At The End of Time

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Image by Stefan Keller from Pixabay

At the end of time, he found it, growing out of the parched Earth, and stopped to look at it.

Its data banks said it was “beautiful” and also “a rose.” But the little robot didn’t know what beautiful or rose meant. He just knew the words in his data banks.  And he knew it had been a long time since those terms had been activated.

For far too long, he’d been roaming the parched landscape with nothing breaking the monotony of the grey skies above and the grey dirt below.

Now there was a rose. And it was blue.  His data banks said blue roses didn’t exist. Or at least they didn’t exist in the place called Earth.

But Earth was not a planet of grey dirt, craked under foot, and unending grey skies above.  The little robot in fact, realized that he didn’t know what Earth was or where it was. Words like emissary and probe and slow boat spaceship came to mind, but he didn’t know how they applied anymore.

He’d been activated long ago, and then there was grey sky and grey dirt.

He sat down.

It appeared, though it was not a certain thing, and the little robot wasn’t set to evaluate uncertainty — or was he? He couldn’t remember anymore. And was he supposed to be thinking of himself as he? Or simply registering inputs? — that the rose turned slightly.

Maybe just a movement of reply to the light reflection in his carapace. It probably meant nothing, which made him sad.  But he wasn’t supposed to be sad, was he?

From his memory banks came a conversation he’d been present at and recorded, back when he didn’t think of himself as “he” or had been aware there was a choice to record or not to record.

“With all the AI systems we’re putting into this, he might become sentient, you know?”

“I don’t believe in sentient machines. You’ve been reading Heinlein again.”

“You’re not thinking. it has so many systems, it could well wake up. Become sentient. Develop an idea of who and what he is.”

“And what? Betray Earth? Fall in love with an alien? It’s a probe, Carl, nothing more.”

Was he a probe? Nothing more? What was sentient? Or Heinlein.

He didn’t know. He knew he was lonely. And even if it was reflex, the rose had…. moved. Towards him.

He reached clumsy fingers and touched the edge of the blue petal.

“Tell me a story,” he said.

Be For Real

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Sometime ago, my sons, one at a time and in different conversations, told me the thing their generation prizes the most is being “real.” However neither of them could explain to me what that meant, precisely.

I think to an extent I know.  Take this blog for instance (okay, don’t take it, how would I wake up without writing 2k words every morning? BUT feel free to encourage my misdeeds by throwing a few virtual coins at that link on the right.)

I started it at the behest of fourth agent.  You see, I didn’t have the money to self-finance book tours. I hadn’t gone to college with anyone useful. I had neither the money, the time nor the emotional resources to do the job publishers no longer did (in fact, my publishers were more or less aggressively anti-doing-it; i.e. not only not publicizing the books but through slipped publication dates, lousy covers, and just general weirdness making it hard for even devoted fans to find my books. Even if I knew — not often — the books were out and told them so.) So she advised a low cost — and low return — alternative: this blog.

The problem is of course for a blog to become popular is an uphill battle.  It started with the fact that I was attempting this when everyone said the age of the blog was past. If I’d had a time machine I’d have started the blog in 1998, of course. But as usual I find myself without these necessary accouterments. It continued with a friend’s insistence that if the blog was ever going to make it, I needed to blog every day.

The only “model” for blogging every day I could find was using it instead of “pages in the morning.”  I have a friend who swears by this.  He rolls out of bed, sans coffee, and writes however many pages he can, long hand. These are not meant to ever be seen by anyone, and you can them whatever.

I tried this for a brief time in the nineties, when I was more blocked than a constipated armadillo and I found out that my subconscious is either a whiny 8 year old — and I don’t care if no one else will ever see it, I don’t want to listen to it. I’ve raised the boys. I’m not willing to endure my own inner brat — or a machine for generating stories. After a while the “pages in the morning” book filled with ideas, plots, brief character sketches.  And then I gave up and just wrote.

But if I were going to do a blog, I could do it on the principle of “pages in the morning.” I.e. take whatever is biting me early in the day and splay it here.

Now, needless to say — you’re not children — this is not my real me, as such. It’s impossible to put the real you on display (though my ADD is on full pinned-on glory right now, isn’t it?) on such a thing as a blog.  One of the things you don’t often get is my depression or fatalism.  That’s not so much an attempt to hide it from you, as to hide it from myself. I’ve found that if I talk about my fears or my sense of doom it only feeds the black dog. So often my ah…. sunny optimism is an attempt to cajole myself out of a bad spot. Oh, it’s me, too. But it’s the strategies I’ve learned to use to cope with the other side of me.

Also I don’t need to tell you everything I have to do today (heck, I’d prefer not to tell ME but nobody asked me) from laundry to some mending, to moving aside the big pile of branches so son’s moving truck can park in the driveway.  (The stone moving project is temporarily in abeyance.) Or that I’m heartened that restaurants are opening, but divided as to whether I can support them, because of the mask requirement.  We can talk about that at another time, but to strap onto my face a symbol of compliance with a ridiculous and useless order is akin to telling a lie because I’ve been ordered to, and I think that’s what starts the corruption of societies into totalitarianism. On the other hand, the order doesn’t come from restaurants, and they need the money. On yet the other hand, compelled speech and not letting people manage their own risk are steps on the road to hell.

Anyway, although because I write this pre-adderal and pre-coffee, you often get the full blown ADD dancing naked, you don’t need to know every stray thought that crosses my mind.

HOWEVER the “curated me” I first tried on the blog was way more effort than it was worth.

Because I couldn’t talk about any of the things that actually interested me — politics, economics, philosophical credo, or whatever I’d been reading and how it affected me — since I was deep in the political closet, I (instead) had to talk only of writing, my stories, my pets or those experiences I knew to be “acceptable” to the establishment.

Now, those are also me, but it’s almost impossible to do in an hour or so in the morning. I had to think about it, shape it, etc. and sometimes just couldn’t think of anything to say (this will be the general content of my writer’s page, but I only INTEND to do that once a week or so, as it will replicate the contents of my newsletter.  Which speaking of, I need volunteers to test sometime this week.)

My blog limped along for 2 or 3 years, with fifty reader (some of you have been here since then, I know) and I often forgot to post.

I finally lost my mind (there were several circumstances) and decided to come out politically, knowing full well it would eventually cost me my career. (Even the one house that shouldn’t care, does, when you’re a woman and a minority, because the rest of the establishment makes sure they care. I.e. you’re double d*mned if you walk off the plantation the left has built for entire categories of people. It’s hard to defeat a claim that you’re both stupid and insane, and if you don’t think such a claim affects distribution…  well!)

Anyway, that is when the blog started taking off.  Mind you, I still don’t think it does much of anything good for my fiction sales. But by the time I had ascertained that, this blog was a community I thought of as friends and family, and in a way necessary to my mental health.

Still, the blog took off when it was “my real me” and my real interests and ideas.

So to an extent I understood  what the kids meant.  To another extent, the very fact they were obsessed with “being real” tells you a lot about our society.

Let me put it this way, the last age to become obsessed with being real was pre-revolutionary France.

Oh, the enlightenment had a lot of injunctions about not being hypocritical or doing “natural” things. But in France they became utterly obsessed with it.

This was at a time when manners were such a complicated and bizarre dance that you had to learn them from an early age to pass in polite society; when the public self and the private self might be completely different people; and when the public displays had got so out of hand it wasn’t odd for women to wear battle ships among their — fake — locks.

So they craved “real.”

In the same way, our young crave “real” because, though in most circles the display is not physical (except for masks) they know they don’t live in a “real” world.

Those who aren’t stupid might never admit it, but they realized in high school that the teachers who insisted you “question authority” never meant THEIR authority. They realized early on that the same adults who told them to let it all hang out were very careful to only bleat the same opinions as the herd. They realized at some level the party that claims to care for the destitute is filled with millionaires. And they know how much virtue signaling hides florid vice.  So they crave “real”.

