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A Little Bit Of Promo by Free Range Oyster and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

A Little Bit Of Promo by Free Range Oyster

Alma Boykin

Golden Summer

Colplatschki Chronicles Book 10

If the spring is blighted, what does summer bring? Pjtor Adamson Svendborg, now undisputed ruler of NovRodi, will remake his land, Godown willing. But dragging his land out of the Harriers’ shadow is not easy, not when heresy and ambition combine to tear the church from within and Frankonian ambitions threaten from without.

Pjtor came young to mastery, perhaps too young, warped by his sister’s treachery. Can he learn to wait and watch, or will impatience tear down what Pjtor labored so hard to build?

On sale this weekend!

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: girls

Look How Far We’ve Come

One of the weird habits of writers is that every few years we go and get our trunk stories and read them and go “Wow, I really am better now.”

We’ve done this recently as a family (hey the family that picks scabs together stays together) and laughed heartily at some of our early stuff.  (BTW if you’re a working writer — meaning you didn’t take some long hiatus in between and you read stuff from ten years ago and say “wow, I was good” this is a bad sign.)

So it occurred to me this little cell of dissidence — or as a friend calls it, “Hoyt’s home for the tragically gifted” — needed to do the equivalent.

I “came out” of the political closet roughly five years ago.  This was done in stages, so it’s hard to pinpoint a specific date.  To be fair, I don’t think it was possible before in the sense that not only would I have been black llisted with the main stream publishing left, but also with the right, who would have viewed me as extreme and “crazy.”

In fact, when we first started out, after I’d come out of the political closet, with people saying stuff like “I couldn’t come out in mainstream publishing, or people would have never published me again.”  Or “I can’t come out because I work in Academia” we got commenters in here — not all leftist — accusing us of being paranoid and crazy.

No one can honestly say that, after the battle for Berkley, the Sad Puppies insanity in which one of the major publishing houses in the business called in favors in mass media to tar a movement with artistic and aesthetic differences as “racist, sexist, homophobic” and “trying to keep minorities and women from writing science fiction.”  Also, at various points during the kerfuffle those of us who were involved got told we’d never work/be invited to cons in this town again.  (BTW being invited to cons might seem to beginners to be part of the pomp and circumstance of being successful as a writer, but those of us to the right of Lenin — meaning we weren’t talking politics to begin with — have gotten used to surviving without big con presence, and frankly, from observing my indie sales, I’m not sure cons were ever useful for sales, unless you were front and center on the demographic that attends cons.  Since I’m aiming for younger readers that don’t have a lot of time for non-paying activities… meh.)

What if I’d decided to say that the left would weaponize the IRS and other governmental departments?  Well, in 2011 we might still be called crazy.  After Lois Lerner not so much.

What about when we said things like the Clintons being corrupt?  Well, back in 2010/11 a lot of people were still talking about what great Americans the Clintons were, and how the only reason the Republicans didn’t like Billy Jeff was his peccadilloes.  But the election in 2016 — despite all the vari-colored hairs sporting Hillary t-shirts — proved that most people don’t buy their innocent act.  Despite all the mass-media burnishing of their image and their “achievements” enough tarnishing information has come out, that no one buys it anymore.

How about that global warming, eh?  Yeah, I know.  In 2010 at a company dinner for a friend’s job, we spoke in hushed tones about how it had some flaws.  Now most people roll their eyes at the media when they push this crap, and the more alert have started to say “so, it’s climate change now?  Why do you keep changing names like a bad Chinese restaurant?”

What about some of my “kookier” ideas like that world population is not as big as I think it is, and that there is no possible way to tell how big it actually is, since even in the US — which has, arguably one of the most reliable censuses in the world, we “estimate” people and “count uncountable population” and other political ways to inflate population.  (Much less in the countries which receive international aid per-capita.)  Well, when I first mentioned it in passing, here, my comments were full of “no, no, we know exactly how many people there are, and the world population is climbing terrifyingly.”  Now I can say that we don’t know how big the world population is but that it doesn’t seem to be as big as we’ve been told, ON PJMEDIA and the comments don’t yell at me for being paranoid.

What about having a general doubt of things reported in one of the Mass Media outlets?  Sure in our councils, as it were, we’ve made fun of MSM all along, but people used to assume if the NYT said it there was some fire beneath the smoke.

Yeah, after Russian pee pee gate and the determined attempts to NOT report on Hillary’s multiple liabilities  That is gone, baby, gone.  In fact, it was people at large attaching “fake news” to the MSM that caused MSM to try to walk back this cute meme they’d started.  (too late.)

Then there was their attempt to Mau Mau (Mao Mao) the rest of the US with the idea that every white person was racist, the police was hunting for black men, and BLM were going to burn our cities until we admitted our guilt.  Then there was their screaming about global warming, while jetting around the world.  Oh, and let’s not forget Occupy Wall Street, which, in each of our cities translated to “crazy half dozen and clearly dangerous homeless people standing on the corner being crazy” while the MSM treated it as a respectable movement.

Oh, and let us not forget “Summer of Recovery.”  Which the unemployed read amid shuttered store fronts and thought “that’s funny.”

There are a ton more examples.  It’s Saturday morning, and I’m not awake enough to list them all.  So, I’ll let you hunt them down.

How did we get here from where we were 5 or even 6 years ago, where the left commanded the heights of culture, moved the overton window at their pleasure, and were considered “sane” and “mainstream”?  Well, it was a bit of this and a bit of that.

First of all it was the fact that when Obama got reelected despite a — charitably — lack luster and uncharitably bizarrely disastrous (in economy, in world prestige, in pretty much everything) first term, the left thought it would never lose again.  So they leaned way out the Overton Window and REACHED for what they thought was within their easy grasp.

Second there was the New Media and the fact that everyone has a camera on their phone.  You do realize that in the 70s we all — not just the crazy and biased left — would believe “hands up, don’t shoot” right?  And that Antifa were pure-halo-knights of the resistance, right?  But alas the man on the street can now record masked thugs bashing women’s faces in, and the halo is tarnished forever, no matter how much the MSM tries to burnish it.

Third, there is the development of what I’d call “right wing talk backers.” and a right wing culture.  Indie publishing has allowed a bunch of leans-libertarian (and right) authors to self-publish.  Yeah, a lot of them are awful, but not all.  And you can’t hide the ones who aren’t.  And that means those of us who used to swallow the left politics with our entertainment because it was the only game in town no longer have to.  Which means that the mass-industrial-entertainment complex is losing money.  (And just you wait till our people take the movies!)

