Fun House Mirrors

I got up late today and was going to put up a guest post, because it’s my two blog day, when I blog at MGC.  But today, I wanted to blog because of an experience I had last night which shook me to the core.

So I got up, took my meds (because of the current auto-immune attack, finally subsiding under prednisone, this is a chore, not just the little thyroid pill in the morning) and had two cups of coffee while Dan got ready for work.

Then I sat down to write a throw away post in MGC, only it turned out not so throw a way.  Before embarking on this one which I expected to be a difficult, lengthy post, I got a cup of coffee and went over to Facebook.

In a talk with friends, I heard about representative Scalise, who was shot by James T. Hodgkin, whose page was, last I checked, still on Facebook, full of rumor and conspiracy and crazy about Republicans.  If you haven’t seen the story go here.

I am not a prophet.  I swear I’m not a prophet.  But the vague, cold feeling that has been in my stomach for weeks, which got worse after that “discussion” yesterday has coalesced into a clear fear.  I just posted this on Facebook:

A radical from a fringe group, led by insane rumor and innuendo, has shot someone who is not even the leader of the faction he hates.
Is Rep. Scalise’s middle name Ferdinand?
Listen to me now; stop believing crazy people, even those in the media. Yesterday, in a friend’s post someone called me racist/sexist/homophobic or implied it because apparently I want to “suppress voices” in science fiction. NO ONE who knows me can believe that. This woman knows me. And this was over an aesthetic disagreement in fricking tiny, irrelevant science fiction.
LISTEN TO ME NOW, it’s time to believe your lying eyes and accept that people can disagree with you without being evil. It’s time to investigate all news, even the ones you think confirm you bias. It’s time to wake up.
YOU DON’T WANT TO GO DOWN THIS ROAD. There is nothing for you here. It didn’t turn out well in 1914. It won’t turn out well now.

I’ve collected at least one idiot already, who thinks that saying republicans are evil doesn’t prove my post.  What the actually?  What madness is this?  Can it end but in blood?

So that post yesterday now seems utterly irrelevant but it’s not.  It’s the same madness.  So let me tell you about it.

A friend of mine who has kept his public persona and his blog persona completely separate, made a thread announcing his politics.  I was glad.  You live better when you don’t live a double life.  Most of his liberal friends said something like “and this is news?” and joked.  A piece of fecal matter with mental problems came onto the thread to scream that Republicans are inherently violent.  Our words are violent, because we want to hurt him.  So our words are the same as attacks.  He couldn’t really cite any Republican violence in the last few decades, except by assuming killers of abortionists are “Republican” or that anyone who has ever supported state violence (but protesters were tear gassed!) is Republican.  He didn’t seem to know that, at least in terms of the US, the right is for the REDUCTION of governmental power.  It was like Thunderdumb.  One idiot goes in, none come out.

But there was another commenter who demanded proof that there was any reason to hide our political opinions because proclaiming them might hurt our careers.

I wasn’t the first to give my story.  But I did give it, pointing out that during Sad Puppies things were said about me that NO ONE WHO KNOWS ME CAN BELIEVE.

This is when Rose Beteem, program coordinator for MileHi con came on the thread, to rave incoherently about apparently (it was hard to decipher, honest, it was a spew) my wanting to suppress voices in Science Fiction.  At any rate, there is no bias in SF, none at all.  She said this.

Now, some of you might have noted my home con, my don’t miss con is Liberty con in Chattanooga.  And you might have wondered why in the last five years or so I haven’t been to MileHi.

The funny thing is it’s not for the reasons you think.  I haven’t been to MileHi because I got put in strange panels, my reading was up against the masquerade, fifteen years after breaking in I was still on beginning writers’ panels (and that’s a problem because when I give my list of publications, either the newbies shut up or try to one-up me.  It makes for a bad panel.  Besides the field has changed so much that I don’t KNOW how people should break in.)  I found it tiresome and annoying, and frankly the last five years I’ve either been ill, moving or away from the state at that time.  It sort of dropped unnoticed.  I do Cosine in the Springs and Liberty con.  If other cons in the Denver area invited me, I’d go, as a matter of good will, but I’ll be honest and for real, cons don’t seem to do much for my readership.  Posting at instapundit and the occasional free short story here do.

It wasn’t until I read Rose Beteem’s post it occurred to me that perhaps there had been bias in my panel assignments.  Yeah.  I am that naive.

You see, I don’t judge people by their politics.  I CAN’T.  I grew up in a country where the right-most party was Social Democrat.  I grew up reading Heinlein.  Early on I formed the idea that good people could believe crazy shit, and I fought the ideas, not the people.

Some of my favorite writers growing up were either hard core leftist, or worse, reflexive ones.  I discounted it because I knew in their time socialism was considered “scientific” and hey, which of us doesn’t have illusions.  I still fought their ideas.

This is the first time I have mentioned someone (who hadn’t directly attacked me or called me names) in a post, by name, and it’s done deliberately, because it’s time to name and shame.  And the reason to do that is this: THIS WOMAN KNOWS ME.  She’s known me since I’ve been a young writer, green as grass and completely naive.  She knows or should know that on sight no one can identify me as any race.  She knows or should know not only a lot of my friends, but my characters are gay.  (The thing isn’t entirely under my control.  See madgeniusclub.com today.)  So to think I would WANT to suppress any “voices” is crazy.

But let’s say I had the power?  Which publishing house do I own that can discriminate against those voices?

Goldport press and soon Inkstain?  you got me.  BUT which MAJOR publishing house do I own that can discriminate against those voices?  WHAT MAJOR PUBLISHING HOUSE does anyone to the right of Lenin control?  Baen?  Bah.  Baen is agnostic on politics, not right wing, as anyone who follows the writers on FB knows.

So how can someone who knows me, knows me personally, saw my kids grow up, knows my kids, believe that Sad Puppies was about suppressing women, minorities, or ANYONE?  HOW CAN ANYONE BELIEVE I WANT THAT?  HOW CAN ANYONE BELIEVE I HAVE THE POWER TO DO THAT?

But she’s “heard” you know.  She’s heard through the rumor mill I’m conservative, probably before I even came out as a constitutional libertarian (which is not exactly conservative but never mind) which probably explains leaving me stuck in breaking in writers panels, and the truly horrible hour allocations.  It probably explains why (at least twice) before I came out politically she asked me if I’d now given up on writing.  Because of course, when they told her I was conservative, it was a given I was a bad writer.  (There’s actually logic in this.  And I’ll explain.  Logic from THEIR point of view, not ours.)

And then Sad Puppies happened and she was told (hell, national media was told) it was because we were evil conservatives, bent on suppressing “marginalized” voices.  (If those voices are marginalized, who marginalizes them?  The leftists who own traditional publishing?  Then what does it have to do with those of us who aren’t leftists?)  And she believed it.

Knowing me, knowing how almost disablingly polite I am in person, knowing I am a first generation immigrant with an accent you can cut with a knife, knowing that my race ID on sight depends on how I wear my hair and if I’ve seen the sun the last couple of months, she believed the entire goal of a group I was involved in was marginalizing “the different.”

All mind you, while she marginalized the different in thought.  Because she’d been told she SHOULD.

In fact, I have a different view of how to get “diverse” voices.  Let them flow.  So long as the story is good, I don’t care what any of the writers look like.  I don’t care what their politics are.  I care about the story.  If the politics get in the way of the story, that’s when I stop.

The problem is that the left thinks “good” means “Changes society” and “fights social injustice.”  This is because what they were taught in school (I know, I was too) is Marxist aesthetics.  They juged the story on how Marxist it is.  New Marxism, btw, a thing of academics and protected groups, NOT the lumpen proletariat.  (Which explains the award to If You Were A Dinosaur My Love.)

They are incapable of imagining different aesthetics, because they were TOLD theirs were right.  So if we want different aesthetics — perhaps because from knowing history of literature we know what is read is what survives, and this stuff isn’t being read.) we MUST oppose, not the aesthetics but their INTENTIONS.

And since their intentions, however unsuccessful are GOOD, our intentions are evil.

(Actually, I think we shouldn’t give pity-awards or contracts or anything.  Minorities — trust me, I ARE one — don’t need them.  You can do them more good by treating them as equals.  They’re as capable as anyone else.)

