Nonsensical phrases

Here are a few nonsensical phrases that I hope never to see again:

“It’s just the right thing to do.” Or “That’s just who we are.” These phrases are a sanctuary for small minds, a refuge from having to think about things rather than just react. A favorite of certain power-mad professional politicians like Pelosi and Biden, these are actually nothing more than virtue-signaling, reducing complex sociological topics to cheap empty slogans, an expression of anti-intellectualism. Don’t use them. It’s like putting your own “Kick me I’m stupid” sign on your backside.

“Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” I don’t know where this came from and I don’t care, though probably ancient Hellas. That’s “Greece” to hoi polloi. That’s “the common people” to those who never studied Greek or Greece, “hoi” being a translation of “the”. So if you ever see the phrase “the hoi polloi”, you know at once that the writer knows no Greek. Let’s add “the hoi polloi” to the list of phrases I want to eradicate. Back to the gods. They — assuming they actually exist — don’t inspire madness. This is an ancient misconception that illness is due to divine punishment or an evil spirit. Madness is a medical condition, not a divine punishment, so forget that. And forget the phrase.

“The definition of insanity is doing the same over and over and expecting a different result.” That is not the definition of insanity, but the definition of democracy. Insanity comes in many different costumes and flavors with many different causes and cures. But if there is any truth hiding in those words, it must apply to the elections that are routinely held in so-called democratic countries. First, let’s acknowledge just for the record that there is no such thing as a democracy. All political entities known to researchers are run by elites, as were all political entities recorded in history. So there is not, and never has been, a democratic election in the U.S. or anywhere else. You don’t get different results through elections, you get deflated hopes.

Even in ancient Athens, where democracy was allegedly first conceived and practiced, the majority of the population were slaves who were not allowed any significant input into the political process. Even in Athens, every “democratic” experiment eventually failed and was succeeded by a tyrant who restored law and order to the chaos left behind by the supporters of democracy.

In the modern world, the Founders of the U.S. Constitution recognized clearly that democracy would only lead to chaos and this became apparent to everyone when the French Revolution broke out, which was followed by the Jacobin-inspired black slave revolt in Haiti when the formerly enslaved blacks massacred thousands of French whites, and many freed blacks. Today’s electorate who flock to the polls time after time expecting things to change in their respective American or European capitals are somehow always surprised when nothing changes. That’s because entrenched elites make policy, not temporary figureheads sent in on occasion by the public. For example, the American public has voted consistently since 1916 not to enter into any foreign war for any reason whatsoever. Yet the U.S. has plunged into at least 5 major wars since then, with it seems a sixth on the way as Biden sends American troops secretly into Ukraine. Just as FDR waged a secret undeclared naval war against Germany, and JFK waged a secret American war against North Vietnam by sending U.S. troops into South Vietnam and Laos and lying about it.

Every President since 1916 was elected on a “no foreign intervention” peace pledge. Woodrow Wilson declared he would never send a single soldier to Europe to fight in World War I. Yet within 18 months he entered the war. FDR swore he would not intervene in Europe, yet he did all he could to provoke an Axis attack on American ships and finally with Pearl Harbor got the pretext he wanted to jump in. President Truman was a middle-of-the-road candidate in 1948. Yet Truman leaped into South Korea to fight the Korean War in 1950. President Johnson was the peace candidate in 1964, beating the “war” candidate Major General Goldwater by a landslide. Yet in 1965 Johnson leaped into Vietnam with both feet after the false flag Tonkin Gulf incident and waged a vicious war for 4 long years. Today we are seeing a repeat of this. Trump was elected in 2016 as the peace candidate who pledged to close overseas bases and withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan and Syria and Iraq. Yet none of this occurred as the elites simply ignored his instructions. Now the militant Biden is in office and is sending U.S. troops secretly into Ukraine as an intervention in that border war, and his satrap Pelosi is stirring up a military confrontation with China. That is what’s insane.

Just as it is insane to spend trillions of dollars in special education programs trying to boost the test scores of blacks and hispanics when fifty years of “no child left behind” and similar programs have shown conclusively that test differences are rooted in genetic differences and such differences will always persist. Continuing such expensive programs year after year with the same starry-eyed hopefulness is what’s insane. Ditch the phrase. It’s nonsensical.

