Believing In The Future – A Guest Post By James Cambias

Believing In The Future – A Guest Post By James Cambias

I’ve got a new book coming out from Baen, called The Godel Operation. It’s an attempt to do far-future, hard-SF space opera. The story is set at the end of the Tenth Millennium, when a billion worlds circle the Sun. It’s full of Big Stuff: giant space habitats! An exawatt laser powered by black holes! The planet Mercury dismantled and turned into a titanic computer ring around the Sun! It was a lot of fun to write, and I’m working on a second novel in the same setting.

That second book is a lot harder to write. The problem isn’t the story or the characters. I think it’s a good solid book and I expect I’ll be pleased with it when I’m done. But I’m having a lot more difficulty making myself believe it.

Despite a genocidal war in the Fourth Millennium, and various tyrants, menaces, and perils, my Billion Worlds setting is fundamentally optimistic. We will spread beyond Earth, we will build great things. The people of the Tenth Millennium aren’t looking back, they’re facing ahead: a mature Dyson Sphere civilization ready to spread across the Galaxy.

I could believe that last year as I wrote The Godel Operation. The first year of the “Lockdown” was no handicap for a self-employed writer. I just spent more time on my porch and less time in coffeeshops. (It probably made me more productive, to be honest.)

But now . . . four months into 2021 it’s a lot harder to be optimistic. At times I honestly believe I am watching the end of America, possibly the end of civilization. How can I write about remaking the Solar System when science is being turned into propaganda and technophobes shut down powerplants and eviscerate space exploration?

It’s worthwhile to look back and remember what the legendary writers who built the science fiction genre had to live through. The darkest time of the Second World War was probably 1941-1942. Britain’s survival hung by a thread; Russia was reeling under German attacks; unprepared America saw its navy wrecked in a single morning.

And in those dark times Heinlein wrote “Universe” and “Methuselah’s Children” and “Requiem.” Immortality! Space travel! Voyages to the stars! Asimov wrote “Robbie” and “Homo Sol” and “Foundation.” Artificial intelligence! Galactic federations! Planet-spanning cities! Jack Williamson wrote “Collision Orbit.” Terraforming! Antimatter!

In the worst years of the 20th Century they looked ahead. When “serious” and “realistic” thinkers in government and the academy assumed democracy and freedom were obsolete, crazy dreamers wrote trashy pulp stories . . . which inspired the men who went to the Moon a generation later.

When the armies of ignorance and fanaticism are chanting dirges of despair, science fiction writers have a duty to refuse to sing along. Our job is to remind people that it doesn’t have to be like this. Remind them that their children can reach for the stars instead of grubbing in the sustainable manure pile. Keep the flame burning, even if it has to be through self-published books and samizdat fanzines. When the Empire of lies falls, our Foundation will endure and inspire the ones who will colonize the Solar System.

So that’s our job now: we have to make ourselves believe in an optimistic future, because that’s the only way that future will ever come about. Now, if you all will excuse me, I have to get back to work. There’s a future to build.

176 thoughts on “Believing In The Future – A Guest Post By James Cambias

  1. We may have to give a blood sacrifice of the lives of tyrants to bless the new foundations. Some folks just don’t understand the concept of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness don’t apply just to them, but to everyone. And those who would deny them deserve none of them.

    1. The “We” in “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” refers not just to the Founding Fathers but to all Americans everywhere (remember that our BBESP was one of the millions of Americans unfortunate enough to be born with the wrong passport) and in every time. Our problem is that we now have one of the major political parties completely controlled by anti-American forces and the other political party has a significant portion of non-Americans in it.

      I think we’re seeing the end of the Second American Republic, but not the end of America. The first republic lasted a few years, Americans learned from the errors and made a republic that lasted a couple of centuries. The Third American Republic will learn from the mistakes of the second and last longer, perhaps even a millennium. And by then we’ll have spawned daughter republics (not colonies) among the stars.

  2. “And in those dark times Heinlein wrote “Universe” and “Methuselah’s Children” and “Requiem.” Immortality! Space travel! Voyages to the stars! Asimov wrote “Robbie” and “Homo Sol” and “Foundation.” Artificial intelligence! Galactic federations! Planet-spanning cities! Jack Williamson wrote “Collision Orbit.” Terraforming! Antimatter!”

    This paragraph made my heart leap in affirmation!

    “TO INFINITY, AND BEYOND!” (I have a Buzz Lightyear doll, who talks on command, on my windowsill. For inspiration.)

    God bless this author.

