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Friday, Later Than Usual

Today's post is later than usual due to a busy morning.

A) Having merely pointed at Scalzi's post yesterday on Brexit and saying "me too" let me today point at Scalzi's newest post on Brexit and say "me too."

B) Game of Thrones a TV show that I do not watch, had a big medieval battle scene in it. Various people are complaining of inaccuracies, including the idea that the cavalry (well, armored knights) arrive to save the day, unbeknownst to the Big Bad. I remind people that at Waterloo, Napoleon knew the Prussians were in the area and had detached a Corp to fend them off, yet the Prussian arrival forced his retreat.

C) Chuck Wendig talks about common sense gun control. I note the article primarily to point out that there is a divide in gun culture from "old school" (Chuck and I) and "new school." The new school types seem to want everybody to have a gun instantly to hand.

Four For Thursday

Four items of note, linked only in my mind:

Item The First

I have a guest post on the website SFF World entitled Where's My Flying Car? Readers may note that they could just as easily substitute "rocket" for "flying car" in the linked post.

Item The Second

John Scalzi has an opinion on the Brexit vote in the UK. It very closely mirrors mine.

Item The Third

From Slate, How the novel Frankenstein is really about climate change.

Item The Fourth

House Democrats are holding a sit-in to attempt a vote which would ban people on the terrorist watch list from buying guns. I am somewhat ambivalent about this. On the one hand, if we're seriously concerned about these people, why in the hell would we let them buy a gun? On the other hand, heaven knows that this list is poorly-assembled at best. I think the bottom line is that the Republican's reluctance on this issue shows how non-serious they are about terrorism.

Complaint and Complement

Complaint

My feet are wide. This requires me to buy shoes that are sized "wide." This weekend I went looking for shoes, having worn out a favorite pair. (Literally - the upper was ripping away from the lower.) Two stores didn't stock any wides, one store had wide in one style only. I ended up ordering shoes online!

Compliment

A couple of weeks ago I had occasion to use Spothero to reserve a parking spot. Due to my error, the reservation card didn't work. Despite it being my error, I got a refund and a small credit!

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Free Stuff!





Goodreads Book Giveaway




The Mars Run by Christopher Gerrib




The Mars Run



by Christopher Gerrib





Giveaway ends July 05, 2016.



See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.







Enter Giveaway


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Two Thoughts on Friday

Thought One - Annie Oakley

One of the things that gripes my ass are the Gun Store Experts who tell me that, had they been at the Shooting Of The Week, they would have dropped the Bad Dude. Maybe yes, maybe no...

Shots In The Dark, or, How I Became A Sharpshooter.

Thought Two - Thinking It Through

So, one of the things Trump and his supporters have been saying regarding Orlando is that we've been attacked and need to hit back. "It's an act of war!" So does that make the shooter a soldier? Who should we hit back at? I mean, our bombing of ISIS is what caused the shooter to go get a gun. If we're at war with Islam, then as this guy asks how exactly does a nation prosecute a war against a leaderless entity with multiple subgroups?

When one asks these questions of Trump and his supporters, one gets either an angry glare, vague platitudes or a repetition of the initial statement. One does not get actionable ideas.

"A Lie Gets Halfway Around The World..."

"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on," said Winston Churchill. Today's lie is that Sharia police are legally patrolling the streets of Germany.

Here's the truth. In September 2014, five German mooks (admittedly radical Islamists) put on red hi-vis vests with the English words "Sharia Police" on them and walked the streets of Wuppertal, a town in Germany. They made sure to get photographed doing so, and their "police activity" consisted of telling people to not go to bars.

Nobody over the age of five thought these mooks were police (the German police wear yellow hi-vis with the word "Polizei" on them, for starters) and they didn't try to arrest anybody. They were, in fact, arrested by the real police and charged. A lower court ruled in their favor but an appeals court ordered them tried. While all the legal wrangling was going on, our mooks were patrolling their gardens and living rooms.

It was, in short, a photo-op, staged to create a propaganda overreaction in English-speaking countries. It worked, thanks to the same pants-wetters running to vote for Donald Trump.

The 28th Amendment

Yesterday I made a rather off-hand remark that America was the place that amended the Constitution to ban booze, suggesting that we could change the Constitution with regards to guns. I'm not advocating that, rather predicting / warning it's possible, and I'd like to unpack that thought a bit. Part of my job as science fiction writer is to think of the future.

First, I don't think America will ban all guns. I do think we could get an amendment empowering Congress to greatly restrict gun ownership, specifically types of guns and rules for the transfer of same. However, my interest today is in how such an amendment gets passed.

If one looks at Prohibition, the coalition that got it passed consisted of rural Protestants upset at urban immigration and women. Prior to deregulated divorce, domestic violence laws and the destigmatization of women working outside the home, having an alcoholic as a father or husband was disastrous to women. So, despite a majority of Americans being drinkers (and heavy ones, by modern standards) booze got banned.

