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Not an obituary and Miscellaneous by Sarah/Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

I woke up late and with a sinus headache.  We’re apparently having a major change in weather sometime today, so that explains it, but even ibuprofen failed to dent it, which accounts for my being so late today, I guess.

The other part of this is that I don’t want to write an obituary.  I’m in that uncomfortable position of losing mentors and older relatives, that leaves me with the expectation that I’m next in line for the doleful harvest, as well as missing the people who depart and being left in the expectation that I now have to fill the role of elder and mentor, for which I’m not ready.  I’m not sure anyone ever is, of course.  Maybe it is true that man is an ape who understood his own mortality and went insane.  These days the insane thing seems startlingly obvious.

Anyway, yesterday I learned Ed Bryant had died two days ago.  Part of the problem of being very busy is that even my forays into the book o’ faces don’t get all the news.

Ed was the mentor of the very first (walk in/at will) writers’ group I attended.  It met at UCCS and the “price” was, I think, $2 to pay for Ed’s gas to come down.  Considering how much trouble he went through, he didn’t make enough from this. I think sometimes he made a little more, enough for a coffee with us after the meeting.

He was a gracious and kind mentor, moderating the excesses that took place when he couldn’t come down — people who mocked your word choice, or people who acted like people with odd accents shouldn’t really be trying to write fiction — he never really said anything about “girl who speaks funny wants to write in English” nor did he ever assume my typos — I’m a typo artist — were the result of thinking in Portuguese (they aren’t.  In fact thinking in Portuguese is rather difficult these days.  They’re usually the result of thinking two fast and not being able to keep up with it in typing, so you type a word from another sentence.  Then there’s the crazy.  For instance, in current book I had “conducting bathroom” instead of “conducting business.”)

Four or five incidents are connected to Ed in my mind.  One of them was that at the time I was attending that group on Sundays, I gave birth to younger son.  My meeting after giving birth, I was saying something, and Ed was looking at me like I was from Mars.  It’s like he knew the voice, but couldn’t recognize me.  Suddenly went, “Oh, Sarah, I didn’t know you Un-pregnant.”  (Which made sense since I’d started in the group while pregnant.  To this day the memory of his expression makes me giggle.)

The other was that while going to that same group, I attended my first writers’ conference.  Ed was the pro at our table.  Something awful had happened in the planning for the meals, and they’d made half the meals vegan.  By the time they got to our table the only “choice” was vegan.  The end result of this is that the meal was inedible as institutional vegan meals often are.  There were four or five of us, forlornly talking about how awful the food was.  Ed got up, we thought, to go to the bathroom.  Instead, he went to the gift shop and bought each of us a bar of chocolate, a gracious gesture he , in no way, was obligated to make.

At another meal, at the same conference, they served melon salad for desert.  Turned out that all of us disliked/were allergic to a different sort of melon.  So a lively trade took place before anyone ate.  Ed was talking to someone who had just come to the table, and missed the pre-trade negotiation, so he turns around, and we’re flinging bits of melon around.  He asked “What happened?  One minute I was at a normal table, and another minute there’s flying melon.”  If I ever name a rockband, it will be Flying Melon.

For a while Ed had a newsletter, which in addition to news of his own books and stories, was devoted to “curious things from the Denver area.”  His newsletter talking about Mike, the Headless Chicken came at the same time I’d discovered Mike, and we spent quite a while trading websites about Mike.

Ed was funny, kind, and a generous mentor.  More importantly, no matter who was in power or what the election was, or how close to a con, I never noticed him holding a political line on whom he’d talk to or be nice to, and despite a wicked sense of humor, he never inflicted a political rant on anyone in a panel, or at least none I was present at.

Our writing styles and interests were completely different, but our minds met at the weird and odd and picturesque.

I talked to him just three weeks ago at Cosine and was very glad to see him.  I can’t quite believe he’s gone.

This is not an obituary, because I didn’t know him that well, I only knew him as a profession and a mentor.  In both capacities his behavior was something to emulate.

Two short reminders here.  First, Darkship Revenge is on presale, if you’re so inclined.

Second, if you read Through Fire and think it’s worth it, feel free to nominate it at Dragon Award Nominations, which are open now. It costs nothing.  And of course you should nominate whomever you think is good, beyond and above my stuff.  Sad Puppies “recommendation site” which will be monthly is not focused on any award and will be up — I SWEAR — very soon.  We ran into “disabling flu” for about three weeks.  The next site will be permanent, no matter who runs the movement.

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, ‘Nother Mike and Mary Catelli

Sunday Vignettes!

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:

beam

 

A Wee Snippet

I MEANT TO BLOG.  I was looking at a post Orvan sent me, intending to put it up.  And then family stuff came up, and then I got involved in unpacking and ironing from the trip to Portugal.  (What? It’s only eight months, and it got stuck in the middle of unopened household boxes) and I just realized what time it is.

So, I delivered Darkship Revenge and it will be out in May.  Will a wee Snippet amuse you?

This is not the beginning of the book, but it is strongly related to its theme, and particularly relates to its cover:

Which meant that Lucius and Fuse were, what? Dead? Incapacitated?  To say nothing of Kit and Simon?  My throat closed at the thought of Kit or even Simon hurt in one of those buildings.  Not that I wished ill on Lucius and Fuse, and frankly, by virtue of being with me, they were of mine and I’d defend them and avenge them if needed, but Kit and Simon made it personal.  If one of them were bleeding to death in that warren of buildings, how would I get in and rescue him? How could I find him, if the coms didn’t work? Because I had to find him or them and rescue them.  I had to.

I calmed myself down with the reassurance that these people were afraid of being followed, which meant they couldn’t have killed all the people on my side and against them.  Possibly they hadn’t killed anyone, just somehow managed to evade them and get out of the building.

Right.  And these voices sounded young.  Like really young.  One of them still had a relatively high soprano and another’s voice wavered between soprano and basso profundo, in the way boys’ voices do between the ages of twelve and sixteen or so.

None of which made me feel better about the fact that they were going to be here in seconds.

I was armed.  I’m always armed.  I’d rather be naked than unarmed.  But that wasn’t the point.  There were three of them.  There was one of me.  And I had to protect Eris.

Against normal people, this wouldn’t be a problem.  I was fast enough – a skill not developed, but acquired via genetic manipulation of my genes by those who created me – that I could and often did defeat more people than that.

However, here caution applied.  I had no idea who these people were or where they came from.  They shouldn’t be enhanced of course, but…  For all I knew they were the spawn of tentacle monsters.  What I did know is that they had been fast enough and strong enough to subdue and kidnap Kit who, on top of being created the way I was and having the same super-speed from his genetic legacy, had been changed by a bio-engineered virus in utero, to maximize that speed.  If they could capture Kit, no matter if they’d caught him at a disadvantage outside the ship, then they would be able to match my speed.  So, a frontal confrontation was out of the question.

That was all right too.  Okay, I’d never run up against people – other than other bioengineered clones of Good Men — who could match me for speed, but I’d run up against plenty of them whom I couldn’t kill for a reason or another.  In my misguided youth, I’d run up against a lot of people I couldn’t even hurt without precipitating Daddy Dearest’s fury and much worse punishment.  So I’d learned psychological subterfuge, finagling, and deception.  Which worked against everyone no matter what the level of speed or even intelligence.  Most of the time.  Practically.

I banished misgivings.  Look, whomever my wiles hadn’t worked against, they always worked against males.  Mostly.  Almost. Practically. They hadn’t done me much good against Kit, but my darling was a jaded bastard. How many of them could there be in the universe? And could any of them sound as young as those people outside had?

Fast, I made sure of the hidden burners, one at my ankle, one under my hair, and one where it’s really none of your business.  No, not there.  That would impair any fast movement.

Eris had fallen asleep.  I engaged my fast speed, because I knew I had seconds only, to disengage the sling, grab her, and stow her in the back, where a net held back an assortment of toys and blankets and stuff that testified as eloquently as his words that Luce did indeed spend a lot of time babysitting young ones.  I sort of rolled her in a blanket, so that it protected her from any sharp toy edges, but did not cover her face fully.  I was hoping she would pass unnoticed in the middle of the mess, and no one would realize there was a baby back there.  I was fully aware that if they grabbed my daughter they’d render me less effective.  Not incapacitated, but less effective. Or more effective in a “kill them all” sort of way, but that too had its liabilities.

Bless the child, she did not wake up, though she did make a little aggrieved sigh, which caused me to kiss her forehead, before I returned to the middle of the flyer, the open space between seats, where I did my best to appear surprised as the door burst open.

The surprised look was made much easier by what the intruders looked like.

They walked in, in a group, as though none of them trusted the other to go in first.

They were as I’d expected three boys and very young.  They were dressed in what looked like those one-piece baby suits made adult size, only they had boots over their feet.  This was strange enough, as was the fact that these one-piece suits had been embellished with patches, scribblings and bits of metal sewn on.  It was fairly startling that the two who had cut off their sleeves had what appeared to be a welter of scars and blue ink all up their arms.

But none of this – none of it — compared to the strangeness from the neck up.  First of all,  they all looked startlingly familiar, but I had trouble identifying them, because…  Because it looked like a piercing freak had gone insane in an electronic components store.  The one in the center, who looked older than the others, had red hair, which he’d carefully shaved so it only grew on half his head.  I’m assuming shaved.  For all I knew he’d killed the follicles, of course.  The half that remained glittered with metal, glass and who knew what the heck else, all of it looking like he’d salvaged it from a computer room.  His eyebrows were pierced all along their length with more glittering components inserted.  There was something orange and green and metal through his left nostril.  There was a blue indecipherable symbol on his forehead.  He looked indefinably familiar, but it was hard to focus through all the facial piercings and tattoos.

The one on the left looked really familiar; must be all of 12 and was prettyish in the way boys sometimes are just before or at puberty.  What remained of his hair – he seemed to have eliminated random patches of it – was inexpertly dyed blue and straightened, so you could see that his hair was both curly and black.  All down one side of his still-babyish face, he had scribblings in blue ink, that disappeared into his collar.  His eyes were blue and feral.

The one on the right also looked familiar, but not as much, was maybe 14, had a still-round face that would probably turn sharper with age. He had fewer of the blue markings, but his ears were stretched with what appeared to be spools of some sort, his scalp was completely bald and seemed to have electronic components actually growing on it.  He had cut off his right sleeve to display a welter of blue wink in designs that included a dragon and made me wonder if these were in fact the sort of primitive tattoos no one used in the twenty fifth century.

