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Baen's Bar and Series in Fiction

Baen's Bar

There is an ongoing brouhaha about people in the online forum Baen's Bar. More than a few posts are of people calling for violence in support of their right-wing politics. Given the recent insurrection at the Capitol, these types of remarks are getting more attention. Sadly, I find my give-a-damn is busted. These posts only happen on days that end in -y, and have been ongoing for years. Any blame that attaches to Baen Books and editor Toni Weisskopf attached years ago.

Series in Fiction

I mentioned that I stopped reading Rachel Caine's latest (and alas last) series after book 3. This got me thinking about series in general. At the end of any book or movie, what happens next is practically unlimited. People who enjoyed the work can imagine almost anything. However, each follow-on work involves authorial decisions. These decisions limit the possibilities, and sometimes that limit means people will drop off.

Even series that hit the reset button have this problem. I recently watched Season 1 of the TV show "LA's Finest." At the end of the season, they hit the reset button. Season 2 is sitting on my Netflix and will probably not be watched. In short, change and lack of change can cause people to abandon a series.

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Science Fiction and Female MMA

Science fiction and female mixed martial arts are probably things most people don't put together. Apparently I'm not most people.

There was a school of thought in science fiction that held an all-female society would be very peaceful and cooperative. I first encountered that school years ago when I read Alice Sheldon's Houston, Houston Do You Read?. Other first-wave feminist authors, such as Joan Slonczewski, notably, in their A Door Into Ocean, published in 1986, and Joanna Russ, are also exemplars of this.

These works pre-date the phenomenon of female mixed martial arts, in which women get paid to beat the shit out of each other. The first-wave feminists, I think, mistook culture for genetics. It's an age-old mystery, one that we are still unravelling.

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Various shenanigans to manipulate the stock price of Gamestop have made it into the news of late. (I assume my readers are at least vaguely familiar with those shenanigans.) I have opinions!

1) The hedge fund that started these shenanigans is merely trying to exploit the stock market to make a quick buck. They have no interest in the underlying business of Gamestop. The hedge funds who are stepping in to bankroll their counterparts are also in it for themselves. In short, I will shed no tears for any of the hedge funds.

2) Although the small investors who've jumped in have wrapped themselves in the banner of Robin Hood, I've seen more than a few self-proclaimed Gamergate dudes leading, or at least trying to lead, this parade. I'm reluctant to associate myself with Gamergate. (The smell is unpleasant and hard to get off.)

3) The fact that the hedge funds are running to every live TV camera they can find asking for the government to do something is yet more evidence, were any needed, that people who support free markets only do so if they are making money in the market. Once they start losing money, well then "we the people" are expected to bail them out.

4) I have a bad feeling that a lot of small investors are going to find themselves stuck with massively overpriced stock at the end of this mess. They may have cut their noses off to spite their faces.

Allegedly Dick Cheney said of the Iran - Iraq War that "It's a shame somebody has to win this war." I suspect that there will be no winners in this war. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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Capricon 41 - My first virtual con

I will be attending and on programming at Capricon 41, to be held this year virtually on February 4 - 7, 2021. You can attend from the comfort of your Internet-enabled device for free (registration required). Herewith is my schedule:

These Pirates Are Made for Space Ravinia Literature Panel Fri 9:00 AM Duration: 01:00

Description: Science fiction and the pirate story have gone hand-in-hand since its earliest days. Old school tales translated the classic sea piracy tale into space. But what other kinds of pirate stories are being told in the speculative worlds of science fiction? New and old, this panel will explore how science fiction continues to re-imagine the pirate tale!

Reading: Chris Gerrib Birch Sat 10:30 AM Duration: 00:30

Description: Chris Gerrib reads from his work.

Planned Futures vs. Evolving Futures Willow Theme Panel Sat 12:00 PM Duration: 01:00
Description: Foreseeing the future is notoriously tricky. The pioneers of cellphone technology thought they were creating wireless telephones, not networked pocket computers. Attempts to dictate the future have been even less reliable. When trying to create the future, should we try to plan it in detail, or is it better to give things a few nudges in (we hope) the right direction, and wait and see what evolves? This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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Death By The Bay

Death by the BayDeath by the Bay by Patricia Skalka

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been a fan of Patricia Skalka since we met at a library event where she was selling her first Dave Cubiak novel. When I found out she'd put out a fifth book I immediately bought it. Like the other four, I found this novel highly entertaining.

The first four books had an overarching theme of the redemption of Dave Cubiak. This book starts out several years after the events of the first four, and Cubiak, the county sheriff, is married with a new child. He's at a local hotel having lunch with a friend when an elderly doctor, presenting at a medical conference, dies of a heart attack. This should be a routine happening, but something seems off, so Cubiak keeps looking.

Well, these books are mysteries so of course something is off - badly off - and Cubiak's on the case. The majority of the action happens in southern Door County, which is not the tourist area. I found that a nice touch, and I very much enjoyed the characters portrayed by Skalka. The bottom line is that this is a very good read.

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Adventures in Lucid Dreaming

Lest this page become all politics, all the time, herewith my recent adventures in lucid dreaming.

Last night, I was asleep and dreaming, as one does. I was outside on the roof of a building waiting to attend a graduation ceremony. (Hey, dream logic applies in dreams.) Then, the Angel of Death appeared in the sky.

