My reaction to Charlottesville

Meh.

I know, I know, I’m supposed to have a strong opinion about this, and shout it from the rooftops, and be very angry…

But I’m not.  I’m sad, because the fruits of their actions are already ripening, and it looks like something out of a war torn country, not a functioning republic.

But I’m not really engaged with it all.  Part of it is the inverse of the flyover country principle: all those people live on the coasts.  It doesn’t really have anything to do with me.

And part of it is the fact that there has been nothing but outrage seemingly forever now. Every move by our president, every action by any other politician, every misstep of every public figure, and the howls begin.  Even non-public figures regularly are targeted now.  And I may be next because of this post, or something I share on Facebook, or say to a trusted friend.

I’m tired of it all.

Now, when the screaming and the outrage begin, I refuse to pick a side.  I’ll wait, thank you, for all the information to come out, not what the gossip mill initially says.  And if CNN or Fox News, or any other major media outlet tells me how I should be feeling, I’ll wait twice as long.  In fact, the more they scream and yell in outrage, the less likely I am to believe what they say.  And if they stop talking about it within a day or two, I know that it has much bigger consequences then they want me to be aware of.

This country has survived much worse than what is happening right now. Check history, and see how violent the 1970’s were.  Find out how bad the Great Depression really was, and how government made it worse.  Discover how all the gains for black America won in the Civil War had been systemically rolled back by the 1920’s.  And not by one party or another, but by every freaking politician who wanted a vote in the South.  And sometimes the North as well.

And as far as what just happened? Yes, it may very well heat up an already volatile situation.  But I’d rather keep my powder dry, and wait.  The enemy will reveal himself in time, and I want to make sure I’m aiming in the right direction.

The rose-colored world of Cloward-Pivens

The Cloward-Pivens Strategy describes one way of causing civil unrest: by straining the walfare system to the breaking point.  We’ll quote Wikipedia, since it tends to view everything on the left side of politics with incredible leniency:

The Cloward–Piven strategy is a political strategy outlined in 1966 by American sociologists and political activists Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven that called for overloading the U.S. public welfare system in order to precipitate a crisis that would lead to a replacement of the welfare system with a national system of “a guaranteed annual income and thus an end to poverty”.

Interestingly enough, the strategy was designed to force the Democrats to basically put up or shut up.  Conservatives weren’t even considered, since they could be relied upon to respond predictably:

The authors pinned their hopes on creating disruption within the Democratic Party:

“Conservative Republicans are always ready to declaim the evils of public welfare, and they would probably be the first to raise a hue and cry. But deeper and politically more telling conflicts would take place within the Democratic coalition…Whites – both working class ethnic groups and many in the middle class – would be aroused against the ghetto poor, while liberal groups, which until recently have been comforted by the notion that the poor are few… would probably support the movement. Group conflict, spelling political crisis for the local party apparatus, would thus become acute as welfare rolls mounted and the strains on local budgets became more severe.”[5]

I always find it interesting that the progressive ideology (unless you think that Cloward and Pivens were more communist–a possibility, to be sure, but let’s just call them progressive for now) recognizes the divisions of people in its coalition, and uses those differences to its advantage, but believes the other side is monolithic and lockstep in its thinking.  It comes across both as incredibly cynical, and exceptional rose-colored at the same time.

Let me me be clear: Cloward-Pivens wants to change the system by causing it to fail. Their goal is civil unrest, a very euphemistic way to say rioting and violence.  They believe the politicians will cave rather than see the cities burn, and to be fair, they might be right. But the strategy is also short-sighted, and even optimistic to the point of willful blindness, because they believe they know the outcome.

Socialists, communists, and progressives suffer this strange optimism often enough.  If they just start the revolution, or change the thinking, or get their agenda passed, then everything will end up closer to what they want, which is easily defined as power.  Power to force people to make good decisions, and punish those who disagree. Power to make the perfect world, the one they just know is good and right and better than anything ever seen.

But all those people who are so predictable… aren’t.  Especially in America.  We have this ornery streak that runs through every strain of political thought and ideology, that often comes out as stubborn intractability, but cannot be ignored.  The reason for my post yesterday is because it is a very American solution to the problem.  You want to favor non-citizens?  Fine.  Prove that I am a citizen.