  3. “This you knows. The years travel fast. And time after time I’ve done the Tell. But this ain ‘t one body’s Tell. It’s the Tell of us all, and you got to listen it and ‘member, ’cause what you hears today, you got to tell the newborn tomorrow. I’s looking behind us now, into history back. I sees those of us that got the luck and started the haul for home. It lead us here and we was heartful ’cause we seen what there once was. One look, and we knewed we’d got it straight. Those what had gone before had knowing of things beyond our reckoning even beyond our dreaming. Time counts and keeps countin’, and we knows now finding the trick of what’s been and lost ain’t no easy ride. But that’s our trek, we gotta’ travel it. And there ain’t nobody knows where it’s gonna’ lead. Still in all, every night we does the Tell, so that we ‘member who we was and where we came from… but most of all we ‘members the man that finded us, him that came the salvage. And we lights the city, not just for him, but for all of them that are still out there. ‘Cause we knows there come a night, when they sees the distant light, and they’ll be comin’ home.”
    Savannah Nix, Mad Max Beyond Thnderdome

    1. OK, one good quote deserves another:

      “There is a greater darkness than the one we fight. It is the darkness of the soul that has lost its way. The war we fight is not against powers and principalities; it is against chaos and despair. Greater than the death of flesh is the death of hope, the death of dreams. Against this peril we can never surrender. The future is all around us, waiting, in moments of transition, to be born in moments of revelation. No one knows the shape of that future or where it will take us. We know only that it is always born in pain.” — G’Kar, Babylon 5

      1. Good choice, and I was tempted to reply with the B5 mantra. However, as liberal in many ways as David Brin is, he’s not around the bend, and he understands some hard truths:

        Elena looked down at her enemy of all these years. Chang’s mouth gaped open — crammed full of powder which trailed off to the limp hand of the young recruit she had spoken to early in the evening. Even dying, riddled with bullets, this soldier apparently had a sense of symmetry, of poetry.
        A Peacekeeping Forces non-com sat near the boy smoothing a lock of ruffled hair. The corporal looked up at Elena.
        “Senterius was a lousy shot. Never showed any promise at all with weapons. Guess he improvised though. He graduated.”
        Elena turned away, disgusted by the maudlin, adolescent sentiment. Warriors, she thought. The world is finally growing up though. Someday soon we’ll be well rid of them at last.
        Still, why was it she all of a sudden felt as if she had walked into a temple? Or that the spirits of all the martyred creatures were holding silent, reverent watch right now, along with the mourning corporal?
        It was another woman’s low voice Elena seemed to hear then, so briefly it was all too easy to dismiss as an echo, or a momentary figment of exhaustion. Still, she briefly closed her eyes and swayed.
        “There will be an end to war, the voice seemed to say, with gentle patience.
        “But there will always be a need for heroes.”
        —–
        David Brin, “Earth”

        1. Perhaps one more:
          Doesn’t matter what the press says. Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say. Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right. This nation was founded on one principle above all else: the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or the consequences. When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move, your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth, and tell the whole world — “No, you move.”

  4. Nope. Legendary writers also wrote cautionary tales; 1984, Animal Farm, Brave New World, etc.

    I don’t think it a writer’s job to be Pollyanna. However if that starting point leads to a rousing good tale, I’m down with that.

    1. We need both the ‘dance maps’ (“step here”) of Great Dreams AND the ‘landmine maps’ (“Do NOT step here!”) of Dire Warnings. And to keep fools, and those far worse than mere fools, from mixing them up, yes.

        1. Could have fooled me given the way the Tranzis behave. Though perhaps more a little more “Brave New World”..

    2. I dislike the notion that something aspiring is “Pollyanna”. Pollyanna is boring, at least outside of the real world where it would be good if we all thought the best of each other.

      But trying to write? I have to make myself not write reasonable people who figure out their stuff properly and nothing really happens. It’s the most realistic thing, but it’s not interesting.

      Deep and depressing is also boring. Stasis is boring.

      Throwing characters into a dynamic or even chaotic situation doesn’t have to be negative and what good is a story if there’s nothing to triumph over?

      Maybe I’m the only one but I’ve never been a Trekkie, much. But Star Trek is supposed to be so great because it’s (at least used to be) so positive. The wonderful Federation with no scarcity and no want, no poverty and no money? I liked the reboot because Vulcan blew up and they didn’t fix it. Couldn’t. But they could go forward, and just going forward seemed profoundly hopeful to me in a way that the franchise never really was.

      “We’re strong enough to deal with this,” isn’t Pollyanna.

      1. Having actually read Pollyanna (the price was right) I have to say that she gets unfairly maligned. For its era, it’s a perfectly good little orphan girl thrown into the custody of a relative who would really rather not have custody story. There were quite a lot of those, I’ve noticed, at that time. Pollyanna puts herself to work generally being kind, cheerful, and useful, in spite of being unwanted and disliked, and people end up liking her. It’s very much the same genre of story as A Little Princess and The Secret Garden: one of those impressing on girls that one may not control one’s circumstances but one certainly may control one’s attitude and behavior, and a good attitude and charitable behavior may lead to improvement in one’s circumstances.

