Dance To The Music – A Blast From the past from February 14th 2017

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Dance To The Music – A Blast From the past from February 14th 2017

The last day I’ve been going “Argh” as I realize the barriers that have been put to thinking and expression thereof, as well as the continuous blast of “this you must think, this you must celebrate” (more onerous than even “this you must not think” and “this you must not do” that Heinlein cautioned us about) just in the last ten years or so.

The first occasion of ARGH was my going over page proofs for my mystery, Dipped, Stripped and Dead (under pen name Elise Hyatt.)

It was supposed to be out in December, then the collapse, and then January turned into “bursts of insane working, punctuated by the worst flu I’ve ever had.”  That extended into February.  Yesterday Dorothy Grant (BTW, her first book is out) pointed out if I didn’t try to use the treadmill desk the first day I feel up to it, I might not relapse again.  It might have been too late for that warning, though this relapse feels less awful than the last.  I should have pointed out to her that sanity is for sissies, but she might be able to slap me, even from Texas.

Anyway, in going over Draw One In The Dark, I came across a character I’d forgotten was in the book.  First I should point out the furniture refinishing mysteries are where I put most autobiographical details, to the point of older son making me change a thing because he uses it as a password.  Both boys refer to this series as “selling our childhood retail.”  As in, E. the little boy character in the book, is a composite of my sons at that age.

The character I had forgotten was a Marine, who was a carpenter and six foot six or seven, whose other “personality” was a female who liked to dress in extremely high heels.  He was completely harmless, and a very nice man, except for a tendency to think my wedding vows didn’t mean much.  THIS part was goofy. (Though he took his rebuff with grace.) And hitting on me in my own kitchen, while wearing women’s clothing was very very creepy.  His other goofy idea was that he passed as female.  (OTOH best line to guys who were making fun of  him in a bar was “How would you like to have your ass kicked by a guy in a dress?”)

Anyway, I use a version him in that book, and gentle ribbing happens.

It occurred to me that I couldn’t get that book traditionally published today for the thought crime of “laughing at the transgendered” (which I wasn’t.  I was laughing at a very specific person whom I actually liked, but who had some odd quirks in his brain, as who doesn’t?)

And I went “ARGH.” Because this is an area in which we must now think that someone’s cross dressing name/persona is as valid or more valid than his male personality/person, and we’re supposed to call his occasionally liking to dress as a woman “genderfluid.” We MUST also not find it funny that he thinks his female persona is beautiful.  (He is/was — we lost touch and he was older than I– a gorgeous man, of the “craggy type” which does not translate well to female beauty.)

In a way, this type of enforcing of what we MUST think of people’s little quirks is less tolerant and makes us less free.  I mean, I honestly don’t know if my friend viewed this other persona of his as a whole other “person” or just as a hobby, i.e. something fun he liked to do/explore.  And that was fine.  I mean, we didn’t hold our noses up at him, and it was none of our business what he chose to do.  But now, by the dictates of the politically correct church, he and I and all our friends would have to think of it as very serious indeed, a “genderfluid” thing that meant he wasn’t the same sex his body was for at least part of his time.

How is this helping? Sure, if you really are a person who thinks he/she shifts genders occasionally, you now have reinforcement/support.  But what about everyone else?  What about the vast spectrum of people, from guys who think women clothes are fun, to guys who just want to explore that side of themselves? WHY must there be only one correct way to be a guy who periodically dresses/thinks he passes as a woman?  And isn’t labeling every other view of it as hateful… rather hateful?

My other moment of Argh was occasioned by younger son.  No, that doesn’t mean younger son did something wrong.  He didn’t.  It’s more that younger son told me about something.  (Oh, dear Lord, why does he do that?) and what he told me about was that some show introduced the concept of “Galentine’s” on the 13th.  This is a day for “ladies to celebrate ladies.”  What was driving younger son bananas (with a side of kiwi) is that he seeing all his female friends fall into this.

The idea is frankly loony.  Valentine’s itself is highly commercialized, but most of the time, my husband I circumvent it by having walks together, or just watching a movie together.  However, a day to celebrate being a couple is useful (and it wasn’t proclaimed by some government.  In fact, I’m fairly sure what it is in the US grew organically, because it’s not the same anywhere else.  In Portugal it’s considered “boyfriend/girlfriend day” but it mostly amounts to some kissing and maybe flowers.  Or it did in my day.)  Trust me, in the years of raising toddlers, any time to remember yes, you’re in love, and what brought you together is important.

But Galentine?  What the actual heck?  It’s not bonding, and it’s not building a relationship that is a cornerstone of society.  No.  It’s … putting up lists of your friends who are female and celebrating them BECAUSE THEY’RE FEMALE.  This is something they were born, and can’t help being, and… what are we celebrating, precisely?

It’s not that I object to “ugly/awkward girls get a day too.”  No.  it’s the undertones of it.  It’s the “It’s just as good to be a woman as a couple (you know, the future would beg to differ) and how being a woman is something you should celebrate because… because… because….  I don’t know?  Because we have vaginas?

Picture guys saying that being a man is something to celebrate, because… they have penises?  Mind you, I’m a big fan of both men and their ah implement, but seriously? It would be laughable.  And celebrating because you’re a woman is equally laughable.

Mind you, I’m probably the voice crying in the wilderness in the days of pussy hats and women marching around with signs painted with vulvas or proudly proclaiming they have a vulva, but it seems to me if what makes you special is the non-thinking thing between your legs, you’re doing life wrong, you’re doing equality wrong and MOST importantly, you’re doing SPECIAL wrong.

I have friends who are female and friends who are male.  Not only do I not care what their equipment is, but frankly I don’t want to think about their equipment.  The only person whose sexual organs matter to me (other than myself) is my husband.  It’s the only one whose sexual organs have an even remote effect on our relationship (I maintain if we lost the capacity to have sex tomorrow, love would go on, so, yes, remote.  But it would be less fun.)

What makes my friends special are the things we both enjoy, the things we like to talk about, their fascinating minds or their generous personality, or their kindness, or their enthusiasm or all of those and more.  None of them, though are “vagina” or “penis.”

Celebrating my lady friends is goofy.  Celebrating my gentlemen friends sounds like I’m having affairs.  I love all my friends, and wouldn’t even be opposed to giving non-romantic valentines, the way elementary school kids do it.  (Only not to everyone I know.) BUT I don’t think of my friends in neat little groups.  A couple of my best-male friends are gay.  I don’t have them in a group for “my gay friends.” I only think of them in those terms when refuting some idiocy from left or right about “all gay males” or when the subject — usually a joke — is one they’d enjoy.  In that sense it’s like thinking of my “writer friends” a fluid group who will appreciate some jokes/situations more than my other friends.

Putting people in groups, some of which are to be celebrated and some reviled is a trick for “governing” and controlling people, which has been used since machiavelli.

What burns me is seeing people willingly cooperate in this, seemingly unaware that any group that’s uplifted can be cast down when policy demands it.  It’s all a game to control people.

They can pipe all they want.  I’m not dancing.

Happy valentines to all my friends, male and female, all of whom are loved even those I’ve never met but who make this blog interesting.

You are loved, all of you, you fascinating individuals.  Now, go be you.

 

 

Civil Shoulder Shrug

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I know, and have said, that one of the things I appreciate the most about America is how law abiding we are.

I’ve written in the past about the transformative experience of realizing no one stole Christmas decorations from yards, followed by realizing how few yards had even a nominal picket fence.  Mind you, I still don’t feel okay without a fence, and when I’ve lived in a house with one, I obsessed about closing gates, since it seemed to me an open gate was an invitation to entry.

Now, when I was a kid in Portugal, the only well defended houses — eight foot walls, broken glass on top — were those more than a hundred years old, dating back to the Napoleonic wars or the civil war.

