Cutting Through The Cage

lion-600435_1920

Robert A. Heinlein — though he wasn’t the first — says a lion who’s been freed still paces in the confines of the imaginary cage, and that something like it happens with intellectual boundaries set by totalitarian regimes of thought.

As a society that has been bound (and gagged. Mostly gagged) by such a regime, increasingly tighter for the last fifty years, many of us are pacing that cage.

One of the — admittedly many — things that drive me bonkers about the left is their tendency to want people to have exact-match role models.

What I mean by this is that by reasons that evade me — except that Marxist identity politics makes widgets out of human beings and creates a sort of uber-aspergers in how followers see the world. Um… maybe it’s why aspergers has been non-medicalized — the left thinks the only role models one can follow must match all of one’s EXTERNAL characteristics, or one won’t know what’s achievable.

So, for instance, since there is no other female Portuguese first generation immigrant who was ever successful in publishing (or at least not at a level anyone ever heard of) science fiction and mystery, younger me is supposed to have walked in circles, flopping and floundering before the publishing establishment wondering “can I even do this? How do I do this? There is no other person with a vagina and my level of tan doing this. Maybe I can’t do this.”

I did flop and flounder, and occasionally run in circles, screaming and shouting, but the problem was not “no role models that match me exactly. How do I do this?” Because I did have role models, and writers whose bios I read, and whose books I studied and who showed me how it was done. They were male, female, and probably — according to today’s asperger’s classifications all however many — 75? — genders there are, a multitude of colors, and a multitude of backgrounds.  But they could write, and they wrote stuff I wanted to read, and stuff I wanted to learn to write. So as far as role models went, I had them.

Because the important thing in the role of writer is the writing, not the external characteristics or even frankly, the upbringing of the one who writes.

I had an argument on this on FB a couple of weeks ago and had to explain to the lefty telling me that people’s external characteristics and background created their writing or gave them a unique voice or something that he was parroting 19th century literary analysis, that this wasn’t true — provably not true, as far as such a thing can be proven — and that no one but crazy people tried to analyze art according to the biography of the artist.

For the love of Bob, I had a degree in the stuff.  And you can’t really tell why Shakespeare wrote what he wrote. Or why Jane Austen wrote what she wrote.  And that’s with minute studying of their biographies.  Sure you can come up with “this incident inspired this” and we might even be right, but in the end? Judging by myself, what inspired a story might be a pun at the dining room table. Or a joke I overheard in a diner. Or even a dream.  And while some of my stuff can probably be guessed to have an origin in childhood preoccupations — say my tendency to write gender/benders and gender/ignorers probably traces to the fact that I couldn’t wear earrings and mom insisted on dressing me in my brother’s cast offs (cut down to size. He was six feet by the time I was four) because she thought having my legs bare while wearing a skirt would give me colds, in a society where this made me the boy named Sue. MAYBE. Or it could be because it’s something fascinating to pay with intellectually.  Hell, until this year I’d never touched a horse, and my other fairly consistent theme is centaurs — but does it? Does the theme of acculturation that runs through some of my books have to do with my own acculturation to the US?  What if I told you I wrote percursors of those books at 12, when I thought I’d live all my life in Portugal?

And if biography is a really bad explanation for the themes and preoccupations of an artist, matching the author’s skin color to a vaguely similar paint chip, or orientation, or even origin.

What the left misses in the “but the skin color, etc. of the author informs their experience is “And each set of experiences is highly individual.”  It would require insanity or iron-clad racism to think, say, that the Obama girls would create similar literature to the daughters of a crack-addicted inner city black mother.  They might tan alike.  Hell, they might even look something like each other.  But that has zero to do with what their actual experiences and view of the world is.

The only reason the left can think this, is because they think culture is genetic.  So, you know, Mala and Sasha, raised in a fourth generation communist household, shouldn’t have more in common with oh, Occasio Cortez than with some little girl whose mom was selling it on the street before the kid was out of diapers, who has no philosophy beyond knowing something is very wrong with her, and who has never read… anything, and watches soap operas and reality shows only.  Seriously? Only dyed in the wool racists would think that skin color was the most important thing in that equation, and that culture comes with skin color.

Oh, sure, they all face the same micro aggressions.  Because micro are the only aggressions that could make it past the secret service guys and to the Obama Girls.

Seriously. The entire philosophy of “We’ll hire our authors by color, and all authors of color are either Marxist or race traitors” and also “it’s your level of tan, national origins and sexual attraction that make you unique.  Other than that, we’re all exactly the same” doesn’t pass the snort-giggle test.

Take Dumas, for instance (I’m not doing anything with him for another 6 months at least.) How much did the fact that in US contemporary parlance he was technically black (black grandmother) inform his writing?  Ah…. nothing?  Sure, the stories of his father about his adventures might or might not have leaked in, but do tell me how you can read Dumas and know his father was technically raised a slave, that Dumas’ grandmother and aunts/uncles were sold to finance his grandfather’s and father’s passage to France, or that his father was only freed when hitting French soil?

Other than a certain moral flexibility in his writings — and honestly, that was the spirit of the time — there is no trace of any of this in his writing. (Yeah, I know “but he hired other people and had a writing factory. Maybe.  Or maybe he had graphomania. As a fellow sufferer I’m not taking bets. If it weren’t for the months or sometimes years of depression, I suspect people would accuse me of the same. Keep in mind the last twenty years I’ve had near critical hypothyroidism.)

Sure, sure, there are things I can’t write — and I’ll tell you I can’t write them, if you ask — but they have bloody nothing to do with my skin/sex/orientation, and everything to do with the ways in which I’m broken (we’re all broken. Just different ways.)  I’d give an arm and a leg to write action like Larry Correia, say. I can’t. And it has zero to do with “he knows guns better.”  Sure. He does know that.  But he also writes physical action of ALL SORTS better, including had to hand combat and car chases and…  I don’t visualize action in enough detail to write it like that.  I can sort of wave at it, but I can’t get down to that level of detail. Yes, I’m working on it, but I’ll never be THAT good.

