There’s No Such Thing as a Clean War by Amanda S. Green

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There’s No Such Thing as a Clean War by Amanda S. Green

If you follow the news, you know one of the trending topics today is word our government might be close to coming to an agreement with the Taliban. As I noted over at Victory Girls earlier this morning, this should be something to celebrate. In this case, it’s not. How can it be when you tie bringing home our troops from what has turned into a 19-year mission where their hands have been tied and victory has not been an achievable option?

Our politicians are to blame but so is the media and certain segments of the general population. Or, as Thomas Sowell wrote in his essay Pacifism and War (Controversial Essays, pg 122)

Although most Americans seem to understand the gravity of the situation that terrorism has put us in—and the need for some serious military response, even if that means dangers to the lives of us all—there are still those who insist on posturing, while on the edge of a volcano. In the forefront are college students who demand a “peaceful” response to an act of war. But there are others who are old enough to know better, who are still repeating the pacifist platitudes of the 1930s that contributed so much to bringing on World War II.

We saw that attitude on full display in the Democratic debates the other night when Elizabeth Warren pledged to not use nuclear weapons in a “first strike”. According to her, there are diplomatic and economic solutions that are better, more effective means of settling a dispute. “[W]e should not be asking our military to take on jobs that do not have a military solution.”

While I agree we shouldn’t ask the military to take on “jobs” that don’t have a military solution, we also can’t tie their hands. That is especially true when you have an enemy determined to destroy our country and all it stands for.

Of course, that becomes increasingly more difficult when members of our own government want to destroy the country and the foundations upon which it’s built.

This isn’t a new problem. Far from it, in fact, as Professor Sowell points out when he writes about a former ambassador under Jimmy Carter after the 9/11 attacks. According to this paragon of diplomatic virtue, it was our responsibility to look into the “root causes” behind the attacks. You see, there are many in the Middle East who have a feeling of “alienation” and “sense of grievance” against us. (Essays, pg 122)

In other words, it was all our fault. Forgive and forget about what was done to us, to non-military targets and civilians. Our capitalist ways were the reason why terrorists targeted our country that awful day.

But, following Professor Sowell’s example, let’s go back further. We’ll have to cross the Atlantic but he gives us a shining example of just how bad this search for the root causes and search for non-military solutions can blow up in our faces. In this particular example, we have British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain.

Now, I know our public schools aren’t giving our children the education they need, so they probably have no clue who Chamberlain was, much less his role in the events leading up to World War II. They don’t know he spoke a good game but that it was just a game in the end. One where the enemy didn’t play by the same rules he did.

“It has always seemed to me that in dealing with foreign countries we do not give ourselves a chance of success unless we try to understand their mentality, which is not always the same as our own, and it really is astonishing to contemplate how the identically same facts are regarded from two different angles.” (Essays, pg 123)

It all sounds good, doesn’t it? And, in many ways, he was right. We do need to understand the motivations of those who would act against us. It helps anticipate what their next move might be. However, it is what we do with that understanding that’s important. If we don’t use it to protect our nation and our allies, we have failed. Good intentions matter not when people are injured or killed because we didn’t act.

Chamberlain, as Sowell points out, approached negotiating with Hitler in much the same manner someone would negotiate a business contract. He wanted “remove the causes of strife or war.” He also wanted “a general settlement of the grievances of the world without war.” (Essays, pg 123) The problem was Hitler didn’t want the same thing. He used those negotiations to delay Britain’s entry into the war. He had no intention of living up to his part of any agreement that saw anything but the complete victory of Nazi Germany.

For 40 years, we’ve seen the same scenario play out in the Middle East. The Taliban, al-Qaeda and ISIS have no desire to play nice with the United States and its allies. Not in the long term. The Taliban will say what is needed to get our troops out of Afghanistan. Then it will return to business as usual, but on a grander scale. We have to ask ourselves if we are willing to pay that price.

Terrorism is alive and well in the Middle East. We would be fools to think it is contained there. We have first-hand experience with it here on our own shores. Giving in to the Taliban for a promise they will enter into a ceasefire with the Kabul government is folly. Believing they will disavow al-Qaeda is believing in a pipe dream. All you have to do is look at their actions to know this diplomatic solution won’t work. The Taliban doesn’t recognize the Kabul government as anything more than an American puppet government. It continues daily attacks against Afghan forces, not to mention our own forces there.

But we are willing to continue the pull-out. Once again proving we are quick to respond but fail at the follow-through.

This isn’t a knock on our military. It would much prefer either being given free rein to go in, kick butt and defeat the enemy to becoming a peace keeping force with its hands tied. This is on the government, the media and the vocal minority who want us to fight only “clean wars” where no one is hurt and no property is damaged. They would prefer us being compliant little sheeples like those people in the original Star Trek where computers fought the war and simply listed who was killed in the latest “strike”. The war was nothing but a war in cyberspace with no explosions, no bullets flying and people willingly walking into the death chambers because that was how to fight war the “right” way.

Whether we were right or wrong to go into Afghanistan, or anywhere else in the Middle East, we’re there. We committed troops to fighting al-Qaeda and ISIS. We tasked these men and women to a mission our government wasn’t ready for them to actually win. That is an insult to them and a disservice to not only our allies but our nation.

Professor Sowell understands the mindset of our enemy better than many in government and certainly so many of those who tell us the war is our fault:

What Winston Churchill understood at the time, and Chamberlain did not, was that Hitler was driven by what Churchill called “currents of hatred so intense as to sear the souls of those who swim upon them.” That was also what drove the men who drove the planes into the World Trade Center. (Essays, pg.123)

These pacifists who, like Chamberlain and like those in the Carter Administration, have blood on their hands. They failed to take into account that we must do more than understand why someone hates us. They failed to understand that there is some hatred that runs so deep, is so pathological in its origins, that diplomatic solutions simply aren’t going to work. They will play the game, just as Hitler did, and laugh at us behind our backs. They will lose respect for our leaders and for our country (Does any of this sound familiar, Obama?) and all the while they will plot our downfall.

As dangerous as the possible agreement with the Taliban is, the thought of having a president who swears in front of the world that we won’t be the first to use nuclear weapons, even if it is to protect ourselves, scares the shit out of me. Hell, even Obama knew better than to change the policy that we reserve the right to use our nukes in a first strike if necessary. But good ole Lizzie, showing her true socialist roots and her true loyalties, apparently has no problem weakening the country in the eyes of its allies and its enemies.

“We don’t expand trust around the world by saying, ‘you know, we might be the first one to use a nuclear weapon,’” she said. “We have to have an announced policy that is one the entire world can live with.”

Riiight. Let’s build trust in our enemies, trust that they can take the first strike against us, making sure we aren’t able to respond. Way to go, Lizzie. You just announced to the world that you have no problem with the US being nuked.

Her comments are much too close to those of George Bernard Shaw, who advocated disarmament in the years leading up to World War II, when asked what the British should do if Hitler’s troops crossed the Channel. His response? “Welcome them as tourists” or words to that effect.

Or, to put it in more current terms, Warren wants to hang a big sign over our country, proclaiming us a “gun free zone”. Sure our enemies will respect our borders then. They’ll respect them exactly the same way shooters have respected gun free zones in schools or businesses that prohibit their employees from concealed carry.

We need to heed Professor Sowell’s words at the end of the essay:

What a shame our schools and colleges neglect history, which could save us from continuing to repeat the idiocies of the past, which are even more dangerous now in a nuclear age. (Essays, pg 124)

What a shame indeed, especially when what little history they are taught follows an agenda aimed at weakening the country and ignoring its fundamental foundations of freedom of the press, of speech, of the right to assemble, the right to bear arms, etc. Yes, recognize and understand the enemy but do not cave to him. Do not show a weak hand. As Senator Lindsey Graham said with regard to the Taliban, we need to keep our boot on their throats. It is the only way to win that particular war.

But first, we need to win the war at home. The war too many of our own politicians are waging against us. That is the one war we can’t afford to lose.

New Worlds For Old

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I’ve been working on a short story I’d promised the Grifty Shades of Fey anthology, which is somewhat associated with Fyrecon, and has had a fundraiser which funded.  If you think I sound confused, I do, since this was all coming at me during the Spring-and-Summer of travel and weddings.

I finished it last night, and though I have another short story due, I think I’m going to concentrate on finishing a short novel, so I can finish the long one, so I can have stuff out and earning in the next month, as it’s already very, very late.

I’ll work on the short story this evening, because most of these shorts are just “it sounds fun to do” but most aren’t going to make me a ton of money.

This one might prove to be an exception, maybe, judging from first reception of them:

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The concept of it is interesting, as first told to us, at least — the description is not “quite” the same.  It was supposed to be based on what our ideal concept of a hero is.  Possibly to show the various differences.