Progressives tend to think the masses, the ignorant unwashed, the fly-over areas, are all sheep to be led.  I’m not sure what their proof is.  A higher percentage of church-goers? Opiate of the masses, so they say.  Have none of them noticed the proliferation of denominations in America?  If you like your church, you can keep your church.  If not… you go out and start your own. Or join one that teaches closer to what you believe.  Hell, I live in Utah, that theocratic state of Mormons.  You know, the one where the Catholic cathedral was built before the Mormon temple.  The one that has plenty of non-Mormon churches, voted for a lesbian mayor in Salt Lake City, and produces some fine craft beers. All too predictable.

I don’t welcome the fruits of a Cloward-Pivens strategy, any more than I welcome a civil war.  But I think that the foundations of our civil structure are cracking and will lead to a massive reorganization, but I for one will not bet on either side.  It’s not that easy to see. But I trust the American ideal of individuality and cussedness way more than any Utopian vision.  And you never know what those crazy Americans might come up with.

When the citizens are ones discriminated against

Another day, another report of an illegal alien who has been deported multiple times, only to re-enter our country and commit felonies.  Again.

The situation is dire enough that we elected Donald Trump because he was the only one who addressed the situation with common sense instead of “compassion”.  Yes, I put it in scare quotes, because when a story like this comes out, how compassionate is it to let just anyone across our borders?  Are we that concerned that this man has access to our citizens?  Is this one of those jobs Americans just won’t do?

Ace said, “We’re all now fugitives in our own country.”  I know he meant that the criminals are released, while ordinary citizens are punished for wanting the criminals punished.  But what if we took it at face value?  That legal citizens are presumed guilty, while trespassers are the only ones presumed innocent?  In the name of peaceful insurrection, perhaps we should all refuse to provide documentation of our status.

It’s only fair, really; if those without passport, birth certificate, or valid social security number are given special (and I really mean better) consideration, then perhaps we can all refuse to provide such documentation.  When we are challenged about being here legally, we can just shrug and refuse to answer.  Make the authorities determine our status.  Reap the benefits while they sort it out.

Would it be difficult?  Yes and no.  Spanish is a fairly easy language to learn, and I think Duolingo does a decent job, and is free; heck, you don’t even have to learn Spanish.  Just choose something real (even Esperanto or Klingon would work).  Just refuse to speak English at any traffic stop, in any hospital, or at any school.  Force them to waste time finding a translator.  This is a step beyond refusing to provide documentation, but makes it more likely that they will not even challenge that you are “undocumented”.

And what’s the point of it all?  Good question.  After all, this adds cost to the very programs bleeding us dry, and strain to the entire system of government entitlements. But first of all, it recoups some of what we have spent our money on.  But second, and more importantly, it exposes the underlying hollowness of such programs.  If you are willing to use the government to support the less fortunate, then start with those who should receive it as part of their citizenship.

And what would happen if this idea caught on, and millions of citizens claimed the benefits that are normally denied them?  Well, Cloward-Piven works both ways, you know.  If the system is designed to fail, let’s push it into failure.  The resulting chaos is just as likely to favor capitalism as is is any other ideology.

We Are All Enlisted

I have a new book out, but it is not a fantasy like my previous books.  This one is science fiction, set in the near future (2080’s), and is all about being an enlisted man (hence the title).  I wrote it in part because most military sci fi, at least the most popular, all deal with the officer corps, and what amazing people they are.  But it’s the enlisted guys that keep any military organization going, and I have never read anything about ordinary squids.

Oh, and the cover is by my friend, the amazing Cedar Sanderson.  She’s an author, illustrator, artist, chef, student, entertainer, and all around amazing individual.  I think she did a great job.

So go to Amazon.  Check it out.  Enjoy.

Reasoned thinking has been put at risk by the Global Warming deniers

I don’t want to do a full fisk of this article, mostly because I don’t have time.  Suffice it to say that its title, “The Attack on Truth: We have entered the age of willful ignorance” starts off with this paragraph:

To see how we treat the concept of truth these days, one might think we just don’t care anymore. Politicians pronounce that global warming is a hoax. An alarming number of middle-class parents have stopped giving their children routine vaccinations, on the basis of discredited research. Meanwhile many commentators in the media — and even some in our universities — have all but abandoned their responsibility to set the record straight. (It doesn’t help when scientists occasionally have to retract their own work.)

