Getting Back On the Horse


I’ll start by saying I have no experience of horseback riding.  In fact I touched a horse for the first time a few months ago.

But I grew up understanding that if you ride a horse, it’s not “if you fall off” but “when you fall off.”  And particularly if you fall off and are seriously hurt, you need to get back on as soon as you can. Otherwise the fear of it will grow in your mind, and make it impossible to get back on.

The problem, which is similar to my problem with driving, as my vision went wonky slowly over a long time and brain internalized “driving is panic-inducing because we’re not sure where side streets are” before I realized I wasn’t seeing properly, is when you slowly “fall of the horse.”

Because then your fear of getting back on isn’t quite fear, but a bolus of “I forgot how to; I got out of the habit; and of course the back of the head “but this failed last time.”

In my case, getting back on the writing horse is being complicated by the cold that descended end second week of January, and has been around since, with occasional moments of peeking above and being almost normal. Given that we have a ton of stuff to do for house/wedding/writing and that I get maybe two good hours work in, before I just want to sleep.  Then another two hours…

The house is a pigsty, novel is almost two weeks late, I’m finishing seriously overdue short story, and I just want to sleep.

I’m also likely to be cranky as I force myself to work. Because don’t wanna, that’s why.

BUT that’s a passing complication (hopefully.  Infections can wind up my auto-immune and then we’re in the bucket.)  I got worried at how it dragged and went to doctor, and he said nah, that’s the pattern this year, and no, it’s not flu, for which I was vaccinated, but either a singularly resistant bacteria or a string of bacteria one after the other, which is not unusual.  Bacteria, I say, not virus, because the antibiotic IS working.  I know because as time approaches for it, I start feeling worse.  Anyway… that’s the current battle and why I feel more cranky than usual.

The other part of the battle is more long term.

Since it’s not the first time this has happened, I’ve found there are steps to climbing back on that horse:

first, I have to establish the habit.  This is proving difficult mostly because of interruptions to discuss wedding details, or what we’re doing about x in the house (which looks like a construction zone, as we’re incrementally replacing the flooring.)

Second, I have to get back in practice.  This matters because the book currently under construction, I keep tripping on newby mistakes that I haven’t made in years.  However, as I was telling husband who is — thank heavens — also writing again (having stopped at being discouraged by watching my career. Euclid was written in 2001. And not having managed to get himself back on the horse, even with indie, till now.) when you come back after severe illness, as both of us are (mine more severe than his, and his stopping really was discouragement at my career more than the illness. Because he thinks I walk on water.  So if I was getting slapped down every turn, what chance did HE have.  Yeah.) you have to re-learn. It’s just that you learn way faster.

So I’ve been doing that. If I could stop being annoyed when I stumble it might help.

Third, the fear of failure.  Yeah.  Well, the sale over Christmas (the ebook sale, not the physical book.  Yes, I’ll mail books this week. Sorry. I’ve been so fricking sick, I keep forgetting everything and am afraid to package things to mail. One of you will end up with a carefully wrapped cat or something.) made around 2500 and that helped me get over the fear nothing will sell.  Of course, that was a really, really, really low price sale.  So… we’ll see.  But I have to write before I see.

The point of all this, other than talking about my difficulties like an old lady, or a not so old tries-to-be lady who is feeling seriously run down: you have to get back on the horse.

Someone recently here said that the best predictor of success was  a previous string of failures at the same endeavor or a similar one.

They’re not wrong.

Now there’s things you do in life, that you were never that invested in.  For instance, I bought a bunch of goose eggs to attempt carving (yes, in my copious spare time. Also shut up) and so far my attempts have been startlingly unsuccessful.  I might continue trying. Or not.  It’s not something I’m invested in heart and soul, or something I want to make money out of.  It’s more “it’s interesting.”

Then there’s intermediate.  I’ve always had an hankering to do art, but I gave it up at 14, partly because the materials were too expensive and writing was cheaper.  It came back with a vengeance after concussion when I was 40. I still enjoy doing old fashioned art, with paper and charcoal, and have this dream, one day, when I have more time and money (AKA when the boys are fully off the paycheck. G-d willing in a year and four months, but who is counting) to go out to the Natural History Museum once a week (Uber, hence the money.  Driving IN Denver is insane and anyway in winter I can’t, not and stay at the museum for appreciable time, because I’m night blind.) with my pad and charcoal and draw dinosaur skeletons and dinosaurs.
BUT DAZ 3-d produces acceptable covers (particularly when combined with Filter Forge) and it allows me to scratch that itch without spending time on it as a hobby.  It also helps get oh, yeah, covers, without taking a few more years of classes. Which, frankly, is very handy.
Anyway, that horse threw me down a bunch of times, including my spending a couple of months rendering naked people with no hair.  Oh, and the month of weird contortions.
It’s better now, and improving, but again, since I can make covers out of it, it’s totally worth the time I spent. (And money we’re about to spend for a better rendering computer. OUCH.)

