15 Years Later

Remember 10-12-02

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Trump Wins Again

I think I’m starting to like this President:

Dolphins Owner Steve Ross Now Wants Players To Stand For Anthem, Coach Adam Gase Makes It A Rule

“…[Miami Dolphins owner Steve] Ross, who spoke about 90 minutes before the Dolphins’ 16-10 victory over Tennessee and the national anthem, said President Donald Trump has changed the focus of anthem conversation from social injustice issues to patriotism, so it’s better now for the players to stand.

“He’s changed that whole paradigm of what protest is,” said Ross during his CommUnity Tailgate gathering at Hard Rock Stadium before Sunday’s home opener against Tennessee.

“And I think it’s incumbent upon the players today, because of how the public is looking at it, to really stand and really salute the flag.”

[emphasis mine]

Just idly wondering how Jeb Bush would’ve handled this…

And if Hillary’d won, kneeling would be the new standing, anthem-wise.

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A Good Time to Turn Off Your Phone

A new poll shows that more Hillary voters regret their 2016 vote than Trump voters.

Weird… how’d they manage to interview all those dead people?

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Best Line Since “We Begin Bombing in Five Minutes”

The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea. Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary. That’s what the United Nations is all about; that’s what the United Nations is for. Let’s see how they do.

If you haven’t read Trump’s speech to the UN, give it a shot. I kept waiting for something I objected to, but it never came.

I’d forgotten what it’s like to have a President who speaks favorably of the US and its interests.

[title reference link]

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No, Kids, You Can’t Have Single-Payer or Ice Cream for Breakfast

Just looking at your faces, I know I’m going to end up the villain here. You want free health care for all and a tasty breakfast everyone can love, and the only thing standing in the way is me saying no. But someone has to be the adult here and say you can’t just do what you want regardless of nutrition or economics.

Now, before you start shouting about how I’m just mean and want poor, sick people to die and breakfast to be bland and boring, consider that maybe — just maybe — I actually have your best interests in mind. I know it’s hard to understand, but you’ll be better, healthier people if you eat something loaded with nutrients and not just sugar and keep free market forces in health care. If we go with what you want, we’re going to end up hyperactive and then crashing and have scarcity in health care resources and a lack of innovation. And yes, I know we set a bad precedent with how I got you Lucky Charms and the ACA, but we really should be trying to progress the other direction toward less government and less sugar in health care and cereal respectively.

And I know the influences I’m working against here. You see the fun clown and Bernie Sanders on TV talking about how great ice cream and socialism are. But while you think clowns and socialists to be entertaining, other people find them vile creatures to be feared — and for good reason. Just look at what socialism has done to Venezuela. And look at what… well, I don’t need to justify my hatred of clowns to you.

Okay, I can tell this is falling on deaf ears. You think I’m just mean. I hate fun. I want to put profits over patients. You might not believe me, but I really do want health care for all and everyone to enjoy breakfast. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to go about that. There’s no easy solution where you just say eat whatever you want and have any health care you want and it will paid for with other people’s money. If you go that route, you’re going to end up miserable and sick. So I don’t care how much you’re going to scream and yell; because I care for you, I’m putting my foot down and saying, “No.”

What? Don’t just go and ask mom now!

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Birthday surprise

I have a surprise for Harvey’s birthday today. I’m going to ignore it. I bet Harvey didn’t see that coming!

Instead, I’m going to talk about my daughter. You see, it’s her birthday.

Note: I have several family birthday connections with the IMAO family. Sarah K and I share a birthday. Frank J and my daughter-in-law share a birthday. And Harvey and my daughter share a birthday.

My little girl is living in Manhattan now with her husband and son. Yes, my Little Princess is now a Mom in Manhattan. Oh, how time flies. I still remember being there when she was born, watching that little baby cry her first breaths. Yes, I got to lay eyes on her before her mother did. No, it wasn’t a competition. But I still won.

Anyway, if you’re on Facebook, you may want to wish the Little Princess a happy birthday.

Or not. I mean, it might be a little weird leaving comments to a total stranger, right? And she’s a total stranger to you. But she’ll always be my Little Princess.

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Cartoon of the Day – Solution

[Michael P. Ramirez]

It seems like nobody wants to solve the problem. The politicians don’t. The voters that return those politicians to office don’t.

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One of my favorite paintings before 9/11 was this:

“A young architect looks at his rendering for a building of his design being constructed in the background. Completed in July of 2001, this painting was not in any way inspired or influenced by the events of September 11th, 2001. The twin towers of the World Trade Center were included for their graceful beauty and their immediate recognizability which provides context for the height of the new building under construction.”

After 9/11, I liked it even more for the hope it represented.

Now that the Freedom Tower is done, I feel like, in a way, that hope is realized.

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Writing a Sequel

Hey everybody. How are things? Everyone hiding from hurricanes?

