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It Is Later Than You Think by Bill Reader

It Is Later Than You Think

by

Bill Reader

 

“We thought we ranked above the chance of ill.

Others might fall, not we, for we were wise—

Merchants in freedom. So, of our free-will

We let our servants drug our strength with lies.

The pleasure and the poison had its way

On us as on the meanest, till we learned

That he who lies will steal, who steals will slay.

Neither God’s judgment nor man’s heart was turned.”

-Rudyard Kipling—”The Covenant”

 

It is only lately—and, I think, in conjunction with many others on the Right—that I have properly ascertained both the magnitude and the severity of the threat we as a civilization face. I choose my words carefully, here—as a civilization. Not just as a nation, but all of us in the broader western world. We have all fallen prey to something pernicious. And it is both exactly what Glenn Reynolds discussed in his USA Today column here—and then again it is something slightly different.

I’m not seeking to present anything new to you today. I will consider myself to have done well if I present what you already know together, without the soporific effect of lengthy times between stories, or the calming effect of great distances. This is not about the future. I am not even sure it is about the present, though I remain optimistic. But see it, and judge it, for yourself— and recognize it for what it is, because I’m lately afraid our time is much dearer than we’d suspected.

It is later than you think.

The world’s seven largest economies, in ranked order, are the US, China, Japan, Germany, the UK, India, and France. Traditionally, China, Japan, and India are considered Eastern nations. Therefore in a practical sense—and probably also, arguably (albeit at more length than I care to go into; I have bigger fish to fry), in a pragmatic and philosophical sense— the heavyweights and current stabilizing poles of the Western world, writ large, are the US, Germany, the UK, and France.

It would be troubling for me to write that there had been a coup in any of these. Yet increasingly it looks like there has been a silent coup—or certainly an attempted one, at all events—in all of these. Not because of grand conspiracy, but because of a kind of monoculture among what Glenn Reynolds refers to above as “the new class”. They are easy to identify, by their smug certainty that they know better what ought to be done with and for you than you yourself do. And they are beholden—as often as they can possibly make this so— to nobody, and are guided by nothing except their doctrinaire beliefs in what might charitably be called academic Marxism, and might more aptly be called simple totalitarianism.

Angela Merkel was the bellwether. Guided not by the desires of her citizens, nor by any apparent concern or understanding of its ramifications, but solely because it was pleasant to pretend that Germany could accommodate them, she opened Germany’s borders to vast hordes of impoverished denizens of the third world. As tends to happen with people imported from backwater nations using absolutely no filtering process to guarantee they are even aware of their host nation’s values— let alone support said values— they brought the cultures of their native motherlands along with them instead (not that this is topical in any way). And on New Years Eve, in 2015, “For all of Germany, police estimated in a document leaked in 2016 that 1,200 women were sexually assaulted and that at least 2,000 men were involved, often acting in groups”. These crimes, largely by ‘men of “Arab or North African appearance”,’ were the gratitude Germany got for its attempt at grandiose humanitarian aid.

A heavy price was borne for Merkel’s arrogance, though Merkel herself remained comfortably distant from what she caused, as is usually the case in these “for your own good” schemes. Her only meaningful punishment is that she is not planning to seek re-election as leader of the CDU or Germany—and even still, she fully intends to stay chancellor until 2021. Though not before making German politics decidedly more—interesting. In 2017, along with her ouster, suddenly the Alternative for Germany (AfD) party was a significant force, and her own party was on the back foot—to her shock and dismay. Her citizens chose the “wrong” answer, and the international press was sure to tell everyone as much. (As an aside: the “quality” reporting in the US and UK makes it utterly impossible for me to tell whether AfD is actually a concern in its own right, or just a correction to an overwhelmingly idiotic decision by the ruling party. Insofar as the MSM can’t tell the difference between Trump and Hitler and have reportedly been axing foreign correspondent positions for years, I tend to assume that the AfD would get called Nazis purely for holding stances the Left disagrees with. Actually being German is just icing on the cake. By the way, to any leftists reading, here’s a hint: Hitler probably wouldn’t even recognize Israel—given that a lot of the radical islamic groups in the middle east were originally funded by the Nazis in part because they both hated Jews. He would therefore be decidedly unlikely to favor Israel over “Palestine” by moving his embassy to Jerusalem. Oh, and he probably wouldn’t be Grand Marshall in a Salute to Israel Parade. But I digress. On the other hand, 2017 is also the year “Mein Kampf” got back on the German bestseller’s list, and you can spin that how you like, but it doesn’t strike me as a good sign. I would love it if someone who is near Germany could weigh in with their thoughts in the comments.)

Turn now to the case of Brexit. In a complete surprise to the British elite, a referendum on leaving the EU came back showing that the British don’t like absentee landlords from the rest of the continent telling them what to do. This had recently become especially important since, well, Germany had just attempted to commit suicide by taking a massive overdose of immigrants.

Now the EU was telling the rest of its members that it was no fair not also attempting suicide, and immigrants should be able to move freely into England from Germany. Not that the British press said it this way. No, the British press, curiously, decided to frame their opponents as being “anti-immigration”—which they say in roughly the same way you or I might say “satanist”—thus demonstrating that between Germany and Scandinavia, professional leftists the world over don’t really have a problem with rape, as long as the victim is a blond white chick.

Moreover, the elite in Britain were outraged, since many of their close personal friends happen to be absentee landlords from the rest of the continent, and their favorite hobby to bond over is making up absurd things and telling people to do them. Think of it as “Simon Says”, except to stop playing you have to emigrate—and you have to wait for Simon to say you can emigrate.

But, driven by a resolute belief in the power of democracy, they boldly decided to— not comply with the result. The people, you see, had once again gotten the “wrong” answer. So the British elite dragged its feet, and the EU threw an outright tantrum which made it easier for them to do so. (Not that the EU doesn’t have its reasons—England leaving is an existential threat to the EU, since it essentially destroys the current “rob from the rich and give to the dysfunctional” model it operates on by taking a massive cash source away. If you wonder why the EU is trying to rob Britain blind in Brexit “deal” negotiations, it’s because they can’t afford not to.). This culminated in a “deal” by Theresa May that was so ass-backwards many people think it was intentionally designed to be broken—and it went down in flames by a massive margin. The rest of this story hasn’t even been told, yet, but the smart money is that Britain’s elite is going to try to push another vote on Brexit, and this time encourage people, by hook or crook, to choose the “right” answer.

Say, do you notice a pattern?

Well, how about this story, one you know well. The MSM, to give the First Woman President (TM) the best possible chance, openly prayed for the person they considered the worst, most back-number conservative candidate, to run against her.

And when they got him—good and hard, as you might say—they proceeded to attempt to destroy him the way they’d always done with Republican candidates. EG, they called him Hitler (I always wonder how many Leftists who instantly played the Nazi card on Trump even remember that we endured probably six solid years of the “Chimpy McBushHitler” slander from them, personally, before Trump was even a major national candidate. If the Republicans could nominate Anne Frank to a major position, the Democrats would trip over themselves to call her literally Hitler—and a gender traitor, to boot.)

Trouble was, first, they didn’t factor in that they were still running one of the most unlikeable people on the planet—a person whose tagline rapidly became a single derogatory term for opponents, “deplorables”—that applied, essentially, to everyone from far right to moderate middle.

Secondly, they assumed that running footage of Trump discussing his beliefs and campaign promises would hurt him. To be honest, to the extent that I was skeptical of Trump at the beginning, it was because: A- Given that he was from New York and had pictures taken with virtually every notable Democrat you can imagine, I didn’t think he believed in or would even attempt his campaign promises; and B- I was partially caught up in the media response on the right, from outlets like National Review that, in retrospect, I think were themselves mostly people who couldn’t bring themselves to doubt there had to be fire behind the massive MSM smoke-bomb, and later felt they’d be seen as inconsistent if they changed their minds.

But for anyone else who was in my boat, I can’t imagine that seeing what Trump actually said was especially off-putting. There are things like tariffs I’m not in love with—but most of the platform is solid. Tax reform, an emphasis on border security (of any kind, actually, compared to the import-a-voter Left), reforming (rather than, as the single-payer advocates like Hillary would have it, further deforming) healthcare, deregulation, taking the boot off the face of American energy producers—there’s a lot in there that most of the right and many in the middle can agree on. Meanwhile, Hillary “Adult Fun Camps” Clinton basically offered European governance, except more corrupt. This rather extreme position, the MSM explained, was “moderate”, and they estimated that Hillary had a 99.9999999% chance of winning, with the remaining 0.0000001% being their estimated odds of her being tragically hit by a meteor.

