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.

FRANK TIPS FOR WRITING SATIRE – by Frank J. Fleming

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FRANK TIPS FOR WRITING SATIRE – by Frank J. Fleming

Hi,

It’s me, Frank J. Fleming. I’ve written a lot of satire. I started writing at my blog,
IMAO.us, (though now that’s mainly run by Harvey, who is either a completely different person or a pseudonym of mine — I’ve never been clear on that) and I now write at
The Babylon Bee and have written a comedic science fiction novel, Hellbender,
which has a lot of satire in it. So I thought I’d give tips on how to write satire, since everyone other than me is terrible at it.

FRANK TIPS FOR WRITING SATIRE – by Frank J. Fleming

Create
a good satirical headline.

The key to satire — especially political satire — is a great satirical headline. This is so easy if you follow a simple formula.

First, pick a subject your audience doesn’t like. Let’s say you all don’t like Bernie Sanders (even though he’s adorable). Next, grab a headline for him. For instance, “Bernie Sanders Promises to Pay Back Everyone’s Student Loans.” Now, take that normal headline
and simply add to the end of it, “What an Idiot.”

“Bernie Sanders Promises to Pay Back Everyone’s Student Loans; What an Idiot”

Boom!

Now you have a satirical headline that’s going to be a big hit. Since you know your audience doesn’t like Bernie Sanders, they’ll all read the headline and say, “He is an idiot! This is funny because it’s true!”

Just make sure you’re making fun of someone your audience doesn’t like, because if you make fun of someone they do like, that’s what you call “bad satire.” And then you’re going to get mobbed and probably doxxed. A good strategy for that is to own multiple houses.

Ha, you idiots; I wasn’t even at that house you doxxed! That was a burner home!

Fill up the rest of the article.

After the headline, you need to write the rest of the satirical article, because that’s the custom. But I’ll give you a tip: No one reads the rest of the article. When you have a great headline — especially combined with a funny picture — everyone just laughs
at that and moves on. Kids these days don’t have attention spans for big blocks of text, what with their video games and YouTubes and boom boxes. So don’t spend any time on the rest of the article. Just do what I do and mainly fill it up with text you cut and pasted from random Wikipedia articles.

Both males and females grow to an adult length of 24 to 40 cm (9.4 to 15.7 in) from snout to vent, with a total length of 30 to 74 cm (12 to 29 in), making them the third-largest aquatic salamander species in the world (after the Chinese giant salamander and the
Japanese giant salamander, respectively) and the largest amphibian in North America, although this length is rivaled by the reticulated siren of the southeastern United States (although the siren is much leaner in build).

Find a good source for jokes.

People are always asking me, “How do you come up with your ideas?” Well, it’s easy. When big news breaks, I just log on to Twitter and see what people are saying about it. And then I steal any jokes people have that I think are funny.

I really think Twitter is the best place to steal jokes. People are just constantly putting jokes out for free, and you can grab as many as you want and no one can stop you. I mean, a couple of times the police have come to my house and said, “We’ve gotten reports you’ve been stealing tweets.” But they never have a warrant. So I just say I’ve never heard of Twitter and tell them to scram. I can see from the look in their eyes they really want to shoot me and plant drugs on me, but so far it hasn’t happened.

Still, to protect yourself, you may want to make a dummy account on Twitter to use for logging on and stealing jokes. A good way to make a pseudonym is to take your first and last name and then just switch the first letters of each. For instance, if your name is
“Sarah Hoyt,” your pseudonym will be “Harah Soyt.” No one will know. Unfortunately, that technique doesn’t work for me (or most comic book characters), so I’m kinda stuck.

Explain the joke.

One big problem with satire is people not understanding something is satire. This is a big problem with all the people who work at Snopes. They’re always trying to disprove satire I write and report me, which is scary, because Trump just passed a law that will
deport anyone accused of making fake news.

I don’t want to get deported to Mexico! I mean, it sounds trivial to sneak back into the U.S., but still, that seems like a bit of a walk.

So make sure you explain your joke well so everyone gets that it’s a joke. For example, let’s say we think Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is dumb (even though she’s delightful) and want to write satire about it. We do something like this:

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Accidentally Strangles Herself While Tying Her Shoes Because She Is So Dumb [This Is a Joke and Not a Thing That Really Happened]

The proceeding is a satirical joke and not a real thing that happened.

Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tried to tie her shoes the other day — a thing even a child can do but is hard for her because she is dumb — and instead accidentally strangled herself on account of her stupidity. And we’re all glad she’s dead because she’s a socialist.

The preceding was satire. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not dead and whether or not she is a stupid is an opinion reasonable people can disagree on.

There. Now we have a very well written piece of satire that makes itself very clear as to what it’s doing. We kept emphasizing that AOC was dumb so people understood the point of the article. And we also made it clear it was just a joke so no one would get confused
and no government agents would break into our house in the middle of the night and shove us into a box and ship us out of the country.

Be smart in choosing your targets.

There’s a saying in comedy: “Always punch down.” That means choose targets smaller and weaker than yourself. There’s a good reason for this. If you only pick on the poor and powerless, you’re never going to get sued for slander because they don’t have the money for that. It’s just common sense. It also reduces the cost of your satire insurance (oh yeah — buy satire insurance in case you get sued or need money to fight a deportation hearing).

The best targets for satire are the Amish. They don’t even have internet to know anyone is making fun of them. It’s completely riskless. I mean, they’ll always wonder why everyone is pointing and laughing at them when they ride around in their buggies, but they’ll never figure it out. The worst target for satire is President Trump. He is big and powerful and has nukes. Plus, I think making fun of him hurts his feelings.

Well, those are all my tips for writing satire. Or, better yet, just buy my hilarious new science fiction novel Hellbender and read that. I broke my own rule and wrote stuff in it other than just the title. And if you don’t like it, I’ve purchased five homes spread out across the country, so you’ll never find me.

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Doug wasn’t sure whether he should trust Satan.

The red flag was that he said he was Satan. But the deal was good: Listen to Satan’s story in exchange for some donuts. And Doug only half-fulfilled his part of the bargain.

But maybe he should have listened better, because during his friend Bryce’s next scheme (theft with light to moderate treason—the usual), Doug and the rest of his friends—Lulu (the fun one) and Charlene (the not fun one)—end up with a powerful artifact, a small metal cube with world-ending power that Lulu decorated with bunnies. And now everyone wants the bunny cube, which means Doug, Bryce, Lulu, and Charlene are being pursued by an insane supermodel general, an army of sadists, a vast criminal organization, a smaller, more-in-startup-mode criminal organization, and an unstoppable killing machine—the worst kind of killing machine.

Doug and his friends may be a bunch of losers who aren’t particularly smart or good at anything, but they have one thing going for them: a really cool name for their mercenary group. And now it’s up to Hellbender to save the world—well, what’s left of it. It’s pretty ruined and war-torn already. But, you know, they live there, so they kind of need it.

It’s a mess, but that’s what you get for listening to Satan. Or half-listening.

It’s a Fair Cop

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It’s a fair cop, but society is to blame.

How often have we heard that? How much was it dinned into our brains in childhood?

Did you know it was a point in a Soviet dizinformazia campaign, one of several memes with which they willfully infected western civilization in hopes of bringing it down?

From Neocon:

—Crime is the fault of society, not the individual criminal. Poor criminals are entitled to what they take. Submitting to criminal predation is more virtuous than resisting it.

Yes, there are a lot of poisonous memes in that list.  But it was a bit of overkill. For unmaking civilization, this would suffice and is enough.

Why? Because it both removes all individual responsibility and makes it impossible to fix crime, predation and injustice without making society perfect.

Of course, to make society perfect, you have to eliminate all humans who are imperfect, until the perfect man emerges. Which in turn brings us to the 100 million graves filled by communism.

Because humans aren’t — can’t be — perfect. And therefore society will never be perfect.

Like all the most effective and poisonous lies, it has a bit of truth. The type of truth all of us will realize who are human and have from up as humans.

The true part of the idea is that of course criminals act the way they do partly because of how they are, and partly because of how they were raised, and the things that influenced their childhood.  Look, none of us thinks otherwise. We know. We know from our own childhood.  The things we feel we did wrong, surely wouldn’t have happened that way if we’d been told how they would affect others.  (Or would they?)