Writing OTOH is non-negotiable, because I always wanted to be a writer. And giving up would be like dying a little.  It’s part of me, part of what makes me me.  Giving up is dying a little.

And it’s thrown me a bunch of times, but I have to keep getting back on. Because accepting defeat is accepting dying a little.

If you have something similar, something you always wanted — no, needed — to do, something that forms an integral part of your personality, if that thing is neither immoral nor illegal, and if you’ve failed at it before, it’s time to get back on the horse.

Yes, I know, things hurt, and you flinch from the pain and you’re tired and old and–

But it’s time to get back on the horse. Because you don’t have any other choice.  Because this thing is who you are.  And the best predictor of success is multiple previous failures.

So, there’s that.

Now, up on the saddle.


I’m Down with Something


dreams-2904682_1280I’m down with something possibly auto immune.

I HAVE to finish a short story due today.  And it’s going to take a lot of naps.

So I’ll leave you guys a weird picture to have fun with.

“The Truths We Hold” and more delusions of grandeur – Amanda Green


“The Truths We Hold” and more delusions of grandeur-  Amanda Green

I know, I know. I was supposed to continue my review/commentary on Kamala Harris’ so-called memoir, The Truths We Hold. I still plan to but, having come to the end of the free sample, I simply couldn’t bring myself to buy the book. Not only is it drastically over-priced for an e-book, but I don’t want to give a single penny to the woman. I especially don’t want to do it for a book that is nothing more than a thinly veiled campaign speech.

So, as I sat here this morning trying to figure out what to write about, I let my fingers do the walking through the internet. There were the expected stories about Cory “I am Spartacus” Booker declaring he’s going to run for president. How many memes will that generate? Then there was the story about Elizabeth “Fauxcahauntus” Warren apologizing to the Cherokee Nation for claiming to be Native American (about time, says this descendant of someone born on the Trail of Tears). There are so many Democrats already lining up for their chance to unseat Trump that you already need a scorecard.

Hell, you know it’s going to be bad when Rolling Stone lists 15—FIFTEEN—campaign books “you need to know” for the upcoming election.

And no, I am not going to read all 15. I value my life and my sanity too much to do that. Still, curiosity had me looking to see what Rolling Stone had to say.

I probably shouldn’t be surprised that they started out with Harris’ book. Right now, she is the darling of the Left, right down to all the comparisons she’s been getting to Obama. Rolling Stone says the books walks us through her “really impressive resumé” while clearly contrasting herself with Trump. Duh. Of interest is the little hint of displeasure when Rolling Stone notes that the book might leave you wanting because, while more personal that her previous book, it is still a “hyper-polished” look at her life and career. In other words, it is a campaign speech and not a real insight into who she is and what she holds important on a personal level.

Rolling Stone isn’t the only publication to come to that conclusion. Time has a rather lengthy discussion of the book online. Early on, it echoes my own sentiments, not only about this particular book but all books by politicians coming out at the beginning of a presidential election cycle:

“These books are never great literature. Harris moves through the steps of her own life at a dizzying pace, like a harried screenwriter trying to cram a 1,000-page novel into an hour and a half movie. But if books like this aren’t great for readers, they are helpful for voters, who can gain some insight through seeing which issues and personal stories their authors deems important enough to highlight. (One helpful point in Harris’ case: her name is pronounced comma-la.)”

That one paragraph sums up what I’ve seen of the book. This is a book of political talking points interspersed with personal stories, “highly polished” personal stories meant to influence voters. My suggestion? Remember that and consider her relationship with Willie Brown and his admission recently that not only did they sleep together but that he might have helped further her career.

I will return to the book when it is available for download from the library. I’m currently #3 on the waiting list, so probably in the next week or so.

But what else does Rolling Stone, in its infinite liberal mindset, say we should read before the next election?

Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship and Purpose by Joe Biden. Unlike Harris’ book, this one isn’t new. It is also a book that can be seen as humanizing Biden by recounting his relationship with his late son. It is, in short, a very different side of Biden than that of the vice-president who couldn’t seem to keep his hands to himself that we came to know during the Obama administration.