        An awful lot of modern society (looks pointedly at all the SJW movements) would benefit from such an attitude and behavior adjustment.

        1. I liked Pollyanna. I her attitude of do what I can, even if it’s only my attitude. And that she was interested in people who others had put into a box which helped them improve too. She was contagious.

          An Old Fashioned Girl has some of those too.

    3. And Harrison Bergeron. Notice how they are trying to remove gifted programs and all the rest?

  5. This is a fantastic post, and came at a good time–I am staring at my final edits for a book I forced myself to write because if I don’t write, I don’t have a salary. And a lot of me has been thinking ‘oh yes, my far future with friendly alien species, and rebuilding after war, and it’s hard to care anymore.’

    This has reminded me that even I don’t care, I might be helping someone who can care keep doing their thing. Thank you. *bows*

    1. As the arms race went on and WWIII seemed ever more probable/immanent, Richard Feynman questioned if doing anything was worthwhile. Eventually he figured that things were “keeping on” and progress was a good thing. And, WWIII as it had been imagined still hasn’t happend.

    2. “This has reminded me that even I don’t care, I might be helping someone who can care keep doing their thing. Thank you. *bows*”

      This is so great. I’m glad you wrote it because that helped me. 🙂

      1. It helped me a lot, too. It also helps a lot to see other people pushing themselves to do their work, their real work. That’s what’s going to save us all–doing the work, bravely as we can.

    3. *Offers hugs* I’m finishing the edits/index on Gateway to Fiction by grit and determination. Next project I start I want to write uplifting and hopeful, but I know it’s going to be hard. The lockdown and the economy crashing are bad, but things we can recover from. The breakdown in the legal system and loss of faith in the country as a whole? That’s soul-crushing.

      Yes, your books definitely help. It’s just hard for each of us to see at ground level what wider effects we have!

      (Now if I can just find a good town map for somewhere in the Appalachian foothills so I can ground the Oni books in as much reality as possible….)

      1. Satellite view on Bing?

        HEY, GUYS! I know we’ve got folks from that area here– anybody got a town they’d suggest?

          1. It’s my favorite map-view on Bing!

            They take the satellite images and match them to the roads and such– we used it when we were shopping for houses in Iowa, from Texas; so we were able to look at houses in this town:
            https://www.bing.com/maps?osid=026091a8-2602-4871-8185-e8fead9941b4&cp=41.51686~-94.228872&lvl=16&style=h&imgid=ea9de5ff-9d44-4f95-aeeb-cf801198409a&v=2&sV=2&form=S00027

            and get an idea of what they look like for oh, that’s houses, that’s shopping type development, there’s some industrial stuff, and a park, and half the time the stores have a facebook or similar that gives you pictures of the area. Dexter doesn’t have it, but a lot of the towns have the street-side view, too, so you can “walk around.”

            1. At least around here, Bing’s sat view is more up-to-date than “Don’t be caught at evil”.` Qwant has a map view, too, but I usually head for Bing.

              1. Yeah, they have some real howlers on some of their labeling, but they do tend to be more recent and much more likely to link to J Random Source of data. (Like, say, Travelwhatever.)

          2. This might be more on point– Hot Springs, NC.
            https://www.bing.com/maps?osid=c774e0d4-3ddc-4d13-96be-38600c21f4f7&cp=35.892247~-82.830178&lvl=16&style=h&v=2&sV=2&form=S00027

            So I look at the map of the town, the Smokey Mountain Diner looks interesting, I click on it and there’s a bunch of pictures of the place, the food, and the area, mostly from Trip Advisor, and I can see it’s across the road from an inn, and I can see houses on one side and some sort of a store on the other side, funny looking building behind it zoom in and see two school busses parked, so probably the school.

              1. You can also go on a real estate website like realtor or zillow, type in the name of the town, and look at houses in that area. Then click on the map of where it is, and check for grocery stores, gas stations, restaurants, etc around. That’s what I did when shopping for houses, as well. I knew where I’d be working, and wanted to see if there would be grocery stores in the vicinity of where we were looking at houses.

                There’s a 12 mile standoff distance from my work, and a bunch of game preserves and wildlife refuges and such about, so finding a house in the area, and near to a supermarket was actually quite the challenge.

          1. Beaver, WV. Not really foothills–it’s above the New River gorge. But the industrial infrastructure is plenty old enough to have its own spirit. The rails sing, the mining equipment tap out their rhythms, the old trucks rumble in their low voices, and the Welsh, black, and Tidewater English residents all hear what their cultures have trained them to hear…

      2. Check Murphy and Brasstown, NC. Both are near the Tennessee border and Brasstown is the home of the JC Campbell Folk School, meaning it’s the center of an artists’ colony. They’re not far from the Ocoee River gorge, site of the 1996 Olympics and the movie, “Deliverance.”
        Up the road from Murphy, you have the Nantahala gorge, which has whitewater rafting and a very serene atmosphere. Also, less pleasingly, the new homes of the wealthy. Don’t remember if that’s highway 19 or 23.