We know how our order of birth, or who loved us and who didn’t in our childhood affected out own development.  And if we have a modicum of imagination, we can see that if we’d grown up in a different environment, we’d have been criminals, right?

That’s the truth and the lie of that meme.

First of all, sure, the circumstances in which you grew up affect you.  The thing is, we don’t know how much, or even how.  And part of the reason we don’t know it is that it might be different for each person.  Nurture or nature? Yes. And to each person perhaps different.

But the lie…  We do know incentives work. They work on puppies, they work on kittens and they work on humans. Yes, they work on each human differently. But if you believe something you do is good and will lead to good, you can overcome a lot of your nature.

One of my funniest and most continuous discussions with my two sons is when they tell me they’re incredibly lazy.

They’re not wrong.  And I’ve seen them be horribly, self-destructively lazy. I remember the summer when they were in their teens when I swear neither of them saw the sun before noon, and neither of them did anything worth mentioning, except argue and watch illegal car races (Outside our window when we lived in downtown Colorado Springs.  At least outside our window that year.) Any request they do anything worth doing was met with sullen complaining.

But then each of them turned to what they must do to achieve the profession (vocation?) they wanted.  And they changed.

Which is why I argue with them. They are busy, scrambling-to-make-money-while-training-for-arduous-professions young men, and no one who sees them would say “lazy.” Because of what they want to do in life, and what it requires.

I understand them, because I am also horribly lazy. And my motivation often fails. It’s been more or less broken since I realized that traditional publishing would not allow me to succeed (by which I don’t mean that the format would not allow it, but that I’d not be allowed. That everything would be brought to bear to make me fail. Partly because my first series failed, and thus according to their broken model, it must be my fault, and if I look like I’m doing well, I’m really not, and their model must be proven right by refusing even a modicum of support to my work.)  I’m overcoming it. By main force of will power.  And yeah, sometimes will power breaks.

Anyway, the problem with that entire “society is to blame” meme is that it precludes that scrambling, that will power, that strength that is required to survive. It corrupts the idea that we’re all born with defects, and yet it is our honor and duty to overcome them, and that the greater the handicaps we’re born with, the greater our honor when overcoming them.

The problem with forgiving the criminal with “it’s society’s fault” is that it condemns the many people who were born with the same disadvantages and never committed crimes, and often did well.

It taints all success with evil.  You want to know where the poisonous leftist idea that if you’re wealthy you must be a criminal comes from? It’s in there.  Yes, it’s complemented by the stupid idea that all wealth is a fixed pie and no one should take more than “enough” but it comes from the envy and evil of that “society is to blame” meme first of all.

Because if you must excuse criminals because “society is to blame” (i.e. they were born poor or “disadvantaged” — and that word is poisonous enough in itself –) then what happens when people born in horrible poverty “make it”, sometimes to the highest ranks of wealth and power?

Well, if poverty makes you a criminal, then these too must be criminals, only they’re better at hiding it, and therefore extra evil.  And I just gave you the key to 90% of the mysteries written by leftists, in which the rich or powerful man is to blame.

And if people who “make it” are demonstrably not criminals?  Well, then they must have had “advantages” and “privileges” we know nothing of.  And there you have the ridiculous idea that if your parents read to you in childhood, or encouraged you to learn, or did anything good towards your future development, you were “privileged” no matter how stone cold broke you grew up and how many things went against you.

Both the words “disadvantaged” and “privileged” are broken in this use.  They don’t mean what they’re made to mean.  Poverty gives you disadvantages, but if you’re a grown up human being, you know there are many other advantages and disadvantages, that have nothing to do with monetary wealth. There just are, because society is imperfect, because it’s made of imperfect humans.  As for privileges, as Pratchett pointed out they refer to the power of those are in charge, those who can command a “private law.”

Reading books is not a private law, nor does it give you a private law. It’s a familial culture that, yes, helps in success, but doesn’t guarantee it.  I don’t know about you, but I know people brought up by book-reading parents who have never cracked a book open and live in the ever-shifting world of TV blabbing.  (And some of them still do well.)

It’s not difficult either for you — or me, or anyone with half a brain — to come up with the same history, one leading to power and money, and one to crime, and see the person described as “disadvantaged” or “privileged” depending on how you look at it and weather the person is in the boardroom or jail.

Yeah, there are really bad cases, where someone would need to be a hero to survive and succeed.  And yet some people make it, even from there. (Apropos that, there is this post from bookworm room this weekend.)

People will never all be born the same in the same circumstances, because society is made of humans: that is jumped up monkeys who can’t see the future and are prey to their impulses.

Even the best of us could never, ever ever be perfect all the time. It’s not possible. And it’s not possible to keep yourself from doing harm.  Just like every child who grew up knows he was a victim of injustice several times, every parent alive, ever, has a sackful of guilt for all the times we did the wrong thing knowing it was wrong, but at the time we just couldn’t do anything else. Our health, our emotions, our fallible nature made it impossible for us to do the right thing, or even avoid doing the wrong thing.

When you remove the responsibility for criminality from the criminal and put it on “society”, you’re demanding that society be perfect.

You’re also taking someone who has chosen to commit a crime KNOWING it was a crime (yes, lefties, most people know it’s wrong to rape, to murder, etc. Those who don’t already fall under “diminished capacity” and there are ways to keep them from harming themselves or others) and telling them it’s not their fault. That is, giving them leeway to fail/be criminals over and over again. Which means you’re entrapping them in envy, in evil, in refusal to change their ways. Because how can they if society is to blame.

Yes, I DO know we know now that people can be born psychopaths.  What we don’t know is what that means.  We do know that it doesn’t mean you must become a mass murderer or a career criminal.

But if society is to blame, there is no escape. Because society isn’t perfect, we can’t refrain from killing or robbing or whatever. We’re all damned from the moment we first draw breath.

I do believe how we’ve come to the point where much of the left must believe in invisible demons like “white privilege”, because you know, some people obviously come from somewhere profoundly broken and still make it. Something must explain it, in the heads of the left.  So, white privilege, and book reading privilege, and words and math being patriarchal, and…

We’ve also, sadly come to how socialism (which also accepts this tenet) kills, either directly (by say, denial of socialized health care) or by preventing reproduction.  If individual humans have no agency, what point is there in reproducing? We’re all part of a vast, collective meat-engine, groaning from evil to evil with no ability to self determine.

It also explains why they hate the more or less apolitical Jordan Peterson that much. He says “Sure, you’re made of snakes. We’re all made of snakes. It’s still your responsibility to clean up your room and live a decent life.”  This is anathema to “society is to blame, and therefore the greatest criminals are just victims.”  As it should be.  And it makes him an existential threat to the gospel of the left.

It’s evil. It’s an evil, destructive lie. Unfortunately I’m not even 100% sure the Soviet Union knew how destructive it was.  You see, it’s part of the Marxist creed that humans were at some point perfect, until property and “greed” came into the world, inaugurating the “capitalist” (the rest of us call it humans being humans. So that’s a lie, too) system, which then “distorts” humans, so society isn’t perfect and there’s crime.  For Marx this would all be cured when communism automagically descended upon the world with the withering of the state.

Apparently it never occurred to the angry inkblot that if humans were still humans, this would never happen.  Or that if it happened there would be no point to humanity, because all of us would just be perfect automatons living perfect lives.

Of course you were born in an unfair society. Duh. It’s human, created by fallible humans.  And of course, the way you were raised, hell, the way you were born is going to make you susceptible to errors that in turn hurt others.  OF COURSE it is.

Does this mean nothing is your fault?  Oh, please. Be real. You know very well when you choose to do wrong things.  And all it takes is ANY contact with the criminal population to know they choose.

Real crimes, not you know, the procedural crimes that infect our penal code, you know what you’re doing. You choose what you’re doing.  When you rob, when you kill, it’s not society doing it, it’s you. And telling you that you’re a victim, just enables you to do it over and over again, which in turn, of course, makes society more broken and allows the snakeoil salesmen of communism to come along and promise peace and prosperity.  Which, somehow, always turn out to be more power and wealth to those in charge, while the people below them, despite all curtailment of freedom (they must after all be made to be perfect) become more and more corrupt (because humans can’t be perfect. They can only life about it.)

