with the leadership of the execution authority.

                    • Or target the highest level minions that you can get at.

                      Honestly though, why the assumption that murder will be the most commonly done?

                      I would think that robbery would be more profitable.

            • Christopher M. Chupik

              Yeah. Horror movies used to have people the audience *didn’t* want to see die. Now they’re all fodder.

          • And now I ponder what a ‘horror’ movie sendup would be like if the stereotypically bad decisions always turned out through some quirk to just happen to be the right decision this(that) time.

            • Patrick Chester

              A Friday the 13th movie where Jason tries very hard to murder Inspector Clouseau and keeps failing and eventually gets defeated completely by accident?

        • I consider that the trope with necking in the area where it was known that people mysteriously disappeared was an illustration of the stupidity of teens in heat.

        • I thought it was the Black guy always dies first? Maybe things have changed…

          • Usually, still. The big surprise is if he doesn’t. Gets even mentioned in the reviews (thus spoiling the only surprise there probably is).

            • Maybe you could be surprised by the next one to go… The future son in law once ran through the entire sequence for me. Which I promptly forgot everything but the first in line; the trivia storage is getting cramped at my age.

              (To be fair, the boy is not completely useless – he did pester me into opening up his copy of MHI. Much can be forgiven for that service.)

      • I can’t do either! Same thing.

      • No, a confused trans is what you get when you try to shift directly from fourth gear to reverse.

        • It’s doable if you drift into it and bleed off excess speed before swapping ends, straightening up, and letting off the clutch. Had to do that once when I was young and stupid (and thought I was crash-proof. I wasn’t). The engine braking can be necessary, and maybe perhaps just enough when you’re a bare few feet from a steep dropoff (TN/NC border, back before there was a four lane).

          • Nah. Just flip ends, and voila – you’re going the other way. (Drop offs on either side, a solid well-pipe ranch gate just ahead, fourth gear on a dirt road. There is a reason that my Mother is the one that ended up teaching me manual…)

      • By the power vested in me by my simply declaring it so, you may now identify as Mythical if you so choose.

    • Both The Spouse and I wore makeup in college, but under stage lighting it was kind of required.

    • Real men don’t “wander for hours”, because they either know where they are, where they’re going and how to get there, or they don’t give a damn about one, two or all three of the above elements. If they don’t give a damn, then there’s no reason to waste time asking for directions.

  4. My “discovery of sunlight” moment was reading a letter to the editor in the local paper from the Libertarian Party candidate for NH Governor (Bill Hunscher), back around 1980. Until that, the core notions were familiar (thanks Ayn Rand) but I didn’t realize anyone aimed to make them real. Soon after I discovered Reason, and Libertarian Review also. And also not long after I bought the first edition of The Probability Broach. As Neil Smith said about Heinlein I’ll say about him: “this really bent my brain”.
    Your comment about the rape of language really resonates. I keep trying to get people to stop using “they” as if it were a singular pronoun. There already is a singular pronoun for humans of unstated gender: “he”. It’s particularly annoying when I catch freedom-oriented authors do it, people like Neil Smith or Rolf Nelson. I don’t remember catching you at it, fortunately — perhaps because we’re immigrants and learned formal grammar.
    Some other countries make language rape into a government-directed activity: my native land (Holland) is an example. They have government commissions that revise the language every couple of decades, destroying any trace of etymology in the process. It’s a bit like what red China did with the writing system, redesigning the characters to make it nearly impossible to read anything published before the communist revolution. No doubt that was the main goal, and “simplification” merely an excuse.

    • One of the things that amuses me is that there is, as far as I know, no “Anglophone summit” similar to the “Francophone summit” to kept the language ‘pure’ whatever that might mean. Yes, I know, English adopts (liberates, repurposes, and outright steals) anything it can grab.

      • I always liked this:

        English doesn’t borrow from other languages.
        English follows other languages down dark alleys, knocks them over, and rummages through their pockets for loose grammar.

        – Paraphrase of a quote by James Davis Nicoll

        An English Academy? What a silly thought. If some other language has a useful word, phrase, or whatever that we don’t, we’ll just culturally appropriate it like a boss.

      • Fun is watching French Tourists trying to tell a Cajun what to call things like Alligators and light bulbs.
        Said Cajun once went to France itself, and a local told him he spoke “Old Dead French”

        • I do love that about this country.

          You want too know about Dutch traditional dress food and games circa 1750 (or whatever). Holland is useless, come to America!

          Why? Because our image of other countries is frozen at the last time we had a large immigration from those countries.

          • Indeed. I have read a good few articles about German linguists coming to Texas to talk with the last of those German-Texans who spoke German as their first language. (Just about all of them in their nineties or older now – as it was about 1920 that many of the parents of those native German speakers made the decision to start speaking English as much as possible to the kidlets.) From what I have read, those German-Texans spoke the language as it was spoken in the early 1800s. Which the specialists found quite enthralling.

            • Just about all of them in their nineties or older now – as it was about 1920 that many of the parents of those native German speakers made the decision to start speaking English as much as possible to the kidlets.
              Actually, it was 1917. Not 1916. Not 1918. Not “about 1920”. 1917. Read up on the ‘great Progressive’ President Woodrow Wilson to see why.

    • Technically, “they” as a singular pronoun has been around for a couple of centuries, so that ship has sailed.

      • Perhaps it has been around in obscure places, but it hasn’t been around as a PC imposition.

      • You know, people keep saying that, but I studied language and literature, and NO ONE SAID THAT before the current dispensation.
        So, I’m going to ask for cites, please? Because leftists have a way of telling us “oh, that’s old news, move on” and I think a lot of us have been ensnared byt his.

        • Jane Austen. If that isn’t carte blanche for the indeterminate plural pronoun, I don’t know what is 😀 (also Shakespeare). Really, trying to jam English, which is constructed *entirely* of elbows, into the box of Latinate languages is a futile endeavor and we have much better things to do.

          • SHOW ME. Seriously, Sabrina, quotes or it didn’t happen. There are phrases in which “they” is acceptable, but in general, NO. One should always be followed with “he”

            • I will look for the cites. But really, Sarah. Using a pronoun that is *already* in use specifically to refer to a singular male individual to *also* refer to an indeterminate individual is JUST AS DUMB as using a plural pronoun for that purpose. Je suis, je reste! 😀

              • Except that it has the benefit of history in MOST indo-European languages.
                For the love of G-d, you want a gender indeterminate pronoun, use “it” not the fricking plural. For someone who first learned two languages where verb accords with noun, this makes my hair stand on end. For that matter, in English most verbs accord with singular third person.
                Stop raping the fucking language. It’s wrong. Yes, language changes. But forcing it to change for political reasons is a mark of communists and totalitarians.

                • Here, here. If you just can’t bring yourself to refer to the indeterminate-gendered person using the grammatically-correct pronoun “he,” then use the neutral “it” rather than the plural “they.”

                  • Precisely. And as for “it has the denotation of non-human” well, hell “they has the denotation of multiple people.”
                    Sorry, language is one of the things I get REALLY HOT UNDER THE COLLAR ABOUT.

                    • Considering some humans, non-human might be considered a step up. But I might have a wee bit of bias.

                    • I’m just sick and tired of politicizing fucking grammar. Yes, I know “he” was used if you didn’t know, because men had more agency and blah blah blah. Also, possibly a borrowing from latin, which is part of English’s history.
                      BUT all that said, if we’re going to change the language now and by fiat, “it” is more honest than “they.”

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Really, I wouldn’t have guessed that. 😉

                    • … language is one of the things I get REALLY HOT UNDER THE COLLAR ABOUT.

                      Do you also herd cats?

                    • actually, yes. All you need is an open can.

                    • LOL… Technically, that’s not herding; that’s baiting or luring

                    • If you use a vacuum cleaner to encourage feline movement, is that herding?

                    • “Each of the children went upstairs and washed its hands.” — E. Nesbit. (I’m not actually sure which book, but maybe “The Pheonix and the Carpet”?)

                      That usage has at least a century of precedent.

                    • Long-standing precedence does not make a bad decision a good one, it merely makes it a familiar one.

                    • Bother!

                      Long-standing precedence does not make a wrong decision right, it merely makes it familiar.

                  • At the last Penguicon we attended (which is apt to be the last Penguicon we attend) there was, again, the silly badge stickers of:
                    “My prefered pronouns are: ”
                    with space for he/his, she/her, or whatever.
                    $HOUSEMATE wrote in “not a political statement.” which I copied.

                    For what it’s worth, I consider myself a ‘he’ but will not be offended by ‘it’ and I have made the joke that “There is only one of me and we are all of us.” But then, I ‘identify’ as Mythological (which is still more -logical than all too many!) and am fairly tolerant of most, though certainly not all, appellations. “Beast” and “monster” are tolerable in the proper context(s). “Creature” will suffice, if one (<– genderless pronoun?) must be nondescript. There are some things I do not care to be called. I do not generally give examples as why supply possible nogoodnicks with ammunition? I will say, that I would like to delay my being correctly referred to as "the late…" as long as is reasonably possible – possibly longer.

                    • I’ve never been in that situation, but if I was I think I’d put:

                      Never refer to me by pronouns. Always use my full legal name when referring to me in any form. Your puerile attempts to refrain from pronouncing the glory of my given name disgust me!