        1. “They’re not far from the Ocoee River gorge, site of the 1996 Olympics and the movie, “Deliverance.””

          And the best one liner was delivered by country duo Brooks and Dunn combining those two claims to fame. It seems they were brought in for color commentary on the kayaking competition:

          “You know, Dunn, that if Ned Beaty couldn’t make it through that gorge unmolested, no Frenchman in spandex bike shorts has a chance….”

          Rumor has it that the 15 second delay was installed in under an hour… 😎

      3. Two years ago I started a deist fantasy MG series and wrote the first book of four (think a cross between Anne of Green Gables and Narnia). I really want to write the other three but I am finding it hard to be in that space, because it is so wholesome and everything around me feels poisoned. -_-

        I am hoping later this year to try to pick it up again. In the meantime, I am continuing in my current series because at least those I have outlines for.

        1. Sounds like a plan.

          ATM my brain is hamster-wheeling between two unwritten ideas and two unfinished rough drafts. I’m going to try to aim for the unwritten light fantasy romance trilogy one if possible, the others as side projects/ work on in-between bits.

            1. *Wry* Turns out most of a year of five-hours-sleep-a-night-if lucky and then cleaning up an estate really does a number on creativity, and more importantly the oomph to stick to something long enough to finish it. Aaaand then 2020, and “hold my beer” of this year.

              One of the reasons I tackled Gateway to Fiction in the first place is, I figured putting together a worldbuilding reference would get a book written while still giving the creative oomph time to recover. Hopefully it’ll work!

                1. One foot at a time.

                  …If you’re looking for an anime, may I recc Fate/ Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia? I will warn you that eps 15 and 16 are “rip your heart out and stomp on it” territory, but after that it goes to more last-ditch tactic after tactic, and the ending is Awesome.

                  Given the current political climate, I’m considering a rewatch.

  6. What’s sad is that some of those writers were Liberal/Progressive by the standards of their time but were able to write optimistic stories (and yes plenty wrote “warning stories”).

    Too many of the Liberal/Progressive writers seem to be unable to write optimistic stories.

    It is Wrong-Thinking writers who write the optimistic stories. 😉

  7. There is NO future! It is a Sequentialist illusion that ALL adherents of the True Simultaneity Faith recognize and eschew.
    ~

          1. And that must stand as my excuse. Though older son gets very upset when I stand in the middle of the street, arms at my waist and yell vaguely heavenward “THIS you consider a plot? Get a critique group.”
            He says…. it will cause talk.

            1. I think you’re a little late to worry about causing talk… 😛

              Reminds me of a scene in ‘Ishmael’ when Spock asks a 19th century girl why she walked home in the freezing rain rather than spend the night at a man’s house.

              She: “It would cause talk.”
              Spock: “And talk is more to be feared than pneumonia?”
              She: “Of course! You can get over pneumonia!”

  8. “But now . . . four months into 2021 it’s a lot harder to be optimistic. At times I honestly believe I am watching the end of America, possibly the end of civilization.”

    Eh. I’m not impressed with the current crop of Mongols. Bunch of opportunists and mentally challenged fruitbats, backed by highschool kids wearing hockey pads and black sweatshirts. Not very intimidating compared to the Cold War, you ask me.

    I’m writing because I can’t stand reading their virtue signaling bullshit any longer. The extended year of 2020 (aka Covid-Hell) has been business as usual here at Chez Phantom. Once I figured out we weren’t all going to die I got back to my typing. Got a lot of wording done.

    Something I’ve been doing that helps my mental state is doing virtual war on all the faceless institutions I don’t like. In my books the characters can find out -exactly- who ordered the idiotic attack on their friends, go to his house in North Korea and punch him in the face. In fact they sent a werewolf and the Evil Queen of the Unseelie to punch him. My over-stressed Old Guy nerves find this dishing out of just desserts very soothing indeed. Hopefully readers will as well.

    When in doubt, fly up and nuke ’em from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.

    Your book sounds awesome, incidentally. Congrats!

    1. The real Mongols -including the ones currently living in Mongolia – would not be impressed with the current bunch of spoiled brats attempting to emulate them. Quite the contrary, in fact, given that the Mongols voted out their communist leadership in a free and fair election, with virtually no civil strife leading up to it, and don’t seem keen to revert.

  9. We’re all Leibowitz now.

    Or, trying to not need to quite be Leibowitz. And positivity is the thing that was lacking in so much for so long.

