Race …. In Space

So the other day I was sitting around the kitchen table with my family, and we talked about the plight of the Saxons after the Norman invasion.  Not, mind you, that we want to forget the special oppression of the Carthaginians and — worse — their Celtic allies when the Romans won the Punic wars and salted Carthage.

Now, the sad part is that my family MIGHT actually sit around and talk about these things.  I know that, you know that, and unfortunately the universe at large probably knows that.  One of the biggest and nastiest fights I had with my then ten year old was about whether the monopolies of Augustus were justified or good or ultimately bad.  I didn’t disown him for defending it, but some days I still feel iffy about this decision.  State-granted monopolies: not even once!  (I also remember my husband’s face when he came down to see what all the shouting was about at 8 am on a Saturday.  “Right, then.  I’m going back to bed.”)

BUT even my family doesn’t obsess about such past injustices, or worry that somehow we haven’t redressed the treatment of these people.  And certainly, unless writing an historical novel, none of us worries about reflecting the Saxon experience in the proper manner.

This makes us odd thinkers — not to mention, of course, racist (and possibly sexist, homophobic and insensitive to those suffering the heartbreak of psoriasis) — in the eyes of establishment SF.

Christopher Nuttall, one of the amazing indie writers I know whose income is the envy of traditional writers, wrote a great editorial for Mad Genius Club.

This came to the attention of the mouth-breathers I won’t link because otherwise we’ll greatly increase their links.

They insist that races in the future must be represented exactly the same way they exist today.  No, more than that, they insist any black people in the future must be written to reflect the “plight” of black people today.

By this, btw, they mean the AFRICAN-AMERICAN experience.  Because they are provincials who think that the stereotypes of their tribe and culture are laws of nature.  In other words, barbarians.  And for all that, they think they are sophisticates, who must lecture everyone on everything, and without whom no one ever would understand the complexity of the world.

These are the same idiots, who in fits of racist idiocy assume that every black person is descended no more than a handful of generations ago from slaves; that any slave is dark skinned; that anyone who tans is discriminated against/and/or needs benevolent protectors.

They don’t realize there are endless countries in which the majority can tan, countries where no one is being oppressed by “white people” because there simply aren’t enough white people.  Oh, sure, their rulers might have learned to mouth the platitudes of being oppressed by the west and of “colonialism” which translates to free trade in which you didn’t get everything you wanted, because such platitudes open the pockets of various UN sub-entities. But in the end, at the bottom of it, these people if they are oppressed are oppressed by people of their race, not because of their race but for other reasons.

They also don’t realize that what are considered races or even ethnicity in this present day and age won’t be the ones who obsess people in the future.

Get humans off the Earth and have travel between planets even mildly expensive, and in a hundred years you’ll have the Alpha Centaurians looking down on the Martians. Another 500 years and people from systems we don’t have a name for will brag of their direct Earth ancestry.

Will there be physical, recognizable differences we can think of as “races”?  Given adaptation to different environments and all, probably.

Will they obsess on racial differences and histories on Earth?  WHY would they?

But Sarah, you’ll say, you’re missing the whole point of science fiction, which is to reflect our current problems and help people question current situations, and think their way out of them.

Um.

I refuse to say that’s THE point of science fiction.  It can be A point, but it’s certainly not the one that convinced me to sign on to read much less write it.

I signed on to read and write SF/F because it’s fun to imagine what the future might be like.  But that’s beside the point.

If what you really wanted to do was reflect the current disputes at people in order to change their minds, what is the point of reflecting current disputes in exactly the way they are now?

For that, you could be doing present day literary fiction.  Or, you know, editorials.  I mean, if what you want to do is write about current day problems in exactly the way they are.

Or you could…. you know… get under people’s guards by creating a future generation that has some elements of the current problems, but not all of them.  i.e. You could create a situation that has just enough to make you think of things in a different way.  Say, you can write a world in which reproduction and sex are entirely divorced as a way to address the problems of sexual minorities in our current world, and get people to think about it sideways and outside the box, without bringing up the same instinctive and immediate responses.  Or it could be that you have the story of a racial minority that has been discriminated against or used as a political pawn and therefore has had its culture destroyed, and their struggle to free themselves of other people’s expectations… but make them purple.  Or have tentacles.  Or something.

This is much more likely to get around people’s baked-in prejudices and make them think of things in a new way than just pounding them over and over again with your vision of things as they are now, or as you think they are now, or even as you think they should be.

That really is eliminating the one advantage of science fiction.

So, when people are writing an oppressed minority, should they research?  If it’s science fiction? Should it be exactly like the experience of some race in our time?

Well, yes and no.  Of course you should research, and of course there are far worse things that happened to races and people of various kinds, throughout history.   And if you’re going to torture one of your characters, or a group of them, you want to do the worst possible thing to them, right?

But it shouldn’t be exactly like the experience of a race or minority of our time.  Because if you do, you might as well just shout at your readers and tell them to repent.  It’s a great way to signal your virtue, yeah, but other than that I’m at a loss for what you think you’re accomplishing.

And if you think that your only way to be oppressed, the only history of race oppression, the only way things can be awful is the way they are now?

Well, (shrug), the only funny thing about that is having the ignorant and blinkered lecturing everyone else and virtue signaling their specialness.

Fortunately such people tend to be ignored in the long run.  And the rest of us have books to write.

 

 

 

325 responses to “Race …. In Space

  1. So what you’re saying is that the SJWs in SF have no imagination. But isn’t that sort of an oxymoron? If they had any imagination or ability to place themselves temporarily in the minds of people different from them (in culture, location, religion, ethnicity, species, etc.), it seems to me that it would be vanishingly unlikely that they would be SJWs in the first place.

    • This might be the real issue with the whole “writing good scifi” thing. If you’re thinking about it deeply enough to write something that can get below someone else’s reflexive defenses….you’ll get below yours, too.

  2. c4c

  3. Man, your debates with your ten year old put my ten year old self to shame. Probably even my present day self, too!

    In an era where many seem hellbent on focusing only on the cause du jour, it’s great to see authors focused on what makes speculative fiction so much fun: the imaginative. I don’t have a problem with themes or messages getting worked into a narrative, but if the entire focus of the narrative is the theme or the message, then I’m out. I’m one of those readers that soapbox authors bemoan when they post about how horrifying it is when their readers and fans just don’t get what they’re trying to do with their earth-shattering, society-changing art.

    And I’m also a writer who just wants to entertain his readers. And make decent money at it, if the Lord is willing.

    • If I want to listen to someone soapbox I’ll read the newspaper or a textbook. When I pick up a novel, I want to be entertained. If I learn something from it as well, so much the better. But if I’m not entertained, I’m not gonna finish the book, so I’m probably not gonna get to the point the author is trying to make either.

    • I’ve had people get the EXACT opposite of the message I meant insofar as I had a message. (Well meaning people, btw) OR ignore the big message and go for something incidental. So, it’s a game I don’t play. IF I mean to do anything besides entertain, it’s to make people THINK. What they think about is their issue.

      • I’ve had people get the exact opposite of what I’m trying to say when I describe a sequence of events in a computer program. If they can do that, they can get anything backwards.

    • I would never debate a 10 year old at 8 in the morning. I usually haven’t had enough coffee at that point to even qualify as conscious, much less as a sentient life form.

      • William O. B'Livion

        I’m usually arguing with my 20 month old at 8 in the morning.

        But that’s mostly about squirrels, rabbits and eating random bits of crap off the ground.

        Of course he’s a 70 pound mutt, so he doesn’t exactly win the argument, but neither do I.

    • I’m hoping that by ten my munchkins will learn moderation in the use of fart jokes.

  4. “Now, the sad part is that my family MIGHT actually sit around and talk about these things. I know that, you know that, and unfortunately the universe at large probably knows that.”

    Why is that sad? My initial reaction to the first paragraph was to take it entirely seriously and think, “Ooh, interesting. Sarah is going to talk to us about early English history.” It’s a perfectly fine thing to be talking about with your kids on a Sunday morning.

    As to the larger point of the post, I definitely agree. Whatever issues of prejudice we have in the future, they won’t be the modern ones. I doubt that the “races” we’re currently so obsessed over will even exist. Some of my least favorite episodes of Deep Space 9 were the ones where they insisted on reminding us that Ben Sisko was BLACK!!! I always thought it would make the point better if we went seven years without even mentioning it.

    • because we spent so much time on this. Our car game when the kids were little was to pop a Shakespeare quote and having other people guess play, act and scene. I can’t even play that now, but until the kids were six I was writing the Shakespeare series and had the plays on constant replay.
      We tend to go off on tangents, and… well… Robert seems to have found someone, but we might have ruined Marshall for the human race.

    • My initial reaction to the first paragraph was to take it entirely seriously and think, “Ooh, interesting. Sarah is going to talk to us about early English history.” It’s a perfectly fine thing to be talking about with your kids on a Sunday morning.

      Ah, but this was a Saturday morning.

      Sunday mornings are fine for addressing historical injustices, but
      Saturday mornings are for planing world domination.

      • As a more technically inclined family, our dinner conversations tended to be more about the tools used for oppression than the oppression itself. Debating the relative merits of catapults vs. trebuchets at a Chinese restaurant was par for the course when I was growing up.

      • …Saturday mornings are for planing world domination.

        I seldom find the need to plane my world domination. I usually just force it into the mold with a hammer.

        • I NEVER plan world domination. I don’t want the job. Endless headaches, countless idiots who “just want a moment of your time, sir”, magazines speculating that your marriage is in trouble.

          Hell, the New York Times nitpicking everything you do, when they demonstrably can’t even run a newspaper.

          Hell, several levels of,responsibility down; there hasn’t been a President elected in my adult life of whom, on election night, I didn’t think “Oh, you poor bastard. You wanted the job, and now you’ve got it.”

          Not even Obama, whom I loathe.

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      Fortunately, that was only two or three episodes in the entire run, from what I’ve seen in my rewatch.