But insofar as this was about five months after Brexit, where it turned out that even Britain had had enough of European governance, this went over about as well as you’d imagine.

Actually, it went over worse. Hillary Clinton went from impossible-to-lose to impossible-to-win so fast it had much of the  MSM exposing their true colors that very night. You remember the tears and shocked faces?

That alone should have put middle America on notice about media bias. And to the Democrats, this seemed like some kind of terrible miracle. I’ve talked about that before, and I won’t belabor it now, but I suspect that’s in part because the upper echelons of Democrats know they rig the game in their favor.

And if you don’t think they know it, first, I offer the examples of Arizona and Florida in the 2018 midterms. And second, I offer the very first bill the new House brought to the floor. And third, as an extension of their, shall we say, morally challenged ways, note the willingness to use the FBI on a fishing expedition against Trump, starting before the election and continuing, now, a full two years in. I’d say there’s very little that shows off to better effect that they want to win at all cost.

Because there patently isn’t any there, there. There never was any. At best it was about using Russia as a convenient excuse to find something, anything, real, with which to take down Trump and thus reverse the election results. At worst, they didn’t even want something real. They may well have simply wanted a string of tantalizing accusations that would then be immediately disproven. Note the unending barrage of Headlines in 30 point font and retractions in 6 point font a week later (if, indeed, any retraction materializes at all), which the media collectively calls “ethical journalism”. In fact, look at what has happened this very week—as we saw a “bombshell” about Trump so stupid it was dissolved by Mueller’s office within a day, followed by a “bombshell” about catholic school-kids disproven by more extensive video evidence than a murder on a movie set, some of it taken by the professional protesto—I’m sorry, I mean “victim”, himself. “You can bury a person just as effectively with potting soil, as you can with real dirt. You just need to buy enough of it,” is the new MSM motto.

And what is all of this ultimately for? Why do it?

Because you, American voter, chose the “wrong answer”. And your elites are here to “educate” that tendency out of you. But first, they need to violate a ton of laws, and take us well into banana republic territory (What else do you call government officials, many from the last administration, rebelling against a duly and legally elected leader and actively fighting everything he does, exactly? Contrary to what the Left likes to say, that is extremely unextraordinary behavior—from Leftists, no less—in those lovely South and Central American countries that are so well run, we need a wall in part to keep their people from coming into the US en masse. What it is not a legitimate part of, is the tradition of Western Democracy.).

Not because they want to, you understand. If you had simply surrendered like good boys and girls and submitted to your rightful masters, they could have done everything they wanted without breaking any laws. It was you, ungrateful peon, who forced them to use extra-legal means to continue upholding the status quo, and only because they are deeply #principled are they continuing to doggedly fight to ensure your rights are abrogated for your own good. And by the way, as with the EU in Brexit, the Left is fighting Trump tooth and nail because he’s threatening their nest egg.

They know that people from South of the border vote Democrat. If at all possible, the Democrats would like to integrate them into their welfare web (Because on closer inspection, it’s oddly reliable how the “safety net” seems designed both to trap people and make them prey to eternal predation by Democrats. One might begin to suspect LBJ knew what he was about, no?), and keep them voting Democrat for, well, forever. People call them out about flip-flopping on their stances, but of course in their mind they haven’t flip-flopped at all. They were willing to support border security only when there was virtually no chance of it being enforced. That’s why the Trump administration has noted that there are extant laws calling for barriers on the Southern border pre-dating his administration, which were curiously unenforced. Now that there’s a chance of border security being enforced, the Democrats are openly opposing it. But their position is consistency itself.

The only thing that changed is that before they were lying to keep you happy, and now you ungrateful oafs have forced them to acknowledge their actual beliefs.

And so, after all that, what do you do with a place like France? Macron, by all accounts, is only the proximal cause in a long string of abuses on the French people—and more specifically, its middle class.

You see, in pursuit of various personal goals—forcing people into carpooling and mass transit, environmental posturing, good old fashioned money and power—apparently France’s elites have, for some time, been enacting increasingly insane laws that benefit themselves while inconveniencing the populace. At some point, a tipping point was reached, and the people of France donned yellow vests and started protesting—say have I heard this song before? Sounds like it’s being done by a French cover band. At all events, the French government—apt students of history that they aren’t—have responded in the way any reasonable oligarch would: they’ve started talking about banning unsanctioned protests. Yes, this will go well. Obviously. How could it possibly not?

The people of France were successfully talked out of voting for Le Pen, but, mon dieu, they have still somehow fallen backwards and now, malheureusement, have picked the “wrong” answer. It is up to their betters in the elite class to make this gauche and ill-mannered display impossible by outlawing it, because outlawing behaviors the government dislikes has an excellent historical record of causing them to vanish, especially when those behaviors include protesting said government.

But you appreciate that, while we can laugh at this because it’s better than crying, it’s a sign of something deeply unhealthy and vastly widespread?

Every pillar of the Western world, it seems, has revealed itself to be infected with an extremely dangerous political class, formed of people who believe implicitly in rule by the enlightened, by the right people, even while mouthing obfuscating lies about “democracy”.

They believe in populism until someone plays the game of populism better. They believe in democracy, the more direct the better, as long as they think they’ll be in power under it. But mostly what they believe in is power.

The rest is window dressing. They are aristocrats in modern suits, and the government changes around them, but they remain the same. They believe in grand, stupid, and impossible visions that benefit them, and actively harm their people, and pursue them to the exclusion of all else. Oh, certainly they are the “new class”.

But they are more than that. They are a sign that Western Democracy has unofficially become Western “Democracy”. Now that the opinions of the people—in Germany, in England, in the United States, and now in France—have become inconvenient, the governments are finding they would like to dissolve the people and elect another. And they will do anything to achieve that end—”we let our servants drug our strength with lies”. France and England sound poised to commit to these brave new social experiments in their own ways, and the US won’t be far behind if the Democrats ever get enough funding to run a few more fraudulent investigations.

So look around you, while you still can. The sun is high in the sky. The last day of rule by the people—by the actual people, rather than by a “bolshevik” (literally, majority) minority— is half gone already. We’ve all been living in a very pleasant world, but it’s one that’s enabled us to relatively disregard politics, and that has let some very unsavory characters slip in while we were living in a dream. “The pleasure and the poison had its way”.

It is later than you think.

I have said before that I am unsure whether America will have another civil war, even though many of her people are—foolishly, to anyone who has seen one— spoiling for one.

The factors are myriad, but king of them all is geographical emulsification and the lack of clear battle lines. I’ve been trying, for ages, to think of how that might change. Now, I realize, it won’t.

What’s happened in France and is happening in Britain has made me realize that the conflict is fundamentally between normal people who are getting pissed on, and people who sympathize with—and often someday hope to become—the unelected or unremovable power brokers who are pissing on them.

I know of no true historical model for a civil war in a country that looks and acts demographically like America does now.

But—as Angela Merkel learned, and as I suspect France will soon discover—history is wall-papered, end to end, with examples of leaders uninterested in the well-being of their people who eventually faced deposition of one form or another.

I pray that somehow, the leaders of America allow the peaceful and existing processes that could allow that to happen to advance unabated. It will take surviving a bitter old guard and defanging a particularly idiotic new guard of Democrats. It will take acknowledging earnestly that whole departments of our government, just like our press, have largely fallen into the hands of people who hate the nation and its people, and re-evaluating our goals on who to elect and what to do in elected office from that perspective.

But we must rise, face the day, and try. It is later than you think—and getting later. Because, I maintain, part of America’s ability not to become the bloody quagmire that France did during its revolution was down to the people it was revolting against being on the other side of an ocean.

I think we are— all Western nations, and we, no exception— more at more risk than I had initially thought of our own French revolution, and that’s a thing we decidedly do not need, and a place we decidedly do not wish to go. The name might survive—but I fear that nothing else of value in our country would.

Fun House Mirrors, Reprise

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Hi guys, I feel like death warmed over.  This weekend was Cosine, the last con of  its kind in Colorado Springs.

