Pardon My Lateness

I hope no one was alarmed by my sudden disappearance. I know, these days you never know what can happen to a person who is not paying attention. The watermelons in my garden might have ganged up on me, and killed me in a sugar rush. Or perhaps the bugs that ate my tomatoes might have held me hostage (for more tomatoes.)

In fact, I was my usual ditsy self and completely forgot that Dan had an appointment for his eyes — which means a ride mumble hour away (he has weird eyes and needs a specialist) — and hoped I’d go with him to help him stay awake on the drive and back (Besides, riding in cars is time together.)

I’d have put up one of two guest posts that arrived, IF — and this is a big if — I hadn’t been sick as a dog till way past 2 am last night. Which meant I didn’t sleep a ton. Which in turn meant I woke up and fed the cats and kind of stumbled out of the door in a haze.

I made good use of the time Dan was in with the doctor to figure out why Bowl of Red was not doing what I expected. As in to sketch the rest of the plot after it deviated from the plot.

<insert swear words here

Turns out it’s a lot more complex than I thought, so it’s going to take a little more work to finish. And honestly, we’re just back (okay, okay, we stopped for lunch on account of I was starving, okay?) And I’m seriously considering a short nap before I write some more, because I’m still stumbling around. BUT I know where the plot is going now which is a relief.

And beneath is the lovely cover for BOR (which hell or high water will be up for pre-order in six days, though it might not be available for another month) courtesy of the one, the only, the extraordinary Jack Wylder:

I call this one the boyz, the boyz, the shifter boyz…. are in a world of trouble and pain….

Lying to the Young

All societies lie to their young. You sort of have to, for the same reason that translation is as the French have “betraying a little.”

I had to make my peace with that last while trying to tell mom something funny the kids had done, only it wasn’t funny in Portuguese, so I had to change it around.

For years I felt guilty over it, but it was the only way to communicate how very funny her grandkids were (and they were.)

And that was before we got into trying to explain to her how… you got jobs in the US, say, when Dan was unemployed, or why I had six novel contracts one year (not because I knew someone) or– All of it involved some level of “lying” so she would get what was going on, without my spending months on a graduate course on “how things work in the US.”

It’s kind of the same with kids. You can’t explain to your kid why this or that doesn’t work without lying a little. “No, you can’t ever fly, because you don’t have wings. You can only fly if you were born with wings.” Or “I can’t let you cook because it’s against the law to let your two year old turn on the gas stove.” (As opposed to “I don’t want you to burn down the house, kid,” which would lead to an argument for an hour. They still did it, and by four both were cooking for themselves, but it put it off another day.)

And there are the lies you tell them inadvertently, like the first time our 5 year old came to us crying his eyes out because the police were going to come arrest him. You see, the computer had performed and illegal operation and shut down and–

Or until 18 my older son thought it as illegal to park in front of houses not your own. We figured this out as he was driving all over creation in the maze of little streets in Denver named after presidents, and we were going “Son, the lecture was back three blocks.” “Yes, but I’m looking for a place to park that’s not illegal.” Us: “Er…. what?”

How he’d arrived to this conclusion: We lived in a downtown neighborhood, and only had space for two cars in the driveway. This meant our friends often parked alongside the house, so he figured that was okay. It belonged to us. However, we had an insane next door neighbor whose favorite pastime was to park ACROSS OUR DRIVEWAY. And in such a way that it blocked both of us coming out. Now, most of the time that didn’t matter on weekends, but sometimes we did have to drive somewhere, and then we’d ring their doorbell and if they didn’t answer, we’d call the police. (They weren’t being annoying on purpose. They were just stupid. They were renting the bottom half of the house, which meant that the driveway was taken up by the other renters. And they were AFRAID to park in front of our house, because they came home at night, and they’d heard someone had got stabbed on that corner. Which absolutely was right. Sometime in the seventies. When we lived there, you had a greater chance of having the next door dog run up for pets than of being stabbed.) So, he deduced “parking in front of other people’s houses was illegal.” Add to that times like when we went to see fireworks, and neighborhoods near the park were fully parked, except for the areas with yellow stripes, and Dan would go “I’d park there, but it’s illegal” and he got “oh, parking in front of other people’s houses is definitely illegal.” We only caught this two years into his driving himself around, and it made me wonder how many hikes that poor kid had gone on.

And sometimes the things they infer from what they were never told is life endangering. Like when we were driving back from Manitou, I think and the kid, at 15, was putting in his “drivers’ training” by driving with me in the passenger’s seat (let alone that it was nightfall and I couldn’t see very well. Still can’t. Night blind.) We get to an intersection downtown, and the light turns green, and the kid makes a left turn IN FRONT OF ONCOMING TRAFFIC.

After we got to the other side and I calmed my heart attack down, I was like “What on Earth possessed you?” And he was like “What? It was green and left has right of way.” (He’d gotten confused on protected and unprotected lefts. The fact I remember this 16 years later tells you just how terrifying it was. I think I put holes on the seat fabric. I still don’t understand how we didn’t get hit by the three lanes of oncoming cars. There was much tire squealing and I’m sure a lot of creative cursing, too.)

These things happen. You see, kids …. don’t have the life experience to interpret a lot of stuff. They are little aliens in the world, and everything is new. And they want to please you and be “real adults” so badly. It’s like an innate drive.

So they take not only what you tell them, but a lot of inferences about what you didn’t say. Like I remember being convinced the kids next door were evil. Were they? Oh, no. But they were poor and their parents were both alcoholics, so the kids were …. less than clean, in a place and time when bathing took time and effort and determination. (Heating the water, filling the tub pot by pot and afterwards dragging the tub out, emptying it, etc. Heck even washing in a basin with a sponge took time and effort (including heating the water so you didn’t hate every second of the experience) and it took buying soap instead of wine, now and then.) My parents were terrified I’d get lice. I had knee-long hair, (I have a picture of myself at ten, dressed in only my hair, and it’s not even mildly kiddy porn. Nothing showed. I often ran around — till I had it cut at 11 — in only panties and my hair, leading to my brother’s giving me the nickname “Lady G”) and it was heck to get rid of lice (I caught them twice, I think. I’m still terrified of them, and still recognize the signs in people’s hair. It was so unpleasant to get rid of them. And yes saw them a couple of years ago. A lady in the Denver Cathedral downtown. Not badly dressed, but looked profoundly depressed.) But I was a kid. My parents allowed me to play with other dirt-poor kids, including one that practically lived at our house and followed me around everywhere. So– The only reason they wouldn’t let them play with those other kids must be they were evil. My youngest cosmogony was composed of the “evil next door.” Because those poor kids were dirty and neglected.

Why is this important?

The left, all of them, collectively periodically lose their minds over the “we can’t teach about alternate genders to 5 year olds, and what if the kids that age feel isolated and get depressed because they aren’t standard boys/girls?” Or “Why can’t they read homosexual romance in middle school? Some of them are already gay. Isn’t that indoctrinating them into heterosexuality?” Or “Why can’t we teach them that the white race did all these evil things so they don’t grow up to do them again?”

And all of this would make some sense — not a ton, no. For instance, the reason Europe colonized the world and not the other way around had nothing to do with being evil, but with a bunch of …. accidents of industrial and civic development at the time. And they did no more evil than the other races when they conquered (For an eye full I recommend The Washing of the Spears about the Zulu conquest of Africa. They perpetrated landscape-changing slaughter unequaled till WWI) — if you buy into their premises. And what could it hurt to give kids the information to cope with perhaps a distressing situation?

Well… what it could hurt is that you’re lying to them, and they’re not lies that will make them more functional.

Look, I have gay friends. Yes, okay, my religion forbids it, and if I had the slightest chance of sinning that way, I would have tried to fight it. Since it holds no attraction for me, I find a ton of other ways to sin (TRUST ME. YOU HAVE NO IDEA. I laugh at the idea of sainthood, ever. I’m studying to the test and hoping to make it into purgatory.)

So, it’s a sin, but it’s not the worst sin. And we’re all sinners together. And some of my friends are much, much holier than I am despite that sin. (And consciously so. Yes, I have weird friends. Deal.)

I hate “gay activists” as I hate “Latin activists” or “Women activists” but that has nothing to do with the real people, just trying to live their lives.

I don’t think we shouldn’t write books with gay protagonists. Even books with YOUNG gay protagonists. (It would come nicely from me, considering what I’ve written already, and not counting the planned stuff. Including the half-finished book with a gay high school student. (Who to be fair is more worried about breakthroughs from the dungeon dimension.))

What I object to is having MOST books accessible to kids be about gay relationships. Or worse, most of the ASSIGNED books. Or having the teacher explain to kindergartners that they get to pick their own pronouns and that no one knows if they’re boys or girls. And that if they’re at all non-standard, they are the other sex and should do life-hampering changes at that age.

Because kids make inferences, in addition to the things you tell them. They are DESIGNED to try to infer things, so they fit into human society faster. Also, their brains are designed for human life about 10k years ago, when things were simpler. (Yeah, designed/evolved for. Deal. It’s a short-cut handle-word.)

So when you show them more examples of one thing than the other, they assume these things are NORMAL. And the other must be forbidden and looked down up. Being “cis-het” is definitely not what the teachers like, right? They are so encouraging to all the kids who say they are ‘really’ something completely different.

Then there is the white thing. All white people are evil, right? Look how they oppressed other people. And because they teach the Warts-only version of American history and other countries prettify theirs, the US must be the ONLY and MOST evil country on Earth. (Yeah. Then they hit the streets shouting “No America at all.” Unaware their rainbow persona would get them killed anywhere else in the world.)

… All societies lie to their kids. They usually lie to them in a way that will make the kids more functional/adapted.

Yes, that means if you don’t mention gay people at all, young gay people will have trouble coming to terms with their sexuality. And some, yes, might choose to live closeted their entire lives.


How is it better to convince kids, the vast majority of which will be straight, because yes, evolution, that they should be gay, and if they aren’t it’s something to lie about, or invent a new persona about, so you’re not that cis-het evil thing?

How does this benefit the new generation, growing up? You might as well run around telling them that left unprotected turns have the right of way.

Because here’s the thing: those kids are still going to be boys or girls. And the overwhelming majority of them are still going to be straight. WHY do you want them to go through life feeling guilty and hiding what they are?

AHAH! You say. But you want to do that to gay kids.

No. Not especially. But that’s a talk for parents or close-to-kids adults to have when they’re older. Now I know it varies with where you live, but it’s the 21st century and gay marriage is legal. I very much doubt that people don’t know someone who is gay and someone who is gay and married, at least in their extended cycle.

The conversation with the kids is best had under “Oh, yeah. Mike is married to Bill. Yeah, I know it’s not the average thing, but it happens sometimes. Some people just fall in love with the same sex they are.”

Note, no details on what goes on behind closed doors are needed, unless you are in the habit of telling your kids “Yes, Uncle Bob and Aunt Lucinda are married. That means at night, they get in bed and he–” Which I can’t imagine, even to eighteen year olds. Heck, I wouldn’t have that conversation with my kids now, and they are ADULTS.

Do they need extremely detailed descriptions, or as one YA book in the library that parents are objecting to: DRAWINGS? Seriously?

