Morning Came Too Early

It’s way too early. I’m way too tired. We had to do something late last night and I’ve slept all of five hours.  I not only couldn’t cue the post, I’ve been trying not to fall asleep again, while sitting here trying to think what to do.

And it occurs to me I have duties.  I’m in this bundle at Story Bundle, you see. And it’s a pretty good buy.

It ends tomorrow, so now is the time to check it out.
And I’m going back to bed.

Screenshot_2019-10-09 StoryBundle

The Vampires! Bundle, curated by bestselling author Kevin J. Anderson:

Now here’s a bunch of books you can sink your teeth into! The Vampires! StoryBundle abounds with the blood-sucking best! Thirteen page-turners across the spectrum of vampire fiction, and all of them with fangs!

If you like Vampire Suspense or Mystery, you’ll enjoy Brother Blood and Sister Death by Bill Ransom. Human-vampire fraternal twins with dangerous sibling issues run from near-fatal mistakes in the city to sequester themselves outside a rural fishing town. This is a special sneak-preview release for this bundle, not available elsewhere until December! And Running from the Night by Ramón Terrell. An action-packed ride filled with diverse and fun characters, immortal societies existing alongside our own, with a pinch of romantic tension. In You Suck by David Wood, Dunn Kelly seldom has a problem covering for his alcoholic father, the only Special Populations detective on the police force, but when teen pop star Delilah Idaho sees a wrinkle on her forehead, Dunn’s world is turned upside-down.

Read more about the TEN other books in the bundle here, and make sure to click on each cover for a synopsis, reviews and preview of each book!

 

Brahmandarins-Guest post by Nitay Arbel

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Brahmandarins-Guest post by Nitay Arbel

In the wake of the 2016 elections, I coined the term “Brahmandarins” for the transnational ruling class. https://spinstrangenesscharm.wordpress.com/2016/12/17/trump-and-the-rage-of-the-brahmandarins/

Three years later, it is quite evident that the election of the populist Trump over the Brahmandarin Hillary was not an isolated phenomenon. In nations around the world, from Brazil to Britain, either populist revolts are threatening the stability of Brahmandarin regimes, or voters have put populists (real or perceived) in office.

But who are these “Brahmandarins” really? And why this portmanteau of “Brahmin” and “Mandarin”?

Traditional Hindu society knew hundreds of hereditary castes and subcastes, but all broadly fit into four major “varna” (“colors”, strata):

  • Brahmins (scholars, clerisy)
  • Kshatriya (warriors, rulers)
  • Vaishya (traders, skilled artisans)
  • Shudras (farmers)
  • The un-counted fifth varna are the Dalit (“untouchables”, outcasts in both senses of the word)

Historical edge cases aside, membership in the Brahmin stratum was hereditary, even more so than in the nobility of feudal Europe. At least there, kings might raise a commoner to a knighthood or even the peerage for merit or political expedience: one need not wait for reincarnation into a higher caste.

The Sui dynasty in China, however, took a different route. Seeking both to curb the power of the hereditary nobles and to broaden the available talent pool for administrators, they instituted a system of civil service examinations. With interruptions (e.g. under the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan) and modifications, that system remained in place for thirteen centuries until finally abolished in 1904. Westerners refer to laureates of the Imperial Examinations (from the entry-level shengyuan to the top-level jinshi) by the collective term Mandarins. Ironically, this term comes not from any Chinese dialect but (via Malay and Portuguese) from the Sanskrit word mantri (counselor, minister) — cf. the Latin mandatum (command) and its English cognate “mandate”.

Initially, the exams were limited to the scholar and yeoman farmer classes: with time, they were at least in theory opened up to all commoners in the “four occupations” (scholars, farmers, artisans, merchants), with jianmin (those in “base occupations”) still excluded. The process also was ostensibly fair: exams were written, administered at purpose-built examination halls with individual three-walled examination cubicles to eliminate cribbing. Moreover, exam copies were identified by number rather than by name. For some fascinating background, see

https://www.quora.com/Could-Chinese-commoners-take-the-imperial-exam

as well as this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DH5486n9lfs

In practice, the years of study and the costs of hiring tutors for the exam limited this career path to the wealthy. Furthermore, the success rate was very low (between 0.03% and 1%, depending on the source) so one had better have a fallback trade or independent wealth. In some cases, rich families who for some reason were barred from the exams would sponsor a bright student from a poor family. Once the student became a government official, he would owe favors to the sponsor.

Moreover, the subject matter of the exam soon became ossified and tested more for conformity of thought, and ability to memorize text and compose poetry in approved forms, than for any skill actually relevant to practical governance. (Hmm, artists or scholars in a narrow abstruse discipline being touted as authorities on economic or foreign policy: verily, there is nothing new under the sun.)

What do we have today, in the 21st century?

In theory, our elite is meritocratic: the “best and the brightest”, leading graduates from the most selective universities. France’s civil service perhaps comes closest to an idealized version of the Mandarinate, as I’ve discussed here. https://spinstrangenesscharm.wordpress.com/2018/02/08/the-memo-and-what-it-implies/

The French themselves, of course, joke about living in an “ENArchy”, a pun on the ENA (Ecole Nationale d’Administration, idiomatically: National Administration Academy) of which so many senior bureaucrats are graduates. Unlike in Imperial China, one can be the son of a street sweeper or a shopkeeper and make it through the ENA on talent and eyebrow sweat. In practice, the ENA has become a by-word for an insular elite, concerned only with its own peer group and out of touch with broader society. Significantly, one of the bones Emmanuel Macron threw the Yellow Jackets protesters was a promise to close the ENA — his own alma mater…. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-48059063

If one visits Europe nowadays and talks to an average middle-class person, there is a broad sense that the ruling class:

  • has lost the plot
  • is focusing on trivial issues to avoid having to deal with “elephants in the room” and to distract the public from them
  • is manufacturing crises while ignoring real ones
  • is focused only on the interests and sensibilities of people like themselves, and treats others like “sheeple”. “We are beinglived”, as the proverbial cab driver told me in Brussels.

Fair or not, politics is a game of perception. It may (sadly) be true that many people are willing to sell their birthrights for a mess of pottage (the way the biblical Esau did). These deals start coming apart, however, when the ruled perceive the ruling class as no longer in touch with events, and no longer able to hold up their end of the bargain. The notion of a “social contract” between ruler and subjects, and of the contract being abrogated when rulers are no longer holding up their end of the bargain, is made explicit in the Dutch 1581 “Plakkaat van Verlatinghe” of 1581.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Act_of_Abjuration

In this Act of Abjuration (as the name is usually rendered) against the Spanish emperor Philip II, the Dutch lay out their grievances against the Spanish emperor, their attempts to seek redress, and their final decision to declare their independence. (Sounds familiar? No coincidence. https://news.wisc.edu/was-declaration-of-independence-inspired-by-dutch/ )

The Dutch language knows the priceless verb “doodzwijgen”, literally “kill something by keeping silent about it”. This has been a favorite tactic of European Brahmandarins for a long time— the near-media silence on the continuing Yellow Jackets protests is only the most recent example.

Manufactured hysteria about one or more distraction issues is another tactic — one that resembles flares fired by a fighter plane under attack by heat-seeking missiles. The US mainstream media, egging each other on in feedback loops, merely keep amping that technique up not just to 11, but to full potato and beyond.

Fortunately, in the internet age, the train of full media control has left the station. May it never return there.

*Nitay Arbel is (a friend and) an author, working on an alternate WWII:

Operation Flash, Episode 1: Knight’s Gambit Accepted

 

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On March 21, 1943, one man came within a hairbreadth of blowing up nearly the entire Nazi leadership.
In timeline DE1943RG, he succeeded.
Then the conspirators discovered that killing Hitler and his chief henchmen was the *easy* part.*

 

Rough Music

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Pratchett’s “Witches” world was so similar to my own, from jumping over fires to get married (not legal in my day, but there was memory of it) to various local folk superstitions, that it was always a surprise when he pulled something I’d never heard of.

