Pontifications and Ruminations: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Forgive me if I’m a teensy bit punch drunk and scattered today. It’s been that kind of week.

Anyway, I was checking links for interesting things to rant about and came across a lovely sample of the mindbogglingly stupid, chronicled by Nathaniel Hoover. I have no particular fondness for My Little Pony or the brony culture, but if that’s what floats someone’s boat, who am I to say there’s anything wrong with it. I can guarantee some of my little… ahem… quirks would freak a few folks out.

I can say after reading his description of the deranged idjits that the Evil League of Evil really needs to issue its members and minions with the Cutie Mark of the Beast. The frothing madness such a mark would inspire would be totally worth any misunderstandings.

That’s the good.

Then someone pointed me to lovely example of pontification without knowledge. To be fair, the guy does list himself as “a geek among tree-huggers” and in my experience anyone who is that deep into Green anything has an instant shutdown mechanism for anything that might challenge their political dogma. Which of course means his little letter to conservative science fiction is so much fertilizer. If you don’t mind it killing your plants in the process of forcing them to put out lots and lots of green leaves before they keel over from lack of substance.

He describes himself as a “fascinated and appalled rubbernecker” but it’s pretty bloody obvious that nothing so-called “conservative science fiction” can do would satisfy his call for good behavior. Those “racists” “conservative science fiction” is supposedly sheltering in its ranks (wait, we have ranks? That’s news to me. I thought all non-mainstream science fiction people were equally uber-evil and beyond ranking) include a positive rainbow of diversity beside the folk he wants to protect from us. Let’s see… he takes the inevitable swipe at Vox Day (I think it’s become an initiation thing. You’re not allowed near the mainstream SF establishment until you’ve posted some long diatribe about how evil he is. Actually reading the source material isn’t so much unnecessary as actively discouraged), who is politely described as multi-ethnic (and impolitely as “mongrel”), a bit of a sideswipe at Larry Correia (who apparently ceases to be Hispanic because he doesn’t toe the line), and then characterizes the whole mess as “the racist right”

Apparently he approves of Jemisin’s speeches (the ones I commented about last week) because those – and the attitudes revealed by her Australian speech – were what led Vox Day to make the comment that sparked the SFWA purge. A comment, I might add, that – while not exactly the most polite thing to say – was aimed purely at her attitude and behavior. One can be a savage – or “half-savage” – and still be a decent person. Just one who is not willing to live by the mores of Western culture (speaking of which, there is a reason why that particular culture is the one dominating the world, and that’s a really long, world-building-y post in itself). Hell, I’ve been known to describe myself as crude and crass, neither of which are particularly polite. Am I going to chuck a fit if someone agrees with me? Not frigging likely.

So that one’s the bad.

Now, the ugly. I honestly don’t know what to say to this. I’m not a fan of Marion Zimmer Bradley, nor do I have any reason to dislike her. None of her works ever really caught me, so I can’t speak on that front. I can say that at least one of Zimmer Bradley’s proteges gives me a severe case of the creeps, but that’s not – and cannot – be a condemnation of the women herself. I’ll leave it to you folks to read the assorted other links here – including ones which include transcripts from the relevant court cases – and make up your own minds. I’ve got my opinion, and I’m not saying more without more evidence, since this is a criminal matter even though she’s dead.

And finally, a little light relief. I may even use some of these (suitably adjusted) for comic relief somewhere sometime. Who knows?

72 Comments

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72 responses to “Pontifications and Ruminations: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

  1. keranih

    >>>cutie mark of the beast

    The inability of WP to allow me to put images in the comments makes me sad.

  2. Rook

    Hmmm. Quote #10 in that last link gives far too much information into the entertainment habits of English youth.

    • Kate Paulk

      I see I’m not the only one to wonder if that item was from experience.

      • And consider the cumulative effect of that sort of prose. It could explain so many things. The blank minded stares of the unemployable English majors who accepted a job grading papers to make ends meet . . . The warped minds of full professors, overexposed to the fruit of the system they’ve become cogs in . . . The fetal possessions assumed every night by the associate professors who have to teach the actual classes . . .

        • Kate Paulk

          Er. Pam? Please don’t do things like “fetal possessions” instead of “fetal positions”? You really, *really* do not want to know what my mind did to that phrase.

  3. Oh geez– I am having some problems with MZB’s work now. I had no idea– and very ugly if true.

    • I was never a big fan, but I liked several of her novels, mostly earlier ones though (never managed to read the best known, ‘Mists of Avalon’, through, but she used to write good enough adventure before she started to venture into the goat-gagger territory).

      Knowing that does diminish the enjoyment I once got from them, or from something like the ‘Sword and Sorceress’ collections which I used to buy.

      I guess I’m now glad I wasn’t a big fan.

      • I liked her earlier works too– Mists of Avalon??? really really hard to read imho and I am a reader

      • Luke

        If you’re fond of the source material, you probably won’t like “Mists of Avalon”.
        At least that was my experience. I objected to the timeless mythic themes being subverted for cheap feminist point-scoring.