In the middle of the designs was a single word: Danegerous.  Yes, it was misspelled.

I’m not a prude or an innocent, and there were very few things that people could do with their body that shocked me.  I grew up between the high class of Earth, the bioengineered Good Men, who treated normal populations as disposable sludge, and in broomer lairs, where frankly most of the population treated themselves as disposable sludge.

But there was something to the way these boys were body-modified that put a chill up my spine and made me realize I was dealing with something completely different.

Throughout the ages, humans had dressed and adorned themselves to look different or to signify membership in some group or family.  I was going to assume these boys were adorned according to some tribe or affiliation.  I was hoping the tribe was “The Insane Neurotics” because that was how they looked.

Before I could make sure that my air of surprise was just perfect, they’d replied with their own hair of surprise.  Nose-pierced red-head jumped back.  I mind-heard him say Whoa!

Danegerous stood rooted to spot and I heard him mind-proclaim to the world at large It’s a woman.

And the baby, the little twelve year old was holding two burners out and pointed at me.

The shock that I could hear them mind talk hit me at the same time that I recognized the youngest one.  I recognized his movements, the crazed look in his eyes, I recognized the sort of mind that always, always, reaches for a weapon first; the type of temperament that views anything strange and fascinating as something that should be shot first, so it could be dissected later at leisure.

Staring at me, those baby blue eyes in the tattooed face were my Daddy-Dearest’s eyes and my eyes too. I didn’t know how this was possible, and I was not even going to make any guesses.  Just as I wasn’t going to make any guesses about their mind talk.  We’d heard that the telepathy bio-ed into the mules was limited and bonded.  That is it had to be a bonded pair to allow it to flow.  Though really, Kit and I hadn’t been when we’d first talked, but an exception doesn’t negate the rule.

Unless these three were bonded, of course, which was possible, as there are many kinds of bond.  But I didn’t want to know why I could hear them, anyway, nor why or how this kid was … for lack of a better term, my baby brother.  I just knew he was.  He’d been made from the same genes that had gone into making me and my late father, Alexander Milton Sinistra.  The feral blue eyes were the same that had stared out of the mirror at me for most of my growing up years.  I hadn’t even realized they had changed until now.

A cold shot of fear went up my spine, because let’s face it, I knew myself, and I’d known daddy.  No one with those genes could be trusted, not even for the simple things that untrustworthy people could  be trusted with, like, you know, not doing things that will get them killed.

My face must have turned to stone.  He hadn’t recognized me, or the relationship between us.  Which was good, I supposed.  I was measuring the space between us and figuring out how to disarm him.  I wondered if the other two were armed too.  So far they were not making any effort to reach for guns.

“How do you know he’s a woman?” Baby Brother asked, in voice, glaring over his shoulder at the other two while keeping his weapons trained on me.

With anyone else, I’d have risked a lunge at him. I would.  But with him, which is to say with myself, it was too risky.  It might push him past slightly annoyed into homicidal maniac.  I felt a trickle of cold sweat run down my back.  From the pile of toys I heard the snuffle, snuffle, snuffle that was often the precursor to a really good Eris; cry.  Surely not.  Surely she wasn’t going to start…  Please, don’t start.  I didn’t want to see what these feral children could do to a baby.  I was going to guess they had no protective instincts of any sort.

I took slow, controlled breaths.

The redhead, who was clearly the oldest one, blushed.  It was kind of weird to see someone that pierced and tattooed blush, but blush he did.  His voice was gruff and low as he said, “Look at her.  She—”  He made gestures in the front of his chest, even though Baby Brother had gone back to staring at me and wouldn’t see me.  “She looks like a woman.”

“Maybe he’s just malformed.  How would you know?” Baby Brother was defiant and sneering.  “What would you know what a woman looks like, anyway?  And how many women can there be? On Earth?”

“Uh,” Danegerous said.  “Uh. Many. The hollos,” he said.  “From Earth.”

“Bah,” Baby brother said.  “They could just be differently dressed men. How would you know what they look like naked?  That’s the only way to tell if there are real differences.”

I saw the two older ones trade a look and thought there must be hollos that Baby Brother wasn’t privy to.  But why hadn’t they seen women?  And why did they seem to think women were rare?  Had they been raised in some home for the seriously mentally unstable, kept locked away from all of humanity?  Now I thought about it, it made perfect sense, actually.

“Come on,” the tallest and oldest one, the redhead, said.  “You don’t have to see what they look like naked to see they’re different.  In olden times, they were the people who gave birth.  Their whole body is designed for it.”

Baby Brother’s eyebrows went up.  He looked deeply thoughtful, in that way that my soi disant father had looked before he had someone arrested. He turned to me.  “Strip.  We’ll see if it’s true.”

Right.  And I’d see him in hell.

But I couldn’t say that, and I couldn’t mouth off.  There was that snuffle, snuffle from the toy storage at the back. I had to control my expression.  I had to find a way out of this.

I couldn’t run at him and pound him into dirt, because the other two might object, and if Baby Brother had the enhanced speed as I did, the other two might also.

And I couldn’t intimidate him with words, because I didn’t know where he’d come from or what he’d been through.  As I said, an asylum wasn’t out of the question.  Perhaps father had made him as a back-up body donor.  The thing was I didn’t know what to hold over him.  If someone has already been raised in hell, threatening him with flames is besides the point.  Which I’d proven over and over again when well-meaning ladies had threatened me with expulsion from schools where Daddy dearest had enrolled me.

When sane routes out of trouble are impassible, as my broomer friends had taught me, you take the crazy one.

I let my knees hit the floor, raised both my hands to my head, and bawled in the most sincere way I could manage, “Oh, please, don’t hurt me.”  My noise had the effect of covering any noise Eris might make.

By the corner of my eye, while crying, and cringing, I noted that Redhead and Danegerous had jumped back. Apparently my performance was terrifying.

But Baby Brother also resembled me in not scaring.  Or perhaps in scaring angry.

His lip curled up.  “He’s a coward,” he said, and stepped forward, raising his foot.  I had to struggle not to smile.  The more psychotic they are, the easier they fall.  And by genetics alone, poor Baby Brother was laboring under more issues than some long-running journals.

As he raised his foot to kick me, I bent forward, as though to grovel, and said, “Oh, please, I’m just a poor woman.”  I noted that both Redhead and Danegerous did a little mental shout of Told you so.  Which was good because it took them off guard too.

I grabbed Baby Brother’s foot before his kick landed, and pulled.  Up. Hard.  With Super Speed.

Look, just because they could move very fast, didn’t mean they thought other people could too.  Or perhaps they didn’t think women could.  Or perhaps they just couldn’t think.

As Baby Brother hit the ground with a resounding jar, and before he could roll over and shoot me, which he would have, given half a chance, I had removed his burners.  I slipped one into my pocket.  Then I lifted the insufferable brat by the tuft of ill-dyed hair, and pointed my burner at his head.  My idea was to use him a shield and threaten to shoot him.

But of course, nothing is ever easy or simple.  The horrible brat spun around, somehow, ignoring pain.  His hair tore at the roots.  Leaving me holding a hank of improbably colored hair, he got free.  I realized why he was missing tufts of hair.  Apparently fighting recklessly was one of his amusements.

He aimed for my crotch with a well applied kick, and while it still hurt, it didn’t hurt me like he expected – I guess he really didn’t know any women – which allowed me to bring the burner  butt neatly into the side of his head, rendering him unconscious, just as Redhead dove at me.

I shoved Baby Brother out of the way and kicked Redhead in the crotch just before he hit me.  Of all the fighting I learned, both formal and street, for my money, the best training I ever got for combat was the ballet camp I once attended.  It allows such precision in high kicks. I jumped out of the way as he rolled on the floor clutching his family jewels.  Since I didn’t know his resiliency level, I pulled the burner from my hair – look, I didn’t know Baby Brother’s standards in weapon maintenance.  The one I’d taken from him might or might not work – and pointed a burner at him and one at Danegerous, who was backing up, both hands in full sight, his mouth working.

Weirdly, the Redhead, on the floor didn’t even look at me.  He howled, both mind and voice, staring at his companion, “Thor, don’t.”

Danegerous gave a little start, and looked mulish, while shaking his head.  “If we’re going to fail…  If we fail… You know what Father—”

“Fuck Father,” the redhead yelled. I felt wordless shock from the other two. “This doesn’t mean we’ll fail.  Just because the guy didn’t know anything about Earth, and we let Morgan try his way at making friends and influencing people, it doesn’t mean we failed at the mission.”  He looked at me.  “Look, Ma’am, I know we started badly, but if you give us a chance, we want nothing nefarious.  We’re emissaries on a peace mission.”

“And I’m Winnie the Pooh,” I said.

“No, you’re not,” Danegerous said with an edge of hysteria to his voice, his hand reaching into his pocket.  “We know him. He’s much younger than you.”

At the same time I yelled “Freeze.”

He didn’t, so I leapt across the room, grabbed his hand in mine and pointed the weapon at his head.  Only to point it at the redhead who made a jump at us.  Finding the burner pointed at his head, he lifted both hands, “Ma’am,” he said, the soul of politeness.  “You must let me get the stuff from Thor’s pockets.  He’s an explosives fanatic, and he’s trying to blow us all up.”

“I have to,” the so called Thor yelled.  “You know what Father will do to us if we come back defeated.”

Which is when his voice, wavering and adolescent though it was, found a place in my head.  “Thor… Mason?” I asked.

He froze.  “Wah?”

“From the genetic line of Ajith Mason?” I asked.

The Redhead who’d been inching closer, with all the stealth of a cat, stopped and froze too.  He stared at me.  And I caught a flash in the eyes that made his features click into place.  “And you,” I pointed the burner at him, and waved with it.  “You’re Jarl Ingemar’s clone.”

I should have known better.  Look, perhaps it’s genetic.  Like Little Brother I apparently had a way to make friends and influence people.

I’m not going to give you a blow by blow account.  I don’t remember it.  I remember Thor Mason squirming,  trying to go for his stored bombs, presumably.  I mean, what would you expect from Fuse’s little brother?

I hit him hard, on the head, and eased him down quickly, just in time to deal with Jarl’s – and therefore my husband’s — clone who seemed unsure on whether to attack or not and therefore was at a disadvantage when I hit him hard.

