Category Archives: Uncategorized

Political Animals

I was going to blame this on RES but, even though that’s usually appropriate for, well… everything, it is probably unfair. It was more that last night I had a British Mystery on, and was sitting by my laptop and … well… something happened.

So, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for…

patriarchalopossum

And because we like to be balanced here at ATH, let’s remember that:
FEMINISTBEAVER

Yes. I do actually know that this is not a beaver (do you know how hard it is to find pictures of a beaver up close and released to creative commons? WITHOUT getting… er… other things.) but SHE self-identifies as a beaver.  So get back you h8ter. She doesn’t give a dam.

However in all these politics it’s important to remember to turn up the heat on the pot slowly, else you get:

GILLETJAUNE

And then, you know, it might be you who are served.

Speaking of which, some creatures have heard of that “get rid of cows” thing, and they have something to say:

HOT AIR

And yep, this is my excuse for a post.  I have a novel to write!

I Want To Teach the World to Sing- A Blast From The Past From January 2014

animals-3293258_1920

I Want To Teach the World to Sing- A Blast From The Past From January 2014

 

When I was a kid I went through years of angst, because you see, what I wanted to do – all I wanted to do, the only work I didn’t find boring or annoying – was write, and yet I had imbued the belief that I should do something that “was socially relevant” or “contributed to society.”

In part this is why I ended up studying languages.  Yep, I was going to “foster international understanding.”  (Which of you giggled?  Have a carp!)

Do I need to go into why this was stupid?  Yes?

Look, I have nothing against believing you have something to contribute to the world beyond what the world is willing to pay you for.  If I did, I wouldn’t have done the years of soul-sucking making no money whatsoever work needed to actually get good enough at my work to make money.  Unfortunately writing is one of those things that really can’t be taught in the classroom.  Or not well.

The problem I have is with believing that you should do something that “contributes to society” beyond, you know, what people are willing to pay you for.

The reason I object to this, is that this sort of do-goodism tends to fall into the “Christmas gifts to total strangers.”  You’re giving someone things they don’t want, at great expense to yourself, and the things will just get discarded or used in ways you’ll never think of.  In the worst case scenario, in which your desire to ‘give back to society’ leads you to become a politician, you end up making laws to make people use those ‘gifts’ that you insist on giving them because you’re sure they’re good for them.  Obamacare for instance, is sort of like passing a law that forces everyone to wear the Christmas sweater knit by their aunt Peggy, the one with the odd color tastes, who is near blind and has the attention span of a hamster, so that the thing is ugly, shoddy and full of dropped stitches that start unravelling the moment you put the sweater on.

Look, first all – why do you need to give back to society?  When did you steal it?

I’m not saying that the fact we live in a civilized society isn’t a great boon.  (Though becoming less of one as… never mind) I’m not saying we all don’t make use of the various inventions since fire, or that I’m not grateful that people with more engineering skill than I have made things like this here computer I’m bootstrapping onto the information superhighway (which might have been started with a government program – so, arguably, if you want to go there, legalized theft – but which became what it is by the grace of porn, lolcats and Heinlein flame wars.  I’m an active participant in the last two!)

What I’m saying is that none of those things was done for my benefit.  It’s not like at the dawn of mankind someone said “Hey, Og, somewhere in the future there will be this chick named Sarah who will need this fire thing.  Let’s do it for her!”  It’s not even like it’s being maintained for my benefit.  In the bowels of the technocracy, Engineer 24 doesn’t get up every morning and say “Hey, let’s make sure that Sarah has the internet up so she can write her blogs, so that her huns are distracted a few more hours.  You know, if those guys became disgruntled, they could be dangerous.”  (Okay, maybe Engineer 24 says that.  He doesn’t know ya’ll were never, so to put it, gruntled.)