        As to the rest, I always found her writing a bit “off” in creepy way. So I can’t say I’m too surprised. (Kind of like I’ve always been a bit frightened to Google Piers Anthony. I don’t want to know what I might find.)

        • Piers Anthony is still alive. I talked to him a few years ago because I have Wegener’s Granulomatosis and his father in law died of it. No, I find him rather nice. lol Although I didn’t like some of his gender bender stuff. Also a friend of mine used to write to him about his Xanth stuff. She would provide a lot of “puns” and complain about some of his characters. So I don’t know if there is anything creepy in his past, but he has been nice to me.

    • Docargent

      My first pro sale was to one of her DAW anthologies. I was not a big fan of her work, but when she attended a DeepSouthCon at Huntsville, AL thirty years ago, My boss asked to take her to lunch after an autograph session at the bookstore where I worked at the time. She probably forgot me 10 minutes after she left the room. I don’t remember what we talked about, though she talked a lot. The only thing I found odd a the time was the cabbage patch doll she was carrying. Thinking of that doll now gives me a chill.

    • Kate Paulk

      At this point I simply do not know, and don’t have the time to chase the internet for more information.

  4. Mark Alger

    [johnnycarson]I did not know that[/johnnycarson]

    No further comment, just to express surprise.

    M

  5. BTW, these marks of the Beast – I have my mother’s Lotta Svärd brooch. Blue swastika, with four heraldic roses. I suppose that would qualify? As my personal one… After all, it does have a swastika… 🙂

    (The English language Wikipedia article about the organization seems to be accurate enough: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lotta_Sv%C3%A4rd )

    • Docargent

      I’ve spent all but two years of my life in what used to be the Confederacy. I don’t carry the stars and bars for a variety of reasons. The antebellum South was little more than a police state by 1860.

      • Luke

        That seems a bit of a non-sequitur to the (Finnish, post WWI) comment it’s responding to.
        Can we get some clarification?

        (I’d also argue that the classification you made is mistaken. There was a large feudal component to the civil society of the Confederacy. Which could certainly be oppressive. But a police state requires more than that, Including, but not limited to, centralized authority, a secret police apparatus with effectively no limits on jurisdiction or tactics, and a nearly complete suspension of habeus corpus.)

        • Docargent

          As far as my comment being a non-sequitur, I’ve reread both comments more carefully and I agree with you. I misunderstood what Pohjalainen said, and can only plead reading too fast. I apologize, Pohjalainen

          As for for my characterization of the antebellum South, I do not have a reference to hand. However, by 1859 the planters had established laws strictly censoring speech, the press, and even the mail. Any further details will have to wait till I can check my library.

    • Oh my… wish someone would write a GOOD history book with interesting stuff like that.

      The emblem is beautiful, but still creepy. Be a great way to explore induced aversion.

      • The idea of a symbol becoming permanently tainted if some evil group happens to take it for their use has always irritated me. It feels like giving something up to them – you used it so now you own it. When you do that they win to at least some extent, don’t they?

        So I’d rather try to take it back, clean it of the association until nobody remembers that it used to be theirs. Maybe banning a symbol might be okay in those cases where it was something unique to the bad guys, but something like the swastika which has been used by lots of people who had nothing whatsoever to do with the Nazis or their ideas before the Nazis took it, and still is used at least in the East… I think I’d rather have a situation where everybody keeps asking the aspiring neo-Nazi if he is a Buddhist or has Hopi or Navajo blood or something when he uses a swastika than what we have now.

        • And yes, that thinking probably does stem from the fact that I have always associated that Lotta Svärd symbol pretty strongly with my mother. She never wore it, nobody did since the organization had been banned after the war, but I found the brooch early on and she told me what it was.

        • FWIW, the example that comes to mind for me is the way I don’t usually buy Pepsi anymore, because I associate it on an emotional level with dead babies. They contracted with a company that uses artificial tongues grown from aborted kids to taste-test stuff until the blow back made them realize “uh… bad idea.”
          (No work was actually done, but the association is there.)

          • For what it’s worth, I looked into that (because it sounded like something really horriffic). The snopes entry (http://www.snopes.com/politics/medical/pepsi.asp) seems pretty clear that it was a cell culture from kidney cells from a single aborted fetus – collected in 1972 in the Netherlands. My feelings on abortion are pretty strong, but I’m not sure how boycotting Pepsi today would impact either this one long-dead child, the memory of that child, or women considering an abortion today. (Other people may disagree, and this is as far as I’m going down that line of debate.)

            • “Drink Pepsi, tested with the corpse of a dead baby!”

              Yeah, not a good ad campaign.

              As I pointed out, it’s an emotional response to the association, not a moral one; they didn’t even purchase those services from the company and cut connections when it became clear folks objected. IIRC, it wasn’t even for Pepsi, it was for new products.

              Going deeper in the rabbit hole…. If there was a strong enough moral cause, using the corpse of a murdered child would be acceptable, morally speaking.
              “The soda tastes better!” doesn’t rise to that level.

