Storied Out

No, this doesn’t mean I’m giving up writing, or even taking a real break, because honestly, I’m honing in on the fine detail of destroying the old town of Cologne in Guardian (it’s Carnival (Fasching).  Julie ends up driving a float.  With intent and malice. Long story and besides none of this is approved and Larry could change it all.  But it’s fun.) and I want to do more of it.  But I woke up this morning and my body went “Why are we vertical?”  And even the prospect of going out with Dan for breakfast is not enticing me, so maybe I’ll rest a little before writing.

But the story thing…

We live in the most story-soaked society in history, ever.  This is like saying we live in the best fed society in history, of course.  Humans like food and stories, and to be healthy, and we live in the best society, so far, for all of these.  So, it’s not like I’m complaining.

It’s just that there is a small problem with it.  You see, a story world is not a real world.  It can’t be.  Stories are little compacted chunks of meaning and emotion.  Really life is long stretches of boredom interspersed with moments of either elation or terror.  The boredom is part of why we like story — in book, movie, tv, or game, narration, doesn’t matter — so much.  That and because stories make sense.

But the problem is that we have near to no ability to distinguish lived experiences from “vividly experienced events” which can be fictional.  Psychologists and psychiatrists have actually done tests that demonstrate that a lot of our remembered experiences are things we read or watched.  They won’t be the IMPORTANT experiences, but for instance almost everyone remembers being separated from their parents and lost in a mall, even though it never happened TO THEM.  (I on the other hand remember being separated from my parents and lost in a cemetery during all saints night.  But since my parents remember it too and were a bit freaked out by my almost walking out hand in hand with a woman who’d recently lost her daughter, this is probably true.  Oh, a chick who looked freakishly like mom, too.)

So what is the problem with this?

The problem is that we’re all surrounded by stories, saturated with them, dripping with them.

And that until very recently the publishing/entertainment in general establishment was firmly in leftist hands.  This means a deliberate narrative was being pushed.  Still is, but don’t worry about that.  They’ve gone so fargin incompetent and crawled so far up their behinds that their influence is a vanishing thing.  Now they’re just annoying the public.

But in the early 20th century, they weren’t that far.  How much of the de-Christianization of Europe was accomplished by having heroic atheists being persecuted?  How much by making religious people the villain in mysteries and thrillers?  People absorb that and after a while religious equals nutter, never mind the history of Europe.

I was thinking of this because, since I’m not feeling particularly well, I’ve fallen back on my default “popcorn reading” which is mysteries, from thrillers to cozies.  I’m one of those people for whom KUL is a deal because over the last two weeks I’ve read something like 25 books, not counting the ones I started and discarded.  (But fear not, that is ADDITIONAL money I’m paying for reading.  Without the Kindle Unlimited Lending I wouldn’t be reading those books, I’d just re-read books I bought.  I spent years doing that because, you know, I can’t afford my own reading habit.  Now KULL throws additional money at some authors I’d otherwise not try.  And if they impress me madly (had happened, though not often, because I’m looking for popcorn books, after all, I either write about them OR buy them anyway.)

In the last twenty five books, the criminals have been: professors, police officers, priests, archeologists, millionaires and, the latest one, a MONK.

Look, it’s not that all those people can’t be criminals.  Holy hell, anyone can be a murderer.  I think of murdering people at least once a day (it passes.  I boil in very little water, but it cools fast.)  Usually stupid drivers or annoying bureaucrats.

But ask any police officer.  The average criminal is not a person in a position of power or authority.  The likely suspects are the junkies, the homeless, the career gangster.

Of course you know that.  We all know that RATIONALLY, i.e. if we pause to think about it.

And of course, with very few exceptions, there is no fun in writing about the expected suspects, or reading about it.

But sometimes it seems to me we go too far the other way.  Partly, of course, because our idea of story for the last 100 years has been formed by the left, who, of course, have a nostalgie de la boue to end all nostalgies de la boue.  Or if you prefer, they’re like to dogs who really love to roll in something rotten and bring it all home to share with us.

After all, big governments exist to protect victims and the despised and who is more of a despised victim than the criminal who deserves to be despised.  Show your enlightenment today by glorifying him!

Which is part of the issue.  I don’t even have a problem, so much, with unlikely criminals, as I do with the other elements in the book.  They’re all UNEXPECTED.  The ex-cons are saintly, the ex-junkies are the only ones who “get it”, the crazy environmentalists are the unsung heroes.  And anyone in a position of respectable responsibility and work is a SUSPECT and a white washed sepulchre… which doesn’t accord with the real world in any way because, well, because the very virtues necessary to hold down a job or keep things from collapsing around you are the same that keep you from being a petty, self-obsessed villain most of the time.  Of course there are exceptions.  Look at most of Hillary’s staffers.  But even they are probably too with-it to be committing crazy crimes like the ones that a street-person would commit.  Most of the time.

The problem is that stories — well told stories — get under our skin and change the way we act.  And in this case change it in dangerous ways.

Most of us would prefer our kids were friends with the A student than with the (allegedly-)ex-junky who is barely making it in school, right?  But we’ve read enough books and feel guilty enough for that idea that we’re probably not going to tell the kid anything.  Which could lead to real, immediate, personal fall out.

In other ways, it implants an immense distrust of all authority figures.  I’m a libertarian, okay?  My answer to authority figures is “Am I being detained?” and “Did you bring your army?”

But this goes beyond that.  This is the crazy assumption that if you look and act clean, if you work like crazy, if you have a decent family, you MUST be dirty.  You must be.

You hear this in the wild-eyed accusations the left bandies at anyone who opposes them.  If the person looks clean and “normal” they must be racist, sexist, homophobic, tools of the patriarchy and who knows what else.  Because that’s what story has told these misguided children from birth, and they’ve never stopped and examined it.

This is also part of the reason the left is SO dirty when it gets in power.  They KNOW everyone is doing it, and there’s no such thing as “clean”.  This is also why old fashioned virtues like thrift, hard work and chastity are LAUGHED at.  Because people have seen those facades torn down over and over again, and KNOW those are just fronts, and don’t exist.

So what do I suggest?  Do I suggest we only write to enforce reality?  To enforce society?
Hell no.  Part of why I write is to make you question things (the other is because I have to) so no.

But ask yourself, is this surprise ending even a surprise?  Does the minor character need to play to the counter stereotype that has become a stereotype itself?  Am I writing a book in which no one is clean and humans have no redeeming qualities?  What am I putting out in the world?

There are books that don’t do that, of course.  Take MHI’s Holly.  We know she’s an unlikely/not typical ex-stripper, but we also get a strong feeling there’s something really dark lurking there.  Larry certainly didn’t make her a hidden saint.

So, if you have to play to the counter stereotype, make sure you still nod to the stereotype.  This can be as simple as saying “Most homeless were drug-addled or mentally ill, but–” and then give a reason your guy is different.  Which is known, btw, as good writing.

Of course this requires examining the stereotypes in our own heads.

The thing is, just like an excess of food, we’re not evolutionary designed to survive an excess of story telling, much less an excess of story telling that undermines and destroys what makes our culture work.

I’m not one of those people who tells you what you should write, and what you shouldn’t.  I’m just going to enjoin you not to be lazy and not to rely on the (mostly left) stereotypes created in story telling over the last 100 years.

Your moment of thought will prevent me walling the book when it becomes clear “no one is clean” but more than that, it might help people get a clearer idea of what the world is.

And prevent their destroying the Western society that can help them survive.



343 thoughts on “Storied Out

  1. I live in a four-story building. My F-I-L lives in a twenty-five (IIRC) story building. I agree that we have an overabundance of stories.

    1. But neither of live in the infamous Krelvin building, I presume.
      (From ‘The Kids From C.A.P.E.R.” …. “The Krelvin building… the tallest building in the world… without an elevator.”)

      1. It must have been designed by whoever did my student apartment in Germany. There was an elevator. I have no idea if it worked because no one ever used it. I lived on the 8th (US) floor. My legs were in great shape by the end of the semester.

        1. Many years ago, I worked on the 8th floor. Probably the only thing that kept me from developing “programmer’s spread” was taking the stairs at least two or three times a day.

        2. The last Austro-Hungarian emperor would climb four flights of stairs at an advanced age rather than trust the elevator.

        3. He must’ve had a brother in the American South. Eigth floor, three years, no ac, no elevator, in the 100% humidity from June to August. I used to wonder why I couldn’t put on weight back then… *chuckle*

  2. And here we can be the ultimate in counterculture by making solid, thrifty, upright citizens (drumroll, please) – the Good Guys!

    Honestly, the post above is a major reason why I worked to get something good enough to publish. Because I kept picking up urban fantasy on the bookstore shelves, and it was all the same. Supposed hero/ine standing against dark forces but irresistibly drawn to one of the sexy monsters and stomping on their own ethics to Live Another Rotten Day. I couldn’t stand it anymore. So I wrote. And I’m going to keep writing. 🙂

    1. And the sad part is that a flawed hero could easily come out of that type of scenario but we seem to get almost nothing but antiheros. Fall for a werewolf (as an example of a monster that I tend to look at as redeemable/still has soul) and ya, he/she may bring some darkness to you but should be able to not overstep the line. And if they do, redemption story.

        1. Sad part is that it shouldn’t be one. That is the closest approximation to people and at least historically seemed a common part of storytelling.

          But ya. If I can figure out where I mailed my drive it could be.

        2. Not saying you shouldn’t do it, but it has been done:

          Werewolf Cop
          by Andrew Klavan
          From Edgar Award-winning and New York Times bestselling author Andrew Klavan, a supernatural thriller about a good cop in the grips of an evil curse. In the tradition of Dexter and The Shield, the first in a riveting trilogy about a crime-fighter on a quest to control the beast within.

          Zach Adams is one of the best detectives in the country. Nicknamed Cowboy, he’s a soft-spoken homicide detective from Houston known for his integrity and courage under fire. He serves on a federal task force that has a single mission: to hunt down Dominic Abend, a European gangster who has taken over the American underworld.