The leftist and dysfunctional view of the world can only persist while it’s unopposed.  Now, it’s not.  Now it has a million dissident, not particularly organized voices talking back to it.

Recently, an episode of Right Angle at https://www.billwhittle.com/ talked about how 1984 might be impossible with the level of communications and internet we have NOW.  I think they’re right, because to make the world of DST (first written in 1998) fly, I had to add in a disabling of the internet and peer-to-group communications.

And that’s my scattered Saturday morning thoughts.

The election of 2016, with a not terribly appealing anti-left (we can’t call him right) candidate wouldn’t have gone the way it did if tuning out the leftist entertainment/news/intellectual complex hadn’t become the norm.

The left wouldn’t be running for safe rooms and complaining of trigger words if they were still in control.

More importantly they wouldn’t have tried some of the crazy gambits they’ve tried, in terms of telling us to believe their words over our lying eyes (really, Don Junior violating his “oath of citizenship”? REALLY?) if they weren’t in a panic.

Ride right through them, boys.  They’re demoralized as hell.

In the end we win, they lose.  And we’ve come a lot further towards it than I bet you realized.

 

 

 

 

On Net Neutrality – Jeb Kinnison

On Net Neutrality – Jeb Kinnison

You have probably seen some net neutrality scare tactics recently. The issues are complex and proposals to “guarantee” net neutrality usually promise to protect Internet users from a variety of evil ISP behaviors by authorizing the FCC to treat the Internet as a common carrier / utility, with powers to regulate and tariff (that is, price control) services. As is usually the case when powerful business and political interests are involved, the spin obscures more than clarifies.

First, let’s look at a reasonably neutral outline of the issues, from Open Secrets:

Net neutrality is the principle that all data on the Internet should be treated equally, not discriminated against based on platform, content, user or any other characteristic; ISPs may not create pay-to-play “fast lanes” that only some content providers could afford. Sounds simple enough, but the application of this axiom is technically and legally complex given the immense, intertwined — and sometimes competing — interests of ISPs, governments, and consumers in Internet industries and infrastructures

Debate over net neutrality in the U.S. has picked up in recent years, but it’s been an issue of worldwide contention since the early 2000’s. The US government has attempted to implement various strategies for regulation over this timeframe with little success. Net neutrality supporters believe that the government hasn’t gone far enough to protect individual freedom and security on the Internet; opponents fear that government intervention will hamper innovation and investment while increasing the costs of getting online.

Much of the recent debate has centered on the concept of paid prioritization. ISPs, such as Comcast, want content providers to pay them to deliver data faster. The ISPs claim that allowing these fast lanes is the only way they’ll be able to manage data efficiently and generate revenue to expand and improve Internet infrastructure. Opponents of paid prioritization, including content providers like Netflix and Amazon, assert that this kind of data discrimination will stifle the growth of fledgling companies that cannot pay to compete with developed corporations in the fast lanes. Advocates on both sides of the issue believe that additional costs will be absorbed by customers if their adversaries prevail. Paid prioritization is only a part of the Net Neutrality issue, but it has become the most prominent aspect of the public discussion.

By voting in February to regulate broadband communications like a utility under Title II of the Communications Act, the FCC effectively prohibited paid prioritization. The Title II statute prohibits “common carriers,” which ISPs are now considered, from creating “any unjust or unreasonable discrimination in charges, practices, classifications, regulations, facilities, or services.” Similar common carrier laws have been used to regulate monopolistic markets like the telephone and railroad industries. Additionally, Title II imbues the FCC with the authority to investigate any consumer complaints in the Internet market and requires privacy and fair use assurances from ISPs. Net neutrality supporters rejoiced at this decision, but opponents are not settling for defeat: Congressional attempts to reign in the FCC’s authority over broadband have commenced as the first wave of telecom litigation arrives

Furthermore, some proponents of net neutrality like Google worry that the broad Title II classification may promote unintended consequences that raise costs. This is because Title II, an expansive set of regulations, permits the FCC to impose tariffs and other forms of rate regulation that are looked upon unfavorably by the private sector. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has vowed to selectively enforce Title II authority in an attempt to minimize costs and negative externalities, but such assurances have not assuaged the concerns of those embroiled in the debate.

Proponents of net neutrality regulation emphasize fear that ISPs will abuse their customers by using their power over what is delivered to discriminate against content — in its simplest form, the fear that the sites *you* want to see and paid to access will be slowed in favor of others. ISPs are widely resented in much of the US where local municipalities — authorized by Federal law to allow only one cable TV company to operate in their territory — restrict entry of wired Internet competitors, leaving the average US citizen dependent on 1.5 broadband Internet providers, usually the incumbent cable TV operator along with a few less competitive alternatives like DSL from remaining telephone carriers. You are stuck with one company, and as a result the company is unresponsive, the standard model for a regulated monopoly utility, and gets a better return on money spent lobbying its regulators and buying political influence than it does from spending to satisfy customers.

No one is suffering from differential slowdowns at the moment — though many suffer from lower speeds and higher monthly bills due to lack of consumer choice. Because most have no alternative, cable companies can milk their customers and make high profits while failing to invest in new equipment and network capacity. Until recently these companies were generating so much cash on cable TV that they were able to reinvest in content providers by buying up TV networks, cable channels, publishing houses, and newspapers. So today we have Time Warner, soon to be swallowed by Verizon (which originated as a rollup of old Bell System companies), Comcast (which now owns NBC-Universal and its cable channels (including MSNBC, CNBC, USA Network, NBCSN, E!, and The Weather Channel), Charter-Spectrum-Brighthouse, Cox, and so on.

The giant and most hated of these is Comcast, with its reputation for unresponsive, DMV-like service, constantly rising prices, and occasional abuses of power to favor their own content over competitors’. Comcast is maneuvering to get net neutrality regulation tailored to its interests — this would prevent other ISPs from charging for access to its content, while allowing it to provide better service and access for its own services within its dominant network.

