Bad Bad Futures (Which Didn’t Happen!) The Overpopulation Edition.


One can’t read science fiction — old or new — without taking away the idea that “there are just too many darn people.”

Now part of this is because humans are really good at scaring themselves with numbers.  Starting with Malthus, and on through the early 70s, or so, everyone was plugging the growth numbers for the population since the beginning of the industrial age and extrapolating them ad infinitum.

Which, btw, by now would have us as some truly impossible number.

Of course Malthus — misanthropy in math — was wrong.  Not just a little bit too.  It apparently never occurred to him that given women (families in general really) being able to count on more kids surviving, they would no longer have six or seven or however many in batch lots.  I mean, sure, without contraception, humans would still have more children than we do now, but even then… The population growth was already falling by the early twentieth century due to the old ways of making population fall: later marriage, some timing control of sex in married life.  Sure, it doesn’t work for everyone (wouldn’t work for me, part of my problem being odd times for ovulation, which caused us the opposite problem of too many children (!) but it still modulates population growth, so it’s not uncontrolled.)

As you guys know, I don’t think we’re 7 billion or whatever number the UN claims, and frankly I can’t understand why ANYONE believes the UN on this. They can’t be trusted on anything else, pretty much taking the word of dictators and totalitarians for proven facts, but you trust them on this? Really?  And you’re sure that countries that can barely keep commerce going (and sometimes can’t) are really sending out census forms and getting accurate counts?  Or do you think such countries are taking to bush and hinterlands and isolated villages in the middle of nowhere and counting “peasants” person by person?  If you do you probably also think that Juan Valdez picks coffee bean by bean.  Not to mention that it’s just a coincidence, I’m sure, that countries that are net recipients of international aid PER CAPITA have the highest population growth.  I’m sure.

But more importantly, what the heck is “overpopulation?”  Like “Global warming” it seems to be a case of finding a problem in “too much of a good thing.”

I mean, humans thrive when the Earth warms, and human progress and well-being (yeah, and population too) dives when the Earth cools.  We want the Earth cooler, because?  And please, don’t say we’ll become Mars or some such arrant nonsense.  There are reasons Mars is the way it is and they don’t apply to Earth, no matter how many times Scientific American (I remember a nineties article.  Not the first to make me lose all respect for SA, but close to the last) screams that they do.

In the same way what is “overpopulation?”  At what do we set it?

Americans don’t realize how much closer populated Europe is.  And Europeans don’t realize how UNPOPULATED the US is.  Just watching a movie the other day — one of those endless saving Christmas movies, because husband was watching it while I did something in sight of the TV — I was amused by images of “going all over the US” including the west, including Denver, but the shots were all NYC dense and high.  But having grown up in Europe I can tell you that’s what Europeans think all of America is like, all high rises coast to coast.  So, yeah, they think we’re overpopulated.

But you know, as tightly packed together as Europe is — to us — they’re still not overpopulated.  Their population density (mostly near highways) works, and makes for (mostly) walkable communities. (No,I don’t want to import it here.  But it works for them.)  And if you ask, they might wax poetical about unspoiled meadows and forests, but they don’t consider themselves overpopulated.

We’re certainly nowhere at maximum capacity the Earth can support, either in space or food.  Most famines in the world today are not caused by scarcity but by kleptocracy.

Sure, you can claim that we’re injuring the environment, destroying species or whatever the heck, but the truth is that the US is more forested now than when the pilgrims arrived, and as for rare species: species have been arising and dying since there has been life on Earth.  Also given the ridiculous way species are considered as separate for the sake of making something a protected environment, I’m not even sure we have a true picture of that.  Beyond the fact that we also have no clue “what is minimum species diversity?”

Take it as read that people like looking at the pretty animals and plants, and wealthy people — which humans now are, by and large compared to historical norm — put a priority on this.  What priority is it? How important? And are we really hurting anything, or is the fact that species encroach on suburbs (not the other way around. Check) just a show of the wildlife doing better.  Also, when should we intervene when one species threatens another?

If your entire job is screaming about humans doing this or that, you’re not an environmentalist.  You’re a sad freak who hates your own species, probably because he hates himself.  Species encroach on and hurt each other’s number or habitats all the time.  If you took “species diversity”seriously, you’d care about those TOO.

Oh, yeah, contributing to fears of overpopulation was Calhoun’s mouse experiment.  People look at how the wheels came off as the number of mice climbed and keep seeing parallels with our own society.  It would be more accurate to see the mouse experiment as a prison population or perhaps as the results of socialism.

First of all, humans aren’t rodentia.  Second the Earth is not and never will be an absolutely enclosed space.  Third, to get to the level of “overpopulation” he had, we’d need to… well…. we’d need to be denser than the densest city on Earth ALL OVER THE EARTH. Fourth, the main problem was the “loss of role” of the population.  Which had more to do with the fact they were being fed “for nothing” than actually striving for their daily bread.  And if you consider what happened, it closely resembles the behavior of humans under the “soft” version of socialism, aka European socialism than anything having to do with overpopulation.