Next up from Rolling Stone is Elizabeth Warren’s This Fight is Our Fight: The Battle to Save America’s Middle Class. Pardon me while I laugh hysterically. Like Biden’s book, it came out in 2017. Unlike “Promise Me, Dad”, it is not a personal memoir but a purely political one. It is also obvious, reading the blurb for the book, that she was gearing up for 2020. Get a load of this from the Amazon product page:

Warren grew up in Oklahoma, and she’s never forgotten how difficult it was for her mother and father to hold on at the ragged edge of the middle class. An educational system that offered opportunities for all made it possible for her to achieve her dream of going to college, becoming a teacher, and, later, attending law school. But now, for many, these kinds of opportunities are gone, and a government that once looked out for working families is instead captive to the rich and powerful. Seventy-five years ago, President Franklin Roosevelt and his New Deal ushered in an age of widespread prosperity; in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan reversed course and sold the country on the disastrous fiction called trickle-down economics. Now, with the election of Donald Trump—a con artist who promised to drain the swamp of special interests and then surrounded himself with billionaires and lobbyists—the middle class is being pushed ever closer to collapse.

Saint Franklin and his New Deal. Evil Ronnie Reagan. Con artist Trump. No, she didn’t have a single agenda when writing the book. If you believe that, I have this piece of land in Florida to sell you. At least there’s no mention of her Native American ancestry. I wonder if there was originally and it has now been excised out.

And Rolling Stones’ list just keeps getting better—or worse, depending on your point of view. There are books by Julian Castro and Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker. Among some of the others listed are John Hickenlooper, Sherrod Brown, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bloomberg and Starbucks’ own Howard Schultz. There’s even a mention of South Bend mayor Peter Buttigieg’s upcoming book. Now, raise your hands, until some of these folks tossed their hats in the ring, how many of you had heard of them? And how many are going to sit down and read what they (or, more likely, their ghostwriters) have to say about how evil our country is and what they can do to “fix” it?

Two books did catch my eye—but not in the way that I’m going to rush out to read them. The first is John “Lurch” Kerry’s Every Day is Extra. This is another of those horribly over-priced e-books publishers hope will help drive e-book sales through the floor and reinvigorate print sales. Priced at basically $17, this is Kerry’s story of his “remarkable life.” Gag me. The only thing tempting me to read this is to find out what he has to say about Hillary since she is glaringly left out of the list of folks he remembers fondly or with humor in the book description.

The second book to catch my eye was Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico. This book, published in 2011, by Beto O’Rourke and fellow (sister?) city council member Susie Byrd. The topic shouldn’t be any surprise to those who have followed the skateboarding wunderkind’s run for Senate. The war on drugs doesn’t work. Just look at Cuidad Juarez. (Mind you, I agree in a lot of ways that the war on drugs has been far from successful.) My questions about this book come down to how much of it did Beto Baby really write and does he ever come out with a solid stance on anything? Or is this more of the same sidestep shuffle we saw during the campaign?

Why, you might ask, did Rolling Stone include this aged book, relatively speaking, with all the others? Because they are sure he will be running, or at least be someone’s running mate, and he hasn’t yet released his “get-t0-know-me” book. Really, Rolling Stone is showing its age. Doesn’t it realize all those livestream videos on Facebook Beto posted were his version of that? VBEG

I guess this has all been a pre-coffee way of saying I just wasn’t up to more Kamala Harris this morning. But, now that I’ve seen what the other side has out there in the way of other books to read, I am truly worried for the state of my sanity and my liver. I’ll finish the Harris book. Then I’ll start something else. But what? Which of the books from the Rolling Stone article would you like me to take on?

Or how about his? Why don’t we start pulling together our own list of books by conservative or libertarian candidates that we think voters should read before the 2020 primaries? Leave your comments below and we’ll see just how far my sanity and liver can go before I throw in the towel and declare defeat.

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


Sunday Book Promo

FROM BLAKE SMITHThe Hartington Inheritance (The Hartington Series Book 1)

(It is a truth universally acknowledged that if you associate with me you start getting a little strange.  This is the only thing that explains why Blake who is sane as a brick decided to write regency in space, as though Witchfinder weren’t weird enough.  At any rate, it’s good, get and read.)


Almira Hartington was heir to the largest fortune in the galaxy, amassed by her father during his time as a director of the Andromeda Company. But when Sir Josiah commits suicide, Almira discovers that she and her siblings are penniless. All three of them must learn to work if they wish to eat, and are quickly scattered to the far reaches of the universe. Almira stubbornly remains on-planet, determined to remain respectable despite the sneers of her former friends.