None of this is new, but what shocked me was that this was someone who knew me PERSONALLY. Someone who knew my family and my friends for years.

More importantly, we found out in the ensuing discussion that my friend Charlie Martin, who grew up with Rose Beteem in a small town in Colorado and who was an old friend had been blocked by her on facebook.  This happened with no contact, no fight.  It shocked him.  And the only reason HAS to be because he disagrees politically with her and people tell her those people are EVIL.  Not wrong, not misguided.  They don’t simply have a different opinion.  No, they are evil.

Now, keep in mind this woman while well known to me is not… Um… I’d say her understanding is moderate and average.  Which is what scares me.  Her understanding is average.  And yet she can believe the narrative over her lying eyes.  She can believe somehow the right marginalizes people in SF/F where the right controls pretty much bloody nothing.  Other than Larry who is a bestseller, the SP were midlisters, indies and fans.  That’s it.  Midlisters, indies and fans with a different aesthetic sensibility.  But we were treated like the devil.  AND THEY BELIEVE WE ARE EVIL.

That’s what gave me the cold feeling in my stomach.  The news this morning only solidified it.  Watching what has gone on, and the crazy crap the media is doing with sensational “revelations” that they know are lies, but they never disclaim of if they do do it in small print, so their people never know, is like watching SP all over again.  The people who thought they had all the power and could never be challenged are throwing a vast, ugly, bizarre psychotic tantrum in public.  They’re telling lies about how withdrawing from the Paris accord and refusing to give money to actual polluter nations is going to KILL US ALL.

As in the establishment in science fiction, they’re doing it because they’re sure of their own righteousness and goodness.  They’re doing it because those “stupid” people are challenging them, and how dare they.  They’re doing it because it feels good.

I’d like to say that they don’t know the crazy they’re driving in their fringe, and they don’t understand the harm they could do to people who ONLY disagree with them.

I’d like to say that, but a semi-closeted friend in the arts just posted this in a private group:

My feed is full of “well, they really do deserve our hate, and oh darn, maybe they’ll think before doing those evil things they do”….bullshit.

It’s not just a fringe, and the people at the top know very well what they’re doing.  They might be deluded, because in Marxist exegesis the “oppressed” always win and they THINK they’re the oppressed.  To that extent they might think victory is inevitable.

But I think it’s more of a primal thing: we dared defy them, resistance to the narrative is building on all fronts, and they want blood.  They really want blood.

Remember when I said when they silence dissenting voices, it’s like tamping down a powder barrel?  Well, now they’re running around flicking matches at random around the powder barrel.

Are they capable of stopping and examining their premises and seeing they’re impossible and someone is lying to them?  Or are they too attached to the narrative and being part of the “in group” to think?

On that hinges how ugly this will get.  And what will emerge on the other side.

They’re lost in a fun house of distorted reflections, unable to see the real people they KNOW.

May G-d have mercy on their souls.

 

 

 

It’s Not The Worst of Times

So, this is not the worst of times.  It’s not the best of times either.  Oh, sure, there are indications both ways, but neither is the way to bet.

We are better off, have more material wealth and abundance than ever before in the history of humanity.  That by itself is probably setting off all sorts of alarms.  You see, it seems that whatever else we were or are, we are built on the framework of a scavenging ape species. This is sort of like one of those kit cars that help with building a model T on top of a VW structure.  It will look like a model T and it will impress people, but it’s all fiberglass and trickery atop the old VW.

Same thing.  We look like it’s all rational and we’re the thinking/reasoning dominant species in this world (Greebo-cat, at my feet, would laugh if he could laugh) but underneath we still have all the impulses and signals that run at an instinctive level: the ones of the old beast underneath it all.

And the old beast was a scavenger.  Oh, it might or might not have killed its own meat sometimes.  NOTE sometimes.  Most of the time, it would be eating the leavings of lions and hyenas.

If a scavenger hits really GOOD times two things happen: its population explodes; and if it has a brain above the old chassis, it worries.

Why worries?  Well, think about it.  There probably was a glut for the (tiny) scavenging mammals when all the dinosaurs died.  BUT that meant famine was around the corner.

It’s probably that sort of mechanism that seems to make human populations collapse when people stop struggling.  Sensible, in the Savannah.  Annoying now.  But it also gives us the feeling that things are coming unglued, and we’re about to be in big trouble.

Which is okay, because we sort of are.

No, it’s not the worst of times.  Not even politically.  There is a tendency to enshrine the first half of the twentieth century as either a golden age (conservatives) or a fascist hell (leftists.)

It was neither.  But it was no paradise for lovers of liberty.  I read about the persecutions and purges of people who were three generations removed from Germany.  I read of instigator corps disseminated among the population by luminaries like Woodrow Wilson.  I read of lynchings and of people spying on people with a fervor worthy of the communist republics.

On the other hand, yes, we could build big things.  If we lifted the regulations that cripple us we could build them now too, probably bigger and better and done by private business.

The regulations, and the people screaming for more of them are a manifestation of the scavenger’s fear, too.  Oh, sure, they’re a manifestation of a greed for power in some, but the reason they get away with them is that the rest of the people are scared.  The hind brain is reading that something wicked this way comes, and the regulations are an attempt to slow change, to keep things static, to be safe “until I run out the clock.”  I’ve heard this phrase from a number of boomers.

It’s nonsense, of course.  You can’t stop the clock.  You can go too fast or you can die.  And it’s easier to go too fast, because when you close avenues of development with regulation, other avenues open, unexpected.  Statists more or less closed the avenue of space, perhaps having realized it would be harder to control all of humanity?  Or perhaps out of an atavistic desire to stop everything that scares them.  Who knows?  It doesn’t matter.  They closed that, and the engineers slipped away into cyberspace, which has had side effects like destroying the big narrative of mass media, which the left had spent a century positioning to control completely.  Evil will oft evil mar and all that.

But it’s not the worst of times, no matter what your back brain is telling you.  There have been much worse ones.  And there will be again, more the pity.

Lately a lot of people including some of my friends have been posting some variation of “Do you want a civil war? Because that’s how you get a civil war.”

It is of course nonsense.  We’ve been in a civil war my whole life.  A cold civil war, between the forces of Western civilization and the enemy (encouraged, if not started by the now defunct Soviet Union) within.  And the forces of freedom have been losing badly.  Until about 15 years ago or so, when we started fighting back.  Not in the political realm, or not effectively enough yet, but increasingly so.  Mostly we were fighting back in the news, the perception, the culture realm.  Which is where we had to start.  Politics comes after.  About 25 years after, because it needs awareness of who we are, and some form of organization (yes, even for individualists.)

The good news — ah! — is that the same thing that is making you nervous, the fast technological change, is also on our side.  Why on our side?  Because we’re the ones who thought ourselves to dissidence in the days of the single, unified narrative blared by news, movies, novels, art.  We have resources to navigate with imperfect, incomplete information, and arrive somewhere sane.

These times of fast change are worse for those who simply memorized/swallowed a narrative.  They want someone to tell them what to do.  They are having a visible, audible, scary breakdown in front of the world and everyone.

Which makes them and the world very dangerous right now.  People who are that desperate to be ruled will find a ruler.  And they’ll try to take us with them.

I didn’t realize how stupid things had got until I hit weather.com last night, and they had a thing about how by leaving the Paris accord Trump had endangered his own properties.

Let’s count the insanity, shall we?

1- I’d come there to look up when it would be cool enough to open my office window.

2- I’m used to the clickbait, but politics, right there, in the front page.  Ooh boy, someone was very sure all their users agree with them and that — wow — everyone will buy this narrative.

3- I don’t buy the narrative.  You see, I have looked into the Paris accord.  It really has nothing to do with stopping carbon emissions — even if carbon were proven to be causing global warming, which it isn’t. Chances are it’s a trailing indicator — because it if it did, it would have to impose limits on China and India.  All it is is a way of transferring money from the West — mostly the US — to China and India, which will of course, be used in more “dirty” development, which if ANTHROPOCENTRIC global warming were a thing, would just back us faster. (Is it a thing?  I don’t know. The data is corrupted, the researchers are corrupted, the programs don’t even predict what already happened, and the whole mess needs to be swept away and investigated by someone whose only solution to EVERY problem isn’t “Socialism!”

