Category Archives: Uncategorized

I’ve Been Working On The Promo – Jason Dyck

*Note from Sarah — yes there will be Dark Fate. Later, today.  Now run and play while I finish it. – SAH*

I’ve Been Working On the Promo – Jason Dyck

J.M. Ney-Grimm

Crossing the Naiad

Ancient, cold, and perilous.

Its truth forgotten in the mists of time, the old bridge harbors a lethal secret. Neither marble statues awakened for battle nor an ancient roadbed grown hungry, something darker and more primal haunts the stones and the wild river below.

Kimmer knows the stories, but she doesn’t know why the crumbling span feels so fraught with menace. Her way home lies across the ruin. Dare she take it? Or will horror from the lost past rise up to claim her, when she does?

David L. Burkhead

Big Blue

Two monsters on a collision course with the fate of mankind hanging in the balance.

A stolen submarine and an accidentally detonated nuke in Baffin Bay releases something never seen before, a monster ten times the size of Tyrannosaurus Rex, seemingly impervious to every weapon in mankind’s arsenal.

Undersea Earthquakes in the remote South Pacific of ever increasing magnitude, generating massive tsunamis. A new continent arises and on that continent something stirs, bringing madness in its wake.

Laura Montgomery

Far Flung

In the very near future a seastead offers consumers a choice in governing systems. Adam Tenney’s daughter takes that offer, but what can he do for her when pirates threaten the seastead, the U.S. refuses to recognize it, and he is trapped in a desk job on land?

Wired Magazine Checks In With NK Jemisin, Again – By Rhiain

Wired Magazine Checks In With NK Jemisin, Again – By Rhiain

WorldCon is upon us once again, and our own Kate Paulk is on scene for the duration of the event to represent the Sad Puppies.

In the meantime, in a brazen attempt to increase traffic to their website in the run-up to MidAmericon II, Wired Magazine recently published a fawning rehash of Nora K Jemisin’s thoughts on a recent brouhaha regarding the “lack of diversity” in SFF magazines. Since Larry Correia already did an exceptional job fisking the original Verge article about said brouhaha, I’ll leave it to you, dear readers, to mosey on over to MHN for the particulars of the, ahem, study commissioned by Fireside Fiction at the center of that controversy regarding the “lack of diversity” in SFF.

In the meantime, Wired Magazine decided to check in with Jemisin regarding The Underrepresentation(!) of Colored Writers Published By SFF Mags – because who better could opine on this Terrible Crisis if not their quotable go-to non-white writer?

The article is essentially a grandiose introduction followed by a string of recent Tweets by Ms. Jemisin, in which she indicates that the uptick in invites to submit work to SFF mags has increased for her personally, and while it’s a nice problem to have, she prefers that SFF mags go beyond recognizable names of non-white SFF writers like herself and find others not so recognizable to invite instead. Where Jemisin derails is here:

13. Here is what I think is happening: The chant against the +10 diversity attack is being spoken again, in the shadowy halls of powah.
14. Somebody says to somebody else, “Whoa, that report was right, we haven’t pub’d anybody black in *years.* What do we do?” Somebody else
15. says, “Yeah, but we can’t just pub *any* black writers. That’s quotas. Quality!” “Oh, I know! We’ll invite [“name” black writers].”
16. That’s how it happens, see. There Can Be Only A Few. The defense-against-diversity attack spell has more names in it now. A *few* more.
17. The front gates are still shut, see. You’re just letting a few more exceptions in the side door.

Do non-white writers consider the SFF magazine market to be the only way to become a published SFF author? Surely not. Doesn’t the indie market, for example, exist as one way among many to open those floodgates, permanently?

Jemisin’s descent into conspiracy notwithstanding, lamenting the paucity of diversity is not a particularly new thought shared by the liberal SFF writerly set amongst themselves. Beyond the flawed tally of white versus non-white writers within the specific niche of SFF magazines, it is instructive that liberal non-white SFF writers view the push for Diversity in their field as tokenism and not as a serious attempt to integrate the current crop of established authors – whatever the hell that’s supposed to accomplish.

The problem with this approach, however, is that one still relies on tallies and quotas of authors and writers by ethnicity, race and/or skin color. However one quantifies Diversity here, relying on melanin count seems counterintuitive and, ultimately, irrelevant to the average reader of SFF.

As Chris Nuttall pointed out in his own blog response to The Verge article, how often do SFF magazine editors check to see if the author of a submission is non-white? More to the point, how often do SFF magazine editors only publish stories by certain authors because of their race and/or skin color?

In her Tweetstorm, Jemisin referenced an article called “Decolonise, not Diversify” by Kavita Bhanot, published late last year. It’s an astounding exercise in logical leaps and assumptions, and again, it emphasizes that any current drive to diversify the current stable of published SFF writers by race/ethnicity is a futile exercise in tokenism. Bhanot writes:

Who are the ‘people’ who are curious about the community that Sharma is writing about, allowing him to ‘benefit’ from his ethnicity? Certainly not the community he is writing about. It is clear in what Sharma says, who his work is directed towards, who he writes for. ‘People’ here equals white people. So much of our writing consciously or unconsciously reproduces this assumption, and subtly reveals internalised white supremacy.

Jemisin echoes this claim with,

20. Decolonization asks, “What are you (markets) doing wrong that black ppl don’t want to submit stories to you? Fix *that* first.”
21. And start with your assumptions that only a few *can* write up to your standards. ‘Cause that’s a f-ing problem.

In a similar vein, Phenderson Djèlí Clark writes,

The burden of change here is on SFF markets not on black writers. I repeat, the burden of change is on SFF markets not black writers. Don’t tell black people to open up their own SFF markets. Don’t say, “well you guys gotta submit more.” If SFF markets want diverse stories, they’re going to have to do more than simply state it and then wait patiently for it to happen. Words and intentions are nice. But without concerted action there’s not going to be much change. SFF markets are going to have to take part in engaged activism to bring in black writers, to increase the submissions of black writers and to publish more black writers. It ain’t gonna happen by osmosis.

But what does he mean when says “engaged activism”? Will this include forsaking the overall quality of a single magazine volume by concentrating more on marketing their magazine to non-white SFF writers and readers? Increasing one’s readership is a worthy goal, but at what cost? As a niche market, who is the target audience of each SFF magazine, and what does increasing submissions by non-white writers entail for that publication’s editors?

How does including non-white editors on one’s mag staff, a point that Jemisin and Clark both explicitly support, guarantee that the ethnic and cultural nuances shine in one’s work – especially if promulgated by a writer who happens to be white? Does this stab at editorial inclusiveness connect the reader to the story and get the writer out of the way so that the reader can engage the work?

Have Jemisin, Bhanot and Clark considered the sociological, not to mention the social, implications of their superficial opinions on diversifying SFF? I have to wonder.