Sir Percy Wallingham pities the new Lady Hartington. But the lady’s family will take care of her, surely? It’s only after he encounters Almira in her new circumstances that he realizes the extent of her troubles and is determined to help her if he can. He doesn’t know that a scandal is brewing around Sir Josiah’s death and Almira’s exile from society. But it could cost him his life, and the lady he has come to love.



Ah, the perils of married life. Stubborn wombows, holy-terror birds, the Officers’ Wives Club…

Auriga “Rigi” Bernardi-Prananda eagerly awaits her husband’s return from advanced scout training. A predator returns in his place, and Rigi must learn to adapt to his new role in the military, and to navigate the perils of Army society. Especially when Tomás insists on her presence as he helps establish a new human and Staré settlement on Verdina, Shikhari’s northern continent. He and the Staré need Rigi’s skills as healer and Wise Eye, one who sees through concealment to find the truth.

Once in the north, Rigi discovers that the wildlife outside the camp poses only a minor hazard. Those predators merely want to eat her. A predator inside the camp threatens her husband’s career, and her and Tomás’ honor. Rigi must call on all her training, as well as her Staré allies and Martinus the M-dog, if she is to accomplish her mission with dignity, honor, and marriage intact. And without spilling anything on herself at a tea or ladies’ theatrical evening.

Woman’s work is never done. Nor is it ever dull.

FROM CHRISTOPHER NUTTALL:  Heinlein in Reflection: Robert A. Heinlein in the 21st Century.


Robert Anson Heinlein was the Grandmaster of Science-Fiction, originator or populariser of many of the science-fiction tropes we take for granted today. Heinlein laid the groundwork for countless authors to follow, combining his engineering knowledge and experience with a knowledge of humanity to open vast vistas for his readers. His popularity remains undiminished, even three decades after his death. Heinlein remains one of the greatest science-fiction writers in history.

But is Heinlein still relevant today?

He could be – and still is, even by the standards of our time – very controversial. In his later years, he pushed the limits as far as he could. His characters were freethinkers to a degree even we find alarming, discarding the chains of their societies in a manner that could be both heroic and dangerously unwise. His books – and Heinlein himself – have been accused of being fascist, or sexist, or racist, or thoroughly immoral. Is Heinlein still a great mind? Or should he be forgotten like so many other writers of his time?

In this collection of essays, science-fiction writer Christopher G. Nuttall takes a fresh look at Heinlein’s books, assesses the accusations made against Heinlein’s work and concludes that yes, Heinlein is still relevant today …

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: lush

If You HAVE TO Learn to Code


Ladies, Gentlemen, Oxen and creatures of unknown provenance: this is your final warning.

Okay, that’s a little over dramatic. It’s not your final warning, because this kind of disaster is slow-mo and will be playing out over the next ten years, (and the recovery will take longer than that) and I will try to give more warnings, and yes, material help or intellectual help if I’m in a position to do so (which depends on my getting serious about this crap instead of half measures).

But the thing is, what we’re caught in, the creative destruction of a technology (pardon me this use, but it’s true) paradigm shift, has no set schedule. I don’t know when it will hit my industry full on (it’s hitting it, but no one knows when the crucial grain of sand will go, and the entire industry will shift) and I know even less when it will hit yours.

The fact that this destructive construction or creative destruction is being helped by a generation of leftists who, being the result of the long march through the institutions, feel like it’s their actual job to lecture, to shape society, to change humans, to bring about justice for people who look vaguely like people who might once have been oppressed, makes the situation all the more incalculable. It is also the obvious result of the long march, and the fact it was allowed to happen.

In writing and in journalism, as I’ve told you guys before, I suspect that this creative destruction, the crash of the old and the emergence of the new, would not have happened if the people at the top of the old forms hadn’t COMPLETELY forgotten or never been taught what a “job” or “selling” or “clients” are.  I don’t know the other industries as well, though I have friends in both health and teaching, and I know they’re maybe just a little behind us.  And as for tech… HR departments have been making it just as crazy or the word “shirtstorm” wouldn’t exist.  Journalists could flap all they wanted to, if their flapping didn’t actually affect engineers, no matter how competent.

But I don’t know. We have very few centuries of actual recorded primary source history we can check. And the “historians” of the last century have befouled that pool with their ignorant opinions and screeching enough.  It was after all one of the fields taken over. Narrative over truth, etc.  You can catch them at it, if you see the contradictions. And eventually people who care will sift the primary sources for the truth.  Until then we can’t know stuff like this for sure, but I suspect that the sclerosis in thought is part of the change in tech, because it becomes needed for survival.