And while I CAN write convoluted word-play novels, I can’t do it one after the other, because it depresses me.  It’s not my normal mode.

And hell, it took me ten novels to figure out PLOT (thank you Dave Freer for making me SEE foreshadowing.) I got published on the strength of characters, but I had no idea how to make plots work for readers.

So there are things I can do and things I can’t.  What the hell they have to do with Portuguese genetics or being female, evades me.

Sure, I needed to figure out how to write books for an American public, but that’s because I was born and RAISED abroad, and the tastes for what gets published in Portugal are different, and even though I’d read a ton of American books in translation, my tastes had been informed by what Portuguese considered good.

Sure, if you were raised in a tiny, insular community in the US, be it Amish or Ghetto, you’ll have trouble breaking in and your voice will indeed be unique.

Of course, you’ll have trouble breaking in BECAUSE your voice is unique.  The Mass Entertainment business is a business of packaging and selling experiences that will apply to the largest possible denominator.  So, that’s not to say you can’t write unique stuff, just that you have to tailor it to appeal to a community that’s used to standard stuff.

Seeing what people latched onto as worthwhile in my early books was an education. For instance, apparently Any Man So Daring is about racism. (REALLY?)

Point being, we’re let the entire society be turned into a pretzel to the tune of asperger’s screeching.  “But I can’t do that. I don’t see anyone who matches me doing that.”

We’re not a caste society (not even a chaste one. Apropos nothing. I almost spelled it that way, is all.  Too much blood in my caffeine stream.) No one is holding you back from doing/saying/being what you want.  Sure, it’s good to know when one’s natural abilities stop us.  Stuff like, if you’re 5’5″ you’re not going to be a basketball star.

But in the end? Everyone who does what you aspire to do is a role model.  You want to do that? Study how they do it.  Most intellectual barriers can be broken down with enough stubborn and insane amounts of work (which is why I’m still practicing writing action.)

Be not afraid.  BE the role model.  And hold that lantern aloft for people of all colors, shapes and backgrounds.

We’re all individual but we’re all human. If we can think it, we can figure out how to do it.

Refuse to be turned into a widget. Free yourself.

186 responses to “Cutting Through The Cage

  1. Um. As someone on the spectrum who is a conservative… I think you might want to look at what people with Asperger’s are on record from their own writings as thinking. I grant you we may have a lot of social difficulties and confusion about what categories matter and what are just “different paint jobs on the same truck”. But thinking the way SJWs do? Ah, no.

    (For one thing, with the amount of face blindness commonly comorbid, trying to identify anyone as a “member of group X”, even by skin tones, is hit or miss.)

    • I have a lot of friends with aspergers. It’s the “fit it into the category” thing that’s similar. BUT only people with PROFOUND aspergers think like the lefty. And I mean PROFOUND.

      • If you say so. I would just note that most I know would stay the heck away from SJWs, because we can’t stand screeching. Hurts our ears.

        • FWIW, makes me twitch, too– but I saw the metaphor develop; I can’t remember enough good quotes to do a decent job linking it, but she hit on to the way that SJW act like someone who has latched on to a theory to classify everything, and can’t freaking drop it. Every counter just pisses them off, because it doesn’t FIT.

          • BobtheRegisterredFool

            Yeah, I can’t recall things clearly enough to link to every point of the line.

            By the time of the first mention, we had for years been discussing that Marx had basically been doing historical modeling by fitting a line to cherrypicked data, and then extrapolating beyond the data set. One of Sarah’s points was that part of the data corruption was how people are divided into categories, such as male/female, and assumed to primarily act as and be loyal to that category. Or how some categories are purely victimized and some categories are purely oppressive. (The hierarchy of oppression stuff we see now may depend on electronic media. Otherwise, the people who are exposed to somebody’s tale of woe probably know that person well enough to see things in context.)

            Hence one of Sarah’s arguments that Marx’s obsession with this abstraction was reminiscent of behavior sometimes seen in autistics. (Counterargument. Marx was perhaps a skilled grifter. How many high functioning autistics are very good at that?)

            From there is a series of watchamacalits to prior statements, leading to the current thing. With a bunch of severe health issues, financial pressures, and other things along the way to distract from carefully considering every little detail blogged.

          • Ah. *Dry* I didn’t think SJWs thought enough to create a theory. They just FEEL it’s true.

        • Patrick Chester

          You… REEEEE-ject that behavior? 😉

      • Ironically, if there’s one thing Lefty’s ain’t, they ain’t profound.

        Pro-Lost, sure. Pro-Finders/Keepers, generally.

        • But are they Pro-Volone?

        • I think that there have been some people who identified as Progressive/Left who were profound, at least on some subjects. G. B. Shaw springs to mind, though I’m sure there were and maybe are others. I also think that they were (maybe are) products of specific times and places. Shaw, for example, was,the product of a society where Progressivism might well have looked like a reasonable option. The Progressives had not, yet, failed as spectacularly as they would later, and the then Ruling Class was in the process of screwing up massively.

          I don’t know enough details to say for sure, though.

          Certainly, Shaw has some profound things to say. I have been much struck by his position that Eliza was too smart to fall for Professor Higgins. It’s the one great weakness of the adaptation of PYGMALION to MY FAIR LADY.

          • Shaw, Wells, perhaps a few others, but they were before the theory had been put to the test of application. My statement addresses present tense and the burden of reconciling theory to actual results tends to break the minds of such as Singer, Krugman and others.