I suspect this is part of the left’s obsession with hypocrisy.  They KNOW they’re hypocrites. So they need to prove other people are as well, in order to sleep at night. And they descend to considering others hypocrites in relation not to what others believe or do, but to what the left believes they SHOULD believe or do. Hence why all our leftist friends think memes with “socialist Jesus” are a gotcha, based on their imperfect understanding of scriptures and of non-leftists as well.

The obsession with being “real” and “not lying” is such that it leads to ridiculous book plots in which it is a lie if you don’t fully disclose all your thoughts and feelings to complete strangers.

This approaches the more bizarre Rousseaunian reaches of the Enlightenment in which if a woman were raped, the rapist was now considered her “natural husband” and she could take no other.  It’s not a particularly healthy, or sane attitude, and can only be understood as a reaction to all the lies they are supposed to repeat while knowing they are lies.

It’s not healthy or sane, because not letting it all hang out allows humans to live together without bashing each other over the head with a big rock.  When I was in the political closet — and my leftist colleagues weren’t and were vocal, but were also marginally saner than they are now — having to keep quiet about politics (it was only when that stopped being allowed and vocal endorsement required that the wheels came off) — meant that I could get to know these people as people, outside their politics. And you know, most of them are not bad people. They have the politics they have partly despite themselves, and often by not telling themselves the truth about the ultimate consequences of such things as believing all cultures are “equally valid.”

Manners, interaction and politeness are good for society. It allows to see the others as humans, no matter how much you disagree.

On the other hand, the left couldn’t let well enough alone. Partly because they know they’re double-thinking and signaling things that are either impossible or impossible for them, and then ignoring the result of what they endorse, they require — each time louder — vocal endorsement of their delusions from everyone.

The problem is that the more they require this vocal endorsement to be able to work, live or do business in the world, the more they know this is compelled speech, and thereby a “lie” and the more they crave authenticity, without realizing that you can’t both compel authenticity and demand that people agree with you.

Look, even if it were correct that socialism had never really been tried, and is the best way for humans to live, even if men and women were exactly the same outside the obvious, even if “social justice” (however the left defines it) were the highest calling of mankind, there will be humans who dissent. There are always humans who dissent. Look at the humans who believe the Earth is flat, or people who think dinosaurs orbit the Earth in a spaceship.

And the really weird thing is that we know, through history, sometimes the weirdest dissent opinions turn out to be right. (Well, not things like flat Earth. NASA assures me they checked. So did the Greeks.) Or at least turn out to be possible.

So, when you make everyone not only shut up (which is bad enough) but vocally endorse the consent, you know it’s not “real” and you feel discomfited.

That feeling that things aren’t “real” and that things aren’t “right” are alarms ringing in the back of your mind about how dangerous the situation is becoming.

Remember how pre-revolutionary France ended.

Demanding that people endorse the opinions you WANT to be real louder and louder and louder is only going to make the alarms ring louder.

As it should.

The real world is full of discord, disagreement, and there’s not such thing as “proven” social anything, except for the immutable nature of humanity.  Trying to change that is not “real” but as crazy as demanding the weather obey your commands.  Humans can self-control and self-moderate (though it takes training) but not fundamentally change their nature as social apes who think.

You want “real” you have to tear down “Safe spaces” and stop considering speech as aggression.  Take the battle ship off your head. Dismantle all the locks you pinned on.

What’s underneath might just be a brain that can think.

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My word. Misplace mine own head next. I forgot to tell you that I put out an Austen Fanfic under Alyx Silver (my nom the fanfic.) It’s called What if He Were to Pick Me?and I want to emphasize I was neither drunk nor on drugs when I wrote it.  Also, it was the first fanfic I wrote, and it was a hobby, when actual publication seemed an impossible thing.

Also although I had been writing for attempted publication for YEARS, this was my first fanfic. I cleaned it up a lot, but it’s still rough around the edges.  ALSO the line about unruly pillows got me kicked out a fanfic site, back in the day, for being too racy (!). Anyway, if you follow that link you can buy it (It’s 2.99) or read it with Kindle Unlimited.  And hopefully you enjoy it, if nothing else as a sort of juvenalia.

 

The Political Writer

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I’m tired, or perhaps lazy, and actually have paying work to do (of the fiction kind.)  I promise a post tomorrow, but for today, I will echo my post at Mad Genius Club. Comment here or there, or both, as you please.

There is a trope going around establishment science fiction where they prove again and again that we’re wrong when we say that “science fiction shouldn’t be political.”

They prove it conclusively, to their satisfaction, by demonstrating that science fiction has always been political, and therefore we’re not only wrong, we’re ignorant of the history of the field.  Then they take a victory lap to the acclaim of their sycophants.

There’s only one thing wrong with that: we NEVER said that.

Oh, I’m sure someone said that. There are douche canoes that say just about anything. But no one with any following. And no one who has read a lot of science fiction.

Yes, a lot of science fiction is inherently political. This is so because we build worlds with what we know (or think we know) and who we are. And because humans are political animals, stories are often political.

The second novel I read in science fiction was A Canticle For Leibowitz. (The first might not have been science fiction. (Well, the first I remember reading — Have Space Suit, Will Travel — my brother assures me wasn’t available in Portuguese until three years later. Though why that should matter when I read most SF/F in pirated editions, not knowing they were pirated, I don’t know.) It was Out of Their Minds by Clifford Simak. ) Anyone thinking that Canticle has nothing to do with nuclear politics/disarmament or even with the role of the Catholic church in preserving civilization, let alone with the Catholic church’s ideas on sex (or what the author perceived them as being) is someone who is incapable of reading subtext. And I mean, more incapable of reading subtext than an 11 year old girl.

In the same way, I have read all of Heinlein, going way back, and yeah, I saw the not so subtle shilling for a world government (because that would totes stop wars.) I read Le Guin, the good the bad and the “I’m tearing my hair out because this is so bloody stupid.” We’ll go into that later, but for now, suffice to say that even her most “political screed” like book still had a story, and still kept you reading.  Afterwards you might sit there going “Oh, dear Lord” and you might hesitate to buy the next one, but you still read it.

Yesterday, in fact, in a small facebook group consisting of my online family, we were discussing The Left Hand of Darkness, which I have problems with — biology and behavior in relation to biology and the fact that on re-read a few years ago what I had though was a masterful narration read “too seventies for words” kind of like a macrame plant hanger in written form. (A lot of other authors of the time have this issue, in fact, going back to the sixties, and stretching to the early 80s. Some Heinleins suffer from this too. Well, two of them. But not to that extent. In Heinlein’s case it’s just the …. lingo? but in LHOD it’s also the “folk” narrative construction. I UNDERSTAND this is my own, personal problem, okay? I came of age in the seventies, and have been trying to get away from anything that reminds me of those years since.)

Anyway, in relation to THAT, we were talking about how many books written by women in that time period seem to be about women outsourcing/not doing house-care and child-care in an ideal society (or in the case of TLHOD and others, childcare being communal.)

And we were talking about how we did that, more or less, by outsourcing child care and just not doing housework, but we’ve learned that’s a) less than optimal (particularly for the children) and b) doesn’t work that way.

However none of this detracts in any way from competent stories told that assume these things.  At most I shrug, as I do at Heinlein having space colonies in the seventies, and go “it didn’t turn out that way.”

BUT provided that the characters are people, and the plot works, I still read, re-read and enjoy those novels.

Not because they’re political, but because politics don’t matter to the worth of a book.

If the book is COMPETENTLY written and not a screed with a thin veneer of fiction,  I still read, re-read and enjoy the book. Even if the author writing the book had diametrically opposite views to my own and therefore their projected future is insane, by my views.  I will roll my eyes if they take time away from the story for a mini-rant, or skim over that part and go back to where the story resumes, like a normal human being, instead of getting hung up on it.