On the other side are major content providers who want a net neutrality that bars ISPs for charging them extra to guarantee quality of service (QoS) for their customers. Netflix, for example, is paid by customers by the month, and those customers suck huge amounts of streaming data through the system to their homes; if that data bogs down the network, ISPs either have to spend money on new capacity and charge non-Netflix users for it, or control use by capping data use or speed. While metering data and charging both originators and receivers for it at a very low rate might be the closest to economic fairness, asking big data sellers like Netflix, Amazon, and Google to pay something for their use is at least approximately fair. Of course these companies don’t want to pay unless all of their competitors (especially the in-house content generators of the ISPs) are required to.

So the big campaign to scare you into supporting the latest generation of net neutrality regulation is really a fight between big media and ISP companies to keep their own margins high and competitors weak. Notice the real underlying problem for consumers — limited choice of ISPs and local monopolies — isn’t addressed at all. Nearly every legislator at federal, state, and local levels gets some campaign funding from the media and ISP giants (as well as flattering news coverage that is a major advantage for incumbents), and by finding problems only where the big donors want them to look, they keep voters from understanding where the real problem is. This is much like the current battle to “repeal and replace” the ACA, which carefully neglects to address the biggest underlying problem, the cost and limited availability of medical services and treatments due to overregulation and cartelization of supply.

In the long run, beyond 5 years, technology will eliminate the local cable monopolies — wireless 5G and beyond will provide broadband data service in most locations at a reasonable cost. Google fiber rollouts have stopped and most companies with fiber optic ambitions have decided to scrap new installations as the high costs would have to be written off in a short time, which is why Verizon FIOS, a winning product where it was allowed to compete with coax-based cable TV, was never fully installed where authorized and has been sold off to other companies.

The giants are competing for advantage in a future marketplace by promoting regulation that benefits them or reduces competition. But in their focus on their interests, they are opening the door for broader FCC regulation of the Internet, which in the long run could be applied to wireless and as well and result in constant political warfare and control of what you see and hear. The excuse for FCC regulation in the New Deal era was to prevent a kind of Tragedy of the Commons in radio and television — since there was limited spectrum for signals and laissez-faire broadcasting would ruin it for everyone, Congress declared the spectrum a public resource, then promptly turned it into a property right by handing it out for free to TV and radio stations connected to the powerful (see, for example, how Lady Bird Johnson made LBJ a multimillionaire by using his political pull to get TV licenses.) FCC control came with regulations of content and suppression of minority political viewpoints, something many party politicians would like to see return. Already the incumbent social media giants like Facebook and Twitter are suppressing “dangerous” views, and countries like China are suppressing Internet speech to continue their control of public discourse. Even a small step in that direction like the current net neutrality proposals is dangerous.

Free people don’t need protection; they need freedom to change providers. Start by opening up competition in ISP services so any abuse can be dealt with by going with someone else. Don’t give unelected government regulators control of your feed.

Jeb Kinnison wrote the Substrate Wars science fiction series and most recently Death by HR, how HR departments became the arm of government reaching inside companies to enforce politicized hiring policies at the expense of merit. See: SubstrateWars.com and JebKinnison.com.

Earth Needs Women a blast from the past of November 2010

Earth Needs Women a blast from the past of November 2010

 

No, this is not the obligatory ecological post. Today, in the car on the way from dinner (not cooking at Thanksgiving is logical when you have only four people – five with our friend/honorary uncle to the kids) I was talking to the kids about a book I read when I was maybe 12/13.

This book – whose name I (unfortunately) can’t remember – came amid a trio of “fairytale books.” At twelve or so, I decided that I hadn’t read enough fairytales and was trying to round out my education. This one looked like a nineteenth century book with woodcuts, was written by some unknown Portuguese author and the title was something like “the foundling.”

It started with a baby girl found abandoned in a forest. She’s taken in by an older woman who gathers wood and who makes a good – if unloving – foster mother.

Half-bored, I felt I knew where this was going, but continued reading, expecting the more or less obligatory hidden princess story.

I was wrong. Though I no longer remember the details of the book – yes, I read it a good hundred times, as it became one of my favorites, but it was a long time ago and memory gets blunted – I know that the parentage of the girl is never revealed. The old woman dies, the girl is turned out of the house, she ends up working as a maid and some other menial jobs. Her work ethic and (what my friend Dave Freer calls) battler spirit get her through. She helps an old lady who is dying and whom no one looks after and, in return, is given an old book of recipes.

She starts her own little business selling cakes and pastries at fairs and meets a young man of very good family who – however – does not marry her because of course, she’s a foundling of unknown parentage. Eventually her little business becomes a successful pastry shop and later she meets another young man, a pastry chef, and this time it all works out and they marry and have a happy family and a successful business.

If you’d asked me at twelve, I’d have told you I had no idea why the story charmed me as it did. I only knew I liked re-reading it and it became one of my favorite books. It felt good and somehow “right” in a way that fairytales and romances didn’t.

Today, when I telling the kids about it, I realized why. It was because the character was a strong woman. Born with the ultimate disadvantage, the ultimate lack of support, she doesn’t – like fairytale princesses – either get rescued by a strong knight nor even by fate that reveals her to be a hidden princess. Also, she never complains; she never repines – she takes the situation she finds herself in and makes the best out of it, all the while looking out for those who are weaker or in more need than her. This last characteristic nets her the all-important recipe book (supposedly created by a medieval convent, which rings true for Portugal, and lost for centuries.) When her romance doesn’t work because her very conventional suitor wants a girl of suitable family, she doesn’t go into a decline, she just goes on with life.

She is, in fact, what editors so often say they want “a strong woman heroine, self sufficient, a good role model for growing girls.” Only, from my observation and reading, by this they usually mean mouthy, aggressive, foolhardy and complains a lot about men till one wonders if said character has an issue with being born female. There are exceptions, of course, but complaining about fate and men and being bitter seems to be obligatory.

And yet, it is true that this type of character is not only a great role model for young women, she is the type of role model we do need. Earth needs women (yes, and men, but we’re talking women here) who take care of the weak and helpless. Earth needs women who don’t whine. Earth needs women who cheerfully shoulder the burden of what needs to be done.

Earth does not need women who complain about men all the while neurotically obsessing on clothes and jewelry to attract said men and pursuing the highest-status males they can possibly get. There is nothing wrong with these activities, in moderation, but when they become the focus of existence they create a generation of infantile harpies. Now, I don’t think any women in real life are as bad as that, but almost all women characters in books and movies are just like that.

Young women who read/watch these characters end up feeling they must APPEAR like them or they’ll be thought weak. And this is wrong. Strength in women – and men – can be defined not as throwing weight around but in doing what must be done for oneself and those who depend on one.