One of these is the “rough music.”

When someone has done just about enough that a small village can no longer put up with him, the men in the village get together and play a barbarous and terrible music as they nerve themselves up for the barbarous and terrible things they have to do.

In Europe — hell, all over the rest of the world —  the rough music is playing.  Just because no one is reporting on this, it doesn’t mean it’s not going on, and growing, and nerving itself up to… something.

The level at which the Gilets Jaunes have been under reported is extraordinary, except that it hasn’t stopped the uprising either.

(And now I think about it, how much do we see in main stream news about Hong Kong? And it hasn’t stopped the uprising either.)

To those of you who haven’t been to Europe recently (as locals, not tourists) and don’t have family there, there are things to remember:

1- Europe is weird in terms of blogs and alternate news media.  They might read ours — some do — but blogs never really took off in Europe as a source of news.  Even here, we’re at most 50%.  Maybe a little more if you count that news filter in.  People talk at the water cooler, whatever.  More on this later.  BUT in Europe this doesn’t exist.  Mostly the news they get including the news from here are third hand via our media and whatever crazy alien clown they’re getting their spin from.

2- Europe is about 20 years “ahead” of us on the road of what a friend of mine calls the Brahamandarins taking over.  The internationalist left has been in full command since the nineties. They never had a Reagan (Thatcher sort of kind of held off the tide briefly, but only in one country.)  There was no eighties prosperity. Hell, slick Willie was to the right of their right. Obama is about center of their politicians, including his loathing for the country he governed.

3- Europe is in trouble BAD.  The government has betrayed the people to the extent of making it almost impossible for rural populations to live with any dignity; for people to afford having families; for people to be safe in their lives, pursuits and possessions.  No, I mean to a level you guys don’t comprehend.  Imagine if the Obama years had lasted for 30 years now, and he controlled all the media, all the judges and most of the law enforcement.

And Europe has had just about enough.  Things like Brexit and the Yellow Jackets filter through here, in the alternate news sources.  I wonder how much else is going on, we have not a clue about.  The fact we know about the Yellow Jackets at any level is bizarre enough, given that they are — media and internet wise — living in the eighties.

So, let’s talk about the rough music.  Sure, you can hear it. I can hear it too. The stomp and the drumming can be heard all over the world.

That which can’t go on, won’t.

But I implore you to stop and think: if the rough music plays, what comes after?

There might be no hope for Europe, but Europe’s… ah…. how do we put this? Europe’s tenets, their stand before the world, an improvement as they were on everything before them, are not ours.

Even in Europe I suspect when this bursts — and there it will burst.  The elites flaying and screaming is only making it worse — you’re going to see things that will make you wonder why on Earth good American boys died in WWII.  Because we’re about to get National Socialism, the sequel.  National because they’re getting tired of the international elites (and who isn’t) and socialism because the poor bastards have not experienced anything else their entire adult lives.

It will happen. It is necessary. The EU was probably one of the most bizarre ideas in the history of bad ideas. The way it’s run which essentially steals the franchise from ordinary people was just the old style “good families” coming back into power through a back door.

But what comes after will probably be horrific. If we’re all lucky it will also be briefish and like France after the revolution they’ll find their way to something slightly less insane.  With or without Napoleon and Europe wide war?  Ah… that’s where we need to talk.

First however, let me say that hearing the rough music from the rest of the world is starting to echo here.  We see what’s going on there. And we hear strange and stupid stuff, like the “whistleblower of the day” and an impeachment without voting and of course, pancake-gate.

Faced with that kind of behavior you obviously think “It’s insane.” And “We have to stop it.”

But there is something you’re missing.  There’s the good news.

The first good news, of course, is that Trump won in 2016.  it was bloody impossible. The fraud was unbelievable. But he still won.

And in the midterms — yes, they won the house, but think about it — the fraud was UNBELIEVABLE. Literally. Banana republics were laughing at our random keeping of polling stations open, of weird shenanigans with votes down in FL and of whatever the heck the chick in Georgia thought she was doing.  And they won… the house.  And not with a rushing majority.

Do you know why they’re going insane?  Because they hear the rough music too. And they know that they probably can’t cheat enough to win in November 2020 or even keep the house. And they’re desperate.  And none of their increasingly crazier gambits are sticking.

For years, they were a gerbil kept in the controlled environment of left information-complex. They could pull the right lever, and things went their way.

Arguably the last time this worked for them was making an infelicitous but in no way bad phrasing of Romney’s into a threat on women. “Women in binders.”  Of course he meant women resumes were in binders, and he was signaling that he hired women but they made this sound like he somehow wanted to put women in binders. And crazy leftists all over were repeating this, as if it even meant something.

They threw everything in, they burned all their credit to get Obama elected.  If they could they’d have made him the new FDR/JFK/Hero president of the left forever.  They couldn’t.  They couldn’t make Summer of Recovery fly. They couldn’t even make Michelle Obama fly as a fashion icon.  (Arguably, she didn’t help them.)  They burned everything they had. They pressed that button to deliver their progressive pellet and nothing happened.

And then they got everything and everyone, including probably controlling who the right chose, so that Hillary would have “her turn.”

… and it didn’t work.

But worse, the things they keep trying to do keep not working, including the “we’re really going into a recession NOoooooow”

Worse, traps they lay for Trump ensnare their own guys.  See #metoo.

Yes, the left hears the rough music playing.  But the rough music they hear, right now, is coming from ballot boxes.

Understand, everything they’ve done to us so far can be undone.  Part of their madness is how much of Obama’s “legacy” Trump has quietly dismantled while they chase crazy stuff like the totally bizarre impeachment.

Worse, they’re being unmasked, repeatedly, in public.  Look, guys, I’d been hearing about the Lolita express and Clinton since the early 2000s on the blogs. I didn’t even believe it. It was too fantastic. How would he keep that quiet.  And then it exploded.  And then Jeffrey Epstein died in a way no one in America really believes was “unforced suicide.”

And yes, there’s a feeling there’s a sluice of sewage down there, and it’s splashing most of the left.  They’re keeping it quiet, sort of, but people know.  You can’t unknow this stuff. And this was something that five years ago most people would have thought you were crazy for bringing up.

Then there’s Ukraine.  I don’t know what they thought they were playing at. But what it keeps exposing is massive corruption in a widening circle, and Chinese influence too.

So– They hear the rough music at the ballot box.

Anyone else wonder why it’s starting this early?  Why because they fear NEXT YEAR’s October surprise and are trying to defang it now.  How bad can it be, to start a year ahead.

And you can see how worried they are by how social media has been trying to censor things (though interestingly, this last month has been less weird, perhaps because there are inquiries being made.)  And by their sudden and bizarre sallies against… FREE SPEECH.  Yep. They’re actually coming out, publicly, against the first amendment.  yes, we know they’ve always controlled speech in their enclaves. But it’s not working. And now all they can do is scream “But I want you to shut up” and “Mr. Policeman, make them shut up.”  This is not a position of CONFIDENCE.

In the same way, they’ve been flapping jaws about a living constitution since I was an exchange student. This is the first time they’re coming out as being AGAINST the Constitution. (Admittedly, Obama started it.)

No, this isn’t good. It makes everything feel very unstable.  And it makes people on our side scream “Get them, before they get us.”

But the best thing we can compare this to is the lancing of a boil.  It looked prettier and healthier while the pus was under the skin.  But it would have killed us.

It would have come to the point where there was nothing else we could do but don yellow vests, and take to the streets.

Fortunately things happened.  Okay, mostly the internet, which they keep thinking they can control, but which keeps blowing up on them.

It’s to cry — with laughter — a hundred years of marching to the institutions, and the AV geeks are beating them.  It’s like the USSR being brought up by copiers and typewriters.

And it’s something to remember.

Totalitarianism cannot endure, not long term, with widespread peer to peer communication and the ability to communicate freely and for free across the country and across the world.

China, you say? Yeah, Hong Kong might still end badly. But that it’s lasted this long, in open defiance? It is a sign.  And it is not a sign the despots are winning.