BUT there were no yards without walls.  My parents’ garden wall was maybe four feet high, and made of stone, but behind it was an hedge that went up another 2 feet.  Not insurmountable. Coming home to find gates locked, and having forgotten the keys (or perhaps our parents thought we were home. Whistles innocently) both my brother and I showed that the wall was entirely surmountable, and in stealth as well.  Of course we also showed you could jump between the terrace and the balcony. And I was somewhat better at pulling up the blinds from the outside, and defeating the window lock. (Prompting my brother to tell me, in pride, that I could make a living as a second story woman.  BTW we were usually together and not doing anything wrong, though often something temporarily “illegal” in the sense that we’d break curfew to go to book meetings and book fairs [curfews were often only for thirty and under, since the authorities feared civil unrest.])

These days my parents’ garden walls are eight feet tall, and the pipes someone might use to climb into the house are girded in razor wire.  Also, the house is a series of compartments, each of them separated from the other with doors as strong as a bank vault’s.

Note the progression. It’s not inevitable. And it’s not just “oh, times have changed.”  The question is WHY times have changed.

Portugal has an history of shrugging its shoulders at laws, and of thinking laws apply to other people only (never to the individual talking about how we need MORE laws.) Hence why no yard decorations were safe, and people had at least nominal walls to signal “this is mine. No trespassing.”

However, keep in mind those nominal walls used to WORK, which means there was some respect for private property, just not the same as in the US. I.e. people weren’t respecting the law that said “if it belongs to someone else don’t take it” but the wall that said “the individual will protect his things.”

The underlying lack of respect for central authority might have its roots in the deep past of the culture — I really wish I could abide a degree in anthropology in the current climate, because one of the things I REALLY want to know (and perhaps we all NEED to know) is how long deep-culture survives. Something like the subconscious of the collective culture — where every new invader brought his new and nonsensical “laws” and “orders” and sometimes the only way to survive was to cock a snook at them.

On the other hand, perhaps it’s all the near-disturbances, starting with the Napoleonic invasions and the civil war, and then the deposition of the king, and then anarchists (of the left kind) trying to govern and bankrupting the country, followed by national socialism, international socialism of various flavors, and then the EU mad-hatter take over.  I noticed by the way a brief flash of more respect for the laws, when the EU took Portugal in, followed by things going rapidly to hell with no coming back, and lately accelerating to insanity. (OUTSIDE touristic areas. Things seem to be safer in touristic areas. Possibly because again, while cocking a snook at unreasonable rules the locals are not insane and realize where the bread is buttered and which orifice the golden eggs eject from.)

Which brings us to the circumstances under which a culture remains as law abiding as possible while shrugging its shoulders at insanity.  (BTW in another proof that Portugal is a mystery even to me, they meekly obey EU laws on stuff like “no selling of homemade foods at fairs” while the walls climb higher because crime is out of control, and traffic laws become AT BEST traffic suggestions.)

I’m sure there was a period of rebellion against national socialist laws when they first came in but I wasn’t born. And I think my parents weren’t born either (I’m fuzzy on the dates, and too sleepy to go look them up.)  HOWEVER I remember the transition of national to international socialism, in my early teens, and its own sets of bizarre laws which, as always when statists take over the economy and dictate who can work and who can eat involved massive economic disruptions. (Even when it’s just a trade off between statists, you know?)

So I remember stuff like when all bakeries closed because there was only ONE baker’s union, and it decreed general strike. … so everyone and their cousins started a lively trade in black market yeast, and a lot of women learned to make bread. But wait, there’s more. After a couple of weeks, everyone knew which doors to knock at and what the knock was, and they’d sell you bread they made, out the backdoor.  Some of these people were actually bakers, going in and working the bakeries at weird hours, then bringing the bread home to sell.

Other such things went on. People whose business had been seized worked at home,a nnd you could buy their stuff, if you knew the sign and countersign (which was a LARP sensation :-P).

In fact after a while, as people got used to the disruptions, things adjusted around them, and reshaped, and life went on.

Practically anyone who has lived under tyranny has stories like that.  Without the black market, the USSR wouldn’t have lasted 10 years. (And would have managed to starve even more people.)

There seems to be some switch amid even the most law abiding people that goes “The government/authorities are trying to kill me. I’m not going to die.”

Our government/authorities are completely unaware of this, btw, partly because they grew up in a culture of almost German respect for the law. Partly because the parts of the government that are at war with us have been taught a bunch of shit that just ain’t so about how the world works and how much other countries respect law. They’re not precisely stupid, but they are as ignorant of humanity as though they’d been raised by aliens.  (Are Marxists human? Inside the head, where the Marxist software runs, I mean? I don’t know. And neither do you. We also still haven’t found the Martian fever that will salvage the human while destroying the parasite controlling him.)

So when they set about destroying the economy — partly because they hate OrangeManBad, partly because they hate US with a purple passion, for being “ungovernable” and refusing to cooperate with their dreams of socialism — they have no clue what they’re unleashing.

But we should know. We should become aware of it. We should become aware of it if ONLY because this might be a dress rehearsal, if they manage to steal the election in November (and don’t think they won’t. Most people are like infants in their denial of the massive levels of fraud.) But also because frankly, it’s time they realized their schemes aren’t going to work. They need their nose shoved in. They need a demonstration as to why they’re playing a dangerous game. Before they go too far.

So lay in your plans on how to survive their economic blow designed to make sure that only the big corporations (largely under their control) survive this.

What your plan is, depends on who you are.  I know that already hair stylists are doing house calls, and thereby cocking a snook at the closure orders while not calling the kind of fire on them that open defiance would do.

The rest of us? Well…  I’m a fairly useless woman,  who can’t do much but tell stories. But I’m studying ways to start other part time businesses (yes, in my copious spare time) simply to raise the unicorn fist aloft and scream “We will do better than we did before. And also you’re not the boss of us. You never were.”

I don’t know your circumstances, or your place. However, start laying in your plans (Oh, and the person who can and has time to program, please ping me in email again. Have talked to husband. We might be able to start …. something to sell books online right now without infringing on your amazon sales.  Later…. well. Later getting around blocks might be helpful.)  Start getting ready to move.  Not in a violent way (there are other boxes we can resort to, still) but in ways that denies their primary object of destroying us economically.

In fact, because we’re us, and not Portuguese with its long inheritance of dysfunctionality, let’s do this in an American way: Bigger, Better, More in Your Face and Unabashedly.

Let’s make sure we come out of this better off than we ever were.  Each of us and all of us.

Be fearless, be innovative be — despite them — prosperous.

Be not afraid.

Go be productive.

 

 

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo

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Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  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. I ALSO WISH TO REMIND OUR READERS THAT IF THEY WANT TO TIP THE BLOGGER WITHOUT SPENDING EXTRA MONEY, CLICKING TO AMAZON THROUGH ONE OF THE BOOK LINKS ON THE RIGHT, WILL GIVE US SOME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR PURCHASES MADE IN THE NEXT 24HOURS, OR UNTIL YOU CLICK ANOTHER ASSOCIATE’S LINK. PLEASE CONSIDER CLICKING THROUGH ONE OF THOSE LINKS BEFORE SEARCHING FOR THAT SHED, BIG SCREEN TV, GAMING COMPUTER OR CONSERVATORY YOU WISH TO BUY. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

FROM S. L. BARON:  Vanilla Blood: A Novella

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Tragedy leaves Livia Hart a broken shell of herself. Craving escape from her grief and guilt, she heads to Europe, taking the trip she’s dreamed about for years.

While in London, her prayers are answered when she meets Lucian Llewellyn. Lucian offers her more than just one night of bliss to forget her loss: the gift of immortality, to be reborn as a vampire.