    • SheSellsSeashells

      I once took my six-year-old with me to walk the dogs. We started out by observing canine hierarchy (Smaller Dog feels very damn strongly about his alpha-hood), veered off through classical Greek and thence to hieroglyphs, and through various permutations were neck-deep in caste systems real and fictional by the time we got back. I have no difficulty at all imagining prepubescent political arguments at Casa Hoyt (can I say “casa”? I mean, she IS Mexican, right? Mexican Mormon?)

  5. Will they obsess on racial differences and histories on Earth? WHY would they?

    “All earthlings looks alike.” huh?

    I suppose that explains the times I’ve been mistaken for a gnu or moose or such. Those doing so… were aliens!

  6. What have you got against people who are purple AND have tentacles?! Racist!

    Also, count me among those who think it’s pretty cool you had those kinds of discussions with your 10 y/o. My spawn and I tended towards the ancient historical battle tactics end of things, from Rome to Japan. He’s more of a mil history guy.

    • Are you familiar with the old TV series, “Deadliest Warrior?” Some of the episodes were pretty silly (Vampires vs. Zombies), but others were at least a bit interesting and thoughtful (Viking vs. Samurai, Comanche vs. Mongol, French Foreign Legion vs. Gurkhas).

      • Yup, the Spawn loved that show, though of course he had strong opinions as to whether or not any given mach up went the way he thought it ought to have. He’s a teeeeeny bit opinionated.

      • My son loved that show. Prompted many discussions on weapons, tactics, training, trauma. Even better when I could sometimes break out the weapons used (or their near equivalent) for hands on demonstrations of their utililization.

    • Robert is a Rome guy, mil or no mil. By twelve he’d outstripped my knowledge and kept going.

  7. Also, I really like the linked MGC article… though admittedly part of that is the second quotation due to a certain.. proximity. (And no, Mr. Maynard, I can assure you, is not, as some might put it, “a moo.”)

  8. “I thought Yondu was your father.” …”They look exactly alike.”
    “One’s Blue!”

    Yeah, I think that sums up what the future is going to be like for the current races. What we’re in a tizzy about now won’t hardly be recognized. Sort of like Hutu/Tutsi in central Africa today, or the Catholic/Protestants of 17th Century Europe.

    • Catholics? Protestants? Oh, you mean those Earther retro-Jesus freaks from 500 years ago? You mean they’re still around? I didn’t think any of them went into interstellar colonization.

      • I have to disagree…

        more likely:

        “There was only two???”

        “This was back before the Fifth Reformation when the Neo–Catholics split off and moved to Tau Ceti”

      • Well, duh. Running away from people who told them they couldn’t have three kids.

  9. But race in space is vastly out of place!

  10. “….and we talked about the plight of the Saxons after the Norman invasion.”

    Were you discussing how all english meat words are french while animal words are saxon because the french nobility did not allow peasants to eat meat while being forced to raise them.

    I think it was this blog a few weeks ago where the discussion was about other people being in charge of your access to food and what you allowed to eat, I was reminded that beef, steak, pork and poultry were french words while cow, ox, hen, sheep were anglo saxon words.

    • That discussion at the beginning of Ivanhoe sparked my interest in linguistics.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      I’d like some cites on “French Nobles didn’t allow peasants to eat meat”.

      Now meat was more expensive in earlier times so the “better off” you were, the more likely you would have meat on the table.

      Oh, IIRC Saxon English used “combination words” to describe meats from different animals.

      • “This effects of the post-conquest linguistic class division are most obvious in the realm of cookery. In the 19th-century, the novelist Sir Walter Scott developed one of the most famous distillations of this verbal tension: “The Anglo-Saxon raised the food, the Norman Frenchman ate it.”

        What does this mean exactly? Many of our words for livestock are of Anglo-Saxon origin: “calf,” “cow,” “ox,” “pig,” “hog,” “swine,” and “sheep.” Once these animals pass the threshold of the kitchen, they suddenly become French: “veal,” “beef,” “pork,” and “mutton.” If it wasn’t for the Battle of Hastings, we’d probably be eating swine chops and cow patties.”

        http://historybuff.com/the-norman-invasion-of-england-changed-our-entire-food-vocabulary-ZrYRD63gqmp9

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          The French origins for words in English relating to foods is not in question.

          I asked you for a cite for “French Nobles didn’t allow peasants to eat meat”.

          That’s a question of Law not about linguistics.

          Of course, I want a cite better than the novelist Sir Walter Scott.

        • Drak, it wasn’t FRENCH NOBILITY but the conquering Normans of french origin, in England.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            And I want cites for the Norman Laws involving that.

            • I’m going to weigh in here. I believe I saw something about the reason why beef vs. cow etc. Is that the people selling to the Normans (public houses, butchers and so on) were trying to curry favour with their new lords. Hence the adoption of Norman names for Anglo-Saxon foods and meats.

            • Normans brought feudalism with them to England.

              I can’t find specific % but Norman ruling elite would not have been more than one or two percent of England’s total population and if native Saxon’s were eating full spectrum of meats they would have used their own native words that English speakers would be still using today.

              While I was looking around for proof, I did read something that said peasants were allowed to raise their own chickens, so my assertion about no meat was incorrect. Also, I believe the Normans gave the peasants the parts of animals they didn’t use, so occasionally serf would have piece of cow tendon or pig ligament in their watery soup.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                paladin3001 made a good comment concerning the use of Norman terms for meats and other foods.

                • The problem with paladin3001’s theory is that Norman’s brought feudalism with them to England, not free market economics. The whole country was re-organized so that vast majority of population was forced into serfdom to work for Norman elite. I would like to see some cites that Norman’s elite dealt with publicans and butchers for their daily food or drink.

                  • Didn’t he Saxons have a form of feudalism, with kings, dukes, counts, thegns, yeoman & peasants?

                    Do we have a common definition of feudalism? I confess that most of what I know is from Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles. I will allow that Arthurian tales are hopelessly tainted by later reinvention.

                    • Way I understand it, before Normans, English society had many more rulers and was divided, there were many independent free men who were small farmers and slaves. Slavery was based on old customs where slave was almost part of family and slave owner had obligations towards slave.

                      When Normans arrived, slavery was replaced by serfdom which meant peasants had obligation to work for their lord but elite had no such obligations back to serfs. And many men who were considered free before Normans arrived had their status changed to serf.

                    • That doesn’t sound right– I’m pretty sure that serfs were basically on the same legal standing as slaves, with a gigantic exception that they couldn’t be sold against their will.

                      What you’re describing sounds like what I vaguely remember Russia doing under the same name?

                      Something to keep in mind, a LOT of the information on this stuff isn’t so much false as incomplete– a teacher covering an ancient gov’t is going to hit the high and low points, and counter the stuff that makes Ye Average Kid go “hey, that sounds pretty good” with the low points; people arguing against it are going to hit HARD on the bad points, not the times it worked rather good, considering. (There’s also the flat-out lies, but nobody here is shocked that people lie- it’s the folks who are being honest but not giving the best information for the current application that need explaining!)

                    • Here we go:
                      http://www.lordsandladies.org/feudalism-in-england.htm

                      Looks like they were serfs before, too; it means the guys who have a right to WORK the land, but don’t own it.

                      …incidentally, a form of this heritable possession (not ownership) came down into just beyond living memory, my Scottish ancestors were turned off of “their” land. That would be the parents of the WWII generation. I don’t know many details beyond that it was a rather obvious negation of existing rights.

                    • Basically, the Highland Clearances. The typical small farmer was a tenant rather than a landholder, and the actual owner simply refused to extend the lease because they could make more money by going all sheep; livestock raising requires fewer hands on a given acreage, especially in marginal farmland like the Scottish Highlands.

                    • “dukes, counts, thegns”

                      No, they had earls. The rest were imported. Which is why the feminine of “earl” is “countess.”

                    • You sure?

                      The precursor of the thegn was the gesith, the companion of the king or great lord, a member of his comitatus, and the word thegn began to be used to describe a military gesith.

                      It is only used once in the laws before the time of Aethelstan (c. 895-940), but more frequently in the charters. H. M. Chadwick says that “the sense of subordination must have been inherent in the word from the earliest time”, but it has no connection with the German/Dutch dienen, to serve. In the course of time it extended its meaning and was more generally used. The thegn became a member of a territorial nobility, and the dignity of thegnhood was attainable by those who fulfilled certain conditions. The nobility of pre-Conquest England was ranked according to the heriot they paid …

                      [SNIP]

                      The thegn was inferior to the ætheling, the member of a kingly family, but he was superior to the ceorl, and, says Chadwick, “from the time of Æthelstan the distinction between thegn and ceorl was the broad line of demarcation between the classes of society”. His status is shown by his weregild. Over a large part of England this was fixed at 1200 shillings, or six times that of the ceorl. …

                      [SNIP]

                      The twelve senior thegns of the hundred play a part, the nature of which is rather doubtful, in the development of the English system of justice. By a law of Aethelred they “seem to have acted as the judicial committee of the court for the purposes of accusation,” and thus they have some connection with the grand jury of modern times.

                      In Domesday Book, OE þegn has become tainus in the Latin form, but the word does not imply high status. Domesday Book lists the taini who hold lands directly from the king at the end of their respective counties, but the term became devalued, partly because there were so many thegns.
                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thegn

                      Duke and Count from Duc and Comte, I will concede.

                • Thing to remember is that meat wasn’t that abundant in ANY peasant’s diet. Period. And despite display banquets, I don’t know how abundant it was for noblemen. Critters aren’t that easy to raise in ABUNDANCE.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    True but I also think jwl has strange ideas about feudalism. 😦

                    • Um… feudalism is pretty sucky, in anyway you dice it. No, seriously.

                    • Meh. It beats anarchy and most of the systems preceding it. It’s simply never been attempted by the right people.

                      I think this may now be my go-to counter-argument for the “Communism’s just never been attempted by the right people” argument.

                    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                      Not a nice system but IIRC didn’t work (at least in England) the way he’s seeming to think.

