There will be a post late

Probably while I’m at the lab, waiting to get blood drawn, or maybe at Dan’s doctor, while waiting for him to be done (yes, it’s that kind of day, and since we haven’t changed doctors yet, it’s in another city.)

Meanwhile, I made an announcement at MGC, which you might be interested in.

And Be A Dog.

When Teacher is Wrong – David Burkhead

When Teacher is Wrong – David Burkhead

I have a daughter.  She’s bright (in her school’s “high ability” program”.  She’s athletic (swim team for a couple of years now).  And she’s utterly adorable. (Don’t challenge me on that.  Just…don’t.)

Unfortunately, she’s in public school and there’s not a lot I can do about that.  As much as I’d love to homeschool, I’ve got to keep working to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table.  And my wife can’t do it because while I bring home the bigger paycheck, it’s at a very small company and my wife’s job does things like provide health insurance. (And with my various problems–I’d say it’s a shame we’ve got to get old, but when you consider the alternative…–we really need that insurance.)

So, she’s in public school.

A couple of years ago she brought back a school report which had an item “The purpose of government is to provide services that individuals can’t pay for.”

What?

So I ask her about it.  She tells me that the example they gave was street cleaning.  Someone has to clean the streets and that’s the purpose of government. (I’ll have a bit to say on this subject somewhat later.)

Again, what?  Yes, to a certain extent that may be a role of government but the role?  Don’t think so.

Obviously, the school and I disagreed on this subject.  This wasn’t a matter of there being an objectively “right” answer but rather presenting something that’s a matter of philosophy and values as though it did have an objective correct answer.

Now, I could have gone into the school and raised a fuss, insist that they teach my philosophy and values on the rest of the class.  Instead, I took the time, generally when driving my daughter to school in the morning, to discuss the issue with her.  I started with the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights,
that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That
to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed

And, so that the purpose of government is to secure our rights and that the basic rights include Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness.

Once she had that, we went on to the Constitution, the three branches of government: Legislature which makes the law, Executive which carries out (executes) the law, and Judicial which tries cases under the law.  We went over the Bill of Rights.

And, so, I made sure that my daughter understood my philosophy of government because that’s my responsibility.

And it’s not just matters of value and philosophy.  The schools, or at least the teachers, have been known to be wrong on matters of fact.  And this is nothing new.  Sometimes it’s outdated information.  For instance, when I was in grade school mountain building was described as being caused as follows:

When it was formed the Earth was much hotter than it is now.  As it cooled it contracted, as cooling things are wont to do.  This caused the crust, the “skin” to wrinkle like a withered apple.  These wrinkles are mountains.

This was at least a decade after plate tectonics had become widely accepted as the cause of such things as mountain building.

Other examples include a fourth grade teacher telling me that all radioactive rocks contain Uranium. (I could see in the book that Uranium was given as an example of something in radioactive rocks, not an exhaustive listing.) And a Sixth grade teacher telling me that the Curies discovered radioactive elements (as in discovering radioactive elements existed rather than the accurate statement that they discovered particular radioactive elements).  And so on.

And sometimes it’s not the teacher.  Sometimes it’s the book.  The encyclopedia I grew up with described stellar evolution thusly:

Stars start as large gas clouds.  They start to contract.  As they contract, they heat. (So far, so good, in an oversimplified way.  But now it goes off the rails) At a certain point they are hot enough to glow as Red Giant stars.  They continue to contract, getting hotter, and proceed through “yellow giant” “white giant” and “blue giant” Eventually contracting to a “blue dwarf”.  Once they reach blue dwarf stage, they gradually start to cool, going back through the spectrum until they reach red dwarf and finally extinguish.

That theory was superseded in the 1920’s.  Yet there it was, presented as Gospel Truth in a respected encyclopedia forty years later and being taught in our schools.

Sometimes the teacher is wrong.  Sometimes the book is wrong.  You, as an individual, have to be ready to question the book, question the teacher, and make sure your children do so as well.

And, now, I’m going to digress a bit on something brought up above simply because I think it’s interesting. I mentioned street cleaning and that I’d have a bit to say on that somewhat later.  Well, it’s somewhat later.

Folk have argued, with some justice, that public good activities such as street cleaning are among the legitimate functions of government.  And, in at least some instances, they make a compelling case.  Michael Z. Williamson in his Libertarian paean Freehold goes into this a bit.  There is a scene involving heavy, road blocking snow.  The libertarian government of Grainne (the eponymous freehold) has no services for things like snow removal.  Thus, it is up to each individual business or property owner to clear the road in front of his own business/property.  And if the guy next door doesn’t do it, well, then it doesn’t get done unless you do it yourself.  The residents of Grainne, almost rabid on the subject of individual liberty, are willing to accept that.  Other folk may not find that an acceptable trade.  One, however, has to be careful with that because Government is Force, including deadly force.  Matters of public sanitation, with the spread of disease and encouragement of vermin, may justify that force.  Other things do not.

Motivation

Writers like me suffer from a very strange impairment.  We tend to trust what our character tells us.  This is possibly a form of insanity, because my characters tend to be the epitome of “unreliable narrators.”

I’ve been struggling with Darkship Revenge since I lost the second half since the move.  I’ve been doing the equivalent of adding a new layer of paint, then removing it all with solvent, then again and again.

This is an unhappy state of affairs and it usually betokens a huge issue in what I HAVE written.  If the months since this summer hadn’t been fraught with moves and cat illnesses, with kids moving out and their own issues, I would have, long since, figured out what the problem was.

The thing is, I’d finished the book once, d*mn it, so it must be finishable.  Also, my outline (why do I do these, they lead me into trouble) showed exactly where the story was going, so why couldn’t I lay it down?

When Speaker to Lab Animals visited he illuminated the mechanism of a biological attack in the book and I thought “That’s it, now I can go on.”

Instead I continued to add layer, then remove, add then remove.

It wasn’t until I isolated myself in a hotel room (yes, there is a reason for this.  If I’m not isolated and forced to think about what is wrong, I tend to find other things to do, like clean bathrooms, groom cats, and other things I convince myself are very urgent.) and forced myself to lay down wordage, that I realized what the knot at the middle of the plot was.

Bear with me, these are not so much spoilers as teases, and heck, the clue is on the cover.

Yes, sure, I know exactly what Athena is supposed to do.  I know what she does in this book.  I can sort of watch her and see that.  BUT the why loses punch from about half way on.  I mean, up till then she’s doing things for her survival and Kit’s.  There is no thought.  But from that point on and when things get rough, she has no reason to stay on Earth.  She and Kit could leave to go to Eden with their daughter, end of story.

Oh, sure, she would be carrying the deadly plague back, but here’s the thing: from the moment they figure out the plague and what caused it, her actions make perfect sense.  Only not even advanced medical establishments can figure something as tricky as what Speaker came up with that easily.  So there are a few weeks in which she could easily just pack up and leave with Kit.  Actually now I think about it, she wouldn’t even risk Eden, because the trip is six months.

So what makes her stay on Earth through some very unpleasant stuff?  I can’t do it simply as “author says so.”  Particularly because I’m not forcing the character in the least.  I know when I am, and what that feels like, and sometimes we all have to do it, at least for minor things.  But you can’t do it for what will hold the plot together for the last half of the book.  And here’s the thing: I’m not.  Staying is the natural thing for her to do. But WHY?  Until I know why I can’t sell it to the readers.  My idea of why someone would do something might be wrong or at least unbelievable to other people.  I have got that mostly about why Kit puts up with Athena in Darkship thieves.  “Why would a sensible man?” But I can believe that, because young men are stupid when they like a woman.  And men of all ages often like the worst possible woman for them.