Faced with this, I had a problem, since this is my concept of a hero, as I sent in to them (though for whatever reason, the little notes they asked us to write won’t be included in the anthology. No, I’m not being snerky. I don’t know why. I’m sure the reason is perfectly valid, though.)

So, below is the snippet I originally sent them:

This was a difficult story to write, because my favorite hero is the one that Heinlein describes in Stranger in a Strange land when talking about the Fallen Caryatid, by Rodin:

“But she’s more than good art denouncing bad art; she’s a symbol for every woman who ever shouldered a load too heavy. But not alone women—this symbol means every man and woman who ever sweated out life in uncomplaining fortitude, until they crumpled under their loads. It’s courage, […] and victory.” …… “Victory in defeat; there is none higher. She didn’t give up[…]; she’s still trying to lift that stone after it has crushed her. She’s a father working while cancer eats away his insides, to bring home one more pay check. She’s a twelve-year old trying to mother her brothers and sisters because Mama had to go to Heaven. She’s a switchboard operator sticking to her post while smoke chokes her and fire cuts off her escape. She’s all the unsung heroes who couldn’t make it but never quit.”

Not only is this the type of people I try to write my characters to be, it is also the type of person I try to be. Someone who keeps towards the goal, even though he/she knows it’s impossible to do it and survive.

It’s very difficult, of course, to write a short story specifically about this kind of hero, (instead of letting it shine through over the course of many stories and novels) since most of it is “uncomplaining fortitude” which is not something that translates well to fiction.

And then I remembered “Stella D’Or” and “Nick Rhodes which have been haunting my mind for some time and I realized she (and he, but in a different way) fit the bill.

As it turns out, this will probably also become many stories and novels whether the anthology does well or not.

And here we hit upon the problem I currently have with doing short stories — besides the fact most of them nowadays are not pay-upfront (not exactly a complaint. I could get that by submitting to magazines, but I haven’t bothered in years. Also, to be fair, all my on-spec, because I like the people who ask, stories have paid. Some more, some less, some amazingly well. It’s just… not upfront.)

These days short stories tend to infect me with whole words, which happened again with the Grifty Shades of Fey short story.

Not their fault, of course.  I think it’s an effect of how my brain is working.

So what is the problem? You’ll ask.  Well… The problem is that because I’ve been ill for a long time, and stories arrived ALL THROUGH that time, I have a massive accumulation of novels and series that demand to be written.  I don’t know how many of these it takes to drive a person mad, though I’m fairly sure it’s easier to drive a writer mad than a normal person.

So I need to concentrate on whittling down the noise behind the eyes before I come up with new ones.

The plan right now is to do a long novel (normal size, around 100 to 120k words) and a light novel (30 to 60k words, the size pulp novels used to be) interspersed, to start getting stuff up there and earning (yes, we still have a 10k hole from Norwegian Airlines and the fiasco it turned into, so there will also be writing workshops, but being sick for most of July delayed my getting those up to buy-into.)

Anyway, I need to go work, but I leave you with the opening of the story for Grifty Shades of Fey, which, as you can see, is obviously yet another world:

Purr, My Lovely

Sarah A. Hoyt

When the dame came into my office, she was all legs.

No, really, from my vantage point, low to the ground in front of my desk, all I could see was her legs, going up to a colored triangle under her tent-like skirt.

I twitched my whiskers. Most humans were all legs to us cats. We saw them in other ways. In this case, to my senses, she smelled young and scared and tired: very, very tired.

“What’s up, Toots?” I told her.

Only I didn’t really tell her. Look, I don’t know what the chances are of a crazy 30s experiment trying to create tamable cats who could act as scouts for the army ending up, instead, with … in early twenty first century terms, uplifted cats, with human intelligence. But I know the chances of changing a cat’s mouth so it can pronounce human words are even lower than that.

So, even if the first happened and produced my ancestors, the second was unlikely.

In a pinch, when our other form of communication failed utterly, we, the Protectors, could talk. Sort of. For a limited form of speech. Sometimes our efforts ended up in the humans social media, and our nonsense words were made much fun of.

Only they were never nonsense. It’s just that humans are sadly limited creatures. They don’t know what’s out there. They don’t even know what’s all around them, on Earth. They’re deaf, dumb, blind and think themselves masters of the universe.

If they weren’t so cute, it would be kinder to put them out of their misery. It’s just that we Protectors owe them a debt of sorts. Without them, we’d never have been what we are, never able to do the things we do. Oh, and yeah, they are cute.

So, we do what we can.

To me, what I could was be a PI, with an office in downtown Goldport, Colorado. Into which this young human female had come.

And I was speaking to her the way we speak to most humans. In their minds. Telepathy? I don’t know. I’m not even sure how they define that these days. I do know that cats were always able to reach into human minds and play with their feelings, their emotions, and perhaps their thoughts. We, Protectors, did the same only more so.

So what I’d thought in the girl’s general direction was a “greeting suitable for a young female and circumstances.” What she heard was “What’s up, Toots.” Probably because we were in my second floor office, in a 1930s building, with a pizza parlor on the bottom. And I was a PI.

Okay, that explanation above is almost complete nonsense. It’s not that there weren’t words in what I thought at her. It’s more that our concept of words—

Never mind. There are things I can’t tell across species. From here on out, I’ll pretend I just talked to her, in words, as humans do. I am assured by my human pets that this is how they experience it. I’m assured, also, that I have a deep and masculine voice, with a slightly flippant, irreverent tone.

Which explains why she took a step backward, startled, and looked around wildly.

“Down here,” I said, and as her eyes came to focus on me, I twitched my moustaches and did my best “imitation of human smile” look. Then I jumped on the desk, and said, “I believe this will be more comfortable for you. Mithra Tamuras de Shangrila, at your service.”

She stayed quiet for a while, opening and closing her mouth like a newly landed fish. “Oh,” she said at last, and it seemed like it took her entire concentration to say that. “You are a cat.”

I am, to be exact, a very handsome orange tabby – my pets tell me – with an apple head and clear golden eyes. Not that it matters to other cats, or even other Protectors. We evaluate each other in different ways. But it was good to know that the humans considered me beautiful. It helped.

Yes, it also helped – and many of the other Protectors, in other towns and even in this one, working in other capacities, did it – to have a human act as a front for you, so that you spoke through him and such. There are many such partnerships. A lot of scientists, composers and writers are really just fronts for their cats. Reading Shakespeare, I’ve often wondered– But of course, it’s nonsense, unless our descendants invent time travel.

I’d considered it, but dispensed with it. Sure, one of my pets could stand in for me, but what I did was already so unbelievable and unlikely, it was easier to deal with the clients if they accepted me as I was.

“Well, yes. Mostly,” I said. “Or perhaps ancestrally would be more accurate.”

 

 

Justice!

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The reason I was kicked out of kindergarten (stop laughing) was barracks lawyering. (Really stop laughing.)

What I normally don’t say is that the barracks lawyering wasn’t even on my behalf (REALLY stop laughing.)

Because I came from a relatively well known family, and frankly because my mom and grandmother were fearsome women, I was mostly left alone.  When, after that, I proved a willingness to not only talk back but think circles around the teacher, I was really left alone.

But there was this girl whom — for who knows what reason — the teacher couldn’t stand. Because of that, this girl could do no right. If she coughed she was being cheeky, and should be punished.

I was five, I wasn’t stupid. And I could see that what was happening to this girl was wrong. Really wrong.  So I started going to war on her behalf. (REALLY stop laughing.)

The teacher tried to appease me with candy, and eventually with a glow in the dark rosary (glow in the dark anything was THE hot thing in the village at the time.)

When those failed to work to distract me from her blatant injustice, which was getting my dander up, she took me by the hand and walked me back to grandma, who was told not to send me back ever.

Yes, I can see you guys laughing.  But the thing is, this is one way I’m broken. But it’s not uncommon. It’s just, I think, that other people have a greater tolerance/sense of self preservation/keep their mouths shut more.

And it’s not, btw, that I like confrontation. I hate it. Which is why I’ll swallow any number of issues that affect me.  But seeing blatant injustice to OTHERS, where I know they’re not culpable (with oneself, one is never sure) will get me moving faster than anything else.

I was thinking about this three weeks ago, while we were flying: We were standing in line to board near a little family: father and mother, chubby toddler-boy maybe just at the edge of speech, and cherubic maybe 3 year old girl.

The little boy was still at the crawling age.  When the parents weren’t noticing, the little girl would stomp on her brother’s hands.  And if he pulled them back, she’d go after him again.  After a while he started wailing.  The mother picked him up, but never noticed what her daughter was doing.  The daughter then took the opportunity (I presume under “fairness” to ask to be picked up by the father.

