The Guinea Pigs

Perhaps it makes perfect sense for the science fiction genre — literature and movie, and all its glorious expanse — which achieved prominence in the 20th century to have become in a way, sideways, in small sphere the guinea pig of societal trends to come.

I’m only half in jest and all in seriousness, mind you.

This isn’t some half baked idea, like pretending to see the universe in a droplet of water or the conflagration of a match. (Both of which things I was convinced were perfectly valid, due to having learned them in science fiction books, which by the time I got my hot little — emphasis on little — hands on them were over fifty years old.)

It’s rather the fact that because the twentieth century was riven by two primary and — if we have a future as a species, I’m sure to our descendants — insane ideas: the idea that “science” — by which one must understand the knowledge at that time, not the process by which knowledge is acquired, with its heresies and toppling of accepted theory — could explain and ordain everything; and the idea that “great men” in charge would leads to glory by use of that “science.”

It was all a sham. Most of the cherished ideas pushed down the gullet of our unsuspecting selves, half a century ago, less than 25 years after two long wars — whose sides had been led by “the best men” according to “scientific” ideas, such as “eugenics” (spits) — had turned much of European youth into mulch, were well, mulch. Or if you prefer fertilizer, but that is an insult to fertilizer, because in fact fertilizer has a use, while oh, Paul Ehrlich (may he never be sufficiently damned) and his insane Population Bomb theories, enriched himself while perhaps dooming the species or at least civilization.

And if you answered that comment with “Perhaps humans are better off extinct” I want you to go to the nearest mirror, stare yourself in the eyes and tell yourself to have the courage of your convictions. Either all humans are useless and a “plague on the Earth” or there is value in them. If all humans are “a plague on the Earth” then you too, my dear, are part of it, and I invite you to carry through with the obvious. And no, I don’t mean by not reproducing. (What? Enabling your selfishness by never admitting someone should come after you, much less sacrificing yourself for others should be regarded as a virtue? By whom???? Not by us, deary. We see you as you are, craven and cowardly and infinitely selfish, trying to attire yourself in the rags of virtue.) If all humans are despicable, you are too. Why are you still alive while believing humans are a plague?

And if you don’t believe humans are a plague, why are you running around flapping lips and emitting adolescent glossalia you expect to pass off as word from on high? No one, except perhaps the very young and very dumb, is fooled.

Anyway, of course “the humans are a plague upon the Earth” and “the humans are the worst of all creatures in the universe, bar none” was part of my growing up in science fiction. And sure, a young and terminally “intellectual” Sarah (an epithet that is the contrary of the denoted, since it signifies an adherence to trendy opinions) spouted all that nonsense. Well, you know, i try to be charitable to my young self. It was the seventies in Europe. The nail that stood out would get ridiculed out of the educational system, and all my teachers and professors were dumbass enough, or conformist enough to pretend that such eructations as “humans are a plague upon the earth” were deep thought.

But that having been pioneered in science fiction was no surprise. Go back far enough, and you find the science fiction of the twenties and thirties praying to the twin “scientific” gods of socialism (a scientific form of government, after all, in which “the best men” chose the way to allocate resources so everyone had enough and no one went without.) and “eugenics” sometimes in those quaint days referred to as “racial hygiene” because you see, racial genetics were also “resources” that must be husbanded and distributed, less the world sink under a morass of the unfit and “unevolved.” (Ask Margaret Sanger about it, when they get telephone lines to hell.)

And then there was “the Earth is going to freeze to death” — I’m packing my library and hoping that I didn’t throw away the anthology (very convincing) I bought at the end of the 80s in which author after author talked about the Earth freezing due to… well, excess freedom, and “consumerism” and “free market.”

Because those d*mn dirty apes just don’t know how to live, and won’t listen to their betters! The Earth has a chill, and the cure is socialism, population control and the “best” people in charge.

Of course, five years later, there were anthologies about how the Earth had a fever and the cure was socialism.

Now, was all of science fiction that crazy? Um… no. That was the science fiction that got translated, pushed, and discussed as great and brilliant ideas.

Sure, some of the crazy (and almost all social science and soft science and could-be-fudged science of the 20th century was pants on head, run around making chicken noises insane) ideas made into even the sanest of science fiction. Heinlein, for instance, feared overpopulation. (Or at least paid it lip service.) And Clifford Simak, marred his achingly beautiful visions of the future with crazy-cakes beliefs in a future in which “the right people in charge” would fix everything, in a controlled and orchestrated world. (It is almost impossible for people today, who aren’t completely indoctrinated to realize to what level the “common sense” of fifty years ago was insane “socialist-like” pap.)