            Many Leftists are clever, quite a few are sly, but depth evades them.

      • I think there’s a tendency to shove anyone introverted into the Asperger’s category. Which is rarely true. A lot of people wind up introverted because normal people are so bland.

        • Patrick Chester

          Or “normal people” are too damned annoying to deal with on a long-term basis.

          Random Asperger’s fictional reference. Oberstein, never change. Or seek help. Can’t tell which.

          • I still say my favorite fictional depliction is

            Deep Space 9

            SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

            SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

            SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

            where we find out Julian Bashir is an enhanced human, which is illegal…and then we meet some of the rest.

            Who are…um…

            Well, they make Julian look normal.

            I wouldn’t be in the least shocked if the writer who came up with that was either high-functioning or knew a lot of folks who are.

          • That, too. I respect my fellow man, but it gets tiresome to have to explain what seems perfectly obvious to me.

      • Yeah. And I’ve SEEN people with autism lose it the way the meme describes (hence, ‘austistic screeching’). I actually am rather annoyed that they’ve made autism into this broad-brush disorder, because it’s something that has degrees of being disabled.

        • A psychiatrist I know online once observed that if someone tells you that x% of autistics need to be institutionalized, what that really means is that that person drew the line of diagnosis to include enough people that x% need institutionalization.

        • The pediatrician in the family cringes whenever someone says “Autism spectrum” because to him, the diagnosis for autism begins with severe mental retardation and goes from there. By severe, it is “non-functional in society, will never be able to care for himself/herself” levels of retardation.

          Which is most certainly not what the media mean when they go on and on about autism.

      • And one of the things I’ve noticed is that the same mean girls trying to torture me for being a freak (a fair cop) back in public school, are the SJW inquisitors today.

  2. When arguing with Proglodytes, keep in mind that it is rarely about what they claim it is. Role models, authorial identity/authenticity, all that bushwa is a distraction from their true agenda: deciding who can and who cannot be read.

    Everything else is camouflage for their gate-keeping agenda.

    • I’ve heard Jonah Goldberg say it plenty of times – any apparent double standard is an indication of an overarching single standard. In this case, “stuff I don’t agree with.”

    • If Asian kids can be discriminated against for college admissions in their twisted little theology, the ensconced academic left are racists straight up, no questions, end of story, no arguments.

      All the other stuff, from “you can’t write that” to “you can’t own that” to “you can’t decide who uses which bathroom”, is just so the next words can be “only we are allowed to decide what is allowed.”

      The authority to redefine anything they don’t like as not-allowed and anything they do like as allowed is the actual objective.

      And if you had to pick just about the worst system of government possible, rule by whim of the annointed has to take the cake. And in the end that pretty much describes the actual form of governance in the USSR, and Cuba and Red China and Putin’s Russia now.

      No thanks.

      • Exactly. The Progressives want to be an Aristocracy. This makes them, at bottom, no better than any other would-be Aristocracy, and worse then some.

        • Just so. An argument with a Progressive is not a Hegelian search for Truth through process of dialectic, rational analysis or anything of that sort. It is instead what they claim all Conservative thought to be: a will to power.

          When debating a Progressive you are not attempting to arrive at a truth but are determining who has power and who will decide what is Truth. Thus your best tactic is not defending your own position but forcing the Progressive to defend his, to put forward arguments of substance and rigor defending their thesis … a thing which he is intellectually and emotionally incapable of doing.

          As the adage goes, when a couple argue over money/sex the argument is not about money/sex but about power — who gets to decide and for whom are things decided.

          • Just so. An argument with a Progressive is not a Hegelian search for Truth through process of dialectic, rational analysis or anything of that sort. It is instead what they claim all Conservative thought to be: a will to power.

            Projection is the Progressive’s favorite Freudian defense.

          • Patrick Chester

            Or, as Larry’s mentioned, you aren’t actually debating or proving your point with the Prog. You’re speaking to the audience.

            So don’t get into a private conversation with a Prog over something. Do it on a public forum, keep your cool and let them be themselves when confronted with icky awful crimethink.

      • If Asian kids can be discriminated against for college admissions in their twisted little theology, the ensconced academic left are racists straight up, no questions, end of story, no arguments.

        The justifications for that have been interesting. They basically boil down to: “Yeah, Asians get screwed, but it’s all in the name of the righteous cause of making war on Whitey, so suck up and deal with it.”

        Not to mention, “Asian” is an extremely broad category, and it hardly seems fair that we’re discriminating against the children of Vietnamese manicurists because the Chinese kids tend to score really high on the SATs.

        • In fairness, Japanese tend to do really well, too, and a lot of the other “Asian” groups don’t send their kids to college unless they are really, really good, they still value hard work.

          So it’s more like “it’s not right to discriminate against a manicurist’s kid because folks who look like them are less likely to treat college as Daycare: 3.0.”

          • Yeah, and in some cases, technical schools would be better than a general-strokes college.

            • Considering the trend line for what constitutes a general-strokes college, I’ve seen schools advertised on matchbook* covers that would be better, if only because they did not reinforce the students’ ignorance.

              *Are matchbook covers gone the way of the telephone booth? What other minor staples of every-day life have disappeared?

              • “*Are matchbook covers gone the way of the telephone booth? What other minor staples of every-day life have disappeared?”

                Most of the matches I see these days are wooden; kitchen matches or smaller, but not cardboard.

                Mailboxes have disappeared all over. A lot of them have been repurposed as Lions Club old eyeglasses collection boxes.

                Soda fountains in drug stores were vanishing like the Dodo when I was growing up in the 1970’s.

                Juke Boxes have all but vanished, except in deliberately ‘retro’ settings.