Earth needs grown up women.

I very much hate to tell people what to do, much less what to be, but I wish we could set about writing – and living – role models for the women Earth needs.

We Don’t Need No Thought Control

It never fails.  Someone gets in a discussion (yes, on Facebook. Where else? It’s where the fossilized stupidity of ages past has come to die and decay, forming a substratum not unlike oil, but far less useful.  Well, unless you’re a blogger in need of post ideas.) about some of the latest misdeeds of the press, like say CNN’s bizarre pivot from all Russia all the Time to threatening posters for funny memes (Yes, of course I can barely resist the GIF posts when I see that.  Unfortunately they take more time than writing.) and someone comes on and laments the days when the media was “objective.”

This is when I’d dent my desk with my head, except I have one of those standing desks that’s made of plastic which pops right back up.  Good thing too.

I too would love the mythical times when kings were just, ordained by G-d and pulled the sword from the stone.  They are as real as the days of “honest” media.

Look, take it from someone who went through journalistic training.  EVERY good journalist (a minority as in all other professions) TRIES to be unbiased.  This is relatively (but only relatively) easy when writing about the incident on first and main where a dog bit a man.  It is far less convenient/easy when writing about a politician who embezzled something.  And since politics touches everything these days, the result of the media’s obsession with makign the personal political, it’s becoming impossible to report ANYTHING objectively, including the dog/man incident.  I mean, do you want to get mobbed by PETA? What about people who love leash laws/  What about the lobby to eliminate pit bulls?

Having training in journalism, and friends in the profession, I can tell you those “great” long ago times when all newspapers spoke with a unified voice, the narrative made sense and “everyone agreed” on what was sane and sensible, were anything but bipartisan, or impartial.

What they were was UNIFIED and totalitarian, in the sense that your entire media experience came from a very small number of people, who mutually vetted each other, and who had all been educated in the same colleges and believed the same things.

Two of the things most of them believed was that the purpose of journalism was to improve the world (not just to report news) by leading people in the direction of justice and peace, and all that good stuff that progressivism promised (but never delivers.)

In the days where to reach an audience you needed a newspaper gig, to step out of that line got you labelled a bad person or a right wing extremist with the same fervor that a gonzo group of women, men, all colors and shapes, and very definitely libertarian, if anything got labeled nazis, white supremacists and sexist and homophobic by the national press, when they dared question the holy science fiction zeitgeist.

So no one did.

I will not go into the several media misdeeds from that time of “unified” opinion.  Ask any veteran about the Tet Offensive and the Vietnam betrayal by the media.

I’m simply going to say, like Heinlein did, at about my age, that I’ve never seen any event I was witness to reported with ANY degree of accuracy.  In fact, often they are completely and insanely wrong.  But the report fits the left wing “narrative” in which they are good and moral so there’s that.

Prior to the industrial era, and the unification of newspapers and the distribution of some of those throughout the nation, shaping the opinion of all the smaller wanna bes, media was gloriously, loudly, obviously biased.

Stands to reason. Being humans we can’t hope for “no bias.”  No, listen to me, it’s impossible.  My husband and I are as close as two human beings can be, and have been married for over 30 years.  Yet if we both witness something and describe it, our different backgrounds and natures come to the fore.

So pre-mass-communications, each newspaper had its slant.  And readers could choose to read in their comfort zone or out of it.

In the end, though, they knew what slant the paper had, which is the next best thing to the impossible “unbiased.”  You can then discount the slant if you wish.

The new media is taking us there again, and it’s a beautiful thing.  It means that dissident voices can be heard again, and those in positions of power have to be afraid of public opinion, even if they are anointed “progressives.”  It’s the only thing that keeps the progressives in check.

Stop lamenting the days of “objective” news reporting.  There was never any such thing.  There was “unified” news reporting, which is almost for sure a give away that someone is playing with it.  There is no such thing as an unbiased human being.  There never was, there never will be.

Revel in the multitude of voices and perspectives.  It means you’re more likely to be able to find out the truth.

 

Poor Darlings

You know what?  I’m sick and tired of whining brats.

And if you’re looking at me, just now and wondering what I’m talking about since the sons are 26 and 22, you haven’t been reading newspapers, or even doing an unprotected turn of Facebook, beyond the confines of the friends you trust not to be completely insane.  Because it’s a crying, whining, feet kicking fest out there.

The proximate cause of their insanity is obvious: their chosen candidate didn’t win.  Not that they knew much about the candidate, mind you.  But they were told that she was wonderful and would bring ice cream, and give them everything they wanted.  So, like all children who have been denied candy, they’re metaphorically speaking on the floor, kicking arms and feet and holding their breath.

How is this different from what we did when Obama won?  Oh, it’s markedly different.  The thought process and attitude is different.  We knew what was in Obama’s head — the crazy Gramscian cant taught in all the best schools — the strange idea that by bringing down America the world would prosper.  And we’ve been proven more than right to be afraid of what he would do, if you look at the dog’s breakfast he’s made of international politics, of the economy and of culture in general.  We were afraid of what he’d do, and we prepared in our way to take the impact.  Many of us retrenched and retrenched and retrenched again, in our financial and professional lives and therefore suffered less than could be expected if we hadn’t.  Others for the first time in their lives took to the streets, in what the tea party used to be: a movement of the taxed-enough-already.

Note that there was no property destruction, no shooting of representatives, no long-sustained, breath-held screaming from all quarters, and certainly no sanctimonious signs in front of our houses saying we’d joined the “resistance.”  We had, honestly, but we’d done so long ago, most of us before Clinton even.  We’d seen through the veneer of compassion of the left to the chasm of crazy beneath, and we’d realized what they aimed at was nothing less than the destruction of western civilization.

It’s not what they think they’re doing.  Like deluded missionaries for a doomsday cult, they think they’re fighting for paradise.  Of which more later, and which is why you should pity them.  But it is what they’re doing: biting the hand that feeds them, pulling up the planks from under their own feet, generally making it impossible for the prosperity they were born to to exist.  And in the process taking us down too.  So we’ve been resisting.  For a long time we resisted inside our own heads, then we resisted in our friends’ group, in our tiny blogs, in our news reading and oh, very much in our voting.

What we didn’t do is put up big signs in our yards and throwing noisy fits.  Why not?  Because we’re not spoiled children.  If we screamed, cried and held our breath, we’d just get pulled along by our arms.

