Friday, April 14, 2017

Crazy Conspiracy Theory Day

So, on the face of it, Trump's threat to bomb North Korea if it so much as looks at us crosswise seems... weak. A rational person would have put out an obvious and hard deadline, such as actually launching a missile or test, rather than merely looking like you might. A smart person would never have boxed themselves in on a bluff they didn't want to be called on. A mildly competent person would not have promised to start a war over imaginary weapons of mass destruction, particularly after having spent so many years complaining about the last one.

Despite all that, is mere incompetence and narcissistic nilhism really sufficient to explain this latest move? Particularly as it comes on the heels of President Xi of China's visit with Trump, which apparently included an education on Asian geo-politics. (So nice of China to educated our President for free! I'm sure they did it entirely out of the goodness of their hearts, with no ulterior motives at all.) And following the impulsive attack on Syria, it looks doubly suspicious.

Here's my idiot conspiracy theory for the day: Xi put Trump up to it. Now Xi is sending more diplomats to NK to tell them, "The Americans are insane - they might do it! You need our help to defuse the situation." They are playing good cop/bad cop, and they tricked Trump into being the bad cop.

If it works - great! The Chinese get to squeeze NK a little more, peace gets restored, and things go on as before but with China in a better position. If it fails - it is entirely on the USA. Trump either backs down from his empty threat or worse, carries it out. We get either massive collapse of international prestige or an actual war that will kill millions. Either way the USA is made a fool; in all cases China's position is only improved.

This, my friends, is the work of a Great Negotiator.

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.