I was in the process of tying all of them, individually and securely when Eris started screaming blue murder, and Kit yelled in my head Athena, Athena, answer me.

The Problem of Minimum Wage

No, I’m not going to rehash the problem that raising minimum wage means fewer entry jobs, which over time make for fewer people who even have the (timeliness, work) habits to hold a job, which, over time, impoverishes a society and leads to more welfare.  This is a classic “kindness can be cruel” paradox, impenetrable to do gooders who operate on feels.

Being the world’s worst-ever person (but I have to share the trophy with Kate) I’m not even going to rehash the whole “but people can’t live on minimum wage” controversy.  It’s true in most states of the Union (but not all) most single people can barely squeak by on minimum wage. It’s also true that you can’t raise a family on it (but then why should minimum wage earners be sole-earners when no one else can afford to be?) though this is somewhat mitigated by earned income credits, or at least it was the year when that was about our income.  Being the world’s worst person I’m just going to say “Good, it’s an incentive to move up the ladder.”  I’m also going to note that even in the current economy and for struggling millenials, everyone I know who got a minimum wage level job was making more within a year.

I’m going to admit there are cases of people trying to raise a family on minimum wage.  There are also cases of people trying to raise a family on nothing.  The problem of poverty and/or lack of ambition is not an easy one to solve, and hard cases make bad law.  Lousy social programs, too.  Minimum wage is one such, having far more horrible than good consequences.

Having a minimum wage at all is a left-hand policy, one that believes individuals, left on their own, will mercilessly exploit other humans beings, who, left on their own, have no recourse but taking it.

Like most such policies, and outside certain places and times, it is daft and more than a little presumptuous.  It assumes that one side is needlessly villainous, and the other side is completely helpless, BUT the bureaucrat, without the slightest knowledge of the business of one or the skills of the other has the right information to set “minimum wages.”

Sure men try to make as great a profit as they can on their business, which includes paying employees as little as they can get away with.  This means in practicality that they pay as little as they can to ensure a valuable worker isn’t poached by the next guy over.

This means when you start out, unless you have extensive preparation (and sometimes even then.  I’ve heard beginning engineers are a net DRAIN) you aren’t worth much and you get paid very little indeed.  (I worked for two years for just over $2 an hour.)   But, as your skill increases, and particularly your skill at your particular employment, your wage is raised, to prevent you finding someone who will pay you more.  Somewhere there, it will find its equilibrium, aka, what you’re worth.

This works for writers, who as contract workers have no minimum wage, for instance, and our advance often gets raised when we hit a new sales milestone, just so we won’t wander off to house B and say “Hey, do you need a novel?”

Yes, again, there are those people who will be exploited.  (There are people who ARE helpless and absent a kind-hearted boss will make next to nothing.)  But I submit it would be easier to have a more robust earned income supplementation than to distort our economy with A minimum wage law of any kind.  (Yeah, I’m a libertarian.  A man can seduce me by whispering in my ear “Taxation is theft.” BUT I’m also aware that some evils will always be with us, and that we’re not getting rid of redistribution.  Envy and its effects are a monkey-sin. I’d just be happy if government meddling did LESS harm.)

As I’ve said before, economics is a science.  Trying to legislate it makes as much sense as legislating the law of gravity or the rate of rain fall.  It might make you feel good, but it doesn’t work that way.

The way it works is by seeking other channels, which include being paid “under the table”, forcing other employees to work unpaid hours (trust me, it can be done, particularly in a bad economy) and firing the dead weight, and … hiring illegal labor.

The US doesn’t have an illegal immigration problem.  The US has a minimum wage problem.

Given our large and unguarded border (yes, wall, but how much will be built and how much will it stop armed coyotes and drug smugglers) with a country where the cost of living and wages are MUCH lower, paying $10 an hour (let alone $15) means you’ve built an attractive nuisance.  This is like having a pool without a fence or any barriers that might attract neighborhood children who can’t swim.

The minimum wage will attract otherwise honest people, cause them to risk their lives, feed illegal businesses and break the law. People will break every law to get here, because at that rate, and living 20 men to an apartment, they can send home enough to keep their wife and children in luxury.  You can’t stop men from coming over and trying to do that, particularly when the pay is for illegal work.  You just can’t. It’s a biological imperative for a father to take care of his brood.

On top of that there’s the corruption of the employer.  Oh, sure, if you’re hiring them with fake social security numbers, you’re paying minimum wage.  Probably.  Only they’re illegal, and it’s easy to make them work double time.  Or you know you don’t have to declare exactly how much they worked and pay benefits. They’re not going to file for taxes. A lot of employers will also hire under the table and pay less than minimum wage.

We also can’t stop the employer doing that, not even if the employer is otherwise an honest man and devoted to the nation.  Why not?

Because in many cases we’d be requiring them to kill off their business.  I understand many agricultural businesses simply can’t afford to pay minimum wage and stay in business.  At any rate, the attractive nuisance law applies again.   All it takes is some employers not being too scrupulous and hiring illegal workers.  Then the illegal workers allow these employers to lower the price of their product.

The end result is forcing everyone in that field to hire illegal workers.  Rumors that Toni Weisskopf drove by a home depot and said “I need to people to write novels” and Larry and I jumped in the back of the truck are somewhat exaggerated, but a similar effect is seen in my field, not from illegal laborers but from academicians moving into writing.  When someone starts writing science fiction to pad her university resume, she’ll take an absurdly low advance, now down to something like 3k per novel.  This is not her income, or even a decent part of her income, it’s just a satisfaction to “publish and perish.”  The ability to pay that low an advances forces down all the advances across the field.  It is not the sole explanation for why advances declined from a living wage in the forties and fifties to “money for some pizzas” now, but it is a portion of it. What it did to the field wasn’t pretty in terms of quality either.

What illegal labor does to the fields it takes over is not pretty either.  There is a lot less investment into working at very low wages in a foreign land, as a worker who will move around a lot, and who doesn’t care what his record is, than in building a career.  There is a reason we joke about things built by “Manuel labor” and their inherent shoddiness.

And the way to get rid of it is not a wall, nor enhanced verification.  When you have an attractive nuisance of this magnitude, the neighbors will be attracted, and man is a clever ape.  Humans will find a way.

The way to get rid of illegal immigration is to get rid of minimum wage and supplement the income of the truly needy in other ways.

What are the chances of getting rid of this bad idea whose time should never have come, but which has been with us for over a hundred years?

So. About that wall.  How much do you think it will cost to build and guard?

 

 

And Marry Our Fortunes Together

As most of you know, my culture of origin is an emigrant culture. For centuries now Portuguese have emigrated for all sorts of reasons: because of high birth rate (not extant now), because of lack of opportunity, because the country is barely big enough to swing a cat without getting a passport, because the North is hilly and rocky, because the south is flat, semi-arid and cultivated for centuries on the system of huge farms and absentee landlords, because like most Latin nations Portugal defaults to top-down control and crony capitalism, no matter what the system calls itself, and throttles economic innovation in its cradle.

Portuguese have emigrated legally and illegally, by all means from forming their own empire and colonizing it (an habit acquired from having been a colony for everyone from Arabs, to Greeks and Romans to Germanic tribes and Carthaginians) to  “jumping to France” which was the common form of emigration when I was a kid (Note it involved jumping not one but two borders illegally, much like central American immigrants coming to the US from Mexico.) If there’s something  like being more predisposed to emigration than your average human (who is by nature a colonist, else we’d all still be in Africa) or your average earth creature (ditto, or we’d all still be under the sea) then perhaps Portuguese have the genes.  Or perhaps just the history.

My own family tends to lose half its kids to emigration every generation, something my parents apparently thought they were immune from by having only two.  (I will note my aunts and uncles who had only one seem to have managed to keep that kid in Portugal.  Perhaps there’s something to that, or perhaps they got lucky.)  Two of my dad’s siblings, his next-oldest brother and his younger sister emigrated, he to Brazil and she to Venezuela.  In his case it was one of those “the village was too hot to hold him” (Aka girl trouble.)  In her case, she married young to a young man and it was a case of Venezuela at the time being a good market for unskilled laborers.

For various reasons I’m not sure how our relatives in Brazil do.  My uncle had an only son, and he was never close to the family in Portugal.  Our relatives in Venezuela, after a shaky beginning, seem to have become, in the second generation, much what my family tends to become: mostly doctors or engineers, with the occasional lawyer or … no, wait, I’m the only writer.

In my paternal grandfather’s generation, half the sons emigrated to Brazil.  My grandfather, himself, was an emigrant, of sorts.  He lived in Brazil, Venezuela and (I think longest) South Africa, working as a carpenter in all three places, and returning home as often as he could to see grandma who refused to go anywhere, being attached to her parents’ house and the plot of land in which she was born by some sort of atavistic feeling. Curiously, though he never learned to write in it, my Grandfather not only learned fluent English, but loved it.  He waited impatiently for the grandkids to learn English in school so he could talk to us in the language he loved.  (Maybe there is some atavistic preference there too.)

I am also an immigrant — into the US.  I am a legal immigrant.  I will confess right up front I do not know under what status my relatives emigrated to various countries.  I’m going to presume that due to the fact a lot of them involved sea voyages, at a time when airplane travel was not yet common, there was a visa of some sort.  Whether a work of visitor visa, I’m not informed.

Most of the emigration I heard about, in the village, most of the emigration practiced by men in the village (almost always men) was illegal.  France and Germany desperately needed help rebuilding after WWII and well into my childhood, but both being European nations formed on a blood-and-soil base (and why the heck would it be wrong for them to be so, just because we’re formed on different principles?  WHO declared that it was wrong? Even if the blood part is largely illusory?) they tried to guard their borders.  They weren’t particularly successful.

Most of the Portuguese emigrating in my childhood were the poorest of the poor and often illiterate.  Our neighbors who “jumped over” were probably the cream of the crop, since most people in the village were poor as job, but were at least literate. Knowing the areas and the class most Portuguese immigrants came from, I understand (if not excuse, since two generations later it’s kind of hard to sniff out) the low esteem in which most Frenchmen hold those of Portuguese ancestry. (While traveling long-distance, particularly at night, in public transport in those lands, as a student, I pretended to be French in Germany and German in France.  A sort of generic face, and a mutant accent helped.)

Having established I do have the bonafides to talk about immigration, or at least having established I’ve looked at it from both sides now, and probably from angles people here haven’t thought about much, let’s examine the beast.