Because we’d gone to the first, because we tend to take time to go — even though January is always both my busy month and usually a time I’m ill as hell — we thought we should attend the last. (My usual reluctance to attend is not cons only.  We also usually had a party with old friends for Superbowl and it was also really hard to make it, though most of the time I did, because January, busy and ill as hell. It seems to be off for this year and as soon as I kick this cold, we should try to get together with those friends for a dinner or something.)

If you saw me at Cosine and thought I was more lackluster than usual, sorry.  You see, the night of Thursday my ears started hurting.  I have what feels like a cold except I’m not really coughing, which is usually a problem, because that’s how I end up with pneumonia.  From other stuff, mostly my ears and throat are…interesting.  I might have to go to the doctor.  (Regardless of whether one son is training to be one, I really hate going to do the doctor.)

But none of this is important right now.  Well, not most of it. Except the fact I felt like hell, and would rather be home finishing a novel.  But because I felt like hell, I was probably better off, honestly, at the con in terms of what I produced which was nothing. Yesterday we were home, and other than church, where I sat well away from any kids or old ladies, and left asap, I got NOTHING done, save sit on the sofa and read a novel (which I’ll probably talk about tomorrow.)

Of course the con also produced nothing.

Look, cons used to be really important to build your career.  Because your only ways to become known were two: your publisher pushed you OR you went to places where fans gathered, got them to order your book, and if you were lucky your publisher saw you surrounded by fans and decided to push you.  Even when I broke in, 20 years ago, I saw people leap ahead of me in fandom and publicity because they had money and spent two years hitting a con every week.

Book tours worked too, on the same principle — from what I understand from my bestselling friends (well, the ones who talk business with me) — right now they only sort of do.  Their purpose is more to make your fans excited AND to have the book reps/bookstore people see it and report it, than any real sales extension.

Anyway, I know cons don’t work that way now.  When we ran the tiny all-friends group publisher, one of us regularly hit cons, and we know it makes NO difference. As in bloody none.  I can see a bigger spike in sales because I wrote a post for PJ and mentioned the latest book than because I went to a con.

And due to the “nothing is fun anymore” people cons have gone massively smaller and grayer.  Though to be fair, other than the books you sell in situ (paper books becoming more a souvenir of meeting the writer) comicons and big media cons don’t particularly help, either.

Years and years ago, I became aware I went to cons for two reasons: to see friends in the field who lived far away, and to meet my fans.  Which is why more and more I do Liberty con, though it’s not insanely affordable and this year — tears at hair — is going to come after two weddings and G-d willing not a funeral, but we have to do things with OUR parents, difficult on one side for health reasons.  But it’s a nice, relatively relaxed con, and the word seems to have gone out to my fans, so they gather.  And that’s okay.

I also try to have dinner with my fans once a month in Denver (ask and someone will tell you when and where.  I don’t like to post it on my blog, because you know how insane things have gotten.)  And as the kids fan out (At least one of them is thinking probably Texas in a couple of years, just based on where he wants to work, but of course it depends on what he finds when he looks) we’ll probably spend part of the year elsewhere, and have dinner there too once a  month.  So you guys in other states can cross your fingers and hope.  Neither of them particularly wants to go to the snow belt, but you know, it could still happen, anyway.

The point here, though, is that none of this REALLY matters.  Well, the dinners do, and my fans do. By and large I like my fans, which I understand is a strange thing for an author.  But what used to be major promotional efforts are now jaunts you can take for fun, should you choose too. In fact I was blackballed (if reports are correct) from a con this year, and my major upset over it is that I’d planned to meet with my inner group there, the few dozen fans who have become my extended family.  But oh, well, the timing wasn’t really convenient anyway, and we’ll always have Liberty con, where most of them are attending anyway.

Because careers, and the sense of what a career is have changed.

It used to be you had to be very nice to a variety of people, no matter how rude they were to you, or how much you knew they hated your guts and would like to eat you with a nice chianti: agents, editors, SMOFS, con booksellers.  Any of these, if he or she took a determined enough dislike to you could get the rumor mill going, and because these people all dined/gathered/(sometimes)slept together, one of them hating you hard enough could destroy your career.

It’s much harder now.  I suppose if Amazon personally and particularly blacklisted me, I’d be in a little trouble, but even that won’t really be FINAL.  (For one I know someone working on an alternative RIGHT NOW, and you’re going to like it, I promise.  Not a replacement. Not unless Amazon gets stupid. But an alternative.)

I think I mentioned here a month or so ago that normally this would be the time to retire. When the publisher that other houses think is the devil publishes you, you will never publish with other houses again (yes, that used to be different, but…) and when they decide to drop you, it used to be you had no option but to retire.

Now?  Oh, hell.  Even bad numbers won’t kill you.  Who keeps the numbers? The bookstores?  You mean Barnes and Toys who will probably be out the door by the end of this year?  Or do you mean indies which are nice, sure, but like everything dealing primarily in paperbooks, unless they host a ton of signings and “events” are feeling pinched as heck? (I know. I have friends working the field all over the country. And it’s not that you can’t make a living of a bookstore, but you’d best host parties, and author get togethers, and workshops, and writers’ groups, and–  It’s a venue, now, more than just a sales place.)

Selling to the net was a problem. But now it’s largely irrelevant.  Every book is your new book. Your first chance. Your brand new start.  And if the left (it’s always the left) starts a rumor campaign against you, you sidestep it, write something different, under a new name.

In the bad old days when what you sold depended on whether your publisher pushed you and your public image was just so, there were a number of cases — as quickly as possible hushed up — of a midlister or a low-selling writer who submitted under a closed pen name and became the new and hot thing.

Publishers hated when these became known, because it showed how much of success or failure was their decision, and they wanted to hold on to the fantasy it was ALL the writer.

So by the time I broke in, no agent who wanted to keep working in the field cooperated in this.  You HAD to tell the publisher that this was a pen name and who the writer really was, or the publisher would blacklist the agent and therefore cut his source of income. (Always remember who agents really work for.)

But that was then. This is now. I already write under THREE completely closed pen names, and no you can’t have them.  And for a while there, they were making me more money than my real name, though I haven’t written anything really for about a year, for… reasons.  But there’s a book almost finished, and others started. And a couple more almost finished. AND it has slowly sank in that I’m free.

In this case it’s not JUST “nothing left to lose.”  I really am free. What if my next three books fail?  So what?  The fourth could be an enormous success.  More than that, what is fail?  I know several indie writers none of you ever heard of who are making more than I’ve ever made per year of writing.

So what is indie? Indie is new beginnings. As many as you want. It only stops with death.  And that is in a way being forever young.  I kind of like it.  Welcome to the island of the blessed!

These are the good news.

The further good news is that cons don’t matter.

I’ll admit, partly this is good news to me because I’m an introvert.  Left to my own devices, I’d hole up in my office and write the clock around. Cons were and are always immensely stressful, which is why I usually get sick BEFORE them, because my immune system goes on the attack and it’s determined to kill me.

Now, I’m also aware that I still need to see people.  One of the ways I manage my depressive tendencies is to haul my ass out of the house once a day, unless it’s really, really cold.  And husband and I BOTH need to get a “fun day” a week on the schedule.  And if he can’t, you’ll probably find me drawing dinosaurs from the skeletons at DMNS; wandering dreamily around the art museum; watching elephants at the zoo.  All of which are ways for me to see people without having to talk to them, and all of which get me out of my own head and make it less likely I’ll become depressed.

We will also, for the foreseeable future, and unless we’re broke or health/family conspire (I’d say that won’t happen, but this year is going to be difficult, and I make no promises for future years, as parents get older and kids move away) go to Liberty Con.

But Liberty con is where I see my friends, and so many fans who’ve become friends, and my kids get to visit with their friends they grew up with.  It’s in many ways more like an hyperextended family reunion.

Cons used to be immensely stressful to me.  Not just because people, aaaaack, but because when I was in the political closet I watched myself all the time.  And even then I got snubs and cuts because, you know, I was not in vocal support, so I was always suspect.  And my panel assignments were ALWAYS weird. (That’s putting it mildly.)

But you couldn’t be rude, and you had to be pleasant and nice, no matter how crazy other people got.  Well, whatever.

I had a friend at the start of indie say “If this succeeds, I’m going to be very rude to a lot of people who deserve it.”