Will we have to do it? Will it come to it?

I hope and pray it won’t. I’ve said before “be careful, be prepared.”  I’m hoping it won’t come here.  We do after all have the internet. And Trump. And if you think that makes no difference, you haven’t been awake the last two years and change. They have yellow jackets. We have a Trump. (And does his name not make you wonder if G-d is a novelist?)

The rough music might come here.  I can envision stuff like really, really obviously faked-up elections that we can’t even begin to pretend we don’t see, and trying to cram someone like Lizzy Warpaint or Kamel the Harris down our throats.  Or worse. I can imagine our government actually physically divided, with the House attempting to outright arrest the president solely on their say so.

Any of these things will send up the balloon.  And look, dollar stores have yellow jackets. It’s not a bad idea to stock up.

But Trump has a way of coming up with twists no one saw, twists that avoid the worst possible things…  And I’m hoping he keeps doing that.

Because guys, if the rough music comes here, it’s going to be ugly, and it’s going to burn short but hot.  And there’s no telling what emerges.  No, seriously, you don’t know.  You might wish to fight till we have the real constitutional republic, but remember the young in military age never learned civics.

You toss that dice, you don’t know what happens after.

And it’s not just us. The rough music is already playing in the rest of the world. To the extent things haven’t gone completely and bizarrely insane — in the paint the room red  sense — it’s because there is the US. And they can’t read us. They have no idea what we’ll do.

To an extent, despite our refusing open involvement, we’re what’s keeping the protesters in Hong Kong alive. We’re what’s keeping the antifa-like elements of the yellow jackets (not most of them, but an element) from turning this into just a pillage and rob expedition resulting in who knows what.  I don’t know what our influence is in the rest of the world, but I’d bet it’s not negligible.

We’re the one sane guy, holding the gun, and watching the rest of the room burst out into inanity.  To the extent the world isn’t drowning in blood, it’s because we’re here, we’re functional, and people are afraid to get our attention.  Not to mention tariffs or not, we’re their best customer.

If we down into the ululating madness, there’s more than a good chance the rest of the world does too.  There’s a good chance we’ll wake from any donnybrook we engage in, in whatever form we wake up, to find the world is Chinese. Which would spell the end of Western civilization and pull us into the cycle of “always burning books and restarting history” China plays.

Even with a best case scenario, do you want the US facing a world-Chinese Empire?  How long do we keep the republic then?

And even if everyone emerges and the Chinese don’t have the strength to become a world power (who knows?) we’ll have lost twenty or thirty years and countless wealth and lives.  And what emerges will be …. possibly very bad.

It might be unavoidable. And if we get to it, there’s nothing left but to fight valiantly.

The balloon could go up.

And yet it’s better for everyone if it doesn’t. It’s better for everyone if America keeps at least the appearance of a constitutional republic while we clean house and reset onto a better course.

It’s better if the rough music never plays, if the mob never has to deal with things in the only way the mob knows how to do it.

Trust me, exposure will still destroy most of these people, in everything that is worth it to them. Even if not one of them goes to jail, we’ll still have won a duel to the pain.  (And don’t be sure they won’t go to jail.)

For years now I’ve been telling you: in the end we win they lose.  Things are already headed that way. Which is already a miracle given how much control they’ve for 100 years.

What you can do right now is speak up, expose the nonsense, not let them hide.

The time for fighting might come.  But it might not.  At least not physical fighting.  Keep in mind what we’re doing is not without dangers.  And some of us have already paid a heavy price.

I can’t tell at this point if it’s better or worse for the republic if the left loses its mind faster. On the one hand, beware the wounded bear.  On the other hand a spooked enemy — as we’re learning — fights badly.

Don’t let up now.  Come out come out wherever you are, if you can at all. They fear our exposure of their misdeeds more than they fear our (right now) ineffectual physical violence.

Be prepared, but for now, just be aware.  And don’t back down.

Stand your ground.

 

 

 

Vignettes by Luke, Mary Catelli and ‘Nother Mike and Book Promo

Book Promo

*Note these are books sent to us by readers/frequenters of this blog.  Our bringing them to your attention does not imply that we’ve read them and/or endorse them, unless we specifically say so.  As with all such purchases, we recommend you download a sample and make sure it’s to your taste.  If you wish to send us books for next week’s promo, please email to bookpimping at outlook dot com. If you feel a need to re-promo the same book do so no more than once every six months. One book per author per week. Amazon links only.-SAH*

FROM ELI STEELE:  Blood and Iron: Part One

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Magic doesn’t exist, until a mage falls in the streets of Ashmor. In his last moments, he gives Rowan Vos, a thief for hire, a sword that will alter his future, and threaten not only his own life, but the lives of everyone around him.

Eldrick D’Eldar returns from the Kingdom of Meronia with dire news – three decades of fragile peace is unraveling.

And Griffon Alexander, the son of a minor noble relegated to the borderland keep of Braewood, is about to face the culmination of all of these events.

FROM GRACE GARNE:  Trouble at Oak Tree Motors (Texas Trouble Book 1)

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The residents of Firewood Texas think an ex-con from California is their problem until a meth gang moves in.

FROM PAM UPHOFF:  Marooned (Wine of the Gods Book 46)

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Xen Wolfson is a powerful dimensional wizard. With no idea how he wound up in a wilderness, bereft of magic, with what looks a lot like a lightning strike burn.

If he doesn’t get killed and eaten by the wolf, and learns to make weapons, and hunt without magic, he can survive until someone finds him.

Hopefully a friend . . .

A cross-dimensional war is brewing, and Xen’s kidnapping was the first shot fired. As the unknown enemy continues to grab the strongest of the dimensional cops, Xen’s friends try to find him, and at the same time locate the enemy so they can stop the hostilities before it turns into open warfare.

 

 

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: rub

How to Feed Yourself Cheaply and Easily

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I don’t know if this is a thing I continue, but particularly since most of you are hyper-competent people.  But it occurred to me I had ONE expertise that is not common.

As I’ve told here several times, due to several things, one of them being that because I was one of the few who made it into university (there was no private at the time, and the places were few, the grades very high to get in) it wasn’t expected that I (as mom would put it) “would ever have my hands in dishsoap”, I was never taught even the rudiments of cooking.

I’d picked up some by virtue of taking extra classes and doing tutoring, which meant that I often came home way after the family had eaten. I was competent to take a seasoned, prepared chicken leg and fry it, for instance.  I could make popcorn.  I knew how to make tea and coffee.  Oh, and I knew how to bake, but Portuguese views of cakes are completely different from the US (they PREFER them dry.)

So on my first day as a married woman, after my husband went to work, I set about looking for stuff to cook, and I literally read the instructions on the back of a pasta package to figure out how to make it soft.

Sure, in the US the joke is that college students survive on ramen noodles.  We were living like college students for the first three years of our married life, but here’s the thing: I didn’t even know ramen noodles existed.  Also I’d been raised in a tradition that made meals at least two courses and occasional desert necessary.  (Which yeah has a ton to do with our weight issues. Never mind.)

Fortunately my SIL in Portugal had anticipated my problems, and got me a very basic cookbook for newlyweds, with pictures.   It is now in pieces, which makes finding things very difficult (same as my joy of cooking) but the principles I learned in those first ten years of cooking with as little expense as possible tasty enough meals to keep us out of restaurants most weekends is now in my head.

I can’t use most of it now, because Dan is diabetic and — thanks to many many prednisone courses — I hover on the verge of it. At any rate, carbs and stress are the triggers for my auto-immune attacks and I’ve managed to stay off the pred for a year now and would like to keep it that way.

But there are tricks and work arounds, which I’ll also be glad to share.  If you guys are interested, I’ll start doing this on Saturdays and include low-carb work around for recipes.

This is also germane to us right now, because I’m switching from cooking for a family (with two boys/later young men) to cooking for just two late middle aged people, who don’t actually eat as much as they used to. I find in terms of not wasting food (look, the way I was brought up,  if you dropped your bread you were supposed to pick it up and kiss it to apologize) and not eating the same thing every day (you know, if I make a roast it lasts forever. Unless we invite the boys and DIL for dinner.)