People emigrate for all sorts of reasons.  In this case, we’re talking of leaving the place you were born, with no particular destination in sight.  The “I’ve got to get out of this place, if it’s the last thing that I’ll ever do.”

You could say every immigrant was first an emigrant.

In my case it was a form of restlessness, a feeling that I wasn’t at home and didn’t belong.  There could be several causes for this, but not being doctor Fraud, I’ll just say even before I could speak/read in English I read translations of stories set in England and America.  If America hadn’t existed, I’d probably have immigrated to Great Britain.

Why?

Who the heck knows.  The second part of it, immigration — how you pick a particular case — happens for all the same variety of reasons that people marry.

In my case, it was a double love-match, my having fallen in love with my husband and the country.  (And, unfortunately for my MIL’s fantasies of my having married for citizenship, when I chose to throw it all over and marry Dan, I had the paperwork completed and a job offer/grant to finish my doctorate at a prestigious Eastern University.  Yep, I did dodge a bullet. I just didn’t want to force Dan to move across the country, and it all worked out for the best.) I wanted to come here, I wanted to be an American, I wanted my kids to grow up Americans.

I’ve mentioned how, even with the best intentions in the world, acculturation is very painful.  It can be done, but I can’t imagine anyone doing it without sheer necessity either driven by their own internal love of the new country, or by social pressure.  It is harder when there’s a language barrier involved.  Even for people like me, who also fall mad-in-love with the language and are already more than passable in it when they immigrate.  (To want to make a living in your adopted language is completely insane.  I’m not alone in that, but it’s a small enough club we can conclusively say I’m broken.)

There are other, psychological costs to immigration that grow with acculturation and the rate thereof.  I’m running into one of those costs head on as my parents age.  I didn’t mind leaving.  I feel more at home here.  But there is a load of guilty and a load of worry that comes with having aging parents across the sea.  It’s similar to but not exactly the same as having them across the country (for a while there, January 16, Dan and I thought we’d be flying out at the same time in opposite directions for health crisis with our fathers.)  because you also leave the culture behind.  Going back is much like going to a foreign land, one that has disconcerting bits of things that you remember from childhood.  Fewer as time goes on and things change.  I can now get lost in the village, which is no longer a village but a stack-a-prol suburb of Porto.  And no one remembers me, including people I grew up with.  It’s very lowering to find out how forgettable one is, to be aware of how quickly one’s place in the world would disappear when one leaves or dies.

But “falling in love” purely as such must be as rare a form of choosing to immigrate as it is of marriage.  Hush now.  Yes, I know it’s a polite fiction that you marry for love.  And in our society at least it is frowned upon to marry for money or other considerations.  However, I remember my friends’ pairing off, and “love” only works if very broadly defined to “He’s kind of hot, and look, there are all these other reasons.”  Yeah, I married for love.  I immigrated for love, too.  We’ve already agreed I’m broken.

People get married for all sorts of reasons, mostly, honestly, it seemed to me “He asked, and I wanted to get married.”  Some of my friends thought no one would ask ever again.  And some of them analyzed what was on offer and decided they could do with it.

Thirty years later, looking at all those marriages (most of them in haste because we were in our early twenties and getting married was the THE MOST important thing in the world) the ones that survived are not necessarily the ones I’d expect to, but the ones in which each partner had something the other needed.  “Mutually beneficial.”They might not have been mad in love, but they were compatible, and one had the property, the other the management skills, for instance.  Or a profoundly introverted man married a woman who was outgoing enough to be his face to the world.  Or a woman who wanted only to be a home maker married a good provider.

The ones that were the result of mad-in-love with nothing compatible/useful about the alliance tend not to last.

Even though I married for love, what has kept us together, for instance, is that we’re pretty close to the same type of person — bookish, over-thinking, creative — and where we’re not we’re complementary.  I like the hands-on, often physical labor to run a household on shoe string, and Dan likes the fussy, record keeping, maddening (to me) part of keeping our finances and taxes in order.  He plans, I … well, I don’t usually execute his plans but run in where angels fear to tread, and escape only because he has a plan for that too. Without me he’d never have written (Yes, second book, yes, but you know, the last two years were h*ll for EVERYONE in this family) and without him I’d never have published or perhaps written much but poetry.

Immigration, to a particular country is like marriage.  People do it for all sorts of reasons.  But as with a marriage, there are two parts involved, not just one, and like a marriage, there must be something more to it than “mad in love.”

Here I’ll point out that other than being a halfway decent mother and wife, I’m not at all sure what I contribute to the US.  I know my teachers in Portugal were varying shades of annoyed/upset that I emigrated, as they expected me to be an ornament to Portuguese letters (I doubt it.  I loved SF/F too much) but Portugal is a small pond.  I’m not sure here I do much more than get lost in the noise.  However, I do at the very least support myself, which is the basis for deciding whether someone is “contributing” to society, since money is the sincerest form of appreciation.

Immigration is like a marriage, because in essence it is a marriage.  It is an individual throwing in his/her fate with a people.  It is a “and marry our fortunes together” it is a “Wherever thou goest I shall go.”  Your throwing your genetic inheritance in with those people.  You’re submerging yourself in a sea of them.

There is, at least in Portugal a tendency for emigrants to move to a new country and try to keep their kids from intermarrying/staying there.  One of the things we often heard from visiting relatives from other countries was “We have to return before he/she/they start dating.”  Nine times out of ten, it didn’t work.  In fact, I knew only one case in which it worked, which was a neighbor whose daughter seems to have been kept more or less under house arrest in South Africa, so that when they returned and she attended college with me, she was much older but completely drawers at socializing or dating.  She did eventually marry a Portuguese man and she lives in the village, but let me tell you, few parents would go to the extent of abusing their kids just to make sure they “return” to their place of origin.

So, immigration means melding your destiny and that of the people you join.

Now, as above, some immigrants don’t want that/aren’t aware of that.  These are mostly economic immigrants, and they’re often buoyed by the fond idea that they’ll return to their place of origin, with the kids, as soon as the kids hit puberty.  This is more likely/perhaps only likely for countries you can drive/walk to.  There’s something about crossing the ocean that makes that more difficult and Irish and Italians eventually stopped keeping track of whether their kids married in the community.

At any rate, some Mexican immigrants might intend to go back, and some might even do it.  And some of the kids of those might come back too after being dragged back to a “home” that was never theirs.  Keep that mind.

On the other hand many people getting married don’t intend to have it be forever.

Why do I keep bringing marriage up?  Because marriage is the best metaphor for immigration, and because, unlike in immigration, no one doubts that BOTH PARTS TO THE MARRIAGE have a say in it.  Or that when one part doesn’t have a say in it, it is wrong.

There was one of my professors who would dearly have loved to marry me (I got sick of proposals) but that didn’t give him the right to marry me, no matter how great he thought he was for me, or even how great his need for me as a wife.  Everyone agrees that had I been forced to marry him it would be very bad, right?  Okay, then.

America is an entity, constituted by our founding documents and joined by customs and a common genetic and economic destiny.  Legislative, too, but that’s something else.  Wherever we came from, our genes are likely to intermingle since we all live here.  Our economic contributions can make at least a small difference to the nation’s economy.  As self-governing citizens, we have also a small say in how this nation changes, one that makes absolutely no sense, unless we think our children and grandchildren, world without end, will be bound by it.

Which brings us to the Superbowl ad, with the mother and daughter trying to come to the US only to be stopped by a giant wall.  Let’s leave alone the fact that it’s a pernicious lie, that the mother and daughter would have been subjected to rape and worse and likely to die on the way here, and let’s go with the idea that the mother really wants to come here.  She wants a better future for her daughter.  Great.

Americans are sentimental about this.  Most of us, personally or second generation, were either saved or enriched (not just materially) by the opportunity to come here.  So when we see something like that, particularly the little girl with the flag, we go “aw” and react with “bring them in.”  Which is the reaction the ad wanted.

But our land is very rich in relation to the world.  Even our poor are rich.  We are a city on the hill, a brilliant magnet for the suffering and poor in the world.  Given a choice people will want to come here for all sorts of reasons, some of them stupid and “sold” by movies and TV and some sane and sound.

Do I need to tell you we can’t take the world in?  Nor would it make any sense to?

Oh, sure, in sheer land area, we probably could.  Someone estimated at the density of say NYC, we could all live in one state, and leave the rest as a natural park.  Yes, the entire population of the world.

But humans are not eggs, except in the fevered imaginations of statists.  We’re not featureless objects of a certain shape, that can be stacked in convenient crates.  We could make a “supercity of the world” but the war would probably destroy it.  What war?  Really?  You think all those cultures could live together, side by side, within easy driving distance with no friction?  Wow.

I can tell you me and my female friends would be arming up and heading over the sharia neighborhoods to free us some women, or at least the girls who weren’t fully indoctrinated yet.

Which means that the idea that the US could open its doors to everyone, and host everyone, unassimilated, is nonsense.  It doesn’t work that way.  Not unless you guys really want your kids to grow up in the Balkans, with continuous ethnic war.  In which case, please move there and leave us alone.  Oh, sure , you might think it makes a super-state necessary, and you might love that idea, but it never works long term, and also, no, we don’t want our every action regulated, thank you so much.

So immigration is a marriage.  And each immigrant should be evaluated for what he can contribute to the nation, as much as for what the nation can do for him.  Believe it or not (having held work visas to Germany, in a futile effort to get good at the language, I’ve seen my share of these forms, as did my friends who were au-pairs in various countries and whom I often had to help fill those forms) every other country does this.  At a very minimum, you have to fill forms indicating you won’t be a burden to people here, that you won’t be on public assistance, that you have no criminal record.  And your statements are then evaluated.  For countries with a tighter immigration policy, or if you’re an European seeking to immigrate to the US, you have to prove you’re exceptional in some way: grades, IQ, work experience, or whatever.

Yes, sure, refugees in IMMEDIATE FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES are given entry, at least if the fear is justified however tenuously.  But not vast hordes of them, not all of them.  Certainly not all of them are ENTITLED to get in.

The way Jewish refugees were treated in the US was a crying shame, the fact they were sent back to Germany to die was a disgrace.  That was a case of immediate danger.  But most of them, while destitute, were not without skills, as the ones who made it in have proven, and could probably have made it in anyway, without ethnic discrimination, because at the time what America needed was unskilled and semi-skilled labor.

