Spawn of Mars
Don't worry. If you like your religion, you can keep your religion.
The Animals Agree With Me
Your Ideology Is Showing, Dear
Wednesday, February 19, 2020 2:34 pm
Warning: Contains rhetorical employment of naughty words.

A scientist should be clear-eyed. Unfortunately, a human cannot interpret without bias. Especially nowadays, when ideologies demand things contrary to common sense, not a few scientists skew what they see to advance what they want.

I saw a lecture on YouTube in which a scientist, rather preciously, winked and nudged at the audience as he talked, expecting us to discover, in his animals stories, the usual current-year shibboleths: that homosexuality is not unnatural and that females are just better than males. 

First, giraffes. What is the point of that ridiculous neck? Why, male giraffes use it to thwock each other, as with great and flexible clubs. But here's the twist. When males fight they become — ahem — tumescent. When one male wins he sodomizes the other. Since male and female giraffes do not live together, ninety-four percent of a male giraffe's genital experiences are with another male. Sex, our scientist slyly says, is not only for reproduction.

Wink wink; nudge nudge. Gay is good. The giraffes agree!

Silly scientist. He infers a slapfight in a bathhouse and a coda of passionate man-luv. What has actually happened, of course, is that the victorious giraffe is humiliating the loser. He is treating the loser as a female. "Take that, motherfucker." It may be a kind of sexual release, but it is not a sexual act. There is no gay. There is only an assertion of dominance. Indeed, it affirms the natural male-female paradigm of sex.

Second, dolphins. It seems the greatest goal of modern science is to diminish mankind; and one favorite tactic is to point out that man is not the only maker of tools. Why, look at that orangutan, who spearfishes with a denuded branch! Yeah, yeah. I get your point. Call me when an orangutan lands on the Moon.

But fair enough, a very few animals do make tools. Consider one community of bottle-nosed dolphins. They have taken to encasing their snouts in sponges. Why? Because, when foraging and feeding, these dolpins are attacked on the snouts by crabs. The sponges are an armor contrived from the environment. A tool, as it were. Intriguingly, this trick is taught to little dolphins, and has become generational knowledge.

Among the females, that is. Only the female dolphins wear this armor. Only the females learn to use it. I can't imagine why this is sex-specific, our scientist slyly says, trying to solicit giggles about the dum-dum males.

Wink wink; nudge nudge. Girls are bright; boys are dull. The dolphins agree!

Or perhaps: Girls are sissies; boys are tough. "Ow, ow, my nose!" "Look, girlfriend, use this sponge!" "Ooh, ooh! That's so much nicer!" Meanwhile the male dolphins don't give a shit. They're males. So what if some crab scratches you up? And why would any male mimic a female? "Dude, you're wearing a sponge! What are you, a fag?" And don't think the females would be any less dismissive of a male so weak that he can't even face the world.

Or, sure, okay, males are simply dull-witted. That's how they got to the Moon.

Yes, in the end, I am saying the animals agree with me. And yes, my ideology is showing, too. But my ideology begins in nature. You can judge whether I am clear-eyed or not.

Claire Randall Is a Trollop and a Shrew
And Outlander  Cheers, "You Go Girl!"
Tuesday, November 5, 2019 11:02 am
Outlander is a TV series about Claire Randall, former war nurse, who is living in Britain in 1946 when she is magically transported to the Scottish Highlands of 1743. Outlander supposes Claire to be our heroine. But Claire is not a heroine; and there are three things that confirm this. 

Note as a preliminary that, thinking herself trapped in 1743, Claire consents to marry the sexy Scotsman Jamie, even though, back in 1946, she is already married to bookish Frank. This bigamy is not in itself the problem. There are good narrative reasons for it.

First Thing. Jamie and party are off to find a British deserter. Claire has come along because she has demonstrated (with her superior 20th-century learning) her utility as a nurse. But fearing a trap, Jamie tells Claire to hang back. He wants her safe. She promises to stay put. Once he is gone, she wanders off. She is captured by the British. Jamie and party rescue her. Once rescued, she is upbraided by Jamie for wandering off. She endangered everyone. The clan has now exposed itself to British retribution. The British commander has learned that Jamie, who is a fugitive, is hiding amongst that clan. Jamie is furious with Claire for disobeying him and breaking her promise. And what does she do? She rants about not being his property; that he can't order her around. Claire is a Strong Woman, after all. No husband, no man, can dictate to her!