          After a brutal murder gives them a lead, Zach and his tough guy NYPD partner Martin Goulart feel like they’re finally on Abend’s trail. But things get complicated—and very, very weird.

          [END EXCERPT]

          There is also a 2014 movie on the theme, WolfCop (2014):

          It’s not unusual for alcoholic cop Lou to black out and wake up in unfamiliar surroundings, but lately things have taken a turn for the strange…and hairy. WolfCop is the story of one cop’s quest to become a better man. One transformation at a time.

          Although I suspect the overall quality of the flick can be derived from the fact that the lead character’s name is Lou Garou.

          1. Can’t remember the name of the book, I remember reading an Urban Fantasy/Horror/Police drama where the main character is “infected” with vampirism and works on tracking down the woman that cursed him. Main character is a cop that subsists on animal blood to survive because it’s against his moral code of “To Serve and Protect”. Was a pretty good take on the vampire myth wrapped around a police officer that refused to surrender to the urges.

              1. I seem to recall reading the story BEFORE “Forever Knight” was even produced. More memory coming now, Started in Los Angeles I think and ended up in a small New Mexico town.

                1. It is a kind of obvious set-up– sort of like the vampiric priest contrast.

                  Note: being an obvious starting point is no dig; if the only thing a story has going for it is novelty, it won’t last long.

            1. Sounds like it could be Lee Killough’s Blood Hunt. Has that type of plot if I remember correctly. Although vampire cops are somewhat popular, I’m fairly sure I have read another one somewhat similar at some point, and possibly looked at one or two more when contemplating buying something.

              1. THAT’S IT! Did a search and the first cover matches what I remember. Released in 1987 by Tor. 🙂

            2. There was Blood Hunt by Lee Killough… was that it? And now you have me chasing another book, which was a vampire (who doesn’t even know that’s what he is) of a good Tory household in the Colonies (although he does return to England at one point, right as there’s something riled-up going on in Boston.) I remember leaving the series as his house gets used for quartering by redcoats sent to “protect” the locals from Those Damned Yankee Rebels, but I can’t remember who write it or the titles. (Two letter then last name – the author also had a vampire detective or cop series, which is why I started down this rabbit hole.)

              1. And I’m late to the party, having spent a few hours wading through amazon and goodreads… I love this crowd!

              2. The author is P. N. Elrod and the Vampire Tory books are collected in ebook as Jonathan Barrett – Gentleman Vampire.

          2. Oh I know. Not many stories have not been done one way or another. No different than a certain character in Cazador, AL.

            The cop redeeming himself is a common trope in and of itself.

      1. The St. Paul Saints had a promotion a couple of years ago re the Twilight series where the first 1,000 people through the door got to choose between Vampire or Werewolf T-shirts as a giveaway. I took a Magic Marker to one of my own and scrawled Don’t Care on it to wear to the game.

            1. There’s an image showing some scene from the Twilight movie where someone photoshopped Blade in.

        1. There’s a fun spoof on the “which supernatural hottie should I choose” romance called Team Human.

          The only vampire romance I’ve ever liked is The Silver Kiss. It’s very Romeo and Juliet.

          1. Holy cow, I’d forgotten about The Silver Kiss. Read it in high school as a popcorn pick. (The library had a regular subscription to popcorn books. There was one that I wish I’d kept the name of as a principle example of What Not To Do. False cliffhangers at the end of each chapter, exclamation points everywhere, and let’s not even get started on the plot.)

              1. Thank you for the name and author on that. The only part I really remembered was the cover and the end. It is also, the only vampire romance (and honestly the only romance) I’ve ever really enjoyed and I couldn’t for the life of me remember the name.

    2. This is why a solid, loving family is part of the Shikari series. Because no one expects Mom, Dad, and two kids to live happily and get along (well, most of the time. But Sib started it).

      1. Searches for ulterior motives…

        Must be planning to sacrifice the kids to the old ones to get power.

      2. Sib always started it. This is the amazing part of having several when I was an only: doesn’t matter which miscreant I’m talking to, it’s always Sib who started it!

      3. Well, it does create complications. For one thing, you are always stuck with four characters to work with. You have to differentiate them clearly, and make them all useful, and therefore build up a problem large enough to need them all.

    3. Not to mention the trend over the past 15 to 20 years (or more come to think of it) of making historical monsters into “misunderstood people with odd traits.” Good vampires. Helpful zombies. Repentant ghosts. Heck, even Baum had a good witch. Add Lucifer on weeknight television. I think Sarah is on to something here. I don’t mind questioning our assumptions on what’s good and what’s evil; sometimes the stereotype doesn’t apply. But what the Progressive Left is pushing is the fallacy that all stereotypes are bad and inapplicable, when the reality is that we develop stereotyping as a survival shortcut. After all, what do you call a hiker who stops to consider what the deeper motivations are of that poor misunderstood charging grizzly bear?


      1. Hit the “wall” a month or so ago and wrote the start of a story based on the concept of demons and angels. Whole concept being that the dark forces had been corrupting society with the whole “redemption” theme and they are so far from redemption that it’s not possible. Some evil can’t be redeemed.

        1. Yeah. Purgatorial ghosthood. And some entirely good ones — chiefly the grateful dead man and protective parents.

          Also, there are werewolves that keep their own minds even in medieval literature.

          1. I still love the Celtic folktale where the traveling son pays the last of his money to see a guy given a good burial, then has an odd redheaded guy show up to help him with various tasks to win the princess… and at the last it turns out that’s the ghost of the guy who was buried, paying him back. 🙂

            1. If you like enough to want more, there’s The Grateful Dead Tales From Around the World by Heidi Anne Heiner

            2. Oooh, I can see how that one would polish up, too… you could stretch it out for hours, easy, and adapt the challenges based on who you’re telling the story to….

      2. Not eager to start a debate on the topic, but in some ways the Lucifer of network television (based on Neil Gaiman’s conception of him, derived from James Branch Cabell’s presentation in Jurgen, A Comedy of Justice) the title character owes more to the Old Testament understanding of Scratch as accuser or tester.

        Mind you, Beloved Spouse & I have watched the show since its beginning and still cannot figure out in what theological tradition it is rooted. It doesn’t seem Jewish, nor Christian and we doubt it is Latter Day Saints. There are, of course, many slightly skewed Christian sects but this seems to be making it up as it goes along. But this is definitely not Lucifer, tempt you into destruction, buy your soul and deliver you into Hell.

        1. The Satan in Steven Brust’s To Reign In Hell is a very different one, as well. But, while the character may be different, the book assumes a familiarity with the classic Milton/Paradise Lost Satan, and then plays brilliantly with the concept.

        2. Yep, that poor guy just wants to punish the evildoers, have fun and get Dad’s approval or something (but definitely bad daddy issues). Doesn’t seem to be rooted on anything, really. Pure fantasy version of the devil, and of Christianity in general. Same names, somewhat similar functions, no relation to the originals.

        3. Could it be the Japanese versions?
          (there’s some really fun stuff because of the translation of ‘powerful magical individual’ in their stuff was ‘demon,’ and then it bounced back and forth for a long time so you’ll end up with “demons” and “gods” who are more like the light and dark elves of the Viking related areas than Christian theology)

      3. I rather like those, provided the repentant monster has not done anything really bad before repenting, and repents for real.

        What I detest are the monsters who mostly stay as monsters, and have done horrible things, but get sympathy anyway. Maybe because they won’t eat, maim or kill the hot female lead, and her only (because they prefer to have sex with her) and maybe, in order to please her, won’t kill others for the moment either (unless those people are bad, or just on the way or something) but haven’t really changed their ways except temporarily, and don’t repent what they have done before but are forgiven anyway because they are just so cool.

        1. And then there’s my favorite, Saberhagen’s Dracula, who is considered evil by the standards of a modern age that has lost the ability to recognize what evil is.

          1. I have got to get around to those one of these days! I love some of his other work and even have a weird affection for a dramatic continuity error.

        2. They’re still monsters, but they’re monsters who are under POV Character We’re Inhabiting’s guildance/influence.

          Monsters, but where we can point them at a target.

          …this may lead to a rather creepy bit of pop psychology, especially when contrasted to “kill the evil” or “go forth and sin no more.”

          1. To be honest I’m a bit of a sucker for sympathetic villains and redemption arcs sometimes even when the character has done really bad things — although obviously it does make it harder. Handling it without blaming or dismissing the villain’s victims, though, that’s important.

            Am weirdly fond of an “enemy of my enemy” scenario in which the villain is being lured toward the light by his allies against the bigger bad. Which has some things in common with what you describe, but isn’t meant to be a permanent or merely lust-fueled state of “monster on a leash”.

              1. Definitely that! Though I do suspect I sympathize too readily. On the other hand, that frequently takes the form of “I can see a window for a redemption plot”….

                1. Um… my favorite Star Trek alien is the Cardassians.

                  You know, space fascists with a heavy dose of just-before-WWII Japanese. But…but… they can be saved! Really!

                  We probably love the same stories. 😀

        3. groan

          I think the most baffling review I will ever get (here) complained that I DIDN’T give the dragon sympathy on that grounds.

          And then had the nerve to complain that the hero was helped by a witch. Even granting the “help” interpretation, what, pray tell, is wrong about a witch that’s not wrong about a dragon?

      4. “The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn’t exist”. That said, I do love vampire shows/books, etc, and have lots of them.

        I think the show “Grimm” did a good job of balancing. There are good wesen and bad wesen, but it’s not the kind of wesen you are that makes you bad (main character’s best friend is a big bad wolf. Literally.), it’s the choices you make. And they absolutely did a redemption arc with both the police Captain who is the main character”s boss (multiple such arcs, actually. Drove me bug nuts with the way they kept going back and forth with him.) and one of the other major antagonists. The big bad wolf character was vegan because it helped him contain his urges.

        1. I didn’t like the show, but I was impressed with how well the character put off a “Hi, I’m a total pedophile” vibe– it sold the idea in a way that hit like a gut-punch. (Helped along by the introduction victim.)

