Making a Living by the Pen

I’m very late with everything, though this is quite a new ability of mine, being late while producing furiously.

I just want to say this once, that this is not what I imagined when I was a kid and wanted to be a writer.  There would be a more… stable situation.  I often read in books, including Frederic Brown’s Martians Go Home (you should read it if you haven’t, at least if you like funny and somewhat silly books.  It has caused one of my friends, who self identifies as a racoon, to send me peremptory messages saying “Write faster, toots.”) about agents calling the author, urging the author to write (the raccoon is not my agent) even making them small loans, suggesting books, encouraging.

I never had a relationship like that with any of my four agents.  I don’t believe most writers do.  Or at least, perhaps some top bestsellers do.  Or perhaps — of course — it is my amazing quality of doing everything sideways and backwards, since I’ve heard of beginning writers,making far less than I, who had long conversations with my last agent, and got suggestions for novels and such.

Honestly, I didn’t want long conversations with any of my agents.  The writing thing — which is not exactly under my control — will take suggestion, but not the suggestions anyone wants it to.  The type of suggestion it will take is more while driving back from dinner at Pete’s a couple of weeks ago, leaning back in the seat and saying to my husband “Someone should write something as fast as the chronicles of Amber but tighter.”  Husband looked over and said “Science fiction, perhaps?  Is that why you’ve been reading of possible ancient civilizations?”

And in the next minute I had seven, maybe ten, books in my head, because my muse is a female canine that wishes me to die.

Yes, you’ll see that in the fullness of time, but not right now, because, you know, right now I’m late with everything, from collaborations (yes, Guardian proceeds apace) to indie books (yes, Dyce four hit a minor snag, but it’s getting done) to my own continuing series (G-d willing and the creek don’t rise, I would like to do Hacking the Storm (third book of the Earth Revolution) and Darkship Defiance for Baen before the end of the year, so that fans of the series’ are just sitting by, waiting for years, something that has blighted the growth of the series.  Then there is the part-written Bowl of Red.

And I haven’t even come close to achieving my goal of 3 articles a week for PJmedia, being stuck at more like 8 a month.  Okay, this will have to change.  I have a list of articles to write, but the body is also not entirely under my control.

I have now lost a few days to late-hitting con-crud in the form of stomach flu.  This one was sneaky, since my son caught it (he swears he wasn’t hanging out with Mike Williamson!) and had it for a week and a half or so before passing it on to me.  (The one infallible method of getting rid of it.)  Then I had it for a day and thought I was okay, but it came back last night “Return of the con crud, this time it’s serious.)

It’s mostly annoying, honestly, but it leaves me feeling as though I have no energy, and it’s really hard to write action when you feel like taking a nap. It’s even hard to write articles.

And so, what has this to do with you, other than displaying I’m obviously also having trouble writing posts.

I was musing the other day, having talked to both sons on the matter, that one’s training never prepares one for one’s profession, or not really.

Well, my profession has never had any formal training (other than what I took at the Oregon writers’ Professional Workshop, but you know what I mean.)  And yes, if you’re a beginner, no, creative writing classes won’t prepare you for life as a commercial novelist.  They might in fact hinder you.  My literature classes did hinder me.  It’s only useful if you are writing “literary” which is a small and unproductive genre.  In that, acquaintances made, if you take the course at an ivy league institution at least, will get you in with the top brass of NY publishing, who then might push your book to the limit of their abilities.  (Which right now aren’t great.)  But in other genres, they’re more likely to look at that part of your resume with a critical eye and ask if your well-rounded characters can be punctured with a sword.

But going beyond strict training, to the idea of what people actually do for work, most of us are totally unprepared for the realities of the working world, which turn out to be… not at all what we expected.

For instance, one of the attractions of being a novelist for me is that politics and office politics wouldn’t intrude.  Okay, I’ll wait till you stop laughing to continue.

There’s more than that, now, of course.  The job that wasn’t exactly as I expected has mutated, and I’m glad it has, as it is now less office-politicky. What I mean is, should someone (eh, most of publishing, apparently) conceive a strong dislike for me, I would just step sideways into full indie, which pays me more, and resume producing.

But the old forms, and what we thought our profession WOULD be — even though it never was — holds sway in our minds.  People who grew up watching movies in which every novelist was rich or at least making a middle class life, are shocked when the advance on their first book is 5k (or these days 3k) paid in three installments.  I’ve had to calm newby writers panicking because their first short story has attracted neither an award nor a movie deal.  I have to deal with friends who can’t understand why they’re not rich 10 books out the gate.  They think they’re no good because of this, and I know it has nothing to do with it.  The field was never like that.  Heavy promotion, the attendant money-making, at most houses was always the result of fast and concerted “push.”  I.e. demand that bookstores stock THIS much.  It also needed a certain type of book (noticed I didn’t say good.  In fact very few novelists are good enough to capture “easy to read” and “deep” — though some are, and many of them are my friends) at a certain time.

Even if my first book had been the best thing since sliced bread with honey (It wasn’t.  I mean, it’s a very decent book, but I had no clue of commercialism and therefore allowed myself to roll in words like a pig in muck, and indulge in affections that lock most readers out.)  But let’s say my first book had been MHI.  (Ah, I wish.)  Even then, with it coming out in hard cover (a decision I had no part in) a month after nine eleven (with all the conspiracy theories flying around, I must say I had no part in that either) and the orders being crossed so most stores said the paperwork said it was supposed to have a dump of its own (its own standing cardboardy thing in the isle) but only two were ordered per bookstore, and there was no dump, the book would have sunk.  It would have sunk if it were the best thing in G-d’s green earth.  Which it isn’t.

I’ve learned (failure is very instructive) to set my goals at writing and delivering, which I can at least control and avoids my going too crazy.  Except, of course, when I’m late at everything.

I also appreciate indie, and frankly ebooks for traditional, because they give you a chance of being discovered years after your book came out, and while no bookstores carry it.  I have a strong feeling, from the inflow of fan letters, and the stuff I’m asked about at cons and on social media, that the Shifters series is enjoying somewhat of a revival.  14 years in, it’s finding audience.

Traditional publishing is not prepared to cope with this.  Their investment in the book must be paid earlier than that.  (Fear not, if Baen will not take Bowl of Red, it goes indie.)  Otherwise they won’t stay afloat.

But there’s always indie.  Which is remarkably freeing.

It also pays better.  Did I mention it pays better?  One of the reasons I’m forever surprised at watching my friends who are indie only waltz over (or rather crawl on their knees over to traditional.)  I don’t get it.  I suspect it is part of the image in their heads.  They want to be “real” as they expected it to be when they were little.

I suspect we’re going to see a lot of this in a lot of professions, where the profession is changing so fast, even if the training and the image were accurate at one point it wouldn’t be now.

Don’t be afraid.  Stay flexible.  In most professions, as in writing, the change is towards your having more control of your destiny.  The water might get choppy but if you hold on to the sides of the boat, it will get easier.

Yeah, I know, this is a time of great technological change, and we come after a cycle optimized to work in the old way (which doesn’t mean it was either better nor more lucrative.  Remember that thing about taking over institutions, gutting them, wearing their skin demanding respect.  That was the old cycle, and everyone was kow towing to the dead husks.)

Be not afraid.  The future is what we build.

Get out there and build it.

(Lest the wallaby accuse me of secret writings, here are my PJM articles for the month:

What Happens When the Artist Chides His Audience?

When I Think Back on All the Cr*p I Learned in High School

Teach Your Children Well Part 2

Teach Your Children Well: The Subversive Way to Homeschool




220 thoughts on “Making a Living by the Pen

  1. For the first time in months, I have a small amount of energy again. I hate sleeping my life away. I think the higher dosage is helping…Yeah… So yea, when the body is not working properly, it can screw with the writing. Sending you good vibes.

    1. I’m not 100% sure why, but I actually *like* sleep. Perhaps it’s because I like dream states, even when I don’t remember my dreams (and I wish I remember more of them — most of the time, my dreams quickly fade away, leaving just a vague feeling or two behind).