People are still terrified of overpopulation, though, even though we demonstrably are nowhere near the world say of Logan’s Run.

Why?  I have this theory that it is because subconsciously we think our environment is a lot more densely populated than it is.  I know that there was an experiment semi-recently in which people apparently say they have a lot more neighbors/friends than they do, because seeing people on TV, etc. subconsciously convinces people they live in a vast tribe.  Our brains aren’t equipped for modernity.

I think this fear we’re overpopulated plugs in that.

But we’re not.  Relax.  Okay, you’re allowed to point and laugh, particularly when some sample of cognoscenti says we should all live in super high rises because mah overpopulation and leave the world to the plants and the little animals.


This is just hatred of their own species set to music. (Or in this case, to fashion.) And it’s arrant nonsense.

Sure, I think we should spread to the stars, because a diversified environment is better for a species, and I happen to like humans, but we’re not even close to being “too many” for the Earth.

Also no one knows what too many is.

That fear didn’t come to pass.  In fact the opposite might be true.

So when the peddlers of nightmares try to encroach on you or prescribe (somehow they always do) socialism for “overpopulation” just laugh and make duck noises.  Then ignore them, and go your own way.

And if they persist, tell them to go forth and multiply. Only not so politely.

UPDATE: On the great booksale of 2018 — new post tomorrow, but… —

I CAN’T FOR THE LIFE OF ME FIND NIGHT SHIFTERS.  I know I have them and remember unpacking them, but I think I put them in “a safe place.”  I’ve remedied the people who had ordered, but let’s assume I can’t find them in the next week.

Darkship Renegades MIGHT be sold out.  I’m going to package extant orders (those people to whom I’ve given the go ahead) tonight and will let you know.  I might have one or two copies left of the appalling (horrendous, no good) hardcover of Draw One In The Dark. (it’s in good condition.  The cover just sucks.)
I found an entire box of hardcovers of All Night Awake (Shakespeare books).  There might be other hard covers down there, in boxes, so I’ll try to have a count tomorrow morning.  For now, on those too, let’s call hardcovers $18, okay? (mostly because extra weight.)  And for the horrible and probably collectible cover of DOITD, first come first serve.

I have a couple of Dipped Stripped and Dead (under Elise Hyatt) and a few more of each of the subsequent ones.  Let’s call those $5 each if buying more than one.  ($7 otherwise?)

I have a Goldport Press TPB of Death of a musketeer (call it $12 with other books.) and a few others I’ll tally tonight.

Oh, yeah, I have TPB copies of No Will But His and a few of Plain Jane (the later under Elise Hyatt.)  Again, I’ll see how many I have tomorrow and whether it’s an “urgent” thing.

I’ll give you a new list tomorrow.  Promise.

Vignettes And Books of All Sorts


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: Assorted.

Paper Books for Sale

Okay, so I couldn’t get the bookplates going (though I might give it one more try.  Will let you know if I can.  It’s mostly a matter of making it fit the labels for printing) but I have paper back books for sale.  The number of copies is indeterminate, as we keep finding boxes I stowed a way in weird(er than normal) places as well as finding boxes we thought were copies of one of the books are something else entirely.  I’m taking the rest of the day to figure out precisely what we have, but you kind of need this earlier.

So we’re going first come first serve and I’ll post here when I run out. I promise to get books in mail by Wednesday if ordered before then.  Keep in mind Media Mail might not get there for Christmas.  Proceed accordingly.

Trade paperbacks, signed (if you want it personalized, PLEASE tell me) are $15, unless you’re ordering more than 2, in which case they’re $12 each.  SHIPPING VIA MEDIA MAIL INCLUDED IN THE US.  SURCHARGE WILL APPLY FOR ANY INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING.  If you need them express to make sure you have them there for Christmas, please let me know and then when you pay add the price of shipping express from 80206 to your address.  We’ll ship them ASAP, but probably only Wednesdays and Fridays, (for reasons of my work time) so beware of that.

Mass Market Paperbacks are $6, except Night Shifters which is $10 (it’s massive.  Also shipping it will be expensive even media mail.)

Because I’m uncertain how many I have, (some a ton, some like half a dozen) and need to go to library downstairs and count some, the procedure is this: send me an email indicating the book or books you want.  Send it to Goldport Press At Gmail dot com.  (No spaces, and substitute at and dot, of course.)

I will answer each day, verify we have what you want and give you the paypal to send the money to.  I can also give you an address to send a check to, but that will slow down the whole process, so probably will make it difficult to have books for Christmas.

So, these are the books we have at least some number of:

Shifter series:


Which is an omnibus consisting of Draw One In The Dark and Gentleman Takes a Chance. Mass Market Paperback, but THICK. Price above.


