Saturday, March 25, 2017

The South shall rise again... and it has.

Why do Republicans persist in this idea that poverty is a function of laziness? They seem unable to perceive the institutional structure of the modern economy. All ideology aside, this seems odd.

In 1861, a Louisiana journalist wrote an article explaining 10 reasons why non-slaveholding whites would nonetheless fight for slavery . His most salient point, of course, is #4:
The poor white laborer at the North is at the bottom of the social ladder, while his brother here has ascended several steps, and can look down upon those who are beneath him at an infinite remove!
wherein he explains that the class differences between rich and poor whites are masked by having a class below the poor.

But what finally struck me was #5:
The non-slaveholder knows that as soon as his savings will admit, he can become a slaveholder, and thus relieve his wife from the necessities of the kitchen and the laundry, and his children from the labors of the field. . . . 

In the antebellum South, poverty really was a function of character, because any man who worked hard could eventually afford a slave. And once you had a female slave, you could literally breed yourself a fortune. This is the Libertarian dream writ large; that the privileged can profit by exploiting the vulnerable with the full force of the law to support them. (Libertarians have no problem with slavery as long as it's "voluntary," meaning once you can starve a man into submission, you can own him for the rest of his life - and his children as well.)

As I have written before, Republicans focus so much on gun ownership and the need for any man to defend himself and his loved ones at a moment's notice because of the threat of a slave revolt. The honor culture was a response to a slave-state, just like it was for the Spartans.

Thus, to understand Republican ideology is quite literally the same task as understanding Confederate culture. That's all it is; the entire Conservative movement in America is merely the extension of the Confederacy. It is only a matter of time before the official Republican party platform calls for the return of chattel slavery - solely to solve the budget crisis, of course.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Doggy deceit

Another note for the Orion's Dog files (my SF work-in-progress). Dogs can lie

Yahzi was accomplished at lying. I saw him try to blame a crime on the cat once. He'd trick other dogs into having a fit and then act innocent. On a camping trip he wanted a sandwich I was eating; when I didn't give him any, he started staring off into the distance; when I stared the same way, he made a lunge for the sandwich.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

On the Milo tour bus

A fantastic article, proving that some journalists can still write:

On the milo bus with the lost boys

The best paragraph (out of many):

What happens to the Lost Boys in that story [Peter Pan] if they ever start to build memories and change, if they ever started to become adults?

They skipped this bit in the Disney movie, but, in the books, Peter kills them.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

The Kassa Gambit for $2.99!

There is now an electronic edition of The Kassa Gambit for $2.99. It was put together by NLA Digital and looks fantastic; Gregory Manchess let us re-use the wonderful cover he originally painted for TOR.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Judgment at Verdant Court reviews

A couple of nice reviews for the new book:

"...I’m really pleased with this plot twist."
The Illustrated Page

"Then the good stuff happens."
SF Crow's Nest

"Aided by a sombre and heroically humble military veteran, Karl, and a slew of other memorable allies..."
Timothy at Goodreads

Good catch! Christopher is the protagonist of the story; but Karl is the hero.  The most self-realized character I have ever written; I remember being surprised when I first met Karl in the narrative. Which, given that I was writing it, was a bit surprising.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

How Climate Change elected Donald Trump

Morality is not a set of abstract rules handed down from on high, or intuited from the structure of the universe. It is a utility function that maximizes genetic fitness. We evolved morality as a response to the evolutionary pressures of social living. This means that as the environment changes, so do our intuitions of morality.

In other words, what people perceive to be moral depends on what what they perceive to benefit their chance of passing on their genes.

Climate change is an undeniable fact; sea levels will rise, and billions of people will be displaced. This is properly terrifying. Humans respond to fear by becoming more authoritarian. Donald Trump won on one and only one policy: anti-immigration. Racism and sexism were relevant, but only as expressions of this fear. Trump’s true allure was his authoritarianism, his promise to close the borders, and his sociopathy.

Because those are the qualities required to close the gates to a horde of refugees. To stand back and watch a billion people drown requires it. They voted for the most horrible person they could find, because they want him to do something horrible.

Around the world, racism, nativism, and tribalism are on the rise. People are girding themselves for the battle to come. Their real concern is not that refugees are brown or Muslim; those are useful categories but not necessary. It is their mere status as refugees that is frightening.

Climate change is mostly caused by rich nations; its pain will be borne most heavily by poor nations. We have already demonstrated that we will not give up our luxuries for their dying; how much less likely are we to suffer the real and measurable privation that would come with both reducing climate change and caring for the people it displaces.

Hillary Clinton (and for that matter, Bernie Sanders) represented inclusiveness. Their leadership would have steered the lifeboat closer, to rescue as many people as possible, even at the risk of capsizing. Trump represents the opposite: the boats that left the Titanic early, only half-full.

To leave the sinking ship in an orderly fashion saves the most lives, but it also requires trust. The Republicans dedicated the last thirty years to destroying trust in government and largely succeeded. Now we unpack the dog-whistles and see that Clinton was not “trustworthy,” because Clinton could not be trusted to row away from the drowning innocents.

Despite all their talk of Christian faith and climate skepticism, their actions reveal their fear. Not just buying guns, but hardening hearts, quelling empathy, embracing strength, celebrating savagery.

It is, in their perception, the best way to survive the coming flood.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Woman is the n****r of the world

John Lennon wrote those words a long time ago.

Nothing has changed.

The best qualified woman, the smartest person in the room, with a thirty-year of history of hard work, applied for a job. A drunken boor literally walked in off the street... and they gave the job to him.

In the end, the best woman was still worse than the worst man.

The Republicans paid no price for breaking our democratic traditions. No candidate will ever again release their taxes. No candidate will put his assets in a blind trust; the Presidency will be viewed as a vehicle for making money. No candidate will worry about fact checking - Trump stood up and lied to thousands about a video they could literally have checked on their phones and they didn't care. No candidate will worry about Constitutional rights of the citizenry: calling for police monitoring of religious groups will be just another campaign promise.

So many traditions were smashed tonight, in a way that Bush at his worst never dreamed of. This was not a partisan election; this was not between Republican policies and Democratic principles. This was either a revolt against the norms of democracy, or an act of negligent homicide.

Either way, the people said they wanted change; well, they'll get it.