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westfargomusings

Evolution isn't working fast enough. More dumbasses need to be shot.

Month

February 2015

Gateway drugs

The Star Trek novels were my gateway drug. A lot of the SF/F authors I read early on I was introduced to by way of Star Trek, in particular the Pocket books that came out beginning with  Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Not that I got around to reading the novelization of the movie for a couple of years. When the movie came out I was only in 2nd grade. And even though one of my earliest reading experiences was reading the Star Wars novelization out loud to my parents/grandparents (I started with the dogfight around the Death Star because that was the most exciting part of the movie for me) most of my reading at that time was much more limited. I couldn’t really be running over to an adult to tell me what a word was every 5 minutes. I’d get frustrated and they’d get annoyed.

But, by the time Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan came out in 1982 I was almost ready for that level of difficulty. I was still hitting The Hardy Boys pretty hard back then, a paperback copy of Night of the Werewolf being one of my prized souvenirs from a family vacation to Winnipeg. But, after the movie I started reading the Star Trek Log books by Alan Dean Foster. I think I read the first four volumes before I realized there was a cartoon series they were based on. That fall, for my birthday, my parents got me a copy of The Abode of Life. By then I was hooked. I sought out a bunch of the other books in the series, and from previous series. Spock Must Die! by James Blish captivated me. But, it wasn’t until I got to My Enemy, My Ally by Diane Duane and Ishmael by Barbara Hambly that I started thinking ‘you know, these people can really write’. While the Foster books were entertaining for a kid, they didn’t strike me as great stories that really spoke to me like Blish had.

I searched our library, which really had a pretty decent fiction section, for other stories by some of these authors, but other than Alan Dean Foster they didn’t really have much. By the time I was in junior high and could ride my bike all the way out to the mall (shush, don’ t tell my parents), about 4 miles each way with the river valley between, and get to the book store. That was when I was able to get my hands on more of these authors (and a lot more Star Trek novels as well). They had all three novels in Barbara Hambly’s The Darwath Trilogy (wizard sitting there with a beer in his hand blew my mind). And I kept my eyes out for other stuff of hers. The Witches of Wenshar was good, but she blew me away with Those Who Hunt the Night. I count the James Asher series as my favorite vampire novels. Bride of the Rat God is excellent as well. Really, I’ve yet to read one of Hambly’s novels that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. Continue reading “Gateway drugs”

Trusting the government

I’m not paranoid. Really, I’m not. I just don’t trust the government.

Given the new Net Neutrality missive by the FCC, I’m apprehensive about the future of internet communications. Since they won’t release the details on how they plan to govern I’m less than confident the FCC’s new Net Neutrality will be simply enforcing ISPs to allow all internet traffic through at the same speeds.

Then there is the whole NSA phone data collection that has been going on for years, and doesn’t appear as if it’s going to stop anytime soon. And the fact that the NSA is handing info over to other agencies doesn’t sit well with me in terms of my data privacy.

Earlier this month I made a comment on another blog run by someone else that I wouldn’t trust the government given the track record of it’s abuses (at all levels) with regards our information. “Given Governmental abuses of records from Watergate to the recent IRS scandal about tax exempt entities and the Minnesota officers that accessed Anne Rasmussen’s Driver’s License information I don’t have a lot of faith in it’s ability to not abuse information it gets it’s hands on.” Mr. Wizard seemed to have a difficult time comprehending what I said, as his response was rather, oh shall we say, mis-informed. “Dude, really? Watergate, where the POTUS was facing impeachment and resigned? The IRS non-scandal, as when all records were reviewed, no political abuses were found, only frauds were prevented from becoming tax exempt. Then, you conflate federal government with state government, which are entirely two different things. For reference, do read our Constitution. I did at least twice per year of military service to this once great nation. Once great because ignorance is killing it.”

You see, even though the Watergate burglars got caught and Nixon ended up resigning, the abuse still happened. The whole point of the Watergate hearings was to find out what abuse occurred. Nixon was facing impeachment and resigned only because the abuse occurred.

And the IRS targeting certain groups is a ‘fact’, as the Inspector General’s report concluded. Lois Lerner even admitted to inappropriate conduct on May 10, 2013.

And since I had earlier specified all levels of government, not just Federal, I did include state/local government in the abuses of private citizen information. Specifically, the Anna Rasmusson scandal where officers from multiple agencies logged into a state DMV database to view her drivers license photo. And it’s apparently not an isolated event as this story from Florida on Donna “Jane” Watts shows.

Color me unimpressed Mr. Wizard, I don’t think you stayed very well informed of what government employees do with your information. These are just a few of the instances where government, at all levels, oversteps its bounds and abuses information in its hands. If you trust the government with your information, I think you’re probably either naive or ignorant to what’s going on.

A FAN in my own way

File 770 says you aren’t a real fan unless you color in the appropriate boxes on the test. As I’ve said before, more people need to be told to FUCK OFF.

