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Posts by Kate Paulk

Random Musings

First up, sorry for spacing last week. The scatterbrain effect continues to be… strong.

Really, there’s not much to tell on my end of the screen. The boy-cats are growing into their personalities – Westley is very much a Dread Kitty, and Midnight is unquestionably a proper Basement Cat and pure Ebil. He’s a very affectionate pure Ebil, though, and those gorgeous gold eyes are something else.

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What was that?

I read. Widely, or rather obsessively. If there’s printed words, there’s a fair chance I’ve read them or attempted to read them (the vision isn’t so good these days, so the really small print goes unread). I don’t dare keep books in the loo because if I did I’d never leave and I’d have a permanent imprint of the toilet seat on my butt.

Yeah, one of those readers.

Which means that on my intermittent trawls through the internet, I can encounter some real doozies. One of which I ran into today. I’m not linking to it or anything else, because the unfortunate soul responsible probably hasn’t done worse than believe someone’s bull – judging by the quality of what passes for reasoning in the post, this person is not capable of distinguishing between fact, wish-fulfilment, and bigotry masquerading as some kind of enablement.

This fellow’s little tirade effectively claims that persons of pallor are aliens who arrived on the planet some 6500 years ago and proceeded to steal everything they could from the native persons of darkitude. And that this happened in Europe, of all places. Oh, and all of Europe’s wealth came from stealing from and killing the original (black) inhabitants.

Uh, right…

Best I can tell, humans of all shades enthusiastically tried to kill each other off for many, many thousands of years. And the last I heard, homo sapiens neanderthalensis (if my spelling is right) got it on with homo sapiens sapiens all through Europe to produce the modern European look. More or less.

Of course, this kind of “people of X are evil and tried to destroy my people” nonsense leaves out a lot of ugly truths. Things like slavery and slaughter being the norm for a long, long time. Things like Europe’s combination of just enough broken up terrain to allow decently large tribes to stake a claim and beat off the rivals plus just enough ease of travel particularly east-west (meaning that plants and animals suited to the region didn’t change that much over distance – allowing innovations to spread far and fast) giving said tribes enough of a combination of protection and trade to avoid being annihilated by the neighbors, while making it difficult for any one group to take over the whole mess.

It also ignores that in every region with less interesting terrain, there was a lot more of the strongest group taking over and building a much larger monoculture (China comes to mind, what with the place having been an empire for hundreds of years). That or the nature of the land didn’t make it easy to either host enough people for that (Australia) or was so interesting that travel and trade was too challenging (New Guinea mountains).

Accident, in other words. As for the idea that Europe’s original inhabitants were people of darkitude, the less said about that one, the better. Not only have there been numerous verifiable settlements complete with burial artifacts, remains and so on going back to the flipping ice ages, there’s been so many migrations that nobody really knows who came from where originally.

Of course, this crazy conspiracy of the eeeebil people of pallor mysteriously showing up a few thousand years back and slaughtering their way to prosperity (seriously? I thought that was how it was supposed to work) would make a fun kind of alternate history married to conspiracy theory. You could theorize entire lines of pre-historical cosmetics to disguise the tell-tale darkitude of your protagonists as they struggle against the eeebil people of pallor and try to build the ancient paradise of harmony and love that certain folk seem to think must have existed (I don’t believe in such things. Nature can be breathtakingly beautiful, but life without a lot of technology tends to be nasty, brutish, and short).

Maybe I shouldn’t read quite so much. Apparently stupid on Quora (on a question about the accuracy of high school history texts, no less) is enough to send me off on a rant.

Justifications

The bits of news I haven’t been able to avoid have shown a lovely lesson in how to write antagonists for those of us who remember back more than a day or so. It’s not even a subtle lesson, in fact, it’s so in your face that it’s likely to be missed because it’s so blatant and sensible people will look and think there’s no way that could possibly be real.

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It’s Late (Blast from the Past)

I’m tired, and I’m going to bed, so have a blast from the past which remains relevant – not least because I carefully failed to mention the culprits by name.

There Are No Words

I would have loved to be able to rant about the stupidity of certain ideological literary types, the kind who think that disinviting someone from a guest of honor position because someone might get offended is perfectly acceptable, but sadly, my ability to produce a decent rant is horribly impaired by one simple problem.