It’s time to fight back. And the first place to fight back is inside your own mind.  No, society is not to blame.  No, you’re not entirely a free agent either.

Be merciful. Be as merciful as you can be, without turning the evil-doer into the victim and thereby being cruel to the actual victims.

And above all, be merciful to yourself. And demanding of yourself, too. The two are not incompatible.

Yes, you will fail. You will fail many times.  Anyone who has achieved anything knows it starts with failing many many times.  And sometimes it won’t be your fault (like I wouldn’t know that. Though part of it is, too, my fault.) And sometimes it will be.

The attraction of Marxism is utterly exonerating you and allowing you to five in to your worst impulses.

Like all such doctrines, it brings only evil.

Yeah, you’re made of snakes. That dinosaur brain, that monkey brain will betray you over and over again.

But you also know you have at least some control over your fate.  Start small. Aim high and start small. Do what you can to make yourself and the world better today.

Humans are born to strive. We’re not cattle or pets to live in perfect happiness.

Society isn’t perfect. It’s most of the time not even good. And isn’t that a great opportunity?

Do what you can today.  Establish your goals. Aim for them. Work towards them, even if they seem unattainable from where you are.

One step, two, and sometime in the future you’ll see you’ve come miles towards the goal.

Forgive yourself when you fail and keep at it.

There is no such thing as privilege, except the privilege of all humans: to strive towards what we want.  That is your very own “private law”. The law you make your own, with your own will power.  “I’ll forgive others and myself for failing, but I won’t hold myself excused from TRYING.”

There are disadvantages. All of us have them. Yes, many of them are invisible.

Disadvantages are there to be overcome. That’s what we are. That’s what we do.

And now I’m going to do at least a little bit of work towards my goal of making an impact on the culture with my writing.

And you go too and take at least a few steps. Today. Just start. Who knows where it will end?

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

Book Promo

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

FROM MARGARET BALL: The Language of the Dragon (Dragon Speech Book 1.

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When linguist Sienna Brown comes across a battered notebook containing transcriptions of a totally new and unfamiliar language all she wants is a chance to study it. But even while she discovers the reality-warping power of the language and the high price of using that power, she’s targeted by other people who want the notebook for themselves and don’t care who gets hurt by their pursuit. Can she save herself without compromising her own sanity?

FROM MACKEY CHANDLER:  Friends in the Stars (Family Law Book 5.

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It’s hard living next to a giant, even a friendly one, much less a clumsy hostile giant. Earth’s unfriendly billions were an unpredictably restive presence. The Kingdom of Central was on the Moon, and the three allied habitats of Home were already forced to move from Low Earth Orbit to beyond the Moon, dancing around a common center in a halo orbit. That bought them some time, but wasn’t nearly far enough away. The Spacers knew it would come to a bad end. The only question was how, when, and would they survive it? The only refuge was in the stars where they had friends.

FROM BLAKE SMITH: More Courage Than Sense: A Scene from The Garia Cycle.

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The sun-baked Alcazar is a place of wonder, where people from all over the world come to trade for the riches of southern Garia- and beyond. But danger lurks in the shadows, and when Zara ventures outside the safety of the castle and into the wilds of the city, she must use all of her cunning to escape safely, with a little aid from the most unlikely of strangers.

FROM MIGUEL FLIGUER:  Cooking With Lovecraft: Supernatural Horror In The Kitchen.

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Cooking With Lovecraft is a collection of short gastronomical weird tales, that will also give you directions to make real, tested, delicious dishes. Sometimes the recipe will be just an excuse for the story, sometimes the other way around, and occasionally there won’t be no recipe at all. Most of the stories are tongue-in-cheek, even outright silly, as an affectionate tribute to Lovecraft and the Mythos; but a couple of tales are a bit different.

And this is not your typical “Lovecraftian cookbook” full of inedible witches’ potions. All recipes here are real food, tested and tasted by friends and family, and fairly easy to make.

You will find treats like “Bratwurst mit Sauerkraut” (diary of the cook at the U-29 from “The Temple“); “Anziques Kebab“; “Gulab Jamun“; extra-crispy “Fried Honey-Garlic Chicken of Tindalos“; the Jermyn family recipe for “Banana Bread“; and Theodorus Philetas’ Necronomicon “Spanakopita.”

There is also a spine-chilling take on Robert Bloch (“How I Fed Your Mother“); an alternate-history riff (“The Horror From The Ice-Cream“); straight-out retellings of Lovecraft classics (“The Feastival“, “Commonplace Cookbook“, “The Flavor Out Of Space” and “The Uneatable“); a Kafka/Zappa pastiche (“The Dangerous Kitchen“); and much, much more for your literary and culinary pleasures.

FROM FRANK J. FLEMING (YES, OF IMAO.US FAME):  Hellbender.

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Doug wasn’t sure whether he should trust Satan.

The red flag was that he said he was Satan. But the deal was good: Listen to Satan’s story in exchange for some donuts. And Doug only half-fulfilled his part of the bargain.

But maybe he should have listened better, because during his friend Bryce’s next scheme (theft with light to moderate treason—the usual), Doug and the rest of his friends—Lulu (the fun one) and Charlene (the not fun one)—end up with a powerful artifact, a small metal cube with world-ending power that Lulu decorated with bunnies. And now everyone wants the bunny cube, which means Doug, Bryce, Lulu, and Charlene are being pursued by an insane supermodel general, an army of sadists, a vast criminal organization, a smaller, more-in-startup-mode criminal organization, and an unstoppable killing machine—the worst kind of killing machine.

Doug and his friends may be a bunch of losers who aren’t particularly smart or good at anything, but they have one thing going for them: a really cool name for their mercenary group. And now it’s up to Hellbender to save the world—well, what’s left of it. It’s pretty ruined and war-torn already. But, you know, they live there, so they kind of need it.

It’s a mess, but that’s what you get for listening to Satan. Or half-listening.

FROM E.M. FONER:  Date Night on Union Station (EarthCent Ambassador Book 1)

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“Good SciFi comedy is as rare as hen’s teeth. This was a fun read.”

Kelly Frank is EarthCent’s top diplomat on Union Station, but her job description has always been a bit vague. The pay is horrible and she’s in hock up to her ears for her furniture, which is likely to end up in a corridor because she’s behind on rent for her room. Sometimes she has to wonder if the career she has put ahead of her personal life for fifteen years is worth it.

When Kelly receives a gift subscription to the dating service that’s rumored to be powered by the same benevolent artificial intelligence that runs the huge station, she decides to swallow her pride and give it a shot. But as her dates go from bad to worse, she can only hope that the supposedly omniscient AI is planning a happy ending.

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: field

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The Howling Season

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I think I was 12 or 13 when I first became acquainted with the concept of “the silly season” i.e. the idea that as the weather grows hot and people are on vacation, there are no real news happening, and both the things that tend to happen and what gets published in the paper gets weirder and weird, which in turn feeds the stranger things happening, which in turn–

Recently, when one of us, in a group of friends, complained about the strangeness of the left — if you don’t think them strange, consider that a congresswoman under suspicion of being anti-America and anti-Semitic chose to make a big display of being both. Or let’s consider the left bringing in a real anti-Semite and real white supremacist to condemn Trump and say he stood with aforementioned dim bulb congresswoman. Or consider the democrat candidates: all of them. A multiplication of dwarves, a concatenation of mental midgets, each trying to fun to the left of the other as though he were convinced, as a leftist journalist trying to call them to sense said “that he was running in a country slightly to the left of Sweden.” — a journalist friend said “it’s just the silly season.”

But it is not. If it were just the silly season, the long hot summer of political silliness, it wouldn’t be sending people who used to be leftist but reasonable off their rocker, stomping all over public spaces demanding that you admit you’re racist if you support Trump — even though (and I didn’t know this when I ran Tom’s post about the bruhaha) Trump never named anyone of any color and simply said that if certain congresswomen (there was even no certainty he meant more than one. It could be a rethorical flourish, like when I tell my husband that if certain husbands expect me to cook dinner they might want to help me medicate the cat/move furniture/setup a website) prefer the shitholes they came from to the country they now live in, they can go back and show us what to do.