        2. A vegan wolf is just wrong on so many levels. If I watched TV shows I believe that that would have been the last thing I ever saw on that show.

          1. They’re scuzzy looking humanoids, human intelligence, mostly look human, and their diet is humans.

            A normal wolf being a vegan would be…yeah, no.

      5. ” Helpful zombies. ”

        I will note that the horror of the original zombie (as opposed to earlier revenants) is not the prospect of meeting one but of becoming. Haiti had to import about every five years enough slaves to entirely replace the slave population. Nothing could be horrific than the thought that even in death you couldn’t escape.

        So, being helpful is not intrinsically original. It could be possible.

      6. And they’re usually moral retards about it (with apologies to the mentally handicapped)

        What if a good man ended up as a bad monster? What if a bad monster were to repent? Good story fodder there.

        1. Or where the so-called monster is not actually the predator/sociopath – “One is a heartless, merciless killer. The other is a vampire.” I’ll admit to enjoying Declan Finn’s 3 book twist on the vampire genre.

        2. Naturally, I have a certain fondness for the good/kind “monster.” Bias? Very well, bias. Now go make a decent amplifier without any bias. Have fun burning things out and cussing.

      1. Apropos of which, whythehell does nobody ever write a PNR with a supernatural heroine falling for a mundane? I would snap that up in a heartbeat.

        Am no good with romance tropes, or I’d think about doing it myself.

        1. I’ve seen a few where they have the gal falling for the “normal” guy– and then he’s actual a monster, too, and more monsterous (and with all the normal person failings the monsters lack) than the monster.

        2. Because the readership is heavily female and therefore they want the female character to be close to human normal.

        3. Well, there are a few, typically on the theme of the Queen of Faerie being taken with a mortal youth, of which Tam Lin s the best known, I think, having been put to tune by Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span:

          oh tell me, tell me, then she said
          oh tell me who art thee.
          my name it is tam lin, he said
          and this is my story.

          as it fell out upon a day
          a-hunting i did ride.
          there came a wind out of the north
          and pulled me betide.

          and drowsy, drowsy as i was
          the sleep upon me fell.
          the queen of fairies she was there
          and took me to herself.

          oh, in carterhaugh, in carterhaugh
          oh, in carterhaugh, in carterhaugh

          at the end of every seven years
          they pay a tithe to hell.
          and i’m so fair and full of flesh
          i’m feared ’twill be myself.

          tonight it is good halloween
          the fairy court will ride.
          and if you would your true love win
          at miles cross, you must bide.

          Note that this version focuses on the redemptive love of a mortal maid who undertakes challenges and dangers to rescue him.

          Classic story of maid rescuing young man from a cougar.

        4. Not a PNR, but the “Love At First Bite” series by Declan Finn has a Vampire Heroine being attracted to a Very Tough Mortal Male.

          Oh, Declan Finn’s Heroine is a Good Catholic as well as being a Vampire.

          His Vampires can be good individuals and thus Holy Objects aren’t a problems.

          Now the evil Vampires, that’s another story. 😉

        5. Well, in L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Rachel Griffin books, the main character is born to a wizard family. Both her best friend and her boyfriend were unaware of magic until they were chosen for the school.

          1. And Except the Queen by Jane Yolen and Midori Snyder

            Two fairies exiled from Faerie. Into women of a certain age. Their romances are not central to the plot, but both do have romances with mortal men.

  3. “But in the early 20th century, they weren’t that far. How much of the de-Christianization of Europe was accomplished by having heroic atheists being persecuted? How much by making religious people the villain in mysteries and thrillers? People absorb that and after a while religious equals nutter, never mind the history of Europe.”
    Talk to this bit here. I was steeped in the religion(Christianity)=Evil(wrong) mindset there for awhile. I started one story (short) and started working on another story in the same world. I went back and reread it and realized what I was doing was writing a huge anti-Christian screed with a bunch other neo-paganism lampshading. I ended up filing it and walking away from it. Sad part is that I wish I could remember where I filed it because I think it has the seeds of a decent story.

  4. To: Most Mischievous Mistress of Mayhem (IntSecRef Decode: Sarah Hoyt)
    From: Operations Control

    Re: Equipment Recommendation

    We have received your suggestion for an iconoclast outfit to be worn during next year’s subornation efforts at the Annual Conclave of Liberalism (classic form: WorldCon).

    [Have a t-shirt with an image of a massive balloon/gondola structure and the legend “My Aerostat Goes Anywhere” accompanied by a bright red cap with the legend in acronym form.]

    This idea has been declined.

    The International Lord of Hate (IntSecRef decode: Larry Correia) offered a supporting argument (“C’mon, it’ll be funny!”), but this was found to be unpersuasive.

    The scheduled infiltration agent, Evil Leage of Evil Faceless Minion #6969 (IntSecRef decode: Why do we keep this guy around?) has voiced counterpoints:

    A: Dudes! I’m already on thin ice with these people!


    B: Seriously, it’s in frickin’ California next year! (But he didn’t say “frickin'”. [Forward to HR w/counseling recommendation “Appropriate language for official communiques”].)

    We appreciate your input in this matter and if you have any further suggestions, please don’t hesitate to share.

      1. I think the Grey Gooies would be triggered by the “Again”. Whattdymean, it’s not already Great? OTOH, it’s kind of fun to see SJW heads explode. Messy, but fun.

        1. “Speculative fiction was NEVER great, unless you were a straight, white male! This misogynistic revisionism is nothing but an excuse to spew your hatred!”

      2. I think Stephanie has been a bad influence the past week. I keep trying to visualize a supereruption of MAGA all over the place.

  5. In the last twenty five books, the criminals have been: professors, police officers, priests, archeologists, millionaires and, the latest one, a MONK.

    And I bet the professors were not “climate scientists.” The surprising thing, if one goes by occupation and irritation is that there are so few villains from Retail and Customer Service. Recall the line in Unseen Academicals about how someone didn’t mean to hate people, but she’d worked in retail for three (?) years and it just happens.

    I also recall that long ago there real racial discrimination and one black fellow opined that they’d have won (for whatever values of…) when Hollywood could a black man as the bad guy. This was done not long after it was said. Today, I am unsure Hollywood dare… unless they also made him a Republican or some such.

    1. A comedian has a bit:

      What’s it like working retail?

      Imagine there’s a race of people called “customers”.

      Now imagine you’re a huge racist.

        1. THIS!!!!
          Well not being a customer retail worker, I have had to deal with the public in a “customer service” aspect for the past 25 years in one form or another. All I can say is the level of common stupidity is astounding if you are paying attention. Best example, being a bus boy waiting to do my table rounds and standing by the “Washroom” sign and being asked which way to the restrooms. I turned to the manager and stated that the sign could be in flashing pink neon and I would still be asked. He who had many years of experience over me at the time just nodded in a defeatist way.

          1. Weeeeellllll. Put a guy behind a customer service counter, stick an itty bitty sign on the side of the counter saying to go to the other side of the room to check in electronically. You’re going to get people going to the counter ALL the time asking to check in, and the poor schmuck behind the counter will spend all day telling them to go use the computer screen on the other side of the room. VERY BAD SYSTEM DESIGN.
            And unfortunately, nobody at my place of work is paying attention to me when I tell them so. /sigh

            1. DMV? Although I have to admit that the local one is very, very strange to visit these days. I’ve been there three times this year, and I’ve spent maybe a total of 45 minutes in actually waiting or being processed. (I do not count the other 45 minutes waiting for the person transferring title to me to run back home for paperwork he’d forgotten.)

              Actually, I spent more time waiting for an emissions test this week (my own fault, though, I should have gone Tuesday, but wimped out from the allergies).

                1. Oh, yeah, that’s worse, because the people are either hurried, distracted, worried, sick, or injured. None of which assist in, oh, Paying Attention.

          2. One of my best friend’s favorite examples, one that was repeated over and over again in various forms:

            Her: Hi, can I help you with anything?

            Customer: No!…Do you have Settlers expansions?

            Her (thinking): Well, yes we do, but since I can’t help you with anything, I guess I can’t help you find them.

          3. Tell me about it. When I worked in the supermarket deli, we had a sub-counter that was detached, as in completely on the other side of the perishable area from the main counter. And since the department (hell, the whole store) was perpetually understaffed, the person working that sub-section would usually have to bounce back and forth between the two counters. When they weren’t there, they’d put a sign on the counter that told customers to please go over to the other counter for assistance. Big sign, maybe two feet tall with big, bright-blue lettering. Easily 90% of the customers didn’t read the sign, didn’t follow the instructions, or else decided they “shouldn’t have to walk all the way over there (maybe 15-20 feet) to get service.”

            Best one was a woman who just stood there for maybe twenty minutes, alternating between staring blankly at the sign and vaguely waving at the workers at the neighboring counters. Usually, the people on those counters would call us to tell us we had a customer waiting (they way the area was laid out, we couldn’t see the sub-counter from the main counter), but she was acting so strange they couldn’t be sure what she wanted. So finally I run over, apologize for not being there, then politely mention the sign.

            Her response? I sh!t you not: “What sign?”

            Now the sign had been maybe two feet from her face the entire time, and from what I was told later she’d been staring at it quite a while. I point to it.

            Her response? Again, I sh!t you not: “I didn’t know I was supposed to read that!”

        2. Weeeellll… As it turns out, that’s not exactly the case. “Insufficient reason” would be more accurate.

          For example, who do you know besides Hutus who hate Tutsis?

          There’s xenophobia, middle-man minority syndrome, and other reasons variably connected with reality. A more interesting phenomenon than I’d originally thought.

    2. Today, I am unsure Hollywood dare… unless they also made him a Republican or some such.

      You think Hollywood would hesitate to make a villain of Ben Carson or any other similar “race traitor”?

      See: “Chelsea Handler Calls Ben Carson a White Supremacist”

    3. Yep, although millionaires seem to be getting a bit of a redemption now, at least in television even when they aren’t a superhero. There was Castle, and Person of Interest at least. Probably some more. Have to admit I don’t remember any books offhand, unless you are talking romance novels where the love interest for the main character is a millionaire or richer often enough.