I’m busy on the Superego sequel — maybe about a quarter done of first draft. And hopefully a number of you got the beta copy of Hellbender for feedback. Looking forward to what people think on that one; thought it was fun, but maybe a little weird.

Anyway, this Superego sequel is my first sequel writing experience. I’m worried I waited a little long (it’s approaching three years since Superego came out), but I guess compared to some authors with two R’s as their middle initial, I’m moving pretty briskly. Still, it’s fun to revisit the characters and also try to correct what I thought were some valid criticisms of the first one.

So, agenda for a sequel:
* Up the stakes — but not too far that you have no where to go for the next sequel
* Further character development while not just repeating character beats from the first
* Make it fun

And now I’m trying to distill what people liked about the first book and make sure that’s in there — while not too much that it gets irritating. Rico can be kind of a fun character, but I’m always worried that his strong personality can get grating with too much of him — which is always a problem when it’s in first person and he’s commenting on everything.

And I’m aiming for a trilogy. I’ve been advised before to set things up as just an ongoing series, but I always think in big stories and having an end point in the future helps me focus things.

I know a lot of times people think sequels aren’t as good as the first one, but they really should be an opportunity to improve because as a writer you start with a good understanding of the characters and can course correct from what you learned writing the first. So what are your favorite sequels? I liked Highlander 2, The Exorcist 2, and Speed 2.

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You’ll Be Eaten By Space Worms Like the Millennium Falcon

Russian scientists plan to blast dead frozen people into space where they’ll be preserved in secure pods.

That could never happen In America. It’d make Democrat voter registration drives too hard.

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Why Soulless Capitalism Is the Best System for Helping the Poor

People want their caring to mean something. That’s why a lot of people have big problems with capitalism as it explicitly doesn’t care about people and their well-being. Yet capitalism materially helps an order of magnitude more people than charity or a misguided economic system made with the poor in mind, like socialism. But the reason capitalism is so much better at helping the poor is that it that it actually cares about the poor in a much more concrete way than any other system as it cares about their collective spending power.

Now if you take the poor and the middle class all together, that is a massive amount of spending power — much more so than all rich people together. If you have a business that caters only to the rich — like selling yachts — that’s a niche market. To get insanely rich in capitalism, you need to cater to the poor — you need a Walmart. So many things in capitalism start out just for the rich — flat screen TVs, cellphones, electricity, indoor plumbing — but capitalism dictates you need to figure out how to do those things cheaper so you can sell to everyone if you want to get really really rich. And that’s why the poor in the U.S. have luxuries that the rich from a hundred years ago couldn’t even imagine.

So while charity and socialism say you need to sacrifice to help the poor and in exchange you’ll get a good feeling, capitalism says you can become a millionaire helping the poor. So it’s no wonder why one gets 1000 times more takers. The problem is this is religiously offensive to many people. “It should hurt to help the poor! You shouldn’t gain from it!” So while capitalism has drastically decreased poverty and malnutrition in the world over the last century (all while population has drastically increased), people still rail against it. Because of their pride. People want their intense caring to mean something. But the irony is they don’t actually care about the poor or they’d suck it up and support capitalism. Instead, they choose their pride over the poor.

NOTE: This shouldn’t be seen as a condemnation of charity which I believe to be every person’s duty. It’s just charity is a band-aid, not a cure.

This should be read as a condemnation of socialism, though. It’s awful and it kills people. Leave that turd in the last century.

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The Correct Way to Handle Politics in Fiction

No one likes getting lectured. Lectures are supreme arrogance. It’s saying I am right, you are wrong, and you must stand there and listen to how right I am and wrong you are. Political lectures are the worse, because in areas of such disagreement, it takes the most supreme arrogance to declare yourself the arbiter of what’s right.

Now, I for the most part don’t like politics in my fiction. Politics is stupid and fiction is for having fun. So for the most part, I avoid politics in the novels I’m writing — I want to write about more important things than the usual stuff people screech at each other about. And most importantly, I want my writing to be fun. Still, there is a correct way and an incorrect way to approach politics in fiction.

The correct way is to just present a view as “here is another way of looking at things.” The incorrect way is “here is the correct way of looking at things.” The former can cause people to think, the latter is a lecture and annoying. A good example of the former was House which often had each episode centered around a controversial topic but just presented the sides without picking one. Another is early seasons of the Simpsons which touched on such topics as immigration and guns without saying, “Here is what you should think about these.” One of the worst examples of lecturing I can think of, though, was Boston Legal. While I really like the James Spader and William Shatner characters, I had to stop watching that show because I couldn’t stand the Spader lectures. I think it was a lecture I agreed with that was the final straw. If you were to make a list of all the people you feel the need to know the political wisdom of, where would TV show writers fall on that list? So how much arrogance does it take for one to say, “Here is how you should think about things!”

And while it’s not the best example for this, I should point out in that Love Gov series I wrote, it was the bad guy constantly lecturing people. It was part of what made him intolerable.