My lucid but dreaming mind said, quote, "no, we're not having this dream." Exit Angel of Death, stage right.

I then found myself having a tug of war with a small and angry dog for my glasses. The alarm clock ended that dream. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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I've been sedition-free for 19,832 days!

I've been sedition-free for 19,832 days! For those interested who did not storm the Capitol this past week, you can visit here to work on your number. Other thoughts:

Trump as domestic abuser

Although Trump is not (as far as I know) a domestic abuser, he has a lot in commonality with them. This is largely because domestic abuse is about control, not violence. Violence is a tool in the abuser's toolbox, not the end goal. So:

1) The most dangerous period in an abusive relationship is when the victim leaves. This threatens the abuser with literally the worst thing they can think of, a loss of control. We saw that on Wednesday.

2) Abusive relationships are full of incidents where, after a particularly bad beat-down, the abuser shows up with smiles, apologies and flowers. Again, Job 1 of an abuser is to maintain control. We saw this later in the week with the kinda-sorta concession video. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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My October 14 post about Trump claming that Nothing in his Administration will become him like the leaving of it has not aged as well as I would have liked in the wake of Wednesday's coup attempt. I admit, I did not anticipate him sending a mob to lynch Congress.

Although I'm not sure how much of Wednesday's mob action was planned by Trump. First, he's just not much of a planner. Second, he's personally a coward. I suspect his "plan" for whatever values of planning actually occurred was for the Congress to be intimidated by protestors, possibly including "protestors" roaming the halls of Congress. (Think the various right-wing anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests in statehouses of late.)

This does not absolve him of the blame for the coup or the deaths. If you play with matches and gasoline, the fire is your responsibility. It does point out that Trump is more symptom than problem.

There are large groups of Americans who are angry enough to resort to violence for political ends. That's the problem. And no, they are not, by-and-large, "blue collar" people. We've seen CEOs of companies and people who chartered private jets to fly into Washington in order to attack the capitol. We've also seen some people in the mob who clearly came to lynch politicians. (Dudes with zip ties and flak jackets - Google it yourself.)

Fixing this will require a lot of work, and not just by politicians. Some, most of the work will have to be done by society. It will start by shaming those who engage in violence, much like we've shamed those who are openly racist. Yes, some people are without shame, but the goal is to keep the number of people we need to worry about as low as possible. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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I'm glad to see that the Republican Party is the party of law and order. Blue lives matter! (That's sarcasm, for those unclear.)

Calling Trump's coup yesterday half-assed is an insult to half-assedness, which is par for the course with Trump. And yes, it was a coup attempt, and even after half-assed coups you need to remove the coup plotters.

You see, if you plan to overthrow the government by shutting down the legislature, you need to do three things. One, send in a mob. Two, make sure that, imbedded in said mob, are some people who can take out key targets under cover of the mob. Three, be able to show up on a white horse and restore order. Fortunately, Trump's too stupid and lazy for steps 2 and 3. We got lucky.

In related thoughts, I whole-heartedly agree with John Scalzi when he says Trump is the worst President ever. From Scalzi: James Buchanan allowed the country to fall into the Civil War because he believed (erroneously, in my opinion) the principles of the country could not stop it from happening. He was wrong, terribly wrong, but at least there was a principle behind it. Trump, it is now perfectly and unambiguously clear, would be delighted to have the country fall into a civil war, not for principle, but simply for ego. He would destroy our country and democracy because he can’t abide what he now is: a loser.

Lastly, we've seen police can be polite to rioters, as long as said rioters are white. Good to know. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.
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New Years - Battle of the Bulge Edition

When I was a small boy, too young to stay at home by myself, my parents went out for New Year's Eve. I stayed with my grandparents. For some reason, WGN seemed to think that the movie The Battle of the Bulge was the thing to show. When the (shortened for TV) movie was over, they'd cut to a hotel ballroom where Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians would ring in the New Year in the Central Time Zone. Guy's long dead, but I decided to revise the tradition and watch Battle of the Bulge last night. As history, it's not very good, even by Hollywood standards. As a movie it's quite good.

Let's get the history out of the way first. The movie was filmed in Spain, so even when they remember to put snow on the ground it doesn't look very much like Belgium. Also, they couldn't get Sherman or King Tiger tanks, so they used American tanks, specifically M-24 Chafees (which were at least around in WWII) and post-war M47 Pattons with German markings painted on them. All the tanks were provided with drivers and support crew by the Spanish Army from their then-current inventory.

Composite characters are used, which for the Germans obfuscates moral responsibility for the Malmedy massacre. Lastly, the plot makes it look like the Germans were much closer to victory then they were. This point is probably what caused Dwight Eisenhower to come out of retirement and hold a news conference complaining about the movie. To be fair, the moviemakers knew they weren't filming history - there's a written disclaimer in the end credits.

But as a piece of entertainment, the movie was quite good. Henry Fonda, Robert Shaw and Charles Bronson chewed a lot of scenery, Telly Savalas (who got special billing in the credits) played a fairly complex character and the (albeit historically inaccurate) battle scenes were well done. My on-demand copy was the long version that played in theaters, and included a pre-credit musical overture, a musical intermission, and a musical "exit music" after the final credits. Overall, an interesting way to see out the year 2020. This entry was originally posted at Please comment there using OpenID.