Livia enters a world where vampires refuse to mourn their existence. They instead embrace their roles as powerful predators, hiding in plain sight and preying on those who won’t be missed.

But secrets from Lucian’s past threaten Livia’s newfound happiness. Can she survive in her new life knowing the truth? Or will the revelations condemn her to an eternity of regret?

FROM LAURA MONTGOMERY:  Sleeping Duty (Waking Late Book 1).

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Gilead Tan and Andrea Fielding survived their stint in the military, got married, signed up to emigrate to a terraformed colony world, and went into cold sleep for the journey from Earth. While they slept, the starship went through the wrong fold in space and settled for a different world, a wild world.

Three centuries after the founding of a colony on the uncharted planet, Gilead awakens to find humanity slipped back to medieval tech and a feudal structure.

Worse, the king who wants Gilead awake won’t let Gilead awaken his wife.

FROM ANNA FERREIRA:  As She Was No Horsewoman: A Pride & Prejudice Sequel.

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Elizabeth has never learnt to ride a horse. Darcy thinks this a grave oversight in her education, and with the help of a little mare named Rose, sets out to teach his wife the art of horsemanship. Poor Elizabeth had no idea what she was getting herself into…

FROM ALYX SILVER:  But He Turned Out Very Wild: A Short Pride And Prejudice Variation.

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In the original Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen there was only enough good between Darcy and Wickham to make a “good sort of man.”
But what if that were NOT true? What if what we — and Darcy — think we know about Wickham was all wrong?
In this short story of intrigue and crime, one might end up feeling sorry for George Wickham himself.

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: High-pitched.

There will be chapter by the by

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Hi guys. I was hauling river rock.  Freed an entire flowerbed for cosmos, which are great flowers because they self-seed and don’t let weeds bother them. Oh, and I can use them for cut flowers.
I also am ALMOST at the point of digging up the side flower bed for the “dedicated” rose garden. (For now. Next year, if things are okay, I’d like to put a gazebo in the middle of the yard, with roses climbing over it, but that’s…. not this year. It’s conditional on my writing enough and the economy doing well enough we can afford to spend around 1k on “it makes Sarah happy.”

I will do a chapter today or tomorrow, but …. things hurt.

Oh, yeah, I’ve been driving.  So if you’re in Denver and you see a crazy woman with calico hair (an attempt to remove the hair dye, you don’t want to know) driving a red honda, beware.  Anyway, today I forgot it’s not the expedition, so I loaded the trunk with 500 lbs of soil and manure and then it drove like a barge.  I came home before going out for further shopping.

On the good side, heavy work always calms me down and I’m feeling rather happy.  Just dead on my feet. It reminds me of Heinlein’s ode to the wheelbarrow.

Panic Reaction on a National Scale by David Burkhead

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Panic Reaction on a National Scale by David Burkhead

So, for some months now we’ve been engaging in greater or lesser degrees of restrictions in order to “flatten the curve” (although now people are claiming it’s to completely stop–more on that in a moment) of COVID19 (which I like to call “Winnie the Flu”).

Few, if any of these restrictions make a lick of sense.

First off, the models that drove most of the reaction (and, let’s be honest, the panic) were created by Neil Ferguson, a “mathematical epidemiologist” who had previously made such predictions as (https://statmodeling.stat.columbia.edu/2020/05/08/so-the-real-scandal-is-why-did-anyone-ever-listen-to-this-guy/) …

– 2002: Predicted up to 50,000 in the UK would die form Bovine Spongeaform Encephalitis (“Mad Cow Disease”). To date, there have been 177 deaths from that cause.
– 2005: Predicted that up to 150 million people would die from that year’s Avian Flu. In the end, only 282 people died from that strain.
– 2009: Swine flu this time. Based on Ferguson’s advice a UK government estimate was 65,000 deaths in Great Britain. Actual deaths? 457.

So, given this stellar track record, the real question is: why did anybody give this idiot any credence at all when he admitted using undocumented 13 year old code intended for a then feared flu epidemic and not for coronavirus?

But, governments around the world, including those of the US and its component states, saw those dire predictions and panicked.

“Keep social distancing, stay at least 6 feet away from other people.” Why six feet? For viruses carried in normal breath it’s dramatic overkill. 3 feet, a fairly comfortable “personal space bubble” for most people in most situations, is plenty. Droplets carried by coughs and sneezes go farther, much farther than 6 feet. So in one situation it’s inadequate. In another it’s overkill. This is a case where “somewhere in the middle” buys nothing. If you’re going to dismiss the sneezing and coughing issue (maybe by expecting people to cover their mouths–which they should be doing anyway) then six feet buys nothing over three feet. If, however, you’re concerned about sneezing and coughing then six feet is as bad as three feet.

“Gatherings of no more than 10 people.” Um, okay. Ten people in the local Petsmart. Then 10 people at the drug store. Ten people at Kroger. Ten people at the local park. Ten people at a blot (call it a “bible study and support group” for those of a Christian persuasion). And so on. One person going from place to place and now all those people are exposed.

And a lot of things just seem to be so arbitrary. Married couple who live together sitting together on a bench? Separate, more than 6 feet, or be ticketed. Really? In what way does that make sense?

Man surfing all by himself. Arrested for violating quarantine orders–and put in a jail where he’ll be in enforced close association with a bunch of other people. How is “in jail” better from a perspective of slowing the spread of disease than is “surfing all alone, not another person in sight”? Boating (so long as no more than 10 people) okay. Drop a baited line off the boat (fishing) and that’s a violation. How does that make sense?

Then there’s New York. New York is a city utterly dependent on mass transit. So, shutdowns reduce the number of people traveling every day? Well and good. But with fewer people using the mass transit, the city reduces the number of subways and buses running, thus ensuring that the remaining ones are every bit as packed as they were before the shutdowns. Packed subway cars, a perfect breeding ground for the spread of disease.

COVID19 is largely harmless to people who do not have serious co-morbidities, to people who aren’t the very old, or with significant heart and lung problems. So, nursing homes are filled with the most vulnerable people. So why require nursing homes to accept COVID19 patients? Yet that was exactly what Cuomo ordered.

There is absolutely no sense to the restrictions being imposed on the American People in the name of COVID19. They range from the useless to the deadly. This does not mean that there are not things that can be done that would actually help the situation:

– Wash your hands.
– If you’re sick, stay home (unless you’re sick enough to need to go to the hospital).
– Isolate those who are most at risk (the elderly, those with significant heart or breathing problems).

Really, you should be doing all of that anyway. If COVID19 gets people actually doing that then that’s a win. Not worth the other nonsense but, “it’s an ill wind” and all that.

But the rest? Not only useless but actively harmful. First, from the way diseases work, you want the low risk people to get the disease. Get it, get over it, and stop being a risk to everyone else. You want it to spread quickly and thoroughly through the low-risk population. By slowing that, you delay when “herd immunity” is able to protect the higher risk people. And then there’s the other effects of all the restrictions, the effects on the economy. People keep trying to dismiss that as “millionaires profits” but economic damage extends far beyond some millionaire having to find a less expensive brand of champagne. It causes suffering and death for real people.

– Because rising unemployment kills people. We’re already, as of the last figures I’ve seen 11% higher unemployment than before this started and it’s going to go a lot higher before we’re through. Another figure I’ve seen is that each 1% of added unemployment leads to 2 additional suicides per 100,000 population. Do the math.

– Because food shortages (which we will have) and outright famine (which, if we don’t have here, other people will because the food we normally export we’ll be keeping to make up the shortages here) kill people.

– Because delaying other medical testing and treatment in fear of “the Rona” will kill people. This is not a hypothetical. A friend of mine had a breast tumor biopsy delayed because “elective procedure” (“elective” in medical terms simply means “can be scheduled” rather than “get him in the OR right now or he’ll be dead right now”).