But Heinlein could never buy into “humanity is a plague.” His humans build, expand, survive, and do better, despite whatever of the insanity of the day infected his stories. And a lot of other writers of the time exhibited an almost dual personality, like the young Sarah who mouthed ‘humans are a plague’ while in her rock-sane back brain hankering to have at least 11 kids. (It didn’t work that way. For reasons beyond my control. But I tried, at least.)

Science fiction flourished and stayed alive to the extent that the people writing/being distributed were the people who told stories humans wanted to read. And those were largely stories of humans winning. (What my young fans call Humans effe yah!

Because while nihilism gives the frustrated and lost a passing sense of superiority, it is not a life-sustaining philosophy. You either believe it is all nothing and worth nothing, or you believe that as awful as life, the world and humans can be, you can make however small a contribution to make it better. And if it’s the first, what are you still doing here, and not departing this vale of grey goo already? Need help packing, perhaps? Don’t worry, if it’s nothing and means nothing, you’ll need nothing along with you.

In defense of the crazier authors of the 20th century, many of them believed passionately in socialism and government control. It was crazy and stupid, but they held in their brains, at the same time, the bizarre idea that humans were terrible creatures who must be controlled by superior humans, and that somehow socialism would end their suffering and make them shining beings of light. They never dug deep into the psychological implications of that contradiction, and we’re not going to either. (Dr. Fraud is dead, and I don’t feel so good myself. I hear that Neo-Freudianism is very useful, but I view it rather as neo-Marxism. I don’t care how pretty that new structure looks, it’s foundations are rotten and sitting on a mass grave. Back it up, and do it anew.)

And then– Well, then the Soviet Union fell. The Soviet Union, by the way, was the sham of shams of the 20th century. You might not know this if you are old enough that your mentally damaged parents, or even mentally depraved professors were too old to change their opinions when the whole rotten empire collapsed. They had devoted their lives to advancing socialism (oh, and by the way, socialism was always the polite name for communism, since in the end, in the perfect state of communism, the state would wither away automagically and we would be like gods knowing good from evil…. Er…. I mean, for those who have yet to realize the underpinnings of Christian heresy, we would be the perfect homus-sovieticus who lived (but really, mostly would end up dying) for “from each according to his abilities/to each according to his need.”) and they by gum were not about to admit they were wrong. After all, most of what their pose as communists (as for the communists of today) had done for them was a sense of unearned superiority and the certainty they would end up as rulers (instead of dead in the unmarked grave, ahead even of the reactionaries they despised but who were, after all, useful for doing things.)

So the poor lost bah lambs went around bleating that “the good guys had lost” and never taught the young ones the horrors of the ideology which always, always, always ends up in mass graves and massacres and somehow has failed to produce a single case of “real communism” (medieval monks came closer. Having the advantage of faith in eternal life and, oh, yeah, small numbers and volunteer(ish) adoption.) And the young kids have no idea. Which is why it’s inappropriate to shoot in the face anyone wearing a Che or Mao t-shirt, but not inappropriate to ask them why they are wearing pictures of mass murderers, and proceed to instruct them on history. (With words, people, with words. Yes, the poor children (some of them forty) will cry about micro and pico aggressions, but really this is not their fault. It is their parents or teachers, or whoever filled their heads with the rankest evil shit ever produced who deserves to be walked naked through town, tied to the tail of a donkey, while being whipped till the blood runs freely. Of course, some of them will be dead, the cowards.)

Though in deep denial, they knew. They knew their god had toppled and failed. And that all the king’s horses and all the king’s (or even the general secretary’s) men couldn’t put faith in Karl Marx together again.

So they spiffied up Marx, that old English nationalist (look it up and weep) and economic ignoramus (in all his brilliant ideas — most swiped from others, of course — he forgot distribution, something that was plainly obvious to poor little me at thirteen when I had to learn his rank bullshit in three of my courses. Economist my sore ass. He was a gifted polemicist, but his ability at economics started and ended with his ability to grift off his rich friends.)

Gramsci, who is probably playing “hide the pineapple” with Sanger in hell, (we’ll have to wait for the telephone line to know for sure) came up with a rescue of the theory earlier in the twentieth century, when it became obvious that in fact the free market was making more working people unimaginably rich than Marxism could even pretend to. (BTW if you want a comparison of the two systems, you could do worse than visiting the Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, KS. They detail the space program side by side, and I have no reason to believe that other programs run by the USA and the USSR were much different. The USSR could achieve the same — and sometimes, briefly — higher results, not by superior science, or ability or allocation of resources, but by complete disregard for human life, for individuals, or, in fact for science. They did things as much as possible on the cheap, and if they lost ten missions, great. They’d publicize the one that succeeded. Like all “big government” socialism in the USSR was a tissue of lies, evil and insanity.)