Trust me, as someone who grew up in a restricted culture, and whose parents would rather commit seppuku than give her “the talk”, I figured all the basics by eight, from listening and making inferences, and I was well into figuring out all the side avenues and possible perversions by 14. (No, not in practicality. Bless your heart. I didn’t even get kissed till 18. But– Well, it helped that I had access — in a friend’s house — to a beautiful, illustrated encyclopedia of Greek and Roman Myth. Or, as we call it around the house “perversions A-go-go. I’m still puzzled by the illustration of Ganymede and the Eagle. Given bird anatomy, I don’t think it would be po– Okay, never mind.)

And yeah, gay kids might feel like they stick out. Mostly because they do. The majority won’t be like them. That frankly doesn’t make them any different than kids who are too poor, too rich, too smart, too stupid, too creative, too autistic to be average.

Those cases have to be dealt with one on one, not by lying to all the kids at once, and making gay kids think they’re average, except the other kids still make fun of them, or hetero kids feel they’re wrong, except they’re still what they are, or–

Yes, that stuff should be dealt with, but it should be dealt with one on one, and with careful talks about how to live as an Odd in the normal world. (Admittedly everyone, even the most “normal” person needs this for something, even if it’s just loving anchovies on their pizza.)

Yeah, some of the kids won’t have anyone who can do that. And? Some of the kids are screwed no matter what you do. Fortunately they are a small minority, and a lot of those come to a good place too, eventually, after struggles.

I’m quite at home with my oddities now at almost sixty. And it wasn’t all h*ll along the way. And the lice-infested kids who used to live next door to me all got married and have decent (more decent than their parents lives) lives.

Schools are not instruments of mass-lying-to-kids. Other than “you should feel safe here” and teaching them the basics and what we know to be facts (which might or might not leave aside History until they’re MUCH older and can argue) they should leave the kids alone.

You shouldn’t lie to the young, of course. But you have to, to some extent, to simplify things so they get it.

What you shouldn’t do was pack the kids heads full of non-functional nonsense, and make them feel they “should be” things they aren’t, and things that frankly will make their lives harder.

Sometimes I feel school assignment lists are the losers of the previous generation trying to justify themselves. It would explain all the never end of the “The Vietnam war was wrong and I was totally correct in being a draft dodger” that my kids were forced to read in middle and high school (A lot of it outright lies.) It was like people who were starting to suspect they had done real evil and were trying to justify themselves to kids who didn’t know any better, so they had a sort of ideological bodyguard around them.

The current insanity might very well be the result of the free-love-never-have-kids generation trying to get over their own regrets.

I don’t care. The kids are not your wailing wall, or your confessional. They don’t exist to make you feel better or grant you absolution.

If you feel that bad, go to confession. The priest might be confused, but most of them will talk you through the mess in your head.

Just don’t pass your bolus of guilt and dysfunctional onto the kids and destroy the future with it.

Speech vs. Violence: A Guide for Idiots and Academics (But I Repeat Myself) A Guest Post By Martin L. Shoemaker

Speech vs. Violence: A Guide for Idiots and Academics (But I Repeat Myself)  by Martin L. Shoemaker 

Speech is not violence. Anyone who says otherwise is an idiot or an academic. But I repeat myself. 

Speech is me saying, “I’m gonna bash your head in with a baseball bat.” Violence is me bashing your head in with a baseball bat. There’s a difference. 

When I say this, some idiot or academic (but I repeat myself) will bring up a psychological study that purportedly shows that speech can cause the same PTSD as can violence. Besides the fact that more than half of psychological studies are irreproducible bullshit, this sort of “thinking” assumes that PTSD plus a bashed-in skull is no different from PTSD. 

Some other idiot or academic (but I repeat myself) will argue that Wrong Speech will incite violence and thus is violence. Since these arguments are themselves used to justify violence used to stop speech, the person making this argument has just self-incriminated. By their own “argument”, they have just committed “violence”; and to stop them—according to their own argument, not in fact—I am “justified” in bashing in their skull. 

But I’m not, because their argument is fallacious. There are specific legal definitions for incitement. Something you disagree with is not incitement. “You’re wrong” is not incitement. “You’re an idiot” is not incitement. “You should have your skull bashed in” is probably incitement. “Bash his skull in!” is incitement. But ideas you disagree with are not incitement, and they’re not violence. You being offended is not proof of incitement. If you insist otherwise, you’re an idiot or an academic (but I repeat myself). 

“Dog whistles!” shouts some idiot or academic (but I repeat myself). “Dog whistle” is a claim that a speaker doesn’t have to say “Get them!” for all of his eager dupes to understand “Get them!” The accuser is smug and superior and knows what the speaker “really meant.” The idiot/academic (BIRM) making this argument is committing the Straw Man Fallacy ( 

straw man (sometimes written as strawman) is a form of argument and an informal fallacy of having the impression of refuting an argument, whereas the real subject of the argument was not addressed or refuted, but instead replaced with a false one.[1] One who engages in this fallacy is said to be “attacking a straw man”.

They want to accuse the speaker of violence, so they assert that they can read his mind and the minds of the listeners. People who falsely claim to be able to read minds are lying. They’re looking for an excuse to attack the speaker, rhetorically and perhaps physically.

Note also that even in a case of true incitement, there are two invalid, illegal responses: “He’s right! Get them!” and “He’s wrong! Get him!” You are in the wrong if someone’s inciting words lead you to violence, either against the speaker or against the speaker’s target. You are allowed to violently defend yourself against violence. You are not allowed to violently defend yourself against speech. The answer to bad speech is more speech. 

P.S. I predict that someone with ill will or deficient reading skills will quote excerpts from this essay out of context and use them to accuse me of supporting, advocating, or excusing violence. That person will be an idiot or an academic. But I repeat myself.

*For more of Martin L. Shoemaker’s writing, this time fiction, go here.
And if you like GOOD science fiction, you should run, not walk. – SAH*

Dancing on the Edge

When I was little, the room in which I spent most time — being of a sickly disposition, in a society not yet used to the existence of antibiotics — didn’t have a window. Well, it kind of did, but it was a slit high up on the wall behind me, to capture the light that came into the living room through the two sidelights on the front door.

But on the wall, in front of me, there was a picture of an angel walking behind a boy and a girl, while the boy and the girl, blithely walk at the edge of an abyss.

I feel like right now I’m sitting here, in my office chair, typing at the edge of an abyss. I sure as hell hope there is an angel ready to save my butt, but I’m not going to tell you there is.

For once this doesn’t make me even vaguely special. Right now, this morning, whatever you’re doing, including sitting on your chair reading this blog, you’re doing it at the edge of the abyss.

I remember similar times, when I was very young, and we were not sure what the rules were or how they were changing, and we definitely didn’t know what came next. And I remember my mom complaining to her friends about how hard it was to concentrate.

… I’m having a heck of a time finishing BOR because who cares about made up fights and perils of dragon and lion shifters, when we’re not sure what is going to go boom where, but we’re sure it’s any second now, and we’re sitting here, waiting for the crack and boom.

The only thing I can say is that unless you’re a person of more power and influence than I think reads this blog, whatever you do today, in the normal run of your life is more important, overall for your future than what is going on over our heads, in the beleaguered and plagued entrails of our poor Republic as it attempts to purge itself of the Marxist infection killing it.

Unless you are in a pivotal position, at a pivotal time — and if you are, you will know it — you’re better off dancing at the edge of of the abyss and ignoring the howling winds than trying to pull everyone along with you back from the edge.

Yeah, it’s not easy. I’m not going to claim it is.

But even my day job, which is mostly making up entertaining lies is important to someone. How do I know?

I have the letters. “Your books kept me going when my family was falling apart/I had cancer/my father died.”

And I’ve experienced it from the other side myself. Sometimes, in the years of hell, the only thing that kept me together was books, and honestly, at the point? The more amusing the better. If they could manage to slip in one or two comforting verities or a bit of hope even better.

So even my work, even the sillier books matter.

And other things matter. Because I’ve been fighting this novel to the finish, (And at my age, what business has a plot running away from me?) my house looks like Pompeii after the volcano. Only with more dust and cat hair. As soon as I finish this thing, there’s going to be such a cleaning as has never been seen. Well, not recently.

That matters too, because living in confusion and mess affects me and my work. Jerry Pournelle, as we headed into the dark in 2008 told me if I couldn’t concentrate to write, or do anything else, just “Work on making things organized and very clean.”

For one, if there are supply/energy disruptions, cleaning will be much harder — trust me on this — and starting from a clean place helps.

So, as you hold your breath and wait for a crash; as each fresh bit of news makes you start up and go “What fresh hell is this?”, unless you’re in a special place at a very special time — and you and only you will know that — dancing is the best you can do.

Keep dancing.

And for the love heaven, unlike Wile E. Coyote in the cartoons: Don’t look down.

As long as we’re not away we’re on thin air we won’t fall.

And we must keep dancing.

The BOB List — A Guest Post By Doug Irvin

*I want to point out that despite us having been called “the Church of Heinlein” that’s not the Bob. Also, I’m up to my neck in a plot that’s escaped my control, and am probably going to ride it, on tattered fingernails to the finish. I’m okay, my muse is just torturing me.* – SAH.

The BOB List — A Guest Post By Doug Irvin

*Foreword addendum. The date this first appeared, 2/15/2021, my state was hit by crippling harsh weather. Temps dropped well below freezing, the electrical network collapsed as gas pipelines froze over and wind generators iced up. Over a third of the state was without power for a week. Frankly, my precautions failed, and I had to bogey south to a relatives house who had power. You live and learn. – Doug Irvin*

Foreword: I started compiling ideas and source lists for emergencies some years ago. Not all of the material below is from my own research. Some of it is from other sources. I didn’t keep track of the sources at the time, since this was primarily for my personal use.

If someone claims this is their work; fine. I’ll split the proceeds with you. You can have half the zero amount I got. OTOH, I would note you as a source then.

The Absolute Minimalist BOB

The minimalist BOB is something you can chuck into your trunk and forget about until needed. It is for the family member who is resistant to the idea of a BOB, or meant as an extra bit of smart packed into each of your car’s trunks to augment a basic BOB.To assemble it you will need:

Several quart sized and one gallon sized Ziplock type bags.

A lighter. Fire is our friend.

One flattened roll of toilet paper with the cardboard tube removed. Toilet paper is also our friend. Once flattened, place in appropriate ziplock bag, squeeze out all the air and close Ziplock bag.

A pocketknife, preferably a Leatherman Supertool or something similar that is high quality. This is without a doubt incredibly useful. You shouldn’t even put it in the bag unless it is a spare, put it in your purse or on your belt. This isn’t a pocketknife, it is a toolset. It is a can opener, a knife, a saw, a file, an awl, a bottle opener, a pliers, a wire cutter, a crimper, a flathead screwdriver, a Phillip’s head screwdriver, and both a metric and English ruler. This ain’t your Daddy’s Swiss Army knife. Spyderco also makes a gadget knife with a blade so sharp you could do surgery, so check it out as well.