Obviously I disagree, strongly, with many of their conclusions, and I question whether their well-intentioned solutions will actually increase the number of non-white writers willing to submit their work to SFF mags and publishers in general. I do not consider it a negative if non-white writers self-publish their work in their own created spaces. It is both amusing and puzzling that the Publishing Establishment, already liberal, is still viewed as too segregated by some of its own members and too entrenched in its ways to become more diverse. Keep in mind that conservative and libertarian authors are such an outlier that they are not even considered a legitimate demographic by the publishing houses’ gatekeepers and pseudo-analysts. Thus, in policing themselves, and aghast that they’re still found wanting, the ensuing hyperventilating by its more vocal (non-white!) members are cause for the average SFF reader to wonder what the fuss is all about. Or to drink and laugh. Or both. Take your pick.

Many of us SFF readers and indie-published SFF writers are so passionate about the field that we’ve tossed off the burdensome entry requirements imposed by the Publishing Establishment and thrown ourselves into the fray. As mentioned earlier, the indie market has thrown the publishing gates wide open, and whether the Establishment wants to admit it or not, we are here to stay.

Do we care about the skin color of our fellow writers and readers? No – it has no bearing on the stories we read and enjoy. It has no bearing on the stories we write, unless as an inspiration or motivation. Whether the current drive for Diversity will bear the fruit desired by its proponents or vindicate our belief that it’s a non-issue depends on whether the self-appointed gatekeepers will realize that their dictates are being disagreed with by SFF fans like you and me, or outright ignored and dismissed.

But they’re our betters, see – especially us non-white SFF readers who don’t care about tokenism, diversity, or today’s flavor of identity politics. Surely we’ll eventually understand that they’re only looking out for our best interests – or not.

TANSTAAFL

A friend of mine was recently incommoded by a neighbor (in an upper-middle-class neighborhood) who informed her that yes, everyone should have free education, and that people like her should pay for it, because she could afford it.

We’ll leave aside the immorality of arrogating to yourself the right of determining what your neighbors can afford and also of thinking you’re entitled to take it from them by force for purposes you think (but have no direct proof) are trustworthy and serve the community.

We’re not talking of providing for the common defense, here, or even stopping rioting on the streets. Yes, I know, I’ve seen the bumperstickers too.  “More schools fewer jails” or something like that.  If we needed more proof that they were nonsense, the 9/11 planners were among the richest, best educated of Muslims.  They weren’t striking out of privation or despair, but out of hatred (most of it probably inculcated by our own schools) and a thirst for power and self aggrandizement. By and large this is true of our criminals too.  There might have been — truly, I doubt it — back in the time of Dickens people who stole bread because they were hungry and were therefore horribly punished.  Maybe.  Most of what we hear of that is via authors like Dickens who thought they knew better ways to organize society and who had an ax to grind.

Read into the biography of any Victorian criminal, or even the seamy underbelly — I’ve skimmed it, when reading about Jack the Ripper, or other true-crimes of the period — or for that matter any Elizabethan criminal, of the sort that would be easy to paint as “he stole because he was hungry” and what you find is an habitual life of crime and the sort of weaving line of morality that we find among our own under class.

There was hunger aplenty before the industrial revolution, and yes, some people died in famines.  But barring the ultimate, desperate push and that usually affected everyone in a region, the laws held.  Most people — most morally formed, normal human beings — do not wish to hurt people and take their stuff.  Or at least they don’t wish it enough to do it.

So any possible “plus” of free college for all (I presume that’s the type of education this moral monster was speaking about, since high school is already free) was linked by this tenuous idea of the liberal left that education thwarts crime.  (It might even have been true once, when education was, unapologetically, about teaching the bourgeois virtues, but that type of education, nowadays, is non-existent, destroyed by the left itself. What is left is more on the grounds of teaching people why they’ve been wronged by society and that, as you might understand, does not inculcate probity or respect for society’s laws.)

Let’s leave aside that moral flaw, though, and the lies the gentleman in question told himself to pretend he had a right to take his neighbors’ money for the good of a nebulous third party.  (I.e. ultimately for the satisfaction of taking other people’s stuff, the savage joy of being able to cause suffering, all of it masked under altruism.)

Let’s say that he got his way and we were all taxed out of wazoo to pay for free college education for all.  What would we get out of it?

I’ll start by saying my education was if not free at least extremely cheap (I paid the equivalent of $20 a course and about the same for late exam fees) and paid for by Portuguese tax payers.

“See,” you’ll say. “You’re an hypocrite, who benefited from the program you would deny the poor of America.”

Which would just show that you know diddly squat about how “free education” works in most of Europe.  (Most because it might be different in Nordic countries.  I simply don’t know.)

In most of Europe there is Free College for some.  For the rest there are a variety of paid colleges and technical colleges.

The “Free College” in Portugal had its numbers frozen back in the sixties.  When I came through in the eighties, your grades had to be above the top one percent to qualify.  Some people waited and retook the exam for five years or something like it.

I entered first try.  Sure.  The downside of this was that I had “paid” for my education with blood, sweat and tears and a good part of my youth.  Before you say I was being melodramatic — and I know it doesn’t work this way now.  The system has changed markedly since I went through it.  For one, in our day, there was only one paying university and it was frowned at — only a little.  We were the year that the “revolutionary” changes hit hardest, right at the start of middle school equivalent.  Which means sometimes our curriculum changed five times in a year and we never got past the intro.

What this means, in practical terms, is that by the time we hit ninth grade no one had a clue what we knew.  So an exam took place, which overrode the class grades.  You had to be above a B to go on to tenth grade.  Much of the material was stuff we’d never covered, because of the crazy changes every year. There was no excuse.

I think something like 95% of people either failed that exam or were below the B.  A lot of my friends ended up going to “technical schools” after that (hard to explain to Americans.  They were still high schools, but they trained you for things like secretary and teacher’s assistant.  I think (THINK) they’re the equivalent of the British o-levels.  I KNOW that in my school, where the forms grades were pasted on the front hall some forms had NO ONE pass.  They looked all red, like they’d bled.  Our form and our rival form, being culled from the best students, were reversed and we only had four fail in each.

Leading up to that exam it’s as close to going crazy as I wish to try.  And we did have a few suicides.

Then the tenth and eleventh grade (I did twelveth in the US) “cuts” were just as brutal.  And even so, of those that graduated, most didn’t make it to college.

I didn’t have a choice.  My dad would have been heartbroken if a descendant of his couldn’t cut it.  So I made it.  But I paid for it, just not in coin.

Even so, and returning to our point, I’m not sure those are good investments of the taxpayer’s money.  Take my degree, when I went through it.  Sure, languages are the most rigorous of the humanities, and I have no problem with that.  But a lot of our training — literature, poetry — was less to develop the languages, and more, it seemed, designed to make us into “well rounded young misses.”  Which is, arguably what the degree had been when it was first founded.  Because it was paid by the state, only the state had the power to change the curriculum.

Most people who graduated with me went on to be language teachers, but we never got any actual TRAINING for that.  There was one course.  There were two for techniques of translation.  What there wasn’t was any of the training we actually needed and that most of us had to get in the first years in a job.  You know, drawing lesson plans, dealing with discipline problems, or conversely dealing with harassment among diplomats or bosses in a translation setting.  Or what to soft pedal for what cultures.