      1. Millionaires? That’s so Aughts! Now it is Tech Billionaires, driven by suddenly wakened social consciousness to (or personal tragedy, or both) to spend their wealth providing police forces or hospitals with State of The Art (or a step beyond) equipment!!!

        Or something likel that — I saw promos last year but felt no urge to tune in.

        1. “And they fight crime” (or save lives or whatever) can be a lot more fun with cool gadgets, which makes that tech billionaire a useful character nowadays, when we do have a lot more new cool gadgets and can imagine a lot more which aren’t real but could be soon.

  6. Julie ends up driving a float. With intent and malice.

    Sort of like that scene from Animal House?

  7. I’m fascinated by how many atheists these days are buying into religious propaganda, as long as it bashes Christians. Saw a bit on FB from an atheist telling people that the whole idea of Islam as violent comes solely from Crusades era propaganda and that the European Christians were the real barbarians.

    1. Yes, that’s a pretty common theme, and we may have seen the same person on FB! But there are plenty of them out there. It’s no use pointing out facts to them — they have their minds made up and what they believe is fact IS fact, no matter what evidence to the contrary exists.

      I do think that a lot of the European Christians were probably as barbaric as their Muslim enemies at the time, or close to it, but the point is, they didn’t attack the Muslims unprovoked. They were responding to centuries of Muslim incursion and conquest.

      1. Asking those kinds of people why Christians had to recapture Jerusalem gets very blank looks, followed by much blinking. I suppose they assumed that the city had been Jewish (if they recall that much) and then spontaneously converted to Islam or something similar.

        1. Never mind Jerusalem – Greece only threw out the Caliphate less than 200 years ago, and the Acropolis in Athens is still a wreck. The Greeks have pictures of their liberation leaders up like we have pictures of the Founding Fathers (and one of theirs is a pretty cool piratical looking woman).

        2. First day of a history class in my college days, the professor asked for the reason of the crusades. Somebody in the back said to find the Holy Chalice. The look on the professor’s face was priceless.

    2. Funny thing is, we are getting a lot of evidence that stuff “everyone knew” about how horrifically violent folks were was propaganda.

      ….Islam isn’t really one of those, it’s stuff like “No, the Spanish Inquisition didn’t slaughter one in five people in Spain” and “no, this this this and that horrific way of dying for a famous person probably didn’t happen, it wasn’t even mentioned for several hundred years.”

      1. Yes! Or that America has had a black Speaker of the House, in the late 1800s (there’s a painting in the Capitol of him sitting with a number of other black congressman of that year, but it’s been hidden around the back), and integration was making pretty good headway until the progressives/social Darwinists came along and put in Jim Crow and revived the KKK in a way it had never existed before.

        1. Heh. MomRed is thinking about suggesting re-naming a school in the area (the old name “is too insensitive” yadda yadda) for a prominent Free Gentleman of Color from Louisiana who was a major political figure after 1865, held several important offices, gave to local charities, was exonerated from accusations of corruption… and had been one of the top 1% in terms of the number of slaves he owned on his sugar plantations prior to 1865.

          1. It ought not require much research to find Reconstruction era Freedman who were political leaders and office holders and suitable for the honor of having schools named after them.

            The fact they’d all be Republicans can be ignored until after the schools are renamed.

          1. If you remember that throughout the entirety of United States history, the slave keepers have been Democrats, while the slave liberators have been Republicans, you can extrapolate from there.

      1. And you know, there *is* a large community of peaceful Muslims. They happen to be in the United States. It must be something about the Middle East that drives people crazy.

        1. Read the Koran. The Meccan Suras, written when Mohammed had few followers, are very peaceful sounding. The Medinan Suras, written when Mohammed had a large number of followers, are not, and the Doctrine of Abrogation means that those are the ones in effect.

          Islam inevitably turns warlike whenever there are enough Muslims in an area. It is a constant thread through history.

  8. It’s almost obligatory for the male and female protagonists of a story these days to hop into bed together at the first opportunity. Being an old-fashioned sort who was taught that sex meant children and not just jollies, and that it ideally should follow, not precede marriage (as in, get your binding commitment to a partnership first), I am regularly affronted by the shallow and casual treatment of sex.
    Whatever happened to courtship, and finding out that your potential partner has flaws, and deciding whether or not you can live with them? Some brakes on the descent into madness of romantic attraction, as if it were a perfect guarantee of happiness ever after?

        1. Given that these are stories about shifters, Sarah needs to introduce a character whose shifted self is a grizzly bear, just so she can end the book (chapter – I am not finicky) with the classic Shakespeare reference.

      1. I am of two minds on this. If your heroes are ordinary people who will go back to being ordinary people (just without mirrors and with handcuffs) after the adventure, yes standard sexual morality is good. On the other hand, if your heroes have, in the words of a Ringo character, “the life expectancy of a mayfly”, then the advantages of standard sexual morality more or less disappear.

        1. Unless standard sexual morality or something equivalent is foundational to the character’s sense of self. If the non-standard sexual practices or mores transgress what keeps the characters functioning in the circumstances, then you still have an excuse to avoid them.

        2. Because there’s nothing at all moral problematic about conceiving a child and dragging said child into the grave with you even before birth.

          1. It might be chauvinistic of me, but I don’t have a problem with a woman concieving a child when life expectancy is pretty much nil. As long as she is not committing suicide, but just in a situation where she is unlikely to survive long enough to give birth, I don’t see anything morally wrong with it. Although in some situations becoming pregnant may significantly lower her chances of survival, so not being morally wrong doesn’t necessarily mean it isn’t stupid.

            On the other hand, a guy concieving a child that he knows he won’t be around to support and raise can very easily be viewed as morally wrong.

            1. Certain death is a worse fate than not being raised and supported by your own father. Especially when your mother can assure you that your father died for a noble cause that benefited you.

              1. I believe a study or two has been done showing that a missing father who died in a noble or fighting fashion (say, fighting cancer) was in the same class with having a living, live-in father, rather than the expected category of “all other single-moms”. The children do well, compared to those of divorced or never-married single-moms.

                Causes of this correlation are legion, and probably not un-expected to this group.

        3. (just without mirrors and with handcuffs)
          Wait — “The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag” — surely?
          Took me *hours* to grapple & dredge up that memory.

          We could *really* use a few more critics like that guy, right now.

      2. Yes – I’m not a romance reader, but I like a romance in my adventure stories (or at least a close friendship), and lately I’ve been really disappointed in how often the relationships are completely shallow – all that seems to be required is that a guy be really hawt. A friend who’s a romance fan says that this is the new trend, not to care about getting the reader to fall in love, which is what I thought the whole point of the genre was supposed to be.

        1. They did a survey of people a few years back asking about their sexual habits. They also asked a few other questions. The sad thing was that when the answers were correlated, quite a few people were having sex with people that they wouldn’t trust to watch their pet.

    1. Or at the other end finding that that fling came with a problem. In UF could do vampiric downfall or fulfill an apocalyptic prophecy for example.

    2. I remember (mid to late ’80s) when it happened in TV series, it usually meant the series had one to two seasons left to run. Moonlighting was a good(?) example of this; once the sexual tension between to two leads (drawing a blank on Willis’s charater’s name) was resolved, the show didn’t have anything else to say. Lost me; I was working on an MS degree, and time was short. Made time for Moonlighting up to then.

        1. Castle tried to marry them, unmarry them then remarry them so that whichever you were a fan of, you were sure to be pissed off.

          Changing showrunners midway didn’t help.

        1. Yeah, but Steed and Mrs. Peele weren’t “doing it” they were managing a mature adult friendship and the only benefits were good company, polite flirtation and mutual respect.

          N.B., Mrs. Peele did not resent the limitations of being female.

          1. Of course, Mrs Peel had a husband that was “missing” during her time working with Steed.

            When the actress left the show, there was a scene where Mrs Peel is seen walking away with her husband.

            Apparently in that scene, Mr. Peel was played by the actor who played Steed. 😉

          2. > the limitations of being female.

            …which didn’t stop her from mastering the Tae Kwon Leep technique of “Boot to the Head”…

      1. The thing is, if you allow your character to change, it means his story has a terminus. You can only go on forever with a static character.

        “Journeys end in lovers meeting,
        Every wise man’s son doth know.”

  9. I think it likely I flew headlong into this problem… (Not going to change anything. It’s written. But yeah, violent outcasts versus corrupt authority figures like whoa.) Gonna have to consider that in the future.

    1. You recognize it though. The idea isn’t bad, it’s just overly abused, meaning it is recoverable. Tbh I think someone should call CPS on it.

  10. Psychologists and psychiatrists have actually done tests that demonstrate that a lot of our remembered experiences are things we read or watched.

    *gives that the hairy eyeball*

    How on earth would they establish that? I can see details being borrowed, that happens even between memories– but to establish the whole experience was made up, you’d have to at least have two people who said it never happened, and had as much of a reason to remember.

    Example, my tough-girl “got lost” at the store because I let her go use the toilet, told her I would be waiting in line in a specific spot, and she brain-dumped the specific spot. Went back to where she’d left me. (Direct shot from the rest room– right next to the checkout, I could see both exists but not the bathroom door.)
    I probably wouldn’t even remember it if not for her being my tough little girl but her expression being so close to tears when I called into the bathroom, she didn’t come, so I went back to the place she’d left me. (She got a lot of praise for going to the last place she’d seen me and STAYING THERE– exactly what you’re supposed to do, if you’re lost in the woods or in the mall. She was looking around for a store-person vest when I found her, hampered by the whole not leaving that spot thing.)