So, take in account I don’t know all the details, but I know that “the times they are achanging” and despite people’s insistence on thinking I’m an optimist, I’m not.

I’m just a long-term depressive who has therefore learned to evaluate reality dispassionately and past her biases, so she doesn’t off herself or fall into a spiral where she would off herself.  Note “dispassionately.” There are times the light is small and very faint. But if it exists, I take it into account.

In this case the light isn’t small or very faint. I’m no telling you we will win all battles.  I’m not telling won’t win some battles. And I’m not telling you we won’t lose a lot of them, particularly political.

Look guys, unless Trump cleans up voting his goose is cooked. Colorado has just outsourced my ability to vote for president to NY and CA and their crooked vote machines. FL in the last election passed a law letting felons vote, because, you know, that’s the best way to keep your elections clean, amIright?  I suspect there’s madness of this sort all over.

And even if Trump wins, he is at best a very imperfect vessel (they all are, but Trump is basically a NY democrat, old style. Infinitely preferable to new style, but…)

There will be losses, particularly political.

But in this great technological upheaval, in the way things are changing, there is something beyond hope.  Yes, sure, the tech mavens, the dead hand of the old establishment will fight back. They’re doing so. But in the process they unmask themselves.  Now they’re coming out against the first amendment and yeah as you know, against life and liberty. They’ve long been for “happiness on our terms only”.  The long march requires being hidden.  We can see them now. And their faces are repulsive enough to scare anyone still half-sane sober. Which means even people less aware than us will fight back, or try to save themselves.

And technology favors the individual.

One after the other the old, rotten institutions are collapsing.  Sure, they’ll strike back. They’ll even get blood now and then.

The next ten years are going to be a bag of suckage the likes of which the world hasn’t seen in a long time.  And a lot — A LOT — of good people, a lot of our people, are going to suffer with the bad.

So, this is your warning, if you want to avoid maximum pain, if you want to survive, if you want to be here at the end of those ten years and help the rebuilding (and I do. I wish I were younger, but if wishes were horses…)

This is not gloating because I have friends depending on Journalism and university teaching, and a hundred other endangered fields to make a living.

It’s more of a warning: over the next few years a lot of us trapped behind the cultural lines are going to need to find other means of survival. If you’re one of those, and you know if you are, make plans, look around, find alternate ways to practice your profession or find other things you can do to survive and thrive.

(Yes, I am, but not as assiduously as I should be. That stops today. I need to get serious. I’ve been sensing the future and what a mess.)

Ladies, gentlemen, small startled animals, locate your parachute under your seats, get ready for the oxygen mask to drop and above all LOCATE THE NEAREST EXIT.

Because what can’t go on won’t go on, no matter how long it takes for that to become obvious. Remember these things move very slowly and then suddenly catastrophically FAST. You can’t be sure. You will think all is safe now and then suddenly, before you can think, all hell will cut loose. You will think “not me.” But yes, you. No one is safe in this. Either by our action, the counteraction, or just “change” a lot of people are going to lose livelihood and security.

The important thing is not despair, not to go under.  And to prepare if you can.

I want you to stay aware, to keep your eyes open, to watch.  I can’t know your field. I’m not you.  Think through the trends, think ahead, figure out what happens when the skinsuit collapses, when the alternatives become viable, when people challenge the current mode of work, of selling, of service, or living.

And then find an escape route.  The exit closest to you might be behind you. Or upside down. Or it might be through the luggage rack. Stay creative. Don’t assume you have all the time in the world. Chaotic creation/destruction doesn’t hit in any given order. Tech could go next. Or perhaps construction.  You don’t know.  Keep your eyes open. Be ready to completely rearrange your head to accommodate new concepts of “career” and “how we do things.” (TRUST ME that this is the hard part. Please. I know it shouldn’t be, but it is.)

This is particularly important if you’re in charge of a company and others depend on you.

Creatively think through exit strategies and new ways of doing things.  This is really hard, but you must do it.

And then stay flexed, non-panicked, ready to jump.

This might mean anything from starting a new business now to learning new skills.  (Yes, learning to code if you’re so inclined, so long as you know that that TOO is under the same forces of cracking and structural stress. There are still ways of surviving, but they might be inferior to your current skills. So it might not be worth it.)

I can’t tell you what to do unless you’re a writer, and even then, strategies of escape are still being tested and might or might not work. The same for editors and publishers.

BUT two things I know: There’s always a strategy. And this mess is going to hit EVERYWHERE.