In fact, there’s stories — and no, I’m not going to name names, duh — whose politics I completely agree with, but which are so infused with politics that they fall into the realm of “just so stories” and therefore boring. I know who the winners and losers will be from page one, because the author — who is on my side politically — made that ABUNDANTLY clear. I know every turn. I roll my eyes at the rants in the middle of the story, and somewhere along the line I shrug and go watch paint dry or check on the progress of sidewalk cracks. OR SOMETHING.

And that’s what we’ve been saying:

We assume stories will have politics in them. Even utterly non-political stories like my Shifter series reflect my politics in that I think it’s better, say, to work in a diner than to be homeless or on welfare. That’s my politics, or my principles, from which my politics evolved. “Do for yourself and look after those who can’t.”  And they WILL come through.

Of course science fiction and fantasy have more politics in them than the usual genre, because, well, you’re making up entire worlds, which means more scope to get political in.

BUT FICTION ISN’T POLITICS.  Or it shouldn’t be.  As someone said “if you want to send a message use Western Union.”

I’d soften that to be “if you want to send a message and can’t amuse someone who disagrees with you while doing so, use Western Union.”  Because I’ve read message fic I disagreed with but which entertained me VASTLY.  Hell, I disagree with the message in some of my own fiction (no, you don’t get to know which. D*mn it, I need to finish entering edits and re-print those) partly because behind the overt message which I put in to please the publisher there’s a lot of sneaky questions designed to make you THINK about that overt message.

In other words: stop the mentally-challenged victory lap. That straw man is dead. We never said that science fiction (or any other writing) shouldn’t be political.  We said it shouldn’t be judged on the “correctness” of the politics, and that it shouldn’t be considered great simply because it is politically correct or repeats the things the establishment — while cos-playing anti-establishment — wants it to.

NO ONE requires that you hide your politics, or even that the point of your story (particularly short stories, which usually have OBVIOUS points) not be political.  No one even asks that.  You’re human. What you are and what you believe will come through your art, or it’s not worth spit.

What readers require is that you make it entertaining. That your characters come alive, that real things happen to them, that the action and goal make sense at some level. At least enough to keep us immersed while we’re reading. Even if in the end you make all your male magicians magical castrati. It has to pull you along while you’re reading.  Afterwards you can go “Oh, h*ll, that was stupid. I’ll pretend that book never was part of the series. Only the trilogy exists.”  But while you’re reading it, it works.

Make it a good and competent story, and we will read it. We might even love it. (I love at least one novel where I disagree with all of the open message, including “the” and “a”.)

Make it a message that screams through the story and tries to make us love it BECAUSE of the message and if we don’t it’s because we’re “ists” not to mention evil, and we’ll turn away in droves. Your ability to compel sales was always limited and is now over. And you can’t compel fandom.

To appropriate one of my favorite Heinlein quotes, and change it for the purpose: a purported artist who has only explicit political message in his/her work and relies only on explicit and approved politics for his/her academic job, for his/her accolades and for his/her livelihood is a whore. An incompetent one.

 

For This Our Country Committed Suicide

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Can we leave the liberals in their bunkers, cyanide at the ready, while the rest of us resume life?  Because this is insane:

Wuhan Virus Watch: CDC Says Coronavirus Infection Fatality Rate Could be as Low as 0.26%

Of course, most of them are AMERICAN journalists and bought-and-paid for politicians:

Top Chinese Diplomats Call for ‘Wolf Warrior’ Army to Push Diplomatic Agenda Abroad

 

Nah, brah.  I speak fluent leftist, having lived among them so long. This can be translated as “We plan to steal the election and want to preemptively make it impossible for Trump to push back” just like they ran with the lie that Trump had called the virus an hoax so that Trump…. couldn’t call the panic over the virus an hoax:  NY Times Pushes Conspiracy Theory About Trump Refusing to Accept 2020 Outcome

Also, what happens when some people get bored: Go here for your Winnie The Flu (Winnie the Flu, Winnie the Flu, creepy little virus hyped up into the plague. Winnie the Flu, Winnie the Flu…..)  select a pie.Feel free to do image captures and memes. One of the things we have to get used to as non-leftists is doing the information (and advertising) campaigns the so called leaders won’t do.

And now I’m going to drink a vat of caffeine and do some work.  Allergies are better than last week (rain helped) but they take a while to clear.

Nothing to Live or Die for

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What if you gave your life for the wrong cause? Pardon me, I mean, as the left was so fond of asking in the oughts, a question that stopped completely and suddenly as soon as Obama was elected “What if you were the last to die for a mistake?”

What indeed?  What do you think that would make, you the lone ranger?

With 2020 — ah! — vision, looking back, it’s possible to question the rationale of every single war.

Sure, Memorial day was established to commemorate the civil war dead. And because it was a civil war, at least half of them were fighting for the wrong cause, right?  Because I don’t want to get you people arguing that particular war — there is no win in that either — let’s stipulate that slavery, like rape and murder, is a horror that humanity is prone to. And that here it took a war to get rid of it.  That it led to other things, including a more powerful federal government is arguably a bad thing — as we have proof daily.  — In fact, while the civil war happened because of the inherent contradiction between “all men were created equal” and allowing some states to keep slaves, it could be said a lot of our present strife is the working out of the big contradiction between “Let us die to make men free” and “we’ll have a federal government large enough to give you everything you need and take away all your natural rights in the process.”

It has become chic in the circles of people whose entire education is designed to make them avoid thinking to tear down confederate war memorials, because in their heads these people automatically stand for slavery and white supremacy.  But that was not why most — note I said MOST, we’re humans, there’s always idiots — had monuments put up to them or were celebrated.  In fact, most of the monuments were erected to people’s OTHER achievements in life, other qualities.  Because after the war a lot of them integrated just fine in post-slavery society, and set about doing sometimes admirable things: careers in law or in philanthropy and even the occasional blinkered career in local politics.

And a lot of the monuments were for the person. For the man himself.  “But, you say, if the man fought to keep slavery, isn’t he an awful human being?”

That’s not how war works. Most of the men fighting were probably not fighting to keep slavery going as such. They were fighting because humans are killer apes, and once the balloon went up the North was going to sweep the South (if no one defended the South) which meant…

Which meant that they wouldn’t stop and ask every man on the street (much less every woman) if they were slave owners, or, more importantly, if they agreed with slavery.  (There is enough confusion in the biography of our Southern Founding Fathers to know that owning slaves was no covalent to supporting the institution of slavery.)  They were going to put the land to fire and sword, everyone.

And there was the other side of it.  The one that one is amused the left never brings up, since one assumes in the light of Marx (….  Except that they’re lousy Marxists. They’re people who don’t even know they’re Marxists, except for revering that one dead white male, while not sure why they do. They’re training in not thinking is very thorough.) they’d ask themselves if the North was completely against slavery as such. Because, you know, immigrants coming in, barefoot and destitute (not to mention illiterate) from the shores of Europe were offered citizenship to joint he Northern forces.  Some historians (not sure how reputable, but they were quoted in my history books in college, so probably not very) claim that this gave the North the advantage needed to win the war.

Whether there’s any merit in the claim, do you think the South didn’t hear it? Do you think they didn’t hear of the plight of those factory workers? And how much worse it was than slavery, because those using their labor didn’t feel obligated to look after them?

And sure, the South were racist. Actually both sides were racist. Actually pretty much the whole world was racist until the shocks of WWII worked themselves through the culture.  And significant portions of the US — not normally those with pale skin, oddly — are still racist. As is the rest of the world by and large. You haven’t met racism unless you go to China as a round eyes.