      1. Luciferum ruisse mihi dicis? (roughly Are you telling me Lucifer is Fallen?)
        So far we have avoided the Flame Deluge. With the idiot(s) allegedly in charge poking Russia and inciting China be being weak I’m beginning to resume be worried for the first time in 20 years…

  10. Everybody is throwing around quotes, how about this one:

    “…in Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace – and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

    Western Civilization does this sort of thing every five hundred years or so. The 30 Years War flattened Central Europe right after Gutenberg, Copernicus, and Luther ripped the intellectual guts out of the Middle Ages–but their age is remembered as an age of learning and enlightenment. Does it suck to live through such an age? Yes, without a doubt. But here’s another quote:

    “I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness, and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end, because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines, it’ll shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.

    “What are we holding on to, Sam?

    “That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo…and it’s worth fighting for.”

      1. I’m finding great comfort in The Chronicles of Narnia right now. Currently in the middle of my second favorite after The Magician’s Nephew, The Horse and His Boy. Planning on rereading LotR after that.

          1. The Horse and His Boy is the favorite around here. If you can find the Focus on the Family audio version it’s awesome with David Suchet as Aslan (when he finally shows up 🙂 ).

    1. A little unfair to Switzerland. They also produced Einstein, CERN, lots of precision tools, general wealth and literacy long before it was “cool”, and a culture that has been a defender of the right to privacy in a totalitarian world. A sane, stable, peaceful place may be devoid of the sort of creativity violent passion and desperation produces, but it’s got its charms if you just want to be left alone to build things.

      1. There’s a lot of truth in what you say, but the point stands that chaos and culture are not necessarily incompatible, and the quote is irresistible.

    2. Sam always helps when the story, like now, feels especially dark and unnavigable. Thanks! 🙂

  11. THIS!
    The future can be great. Visions of actual progress ( as opposed to vileProgs) are fuel for sanity in these deranged times.
    Time for a book binge!

  12. Ashli Babbitt was murdered in the Congressional Massacre. Unlike the British soldiers at the Boston Massacre, the D.C. Cop wasn’t even charged, much less taken to court for his actions, actions that had even less justification than the Brits had over 200 years ago.

    1. I’m feeling this Jeffersonian urge to start writing down a list of grievances. We have been provoked beyond all reason or measure.

      I think it’s the Boston Massacre that is the beginning of the HBO series John Adams?

      1. I think so. Adams took the soldiers case and got them off pretty much without any punishment other than I think one of them got fined or a light caning. I’d have to go look it up.

        1. IIRC The Officer In Charge got a “face brand” of “M” for Manslaughter but yes that was minor compared to the punishment for Murder (which Samuel Adams’ faction wanted).

          1. Per Wikipedia, 4/23/2021, “Eight soldiers, one officer, and four civilians were arrested and charged with murder, and they were defended by future U.S. President John Adams. Six of the soldiers were acquitted; the other two were convicted of manslaughter and given reduced sentences. The two found guilty of manslaughter were sentenced to branding on their hand” (thumb).

  13. And a more mundane example.
    I had my gallbladder out Monday. If you’ve had it done, you know everyone and her cat tells you, “Get up and move around.” I gather the surgical team shoots you full of gas as part of the procedure.
    Them: “Get up and move around.”
    Me: “But it hurts!” It hurts a bunch, in fact, especially since I still have nine of my 10 oxycodone pills.
    Them: ” You need to get up and move around.”
    I admit I wasn’t good about it Tuesday, but the last two days I’ve been trying to move around, and by golly, they’re right. It does help.
    So, an example of, “Keep moving, and things will get better. Even if you have to bite your lip a lot. Move.”

    1. When I had mine out I staggered to my feet the same day and started limping down the hallways like some kind of zombie. The nurses were all like ‘thumbs up, if you think you’re going to fall, stay close to the walls.’ XD

      1. Couldn’t manage it (aside from staggering into the house) Monday, but trying to do better now.
        Grateful I could get it done now.

        1. Put one foot in front of the other
          And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor
          Put one foot in front of the other
          And soon you’ll be walking out the door

          You never will get where you’re going
          If you never get up on your feet
          Come on, there’s a good tail wind blowing
          A fast walking man is hard to beat

          Put one foot in front of the other
          And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor
          Put one foot in front of the other
          And soon you’ll be walking out the door

          If you want to change your direction
          If your time of life is at hand
          Well don’t be the rule, be the exception
          A good way to start is to stand

          Put one foot in front of the other
          And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor
          Put one foot in front of the other
          And soon you’ll be walking out the door

          If I want to change the reflection
          I see in the mirror each morn
          (Oh you do!)
          You mean that it’s just my election
          (Just that!)
          To vote for a chance to be reborn

          You put one foot in front of the other
          And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor
          You put one foot in front of the other
          And soon you’ll be walking out the door

          Put one foot in front of the other
          And soon you’ll be walking ‘cross the floor
          Put one foot in front of the other
          And soon you’ll be walking out the door

    2. I’m glad you’re feeling better. Surgery is just yuk no matter what.

      I followed your advice today and kept moving. Did some spin casting on the beach in the wind and sun. It helped. It always does.