                      Then there’s the problem of “did the Normans have enough troops to completely change the way of life of the English?”

                      I doubt that they did because if they did, English would just be another version of French. 👿

                  • they didn’t have herds of cattle? What about hunting?

                    • Oh, sure, they had herds of cattle, Emily, what they didn’t have was enough cattle to kill and have meat. Most cattle were either work or milk and often both.
                      Hunting was restricted to the noblemen who owned the “preserve.”

                    • But again, you would have the period about now where the farmer basically guessed how many cows (and one bull) he could feed through the winter and slaughtered the rest. Yes, they would salt down, smoke, etc. as much as they could, but people brought in to help would typically get paid in meat.

                      Most people wouldn’t see much, and it took an America with millions of square miles of land that were best used for grazing to make beef a more common thing.

                  • Which is one reason hunting was the jealously guarded noble privilege it was. Robin Hood being outlawed for killing the King’s deer was absolutely a thing.

                    • Dang. I wanting the King of Id shouting “Curse you, you dirty robbing hood!”


                      But this is the best I could find.

                  • “Some hae meat and cannae eat. Some nae meat but want it. We hae meat and we can eat and sae the Lord be thankit.” – Robert Burns?

                    This popped up as one of those “family prayers before meals” periodically in my childhood.

              • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                The low percentage of French-Speaking Norman Lords is why England speaks English “tainted” with French words/term not a variation of French. 😉

                IMO what happened in terms of food terms (and some other terms) was the French terms became the terms used by the upper-class (including the remaining Saxon upper-class) and thus became the terms used by the educated class.

                Of course, as Paladin suggested, anybody doing business with upper-class customers would use the terms that their customers would prefer.

                Thus, the French terms would “enter” the middle-class (non peasants, non-nobles).

                Over time, the original Saxon terms would be seen as what the “uneducated/stupid” folks used so those terms “just died out” from non-use.

                • Except that the Anglo-Saxons managed to utterly replace the Celtic languages while remaining a small percentage of the population. Certainly a minority.

                  • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

                    Well, according to “Our Magnificent Bastard Tongue” by John McWhorter, the English Language was strongly influenced by the Celtics living under the Anglo-Saxons.

                    There are common features in English that don’t exist in other Germanic languages or Romantic languages.

              • Just for the sake of being pedantic, chickens ain’t meat, they’re fowl.

              • Only if they could afford to eat it regularly– which isn’t very probable up until recently. The US was much better off materially than they were back then, and until we got refrigeration it was a fancy indulgence to have chicken for Sunday dinner.

                You have to have a pretty big population of the animals to harvest enough of the meat to do much with.

                Hm, another angle just came to mind– religion. Who was explaining to folks what you could eat during Lent?

                • A fancy indulgence to have chicken for Sunday dinner? Why? Even if you discount not working on Sunday due to religious observance, they really didn’t mind eating a chicken that had been killed the day before back then.

                  • Sigh. Chickens were hard to raise, even when I was a kid. It’s very easy to have your whole batch die for no reason.

                    • And most people were raising chickens for eggs, not meat. Meat was when you had a hen that couldn’t lay eggs any more, or a spare rooster.

                      “Dora, when we have enough chicks that I’m sure of a rooster, we’ll have rooster and dumplings with him as the guest of honor. Not before.” — Lazarus Long

                    • Very true. If you want to keep diseases at a minimum, they have to be kept in an enclosures to keep wild birds out, and not allowed to get out and scratch for bugs and seeds. The coop has to be kept clean of poop and old chicken feed, and they need lots of fresh water. Damn dumb birds have a tendency to poop in their water and food.

                      About 50 chickens is the maximum one person can reasonably have time to take care of, unless you are a full time chicken farmer…..

                    • I have a friend living in a hobbit house in Montana*. This year, she lost most of her chickens due to them suddenly going crazy and slaughtering each other (apparently, that’s something that can happen when you have the weather changing too much too quickly) this spring, and then she lost another batch due to a bear. I don’t know if she’s replaced that batch, because that’s when the state started burning down and there’s too much smoke in her area to really be healthy for anyone.

                      *It’s seriously beautiful—at least the parts they’ve finished. Unfortunately, custom doors are apparently hard to weatherproof properly.

                    • Contra experience – of course, Dad ran a farm store in a small town (1950’s), so we always had chicks coming in every spring for various customers – but we raised 50 every year without a lot of fuss or dying-off. Big job for us to kill, feather, and for Mom to butcher, but we had our Sunday dinners taken care of. (this is back in the days when most towns had frozen food-locker businesses, where you could rent sufficient space to carry your larger meat, etc. purchases inexpensively.)

                    • My mom would do 100– but I’d guess going from chick to butcher for meat, with modern birds, is rather different than either raising them year-round or attempting to raise for meat with pre-well-bred chickens.

                    • plus no feed — our chickens got leftovers, same as the dogs and cats — and illnesses and…

                  • 365 chickens a year is a lot harder than 52.

                    • Guess I misunderstood. I thought the implication was that 52 (one for each Sunday) was fancy.

                      I have no idea how many chickens my father’s family raised, but then they had considerably more land than a typical peasant in Medieval Europe, and they owned their cows (4 at a time, I think – not for eating, just for milk. They sold the cream and kept the skim), their pigs (unknown number), and their chickens.

                      Now, when my father was raising chickens where I live now (on one acre), he raised a hundred fryers a year, but I think he had several that he kept just for the eggs, as well.

                    • Not so much fancy as a sign of being pretty well off– like eating beef was for the Irish, that birthed “corned beef.”

                      My mom use to do something like your dad– we’d get 100 fryer-roosters and raise them– but that’s with modern technology. It’s possible to break them up so that being bottom of the pecking order isn’t deadly, for starters! But that’s with formulated feed, dedicated pens, heck, I’m trying to imagine their reaction to my grandmother’s chicken coop’s metal alone….

                      Dang it, now you have me trying to describe chicken netting (you know, the twisted wire stuff) in terms that would make sense back then.

                    • I don’t know if dad used chicken wire or not. I kind of doubt it, actually. He probably did buy some corn, though it’s possible that the neighbor let him grow enough for the birds. This would have all been in the late 50s/early 60s, before I was born, or at least before I was old enough to notice. It’s possible that he just kept them in the chicken house that he built, rather than letting them run. I do know that he had an incubator, but that, and keeping an electric light on in the building to keep the hens laying in the winter, are all the modern items I’m sure of.

                    • There’s some really inexpensive stuff you can put in the water if one of the chickens looks sickly, too– or at least you could a decade back, I seem to remember that took a hit in the superbug freak-out, even though it’s not hitting human related bugs.

                      My grandmother was…not prone to changing…and she’d do things like take hot mash to the chickens; cost pennies, saved dollars, might have gotten into the habit with her husband’s pigeons. (He’d been dead five years by the time I was awake early enough to notice and care about the pot of boiling water going out the door, and hadn’t had pidgeons for several years before that, but I did mention that’s where I get some of my pig-headed, yes?)

                    • It is fancy to have 52. Heck I don’t think we managed that as a kid.

                  • fancy indulgence to have chicken for Sunday dinner?

                    ‘Cause if you eat all your chickens for dinner, there’ll be no egg money for needful things later.

                    There’s a reason that “A chicken in every pot” was a successful electioneering slogan once upon a time.

                    • There’s a reason that “A chicken in every pot” was a successful electioneering slogan once upon a time.

                      Just as they now promise “Pot for every chicken.”

                  • Chickens are for eggs, not food. There is in fact some Renaissance-era writing about ordinary vs. extraordinary care, and the writer says that even if the doctor orders you to, you don’t have to eat expensive and hard-to-get foods, like chicken, instead of cheap and easy, like eggs.

                    • Pigeons were a principle meat bird for a reason. You could set them free to feed themselves but be fairly certain of their roosting spots, and for birds, they’re pretty meaty.

                    • Rather like other period farm animals – i.e. you keep sheep for the wool, not the mutton. Having mutton is for a celebrations, lamb chops is an extravagance.

            • er… I only know the fiction from the early 20th century about the period.
              It might not have been laws so much as supply control. THEY became the overlords.

              • I can see that. The barons did manage their domains, including what crops to invest “their” dependents’ (serfs and freemen alike) duty time in; and since wives and older children worked in the fields with the men, there wasn’t a whole lot of time for raising chickens and pigs in the back yard during your private, non-duty time. As I understand it (mostly from a bit later peasantry) during good years, most families did raise some meat privately, or trade for it.

                • Actually, given feed and water, chickens and pigs do just fine with surprisingly minimal labor if you’re not raising large numbers for market. The bottleneck would be the feed.

                  • Exactly – quantity’s the issue. I had time in high school to bike out to the edge of town and care for a couple of sows, morning & night — but caring for a small herd of 20 would have been right out!

      • Ditto, even if the facts match the claim on word origins it could be explained by basically being escaped jargon– the French had more supply routes, so their cooking would be fancier, which means more stuff to teach, which means even plain cooks are going to get infected by the “fancy” terms.

  11. I must be doing it wrong. I read SF&F for fun and entertainment. To escape from my day to day problems. Not for cognizant social commentary. I find those who obsess about it as social commentary sad, just sad. They have the wrong idea of what it is.

    • Yeah, that’s part of it. But only a part. They also think present conditions are the eternal thing forever. It colors their view of both past and future.

      • As it is, so it has always been, and so it shall be evermore, world without end, Amen.

      • They also think present conditions are the eternal thing forever.

        Doesn’t that mean the problems are incurable and remediation impossible?

        • Perhaps they see themselves as Sisyphus?

        • Good! Then they don’t have to fudge up another grievance to keep their jobs as grievance mongers. (You don’t expect them to go back to quotidian life, doing quotidian good deeds? Those cost time and money and don’t give you half the moral egoboo.)