Racism, like murder and rape, might well be baked into the human race. After all, we now have evidence many different subspecies of our genus “grew up” together. Getting captured by the wrong band could easily mean that you went from being a cherished child or wife, to being a midnight snack.  Heck, even within the same subspecies.

So babies are born with a fear of stranger danger, and growing up learn the “right way to do things” — i.e. the way we do it, not like those barbarian over that ridge, who tie their loincloths all wrong — which means they could, in times when hostile bands lived cheek by jowl, get “stranger danger” warnings and run before the other band got close enough to spit roast them.

“But Sarah,” you say. “Racism is still wrong. Slavery is still wrong. I can’t understand why you’re defending them.”

Oh. You must be one of those skim till offended precious darlings, or one of the bots who claims to have the highest IQ ever.  Brush up on your English. A dictionary might help. Also re-read what I wrote. Slowly. Ask someone with two more IQ points than you to explain the big words.

I AM NOT DEFENDING EITHER OF THOSE.  Just as I’m not defending murder, rape or war.

What I’m saying is that if you’re picking sides in a war in the past, based on having been told a side was “racist” you’re an idiot.  It’s like picking sides over whether one was sexist or homophobic.  By our definitions? all of them were.  And the sides that “tolerated” homosexuality or gave women rights often put twists in both of those that would make you sick to your stomach, such as the implicit acceptance of forced pedophilia, or making women live as men whether they wanted to or not. (Neither of those in the US.)

In the same way while slavery was objectively a horrible thing, and one side was fighting to end it, it doesn’t mean every soldier from the North fought to end it, or that every soldier from the South fought to defend it.

Humans go to war for a complex number of reasons. And again, once the shooting starts, you pick sides for a lot of reasons, most of them not philosophical or high flown. Most of them boil down to “I’m defending my mother/sister/wife/brother/land.” Because that’s why killer apes fight, for the band.

Because here’s the thing, buckos: if we start questioning who was right in what war, it’s not going to end the way people think.  Because if we start examining everything now, with our vision of how things turned out? No war was just, ever.

Take WWI. I learned about it as The War Of The Two Defeated.  The Portuguese fought on the side of the allies.  Barefoot, starving and often with no guns, because the revolution against the king that happened before that was led by anarchists of the leftist variety, which means their plant for paradise started with “First, bankrupt the country.”  (Some things never change.)

Until I was in my teens (I think. Or early twenties) a much feted veteran of the first world war lived nearby.  He was feted despite the fact that, had he been French, he’d have been shot. You see, “veteran” is an exaggeration.  Faced with trench warfare while barefoot, poorly clad, in a climate colder than he’d grown up with, with no gun and no training, he stole the bicycle of a messenger before the Germans attacked, and rode it as far as it went then walked the rest of the way home.  Eminently sensible, for an individual, in a situation where his death wouldn’t even slow the enemy.

But–

But then what does that do to the memory of the  Americans who died at the battle of the Lys, fighting on foreign soil in a war they could have avoided altogether?

Nothing. It doesn’t even do anything to or for their memory if you know a lot of them were propagandized into fighting, or coerced into going to war by societal pressure. Or even that they had a German name, were known to be of German ancestry and HAD to go fight the Germans or their families wouldn’t be safe in small town USA. (Seriously, read the primary sources of the period.)

It doesn’t diminish their memory one single jot. They still fought and died and gave the final measure for their loved ones and their land.  Even if they got there by a roundabout way.  And even if we know their sacrifice was only the first step in the long war of the twentieth century which would end with Germany buying its way to power (and more or less being int he process of choking on it) they couldn’t get through force.

“What if you were the last one to die for a mistake?”

What of it? Also, please clarify semantic content: what do you define as a mistake? And are you sure that banner you’re carrying to signal your virtue won’t make future generations recoil? Because I almost guarantee most of them will.

So, you say, if all wars are wrong, shouldn’t we abolish war?

What a beautiful thought.  Perhaps Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny can negotiate this permanent unbroken peace. Shall we ask them?

In the history of humans there are many false steps, and many — MANY — good people died on both sides of wars that perhaps never needed to be fought.

So, war, what is it good for?

Well…. We don’t know, see? We are like flies trapped in a bead of amber. Our life is much shorter than that which our minds can compass, backward and forward into the future. We don’t KNOW. We can look back and sneer at the long European war of the twentieth century, and also America even being involved at all. But we don’t know what our time would be like without it.  Could it have been better? Sure. Maybe.

But I have this theory that cultures are as alive as individuals. And they change in very slow (and very strange) ways.  None of them rational. Which is why the left’s attempts to social engineer entire cultures tend to backfire in wholly unexpected ways.

If I’m right, war is one of the ways cultures change rapidly and on a mass scale. (And not always for the better, mind. But always for the side that will survive better. which in a way is its own morality when it comes to a species.)

We don’t know and won’t unless we can look into parallel universes, what the world would be like if one or all of these wars hadn’t been fought.  Perhaps it would be better in some ways.  perhaps worse.

What we do know with absolute certainty is that if you convince a culture that there’s nothing in its territory/institutions worth dying for, you’ve just convinced it there’s nothing worth living for.

Look at Europe and its ever-diminishing children, or even rate of marriages.  (Yes, I know ours has bottomed also. But it’s a temporary effect of the culture being ordered to commit suicide to “defeat” a virus. When you can’t get a party of relatives together, weddings will be postponed. When you don’t know where the next meal comes from, you postpone having babies. Etc. It won’t stick. The idiots comparing unlocking to being ordered to advance in WWI into enemy fire, have it all backwards.  The suicidal move is NOT being allowed to work. It’s being commanded to lock down to escape a fantasy dreamed up by those who will never die from the actions they order. No one is demanding you go out and resume life. You’re free to die. We just don’t want you to take all the rest of us with you into misery and famine.  Yes, this madness compares to WWI, just not the way the left “feels” (They don’t think in any sense of the word.)) Look at their inability to believe in much, except of course that those Americans, across the ocean, are somehow inferior.

Why do men fight? For the same reason men fought since the beginning of time: to keep their food supply, their women and their children safe.  And in those countries where women join the armed forces, those that are worth a damn fight for much the same reason.

Not for high fallutin’ ideals, or philosophies. Not for the things the future will judge the combatants on, but for the immediate and clear perception of danger from the other side, which must be countered or lead to extinction.  “Those people over there will kill us or cause us to starve, unless a few (or many) brave men stand up to them.”

That’s it.  The white feather was sent to those who refused to join in WWI not because the women (yes, women) sending them felt that war was a material good, or they wanted men to die, but because they’d read the stories of Germans raping occupied towns, and raping and pillaging their way through convents, and they feared what would happen to them if Germans got hegemony of Europe and turned their eyes across the ocean.

The men who went to war went to war, largely to defend their women from such horrors.

Sure. Some were sane enough they deserted. And for some, it would have made no difference had they “fought” because their governments had been more blatant about sending them to commit suicide than the others.

Memorial day was not instituted because the victors suddenly thought that the Confederates had been jolly good fellows and fighting for the right reasons. If you go back, in fact, to the origins of the day, you find there were dueling memorial days for a while, and that each side talked of the atrocities the other committed and kept that memory alive.

Civil wars are horrible things.  I grew up with stories of the Portuguese one, received from Grandma who got them from her grandma, who probably got them from her grandma.  There is much fuzzying there, too, and I don’t know, these many years past which were of the civil war or which of the Napoleonic war.  I do know the war in Portugal, fought by rival claimants to the throne, one for absolute and one for Constitutional monarchy was much like the one fought in the US minus the component of slavery. Which clarifies things immensely.  The side of liberty (constitutional monarchy) won. It was also the side of industrialism, and the South (the side that supported industrialism, since they’re arid and their land sucks) plundered the North (the defeated) for centuries. Still does.  Also curiously, the North now is more industrial than the South.