    Now, in contrast, when I was about her age I saw a specific animal out in the field, told everyone, they assured me it didn’t happen and the next night the chickens were wiped out by that specific animal.
    Nobody else remembered it when it came up, but I found writing from that time that mentioned it, including “huh, guess she really did see it” type comments. (This mostly comes to mind because the same relatives have a mental image of me as some sort of a dreamer with a “wild imagination”…even though they can’t come up with an example that isn’t either when I was trying to talk about my imaginary friends, or older and talking about my fandoms. In their defense, I do have an over-active imagination, it’s just only hits reality on stuff like “what is in the dark with me?”)

    1. They established it with like 50% NEVER HAPPENED by people who were around, etc. 25% MIGHT have happened but experience was described exactly like some movie or book (I don’t remember, because I don’t pay attention.) 25% it happened too.

      1. I don’t doubt they “established” it, I doubt the broader human facts are accurate to what they established– the infamous “psychology study of the well-off American psychology student” effect might be involved.

      2. I seem to recall reading something about these studies. In some fairly significant number of cases, the mall or store where the incident was supposed to have taken place had not even been built at the time. Along with other incidents which, due to various circumstances, could not have happened as they were “remembered”.

        1. Now, my personal theory on this is that there is some vague, nebulous memory which the person fills in with details from some story or multiple stories which they have heard, so that it seems real to them, but the overall story is not even close to the reality.

          1. Exactly. I would surmise that a majority of people, as children, were misplaced somewhere (or – and this is probably a larger percentage) misplaced their parents somewhere. Give them even the slightest suggestion that this occurred at a shopping mall or department store, and they’ll latch onto that as the detail of the incident.

            Most people will also hang onto those false memories quite hard once they’ve “recalled” them, too. The wife, for instance, was absolutely sure that we had sat in the audience for the Theatre Arts production of “Pippin.” It took me digging into the yearbooks and her transcript to convince her that this was impossible – that was the semester that she took Theatre Arts, and was backstage for every last performance. She had conflated that with the many, many other times that we were together in the audience in the same building.

          2. Now this sounds quite right to me– partly because I recently did it, but in the “fitting in pieces” way that was more methodical.

            My mom could remember us taking a trip, but we couldn’t figure out why it was just the two of us; eventually she remembered it ended at a death, which let me figure out that it was just me because I had a learner’s permit and could be a switch-driver, and we had to do a rushing trip for a relative’s medical emergency.

            Hm, reminds me of another way to force results– insist that someone give details they aren’t really sure of. (If you then make people “picture it” over and over, to get more details– that’s how you implant false memories.)

            1. There was one modern reincarnation story where it turns out that the young woman actually knew the woman she thought she was the reincarnation of.

              The older woman had worked in the girl’s home and the “memories” were likely the result of the older woman telling the girl stories about her (the older woman) life.

          1. Or they were there on the spot at the time. But they’ve talked to some other “witness” since – or an inept lawyer, or a “journalist” – and had the real memory overlaid. Lawyers on both sides hate “eyewitnesses” for very good reason. (And a skilled trial lawyer can change the “memory” right on the stand, demolishing what the opposing lawyer thought was a slam dunk based on their pretrial interview. See the Scooter Libby case for an infamous example where the reporter went back over her notes taken at the time – which directly contradicted what she was later induced to testify.)

        2. the mall or store where the incident was supposed to have taken place had not even been built at the time
          Or the person after whom they were named wasn’t even famous yet……

    2. Thing is…this still points at the stories being very important.

      We’ve all read a study, seen the tests, seen the results– and then looked at the conclusion and blinked, because what the heck it’s not supported at all by the evidence.

      Or, for a slightly different vein, “Let anybody choose who votes– as long as I get to count them.”

      The stories teach us how to interpret things.
      Avery Brooks had a story about “racism” because a gal wouldn’t get in the elevator with him, late at night, when he was playing Sisko and had the bald head and beard. You know, when he looked really freaking intimidating.

      It couldn’t be because he’s over six foot tall, powerfully built and has a presence that makes him seem bigger, and only an idiot of a woman gets in an elevator alone with a possible threat late at night– he “knew” that she must see his skin color as the most important thing, so that’s how he interpreted it.

      1. Yes, stories are really important. I find it kind of scary at how much of what I’ve thought about the world (particularly when I was younger) came from the zeitgeist or whatever you want to call it, and that people will often go with that even when it contradicts their actual experience.

        1. people will often go with that even when it contradicts their actual experience

          Your actual experience is merely anecdotal while the Zeitgeist is narrative.

      2. > Avery Brooks

        A friend of mine is a senior IT guy at an east coast state university. He doesn’t look like Avery Brooks, but he looks enough like Isaac Hayes for people to ask for his autograph…

        Working in a full-SJW environment where almost everyone is trying to find *something* to trigger on, he actively avoids being in a room or elevator with a single female. The chances of them going for a drama moment by making an accusation are far too high.

        1. It has been recently noted that the Campus Rape Culture reports are possibly the ONLY campus statistics in which there is no recording of race. The suspicion is that the activists authorities are suppressing that information because we would otherwise learn that while Black Lives Matter, Black Academic Lives Don’t Matter.

    3. When I would get separated from my parents at Kmart (pronounced K-Mark by my grandmother) I would go to the front windows and look for our vehicle. If it was there, I knew they hadn’t left yet and could relax. It was always there. I guess my parents really did love me.

      1. I guess my parents really did love me.

        Alternate thesis is that they had a good grasp of the amount of tedious paperwork and awkward questioning if you got misplaced.

        1. Alternate thesis is that they had a good grasp of the amount of tedious paperwork and awkward questioning if you got misplaced.
          Back in the day when I was with the Royal Canadian Air Cadets, the captain in charge before a weekend made an off hand comment that it was easier on him paperwork wise to get one of us killed then injured. Found out that he was right. Three times the amount of paperwork for injury versus death. Go figure.

          1. Well of course. Dead, we make an insurance payout, and bury you. Injuries on the other hand, are for life. And doggone humans keep living for two and three times what they used to.

          2. I had variations on the “Do NOT make me do the paperwork if you die” warning to various cadets and young lieutenants. Including “I will resurrect you and kill you all over again, myself.”

    4. With the memory thing, my dad told me he’d lived in a particular apartment complex while at BYU for a semester. While passing the spot with my sister a couple years after his death, she told me he’d said he lived in the still standing complex across the street. Both of us were telling our memory of what he said. We could have both remembered correctly what he said, because he’d told me several years before he’d told her. One of us could be wrong about what we remember he said but chances are just as likely that in the intervening years, he misremembered at some point.

    5. I didn’t get lost in a mall; I got left behind in a store in San Francisco while we were on a trip with a bunch of Japanese exchange students. I definitely remember what I was looking at when I figured out that the rest of my group wasn’t in the store any more, and I stayed there (mildly panicking) until my mom returned.

      But then, I’m weird when it comes to memory—mine’s highly associative and retentive, so if I remember something it comes with a wealth of detail for cross-referencing. It also means that one of my earliest memories—which I thought was a dream for years—was unexpectedly confirmed by my mother when I described it to her. (Bumpass Hell, sulfuric hot springs in Lassen National Park. I was two and walked that whole trail by myself, and when I was 34 and we visited again, I was actually able to more or less place which part of the boardwalk that memory actually came from.)

      Pictures help a lot with keeping memories straight. In my book, I have a character not recognized by someone who theoretically should have known her off the bat. But this is a late medieval/early Renaissance culture, hence no pictures, hence with a year or more out of contact and with lack of context, he completely misses the clues.

      1. Hm, maybe part of it is being from the kind of families that tell stories?

        I know I did– and that’s part of why I double-check details, and recognize the “I changed the story there to make it better” vs “this is really how it happened” stuff.

      2. Funny thing is that I have a TERRIBLE memory, in general. But what I DO remember is generally pretty accurate (until the last few years – not sure what’s going on there, but I think it’s too much going on causing bleed-over).

        Thus, I was the only one who remembered that we used to sit a completely different way at the kitchen table before my dad broke his ankle than we did for the rest of my parents’ lives after he did so.

        We used to sit with my dad at the head of the table with me closest to the stove and mom closest to the refrigerator. I don’t say “on dad’s right” or “on dad’s left” because it changed depending on the time of day. We sat at one end of the table in the morning and the other end in the evening, so that the sun would be behind my dad.

  11. Had a too many stories last night with my nearly six-year-old daughter. She was quite certain that people used to live on Venus before it got too cold.

      1. Well, you can only see Venus at night, when it’s cold. I mean, it makes perfect sense, in six-year-old logic.

        1. I can see confusing Venus and Mars for temperature. It was the humans currently living on Earth who had (or their ancestors had) moved here from Venus that made me figure she’d got it from a story her brothers were playing!

  12. The thing I’ve noticed is that when the SJWs write about good, decent people, no matter what belief system they SAY those people have, they come across as Christians. And when they write about really despicable people, they often remind me of Progressives I’ve known.

    The Left doesn’t have any virtues that aren’t from Christianity, and none of the vices that they project on Christians sound like they belong there.

    This, of course, involves some actual acquaintence with people who practice Christianity, instead of simply making a big show of,calling themselves Christians.

    The SJWs, interestingly, know next to nothing about Buddhism, or any of the other non-Cristian faiths they profess to admire.

    1. The SJWs, interestingly, know next to nothing about Buddhism, or any of the other non-Cristian faiths they profess to admire.

      Well of course not. If they were familiar with such faiths, they would know practitioners of such faiths–and would know that, among other things, hypocrisy is a universal vice. Furthermore, they might actually learn about how those faiths are practiced in the home country, rather than the Westernized versions practiced here in the States.

      1. I’ve read the actual Tao, and a few other “expositions” (Tao of Pooh, Teh of Piglet, along with another book). I also have a base understanding of Confucianism. My brother who spent an ungodly period of time in China agrees with my assessments of both beliefs. That being Lao Tzu’s teachings are very nihilistic in concept and laziness personified (The universe provides what I deserve), and Confucianism is statism on steroids (everyone has their place and that place is ordained and can’t change).

        1. My impressions were that Taoism was essentially anti-engineering, and that Confucianism’s economic impact on China, driven by zero sum economic thinking, perhaps made Legalism look good in comparison.