4- Even if the Paris accord had actually done anything about global warming, even if global warming were a danger (humans usually do well in warm periods, but there’s indications we’re just in a long break on an ice age.  If you page back, you’ll see a post by Stephanie Osborn explaining what is going on with the sun and the likelihood things are about to get a whole lot cooler.)it would take a LONG time for any coastal cities to be underwater.  To melt all of Greenland’s ice, my friend Charlie Martin, estimated somewhere around 6500 years. This means that for Trump’s properties to be affected, they must still be around in 6500 years.  And for him to be affected by his properties being under water, Trump must be immortal.

To put this in perspective, it’s quite likely at least one and (because there weren’t that many people in the world then, you’re probably descended from the same few over and more) probably more of your ancestors were scratching the dirt of the fertile crescent 6500 years ago for a meager living.

Yeah, it is “ironic” that Trump just arranged for “his properties” to be underwater 6500 years from now.  All hail Donald Trump, Immortal! (Maybe it is the worst of times.  We’re living in a bad sci fi flic.)

5- Weather.com, an enterprise run by the weather channel is a multi-million dollar thing, an investment, a company presumably run by SOME adults.

But they not only thought it was okay to splash cockamamie political propaganda on their front page, never considering some of their users might know better/just disagree, but they think we’re ALL SO STUPID they can do some photoshop and we’ll buy this crap lock, stock and barrel.

…  Which is why I realized the people saying the cold civil war will go hot are right… in part.

Remember, months ago, when I told you that the left thought they couldn’t lose the election?  Because their way is the “future” and history comes with an arrow and moves only in one direction?

To be fair, this is human, not just leftist.  We all impose a narrative on chaos, so we can predict the future.  It’s often imperfect, but also somewhat useful.  For instance, if you know communism in all its forms has killed 100 million people, it’s stupid to try it again, this time with more eggs broken.  There is still no proof it can make an omelet.

It is however a good thing to keep a flexible mind about it.  What happened before, and what we can extrapolate is a guide.  History is not predictable, malgre the various dreams of the various science fiction writers in the middle of the last century.  It’s influence by humans and how they react to their environment, and humans are deplorably — eh — unpredictable.

The problem is the left has bought into Marxism and its pseudo-scientific lies.  And the system despite many past failures to predict anything, purports to predict our emergence into a paradisaical “perfect communist state”.  Everything, from leftist “science” to leftist “art” (that is to say the establishment versions of those, since our establishment is solid left) is designed to hasten the coming of that ah, eschatological result. According to Marxist/leftist/progressive exegesis, of course.

But the predictive powers of that system are somewhat less reliable than Michael Mann’s cooked up hokey stick, which fails to predict the weather now, fed data from the eighties.

So they were sucker punched by the election.  Inf act, they’ve been sucker punched by a whole lot of things the last ten years.  Mostly the fact people are exiting their modes of information/propaganda at speed and forming a different picture of the world than that fed to them by the industrial education-entertainment-arts-“scientific” complex.

Because their minds were not trained in flexibility and they’re something of a cult, they are having a nervous breakdown.

In cults, this usually ends up in koolaid.  In nations, too, when a paradigm (yes, sorry, but it’s the right word) breaks in a way perceived as sudden.

So– is the cold civil war about to be hot?

Um… Stasis has an inertia of its own.  And our populations are too emulsified for something like the ACW.  If what you’re visualizing is armies taking the field and shooting at each other, this is unlikely at least for the next 20 years or so.  Why?  Because it would take the two sides in the ideological and conceptual civil war separating first.

The bad sign is that this is happening.  Or the good sign.  Depends on how you look at it, okay?  For decades, we who didn’t sing the choir chafed at the narrative or parts of it, but there was only one source for news and entertainment (yes, I know, many publishers, many channels.  BUT the differences in their POV were negligible.)

There were (there still are) penalties for not endorsing the “reality of consensus” which was leftist.  You didn’t get HEARD.  If you deviated you were boycotted.  This didn’t create consensus, but it created the APPEARANCE of consensus.

Now you can get heard, at a lower level, but heard.  And people are listening.  This means instead of the left just boycotting the right, it’s now mutual.  (For instance, I’m using Wunderground.com) Which means, given twenty or thirty years, it’s possible we’ll largely separate into two mutually hostile groups.  It’s even possible we’ll slowly separate geographically.  I’m one of those odd libertarians who loves big cities.  I have conservative and libertarian friends in the heart of the big coastal cities.  But in the last five years, they’ve started saying things like “My time here is coming to an end.” And “I’m getting tired of living in enemy territory.”

Will that happen?

My gut instinct is to say no.  The true-believers are not… Um… how to put this?  I don’t think they can survive on their own, unattended.  I don’t think they’re a long-term viable movement.  A friend once told me “the left screams their defiance loudest when they’re dying.”  And I think he’s right.  I think their collapse will be sudden and shocking like the fall of the Berlin wall.

So, everything is clear?  Everything fine ahead?

Ah, I didn’t say that.  When — at a guess, and for true believers, not the dupes, unthinking endorsers and people to young to have shed educational indoctrination — one quarter of the population goes stark raving nutters, like disappointed cult members when their prophet fails to take them to paradise, we’re in for — at best — very choppy water.

And the left for all their mealy mouthed talk of peace, has ALWAYS been startlingly and unrepentantly violent.

So, will there be a civil war?

This is a very big country.  Conditions are very different in different states, cities, locales.

There will be… a distributed heating up of the cold civil war.  In spots.  This is tricky business, as, for instance, the unrest of the last five years has touched me not at all, despite living (now) in a fairly large city.  OTOH I missed some unrest, once, because we went to a museum a different day than we’d originally planned.  (No real reason, we were just not feeling it that day.)

We’re in for a more noisy, larger version of the unrest I grew up through, where in a normal day, on the way to school, I’d turn the corner and find myself in the midst of a pitched street battle.

Keep your eyes open.  Keep your powder dry.  Stay armed in any way you can stay armed.  If by occupation, place of residence, whatever, you can’t carry, make sure you have something you can use to defend yourself.  Be imaginative.  An ornamental walking stick can be a mace with the appropriate weighting.  So can an umbrella.

Get in as good a shape as you can.  Sometimes your feet are your best defense.  No, I don’t mean kicking, though I did my share of that, but running away when outnumbered or outgunned.  There is no shame in escaping to fight another day.

Most of all, stay alert, and do not buckle.

This too shall pass, and we’re more likely to adapt to the place tech is taking us, and to emerge victorious in the end.  Freedom is always more adaptable, and therefore, in the end, more survival enhancing.

This is not the best of times, but it is not the worst of times.  And though doubtless there is an ending in the future, it is nowhere in sight.

Be not afraid.

 

 

On Being Persona Non Grata

expulsionfromEden

You could say I have a contrary disposition.  You could also say water is wet.

My brother who is almost ten years older than I, loved to tease me.  When I started taking languages and literature and emerged as one of the better students and therefore likely to have a career in diplomacy, he once spent a summer night making up a mock-newspaper of my adventures 20 years in the future, when I’d have been declared persona non grata in most of the world’s countries, and sometimes offered money to go away.

It was funny.  What it wasn’t, by then, was really true.

You see, I’ve always had a contrary disposition, and will stick like a Spanish mule, and put my four hooves down as if set in cement, if you try to push me – personally – in any direction.

But by the time he did that I was in college.  And I wasn’t stupid.  At least not stupid in the social-reading sense.

I knew where the power was, even if all the Marxists who wielded power at every institution of learning insisted they were the underdog.  I’d learned in high school that I had to toe the political line or be punished.

And I’m an introvert.  I don’t like scenes.

And I’m human.  I want to be liked and accepted by the group, at least superficially.

And then there was the fact that I thought I’d spend the rest of my life in Portugal where, as a young man from there said on FB yesterday “There are only different kinds of socialists.”  So, there was no point being the voice that cries in the desert.  We remember what happened to such voices, right?

So I went along to go along, and yes, I’m smart enough to pretend.  Also, I’ll be honest, their ideology is a very simple lens.  It’s easy to fake.

