• Category Archives Hubris
  • Brave and Responsible Syrians

    13 Syrians die attempting to rescue foreign journalists from Homs
    13 Syrians die attempting to rescue foreign journalists from Homs

    In the days after the 9/11 attacks I was treated to footage of ecstatic crowds on the ‘arab street’ celebrating our tragedy. This joined the many years of footage from places like Israel and Lebanon depicting the joy with which the ‘arab street’ greeted suicide attacks, bombings of innocent civilians, and the murder of men in wheelchairs.

    I saw this unseemly glee condemned by responsible members of the muslim world who were, unfortunately, extremely thin on the ground and very short on action or even calls to action against the responsible groups. I was told again and again that the atrocities committed by the few extremist jihadis, were not in line with the teachings of the Koran and should be condemned by all true muslims. Yet the attacks continued unabated and evidently unopposed by the nations and communities from which the jihadis sprang and operated. In fact, quite the reverse, in ‘Palestine’ the people put the murdering terrorist group Hamas into power in a popular election. And other murderers enjoyed a kind of Robin Hood status in muslim communities around the world, their faces adorning boxes of children’s candy and cereal like a wheaties sports hero among a hundred other things.

    This soured in my soul.

    However, during my service in the Middle East, in Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan I met and worked with local people in all three countries who were brave and committed to the principles of peace, personal responsibility, and the rule of law.  They exist.

    Now we have this story. Syrians putting their lives on the line to resist the murdering regime and fulfill their human duty to correct the reprehensible actions of other members of their community.

    I salute those Syrians fighting for freedom. I would gladly deploy again to help them in their struggle.


  • Breaking the Law

    This story has set me thinking.

    To summarize: Man comes home to find his home burglarized. Man sees the burglar crawling out of his neighbor’s window. Man yells at the burglar to ‘Freeze’. Burglar does not freeze. Man fires handgun into the ground and repeats his command to freeze. Burglar freezes until cops come and arrest him. Man is charged with ‘reckless conduct’ which carries the same penalty as the burglar will get for his two counts of burglary.

    What is wrong with this picture? So many things.

    My first answer is obvious. The Man should not be charged with reckless conduct. He acted wisely, courageously, and responsibly. He stopped a burglar from getting away with his ill-gotten gains and also prevented the burglar from committing further burglaries, adding to the safety and security of his community. Bravo. On top of that, if the guy crawling out of his neighbor’s window had NOT been the burglar, the worst that would have happened is one citizen being detained by another for a few minutes. So, the Man was doubly responsible for not shooting the guy since there was no way for him to know for sure that the dude in the window was the burglar. Double bravo.

    Yet, his actions do fall under the legal definition of reckless conduct. And I think I’m OK with a law against discharging firearms in residential neighborhoods. And I’m also OK with their being a law against detaining random people at the point of your gun. It gives the cops something to throw at the asshole being stupid with his legally owned guns. This result, however, I am not OK with.

    So what to do? The answer, obviously, is to show some common sense.  The Man should simply never have been charged. Someone in that police department or prosecutor’s office didn’t have the stones to take personal responsibility for the situation and simply say, ‘The Man acted properly, he shall not be charged.’

    Yet, more objections can be raised. Am I really advocating that the law be selectively applied at the human whim of the government? I suppose I am. It’s not as bad as it sounds though. This selective application of the law is an inescapable effect of allowing ourselves to be ruled by laws.

    We’re simply not capable of writing laws that would lead, mechanically, precisely, to the just outcome in every case. Can you imagine the wording of a law that would prohibit dickwads from firing their guns into the air in residential neighborhoods but yet would be granular enough to not catch the Man in their net?

    It all comes down to actual humans applying common sense. Always.


  • Enlisted men

    “Enlisted men are stupid, but extremely cunning and sly, and bear considerable watching.”

    U.S. Army’s Officer Guide, 1863

    A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He spotted a man below and reduced enough altitude to where the man could hear him and shouted:  ‘Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but i don’t know where I am’. The man below replied, “You’re in a hot balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude”
    “You must be an NCO”, said the balloonist

    “I am, replied the NCO, “How did you Know?”

    “Well, ” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and I’m still lost. I won’t get to where I’m going with the information you gave me.”

    The NCO below responded, “You must be an Officer”

    “I am”, replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

    ” Well,” said the NCO, “you don’t know where your are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now somehow, it’s my fault.”


  • We don’t need no stinking mattresses!

    Complaints.comOn Thursday before my last drill weekend my wife started looking for a couple of twin mattresses and box springs for my two boys. We’re changing their sleeping arrangements. She found two for sale on KSL.com. A deal was struck. She and her mother showed up at the seller’s house with her dad’s pickup truck.

    The seller rolled up his garage door to reveal a plethora of mattresses in heaps and rows filling his garage. There were the two twins on the front row.

    But, lo and behold, a Certa  King mattress presided over one corner of the stack.

    “How much for that one?” my wife asked.