Gentleman Takes a Chance, the second of the Shifter’s books.  Trade Paper Back.


Third of the Shifter’s Series. Trade Paper Back.


First of the Darkship Books. Prometheus Award Winner. Trade Paperback.


Second of the Darkship books, trade paperback.


Third of the Darkship Thieves Saga, first of the subseries on the Earth Revolution.  Both Trade Paperback and Mass Market Paperback.  (I’d prefer if the mmpb is part of an order of tpb, just for shipping, really.)


Fourth in the Darkship Saga, second in subseries on Earth revolution.  Trade paperback.


Fifth in Darkship Thieves saga.  Trade Paper Back.


Please note these are all I’m sure I have at least a couple of. When I have a chance to explore in the basement (don’t ask) I’ll list the others I might have some of.  I think I’m all out of Shakespeare trilogy, but I might have one or two besides the two copies husband likes to keep on hand.  Ditto Magical British empire, though I might have two or three of each.  Don’t even ask what I have in Musketeer mysteries until I figure out where they went.  I THINK I might have half a dozen of furniture refinishing mysteries, but ditto.

Note that some of those others not on this page have collectible value (as a regular reported he can’t find one cheaper than $50) and I’ll have to figure that out before I price, of course.  Because not totally daft.  So, keep that in mind. Will add to this and do another post, probably Tuesday.


Sunday Book Promo

FROM CYN BAGLEY (yay, she’s writing again):  Hero of Corsindor: Revised and Updated Edition



In the kingdom of Corsindor, the prince is lost, the king is dead, and the queen is holding the reins of government against disloyal nobles. They want a puppet to consolidate their power over the land. The queen has only one ally, who is not human.

There are rumors that the borders have been closed. Plus the long-lost prince, who knows nothing of ruling, is returning. Corsindor is being attacked from within and without by nightstalkers.

Shira, a foundling, trained by the Ahrah, Corsindor’s neighbors, is sent find out the conditions in Corsindor. Warrior and child of another world – her job is to confront the demons and reduce the chaos in the world. Will she survive?

Will she be tempted to take it all?

I’m Okay

I’m okay, truly, and I meant to post well before this.  But Havelock cat, who is very pretty and extremely fluffy had a poo incident in the night.  It got all over his fur and back legs.  Being Havelock, cleaning himself the normal cat way never occurred to him, so he dragged his butt all over the laundry room, the kitchen, the breakfast nook, the rest of the downstairs floor, the stairs and our bedroom.
We’ve bathed him and will shave his butt when he dries.  Right now we’re cleaning all the surfaces he got smeared.  It’s amazing such a small cat could get all over most of the house’s flooring.
Yeah, I’m up to my ears in you know what and cleaning as fast as I can.  As soon as I clean a place, we find another one ground into the carpet.
So, there probably will be no post other than this today.


The culprit


A Lack of Reading Comprehension


Sorry this is late.  I was actually hoping younger son would make it back to help me haul books so I could post a list of paper books for sale.  (He says something about so busy, and finals and stuff.  So…. Tomorrow morning, for a couple of hours. Maybe. If it doesn’t snow.)

Anyway, while trying to figure that out, I came across a friend complaining about people who come to blogs and leave comments saying “I can’t believe you forgot this point” when the point is exactly the one you made IN THE BLOG.

And this made me realize something I keep running into in increasing numbers: people who seem to have absolutely zero reading comprehension.

Perhaps it’s people who learned to read as whole-word readers and they miss a few important words?  Or perhaps it’s just people who are in a great hurry.  But it seems to me that more and more, I’m running across people who don’t read what’s posted and instead read what they expect to read.

It’s become almost a joke that our political opponents will come over and completely misinterpret whatever I said.  I mean, remember when our then resident (now mostly on FB) voluntarianist got called Statist and thereby became Statist Josh?  Or the time someone called an homophobe who’d obviously never left the United States?

It was hard, particularly on those posts (Wasn’t the last one about public libraries?) to even figure out how they came up with that TOPIC let alone that conclusion.  But it almost always happens.

Look, there have always been people who read something and take not only a wrong, but usually a bizarre conclusion from it.  I had a school friend who did this.  Smart woman but something happened to anything she read.  You know she could read a text on windmills and come out convinced it was about the plight of wolves re-introduced to the wild.  Or something.  It just would have zero to do with what was on the page.  And none of us, talking about it (not with her, duh) ever figured out what she was actually reading.

I’ve run across a few other people like that.

But recently they’re the exception, not the norm.  And not all of it is ideological.  Send out an email asking someone “Do you breed moon ferrets? I’ve been looking into the endeavor, and find that you need a specialized kind of cage, but no one will tell me how specialized.  I’d appreciate if you took the time to tell me, or show me a photograph.)”

The answer will be “Why, yes, I do sell moon ferret wool.  It makes the softest sweaters.  We spin it ourselves, and have some for sale.  I don’t know if you want to come by or just go to moon ferret wool store on Moon street.”