And I thought: That girl is going to grow up to be a piece of work.

We all know people like that. We all, our whole lives, have watched people like that get away with cr*p.

It’s a great part of our need to believe in justice greater than human. Because I’m sure even if I’d intervened and told the parents what the little cherub would have been up to they’d turn on me. (There was that look to the whole thing.) They wanted to believe that little girl was an angel. And she’s going to make them think badly of her brother by the time the poor thing can talk.

This is why even now, even though I’m more sophisticated, there is some satisfaction in reading that sort of book where the evil little girl grows up to be miserable, while the little boy gets rewarded.

I think it is that ‘thirst for justice’ that drives a lot of the crazy political movements. The problem being of course, that movements are easily infiltrated and controlled by the man and conniving little girls.

And who knows? Maybe they convince themselves they’re good somehow, because they’re compensating for their private and personal evil by their public and anonymous “good.”

Which is not good at all, most of the time, since they’re bending it to their aims.

My husband has lately added to “you can’t hug every cat” when I feel the need to save/help someone and we don’t have the resources, “You can’t fight every dragon.”

And he’s right.  As with that little horror in the airport, I’ll have to leave justice in other hands.

However, the incident was good for reminding me that there is true evil. Evil that is that way because it LIKES to be evil and can get away with.

This is not “I had a rough childhood” or “society caused me to be this way.”
There are any number of people (maybe even a majority, I have no idea) who simply enjoy hurting others, with a bonus of getting some benefit to themselves, if they can.

Knowing that, one cannot believe in “social justice.”  No two people are alike, and even the most technically “oppressed” group has elements in it that will exploit any attempts at redress. At the same time the crusaders, campaigning for justice will inevitably include a large number (if not a majority) of these evil people, who are in it, not to lift the oppressed group but to hurt those they want to hurt.

Make your justice small, direct, applied. Make your charity the same.  The bigger the group, the more chances it’s been perverted.

Oh, and raise your kids yourself, if you can. Institutions are notorious for giving the upper hand to sneaky evil.  Every one of us who has been in a school or group babysitting arrangement can attest to that.

And if you can’t raise them yourself, be sure whoever is raising them actually pays attention to them, as individuals.

You can’t bring justice to everything and everyone, but you can train kids out of some of the worst behavior early.  And maybe they — and society — are better off for that. They’re certainly not worse.

You can’t fight every dragon. But you can fight the baby one who is burning a hole under your sink. Before it gets to big.

And as for me, I can’t promise I won’t sometimes get the dander up and go give St. George a hand.  And even a glow in the dark rosary won’t distract me.

A Passion For Cubbyholes A Blast From the Past from February 2015

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A Passion For Cubbyholes A Blast From the Past from February 2015

Yesterday I took a shashay down to Otherwhere Gazette, where someone in the comments of the posts was asking what the difference was between us and the SJWs, except they had a college degree and we didn’t.

The assumption dumbfounded me. Of my friends, I’m one of the least educated ones, as Kate and Amanda pack multiple graduate degrees, Dave Freer is a doctor (of fishology. Okay, it might be marine biology) and Tedd Roberts… well, a supervisor to doctoral students, besides being a doctor himself. As for the people involved with Sad Puppies, I have clue zero what Brad’s degree is. It doesn’t normally come up in conversation. I do know that Larry has an accounting degree for which he most certainly went to college (and paid his own way.)

Myself, as most of you know, I’m about a year short of a doctorate and now not likely to ever take it, because it was in languages, but over thirty years those have gone rusty and besides what good does it do me, now?

[Addendum: I just wanted to note I also have brilliant friends without college degrees and that I don’t consider a degree a stamp of intelligence.  Never have.  I took my degree in the hopes of a secure job.  Until the third year I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know. (And then it was Swedish.)  Because the Author up there has a sense of humor, other than two brief stints teaching when Dan was unemployed, my degree has been of zero use for my actual work.  And I’ve learned more about areas like history that I never took in college than I ever did about the areas I did take in college.]

So the assumption that we didn’t have college degrees puzzled me. It reminded me of when a new girl about ten years younger than us, joined our writers’ group and assumed Rebecca Lickiss (physicist) and myself had no degrees. Why? Because we were married and had kids and chose to stay home with them. Therefore we clearly weren’t “educated.”

If you’re doing the sinal salute right now – fingers on either side of bridge of nose, head slightly bowed – yeah. I was too last night. It’s like they can’t conceive of people who have been “educated” choosing a different life path from them or even having different opinions.

I could say this was an effect of maleducation and their having illusions of intelligence. I.e. they let some college professors convince them that there is a “smart path” and a “stupid path” and the “smart path” for good little boys and girls with good grades obligates everyone to be a clone of whatever the professors envision.

I could, but we all went through the same maleducation and the same lectures which are mostly supposed to sell a point of view. And a lot of them are no dumber than we are. Yet we emerged… different. In fact, it’s almost a joke among my friends, and something that makes my kids’ blood run cold as they pursue their specialties, that few of us work at what we studied in college. And some of us have had intricately convoluted paths to get to doing what we actually enjoy.

So something different is at work here. It is in fact as though they thought that being “smart” obligated you to be an exact clone of them. As thought “smart and educated” were a category under which you get filed when you prove worthy of a college degree. (Which these days is not exactly hard. In my day, sonny! Also, get off my lawn.)

My son calls Wreck it Ralph the evilest movie ever made, because the moral of it at the end is “you should stay where you’re assigned.”

Yesterday I didn’t watch – but Dan was watching in the family room while I cooked – this movie where people got assigned a “role” and a station in adolescence. (That the authors thought there were only five and one was “thinker” was kind of funny. And sad. But mostly funny.)

I have no idea what the movie was, but what struck me was that as with Wreck it Ralph, the movie seemed to believe this putting of people in pigeon holes was a good thing.

It is a lust I’ve noticed among the people on the left, in the last oh, ten years. People should be assigned places according to their capacity judged by an “impartial” third party. That way they wouldn’t have the great unwashed crowding them about. Every person in his place and a place for everyone.

It’s all of a piece with their believing that the government must be brought into the most minute transactions and decisions affecting someone. There must be after all a government authority that decides I must have healthcare insurance, and I must have the package my ‘betters’ designed, providing for both birth control and abortion, even though I’d only need the first if I had a completely different body and I’d only have the second if I had a lobotomy. There must be a (benevolent) government dictating for whom one must bake wedding cakes. No decision too large and no decision too small when it comes to you not making it.

Because, you see, you’re just a widget, supposed to fit into a slot and do what you’re supposed to do, while all decisions, all rules control what you can do, so you’re no different than all those other widgets in the same slot.

This is of a piece with their inventing a multitude of genders (how many was it at last count, 41?) including “seeking” which means “don’t know.” It’s like they believe being a man or a woman and gay or straight means you have to absolutely conform to the stereotypes. If you don’t, you need a new word to describe what you are because every widget must be described so the right slot is found for him/her/shim/sher/blob. The seeking part always makes me think goes something like this “ZOMG, I’m not being attracted to anyone right now. I don’t know what I am. Seeking, seeking, seeking.” If you imagine that said in a little robot voice it’s just about perfect.

What amazes me is their assumption that not just them but EVERYONE would be happy in a world like that, where each human is put in a cubby and expected to live there forever.

I do them the justice of thinking they’re mistaken even about themselves. Particularly about themselves. A lot of the people who hold hardest to the idea that every little human comes stamped with a function (sort of like an egg) and an identification which determines his/her destiny are the sort of people who wake up on Tuesday morning and decide their real identity is dragon, something previously unsuspected in their sixty years of life. They’re the people who abandon a marriage of twenty years to “go find themselves” because apparently they somehow slipped behind the sofa cushions unnoticed. They’re the people whose resume goes from barista to physicist to astrologer and back again.

I think that’s why they lust for the ordered world. They feel out of control, bewildered by too many options, and crave an ordered world where someone would psychically know where they belong and put them in the place where they’d be happy.

Two problems: first who can do that? We don’t have immortals among us, who can read the heart of men (yeah, and women and seeking, and dragons too) and tell exactly where you belong and where you’d be happy. Himself up there might be able to tell you that but He didn’t and gave you free will instead. Second what if there isn’t a place you’d be happy? Perhaps you weren’t built to be contented. Perhaps you’re someone who never quite fits in and pokes every away and towards the edges. Those have existed throughout history and there really is nothing wrong with being one of them.

In fact, the attempts by communist regimes to do this sort of thing were all more or less disastrous. Human beings, real human beings, aren’t easy to second guess or to “place” and tend to resist having their lives dictated to them.