So I’m also learning tricks and work arounds and ways to do things.

Anyway, if you guys are interested I’ll do this as a feature on Saturdays, and make note of your own contributions in comments.

So, to begin with, some cheap staples:

Eggs- look for them on sale.  Seriously. Sometimes they’re 99c a dozen.  Sometimes, in my area, they’re less. Yes, you can freeze them, though as whole eggs it tends to burst them.  Back in the days of feeding what felt like a horde of males, I’ve been known to put cheap ziplocs (though the cheap twist close bags would work too) into muffin cups, break an egg into them, freeze, seal, and then put a dozen or so in a freezer bag.

Eggs are wonderful stuff, because if you’re otherwise out of most food, you can use very little of other stuff to make a tasty meal from eggs. Omelets souffles and quiches are all cheap –if you get your eggs on sale.

Parmesan in the shakeable packages – It’s not extremely perishable, it’s a good flavoring and it’s additional protein and fat.

Rice – if you can eat carbs, find one of the bulk places or the Asian grocery stores. Get a fifty pound bag of rice. It’s usually fairly cheap. It can be turned into all sorts of things from soups to deserts. And it’s just good filler.

Frozen vegetables – but Sarah, they’re more expensive than fresh.  Yeah, they are, but they don’t go bad as quickly.  Again, the thing is to watch for sales and large packages.  (Again, it is a good idea to freeze them in smaller portions.)  We usually have cauli flower and broccoli, green beans, and some kind of mix in the freezer.  In our case now it’s mostly because we forgot to buy vegetables, or have been too busy to go to the store. BUT when we were very broke, we used to buy the big cheap bags at Sam’s (we got membership through Dan’s work) and live on it and rice with a little bit of meat…

A little bit of of meat: chicken.  No, seriously, chicken.  Unfortunately I hate chicken, so I’ve found a million and one ways of disguising it.

The cheapest chicken I’ve found is at Walmart (in our area) and comes in10 lb bags. It’s also all legs and thighs, which means first I need to debone and refreeze most of it (though we also eat legs and thighs, obviously.

The cheapest POULTRY we’ve found is the day after Thanksgiving hitting the local grocery store and buying a couple of the largest turkeys.  Then de-bone and slice into various things.  Turkey breast fillets make a good substitution for veal fillets, btw, in most dishes.  You can also make hamburger, mini roasts, etc out of one turkey.  With both kids eating with us, I could get a large turkey to last us 2 or three weeks, depending on what we were eating.

If you’re going to engage in this sort of thing, it might be worth it to buy one of the food sealers where it sucks the air out and seals the food.  I was told here years ago that if you use those instead of freezer bags, not only is it cheaper, but you don’t get freezer burned meat. I’ve found it to be right.

Now, how do you do all of this labor intensive stuff if you both work? When we had the boys, I used to cook on Saturday while I was cleaning.  Saturday morning was for all the prep, and then I let things marinade/baste/cook while I cleaned.  Then let everything cook and freeze a meal for work day.  This is harder with only two people/low carb, and I haven’t found my rhythm yet.

Anyway, is this something you guys would be interested in? Both the “We only have x in the pantry, what do we do now?” and “How to prep/cook ahead?” and “How to make this low carb?”

Are you interested?  It can become a Saturday feature.

And now I go clean and stuff….  (I still have to enter all the changes into Deep Pink to send to betas.)

 

 

The Perilous Passage

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Years ago when I was young, innocent and green as the greenest species of leek, I formally joined the Libertarian party and solemnly signed the compact never to initiate violence.

I have since shed a lot of the ideas that made me a member of the Libertarian party — including the idea that the individualists can organize anything the statists won’t high jack (and remember that, because it’s important to my conclusions)– but I still hold by and believe in that.

Look, it’s not that I don’t see that a soft coup has been in progress in this country for many, many years, honestly since before most of us on this blog were born.  And it’s not like I don’t realize it went into high gear… well… around the time of Clinton’s presidency.  Or that I don’t get it’s now in your face and obvious, and has been since 2016.

I beg any of you who think I’m “soft” or kind, or an optimist, to consider I’m seeing this movie for the second time.  Having grown up in a country where the left felt absolutely no need to hide its intentions and behaviors, having passed as one of them (successfully enough to have a graduate degree in the liberal arts and to be professionally published. And if you think that doesn’t require passing at the times and places I did it, you’re an optimist) I heard them planing and talking, and I know their idea of the world and of the opposition.

Mostly what I know is that, yes, they hate us and often wish us all dead.  But the Haidt studies were no surprise to me, either. I also know they know nothing about us.  Not just “they don’t fully understand us.” but they know nothing.  What they think they know about the right is the “comedy right winger” their fellow leftists injected in various TV productions for years.

Those of you who have been on this blog a long time probably remember our instances of having idiots come onto this blog and accuse us of being all from the deep South, not having finished high school and never having traveled abroad.

This is important, so hold on to that scrap of info.

At the same time, please be aware — I’ve run into them — there are a number (not as large) on our side who suffer from similar issues in target identification.  Weirdly these people are usually very young and have decided that if everything the left taught them is wrong, then the opposite must be true. The fact that they’re young also matters here, so keep it in mind.

Next, yes, I believe there will be violence. I wouldn’t advise anyone to be near a marginal neighborhood at or the week after the next elections. And between now and then keep your eyes open and watch your back. From all sides.  Desperate people do weird things, and the left is acting like a wounded bear. And people are getting pissed at it (you can judge this from the fact that I am, and I’m not even close to the biggest hothead on our side.)

At some point one of my colleagues was keeping track of incidents of left-wing political violence since 2016, and was up to 20. Unfortunately I don’t remember where the list was.

However, after what happened to Rand Paul and to the GOP softball team, it would be a fairytale to say there will be no violence.

There has already been violence. There will be more violence. Some of it will be horrific. All of it will be downplayed in the media, or miss-ascribed.  Keep that in mind, it’s another piece of the puzzle.

What I’m saying is that the violence will have bloody nothing to do with anyone’s concept of a civil war.  Because of how emulsified the population is, how long we’ve been infiltrated, and the growing but far from complete catastrophic technological innovation effect… well, we’re in terra incognita here.  The ship has hit what should be the edge of the flat Earth, it’s not sailing out into space, and we’re all still trying to make it fit into our mental disk-like map of the world.  Us and the left, too.

On their side too, you see clamoring for the progroms of the 20th century, adult happy fun camps, free health care for everyone including illegals, etc. seemingly unaware that we can actually hear them and see them. That these conversations are no longer in their very own smoke-filled rooms, and properly cleaned and primped up by the press for general public consumption.

On our side, you see people saying we should have a jolly civil war, or some kind of uprising.  It reminds me of Mercutio ranting at Romeo in Romeo and Juliet: MERCUTIO: O calm dishonourable, vile submission!

Keep that in mind, too, because of course the reason Romeo is not answering Tibald’s insults is that they’re family — no, hear me out. I’m not going to make a soft-headed appeal for letting the left get away with sh*t, truly — and in the time and place the play is set (and written) that meant that his entire life was now enmeshed with his wife’s family, even if they didn’t know it. Mercutio just, tragically, doesn’t know that.

In our time and place it’s because people view civil wars, or putting people in camps, or even revolutions in cinematic terms: And then everyone had had enough, and they rose and deposed the dictator.

Take it from someone who lived through revolution and counter revolution, to the point Green Acres (you had to be there) theme song triggers PTSD: it’s never like that. It’s never, ever, ever like that.

Then go and find books about the American revolution, real ones, and find out how much they endured and put up with before they pledged their life, their fortune and their sacred honor.  And even then be aware that there atrocities and bad targeting (as there would be) and that it took not just genius but an uncommon amount of amazing good luck for things to turn out as they did. It wasn’t the most likely outcome. It wasn’t even in the top ten.