However, Athena is not a young man, and reckless though she is, there’s not an ounce in her of “selfless service to the needs of others” which is what she does, mostly, in this middle part.  Sure, she’s grown up a lot, and sure, I can smooth some of it by having her think of what would have become of her if Kit’s family hadn’t taken to her and looked after her.  But there has to be more, because until she can be her normal irresponsible self, find a way to leave her daughter secure and go kick butt, she’s going to be pushed into a very uncomfortable and indeed demanding position, which simply isn’t her style.

I went to bed disturbed by this, and slept very badly.  And then this morning, lying in bed taking stock of my various appendages (sure, you don’t do that.  Don’t come crying to me when you wake up minus an arm and don’t realize it till the evening,)  I realized that the problem is I tend to take Athena at face value.  You do, you know.  And Athena is the LEAST emotionally unselfaware person in the world, except me in certain moods. I mean, it took thinking she’d lost Kit to realize she loved him.

I now know why she stays and why she does what she does.  The good news is that I can probably go back and finesse it, without losing the wordage I did this weekend.  The bad news is that it IS finessing.  I need to work it in in such a way that the reader knows why, but Athena doesn’t know why exactly.  Being exasperated with herself is part of her issues in this one.  Hint, she never wanted to be a mother, and feeling maternal is the last thing she expects.

On the other hand, KIT needs to raise this before the second part of the adventure starts.  He needs to say “We have powerpods to deliver.  Why would  we even DO this.”  It needs to stick.  Because it needs to be there for people like me, who must have a reason.

And beyond the writer nattering… How often do we do that, and lie to ourselves about our own motives?  I will confess I didn’t realize how depressed I was leading up to the election, nor why.  I thought I was in one of my episodic downturns, but not that the cause of it was that some part of my brain had decided we couldn’t survive Hillary.

Can we survive Trump?  Who the heck knows?  But there is a chance.  A chance is needed so that I don’t feel like I’m fighting through the darkness without end.

And the indications — admits — that I’m seeing from friends who are politically connected are surprisingly good.  He’s too statist by half, but all of them are, and also, I’ll be honest, I don’t think either the culture or the technology are at the point we can reach the sort of freedom I would like.  We must get there, and avoiding going further down the socialist rabbit hole is all we can do right now.  And that — knocks on head — seems to be sort of working.

You need to stop the car, before you can turn around and wrestle bozo the state from the seat.

I will also confess the reaction from the left makes me very relieved with the results — and makes me realize why I was so depressed before the election — because it shows  they have interiorized politics as revelation, with the certainty that their way is not only right but inevitable.  It’s going to take a few slaps with the cold fish of reality before they realize it’s neither.  It’s going to take a few slaps for them even to THINK about whether the outcome they’re working towards is worth it.

I’ve long suspected the Marxist science fiction writers yeah, and those who are “soft socialists” and internalize the ideas without examining them, know exactly where their preferred model would lead.  Suddenly, the future went from being desirable to something rusty and full of scarcity and poverty, where all wonder and excitement was killed dead with dogma.

They know.  They just thing it’s inevitable, and as such have decided to justify it and push it.  Perhaps they hope they’ll be the last eaten.  And perhaps it’s guilt at how much they have that drives it.  (Yes, even for those of us who were never rich.  I have a post planned for this week about secondary stream wealth.)  Having been sold the finite pie as a model of economics, they’re convinced the best future for everyone outweighs their own comfort, needs and desires.

Of course, since economics doesn’t work that way, what they’re really doing is driving everyone towards a more impoverished, darker world.  And their subconscious tries to throw up flags, which are lost, because they can’t get through the “conscious dogma” that has been pounded into their brains.

So they convince themselves these rusty futures are somehow desirable, and seem determined to write 1984 as a utopia.

Because we’re human.  And humans are broken right down the middle, with our conscious thoughts going “lalalalalalalalala” in the face of what our gut knows.

Which is why I’ve come to the conclusion Trump’s election is a good thing.  Oh, I wish we’d elected a more strict constitutionalist, or a constitutionalist at all.  But just stopping what the left thinks is inevitable enough to make them pause and think is a goal in itself.

Not that they are, of course.  Right now, they’re blaming it all on “we weren’t heard.”  And “we must message better.”  Which means they need a few more smacks on the nose.

And people like them, and me, who live way too much in our heads, need to think a little less about macro movements of society and go back to doing things as much as we can.  Write and create, and build.  Because those too speak a language of their own.  And in the end, it is that language that carries the day.

Humans can convince themselves of the most stupid things and talk loudly about them.  Like Athena, being convinced she never wanted to be a mother or how much she hates being responsible for anyone.

But if the left truly believed the individual doesn’t matter, or that humanity is a blight upon the world — really believed it, at the gut level — they would all have committed mass suicide.

That they haven’t means their guts, their “below the dogma” actions and thoughts are all right.

Take that with you into Thanksgiving dinner, particularly those of you who have family of a more left political persuasion.  Remember that what they say might not be exactly what they think or are, not at gut level.

Meet them there and build upward.  This too is a political fight to the extent that politics is downstream from culture.

Be thankful for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, and convey your happiness and your joy that they too have that.  Then talk of recipes and kids and pets.  They’re not ready yet, but you can reinforce their gut and let their thoughts be quiet a while.

In the end, it is not dogma that wins but works.

Go work.

 

Sunday Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike

*Yes I should give you my opinion on last week’s, and will.  Sorry, we had “stomach flu” the reprise, only lighter, but enough that I couldn’t really function.  Also, yeah, no Sunday book promo.  I’m not sure why, but I figure the Oyster hasn’t been commenting either, so life must have got interesting for him suddenly.  I’m sure he’ll be back.  (Or I’ll have to make different arrangements.)-SAH*


Sunday 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:

somewhere

Rolling in the Deep

I wasn’t going to write a post today.  I have a guest post from David Burkhead, and at any rate, Dan and I ran away halfway through the afternoon, to a hotel room, so we could spend the weekend catching up on writing, because between stomach flu and family, November has been a disaster, I have books WAY overdue, and he’s barely started 9th Euclid’s War.

Of course, because someone (likely several someones) has a voodoo doll of me.  So Dan is having a second bout of stomach flu and while I don’t have it, I have the “funny taste in mouth” that means I’m barely fighting it off.  So this might not be the most successful writing weekend ever.  I already slept close to 12 hours.

Anyway, the problem with the undisclosed location (as we know) is that it has a television on CNN all through breakfast.  And that meant I had to write a blog post.

I’ve got a blog post about it somewhere in the archives.  But it’s not quite the same thing.  Now entire industries are doing this, and it’s amazing.  (Not in a good way.)

Years ago, watching science fiction magazines and newspapers of various sorts come and go, I identified a process I called “roll hard left and die.”

When a magazine or a newspaper or any news or entertainment media was in real trouble, they went hard, hard left, then died.

It took me a little while to realize this was a sane strategy.  In a field completely controlled by the left, when you knew that your job was in peril be it through missmanagement or whatever, your last hope was to go incredibly hard left, so you could blame the failure on ideology.  And instead of not being able to find a job, you found yourself lionized by all the “right” (left) “thinking people.”  New jobs were assured.

I watched this happen four times with a particular magazine editor, who killed sf magazines through publishing things that REALLY weren’t science fiction besides being preachy.  But every time the magazine got in trouble it would go hard left, and when it died the editor was offered another, better job.  (No, I’m not going to pick a public fight by identifying it, because this is a writing weekend.)

Then I started noticing it with newspapers and news magazines, both here and abroad.

It got so bad, I could identify when a magazine was in severe trouble, because it would go from “left leaning” to “To the left of Lenin” in nothing flat.

And then we come to where we’re now.

This morning at breakfast I watched CNN extensively interviewing a guy who wrote an article called “The Chaos inside Donald Trump’s transition.”  Mind you ALL of his reporting is based on unattributed leaks inside Obama’s administration AKA the gang that couldn’t shoot straight.