Five Maxipads. This is optional, but in addition to their accepted use, they are very absorbent and sterile, so they can be used as pressure bandages in case of an accident. Put in Ziplock and squeeze out the air.

2 pint bottles of water. (optional).

2 or 3 power bars. If you can, get the horrible kind like they put in military combat rations, the dreaded MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat), these bars will last longer than commercial counterparts.

A flashlight. They now make small disposable LED keychains that are extremely bright and run off of a watch battery. Normally these things run under $1.00USD, although some places charge more. While this is good from a size standpoint (they are about as big as a quarter around), and from a weight standpoint (maybe a quarter ounce), they are not terribly rugged. Mag-Lite makes a very small flashlight that uses AAA batteries called a Mini Mag-Lite that is very bright and about as big as a man’s middle finger. All Mag-Lite flashlights can be used to kill or injure a grown man, so look at getting one of those. It is more expensive, but wow! Tough as tough can be, water proof, and they come with a spare bulb in the base. Leave the batteries in their package and stick the light into a ziplock bag with at least 2 extra batteries.  Other light sources are, and &nbsp;

If you have these items you will be set for the vast majority of life’s little curveballs. The Leatherman or a similar tool alone will solve the majority, but the others really do matter.

Take the stuff and put it into the gallon ziploc bag. Express the air and zip it shut. You can then take the second bag, place the full bag into the second so that the zipped portion is put in first, express the air, and zip the second one shut. This will provide a lot of moisture protection.

The Basic BOB

The Basic BOB is meant to be carried every day, and is geared towards an urban or suburban environment. This is something that, since it is meant for everyday carry, must be comfortable, rugged, and useful in daily life.

The bag itself. We suggest something inconspicuous and easy to carry,

but with an appreciable load capacity. A medium sized briefcase will suffice, but try to get a North Face or Jansport type bag that college students use as book bags. The bags will have extra external and internal pockets which will come in handy for little things you need to get to quickly such as toilet paper or food. The bags often come with Fastex buckles which allow the bearer to externally attach other items allowing the user to customize his carry.

A Leatherman Supertool or something similar as mentioned in the Minimalist BOB.

Spare glasses. If you wear glasses get a spare set and put them in. If you wear contacts, get a pair of glasses and store them in the bag. In an abrasive or caustic atmosphere you can seriously damage your eyes with contacts, and you may not be able to clean your hands enough to replace dirty or lost lenses. So, glasses it is.

One roll of toilet paper. Never be without at least one roll of toilet paper. For ease of carry remove the cardboard tube and smash it flat. Then take it and put it into a ziplock bag. Express the air from the bag and seal it tightly. If you’ve ever in a position where there is no TP, you understand the necessity for this one.

A multifuel lighter (zippo-type) or an unopened drug store butane lighter. If you don’t smoke you may never need it, but fire is man’s most basic tool, so get it and have it. If you get the Zippo, remember extra flints and fuel.

Food. Have some power bars or some cookies. The best way to figure your needs is to miss lunch, then see if one or two packs of Oreos or a power bar or two takes most of the edge off. The prepackaged cheese and crackers snacks for kids are a good idea also. Plan on a 48 hour period of relying on your BOB. Have six very small meals, each in its own ziplock bag. Eat them once a month and restock so they don’t go bad on you.

Water.  Have a minimum of 4 20 ounce bottles. If you can stomach warm Gatorade, get that instead. Most hunger pains are actually thirst, so try drinking a half a bottle of fluid with each mini meal you eat.

Medicine. Be absolutely certain you have any daily meds you take. This may be something you have to put into and remove from the bag each day, but don’t forget them. If the medicine you take is not easily perishable and not a controlled substance, get your doctor to write an extra prescription and keep a spare bottle, that you rotate out monthly, in the bag at all times.

Space blanket. There are emergency blankets that fold up to about the size of a sandwich. They are inexpensive and very warm. They are also usually waterproof. Get one or two.

Toothbrush and toothpaste. This is optional, but performing personal hygiene can make you feel worlds better in a bad situation. Put them in a ziplock bag together.

Money. A spare $100.00 is a very good idea. At the very least get a roll of quarters for vending machines since they may work in the absence of electricity. Be aware that money may not have much value in a true SHTF situation. Money is a good idea, but it only works in a civilized paradigm. 

Deodorant. Very optional. This only applies if you are from the US. Other countries don’t seem to want it.

Spare clothing.  This is optional, but not a bad idea. At the very least you will want some spare socks sitting snug in a ziplock bag.

Personal protection. Get the strongest pepper spray you can find and rotate stock every six months or so. If the button gets pushed, get rid of it. The can will leak.

Firearm. If you live in a free state, get a concealed carry permit so that you can carry your weapon without fear of arrest. If you are in a state where the rights of all people are not recognized, rely on the pepper spray. For a BOB firearm, the suggestion is for a something reliable. It has to go boom every time the trigger is pulled. A compact lightweight revolver such as Taurus or Smith & Wesson makes may be the ticket. Firearms are a very personal sort of equipment, and if you don’t know anything about them, get help and get good teaching.  At the very least get a small semi-auto .22LR pistol and learn how to use and maintain it. Keep it in a holster or case so the sights and trigger can’t be bumped. Any gun is better than no gun when people around you lose their minds.

Feminine hygiene. Get some maxipads. Remember they can be used as pressure bandages.

Pencil and paper. Being able to write a note can be very necessary at times. You may need to write down a license plate or a description for the police, so get a small wire bound 3”x5” notebook and put it in a ziplock with a pencil.

Band-Aids. Always a good idea. Stick 10 or so in a ziplock bag and seal it tight.

Radio and batteries. A cheap transistor radio can be a big help. If nothing else it can tell you if there are road or bridge closings or if there is a shelter nearby. Make sure the radio isn’t a flimsy headset design that will break with rough handling, and make sure it is a RADIO, not a CD or an MP3 player when you buy it. Put the radio and batteries in ziplock bags.

A flashlight. Just as described in the minimalist BOB, get a small AA or AAA battery using Mini Mag-Lite or a LED keying. 

A respirator. This is optional. Lowes, Home Depot, and other hardware stores stock painter’s respirators that run about $15.00 USD. They use replaceable canister filters that are really very good for what they are. This isn’t a gas mask of course, but if there is a lot of stuff in the air these cans will help keep it out of your lungs, especially dust in the event of a nuke or radiological “dirty” bomb. A respirator doesn’t weigh much, is about as big as a fist, and is cheap insurance. Get one and put it into a ziplock bag.

Soap. One or two bars of hotel sized soap can help with cleaning hands before eating or for just getting yourself a little cleaner. This is especially helpful in the event of a small wound. It may hurt to wash a scrape or cut, but it is the best way to avoid infection.

A fork and a spoon. Eating with your hands isn’t just bad manners, it is a health hazard. Remember the Four F’s of Food Sanitation: Fingers, Face, Flies, and Feces. Getting food poisoning when you have no ready way to care for yourself can be very problematic. Even freshly washed hands can carry enough bacteria to make you ill in dirty conditions, thus poor personal hygiene coupled with a failure of civil sanitation is a recipe for trouble.  If you have a regular metal fork and spoon, you can sidestep this large potential problem. Put them in a ziplock so they won’t get lost and put them in the bag. You can make a cup if needed by cutting the top off a plastic pop bottle, or by using your can opener on a soft drink can.

Intermediate BOB

Now we move on to something a little more substantial. Since cold weather is the most difficult thing to deal with, this section is geared towards people who travel in rural areas and who may experience unpleasant winters. This is a BOB you will fill and put into your vehicle, opening it only to rotate stocks every so often or if you need it.

The bag itself should be larger. We suggest a medium sized rucksack with or without a frame. An internally framed ruck is better, but it is not necessary. A cheap solution is a medium sized military issue ALICE rucksack. ALICE stands for All purpose Light weight Individual Carrying Equipment. Leave it to the military to come up with a 7 word name for rucksack and then an acronym to shorten it. The ALICE ruck’s design was employed in numerous conflicts and to the best of my knowledge no one ever complained about the rucksack except to say the frame was somewhat flimsy. The frame is aluminum, and will bend if abused by being sat upon or in some other fashion. If it is used in its intended fashion, it will last a lifetime with no care at all. Read some reviews on the ALICE

Another alternative is a gym bag of tough construction, preferably with 4 or 5 external pockets. Several sporting goods places on the web offer “range bags” or “shooter’s bags” that are made of very strong stuff and have many external pockets. Get one with good sewn in handles and, if possible, end handles as well as the standard top handles. Good quality gym bags can be found at most retail outlets like Wal-Mart.

If you drive a truck with no back seat, try to get a gym bag with a bottom width the same as the floor with the seat moved to the rear. If you have to put the bag in the back of the truck, try to avoid putting water in the bag as it will freeze and burst the container.

Consider this list a continuation of the basic BOB:

Clothes. Put in a spare set of jeans, a shirt, socks, spare boots or athletic shoes, a scarf, a balaclava or a ski mask, good gloves, a lightweight waterproof parka or windbreaker, and some long underwear. Put them separately into plastic bags and seal them as best you can. That which will fit into a ziplock, put into a ziplock. As always, get the air out of the bag before sealing.

Fatty, salty, and sugary foods. Get a can or two of Spam, yes Spam. I said Spam and throw it in there. A can or two of Dinty Moore stew should go in there as well as junk food like chocolate chip cookies, etc. A good rule of thumb is if your kids whine for it, you will want to carry a little of it for any potential on foot impromptu camping trip. Get also a few packets of dried noodle soups like Hot Ramen or Cup A Soup so that you can drink stuff to warm up. Hot chocolate packets and instant coffee is also recommended. The General Foods International coffees are about half sugar and come in a sturdy tin, but beware, after drinking a cup you may feel compelled to start talking about your feelings. When the temperature drops and you have to walk through snow and ice you need to eat and drink horrible crap like that. The drinks and noodles will warm you, fat will feed you, and the salt will constipate you. Constipation is good because who wants to stick their derriere out and squat in 10F weather?

A small pot. Get a 2 quart, preferably iron, pot for melting snow or heating water for drinking or making soup.If you feel that a 2 quart pot is too much to carry, there are alternatives. One may choose to go with aluminum cookware, but it may be damaged or crushed if abused in some fashion. It may also make your food taste nasty and is unhealthy from a long term perspective. Another suggestion is titanium cookware which will only crush your wallet.

Get a small camper stove. This is optional. They are simple inexpensive affairs of flat stamped metal that you can build a small fire under and put a pot on. Alternately you can have a small propane stove with a cylinder of gas.

Maps. Don’t forget the map if you have to ditch your vehicle. Try to avoid going out without one. You will want that piece of paper if you are unfamiliar with the area, and you will want it if you are. Things look different at 3 miles an hour, land marks won’t pass with that familiar tempo.

Yes you have a map function on your phone – how well does it work when the battery is dead?

A tent. Get a small inexpensive pop up tent and put it in your bag. A $20.00 USD tent will be more than enough to keep the wind off of three huddled people, which can be the difference between life and death in a nasty winter storm, especially if wet.