Yes, I have the benefit of living in a civilized (waggles hand) society.  But that is mostly because every member in it gets up in the morning, scratches a place or two, grumbles through a shower and breakfast and then goes to work (those of us who work – a brave and increasingly small minority.  We few, we lucky few) because it’s in his/her best interests to go to work – because work benefits him/her in ways either monetary or psychological.  (And here, no fooling, though I’m making a point about working for money not immaterial yayas, if you’re unemployed and it looks to be long term – and in this economy… — consider setting a schedule and working every day at something.  It could be “just” looking for a job, or it could be learning a new skill that might allow you to contract out.  Or it might be, if your spouse/support person is working, cleaning the house and taking burdens off his/her shoulders so you’re contributing something.  I’m not saying get up, put work clothes on and sit down to work 9 to 5.  You might, of course.  I often do.  BUT the important thing is to do something focused and organized, so your day isn’t a blob.  It is not good for man – or woman – to be idle.  But the point is do it for your own benefit.  Have what you do contribute something to your values and your way of life.  Don’t do it “for the people.”)

This idea of doing something “to benefit” faceless others, whether they’re “society” or “the people.” When I was eight, my father told me that the greatest crimes against humanity have been committed in the name of “the people” – I’m now fifty one.  I have only seen this confirmed over and over again.

The reason for this is that “the people” or “society” can’t talk.  (Not really.  Yes, there’s polls.  There’s also lies, damn lies and statistics.)  That means that “doing something for the people” becomes “doing something to the people” which involves in turn “forcing the people to do things I want.”  And the “best” part is you can do it with a glow of virtue because you’re “giving back to society” for all the roads and internet and things.

The sheer and rank stupidity of these “altruistic” “gifts” to society is obvious when you think of trying to “give back” to say, your family.  No, seriously.  My family gives me tons in emotional support, work, sudden help with something I screwed up (thank you honey for keeping the computers running, and sons for driving me to the vet because I don’t want to drive in snow, and for countless cups of tea fetched, and for moving furniture so I can paint walls, and–.)  So, periodically I try to give back.  Unless this is focused and specific (say, they’re sick, and I make them lemon tea) it tends to backfire.  Like when the boys were 12 and 8 and I decided to take time to play with them, because I was always writing.  A) they’d planned a computer game marathon, and I really couldn’t play on their computer.  B) they became very suspicious of my motives, and got weird.  C) they led me to the office and told me to write.  Or take the time I rearranged my husband’s office to “make it nice” for him, and we had one of the worst arguments of our marriage.  (Turned out he liked the way his office was.)

If you can’t “give back” to your nearest and dearest with any degree of accuracy – beyond doing your part in the running of house and family – even supposing you owe society something… HOW are you going to give it back?

If only there were some way to be able to tell when society wants something.  I mean, wants it enough to value it, and not to receive it with a half-embarrassed smile and a “thank you, aunt Peggy” and then pitch it in the trash – laws allowing?  If only there were some arcane way of telling when someone wanted something enough!

Oh, I know – we’ll have these tokens that people can give each other in exchange for goods and services – cool, uh?

You’ll know that a good or service is needed/wanted by how many tokens people are willing to give you for it.

It’s a little risky, of course.  Say that you wish to do something, and train for it, and later find that no one will give you tokens for it.  There will be a few of those tragedies, but fortunately the cost will be born by individuals and is usually recoverable-from, since all skills have auxiliary skills that can be used to get the tokens, even though they might not be what the person REALLY wants to do.  But they can do that in their spare time, when they’ve exchanged their tokens for food and rent, right?

At least we can dispense with the massive bureaucracy to weigh the contributions of engineers one through twenty four and decide what compensation they should receive!  Yeah.  Let’s install the token-exchange system.

What?  What do you mean it’s already been done?  Oh.  I see.  Og sold the secret of fire for enough salt to put on the meat he cooked?  Miraculous.  You mean he didn’t invent fire “to give back to society” for the pelts and things he got? And then, over time, the exchange evolved to symbolic tokens, so we can all shop for what we want and need without carrying a live goat in each pocket?  And all of this takes place on its own, without government intervention?  And in fact goes on despite government intervention, in the form of black markets, in tyrannies?  And it gives us an accurate representation of what large numbers of people want and need?  (Don’t blame me if what they want and need is often the sham wow.) Who would have thought of that?