Now, Claire wandered off because she sensed Craigh na Dun nearby. The standing stones of Craigh na Dun were the point of her transition to 1743 — and she wants to transit back to 1946. In other words, her reasons for disobeying Jamie were profound. Yet, instead of getting an honest character conflict (wherein Claire recognizes the enormity of her disobedience but cannot admit the time-displacement thing), we get that shrewish feminist cry "I AM NOT YOUR PROPERTY!" — as if heeding Jamie's solicitous authority and keeping her promise are equivalent to chattel enslavement. Her response is unbecoming and adolescent — as feminism be — and, what's worse, Outlander believes Claire has responded appropriately to Jamie's fury.

Second Thing. Claire has made friends with Geillis, a sassy woman who dabbles in potions and is married to a flatulent buffoon. Geillis, wanting to be with her lover, poisons her husband. Jamie tells Claire to stay away from Geillis, given the murder, the scandal, the danger from the law, and other such petty things. Again Claire promises to stay put. Then Claire gets a note from Geillis and immediately goes to see her. Does Claire ever once shrink from Geillis the murderess, the poisoner of husbands? Does she tell Geillis that maybe poisoning was a bad idea? No. Claire is only concerned for her friend. Screw the men, after all. What matters most is the happiness of Geillis, who is Claire's bestest bestie.

Outlander has no problem with Claire's myopic behavior. The sisterhood is what matters, right through the inevitable trial for witchcraft (and its attendant Christophobia).

Third Thing. Jamie, having learned that Claire is from 1946, nobly takes her to Craigh na Dun so that she might return home and reunite with Frank. At this point Jamie and Claire are in full-on monkey-sex love. As she approaches the stones it is clear that she can indeed return; the forces are calling her through. Frank, of course, is desperately unhappy in her absence; and although she can't know this, what else would he be? He's also just her husband, her proper husband, her original husband. She has some vows to uphold, I'd say. However, she stays in 1743 because, of course, it's Sexy Highlander she wants inside her.

And Outlander tells you: It's so romantic!

These three things were so off-putting that I could not accept Claire as a heroine. I kept waiting for Outlander to be honest about Claire. It never was. So never mind.

Outlander is a highbrow Harlequin Romance. It is a bodice-ripping woman's fantasy and Claire Randall is the avatar of irresponsible feminine self-centeredness.

I've got better things to watch.

The Two-Moms Proof
The Wisdom of the Trans Tweeter
Sunday, March 3, 2019 7:42 pm
I don't normally blog about social or political issues; not directly, in any event. This is meant to be a blog about art and philosophy, science fiction and writing. But today I'm really annoyed. 

So I caught this YouTube video by Tim Pool talking about how Terry Crews, the actor, is in trouble for saying that a child who grows up without a parent — most pointedly, without a father — will be "malnourished." Of course our gynarchy, recognizing this as a defense of the distinctive necessity of men, is now condemning Crews.

One of my favorite tweets against Crews said this:
I was adopted by two moms. And when I was 12, I came out as a trans guy. I didn't have a "father figure," but I had many examples of positive and healthy masculinity from people [of] all genders.
Remember. This tweeter means somehow to counter Crews. Having been raised by Two Moms, the tweeter now longs to be the sex he is not, and is no doubt working towards mutilating his body to remove his genitals. See? There is nothing wrong with our tweeter! Father-free, he received exactly the upbringing he needed to become a perfectly normal man.

Our tweeter claims he had many examples of "positive and healthy masculinity." If he did, he ignored them. He did not develop into a man; the disorder in his mind prevailed. There were probably no genuine examples anyhow. Most likely he is using "positive masculinity" in the feminist sense: i.e., soyboy submission to female aggrandizement.

The other absurdity is that he thinks there can be examples of masculinity from "all" genders. First, it's cute that he says "all" rather than "both." The madness of this world! Second, masculinity cannot be exemplified by women. Masculinity is what men are. A woman may exhibit one or another trait that is normally exhibited by men; but should she embody so many such traits that one might call her "masculine," then she has simply failed as a woman. She is an example of nothing but disorder.