So, beyond not making assumptions about the IQ or education of their opponents, I’d counsel our friends on the left (or anyone who thinks like that, though for some reason that’s mostly on the left) to possess their souls in patience and realize this utopia they seek is not only impossible, but it would be a nightmare for everyone, even the bureaucrats assigned to assigning people. (Can you imagine a more soul-eating job? For the corrupt it would be a chance at more corruption. For the conscientious trying to guess ‘right’ would lead them to suicide.)

You have free will. Learn to use it. And kindly remove your boot from my neck and your governmental mandates from my life.

They will not bring me happiness, and I will ensure keeping them there and attempting to lord it over me doesn’t bring you any either.

Because I am not widget. I am a human being with distinct opinions, thoughts, and power of decision. You will never be able to understand the complexity and contradictions in a single human being, much less mandate what will make that person happy forever or what role they could fulfill for the rest of their lives.

And that’s a good thing.

 

Sheep and Goats

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The left is more social than the right.  In general.  By which I don’t mean they’re more socialist (they’re that too right now, and therein lies their danger, in embracing an anti-human and destructive philosophy) but they’re more social.

Humans are social apes, just just because we are that, it doesn’t mean all of us are all that social.

I used to discuss this with Dave Freer who is a real biologist and has observed primates (and other mammals) in the wild, and he says there is a range from really social, needs to follow the group to extremely resistant and even solitary/weird.

I’m not going to say the right — in the US, it’s different in Europe — is all composed of these “non conforming” Oddities, but it’s closer to them in the continuum.  And perhaps the right as it exists in the US only exists in the US because we’re a relatively recent (in genetic terms) frontier, which always attracts non-conforming humans.  And there is a genetic component to your degree of sociability.

I think if you have a two-party system, you’re always going to have a system that is more responsive to those who want a group and to really fit in well with the group, and those who just want to be left alone.

It is permissible to think of the future, should Marxism be as thoroughly discredited as it would be in any world where the human race survives, as having the “I wan to care for you with the power of my regulations” party and the “Leave me alone party.”  And of us who are leave-me-aloners thinking through and sometimes voting for the other side, because, well, on things like borders or say outlawing murder they (sometimes) have a point.

The fear of course is that when international Marxism outwears its shiny and its value as a social-positioning aid, the left will find a belief just as poisonous, such as say the European right’s national Marxism, or the weird kind of “individuals must be subdued” religious fervor I’m seeing more and more often from Europeans on line. (Often flying under the flag of Catholicism, mind you, but it could be any religion.)

And it could happen startlingly fast.

Because these are creatures of the band, creatures who want to ape those they think have “high status” and get some of that on them.

This is how revolutions happen over night.  And they’re not happy making. I am not 100% sure I’d be any better under that kind of regime than the current one. Yay for borders being defended and some pride in our nation, but … even leaving aside most Americans decide I’m not quite white, there’s …. the mind and the tendency to poke holes in narratives.  I mean, I left Europe ONCE already.

But we also have to accept that this “follow the band” instinct is probably the majority of the human race.  Fortunately, like every other human trait, it’s a sliding scale, so most humans aren’t SLAVISH followers.

Of course, in a society where communication is mostly achieved en mass (“mass media”) the influence of the slavish followers of whatever is in power is going to be disproportionate.

Which is why leftists did so well under a mass media/top down entertainment and art/mass education regime.  They will. Saying “But we should have” is ridiculous.  Yeah, someone should have, early on, but the leave-me-aloners just wanted to be left alone.

The thing is, the species can’t survive with just “followers”.  Not for long. There’s too much chance to careen down blind alleys that make no sense.

Or blind alleys that work but are utterly static. It could be said, over time, that is the fate of humanity.  Look at our really old civilizations, like China.  “Oh, I have an idea. Let’s burn all the books and kill 2/3 of the population” seems to recur.

I suspect the west is different only because of the black plague.  It broke the social structure and allowed a new (and weird) one to flourish.  In many ways, as a species, we’re still processing the Great Death. (I wonder, and this is idle thoughts of an sf/f mind, because there’s no way to prove or even investigate, but we know some genetic traits are linked to both psychological traits and susceptibility to disease, if the Plague killed more sheep than goats, in general terms. If more followers than loners died — perhaps because of course, it was more transmissible in close proximity — enough that hereditarilly it flipped the genetic balance of the west.  This might be possible to study in terms of more/less affected countries and the subsequent ideas of freedom.  Who knows. And it makes no difference. It’s just an interesting thing to poke at, and how my mind tends to work. And no, it’s not my job and definitely not today. Still half-sick and working at short story, and we had a bunch of weird “household” stuff to deal with this morning.)

But it’s important to remember that sometimes just because a strategy works really well with Mass Media, it doesn’t mean the left is doing it by design or really consciously at all. It could just be the reflex of people who really, really, really are good at “follow the leader.”

The current “Go back where you came from” trend illustrates both how this works on the left, and the dangers of letting the followers have sole control of ANY asylum, no matter its organizing principle.  They are sort of like a distributed mob.

Look, some of you have met me. A lot more have heard me in recorded podcasts, readings, and interviews.

I swear my accent HAS to be getting worse, too. Because I used to be able to go to the store without someone asking me if I was from Russia. Or perhaps my body language is now more native and sets people off when they hear the accent. Or perhaps because I lived in a small area, and saw the same people every day and they talked to each other, they stopped asking.

Anyway: no one listening to me is unaware I wasn’t raised here.

Number of times ANYONE in any political circles has told me to go back where I came from: ZERO.

So, why, since the left decided that’s what Trump said (it’s not) are all sorts of democrats (Including severely heterosexual Cory Booker) claiming to have been told to “go back where you came from.”

Look, if no one tells ME to go back where I came from, why would they say this to Cory Booker who looks and sounds completely American?

They wouldn’t. There is no sense in it.  Not even Trump did that. NOBODY does that.

So are they lying?  Some, I’m sure are.  Some are hearing it.  Because it’s the new hotness in victimhood. And victimhood is hot, hot, hot.  And they want to be victims in the new, hot, socially approved way.

There are, heaven knows, lots of situations where people can imagine they heard something. Or remember hearing something. And if they’re by nature followers, they hear what “everyone is hearing.”

This is how #metoo went off the rails in a second.

This is how the left gets obsessed with things, and all pile on them/imagine it happened to them/see them everywhere.  They have a mob mentality, and they become a “distributed mob.”

It’s all ape-signaling up and down the line.

It’s baffling for us, who aren’t part of it, or inclined to it, and we tend to think it is on purpose, it’s a strategy and that it was planned.

Oh, sometimes, perhaps. But most of the time it doesn’t need to be.  There is no conspiracy, just everyone wanting to be seen as being right and smart and good.

This is a huge danger.  Honestly, given the centralization of communications in the 20th century, perhaps its huge butcher bill was light, compared to what it could have been.  Because mobs got to mob.

Distributed/individual communications and entertainment are best.

We can — even us — long for a mythical time of “everyone believed this” but the truth is there was never any such thing. Just the appearance of it.  And the appearance of it puts us in extreme danger as a species.

When the entire country (or the entire Western World) becomes a band, we’re all likely to go careening after the “new way of signaling we’re the best” which unfortunately more and more tends not to be innocuous stuff like “we all wear purple outfits and hats five times taller than we are” but truly dangerous stuff like “Believe ALL women” (Hell, I wouldn’t even tell you to believe all Sarahs. Sometimes you shouldn’t even believe all me. I’ve times of being feverish, for instance, and hearing things.) or “Let’s erase borders.”  Or of course “Let’s kill all x.”

We on the right need to remember that, remember it’s not always intentional, even if it’s irritating, and that the only way to counter it is to make communications/entertainment/etc. distributed. To make sure there is never, ever again a single “respected voice” that commands discourse.

And what the left needs to remember is that they’re band followers by nature.  This is masked, because the hotness for the last 200 years has been to be “unique” and “rebels” so they often imagine they’re rebels.

There’s nothing wrong with being highly sociable and highly socially adaptive.  You’re more like to be very successful than us goats, for one. And more likely to have more offspring (which is why we Odds need frontiers.) You are also more likely to survive upheavals, revolutions and invasions, by adapting to the invader VERY quickly.

The problem is that when you utterly dominate, it’s also easy to careen from totalitarianism into totalitarianism.  And it could flip on a dime.

And the rest of us don’t feel like being victims of your enthusiasms, along with you.

And if the species is going to survive, we need both sheep and goats, and neither utterly dominant.  (Though goats survive better in high change and frontiers.)