… Certainly not our enlightened leaders, and not anyone who has gone through school systems in western countries, where we are taught that greed (i.e. making money in exchange for what you produce) is bad, and that your aim in life should be to “improve the world” and “change society.”

Heck, they convinced even me.

I’m not the best example.  Translation would probably have paid better in the long run.  But I couldn’t take it.  Turns out – I know, shocker – that if people understood what everyone says the world over, we’d have a ton more wars.  (Not to mention murders of entire countries.  Think of it as the family of nations babbling loudly in the back seat of the world car.  “If Syria doesn’t stop singing that annoying song, I’m going to bash its collective head.”  “Iran, if you don’t stop whining about Israel, I’m going to come back there and give you what for.”  “No, honestly, Greece, if you ate all your cookies, Germany doesn’t have to give you any.”  “And no one touch anyone else!”)

So, I went into writing and so far – slowly – it pays enough for my simple needs, though the irregularity of pay makes me neurotic like a shaved Persian.  And besides, I have plans to make more.  And I bear the cost of my failures – i.e. I throw my own d*mn Christmas sweaters in the trash, instead of making laws to force everyone to wear them.

Honestly, given the fractured histories and fraught personalities of people who devote their lives to “giving back to society” all I can think is “and they give it to society good and hard.”

For the rest of us – particularly the idealistic fools among us – by all means don’t turn your back on charity.  Help those in need if you know what they need and are sure you’re not projecting.  (The best way to do this is to give to those you know well, because then you also know when aid becomes a shackle and know when to stop. Always remember, in charity as in anything else, that your first rule should be “first do no harm.”)

But as your main work in life?  Do what people will pay you for.  Study how to optimize your work so they give you more.  If you fail, pick yourself up, figure out what your mistake was, and start again.

And don’t worry about being “greedy.”  Unless you’re making money by playing currency speculation (and even that might have its uses in G-d’s wide world.  I just don’t understand enough to tell you what they are) or other financial shell games dependent on a system of crony capitalism, take that money as a sign you’re doing something society wants.

Heaven knows why society would want the sham wow.  But if that’s what they do want, give it to them and take the money, and laugh all the way to the bank.

The other way lies incompetence, greed for power, coercion, and truly nasty Christmas sweaters (or non functional health systems) that you’re required by law to use and pay for.

Give back to society like Og did – go make some money!

Next Time The Story

hai-3483459_1920

Image courtesy of Pixabay

As Odds we have been confronted with the accusation of being “insane” probably before we could toddle.

But we’re not really insane.  We’re not that out of it. We are aware of what reality is and its limitations. In some ways we might be hyper aware. Because we have to reality-check our positions more or less constantly, so as to avoid falling off the edge. We don’t have the herd to hem us in and tell us acceptable from unacceptable. Living outside the overton window means you have to figure out not only what’s real, but also what will cause the band to kill you in an awful way should you fail to rub blue mud on your belly button.

You know exactly what I mean. There’s gradations to these things.  Most of us, the Oddness not withstanding have managed to live pretty average lives, at least from the outside.  We have jobs and families and are generally — or were generally — productive members of society.  We just stand outside and look at things the herd is doing and go “uh, that’s… why? Why do they do that?” which makes us Odds.

It also means we can see when the band as a whole is tilting from weird to completely pants-on-head insane.

Look, in a way we live in the best times ever to be an Odd in any time in human history.  Because no matter how tiny a percentage of the population we are (and we are) we can find each other and talk, and form little bands of our own.  Not that we ever fully belong to any bands, of course, since our curse is to stand outside and watch.

And our glory too, if you think about it.

To the extent Odds have a value — besides our intrinsic value as human beings which we’re at least supposed to have in this society — it is that standing apart. That watching. That refusing to rub our belly with blue mud just because the rest of them do, or refusing to believe it matters, at the very least.

I bet this was really important in the times of isolated bands of hominids roaming the Savannah.  After all, if the entire tribe becomes convinced the only thing to do is eat a particularly poisonous berry and trip away the days, it is important someone is there to remind them they still need to eat and also that being stoned when the lion comes is not brilliant.