      • Which makes no sense what so ever. The whole point of talking about the future is that the future will be different, otherwise it’s called the present. To believe that current prejudices and concerns about race would survive interstellar space flight is just plain stupid. Even today, the whole concept of race is losing what meaning it had. So no, I don’t believe a 24th century African American be thinking much about BLM.

        • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

          Why would anybody in the 24th century use the term “African American”?

          People in our time have gotten strange looks (or worse) when they call a British Black (for example) an African-American. 👿

          • It is hilarious watching our TV announcers seemingly literally unable to pronounce the word “Black.”

            I expect to read in Scientific American about the new discoveries astronomers have made about African-American holes any day now…

          • My grandmother takes a wicked delight in informing people her granddaughter married an African American. (Casually neglecting to tell them Peter’s skin colour, or country of origin.)

            My brother, on the other hand, has been known to wait until other people in his squadron come back from a hitch in Djibouti or points nearby, and say “You know how crazy those guys are? My sister’s so crazy she married one of ’em!” (Casually neglecting to mention that the only thing in common between Djibouti natives and Peter is sharing a continent of origin.)

        • To believe that current prejudices and concerns about race would survive interstellar space flight is just plain stupid.

          Their prejudices and concerns seem impervious to facts and logic, able to survive countless collisions with Reality.

      • Which is to say, they are semi-literate at best. Of course by my gradfather’s standards, so am I. I only speak or read one language, and never progressed to calculus. But the SJWs are worse off than I am. They apparently can’t (or won’t) do simple math, and they don’t read the language of their birth at all well.

        As for their writing….

      • It is the same exact problem I see with environmentalist no conservationists. Basically they insist on seeing the world as an unchanging painting.

        They don’t see now as a moment in time but instead see the moment in time as the eternal now. The once and future now. I had not realized it was a fundamental problem with socialism / progressivism.

        • And it takes the Yellowstone fires to get their attention that maybe the eternal unchanging now isn’t how nature operates… Even then, a lot of ’em can’t abstract that concept to an area larger than the immediate devastation they cause.

    • Not sure where this came from, but I blame it on fatigue:

      Once upon a time there was a perplexed Derba zookeeper. A survey team had sent him a collection of humans, and he had absolutely no idea what to do with them. For one thing, while the survey team had through they were a diverse sampling, they had, unfortunately collected most of the same; what the team took for plumage was the dress they wore for a ceremony where they worshiped a cylindrical idol. As the language was simple by Derba standards, it had taken him no time at all to become fluent, and he set about making his new specimens happy.

      Except he couldn’t. Though they were all practically the same, they insisted they were all different, and when he pointed out they weren’t, they called him a “fascist,” a term he could comprehend but apparently they didn’t, and something called a “Sad Puppy,” an idiom he didn’t grasp at all. When they demanded diversity in writing, he gladly introduced them to the other specimens, only to be told that wasn’t the same thing at all. It seemed to all go well when some other specimens, out of politeness, acquiesced to their demands. Yet when they insisted on worshiping their idol and handing out awards, the winners were suspiciously all human. Whereupon the other specimens said “You and the glork you swam in on,” and went back to their own vibrant writing communities and paid the humans no attention at all.

      It all worsened after that. The humans became more strident, and such a nuisance that the poor Derba was tempted to space the lot of them. And then, in an epiphany, he knew exactly what to do.

      He closed off the humans from the other specimens, with an AI set up to value everything these humans claimed, told them they had added more humans to the collection, and allowed contact only through the most primitive of devices. The new specimens immediately became boisterous. They railed against the other “humans” as “fascists” and “Sad Puppies,” and congratulated themselves on how diverse their group of similar humans were, and wrote stories that told of how they were wonderful folk and how terrible the “other humans” were, and ranted and jeered and mocked – and were perfectly happy.

      Then the Derba, satisfied, left the new specimens to themselves. And they all lived happily ever after.

    • Tom, that’s because you are a wrongfan having wrongfun. Welcome to the Horde. 🙂

  12. So, when people are writing an oppressed minority, should they research?
    Absolutely. Because then you can give things an intelligent twist. You can’t twist properly if you don’t know how they “should” be laid out normally.

    It’s a great way to signal your virtue, yeah, but other than that I’m at a loss for what you think you’re accomplishing.
    Well, duh. That’s the whole point. It’s not even so much about changing minds as it is demonstrating what a good boy you are.

    Think of the parable of the Good Samaritan. It begins with the lawyer “justifying himself” by asking “Who is my neighbor?” He’s virtue signaling. He’s saying “Hey, I’ve loved my neighbor – for certain values of ‘neighbor’ in the law, and I’m sure this learned rabbi will make that apparent.” (Of course, the rabbi turns things upside down on the lawyer, as He is wont to do.)

    • And He tailors the ordnance to the mission: some get a whip of small cords, some just the lash of His tongue….

  13. Now, the sad part is that my family MIGHT actually sit around and talk about these things.

    Sad? What is sad about that?

    • My family was more economically oriented. Samuelson vs. Friedman.

      • Be it history, current events, or what have you Daddy and I debated. I recall this as early as when I was five. If we had nothing else to debate Daddy would suggest a hypothetical situation.

        One day Momma, who had sat quietly through years of this, stopped us and asked us why must we always be arguing. We hadn’t thought of it that way, we thought of it as fun.

      • Um… today my dad was telling me about using aquanet as a carrier for applying lacquer thinner to a moen valve’s rubber seal, in order to unstick it and allow for easy removal.

        We may have touched on fluid dynamics, surface tension, most common failure methods in ice makers (valve stem stuck in the off position due to “crud” catching there), the necessity to use specialty brushes on refrigerator coils due to the brittleness of aluminum fins, random tangents on the material properties of gaskets in use for undersea data cables, creative financing for properties, the returns involved in the private note-selling market (yes, you too can buy a mortgage note; Freddie Mac and Fannie May & major banks do not have exclusive rights to that market. But few people realize this or educate themselves enough to do so), the difference between the movie “The Big Short” and the even-more-complicated reality, the challenges of securing beehives in hurricanes, how to change the direction you turn the shower knob to get the water to come out (there’s a valve. If installed upside down, you’ll end up turning the hot water knob in the shower backwards in order to turn the water on. Permanent solution: turn off the water supply upstream, drain the water as best you can, then get in and flip the valve the correct way around. Temporary solution: get a grease pencil and mark it so guests aren’t surprised.)

        And the usefulness of penetrating oil as an undectable method of sabotaging a car. And that Alton Brown’s cookbook for baking is an excellent way to suck young minds into physics and chemistry without them realizing it.

        …These are normal daddy-daughter conversations, right?

        • “Permanent solution: turn off the water supply upstream, drain the water as best you can, then get in and flip the valve the correct way around. Temporary solution: get a grease pencil and mark it so guests aren’t surprised.”

          Or you can do like far too many hotels I’ve stayed in and leave it the way it is….. one combined that with connecting both the hot and cold knobs to the hot water line for the sink

        • …These are normal daddy-daughter conversations, right?

          Sounds like it to me.

          Still, with only real knowledge of my own family — how would I know?

  14. This came to the attention of the mouth-breathers I won’t link because otherwise we’ll greatly increase their links.

    O.K., I get this. We don’t want to increase their presence. Still my under-caffeinated brain is spinning like a pin ball.

    Hey, don’t we want to make sure their chains hold so they don’t get out and do more damage?

    No, no, no! Shouldn’t we want to see them freed of the chains of oppressive progressive leftist right-think.

    But they don’t even know the chains they are forging, but sadly someday, like Jacob Marley, they will.

  15. you could be doing present day literary fiction. Or, you know, editorials.

    That’s the only thing they want written, isn’t it? Editorials in which they hector others? They want their news to be editorial, not “straight”. They want editorials in their entertainment, too. They want proper editorials, their editorials, in everything. Dissenting views not permitted because violence. (BTW – did anybody notice the protesters at Ben Shapiro’s speech in Berzerkely? Chanting “Speech is violence. We will not be silenced.” Ah, the benefits of a university education.)

    It wouldn’t be much more than a laugh did they not demand everybody and everything else submit to their cultural imperialism and reflect their inanities.

    • They protest David Mamet as well.

    • analytical-engine-mechanic

      Chanting “Speech is violence. We will not be silenced.”
      +++
      This is actually logical (for certain nonstandard* values of logical).
      No, really, just follow the steps:
      1.   Speech is violence.
      2.   We will not be silenced.
      2a (implicit). (We are speaking.)
      Therefore,
      3.  We are already being violent now, we will be violent in the future, and you will never be able to prevent any of the violence we decide we will do to any or all of you.
      QED.
      (And now all we need is the picture of QED Kitty going “bleh!” from the New Madrid discussions)

      Always nice to get solid, direct-sourced intelligence. So useful for important things like threat assessment and target prioritization.

      *Ref. Abraham Robinson, “Nonstandard Analysis” ca. 1970

  16. I live in a very integrated area, and the thing to remember is that the experiences of one group of people are not the same as the experiences of another group of people even if their heritage is exactly alike. The children of Vietnamese “boat people” (large group in this area) are not going to have similar experiences to immigrants from present-day Vietnam; the folk from Nigeria aren’t going to have the same experiences as the family from Cameroon, even though the countries are adjacent. (Not a random example, either; my kid was friends with triplets whose parents were from Cameroon—and whose mother’s name was Patience. Very appropriate.) My Thai dentist isn’t going to have the same experience as my Filipino priest.

    My parents’ experiences growing up were little like my experiences growing up, even given the same country and presumably the same dominant culture. I can’t imagine how we’d manage to freeze all attitudes permanently in this state.

    • People always think that Blacks come from the ‘hood. The Black Green Lantern is portrayed as coming from a slum. (I’m fed up with euphemisms.) I like to think of of as coming from an upper middle class to upper class background. He became a Marine to serve his country. His trust-fund meant that he could find a job according to interest not salary. Trust-fund because Grandpa was a QB who invested wisely,and Pops invented the best selling whole house remote (It let turn off the light after you were in bed and many other actions.)