I find it really useful, in general, in life, particularly in complex situations to ask “who benefits from this?”  and “who controls this?”  It tells you everything you need to know. If those people are not the same, then you’re going to get malinvestment.

The people who benefited from the free college I received were, to an extent, students.  To a greater extent, public schools and employers for translators and multilingual employees who could be got relatively cheap since there was no debt to pay.

The problem is the people controlling the education were neither of those two groups, but government bureaucrats.  They neither knew nor cared what the two groups NEEDED and if the students ended up unemployed, or had to learn on the job and cost the employers money, no one was going to come after the bureaucrats.

And that is for a system which culled for the most academically gifted students, which means the chances of their learning fast and well on the job were pretty high, as were the chances of their adapting to whatever was thrown at them.

America is  more egalitarian and during its long march to the left has gotten quite averse to the claims of merit.  Because I’ll point out my husband also had practically free education, because he got a full ride scholarship.  These are rarer now for merit.  Merit is — AT BEST — a factor, taken in account with ethnicity and other signs of “group oppression” which have nothing to do with oppression.

The chances of a system like what I described above and what operates in most of Europe are next to none.

When these people talk of free college, they talk of free college in the same way that people talk of free high school: if you want it, you march up, sign up for it and take the college.

Who benefits from this?  Arguably the same group as above: students and employers.  Who controls it?  In all likelihood the federal government.

To what extent do those interests match?

Oh, not much at all.

The federal government will want people to be taught according to the latest theories of what makes students law-abiding or non-violent or what have you.  Most of these theories will be, as most such are, wrong and based on Marx and nothing else much.

Beyond that?  Professors’ lobbying have much more influence with the government than employers do. Already curriculums include a good dose of “grievance studies” that have no relevance to the market place and are only kept alive to give some professors jobs.  Already a good course on Western History is impossible to come by.

What more will happen with free college?  Oh, what won’t happen.  (“The fun we will have” — in a Dr. Seuss voice.)

First of all it will go the way of mandatory high school.  Most people are no graduating from high school with literacy skills that would get them flunked of middle school 25 years ago. Note “most” (I made d*mn sure my kids could read and write at a level that didn’t disgust me) and also no I’m not exaggerating.  I have for my sins been conscripted to help college students with work.  Their reasoning skills are non-existent (their indoctrination is impeccable, though.)

In short, most people graduating high school are NOT ready for college.  You put them in college and it’s “bonehead college” all the way. This means more “studies” degrees, where the learning is fuzzy and it’s very easy to pass even if you can barely spell your name, at least in some colleges.

Then there is the … use of such things.  American students, already, are taking six years to finish degrees, because they can.  Oh, sure, they can’t, but they will take it out in easy loans and they don’t fully understand the pain they’re letting themselves in for.  The reason for the extended time in school is what I call “major dance.”  People enter in a major, decide they don’t like it, go to another, then another, then….

This is insane to me.  Remember the process I went through, explained above.  You knew what you could get to, and you went there, and you finished.

Now imagine free college in the US.  Never mind the people who will stay in their whole lives, taking degree after degree (hell, I might do it) as that might be forbidden.  Imagine how many people will change degrees five times in a row and stay in for 15 years, before emerging with the least useful of degrees.

And then take the average student, who really wants to be in and really wants to take, say, engineering.  If college is free, can you deny admission to ANYONE who wants to be an engineer?  What are you? Some type of evil conservative?

People would get in with barely algebra, and the classes would all be dumbed down.  the resulting bs wouldn’t be worth the paper it’s printed on.  Depending on how far the “free” goes, employers would start demanding masters or doctorates, thereby delaying the time when young people become productive members of society and can start families of their own.

We can’t afford free college for all.  It would be an empty piece of paper.  And it would cost the future.

 

 

 

Solar, Space, and Geomagnetic Weather Part I — An Introduction By Stephanie Osborn

Solar, Space, and Geomagnetic Weather Part I — An Introduction

By Stephanie Osborn

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

“Interstellar Woman of Mystery”

Rocket Scientist and Novelist

 

A lot of my friends and fans over on Facebook have become followers of my various solar and aurora alerts there, and Sarah keeps asking me to come blog more about the stuff — which I enjoy doing, immensely — so I thought I’d explain what it is and why it’s important.

sun

 

[This is a basic image of the Sun, complete with sunspots. The small black circle in the top right edge of the solar disk is actually Venus beginning a “transit” (passage) between us and the Sun.]

All three — solar weather, space weather, and geomagnetic weather — are interconnected. This is because the Sun has a magnetic field that extends far past the Earth, and so the Earth’s magnetic field interacts with it. “Space Weather” is essentially a term for the conditions of space in the general vicinity of Earth, but not necessarily inside the Earth’s magnetic field.

We are also sitting inside the atmosphere of the Sun, the corona. The corona is a plasma — a gas composed of charged particles, mostly protons and electrons, with some neutrons and assorted atomic nuclei (such as alpha particles — helium nuclei) thrown in for good measure. Its temperature is around a 1,400,000°-1,600,000°Kelvin, or about 2,500,000-2,900,000°F. It has a density that ranges about 5-10 particles per cubic centimeter, and it is generally moving away from the Sun, “evaporating” under the influence of the powerful solar magnetic fields.

 

This generates a kind of wind, usually coming out from the Sun and spiraling away — yeah, the “solar wind.” Granted, the corona isn’t very dense, but it’s dense enough to create some effects, and we’re working on using it to our benefit, like in solar sails and such, which can use the solar wind as much as light pressure to maneuver around the Solar System like a spaceborne version of the clipper ships of old. (But that’s a different blog post.) Solar wind speeds range from 400-750km/s (895,000-1,700,000mph), and under certain conditions, can get much, much faster.

 

But when the Sun gets…agitated, we’ll say…it can get a lot denser. Coronal holes move from the poles down to lower latitudes, and the Sun’s face develops an astronomical case of acne. This usually occurs around the time of solar maximum.

 

Whoa. Waitaminit. What’s a coronal hole?

 

A coronal hole is a magnetic field artifact.

 

Earth has a dipole field, like a bar magnet, because it is a rigid spinning body, so the dynamo inside it is all rotating at the same angular velocity. Remember elementary school when you put a piece of paper on a bar magnet and sprinkled iron filings on it? It made a cool bunch of lines that arced from one end of the magnet to the other, and then fanned out at the very ends. That’s what I’m talking about here.

 

The Sun is a gigantic ball of plasma. It spins on an axis. These two facts, when combined, create an electric current. An electric current, in turn, generates a magnetic field. This is why the Sun has a magnetic field. A magnetic field which TENDS toward a dipole.