– Because people going violently “stir crazy” by being cooped up at home and not able to engage in their normal activities kills people.

This “shutdown” that people are trying to call a quarantine (an actual quarantine is where you isolate the sick and known or at least suspected carriers until they’re no longer contagious) also kills people. And nobody, at least not at the decision-making levels, is doing any kind of realistic assessment of the costs (human and otherwise) of the measures being taken vs. the cost of the disease itself. At least then one might be able to chart a course that leads to the least suffering and death.

Instead, we’re getting a panic reaction, people running around with their hair on fire not even realizing that they’re just fanning the flames.

Oh, and those who are beating the panic drums in order to use the “crisis” for their own cynical political ends.

The Danger of Masks

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Over and over, everywhere, they’re out in force.  “I wear a mask because I care.”

The fact this phrase is always used tells me it’s not original. They heard it somewhere, and it sounded good to them and they’re going to use it buckle and tongue whenever anyone challenges the UTILITY — or the sanity — of their wearing a mask.

In fact their wearing a mask is tying a yellow ribbon in their front yard during the Iran hostage crisis. It is flying the flag after 9/11. It’s a way of showing their feelings, their emotions.  It’s also a way of feeling part of a crowd.  (Yes, I flew the flag after 9/11. But my dears, I fly the flag all the time, up to and including when I get a wild hair.)

They don’t even TRY to argue it does something useful. They just view it as a symbol to tie to their faces, to show they “care.”

The problem is that it isn’t a gesture without a cost.

Flying the flag or tying the ribbon, or wearing the AIDs ribbon also did bloody nothing, except perhaps lend comfort to other people in the same situation. Like your neighbors who wanted the hostages back already and wanted life back to normal.  Or your friends who wanted a cure for AIDS. Or other people grossly infuriated by the attack on the twin towers, who wanted to do something when there was nothing they could do.

Yes, I DO understand the need for solidarity and a psychological feeling of doing something, even if it doesn’t mean much in the real world. I’m a writer. I deal in symbols. Of course I understand.

But wait, there’s a problem with the mask as the chosen symbol of “I care.”

I’ll admit if we’d done it INSTEAD of locking down I’d probably have done it (or tried to do it. For me there are costs greater than for most people. More on that later.)

For now let’s talk about the danger of masks.

No, not psychological dangers, though those exist too.

We’re going to talk about the CLOTH masks most people wear, which someone on facebook was insisting “cut your risk by 25%”.  I’m fairly sure those numbers are PFA or refer to the N-95 and surgical grade masks.

Because the cloth masks are about as good for stopping a virus as a window screen for stopping smoke.

You can’t, at the same time, say this virus is so tiny it hangs in the air, OUTDOORS for 10 hours, waiting for people to pass by, and that it is so big that it’s stopped by regular fat quarter cotton weave.  Or think that those who refuse to wear the mask are trying to kill you, but advice asthmatics like me, or those who have panic attacks with something in front of their mouth and nose that they must wear it “under the nose” or “really loose.”

It’s one or the other or it’s nothing.  In this case it’s nothing. The mask is solidarity, a symbol, a badge of “I wear it because I care.”

But you don’t care. Because what you’re doing when you not only wear the fargin magic mask, or tie it to your poor kids’ faces, or act like anyone not wearing one is trying to kill you is going to make people very sick. Or kill them.

So, let’s talk about what those cloth masks do.

On the PLUS side, they keep you from sneezing at people.  I don’t know about you but since the swine flu years ago, I have been sneezing into my elbow and facing downwards.  This means any extra particulate is going on the ground. Unless you’re licking the ground, you’re probably safe.

But let’s say you’re a rudesby who likes sneezing in people’s faces. Okay then, the mask keeps you from doing that.

But let’s talk about what the mask IS: a cloth medium that holds on moisture and particles you exhale.

Now let’s talk about cold viruses: you’re full of them. No, not just Coronavirus. LOTS of Corona Viruses. Rhino (from nose, not the animal) viruses too.  Even when you’re not sick, a certain amount of viruses live in you. They might just be too few to infect anyone, and besides, your immune system keeps them in check.

I had a friend who used to yell at me that my sons getting soaked to the skin in a snow storm was no reason to be scared they’d get sick, because you “get sick from viruses, not getting cold and wet.”

She was right and also woefully wrong. Her understanding of biology is such that though we’ve not spoken in years I’m sure she’s gone full frontal Karen and yells at people in public not wearing masks.

You see, the reason our ancestors, who weren’t dumb as rocks, called colds “colds” is that they were often brought on by a shock to the system. Like getting soaked and cold.  The virus was already there, but not in quantities to cause a horrible illness.  Until, of course, your defenses went down.

Also for the record, viruses mutate extremely fast and can interchange DNA and create super mutant viruses. This is why animals and people living in close proximity is a big issue and why we have swine flu, chicken pox, etc etc.

So when you tie a piece of nice — kept moist by your breath — fabric in front of your mouth and wear it EVERYWHERE you’re going to give those viruses an ideal place to grow and mutate.

Your caring is so GREAT you’re cultivating new viruses, just there for people to catch from you. Isn’t that nice?

On top of which, because the pieces of fabric don’t fit well and are uncomfortable, everyone I’ve seen fumbles with them constantly,thereby bringing whatever viruses they just picked up on their hands or gloves near their faces …. and adding to the petri dish.

This goes double for little kids, who are AT BEST little petri dishes, anyway, and I say this as someone who loves kid. They’re going to lick the inside of that mask, you know they are.  And continue wearing it.

A friend who is a nurse says under no circumstances should you wear a mask — the same mask — longer than half an hour.  Another friend who is a biologist says no, leaving the mask in the locked car in the sun is NOT enough to disinfect it. You need to run it through a bleach cycle on hot. (I’m not sure about the bleach, but the hot cycle is a good idea, I think. AND loads of detergent. And a hot dryer.)

And guess what? We’re already seeing pneumonias and strange viral things not Winnie the Flu from the mask mania.

In fact, I predict a very hard season ahead. And these people are doing it to themselves, because they “care” so much.

Look, disengaging your brain is always a bad thing. Disengaging your brain and playing with biology is a horrible thing. But go right ahead and tell us how much you “care.”

Oh, and by the way, there are people who simply can’t wear the mask. So when you go on an unhinged rant about how everyone who goes unmasked wants to spit in your face and kill you, not only are you an ignorant moron (being a moron is not your fault, but you could at least inform yourself, assuming a) that everyone is infected and b) that this virus is lethal in every case — which is so far from the truth it’s not even on the same planet. –) you’re also wanting to kill everyone who has asthma. Mine came out of remission with a vengeance within ten minutes of having a mask on. And, yes, asthma CAN kill you.  So can panic attacks. So can about a hundred other respiratory illnesses, chronic and not, that say ANYTHING blocking your airway is a bad idea.

And for the love all that’s holy, don’t jog with a mask on. You’re giving yourself hypoxia and brain damage, and trust me, you need every brain cell you have. They’re lonely as is.

Also don’t drive in a mask. You might not notice and depending on what you made your mask of you might become extremely hypoxic and crash.

If you have to wear a mask for work because your governor is a moron (Hi Jared Polis!) change them every half hour, and wash them in REALLY hot water with plenty of detergent when you get home.  If you don’t want to bleach them, color bleach might AT LEAST help some. Dry them in a hot dryer. IRON them.  Do your best to sanitize them if you can.

Oh, and before you bleat that Asia wears masks, and look how much better….

You know what else Asia, or at least Japan, did? NEVER SHUT DOWN.  And as for masks, friends there inform me that they do INDEED wear them: If they’re sick, and are in a place where they might not be able to cover before they sneeze on strangers two feet away.  So, if you ride the NYC subway and are feeling punk? DO WEAR A MASK.  If not? You’re not doing what they do in Asia. It’s a courtesy thing, not a “this protects me” thing.
Stop taking badly interpreted bits of other cultures and trying to graft them on like magic talismans. It only hurts you. And those around you.