That’s fine. It’s the friend’s feisty way.  Me?  Bah.  I was raised in a part of Portugal that is soaked through with British cultural influence, and family was just well off enough (there might not be food on the table, but the table was CLEAN) that we had MANNERS.  Not that my parents were very good at instilling them, but kids acquire these from the surroundings. By the time I was ten I knew bragging was gauche, and by the same principle my good jewelry was tiny, both because we were poor and because “that is good breeding, that is.” (Of course, most good families in Portugal are poor as church mice. I had a friend from one.)

I not only don’t want to be rude to anyone, I have found that once they have no power over me, I don’t even particularly want to argue with them.

My focus was always the ideas, not the people. Yes, I got very angry and frustrated when I got put in assy panels or lectured in panels (this is me rolling my eyes) about how I like subtlety in my appreciation of literature, or whatever.  These days mostly I get bored. Panels are the price I pay to meet/talk to my fans.  And there’s no reason to be impolite, ever.  If I talk too much on a panel it’s mostly because ADHD and threatening to fall asleep if I don’t.

The only topic I really care about anymore is preventing young writers from falling in the clutches of scammers, large and small.  Oh, and preventing bullying of those who aren’t aware the gates are now open.

So imagine my surprise (and boredom, but mostly surprise) when Rose Beteem (I’m probably misspelling her name. I always do, being dyslexic. There are people in SF I have nicknames for, not because I’m mean but because I can’t spell their name right nine times out of ten. Which they then use to say I’m lying or the like.*) panel coordinator at Mile Hi did what I’m very sure she thought was “confronting” me after a panel two days ago.

Well, the surprise was because most people just talk behind my back and never try talking to me. So well done, her.  The boredom was because of what she thought was the important point in this.

You see, there is this post, now almost two years old.

In it I have a factual error, mostly caused by the fact I was on Prednisone which is sort of like being on speed, for me, but also sick — like now — which means I’m writing into the mind fog.

Because I wasn’t even sure what I’d written I read it before writing this.  And Rose is right.  I did say Charlie grew up with her in a small town in Colorado.  Actually we have two friends who knew her years ago, and one of them grew up in a small town in Colorado. I just agglutinated the whole thing. I am therefore issuing a retraction on that. She can stop hounding Charlie to “disprove” it publicly.

Charlie knew her when they were both young — and she has by the way unblocked him after that post, and spent the time since the post trying to get him to issue a correction and say he didn’t grow up with her in a small town in Colorado.  You can actually see him rolling his eyes can’t you? — but as he pointed out this was best said as “not in a small town FOR Colorado.” Consider please I grew up twenty minutes from (and after 7th grade spending 90% of my time in) a town of over a million.  Even Denver was small to my mind in those days.  Which matters. In large towns you don’t know people very well. Which is why I mentioned it, but honestly, none of that really matters.

And we have another friend who knew her when HE was young and who tried to exculpate her nonsense like saying I want to suppress voices in SF/F and am therefore racist, sexist and homophobic (rolls eyes) by saying she’s the most gullible woman in the world.  I kind of believe that. Note that what she obsessed about in that post was that she didn’t grow up in a small town because, she told me, that was easy to disprove, and to her mind invalided the whole thing.

Note that I’m sure she has by now erased/retracted that post/comment (and I don’t even remember which it was, honestly, and it was incoherent, even at the time), but I assure you she was stomping on puppies and claiming we were suppressing different voices, etc.  BUT the important thing was a minor error in my post, which, of course, invalidated everything else she might have done.

Which is why several people on the left in my field are addressed by nicknames, because of course, if I forget a w or an l in their name it means they’re saints and I’m the devil.

Bah.

I’m also willing to say perhaps I jumped to conclusions too fast.

Okay, her comment was probably because she’d just heard that, and can’t think through to figure out it’s nonsense, because none of us had the power to suppress ANY voices.  Saying “I don’t like this book” or even making fun of a story is NOT SUPPRESSING VOICES.  I’ve had worse done to me over and over, and that I know I’m not suppressed.  It’s entirely probable my panel assignments and bizarre things relating to that were because she’s not malicious, but merely incompetent, or simply strange.

It’s easy to attribute to malice what can simply be explained by “what?”  I might have done that.  Maybe.

Who knows? Who cares?

You know what I realized?  I realized this woman — thank Bob — has no power over me. None of them do.

I’m quite capable of f*cking up my career on my own, thank you so much, but I no longer have to be afraid anyone will f*ck it up for me because I looked at them sideways, or failed to look at them, or they heard from a third party I didn’t want to look at them, or, as in the case of a legend of SF, in a scene worthy of a comic movie, she overheard a friend and I in the bathroom AUDIBLY rolling our eyes at her dearly held political opinions….

Whatever. Yeah, I’ll make enemies.  Hell, another legend in the field hated me on name-sight on boards even before I came out politically. And I never figured out why. (Later I gave her reason and plenty to hate me by wiping the floor with her at Heinlein panels across the country, with much glee and malice, because… well, because there are topics that still matter to me, even if the personal doesn’t. And I am not a NICE person. I try to be good, but that’s completely different.)

But the good news is THAT DOESN’T MATTER ANYMORE.

More importantly, there’s always a fresh start over the hill, and I can FINALLY at long last do what newby me (the poor duckling, that she was) THOUGHT was the job: tell stories, and perfect the stories, and get better at them, and compete with myself to reach ever higher.

I don’t even want to be rude to anyone, or tear anyone down.  That only seemed important when they had power over me.  How much I wanted to strike back was a measure of they’re power.

I guess now, they have none. Now, I’ll mutter a quiet “excuse me please,” as I go around.  And that’s all.  That’s all I want and that’s all I need. I just want to do my work.  And they don’t MATTER to it.

I’m issuing the retraction because, well, I messed that part up.  And I’m also saying “Who the heck cares, anymore?”  I don’t.  No bad feelings, because none of this even warrants FEELINGS.  There are important political battles.  Most of them aren’t in my field.  Oh, they’ll continue hitting. Good for them. It’s nice to have a hobby.

Though I will reserve the right to point and make duck noises, because I have a low mind, of course. But what the heck. Sometimes I point at MYSELF and make duck noises, because like Jane Austen’s character, I dearly love to laugh.

What I’m finding is that even relationships between writers are much more healthy in indie.  You no longer look at someone getting a lot of push and think “oh, that’s where the publicity money is going” and worry for your own book coming out next month.  Or have an argument with a colleague and worry he’ll bad mouth you to the publisher.  To the extent I talk to other writers, it’s all fan letters and “I can help you this way.”  And that’s fine.

Not really caring what people think of you is a beautiful thing. It gives you the mind space to care about what matters: the stories.

Many, many great story tellers seem to have been at best socially awkward.  I do my best. But I’m not going to win any prizes. Introvert, remember?

However it doesn’t matter.  Only the stories matter.  And those, I’ll write.  And now, if you excuse me, I’m going to take ibuprofen (yes, I’m that ill) and get to work.

There’s a novel almost finished, you see?

And it turns out I’m a writer. That’s all I ever wanted to be. I’m glad most nonsense has fallen away from that job. Now I can roll up my sleeves and work.

 

 

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

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Sunday 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.  One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

FROM LAURA MONTGOMERYFractional Ownership.

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Perpetual plaintiff Lewis Ostrow needs a ticket to Mars. His litigation profile renders him ineligible. Lewis, however, always stands ready to fight the system.

A legal fantasy.

A short story.

A bit of science fiction.

FROM SPENCER HART: Bert Henderson Double Adventure.

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DEATH RAYS & DAMES are all in a day’s work for company troubleshooter Bert Henderson.
CONTAINS 1 SHORT STORY (7500 words) & 1 NOVELETTE (15,000 words)
“When trouble needs shooting, eccentric industrialist Mr. Phillips has just the man for the job – Bert Henderson.

Bert’s boss runs Phillips’ Atomics, builder of atomic-powered planes, spaceships, and industrial tools. These high-tech inventions are revolutionizing the world of 1949. So when Mr. Phillips’ interests are threatened, Bert can find himself traveling anywhere on Earth – or beyond.

Criminals and foreign agents are in for more than they bargained for, when Henderson is on the case.
And if there’s a gorgeous dame involved along the way, that can bring its own sort of trouble…”

Contains Bert Henderson’s first and second adventures: “Death on the Moon” (short story, 7500 words) and “Fire in the Andes” (novelette, 15000 words).