          1. More like The Ka-Ching of Christopher Robin. Read about Christopher Milne’s relationship with his pa when you’ve leisure and a strong stomach.

        2. Everything I feel I need to know about Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism is readily apparent from a casual look at Chinese history. Several thousand years of elitist swine treating themcommon folk like farm animals.

          1. Reminds me that I have to dig out that passage from Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations” when he compares UK wealth/labour to the Chinese. Rather illuminating considering when it was written. I seem to find that the Chinese culture has been in a massive state of stagnation for centuries.

            1. Several recent histories have pointed out that the Chinese stagnated because they could. There were no major “push” forces driving improvements or major changes, unlike Europe. It wasn’t until the 1700s that China hit its ecological limits in terms of expansion. And most of its wars only affected (afflicted) a small part of the population, although the climate crunch and invasion of the early 1600s hit some areas pretty hard.

      2. Distant religions can be distorted to your heart’s content. Actual ones, right there, can be as unpalatable to you as they like.

        Many of the people who say they like Jesus but not His followers have carefully expurgated what is known of Jesus to taste.

    2. “The SJWs, interestingly, know next to nothing about Buddhism, or any of the other non-Cristian faiths they profess to admire.”
      They’re pretty hazy on non-American nations and cultures as well. Wonder how many of the Oh-so-caring think that our hostess is basically Mexican?

      1. Ask them what happened to the Anasazi, or whether the Apache and Commanche CHOSE to live where the white man first met them?

      2. OTOH they know Christianity fairly well, because they grew up in the midst of it. They know that the Christians that surround them probably won’t up and attack them … or they wouldn’t dare snipe at them so much.

        I think this is why opposition to common abortion gets them so worked up. It’s the only social cause that has motivated even a tiny number of Christians to seriously attack the SJW world. The abortion clinic fires and bombings scare the shit out of the SJWs, all out of proportion to their actual numbers, because here’s something that gets some Christians angry enough to resort to SJW tactics. And because SJWs are no good at putting themselves into other mindsets, they just can’t understand why.

        1. There’s a Terry Pratchett line about the true atheist, who hates the gods for not existing – I think there’s something to that with the worst of them.

          1. This is a pretty common theme in English Catholic and now general Catholic circles– I’m pretty sure Chesterton mentioned it, and Sheen had a whole story about it that got you right in the feels.

            I do think it’s quite true, but I’m pleased to see some evidence that Pratchett was the sort of rational-atheist that I suspected.

        2. Eh, their knowledge of Christianity is spotty.

          Online discussion once. Someone gripes about evangelization. I point out that it’s a religious DUTY and quote the Great Commission. Someone retorts that if he were a Christian he would listen more to Jesus than to Paul.

          I did not have to actually point out that his assumption about who said what was wrong; someone else did.

          1. Yeah, and then there are the ones who start quoting the Jewish dietary verses from the Old Testament to claim that if you’re not following all of them you can’t honestly complain about gay marriage / abortion / etc.

              1. Not at all amazing — they have chosen the interpretation which best enables them to reject the Faith.

                I have on many occasions had to remind those who publicly reject G-d for His allowing evil in this world that the only way He could prevent human evil would be to deny free will, and thus their rejection of Him is based on His permitting people to reject Him. Their counter-rebuttals always prove circular.

        3. The other day, I saw somebody say that the trouble with some political debates was that some people were too polarized to understand the other side’s concerns — and then proceed to demonstrate that they were part of the problem, by giving the example that the pro-life movement in the US was so extreme as to object to abortion even in cases of rape…

          I bet they have problems with executing people they acknowledge as people for the crimes of their parents, too.

    3. The SJWs, interestingly, know next to nothing about Buddhism, or any of the other non-Cristian faiths they profess to admire.” and most of what they do know is not true.

      Fixed that for you.

      1. To their minds a follower of Jesus can only be a fool or a hypocrite. It is difficult to make a clever villain out of a fool, so they depict Christians as hypocrites.

        Better storytellers have learned to contrast the false prophets from the true disciples, as in The Night of the Hunter‘s presentation of the wolf who passes as a shepherd in opposition to the true shepherdess who defends her flock.

        1. No, even the ones they want to depict as fools are unbelievers. And not really hypocrites. They can’t even convince me that the person is faking it.

          1. That speaks to a failure of the writer, similar to the problem of depicting a character who is smarter* than the writer/actor. Most writers/actors are able to write/play a dumber character, having (they imagine) observed many. But few have dealt with a smarter person and have trouble even imagining one.

            Because they have the false assumptions of what motivates Christian Faith they cannot be bothered to put themselves in such characters’ shoes and seriously consider the implications of such beliefs. One of the joys of the Cadfael series is that the author has made the effort to imagine what the characters’ inner lives would be and how those would play ought in their actions.

            *Not better informed, nor monomaniacal (e.g., Holmes) but somebody who actually processes information faster and with fewer fallacies than the person attempting to depict the character.

            1. S.M. Stirling, of all people, wrote an extremely convincing believer in one of his Draka books. I can’t speak to her Catholic-ness, but her faith rang true to me.

        2. The Christian faith, as far as I understand it, contains just the right combination of humility and self worth that makes its honest practitioners untenable candidates for the progressive agenda.

    4. “know next to nothing about Buddhism,”

      For instance, Buddhism is seen as a universally-peaceful faith, based on the memes of the Dalai Lama (who is basically the head of a group of monks, not the general population.) The fact that there’s “ethnic cleansing” of Muslims in Myanmar being perpetrated right now by Buddhists probably flies right by them.

  13. One of the things I most liked about Liu Cixin’s trilogy is that the villains are the communists, the environmentalists and the pacifists. Nice for a change.

  14. I’ve noticed over the last several decades that the British TV shows I’ve watched almost always have a negative attitude towards Christianity. If there is a heroic christian character, it’s usually based off an earlier work like Chesterton or Lewis. And by the turn of this century these views had made inroads in American TV as well. It really turns me off some shows.

    1. Especially crime shows. If a character is any kind of evangelical Christian, they will be some kind of villain, even if they’re not the main one of the episode.
      It gets annoying after awhile.

      1. well, its because they honestly believe that since their own souls and everyone’s around them are tarnished, no one can possibly be clean…

            1. Yet how could anyone who cannot be trusted with a gun be trusted to organize and run an economy? Surely the latter requires greater judgement, wisdom and self-discipline than the former?

              1. naah, apparently anyone with the Proper Opinions, the Proper Contacts and the the Proper Education can run an economy.

      2. Yes, and then they try to claim it was done because it’s shocking, and breaking taboos, and unexpected twist and so on. When you could see it coming a mile away, even disregarding any foreshadowing because it happens Every. Damn. Time. :/ (Or close enough. There have to be some exceptions, right? … or maybe they didn’t get filmed)

        1. Well, in fairness to the Hollywood crew, they probably actually believe that their audience won’t expect it, because Hollywood is one of the most provincial places on the planet.

        2. And this is why I like the Dresden Files; not just for all the assorted flavors of awesome (“For my next trick? Anvils.”) but for Michael Carpenter. I was in shock when he finished his first appearance without being revealed as Evil Evil Evil.

      3. Actually, for every crime TV show except the BBC’s Father Brown, you can play the intersectional whodunit game.

        As every speaking character is introduced, give them victim points based on intersectional classes: gay, Muslim, SJW, black, handicapped, Mexican, immigrant, etc. At the halfway point the one with the fewest points committed the crime. Try it sometime.

        We did a comic about this one.

    2. One of the more recent Agatha Christie TV remakes, Nemesis, changed the murderer from a sister (one of three) who took in an orphan and became obsessed with having so much ability to form the girl to her desires, to a Sister (Catholic nun) who couldn’t stand the fact that the said orphan who fled an uncomfortable work situation and had entered the novitiate but hadn’t taken final vows was choosing to leave.

      1. That was one where I saw the TV version before I read the book—or possibly that I’d read the book a while prior, saw the TV show, and had to go back to the book to find out why it diverged so much.

  15. I admit I have a story in the works where the killer is a cop, but only because my detective was practically raised at that police station. I figured it would be good character drama.

  16. You hear this in the wild-eyed accusations the left bandies at anyone who opposes them. If the person looks clean and “normal” they must be racist, sexist, homophobic, tools of the patriarchy and who knows what else.

    For some reason this called to mind the “Yuppie Riots” attending the Y2K Bush/Gore Florida recounts.

    1. But — speaking of playing to stereotypes — I was thinking, when I heard the first notes of Jesse Jackson’s rabble rousing, “I can name that tune in ONE note — the Democrats are going to try to steal the election.” And they’ve been trying ever since. (Of course, they always were; it’s just that, in 2000, the ambition had its clothes fall off — became naked.)


  17. The ex-cons are saintly, the ex-junkies are the only ones who “get it”, the crazy environmentalists are the unsung heroes.

    I feel an urge to re-read The Friends of Eddie Coyle.

    Amazon description, for those unfamiliar with the work:

    George V. Higgins’s seminal crime novel is a down-and-dirty tale of thieves, mobsters, and cops on the mean streets of Boston. When small-time gunrunner Eddie Coyle is convicted on a felony, he’s looking at three years in the pen–that is, unless he sells out one of his big-fish clients to the DA. But which of the many hoods, gunmen, and executioners whom he calls his friends should he send up the river? Told almost entirely in crackling dialogue by a vivid cast of lowlifes and detectives, The Friends of Eddie Coyle is one of the greatest crime novels ever written.:

    Good movie, too.

    Jackie Brown: “This life’s HARD man, but it’s HARDER if you’re stupid!”

  18. So when i was reading the beginning of this, really the portion that gets shown in the email, i had a thought about telling stories…

    If we go back to that ‘ideal past’ that didn’t exist and that the SJWs would suddenly find very unequal, the stories we’re going to be telling by lamplight are *not* going to be their supposedly enduring stores… we’re going to be telling stores about Luke Skywalker.

    (Their ‘enduring’ stories are going to be forgotten in ten years.)