And as for the complete idiot who came to my facebook echo of that post to say that the “woman of color” only wanted America to live up to her promise, and if I didn’t like it it was because I was racist: bullshit, with bells on.  The woman of color (which I don’t give a fuck about except for her being tinged deep red) on her website enjoins us to abolish private property, in public says that Al Qaeda is not bad or evil, but the US army is, and says the Jews are all “about the benjamins.”  What about that sounds like the promise of America? Unless she took the wrong turn and really had meant to immigrate to the former USSR (someone get her a time machine, stat.)

This is not nor has it ever been — any of it — the promise of America. And no matter how much she says she loves what America “could be” she is exactly as Trump said: someone who loves the country from which she fled and holds on to its values. She should go there, abolish private property (is she going to fight the warlords single handed? let’s put it on payperview) and see how long it lasts.

What this has to do with her race, I don’t know.

Technically I probably have a lot ethnicity wise in common with another of the idiots who identified with that tweet — as though Trump had entered into a crowded bar and said “hey stupid” and these four had taken offense, even though no one had been  named — than I do with most of my readers.  I suspect I have a lot in common gene-wise with Alexandria of the very Occasional Cortex.  As an aristocratic Latin she’s probably mostly Spanish and because of the timing of the colonization of the Americas has a good bit of Northern Portuguese blood (because it was easier to get rid of the hotheads in the occupied country that way.) Does this mean I’m self-hating when I hate and despise her half-witted Marxism?

No. While I think Portuguese culture for various reasons is not suited to wide spread prosperity and doesn’t suit me particularly, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with my Portuguese blood or even (groan, I hate you 23 and me) my Spanish blood. In moments of amusement, amid friends of the same ancestry I’ve been known to shout “Mediterranean peoples uber alas.”  (Note that’s a joke. I don’t believe in any racial supremacy nor inherent racial inferiority. Unlike the racialists of the left I know the difference between race and culture.)

I do think there is something completely wrong and despicable about Marxist beliefs.

I’m willing to be friends with Marxists who are the sort of idealist Marxist who know it will never work in real life, but oh, they wish it could. I presume they are Odds, were raised in books, and couldn’t figure out how real humans are with two hands and a seeing eye dog. So I’ll argue them to them, but not despise them. Or we’ll ignore politics, if they’re willing and talk of the things we have in common: writing, or sewing, or painting, or– A dozen things that make me me besides my hatred of Marxist ideology and a dozen things that make them them despite their misguided love of it.

BUT I could never be friends with Alexandria Misfiring Cortex because she’s one of those who is trying to put those words into practice and is either too stupid to realize what results every time — 100 million dead int he 20th century — too blinkered not to realize the stupidity of “Capitalism is even worse” (because, look, yes, free market is not perfect because humans aren’t perfect, and surely there are injustices. OTOH one on one and man on man or woman on woman your chances in a free country are 99% better than in any controlled economy from the suffocating elitist socialism of Europe to the deadly authoritarianism of North Korea or Cuba.) The alternative is that she’s so venal she doesn’t care. She knows those at the top of such a system get wealthy (see, the Castro brothers) and she thinks she can sell the high fallutin’ ideals to maleducated youth, and she couldn’t care less how the mass graves are filled, provided she has the aristocratic lifestyle and the money.

In any case, I see nothing to like or even forgive in any of those options. I don’t hate her because of her skin color (more or less like mine, depending on the amount of sun) but because of the deep red hue of her beliefs. The red of the 100 million eggs broken in the name of Marxism without a single omelet in sight.

So, why can’t sane people on the left see that? And these are or were sane people. But now all they can do is yell about racism and threaten to block those who try to explain why they make the choices they do, and why it’s not racist.

And it’s happening everywhere, even in crochet and sewing groups. Even in miniature groups even in painting and drawing groups (why I haven’t taken a class in years.)

This is not the silly season.  Foxfier pinned it when she said this is the monkey dance. The left is doing the dance primates do to work themselves up to a physical attack or to make the opponent back down before the fight.

That means they’re both scared and threatened. But we know that. They’ve been getting more and more scared since this internet thing allowed us to talk back. You see, they thought their view was universal. This wasn’t just self-delusion or drinking their own ink. Those of their type in control of every means of mass communication, from education to newspapers were all agreed, and they’d steadily portrayed anyone who disagreed as crazy.

Their control first started to slip with Reagan’s election. I know the rest of you don’t see that, or not as clearly, but in the seventies, in Europe, we thought high inflation/high unemployment/steadily decreasing conditions of living were NORMAL and the result of “too many people” and it would get steadily worse.  Then Reagan was elected and for a brief time, things turned around in the US, and things were otherwise. And even though the mass media tried to vilify/obfuscate what happened, enough people remembered that even Clinton had to pretend to be fiscally responsible, and it took a long slide to get us to Obama, who — still stuck in the seventies like all Carter Groupies — kept telling us we should get used to things getting worse.

And you know, despite the internet, they did everything they could, including an amazing amount of fraud, to put Hillary in power. They thought they had us back under control and with her in power they could bring the state in to stomp us out. Or wait for us to die. As in the mess in SF/F these people always imagine they’re the youth, though most of them are older than us.

Then Trump won, and they’ve lost their minds. They’ve dismissed us, they’ve laughed at us, yet we refused to go away. The Monkey-Brain is in control. And the monkey brain is not very smart.  From this article:

So you have to hit this guy five or six or seven times and often that won’t work to get him to stop. That makes it look like you weren’t defending yourself; it makes it look like you were attacking.

The other problem when you’re talking about knives and self defense is the limbic system, or what I call the monkey brain.

eJournal: Meaning?

MacYoung: Rory Miller (www.chirontraining.com) writes about the monkey dance. His brilliant insight into the adrenal system, is that you don’t control the monkey dance, it controls you.

Your monkey brain will look at somebody and if he is in front of you, will see a threat. Doesn’t matter which way he’s facing, the monkey brain sees proximity and says “Threat!” So, if you’re hitting somebody with a knife and he’s not going away like you expected him to, you’re getting more scared. When he turns to run, your monkey brain doesn’t see that; it still sees him in front of you.

I just did a court case where this huge guy attacked a smaller guy and the smaller guy started slashing him. Most of the wounds were on the big guy’s back because he turned to run way. When you’re talking about self defense, and you’re slashing, you’re going to start putting defensive wounds on the guy who’s trying to run away.

eJournal: Due to a distortion of reality?

MacYoung: No. Primate behavior, because a monkey wants to chase the threat away.

eJournal: In this state, we’re not capable of distinguishing retreat or surrender?

MacYoung: You can, but you have to be trained. What I’m teaching is to break away. The reason I’m telling you to break contact and get back into the rational brain is that when you’re in your monkey brain, into the limbic system, you are operating emotionally, but you believe you’re being rational.

The thing is, of course, we’re not retreating. We can’t retreat because what they want from us it to go back to things how they were before the internet.  They want each of us who disagrees with them to think OURSELVES alone and probably crazy.

They want us to think that for reasons (including never proven reasons, like over population or scarcity) socialism is the only way for civilized humans to live, and therefore we must lump its severe flaws.

They want to go back to the time when the media was the only megaphone, and none of us knew there were others who held our opinions (or thought we were a small and dwindling minority.)

We can’t do that. If they kicked all of us off social media tomorrow, and silenced all of us, it would still not accomplish that. We’d KNOW we’re not alone, and next thing you know someone would be building a catapult to fling flaming Smart Cars at the statehouse and the rest of us would find him and help him. (Catapult probably a him. I’d be the crazy person painting over street names or writing scathing political verses in public toilets.)

They would know that, if they disengaged long enough to think it over. They would also know that — since you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube — perhaps engaging in rational dialogue would be better. They’d also — at some point — realize they’re not the majority that their possession of the megaphone led them to believe they were. In fact, they might be a much smaller minority than they thought.

The problem is they CAN’T do that.  All they know is they want us to retreat. They want the threat to go away. And they’re going to continue escalating the — for now verbal, with outbreaks of antifa — violence until we do.

Only we can’t do that, because we’re fighting for our lives and the lives of our descendants and the fate of the last great nation on Earth.

So–

This is not the silly season. This is the howling-insane season.

And it will keep ramping up and up.

Where it stops nobody knows.

Pray, pray very constantly. Pray for America. Pray for the world. Even if you don’t believe, pray. There is a chance that there is someone on the other end of that phone.  And we need a miracle.