                Arcades used to be all over. These days I still see a few, but they consist mostly of games like Claw Machines or Coin Pushers, which I thought were illegal gambling devices. Of course, a government that runs a lottery is in a piss poor moral position to outlaw gambling, but when did that ever stop the buttinskies?

        • “Asian” is an extremely broad category.

          t includes Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Tibetan, Nepalese, Hmong, Laotian, Thai, …

          To look at all those ethnicities and lump them together as “Asian” requires an indifference to culture comparable to lumping Brits, Scots, Irish, Welsh, French, Walloons, Lombards, Prussians, Hessians, Bavarians, Finns, Swedes, Danes, Rus, Greeks, Serbs, Croats, Poles, Romans, Napolis, Venetians, Sicilians, Bulgarians, and Corsicans into a single group.

      • And if you had to pick just about the worst system of government possible, rule by whim of the annointed has to take the cake.

        Well, that is most of history, after all.

        Even the Lord Himself had to keep smacking the anointed–and He knew a lot more than we!

        • Sowell’s anointed. They are capable only of seizing power now because we’re rich enough. In most of history, the “anointed” were briskly disposed by more practical souls.

        • Once you successfully establish The Rule of the Annointed, and also establish ownership of the jar of annointing oil, you are set until the next revolution, when they overthrow the Aristocracy-controlled Orthodox Church and replace it with The Party, as a theoretical example.

          Clearly in that case The Rule of the Annointed was a valid and necessary construct; It was just who owned that jar that was he problem, Comrade.

      • Flying Mike… so what you’re saying is that they’re Librarians?

        (Pet peeve… the loudest noise about “banned” books comes from a profession dedicated to being the ones who get to decide and control what is shelved in the library.)

        • So you noticed. . . .

          • I had my fill of “Librarians” when they tried to claim “Librarian Privilege” back when Ken Starr was demanding Ms Lewinski’s borrowing records. You might, might be able to make an argument that a warrant is required, but those are public records and hardly merit treatment as privileged information.

            Heck, Robert Bork’s video rentals had a stronger claim to privacy.

            Librarians who stay within their lane and concentrate on recommending good reading to kids are being embarrassed by their pretentious pals.

    • I’m coming to the conclusion that the real goal of Leftism, in all its various forms (from feudalism to communism) is to enable the Lefty to imagine him/her/itself superior to the rest of humanity without actually having to do anything.

      • I think you’re missing their point.

        The Lefy considers themselves superior to “humanity” (not “the rest of”) because they have (in their own minds) elevated themselves above us by virtue of signaling that they are above us…

        Everything else is just an attempt to convince us that we believe them.

    • I have run across young readers who really do perceive their books that way. Who can’t “get into” a story with a protagonist who is too different from them.

      I fined find that kind of blinkering depressing. And they don’t read SF.

      • REALLY young readers, and they’ve been turned off reading.

      • Well, yeah. A well-done alien from Alpha Centuri is hard to get into, the thought processes are so different.

        if they blame skin color, and the rest of the trivia, however, I’m with you.

        • No. I’m thinking one of my favorite books as a 15 year old was the Tar-Ayim Krang. Because of course a blonde middle class girl would identify with red-headed Polynesian boy… Or the Gods Themselves, another fave. Lead characters… Hmm….

          • I was equally happy reading Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. Never found anyone in Five Children and It or The Princess and the Goblins who was much like me, but then I never paused to look.

            Same applies to the various works of Mssrs Verne and Wells.

  3. I was in grad school for less than 10 years (which is a speed record in my field, alas for the other grad students), and hovered on the firnges of academic for five more years or so. And I still find myself having to shake off the mind habits of “Muss’nt offend, can’t say, proper terminology is…” Ick.

    • I lived on the fringes of Acaemia until I was in my 20’s, but I was in a somewhat peculiar position. My Father, who WAS an academic, was one of the second generation founders of his field, amd by the time I was at all aware of Academic Politics, the nascent PC hoards were scared to death of him. He published a lot, suffered fools badly, and had inherited from is (adoptive) Minister Father a talent for projecting moral certainty. He, personally, was an 18th Century Liberal. They couldn’t win arguments with him, couldn’t overawe him, and couldn’t dismiss hm.

      But he did work mostly before the era when PC took the place of thought.

      • Several of us had lists of “things we will do when we get tenure…” such as flunking students, or telling a whiny brat to whine elsewhere (“Here’s a quarter. Call someone who cares.”). Not sure if any of my cohort will ever be secure enough to ever do that.

        • I doubt my Father had to flunk many students. He had a reputation that would keep most of the work-shy morons from taking his courses, and a manner of presentation that encouraged the rest to drop the course FAST.

          Students who liked to learn, OTOH, gravitated to his stuff.

          • Then, I took a course at college, where it was said that it would start 80, end up with 20, and half of those would flunk.

            There were rumors that the professor, though he said he never curved, had been handed back his grades and told he couldn’t flunk so many.

            The year I took it the average of the first test was mid seventies. The average of the second — passed back the day after the drop-deadline — was 50.

            I walked into the final knowing I got a D no matter — reassuring, that — C if I got a 25, B if I got a 75, and A under no circumstances whatsoever, but I did get an A so I could only add to the rumors.

            • Honestly, that sort of thing bugs the heck out of me. If that many students fail they either needed more preparation in the form of prerequisites, or the instructor is incompetent. I don’t think that students should pass without doing the work, but “the work” needs to be somewhat normalized. And considering the consequences to one’s long term financial well being if you mess up your financial aid by loosing full-time status or ending on academic probation, it’s not a minor thing at all.

              • The problem is normalizing the tests.

              • Used to bug the heck out of me that 80+ could be anything from a B to D depending on the curve. I could handle a low 80’s as a C with tight requirements, but a “D”? OTOH always felt anything below 70 should be a passing grade. If everyone did that bad, the instructor was flunking just as bad as his class …

              • This one, however, I have to admit was the professor. The spring semester course, they said, was for mathematicians, and the fall one for humans.