Part of the insanity on the left is that they feel the wave of change coming, (even if they can’t think through it.) and it doesn’t accord to their prophecies, and also will take away the ramparts they’ve built over a century.

We who know that history has no arrow will at least be driven slightly less mad.

But it doesn’t mean it will be easy.

Don’t be afraid, be pro-active.

You’d better learn how to swim code do whatever you can or you’ll sink like a stone. Because catastrophic change is no respecter of persons or ideologies.

And the times they are achanging.



You Are Not Psychic


*Sorry this is so late. We had an appointment (not for me) this morning that resolved the underlying cause of the ER visit a week ago, and if the diagnosis is true, it’s not  bad at all. -SAH*

It is a characteristic of the human mind to try to make sense of things by weaving a story.  It might be a necessary characteristic and even a survival enhancing one.

For instance, if you see someone walking funny ahead of you, and something in the back of your head pings “danger” you’re not going to pretend you don’t know anything. You’re going to avoid them.  Even more so, if two people flank you in a dangerous area of town, you back up fast and take off running.  There is a story in your head these people are going to mug you, and maybe it’s false. Maybe they accidentally flanked you. But–

For the record both happened to me.  The first one, when I lived in Colorado Springs Old North End neighborhood and I got up unholy early to walk the 1.5 mile to the center of town and back, there was someone ahead of me acting funny.  First he caught my attention because he was a heartbreakingly beautiful Asian young man, with beautiful long hair down his back, (Artist speaking, not woman. He was probably younger than both my kids) and he was shirtless in 35 or 36 degree weather (just above freezing.)  Then I realized he was doing a sort of zombie walk.  And then he started… well, dancing is one term. Sort of dancing/martial art moves.  I didn’t know what he was doing but I assumed “drugs” and therefore ducked into a side street and went another way.  This week someone posted videos of people doing the “Flakka dance” and yeah, that’s what it was including the zombie walk, but he can’t have been on it very long, because he didn’t look destroyed  Anyway, given the aggressive nature of that high, I did the right thing.

The flanking thing, same neighborhood, but older son and I went for a walk of a Sunday (the most dangerous day, since that’s when the downtown is empty) and two critters flanked us.  For those who don’t know my sons, by the time they were thirteen people thought they wee my “bodyguards.”  They’re both over six feet and built. So, flanking me? low level hoodlums. Flanking Robert and I and moving center?  We decided they were trying to mug us as soon as we got off the center which still had some people.  So we ducked into a shop, and out the shop’s other entrance. Maybe we were wrong. Maybe the two guys were innocent strollers THAT time. They hadn’t been in other occasions as we checked them by look (there used to be a website) when we got home and each had a demon’s resume.

In those circumstances guessing people’s motives/intentions can be survival enhancing.

For anything more complex, it helps to remember you’re not psychic.

Honestly, I’m so afraid of ascribing bad motives to people, particularly people I deal with/am friends with, that I have gotten stung a non-trivial number of times.  I extend more chances and observe behavior, and try to formulate an hypotheses why.  If nothing makes sense, I drive myself nuts. BUT after x number of times I assume there’s malice for a reason I don’t know, which will continue to happen, and then I cut all contact. Pretty much forever. Because at that point there’s every reason to expect this will continue to happen.

What I try not to do is attribute motives. Because at that point the motive doesn’t matter. And because I’m not psychic.

And while — see cases above — I’ll react to protect myself, I really do try not to imagine things for which I have no proof.

So, say when I was out with Robert who was then two and a nice old gentleman kept insisting Robert sit on his lap (in a wheel chair) and he’d give him a ride.  Of course I didn’t allow it. Stranger in powered conveyance picking up my kid? nope.  But I’m not going to tell you the gentleman was a pedophile, or wanted to kidnap my kid.

Perhaps. I mean, he struck some odd cords, and it was a so so area of town. And he was really insistent. OTOH Robert was a cute kid, and older people who like kids can get lonely and, well… it might all have been very nice.

It’s important to remember I’m not psychic, otherwise the incipient paranoia kicks in, and we start going “What the? Perhaps…” And next thing you know you’re shouting “get away from my kid, pedophile” at what is probably just an addled elderly man. Like the crazy woman’s studies professor someone talked about before who, when two guys approached to see if she needed help ran hell for leather to a policeman and told him these guys wanted to rape her. (They just wanted to see if she needed car-help.)

That’s part of the problem.

The left is really good at creating in-head narratives that get added to disparate facts and convince people they’re psychic. They’re not.

Take the Covington boys. I never saw a smirk. As the mother of boys, now men, what I saw was mortally embarrassed teen boy.