              Gads, now I’ve got that LFG undead necromancer in my head, defending himself with “but it was only one!”

              *************
              Incidentally, please do remember that Snopes– for all its many virtues– is written by a mid-range California couple. Some of their blind spots you can drive a simi through. (Such as the still-not-corrected-a-few-years-after “debunking” of the hotel sign that had some political message on it. The guy who put the sign up was rather amused to find out it was a myth when he got interviewed, IIRC.)

              • I won’t argue the emotional response (many other things to do with my time. 🙂 )

                “The soda tastes better!” doesn’t rise to that level.

                True dat. I…yeah. You’re right.

                Some of their blind spots you can drive a [semi] through.

                Oh, I’d seen that. And not even let air out of the tires. There are articles I won’t link to. But largely they’re pretty decent.

          • Wait, WHAT?

            That sounds like a Corman horror flick. > >

            • That’s exactly why I just can’t get in the mood for the flavor anymore.

              Horrible CGI mental image of tiny little tongues wiggling in an Inexplicably Clear Vat.

              Give it the kind of treatment that animal testing of cosmetics get and the company would be destroyed. (Note: NOT a suggestion, that stuff is lying and drawing on folks’ good nature.)

    • My grandmother had pre-WWII Navajo turquoise jewelry with the swastika. She got rid of them when war broke out. Her descendants, of course, applaud her strength of mind.

      • I’ve still got a coin silver Navajo bracelet from the 1920s with the non-NSDAP version. I don’t wear it, but I use it in class on occasion to show what the pre-1933 design looked like and explain where it might turn up.

  6. Luke

    Aw, the poor dear evidently shut down comments about 5 minutes after posting his screed.

    So Sci-Fi badly needs a meeting of the minds, but if you disagree with him, you’re a bigot who deserves to be ostracized, and he won’t provide you a forum for your hateful beliefs.

    • Kate Paulk

      Awww, poor ickle diddums. It must be so difficult when everything you see around you is bigoted and hateful (because reality never did conform to their pretty little dreams)

    • I noticed that, too. Also, that the “mean and nasty” and “misguided” commenters are all ours. Mostly I feel pity. This is not the kind of fight to wade into unshriven. His “why can’t we get along” would have gone over a lot better if it hadn’t been paired with a knee-jerk “I’m not calling you racist, but I am saying you aren’t particular about the company you keep.” Snide, much?

      • That ‘dirty, shun them’ reaction is double irritating because it doesn’t even achieve what they claim they want to achieve, eliminating the undesired thinking. It may work when they are dealing with single individuals or small groups imbedded in their own, then shunning can either change their minds or at least make them keep quiet about those parts of their thinking the people around them don’t want.

        But when it’s big parts of the society, they may, in the end, achieve the exact opposite. When people feel that they are being ridiculed, shunned and ignored they tend to seek out those who listen, or at least pretend to listen, and there are always groups more than willing to exploit that, some good, some bad, some in between. And when that situation involves politics, well, the ‘others’ do still vote…

        They are not eliminating ‘badthought’, just creating enemies of people who once were mostly neutral or maybe even sort of on their side.

        And that could be good, on the whole, but there is always the risk it could also lead to something quite bad. At least in some parts of Europe, with things like bad economy and the increasing suspicions towards our immigrants, illegal and otherwise, we have here well, there are populist parties which really seem to be rather undesirable, no matter from what point of view you look at them, ones which are wholly statist but trying to get on the top by promising things nobody else does right now (some. There are also ones which mostly just seem to have undeserved bad rep. And finding out which are which can require some digging). And they are getting votes and supporters because there are lots of people who feel nobody else listens.

  7. “… wait, we have ranks? That’s news to me. ”

    Of course we have ranks. And you’re all stepping on my toes, so move back before I deploy the tiny dog of evil.

  8. robfornow

    Here in Oklahoma, especially Osage and Washington Counties the swastika is on many items, driveways to Indian Ranches, bridges, etc. I only had one person ask me about it, so I sent him a copy of the library’s symbol dictionary page with it and the history of the symbol, including if the arms are clockwise, it’s good fortune, if counterclockwise, bad fortune in connotation.
    In regard to the snowflake, I noticed that when he closed comments, he still condemned Vox Day (After a lengthy explanation of the comments by one of ours and defended N.K. Jamison even though he didn’t know anything about her.

    • People wandering around Japan are often surprised to run into the swastika in places like Shinto temples and the Star of David in other circumstances (I know I’ve seen it on manhole covers, for example). In neither case does the visual symbol have the same associations.

      • Robin Munn

        I’ve seen it in a Buddhist context in Thailand, as well. In the clockwise configuration, naturally, since its use was intended as a good-luck charm in the context where I saw it. (It was in a pottery store where you could buy various pottery and ceramic decorations; some were cute animals, some had Hindu/Buddhist religious symbolism. There was a pretty good carving of the Hindu god Ganesha, for example.)