      Having said that, I wish my body didn’t need 9 hours of sleep. I’d be *really* happy if I only needed 5 hours of sleep — which is the amount I typically get anyway. If I could just run on 5 hours of sleep without being tired all the time, I think I would be happier.

      But then, I think I’d be happy if I could sleep for 9 hours a day, and then spend the rest of the day doing things I want to do, as opposed to the things I need to do (such as paycheck work and paying bills…)

      1. I like sleep because a lot of the time it is better than dealing with the world.

        That probably isn’t a good sign 🙂

        1. Yep. It’s a way of passing time without having to deal with the idiocy that is life.

        1. Glad to hear you are feeling a bit better for the moment. Hope it continues. Chronic bad health sucks. Waking up tired is exhausting in and of itself.

      2. Is it possible you have sleep apnea? Is there somebody who could tell you if you seem to briefly stop breathing when you sleep?

        I ask because I used to need 9 hours, and after getting hooked up with a cpap blower, my need for sleep dropped to between 6 and 8, depemding.

        Pity I usually only get 5.

        Anyway, IF you can get it checked out without bankrupting yourself, it,could be very worth it. I know it’s a fad, and overdiagnosed, but it also,really exists and getting it addressed,can really perk up your life.

      1. *hugs* Good sleep makes tackling the awake part of life so much more do-able. Here’s to lots more good sleep, lots less illness, and happiness!

  2. “I’m writing this from my garret, watched over by two small mice, who – enviously – watch my three remaining crumbs of bread. Tomorrow I eat them,”

    Too much decaf. I sat there for a couple minutes trying to understand why Sarah ate those two small mice.

  3. Reading you and some of the comments at Mad Genius Club makes me wonder just what it is that traditional publishers do for authors. It seems that the author is responsible for writing the book, getting the book edited, marketing the book, doing giveaways to market the book, and the publisher…picks out the cover art, I guess. Well, and can potentially get the book into brick-and-mortar stores, but almost the only place that seems to be of much use is airports. What else do they do for you?

    At the stage I’m at, there is an appeal for me for the traditional publishers, because if they would be willing to publish me, it would mean that my work, in the opinion of someone who sees a lot of this stuff, is “good enough.” I may not have perfected the craft, but I’ve gotten to the point where it’s likely no longer embarrassing. I’m not entirely sure how to figure out on my own if that’s true. However, if you were already an established indie writer, you presumably have plenty of fans who give you their hard-earned beer money to reassure you that you’re good enough. Under those circumstances, it would have to be a pretty good deal to convince me to sign up with a traditional publisher.

    1. My small press book is likely to get in a bookstore soon… because my publisher just bought a small bookstore. Not going to end up in a B&N anytime soon, but then, they’ve never had much in the way of F&SF to begin with, and I hear it’s worse now.

      1. Oddly, the regional B&N has a nice S-F/F section. I am irked that they got rid of the “new release!” section and just tuck the new in with the old (they do get a little tag under them saying New Release if the publisher pays for it). S-F/F is actually larger than world history, come to think of it, and possibly as big as world and US combined.

          1. Check; same at my local B&N—the new science fiction shelf has been replaced with manga (or whatever the term is for Japanese graphic novels that aren’t porn).

            1. & the sci-f/fantasy section might be one row less (perhaps the same as it was before), not counting the manga, which I don’t but youngest child does. So it’s four or five shelves, I think; college town of 60,000 or so that draws from surrounding counties.

        1. They have done that with the one I frequent but given what is in it hasn’t changed much I pretty much still only buy Lee and Moorcock reprints there.

          For some reason mystery has a stronger back catalog and mid-list selection the SFF. I can only read some much bad Lakey/Tolkien mashup (which it seems most fantasy is even if you pour steampunk all over it).

        2. I haven’t been in the “local” one lately (in the next city over, and past a major bottleneck as well as being in a mall with a parking lot of Doom.) But it used to be pretty much “books I already owned” and only a few shelves here.

    2. Because in the milleau people attach publishers to good books. In addition many publishers, editors and others have a vested interest in tearing down any indie. So if people start at the typical level of conventions as opposed to internet a not insignificant number of people will tell them that the only way to be good is to get that publisher seal.

    3. What do trad & small press do?

      1.) advances: advance is a funny word that means “Loaning your royalty income to you before the book is published… that doesn’t have to be repaid if you don’t earn that much.” This used to be, according to the authors who recalls the echoes of the dinosaur’s footsteps (dodges carp) enough to live on. Now for midlist it’s around $3,000. For Comey and Hillary and other smarmy people, it’s millions of dollars. So if you’re last name is Clinton, go trad. If your last name isn’t known to the NYT News editors, not exactly an impressive reason.

      2.) Publishing: Cover, blurb, print layout, ebook formatting, distribution. Done with varying degrees of expertise. If you’re a NYT Bestseller, you’re going to get top-notch treatment. If you’re a midlister, you may get Asok the Intern using photoshop and royalty-free stock. Used to be, this massive headache and learning curve for each of these was enough to radically discourage indies. But now, there are lots of freelancers and contractors you can hire out – and even if you do it yourself, between POD presses and the advance of technology, it’s a whole lot less headache than it used to be. And you are motivated to get the best for your release, unlike a publishing house.

      (This is part of why Peter published his first western with Castalia; at the time, he had medical issues such that we were completely swamped. We could either not get the book out, or Castalia could get it out for a share of the proceeds.)

      3.) Fan base: Baen and Castalia are the two presses I know of that have actively worked to attract & retain a fan base. This means that any new release Baen or Castalia puts out, even by a completely unknown author, is going to get a certain number of eyeballs, just because it’s a Baen (or Castalia) book. The giant conglomerate of the trads… not so much.

      (This is part of why we were delighted for Peter to do the Freehold anthology with Mad Mike Williamson. Not only is he an awesome person and a good writer, but exposure to the Baen fan base is, for a mil sci fi writer, a lovely, lovely thing.)

      4. Contracts – the elephant in the room. The contracts we’ve had so far from Castalia & Baen have been very fair. The contracts we’ve seen others get offered from trad pub are… hideous abominations? A mockery of the very idea that a contract should be a fair agreement in which both parties come out ahead? Mmm, those are both too mild to describe ’em.

      But keep in mind: you’re NOT selling your book. You’re licensing Intellectual Property rights. If you don’t understand the difference, stay far, far away from trad pub, and get yourself a copy of Nolo Press’s The Copyright Handbook, then read it and understand the business you’re in. Otherwise you’re like as not going to get taken to the cleaners without even understanding there were other options that would have left you and the publisher happy.

      1. 5.) Anonymity – I forgot about this until someone mentioned LawDog. This is part of why LawDog didn’t go indie, and L.B. Johnson went small press for The Book of Barkley. If you’re in a sensitive job situation, like, for example, working for the government in just about any capacity, or you’re going to cover a sensitive topic (Like, say, female genital mutilation is bad, even if your culture and religion think it’s peachy keen – Aya Hirsi Ali, anyone?), then not having your address hanging out there on the bottom of your promotional emails and your phone number available to the world is rather a priority.

        Even Peter & I have a PO Box for the business mail, and it’s not just to keep it separate. We’re unlikely to ever be controversial enough to attract crazies… except I would have sworn the same thing about Larry Corriea, and then during the Sad Puppies kerfluffle, his wife (like Brad Torgersen’s) discovered just how low some slimy nutters will go, and that you can’t afford to dismiss all of the threats as posturing internet trolls who’ll never leave their mommy’s basement.

      2. 3.) Fan base: … any new release Baen or Castalia puts out, even by a completely unknown author, is going to get a certain number of eyeballs, just because it’s a Baen (or Castalia) book. The giant conglomerate of the trads… not so much.

        In some cases (not gonna mention any names; that would be Torible) the giant cong. of the trads may yield negative results. I admit that certain trads, short of the author being a (well) known quantity I do not bother to pick up. In some cases, even if the author is a known quantity I figure that if he opted to sell the book through [redacted] it would likely be better for the relationship between author and reader if I skip that book.