These folks have plumbed depths of stupid so deep that to call them morons risks offending perfectly decent morons. If I called them flaming turds of stupid, that would be an insult to all the flaming turds out there – and let’s face it, flaming turds are capable of being useful.

I’d be willing to go with shrieking harpies, but I’d offend the actual harpies – the spirits that carried the souls of evildoers to their ultimate destination, not the questionable beings of purportedly female-ish gender who try to imitate them – and frankly, nobody with any sense wants to do that. Read more

We Have BadCats

There are cats, good cats (usually when they’re asleep), bad cats, and the worst of the lot, badcats. Bad cats rampage around the house and make a horrible mess. Badcats knock the mouse off the desk and managed to completely reset half your computer while playing with it, then trot off to waltz their water bowl around the kitchen splashing half of it all over the floor.

Then they try to eat your headphone cable, sit on the laptop and turn it off in the process, and give you a hurt look when you growl at them because you were in the middle of work on the laptop when it got switched off. I will never buy a laptop with a power switch that can be operated by a cat standing on it.

Sadly, I don’t have that choice with the work machine. If I’m working from home, I have to defend the power button from kitty paws landing on it and activating it. There is a very good reason I disabled the power button on my home system’s keyboard.

So, yes, the boys are adjusting rather well to our household, and enjoying being part of it. It’s not like they’re short of actual purpose bought kitty toys either. They still see anything on a desk as a kitty toy. And they will happily kill the computer mouse. And the cell phone. And…

The Dread Kitty Westley got the unwanted cuddle treatment three times today, to stop him destroying my desk. He at least holds still long enough for a cuddle, even if he tends to prefer to rampage. Midnight still flees at speed if there’s any hint of being picked up, so he’s a bit less damaging – he’s generally happier to find a spot to curl up and sleep, most of the time. Not, I might add, that this is a huge difference when they’re chasing each other around the house and manage to knock something over.

They are indeed BadCats. Possibly even DamnCats.

And of course, they both have the instinctive (it’s got to be) ability to do cute when it looks like they’re going to be growled at for their misdeeds. The Dread Kitty Westley has taken to standing on his hind legs to reach up and wrap the front legs around my arm when he wants to be petted. This is of course unbearably cute and inevitably has me reaching down to pet him and give him whatever snuggles he demands.

Midnight prefers to approach on a level surface. He likes to stand in front of me on the desk and reach for me whenever I stop petting him. At least until it looks like I might possibly be thinking of maybe picking him up. Then there’s a flash of black fluff and no sign of the cat. He is not a pick up and be cuddled cat.

Meanwhile Her Highness Princess Buttercup is playing more and still queen of the household (and don’t you forget it) but she’s more rambunctious as well, and trying to steal food whenever there’s anything that smells interesting around. Oh, and jumping up to be cuddled whenever she feels the need. Because Mommy’s arms should never be doing anything except cuddling the kitty.

Cats…

Of Departing Kansas

Not literally, since I’ve never entered Kansas in the first place, but the way Dorothy Gale does early in The Wizard of OZ, when she emerges from her somewhat battered house to find herself in the middle of a strange city.

What brought this to mind is seeing the headlines about the bushfires in Australia – and remembering one of the nasty fire seasons I’ve lived through. I never faced anything like the worst of the fires, but I do know how bad they can get, and I did watch flames playing around bush near where we lived (and more to the point,  watching them and hoping like hell the flames didn’t get close enough to the big gas tank to cause… issues).

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Taking Culture Beyond Yogurt

Or cheese. Not that I dislike either, it’s just they don’t work well as analogs of human culture, as it were.

See, a lot of writing uses the whole stranger to the culture thing because it automatically ramps the tension up – it’s an easy way to add a level of risk and suspense that the author doesn’t have to do much about, and they’ve got a nice, simple way to avoid the dreaded infodumpus by having their out of place character asking questions (you didn’t really think Rowling made Harry Potter that dumb because she wanted him to be stupid, did you? She set him up so he’d be completely clueless and with a built in aversion to reading up on things, then handed him the biggest scold/substitute big sister/nag ever to be his assistant (and I like Hermione as a character but have to admit she’s a bit too much like me for my comfort – although I was a bit less inclined to trust authority) so she could tell him whatever he needed to know whenever he needed to know it).

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