And we’re not at that point yet, no. Though we’re closer than I’d like it to be.

Look, I don’t think it’s going to flare into a full scale war. I could, however, be wrong. And I’ve been waking up screaming for some time now over the possibility I might be wrong.

I think we’re going to see brief, unimaginably violent outbreaks.  Most of them will be — have been, and not that violent — in leftist dominated cities, which means it’s mostly theater, with few exceptions.  But as the crazy bullshit impeachment has shown, they’re getting more than a little crazy.  And that’s on top the Thunberg thing, which is even more insane (since when do we take 16 year olds seriously, when they demand we kill most of the population of the world?)  In fact, this chick right here is the current poster child for the left. The scary part being that other than saying it in public, she’s not that unusual, even.  Even though she is quite obviously mentally ill.

When ghosts dance fail, cultures do bizarre things.  Yes, there is the possibility of the left trying something stupid somewhere they think they’re safe and unleashing a wave of violence the likes of which they have never seen. On them. Well… them adjacent. Mostly-them. Almost-certainly-them. Kind-of-them.

Because my question is: how do you target?

I’m not even saying — though if you have a minimal amount of self-awareness you know damn well it’s true — that most of us on this blog would probably be mistakenly acquired as targets. Have you forgotten how many of you post under assumed names, because you’re successfully passing in professions controlled by the left? because I haven’t.  Or that to the casual observer (and trust me, there are a lot more people than those who follow sf/f fights, or read blogs) I am one “on that side” being a foreign born, has an accent, uses big words, makes classical references, lives from writing, dabbles in art… hell, has a degree in languages and literature? I’d target me.

2004, because honestly Jean Francois Kerry scared the snot out of me (my imagination was obviously limited. Nothing like this year’s lineup) I volunteered for GOP get out the vote efforts.  This was near insane, considering I was still in the political closet, but bear with me.

Myself, and a group of two other women and two men were sent out to the suburban neighborhoods of Colorado Springs, on foot, to remind people to get the heck out and vote.  People being, in that case, registered GOP voters.

One of the women who was with me kept saying things like “They’re not even real republicans. Half of those are going to go out and vote for the Dems.”

She was wrong. At least those I actually found at home and spoke too, she was very wrong.  But I also understood her impressions.  Sure, there were mom-and-dad evangelical families.  There was also the gay couple where one of the guys, after talking to me about the odds that GWB might lose said, “honey, damn it, we’re voting” and took off his apron, and walked off to grab his partner and drag him to the polls. Moments later, they drove off to vote.  The one I talked to read the same blogs I did at the time. Trust me. We exchanged references.  There was also the family with the immigrant (Portuguese! No seriously. I told his wife where to buy Portuguese foods online, while he was getting coats, so they could go out and vote) dad with the thick accent.  Etc.

Target acquisition? Pah. Most of those people would have fooled me, if we hadn’t talked for more than a few minutes.

Then there are the soft-left. I was going to call them the soft-headed left. But hell, most of them aren’t. Not really. It’s hard for us who live and breathe politics to get that it’s possible for people to vote for someone because “they sound nice on TV”.  But I’d guess that’s a majority of people.

Most of the “left” aren’t left because they want to destroy our way of life. Most aren’t even aware of the crazy idiocy their candidates are spouting. They’re busy people, who have jobs and families, and imbibe their daily dose of MSM’s or entertainment “Orange man bad” without thinking.  Involving them in a war WOULD be an atrocity even if they are casually supporting genocide and tyranny. They have no clue they are.

Killing vast numbers of innocent — not just a few, as the revolution admittedly did — is not a way to anyone’s heart.  Even the American revolutionaries grew disgusted at the French revolution when it waded through lakes of blood.

It is PARTICULARLY foolish when the media still holds a giant megaphone, for those people who are too busy and don’t care about politics and also — I hasten to point out, since I know most of you don’t know this — the only voice about events in the US that is heard around the world.  Look, I spend about 1 hour of the weekly phone call with mom explaining that no, Trump isn’t rounding up dissidents, etc.  And mom is SKEPTICAL as a consumer of news.

Whatever emerges, if we wade through blood, will need trading partners; will need some good will and cooperation abroad.  The world is too interconnected to tell them all to f*ck off.  And more importantly, it will need the world not to think it’s weak.

But let’s talk about what will emerge: if we start this, if we jump into the dance with both feet before the tune even plays, if we give the YOUNG — who do you think fights? and who do you think is most enthusiastic in mob action — their head in this, the people who will jump in and control it are those who have access to the means of propaganda.  Oh, if the uprising against the current “elites” is strong enough, they might just — probably — change their tune, and become the most nationalistic of all nationalists, screaming from the roof tops that they always hated leftists.  But they’ll be the same people. And they’ll be directing the violence and the reconstruction.  I don’t think you’ll keep your republic.

So, what is our option other than vile submission?

Well, IF the election is stolen and they start rounding up people by the numbers, yeah, you’ll get to see as close to a civil war as your heart (not mine) desires.  This will be a very, very bad thing.

Those of you who read Ringo know what he’s said about when the engine of world economy seizes and stops.  People will starve to death, while we resolve our differences. Some of them even in the US.  Unimaginable wealth and progress will be destroyed.  And I doubt any of you will like what emerges.  Sure. We have more force than they do. But they’re better at manipulation.

A renewal of the Republic?

It would take a miracle.

I’m not saying it can’t happen, but if we’re going to pray for miracles, can we pray for something else?

Trump, a brash man, a blunt one, a man I thought we couldn’t abide or trust in the presidency, is engaged in doing to the American left what Ronald Reagan — imperfectly — did to the Russian empire that called itself the USSR.

He might fail. There was always that chance with Reagan too, and in a way he did, because while he defeated the Soviet Empire, he didn’t expose it for what it was, and left the infiltration at home untouched.

Trump is causing them to expose themselves, and to expose themselves in ways even the media can’t cover up.  He’s putting pressure on them in ways that even I don’t understand/anticipate until I see them play out.

He’s not the president I wanted, but he might have been the president we needed.  And perhaps G-d still protects fools, drunkards and the United States of America.

Perhaps if we don’t joggle his elbow by doing what the left is clearly trying to provoke us into doing — to have an excuse to retaliate — he can bring us safely through this very narrow and perilous strait.

And if — note IF — he does it will be because there was a divine thumb on the scales, because all the deck is stacked against us.

But so far? So far he’s done far better than I expected.  And he’s winning. If he can expose the corruptocrats and kleptocrats of the left for what they are, he might steal their thunder, and steal that mushy middle. Or at least keep them from being idiots for long enough that the danger passes.

Hold your breath. Watch your back. Fight the war of words. Pray the war of fire and blood doesn’t come.  Pray the republic survives.

And be not afraid.

 

 

 

 

The State of the Writer

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So. I had a guest post for today, but family stuff intervened so last night I was neither able to cue it in time, nor get to bed before close to one, which means I got up late today.

I’ll do a brief state of the writer.

I’m still fighting something upper respiratory with extreme tiredness. Seems to be going around and takes a long time to kick. Working on it.

Signs I’m getting better include the fact I’m finally reading stuff that is not Jane Austen fanfic again.  For a while it was all I could handle.

Tried a couple of thriller series, but they failed to hold me. So I fell back into the fanfic and I’m only now pulling away.  This has been my longest period of “must read/can’t deal with real stuff” since I spent two years reading Disney comics when the middle school was trying to destroy younger son.

So that’s good news.  Other good news: I’ve finished annotating the revisions of Deep pink, and should finish entering changes by (knocks on head) tomorrow, health permitting.

Then it goes to betas before being released into the world.

The longer novel Alien Curse is advancing and only two weeks late (gah.)

I have FOUR short stories I need to get done this weekend.  Oh, and Deep Pink will need a cover.  Plus I’m doing a series of three covers to re-release a series of books, now under Inkstain Publishing. (Hi Kate!)

The nap-in-the-afternoon is really interfering with this schedule, but it really IS getting better.

