Can’t take it today

My BS detector is wide open and I’m picking up the odor from nearly all directions. From those who want to defend the laws protecting people who prejudge potential customers to others who want to deny that the climate is changing, to those who HAVE to make the stupidest arguments with regards to sexism, sexuality, and media.

Got my tail tweaked by a link to post suggesting that “what’s wrong with SF today” is that everything is some progressive analogy… which is a load of fucking hooey. This is why I’m increasingly glad I’m not part of any organized “community.” It seems to me that the function of such things is to produce bullshit in ever increasing amounts.

Sales of SF and fantasy book titles may be decreasing. At the same time such titles are exploding in the box office. Oh, they may not be as expansive as you might like. There are a thousand titles I can think of that would make great movies. But even so…

People are reading less. That’s just a fact. And when a minority reads for pleasure, all the authors out there are pretty much competing for the same readers. What are you bringing to the table that’s new and original?

I didn’t like this particular post because though he alluded to all these cases where “the sword-swinging warriors were actually the invaders of peaceful Dragon Land” and such, he never actually offered EXAMPLES of same. I can tell you, I’ve never read anything of the kind, and if it exists, it’s certainly not indicative of a goddamn TREND.

Maybe being a writer is as much about sniveling that you’re not being bought and read as anything these days. I could join the chorus. “Oh, it’s my politics. People don’t buy my stuff because they don’t like my politics.” Or “I don’t pander to a certain audience (pick your audience) therefore I’m being picked on.”

Did that sound convincing?

There’s been a lot of talk lately about “Political correctness” stifling free speech. Maher’s whined about it. Larry Wilkerson has whined about it. Here’s my observation. You can say anything you like. But if you piss off too many people, they WILL come and yell at you. A lot. This is not curtailing YOUR right of free speech… as much as you’d like to whine that it is.

The most feminist thing I ever read was a series by Gael Baudino, who frankly, makes Margaret Atwood look like a Mens Rights Advocate. One of hers is the only series I can think of in which the dragons might beoppressed and the bad guys are the sword-swinging men.

More or less. The guy makes it sound like this is every other book/story being written these days. If he thinks so all I have to say is that he’s reading the wrong damn things. And maybe, occasionally, reading too much into things. Not everything is symbolic of anything else, regardless of what your literature teacher tried to tell you. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Gael Baudino, for those who don’t know, is a lesbian Dianic Wiccan Priestess out of Denver who writes fantasy on the side. Some dark ass fantasy too, filled with very real historical horrors transplanted into a fantasy realm. Honestly, I don’t have a lot of patience for those whining about how men are portrayed by some of these women. Sniveling doesn’t impress me much.

When I was younger I dreamed of great success. Now I’m happy if people read my books and enjoy them. I’m not trying to win any awards, or impress people with my expression of my political ideals in my books. (You’ll find that politics varies greatly between characters–what one character might advocate another would find horrific).

I thought back, tried to recall the more popular fantasy series of the past few years. Can’t say I’m really up on the SF, given that I’m thrilled when a new Bujold Vorkosigan Saga book drops, but pay little attention otherwise… and it’s not as though SF has been reluctant to tackle uncomfortable (for some) subjects all along.

In fantasy I find myself thinking of Dresden, and Game of Thrones, and maybe Patty Briggs’ Mercy Thompson novels. The urban fantasy and young adult stuff that’s come out with such a bang lately. Stuff vaguely similar to the stuff I write.

I’m still not sure what THE FUCK this dude was talking about. Yes, people have stopped reading SF and Fantasy because the spaceship or barbarian on the cover is falsely advertising adventure and giving people thoughtful social commentary instead.

WTF?

I’m currently waiting for the next installment of Sanderson’s “Mistborn” series.

Maybe he’s talking YA here. You know, like Tamora Pierce’s books. Maybe he’s referring to the revolution of the slaves in her “Trickster’s Choice” and “Trickster’s Queen” duology.