I don’t know what changed or when.  I would think it was 9/11, but before that I’d become a fire eating, don’t tread on me Libertarian, the kind who thinks we really can get along without any government.

It was, you know, that a lot of my assumptions about the things the Leftists were right on had started collapsing as I read and understood more: the dangers of overpopulation; ecological disaster looming; the problems of child labor in developing countries.

I’d started reading Sowell on economics, and suddenly it made sense as Marxist economics never did.  And then someone, maybe for a prank, sent me a subscription to Reason then under Virginia Postrel’s editorship.  I fell headlong into “everything the Marxists ever taught me was wrong”  — which is true – but went all the way to the other side of no borders and no government.

I came back with a shock on 9/11.  I think my mind was already laboring at it, because my story Traveling, Traveling is about the dangers of bringing disparate cultures together too fast, and about the fact some people will want their isolation and kill to maintain it.

I still stayed quiet in my public life.  Well, quiet on politics, that is.  Through my thirties and forties, I kept my mouth zipped.  I even tried to pretend. And heaven help me, I must have been very bad at it.

Call it being out of practice in pretending, since in the years of working towards publication I only had to please myself.  I must have been better in Portugal.  Or maybe in Portugal they weren’t on the constant lookout for heresy as progressives have been here, in the last ten years, when their monopoly on information got threatened.

It became obvious, from whispers caught (and my kids heard more, and of course told me.  My kids being darker than I, most people didn’t realize they were mine.  And Kate also heard things) that my career was being curtailed anyway.  They weren’t SURE so I’d be allowed to keep working at a low level, and they watched me all the time.  But I was given no opportunities (hell, I wasn’t allowed to have even chance opportunities) for career advancement just in case I was evil and “conservative” (which in this context means “to the right of Lenin.”)

I still couldn’t come out of the closet and continue being employed.  I did consider just quitting, but Dan asked me to hold on another year.  And besides, the other house ate money by the handfuls, which means though Dan makes enough to support us, the house would suddenly swallow 14 or 15k because a kid fell in the shower and supported himself on the tiled wall.  (Which is when we found out the idiots who flipped the house before we bought it hadn’t put green board behind.  That was…. Er… fun.  When we were done rebuilding walls and putting in mold abatement, my entire earnings for that year had gone to it and taxes.)

So.  I kept my trap zipped and continued working.  I didn’t want to be persona non grata.

I still don’t want to be persona non-grata.  I only started talking about politics, because my (then) agent told me I had to blog every day.  And it’s impossible to blog every day without writing about what matters to you, which – given that I have this wound from the cold war, and it only hurts when I laugh – sooner or later the anti-communism, anti-socialism, anti-Marxism, anti-statism would come pouring out like vitriol.  It just would.

And you’d think in the USA in the twenty first century being against those things would not make you persona non grata.  Except of course it does.

Just the other day there was another announcement for a new magazine for marginalized voices: women, people of color, people of different sexual orientations. And my head kind of twisted.  If they’re marginalized, that means most publishing slots are for conservative white males, right?  This idiot actually went out of her way to say she was opposing the Sad Puppies and promoting marginalized voices.

Will one of you tell me what major publishing house we control?  Baen books is just agnostic on politics, certainly not a “right wing house” and even if it were, it’s not one of the big four.  So, what other major publishing house runs itself by the principles of Sad Puppies?  Much less the principles the idiots think Sad Puppies followed?

And if we’re not in control of any major house, any magazine, why are these people they want to make a new magazine for “marginalized”?  WHO “marginalizes” them?  H*ll most of the editors, publishers and writers in my field seem to be women. It reminds me of being in an all girls’ school in middle school.  And H*ll, if you throw in romance, women vastly outnumber men in all publishing.  As for race, you know, there was never a time ANYONE asked me to state my race or paintchip color (Home depot Spun Gold, thank you) on a submission.  And no one can hear my accent in writing.  So if I was discriminated against, it wasn’t race!

In the end it was this, the screaming like you’re hurt while hitting other people: the active marginalization of conservatives and libertarians and even traditional democrats (even Hamilton would be read out of the current Democratic Party, I think.  And the man was a monarchist who believed in a powerful central government) while screaming that the leftists, communists, socialists and assorted proponents of the ideas that killed 100 million people were the downtrodden ones that sent me running out of the political closet.

Do I like it?  Not much.

The visions of myself, refracted, like mirrors, go echoing through the net.  On the right I get called a happy warrior.  On the left I get called crazier names, including “politically insane.”  Or “fascist.”  Or of course, the old standby “racist, sexist, homophobic” because I refuse to bow to their aesthetics of “good art is that done in the service of the eventual Marxist state.”  (Most of them don’t even remember how that came about, but yeah, that’s it.)

And even those on our side sometimes say you know, I talk too much, I talk too loudly.

I know it loses me readership.  Several people on the left were fans of Darkships before they found out my real politics.

And I never wanted to be persona non grata, whatever Alvarim thought.

But what else can I do?  The more we stay silent and let lies go around the world again and again and again, the greater the chance Western Civ dies.

And for all its faults, western civ, the notion of individual liberty, the power of only semi-fettered markets, have lifted more humans out of poverty than ever before.  They have almost eliminated famines not caused by bloody stupid kleptocracies. They’ve proven the best for avoiding those dystopian outcomes: overpopulation, pollution, famine.

I know which world I want my children and grandchildren to live in.

And if I must be persona non grata, so be it.  I’m human. Like all humans I want to be liked, to belong, to be accepted in the dominant culture of my time.  But when the dominant culture of my time is a poisonous and undermining lie, there are more important things than being liked.  There are more important things than personal success.

At another time, in another place, I’d have stayed quiet in my library, writing my fiction.

But this is not another time.  And we’re not given a choice.

I’m not a happy warrior.  I fight because I must.

Because everything I believe in depends on it.

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike & Sunday Promo- From the Lair of the Ambulatory Mollusc

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

So what’s a vignette? You might know them as flash fiction, or even just sketches. We will provide a prompt each Sunday that you can use directly (including it in your work) or just as an inspiration. You, in turn, will write about 50 words (yes, we are going for short shorts! Not even a Drabble 100 words, just half that!). Then post it!  For an additional challenge, you can aim to make it exactly 50 words, if you like.

We recommend that if you have an original vignette, you post that as a new reply. If you are commenting on someone’s vignette, then post that as a reply to the vignette. Comments — this is writing practice, so comments should be aimed at helping someone be a better writer, not at crushing them. And since these are likely to be drafts, don’t jump up and down too hard on typos and grammar.

If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Your writing prompt this week is: Heap

Sunday Promo- From the Lair of the Ambulatory Mollusc

J.M. Anjewierden

Penny Dreadful and the Clockwork Copper

Viva-3 was built to discover secrets. But they made her too well. She’s the perfect spy: the lethality and persistence of the police clockworks in a body that can pass as human. What the Empire’s police don’t know is that she doesn’t have to obey their orders or her programming. She can think and decide for herself. And she’s doomed if they find out.

Viva is sent undercover with orders to unmask the city’s vigilante hero, Penny Dreadful. She is supposed to stop his one-man war against the criminals of Monte-Ostrum. It will be dangerous, but just maybe Dreadful will be more useful as an ally rather than an enemy…

J.M. Ney-Grimm

The Tally Master

Seven years ago, reeling from a curse in the wake of battle, Gael sought sanctuary and found it in a most perilous place.

The citadel of a troll warlord – haunt of the desperate and violent – proves a harsh refuge for a civilized mage. But Gael wields power enough to create an oasis of order amidst the chaos.

Now master of the metals that flow to the citadel’s weapon forges, Gael rules his tally room unchallenged, until he discovers a theft within its vaults.

Gael loves the quiet certainty of black ink tally marks on smooth parchment, but his search for the thief leads to a maze of unexpected answers, putting his hard-won sanctuary – and his life – at risk.

Where to Stand

I swear every other week, another ad comes across my feed saying “So and so is the new Heinlein.”  Needless to say when I look up their samples, they’re not even the old Heinlein — outdated and sometimes odd, but shining with a brilliance all his own — they’re more like the new newby, all stumbling sentences, half baked ideas and either repeating the new SJW hotness or trying to be its contrary in a self-conscious, little-girl-at-recital way.