Oh, yeah.  I’m doing more substantial posts for here again, which you guys seem to like.  Just reminding you that should you get to feeling guilty about the free ice cream, there’s a paypal donation button (two actually) up on the right hand side.

For those who don’t like paypal (I get it, I do) the address to Goldport Press, inside any of my indie books will get to me. We accept checks, cash, gold coin, and — specifically — a small labradoodle.  (Younger son is allergic to dogs, of all things, but I really need a walking companion.)

We don’t accept kittens (are full up), chickens (though in a year DIL might) or explosive devices.

No, you don’t need to donate. Yes, it would help, but my aim is to make my money from fiction.  However, it would help and provide incentive to do the more complex posts.

Yes, there will be a compilation, if I can clear the decks enough to actually go through years of post and compile them.

There will be a workshop or a few (probably one a month) on writing techniques, once I have husband in one place long enough to talk tech and hardware to teach them.  Also hosting, of course.  (And yes, it’s been that crazy.  You have no idea.  Hopefully this is our last year before we launch the boys into their own orbits, but as such it’s a year of keeping track of a lot of things, driving people to the airport a lot, helping figure out research and contacts, and… all that stuff.  Which is not as much WORK as you think, it’s just unpredictable and disruptive.) And there have been doctor stuff.  Yes, that’s responsible for the improvement, but it also takes time and is disruptive.  Yes, I’m whining.  (Not really. Just wishing I had double the hours to do stuff in.)

We will attend TVIW in Kansas in November.  We haven’t registered or done anything about hotel and travel yet, which tells you how organized everything has been.

Anyway: I now go to have coffee, breakfast, check on son’s cat whom we’re catsitting and who is SUSPICIOUSLY silent.  Then I write, with a chance of intermittent doctor appointment.

Guest post tomorrow.  Carry on.

 

Don’t Hate Me ‘Cause I’m Human — A blast from the past post from 12/9/2010

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Don’t Hate Me ‘Cause I’m Human — A blast from the past post from 12/9/2010

There’s this disturbing trend I’ve observed recently – okay, the last thirty years. [My read-about experience goes back a few centuries, so that feels recent.]

It’s part of what I was talking about yesterday, in a way. For a book to be considered serious, or introspective or relevant, it has to attack the past or western culture or civilization or tech or… humanity.

Not that there is anything wrong with attacking these, mind, to an extent. And they used to be shockers and a very good way to attract attention immediately. And I’m not saying the mindlessly chauvinistic “our people, right or wrong” was much better. For instance, the cowboy-and-Indian trope became really tired after a while. [Not that the Native Americans were noble ecologists trope isn’t really tired too.]

I’m just saying that these days, by default what you hear is against-whatever-the-dominant-culture is.

I first realized this when I was studying for my final exam in American culture in college. The book changed opinions and contradicted itself but it was ALWAYS against the winners and against whatever ended up being the status quo. So, the book was against the North of the US, because the North… won. Even though it had before been against the South because slavery. It was very much against modern US and raged against… embalming practices for three or four pages. (Because they divorce us from the Earth. Just SILLY stuff.) [I now wonder if it’s based on Zinn’s fantasies.]

And then I started noting this trend in everything, including fiction. Think about it. Who is to blame in any drama: the US; the successful; the British; the Europeans; the… humans.

Years ago when Discovery Channel put out its “future evolution” series, my kids and I were glued to the screen. We’re the family for whom the Denver Museum of Nature and Science is home away from home, the place we will visit if we have an afternoon free, the place where we have watched lectures and movies. I refer to it as “molesting dinos” and it’s usually my way to celebrate finishing a book.

So we were glued to the TV. Except that after the beginning, I realized the way it was going, and I started predicting it. Instead of taking a “what might humans become” the people who wrote this went down a path where first humans and then everything VAGUELY related to humans became successively extinct, till the only warm-blooded survivor was a bird, and then that too became extinct. In the end, tree-dwelling SQUIDS inherited the Earth.

Yes, you DID read that right. Tree. Dwelling. SQUIDS.

The contortions were capricious and often absurd, but you could predict where it was going.

It’s been a while since we had cable, but I understand there was a very popular series called “Life After US” about what would happen to the works of humans if we were suddenly extinct. And people watched it, fascinated and – from the tones of posts about it – a little wistfully.

This is when you must step back and go “What is wrong with us?” “Is this a sickness of the soul?”

The answer? Yes and no.

Part of it, of course, is wanting to shock, wanting to revolutionize, wanting to be innovative… in safe ways – in (dare we say it?) politically correct ways. It’s easy and approved of to attack: males, America, western civ, humans.

People who select works at publishers and studios and all that are often liberal arts graduates and they come from this curious world where they still think the establishment is circa 1950s and that they’re telling something new and wonderful.

Part of it is, of course, that we do see problems in our own culture, in our own society, in our own species. Of course we do. We are an introspective culture. We examine our consciences, we find ourselves lacking, we try to improve. This is, in general a good thing – though perhaps a little perspective is also in order.

Part of it is politeness/sensitivity to other cultures, mingled with the consciousness our ancestors were often wrong. We’ve been taught the crimes of colonizers in various lands and most of those colonizers (and colonized, at least for most of us) were our ancestors. We’re conscious we’re big and others are smaller. It’s a peculiar form of noblesse oblige. We don’t want to trample others by pointing out faults in other cultures or other species. I understand this, because I learned to drive in my thirties and lived in a mountain town with lots of foot traffic downtown. I was excruciatingly careful driving through there, because I could crush a pedestrian and not notice. This is why we tend to turn our flagellation upon ourselves.

And part of it is sicker/darker. I notice this tendency every time we discuss a great figure of the past, from George Washington to Heinlein – as different as they are. I call it “counting coup.” George Washington? Well, he was slave owner. And he had wooden teeth. And Lincoln? Well, he was very ill, and besides, he was probably gay and in the closet. Heinlein? Despite all his efforts at including – for his time – minorities and giving women starring roles, he must have been closet racist and sexist, donchaknow? Because he doesn’t fit OUR superior notions of inclusiveness.

What is going on here – besides tearing at our own past, and thereby continuing the self-flagellation – is being able to prove we are “superior” to these high achievers. We might do nothing and achieve nothing, but we are superior beings because we’re more moral than they were.

Individually, none of these trends is really bad – or at least not for those of us who grew up with the opposite tradition.

Oh, the constant and predictable chest-beating becomes boring. At least it does for me. Maybe it doesn’t for other people?

But think of (grin) the children. They have no perspective. All they hear is how their country, their culture, their SPECIES is evil. How things would be so much better without us… How things would – ultimately – be much better if… THEY hadn’t been born.

It’s not healthy. It’s vaguely disgusting. And the best it can do is engender the MOTHER of all backlashes and bring about a cultural chauvinism the likes of which you’ve never seen. The worse… well, one of the other cultures we don’t criticize because they’re small and we’re big becomes the norm.

And before you cheer them on, let me put this in perspective: Western civ has committed crimes. ALL human cultures throughout history have committed crimes. Slavery? Since the dawn of time. Exploitation? Since the dawn of time. Murder? War? Genocide? Yep, and yep, and yep. And many of those cultures STILL do all of those things and don’t feel in the slightest bit guilty, mostly because we handily and frequently blame OURSELVES for their behavior and they get our books, our TV series and our movies.

Such as it is, the West has brought the greatest freedom, prosperity and security to the greatest population.

Yes, there were crimes committed, but a lot of them were the result of a clash of world views – tribalism met the state. Look, it’s not that Native Americans or Africans lived in a state of innocence and harmony with nature. If you believe that, you need to study history and put down Jean Jacques Rosseau. [Preferably with a shovel. He’s one of those people who can never be dead ENOUGH.] And get out of your mom’s basement. And take the Star Trek posters off the wall. And the Avatar poster, too, while you’re at it.