    • From dealing with various ‘New Americans’ through law enforcement I’ve found that each generation has quite a different attitude. Most of those who were born and raised in ‘the old country’ come here and are working their arses off to get ahead (many of them do as well. There are quite a few small business owners among the small sample size I’ve interacted with). They lived through the horrors of civil war, ethnic cleansing, and/or toxic Marxism. When we have problems with them is usually a cultural issue like male/female roles or butchering an animal in parking lot or garage of their apartment complex.

      Their kids who were born overseas, usually under some sort of refugee status, are a mixed bag. Some see themselves as oppressed minorities being held down by ‘the man’, some are hellbent on making a better life for themselves, and some are just trying to find some place to fit in.

      Their kids and grand kids born here are often so Americanized through the media that they take on whatever the current media portrayal is (lots of wannabe gang-bangers). Once they get older they tend to just blend in with whatever economic group they fit.

      • Some see themselves as oppressed minorities being held down by ‘the man’

        Given that it is ‘the man’ who is feeding them that particular line of bull excrement, there is a certain validity to their views.

        N.B., it seems beyond argument that ‘the man’ is them what designs public school pedagogy, which is the bull what produces that steaming pile.

  17. Patrick Chester

    No matter where we go, humans are all racist…

  18. But Sarah, you’ll say, you’re missing the whole point of science fiction, which is to reflect our current problems and help people question current situations, and think their way out of them.

    There is a great resistance to anyone who dares question what the current problem that we need to think our way out of might be. Along with insisting on the proper populations in correct proportions, they want the current problems presented in an established manner. Then they also want to make sure that, in the process of ‘thinking a way out’, the questions asked are the ones they deem appropriate and that the proscribed solutions are applied.

    It has the characteristics of propaganda driven writing because that is what it is.

    • Don’t these people even read each other? I mention a series of “rewatches” of Star Trek, the original series, which was considered bold, original, creative, and forward thinking back when it was first produced, but fifty years later, is derided as horribly cheesy, cliched, and badly dated.
      Playing gloom and doom with today’s stereotypes, which are already outdated because they oversimplify yesterday’s reality, is unlikely to produce anything worth reading tomorrow.

  19. Haven’t had time to read more than a paragraph, but I just got a hold of the “dang it I can’t get a song out of my head and I don’t know the song” taht’s been bubbling around.

    Audrey Hepburn: “The raaace….in spaaaace… is all ov-er the place.”
    Rex Harrison: “What was that?”
    Hepburn: “The race, in space, is all over the place.”
    Harrison: “Again!”
    (Continue entire song along these lines; ie, “Where is that blasted race? IN SPAAAACE, IN SPAAAAACE!”)

    • Sing: “Why can’t the leftists teach their children how to think?”

      • *laughs* Nah, that goes against the point of the song– works much better if you do something like….

        “WHY can’t the fannish teach their children how to think? The Womyn think like Womyn, the Geeks comport like Geek–”
        With, of course, no room for anyone who doesn’t “think” as the singer believes is proper. (Why, in America they haven’t spoken it for years.)

        That song always tickled me because it has a point– there are proper ways to speak a language– but it vastly overplayed its hand by an excessively strict view of the area it knew, and a belief that the areas it didn’t know aligned with how it thought it should be, rather than how the entire language it was trying to define actually behaved, when the way to bet would be the opposite.

      • 1) Yes, I have had that view as long as I’ve known the song,
        2) No, it’s not very well phrased, because in my head it’s not in words– more of a sense of delight in how it sets the character up so neatly and…gives you an idea, basically, of who he IS.

      • …oh, blast it, Army! Now you’ve got some gears trying to make a version of the song for college campuses that highlights all the various famous people who don’t think like they’re “supposed” to– do you think Dr. Sowell would appreciate that?
        *grin*

        • analytical-engine-mechanic

          I’d like to nominate Walter Williams, too, recently quoted here on “statuecide.” Longtime economics professor, department chairman, conservative, writer — and realist.
          Long long ago, I got to hear him speak, and even “meet” him before (as in say hello). All through his (excellent) talk, I couldn’t help thinking what the old racists and the new wets (adopted Britspeak for leftists) would think of *that*. How I love it when a stereotype falls apart…

          • *draws a blank on the name, so looks him up*

            Oh, HIM! I have the feeling I’ve seen him on a lot of talk shows, probably ran into his stuff via the Jewish World Review. (I don’t know how they are over-all, but several of the “fail to stay in their box” guys I enjoy are published on that site.)

  20. Monday mornings are for planning world domination. Saturday mornings are for prayer, and Sunday mornings are for political affairs podcasts. I know that you can watch them at any time, but it’s a tradition carried over from the TV era when political affairs were broadcast on Sunday mornings.

  21. c4c

    To the title, I can only say:

    “JEWS IIIINNN SPAAAACE”

  22. It occurs to me these SJWs have infinitely more faith in western civilization than the rest of us, going by their fiction at least. Stuffy, 1950 esque American patriarchy will ALWAYS exist to be (safely) mocked and scandalized by this ‘woke’ fiction. The idea that Western civ might actually fall – and be replaced by something truly horrific – never occurs to em.

    • John Brunner (he of many dystopias) had a particularly grim one where a doctor became obsessed with a patient who (he eventually determined) came from a future where the empire of Western Civilization had fallen and this future was controlled by a tyranny that treated the lower classes (most of the population) as disposable trash. Among other nasty details was a machine that could basically lobotomize somebody without surgery.

  23. richardmcenroe

    Working from memory here:
    BRITTANICUS: Caesar, this is not proper!
    BRUTUS: (Outraged) How!
    CAESAR: Forgive him, Brutus. He is a barbarian, and thinks the customs of his Tiny isle the way of the world.

  24. But Sarah, you’ll say, you’re missing the whole point of science fiction, which is to reflect our current problems and help people question current situations, and think their way out of them.

    That’s not the point….

    Look, during Lent, I frequently give up something fattening.
    This has the result that I, at least in theory, am being healthier. (results vary)

    That is not the point, the point is self-denial. It’s a POSSIBLE BENEFIT, among the many rewards of virtue.

  25. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

    Concerning the Saxons being “oppressed” by the Normans, years ago I read this “folk tale” about a farm-girl who was starting a job as a house-maid for an upper-class woman.

    The upper-class woman proceeds to inform the girl about the “fancy” terms that she must use in the household including terms for the house-cat, the dog, fire, etc (my memory says that the fancy terms were French).

    Well, the dog starts chasing the cat, the cat causes the house to catch fire while the girl is unable to warn anybody because she couldn’t think of the fancy words.

    So the house is completely destroyed. 👿

  26. Of course, the SJWs really hate the classic SF where only the reading between the lines gives any real indication of the race of the protagonist, as they never really describe themselves, only the people they encounter. You know, as if race is not a factor to their advanced human society.

    • They don’t have to describe themselves, as it is well known that in classic SF all authors were white males and people can only write from their own racial & sexual perspective. It is unthinkable that any of these authors (or editors) would attempt to write from the POV of any character not similar to themselves because that would mean they weren’t racist and sexist and it is a given that they were.

      Always remember: the logic goes ’round and ’round and it comes out racist/sexist.

    • Someone was asking for “diverse” space opera, and I thought of Poul Anderson’s “How To Be Ethnic In One Easy Lesson”, where the main character objects he’s descended from everyboy, or Andre Norton’s discussion of entirely new races of mankind. . . .

      I didn’t recommend them.

  27. Sarah said: “This is much more likely to get around people’s baked-in prejudices and make them think of things in a new way than just pounding them over and over again with your vision of things as they are now, or as you think they are now, or even as you think they should be.”

    Yes, well, Sarah is describing what one would do if one valued the audience and wanted them to progress, grow, or even be mildly entertained by one’s work.

    Of late I believe the point has changed. It isn’t about growth, or enjoyment, or even making plain filthy lucre anymore. It is about pounding them over and over again, making them sick to their stomachs and giving them nightmares. The new point of Aht is to make the audience SUFFER!!!!

    What else explains the Hugo nominees and films like “mother!” which is so grotesque even teh New York Times hates it.

    • Given that they claim everything is about power dynamics, it makes sense that their goal is to use Art as boot for the foot with which they kick us.

  28. Well, yes, even in TNG, there weren’t episodes about Geordi being the only black man on the bridge, just about his blindness. Instead, we got wonderfully written episodes on Worf being the only Klingon in Starfleet.

    Unfortunately, it looks like Discorvery is going to be carefully structured socially conscious palp.

    • I wonder if today anyone could do what Third Rock from the Sun did in an episode about race. Bitingly funny, because the aliens didn’t really pick up on difference in race.

  29. Right – smoke ’em if you’ve got ’em:

    Light Another Cigarette and Learn to Forget
    By Sarah Hoyt
    A conversation with a friend this weekend brought up the fact that the “obesity epidemic” coincides almost exactly with the war on smoking, and the more strides on the war on smoking (tobacco) we make the fatter people get.

    Now, this might be a concomitant and not a causative correlation. There are many other reasons for the growing girth of the masses, including but not limited to our eliminating intestinal parasites, the vanishing number of occupations that require the actual sweat of your brow, the widespread use of motor transportation, and yep, the increased availability and low-priced of food.

    However, nicotine is an appetite suppressant.

    It also seems to have other side effects like increasing concentration and combating ADHD.

    I’m not going to argue there’s no correlation between the use of traditional cigarettes as methods of nicotine delivery and lung cancer though I will maintain that effect is virtually nonexistent with vapor methods of nicotine delivery.

    I’m also going to point out that the same people who more or less endlessly harp on the evils of tobacco smoke, and pass ever more restrictive smoking legislation, including infringing on the property rights of restaurant and bar owners — done in the name of (ill-defined, unproven and possibly wholly made up) second-hand-smoke effects — tend to be supporters of pot legalization and will go to any lengths to explain away the fact that inhaling the smoke of burning vegetation is carcinogenic no matter what that vegetation is.