 

Only…the Sun is a big ball of plasma, not a rigid body. More, each particle of that plasma is obeying Kepler’s Laws of orbital motion. Consequently, the Sun experiences something called differential rotation. This means that the area near the core doesn’t rotate at the same rate as the area near the photosphere (visible “surface), and the poles don’t rotate at the same rate as the equator. Consequently, the solar magnetic field is MUCH more complex than a simple dipole. It can, and does, occasionally have more than one north or one south magnetic pole. This means that it can look like this:

 

magnetic field lines

Now, see all those places where the magnetic field lines are going off into space, instead of looping back around to the “surface”? Those are shooting all that plasma off into space, ALONG THOSE LINES, and the result, when you look at it with the right frequency light and equipment, is what’s called a coronal hole. Looking at ‘em the right way, it looks like this:

plasma

 

 

The polar areas normally have “coronal holes,” because of the open-ended lines of the dipole.

 

Occasionally one of these will get really large, and then the lay news media get all bent out of shape about “the huge hole in the sun” that’s going to destroy it. Nuh-uh. Ain’t gonna happen. Just shows they slept through all their science classes, assuming they had any. A coronal hole isn’t really a hole at all; it’s just a region of lower plasma quantities in the chromosphere (the lowest part of the solar atmosphere), caused because the mag fields are shoving it all off into space.

 

The streams of plasma coming out from a coronal hole are known as “enhanced solar wind streams.” (I never said all scientists were creative.)

 

So. That’s a quick synopsis of what coronal holes are.

 

Wait. What’s “solar maximum”?

 

Our Sun has cycles that it goes through. Some are short and some are long. These cycles are related to its magnetic field and to sunspots. In fact, many variable star astronomers such as myself consider that the Sun is at least a borderline variable star because of this; some consider it outright variable. We’ll leave that to a later discussion. For now, let’s just look at those cycles and why they exist.

 

Again, since the Sun isn’t solid like a bar magnet, the plasma doesn’t all have to spin around the axis at the same speed — and it doesn’t.

 

So let’s think about those lines of iron filings again. Our bar magnet has gone and gotten itself all twisted up because it isn’t solid, so the lines of iron filings get all twisted up, too. Now, scientists are still working on this, but the best we can figure out now is that sunspots are places where “snarls” form in the magnetic lines, and float up and break through to the “surface,” or photosphere. (In the last couple of years we’ve learned how to look “deeper” into the Sun to see these snarls below the photosphere. Remember that. It’ll come into play later on, when we start talking about the Sun as a variable star.) This means that sunspots have magnetic fields, sometimes very complicated. There are almost always at least two — one is a north magnetic pole, the other a south pole. (When there is just one, it is usually funny-shaped and one end will be a North magnetic pole and the opposite end will be South. And sometimes there’s a whole cluster, which gets really complicated.) And most all of the spots on the Sun will have the same N/S orientation.

 

It turns out that every 11 years, there is a peak in the number of sunspots, and a minimum in the number of sunspots. We aren’t quite sure why, because we don’t have all the theory worked out yet. But we’ve all heard of Solar Maximum and Solar Minimum, and that’s what those terms mean. Solar Max is when we have the most spots, and Solar Min is when we have the least.

 

~Stephanie Osborn

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com

 

 

 

 

Dark Fate 2

*FIRST AND VERY IMPORTANTLY, THIS IS NOT CANON.  THIS IS COMPLETELY UNSANCTIONED (okay, not completely.  Larry said I could do this for you guys without his ripping my head off) MHI FANFIC.
Good, now that we got that out of the way, why am I doing this?  Both Grant and Fado Negro (Portuguese Monster Hunters) have minuscule parts in Guardian, the MHI book I’m collaborating with Larry Correia on.  However, obviously the Portugal of Monster Hunter is not the real Portugal (Really, no arcane creatures come stumbling out of the undergrowth there.  If there were arcane creatures, the country would be chock-a-block in them, when you take in account the continuous human occupation since… well, forever.)  And this story gives me more of an opportunity to firm the worldbuilding.  (Yes, it would be MUCH easier to do this with a notebook and noting things down, but that’s not how my mind works, d*mn it.)
Okay, that’s the rational excuse.  The real reason is that d*mn Grant Jefferson won’t leave me alone.  (Always had a thing for men from Patrician New England families.  Ask my husband.)  So I’m torturing him.  Also Guardian won’t come out until I do this more or less at same time (I’ll be sending first chapter of that to Larry soon.)
Will this ever be a book?  Don’t know.  First Guardian will get delivered.  Then, this being finished, I throw it at Larry.  And then it’s his SOLE DECISION. (Which means, don’t you monkeys hassle him.)  It’s his world and his character.  I’m just grateful he lets me play in it in Guardian and here for your amusement.*

First chapter is here.

II

I cast a jaundiced eye around at the place where I lay.  It had all the charm of a medieval cell, with bare stone walls on which — I swear — I could discern green tendrils of some sort of lychen.  The light that came in through the tiny window high up on the walls was broken by two dark “stripes” that were probably bars.

And in the cell, with me, were two men, both of whom looked eerily familiar.  “Owen Pitt!”I said. “I didn’t know you had a twin.”

At least I think that’s what I said, though it might have come out somewhat distorted.  There was blood in my mouth and something gritty like fragments of my own teeth, and my vision seemed to be swimming in and out like I couldn’t focus.  Frankly, the last thing I needed right then was Owen, or his twin, or both of them.

They had got heads together and were speaking Portuguese too fast for me to follow from my knowledge of Spanish, Latin, and the Rosetta Stone program I’d played on my phone on the plane.

I was soaked through, from someone throwing water on me, felt miserable, hurt in places I didn’t know I could hurt, and to make things worse, my phone was binging with a string of oncoming messages.  It took me a moment to realize the bings were coming from in front of me where the two Pitts were obviously holding it and reading my messages.

Like that I was up, and grabbing for my phone.  “That’s mine.  Give it here.”

This is when I realized the two kids in my cell — it had to be a cell — were not Owen Pitt.  Couldn’t be, because they were both shorter than me.  Also, because as I pulled the phone out of their grasp, they both dropped back like they’d been burned.  Something Pitt would never have done.  He’d have wrestled me for the phone.  Probably slugged me.

One of the kids — Christ, he couldn’t be more than twenty! — looked up at me, “What is Monster Control Bureau?” he asked, in what sounded — I swear — like a Russian accent.

I looked at my phone and registered that there were a bunch of pings from Franks.  Holy Fuck.  It wasn’t just that they’d taken my phone without permission.  It was that I was going to be held responsible for the security breach.  I accessed the likelyhood of getting anywhere by telling them that they weren’t supposed to read my texts and decided that — as Earl Harbinger would put it — that dog wouldn’t hunt.  It was their country, their laws, and whoever the hell they were — my only clue was two black cloaks hung on hooks on the wall — they had taken me out of the airport and brought me here when I was utterly powerless.  Hell, for all I knew they were some sort of police, or perhaps — I eyed the black cloaks narrowly — some kind of super hero organization.  What do you mean, super heroes don’t exist?  Yeah.  Neither do monsters.

Instead, I said, as I’d learned to say in the US, if someone got hold of stuff they shouldn’t, “It’s an interactive game.”  I gave them my best, innocent baby blues.  “You know, role playing game?  Played on cell phones.  We play at being monster hunters.”