And that is tangentially related and the response is for something that could make the writer money.

But the more common is something like this, “Dear Bob, I’ve been doing pretty poorly and hope you are well.  I have arthritis and rheumatism and need heart surgery later this year.”

Response from Bob, “Well, I’m glad you’re doing well.  I certainly am not. [List of issues.])

The only explanation is that people skim the first line and fill in what they need to make sense of the three words they actually read.

This makes business communications hellish, but most of all it reminds me of two of the regulars at the village tavern.  One was a farmer, the other a stone breaker.  Fast friends.  both deaf as posts.

Their conversations went something like this

“We’re now breaking into granite, it’s hard as hell.”

“Oh, yeah, it’s about the time to prune the vines.”

“I know, and no matter what we try, it takes us twice the time of any other stone.”

As a little kid, I thought this was the funniest thing I’d ever heard.

But how the heck can we work and live if we’ve all become that deaf couple?


I’m Terribly Sorry

But I have some kind of stomach bug, and can’t seem to find my brain.  (And after being so late yesterday, too.  Sorry.)
I barely slept, so it’s not surprising.
I might try to do something later.  Sorry.

The Tragedy of the Squid Farms on Mars


We’ve all heard about the tragedy of the commons.  The left apparently takes it as a reason for strong regulation, while the rest of us are out here waving our arms, screaming and going “no, no, no.  Regulation has a cost. The tragedy of the commons is not having well defined rights, like the right to property.”

(In fact we know that the more things are owned in common, or nebulously in any country, the more that country is likely to be a sh*thole.  For instance if things belong to the tribe, or even the extended family group, there are good chances the tragedy of the commons will operate.  And far less incentive to excel.  But that’s something else.  Tribalism is a problem. Always.  A discussion for another time.)

What the left always fails to get is what I’ll call The Tragedy of the Squid Farms on Mars.

You see, part of the problem is the mental framework.  To the left any money earned anywhere in the country automatically belongs to the government. This confirms my suspicion that at heart, deep inside, they think of the normal form of government as feudalism. This is because I’ve seen very old land deeds and other documents from when  Portugal was a monarchy and it read something like “his majesty, graciously allows his subject so and so to exert ownership over this parcel of land” the underlying conceit being that the whole land of the whole country belonged to the king, and it was in his purview to hand it out to whomever he pleased for as long as he pleased, while it still belonged to him.  (The documents I saw were for things like house plots, not fiefdoms, incidentally.)

The left seems to be going off the same book when they say things like “How will you pay for the tax cuts?” as if the government is OF COURSE entitled to all your money, and if you’re getting some back, that part must be compensated for.

This goes hand in hand with their idea only the government does anything worthwhile, including demanding the president (at least if Republican) do something about things over which he has no power.  “What are you going to do about unemployment?” “What are you going to do about anti-semitism” or “What are you going to do about hurricanes?” (The later and the whole antropogenic global warming climate change obsession, btw, give new meaning to the “everyone complains about the weather, but no one does anything about it” joke.)

Because of these frameworks, they miss what taxes cost.

Yes, sure, government invests in medical and scientific research. Government pays people money that gives them more comfortable lives than they would otherwise have. Government does a lot of things.

But are these the same things that private individuals would do, given the same money  in their pocket, instead of paid in taxes to spend as they wished?

I don’t know if any formal studies have been done, but we know that countries with more state funding inevitably lose out in both innovation and wealth to those who allow individuals to keep more of their money.

Look, it’s something like France, which had a massive, extremely complex research and implementation program for what would be CHEAP audio and visual calls all over their country.

They were immensely proud of it and in the late seventies, when I was taking French, we watched little movies about how great it would be in 10 years or so, and there were articles about it and…

And it was still not implemented when the personal computer overtook it and made video calls all over the world for very little a reality. And yes, I do know how much the government put into developing the internet. What I don’t know is how much faster and more functional it might have been without that.  Sure, it might also not have existed. But what would have existed INSTEAD?

Here’s the thing: contrary to what the left thinks, when you leave wealth in the hands of the individuals, they don’t just flush it down the toilet or build gigantic bins that they fill with money, in which they go for a refreshing swim every day.

People do things with that money.  And even if all they do is buy stuff (thereby allowing someone else to accumulate wealth) or invest it, that money gets aggregated and finds things to do, as it were.  Wealth goes to work on things that seem interesting, might be interesting, or are otherwise likely to make money for the individuals who hold the wealth.

Individuals have money to start new businesses that would never have existed if they’d paid that money in taxes.  Or they “invest” in free time and a really nice garden, which in turn lifts the spirits of people who invent something because they feel better than they would otherwise.

The left insists that if they leave money in individual hands, it will just be “wasted.”  (Because, you know, no money spent on a vast a apparatus, most of it a jobs program for useless paper pushers or power-hungry martinets is ever wasted.)