Alas, gun owners are already in a minority. Owners of AR-15s, 2-3 million of them, are less than 1% of Americans. So far, this minority has been able to hold the line.

The Orlando shooting appears to be of a type that, if we see more of them, may crack that line. Here we have a son of immigrants, known to police as a problem, who goes and buys a high-capacity weapon which he uses a week later to hose down a public venue. I could see urban voters bonding with war on terror types over whatever legislation it would take to prevent these kinds of attacks.

Gun Control, Part The Latest

In thinking of the events of Orlando, it seems we in America have two inter-related problems. The first problem is areas of our country have high rates of violence, which at the moment get expressed with guns. To be more clear, if you wave your magic wand and all the guns on the south side of Chicago stop working, the gangbangers will be banging each other with bats and knives by lunchtime. Removing guns may marginally reduce the body count, but it won't stop violence.

The second problem we have is crazies with guns. And yes, the Orlando shooter was crazy. Anybody who has to call 911 to pledge allegiance to ISIS is crazy. The FBI (per linked article) found no evidence he was linked to ISIS, other than a general desire to kill people. The shooter was born in America of Afghan parents, AKA "not Syrian" AKA "possibly not even the same branch of Islam as ISIS."

At any rate, we know exactly how to greatly reduce the "crazies with guns" problem, which is uniquely American. The answer is to reduce the number of guns available and make them generally harder to get. Of special interest is to reduce the number of high-capacity semiautomatic rifles and pistols. These weapons make it entirely too easy to go from a 4-person shooting to a 24-person shooting.

I'm personally and generally against banning these weapons, and any ban would have to involve a buy-back. Having said that, we have two choices - mass shootings or reductions in guns. I suspect that sooner or later a gun ban will happen. This is the nation that wrote a Constitutional amendment banning booze.

Printers Row Lit Fest

This weekend I had occasion to attend the Printers Row Lit Fest in downtown Chicago. There, me and a few thousand other authors, publishers and booksellers attempted to sell our books to a million or so of our closest friends. Saturday was a bit off, largely because it was mid-90s with 100% humidity, but today was cool (mid-60s) dry and breezy. I sold a few books, about what I expected given the nature of such crowds (read "not SF readers") and spent a fair amount of time watching people. I ended up next to Luna Teague, one half of the Timebangers duo, for the duration. Thoughts:

1) Timebangers Book 1 is one hell of a funny time travel sex comedy! You should buy it.

2) Festivals seem to bring out a number of people of whom one wonders how they were capable of dressing themselves, not to say wonder if one should perhaps call somebody to return them to wherever they escaped from.

3) I'm glad I'm a fairly large guy. I watched three profoundly awkward attempts to hit on Luna over the course of the event. Needless to say, nobody tried to hit on me.

Guns, Three Thoughts On

Long-time readers know I own guns, and am in general interested in their use for defensive purposes. I am also interested in keeping guns out of the hands of crooks and crazy people, but that's another post. In any event, here's three thoughts on gun ownership.

Thought #1

Just because some stranger is in your house doesn't mean you can shoot them. The author, a long-serving police officer, recounts a number of cases of finding drunks, Alzheimer's patients or "several unknown young men drinking the beer in his fridge. His college-aged son thought dad would be away on vacation another day and had given his buddies keys to the house so they could use it for a party spot."

Thought #2

Sometimes life is out of your control. The author walked out of the shower with nothing but a towel to find two strange women in her house. They were teachers, let in (against specific instructions) by the homeowner's then 4-year-old son. Another moral: "This goes to illustrate that if you are weighing the safety of yourself or your family on the understanding and application of instruction on a young child you are making a gamble with your life and the lives of your family members."


Thought #3

Clear communication in high-stress situations is important. Think about what you're going to say and do before you have to say and do it.

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Belated Con Report

Over the Memorial Day weekend, I attended ConQuest 47 in lovely downtown KCMO (local-ese for "Kansas City, Missouri"). Due to a crush of work and book editing, I haven't had much of a chance to talk about The Con That Was.

Although not exactly the same organization, MidAmericacon 2, the 74th annual World Science Fiction Convention, will be held in KCMO in August. Many of the same people are involved in both events, which meant that ConQuest got a lesser focus and somewhat lower attendance. However, since I was invited to ConQuest I went.

I first went to ConQuest in 2012, and this year's iteration was in the same place as that con, the Hotel Of Death. (For those not clicking through, two walkways in the lobby collapsed, killing over 100 people.) Only one of the walkways was replaced, resulting in an awkward layout.