The entire society is a machine for patting the back of “progressives” and tell them how great they are.

It was organized that way by those in power: progressives.

It’s not what they MEANT to do.  Or at least not what their ancestors meant to do.  Back in the early twentieth century, when “scientific” everything was shiny and chrome, they were “scientific” governance.  All that bs about semantics, and psychology as a hard science you find in early Heinlein books?  Yep, that was loose in society at large.  We were going to deconstruct the “machines” that were humans, and from that organize society so “scientifically” it would be a paradise.

You still find that a lot in really early science fiction, together with the righteous indignation of “smart” people who knew they were right and couldn’t understand why people weren’t listening to Marx, a smart person, who was “obviously” right.

Of course, the reason they weren’t listening to him was that the little angry ink blot, stewing in his own juices in the library, had no clue what he was talking about.  The injustices that outraged them were already naturally mitigating, by the time he was writing about them.  He didn’t know distribution from a hole in his elbow, so his economic system would always end up delivering a million baby shoes for the left foot only, and his idea that without indoctrination people would naturally have free-love and no families was one of those ideas so stupid you have to be massively smart (and taught to ignore reality) to come up with.

So the bright men and women who embraced Marxism for all things, particularly as a cure-all to the “greed” and “hatred” that had led to world war one were destined to be disappointed.  The working class they counted on to destroy the system were by and large sane people, with their heads on tight.  They knew that, harsh as the industrial revolution jobs were, they were better than looking at the South end of a Northbound mule or the other “earthy” jobs available back on the farm.  And they knew that things were getting better, already.  And they had ambitions, which didn’t involve giving jumped up intellectuals the right to dictate their lives.

So the left turned to deconstructing the society they lived in in terms of “oppressed classes” and pointing out that we weren’t perfect.  For a while, they had their pattern of perfection, the Soviet Union.  Those of us who took the trouble knew how bad things were in all the communist countries (guys, seriously, healthy countries build walls to keep interlopers out (even if those can be ineffective when it’s an armed invasion) they don’t build walls to keep their citizens IN.  They don’t shoot people trying to escape.  There is a name for that yes.  The name is “prison.”)  Then it fell and revealed itself for what it had always been, a cesspool of misery and oppression.

Which brings us to why you should pity the left (even while refusing to give in to them)

Why?  Because where they’ve gone since then, makes it perfectly clear who they are.  The current left is not the defender of the working man.  Hell, they’re not even the defender of those they claim to defend: women, minorities, etc.

What they really are are the spoiled brats all of us know from kindergarten.

You know the ones as well as I do.  They’re the ones who, when told they can’t have the third cookie, when all other kids were given one, tell you how you oppressed little Timmy last week by not giving him a cookie (even though Timmy’s mother as him marked down as gluten intolerant) and how you don’t show pretty pictures to Heather (who is blind) and how you don’t speak Serbian with the twins who are just arrived from Serbia and so aren’t fair to them.  The brat is going to hold his/her breath and/or scream until you correct all these injustices.

Half the time, given the brat being loud enough, other kids, intimidated by them, or thinking that it’s logical that you should be all things to all people, will back the brat up.  Faced with rebellion, the kindergarten teacher who is not paid enough for this, and just wants to get on with teaching the colors, will give the brat another cookie.  And then the brat will shut up, because that’s what he/she really wants. And then more kids will side with the brat, because they want extra cookies.

That is the left in a nutshell.  They are spoiled brats, eternally hiding behind their causes, when all they really want is more power and control, and even though it’s been proven that when they’re given any power, their causes (and everyone) lose.  Which tracks with the metaphor.  How many of us knew those brats growing up?  How many have gone on to be happy, fulfilled human beings, without some great bit come-to-Jesus moment?

I can’t think of any, honestly.

Which is why we must be the left’s come-to-Jesus moment.  We need to confront their nonsense and their hypocrisy.  We need to return their insults at their level “we know you are, but what are we” should be about right, since these are the privileged accusing us of privilege, the tyrants accusing us of wanting to put them in camps, the straight-up nazis calling themselves anti-fascist.

The one thing the spoiled brats need is “No.”  Say it often enough and loud enough, and they might eventually realize their tactics aren’t working.

And if they call you privileged tell them they’re right: Damn right you’re privileged.  You’re privileged to have had to dig behind the barrage of lies of the mass-industrial-communications-complex for the truth; you’re privileged to have had to work twice as hard, because the teachers to whom you didn’t virtue-signal in the left way never gave you a pass, you’re privilege to be shut out of a bunch of careers in fields dominated by the left, you’re privileged to be held guilty for things that happened before you were even a glimmer in your great-grandfather’s eye.

You’re privileged because all of this broke you out of the futile counting of “victimhood points” as it’s taught in schools today, and forced you to learn real things, work at being smarter, and faster and more resilient.  You’re privileged because you live in a time when you can use the internet and know for a fact you’re not alone.  You’re privileged because your thought isn’t cluttered with a bunch of nonsense put there by highly paid spoiled brats.

Most of all you’re privileged because you can work and create and all the spoiled brats can do is take over an institution or an industry, gut it, then wear the skin demanding respect.

You’re privileged because if we ignore the screaming brats and just go around working and building and being happy (man, they really CAN’T stand THAT) they have no power over us.

In the end, we win, they lose.  And that’s why we’re privileged.  The poor spoiled darlings never had the privilege of being told no and don’t know how to take being laughed at or even being argued with.  They need safe rooms, and for everyone to avoid the trigger words, and stop making them cry.  Because they’re not prepared to cry.  They were never told no.  And if they hold their breath and stomp their feet and come up with JUST THE RIGHT WORDS, we’ll give them what they want, won’t we?  It’s always happened before.

Pity the poor darlings.  They are only that which passes.

 

 

Rolling Up Your Sleeves

Yesterday I was talking to one of my younger mentees about a reading list I intend to drop on her.  She was half joking when she asked if I also could give her some time.

Look, I get it.  She has a full time job and is trying to break into writing.  In fact, part of the reason for my interest in her is that of everyone I’ve taught ever she’s putting out more work in less time than… well, than anyone but me.  And only me when I’m not fighting illness or depression.

I get completely how tired you can get.

Weirdly, I was also talking to a successful peer yesterday.  He’s just slightly older than I, and he was talking about how every year he gets busier and has less energy.