Candles. Get two or three emergency candles. You would not believe the amount of heat these things throw off in a confined space. Try it out. Get in the tent sometime, seal it up, and light a candle. You should have to start taking off clothes within 10 to 15 minutes. A note about clothes. If you are cold with your clothes on, try taking some off or opening them up. The cold may just be there because your sweat can’t get away from you. Dry is warm and warm is dry.

Sleeping bag. Get a decent bag. Try to get one that goes into a “stuff bag”. They compact the best and are easiest to carry.

Poncho. Get an army surplus or, better yet, a new poncho. We wouldn’t advise wearing one because they will make you sweat, which will make you cold, but they are great to rest a tent on. Also, they make a great hasty tent or sleeping bag. You can find quality stuff at

GPS and a compass. This is most likely unnecessary except in a blizzard, but hey, be prepared. Get a moderately priced GPS with preprogrammable waypoints and an expensive compass. Preprogram your waypoints along your most traveled routes. Never be lost again, right?

Spare fuel. There are emergency fuel packs sold in Wal Mart, K Mart, Auto Zone, etc. These are “trunk safe” containers of mineral spirits that can be used in a pinch if you run out of gas. One or two is a good idea. If you have a diesel, cooking oil can serve as an emergency fuel, so keep a couple of gallons of vegetable oil in your vehicle.

A small can of red spray paint. This is optional. If you need to mark your way whether by marking trees or by leaving a directional arrow in the snow, have this item.

Water. If it is snowy, you have water. If it isn’t you need at least three 20oz bottles per day. Figure to have on hand a 3 day supply. Gatorade is better, but have something to drink.

A charcoal hand warmer. These can be found at sporting goods shops. Have one and extra fuel. Store them in ziplock bags. This item can be the difference between losing and keeping digits in a frostbite situation. If you can, get two so you can warm your hands and feet at the same time.

Personal protection. I know I am repeating myself here. Carry pepper spray. There are bad people in the world and you don’t want to get to know them. There are good people on the road, but that’s not the expectation you should use.

Firearms. Get a quality pistol and get good with it. Stick it in your parka pocket and zip it shut when you walk. If you have it on a holster it might show and people might not slow to help you. It will also be more difficult to get to under a parka. If it is in the pocket you can keep your hand in there and no one will notice. They will assume you are just cold. Make certain you zip of button you pocket when you walk as to prevent your weapon from falling out.

Advanced BOB

Oh dear, it finally happened. Some jackass nuked half a dozen major cities simultaneously, the food and petroleum supply has been disrupted, there is a plague that makes the Black Death look like a head cold and we can’t fight it, or Mike Tyson is in an elevator with you. Whatever it may be, it is time to haul ass in a big way, and you have a long way to go. This isn’t just getting home due to a bad hair day, this is Bosnia for a Croat or Rwanda for a Hutu time. It is time to “Run Forrest, run!” or “Run Luke, run!” depending on how grandiose your self image is.

When you go you know that travel may be uncertain. There may be roadblocks as is routine in rural Africa when there is one of their periodic disease outbreaks, there may be civil unrest like the Rodney King riots, there may be martial law declared so you can’t use the roads. Any way you slice it you have to maximize the chances of getting yourself and your family safely to safety, and this may involve transition from wheels to feet in order to get there.

Before you can even consider this level of planning you need to consider the goal. If you wish to go to Grandma’s farm 300 miles away, you need not one plan, or two plans, you need several alternates. What takes 5 hours by highway may take weeks with a family in tow on foot. Write down the plans in a notebook and have the appropriate maps. If you catch some Apache’s arrow, the rest of the family will still need to make it there if they can.

Consider the size of your family and their ages. This will be a major indicator of what needs to happen with regards to provisions.

Never try to carry any more than 50-60 pounds per healthy adult male, and never try to go 25-35 pounds per woman or teen.

Always plan for the worst. If you have 3 kids and a wife make every plan as though it would be made over land without roads and carrying at least one member. Figure that if you can go 15 miles a day with a family on foot, you are really doing well, so 300 miles equals a minimum of 20 days of travel, with a realistic expectation being 30 days. And an angry, dirty, whining, X Box withdrawal group of unhappy campers they will be.

This list is a continuation of the above BOB lists. The first two lists were just for a single person. Do the math. Multiply where you need to, more tents, ponchos, etc. Figure a roll of toilet paper lasts an adult male a week when he eats regularly, so multiply rolls times people times weeks. Family of five going 300 miles? 5 people X 4 weeks is twenty rolls of paper, which is a lot of volume, so everyone carries their own TP in their personal ruck. Another thing, get the roughest TP you can get. It wipes off the poop better, it stores better, and the women won’t use as much.

The bag or bags. Go to a dive store, that is a place SCUBA divers shop, not a store with cheap beer and cheaper women. Get one of the large dive bags they sell. These bags are designed to hold heavy and bulky stuff in harsh environments and are extremely rugged. Don’t forget to buy individual rucks for those who don’t have them. They make good book bags for kids, so tell them that is what they will use them for. It will get them used to carrying them.

A shovel. You will need to bury your poop and scrape a fire pit.  You may also need to bury someone. If you have to bury someone, mark the location in your GPS. It may be important for you to return later. Bring at least a military issue entrenching tool. They are small, inexpensive, light, and they collapse.

A water filter. You cannot expect your wife or kids to drink ditch water. Get a reverse osmosis filtration pump with an iodide filter. An inexpensive backup that you must have is regular household bleach. 3 to 4 drops per gallon is all that is needed to make water safe for consumption, so get a small medicine dropper and fill it with bleach. Add the bleach to the water, stir or shake vigorously, and let it sit for an hour. It will then be drinkable. Try to avoid ingesting any sediment.

Binoculars. Have at least one pair. You may have a need to look at things at a distance. Don’t go cheap on binos, this is one area where expensive is good.

A wagon. Go to Lehman’s online catalogue or go to Lowes or Home Depot, etc. They will have very sturdy wooden wagons or metal garden wagons. The metal garden wagons typically have better handles, better wheels, better suspensions, and carry more, but they can be uncomfortable to touch in winter and they can rust. If you have to put an infant in one, you don’t want there to be a chance of instant frostbite just because he was fussy and flailing around. The suggestion is to go with wood. You can order a Lehman’s wagon with very large wheels for off road use. If you have small children who may need to be pulled, get two wagons. One wagon is for provisions and the other to carry rug rats.; These wagons can carry two or three hundred pounds easily, so these are not your old Radio Flyer.

Food.  Half a cup of dried rice is equal to roughly 1 ½ cups of cooked rice. That is a lot of rice per person, so no one should be very hungry. Figure a family of five eating twice a day is five cups a day times thirty days travel is 150 cups of rice.

With 16 cups per gallon two 5 gallon containers should suffice for a month’s travel. Get PVC buckets with pour spout lids.

Beans. Rice and beans twice a day for a month will cool ardor and may lead to acts of violence, but you will be pleased to see that they have plenty of energy to argue, since rice and beans will provide almost all the nutrients a body needs.

The question is, “How much of beans do we carry?”  If you plan on canned beans figure 60 eight to twelve ounce cans. If you get dried beans, figure ¾ a cup dried volume per meal, or a little over 3 gallons of dried beans. The drawback to dried beans is that they have to be soaked for 24 hours, so you will have to start soaking beans 24 hours in advance of each meal which is a pain.

While dried beans are better in the long run because the excess can be planted at your destination come warm weather, you may wish to opt for canned.

Fat.  Get a two gallon jug of Crisco. You will need it in order to cook wild game which is  always extremely lean meat. You may wish to  get a three pound block of lard instead. Lard would actually be better since it is a solid and can’t leak. It also tastes better, and takes up less space.

Salt. Carry a pound box of iodized salt. You will use it at your destination or for barter. Ever wonder where salt comes from? It most likely isn’t a local product. You will be sweating a lot on this trip, so you will need salt.

Meat. This will be provided by Mother Nature. Do you know the Iroquois word for bad hunter? Vegetarian.

Cookware. Bring a metal measuring cup. You need to measure that rice. Bring a cast iron skillet and a cast iron 2 quart pan with a lid. Get a metal serving spoon and a metal spatula. That should take care of all your cooking utensil needs.

An axe. Never be without a good axe. Get one with a hammer side if you can.

Soap. Carry a few bars. You need to bathe once a week, and daily hand washing is very important. Try to stock anti-bacterial if at all possible. Don’t carry liquid soap as it is heavier and can spill.

Radio. Get a hand powered radio. They will pick up shortwave, weather stations, AM, and FM stations. They don’t take batteries, so that is one more thing you won’t have to bring. Also consider getting some walkie-talkies. Have extra rechargable batteries and keep them charged.

Insect repellent. Get some suitable repellants for the older people and for any infants. You can’t use high concentrations of DEET on infants and toddlers because it can cause skin irritation and seizures. Remember, spray it on your hand and wipe it on the kid, don’t spray it on them.

Fishing tackle. You can make a fishing rig out of a bean can or a Coke can, some monofilament line, a float, and a hook. Fishing rods can get broken, so unless you are one of the lucky few with a Pocket Fisherman, you will have to improvise. They are available on Amazon.

Hammock. Get a cheap fishnet hammock for every member of your party except the littlest ones. The hammocks will serve as hammocks, naturally. They will also serve as a hasty stretcher and as a hasty fishnet with the use of saplings cut for poles. You can simplify putting them up and taking them down by tying a heavy duty D ring on the end ropes. You just wind the line around the tree trunk a few times and snap the D ring onto the rope to secure it. They are cheap and will roll up into a ball the size of a man’s fist. They fit easily into a small ziplock for carrying.

Rope. Get about 20 or 30 feet of stout ½ or ¾ inch rope. You may need it to pull the wagons or for some other unforeseen purpose. Learn some knots. A ready source (and free!) Is  A. Hyatt Verrill’s Knots, Splices and Rope Work, on If your Bug Out is by water, his “The Book of the Sailboat: How to rig, sail and handle small boats” might be handy. But regardless, knowing a handful of useful knots will always be helpful. A couple of hundred feet of paracord will always be useful. An older copy of The Boy Scout Handbook would be handy.

Firearms. Have a .22LR rifle at the very least. It isn’t much of a self defense weapon, but it will kill rabbits and squirrels. A 12GA shotgun is also strongly recommended with a variety of loads. A centerfire rifle is even more strongly recommended. Every able bodied member should bear a long arm on the trip, even if they don’t know how to use it. If you carry some slugs, some #1 buckshot, and some #6 shot, you can take deer as well as small game. Again, firearms are a very personal choice, so make yours wisely, and get some training.

Personal bags. Each person who can carry one should have a backpack of some sort. In addition to toilet paper, let them put whatever they want into it without comment when you leave, they will need that psychologically.

Medicine. Over the counter meds are strongly recommended if you have needed them in the past. Also make sure you get some Imodium for the treatment of diarrhea. Diarrhea can be fatal in kids. Children’s vitamins are also a good idea if they are already taking them.

A sewing kit. A good all purpose emergency sewing kit will weigh only a few ounces and take up less space than a pack of cards. It is good not only for suturing clothes, but skin as well in a pinch. Get one and a few extra buttons.