    Before I go further I’ll state my biases:

    [END EXCERPT]

    • My father died of lung cancer (a dozen years of not smoking was not enough to erase the effects of decades spent smoking before that) and I think the crusade against vaping is flat-out BONKERS. Nicotine is one of the hardest substances to kick, and I would much rather someone put one or two toxic substances than 50 or 60 or whatever the carcinogen count is. Yeah, people are going about it the wrong way—using vaping to get into cigarettes—but don’t freaking take away the best de-escalation tool out there.

      Connie Willis’ book Bellwether had it right about aversion fads.

      • Additional insights into the stupidity available here:

        Vaping, #Science and Public Health Vaping, #Science and Public Health
        By Andrew Stuttaford — September 18, 2017

        New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio plans to make things easier for cancer by making things more difficult for vapers.

        As John Tierney explained in a recent article for the Wall Street Journal that’s bad news for New Yorkers:

        Since the electronic cigarette arrived around 2010, the rate of smoking in America has plummeted. Yet progressive do-gooders are now throwing tobacco a lifeline. Last month New York Mayor Bill de Blasio signed new restrictions on e-cigarettes. A limited number of vendors will need licenses to sell them, and vaping will be banned from many apartment common areas. This will only push smokers away from the most promising method for kicking their deadly habit.

        De Blasio’s behavior is, however, just another example of a wider problem in public health, one with implications that extend far beyond Gotham. In a much longer article for August’s City Journal, Tierney took a closer look.

        Some extracts:

        Less than 15 percent of Americans realize that vaping is much less risky than smoking, while nearly half mistakenly think that vaping is as harmful as, or more harmful than, smoking—meaning that millions of smokers have been dissuaded from making a switch that could prolong their lives. The public-health establishment has become a menace to public health.

        Tierney sets out the mission creep that has characterized the public health establishment’s definition of its agenda, a mission creep that has generated plenty of jobs for those who have signed up for it and, of course, plenty of opportunities to proclaim one’s own virtue by bossing other people around.

        [SNIP]

        There’s plenty in the piece to consider, including a welcome de-demonization of nicotine and a discussion of the beneficial effects of Swedes’ fondness for snus (a form of smokeless tobacco treated in such a way that it appears to eliminate or avoid carcinogens).

        Swedish men have the highest rate of smokeless tobacco use in Europe—and, not coincidentally, the lowest rates of smoking and smoking-related diseases. It’s estimated that 350,000 lives would be saved annually if the rest of Europe followed Sweden’s example. But instead of encouraging this trend, the European Union has banned snus everywhere except Sweden, preferring the same prohibitionist approach as America.

        #EUValues

        [SNIP]

        But out of this mess may come political opportunity

        Now that Republicans control the White House and Congress, they have a chance to combine sound science with smart politics on vaping. Grover Norquist, the influential Republican strategist who runs Americans for Tax Reform, has discovered that vapers are much different from smokers, whom he found impossible to mobilize against cigarette taxes. Vapers don’t feel guilty about their habit. They show up at rallies and volunteer in campaigns that have helped block e-cigarette taxes and defeat anti-vaping Democrats in local and state elections. “The Democrats have made an unforced error,” Norquist says. “They’ve poked a hornets’ nest. There are 10 million vapers in America, and that demographic will easily double in the next decade.”

        Norquist wants the Republicans to use vaping as a wedge issue against Democrats, particularly among younger voters. Vapers are part of what he calls the Leave Us Alone Coalition, which includes gun owners, users of Uber and Airbnb, homeschoolers, and others with firsthand exposure to Democrats’ big-government policies. Vape shops, like gun shows, have become an informal network for spreading the word. “Vapers look in the mirror and feel virtuous,” Norquist says. “They’ve quit smoking, or at least cut back. They’re doing the right thing for themselves and their families, and now these contemptuous nanny-state jerks want to take away the products that are saving their lives. Believe me, this is a vote-moving issue.”

        Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson was expected to lose his reelection bid last November, but he pulled off an upset with the help of vaper-led rallies, volunteer work, and donations…

        How much difference that really made, I don’t know, but, judging by this video, at least something….

        Read the whole thing.

        • It’s interesting to see who’s opposing vaping. I started about 3 years ago to try and kick a decades old cigarette habit. I haven’t had a cigarette now for over one year. I have been following the crusaders trying to ban or restrict the sale of e-cigarettes and it’s illuminating. None are using science, all are using emotions, all are crying about “the children” and all of them are statist progressives.
          Most telling video I saw was a debate between a spokesperson from the Canadian Heart and Stroke foundation and an Ottawa professor who had been researching vaping. The H&S person was shrill, shrieking about gateway devices, children (won’t someone think of the children) and how it was a bigger evil than cigarettes. While the professor was calm, measured, and backing up all his statements with FACTS. Liberal governments have classified (or are trying to) classify e-cigarettes and related products as tobacco. I kid you not.
          So here I am no longer smelling of stale smoke, no longer hacking up a lung every morning, and enjoying the return of taste and smell. Who do you think I trust or believe in this matter?

      • Nicotine is also MUCH better for ADHD than the stuff they put people on. Just saying.

        • It is useful to consider that for pre-modern man tobacco smoke was pretty much the only effective insect repellent. Lifespans being what they were, insect-borne disease was far more likely to kill you than cancer, emphysema or any other smoking-related cause.

          I suspect those children prone to allergic reaction to tobacco smoke, peanuts or other allergen-related condition were not likely to reach adulthood under almost any circumstance, even in a non-smoking community.

          • I suspect my allergy to feathers, in a house where we raised chickens was part of why my childhood was near-fatal.

          • It’s also worth noting that they’ve established that NOT exposing your kids to peanuts in the womb is correlated with more and worse peanut allergy– I also noticed that the only one of my kids that responded to mommy drinking coffee was the first one, with whom I mistakenly believed that study about coffee being related to miscarriage. (Actual result, on further study: avoiding coffee is related to morning sickness, which has an inverse correlation to miscarriage. My husband was torn between joy at knowing I wasn’t going to avoid it anymore, and annoyance that he had to deal with decaffeinated me….)

        • What I find hilarious about ADHD is when people say that since adults “aren’t medicated”, they’ve grown out of it. Yet caffeine is an effective medication for ADHD, so obviously most adults with ADHD are self-medicating.

          • I once read that adults with ADHD often drink 10-50 cups of coffee per day.

            Yes, 50. I was shocked at that number, too, so I remembered it.

            • I’ve hit 20 at times.

            • What’s the measure of a cup? I typically drink a pot of coffee in the morning before I go anywhere. Or as I typically quip, “Coffee! Keeping me out of prison successfully for over 40 years….”

              • The article didn’t say whether they were using the standard 6oz coffee cup or an 8oz measuring cup, but I suspect the former, since that’s how coffee pots are measured.

                Which puts me in the range of 12 cups a day, as I often get three 24-oz cups , although those are not full of coffee, but have a certain amount of sweeteners and creamer added.

              • *Snickers* I had a nurse that was obsessed with how much water I was drinking.

                We had a five minute long accidental stand-up routine based on me answering THE ACTUAL QUESTION when she asked how much water I was drinking.
                She’d asked it the month before, so I kept track of it by filling a 4 cup bottle and drinking from that, and actually measuring out my coffee mugs then picking the ONE that went into exact cups evenly, and keeping track of that.

                sample: “how many cups of water are you drinking?” “Ten cups.” “What size?” “A cup.” “But what size of cup.” “They are a cup. Literally, a cup.” “But what size of cup?” “….exactly a cup. I-” “WHAT SIZE OF CUP?” “A CUP. IMPERIAL.” “What SIZE of IMPERIAL-“

            • *Sits a sec, figures a cup is likely either a 6 oz “normalized” cup because of adding creamer and such, or an 8 oz “a freaking cup, didn’t you hear what I said” cup*

              Most in-use coffee cups are 12 to 18 oz, we’ll say two servings of actual coffee for ease of use.

              That’d make the high end servings of coffee being 25.

              Keep in mind, the suggested serving *per cup* is usually equal or 2/3 of what is actually used *per pot* in real life.

              I can totally see a fairly normal person getting coffee two or three times an hour before noon– three wasn’t even “dang, they drink a lot of coffee” in my office. Might be bad samples, we’re AT(I).

              9-5, figure you stop coffee a noon, that would be 12 double-servings, or 24 cups not counting anything before the office.

          • Raises hand. Represent.

          • Oh yeah. I know of one gal who know just which energy drinks to use as an “almost” substitute when/if her medication runs out.

          • Yep. Between 1 and 2 2-liter bottles of Diet Mountain Dew per day self-medicating…..

            • So when you hear me say “Too much blood in the caffeine stream” I mean exactly that. I might manage to be the only non-Vulcan to bleed green before I’m done.

    • “…(ill-defined, unproven and possibly wholly made up) second-hand-smoke effects…” — sorry, I’ll have to disagree with this, even though I’ve also heard the theory on Rush’s show. Y’see, my wife is pretty allergic to second-hand tobacco smoke – I’ve seen the physical reactions too many times, even after she thought there was nothing much in the air, or the only source was smoke-infused paint & upholstery in ye local restaurant. Makes her sick, it does, for most of a day with decreasing effect thereafter.
      Also – sufficient number of our acquaintances having reported similar, but milder effects, which they don’t complain about because of conflict avoidance, makes me guess 5% or so of all people probably have some health effect from 2nd-hand smoke.
      So… vaping, probably just fine. Smoke: keep it in your own house or car, or businesses that advertise being smoker friendly; don’t pollute the commons.
      Not that I’m opinionated or anything…

      • “Second-hand smoke” effects are not referring to allergies, but claims that breathing said second-hand smoke is just as bad, if not worse, than being a smoker yourself, for long-term health reasons, such as emphysema and lung cancer.

        As for allergies, if you go down that route, you have to eliminate almost everything from the commons because of potential allergic reactions, just as they have eliminated peanut butter and some other previously-common things from school cafeterias.