”China is run by engineers, the U.S. by lawyers.” This phrase is a favorite of so-called conservatives, who are trying to imply that China is better-run than the U.S. because their economy is not strangled by useless lawsuits. This is wrong on so many levels. First, the Soviet Union was also run by engineers, there being no lawyers anywhere in that political entity. The Soviet Union had no lawyers because its legal system did not acknowledge individual rights. There were no individuals, only collective organizations, and only those organizations had power. Its Constitution was merely a fig-leaf, only for show.

No lawyers means no laws. No laws means no Constitution for courts to enforce, which means capriciousness and arbitrary decisions decided on the basis of influence and power. No lawyers means no one is safe with their lives or their property. In the Soviet system private property was prohibited. The state owned everything and all economic activity was the result of organizations inside the state competing to acquire ever greater shares of limited and dwindling resources. The individual meant nothing, indeed one can say that in the Soviet system individuals were invisible and did not exist. Any attempt to secure even the most basic food and shelter was met with “Who are you with?”, meaning what group did the individual belong to, only groups having any claim even to food and shelter.

China is a different situation. Having emerged from a Communist system that was different from the Soviet Union, it managed to avoid the chaos that followed the collapse of the Soviet state. Today China has laws and lawyers to enforce them. But their role is limited and lawyers there can go to jail if they defend a political dissident. In China today it is the Communist Party that runs the state, not engineers. The Soviet system was also run by the Communist Party, but it had a cult of engineers who were free to impose their vision on the country. The results were the drying up of the Aral Sea, the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, and the outmoded oil industry which virtually collapsed during the Soviet era with tremendous waste of resources. In the movie “Things To Come”, adapted from the Fabian socialist H.G. Wells’s book of the same name, an engineer named Cabal at the end sets up a dictatorship of engineers. But in the end, the society collapses just as the Soviet Union did. This is what a society looks like when engineers are put in control.

Second, engineers are used to working with absolute quantities and things that are predictable and measurable. When it comes to a society and dealing with human beings, engineers miss the boat entirely and tend to imagine that a few grandiose infrastructure projects, or medical interventions with the latest vaccine-like genetic experiment, will satisfy everyone and guarantee progress. We call this “social engineering”. When engineers do social engineering it always fails. But when politicians do it, it often succeeds. It succeeds because social engineering is not engineering at all but propaganda and media conditioning.

The U.S. is run by lawyers for the simple reason that the U.S. has laws. China has just one jurisdiction for its centralized regime. The Soviet Union also had just one jurisdiction for its centralized regime. The U.S. has 50 jurisdictions with a unique set of laws in each one. Plus federal plus foreign relations. That’s 50 different jurisdictions that lawyers must master, plus those specializing in federal legal practice, plus those specializing in foreign or international practice, not to mention foreign laws which international lawyers must know. Not to mention immigration law which is another specialized field.

Yes, I fully agree that there are too many laws in the U.S. and too many lawyers. But the reason is because the U.S. is not centralized like other nations, but has something called “checks and balances” in its Constitution to prevent exactly the kind of centralization that Communists, and sometimes engineers, long for. Laws and lawyers are the guarantee of a republic that has done away with arbitrary oppressive commandments from a centralized elite. In theory at least. A few lawyers obviously are necessary and probably 90 % of lawyers could go into another line of work with society not suffering in the least.

Of course, 80% of lawyers don’t practice law anyway so it’s not like that would be a huge change from today. But to use the phrase “we’re run by lawyers” is to admit ignorance on how the U.S. is actually run. Government is a sausage factory for laws. Engineers and doctors are mechanics without the know-how for participating in law-making or governance. When doctors were bleeding patients with leeches and engineers were building ships out of sails and wood, lawyers were writing the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. The Constitution and lawyers are all that stand between the common citizen and anarchy or concentration camps. Without lawyers, doctors and engineers would never get paid and their professions would disappear.