But if you think that all white people particularly those who support Trump and wear MAGA anything are racist, you’re going to see the kid, with the Amerindian that close and be “psychic” about what the kid is thinking and what his face is doing. (For the record, because DAZ 3-D renders suck on expressions, I keep leaving them blank. But people SEE expressions according to context, which in this case was in their minds.)

Same with the guy in Chicago (some kind of TV star) supposedly assaulted by people who yelled racist and homophobic comments and yelled “this is MAGA country.”

And this is where you know the left is not telepathic.  Sorry. I can see someone assaulting a black gay man somewhere (it’s a country of 300 million. There’s assholes.)

But if this happened at all — and it’s not a fake one, which it kind of smells like for other reasons — the chances of attackers yelling “This is MAGA country” are close to zero.

Why? Because it’s not a phrase anyone on the right would say. EVER. I move in those circles and I’ve NEVER heard that.

But the left has so convinced itself that MAGA means white supremacy (Are they that racist that they think when the country was great it was all white? When would that be? I can’t think of any time, ever) that they think this is perfectly plausible.

The rest of us go “Racist, homophobic attack? Sure, could happen. Probably not political, though.  Just two outlaws (it’s always the known wolves) trying to be cute.”

But the left sees politics. The same way during the Covington incident, they heard the kids shout “build the wall” because, you know, they’re obsessed with this, so the right will just shout it at random.  And it would be random. There was no one there that would have been kept out by a wall.  If the kids were surrounded by a hostile Mexican gang? Maybe that would make some sense.  This way? No.

It just goes on.  And they deduce the craziest things because they think they know what we’re thinking.

Hence you know, you think the current books winning awards suck? You think that a revenge fantasy which imagines that all of the working class in America is racist, sexist, homophobic shouldn’t even be on the awards ballot, much less two awards ballots and win one?  Well, that is because you’re trying to keep minorities and sexual minorities from writing sf/f.  Even if it doesn’t make any sense. Even if you’re not a gatekeeper. Even if you are a woman, a minority or gay yourself.  It must be, because that makes sense, so the left “psychically” sees through your motives.

Or you don’t like your box who happens to be a woman, and you’re a man? well, you’re sexist, have mommy issues, and your penis is small.

What the hell is this even? It’s like the worst of Freudianism, where the theories kept getting more complex, until no cigar was just a cigar, no fish was just a fish, and it was all deeply sexual and having to do with your mother or father or….

Reality is not like that.  In reality, you don’t know what others are thinking.  You should watch how they act, and if they’re not dangerous, you should give them a chance.  Or you know, ask them why they did something.

And just because TV sells the idea all people to the right of Lenin are racist, sexist homophobic, what you should ask yourself is how they know.  Because they don’t. They’re just otherizing people who think differently.

And they’re not psychic either. And 90% of the time they’re objectively wrong the only way it counts: in predicting how people will act in the real world.



Feelings and Facts


Look, there are two worlds as far as each of us is concerned: the world behind our eyes, and the world outside.

What I mean to say is this: you as a person feel, think and believe all sorts of things.

No one outside that space behind your eyes has to believe you.

I think I’m more attuned to this than anyone else, because the space behind my eyes contains multitudes, and the feelings/thoughts/feelings are often not exactly mine. (Recently while scouring the web for reviews of my work for an application, I came across people who consistently believed that a) my characters are me. b) the romance in the books is the romance I want.
First, people who could believe I’m both Athena and Dyce need their heads examined. Second, I’m well fixed for romance, thank you.  Have been for 34 years. And my husband has not a vague resemblance to ANY of the guys in my books. Not even a little. Not even when I bring out A Fatal Paws, where the husband is a mathematician. The technical name for someone who confuses character and author is “idiot.”)

In fact, because human memory is fallible and what we notice of the world is so dependent on us being ill, or distracted, or whatever, it’s virtually impossible that the world inside your head matches what really happened and what didn’t (i.e. facts.)

If you’ve ever lived with someone else you know this.  Dan and I are if not similar very congruent, in that we tend to take the same conclusions from things, even if we get there through different routes.  BUT if you get us into what I call “old married couple bikering” over when how or whether something happened, it can go on for hours.  “No, it was a Thursday.” “It was a Wednesday. I remember because the cat was ill.” Etc. It often turns out both of us are conflating different incidents with yet a third incident, because the image of the world inside our heads got confused (and these are usually minor things.)

Beyond that, particularly if you’ve been indoctrinated or are young and stupid enough to believe the media wholesale, you’ll put bizarre interpretations on things.  Which is how we get someone being offended by a picture of coal miners and deciding this meant people of color weren’t welcome at the restaurant.