        Yes, allergies are a serious drag on quality of life, but unless it’s a place people are forced to go, such as government buildings like the DMV, then establishments should not be forced to bar smokers, or any allergic reaction-inducing product, from their place of business.

        • Wayne – I hadn’t heard that limit on “second-hand smoke effects”, at least as a common definition. Given it, I understand your position and, as a general public-health argument, probably agree.
          However, ignoring allergies because (exaggerating slightly) everything can cause an allergy in someone isn’t right, either.
          When you can’t get out of a car without holding your breath while walking a significant distance, because 50ft away upwind there’s a few people smoking outside the door of a business, it’s big enough impact to wish people would just keep it out of the common air we all must breathe. Instead, smokers are encouraged to assume it will dissipate so quickly nobody will be “bothered”. I.e. treating it as just a courtesy rather than a health problem – which problem is I think worsened by the general disparagement of whether second-hand smoke is a health problem.

          • But where do you draw the line? How many people does something have to affect, and how strongly, before you start saying, “You should keep that out of the common area”? My niece’s son is one of those that is so allergic to peanuts that she can’t have peanut butter in the house, but should she demand that no one have it in open-air cafes?

            Again, I know how allergies affect people, but at what point do we start curtailing the activities of others to avoid distressing them?

            • Good question. Similarly, I have a co-worker who’s allergic, not to peanuts but rather to tree nuts of most kinds; and its an inhalant/fragrance allergy, which affects her breathing. So, where she really can’t just “avoid it” because it’s at work, we all keep them out of at-work foods and an eye out for newcomers that don’t know.

              I’d like to think good information (e.g. that second-hand-smoke-pseudoscience is NOT the same as a significant number of people having inhalant allergies to tobacco smoke) plus a general social more of avoiding doing harm to others with our discretionary pleasures, would be sufficient — laws, and law-like penalties such as shunning, do not work as well.

              • FYI medical professionals say inhalant allergies to nuts don’t actually exist. What exists is psychosomatic certainty they exist.

                • Not that it makes you feel any better when you’re reacting, she says and raises a knowing hand. (claustrophobia; doesn’t respond to my clinical knowledge I am breathing fine at all) It’s still not fair to insist that a psychosomatic reaction be treated as an objective reaction.

                  A somewhat related note– expect a big jump in people suffering from year-round allergies that they just can’t figure out, in your area. That’s how my husband’s reaction to pot shows up– onset is just like any other plant allergy. (took us YEARS to figure it out, we assumed it was some sort of a mold in the vent systems at work or something)

                  • Yes, precisely. Psychosomatic reactions are in fact lethal, often, but people shouldn’t have to protect you from it.
                    I’m allergic to pot, even not being smoked. My breathing shuts up. Husband goes nauseous. Yeah, we stayed away from THOSE parties as kids.

                    • Ugh, I’m sorry. My husband’s reaction seems to be largely correlated to THC content– thank goodness, I do some crafts with hemp rope– and it got worse with age; I can’t imagine the annoyance of worse than neighbors-are-smoking hayfever.

                    • Having attended those parties as kids I assure you that you did not miss much. Very few of them had conversations approaching the wit of a Cheech & Chong routine, and those that did happened at much slower pace.

                • I have no severe known allergies. I have a few things I am leery of and can generally readily avoid.

                  Years ago I had a job that involved a lot of use of squeeze-action tools and one day my wrist(s) just “lit up”… repetitive motion.. though as I was growing less and less fond of the job (the work itself wasn’t bad, the psychological environment was… not nontoxic). I asked the Doc if it was possible it was psychosomatic. I have seldom had anything so quickly and so flatly rejected as that idea. Evidently the nerve conduction tests (many zaps… only one actually got up to pain threshold) said it was real. Thankfully, no surgery was involved. I still occasionally can feel a start to something and know to back off – and what anti-inflamatories to take if need be. What I had been prescribed then is now over-the-counter.*

                  * That was in WI, some time ago. As there was no insurance to speak of, I wound up with more than a few of the samples the Doc had been given. That, where I now live, is a banned practice. It’s supposedly meant well to protect folks from drug companies… but I suspect it is once more a Do Something which is not the same as Do Something Right.

                • As I understand it, the particulate load you get by smelling nuts is lower than the allergic trigger level the vast majority of even severe allergy sufferers.

                  Of course, there’s always that poor bastard whose sensitivity is 4+ sigmas greater than the average allergic person.

                  • “Rare” makes better sense than “doesn’t exist” for my co-worker — at least I’ve seen her breathing react, pretty reliably, when she couldn’t detect a smell nor see any tree nuts to trigger a psychosomatic reaction.

                    Medical professionals’ diagnoses, and statements regarding what’s possible, often seem to rely on simplifying modelling of research to leave out the rare conditions.

                    • It’s part of their training – the whole “horses, not zebras” thing

                    • Yet while horses are common, zebras do still exist. And there’s the person with the unicorn affliction that simply cannot exist… but does anyway.

                      And I am reminded of Dr. [REDACTED] that Ma encountered years when she worked nights at a hospital* once upon a time. Fellow had the bedside manor of a seasick crocodile. BUT he was an excellent diagnostician. Think of Dr. House.. only getting the diagnosis right in under three tries.

                      * Job interview for next job had someone asking her if dealing with some machinery and the associated grease & oil would be an issue. The reply was, roughly, that a little grease or oil would be no big deal at all after dealing with blood, feces, and vomit. She got the job – and eventually retired from it. It further amused her that after she had done the part with the machinery and the lifting for a few decades… when she retired, that part of the job was “outsourced” to the place across the street. They couldn’t find anyone in-house willing to do it.

                  • it might be enough for that guy to be uncomfortable, but what I was told is that you have to cut people and shove peanuts in their flesh (or of course force feed them) to cause death.

                  • I’m the most sensitive to spice person you’ll ever meet. I’ve ruined my esophagus by taking many meds over a long period of time.

        • Yes, exactly that. I have SERIOUS effects from any residues of burning anything, because my body is broken. I’m just very careful where I go.

      • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

        And some people are extremely bothered by perfumes to the point of illness.

        Should we thus ban perfumes and other items that others can smell?

        Sorry Alan, I hear what you’re saying but the campaign against “second-hand smoke” has gone too far (IMO) and real concerns about breathing problems are lost in the noise.

        To listen to the shitheads, lighting my pipe means that people “near-by” will be dropping dead.

        I try to be polite about my pipe smoke but it is getting hard to care “what non-smokers think”.

        Opinionated? Yes, you were but I’m even more so. 😉

        • I can have and often do have asthma attacks in the cleaners’ isle of the grocery store, which is why I HAVE to take my pump with me.
          I don’t think we should ban the sale of detergents. OTOH as soon as there’s home delivery for those, I’ll do that, because I buy the no-perfumes one.

          • Sarah, check out a service called Instacart. I can’t tell if you’re in their service area without your zipcode. instacart.com

          • My darling husband is sometimes puzzled when I stop talking, hold my breath, and pick up speed to near-run for three or four endcaps. Then he realizes we just passed the cleaner aisle, the scented candles aisle, or worse, the roving ambush by glade plug-in display.

            The temptation to switch to Amazon’s Pantry thing is… mainly mitigated by my knowledge of how much cheaper I can get non-brand and on-sale stuff locally.

            • I understand. I can handle the smells of this or that chemical in a lab or the fuel at a gas station, or ONE candle/soap/etc. A combination on display? That’s a headache if exposure lasts very long.

              I recently got a shipment of some soaps I’d ordered (it’s only about 1/3 of the full order… went full-goose-bozo when a friend [the big city elf. Yes, such does exist.] started something) and.. they’re *potent* and that’s at LOW essential oil concentration (1.5% rather than the 5% some places use!) Even though the bars are all sealed in plastic wrap, I wound up storing them in an airtight plastic container (Tupperware-alike). I could feel the headache beginning to form before I did that. I seem to have thwarted it – but it was close!

              • Of course big city elves exist; I married a techno-elf.

                One of my eventual goals is to hit the Celestial Seasonings tour up in Colorado– they had to rebuild the room they keep the pallets of peppermint in, because it went through the multi-foot thick refrigeration designed walls and was tainting nearby herbs. (Given my luck, I’ll be pregnant the one time we get a chance, and have to avoid it just in case– but it’s a goal!)

                If a scent is strong enough, it’s enough to make me WISH I couldn’t breath– I thought the ship was bad for the “pour on aftershave, it beats washing” trick, some subcultures down here take it a step further.

        • Yes, my wife’s inhalant allergies are sufficiently severe that body fragrances are a problem – whether from an over-perfumed person you end up having to share an elevator with, or just attending any public entertainment (concerts, plays). And, like Sarah mentioned, retail store “stinky aisles” – cleaning agents, candles, etal — I just need to be proactive about keeping her out of them.
          And while that’s a great pity, and would be much lessened if people could and would just smell themselves and reduce their dosage, where she can avoid it we just deal.

          It’s the times that we can’t avoid sources without major impact to things we need (not just want) to do that are irritating, and make me want to fight the conflation of doubtful/pseudo-science “causes” with real & observable health effects.

          I.e. – I don’t care as much about “what non-smokers think” as I am about when non-smokers are harmed (especially if it happens because a pissed-off smoker no longer cares); so do let me encourage your efforts to be both polite and thoughtful.

          • I keep thinking of the cigarette smoke saturated fellow who had a WALL of odor around him that could be detected nearly the instant he walked into the convenience store. And it wasn’t just non-smoker me having an issue. When the fellow after him opines that bathing and laundry would be a Good Idea, as he buys his multiple packs of Marlboros (reds, aka “full flavor”.. not what was once called ‘light’ or ‘ultra-light’).. well, it ain’t just me.

            Yes, I know, I’ve said this before.

        • it’s highly disapproved of at my cardiologist’s to wear any scent.