Gas mask. A gas mask, better called a protective mask, may be something an individual may consider not carrying at all. Protective masks are good for filtering out nuclear, biological, and chemical threats.
Lets talk about the three NBC scenarios.

They work best against a nuclear threat where they will act to keep radioactive dust out of your lungs. Since an area that has been bombed will lose most of its danger due to fallout in days, hours if there is a strong rain, this mask will be of limited usefulness. In fact, this degree of protection can be approxamated by breathing through a wet rag, and an almost identical degree of protection can be given by a cannister type painter’s mask. A promaks is a good thing to have in this instance, but the remotenet possibility of an nuclear attack along with the extremely remopte chance of your encountering it may not justify the purchase of this item.

Chemical warfare agents are difficult to make, transport, and employ. They just plain old don’t work very well, and as a result it is almost an impossibility that even soldiers in a combat zone will ever encounter them much less a civilian.. A good quality mask will protect you from inhalation of toxic fumes for several hours to several days.

In the event of a natural or man made plague a quality pro mask will provide excellent protection. Virises cannot easily pass through, bacteria certainly cannot at all. The problem here is that most likely by the time you discover there is a danger of infection, it is too late to don your pro mask.

The problem with pro masks is that they provide temporary protection. You can’t live in one, so you must leave the area. Another problem is that if you have a family you may be able to protect your adult and young adult members, but infants can only be protected by “Gas Tents” that use battery powered filtrations systems, and retail for several hundred dollars each.

A good source for these items is This is another place where expensive most likely means good quality. Don’t skimp if you buy one of these, it is a false economy.

A very Special book promo and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

Book promo

If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months (unless you’re me or my relative. Deal.) One book per author per week. Amazon links only. Oh, yeah, by clicking through and buying (anything, actually) through one of the links below, you will at no cost to you be giving a portion of your purchase to support ATH through our associates number. A COMMISSION IS EARNED FROM EACH PURCHASE.
*Note that I haven’t read most of these books (my reading is eclectic and “craving led”,) and apply the usual cautions to buying. – SAH*


A tense, character-driven sci-fi thriller full of action, corporate intrigue, and creeping-dread horror.
A young woman defies her father in search of treasure among the stars…
Shao has two choices: live and die the boring corporate life her father demands she live OR go on an adventure searching for space pirate treasure.

Shao hates her boring, corporate-driven spaceship pilot job. Living up to her father’s vision for her hasn’t been easy, but she’s been a dutiful daughter. Until she discovers a data chip leading to a pirate treasure. Suddenly faced with a new path, she convinces her crew to ditch their corporate responsibilities to go on a treasure hunt instead.
Shao has no idea she’s made a huge mistake and that her crew-including her girlfriend, Mai Wren-will wind up paying for.
With forces beyond her knowledge at play, Shao stands to lose everything she holds dear. Her decisions will be her downfall and she’ll have to make tough calls that’ll forever alter her future and the lives of her crew. Some of them might not survive, but that was a choice Shao made, and she must live with the consequences… no matter what they may be.
Set in a hard sci-fi world of Aphelion, Incitatus takes place in the near future, after humanity colonized the entire Solar System, and technology blurred the lines between humans and machines.
The book is full of action, conflicting interests, intrigue, and fear of the unknown, both in the outside world and inside the human mind. From transhumanist themes to matters of love, individuality, and personal freedom, Incitatus is an engaging, exciting thriller for adult audience.

FROM CLAYTON BARNETT: Obligations of Rank

Empress Faustina has always ruthlessly used those around her. With her three sons now young men, it is their turn.

To the imperium’s west, the Texans are increasingly unhappy with the empress, especially following her use of a fusion weapon against the city of St. Louis. A broken demi-human, Edward, is sent to patch up what affairs he can.

North, fleeing the ice and snow of a coming ice age, the Canadians and their army are on the Ohio River, threatening territory the imperium considers its own. Young human Robert, undercover as a simply legionary, joins a task force to find out what is going on.

But the prize is the terraforming of Mars, led by the Russian Empire. Crown Prince Laszlo, a friend of the Russian court, takes an experimental ship to determine what they and their Machine allies are doing on the once-red planet.


He’s a man on the run. But on this harsh alien world, freedom doesn’t mean he’s safe.
Peter Dawe can’t face his mother’s relentless grief. With her anguish deepening his guilt and the colony’s governor out for revenge, he’s desperate to escape a deadly situation ready to explode. So he jumps at the chance to journey north away from danger, chasing the rare sight of a long-lost aircraft.
Buoyed by the glimpse of a machine he’s never seen before, Peter discovers the pilot desperately needs aid for his newborn son. But with sinister agents searching for them both, the remote planet may not be big enough to preserve the young fugitive from his enemy’s vengeance.
Can Peter find them refuge before they all fall to their doom?
Long in the Land is the thrilling second book in the Martha’s Sons science fiction series. If you like captivating world-building, edge-of-your-seat tension, and memorable characters, then you’ll love Laura Montgomery’s high-stakes tale.Buy Long in the Land to make a stark choice today!

And now we come to a very special book promo.

It has come to my attention some of you haven’t read the syllabus and haven’t done the required reading. This cannot be! I send no compliment to your mothers. You deserve no such–


Oh, yeah, if you have time (or a cold. I usually re-watch it when I have a cold. I sit on the sofa with a carton of sugar free rocky road and watch all six hours) you definitely should watch the A & E Pride and Prejudice. I try to sneak a line from it into every book, the least likely the better. You too can participate in the text scavenge hunt.

Now, on the serious side, some of you have been silly enough to ask me for an auto-biography. This is not likely to happen, because I’m not that interesting. Mostly I grew up in books. However, it occurs to me I haven’t shared with you some of my favorite (indeed, some formative) books, so I thought you guys should get a list. Be careful, though, there might be more in the future.

I put a line or two on why I like the books. The authors some of whom are dead are held harmless from associating with such Nekulturny as myself and my fans and friends. Well, except the first one. He brought this on himself. He has no one else to blame.

So, the first book:

This is a special case. He sent me the book for promo a month or two ago, and said something about how stupid of him it was to write silent movie mysteries. For those not aware, I love mysteries set in the early 20th century, so I told him I’d probably read it, though not maybe in a timely manner.

Well, it ain’t be timely, but yesterday I bought it and read it, and then the first book (which seems to have been published by someone else?)

And you see, it’s AMAZING. And I want him to write more. As I know personally, having a pack of derran– er…. a nice group of fans begging for more can get you to write a lot of books. So I thought I’d do my best to get Christopher a whole mob of bay– er… group of intensely interested fans, so that he’ll write more mysteries for me to read.

Look, it makes perfect sense in my head!

From Christopher DiGrazia: The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of: A Theda Bara Mystery


Hollywood, 1917. Silent movie queen Theda Bara is filming her epic, Cleopatra – “the one they’ll remember me for.” But when a studio extra turns up dead in a PR stunt gone wrong, Bara finds herself the center of intrigue, from a friend from the past who isn’t at all what she seems, to an Egyptian cult that wants her dead. With stars like Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin and Erich von Stroheim along for the ride, Bara and her loyal friend, makeup artist Toby Swanson, have to find out who is telling the truth, who is lying and whether it spells the end of Cleopatra. . .or of Hollywood itself.

THE BOOKS I LIKE BECAUSE I LIKE THEM and which influenced me though some of their authors were very politically silly.

FROM CLIFFORD SIMAK: The Werewolf Principle

His body hosting a pair of strange alien presences, an amnesiac space traveler returns home to an unrecognizable Earth

Many centuries in the future, a two-hundred-year-old man is discovered hibernating in a space capsule orbiting a distant star. Transported back to his home planet, Andrew Blake awakens to an Earth he does not recognize—a world of flying cars and sentient floating houses—with no memory whatsoever of his history or purpose. But he has not returned alone. The last survivor of a radical experiment abandoned more than a century earlier, Blake was genetically altered to be able to adapt to extreme alien environments, and now he can sense other presences inhabiting his mind and body. One is a biological computer of astonishing power; the other is a powerful creature akin to a large wolf. And Blake is definitely not the one in control. With his sanity hanging in the balance, Blake’s only option is to set out in frantic pursuit of his past, the truth, his destiny—and quite possibly the fate of humankind.
A bravura demonstration of unparalleled imagination, intelligence, and heart, The Werewolf Principle addresses weighty issues of genetic manipulation that are as relevant today as when the novel first appeared in print. One of the all-time best and brightest in speculative fiction, Grand Master Clifford D. Simak offers a moving, stunning, witty, and thought-provoking exploration of what it means to be human.

Note: more strange political beliefs are thrown out in this book than you can shake a very large stick at. But it gives you a good snapshot of “normal” in the mid century. And you know, the characters and the book itself is the best capture of “Odd” I’ve ever seen.

FROM REX STOUT: Fer-de-Lance

As any herpetologist will tell you, the fer-de-lance is among the most dreaded snakes known to man.  When someone makes a present of one to Nero Wolfe, Archie Goodwin knows he’s getting dreadully close to solving the devilishly clever murders of an immigrant and a college president.  As for Wolfe, he’s playing snake charmer in a case with more twists than an anaconda — whistling a seductive tune he hopes will catch a killer who’s still got poison in his heart.

NOTE: I’m a fan of Rex Stout, despite suspecting our political outlooks are worlds apart. Mostly he kept his out of the books, though it got thicker the longer the series went. Anyway, I first fell into his books when I was I think 6 and hanging out in the front room, where dad kept his mysteries.
For reasons known only to the publishers’ psychiatrists, the only collection of mysteries in Portugal at the time was Vampire. For those who don’t know it, I’m a ninny when it comes to horror, and was even more so then. I was afraid to touch the book, because there was a vampire bat on the spine. But I was bored. NO. I WAS BORED. Like, soul killing boredom. So I took that book down and it sent me on a life-long mystery reading habit. Ah, well.

From Agatha Christie: The Moving Finger.

The indomitable sleuth Miss Marple is led to a small town with shameful secrets in Agatha Christie’s classic detective story, The Moving Finger. 

Lymstock is a town with more than its share of scandalous secrets—a town where even a sudden outbreak of anonymous hate mail causes only a minor stir.

But all that changes when one of the recipients, Mrs. Symmington, commits suicide. Her final note says “I can’t go on,” but Miss Marple questions the coroner’s verdict of suicide. Soon nobody is sure of anyone—as secrets stop being shameful and start becoming deadly.

NOTE: This book, right here, made me aware I was not alone. I was one of a type. I was a “smart girl who was likely to become a complete idiot” (No not an exact quote) until I took myself in hand. So I did. It’s also a very good mystery.

From Giovanni Guareschi: The Little World of Don Camillo

Reading ‘The Little World of Don Camillo’ is to travel to the Valley of the River Po, Italy’s widest and most fertile plain, with its unique atmosphere, culture and natural history. And to do so in the incomparable company of a cast of fictional characters who testify to the exquisite humour and humanity of their creator.

In the Little World, eternal forces grapple with the absurd drama of everyday life, and hilarious and unearthly things can happen.