And fight. Fight in every way you can to rebuild the culture, to talk back, to snatch from the fire of stupidity as-yet uncommitted brands or maleducated brands.

We should have spoken up long before this.

But it is the nature of the left to seek to control communication and to destroy those that disagree, so even 30 or 40 years ago, the price of talking back was very high.

It’s going to get higher.

There is no way out of this.  The only way out is through.

In the end we win, they lose, but it’s going to get horrible in the meantime.

 

Common Sense & Thomas Sowell – by Amanda S. Green

Common Sense & Thomas Sowell – by Amanda S. Green

 

Say the name Thomas Sowell to many liberals and you will quickly see them searching for ways to condemn him. He’s a well-respected, extremely well-educated person of color (to use the term du jour) who refuses to be a victim. Worse, he refuses to parrot the party line. Instead, he looks at history. He studies the facts. Then—gasp—he applies common sense. How dare he do anything but fall into whatever pre-ordained category they want to shuffle him off into.

Another reason the Left would dearly love to silence him is because his writing is easily readable by just about anyone. Don’t get me wrong. He can write an academic paper or book to rival anyone. But he can also take a serious topic and write about it in such a way the average person can not only understand the facts—and the implications—but enjoy reading about it. That is dangerous, at least to the other side. They don’t want the Average Joe reading facts and the considering the implications of what the Left’s policies might bring.

Sowell’s Controversial Essays is an excellent example of this. As I noted in an earlier post, this book is a collection of some of Professor Sowell’s newspaper essays and comments. Some may be years old, but the message still stands. And, unlike some of his other books, these are quick reads and organized in a way you can pick and choose what you want to read at the time.

But back to common sense.

One of Professor Sowell’s essays in the book is “Racial Profiling of Authors”. The title itself is enough to make you stop and do a double-take. After all, as Sowell points out in the first paragraph, police departments aren’t supposed to racially profile people. So why in the world are authors being racially profiled? And by whom?

The answer to the second question is easy and the professor answers it in the first paragraph. This profiling is being made by publishers and bookstores. At the time Sowell wrote the essay, they were a bit more subtle about it than they are now. But more on that later.

In this case, Sowell became aware of it when he discovered his book, Migrations and Cultures, filed away in the black studies section. To say it brought the professor up short is probably putting it mildly. After all, the book is about migrations “from Europe and Asia”. So why in the world was it in the black studies section?

The only answer that makes sense—because Professor Sowell is black.

Some people may actually think that they are doing black writers a favor by setting up a black authors’ section of a bookstore. But, with friends like these, who needs enemies? Black writers, like white writers, want their books to reach the readers—and anything that interferes with that is bad news. (CE, p. 281)

Put books where the readers don’t expect to find them. Kill sales. Blame everything but the stupidity behind the shelving.

The mindset behind this sort of product placement is baffling. Most readers don’t know what the author looks like, much less what race or ethnic background the author might come from. So to place a book that isn’t obviously about “black studies” or whatever in that section is to throttle the sales pipeline down to the trickle.

What had me rolling my eyes so hard they damned near fell out of my head was this:

The ridiculous lengths to which publishers can carry racial profiling was demonstrated to me when copies of my recently published book Basic Economics were sent out to Jet magazine, the Amsterdam News and other black publications. After I complained, copies were then sent to the Wall Street Journal and other publications dealing with economics. (CE, pg. 282)

Think about that for a minute. A book about economics by one of this country’s most famous voices on the topic at the time was NOT sent to the WSJ. But the publishers damn sure made certain the media outlets that catered to audiences with the same skin color as the author got copies. Of course, it didn’t matter if those outlets actually dealt with serious economic topics or not.

And publishing wonders why readers aren’t buying books in the numbers they want.

Since Professor Sowell wrote his essay, we’ve seen things go even further in publishing. Not only do bookstores continue their attempts to segregate books according to the sex or race or even religion in some instances of the author, without taking into account the content of the books, publishers and writers have really gotten into the movement as well. We’ve seen writers trying to start movements where they will only read things written by writers of a certain flavor for a whole year. Why? Because that flavor has been “marginalized” and we shouldn’t be reading anything by white, cis-male authors.

Forget about content, forget about reader desires. It is all about appearances any more.

Publishers have thrown in with this as well. Anthologies are proudly being promoted where you need only submit if you fall into a small segment of writers. You might need to be female and POC. You might need to be a non-normative sexually identified person. As long as you identify as a “marginalized” person for whatever, you might fit—if you are marginalized in the right way.

And, again, it is all about who and what the author is and not about the quality of the work or—gasp—about what the readers who will be buying the book want.

Professor Sowell nails it here:

You have reached the holy grail of “diversity” when you have black leftists, white leftists, female leftists and Hispanic leftists as professors. Major corporations across the country have their affirmative action officials and many also have “diversity consultants” who come in and harangue the employees with the politically correct party line on race. Not since the days when the Nazis spoke of “Jewish science” has the idea been so widespread that race is destiny as far as ideas are concerned. (CE, pg. 283)

And yet we are the Nazis.

Sowell’s economic common sense about this topic is such that it drives the “enlightened” up a wall. They refuse to admit that this attempt to shine a light on the marginalized in publishing (gag me) actually is holding them back. It limits the visibility of their books in bookstores by placing titles in areas where readers don’t know to look for them. It limits visibility online because publishers first list the book according to agenda and not topic.

But if we dare speak out about this or question it, we are condemned. We’ve seen it over and over, especially in recent years. We are the ones called names and told we are the problem. They accuse us of having blinders on when their own blinders are so firmly affixed that they can’t see the problems inherent in their attempts to even the playing field.

As Sowell points out in many of his essays, the attempt to help often leads to more problems than it solves. Once again, he’s right. Not that publishers or those so busy screeching about the evils of white males in publishing, politics or anything else will hear.

What they don’t get is they have started a conflict without knowing the rules. They’ve entered a war without considering what will happen when the other side finally has said “enough is enough”. The fact they are now starting to turn on their own shows how desperate they are to remain relevant—not that they ever really were—and to maintain power in a failing industry.

So what do we do?

We persevere.

We speak out.

We know what they are saying and we counter in the same way Professor Sowell and others like him do—calmly, with history and facts and common sense.

Why?

We will never convince the most rabid of the other side that they are anything but right. However, as we saw in the 2016 election, there are so many who aren’t happy with where the Left has been taking our country. Some sit on the fence, enticed by the promises but knowing, deep inside that something isn’t right. The promises sound too good. It is our job to tell them why and to give them a reason to trust us. That reason is, well, reason.

It is time for preparation.

It is time for education.

It is time for the silent majority to drown out the screeching voices of the few who would turn our country into something that would make our founding fathers weep over.

And how long will it be before someone from the other side twists this call for a protection of liberty into a cry to return to a male patriarchal society where women are kept barefoot, pregnant in and the kitchen with slaves in the field? After all, they are so good at telling us what we mean even when it is the furthest thing from the truth.

It is time to take the narrative back from them. The media, at least the legacy media, is dying. Their subscription numbers prove it. The falling viewership numbers do as well. People are turning to blogs and alternative media sites and, believe it or not, conversations with others to become informed. So let’s inform.

Let’s do our best imitation of Professor Sowell and others like him.

*Here’s a link to Amanda’s Paypal, should you wish to tip her. Also, as a note, for those who wish to support this blog there is a pay-pal-me link on the upper right for casual donations to me. And there is a paypal link for those wishing to subscribe because like me, if it’s a “hit the button whenever” they’ll never remember. For those divesting themselves from paypal (I’m not going to argue with you. I know you have cause. It’s just that right now I fail to see a better alternative that isn’t tainted in a similar way) this blog also accepts cash and check support. See the address for Goldport Press inside any of my indie books and mail there, or email me for an address.  Thank you. Any contribution greatly appreciated. Yes, I can support myself, but this year is a transition year in many ways and also for some reason one where we’ve experienced several expensive contretemps (Disasters really, even if problems that can be solved with money aren’t real disasters.) – SAH*

City Walls and Freedom by Alma Boykin

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[Sarah note – I know a couple of you have sent me other posts. May I ask for repeat-send? My email is being unusually refractory.- SAH]

City Walls and Freedom  by Alma Boykin

[Alma note: this is a very broad generalization, and I’m leaving out a great deal of detail for the sake of space.]