Of course, if they truly wanted to know how things actually work in the U.S., other professions could get a law degree and many people of all backgrounds do obtain a law degree today because that has become the new high school diploma, and is a prerequisite to be an effective participant in government. Then they understand how the government works and no longer embrace such silly phrases. Most people, however, will never attend law school, partly because it is too intellectually demanding for most people, but more importantly because the U.S. populace is married to science and engineering and mistakenly believe that the solutions to society’s issues can be found in technology, therefore will always misunderstand how government and society work, and therefore the U.S. will always suffer from  attempts at “social engineering” by people used to dealing with quantities and will suffer its consequent upheavals.

 

Fixing Blame

Thank you Biden and Pelosi for helping us fix blame for Russia’s dispute with Ukraine: it’s all Trump’s fault! No, wait, it’s all Bush’s fault. No, wait, it’s all Reagan’s fault. No, wait, it’s all Nixon’s fault. . .

Mercedes Lackey’s

Mercedes Lackey’s

A Teaching Moment.

Far from the madding crowd dost today’s Social Justice Warrior write, embraced by global conglomerates and their cellophane orcs. I recently encountered a novel-writing thread on Quora hosted by a “flaming liberal” by name of Mercedes Lackey. I had only the vaguest notion of who this person might be, since I do my best to avoid any writer endorsed by mainstream publishing, not only to preserve my sanity but to retain my ability to compose a coherent sentence, something that seems increasingly to escape the capacity of corporate publishers fed as they are by today’s ‘progressive’ high schools.

Stumbling upon a comment by Mercedes Lackey that ” ‘cancel culture’ is an imaginary thing”, I posted a polite reply citing a few facts that she had apparently overlooked. The following was her reply to me — after ensuring that no one but me could read it, and after which she hastily deleted my comment and hers.

Stay classy, Mercedes… From the above it seems she was lying when she wrote ” ‘cancel culture’ is an imaginary thing”, for she clearly — and eagerly — endorses canceling others.

Since ability to spell must be characteristic of all cellophane orcs and not to be questioned, I also point out that there is no such word as ‘facist’, but only ‘fascist’, or more accurately ‘Fascist’. This was the political system erected by Benito Mussolini when he was Prime Minister in Italy between 1920 and 1944 when he was finally dismissed by the King, the word referring to the bundle of sticks representing the different parts of society that the ancient Romans, and the Fascist Party, united into a single nation, in defiance of Marxism, which splits society into fragments and uses the media (including large publishers) to incite them to do violence against each other. Fascist is not a pejorative, but an historical term that is of zero relevance today. There is Fascism and there is Marxism. There can be no more ‘fascist’ than there can be ‘marxist’. SJWs, who are generally poorly educated and tend to have difficulty spelling, composing coherent sentences, or knowing history, would not know any of this, and in my experience can be relied upon to shut down any conversation where they may be required to learn something.

Also, an authentic definition of “liberal” endorses a constitutional regime with free speech and free assembly and the integrity of elections. Social Justice Warriors like our SJW of the Day, Mercedes Lackey, and her lackeys, apparently do not endorse these things, which is why I assert that such are not liberals, but are lying when they claim to be liberals, and instead are members of the totalitarian PC Cult. A close reading of my forthcoming book ‘SJWs and the PC Cult’ should make the distinction clear.

Bad Habits of Beginning Writers

Bad Habits of Beginning Writers

(RE: latest on the Bubba saga, see below)

In my years hosting a writers’ critique group, I found that beginning writers frequently made the same writing mistakes, over and over. These were not necessarily due to inability or illiteracy, but simply to bad habits, habits that could be fixed. Here’s a brief summary of what I encountered.

Sentences all the same length. Readers are not machines, they need variety in input and, like many endeavors, writing is not a science, but an art. A writer must develop a feel for implementing variety in his/her writing. Make some sentences long. And some short. Like this. I have written long paragraphs consisting of a single sentence, followed by a single word in its own paragraph.

Here.

It relieves the eye.

Overusing conjunctions and similar “helping” words. Beginners love to sprinkle their writing with “began, but, and, so, still, also, then, finally, suddenly, even, that”, etc. These are as bad as a “case of the hads”, i.e., when beginners include a flashback to a previous incident and use “had” repeatedly throughout the flashback. This is unnecessary and overwhelms the reader with a pox of hads. The “hads” are a disease, cure your writing of these. Typically only the first sentence or two require “had”. The reader understands that s/he is in a flashback scene and doesn’t need to be inundated after that.