Now?  Now it isn’t.  And arguably now, given the cheaper and easier travel, it is easier for us to setup refugee areas near the places they’re fleeing from, and do what we need to so they can go back home safely.

Does this mean we shouldn’t take any of them?  Oh, h*ll no.  For some it is impossible to go back, ever, and if we think they can be brought in and assimilate and be productive citizens, we should take them in.

The problem is if we DON’T think they can assimilate or be productive, ever.  Do we still HAVE to bring them in?  Why?  Do you want your children to have to support these people’s descendants forever, or to be bound by their children’s block-vote?  Why?  (And please, yeah, sure, Americans will discriminate unfairly sometimes, but in these cases we’re more like to discriminate against Europeans, because generations of Americans have been taught to be REALLY aware of their biases towards everyone else.  Speaking of, what do you do with European refugees as the continent is riven by war and strife, as it bids fair to be?  I’m passionately interested in the answer. And no, mine isn’t “let them all in” even there.  Do you want to be bound by Europeans’ block-vote for the stuff that ruined their lands?  Why?  As we’ve all learned from Californian emigration, some people aren’t good at putting legislative cause and lived effect together.  Make that most people and keep that in mind.)

I fully agree we shouldn’t discriminate on the basis or race, religion or country of origin.  That means, btw, it should be no harder for an European than for a Saudi-Arabian to make it in.  Or a Mexican. Or vice-versa. And if you think that’s true, you haven’t looked at our immigration policies.

But after that, there should be some discrimination.  Or some bargaining if you prefer.  It’s where the marriage contract comes into being.  Even if the person has no intention of having kids or having his/her kids stay here, there is a good chance of that.  And we must make sure that this person brings in at least enough to support his/her kids, be it money or skills or ability, or determination.  And enough to raise his/her kids to be Americans.

Right now the US is really full-up on low-specialization low-skill people.  We have our own home-grown batch, and to keep them on welfare so foreigners can work is ridiculous.  (Except it’s an economic distortion created by high minimum wages and the fact illegals evade that law too.  But we won’t go into that.)  It’s also pernicious as it’s been shown that generations grown on welfare never develop the sills needed to thrive in a free society.

So each immigrant, regardless of color, appearance or origin should be examined by the light of “what do you bring us.”  And absolutely, “high IQ” should count, even if the person is illiterate, provided they want to integrate and learn.  As should people who want to learn or improve, and can prove this.  But “Can support self and is willing to undertake the painful process of assimilation and acculturation” is a basic choice item.  Why would we marry someone who doesn’t want us? Why would we marry someone who just wants to have us support them their whole lives?

Yes, some accommodation should be made for husbands and wives and minor children, or dependent elders, but that’s it.  To extend it further than that is insane, particularly with an effectively open-border policy in a world where the barriers to entry that used to be insurmountably expensive/difficult have fallen due to fast and relatively cheap travel?

I know I’m speaking heresy to many, because the US has viewed itself as the ultimate place of refuge for everyone.  And there’s a reason for that.  But seriously, the world is about to head into a great turmoil, partly seeded by the wishful-thinking reality-ignoring policies of the previous administration.  And we’re not in the late nineteenth century world of having to cross the ocean in a steam boat at extreme cost.  We are in a world where everywhere is a few hours away.  Do you want all the trouble in the world here? right next to you?  In your neighborhood?

Some control needs to exerted.  The US is not the virgin in a mountain fastness, whom only the men who really love will attempt to conquer.  Planes and the democratization of plane travel means she’s the woman in a big city whom every guy can “marry” on purpose, by accident or because it seemed a good idea at the time, and even if they don’t really like her and mean to destroy her.

What are we going to do about that?  I don’t propose closing the door/declaring a policy of eternal celibacy.  But I do propose to ask “What do they bring to the marriage?”

It is the right of everyone who is already an American and whose futures will essentially be “married” to those of the new immigrants to ask “how will your contribution or lack thereof affect my descendants/the descendants of the people I care about?”

This is neither racism, nor discrimination, but self-preservation.  Anyone who says otherwise is trying to push you into a forced marriage.

 

 

 

 

 

When The Machine Breaks

This doesn’t refer to my battle with flu from hell, (I’m okay, sort of, except still running a low grade fever — to be fair I get that from auto-immune attacks too.  Don’t ask — and very, very tired) and ow it interrupted my writing and projected writing.  This has something to do with it in that when I get sick and can’t get well in a timely manner, I always feel like a) I’m doing something wrong b)get angry at myself for not getting well already.  This fits larger patterns where things don’t behave as “expected.”

I made a comment at one point that what is causing the left’s extreme panic-tantrum is the fact the machine broke.  Brad Torgersen used this for a facebook post, and crazy comments ensued.  At any rate I don’t remember exactly what I said anymore, but it went something like this: the left fed the right coins into the machine — the fundraising for Hillary was astonishing — and pulled all the right levers, from a press more than fully in the tank (to the point of getting the debate questions ahead of time to the Hillary campaign and also of BURYING her many scandals, including Benghazi, the financial shenanigans of the Clinton foundation, and the crazy server-in-the-bathroom stupidity), to celebrity endorsements, to more or less helping the Republicans select the candidate the democrats thought least likely to win against Hillary. Fraud to the extent it exists (It did in massive galloping amounts in the precinct I watched in 12.

The polls, cooked or not, were no more cooked than in 2012, and they showed a blow out.  EVERYTHING WAS GOING SO WELL.

And then the machine broke.  Instead of the planned, prepared, pushed Hillary presidency it delivered Trump.

Right now, from pussy hats to riots, the left is reacting like teenagers who did everything right and for whom the vending machine failed to deliver what they purchased.  So they’re screaming, and trying to push the machine and slamming it against the wall, trying to get it to dispense the treat they bought.

Their reaction is understandable — no, really — but it’s also become so unhinged I’m afraid they’ll bring the machine down on top of themselves.

And yet, yes, it’s understandable.  You see, humans are creature of habit and creatures of narrative.  The Left has known — and admitted — for very long that the media slant gave them an extra ten percent of electoral advantage.  They know that doing what they did always worked in the past.  FURTHER the narrative, because progressivism is a splinter church of communism which is a full on religious belief with tales of a primitive communitarian Eden, and its counterpart tales of a perfect communist future where the state isn’t even needed to assure form each according to his ability and to each according to his need, believes in an arrow of history and believes the future always moves in their direction.  It falls from their lips and pens in the unconsidered way of a subconscious belief: “the right side of history”  “The side of the future” etc.

After 2012, having achieved the election of arguably the most leftist President ever (well, in living memory.  There is a reason he kept identifying with FDR) they thought the future was now theirs, and within striking distance.  When they keep saying Hillary is the most qualified candidate EVER, they are right.  They don’t care about her little snaffus like Benghazi because that doesn’t matter to them.  What mattered was her impeccable authoritarian and progressive credentials.  They thought she was a slam dunk and would solidify the results of the long march into the (in their opinion) utopian socialist regime of their dreams, making a defanged US into a sort of Europe-light, which in turn would not “take” so much of the world’s wealth (remember these people have no more idea of wealth creation than they do of flying unassisted) and make the whole world richer, and because war comes from economic deprivation (go with it.  Yeah, I know, but it’s what they believe) there would be world piece and mercy abounding.

This they thought was Hillary’s mandate and what was within striking distance.  And instead they get a president who puts the brakes on the taking of unvetted refugees (note the left didn’t mind Obama’s 6 month moratorium or call it a “Muslim ban” — it wasn’t anymore than Trump’s is — because they knew Obama was on their side, so he must be right.)  They get a president who has a mandate to dismantle the crazy golem of Obamacare. They get a president who is moving to reduce regulations on US industry and commerce, thereby unleashing us to become richer (you must remember they think this happens by stealing and oppressing from other countries.)

It’s no wonder they’re losing their minds, though it’s still insane that they are talking about Trump taking women’s rights (I’d like one of them to tell me which rights he’s taken!) and it’s bizarre to call someone who is reducing regulation “fascist.”  (They must believe fascism happens UNLESS a boot steps on the human face forever.  I have no idea what to do with such complete misunderstanding of human nature and human history.  None.)

The thing is what is happening to the left is coming for all of us.  I’ve had it hit me before, about five years ago, in my profession.  Our political disruption, and the fact that “doing the right things” no longer works is a reflection of catastrophic technological change, i.e. change that moves so fast it destroys entire industries and ways of life. Even when that change is for the better — and it largely has been — it leaves people feeling lost and confused.

Humans don’t adapt well to rapid change, and humans have trouble coming up with relatives to replace the ones they grew up with.

So the insanity you see in politics, in writing, in entertainment (music!) and in journalism, and which is starting to hit education (and would already have save for the MILLIONS governments have pumped into it the last decade, which weirdly have delayed the impact of new tech BUT also made it more inevitable education as we know it will fall, just as the push model for publishing made it more lucrative for a bout a decade, but also helped distance publishing decisions from what people actually bought and therefore opened the door to the impact of indie.) and I suspect a lot of other fields, some of which don’t even know it.

Yes I know we wanted flying cars and colonies on the moon.  We don’t have that — yet.  Who knows? — but we got instant communication and trade of knowledge and knowledge-work around the world and relatively cheap transportation. We also got the ability for any individual anywhere, with relatively small investment, to reach any number of individuals all over the world. It’s far more subtle, but perhaps more revolutionary than flying cars or colonies on the moon.  It’s changing the way society functioned since the late nineteenth century and gluing it back again in ways that were unimaginable even fifty years ago.

When YOUR machine breaks, when the way things always worked stops working, bafflement, panic and anger are normal.  Be prepared, so instead of reacting in a destructive manner, you react rationally, thinking through what happened, and how you can take advantage of the change that is inevitably coming for you.

Let that be your narrative.  Ride the wave of change to better shores.  Be not afraid.

 

All Animals Are Equal

When I went into high school, I went into a very different environment  than my brother had encountered almost 10 years earlier.  He’d gone through a “sorted” system.

This didn’t apply in the village school, where the classes were fairly small (my graduating class was 12) but the reigning educational theory (and one I’ve come to believe is by far the better) was that people learned best in groups of their general ability.

Indeed, if you’re going to have a public school, and teach people as a cohort, it is easier and better to put kids of the same rough ability through at the same time.  My brother was selected into the top rank, and many of his lifelong friends are doctors, top-ranking officials, and other such people.