How do they know? Have they tried leaving enough money in the hands of those who earn it to make a difference?

Not in the twentieth century.  Though we can infer from the fact that the most sclerotic, dying countries are the highest taxed ones, that perhaps what government considers “best” and what we consider “best” are not the same.

Not just taxes, but regulations too weigh heavily on possibilities.  Sure, the left sees “lands saved” (or created. oop) when say, regulations curtail oil drilling.  But what I see is energy taking up an excessive amount of every family’s money,  wealth that would otherwise be freed for other investments, for starting businesses, even “just” for fun.

The problem we have is that leftists lack utterly in imagination. They see the “pristine” plots of land, or the things government does with our money and they find it good.

But they’re mind’s-eye blind.  They can’t see the wealth that has been consumed for almost 100 years now say on the war on poverty to create chronic poverty having instead been used by individuals to create, to invest, to build, so that, in that parallel world in which money stayed in individual hands, we now have interplanetary travel, colonies all over the solar system, and squid farms on mars that feed all of humanity.

Their lack of vision, their killing of possibilities without the slightest thought to them: That is a tragedy.




Whispers, particularly malicious whispers against someone, are a terrible thing.  Anyone who has seen them to their work, winding around a workplace, a small town, or even a profession, an avocation, a political organization, knows how destructive they can be.

This is partly because human memory is not … reliable.  I did a post for PJ recently (hasn’t gone up yet or I’d link) about why it is a good idea to demand proof instead of running off and condemning people because someone’s testimony is “credible”) and frankly what I found shocked me, because human memory just plain isn’t reliable.

This is a problem, because so much of what we are and our image relies on our memories of what we did, thought, believed. Particularly for those of us who have lived a life of the mind, it is helpful to say “I believed this. I stood for this. I fought that.”

But it turns out what you remember — anything you remember, not just traumatic memories, or important ones — is porous, malleable, conformable.  Turns out things can leak in.  Particularly in terms of small incidents (stuff like someone giving you a dirty look or giving you a wide berth as they pass you in a hallway. Or even touching you in passing. Things you would not have paid attention to even if they’d happened) it’s easy to make you remember things that never happened.  This is also easy with things a long time ago, say more than ten years.  There are other things that happened and you find proof happened and you did but you have no memory at all of them. They just vanished like water off a duck’s back (on this was based the whole cult of “repression.”  I.e. you’re supposed to have repressed memories that were so traumatic you wholly walled them in.  Now, apparently it is proven this is just not true. Sure, there are memories you’ve lost forever, but they’re as likely to contain completely trivial stuff as very traumatic stuff. Your brain is just not a great recording instrument.  Of course, this is not as good for storytelling as the one great memory whose unlocking will change character and world forever. The world persists in disappointing the craftswoman in me.  First Atlantis never existed, now this.  Sigh.)  Oh, also every time you remember something it becomes contaminated with the tie you remembered it, or with something someone sitting nearby said, or with your current feelings on the matter.

It is also possible for stories you read or watched to contaminate what you remember.  You know that whole “We laughed, we cried, it became a part of us”? Pretty much.  Emotions felt at a piece of (successful) entertainment can wrap themselves around similar (or dissimilar) memories of yours and give them a different meaning.

And no, I’m not going to give links to all of this, because I did about half of them for the article which will come out eventually and it took me the best part of an afternoon.

However it turns out life would be much easier if we were just the place where falling angel meets rising ape. We are that, caught forever between spirit and flesh, but it turns out except for the individual moment, we’re half story and half dream, too, all wrapped up in the spirit and the flesh.

This not only makes it important for us to believe ourselves as part of something bigger than our individual lives (and in this post religious and post nationalist age, that is very often some crusade or other, and at the very least “virtuous” in the way the current world views virtue.  Which– never mind.  That need to be part of something bigger gave its force and its horror to both Nazis and Communists. No, nationalism wasn’t to blame for any of the long wars of the 20th century [not even the first.  It was more stupid alliances] but the need to be part of a greater whole that was going to bring paradise to Earth was in fact at the root of making normal people into monsters.  Remember that. Perhaps it is that all created things will eventually recreate the sins of angels. Who knows. But remember that. When a movement’s aims are too good to be true and promise the impossible, ignore how good it makes you feel and remember what such movements have done before.)

Because we know our own individual death is inevitable, we are susceptible to stories larger than us. We get captured in them and pulled along. Yes, sure, religion has been that, at times. And at times the narrative has been such that the story was heinous. But getting rid of religion only makes us susceptible to other, more secular stories.  Again, if someone promises you paradise made of normal human beings, in this too solid world, step back and think. Because we’ve heard and seen and read and — as a species — lived that story before.