      • Allergies to smoke isn’t the second-hand smoke effect that’s used in the arguments.
        If you haven’t run into them, they’re basically that being around people who smoke is just as bad as smoking, or close enough.

        • Yep. It’s that second hand smoking causes cancer.
          BTW I don’t listen to Rush. I read the actual research. It’s bullsh*t.

          • I haven’t ever heard Rush talk about it, I’m familiar with it because it’s a go-to example of leading people into the answers you want.

            And I’m not really sure how on earth someone could have missed the whole “if you’re smoking, they’re smoking, too” ad campaigns, but eh.

          • Cancer? I can’t say anything of that. Headache? Sure. And an itching desire to bathe and do laundry. That does depend on concentration and.. quality.. of the tobacco.

            My former neighbor’s place… was a place I tried not visit or visit for long as I would need to wash me and my clothes after that – and aspirin was likely to be in the mix. And yet… there are some decent cigars out there I don’t mind, if the concentration isn’t too high. There are even a few I’d consider trying myself, were I into such things.

        • For what it’s worth, I have heard it referred to as “Third hand Smoke”. Not the actual smoke from the cigarette in the air, but the residue and aroma attached to the smoker in a non smoking environment. Some people were pushing that it was as bad as first hand and second hand smoke in causing cancer. This was about 4 or 5 years ago now I think that I had heard it. Either haven’t heard much about it or I started tuning them out as puritans.

          • Apple started denying warranty coverage if the tech could “smell tobacco smoke.”

            • I once bought a radio (TR-7400 for those curious) that I had to leave sitting by an open window for a month before I could stand to use it much. It took that long for the residue the smoking previous owner had deposited upon it to outgas. That said, the thing did last me at least a good ten years after that.

              • *wry* I had to stop using some of my favorite second hand stores because they started taking smoker’s stuff and NOT doing anything to deaden the smell– even just washing it twice and putting it through a decent unscented “freshener” dryer thing.

                Sounds like a slam-dunk? Sure, except that I can tell if the person who use to own a coat had dogs. I’m accurate at finding mice infestations by the smell, for heaven’s sake– to the point that I’ll walk up and point to right where the nest is, while folks are saying I’m nuts. *

                It’s a far cry from “it’s detectable, and I don’t like it” to “this is a serious health risk.”

                * Really funny, some people without a nasty bone in their body fall victim to the mental reaction thing– a relative in law is allergic to cats. Was totally fine with everything from our house…until she found out we have cats, at which point she literally started having rashes pop up.

                • I do not have that sensitive a schnozz (and you’d think with something that outclasses J. Durante…) but back when CRT’s ruled the earth.. or lab.. I’d get funny looks as I told someone a monitor or TV was on. And then shock them by walking up to the one screaming its flyback whine and shut it off. Not being subjected to flyback whine is just one more thing I like about modern LCD monitors and TVs.

                  • I think you’ve mentioned that before– it set my husband off on a chant of “SEE, SEE, SEE?!?! AHA HAHA HAHA! I’M NOT THE ONLY ONE!”

                    • I might well have. I am very familiar with 15,734 Hz (and it’s near cousins, yes). A sound that is more ‘sensed’ than outright ‘heard’ if that makes any sense. It’s said people with undamaged hearing can detect sound from 20 to perhaps 20,000 Hz, but 15,000+ seems to be outside the upper limit for many.

                      I’ve been told that I might have a slightly above average sense of smell (which puts me off some foods rather severely), my color vision seems to working, and my high-end hearing (last I knew..) was decent. I still don’t hear intelligible things when some speak, perhaps as I do hear more interference. I might not much of intelligence, either, but that is another matter entirely. I hope.

                  • Hmm… I always thought the monitor whine was something everyone could hear. It never really bothered me, though, so it didn’t become an issue that I thought of.

                    However, the cart (it was in the science building at college, and occasionally would go by the Physics lounge) with a super-high-pitched wheel squeak made me cringe, but no one seemed to notice until one particular other guy happened to be in the room at the same time with me when it went by. We both reacted, and he shouted, “Finally! Someone else can hear that! See? I’m NOT crazy!”

                    • Well, ok, of course he was crazy, he hung around with people like me, but he really did hear something that other people didn’t. 🙂

                    • I could hear lightbulbs when I was little. That too has gone.

                    • Light bulbs is a new one to me. I presume incandescent due to the times, and the place would indicate 50 Hz.. or was it more when it was just turned on and the thermal shock ‘rang’ the filament?

                      I can (could?) hear the whine of strobes/camera flashes charging. An awful lot of electronics ‘sing’ where they supposedly won’t be heard… at least by many.

                    • That sound that is sort of like the scifi phaser charging?

                    • I found to my great surprise that low frequency hearing goes earlier than high, so not unusual for such a range to be detectable and then go away.

                    • no. incandescent. There was always a “buzz”

                    • Foxfier: Phaser charging is very apt description for that sound.

                    • Hrmm… 50 Hz, likely 220-240 V. And.. shall we say, less than ideal wiring involved? Yeah, I could see there being some buzz from such an arrangement. And low (both frequency and intensity) enough that many would not notice it. Now I wonder how many hear the hum by power poles (at least ones with transformers).. if they even pay any attention at all to such things.

                      Ox: This power pallet jack is not charging.
                      $BIGBOSS: The light being off doesn’t really mean anything.
                      Ox: The absence of any transformer hum means nothing is happening.

                    • Transformer hum is not really something I have paid much attention to, but I’m pretty sure I hear it at least sometimes. Or used to. I have memories, but they’re not recent.

                      OTOH, I’m listening to the fluorescent lights in my kitchen right now, but they’re OLD.

                    • Reminds me of an odd event– we were driving along the side of the road, and suddenly everybody in the car practically jumped out of their seats, my mom swerved to the side of the road, put it in neutral– and THEN lightning struck the transformer on the far side of the road.

                      We “should” have been pretty much under it, not 20 ft off the far side of the road– but none of us had ever even thought about transformers, much less connected them to the hum I later realized was associated.

                    • Housemate can often hear electrical current; sometimes I can too – it doesn’t have to be a power pole either.

                • treasure the sense of smell. Mine went away about 10 years ago. Before that I was the best smoke/mice/etc detector in the world

                  • Be easier to treasure if it wasn’t so dang selective… I mean, it’s useful to smell stinky diaper, mice, and “ugh did something die,” but it’d be nice if I could tell roses were blooming righ tnext to me….

                    • AHA! SELECTIVE sense of smell! Now it’s my turn to go, “SEE? SEE? I was right!”

                      I don’t remember details (I kind of correlate things into categories most of the time, rather than remembering specific examples, which drives some people who know me crazy), but I know that I can smell some things FAR better than my wife can, who claims that I can’t smell anything, because some of the scents that drive her nuts don’t hardly affect me at all.

                    • That happens with taste (which is mostly smell, yes) too. $HOUSEMATE claims coconut is absent flavor, and I maintain that artichoke hearts only have the flavor of whatever they are soaked in. There are other things… I like Islay scotches for the smokiness. $HOUSEMATE doesn’t like them as any smoke is, for him, buried under medical preservative (think Band-Aid aroma). There are others as well. It’s like we both are aware of a spectrum.. but each have a different set of absorption lines masking out a few things

          • I used to be bothered by “Third hand Smoke” back when I discovered that playing pinball at a bar would leave my fingertips reeking of tobacco. I gave up going too bars to play pinball, as this predated widespread use of hand sanitizers.

    • There’s a reason why some characters in my books smoke tobacco. [Editor: Do you have to specify? Alma: Look around. Editor: Right. Didn’t think. Carry on.] Not many, and not often aside from Joschka, but it’s my little rebellion against the nannies.

  30. When I was younger, the view seen as “the future” was probably the one that appeared in a novel by Clarke (I think). The story follows a young man on his journey from the outer solar system to Earth, and back again. Both the young man and his “father” (as well as the “son” that is the reason why the young man is making the trip to Earth) are clones of their “grandfather”. As such, each of them is genetically identical.

    The only real mention of race in the book that I recall is when one of the characters on Earth observes that it’s only a matter of time before everyone on the planet has a not too dark brown skin tone as people from different races intermix and produce kids that are a mix of all races. And that same character observes that the protagonist has a darker skin tone than the one that the Earthlings are moving toward.

  31. Turbo Beholder (@TBeholder)

    “They don’t realize” implies the way of thinking which does not move backward. It was demonstrated many times this is not the case, thus anything built upon this notion is very unlikely to improve our understanding of the situation.
    But there is nothing enigmatic. When a phenomenon in general is so well explored, it’s easy to explain this particular manifestation from generic principles.
    1.

    Oceania was at war with Eurasia; therefore Oceania had always been at war with Eurasia.

    2.

    The enemy of the moment always represented absolute evil, and it followed that any past or future agreement with him was impossible.

    It obviously follows that just as Oceania “had always been at war with Eurasia”, it always will be – until the Current Truth changes to “Oceania had never been at war with Eurasia, and will never be”.

  32. I tried, I really tried to resist, but, as you can see I ultimately failed —

    Pigs in Space!

    Meets Starwars! (and there really is a part 2 out there)

  33. We have that sort of dinner conversation, too. Father-in-Law and I are history buffs. He’s much more well versed than I am and often I go on to research the topic more. Or sometimes it’s politics, or work. He and the hubs work for the same company. I tune that part out lol. Hubs tunes the history stuff out. I love semi-grown up table conversation. My sisters and I just used to belch at each other. Anyway, that’s just to illustrate y’all aren’t all that odd in that.

    As to the main thrust of the essay, I must say I agree. Even a casual study of history will show that different century’s have different issues. I like SF also when it gives me a rousing and/or engaging story. To dream of the future and what it can be like. But more and more SF is turning into social lectures and I find them dull. That’s why I’m every so grateful that there are publishing houses (i.e. Baen) and indie publishing to give us our stories back!

  34. Money quote:
    “…they are provincials who think that the stereotypes of their tribe and culture are laws of nature. In other words, barbarians.”