  14. This has been what I’ve been struggling with a bit this year too. And before.

    I’m an engineer. I want to believe civilization is going somewhere decent to avoid the sort of despair that flattens my creativity and ability to work. (Well, over and above going through the motions.)

    This is on top of the sheer waste of my life and time due to the sclerotic bureaucracy I’ve contended with throughout my working life. It’d be the work of a lifetime simply to repair the deficit, in my skills and resources. I hope I can pull it off and still contribute something that exists free of the terribly unreal powerpoint world I’ve been trapped in.

    Reading history reminds me that civilization has faced nastier enemies before. It’s never before unilaterally surrendered in the face of such impotent evil in quite this pathetic way, but we aren’t facing the Nazis here. I just need to stop reading Russian history: This is beginning to remind me a lot of that – a sheer vacuum of decency and principle at every level of official authority, opposed only by the tortured and helpless.

  15. Know I’ll get flamed for this but this all pretty much why I stopped writing. Two long term stories it the fantasy elements were more plausible than the honest fibbie I was writing. Same reason I haven’t watched anything on space program or stuff like band of brothers in a decade.

    1. Seems logical– if you can’t sell the story to YOU, how can you sell it to someone else?

      Even if I do think that’s a sign of depression…..

      1. Oh I won’t say it’s not. I’ve accepted I’ll have it all my life. But events and my expected future just cannot get interest again and having put effort into them just made me not want to waste more on stuff even if it’s farther from reality and easier to dissociate.

    1. Any sufficiently advanced bullshitting is indistinguishable from competence.

      Which is of course balanced with:

      There’s always a better bullshitter out there. The key to happiness is identifying them and refraining from bullshitting them.

  16. I don’t consider WWII some great victory for the human race. Hundreds of thousands were sacrificed to put down a minor tinpot dictator, in order to help FDR’s buddy Josef Stalin essentially become world dictator. Evil always wins, and it’s well past time that we became as evil as the monsters who are eating our lunch.

      1. Interrogator: “You can’t win.”
        Sheridan: “Yes I can.”
        Interrogator: “How?”
        Sheridan: “Every time I say NO.”

          1. You know. I’m depressed today. Not real depression, but one of the auto-immune flares.
            The thing is I’m fighting one battle already.
            It makes my patience micron thin.
            But it’s not me, is it? Benedict Arnold and Tokyo Rose really are special snowflakes today.

            1. Sorry to hear of your depression. Sometimes I get moods myself during or just before heavy migraine attacks. Have to keep in mind that I can’t trust the way I see the world, and focus on the things in my immediate vicinity.

              To make up for some melodramatic moaning earlier that got caught in your spam trap:
              On interesting future stuff that’s going on right now:
              I’ve been watching some very interesting youtube channels recently. One is this guy in toronto that renovated a small room in an industrial building and turned it into a genetic engineering lab.

              The Thought Emporium: Very interesting stuff, IMO. And it’s interesting on many levels in that it’s a very “distributed” sort of technological frontier, based on stuff you can get from any living creature. There are now apparently $1000 USB gene sequencers that can do 50 kBp reads, and companies that can write DNA to order.

              1. That last bit is why I’m really hopeful for the new mRNA vaccines. If they pan out we could quickly get to the point where developing a vaccine for a new virus could take a weekend.

            2. Forgive me, but I want to make sure I’m not drawing your ire.

              Admit I’m blackpilled and honestly of opinion that wwii may have backed wrong side body count wise bit try not to cross line.

              Although if so I claim Benedict since he was war hero first. 😛

                1. If you mean the one bleating about “dying on that hill” in the “Sparing the Rod” thread… yeah.

                  (Why doesn’t anyone ever think of mining/trapping the crap out of the hill, make the enemy drown in their own blood taking it and then revealing you were never there in the first place and are hitting their logistical strongpoints?) 😉

          2. I know a guy who whenever he’s accosted by some Nazi-LARPer and their hero worship, makes fun of Hitler for killing himself with a wussy .32 instead of using something louder and more manly. Sure seems to disrupt their focus. 😀

    1. In an ideal world both Stalin and Hitler would have both been defeated and we’d have had a post-war world rid of both fascism and communism.

      We don’t live in an ideal world, I’m afraid.

    2. Addressing the audience: I have not commented here much, lately, but people still remember me. And plenty of you talk to me on Facebook and other forums. I’m certain many can attest that you’ve never seen me use profanity or vulgarity for emphasis.

      That said, as the grandson of four Holocaust survivors, I have only two words of response to “Ken”:

      Fuck. You.

      1. Most “minor tinpot dictators” don’t conquer half a continent outright

      2. Profanity/vulgarity is much more powerful when used sparingly. I loved you very occasional comments in TvP on Baen’s Bar.