As for me, for us, let’s go out and work on this culture thing, and create alternate channels and alternate modes of being.

Do it for humanity.

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

 

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 E. M. FONER:  Independent Living.

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In space, nobody can hear retirees complain about the food.

What do a group of retirees leaving Earth and a young woman in EarthCent’s new witness protection have in common? They’re all going to live on Flower, an enormous alien colony vessel employed by Eccentric Enterprises to travel a circuit of far-flung human communities. But Flower is a sentient ship that’s been traveling the galaxy for 20,000 years and has her own opinions about how her inhabitants should conduct themselves.

I wrote Independent Living because readers of my EarthCent Ambassador series were always asking what happens in the galaxy where the Stryx aren’t around to watch every second. The answer is, about what you’d expect. In terms of the EarthCent universe, Independent Living would be the seventeenth book in the sequence, but it can be read as a standalone.

ALMA BOYKIN:  Distinctly Familiar: Familiar Tales Book Six.

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Temptation lurks in marshes between the land and the sea…

Lelia and Tay discover a new puzzle…

Fundraising collides with a spell gone awry…

A mage discovers the impossibility of arguing with almost two-thousand-pounds of Familiar…

There’s something distinctly familiar, and Familiar, about these urban fantasy short stories, set in a world like our own, almost.

Short stories, 46,000 words.

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: BOX

Update on Sarah’s Health

Hi, this is Sarah:

Yeah, well, since this one has scared me, as I can’t seem to shake it, I thought I might as well tell you what’s going on.
This is some sort of weird virus that either husband brought back from Ohio or son brought home as a gift from his place of education.  I incline towards the second, as lovely daughter in law dragged this — or something startlingly like it — for about a month before I got it.

Of course, the answer might be: both.  Since this stuff seems to be going around health-care and elder-care facilities.

OR maybe someone is putting pins in that virtual Sarah Voodoo doll. Though I’m assured those dolls are of Straw-Sarah.

It is only  because I saw DIL struggle with it, that I haven’t run for the hills or my doctor’s office. Or more likely a psychiatrist’s office.  While in my husband, despite these other symptoms in common, there is enough coughing to make it obvious he’s very ill, in me it is just extreme tiredness, depression, intermittent ear/sinus pain and bizarre body temperature disregulation.  Yesterday afternoon I spent under a winter blanket, wearing my thickest flannel shirt (It’s padded. I wear it when I go outside in negative degrees to shovel snow) and feeling coolish, in a 77 degree room.  I also felt so tired that holding up the kindle paperwhite tired me out.

I do sometimes have coughing fits, and sometimes even productive of (forgive TMI) highly condensed, almost dry bits of phlegm.

Seems to be a virus. Both DIL and husband went in and got told to treat symptoms.

Join to my sufferings the fact I don’t feel I should allow this to sideline me, because d*mn it I have books that waited through last year’s… issues and this year’s travel, and I need to finish stuff, for my own mental health. Need to.

In addition to this, I need to be well for the week and change off signings of Guardian at Colorado Springs and Denver. (No, I don’t know why not also Utah, though I don’t mind not spending two weeks on this. Particularly after how much I need to write.)

So my greatest trouble right now is being very annoyed with this whole thing.

Judging from the course of this in DIL, I should be okay for the signings. But I must write, I must.

On the signings: details on the Baen site, and I’ll be holding a couple of contests for copies of Guardian signed by both Larry and I, as well as telling you how to acquire your very own double-signed book-cover-card in the middle of August.

Till then, keep me in your thoughts and prayers.  It’s not that this illness is anywhere near fatal, but that I really need to be well enough to write.  I don’t mind writing in bed, but writing MUST happen or my family will be in some trouble.

So, keep me in mind.

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A Few Hours Late and Some Concentration Short

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I was going to put up a guest post today, but this is much to late, and I don’t like to disrespect my guests by giving them short time.

We’re still sick-ish.  Starting to swing up, I hope, though I’ve had downswings before after feeling better, so who knows?  I’m hoping having washed everything that could be washed in hot water and soap and disinfected everything that could be disinfected with bleach cuts that cycle short.  But with some viruses, all you can do is get sick again and again, each time weaker till it’s out of the system. I hate this type of thing because it usually takes a month to fully clear out of my system, and the last one left me feeling tired and out of sorts for another month, which apparently has a name and everything “post viral syndrome.”  Eh.

This is particularly sad because today is our 34th civil wedding anniversary (we had a civil and religious ceremony, six months separated due to INS vagaries.)  I spent some idle time wishing we could send our present mind and personality back to that young couple 34 years ago.  Oh, the things we should fix. The things we’d do better!

Oh, the shock we’d give everyone who knew us then! And the new mistakes we’d discover to make.

All in all it’s not so bad, and once the boys are off on their own, provided health holds (ish) we will be fine. Most likely.

Today is also younger son’s moving day, as he’s moving back in with us for 3 weeks or so, until his next apartment is ready.  He’s still looking for part-time or work at home work, so he can pay his rent and lift some of the burden.  Hopefully he’ll find some paper-book-typesetting clients.  He’s really more of a designer than a typesetter, and (no, not because I’m his mom.  I tend to be more severe on my kids) does excellent work.  And that can bridge the gap, as he’s hearing stuff like “yeah, we’ll have work in September/October but not now.)

We had a moment of panic as we thought he’d be left alone to move, and being fond and foolish parents were getting ready to drive an hour and a half down to help him, but he told us not to and got some friends to come help.  Curiously, we spent our civil wedding day helping my MIL and her then husband move between apartments.  However, in light of sinus/ear/upper respiratory stuff, I’m glad we’re not echoing that.

Our plans for this weekend were to do something we hadn’t done in… 3? years, since (for reasons having to do with university loan system, etc) our finances became crunched, and go to a nice hotel, and just write and take walks in the park, and just unwind together.  We used to do that once a month and weirdly these tended to be very productive, both in writing, and having time to talk to each other without being interrupted by cats/daily life considerations.  Yes, we are total dorks, and we often talk about plots which in turn feeds more writing.

However we decided going away to cough at each other and spread virus to unsuspecting people in restaurants was not really a good thing.  Maybe there will be another opportunity in a week or two.

Meanwhile I have a late short story, a novel I need to finish, I’m finishing processing laundry from yesterday.

Maybe somewhere in all this we’ll have time to take a walk together at sunset, when it’s cooler.  We can hope.

Of course the important thing is not the anniversary but the marriage.  And that’s fine.  Or will be once we stop coughing at each other.

I’ll return on Monday with a real post.

 

Today I Got The Libertarian Up

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Last night I got very, very ill.  Those of you who came across me on social media know I was barely coherent, and having trouble thinking to the end of a sentence.

Truth is, I’ve been sickish since Dan came home, almost two weeks ago.  He brought it back.

It’s a virus. My son and DIL had it before us, and it takes forever to get rid of.  The first week is extreme tiredness, and then the sinus and ear infection hit, which is where I am right now.

Having seen husband go through this, and hit the chest stuff, I don’t WANT it. I also don’t have time to be this ill.  We’ve been looking for a particular medicine that all our medical friends told us to have, but we couldn’t find it in any store.

Finally someone told us it contains sudafed, so it’s behind the counter and you have to sign for it.  Which meant, instead of the drive-through, we had to go into the store and spread this joy, potentially.

As we were signing for it I said something like “This is crazy. We’re sick, we just want the stupid med.”

The cashier said, “Well, that’s what happens. A few people spoil it for everyone.”

I didn’t answer, because, why would I? I don’t want to have security called, and I was hitting that level.

But in the car, I told my husband “So, because of a few sh*theads, the government has to make it impossible for us to get necessary meds.  What sense does that make? So 1% of people want to kill themselves, and we’re going to twist ourselves all our of shape to stop it?  It won’t work. And it will make the rest of us suffer.”

Look, as I said before, I’m very conflicted on legalizing drugs. I think they should be legalized simply because I don’t believe the government should have power over them. But I don’t think Pot is magical and frankly I think most drugs are more trouble than they’re worth.  And yes, I’ve gone through some pretty rough patches unmedicated, because I want minimal interference with my system. (note we’re seeking help for bad virus two weeks in…) Because everything has a price.

But this? Let’s keep people from making meth, by making a beneficial medicine hard to get?

Adult humans are not 2 year olds. If they want to destroy themselves, they will. If you make it impossible for them to cook/make/take meth, they’ll take something else.  We’re now at a point where scary designer drugs appear every year. (See Flaka.)

Isn’t a culture of responsibility, with severe punishments for the things you do WHILE ON DRUGS and/or because of drugs better? Isn’t treating adults like adults better?