        1. In some cases (not gonna mention any names; that would be Torible)
          Some of the other publishing houses are a Baen on their existence though….

    4. > just what it is that traditional publishers do for authors.

      Traditionally, they were the gatekeepers who controlled access to the next step of the retail distribution system, the warehousers/distributors and the larger bookstores. Below that were the smaller bookstores and the vermi…er, customers.

      The tiered retail system evolved from ancient mercantile practices; each link of the chain was distinct, and each one made its profit. “Mail order” started nibbling away at the edges of that in the 1800s, and “discount stores” in the 1960s, who started dealing with manufacturers directly so they could bypass the distributors and pocket their profits too.

      Now the publishers are still gatekeeping, but the internet is letting authors and customers connect without involving the traditional distribution chain at all. Their reaction has alternated between indifference, contempt, denial, and outrage.

      The publishers aren’t going to go away any time soon – scholastic and business nonfiction markets will probably continue to use them – but they’re losing a sizeable chunk of the easy fiction profit margin they used to skim off as the gatekeepers.

  4. Reading posts like this give wannabe writers like me a little hope. :p
    Glad to hear about “Bowl of Red” (got the girlfriend hooked on the Shifter series…), if the ten book series is about that snippet posted yesterday on FB, then I can wait. Get better, and write at your speed.

          1. Thanks. Tomato soup and chili are the only dishes I’ve seen referred to that way, though the chili references I’ve seen seem to outnumber the tomato soup.

          2. But does The George ever get any wannabe-vampire customers who order it and then snicker loudly about what they’re drinking? (I thought “bowl of red” was a reference to blood until I looked up diner lingo). And if they do, how many seconds does it take before either Tom or Kyrie informs them that their further patronage is not desired?

  5. Re: your homeschooling article:

    I do think the “hybrid” model is the way to go. Teach your kids at home, but go ahead and take advantage of the 8 hours of free babysitting that the state provides. In addition to the fact that that gives the adults time to earn their living, I think the public schools do teach a couple of valuable lessons: how to deal with boredom and how to play the bureaucratic game. I’ve met some bright homeschoolers who flunk out of college because they just refuse to do the assignments that their professors give them: they’re interested in Topic X that was brought up in class, so they do in-depth research on that rather than doing the problem set on Topic Y, which they find boring. In the long run, being able to handle boredom is important for everyone, and being willing to do something stupid with a smile on your face is useful for everyone but the truly independent businessperson.

    1. “Deal with Boredom and Stupid Assignments” – Agreed, observed that when I went back to school, and latter at subsequent employments (and was good enough at the profession to pay attention to others “experience”).

      Had classmates that could program circles around me, I mean I am very very good, but when it comes to code, they are brilliant, BUT when it comes to the mundane, either classes because the establishment insists you be “well rounded”, or the “easy” assignments, for school, these students usually barely passed the assignment or class.

      At work, these were the people who you could count on getting a hard algorithm done/worked out, but you could (1) NOT get them to get the product done in a timely manner. (2) If they make changes to a product someone else had to keep them to the task, not only on additions that had to be made but keeping features that clients relied and needed that they thought were “stupid”. (3) Then there were those “brilliant” (and they were) algorithms that had to be changed, but were so tight, changing likely meant “breaking” them, and time did not allow them (if the original programmer was even available) to rewrite them, because we’d circle back to point #1.

      Work not being what you expected? Lets talk Computer Science. Kind of knew that going in, already working the field when I got the Degree, Flowcharts, Design, before starting? Let alone Data Dictionary? HA HA HA HA, yea that was happening, NOT. Giving the client exactly what they were asking for, uhhhh, No … in my case “what they needed”, yes, just was lucky in the employer’s working for that I had that latitude to take the extra time; but from comments from clients, that was not the rule from other vendors.

      1. We have a program at work that has some crazy hoops built into it because of stuff like that. Certain parts of it are completely black box and can’t be updated (even though they date back to the 70s and 80s) without completely re-writing the program. They can’t consult the original programmer because in most cases the guy’s been dead for at least 10 years. Let’s just say that program has a rather recalcitrant personality.

    2. Eight hours a day of “My child seriously considers suicide or homicide, while being constantly bored or tormented” is not what I would consider babysitting or free.

      I suppose it might be training for combat, in a third world army of bullies.

      1. Okay, my school experience was not completely horrible. But that’s because (in contrast to my schoolmates) almost all my teachers were kindly, and because I spent 80-90% of my time reading under the desk.

        So the time I was conscious of spending in school was about 80% horrible.

  6. It also pays better. Did I mention it pays better? One of the reasons I’m forever surprised at watching my friends who are indie only waltz over (or rather crawl on their knees over to traditional.) I don’t get it. I suspect it is part of the image in their heads. They want to be “real” as they expected it to be when they were little.

    Hmm, I suspect that Lawdog is feeling quite “real” this morning, with a debut novel at #1 in three categories in Amazon, and #96 overall.

    1. I’m about a fourth of the way into it (as of lunch at work today), and I like his writing quite a bit. Little hints of his background, both in law enforcement and before might could leave one hoping he’s got more in the pipeline.

  7. I just want to say this once, that this is not what I imagined when I was a kid and wanted to be a writer.

    What in life ever comes out quite as we imagined as kids?

    1. I just came back from my 40th high school reunion this past weekend. (1st one I’ve been to) Nobody came out quite the way we imagined; some of us drastically so.

  8. Had a devil of a time convincing one of the authors I support to take her new series indie. Probably would have lost the argument had any small press shown interest. Didn’t really understand until sitting at author’s alley at Libertycon I watched as fan after fan came up praising her work, buying books, having them autographed. Great experience. Then one stranger came by, picked up a book, examined the cover, made a rude noise, then remarked self published isn’t it.
    Guess which bit of LC she still remembers quite vividly today.

      1. Sweetie, Chromosphere is her own personal imprint. Pure indie with a nice name attached. Or you can say that it’s a one person small press with me as business manager and Darrell as graphic artist.
        Six o’ one half dozen t’ other.

        1. No, Uncle Lar. Technically, it’s published by a small press. That it’s publishing her doesn’t mean anything. She doesn’t have to say it’s self published, because it isn’t.

          1. If Baen had published a collection of work by Jim Baen, would that have been self published?

            I suggest that the question of whether a work is trad, self-pub or Indy is irrelevant. What matters is it worth giving up buying and drinking a few beers, and if so, how many?

          2. Yeah when i see the “Small Press” numbers that are being used to talk down about indie, I am forced to wonder how many of those ‘small press’ are a publishing company with only one or two writers.

        2. Eh – I’m an indy. And published by a small specialty press.
          Which I own.
          (I do other people’s books for a consideration.)

    1. Yes. Last year (’16) at LC I had someone express interest in putting me on a panel at DragonCon until she learned I was indie all the way. She did not mean to be insulting, but her disappointed “Oh” and body language got the point across. *shrug* So goes it.

      Since that was the only negative thing that entire weekend, hey. I’ve heard worse about my non-fiction (“[Academic press]? If it was any good, Viking/Simon&Schuster/Basic Books would have published it.”) Right. Given that it actually earned out and sold out and got nothing but fantastic reviews? Sure, it’s an unworthy book. 😛

      1. Was it the person who runs the writing track?

        If so she’s clueless no matter how many years she’s been around. She’s the panelist who said 50 years ago women didn’t write scifi and there weren’t any real female characters in scifi.

        Yes, the woman who runs the writing track at Dragoncon (or claimed she does which might be a more correct answer) said that.

        1. Could have been. She was listening in on an awkward conversation, half-invited me, heard my answer to the other party, and drooped.

  9. …(yes, Dyce four hit a minor snag, but it’s getting done)…

    Snag? Aw. I am so sorry to hear that.

    It’s getting done? Yippee! I am so happy to hear that.

    (Similar pleasure at learning that Bowl of Red is still simmering on the stove. It is said that chili’s flavor deepens and improves with age. Still, there has to be a limit, doesn’t there? I’ll sit here in my half booth reading and drink coffee until them.)