Try to explain this to our tweeter. It won't work. I'm sure he thinks "masculine" and "feminine" are things we humans just made up. Masks available to anyone! He can't even see that his being a "trans guy" proves Crews's point. Our tweeter is too busy affirming himself to face himself.

Mars Can Wait
Until the Restoration
Thursday, July 26, 2018 1:41 pm
I haven't read anything about the President's initiative for a Space Force. I don't even know if it was more than a rhetorical wish. That, and some rumblings about finally going to Mars, could make a person hopeful, however.

To think we once walked on the Moon! And now we must fret over trannies in bathrooms.

It occurs to me, though, that the last thing we want is to head to Mars under the current social regime. You know as well as I that the most pressing issue will be: Should the first human to step foot on Mars be a woman, a black, or a black woman? What should be an achievement of the species will instead be a fight for diversity points. Without question the success of the mission will be subordinated to the satisfaction of SJW feelz.

Therefore I think it best that we whose heads are clear not wish for a Mars landing soon. Let us wait for a restoration of civilization; for a renewal, frankly, of patriarchy. Our current gynarchy would make a farce of any Mars mission.

Now, being a sourpuss, I think we will have a collapse long before there is a restoration of anything sane; and it will be some unknown descendant civilization that finally makes it to Mars. So be it. The first men on Mars should be men, plain and simple. Men are the explorers and conquerors. Modern America has forgotten that.

P.S. So should I be cheering on China? Or Russia? It makes an American sad.
The Rot Is Deep
It's All So Casual Now
Sunday, September 17, 2017 9:03 pm
So, on Netflix, I'm watching The Blacklist, that show starring James Spader. Generally it's just cool and outrageous. Like most modern TV, though, it can't merely deliver its clever plot but must also deliver an Approved Point of View.

It is particularly annoying when Reddington, an amoral killer, goes on some dogmatic rant about, oh, religious intolerance of sodomy. The writers, in their own real lives, hate (or at least must seem to hate) such intolerance, and so they can't help but depict their "hero" as doing the same — even if it makes him, at least briefly, a mouthpiece instead of a person.

Sadly, though, I experienced a more dispiriting moment in the show. Dogmatic rants at least indicate the writers are aware that they are taking positions. What happens when the rot is utterly unconscious? 

In one episode, children who are retarded and mentally afflicted are being given, by their parents, to a loony witch-like woman. The parents are essentially disposing of their children. A member of the FBI task force, speaking of Ethan (one of the children) and his mother Jeanne (who disposed of him), says:
Ethan apparently requires around-the-clock care, medical therapy, speech and language therapy. In fact Jeanne quit her job to be Ethan's full-time caregiver.
Notice the feminist worldview. Ethan required so much care that Jeanne had to quit her job. And for what? To become Ethan's "full-time caregiver."

Or as we used to say: his "mother."

The writers find it obviously tragic that Jeanne had to prioritize being a mother over being a wage slave. A woman is defined by having a job, after all; and caregiving is just an assignable task. There was no rant; no speech. Just a remark — almost casual — by a character explaining the situation.

Indeed, the rot has settled in.

It Doesn't Give You Cooties
Use the Proper Pronouns
Friday, March 10, 2017 3:58 pm
I enjoy Jim Gaffigan, the comedian. Yes, once you've watched his specials repeatedly, you see the patterns in his subject matter. But I enjoy him a lot.

During one bit he says this as a prelude to the main joke:
A woman can grow a baby inside their body. And then somehow a woman can deliver a baby through their body. And then by some miracle a woman can feed a baby with their body.
"Their"? I know he is speaking as we have all been forced to speak. But even when the sex of the person in question is quite known and unavoidable, he can not say "her." Again, this is commonplace these days. But what is really sad is that no part of him cringes; no part of him recognizes the hideous solecism.

You can argue that language changes. So, yes, the loss of the generic "he" is leading to a loss, too, of sex-specificity in pronouns, at least for abstract males and females. So language happens. Language is what people speak. But it is truly a loss when a "woman" is no longer a "she" but is just another "they."