I suspect this led to most of our predecessors being stoned, in the not fun way. Which is why — or part of the reason why — we’re such a small component of the human race.  BUT there were probably those of us with cunning and finesse enough to at least peel some of the kids away from the suicidal band.  Or, all else failing, to at least save themselves.

The fact that the Bible and even older writings are full of situations in which the whole tribe/band/city/nation/world was doing something fricking crazy and then one man realized it was wrong (or got a message from the gods. Whatever.  Hey, I’m not sure we don’t periodically get strange calls from above.) and did something to save at least some of the population means there were instances like this.  Instances when the odd man out said “Oh, heck no.” And his actions were the salvation of the tribe.

Knowing us — Oh, my people! — there were probably a lot more occasions when the Odd Man Out, being isolated and without a reality check became convinced if he jumped off a cliff he could fly. Or that fire was his best friend and he must step into it. Or whatever. Those aren’t usually recorded because that’s just Odds going insane, which, as isolated social apes is kind of a normal occurrence.  Also they’re not much help to the species except in the sense of “Ogg did that and died. Don’t be Ogg.”

But we live in weird times, in which communities of Odds are not just possible, but happening all over, partly because — of course — we can.  Partly because we need people as much as anyone else.

And communities of Odds can go one of two ways.  Towards reality or away from it.

Because I am a depressive and very aware of what I put in my head, I try to steer us towards reality.  Because I’ve lost at least three communities in my life time, I no longer care if the direction of reality is not the approved one.

Which is valuable. And weird. And dangerous. And requiring continuous work.

Because we live in Odd times.  Note the capital O.

You see, the world has been invaded by story. We can’t go anywhere or do anything without a story being told, a narrative being wrapped around our existence; without being bombarded with stories of all kinds.

Which would be fine.  In some ways story is what makes us human, what allowed our species to live everywhere and “cover the surface of the Earth.”

Only the stories used to be: don’t go into the woods, they’re dangerous. If you give cookies to the guy who wants to kill you, he’ll eat the cookies and still kill you. It’s better to die defending your city than to live under the boot of those who hate you.

They were survival enhancing stories.

The problem is that story became prevalent at the same time that a narrative profoundly inimical to the west and — must be said — to civilization and even to humanity itself was being deployed in the service of Russian (The Soviet Union was always a Russian vehicle) hegemonic ambitions.  And that artists, like all Odds, are very prone to crazy narrative.  And that these people got to select those who followed them through the power of gatekeeping and mass media.

That power is winding down now. Maybe, perhaps, just barely in time to save us.

Because a narrative that wants all humanity to go back to the bronze age, if not to outright extinction to appease climate events that are AT BEST completely independent of humans, and at worst a function of narrative and manipulated statistics (aka non existent) is a very dangerous one.  And it needs all the work of the Odds to keep us from the abyss.

We used to be afraid the herd would run and jump off the cliff of nuclear destruction.  But it it turns out it’s much worse than that.  In the name of story, they’ll cripple and destroy the very thing that has allowed us to survive.

Are we enough? Enough to bring a maleducated, story-indoctrinated generation back from the abyss.

I don’t know.  I know we need to try.  Otherwise, what are we for?

We need to relearn and teach The Gods of The Copybook Headings.  By story and deed, by example, by laughter if needed.

Before it is too late.

 

Brief Update and Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

fantasy-3077928_1920

Brief Update

The good news is that I’m still improving, with no backward whomp. The bad news is that it’s really slow, so I plan to call the doctor tomorrow and ask for more/stronger antibiotic since I only have one and a half days left.  On the good side, tonight I should be able to resume my night-duties at instapundit.  And I might be able to get some writing, cover work and publishing done, though I’m trying hard not to push it.  Truly I am.  I’d LIKE to go to the zoo, and we have a friend in town whom we need to meet.

We shall see.

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: grow

The Writer Definitely Is In A State

teddy-562960_1920

Recently, while talking to Cedar Sanderson, she told me she loves my state of the state writer.  What can I say? Some people have weird and perverse tastes.

But I’m using that as an excuse, because I don’t feel like thinking of some deep theme, or even some light theme to write about.

Also, for those of you who follow me at instapundit, the last two weeks with — I THINK — all of two nights of posts need some explanation.

