Injured and Dangerous

Alek Minassian

Alek Minassian, the man accused of killing ten people with a van in Toronto April 2018.

I must be living in a cave because I’ve never heard of Incels before.

According to Wikipedia:

Incels (a portmanteau of “involuntary celibates”) are self-identifying members of an online subculture who define themselves as unable to find a romantic or sexual partner despite desiring one, a state they describe as inceldom. Self-identified incels are mostly white, male and heterosexual,.Discussions in incel forums are often characterized by resentment, misanthropy, self-pity, self-loathing, misogyny, racism, a sense of entitlement to sex, and the endorsement of violence against sexually active people. The Southern Poverty Law Center described the subculture as “part of the online male supremacist ecosystem” that is a member of their list of hate groups,and self-described incels have committed at least four mass murders in North America.

Holy crap. That’s terrifying.

I follow the blog of author Steven Barnes which is how I came to read his article #NOTALLHUMANS (No, I’m not shouting, he has the title in all caps). I think I’ve heard the term “incels” before, but this was the first time I found out what it meant.

So naturally I went to his source material at We Hunted the Mammoth, which describes itself as:

Specifically, this blog focuses on what I call the “New Misogyny,” an angry antifeminist backlash that has emerged like a boil on the ass of the internet over the last decade or so. These aren’t your traditional misogynists – the social conservatives and religious fundamentalists who make up much of the far right.

These are guys, mostly, who range in age from their teens to their fifties, who have embraced misogyny as an ideology, as a sort of symbolic solution to the frustrations in their lives – whether financial, social, or sexual.

Okey dokey.

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Comic Books Have Gone Crazy

FF3

The cover of The Fantastic Four issue 3 from 1961

“I’ve kept a limited number of comic books from my youth, ranging from the 1960s to the 1980s, and occasionally take a few out and read them. I’m not really into comic books anymore, especially the current titles, and for a lot of reasons.

Originally, I started collecting them in the late 1960s when I was in Junior High, and I’d been reading them since I was old enough to read because they were so much fun. In the ’60s and ’70s, I was mainly into Marvel comics (Fantastic Four, Spider-Man, the X-Men and so on), but I rediscovered DC in the late 80s when they did the first reboot of their titles.

More recently, I used my local public library system and checked out Vertigo DC graphic novels such as V for Vendetta and The Watchmen as well as the Sandman (the Wesley Dodd costumed hero, not the other guy) because they were more edgy and I was an adult. In the case of the first two titles, I wanted to understand the basis for the films they became, and in the Sandman’s case, I just enjoy the character and the 1930s vibe.

I’ve kept in touch with how comic books have been morphing in more recent years, and generally give them a wide berth. The superheroes I once admired and who taught me about courage, innovation, and adventure, had become unrecognizable as well as unoriginal. Numerous reboots later, all of the old villains and storylines had been rehashed ad nauseam, just like what we see in both the film and television industries, and I don’t intend to pay for the privilege of being bored.

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Be Careful What You Tweet

roseanne barr

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – MARCH 23: Roseanne Barr at the “Roseanne” Press Conference at the Four Seasons Hotel on March 23, 2018 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Vera Anderson/WireImage)

Warning: This is a commentary, not a piece of fiction. If you came here for the fiction, this brief essay may not be for you.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the Roseanne Barr major twitter gaffe that got her show cancelled, the whole Colin Kaepernick “taking the knee” protests, and how ABC and the NFL have respectively responded to them, all in terms of Free Speech Rights.

First let’s get something out of the way. What’s the short definition of Free Speech Rights? According to Wikipedia, it is:

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution declares, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

It’s actually a lot more complicated and nuanced than that, but let’s roll with what I’ve just quoted.

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Rejection Newbie

rejection

Found at “The Zweig Letter” – no image credit listed

Hi, James,

[Story Title] was well received here, but we have decided it’s not quite what we’re looking for in the [name of publication/anthology]. Thanks for submitting it to us, and best of luck with finding a good market for it.

[Name of Editor]

Dear James,

Thank you for sending us [Story Title]. We appreciate the chance to review it. Unfortunately, the piece is not for us. Best of luck finding it a home elsewhere.