When I came through revolutionary ethos had taken over, or rather Revolutionary! Ethos! because it was that derpy.  Painting revolutionary murals — yes Revolutionary! Murals! — was more important than regular education, for ex, because it taught us the eternal truths of Marxism.  To make room for such vagaries, we ended up striking from the curriculum things like Latin and Greek, classic literature and history, and — to the chagrin of my music teacher this didn’t matter to me, since I’d been struck by pneumonia the year before and lost my hearing to the extent I couldn’t hear notes.  Before that I’d been slated for piano instruction, though — frivolities like music and dance (the later of which affected my best friend who was the most promising ballet pupil of her age range, but whose parents could not afford private instruction.  I know what it’s like to deny a true vocation.  Not only did I try to do it to myself for years, with writing, but I watched her being eaten from the inside out.)

But more importantly, at the ground level, the teaching philosophy changed.  We were told that many students were mismatched into lower levels, particularly those who came from poor or lower educated homes, and this in turn made them unable to attain their true potential.  This was true.  Years later I made a precarious living teaching tenant farmers’ daughters the stuff they would have learned at home, in a more bookish household.  And though the reason the parents paid (not much, trust me) for the lessons was the certainty this would allow the girls to get higher-class husbands; but from my efforts there emerged a couple of medical doctors and some professors who would never otherwise have even aspired to such heights.  However true, though, the solution they arrived at was to abolish “ranked” forms (a form is a group of students who goes through all classes at the same time.  In most European nations you’re not given a choice of what classes to take in high school.  Heck, you might not get it in college.  My college offered two electives in third year and three in fourth year, all the rest being set pieces. If this seems completely insane to you, imagine what the American system seemed like to me when I first came here for twelfth grade.)

So my first year in high school, I found myself in a “mixed” classroom, in which I not only was the best, but it was very easy to be the best.  I coasted.  It was easy to see how we were chosen, btw, because everyone in the form had a last name (and often a first name) that started with A.  Yes, we were the A form.  (How creative.)

And then I guess the teachers, trained in the old model, got tired of the glacial pace the new model imposed on everyone.  Because the truth is, if you throw everyone into the same classroom, the ones who set the pace are the absolutely slowest.  So somewhere, in the dark of night, in arranging the forms for the second year in high school — I can’t even imagine how they got everyone on board with this — the forms got reshuffled “randomly”.  I only had a friend from the first year, in the same form, and she was the only one who’d offered me any competition.

The result was form N.  I SHOULD have had an idea something was afoot, because our classroom was located in the old carriage house (the school had once been an earl’s palace) had no windows, and was kind of hard for random inspectors to find.  (The classroom the year after was even more interesting, being atop the new building, past an expanse of broken furniture, in a room so small (it was a storage room the year before) that to go to the bathroom, if you set far from the door, you had to walk atop a row of desks.  We had 32 pupils crammed in there. )  But I’m stupid, okay.  So I sailed into class late (first day) and was shocked to find they were actually having a lesson (normally first day is a blow off.)  Then when the teacher asked a question, I waited a while, because I knew no one would answer and I’d look GOOD.  Except that in two seconds every hand in that classroom was up.

The teachers had picked the best students from every form, and made two forms.  We’d go through the rest of high school together.  The teachers loved us.  Unless they were new, badly prepared teachers, and then they hated us.  Even though by law we had to learn from the same books as the other students, our teachers found ways to supplement, including assigning us independent study projects, which we then presented.  Mine for 9th grade (Portuguese High school starts with 7th) history was tracking the fluctuations of currency due to the influx of gold from the discoveries.  I spent months in the municipal library tracking primary 17th century sources.  It taught me not just proper research techniques, but also a lot about economics (which contradicted the Keynesian model being pushed down our throats in economics, incidentally.)

I didn’t think anything about the two models of teaching (they went back to the equalitarian one, of course, since it started being pushed in teacher preparation) until a friend said that the reason the teacher in first grade was being so hard on my literate, articulate older son was that “the aim of elementary school is to level the learning, so middle school starts with everyone at the same level.”  This seemed daft, and I did in fact prevent them from making Robert learn to “guess” words, when he could already read them.  (Mostly by screaming, “Don’t guess.  Sound the d*mn thing out” at him, and by making him read to me while I was cooking or had my hands otherwise busy.)

WHY would you want to have kids unlearn the things they were supposed to learn, in order to make everyone alike?

I was thinking about this recently when someone complained of the deplorable (ah!) literacy of millenials, who seem to misspell their protest signs.  I’d lay it at the door of this.

So the push for the grand, unified, equalitarian classroom had a point.  Some students were being misclassified and this limited their potential.  I actually agree with this, though I’ll argue they were less likely to be misclassified in my brother’s time than by the method they used by stealth in my time: in my brother’s time they used IQs.  And don’t tell me those discriminate FOR people who are better at taking tests.  I know that.  Younger son has only recently conquered his panic fear of tests, while his brother ate tests for breakfast.  We were lucky when we did have him tested, the psychology was aware of this and made it seem like a game/puzzle which he loved.  BUT they were still more accurate, because the reason you’re better in the classroom might be linked to a ton of of other things, like better socialization or just a facility with words.

But by going to a “unified” classroom, now so far as I know used everywhere, what you do is not bring those kids up, but bring EVERYONE ELSE down, thereby leading to a dumbing down of the general population.

It is tempting to say that the progressive projected intended this, but that’s giving them too much credit.  It’s more that like their progenitors in the French revolution, they never learned the difference between equality of opportunity and equality of results.  And the only way to make results equal is ALWAYS to reduce to the lowest common denominator.

Which, in case you wonder, is why they’re pushing for universal college education.  It’s four more years to pound in this stultifying “equality.”  It’s an opportunity to make sure All Animals Are Equal!

But in the end, as with everything they take over, all they do is kill it, gut it, and wear its skin demanding respect.  Because that’s not the way this works.  That’s not the way any of this works.  If the school turns out equal ignoramuses, the school becomes valueless and employers start looking for other things.  Right now it seems to be internship experience.  And in the end, some people will do better than others, because humans are not widgets, and can’t be made into widgets.  Even the USSR didn’t manage it.

Meanwhile what the social engineers have achieved is a classroom that works badly for EVERYONE.  And you know, one can’t help but suspect them of malice.  Surely if what they wanted to do was elevate the unprepared smart, wouldn’t it be better to provide them with tutors at public expense? (Thereby helping the tutors, often the bright sons and daughters of the lower middle or working class, with some income to dissuade their parents from taking them out of school and putting them to work in factories.)  In the end, it would have cost some money, but it would have rendered up much higher dividends, particularly if such tutors were provided in elementary and middle school, so that the kids got “sorted” right in high school.

But some people simply can’t stand the idea someone might be better than someone else, or perhaps the idea anyone is better than they are.  (I remember reading a biography of Evita Peron in which she said the fact that rich people existed made her furious.  At the time we were beyond broke and didn’t see our way out of that situation.  I found her words incomprehensible.  Part of what provided me with joy was the knowledge we might be eating dirt, but there were people living happy lives.  In fact, sometimes, I made us sandwiches and we parked our car in a scenic “rich” neighborhood — it just occurred to me writing this, it looked much like where I live now — and ate there, to just bask in the beauty of the houses and the park.)

The people this system serves worst are the very gifted.  They either become incredibly bored and tune out school altogether, or they go through life enraged against “society” that doesn’t understand them and treats them so shabbily.  A lot of our radical losers are the product of this system.

While this accords with the Progressive aim of destroying all sorts of wealth (even intellectual wealth) and distributing poverty, it doesn’t serve anyone well, and it serves society and species very badly indeed.

We’ve spent at least forty years eating our seed corn and turning our best and brightest into enemies of civilization.

It’s time it stopped.  You must homeschool.  What if you can’t homeschool?  Homeschool anyway.  What I mean is we couldn’t either (mostly because I got REALLY ill just before Robert would have started kindergarten and I couldn’t do it, I just couldn’t) so we sent them to school.  And then we spent two/three hours a day at home deprogramming them and teaching them.  It’s that long because you need to get them over the stupid cr*p they teach them.  Like, for the longest time, Robert thought that glass was a non-renewable resource.  But you should also push books/educational games/resources at them. And most of all convey that you expect their intellect to be limitless.  There is no age range for learning, that’s a lie of the educational establishment.  You might (or not) wish to cull out books with explicit sexual content (yeah, you try having a three year old passionate about Rome.  I dare you) but other than that, you shouldn’t pull punches.  Find out what they want to learn and feed it to them in vast quantities.  And if they want to learn what you don’t know, find them tutors or courses online (there are excellent resources.  Also, btw, the Great courses now has Latin 101.  I hope they have Greek soon.)

Expose them to great works of the past.  Bypass our “occupied” classrooms and pump them full of the roots of their own culture (by which I mean Western culture.  Kindly remember whatever your genetics, culture is NOT genetic.  Sure, teach them a bit of their genetic history and language if they want to learn.  I don’t think anyone was ever the worse off for Chinese history or Bantu language. But make sure they know the culture they are growing up in, and its glories, better than anything else.)

The left is in a race to make traditional education irrelevant.  We must help them.  As we did to the news media, with news blogs and aggregators and eye-witness accounts, we must help traditional education enter oblivium by performing its stated function better and more deeply, and in a way that is appropriate to each individual.

We can do it, as my boss says, with “An army of Davids.”

Get to work.

Oppressive!

Imagine you were creating a world.

If you can’t, then you’re probably not a writer of science fiction and fantasy.  We create worlds on a regular basis, from those that are completely, enormously different, to those that are slightly different.

If you’re working on big differences say “imagine the Earth is always cooler” then one thing you need to worry about is a consistent history and how it influenced your present day characters.

So, imagine you created a species with sexual dimorphism.  This means that the sexes are different.  Men and women are not the same.  Men are generally larger, stronger, more muscular, and able to survive body blows better.  Women are smaller, more agile, more fragile, capable of enduring pain better.  (No, ladies, when your husbands are being such babies with an illness it’s not their fault.  They feel pain more than we do.)

Psychologically, the body imposes certain psychological differences.  The sex hormones have different effects on the brain from the time of gestation on.  I’m not an  endocrine specialist, so I can’t go into all the details, but I do know testosterone makes you think “clearer, faster, more incisively” and estrogen makes you think “deeper, more connected and layered.”