    Because it had fallen on the ground at some point it was slightly smudged. For this reason, the seller said he would let it go for $95. An excellent price.

    “I’d like to buy that one too,” says wife.

    “Excellent,” says the seller.

    “I only have the $100 dollars for the two twins but I can get you the other $95 later today.”

    “Excellent,” again. Money was offered and received.

    The two twins and the King, sadly, would not all fit in the pickup my wife and her mother had brought.

    “Not to worry,” says the seller. “I will deliver all three tomorrow and you can give me the $95 for the king then.”

    “Wonderful,” says my wife. “Thank you so much.”

    “No problem,” says the seller.

    The next day, Friday, comes and goes with many phone calls between wife and seller but no delivery.  Wife starts to get a little nervous because she has paid $100 but has no mattresses.

    Continue reading  Post ID 856


  • First Fanmail

    Armored CoverThis only ever happens once in a writer’s career. The first fanmail arrives and your world changes forever.
    Maybe I’m making too big a deal of it. I don’t know. It feels like a big deal to me. There’s someone out there, whom I’ve never met, that likes the story I wrote. Likes it enough to go to the trouble of emailing me to tell me so.
    Huge.
    The email in question came in on Jan 5 2012. It was short and to the point:

    I just finished reading ‘Heuristic Algorithm and Reasoning Response Engine’ in E-arc of Armored and wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed it. Thank you and keep up the good writing. I can’t wait to find more of your work.

    He bought the e-arc of Armored from Baen, here:  http://www.baenebooks.com Notice that there are many other e-books from other excellent Baen authors also available.

    So, a huge shout out to my first fan, JM.  Thanks dude, I will literally never forget you, creepy as that sounds.

    If it makes you feel better I will probably never forget my first hatemail either. There’s no way to tell when it will happen but, given the nature of the internet, it surely will.

    I’m kind of excited about that too.


  • Racism as a Disease

    smallpox victimAt one time, small pox was a big thing. It was horribly contagious and it was usually fatal. It needed to be stamped out. Vigorously.

    As a culture we did that. We campaigned against it, vaccinated everyone we could and were ruthlessly efficient about it. As it’s prevalence began to fade we pursued it into the dark corners and vaccinated it out of existence. We never rested until it was gone gone gone.

    We wiped it out. Not only did we wipe it out, we still have the vaccines and occasionally groups of people still get vaccinated against it. I, for one, have been inoculated and I bore the third eye for two weeks as proof. We have not forgotten.

    I see racism following a very similar path.

    Racism is by no means stamped out. We are not at the end of that struggle and since racism is an idea instead of a physical organism we may never see the end as we did with small pox.

    But it is in the later stages of the stamping out process. I think we’re over the hump. Racism is retreating to the dark corners and we are pursuing it, ruthless as ever. I fervently believe that someday we’ll get it all.

    Unfortunately we’re seeing a phenomena with the struggle against racism that we did not see with the one against smallpox. There are people who make a profit from the struggle rather than the cure.

    Some folks take donations to help further their cause in the political fight against racism.

    Some people sell things that purport to further the cause. Things that promote diversity and expand other people’s minds. Books, Music, Magazines, etc…

    Some people simply enjoy a bit of positive notoriety and media buzz because of their penchant for speaking loudly and voluminously about the evils of racism.

    All of these people, as truly angelic as some of their intentions may be, have a vested interest in racism as a going concern. They make money as long as racism is something that must be trumpeted from the rooftops and rabbleroused against.

    Such people tend to see racism, or at least say they see racism, where there is none.

    This is as damaging to the struggle against racism as it would have been had the pharmaceutical companies attempted to turn every cold, every flu, and every sniffle into a smallpox outbreak.

    People would have stopped listening. They would have started to doubt the dangers of smallpox. Let’s not go there folks.

    Racism is real. Let’s keep it that way.


  • A Way to Look at National Debt

    “You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity.
    What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving.
    The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else.
    When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation.
    You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it.” – Adrian Rogers, 1931

    So, the paragraph below is what I first posted after that quote. I, frankly, hadn’t had enough time to do more than peruse the headlines on the matter. My mother shortly reached down my gullet and yanked out the liberal talking points I had swallowed. It honestly never occurred to me, even after all these years, that the left and their puppets in the media would lie so blatantly. Fool me a hundred times I guess.

    The Tea Party and its fellow travelers may have picked a poor time and place to make a stand on taxes and the debt limit. By my understanding the obligations which the debt limit had to be raised to meet were already extant, already on the books, already spent. People were owed money and had to be paid. Paying our debts was the right thing to do, as it always is.

    In point of fact the government  (read presidential administration) could have started cutting programs and firing people, or, more pragmatically, directed their underlings to do so all the way down the chain, and crested under the debt ceiling. They chose not to do this and instead excoriated with vast sprays of scorn those who suggested that perhaps we ought not to be spending so much money.