So Gramsci came up with a correction. You see, when Marx, clearly and obvious spoke of the working class, he actually meant the “exploited.” The people in the third world. In Marxism (don’t believe me? Have a kid in school? Check his geography book) the only reason countries are poorer is not the fact that they are socialist kakistocracies, or still mired in tribalism, or have cultures that are kin to that which you can find in swamp water under a microscope. No, because economics is a fixed pie, the only reason that some humans are poor than others is that they were stolen from. And the rich ones stole from them.

This makes perfect sense, because all we have and all we do is because cavemen stole rocks from each other (nods sagely.) Oh, it’s dressed up might purty with the idea that developed nations took the “natural resources” of poorer ones.

This not only makes absolutely no sense, because nations go up and down in wealth rather randomly. But also because to this day, in natural resources, Brazil could buy and sell the US any day. Which is to the way their populations life, nothing.

But this bullshit has infected the intellectuals in the first world.

You see, there is a glut in intellectuals and their production. The one thing the end of WWII did, by creating engineers and people with useful skills, was convince — seemingly everyone in the world, since the future comes from America — that what was needed for truly “enlightened” and “scientific” governance was a college degree.

Except that not only are most people not suited for rigorous scholarship, even fewer people are suited for useful degrees. This, btw, doesn’t mean they are stupid or can’t run their own lives, only that there is a limit to what can be studied or taught in schools, and most of what is being taught should be shoveled off the back of a truck. (Seriously check your kids’ school books. After you’re done exploding, feel free to ask the teachers what the heck this all means.They will stare blankly because teacher education is one of those things that should never be entrusted to colleges. It has devolved to political indoctrination and procedurism.)

But we were talking about science fiction.

I’m not sure, and it’s late at night and I’m lazy, when the invasion of the “somewhat akin to scientists” in science fiction begun. I’d imagine the late fifties.

These were people who, unlike the early writers (yes, even Simak. He worked when journalists could tell a fact at least one time out of three, or after it bit them in the ass), were “intellectuals” which is to say overeducated, completely indoctrinated people with a sense of unearned superiority.

I know by the seventies, at least in the bilge translated into Portuguese (which was, of course — and still is — the stuff that “wins awards” (except for mega bestsellers like Heinlein) ) American Sf/f writers were writing defeatist nonsense, in which all military men were evil, scientists and older people were all corrupt, colonies all died because of someone’s repressed lust for someone’s wife’s ass. Oh, and the US was corrupt, the USSR invincible, and oh, yeah the humans were a plaaaaaaague upon the Earth.

I do know it got much worse by the eighties and nineties. Because– well, because it turns out at the back of their brains most people eschew defeatist, nihilist crap. They’ll put up with Star Trek saying there is no money in the future (I guess credits aren’t money) or whatever insanity, as long as the stories are decent and not telling them (not to subtly) that they’re a plaaaaaague.

Defeatism and insanity don’t sell. Which means that publishers, sometime in the last twenty years, having completely lost their minds, would capitalize on whatever they could, including sickly vampire romances, while pushing the “worthy” fiction, which somehow has become a matter of numbers (do you have enough trans characters, comrade? Don’t look at me. I tend to have them without trying. And kindly keep your opinions to yourself. As I said, Dr. Fraud is dead, and I don’t feel so good myself. But rest assured not being Marxist all my characters are inherently straight males (possibly Mormon, who knows? They do not, however, all have great racks.))

Fifteen years ago, science fiction (and mostly fantasy, because the other side of the invasion of people who have degrees in nothing much — from English to Underwater Gender Fluid Dance — in both writing and editing capacities is that science fiction lost to ground to fantasy, under the heading of “no one wants to read that anymore” which is publisher for “I don’t understand marketing or statistics, and I don’t understand science, either.”) was already in the grip of publishing “for show and to be complimented by my peers” even while print runs circled the drain and we had started referring to our date night, which often ended up in a bookstore, as “let’s go be disappointed by Barnes and Noble.” (Because a bibliophile in possession of spending money often had to retreat home with empty hands. Not to say I didn’t find/buy decent writers, but they seemed to be a disappearing breed.)

And eleven years ago, give or take, I saw the advent of indie, which is now — no matter what the happy nonsense you hear from the trads — eating traditional publisher cake and beating them up for the lunch money. (And science fiction does fine, btw, thank you so much.)

At the time I said “indie is not killing trad. Trad committed suicide.”

But I hadn’t yet realized fully the role of publishing — PARTICULARLY — science fiction publishing as guinea pigs for western civ.