I told Dan “Remember all the articles about the rough Obama transition?  Or the ones about Clinton, which, according to bios published way later was indeed rough, and some people never submitted clearance paperwork EVER even in his second term?  No? I wonder why?”

I mean this campaign was amazing by the brazen way they supported Hillary.  Part of the reason I decided Donald Trump was the least of two evils is that the press was covering so hard for Hillary that I couldn’t trust her with power of any kind.  In fact, I voted for Trump because of the press’s performance.  I’m not alone, either.  Pollsters are “blaming” his victory on “suburban females who changed their mind the last week.”  (Thereby causing the democrats to manufacture insufficient votes, one presumes.)

Having managed this amazing feat, what is the news doing? Rolling harder left, chasing dust motes and nonsense, making a case out of the president elect going out alone with his family for a family dinner without informing them, and generally going even more in the tank for the left.

I’ve been watching this with mainstream publishers for three years now, and I still don’t believe it.  I’ve watched publishers who were “lean left” become wholly owned subsidiaries of the leftist project, no dissenters need apply to the point they’re now shedding middle-of-the-road writers.  And I’ve thought “How much trouble are they in?”

And now I’m watching this with the news AS A WHOLE.

The problem is that they’re doing what they’ve watched done/learned by example.  It’s not a rational calculus that goes “If I go hard left, I’ll be lionized and have a new job.”  Or maybe it is, but at least part of it is instinct.  They want to go out “a hero.”

Our tech is changing institutions too fast for the good old monkey brain.  If they looked around they’d see their ENTIRE field is in trouble and no one will be left standing to give them a job when their hard roll left causes the total collapse of their employer.

At this point things are changing so fast, they think they’re rolling over to a new job.  But they’re just rolling in the deep.

In the end, we win, they lose.  And part of it is the roll left before dying.  But, until then they’re going to be very annoying.

Now go work, because I’m going to, also.

 

Thresholds

For some reason I remembered this morning the day I turned fourteen.  I was so unholy excited I told EVERYONE.  By everyone, I mean everyone.  The train conductor, the ticket checker at the train station, the waiter at the coffee shop where I had breakfast, and all my classmates and teachers.  It became a joke for my teachers, because I had been telling them about it for DAYS.

In retrospect, I have absolutely no idea why.  I mean, it was a nice birthday.  I had my friends over.  I got several books as gifts, and I think my mom bought me boots.

I suspect it was the perception of a threshold.  Fourteen, for some reason, impressed me as grown up, an age at which I could be courted, an age at which I could move on from the sort of semi-independence of a tween, to the real world.

I think a lot of us — possibly more a lot of me — have that sort of impatience to grow up.  When I was three or four, I remember being upset at wasting time being a kid, when I could be out and doing stuff.  Only I didn’t know how to do the stuff I wanted to do (at that age, mostly travel and “work” which was a nebulous thing, but patently very important) and so I was forced to wait.

Back then people told me to enjoy childhood/tweenhood/adolescence/young adulthood.

Yeah, I know this is normal.  But I never told my kids that, because I’ve found each new stage of life has proven to be more fun, and oh, yeah, I wouldn’t go through my teenage years again for half the time and double the pay.  Each stage of life finds me more competent, and therefore able to DO and engage more with the world.  Which is (isn’t it?) what we’re here for.

Oh, sure, I wouldn’t mind sending my MIND back to my twenties, say, so I had warning of things, like what was ahead for indie, and also so I was more trained than anyone could be at that age.  But barring that, no, I wouldn’t want to relieve it.

The thing about being young is that one is so afraid of so many things, and so many of them stupid.  I spent half of my life terrified of giving offense, of saying something not socially approved, of thinking divergent thoughts.  Half a life is enough to waste on that, and I’m glad to be over it.

I can’t say I’m very excited about my birthday today.  It’s a birthday.  But something brought to mind that long ago birthday, something made me think, some commonality between them.

And I realized, like that long ago birthday, this birthday is a threshold.  I’m standing at the gateway to a life different than what I’ve known for the last years — long enough years to be a lifetime back when humans were more short-lived — and I know it because of the way I’ve had to adapt. Oh, sure, in recent years a lot of the onerous duties of motherhood have gone by the way side.  I no longer think of meal times as ordeals by interruption, where I had to cut up meat, right glasses, etc, and only afterwards could consider eating, unless there was another emergency and there was no time.  (I think it’s where I’ve acquired my very bad habit of grazing.  Why bad?  Because I tend to concentrate on things I can grab and carry.  It’s not as bad now that I am low carb.  A cheesestick is a cheesestick, but I remember when the kids were little, eating a whole bag of marshmallows, because it was on the counter and I could grab one at a time when I walked by.

But there are still things.  In the last few years my main mommy function has been making sure they’re up and ready for college; cooking breakfast so I can foist it on them on their way out the door; washing their clothes if they’re having exams and I see signs of recycling; losing afternoons to them when they want to talk.  That sort of thing.

It’s weird to not have those interruptions.  I keep expecting them and not getting them.

Which brings us to “well the last four to five years have been miserable for writing” and yes, part of it was the hypothyroidism, but the other part is that I do better with a regular schedule, which I lost once the kids went to college.  THAT at least should be better.

And I’m finding a lot of other things that should be better (more as I get new glasses and start driving again.)  I remember my parents going through this.  I know that is going to sound weird, but I was the much younger child, and my presence wasn’t enough to hold the structure of the house.  Also, I was cursed independent, and was usually too busy for them to keep my schedule, or a schedule for me.  Also, I cooked for myself and took care of my own clothes.

So the routine of the house gave way, once my brother married.  And suddenly I discovered my parents were able to do things like “Today we went to the beach.  Make yourself a sandwich.”  Or knocking at my door on a weekend and going “Wanna go visit such and such place?  Come one.”  And I’d go if I didn’t have a test that week.

The way to describe it is that after years of being tied down to child care, they became more flexible.  We too are finding more flexibility.  Not extreme, since Dan still has to work, but things don’t need to be done the way they always were.  And I can either go more froo froo in cooking — because I’m not working around kids’ likes and dislikes — or announce “today is grab it yourself” with a clear conscience.

But more than all of that, I have a feeling that there is more, that I’m about to embark on a life as different from the last 24 years as my life as a teen was from young married life.  How?  I don’t know.  It’s not old age, yet.  That will come, but as my dad said, thank heavens these days the time between 55 and 75 is not old age, but a kind of new maturity.  Yes, you have things that slow you down, but modern medicine is wonderful, and they don’t need to STOP you.  You have to be more careful about your sleep and your exercise, and what you eat, because you’ll pay for it, but you’re not yet noticeably impaired.

This is something our ancestors didn’t have.  It is possible, now, to start a career after the kids and have a full career, for most people.  Which is good.

I loved having the kids, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world, either their childhood or my friendship (unlooked for, but it happened) with the adults they’ve become.

But now I have time to concentrate on the career and to discover other things.  Stand by as I pivot to it, and get rid of my last reflexes of worrying about the kids every hour  of the day.

I have a feeling there are things I don’t even understand yet, which will make these years very rewarding.

I’m crossing the threshold into a new place, a new phase of life.

I wonder what it holds.

California Potheads and the Half-witted Twits – E. Marshall Hoyt

California Potheads and the Half-witted Twits – E. Marshall Hoyt

 

Economics is a complicated beast. More importantly, it’s incredibly hard to measure, understand, or even predict. One little change to how you do business and the effect ripples. A small change in interaction in a large business and everything that business does is effected, and effects other things. Everything that is connected to money- and several things that aren’t- form this massive spider web.