 

From the Bronze Age until the 1800s, city walls meant freedom. Without walls, the city wasn’t a real city. Walls defined where city law began and ended, and the right to stay within those walls in times of danger or scarcity (or both) came with limits and duties. By the Middle Ages in Europe, citizenship in a city meant shelter, duty, and enhanced civil rights.

The first fight over “city right” in Europe comes from the tale of Romulus and Remus. Depending on which version one reads, Romulus and Remus disagreed over where to build the walls of what would become the city of Rome. Romulus designated a border, and in some versions, built a knee-high wall of turfs (chunks of sod). In other versions, he just plowed a furrow. In either case, he designated where the walls would be. Remus jumped over the wall/furrow to show his disdain for the “wall.” Either Romulus killed him or one of Romulus’ followers did the deed in a bit of a mob fight after the event. The point of the story (aside from “Don’t tick off the founder of Rome or his successors”) was often interpreted as “Don’t disrespect the walls.”

Walls meant control and safety. Only Sparta, of all the free cities in Classical Greece, lacked walls. Instead she had an army of citizens. Athens boasted of her walls, and at one point extended them all the way to the Piraeus, the main port (the famous Long Walls.) Tearing down someone’s walls meant that you had conquered them, removing their freedom and leaving them defenseless. No wonder then that Rome, Constantinople, Regensburg, Cologne, Trier, and the great Roman cities in Gaul all sported serious walls and gates. Rome even built walls across country (Hadrian’s Wall being the most famous.) On the outside roamed barbarians. Civilization stayed inside, as did the rights of Roman Citizens.

After the dissolution of the Western Roman Empire, some cities developed into city states that blended Germanic traditions and Roman law. These became the Imperial Free Cities of Central and northern Europe. They included Lübeck, Magdeburg, Hamburg, Rostock, Danzig, Bruges, Münster (for a while), Krakow, Freiberg im Breisgau (eventually), and others. One of the major requirements for keeping the status of a free city was having walls and being able to defend yourself. All citizens had the duty of defense, male and female.

Yes, women could be full citizens of the Imperial Free Cities. Often the widows of merchants or guild masters, they took on the rights and duties of their late husbands in order to maintain the business for the family until an heir came of age. These women could sit on juries, trade in their own names, sign contracts in their own rights, had the freedom of the cities, and served in the militia. They did not, according to most records, handle firearms or things like crossbows and swords, but they boiled oil and water and could use pole arms. They trained with the militia. That was part of being a citizen.

The child of citizens was a citizen, unless he lost that privilege. Gaining the privilege took a lot of work. First, you had to find a way to support yourself within the city. You had to do this for a defined period, and not break the laws of the city and (if applicable) follow the laws of the guilds in the city. It might take five to seven years, or longer, before someone was granted citizenship by the city council. Or he might never get it, but be permitted to live as a resident alien. So long as he paid taxes, stayed out of debt, and attended worship on a regular basis, he could stay. However, if he did not have citizenship, when hard times came, such as war, out he went no matter how long he’d lived inside the walls.

City air also brought freedom, if you were a bound serf or peasant. First, you had to get into the city and stay there. While you stayed, you had to support yourself and not get kicked out. Easier said than done, when everyone knows everyone else, and you don’t have an unusual skill or talent that you brought with you. After one year, your owner/lord’s possession ended, and you were a free man. But not a citizen. And if you’d broken the law or been forced out of the city, well, tough. You’d need to start all over.

The laws of the city of Magdeburg formed the charters and codes for a number of those cities established after 1200, or that gained free-city status after 1200. In other places, Lübeck formed the model. A municipality could gain Free City status by buying itself from its lord (Swäbisch Hall), starting from scratch as a new city (Lübeck), running out the local lord and applying for free city status (Freiburg im Breisgau, which started free, lost its rights, then ran the bishop out and bought freedom), or be granted a new charter by the local lord (Krakow) or the Holy Roman Emperor.

Cities also lost the right of self-government and independence. When that happened, the conqueror tore down at least the gates, sometimes the entire wall. The armies of Louis XIV were known for this, and Napoleon terminated a lot of free cities and their walls. Without a way to keep riff-raff, non-citizens, and armies out, the city’s residents had to depend on someone else for their protection. Dependence meant the people had to abide by the lord’s rules, pay his taxes, and put up with his additional requests and rights. Medieval and Early Modern people would hear or read the stories of Joshua and Jericho, or Jesus entry into Jerusalem and nod. And of course the city in the Revelation of John had walls and gates—that’s what made a city a city!

Once artillery and air-power rendered walls pointless, most places tore them down. The rise of the powerful centralized state also terminated most free cities. But not all. When you see HH on a German license plate, you know it belongs to a resident of the Frei- und Hansestadt Hamburg, which is still a city-state. Hamburg kept its independence until the late 1800s and still harbors uncharitable thoughts toward Germany’s central government on occasion.

In conclusion, walls brought freedom in Central and Western Europe. Free, self-governing, independent cities guarded their rights as closely as they guarded their gates and walls. No place could claim that right for itself until and unless it could close out others and depend itself. Citizenship meant the right to stay within the walls in times of danger, and brought the duty of defense, support of the city through taxes and fees, and serving on government boards and committees, as well as donating to municipal charities.

But city air brought freedom to those inside the walls.

Charity That Kills

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It never fails. If I write something about immigration or charity or anything related to helping someone else and dissent from the general leftists chorus of “We must have more government help”and “government must distribute the wealth” I’m held to be mean, evil, selfish, and just about the worst person in the world.

Part of this is because the same as calling anything that dissents from leftist belief “racist” (even if they have to believe they can read minds to justify it) they’ve been taught to think there’s only one way to care for your fellow man, and that’s to equalize everyone’s wealth, to divest those who have more and give to those who have less, preferably with the power of law behind it.

The problem is that this is not how the world works.  You know the old saw, give a man a fish and he’ll have a meal, teach a man to fish and he’ll have food for the rest of his life.

It ignores the fact that if you give a man a fish everyday, not only will he never learn to fish, he’ll come to resent you for giving him a fish. He might even come to believe he’s incapable of learning to fish, and that you can only fish because of some invisible “privilege” that allows you to learn that stuff.  At the same time you will believe that he’s inferior to you, unable to make his own decisions, and that you must decide and set everything for him or he’ll die. You might not admit it, ever, but you’ll come to believe that he’s a burden. Subconsciously you’ll hate being beholden to him. You’ll come up with all sorts of schemes, from aborting his children to enabling his drug addiction to facilitating his euthanasia just to be rid of the intolerable burden.  And it’s no surprise because your “charity” is increasingly met with resentment, envy and outright anger.

Why? Well, because that’s the way humans work. The human being was born to strive. Being handed things just makes them both dependent and resentful of that dependence. This paradise that the very well fed and clothed imagine, where the government just magically dispenses everything everyone might want is no such thing. If it were possible to implement it without stealing this stuff from others (it’s not. The government produces nothing.) it would make humanity extinct in two generations. It would also create the crime wave to end all crime waves.

We clever monkeys don’t like stuff handed to us. We like to improve it, to work at it, to make it better. When it becomes impossible, we’re reduced to the level of pets, and humans don’t do well with being pets. No, it’s not even like the perfect childhood, in which you’re handed all you need. First of all no one had that perfect a childhood, and even the best parents don’t always know what you need (let alone want.) Second, childhood is a time of growing and learning, sometimes quite painful learning, as growing up is a painful process of leaving behind habits and cherished modes of life.  Third, even children in happy families chomp at the bit to leave and be adults.  It’s just the way we’re built.

Removing someone’s reason to strive is not a charity.

No, I don’t believe we should let people in occasional and terrible binds go unhelped. About 1/3 of our income has always gone out, often not to recognized charities, but just to a friend who was temporarily ill, going through a nasty divorce (in that case you need to be a very close friend indeed, as I try not to get in the middle of those) or has had some disaster befall them that would mean destruction should they have no help.

But note the “temporary help for unforeseen circumstances.”  I’ve learned, and dearly too, that just helping every time and letting the person know the help will be there, not so much a safety net but a hammock, will ruin not just your friendship, but the person as well.