Why does that clarify things immensely?  Because both wars, ultimately, were fought over new technology and how it changed the old ways, including bringing to the fore beliefs in the inherent value of the individual.

Go back and look at all the great wars and periods of upheaval. Everyone of them has its roots in some change in technology that completely modified the way humans live, day to day. It is no coincidence that in our day and age, we have a faction that wants to abolish technology as much as possible, because in their brutish, untrained minds that means getting rid of strife.

Of course that’s not the way that works. That’s not the way any of  that works abolishing knowledge and technology would only bring back older wars, already fought, and older ways of suffering.

The truth is each young man who was thrown into the maw of a terrible war, win or lose, good or bad, just or unjust fought to adapt humans better to changing conditions (some of those conditions being changed by the hands and minds of men) so that the future could happen.

They fought and died for their women, their children, their future.  And to an extent, they succeeded, all of them (sometimes after a horrible interval where truly disgusting ways prevailed.)  Because humanity is still here.

Bringing that in, closer, to the US only, where it is clearer, every young man who fought and died, since the revolutionary war, fought to bring to life that immortal poetry about the rights of the individual.

And if some were fighting as far as we can tell on the wrong side — or all were, if you squint — that is because some things only become clearer with time and distance, and when everyone who fought and everyone they fought for is long dead.  And sometimes, who knows, had they not fought it would have been even worse.

Salute those who gave the final measure.  Lay a wreath on their grave, if your local idiot doesn’t think cemeteries — outdoors, in the open — are a high risk of transmission.  Cry a tear for those who died for the wrong reasons, at the wrong time, and the future they will never have — even if they died before your grandfather was born.

They will remain forever young, forever a potential unrealized.

Pray that we never run our of young men willing to sacrifice for the land, the ideals and the people they love.  Because if we do, humanity might as well pack it in. We won’t last much longer.

And, despite everything, despite the fact that it becomes daily more obvious some among us are willing to destroy people and civilization, to the last human and the last brick, pray that this time passes us by without requiring the sacrifice of young men in senseless wars.  All wars are senseless. Some are just less senseless than what peace in those circumstances would have been. And cost fewer lives.

Give us peace in our day. But deliver us from evil.

 

 

A NOTE from the blog owner, Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo

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First a note from your friendly local Sarah (and I’m the only one.)
I’m still trying to come up with ways to make this blog take up less of my time without actually shutting it down.  I do need to concentrate my non-fiction writing on PJM, because that pays.  Also, to be fair, I need to step back from politics a bit, or I’ll never write fiction again.  Like Heinlein during WWII I’m considering delaying my news reading, perhaps in my case to the weekend, to avoid being driven mad by the insanity striding abroad in the world with its boots on.  (Yes, I do know this is difficult as an instapundit contributor.  Perhaps nights and weekends, with nights being mostly skimming the items you guys send me?

OTOH I love the community and don’t want to shutter the blog or isolate myself from you guys.

So, I’m considering articles only on Mondays, Wednesdays and … I don’t know.  I do the story on Fridays (and promise longer installments.)  Anyone have any idea what to do Tuesdays and Thursdays? Guest posts are unreliable. I could favor you with whatever I’ve been learning for fun that week (up to and including the history I’m taking in great courses) or news of the cats, or whatever, but I need some guidance.  I’m hoping younger son steps in and claims one of those days as his own for sharing his (often pungent) ideas on culture and its corruption, but this might not be a good idea while he’s looking for work.  Husband keeps threatening to, but then he gets completely lost in the mathematical stuff (statistics, pie charts, numbers. Dear lord.) he wants to share with you, and I never get a post.   So, I’m open to ideas.  Up to and including something I write, but which is short and sweet, like a poem (or poem translation) or a picture from somewhere or something I’ve loved.  Anyway, this is almost as much your home on the net as mine, so chime in- SAH

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 J. L. CURTIS:  Rimworld- The Rift.

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Danny Ortega was a failure. He couldn’t tolerate the implant to be a starship captain…

But Danny Ortega has run his deep space research vessel Ghost alone for years, flaky AI and all, mapping the most unstable and unexplored regions of the Rift for the Cartographers Guild. When his latest mission lands in a mass graveyard of ships, including some ships out of legend, lost for hundreds of years, the guild isn’t happy with him.

He picks up a misfit crew out of the asteroids and the games begin!

Turns out he’ll need them not just for research and salvage, but to help him keep his ship! As word gets out that he has artifacts and is returning remains, Danny finds he’s gone from chasing a prize to becoming one himself…

Unfortunately for his enemies, Danny didn’t get his own ship by being an easy target or giving up. His odd connections and crew have plenty of surprises up their sleeves, too!

FROM MARY CATELLI:  The White Menagerie.

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In a court of decadence and intrigue, only Maya’s enchantments hold in check the snow-white creatures they keep in a menagerie to amuse themselves. But when Lady Tatiana arrives, and all must outdo themselves to win her support for the king, Lord Dariko is certain that she can hold in check a gryphon as well, and will hear no warnings of danger.

Her most careful watch and her most powerful spells might not save them — but nothing else will.

FROM DOROTHY GRANT: Going Ballistic.

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When her plane tries to come apart at apogee during a hijack, ballistic airline pilot Michelle Lauden handles the worst day she could imagine. After getting down without losing any passengers or crew, though, she finds her troubles have just begun!

The country she’s landed in has just declared independence from the Federation. The Feds intended her passengers to be the first casualties in the impending war – and they’re not happy she’s survived to contradict their official narrative in the news.

The local government wants to find her to give her a medal. The Feds are hunting her to give her an unmarked grave. As they both close in, Michelle’s running out of options and time. The only people able to protect her are an accident investigation team on loan from the Federation’s enemies… the same enemies who sent her hijackers in the first place.

And they have their own plans for her, and the country she’s in!

FROM KEN LIZZI:  Captain: Falchion’s Company Book Two.

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Running a mercenary company may be a bloody business, but it’s still a business. Falchion, now captain of his own outfit, faces not only opposing mercenary companies just as deadly as his own, and the magical threats posed by psychotic wizards, but also stingy, second-guessing employers. When his employers realize their allies in a three-party war are using them as a cat’s-paw and will likely turn on them, Falchion finds himself taking on two opposing armies, twin-sorceresses driven by religious fanaticism, and a mercenary commander holding a personal grudge.

FROM FRANK J. FLEMING: Superego: Fathom.

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There are two ways to be a hero.

One is more violent than the other. And the universe needs a hero, because a mysterious entity known as the Fathom is terrorizing the known universe and seizing control. But they’ve made one mistake: They woke Rico, the universe’s greatest killer, from a coma. And he’s decided he might be the good guy this time.

But being a hero isn’t easy. Rico has to work with others (not his favorite), and the impossible odds means it’s going to take an insane scheme or two (more to his liking). Still, Rico won’t let anything get in his way on his mission to destroy the Fathom… even though there are like a ton of things in his way — militaries, trained killers, a planet-devastating weapon or two.

Once again, it looks like Rico is going to destroy a lot of things and kill a lot of people.

But hopefully this time in a good way.

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: DEFECTIVE

Witch’s Daughter – Installment 7

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*For the previous chapters, please go here. These are posted first draft, as the brain dictates to the fingers which are remarkably stupid. Eventually it will be cleaned up and fixed just before page is made secret/taken down and the book is published. At that time I will take lists of typos or volunteers to proof read. For now, it’s written in a hurry, usually an hour before it goes up. And, let me remind you, it’s free – SAH*

The howling wolf had a sort of magical property of its own. Albinia had heard wolves before, of course. She’d been born and raised in a remote domain, except for that very brief — and odd — visit to London when she was six. But this wolf sounded like a thing composed of night, darkness and fear.  It was like the wolves one heard of in fairytales, who got into cottages and devoured entire families.