So in this species men and women have different but covalent specialties.  If you intend — we assume you do — for this species to eventually develop science and technology, then both modes of thinking are needed and complementary.  Sure, because any individual exists on a continuum, some men’s thinking will more layered and deeper and more connected, but men will be on the women’s low range for this, so having women in a project probably makes it better.

This is complicated by evolution which molds men’s and women’s social styles in different ways.  While both men and women work in groups — we are a social ape — they work differently in groups.  This is probably because men in hunting parties needed to respond well to overt hierarchy while women in gathering parties were more likely to have their children survive if they have deep sideways connections and sort of a behind the scenes power.  Because if you don’t have connections, everyone is going to let your kids be eaten by a bear while you’re picking berries.

Which means that men and women don’t have similar social styles.  We do interact well enough in romance, but we have serious issues when working together.  We’ll leave that aside for now.  (It’s not true in all cases, and what is required is a more male-working-mode, which is why as women go into work there is a push to function as men.  More on that later.)

Anyway, in this world you created, before technology, everyone lived a rather miserable life.  How?

Um… hunting and gathering or even scraping by on agriculture was a miserable life.  Men died early because of hunt accidents or later work accidents or deformities or illnesses acquired while working under all weathers.  Seriously, if you haven’t read about how banged up male skeletons we unearth, you can’t even imagine.

Being a woman was also a miserable life, in many ways, but it was differently miserable.  Most women worked at as safe a job as there was, and these jobs were often menial and monotonous.  That meant they were less likely to die of their work, which was good because for species survival women needed to be spared for child birth which in pre tech days killed a huge number of them.

Now for women who weren’t having children for whatever reason, or who were past the age of having children, their work was monotonous and usually more intricate then men’s, but far less likely to kill them.  There is a reason the civilizational hypothesis resting on old age passing on its knowledge is called The Grandmother Hypothesis not the Grandparent Hypothesis.

Men endured harder work, that was more likely to kill them early.  They were also more likely to die in war.

Introduce some tech and the resultant prosperity and for a brief moment in time, men’s work becomes SOMEWHAT easier, (it’s still harder than women’s because of it takes advantage of men’s greater body strength) and less likely to kill you.  Industrialized war, though, will kill men in batch lots (see WWI and II or heck the Napoleonic wars.)

The brief prosperity might (NOTE MIGHT) enable oppressive patriarchy in certain places and for a brief time (except in cultures where, because desert cultures it was always the safe path: for reasons like protecting women from raids by enemies, which I don’t have the time to cover right now) men, due to higher body strength could impose a sort of subjection on women, which was supposed to keep them safe, but also kept them in their menial, lower-impact, more-boredom roles.  Note this was only possible in certain societies and cultures.  That subjugation of women in Victorian age that all the feminist writers are obsessed with was only possible in the wealthy classes.

Nor were women there or in China and Arab countries (where the subjugation came earlier and stronger, for other reasons we have no time to get into but which tie in with the danger of existence in those parts of the world) without resort.  There is a reason poison is a woman’s weapon, but beyond that, anyone who comes from a very patriarchal culture knows how much mom rules the roost behind closed doors.  This is something no feminist writer from the US seems able to GET.  They don’t seem to understand the more covert forms of power, but only the in your face, overt and open forms of power.

Which brings us to today in your world building.

All of a sudden the sex that was kept protected and in boring work, the sex that was kept from war and pain as much as possible, is up in arms and screaming they must be liberated of these restraints and they must be given compensation for centuries of oppression.

As your mentor, reading your world building, I’m going to tell you “Waitafargin minute, why are the females the ones that’s considered oppressed?  The men were the ones killed in batch lots both by war and by trying to make a living.  It was the men who endured hard and dangerous work in all weathers.  Arguably it was the women who oppressed them by convincing them to go out there and to it.  Your worldbuilding doesn’t work, son.  This is highly implausible.  Even if you add in that period where in upper class western societies men could really oppress those women under their power, you’d have to be a ninny not to realize the women fought back with subversion and indoctrination.  See the myth of the woman as angel, for instance.  Non western societies are more complicated but there, too, life was horrible for men.  So let’s talk about this. Your world just won’t work.  Shouldn’t men be clamoring for redress of the evils perpetrated on them through centuries.”

And then you’d point out women are deeper, more connected, more layered thinkers, and mass communication and more importantly story telling for entertainment on a level that never happened before is what created the myth of the oppressed women.  Mostly because women were freeing themselves from the restrictions imposed upon them by nature (the pill; labor saving devices; etc.) and felt how free they were by comparison to their grandmothers, and therefore back-cast their grandmothers into vile and oppressive submission.

And I’d admit your world building MIGHT work, but dear lor, that’s a dystopia.  these women who don’t know the history of the race will push forth into men’s roles*, and in the process try to get revenge for ills that really never happened (except through the unforgiving hand of mother nature) by making men more feminine, and trying to subjugate them.  Neither of which role reversion will work well with the human animal, and will lead to miserable women, miserable men and a dramatic fall in reproduction which means putting the future in jeopardy except in those areas in which, for other reasons, women really are held in vile subjugation and their condition held to be less than human.  Which means, because the future belongs to those who reproduce, the truly oppressive patriarchy which subjugates women and twists men into caricatures of themselves will inherit the world, after your civilization’s comedy of errors runs its course.

Fortunately, this is just an imaginary world, and it will never happen here.  Right?

*Note, I’m in no way implying women shouldn’t work, or even work outside the home, or that women shouldn’t do things we traditionally view as “male” because technology now enables women to do these, and note that I said above a lot of it, such as scientific endeavors, can benefit from having a different perspective.  I’m objecting to the “OBLIGATION” to do these and do them in male fashion, which is a great part of social pressure.  Same as the femininization of men.  Neither are needed to have the sexes take advantage of tech to cooperate in life and work.

The State of the Writer by Sarah and Sunday Vignettes by Mary Catelli, Luke and ‘Nother Mike.

The State of the Writer by Sarah and Sunday Vignettes by Mary Catelli, Luke and ‘Nother Mike.

So, what is the state of the writer?
Having caught con crud at Cosine because the room was unheated for over 24 hours, while it was 18 degrees outside, we’ve been battling it for about two weeks.  It’s possible it was the flu or something weird.  At any rate, I’ve been almost well twice, then the disease did a u-turn and I was suddenly almost dead.

For the last two days I’ve been ALMOST well enough to write, which is the most frustrating part of this.  Yesterday Dan tempted me from dozing on the recliner (you can always tell when I’m ill because not only do I stop long enough to sleep, but naps seem like delightful ideas.  Normally you have trouble making me think of sleep.  I’m like those babies who fight it, it’s always less interesting than whatever is going on) to go see the mummies exhibit, on its way out at DMNS.  But when we got there it was so crowded I told him I couldn’t, in good conscience go in, for the same reason we’ve been avoiding restaurants and parties: I wouldn’t give this to my worst enemy.

So we went for a stroll in city park.  Objectively it should have made me MUCH worse.  There was a cold wind blowing which if nothing else should have kicked up my asthma.  Weirdly, it cleared my head and seems to have made me feel much better.  Still sick mind, but more on the level of normal head cold than “oh, my heavens, I know this won’t kill me but it feels like it would.”

Right now I’m feeling the need of a nap (I’ve been up 2 hours) but believe it or not that’s an improvement, and there’s some expectation I CAN write after the nap.  OTOH for the first time in 20 years we’ll be missing “the old grope”‘s Superbowl Party, which will break Dan’s heart.

I hope so.  I have delivered Darkship Revenge, and so far the comments from the betas is that it’s very, very good.  I thought what came next was Darkship Defiance, but I started getting this other book dictated to me.  And it goes between the two darkships.  (Sigh.)  See excerpt at bottom.

I have the Magical Lewis and Clark (look, bunnies, if I felt better I’d write out the whole title.  Fargin mouthful, trust me) to finish with KJA.  I should be able to have a draft to him sometime next week (supposing I stop actually turning back into severe illness.)

Witch’s Daughter, the follow on to Witchfinder is getting edited and made readable.

Then there’s Guardian, with Larry (It’s already scheduled for Jan. next year.)

And THEN I should be able to get to this.  Which would be good, since the stupid character is dictating in my mind, every time I start to fall asleep (Oh, and this is not the book of someone impaired.  Not for the entire book.  In Darkship Revenge, Fuse is in the process of being healed.  Which means his troubles have JUST begun.)

Hacking the Storm

Sarah A. Hoyt

Book 3 of the Earth Revolution

 

Flashes

 

Fuse

 

In the beginning there was darkness.

In the darkness there was chaos.

Flashes broke the chaos, randomly, blindingly, with the force of  revelations visited onto an unsuspecting world.

My name is Ajith Mason.  But really, that’s my father.  Good Man Mason.  I’ve been called Fuse as long as I can remember.  I don’t know why.

Darkness.  I was lying on something soft.  My wrists hurt.  I pulled at them, and felt straps.  Straps at my ankles.  At my middle.  I heard a moan and realized it was mine.

How did I come to be here?  Where was I before?

There was a memory, bright and clean.  I needed materials for a boom.  There had been a negotiation for materials to make a big boom.  I had got a tip from a broomer lair.  I–  I couldn’t get anyone to help me.  There wasn’t Athena.  Athena had left.  I went by myself.

A trap.

I fought against the bonds, and dark took over.  Another flash,

“He’s fighting.”

“His mind is coming back. He’ll remember.”

“I don’t think he’ll remember.  Not yet. Takes time.”

“He’ll remember.  I want him sedated.”

The second voice.  My mind sought and found a word for that voice Father.

I couldn’t remember a face, nor a name, nor who my father was.  But one thing I was fully sure of: he was trying to kill me.

There was something over my eyes.  I couldn’t see, but I could hear.  I’d always been really good at hearing.  I heard two sets of breathing in the room.  One was still, the other was moving around the room, touching something that sounded like glass.  A vial.  Father wanted me sedated.  They were going to sedate me.  And then Father would kill me.

Oh, hell, no.  That wasn’t going to happen.

 

 

Sunday Vignettes!