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Possible button for me to use at that sort of con.
                      “I identify as a Male Dragon and you will call me Sir or be lunch.” 👿

                    • Not me (horns vs dreams? Huh?!?), but the tune is somewhat amusing.

                    • If you are present I will use the pronoun “you” if I use a pronoun to refer to you. If you are not present, who gives a damn what your preferences might be?

                      Any person running to tell you I referred to you by an unwonted pronoun is properly referenced with the pronoun “it” (the “sh” being unvoiced) and is invited to go engage in autocopulation (and I hope it gets burned on the exhaust pipe.)

                    • “Engage in coprophagia and expire”?

                    • “Never refer to me by pronouns.”

                      Hey, you!

                    • That’s Mister You, to The Other Sean! 😉

                    • Beware of anyone saying, “You look so natural”. (BAD SIGN; BAD, bad sign.)

                    • My nouns never reached Pro status and remain at amateur level.

                    • Preferred pronouns: Batman.

                    • I’d grab one of those and put a squiggle on it and then tell when asked “how dare you not recognize my gender of gromspliz”

                  • I have bit of a problem with “he”, presumably it’s the Finnish with its genderless “hän” used with both sexes – I just can’t think of “he” as a generic. So I mostly go for “it” when not trying to be correct. That is one of the things where my mother language comes through strong even if I can, most times, think in English without having to translate from Finnish first.

                    Besides, when speaking informal Finnish “hän” – meant to be used when talking of humans – has disappeared almost completely, and most people use “se” which is a generic which should, formally, be used for almost everything else but humans, an animal, a car, a tree… Translates as “it”.

                    The irritating thing here, with Finnish, is that far too many people have started to talk of of their pet as “hän”, while they still use “se” when talking about humans. Irks me no end. 😡

                • Point of order!

                  That which you describe is not a raping of the language. It more properly conforms to the standards of abusive relationships, in which a tyrannical party intimidates a non-confrontational party to conform to the standards of behaviour demanded by the abuser.

                  It is similar to that process known as gaslighting (and gaslighting may be an element of the process) but is ultimately defined by the abuser’s threat (implicit and explicit) of violence toward the abused.

                  • I’m pretty sure this action is non-consensual from the POV of the English Language, and certainly is a violation. Rape still applies.

                • AW, but “it” is so de-humanizing…

                  (runs and hides)

                • But if it *didn’t* change, and it isn’t political, changing it for OTHER political reasons is bad too. English is weird. Yes, it is different than pretty much all the others. I think that’s a plus. Look, just because this indeterminate pronoun thing coincidentally lines up with the sjw nonsense doesn’t make it instantly wrong. Don’t let them tell you what to do, even by proxy. (You’d think they’d be happy we don’t gender tables and rocks like all the other languages too, but nooooo….)

                  • Don’t let them tell you what to do, even by proxy.

                    That’s how you become alt-Right. You don’t want to become alt-Right, do you?

                    Here, have a snickers bar.

                • Stop raping the f*cking language.

                  Raised eyebrows. But that’s how we got English.

                  I’ve used “they” as a gender neutral term for my own reasons, none of it has to do with SJWs. For SJWs, I lean toward s/he/it, mostly because I can then call those who demand complete gender neutrality in English “A bunch of s/he/its.”

                  Okay, so I’m not a linguist and this whole thing is way over my head. In your favor is the American habitat at one time of using “it” for very young babies, and I’ll leave the etymology of that to the philologists. I suspect that since the English use of “it” tends to show up with inanimate and/or non-living things, it gives many of us a creepy feeling applying it to a person, sort of dehumanizing feeling even though such is not intended and it’s probably more grammatically correct.

                  Since we don’t say “The river she rises” in English, we’re pretty gender neutral, anyway, and that’s probably related to how we got English.

                  BTW, my source for the use of “it” is from speakers born in the late 19th Century to early 20th Century. No idea whether that usage is in written sources of the time. Do know that the use of “she” for infants regardless of gender was very trendy in the late 1970s into the 1980s, but that’s another topic.

              • I think it was John Ciardi (author of “The Browser’s Dictionary”) who said that “language does what it does because it does it”. Languages are not rational constructs. Applying the adjective “dumb” to any aspect of natural language grammar is not going to get you anywhere. Especially when it’s easy to point to any number of other languages (like French or German) that have “grammatical gender”. Come to think of it, even English has vestiges, why else are ships feminine?

            • Here’s a page that has what the author claims are examples. Whether the citations are accurate or not, and whether or not they really are examples, I’ll leave for others to judge.

              http://www.pemberley.com/janeinfo/austhlis.html

            • Russian occasionally has singular they as a formal way of showing awesome status of a person of high rank. Like the obverse of the royal We. Broke my brain….

              Anyway, Language Log’s “singular they” posts are here, if people want to delve into it. The most recent one has contemporary examples of people calling a singular mother cat “they”. (But not “it.” Yup, the crazy years.) Anyway… highlights linked below.

              Geoffrey Pullum arguing that singular they is no different than “each other”, which also demands that a plural be in there somewhere. One could argue whether this is more indeterminacy or mutuality…

              Here’s one where the KJV deliberately uses singular “them” to reproduce the Hebrew pronouns not agreeing in number. So there’s one influence.

              From a Bible blogger, a big list of quotes from Early Modern English Bibles with singular indeterminate they.

              An amusing set of historical examples of singular they, as well as pronoun problems and complaints found in history.

              As for “they” itself? In Old English, there were separate 3rd person singular and plural pronouns for male, female, and neutral gendered nouns. In Middle English, these persisted for a bit (as “hīe”, they, and “heora”, their) but then either went away or changed hugely in pronunciation.

              The current idea is that we glommed onto the handier Old Norse plural masculine demonstrative (“þeir” – in the standard Norse “stick an r on it”) and turned it into the plural pronoun (spelled þey/þei/they/thei, depending on where and when you lived). At the same time, we glommed onto the Old Norse genitive, any gender, plural (“þeirra”) and turned it into the possessive determiner (þeir/their). Since the “they” and “their” stuff shows up first in the North of England, it seems reasonable to blame the Norse. (And heck, we apparently stole the verb “to be” from Welsh, so it wouldn’t be the first time.)

              Language is weird.

          • My searches bring up tons of people affirming that Shakespeare, Jane Austen and a ton other people did so, but no quotes.
            Also, BTW Shakespeare was the very earliest of modern English, spelling and grammar were shaky. And even in quotes you have to ask “WHAT was the societal level of the character doing this?” Jane Austen has several characters with bad grammar.
            Seriously, I’m tired of this. First it was Shakespeare, now it’s Shakespeare and Austen and Thomas Moore. And everywhere you look it’s by “affirmation” i.e. “they did this. Believe me.” And I’m sick and tired of this pattern when leftists are trying to cram something down our throats.

        • Since the internet is a dubious source at best, I’ll link to singular “they” in Jane Austen as a cite. Shakespeare apparently did it too but that link isn’t coming up easily.

          • Okay, no time to go into ALL of them, but first to are linked to everybody, which while as every and any should be singular, people don’t always follow. It’s… “indistinct.”
            Third, they is obviously parents.
            fourth linked to everybody again (and while I don’t have the original, I don’t think it was spelled separate.)
            Quick skimming — all are related to everybody or anybody, whose use was considered wrong with “they” by my teachers, but is more fluid than in accordance with say “one” or referring to general someone. And honestly, might have been different in 18th century in a particular part of Britain.
            These are not so much examples of using “they” as singular indeterminate, as of accordance with everybody and anybody which feel plural (particularly the first) to many people.
            I find the breaking up of the words offputting as I’m ALMOST sure it was one word back then, and it seems like more special pleading to me. Particularly the inclusion of what is obviously a plural “parents” as part of it.

      • RICHARD ALLEN FINLAY

        The lack of a gender-neutral singular personal pronoun can quite drive one to distraction.

    • Unfortunately my copyedited books will change he to they.

      • Maybe you need a more honest editor.

        • It’s policy in the houses, because they don’t want the feminists to attack them.

          • I would hope Castalia House would be an exception to that.

            • Don’t know. Have no intention of working with them. They offer none of the advantages of a major house over indie (I.e. they don’t have bookstore distribution) and all the disadvantages (loss of control over my work, possibility of someone else influencing how it sells, etc.) I’ll go indie for that which Baen doesn’t buy.

              • The major houses can get your print books into bookstores, but they cannot make readers buy them. For print the Baen logo is a significant factor as Baen has a well deserved reputation for delivering a certain type of product that a certain class of readers want. That imprint will get a potential buyer to pick the book up and at least read the back cover blurb, and that’s half the battle.
                With indie you can arrange to have a path to the bookstores, but with no way to push other than the reputation that you build for yourself. It all comes down to an interesting cover and name recognition.
                And of course you have to have written a killer story, but that’s the easy part.

      • Not in any books I’ve copy edited, by Ghod!
        I do not even correct your countless instances of run-on sentences, as IMHO they are appropriate in the context of conversations.

        • they are. Or first person. Otherwise the books acquire a “stilted tone.”