    1. The critical piece is probably being held up in transit by some slow ox or such. And why use oxen for transit? Stability. Sure, horses are faster… and more apt to bounce things around. When some of those things have a tendency to… rapidly disassemble at the molecular level… bounce is bad.

  10. Life isn’t like the movies?

    Excuse me while I set the safety on my Glock. I guess I probably ought not hold my pistol sideways while shooting?

    Ah well. At last I understand the absence of tall, dark and sultry strangers casting burning glances my direction.

      1. Other than some oddball stuff from Pakistan or India, no small arms ammunition has been loaded with Cordite since the 1950s.

        Cordite, btw, doesn’t smell any different than any other single-base powder. Sort of like hot plastic to my schnozz.

    1. Obviously no movie director had any experience in the military, other than flunking out of basic training.

      Even shooting right and left barricade, you hold the weapon vertically, not on its side. And usually use the off-hand to brace against the barrier with your thumb out as a support for the weapon.

      1. Hah! As if there’s anything more than a tiny trace vestigial percentage of the creative side in Hollywood that ever got off the bus and stood on the painted footprints, let alone crashed out during Basic.

        Now the trades side has a fair representation, not in line with the rest of country, but better than the vanishingly small fraction on the creative side.

        And don’t even mention the money side.

        1. Few if any “creative” types in Hollywood know anything about anything, except acting and how to get their next job.

          1. Nor Neville Brand nor Audie Murphy.

            It would be nice to have at least a few like Eddie Albert (Bronze Star with V at Tarawa), Mel Brooks (VMI graduate and sapper who saw action in the Battle of the Bulge), Charles Durning (three Purple hearts and a Silver Cross), Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. (served on Lord Louis Mountbatten’s staff, awarded several medals for bravery, chief among them the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit, the British Distinguished Service Cross, and even the French Croix de guerre AND was married to Joan Crawford), Russell Johnson (the Professor was an Army Air Corp bomber pilot who flew no less than 44 missions over the Pacific), and Lee Marvin (serving as a Scout Sniper in the 4th Marine Division in the South Pacific.)

            You could look it up.

            1. If we’re going to get more expansive, don’t forget James Doohan, Merian Cooper (director of the original “King Kong”), and Don S. Davis (from Stargate).

              1. We might even include British actors, such as David Niven, Alec Guiness, Michael Caine (rifleman, Korea), Michael Rennie, Donald Pleasance
                (who really was a R.A.F. pilot who shot down, held prisoner and tortured by the Germans), Rex Harrison, Richard Todd (parachuted into France during the D-Day Invasion) and Roger Moore.

                Then there was Sterling Hayden:
                Prior to Pearl Harbor, abandoned Hollywood to become a commando with the COI (later the OSS). Joined Marines under pseudonym “John Hamilton” (a name he never acts under), eventually running guns and supplies to Yugoslav partisans through the German blockade of the Adriatic, as well as parachuting into Croatia for guerrilla activities. Won Silver Star and citation from Tito of Yugoslavia. [IMDb]

                Audrey Hepburn, as a child she was a courier for World War II resistance fighters in Holland.

                Seems like it would have been impossible to swing a cat in Hollywood following WWI without hitting a veteran. Then there were directors, such as john Ford who reportedly made John Wayne’s life hell because Wayne didn’t serve, William Wyler, who flew many missions aboard a B-17 to make the documentary The Memphis Belle: A Story of a Flying Fortress, and George Stevens, whose Diary of Anne Franck was undoubtedly influenced by his work documenting the liberation of Dachau.

    2. Actually, Glock ended up putting a safety (other than the Safe Action doohickey) on their submission to Uncle Sam’s MHS (Modular Handgun System) trial pieces. I hope it doesn’t make it to market.

      1. They’ve also made a few versions with external safeties for some police contracts that demanded them, and there are some aftermarket conversions.

  11. Okay, I’ll wait till you stop laughing to continue.

    Look I am only just recovering from choking on my laughter at the mental image of portentous portly characters being deflated on skewering …

    Are you trying to kill me?

  12. …that the Shifters series is enjoying somewhat of a revival. 14 years in, it’s finding audience.

    Which in a day and a time would have have then been publicized as an overnight sensation. Appearances and reality have never been straightforward.

    1. Fourteen years to be a hit. Forgive me, I’m trying to shoehorn a Michael Crichton reference in here somewhere, probably because I re-read his time travel novel (Timeline). Thinking about how he disappeared (or probably that’s just me) after Andromeda Strain and then re-appeared with Jurassic Park and Disclosure. Yeah, I picked three that got made into big films. And why isn’t he considered a science fiction writer (or is he)?

      1. I am aiming for closer to nine but I don’t want to be a hit just pay the bills (which will be aided by no mortgage/rent according to The Plan ™).

      2. Eh? Westworld, Futureworld, and that Western happened in between.

        Frankly, the pseudonymous action/adventure stories he wrote while in medical school are much better written than his science fiction. He started writing SF after he walked away from doctoring and went off to Hollywood to make movies, so it’s possible his SF was written with an eye to eventual conversion to a screenplay.

    2. Sigh… Fourteen books out there (four of them co-written with my daughter) and a nice selection of local sales and fanship … but I am glad that I got into this game through the medium of mil-blogging. Where I already had fans, and people who just plain old liked my writing. Which build up my confidence to the point where I could go indy, already knowing that I was good enough and had an readership out there.
      I did a couple of rounds of trying the old traditional way – but only with the first two novels. Got nowhere, so went to indy without a backwards look.

      1. I, for one, am glad that you chose to go indie. I thoroughly enjoyed To Truckee’s Trail as well as your Adelsverein trilogy and related books.

  13. I was musing the other day, having talked to both sons on the matter, that one’s training never prepares one for one’s profession, or not really.

    This is very true in computer programming. In fact, a CS degree seems to teach you no skills you need your first 1-2 years in the field (at least not after your sophomore year and then not all of that) while filling you with a bunch of stuff you need to forget.

    I don’t care if you understanding parsing, what do you know of testing, version control, and build systems?

    I have argued for a while apprenticeships would work much better for computer programmers than college. Sure, after you’re a journeyman getting your BS (or equivalent) at night wouldn’t be bad but I’d rather hire some smart HS kids who did some programming and apprentice them for 2-3 years. They’d be more useful than their age peers right out of college at 4 years and instead of debt they would have gotten paid to learn the trade.

    1. Abso-fraggin’-lutely.

      But if you notice, the colleges concentrate on what’s easy to teach. Or possibly, what’s easy to grade.

      Programming is essentially problem-solving, and that doesn’t seem to be something an ordinary curriculum does well.

      1. +2 (One for each of you…)

        I was always tempted to put an item in the development estimates – “Time to untangle the mess made by the frickin’ useless noob: X man-months.”

        1. >>I was always tempted to put an item in the development estimates – “Time to untangle the mess made by the frickin’ useless noob: X man-months.”<<

          I actually had a couple of jobs where I did exactly that!!! Multiple times.

          Or my last job where I would agree with client that yes there was a problem that had to be fixed. I'd get asked "how long to fix it", my standard answer was "probably about a minute or two after I find the problem; now ask me how long it will take me to find the cause?" … silence from the client, every single time (and implied from my part … when am I going to get to it because you are problem #100 for this week alone).

          1. Like the washing machine repairman joke:

            Tapping with hammer: 25 cents.
            Knowing where to tap: $49.75

    2. I’m going to make the suggestion that we’ve made a horrible error in judgment in allowing the academy to take over the role that it has in terms of credentialing and teaching. Especially in regard to things of practicality and substance–You want to parse Old English sonnets and deconstruct the various schools of philosophy, fine. The academic world is probably just fine.

      However, when you start trying to train engineers and such by starting them out on a course of abstract bullshit that bears little relationship to the real world…? Yeah; that would be why the idiot architect and engineer both put the house mechanical room into a location that basically mandated destroying what the client was paying for, a traditional timber-frame cathedral ceilinged living room, with no intrusions. Pressed on the issue, the two of them said, and I quote: “That’s up to the contractor to figure out… “. It being physically impossible to put the HVAC into that design, have it work, and still be able afford the installation…? We passed on the job. Some things are just not worth fighting.