If you keep this in mind you will have no difficulty in getting to know the village priest, Don Camillo, and his adversary, Peppone, the Communist Mayor. Nor will you be surprised when a third person watches the goings-on from a big cross in the village church and not infrequently intercedes . . .

In story after story, the hot-headed Catholic priest, Don Camillo, and the equally pugnacious Communist mayor, Peppone, confront one another, sometimes in a serious and violent manner.

The clever bit is the way Guareschi engineers a resolution to the conflict and transforms the situation to the great benefit of the local community, so that the two men put their political convictions aside and, however begrudgingly, develop respect for one another.

To enable this, the author creates a third main character, his finest creation and the most surprising. Il Cristo presides over proceedings from above the altar of the town church and counsels Don Camillo, exposing and undermining the stubborn priest’s personal politics and prejudices and, with fascinating insights and gentle humour, suggests paths of action which, with the benefit of hindsight, we come to see make things right.

Guareschi claimed that the voice from above the altar was simply the voice of his own conscience, but in the stories it is a living reality which enables solutions so simple that they are beyond the reach of political minds clouded with ideology and the need to win.

Guareschi’s message is that what works at the level of the Little World can be made to work universally, the world over.

More than fifty years on, these enchanting, wise and strangely moving stories of life in the Lower Plain continue to enthral millions of readers of all ages around the world. They have been feted not only in books but in films, in series on TV, on radio and most recently on YouTube. In this newly translated volume, many are available in English for the very first time.

Note: I first read Don Camillo as I first read just about everything. It was on dad’s shelf, and I was bored. It was summer, and I want to say I was seven or eight. These are SHORT stories. A few hundred words. And yet… When I grow up, I’d like to be able to capture humanity that well. Of course, I’m almost 60, so it’s probably hopeless. But you shouldn’t deny yourself. Things are hinkie, and reading things that remind us humanity is not all dross is much needed.

There will probably be some more later, including some very strange comics.


These books are in a way, a way of looking at what is happening, and precisely what can be done, and what can’t. There are others. These are the ones in my head right now.

From Robert A. Heinlein: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress.

Widely acknowledged as one of Robert A. Heinlein’s greatest works, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress rose from the golden age of science fiction to become an undisputed classic—and a touchstone for the philosophy of personal responsibility and political freedom. A revolution on a lunar penal colony—aided by a self-aware supercomputer—provides the framework for a story of a diverse group of men and women grappling with the ever-changing definitions of humanity, technology, and free will—themes that resonate just as strongly today as they did when the novel was first published.

The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress gives readers an extraordinary, thought-provoking glimpse into the mind of Robert A. Heinlein, who, even now, “shows us where the future is” (Tom Clancy).

NOTE: As you know I’m “the woman who loves Heinlein” so I’d tell you to read all of his work, even the one where he kills the cat. (Yes, I’m still smarting. Why?)
But my favorite is probably The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. It was the primary influence on A Few Good Men, for instance. (Not linking, because I haven’t reissued, but no, not the movie. My book.)

FROM LLOYD BIGGLE JR: The Still, Small Voice of Trumpets

The IPR Bureau (whose motto is “Democracy imposed from without is the severest form of tyranny”) works to bring newly discovered planets up to the point where they have a planetary democratic government and then induct them into the galactic federation. Unfortunately, the planet Furnil offers problems. The continent of Kurr has a well-entrenched monarchy, and the citizens seem little inclined to change. In fact, they immerse themselves in art rather than politics…and have been doing so for more than 400 years! So what’s a poor IPR agent to do…? Classic science fiction!

Note: This is one of my favorite books. Interestingly it gave me a way to visualize what happened with traditional publishing. The idea that they published all worthy books could only continue so long as they could banish the authors who displeased them for whatever reason and make sure they were never seen again. Now, of course that’s broken, and we’re out, playing our trumpets….
I think it’s much like that on the political side. They only win if they can make us invisible. Be as visible as you can afford to be. They can’t silence all the trumpets.

From Giovanni Guareschi: Comrade Don Camillo

‘Those who read The Little World of Don Camillo will need no more than the news of this new volume to send them quickly to their bookshops so lovely, so humorous, and so wise.’ Harpers & Queen

In the Little World of Don Camillo, an Italian village in the Emilia-Romagna, the beauty of life lies in the connectedness of things. But, as at national level, relations between its people – normally pleasant, hospitable, generous, and with a high sense of humour – have become polarised by politics.

Since the end of the war, Stalin has been working to absorb Eastern Europe into the Soviet orbit, with every expectation of Italy being annexed to the Soviet Socialist Republic. Russia and America are like two scorpions in a bottle, each capable of killing the other but only at the risk of his own life. There is the constant fear that one side will press the nuclear button and the whole world be reduced to wasteland.

Meanwhile, in Don Camillo’s Little World, where there were indeed more communists per capita than anywhere in Italy, the global struggle is reflected in hilarious relief in the conflict between its hot-headed Catholic priest and Peppone, its Communist mayor.

But now, in this 4th book in Guareschi’s series, it is 1959; Khrushchev has come to power. There is talk of détente, and Peppone has decided to take a group of Italian communists on a trip to Mother Russia. Determined not to miss a God-sent opportunity to throw a spanner in the works, Don Camillo skilfully inveigles himself into the group, and to Peppone’s dismay he becomes life and soul of the Party.

In a riot of shrewd manipulation, Don Camillo picks off his totalitarian comrades one-by-one, trapping them into demonstrating the repressive nature of the politically correct virtual world they occupy. But then ‘fate’ intervenes, and to everyone’s surprise the group discover a common denominator more radical than any political ideology…

As ever, Guareschi’s fictional characters testify to the exquisite humour and humanity of their creator, while the message of his satire, which applies to all times and all places, remains that what works in the microcosm of the Little World can be made to work universally, the world over.

NOTE: Before Allinski there was Comrade Don Camillo. Some of the tactics are startlingly similar like “Make them live up to their stated rules.”
But Guareschi was a decent human being, so most of his tactics are both more principled and aimed at redemption rather than destruction. Also, it’s funny, of course.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike.

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it! For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: Rural

I can’t Even

One if you had done me a lovely guest post, on the run, about why searching for “nuclear secrets” in Trump’s house made as much sense as panning for gold in your shower. And I’ll post it below.

But hours after he sent it to me the story had changed. It was obvious they’d gone to everything in Trump’s house on a fishing expedition, and they were talking crazy cakes charges.

None of this makes any sense. It would flop as comedy, because it’s too frigging stupid.

… So, I used to have a bad habit of reading about dictators and the revolutions that overturned them. Okay, I still do, but not as obsessively.

This was my go-back-to-reading from about 14 to 40, when the world stopped making sense.

And what I can tell you is that none of the worst regimes made any sense. Unless you assume everyone in China had lost their minds, Mao should have been laughed off public life long before he killed hundreds of thousands, or perhaps a million or so.

So, what gives? At some point our mind goes “It can’t be that ridiculous” and we start treating completely insane claims as though they made ANY sense. Or at least normal people do.

It’s time not to let it. It’s time to get out there and mock, mock, mock. We have our work cut out for us. BUT it must be done. Because when things get that ridiculous, mass death is just around the corner.

Evil is stupid. Invincibly stupid. So stupid that humans, normal humans, have trouble PROCESSING it. But the stupid must be shown and mocked.

If we are to save civilization.

Laugh them off the stage. It’s now or never.

The FBI At Mar-a-Largo by Bob Stultus

While I’m definitely not a PhD, nor a rocket scientist, nor someone with first hand knowledge, I can think, which is apparently more than any journalists can do.

Immediate Reactions to Hearing that the FBI was looking for ‘Nuclear Secrets’

a) I can’t think of any reason that Trump would have any interest in nuclear weapons documents.

b) okay, his uncle was a prof, and studied irradiating stuff, but still.

c) if someone was interested in giving the documents to someone, why on earth keep them around?

d) Los Alamos primer has been declassified for years.  Do these people even understand the difference between the Los Alamos primer, versus stuff it would be helpful to keep secure?

e) I was wondering what evidence they hoped to plant.

f) There are not a lot of reasons to think that the classification system is really working all that well.  At least from the outside.  Considering all the apparent security compromises.

g) It seems very likely that someone could have deliberately misinterpreted Q-anon into ‘nuclear secrets’.  The Q in Q-anon was a deliberate reference to, guess what, a classification level relating to nuclear secrets.  Documents on Q-Anon are actually things that would be of possible interest to Trump.

Again, classified nuclear documents can only contain so many things.

One possibility is detailed physics information, that could be used by skilled physicists or nuclear engineers to design a nuclear explosive.  This is pretty useless if you do not have the scientists or engineers, or do not want to make or refine a design for a nuclear explosive.

Another possibility, would be design details, or a design.  Again, this is something where you would need specialized scientists or engineers to even use, and building a design requires materials and technicians.  Basically, is anyone equipped to use a design, who does not already have access to designs?

The people making bombs are mostly either people with crappy enough manufacturing that maybe more designs would really be useless for them (China, Russia, etc), or probably have designs good enough for anything they might actually want to do (our NATO ‘allies’, Japan, etc.).

Again, this stuff is not really recreational reading.  You can dumb complex technical stuff down so that it isn’t gobbledegook for a general audience, but then it is usually too simple to build anything complicated with.  Stuff that you can design from is going to require graduate degrees to read, basically.   Or, you are talking about an extensive set of measured drawings prepared for a great number of different sorts of technician.  And, blueprints are inflexible, you need to be able to adjust the design if you happen to be unable to replicate components.

Basically, it seems like it would be pretty strange for Trump to have anything like this.  It would also be pretty strange to send 15 FBI agents from HQ to recover those documents.

One, that maybe isn’t enough people to securely remove everything if we are talking a bunch of blue prints.

Two, how would FBI agents know actual nuclear secrets from Q-Anon from a print of Rhodes. ‘the making of the atom bomb’?

FBI actually has been trying to hire engineers, etc.

But, the most frequent FBI hire is a lawyer.

To recognize special nuclear secrets, the FBI agents would need to be briefed in them, or trained in them.

Which is a potential security compromise.

You would actually want a narrow circle of investigators trained in those secrets, if you want to share them at all broadly.  Like might be employed by, say, a specialized security service?  That isn’t the FBI?

Caveats, Late at night, in response to a comment about blue prints requirements for a house:

Now, I could be wildly miss-estimating the complexity of the information.

Single story houses can be pretty complicated.

Maybe someone figured out a really simple set of secrets about nuclear devices.

If so, I should not be provided that information because the FBI caused a mess due to never hearing of subtlety or discretion.

Knowing that something can be done is sometimes the most  important thing.

But, yeah, I strongly suspect that the most truth in the statement would be if they were misrepresenting an investigation into Q-anon.

Caveats this morning


1. Trump is a salesman who has worked in real estate for decades of his life.  The type of person who would be interested in nuclear physics documents for the sake of recreational reading would have made different life choices, and exhibit different strengths.

2. His uncle, John Trump, was an MIT professor.  His early work was in radar, which is an entirely different sort of radiation, electromagnetic waves, aka radio waves and microwaves.  Radar has significant military applications.  John Trump’s later work was in civilian/medical applications.  Water treatment, medical imaging, and other forms of medicine.  I’m not familiar enough with his later work to say exactly which kinds of radiation, nor describe the applications. 