DEATH ON THE MOON: The first ever murder on the Moon brings Bert to Roosevelt Base to find the killer. Mr. Phillips is financing an observatory on the Moon, and construction is halted while the murderer is loose. Can Bert find the killer and prevent more death on the Moon?

FIRE IN THE ANDES: One of Mr. Phillips top engineers has gone missing in Argentina, and Bert is sent to find him. But the investigation leads to the discovery of a greater threat. Complications ensue from encountering a lovely senorita. Can Bert deal with both the case and the dame?

“Pulp Noir Action Thrillers set in an Alternate History with atomic spaceships and ray-guns”

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: embrace

Easy and Hard

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Recently Dan and I both ran into books and movies that made us grit our teeth, because in all of them, there was what I call ” magic wand” solutions.

One that the rest of the books were really good, and I actually read those but this one I couldn’t read dealt with the problem of homelessness.

I can’t tell you if this woman never actually bothered to google any homeless issues up on line, or if she never met a homeless person, or ever heard discussions between homeless people, (I did. I used to live downtown and walk across a park where they gathered), or has no friends in the professions — city planners, social workers, medical workers — who work with the homeless.  Or if she’s one of these people who only read and believe what fits her narrative.  What I do know is that the book — very successful, btw — was so silly it wasn’t even in the real world.

Her setup was something like this: you lose your job as an executive, and your wife divorces you, and the next week you’re living in a homeless camp, unless of course you get a good samaritan who gives you a job, and then you immediately become middle class again.

Head>desk.  You know what step she missed? METH.  Or some equally destructive illness or addiction.  Why? Because when you lose your job, you don’t lose all your abilities.

I have a friend who was laid off from his high paying job on his sixtieth birthday.  As Steve has alluded to in the comments here, this is increasingly more common. Partly because the companies can’t afford (okay, some can but are assholes, but don’t judge until you know what profit they have to make to keep solvent.  And remember that a lot of the investors are pension funds and people’s retirement money) to pay the increasingly higher old-age health care (and ironically — ? — the ACA by mandating a lot of crazy things that the clients can neither use nor want — for instance, our family with me who am post-menopausal and had an ovarectomy and hysterectomy and three males are all BY LAW covered for abortions.  Because, you know, the aliens could impregnate one of us. It also mandated a never-end of paperwork so doctors had to hire scribes to do it.  Older son worked as an ED scribe for over a year.Minimum wage, mostly would-be medical students getting help with their resume, but seriously, another expense.)  Weirdly, my friend didn’t roll over and become homeless.  He’s had his low points. He’s had his high points.  But his skills and abilities didn’t vanish with his job.  So, he’s writing, teaching and working on computers… as a contractor.

He doesn’t need a poliannish savior to give him a hand when he’ll automagically become respectable again, because he never stopped being respectable.

But over and over again, we see people writing characters that lose everything because of ‘greedy corporations’ and become entirely dependent on government services, until some sweet good samaritan believes in them, and then they’re fine.

Real social problems, be they homelessness or illegal immigration, be they child mortality, or the increasing of the dependent class, aren’t like that.

There is a strong component of real people who behave in the ways they want to.  And thinking they will be solved by just someone “being compassionate” either with government money or their own.

There have always been people who don’t thrive. The poor not only will always be with us, they have always been with us.  And even if our homeless are better off than the hard working middle class of the sixteenth or seventeenth century, yeah, they’re living directionless and pointless lives of self destruction, and destroying others on the way.

Part of this is because people aren’t all alike, and they don’t all prioritize the same things.  This seems to be something the social engineers can’t make themselves believe.  In a way they’re the ultimate narcissists.  Their imagine of the world is an immense mirror.  Since they don’t want to live in a certain way, no one does. Since they try to be productive, everyone does.  Etc.

But there are people who are perfectly happy living at the bottom of the ladder, and enjoy their addictions and their illusions.  Even in the strictest dictatorships, humans can always choose to self-destroy, to not behave as they want, etc.

Is this the only reason people fall?  Well, no.  One of the real contributors is the economy.  Now this is often caused by social engineers of one kind or another, the other being things like free trade that’s… um… not free on the other side.

Then there’s what I’ll call technological forces.  Whether we want to or not, the first world is going to hurt in the next fifty years, no matter what we do.

Why? the ability to work from a distance, and travel ability is going to equalize the world’s economics a lot.  If you can live in the middle of nowhere and make NYC money, why wouldn’t you.  But at the same time you don’t need NYC money, and someone who lives there will undercut you.  They just will.  Now go international on that.

Living standards and cost will equalize to some extent (the extent limited by being able to be secure, etc) which means the first world will hurt. Has to. It’s just what’s coming down the pike.

Plus tech isn’t done with us.  It will change. It will improve.  It will do things we can’t antecipate.

Will there be victims of this? there always is.

A lot of the people like my friend, who get fired because they’re 60, get despondent and broken and just sit around, living from social security and getting bitter.

And a lot of people will do that.  A lot of young people will do that, before ever working.  They’ll just sink under the waves.

What’s the difference? The picture in the head.  Is there hope for the future?

I get accused of being overoptimistic.  I’m not.  Some of my ideas of the future are horrible, and they could happen. They might even be the more likely.

And there’s things I can’t do no matter how much I try.  I’m not a world power.  Yeah, I know, I’m stompy, but not that stompy.  I’m just one person.  Each of you is just one person (all apologies to any hive beings reading this, but individuals are more likely.)

Also, we truly suck at organizing. Because the individualists failed to organize.  And the collectivists will get some wins in. You can’t stop it. You just can’t.

OTOH…

It’s all the individual.  You can choose to fall.  You can choose to rise.  You can choose to go down fighting.  Not even the greatest dictatorships of humanity managed to stop that.  In your head, you can always be free.  You can go down fighting.

You can create rather than destroy (even just self-destroy.)  You can build rather than wreck. You can pay your own way and that of your people, rather than become a dependent on the public purse or on charity.

It’s harder. Of course it’s harder. You can coast and indulge your pessimism and your inclinations.

Or you can choose to fight.  Fight for the non-dystopia future.  Fight with words and deeds (however small deeds.)  You can remain free.

This is not a story. A happy ending is not guaranteed. But neither is the bad ending.

You can’t control it, but you can make a difference.  Square your shoulders.  CHOOSE to not surrender.

Sure, it’s harder.  But in the long run it’s the only thing that will save civilization and humanity.

There is a time when you are so tired, so out of it, that stopping breathing is easier. Going under for the third time is easier.  You just let go and you die: in person or as a civilization, or as a nation.  It’s easy.

It’s also death. It’s the end.

Some people will choose it.  I won’t.  The waters are turbulent ahead, but I intend to keep above them, even if it’s “just” by floating in the grand piano.

I’ll take the hard way, thank you.  I’ll choose to continue fighting.

Bad Crazy

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There are gradations to crazy.

Look to a certain extent we can’t help living in the crazy years.  Okay, sure, we can’t help living in the crazy years because we’re alive now and the years sure are crazy, but that’s not what I mean.

What I mean is that as a society we can’t help being a little crazy, simply because we have more abundance than any other time before us. We have time for humans to get a little insane.

A wise rabbi once said “man doesn’t live of bread alone” and he was right, of course. But for most of human history the quest for bread was so difficult that it consumed much of human thoughts and resources. And therefore it kept you grounded in reality to an extent.

I grew up in a place where earning your daily living still took a marked amount of time, and required you to have some (at least contact with reality.)  We had crazy.  Of course we had crazy.  Crazy is when the human mind, which thinks in stories, interacts with the world which doesn’t come in stories, and tries to impose the wrong story on the world.  But there are degrees of wrong.

The first level of crazy is barely crazy at all.  You’re actually pretty on point with the world, but you have some quirky habits or some strange ideas about subjects so rare and strange that they rarely show up in your environment. You’re still a decent worker/father/mother, but you have what the regency called “an odd kick in your gallop.”