To the extent the native were innocent and helpless, it was because of their mental furniture. What gave colonizers the edge was not their weapons or civilization (Oh, come on, back then, there wasn’t that much of a distance.) It was their mental furniture. To wit, they had overcome tribalism and organized on a large scale. Most of the colonized (excepting some small empires) hadn’t. So they would attack in ways that worked in tribal warfare: exterminate a village or an outpost. And the reaction of the colonizers (who by the way also didn’t understand the difference in mental furniture and therefore thought this made the native peoples’ “bestial” or “evil) was to exterminate all of a tribe or a federation of tribes. And it worked because westerners were united as a MUCH larger group. Which made them stronger. Western civilization started overcoming tribalism with the Romans. That was the real innovation.

If you think that we’re rich because of those acts, you must study economics. It doesn’t work that way. If anything those acts made all of us worse off. We’re way past any wealth we could plunder off others. We’ve created wealth. The whole world lives better than it did five hundred years ago.

And if you’re going to tell me the fact that all humans are flawed proves that we’re a bad species, you’ll have to tell me: As opposed to what? Dolphins are serial rapists. Chimps commit murder. Rats… Every species we examine has our sins, but none of our redeeming qualities.

Heinlein said it was important to be FOR humanity because we’re human. Beavers might be admirable, but we’re not beavers. He was right. But beyond all that, we’re the only species that tries self-perfecting. We exist – as Pratchett said – at the place where rising ape meets falling angel, but as far as I know, we’re the only species reaching upward. (Of course, we wouldn’t know if there are others and again, we have to assume we are it. The others have flaws too.)

We are part of the world and in it. To love the other animals of the Earth – or the hypothetical alien – and hate us is strange. Are we not animals? Are we not of the Earth? And who the heck can compete with sentients who exist only in the story teller’s imagination?

By all means, let’s protect the weaker. Let’s shelter the little. But let’s not beat ourselves because we’re bigger and stronger. Let’s USE our powers for good instead.

Am I saying that you shouldn’t tell these stories then?

No, I’m not. I would never repress anyone’s right to create, or anyone’s opinion. But I’m asking you to think. I’m asking you to pause and go “The west is bad… as opposed to? Humans are bad… as opposed to?” And tell your kids that, ask them those questions. [Not just because it’s essential not to browbeat the kids, but because, frankly, all the hatred of humanity and western civilization is becoming tedious.]

And then, perhaps, every now and then, try to imagine a story from the contrary view point. Just to wake things up. And to keep others thinking.

Power Imbalance and Consequences

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We live in almost comically crazy times.  Yes, yes, I know, Heinlein coined the term The Crazy Years. But as I have pointed out before, you only wish these were the crazy years.

In point of fact, these are the “pants on their head, running around saying wup wup wup years.”  They might also, in point of fact, be planning to build a bridge across the Atlantic and the bridge is made completely out of soap.

One of the weird things about our society is how presumed “oppressed” minorities can accuse presumed “privileged” people of any possible or imaginary attack, and once they’re proven to be lying, people excuse them and don’t even give them a slap on the wrist.  (Why are those words in quotes? Look, guys, when we say that holocaust survivors have white privilege, we’ve lost the definition of privilege.  And when Malia and Sasha are considered “oppressed” by reason of being female and dark skinned… may I interest you in enough ivory soap to build that bridge?)

The latest greatest hoax most of us are aware of was Jussie Smollet.

Apparently a middle school girl thought his stunt was worth emulating. I mean, it’s not like he’s been punished…

This burst onto my circles this week, and I was the one who went “Uh… this is all wrong. ALL OF THIS IS WRONG.”

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Let’s count the major red flags on this first: every article I’ve seen mentioned Pence’s wife. Which frankly is insane, because no one is saying she had anything to do with it (if it had happened.)  The family is “destroyed” and “seeks legal retribution.”  Look, guys, I had kids in Middle School. I also have a lot of friends, relatives and acquaintances who had kids in Middle School. Let’s assume that the entire incident was true, and the kids called her ugly, cut off her hair and told her she should never have been born.  … who CARES?  In Middle School, with all the hormones running around, this is called “Wednesday.”  And despite the different races there is absolutely no guarantee that it had anything to do with race. In fact, chances are pretty high it was personal animosity. Sure, tell the school. Sure have the school investigate, but what’s with the assumption of racism and the idea that it’s somehow national news????

Then let’s get into the “slightly less sure, but this smells wrong:”  The boys cut off her hair?  THAT’S NOT A BOY THING. It just isn’t.

White, black, purple or polka dotted, if a boy hates you that much, he’ll punch you in the mouth.  If he kind of likes you and has no clue what to do with it, because Middle School Hormones, he’ll do something strange like write on your with marker or steal something of yours.  Or make fun of you for something that doesn’t even make any sense, like hwo you spell your first name. Even if it’s completely normal.  Cutting your hair, though?  Not unless he really likes you and wants a bit for a souvenir.

Boys DO NOT hold a girl down, call her ugly and cut a bit of her hair off.  I’d be more likely to believe all of this if she’d accused GIRLS.

But the thing that really made me go “what?” was the “nappy.”  Look, I have a vast vocabulary, that includes slurs and slang.  But I only learned “nappy” when what’s his name years ago referred to someone as a “nappy ho.”  I’m not even absolutely sure what it MEANS.  I have my doubts  that any white kid now in middle school knows the word “nappy.”  Or would use it derogatorily.

So in a group of my friends, I was the one saying “guys, this doesn’t sound right.” while they were saying “I hope that the boys get punished.”

So I lay in a small bet she was just Jussying it.

It turns out I was correct.

So the girl has apologized and the school made mouth-noises about how both sides have suffered.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?

This is what’s known as a power imbalance.  Any minority, including women who are only a “minority” by fiat, since they’re the majority of the human race can accuse men or white men of anything.  And none of htem will be punished in any substantive way, even if is proven to be a lie, and to have, obviously done damage (to the boys’ reputations, the school reputation, distantly to our national soul) and even if the claim was in every possible news outlet INCLUDING the NYT, and the retraction won’t reach most people who believed the claim.  Women and minorities can do no wrong.  And they can accuse anyone who even vaguely upset them of anything. And these people will be punished by the mere notoriety.  And there will be NO repercussions to the person who started it all.  NONE.

This means you’re handing random women and minorities the ability to punish anyone who annoys them, or whom they envy, or who happened to not notice them at all (ignoring with malicious intent, I believe that’s called.)  WITH NO PRICE TO PAY.

The amazing thing is not that the list of fake hate crimes (someone link it in the comments. I’m too lazy to look) just keeps growing longer and longer and longer, or that women DO lie about rape (early, often, and with amazing abandon) or that the #metoo movement went from zero to “he looked at me funny! I’m oppressed!” in about ten seconds.

What we have here is exactly the same situation that prevailed in the bad old days when any white woman could have any black guy lynched on her say so.

Sure white guys aren’t lynched on someone’s say so — yet — but in these ubiquitous social media days, they can be made unemployable and probably undatable.  Not to mention impoverished with legal fees and waste the best years of their lives fretting over legal matters, DESPITE BEING COMPLETELY INNOCENT. (Yes, for the skim-till-offended. I’m sure some of them are guilty. Humans are like that. But note that the fake complaints are so many they hide the real and create an assumption of being false.  So, these accusations are ALSO bad for the real victims.)

Honestly, I’m surprised we don’t have a false accusation a day.  Unless the ones that are being widely publicized are the most credible, in which case the others must be doozies.

Which makes society a very bizarre place, where accusing the completely innocent of unlikely crimes is supposed to be somehow a step in the direction of justice.

And then the unintended consequences set in.

What consequences? you ask. And if you’re a leftist, you’re blinking rapidly and going “There ARE unintended consequences?”  For the left, in fact, it’s unintended consequences all the way down.

I’ve already found articles lamenting/blaming men for being reluctant to hire women in the wake of #metoo.  (Or refusing to meet with women privately. Or to have women as friends at work.  Or… other situations that have a woman alone with a man or a group of men.)

Apparently it’s the most misogynist thing evah for men to refuse to put themselves at risk for having their career and life destroyed because a woman feels like destroying it.  And women are saying they’re now more oppressed than ever.  But they don’t see the link with the excesses of #metoo.