Anyhow, resist this nonsense. If you can't bring yourself to use the generic "he" when the sex is unspecified (and if you can't, you're silly), at least use the sex-specific pronoun that is appropriate to a subject that is clearly male or female.
The Goblin Emperor
Hugo Awards 2015 - Novel by Katherine Addison
Friday, May 29, 2015 6:59 pm
I am a voter for the 2015 Hugo Awards. I am posting my thoughts about the candidate works. Be warned that spoilers abound.

Maia, the half-goblin and youngest son of the Emperor of the Elflands, banished with his mother from the court, inherits the crown when the Emperor and all other his other sons are killed in an airship accident (which was, in fact, no accident). Maia is not at all prepared and has to find his place.

To begin with, this novel passed one of my standard tests: I never cringed at the dialogue. Sometimes I cringed at what was being said, but never the way it was being said. None of it was cloying or cute. Indeed, none of the writing made me cringe. That may seem like faint praise, but it's not. Addison's style is controlled and effective. She revealed things in a sound order, with a sound pacing. Things followed one another well and I wanted to keep reading. Her fantasy world did not dazzle me and seems a bit conventional (even to me, who doesn't read much fantasy), but it worked. 

At one point, Maia receives a letter from Mer Celehar, who is investigating the sabotage that killed the previous Emperor. The letter is long and describes everything Celehar has been up to. Momentarily I thought: "This stuff is good. Addison should have narrated this action as a sub-story instead of having it relayed in a messenger speech." But immediately I realized two things. First, the action was engaging enough, even if presented at a remove. Second, any sub-story — that is, a chapter from Celehar's point of view — would have been contrary to the novel's approach. Everything is from Maia's point of view. Maia is in every scene. This is a book about Maia as Emperor, not about court intrigue and the like. The intrigue is there, of course, but only as something around Maia. In the end, Addison's disciplined maintenance of one point of view keeps you properly bound to Maia's travails.

Early on there are some conventional hints of steampunk (most notably: transport via airship). I appreciate such things, not least because I favor tech even in my fantasy. And while this is not a steampunk novel by any means, the clockwork steam-tech is actually relevant. The Clocksmiths' Guild figures in both the sabotage that starts the tale and the building of a wonderful mechanical bridge. This bridge is an occasion of Maia's political assertion and, in the end, symbolic of Maia's nature as an Emperor. It is pleasing that the tech is not just decoration.

This being a novel published in 2014, I was braced (as ever) for social nonsense.

Celehar has been disgraced for having a male lover who was also a murderer. A nobleman is afraid of having a young man interviewed in wake of an assassination attempt because, of course, he is lusting after that young man. One of Maia's goblin half-sisters became a pirate captain and has a "wife." This final tidbit is more like signaling from Addison than agitprop, but the implication is that a woman naturally might have a "wife." These things are tolerable, however, not least because no character says: "Golly, there's nothing wrong with loving a man, Celehar!" And indeed, the characters, at least, tend to accept that such loves are "unnatural." So the homosexual messaging was mild.

On the other hand, the feminist messaging kneecaps the novel. And I mean kneecaps it. Despite some misgivings, I was really enjoying things — and then in Chapter 34 (of 35), we get the full-on "Hear Me Roar" denouement. Now, the things presented are not non sequiturs. Addison is actually a careful writer, and I'm generally impressed with the way everything was neatly plotted, not least the intrigue. Nothing in Chapter 34 comes out of the blue. However, it was all better left unsaid.

Except — I realized sadly as I read on — Chapter 34 was Addison's point. She could no more leave it unsaid than simply stop writing.

Take, as an example, Maia's elven half-sister Vedero. Earlier she had been promised as wife to a son of a prominent family. There had been no formal contract, however. And as it turns out, she does not wish to be married. Maia asks her what she would do, were she not given in marriage. And she replies that she would "study the stars."

Yes, fine, there are girls who would rather be scholars than wives. It's a character touch, it explains her refusal, it's a nod to the conventions of this girls-can-do-anything era of ours. But in Chapter 34, Maia joins Vedero at the telescope. Vedero is, of course, wearing trousers. She goes on about the wondrous telescope — which was designed by a woman. Then she goes on about her colleagues, of whom one is translating works of poetry, another is writing a treatise, another has started a magic school for girls... Yea, all sorts of women disdaining marriage and motherhood! "Women," as Vedero says, her shoulders "stiffly defensive," "can and should do the same intellectual work as men."