A lot of us here are like that.  Heck, I was like that growing up.  I went to school, I worked, I did what I had to do at home, but I had this bizarre fascination with science fiction, wanted humans to go off world, and was passionate about things like “future history.”  It was crazy because 90% of people in my society then didn’t give a good goddamn about this stuff, but also because a lot of my ideas back then were sideways and upside down to reality.  But unless you were going to put me in charge of planning trips to other worlds, or a future government, no one had any reason to care.  In fact, unless you wound me up or read my (rather wretched) fiction, you had absolutely no reason to even know about my crazy.  I presented as an awkward girl with remarkably few feminine gifts.  (In the “My daughter has made blah blah for her trousseau” competition, mom must have had a heck of a time.)

Then there is what I’d call crazy-crazy.  A classmate of mine from elementary school went clean out of her head and decided she was the real queen of Portugal (which, btw, is not a monarchy).  That’s not funny and it can be downright embarrassing/distressing for friends and family. Particularly since the family was then trying to marry her off (I’m trying to remember whether they did.  Mom never told me.)

People will gossip, conversation becomes a minefield, and you have to worry “what if it gets worse? what if she decides we kidnapped her?”

Crazy-Crazy is not pretty, but it can be handled.  In this case, the girl thought she was the real queen of Portugal in durance vile and in disguise in a farmer’s household.  She still did her work, pulled her weight, dressed herself, etc.  You might have to call her “your majesty” leading to awkward things like “Has your majesty milked the cows?” but while a tragedy for the person and near relatives, crazy-crazy is not in itself evil and does not in itself create problems for people who don’t have to deal with you personally.

Then there’s insane-crazy.  Insane crazy usually involves complex theories and rather bizarre constructions-in-the-head.  It can be harmless or not, and it usually requires one to be comfortable enough not to need to work.  The local example of this insane crazy was fairly harmless.  He was a well-to-do young man who had been in an engineering degree when his head went askew.  He sat at one of the city coffee shops, drawing up increasingly more elaborate plans for an intercontinental bridge to the Americas.  And it isn’t just that he thought his continuous improvements could now deal with the tides, or that he kept coming up with things like artificial islands to help anchor it, but also to provide hotels and restaurants for rest stops, no.  It’s that if you sat down with him and let him explain his magnificent dream, in the end he’d always explain to you that it could never sink, and wouldn’t dissolve in salt water, because it was… made entirely out of soap.

Long ago people had stopped trying to explain to him stuff like  “Soap still dissolves in salt water, it just doesn’t foam” and structural integrity and… well… anything.  The basics of his insanity weren’t debatable for him, because he was right, you were wrong.

An author that shall not be named, because he’s the last thing we need here, who wrote what is possibly the worst book in the world, and drew the cover himself, suffers from that kind of insane crazy.  He knows his book is the best in the world. He knows he’ll win the Noble (!) and the Oscar (!!!!) for it, and it will be acclaimed as a great book in human history.

His premises are just as crazy as the one about soap and sea water.  You see, h created a character without flaws, and he thinks no one ever did it, and also that it’s going to revolutionize literature.  And you can’t convince him otherwise, so if you try you get screaming about how you’re jealous and you’re trying to bring this book down because of your (atheist, no seriously. Even though the book is not in any way religious) evil agenda.

Why is this more serious than crazy-crazy? Because not only can these fantasies be seductive, and persuasive to people who shouldn’t be that crazy, but they have so many built-in begs and inner explanations that once someone is infected it’s hard to get out.  Marx also tried to build a bridge out of soap, planned in every exact detail, and didn’t listen to things already known to economists in his time including “that’s not how any of this works” and “Good heavens, man, you didn’t account for distribution.” and “the problems you highlight are already getting resolved.”  But his theory had so many begs and excuses and was so infective his bridge made out of soap has put 100 million in their graves over the 20th century and threatens to put more.

Insane crazy is a proof of “idle hands” (and brains) “are the devil’s playground.”

But there is worse.  There is bad-crazy.

Bad crazy often starts as a bridge made out of soap.  Insane-crazy, a theory dreamed by some college professor with too much time on his or these days often her hands and an ax to grind or a pony to ride.

But it’s such a just-so story it spreads and hides.  It hides so well that people don’t realize they’re infected.  But its distorting effects twist society’s processes to the point that something vital stops working.

Yes, the entire myth of “toxic masculinity” is one of these.  It was born of the disappointment of feminists.  Look, in the days when women were actually held back, those that made it were exceptional people.

Since I grew up in pre-history, or rather in Portugal (in some ways, same thing) in the 60s, where sexism was matter of fact and every day, I can tell you that, yes, to have the same grades as a boy you needed to work twice as hard, be brighter, more nimble, and more consistently good.  Any boy started out with a good 20% on me in any teacher’s head, because “boys are smarter” wasn’t disputed, or even questioned.

So I understand that in the early twentieth century, women that made it to positions of prominence, where they became known for professional excellence, had to be GOOD at it.  Amazing, in fact.

And even then, they might hit a glass ceiling, because they were the nail that stuck up. Everything conspired to bring them down.

Female liberation was played against this.  People looked at these women, knew what they’d achieved against what obstacles, and dreamed that “if only women were allowed to be on an even footing with men, they’d be the best at everything. Every woman would be a leader.”

This is a form of insanity, because women are still human, and most humans are… average. That’s why they call it “average.”

But you can see how what they saw would deceive them.

Except that the obstacles were removed and women… were people.  Sure. There are exceptional women, just as there are exceptional men, but in many ways, even with contraceptives, we women are still running with our legs in a biological sack.  Oh, men too. They’re just different sacks.  And men’s impairments, in a way, apply better to business, to creating, to competition.

Look, it’s become “sexist” to refer to PMS and women’s hormonal cycle as being at all different than men’s hormonal gearing up.  Yeah. Any ideology that requires me to ignore my lying eyes in favor of their theory is bad-crazy which can destroy society, so these are my middle fingers.  Reality is what it is.

Having gone the full ride on the hormonal roller coaster, being a woman built mostly by nature to make more humans, let me tell you, it ain’t easy.  The hormonal ramp up of puberty is probably worse for boys, but the monthly ride of women is… interesting.  I had years of having really bad pains, which meant if I had a test on one of those days I had to work DESPITE it.  How bad? well, neither of my giving-birth experiences were worse, and in fact the second was much milder, until they gave me pitosin (the second started out with pitosin) and then with the ramping up of pain of pitosin, and giving birth in one and a half hours (long story. Let’s say they believed the report on the first birth, which had been doctored (ah!) and should never have given me the d*mn thing) was about the same as I used to endure for two or three days straight.  And yes, I studied and took finals under that kind of pain, with no pain killers because most of them just make me more ill and woozy.

Then there were my middle years where I’d get unreasonably angry and borderline-violent for about a week before.  It took a lot of engineering my own brain and knowing “this isn’t real, it’s hormonal” to stop myself being hell to live with.  And sometimes I didn’t manage it.  I’d be in the back of my brain, watching the rest of me rage and go “what the heck? Why am I doing that.”

And then there were various dysfunctions.  We won’t go there, because most women don’t get those.  But menopause… well… it’s special.  I seem to have elided most of it, because I went into it surgically and with a hammer, having everything removed and having to cope, which at least was over in a few months.  But I’ve seen relatives and friends go through it: it can stretch to five years of having NO discernible mind.  You forget everything, lose everything, can’t sleep, can’t keep commitments, etc.  And we still haven’t come up with a replacement that has no bad effects and makes actual sense.  We’re trying.

Anyway, so yeah, women are running with their feet in a sack. But most of them are about average for normal human beings.  So, yeah, they can do jobs and perform well, despite all of that.  What you’re never going to get is “every woman excells”.  Even if you stop the hormonal side effects, most women will lack the drive, the brain or the NEED to excel.

Men’s testosterone makes them more competitive, and so in a way gives them a bit more drive, but most of them are still unfocused/not ambitious enough to SACRIFICE to be the best.  Because, guess what, success always requires sacrifice.  And human beings don’t like to sacrifice.

So, women entered the workforce and most of them became… average.  Which of course they would.

But feminist insanity required every woman to be exceptional.  And so theories to explain it came up, including seeing patriarchy and oppression in ever-smaller things, including “she’s bossy” and “boys will be boys.”

And then we have toxic masculinity.  Is there toxic masculinity? Of course there is.  Well, there is toxic and it can have a masculine expression.  Because of obvious biological differences, the most toxic of women will have issues beating up people or raping them.  It can be done, but it won’t be common.