In 2012, the main lobby was being renovated, creating a dust bowl, but this year no construction was happening, resulting in a much more peaceful venue. I had a reading and several panels. Three panels of note were:

Lost in Translation: Language Barriers in SFF - Way too many SF stories gloss over the real barriers in communicating with aliens. On the other hand, spending too much time on the learning of the language means your book is about nothing but language. And no, Virginia, aliens aren't going to learn English by watching TV.

No Aliens Needed: Human-Centered Sci-Fi and Fantasy - This was an interesting juxtaposition with the panel above. The re-imagined Battlestar Galactica was cited. In many ways, this was the opposite of the first panel, in which we deplored Shakespeare-quoting "aliens" who were humans with a plastic forehead ridge.

Hard Science vs. Science Fiction - in which we discussed the idea of whether there could be too much science in a story. Prior to the book and movie The Martian, I would have said yes. Now, not sure.

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Hilary Clinton

I suppose I should say something profound about Hilary Clinton becoming the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party. I find that I don't have a lot to say that hasn't been said before, including by me.

Clinton is a politician, not a demi-god, and has a number of flaws. What she's exhibited in this campaign is an ability to learn. She took what didn't work in 2008 and fixed it, stealing a lot of process from Obama. Thus the steam-rolling of a much better natural politician, Bernie Sanders.

I also think that, much like Reagan in 1988, Obama has handed a, if not hand-picked, successor an election that's hers to loose. Does anybody think Trump is going to fare much better than did Michael Dukakis? In both cases, the out-of-power party has delivered somebody beloved of the base but lacking any sort of appeal beyond that base.

Nothing is inevitable in history except death and taxes, but Trump has a long and tough row to hoe.

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Yippee

There was no post Friday as I spent all day driving to various branches. I'm short one person at work, so we'll see how today goes.

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Three Things Make A Post

Like the label on the tin says:

Thing 1 - ‘Missing’ White Voters Might Help Trump, But Less So Where He Needs It.

Thing 2 - I've signed up with Jalepeno Fiction, a group promoting indie writers.

Thing 3 - I will be attending the Chicago-area Printers Row Lit Fest next weekend. Look for me at Tent C.

New (to me) Convention and Schedule

I will be attending InConJunction XXXVI over the July 4th weekend. It is (to me) a new convention held in Indianapolis. My summary schedule is:

Friday 4 PM:
Favorite Book You Read since Last Inconjunction

Saturday 2 PM:
Indie Publishing: Building Your Brand

Sunday 10 AM:
Them's Fighting Words: Writing Combat In Science Fiction

More detailed information about these events available here.

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Out In The Wild Today

My substancially re-written and re-edited novel The Mars Run is out in the wild today. I have a few ecopies available for review.

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Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo has written a series of posts called the brittle grip series. In these posts, he documents "growing calls from the extremely rich to not only be able to use their money without limit to shape the political process but to do so anonymously to avoid being "intimidated" or "vilified"."

I don't think this is just the rich. I think this is modern American conservatism. You see a similar phenomenon in my favorite American conservatives, be they at Simberg's Flying Circus (which I haven't visited for a while), Torgersen's Undisclosed Location or Wright's House of Wrong. In all three (and others) people who exercise their free speech rights in ways critical of the host's actions are accused of wanting to ship the host to a gulag or otherwise forcibly silence them.

To be clear - nobody is silencing the American conservative. Criticism is not silencing.

Presented With Minimal Comment

Speaking as a man who is a leader and suffered under several less-than-competent male leaders, I found this article interesting, to say the least.

Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?

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History Rhymes

History doesn't repeat itself, but it does rhyme. This is why I think Hilary Clinton is our next President, absent getting caught in bed with a live girl or a dead boy.

First, as has been said by many people, the electoral map for Republicans is not good. They are in the hole from the word go, and Trump is not showing much signs of getting out of the hole.

But I think the real impact is The Reagan Effect. I've compared Obama to Reagan before, and the comparison makes this look a lot like the election of 1988.

In 1988, Reagan was personally quite popular, despite Iran-Contra. Reagan's Vice President, Bush the Elder, ran on a very explicit platform of "more of the same." (Too explicit, as those who remember the Saturday Night Live skit can attest.) In 2016, we see Obama, personally quite popular with no scandals, smiling beneficently on his Secretary of State, who is running on a "more of the same but slightly different" platform. It's not 2000, where a sitting Vice President tried to run away from a scandal-plagued (although again personally popular) President.

Don't get me wrong - Hilary still needs to get her people to the polls, and this will be a 55 / 45 popular vote at best, but history is on her side.

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Comment Policy

This is the personal blog of Chris Gerrib, and all opinions expressed here are solely his own. Commenters are welcome; however please be polite to me and my other readers. I reserve the right to delete comments that are rude, inappropriate or otherwise objectionable at my sole discretion. The opinions expressed in a comment are not necessarily mine, and if I do not delete a comment that should not be construed as my agreement with the commenter.

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