I just couldn’t believe that the future of Western Civ would be science fiction’s interpretation of Gramsci (which is even more insane than their belief in, oh, Margaret Sanger or “climate science”) which required them to give awards and rewards not for excellence in story telling that people enjoyed, but for the color of the skin or other immutable attributes of the writer (which is sort of what Rex Stout said about seasoning trout: the garlic should be rubbed on the cook. Apparently they thought this was true, or a profound statement, or something.) This requirement has led to the field’s supposed heights (in everything but sales) being dominated by a diverse population of mostly white, well-off females, with the occasional guy in a fright wig or Asian well-off female, or even well-off white female with a perm and a bad fake tan to break the monotony. (They don’t care about sales. They’re in it for the jobs in academia, and the “consulting gigs” with various media companies. Who gets exactly what they deserve, in both cases.)

But now here we are, in 2021, with “scientism” by “the best men” having just exploded all over our faces (no? Really? Then why are you wearing that mask?) over the months of covidiocy, and with even China admitting everything we were told about population was a lie (oh, not openly. The Middle Kingdom would like to own the future, after all) and all of a sudden it is all about “equity.”

This is a system in which people who were never discriminated against get advanced ahead of people who never discriminated against them, to cleanse the invisible demons of “structural racism” that supposedly infect America and Great Britain uniquely. (We suggest anyone who believes that bullshit go live in a non-anglophone country amid the locals and listen, really listen to how they talk and what they say. I particularly and fervently enjoin them to go live in Cuba. Or, oh, yes, Arabic countries. Please, do. We’ll help you pack. And because we’re not utter bastards, we invite you to live the fight wig behind.)

Note in the current bullshit, there isn’t even a pretense of a veneer or a hint of thought about “competence” or “can do the job.” It’s all about that most ridiculous of attributes, which randomly passes to people or doesn’t: skin color. (Hell, it varies through life. If I’m indoors a lot and particularly if I’m sick, I am almost as pale as my husband. Almost.) That and other racial characteristics (though my features are — apparently with reason. Who knew? My ancestors were…. uh….. diverse — somewhat evocative of Africa — though in my nose Africa and the Middle East collided at speed — I have mom’s lank, straight hair. Which of course makes me totally white, and probably male too. No, wait, I just checked. Still female. Oh. You mean it’s how I feel not my anatomy? Well, mostly I feel like a disembodied mind. Shut up. No one is asking for rescue from Plato’s cave. I like it here. It’s cozy.) are now the be all end all way of deciding whether you’re “one of the best men/women/whateveryoufeelliketoday.)

Which is fine and dandy, because you know publishing, even science fiction publishing, was not a vital function of society, like …. oh, building bridges, designing cars, figuring out how to make houses that don’t fall or blow up spontaneously.

And in science fiction you can say “this is a bad book because it’s insufficiently Marxist” and other than the fact you’ll be lionizing a bunch of crap, you won’t affect anything much. (No one is willing to implement my tied-to-tail-of-donkey program. Yet.)

But when you say “we need more diverse mathematicians, because 2 + 2 = 4 is white supremacy.”

Well, we know what happened with science fiction, the guinea pigs. As publishing houses forgot their job was to sell books, and started viewing themselves as prophet kings who would usher in the perfect Homus Sovieticus or at least get the admiration of their equally mal-educated peers and be invited to the cocktail parties with all the good sausage-like objects, sales — their actual vital function — went in the crapper, and even dedicated readers had trouble finding something good to read.

Now that society is following the guinea pigs into the insanity of “diversity” (or theoretical diversity) is all that matters! As long as we are all still good Marxists…..

what do we do, when it’s hard to find cars that go, or houses that don’t leak, or clothes that don’t fall apart, or even food to eat?

Sure, okay, maybe that “plague upon the world” will manage to go extinct.

But take heed if you’ve been preening and taking comfort in unearned Marxist superiority. I wouldn’t bet at all against a moment, before the collapse, when you get tied naked to the tail of a donkey, and whipped till the blood runs freely.

And if there’s an ounce of honesty in you, you’ll know you deserved it, for selling out the future for invitations to parties with the good sausages.

84 comments

  1. So the whole ‘science is right and the best men will lead us’ is, imo, the big downfall of the whole ‘The ship that…” (Brainship series) by Anne McCaffery et al , at least to me. Its also the kind of thinking that makes me not want to read certain ‘classic’ series. (Asimov, I *AM* looking at YOU.)

    1. Let me guess, you’re thinking of Asimov’s Foundation series in particular, aren’t you? I found them an interesting read when I encountered them in my high school library way back when, but the “psychohistory” that is central conceit of most of those stories – especially the “classic” ones – is mostly rubbish.

      1. I like the Foundation books well enough.

        It’s the later books, where he turns R. Daneel evil, that I can’t stand.