So, what happened was this, mid-January, the week before Cosine, I started getting a sore throat.  Since my preferred mode is recluse, we all assumed it was either psychosomatic, or my auto-immune acting up out of stress, which is another way of saying psychosomatic.

When it whomped me fully the day after the convention I thought “tiredness.” and because I’m very stubborn, it took me a few days to go to the doctor.  By then I’d been sick three weeks, give or take, and was starting to think it had to be something more than a cold which usually takes me about a week to get over.

Well… no. Apparently it’s a cold, or at least “what’s going around.” It’s entirely possible it’s a chain of illnesses, starting with a virus that then leaves you weak enough for the next assault, rinse and repeat.

I know that whatever I have now is at least partly bacteria, because the anti-biotic is working, but it’s working very slowly.  In fact, the doctor called to say if I still felt ill at the end of the course, call them again, and they’ll re-prescribe, which I think is doctorese for “this is happening with a lot of people.”

I have no actual clue what this is, except that it’s bug from heck.  I wasn’t coughing, but that’s probably just my body being an idiot, because I had tons of post-nasal drip, but I was having ear, nose and throat pains, and was vaguely nauseous and achy and just generally exhausted. No, really exhausted.  As in work for an hour, need a nap.  I was also forgetting everything, like emails, phone calls and such. Which is a problem as I’m point woman for part of the wedding stuff.

It was one of those: stare at email, go “oh, I really don’t have the strength to even open that” go back to bed.  For someone as neurotic as myself, who usually can’t sleep if I didn’t close off “business” for the day, this was a bizarre experience.

I might end up ten pounds heavier too, as I just couldn’t bring myself to exercise.  Heck, walking to the kitchen counted as a little jog.  And yes, my body DOES manage to gain weight while sick.  And here I was so proud of not gaining any weight through the holidays.  Oh well.

On the writing front: I finally delivered the ridiculously overdue short story.  Short is a misnomer in this case as it turned out 10k words.  It will probably be 15 or 20k when it comes out indie, too, as I cut corners to fit it in 10k words.  It’s one of a series of sf mysteries, but will probably come out as the sixth seventh, or if I get extra productive 9th.  Shortish … heck I don’t what to call them, in the 15k to 30k range.

If I can get semi-caught up, they’ll be my “weekend fun writing” at least for a day a week. Mostly because they’re pushing really hard and 30k is eminently doable in two days, so maybe a couple of weekends, a day each.

I’m now late on two novels according to my plans, but this thing really whomped me more flat than anything in a long time.  I feel like I slept a whole month.  Unfortunately I didn’t.  It was the FIRST time I got a prescription (discharge orders) for “sleep as much as possible’ so likely I should have, but I was trying to finish stuff.

It would probably have been easier if during this time Dan hadn’t been running benchmarks on my render computer, trying to figure out eventual upgrade/replacement.  This meant when I fought free of the haze enough, I’d go look at what I’d left rendering and it was taking six hours. Or was something completely different.  And then I’d give up and go sleep because braining was so hard.

Anyway, feeling way better, if not 100%. Yesterday I cleaned house and finished short story, and I’m still upright and conscious today — yay — so I’m going to at least catch up on some writing.

The flooring of the dining room (a fine movie to watch from a distance, not so much to act in) might have to wait till tomorrow.

If you pinged me/contacted me/told me something in the last three weeks, be aware that even if I answered you, I likely have NOT THE FAINTEST memory of it.

And now I go. There’s work to do.

Bite

mosquito-1332382_1920

And so at last we must speak of the wealthiest nation in the world having people proposing infanticide “for the health of the mother.”  Including mental health of course, and the fact that she wants to avenge herself on the father, or something.

I have more to say about that, and will in a PJM column.  Some of it has been said before, some has not. Possibly the crucial part has not.

But that’s not the point here.