3.  Obama basically deliberately caused the compromise of a bunch of personal information of everyone in the Federal government, the GAO breech.  Between Clinton, and Obama, there may be no secrets left to hand out to hostile foreign powers. 

3i Okay, it is still not good to give more help to foreign powers, but foreign powers generally have trouble implementing the capabilities that we still preserve a monopoly on, even with help from us. 

3ii.  Yes, new capabilities were developed under Trump.  When you look at open sources about what they were trying to develop, or to open sources about what the academic world is learning how to do, fancy new secrets with nuclear explosives are not the ones that jump out at you.  Russia, Iran, and PRC were lying about their delivery capabilities, people would have been interested in interception.  It has also been a while since we have tested any warhead designs.

 3iii General level of government incompetence leaves me far from confident that classification of technical information would make any sense what so ever if I had any access to it.  Okay, sure there is probably a bunch of stuff buried in there that should stay buried. There is almost certainly a lot of stuff that would be about impossible to understand without the sort of career that would get you access in the first place.  The open source textbooks that you can buy get into ‘takes years of study to understand’ territory real fast.  The basic principle that I should not have any access that I do not actually need is probably sound. 

4. The reason Q anon is called Q anon is the claim of having the Department of Energy’s Q clearance.  The Department of Energy has a clearance system of its own, Q and L. 

Supplemental Details

Checking wikipedia, the Department of Energy has the Office of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, which does all of that for the DoE.  Now, it is possible that the DoD has an office that covers the counterintelligence for some specific work done on nuclear secrets under a DoD umbrella.  That office is likewise one that may be really jealous of just handing information to the FBI, and letting the FBI act on said information without involvement outside of the FBI.  And, wiki mentions a Turchie who resigned in 2008, complaining about changes being made to the DoE OIC that Turchie felt compromised counter intelligence.  (In 2006, Bush decided to combine the DoE intelligence and counter-intelligence operations.)


I sure did catch it when I dissed Family Ties as leftist propaganda. Which it was, of course. Perhaps more so than most of us realize.

And yet, not only did a lot of you in the comments note that it gave you the first glimpse of being conservative, but I got emails. Ooooh, boy. I got all the emails.

Apparently Alex P. Keaton was a great part of the reason why my generation didn’t fall in line with the self-critique sessions and the lefty “protests”, cut our hair (or got a nice perm, depending on sex.) dressed in suits and went to work.

I spent some time trying to figure this one out. Because Alex P. Keaton was a cardboard cut out of a conservative, enamored of that Statist, Nixon.

And then I realized what it was. The problem is that the left hadn’t perfected the fine art of cardboard conservatives, where they made their opposition into sort of rampaging Nazis with no contact with reality.

Back then, they were still spitting out things that they’d heard conservatives say, even though mixed up with things conservatives had never said. So while Alex P. Keaton talked about what a great guy Nixon was, etc, he also ….

Well, there were a lot of things that came through in the character. Like, you know, he wanted to succeed, do well, be rich. It is probably lost on younger kids, but this was anathema. Wearing a suit, let alone a suit and tie was anathema. It was totally uncool, old, “straight” (back when that referred to the opposite of being a hippie.)

In fact, Alex P. Keaton, cardboard and all might have been responsible for making it hip to be square.

Not counting the things that slipped through that the left thought were horrifying like “women might be happier staying at home and raising kids.” These were of course supposed to be for laughs because the narrative was women would take over the work world and push men to the side by being SO MUCH better. (When that failed, we started hearing about institutional patriarchy. Such nonsense.) But the fact is that while after the kids are grown in the practically second-life-time modern medicine grants us, women might very well start caring about careers as much as men, but we do have different biological drives, and– well, they throw a spanner into the works of the “ersatz corporate man.”

Anyway, those comments apparently were true, and found fertile ground in a lot of minds.

This got me to thinking. The narrative was so thick, so absolute. You people who grew up with the internet might not understand how absolute it was. Everything echoed each other: from a casual spread in a fashion magazine, to the latest work of ‘art’ at a gallery. From a causal line in a news report, to the latest book that “will be on everyone who’s anyone’s bedside this fall.”

And the lines that came through them were the left’s. They might have been a little more veiled than they are now, but the crazy was all there, even back then. From “people cannot control their sexual urges at any time and kids are sexual creatures” to “women should be just like men, only the worst of men” to “the poor need more government.” And anyone and everyone opposing the coming of big government everything was, bizarrely, a fascist, and hated women and minorities.

There was no logic, but there was a barrage of sound and fury, and everything worked in concert with the big lie.

Which considering their system didn’t work at all, and the only thing big government is good at is collecting taxes and oppressing its own citizens was not amazing. They needed that barrage to make it seem like their “truths” were unassailable.

But their truths were patently not truths. They weren’t authentic. They found no resonance with people. People went along with them, because they were afraid to stand out, but meanwhile, each of them individually thought they were freaks of nature.

I had a little more resistance because events I’d seen close up and personal were otherwise in history books. But for most people the weight of the lies was almost impossible to throw off.

And yet the least bit of “support” from the official channels, even when it was meant to discourage dissent could tear a big swathe off consent and show the picture beneath.

And the picture was true, so of course it had a big impact. Because of course young men want to dress well and be successful. In what world does it make any kind of sense that they WOULDN’T?

You see what I mean? The narrative, because it’s counter-reality needs to be absolute and relentless.

Truth only needs to break in now and then to completely destroy it.

Like, you know, America was over and done with in the late seventies. It was all downhill now. We were over, and deserved to be over, and the USSR was going to win, because it was not only more efficient but more “just”.

And then Reagan came. And the narrative crumbled. Because it was all lies, and each person individually knew they were lies, and only the relentless weight of the narrative, endlessly repeated could make people think everyone else thought the lie.

Same with Trump. HUGE hole in the narrative. And heaven knows neither of the men were prefect. But they had reality at their side.

Now the lies are crumbling, because while relentless they can’t be ubiquitous anymore. And they can only survive when truth never appears.

When truth appears, no matter in how little an amount, the lies melt like spun sugar in water.

Do not collaborate with the lies. Use exactly whatever degree of subtlety you need to pierce them. As we see above, anything, from pretending to be mocking the truth to pretending to not quite “get’ it while telling the truth will destroy the lies. Fast or slow.

(For homework, I assign you reading Comrade Don Camillo. If you need ideas.)

Go and melt away the lies that never worked. We have a future to build. And the future must rest on truth.

When The Masquerade Breaks

This is the part of According To Hoyt in which you get reading assignments. I want you — yes, even you in the back who don’t read science fiction to find and read two books.

Robert A. Heinlein’s Puppet Masters and Clifford Simak’s They Walked Like Men.

No, you don’t actually need to read them to get this post, but you might want to read them, if you haven’t, after you read this post.

I was kind of surprised about 20 years ago when even Heinlein aficionados started running down Puppet Masters. It was just a “Hackneyed space invasion” and it was just “to capitalize off the red scare” and it was “just.”

What it was just, as I had long ago figured out was a perfect analogy of a society whose top levels and communication means had been taken over by enemies.

Was it “hackneyed space invasion” or “capitalizing off the red scare.” I don’t know. Dear Lord, people, you could give me letters from Heinlein saying it was so and I’d still not know. Writers, particularly writers working for traditional publishing often presented the books they were working on as “this or that” because it’s what the publisher wanted to hear. (For a prime example of this, find some of my interviews on why I wrote the Shakespeare trilogy, or my favorite reading, at that time. Look, I wrote it because it sold on a one-page pitch. Did I always love Shakespeare and Shakespearean biography? Sure. My library records going back to my exchange student year, let alone my purchases prove that. But did I always want to write literary fantasy. AHAHAHAHAH. I like space opera and mystery. That’s what I always wanted to write, though some crazy fantasies also come through. Literary? Not so much.)

The thing is, the way Heinlein’s mind worked, you could give him a hackneyed and stupid prompt and he ran with it making it as plausible as possible. (We have proof of that in Sixth Column) which meant that along the way he created a pretty good thought experiment for “if this were really happening, what would it look like?”

Which is what he did with Puppet Masters. (We’ll get to They Walked Like Men towards the end.)

And the world we lived in, with mass media controlling what we saw and did and what “everybody knew” was as close to the world of the Puppet Masters under the “masquerade” as anything could come that wasn’t actual brain parasites from space. And anyone — this persists in the areas taken over by the left both virtual and physical — telling the truth came/comes across as a complete loony.

Except the Masquerade is breaking.

There is a terrifying scene in Puppet Masters, where the parasites are exposed, and the entire office that is working perfectly normally and looking completely humdrum breaks. The scene shatters, and these very ordinary secretaries and stenographers go for the characters with bare nails and teeth.

There are other places where the masquerade shatters in the book, until finally when the brain parasites realize humanity knows of them, the masquerade breaks completely and the aliens start living the way they really want to, and it’s horrific.

Right now we’re somewhere in between. With COVIDiocy and the stolen election, there are parts of society that are just going “Fine, we stole it, you’ll never have a say again” (This is particularly in your face in blue cities and states that vote by mail fraud) and letting it all hangout. (Same in Canada, with little Castreau.) They’re dancing in the streets, metaphorically, screaming “you’ll eat the bugs and DIE and DIE DIE DIE.” And it’s such a horrific display that the person in the street is providing cover for it by refusing to believe this can EVEN be happening.

And the other parts, the parts like the federal government and the incredibly corrupt agencies, are those secretaries. They’ve realized that we can see them, we know what they are, and they’ve lost all pretense of sanity. They’re just attacking, hands and claws, and biting teeth, raiding private homes, stealing cell phones, and being completely crazy, because they realized they’re EXPOSED and they can’t be exposed and survive.

The point, and the analogy though, is that they were there a long time before. They’ve been there at least 20 years, and in many places, let’s be fair, over 50. They kept up a pretense of legitimacy and process and law. Until we saw them. And then all hell broke lose.

Where do we go from here?

I don’t know. We don’t have a magical martian disease to get rid of them, so I don’t know how many of them are salvageable. Those of us who believe can pray for them. It might do no good, but it will do no harm.

And the thing is, we don’t need the martian disease, because these are humans, just humans. They’re corrupt and crazy, and we’ve thrown off other corrupt and crazy aristocracies before. Which they know. And why they’re going crazy and wounded-animal, in their attempt to survive.

The other side of this is They Walked Like Men. Clifford Simak was, I have it on Jerry Pournelle’s authority, a conventional liberal of his time, which is to say far left than us.

But in this book, he captured perfectly what happens when a force that doesn’t understand symbology and confuses the symbol for the thing uses the symbols to take over society.

The fundamentals, underneath, are fine. It’s just the symbolic structure that’s borked.

Now, in this case the symbolic structure of power, unlike the mere money of the novel (and seirously, if no one else thinks of BlackRock I’ll be sad. Also, what kind of idiots named their company after the meteor of Islam, again?) is also the various institutions that symbolically run the economy and the society.