On top of that, btw, since Winnie the flu is asymptomatic in about half the people and MILD in most people under 60 unless there are other conditions present, by wearing the mask, supposing it worked — it doesn’t, but let’s suppose it did — unless you’re one of the at risk, you’d be delaying herd immunity. Which means you’re giving the virus a chance to get to more VULNERABLE people and kill them.

A mask doesn’t show you care. It shows you don’t think. Or if you think, it shows you want to kill asthmatics, those at risk, and  want to inflict us with some plague that’s much, much worse than winnie the flu.  Your need to belong to the herd will kill people.  But don’t let that stop you. Go right ahead. Why not? Evolution finds a way.

Oh,and on belonging to the herd: Masks are apocalyptic cosplay.

One of the earliest needs of humans is to see human FACES. We are in fact programmed to see human faces in everything. Ever stared at a stone wall long enough? the random tracery will become a face.

In public, a smile diffuses tense situations, and strangers often give each other a vague smile meaning “you’re not a threat.”

Instead, we’re going out in public into a faceless landscape, often with angry eyes.  It prolongs the sense of fear, heightens the back brain panic, and in general makes everything worse out there.  It holds people in terror.

So, go ahead. You want to wear a mask? Wear a mask. But don’t tell me you care. Tell me you want to belong, and are either selfish or a dumb ass.

Because there’s a price for everything. And the price for mask mania is way too high.

On Not Being A Sheep

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I confess I probably should take no credit in not following the herd. It is, in fact, more difficult for me to follow it. Witness my struggles in 2016. It took rational arguments from two very different perspectives for me to join the majority of the right.  And occasionally….

BUT now that Das Bild, that notorious American right wing periodical (coff) says thatthe lockdown was a huge mistake, you might ask why I’ve been screaming it and “just protect the vulnerable” since this insanity begun.

Well, part of it was that I’ve watched the wheels come off an economy far smaller and less intricate than the US’s and I really didn’t want to live through that nonsense again. When the unofficial unemployment rate trolls the 80% mark (I don’t remember what shenanigans they were using to make it — I think — 30% and the only thing that functions is the black market, it’s not so much that people die of famine on the streets (considering Portugal is fertile enough a small backyard can feed the family and most people have or have family who has livestock, that would be a feat) but that the simple business of living takes way too much time. Stuff like finding the place that might be selling this or that requires following a network of rumors.  We’re kind of experiencing that right now in Colorado, trying to find out what’s open and what’s not.  It’s horrendously familiar.

Having seen the wheels come off, and knowing what the US economy means to the world, and how the US getting sniffles means a killing chill to everyone else, I was not convinced that even had the Xi disease been as lethal as the stupid model said, and set to kill a million people (out of a population of 300 million) it might be the lesser cost. Yes, go ahead, it’s callous and I want people to die, as all the trolls say.  Or perhaps, since I tend to think instead of emote, I look at a very bad situation, realize the choices are death and somewhat less death, maybe, and think that the “less death, maybe” is on the side of not destroying the economy.  Because, you see, unlike the left, I do understand what the economy is. It is not an artifact of capitalism, and without it, we’d each lie under our perfect Rousseaunian tree and wait for ripe fruit to fall in our mouths. Communist countries have an economy, too. (Though the functioning part is usually the black market.  The official economy is a way to starve on the installment plan.) What we call “the economy” is not Wall Street, (which is what these children of privilege think it is) but the sum total of the transactions that make it possible for people to buy food, cleaners, maintain their houses, get medical care, and everything beyond living in a tree and pelting other monkey troops with fruit.  (And even that is probably an economy. Biologists speak of the mechanism that allows an animal to eat as “making its living.”)

As bad as a million deaths would be (one in 300 people, and at the time we did not know it would be mostly the very elderly) for the economy, it was better than interrupting the supply chain for food. Or even than destroying the most productive years of the generation now in their twenties and thirties, due to a lack of jobs.  My brother and older cousin came out of college at the height of the Portuguese economic confusion and there were no jobs. My cousin found a job that suited her and was happy in her career, but she never really used her degree, which would both have paid better and I presume — since she chose it — have given her great satisfaction.  My brother eventually found a job, but it is safe to say he never found a career, or felt in any way useful, and retired early. There are probably millions like them and some of them might have made significant contributions to their field.  I have a son graduating with two engineering degrees, and the field went from his actively being headhunted to radio silence complete. If he doesn’t use his skills long enough — if we take long enough to recover — his skills will be outdated and likely valueless.

Now you might say that influenced my thought and darn tooting it did. As one of the vulnerable, since my lungs are never …. reliable, I thought from the beginning that if I had to die, well, my work is mostly done.  Yes, you maniacs will miss out on a dozen or more novels (hopefully a lot more, we’ll see. There’s other medical issues in play, as when are they not with me?) but since I expect to be forgotten ten minutes after my death, I don’t think my staying alive is more important than what my son might do in his entire career.

Anyway, that was my thought. I couldn’t prove it with numbers — though, ooh, boy, are we getting the numbers — but even stopping for two weeks seemed insane to me.  I know what stoppages of partial regions for weather or illness cost us, and stopping the whole country was insane.

But more than that, I wondered why we were doing this all in a rush and following a completely unproven strategy, rather than actually taking a few days and working through “Who is most at risk” and then protecting THOSE people.  I mean, if we were going to confine the healthy with the sick, shouldn’t we know which of the healthy were likely to become sick, first?

Then there was the way the whole “Social distancing” made no sense.  I mean they were treating every place, every group, every culture and subculture as exactly the same thing.  And hell, having lived in three states in the US and having friends in a lot of other places, I KNOW that cultures are very different.  And living “structure” is very different.  I might have mentioned this, but every time we fly East (mostly for the annual trek to Liberty Con) every time I hit my first Eastern airport (either Charlotte or Atlanta) I start humming under my breath “don’t stand so close to me.”  Going to New York City as we do once every three years or so, whether we plan to or not (Something tends to come up.) is even more so, with bells on.  And in Portugal I think my family must think I’ve gone nuts, as I spend most of my time there stepping back hurriedly from someone five inches from my face. Beyond that NYC has elevators and subways, and…. I don’t think most people who live there drive as such. So to anyone who knows the virus theory of disease, NYC would seem like it would be a hot spot, while the rest of the country not so much. I mean, in Colorado our normal way of standing and talking to friends on the street is three feet apart. Three feet is enough for ANY VIRUS to drop to the ground, absent it coming from a sudden sneeze. And in a sneeze, btw, the virus travels far more than six feet. So the entire six feet nonsense? Sounded just like that, nonsense. Possibly because it is.

Our first introduction to this, in Colorado, btw, was during our normal Saturday trip to the botanic gardens in Denver.  (We don’t always go there, but it’s there, the zoo or a museum, because memberships to those stretch our entertainment dollar, and I’m not much on movies anyway. I’d go to a drive in, supposing we still had a functioning one, if husband wanted to watch the movie, because I could crochet or read and intermittently “watch” as I do at home, but theaters are not convenient for that.) They’d changed from their normal admission, which involves someone getting a “ticket” from a machine in the atrium (member tickets are free) to you have to buy a ticket, because they only allowed fifty people  — FIFTY — over however many acres.  And they had a trailer with a few young women processing the ticket.  Which means, practically, instead of you waltzing right in and not doing more than handing the ticket to the volunteer, you stood in line to be allowed in.  If this doesn’t ring your alarms, then CERTAINLY the idea that fifty people being allowed into an open air space spreading over acres and acres, while the grocery stores were wide open will.