They got their heads together again, and chatted too quickly for me to catch more than one or two words.  One of the words was definitely “tourist” and I thought a whole phrase was “doesn’t know how close he came.”

I remembered the trolls and wondered if they were going to ask me if they were part of the game.  They didn’t.

One of them handed me my wallet and passport.  “Mr. Jefferson, we’re sorry you were caught in the middle of a terrorist attack on the airport.  We brought you here to receive medical care, and you can change clothes and go to your hotel.  We’ll have some vouchers for you to compensate for your experience.”

I raised my eyebrows at them.  “Medical care?” I looked around at the cell and wondered if their idea of medical care was to throw water over my head.  I wasn’t happy at their looking at my wallet and passport, and I wasn’t sure who the hell they were, so I started with the last, “Who the hell are you?”

“We’re tourist security bureau,” one of them said.  I had a feeling it was an answer on the same order of “it’s an RPG you play by phone.” It had that practiced tone, but none of the officialdom.  “When tourists get in trouble, we help.”

I wanted desperately to ask if the trouble included being overcharged for a meal.  I didn’t.  Look, there are times to be a smart ass and times not to be.  They were blowing smoke, and I didn’t know why, but I had a feeling asking wouldn’t help much.  I still felt beaten-up, as I should have been, by the big troll thing, and I really couldn’t get in a fist fight right now.  My arm hurt and felt hot like when it’s about to get infected, and though someone had tied cloth around it, it didn’t feel right at all.  And my head was swimming.  “Medical care.”

“Ah, through here,” one of the guys said, opening the door.

“This is not a jail?” I asked, as I went into a room that looked much the same as the other, save for the addition of a makeshift hospital bed, a screen, and a bunch of first aid supplies strewn on a table.  The young lady standing there — there was another black cloak hanging from the wall, I noted — was petite and dark, and rather pretty.  From what I’d seen in the country all the men looked like banditos, all the women looked like little dolls.  She smiled at me, “Mr. Jefferson,” she said.  The accent was cute on her.  “I’m a pharmacy student.  Fourth year.  I have already stitched your arm, and I’ll now take care of you.”

Take care of me she did too.  Several interesting things, besides the fact that I was getting care from a pharmacist, not a doctor: The country seemed to have no body modesty when it came to doctoring.  She had me peel down to my skivvies, and no one offered so much as a paper-modesty-gown to make me feel better. Also, she knew her stuff.  She had stitched my arm, and she now removed the makeshift bandage and put another one on.  And they had access to medicines.  I was given an antibiotic shot, pain pills, and a salve to put on my bruises, all in generic bottles with no name.

She also told me my teeth were fine, they were just a little bruised.

I noticed something while she was taking care of me.  There was a mark, just on the inside of my right arm that looked like someone had given me a shot.  I had a strong suspicion that whatever it was, it was some sort of drug which they’d used to interrogate me.  It explained the woozy feeling.  And I know what we’d have done to someone who showed up at a monster attack scene with the type  of texts on their phone like what Franks was for sure sending me.  We’d probably have shot them.

Then I thought that Portugal was a small country and subsisted largely on touristic revenues.  They couldn’t afford to shoot tourists.  But pump them full of something, interrogate them, and perhaps plant a suggestion it had mostly been a dream?  Surely they could.  It would explain the woozy feeling and the sensation that everything that had happened was long ago and far away.

I grinned at the young lady, as she moved the screen to show me my luggage and told me I could now get dressed, “And go to your hotel.  The police will be in touch with you if they need your deposition.”

“About the terrorist attack?” I asked.

She nodded.  So that too was a well-practiced thing.  “Yeah.  They killed the luggage handlers and five passengers.  So if we think you can help the police–”

“Sure,” I said.  This story hung together about as well as a spiderweb in a high wind.  But I didn’t want to cause trouble.  I just wanted to get to my hotel room and lie down.  If before or after securing the weapons I’d sent ahead, I wasn’t even sure.  The thought of a real bed was the most enticing thing just then.

“They said to give you this,” she said and handed me what looked like a book of coupons.  The front one said “Visit the port wine cellars.”  I stuffed them in my pocket without looking.

I was passed along from too-young kid to too-young kid, all of them looking at me suspiciously, and handling me with too-big-a-grin.  At the end of it, I left a large stone building, in a bustling plaza with a fountain with lions in the center of it.

Blinking in the sunlight, on the sidewalk, was the Reagan lover with the cowboy hat.  He was scratching his head, under the hat.  “Now,” he said, looking at me.  “None of that made the slightest bit of sense.  If those were terrorists, where did they come from?  Tolkienonica?”

I shrugged.  “Apparently,” I told him.  “We’re not supposed to ask questions in Mordor.”  And I hoped he didn’t ask me questions.  He was an American citizen.  I wondered if I should watch him in case he’d been bitten and changed.  I didn’t want to shoot the guy.  “And why were we in something that looked like a jail?”

He adjusted his hat.  “Oh, that I did find out,” he said.  “It was a jail.  It’s the old medieval jail.  It’s now the college of psychology.”

“What?”

“Yeah, I know.  I think it’s some cockamaime experiment, like Zimbardo back in the US.  Well, I for one am not going to think about it anymore.  I’m going to my hotel.”

Which was a brilliant idea, and I was going to my hotel too.  But as he walked away, I got my phone out of my pocket and looked at the last of Frank’s texts “We can’t get all Americans out of Portugal.  Not yet, though it might come to it.  But they’ve requested the help of the Monster Control Bureau.  This thing is off the charts. So go see how severe it is. You might as well make yourself useful.”

I’m Not A Delicate Flower – Cedar Sanderson

I’m Not A Delicate Flower – Cedar Sanderson

I am not a delicate f*cking flower. I am, however, a lady. There’s no contradiction in those two statements, but to explain why may take some time. In writing about prejudice in the publishing industry recently, I once again stated my main objection to being a ‘woman writer’ which is that I don’t write with my woman parts, and feel that what’s between my legs is irrelevant to the quality of my work. I do not want to be given a boost just because of my gender, because that implies somehow that being a woman makes me not good enough.

Forget that. I am not the physical equal of an adult male in hand-to-hand combat. I know that, and I’d be stupid to try it. But I have walked grown men into the ground, and I’m smart enough to recognize that being prepared with certain tools means I don’t have to let him get any closer than bullets can be accurately fired. On the other hand, the one with the brain in it (metaphorically! My brain is safely inside my very hard head) I can be his equal.

Feminism has gone very far astray. What began as a movement to attain equality has become a movement toward supremacy, with a side of cosseting. As a female STEM student, and the mother of future STEM students, I worry about the effect this is going to have on our futures. Will the lowering of standards by well-intentioned idiots who want more women in science undermine our achievements? More than likely, it will.