          • Yup. Some authors can do terse in long stretches, but the run on sentences is where the life is at. Or something. It feels wrong if it is supposed to be there, but isn’t.

            • My daughter’s “Creative Writing” instructor in college was very fortunate that I was not the student. He was absolute death on “run-ons.”

              Took me forever to work through with the daughter to make one of her pieces “acceptable” to this idiot and still read as even slightly right. Gah. Her protagonist was having an internal monologue while fighting panic over having her hand trapped under a boulder. Right, nobody will have run-on sentences in that situation…

              • Since you’re in panic it’ll either be run on or segments. And even with people well versed in high stress work the tone shifts. Sullenberg’s transmissions from the Airbus boat flight are a good example. No panic or obvious worry but you can pick up the terse, clipped replies.

                • Good point; it will usually be one or the other (run-ons or segmented – and in professional emergencies, such as pilots, heavy on jargon). In any case, it will not be “proper” English sentences.

    • I would some usages of “they” for singular is for reasons other than ideology. I am most familiar with it in gay circles where it is the pronoun game to hide from people you are not out to (or people you are so they don’t know you’re playing both teams which can be political in some places).

      I have seen it in other places and used it as such.

      Wanting people not to assume gender and push neuter isn’t just political I guess is my point.

      • Wanting people not to assume gender and push neuter isn’t just political …

        In an era when people’s views and positions can be discredited on the basis of their “gender” neuter can be political in a way utterly contrary to that chosen by SJWs.

        • While SJW’s are practically neuter in terms of biological reproduction, their memetic reproduction must be similarly neutered if we are to prevent them from destroying Western civilization.

    • Over the years I’ve given away more than a dozen copies of “The Probability Broach”, “The Venus Belt,” and “The Nagasaki Vector.”

      “Here, read this book. It won’t hurt you…”

      [snickery canine chortle]

  5. But where they got under my skin were the things that even Heinlein bought into: ecological destruction that needed government intervention, the sense that we were living in the last viable generation on Earth, the idea of massive, destructive population explosion, the idea there simply weren’t enough resources to go around and some extensive form of government control of private life was inevitable.

    I, too, bought into that for a while. But, praise be unto Saint Jerry Pournelle, blessed be his name, for showing me the way. His “survival with style” essays collected in A Step Farther Out showed me that it didn’t have to be that way. It was a true revelation for me. While I’d always leaned pretty hard libertarian (“Red Planet” was one of my formative books), this bit washed away a lot of the leftist taint that had crept in despite everything I’d done to avoid it.

    • A Step Farther Out is up there in my top three most influential books ever list. I’m very glad I read it when I was 13 so I didn’t have too much indoctrination to overcome.

    • A Step Farther Out is in my top three most influential books ever. I’m glad I read it when I was 13, so I didn’t have too much indoctrination to overcome.

  6. Not sure if it was a trigger or last straw or something in between, but in the mid-late 1980’s there came the word that Rush Limbaugh would appear on the Phil Donahue show. Many suggested tuning in to see Phil shred that idiot (or words to that effect). But somehow Rush had a clips from his show that got played to counter every attempted point his detractor(s) tried to make. The result was hilarious – if you did go in sure that Rush was wrong and Donahue was right. That got me to watch Rush’s TV show. Not agree with all of it, but watch. And it was fascinating.

    One of the few things I can specifically recall was one night (well, it aired at night where I was) Rush played a tape of some congressman or senator and started very, very early in the speech – so early he kept reminding the audience to keep watching, he wanted to be sure there was context and all. And then the fellow made whatever the ‘prize’ statement was. The next day, the fellow was on the national news, complaining the remark had been taken out of context. Uh huh.

    The head-explode moments (not my head, mind) were those time I’d listen to Rush and also to NPR… and often they covered the same story, and more than one might expect, the same way. As biased as NPR was/is… there was at least then some things they’d keep straight.

    I was disappointed when the show on around noon on MnPR (I then had a day job with a nice lunch break… and no satellite radio, so there was broadcast FM) changed hosts. The previous host (whose name I have sadly forgotten) was one of the last True Reporter types – the old movie stereotype that typically does not really exist. He’d ask the conservative guest the questions liberals wanted asked of such. And the next day he’d ask the liberal guest the questions the conservatives wanted asked of such. And non-answers from either got the question repeated a few times, then dropped after the third or fourth try – no mention of avoiding the answer, but it was clear to the listening audience what had just happened.

    • the guys I worked with in the early ’90’s listened to Rush on their breaks/lunch. He came off as a little too bombastic for me, but that guy on MnPR (I can’t remember his name either) did a good job and was easier to listen to. Of course, this was also around the time that Ed Schultz was on the radio and appeared to be somewhat of a conservative and his show had decent interviews as well.

      • What many people miss about Rush Limbaugh’s bombast is that he is acting in the tradition of Sixties AM disc jockeys. It is a style, a persona that he plays to the hilt. If you aren’t in on the joke it can be off-putting.

        • Rush Limbaugh, the Wolfman Jack of conservative radio.

        • SheSellsSeashells

          When she was a fractious infant, my daughter *adored* Limbaugh’s voice. To the extent that I would schedule heavy driving around the 12-3 block, and once made my husband draw me up a list of which stations I would need on a trip from Fayetteville to Atlanta.

          When she was slightly older, she thought he was two people, because he has a low “gotcha!” voice and a higher enthusiastic voice. I never did figure out which of them was Rush and which was Limbaugh in her little toddler brain. 🙂

    • if you did not go in sure that Rush was wrong and Donahue was right.

      *grumble*

  7. Both my sides of family are socialists, one side is fabian and other wants violent revolution now.

    I thought I was socialist when I was teenager but it was when I went to university that I realized I am classical liberal, libertarian. PJ O’Rourke’s Parliament of Whores is what removed the wool from my eyes and my family and I have been arguing ever since.

    Other experience at university that changed me was that socialist professors were colossal jerks and I really did not want to be like those professors. Many profs were champagne socialists, who are the worst, and I had to stop taking social science courses because of how much I loathed them.

    • When I was in College, one of the required classes was economics. On the first day of class, in walks a BEAUTIFUL woman… who spoke in a very thick French accent (WOW! Can you say distracting?). I was SURE it was going to SUCK and was prepared to bite my tongue and write down all the “correct” socialist answers in order to not wreck my GPA.

      A couple classes later as we were starting to really get into how economics works, in answer to a question posed to the class (I don’t remember what it was, wish I did) one of the other students gave the pat Leftist answer… which was completely picked apart and DESTROYED in an hour long lecture on how badly Socialism fails where Capitalism succeeds. At various times, Socialist leaning students would try to defend socialism with “yea-but what about X” examples, all of which were shot down with detailed explanations of how, in every one of those examples, the only reason Socialism DIDN’T fail in those cases, was because they had allowed a little bit of Capitalism in as a crutch. It was AWESOME!!!!

      Sadly, Beautiful French Econ Prof was totally married… Sigh…

      • Socialism appeals because it hides costs while highlighting benefits, while Free Markets magically use an invisible hand to deliver benefits while highlighting costs.

        As with icebergs, what you don’t see matters most.

        • Socialism appeals to self-nominated ‘intellectuals’ because they (like most subcultures, to be honest) believe they should be running things, and Socialism seems to promise that they will.

          Of course their notion that being mildly educated and (semi-) literate qualifies them to run society is absurd. But is it any more absurd than the Aristocrat’s idea that being the genetic (ormat least legal) descendants of successful brigands grants them the same qualification? Or the ‘Social Darwinists’ idea that being wealthy does?

  8. I went and saw the new Spider-Man movie this last weekend (it was a lot of fun), and as is my custom I went and read various articles and the TV Tropes site once I’d seen the film. One of the trope comments that really stuck out to me was the fact that Peter Parker in 2017, working as a ‘street level’ hero, is helping lost old ladies, stopping bike thieves, and annoying people trying to break into their own cars…because the NYC of today, unlike the NYC of the 1960s-1980s, is actually quite safe. A superhero isn’t going to run into a lot of muggings, etc nowadays. The world is a much safer place, at least in many areas.

    • Person I know who lives in NYC says that the NYC of today is well-nigh Disneyland compared to 1970’s NYC.

      • Give De Blaiso time. He’s working on it.

      • I visited New York several times in the early ’80’s. I wasn’t very scared because at 6’2″ and with long hair and a beard I looked like unprofitable trouble. I remember (barely) the days when the movie theatres along 42nd street were the mecca of what became known as ‘grindhouse cinema’. In fact I saw CIRCLE OF IRON in one of them. And then, a few years later, I remember seeing them all closed, with somebody’s poetry on the marquees (kinda cool, but annoying if as I suspect it was paid for by the NEA). These days I stay the hell out of big cities. I used to go in them to find the kind of marginal goods (oddball old magazines, non-pop music) that I can now get on the internet. Also, they tend to be run by Politicians crass enough to win local elections, but not (god help us, this is a low bar!) smart enough to rise to even Sate level.

  9. “Both my sides of family …. ” = “Both sides of my family … ”

    How come I can only see typos after I hit publish button? Happens every time, I look over comment to make sure it looks ok and I always seem to miss one or two mistakes that I don’t see until comment is posted. I don’t know why that is but I don’t like it.