There was a feeling of hunger and frustrated rage to its voice, a sense that there lived something more than mortal, common wolf.  And Albinia found this created a telekinesis of sorts that propelled her against Lord Michael’s all too human and comforting warmth.

She expected a shocked sounnd from him. She understood from mama that only quite abandoned females flung themselves headlong at men. Not that she didn’t sympathyze, if the poor things had been abandoned and had no other means of comfort, but she also didn’t understand what flinging oneself at a gentleman would do. Unless of course the gentleman’s arms were broken and couldn’t fend such an attack off?

Like most of what mama said, it seemed a complete mystery. On the other hand, now she had actually flung herself at a young man, and she fully expected some sort of reproof. What she got instead was Michae– Lord Michael’s arm going around her middle. It seemed to her it trembled a little, but she was sure that couldn’t be true. Not of someone with so much magic. It must be her shaking communicating itself to him.

She was of two minds on whether to ask him to make the light shine again or not. She couldn’t remember the lore servants and woodsmen had told her in childhood and didn’t know if light scared wolves or attracted them.

But just at that moment, as though some malevolent intelligence controlled it, a sliver of moon, pale and silvery like something drowned, peeked from behind clouds and cast its cold light onto the scene.

What it revealed was both more and less scary than Albinia expected. The forest showed again, in its dark glory bringing to mind all the stories of children abandoned in forests to die.  The trees were tall enough they seemed to disappear into a sky where a few scraps of violet or grey cloud floated, looking much like curdles in unnatural milk.

The wolf was not visible, though it sounded again and closer, that sound that was hunger and anger and terror, all lashed together.

Lord Michael’s arm tightened around her.  “There is nothing to be afraid of,” he said, even as his voice cracked a little. Wolves are afraid of light, see.”

And with that, he made a gesture, and she could feel the magic going from him, and quite suddenly — above them — a light appeared, the same light that had guided her down from the tree, but larger, brighter and very, very comforting.

“Oh,” she said, stepping away from him, just as he seemed to leap away from her, as though shocked he’d been grasping her so tight. “I’d been wondering if light attracted or repelled wolves.”

He frowned a little, and seemed to be trying to remove twigs and leaves from his clothes.  Looking down at herself, she too seemed to be impersonating a tree, and she forebore to think of what her hair must look like. She was sure it was a mess all around her head, and filled with twigs and branches. She must look quite demented.

“I actually don’t know,” Lord Michael said hesitantly. “Whether light attracts or repels wolves.  I don’t think no one ever told me.” And then, as though embarrassed by his lack of knowledge, “You see, the domain at Darkwater, where I was raised is… quite large, and we have…. ah, games keepers and grounds keepers to keep the wild animals at bay.  Besides…” He looked uncomfortable. “Besides I was never the sort of child who goes for rambles in the woods or has adventures. That would be my brothers, at least from what I heard. My … I have a workshop, see, and I like to invent magical things.”

She didn’t see at all. If she’d been allowed to roam, instead of being locked in the tower all the time, she’d have roamed. She’d know every inch of the domain, including the woods and the beach. And she’d probably know all about wolves, including whether or not they liked light. But she knew, from dealing with her brothers, that it didn’t do to laugh at a boy or say he was silly. They were quite ridiculously fragile in their pride.

At any rate, right then the wolf howled again, quite close. Lord Michael ceased his brushing of his clothes, and Al stepped closer to him, though not quite touching, and this time she forebore to fling herself.

“It appears,” Lord Michael said, his voice gone unsteady again.  “This one doesn’t fear light.”

“No,” Albinia said, and looked into the darkness, trying to see the creature.

It was odd, because though she could hear it, she couldn’t see it at all. She thought perhaps it was just a figment of her imagination? Or perhaps an insubstantial creature, like the smoke Gather, and not real in any sense?

But just as she thought this her eyes adjusted, and like in the moment when you blink your eyes in the dark and realize what you thought was a monster is really only the curtain blowing in the wind, she saw it.

It was only that it was so large and so dark she’d thought he was a dark spot in the trees.  He — and from the feel of the creature there was no doubt it was a he — was a vast beast, his shoulder towering above her head, his eyes glimmering yellow and feral.

As she looked, he opened his mouth to howl again, and large fangs, as long as her fingers, glimmered in the light.

Lord Michael was pushing her behind him.  “It’s not a natural wolf,” he said.

“I know,” she said, because she did.  No natural wolves grew to that size.

And just as she was thinking what to do, the creature advanced on them, a low growl coming from its throat.

She forgot everything she was thinking. Her mind blanked, and she couldn’t move if she–

She felt the magic work, and didn’t even know if it was flowing from her or Lord Michael.  Or which of them threw the fireball, which went flying to strike the animal on the nose.  It screamed.

In that second, Lord Michael screamed also, “Run.”  And grabbing for her hand, he pulled.

They ran headlong into the dark forest, while the light of magic above them extinguished itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Autumn

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Today is one of those life transitions.

The Hoyt nuclear family now counts an MD in its ranks. In the next week or ten days, (they haven’t booked the truck, yet) Dr. and the young Mrs. Hoyt will be making their way out of state for his residency program.

Younger son’s graduation is in limbo due to the fact no one informed him of the bureaucratic things he needed to do for graduation, and he’s kind of isolated due to his unique double-degree path. He just didn’t know that there was paperwork to fill months ago.  (And his counselor apparently is useless or thinks he’s psychic.) Wish him luck as he tries to speed up the paperwork so he can have a diploma in hand soon.

Meanwhile — because I can’t do anything about the bureaucracy and younger son won’t let me beat people up (no one lets me have ANY fun) —  this task is done, and it’s time to get back to OUR life.

Even though a summer of moves lies ahead of us, as we help older son and younger son move, and as we engage in the Great Office Swap of 2020. (Now husband is working from home for the foreseeable future, we need to change where my office is, where his office is, and where the household office and paperwork center is.  I know, it sounds loony, but you’ll have to trust me that it’s needed. It is in fact a way to re-center our marriage on our relationship, rather than the relationship with the boys. … Okay, fine, it’s a grandiose way of saying “We want to be on the same floor during the day and the same floor on our time off.”  Also I have great hopes of getting Dan to unpack the boxes he’s carried for the last three moves, and making his office look less like a warehouse. I’ll probably fail in this, but maybe at least he can hide the “graveyard of computer parts” in what will be a bigger closet.)

Anyway, when this is all done, round July or August, we will move into what will be justifiably “a new normal.”  Which won’t mean a diminished life, as what they’re trying to sell to us with the “new normal” carp, but a step into a new phase.

When and where I grew up, by the time the kids were married and moved away — usually not very far because, let’s face it, the entire country is not very far — it was time for the parents to be OLD (even though objectively they were most of them younger than us, given how long the boys have lingered in education, and how late we had them, through no fault of our own.)  They were retired, or had achieved everything they wanted to in their careers, and it was time to … slow down.   To live a slow and limited life as they waited for grand kids.

We do hope to — hint to both boys — have biological grandkids someday (we already have adopted ones — and before anyone complains at the distinction, these are our grandkids by fans I adopted as my kids even though they have other parents. It’s kind of like a reverse cuckoo’s nest thing. — And yes, we do love them, but we’d like our biological kids to have kids, also.) this new phase of life is in many ways not a diminishment but a reorienting and reblossoming.

I.e. I noticed years ago when I was first published that most of the women who became big in the field did so when they were done pushing the kids out of the house (earlier for some than for others.)

I can tell you that doing mothering right, including supporting them through the upheavals of professional training WITHOUT infantilizing them takes a lot of mental space, even when it doesn’t take physical time.  Or maybe that’s just be and being somewhat (Ah! The person who just smirked in the back row might just get a shoe to the noggin) neurotic.