Look at the results of Affirmative Action, a program that was intended to promote the minorities (sex and race), and the results of that. From the Navajo Code Talkers page: “By giving some groups of people more “rights” and protections than others, you are still promoting the separation and racism that you are trying to eradicate. The goal of everyone being equal is lost with affirmative action because the minority groups now have special privileges.” And even a (rather brave) essay published in Stanford Magazine, “Perhaps the most tragic side effect of affirmative action is that very significant achievements of minority students can become compromised. It is often not possible to tell whether a given student genuinely deserved admission to Stanford, or whether he is there by virtue of fitting into some sort of diversity matrix. When people do start to suspect the worst — that preferences have skewed the entire class — they are accused of the very racism that justifies these preferences. It is a strange cure that generates its own disease.”

I know that I, and my daughters, are strong enough to stand on our own two feet and earn our way through challenges, whether academic or in the workforce. So I object to the idea of needing special considerations that will elevate my chances above the men who I work with. This is not equality.

Last year I read an essay by Dorothy Sayers, and wrote my own sympathetic essay that intermeshed with it, because it resonated strongly with me. “A woman is just as much an ordinary human being as a man, with the same individual preferences, and with just as much right to the tastes and preferences of an individual. What is repugnant to every human being is to reckoned always as a member of a class and not as an individual person.” I had to check the publication date, because it seemed unlikely that this had been written eighty years ago. Eighty years… My grandmother’s lifetime (both of them!) since doubt was first cast on the objectives of feminism. And yet… it is still with us.

My own small rebellion against it is to seek to be a lady. I can want to be a male’s equal – and prove it – but also to be a lady. For me, this is somewhat easier by having been raised to be ladylike. Ladies don’t swear (in public), they don’t dress immodestly (look, there’s sexy, and then there’s tawdry. It’s a big difference), they don’t wrestle with pigs (I know, I know, facebook offers so MANY opportunities to do that…). For me, it’s a lot more than being an external lady. Mom taught me that if I don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. I haven’t always managed that, but I try. If someone I’m close to needs something, I will do my utmost to give it. I was raised on the Proverbs 31 woman, and that’s who I wanted to be when I grew up. Not a chattel, or minion of my husband, but a businesswoman who took no nonsense, made him proud, and raised strong children who would continue as they were brought up.

I don’t want to be a man. I like being a woman. I like being his equal, but complementary in strengths rather than a clone. I’ve learned to despise the New Wave feminists and the men they lead on leashes. Which is what led to my breaking one of the ‘rules for ladies’ a while back.

You may not have heard about the silly reporter who took an AR-15 out shooting, and then claimed to have been traumatized by the recoil and possibly have been given PTSD by his short time at the range. As you can imagine, if you didn’t see the reactions, pretty much everyone pointed and laughed until their bellies ached. Larry Correia, the inimitable gun advocate and raconteur that he is, couldn’t pass it up. He asked on FB (and later in a blog post), “Noble people of Facebook, I need your help.

After the wildly successful feature where ace reporter Gersh Kuntzman gave us the straight scoop on what it is like to shoot the terrifying AR-15 “Black Mamba Star Killer Base” rifle, we here at the New York Daily News are happy to present our new feature ASK KUNTZMAN!

Join us as Gersh Kuntzman gives valuable life advice. Send us your questions, from lifestyle choices to product reviews, and together we can peer deep into his earth mother like wisdom. From his lilac scented crying pillow to you, rejoice as Gersh Kuntzman let’s you know what’s really going on in the world.

So this is your chance everybody. Do you have questions you need Gersh Kuntzman to answer? Post them below! He is like Dear Abby with a thousand times the sensitivity and twice the estrogen. Please, place your questions below in proper Dear Abby like format, and you might be lucky enough to selected for this week’s ASK KUNTZMAN!”

I was only one of many respondents, and to be honest, I cut it short, because ladies don’t boast.

Dear Kuntz, I have given birth to three children with no drugs, know how to fire and reload a black powder musket, fell a tree with a double-bit axe, set leghold traps, and rappel down a cliff to rescue a stranded climber. Do you think you could stop giving pussies a bad name? Because mine is pretty badass and doesn’t have a problem with recoil.

– Signed, Cocky in Cincinnati

 

Yeah. Ladies get to be badass too. Womyn? Not so much. Which would you rather be?

Hope and Change

I was very confused, back in 08 to hear the mindless chants of “hope, change.”  They sounded so gleeful.  Also hope and change are not two things you normally put together.

Yes, yes, I KNOW what they thought they meant.  In the media narrative, the GWB times were hopeless and with no jobs and (and we hadn’t seen anything yet!) so change would bring us hope.

They were out of their rocking minds, obviously.

Look, I’m a libertarian. That means, compared to our current system of having the government play helicopter parent to you from cradle to grave, I advocate change.  DRASTIC change.  To get where I want to be, there would be massive dislocation of money and human resources.  Think of the unemployment crisis as bureaucrats without number got run off their jobs. (Okay, now wipe that grin off your face.)  Think of all the genuine scientific research that would have to find a new way to fund itself.  Think of the children.  No, really, think of the children.  I think what we have for a department of Children Services is inefficient, stupid and possibly harmful, but we’d still need to retool and find another way to perform the job of making sure most kids are mostly safe, without giving it all to the government.  That means some truly horrible things would happen on the way there.  (Whether they’d be better or worse than the horrible things happening now is something else again.)  Ditto when it comes to schooling.  Most of our schools are rather inefficient day cares, but without even that, some kids would fall through the cracks, until local government steps up.  (Yes, for those following along at home, libertarians aren’t necessarily AGAINST government, they just believe on keeping most things small, local, and as close to individual as possible.  The guys who want no government?  That’s Anarchists.  And no, Somalia is not a Libertarian society.  Or an anarchist one.  Somalia is a tribal war with borders.  Its dysfunction has much to do with where and what it is, not with the system of its government, which is “totalitarians trained in left wing politics in western universities trying to speak insanity to tribes who are trying to stay alive.” I swear to fricken bob the next idiot who tells me “Libertarianism would cause Somalia” gets hit on the head with the nearest object.  Do these people swallow whole whatever some progressive twit says, without the slightest effort at verification? Without a modicum of thought.)

The point I’m trying to make is that change hurts.  It always hurts, whether it’s an individual or a society; whether it’s ULTIMATELY change for better or for worse.  Whom it hurts and how much is directly proportional to what systems are being changed and how many people they involve.

Truly massive technological change that affects the whole human race takes millenia to process through.  Some anthropologists, seriously, think we’re not through processing all the consequences of the switch between hunting-gathering and agriculture.  It’s undeniable (no, seriously) that it was good for the species as a whole, over time.  I mean, our sheer numbers and populations prove that.  But it was neither painless nor cost free, and right when it happened it was wrenching, the wrench being recorded in our oldest legends and racial memories.  War between those who had settled and those who hadn’t, changes in ways of life (this idea of working every day, instead of when the meat runs out is still painful and still hasn’t worked itself into the way the species as a whole works.)

There is considerable and plausible evidence we’re still too close to the industrial revolution and the French revolution to process it.