But that impermanence of memory and that strange fluidity of humans who need to belong — that social ape frame upon which we’re built has a lot to answer for — makes whisper campaigns very effective.  You hear something about someone you work with, or even more effectively, someone you see only infrequently or meet only over the internet.  You hear they’re evil, or dangerous, or have beliefs that go against the current society’s most prized virtues, and suddenly it seems to you that you remember all sorts of things.  And you step back, and you feel the crowd must be right.

And suddenly someone with a stellar reputation, someone who’s been as honest and reputable as a human can be, someone you rather liked in fact, finds him or herself in the middle of a social desert, and finds career — and if bad enough family — falling apart.  Often with absolutely no idea why or how.  Oh, of course, usually people find other excuses for doing the person down.  And even if later on the initial malicious rumor is disproved they find reasons they were perfectly right to treat the person as they did.  Most likely by then, this person who found him or herself reviled and exhiled for no reason he or she could figure out has started lashing out, and is resentful or angry, or worse, depressed.  So it’s easy to find a reason. He/she is either hostile or lazy. You were perfectly right to treat this person badly.  Bad temperament. Hard to work with. Not someone we want around.

I know the rumors about me. I know because the writing community leaks like a sieve and is made of socially inept people, which means sooner or later someone tries to either confront me or condole with me. Which means it all comes out.

I also have shrewd guesses as to the — self interested — sources but there’s at least three, and it’s all gone mingled.

Sure, I’m hostile, lazy and occasionally hard to work with.  Or in other words, a writer. If you don’t believe me ask anyone who’s ever done a stint as an editor. I found this out when I did anthologies. Mostly we’re cranky, dissatisfied with our output, mope and sometimes lash out for no reason other than that we’ve been fighting the story in our heads and it just won’t work.  Pretty much all sane writers know we’re like that. (The insane ones view themselves as wronged angels.) We console ourselves with the thought that visual artists are worse.  I was actually surprised it was true, when I tried to buy art.

Difficult to work with and crazy beyond the norm of writers?  Well, I’ve yet to cuss out any of my editors to their faces (doing French verbs in your head helps with that) or to publish names and places, and scan in or paste the crazier parts of editorial letters and manuscript notes.  I’ve also never sued my publishers or editors, something that’s not as rare as you would think.  Oh, and I’ve never called book distributors to call them names because my book isn’t on shelves.

I’d say for a writer that counts as being fairly stable and easy to get along with.  I know that on the line level I’m actually almost supine.  Oh, you want to change was to might have been?  Tilts head sideways.  Whatever. You want to move a punctuation mark? Be my guest.  I missed punctuation class because I was sick.  Yes, each time for each of seven languages.  Shut up. It’s how I remember it.

The other stuff?  The racist, sexist, homophobic stuff?  Oh, hell.  Yeah, sure, if everything means exactly its inverse.  Does it? Or if — beyond what you believe — socialism/communism is best for minorities women and gays. Is it? Because if not, no, I’m none of those.

I am Odd, always was. I have real trouble believing the notion of race. Partly because in our village I saw someone from Africa come in, marry in, and there not being a trace that you could say “African” in her granddaughter.

Are there racial characteristics? Sure.  Mostly caused by human populations being geographically or culturally isolated and breeding with each other (probably. We aren’t actually sure, to be honest, but that’s the logical hypothesis and we’ve seen it happen in other animals.)  Does it come with mental and emotional as well as physical characteristics.  Probably.  But probably not as tightly bound to “appearance” as people tend to think.  The stereotypes we associate with races first of all vary by culture that holds them (no really.) and by time (apparently the idea that black people can’t help gambling was a racist stereotype at the beginning of the 20th century. Something I only found out by reading books written at that time for people of that time.) But more importantly humans are plastic because our memory is. We’re likely to live up down (and sideways) to stereotypes. We’re likely to be influenced by our upbringing and culture might have deeper roots than genes. And we’re very influenced by story. So if we believe our race “has always been held down” no matter how ridiculous, we’re going to be hostile and expect things to be handed to us. Regardless of what race we are.

IQ… ?  Again, part is what you do with it.  Even things like memory are trainable.  Do me a favor if you have little ones. Make them memorize poetry.  Vast tracts of poetry.  Turns out there was a reason for that. It trains you to be able to memorize things you’ll need later.  But it’s not just Anatole France that has proven that sometimes the physical apparatus has nothing to do with the IQ displayed.  Time and again (ask any brain researcher) you find people with brains so diseased or traumatized or otherwise screwed up they should not be functional have done brilliant and wonderful work. And the inverse too. Because that story part of us, that dream, that whatever you call it beyond the physical can make us brilliant or stupid more so than what we were born with.

Nature or nurture? Yes. And heaven help us, we have no idea where one stops and the other begins.

I believe in race for racially-bound genetic illnesses, and even that… meh. Sometimes they don’t go with external characteristics.

I believe there are also racial narratives which can make people act a certain way.  For some reason the 20th century decided it would get rid of all in-group positive ones, and fill it with negative ones instead, which… didn’t work so well. Blame Marx and the rush to be “oppressed” because that meant the future was yours.