Well, it’s time to concentrate on the career now.

I’m not going to stop caring for the boys. But it’s time for older son (and very beloved DIL) to go off, have their own adventures and learn their own ways.  Younger son will be moving to basement apartment, at least while he waits the resolution of academic limbo, and perhaps for a few years, if he can find a job nearby, because that will speed up paying off student loans and frankly give us someone on hand if we need SOMETHING.  And in fact this house is just two much house for two people, so until we move, we’ll be fine if he stays in apartment. BUT the apartment is completely separate with its own entrance. We’ve been known to go out to the driveway to see if DIL and older son are home.

We do plan some joint ventures with younger son who is a born organizer/adminsitrator, including AT LONG LAST activating Ink Stain Publishing (And yes, that means Kate Paulk’s books come back on line.  At least if she’s not too fed up with us.  We’ll also publish what she calls The Prussian book (space opera, I’m editing now) and we’ll do our best to get her to write sequels to all of them.)  Younger son will also be setting my indie books in paper, and he’ll be doing other stuff.  You’ll see.  Part of our plan is to get it started, so he can continue it even after he has a job, because some things I’m really bad at, but he isn’t.

But MOSTLY Dan and I are going to do the things that were put on hold 28 years ago, when someone put a helpless being in our arms (by stealth!) and we realized with a cold feeling that we were responsible for him for the next 18 years of his life, and he would die without us.  Turns out he and his brother reoriented our lives to be “parents,” instead of Dan and Sarah.  And yeah, we went a little longer than 18 years, because we were giving them a reach up, so they might achieve higher than we ever did.  And who knows, maybe Marshall will actually manage his life-long goal of “getting us the heck out of this rock.”  And if not, maybe he’ll get us a little further on. Maybe he can contribute something on humanity’s way to the stars.

Now because 28 (almost 29) years ago Dan and I were, ourselves, young idiots of 28, we’re not the same people, and some of our goals have changed. Sort of. Kind of.

He’ll probably get back to his music, but — coff — he’ll probably never be a rockstar.  Or not the way he wanted to be in 1991.  As for me….  Well, the only thing I ever wanted to do is tell stories.  That has been weird and spotty, partly due to the publishing establishment, partly due to family, partly due to health and other concerns and running just ahead of the hungry financial wolf for way too long, and getting in my own way by worrying about politics.

Now, all of those aren’t going to stop — duh — but there is indie now, which changes a lot of things, the kids are more or less on their own (well, younger son will be, hopefully within months AT MOST depending on how fast we can get the university office to realize he didn’t drop the ball, THEY did), the health is — for now — under control and G-d willing and according to family history, I should be okay and mentally allert enough to write stories for thirty years or so, and finances will recover soon.  Politics will still interrupt, but that’s life. It’s possible that they’ve become too silly for even me and I’ll learn to put them in the back brain, or like Robert Heinlein during WWII only read news on the weekend.

Hopefully there will be time for a lot more writing, a lot more stories.  Because that’s what I was made to do.  And I intend to do more of it.

We’re moving, you could say, into the autumn of life. And that’s the time that shines the brightest gold. Right?

And now, I’m going to go over some copyedits, put up some Jane Austen “fanfic” and finish the next book.  In the plans is also a space opera Dan and I have been writing. (It’s the world’s pulpiest thing ever.)

Maybe I’ll even find time for some hobbies on the weekends.  At least after the moves and after moving more rock.  Or not. But I’m going to try.

Go have fun.  The Hoyt family is taking a day of rest.  Which means writing and doing math and well, for the younger part of the family, packing like mad people.

Lasting

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Like a lot of Americans these days I’m doing a lot of food preservation.  This is not only natural, when you can’t trust your supply chain — something we never had a problem with before, mind, but the covidiocy driven by the lunatic media has broken that for a while.  I trust that if we don’t go howling into insanity further (sure a portion of society is guaranteed to, but I hope no one pays them any attention) this will be solved within a year, but for now… — but also considerate, because the more you have put by the less stress YOU personally will put on the supply chain and therefore the better the chance that we all get through this without famine. (Well, in the US. The rest of the world all we can do is pray for them.)

And preserving food, with an eye to what will last will give you a strange turn of mind.  Particularly if you are in your fifties, which could rightly be described as the autumnal season of life (I always liked Autumn, anyway) when you both realize you don’t have unlimited time and that the story is not, and never was about you.  (That second part might be only if you’re connected to young people who are now adults and moving on into their own adventures.)

What I mean is at some point, looking at everything you can do and everything you have done, you start prioritizing “what can I do that will last?”

For a person of my limited talents, this is easy.  Novels last — and make money — longer than short stories.  And both last and make money more than articles.

But there are still quandaries.  When I mentioned in my group on facebook (Sarah’s Diner. If you’re there, knock, answer the questions, and we’ll let you in) that I’ve been re-reading Heinlein, Mackey Chandler pointed out I don’t get paid for reading, I get paid for writing.  Which is undoubtedly true.  But it’s also besides the point.  I’m still going to spend time reading (and re-reading) books or taking courses on line, for the same reason I eat food and wash my hair, both activities I don’t get paid for and which I’ll have to do again: because I need them.  (Whether re-reading is productive is something else.  There are authors I re-read a lot, like Heinlein or Giovanni Guareschi, Larry Correia, Agatha Christie, Pratchett, Dave Freer, or Jim Butcher, or about half of John Ringo (I know, but some of his more popular books I can’t “get” in. Not his fault. It’s a thing to do with the universe build and my own personal itchy spots as a reader.  As has been noted here, just because you personally can’t get into a writer it doesn’t mean they’re bad. There is something to taste and personality.  Incidentally, I’ve found that while some writers “keep me out” at one time of my life, they can become my favorites ten years later.  The mind is a weird thing and reading is the meshing of two minds.) Other writers, no matter how enjoyed are one and done.

However most of my re-reading is really to keep me on track in tasks that don’t engage the mind but which are ultimately needed.  You see, I do that with audio books. Without audio books, I would never clean my house, because I would clean half the kitchen and wander off.  In fact, for years, I had “books to ruin” which had to be bought very cheap (or free, from the damaged book shelf that used to be outside every used bookstore.) Why “to ruin”? Because I would hold them in one hand or prop them unstably on something while I did dishes, scrubbed floors, or other tasks where splashing will ruin books.  Getting my husband used to this idea was difficult, since he won’t even let me set the worst of books face down and open, BUT he eventually understood “no bookie no cleany or cooky” and flinched and accepted it.  With audio books it’s easier, though sometimes I get the “TAKE THE HEADPHONES OFF” with varying levels of irritation, depending on whether he didn’t SEE the headphones and has been talking to me for ten minutes. (Which is why headphones tend to be red, pink or yellow.)

But Sarah, you’ll say, why on Earth if you’re trying to do things that last do you do things like clean the house, or (on the program right after I publish this) go and move rocks in the garden, or plant roses, or work on the (truly near dying right now, because we’ve not started watering) lawn or prune trees, or whatever the heck you do that will be gone in a season and for which at any rate no one pays you?

Well….  There is what lasts, but there is also keeping your sanity.

For years, and arguably what is biting me now that the botanic gardens are closed, I carefully scheduled times to “see people that aren’t inside my head.”  All the gardening, cleaning, organizing, and yes, even cooking and preserving, are part of the same process.

We live in a world saturated with story, permeated with it.  For those of us with that kind of bend, it’s easy to live entirely in our heads, with very few excursions out for conversation with our loved ones.

But we are not in fact in Plato’s cave (don’t you dare argue that. Yes, I know all the arguments. I’ve made them myself. But if you argue that you’re just digging yourself a new gallery off the main tunnel.) We are in a world where things have substance, and heft and flavor.