    • How come I can only see typos after I hit publish button?

      ‘Tis the nature of the Universe. Some believe the world was created by a wise all-powerful, all-knowing being. However, the place is clearly not run by such. It is, at best, left to run on automatic. The idea that there is another being, not quite so powerful but intent on mucking things up, might well be applicable to day-to-day operations.

      • Who thought leaving Loki in charge was a good idea?

        • Hey, this is America! No Loki here, but it’s pretty clear Coyote is in charge… 😉

          • Oh, don’t count Loki out fully. Consider the population of some of MN (and WI, and MI).

            • You betcha!

              • Ongoing not-really-serious family debate: do entities like Loki, etc, belong to places or peoples? That is, when we and our ancestors did the whole immigrate and marry thing, did we bring a whole flock of supernatural whichs and whatsits with us, or do we luck out and just get the native to the land bunch, or both?

                Because when you combine this many cultures, there’s an awful lot of troublemakers in the supernatural woodwork. Which would at least explain why no one can ever find anything around here!

                • I think that the entities being referred to don’t belong to either the places or to particular peoples. Instead, they’re referred to by specific local names that vary from culture to culture, but the entities are in essence universal. So Loki/Coyote/Anansi/Hermes/etc. are all the same trickster, just wearing the clothes of the local culture.

                  • Except the question is, do they accrete to the family lines or belong to a locale? Do we have a Dutch one and an English one and a Native American one and a Finn and a Gypsy and a Jewish and a Cameroonian and Heaven only knows what else? Or do we have just Native American? This matters because they expect different sorts of libations (which they aren’t going to get, of course). One wouldn’t want to give palm wine to an entity which prefers to drink milk, right? Though therein lie at least two plots.

                  • If we call a force “gravity” in one culture and “earthsuck” in another, are we talking about two different effects or two different name for the same effect?

                    Are Loki, Coyote, Anansi different entities or different packages for the same spirit?

                    • I’d say the second.

                    • In a story I have, waiting until I have some more ready to become a themed collection since I think it’s a bit too short to release individually, I have Thor confronting Coyote and Coyote hails him as brother (could have used “nephew” as well, since I’ve seen Loki portrayed as both blood brother, and adopted son of Odin. Since more people will know from Marvel than from the original myths I went with “brother”). Thor’s response is that being a trickster did not make him the same, that Coyote was as much tricked as trickster whereas Thor was not sure that the one time Loki was tricked it wasn’t something he allowed to serve some larger joke.

                      Just because they have similarities does not make them the same, just as Sarah and I having quite a lot of similarity in political positions does not make us the same being. 😉

                    • Loki, Coyote – would you take his word on anything?

                      Also, Thor was not the brightest bulb on the Asgardian Yule Tree.

                    • The idea of Thor being dim is not really supported by the Lore. Yes, there’s the tale of the old man at the river talking him in circles but that old man was Odin so that’s not surprising. Most of Odin’s stories involve him talking someone in circles. We’ve also got the tale of Thor talking one of the dwarfs in circles, keeping him busy and unaware of the passing of time until the sun rose and turned said dwarf to stone. Sure, in most of the tales Thor is rather…direct, but when you have the biggest hammer in the world, why not treat every problem as a nail? 😉

                    • I’ll go with door number 2 (different packages), Monty.

                    • The alternative leaves open the possibility of all three aspects meeting weekly for a poker night … I cannot decide whether illustrating that is a job for Chuck Jones or Tex Avery.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      One author had a “god” that was either “Raven” or “Crow” but no human could tell if the “god” was “Raven” or “Crow” when they met the “god”.

                      Which is a big problem because you could trust one but not the other. 😈 😈 😈 😈

                    • Embrace the power of and.

                    • I’ve asked some physicist types what the difference is between “quantum foam” and “luminiferous aether.”

                      Gets me a dirty look every time…

                  • Loki vs. Coyote! I’d pay to read that one. 🙂

                  • I disagree, I’m pretty sure the last Presidential Election was the result of several Tricksters trying to out do each other.

                    • Well, you might be on to something there. But it’s also possible that the ur-trickster was pulling strings on all sides, and only presenting the illusion that there were multiple tricksters working against each other…

                • Belief is key, right? If you suspect them, *poof* there they can be.

                  Such summoning doesn’t work on me, far as I know, so perhaps I am far too ‘real’ for that sort of thing. Or is it just not surreal enough? Better stop before head start hurting.

              • You might well be a sardinesardone, but beware lutefisk. Sardines and herring are food. Lutefisk, I suspect, was the result of some sort of weapons program.

                • As an old fellow named Halvorsen once told me, lutefisk was the only foodstuff that was shipped transatlantic as deck cargo. (That may not mean much to most folks, but it’s an eye-opener to anyone who knows about maritime conditions.)

            • On my happy days I imagine Loki in charge. On my bad days I think it is Woden.

              • I’ve told a few folks that should I ever manage to fully step outside of Reality and find the control room, not to be alarmed about the sky suddenly going plaid. That just means I’ve made it, but have yet to fully read the manual. Assuming there IS an operating manual. The absence of such might explain a lot.

              • Springboarding here on a minor pet peeve about Norse religion. Woden/Wotan/Odin/Othin was never in charge. Even he was subject to the Norns. Fate fell on gods every bit as much as it fell on mortals.

                And nobody ever pretended the Norns were anything approaching “good”. Implacable, yes. Inexorable, definitely. Impersonal, that too. Good? Nope.

            • With a cousin named Odin and a grandmother named Leena, I’m pretty sure it is an election system run by Loki that gave Minnesota Senator Al Franken and Governors Jesse Ventura and Mark Dayton.

              • Once upon a time I tuned in late-ish to a political debate. One guy was clearly DFL and made very little sense. Another guy didn’t make much more sense, but seemed to have the signs flipped (or spin reversed, whatever..) and the other seemed to make sense… and at the end the host thanked the DFL candidate… the Republican candidate… and the guy who was making sense, to my complete shock, was… Ventura.

                • Ventura on the campaign trail actually made quite a bit of sense. Indeed, so much that I voted for him over the Libertarian candidate (for whom I spent quite a bit of time ‘petitioning’ for ballot access) because Ventura actually had a snowball’s chance of winning and over the RepugnantCon because the SOB had lied to my face while shaking my hand with a smile on his (I met him at an event sponsored by a young Rethuglican lady for whom I was doing quite a bit of campaign work (she wasn’t a ‘typical’ Republican)). Unfortunately, once he got elected he surrounded himself with a bunch of old DFL (Democratic Farmer-Labor, the Minnesota ‘brand’ of DemonRats) party hacks and his promise of great reform faded badly.

                  • Jesse was.. non-ideal.
                    Still, of the three actual probabilities, he was the least lousy.
                    That, alas, may be damning with faint[1] praise.

                    [1] Faint enough Sabrina Chase might elaborate on the importance of detector sensitivity and the cussed thing that is “reciprocity failure.” Since politics is involved, gas-hype might also show up.

          • Does that mean he’s going to give a cute blonde girl a flat so I can help her change her tire and begin a string of weird adventures?

          • Wile E Coyote?

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Odin got tired of Loki complaining that he wasn’t doing things correctly so he put Loki in charge and went on vacation.

          Loki keeps sending messages to Odin asking for him to return but Odin isn’t responding. 😈

        • Better Loki than Odin.

          Remember “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him”?

          If you meet Odin on the road, kill him if you can, bury the sonofabitch in at least four graves, and sew the graves with salt.

      • Depending on which of my grandmothers I was talking to, God was either stern and wise or loving and wise, while I have always perceived Him as a trickster.

      • There is a certain school of thought that draws on the idea that God acts through intermediaries. It seems to them that the natural conclusion is that someone is chosen to manage creation – and historical events seem to indicate that this management changes from time to time.

        You can almost see, in the modern historical record, when Groucho Marx accepted the job.

    • Same issue. And same with books: when in print you see ALL your typos.

  10. The echo chamber of the MSM, desperately staving off their own demise by constantly selling alarming news, excuse me, ALARMING NEWS of the imminent collapse of all that is precious in this world, would depress a hyena. Because an ever increasing portion of its practitioners learned the trade by attending J-Schools the only news they are capable of greeting with optimism is news conforming to their false idol of communism — which doesn’t work, has never worked and never will work. Thus their optimism always turns sour (points to the recent arc of Obama-worship) and disappoints.

    Daily our news is filled with deranged cries of Worst. Crisis. Ever. Because they’ve got to attract eyeballs to the shrinking pool of advertisements they get. And eventually, people stop believing the specifics because many of us have memories but the Weltgeist yet haunts. It requires a conscious, deliberate effort to maintain optimism in this fallen world, and those outposts which nurture it are precious.

    • One of the characters in last night’s Game of Thrones premier noted that every crises always is protrayed as the end of the world as we know it.

      • Patrick Chester

        IIRC, one of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer episodes had Giles announce that the Apocalypse was upon them and the rest of the Scooby Gang blurted out: “AGAIN?!”