Things you might consider: The character is nice. The concept is familiar, but here there’s no real explanation of what happens. The backstory comes as something of an infodump.

Sincerely
[Name of Editor]

I’ve submitted eight short stories to various anthologies and periodicals during the month of April. The two quotes from above were emails I received from two separate sources rejecting…the same story.

That’s right. The same exact story was rejected twice within 24 hours.

To be fair, after I submitted it the first time, I waited weeks, and the response was actually very timely. I was waiting for a rejection of something. If you’re an author and you are sending in stories in response to an open submission, either it will be accepted or rejected. Rejection is inevitable.

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The Difference Between a Goal and a Dream is a Deadline

scifi

Science Fiction wallpaper found at imgur

Earlier today, I wrote and published the short story A Black Matter for the King just for myself, but later, I adapted it slightly so it could be a response to the First Line Friday writing challenge hosted at Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie.

Although it’s gotten several “likes,” no one has ventured to comment. That happens sometimes, and I suppose it doesn’t have to mean anything, but this story does have an overtly Christian character. He has volunteered to fight in the Vietnam War, both because he’s already had friends drafted into the service who have been sent over and died, and because he believes that as a Marine, he has to fight in our wars to keep the people back home, especially his family, safe, and so our nation can remain free.

Now those are all ideas that have fallen out of favor lately (or not so lately). I did have another character in the tale comment on how the Vietnam War did nothing to protect our nation’s people or their freedom. However, it wasn’t so much the purpose of the war that’s at issue, but rather my male protagonist having a certain set of values and a code of honor to uphold.

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Worlds: Stupid Sci-Fi Film Tricks, The Nuclear Option.

independence day

Poster from the 1996 film “Independence Day”

Periodically, I read fictional stories depicting the aftermath of a nuclear war as having devastating effects 500, 800, 1000 years or more afterward. But when I consult a credible source on the topic, recovery from such an event is considered relatively swift (months and years, not centuries). It is true that in the case of a “modest” nuclear war such as between India and Pakistan, nuclear winter (or significant cooling at any rate) would last years/decades, but afterward there would still be recovery.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying nuclear war is a good thing or that it shouldn’t be avoided, but it seems when a lot of folks consider the “unthinkable,” whether it’s nations using nuclear weapons or a person using a firearm in the commission of a crime, there’s a tendency to jump from zero to panic.

Huggins’ blog post reminded me of this, so I thought I’d do a reblog.

Oh, “Independence Day” is my favorite “Fourth of July” movie. Really, you can’t take it seriously. It’s just for fun.

G. Scott Huggins

A version of this post appeared earlier on my Patreon site, but I thought it was worth exploring here.

Let me introduce you to one of my pet peeves about SF movies in general, through that awesomely terrible film, Independence Day, a film that apparently existed for the sole purpose of trying to make Will Smith and Bill Pullman as President Lone Starr into badasses, if you kinda squint. Hard.

What was the funniest moment in Independence Day? Was it Will Smith’s “Welcome to Earth,” line? Brent Spiner’s performance as the clueless Area 51 boss? No, I suggest that it was the parts where humanity attempts to fight 15-mile diameter floating city-battleships with air-to-air missiles. It’s kind of a credit to the movie that when the shields go down and the missiles hit the targets that the response form the audience is a cheer rather than, “Wow, the humans scratched…

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A Not Entirely Objective Book Review: “The Handmaid’s Tale”

handmaid

Promotional image for Hulu’s television series “The Handmaid’s Tale

I just finished reading The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood and I can tell you it’s not a book you review without doing a bit of research. Of course I knew that going in.

I’ve been peripherally aware of both Atwood’s novel and the television series on Hulu but didn’t give either much attention. Then I read a few stories about this year’s Women’s March and noticed in the news photos amid women dressed in vagina hats and full-body vagina costumes, there were groups who wore the red and white wardrobe of the handmaids (I assume the protestors’ inspiration was more the TV series than the book but I have nothing with which to back that opinion).

Since the Women’s March largely is a protest against the administration of President Donald Trump, I became curious as to the connection (I already knew what the vagina costumes were all about).

