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.

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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.

Nintendo Survey

My son is building a handheld gaming system for school.  Yes, he takes after me.  Why do you ask?

He’s basing it off of these two projects:

PiGrrl

Super Game Pi

Part of the project is to get responses to a survey he created.  He’s only got about 20 so far, and he needs 100.  Would you consider spending a minute or two helping a kid?  Especially if you like Nintendo?

Farewell, and Godspeed

I learned how to raise one eyebrow because of Leonard Nimoy.  He expressed so much with that one gesture, and I wanted to do the same.

I didn’t realize how much Mr. Spock meant to me until today.  I didn’t realize that I would grieve the passing of the man who made him both the most human and the most iconic character of my childhood.  Right up until Star Wars came out and changed everything.

But Mr. Spock was still important.  He showed me that being smart and quiet were not faults, but traits worth celebrating.  He could have been the comic relief, the mocked sidekick, and instead he was the strength of the show, the moral and intellectual center. He embodied geekdom before we knew there were others like us, and we loved him for it.  We loved Kirk and Bones, Uhuru and Sulu, Chekhov and Scotty, but we wanted to be Spock.

Watching ST:TOS will never be the same, but I have not wanted to watch it more in the last thirty years as I do today.  Or maybe I’ll watch one of the movies, probably II or IV.  Maybe not Khan, now that I think of it.  That one may have to wait a week or two.  The video above almost did me in already.

Mr. Spock always raises the right eyebrow, but I was so young that I just imitated what I saw, and learned how to raise the left.  When I realized my mistake, I was in my twenties, and I discovered that I couldn’t raise the right on it’s own.  Still can’t.  But it doesn’t matter.

Tonight I’m just going to be trying not to cry.

Brian Williams knows stuff you don’t

So if you haven’t heard by now, Brian Williams, the anchor of the NBC Nightly News, was caught lying about being in a helicopter hit by enemy fire.  His apology, that he doesn’t know how he “misremembered” such an incident, sounded very neutral, like he was reporting on someone else’s scandal, and not a very important one at that.

I wish I could find it, but I swear there is a commercial I have seen a few times, where Brian Williams talks about how you should watch NBC News, because they will go out and find the news you need to know.  And the unspoken implication is always, if you don’t see it on their show, it’s not news.  I’ll keep looking for the video, and I’ll put it up if I find it.

Feminist Music

I stumbled upon this over at Ace’s:

I think the funniest part is the fact that they have music stands set up, with sheet music that they occasionally refer to.  Evidently, they would not have been able to remember what they were supposed to sing otherwise.  Or perhaps which discordant note to hit.  Or which note they were supposed to avoid all together.  It’s hard to say what those sheets were instructing them to do.

Who should take care of the children?

I came across this at Ace of Spades the other night:

…doesn’t the responsibility of caring for the illegal immigrant children fall on the federal government? The very federal government which helped cause this crisis in the first place.

This comment was made about Glenn Beck’s efforts to raise money for the unaccompanied children streaming across the border.  Glenn has gotten a lot of criticism for his stance, mostly along the lines of “if you help them, it’s just going to encourage more of them.”

Here’s my take on it.  Asking the federal government of the United States to take care of children is the same as asking the thief to guard the bank, or the pederast to babysit (that last analogy may be closer to the truth than is comfortable).

Imagine this: thousands of children come to America, and before they are deported, only experience the bureaucratic nightmare of our government.  They are assigned a number and a folder, and are shuffled from place to place, with people yelling at them, abusing them, and treating them like animals or garbage.  Then they get sent back home, and they tell of the horror that used to be the Land of the Free.  They want nothing to do with anything American, and reject the philosophy and ideals of America out of hand.

Or this: thousands of children come to America, and before they are deported, they see ordinary citizens, with no government connection, trying to find out who they are and why they came, taking care of them one by one, as individuals who have inherent worth.  They still get sent back home, but now they have experienced what it means to be American, and they want it for their own people, and if that proves impossible, then they want to return to America and take their place as a new citizen.

Don’t let the government, especially at the federal level, care for anything that you don’t want broken, especially people.

How I spent Independence Day

On July 4th of this year, I was at the highest council Scout camp in America, Camp Steiner, elevation 10,400 ft.  It’s rocky, rough terrain, with two beautiful lakes, a wealth of tall pines, and several remaining snow banks, even in early July.  Our scout troop attended the whole week, but I was only there Thursday evening through Friday morning, helping in any way I could, and surprising my son, who was on his first long camp out (and who had no idea I was coming).

The evening of the 4th, the camp had their closing ceremonies for the week, held on the shore of Scout Lake, in an amphitheater with log seating, and two big fire bowls.  There was plenty of typical Scouting silliness: skits, cheers, stories, songs.  But there were two serious moments that affected me deeply.  The first was an official flag retirement ceremony.  I don’t know that I’ve ever seen one before, and I’m sure I did not realize that outside the military, only the Boy Scouts are authorized to conduct the ceremony.  It felt strange to see the flag burning in a respectful and solemn manner, after having seen images of it being burned in hate and acrimony around the world.  Everyone remained silent during the few minutes it took, and I have rarely witnessed a more patriotic scene.

The second thing was when they asked all the veterans in attendance to come forward to be recognized for their service to our country.  My son, sitting with his friends, turned around and said, “That’s you, dad!” and he was more correct than he knew.  There were probably twenty or twenty five adult leaders present, but apart from two staff members, I was the only one to come forward.  They looked good in their scout uniforms, and I felt dingy in my t-shirt and jeans.  But we stood there, and had a moment of silence for those had had served, and those who had paid for our freedom with their lives.

I know that the holiday is past, and everyone has gone back to their normal lives, with most people putting away thoughts of patriots, revolutions, and founding fathers until next year.  But the ideas behind our nation, the concept of government that must respect the people it serves, and the elevation of personal liberty at the expense of public conformity, continue to be of vital interest as our nation ages.  We have erred recently on the side of caution: we try and save people from being able to make bad choices, and try to nudge the electorate in the direction of greater state involvement in our daily lives.  But in the greater sense, our government is failing its primary duty, which is to secure our ability to work and live unmolested by others.

Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness are the rights that were enumerated to be natural, unalienable, and bestowed upon us not by man but by God.  But now our lives are not our own as we attempt to follow rules, regulations, and laws that are neither impartial nor equally applied.  Our government can take everything from us without due process, and can shoot us with impunity.  And we can only pursue our own happiness if does not offend those that are considered protected: gays, Muslims, blacks, women.  And our own happiness can be officially curtailed if we are in a category that is allowed, or even encouraged to be denigrated: Christians, Asians, conservatives, fathers.

There are ways of getting back to a better place.  One would be a Constitutional Convention, to curb the excesses of our government.  Another would be a to fix our educational system to teach our children why America is worth preserving.  But it all starts with us, as individuals.  What are we willing to do to make the changes?