          1. No. The first thee are interesting because of some of the ideas and characters, and how the Mule upends so much. [Hmmm. An individual can louse up a “perfect” system . . . ] After that? No. It’s like the short story that became “A Fall of Night.” Dang, the short was fantastic. The novel? Um . . .

              1. That’s it, thank you. The one about the system with the binary stars that only set once every few centuries, unleashing a terrible thing called . . . Night.

                1. I believe it was six stars (maybe five? been a while for me, too). Which I did not believe even then. Not quite as bad physics as gravity reversing polarity while leaving the air and water behind – but still proof that a decent biochemist and a lousy astrophysicist can coexist in the same brain.

                  (I think the “extended version” was primarily written to cash in on the post-apocalyptic binge of the mid/late 80s. “Childhood’s End” was 1987, others came out about then too. Really the start of MY “let’s see how B&N can disappoint me today.”)

                    1. Hrm. Teach me to just Bing and take the first page results…

                      I had a feeling about that, and should have checked more. Although that would about have been when I read it – possibly in the same reissue that came up top in the search.

                      I shall now retire to the derp corner. (Hi, aacid14!)

    2. Heh. I always struggled with the core concept of the Brainship series to the point I never got more than a chapter or so in. The whole “they stuck her in there as a small child” (if I recall right, but I could be wrong) so horrified me that I noped right out of it.

      1. My understanding was that her condition was so severe she wouldn’t have survived otherwise, and the shell was a complete life-support system — and I’d already read plenty of stories about cyborgs, etc, so it didn’t bother me as much.

        I was bothered far more by the idea of them being effective debt peons — when one’s creditor and one’s employer is the same entity, it’s a system ripe for abuses. Especially when the debts are contracted on one’s behalf when one is too small to agree to them. And there was no evidence Ms McCaffrey even considered that it could be a problem, when I as a high-school student could see the issues.

        1. The older I got, the more I noticed a LOT of things Anne McCaffrey wasn’t bothered by or didn’t question very deeply in her novels that bugged the heck out of me. (To the point that I can’t read most of her stuff anymore.) True, she was probably a product of her generation, and had gotten fed the same centralized planning/other stuff crap that Sarah mentioned in this post. Even so, once I was old enough to know better, a LOT of it makes me shudder.

          1. Learning about her terrible collision with a less-than-great minister explained a lot of stuff in the background of Pern. I really hope that individual didn’t drive too many other people away from faith.

              1. Her younger brother was a chorister in their parish (Boston somewhere?). And for whatever reason, they weren’t doing the thing that cathedral schools do, where the boys whose voices break are assigned to play organ and focus on instruments until they become tenors and basses. So her younger brother got dropped from the school as well as the choir.

                I think there was also something about abuse, but I don’t remember that for sure?

                Anyway, she then got sent to some kind of Episcopalian lady’s college, and stunningly enough she became Episcopalian. And then she met her husband, who apparently was not great. And then she ended up divorcing him and moving to Ireland with the kids.

                Some of her “contemporary romance” novels are apparently somewhat autobiographical. But I can’t swear to that.

                1. Wow.

                  (Also I had no idea she wrote any contemporary romance novels, lol. Though I’m not greatly inspired to find them, I admit.)

                  1. _The Lady_ is pretty good. It’s more about horses and family than romance. I skim the kissy bits and focus on the horses.

        1. I’d loved the Pern books as a kid/teen, but when I went to reread them a few years ago I really struggled and finally gave up. I wanted to slap everyone, but especially Lessa, heh.

          I haven’t re-tried the Harper Hall trilogy, so that one might go better. Or not.

  2. The Leftists like to focus on the early church sharing everything in common.
    They tend to overlook that this was treated as a miracle.
    And that God actively smote people who were gaming the system.
    They tend to screech like campers at the quote, “he who will not work, neither shall he eat“.

    There was some truth to the “people aren’t reading science fiction any more”.
    Granted, it was because of the crap they were publishing as science fiction.
    I know I swore off the genre in the late ‘80s, and didn’t come back until Michael Flynn’s Firestar In the late ‘90s.

    The college of education is truly a horrifying place.
    Some 30 years ago, I and some other friends in engineering and hard science majors decided we’d take some education classes as electives. (For the purpose of meeting girls, of course. We knew there were more women than men in campus, we just didn’t see them much.) Most of us dropped it immediately after the first class. One brave soul made it to the end of the first week, but he claimed that his IQ had been permanently damaged by the experience.

    1. Evidently, Otto is convinced there’s commonality between vampires and campers.
      I guess if the mosquitoes drain you dry, you arise from your unquiet grave to prey upon the living.