  11. I think you are ignoring one very simple answer to the whys of LeGuin’s statement. It absolves her of the guilt of being a living refutation of the current leftist cant that SF and Fantasy “excluded women” until some recent date (the date itself of course depends on the date you encounter said leftist as they continue unpersoning the women who have been succeeding in the fields going back to at least the 1930s). If she were “really a man” when she did all her writing in the 60s and 70s, then anything she did doesn’t count as a woman being successful in the field. And since the current orthodoxy says we must accept that biology is meaningless and a person is whatever gender they claim, she is/was now a male author and, ce voila, women didn’t succeed in the field.

    Cognitive dissonance is a bitch and my best guess is that this is how she is dealing with hers.

    • scott2harrison

      Brilliant! Mind you I worry about anyone whose mind could conceive of such a twisted and evil motive, but still brilliant.

    • My take on this is that she is actually a narrow-minded, selfish, self-aggrandizing fraud who has just enough skill as a writer to be taken somewhat seriously.

      I think a lot of you are giving her too much credit, here. She isn’t ignoring all the other female authors and “strong female characters” that came before her by some accident–She’s doing that because being able to describe herself as such, however falsely, gives her a tingly feeling in her author bits.

      As well, how can she be simultaneously transgressional, edgy, brave, and ohsovery special, unless she creates this straw man to battle before us all? This crap is the intellectual equivalent of the WWF, with fake fighters staging “fights to the death” before audiences that sadly are not in on the kayfabe. And, what may be even more disturbing? I don’t think these idiots like LeGuin know any better, themselves. Either that, or they have internalized so much of their own BS that they are no longer capable of comprehending objective reality.

    • Cognitive dissonance is a bitch and….

      …and now I imagine a Dominatrix going by the name of Cognitive Dissonance. Granted she would not be a bitch, but a “bitch.” There is a critical difference.

    • As I recall, I found Andre Norton books in my junior high library, and read all, or dang near all of them. It was some years later I found out Andre was a woman.

      • Ditto. I had been happily reading “his” stories for years before setting a handwritten note by the HS librarian in the back of one of her books noting that it was the pen name of Alice Mary Norton. It certainly didn’t change my enjoyment of her stories either way.

        • *grin* Something on the order of twenty years after I started reading Norton, I read somewhere that the author was female. It was about as shock inducing as you might expect. Not at all.

          Authors write books. Books I like to read are written by authors, authors are people, people who write books, and waaaaaaay in the background there is the tiny little detail that they have details like biological plumbing, age, size, paint-chip-matching-dermal-pigmentation, and maybe even families and kids. Up until a few years ago there was zero chance I would meet and realize such providers of my main form of entertainment were actual living breathing *people.*

          Okay, we’re up to the authors are people stage. At this point, the reader goes “huh.” and wanders away to go finish his chapter. *grin* The internet is about as much socialising as I can stand these days.

          • If the author is writing about a pissing contest it might, might, matter to me whether said author had a willie or had ever held one. Otherwise … ?

            N.B., this is not a challenge for authors to write pissing contests into their books. I would never issue such a challenge in any venue where Larry Correia, John Ringo and Tom Kratman are likely to get wind of it. (Coming soon: MHI: UTI)

            • BobtheRegisterredFool

              E.W. Hildick had a section on pissing contests in his book on writing for children.

            • Does having four sons qualify me? *grin*

              Actually, you know, while I’m sure they actually have done that, and probably my husband instigated it, they have enough knowledge of their mother’s sense of propriety that I haven’t been invited to witness.

              Huh. I guess my kids do have some common sense. Who’d’a thunk it?

      • I somehow came across the information that Norton was female fairly early. Probably my (scholarly) family’s habit of research. It gets me in more trouble with the ‘accepted wisdom’ bunch.

        • It probably says something about my upbringing that even though I know that ‘Andre’ is French for ‘Andrew’ it never occurred to me what sex she was, or even to think about it. Had someone asked, I probably would’ve come up with male, and female for Anne McCaffrey, but it wasn’t something I thought about as a teen.

          Actually, it still isn’t, unless you’re writing specifically about sex-based health issues. I assume women have somewhat more irons in the fire on female health issues, and men have somewhat more on male health issues. Other than that? Meh.

  12. I was soft left for awhile in college, thinking that Communism was a definite no-go, but that free market capitalism would probably lead us to a denuded planet, so Socialism would likely be the best overall. Over time, and especially since 2000 I’ve been leaning ever more libertarian. Too bad the Libertarian Party can’t get it’s act together and put some decent charismatic people on the ballot.

    Ursula was born about 10-15 years after Leigh Brackett and Andre Norton, so I would have thought she’d be familiar with them.

    • “Too bad the Libertarian Party can’t get it’s act together … ”

      I think one of the problems is that actual right wing people are too smart to get involved in politics. Best and brightest of right wing are not to be found in politics.

      • We’re too busy working, telling stories, studying history, helping other people, and doing stuff. And who wants to be slandered and beaten like a rented mule in public as the media and party “consultants” and “operatives” harass your friends and family for information they can use to ruin you?

        • I can understand that. But don’t y’all get into the trap we in Appalachia did several generations ago, and only let the charlatans get into office. Evicting them and cleaning up the mess they make is several orders of magnitude more difficult that denying them office inthe first place.

          …Not that *I* intend to run for anything. That stuff is for the birds! *chuckle*

      • The problem is the libertarian “joke” on our hostess’s banner about taking over the world and leaving it ruthlessly alone. If your goal in life is to be rich or famous or happy, politics is a lousy way to go about it. The only real advantage to going into politics is that it gives you power over other people, and if you honestly don’t want that power, there’s no reason to be in politics.

        • Well, there’s the old saying, “Politics is celebrity for ugly people.”

        • If your goal in life is to be rich or famous or happy, politics is a lousy way to go about it.

          Hah! Tell that to Harry Reid, or the Clintons, or Charley Rangel or …

          • Eh, rich can be done, but for most of these people, for most of their lives, it’s much less than they could have made in the private sector.

            Famous…well, for those who make it to the very top, but that’s true of pretty much every profession. The Clintons, yeah sure, but Rangel and even Reid are less likely to be recognized by the public than even a minor sitcom star.

            Happy…do you really think that describes any of the above?

    • This is why you shouldn’t home school: I started out fairly conservative and moved all the way to full-blown libertarian during college. I even managed Libertarian for a while.
      I’ve been disappointed with their childishness for a while, though, and tend to lean Constitutionalist these days.

      • WHY shouldn’t you homeschool?

      • While I dislike engaging in Haidt Speech, his understanding of the six kingdoms of values helps explain the differences. Liberals and Libertarians tend to focus on resulting states, Conservatives look at the processes by which we get there (also known as “how many eggs must be broken to make that omelet?”) which is a big part of why Constitutionalist and Conservative overlap s greatly.

    • “Too bad the Libertarian Party can’t get it’s act together and put some decent charismatic people on the ballot.”

      They had a real shot this cycle. I probably would have voted Libertarian if their candidates and given any hint that they believed in any liberties other than the liberty to smoke pot.

      • “Charismatic” is not a sub-set of “Libertarian”, I’m afraid. Rational, reasoning people do not become demagogues, because they simply cannot muster up the internal delusional certainty that communicates itself as “charisma”.

        We may eventually get a libertarian-leaning leader in this country, but it won’t be one that’s “charismatic”, and it will probably happen by accident after they get put on the ticket as VP behind a charismatic type who gets removed from office through either misadventure or malfeasance.

      • I agree, lately it seems like each Libertarian candidate is worse than the last.

      • SheSellsSeashells

        I damn near voted for Gary Johnson on the strength of his slogan alone.

      • Or that “liberty” means that government has the right to force a creative to create for an event that they do not agree with. Or that a true “libertarian” shouldn’t vote for them, but for a continuation and extension of the Obama years.

        Phaugh.

    • Too bad the Libertarian Party can’t get it’s act together and put some decent charismatic people on the ballot.

      It has nothing to do with the people on the ballot. A first-past-the-post system that awards victory to whoever has the most votes rather than an absolute majority has two stable solutions: one party or two parties. Third parties simply siphon enough votes from one of the top two parties to ensure that the other wins.

      That’s why the US has only had either one or two major political parties, with new parties coming to the fore only after a period of one-party rule. If you want a viable Libertarian Party, you need to destroy the Democrat Party first.

    • Too many Third Party types seem to think they can win one election and BINGO! No. Particularly not a Presidential election. A third party President would have no allies in Congress, and so get nothing done.

      Win some State elections. Build, damnit.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        The problem with the Big L party is that they sometimes win seats in the State government and sometimes in Congress but try to keep themselves “pure” by not supporting any bill that doesn’t exactly meet their standards.

        So they don’t find allies in the other parties as none of the other parties see them as allies. 😦

  13. Christopher M. Chupik

    The more power they gain over the culture, the unhappier and less secure they are. The Obama years are a perfect example. It was supposed to be a grand triumph, but now it looks like it was the beginning of the end for the left.

    • Actually, I think they thought that with Obama they’d won and would never be defeated again, and so dropped the masks they’d been presenting themselves to the rest of the country with for so long. Only then did they find that they’d completely misunderstood the situation and that far from having won, they had reached a tipping point where their previously-grumblingly-allowed machinations were being overtly rejected by the rest of the country.

      • Sounds familiar. The victim disarmers (“gun control advocates”) did the same thing, and as a result, ordinary people who don’t like to be defenseless now know they need to pay attention.