If the Jussieing goes on, we’ll soon see parents of white boys refusing to have them in school with black girls.  Or for that matter parents of boys refusing to have them in school with girls.

And what you’ll see from the left is an amping up of the “racist, sexist, homophobic” cries, which in turn will give people the idea for MORE fake crimes, which will exacerbate the protective measures of those who might be a target (since people can figure out risk assessment.)

Or, you know, we could treat people as people, not jump on unproven accusations and bandy them all over as though it were national news.

We could assume people are innocent until PROVEN guilty.

And if accusers make up accusations that damage others’ reputation or peace of mind, they should be given the punishment the innocent people they accused would have got.

REGARDLESS OF SKIN COLOR AND SEX OF ANYONE.

It’s just crazy talk, right?  I mean, what would journalists publish, if not scurrilous rumors at all levels.

Which is why we’re stuck on this crazy train, taking a soap bridge across the Atlantic to Unintended-Consequences-Ville.

Sit back and enjoy the ride, because the arrival is going to be a heck of a bump.

 

 

 

Smart is Not the Same as Good

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There is a bizarre connotation in our culture, almost as strange as “child, therefore perfect” which is “Smart therefore morally good.”

Unlike the first one, which I think comes from the idea of the holy fool in the middle ages and, more recently from Jean Jacques Rosseau and his insanity about noble savages, I have no clue where smart=good comes from.

What I can tell you for absolute sure is that I’m sick of getting into some moral argument, say “eating people is bad” and I get told something like “There is this ethicist who says we should do it, and he’s smarter than you.”

Blink, blink, blink.

What in the actual double dipped purple moron behind does one thing have to do with the other?

Since when did we stop believing in evil geniuses?  Granted most evil isn’t a genius. Most evil isn’t even particularly imaginative.

However, let me assure you, having known several people who are very smart that they are more prone to hating all humans and often themselves than others, not less.

Why? Well, because most very smart people stick out like a sore thumb, which means that they are usually picked on starting at babyhood. Which does not predispose you to loving the rest of humanity.  Which means you’re more likely to hatch plans to kill them in batch lots because they annoy you and — humans being tribal — you view them as “not human.”

Look, yes, most of evil is not really smart, as I said above. Evil geniuses are rare.  But “They called me mad, mad, but I’ll show them” is a cliche is because almost all of us have known someone who wanted to “show them” though usually, you know, not by holding the Earth hostage for a million dollars.

But we all know — I think, or at least I did, starting with college professors — people who are really brilliant and just the most evil creatures you ever met.

Just as we know people who are brilliant and near saints. And people who are brilliant and perfectly well-adjusted human beings who have never done anything remarkably bad or good in their lives.

The truth is that “smart” particularly in the sense it’s applied here, which is mostly “Has lots of credentials and big degrees that allow for interesting letters after his/her name” is actually of very limited application.  Sure, we like it, particularly in our own field.  I like to have commenters who are “Smarter” than I about history or language (though I don’t actually ask you what your credentials are, and I don’t particularly care.)

I appreciate that husband can calculate very strange stuff in about ten seconds.  So that, for instance, if I need to know if we can carry 300 bricks in the back of my car without popping every tire and/or handling so weirdly I go off the side of a mountain road (well, I transported the library makings — oh, yeah, I need to get a picture of that for y’all — from Connifer and it was a close thing) he can get this cross-eyed look, weighs a brick, and goes, “oh, sure, 300 would weigh x, and since your car can handle x and the axis of handling is y… you’re fine.” Or “Dear Lord, NO.”

But this doesn’t mean either of us can tell you how to sow your wheat.  Or how to build a wall, or even how to sand a cabinet, or sew a pair of pants.

Intelligence is one thing. Training is another thing. Morality is another thing. And specialized knowledge is yet another thing.

You with me so far?

You can be a brilliant physicist but suck at spelling, so your shopping list is completely incomprehensible.  Or more likely, you can’t cook a meal for yourself to save your life.  Or — you guys heard about Einstein and all matching pants and shirts, so he didn’t need to match them in the morning?  This is my life with my family sometimes.

Or you can be a wonderful cook, amazing housekeeper, etc. but you can’t balance your checkbook.

Or–

Look, there might be, somewhere, someone who is good at everything and isn’t a neurotic mess, but I haven’t actually met him or her.

“Smart” in one field doesn’t mean smart in the others.  And certainly you can be an amazing artist or writer or whatever, and have clue zero about… oh, climate science.  Or, randomly, how to cross the street unassisted.

And neither artistic talent, nor knowledge of science, not even being very good at politics (which is kind of like an art crossed with used car salesmanship) means that you’re a moral human being, and therefore can make pronouncements on who should live, who should die, and whether we should kill and eat humans. (This example, btw, isn’t random. Some idiot “ethicist” really said we should do that to save the Earth. Which means I don’t care how many letters he has after his name, he’s a moral idiot. Yes, I can actually explain why but briefly, because if you don’t respect the human in others civilization unravels from the root outward. Yes, I can give details, but that’s not what this is about.)

In the same way — and trust me, I got exposed to this fairly regularly when I was going through writers’ groups coming up — if you have a writer who only reads and writes romances, and she tries to write, say a mystery, I don’t care how good she is at romance,t he mystery is likely going to suck, because she doesn’t know the conventions of mystery.

And I’m sure for most of us it’s like that even in our fields.  I mean, I’ve been known to ask younger son a question and get back “I don’t do x engineering. I mean, I can make a guess, but it’s not expert knowledge.”

So “intelligence” — meaning some mix of aptitude and training — isn’t even portable within a specialty, much less to something completely and randomly different.

And now we get to why this myth drives me bonkers. Because people who believe, “But he’s so smart, so he’s qualified to make moral decisions/direct the future” are the type of people who deep down to the bottom of their curly pink toes think that centralized planning should work. Or not even should work or think: THEY FEEL centralized planning WORKS if only you get the smartest, bestest people with the shiniest prettiest credentials and the most sonorous letters after their names.

And unless we make sure that illusion is killed time and time (and time and time and time) again, we end up with orders to sow wheat in winter in Siberia and a hundred million dead.

There is no one smart enough or “good” enough or cunning enough or empathetic enough, or whatever enough that they can decide what you my friend, yes, you, sitting there on your chair, reading this blog, should have for breakfast.  (Even if human is not on the menu.)

NO ONE ELSE is qualified to tell an adult in full possession of his faculties how to live his private life and go about his private pursuits.

Not only does no one else have the right to tell you what to eat, what to wear, what to do for a living, or whom to marry, but no one can do it better than you personally.  We have had millions of experiments, if you count everyone ever under the rule of “experts” and none of those experiments ended well.

Unless you’re being commanded for a very specific purpose (say you’re part of an army) and a limited time, or it’s a collective endeavor (and no, not like being a nation. More like “let’s all cook breakfast or build a house together”) no one controlling a group’s decisions will have better results than each individual choosing for him/herself.

Because YOU — yes, you with the hair on, sitting in front of the computer  or staring at the phone — know what’s better for you. (And if you think what’s better for you is human ala mode, you’re a danger to others, and ultimately to yourself, because someone will shoot you.  Unless, of course, you’re some famous ethicist trying to convince people this should be legal, in which case you should be laughed off the public square.)

Sure, humans are often wrong about what they should do.  Yes, humans often cause unwitting (and witting, but that’s different) damage to themselves and others. But to cause damage on a truly grand scale, you need to have one individual making decisions for a vast crowd, and amplifying his error to truly amazing mass-grave proportions.

Because that illusion, “he’s so smart, so good, so amazing, therefore he should rule everyone in this country/this continent/the world” always ends the same way.

The result is always death. Death in epic proportions.

Appreciate the intelligent person for what he/she can do. (If indeed he/she can do something and not just spout purposeless trivia at awkward moments.) But don’t assume that this “intelligence” makes it possible to run other people’s lives.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are individual rights.  And the best antidote to this kind of illusion.