I don’t know and cannot speak to our welfare system, but recently a close friend explained to me how difficult the system is to leave once you’re in it, and that once you leave and are tentatively standing on your own they will bill you. I’m not sure what they bill you for as I had no time to ask, but what she had to go through to STOP receiving assistance was mind boggling. And while receiving assistance there’s all sorts of things you can’t do. Like work over a certain time, because they’ll cut your benefits by more than you’re making, etc.  That’s not even a hammock. That’s a spider web that catches the unwary and will never let them fly free.

Which brings us to immigration.  Do let’s talk about immigration.

First of all this is not a matter of “I got mine” as some idiot tried to say.  I don’t precisely know what he thinks I got except the privilege to strive to be the best American I can, but that’s fine. Let’s discuss this.

I’m sick and tired of hearing the left whine that we can’t close our doors to the needy of the world.

Now, America has a well deserved reputation for extreme generosity, but does that generosity involve opening our doors to all the needy in the world?

Let’s imagine it does. Let’s imagine we put out a call that if you’re in any sort of distress or need you should come to America.

You could say we did that at various times, the latest one being under president Obama, when leaflets detailing the welfare benefits to be received in the US (for the asking) were distributed in Mexico and probably countries South of that.

Whenever we did that, our follow through was — at best — spotty.

Someone on Facebook was nattering on about how 12 million came through Ellis Island and were Americans the next day.

Part of this is something I’m used to. Most Americans who never dealt with immigration have clue zero how this works. I suspect most leftists agitating for voting rights for non-citizens don’t understand they’re NOT citizens or that there is a difference.

Except for those who walked into the country and got recruited into the Union armies during the civil war, or perhaps other irregular/brief periods, no one has ever walked onto American soil and become American.

What you become instead is a permanent resident, entitled to live here and PERHAPS to work. In my day I got permission to live here a year before I had permission to work, (my case being different, since I married a citizen. I had to apply separately for permission to work.)

And I no longer remember how long I had to wait to even apply for citizenship. I think it was three years, but I waited five, because I wanted to be sure.

You see, citizenship, belonging in a country is not merely a matter of being in the country. Every country has arrangements for “foreigners living among us.” And some which are very blood-based can give you only second-class citizenship the equivalent of “guy who wants to be of us and is the closest he can be.”

In the US citizenship is becoming an American. It is subscribing to the founding principles and taking on the project of living ever closer to them. It is a matter of “Your people shall be my people. Wherever thou goest, I shall go.” So I took as long as I needed to be sure. I took as long as I needed to acculturate.

Acculturation isn’t an easy process. I’ve mentioned to you guys that it hurts and feels like going insane. It unmoors the pinnings of your personality, some of which you weren’t aware of, before you had to pull them off by the roots.  No one who has not transitioned between cultures knows how powerful and ingrained culture is.  Race means nothing. Culture means everything. And changing cultures is really difficult, even for an isolated individual.  We know it’s possible — ish — for a family, but it takes longer. If you immigrate as a family, it’s like traveling as a group. You’re insulated from what’s really going on around you. You interpret everything through the filter of your culture of origin. Even if you’re trying to fit-in, it’s hard and you’ll pass weird things on to your kids and grandkids.  The grandkids, usually, are integrated in the receiving culture. Bigger groups than that? Forget about it. Escaping that insular culture will be as hard as immigrating all over again.

Two other things: I found this out when I was an exchange student: HUMANS ARE TRIBAL. Humans are tribal to an extent we like to disguise and forget. But you can see it if you take a group of high school students and drop them into a NYC university campus with hundreds of people from all over the world.

First, people cling together with the group they came in with. That’s a given. But even if you have two groups from the same country, that never met/are from different areas of the country, they’ll cling together. And if forced to extend they’ll go — bizarrely and fascinatingly — by “historical relationship” or “cultural connection” sometimes going back centuries.  So Portuguese will agglutinate to Brazilians first, and people from the former colonies in Africa next. After that, Spaniards or Spanish speakers. Failing those, Italians and Greeks. In desperation, Arabs.  And each of these groups, as it forms, creates a “barrier” to the outside. I found to my shock that among exchange students who had undergone a strenuous process to get here at all, there was a sudden group imperative to look down on Americans and refuse to do things “the American way.” (BTW this disgusted me so much my best friends were English and Japanese.)

Now, let’s go to that imaginary world where we not only invite the dispossessed of the world in, but actually open our doors to them (more on that later.)  Let’s forget the “overpopulation” idiocy. There’s plenty of room. Anyone who’s driven through Wyoming, as we have recently, will tell you that.  Let them all in. As in the early twentieth century when entire Italian villages immigrated, what do you think will happen?
Well… mostly they’ll cling together. And maybe deal with close-ish cultures. Certainly not with Americans, against whom a barrier must be formed, because a) they’re strangers. b) we’re in their land and they might resent it. (Even if they don’t.)

So, it would be the colonization of America by some of the most dysfunctional elements of the most dysfunctional cultures in the world. We’ve done that experiment before. To do it now en masse and indiscriminately would achieve nothing, except the dissolution of America into a bunch of tiny, warring enclaves, incapable of self government and no better off than they were in their own countries.

But Sarah, you’ll say, we did that before. In the beginning of the 20th century, we took in masses of people — as you said — entire villages from Italy and Ireland. And those people are now Americans.

Yes, those people are now Americans. MOST of them. But please note, even that was not mass immigration from ALL THE WORLD by all the dispossessed.

First travel was more expensive, more arduous and tended to be one way.  Second, there was a selection at the border, and many were turned back. Third… It was the beginning of the 20th century and our tech was different. There was work — a lot of it — for people who knew neither the language nor any particular trade. The push on the mass-production phase of the industrial revolution required a lot of warm bodies and willingness to work. That was it.

So all those multitudes that came in could find work. And though they initially formed profoundly segregated enclaves that adhered to the rules of the “home country” and despised or suspected everything American, eventually the ranks broke. They were right here, in the middle of the US, at a time when the place was hopping with opportunities for the unschooled. It was almost impossible to prevent the young ones from moving away to find a job elsewhere. And when they did well it filtered back home. Even then it took probably three to four generations. And to find out how bad it was initially read police reports of the time. It wasn’t all prejudice. (Though a lot of it was.) People really brought in their most dysfunctional habits. And had to acculturate before they became Americans. Which was difficult at that rate of immigration.

Imagine how much more difficult it would be if we now brought in double our population, and form the most wretched places of the Earth.

On top of which, consider two things:

First, we live in a high tech age. The left, who worries obsessively that some Americans might be too stupid to integrate in the new age (they’re wrong. We’re all clever monkeys. let them have a chance) and therefore foresees welfare and make work for them, at the same time wants to import people from cultures barely above the stone age, on the basis that “they need it.”

Look, yes, we have a lot of illiterate third world illegal immigrants working construction and other trades. But most of them work under the table, and only because they’re very cheap. I’m sure there’s skilled workers coming here, but let’s face it, skilled workers do pretty well in their own countries. There is a reason we joke about “Manuel labor.”  It adds up to “You get what you pay for.”

I’m not saying they’re not willing. I’m not saying a lot of them aren’t hard workers.  I do happen to know, because of where my friends work, that we’re getting any number of entitled “racist America despoiled my people and owes me” instant welfare cases. However, yes, we’re also getting people who want to work.

The question is: can they work? Most of the trades they might be trained for are unionized, and probably won’t recognize foreign credentials. Stuff like making and selling food is regulated till your head hurts. Anything else?

Well, I was trained in languages, but the US has a lot less call for translation. I had a teaching certificate, but the teacher’s union doesn’t want competition from foreigners, so I wasn’t even allowed to take the certification test, unless I went back to college (and no, I didn’t want it that badly.)  I did some scientific translation, but there wasn’t enough of it.  S I was  standing outside the parking lot of a home depot, and editors drove by saying “I need someone to write novels”.  I jumped in the back of the truck, and…

Seriously. Can we be serious for a moment? Yes, we import skilled workers. Whether we should it’s something else again, and some companies are singularly evil in the management of such work-visa workers.

That’s a separate argument from giving asylum to everyone who is poor and dispossessed and struggling. Most of those people, like 99% of them are not trained for anything. A vast majority of them knows no English and might be illiterate even in their native language.