In my experience, this has been my story, too.  If I could have the work I have today, with the energy of my twenties, I’d be fine.  Unfortunately life doesn’t work that way.  And adults buckle up and do what they must (which neither my mentee nor my friend were arguing against, btw.)

However, I think a lot of this is embedded in the current ethos of “that’s not fair.”

Look, like has never been fair.  EVER.  Granted, for some and at some times, it’s more unfair than others. Right now, a lot of people are working more than they should have to, partly because of the socialist illusions that have controlled government for over 100 years (yes, even when Republicans are in power.)

Expensive government means it sucks the vitality out of the economy, makes it harder for the young to start careers (and demands they have more and more expensive and often useless education) and makes it harder to retire with any semblance of comfort.  So my older friends are still all working: often working like crazy at five or six jobs, because ageism means they aren’t easy hires particularly in tech fields.  And my younger friends are struggling to break in, and be paid, well… anything, since particularly in the “liberal” industries interns are supposed to work for nothing, even as their bosses agitate for a higher minimum wage.

None of this is fair.  It really isn’t.  Earlier generations had it easier.  Yes, sure, most of mine went through the hell of rotating temp jobs before we found our path, but at least it wasn’t being unemployed and held out.

… but life isn’t fair.  As long as you understand this, you’ll be all right.

Our monkey brains have this illusion of “fair” and that things should be evenly distributed or whatever.  It comes from this being a good way to keep a simian band happy and fed.

But society and life in general aren’t a simian band.

And some people will always have it harder.  That’s okay.  With great hardship comes great opportunity.

One of the disheartening things when I visited Porto last year was the “arts and crafts.”  Look, the city has gone touristic, and makes good money, good for it.  The fact it obliterated the places I liked is neither here nor there.  The city owes me nothing.

The disheartening thing is that tourist shop after tourist shop sold practically the same things (which a high ration of pseudo-folk penis and vaginas in various uses.  Probably because they sell well to Germans, in chess sets, and folk scenes, all of it done in lumpy clay, of course.)

The reason this was disheartening is that I remember the seventies.  Most people in my brother’s generation left school with degrees and there simply were NO jobs.  So many if not most of them took up doing something.  Most of them were UNLICENSED vendors on the street (it was a treat watching them pick up stakes as the police approached.)  Their sales were unlicensed, and unsanctioned.  But the thing is walking down the streets where they clustered, there was an immense variety of arts and crafts, most of them looking REALLY polished, (not lumpy clay) and really creative.

One of my brother’s friends made (unlicensed, natch) drawings of Disney characters, and wrote little motivational things at the bottom, for people’s birthdays and stuff.  He was always backed up on orders.  Another painted scenes in glass, from little ones used as desk ornaments, to wall or window ones.  Sold on the streets.  Others did everything from painted rocks (many, many in the beach, and I wish I’d then known the trick of painting them to look like animals.  Could have cleaned up.  Sleeping dragons or something.)  Others made hanging figures in balsa wood.  Picture frames (I still have some) in leather and wood. Stuffed animals (I might yet revive my business in lucky frogs ;)), jackets.  Jewelry, from the conventional beads, to this guy who made earrings of tiny flowers embedded in resin drops. You name it, they did it, and the inventiveness was amazing.

Now, none of these people were in art school.  Most of them were engineers of some stripe.  Were they making crazy money from these odd jobs?  Well, no.  Particularly because the city wasn’t particularly touristic back then.  But many were making car/gas/apartment money, as opposed to staying in mom and dad’s house, in eternal childhood.

And the products were good and filled a niche.  Of course they were also untaxed, for obvious reasons.  And of course it wasn’t an ideal situation.

But it was very much making lemonade out of lemons.

In 2008 I remember Jerry Pournelle writing an article that said something like: if you’re unemployed and can’t find work, DO SOMETHING.  Find something you can make and sell or do and get paid for.  Find a niche and fill it.  And if you can’t find that, then clean.  Make things really clean.  Because when you find a job/get to work, you won’t have time to clean like that.

He was right, you know?

If you let go of the idea that life is fair, or should take a prescribed course, or that your degree “entitles” you to this or that, or that government should take care of you, you can accomplish great things.

As you let go of the “expected” your eyes open to “possibilities.”  This might be a great main chance, or “Multiple, tiny streams of income.” (Lucky frogs!)

But whatever you do, brace yourself.  The way things are right now, we both have to pay for the illusions of the past, and to build on the quicksand of fast changing tech.

Yes, our generations (the one before me, mine, the one after me) might have it harder than most because we, by definition, life in interesting times.

Did someone promise you a rose garden?  Well, they were lying.

It’s going to take sweat, tears and toil to right this ship and maybe make it easier for our grandkids.  Particularly toil.

Open your eyes.  Then roll up your sleeves.

No one said it would be easy.

Build under, build over, build around.

Get started the sooner you can.  You’ll have more energy.  And the work will only get heavier with time.

But, hey, you’ll never be bored.

Now go to it.

The Oyster Returns to Promo Town & Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

The Oyster Returns to Promo Town

G. Scott Huggins

A Doctor to Dragons

Everyone says it was better in the Good Old Days. Before the Dark Lord covered the land in His Second Darkness.

As far as I can tell, it wasn’t that much better. Even then, everyone cheered the heroes who rode unicorns into combat against dragons, but no one ever remembered who treated the unicorns’ phosphine burns afterward. Of course, that was when dragons were something to be killed. Today I have to save one. Know what fewmets are? No? Then make a sacrifice of thanks right now to whatever gods you worship, because today I have to figure a way to get them flowing back out of the Dark Lord’s favorite dragon. Yeah, from the other end. And that’s just my most illustrious client. I’ve got orcs and trolls who might eat me and dark elf barons who might sue me if their bloodhawks and chimeras don’t pull through. And that doesn’t even consider the possibility that the old bag with the basilisk might show up.

Mary Catelli

Through A Mirror, Darkly

What lies behind a reflection?

Powers have filled the world with both heroes and villains. Helen, despite her own powers, had acquired the name Sanddollar but stayed out of the fights.

When the enigmatic chess masters create a mirrored world reflecting her own home and the world about it, it’s not so easy to escape. All the more in that the people of that world are a dark reflection of all those she knows.