    2. I had some brushes with the Dept. of Ed. at Flat State U. Um . . . There were a lot of very well meaning undergrad students who wanted to be teachers. Many of those were very nice people. That’s all I’m going to say on the topic.

      1. I had a friend in college who would get into trouble in her Ed classes because she’d do things like point out that if diversity was useless to teach in a separate class, why were they teaching a separate class on it?

        She was little and cute, and I swear that she had a “confirmed kills” list of when she picked on the Ed department.

  3. I could plausibly blame SF for most of the transgenderism mess. Somebody…well, multiple somebodies, by my reading…, said “What if we really could change sexes through surgery/hormone cocktails/retroviruses/whatnot, wouldn’t that be cool?”. The next day, people who ought to know better are trying. And the intellectuals with no grounding in obstinate reality, who are bored, looking for the next new thing and any excuse at all to stick it to tradition, loudly cheer the notion. And the politicians, seeing another underserved but highly vocal minority of believers and want-to believers to scam for votes go jump on the bandwagon. And the corporate executives tag along. And now they have begun ostracizing and persecuting anyone who says you can’t (not yet, and possibly not ever. The more you dig into the details, the harder the problem gets) and shouldn’t try. Feh.

    1. I recall that Neil Gaiman wrote a short story in the ‘90s where changing your sex was just a matter of taking a pill. He painted a picture of hedonism and another sexual revolution (heavily influenced by the raves and club kids of the time), and those people who could tell at a glance what your sex actually was supposed to be, were a hatred and oppressed minority.

      1. Well, there was Ursula K. Leguin, who in 1969 had a whole planet of genetically engineered sex-switchers. And there was Jack Chalker in the 1970s, who was writing about indistinguishable-from-magic technology that made sex change easy, complete, and painless. Then there was Lois McMaster Bujold, who was writing in 2000 of miracles of surgery, which let characters switch back and forth between sexes multiple times and get a complete, reproductively functional transformation. And those are just the ones I read and remember; I’m sure there were many others. Easy, fun, and *entirely* fictional.

        1. I no longer recall author or title, but one had a “mind-swap” between bodies (usually[?] limited to husband-wife to avoid *more* complications. I recall the claim that a male mind in a female, the first thing to happen was hands to breasts, and female mind in a male body went to the restroom to… not sit down. I also recall the bit of a refusal to swap back after she got him (as it were, kinda) pregnant…

  4. “we need more diverse mathematicians, because 2 + 2 = 4 is white supremacy.”

    This statement of theirs is partly people making excuses for doing a worse job of teaching mathematics to minority students, and partly people who care nothing about mathematics.

    For at least the past twenty years, there have been pretty much no white supremacist university instructors in mathematics, physics and engineering. Those instructors have largely been willing to put in the work to get motivated people through the advanced mathematics, no matter the color or creed.

    Saying that ‘2+2=4 is white supremacist’ is saying that ‘mathematics is not for blacks’. Also, both statements are damned lies.

    The racists here are a) the education majors, who are almost willfully screwing up the mathematical foundations of minority students b) the university administrators, who aren’t telling the humanities to shut the hell up with their ‘mathematics is not for blacks’. Or perhaps ‘racists’, because I may be condemning some of these groups excessively by painting with too broad a brush.

    1. Oh, I KNOW. Skin color has nothing to do with math, though there’s a weak correlation between African ancestry and HIGH mathematical ability which our schools are trying to fuck up.

      1. Yeah, I was certain that you understood very well.

        Wrote it for the people who haven’t put all the pieces together yet.

        Later I had to fight off the temptation to come back and do a deeper dive into the theory of mathematics, and into critical theory, and lay it all out in tedious detail. There’s no law of physics that forces people to work that out, step by step, before they acquire an interest in creative writing. I figure a lot of story tellers haven’t done that bit of work, yet.

      2. Yeah, there’s a known correlation between math and music, math and throwing ability, math and shooting pool, math and rhythm games, and there’s an awful lot of black people who kick butt at chess. But maaaagically, black people who are good at all that stuff are also supposed to be poow widdle stupid peepuls who can’t do math.

        My left buttock.

        Now, it would be interesting to see if there is some kind of mental block that could be gotten around, or some way to gamify math and therefore make it seem cool and competitive.

        1. I wonder if it could be like me and older son, who are great at math, provided we know we’re going to invert, reverse and generally play havoc with digits, and watch out for it.

        2. The question is not ‘can we gamify math’.

          The questions are ‘how many ways can we gamify which math, and what are the funnest ways of packaging it’.