BUT only a couple of days later, the gardens closed, as did the zoo. There was no time to see if this new policy would work, just panic closing.

Because the despicable Jared Polis tried to make this as painful as possible for Coloradans he hates — since he knows it was vote by mail fraud that elected him, also closed parks I shouldn’t be surprised he’s keeping the now financially desperate zoo and gardens closed through their highest grossing season, and is making incoherent noises about opening them with only fifty people allowed, because apparently that wasn’t good enough before, but it’s totes great now. (Jared, you’ll look ridiculous in the Hugo Boss uniform. You’ve got fat as f*ck. Give up the dream.) He’ll probably be ecstatic if all our fun stuff goes bankrupt and has to close. It’s not good for the peons to have fun.

And before the usual idiots say I’m willing to sacrifice lives for my fun, the truth is we KNOW now the chances of your catching this out of doors, or in any situation you’re not shut in with someone infected and sneezing (the myth of asymptomatic spreaders appears to be just that, a myth.) WE KNOW THIS NOW.  The fact that he hasn’t reopened outdoor institution, and/or said we’ll re-open on x day means he’s not doing this for any “science” but to prolong the pain and stroke his…. sense of power to our misery.

I found out, btw, drive in theaters, at least in other states (and I suspect in CO if we have any left) were also closed. Which makes no sense at all. Because if you just tell people to tune in their radio to the transmission (which is what they did last time we went to one… 15? years ago) what transmission can there be?

But there were other incoherences. If the illness was so dangerous that parks and museums (the Denver art museum is MASSIVE. We normally don’t come within 5 feet of anyone, except when buying tickets. When we have a membership, we sail right in. And they could have gone to “buy tickets online”) had to be closed, how come grocery stores, Walmart and Home Depot weren’t?

Sure, they WERE and are essential businesses, and note I’m not saying they should be closed. BUT if the virus were really that dangerous, how could you keep them open, whether or not you made the isles one way and marked those stupid places to stand on the floor?  IF the pandemic were really as virulent and lethal as we were told, if it was so virulent that the entire botanic gardens COULD only have 50 people in it at a time (apparently it’s exactly like a party with 50 people.) IF weddings had to cancelled, funerals could not be held, parks had to be roped off with yellow caution tape, etc, etc, ad nauseum, shouldn’t the essential businesses have become delivery only?

ALSO if the virus was that dangerous, how come homeless weren’t taken somewhere and quarantined for their protection? How come they were congregating everywhere in massive groups in our deserted city and NOT DROPPING LIKE FLIES. (And yes, I have friends who work ERs. There was no increase in frequent fliers dying.)

Honestly, to me it looked like a combination of LARPing and an attempt to plan the economy and tell us what was important and NOT ALLOW WHAT POLITICIANS THOUGHT UNIMPORTANT TO EXIST.  This gross violation of our most basic constitutional rights seemed far MORE dangerous than any pandemic. Even one that killed 10% of the population. Because once you allow your rights to be stripped away, you’re not getting them back, as we have proof daily.

I have had idiots tell me that fat Jared’s orders are “the law” as if he were the emperor or something. (Don’t get fitted for a crown, either, Jared. It makes your face look rounder.) I can’t begin to tell you how incoherent that makes me. It’s not the law, and it is unconstitutional. And if I were that restaurant owner in Castle Rock, he’d be getting his fat ass sued PERSONALLY for violating my civil rights. (Fortunately in places other than my beloved — and occupied — state, courts and law officers are coming to their senses.)

So, now that we know that as Das Bild put it, this was possibly the greatest criminal insanity the West ever committed upon itself (And I would like to know how much of that is the culpability of our media, who is in Xi’s pay. And how much their utter abysmal ignorance of biology, which led them to propagate nonsense about the virus hanging midair, outdoors, for hours and not to laugh out loud at the idea that you were safer at home from a virus that, like all Coronas (yes, including the beer, you joker) dies in the sun.) NOW that we know that opening does not in fact bring a huge death toll, what are we doing?

Well, people — most sane, normal people — are sick to death of this, and there is a seething anger everywhere.  But the politicians are trying to hang on to just a little bit more glory, and telling us that restaurants, maybe — thank you Fat Jared — might open in May, but at a third capacity, and we have to be very careful…. Because, you know, the virus, which kills mostly New Yorkers (who live in much more crowded conditions than anyone else in this country) and nursing home patients, is suddenly going to hang out in street corners and kill elementary school kids. (If I see one more kiddie in a mask, I’m going to lose my sh*t. How uninformed are those parents?)  As anyone who has ever run a restaurant knows, that means he wants to really, really, really kill our restaurants, and the tourist trade that is 30% of Colorado’s economy.

And the Fat F*ck postures and preens and talks about how he’ll decide to re-open, maybe, perhaps, if only we behave like good boys and girls and “social distance” (i.e. pandemic LARP for his fantasies.) and wear masks.

Even though while there might be some benefit to wearing masks that are N-95 there is NO known medical benefit to a bandana tied over your face, or really any sane reason for a normal, non-sick person to wear a mask. No, they don’t wear them all the time in Asia. They wear them in public transport and close situations, while they THINK THEY MIGHT BE SICK. Not all the time, and not by order of government.  But, oh, you have to wear them, or Fat F*ck Jared won’t let you out. He’s not done trying out his Hugo Boss Uniform in front of the mirror and smirking for the cameras.

To put this in perspective, my favorite charity stores have opened — yay — since we are so massively wealthy (ah!) most of our clothes and furniture — unless it’s an item so rare that we need to have it made or buy it specialty — come from there.  So, let me say with authority that most of the clothes aren’t washed, and that I clean every piece of furniture we get there, because if they clean its not to my standards.

But they’re open. HOWEVER the botanic gardens, which are outdoors, and where people walk more than six feet apart? Totally need to be closed.

Oh, and church? Very dangerous (and you could say I’m having a crisis of faith over the leadership of my church having gone along with this complete insanity) and though some are re-opening now (not ours) they require masks and social distancing.  Look, we don’t go to a mega church, which MAYBE would be dangerous. The service we normally attend the only person within six feet of me is my husband. And honestly, as long as you make sure no one who is coughing and hacking distributes communion, it’s probably not a big deal even in mega churches.

So, what caused me to smell a rat and turn away from the bleating flock heading home to hide under their beds from the scary scary bad cold?

Inconsistencies, panic and outright crazy decisions. I’ve lived under regimes that ruled arbitrarily enough to know that if a regime won’t bother to even TRY to get your buy in, and if they react with no consistency or sense, doing things like curfews, and papers for traveling (it’s a bad precedent and you’ll regret it if Trump loses in November. His election is now more essential than ever, or the “climate crisis” will make the virus LARPing look like a walk in the parks we’ll only wish we had then) while crowding everyone into the five stores that are allowed to stay open in your area of town?

They’re totalitarians, drunk on power, and using their position for petty revenge — such as Fat Jared’s on Weld county — and however bad the crisis, what they’re doing is only making it worse.

So, in the future, and it might be much nearer than we hope, if this election is stolen thanks to insanity and vote by mail fraud pay attention. If what the media and the authorities are telling you makes no sense, the restrictions are arbitrary, and they seem to be enjoying their power way too much (ah, the smirk, Jared. You couldn’t get rid of it, if you tried) they’re lying to you. And you should resist with everything in your power.  And that goes double if you’re a policeman blocking the way to the capitol so we can’t give Fat F*ck a piece of our minds.  Befehl ist Befehl is not a defense, particularly not in America. Don’t find out too late.

So, now you know why I went the other way.  And you?
Well, I recommend massive resistance. It’s time for it. Olly olly oxen free.  It might not yet be too late.  These news gave me great joy, not because I EVER want to take a cruise in my life (water, people, aaaaaack) but because it means most people really aren’t buying this bullshit. They’re going along with the mask cosplay so as not to listen to the karens. But most common, normal human beings have had enough.