His initial mistake wasn’t awful. I mean it’s stupid to say you feel “threatened” by the picture.  Insulted is not the same as threatened. I’m really tired of people saying that anything that offends them or insults them is “threatening.” No, you goofballs. Threatened is when someone says “Quitcher bellyaching or I’m going to give you what for.” That’s a threat.  Whether it’s a credible threat depends on the size of the person saying it and whether they’re holding a weapon. If it’s a 90 lb woke woman saying this to a 300 lb man it will be treated as a joke, no matter how much she thinks she is “90 pounds of get back.” Which yes, is based on a real incident, and again goes back to how the world inside your head doesn’t match the outside. No matter how many movies you’ve seen where the amazing! Feminist! woman! just beats a 300 lb man with no effort, reality is likely not to match.  And if, unlike that incident, the man is of a mean disposition and unchivalrous, the mismatch with reality is going to hurt a hell of a lot, even without his trying.

But if you’re a city-bred twat I can see looking at the picture with the minors WELL DRESSED (by our time’s standards) and in what appears to be black face and being offended. However, once someone explains the context to you, to double down is a thing of madness.  It is in fact, bad crazy. I.e. an insistence that people cater to the world inside your particular head and not to reality.

You see, most babies realize there’s a difference between the world behind the eyes and the world outside by I think around six months. They see the difference between me-not me.  I.e. you can move your foot, but you can’t move the mobile over the crib, unless you kick it with your foot.

But we have raised generations of kids by telling them their feelings are important, and yes, that disagreement or argument is “threatening.” So they’ve lost that distinction.

I can no longer find it, but one of the private conferences I frequent, had a video of a woman telling a guy wearing a MAGA hat is racist because she FEELS it is and feelings are real.

[Does sinal salute.]  Of course feelings are real.  A friend who is a psychiatrist keeps telling me I need to own and investigate my feelings, because they are real.

But they are real TO ME in the space behind my eyes.  For instance, if I hear Green Acres I feel all unsettled.  When Lisbon TV stations were taken over in a revolution (oh, you don’t want to know) or attempted coup, the Porto station got cut off.  And all they could even play between occasional news updates were some old reels of Green Acres.  Coming into the house at lunch time and hearing that music was a BAD sign.

Does that mean that Green Acres must mean revolution and unsettled times to anyone else? No.  And yet my feeling is REAL.  Sure it is, and the mature response to it is to go “Long ago and far away” and wander off while the kids watch it. Even if the conditioned feeling never fully goes away.

In the same way if you’ve been taught to be scared of MAGA hats, men with dirty faces, or for that matter “people who don’t look like you” the feeling is real. But before acting on it, or demanding others change to suit your “feelings” you need to step back and go “do I have any RATIONAL reason to feel this way?”  And then in many cases you have to overcome those feelings, so you can live in civilized society.

Because here is the thing, if you have to listen to everyone’s “feelings” and every single person’s feelings are as real as facts, we will all need to isolate ourselves from everyone else.  I mean, Vegans feel meat is murder. Are they entitled to execute everyone else? I feel very strongly that Marxism needs to be rooted out. I’m totes entitled to hold brain-washing sessions on everyone, and kill Occasional Cortex before she infects more people, right?  And I feel loons who assume MAGA hats are really really racist (even though there’s no FACTS to back this up other than their feelings) need to shut their whiny mouths or be given whatfor. So, if I wear a MAGA hat, which of us wins? Care to place bets?

Feelings are real and you need to learn to deal with them. You can’t just deny them. But neither can you impose them on anyone else.  Particularly when they PRESUME other people’s thoughts and feelings. Because, hey, guess what, you’re not psychic. Just because you FEEL someone is doing this or that because of “x” it doesn’t mean you’re right. And if you have no facts (and I mean facts, not, “but the media said”) outside your skull to back it up, your feelings are YOUR PROBLEM and no one else’s.

When you scream “you can’t deny my feelings” that’s besides the point.  No one denies you feel the way you do. Well, not unless they’re playing psychic, themselves.

What people can and should do is challenge the mismatch between feelings and facts.  Ones can’t be imposed on others, and the others impose themselves on all of us. Because reality is still what it is.

To think otherwise, to think that your feelings should dictate how everyone acts is a form of solipsism, where you think you’re the only real person ever.  Because if that’s not true, you will be able to realize you’ll run into other’s feelings, that contradict yours.

What this stupid idea is, really, is bad-crazy. That which unmakes civilization.