I don’t hold it against anyone if their publishers compare them to Heinlein.  That’s not your call, and you can’t say anything.  A few that their publishers have promoted that way have a spark of the master, and you know who they are.

I’ve been compared to Heinlein in reviews, and obviously I’m not going to scream at that.  I always get incredibly flattered, even though I know it isn’t true.  Sure, he’s a major influence in my writing, because he was my favorite writer since I became aware of having a favorite writer.  But I’m not him.  I am but an egg.  And when the egg hatches (maybe, some are duds) I’ll probably be more myself than him, because that’s the normal artistic progression: you outgrow your influences and re-meld them into a new synthesis.

I would not, however, dream of comparing MYSELF to Heinlein.  Why not?  Well, because I am not him.  Every time I re-read his work (once every year or so) I become aware of my short comings.  Every time I learn something new.  To put a thing up saying “I am the New Heinlein” is just inviting all his long-time fans to examine my work minutely and compare it to his.  And that — since I’m one of those long time fans, I know — only ends one way, and that’s NOT with them terribly impressed with me.

However, if they read it without my dancing around saying “I’m so great” fans often say “there is a tiny spark of Heinlein there.”  And his reflected light is so great, that that’s enough to get other people to try it.

I didn’t get this when I was a much younger writer.  I don’t think any young writer (as in recently published) does.  It’s just something that’s not immediately graspable.  It’s made worse by agents and publishers who ask in submission forms (do they still do that?  I realized I’ve been established for ten years and haven’t cold-submited to anyone) “Who is the author you most resemble?

It’s silly, and I think they intend to use it as part of their publicity, but it used to stop me cold “Who the hell do I resemble?”  And the answer was as it is still “no one.  I’m me.”  Particularly considering what I am likely to write at any given moment partakes of the day and what side of the bed I got up on, how can I say that about all my work?  I remember I sent a submission out once and I filled that space with Le Guin, because the work I was submitting was a magic world that involved human sacrifice.  I was thinking of the Tombs of Atuan, of course.  I got back this shouty rejection telling me I was nothing like Le Guin and yelling at me for not writing with my “feminine side.”  It wasn’t till much later I realized they saw Le Guin and read “feminism” while I was saying “deep and dark world with magic and human sacrifice.”

This is particularly true of YOUR work.  When I took my first class with Kris and Dean, they told us that a writer is the worst judge of their own work.  And they were right.  And it doesn’t just mean judge in quality terms.  Sometimes what my fans find to love (or hate) in my work leaves me going “Oh, I guess that’s there.  I hadn’t noticed.”  And sometimes the reason a book (or movie) is popular is something you consider so incidental that it would never occur to you to promote it.  Someday, you should listen to Dave Drake telling how Jim Baen thought he was in the same niche as a bunch of other writers, people he’d never thought of.  The only thread linking them? Mil SF.  From the publisher’s perspective, despite vast style differences, etc, there was no difference.

I’ve never been good at this type of comparison anyway.  I’d have done it if I could when I was a rank beginner, except I always had the feeling that what I saw in these authors isn’t what other people saw.

I used to call attention to my deficiencies in a different way: I used to put lines of poetry at the beginning of my short stories.  This is because reading poetry was (still is) the best way to come up with short stories.  A metaphor will inspire me, or a bit of feeling will catch me, and I carry that into the story.

When I was young and stupid (a conjunction that’s not obligatory, but which often occurs) I used to think that if I put the piece of poetry at the top, it would carry my story along on its back, as it were, and I’d have to work less.

This assumption almost gave Kris and Dean a heart attack at my very first workshop.  Their first fear was unfounded, mind.  Because at the time I mostly read poetry in Spanish or Portuguese, they assumed I was taking someone’s translation and using it without permission. Yes, translators get copyright to their translations.  So if I were doing that, at least more than a couple of words, I’d need permission.  BUT even when I reassured them that I had translated the bits myself (and most of the poems are out of copyright, anyway) they told me it was a bad move.

Why?

Well, it adds nothing to the story.  Not really.  It might be what inspired you, but if you did your job right, the bit that inspired you will be right there, embedded in the story.  And by putting in words that are greater than yours, you’re just inviting comparison.

It goes something like this “if that poet is so great and has such a following you think it enriches your story, are you saying you’re as good as he is?  And if you aren’t, is that a comparison you want?”  … and for that matter, if you are, since I used some poets that wrote in Spanish and which are iconic everywhere in the world (the Portuguese one is less well known, but revered where known) even if I should have been so full of myself as to think the comparison was in my favor, do I want the poets many, many fans who disagree to gloom onto me as having insulted him?  Do I want them to read my work looking for flaws, or looking to become a new fan?

So… I ditched the poetry bits.  And I’d never compare myself to someone like Heinlein, whose typewriter ribbon (well, for most of his writing career) I’m not fit to change.

Yeah, the name of Heinlein catches my eye, and I go in to look at the book.  The problem is that most writers aren’t even passable, and even those who might have a reflection of a spark have got me expecting Heinlein.  And they’re not Heinlein.

To be fair, neither am I.  And I’ll never be.

And the best way I’ve found to do publicity is “the first taste is free.”

I’ve found that every time I put a short story up for free here, my fandom’s involvement and size jumps up.

So, going to strive for a free short a month.  In addition to the novels-in-progress, which yes, I’ll finish.

Because that gets fans hooked on me.  Which is good, because in the end, I’m just me.  And my mind and my ability are all I have to sell.  I’ll never be Heinlein. The best I can aspire to is being myself as hard as I can.

 

 

Dark Fate 9 B – In the Dark

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.*

For those who have no idea what this is, Dark Fate starts

First chapter is here.

Second Chapter is here

Third Chapter is here

Fourth Chapter is here

Chapter 5 is here.

Chapter 6 is here.

Chapter 7 is here.

Chapter 8 is here.

The beginning of chapter 9 is here.

And yes, I’m going to collate and proofread the preceding and put it in a tab at the top.

I jumped sideways.  I couldn’t see if she had jumped also.  The car continued on a direct course into a wall ahead.  I noted that the plaque above the door read “armador”.

“Merda,” Silvia said.

“What?”

“Shit,” she translated helpfully. The car hit with a bang and everything shook, and I didn’t know where she was but she must be nearby.

“I know what it means,” I shouted back somewhat agrieved.  “I want to know why you’re swearing.”

“The undertaker,” she shouted.

She did it just in time for me to see the front of the “Armador” shop explode outward.  Out of it, lumbering, came zombies.

“Ah, shit,” I said.  I hate zombies. They’re nasty, smelly, and are garanteed to destroy whatever suit you’re wearing when you fight them.

I got the gun Silvia had given me.  It looked like a 9mm, and it was honestly, a simple grease gun, and I didn’t expect much from it.  It felt light and like a tinker toy in my hands, but it was what I had and by damn I was going to use it.  I stitched a line of shots into the two nearest zombies.  There seemed to be a dozen or so of them, and one must have been midway being worked on, because his guts were trailing behind him.  I hit that one first across the neck, not explecting much.

Well, the damn thing exploded, all over the place, sending guts and embalmer fluid elsewhere.  I sighted the second zombie, let it fly, the same happened.  Meanwhile Silvia was shooting also, with the same effects.

“Why are they exploding?” I asked.

“Blessed bullets,” She said.  “Father Frodo blesses our ammunition just in case.”

She could not have said Father Frodo, and I was not going to touch that one with a ten foot pole.  The idea of Tolkien characters in holy orders made my head ache.

I tried to get all the zombies, but in the haze of their exploding fellows, it was almost impossible to see the ones lumbering up behind.  When the submachine gun clicked on empty, there were still four zombies left.

Silvia gave a scream, like the zombies personally offended her, I saw her charging towards the zombies, guitar in hand.  I wondered if she was crazy.

But I had no time to wonder, because a zombie jumped me.  It went from lumbering horror to jumping like a lion, and landed full weight on me.  This zombie had been a heavy, middle aged man.  Either that or he had been stuffed with lead, prior to burial.