Particularly for those of us who often go fishing off the shoals of the mind for a living, it is important to remember the hand that tickles the keyboard can and should be able to plant vegetables, pat a baby or cut up vegetables.

When I’m stressed doing really violent labor keeps the depression at bay.  And it lasts.  In a weird way.  The roses I’ve been planting and tending this week will — G-d willing, and the next owners of this house not being complete idiots — outlast me, and delight future generations.  Even small things, like seeding the cosmos (they’re coming up beautifully, btw) will last out the day, which is more than my reading the political news and grinding my teeth will last.  And hopefully (I’ve done this before in other houses, except the last one where nothing grew) the way I’m designing things means that next year and the year after the labor will be lighter.  In three or four years (if I’m still here in every sense) it will be a matter of like Agatha Christie’s village biddies watering and weeding a bit every morning.

So I’m trying to do one or two hours in the morning of hauling rock or digging, or putting down flowers (mostly flowers. Vegetables are tough in this climate, though I’m doing some too) and then writing. Novels, because they last.  Though I need to block off some hours/a day for columns because those pay now.

The choice between two activities is “Do I need this in some sense?” and “Which one will last.”

The exception of course is petting cats. It doesn’t last, but I — and they — need it. And heck, none of us lasts, in the long run.

Anyway, the sun is shining and the rock must be shifted and the plants watered.  And then there’s a novel to finish. Even if nothing I do outlasts me, most of what I do today will last out the day itself.  And sometimes that’s all you can aim for.

I’m off to work.

I DO NOT CONSENT

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So for all this time, the democrats have been about consent, right?

Remember when it was essential that every drunk college boy get his equally drunk date to sign a consent for each stage of the relationship?  Like “I consent to mild groping on the couch while watching net flicks”  or “I consent to inept kissing where you look all over for my lips and kiss my left eyebrow, then my earlobe, and end up doing a good imitation of a cow when you use your tongue to find my lips?” (What? Okay, look, I didn’t go out with him again. Besides, he’s a leftist. They’re not good at this stuff.) Like being a teen/early twenties and dating isn’t difficult enough?

Remember how important it is to keep the mentally ill and drug addicts on every street corner, because they don’t consent to treatment and we don’t have the right to incarcerate them unless they commit a crime? And of course, if they commit a crime, they do it because they’re not in their right minds and then we can’t incarcerate them either. We must respect their rights to be free as the wind,  camp all over the most expensive parts of our most expensive cities, and throw buckets of diarreah at innocent citizens.

(BTW part of the reason the despicable Jared Polis in his over stretched Hugo Boss Uniform says that he doesn’t know when restaurants will be able to open, but it’s not “in the foreseeable future” and that public “edutainment” venues like the zoo, the botanic gardens and museums will also remain closed for the foreseeable future, other than the fact that he’s not done admiring himself in front of the mirror in his Hugo Boss Uniform and polished boots, is that while there is an “emergency” he gets extra funds to spend on the homeless.  Thanks Jarred. We know you love the homeless. You love them so much you want to make every citizen of this state a pauper.)

Well, assholes, I have news for you: I do not consent. Nor do the rest of America consent.

You didn’t even have the decency to get us drunk before you started to lie to us.

Remember how this shit started, back in March, when Wu Flu was considered much more deadly — because people insisted on not paying attention to the Diamond  Princess numbers, which were right on target, and also on ignoring the fact the homeless were NOT dropping like flies on the streets — they told us to wash our hands, stay 3 feet away from other people (this was before the six foot magic distance) and cough into our elbows?  They didn’t even give that any time to work. Like a college kid with a roofie, they jumped right on us, before knowing if any of those measures had done anything, and just went for third base with the lockdown.

And then they kept changing the conditions for letting us go. It’s now to the point of “it wears useless masks on its face, or else it gets the hose again.”

So….

So nothing. The American people are setting themselves free all over. At a guess they have a month no more before we start forcibly opening the museums and gardens, which are paid for by our tax dollars, and restaurants are setting tables out everywhere, and letting people come in.

So why are they doing this?  Well, part of it is the Polis thing, above. If you look, while the emergency persists, they get all sorts of funds for all sorts of pet projects. Or, you know, to award contracts to their friends, so that they have a place to go when we run them out of town on a rail.

The problem is I think they’re underestimating how mad people are and how ugly things will get.

Which is where the danger lies.  I know many of you think we should already have started shooting. But there’s a danger to that, while the enemy holds the highlands of propaganda.  In a way our going hot too soon and half cocked or in a way they can paint as unprovoked is what they’re hoping for. It’s their only chance.

Their media arm — and you see what they’ve done, just with scaring everyone — will swing into action, and suddenly everyone will be afraid to associate with those killers.  And they get their moral high ground back. And then they get to control the narrative. And — they think — we’ll never get our heads up again. It’s 1984 forever, and they are big brother.

The thing to remember though, is that the left doesn’t understand people. They have these…. chess markers, labeled people, who move only according to their class.

They have zero chance of getting what they want. They DO have a chance of making our getting rid of them very unpleasant and bloody. And they do have a chance of landing us with a dynastic ruler…. but not of their number.

Both of those are relatively minor, though.

So, what is going on?

Nunes — bless him and his line forever — talks about a coup in progress.  He’s not wrong.  But what he’s seeing is a fractional amount of what the left has been up to.

The coup isn’t now. The coup is what took over the culture and society of the west post WWI.  Most of the world has folded to them, even America to an extent.  They just never controlled America completely, and that galled them.  Both because while there’s freedom somewhere they can’t install their dictatorship of the enlightened, and because (they are, remember, economic illiterates) if only they had the wealth of America they could really get rocking and show the world how well socialism/communism works.

So for the last thirty years they’ve been doing everything they can to take America down and break her.  They thought they’d succeeded.  And then 2016 sucker punched them.

Which is why they have been trying to engage in what Nunes calls coups (and are by definition.)

The problem is…. they haven’t been working.

The massive overreaction to COVID-19 was part of the process. First, the media got to scare its audience. It must have felt good to have power again. And they got to keep that audience — literally — captive.  Of course they don’t want to let us go. Like an aging dowager, they have managed to fascinate people ONE LAST TIME. They’re going to try to lock you in as long as possible.

And it worked, for a while, in the beginning.  But the thing about Americans is that collectively we’re not trusting. And we’re starting to — collectively — smell a rat. And the rules — ever more deranged rules — the left tries to impose are breaking out all over.

The media is still trying. Anything to hide the biggest malfeasance of any administration the country has ever had. I mean, if they were even vaguely non-partisan or only mildly partisan, Rick Grenell would be a household name. He is already — and for that we must be glad — a Usaian. (Hey, given… everything, maybe I should send him a copy of A Few Good Men? 😉 )

And the stuff coming out. Oh, mama! I mean, I don’t trust these assholes and never have and it shocked ME. Is shocking me. Both the corruption and the ineptitude at it.

Are these coups? Well, yes, in the sense they’re trying everything they can to overthrow an established system.

But their coup has been going on since Woodrow Wilson, at least. Probably before.
What is causing them to go batshit insane? The counter revolutioon.  Us.

The internet allowed us to find each other, and to know there are still Americans out there.  Hell, we might — if you take in account massive levels of fraud in elections — be the vast majority of Americans.

And we do NOT consent. To any of this.

On a phone call with mom, she said “You know when they lock you down it’s not about whatever they tell you it is about. It’s always about being afraid of you.”

They should be afraid. They should be afraid enough to know their craziest ploy ever of “let’s keep America under house arrest until they forget what freedom is” is not going to work.

It’s not working. Each day it’s breaking apart a bit more.

Be not afraid.  We are the revolution.

And those who took the establishment through the long march through the institutions? They’re losing.

They’re going to get crazier. But the crazier they get the more obvious their corruption and intents are.

In the end we win they lose.

Go be ungovernable.