      I think we need to abandon the whole system we’ve built up around academically qualifying everyone for everything before they start their careers. It is becoming patently obvious that the academy is failing at the mission, and it is far past time we recognized that fact, and did something about fixing it.

      1. IMHO we need to go back a ways, to when only a comparatively small number of people went to college, and that was strictly for history, languages, theology… Think Oxbridge. Probably keep higher math and the theoretical sciences. Make practical fields (engineering, basic sciences, things like Hotel and Restaurant Management or Grain Sciences or Textile Engineering, petrogeology, architecture) a separate school, with a separate degree, a bit like they do in Germany. Have some overlap, so you get engineers and industrial chemists who can write understandable-outside-their-field reports and so on, but separate schools, different degree goals, and different administrations.

        1. And make architecture students do a summer internship with a construction company, so they get to see just what the limits of design are, so Kirk doesn’t have to try to bend the laws of physics while building a house.

          1. Same for mechanical engineers and some kind of repair shop one summer and a machine shop the next. EE probably needs the first as well but I was a machinist’s mate and bitched about the MEs.

            1. Wouldn’t hurt to send designers for that type of thing, either. Maybe then they won’t place equipment where access hatches can’t swing open, or place access panels against walls, or route piping, electrical, or HVAC in space where the hatches otherwise should be able to swing through.

        2. But all evidence has shown that holding a college degree significantly enhances lifetime earnings, so the obvious solution is to award everybody a college degree at birth. Goodbye Budget Deficit, Woooo!

          1. Y’know… I’m not sure whether that’s entirely a justified thing, or not. Were one to go by “value added” to the economy vs. what we’re actually paying these people for, which is to apply their credentialed imprint to something to enable the gatekeepers to have something to point at when there might be a problem down the line…?

            I suspect a lot of these folks would actually be found to be net negative contributors to the economy, because of what they cost the companies and organizations that hire them–Despite all their academic credentials. I’m not sure how the hell we’d track or capture that data, but I do believe it is a real thing, and something that the accountants ought to be looking at.

            Case in point–We bid on a project awhile back for some commercial construction. We only got one piece of the bid, which was to install the doors and do interior trim. In the specifications, all the door jambs were called out to be fireproof, which means that you need to install them as the walls are constructed, and pour fireproof grout into the hollow steel framing for the doors. The project manager, a bright young thing just out of college…? Well, he did not get the door jambs onto the job site until well after the walls were up, and we were asked to install them either by filling them in situ via some very laborious grout pumping that would have cost us a mint in labor, or to fill them with grout outside the building and then install, which would have been just as expensive in labor, not to mention obviating the intent of filling all the voids between framing and door jamb. We saw what they’d done, and basically said “Nope. Conditions for installation not as specified in the documents referenced, so… No.”.

            Considering that the idiot expected us to pull his onions out of the fire by doing three or four times the work for the same money, we felt justified in letting the job go. To do it right, at that point in the project, with the materials provided? Easily three times what we bid on the work, in the first place. So… Inexperienced academy-trained project manager=Much higher costs. Bad part was, the site superintendent was a guy who was supposed to be providing oversight, but who wasn’t given the power to do any of that, and due to the whole set of issues this young guy brought on board, he’d decided it was time to retire.

            Oh, and by the way…? I went to that theater, and noted that the jambs were installed hollow, which vastly reduces the fireproofing effect. I don’t know if they got a change approved for that or not, and I really don’t care.

            But, that’s what happens when you allow the academy to teach nothing but theory and “the book” to your practitioners who are then set loose to run the world. Nine times out of ten, they don’t even know what they don’t know, like “grouted door jambs must be installed during wall construction”, until it’s too damn late.

            You run into this going the other direction, too, but a lot of that’s due to the engineer or architect not making it clear what the hell he’s trying to do in the plans. If you go look at a lot of contractor-caused disasters, when it wasn’t a case of the contractor cheaping out to make a buck, it’s usually because the designer has obscured what the hell he or she was doing in the plans, and the contractor has had to figure out some means of making what’s drawn happen in the real world, and then unintentionally causes massive problems with how he implements the design.

            This really gets bad with a number of the female architects and engineers, some of whom treat any attempt to get clarification or modification to the design as an attack on them as “women in industry” rather than an issue of their design being flawed on its merits alone. It’s one reason a lot of contractors won’t work with some independent female architects or engineers unless they already know them–They’ve so thoroughly contaminated things that every single query gets treated as an attack, rather than a learning experience. It’s not all of them, but there are enough whose exposure to “women’s studies” has warped their minds and conduct that I think a lot of women in the industry are suffering from the association.

            1. Well, once-upon-a-time a credential meant something. A while back Kim Du Toit mentioned interviewing for a very nice job. When he mentioned where he’d graduated from they decided he didn’t need to fill out any application forms, he was hired.

              Nowadays… there are far more schools where I’d be more likely to drop one of their alumnus’ applications in the trash after seeing the school’s name than considering further interviewing.

              1. But if you allowed it to mean something, it would mean that the people with it were better off. One might even think they were more skilled!

            2. Lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on mine.

              Have to use that on the pm staff that schedule 12 week’s work into three and the shops that fail to read the tolerance and just ask to be within 10x the drawing tolerance or to use substandard material/processes (forging…casting…same thing…headdesk) because getting the proper stuff is hard.

              I am glad all of our design group at least has gotten hands on with the product enough to make fewer stupids.

      2. Pressed on the issue, the two of them said, and I quote: “That’s up to the contractor to figure out… “.

        Ah, the old “engineered on site” notation on the drawings. Lovely.

        Was the floor a concrete slab? If not, floor vents would be an option.

        1. No, what they’d done was extend the cathedral ceilinged living room out into a bump-out on the foundation by about ten feet, and then placed the mechanical room into the basement beneath that. No room for any chases, without going up a window wall, or coming back with a bunch of soffit ceiling in the finished basement that would have meant effectively doubling the length of the trunk lines for return air and so forth. Suggestions to put the mechanical room somewhere else were met with “But that will interfere…”.

          Swear to God, I think some of these people think that the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical gets done by magic, or something. The number of houses I’ve seen since retiring from the Army where they had made truly effective allowances for running all that stuff with some kind of coherent, integrated-into-the-plan-from-the-beginning overall concept…? Vanishingly small, and usually only from designers who’d started out as actual, y’know, builders.

          I tell people some of the things I’ve seen these guys do, and they look at me like “No way… That’s nuts…”. But, that’s what a lot of these folks do, and it’s maddening to try to build. If anyone here is ever reading this, I would strongly suggest going over any plans you get done up with the actual tradesmen who will be executing the damn things, and find out where and what is in those plans that’s going to cost you a butt-load of extra money. I’ve seen house plans whose piss-poor integration with these issues has caused the build cost to go up hundreds of thousands of dollars. Just little things, like where the hell they put the power in and where the panels go can double the effective length of the wiring due to having to run everything out to the far point of the garage, or because they put the mechanicals into a spot that can only be reached by byzantine ducting, they double the cost of the HVAC installation–And, to boot, sometimes render the basic design so prone to problems that it’s twice as expensive to operate and maintain.

          And, all of this goes back to the “school-trained” architects and engineers being completely unfamiliar with what actually goes into construction. We dragged one guy out to the house site, and asked him how he envisioned running the duct work through the rat’s nest of supports he’d put in there, and he started out all confident and cocky: “Oh, just run it through there…”. Out on the ground? LOL… He’d forgotten the size of the trunks that had to go through that space, as well as the rules about how many 90 degree turns you can put in. The HVAC installation guys gave him some schooling he’d obviously missed, along the way, and he left a far humbler man than he came in. I have to admit he did man up and tell the client it was his oversight, and they finally signed off on the changes necessary to run everything.