Fortunately, my local public library system had a copy, so I reserved it and when it arrived at the designated branch, I eagerly began reading. I’m going to break down this review into sections both to make it more readable and to keep things straight in my head. It’s not that I found the book itself so complex, but there are wider social implications to consider.

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Your Pumpkin is an Invitation for Demons

jack o lantern

Found on a Facebook “Chuck Jones” group page

Oy. Here comes Halloween again and tons of controversies seem to be surrounding the event this year.

First off, I should mention I don’t celebrate Halloween for the most part. On the evening of October 31st, my wife and I make sure all the doors are locked, we close all of the window shutters, and turn out most of the lights. When the doorbell rings, we ignore it.

Not sure what the Missus does (probably reads), but I do allow myself to watch the original 1984 film Ghostbusters just because it’s so much fun.

We aren’t paranoid about Halloween. We don’t think it’s evil, or sinful, or horrible. We just aren’t into it.

But there are a lot of people out there who are going bonkers about Halloween.

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Why We Need to Disagree (at least occasionally)

ben shapiro

Ben Shapiro – Found at DailyWire.com

I’ve been thinking a lot about disagreements recently. I’m no saint. I’ve participated in all kinds of arguments lately regarding folks I disagree with. I’ve disagreed with a Massachusetts elementary school librarian who took exception to the First Lady donating Dr. Seuss books to her school. I’ve disagreed with a former CBS Vice President who didn’t seem to mind that the victims of the Las Vegas mass shooting were (apparently) country and western fans and thus Republicans, and owners of firearms. I’ve disagreed with lots of people in the past and probably will continue to do so.

I don’t doubt there are a lot of folks who disagree with me about my stance on certain issues. It’s uncomfortable. I don’t particularly like it. But that doesn’t mean disagreement is a bad thing. Actually, the ability to express disagreement is a good thing. We need to keep doing it.

Why do I believe disagreement is good you ask?

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The Night They Burned “The Cat in the Hat”

book burning

Found at Blunderbuss Magazine

The older couple held hands and cried at the book burning party. Like everyone else in town, they were compelled by government edict to attend and witness the “liberating” event. Only State approved books were allowed in schools anymore. The State had been collecting those publications deemed “racist,” “sexist,” and every other forbidden “ist” on their list and storing them in a warehouse near the town square just for this occasion.

Fortunately, children under six were exempt from attending, so their grandkids were spared this atrocity, being cared for at home by their son.

“How did the world come to this, Jeannie? I thought book burning went out with the Nazis.”

“There are always Nazis, Mike. They’re just called by different names.”

“What a terrible world we live in.”

“At least they’re not kicking down our front door and confiscating our library.”

“That’s true, darling. But we have to keep reminding the little ones not to tell their teachers what we read to them at home.”

“Do you think it will ever get better, Mike?”

“As long as we teach Jimmy and Autumn to grow up as critical thinkers, to trust themselves and those who love them rather than the State, then yes, it will. Someday they’ll be running the nation and then it won’t be the State anymore. It’ll be a free country again.”

“We won’t live to see it, will we?”

“Probably not, Jeannie, but our grandchildren will. Our hope for the future is in them.

I haven’t gotten blatantly political on this blog in quite some time, but I read a series of stories in social media this morning that bothered me, and when I’m bothered, I process my thoughts and emotions by writing (some authors have told me they are “blocked” when they become upset which just astounds me).

It all started with a story I found on Facebook published by a conservative news agency. I had to fact check it since news organizations that lean either one direction or the other politically and socially aren’t always totally trustworthy. I found the story published by a number of venues including the Washington Post and it’s called ‘Racist propaganda’: Librarian rejects Melania Trump’s gift of Dr. Seuss books.

You can click on the link I provided above to read the story, but basically, it tells the tale of First Lady Melania Trump donating some books to what I gather to be a rather posh public school in Cambridge, Massachusetts on the occasion of National Read a Book Day. Apparently, the school’s librarian Liz Phipps Soerio took exception to some of the donated books, specifically those penned by Dr. Seuss (Theodor Seuss Geisel). You can read Ms. Phipps Soerio’s letter to the First Lady at The Horn Book blog.

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