Infanticide has been performed throughout history. Usually by mothers who couldn’t afford to support the baby. Sometimes by mothers who wanted to hide that the baby looked uncommonly like a slave or servant. (That mental health thing.)  Sometimes at the mandate of the state. Sometimes at the mandate of the father who wanted a baby of a different sex. In a memoir I read from the Chinese Cultural revolution, she related, in rural districts, where people were starving anyway, seeing girl babies drowned in the slops bucket or fed boiling chicken soup to kill them.  In Africa, it’s not unusual to kill one of each pair of twins.

Note I’m not saying this makes infanticide all right. I’m saying it happens.  I’m not one the moral imbeciles who says that because a great number of pregnancies self-aborts abortion should be all right.  That’s like saying because a large number of people over 70 die naturally, it should be open season on them.

Infanticide is an horrendous act, one from which every adult human being should recoil.  The societies that performed it en masse — say Phoenicians or Aztecs — have been justly reviled and viewed with horror by civilized humanity.

And yet, in the most prosperous nation in the world, a nation with such an infertility problem that we scour the other nations of the world for children to adopt, a man with medical training can sit calmly before cameras and talk about how the mother and the doctor can take a little time and discuss infanticide.

It seems like a curious kind of madness, and it is.

But you don’t get to this kind of madness all of a sudden.

You don’t get all at once to the insanity that children pre-puberty, children whom we’d not allow to choose, say, whom to marry or to sell their property or even what medicine they should take, are in some areas allowed (and the parents forced to accept it) to take puberty-delaying drugs or to choose to self-mutilate because they say they are the other sex, really.

You don’t get all at once to the crazy epistemological confusion of “anything we do as a society” with “socialism” either.  Because societies have been doing good and bad things for a long time before anyone got the idea that economies should be planned and that everything we do should be controlled by a powerful central government.  (Which had been tried, before, with absolute monarchies, and caused mass revolts against despots.  Ah, but this time it would be the right people.  Educated people. Stop me when it sounds familiar.)

You can say all this has its origins in Rosseau’s d*mned noble savage and Marx’s economic “but I should be given more stuff!” theories. And you wouldn’t precisely be wrong.

But those have their origin in turn in what we’ll call “a defect in human make up” or if you prefer “the fact we’re still mostly apes.”

Apes need — crave — hierarchy.  Throw an ape in a zoo with a bunch of strange apes and they immediately establish where they belong in the hierarchy.  All studies done of apes in the wild show hierarchy and a climb in the hierarchy.

Humans are apes. We want to know where we stand. And mostly we want to stand on top.

We crave “titles of nobility” so we can peacock it over our equals.  We crave showing ourselves superior to others.

In a way the modern era, with its fluid hierarchies, its loose bonds, drives people insane.  They need to know they’re on top, special, better.  Physical aggression being frowned upon and these days what used to work like it for women — vamping it up — being looked at as unenlightened, all that remains is to show your intellectual superiority and your moral superiority over others.

The problem is that most humans are not intellectually superior or morally superior to others.  Most humans are — sing it with me — average. That’s why we call it average.

And when your social signaling must be done by displaying “intelligence” how can an average person display their special gifts of thought?

Most of us realize when we find smarter people that they often have ideas that seem weird to the rest of the world.  This is enshrined in history — of sciences, of art — with the idea of the lone genius who comes along and sees that this despised thing is NOW the real best thing in the world, and thus makes a new order.

Keep in mind, having known a lot of very smart people, I know that a lot of their ideas amount to “and the bridge will be completely carved out of soap.”  But few people have had much exposure to true bonafide geniuses.

So how do the average or slightly above average signal they’re “so smart.”

If you say that people should save a bit of their money against hard times, you’re not showing you’re smart. You’re just saying what everyone knows. If you say an adult human being should control him or herself so that they don’t go around being controlled by their emotions and whims and so they can attain long time goals.  Again, you’re just saying what everyone knows.  You risk being thought… average.

So to counter that, average people say the counter intuitive, the shocking.  Quite literally they live their lives Pour Epater Les Bourgeois.

The person who doesn’t save is right,and is living life to the fullest and the state should provide for them. Human beings should live for the now, because that’s the unsullied life of the noble savage.  And on and on.

It’s all around. It’s in every story, every news report, every art form.

“I will show I’m brilliant by taking something everyone knows is bad, and proving it’s actually wonderful.”