This is why it can be hard to make judgments- come elections- whether some amendments are worth it. You always get the ones where people are thinly trying to sell you on the concept of reform for something admirable like education or public works, asking for just a little bit more money (e.g. higher taxes on everyone), but word it in such a way it’s too open ended a risk. Sure, your amendment says it wants public funding to improve roads, sidewalks, traffic lights, other projects, road repair response and public property gardening. But wait, back up- what the hell does “Other projects” entail, and how much of this money are you planning to use on “Other projects” instead of the actual appealing items? Those amendments are usually an easy “no” on my ballot. But then, there’s genuinely some where the benefits, risks and disadvantages are actually hard to weigh, and come down to personal preference.

There are always ones that are a very obvious “no”, because even an idiot doesn’t have to weigh the benefits to the disadvantages. In Colorado’s case, they put a movement called “Colorado-Care” on the ballot this year. It was indeed as awful a concept as it sounds. “A mere 10% increase in taxes on basically everything from sales to rent, and we can fund a healthcare system even more broken than Obamacare!” was their sales pitch. It was defeated 80-20, and while I’m concerned that 20% of our population thought that was a swell idea, I’m going to assume those people are the idiots from California I’m about to get to.

Because you see, the final items you’ll see on a ballot are ones you would think, very obviously, are terrible economic ideas and this should be clear to everyone. But, a lot of people in California, based on some of the amendments they just passed, suffer from what I like to call “One-step Politics”. This is to say, the concept that any proposed reform, any idea put forth for improvement or any change for the “greater good” is exactly what it says on the package and nothing more. I could do a whole article on how dangerous this belief is, and where it’s more prevalent… but like economics, it’s a whole woven web and it would take a while to explain. For now, I want to cover 3 of the amendments that passed in California, due to this way of thinking:

  1. Proposition 30, to extend tax hikes on the top 3% of California taxpayers, and also increase sales tax a might bit (Originally proposed in 2012 as a “temporary” and passed this year to extend itself another 12 years).
  2. Proposition 56, Tobacco tax, increasing the tax on cigarettes by a massive $2.00 per pack up to $2.87 per pack, but this tax also affects e-cigarettes
  3. Proposition 67, Plastic bags (single-use) are now illegal, although meats and perishables seem to be allowed to use single-use bags, it’s unclear if the company would accrue charges for providing them or if most stores will know they are allowed to do this.

These all, to some extent, seem like great measures. Tax the rich, discourage smoking and protect the environment. Well, okay, none of them seem great to me, but I can see why some people would vote for them. Tax the rich, and there will be more money for the rest of us. Tax tobacco, and it’ will discourage smoking. Ban plastic bags, and we’ll help protect the environment. In one step- they’re exactly that. Helpful measures. So what’s the problem?

Like I mentioned before, everything in society is attached to each other like a web, one little change and it sends a ripple throughout the system, making small and sometimes big changes to how people live their lives. These measures are more than just the “X does Y” that people that voted for them would like to think. They lack the ability to understand that “X affects everything”.

The first measure, Proposition 30, is probably the easiest to cover. There have been several articles as to why taxing the rich is a *terrible* idea, and how it ultimately effects the motivation, income and thus living standards of those bellow them. It’s easy to hate those with more money, and ironically the people I would say are the least deserving due to earning such massive wealth in comparison to the amount of work put in, are movie actors. I’d say California-based actors  are probably feeling the effects of this measure pretty hard, and kind of deserve it. That is of course just my personal bias against actors who, a good portion of which, make an habit of talking about how evil corporations are simply because they have money, before relaxing at home in their backyard swimming pool serviced by their personal butler. Most of them, thanks to modern style, are the literal definition of “People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones”, and lord knows I’ve been tempted to head down to thrown some stones myself. That being said, they did earn their money, and I don’t think it’s right to tax them or anyone else in Cali just for having it. Especially since California is more than just actors, it’s also home to Silicon Valley, and several important tech companies. I guarantee to you there are plenty of people there that earn over 250k, but they also work their asses off, and deserve that money. Also, the bill’s progressive taxation. Punishing you more the more you make, is inane.  To the extent that earning 250k, you’re getting taxed so much you’re literally earning almost the exact same amount of money as you would be if you were earning 240k a year after taxes. That is to say, that getting a $5/hr raise is meaningless. Granted at 250k you’re also earning essentially $125/hr, but of course anyone making that much is doing so because they are doing something that doesn’t really pay hourly. Regardless, it is still a spider web, and while business revenue and personal revenue are different beasts, you’re still hurting the people that run everything where it counts. The people won’t be using their personal money to further the market- they won’t buy as many things, hire as many people for household maintenance, it keeps their money out of the general flow of money, and it doesn’t trickle down. They aren’t buying a new TV, and the TV salesman as a result isn’t getting a commission on a sale, which then means his daughter has less money to spend at the clothing store, so the clothing store makes less money so it uses cheaper materials to offset the costs and well, it all spirals out everywhere. As a result, the income of everyone below them drops just a little bit more.  As a result, more money is wasted by government and less is available to the people.

Worse yet, the measure sneaks in a higher sales tax on everyone, which obviously helps no one. But worst of all, this money is all funneled into K-12 schools and community colleges. Again, sounds great on the tin, but it doesn’t really put any bars on *how* K-12 schools spend the money. I find, having been through the school system before, that educational institutions rarely know how to spend their money the more you give them. In fact a tighter budget actually forces them to be smart, and at my second high school they actually had to put out requests for funding on individual matters. My high school Robotics team found funding through companies, as opposed to asking the school or district for money (In fact the district took 6 years to even recognize the team in any capacity, despite 5 trips to championships by then). However, my first high school, given a bunch of money because it was in the middle of downtown and pretty ghetto, spent several tens of thousands on upgrading the Mac computers in the Mac lab to the newest and most expensive apple computers. All while leaving the rest of the computers in the entire school to be the bulky monitors and Windows 98’ machines. This was in 2010, by the way, where absolutely no part of their spending made any sense when everyone did their work on the PC’s, not the handful of Macs near the art room. But that’s my point. No part of that spending made any sense and I doubt giving California schools several million dollars is going to result in a suddenly more educated future generation. Especially since another amendment in California now allows bi-lingual education, and I can’t begin to give a history lesson on why that’s never turned out well for anyone.  On top of *another* amendment that is giving $9 billion in bonds to K-12 schools, which means an extra $500 million per year that California has to pay, and guess who will be paying for that? (Hint, everyone in California).

But that’s the easy proposition, that’s obviously a bad idea, even if more people voted yes on that than they did to legalize weed. What about Proposition 56? Well, obviously also a boneheaded move. Listen, I don’t smoke. But I get why people do. In fact I totally get it- it’s a way to relax. For some people it’s even more than that. For some people it’s a way to switch vices, move from being a consistent alcohol drinker to simply a smoker. It’s not much healthier in the long run, but being sober is a good trade off for a lot of people. It’s a pleasure device, it’s fun; it’s a way to escape the negative aspects of life. So why on Earth does California think this massive tax on cigs is anything sort of a terrible idea for the general mood of the population?  I’d say, based on the numbers, at least 15% of the population of California smokes, which is roughly 1/7 people. Seems about standard, and while some might quit given the higher cost, others won’t, and will simply be much poorer because of it. A lot poorer. Take into account that people will be more irritable, since likely they’re either struggling or cutting back, and suddenly everyone is getting hit a bit. Some servers are less pleasant, some friends more on edge, people in high stress jobs are more itchy and inefficient. If a 30 minute smoke break it all it took for some people to relax a bit and work efficiently all day, suddenly people forced to buy less don’t work as efficiently, entire companies see a slight downwards trend in productivity. Warehouses end with more arguments and fewer deliveries, the people that normally can keep a level head are getting yelled at by some employee who can barely make ends meet and now has to choose between smoking or eating most nights, so he’s never in a good mood anymore. Some people will probably switch back to drinking, because it might suddenly be a cheaper vice to indulge in. Less is done, more people are unhappy, and even people using harmless e-cigs are being punished, which is the most insulting part of that measure.  But that’s the thing. Little California Suzy thinks this proposition is all fine and dandy and then is confused why her package came in late, and was not handled with much care. Because Suzy, the idiot, didn’t think that the proposition could affect her life in any way.  Suzy, as aforementioned, suffers from “One-step Politics” and doesn’t understand how everything affects each other. The use of this money is, however, at least not too open-ended. It’s all anti-tobacco measures and lung disease research, except for “physician training”, which is mighty vague. And unlike the previous proposition, doesn’t actually give a breakdown as to what percentage of money is going to what (In the previous, 89% is going to K-12, but that doesn’t really allay my concerns much).