RD Meyer

Akeldama

Seth Gendrickson has worked for the Catholic Church’s Order of Mount Sion since his initial encounter with a vampire during seminary years ago. Finally working his way up to the rank of Hunter, Seth’s first assignment is to investigate a spike in vampire activity in Kansas, an area previously quiet. The region between the Rocky Mountains and the Mississippi River had been a kind of neutral zone for the two main factions – The Assembly of Cairo and Los Muertos. The Assembly hails from Europe, and although few in numbers, is the older of the sects and far more powerful. Los Muertos saw opportunity in the New World, so they established themselves in the Americas and began to multiply. They are young, aggressive, and passionate.

And they’re moving east.

Seth is under orders to figure out what’s going on before an all out vampire civil war brings knowledge of such supernatural creatures into the open and causes societal panic, a situation the Church is keen to avoid. During his mission, Seth captures one of the enemy and interrogates it, but he soon finds that the movement east is less an invasion than it is an influx of refugees fleeing a greater threat. Something is hunting the vampires out west, something more terrifying than the risk of conflict. Seth tracks this threat from California to Japan and across Europe to discover the heart of a conspiracy that stretches back 2,000 years and threatens the future of the world.

Anthology

The Fantastic Flying Saucer Stories

Lights in the sky. Strange visitors. Clashes between the FBI and a mysterious group of men clad in black.
For as far back as history goes, there has been one unanswered question that just won’t seem to go away: What are those unidentifiable flying objects in the sky? And furthermore, who are they?

With stories spanning the past, present and future, this anthology focuses on this question that has made Science-Fiction great for the better part of a century. Enclosed in this book are stories of survival, as children under the care of a church group rebel against authorities in hopes of reuniting with their family, as well as tales of friendship, as a hunting instructor finds his strange visitors to be not quite so fearsome as the town thinks they might be. Tales of simple curiosity are found here too, as a young couple set up recording equipment in hopes of finding answers, and learn that just maybe this abduction business isn’t for everyone.

Jon M. Jefferson

The Black Medallion

In an age of steam, the world is divided by the power of aether and the shapers who can pull power from crystals. Little magics define the course of lives for those who can use them and those who can not.

Tisdan Thinkledor, a thief from lowtown has never thought of the politics or games played by those in power. His days have been planned from the next purse he can cut to the next mark to be tagged. A life led from station to station along the path of the trains that connect the lives within the city.

Sometimes, it is the little things that change the world around you. A matter of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, can change the future.

Henry Vogel

The Recognition Run

Recognition Book 1

Jeanine is on the run from someone very powerful. She doesn’t know who wants her dead, or why. She only knows they have already killed her family, and if they catch her, she’s next.

Drake’s family was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Now, he drifts from spaceport to spaceport, searching for cargo and running from the grief he can never escape. When Jeanine barrels into Drake’s life, he must push aside his grief and run with her.

But time is not their ally. When they cannot run from their enemies, Jeanine’s and Drake’s only hope is to run toward those enemies. Their only hope is to make The Recognition Run.

 

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: rotten

The Writer is in a State

I should be writing a real post, I should, but I’m still in the con crud preventing portion of our program.  So far so good, but I think it requires a lot of laid-back rest or at least not fretting right after an exhausting con.

And I’ve only been able to do that a little, seeing as I’m working on Guardian (as fast as I can.  No, you can’t see it yet.) and finishing 4th Dyce, and writing for PJmedia (just corralled the rest of the ideas for this month at breakfast.  Unless something massively important happens in the news in the next few weeks, I have a few topics.  Often, after writing blog and fiction, I just find myself empty of topics for PJM.  This is a way to stop it happening.)   We also celebrated older son’s birthday.  (Really? That old? I’m officially scared.)

So right now I’m taking it easy.  This afternoon I’ll be getting together with local Huns at Pete’s Kitchen in Denver.  If you can’t find out when from tom tom de Hun, and want to attend, ping me or email me. For those of you who insist on reading everything I write for other sites, I had a new article out this week:

Being A Usaian

It is a bit of a pain in the behind to have to mollycoddle myself, but I’ve learned to make compromises with the crazy body that is trying to kill me.  So I will take it easy, have a second cup of coffee, do a bit more on Guardian, maybe do some painting, before going off to dinner.  Yes, seeing people is stressful and tiring and I’m still peopled out from Liberty con.  No, I won’t avoid it when it comes to meeting you guys.  Yes, this is a monthly event but USUALLY the first Saturday.  Not this week, only because we were at Liberty con first Saturday.  We’ll probably cancel September altogether for similar reasons, but the rest of the months we’ll try to make it.  Hey, I get three weekends to hide in the cave and recoup, I can have a weekend with you guys.

Coming to terms with being an introvert — something I lied to myself about for years (because I’m not as introverted as my brother —  makes it easier both to engage in human contact and to understand I need a break afterwards.

Things I need to do — I badly need an assistant — and which might or might not happen in the next week: I need to do another Grant chapter.  I’ll try for tonight, but really NO promises.  I need to do a free short story for here.  I’m totally open to suggestions.  What world do you want this one in?  I need to put some push-work behind Dyce book 4.  I need to get Guardian to 50k words (rough draft.  Larry is doing the next draft.)  I’m sure there are about a million — Oh, yeah, mailing things out.  No, I didn’t forget you guys waiting for books, t-shirts etc.  It’s just the house isn’t completely unpacked, so things get moved looking for other things, and I don’t know where some things are I need to mail (clear as mud?)

No, reminding me is not a bad thing, and I’ll really try to get it done this week.

Other things I need to do: lay down flooring on the house, but I don’t see how to start that before tomorrow.

Oh, and btw (yes, this is totally scattered.  I told you the writer is in a state.)  On that article on PJMedia, someone pinged me saying that Usaians sound like Jews.  There are commonalities, sure.  But there are significant differences, too. However, in terms of prosecution and distrust, sure.  They are.  Maybe more so, as they’re outright outlawed pretty much everywhere by the time of the Darkship Books.   And yet — coff — they persist.

As should we all, even when making allowances for the body.

Back soon with more interesting stuff.

He Worked for a Living

Sometimes I tell people I’m not an author.  I work for a living.  It might seem I’m making a joke, but I’m not.  The word author evokes for me the halls of academia, the rewards of spouting the party line, the preening and showing off of the latest intellectual fashions.  Intellectual fashions are like clothing fashions.  Some of them might suit you very well and look great on you, but you can bet most of them will look pretty awful to people in fifty years.  And yet wearing them marks you as part of the in crowd.