Conjunctions work the same way. Use “began” once or twice in a chapter, but no more than that. Obviously, “and” must be used often, but try to break up sentences to get rid of as many as possible.

Incomprehensible names for important characters. One attendee at my group was an Indian who used lengthy, complex names for his main characters. I understand that he wanted to remain authentic to Indian culture, but he was writing for an American audience. American readers will not bother with a name in a foreign language that is 20 letters long with multiple syllables. Strive for simplicity and names that are instantly memorable to your targeted audience.    

Using a Prologue. A prologue is used when a writer wants to portray dramatic action before developing his characters. In general, prologues should be avoided, especially because writers tend to expand them until they become as long as a complete chapter. This puts the cart before the horse. If you must have a prologue, restrict it to one or two paragraphs, then get on with the story.

Flooding the story with adjectives and adverbs. Beginners often get carried away with emotion when writing and they want to impart their emotion and involvement in the scene by including many adjectives and adverbs. These don’t help. They hinder. They are stumbling blocks for the reader. A writer should take them out, line them up, and mercilessly shoot them. And shoot “mercilessly” which I just wrote.

An obsession with dialogue tags. In general, a dialogue tag is a bad idea because it distracts the reader from the content of the dialogue. “I’m sorry, I wish I had better news,” Ralph said, dropping his gaze to the ground before eyeing the door and combing his hair in anticipation of anyone entering. The reader doesn’t need this tag. The most that should be written is “I’m sorry, I wish I had better news,” Ralph said, dropping his gaze. Better: “I’m sorry, I wish I had better news.” Ralph dropped his gaze. Or even better: “I’m sorry, I wish I had better news.” Period. Assuming we know who is speaking, “Ralph said” is unnecessary. Try to eliminate “he said, he replied, he asked, etc.”

Get rid of Exclamation Points. Or at least keep them to a minimum, or they lose their efficacy. Use them sparingly. For shouting!

And don’t write “period”, as I did above. A period terminate a sentence but if you write “Period.” as I did above, then you are doing the reverse, essentially a run-on. Same with “Full stop”. Writing this reverses the meaning of what you intend to communicate. But as with most rules, an exception can be made provided it is occasional. Very occasional. As in almost never.

For action scenes…

Break them up.

Knock them down.

Write the action…

One.

By.

One.

The reader will focus. And remember what s/he read.

Also, look out for “lead” versus “led”, and “lie” versus “lay”, and “its” verses “it’s”. Avoid using ‘s for plurals—a simple “s” or “es” is almost always correct. Avoid the modern obsession with ‘d as in “he’d” for “he had” or “he would”, and “she’d” for “she had” or “she would”. Most conjunctions are only appropriate when spoken in dialogue, and then only if consistent with the personality of the one speaking. And avoid Elizabethan gibberish like “thou”, “thy”, “thine”, etc. They are a worse tangle than a Congolese rainforest. Who needs them?

Remember “Less is more.” Meaning strive to write with brevity, eliminating as many superfluous words as possible. You are not Nathaniel Hawthorne. And your readers don’t have the spare time for reading that readers did in the 19th century. Modern readers want their stories short and to the point.

More. On. All. This. Later.

 

My upcoming titles:

Arktos bought the rights to two of my unpublished manuscripts. One is my BUBBA satire, the funniest sci-fi novel you will ever read about life in a “Woke” near-future from the standpoint of Bobby Cleatus Valentine Gray, or Bubba for short, a down-to-earth fellow who just can’t seem to do anything right and finally Goes For Broke. After receiving “an offer they couldn’t refuse” as a result of my original title: JIHAD BUBBA, it was finally decided to change the title to RED PILL BUBBA. So RED PILL BUBBA should shortly appear on Arktos.

My other Arktos book is SJWS & THE PC CULT, a sociological and historical analysis of the cult of “Wokeness”. The full title is actually SJWS & THE PC CULT: THE NEW WAR OF RELIGION given my view that the Cult is a new religion, but that was too long for the cover. BUBBA and PC CULT are twin projects, one fiction, the other faction, but definitely parallel in conception. And shoot “definitely”. Arktos Publishing – Upcoming Titles. (scroll down).