          I was pretty dubious about the benefit of possessing academic credentials already, but some of what I’ve seen since leaving the service just leaves me totally convinced that we’ve been going down the wrong path since about the end of WWII, and drastically need a change in course. I think apprenticeships in the supporting trades and then some academic-style theoretical instruction would produce far better practitioners in some of the professions–One of the best military doctors I ever worked around was a guy who’d gone enlisted medic, Special Forces medic, Physicians Assistant, and then gotten his MD. Took him about ten years longer, but… Man, was that one hell of a military doctor. Took a long time to produce him, but… Wow. What a difference from the usual run of guys we just slapped rank on and put in uniforms. When he was one of the Brigade Surgeons we provided support for, the incredible difference in how that brigade’s medical section functioned was highly noticeable–He was always out running tutorials for the medics, doing training, showing them how to do things, and just generally being the model Brigade Surgeon that everyone should aspire to be. Generally, you never see those guys–They have the assignment, on paper, but they somehow manage to always be too busy over at the hospital to actually come over and do anything besides sign paperwork. This guy? It was amazing–All my medics wanted to jump ship and go over to work for him.

          1. After college, I learned as a metallurgical lab tech that a good machinist could undo some of the minor messes I got myself into, which were mostly needing to get a sample out of a piece of bakelite or thermoset plastic so I could look at the other side. Probably the worse time I messed up my job (so the time I bounced a piece of pipe off the tool holder in the chip pan of the lathe* doesn’t count because that wasn’t my job) was the time I was so determined to extract a sample using the cut-off saw (a rotating saw with grinding disc for a blade) that I cut through the area that we needed to look at. Chagrined is I. Weird; I had thought of that incident just the other day for no reason. The engineer was perturbed, justifiably.

            Years later, when I got to work on a minor bit of design (a small melter) as a research assistant, I learned not to insult a machinist with tolerances in hundreds of an inch—that’s carpentry; machinists deal in thousands. And molybdenum is hard to work with so it’s a good idea to practice on a piece of aluminum; that was also the machinist. Come to think of it, the welders who fabricated the stand for that melter had to bail me out because I was off by the thickness of a piece or two of angle iron in the hole I allowed for the melter. They flipped the angle iron over and made it fit; it probably was better that way. The mount would then rest on top of the angle iron instead of inside the angle iron.

            *Yes, I could have been killed, I suppose. I had started the lathe with the pipe properly seated, then stopped and loosened it because it wasn’t trued up. I forgot to tighten the chucks back on the pipe the second time. Yes, there were self-centering chucks, but not in the size I had to use.
            And I liked to use the cut off saw because I could start with 240 grit sanding paper instead of 180 if I had to use the band saw.

            1. I worked as a draftsman for a while, mostly doing mechanical drawings. The engineers would pass me drawings made on napkins or envelopes, or simply tell me to go measure an existing item and draw it.

              I used “best practices”, looking up tolerances and fits in Machinery’s Handbook, etc.

              Years later, working in a machine shop, I sincerely hoped none of those people who had to use those drawings ever found me.

              That was when I learned there was a big gap between “by the book” and “useful.”

              1. Heh…handbook is better than the guesswork you see. Had a stress guy telling us (design) that we absolutely needed sub mil tolerance on a part dozens of feet long. Eventually he figured out that wasn’t possible.

                The trick with tolerance isn’t really knowing what is typical but what is needed. You can get away with tight in necessary cases. But EoR has to be able to defend them.

          2. One of the docs we had when I worked in NH was that way. Ex paramedic and he not only was straight forward with us on the street but he didn’t shy away from pushing the boundaries. He actually on sites one of our calls because he saw it as he drove by. My first department actually trained the current EMS medical director at it’s local level 1 center. Worked with him a few times on the truck back then.

            As for apprenticeship, isn’t that the whole excuse of the PE system? You mean that another level of credentials doesn’t fix it? (Full disclosure, I don’t work a sole proprietorship or consult so PE in aerospace is usually more than necessary)

            1. A thing to remember is that many (most?) engineers, despite their engineering degree, don’t get certified as a Professional Engineer. Some fields of engineering, like civil, being a PE is extremely common if not required. Computer engineering, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, etc. not so much.

              1. Oh I’m fully aware. I’m one of the ones that does not need. But usually if someone is signing/stamping drawings for external orgs I was under impression that was probably PE. Just noting that the example was civil engineering as I read it.

          3. No room for any chases, without going up a window wall, or coming back with a bunch of soffit ceiling in the finished basement that would have meant effectively doubling the length of the trunk lines for return air and so forth.


            However that has given me an idea to run HVAC for a design I’m working on, so thank you greatly for bringing it up ^_^.

      3. I was at a fair once that had an architect at a booth. Her sales pitch? “I find the mistakes before you build.” She’d apparently either been trained properly or had done extensive work with on-site types, so she’d figure out where the blueprints had issues and fix them before the build.

        I was amused, because right after college I was in a house where you couldn’t open the front door all the way because of the stairs. And by “all the way,” I mean 90º. It was about 75º at best. (And that was not the only issue with that space.) So I have lived in poor design choices…

          1. If that had been the only issue, and it was a house I’d owned, I would’ve looked into moving the door or creating an entryway. But it was a post-college rental that had obviously been built by a 20-something bachelor in the early 20th-century, and it was not a good house to begin with.

    3. I messed around with temp office work for a while – and came to realize that no, it didn’t really matter what specific admin, record-keeping, word-processing programs you were all current with – everything was changing so fast, that what really mattered was “How fast can you get up to speed on the latest iteration?!”

      1. I’d like to see someone develop a real, effective test for “adaptability”. There’s something there that is more likely to actually get at the real sort of “intelligence testing” than most of us would like to admit. Or, at least, an aspect of “practical intelligence”…

        I used to work with a field grade officer who was, I’m certain, a bona-fide genius across a number of fields. However, comma, one each, huge… The man was incapable of adapting to anything new, once he had found a solution to something. He was still using the same HP calculator he’d purchased when he’d gotten his PE, and that thing was whatever it was that came before the HP-41, which he described as “overly complex”. You don’t want to know what he muttered when I brought in my HP-48.

        I watched this effect in real time, on numerous occasions, because the era when I worked with him was the dawn of the Windows 3.1 period in the Army’s IT uptake. Networks weren’t quite a thing, except for file transfers, and the internet was an as-yet unknown quantity. The Lieutenant Colonel I’m thinking of had been an “early adopter” of computers in general, and had even written a number of papers that I think would still be relevant today, discussing the potential for their use. I mean, the guy was smart as hell with the things, but he was still stuck in the CP/M Wordstar paradigm he’d taught himself back at the dawn of the computer era. Seriously–MS-DOS and Wordperfect? Trying to get him to adapt to that was a nightmare. I was the “acting IT guy” for the section, being the most computer-literate NCO, and I earned every dime of my non-existent extra pay for the job.

        Lord, how many times did I have to go help LTC X try to get his files looking right. What happened with some of the shared working files, like the operations order annexes, doesn’t even bear thinking about. When they transitioned us all to Windows 3.1 and what became the Office suite, I had to keep one copy of Wordperfect around and operable at all times, because without that much-missed “Reveal Codes” feature, we’d have been screwed, blued, and tattooed. My nightmare in this regard only expanded once we got the Major from the Alaska command in the office, because he was just as straightjacketed into the Apple MacIntosh OS and application suites as LTC X was into CP/M. The two of them were poster-children for “slow to adapt to changes”.

        Seriously–Both those guys were friggin’ certified geniuses, one was selected to teach at West Point, and both of them were so thoroughly locked into their initial “thing” with regards to computers that it was nuts. I’ll grant you that they could both make their respective products sit up and dance, but… Lord have mercy, when it came to trying to merge work products in that office…? Couple of times, I just wound up saying “Screw this…” and just retyped the whole annex myself on a night shift.

        I still rail at Microsoft’s benighted paradigm for word processing. Wordperfect may have had its issues, but “Reveal Codes” was a piece of genius. I’ve read chapter and verse about how “well designed” Word is, but I’m still of the opinion that it’s a total kludge that should have never, ever become the standard.