    1. Oh, my, yes! Anyone here remember Judy Bloom? Yuck! The kids of today owe a huge debt of gratitude to Harry Potter and Twilight. They have SJW elements, but they aren’t ‘Relevance for the sake of relevance’ stories. And they showed that telling a thrilling story SOLD.

      Whatever I think of those books (and Twilight is godawful on many levels), they took ‘Relevance’ out behind the barn and killed it with an axe.

      1. Harry Potter, the most popular libertarians series ever? In which key plot elements hinge upon an unreliable press and incompetent government ministry? Any time you want to win a debate over limited powers of the state, simply point out what happened when Voldemort’s Death Eaters took control of the Ministry of Magic.

        I particularly enjoy Mr. Prachett’s mocking of “He Who Must not Be Named” as “Whossname” years before the potter books were published. Comparable to the Marx brothers’ preemptive rebuttal of the 1940 film the Great Dictator in 1933 with Duck Soup.

      2. Twilight probably isn’t bad if you are a thirteen year old girl, and the author did her research well (I lived in Forks for several years, and so being curious read one of the books, I could find not a single problem with her depiction of area, it was just the rest of the book that I didn’t care for). The problem is that unlike Judy Bloom (whom I vaguely remember) the Twilight saga vastly surpassed its target audience.

      3. *muttering the name, goes to look her up*

        Oh, gads, NOT THAT FREAKING BOOK. I haven’t read it, I have no desire to read it unless I get really overwhelming counter-reviews from people whose taste I trust, the blunt manipulation of the title alone made me dig in my heels and say NO!!!!!

      4. Yuck.

        I remember her “Fudge” books mostly because of how much I hated Fudge. We were so clearly supposed to think he was cute and funny; even as a child, I thought he was a spoiled brat who needed to be spanked and then sent to time-out for about three years.

        I won’t get into her “puberty and sex” books.

      5. Anyone here remember Judy Bloom?

        She’s the one that inflicted RAMONA on children of the 80s, right?

        …yes, I remember her. Vividly, and not very favorably.

        1. I had to look up who it was and what “that book” lijkely was. Thankfully, I missed it. Oh, I’d heard of it, but I’ve heard of bombings and the holocaust, too., and I have had the good fortune to have missed those as well.

        2. No, that was Beverly Cleary.
          Now, personally, I want to have some words with whoever wrote the Junie B. Jones series. I hated those books so much…

        3. I think you’re conflating Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume. I found some enjoyment in the works of Beverly Cleary when I was a child. Had no such love for Judy Blume’s stuff, though.

        4. That’s interesting. Loved those books (probably because I was a bit of a Ramona, and my daughter certainly is.) She started out writing Henry Huggins in the late 50s/early 60s because she was a children’s librarian who had trouble finding kids’ books for boys, and Ramona was a spin-off character. Those books were written over more than a 30-year span and were very specifically Portland (a fact I missed entirely as a child.)

  19. Real life, providing an example of narrative in action:

    Why judge acquitted St. Louis cop of first-degree murder
    WICHITA, Kan. — A judge’s decision to acquit an officer of murder in the death of a black suspect came down to two major questions: Did the officer plant a gun, and did his outburst about killing the man seconds before the shooting signal premeditation?
    The officers were investigating what appeared to be a drug transaction in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. The car sped away and a high-speed chase ensued. Police slammed their SUV into Smith’s car. Stockley then got out and fired five shots into Smith’s car, killing him. A handgun was found in the car after the shooting.

    Prosecutors argued the presence of Stockley’s DNA — and absence of Smith’s DNA — on the gun proved the gun must have been planted by the officer.*


    In his ruling, Wilson wrote that “a fact issue that is central” to the case is whether Smith had the gun when he was shot. He found the state’s contention that the officer planted the gun is not supported by evidence.

    A full-sized revolver was too large for the officer to hide in his pants pockets and he was not wearing a jacket, the judge said. If the gun had been tucked into his belt, it would have been visible on a bystander’s video that showed Stockley walking between the police car and Smith’s car, he found.

    Wilson also noted none of the officers standing next to the vehicle were called to testify that Stockley planted a gun. And he recounted witness testimony that the absence of a person’s DNA on a gun does not mean that person did not touch the gun.

    “Finally, the Court observes, based on its nearly thirty years on the bench, that an urban heroin dealer not in possession of a firearm would be an anomaly,” the judge wrote.**


    Smith drove at speeds of up to 87 miles per hour on wet roads, endangering other drivers and pedestrians. About 45 seconds before the chase ended, police dashcam video captured Stockley saying, “going to kill this (expletive), don’t you know it.”

    Prosecutors argued that statement proved the officer deliberated about killing Smith even before the pursuit ended.***


    “People say all kinds of things in the heat of the moment or while in stressful situations, and whether Stockley’s statement … constituted a real threat of action or was a means of releasing tension has to be judged by his subsequent conduct,” the judge wrote.

    The court does not believe the officer’s conduct following the end of the pursuit is consistent with the conduct of a person intentionally killing another person unlawfully, Wilson wrote. He noted testimony by the state’s witnesses that Stockley ordered Smith to open the door and show his hands.

    It was not until 15 seconds after Stockley arrived the driver’s side door that he took his service revolver out of its holster and fired several shots.****


    **Real life


    ****Real life

    1. Uh… a LOT of those details are, um, really over-powering.

      That he went up without his gun drawn goes well into the “holy @#$#@@ Himself DOES take care of fools” territory– thank goodness that he did such a crazy thing, though.

  20. I like mysteries and tv mystery shows and you have captured what I was noticing as well. It is probably good to not immediately assume a person’s guilt because it’s “obvious”, which is why it’s important police *investigate* as opposed to simply building a case. At the same time we, as a society, seem to have reached a level of (storyness?) such that our instincts *demand* that the first suspect in real life not be guilty, or at least that the answer can’t possibly be that obvious.

  21. I have a immense distrust of all authority figures from an early age due to real experiences, not fiction. Although the early writings of RAH helped reinforce my beliefs.

    And my issues with the establishment left have little to due with their corruption of fiction*, but their impact on daily reality. When a well connected music composition major is the CSO of a primary credit reporting agency, you can see the hubris of the modern Idiocracy that rejects facts.

    *(Although the revelation of paedophiles and other degenerate behaviour among the major creative industries makes me very leery of anything short of math and physics.)

    1. That’s because you have been victimized by false news, just as depicted in 1984 as explained by HRC:

      “Attempting to define reality is a core feature of authoritarianism. This is what the Soviets did when they erased political dissidents from historical photos. This is what happens in George Orwell’s classic novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, when a torturer holds up four fingers and delivers electric shocks until his prisoner sees five fingers as ordered. The goal is to make you question logic and reason and to sow mistrust toward exactly the people we need to rely on: our leaders, the press, experts who seek to guide public policy based on evidence, ourselves.”

      If you weren’t familiar with the novel you would think that the torturer is an insurgent, a counter-revolutionary bent on alienating the prisoner’s love for Big Brother.

      1. We don’t need anyone to sow distrust of the aforementioned persons, especially the press; they are doing a fine job of it all by themselves.

  22. “Did you bring your army?” I love it. As a non writer but extremely avid reader I agree completely. I can usually tell how a book will develop within a page of the final important character being introduced. The exceptions are almost always from writers that aren’t trying to convert me into a Social Justice Warrior.

  23. While Holly may be a very atypical ex-stripper; I used to know a gal that I swear was the inspiration for that character. Other than being brunette and coming out of the Seattle/Tacoma strip clubs rather than Vegas, she fit Holly down to a T. Even to volunteering in a nursing home in her spare time.

  24. I probably just need more caffeine, but the thought of the Monster Hunters fighting a battle in Cologne strikes me as a good idea. Maybe the German government would wake up and realize that letting monsters roam the country with impunity isn’t such a good plan in the long run.

    My brain still can’t wrap itself around the idea that bringing in enormous numbers of people who refuse to work is good, because it increases the work force and tax base. Especially large numbers of people who won’t work and who at best despise the culture that is housing, feeding, and entertaining them.

      1. “Because we had our eyes squinched shut, our hands over our ears, and we were shouting “na-na-na…”

        They’ll be squealing like pigs on the other side of the tipping point, over a problem that they made for themselves, that gained nothing for them or their associates.

        Sometimes it’s hard to grasp that people really *can* be as stupid as they demonstrate…

        1. Or worse, because they were going “It’ll be different this time because we’re the right people, and we’re in charge!”

          1. That only works on reloading savegames. Sometimes.

            Not that I’ve done that constantly to get a vendor to sell something I want, or to get Preston Garvey to pick some radiant quest that doesn’t have an expiration timer and then exile him to the Castle or anything.

            (Or tried something like that in X-COM.)

        2. TRX, or as blinded by ideology. Given what’s getting through despite the heavy censorship Sweden and Germany are imposing, I shudder to think of the real situation.

      2. The two great, interchanging questions that dominate so much of Leftist history:
        What harm could it do?
        How could we have known?

  25. I remember a train trip when I was very young. My parents insist I never traveled by train.

    1. I have confused my parents with a train trip memory. Not that we didn’t go by train once when I was very young. The issue is that I *remember* standing outside on a cold wintery day watching a steam engine just belching out clouds of white steam. I was standing in the loading area and just watching. Haven’t been any steam engines around like that for decades…

      1. It is likely you had fallen asleep watching a television show in which steam locomotives were featured. Children often have poor filters for separating such fiction from reality from what everybody pretends is reality and will confuse the sources of memories.

    2. It’s also possible that you took a trip on a miniature train around a field or something. The fairgrounds here has a monorail, which I adored as a child. Didn’t go on it for a few years, then was on it again and was very disappointed in how pedestrian it was, since I’d remembered it being much longer and more exciting. My brain had built it up into something much more than it was.