    • BobtheRegisterredFool

      Gotta ask. Is this true of engineering?

      ‘Cause I’ve seen a doctoral program in one engineering discipline claim finish in five years, or you aren’t allowed to continue at the university. From that same university, I’ve heard hearsay that a faculty in another discipline tended to have students who took a very long time.

      • I’ve heard that in general about more than Engineering. Makes it hard on students working full time & part time education, or the start/stop/start students. By the time they get their degree work done over 10+ years, the first classes they took won’t be “accepted”.

        Or at least that is the perception. Have no intention of ever seeing the inside of a classroom ever again, even when I was working; seminars okay, classroom, no, oh heck no, h-e-double-tooth-stick-no. So, this is not something I bothered to verify their perceptions; hand wavin’ “whatever”.

      • I don’t know about engineering. When I finished grad school the average PhD in history or English took 9 years from start of coursework to defense of PhD. I did it in 5. Would have been shorter but someone misplaced my last chapter and didn’t even look for it for three months (when I asked when I’d get comments back on that chapter.) The average is now up to 10 years.

        • In theory, you had to finish within 5 years of taking your comprehensive exams (this was only at Flat State U). Only heard that rule invoked once.

      • So in my experience Engineering and the Sciences PhD’s are different (Disclosure I’m married to a Physical Chemist PhD and am familiar with bunch of other Chemistry and a couple engineering (Mechanical) PhD’s as well as a History PhD that went ABD after 8 years). In general the goal is 4-6 years to a PhD. Why? Because they take up lab space and serious amounts of grant money. Their purpose is to crank out research that the Professor can oversee and publish, usually parts of 2-4 papers as they work on their thesis. As opposed to say History or English PhD.s that just need a cubicle in the library . They non STEM PhD’s seem to get MUCH less generous stipends and have a tendency to be critically important to recitation sessions and grading. STEM PhD’s do that, but it is kept to a bare minimum as if they’re doing that they’re NOT doing research that gets more grants.

      • I’m not sure…most engineers have to go to work at one of those “job” things. 🙂

        It’s an upward mobility profession for the sons of the lower middle class.

  4. There is a sad myth that everything can be explained, from how the universe works to the internal goings on of the human mind. This feeds into the myth that once explained we can fix whatever is broken, solve all problems and create heaven on earth.

    Reality keeps getting in the way.

    • Total explicability is FAR more mythical than I am. That bumper sticker, [**** Happens] has much truth in a mere two words.

      • I believe that “total explicability” is possible, with levels of information gathering & processing that are, at best, several tiers of Post-Human from now.

        There’s a reason the computer in the joke identifies itself as being “God”.

    • If you’re omniscient everything is explainable. Us mere mortals will have to make do with “a close approximation” of this and “a wild guess” about that, while someone else just pulls stuff out of their {rear orifice}

      • All knowing AND all wise. All knowing means just having the facts. What they signify may not be so clear.

      • My personal solution to squaring the omniscient with free will is that the Big Guy experiences everything at once, so time is not linear for Him, but that’s not the same thing as knowing the outcomes of all potential actions.

        • Omniscient beings have already read the ending of the book that the free-agents are currently writing.
          Alternatively, the OB has read all of the endings of the choose-your-own-ending-book ditto ditto.
          And sometimes the OB nudges the FA to go down path A instead of path B, if it matters that much.

        • Time is a dimension of creation and the Creator pre-exists and is outside of creation. Were everything within that creation destroyed the Creator would continue to be.

    • Poppped into my head:
      “It can, but the processing power to understand the explanation is lacking.”

      Same way I can picture ten easily, I can grasp 100, a thousand I get the idea of– but ten thousand? It’s a number.

  5. If your voice is truly unique, you’re a trailblazer, and people will start copying you if you happen to be successful. It may take awhile for people to find you and appreciate you, but eventually, when you’re dead most likely, they’ll hold you up as a paragon of the times. Though, that may not help you put food on the table now.

    Myself, there are certain voices I like to read, others not so much. Everyone’s tastes are different.

    • *coff* I’m given to understand that the perpetrator of Empress Theresa has a unique voice. I don’t see that generating success.

      Unique does not necessarily mean good. Every gilded turd is unique but it takes a rather sad kind of specimen to actually want to buy the things. Just saying.

      • “Your manuscript is both good and original; but the part that is good is not original, and the part that is original is not good.”

      • Eh, the parts I read were not unique, they just weren’t like other things that were published.

        There is a difference.

        About all I want to say, because I feel sorry for the guy, getting kicked so much– even if he does keep throwing himself at folks, metaphorically.

    • ” people will start copying you ”

      There’s a reason why LeGuin called Dunsany “the First Terrible Fate that Awaiteth Unwary Beginners in Fantasy.”

  6. Hell, until this year I’d never touched a horse, and my other fairly consistent theme is centaurs-

    I am surprised on both counts.

    • I used to think horses were carnivorous when I was little…

      • While they do not hunt as such, if meat is available… yeah, not ideal for the digestive setup, but… I suspect for some horses the world is “a thing is food, until proven otherwise.”

        Though I have met a horse who refused sugar cubes and such. He preferred grass, and would have an occasional carrot. But sugar? Nuh-huh, might as well ask him to dine on (expanded poly)styrene.

        • Horses will eat network cable which is within their reach and not armored.

          The things you learn doing I.T. at an Old West venue.

          • I knew full by experience that squirrels liked to hide in and chew on the wiring in the switching boxes which house the telephone lines I did not know that horses would take out networks as well.