      • It wasn’t just Obama’s victory — their “whiz kids” had them convinced that a changing demographic of America was yielding them permanent majority. From a Real Clear Politics column of April 2009:

        In a March, 2009 51-page paper [PDF] “New Progressive America: Twenty Years of Demographic, Geographic, and Attitudinal Changes Across the Country Herald a New Progressive Majority,” Ruy Teixeira makes a strong case that “progressive arguments are in the ascendancy,” that demographic and geographic “trends should take America down a very different road than has been traveled in the last eight years. A new progressive America is on the rise.”

        To further buttress his case, Teixeira has put together “a very cool interactive map that includes 7 levels of exit poll demographics and county-level vote shifts going back to 1988.”

        Teixeira is by no means alone. The New Republic‘s John Judis, who collaborated with Teixeira on the 2001 book The Emerging Democratic Majority, wrote an article titled “America The Liberal” the day after the November 4, 2008, election. Judis made a similarly well-argued case that the election of Obama “is the culmination of a Democratic realignment that began in the 1990s. … The country is no longer ‘America the conservative.’ And, if Obama acts shrewdly to consolidate this new majority, we may soon be ‘America the liberal’.”

        On April 9, 2009, Emory political scientist Alan Abramowitz published a paper arguing that Obama’s victory “was made possible by long-term changes in the composition of the American electorate, especially the growing voting power of African-Americans, Hispanics, and other nonwhites. As a result of these demographic changes, the Democratic Party enjoys a large advantage over the Republican Party in the size of its electoral base — an advantage that is almost certain to continue growing for the foreseeable future.”

        All three authors make overlapping and similar cases.

        Just as with Climate Change, theorists have drunk their own ink, are dazzled by computer models which perform as their programmers biased them to, and are prone to straight-line projections as if Reality has no say in the matter.

        The strength of Invisible Hand economics is that it assumes environments will respond to changes and return to equilibrium.

    • I maintain that they have been losing since they ousted Nixon. The next election,magainst Ford, they were in a position to elect pretty much anyone they could nominate. And they got Jimmy Carter, in large part bcausemtheymcouldn’t agree on anyone else. They’ve made gains since then, but they always seem to cost more in Political Capital than they get back from them.

      They elected Obama and got eight years of ego and a Health Insurance bill that nobody wants to take credit for. Amd then nominated Shrillary, and got Trump.

      They aren’t dealing with losing at all well.

  14. Right there on the right side of O’Rourke’s Wikipedia entry, under his picture.

    “There is only one basic human right, the right to do as you damn well please. And with it comes the only basic human duty, the duty to take the consequences.”

    Oh yeah.

    The only problem I can see with the Wiki list of O’Rourke’s quotes on the Ten Commandments is he could have summarized them all as one underlying concept, “Don’t take anything that doesn’t belongs to someone else.” Maybe he does elsewhere, I’ll have to add him to me reading list.

    • Argh. On misplaced word and it changes the whole meaning, and can’t be edited. “Don’t take anything that belongs to someone else.”

    • I used to enjoy PJ, but somewhen in the last 10-15 years I lost that.

      • His last few books aren’t as funny

        • Looks at how the US handled the conquest of Iraq, Obama’s reign, Hillary’s march on Moscow and Trump’s twitter account and thinks, it gets harder to laugh.

          • Humor can be hard. Sometimes you laugh so you don’t cry. Sometimes you laugh so the anger can subside, just a bit. Sometimes you laugh at the sheer bloody irony of it all…

            It’s part and parcel of why the Progressives stink at humor. A good humorist *has* to have a keen appreciation of the ridiculous, and of irony. It’s gotten darn near impossible to parody the left, *because they take it too darn seriously.* It *was* funny to parody the silliness in both parties, but how do you parody the ones who have already gone whole hog over to the Commies? It no longer works as a joke when they really are.

            Too often their laughter is not humor, but mean spirited delight in another’s (perceived) folly. It is crude, in the basest sense, and not worthy of human dignity, if such a term can stand beside humor. But as to that, humor without human dignity to be its straight man rings all hollow. When a man acts as a child, it may amuse for a moment or two. But when he loses all adult reason and behaves as one, he is contemptable.

            It’s tough to keep a light heart when things you take as sacred and meaningful are being profaned. Benghazi left a scar. And that’s just one of many injustices. But what seed of hope and humor was held then is still around now.

            If you can’t watch the new occasionally *without* a chuckle and a grin here and there- they *do* realize what fools they are making of themselves, don’t they?- well, that’s hard. The last eight years were tough on conservatives- heck, the election was pretty bad, too. There’s a lot of angst on the other side, and the occasional violent idiots. Those concern me.

            Above all that, though, there is still hope and humor. The two are nearly twins. They lift us up, even at the top step of the gallows (we ain’t there, no, not yet). Hope- I hope it won’t be as bad as I’m afraid it’ll get! And humor, ach, I know we were promised trials and tribulations, but did the first one *have* to be preceeded by “witch,” and the latter by whining? *chuckle*

            America tends to get tougher as the times get harder. We’ll carry on through. The engine may be running rough, the tires may be bald and darn near flat, the roof may leak and the windshield might be cracked, but everybody else is getting by on ricksaws and leather personell carriers. A little maintenance now will get things ticking over, sure as the sun does rise.

  15. AH, my daily dose of optimism. Don’t ever change Sarah. You’re awesome!

  16. “I’ve often expounded my theory that people who need someone who is exactly like them in external characteristics to enjoy a book or a movie, have never left the early toddler stage, where having your name in a book really helps you enjoy it.”

    I don’t dispute that toddlers seeing their name in a book helps them enjoy it, but I wouldn’t say they NEED someone like them in a book or show to like it. I’ve seen far too many stories where toddlers are happy to identify with animals, mythical creatures, talking steam locomotives, stuffed toys, etc. to doubt their ability to identify with a hero that is a different ethnicity or gender than themselves. I think that dysfunction has to be learned.

    • or I guess it that whole claim by Le Guin could be a polite lie (perhaps even to herself… himself… whatever).

  17. I’m not certain I ever went through a socialist phase, perhaps because of growing up in the agricultural Midwest and becoming aware of politics and economics at the Carter-Reagan transition. Family farms being bought out by corporations and conglomerates because of Death Taxes (80% of property value, ISYN), gas-lines, but also people around me who worked hard and who could make a decent living at it if others just got out of the way. The nicest property on my block was owned by a master welder and his wife! He had more ground than the doctors across the street did. My revulsion at being force-fed Latin-American “socialism” (Spanish class films. Had to watch at least four) and a collision with a socialist teacher in college pretty much told me that whatever the socialists and Communists were selling, I didn’t want it. Dad going behind the former Iron Curtain after Chernobyl and telling us about the hospitals there cemented that.

    • I don’t think I ever did, either. My parents were sensible, Eisenhower republicans – and from childhood on, there were a series of acquaintances and family friends who had escaped or migrated from various communist hellholes; Cuba, Russia, Hungary, the Baltic states, and Poland, among them. Logically, I noted early on that the traffic was all one-way; I never knew or met anyone who was all hot to migrate to Cuba, Russia, etc, although I did read about them now and again. But in my personal experience, there were so many who had experienced Communism full-strength and had nothing good to say of it, so I’d say I had been pretty well inoculated before I even set foot on a college campus.

    • Yep – add in watching California slide off the cliff thanks to the shift from Gov. “Build More Dams” Brown the Elder to Gov. “No More Dams” Brown the Younger, and the revolution theology silliness that the Catholic Church preached by default through the 1970s, and I spent my college years rolling my eyes and keeping my mouth shut.

      Nothing in my work years after that caused me to revise that assessment.

    • I definitely didn’t, especially since my parents were an engineer and a paleontology nut. Something about a) “but does it work?” and b) “a millennium is good for a baseline, but try for an eon if you can” makes for looking at socialism with a highly skeptical eye.

      Oh, and we can’t forget Gharlane. Nothing like having a friend of the family like that as a formative experience. (He had a few stories published under the pen name E.K. Grant, but his best work hadn’t been at the time he died.)

  18. scott2harrison

    ” And that the most prized form of leftism is “feminism” as we wind our way to a full misandrist society.”
    I am pretty sure that trans sexuality is kicking feminism’s ass. (Hot tip, buy popcorn futures). Of course since the beneficiaries do not have centuries of chivalry backing them up, they will crash and burn a lot sooner than women did.

  19. I don’t know why I am the way I am, but I don’t think I ever took a lot of the major lines of BS espoused by the various flavors of socialism very seriously. I did by into all the propaganda about how humans are all the same, under their skin, but the rest of the whole set of philosophies and theories about the intrinsic virtue of government and other people running my life? LOL… That withered and died before I entered middle school, and I blame my fellow students and the teachers for that fact. Too many unpleasant lessons taught at the hands of petty tyrants and complete dumbasses.

    Which may be one of the lasting legacies of public schooling, to tell the truth. I once created another contrarian like myself, when I pointed out to him that his espousal of socialistic ideas led to one place, and one place only: Turning the entire world into a high school writ large.