But you know what? As much as this is going to effect the average taxpayer, as much as both prior propositions are going to cut more at the lower income citizens, and change the general mood of the populus- it’s Proposition 67 that’s changing how people live their very lives.

The concept is this- Stores will no longer provide single use bags except in very particular cases, boiling down to providing a bag if you have bought meats or perishables, or the item you bought needs protection from the other items in the reusable bag you brought. In all other cases, you either have to buy a “sturdy” reusable bag for 10 cents minimum, or bring your own. All of this being under the guise of environmental protection, and giving the local state government a little less than 1 million in projected income, which I can only assume will be used to enact further environmental regulations down the line. Of course, if you actually care about the environment enough, this sure seems like a great idea, I guess. But if you care about how people live their lives, then it’s not so great.

Let me explain- a lot of the market, and a lot of stores, rely on this concept I like to call “Impulse buying”.  It’s a concept that three kinds of business profit off of the most, as far as I can immediately think of. These are malls, thrift stores, and book stores. You see, we’re humans, and as such we rarely know exactly what we plan on getting when we go somewhere. I certainly end up buying birthday and Christmas gifts last minute, and as such, when I enter a store I don’t actually know what I’m going to get. Thus, I rarely know how much I plan on taking out. When I can rely on having my stuff put in a bag after I purchase items, that’s not a problem. But when I don’t? There are a lot of aspects to this, but simply put: no one is going to carry around a bunch of bags with them. You might, if you are headed to the grocery store and know almost exactly what you’re getting, but otherwise?

Take malls for example. They run off not the concept that you are going there to purchase anything, necessarily, but the concept that you are hanging out there with friends and *might* buy something. The idea that you’re walking around with friends at a mall, see a store, go in, and purchase something on a whim, maybe a T-shirt or a stuffed bear. But as a consumer, you might go to the mall and buy nothing at all. You really don’t have a plan if you’re heading to the mall, most of the time. I’ve gone to the mall several times, and sometimes I walk out with nothing, other times I walk out with cologne and some new workout clothes. But lord knows, if I knew I had to spend the rest of my time hanging out with my friends at the mall while attempting to hold everything I bought, just in my hands… I don’t think I would have bought most of anything I’ve ever gotten at a mall. I might not even buy things at malls at all, except for food.

That’s exactly my point- malls will suffer, because instead of people coming into your clothing store, expecting to buy a new pair of shoes and falling in love with a large bundle of clothing, they stop themselves right before the checkout line and realize they didn’t bring any bags to carry everything with, and they don’t want to carry around a large ball of clothing to their car, so they slowly put everything back. What of thrift stores that rely almost entirely on the concept that people browse, and don’t actually know what they’re going to buy when they come in? It’s a real problem. Book stores, barely on their last legs, live because people like my own mother used to go in, see dozens of books she liked and take out 3 bags full of books to read over the weekend. When you go into a bookstore, you go there intentionally looking for new stories and adventures to get lost in. When you go in, not planning on going in at first, bagless and without a place to put the books? You’ll take out a couple, since you can actually carry those out with you.

This proposition, for all the good it pretends to do, kills the concept of “impulse buying”, and thus also kills the chances that small products have of surviving. Small, barely marketed products thrive on the concept that people will discover their products on the shelves and buy it on a whim. But if a consumer doesn’t have enough bag space? They might just pass it up entirely, and the sales of the product will never hit a level where they can launch a larger marketing campaign, and expand their brand. If small products like that don’t sell well, places won’t even stock them. Those small products, never making headway, will never be sold that much by stores since they just don’t sell. It kills small companies. Certainly souvenir shops won’t sell nearly as many products that can’t fit in the standard tourist’s pocket. I know if I were going to Disneyland, I wouldn’t carry three empty bags with me through all the rides till I was done with the thrills and decided to buy some souvenirs. I’d just buy a fridge magnet after I was done with the roller-coasters and be done with it. I’m not going to sacrifice my enjoyment and comfort just under the assumption I *might* buy something, and I doubt many people will. I mean, I own several belongings I never would have planned on buying, but bought none the less. But if I had to lug them around with me at a mall, amusement park or just on a walk with friends? I don’t think I would own most of what I’ve bought from stores on an “impulse buy”. I’d have more money, sure, but companies would be hurting, sales would be a bit tougher, and distributors would have to deal with mounted complaints on having to buy bags and worse yet spend money on the more expensive “Reusable” bags, and then have to give money to the government every time they sell a bag to someone. It’s an awful measure, that changes how people live and companies work. It hurts innovation and discourages new products.

To be clear, none of these measures are great. In fact they’re terrible. They cut at people’s incomes, they make the populus generally more depressed and less functional, and companies struggle to get by as people just aren’t in a position to buy random products as much. It changes the entire playing field of California, and it does it just enough they won’t even notice till it’s too late, and companies are closing doors while others thrive in a low-competition environment. They won’t notice till everyone else notices they’re a lot poorer, and then the idiots will be asking to tax the rich more, and surely put forth stupider measures.

I’ll also give a shout out to the other silly amendments that passed, including needing a background check to buy ammo, because criminals not only buy their guns legally, but if they don’t they then buy the ammo legally, obviously. They also passed an amendment to make Medi-cal (Nationalized Medicine for California, or at least a way to pay for the federal funding for medicine) more restrictive in how funds are diverted because (surprise!) they’ve been diverting funds from this fee to the general state balance. This measure still costs the state a billion annually, which means California has to continue taxing people to make up for the billion to run the program. Then there’s an amendment on campaign spending and how it should be restricted, basically giving California officials the ability to overturn Citizens United V. Federal Election Commission on a state level. Basically another attack on the idea of companies acting like people, which is a whole other issue, but the amendment is very poorly written, and seems to give favoritism to Unions. The only positive I can give really, other than passing an amendment to legalize weed (Thank God, hopefully all the Californians move back now) , is that the state has to get voter approval before they can issue more than $2 billion in public infrastructure bonds, which would require a tax hike and additional fees. However I can see getting around that very easily, so it’s sort of a meaningless amendment.

All in all, California is strangling itself as much as it can, I assume because it’s into that sort of thing, the sick f*ck. As I see them restrict and regulate more, I can’t help to think- Why do we need them? F*ck it, they’re plastering #Calexit all over the place, I figure- why not? Let them leave the Union. They need us far more than we need them. They’ll find, of course, that without the water we in Colorado are forced to give them right now, that they’ll experience a drought like no other. We could negotiate water rights- but nah, it’s about time they learn how the world works, the hard way. Let them destroy themselves with their own policies, and then we can let that serve as a lesson to everyone else on why literally all these measures are terrible. We’ll take them back, maybe, if they’ve learned their lesson in ten years.

In the meantime, they can put a reusable plastic bag over their head, stick a pipe up their bum, and tax off the top 3% of their head, in the hopes that will somehow make them more intelligent.

We Won’t Wear Pants, Even if You Make Us

I’m not going to claim to be a woman of the people, or part of the working class.  I did grow up among working class people, my grandfathers were carpenters, and I have an unaccountable  enjoyment of working with my hands.