Is masculinity toxic? Not more than femininity.  The latest insistence on doing everything the feminine way has got us “feminine business” and “feminine politics” where everything is run on image, innuendo and gossip: the female version of toxicity.  You’re either with the group or out, and if you’re out we’ll demonize you.

So blaming everything on men is bad-crazy.

I have a friend who has been trying to defend the Gillette add as in “But they’re giving to causes that help raise boys who are fatherless” etc.  I love her to death, but no.  While that might be laudable, the fact is that that add is another brick in the wall of “If you’re a woman and your life isn’t perfect it’s a man’s fault.”

This bad crazy not only destroys marriages, it destroys GIRLS.  You see that thing above “to succeed you must sacrifice?” If you infect females with the idea that they’re owed success and if they don’t get it, it’s men’s fault, you’re both undermining them and turning them into rage-filled screeching monkeys, who are exactly zero use to society.  (Oh, but they vote for Marxists, so I guess there’s that.)

Worse, this bad crazy is riding on other bad crazy.  Which like most bad crazy since the twentieth century has its origins on the insane crazy of Marx.

The question is, WHY was this ad made at all? It certainly doesn’t sell razors. So, why?

Because for decades we’ve taught our children their most important role in life is the crazy cakes “change the world” or “make a difference” and the difference they’re supposed to make is in the class-war (or race war, or sex war now) sense of bringing about the Marxist paradise.  We tell them they’re supposed to speak for the voiceless, then tell them the voiceless are the “designated victim classes” (whom frankly we can’t get to SHUT UP.)  We tell them this is what gives meaning to life.  We tell them through school, through entertainment, through news narratives, through the people who are being lionized.

And this is bad crazy. Really bad crazy. By itself it is a wrench that will take society apart.  We have publishers, writers, journalists, and probably taxi drivers, policemen, engineers and who knows what, increasingly convinced their highest calling is not doing their job, but “educating” or “improving” or “raising the consciousness of” other people.

Even for a credo that worked with humanity — say Christianity — when a society becomes convinced pushing the idea is more important than doing their job, the wheels come off (see Portugal during the discoveries.)  BUT when the credo is neo-Marxism, or actually “increasingly elaborate excuses as for the only thing Marxism brings about is death” it’s exponentially worse.

It’s also the explanation for why the wheels come off every field that gets taken over by the left: because the people in those fields stop understanding what their actual job is.

And it’s everywhere.  At such a deep level that most people — even those mad at Gillette — didn’t see that the actual problem is that no one involved in the damn ad understood it had NOTHING to do with SELLING the product.

It’s bad crazy.  There’s a lot of bad crazy running in the world.  And we must stop it — and build under, build over, build around — or it will kill society.

Seeing it and asking “But what does this have to do with what you’re supposed to do?” is sometimes enough.  And if it isn’t we need to create parallel structures and companies and fields that actually perform that function.

Or we weill sink like a bridge made of soap.

All Or Nothing

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I grew up in a world where there was absolutely no doubt about gender roles, and gender roles were seriously enforced.

I don’t know if I fit in badly because — my being very sickly — my mother dressed me as a boy, because she was convinced my legs being exposed to the air would make me ill.  So, I was wearing pants from the moment I got outside.  And because clothes are important to mom, she didn’t do what other moms did in the situation and put a skirt over it, because “that’s crazy.”

In the same way, I was allergic to gold (still am, though not as much) so I couldn’t wear earrings, even clip ons. Let’s all be glad I had long hair, or the demands I drop trou and prove I’m a woman would be even stronger. (Of course I never obeyed. Like the boy named Sue, I could fight before I could walk. In my defense, being terminally uncoordinated, I think I only walked without falling for no reason by the age of 14.)

So I never fit in properly, but I never fit in backwards and sideways.  And maybe in a way that saved me.

Look, the gender roles were incredibly restrictive.  Women reading regency romances was a bit too intellectual (at least in public.)  Women reading science fiction didn’t have a place to fit.  Same with math, same with…

I hear people talking about how they were discouraged from math, because someone once told them that women couldn’t do math.  Ah!  I think these are women who heard things from their grandmothers, and want to have their own oppression too.

That is not oppression.  Oppression, if you’re a weird woman (me) who likes math and science and history is having it ASSUMED you can’t exist.  Teachers acted like it was a miracle when I spoke up.  And almost everyone gave me various hidden warnings.  Hidden warnings, “Well, dear, that’s very nice, but why don’t you read a nice romance?”  And “What you should do is go to a dance or two.”

Were they wrong?  Kind of. I mean the roles were perhaps too tight.  And it ignored that women can also have intellectual/scientific interests.  But it wasn’t wrong in another way, because you know, women in that society couldn’t really thrive if they insisted in going against everything in the society.

I mean, it was wrong in a … fairness and in a individual freedom and happiness way.  But what people who tried to get me to fall in line were doing was trying to help me, because it was just the way society was.  You can be eccentric — except we weren’t rich enough to.  We were at most weird — but you need to learn to fake it, to keep it at home, to hide it. Because society at large isn’t about you, it’s about working.

I could sort of fake it, but I could never fit in, and of course, I came across the ocean in search of a place I could.

Before I did so, though, the times had achanged and there was another way of fitting in: women were told that what they mostly did in Portuguese society, i.e. dress nicely, be domestic and dream of a family was wrong and bad and to be liberated they had to reject all that.

And women did, partly — I think — because some number were as unhappy as I was, but partly because women are the sex that conforms.  No, this is not a sexist slur.  Women just seem to be brain-and-behavior wise more group oriented and oriented towards conforming.  People have been looking for the way to stop this starting in kindergarten. I’m not sure it should be stopped, but that’s something else, since it doesn’t seem to be working.  Women hit puberty and become more likely to conform to expectations.

To explain this feminists have invented an all-pervading masculinity and have hit the limits of insanity in claiming the US is a patriarchy (someone needs to send them to Saudi-Arabia for a year) but that’s because they don’t read biological studies in other species.

There there have been studies done with fish and birds and some mammals, that if a female sees a male being successful with other women, he’s immediately more attractive.  Or that females are more likely to learn and adopt behaviors, if the whole group learns and adopts them.

This might in fact be a very old part of the hormonally induced changes in brains.  I have in the past tried to explain it with just so stories, since women tended to work while watching kids, and maybe the kids of women in favor with the group would have more chances of survival.  But some of these sexual characteristics and impulses go all the way back, to some forgotten finny (eh) ancestor who nested in groups, who knows? and females needed to get along with other females until the spawn were safe.

No one really knows, but it seems to be true.  From the way all our characteristics, including intelligence seem to cluster in a median, which means most women are “average” (but we have fewer geniuses and morons, so there’s that.) to the way women will enforce social modes and manners on other women, across cultures, it seems like most women just want a “conformity” to conform to.

So when it became fashionable to be liberated, they all became liberated.  It might have been around that time that I developed an interest in embroidery and lace.  Now probably not because I was contrary, but because I THINK I had finally outgrown the sensory issues that made anything like that difficult before around 17. (Girls outgrow them earlier than boys, who usually drag them through 19.)

It baffled me though that all of a sudden the fact I sat down and did crochet (still do) or embroidery while reading was viewed as as bad as the fact I read science fiction (Which was still considered crazy.)  Now I was supposed to conform by smoking (well, I did that to for a year, until my lungs told me it was a bad idea), swearing, reading intellectual books with lots of sex (like putting an urn in a picture makes it art, putting Marxism in a book makes the sex okay) and say I was never going to marry (most of those women still did.  The pose was, like the previous craft magazines and embroidered trousseau just the new way to catch a male.)

I’m obviously one of the few women who are born to be outliers (genius or moron, sometimes it depends on the day) because I could never understand why I had to conform to EITHER stereotype.  I liked wearing jeans. I had an interest in history and science fiction, and science (though for various reasons limited means of studying it) and I liked hanging out with guys who had the same interests.  I smoked, mostly to give myself something to do with my hands. I made off color jokes, because my mind works that way.  But I could control the off color around elderly relatives.  And I liked kids and wanted to have kids some day (though thoroughly convinced no man would ever marry me.)  I also wanted to have a job (even though writing was out of sight as something that would pay the bills. Not then, not in that world.)  And yeah, if I sat down in the evening to watch TV or listen to an audio book, I’d likely be embroidering or doing crochet, or painting cute animals, or… I mean, why not?