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:

witnesses

Have Some Promo – Free Range Oyster

Have Some Promo – Free Range Oyster

Once more unto the breach comes the promo post! Reports of my demise may have been slightly embellished. On the contrary, the Oyster Clan has recently grown by one more minion. Granted I may look somewhat dead now, but I assure you I still have a pulse. But! Back to the matter at hand: BOOKS! In my hiatus I’ve received several new submissions. We have a new series launched, a series finished, a couple others continuing; life is good in indie Hun fiction land. Go grab a book and a nice cuppa, and enjoy the lovely winter weather from the comfort of your couch. If you’ve already read everything on offer, give a shout in the comments for some recommendations. As always, future promo post entries can (and should!) be sent to my email. Happy reading!

Jason Dyck, AKA The Free Range Oyster

Karen Myers

On a Crooked Track

The Chained Adept Book 4

SETTING A TRAP TO CATCH THE MAKERS OF CHAINED WIZARDS.

A clue has sent Penrys back to Ellech, the country where she first appeared four short years ago with her mind wiped, her body stripped, and her neck chained. It’s time to enlist the help of the Collegium of Wizards which sheltered her then.

Things don’t work out that way, and she finds herself retracing a dead scholar’s crooked track and setting herself up as a target to confirm her growing suspicions. But what happens to bait when the prey shows its teeth?

In this conclusion to the series, tracking old crimes brings new dangers, and a chance for redemption.

The Chained Adept

The Chained Adept Book 1

A STRONG WIZARD WITH UNANSWERED QUESTIONS AND A CHAIN AROUND HER NECK.

Penrys’s past is unknown, but she’s got a better grip on her future: find out where she came from, discover what happened to her, and figure out how the unremovable chain around her neck makes her different from other wizards.

What any of this has to do with the renewal of an ugly war between neighboring countries, half a world away, is just something she’ll have to sort out, along with the rumors of wizards where they don’t belong.

Assuming, of course, that no one removes her as a threat before she can find her footing.

All she wants is a firm foundation for the rest of her life, with a side helping of retribution, and if she has to fix things along the way, well, so be it.

Laura Montgomery

Sleeping Duty

Waking Late Book 1

Gilead Tan and Andrea Fielding survived their stint in the military, got married, signed up to emigrate to a terraformed colony world, and went into cold sleep for the journey from Earth. While they slept, the starship went through the wrong fold in space and settled for a different world, a wild world. Three centuries after the founding of a colony on the uncharted planet, Gilead awakens to find humanity slipped back to medieval tech and a feudal structure. Worse, the king who wants Gilead awake wont let Gilead awaken his wife.

Amie Gibbons

Psychic Undercover (With The Undead)

A Paranormal Mystery

Vampires aren’t the only things that go bump in the night…

Singers are a dime a dozen in Nashville, so despite her mama’s urging, psychic Ariana Ryder’s working her way towards a career in law enforcement at the FBI, one tray of fetched coffee at a time, instead. She’s got an extremely handsome boss, a dancing partner among the lab techs, and a solid year as the team rookie under her belt…

Right until the director gives her a big break, working undercover as a singer at a club to investigate why it’s being targeted by a serial killer. This might have worked better if the club didn’t happen to be a vampire nest.

Now, with the vampire’s investigator, Quil, on her case, the jurisdictional battle isn’t the only thing heating up as they race to solve the case before the killer strikes again!

Cyn Bagley

Dragon Boy

Hilda’s Inn Book 2

So who or what is Davi Dracson?

If you’re down on your luck, come to Hilda’s Inn for a game of dice and cheap ale. The hundred-year-stew has been stewing for a hundred years and the fire never burns out.

Except Hilda’s Inn is under new management, and Hilda is on the run with Davi, a dragonling. There will be dwarfs, ogres, dragons, and magical trinkets between Delhaven and Koenigstadt, the king’s city.

Don’t forget that the woods are not a safe place—the Draugr is lurking and
hungry. And, he has a taste for magic.

Henry Vogel

The Undercover Captain

Captain Nancy Martin Book 2

Unwillingly drawn out of her annual drunken stupor, Captain Nancy Martin, Retired, finds herself involuntarily reactivated. Her assignments help Special Agent Erica Hampton solve the disappearance of an entire school’s student body. Hampton’s superiors suspect a slaver ring has kidnapped the children, to sell them on a rim world beyond the Terran Federation’s borders.

When Nancy and Erica discover the truth behind the abductions, they realize their deadline is quite literal, and much closer than they thought. When the gloves come off, the missing children couldn’t have anyone better fighting for their lives.

It will take every bit of skill Nancy and Erica have to track down the villains behind the disappearances. Defeating them will be a different matter entirely.

Amanda Green

Dagger of Elanna (Sword of the Gods Book 2)

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Cait Hawkener has come to accept she might never remember her life before that terrible morning almost two years ago when she woke in the slavers’ camp. That life is now behind her, thanks to Fallon Mevarel and the Order of Arelion. Now a member of the Order, Cait has pledged her life to making sure no one else falls victim as she did.

But danger once more grows, not only for Cait but to those she calls friends. Evil no longer hides in the shadows and conspirators grow bold as they move against the Order and those who look to it for protection. When Cait accepts the call to go to the aid of one of the Order’s allies, she does not know she is walking into the middle of conspiracy and betrayal, the roots of which might help answer some of the questions about her own past.

Come On, Take It – A Blast From the Past from January 2016

*I’m still sick and I’m beginning to be tired of it.  At least I know it’s not something peculiar to me, or something I’m doing wrong, because “this is going around” and taking a long time to get over for everyone.  Though at almost two weeks, it is pushing the limits of my tolerance.  And my poor husband’s too (since he’s down with it also.)
I was casting about for a BPF for today, and this seemed to be apropos.  At least part of the reason that idiots are losing their minds on the street is that they think nationalism or ANY enforcement of borders equals Nazism.
It is important to remember what Nationalism is and what it isn’t, particularly in reference to the US which in this as in so many other things stands alone and apart from the rest of the world.
As I was reading through several posts and hit this one, a Portuguese poem came to mind that ends with “Give us against the erroneous hour when a new infidel threatens, the sword as a blessing and the blessing as a sword.” (Fernando Pessoa, Don Afonso Henriques).  I thought if you substitute sword with Constitution, you won’t go far wrong: Give us against the erroneous hour in which a new infidel threatens, the Constitution as a Sword.  And a blessing too, while you’re at it.
Go on, take it.

Come On, Take It – A Blast From the Past from January 2016

Yesterday, on a private forum a friend of mine who here will go under the name Sam Anderson said the following:

Patriotism is good. Nationalism through a patriotic lens, seeing your country as worthwhile, as having prospects and things to be proud of, is not only acceptable but necessary for the health of any nation. But MOST especially the United States, because it’s one thing for the French to be ashamed of being French, but at the end of the day, they’re still going to be French. France is established on ethnic and historical foundations, and even if the French think they suck, there can still be citizens of France. Just not very long, since self-loathing aligns you, first metaphorically, then inevitably in practice, with enemies who ALSO loathe you.

But an American just CAN’T believe in nothing, CAN’T reject the philosophy underpinning America, and be one. Philosophy IS America. There’s nothing else to base it on, and there’s no “philosophy on the side” option. There’s no “shared values” or that bullshit. There’s a piece of paper that lays out precisely how the government functions, tells it what it doesn’t get to do, and tells YOU to go shift for yourself. Now yeah, maybe you can quibble with a point or two of it. Lots of people did then, too. But people who reject, wholesale, that that makes sense as the foundation of a country- who complain about negative rights, who call the constitution outdated- de facto, aren’t American, the same way you couldn’t be a Catholic but not believe in G*d. Aphilosophical American is a contradiction in terms. The most they can do is live somewhere between Mexico and Canada. We’ve got a lot of that kind of “American”.

But nationalism is only a problem when it starts to supersede rather than represent a people. The American people, left mostly to their own devices, with most of their own money and most of their own time, even if they only SORT OF try to adhere to their founding principles, can turn the world upside down. It’s not because of any particular genetic, ethnographic, economic, or so on reason. You could do it with anyone… they’d just have to agree to the challenging but rewarding terms of freedom, which historically much of humanity would rather trade for security. But America, the national body- the government bureaucrats meant to represent the people, who increasingly act in contravention of same- that America cannot find its ass with both hands. It’s just the resurgence of a far inferior product coming back under a much more successful and respected brand.

One of the lines you can draw between right and left is, when a conservative roots for America, they mean the individual entrepreneurs, athletes, artists, and scholars- the millions of little people who even now, every so often, by the grace of determination, judicious risk taking, and hard work, manage to do a few really big things. When a liberal roots for “America”, they back the bully-boys in the government with the private jets… the big institutions that nevertheless manage routinely to fuck up thousands of little things.

THAT’S the form of nationalism that’s toxic.

Let’s go back to what Sam said “Philosophy IS America.”  If you don’t believe in the founding principles, you’re not an American.  You’re at best a permanent resident who grew up here and behaves generally within the law.

We’re a volitional citizenship.  Yes, if you were born here, you are LEGALLY an American.  You can legally be a lot of things that you’re not even close to being in reality.  Take all the college people running around screaming they want to be protected from micro-micro aggressions.  They are legally adults.

My younger kid is also legally an adult, and although closer to an adult than most of the micro-aggressed, he still lives at home and has never had to provide for his daily upkeep.  He’s a legal adult, but not an adult like say any of you who have to work for a living.  (We let him only because he’s taking two stem degrees concurrently and not taking accommodations for his sensory issues.)

Do I think it was a mistake of the founders to allow citizenship of birth in a nation of volition?  You bet your beepy I do.  They got so much right, though, and they were only human.  They couldn’t believe anyone born here, enjoying the blessings of liberty could possibly wish to believe that a system where “we belong to the government” is better.

They were wrong.  In a way, again, understandable, since they’d given their life, their fortunes, their sacred honor for this endeavor and many lost it.  (Read a book called Signing their lives away, if you haven’t yet.)  On the other hand, not understandable, since they knew how revolutionary their system was.  Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness?  You must be mad.  The government as a servant to the sovereign citizen?  Cooee, what world do you come from?  Separation of powers to make it difficult to “get things done”?  Mister, you must be one of them escapees from the asylum.

And yet — and yet — some of us are very much citizens of the volitional nation.  We embrace the vision of the founders, we work to protect the constitution from all enemies foreign and domestic.  We took an oath, and we keep it.

Come on.  Go ahead and take it.  Take it by yourself in the privacy of your heart; take it with your family; take it with a co-worker.

Take the oath.  Then keep it.

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen [or a moonstruck admirer for those on the right and left who think those people abroad have a better idea- sah]; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”