He took hold of my neck, with cold fingers, in a vise-like grip, and brought his mouth down to bite me.  His mouth, when he opened it, was stuffed with cotton.  But the teeth were still sharp enough.  His eyes glowed red, and he stank.

It was all so fast, I felt my vision dim, and struggled for air.  Fortunately my body is way smarter than my brain, even when it gets full oxygen.  My hand, holding the submachine gun, rose of its own accord, and landed a blow sideways on the zombie’s head.

It snapped sideways, lolling on its shoulder, and it allowed me to get up.  But it was by no means dead, and as I stood, holding the submachine gun, ready to wack it again, it coiled for a leap.

And Silvia appeared behind it.  She did something I couldn’t see, and the loling head fell off and rolled, while the body fell.

“What?” I said.

“Guitar string.  Good heavens, man, don’t you know better than to let a revenant get a jump on you?”

“Uh… a what?”

“Revenant.”

“Is that what you call zombies?”

She looked at me as though I were mentally slow.  “No,” she said.  “We call zombies, zombies.  We call revenants to creatures that are also called from dead bodies, but who have the full range of movement of a live human being.”  She looked around.  I hadn’t realized how fast the whole battle had happened, except that we were in this narrow street between two and three story portuguese houses, the kind that have no front garden, but have the front wall flush with the street.

We’d fired machine guns, and shouted, and there was a car crash.  How come no one had heard.  I suspected something magical.  And then, above us, shutters opened with a bang.  A white-haired head peeked out, and I wished I had ammo for the machine gun.  But what came out was a creaky, high pitched yell.

“What did he say?”

Silvia giggled, “Go play elsewhere and take the woman with you, you bunch of libertines!”

“Bunch?”

“I don’t think he can see too well.”

Silvia yelled soemthing back, I wasn’t sure what.  There was a sort of growl back and the shutter closed with a bang.

“Let’s see if Miss Priss still runs,” she said.

“Miss what?”

“My car.”

Weirdly, it did.  I wondered if it too had been blessed.  I mean the front was a mess, the windshield was mostly blown out, but she backed it out of the shop, and started off down the street.

“That was interesting,” she said.  “I don’t think I’ve ever got attacked on the way to an outbreak yet.”

“That wasn’t the outbreak?” I asked.

“Oh, nowhere near.”

She seemed very cheerful about it.  I had a feeling things were about to become interesting.  This is when my phone buzzed, with an incoming text.

It was from Franks, and it read “Grrrrr.”

 

 

The Children of Now

Sometimes I feel like I’m living in a science fiction novel of the mid seventies.  Humanity has conquered death — okay, not quite, but we have certainly extended life for most people (there were always exceptional individuals) at least another 20 years or so) — and has no real material want, so people never grow up, and live in an eternal now with all the pettishness and foolishness of adolescence.  This was, with variations, a perfectly common plot in the seventies, usually with a man or woman from now going to the future and slowly growing disenchanted with paradise.

Don’t ask me for titles because a) it was the seventies and I was reading in Portuguese, and the title translations are often funny.  b) I didn’t LIKE any of them very much.  I just chain read them because I was bored, and then forgot them just as quickly.

If I were writing this sort of thing, I’d call it “The children of the Eternal Now” and have a cover with dancing little nymphs strewing flowers, and a spaceship in the background.  Or a time machine.  Or something.

But there’s no point writing it, because to a great extent we’re living it.  Sure, we haven’t conquered death, and okay, not everyone has every material good they could possibly want.  But in the developed countries no one starves to death, and in the undeveloped ones, the reason they do has more to do with their kleptocratic governments than with an insufficiency of food.

Weirdly, and unlike the writers of those warnings against utopia, I don’t think the problem with people is that they have too much and are too comfortable.  Oh, some, sure.  After all, if you come from a privileged background and mommy and daddy did all the work for you, including making sure you had good grades, and you never had to fight for anything, there’s a chance — not inevitable, but a chance — that you’ll never fully grown up.  Humans were created for adversity and strife, and without it there are psychological structures and mechanisms that never emerge.

But most people still have stuff they want.  And most people still know adversity, from Mrs. Baker in third grade who hated your guts, to lay offs and being “poor” for a while. (We’ve been very poor at times.  Feast or famine is pretty much how our life has gone.  We have the bizarre knack of being unemployed at the same time, which considering how different our fields are, is amazing. But we’ve never been third world poor, much less 19th century poor.  Hence the quotes.)

But it is those privileged, born with a sterilized spoon in their mouths, never had to do anything but exist and were told how special they were from birth, who are setting the culture.  And they ARE the children of the eternal now.

If it weren’t so sad it could kill me laughing that these people who think they are multiculturalists, and sophisticated and claim the right to judge all the past in the light of their vaunted “wisdom” don’t understand how insular they are, how stupid, and how completely ignorant of anything older than fifty years.

As some of you know, because I was so happy about it a few days ago, there have been several books by Patricia Wentworth released recently.  I don’t know if her copyright ran out (I know it did in England, but then they couldn’t sell them in the US.  Perhaps it’s different when you’re a British author.  Or perhaps the copyrights finally reverted to her family.  What I know is that every week there’s a batch of books coming out.  I’d heard she had hundreds of books, but I could only find the same thirty here, and I read them till they were pulp, then got them in electronic when they were available.

Is she a wonderful writer?

Sort of depends on what you consider wonderful.  Her word craft was sometimes lagging (I think she was writing these at six a year or so.  She was a widow and supporting her kids) and she sometimes recycled plots, but she had the grace of giving them new twists.  What she did really well was bring people to life.  I suspect she started out as a discount Agatha Christie.  But her voice is different and her touch is different.  Just like Agatha Christie is an excellent writer of mysteries, but her thrillers just don’t have “it” (partly because world politics in them are a bit daft) Patricia Wentworth did mysteries, but her heart wasn’t in it.

Miss Silver was the logical equivalent of Miss Marple, but after a while you can tell Patricia got bored with writing cozies, and the answer to any crime Miss Silver solved was “Maud Millicent Simpson is behind it.”  And Maud Millicent was a super villain to end all super villains.  She could disguise herself to look like anyone.  Her criminal connections extended to everything, etc. etc.

As you can probably tell, I rolled my eyes really hard at those books, but I never threw them against the wall, and even re-read them, because the interactions between people were great.

Her formula was hopeless romance+a little crime +a bit of danger+a good bit of late Victorian comfort = fun escapism.

So, I fell on the new releases like an hyena on three days dead, runny zebra.  All the more so since since February a week hasn’t gone by without a disaster.  There’s been big ones, small ones, and ones we can’t do anything about.  (Which is why I am again on Prednisone.  I’m going to be so fat and bald, but I couldn’t endure itch all over my body, or open sores ditto, anymore.)

And then I came across (on a few of her books) a bunch of preening, self-satisfied reviews by the children of the eternal now.

Take this one, for instance, on a book called Will o’ the wisp:

I have read almost everything Patricia Wentworth has written. Her books are eminently readable and entertaining, with happy endings. Yes, they are dated; as such they may have a rare politically incorrect reference. Yet even when making such allowances, this book is simply offensive. In many series from this era men call women of whom they are fond “my dear child.” Men marry their cousins. Couples marry young. However, in this book the love interest of the protagonist is an immature, damaged, twisted teen who is acting out and simply a brat. Her looks are described in detail intimating that she appears but a child in makeup. The idea that a man would marry a 16 yr. old (even to save her), and then fall in love with another “child,” especially one that is being exploited, is offensive to me. Skip this one!

First of all, I’m not 100 percent sure what book this spoiled brat read.  The love interest of the protagonist is the woman — his age — with whom he’d broken up 7 years before.  There is a very young girl who yes, is acting out and is a brat, involved.  BUT for the love of BOB, the protagonist does NOT fall in love with her.  As for being exploited, the girl is a flapper and hanging out with bad boys.

My mom and dad started dating at 14 and 17.  They married at 18 and 21.  The thing is, there’s a picture of them the day they met, and you’d never take them for 14 and 17.  At fourteen mom had been working for 3 years, and dad was also working while going to school.  Their ages of dating and marriage were still normal in my day.  And as for older people marrying younger, no ONE batted an eye at a thirty something year old man wanting to marry a seventeen year old.  If you go further back into the regency those were the NORMAL romances.  At various times in history, men didn’t marry till they were established, and women were considered mature enough to marry at sixteen.