  5. I recently saw something which tried to claim that eugenics was a “reactionary” idea. Nope, sorry guys, that one was a progressive movement, through and through. All the smart, forward-thinking people bought into it. And then, as Michael Crichton noted, after WW2, suddenly nobody had ever been a eugenicist.

    1. Really, the only people against eugenics in the early part of the century were those ridiculous fundamentalist Christians who thought that God’s command to “go forth and multiply” applied to everyone. They kept trying to impose that Medieval belief on others by trying to prevent the “great, scientific men” from sterilizing poor women against their will.

    2. I sadly know this from persona experience. I had several older relatives who were FDR Democrats their whole lives and who swore by eugenics. At the same time they didn’t much trust the medical profession (they’d all worked in late 40’s hospitals as volunteers), and admitted there wasn’t anyone who could be trust to implement it ‘properly’. I eventually learned to just nod politely and keep my opinion behind my teeth when they spoke about it.

    3. Everyone should be made to look at the textbook that was at the center of the Scopes trial. It explained (with illustrations!) how modern man evolved from ape to negro to modern human. Yikes! THAT is progressivism, just as Woody Wilson was the most progressive (and most racist) president up until that time. As Dennis Prager frequently notes the left doesn’t believe that honesty is a virtue.

  6. I wonder if that’s one reason why mil-sci-fi became relatively popular in the 1980s-90? could get some sci-fi without all the pro-Marx foolishness (thinking of Drake, Sterling, Pournelle, G. Harry Stein’s Warbots [a toned-down take on the BOLO stories] and co.) I liked those a lot more than I did the other stuff being churned out – nuclear winter, over population, nuclear holocaust = Mad Max but less fun, that sort of [stuff].

  7. “…the only reason that some humans are poor than others is that they were stolen from. And the rich ones stole from them.”

    So, Tribe A is rich because they stole it all from Tribe B, who used to be rich but are therefore now poor.

    Who did Tribe B steal =their= wealth from??

    See, two can play this game…

  8. the idea that “great men” in charge would leads to glory by use of that “science.”

    To be fair, this one has a lot of appeal in fiction. It certainly makes for compelling drama to say that it all comes down to the action of one hero, or at most a small team. Can the hero get it together in time? Can he find the courage to pay the price and do what must be done?

    But then the question arises as to what the hero does afterwards. In a lot of tales, he becomes king and ushers in an era of peace and prosperity. However, I prefer the Western ending of “he rides off into the sunset”; now that the immediate crisis is over, the hero is no longer needed to direct the townsfolk, and it’s his job to leave and let them live in peace.

    A question for Sarah, or for anyone more familiar with stories from different cultures: is the “ride off into the sunset” ending mostly an American thing? Maybe not exclusively (Tolkien pretty much uses it too), but as a cultural trope. Because it seems to me that the idea of “heroes may arise to help us along the way, but then they need to get out of the way and let people live their own lives and make their own mistakes” seems a very USAian way of thinking.

    1. Yeah, I’ve found myself increasingly dissatisfied with some of those stories.

      We look into the better histories of this stuff, and there are a lot of little pieces, with a lot of different people touching different ones. There are some really extreme creative geniuses, but they are rare, so while I enjoy a well written story about one of them, I might also enjoy a story about a mediocre or less successful intelligent inventory.

      A guy decades ahead of his time should be decades ahead of his time. If things are changing hugely in a society, there should be a lot of people involved.

      Some of the time I’m really not in the mood for an Asian light novel portal fantasy about a philosopher king who singlehandedly oversees hundreds of years of technical innovation.

    2. Agreed. The thing that worried me most about Drake’s Lord of the Isles series was wondering what happened the next generation?

      The new king and his team had the right skills, and capabilities to make what needed to happen, happen, but what happens the next generation or two?

      They’re good books, and they make sense in the context of their world, but I can also see where the systems are going to fail, and that makes what should have been a triumphant ending, bittersweet.

      Suspect that’s why that Artherian sketch I did ended up having Camelot fail because monarchy did not have a robust way to transfer power.

      (That Arthur was not a descendent of the prior king, and had legal legitimacy because of the marriage to Guinevere, which gets blown to bits when she’s barren and he tries to make Mordrid his heir. That Mordrid’s actually a just and capable leader and would have been up to it, but the unwritten rules of succession wouldn’t allow it.)

  9. You might get a kick out of the “Humans are Space Orcs” meme thing that’s been making the rounds.

    It’s kind of taken the whole “humans are a plague” idea and shifted it to a “Cool. Swam time!”

    The basic idea is, on a Galactic scale, Earth is a Class 5 Deathword: Do not enter. And humans are crazy, uncontrollable and unstoppable. “We’ve been trying to poison him for a month, and all he does is complain the coffee is weak!”