            • It seems to be a problem with ANY animal. Back in 1998 I had just started with my current employer when an e-mail came in from a team we had working to install an accounting application system using a wired network between the buildings of Krueger National Park in Kenya.

              “Can anyone from the Product development team contact us about getting on the beta test list for the wireless networked version of this software? We can’t keep the wired networks up, because the elephants either push over the poles or dig up the buried underground cables.”

              It was at that point that I determined I would stick around as long as possible, because I’d never be bored. Many other descriptions have applied for the last 20+ years, but never that one. 😎

      • I met an old farmer when I was a kid who was missing an ear. He had been standing near a fence and out of the blue, a horse walked up, leaned over the fence and chomp… His ear was gone.

        You weren’t completely wrong about horses being (at least a little bit) carnivorous.

        • There were a lot of steppe tribes that fed their horses the same jerky they were eating, if they could not stop for grazing. The main problem is that horses cannot digest much protein at once, so you have to either feed them tiny portions or have them run into trouble. But the odd Slim Jim is probably okay.

          The Greeks had a fair number of legends about horses that ate meat or humans.

      • Not sure if I mentioned, but that came up in conversation with my dad and he pointed out that he’s known horses that would gladly snap at and eat the mice in their feed, and even go up to rabbit if they can manage it.

        • I might have seen this — likely considering those horses were kept more or less starved — with a work horse in the village at an age I didn’t remember, just KNEW the horses would eat me if they could.
          Because the weird thing is I felt that way about horses AND COWS, but not donkeys. Donkeys were cute and dog like in my head.

          • Oh, it’s not really a hungry thing. Tends to go with personality.

            Which does kind of support your theory, jsut from a different POV. (You don NOT keep a mean horse if you can avoid it. It’s stupid.)

        • There’s a video on youtube somewhere where a woman is filming a deer in her yard, and there’s a baby bird that’s fallen out of the nest. The woman is horrified when the deer actively seeks out the bird and then eats it.

      • They’ll bite the hell out of you if they get a mind to.

        Dogs love me. Horses… not so much.

        • I do rather well with dogs (“He doesn’t let anyone… hey, he must really like you.”) and what few horses I’ve met seemed not to be irked, but I admit the sample-space there is small.

          • In general all animals love me. Even feral cats. I’ve been bit by a cat ONCE in my life. And keep in mind I did rescue. Greebo as a feral baby tore up the neighbor pretty bad but he just climbed on my lap.
            I’m not dad or grandma level — wild birds come to dad. Grandma had a pet TURTLE who came when called — but animals tend to adore me. I’ve been contemplating learning to ride, mostly because future daughter in law is a horse woman, and in future, wherever the tribe ends up, maybe it’s something we can share.
            Also, it’s exercise.
            Maybe when there’s money for lessons.

            • *kinda jealous*

              My dad can keep psychotic cows from running him over, gets barn cats to walk up to him, birds always hold still when he’s pointing at them, my sister got killdeer chicks to walk on her hand, and she was never bitten by the zillion half-dead mice she brought to me to “fix” even as a child (I did, I didn’t get sick, just one of those things you don’t recognize until later).

              At least I’m not one of those poor folks that all animals bite, and I’m teaching the kids animal-manners*, but dang I can still be jealous of the folks who have a Way to help with training.

              *AKA, the thing that makes people who bring their emotional support animals a little grumpy– I try to get the kids to “introduce” themselves, after being invited to pet an animal, which gets them giggling as a wet little nose pokes their hand and means that any of the really evil dogs wouldn’t be able to do as much damage. And of course lets the dog know what is petting them.

              • Yes – good “animal manners” spare a good deal, and being able to read their body-language will spare even more. I’ve only been bitten by one cat, and she was psycho AND I was trying to haul her out of a tree and put her back inside … and by one dog, and he was otherwise a good boy and was being mauled by a cat at the time … no, not the same incident and totally different cat…
                For dogs – go down on one knee to their level, and extend a hand for them to sniff. (Not your dominant hand, if they take a snap at it anyway.) They will indicate if they are agreeable to being petted. DO NOT FORCE THE ISSUE if they are not agreeable, Ears up and forward, tail up and wagging, eye contact – good to go. Ears back, tail down … not a good sign; dog not agreeable to friendly overture … Seriously, I think this is how small children get bitten and mauled by dogs – they can’t read the negative signs and try and pet the dog anyway

            • Secret for Western style saddles– a corpse can ride.

              The main thing you have to learn is how to make it so you don’t hurt as much afterwards, which means learning how to “stand” in the saddle, and making sure that whoever is teaching you actually puts the stirrups at the right height. (major issue with folks paid to teach riding!)

  7. Larry Correia action scenes. HOW?!?! No kidding.

    I would also like to be able to write beautiful prose like Jack London. Not sure if anyone shares that opinion, but re-reading White Fang as an adult, it hit me just how beautiful the writing was. Me? Can’t… I just too dumb I guess.

  8. Somewhere in here belongs the observation that one reason the Progressive Left is so married to chopping the population into smaller and,smaller packets – without acknowledging individualism, mind – is that for the most part they are mediocrities. And on some level they know it. So they try desperately hard to make ponds small enough that they can be big fish in them.

    • Which only works if the pond size is one.

    • There’s also the epicycles problem: in the Ptolemaic system, the astronomers kept adding epicycles to fit the observed data. The problem for SJW is that the Ptolemaic system was a Fourier series and so you really could make it work that way, to any degree of precision required.