Terror House Press bought the rights to several of my other books. One is THE GLOW, a Stephen King type horror novel, previously unpublished. The others are the entire 3-book series the ADVENTURES OF MAGGIE, THE RADIATED LESBIAN NUN. This is a semi-political, sociological, sci-fi satire with JUDGE CRATER TAKES A POWDER, the first book in the series, scheduled for Terror House publication in late 2022.

Don’t forget my third publisher, TWB Press. QUANTUM MARLOWE is available on their site now, a novel about a quirky detective who gets caught up in multiple quantum universes as he investigates a murder. Go to the QM page on this website to see the many excellent reviews. Click here to buy QUANTUM MARLOWE now. In many ways, I consider QUANTUM MARLOWE one of the best books I have ever written. Click here to read the many excellent reviews.

 

 

What makes a best-seller?

What makes a best-seller?

As a Chinese philosopher once said, may you not live in interesting times. This was meant as empathy, since “interesting” signified social chaos and a decline of objective standards. Well, we live in an age of declining standards, just look at how many colleges are abandoning the SAT as a qualifying entrance exam.

Part of this wider social decline is any standards for what constitute quality writing. Today’s writing mirrors today’s Hollywood movie-making, which is to say that popular fiction has become puerile, obsessed with sex and violence, formulaic, populated by off-the-shelf stock characters, and utterly boring and predictable. 

I just read a brief article which proclaimed that 99.999% of every book written today (meaning every novel), will sell no more than 100 copies in the author’s lifetime, and zero afterwards when sales to friends and family dry up, while only 5,000 sold would make it a “best-seller”. This is certainly true. Forty years ago, when this writer was an editor for a fiction publishing house, no more than 50,000 books were being published annually. Today, that number has hit 1,100,000. And is still expanding. It seems everyone who can type a word today is putting out a novel, expecting publication to follow. But it is harder than ever to get published, and is almost as likely as winning a lottery.

Yet some people do get published. After years of writing breath-taking prose and wonderfully inventive plots, with enough rejection letters to plaster a wall from publishers who never glanced at my manuscripts, this writer is now published by three publishers. I have not produced a “best-seller” (at least not yet), but here are my modest observations on how this works:

First, ask yourself which you would rather do: sell a lot of trash in the style of what the Beatles’ disdainfully labeled “paperback writers”, or write something enduring that will make your life worthwhile and potentially attract a modicum of attention after you are gone. In this writer’s humble opinion, you cannot do both. Let’s face it: trash is what sells. In regards to sci-fi, this is no longer 1960 when a generation obsessed with science and the race to the moon produced an explosion of first-rate science fiction. Books like that no longer sell and can rarely find a publisher. Today’s average reader is more concerned with social issues than with hard science, with political correctness on Earth than with alien life. And books now must compete with video games and YouTube.

The publisher I worked for forty years ago even then had formulas for what they wanted to publish. If none of the avalanche of unsolicited manuscripts that arrived daily fit the bill for what the publisher wanted, and none ever did, then the publisher simply assigned the task to an in-house editor. For example, “Police stories are hot this year. Go write me a book about how what it’s like to be a policeman.” And that’s what the publisher published, with the editor using a pseudonym, all the unsolicited manuscripts going into the trash for a nice little bonfire in the parking lot, most of it unread.

Large publishers do the same thing today, except their criteria are much more stringent than 50 years ago. And if you expect them to put any money into advertising your book, their criteria will be precise down to the last period and what art is on the cover, and what message you are subliminally delivering. Best of all, if a movie is a blockbuster, then the publisher, which often will be owned by the same media corporation that produced the movie, will then write a book about the movie, on order from corporate HQ on-high. This is the best way to write a best-seller—fulfilling an order from a billionaire movie producer as part of their merch campaign.