I NEVER UNDERSTOOD the “you must conform in all things.  ALL OR NOTHING.”

I still don’t.  But most people seem to function that way.  Women more than men, but people in general.  All or nothing, and adopting the “new way of being”in order to be cool (like everyone else.)

People were very shocked that young women feel COMPELLED to sleep around even if they don’t want it.  I’m not. Because the way it was promoted was “if you’re liberated you’ll sleep around. If you don’t sleep around you’re a slave of the patriarchy” i.e. you’re wrong, and dumb and you’ll stick out.

It’s apparently not working very well.  Because, you know, women in general don’t want to sleep around as much as men (some do, sure, but it’s SOME not the majority.)  Again it seems to be some deep wiring, which makes perfect sense in the days before contraceptives.  The person with two dozen children each with different fathers is going to have a hell of a time rearing them in a world red in tooth and claw where men’s superior strength is needed to hunt and defend the family.  I don’t know if anyone bothered slut shaming as such, but I know in that type of world, I’d totally have slut shamed a daughter.  For the same reason people telling me to conform, back in Portugal, weren’t wrong.

But more than that, this was true when we were apes, moving in ape bands. Without a strong male, the band got taken over by another band and the females got killed or reimpregnated, while all the juveniles were killed.

Attaching to a male is very, very deep in the female brain.  Dino brain, maybe fish brain, definitely ape brain.

Telling women they can just have sex with whomever is great, (no seriously, the minority that always wanted to should be able to, and now they don’t have to worry about having kids they don’t want. And it’s their life) but telling women they SHOULD have lots of casual sex isn’t.  It doesn’t really work for most females, but they’ll do it because it is “the new expected.”

So women do it, but hate it, and feel used, and turn against men.  And then all men are suddenly “Toxic” in their masculinity.  And now we must work on men to behave more like women.  Which btw, is going to go over like a lead balloon.  What you’re going to do is create some truly toxic males, because you’re telling them that’s what males ARE.

And we must worry about internalized patriarchy which is so powerful it’s invisible and that’s how we know it exists.

Look, males always thought more about sex than females.  And always interpreted Romance as SEX. It’s what being a man is.

It amused me because a small group of us were talking about flirting, and I loved flirting when I was young.  This is when a male friend I didn’t know at that time, but who was (I’ve seen pictures) very cute told me if I’d shown any attention to him at 17 or 19 he’d have assumed I wanted sex.  Because that’s how his brain interpreted any woman paying attention to him.  At 17 or 19 I might have been interested in him, but I wouldn’t want to SLEEP with him. Not right away. I’d want to have a relationship first.  And in this, I think I was a fairly typical teen female.

In this brave new world, women must accept when a clumsy oaf of a geek thinks that what they want is sex. They must follow through or be shamed for their lack of “liberation.”

But it’s okay because afterwards  when he doesn’t call, because to HIM he gave you what you wanted, then you can accuse him of rape.

The truth is, particularly in their approach to sex males and females are very different.  And maybe it’s a just so story, or the fact that spreading with a wide dispersion tip means a man is more likely to leave descendants while taking her love to town means a woman is less likely to rear her children.

Who knows?

Was the old normal (and for people here that would be probably two generations before me) unfair to some individuals and oppressive.  Oh, hell, yes, with bells on. I experienced it.

Is the new normal unfair and oppressive? Well, you got me there.  Oppressive yes, but at a level where people are afraid of saying they’re not free.

But mostly the new normal is crazy.  Men and women are being told they must act in this new way, which frankly is mostly bad for women and very bad for children. (Are we sure this isn’t a plot by an alien species?)

It comes from bad crazy of thinking humans are infinitely moldable.  This is the tenet at the heart of Marxism. If humans aren’t infinitely moldable, then the New Soviet Man will never emerge, and all the killing will have been in vain.

But humans aren’t infinitely moldable. Which is why no Soviet Man ever emerged from all the crazy.  Which is why what 100 years of social engineering is producing is the streets of Paris burning. And it’s a fire I’m afraid will spread. Which is why this is entirely crazy.

I don’t hanker for the days I had to buy my science fiction (or history) books like people by porn, by stealth and looking embarrassed, or for the days when reading something other than a craft mag in the train was looked at askance.

And no, I don’t think men who don’t want to engage in pissing contests (sometimes literal) should be forced to.

I always think more tolerance for outliers is a good thing. (I would, wouldn’t I? Being one.)

BUT turning society upside down and thinking making the new conformity hinge completely on a rejection of ALL of the old conformity, as though turning something upside down made it better, instead of the bad, just upside down is insane.

Societies don’t long survive by being insane.

For one, whatever the stupid song says, we’re not the world. Most of the world still adheres to the old standards. No, older than that. Yes, the ones where masculinity is indeed toxic and beating your wife on a Saturday night is just a little pleasure a man shouldn’t be denied.  The barbarians are always at the gate.  Craziness doesn’t make us better at defending ourselves.

But beyond that, deep set brain stuff that’s older than dinos will have its day. And after the revolt and the burning I’m afraid we’ll be closer to the barbarians.

That’s not what I want. I’m an outlier. I prefer a society that tolerates outliers.

Will there be one left, after the insanity burns out?

 

Do You Kipple?- by Alma Boykin

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*Sorry about guest post, but I’m trying to finish Alien Curse and release to betas. And I woke up late and have a doctor’s appointment. – SAH*

Do You Kipple?- by Alma Boykin

Asking Huns and Hoydens if they’ve ever heard of Rudyard Kipling is a bit like asking a fish if it knows how to swim. You’d get a blank look (assuming you spoke the right dialect of Fish) and a response along the lines of “Doesn’t everyone?” At some point in our lives, the majority of us were introduced, stumbled into, or discovered Kipling’s poetry, and probably his short stories. I suspect fewer of us have read his novels, with the possible exception of Kim. The Light that Failed is interesting but not as good, in my opinion. The Nauhlahka was co-written with a friend and ahm, er, is pretty terrible. Captains Courageous is pretty good.

He got me through very hard emotional times in Germany, sustained me in grad school, and if I were forced to rebuild civilization from scratch, the Authorized translation of the Bible (aka the KJV) and Rudyard Kipling’s Complete Verse would be on my short list of works to start with. I love some of his poems, I flinch from a few, and a very few make me wonder if he were having an especially bad day, or was under the influence of something especially good.

So, a question: do you recall what your first introduction to Rudyard Kipling’s work was? And what is your favorite poem or story of his?

I first met Kipling when I was five or six and my parents read the Jungle Book and Just-So Stories to me. This came after seeing the TV cartoon of “Rikki-tikki-tavi,” but before the movie of the Jungle Book. I read Kim as a teenager, once I knew enough about the Raj to understand what was going on with the Great Game.

My favorite Kipling is a lot harder to pin down. It changed over time. I locked onto “Baa baa Blacksheep” when I was a teenager and the target-of-choice for jerks in Junior High and High School. “The City of Brass” both appeals to me (when I’m angry at society) and terrifies me (because of society). Most of us know the “Gods of the Copybook Headings” at least in part, and probably mutter under our breaths on occasion, “As surely as water will wet us, as surely as fire will burn/ The Gods of the Copybook Headings/ With terror and slaughter return!”

For the wild excitement and bravado of the story, “The Ballad of East and West” ranks up there with Banjo Patterson’s “Man from Snowy River,” and I can recite large chunks of both from memory. “The Way through the Woods” and “Bridge Guard at the Karoo” both evoke nature and emotion so well, and I’ve used “Way through the Woods” to introduce the Romantic Movement to my history students, even though Kipling is not officially considered a Romantic poet. He did a lot of Romances, in the sense of heroic tales of kings and princes and warriors and last stands, but he’s not Longfellow. On the other hand, soldiers in the US and British armies (and probably others) don’t use Longfellow as teaching tools the way they use “Arithmetic on the Frontier” or “Soldiers of the Queen.” Leslie Fish’s setting of “Puck’s Song” makes me smile every time I sing it, in part because she peels back the history of Sussex in a way I love to do with other places.

Kipling’s verse is finally coming out of copyright and is becoming more available, for which I give great thanks. If you can find a copy of M. M. Kaye’s edition of Kipling, The Moon of Other Days, snatch up a copy. Her notes and the illustrations are absolutely magnificent.

So, do you Kipple?