I believe in individuals. And if an individual is decent — or even interesting — I couldn’t really give a good goddamn what color you are, what your features are or even if you have an accent.  (Though I have trouble understanding accents. Stop laughing.)

Sexist? Um… to an extent. Guilty as charged.  It’s grandma’s fault, see.  She taught by example more than by word, that men were very well in their professions, and perhaps, maybe, the more trustworthy ones, certain aspects of politics.  But the truth was anywhere outside their metier they were basically overgrown children with their enthusiasms and their strange fixations (in grandma’s defense, most men in the family are Odds.) Women who did all the real and important work, from finance planing to looking after kids, to real estate trading, to social positioning of the family so jobs and opportunities would come to us, were supposed to never let on that men weren’t quite the masters of the universe they thought they were.  Because, hey, look, not their fault and they were doing the best they could. Also, they were in their own way as cute as kids and puppies. Why be mean to them? Support them, help them, keep them fed and clean, and let them do what they’re good at to help you with your aims.

I’ve grown a bit before that, and I don’t view all of those roles and characteristics as solely male or female, and I, thank heavens, married a man who is a true partner and someone I can talk to. I also think my sons are fairly all-around useful, and not just in their chosen path.  Grandma wasn’t wrong for her culture and place, but seriously, I’ve gone past that.  Sometimes, though, I reflexively fall into it, and drive all three men insane, particularly in times of stress when I try to get them to get out of my way as I shoulder whatever the problem is which is likely too big for me.  Sorry guys. It happens. Childhood training abides and comes out when you crack.

However, I’m afraid these people think/say I’m sexist AGAINST women.  I’m not even sure what sense that makes.  Sure, I’m against women when acting as a mob and donning the holy cloth of victimhood, mostly because they’re letting the story get away with them.  Sure, of course, to be sure, women were very oppressed throughout history (mostly due to biology.)  But make no mistake, despite what history which only records powerful men says, so were most men.  The past was a bad place. You don’t want to go there.  But no woman alive today in the west was really oppressed.  Sure, life wasn’t all they wanted.  Yeah, tell me a story I don’t know.  They might have been abused and mistreated — as often by women as men — but those are individual ills, not group ills.

And yeah, I’ve been known to tell my fellow American women that they’re acting — as  group — like lunatics, by buying the stories spun to them.  Look, someone has to do it, and the guys are afraid to. Also I’m terribly unimpressed by those that say (or find scholarly quotes to the intent) that women like me are what keeps women in bondage.  You are not in bondage, except inside your head. You want to look at bondage, look at Islamic countries and think. The only bondage you’re in is to STORY and the story that’s being spun to you to make you part of an unthinking mob is that you’re oppressed by INVISIBLE sexism.  Look, guys, when a story depends on an invisible villain and attacks those who would disprove it, it’s not only not true, it’s incompetent. Storytellers should be better than that. I am. Even while very, very ill.

I also believe that men and women have certain, coded in the genes, differences. Always accounting for statistic variations, which means you can find individual examples that are the opposite, men are stronger, faster and better at visual thinking than women. They also tend to think in straighter lines, faster, and because of the way the brain is influenced by hormones with more assurance. Women are better able to bear pain (or weight) for a long period of time or make a great effort over a great period of time, better at verbal thinking and … more connected thinkers.  We think in weird clusters and by bizarre paths, which give us a bigger — and often more contradictory — picture than men get.  Which also means we present as slower and less confident.  But which is in many ways necessary for species survival.  Or IOW you know the thing about coming to conclusions with insufficient data? The thing that throughout the ages got called “feminine intuition”?  As much as its fun to make fun of it, there’s something to it.  Often we can’t pinpoint why but we “know” something and yet it’s true.  If you analyze our thought process getting there, you understand we used insufficient and marginally related data to make a picture which is predictive with a high degree of certainty.  Since most of the world isn’t a math equation, all variables known, this skill is invaluable.

Is it sexist to believe in those differences? Well, yeah, so is biology. I am sorry, but I’ll believe my lying eyes, not your pretty story.

Homophobe?  Are you for real? Seriously now? Can you say that without laughing?

Being an odd I spent my life falling in with other odds, and sometimes these were people who stuck out for differences other than just thinking upside down and sideways.  I’ve pretty much always had gay friends, though sometimes I wasn’t aware of their preference (nor did it matter for our association.)  I’ve found by and large they’re… people. Some are good, some are despicable. Some are smart, some are dumb, but more importantly, some I want to spend time with, some I don’t. Which is all that matters to me.

In the long scheme of things, who you like to sleep with makes absolutely no difference to me unless I’m married to you.  In which case, I hope you want to sleep with me. (So far so good.)