I actually agree with the headline, but the first paragraph threw me.  We have politicians pronouncing that global warming is a hoax?  What about the ones that declare it as settled science, beyond questioning?  Isn’t that just as bad?

It gets worse, though.  The author decries that :

It is sad that the modern attack on truth started in the academy — in the humanities, where the stakes may have initially seemed low in holding that there are multiple ways to read a text or that one cannot understand a book without taking account of the political beliefs of its author.

And then goes on to quote this man approvingly:

“But now the climate-change deniers and the young-Earth creationists are coming after the natural scientists,” the literary critic Michael Bérubé noted, “… and they’re using some of the very arguments developed by an academic left that thought it was speaking only to people of like mind.”

The author seems to be arguing that scientific truth is being questioned, and using the opinions of a literary critic to explain why that might be a bad thing.

And the cause of all this bad questioning, in unapproved ways and uncomfortable methods?  The internet:

It facilitates not only the spread of truth but also the proliferation of crackpots, ideologues, and those with an ax to grind. With the removal of editorial gatekeepers who can vet information, outright lies can survive on the Internet. Worse, those who embrace willful ignorance are now much more likely to find an electronic home where their marginal views are embraced.

This is immediately followed–literally, the next line in the essay–with what the author seems to think is the obvious choice for correcting our willful ignorance:

An obvious solution might be to turn to journalists, who are supposed to embrace a standard of objectivity and source-checking that would be more likely to support true beliefs.

If I follow the logic here, when the scientists are under attack for not being scientific enough, journalism will save the day by revealing objective truth.

So much stupid here, and yet the premise held such promise.

Because we do live in a world where reason has taken a back seat to emotion.  Bruce Jenner is not a woman, but we will treat him that way because it makes him feel good.  Global warming is responsible for both hurricanes like Katrina, and the paucity of any major hurricanes since then, because we just know that any shift in weather patterns is human caused.  It has to be, because we can feel Gaia suffering.  Everyone knows that white people are racist, and if a black person wants to kill them all because of it, well that’s just their fault.  After all, a black person can’t feel racist, because of the inherent non-racism of the black race.  All black people are like that, you know.

I had such hope for this article after finding it on the sidebar of Ace of Spades.  Their pull quote included the line “That disrespect, however, has metastasized into outrageous claims about the natural sciences.”  I thought it would talk about how the scientific method cannot be conducted by public polling or appeal to authority, including scientific authority.  Instead, it turned out to be an appeal to reason, embodied by… journalism.

So the search for truth–and reasoned thinking–continues.

Freedom of speech

There’s a story I like to tell, but I can’t always tell it straight, because I use the word “nigger” in it.  It doesn’t matter that I am quoting a black man, or that he was using the word to describe himself.   The word is forbidden, something that should be censored anywhere it’s found.  It should be called the n-word, and though it is so obscene that it shouldn’t be uttered in polite company.  And perhaps it shouldn’t.  But some people will, just for shock value, like hearing the word “fuck” being used in an casual office conversation.

But where are our limits, and how do we draw the line?  Black people can use the word “nigger” in any company they chose.  I cannot.  Feminists can hurl all manner of emotional invective against me, but I am expected to be calm and civil in all my responses.  SJW’s can call me all manner of names (racist, islamophobic, homophobic, misogynist), but I can’t even imply that they might be gay, because that would be beyond the pale.  I am otherized on a regular basis, but heaven help me if I am not tolerant of all who are unlike me.

And now some men tried to kill someone who dared insult their religion.  I don’t even have to explain which incident, because there are several examples to choose from, nor do I have to explain which religion was doing the attacking.  But if I were to violently defend my religion, I would be demonized in the press long before any charges could be filed.  Because I am not secular, nor I am Muslim.  Those two religions alone receive protection in our culture.