When you say “the author” you conjure images of someone sitting at his desk, noble brow furrowed in the act of creation.  This is someone who produces maybe a book every two or three years and cares more for the opinions of reviewers and award-givers than for how much money he makes.

You see, he doesn’t WRITE for a living.  The real reward of his writing is tenure, or a raise, or simply an increase of his status among other academics his peers.

Meanwhile writers, workaday writers are the people these “academics” sneer at.  Even those of us who are bestsellers are never really accepted by the intellectual community.  And that’s fine, because what would they do with us, or us with them?

Despite the recent invasion of science fiction by “authors” who care more about their academic standing than whether their books entertain anyone, most of the academic establishment still looks down on all writers of genre.  I’ve stopped more than once in the middle of an how-to book (the latest being a book on writing immediate fiction) because the author says if you’re one of those people writing science fiction and fantasy, or romance, or mystery, you shouldn’t be reading his book.  Your readers will read anything.  You don’t need craft.

He was wrong.  He was also a shining example of the “academic authors” who can insult their audience because their REAL audience are academics and other authors.

He was wrong, because — and I can’t find the exact quote from Heinlein — a writer, one who works for a living, has to compete for the reader’s beer money.  This changes how the writer writes and what he chooses to do, and it — I think — increases the odds that he will be read many centuries into the future and (ironically) considered a gem of literature.  Like, say, Shakespeare, who worked for the greasy pennies of London apprentices.

Somewhere, Heinlein said something about his reasons for writing.  I can’t find the d*mn quote to save my life, but when one of you does, I’ll insert it here.

It was something about first writing to feed his family, which necessitated his writing to entertain.  A distant third (or more, because there might be things I forgot) was to write to make you think.  If he failed at that, he was still being entertaining and feeding his family.

It is amusing — well, to me, but I have a dark sense of humor — that trying to seek out that quote I came across various people telling how they wrote to improve the world and — the laugh out loud moment — an essay entitled “so you want to be a college professor.”

Why this is relevant today, besides the fact that it is Heinlein’s day (Happy birthday sir, wherever you are): Yesterday on facebook, on the page of a very popular author, someone took offense to Larry being in an anthology (not me, though, d*mn it.  I must strive to be more offensive) because he wants to push all women and non whites out of science fiction.  The laughable and unsubstantiated declaration, (at war with reality, again) devolved into someone telling us how we “need” “representation” in genre fiction, because minorities are reviled and put down every day, and they need to be represented.

She is right, you know? Minorities are reviled and put down every day.  Just not the way she thinks.  What I mean is, how much more reviled and put down can you be than being told that you can’t have individual opinions, and that you must forever be a representation of the “othered” and reviled minority?  That everything you write, everything you think, your very existence are nothing more than a waving of the bloody shirt by some Marxist academic, who knows more than you do about being Latin, or black, or even a woman, the CORRECT way?

Sounds pretty reviled and oppressed to me.  In fact everyone who thinks the only “authentic” writing I can do has to do with my being reviled and oppressed is a stone-cold racist.  So is everyone who thinks you can only write what you are.

This denies the very purpose of story telling which it to allow you to be and live what you can’t be or live: to break you out of your confines and show you humanity at large.

After all, some of Shakespeare’s best characters are women.  They’ve spoken to women throughout the ages.  And if you think Shakespeare was really a woman, we’re going to have words, and you will not enjoy this.  I am not your professor.  Shakespeare wrote immortal men too.  And you will eventually grow past the pap they fed you in school.

But if you are a college professor, who is an “author” because publish or perish, there is an advantage to being conspicuous in portraying “the other”.  Correctly, of course.  Which has convinced a lot of well meaning and not particularly bright trend-followers that this is a rule of writing fiction, even — the good Lord help us — genre fiction.

Hence all the magazines and publishers, which compete with each other to “give a voice to the voiceless” thereby leading sane people to wonder how they can be voiceless when everyone gives them a megaphone.

There is nothing wrong with being “an author” or with sporting political correctness as a sort of fashion to show how good and important and “smart” you are.  I mean, it’s probably less trouble than the incredibly complex coiffures of French ladies before the revolution.  Less likely to grow physical lice at any rate.

Pretty bad for intellectual parasites, though, who carry with them the idea that writing is a sort of holy pulpit, from which you can preach to the masses who will, of course, listen in rapt attention to what you have to say, since you’re so self-obviously smart.

They won’t you know.  Or as many memes proclaim “Do you want a populist revolution? Because that’s how you get a populist revolution.”

People who work for a living will roll their eyes at your intellectual coiffures, even the six feet tall ones with the battle ship in it.  If you’re lucky, they’ll ignore you.  If you’re unlucky, that’s when madame guillotine gets fed.  Because at the end of the day, people outside your bubble know to believe their lying eyes, not what you tell them.

Which is why I’m glad I learned from Heinlein, and that he was a working man.  He grew up in unimaginable poverty.  If I grew up poor as Job, he grew up poor as Adam after the angel with the sword kicked him from the garden.  We didn’t at least ever have to fight over pillows.  Cloth was not that expensive, and we had a kapok tree in the backyard (never understood why we didn’t make pillows out of feathers, but the Kapok fruit gave us filling enough.)

But both of us come from a background of “root, hog or die.”  And I instinctively understood his command to “first feed your family.”  That means writing entertaining things.  If, after that you want to write to expound your pet theories or make people think, that’s fine.  BUT your job and your craft is all devoted to entertaining FIRST.  Because no one gave you a pulpit from which to preach to the benighted masses.  A writer earns his living and his readers one by one, beer pack money after beer pack money.

A writer writes for a living.

Keep in mind that still keeping with his mandate, Heinlein managed to counter a lot of the ideological fog of his days, and speak real truth to real power.  His inclusion of then “reviled and oppressed” (for real) minorities, like Irish, Italians and Jews and his insistence that they could be real Americans earned him problems with his publishing houses.

But he still managed to publish those books, and to carry his message, because he was FIRST OF ALL entertaining, and he sold well enough for people to allow him his oddities.  If you sell well enough FIRST people will allow you unpopular or even what they think at first are crazy notions.  And you’ll have a chance to influence them over the long run.

That is all predicated on earning their attention first, though, not in singing in the choir of their “betters” and therefore claiming authority over them.

There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.  Not for those of us who work in the vines of words and story.

Happy Heinlein Day.