You’re not going to save EVERYONE.  Some people really want to destroy themselves.  I see trying to keep things from kids (though educating them not to get on this sh*t is better, honestly. Not full proof, no. Some also want to destroy themselves. But better.) But adults?

Let people grow up.  We are not wards of the state.

I remember spending a year (when kid was 2) per kid playing keep away.  That’s because 2 is “the happily suicidal age”.  But as soon as possible, I taught the kid to be safe, instead.  Yeah, sometimes they still hurt themselves. No, #2 son, you shouldn’t have danced in socks on the edge of a cast iron tub, to entertain your brother. In my defense, it never occurred to me ANYONE (much less a four year old) would do that, so I never told him not to. But that’s the point. You can’t anticipate everything.  You can tell the kid not to run with scissors, but you’ll probably forget “and don’t run holding chandelier crystals, because they’re pointed.”

And adults who really want to kill themselves will find ways. I don’t understand why the rest of us must be kept from medicine, because a few will want to destroy themselves.  Tell them what it’s doing to them, and they let go.  A few will turn around.  And many will destroy themselves.

They’re not two years old. The government is not their parent.  Let them go.

This Little Light of Mine

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The time has come to speak of many things, none of them as romantic as wax seals and kings, let alone dodos, but all of them things that must be talked about.  And I don’t mean just on this blog, or just by me.

People who have read this blog know I often refer to having “come out.” While this is the appropriate term, it has nothing to do with sexual inclination.  At least, I don’t think we’ve reached the kind of societal bizarro-unanimity about orientation where it is needed to come out as straight. Perhaps I’m wrong, but I don’t think so, and part of it is the reason that we must speak of things.

My coming out was of a political nature.  My gay libertarian friends (with perhaps one exception) assure me it was much harder to come out as libertarian or anti-Marxist than to come out as gay. It was more likely to materially damage their social life and professional prospects.

And I came out of the political closet in more than full knowledge of this.

Having grown up when and where I did, in a country riven by political divisions, and having had a vital grade held hostage but having been told I could have it if only I would join the Communist Party (and refused, knowing full well what that meant for my prospects in the sciences, yes) I didn’t suffer from the happy-go-lucky notion that my leftist friends would simply smile and say “Oh, you’re libertarian. That’s interesting. It’s at odds with what I think libertarians are. Would you explain to me why you have these ideas?”

For one, I’d lurked enough in leftist circles in both Europe ad the US to realize it was not just a set of political beliefs but a deeply held identity. I had to. The experiences above had schooled me early that the left was zealously guarding the avenues of approach to certain professions.

In Portugal, the only way I could make money from writing was journalism, and it took me about ten seconds of interning in a newspaper to realize that I could refuse to join a party (the excuse being I didn’t like to be tied down/do meetings.) It was weird, but “acceptable.”  Or I could join a bizarre, laughable party (when pushed, I told people I was a monarchist.)  BUT if they viewed me as in serious opposition to leftist ideas and leftist solutions, they would make sure I never worked anywhere where I might have access to mass communication or even the minds of the young (which was my fall back position. Teaching.)

This dominance of what was until recently a fairly narrow channel of access to the public minds — and those on the right who say we ceded it can f*ck right off. No. The left is very good at running purity tests above competence tests. Part of the reason their skinsuited institutions tend to collapse, yes, but also a road to total domination.  — has twisted the left into something very odd.

Not only has their absence of conscience-checkers: i.e. journalists who’ll track them down with the same ruthlessness they track down republicans (anyone want to imagine what would happen to a Republican president who had it on with a woman under his authority while in the oval office? Because I bet you money it wouldn’t be “it’s just sex.”); partly because of the reporting and uniformity of voices everywhere from education to news reporting to the arts, to entertainment, the left became convinced that its opinions, its view of the world, its beliefs were “What everyone who is smart and good believes.”

People were educated in this. I was. Essays with Marxist points of view were rewarded, for instance, and those that didn’t have them were derided.  The “right” conclusion to take from history was the Marxist one, etc.  Every educated person believed this way.

Humans are social animals. We want to identify with those who are seen as smart and/or good. We want to climb the hierarchy.

It is permissible to say socialism has flaws, but not that the whole system is a pile of manure. You can be a concerned socialist trying to fix (minor) glitches in the “best” system, but not to say it’s just an oligarchy and the oligoy are not the best in this case, and it stinks to high heavens.

If you say something like that you’re for individual liberty, they turn this around by saying you want the strong ruling the weak, because everyone knows without pervasive government interference/control, it ends up in feudalism. Because that’s the way humans are.  (The fact that they don’t see that humans in government are also just humans is… amazing. Like government rinses away all your bad instincts, instead of power corrupting.)  (They base this, btw, on things like the very corrupt and incapable of reproducibility Zimbardo experiments.)

Anyway, because the concentration of mass media and communication in leftist hands, their point of view became not just one point of view, but the only point of view. And because people with different points of view were invisible, they became demonized.

This is very human, very tribal. It’s “those people there, over the hill, they’re real bastards and not at all like us.”

Only the hill was a mountain of self-censorship and character assassination.

And you knew — if you were in the slightest way aware of social currents — that it would hit you if you ever stepped outside the “tribe.”  You still do.

When I started reading dissenting points of view from what “everybody knows” I felt dirty. I would have a physical reaction where I started shaking and sometimes felt nauseous. I actually believed the demonization of certain people as racist/sexist/homophobic, and wouldn’t read them for fear of contagion.

Except, you see, I’m broken. I have a mental defect which got me in more trouble as a young kid than I care to mention: I run towards that which scares me.

It doesn’t mean I embrace it. (Mostly when I ran towards, say, the sound of boys being violent I ended up fighting them.  OTOH when we first lived in a big city in the US, which scared me because of the image of big cities in the US projected in Europe, I ended up loving it.) It means I have to go see what it is, so it will stop scaring me.

So I kept reading things that they told me were evilbad.  Yes, Sowell was one of the first, starting with his newspaper columns. And very persuasive, because, you know, economics are and I’d observed some of the bad effects of the stuff he said was bad  in Portugal, first hand.  At some point someone gave me Hayek.  Someone and I’ll never know who, because my entire circle at the time was very liberal and I was NOT a public figure, sent me a subscription to Reason, back when it was Virginia Postrel’s thing. Weirdly, reading fiction by those evilbad racist, sexist, homophobes was the last barrier to come down.  The conclusion?  Well, I do in fact think some of those people nurture beliefs as authoritarian as Marxism, if different. But the vast majority of them writing evilbad fiction, are really just writing fiction. And some of them are incredibly skilled and shine a mirror on things I’d never questioned, and make me think (which is not the purpose of fiction, but it’s one of its values.)

At first it felt like going insane.  And I knew better than to mention my increasingly unorthodox opinions in gatherings of writers.

One of the things the left utterly believes is that the right is not as creative.  It’s one of those things in which having the megaphone and preventing anyone else from being heard (certainly from being heard without consequences) fails them.  See the reasoning is this:

If you’re right wing (which for the left is defined as anyone outside of the narrow band from Lenin to Stalin) you support the status quo. You are a good boy/girl who has never questioned anything he/she was taught, and therefore you are not a creative person/someone who takes risks.

I’m not even sure that was ever true, as the status quo can be questioned from well outside the authoritarian left. BUT even if it were ever true, it’s not so in the most recent 50 years (my lifetime.)

In that time, as detailed above, the heights of culture have been commandeered by the left.  “Everybody knows” is leftist. Leftism is a positional good, to which all the rich flock, so they can think of themselves as good and smart too. The education is overwhelmingly leftist and more so the further you advance. The good boys and girls or as I used to say in Portugal “the children of good families” are all hard core left (partly because of guilt because their model of the world tells them that they or their ancestors did something wrong to become rich, and partly because that’s the way to keep/stay in power.)

This means if you dissent, they’ll suddenly “realize” you’re not just evil bad, but stupid and not creative. Because to think otherwise would require them to question their whole system.

Also, and more importantly, advancement in the arts can be had for the price of spouting “impeccable” leftist opinions, whatever those are at the moment (like most top down systems, they change at the whim of those on top).  Life on the easiest setting, you could call it.  This doesn’t mean all leftist authors are horrible (or artists, or film makers) but that if you are a mediocre creator, you can get very far and advance in the hierarchy by being more lefty than thou.

This means enough non-entities have made the upper echelons that they feel threatened by EVEN LEFTISTS with a particle of creativity.  Which explains Hollywood. And possibly the mess that most publishing is (though frankly, there’s many other things in there.)

This in turn means that they must hold onto the idea that they are teh most creative! ever! by virtue of their politics, and that giving the other side a voice is crazy talk, because that tribe over there is not creative at all! They’re just saving the public from our drek! Really! (The number of times I heard that in meetings and mailing lists where no one knew what I was is not even funny.)