        1. Back in the days of WP5.2 (I think) for DOS, one fellow I knew expounded on how great it was. He was surprised when asked/told, “It’s the first and only word processor you’ve used, isn’t it?” What I recall (and loathed) about WP was the screwy menu keying setup. It seemed it always took extra keypresses of weird combinations to get even simple things (save a file, for example) done. Compared to that, Word shined. But then so did AppleWriter //e.

          And I find it a bit amusing that the text editor $HOUSEMATE (and I) use gets set to a particular standard from back when. Yep, WordStar keybindings.

        2. My HP-41C is in a box somewhere – last time I dragged it out I couldn’t find a new rechargeable battery for it, and it seems I lost the AA multipack battery holder that was included in the box.
          [Hmm, maybe I should look for a NOS one of those…]

          1. there are a couple, and three are also reproducitons, as well as the ability to rebuild the rechargable battery.

      2. “Sorry, we can’t even look at your resume if you don’t have at least three years’ experience with Microsoft Office 2017…”

        1. Yeah… And you can’t even tell them “it hasn’t been out that long” because HR is nearly impervious to logic…

          1. If it gets to the point you are actually talking to someone in HR, just tell them you have it. “Oh, sure, three years antigravity design experience – yep, no problem!” Anything to get to talk to an actual hiring manager.
            It isn’t like HR could ever figure something like that out. Something you never hear in the the HR cubes: “Hey, I just thought of something!”

        2. I still remember the advertisement for three years experience with Visual Basic 5.0.

          Two months after VB 5.0 had been released.

  14. Let’s see. Growing up I wanted to be Indiana Jones. I do have the hat and the jacket, but the tenured position? Oops. Then I wanted to be a Navy officer (intel/languages) but Life Happened in such a way that I got the hint it wasn’t what the Great Author had planned. Working as an interpreter for a news agency disappeared. So I flew planes for a living. Then I was going to be a college professor, because all you have to do is get a [advanced degree] and jobs walk up and ambush you. *waits until gales of guffaws fade into snorts and giggles*

    So I write books, write academic articles, and teach. *scratches head* So goes it.

      1. I abhor the girls Indiana Jones got. Too much screaming. I prefer girls like the Lady Sif from Thor. Independent, strong-willed, able to take care of herself. But then she’s an Asgardian, not standard human. Ororo Monroe, Katherine Pryde, Raven Darkholme from X-Men? Mutants, not standard human. One of my old Tae Kwon Do instructors on the other hand; fully human, 5 foot and a couple inches, blond, skinny whipcord and rattlesnake fast. Knew what she wanted, not afraid of anything, could probably have taken out 80% of the Marine Corps as long as they didn’t get a grip on her. (The top 20% of the Marines would take anything she could dish out and that would be too bad for her; but that’s reality.)

          1. Oh, she does do a bit of screaming, but Mr. Houst is confusing her with Willie Scott and Elsa Schneider.
            Heresy time: Marion Ravenwood is a good portion of the reason Crystal Skull is better than Temple of Doom

    1. Some boys wanted to be He-Man.
      Some girls wanted to be She-ra.
      And I wanted to be… her horse.
      Yeah, I know, I ain’t exactly normal.

      Now, I’m alright with being myself.
      It’s those who say they wish to change me “for my own good” that are Truly Scary. After they change themselves “for their own good”, then we we can talk. Nothing more, just talk. Until then? Their ideas are that which I flush: Beeeeee-Esssssss.

      1. I’m human. I would have to be mentally ill to think any amount of surgery, and genetic and hormone therapy could change me into a minotaur. Life really isn’t the Island of Doctor Moreau, no matter how much we try to make it that way. Of course if you start at the single cell/genetic level, that’s getting to be a different story.

        1. Species.. fluidity… doesn’t bother me.
          Any sort of -supremacy? Now that there is a problem.

          Humans having dominion over “the earth”? Fine. Have it.
          And good luck, you poor bastards. }:o)

  15. I already had the jacket, and my wife gave me the hat as an anniversary present, but never, so far, has she presented me the whip. I am…desolate.

      1. Step ONE (or ZERO!!) of practicing with a whip:
        Acquire armor.

        Yes, really.
        You WILL hit someone as you practice.
        That someone WILL be yourself.

        No, not direct experience. But when Every. Last. Person. who performs with whips says the same thing? Believe them.

        1. Actually, armor is a bit much. Eye protection is essential but most of your injuries will be to the neck, shoulder, ear, and side of the head on the side of your dominant hand.

          So eye protection and a leather jacket or similar seem reasonable.

            1. Never had a problem. Got really good with my Dad’s 12 foot bullwhip. (Sorry Orvan, you have to make them out of SOMETHING.) I could take down half inch branches on trees, and I could hit a tossed ping pong ball.

              1. It’s either “made of” or “to control”…
                While “made of” has ,, issues…
                “to control”.. depends significantly upon who, exactly, is controlling. Some wouldn’t really need the whip…. but those folk are more likely to have a name like “Michelle” rather than “Mike.” Of course, mileage varies….

                1. Actually, now I’m surprised I didn’t think of you Saturday morning *evil grin*, especially with the She-Ra horse comment.

                  Still, two Saturdays, two Sundays, and a retreat weekend and I’m done. That’ll be good.

                    1. Which part?

                      Paragraph one: ponies (Google is your friend if you want to know more).

                      Paragraph two: mistakenly signed up for something and when I tried to quit it was made clear the emotional energy to justify myself enough to be left alone was less than showing up the last three weekends and disassociating.

                2. I’m not much of a control freak. More of a, “Leave me the heck alone, and if I need you, I’ll holler, or come get you; if you’re willing to help then.”

  16. I thought your Subversive Way to Homeschool article was terrific, Sarah.

    I have done something similar with my nephew and niece, who I see everyday after school for a few hours until their mother picks them up. Your anecdotes made me laugh, wish I had thought of a few of them myself.

    I hated public school, I am deeply skeptical about system now, is book learnin in airless rooms for hours day a proper way to educate children?

    And I also enjoyed teaching them that their teachers are pillocks who can be mostly ignored. My favourite incident was when ten year old nephew knew his english history and pointed out Boudicca, Mary 1, Elizabeth 1 and a few other queens when his feminist teacher was on a rant, teacher got really shouty and had a meltdown, she had to leave classroom for fifteen minutes.

    1. “Why do you carry cadmium? Isn’t that insanely toxic?”
      “Yes, it it, but.. it’s GREAT at absorbing neutrons.”
      “Ever seen a runaway reaction, with meltdown potential?”
      “Oh, hyou must be new here.”

      1. One of my professors gave me chunk of cadmium; you can see the steps it makes like a terrace (which means it has what kind of crystal structure, he asked me). I still have most of it; some of it broke off and went into a crack in the raised floor.

  17. Although I previously knew that there is no such thing as “instant fame and fortune,” I do say thanks every day for places like this (and even more for MGC) that hammer home the fact that writing is no different. Even success in a criminal career apparently requires a long apprenticeship these days.

    I know very well why my short stories are not a success (in general, I do wish that someone would actually take them apart and shred the pieces for me…). I have mild hopes for the next few (better concepts to start), and reasonably decent hopes for the series WIP. But it is going to take time and some painful bumps along the way.

    I would note that, as I understand their stories, even MHI and The Martian did not fly from the word processor into instant stardom – not that mine are that quality to start with.

    (OT, somewhat, but a Thank You! to The Resident Wallaby. Good to know that someone is keeping an eye out for the secret writings.)

    1. “instant fame and fortune,”

      Just add water!

      it might have to be DRY water.
      You get it from melting dry ice….

      (Good thing I’m not evil….)

      1. Pass. We’re in the humid season right now, so my water would not be all that dry. Actually, it would put me into even more of a fog than I am now.

        Hmm. Vermouth, maybe… Although gin is reputedly better for fame, if not fortune.

    2. Who makes the most profit from crime?

      Probably the lawyers, though policing is a solid union profession…

      Crime is a huge industry – police, security guards and equipment, lawyers, the court system, the prison systems, parole boards, and the other related professions, all adding up to a sizeable chunk of the GNP.