However, my working class neighbors considered me a little daft, running around with a book in my hands all the time.  My mom’s brother who was a plumber cordially disliked me, and at least half of it was thinking I put on airs (I didn’t, but that’s how he perceived it.)

My father worked as a textile engineer, my brother is an engineer, our house was full of books, my best friend came from decayed nobility and her house too was full of books.  My mom was as likely to listen to radio soap operas as to late-night programs on history and mythology.

We were odd, and this was just one of the ways we were odd.

Mom who came from lower class (the distinctions are very fine indeed down there) spent most of her life trying to ape people at least one class above, in dress, in speech, in cooking.  When the facade broke you either got her most endearing moments or her most terrifying, the terrifying being when she was on a tear and spoke in a dialect I only half-understood, but what I understood was horrible.

I never felt I had anything to prove.  Perhaps I had.  In terms of the village, I was a half breed.  But I was also grandma’s granddaughter and frankly, no one would tell grandma that.

I grew up blissfully unaware of the need to “project social superior.” Perhaps it’s just being odd.  Just as I’ll make friends with people of any color, sexual orientation or self-identified gender or otherkin, I made friends with whomever I considered interesting and it was only after the third infestation of lice that mom managed to convince me there were some kids I SHOULD avoid for my own protection and so she didn’t have to shave my head.

When I left the village for middle and high school, I “ran with the strange.”  Being an exchange student didn’t help me understand social class boundaries, and marrying an American and moving here did it even less.  (I think my MIL tried to give me a hint, but she also tried to tell me she knew Latin women were submissive, so you can see how much attention I was paying.)

So I’ve never really cared about social signaling.  Part of my issues living in a tightly knit suburb for a year, while we were fixing the other house for sale, is that I SWEAR women were evaluating my attire and conferring about it behind my back.  They were middle-middle class and very conscious of it.

I’m still myself.  I will walk out in whatever covers all the bits. If it covers all the bits, it’s appropriate attire.  Sometimes I take pains, but only if it’s something important, like a Prometheus ceremony, or a date night or something.  I mean I don’t wear clothes with holes or stains, but mostly I live in Jeans and sweatshirts, and only ever put on makeup if it’s an occasion.

Because I’m me the main standard of making friends with someone is “they’re interesting” so we have friends of every walk of life (most terminally geeky) and we frequent places the good people wouldn’t dream of setting foot on.  When Colfax was still dangerous and the kids were very little, we used to go to Pete’s Kitchen when we could afford a night out in Denver.  (It was perfectly safe, as they gave free dinners to policemen.)  If it was a weekend, it might involve a stay in a very nice hotel (well, Dan got points from business travel) and visits to all the museums or some expensive historical lecture, and visits to Pete’s.  Or we’d go to lakeside where if a bomb fell for non Spanish speakers, my family would be the only ones dead, and P.F. Chang’s (then at the top of our affordability and back then in a rather posh location, with a view of the city.)

My biggest issue during the three years I could afford (and needed) a cleaning lady was that either they were very bad or they became friends, and then they became very bad.

I kind of like not worrying about class or “what class this shows” or whatever. I’m a savage.  I like what I like, and I’ll do what I like.  No television comedian, no arbiter of fashion, no enraged SJW has ever had the slightest effect on my tastes, wishes and habits, save when they piss me off so much I do a gif post, mocking them.

The problem with the leftists we’re confronted with right now, is that they aren’t ideological leftists.  They are fashionable leftists.  They’re “display” leftists, wearing their politics as a badge so we know they’re upper class.

This is an inevitable result of our chattering classes and universities being invaded by the hard left in the long march through the institutions.

Most people don’t care about ideology, and most people will do anything not to think.  That most people who frequent this madhouse do care about principles and like engaging in sport-thinking is a mark of how weird we are.

So if parroting the opinions of the “smart set” (and though the sense of smart has changed, in this case it means both, in popular image) makes them seem smart and upper class, like their college professors and all these celebrities, they’ll be “leftist.”

This attitude has displaced what people used to consider “the one right way to live.”  In the nineteenth and even early twentieth century, people were pious, just like they’re leftist now.  “This is the one way to be that signals we’re good people, and if you’re not of us you have no status, and you’re probably evil.”  When you read Heinlein’s hostility to organized religion, it is that mindset he was pushing against.  As his life spanned two centuries, he might never have fully realized it had changed or that attempts to dethrone religion from that “fashionable” position only wielded another religion, less rational and more militant.

Because this type of leftism is militant.  You prove how great you are by “invading” other areas and preaching to them.  You can’t leave people alone to enjoy anything without virtually signaling all over them.

This is what the push to bring political correctness to science fiction and games is all about. Missionaries, going among the heathens, trying to make us wear THEIR style pants, even though it’s 100 degrees out and our grass skirts are quite comfortable.

Since women are often the arbiters of social respectability (women care more about fitting in with the “smart set”) most of the people going into the lands of the benighted (often male areas) are women who come to preach their way and “change” geeks into something more acceptable.  Since a few of us are geek women, we reject this nonsense most of all.  We like our geek guys just as they are, stop trying to make them mind their manners and parrot your crazycakes leftism, which is more riddled with holes than Swiss Cheese.

I did a post about that dynamic for PJMedia some years ago called “Bad romance” (I couldn’t find it, even with a search) explaining that the leftists were bad girlfriends, trying to change the guy not because they wanted him, but so they could feel the virtue of changing him.  And even though science fiction has always had women, it has had mostly non-virtue-signaling women (or at least fewer of them) so technically we were all the “Geeks” that the bad girlfriends were trying to change.

But the problem is that it’s everywhere.  The federalist has a post about How Jon Stewart And ‘The Daily Show’ Elected Donald Trump.

What it talks about is precisely what we were talking about here, yesterday, in comments.  Comedy is no longer funny, but a way to shout insults at those who don’t agree with you, and only one point of view is allowed.  (And of course they can’t actually be funny or understand the other side, because if you show too much understanding, your side will suspect you of deviationism and punish you.)

And then this morning, younger son told me some news that made my jaw drop in their unself-conscious elitism. Denver becomes first US city to allow pot in bars, restaurants.

I’m going to be the first person to say that if restaurant owners want to allow pot on the premises, good for them.  I’m also going to say I might not be able to go out to eat much at least in Denver, from here on.  You see, I’m deathly allergic to pot.  When we moved here, the previous owners indulged, and we had to have the house hypersanitized because my nose shuts completely and my entire upper respiratory becomes water logged.  That’s fine. I’ve long ago realized the world doesn’t exist for the comfort and convenience of the Sarah.

What got me mad, really mad, was that this comes on the heels of forbidden smoking of tobacco in all those same places by city wide edict.

This made me — back then — a little sad.  Yes, I have hyper-reactive airways, so tobacco-filled restaurants were a problem (not as much as pot) but they also had a certain atmosphere, and most of all, I opposed people telling the owners of restaurants that they couldn’t allow smoking in them, if they wished to.

Which brings us to why tobacco was ostensibly forbidden.  It was forbidden because of “second hand effects” which are scientifically nebulous and hard to pin down, but if they exist at all are not the result of what weed is being burned and smoked, but the result of having small fires all over.  Which is the same thing that happens, in fact, with pot.

In fact, these same restaurants will ban e-cigarrettes, which has no second hand effects.  BUT they will allow pot smoking.

This is my middle finger.

In these liberal privilege circles, pot is a “given good.” It’s cool, because leftists smoked it in the sixties (and also because it makes the younger people incapable of realizing how they’ve been screwed over by those same leftists as they destroyed the economy.)  And it’s so much cooler than tobacco or those lame e cigarettes, which are mostly for tobacco.

THESE ARE MY MIDDLE FINGERS.