All of which is beside the point, btw, because the protagonist in this book is 25 and seven years ago he married A DIFFERENT 16 year old to get her out of trouble.  So, he was eighteen, and he married a kid who was in trouble (it’s never claimed he was in love with her.)  Even in the states, in our day, that’s only considered statutory rape if you are exceptionally insane.

In this book he’s love with the fiance he was broken up from (by the family) seven years ago.  She’s also 25. And she’s a widow.

Yeah, he does notice how young the 16 year old in the book looks, even as she’s trying to vamp him.  It’s called a man realizing a kid is a kid.

The fact this idiot gave a review without finishing the book, and having misunderstood the little she read is astounding, too.  I know why they do it to me and other authors they disapprove of.  But Wentworth is beyond their wrath.  So doing it CAN ONLY be because they can’t wait to preen on how much more enlightened they are and dance on the graves of their far better predecessors.

And then the vacuous child leaving the review has the nerve to put in something about PW sometimes being politically incorrect.  Bubble brain apparently thinks that political correctness (something Mao dreamed up to OBSCURE truth and make you believe what he said and not your lying eyes) is a good thing.  Because she wouldn’t want any truths to jog her out of her perpetual now and the conviction that the prejudices of her time, and the patterns of her tribe are a law of nature.

Patricia Wentworth died in the sixties, about the time I was born.  She wrote, of course, about the times of her youth.

The people leaving comments (there are other books with this sort of review) about how her female characters aren’t very smart or good, do not understand how a woman operating within a traditional society is smart and good.  It has little to do with the pseudo-male posturing of today’s feminists, little to do with kicking men’s asses (as if that happens often, in the physical sense) and more to do with influencing things, and doing things quietly behind the scenes and sometimes showing extraordinary courage despite incredible fear, like, going down a passage in the dark to rescue a man who might be dead, even though you’ve never done anything so unsafe before.

Not good enough for the children of the perpetual now.  This woman who was, objectively, my grandmother’s generation might as well have lived in another planet, and her books might as well feature a completely different species.

It would be okay if these idiots realized their lack.  The upper classes have always been insular and full of their own self importance, proselytizing the “one true way” of doing things.

However, these lackwit ninnies think they are cosmopolite and multi-culti.  They will lecture the rest of us, who have at least some inkling of history and reality, on “accepting the other.”  All the while they dance on the eternal meadow strewing flowers and looking down their pampered little noses on their far more competent grandmothers.

Hola, you pampered jades of Asia.  Some of us live in the real world and know what struggle is.  Some of us are getting tired of your cr*p.  Every time you tamp down on our speech, you’re just tightening the bung on the powder barrel.

Ca ira.

 

UPDATE: Okay, I was wrong.  He does marry the “kid” at the end.  She’s 18, not 16.  He’s 25. I’ve seen bigger differences.  I do feel it was a misstep.  As in, I don’t think that’s where she was going to begin with, even if the character is an incorrigible white knight.  BUT there is also nothing seditious or evil about it.  As I said, I’ve seen bigger differences.

 

 

What Happened to Spot? A Solar Update By Stephanie Osborn

What Happened to Spot? A Solar Update

By Stephanie Osborn

http://www.stephanie-osborn.com/

Well, well, well. Other people are sitting up and taking notice:

https://www.vencoreweather.com/blog/2017/3/20/1130-am-the-longest-stretch-of-a-blank-sun-since-2010

I’ve been keeping a spreadsheet since late last summer, and here are the results, as of June 6th, 2017. (Quick and easy data source, the daily sunspot image archives from Solarham.)

Year Month % 0-1 0%
2016 Aug 16.1 9.7
Sep 23.3 3.3
Oct 38.7 3.2
Nov 36.7 13.3
Dec 67.7 16.1
2017 Jan 41.9 25.8
Feb 60.7 3.5
Mar 71.0 45.2
Apr 43.3 16.7
May 64.5 22.6
Jun 100.0 0.0
       
 

 

     

 

Solar disk as of 6 June 2017

solar disk1

Solar disk as of 6 June 2017

 

Solar disk as of May 31, 2017

solar disk2

Solar disk as of May 31, 2017

This data (through March; I’ve updated it since then) was posted on Jerry Pournelle’s blog a while back, and it elicited several questions from readers, who didn’t understand the information contained therein. So here is an effort to elaborate on the data, for those of you who aren’t astronomers/ astrophysicists and don’t want to have to keep up with all this stuff.

1) I have been following sunspot numbers for many years now. And while sunspot numbers have been decreasing steadily for several cycles to date, the current dearth is very unusual — especially for this point in the cycle — and, to quote my favorite Vulcan, “Fascinating.” I am definitely continuing to keep an eye on the activity, or rather lack thereof. For those of you who may not be familiar with my background, I am an astrophysicist turned rocket scientist turned author; my graduate work was in spotted variable star astronomy. This IS my principal field of expertise.

2) There is a relatively new model out, the “double-dynamo” model of the solar interior, only about 2 years old, which does a reasonable (though not perfect; it’s still not complex enough, IMHO) job of predicting extended solar minima, as well as the somewhat unusual “two-hump” shapes of recent solar cycles (when sunspot numbers vs. time are plotted). [https://www.ras.org.uk/news-and-press/2680-irregular-heartbeat-of-the-sun-driven-by-double-dynamo also https://www.nature.com/articles/srep15689 ]

The double dynamo flow as depicted

in the model developers’ Nature article, linked above.

 

dynamo

 

This model is predicting an extended minimum beginning in about 10-15 years (1-1.5 solar cycles), and this roughly matches my own considerations based on observation. If it is indeed not complex enough (as I strongly believe), then it may be that said extended minimum may begin sooner or later than predicted. The current rather precipitous decrease in sunspot numbers so soon after a solar max — which was itself somewhat paltry — may indicate an early start…or not. We will have to wait and see.

yearly averaged

Image credit: NASA

active region

Most recent solar cycles; note data ends in 2014.

Image taken from website Watts Up With That

latter half

Latter half of Cycle 23 plus Cycle 24 to date.

Note: red line was predicted curve, and that was adjusted downward

after the solar max ended so low, and we are still dropping well beneath it.

Image credit NOAA/SWPC

 

3) The “Little Ice Age” was actually a significantly extended cool period lasting several centuries, and no less than FOUR extended minima occurred during its “tenure.” These include, in order, the Wolf, the Spörer, the Maunder, and the Dalton minima. These extended minima were not all of the same “depth,” in that the minimum numbers of sunspots were not the same across all of them — the Maunder was far deeper than the rest — but there are indications that we are hitting numbers in the range of the Dalton already.

Note that, during the Maunder Minimum, sunspots became so rare that a grand total of only ~50 were observed over 28 years — this corresponds roughly to two and a half solar cycles. In a “normal” cycle, we would expect to see around 50,000 sunspots in that same timeframe, some THREE ORDERS OF MAGNITUDE MORE than were observed during the Maunder Minimum. Entire month spans went by with NO sunspots. Also understand that, when sunspots resumed, they did not pick up mid-cycle, despite the fractional-cycle timeframe; the extended minimum was, effectively, a reset.

Also realize that as observing capabilities have increased, sunspot counting has been adjusted via modeling to ensure that current sunspot data is consistent and contiguous with the earliest sunspot numbers. (In other words, given we can now see teeny-tiny sunspots that might not have been visible in, say, the 1700s, we also now know roughly the percentage of teeny-tiny sunspots that occur relative to the larger ones, and can extrapolate the data so that everything stays consistent.)

In addition, we have learned to cross-correlate databases so that we can use other data, such as Carbon-14 and other isotopic abundances in tree rings and ice cores, to be able to approximate solar activity in earlier timeframes before sunspot observations began, though it is not as accurate. And we don’t get actual sunspot numbers out of ‘em, but instead we get relative solar activity. So, for instance, we know that a relatively “shallow” extended minimum, aka the Oort Minimum, likely occurred in the 1000s AD, though determining specific dates is a bit more difficult. We can thereby extend our knowledge of solar activity back several millennia with relative ease.

the small unlabeled

Note: the small, unlabeled minimum between the Maunder and the Modern Maximum is the Dalton Minimum. Also note the lag between the relatively deep Wolf and the beginning of the Little Ice Age, and a similar lag after the Maunder/Dalton Minima and the beginning of the Modern Maximum. This lag may or may not correspond to the time required for the delta-energy input to work its way through the various coupling mechanisms.