They say politics follows culture, but they fail to point out that the force of law is what politics is all about.  First we shame people into acting a certain way, then we make it legally binding.  Look at what has happened to smoking.  It used to be a common habit practiced everywhere.  Then came the campaign showing how harmful it was, and the public went from accepting to slightly disapproving.  Then came the laws: no smoking in government buildings, no smoking in restaurants, no smoking in any business, no smoking outdoors, no smoking in your own home.  It’s that bad, and we can’t trust people to make the right choice.

But if they can do it with smoking, why not other social ills?  Racism is bad.  We’ll pass a law.  Discrimination, sexism, ableism, all bad, all need a law.  If we can’t teach people to behave correctly, we’ll force them to.  And if even the idea is expressed, well, that’s incitement to commit what is now an illegal act, and will be punished accordingly.  So you can’t even talk about it, in even the vaguest terms.  You might give someone the wrong idea, and they might learn the wrong thing, and then they might act the wrong way, and don’t you see that we have to save all these future criminals from themselves?

But if we talk about harm actually caused, like the way it started with smoking, when do we get to outlaw Marxism?  Or the Democratic Party?  Or the IRS?

My new marketing strategy

I have noticed this happening in the last year or so, but this article at Breitbart London sums it up nicely: you can use SJW outrage to get your work out there, talked about, and (most importantly) bought.  There’s nothing like fresh, crisp bills in your pocket to make you smile, and keep the creditors at bay.

So here’s the deal: in my books, the villains are often women.  They are certainly some of the cruelest characters I’ve written.  I have no ethnic diversity, unless you count some magical creatures in the diversity tally, but no one has dark skin, or yellow skin, or is transgendered, or homosexual.  Basically I write about a fairly insular white society.  Similar to Iron Age Celts.

Oh, and the main character in A Bard Without a Star?  He was completely inspired by Vox Day.

Which may or may not be true.  But the thought of the SJW’s working themselves into a lather over such a claim, and what a horrible person I must be for even saying it, is quite satisfying.  And possibly a great way to bring eyeballs and even wallets to my books.  They’re all available on Amazon, and have plenty of offensive content for all.

Why Baltimore is not America

So there was an incident, and right or wrong, a city now burns for the perceived injustice of it all.

And I don’t really care that much.

Sounds callous, right?  Don’t get me wrong, I have empathy for those who have lost life and property, who have had their dreams destroyed, or their families ripped apart.  I feel concern for those who are tasked with ending the violence, and hope that the rioters will come to their senses.

But it really isn’t a big deal to me.

Part of it is proximity: I don’t live anywhere near the east coast, or a big city, and the problems that plague those areas are not mine.  Oh, sure, they get plenty of TV time, and lots of viral images and videos get passed around.  I’m aware of what’s happening, but it doesn’t affect me.

Not really.

The script is well known at this point: a black youth (anywhere from 13 to 45, it would seem), dies in a confrontation with authority (usually white, but let’s be honest: it’s the uniform, not the skin color under the uniform).  Riots break out, then settle down.  Then the results of the investigation into the incident are released, and riots happen again, no matter what the results might be.

And it all happens in certain communities, with certain demographics, although we’re not supposed to point that out.  It used to be impolite, but now it’s just racist.  Because you can’t criticize the vibrant minorities and their legitimate political protests.

You know what would concern me?  If the Orthodox Jews riot.  If the Amish riot.  If the Mormons riot.  If the Catholics, the Baptists, the Seventh-Day-Adventists, the Pentecostals, or the Lutherans riot.  If the people taking to the streets are not the poor and downtrodden from the ghettos, but the slightly less poor and definitely more oppressed religious communities.

And I’m not concerned about the Reverends Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.  They don’t really try to bring peace, they only bring more trouble.  That’s their gig; they’ve been concern trolls long before the internet was around, and their words are meant to be calm, reasonable, and provide justification for the violence in the background.

But what happens if a true man of peace and integrity decides to make a stand?  It won’t look like Selma this time.  That would be too easy.  It will be counter to every narrative that is currently in effect, and yet it will passed from person to person, and strange allies may be formed.  But I think that there will be similarities: courage to speak, faith in common sense, and clear understanding of right and wrong.  And above all, this time it will be less about forcing change in the way things work, and more about standing firm while they are assailed from all sides.  And when they remain unbroken, despite all efforts to the contrary, the course of America will change.