Thus, what was a tolerable character touch becomes jarring propaganda. STEM for the elven lasses!

You realize that many noblewomen in the book have been acting, in one way or another, against their duties — chafing, bristling, brooding. Again, Chapter 34 is not out of the blue; it is, in retrospect, inevitable. Earlier, Maia's Empress-to-be said that she preferred to be allowed to choose her duties. What a colossal misunderstanding of duties! We do not choose our duties. What we are imposes duties. Some things we can choose to be: a scholar; a wife. Some things we can not choose to be: a woman; a daughter. But in either case, the duties are never chosen. They simply must be fulfilled. And yes, sometimes a prior duty prevents us from choosing to be, say, a scholar instead of a wife.

The very worst feminist moment comes in the excuses made for Shevean. She is mother of the other surviving heir to the throne, Maia's younger nephew Idra. Shevean participated in a failed coup against Maia. And Idra says of her:
She is very fierce. [...] She would not be what she is if she ever had something given her that was a burden equal to her strength. One hears people say it all the time — 'she should have been a son to her father' — but it is true. If she had been a son, she would have had a duty that went beyond children.
Idra does elaborate by describing Shevean's simple rage against Maia, who, like everyone it seems, would not conform to her wishes; but the fundamental blame belongs, of course, to patriarchy.

In fairness, Chapter 34 is not only feminist claptrap. Essentially it is the crystallization of Maia as Emperor. The specifically feminist stuff is there because Maia is the Emperor who builds the bridges. After all, Maia is the one who, among so much else, allowed a woman to be one of his bodyguards. Why, this is a Goblin Emperor that even a 21st-century American feminist can support!

Not least because Maia is essentially a woman.

When I started the novel, his name threw me. "Maia" is a woman's name. Oh, wait, no, the pronouns indicate "Maia" is a he. Well. Okay. Fantasy novel; goblin language; I don't know. Fine. Maia is a he. And you have to keep reminding yourself that he is. It's as if Addison is trolling you, giving him a girl's name and daring you not to notice his essential girlishness.

I don't mean in his emotions, as such. I think Addison does a good job depicting Maia's pain and difficulties. He is quite credible as an abused, neglected, overwhelmed, and sad young person. However, he is not credible as an exemplar of anything male.

This is most evident in the way that all his struggles are resolved in the infamous Chapter 34. Basically, he makes friends with all those who have not attempted to overthrow or assassinate him. With so many of the people who had distrusted or troubled him, he achieves a kind of rapport.
Idra, Csethiro, Nedao, Vedero: instead of bulwarks, he began to feel he had alliances, that his life — for perhaps the first time since his mother died — was not merely a matter of surviving from one hostile encounter to the next.
Now, Maia is not utterly naive, nor is the book. As he says to his bodyguards:
I believe that the Adremaza meant his advice for the best, but he was cruelly wrong. I do not ask, or expect, you to be friends with me as you are friends with other mazei, or other soldiers in the Untheileneise Guard. But it... it's silly to deny that we hold each other in affection.
And when the bodyguards affirm their affection for him, Maia says: "Then we will be a different sort of friends."

None of this is handled shabbily. It is affecting. But as a culmination it is so feminine. The word "alliances" is used but what we actually have here is an end to Maia's emotional isolation. This is what terminates his imperial worries. His reign will be good because he has friends. He has gained no insights or skills regarding the flourishing of his realm; but gosh and golly, people really like him. They do!

Honestly. What a girl.

For a while I was excited by The Goblin Emperor. Here is a book I'd never heard of, that did not involve space fleets or cybernetics, that I began reading just to judge it for an award; yet, over a weekend, I kept returning to it gladly, in between this or that. Then the sour bits accumulated. Then Chapter 34 hit.

Is it a well-written book? Yes. Is it worth reading? Yes. Does it deserve to be on the Hugo shortlist? Sure. Do I regret reading it? Not really.

I don't know anything about Addison. I am not judging the book based on her race, sex, or whom she voted for in 2012. I do not deny the simple quality of this book because of its feminist message. It is not merely message fiction; there is a good story here. But in the end, the message is never irrelevant to the evaluation of a book. I would never award first place to a novel with the shopworn attitude of The Goblin Emperor.

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