At the rate we’re accelerating the changes to our own environment, it is quite possible we won’t (as a whole) be done processing the change to mass production before small-run individual production becomes the norm.

Which brings us to: the most normal result of change is the opposite of hope: it is destruction, blood, often the burning of a generation’s patrimony, as what they learned and what they’ve spent a lifetime becoming no longer has any application to the new reality.

Take the twentieth century.  (Please.  Almost as bad as the fourteenth.)  It was a time of massive, unrelenting change.  And we have the piles of corpses to prove it.

But as an individual — even as president of the US — you really don’t get to “create change.”  Every time I hear “be the change you want to see” or its equivalent, I want to beat someone over the head with a wet sock until I brain them.  (It’s slow and satisfying.)

I think I know what they’re trying to say, but that is not what they’re saying.  I think what they’re trying to say is that you can only change yourself.  And that’s correct.  What they’re actually saying is something on a par with “be a thought leader.”  I.e. be someone who changes society around you by just being a certain way.

Does that ever happen.  Oh, sure.  Most founders of major religions, some kings and rulers, a few other powerful men and women changed society at least for a time (mostly for the bad, taken in whole, though of course there are exceptions.)

But for most human beings, modeling the change you want to see in society can get you either marginalized or killed, depending on how severe that change is. (Major religious figures aren’t exempt on either, btw.)

Is it worth it to buck society?  Sometimes.  It also sometimes — if you judge the moment right — joins with a lot of other people to create a preference cascade.  If I didn’t believe in that, I’d not be writing this.

On the other hand, that’s in matters of principle, and urgent matters.  If the change you want to see is being allowed to wear white after labor day, is it really worth it getting strange stares, or having to continually clean your white clothes that got muddy and dirty in winter?  Or if the matter you’re bucking, if you fail will destroy you and if you win will… make no big difference to most people?

This is when the “change” needed is mostly internal, in yourself.

It still hurts.  It hurts like hell.  But without changing yourself, you’ll never achieve anything.

Look, I remember — and I found while unpacking, a sheaf of these — when I sent out for magazines, ranging from fanzines to Analog, and read them to know what I should be aiming for.  My most immediate reaction was “OMG, these are nothing like what I write.”  And by that I don’t mean political bend.  I mean I hadn’t figured out writing in scenes, yet, so what I wrote bore a strange resemblance to “disembodied ramblings from a world you never saw.”

You’d think changing that wouldn’t hurt, right?

Bah.  You’d be wrong.  Changing that involved changing my habits of mind, the way of working I’d gotten used to, “breaking” the way I thought of story, and endless hours of practicing the new way, till it stopped “hurting.”  It felt a little like going insane.

And what’s more, everytime I “tool up” I go through this again.  Having identified something I do wrong in writing, I have to “break my head” and then fall into a new pattern.

This involves a lot of work (A LOT OF WORK) and forcing myself to do things I don’t want to do.  90% of the people who approach me as fledgelings (or as colleagues seeking help for stalled careers) and to whom I tell stuff like “Okay, so you need to write in a different world, or come up with three new worlds, then write proposals and–”  OR “You need to write four  books a year” or “You need to learn to plot” or “you need to learn characters” go away saying “BUT I CAN’T DO THAT.”  Some of my favorite people in the world do that rather than try it.  I remember a friend telling me she couldn’t possibly write four new proposals in a year, when I’d just written 17 over summer.  (2003, career stopped, and a bitch of a year all around.)

It’s not fun, it’s not comfortable, it’s a lot of work, but if where you want to go is worth it, you do it.

And almost always, unless you were born to a comfortable fortune and your life is pottering ONLY with what pleases you, you need to change to get ANYWHERE, much less where you want to go.  You need to get out of your comfort zone and force yourself to do things that feel unnatural or that you despise.

This is whether or not the world is “right”.  A lot of the way I had to learn to write wasn’t “right” for selling.  It was the more literary way that shorts had been going.  In fact, I later had to unlearn some of it, to sell more in novels.  BUT it was the way it was and if I wanted to publish in shorts (heaven knows why) I had to learn it.

And because we’re extra special lucky, we do live in interesting times.  Times of intense change.  That means we need to work hard as hell to stay standing in the changing maelstrom, and to hopefully achieve something, anything, in the time we’re given.

A lot of this involves changing ourselves: the way we work, and mostly the way we think.

My entire field is turning upside down and inside out, and I NEED to figure out new ways of working, new ways of thinking.

I’m not alone in my field.  Some of you might not have noticed the change in your profession but I guarantee it’s coming for you.

Those new ways of thinking, those clever tricks to stay afloat, are nasty.  They break your comfortable idea of how things ought to work and be.

But no one asked our opinion.  And internal change is our only chance at hope.

 

 

Sunday Morning Follies

Or why the cat ate my post.

We woke up to the dulcet beep, beep, beep of the computer power supplies warning us electricity was out. Seems to have been a small outage, involving just two or three houses.  Which meant not a big priority.

I was going to write a post, I was.  But I couldn’t get on the computer (by the time I was functional, power was completely out) so instead I started doing the final unpacking on my bedroom.

And now my mind is not in a word sort of mood.

Since it’s been that sort of day, let me tell you some things I’ve found out, courtesy of our packers:

-F. Paul Wilson and Kevin J. Anderson write how-to art books.  (I’d been wondering where the signed books went!)

-Party hats and new year’s decoration ARE “art supplies.”  (I don’t DO performance art)

-A bunch of miscellaneous unsorted laundry is “Sarah’s bedside table.”

-ALL stuff marked for donation MUST be packed in one gigantic box, instead of left behind, where I’d put it, for the thrift store to pick up.

-Other things that must go into a gigantic box include (but aren’t limited to) a disparate series of things ranging from office supplies to books for projects currently under way which had been packed in small boxes and marked “Open ASAP.”  The gigantic box will then be marked “storage” and put in the basement.

-Trash cans will be collected and put in a giant box marked “books”(And not MY books, as that could be you know, a review.)

Things movers think are logical:

-The box marked “Tea set, dining room” SHOULD of course go to the files and financial stuff room.  OF COURSE.

-box marked “library” should go to my bedroom.

-Box marked “office supplies” should go to my bedroom.

-Box marked “Wall art” should go to my bedroom.

-box marked “storage/basement” should go to my bedroom.

But this is okay because boxes marked “Sarah, winter clothes” should go to basement storage, as should boxes marked “bed clothes”, “pillows” and “catfood.”

One wonders what would happen if a RATIONAL moving company appeared.  And yeah, this is the best we’ve ever had…  Imagine the worst.

 

A Short And Sweet Promo Post – Free Range Oyster

A Short And Sweet Promo Post – Free Range Oyster

J.M. Ney-Grimm

The Troll’s Belt

Young deceit sprouts timeless trouble.

Motherless Brys Arnsson digs himself into trouble. Bad trouble. Tricked by a troll in J.M. Ney-Grimm’s richly imagined North-lands, Brys must dig himself and his best friend back out of danger. But that requires courage… and self-honesty. Traits Brys lacks at depth.