Okay, I’ll admit I’m reaching. I have to, since he offered no examples. When this landed in front of me and I read it I was left genuinely annoyed by it. And you all know me. I don’t hide my annoyance very well.

Seriously.. this dude needs to read more. Or different things. Or SOMETHING.

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Ah, quit your bitchin.’

I’m tired of people bitching about the Democrats.

Some 30 years ago the wingnuts decided the Republican Party wasn’t actually representing their interests and set about infiltrating the party and setting up their own political machine inside of it. This culminated eventually in the Tea Party. The ACTUAL people in charge of the Republican party want to USE the culture warriors–they don’t want them to be calling the shots. They weren’t exactly given a choice.

Instead of doing something similar, “progressives” fled the Democratic Party because it wasn’t good enough, and then bitched because the party wasn’t progressive enough. Every day nearly a hundred members of the progressive caucus go to work and fight for the little folks, but they don’t get interviewed very often. In fact the media only usually approaches a single one of their number… Bernie Sanders.

If you think the Democratic Party isn’t good enough, the person to blame stares out of your mirror every morning.

The progressive caucus could use a bit of help. As much as we can give it. Which is why we should be trying to elect more progressive Dems, not wasting our energy throwing poop at a party we’ve had a hand in making less capable.

If you’re bitching without proposing a solution or resolution, you’re just whining.

Culture War refugees take heed

Tied up in the culture war is a basic concept that is constantly ignored. Freedom. Do people have the RIGHT to be homosexual? To be what they’re clearly born to be? To they have the right to make a choice, if they should happen to be inclined that way? If you actually believe in freedom, if you actually believe people have the right to make their own choices regardless of what a small subsection of religious folks think about it, then there’s no sticking point here.

You can’t claim to be for “freedom” if you think it’s any of your business what consenting adults do behind closed doors. Or with their own bodies, when you get right down to it.

Religious freedom determines what YOU do. You can choose to go to the church that suits you. You can call God by the name that suits you. You can read the religious text that suits you. You can follow whatever holy days you wish to adopt, depending on the religion or sect you claim. You can teach your children this belief system.

What you DON’T get to do is force others to abide by it, or act as though you have more right to swing your religion around than anyone else does. Christians in the U.S. have no more right to say that gays can’t get married than Muslims do telling women they have to wear burqas, or Jews do telling people they can’t eat pork.

There are sects that don’t allow celebration of holidays. There are sects that require very specific acts of restitution if crimes are committed against fellows or the godhood itself. No one requires people not of that faith to abide by these tenets. And this is a good thing. This is true religious freedom.

And now they’ve decided that they somehow get to decide what “their” money is spent on. If they pay into insurance pools, THEY get to decide what kind of medical care other people get to pay for with it. As if that money still belongs to them once they’ve paid it out.

Seriously, people. Do you NOT consider that a sub-text of the whole “pursuit of happiness” angle didn’t mean the “pursuit of a good time?” Ben Franklin was a known lecher. Thomas was shtupping his slaves. Men of power have always had mistresses. Some of the religious have objected, but the fact is that throughout most of history, the powerful and wealthy have done whatever the hell they wanted regardless of what anyone else would have done. And particularly men of wealth and power, who were given the ability to simply TAKE what they wanted, be it land, or a woman’s virtue.

Women deserve the same sexual agency as men have always had. If that means that we have to change the definition of marriage, than so be it. It’s not the first time THAT has happened. Despite all arguments to the contrary. Look up Betty Bowers explains traditional marriage.

A religion may be a fine thing to have. It didn’t suit me in the end. I’m pretty much dedicated to thinking for myself and absorbing someone else’s view of the universe and subsequent deal doesn’t suit me. I figure I’ll know the score soon enough, or know nothing at all. Either way I’m satisfied. And, no, I don’t believe in the divine judgement. If other people can’t see the utter falsehood inherent in their claim of omniscience for this jealous, mercurial, and often just plain CRUEL deity, then there’s not much I can do to convince them. But the OT “God” was a dick. Jesus coming along and saying “Hey, he promises to stop being so much of a dick” was followed by several centuries–damn near two thousand years, of the Church being quite dickish enough all on its own, thank you very much.