    The look of dawning horror on my friend’s face as he came to recognize the truths I was pointing out to him? Probably about what you’d get by providing a devout Christian that his particular church was actually a front for human sacrifice and raising Cthulu from his slumbers…

    Yeah, neither of us enjoyed our high school years. At all.

    • I survived Junior High and High School. That fact gives me a great deal of comfort when times are hard. I might be down to a few cents in the bank and no ramen in the pantry, but I made it through high school with most of my sanity and my physical person intact.

      • Someone once asked me what I felt about my time in Army recruiting. My reply was that I was grateful for it, because no matter how bad it got, even if I was eating a ball of rice and a fish head every other day in a North Korean POW camp, I’d still always be able to sigh contentedly to myself, remembering the comforting truth that, no matter how bad it got in that POW camp, I wouldn’t have to make “phone power” or talk to any more glue-sniffing, snot-nosed spoiled teenagers about a “career in the Army…”.

        High school was kinda-sorta like that. Big reason I didn’t follow the rest of my family on into higher education, to tell you the truth.

      • Heh. Same. Some are nostalgic for that time. Me, I’m glad I survived and didn’t end up in jail for something permanent.

        • Those who say that high school is “the best time of your life” are either lying or amnesiac.

          Mind, neither junior high nor high school was particularly bad for me, partly because I was getting away from the class I’d been with for five years in grade school* and I learned the lesson pretty well of “I don’t care what you think of me.” I wasn’t popular in high school—but I wasn’t unpopular either, sort of off to the side of Odd, Harmless, and occasionally Fun.

          *Grade school wasn’t that bad, really, but there was a pecking order and I was at the bottom. Almost all of my classmates went to two other junior high schools and said they were sorry I wasn’t going there; I said the same while internally rejoicing that I was going to break out of the spot I’d somehow gotten assigned to. Oddly enough, I’ve reconnected with quite a few of those classmates in a good way.

          And I just realized that I’d better never FB friend one girl in particular, because my brother still wants to punch her. (He took some things that happened to me very personally…)

          • I certainly did not enjoy high school – but I probably learned the most about how the world actually worked there. Two main things, actually. I am not the center of the universe, and I am not always right (where I am not an “expert,” I am probably just about always wrong – but only mostly right where I am expert).

  20. I studied political science at the University of Illinois 2005-2008 without being in any way a leftist. Of course, it probably helps that I started that course of study at the age of 24, after six years in the Navy which included four years spent in Europe (Spain and Greece). It also probably helps that my first memory of reading the newspaper for something other than the comics was 1989 Tienanmen Square. AND that I come from a family of readers and Odds. Or that I spent the second half of my secondary schooling living in the town’s worst neighborhood of subsidized housing, but having “gifted” classes with all the kids of lawyers, doctors, teachers, and preachers. I saw the rot from very early on and was determined that it would never keep me down.

    And yes, being in the Navy, and enjoying contact sports like rugby, I do often refer to myself as a dude with boobs. But that’s a JOKE, because I don’t in fact have to be a guy to do those things, and the idea that I must or should is ludicrous.

    Also, this: “I’ve often expounded my theory that people who need someone who is exactly like them in external characteristics to enjoy a book or a movie, have never left the early toddler stage, where having your name in a book really helps you enjoy it.” is one of my pet peeves. And this is coming from someone who always payed Scarlett when we were playing GI Joe, because she was the only girl So what? It was an elite military unit, and she was awesome. I didn’t pretend to be April when we were playing Ninja Turtles. I was always Leonardo, because he was awesome and that’s who I identified with.

    • “And yes, being in the Navy, and enjoying contact sports like rugby, I do often refer to myself as a dude with boobs. But that’s a JOKE, because I don’t in fact have to be a guy to do those things, and the idea that I must or should is ludicrous. “THIS. The “tolerant left” wants the can to exactly match the contents, or you’re “transgender.” F*ck that.

    • I hope I’m not offending you by saying this, but I’d always assumed based on your user name that you were a dude.

      I guess it’s just another lesson on how difficult it is to tell with someone you haven’t met face to face.

      • Maybe he’s just Mormon… with a great rack?

        • I mean, I did have one of my CTTs staring at my rack this morning, but that was because I was in dress whites and I had our newly-acquired Combat Action Ribbon on there.

          But not Mormon, and definitely a chick. My username refers to the little chocolate mouse from Swiss Colony we used to get every Christmas.

          • But why did you have your CAR on your bed? Oh wait, I get it…

          • No, no. I’m also not Mormon. Also definitely a chick (I checked JUST this morning in the shower. It’s good to be vigilant) but the left has proclaimed me White Mormon Male. (With a great rack.)

            • Ah, but chicks have feathers and you have scales (I will not speculate as to what units any scales might read out). But more importantly, you are not a moron. Fortunately, you are also not seeking to join the company of Posner where moronity (moronicity?) might be some sort of requirement.

              • Isn’t a Posner a unit of moronity? With Posner himself representing Absolute moronity, the point where no brain cells move at all.

                • I believe that one Posner represents the median point. 0 Posner would be Ted Cruz while a Square Posner gives us the typical Democrat Congresscritter, such as Adam “He Violated the Oath of Citizenship” Schiff.

                  Or maybe the Posner represents the integral of moronity from 0 to 100%?

          • Cryptologic Technician Technical? Am I getting that right?

            Man, the Navy just confuses the ever-loving snot out of me, with all the ratings and what-not. Outsiders just look in at all that stuff and go “WTeverlovingF…?”.

            The penchant for doing things with abbreviations like NAVFLIGHTDEMRON and NAVSECGRUACT has left me wandering around the various Naval bases I’ve done business on in a state of total confusion–And, what has absolutely killed me, a couple of times, was inquiring of the various Naval-type personnel working in these agencies “Hey, what the hell does that actually mean…?”, and getting three or four different answers, all wrong, and only finding out what the heck the real meaning of the abbreviation was by checking a joint-service publication. If the Navy was looking to use this as obfuscation for OPSEC purposes, they’re doing a magnificent job…

            Swear to God, true story–We had a really important briefing given to my entire unit’s staff, when we took over operating the port for 4th ID down at Ash Shuaiba in Kuwait. The briefing officer from the port detachment was a Navy guy that had arrived just slightly before we did. When he got up and gave his spiel in front of us all, with a machine-gun like delivery (and I don’t think that he used but two words beside “and” and “the” that anyone in my unit understood) it was a thing of wonder. His part of the briefing ended, he asked for questions into a dead silence that continued for several minutes until one of our smart-ass Majors stuck his hand up and said, very tentatively: “Sir… Was… Was any of that English…? Because, I didn’t understand any of it, and I think I may have had a stroke…”.

            • The Navy has never really accepted the National Security Act of 1947 and does everything in its power to keep outsiders, if not away, at least uncomfortable.

            • Cryptologic Technician Technical? Am I getting that right?

              Yes. They’re the ones who keep The Machines That Go BING, well, going BING. As opposed to the CTIs (Crypto Tech Intelligence) who are the ones who deal with output of The Machines That Go BING.

              That’s about all I know of it. My time in the Navy was spent summoning and binding Steam Demons.

          • Hmm. Thinking on my perception of your gender (which I rarely do on a forum, as there really is no way of telling) – I envisioned you as female. Possibly because I knew quite a few more Christines than Christophers.

            Come to think of it, we didn’t have rugby in my high school, but there was a Chris that I learned early on not to get under her spike in coed volleyball. Some tender part of my body was certain to hurt for the rest of the day (tender parts included the skull, btw…).

            • I only know one Christopher intimately, and she is lovely in body, intellect and spirit even if she has struggled under the burden of being born with two sets of X-chromosomes.

        • You call that a great rack? Now, Procrustes, there was somebody with a great rack.

      • Hmmmm … I always assumed Chrismouse to be a person of undetermined sex and a wicked sense of humour.

        Heck, it isn’t as if we can believe a person on the internet when he, she, it or they* claim a “gender identity.”

        *With all due respect** to our hostess, “they” is appropriate as some internet provocateurs can be multiple people assuming one identity or multiple identities assuming one person.

        **That is to say, no more than absolutely necessary.

    • … and that’s who I identified with.

      Doesn’t it follow, from the assumption a reader must identify with a similar character to enjoy a book that no boy can enjoy Alice, either in Wonderland or through the Looking Glass? Similarly, no girl can enjoy Dumas’ Musketeers, nor travel to King Arthur’s court with a Connecticut Yankee? Are cisnormal males supposed to identify with Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Wickham or Mr. Collins?

      Sigh. If we start listing classic works with which nobody of the nonconforming fiddly bits can identify this blog will exceed a kilocomment before dinner.

      Isn’t it futile to push males to read books with female main characters, or do boys have better imaginations, greater ability to empathize, than girls?

      • And I guess no one at all could read Asimov’s “The Gods Themselves.”

      • There is a movement to do just that. A new book out called Rebel Girls, or Stories for Rebel Girls, something like that, is a book of mini biographies of 100 women who have been successful or had some major impact on history. Nice book. Wouldn’t mind one for men too. Except it will never happen, at least not by these editors. Because Rebel Girls goes out of it’s way to make a stupid case that all fairy tales are about helpless princesses who wait for the man to rescue them. They’ve done ads with such things as reverse Cinderella so we see a man being jerked around by his step brothers. “You wouldn’t read this to your son’s. Why do we read it to our daughters?” And the original video, going through this bookshelves, mom and daughter do a “rigorous” survey of all the children’s books. Remove all princess books. Remove all with any male characters. Remove all where the girl had to get help. Etc. You can look up the videos. Then the two author/editors start talking about not being able to identify with books growing up. No one “just like them”. So they got this grand idea for the bedtime stories of strong women so girls could look up to someone.