Do you see big public works, big factories requiring line work, any other type of work that requires only willingness and a pair of hands? No? Neither do I.  So we’re letting them in, for what? To become instant charity cases in our own land?

Go up to that metaphor of the man and the fish. We import vast numbers of foreigners, which, being humans are tribal and will cling together, reflexively protect the culture of origin, and run us down. On top of that we make them recipients of our charity, unable to fend for themselves.  Yeah, I don’t see HOW they could be anything but resentful.

But, you’ll say, their kids could integrate.

Sure. Theoretically. Just like a girl from Portugal could come over in her twenties and so thoroughly immerse herself in English she could write fiction for Native speakers.

Do you think — as the idiot who periodically tries to break into comments thinks — that’s so common as to be a “stereotype”? Or do you think one needs to be fairly broken to begin with to undergo that cultural change?  Because from the inside here, I can tell you it’s not normal.

So let’s talk generational integration: the bigger the enclave, and the more resentful, the more the children will be raised to HYPER identify with the country of origin.  Look, any linguist can back me up on this: you find three cities from an unknown culture. How do you know which is the mother and which the colonies? The colonies are MORE conservative as to language and tradition than the mother land. It’s that defensive “clinging to” that tribal humans do.  And large migration groups are FUNCTIONALLY colonies, whether their aim is to get citizenship in the new land or not.

So each successive generation, raised in the enclave, will have a harder time leaving to join the main culture.

And then there is the main culture. Americans aren’t prejudiced. That’s great. It’s also recent. Americans were always prejudiced in various degrees of anyone who stuck out. Even relatively recent immigrants, once they acculturated would look with suspicion on immigrants and people who “talked funny.” That’s human.

However, we’ve had that beat out of us. The left has extended racism to anything that sticks out. And because the US culture, truly, disapproves of racism, it has gone by degrees to hyper approving of the strange and the foreign.

Me, with my accent I’m 99% more likely — even in semi-rural environments — to be told that the place I came from must be wonderful, and what can we teach the US than to be told to go back where I came from.  And that’s a problem.

Why is it a problem?

Oh, not for me personally. But it’s a problem for integration.

One of the great mechanisms of cultural integration and the reason those little Italys eventually opened to the world is public schooling. People were told they would speak English, they were taught American history unapologetically, ad they were left with the decided impression that if they didn’t fit in they should fuck off.

As the mother of half-Portuguese kids going through public schooling, here’s what I got: My kids were told that they should learn more about THEIR culture, i.e. Latin culture. Even though, btw, their father is Anglo-Irish-German-whatever fell into the pot, from Connecticut. The strange and exotic must rule, and they should be brought up to think of PORTUGAL as the “homeland.” (In which they have been maybe a commulative total of 3 months in their lifetime.) I was guilted and shamed for not teaching them Portuguese FIRST.  They were repeatedly put in SPANISH classes to “learn about their culture.” They were also repeatedly put in ESL classes, until I went in and visited righteous fury on the schools. The youngest son’s PHYSICAL speech issues went untreated because they assumed it was an accent. (In fact, they refused to treat them, so we had to pay (and it was tough at the time) for speech pathologist and other treatment out of our own pockets.)

Now imagine this done to the children of the enclave where they are banding together to preserve their culture. Integrate? Oh, hell no.

I’m not surprised we have Jihadists going to Middle East to fight against America who were born and raised in America. I’m surprised not all second or third generations go.

Now, do I advocate for draconian prejudice against the newly arrived? For official English as our language, for making people give up ancestral foods and clothing, and naming conventions?

As always, the choice is NOT cake or death. Of the two, unyielding prejudice against the newly arrived MIGHT be the more merciful choice.  Yes, I can explain that, but first, that’s not what ANYONE is talking about for acculturation.  Acculturation is being “American first.”  If you want to wear your native outfit on your days off, I don’t think anyone cares.  People at the office might look at you funny, though, so in deference to not distracting others, you probably should not wear a Viking helmet (yes, I know they’re not authentic. It’s a joke) to Casual Friday. And certainly not outside Casual Friday. If you want to name your kid Ballallu or whatever, I don’t think anyone cares. They’ll probably think it’s a “creative”name. The things hippies and maleducated hipsters name their kids is weirder than any foreign culture.  Food? Americans will eat anything once. You’re more likely to be asked for the recipe for the dish you brought to the potluck than to be required to give it up. And provided it doesn’t contain either insects or offal (and even then, depends) you’ll find your co-workers enthusiastically working up variations of it. Trust me, I KNOW. Also, food is the hardest and the last thing immigrants give up. And the most likely to permeate the larger culture. Which is good, because the English cuisine the US started out with is a byword for boring.

No. The acculturation needed and the more difficult one is to adapt to BEING an American. To thinking of America — not the other country — as home. To learn to adapt and conform to American laws and American ways of being in the world, particularly that thing of “equal before the law” and “Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.”  The devil of those in the details, but they deny a lot of the most cherished home traditions of dysfunctional cultures. (Oh, women as chattel, to name one.)

So, being incredibly kind and refusing to enforce this, in fact, making people feel their home country MUST be honored, must be better, and their culture must be clung to, leads to what?

Well, it leads to the generations of dispossessed that the left wants to bring in REMAINING dispossessed charity cases. People who must be cared for, who cannot strive outward and upward like true Americans. Who cannot integrate.  And who, generationally, start resenting us and hating us for our “privilege” which amounts to our ability to move in the society and improve ourselves and our children’s chances.

The crazy idiocy of providing services in whatever native language, including and up to Citizenship tests is not a CHARITABLE or well intentioned thing. It’s a shackles, burdening generations of incomers with second class status.

Oh and “open borders” particularly “open borders if you bring a child” is NOT charitable or kind, either. It encourages people to steal, buy or otherwise acquire children to drag on a horrible trek and risk death. And don’t tell me “they must be very desperate…”

Sure, maybe. Doesn’t mean they’re under clear and present danger. Humans are a striving animal. If they’re promised cake everyday for no effort in another land, they’ll go there.  Only suffer and get trapped there because the cake is always a lie.

Those children who die and/or are mistreated on the trek are the fault of the open-borders crowd who enticed people to drag them here. These people should look up the concept of “attractive nuisance.”

Anyway, if all you’re dragging them here for is to live in enclaves that are more cohesive than the culture in the homeland, refuse to integrate, can’t do anything useful in the main culture, and are here SIMPLY to be recipients of charity, it’s cheaper and kinder to keep them in their homeland and support them there.

Economic hardship is no reason to immigrate, if you have NO skills that are looked for in the land you’re coming into, and do not wish to/will be prevented from acquiring those skills. We are no longer a land with unending demand for manual labor. All most incomers can do is get stuck and resent us.

Mind you there are problems with helping them in their own countries too, and charity should be carefully done. I prefer charities that educate children or give women money to start small businesses. They probably cause distortions, but not as bad as the charity of handouts.

And anyone who wants to molly coddle and cater to the most wretched of the most wretched cultures on Earth is an evil, despotic bastard who refuses to admit to himself/herself/xyr/xer/mouseself.  They are people who think they’re better than the rest of humanity and that some number of humanity NEEDS them to survive. Forever.

Down that path lies the kind of upheaval in which the dispossessed kill everyone else.  Unlike the Marxist fairytale our friends think they’re living, this doesn’t mean perfect communism, or even that leftist intellectuals end up on top.

Usually it means it provides the cataclysm that jolts the dysfunctional culture into another shape.  Sometimes, rarely, a more functional one.  And in which people have to learn to survive again.

I just don’t want this to happen here and now, not to me or my immediate descendants, or my friends. Honestly, no one sane would.

Is my view harsh? Perhaps. But it’s neither as harsh or as genocidal as that of the “would be do gooders” who create unending misery for everyone who comes under their purview.  And who would destroy the last, best hope of mankind given a chance.

Is “Fit in or f*ck off” a nasty thing to tell immigrants? Sure it is. But it’s not as deceitful as “You can keep all your dysfunctional culture and America will magically transform you.” And it’s not as EVIL as that.  Because THAT will keep you trapped in forever.

Life is pain, princess. Anyone who tells you otherwise is selling you something.  In this case the something is eternal dependence and impotence.

I wouldn’t buy that at any price.