Image credit USGS.

 

4) The fact that, as sunspot numbers go down, the overall energies output by the Sun also go down is an indication that, in this instance, correlation may well equal causation, at least to some degree. Add in a few large (or many small) volcanic eruptions to complicate matters — and there usually ARE such concatenations of volcanic eruptions in such multi-decadal timeframes, as a matter of course — and it may well prove interesting times ahead, as well as in the past.

5) Data indicate that cosmic ray fluxes are increasing, and this is further indication that solar activity is decreasing, as the solar wind normally tends to provide a shield of some (relative) substance against cosmic rays, which originate outside our solar system, mostly from galactic sources (supernovae, active galactic nuclei, etc). But as solar activity declines, the solar wind also declines, and so too would the cosmic ray flux increase, as the plasma which shields us from its entrance into the inner solar system decreases. (We still have the magnetosphere shielding us.)

[See, e.g. http://news.spaceweather.com/cosmic-rays-are-intensifying/  and

http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/local-news/cu-boulder-scientist-predicts-increase-in-radiation-exposure-on-airlines-in-coming-years . For the historical knowledge of the solar wind’s influence on cosmic ray flux, see https://journals.aps.org/pr/abstract/10.1103/PhysRev.110.1445 .]

cosmic rays

This is an illustration of why cosmic rays are important and dangerous; as soon as they hit matter — in this case, the atmosphere, but the metal of a spacecraft is even more effective — each “cosmic ray” particle interacts with the particles in that obstacle and produces a shower of particles, gamma rays, and x-rays.

Image credit Francisco Barradas Solas

 

I’m simplifying all of this, of course; things are always more complex than meets the eye. But given the steady decrease in numbers for a good 3 or more cycles now (with considerable fluctuation for several cycles before that), I will be surprised if, at some time in the next few cycles, we do not enter an extended minimum, even if only of moderate depth. And it really isn’t a matter of “if,” but of when. Many variable star astronomers (and that’s what I studied in school — spotted variables, no less) consider that the Sun is at the very least borderline variable; some consider it outrightly so. I tend to fall in the latter camp; it all depends on the percentage of variability, and we are only now obtaining the kind of data we need to determine that. But it doesn’t actually take much.

So things are picking up steam, and after many years of my talks, blog posts, etc., I am finally no longer the only person in the room standing up and saying, “Hey, folks, something interesting is going on here.” What’s going to happen next? I can’t say for sure. But it definitely bears watching. I’ll keep you posted as things develop, to the best of my ability.

 

Addendum from Old Uncle Lar:

I asked Steph to work this up from several on-line discussions she and I were a party to as well as a recent general observation from many sources that sunspot activity was way down from previous levels. I will endeavor to badger her into further developments as they occur.

Since I am also her business advisor I am compelled to mention that A Very UnCONventional Christmas, book three of the Division One series, will be available for pre-order on June 13 and sale on July 11. We expect to have print copies from a pre-production run available at Libertycon as well. Hope to see many of you there.

 

Mothering and Oppression

When Robert was very little, something happened to him that was “the worst thing ever.”  I don’t remember what it was, and it’s entirely possible I never knew.  He was that small, that his explanation might have made no sense.

Lots of things were the worst thing ever at that age.  He tripped and hurt himself.  The water he was about to drink spilled down his front.  He’d started falling asleep and come suddenly awake for no good reason he could figure.

He was crying, mouth open, in absolute grief.  I remember I was in the bathroom, and this must be at the time we were potty training him, because there was a jar of candy on the toilet tank (something our friends found somewhere between appalling and amusing, but it worked.  Pee in toilet, get piece of candy.)  I sat on the tub (I think I was putting makeup on to go out) pulled him to me, hugged him, told him everything was all right, and gave him a piece of candy.

Like that, his crying went from unbridled grief to a big smile.  And I remember thinking “Ah, son, if only I could do that for the rest of your life.  If whatever problems face you could be banished by a hug and a piece of candy.”

He’s 25.  He’s gone through many things I couldn’t console him for, including illness and breakups.  Now he’s very nervous about upcoming exams, and my hugging him and telling him everything will be all right doesn’t clear it.

Younger son is worse at this sort of crisis, because he won’t tell us he’s in trouble, and sometimes he’s not quite sure what is trouble, what things matter and how to fix them, and by the time we figure it out it’s a much bigger mess than it should be.

I think there’s an instinct in humans, particularly in women to “fix everything” for someone else.  We want that magic bullet.  We want to make everything right.  But what actually happens is that when you try to fix someone’s every problem, nine times out of ten, you create another set of problems.

You see, people need to at least know what is a problem, know they need to be got out of them, and need to have some basic skills so they don’t fall into them again.

It’s very easy as a mother to insist on ironing their clothes forever, rather than letting them look like they slept out in the zoo with lions.  But if you keep doing that, they’ll never learn that there is even a problem with going out all rumpled.  Clothes become that weird thing mom obsesses about, and neatness never correlates to how people respond to you.

The same with, for instance, making them eat breakfast in the morning.  If you keep doing it, they’ll never correlate it with how attentive they can be in class during the day, etc.

It’s the hardest thing in the world as a mother.  You have to let them fall on their faces, before they figure out what they’re doing wrong and learn how not to fall.  It’s bad even with friends.  When I was young and stupid, I’d just hand out rent money to friends who were about to be evicted, we’d buy computers for friends who needed to finish a novel, even when it was going to hurt us all month, we treated friends and other relatives as though they were our minor children, in other words.

Even in adults this doesn’t work so well.  You end up with several weird behaviors, the most common of this being the people who come back again and again — we see this with several people who have become addicted to begging on facebook, it seems, and live on the verge of disaster but miraculously always keep going — or what you sacrifice to provide doesn’t get used at all (of three computers we gave people to finish novels, because they needed to sell, only one sold and that was 20 years later) or there is really no perceptible difference in people’s circumstances.

And that’s with private charity.  When you bring in government and the idea you’re entitled to never suffer hardship and never have to sweat towards anything because you were born in a time and place, then you’re really encouraging behaviors that brought people into trouble in the first place.  I think guaranteed minimum income (getting paid for drawing breath) is the sign of a serious pathology (besides never working when it’s been tried, and leading to the infantilization of the population and perpetuation of dependency and ultimately greater poverty for all.)

It’s an understandable impulse.  Few of us like to see people suffer.  But suffering, bit or small, is how humans learn.  If you don’t poke the fire you’ll never know it burns.

The trick with children and with friends, and with strangers at large, is to try to ensure the finger doesn’t go into the fire so hard it burns off the finger, but that it touches the fire enough to feel the burn.

Ultimately, no matter how much you want to protect people, at some point you realize not only you can’t, but it’s immoral for you to do so.  You’re interfering with the choices of adults, and their right to learn from those choices.

I’m not saying you shouldn’t practice charity.  I do.  There are unexpected blows of fate, unexpected expenses, and unexpected disasters, in which those of us who believe in freedom help our friends because we can do it better than any government can.

I’m saying that we need to exert judgement over when how and whom we help.  Even if everyone is crying and just experienced the worst thing ever, it’s important to think through whether this is recurrent, whether it’s a pattern of behavior, whether the person blundered ahead despite many, many warnings. Then you need to figure out whether there is some impairment that prevents people from doing what they need to do to not get in these situations.  If there is, you can’t make it worse by helping, and it’s like helping a child.  Someone has to.

But giving indiscriminately, without thinking and examining all circumstances carefully and keeping in mind “first do no harm” is as bad as never giving at all.

Which is why government is the worst instrument for charity.  And why indiscriminate compassion turns into infantilization and discrimination.

 

Later

Guys, sorry I’ve been flaky lately, but I’ve been having the auto-immune to end all auto-immunes, and I just gained a SMALL respite with benadryl, but it makes me goofy and sleepy.  I’m going to take a nap.  Post later.