Unless I’m friends with both members of the couple to the same degree (happens) who my friends sleep with is always inexplicable, but if that person makes them happy, I’m happy for them and will treat the SO with the courtesy and respect due someone very important to my friend.  That’s the extent of my interest in it.

Oh, unless you mean that by hating socialism and communism I’m bad for gays.  But you know, this actually came up in a free for all yesterday, and I can’t think of a single communist country that treats gay people well (or like full citizens.)  Not one.  Totalitarianism and not being like everyone else don’t mix.

As for socialism, yeah, I know, someone is going to bring up Europe.  Europeans are polite and have a social face. I know.  I used to be one.  Whether you’re a minority or gay, if you visit the socialist (or non socialist.  Are there any?) countries of Europe, you’ll come away thinking they’re the sweetest, most accepting….

Be glad you can’t live there, as a citizen.  You’d find differently.  Warts and all, the US is the most accepting of those who are different, and that includes racial and orientation and any other differences.  Europe as a rule is way more conformist and enforces the “normal”, which no, isn’t any of us.

As for women, it depends where in Europe.  I loved how I was treated in Austria, but I was a tourist.  More southerly latitudes, your illusion in European — and you’ll think socialist, natch — enlightenment might not last out your vacation.

I believe individual freedom is best for all minorities, even that ultimate minority of one.

And I like individuals. I like them a lot. In fact, after being subjected to group attacks (mostly psychological) all through 5th and 6th grades, my love for individuals saved my life.  I started by finding them hilarious, honestly, and then went on to find some of them admirable, and sometimes to find the admirable and the despicable together and forgive the later for the sake of the first, because… who is unmixed.

I’ve never behaved badly at a convention, except once and I wasn’t on a panel then.  Someone on the panel said America was finished, and I was half out of my seat and arguing before I realized what I was doing.  I’d have behaved worse but oldest son by-adult-adoption grabbed me by the back of my coat and held me back, reminding me I was out of order.  It was one incident, okay?  And at most I planned to be vociferously argumentative.  Not even swear words.

I might be hard to work with as a writer.  I don’t know. I know there have been horrible delays the last seven or so years, mostly because I was very, very ill and didn’t know it, so I couldn’t account for it.

Edits?  I have an issue? I tend to believe whatever critique people give me, unless it’s out there, other-world outlandish.  My friends who’ve been with me in critique groups know this, which is why I’ve been forbidden by them from being in critique groups anymore. Semi-outlandish critiques I’ll buy whole, and they’ve sometimes destroyed/stopped books.

If I fight back it’s because there is no sane way to fit critique and work in the same world.  Or because someone is kicking history, because, no. I still have to be able to justify decisions made in say historical or alternate history.

Other than that, I’m more likely to be TOO compliant.

Now I know this will do absolutely nothing to counter rumors.  And the ones who think anti-Marxist means sexist, racist, homophobe will decide they were right.  Be that as it may.  There’s only so much you can do for people. Sooner or later they’ll run out of narrative, and maybe come to reality again.  Unless they find a better narrative with spiffier uniforms, and then Lord help us all.

After fifth and sixth grade where, after a point I was put in Coventry and no one would speak to me or acknowledge my existence there is very little that any social group can do to “punish” me that I can’t live with or get around.

And as for making a living? Bah. There’s indie. And so.many.names.  Catch me if you can.

Cons?  Look, remember I can see my numbers in indie.  Cons might sell me one or two books over what I’d normally sell. Maybe. Sometimes none.  They’re important for meeting with my fans, because they want to meet me. But for what they give? Too much effort, too little return.  I go to LC because I get to see most of my friends and fans in one place, all together.  It’s easier. It’s also a family trip and as the boys move away and have families of their own, that will be even more important.  Other than that? It doesn’t matter.  As the boys get more on their own and we have more money, I’ll try to do weekends here and there to see the rest of you.  I teach writing almost every week at MGC, and I’m available to talk on various online platforms. I’m not an hermit, and I don’t need a con to have a platform.

So on the whole, while I know I can’t counter the whispers, I’m lucky to be in the profession I am, when I am. It might set me back a little, and sometimes it makes me sad, but overall? Nothingburger.

All the same, I thought it was useful to point out what I actually believe and who I actually am.

So people suspicious of a narrative have a place to go to and point at.

Those who aren’t suspicious of the narrative, and who let themselves be manipulated and pushed by it?  I can’t help you.

And sooner or later you’ll find that those who live by the narrative die by the narrative.

At that point, you might think I’m an idiot, because despite everything you’ve done and said I’ll be here, ready to help and be your friend.

I’m not an idiot. I’m just tolerant of human frailty and like individuals.  I might never trust you the way I used to, but I’ll help you if I can.  You’d need to be truly heinous and have hurt my friends a lot for me never to change my mind about you.

You see, I like individuals.  And unlike grandiose narratives built of stone, or creeping whispers made of poison, individuals change, individuals surprise you, individuals can be redeemed.

And I like individuals.