I’m sick and tired of bad ideas and pseudo science being pushed on me to justify the fashionably left point of view and behavior.  At least Christian missionaries were genuinely worried about people’s after life.  These pseudo-atheist-leftists are mostly worried we’ll strike an incongruous note in their bistros.

And what they get for their condescension, their irrational pushing, is Donald Trump.  Pray they don’t continue pushing, because they can get much, much worse.  In fact, I’d say most people are on the edge of having a good ol’ “don’t care” snap moment.

You know that moment in A Canticle for Leibowitz when the crowd yells “Yeah, we’re simple, and we shall have  a great simplification” and then starts killing all the “intellectuals” down to everyone who can read.

That is what I’m scared of because it will take also those of us who like books for the story sake and every who, at night, in the dark, can be confused for them.

Our only choice, our only hope, is to scream back at our sanctimonious, ignorant overlords “We won’t wear pants, even if you make us.” and to hoist aloft a matched set of middle fingers as often as possible, metaphorically speaking.

These people need their nose rubbed in the fact that their religion isn’t universal, and we don’t care if they call us names.  We’ll take their names, own them, and spit them back at them.

We have to do this to save Western civilization.  But knowing this lot, we’ll probably enjoy it too.

We’re worse than deplorable.  You can’t make us over in your image.

And we’re all that stands between you and torches and pitchforks.

The Finger of Blame

I never thought I’d say this, but I’m getting really tired of the crazy.

I mean, look, I’m aware that none of my characters is exactly sane.  I am aware that none of my worlds is exactly rational.  That’s because reality isn’t.

But when my countrymen take a plunge into crazyville, I start getting worried.  Oh, no, I’m not worried the country will be set on fire.  Also, I’m not worried that — in compliance with the dictates of some Hollywood celebrities — there will be a revolution.  Let’s face it, if Hollywood celebrities succeed in getting some kind of action it will be twitter action, and #revolutionnow is about as far as it will go, which will have as much effect as #bringbackourgirls, and count for exactly nothing.

No, I’m worried about our international image and also, to be honest about our more ignorant, backwards, incapable of thought co-citizens — in other words, those indoctrinated in the most prestigious universities in the country — because both foreigners and glitteratti seem to be blissfully unaware of a) reality b) that they’ve been spun and c) about the SIZE of our magnificent beast of a country.

And both of them might be led by the displays of… idiocy to believe that we’re weak and it’s a great time to attack.  In both cases they’ll end up hurt.  And I’m afraid of what that will do to the rest of us, too.  I mean it’s not just that we might pull something from laughing so hard.  It’s also that foreigners, specially if they attack by stealth or terrorism, will get casualties.  And the innocent and misguided among us might unleash that same backlash they’re convinced is coming and which, as far as I can tell, there is no chance of as of right now.  OTOH if they do something sufficiently heinous to unleash it, our society will never be the same.

So, I’m here to offer some perspective:

1- our country is fricking enormous.  NO ONE in Europe gets just how big, and neither does, apparently, our coastal elite.

Yeah, sure, some people have been called “racist” names, and there have been “racist” spray paint incidents…

This is me, rolling my eyes so hard that the cats are chasing them through the floor.

Holy insanity, batman.  Is it not written “The assholes, you shall always have with you?”  I can tell you there have always been “racist” incidents somewhere in this great country.  Because, yeah, not all of our co-citizens or even the marvelously diverse foreigners living among us, legally or not, are angels of virtue.  In fact, few are.

There have always been assholes shouting things at people who look different, and depending on the neighborhood, trust me, the “different” can be any color of the rainbow, up to and including blond.

Being, depending on what I’ve dyed my hair that month and how straight it is, a sort of racial chameleon, I have been called every racial thing in the book over the last 30 years.  I was also once called a sodomite and followed two blocks by a crazy preacher ranting at us, while walking in snow with my friend Charles.  (I’m going to assume it was because, its being friggen cold, I was wearing an irish cap and a shapeless leather coat.  It was however an amazing experience.  I guess I seemed effeminate… I wonder why.  Anyway, this was 24 years ago.)

Mostly it’s bravado and stupidity.  Ninety nine percent of assholes just want to feel powerful by screaming at people they think will take it.  If they take it further, this is why we have a second amendment.  Curiously, according to our constitution you have the right of self-defense, regardless of skin color, national origin or whomever you like to sleep with.

And the level of crazy and asshole is, as far as I can tell, the same as it’s always been.  There are three hundred million of us, guys.  A few hundred name calling incidents, or spray painted nonsense?  Background noise.

Sane people stay out of crazy neighborhoods, shrug their shoulders at the fricking crazy, and are ready to defend themselves when things go pear shaped.  Now, same as it’s always been, world without end.

And for the idiots following along abroad: yeah, we’re always this crazy, this is nothing new. And crazy as we are, we can whup your butt with both our hands and most our missiles tied behind our back by insane ROEs.  Also, at our crazier, our incidence of “asshole” is far lower than yours.  No, seriously, you can present a good face to those who don’t read your native language papers, or listen in on conversations in your countries.  Here we call those people “naive.”  But when it comes to “racist, sexist, homophobic” the only difference is that our press portrays us as badly as possibly, while yours tries to present your best face to the world.  From all I’ve seen, you’re worse than all but our very craziest enclaves, so shut up and stop convincing our crazies you’re all that.  You keep that up, we’ll ship them to you.

2- No, this is not all Trump’s fault.  Yes, some of the craziness, mostly in the Republican primaries, where he did things like accuse Cruz’s father of time-traveling-presidential-assassination sort of pervaded the campaign season with teh crazy cakes and brought teh insane out of the woodwork.

But the insane has always been in the woodwork, and in time of neurotic fears, they come to the fore.  So, the fault is more of the campaign itself than of Trump.

He has done his best to try to calm those fears, but since the other side is whipping them to a frenzy (mostly because that’s all they got.  What else but terror could cause anyone to vote for a proven corrupt incompetent like Hillary Clinton?) he really can’t do much.

And when people are cataloguing every incident of assholery and ascribing it to him, one wishes to know if they ascribed to Obama — who btw did fan the flames with stuff like “if I had a son” and “police acting stupidly” — “polar bear hunting” and the racial riots in various large cities during his presidency.

If they didn’t, then I really don’t want to hear it about Trump.

3- I don’t want to hear it about Trump.  No, seriously, I don’t want to hear it about Trump.  I neither worship him nor loathe him, and am giving him enough space to shows what he will do, an event that’s still two months away.  So far his preliminary moves are what I’d expect of a New York Liberal semi-mugged by reality.

His talks, his appointments, all boil down to “socially tolerant/economically conservative” and if that is how he intends to govern, I’ll be okay with it.  As okay as I ever am with ANYONE in power.

And for the love of heaven, stop jumping when the media says “frog.” Wasn’t their bias on display through the campaign.  Even if they report that he said he’s going to fry all gays in oil, or get top security clearances for his numerous progeny, give it twenty four hours.  Both of those have pretty much been disproven in less than that.

Right or left, we’ll have plenty to complain about him.  No, seriously.  Washington has so much power, and he’s so far from a constitutionalist, we’ll have plenty to complain.  But particularly if you’re on the right/liberty side, CHECK THE FRICKING PRIMARY SOURCES BEFORE JUMPING.  The mainstream media is not only not your friend, it is your sworn enemy, and I’d think you’d have learned that through the campaign.

4- If you’re tempted to join the protests, or if you’re abroad watching our protests and wondering if the whole country is about to erupt…  Rolls eyes.

Like most of the leftist “movements” there are good indications this is astroturf.  Just like Occupy Wall Street, these people are given tons of press, here and abroad, but they are a tiny minority, in mostly extremely liberal cities (where it’s easiest to recruit them.)

Also, there is credible information about their being hired hands, recruited through Craigslist.  This is all the more credible since a ton of the OWS was.