This led to nostalgie the la boue which was responsible for some really bad books well before the middle of the twentieth century.  But then the middle of the twentieth century was “blessed” with mass communication, which is to say mass-means of transmitting story.

Unfortunately by then “shocking” had become confused with “good.” So with the idea of the people they were shocking frozen circa 1950 — which is to say a good 30 years earlier, when the creators of the 1950s were forming THEIR ideas of the world — the new mass communicators set about showing how smart they were.

As a result, we’ve gotten countless stories with bad businessmen (they used to once be considered models to look up to, particularly since some sects of protestantism viewed wealth as a sign of being blessed.) Virtuous communists/anarchists/rebels. Virtuous homeless people.  Children who know more than their parents. Women who are stronger than men. People who totally deserve to be supported by the government and not have to work for a living because they’re geniuses.  Artists whose art makes no sense to anyone, and who are therefore geniuses.

And each of those is a bite into the fabric of what creates civilization.  They’re “countercultural” in the basest sense.  Believing in this destroys the culture. Any culture that exposes itself to them.

Believing that you signal you’re superior to the people around you by destroying the foundations of what leads to a good and prosperous life leads to generations growing up thinking this is the way to attain status.  And to their struggle for status destroying more of the culture that created the prosperity that allows them to be countercultural.

Bite.

As a child growing up in the mid sixties, I think I was six before I came across the story of the virtuous and brilliant hippie-philosopher who died because he couldn’t make money lecturing people about random stuff, and how this was an injustice.

Fortunately in the mid sixties there were still grandparents around that said things we thought were cringingly embarrassing and low class.  You know, the basic things: clean your room, study hard, work towards what you want.  The fact that Peterson saying this now is a daring revolt tells you how much it’s been lost.

All human beings are born with the need to signal status. We’ve learned that just telling everyone they’re special and “gifted” doesn’t help anything. It actually hurts.

What we need to do is change the signaling from things that destroy society to things that build society.

Look, as Peterson has shown, we’re now at that point where saying the common sense things our great grandparents knew is countercultural. Daring.

We face a media and artistic establishment indoctrinated into the idea that the rest of the world still lives by 1920s morals.

They’re getting a little desperate.  When knitting with yarn you keep in your vagina or rolling yourself in feces only give you limited internet notoriety, you must do something more.

The same with the left. Having come out in favor of socialism, having recruited people who think “you must belong to something so why not the state.” What do they do for an encore?  Having established a mother’s right to have an abortion for no reason at all at any time in many places till the third trimester (check) with partial birth abortions disguising the obvious killing of a viable infant, what do you do for an encore? How do you shock the squares?

Infanticide. It’s the next logical step. And it must be good, because look how it shocks the common people.

If we allow this to continue, their attempts to shock us are going to get really creative.

How creative? What comes after infanticide? Do you really want to know?  Perhaps we’ll be building pyramids to the sun and sacrificing hundreds of thousands of people in a day? Perhaps the right to cannibalism.  The one thing we know is that this “movement” taking bites out of culture doesn’t like humans much.  Perhaps because liking your own species is so much of a given, so mundane, so bourgeois.

And then there’s the counter push.  If there weren’t, Peterson would have no purchase.  And he does.

But the opposition is entrenched and has billions of dollars on its side.

The cart stands poised.  If we allow them do continue pushing, we’re going to go off the cliff.  At the bottom there’s mass dying and lives that are worse than dying.

Or we can push the other way, push that which builds society.

The tide is turning. Time is on our side. But nothing is free. A civilization if you can keep it.

Put your shoulder to the wheel in whatever way you can — blogs, comments, stories, art, teaching — and push.  Push with all your might.

The future of humanity depends on it.

 

The True Nature of That Gorilla by Rhiain

gorilla-2318998_1920

The True Nature of That Gorilla by Rhiain

No, this post isn’t about Harambe. Let’s talk about the real gorilla in the room: tokenism.