Which in their minds justifies everything they do keep us out. Starting with character assassination and threats.

The problem with this cycle is what I said above: the fate of skinsuited institutions.  When you hire and promote for ANY OTHER REASON THAN COMPETENCE (and that includes the old “because you’re of good families” not just Marxism) you corrode the very foundations of what makes institutions/industries work.  You create a venal, non-functioning system which destroys itself.

And we can’t afford that. We just can’t. Not without a few billion deaths.

In many ways civilization, as in, that which has allowed humans an unprecedented level of wealth and security on this planet like nothing our ancestors even could dream of, is threatened.

It is threatened not just because Marxism is uniquely dysfunctional and out of touch with reality, but because it’s become not only the only voice allowed, but THE pathway to power and recognition.

Whenever an opinion or in this case a system of opinions becomes dominant enough to present a non-meritocratic path to power, society will die.  This was true of the Catholic Church when Europe was a de-facto theocracy. It’s true of the Muslim countries, stagnant for 700 years. And it’s true of socialist dominance in Europe.

I don’t remember the Heinlein quote, so I’ll paraphrase: I’ve never yet heard an opinion or an idea so dangerous that it must be suppressed.

I’ve heard revolting ideas, sure. One of them being that everything we do is predestined, or that humans are fungible, and should think like their various groups. Another being that you need to be controlled for your own good. Or that your skin color dictates what and who you are.

All of those are revolting and vaguely insane (i.e. at variance with reality.) Or sometimes not “vaguely” but “out there” insane.

That doesn’t mean they should be forbidden or that expressing them should be suppressed or demonized. Sometimes what the crazy person proffers as a solution is not just wrong, but nauseatingly wrong.  BUT what they’re SEEING has validity. They just misdiagnose the problem.

Which means more discussion is needed, not less. More study of history is needed, not less. More introspection is needed, not less.

Some of my opinions (a lot of them, if you consider I started as an European which means a species of socialist) have undergone marked changes. Some of them in recent years.

I’ve come to the conclusion, for instance, that open borders and free movement of people on a global scale, with no national checks, is insane, PARTICULARLY for a country of laws. Because culture has real heft and is not quickly changed (in the individual it’s painful to change. In the group it takes generations) opening your borders to all comers means dissolution.  Turns out most humans don’t really believe in laws, or at least not in laws that apply to them.

And on drug legalization? Still for, for philosophical reasons, but I think in the long run, in a socialist/welfare system which denies opportunities to young people legalization is just a way of distributing Soma.  It’s a way of keeping the population anesthetized so they don’t rebel. (Who knew? Turns out opium is the opium of the people.)  Meaning I think we need to legalize drugs to stop oppression and stop oppression to legalize drugs.  You could say I’m evolving on the subject. (Which mostly means I get shouty if prodded. Because it’s not done baking.) Again, I still think legalization is needed to defang government. I also acknowledge given our current society not only isn’t it a magical panacea, but it has serious problems.

I changed my mind on open borders not by refusing to talk to people, but by reading a ton of history and having a ton of arguments with both history and friends.

Is my opinion now better? Well, it’s more congruent with reality. Meaning it explains a lot of things better.

Part of the reason we’re in this trouble, is that the left has managed to push anyone who has doubts about their credal system into the closet.  And that coming out of the closet gets you labeled as a lot of things you SURELY aren’t (Well, some people are. The problem there, though, is that we now tend to assume they aren’t, because this is used so much. Ask me how I found that out) like racist, sexist, homophobic and whatever the latest denunciation is, up to saying libertarians want rule by the strongest. (Which indeed DOES correlate really well with wanting the governments — the most powerful bodies of rule in our world — made small and powerless, retaining only enough power to administer equality before the law.  It makes perfect sense, if you turn it around and shake it like a snow globe. Or wear your pants on your head and sing to Cthulhu. Or something.)

And it’s not just being called things, and suddenly assumed to be stupid (and the smarter you are, the more they tell everyone how stupid you are. See mediocrities and feeling threatened.)

The left knows its house of non-meritocratic cards, its system of privilege and despotism, cannot withstand challenges.

So they will try to erase you. Particularly if you’re a creator. They will try to vilify you so much that people are afraid to crack open one of your books, even if it has bloody nothing to do with politics (see the reviews of my shifter series complaining about my politics.) They’re afraid to look at your drawings. They’re scared of watching your movies. They’re afraid some invisible contagion will reach out and make you a leper like them, that other tribe, those evil weirdos.

The left will also, as we’ve seen in recent years, attempt to make you unemployable, and threaten your family and loved ones. Even if your job isn’t in one of their “fields.”  Even if you’re just a Catholic school student, in fact.

I get all this as reason for not coming out of the closet.  I even get it as reason for singing in the chorus of lefty eructations and never questioning it.

I once wanted to tell stories and have them read SO MUCH that I came close to selling my soul for it.

But in the end, you can’t tell stories if you’re lying to everyone, including largely yourself. Not the stories you should tell.  Instead, you tell maimed/hampered things, like birds with their wings cut off.

And civilization can’t save itself if it’s lying to itself about the causes of problems, its own past, and… well, everything, really, in order to stay congruent with “the one true philosophy.”

Whatever that philosophy is.

Recently family and friends have told me to stop slaying dragons and go back to writing fiction, because the dragon slaying is killing me. It’s making me bleed out, in non-physical ways.

And sure, as a friend whose opinion I respect told me “Your blog is not going to markedly change the course of the country or the world.”

He’s not wrong.  I can’t do this alone.  I also appreciate his idea that I can do more through fiction. He’s also not wrong. Except it takes time.  And I’m not sure we have time. We are skating on the rim of hell. It’s going to take a miracle, as is.

No, I can’t do it alone.

Yes, all I EVER wanted to do was write my stories. And I want — need — to do more of that.

Yes, I DO realize all of you out there have really important reasons why you stay quiet.  THE most important reasons. Jobs, family, children, vocations. Food on the table and roof over your heads. The thing that is more important than life itself for you. Whatever that is.

I’m not making fun of it. I GET those reasons. I even get, trust me, the desire to do something and be recognized for something SO MUCH that you can’t let even deep conviction get in its way.

All I’m saying is that it’s later than you think. Judging from the insanity stalking abroad, with a scythe in its hand (and a hammer in the other) and pants on its skeletal head, it’s probably later than I think.

This little light of yours, you’ve got to let it shine.  Come out, come out, wherever you are.

Oh, yeah, they can hit you, and make your life hell. (Although, after a while, honestly, the whisper campaigns against you are so ridiculous that you have to laugh. They bear no relation to reality.)

BUT there is life, here, on the other side of blacklisting yourself.

Right now, perhaps for a brief period, there are ways to get around their control. Indie is one, of course. But there are others, for other professions.

Doesn’t mean it won’t hurt you like living hell or curtail your prospects. I wouldn’t lie to you. It will.

Perhaps there are things worth the sacrifice, the civilization we leave our grand kids being one of them.

Consider, consider very hard whether its time to walk out of the closet, carrying your light, and bringing it into the world.  Consider if the price is worth it.

Lest darkness fall.

Be not afraid.

Hoax or a Suicide Note?

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I was reminded by someone whose opinion I respect that unless my goal in life is to write political essays, I need to make these posts shorter, lighter, perhaps linked to something else, and reduce them to two or three a week at most (that I write) since otherwise after 3k words I don’t feel like writing fiction. (Also fiction and non-fiction wire your brain differently.)

However, in the crazy times we live in I’ve felt compelled to at least CHRONICLE the insanity. It’s like being a witness at any historical disaster. I feel like I’m writing a sort of doomsday book. Though I remain hopeful that by a miracle the republic will be preserved.

Anyway, I told you things would get crazy. I didn’t say how fast and I didn’t expect this fast.

Yesterday brought two ah… interesting developments. First, apparently the left continues to emulate their hero, Stalin, in doing their best to de-exist people who upset them. Lies, Damn Lies, and Wikipedia Edits. 

I would like to remind xyr xer xym and vig that in fact their beloved Soviet Union was brought down by COPIERS.  If you think you can tamp us down completely, you have another thing coming.

And to prove how out of touch, how bizarrely insane their scions have gone, something is circulating on facebook which, if not a farce, is proof absolute that Mark Zuckerberg is a lizard being with no comprehension of mammals much less human beings, who lucked into his success and has no clue what people actually use his site for.

 

I know a few here use FB as part of their overall forum structure (as well as some having active FB groups). An author friend of mine was at the recent Developer Conference, where Mark Zuckerberg discussed and shared the upcoming intentions they have.