So if you’re going to join in, I have two things to recommend:

a) Think of what you expect to get.  I mean in terms of reaction.  You should by now be aware that you are a minority.  Maybe not a “tiny minority” but a minority.  So, let’s suppose you manage to abolish our restraints against majority tyranny.  Tell me what you expect to happen.  Use words, employ logic.  If what you come up with is not “I will never have a say in our governance again” you must come from a world in which the sky is green cheese.

b) make sure you get union rates, because half the people around you are getting them.

5- Look, whether we want it or not — and us, the libertarians, have mixed feelings, as we do in any tense situation, since we tend to be odd man/woman/dragon out — what this election has proven is that the left can’t enforce COMPLIANCE.  They can enforce SILENCE.  But silence, when the price of speaking is real danger to your job, your standing in the world and your character, only means most people are hating them in silence, and will strike at the first opportunity.

I’m very worried that their reaction to this is more shouting “shut up”.  They’ve learned nothing and forgotten nothing, and if this keeps up, they’ll court backlash.  OTOH they are, right now, mostly venting, and I say we give them some space, until they can stop screaming and start thinking.

And to the right too, take a deep breath and give it some space. Yes, I know what the last week has been like.  It’s been a week of years, and everyone is emotionally tired and caught between laughter and rage, and still very worried about the creature that is now the president elect.

We’re mostly relieved we didn’t elect the one the media dotes on.  BUT we have to remember the media doesn’t dote on him.  And so, they’ll try to whip up the panic and the trouble.

Ignore them.  Someone quoted the Arab proverb “the dogs bark, but the caravan passes.”  Keep that in mind, even when the dogs are little insane chihuahuas who will not SHUT UP.  It’s all noise and fury signifying nothing.

Go back to your places or work and your places of leisure, live normally. Even political nuts, like us, need a time off now and then. Enjoy a slight respite from being on the edge of seat.  Adrenaline is invigorating.  And deadly.  Take a deep breath. Our worries start again, soon enough.  For now, read a book, write a book, have a party, have some time with those you love.

Soon and very soon there will be real reasons for worry, and an economic crisis, and unless I’m very mistaken, (pray G-d I’m mistaken, please) a world war.

Enjoy the summer respite before winter comes.

And be not afraid.

 

Late Monday

So, derpfish really is dying this time, though he’s putting up a hellofafight.  I am sure any less stubborn fish would already have died as the growth around his head is now bigger than his head.  Doesn’t seem to be fungus, or at least no fungus cure works, or ick or velvet or anything else vaguely listed in any books.  I’ve found before the problem with small “cheap” pets is that even “simple” diseases can take them, as there’s no real vet knowledge.  The advice seems to be “flush him and move on.”  BUT despite myself, to me the dang fish is a person.  I mean, I thought he’d be more like a plant, and I never thought he’d live three years either since I bought him at petco, which has a bad reputation for fish.  So he’s dying by inches and I’ve tried everything, leading Robert to nickname him “Derpy, the perpetually medicated.” Now I don’t think he can eat with that thing on his head, though he tries.  OTOH he’s still… ah eliminating, so he’s eating something.

When he’s gone, I’ll stick with dogs and cats and things that people know how to treat.

In the meantime, he’s caused me to be … not afraid, but reluctant to come to my office, since it’s inevitable I’ll find him doing the backstroke fairly soon.  Which is playing havoc with my writing and even blogging.  (Neurotic, me?  Don’t be ridiculous.)

Look,guys the sad confession is that I get attached to the strangest things.  When I was little the family quickly found they couldn’t give me animal shaped treats, crackers or even chocolate, because I invented complete lives and familial relationships for them, and refused to eat them.  I remember the chocolate lady bugs my brother ate because “it’s a sin to waste good chocolate” and I cried for days.

Maybe it’s related to the ability to care for people who exist only in my mind, who knows?

Anyway, so much for my absence.  This last week we lost Leonard Cohen.  Yes, I was a big fan, starting with his old songs that RES calls, not inappropriately, “the ones with interchangeable girls providing backup.”  I wanted to write a whole post about him but I find I can’t.  My family doesn’t GET my Leonard Cohen “thing” and all I can say that to me particularly as he got older, his voice and the interlocking meanings of the lyrics take me to some mystical place where the gateway for writing works best.

I associate some of his songs with some of my books, or scenes in my books.  This one for instance, has a strong connection with A Few Good Men:

And some of them I associate with certain times of my life.  I loved this one as a teen:

 

Anyway, I hope he’s gone home beyond the veil, where it’s better than before, and that I still get to meet him someday.  Yeah, I know, artists, and none of us live lives that can be considered meriting of an after life much less a happy one.  But I trust that the Author who creates us understands we did our best.  And I’ll stick with Heinlein who said something like it’s possible that there is no afterlife for some or even most people, but to completely extinguish some entities would be a violation of every principle the world runs on.  At any rate, Cohen’s sense of mysticism often echoed of a near-courtship of what we’ll call for lack of a better word G-d.  I hope he now sees clearly what he tried to glimpse through the inadequate human mind and fix in inadequate human language.  And I hope he finds happiness, because for ardent souls peace might not be enough.

And now, for the election, now almost a week in the past.  Does everyone feel like they’ve been living through a week of years?

I don’t need to communicate I’m still happy we don’t have Clinton.  The epicenter, the storm of media covering for her, of our cultural institutions idolizing her, and of her very corrupt character, all of that made her uniquely dangerous, and I’m glad she’s gone.

What we have? Does anyone know yet?  I’ve been hearing rumors through my channels (is it normal at my age to know any number of movers and shakers, even if they’re not the ones the public easily identifies?) that have me guardedly optimistic, the emphasis being on guardedly.  BUT oh, h*ll, it’s so much better than I expected to be at this point.

Of course if the rumors I hear are true, the man IS fundamentally dishonest and some factions of his supporters will be greatly disappointed.  BUT his dishonesty would be in the service of a greater honesty.  Bad for souls, speaking of those, but I think sometimes the very craft of politics depends on people like that.  Which is why I couldn’t do it, being, as my mom used to say “of the kind who’d rather break than bend.”

And it’s still possible, perhaps likely, that it will all go sideways.  But that is nothing new for us, the lovers of liberty.  In a way government is antithetical to liberty, and though we need it, it’s a constant fight to keep it from devouring them.  In the end, I voted for the candidate less likely to put an end to my inflexibility with a bullet to the back of the head.  Not the one who will FOR SURE not do it, but the least likely.  It is, possibly, what I do — what everyone does — every election.  We should be grateful in America it is less likely than in any other part of the world.  (Which makes the histrionics of the paid protesters all the crazier, and the fear they instill in the innocent more fury-inducing.)

What I do know is that one cannot put faith in princes, and that what made Hillary uniquely dangerous at this juncture is still a problem and still waiting remedy.  If we don’t walk this back, not matter how little, the next statist candidate that the media adores (which in the US means socialist with a D after his name) will destroy us as surely as Hillary would have.

So, the culture is still there waiting to be taken.  Pick up your kit and follow me, into the trenches.  The advantages of a culture war is that even those of us who are old and ill can fight, and even those who don’t create can provide perspective, review and dissemination.  Onward.  Even if all we conquer is an inch of no man’s land, we’ll have moved the dial far more than we can guess at, and left our weapons for the next wave to pick up.

For my own field, for slingers of words and creators of characters, for those who labor in the world mines and build entire feelings on nothing, for those who love humans with all their flaws, and want to see them have a future, come on.  We’re marching on. Human Wave, oh! Be not afraid.

Just remember nothing worth doing is easy, simple or fast.  Be patient and work.

I will be looking over your efforts from yesterday sometime today.  Right now I’m going to replace some more of my blood with caffeine, take ibuprofen for the unbelievably bad sinus headache, and then lay down words, because I’m very late.