A twist on a classic, THE TROLL’S BELT builds from humor-threaded conflict to white-knuckle suspense.

John Van Stry

Wolf Killer

The Hammer Commission

With having to leave the Commission for a year while things cool off politically, Mark finds that the Church has loaned him out to the FBI, who have been trying for years now to get an experienced monster and demon expert in their newest division, to help train and educate the agents there on just what they will be facing. Finding out that Mark actually is one of those very monsters has made them want him even more; not just for what he can bring to the table, but because they do need to check off that newest minority checkbox, even if no one knows they exist.

Mark doesn’t mind the new assignment, being closer to home, it means it will be easier to visit with family, and the agents all seem nice enough. Plus the FBI has a bigger budget and gets a lot nicer toys than Mark is used to. However, while Mark knows how to deal with devils, demons, and even the nastier monsters out there, he doesn’t know anything about how to deal with a sociopath werewolf who has gone full psycho and started to murder co-eds.

That’s more of a ‘human’ problem, after all.

Centrists

So this post — Fish And Water — got echoed by a friend on FB.  This is a person whose books I’ve read, though I only know him on FB, and also a person who normally doesn’t echo blog posts.

Over the next day I watched people comment and wondered if I wanted to get involved.  There was the utter crazycakes “USSR’s Agit prop was a huge failure.”  Really, tovarish?  Did you live in an European country (A WESTERN EUROPEAN COUNTRY) and watch people take the glossy photos of “Soviet Life” seriously?  Did you have people tell you face to face that the USSR was only as evil as the US and that there was nothing to choose between them — despite the fact that the USSR was stuck at about the 1930s and had long lines for every normal staple, while the US had long lines for… black Friday.  Despite the fact that every country that fell in the Western sphere of influence was living pretty affluently while the ones gobbled up as a shield by the USSR were living miserably?  Despite the fact that you could see the difference between east and west Berlin from the AIR?  Despite all this people thought that a USSR win and a USA win were “about the same.”  AND THAT was a failure of Agit Prop?  May G-d send me many failures like that.

But then there was the “centrist.”  Oh, you know the centrist.  He shows up in every political discussion to show how mature and well informed he is.

He started by critiquing my blog post — A BLOG POST — by saying I’d provided no examples or citations and that my blog was “emotive writing” and what proof did I have that soviet agit prop had shaped western opinion.

Of course I had provided no examples or citations.  THIS IS A BLOG NOT A FUCKING ACADEMIC JOURNAL.  I didn’t spend six months researching for the post, so I could cite “just the right sources” to convince our “centrist” gentleman. For one because I need no sources.  No, really.  Look at the examples above.  Are any of you going to dispute that life in the sphere of USSR influence was worse than in the west?  Are you going to tell me that the US helping west Germany rebuild was the same as the USSR bleeding East Germany dry?  (And yet, in the US itself kids are taught that Communism is a great way of life and/or it’s never been tried, and that the “good guys lost the cold war.”)

Academics will try that.  Because what they don’t understand about the economy would fill several encyclopedias, they think buying and selling from a country is “economic oppression” on a part with sending your troops to loot it.  And that too is an example of the success of Soviet Agit Prop, albeit Soviet Agit Prop that slotted into a flaw in Western thinking that “smart people” should also be rich, which allows every man jack with a college degree to feel hard done by capitalism.  But the entire explanation of “economic imperialism?”  Well, that came from the USSR tovarish.  It was right there, in books, magazines and pamphlets they put out.

And then the centrist gentleman expounded on his thesis.  I was, he said, just like the SJWs.  When they claim that things are the result of patriarchy and white privilege.  That’s what I was doing claiming that things were the result of agitprop.  Yep.  He was centrist, well informed, the adult in the room, and look how he was hitting both sides.  Don’t you admire him?

I’ve been bizarrely busy.  No, seriously.  Beyond trying to finish a book, brainstorm a collaboration and getting another started, my duties for instapundit, my work here, my work as publisher for the entire family, I have been trying to get Robert’s basement apartment ready for class start on Monday.  This is because at that time he MUST be independent, able to cook/eat on his own, and having the living space fixed as it will be till his Christmas break.  Because he simply won’t have time to tinker with it while studying.

So I considered several times answering the “centrist” but I didn’t, mostly because I got called away.  I do have an answer, besides “you want citations?  Come to the comments, my commenters will provide plenty.”

The answer is: Sure the SJWs say there is “institutional” stuff we don’t even notice, just as I say there is institutional stuff distorting your thinking.  There are two differences: I’m not calling for silencing those repeating crazy Marxism.  Let them talk.  BY ALL MEANS, we WANT them to talk.  Because once things are out in the open, it becomes obvious how crazy cakes they are.  I’m simply calling for us to be aware of and expose the narrative.

The other thing is: Okay. So, where are the courses in “The benefits of Patriarchal Thinking” or “Exploring what White Supremacy can do for our nation” or…?  Go ahead.  I’ll wait.  Meanwhile, in every college, even in conservative parts of the country there is at least ONE course on Marxist analysis of this or that.   And courses on how Marxism can help you with everything from hair growth to the heart break of psoriasis.  Meanwhile for “cases of patriarchy” the left has now descended to hunting micro aggressions, on their way to pico aggressions.

If you think there is a parallel and both sides are the same, between trying to defend your country from the leftovers of USSR propaganda which have openly and BLATANTLY infected the entire educational/entertainment/news industrial-complex and hunting for the snipe of patriarchal and racial aggression in things people might not phrase very well, congratulations: You are a useful idiot.

The Agit prop of the USSR succeeded and continues to foster oikophobia and hate of the west in the west because it infected the minds of people like you.  Not that there was that much there to infect.

You’re the sort of people who thinks that “both sides are equally guilty/bad/etc” is ALWAYS the appropriate answer.  Virtue is always in the middle, right.  If someone wants to bayonet babies and someone wants to keep them alive, virtue must be in the middle: let’s shoot babies in the head.

Extreme?  Of course it’s extreme.  And seeing no different between SJWs wanting to silence people, and the non-Marxist side wanting to EXPRESS DIFFERENT OPINIONS UNMOLESTED while still letting the SJWs talk all they want to isn’t extreme?  Funny definition of extreme.

It is in fact “another easy trick to avoid thinking.”  So long as you can say “both sides are wrong” you don’t need to consider any facts, even blatant ones.  A certain number of people will assume you must be right because you’re not an “extremist” and you can peacock about as the adult in the room.

The fact that your nonsense leads by default to the most aggressive and totalitarian view point winning (the middle between “we just want to talk” and “we want to silence them” is not “both sides talk.”  It’s “We’ll restrict some talk” OR more likely “we’ll restrict the side that’s not calling for restrictions, because the OTHER side is really loud.”) and that you are fostering the destruction of western civilization in the name of a long-dead but strangely still stirring imperialism should cause you no qualms.

After all, you’re centrist and an adult.

You may wipe your hands to the wall.  Toilet paper isn’t going to take care of your magnificent works all by itself.