She was good enough to post a video in an Indie Author group I’m a member of and, while I can’t share the video as it’s in a closed group, another author was good enough to spend time pulling out the key points people who run groups and use FB as a marketing tool should be aware of.

I’m going to post the keypoints in their entirety here, some may be worded for how the are going to affect Authors on FB, but for the most part, if you swap out the word “author” it’s relevant to anyone who uses FB as a marketing too.

  • Facebook groups are the future. Facebook is focusing on privacy and making the user experience more intimate. That’s what the algorithms are going to start catering to. If you don’t have a reader group, you should start one.

  • The things we post on Facebook should create meaningful interactions. If they don’t, your post is less likely to be seen and suppressed in the algorithms.

  • Group Admins are responsible for all group activity. If content is posted in a group that goes against Facebook’s Terms of Service (TOS) or Community Standards, admins are at risk to lose their personal profile, their business page, and their group. Admins can be shut down with no recourse.

  • Negative ratings reflect poorly on the admin team. Negative ratings are the angry face, the sad face, member reported content, and the number of people who block you. These things also reflect poor ratings on groups and suppress reach. Facebook wants the user experience to be positive. Sad or angry face reactions tells Facebook that the user is having a bad experience, therefore diminishing your organic reach.

  • Post approval process is a responsibility. Admins should have post approval turned on in groups to protect themselves from negative ratings. Questions should be asked for new joins. It’s the admins responsibility to monitor and know who they are allowing in their group.

  • Contest, giveaways, and free downloads are being suppressed by Facebook. If you are saying “get this free” or “enter this giveaway,” those posts are being suppressed by Facebook. This goes back to creating meaningful interactions. Authors need to stop using the traditional language and start getting creative on how they post contests, giveaways, and free books if they want their posts to be seen.

  • When members leave the group, they have the choice to take all of their content with them. This applies to admins as well. So if you had an admin that posted great content and then they leave the group, they have the ability to take their posts out of the group.

  • Teach readers to leave a reaction, not a LIKE. Liking a post means nothing to the Facebook algorithm. It does not qualify as an engagement. Readers need to LOVE it, react with SHOCK, or use the LAUGHING reaction. This shows positive user experience and will help your organic reach. Comments also boost your reach and GIF’s give you the highest ranking in the algorithm.

  • You CANNOT tell users how to react. In other words, you can’t say things like “Love this post and…” or “Comment below and…” Those phrases will suppress your reach because they are considered engagement baiting. What you should say is something like, “Leave me a heart and…” Engagement baiting includes words like COMMENT, VOTE, REACT, SHARE, TAG.

  • Sales posts on your page and in your group should be less than 20%. Facebook doesn’t want an abundance of “buy my books” posts because they don’t create meaningful interactions.

  • Authors should reduce takeovers or change how they are phrased. The word TAKEOVER is being suppressed. Instead, have a PARTY, an AUTHOR GATHERING, or EVENING ENTERTAINMENT.

  • Reduce the number of admins in the group. Again, this goes back to admin responsibility. The group admins should be you and only one or two other trusted sources.

  • Create Group Rules within Facebook (not just pinned in the announcements or written in the ‘about’ section of the group). They set the tone for the group and gives you something to point to if someone is not following the rules. It is your responsibility to make sure everyone is on the same page, or you risk losing your account with no recourse.

  • Link your group to your page. Facebook is going to be coming out with features that are specific to business pages that have groups.

  • Be a conversation starter in groups. Earn the badge. It shows you are creating meaningful conversations. Readers are like you. If you like to see something on Facebook, chances are that they will like it too.

  • Understand Facebook Community Standards and know that it’s a robot screening your content. It’s important to work within those rules in order to be present on social media. Understanding and following these standards will help boost you in the algorithms and help your ad approvals.

  • Newsfeed is shrinking. Stories are merging with the newsfeed. Messenger is being favored. Take the time to look through all the available options in Messenger. Messenger is soon going to be separated from the desktop, meaning it will be its own entity. WhatsApp and Messenger will be contained and can be used for direct selling. Remember, Facebook is moving to “the future is private.”

  • Ads are targeting new avenues. You can no longer have a small budget for Facebook ads and expect it to be successful. You need to understand targeting or you’ll be wasting money. Start testing ads in other ways that are not on the newsfeed.

  • Going LIVE is no longer on Facebook’s radar as an organic algorithm piece. If you didn’t go live often before, this is good news for you. If you are one who utilized it a lot, you’ll need to find other ways to boost organic reach.

  • Links in posts can be determined click-bait, or something that flags the Click Gap Signal. The Click Gap Signal is a measuring of inbound and outbound link patterns of a site that is being linked out from Facebook. Facebook will reduce the reach of a post if the number of clicks from Facebook is higher than it is in other areas of the internet. In other words, if more people are going to your website via Facebook versus an organic Google search, your post will be considered click-bait or spam. Facebook will suppress it and/or shut down your account. While that might not be true, that’s what the algorithm will see.

 

  • Facebook is tracking the link funnel. This means Facebook will follow where the link is going. This could also trigger the Click Gap Signal. Authors should send people to their newsletter or their website, as opposed to Amazon or iBooks. Here’s why: Your website is controlled by you. If a reader clicks on your Amazon link, they’ll find your books, your reviews, and your bio. You might think everything on your Amazon page is completely in line with Facebook’s Community Standards (no naked covers, no foul language, no erotica, etc). However, also-boughts and sponsored books leading to another book that DOES violate the Community Standards is also being analyzed. If the Click Gap Signal happens to fall on a page with questionable content, your reach is suppressed and your ads could be denied (even if you have no control over sponsored Amazon ads on your page). What’s more, the Click Gap Signal can flag you for the reviews on your books. If a reviewer uses negative keywords, bad language, etc, your reach will be suppressed.

  • Facebook now has the ability to scan images for content that violates Community Standards. Be careful with those erotic book covers and steamy teasers.

  • Groups deemed harmful on Facebook will be shut down. As per the statement put out by Facebook “…we identify and remove harmful groups, whether they are public, closed or secret. We can now proactively detect many types of violating content posted in groups before anyone reports them and sometimes before few people, if any, even see them.” This is a reaction to the New Zealand Massacre. Unfortunately, some people in the romance book world are being targeted by this based on keywords found by bots. They are losing their groups and their accounts are being shut down. Hence the reason why authors need to monitor group content and understand the Community Standards.

  • Sharing is not caring. Sharing from your page to your timeline/newsfeed is against the Terms of Service. By dropping your page link in a Sharing is Caring post, you are putting yourself at risk to have your account shut down. Sharing posts made on a page you are the admin of is also a no-no. Facebook wants page content to stay on the page. However, if a reader (a non-admin of your page) shares a post from your page, the complete opposite happens. This boosts your ranking in the algorithms. Facebook views this as positive content because a reader cared enough about the post to share it. If someone comments on that readers shared post, you get an even higher boost.

  • Don’t limit yourself to one platform. Stories, groups, Messenger, and ads are where you need to be on Facebook, but you should also be on other platforms. Move readers away from Facebook to other areas. Spread out your reach. You shouldn’t build your entire business on one platform that you have no control over.

  • Peer-to-peer networking is now bigger than ever. Authors should utilize each other.

I want you to admire the exquisite beauty of beings who think a crying or angry emoticon is NOT a reaction to the content but to THE THING BEING POSTED ITSELF.

Even in my fan group, there’s any number of people who use it as a support group when a loved one is sick, or they have another difficulty.

But per facebook, if we don’t want the group closed, we shall now respond to “my mom got a terminal cancer diagnosis” with a laugh emoji, or perhaps a heart (since a mere like won’t do.)

Then there is the lack of awareness that people in fact join FB to either promote their work or interact with creators.

The entire thing smacks of “we don’t want anyone on our site who isn’t a little old lady looking at pictures of her grandkids.”

Of course, that’s not what lizard-man thinks he’s doing. What he thinks he’s doing is this: he thinks he’s taking control of the site and weaponizing it well before the 2020 election. With such arbitrary and bizarrely enforced rules, he should make sure that everyone is singing from the same Orange Man hymnal well before the election.

Except for the point where none of this works that way. People will simply and finally leave. (I’m on Mewe, btw.   And there’s a Hoyt’s Huns group mostly with readers of this blog.)

You can’t impose the Chinese social credit system unless you’re the government of China. I doubt our government would be very good at establishing that.

So, if that amazing document above is genuine, it’s Facebook’s suicide note.  Everyone I know is preparing fall-back positions.  Eventually, if this system is implemented, we’ll fall back.

For now, we’ll point and laugh.

And I’ll go back to my work.