    “Wait, how many miligrams of cyanide did you just say? That’s enough to wipe the whole shop out.”

    “Let me see if I understand this right. You put on light impact armor, sit on top of a live oxygen combustion engine, and the balance this thing while moving at over 100kph, but this impact armor is insufficient for anything above 30kph. And you do this thing on hard surfaces, and with other people doing the same thing within touching distance. And you do this for fun? This isn’t some elaborate practical joke?”

      1. I am so going to have to prod my kid brother into writing that Vorpral Species series he’d been sketching out. Berserker lichen, Bhudists flying space lobsters, and plasma cockroaches. And humans are the scary ones…

        We did get that smoker going. I wonder if bribery might be effective?

      2. I also adore the combination with “will bond with anyone/anything that will at least sort of cooperate.”

  10. I’ve been playing with this “humans are a virus” thing a little bit.

    Like, what if we’re not? What if there IS a virus, but we’re the antibodies? That could be a cool story.

    Or, what if we’re not, but somebody has been telling us we are. What’s up with that? Who’s been making bank there? What if we go find that guy?

    Current WIP, what to do when some jackass alien assumes Humanity is a plague and starts trying to “help.”

    Let the ass-kicking begin.

    1. Old thought: What about humans as a ‘terraforming’ mechanism to make the universe difficult for Great Old Ones?

      1. Another old thought of mine, you ever see a dog or a cat staring intently at nothing? What if it’s not nothing? What if there’s a specific type of supernatural entity they’re there to keep under control?

        What if every species from single cells to humans have something they’re there to control? And what if we got the big ones you need intelligence to beat?

        1. Isn’t it? I envisioned a situation where the first guy to create an AI finds that it is there to do combat with a particular type of demon, one that humans don’t deal with well. I’ve been thinking that Communism might be a good personification for it to do battle with. We suck at fighting it, after all. 100 million dead and still counting.

          Imagine the exploding heads. >:D

      1. I particularly enjoy f-ing over totalitarian regimes. I’ve been having great fun with the idea of identifying That Guy, the big cheese who gave the orders, and then showing up at his house with a regiment of semi-autonomous ground combat vehicles. AKA lippy robot spiders made of guns. And the werewolf. She’s great to trot out when you really want to make an impression. >:D

            1. And ponder the numbers (as well as patience!)… 15+15+(25*13)=355 MILLION… torqued off humans, already planet-side, dug in to every system they could touch. Bastards didn’t have a chance, did they?

              1. Nope! And honestly, my only ‘eh, not quite believable’ quibble would be THAT many humans being able to keep a secret. But then again…maybe they didn’t have to. I do like that the author kept it vague enough that you can draw your own conclusions about how they might have achieved this.

                1. Now, see? That’s a perfectly cromulent little pulp story that would have been eminently publishable in a good many pulp sf magazines. Workmanlike. (Worlds better than a lot of supposed award-winners.)

  11. There’s always been a strain of nihilism in the intellectual field. It become far too easy to make your thoughts go crazy and insane, especially when going into the esoteric.
    But…the underlying hatred of everything just to seem “smart” has always pissed me off. “Yes, the world sucks. Things are bad. So, what are you doing to make it better?”
    Despair tends to be steady-state, mostly in the fear that any change could be for the worst.

  12. > American Sf/f writers were writing defeatist nonsense,

    I expect the root problem was the editors simply weren’t buying much that didn’t fit the Narrative.

    Now such authors can bypass the gatekeepers and connect with their readers directly.

    Sure, the ones who toe the line and write what they’re told sell more… maybe. Nobody trusts tradpub sales figures any more. And nobody is getting rich, other than the “best sellers”… maybe.

      1. People are getting rich whom nobody wants to hear of….

        But let’s picture SF/F fandom in 1952, if they’d had Internet self-pub ebooks. Do you really think that the sf fandom world would ignore all the crazy newbies putting out books, or would they be anxious to read and promote and invite? Would they not have instantly switched fanzine pubbing into e-pubbing?

        But yeah, even though the establishment today doesn’t love it, there’s clearly a lot of people out there paying a lot of money to crazy sf/f indies of all kinds.

  13. >> “like the young Sarah who mouthed ‘humans are a plague’ while in her rock-sane back brain hankering to have at least 11 kids”

    I’ve noticed you keep using that specific number. Why 11 kids exactly?

    1. I don’t know. To be exact I wanted 11 boys. I was okay with additional girls.
      And I REALLY don’t know. When I was 8 I was going to live in Denver, be a writer, and have 11 sons.

      1. Well, 2.181818 out of three ain’t bad.

        …What does it say about me that I used a calculator AND tried to find an overline tag for WordPress just to get that joke right?

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