  26. I recently had to have a talk with my son about a Geronimo Stilton cartoon where the villain was a thinly disguised Seaworld park. Even Thunderbirds gets Luddite in places now. What entertainment can he see, though, where that isn’t a problem? I’m open to recommendations. The old Lone Ranger, Daniel Boone, etc. but they are in B&W. G.A. Henty, C.S. Lewis, and RAH in books… but what is there in surround sound hi def technicolor?

    1. It can depend on the age/maturity of your son, but I think an argument can be made for the DC Animated universe, especially Batman, The Animated Series and the two Justice League series. Classic Warner Bros. cartoons are excellent. Chuck Jones did some pretty darn good adaptations of some of Kipling’s Jungle Book stories.

      Try the Muppets Show and (tastes vary) Fraggle Rock programs. There were a few series in the Eighties that I recall as being tolerably good, adaptations of classic children’s stories. Shelley Duvall had a series of them on HBO, IIRC, Faerie Tale Theatre and Tall Tales & Legends. There were also a series of readings of classic folk tales in the Rabbit Ears “We All Have Tales” series. Available in book, CD and DVD these were retellings of such stories as The Fool and the Flying Ship, written by Eric Metaxas, read/performed by Robin Williams with music by the Klezmer Conservatory Band and such exotica as the Japanese tales of Peachboy (read by Sigurney Weaver) and The Boy Who Drew Cats (read by William Hurt.) Try Amazon or for those productions.

      1. I swear there was a video version of this, if only scanning over the book’s illustrations.

        Robin Williams in his best yiddische accent.

    2. He may be too old for “Reading Rainbow,” which was Lavar Burton reading kids books on PBS. There was also (1977-1980) Once Upon a Classic from WGBH that was dramatizations of classic novels, live-action. I don’t know if they are available on video or on-line. WGBH is a little strange about what it releases.

      1. Once Upon a Classic was a venue for importation of British children’s series. It was very good but it seems the programs have been lost in copyright limbo (or producer indifference — with the BBC it can be hard to tell.)

        If you can play Region 2 disks, it is worth the while to pick up the BBC adaptation of Stalky & Co., which appeared in America on the A&E network back when it lived up to its name.

    3. It’s not hi-def — but (as was referenced earlier in these comments) Rocky & Bullwinkle (and the other associated cartoons) are color, and out on DVD

    4. You can still get the original Johnny Quest cartoons on DVD. After that the rest of Hanna Barbara’s ouvre is available but not really worth it, except maybe for “Shazzan” which was early enough to have pretty good production values for its time.

  27. We live in the most story-soaked society in history, ever.
    Traditional societies (’til very recently about all of ’em) are pretty saturated in stories too — legends, tales, fairytales (for children the way Bugs Bunny is), even family or personal stories. But with a few exceptions like gossip or news, VERY few of them were ever NEW ones; the rest were just the social furniture and cultural foundation.
    What we’re being flooded by these days is mostly about the equivalent of single-use, disposable products, instead of durable, quality, “sustainable” goods. I’ve caught an amazing number of people (who should and otherwise do know better) talking about reading, listening, watching as “consuming media” — as if doing those things were merely sucking on a pipe connected at the other end to some Mass Media Moguls centralized processing facility, and *all* stories (and songs, etc.) were *inherently* both consumable and disposable. (*What?!?*)
    Though, I guess, it fits in perfectly with making our history into more of the same…

    Some things are too important to be left to incompetent experts.
    We can do (and here clearly *are* doing) better ourselves.
    And if we want incompetence we’ve plenty of our own to spare too, thank you very much!

      1. Yes, and it’s amazing how many things these days look just like foreshocks of that kind of Big One (at least to an unbiased eye).

        One of my relatives watches, except for news and information shows, little besides Westerns and similar movies and shows — John Wayne, The Rifleman, Gunsmoke, and the like. Simply because it’s *better* than most of what’s new, with none of the turn-offs like gratuitous, ah, whatever.
        His household has satellite “cable” and dozens of channels, including many of the movie and premium channels, because, packages. He’s “signed up” for all that regular cable TV modernism and I’m sure statistically he looks exactly like a “consumer” of all of it. And yet…

        Last November, the Big Four network news was all full of “this is a big surprise.” (Which lasted about a week, until it turned into She Didn’t Do It Right or The Russians Did It.)
        Meantime his wife, who is a longtime election worker, reported truly impressive turnout, followed the next day by “with everyone I met in town, it was like the sun was shining a little brighter and the birds were singing a little sweeter.” But of course, irrelevant, there in “flyover country.”

        It’ll probably be the most obvious thing They Never Saw Coming.

    1. Not as saturated. Remember I grew up in one. Or should I say the stories aren’t as immersive. Believe it or not, though legends and such abound, people able to tell them coherently and interestingly are VERY rare.

      1. Yes, yes, *exactly* that.
        I only half grew up in one, where my parents themselves grew up (which taught me the incredibly useful and evidently rather rare two-footedness one could call “the relativity of culture” from the earliest of ages), but still I know exactly this ‘fading’ that you’re talking about.

        People still remember and tell the personal and family stories (especially right after someone’s died, I’d even say people doing that or not is a test of how ‘traditional’ their culture is) and I even seem to have become the custodian of a few like “The Car-Seeking Possum” myself.
        But the overall, “culture” stories? I There are people I could ask who’d ask other people, and still the likely answer I’d get back is, “nobody does that anymore in this county.” People still get together and visit and tell stories, but not those “culturally foundational” ones. For that you’d (ironically but predictably enough) have to go to some library or university collection, like with Alexander Carmichael and his Carmina Gadelica long ago in far-away Scotland, or some book bought from a bookstore.
        Collecting the Foxfire Books, say, to learn what your own ancestors taught their children is vastly better than nothing (and they can be found in that household I mentioned), but it’s way less than everything.
        But you do what you can. Tha mi ach ag ionnsachadh Gàidhlig, but at least I am learning. And at least there are a few really “traditional” storytellers left. A *very* few.
        But these aren’t as immersive as the TV or the radio or whatever because great storytelling is a high art like great music. And meanwhile the mass-culture is immersive, pervasive, and invasive. Just as you say, and all too much like fast food compared to home cooking.
        I think Patricia Monaghan talked about how one of the biggest reasons for the decline of Irish speaking *in Ireland* was the new, four-legged person in the house, who never listened and *only spoke English* all the time. Culture and story follows the same pattern.

        And a solution to the problem (for those of us who think it is one)? I like yours.

        1. But these aren’t as immersive as the TV or the radio …

          You’ve doubtless seen the studies of the brain waves of people watching television, akin to trance-state. Whereas a story-teller involves you in the creation and activates thoughts and images.

      2. I’m blessed with parents who tell (or read) stories well, and who read Aesop, the Greek myths, Norse myths, American Indian legends, and more modern stories to me and Sib from the time we were in the cradle. And growing up in the Christian tradition, plus being surrounded by art history, we got the core tales of Western Civilization. And a dollop of others just for variety.

        Now? I have students who have never connected the Nativity story from the Gospels of Luke and Matthew with Christianity. And didn’t know that Catholics and Protestants are all Christians, so the history of the Reformation makes exactly zero sense to them. That takes some intense one-on-one work to rectify.

        1. Ouch. Such basic ignorance is a hard thing to remediate.
          I didn’t have a lot of verbal story-tellers in my youth, but my folks provided many of the books the stories were fossilized in, and I read them voraciously. For me, science fiction was an extension of these stories into the future. Fantasy writing is another source of reworked lore, but in a different dimension.

        2. My father had me learn how to read out loud with a certain rhythm, and then had me practice reading Shakespeare’s sonnets out loud. Moving overseas kept me from being able to get the books to read out loud to my kids, alas. I would have liked very much to give them a grounding in basic Christian traditions, but now they’re too old.

        3. I have no problem believing the “Wait, Catholics are Christian?” response, because I’ve had quite a few arguments with folks who insisted they can’t be Protestant because they are TRUE Christians. (Even if you could show where their group had left another in “protest.”)

          1. It would be nice if this year began setting aright some of that ignorance. But, alas, I fear ignorance is much too powerful of a dragon to slay.

  28. I’ve always said it’s the “nice young man” who helps his elderly neighbor carry her groceries into her house that you should pre-emptively jail. That’s always what the neighbors say about the guy who goes on a 5-state killing spree, and is caught with a collection of their middle toes in his trunk when he’s finally nabbed: “He was such a nice boy.”

    1. There was an extensive article on that man who went to the prayer meeting at a historically black church and then shot the attendees and the upshot of the article is basically “yeah, that guy’s always been off.”

  29. Speaking of being inundated with stories, Black Pigeon Speaks did a very interesting video on how the foundation myth of the West has become based on a WW2-derived narrative that’s profoundly unhealthy. It explains far too much, what with Nazis being the ultimate evil of the media/academic narrative – to the point where people are condemned if they don’t denounce Nazism enough. As in, they don’t give the proper religious-style obeisance to it and so must be shamed by all proper people.

    Also, thanks for the nudge to create. It helped me start writing again. If it’s been very little thus far, it’s still been good. The old doubts still wonder if my life’s untangled enough to make good on it, but I’m at least far closer than I use to be.

    1. That was argued by Kurt Vonnegut in the late Sixties, asserting that by making Nazis the Ultimate Evil we imagined ourselves the other pole, rather than simply the lesser evil — Saruman to the Nazis’ Sauron.

  30. The ex-cons are saintly, the ex-junkies are the only ones who “get it”, the crazy environmentalists are the unsung heroes.

    Actually, I (partially intentionally) have been trying to work against trope…my street wise help for my PI is a closeted straight guy for example and the Femme Fatale (who really was victimized by the the guy she hired the PI to find) is designed to be a smart soccer mom type who just had a blind spot.

    Oh, and both the crooked politician doing the blackmailing and the “old boy network” politician who is his target are Democrats because that is a new twist. It also led to an interesting conversation in the story…asking a GOP pol why gay sex leads to blackmail may give you a chance to ride a popular media hobby horse but asking a Democrat politician from a very progressive district why he is leads to a very different scene. Different enough to be more interesting IMHO.

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