      • William Newman

        It took a surprisingly long time for techies to learn how to articulate exactly what was wrong with that kind of too-flexible overfitting. For centuries, until about the 1960s, they had useful horse sense — and quotable appeals to horse sense, like Occam’s Razor and von Neumann’s “…I can make it wiggle its trunk” — but nothing much like the quantitative automatable approaches that were then relatively quickly worked out in the next three decades or so. Now we finally have things like VC Dimension and formal Minimum Description Length, which help not only to automate horse sense in silicon (so that e.g. vision systems infer a suitably small number of objects, not some absurdly complicated constellation of objects, when interpreting an image), but also to (in principle) back up the diagnosis of overfitting when a human advocate isn’t willing to use good sense and needs to be dragged through the issue equation by equation. Or, as is (in practice) maybe more probable, needs to at least be driven to give up the pretense of technical arguments for their advocacy, and retreat to an appeal to the authority of centrally funded peer reviewed consensus, and/or to denunciation of the questioner as evil or corrupt.

  9. “Because the important thing in the role of writer is the writing, not the external characteristics or even frankly, the upbringing of the one who writes.”

    Currently having a hilarious time with some Usual Suspects who are trying to pretend that A) Conservatives are not being excluded from mainstream SFF publishing and B) racial/religious/gender groups are totally being excluded from mainstream SFF publishing. Oh, and actively excluding white males is totally not racist.

  10. it took me ten novels to figure out PLOT (thank you Dave Freer for making me SEE foreshadowing.) I got published on the strength of characters

    That explains why I am not a writer. While I possess a certain facility for words I am not a plotter and lack all character.

    All I have is punmanship, which is a good way to find yourself at the city limits on a rail with tar and feathers being prepped for use.

  11. Um… maybe it’s why aspergers has been non-medicalized

    *meanders off on a totally new tract*

    Maybe it’s just that, once they started looking– or couldn’t not see it, after destroying manners– the discomfort of having to actually identify “this oddness causes real trouble living as an independent adult” vs “this person won’t do what I want” destroyed a lot of support?

    • Understood and consistent “manners” make it easier for people who don’t naturally absorb those things to understand how they should behave in company. Clear, easy to follow rules might be incredibly annoying to people who naturally get all the weird nuance of extremely complex social expectations, but everyone else is handicapped. Which may or may not be the explicit *goal*. Considering that we can’t even say “this is how people should behave” because it might include a social norm that is “white patriarchy” — ignoring how racist it is to insist that a minority person can’t learn what any one else *also* has to learn because the same sort of teaching, “finishing” or books of manners, aren’t given to white people either — anyone not growing up in a family of a particular *class* is going to be and remain at a disadvantage. Anyone who’s not naturally skilled at observing and mimicking social complexities is going to be and remain at a disadvantage.

      You know… it’s just about GOT to be on purpose.

      • Jr. High kids had (hey it’s been almost 20 years, don’t know if still do this in the district) a required 1/2 year class that “taught” manners based on the setting & culture, both regional national & international. Often they practiced using the same meal type. Chicken with bones. Sometimes you used your hands, sometimes you didn’t, sometimes either are acceptable.

        Other districts in the area don’t offer this instruction, one of the other districts is in the same city.

      • If it is something that comes naturally to you– or if you simply have such a small pool of experience that you aren’t aware that there are really different manners– then it would make sense to dislike manners because you only “see” them when they get in the way.
        Add in a dash of “anybody who doesn’t follow the rules when they’re NOT in my way is actually just being deliberately rude and is bad” and it can be an accidental, though self-centered, thing.

  12. Note that the Leftist notion that everybody needs someone Just Like Them as a role model neatly blocks anyone from being The Very First to do something.

    Pioneers frighten the Left. We have a habit of upsetting their neat pseudo-feudal apple cart.

    • I have literally read a black woman saying that reading about a black woman in Peter S. Beagle’s Innkeeper’s Song was good, but not enough to get her to write them.

      It never occurred to her to observe that Beagle hasn’t need that much.

  13. *grumbles* I keep reading the title as “Cutting through the Cape,” which just BEGS for a story…but I like super-heroes.

    • Didn’t Ming wear a cape?

      • Point, but I can’t figure out how to make that work.

        I’ve got a vague, existing idea that is…um… K, know how we’ve talked about aid work doing damage?

        Now imagine someone who basically specializes in preventing the harm that super villains do by treating poor places as a resource area.

        The meme of “bad guys hire a village to do X and then wipe it out,” but instead there’s a Despots’R’Us that does it.

        • scott2harrison

          Considering the fate of caped heroes in “The Incredibles”, if you absolutely must wear a cape, an emergency cape cutter is a safety necessity.

          • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

            Actually, you should make sure that your cape comes off if pulled hard.

            Of course, your mask shouldn’t come off if your cape does.

            Note, Batman should have followed the second rule because in the Superman/Batman animated cross-over, his cape and cowl got pulled in front of Lois Lane. 😈

          • Unless you are Darth Vader and can use your Force powers to keep the cape from getting caught in stuff. Although his lightsaber is certainly capable of being an emergency cape cutter. Vader would not look nearly as menacing without the cape.

          • That was the only aspect of the movie that really annoyed me.

            It was stupid and pointless– especially since capes provide a practical use of breaking up an outline.

            Yeah, that as a sole mis-step is a backhanded praise to the movie, but….

      • (((As part of a long running family joke, I go to Home Despot for my bright green power tool needs.)))

    • Not only do supervillains wear them, you could write a story about attacks on superheroes NOT staged by your character — he helps against them.

      Or perhaps it’s a story where the character first learns that superheroes are not the paragons that he imagined, and then that it’s his fault that he imagined them, not that they are not heroes.

      “No man is a hero to his valet. This is not because the hero is not a hero, but because the valet is a valet.”

  14. > you can’t really tell why Shakespeare wrote what he wrote.

    I imagine most of it was to get to the “and then you get paid” part.