I grew up on Science Fiction and Fantasy. I was just a wee tyke when Luke and Han rescued Leia. One of my earliest memories of learning to read was reading the novel of Star Wars out loud to my parents and grandparents, demonstrating I COULD read and being darn proud of it.

I read Tolkien and C.S. Lewis. I read Terry Brooks and created my own maps and even made clay relief maps out of flour, salt and water.

I watched re-runs of Star Trek on Saturday afternoons with my parents, then read the Star Trek Log novels before I realized there was an animated show of it. I read the Pocket Books tie-in novels and was introduced to Diane Duane, John M. Ford, A.C. Crispin, Vonda McIntyre, Barbara Hambly and many others who I then sought out their non-Star Trek novels.

As I got older I discovered Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke on my parents shelves and devoured those as well. Then came Michael Crichton and Greg Bear and Ben Bova. I found Heinlein in High School along with Bruce Sterling and William Gibson.

I played D&D on the computer. That dang island in Pool of Radiance took me forever to figure out.

Then I got to college and was introduced to Orson Scott Card and Tad Williams. Could those two be any farther apart in politics? Yet, they both craft immensely interesting and engaging stories.

And all the while growing up I never once considered the political leanings of my favorite authors. Their private lives are completely irrelevant to their ability to entertain me. It’s only in the last few years since I’ve been on Facebook that I’ve discovered their political and social leanings, their sexual orientations, their diet and views on animals, etc.

In all, I still really don’t care about that stuff as long as they can tell a good story. But, that does seem to be lacking, at least in my view, over the last several years. It used to be that seeing the Hugo or Nebula badge on the cover was an indication of a good story. Now, those stories that are winning aren’t really my cup of tea. In fact, outside of Baen Publishing authors, I’ve only purchased one SF novel written in the 21st century. And that was Andy Weir’s The Martian, which was originally indie published. I’ve picked up some free offerings of various indie SF/F authors, but haven’t gotten around to actually reading them yet. Most of what I read is 1999 or before. And looking at the Amazon rankings for SF/F books, it looks like quite a few other people are in the same boat.

So yes, I am a fan. And I do want to see the two most prestigious awards in SF/F become relevant again.

Who am I? I’m a fan and proud of it!

Yes, you can be a fan without attending conventions or reading/seeing/playing the latest books/movies/games in the genre.

Otherwhere Gazette

This morning, I wrote a post for Mad Genius Club that expanded some on Pat’s “Not a Fan” post. I’ll admit that it was done in the early stages of getting enough coffee in me – a necessity to function anywhere close to normal – and while in high dander after reading File 770’s response to Pat. You see, there is little that gets my dander up quicker than someone trying to tell me I can’t do something simply because I don’t fit into their neat little pigeon holes.

Now that I’ve been up for a bit, and have had the chance to look at the comments to my post, something else has dawned on me. The very thing the gatekeepers of fandom—those folks who want to tell us we aren’t real fans because we don’t go to enough cons or read the right magazines, etc.—are the reason for the…

View original post 894 more words

New York Times anti-gun agenda not limited to editorial page

A judge makes a good, and very important, ruling and most of the media skip it? Color me shocked!

Starvin Larry

Via David Codrea..

The Wednesday ruling that the federal ban on interstate handgun transfers is unconstitutional, and that Attorney General Eric Holder and ATF Director B. Todd Jones have been enjoined from enforcing that provision of the Gun Control Act of 1968, is unquestionably huge news. While no one knows at this point what an appeal will result in, the “strict scrutiny” standard employed by U.S. District Court Judge Reed O’Connor and his definitive opinion that the ban “is unconstitutional on its face” is sending shock waves through the citizen disarmament community, trying its best to downplay the significance of this setback to their goals.

Case in point: Here’s the Everytown Twitter feed. Do you see any mention of the Feb. 11 ruling? Ditto, not a word on their Facebook page. And here’s Everytown’s “In the News” web page. How about there?

It’s almost like they…

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Speaking About The Unspeakable: Daniel Patrick Moynihan Still Right on the Black Family After All These Years

Peace and Freedom

The warnings that Daniel Patrick Moynihan sounded 50 years ago have come true. Will liberals ever forgive him?

By Jason L. Riley
The Wall Street Journal

  Daniel Patrick Moynihan, President Nixon’s assistant for urban affairs in 1969.

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, President Nixon’s assistant for urban affairs in 1969. Photo: Corbis Images
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Will liberals ever forgive Daniel Patrick Moynihan for being right?

Next month marks the 50th anniversary of the future senator’s report on the black family, the controversial document issued while he served as an assistant secretary in President Lyndon Johnson’s Labor Department. Moynihan highlighted troubling cultural trends among inner-city blacks, with a special focus on the increasing number of fatherless homes.

“The fundamental problem is that of family structure,” wrote Moynihan, who had a doctorate in sociology. “The evidence—not final but powerfully persuasive—is that the Negro family in the urban ghettos is crumbling.”

For his troubles, Moynihan was denounced as a victim-blaming racist bent on undermining the…

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