A friend of mine lamented about his status as a “Special Token Minority” guest at a con earlier this week. My advice to him was cavalier yet, shall we say, deadly accurate. I’ll confess, dear readers, that I was getting more pissed with every acerbic comment I added to the thread in our discussion about this con. My friend was decidedly unhappy because he’d apparently been promoted by the ConCom to “Special Guest” status due to being non-white.

My advice to him follows, paraphrased (and edited for clean copy – because I needed to emphasize my point without, ya know, all the more colorful language):

What I almost started doing a couple years ago was respond to people like K. Tempest Bradford with my ethnicity, before I realized how much of a trap that was. I wasn’t going to be one of those non-white people who proved herself by validating my opinions with “I’m not white, therefore what I’m about to say has more value than, say, Brad Torgersen, because he’s of paler complexion.”

I caught myself doing it when responding to some SJW last year during the ConCarolinas controversy on John Ringo’s Facebook wall, and that’s when I told myself that I’m not going there. Ever. Again.

But if some idiot at the con wants to make a big deal about you being brown, then I say let them.

And then completely destroy their assumptions so that they never make that mistake again.
At least about you.

Tokenism has existed for at least as long as white privilege, if the zealots are to be believed. It’s so pervasive that non-white content creators, or even those “who pass as white,” are uncomfortable when they’re put on the spot for whatever the outrage du jour is. It’s especially disconcerting when the token minority’s remarks are elevated above anyone else’s views in the room, and anyone else in the room is as white as the good, non-Native senator from Massachusetts, and that token has no experience or expertise regarding the issue at hand.

I do have to wonder if the zealots are really that oblivious to the irony of their own conceits. “Diversity!” they cry. “We must have more of it! Not just in this specific field, no, we must have it in everything!”

The other size of that coin, ya dolts, is tokenism. Head, diversity. Tail, token.

When the means to an end isn’t coming to pass fast enough for them, anybody who passably fits the profile of the “means” will do to achieve that end.
And yet the goalposts change regularly in their hierarchy, contingent on their need for even more Diversity and Inclusion. My non-white friend will no longer be as Diverse as they would like in two months, because he’s “Asian” and therefore too successful and…wait, he’s not Asian. No, he’s actually white. (That would be a surprise to him and me, but humor me here.) The circular justifications continue as they argue about who actually qualifies as a “minority” while dying for a touch of that distant mirage, “Diversity.”

And if you’re one of those people who happens to look non-Caucasian, like me, or like my friend, and you’re wondering if you’ll ever become the Token at your job, or in your circle of friends, or, hell, even in your family, I’ll offer this one little spark of hope:

It doesn’t have to be like this.

Almost nine years ago I was hired by a small(ish) business of about 250 people. To this day I’m one of two people in the main office who isn’t white.

Last summer I attended a con banquet, looked around, and realized I was the only guest seated who wasn’t white.

And I get pissed when I notice details like this, because about four years ago it wasn’t a telltale sign of anything of note. It’s so recent a development to me that it shouldn’t signify anything. It still doesn’t.

Because I refuse to let myself turn into that person.

Understand that tokenism is so widespread that there are certain non-whites who have decided to identify as nothing else, which means others around them walk on eggshells because the signal’s so loud that ignoring it is not an option. I’ve taken note of my skin color in the above situations, and irritably realize that I’ve noticed it, and then moved on because I refused to let it bother me. In heavily blue areas, this unfortunate signal cannot be turned off because you’re not the only one aware of it and then the gorilla manifests itself semi-permanently. I say semi-permanently because it’s such a recent signal that I haven’t given up hope it can go away again. And I should note, too, that refusing to become that Token Minority person irritates the zealots because it trips up their narrative.

This doesn’t make me “race-blind,” like the idiot zealots claim. What does that even mean, anyway? If I’m “race-blind,” does this mean I’ve violated some social norm where I’m supposed to take note of every person’s skin color and/or race during an interaction with that person? Since when did that become a social norm?

I don’t know about you, dear readers, but that’s not a feature that I want normalized in our culture. It’s a bug that needs to be stamped out as quickly as possible, before my children are ingrained with this idea that one of them has more value than the other since she’s not as pale as her sibling.

If we ever reach that point, my friend, the zealots will have much to answer for.