    Bloody ridiculous. When you’re spending so much you’re approaching your credit limit you stop the spending. You cancel the cable. You tell little Susie she’s going to have to practice the violin at home for awhile as lessons are out of reach. Maybe you sell the violin. You don’t simply raise your credit limit. Unless you’re stupid.

    “But where do you cut? Which children do you send away hungry?” Excellent question. Better start figuring it out now ’cause things are not going to get better with more government spending. See the above quote.

    The root problem is still the same, the government spending far far more than it takes in. (Notice I did not say ‘makes.’ The government does not make money.) And that problem has not even been touched. The current administration is spending more, faster, than any administration previous and they make the argument everyday that the only answer to the economic problems of the country is to spend yet more. I don’t buy it.

    In spite of all the obfuscation streaming from the left and the right alike, spending more than you make is unsustainable. The solution to approaching the credit limit on your credit card is to stop spending so much bloody money, not raise the limit. If you have to raise the limit to make your mortgage, do so, and then put your house up for sale and start looking for apartments that you can actually afford. If you start badgering your employer for a raise because you can’t afford your lifestyle, he’s likely to laugh in your face and tell you the same thing. Stop spending so much money. Unfortunately, our government does its badgering of its employer, us, from behind a gun, and they want their money.

    The cold heart of the matter is that we are looking at the approaching end of our way of life and government because that government won’t stop spending too much  money, much of it on ridiculous bullshit programs.

    I’ve had friends yell at me and accuse me of killing innocents over this issue. The first place the left reaches to cut the budget is always defense, one of the most clearly appropriate venues for the spending of taxes. I suspect they do this because they know the military doesn’t vote for them and largely places the welfare of the country over their own personal convenience. And the other folks on the payroll?: GS drones, welfare recipients, academia, etc…overwhelmingly vote democrat. When you must pay for votes to stay in power, cutting spending is unlikely at best. See the quote above.

    Currently I’m suckling from the government teat. I’m in the National Guard on full time orders. I’ve deployed to combat three times. My full time job with the guard also involves me risking my life for this country. I’ll volunteer again. Cut my job. Do it. I dare you. If it’s part of reigning in the insanely out of control spending we’re perpetrating right now I’ll welcome it with open arms.

    And you know what? I’ll land on my feet with another job, probably making more bloody money, and I’ll still vote republican because as ridiculous as they are lately they’re still better than the left.

    A MODEST PROPOSAL

    Stop all foreign aid. All of it. Every dime. Our house is not in order and we, frankly, need to put that first. Take all the foreign aid money and start shoveling it against the debt. Anybody know how much we spend in foreign aid every year? I don’t. I don’t have time to figure it out either. I’ve got a bloody job.

     


  • Hugo Awards 2011

    I have voted on them. This is the first year I’ve managed to read a lot of the works up for the awards and thus felt good about judging the categories.

    I’m not going to detail some of the categories. Some I will.

    I put “Feed” by Mira Grant in the number one slot for Best Novel and I felt her vision, clarity, and sheer pizzazz carried it by a wide margin.  The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin came in second. Not much to say about the others. They were all good books.

    I wanted to punch Connie Willis in the face when I got to the end of Blackout, or rather, the non-ending that tailed off that side of the book. But I understand that’s her publisher’s fault for splitting the book at the last minute rather than her own. That’s the rumor I heard anyway. I’ll go with it because punching old ladies in the face isn’t really an option.

    For Best Novella I tapped “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window” by Rachel Swirsky because it was awesome, sweeping, and painted so concretely for me that I feel like I was there. Again, all the entries were fine, fine stories, a few nearly as good as Red Flowers.

    Best Novelette, went to “That Leviathan, Whom Thou Hast Made” by Eric James Stone because it struck so close to home for me. I can’t truly occupy any viewpoint but my own and Eric sits right next door. The story spoke to me and he’s a brave man for bringing religion into it. Bravo, sir.

    Short Story totted up in favor of “For Want of a Nail” by Mary Robinette Kowal  very closely followed by “Ponies” by Kij Johnson. Nail stands on its own, Ponies may take a bit of explaining. It’s one of those stories that could be brushed aside as merely shocking for shock’s sake if it wasn’t so horribly resonant with my own experience of the world. Let us not be the bully ponies in our own lives…

    Big fan of Writing Excuses and Schlock Mercenary, no surprise there.

    Best Dramatic Presentation, Long Form I gave to Inception, followed by Toy Story 3. I put Scott Pilgrim at the bottom because I wasn’t equipped to appreciate it. I’ve never lived the shallow bachelor life, sometimes to my regret but not very often, and the characters all fell flat for me for, probably, that reason.

    I voted on a couple other categories  but my reasons are shady and kind of blurry so we’ll leave those alone.

    Best new Writer? I’m friends with two of the nominees so I’m not saying who took 1 and who took 2. One of them is liable to shoot me from more than 300 yards out and the other just might bury me alive in his backyard. I don’t need that kind of pressure.

    Next stop Worldcon! Kind of…