So, in summary, touching on politics is okay in fiction, but only if you have something unique and interesting to say and you present it as “here’s an interesting way to look at things that you may not have thought of.” But if you get it in your head you have the truth and everyone must accept it, that’s where you get intolerable.

Was this a lecture? Yes. But if you were writing preachy politics into fiction, fell lucky you got off with just a lecture.

UPDATE: I should mention that Hellbender (which a number of you should have gotten a beta copy of) touches on politics a lot more than my previous two novels, but I’m hoping in the non-annoying way. That’s why I’ve also been trying to find left-leaning test readers.

Also, I’ve just started watching an inherently political show — Comrade Detective on Amazon Prime — which is positioned as one big political lecture (as that’s what propaganda is). It’s so absurd, though, that the political lectures are just stupid fun.

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Believing Science But Not Understanding It

I’ve seen a sad number of people of people (including Neil DeGrasse Tyson who is supposedly a scientist) compare predictions about when eclipses occur to predictions about climate change and its effects. Oh come on. If the eclipse doesn’t occur today based on predictions, how devastating would that be that science? Can you think of any similar prediction about climate change that if it ended up false would cause any ruckus at all?

This is so elementary it feels dumb I have to explain it, but the eclipse is a verifiable prediction based on a handful of steady factors — rotation of the earth, revolution of the earth around the sun, revolution of the moon. There’s a few other things that affect it in minor ways (the moon is slowly moving away from the earth) but using just those factors can give you a pretty accurate prediction.

Now what factors are needed in predicting climate change? Unknown. They’re still trying to figure it out, but they are numerous. The climate is already something constantly in flux (unlike the revolution of the earth) and there is certainly no record of making accurate climate predictions like predictions of eclipses. Because that’s so complex as to be impossible.

Again, this is really simple science concepts, and it’s sad people don’t understand them. Even if you think the science about climate change is pretty good, to put it anywhere in the vicinity of the science used in predicting eclipse makes you very very dumb. We always hear about the problem with people not understanding science who doubt it, but we never hear about the problem of people not understanding science who unquestionably believe whatever they think scientists said. Not believing something you don’t understand is natural. Trusting blindly in what you don’t understand is religion, and science is a really silly, capricious thing to form a religion around.

I really think science would do better if most people just ignored it beyond getting the occasional notification of when to watch an eclipse.

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Sympathy for the Devil

A little while ago I read Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning which is about Frankl’s time as an inmate in the Auschwitz concentration camp. It’s a very intense book where Frankl attempts to analyze both the inmates and the guards from a detached, psychologist perspective, but it’s certainly hard to even listen to and be detached. Frankl detailed so much cruelty and injustice I was constantly at the crossroads of rage and sadness, but what was odd to me was the part I had the most trouble listening to didn’t have to do with any of that. It was Frankl talking about how there were “good” Nazi guards and “bad” Jewish inmates.

Now, this is counter to anything we want to believe. Those being subjected to oppression are good and those inflicting the oppression — especially Nazis — are extremely evil. But if you’ve ever been around people before, you know things are not that simple. Not everyone in Nazi Germany was this horrible monster unlike everyone you’ve ever met before. But despite how sophisticated we like to think we are, we tend to gravitate toward black and white thinking on good and evil. And this seems to be the natural state of things judging by children.

A while ago, I was watching Pokemon with my daughter, and the evil Team Rocket got in trouble and the good guys — Ash and his team — ended up saving them from death. My daughter wondered why the good guys would save the bad guys. I told her that Jesus says we should love our enemies, and her eyes went wide. “What?!” That’s definitely not a natural inclination. It was also notable to me that the reaction of both my daughter and my brother’s daughter to the big reveal at the end of The Empire Strikes Back was to ask whether that was really true. Up until Darth Vader’s reveal, Star Wars had a very black and white morality, but finding out Darth Vader used to be good was the first bit of gray. And again, from a kid’s perspective, there’s only good and evil and the two don’t mix.

Anyway, I mention all this because I see a lot of push toward simplistic thinking on both sides these days, and all that does is block understanding. We have to recognize the good and the evil in everyone, which means looking for the good in those you oppose and the bad in those on your side. And the most important subject to identify the bad in is yourself. There’s a great danger in continuing to treat Nazis as some special, exceptional evil because they weren’t — they were people all like us. And those worst impulses that led to those horrors are impulses in each and everyone one of us. We think trying to stop the next Nazis means finding the special evil people in society and loudly identifying them, but what’s needed most is vigilance on ourselves.

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Saying “The Environment” Is Not the Same As Saying Abracadabra

From an article about the possibility of including cigarette butts in making bricks and asphalt:

Most importantly, both the bricks and the asphalt imprisoned the cigarettes’ toxic chemicals and prevented them from poisoning their surroundings.

“This research shows that you can create a new construction material while ridding the environment of a huge waste problem,” Mohajerani said.

Well… not so much “ridding” as “postponing until the brick & asphalt get torn up and thrown into a landfill”.

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