Another person’s religion doesn’t harm me in the least. As long as they know where to stop swinging it. I don’t barge into their churches and denounce their holy books. They need to stay the hell out of my secular government. And keep their long noses out of my sex life… such as it is. Is that too much to ask?

Images and words

Here’s why I don’t get this tendency a lot of people have… someone does something that pisses them off and they don’t see them as an individual. As a representative of humanity as a whole. They tend to be pigeonholed as “goddamn <insert racial slur here> or “goddamn <men/women/gender insult here>” rather than just as a generic human asshole. If you call someone an asshole, other assholes don’t rise up to defend them. Okay, depending on what KIND of asshole they are. But people don’t self-identify as assholes and rise to defend other assholes.

If you’re looking at other people and thinking “They’re that way because they’re black, jewish, british, korean, etc…” you’re really missing the point. They’re that way because they’re HUMAN. Oh, sure, there’s some cultural oddities you occasionally encounter, but that’s usually with more recent immigrants. “No, sir, we are not allowed to haggle with customers. That’s not how things work here.”

There’s this backlash against this “PC Police” stuff on campus. Listen, if you call a girl a “slut,” you’re going to piss off a bunch of self-identified “sluts” or anti-slut shamers. Feminists who think you’re commenting on THEIR sexuality. If you call a transgendered person a “trannie” you’re going to piss off a good portion of THAT community and their friends. I talk about emotionally charged things all the time and I tend to do it without offending people in GENERAL. I don’t have a bunch of people of a particular mindset swarming all over me because of accidentally offended their sensibilities. Usually if someone’s pissed at me it’s because I’ve PERSONALLY offended them, and it’s usually because they’ve offended me.

Does it sometimes make communication a bit of a delicate dance? Well, yes. But communication is supposed to be precise. Our communications should be to be well-considered, especially in this era of permanence. Your “off-hand statement” isn’t really all that casual. It’s not going to simply disappear from everyone’s consciousness. It’s on the internet, which, as long as we don’t crash civilization, is as close to permanent as we can imagine right now.

Language is next to worthless if we treat it as some slack-jawed messenger that gets the job done even if he has to ride down a couple of kids in the street. Words have power. Immense psychological power. They can be used to build or destroy, and sometimes our assumptions of which is which can get confused. And when people decide to start defining terms to suit themselves, to act as though “language is fluid” is an excuse for changing definitions on the fly, it gets even worse.

For example. When was the last time you heard someone in RW media refer to a white person as a “thug?”

That’s not coincidence. These people understand language. I do believe that their think-tanks and media groups use the data mined from several propaganda heavy autocratic regimes, nearly a hundred years of advertising, and every other public relations and psychological bit of mind-feckery they can delve into, to craft messages that are calculated to bypass the rational minds of a great many American adults. And of course this reinforces itself because they’re told that these specific outlets are the only people they can trust for information.

These are the same people who scream their “free speech” is being abrogated because they can’t walk up to a gay person and say “You know you’re going to hell, right?”

And it’s not as though they’re swarmed and beaten, or thrown in jail, or waterboarded, or anything else. Instead, they’re publicly castigated. By other people using THEIR right of free speech.

“You don’t have a right not to be offended.” No. But you also don’t have a right to tell people you offend to shut up.

Stop saying “Freedom of Speech” if you don’t even know what IT MEANS.

You know, I really wanted to give the Nightly Show a chance. And I did. But last night’s show just pissed me off. For all his talk about “keeping it 100” he allowed the rightwingers last night to compare social backlash for unpopular speech to passing laws restricting freedom of speech, which are TWO very different things.

“Keeping it 100” my ass.

Unless someone amazing replaces Jon, I have the feeling that my Comedy Channel viewing will be reduced to @midnight, because I’m DONE with the Nightly Show.