Well, yes. You don’t actually need a doctor to have the seal of the AMA to have a good doctor. You don’t need a lawyer to have the stamp of approval of the board to have a good lawyer, and when you get down from there, there are people walking around who know more about any given subject than those holding the credentials from an accredited university. (I swear we’re a country of weaponized autists. I probably know more about Shakespeare than people who teach Shakespearean biography. And may plumber ten years ago was the world’s foremost expert on Civil War weapons, if you could get him talking. And any number of the rest of us, in the middle of our humdrum lives get a question about our passion, and the eyes light up, and we start talking, and the problem is for the casual bystander to avoid getting graduate level education on whatever it is, from ladies underwear in the 14th century to the specific composition of Martian sands.)

The accreditation, the power, the structure is symbolic. And that’s what the left has seized, thereby claiming you can’t be a whatever without drinking deep of their poison. Which they then use to claim “all smart people are with us.”

But that is breaking too. I read an article recently saying we’re doing a disservice to conservative kids by telling them to stay out of colleges.

But are we? Are we really?

It’s not that we fear they’ll be contaminated. If you raised them right, they won’t. They might get angry. But that’s about it.

It’s that colleges each year become more of a scam to make you waste time while paying Beardo the Weirdo a comfortable retirement stipend and building really massive buildings around campuses.

Yeah, indoctrination too, but they’re in it for the money.

I’ve seen this kind of sclerosis, of institutions eaten from inside and forgetting what they’re meant to do. Yes, traditional publishing toddles on. But notice that’s because German companies (and Europe hasn’t jumped on the ebook revolution, just like they didn’t jump on political blogging, which only proves we are, yes, different.) But it is not what it was. It no longer holds the stamp of approval of the culture. And it sells less and less every year. Meanwhile, it is entirely possible to become a mega-bestseller and influential as a pure indie. It’s not guaranteed, but it never was. But it is possible.

When institutions are seen to be eaten out; when the throne is revealed to be thin sheet gold over rotted wood, it doesn’t last.

I don’t know when the flip will come, but it feels like it’s really close, when the “official credentials” will mean nothing, and employers will be scouring high and low for those who know and can do.

Because we’re in the middle of the masquerade falling apart.

And that’s both terrifying and disgusting, but it’s also, objectively, the end of what the masquerade preserved: The steady erosion of all structures, under cover of normalcy.

Thing is, once you see the enemy, you know where it is and what it is. And you see, in full display, its grotesque vileness.

And it doesn’t stand a chance.

The Limits Of History

I’m a fan of history. As in, it’s been one of my favorite reading genres since I was ten or so and found mom’s old history schoolbooks.

I like that people in the past aren’t forgotten, and also to see how things happened, and how they were done, way back in the past.

I still buy so many history books that for a while there — back in the dark ages, when you had to order from History Book Club for the stuff your bookstore wouldn’t even carry — I could have made my paycheck over to the History Book Club.

I think I was in my thirties before I realized the books weren’t history. They were “agreed upon interpretation of history.”

The agreed upon was important for me at the time, because I was mostly writing historical stuff, and the agreed upon version is the safe one, if you don’t want to keep forever defending it.

There are limits, of course. I wouldn’t change Sword and Blood to follow the latest movies on the musketeers (at the time.) No, Porthos was never a pirate. No, Athos won’t reconcile with Mylady. No she’s not just misunderstood. And no, for the love of fargin Bob, I will not use the names of the “real musketeers.” (So, the idea is that there was a book that Dumas based his stories on and those are the “the real musketeers.” Meh. The source material is NOT the story. In that source, all the musketeers were cousins and all Gascons. So, you know, no. Also in the book, the only one ever named is Aramis. (Would you believe Rene?))

However if everyone insists Anne Boleyn was an evil seductress, you might as well go with it, or not write about her. The push back will be next level.

And I did tell you — didn’t I? — about the editor who refused my Red Baron time travel story, because he was a villain and shot Snoopy? Sometimes, you can’t win the battle. What everybody knows (at least in Traditional publishing) is too strong. So the book was shelved.

But it took me much longer to realize how much the history that everybody knows and what really happened differ. And it took me till 2020 to want to hit heads over it.

You know that meme that went around on with the founding fathers and “Me and my buddies would already be stacking bodies?” That’s the image of the founding fathers in movies, and heavily influenced by the seventies “they were revolutionaries” thing.

They were actually farmers, cobblers, businessmen, lawyers, accountants, husbands, fathers, sons and brothers.

What does that mean? Well, that the only ones who were raving about “stacking bodies” were people like Tom Payne, who later went to join the French revolution on the side of the revolutionaries. There was something broken in that man, no matter that he was on the side of good for a little while.

The rest of them? A lot, until the last minute, until they signed the declaration of independence, thought a reconciliation with England was possible, and waffled on the daily over whether such a thing as separation was needed.

This while already actively fighting Englishmen and knowing d*mn well they were all on kill lists.

And if you go back and actually read the horrors the Englishmen perpetrated… Take the political prisoners in DC now and the stolen election and multiply by a hundred.

But the founding fathers still hoped everything could be smoothed over and made whole.

Think of any revolt against an overpowering tyrant, and you are thinking of the movie version, or the slightly longer and still way sped up book version. Yes, even the goatgaggers on history pretty it up, simplify it and make it seem much more rational and coherent.

Real revolts take time, and the most resolute of revolutionaries, unless infused with the cult-like fervor of Marxism (which tends to attract psychopaths, anyway) back off, hesitate, hem and haw.

Most of you, if the Founding Fathers (PARTICULARLY FRANKLIN) were blogging today would call them weak sisters, appeasers, and people who just wanted things to go back to “normal.”

And yet the revolution happened and here we are.

And I’m fairly sure the abuses and insanity will not go on.

Thing is, I can’t point you to direct history, because history books and what we know as history are not what happened. (And that’s part of what’s leading you astray.)

Look, reality is not a story. It isn’t even made of stories. It is the raw material from which you can extract stories that you can then tell people.

Because reality is messy. Take if you will, if I should become of interest to history (Heaven forfend) how would yesterday be characterized? Well…. I wrote a blog. I sure did, and historically speaking, nothing else. Of course, I met with a friend, read his stuff. Talked to younger son and worked on his move stuff. Talked to a repairman, got dryer fixed and parts ordered for the dishwasher. Washed way too many dishes by hand. Watered the garden.

Are those things I did? Yes. And a lot of them are things that matter — for instance, the dishwasher. Having it fixed saves me having to waste three hours a day on dishes — but they’re not part of the story. Heck, if the story is “fiction writing” I did NOTHING yesterday.

Now multiply that by the population of a country, even when the population was six million or so.

History is messy, convoluted and complicated. The “history” we extract from it is simplified, didactic and often …. like translation, so changed so you can “get” it that it’s actually flat wrong, while retaining a shadow of a shade of what really happened.

So, what really happened in the revolutionary war?

They endured far more than we’ve even started to endure, until it reached critical mass. A lot of their striking back was wrong. A lot of the founding fathers seemed to be on both sides at once. A lot of them were on one side, then changed. A lot of the people on the other side, who ran away or learned to be quiet weren’t evil villains. They didn’t support the horrors the English inflicted on the colonies. They’d just not processed them, or thought there must be an explanation, or perhaps knew of the bad things the revolutionaries had done. Or were afraid of being targeted for their religion, in some of the friskier colonies.

So, when you come here and you say “We haven’t rebelled. We’ll never rebel.” you’re talking from the movie in your head, where everyone is fully aware and on the same page you are and everyone understands the constitutional implications of every little thing, and everyone — as one — rises up and–

Can you hear the music swelling? It’s never happened that way.

And now you’re going to come back and say it’s all like what happened in Cuba, or Venuzuela, or heaven forbid, China or — our resident troll, yesterday apropos nothing — some tribal war in Africa.

That’s cute. That’s lovely. You know what’s left out of that?

Culture. You’re falling into the same trap as the globalists who think every culture is the same, and so, we’re all at heart compliant Chinese peasants. (Even they aren’t that compliant, it’s just that the control on information is next level and entire areas in revolt get written out of history there.

Cultures aren’t widgets and humans aren’t widgets. And Americans are chaos incarnate, compared to most countries, which is what frustrates the statists when they try their cr*p here.

We haven’t revolted, but we’re already rebelling. What do you think “let’s go Brandon” or the instant support for the Kenosha kid were all about? Why do you think they’re so scared they’re doing all the stupid things? By the way, their real poll numbers, the ones they see, not the ones they push, must be next level. And their megaphone is broken. People mostly make fun of the news, except for shuttins and the dullest of our compatriots.

Will we revolt? I don’t know. Will it be violent? I don’t know.

I know that through my anger, I’m still praying we can turn this without violence.

But I do know that what they’re doing — unlike the raid on Mar-a-largo, which isn’t – is hitting people IMMEDIATELY and comprehensively.

You can argue on constitutional rights; you can’t argue on “I’m having trouble meeting expenses, and Christmas might not happen for my kids.”

Note that the first signs of widespread revolt we’ve seen have come with what the schools are doing to kids. Because it’s immediate and it hits hard.

A cold winter with food being hard to get and expensive will hit most people.

What can’t go on, won’t.

If it tips into revolution, it will be sudden, unpredictable, and horrible. Even if we agree with the goals, a lot of us will sit here going “I’m not sure THAT incident was right” and the whole thing will proceed, through failure and win and mixed feelings, till it concludes.

Nothing is cut and dry or picture perfect, although future historians will try to make it so.

Right now, they’re deploying the things they control to try to get us to do something we regret. I think they’re being stupid, because frankly, at this point, if it starts, I don’t think they can put it down. It’s like those “controlled burns” that go out of control.

But sooner or later, controlled burn or not, if a forest has a lot of dead branches and the weather is hot, the fire will happen. Can I predict where it will start? Or when? No. And driving through the forest in those conditions is nerve-wracking, let alone live there. And we might hope the fire doesn’t happen at all, but know what it would take to keep it tamped down is more or less eternal snows. And that’s not acceptable.

Heed the real lessons of history: Each country is different, and until mass-media controlled us somewhat, the US was like a bunch of cats in a sac. From day to day observation, we more or less still are. We’re not a people well suited to being controlled. Like fooling people, it can be achieved for a time, in a place. But not forever and all over.

The forest is very high on tinder, indeed. It’s up to the knees of the casual walker. And they’re running through with flame throwers.

You can hope someone would grab them, use the flame throwers on them, and starts clearing. I do.

But most people aren’t even aware of how bad it is, or how bad it will get. And metaphorically speaking, we won’t get out of this without losing a lot of the trees, some of them small and green and hopeful.

It is what it is. Real life is like that. You can prepare, you can make sure you and yours are somewhat safe.

And you can pray the fire isn’t as bad as you expect.

But you can’t do a thing to either stop it or hurry it up.

Real life is messy and confusing.

All is not lost. We haven’t even started to fight, and in historical time we’re not close to enough time to start to fight.

This too shall pass, and us with it.

While we’re here, let’s make the most of every day. And make it count towards the future, freedom and a restored republic.

The rest will take care of itself.