    3. “it’s well past time that we became as evil as the monsters who are eating our lunch.”

      NEVER SIR! Extremism in defense of liberty is no evil.

    4. Stalin’s empire has since fallen apart. America is still here, if on crutches with a bandaged head… but you should see the other guy….

    5. WTF-“a minor tinpot dictator”?-who conquered most of Europe, would have conquered the UK without our providing arms to them, and whose cause de bella was the extermination of every single person he deemed to be “subhuman”, i.e. Jews, then Romani, Slavs, and pretty much everyone who was not an Aryan. And of course there was also Imperial Japan and their campaign of global consequence and mass murder.\

      This is the first time I have ever flamed another poster. There is good reason for doing so this time.

      1. “subhuman”, i.e. Jews, then Romani, Slavs, and pretty much everyone who was not an Aryan

        Don’t forget the Polish, to be slaughtered and harvested for “Aryan” children.

        And the goons were not shy about redefining anybody who was not useful as being not really fill-in-the-blank.

        From way before that, too– the man who became Pope Pius XII helped draft an encyclical called “The Church and the German Reich” and was deemed “all-Jew” for that effort. The Pope who published it was only declared “Half-Jewish”!

        1. And note the way that the Nazi’s successors among the Democratic Party/left denounce as “race traitors” or “actually white” people like Candace Owens who dare challenge the Critical Race Theory narrative.

      2. I’ve actually had the thought, generated by an interview with his housekeeper, that Hitler =was= in fact a jumped-up tinpot dictator, and “proving he was the real thing” was part of what made him the evil cretin we know and loathe today. That he caused** a huge mess notwithstanding, his personal mindset seems to have been very small and quite petty yet with massive delusions, like someone defending an outhouse by laying waste to the countryside around it.

        ** or at least contributed mightily to; I regard him as Stalin’s patsy, since the idea seems to have been “Let’s you and him fight and beat the shit out of each other, so we Soviets can roll in afterward and take over all of Europe without firing a shot.” Ooops.

        1. That’s not a tin-pot dictator.

          That’s human evil. Yeah, tin-pot dictators have it, and random thugs, and even that guy down the road who never actually kills anyone but destroys all he touches.
          Because human.

  17. And for more of “the only constant is change” looks like my company is going from cubes to a nearly majority “work remotely/hot desk” set up.

    On the one hand, I don’t want to lose my desk storage, but on the other hand, I’m realizing, I really prefer to work remotely. Sometimes it’s useful to be in person, but it eats up at least two hours of my day, and just costs more in general.

    It may be time to do a lot of work setting up my home office as a permanent home office.

      1. Yeah. We’ll have to keep the facility open, since it’s also a factory, but it sounds like they’re going to be replacing a lot of the desk space with hardware labs and production floor space.

        I’m thinking we may end up with more program specific work spaces: i.e. a bunch of hot desks around a lab, and when a program has reserved that lab, the core team nomads it over to that space.

        May end up being a big improvement too. We shuffle programs enough that by the time we’ve got the team all moved into neighboring desks, we’re all working different things.

        It just feels weird, is all. Even if the next era is better, it’s still the end of an era. Seem to be having that happen a lot lately.

        1. Last company I worked at has downsized the office. Will be 4 people at most in the office + servers. The 4 have their reasons for going into an office VS working at home. The other remaining 3 or 4? Two of them, they are out of town and have worked from home for the last 5+ years, or more. Ironically, one of the triggers that prompted me to go ahead and quit (retire) was being told I couldn’t work from home. Best kick in the pants, ever … (the reason I wanted to work at home is a whole different issue, but whatever, at this point).

  18. *You know. I’m depressed today. Not real depression, but one of the auto-immune flares.*
    Was reading a new book about Lyme yesterday (title “Chronic”). It says there’s research into autoimmune issues being originally triggered by a virus or bacterium or even a parasite. Interesting.

    1. That’s one hypothesis I’ve heard: you get something in childhood that primes your immune system so that when you get something else later in life, the immune system goes nuts and starts attacking everything in sight.

      Of course, it will probably remain a hypothesis forever, because good luck trying to create a study that will ever let you track down that sort of thing…

    2. Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (autoimmune thyroid disease) is known to sometimes be a secondary effect of some other infection, like strep or influenza. Basically the rest of you gets well, but the thyroid gland doesn’t, leading to it eventually being attacked as a hive of foreigners. (It is much more likely to happen with existing untreated hypothyroidism, probably because it’s already overworked.)

  19. I’ve had to remind myself of this several times over the past few years. Things are bad, but that’s hardly a unique situation in the history of mankind. Just gotta keep on working. At least until the autonomous swarm of killer drones finds you.

  20. My religious leaders are always telling me (and my fellow church members) to be of good cheer. I need to better at that. The future is as bright as my faith.