But for mere mortals who are not writing on contract like a short-order cook, even if you are willing to share your minuscule portion of the profits with an agent, an editor, a proofreader, and even paying your own way to book-signings, your mss will still be rejected unless it checks off every box on the big media publisher’s list of prerequisites: no hard science; no strong male characters; a “rainbow” cast of good-gals (with one or two good-guys for “balance”); a dystopian collapse of civilization, zombies or vampires (preferably both, either separately or merged); the usual cast of evil white male villains who collapsed civilization, with either English or German or Southern White Trash accents; a horse-chase or a car-chase, or at least a rocket-in-space chase a la Star Wars; blue or green matriarchal peace-loving AmerIndian types who are “one with Nature” a la Avatar; and of course last but most important: a strong female lead who never holds a door open for anyone, most especially men, and never smiles, and who must be pictured on the cover holding a huge sword or futuristic gun (preferably both) and would never in a million parsecs be seen in the vicinity of babies or kids.

And if you actually do have aliens in your book, they had better be Just Like Us. Because today’s average reader doesn’t want her/his/xir’s moral Weltanschauung challenged by aliens who are actually alien any more than his/her/xir’s knowledge of science, since 2 + 2 = 4 is now a microaggression to the average reader of popular fiction. So hard science better not be in your manuscript. Oh, and the writer had better be something other than “a cis-gender male”, i.e., a normal man.

And for you who think that for popular selling it really makes a big difference what you put on that blank screen that will go between the covers, provided you can check off the laundry list of PC prerequisites… As case in point: a male member of a local writers’ club recently wrote a detective story. The fellow is a lawyer by profession, which means he can’t write a coherent sentence if his life depends on it and this was his first book—not to insult him, he’s a great guy and a friend and deserves everything good. But following the “algorithm” approach to writing, which begins with the principle “If you write for men, you’ll go broke,” he decided to self-publish. Rejecting putting anything on paper, and not wanting to waste his time with traditional publishers, he went straight for Kindle. He wrote his book in about a week (okay, maybe two) and it took another week to get his book on Kindle, giving particular attention to the cover. The cover had to have a picture of an adolescent girl, with angel-like wings, and a hint of down-and-dirt, in short, a cover aimed at sixteen year old female readers of .99c Kindles on cellphones. He then hired a team of middle-aged women who specialize in talking up Kindles on Facebook. Three months later he had made $53,000 in sales. My book, The Selk King, took me four years to write. It’s aimed at highly educated men who know both Conan and Plato. It has not made $53,000. My top-seller, OTOH, a sci-fi pot-boiler titled “Frenzy”, took me only three weeks. It was great fun writing, but there’s no philosophy in Frenzy, just fun characters and lots of action.

Well, that about says it all. Physical book publishing today is big business, and large publishers are almost always owned by one of the big six Hollywood media monopolies, actually one single monopoly for all practical purposes, and therefore push the Hollywood PC agenda, usually in conjunction with their other big media venues, which includes large teams that talk up their bad books on social media. If you are not part of the PC crowd, and write true books of quality that you hope will outlive you, and not crappy Kindles that will vanish with yesterday’s news, then my advice is to avoid the cellophane corporate media publishers, or any other publisher infected with the PC virus. The age of novel-writing as a gentleman’s occupation with books published by small, part-time, non-profits run by retired gentlemen who just want good literature to see the light of day, is long gone, while the age of self-published junk is rising exponentially. But thankfully there are still a few publishers around who are not contributing, by marketing their trash, to making the present age more “interesting”.

My upcoming titles:

Arktos has bought the rights to two of my unpublished manuscripts. One is JIHAD BUBBA, the funniest sci-fi novel you will ever read about life in a “Woke” near-future. The other is SJWS & THE PC CULT, a sociological and historical analysis of “Wokeness”. Click here to keep up with the latest updates on both titles Arktos Publishing – Upcoming Titles. (scroll down)

Terror House Press has bought the rights to several other books. One is THE GLOW, a Stephen King type horrornovel, previously unpublished. The others are the entire 3-book series the ADVENTURES OF MAGGIE, THE RADIATED LESBIAN NUN. This is a semi-political, sociological, sci-fi satire. Click here: Terror House Press – Coming Soon then scroll down to “To Be Announced” where you will see all four of these novels listed.

Don’t forget my third publisher, TWB Press. QUANTUM MARLOWE is already available on their site, a novel about a quirky detective who gets caught up in multiple quantum universes as he investigates a murder. Click here to buy QUANTUM MARLOWE now: http://www.twbpress.com/ In many ways, I consider Quantum Marlowe the best book I have ever written.

 

 

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