        • make a stupid case that all fairy tales are about helpless princesses who wait for the man to rescue them.

          Guess neither of them ever read East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Nor the The Princess on the Glass Hill. Nor several hundred thousand or so others.

          Then the two author/editors start talking about not being able to identify with books growing up. No one “just like them”.

          Give them credit: not everybody would claim being imagination deficient as a virtue.

          I do worry about their commission of cultural appropriation, however.

        • And some of their selections. OK Hillary! would of course be in there, but rock stars? The price of the book is also a little steep compared to others in that section.

          • The price of the book is also a little steep ???!!! You mean they don’t pay people to read it, much less cart it away?

        • Um… King Arthur was jerked around by his foster brother. Joseph was jerked around by his actual brothers. All the Ashen-lad and X the Fool stories have guys who get teased and tormented by their brothers, stepbrothers, male village bullies, etc. And then, there’s most anime shonen stories….

          Arrrrgh! The ignorance and lack of observation, it burns!

          • You expect them to conform their theories to facts?

          • And if they managed to shut out all the older stories, how did they miss Harry Potter?

            • Heh. Beloved Spouse & I were gassing this afternoon over the idea of telling the Harry Potter tale from the point of view of Draco Malfoy.

              Think about it — pressured into despicable acts by cult member parents, spoiled rotten and knowing, deep down, that you had earned none of it? Compelled by cognitive dissonance to deny what was blatantly obvious: Harry Potter was an excellent Quidditch player and as good a wizard as you, that mudblood Granger was better than you (and could clean your clock in a fist fight.) That the Weasely brood had lineage as pure as yours and (certainly in Fred & George and arguably in Percy) were your magical equals. That your friends (stooges, truth be recognized) were a pair of dimbulb suck-ups barely competent to go toilet unaccompanied?

              How mortifying must it have been to have to strut the path of Draco Malfoy, forced into prejudices you have to constantly struggle to maintain?

              • SheSellsSeashells

                Well, I’d certainly take it over the many iterations of Draco In Leather Pants. (though TBH, I don’t read much Harry Potter fanfic, because the signal-to-noise ratio is beyond my ability to sort out.)

      • “Are cisnormal males supposed to identify with Mr. Darcy, Mr. Bennet, Mr. Wickham or Mr. Collins?”

        I had one college classmate who stated that Pride & Prejudice was his favorite novel. He identified with Mr. Darcy, of course.

    • I always played Lady Jaye myself. I certainly was never in the running to be Cover Girl.

  21. Never swallowed communism or leftism but first realized how indefensible so-called science is often by a lecture given by a NASA engineer at at seminary. He related that he worked on the Apollo moon project. One question the worried a lot about was dust on the moon. How much dust? Would the lander fall in? etc. So they asked all the engineers, “How much dust is there on the moon?” Answers were across the board but the general consensus was “feet deep”. This Engineer, being a Christian, answered, “Lets see, about 10,000 years old, There will be about 1/2 inch.”
    They, of course, accepted the consensus and planned on feet of dust. Notice that they had to find rocks to hold up the flag – not enough dust there. Realizing that the evidence (prediction and fullfillment) ist there has protected me against most science frauds – Global warming and party politics governmental design being very noticeable.

  22. The current administration might have me reaching for beer or wine or even whisk(e)y at times. The direct opposition is apt to have me going right to the spirits. These folks, that are just trying to (re)define the culture? Why, that’s just downright unhealthy. Absinthe… or even rectified spirits. (I refuse to seriously ponder half vs. full wave in this context. I will humorously consider it, however. For good humor is good health. {Good Humor is ice cream.} And if you don’t have your health….)

  23. Speaking of language rape, I was reminded by a note I left on an earlier thread of the meaning of the word “animal husbandry” and also “husbanding agent”. I can just imagine certain feminists’ assault on those words.

  24. Don’t know why, but reading all the comments reminds me that satire today sometimes is the news before it’s time. This Babylon Bee article on CNN reporting how millions of Americans colluded with Trump to keep Hillary out of the White House is almost real.

  25. My own story was similar. It was when I got into Mensa that I realized that, if leftism didn’t make sense to me, maybe it’s because it didn’t make sense.

  26. I still remember raising my hand in high school history when we got to the Great Depression and the New Deal and asking “Let me get this straight, FDR takes over in a massive economic crisis with millions of people unemployed and the first thing he does is make food more expensive?” I don’t think anyone else in the class, including the teacher, understood my incredulity.

    And I’m pretty sure I know who sent you that Reason subscription. You did. Or maybe Marshall. As you said, without that subscription this group wouldn’t exist, and we’re just the kinds of lunatic that would tear a hole through space-time (don’t worry, we’ll spackle over it) just to ensure that it will exist (has existed? exists? We’re going to need new tenses). Maybe we should check with the other members of the ELoE to see if there were similar anonymous or pseudonymous corrections to their life courses. Anyway, back to the workshop. Now that we know it works we just have to make it work!

  27. Something just twigged in my mind as I was reading over the new comments. As kamas716 in pointed out here in comments, “Ursula was born about 10-15 years after Leigh Brackett and Andre Norton, so I would have thought she’d be familiar with them.” True enough, and as others here noted, Anne McCaffrey was also published a bit before LeGuin. Then there where the others, like Judith Merril and C. L. Moore. In fact, a quick look at Moore’s Wiki entry provides an entire list of female authors in the genre who predate Moore: “Sophie Wenzel Ellis, Clare Winger Harris, Lilith Lorraine, Greye La Spina, Francis Stevens, Leslie F. Stone, and Everil Worrell.”

    But it wasn’t like Ursula K. LeGuin’s own mother, Theodora Kroeber, was unavailable as a role model. Though her productivity as an anthropologist was somewhat hampered by raising four children, Theodora published several research papers before and during Ursula’s childhood. Moreover, By the time Ursula was published in her early thirties, Theodora had published several non-fiction books as well. The best known of those is her 1961 Ishi in Two Worlds; by 1976 it had sold over a half million copies in English alone, plus translations in a dozen other languages.

    Between the others I thus find the decrying of lack of female role models a bit odd. It seems disingenuous at best.

  28. There was an article in WSJ this morning about men who write female-targeted suspense novels under gender-names, based on the belief that women will not accept that an authentic voice of a female character could be created by a male writer.

    • Maybe I should have set off with a male name?

    • So I should return all those Honor Harrington books I have in the other room? Even though they were instrumental in getting me back into the Navy? Clearly Honor was just another dude with boobs, especially as written by an actual dude.

      I feel like doing the Obelix head tap. “These Romans”.

  29. “However, if you’ve graduated from a Western university in the last forty years, you can say that you were once a leftist.”

    While I generally like your articles, this struck me as wrong – at least based on my experience. I went to University of Pennsylvania as an undergrad in the ’90s in the College of Arts and Sciences – although, admittedly, I eventually became an economics major. So, I got some exposure to Ancient Roman History and other completely irrelevant topics. But I’m pleased to report that they were taught straight – from a variety of perspectives, including some distinctly conservative ones. (I’ll admit to not taking much English – love those AP exams for placing one out of core requirements.) My honors econ 1 professor may have assigned Okun as reading but he also assigned Milton Friedman. I also took the maximum allowed courses in the Engineering school (primarily computer science) and in the business school (Wharton). At least in the ’90s, leftists clearly had not infiltrated either Wharton or the Engineering school – and those students tended to be some of the most conservative folks in the Ivy League. I was already Republican leaning but my circle of friends included some folks significantly to my right (the most memorable of which was an engineer who was in the ROTC program).

    I concede that things may have gotten worse – but in some ways, I doubt it. Folks going to the various business schools and/or engineering schools in modern Universities have very little time or interest in either protesting or Marx. They may primarily contribute the the Democratic Party these days but Marx isn’t all that useful in business school when you are trying to teach finance, accounting or marketing for example. Marx might have something to say in the labor relations area – but remember, the B-schools are preparing folks to be management, not labor, and, as such, the downsides of unionization are very much still taught to future managers. This shouldn’t be a surprise. Because the Universities have largely eliminated the core requirements, the folks focused on business or engineering can actually get through University with minimal exposure to the humanities or softer sciences where Marx and his disciples tend to be prevelant.

  30. It’s interesting. Even though my parents were conservative, I think most of my political philosophy came from the things that I read. I think the biggest thing for me that led me to become conservative was reading a book called The Real Lincoln. From it, I learned a lot about history and how little most people are taught about it. I started thinking, if schools and the media were lying to me about history, what else were they lying about? From there, I read more, and here I am.

  31. Pingback: Culture wars, 2 | retiredmustang

  32. I read The Dispossessed about thirty years ago, and hated it for being utopian collectivist Year Zero claptrap. I haven’t given a damn about Le Guin’s opinions about anything since.

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