  21. There was a time when I believed in the potential of humans to achieve something great. Like Ben Bova’s “1491.”

    Here’s a snippet:
    —-
    And today, we stand on the edge of a new sea, just as dark and dangerous as the Atlantic once was. And even more promising. A new sea that begins a hundred miles above your head.

    The new sea of space.

    This generation of humankind—our generation—has an opportunity that has not been offered to humanity since 1492. In merely the brief forays into space that we have made so far, we have found treasures of natural resources large enough to completely transform civilization, to erase poverty and build a new global civilization of wealth and freedom.

    A few bold and farsighted humans have already begun this quest. They are the leaders of humankind’s new era of expansion, outward to the moon and Mars, then farther until we have reached all the bodies of the solar system. And ultimately to the stars themselves.

    Our future is limitless.

    You ain’t seen nothin’ yet.
    —-

    Now I’m falling back toward RAH’s definition:
    —-
    “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.

    This is known as “bad luck.”
    —-

    There was also Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged” — but we have no real-life “John Galt”.

    We need Divine Intervention. In fact, we need _The_ Savior.

    May it please God that we have a chance to “unreject” Him and turn back.

    1. Take but one step back toward the Lord, and you will find Him meeting you on the path. From the Yom Kippur liturgy – not a direct quote.

      1. Yes, but that does not (necessarily) mean that He grants sensible consolations that assure you that of His presence.

        “My God, my God, why have You abandoned me?” is straight out of the Psalms.

    2. If there’s one single thing that I’m most pissed about the stolen election, it is this:

      I watched Trump say, “We’re going to Mars,” and knew that here was a man who understood that spirit of the frontier, that need to keep exploring and overcoming risks, not running away from them in search of stasis and perfect safety. He’d looked up, said, “Why has it been 50 years since we last went to the moon??” then had a second thought: “In that case, we should aim higher.”

      And when the cheats took over… I knew that so long as they’re in charge, it will never happen.

      Just one more reason why we need to Bring Back America.

          1. They literally call exploring the moon and other planets in our solar system as “racist colonialism and oppression”. I would say that you can’t make this stuff up but the left pretty much just makes everything up with no connection to reality whatsoever.

            They are the people that DESERVE to be attacked by aliens who show them what real colonization would be or to be smashed by the asteroid/comet hitting the Earth. They cheer movies where the valiant space crew saves the Earth from annihilation and yet want to eliminate anything that facilitates the technology to actually do so. It’s as if they want to see humanity wiped out…oh wait, some of them expressly do seek that. Of course all other life would be devastated as while, but in the sick lefty view, they think it is worth it.

      1. What, you think they will allow escape from Earth? They remember King George’s problem with all those far-off colonies.

  22. While we look to the future, the Democratic Party and their mouthpieces seek to rewrite the past, including the recent past:

    https://www.foxnews.com/media/paul-krugman-suggests-rampaging-mobs-looting-cities-gop-make-believe

    Democratic Party and their media arm are all in on gaslighting people into believing the Democratic Party paramilitary arm riots never occurred

    Twitter and Facebook, et. al., of course will not fact check or censor as “misinformation” Krugman’s demonstrably false claim that there were no riots last summer.

    1. And in other news, Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. All citizens remembering that Oceania has always been at war with Eurasia last week report for re-education.

            1. The “No Red Meat” FICUS was bleating about reminded me of the trailer for Escape from LA.

                1. I believe that if you look closely you will discover that it is not purely white, there is usually a yellow streak through it.
                  ~

    2. Remember when Krugman was saying that it wasn’t his child porn on his cellphone?

  23. This is something that I’ve tried to explain to everyone that is willing to sit still and listen.

    I know the world is terrible. It always is. Somewhere, it’s terrible-and beautiful. Somewhere it’s horrible-and wonderful. Somewhere, people are terribly sad-and wonderfully happy.

    However, if you watch the news, it’s all horrible, all the time. And, I swear to God, the horrible and terrible have been weaponized because it gets eyeballs on screen and gives more people that cortisol high of vicariously watching the disasters of others. You watch TV, the United States has never been a more racists, sexist, homophobic, and terrible country, even worse than when the Know Nothings and the KKK were around.

    But…it isn’t. Not if you look at the facts. Even if there’s quite a bit of bias error, things are doing pretty damned good on a general scale. There’s issues-s(YAY!)t loads of them. Which nobody wants to talk about because that would ruin the holy, precious, all-important narrative. A narrative that needs to be propagated because it’s the secular opiate, a replacement for religions that have failed to offer anything to worshipers. If things are wrong and terrible and horrible-you can act in such a way to be right.

    I don’t want to worship at this church-the faith is one that pagans should be running away from. I want hope and a reach towards something better than where we are now.

    Give me good, happy stories. And, if I can’t find them new-I’ll go with the classics.

Comments are closed.