Rick Scott issues an order banning the use of the term “climate change,” an order with the force of law, and they want to pretend that this is somehow similar to a social media backlash.

Having people yell at you because they don’t like what you’re saying doesn’t abrogate your free speech. It just proves that speech goes around and everyone gets to participate. If you say something completely insensitive, don’t be surprised if the Twitterverse reams you a new orifice. This IS NOT the same as using the power of government to shut you up. If you think it is, you DON’T UNDERSTAND THE CONSTITUTION.

Liz Winstead was the only one on the show last night who appeared to have a clue. The rest of them? Fucking morons. Including the host. Hell, ESPECIALLY the host.

An Alternative 2nd Amendment (AA2A)

Imagine if the 2nd Amendment read “Because the right of self defense is an innate right of all living creatures, the right of a citizen to learn as many martial arts as he or she desires, including up to an including the use of weapons, shall not be infringed.”

Of course, they didn’t use the term “martial arts” at that point in time, but still. Imagine something that codified our right to self defense but didn’t specify firearms.

At the time the firearm was considered the “great equalizer.” A weak shopkeeper with a gun might be more powerful, at least briefly, than a skilled swordsman. Assuming he had a loaded weapon on hand, of course. It was the era’s version of “hope you can get your gun out before the bad guy shoots you.”

There was a time when anyone with any money whatsoever couldn’t go anywhere without a guard, if he or she wasn’t stupid. Before guns. Before modern culture. See, back in the day if crops failed there were no bailouts. If crops failed, farmers could become bandits in a matter of days. Desperation leads to desperate acts.

I think this notion that “guns = self-defense” is contributing to some bad shit in our country. And most people realize it too. We’ve tried to suppress the non-lethal forms of violence while allowing the means of lethal violence to remain relatively easy to obtain. The guy who used to punch his boss and walk out now walks out, gets a gun, and returns to shoot the boss. And others unlucky enough to be in the area.

Penn and Teller did an episode of their bullshit show “Bullshit” (I dislike Penn intensely, btw) about how effective the martial arts are in self defense. (Penn’s a Libertarian. I’m pretty sure his argument was “guns work better.”) Wanker.

I’ve used the martial arts several times to save my ass, and others. And not only do those trained reflexes work in a fight, they also help me react quickly in other circumstances. I once snatched a flailing air hose out of the air before it could whack me in the face. It helps reduce reaction time, training synapses to fire faster.

Just the other day I fell down the stairs. If not for my training on falling I could have seriously injured myself. But some of my oldest training came to the fore and I landed without serious injury… though I hurt for days.

Here’s why I think kung fu is better than guns. I’ve never heard of a kid finding kung fu magazines and accidentally killing people with them. Strong-arm robberies using martial arts are quite rare. People are not having lethal martial arts battles in the streets. Guys aren’t killing their girlfriend’s kids practicing Tae-Kwon-Do.

No one can steal your Karate. And you don’t have to buy a trigger lock or a safe to store it in.

Conspiracy Theories.

If someone says to me “See, there’s these twenty thousand people in this conspiracy, right,” I throw up a red light. This person doesn’t understand what a conspiracy is, or how it works. Twenty thousand people could no more be in a conspiracy than they could be in a boy band. Conspiracies exist by LIMITING the number of people who know. Because every single person who knows is another person who could blow it.

You notice something about these major conspiracy theories? No one with any credibility whatsoever has ever stepped forward and said “Yes. I was a part of this.”

That’s a good way to tell if a conspiracy is plausible, btw. Numbers. Too high and it’s impossible. And I’ll tell you why. A conspiracy can’t involve too many people at all. Not who know exactly what’s going on. You might find some compartmentalization, where some of the actors know SOME of what’s going on. But any conspiracy with more than twenty or so people–and that’s about the largest I can imagine–is running serious risks of exposure.

People talk. People trust people they shouldn’t. People get intoxicated. People feel guilt, and peer pressure. People have emotional issues. People change their minds. The more people involved, the higher the chance this will happen to one or more of them, since disaffection can spread like a virus.