Sad Puppies, Vox Day, and the SJW’s of WorldCon

So let me tell you, I had a fun Easter weekend.  I found out Thursday that I had a huge kidney stone obstructing my ureter, and oh, man, is that some serious pain.  I spent Thursday through Tuesday morning on maximum pain meds, and still not always able to keep it at bay.  And my father-in-law came into town the night I learned about this, which meant that I missed not only time with my wife and kids, but with him also (he’s a great guy, and looks like Mario with gray hair).  And then on Saturday, as I’m trying to distract myself from all the pain, the Hugo nominations came out.  And the internet melted, at least in areas that I watch.

Let me say up front, I am a straight, white, Mormon guy.  I get no advantage from that, certainly not in the publishing industry. I wrote a book, finished it 15 years ago, got a very nice rejection from Baen, and no other publisher bothered to tell me anything.  I was told by people who had connections, that I needed connections.  And so I let the book sit, and worked on a few other stories, and didn’t think I would ever do anything but share my writings with some close friends.  And then I discovered Sarah, Cedar, and the whole Mad Genius Club.  And everyone there said, “Put it together, put it up on Amazon.  Anyone can do it!”

And I did.  I make about $30 a month off of 7 novellas and 2 novels (which each contain three of the novellas).  I’ve sold exactly one paper edition, and I know who got it–his mother bought it for him for Christmas, and he bugs me every few weeks to autograph it.

I don’t write for glory.  I don’t write for fame, fortune, or anything else.  I write because I have stories to tell, that float around in my head until I put them on paper (or disk, cloud, or a mixture thereof).  When my wife brags about my stuff being on Amazon, I don’t know what to say.  It’s out there, I hope people enjoy reading it, and I intend to keep writing.

And I knew about the Hugos, and the Nebulas.  I’m that kind of geek.  But I thought you had had to actually go to WorldCon to vote on the Hugos (I knew the Nebulas were an industry thing, and I’m not qualified for the guild yet).  Then I heard about Larry Corriea and Sad Puppies, and I laughed, because he was tweaking so many noses.  And Then I found Vox Day, and found out how serious some people could be, both in being attacked and in counter attacking.

I like the Sad Puppies.  I read Larry’s blog, and Brad’s blog, and I want to do my part to reduce Puppy Related Sadness.  I also read Vox Day fairly regularly, because he does have some good insights, though he does tend to voice very strong, very unpopular opinions very loudly.  And I wish people would grow the hell up about it.

I didn’t join WorldCon, because I haven’t read anything published in 2014 except for my stuff that I edited.  I read some Heinlein.  I read Monster Hunters International.  I was a beta reader for Dragon Noir, and so slow about it that Cedar got it published before I finished.  I don’t have time to read much right now.  I don’t even watch enough TV or movies to vote in those categories.  Pat Patterson, on the other hand, should definitely join and vote.  That guy reads tons, and reviews things, too.  He even read If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love.  He’s the perfect guy to vote on the Hugos.

But too many people act as though this is a super serious battle, one where Lines MUST Be Drawn, Stands MUST Be Taken, Foes MUST Be Vanquished.

And all for a rocket trophy.

T.L. Knighton got it right: it doesn’t matter all that much.  The people fighting the hardest are the ones who have the most invested in giving it great meaning, or in restoring it’s prestige.  Or people like Larry and Brad, who in trying to prove a point, have been libeled beyond belief.  Or Vox Day, who believes in punching back twice as hard, and proves it by punching back three times as hard.

Fans, both True and Wrong, in the end don’t care all that much.  They want good stories, told well, in whatever fashion appeals to them.  How many weeks are we going to spend torching houses when there’s much better ways to spill ink?  Oh, that’s right: until someone has been put in there place and stays there.

Good luck with that.

So this guy from Texas is running for President…

Yes, it’s Ted Cruz.  And how do I know it’s a big deal?  Because my wife, who is not into politics very much, and leans liberal to boot, heard the news.  She still thinks no one can beat Hillary! though, and that’s an interesting sign for another reason: the news she gets mentioned Sen. Cruz’s announcement, but I none of them have commented much on Hillary!‘s email scandal.  I guess the palace guard (aka the Old Media) still has some power after all.