So if we open NOW we might yet recover, and quickly.

And Jared, a word to the wise — no, no, not avoid carbs, though that wouldn’t hurt you either — at this point, you might think prolonging the cosplay will allow you to pretend this really was veddy veddy serious.  Or perhaps you’re afraid that if you cave and just open up, your buddy Newsom won’t like you anymore. BUT the truth is, the more random shit you pile on now, while we look at states that opened back up, and states that never closed and fail to see bodies pile up?  The more we see your ass. The more we know you’re just on a power trip.  Judging from overheard conversations, I suspect the tipping point is very, very close.

How sure are you  that you have the fraud sewn up? I mean, you do know that Trump is not Pierre Delecto, to whom we reported massive fraud and who went ahead and conceded, anyway, right?  You do know the sewer at the top is getting the lid blown off it, and who knows what will come out?

Perhaps you want the people of this state to not OUTRIGHT hate you, Jared.  Great state Colorado, you know, full of the milk of human kindness.  We are, for instance, the state that invented and USED the self-hanging machine, to expedite executions.

Get out of the self-hanging machine, Jared. Step out of it. You still can. Say that due to studying the figures from other states, you see science tells us we can just open up.  And then stay off the cameras, and listen to a fellow-fatty: the camera makes you look even fatter. Skip briefings and hit the gym.  And can the crocodile tears. It just makes us giggle when you cry, and makes us want to make you cry again.

Open up the jail doors, Jared. Because if you don’t we’ll open them ourselves.

Military commanders and sane people (which you’re not one of. Either of those) know that you don’t give an order you know won’t be obeyed.

People are humoring you now — sort of — though the number wearing their masks UNDER their noses should tell you something. If you had two brain cells to rub together.

But it won’t last.  It will look better if you let go of your Hugo Boss dreams and just tell us to go back to normal. Then the economy of the state will take off, and we’ll even let you preen. Hell, we’ll try not to roll our eyes in front of you.

But destroy the state economy and you’re done.  One way or the other, Jared. You’re done. Even if we have to clean the voter rolls. Which would destroy your party in this state for a generation.

Turn off the cameras and let us go back to work. You can wear the uniform and the shiny boots in those bespoke clubs.  And we won’t even care.

But you make no sense. And your tyrannical nonsense is killing the state we love. And that — like your love for carbs — is enough of that.

 

 

 

 

 

The Precious Child

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As a civilization, the West has probably the lowest sustained childbearing rate of any civilization  in history.  Even Rome in the Empire had a low fertility rate only among the uppermost crust of society.  (And for much the same reason our fertility is so low — well, except for contraceptives. —  Rewards, advancement and the ability to ensure a comfortable life accompanied a low number of children, instead, as throughout most of history, the opposite.)

I’m discounting in this case China, where the rate of child bearing was imposed from above and Japan which suffers from “the defeated country’s disease” which tends to lead to adopting the culture of the victor at least as much as possible, and limiting the number of children.

I am speaking of a lot of individual decisions leading to a very low birthrate.  I will add only that part of it might be the fact we were propagandized with a fake “population crisis” for about the same time we’ve had the ability to artificially limit our number of offspring.  (And perhaps if nothing else, this latest debacle will teach us everything about how crisis are manufactured.  Well, either that or we’re not to last long.)

I do not know how long our society can subsist with this low a rate of childbearing, particularly as a large percentage of those born is born to people who have neither the skills nor the mindset to raise them as productive citizens, since they are themselves wards of the state.

While I disagree with a close friend on this bespeaking genetic disaster — mostly because I don’t believe genetics relates that directly to intelligence and behavior.  While there is undeniably a linkage between genetics and genius, or genetics and imbecility, I think there’s a lot of room in the muddled middle, and also that geniuses and morons are not those who drive civilization. The middle is. And the middle is mostly shaped and bent by culture. In this case we’re getting more of what we pay for — I agree it’s not optimal for maintaining civilization and that it does speak doom without a change in culture.

But more importantly, our lack of children is twisting the way we do raise the ones we have and — itself — bending the culture in some ways which will, by themselves, kill it.

Look, some of the fact we don’t consider our children disposable creates good changes.

Take my paternal grandfather. He had a series of issues (which he passed on larger or smaller degrees) which I now know from watching my younger son, means he almost certainly had sensory issues.  In elementary school, this leads to slowness in writing, an atrocious handwriting, and absent exercises to ameliorate it, issues reading. It makes sense too because grandad was the youngest of a bunch of brothers, so likely born when his parents were in their mid to late thirties. It is my guess that if they had kept going the next child would have been full blow autistic.

Well, my great grandparents who had sons in university looked at their youngest son and said “I guess he’s not smart enough. Let’s apprentice him to a carpenter.”

Now, from talking to grandad I can tell you he was probably as smart as younger son. And as he grew he overcame most of his issues (as did I, only girls overcome them earlier. And also failing at school was not an option, as my parents only had two children.) as most children with those issues do.  And he wasn’t unhappy as a carpenter.

However, faced with the same issues in younger son, who almost managed to fail sixth grade (though there was bullying and other issues involved) I looked at it and said, “Oh, H*ll no” or something like, and we pushed and prodded until I found a specialist who diagnosed his issues and who could create an apparatus to allow him to hear normally.  As for the writing and reading, I trained him until he could do it with no problems.

All of which are good things because, though we’d have been fine had he chosen to be a carpenter or a mechanic, I wanted him to be able to do what he wanted to.  A little awkwardness remains, particularly in group situations, which I know — and he knows — he has to work through, as it’s hard to follow a group conversation when all the sounds come at you at once.  (He has discarded the hearing filter, though they do make them for adults, but he would prefer not to wear it now….)

However there is another side to this.

I was reading a book on the regency (Our Tempestuous Day: A History of Regency England by Carolly Erickson)  and she was largely sensible and not particularly West-hating (though somewhat, but you have to look for it, which is good in the liberal arts.)

It was only when we reached the talk about how children were brought up that made me want to beat her on the head repeatedly, hoping some fossilized sense would fall into her brain.

Though the book was written in the eighties (or early nineties), it already showed signs of “all too precious child” and “let’s protect them into ninnies.”

Now, I’m not going to defend things like the practice of chimney sweeps of using tiny kids to clean chimneys until the kids ran away or died.  I’ll just say not only was it a cruel age, but that the absence of technology to do certain chores means that societies often resort to unpalatable means to accomplish them.  I have in the past said there is a correlation between lack of industrialization and slavery, and I stand by it. In the same way a society that has no other means of cleaning the only source of heat they have — and one which can cause great fires if not cleaned — does lead to a lot of what a more comfortable society will call atrocities.

As for small children working in the mills, I will only say that those same children were employed in farms in worse ways.

I’ll also say that we know from diaries of people in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries  and before that very small children were capable of working in ways we can’t imagine even our pre-teens being.

For instance six year olds were often entrusted with pasturing the family’s flocks or looking after livestock.

Even in intellectual attainment children far surpassed our children.  And this with worse nutrition and health care.

And this is where the book made me want to beat the author, who thought it was cruel and horrible that upperclass children were taught intellectual attainments “beyond their years” by being taught Greek, Latin and made to memorize a lot of things so they had the equivalent of a college education by the time of ten or twelve.

Look, while I did not get taught Greek and Latin, I grew up in a traditional society where I was made to memorize very long poems and learn pretty much everything they thought an adult should know by 10 (This because most people didn’t go past fourth grade.)  And I can tell you not only didn’t it destroy me, but there is now reason to believe that memorizing things in childhood trains your memory, the same as running around trains your muscles.  While the poetry memorized in childhood might be pointless, it trains you to learn the records and craft of your occupation later on.