      So, when little Tyrone puts down his Nintendo and goes out to hold up a convenience store, he’s supporting the economic system and providing good-paying jobs for other American citizens. Way more than some temporarily-inconvenienced store clerk, anyway…

      1. I suspect this is one reason why drug de-criminalization, if not being a non-starter, is taking so dang long. Too many vested interests needing to maintain the statist-quo.

          1. Even granting that the terms ‘voters’ and ‘think’ belong in the same sentence, I suspect that the reason this is so is that they have been convinced that de-criminalization is a bad idea *by* those with a vested interest in the statist-quo.

            1. I think it’s a stupid idea and I don’t think I’m the only person around.

              In any case, its not something that most people will get excited about in order to push it forward.

              1. Perhaps I phrased that poorly. Maybe I should have said ‘A majority of voters’. And I generally exclude the denizens here from the ‘LIV’ ranks, but then we seem to be a minority in any case. 🙂 And of course I presume your reasons for your opinions are your own, however you arrived at them and even if they differ from mine.

                And I aver that simply de-criminalizing drugs alone would be a bad step in that, as things are now, ‘we’ would become responsible for picking up the pieces after those who make bad choices in their behavior (as if that were not the case now) since it is possible that there would be a spike in the use of formerly-illicit substances, at least until the euphoria wore off.

                And true, most people aren’t concerned with real liberty, at least in part because it is scary. Sadly, I think one of the reasons the Libertarians missed the mark in the recent national election is that the top of the ticket came off as a bit of a one-note wonder in pushing this very subject.

                1. That last part is entirely true. Johnson demonstrated very quickly that he was only interested in appealing to the “Don’t care about anything else but sex and weed” crowd.

                2. We’ve already been through national drug de-criminalization once. A Constitutional amendment to enact it, and another to repeal it.

                  Alcohol is a drug, despite the social tapdance to avoid admitting it.

                  Enough people were persauded that it should be banned that they managed to pass, not just a law, but the Eighteenth Amendment to outlaw it. But simply outlawing it wasn’t enough, and eventually the cost of trying to enforce the law exceeded the social benefit of having it in the first place.

                  Now, collecting taxes on it, the Fed was able to do…

                  1. Yup, this. At least with alcohol prohibition the b*stards were honest enough to realize they needed a Constitutional amendment to give themselves the power. With the other stuff, they decided to go ahead and Nike*. And they’ve gotten away with it for four decades.

                    * Just Do It.

  18. Oh.. crud. The Universe is… making sense.
    That means I have been awake FAR too long.
    Or have drunk FAR too much.,
    Either way, time to lie down for several hours.

    Don’t end the world without me.
    What? Considering some of the bozos[1] in the world, I DO want a hoof in its ending, should that be brought about.

    [1] I show up and some alleged co-workers do not. I am mythical… and they appear more rarely than I do. Either they are even more mythical (the Hell they are! They’d be MUCH more fun if they were) or… bozos. And not that clown fellow who really knew his job. The BAD kind of bozos. You’ve encountered them. If you have not… find a mirror.. and look at the bozo.

  19. I’m rather hoping that the next LibertyCon I go to (or any con, for that matter), I’ll be able to grab an Author ribbon. 😉

    1. Concur…we’ll happily take a once a week blog post on a 2000+ comment ride on eventy dimensions worth of tangents 🙂

  20. Joel Rosenberg is in trouble with the Minneapolis police for filing FOIA and obeying the law in a smart-alec manner. See “Popehat.”

  21. Totally unrelated …

    ‘DuckTales’ is back. Yes, ‘DuckTales.’ Woo-oo.
    Disney’s most famous duck family is preparing for a highly anticipated comeback.

    The animated series “DuckTales” ran from 1987 to 1990, starring Scrooge McDuck and his young triplet nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie; Mrs. Beakley and her granddaughter Webby Vanderquack; and flight plan-challenged pilot Launchpad McQuack. It now returns in an all new animated series debuting Aug. 12 on Disney XD.


    “The challenge is to recreate the feeling you had as a child when you watched it but to do it using modern storytelling techniques,” Youngberg tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “Kids today have all of their entertainment at their fingertips, so they subconsciously expect more from storytelling than we did.”

    In the new animated adventures, Donald Duck (no stranger to duck fame himself) takes his nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie to meet their extremely wealthy great-uncle, Scrooge McDuck. Uncle Scrooge has been retired from his famous globe-trotting tales for a long time, so the triplets aren’t really sure he lives up to the hype and don’t even know they’re related to him, which leads to the first of many adventures.


    The series includes a talented cast of voice actors: former Dr. Who David Tennant as Uncle Scrooge, Danny Pudi of “Community” as Huey, Ben Schwartz of “Parks and Recreation” as Dewey, SNL’s Bobby Moynihan as Louie, Kate Micucci of Garfunkel and Oates as Webby and “Hamilton” star Lin-Manuel Miranda as Fenton Crackshell-Cabrera/Gizmoduck, a mechanical armored hero.

    Angones says the heart of the new “DuckTales” will be Huey, Dewey, Louie and Webby.

    “We wanted to make Huey, Dewey, and Louie’s personalities more distinct to give us more opportunities for character relationships,” he says. “We have based their personalities off of their birth order: As the oldest by three seconds, Huey is the responsible, type-A. Dewey is the classic middle child, throwing himself into danger because he’s eager to find some way to stand out in this big family. And sly youngest child Louie enjoys living under the radar because it allows him to get away with anything.”

    They’ve given more prominence to Webby, previously a “tag along character,” he says. “She’s now a capable adventurer in her own right and a longtime Scrooge McDuck fan girl. The boys were born into the family legacy of adventure; Webby earned her place into it.”


    At the article are a video of the theme song for the new show and several page tale of the comic book issued accompanying the series.

    1. So, which of the nephews is going to be a transduck neice and who is going to be gay? After hearing about Snagglepuss I can’t imagine they won’t add au currant sexual bs.

      1. At the park where I walk in the morning there is a widowed one footed goose who apparently self identifies as a duck. When the flock of geese were moved on (this city may be a bird sanctuary, but geese are an invasive species) he remained behind and has been accepted into the duck community.

    2. One afternoon, after working over thirty-six hours straight on an ice storm, i made it home, had a bite to eat, and flipped on the TV for mindless entertainment. They had a syndicated kid’s program on. Took a thirty second look at it and went to bed.

      It was Ducktails. The year was 1987. And suddenly I feel old.

        1. I AM old, but I’ve never seen either of those shows. Now, Martin Landau just died, and I remember seeing him in Mission Impossible’s first season…

        2. Sigh. I remember the trauma from when Saturday morning was the domain of Sid & Marty Krofft (H.R. Pufnstuf ) and of The Banana Splits! I can recall watching Shari Lewis, Jimmy Nelson with Danny O’day & Farfel! Heck, I even have memories (well, nightmares) of Kukla Fran & Ollie!

          I’m so old I not only recall Sky King and his ward, Penny, I recall unexpurgated showings of classic Kok the Clown and Betty Boop cartoons as well as seeing John Henry and the inky Poo on broadcast television. We shan’t even discuss the politically very incorrect Heckle and Jeckle.

          1. There was something called Super President. Another was Cool McCool. Remember those as brand spanking new shows.

            Remember those old, politically correct cartoons. That’s what the local affiliates used as filler. That, and old movies and US Army training films.

            BTW, here was once the World of Sid and Marty Krofft in Atlanta, and it was exactly what it sounds like. It folded rather quickly, and the property eventually converted to business use. It’s the CNN headquarters. That probably explains a lot.

      1. Those idiots at Yahoo Mail have messed things up so I can’t down load my emails to the desk-top. 😦

  22. While I am baffled by the writers who want “validation” through trad pub, I would jump at (And vet through an IP lawyer) a contract from one of the Big Five, or better yet, Baen, for a chance to get into bookstores and hopefully build up a bit of name recognition.

  23. I understand “trad pub” doesn’t do as much of the work as people often think, but I’m pretty limited in the work I can do and the schedules I can keep for health reasons. If it’s going to happen at all, I have to get others (pay others) to do as much as possible, especially if I’m going to have anything left for writing.

    Imperfect world and all that.

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