  15. As to role models, I once heard Bob Kane (the creator of Batman) lament the introduction of Robin. The Powers That Be claimed that Batman was read by kids, so the kids needed someone to Identify with. His reply, which I think most readers of even moderate voracity will vouchsafe, was that the readers identified with Batman. 12 year-olds don’t look to their peers for role models, they look to adults to figure how to be in the world.

  16. Testing 1, 2, 3 …

    • The things about which Leftys lie are legion!

      The Lefty Lies About a World Without Borders
      By Sarah Hoyt
      My husband recently noticed a lot of movies with the UN in a positive role, and basically a world-government role.

      Even though Husband is largely apolitical, this made him snort. Because even people who are mostly apolitical know the disaster that child-trafficking, aid-stealing UN “troops” are, at least when they’re not just U.S. troops flying the blue flag. (What is it with the blue flags, btw? That’s the EU too. Would white be too on the nose?)

      I told him that’s because the left always telegraphs their intentions. Before they were ready for Hilary! for instance, they ran movies and wrote books about a president that was basically Hillary for at least a decade and probably more. (I don’t watch TV and movies, save for odd jags, usually years after they first came out, so the actual release years are fuzzy.)

      And right now the left is so near that one-world-government, no borders, give peace a chance, John Lennon’s Imagine world they can taste it.

      Or so they think. Of course, they’re nowhere near it. What they are actually enabling is the plundering of the first world by the third and the destruction of civilization and the engine of creation and production that has lifted most of the world population to a level our ancestors would consider unimaginable wealth. (Yes, even most of the third world is richer than, say, Elizabethan England. But never mind that.) …

  17. Robin gives Batman someone to instruct. Kids read that…

    • It does make exposition easier.

    • Gahhh Robin the Boy Hostage. You can put money on how I voted when you could choose to kill or save Robin. Although the Nightwing Dick Grayson variant is fun (if a bit stodgy).

      • They could have actually done something interesting with the character…

        • The average comic book writer’s ideas of “interesting” things to do with a character seems not to interest much of the (remaining) comic-buying public, much less the vaster “I used to enjoy comics but …” public.

          We’re talking the geniuses who thought making Thor female, Steve Rogers a Hydra sleeper, and Hal Jordan a loser was “interesting.”

    • I have made multiple attempts to publish the opening paragraph, which seems entirely relevant to today’s post, and WP has refused to accept the post each and every time.

      “As we saw in Bernie Sanders’ campaign, the youngest generation of liberals is embracing socialism openly—something that would have been unheard of during the Cold War. At the same time, identity politics is on the ascendant, with its quasi-Nietzschean faith in race, sex, and power as the keys to being and meaning. In the #MeToo movement, for example—as we saw recently in Justice Kavanaugh’s confirmation battle—the credo is, “Believe the woman.” In other words, truth will emerge not from an adversarial process weighing evidence and testimony before the bar of reason, but from yielding to the will of the more politically correct. “Her truth” is stronger than any objective or disinterested truth.”

      • Opening sentences:

        Six years ago I wrote a book about Barack Obama in which I predicted that modern American liberalism, under pressures both fiscal and philosophical, would either go out of business or be forced to radicalize. If it chose the latter, I predicted, it could radicalize along two lines: towards socialism or towards an increasingly post-modern form of leadership. Today it is doing both.

      • Socialists who judge people based on racial/idenity groups….mmmm, now where have we seen that before?

  18. “We’re not a caste society (not even a chaste one. Apropos nothing. I almost spelled it that way, is all. Too much blood in my caffeine stream.)”
    I read it as “Chaste” and had to go back when I hit your parenthetical.
    Jameson was involved.
    And it’s very late for me,
    But I got a functioning furnace again.
    for now.
    Whether the booze is in celebration or as a coping device, is yet to be determined.

    • Patrick Chester

      Alcohol is our friend, I guess. 😀

    • yay for functioning furnace. I had to go out for a few moments and now 3 hours later I’m actually warm again.

      • It really sucked on Tuesday night as the house had cooled a lot as I worked on it and the controller finally died, and I had to go find my space heaters, as well as run to WallyWorld for a third, and the temps dropped to 7f according to the weather folks, I only saw 8f at the house before leaving for work, and a lower 6f but I wasn’t here, I was at work freezing (someone decided to use the fork as a golf cart and the remote opener stopped working early last winter . . . and of course that has yet to be fixed my work area cools to 35f in just a few minutes when they do that) but the moment I got home and sat down the cats took turns sitting on me in protest.

    • Spotted the local liquor vendor was discounting Appleton Estate 12-year-old rum.

      Somebody’s getting it in their Christmas stocking.

      • Of my younger sisters, my middle sis is the Rum lover. The oldest Sis is mostly a Tequila drinker (Margaritas) and the youngest wasn’t too picky (former bartender) but now does more rum, influenced by the nutty middle sis.
        Who am I kidding, they are all nutty.

  19. BobtheRegisterredFool

    https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/cupich-named-to-organizing-group-of-vaticans-february-meeting-on-abuse-crisis-49996

    I’d better sleep on the obnoxious comment I have about this. Maybe pray over it. I don’t often pray over temptations to say rude things, but perhaps I should develop that habit.

  20. On writing action: forcing myself to learn that is actually why I started my pulpy Viking web serial. Well, one reason. Just a thought.

  21. OT (Here?! Quell Surprise!)
    Just saw an ad for L. Ron pushing the drunken bet religion.
    as an atheist, I gotta say I rank it below Pastafarian in credibility.
    Well below

  22. “I did flop and flounder, and occasionally run in circles, screaming and shouting.”

    That’s actually a very standard human reaction to either exploring new, unknown territory, or being lost.

    As for 5′ 5″ meaning you’re not going to be a basketball star; Muggsy Bogues and Earl Boykins would both disagree with you. About the only thing that genetics predestines you for is which side of the reproductive combination you get to contribute.