And this, I think, is the worst part of our almost-childless society.

You see, if you learn enough history, you eventually learn about some set of royals that had only one, late conceived child.  That child, both as a child and as an adult is largely useless. Often it all comes to a bad end because of him.

And that’s the issue.  We’ve got so few children that each of them is “the all too precious child.” I.e. the only one on whom all hopes and dreams of the adults around him/her rest.

This leads us to mollycoddle the poor child and at the same time drive him/her insane by expecting only great things.  Look no further, either for the watering down of our education the A for existing, or the helicopter parents.  Or for that matter for the proliferation of useless degrees, so that the all too precious child can earn one, no matter how unsuited he or she is to academic learning.

Also look no further for the origin of the stories we hear about twenty somethings who constantly need “mental health days” and can’t be criticized.

We’re raising a generation of “end of royal line” kids.  And while some escape (my own, I think) it takes great effort both on the part of the parents, and the part of the kid, who needs to be a stubborn cuss (thank heavens) to break away from such a pattern.

Worse yet, the fact that each of us has one of two children on whom the hopes of all generations still living (and we have very long lives these days) rest, has made us a civilization of wusses.

I’ve said before that the reason that Europe hasn’t gone jackboots (an arguably good thing, perhaps) yet is that they are too old.  But it’s not just that. It’s that they don’t want to risk the dwindling number of children and grandchildren each family has.

When you have seven children, you can contemplate losing one or two to war, or some sort of difficult service with equanimity.  You’ll still hurt, of course — as who doesn’t — but it is not a killing blow to the parent who has lost his only chance at progeny outliving him.

To risk losing your only child, or one of your two children is something quite different.

Every time I see a tiny kid in a mask (which not only isn’t needed as healthy people under 20 don’t die of Winnie the Flu, but also will have the deleterious effect of cutting airflow) I’m reminded of to what extent our current panic was instigated by the media highlighting the very few deaths of under-20s of this illness — all of which are either of very ill under-20s OR even outright lies, as in children who died of abuse but who tested positive being said to die of Chinese lung rot — and how that drove people to kill the economy, and keeps them terrified.

They are holding us hostage over the fear of losing our children and young people. A very powerful fear because we have so few of them.

It is the same fear that has halted — more or less — manned space exploration, as no one is willing to risk human life, even in a very needed endeavor.  Safety First might be a great motto for kindergarten. It is not a great motto for a space program.

In the same way, young humans are born with the need to risk themselves, to try new things, to make an effort at going beyond the safe confines. It is part of who we are and what drives us as a species.

I think it is that drive being continually thwarted that creates a lot of the oikophobia amid our young.  If the most dangerous thing they can do is “activism” and glorifying cultures they know nothing about, as well as a lot of sexual and psychological nonsense, well, that’s what they’ll do.

It is easy to say “Have three children. Have four” and that is indeed the cure for what hails us as a society. I bet if we did that, it would in fact cure a lot of our porblems, including, maybe, some we’re not aware of having.

But pulling up out of the nose dive is more than “just pull back on the controls and the plane will right itself.”

In fact, because we have so few children and protect them so much, it takes longer to attain maturity, which means they marry later, which in turn, in the inescapable logic of biology, means they’ll have fewer children.

Sure, our reproductive technology gets better every year, and maybe we’ll get lucky.

But the solution is not going to be instant or easy.

Teach your children well.  And teach them we need more children.  Not only is the earth not overpopulated, but we’ll never get to space this way.

Sure. If this goes on some other culture will populate the Earth and take over, but it might be one that will never reach for space, or minimize human misery as much as we have.

Be not afraid. And try to teach your children as if they weren’t the only and all too precious child.

And if anyone tries to tell you that they can’t learn that much before ten or that teaching them is cruel, beat the person with an umbrella.
What the children of the past could learn is not a measure of cruelty. It’s a measure of how much we’ve infantilized our own offspring.

Evolution doesn’t work that fast.  What the nineteenth century was capable of, we are also.

We just need to stop babying ourselves, and our babies.

 

 

 

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo

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Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  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. I ALSO WISH TO REMIND OUR READERS THAT IF THEY WANT TO TIP THE BLOGGER WITHOUT SPENDING EXTRA MONEY, CLICKING TO AMAZON THROUGH ONE OF THE BOOK LINKS ON THE RIGHT, WILL GIVE US SOME AMOUNT OF MONEY FOR PURCHASES MADE IN THE NEXT 24HOURS, OR UNTIL YOU CLICK ANOTHER ASSOCIATE’S LINK. PLEASE CONSIDER CLICKING THROUGH ONE OF THOSE LINKS BEFORE SEARCHING FOR THAT SHED, BIG SCREEN TV, GAMING COMPUTER OR CONSERVATORY YOU WISH TO BUY. That helps defray my time cost of about 2 hours a day on the blog, time probably better spent on fiction. ;)*

FROM DAVE FREER:  The Shaman of Karres (Witches of Karres Book 4)

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Captain Pausert just can’t catch a break!

First, he became the mortal enemy of his fiancée, his home planet, the Empire—and even the Worm World, the darkest threat to mankind in all of space. All because he helped rescue three slave children from their masters. Of course, these three young women were the universally feared Witches of Karres—but how was he to know that?!

And after he defeated the Worm World (with the help of the witches, of course), the Empress herself had sent him on a secret mission to stop a nanite plague that was raging across the galaxy. But an enemy had somehow convinced the Imperial Fleet that he was actually a wanted criminal, so after a battle leaving his ship in urgent need of repairs, Pausert and the witches of Karres joined an interstellar traveling circus in order to save the galaxy.

Now Pausert and the witches of Karres roam the spaceways again, this time dealing with a slaver-culture that somehow makes slaves happy to be in servitude, and a quest for a long-lost alien pet, during which the youngest witch, The Leewit, begins to come to her full powers as a healer—and of course generates chaos in her wake.

For Pausert, it’s all in a day’s work. But would it be too much to ask for a vacation?

FROM Z. M. RENICK:  Red Lights on Silver Mountain Road (The Seelie Court Book 1)

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Emma Greer became a deputy in order to help people, so when a friend suspects that his brother’s fatal crash on Silver Mountain Road was no accident, she’s eager to come to his aid. Trouble is, Emma doesn’t believe that the accident was arranged or even that it would be humanly possible for it to have been so. But she soon learns that what’s humanly possible is only the beginning of what can happen on Silver Mountain Road. Creatures unlike any Emma has ever imagined lurk along its shoulders, and an ancient evil has discovered a new way of committing murder. Emma must find a way to vanquish that evil, or she might become its next victim.

FROM MARY CATELLI:  Over the Sea, To Me.

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A novelette retelling an old ballad.

A castle of marvels, by the sea — full of goblins and sprites. Many young knights come in search of adventures, and leave in search of something less adventurous.

A knight brave enough to face it could even woo the Lady Isobel there, but when Sir Beichan and she catch the attention of her father, the castle has horrors as well as wonders, enough to hold him prisoner. Winning freedom may only separate them, unless its marvels can be used to unite them, over the sea.

EDITED BY DOUG IRVIN:  Space Force: Building The Legacy.

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Tenere Altum. Hold The High Ground.

These are the stories of the first 100 years of the United States Space Force created by then U.S. President Donald J. Trump. Within this new anthology of military sci-fi short stories you will find stories of service and incredible sacrifice. Stories of the one sacrificing a few to save the many, and of the one sacrificing himself for all.

But mostly these are tales of the men and women to come, who will patrol the harsh, cold blackness of space. Those that willingly place themselves in harm’s way to protect a solitary blue marble and all that call it home.

Tenere Altum!

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: Sand